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Trip Guide

Kaylee Kuzma

I grew up in Waterford, Pennsylvania where spending time in the outdoors as a kid usually meant hunting, fishing, riding four-wheelers, swimming in creeks or the lake, or playing in mud pits. The area is easy to describe: It’s very flat with lots of farmland. Looking back, I don’t think I even saw a mountain (aside from pictures) until after I graduated from high school.

I always dreamt of moving out west, but during a college visit to West Virginia University, something just felt right. So, I locked myself into the East Coast for another four years.

While there, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology with an Emphasis in Aquatic Therapy.

I also got involved in the Adventure West Virginia program as both a participant and leader. Best decision ever! Through this program, I got my first taste of the West, my first in-person view of the Rockies, and new outdoor experiences of hiking/camping, rafting, climbing, etc.

Needless to say, I caught the wanderlust bug.

Despite this, after graduating, I once again deferred any grand outdoor adventures and decided to pursue graduate school in Pittsburgh.

Although I was lightheartedly considered a traitor by my friends from undergrad for my school selection, I accepted an offer to attend the University of Pittsburgh to study physical therapy. I officially graduated with my Doctorate degree in April.

After dedicating the last seven years to schoolwork and the last three living in a city, I’m ready to leave it all behind and spend some much-needed time in the outdoors.

 

What’s Your Favorite Vacation?

Anywhere where you can metaphorically get “lost in nature”. My favorite experiences haven’t necessarily been anything crazy adventurous or intense. Instead, I’ve found the most enjoyable experiences are when you find yourself in a place so remote there’s no visible or auditory signs of human impact and you can detach from society for a while.

Favorite Hike?

It’s not necessarily a marked trailhead any longer due to the “sketchiness” of the trail, but the Devil’s Thumb hike in Banff is amazing. Once you scramble to the top you can see everything, from Lake Moraine and Lake Louise surrounded by green forest on one side with a 180 turn to see a beautiful snow covered mountain view.

What Destination Would You Like to Visit?

Right now I have a running list of all the places I want to see, I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for, but Patagonia is certainly high on the list right now.

Describe the Most Amazing Experience  You’ve Had While Traveling?

Well, we decided to take a chance and hike out to one of the many remote lakes within Banff National Park that aren’t necessarily the typical “go-to’s”. We kept weaving through the forest for so long I thought we got lost or somehow missed the lake when all of a sudden the trees parted and we were looking out over this turquoise blue lake. It was hidden so perfectly by mountains on one side, a large shoreline of rocks on another, and a forest encircling the rest. We found a large flat rock and just sat silently enjoying the scenery and the sounds. It was so peaceful when suddenly we heard the distant howls of wolves. It was a hauntingly beautiful noise (and far enough away that we didn’t have safety concerns) and really brought the moment and place all together. I’ll always remember that experience, and if I ever return to Banff I’d hike there again in a heartbeat.

Favorite TV Series?

Hands down, Parks and Recreation. I’ve watched every season/episode in order at least five times. Ron Swanson is everything.

Favorite Book?

At this point anything that isn’t related to school or schoolwork.

Favorite Song?

I go through songs of the week fairly regularly so it all depends. But, if you play anything by Eric Church or George Straight, you can’t go wrong.

Favorite Outdoor Activity?

Paddle-boarding. I actually decided to “treat myself” after finishing a particularly hard semester of graduate school by splurging on my first inflatable stand-up paddleboard. Although my bank account probably regretted it, I certainly did not.

What Are Your Hobbies?

I love cuddling with my dog and admiring her cute-ness. But I really enjoy anything outside in the sun, especially after the never-ending winter the East Coast has had this year.

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