Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?
I did not grow up hiking. I grew up in the city in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My extent getting outside as a kid was limited with more time watching TV than soaking in the sun.
As I got older, I got into running outside year round and got into distance running, running 4 half-marathons. I got into hiking after moving to Washington state and experienced mountains really for the first time. I was hooked.
One of the first hikes I did after moving to Washington was at Mt. Rainier. We did a loop hike and experienced summer in the alpine at it’s prime. The alpine flowers were blooming, all the volcanoes were putting on a show and the mountain bug caught me good that day.
I wanted to explore more and more of Washington after that. I had no hiking skills at this point. I turned to online resources and Instagram to start learning the basics of hiking. I quickly learned about LNT, backpacking skills and what the heck this strange word goretex was.
My inspiration early on was the outdoor community in Washington. I joined the Facebook group PNW Outdoor Women and followed many people getting after it outdoors on Instagram.
I saw women pushing themselves and experiencing joy outside and I wanted to experience this too. I thank the countless mentors that have helped guide me in the outdoors and given me the gift of your time in helping educate me in the outdoor ways.
There are so many things I love about being outside but the top three would probably be the community aspect experienced outdoors, the physical and mental challenge of the activities I do and bringing my love for photography outside.
At this point, hiking is mostly a hobby that has also brought some great opportunities into my life working with many inspiring brands. I’ve gotten to shoot for and work with brands such as Sierra Designs, Klymit, Nemo and more.
I am a social being and love to experience the outdoors with others. It gives me long periods of quality time with others and I really appreciate that.
My favorite place in Washington would be the North Cascades. There is no other place like them with their towering, jagged formidable peaks. They call to me like nothing else. Mt. Rainier also has a soft spot in my heart after completing the Wonderland Trail (a trail that circumnavigates the mountain).
What’s your Story From The Mountain?
One hike, or really technical climb that stands out as life changed before and after, would be my climb of Mt. Baker last spring. I trained all winter and spring to work on my mountaineering skills.
We practiced knots on a dining room table into the night learning their use and function. My favorite knot would have to be the butterfly knot. It looks so elegant and I love its functionality.
We practiced walking as a rope team in a local city park and literally figured out the ropes. We slept on the snow banks of Rainier and practiced self arrest skills together and a mock alpine start. We were a team and confident in our skills. As confident as we could be.
The time had come to put all our skills to the test on the 10,781 foot volcano, Mt. Baker. Leading up to the climb, the weather window looked ideal, but of course living in the PNW, one can’t count on weather models.
The alpine flowers were blooming, all the volcanoes were putting on a show and the mountain bug caught me good that day.
The mountains make their own weather. We left Seattle on a very early Friday morning. We stopped for coffee on the way and the barista asked where we were hiking, in our obvious hiking attire. We said we weren't hiking, we were doing a technical mountaineering climb of Mt. Baker and we were going all the way to the top, or at least that was the plan.
We arrived to the trailhead full of jitters and anxiety to meet our first crevasse for the first time. We hiked till we made camp and got an early bedtime of 6:00 PM. We would have a 1:00 AM wake up after all.
The alarm went off and we donned our crampons on beloved Goretex gear. The anxiety cranked full force as we quickly walked past our first huge crevasses. These things could swallow you whole. We ran into not ideal weather on the way up, getting swallowed in clouds and fog and eventually wind.
We pressed on as we felt it was safe enough to. We made it past the crux, the Roman Wall. This was the steepest part of the climb I had been dreading. We all made it past it fine and within 20 minutes were standing on the summit of a volcano together. I let happy tears stroll down my face as we embraced with hugs and joy. We couldn’t stay long as the wind was whipping hard so we descended.
Before this climb I wasn’t sure I had what it took to be a mountaineer. I’m not particularly fit or fast or athletic, but I have the determination and endurance to make it. After this day I could call myself a mountaineer and be proud of the anxieties and personal barriers I overcame to make it to the top.
Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?
I want to be known for being an ordinary person doing incredible things. I want to influence other women to get out of their comfort zone and into the backcountry (or whatever the challenge is for them) and break down personal barriers and limitations.
I want to do this through sharing my story, the ups and downs and everything in between. I want to inspire others to connect with their public lands through my photography.
I feel like I have not found my limit yet and this is very exciting. I want to keep pushing the bar a little further and further while still having safety be a number one priority. I hope this mountaineering season I can push my limits a little further with aspirations of climbing Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Olympus.
Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?
The best way to be a beginner is to start where you are. I’ve been a beginner at more things I can count. My latest adventure has been skiing, which has been very humbling to learn as an adult. Some days can be disheartening and feel like you’re not making progress while others feel like you’ve made leaps and gains in one day.
I think this goes for every outdoor activity. The key is to focus on having a good time and not being too hard on yourself. Stop and think about where you came from and where you are now and revel in that progress while looking forward to where you want to go.
When I started hiking I literally made a goal to increase the mileage and elevation gain a little week by week. I started with one of the most popular hikes in the area, Rattlesnake Ridge. At 4 miles it felt doable. After that I added on more and more every week until a couple months later I made it up Mt. Si (8 miles/ 3,200 gain). This felt like such a huge accomplishment at the time as the hardest hike I had done. I felt so proud. That feeling is one I wanted to keep chasing which led me to get into backpacking next.
What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?
Some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow that give me inspiration are @she_explores, @pnwoutdoorwomen, @choosemountainswomen, @rockclimbingwomen, @mountaineersorg, @washingtontrails
Favorite outdoor podcasts include The Sharp End, The Dirtbag Diaries and The Firn Line
Where can others learn more about you?
I write trip reports and blog posts on my website at sarinaclark.com. You can also find me on Instagram at @sarina_clark.
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