Making new footprints

Posted on October 4, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Always a person who loved being outdoors and volunteering in her community, Dr. Kimberly Hubenette, a member of Sonoma Valley Rotary Club, is finding a new level of appreciation and solace in her weekly hikes and hiking trips.

After losing her husband Mark in 2019, Hubenette, owner of Synergy Dental Group, has turned her love of nature into a chance to take on new hiking challenges and support a local non-profit organization.

“Growing up, my dad was a survivalist and took us four-wheeling in the desert and camping,” she says. “Mark was also a survivalist and volunteered for Sonoma Search and Rescue for eight years.”

In mid-August Hubenette joined a hiking group led by Tony Passantino, Sonoma Ecology Center education program manager, that took them from Mammoth Lake to Yosemite. Proceeds from the fundraising hike for the End World Hunger Foundation (EWHF) supported the Sonoma Community Garden’s project. 

This year, Hubenette and Passantino were joined by two newcomers, Sandra Otter, a fellow Rotarian and Arsel Perez, who helps Passantino lead bilingual hikes at Sugarloaf State Park. Last year, the EWHF trip was a hike up Half Dome, Hubenette’s first lengthy hike.

“It is such a feat to do these hikes. It is all about being in the wilderness, survival, living off the land and making only footprints.”


Hubenette prepared for their hike with practice hikes as a group and individually this past summer.  Dr. Kimberly and her group were doing four- to five-mile hikes with increasingly heavy backpacks to prepare for the long, high-altitude trek.

This year’s hike was 32 miles long, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday afternoon. 

“The highlight and most challenging part of the hike was when we reached the highest summit on our path called Donohue Pass. We had to fight altitude issues, headaches, and heat. But once we had that part of the hike completed, we knew we could do the rest,” she explains. “Dropping down from the Ansel Adams Wilderness to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite was amazing with the beauty and wildlife. We were far away from the area that had been ravaged by the fires, but there were times we smelled whiffs of smoke in the air.”

Hubenette and her fellow hikers are planning to complete another part of the  Pacific Crest Trail next year – the high country of Yosemite to Otter Lake. Sandra Otter will finally see the lake named after her grandfather, adding special significance to the group’s 2023 plans.

In addition to her hiking adventures, Hubenette has become a published author. Her interest in getting to know her patients and hearing many of the stories people shared about surviving the 2017 fires, prompted her to write her book Grid which was published earlier this year.

The book’s main character is a woman who has a second chance at life. “Surviving a tragic loss inspired me to write the book, but the main character is not me. It is not a biography. It is a fiction novel, yet incorporates stories that my friends, patients, and I share experiences with,” explains Hubenette. “There is a big part of me that went into writing this book. I wanted an interesting read, but I knew it had to include practical information.” 

Grid also includes a section on emergency preparedness for yourself and your pets. “I always have a go-bag for myself and my dog Dakota, my four-year-old pit bull. She is my rescue and my hiking buddy,” she says with a smile.

Along with her new book, Hubenette has been busy running her dental practice as well as speaking at book signing events, camping, hiking, Rotary events, and spending time with family.

“I took my nephew zip-lining recently and I joined an outdoor lifestyle club with activities such as archery, hunting, and fishing,” she says happily. “Think about your bucket list and what are things that you really want to do. Try it and do it. What is stopping you from checking things off your list? My goal is to hike portions of the John Muir Trail every year until I complete the whole trail. Doing outdoor activities  keeps me happy and feeling healthy. It is so important to stay active”.  

She’s also a Biohacker daily, an app that uses environment and genetics to help you stay healthy.

“The past couple years for me have been a time where I have gained a greater appreciation for life and people and a greater appreciation for my health,” she reflects. “I’m taking more time to relax and smell the flowers.”




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