10 Essential Questions: Michele Ritala

Meet Michele Ritala, a 4-year member from the east coast who is inspired by Mountaineers who have demonstrated you can keep hiking well into your 70s and beyond!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
February 16, 2018

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

Name: Michele Ritala
Hometown: Hawthorne, NJ
Member Since: April 2014
Occupation: Benefits Manager
Favorite Activities: Backpacking, day hiking, cross country skiing

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

My first summer, I just did a few day hikes. The second summer, I joined both the Conditioning Series and the Backpacking Building Blocks (B3) courses. My third summer, I was leading backpacks.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

I love to get outside and was always trying to arrange day hikes with friends, but it was so difficult to find the route, date, weather that would work for others, plus I didn't know that much about where to hike. Once I joined The Mountaineers, I knew I could get out on the trail with others, have fun, and do it safely. I have seen so many beautiful places with The Mountaineers that I never thought I would experience. I really like leading hikes with new hikers and seeing how excited they get talking about future hikes they want to do.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I remember reading about the Seven Lakes Basin/High Divide hike several years ago and wishing I could do it, but the hike seemed so long and the "high divide" part seemed too scary for me. I led a 3-day backpack doing the loop last July. The weather was perfect and the company was great. I felt really blessed to have that opportunity. 

Who/What inspires you?

I'm in my 50's and prior to joining The Mountaineers had difficulty finding people in my age group willing to go on long hikes. Two years ago, I went on an overnight hike to Marmot Pass in the Buckhorn wilderness with a group of 8. I was the youngest person in the group and was just able to keep up the pace. I've been inspired by those Mountaineers and many more since who have demonstrated you can keep hiking even into your 70s!

What does adventure mean to you?

Preparing to go into the wilderness means a lot of planning, trying to anticipate what you'll need and what could go wrong. But once you enter a remote area, you just don't know what will happen. Watching a giant boulder calve off a glacier or seeing a plump marmot waddle through your camp are just a few of the surprises you might see.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Smile or game face? Smile.
What's your happy place? At camp, revisting the days' hike with others over a cup of tea.
Post-adventure meal of choice? I have yet to find a camp meal that I like.
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Backcountry ski touring.

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