In Recess

Going Ever Upward

A San Angelo attorney discovers an abundance of joy in adventure

Interview by Adam Faderewski

Picture of Libby Ferguson Sitting on the Ground with a 
San Angelo attorney Elizabeth "Libby" Ferguson started her path to the outdoors atop a longboard. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth "Libby" Ferguson.

San Angelo attorney Elizabeth “Libby” Ferguson started her deep dive into outdoor adventuring with the push of a longboard. With that push, the wheels were set in motion as she took to the roads to cycle and the trails to mountain bike. Finding the outdoors to be a fount of good for her well-being, Ferguson took to spending as much time as possible in nature, including trekking, hiking, and kayaking. Her adventures have taken her across Texas and will soon take her to national parks across the country. For Ferguson, the goal is to reach ever upward. Excelsior!

You do quite a few activities. What inspired you to step outdoors and begin your journey?
I am a longboarder, trekker/hiker, cyclist, mountain biker, and kayaker/paddler. I started longboarding about three years ago. I skateboarded as a kid but had to completely relearn how to handle myself on a board as a 30-something. I still have wipeouts, but that’s just a part of the activity. I was inspired to longboard because I wanted to do something fun that was outdoors and was also challenging.

Picture of Libby Ferguson Skateboarding

Trekking/hiking started as a real passion of mine this past year. I was planning all the places I wanted to travel to and I realized that they were all mostly national parks. So I started training for my first national park trip to Big Bend by hiking at Texas State Parks. We went to Big Bend at the end of May, and it was the most phenomenal experience. I want to visit Redwood, Zion, Yosemite, and Glacier.

Cycling is another activity I love to do outdoors. I started about two years ago with a basic entry-level fitness bike, but I eventually upgraded to a proper road bike as my skill level increased. Like longboarding, “city cycling” is a fun way to explore your community while staying active.

Mountain biking is currently tied for my favorite activity with kayaking. I am definitely still a beginner—I follow many mountain bikers on social media and am blown away by what they can do and how brave they are. I love mountain biking because it is by far the most rigorous and challenging activity I do. It requires focus, determination, and boundary setting—which all happen to also be life skills (and lawyering skills) that are integral to success.

Kayaking/paddling is my newest activity. My personal energy elements that I identify with are fire and air. A guru advised that I would benefit by the introduction of water to my daily routine, so I knew paddling would be great for me. It stimulates not only my muscles but also my mind.

What led you to decide to go into each of these activities?
Short answer: I was craving adventure. But it was and still is a progression. I don’t want to get bored with just doing one activity. And you’ll never catch me in a gym. I give myself permission to stop doing an activity (even if it’s mid-adventure) if it quits being fun for me.

How would you say being outdoors helps your well-being?
Being outdoors and adventuring positively impacts my well-being. I read a statistic the other day that said people who spend at least two hours in nature per week are happier, less depressed, and less stressed out than their counterparts who do not. After struggling with mental illness most of my adult life, I felt immediate relief from symptoms of anxiety and depression once I started regularly getting outdoors. Being in nature has a calming effect—it refreshes my body and mind. To really be present in each and every moment can be a difficult thing to do. But when I’m out on the trail hiking or mountain biking, on the water kayaking, or even in the city or on the road longboarding and cycling, I am consciously training myself to observe and appreciate what unfolds in each moment. It’s very liberating.

What are some of your favorite spots for longboarding and cycling?
In the San Angelo area, my favorite spot for longboarding is the Red Arroyo Trail. I just go around and around until I’m ready to stop. I also do “city cycling” along the trail and in my neighborhood and throughout the city. As far as road cycling goes, I will sometimes cycle from Lake Nasworthy in the southwest part of San Angelo to Knickerbocker. There are also many other road segments on county and farm roads that I’ve learned about through my local group of cyclists.

What about hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking?
I’ve been on several amazing hikes here in Texas thanks to my Texas State Parks Pass. Of course, I hike, mountain bike, and kayak at my local San Angelo State Park, but I also love the Hill Country—Lost Maples State Natural Area, Hill Country State Natural Area, Pedernales Falls State Park, Enchanted Rock, and Colorado Bend State Park.

Mountain biking spots I frequent are the trails at San Angelo State Park, Big Spring State Park, and Government Canyon State Natural Area. On my bucket list is to go to Big Bend Ranch State Park (famous for its single track MTB trails) and eventually, once my skills improve, get up to Whistler Mountain Bike Park in Canada.

As for kayaking, I paddle in all the bodies of water around me locally, but my most favorite paddle to date was a five-mile, three-hour run down the South Llano River in Junction.

Picture of Libby Ferguson Standing Next to her Kayak

You’ve launched the Excelsior Garment Co. Can you tell me more about it?
The Excelsior Garment Co. is an outdoor lifestyle apparel and accessories brand that I launched. We carry several caps and hats, T-shirts, vests, koozies, and stickers. All of the design work is done by yours truly, which is partly why it’s still in its infancy—because I’m also a full-time attorney by day.

I named it the Excelsior Garment Co. because “excelsior” means “ever upward” in Latin. And in modern language it is used to mean “superior quality.” On my adventures, a motto of mine is ever upward—the idea is to just keep pedaling, keep paddling, keep pushing, keep trekking.

Our slogan is “Abundance in Exploration.” This has great meaning to me. To feel abundance of beauty, joy, appreciation, and freedom is a powerful thing. And that is how I feel when I am mindfully adventuring. Experiencing abundance is important to all of us because scarcity drives fear and abundance drives generosity. TBJ

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