Marinel M. de Jesus

WHY DO YOU #CHOOSEADVENTURE?

I choose adventure and yet at times I feel it chose me, especially in the recent years. I say that because I started a social enterprise that markets global treks and adventures. Being on an adventure is food for our souls. It allows us to explore our potential and learn lessons that we normally overlook while living our daily routines and lives. To adventure means to push our boundaries, creativity and imagination - this is an aspect of being human that we far too often overlook and forget. Nature is there to remind us of that essence and natural aspect of our lives.

 

WHAT DOES ADVENTURE MEAN TO YOU?

Adventuring is where I find comfort, peace and love, which all emanate from within. It's a world where I get to feel detached from the judgments of the external world as I reconnect with my authentic self.

 

ADVENTURE MAKES YOU FEEL...

My passion lies in trekking mountains and therefore when I'm on the trails, I easily fall into this sense of expansion and alignment within myself. Hard to explain really as it is almost a surreal and out of body experience. Perhaps, the easiest way to explain it is that adventuring taps into the spiritual part of me.

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HOW HAS ADVENTURE CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

Adventuring impacted my life immensely. Over 15 years of being in love with mountain trekking and exploring the world and having been to over 80 countries to date, you would think I would mellow down by now. Instead, I quit my 15 year career as a lawyer in mid-2017 to run my social enterprise, Peak Explorations, to focus on creating jobs for the locals in various mountain regions worldwide.

My enterprise also aims to promote women and diversity in the outdoors, as well as, to create a community for solo travelers to find like-minded folks to venture with into the wilderness in every corner of the world. I married the mountains essentially by obtaining a business license to run Peak Explorations so I can share with others the joy I experience from trekking up mountains.

 

FAVORITE TYPE OF ADVENTURE?

My favorite type of adventure is Mountain trekking. This entails hiking over a period of time with my full load of backpacking gear, preferably on mountain trails at high altitude. I have this affinity towards the Himalayas, regardless of it being in Nepal, India, China or anywhere in between. II fun.

 

FAVORITE ADVENTURE TO DATE?

This happens to be the most difficult question for me. I feel the most connection towards the Himalayas so any treks involving that mountain region is a favorite of mine. However, what beats that experience is trekking in a place that no one has heard of such as Yading Nature Reserve in the Sichuan Province of China. The area is near Tibet and only the Chinese tourists visit the area. I trekked 30 kilometers above 4000 meters in one day to circumvent the 3 holy peaks in the park. I went solo but ended up befriending a hiker from Thailand who decided to join me. From there, our friendship was born. From thereon, I continue to feel connected to the experience as if the sensation and the moment never left me.

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WAS THERE A TIME YOU FELT IN OVER YOUR HEAD IN YOUR ADVENTURES? HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH IT?

I spent one year trekking mountains solo in Asia and Europe. At some point during the journey, I fell of a trail in the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro. I fell and rolled down the rocky side of a mountain cliff but was fortunate enough to break the fall. I was injured from the experience, which definitely shook me and led me to ask myself whether I should continue on with my solo traveling/trekking. Initially, I thought it was over but 2 days later I changed my mind and decided to trek solo in the Dolomites of Italy. So far, nothing has effectively convinced me to stop adventuring.

 

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE PLANNED?

My next few adventures involve scouting new trails for Peak Explorations which include the trails in Ladakh or the so-called Indian Himalayan region. Thereafter, I'm leading an all women trek to Machu Picchu as part of my enterprise's women empowerment project. This all women trek will be filmed as part of the film project to promote women in the outdoors and the media.

That trip is followed by another scouting trip - this time around in Peru's Cordillera Blanca or what is known as the Peruvian Alps. But I think the ultimate trek for me this year is my leading a group to trek to K2 Basecamp in Pakistan in the summer of 2018 through Peak Explorations. This may turn out as a once in a lifetime trip since depending on how that goes and the tourism situation in Pakistan, the trip may happen only this one time. But, of course, I always aim to offer the trips I've scouted to others so they have the same opportunity to experience a life-changing trekking journey. We have to wait and see!

 

YOUR ULTIMATE ADVENTURE BUCKET LIST IS?

For years now, I have this voice urging me to trek the entire length of the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal. Besides my desire to experience the scenery, it's mainly for the purpose of documenting the lives of the local women and children along the trail. As an avid trekker who only ventured out when I had some time off from work, I usually trekked rather quickly on the trails without being mindful of the local life and culture.

Decades of traveling in this manner started to make me feel the need to slow down and immerse myself in the mountain scenery and the day to day lives of the locals, especially in places like the Himalayas. I felt I missed out by being a typical "tourist" trekker. So, my ultimate bucket list is not solely about experiencing the world-class landscapes but also about allowing myself to slow down and be present in the moment this time around.

 

THE PERSON/PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE ME MOST TO TAKE AN ADVENTURE...

You know, to be honest, the inspiration for me comes from within. It's a voice that continues to lure me to the path of being an adventurer - to a point I have transformed myself from being a lawyer to becoming a mountain nomad in 2017.

 

ADVENTURE ITEM YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?

It may sound very un-sexy but I love my duct tape. It has gotten me through various mishaps successfully! I also find my electronics such as smartphone a must for every outing.

 

HOW DOES ADVENTURE IMPACT YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE? (WORK, PLAY, FAMILY CHOICES, ETC.)

I have transitioned into a nomadic lifestyle which allows me to create relationships with people beyond physical boundaries. Since my family and friends are from all parts of the world, I never feel as if my life of adventuring hinders me from maintaining my connections with people. I always feel connected to them in one way or another even if it means in a virtual sense.

As to family, I don't plan on having kids given the nature of my work as a founder of an adventure travel type of enterprise. Dating-wise, I think my passion for traveling globally has made my dating life one heck of an adventure on its own. No doubt - it may take me a while to find a partner who can appreciate my nomadic lifestyle but it's definitely worth the wait. We need to have a good cup of coffee if you wish to talk more about that :)

Having a family is not the only thing worth celebrating in life. Part of me believes I'm here to show other women by my own way of living my life that you can be happy and content with an unconventional life - that type of philosophy is certainly something that has yet to be recognized and celebrated more often in our society.

 

HAVING A VOICE. WHAT ARE CAUSE-BASED TOPICS/ISSUES YOU ARE SPEAKING OR DOING SOMETHING ABOUT? HOW CAN OTHERS HELP?

My media site, Brown Gal Trekker, works in conjunction with my social enterprise, Peak Explorations, by promoting women in the outdoors through a film project we're working on that focuses on women hikers. Also, we have a fundraising campaign for our scholarship program to help female porters to become lead guides for Kilimanjaro climbs. Besides these two specific projects, I teach Intro to Wilderness Backpacking and Solo Travel 101 to women to inspire and encourage them to explore the world and the outdoors, solo or otherwise.

The workshops started in D.C. but we're now also teaching in Richmond, Philadelphia, San Diego, L.A. and more to come in the future. The hope is that this initiative will help and support women nationwide. So, if you wish for us to conduct workshops in your city/area, please let us know!

You can learn more about our women empowerment projects via this page: https://www.peakexplorations.com/womenonthemove.

Finally, if you wish to be a part of our mission to empower women and promote diversity, we're always on the lookout for volunteers - you can learn more via this page: https://www.peakexplorations.com/volunteer

 

WORDS OF WISDOM OR ENCOURAGEMENT TO SOMEONE WANTING TO EMBRACE MORE ADVENTURE IN THEIR LIFE?

Below is an excerpt from my first book, Tales of a Brown Gal Trekker (available on Amazon): "...those people who are skeptical about the reason why you travel must understand that traveling at its highest enlightened form is a means to self-discovery. It's an extension of ourselves that dates back to the time when we were children - a stage in our lives when we unapologetically possessed an undying spirit of adventure and courage."

 

BIGGEST FEAR YOU EVERY CONQUERED IN YOUR LIFE?

Fear of solitude - once I dreaded it, now I love every minute I get to adventure solo. Now, I even teach workshops on Solo Travel and Wilderness Backpacking through my enterprise!

 

HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR ADVENTURES?

There are a few ways to follow me but I mainly have two virtual homes:

 www.peakexplorations.com and www.browngaltrekker.com. Through both, you'll find my links to various social media platforms.

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