Outdoor Woman’s Voice: Magretha of The Clueless Wanderer

Brown Gal Trekker meets The Clueless Wanderer

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I’ve been fortunate to discover a group of outdoor women bloggers via a Facebook group of the same name.  It just so happens that Magretha was one of the women in the group.  Magretha’s blog, The Clueless Wanderer, is merely a month old but she has certainly demonstrated her fine skills as a blogger in such a short period of time.  I have read some of her articles such as What’s Your Biggest Adventure? Life!!! and enjoyed her manner of storytelling as the authenticity of her experience is clearly demonstrated in her writings.  That speaks volumes as to her talent as a blogger.  With Magretha’s unique voice in the blogging world, the future holds an exciting time for blog readers like me.  Magretha happens to also love something I hold dearly: HIKING!

I’m thrilled to share with you Magretha’s personal views on the world of trekking, but first, let’s find out about our 

Featured Outdoor Woman’s Voice

The Clueless Wanderer is named Magretha Penamora Palepale.  She was born in  Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines in 1972 and moved to Kodiak, Alaska in 1975.  Magretha grew up there and lived in Anchorage, AK from 1991-2000.  She is now living in Felton, PA and works as a chemical engineer for the Department of Defense.  Magretha notes that at her job she operates calibrated instrumentation that monitors the environment for any blister agent or nerve agent release when anomalies are being removed.  She travels over half the year for work, both nationally and internationally.   And she sometimes get to blow stuff up!  Magretha has been asked what kind of degree she holds to be able to do something like this.  Her response:

“I have nothing more than a HS education.  I was originally hired on as a travel coordinator to make sure we had personnel on the ground for all the jobs.  My curiosity led me to seek certification (on the job training) in this field while working my desk job and one day the opportunity to travel for a week presented itself.  I left my desk job and have been traveling ever since.”

Based on that, Magretha is already an inspiration for many of us!

As to her hiking life, Magretha is constantly traversing the Mason-Dixon Trail when she’s home. Part of this 200 mile trail is a 5 minute drive from her house, so she’s there every day with her dogs.  Otherwise, she’s constantly looking for places wherever she’s working currently.

Magretha is an engaging blogger and storyteller so it’s best that she chats with you through her own words as BGT’s featured outdoor woman’s voice.

Here are her honest to goodness responses to Brown Gal Trekker’s queries:

When and how did you discover hiking?

“I have always struggled with my weight and, this is silly, but felt I was “too fat” to be on the trails.  I didn’t want people to look at me and doubt that I would be able to hike up this big hill in Kodiak or Anchorage, and it was a long time before I discovered that was just myself being overly critical.  Around 2002, at 5’2”, I was over 250 lbs and that year, I committed to losing weight.  By 2003, I was down 100 lbs and feeling great, but still had an awful body image of myself because when you grow up “fat”, you’ll always be “fat”. “

Magrethra on solo hiking:

“After we purchased our house in PA in 2004, and I discovered the Mason-Dixon trail nearby, I discovered solo hiking.  Solo hiking is so liberating in the fact that you can really look into yourself and discover the important and not so important things.  I have come across obese people on the trails and I secretly cheered them on, realizing this is what could have been all those years ago had I not doubted myself.  Now, I hike every day to “reset” myself and wash off the negativity.”

What is your most memorable hiking experience thus far?

“Hiking around an unnamed military base along the Tennessee River.  We were camping for the weekend and I figured I would go exploring.  So, I followed this road, which led to a dirt road, which ended at an unkempt road with a big sign that said DO NOT ENTER.  I entered.  About 2.5 miles down this deserted road, I hit a barbed wire fence and started hiking along the fence line.  My decision to turn around came when I saw a sign that read: Danger – Small Arms Impact Area.”

What do you like the most about hiking?

“I consider this quality time with myself.  I sometimes get fidgety and start to check my phone while hiking and at this point I stop and remind myself that I need to unplug.  I return home with a clearer head and joyful heart because I feel emotional health is very important.  I would sometimes suffer from anxiety attacks and I feel that hiking calms me down by disabling the “noise”.  I don’t like to take drugs for my attacks and have never taken drugs because of side effects, so I hike instead.”

More on Magretha’s ideas on solo hiking and her preference:

“I like hiking with people and regularly invite them along, but I’m more of a solo hiker.  Nothing brings me more joy than to have someone hike with me and they like it so much, they go hiking on their own or ask me to let them know when I’ll be headed out next.  Solo hiking can be so therapeutic though, I sometimes prefer that.  Just me and my dogs cavorting in the wilderness.”

Magretha on her favorite hiking photos – check them out!

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“This was along the Desolation Trail in Utah.  I was just hamming it up for the camera!”
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“Overnight backpacking trip on the Mason-Dixon Trail, Pennsylvania.  My pittie, Zoey, is an awesome trail dog!”
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“Stone Cuts Trail in Monte Sano State Park, Alabama.  I took this pic with my selfie stick and the 10s timber on my iPhone. “

Magretha on lessons she has learned from hiking:  

“That it’s okay to have conversations with yourself?  Haha, I’ve learned that I’m my best psychoanalyst when hiking.  So many little problems can be solved, by realizing how little those problems really are when you’re in the middle of the big woods!”

What advise would you give to women who are new to hiking?

“Don’t be a gearhead, just get out there and put one foot in front of the other.  New hikers sometimes get caught up in what they should have and may fall into a trap where they don’t feel well enough equipped until they purchase those Black Diamond trekking poles.  Because you see pictures of avid hikers, it doesn’t mean you need everything they have.  Just get out there and figure out what you really need after putting some time in the dirt.”

Magretha on the treks she still has on her bucket list:

“Machu Picchu (June 2017!), a 14er (I’m not sure where yet), and maybe trekking with some Brown Gal Trekker somewhere?  ;)”

Of course, she’s welcome to join us on our treks via Peak Explorations!  

More on hiking, I also asked her, “what is your favorite hiking gear?”

“My Oakley Vigor 2.0 backpack.  It fits everything I need as a daypack, is very versatile, and is orange so I can be easily seen.”

Magretha also spoke about the toughest trek she has done: 

“White Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyons, Utah.  I saw it was about an 8 mile loop and I thought that sounded like a nice AM hike.  Little did I know, it was straight UP!  The scenery changed from mountain aspens, to open meadows, to high desert.  It was an awesome hike, but there was a moment where I didn’t think I would make it to the lake.  I had run out of water, I wasn’t conditioned for this type of exertion or elevation, and I was tired.  Then I thought about how mad I would be at myself if I didn’t finish.  That was the catalyst to get me to reach the lake!  On the way down, I had run into some really fit people from a Meetup.com singles group.  They were also huffing and puffing, asking me how much longer, and I felt even better that I made myself reach the lake.”

When it comes to being a woman on the trail and specific experiences, here’s Magretha’s take on it:

“I was coming down from a hike and ran into two gentlemen.  We talked for a bit and right before I was getting ready to move on, one of them asked, “So, are you here alone?”  He was probably just making small talk, but that totally raised some red flags with me.  I had a big knife attached to one side of my hip and as I answered how my friends had gone down earlier and were waiting for me (I was actually alone), I pivoted my hip so he could see I wasn’t defenseless.  He realized his faux pas and apologized before we awkwardly smiled and all moved on.”

Moving onto writing, what inspired you to start the blog, The Clueless Wanderer?

“I had always toyed around with the idea because I’ve always enjoyed writing.  I founded a FB group called Adventure Some Women and one of the members posted how she had started a FB group called Outdoor Women Bloggers.  I figured I would join to see what it was all about.  It’s such a supportive community that I decided I could start a blog.  If no one reads it, at least I’ll enjoy writing it.  I never considered I would meet so many awesome people in the process and the comments I get are just the cherries on top of the ice cream.  Yes, I can be narcissistic!  Haha!!!”

What do you hope to accomplish with your blog, The Clueless Wanderer?

“I just hope to inspire other people to get out there.  Read my adventures and start adventures of their own to share and have others learn from them.  I want people to realize that you don’t have to be uber fit or a crazy adrenaline junkie to go scale some mountain in Nepal.  Just have the passion.  Have the passion and the rest will fall into place.”

I noted that Magretha has a very unique voice when she writes so I asked her to describe her method of relaying stories in written format. Her reply,  

“I wouldn’t call it a method, I don’t think.  I just write, read, delete and repeat!  I like to keep my blog posts short and try to stay on topic, otherwise I feel it becomes a boring read.  I have a short attention span, so if my writing starts to bore me as I read it, how would readers feel?  I write like how I would speak because I feel it would be fake in any other context.”

On that note, I hope you now feel inspired to hike… AND write your blog, too!  Not convinced?  You can follow Magretha more via her blog, The Clueless Wanderer and her social media accounts:

Instagram:  @mo_likee
Facebook Group: Adventure Some Women

If you know of an outdoorsy woman who you think should be featured on the OUTDOOR WOMEN’S VOICES SERIES (yourself included), please see THIS LINK to find out how to be a part of it.

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