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Explorer Spotlight: Kathleen Buenviaje

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Name: Kathleen Buenviaje | Age: 33 | Location: Long Beach, CA

What’s your day job?
I work as a Senior Studio Digital Artist for Innocean USA in Huntington Beach.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Catch sunrises.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
My father planned camping trips all throughout my youth. It's from him where I gained the love and appreciation for trees, lakes, dirt and animals.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
You never know what you'll get into when you're in Long Beach, CA. My favorite adventure locally would probably be hiking to the Bridge to Nowhere and bungee jumping off of it. Best place to grab a brew is easily Bo Beau's Downtown on their rooftop.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
Easily without question, my Buff.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Spam Musubi

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
90's station, think Green Day, Alanis Morisette, Bone Thugs n Harmony, and Oasis.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
The scariest thing that's ever happened has got to be a backpacking trip through Emigrant Wilderness. Search and Rescue teams were scouring the mountainside looking for a missing couple and their dog. After a horseback team approached us, we heard a heart wrenching yell. One of the horses carrying the SAR member slipped on a rock bucked and landed on her. Members of my group ran to help, was able to get her out from under the horse and carry her away under a tree. While half our group was tending to her, the other half was trying to get the horse off of it's back. The pain and life in that horse's eyes will be a vision I can never forget. After a ton of encouragement and patience with Max (the horse) we were able to pull his reigns enough to help him get to his feet. Bloody and shaken up, we were relieved to just see him alive. The woman was in and out and turning pale. We found to thick branches and made her makeshift brace for her knee. We improvised and used our tarp as a stretcher to move her closer to flatter ground. A helicopter eventually arrived with a new search and rescue team and helped get her to a hospital. It was a scary moment, but I was so proud of how calm and helpful my group was throughout the whole incident.

Funniest moment while adventuring is probably that moment when a newbie asks where the bathroom is during a backpacking trip and handing them a shovel. That look is always priceless.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
Number one adventure partner-in-crime is my partner Nida. She supports my crazy ideas and helps carry my camera gear when my injure back goes out on me. She hasn't always had a love for the outdoors and adventure but it's so satisfying to see that love grow to levels I would never have imagined for her. My inspiration is my sister Leila. She's battling her 2nd fight with cancer and the amount of life she has in her is mind blowing. She joins me in the majority of my trips and I can honestly say, to see her climb mountains and reach peaks, knowing she's in an even heavier and more tolling battle for her life, just makes me proud to be her sister. She inspires me to embrace everything life has to offer and to enjoy every second of it spent.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
Havasupai will forever hold a special place in my heart. Desolation Wilderness, Sierras and Joshua Tree are always my top go to places.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
Kenya and Norway are at the top of my list.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
I guess for me it would have to be Reflection Canyon. It was the conclusion trip for my 2014 adventures goal of soul searching and mental growth through exploration, adventures, roadtrips and lots and lots of caffeine. My lone goal for 2014 was simple, camp in a new place at least once a month for a year, all by driving and all on the weekends. This trip to Utah was beyond any measure and on so many multiple levels, a trip I will forever remember. The sole purpose of that hike was to get that one photo of Lake Powell and the Shark fins. So many things didn't go to plan that hike, its pretty incredible that we were able to achieve our goal. There is zero trail, so you're wandering about this land blindly, depending solely on your compass and the mountain range in front of you. What the compass doesn't show are the parts of the land where they completely drop off into a 100 ft canyon, so you backtrack and maneuver your way around it. It also doesn't show the endless ridges you climb up and climb down over and over again. Easily the most physically challenging three days of my life, and the battle of exhaustion, natural elements, frigid temperatures, limited food and water and the unknown pushed my mental game far passed its limits. I wouldn't have changed a second of it, and that's the reason it tops my favorites list.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
Travel now. You can always make money later, you can't always make memories.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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