10 Essential Questions: Cheryl Talbert

Meet Cheryl Talbert, a Foothills branch leader whose partipation in The Mountaineers has taken her to Patagonia, New Zealand, Peru, Nepal, and Turkey.
Kristina Ciari Kristina Ciari
January 29, 2016

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

Name: Cheryl Talbert
Hometown: Issaquah, WA
Member Since: June 2009
Occupation: Retired from 30 year career in forest management and forestry science.
Favorite Activities: I am addicted to extended backpacks, 5 days to a month long, where you gain an incredible sense of rhythm and journey in the day to day packing up and walking to the next camp. The longer the time spent above treeline the better! And most of all, I love to combine my passion for extended backpacking and with my passion for trip planning and outdoor leadership and experiencing cultures and history and wild places in other parts of the world through our Global Adventures program.

10 Essential Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

After hiking and backpacking with family for most of my life, I found at a certain point that the people who used to go with me had moved on to other life pursuits. My sister had introduced me to the Mountaineers back in the 80s, and I turned to them to find new hike and backpack companions. Soon after I became a hike and backpack leader so that I could ensure that there were plenty of the kinds of 'far and high' trips out there that I loved to do. That soon evolved into getting involved with my local Foothills hiking and backpacking committee which had - and still has- an amazing level of energy for creating and running new and exciting programs for members. We put our heads together and created a season-long backpacking course in 2013 called Backpacking Building Blocks which is now headed into its 4th year and has already introduced over 150 Mountaineers  members to backpacking. 

Then, as I approached my retirement, I discovered that the Mountaineers offered opportunities to plan and lead active Mountaineers groups on international adventures - something that had been a life goal. The amazing experienced leaders on the Global Adventures committee welcomed and mentored me to get started, and since then I've led backpacking and trekking trips in New Zealand (twice), Peru, Patagonia, Turkey, the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and on the Colorado Trail.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

I have found great joy and satisfaction in helping others get out into the backcountry and into active travel in other parts of the world, and in the process, to see them gain the skills to be confident branching out on their own. One of the best experiences I've ever had with the Mountaineers was taking a young man who had recently moved here from China on his very first hike - we had a fantastic bluebird day on the Tatoosh Ridge trail with wildflowers in profusion and Mount Rainier peering over the ridge in all her glory. His delight from this experience started him off on a path of active adventures with the club that branched out into scrambling and Nordic skiing. He had to move back to China but even now he is helping to develop trails in the mountains near his home town and to get more people out on the trail.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

There are so many, including the one  about the young man from China. 

But the most transcendent experiences have been sharing and facilitating international adventures with Mountaineers groups: cresting a ridge on the Torres del Paine circuit to see the South Patagonian Icefield across the horizon; rising before dawn to walk up to a ridge crest and watch the sun come up over the Holyford River and the Darran Mountains on the Routeburn Trek in New Zealand; watching the first rays of the morning sun hit the temples of Machu Picchu; reaching a high pass in the Khumbu of Nepal and looking behind me to see Mt Everest and three other 8000 meter peaks as a backdrop; enjoying the incredible hospitality of one small village after another in coastal Turkey and being reminded yet again of our shared humanity and the basic goodness of people.

Who/What inspires you?

Helping people broaden their horizons and capabilities and find their own way to get out into the backcountry under their own power.

What does adventure mean to you?

For me, 'adventure' has never been about personal risk-taking; it's all about shaking up one's boundaries and horizons and pre-conceived notions with new experiences in new places and cultures.

Lightning Round

Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Smile or game face? Other: A face that says, "oh wow, I've never seen anything like THAT before!" 
What's your happy place? On the top of a high ridge looking 50 miles ahead at where my trail will take me next week.
Post-adventure meal of choice? Onion rings!!! With a quart of milk.
If you could be a rock star at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Internationally reknowned and multilingual trekking and travel guide (with a byline to write about my travels in Backpacker Magazine or NatGeo Adventurer!)

Know someone who should be featured?

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ILONA BERZUPS
ILONA BERZUPS says:
Mon, Feb 1, 2016 7:53 AM

Thank you for this insightful look into your amazing Mountaineers journey Cheryl. Truly inspiring.

Sarah Hess
Sarah Hess says:
Mon, Feb 1, 2016 8:48 AM

Cheryl is a leader of leaders, with a humble core. Her endless volunteering is a true gift to our club. Thank you Cheryl!

David Kosins
David Kosins says:
Mon, Feb 1, 2016 3:24 PM

I look forward to meeting you soon, hopefully this summer, on an extended backpacking trip. We think alike.

Renee Gangloff
Renee Gangloff says:
Mon, Feb 1, 2016 6:13 PM

Cheryl, it was nice to read your story. I too hope to make it on one of your extended backpacking trips someday!

Maureen Seeley
Maureen Seeley says:
Tue, Feb 2, 2016 10:42 PM

Great post, Cheryl! And I second Sarah Hess. You are a gift to the club. I look forward to getting out with you again soon.

Marion Bauman
Marion Bauman says:
Wed, Feb 3, 2016 5:21 PM

Keep on Cheryl!