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Kalen Thorien: A Life of Grit and Grace

Meet Kalen, and you'll immediately sense that she's lived a life of adventure. Born in Washington, Kalen spent her early years living abroad with her family in Germany.

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At 9, she moved back to the states to live in Idaho, where at 16, she fell in love with skiing. At 18, Kalen migrated to Utah, considered to be a Mecca for the ski industry, to pursue a career as a professional skier. "I knew that if I wanted to become a pro skier, Utah was where I had to be to gain traction. Ironically, I didn't think I could do it, but I had to go for my dream." It’s a dream that couldn’t be quelled by a late start in the sport and a lack of professional training. Kalen's grit drove her to overcome those long odds.

But professional skiing is just one small part of what makes Kalen Thorien distinguishable.

Editor’s Note: The 1970 Ford F250 pictured throughout this story belongs to Kalen Thorien’s dear friend Hondo. Her daily driver, a 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser named Francis, is denoted in detail below.

From Snow Into Fire

In the early days of her career, Kalen supported her powder dreams by any means possible; this eventually led her to start working as a firefighter, fighting wildland fires across the west. "It was a job that brought a lot of security —You're working for the government. You have benefits, it's guaranteed work. And it paid for my skiing." The experience proved to be transformative. Like a phoenix of adventure, in her second season of firefighting, Kalen emerged from the ashes to realize she could never pursue a career that put her behind a desk.

Just to be sure, she went as far away from desks as possible.

Kalen Thorien | Garage Feature

Off The Beaten Career Path

Kalen's days aren't filled with the monotonous hum of inkjet printers; they're filled with the sounds of babbling brooks and windswept vistas, rumbling motors, and rocky terrain. An avid fly fisher, motorcyclist, skier, backpacker, rock climber, and whitewater rafter, Kalen describes herself as a four-season athlete. When asked how she cultivated her zeal for the outdoors, Kalen credits skiing. "Skiing was the foundation for all the activities that I pursued. It showed me the importance of connecting with nature, testing yourself, testing your grit." It was an entry point to a slew of other outdoor adventures, providing Kalen diverse ways to see the world and grapple with it.

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A Ride Rigged For Adventure

It’s an approach to living that requires a truck that'll handle everything Kalen, and mother nature, can throw at it. For her, that truck is Francis: A 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser HJ60—a 4X4, straight-six diesel workhorse. Five years ago, Kalen picked Francis up from a guy from Canada, and they've been inseparable ever since.

Francis has literally taken Kalen (and Lady, her furry companion) through all of life's highs and lows. “For a couple of years, right after I bought Francis, I lived out of a little travel trailer. I'm connected to the car. It's my home. And I've taken it to some crazy places over the years.”

Kalen's knack for fixing up old vehicles means she feels comfortable doing a lot of the basic work on them; she’s made some standard upgrades and routinely replaces certain parts. One thing she credits the reliability and performance of her Cruiser to are to her BFGoodrich® KO2 tires; they've never failed her--even on the toughest terrain.

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A Life North of Normal

For Kalen, living simply extends to her vehicle. She doesn’t want to drive a computer; she wants something she can fix--so she likes her old trucks simple. “I like them a little stinky, you know, if they don't rattle a bit, then it's not a real truck. Oh. And of course, being able to sleep in the back of it comfortably is also key.”

Simple and reliable. Because when Kalen's living off the grid, she feels most confident. For her, when the road ends, that’s when life begins. “It's peaceful, and it allows me just to be myself, shake off all the chaos and be really present, things I struggle with are less when I'm off the grid… I think that's why I keep doing all these adventures and why I love them so much.”

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