Hiking - Experience

Dinorah Arambula: Respecting the Gift of Life and the Mountains!

886 Views - 9 mins read

How many of us follow the saying- live your life to the fullest? Do you follow your passion or are you someone who is still trying to pursue one? Life is totally unpredictable and hardly gives us second chances. But when it does gives a second chance, we should grab it instantly. A perfect example for this is Dinorah Arambula, a passionate hiker, who got a second chance at life and is now living her dream life to the fullest. We at Livingit connected with Dinorah for the #IamLivingit series which is all about people living their dreams and passionately following it.

It was 2009 when life gave Dinorah a reality check. Both her kidneys were failing and for almost 2 years she was on dialysis. Yet, that didn’t lose hope! Life indeed was kind to her and in 2011 she got her donor and ever since then her life has changed. She takes us on her journey, through the mountains of Las Vegas and inspires us to respect what we have and what we get. Her inspiring stories will definitely urge you to follow your passion in life as life rarely gives second chances!

Livingit: Tell us something about yourself?
Dinorah Arambula:
My name is Dinorah Arambula, I am a hiker and I have been living in Las Vegas since 1996. I moved from Los Angeles looking for something new, especially looking for an outdoor living. And it was my visit to the Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas that made me move to this wonderful place. I wanted something better for me and my family and it’s been over 20 years. I am an avid hiker and love photography.

Dinorah Arambula: Kidney Recipient - Respecting Life and Mountains
Dinorah Arambula: Full of life!

Livingit: How and when did you start trekking? What motivated you to do so?
Dinorah Arambula: I grew up in a small town in Mexico, and as a kid, we use to go to a mountain by our town. The views from the top of a mountain, always made me feel happy, relaxed, and peaceful. The first time I visited Red Rock, I said to myself, “Some day, I will stand on top of all those peaks!” But I was too busy at work, and I was getting sick, my kidneys started failing, and I was losing all my energy. I still kept visiting Red Rock, just short walks taking pictures with my camera.

However, in 2007, my condition got worst, and in 2009, my kidneys failed almost completely, and I needed to start dialysis right away. I was on dialysis for almost 2 years. Until in February 2011, I received a kidney transplant that not only saved my life but motivated me to do all those things I always wanted to do. My motto at that time was to take things one step at a time. Similarly, when I was on dialysis, I was taking one day at a time while waiting for my Gift of Life.

About 2 years after my transplant, I completed pretty much all peaks in Red Rock. I learned that we don’t have to take life for granted, I know my new kidney won’t last forever, so I am hiking and enjoying the views from the top of the mountains before my kidney fails again.

Livingit: What motivated you? Do you have a mentor?
Dinorah Arambula: The reason and motive that inspire me to keep going, is my donor. Without the sacrifice of that angel who one day said, “Yes to Organ Donation”, there wouldn’t be a story to tell. Everywhere I go, everything I do, and all accomplishments I’ve done, is because of my unknown donor. I always keep my hero in mind and pay my respects being grateful every day when I wake up.

Livingit: What kinds of treks do you prefer – solo or with friends?
Dinorah Arambula: When I started hiking after my transplant, I didn’t know about hiking groups here in Las Vegas. I was hiking alone, exploring and sometimes with no place where to go, or afraid to get lost, it wasn’t fun at all, I needed something else. Then, I found out about a great hiking group, Hiking Las Vegas. I joined them and not only felt safer hiking in a group, but I started meeting other hikers and made friends, and I believe, that is the best part of hiking in a group.

Livingit: Tell us about how it was to trek with groups?
Dinorah Arambula:
The first group I joined was Hiking Las Vegas, I was interested in the program the group offer, hiking all peaks around Las Vegas and getting a reward. It was really motivating for me. There are some great leaders who helped me to accomplish my goal, one peak at a time. Then, I met other hikers that showed me another group around Las Vegas, with different goals, but always going and explore the great outdoors here in Las Vegas and regions around the city.

Joining and hiking with groups is a great experience, we help and encourage each other, we tell stories, we became a family, a hiking family, and being part of this great family is one of the best parts when we belong to a group.

Livingit: Tell us something about your gear. What are the things that you always carry?
Dinorah Arambula: During my first hike, I didn’t know much about gear. I just bought a simple back pack, and some random shoes, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I was hiking alone, and I wanted to be comfortable. It was until I joined the first group, and doing some more technical and longer hikes, I was introduced to 5-10’s shoes, I tried and I felt the big difference when hiking, especially walking on sandstone, it made feel more confident and safer.

Ever since I only hike wearing 5-10’s. I used to carry a generic brand backpack, but now I use 2 different brands, Osprey and the Geigerrig. Geigerrig was from a friend and it is the perfect companion during a hike. It is durable, carries all my essentials and I totally love it.

Livingit: Being a kidney recipient, how do you stay fit? Share with us your training plan and how hiking has helped you in your life?
Dinorah Arambula: Transplant recipients get lots of medications to make sure our transplanted organ stay in shape and is not rejected. It is important for us to stay in shape since some of those medications will make us gain weight easily. And since I compete in track and field for the Transplant Games every year, I run/walk an average of 4-5 miles at least 4 times a week. Running and practicing for the games, I mostly do all the races – from the 100 meters to the 1500 meters, and also the 5K run race also helps me to stay in shape for hiking.

Dinorah Arambula: Kidney Recipient - Respecting Life and Mountains

Also, all the hiking exercises, help me to be ready for competitions. These two activities help me not only to stay in good physical condition but also mentally and emotionally prepare me for anything that can happen during hiking.

Livingit: Any crazy treks that you’ve embarked on? Could you elaborate a bit?
Dinorah Arambula: I always listened to stories from my friends about hiking Mount Whitney, so a couple years ago, I finally was able to get permits to hike and climb Whitney.

My biggest fear about long hikes and backpacking trips is water. As a kidney recipient, we can only drink purified water, that means I have to carry all water I will need for any trip, no filtered water from rivers or creek running water for me. Early morning we started our final ascent to the peak. It was a beautiful day at the beginning, but all of a sudden the weather turned cloudy and there was a heavy downpour with snow. On reaching closer to the peak, major lightning struck and changed our entire trip. Lightning, snow and freezing rain didn’t let us reach the peak and I find this experience a crazy one. One day I would stand top of the Mount Whitney peak!

Livingit: Share with us one of your best trekking memories?
Dinorah Arambula: When I was living in Los Angeles, I always wanted to hike the Mount Baldy ( AKA San Antonio) in the San Gabriel mountains. And I made my dreams come true by solo hiking the Mount Baldy. The best thing was that the weather was blissful, letting me enjoy the picturesque landscape and making my trip a memorable one.

Dinorah Arambula: Kidney Recipient - Respecting Life and Mountains
At Mount Baldy

Livingit: Any not so good experiences while trekking and how did you overcome it?
Dinorah Arambula:
One of my first hikes with Hiking Las Vegas, was to climb Macks North peak in the Spring Mountains in Las Vegas, we knew it wasn’t an easy hike. We had a great group, and everybody was happy, taking pictures and enjoying the hike. We successfully made to the peak and had a quick break. I was walking ahead in the group with the experienced hikers when we heard some rocks rolling down.

The other hikers warned us about the rocks rolling down, but it was too late for a run. Unfortunately, our leader was wounded with the rocks (that practically saved my life, that rock was coming straight on my head) and I was hit by a couple of small rocks. We needed medical attention soon. Luckily, one of the experienced hikers had a radio, he was able to contact the rescue. Since it was getting late, and soon to be dark, it was important to make decisions.

I evaluated the situation, I took the lead, and I was able to take the group safe back to our cars. I will say, this was the worst experience I ever been since I started hiking.

Livingit: How do you deal with unpredictable factors such as the weather while trekking?
Dinorah Arambula:
As a leader, I know how important it is to lead a group of enthusiastic hikers. So I would say respect the mountains, weather and always research before the hike. We all know, the weather is unpredictable, so we stay alert of the surroundings and the skies. If we see snow/ice on the trail or clouds forming, or wind increasing, we turn back, reaching a peak isn’t worth to try if the weather is not favorable and it doesn’t make sense to put our lives at risk.

Livingit: Do you plan overnight trekking trips?
Dinorah Arambula: As I mentioned before, because of my health condition, I don’t do backpacking trips. However, I’ve done some car camping trips. It requires lots of details, since getting a spot where we are going to getting all the needs. Also researching the area where we will be hiking, to make sure we will enjoy the trip and bring home good memories.

Dinorah Arambula: Kidney Recipient - Respecting Life and Mountains

Livingit: What are your top 5 essentials to pack while trekking?
Dinorah Arambula: I am sure everyone had a different view of what is important to bring. Things I always carry is:

  • a first aid kit
  • extra water
  • headlamp
  • extra protein bars, and
  • fire starter.

Livingit: Any piece of advice for fellow aspiring hikers?
Dinorah Arambula:
To know how to pack, packing light but all essentials are important. Always look after another and at the same time, build trust in your trekking buddies. Get prepare for physical toughness, climbing is not a walk in the park, build some resistance and stamina. Appreciate and respect for the mountains. always stay on the trails, enjoy the beauty of the mountains, not destroy or interfere with nature.

Dinorah Arambula: Kidney Recipient - Respecting Life and Mountains

Livingit: What places are next on your bucket list?
Dinorah Arambula: There are so many places I want to go, take pictures, enjoy the views, to live my second life to the fullest. I definitely will try to go and finish the hike to Mount Whitney, I was so close..!

I also hope I can do the Half Dome, most of my friends had done it. Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon is also on my list. The Valley of the ten peaks in Banff National park in Alberta. Between hiking trips and transplant games competition, I will be busy and in good shape for anything coming up in my life.

Dinorah Arambula: Kidney Recipient - Respecting Life and Mountains

After all, I am living my second chance thanks to my angel donor.

Find it interesting? Also, read about Branch Whitney: Making Mountains his Home

Isn’t her story inspiring? Do you need any more reasons to follow your dreams or passion? If you want to hike then just go ahead, because, life is a gift so cherish it and follow your dreams.

Do you know someone inspiring? Share their story with us. Start #Livingit!