Aspen Matis

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Aspen Matis
Other names Deborah Parker (birth name)[1]
Born 1990
Occupation writer, poet, blogger

Aspen Matis is an American writer.

Early life

In a preface to an interview in Brazos Bookstore, the interviewer wrote Matis was raised by wealthy parents, in a small town.[2]

Colorado College

Matis described being raped, at Colorado College, by a new acquaintance, on her second day on campus, during orientation week, before classes had even begun.[3][1][4] She did not go immediately to a hospital, to have samples taken, that could help document her assault. She found the lack of meaningful support, from campus authorities, to also be very distressing, and she ended up leaving, without finishing her first term.

Pacific Crest Trail

After Matis dropped out of college, and hiked the long and arduous Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada.[3][1][4]

Matis travelled light, carrying only an eleven pound pack.[1] She did not carry a portable stove, and ate all her meals cold, for her first four months on the trail.[5]

In comparing her experience, with those Cheryl Strayed described in her book Wild, where she described her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, she noted that Strayed traveled almost two decades before she did, and she was not equipped with GPS. Nor could she electronically confirm when and where she could acquire a fresh supply of potable water.

The Girl in the Woods

According to the Better reading podcast a brief account of her experience she wrote in 2012, for the New York Times Modern Love column, lead to her writing her 2015 book, The Girl in the Woods.[6]

Amy Kaufman, who interviewed Matis for the Los Angeles Times, noted that Matis's 2015 book described her 2009 journey, taken four years before the publication of Cheryl Strayed's, 2013 account Wild.[1] Kaufman wrote "getting literary agents to view the book as anything more than “Wild” 2.0 was a challenge."

Girl in the Woods was published in May, 2015, and triggered commentary, interviews, and other signs of interest.[4] In September 2015, Salon magazine published an excerpt.[7]

Post publication

After the publication of her first book Matis started a blog on American poetry. She also got married, to a man, Justin Matis, she met on her hike - who would mysteriously disappear, after nearly three years of marriage.[5]

Oprah Winfrey chose her book for her famous reading list.

Her second book, "Your Blue Is Not My Blue: A Missing Person Memoir", describes that disappearance.[5] It was published in 2020.

Her husband, Justin Matis

Matis describes meeting 30-year-old Justin four months into her hike.[5] Startlingly, he, like her, had started his hike at the Mexican border, just two days after her. He too was four months into his hike. He had been only dozens of miles, or less, behind her, for her entire hike. They decided to travel together, after four months of solo travel, and that decision appeared to save her life. During a cold snap, during bad weather, Justin realized Matis was showing signs of hypothermia. She describes him stripping off his own clothes, in order to try to keep her warm, as he set up his tent. She describes him suggesting they employ the recognized technique of using his body heat to warm her up, as they both got naked in his sleeping bag. All throughout he kept asking her questions, to try to keep her mind focussed.

Matis described how they kissed, and made love, for the first time, and, by morning, she had decided she had fallen in love, for the first time, at 19-years-old.[5]

The pair would relocate to New York City.

Matis told Amy Kaufman, that Justin went to a friend's funeral, and never returned.[1] This was during their third year of marriage. She said she was afraid he had killed himself, and that it took 43 days to locate him. She said that they have never spoken, since his departure for that funeral.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Amy Kaufman. Q&A: Aspen Matis on walking the Pacific Crest Trail, ‘Wild’ and Lena Dunham, Los Angeles Times, 2015-09-15. Retrieved on 2022-08-20. “On her second night as a freshman at Colorado College, Matis was raped. She was so traumatized, that she dropped out of school and sought healing in the wilderness. 'Girl in the Woods,' the story of her five-month Pacific Crest Trail trek, was published last week by Harper Collins’ William Morrow imprint.” mirror
  2. Makeup Is My War Paint: A Q&A with Aspen Matis, Brazos Bookstore. Retrieved on 2022-08-20. “After I published a popular essay about my PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) hike in the New York Times, I sold the book to HarperCollins “on proposal,” unwritten. Then, I spent the next two and a half years writing it. That was the challenge.” mirror
  3. 3.0 3.1 Aspen Matis. A Hiker’s Guide to Healing, New York Times, 2012-05-06, p. ST6. Retrieved on 2022-08-20. mirror
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Sarah Wildman. The shortlist: Memoirs, New York Times, 2015-11-15, p. 30 of the Sunday Book Review. Retrieved on 2022-08-20. “Raped on her second night at college, she is bewildered by her campus’s dismissive reaction, as well as her own shame.” mirror
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Aspen Matis (2020). Your Blue Is Not My Blue: A Missing Person Memoir. Amazon Publishing. ISBN 9781542007917. Retrieved on 2022-08-20.  mirror
  6. About the author: Aspen Matis, Better reading. Retrieved on 2022-08-20. mirror
  7. Aspen Matis. "On my second night at college, I was raped", Salon magazine, 2015-09-14. Retrieved on 2022-08-20.