Ambassador Spotlight: Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you’re not hiking? 

My career is in technology – I’ve spent 20 years in enterprise (business) software and currently work as a Director of Product Management with Oracle. While I started my career in the Bay Area, I’ve worked remotely since 2012 and ended up relocating to Bend, Oregon in 2016. My husband and I live on a small 10 acre farm just outside of town with our chickens, cattle, and two yellow labs, Thor and Barley. 

Adventure buddies
Thor and Barley

I like to consider myself an outdoor sports generalist – I do a lot of sports at a very average level. While hiking is my true love, I also love to ski in the winter (both downhill and cross-country) and get out in my kayak a few times each summer.

I am also a volunteer ranger with Deschutes National Forest. Unfortunately, the program has been on hold for the past year due to COVID, but if and when it picks up again you'll find me roving the trails of Newberry National Volcanic Monument greeting visitors and keeping an eye on things for the understaffed Forest Service. 

Paulina Hot Springs
Taking a break at the Paulina Hot Springs

What has the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge meant to you? 

I've always loved peakbagging as a driver to get me outside, but it has special meaning to me this year. I broke my leg in August of 2019 and I wasn't ready for the Six-Pack in 2020. But I've been building my strength and endurance back up and the Six-Pack gives me tangible goals to set along my recovery journey.

What is your favorite hike in the Six-Pack of Peaks and why? 

I love Mount Bachelor because I've been able to get familiar with it in different seasons. As a skier, it's fascinating to hike the trail and see the bus-sized volcanic boulders that make up the mountainside that is groomed smooth in the snow. While riding the lifts in the winter I imagine the rocky terrain and volcanic landscapes that I've hiked through below. The mountain has completely different personalities depending on the time of year.

Share one of your most memorable adventures. What makes it so special? 

After several summers of doing ‘named' trails like the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Trail, I decided it would be more fun to venture off-trail and explore the less traveled areas of the Sierra. A good friend and I spent a week peak bagging and exploring the Bear Lakes basin area and it was one of those trips where everything was just glorious. Even the things that were not so great (like being chased off of Royce Peak by a pop-up thunderstorm) had moments of joy and fun. When I picture the ‘perfect' outdoor adventure my mind always returns to that trip. 

What’s one piece of gear that you never hike without?

Now that I’ve experienced a broken leg? A SAM splint. As I get older it’s all about safety – from my small emergency kit to sunscreen. 

Share a quote, song, or another inspirational item that helps get you through the toughest hikes/life moments.

“It’s all part of the adventure!” One of my best hiking friends and I share this phrase whenever we're in a moment where things might not be going great – navigation errors, weather woes, bad stream crossings, whatever! It's something we say when we need to pause and regroup and remind ourselves that not every moment is going to be perfect. And when I look back on my most memorable trips and moments, this phrase comes up frequently! 

What upcoming adventures are you looking forward to in the year ahead?

Since this is a recovery year for me I plan on keeping my adventures simple and safe. 2021 is all about getting my hiking mojo back! I intend to mostly stick to hikes I am familiar with this year as a way to measure my progress. If I'm comfortable completing the Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge I'll consider myself recovered! 

Share a fun fact about you that most people wouldn’t know.

When I was a toddler I somehow escaped my family’s pop up camper in the middle of the night and tried to crawl off into the woods to live with the bears. I like to think that little adventure set the tone for my adult life.

You can find Rebecca here on Social Hiker, on her blog and of course, on Instagram at @realcalipidder.

All photos by Rebecca.

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