Immersed in Nature: Meet Maria

Published: August 26, 2020

Starting at launch (August 26, 2020), I'm starting a recurring interview series with hikers & backpackers here on the blog & calling it "Immersed in Nature". You'll be able to easily search for articles in the series with the tag immersedinnature as the number of posts grow.

The inaugural interview goes to my friend, Maria, who is the inspiration behind Leave No Trace No Rinse Cleanser (yep, go ahead and send her all your gratitude for that product).

How did you get into backpacking?

My friends hiked the PCT and I decided to join them for Cactus to Clouds: a trail that climbs over 10,000 feet in roughly 20 miles from Palm Springs to San Jacinto peak.

Thinking back now, I can’t believe I went through with it. This was my first backpacking trip and I was trying to keep up with people who had been hiking over 20 miles a day for several months.

We started our hike midday in Palm Springs (in October) after a stop to In-N-Out burger where I naively stashed extra fries in my pack... Turns out, cold, stale fries aren’t that appetizing at the end of a long day of hiking. As hard as it was, I fell in love with it. I have never struggled or laughed as much as I did on that trip.

Maria camping on the Pacific Crest Trail

First breakfast. Food makes me happy. That spoon, however, was unnecessarily heavy… lesson learned!

Maria taking a midday break on the PCT

Only a few miles into it and I was already exhausted checking to see if there was service to get a ride back… haha just kidding. I was probably taking pictures 😊

Describe one of your most memorable hiking moments

I was in Germany with a friend hiking through the Partnach Gorge. It was a short hike so we decided to explore the trails beyond the gorge. We stumbled upon a café nestled in mountains. I nearly cried. It was magical. Nothing beats a hike, majestic mountains, a beer, and some apple cake.

Germany Partnach Gorge

Wait for it...

a hidden cafe in the hills of Germany

A hidden cafe in the mountains of Germany

If you had only one word to capture what you love most about hiking, what would it be?

Connection. I feel connected to myself and to my surroundings. It is one of the few times I feel truly in the moment.

What are your essential non-essentials for the trail?

Gummies! Chocolate is a staple in my diet, but while hiking it is all about the gummies!

While these are non-essentials, face wash, lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste are a must for me! I feel human every morning and evening when I can brush my teeth, wash my face, and moisturize! It is worth any extra weight!

my must haves while backpacking - yes, skincare and a toothbrush


Maria brushing her teeth while camping somewhere between Kearsarge and Bishop Peaks

Brushing my teeth on my throne. Someplace between Kearsarge and Bishop peaks in the Sierras, 2017

Do you have any favorite gear?  What is it, and why?

I feel like I get connected to all my gear! My favorite would have to be my headlamp and trekking poles. I thought only old people used trekking poles before I started backpacking. As a person with zero balance, my trekking poles have come in handy more than once. And my knees definitely feel better when going downhill.

Maria backpacking with Black Diamond Trekking Poles

What hike is on your bucket list?

I want to hike the Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. I heard about this trail from an avid hiker that I ran into while on a local hike. Hiking the John Muir Trail is another bucket list item that is more realistic 😊

More in the Immersed in Nature Series

Stay tuned for links to future posts in this series here.  Up next:

Chris thru hikes the PCT  

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Maria on the PCT

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