Beauty Scars

Measuring the wounds of outdoor adventure.

For guys, scars are proof of adventure, daring, experience, and ruggedness—unintended tattoos announcing their manhood. But for ladies, it’s a little different. Our outdoor battle scars are stories—not the kind we brag about, but the kind we re-tell with plenty of self-depreciative eye-rolling. They’re conversation starters about funny mishaps, good-but-goofy days in the backcountry, and the guys who got us into trouble. The adventure aspect is a mere side note. No matter how terrifying the wounds were at the time, after 50 applications of Mederma, our stories garner more gasps and giggles than admiration.

But it’s not just about the kick our friends get out of the story—we ladies kinda like the permanent wearable reminders. In a way, the scars refresh our memories of events and adventures we wanted to remember anyway. Bozemanite Molly Ward once yawned her way up a late-afternoon Bridger Bowl chairlift ride with a stranger who advised her to call it a day. “I then proceeded to face-plant as only a telemarker can, at the bottom of Three Bears in full view of the lift,” says Ward. Now, a slight slash across her chin reminds her to quit while she’s ahead. (Not that losing “a ton of blood” stopped her from skiing the next day, of course.)

Sonya Iverson’s scar reminds her just how lucky she is. An avid rock climber, cliff jumper, beginning ice climber, and frequent highliner (if you haven’t heard of the sport, it’s walking a slackline across canyons hundreds of feet deep), Iverson has miraculously garnered just one scar from the past 10 years—and she got it crossing her backyard. When her boyfriend partially buried a deer skull in their garden, Iverson wound up with an antler sticking out of the top of her foot. But a fingernail-sized half-moon ding is pretty good for a girl who texted us her tale from a highline.

Sonya isn’t the only one whose scar reminds her of an injury-inducing dude. As part of a harrowing first date, Ellen Lyon followed a serious mountain biker around the Lewis and Clark Caverns trails. It was her first ride, and she crashed repeatedly, tearing open a knee and gaining bonus bruises on the requisite Jefferson River bridge-jump afterwards. “Now I have a mood scar on my knee—it changes colors!” she says. She now has a serious mountain biker boyfriend (one who is now dutifully and somewhat sheepishly nursing her through knee surgery).

We ladies could probably take a cue from the dudes—our scars really are proof of plenty of days spent outside getting after it. And we’re pretty burly to have earned them. But so what? We’d rather have our skin scratches as silly story starters and poignant reminders to ourselves. Our scars aren’t exactly badges of honor for us, but they are signs of a life well lived. It’s a goofy, sometimes embarrassing, usually fun life, fraught with bozo boys (who we love anyway), hilarious wrecks, and the occasional half-buried deer skull.