Meet 3rd term Wild Keeper: Stefanie! Stefanie is based in Portland, Oregon but grew up in a small village in Germany, surrounded by nature. She said she "didn’t need fancy playgrounds, all I needed was already in my backyard: forests, rivers, hills and trails. Nonetheless, I always wanted to discover more, explore the world, and live in a big city – so that’s what I did: I left my little village to study, moved to Frankfurt/Main and started traveling the world from there."
Stefanie reflected that for 2 years she lived in Shanghai, China. "With around
25 million people it is definitely one of the biggest cities in the world. As much as I enjoyed this time, I really started to appreciate the outdoors after moving to
Portland, OR – the city I have called my new home for almost 3 years now. I’ve climbed mountains like Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) & Fuji (Japan) before, I have gone backpacking, learned to scuba dive and enjoyed exploring the outdoors during my travels. But especially during the pandemic it became obvious how important nature and the outdoors are for me and my wellbeing."
Stefanie loves hiking and camping a lot sharing that, "the Pacific Northwest gives me the opportunity to explore mountains, forests, waterfalls, the Pacific Coast and even deserts and that mix is what I love most! Another passion of mine is scuba diving. Discovering the underwater world while becoming weightless and one with the ocean is a truly special feeling I really enjoy."
When we asked Stefanie if she has ever faced challenges or hardship in regards to the outdoor industry she said, "Personally, I haven’t - but I know that I’m probably pretty privileged. It makes me sad that this isn’t the case for everyone. Because I absolutely believe the outdoors belong to all of us equally and nobody should be excluded."
Keep Nature Wild: If you had to choose between mountains, forests or desert, which would you choose?
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the greatest weather conditions (lots of rain, wind and consequently snow during summit-night) and hiked through 5 different climate zones. The risk of altitude sickness was always present. We really didn’t know whether we were going to make it, until we finally stood next to the summit sign, just before sunrise. It was an indescribable feeling to stand on the Top of Africa. This multi-day hike made me realize once again how small each of us is, how massive and unpredictable the outdoors can be and how important it is to protect our nature.
Often, I can ‘feel’ the looks, sometimes I even get asked what I’m doing or what’s in my bag. People sometimes react really surprised when I say “all the trash, I just collected”. My hope is that people start thinking twice the next time they are about to leave trash on their campsite, a trail or on the street. And maybe even start picking up what they find.
Stefanie is a photographer, storyteller & travel addict from Germany, who lives in Portland, OR and blogs about responsible travel, the great outdoors and life in the US on her bilingual blog https://smile4travel.de/en. On her Instagram you can follow along her travels and outdoor adventures through the PNW and beyond: https://www.instagram.com/smile4travel