10 Essential Questions: Ilona Berzups

Meet Ilona Berzups, a new member of the Tacoma Mountaineers who won't let a few mountain goats ruin a good game of alpine Yahtzee.
Kristina Ciari Kristina Ciari
November 06, 2015

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to Ilona...

Name: Ilona Berzups
Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Member Since: June 2015
Occupation: Semi-retired (photography / web services)
Favorite Activities: backpacking, hiking, hands-on Mountaineer workshops

10 Essential Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

Earlier this year I moved to Tacoma and was exploring my new neighborhood when I stumbled on this cool building -- turned out to be the Tacoma Mountaineers. I have been a WTA member for years but somehow had never heard of the Mountaineers. Couldn't wait to find out more, joined shortly thereafter.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

The kindred spirits I've met while out on Mountaineer activities for sure, plus all the amazing backpacking trips and hikes with leaders who are familiar with the areas I want to explore and get to know better. I've taken a few Mountaineer workshops too and it's exciting to get out and put what I've learned into practice.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

Backpacking Lake Ingalls with a fellow Mountaineer this summer. While playing mini-Yahtzee after dinner we were visited and then surrounded by mountain goats. As unnerving as it was we couldn't help laughing at the craziness. It still makes me smile.

Who/What inspires you?

I'm inspired by the many hikers I've met this summer and the wealth of stories that have been shared. I'm also a huge fan of John Muir and his writings about his spiritual experiences in the wild. I know exactly what he's talking about when he says that "going out is really going in." I've stood silently in many a beautiful terrain in Washington and the PNW, places having the power to make me tear-up with emotion and happiness.

What does adventure mean to you?

At times I get a tad apprehensive leaving for a challenging backpacking or hiking destination I haven't been to, like a Mountaineer backpack trip we did to Gothic Basin. It rained all weekend and at points we had to scramble up/down wet rock faces. None of it dampened my spirit and when all was said and done it was one of my more memorable trips. Get out there and do it. To me that's an adventure!

Lightning Round

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Smile or game face? Smile.
Superpower? Making people smile by rubbing them all over with positivity.
Post-adventure meal of choice? A cold fruit smoothie on the way to getting a big fat grass-fed charbroiled hamburger.
If you could be a rock star at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Sharing what I've learned in the wild with someone who is up-and-coming and watching how excited they get, just like I do when the light bulb goes on.

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