10 Essential Questions: Paige Nuzzolillo

Meet Paige Nuzzolillo, a 3-year member from Connecticut who fled the concrete jungle of NYC to sleep outside, swim long distances in open water, and learn how to sail.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
March 01, 2019

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

Name: Paige Nuzzolillo
Hometown: Avon, Connecticut
Member Since: June 2016
Occupation: UX research and design (www.paigenuzzolillo.com
Favorite Activities:  Long-distance open water swimming, sailing, kayaking, backpacking, hiking, trail running

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

I moved to Seattle to be closer to the mountains after spending many years living in Brooklyn, NY. I had always been a backpacker and hiker since going to college in rural CT and getting involved in the outing club. In 2016, I went on vacation to Seattle and backpacked Goat Rocks with friends, and visited Whistler on another trip. I fell in love with the PNW. Within a few months back in NYC, I was convinced to hop on a plane towards a new life in Seattle with only two suitcases, no job, and a lot of hope. I wanted to find more like-minded, outdoor and adventure-loving people who wanted to camp and backpack on weekends rather than party and shop in the concrete jungle of NYC. I found out about The Mountaineers through a conversation with a new friend and decided to go to a few events. I eventually signed up for The Mountaineers sailing course after one trip on the water with Alan Vogt. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to learn how to sail (I wanted to in NYC too, but not in the Hudson River!). Thanks to The Mountaineers, that dream finally came true, too!

What motivates you to get outside with us?

Meeting new people who love the outdoors, special opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise (like a four boat raft-up or an overnight sail to Bainbridge!), learning new skills, the power of community, and the calming and rejuvenating effects of being outdoors.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

My favorite Mountaineers memory is meeting one of my best friends in Seattle: Stephan Strnad, who recently passed away. He contacted me to carpool on a day hiking trip to Gobbler’s Knob at Mount Rainier and ended up camping overnight with my friends and I before the hike. We had such a funny night getting to know each other, cooking, laughing, trying to get our fire started (and at one point almost falling into it). We were both new to Seattle and spent the entire night and next day hiking by one another’s side. He quickly became one of my best friends and #1 backpacking buddy. A master chef in the backcountry and skilled backpacker, Stephan taught me how to live like a queen in the woods. I am so grateful that The Mountaineers brought us together. My life has forever changed because of his special soul. Nowadays, I can’t go backpacking or jump in an alpine lake without thinking of him.

Who/What inspires you?

I am inspired by nature, specifically mountains and water! I paint whimsical, psychedelic forest scenes, but I only feel moved to paint in order to commemorate massive road trips or camping trips with my friends. I am also constantly inspired by my friends who are always seeking a new outdoor challenge or adventure! My fondest memories are always those which involve exploring nature with others: chatting around a campfire, meditating at the summit, mushroom hunting, plunging in an alpine lake, wading in a river, cooking camp pasta together, avoiding large mountain goats. 

This past summer, I also started swimming regularly. I started out my swimming hobby by training for a 2.5 mile swim across Lake Washington this summer. Stephan and I once paddled across it in an inflatable kayak, so the swim was in his honor. Our shared love for adventure kept me soaring through the water! After that, I joined the Notorious Alki Swimmers, a group who swims a 1.5 mile length of Alki Beach every weekend. They inspire me every time I get in the water- most of them don’t even wear wetsuits in the winter! 

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure means learning new things, pushing yourself, venturing with an open heart into the unknown, and being confident enough to try something new. It means excitement, enthusiasm, lust for life, and feeling truly alive.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Smile or game face? Smile.
What's your happy place? Floating on top of the ocean, sun beating down on my face, hearing only ocean waves and the rippling tide. 
What's your 11th essential? Gummy Bears.
If you could be a rock star at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? I wish I could wake up as a skilled mountaineer so I could climb Mount Rainier and summit by sunrise! 

Stephan & Paige kayaking across Lake Washington, Paige's inspiration for her 2.5 mile swim.

Post-adventure painting.

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