Menard Jaramillo

What draws you to hiking and the greater outdoors in general?

I grew up on a farm near the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico. Even as a kid, I loved being outdoors seeing our apple orchard in bloom in the spring and fishing at a nearby stream, feeding our animals-so very close to nature. My fondest memory growing up was going camping in the Pecos National Forest and the Jemez Mountains. I lived in Albuquerque for many years and hiked the 11-mile La Luz Trail. I love the Sandia Mountains there. I think they are one of the most majestic mountains anywhere. My appreciation for beauty and the majesty of nature took me too many mountains in Norway, Switzerland, France, California, Peru and of course my beloved Santa Monica Mountains in California. The draw for me hiking and being outdoors is my love of the beauty and majesty of nature, the greatness of all creation as well as the camaraderie of like-minded men. Men are at there best when they are hiking and in nature. It is a place where men can be their true selves.

Why do you like GayOutdoors?

It draws like-minded men that not only enjoy the beauty of nature, but also have a sense of adventure and a love of life. 

What would members be most surprised to learn about you?

That I get lost easy. That's why I always checkout every detail about a trip including how to get there. 

What was your first GO adventure? How did it turn out?

My first GO adventure was on June 26th in the Santa Monica Mountains-The Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak. I am doing this hike again on March 31st. About 13 guys attended and we had a great time bonding. I am friends and keep in contact with most of these guys.

A little backfill on how I got started leading hikes. About 2 years ago, I worked in Illinois in the dead of winter for 4 months and couldn't be outdoors much due to the extreme cold. When I returned to California, I was so starved to be outdoors so I started hiking with friends and the Great Outdoors. I started to lead hikes and found out that as much as I loved to be outdoors, I loved even more the camaraderie of our fellowship. I especially loved to see how people for the first time meeting on the hikes quickly started to converse and gel as a group. I really enjoy seeing people having a good time and that is why I love leading hikes. The conversations that spark and the bonds that form during a hike is truly amazing.

Hikes/Adventures that should not be missed? 

  • All of Turkey and ballooning in Cappadocia
  • Switzerland ~ the Jungfrau near Interlaken and Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne
  • The Dolomites in Italy
  • The Geiranger Fjord, driving on the Trollstigen Road and hiking a glacier in Norway
  • Machu Picchu
  • Yosemite
  • Chamonix and Mont Blanc
  • Northern New Mexico ~ Sante Fe, Taos, Abuiquiu

Places I would like go: New Zealand, Nepal, hiking the Mont Blanc circuit, hiking in Switzerland, Kilimanjaro

Best Outdoor Advice You Ever Got? 

Make sure you scout a trail before leading one. 

What is your favorite place in California?

Big Sur, Yosemite, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Russian River, Napa and Sonoma 

What is your secret talent?

I'm a crooner in the shower. 

What is the worst outdoor adventure you ever had and why?

I went hiking alone and didn't tell anyone and came across a rattlesnake. The trail was overgrown and narrow like a trench. I threw a stick at the snake and it crawled away, but I then imagined that the trail was full of snakes and ran down. I wasn't screaming out loud, but if you could have read my mind...I won't hike alone ever again. 

What is your most embarrasing moment?

Mistaking our company VPO for someone else.

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Hiking, backpacking, camping or vacation adventures, GayOutdoors [GO] has been the LGBTQ outdoorzy community leader for the last 22 years. We are an informal group of diverse hiking enthusiasts in the United States with a shared love of the mountains who prefer hiking with friends. We invite you to join us on our hikes, to post hikes for other members to join you and to share your hiking photos, stories and advice.

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If you find it invigorating to hike along a mountain trail with friends not knowing what’s just around the corner, to get some fresh air, to stop and soak in the views on a summit, and to soak your feet in a mountain brook after a hike, give us a try!


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