Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a California native with Portuguese roots. I’m in my early 40’s, living in California’s central valley with my husband and four kids (three teens and a toddler!). I am an all-around mom, for lack of a better term. My kids have come to me through marriage, adoption, and I even birthed one! They are my everything! I have been a stay-at-home mom for a little over two years now.
What’s your favorite outdoor sport?
Hiking, of course! I just recently got back into bike riding, which is something the kids are really into. I also like playing badminton. I’m probably terrible at it, but my son and I have so much fun playing in our backyard.
When did you discover your love for hiking?
I really got into hiking in my 30’s when I met my husband Eddie. I loved going to the mountains before him, but I would only visit the touristy areas. I was too afraid to venture anywhere else with two young kids in tow. Our very first date was to a remote part of the mountains, up a very curvy road, with no phone service! I fell in love, with him and his sense of adventure. He introduced me to my beloved mountains, the Sierra Nevadas, like I had never seen before.
What’s your favorite outdoor memory?
I have two that really stand out. One was last year hiking Tokopah Falls in Sequoia National Park. It was one of my first big hikes carrying Sierra on my back and it was a good snow year, so the falls at the end were just magnificent. Also, it was really stormy so there was thunder and lightning and rain the entire time we hiked. We don’t get many storms where I live, so we savored it. My second favorite is watching it snow in Yosemite. I somehow managed a weekend getaway for just me and my husband a few years back and it began snowing while we were on the valley floor. Yosemite in the snow is simply magical.
Do you have a “disaster” story?
Not really a disaster, but definitely didn’t go well. One of my first times doing a solo hike, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a different trail. I was doing a one-way hike and my husband and kids were meeting me at the other end. Only problem was, I never made it there. There was a downed tree in the middle of the trail (a Sequoia, so it’s not like I could just climb over it!) and by the time I got around it, I had gotten turned around and took the first trail I could find, which led me in a different direction. Luckily I ran into some other hikers who showed me their map, because I didn’t bring one, and I was able to re-route to a nearby shuttle stop. I hopped on the shuttle and went to see my family, who were so worried because I was much later than I had planned to be. And I was coming off the shuttle and not the trail where they were expecting me. My husband was on the verge of send Search and Rescue out to find me.
What have you always wanted to try?
I really want to try to kayak, even though I have a slight fear of the water. I’m fine if my feet are on the ground, but being in the middle of a lake and not being able to see the ground makes me uneasy. Even still, I see a kayak and I think it looks so fun. I also want to try backpacking. I just started researching some local trails that would be doable for a first timer.
I know that your entire family frequently goes on great adventures. Any tips or tricks to share with our members to help make the outing fun for everyone?
Go with the flow and be adaptable! I used to always want to leave at a specified time and do whatever specified hike or activity I had in my head. But it’s hard getting six people out the door at an exact time. Once I dropped that notion of “leaving on time,” our outings became much more enjoyable. And we usually end up seeing something pretty neat, like a bear run across the road with her cubs! Also, we usually have a general idea of what we want to do when we get to our destination, but it almost always changes after our first activity. We listen to what the kids say, or when they’re not speaking it’s usually because they’re hungry. So we go with the mood of the kids and the day and just enjoy whatever we end up doing. And if any of them say I’d like to go here, or do this activity, we try our best to plan an adventure around that.
What are you looking forward to?
Hitting a triple this year. I thought it would be fitting that in my third year with the group that I shoot for triple miles. This year really has been challenging. With COVID and all the closures, I went the entire month of April without even hiking. I did however, purchase a bike and added bike miles to my goal this year. I am just about half way there!
Are you enjoying the 365 Mile Challenge?
Yes! This is my third year and I can’t say it enough that I love the supportive community. I was totally overwhelmed my first year, as I was still working a full time job and had an infant at home. I only got 27 miles that first month and I was watching all these other members hiking these beautiful places while I was limited to where I could push my stroller. I felt intimidated posting about my walk around the block, but everyone I encountered in the group was so supportive. Then I was really getting into researching trails and learning more about my nearby national parks and I found all kinds of local trails. Hiking became my passion that year.
You are a big source of inspiration for the group. What inspires you?
I’m truly humbled by that statement. My kids and my health inspire me. I was not planning on becoming a mother again at 39, but surprise! I knew I had to make some health changes to be able to keep up with child number four. So I had to find a way to exercise and include my daughter, or I knew I’d never be able to keep up with it. So I began walking and went from being a casual hiker to an avid hiker. It’s also important to be able to keep up with my teenage son. He’s always been very active and will climb every boulder we come across. I’m not climbing any boulders with him, but I will have swimming contests with him, and he encourages me to get outside, even when I don’t always feel like it, to play badminton or volleyball.
Is there anything that you want us to know about you?
Even though this pandemic we are living through has been so unsettling and has really given me anxiety, I am savoring the time I’ve had to reconnect with my teenage kids. I feel like I’ve been able to strengthen our bond during this time.
Anything that you’d like to add?
Val, I’m so glad you kept this group going and that you continue to improve upon on it. It feels like every year gets a little better and you have added so many great things this year and you really personalize it. Thanks for all you do!
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