From Shasta to Nepal, Women Take the Lead

The Salmon Will Run

Shadia Fayne Wood, Olivia Abtahi, Survival Media Agency | 2017 | 16 min.

Mothered by Mountains

Renan Ozturk, Ben Ayers, Patrick McDaniel, Camp4 Collective | 2017 | 16 min.

As I stood upon Mt. Shasta during a recent weekend adventure, watching the sunrise cast a shadow across her western slopes reaching out towards the Trinity Alps, I couldn’t help but be reminded of not one, but my two favorite Wild & Scenic Film Festival films from 2018: The Salmon Will Run and Mothered by Mountains.

The Salmon Will Run is the story of Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu tribe and the journey to bring their salmon back to their homeland of the McCloud River Watershed and beyond. Though they are not a federally recognized tribe and are small in numbers, the Winnemem Wintu have made tremendous strides in achieving their mission.

The story of the Winnemem Wintu was on my mind due to my presence in their traditional homelands – especially camping along the McCloud River. I thought of Chief Caleen Sisk who, along with the Winnemem Wintu, have galvanized people across the country, made their way into federal agency meeting rooms and raised necessary funding to support their mission of bringing the salmon home.

Female leaders, like Caleen, are stepping forward to make a change in their communities throughout the world. This sentiment connects me with another favorite film, Mothered by Mountains, a story of women who find strength and leadership in their femininity, which incorporates traits ranging from mother, to bad-ass.

Mothered by Mountains features an unlikely partnership between Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, Nepal’s leading female mountain guide and local punk-rock icon, Sareena Rai as they team up to make a first ascent together.

As a female athlete and outdoors enthusiast, this film – which questions what it means to successfully exist in adventurer communities as a woman – was particularly powerful. The film steps beyond the message that women can accomplish everything men can accomplish if they set their mind to it, and instead reminds us that outdoor sport does need to be inherently masculine. It shows audiences that traditionally feminine traits such as teamwork, setting boundaries, and communication can assist in the success of an outdoor expedition. Being part of a 4-person lady-team, trekking up a snow-covered mountain over a weekend before heading back to lives of jobs, nursing school, and navigating young adulthood, lent my imagination towards the film Mothered by Mountains.

The air was brisk as my three female friends and I drove up an unlit road at 11 pm on a Saturday night listening to Nahko and Medicine for the People’s song “Runner,” featured in the film The Salmon Will Run. The final verse of the song refers to Mt. Shasta’s “holy headwaters.” My friends and I were about to embark on a Shasta mountaineering journey, and listening to this song was comforting. What was also comforting was to belong in a group of strong women, all supporting one another as we shared our goals and fears for the climb along the banks of the McCloud River beforehand.

I encourage any outdoor enthusiast to embrace their feminine approach to sport and check out Mothered by Mountains. I also invite you to consider the land you are visiting on your outdoor adventures. The Salmon Will Run reminds me of this and encourages me to engage with important social justice and environmental issues, through activism and taking part in my civic duty, such a voting in local elections.


This month’s Staff Pick was brought to you by On Tour Coordinator, Sarah Muskin. Both of these films join about 140 other Wild & Scenic films as they travel the globe to over 185 locations with our On Tour program. If you’re nearby the South Yuba River Citizen League office, you’ll also have the opportunity to borrow this film plus over 100 other titles from this year’s festival in our film library. You must be an active SYRCL member to check out a film. Not sure if you are a member? Call or email Alena Loomis at 530-265-5961 ext 220 to check your membership status. If you know you aren’t a current member or simply need to renew, visit Membership and sign up.