Volunteer Spotlight - Karen Buehler

  • Posted on 12 September 2019
  • By Krystal Ruiz

You may have seen her on the trail from time to time. Or maybe you’ve read about her backpacking experience on the Sierra Club’s website. Either way, it’s possible that you may have crossed paths with Karen Buehler at some point in Southern California. 
Today, Karen Buehler is known as an avid hiker, backpacker and leader, often working with the Sierra Club and Wilderness Training Committee (WTC). She moved to California as a teen and participated in outdoor activities simply because she enjoyed being outside. When we asked Karen how she got involved with the Sierra Club, her answer was simple; community!
Over the years, Karen had lost touch with her fellow backpacking buddies, but in 2009, she was fortunate enough to find people that shared her passion for hiking and the great outdoors through the Sierra Club. After participating in a number of activities, Karen decided to lead backpacking outings for beginners. Since 2013, Karen has led a number of backpacking trips both locally and in the Sierras, often helping leaders get sponsorship.
She shares a lot of new experiences with people, but Karen’s most cherished experience involves seeing people who are new to the outdoors experience it for the first time. “They light up like children and it is so fulfilling to share my passion with others,” said Karen.
We can all recall exciting moments in our outdoor lives, but one of Karen’s most memorable moments was when she lead a group of WTC students on a two-day backpacking trip on the Bishop Creek Trail up to Chocolate Mountain. “We eventually went off trail, taking only our necessities and leaving our packs behind. When we reached the peak of Chocolate Mountain during mid-morning, it was beautiful,” she recalled.
The Sierra Club has impacted Karen’s life like she never thought it would. Today, she meets all walks of life through community outings and events, often befriending people on Facebook after sharing an outdoor experience. “Even if I don’t see that person again, I can still connect with them online. If we happen to run into each other, we have that shared experience to bond over,” she said.
It is clear that Karen has a strong connection with the outdoors and the outdoor community. Like many of our leaders, she enjoys making a difference in people’s lives by encouraging them to enjoy the freedom of nature and get outside. When we asked Karen how people that are new to nature can get involved, she said:
“There are opportunities for all levels, especially those that find the WTC class intimidating. There’s a beginning backpacking class that is open to beginners, easier hikes and urban hikes that don’t require any skills. There really is something for everyone!”



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