Free Baby Returned
Guri Bigham has been a free spirit from an early age.
Gary Bigham likes to tell people he found his daughter Guri in the Telluride “free box.” He even has the photo evidence. “Anyone who knows my dad knows that he is a joker,” Guri says today. “You can’t take anything he says seriously.”
But it turns out that the photo, which ran in the Fall 1993 Catalog, possessed at least a little predictive power. “Skiing has always been very easy for me—it’s like walking, second nature, and I love it,” Guri says. She spent her early years growing up in Taos, New Mexico, with her Norwegian mother; in the summers, she would go traveling with Gary, an American photographer and well-known professional skier.
The pair took two-month road trips every summer. “Everywhere we went, he always had an eye for a photo. ‘You have to do this, don’t look at the camera, be natural,’” she says. “It was a really cool way for him to travel and do his work and spend that time with me—but it was also annoying, to be honest.” Those cool-yet-annoying road trips came with a visual record of her youth: Her picture has appeared in Patagonia catalogs over a dozen times.
There’s a story behind every photo. “There’s one of me in a pumpkin, and he said I ate my way out,” she says. Once on a road trip to Idaho, they spotted a fake marlin on their friend’s wall. They took it to a freshwater lake and got in a boat; as the friend struggled to hold the marlin in the water, Guri pretended to be fishing it out of the lake. It was a Herculean shot that took two days to get right.
When Guri turned 16, she moved to Hawaii with her mother, who bought her a surfboard the first week. She’s been there ever since. Now 27, Guri lives on Kaua‘i, where she teaches surfing and yoga and has kids of her own. Like her dad, Guri travels a lot, too, especially in summer. Last year, she set sail on a zero-carbon emissions monohull. This year, she hopes to be the chef for all-girl teams competing on a sail-racing tour of Scandinavia—that’s the plan, anyway; like everyone she’s waiting to hear if it’ll have to wait. “It’s like a three-month experiment,” Guri says. “We’re going to see if we can make it without any butane, cooking only with solar ovens and the occasional open fire on the islands. When you’re traveling, it’s easy to end up eating convenience foods,” she says, ”but with a little planning, we think we can eat like locavores even though we’re not locals.”