REI Member since 2011
Favorite activities: Running, Hiking, Backpacking
1. Why is “outside” important?
Living and growing up in Okinawa, I was always surrounded by nature. I grew up living the island lifestyle—going to the beach, playing at the park with my dog or hiking through trails with my friends to find waterfalls that only the locals know about. When I reflect back on my childhood and my late teen years in high school, I realize most of my cherished memories involve being outdoors and spending that time with friends and family. But when I grew up and moved to the states, it seemed to become more difficult to make time to spend outside, especially when you’re surrounded by technology and caught up in the daily grind of school and work. Being outside is a chance to unplug and be completely present in the moment.
2. Who are you inspired by to get outside? In whom are you fostering a love for the outdoors?
My fiancé, Kirk. He introduced me to my first backpacking trip and really opened up my eyes to all of the great places to explore in California. There’s such a diverse terrain—desert trails in Joshua Tree, lake fishing in Eastern Sierras, snow camping through San Gorgonio—all within a few hours’ drive! Every trip is a new experience, and when we start a family, I can’t wait to take our kids on these adventures. Of course, our (future) trail dog will be right by our side, too.
3. What is your favorite piece of gear and what’s the story behind it?
My Lowa Renegade boots. I bought them for my first backpacking trip nine years ago and they have been on every hiking and backpacking trip since. They’ve been through it all—mud, snow, sand and water—and they’re what I wore when I went high-altitude fishing, conquered Mt. Whitney and went up Mt. San Gorgonio, where Kirk proposed to me!
4. What does being an REI Co-op member mean to you?
It means I have access to all the best outdoor gear with great member perks and I’m surrounded by like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable and their passion for the outdoors definitely shows.
5. What other adventures are on your bucket list?
Exploring New Zealand during our honeymoon! I definitely want to hike through Milford Sound and the other Great Walks, go black-water rafting through the Waitomo caves—aka the glow worm caves—and kayak along the coast and (hopefully) run into some dolphins.
6. What keeps you running an average of 40 miles a week? How does running benefit you physically and mentally?
Staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle are a couple of my core values, and they help me stay in shape and handle miles of hiking with a heavy pack. When I’m not backpacking, running is my version of meditation—it provides a way to clear my mind, set aside the thoughts that are going through my head and focus on my breathing and the road ahead of me.
7. Can you tell us about your experience climbing Mt. Whitney? Do you have any other ascents planned?
Mt. Whitney was a bucket list adventure for me, so I was definitely excited when Kirk and I finally decided to plan our trip and do the climb. We took the scenic route and started off at Horseshoe Meadows, where we acclimated for a day since I am prone to altitude sickness. We set up camp at multiple stops, with Guitar Lake as our last stop before the ascent. The next morning we took off, and after what seemed like forever (thank goodness for trekking poles!) we made it to the top, where we joined other hikers and runners who were making the trek up that day. Although I was exhausted, the view was truly breathtaking and we savored the moment as we rested on the boulders, soaking up the sun. My next ascents would be whatever mountains we come across on the honeymoon in New Zealand, but my dream ascent would be Mt. Kilimanjaro!
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