JUST GO: Meet the Cousers
Sean and I are proud to introduce a new series here on Two Sticks and a Board. In sifting through our travels and trying to decide how to best highlight some of the incredible people we’ve met along the way, we decided on a series called JUST GO.
In keeping consistent with the mission of Two Sticks and a Board [to inspire a sense of adventure in families of all ages], our goal is to inspire a sense of adventure through the stories of couples in our midst. Through photos and Q&A interviews, we aim to show that adventure is always around the corner and there are always creative ways to explore the world in which we live. And so we begin…
When we think of Noah (28) and Megan (29) Couser, a few thoughts come to mind. They are incredibly passionate about being positive role models and mentors for the next generation through their teaching and through various youth organizations they are involved with. They are ambitious and creative in their mission to get outside and get active. Think: mountain biking in Whitefish, peak bagging in Glacier National Park, and SUPing down the Flathead River… all in one day. Most of all, their faith keeps them grounded and focused. These two have become close friends of ours here in Whitefish, and even though our first dinner together was a blind “friend date,” we’re so grateful we took that leap of faith and invited them over for dinner. Here’s a bit about the Cousers:
What do you do for a living?
Noah: I teach 8th grade PE and Health at Kalispell Middle School, and I own and run an outdoor adventure-based photography business [Noah Couser Photography].
Megan: I teach International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology, Chemistry, and I’m the IB coordinator at Flathead High School in Kalispell.
What are your favorite activities?
Skiing (Megan) and snowboarding (Noah), backcountry touring, skate skiing, extreme sledding, mountain biking, road biking, fly fishing, hiking, trail running, rock climbing, paddle boarding, wake surfing, SUPing.
Tell us the [short] story of how you met.
Megan: We met at Perkins during our freshman year in college. At first, we didn’t like each other.
Noah: I liked you!
Megan: Ok…well, kind of. Noah was like a punk high school kid.
Noah: I was. I had frosted hair—classy.
[Both: Laugh] Megan: We were mildly close friends for a couple years, but we went on a camping trip to Glacier National Park with a mutual friend and it rained the whole time. We had to make the best out of a weird situation. I remember Noah laughing so hard—like, a real laugh. At that moment, I thought Ok, he’s kind of cool.
Noah: That trip allowed us to see who we really were. [Less than a year later] we were hopelessly in love. We dated for a little over a year, were engaged for 4 months and were married seven years ago in December.
What does adventure mean to you?
Noah: I think we do a pretty good job of dreaming up different trips. We look at the area around us and dream up how we want to interact with it and making it happen.
Megan: We try to do new things and not do the same thing every time—interacting with nature in a new way.
What is the top bucket list item you’ve crossed off together?
Noah: We backpacked for six days on the Nā Pali Coast along the northwest side of Kaua’i [Hawai’i] the first year we were married.
Megan: No one we knew had ever done it but they all wanted to. It sounded so cool—the trail to access the area is super sketchy. I cried twice!
Noah: It was not super sketchy…
Megan: It was! They have a sign at the start of the trail with a list of people who have died in the area. Some people fall off the trail and drown!
Noah: Ok, yeah. It’s one of the top ten most dangerous trails in America. The trail is a muddy clay, and if it rains, it gets really slippery.
Megan: It’s a mental battle. The scariest part (and I’m scared of heights) is super narrow—not wide enough for both feet beside each other. You’re 200 feet above the ocean and the waves are crashing below you, and it was raining. But, when you get there, you’re on this beach that you can’t access any other way… we showered in a waterfall, made our camp under a massive tree right on the beach, and there were caves to crawl up into… really cool stuff.
How do you feel adventures strengthen your family?
Megan: I think it helps us communicate and trust each other. We were going up to Snow Moon Basin [in Montana] and I was little bit sketched out and Noah knew it. He turned to me on the way there and said, “What do you need? Do you need to cry for a minute?” I did. And I think that shows how far we’ve come.
Noah: There’s such high stress and high risk in a lot of activities and both of those bring about your true character and really help you see the other person and be able to help them through a time like that and work together to make it through safely.
What has been your most memorable adventurous moment?
Noah: We had a descent off Mt. Jackson in the dark in crazy grizzly bear country with one headlamp! After an experience like that, everything else seems small compared to trusting somebody with your life.
What is your advice for other couples to get out and adventure?
Noah: Neither of us were super adventurous. Megan hardly skied, I knew a bit about rock climbing, but I think just baby steps and getting plugged into other people who were knowledgeable about the area and gave advice about gear and hold our hand through the first few trips. As far as advice, be patient with each other and realize your different strengths and weaknesses.
Megan: And just going for it—even if your idea doesn’t work out, it’s still fun to get outside and be with each other.
Noah: We’ve had trips that have flopped but it’s still worth going, even in bad weather, if you have to change plans, it’s always refreshing to get in the mountains and spend time together.
What are your future adventure-related goals as a couple?
Megan: Hike the Livingston Traverse in Glacier National Park
Noah: There’s always a trip, always a plan, always scheming…
Megan: We also want to do some traveling out of the country and go to Europe and we’d really like to go to South America.
Tell us about Noah Couser Photography.
Noah: The business officially started two months after we got married. I never intended to try to make money—I just liked taking pictures and making art. It evolved into a recreation-based adventure photography business and I started shooting for the local ski hill [Whitefish Mountain Resort] year round. It has evolved and grown into working hand in hand with some amazing companies in the outdoor industry, opening doors to opportunities I never would have imagined.
Megan is such a huge part of every commercial-type shoot, whether it’s just helping with the organization and logistics or being a sounding board throughout, the whole creative process. I feel so much more equipped when we’re setting up a shot and Megan is right there with me because she has a really creative eye and such a different perspective.
And your faith plays a large role in your relationship?
Megan: Our faith is a huge part of our relationship and our adventures. Being grounded in our relationship with God directs the way we interact and the perspective we have towards adventuring and the outdoors.
Noah: I think the greatest direction of our adventure has been helping other people get out and get on their first back packing trip or first rock climb, especially students. Their stoke is contagious! Every thing they do, every fish they catch, any little peak we scramble up… it’s this huge accomplishment for them. I think it’s almost more cool for them to do that, than for me to come up with some trip that’s going to beat the last one. Being able to introduce people to outdoor recreation or inspire them to get outside, (whether in person or through photographs) is extremely rewarding.
Follow Noah and Megan on: