Trailblazing online and off
Morgan Steinmetz is a certified holistic health coach who authors Blissful Eating (www.blissfuleating.com) and the local hiking guide, 360 Guam (www.360Guam.com). The avid hiker from San Francisco, Calif., landed here three years ago with her husband who works for the Navy. She teamed up with coauthor Cole who writes for the “Living Military on Guam” page of 360, which is currently under construction to ensure newbies get guidance whether on Guam’s trails or on the path to PCSing here. We talked with Morgan for this debut of the weekly 360 Guam feature in Stripes Guam.
Q. When and how did 360 Guam come about?
A. I felt like there was a need for a more picture-based hike guide here on Guam, because the natural beauty is the island’s best feature. I also wanted there to be an online resource for hiking. Personally, when I am picking a hike I want to do, I like to choose based on the beauty of what I’ll be trekking out to see. I also want to feel like I won’t get lost, even if the trail is hard to find. This is why I oftentimes use pictures when I describe trail guides, so that you feel like you’ve already been there and you can tell you’re on the right path based on landmarks.
I am so grateful to Dave and Bev Lotz for their book, “The Best Tracks on Guam,” because without them, this site wouldn’t be possible. For the first year I lived here, my husband and I carried this book with us everywhere we went and it took us to so many beautiful places. I definitely recommend people pick it up at the NEX or Andersen Outdoor Rec (or locations off base).
Q. What motivated you to start 360 Guam?
A. I wished it had already existed back when I first got to Guam. I knew it was something I would use. Every time I’d have friends or family come to visit, I’d have to rack my brain thinking about which hikes they could do based on their physical ability. Then I’d also have to remember which hikes were both easy and had the most beautiful sights, because everyone can do those ones. I really wished there was a way to identify these hikes at the click of a mouse. I also wished I could see the hikes grouped by feature for people who had special interests, like my step-mother who loves history and thus would have loved to see all the World War II historic sites.
Q. What do you hope the site will achieve?
A. I hope the website will preserve the instructions for hiking on Guam forever. I hope that this website helps short-term visitors (like TADing or port-calling military members) explore the island, even if they don’t know anyone here. I hope this website shows the families who have PCSed here that there are easy ways to get to some really gorgeous places. I hope it shows them that it would be insane to not see these sights in the short time that they are living in this secret island paradise. I hope it helps people who move here fall in love with the island the way that I have. So many people stay inside or only visit downtown Tumon, so they have no idea how special living on this island truly is.
Q. What’s the single most important thing newbies to Guam should know about hiking here?
A. The single most important thing that newbies should know about hiking on Guam is that the elements are a serious threat to your safety here, so watch them and play it safe. If you are doing a hike that goes down into a river gully, make sure the chance of heavy rain is very low. Flash floods can occur and can be fatal. If you are doing a hike that only works at low tide, be sure to verify how long that low tide will last. If you are hiking to an ocean spot for swimming or cliff jumping, only go when the waves are gentle. Read up about rip tides and what to do if you are caught in one. Never hike alone and call 911 immediately if problems arise.
Q. Can you say a bit about how long you’ve been hiking and where?
A. I would say I started hiking more seriously after college. As a kid, we used to hike the top part of Mt. Diablo, where I’m from in California. I liked to hike in Eugene, Oregon where I went to college. When I lived in Thailand I did Hash House Harriers, which combines running, racing, and hiking. My husband and I hiked a lot especially on the island of Oahu, where we met. We actually met through our interests of rock climbing and hiking.
Q. How often do you hike on Guam?
A. Since I work a lot on my other website, I hike in spurts. Sometimes I’ll do three to four hikes in one week, and other times I won’t hike because I’m working so much. Just recently when my dad visited, we did 10 hikes in four days!
Q. What’s your favorite hike on Guam so far?
A. I guess I’d say Haputo is one of my all-time favorites because it has pristine, white sand that leads all the way into the ocean. You don’t have to worry about stepping on a sea cucumber or wear water shoes to swim. It’s also usually totally deserted because it’s a bit of a hike down to the beach. Marbo and Spanish Steps are tied for second.
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