Ashley Mueller - To Be Fair, It’s The 3rd Tallest Mountain In Oregon!

Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?

There is a quote by  John Muir about the mountains that is so lovely but has turned into quite the cliche, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  This to me, sums up how I feel about nature in general, that nature is calling, and I MUST go.

I grew up in a small cow town with a picturesque view of Mt. Rainer out the living room window - I remember climbing onto my window sill and craning my neck to peek out of my bedroom window to get a glimpse at this majestic mass always looming in the distance, one that made me feel grounded and at home. This is my first memory of my love for mountains.

Nature has always been something I’ve held near and dear to my heart. I grew up camping, hiking, exploring new places, sleeping under the stars, skipping rocks in the creek, catching (and releasing) frogs, fireflies, odd bugs, you name it. I was fortunate to grow up in a place where children could roam free and experience life outside and not behind a screen.

I found my love for nature as a child but have carried it into adulthood. I am lucky to have a profession where I have summers off to adventure and enjoy life. Any summer you’ll find me in one place or the other and never in one place for very long. The joy that a road trip, or hiking a trail that’s been on my list brings me so much excitement and happiness. 

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

When thinking about a pivotal hike, one comes to mind instantly. I had always considered myself as “outdoorsy” I mean, I camp every summer, mountain bike through redwood forests, and hike new terrain at least once a week, super outdoorsy, right?

Well, my outdoorsy ego got handed to me when I hiked to the summit of South Sister, a volcano in Bend, Oregon.  I really thought I was a “mountain person” little did I know, I hadn’t earned my credit just yet... The hike to the summit of South Sister it is a grueling uphill trek, that totals 12 miles round trip.

I hiked it with my adventure buddy, Kellie and it did not disappoint! The hike takes you through many different landscapes starting off fairly easy but ending in an ascent up volcanic skree. I was feeling very confident I would make it to the summit without a hitch - then, altitude sickness moved into my body like a slow creeping fog.

The summit was about a quarter of a mile away, so close, but at this point in our trek, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.

At this point, my mind kept telling me to keep going, to push on and make it to the top - I mean, we had been hiking this mountain for the past 4 hours, I had to keep moving! I always thought of myself as weak when it comes to mental battles, but my mind proved me wrong on this hike.

Step by slow step, I moved on. It was incredible to see that when my body had failed me, my mind came to the rescue. We finally made it to the summit, and my oh my, was that rush of exhilarating triumph worth it! I made it!  The view was okay too, I guess. Just kidding of course! The view was breathtakingly stunning.

Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

Through hiking and mountain biking, I have learned that nature is the most magical gift of all! 

Mother Earth really has gifted us such  spectacular, indescribable, and breathtaking landscapes that I am so fortunate to discover and explore. I have learned there is an adventure around every corner, you are stronger than you think you are, and that people who love the outdoors are some of the coolest people out there! 

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

I love bringing a Yerba Mate on backpacking trips, hikes, or mountain biking! There is something so satisfying drinking a carbonated fizzy drink at the end or top of a trip that just tastes way better than water! You can find a Yerba or if there isn’t a Yerba in my pack you’ll find a yummy craft beer that will be enjoyed. I love trying new beer and usually will pick up local one at wherever I'm hiking! This beer was from, Tioga-Sequoia, called, "Half Dome" and of course had to cheers to that! Go to favorites are Lagunitas, "Sumpin' Easy", Russian River's, "Pliny The Elder" (local to me)

Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?

My advice to hikers just starting out is to make friends in your community! The best hikes are usually hidden gems and only known by people who hike them regularly.

I remember starting out and feeling intimidated by certain hikes but having a solid group of people to go with or show you the ropes is really helpful! It's also a lot safer to hike with other people for safety reasons and it can be a lot more fun! 

Through hiking and mountain biking, I have learned that nature is the most magical gift of all! 

Social media is also super helpful when looking for groups or companions to hike with. Facebook has a lot of groups like, Hikerbabes, Mountain Chicks, and groups who backpack together - it’s a great resource to find local events already happening and so you don’t feel so overwhelmed jumping into it. 

Just follow your heart when it comes to adventure! Your soul will take you where it needs to be! 

What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?

I love looking at the explore page on Instagram and clicking on pictures of insane nature scenes by talented photographers!  I will click on pictures that usually have some sort of water in them and then daydream of adventuring there! It’s really helped me create a list of bucket list hikes/adventures! 

Where’s your next adventure?

My next adventure I have yet to plan (I am a total spontaneous adventurer) but if I had a say it would be going to be Big Sur! I have been so excited to check out this rad destination that is within a days drive of where I live.

Big Sur is stunning and you really can’t go wrong going to a place on the California Coast. The coastline and backpacking accessibility have been something that is drawing me to go.  I have a feeling my one regret when I adventure there will be, “Why haven’t I been here sooner?!” 

My goal for 2020 is to see as many new trails as I possibly can and to achieve my goal of finishing 100 hikes! Currently, I am sitting at 32 out of 100 completed.

I have a few favorite hikes thus far in my journey, one being Alamere Falls in Bolinas, CA. This hike was unreal, you hike a steady descent and end up on the beach where there is a ~30 foot waterfall that cascades onto the beach - it’s unreal!

Of course, I have my favorite hiking spots in my backyard, like Trione-Annadel State Park, coined, “Annadel” and the Clear Lake State Park.  The 32 hikes have been primarily in California but include, Washington, Oregon, and Texas! I can't wait to see what the next 68 hikes have in store for me! 

Where can others learn more about you?

Instagram: @ash24mue


Hikerbabes Norcal Facebook

I hope your adventures are memorable, your heart is full, your eyes see wonders,  your lungs full of fresh air, and your exploring love never stops! Cheers! 

Want to share your Story From The Mountain?

Hey, I'm Greg Kamradt, the founder of Terra Mano.

We interview awesome hikers/mountaineers/climbers/photographers and share the stories behind their ambition. By sharing these stories, we want to help others become inspired to reach their goals.

Interested in sharing your own story? Find out how

Terra Mano makes handcrafted maps of American Landscapes.

Get Stories From The Mountain Delivered directly to your inbox