Ambassador Spotlight: Tara Magpusao

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

I’m a full time Massage Therapist and work in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I volunteer to massage throughout my community and beyond.  Massage is an important part of self care and I love it when my clients are athletes, especially hikers or outdoorsy folks.  I understand the body mechanics of my fellow adventurers and love to work on them and make them feel better.  I volunteer at local non-profits, including our Women's Center, Homeless, Veterans or for local community events.  I have also traveled many times to Northern California wildfire locations to massage evacuees and fire crews. But to be completely honest, when I’m not hiking I’m spending all my money at REI.  

I love being an Aunt and spend a lot of free time with my 10 year old niece.  We love to explore new places, go to the Ice Cream Museum or a fun attraction but also spend quite a bit of time playing Dance Off or Mario Kart.

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

I stumbled upon the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge while researching best places to train for the John Muir Trail.  It was a great way to accomplish those big mountains in a gradual way. I can’t climb 14,508ft if I don’t get to 8,858ft first, especially since I live at sea level. I introduced my body to altitude at Cucamonga Peak, then higher at Baldy, then Jacinto and Bernardino and I can’t ever forget the 6k feet of snow on San G! I’m grateful to have such an awesome, well planned resource for all the cool sh!t I want to accomplish.  Beyond the peaks, I’ve utilized other trailguides offered through the SoCal Hiker community (how I found the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge) for other hikes.  I followed the itinerary for the High Sierra Trail this past August.

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

Mount Tamalpais is my ultimate favorite in the NorCal Challenge, you can't go wrong with panoramic views of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County.  Catching sunrise at Bootjack Campgrounds big rock and sunset coming up the Matt Davis Trail is pretty spectacular especially if you camp at Pantoll Campground.  The. best.  

In SoCal, I love San Bernardino but it was mostly because I snow hiked it with some special people in my life.  Coming down the mountain was so magical as the sun was setting and we got to glissade most of the way down. 

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

When I hiked the John Muir Trail in 2019,  I realized I can do most things.  Acquiring permits 6 months ahead and hoping to be on the trail for my 35th Birthday.  Planning a solo thru hike seemed crazy and exciting.  So many people doubted me or were only looking at what could go wrong and feared for my safety.  I got to enjoy 23 days of solitude while hiking one of the most beautiful trails in the country. 

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

My Garmin inReach Mini.  A satellite communicator and my safety net while in the backcountry.  While it is great to check in with family and friends as a solo female hiker, it has definitely been there when I needed it during fire danger.  It’s worth the price and the Plans are great. Oh and I should probably say the 10 Essentials 😉 I always carry a yummy cider for the top because life is worth celebrating.

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

I’m planning a two week trip to Columbia this November. Navigating travel planning during a Pandemic makes everything feel so tentative but I always have multiple backup plans. I’ll be hiking in the Amazon and can’t wait to explore another country. I have a work trip coming up in a couple months and get to explore Baja California to eventually start guiding hikes there a couple times a year!  

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

I guide hikes with my local hiking group Brewtrails.  “We” drink craft beer, take lots of beer photos and head to a brewery after every monthly hike.  Breweries send us beer and goodies pretty often.  For the past 10 or so years, I’ve been completely gluten free because of an intolerance and I will get sick if I drink it.  Yes, there are other things to drink like ciders, seltzers and kombuchas but it surprises many folks when they find out this fun little fact.  I know a lot about beers I cannot drink but that is quite alright. It's not about the beers when you have great company.

You can find Tara here on Social Hiker, and on Instagram @hctara

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