OOO Series: Adventurer Stephanie Arata

Ever think about how fate has shaped your life? Firewood Senior Project Manager Stephanie Arata has, plenty. She can pinpoint with uncanny accuracy how serendipity has magically altered the course of her life. Stephanie’s story outside of Firewood reminds us how important, and often difficult, it is to achieve perfect work-life balance.

No. 1. “I’m ready to leave suburbia!”

After graduating from CSU San Luis Obispo with a graphic communications degree, Stephanie returned to her native San Jose suburbs and craved for a new life in San Francisco. Fate intervened and she joined a printing firm as a client service production manager focused on digital technology. It was a perfect start.

Jumping for joy on the trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

No. 2. “Just another piece of junk mail?”

New job. New life. Now it was time for new adventures—meet interesting people, eat good food, enjoy endless entertainment, travel, and shopping. But one day, by chance, she received a piece of “junk mail” promoting a rock climbing class for women, taught by women right in her Mission/Noe neighborhood. Stephanie was curious, plus being a natural athlete, she realized she could use the exercise. She signed up and little did she know that she would fall in love twice: first with rock climbing and then with a fellow climber she met climbing, her husband.

Climbing a tree vine in the Amazon jungle, Peru

The adventure bucket list

No. 3. “Outdoor adventure feeds my soul.”

Stephanie, her husband, and her daughter are all outdoor adventurists. On most weekends and holidays, they’re either climbing or hiking in Yosemite, Bishop, or Tahoe or conditioning for the next big getaway. In fact, Stephanie maintains a bucket list of adventurous challenges that she checks off every year.

1km away from Salkantay Pass, Peru 15,200ft   

No. 4. “Can I climb a wonder of the world?”

Like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall, and the Great Pyramid of Giza, Machu Picchu is one the “new Seven Wonders of the World.” This past summer, Stephanie and a close friend decided to visit Machu Picchu and take the three-day trek on the popular Inca Trail. Unfortunately, all the tour spots were sold out. Not to be deterred, Stephanie and her friend decided to take on a much bigger adventure—the less-traveled, longer, and more rugged Salkantay Trail, a four-day, 56-mile mountain trek reaching an altitude of over 15,000 feet.

Machu Picchu, Peru

No. 5. “Machu Picchu totally changed my outlook on life.”

By all social media accounts, the Salkantay Trail is for experienced trekkers; however, even the most fit are often challenged with higher elevations. So this dynamic duo shifted their conditioning into high gear, including long weekend backpacking trips in high altitudes, investing in new gear, and countless hours of research and planning for a Peruvian Andes climb. Stephanie summed up her climb to Machu Picchu by saying, “It totally changed my life, my outlook on life, and will forever be etched as one of my many happy memories.”

Humantay Lake and glacier, Peru 13,779 ft

Glass dome accommodations with Salkantay mountain in the background

No. 6. “Serendipity is truly my friend.”

Stephanie looks back on her life in San Francisco with a big grin. She admits fate has been kind to her. She appreciates her good fortune, and she’s a believer in the magic of a serendipitous life, knowing small quirks of fate can lead to big changes.

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