Dog Mountain is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge and sits at a whopping 2950’ of elevation. On a normal day, the hike is a kickass 7.2 miles roundtrip that takes in just about 4 hours. Let’s say I wish I had done this hike on an average day!
My friend Hailey and I left Portland that morning about 2 hours too late, so by the time we got on the road we already knew the time on the mountain would be limited, and that’s when the rain kicked in. The storm got so bad on the drive that we started to look for back-up hikes in the gorge the entire ride up to Dog Mountain. We knew the hike was going to be extremely tough, and to be honest with you guys, I can comfortably say I’m a bit out of shape! But we persevered, and by the time we got to the trailhead, the rain had stopped. We thought we’d have blue skies for the next couple of hours, or so we thought.
The trail starts steep, and when I say steep, I mean holding onto your knees to push through, wishing you had hiking poles, steep. It’s the sort of steep that makes you feel like there’s no reason to continue and almost makes you question what in the world you were thinking in the first place. Of course, that’s all extremely dramatic, but it seriously killed my legs. About a mile into the hike you’ll come upon a fork in the trail with this sign, giving you the option of a steep path to the right, or a more difficult trail to the left. We chose the former. Although I can only speak for the challenging trail to the right, I heard from multiple hikers that day that the “more difficult” path to the left is extra and unnecessary mileage that merely takes you through more of the forest, rather than the riverside of the mountain with the gorgeous views.
About a mile after the fork, you’ll finally reach what a few hiking sites call the “Puppy Lookout” because it’s a perfect intro to the views Dog Mountain shows at the summit. Although you’re only about halfway up in the elevation gain, the view is incredible, and I wish we could’ve sat there and appreciated it for a longer time. By the end of our quick photo shoot, the fog started to roll in, and Hailey and I began to fear for our lives for lack of better words. We did not plan just for the wind storm we were about to witness. Thankfully, about 100 yards past the lookout there was a forest patch with a thick covering of trees for us to stop for a cider and a sandwich we packed before we pushed on. Once we finished up lunch under the somewhat warm cover, we decided we’d push on to where other hikers urged us to - the fire lookout. Even if the storm rolled in hard enough for us not be able to reach the top, the fire lookout would give us the views that we’d worked so freaking hard to see!
Unfortunately, by the time we had reached the fire lookout we realized two things:
1. The fire lookout was no longer there. It’s merely a platform in the mountain where the lookout used to be for firefighters to look out onto the Oregon side of the Gorge during the dry season.
2. The fog had rolled in so thick there were no views to be appreciated.
From the fire lookout platform, we only had about three-quarters of a mile left, but that’s when the trail started to look like this. Not only had the fog wholly covered the path 5 yards in front of us, but the winds had reached nearly 40mph. One foot in front of the other, the trail became narrower and narrower and dropped off to a cliff on the left-hand side.
About 200 yards from the top of Dog Mountain, there’s a large rock formation that Hailey and I had to hide behind for 5 minutes or so to warm up our bodies before doing the final climb to the top. We were shivering, it was starting to rain, and the wind still hadn’t let up at all. After we rested for a few minutes, we made our final ascent to the top. There were entirely no views, and we were soaking wet. But at that moment, I felt pure bliss.
At the start of the day, both of us were doubting we’d make it to the top of this hike. We had heard stories about how kick ass it was and how the elevation gain might kill us, both feeling out of shape ahead of time didn’t help either. And then the rain and the fog drew in and we started to make just small milestones for ourselves; “Let’s just make it to that first viewpoint” or “If we feel like we should turn back after the fire lookout, that’s fine.” But we persisted, and we kicked that hike’s butt. It’s an empowering feeling to finish something that you thought you couldn’t. To be doubting yourself for an entire walk and then to reach the top. The view isn’t what was important, because, at that moment, all that mattered was that we had done it and proved to ourselves that we could.
Overall the hike took us 4 hours, including our lunch break under the forest covering and the quick break to warm up behind the rock formation. Descending back down to the car was a bit rough on our knees and hips, but we had such an adrenaline rush that it didn’t even matter. By the time we got back to the car, my FitBit had read the following stats: 315 flights of stairs, 7.16 miles, and 1,168 calories burned.
Each hike I do, I learn a little bit more about myself. What Dog Mountain taught me is that I’m always stronger than what I think, and it’s not the view at the end that matters, but the journey I took to get there. Dog Mountain was the perfect way to end 2018, proving to myself that I have what it takes to push on through 2019 and to test myself and my limits even harder. So cheers to a year of adventures and hopefully many more summits and ciders!
Winter hiking is a beautiful, peaceful beast waiting for its unleash into your outdoor life. So many people forget about their natural roots when the darkness grows longer and the temperature drops, but if you’re anything like me, you crave that organic connection to mother nature. There are so many reasons to hike this winter, and we don’t want you to miss out on a single second of the cold, crisp sunshine!
Let me Convince You…
If these three reasons to get outside and hike this winter don’t convince you, nothing will.
1. Trails are often desolate; few people want to brave the cold temperatures or own the proper gear to do so. Some of the busiest landscapes become barren beauties at first snowfall.
2. Your senses will be surprised by new smells and sights on the same ‘old’ trails you usually hike! Snow and biting temperatures vastly change your favorite trails making them seem almost brand new.
3. Bug phobia? Fear of woman-eating animals? Don’t sweat it under winter conditions. Enjoy the lack of bug deterrent, bear spray and bug bites when you hike during this season.
Find the Perfect Outfit
When winter hiking is brought up, especially in the snowy parts of the world, many people’s first response is “But it’s cold.” Although they’re not wrong, proper layering is a beautiful thing that can make or break your adventure. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to apparel.
Let's start from the bottom up.
FEET: Insulated, waterproof winter hiking boots are an absolute must alongside wool socks (pack a spare pair!). I prefer my boots have ample ankle support since I’m often snowshoeing to my destination on winter hikes or worrying about the dreaded sneaky post-hole. And seriously, toe warmers are a woman's best friend. As an individual with terrible circulation, toe warmers have been the key to my winter hiking success.
LEGS: A bottom wicking layer, usually leggings made of synthetic fabric for this chick, help to pull the moisture away from the skin. Depending on the temperature, you may choose to go straight to hard-shell water and windproof pant OR add a soft-shell fleece layer in between. I own a great pair of Eddie Bauer hiking pants that are water and wind resistant and fleece lined; these are my favorite for winter hikes.
TORSO: The top half is very similar to the bottom. A wicking layer first (wool works well on top or any synthetic fabric that pulls moisture from the skin) followed by fleece and finally a wind and waterproof outer layer or shell. I find that for a challenging ascent in decent winter temperatures, a base layer, a fleece, and my Cotopaxi windbreaker do the trick until I descend! I also carry a packable down jacket for extra warmth on the summit or overlook; wearing a vest over your mid-layer (weather dependent) is also an option I fall back on for warmer days but ALWAYS pack a full outer layer just in case.
HANDS: I prefer mittens for my hands so I can put my hand warmers in with my fingers since my circulation is awful. Always pack two pairs of gloves; I wear a lighter pair for the more strenuous part of the hike such as a mountain ascent and save the hard-shelled, warm and toasty pair for the return trip. While you’re working hard your extremities won’t feel as cold but after a few accidental hands in the snow, or hard earned sweaty palms followed by potential downtime on a windy summit you’ll want a quick change.
HEAD: Wear a warm hat as well and be sure to pack an extra for when the original cap gets sweaty. Fleece lined caps with ear flaps can be an absolute lifesaver. Other items I like to wear or bring along include a buff to cover my nose and mouth but still allow for airflow; sunglasses or snow goggles to protect your eyes from wind and the UV rays off the bright white snow are very helpful as well.
Don’t Leave Home Without This Gear!
Camp Blanket/ Emergency Reflective Blanket
First Aid Kit
Snacks, and Lots of Them
Headlamp(s) (Spare Batteries!)
And a Comfortable Pack to Throw it All in!
A Few Additional Tips
Remember to be up to date on weather conditions; as you climb in altitude, the climate completely changes and is often colder, windier and less forgiving.
Always tell someone where you’re going to be and what route you plan to take; check back in with them at the end of your hike, so they know you’re okay! Similarly, make sure to sign into and out of all appropriate trail registers.
Look up and be aware of trail conditions. Water crossing dangers and other less than ideal winter conditions should cause alarm and potential rescheduling. Your favorite trails will look entirely different when they’re barren of leaves and full of snow; be sure to brush up on your navigation skills!
Don’t ever be afraid to turn back! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
As we slowly but surely begin understanding more about climate change and the environment, and most importantly - the role and impact we as humans play in all of it, it’s important to critically analyze our traditions and behaviors that, albeit mostly innocently, contribute to the adverse effects we have on our planet. Did you know that there are over 25 holidays of a variety of origins that occur between November and January? No matter what holiday you celebrate, there seems to be a consensus that this time of year is a time for gratitude, togetherness, and tradition. However, if you look past the eating, the vacation days, and the gift-giving, there are some very troubling statistics about sustainability this time of year. People typically use 8,000 tons of wrapping paper. The United States wastes 40% of its total food. The EPA has estimated that the U.S. produced 11.9 million tons of plastic packaging and over 90% of this went to a landfill after being used just once.
So as you gear up for this holiday season, think about some slight alterations you can make in your traditions to be more environmentally friendly. From finding the perfect gift to hosting, to travel, there’s something at every step that you can do to reduce your environmental impact.
Because this blog caters to adventurous souls who thrive in the outdoors, it’s especially crucial for us to think about how our actions can set an example for a more sustainable future. When thinking about giving an outdoor-themed gift, look at outdoor companies with eco-friendly agendas. All it takes is a quick google search to learn about what companies intentionally incorporate sustainability into their business plan. What you’ll find is that many of these companies come with a daunting price tag but when you learn why you might be more inclined to shell out the extra cash for your adventurous loved ones. Companies like Patagonia, The North Face, and REI are not shy about their sustainable efforts and how it impacts the quality of their products, hence the scary price tag. Research shows that Gen Z is critical of companies in which they invest their money, and are more likely to spend with companies whose values align with theirs, and this is a perfect example. Many of these companies (and you should too) see their products as a lifelong investment so should something happen to your down jacket on your next ice climbing adventure, they’ll help mend it, so you don’t have to buy a new one. If you want to stay away from more prominent corporations, dig a little deeper to buy local or find smaller companies with sustainable agendas.
If you want to take it to the next level, think about giving the gift of experience. It is true that the value of experiences only increases with time, while the opposite is exact for material goods. Let’s say for whatever holiday you celebrate you get new snow pants and a trip to the top ski resort in Colorado. What’s going to linger in your mind as you age is the experience of the journey and not the pants. The tour is going to accumulate memories which will be stories that you grow more fond of with each time you tell them. Besides, giving experience will almost always be more sustainable than a material good, so try a more unconventional approach this holiday season and give your loved ones an experience that they’ll cherish forever. It can be as simple as a treat to that restaurant they’ve wanted to try or as complex as a promise for a cross-country road trip.
Finally, when wrapping gifts get creative. Use newspapers for a vintage look or spend a few extra bucks on reusable grocery bags that are a present in themselves. I think back to my childhood and how much wrapping paper ended up in the trash just hours after being trashed, and it’s scary. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable due to the shiny finish or glitter. Get creative! Use an old map or decorate a cardboard box. It’s a gift to your loved one and the environment.
Sustainable Changes (Hosting and Travel)
What are some traditions, and possibly stereotypes associated with the holiday season? There’s always been this paradox that it’s a time of community and gratitude paired with overindulging in food, gifts, and waste. We’ve talked about the gift giving so let’s tackle the other two. I wholeheartedly believe that holiday parties are a critical aspect to this time of year. But with many things, when you take a more in-depth look, there is a hefty amount of room for sustainable improvements. It’s common that food is abundant at the end of a holiday event where it is a family gathering, a work potluck or just friends getting together. The sad truth is that while some folks eat leftovers, a good majority of the excess will get tossed. Besides attempting to provide an accurate amount of food for the number of guests, below are some ways to feel right about how you dispose of leftovers.
1. Expect leftovers and take ownership of the situation by coming to the party with Tupperware containers. Make it known that you’d like to put the leftover food to use and recruit some friends to help. I have some friends in New York City that make it a point to evenly distribute food among recycled to go containers into prepared meals and once the celebration is over, and take the food to homeless folks around their neighborhood. Sometimes they even make extra food with good intention in mind.
2. A quick google search will come up with a list of zoos which will happily take your leftovers for their animals. What better way to utilize your leftovers than to feed it to rhinos and penguins?
3. Compost! If you don’t do it at home, again, google is your friend to find somewhere that will.
When you’re hosting, think about using reusable dishes and silverware. I can’t imagine the number of plastic plates, utensils, and even serving utensils that end up trashed after a holiday celebration. If you think about how many offices, families, and sets of friends have parties, that’s an overwhelming amount of plastic finding its way to places it shouldn’t. Again, recruit friends where possible to mitigate the stressfulness of the cleaning process. Plan to leave the dishwasher empty so you can fill it right after. If this is not possible, go the extra step to find recyclable or compostable utensils. (A great stocking stuffer would be reusable utensils for a friend to keep with them all the time.)
For many people, the holidays are an extra exciting time because it's a time for travel. As someone who considers traveling a real passion, I’ve had to take some time to reflect on how my constant air travel negatively impacts my carbon footprint, and unfortunately, it’s a lot. To be transparent, I calculated what the CO₂ emission would be for my upcoming trip to Bogota, Colombia from Denver with a stopover in DC, and it will be 4,800 pounds of CO₂. According to the website where I made the calculation, myclimate, the average amount a person should produce in one year is 4,000 pounds. This number is not by any means to make anyone feel guilty about traveling to see their family, but it is an eye opener of where we are at, and where we theoretically should be. When possible, opt for car travel (which isn’t perfect but certainly better). When not possible, think about buying carbon offsets to balance out your emission. There are several websites, like the one I mentioned before and TerraPass where you can buy offsets that help fund sustainability projects dedicated to reducing CO₂ emissions and greenhouse gases to offset your travel. Whether you’re headed home or to a new place on an exciting adventure if nothing else think about how you will be affecting the planet and what are some possible ways to mitigate your impact elsewhere. I plan on asking for carbon offsets for Christmas to offset my travels. Consider doing the same ;)
The general message here is the holidays should be a time to slow down and simplify. There will always be more value in sharing meaningful experiences with the people around you than anything else. I hope this post was a learning experience and you will challenge yourself and your loved ones to take at least one step towards a sustainable holiday season. Whatever you celebrate, we wish you happy holidays!
I have not received compensation of any kind for mentioning the above websites and brands.
I may be a bit biased because I live here, but Portland, OR is genuinely the greatest city of all time. Move aside San Francisco --- Portland should now be called THE City. From the river running through it to the mountains surrounding it, it is the gem of the Pacific Northwest. If you’re only visiting the city for a week (even though I highly suggest staying longer) this article is a compilation of the top restaurants, hikes, and viewing points of, and around, Portland! All underlined names are links to menus and maps, just so you know where you’re going ahead of time, enjoy!
With 51 state parks and over 200 state recreational areas, Oregon is home to some of the most beautiful hiking in the country, most of it within just a few hours from Portland. And if you’re into the small, hole in the wall restaurants, Portland is the perfect city for a foodie’s getaway! Below is a full week’s itinerary of my absolute favorite places in Portland (and a few outsides of it).
One of the few downsides of living in a big city like Portland is the crowds, but let me tell you that Gravy for breakfast is one of the few places I’d say is 100% worth the wait… but maybe still get there on the early side of the morning. Gravy has some of the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had in my life, and they also make some pretty fantastic mimosas! After breakfast, make your way to the Japanese Gardens on the west side of the river, with over 100 acres of gardens and ponds, it’s the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. After the yards, I suggest making your way to River Pig for lunch and watching whatever football games or whatever sporting events are on that day. River Pig is an awesome hole in the wall kind of bar, with excellent food and plenty of TVs for everyone to watch their favorite team. Once football’s over, I love to make my way over to Council Crest to watch the sunset over the river; you can make it a hike or drive your car all the way up to the top for a gorgeous view. To end the night, grab dinner at Matt’s BBQ food truck off of Mississippi St. and finish the day off with Ruby Jewel’s Ice Cream for a perfect dessert after!
You might be a little tired by this point in the trip. You’ve been doing a lot and need a hearty breakfast sandwich to get you back into the groove of things to power through another active day! Brunch Box in downtown Portland is the perfect place to curve that hunger! With breakfast sandwiches this large, you won’t be hungry for lunch for hours, which is ideal because you have to go hike up to well-known Pittock Mansion today. Pittock Mansion was built in 1909 by a London-born publisher and architect. The family lived in the home only for a few years before turning it into a hospital for soldiers and then a museum after the war. After hiking through Forest Park to Pittock Mansion, you can walk on over to Breakside Brewery for an early dinner. After dinner (and maybe a few beers), head on down to Alberta St. for dessert. Random Order Pie Bar is the best pie I’ve ever had, and I promise that isn’t an over exaggeration.
You spent all of yesterday in the city, I think it’s time for a quick road trip! The Oregon Coast isn’t known for its warm waters, but the dramatic coastline and quaint beach towns are beautiful. Grab a quick coffee and bagel to go at one of Portland’s tiniest coffee shops called TwentySix Café and hit the road for Cape Kiwanda State Park! Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, Oregon and is on the Three Capes Scenic Route, which also includes Cape Meares and Cape Lookout. Hiking up the dunes is a bit difficult, especially on a windy day, but getting to see this view from the top is worth it. For lunch, I highly suggest Pelican Brewery on the beach, where you can have lunch in the sand and have a gorgeous view of Haystack Rock and maybe a few whales while you eat. When you get back into the city, you need to try one of Portland’s Top 10 Most Underrated restaurants according to Yelp. City Thai is a small Thai restaurant right outside of the city that has the best chicken pad Thai I’ve ever had, and pretty strong cocktails if I say so myself.
Because it’s getting close to the weekend, let’s stop by a few more places that’ll get packed once it hits Friday again. Mother’s Bistro & Bar is Portland’s idea of where a tea party meets comfort food. With delicious homemade pastries and hearty meals, Mother’s is a perfect place to start your day downtown. With your fancy coffee to-go, it’s now time to spend a few hours in the world’s largest independent chain bookstore Powell’s Books. Powell’s is a three-story building that takes up an entire city block. Let’s say I’ve gotten lost in there more than a few times. There are hundreds of thousands of books with organized rooms depending on the topic, along with an excellent coffee shop and gift store as well! Since you’re already downtown, and in Portland, you have to head to 10 Barrel Brewing Co for dinner. With great food and an excellent rooftop atmosphere, people will think you’re crazy if they hear you visited Portland and didn’t eat/drink at 10 Barrel. If you think you have room for something sweet after dinner, head to Moonstruck Chocolate Café for drinking chocolate and maybe a few truffles to end the night.
Today’s the day to throw it back a few decades! Cadillac Cafe is the perfect place to do this! With comfort food for breakfast at this fantastic diner, you’ll be ready for a drive the opposite direction of the coast towards Trillium Lake. Trillium Lake has an easy 2-mile loop that you can hike in any season. I’ve done it in the hottest time of the summer and jumped in for a swim after, but I’ve also snowshoed around it while having a gorgeous view of the frozen lake at the base of the mountain. After your hike, stop in Government Camp at the Huckleberry Inn for lunch; they have some of the warmest pancakes and thickest milkshakes this side of the Mississippi (I think so at least…). When you get back into town and maybe after you’ve relaxed a bit for the day, head down to 23rd street for dinner at Southland Whiskey Kitchen for some fantastic BBQ, 23rd Street is well known around Portland for having Christmas lights hung up all year round, which is gorgeous to walk around and look at after a good meal. With plenty of little shops and hole in the wall bars, you can easily spend all day there.
Sadly it’s your last day in Portland, but that means you’ve got to make it worth it! Tin Shed is the perfect place for your final breakfast in the world’s best city, with mimosas and the best potato cakes you’ve ever had. After food, it’s time to make it down to the Saturday Market on the waterfront, which happens every single Saturday in Portland. It’s full of food trucks, craft shows, and usually a ton of live music as well. If you have time and the money for one last fancy meal, Portland City Grill is the place to go. PCG is one of the most elegant restaurants in the city and is on the 34th floor of a skyscraper looking over the river and the rest of the city.
Well, that’s all I’ve got folks! I hope that if you end up visiting Portland, you fall in love with this city just as much as I have! The town indeed has some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, and you really can never run out of places to eat or see (obviously), so visit ASAP!
Sunday: Gravy, Japanese Gardens, River Pig, Council Crest, Matt's BBQ, Ruby Jewel's
Monday: Jam on Hawthorne, Multnomah Falls, Eagle's Creek, Thunder Island Brewing, Interurban, Blue Star
Tuesday: Brunch Box, Pittock Mansion, Breakside Brewery, Random Order Pie Bar
Wednesday: TwentySix Cafe, Cape Kiwanda State Park, Pelican Brewery, City Thai
Thursday: Mother's Bistro & Bar, Powell's Books, 10 Barrel Brewing Co, Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe
Friday: Cadillac Cafe, Trillium Lake, Huckleberry Inn, Southland Whisky Kitchen
Saturday: Tin Shed, Saturday Market, Portland City Grill
This blog was written by Danielle Deering from The Adventure Project
When the leaves have all fallen and winter is nipping at our heels here in Colorado, there exists a small, perfect, little window for wild ice. A time when the temps have dropped just enough to freeze Maroon Lake, but not cover it in snow quite yet. There is something magical about taking part in something that only happens a handful of days out of an entire year. So much so, that our little adventure family was not going to miss out.
We had heard that there might be some epic skating up at Maroon Bells this time of year. We were also told to keep our ear to the ground for the local buzz that would occur when the lake froze. Pulling up to the Maroon Bells parking lot in winter, one would think it would not be quite as crazy as when the tourists are in full swing during summer and parking is non-existent. Well, not so much the case. The parking lot was overflowing with Colorado locals draped in skate gear. This must be the place, we thought.
We geared up ourselves, mom, dad, and our little ripper - 6 years old and full to the brim with adventure! As we caught glimpse of the bells, I don’t know which was more beautiful. The towering peaks that take your breath away every time, no matter how many times you’ve come to visit them. Or, the skating scene nestled below these mountains.
The ice was packed! There were organized hockey games, plenty of onlookers who just came for the show, and even a lone figure skater pulling out all the stops for a small audience that had gathered. We quickly found a corner of snow to set up camp on and popped our camping chairs up. It was one of those bluebird Colorado days you just live for. Not a cloud in the sky, sun beating down and an entire day to play. And, play we did.
Hitting the ice, we glided past pick-up hockey games, kicked a puck around ourselves, and watched as the glacial water below moved slightly when our weight was applied. We heard a group of people yelling about trout under their skates, but weren’t one of the lucky ones to see them in action. We skated until lunch time and then hit camp for some cold pizza and hot cocoa. I know, we keep it real fancy around here.
We got a few more hours in on the ice before the sun dipped below the Bells, and the temps dropped considerably and the wind moved in. We walked out of that sacred place, gear on our backs, smiles on our faces, knowing we’d just experienced something so insanely special. The beauty of the Bells draped in the background, sacred ice under feet. It was the perfect collision of elements coming together, just so. I don’t know about you, but we’ll be back next year.
There have been times when I forget to breathe. Not entirely, but enough to cause my chest to tighten, make my heart to accelerate, roll in brain fog, and activate a disruptive surge of panic through my body. At those times, I’m not quite aware it’s happening.
Anxiety is conniving like that.
It’s been an unwelcome companion for much of my life. And anxiety’s partner, depression, stops by once in awhile too. I’m not alone, and if you experience it too, you’re not either. Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults in the U.S. and that number is steadily rising.
Whether you’re experiencing a situational and temporary season of mental unease, or you’ve navigated mental health issues throughout your life, spending intentional time outdoors can do us all loads of good. Our daily lives can be wrought with dissonance and noise. Being in a constant state of “busy” is often the norm, leaving little time to check in with ourselves.
The outdoors isn’t a cure-all. It’s one method that people use to help enhance their mental wellbeing. If you think you may have a serious mental health condition, it’s important to speak with a mental health professional. That being said, taking a step back and immersing ourselves in nature has profound benefits. It helps decrease stress, alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms, and promote cognitive clarity. It’s a powerful resource that offers heuristic lessons–of life, self, and meaning—not found elsewhere.
Here are four ways the outdoors improves mental wellbeing:
1. Disconnecting Helps You Connect
Having little to no cell service can be one of the best things for you. We are daily inundated with unnecessary messages and distractions, which can lead to over-stimulation and brain fog.
One of my favorite quotes by John Muir (also known of Mountains, no less) is this:
“All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God’s eternal beauty and love. So universally true is this, the spot where we chance to be always seems the best.”
Enjoying nature is different for everyone. You can take a stroll through your neighborhood park or plan an extensive backpacking trip to Patagonia. You can jump in the ocean for 30 minutes or go sailing for a month. The point is to get outside! Breaking away from a constant state of busy to simply “be” can do wonders for your mind. A study showed that participants who went on 90 minute walks in nature (as opposed to an urban setting) had decreased instances of rumination, which are repetitive and often negative thoughts. Rumination is a key factor in mental disruptors like depression and anxiety. So when distractions are not present, you can be. After all, being outside makes room for more mindfulness.
2. Movement is Medicine
Take a hike. No really, take a hike! Solely being outside and breathing in fresh air has copious mental health benefits, but coupling that with movement will elevate your mental—and physical—wellbeing substantially. Moving our bodies increases oxygen to our brains, decreases stress, promotes the growth of healthy neurotransmitters, improves sleep, and acts as an antidepressant.
Then we’ve got the physical benefits of movement. Exploring the outdoors can inspire play, and there’s so many benefits of play! Remember how important play was to you as a child? It enabled judgement-free self-expression and boosted imagination, informing so much of who we became and largely influencing our cognitive development. Psst: those benefits still apply to adults. It helps alleviate stress, promote creativity, and boost energy. Personally, I find so much joy when my inner child is awakened!
3. Shifts Perspective
Ever gazed at a dark sky glittering with a star-filled milky way? Or peered up at a giant Redwood you can’t see the top of? Nature is inherently inspiring and serves to remind us how much beauty this world holds. It instills awe and wonder, which can help expand our curiosity and creativity. This positive perspective shift can do wonders for our minds.
Whether you’re taking in the views from atop a mountain or paddling waves in the vast ocean, nature has a way of reminding us that there’s more to our lives than the mundane, and can help us zoom out and focus on the bigger picture. It helps us adjust our lens on life, viewing our past experiences, current situations, and thoughts of the future with gratitude and hope. Maybe your challenges don’t seem so impossible anymore. Perhaps this change in perspective equips you with the tools to address problems in a healthy and productive manner.
4. Cultivates Community
After exploring the wilderness alone, the polarizing but still notably adventurous Christopher McCandless wrote one of his lasting concluding thoughts in his journal:
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
The outdoors has this unparalleled way of gathering together people from all walks of life. It acts as a common thread, connecting people with different jobs, lifestyles, perspectives, and experiences, and pulling them into a beautifully diverse community.
Cultivating human connection and maintaining a sense of belonging is key for sustainable mental wellness. Isolation can keep us in our own heads, so spending time and talking through our thoughts with other people can be healing. I experienced some of the most profound and perspective-shifting conversations around a campfire, on a trail, or at the base of a boulder project.
No matter your background or experience, nature is welcoming and doesn’t discriminate, and you’ll most likely find that a lot of people who enjoy nature act the same way.
And speaking of relationships: when we’re constantly in fight or flight mode (i.e. anxious), it shows up in how we interact with others. We may find ourselves flighty and temperamental, or constantly reacting instead of responding — all without even realizing it. When we strip ourselves of daily distractions and immerse ourselves in nature, we have more space to breathe and reflect in a healthy way (not ruminate). It enables us to turn inward and check-in with ourselves. And once we identify our behaviors, we can make steps to amend it, if necessary.
So seek out and create opportunities to go outside. Schedule intentional time on your calendar to stroll, hike, swim, climb, explore — or simply be — in nature.
Your mind, body, and soul will thank you.
All too often I find myself lost in one of those Instagram holes; following only the coolest accounts living the lives you aspire to just seems like the best way to waste time. For me, these accounts are almost always outdoor or travel based and are often ran by women. If you’re looking for outdoor inspiring badass women you wish you could be friends with in real life, you are in the right place! This list has been curated by the Mtn Chicks team to bring you some of the most inspirational women on “the Gram”. Give them a follow when you get a chance! What inspiration women do you follow? Let us know in the comments!
Paraclimbing champion and East Coast native Maureen Beck looks to motivate those around her through her social media platforms. Born without her left hand but with a whole lot of heart, Mo has never taken no for an answer and never lets anything hold her back. Inspiring differently abled people to reach their full potential is what Mo hopes to motivate in others.
An outdoor enthusiast local to the North Eastern United States. If Jen isn’t in the classroom, chances are she’s in the Adirondack Park hiking to raise money and awareness for mental illness through @46climbs. She’s climbed 40,000 ft. in total elevation while raising over $1,500. Her photos show the true beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and those who hike their trails and the vision they can inspire.
Katie runs social media over at Outdoor Industry Association. An activist that is transparent and constantly willing to grow and learn from others is the kind of person I want fighting for my public lands and beyond! If you’re looking to laugh, learn and be inspired, be sure to tune into Boué’s Instagram stories. You might be lucky enough to meet Spaghetti, the dirtiest adventure noodle around!
A traveling adventure photographer specializing in elopements and engagement sessions. This van-lifer, now living in a sweet rig, shows not only the inside scoop on her shoots, but also her personal adventures and friendships that come along with them! Gorgeous shots of Alaska, Moab, Patagonia, Yosemite and beyond are matched with meaningful memoirs throughout her feed; Abbi’s trials and tribulations share her fear of heights, love for photography, and adventures with Callen and Charlie!
This stunning global citizen will have you itching for bright, luscious landscapes! Karen is a Uganda local with a love for nature and international relations; she gives the best information on Uganda and Rwanda and strives to share experiences she finds unique and exciting.
This desert-dwelling storyteller and her close-knit family of 5 will make you laugh, cry and long for adventure. Bri, her husband Keith, their fur children Bucket and Dagwood and their orange home on wheels, Bertha, live each day with intention. If your heart feels most at home on the road then you will appreciate this beautifully raw glimpse into van life via her rust hued stories and eloquently composed posts.
Breaking stereotypes by guiding rafting trips and leading hiking expeditions as a Plus Size Outdoor Influencer, Ashley is one badass chick you cannot possibly pass up on the follow. As someone who prides herself on breaking stereotypes, Ashley is out there to prove that people of all sizes can be outdoorsy.
Kerri is a High School wellness teacher and Adventurer of the New England Area. Lover of mountains, yoga and warm weather, following Kerri’s local adventures is on my list each time I find myself in a ‘scrolling mood’. Enjoy the raw beauty of the North East through Kerri’s feed.
With the motto, “collect moments, not things”, Farran provides stunning travel journals of places like Hawaii, New Zealand, The American Southwest and beyond. Gorgeous photos that will inspire you to visit beautiful outdoor places and cities alike; from sandy beaches to red rock and snowy mountains you will want to explore the world with Farran’s gallery as a guide.
Rachel is a Montana based artist known not only for her vibrant landscapes, but for her dedication to living life outside. As an environmentalist and humanitarian, Pohl promotes the welfare and protection of both people and the wild places they love. If you scroll through her feed you will find bright landscapes, both created by and visited by Rachel, adventure photos and an infectious smile.
Karen is the founder of Get Out, Stay Out, an organization that connects indigenous-migrant children with the outdoors through hikes, camping trips and multi-day backpacking adventures. As the daughter of migrant workers herself, Karen embodies the true spirit of adventure and is committed to increasing diversity and representation in the outdoors.
Photographer of the natural world who shares some of the most gnarly photos of wildlife and wild places on her feed. Follow her adventurous life through her stories OR join her on one of the many photography trips she hosts abroad! Erin’s feed showcases pristine photos of her adventures and her story features the down to earth chick behind the camera.
Sometimes we need inspiration to get outside or plan our next adventure, and other times we require an outlet from the not so outdoorsy parts of our lives. It’s easy to find these outlets through social media, and sometimes, you even learn a thing or two while you’re scrolling! Be sure to follow these Mountain Chicks to get your outdoor fix.
Sponsored by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
I had been to the Caribbean before, but it wasn’t until I explored Dominican Republic with the Ministry of Tourism that I realized just how much there was to do in the country.
The week I was able to spend in the Caribbean this October was one of the most adventure-packed weeks I have had all year! If you’re not sure about what there is to do adventure wise in a tropical country or you’re looking for a new vacation spot, then hopefully this blog will give you some ideas and put Dominican Republic on your radar. There are a ton of top things to do in Dominican Republic, but this what I would suggest for adventure lovers.
Arrive in Dominican Republic
To start your adventure off on the right foot, you’ll want to arrive in Dominican Republic via the Cibao International Airport in Santiago. Entering here will put you right where you need to be for the start of your trip!
Paragliding in Jarabacoa
I have a notable bucket list, and to my surprise, the DR is a hot spot for one of the activities on it!
Paragliding above the Jarabacoa region of Dominican Republic will leave you speechless! For this reason, paragliding is one of the top things to do in the Dominican Republic. You get 360 views of the mountains and jungle below, all while feeling the thrill of flying. Who needs a drone when you have a parachute?
Dominican Republic is home to some of the most awe-strikingly beautiful waterfalls. My group and I were able to take a short hike to Jimeona falls and swim in the water. You’ll be awe-struck by the sheer beauty and scale of this place!
Rafting the Yaque del Norte
Okay, so I suppose Dominican Republic is home to 2 items on my bucket list. Rafting on the Yaque del Norte is an experience that I will never forget and makes my list for top things to do in Dominican Republic while you’re there. While my group and I stayed on the easier rapids, there is the option for more advanced rapids as well. These beginner ones left me for a whirlwind, though!
Hike the Ebano Verde Trail
So you all know I love myself a good hike. The Ebano Verde trail was the perfect mix of jungle and views that I was looking for on this trip! The hike brought my group and I through dense forest and river crossing, making me feel a bit Indiana Jones-ish during the trek. In the end, we were rewarded with some time at a natural swimming hole. I was glad I packed my swimsuit!
Sun Bathe on Cayo Arena
If you’ve ever wanted to snorkel and swim in water as clear as gas, then Dominican Republic is the place for you! Punta Rucia and Cayo Arena had some of the bluest water I had ever seen in my life, which made for some fantastic sunrises! I would say Cayo Arena is definitely one of the top things to do in the Dominican Republic for adventure lovers. Getting to spend a day soaking up the sun on this kind of beach partially made me consider throwing my life away to become a forever beach bum.
Again, not such a shabby idea with views like this.
Depart Dominican Republic
This is the day you will, unfortunately, be departing Dominican Republic. If you chose, you could always explore Santiago before you leave! I decided to catch up on some much-needed sleep at my hotel.
Hikes, beach, rafting, paragliding and so much more adventure. What else could you want in one trip? Hopefully, this has convinced you to add Dominican Republic to your list of places to see! I’d also like to thank the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for giving me the opportunity to explore this beautiful country. If you’re looking for more ideas for your DR trip, you can visit the Ministry’s website here.
This blog was written by Maria Camargo of Humbled By the View
Spiderman says that with great power comes great responsibility. So what does this mean in the context of recreating outdoors? If you find yourself in a place of privilege and have the ability, the means, and the “power” to spend time outdoors, then you also have the responsibility to inform yourself on how to leave the least impact possible when doing so. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, or simply like to hit the trail for a workout from time to time, you should hold yourself accountable for protecting public land so others can enjoy it for years to come. Leave No Trace is more than picking up your snack wrappers from your hike, and it’s time we all understand why.
I want to take this time to name that although I consider myself to be passionate about both the outdoors and sustainability, I haven’t always gotten this right. I’m not an expert in leaving no trace and I make mistakes all the time. However, I own my responsibility to stay educated on what I can do and educate those around me to the best of my ability to be as environmentally conscious as possible. And that’s what I hope you will get out of reading this blog post.
The History of LNT
You’re probably (at least I hope) reading this because the outdoors lights some fire inside of you and you’re intrigued on how you can do your part to take care of it on your every adventure. In this post, I’m going to attempt to take the mystery out of leave no trace (LNT) principles to make responsible recreating a critical aspect of your next outing.
But first what is it? LNT started in the 1960’s when the US Department of Agriculture began promoting a minimum impact camping message: “pack it in, pack it out.” The idea was that everything you brought with you should be taken out. It was a simple slogan to try to mitigate human impact on public land. The message developed into Leave No Trace when there was a realization that there is much more to minimizing your impact than picking up your granola bar wrapper.
In 1993, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service came on board with LNT as a universal way to encourage people to minimize outdoor impact. Educational programs were implemented, signage was made, and park rangers informed guests of their responsibility to maintain public land. Soon after that, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics became a non-profit organization dedicated to minimizing impact on public lands. The intent rooted within LNT-style programs is to raise awareness, reduce depreciative behaviors, increase knowledge, influence attitudes, and enhance visitors experience.
How do I do it?
So now that we’ve got the history of Leave No Trace locked down, what are the Leave no Trace principles and what do they mean? There are 7 official Leave No Trace principles as outlined by LNT.org, and they are:
Although some of the principles seem self-explanatory, there is usually an explanation or example required to fully understanding the intent of each principle, and that’s why we’re here. Research has found that backcountry recreationalists (probably) have a better grasp of the LNT principles and therefore implement them more frequently and effectively than front country recreationalists. However, the majority of public lands visitors are guided to front country areas (defined as areas easily accessed by car that are mostly utilized by day users) so it’s important that everyone, no matter what their adventure will look like understands what it truly means to Leave No Trace.
Plan ahead and prepare and travel and camp on durable surfaces are two principles designed to keep visitors on pre-blazed trails if you will, in order to minimize human impact on delicate surfaces. When you’re on a trail ridden with switchbacks, it’s hot, you’re hungry, and your legs hurt, it can be awfully tempting to cut the switchbacks to get to your end destination just a little bit faster. What most people don’t know, is that this shortcut can cause erosion, substantially damage or even kill fragile plantlife. This same principle exists for backcountry camping, and if there is no predetermined campsite it’s your responsibility as a conscious camper to scope out durable surfaces to set up. I grew up in Maryland where most trails are marked clearly, but as I’ve began to explore more out West it’s common for even the busiest trails to be unmarked. This is where you’ll need to plan ahead by bringing a map, examining the trail ahead of time, or using an app like AllTrails to stay on pre-existing trails to avoid negative environmental effects.
Leave what you find is simple. That cool rock looks way better in the wilderness than your kitchen table.
Minimizing campfire impact is most effectively implemented by minimizing campfires. If you are staying at a campground and there is a fire pit or a fire ring, utilize it responsibly making sure the area is cool to the touch before leaving. In the backcountry where things can get out of control quickly, especially in drier environments, it’s best to avoid fire altogether (especially if it’s prohibited, integrity folks). Camping technology is so advanced that there is no longer a need for a campfire for survival. Although it can be warm and cozy and contribute to the experience, it’s a short term benefit to your experience versus a long term benefit to the environment.
Research shows that the two least understood principles of Leave No Trace are dispose of waste properly and be considerate of others. As I mentioned before, at some point throughout the last 80 years, a misconception formed that leaving food scraps behind is an acceptable method of disposing of them because they will eventually decompose. There are two major issues with this misconception. The first is, the word “eventually” holds a heavy meaning in this context. In some places it can take up to millions years for food scraps to decompose. The second is that outside food poses an extreme danger to wildlife. When wildlife consume “human” food, they quickly become dependent on being fed and lose their ability to fend for themselves that often leads to a sooner death. So try to think twice before you or someone in your party wants to leave behind their orange peels.
Be considerate of others seems to be the most loaded principle of all. There’s so much to untangle to truly understand this principle but the easiest way to understand and implement is to use a reasonable person standard. Empathy in the outdoors is vital for you, your fellow adventurers, and the land to have an optimal experience. Sometimes it’s not that self-explanatory but that’s why there’s articles like this one and first hand accounts to learn! Although it can be fun to carry a speaker while you’re hiking and it’s easy to assume some people love the music just like you (this is something I’ve been guilty of), you’re not really in a place to make that assumption. It’s totally cool if you want to hear music but this is a time to put those headphones in to avoid impacting other people’s experiences. Another example of being considerate to others, is if you have to go, do so a healthy distance off the trail. People don’t want to step in your pee if they can avoid it.
So who’s job is it?
LNT and other sustainable practices are the responsibility of everyone. No one is exempt from the burden our planet is currently facing, so do what you can to stay informed and make easy lifestyle changes both in the outdoors and in everyday life. I challenge you to educate those around you, whether they are your friends or strangers. Most of the time individuals who seek out the outdoors carry strong values, so if they’re ignoring LNT principles it may be out of sheer ignorance that can be combated by your ability to empathetically inform them of the effects of their actions. In addition to being a LNT teacher, do your part in clean up trash or food scraps as you encounter them on the trail. You may not have been the one to drop it, but as soon as you spot it, it’s your responsibility to clean it up.
Many of these principles are the reason a lot of your favorite adventurers on instagram avoid adding a location to their posts. Location services oftentimes attracts an overwhelming amount of people to beautiful, exotic destinations, many of who have no understanding or no intention to practice LNT principles. As I did the reading in an attempt to prepare to write this blog post, I learned that rangers prefer to be educational rather than confrontational when implementing these practices. Return the favor by educating yourself and proactively protecting the land that brings joy to you and leave that opportunity open for generations to come.
Let’s take care of the outdoors the way it takes care of us.
This blog was written by Danielle Deering from The Adventure Project
Knowing now what I’ve learned about the importance of taking time to love on yourself before you can love on others, I’m here to talk a little bit about how to do that in these cold weather temps.
With our thermometers dropping daily and tasks like going through last year’s ski gear in full swing, it’s no secret that winter is on the way. Though some people may thrive in the cold months, I tend to be drawn inside more than usual, regardless of the continuous weekends spent at the ski hill. For me, the indoors breeds the possibility of irritability, anxiety, and a general lack of inspiration at times. Knowing this heading into winter, my game plan is to consistently carve out solo mom time in order to recharge those batteries. In addition to that, I know to make absolute sure that at least some of that solo mom time is spent taking my butt outside to breath in the fresh air of these magical mountains I’m so lucky to live in.
Because the mental health of my fellow moms is something so near and dear to my heart and because, let’s face it, mommin’ aint easy, I wanted to offer a ready-made list of quick and dirty winter activities to keep on hand. After polling a handful of trusted outdoorswomen and reflecting back on the activities that stand to draw me out into the cold each winter, the following list was created with lots of love from me to you.
Top 10 Winter Activities For Adventure Moms
Soak & Sip Day
Let’s start easy. Find a local hot spring (hot tub or bath work too) and get on in, girl. Don’t stop there, though. Fix yourself up your favorite cup of tea or glass of wine. Soak. Sip. Repeat.
Solo Ski Day
Whether it’s busting out the cross-country gear or taking yourself out to the local ski hill for some downhill action, there is nothing quite like strapping the ol planks on and feeling that sun on your face.
Bath Bombs & Great Reads
Only have a handful of minutes at the end of another long and busy day? Draw yourself a bath. Throw in some essential oils or a favorite bath bomb and pull out that book you’ve been meaning to read. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, take time to just float away.
Alpine Lake Skating
How long has it been since you put on a pair of skates? Maybe this is your thing, maybe it’s been 20 years. Either way, alpine lakes make for some of the best skating, if only for the scenery alone. Not up for a giant adventure of accessing one? Go take a spin at your local rink instead. Not everything has to be epic, moms.
Make some Feathered Friends
Here’s some more low hanging fruit for you. Grab a bird feeder, fill it, and wait to see what birds come to visit. If you want to get real fancy on us, stop at your local library and rent a bird guide to learn a bit more about who lives in your neck of the woods.
Winter Photography Excursion
Whether it’s taking a walk in the woods right out your back door, or planning a trip to that special spot that’s been on your must-see list for way too long, grab your camera and go. It’s amazing all there is to shoot when it’s just you, the outdoors, and a fresh blanket of crisp, white snow.
Hobby … What’s that?
When’s the last time you learned something new? Winter is the perfect slow season to learn to knit in your yoga pants, take up screen-printing, or join that pottery class in town you’ve been dying to get to. It’s time to challenge your brain and wake up that old heart of yours, mom. What is it that YOU like to do?
Have you tried snowshoeing yet? It’s like winter hiking, just with way bigger boots. Pack some slices of your favorite cheese, throw in an apple, maybe some hot cocoa and let your feet do the talking.
Where are my adventurous moms at? Dogsledding is invigorating, fascinating, and all kinds of adorable (if you’re into adorable sled dogs like me). Take yourself out on a brave, new adventure. Or, better yet, grab your fellow adrenaline seekers and hit the trail.
Bonfire & S'mores
Winter fires are by far the coziest. I like to set up in the sun, snuggle into my favorite blanket, and warm my toes by the fire. Next comes the s’more building. Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite way to take my dessert game to the next level.
I hope this inspires you to keep filling that cup and pushing your limits.
Sponsored by Zappos
Fall is easily my favorite season. I love the cool weather, the change of color in the leaves and of course, the clothes. It’s no question that the “must-do” for me this fall would be to visit the East Coast of the United States. It’s easily one of the most beautiful fall destinations on this side of the world, and for good reason! During Autumn, the entire coast turns into a wonderland of orange and gold.
I recently spent 2 weeks driving from New York to Maine and back. Who knew there would be so much to see on a New England fall road trip? While this blog is not meant to be a hard-set itinerary for you to follow, it should give you some good ideas as to what to look for when planning your own New England fall road trip. Please note, though, that colors on the East Coast can change at any moment! I suggest following foliage maps and keeping your plans flexible. Most of the time, my group and I made last minute accommodation plans, so we were always one step away from where the color were. For this reason, I have broken this blog down by state. As always, please make sure that if you visit any of these locations you follow Leave No Trace principles.
I’d first like to turn your attention to this Merinolux Flannel from Royal Robbins. I was able to order this flannel on Zappos just in time for the fall season and give it a go on some AZ trails before heading East. Zappos offers plenty of options when it comes to flannels and other pieces of apparel. I love this Royal Robbins one, though, because of how soft it is. If you want a similar one, you can purchase it here.
While I’m aware that New York is not considered to be a part of New England, I still think it’s worth seeing! New England in general can be small, so driving to New York will not put you too far off course should you choose to go here. Watkins Glen State Park is easily one of my favorite areas of the entire New England fall road trip! Not only were the colors magical, the waterfalls were insane! On your way to Watkins Glen, you’ll be greeted by plenty of places to pull over for a quick hike, which I highly recommend. If you choose to go on the Gorge Trail, make sure you get there during the day with enough light to see it in all its glory!
The Catskills are home to places like Lake Minnewaska and the famed Kaaterskill Falls. However, my favorite part of the Catskills were the endless cabin hangs we had at the Casa Minnewaska. Hot tubs and fall weather are always a good combo.
The Catskills are also full of hidden gems you’d need a drone for! You’d be surprised what you can find on your New England fall road trip when you’re in the clouds.
Fire Watch Towers
New Hampshire is home to some of the most iconic New England fall road trip destinations like the White Mountains. A quick Google search will bring up some amazing hikes located in these areas. I suggest, however, doing something a bit different and backpacking to a fire watch tower. Unlike the PNW, the competition to stay in one of these in New England is not as steep. You’ll also be greeted with amazing sunrises, sunsets and maybe some colors from a higher perspective.
Flume Gorge is where you will find red bridges and gorge-ous (see what I did there?) views of the creek that runs through the gorge. It’s an easy 2 mile loop hike that costs $16 per person. While I realize that a $16 entry fee can be steep for a hike, the fall colors in the area make up for the view. When you’re done, you can take a drive along the Kancamagus Highway. Due to timing, my group and I skipped the highway and continued to Maine. However, if you’re a fan of road shots and droning, I highly suggest stopping here!
There are also some great island cabins across NH if you can find them on your New England fall road trip!
Acadia National Park
Maine was by far my favorite part of the entire New England fall road trip! The colors were at their peak and we did a good amount of hiking, which was a nice break in between drives.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
We knew we had to make a stop at Acadia National Park, but little did we know how in love with it we’d be! The very first sunset we hit was at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. This is one of the busiest places in the park, especially during sunset, so make sure you get here early to find parking!
The next morning, we caught the first sunrise in the United States at Cadillac Mountain. We were a bit disappointed by the cloud coverage, but the views of the ocean still left us in awe.
If you have time for just one thing in Acadia National Park, make sure it’s the Beehive Trail! The trail is a moderate 2 mile out and back hike that consists of metal ladders and a bit of scrambling. While the trail is not extremely difficult, it probably isn’t for the faint of heart. I will say, though, that I am beyond terrified of heights and still found the willpower to complete the hike! The way the colors danced along the horizon left me speechless. Take an amazing sunset, combine it with some fall colors and you have a recipe for perfection, which is this hike in sum.
Our days in Vermont were cut short due to the weather taking down most of the leaves. However, the moody weather made for some great road shots! I also suggest stopping at Stowe and the Sleepy Hollow Farm while on your New England fall road trip. I may have not been able to do so, but that doesn’t mean you can’t!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on the East Coast. I feel as though it’s not given as much credit for its amazing hidden gems like the West Coast is, which just means there’s a ton of untapped potential there when it comes to adventure spots!
I hope this blog gives you some inspiration for your next road trip. I’d also like to say thank you to Zappos for sponsoring this blog and allowing me to add a new fall staple to my wardrobe. You can buy this Royal Robbins flannel here.
This blog was sponsored by Zappos
Canada is easily one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been too. There are many mountains and a variety of views in every corner of the country.
During my first trip to Canada, I didn’t make much time for backpacking, so I knew I would have to switch things up this Fall. Mt Assiniboine was calling my name. When my friend invited Scott and me to embark on a 17mi adventure to this epic location, I knew we had to say yes.
Before my hike, I was able to purchase a pair of Keen Targhee boots. I love that there was a variety of shoes, clothes, and accessories to choose from! I found a pair of Targhee boots in the exact color and size I was looking for. If you want to get your pair of Keen Targhee boots, you can do so here. I'm glad I chose to order these from Zappos.com. Zappos offered a variety of boot styles, which made it easy to find exactly what I needed! I also loved that they shipped my Targhees fast enough for me to use them for this trip.
The next days were spent exploring Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park. Below are pictures from the various lakes and viewpoints you can expect to see when you’re there.
On our last day at the park, we ate breakfast and packed our bags for the ride out! I highly recommend hiking in or out of the park and booking a one-way helicopter ride. You’ll save yourself a ton of time doing so! The helicopter is also the best way to get aerial views of the park and the hike. You can book helicopter rides through the Assiniboine Lodge.
Camping in the Mt Assiniboine area was an experience I'll never forget! Purchasing my Keen boots for this trip was a great decision! I wouldn’t have been able to complete this hike without them. You can also buy your pair of Keen Targhee boots here. I highly recommend using Zappos for your next purchase! Zappos offers a variety of products and makes it easy to get what you want when you need it.
All photos were taken in collaboration with Scott Reichard
Are you wondering how to see some of the most beautiful places in Peru? How does a 6 day Rainbow Mountain trek sound? I didn't know it would be something I wanted to do! I remember scrolling through Instagram and seeing someone’s pictures from Rainbow Mountain Peru. That’s when my obsession with trekking in Peru started. Then there was Machu Picchu, Cusco, and a slew of other Peruvian hot spots that suddenly became the only places I wanted to explore. Somewhere between daydreaming and thinking about how I would get there, I came across the Killa Expeditions page. Killa offers treks and guided tours through Peru. They focus on ethical and sustainable travel, making my decision to reach out to their team that much easier. I love that Killa Expeditions also makes a point to give back to the community as part of their ethical focus. They host numerous charity events and support local businesses quite frequently.
Numerous emails between the Killa Expeditions team and I finally led to a decision on a trek: the Rainbow Mountain Ausangate Package. The Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek includes 6 epic days of trekking in Peru through the Ausangate Mountain range, which brings us to Rainbow Mountain and beyond. 4 of those days will be spent getting to Rainbow Mountain while the last 2 days will include day tours and a stop at Machu Picchu. Scott and I would be photographing the entire trip. I don’t think either one of us was expecting to fall so in love with a place! What trek details do I have? How does one go about planning a similar trip? This blog is going to go over all of it! I know Peru is as much of a dream destination for most adventurers as it was for me. I’m going to make sure I go over every detail of my experience with Killa Expeditions and what to expect when getting ready to do a Rainbow Mountain trek. I’d also like to point out that Killa Expeditions and Mountain Chicks are officially partners! We will be planning treks and other Peruvian adventures together for community members and their friends for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned for those!
I didn’t know this before we met with our Airbnb hosts, but some nights, the city of Cusco turns off the water around 8pm to locals until the next morning. Keep the water in mind when choosing your accommodations and planning your nights out on the town. Water never turns off for hotels! I will say that I was happy our Airbnb was about $60 for this trip- what a steal! It was also nice that our hosts offered to store our luggage we would not be taking on our Rainbow Mountain trek. I highly recommend that you check with your accommodations beforehand to make sure they can store your luggage! You will not be able to bring all of your non-hiking belongings with you on your Rainbow Mountain trek. If you do not have many other options, you can also ask Killa Expeditions ahead of time to do this for you!
Where to Arrive
You can expect that you will have to book 2 flights to get to Cusco in order to be in the right place for your Rainbow Mountain trek! Scott and I flew into Lima and then from Lima to Cusco. Our plane tickets from LAX costed about $700 each (this is the total for our LAX to Lima and Lima to Cusco flights). Should you chose to take your Rainbow Mountain trek in the summer, you can also expect tickets to be more expensive than they might be in other months. I personally think it is worth it to pay the extra money for better weather, but that is your call!
We found a restaurant called Green Point for breakfast, which ended up being our go-to for the duration of our time at Cusco. You better believe we went back to Green Point after trekking in Peru. The rest of the day was spent catching up on sleep.
Explore Plaza De Armas
Our second day at Cusco was somewhat of a repetition of the previous day. This is when I felt like we were really starting to acclimate to the altitude before starting our 6 day Rainbow Mountain trek. There is always something going on in the city! On this particular day, Cusco was hosting a festival. If you come here on June 24th, you can enjoy Inti Rami. I imagine it is much bigger and even more colorful than the one we caught! This was a great way to build some excitement before we began our Rainbow Mountain trek.
Tipon, Pikillaqta, Andahuaylillas Day Tour
A Tipon trip is a good option for a day tour before beginning our Rainbow Mountain trek and Machu Picchu hike. Throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to see beautiful Inca terraces and historical sites.
During the adventure, we were able to tour this church and visit huge terraces! This was when I realized just how rich the Peruvian culture was.
Who knew there was so much to see south of Cusco?
Trekking to Rainbow Mountain Peru
The next four days, you will complete your Rainbow Mountain trek through the Ausangate Mountains. The day before, we had a trek brief with our guides. This is also they day they gave us dry bags so we could go back to our hotel, pack our day bags for the trek, then pack the dry bags for the horses to carry.
To this day, I haven’t seen glacier lakes, and mountain ranges more beautiful than these! The trek left me in awe each day. The Killa Expeditions team spared no expense to make sure we were taken care of throughout the trek. Scott and I are vegans and were somewhat worried about what we would eat during days of non-stop hiking. Their cooks were able to accommodate us with no problems! Some days I ate better than I do at home.
Can we also talk about all the Alpaca on the trail?
I’d also like to point out that you’ll be in a different hemisphere, so make sure you look up at the sky! The stars will be brighter and a little bit different than what you’ll see at home.
We also conquered a 16er and a 17er, which left my legs questioning every decision I’ve ever made. Expect that day 3 of the Rainbow Mountain trek will be the challenge day.
This sunrise portion of our Rainbow Mountain trek was pretty unreal! I couldn’t feel my toes after hiking through snow for an hour, but looking back it was quite the experience. That being said, I would expect it to be cold on your trek. Wear warm layers and prepare for the possibility of their being ice on the trail or maybe some snow!
Aguas Calientes is the town closest to Machu Picchu. It’s is relatively touristy and crowded, so be warned. You'll see plenty more tourists who have probably been trekking in Peru too! I will note, though, that most of them probably didn't just finish the Rainbow Mountain trek, so you have something to brag about.
Then you will need to wait at least another hour for the sun to come up. While I didn’t try it, I have heard of some folks having better luck roaming the ruins at sunset! It might be something to look into for when you decide to visit.
One Last Day in Cusco
Day 10 was a rest day for Scott and me. We went to the Cusco Starbucks (very touristy of us), edited photos, packed our bags, and got ready to leave for home. If you’re up for it, you can also use this day to go on another day trip. If you want plenty of tours to choose from, go trekking in Peru with a company like Killa Expeditions! You can see their selection of treks here.
Peru was nothing short of amazing! I’m already planning my return. I couldn’t be more excited to be partners with Killa and bring some more folks to this beautiful country! What part of this trip would have you feeling the most excited? Let me know in the comments below!
To learn more about Killa Expeditions and their tours, visit their website here. Happy exploring!
This blog was written by Mountain Chicks Founder Dani The Explorer
Before moving to Arizona, I spent my childhood in Illinois. I don’t remember much about the Midwest, so when I recently had the chance to visit Ohio, I was excited to see all the things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and all the other things to do in the Cleveland Metroparks. Ohio is full of lush green forests, prancing deer, and lakeside beaches.
While exploring Ohio, I had the opportunity to try Bionica Footwear’s new Orsola shoe. The Orsola is an incredibly light and comfortable sneaker that I found to be perfect for the short trails and walks I took in the Cuyahoga Valley. The footbed left me feeling like I just finished walking on clouds, which is much more than I can say about most light trail sneakers.
Blue Hen Falls
When I was first looking at things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park during my first visit a couple of winters ago, Blue Hen Falls caught my eye because I thought it would make the perfect winter wonderland scene. I was right! This waterfall during the winter is one of the dreamiest sites you will ever see. Can you imagine this area with fall colors? During my most recent visit this summer, this Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail was still just as beautiful. I had forgotten how great it felt to sit down and take in the views with no one else around.
Other Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails I recommend seeing include:
The Cleveland Metroparks
The Cleveland Metroparks is made up of over 23,000 acres of land and 300 trails. Some parks include epic sunset locations and lakefronts. The Metroparks are the perfect way to escape the city.
Huntington Beach is on the shore of Lake Erie in Bay Village. It’s a great beach to watch the sunrise and go for a swim. You can also visit the lighthouse for a scoop of ice cream or go for a bike ride around the perimeter of the lake. If you’re not a swimmer, there are spots along the beach where you can launch a kayak for a different view of the area.
A few other Metroparks areas include:
-Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
For more information on things to do in the Cleveland Metroparks, you can visit their site here. If you would like to see another list of things to do in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, you can visit their website here.
I would like to thank Bionica Footwear for sponsoring this blog post. To see more of their fall line of shoes, visit their website here.