Mountain Adventurers - Teton Sports Ambassador Program

 

Last week, Teton Sports announced their crew of Mountain Adventurers…and I am one of them!

I am officially a Teton Sports Ambassador and with their support, I’ll be getting outside more often and hopefully inspiring others to try new things. I’ve been posting about getting outdoors and trying new things on Campfire Chic for four years and I am glad to be a part of a team who will inspire me to continue exploring.

You can see who else is a Mountain Adventurer by clicking here.

Kam Altar Mountain Adventurer - Teton Sports - Campfire Chic

If you head over to the Teton Sports website, you’ll see that each Mountain Adventurer has his or her own profile. Each profile contains a bio, some photos, and ways to connect with each person socially. These photos will be updated as we continue to share our adventures, which I think is pretty neat…I think there is something that will auto-magically update our profiles as we send photos out into the world. You can see my profile here.

I think this would be a great time to list a few of the archived posts that I think may interest other “chronic beginners” like myself:

If you’re interested in following along as the Mountain Advetnurers crew starts doing their thing, follow the hashtags #MountainAdventurers and #GetOutside on both Instagram and Twitter. As usual, you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Google+ for my news and updates!

How do you inspire others to get outside?

What holds you back from trying new things?

{ 7 comments }

 

Kayaking Essentials for Beginners from Campfire Chic

I may or may not be buying a kayak tomorrow (follow me on Instagram to see if it actually happens) because I’ve come to the point where if I keep renting a kayak, I’m going to be paying more than if I just buy one for myself. It’s a little nuts and I’m not exactly sure I know what I’m getting myself into, but I have my eye on a super entry-level sit-on-top kayak that will be pretty perfect for the casual kayaking I’ve been doing for the past month.

While you don’t need much to go kayaking, I wanted to share what this beginner was bringing with her on her weekends on the water. Nothing fancy, but I know I would’ve liked to know about a few things before going out the first time…like, board shorts are a good idea because getting just the seat of my hiking short wet looked like I had an accident instead of being in the water.

My (Beginner-Level) Kayaking Essentials

  • Lifeproof Case – I’ve been using my Lifeproof case for a while now and have used it in different circumstances (like The Color Run — PERFECT use of this case) and I will probably buy the Lifeproof Lifejacket soon because it won’t help that my phone is protected from water if it is at the bottom of the bay. I feel so much better knowing that I can bring my phone to take photos (because a GoPro is a little out of my budget right now) and to track our route using apps like RunKeeper or Ramblr.
  • Keen Clearwater CNX Sandals – I wrote a review of these sandals when I first got them and I’m still using them! I like that they are light so I don’t feel weighed down when I step into the water and they are super comfortable. I’ll be earning my “Keen Stripes” soon, I’m sure. Alex wears his Clearwater CNX sandals, too, and likes them for the toe protection they provide.
  • Patagonia Board Shorts – I missed the memo that board shorts are nearly impossible to find for women this year! Thankfully, I have a pair from two years ago I can squeeze myself into. I just ordered the ones in the photo above and I’m looking forward to having a second pair with a little bit longer inseam (I’m not going to lie, these board shorts will probably be in my next order…I like the pattern more, but the price difference pushed me to get the ones above). Like I mentioned, wearing board shorts over my swim bottoms is much more comfortable than my hiking shorts, which I wore the first time out. I have no idea what I was thinking…
  • Hat, Buff - While we are having a bit of June Gloom right now, the sun seems to break through while I’m on the water and going without a hat or Buff headwear to protect my head/face is out of the question. I use my hiking hat (or my super-dorky visor from Disneyland if I can’t find my hat, like last weekend…this is the hat I will buy over and over again, I love it so) while on the water and it’s great because it’s super comfortable and I can get it wet without worrying about it. I also like to have my Buff with me because I can use it as a headband or wear it around my wrist (super sexy alert!) if I have really bad allergies (like last weekend) and need a “portable tissue”. Yeah, that.
  • Sunglasses - How could I forget sunglasses?? Actually, I did the first time out and totally regretted it. Thankfully, Alex and I were sharing a pair of Cabana sunglasses from Fisherman Eyewear and while they weren’t comfortable for him, they felt just fine for me when on the water. They’re polarized and fit snugly on my face so I wasn’t worried about them falling off my face and they’re cheaper than my Tumbleweed sunglasses so I could easily replace them if needed. Another bonus? They survived the bottom of my overflowing tote bag for a few days — the cheapie glasses we bought (think: 2 for $20 swapmeet sunglasses) in the past would never be able to withstand that test! Lesson: get durable sunglasses that don’t feel like they’re going to fall off your face!
  • Sea to Summit Dry Sack – I bought this when we went canyoneering a few year ago and I love having it tow whenever we go to the beach. Having my Sea to Summit bag in the kayak with me allows me to keep a few things handy (like my car keys and debit card) without needing to worry about them getting wet. I usually stow my phone in the bag, too, if the lifevest I’m wearing doesn’t have a zipper pocket. This is also a good bag to have when traveling, it’s super small and lightweight so it’s great in a carryon or in your luggage to keep things in one place and secure.
  • Cleaning Wipes (Paper Shower) – I didn’t realize how salty/sweaty/sunscreen-y I would get after an hour or so on the water so I made sure to have wipes in the car for a quick cleanup before heading out to lunch after paddling. I normally have a box of baby wipes in my car, but after trying out Paper Shower, I’m hooked. The wipes are much larger than a baby wipe (10″ x 12″) so I can use less and there is a dry wipe for each wet wipe. Paper Shower donates to organizations like the American Cancer Society and homeless shelters and sends products to disaster relief efforts.

Items not pictured above but worth a consideration: A bottle of water to keep in your kayak! I would also suggest having a towel, change of clothes, a post-paddle snack, and sunscreen in your car.

What do you bring with you when you go kayaking?

Have you tried kayaking before?

Paper Shower and Fisherman Eyewear sent samples of their product to me for review. While I received free product in exchange for a review, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. Also, many links in this post are affiliate links. Shopping through these links supports Campfire Chic through a small commission from Amazon.com.

{ 5 comments }

11 Books to Fuel Your Wanderlust by Campfire Chic

I’m not talking about Eat, Pray, Love, I’m talking about books where there may be a few days/weeks between showers. Books written by people who go on long hiking trips, sleep out of their cars, and travel long distances on bicycles. These are the kinds of books that get me excited about traveling and trying new things. They’re the types of people who help me understand that sometimes that leap of faith isn’t as scary as it seems — you can build your wings on the way down.

11 Books to Feed Your Wanderlust

Wild: From Lost to Found on the PCT

Reese Witherspoon will be staring in the film adaptation of Wild this year, so add this to your summer reading list before it comes out. Basically, the author (Cheryl Strayed) loses everything and decides to go for a walk…an 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, to be more exact. She was 26 years old at the time and decided to go on this trip by herself…she writes about her shortcomings, weaknesses, and being very along on the trail.

I Hike

I read I Hike by Lawton (Disco) Grinter on a plane and ended up needing extra cocktail napkins because I was crying into my ginger ale during one of the chapters. Alex was nice enough to remind me to laugh more quietly during the other chapters of the book (oops!). I Hike is full of “mostly true stories” from over 10 years and 10,000 of long distance hiking. After listening to the Trail Show podcast a few times, it was nice to get a little bit more history on Disco and P.O.D. (there is a hilarious story about the benefits of hiking in a skirt involving P.O.D.). This book is hilarious and a super easy read as each chapter is a short story.

Bicycle Diaries 

Alex read Bicycle Diaries a couple of years ago and demanded to know why I didn’t include it in this list (it was originally 10 Books to Feed Your Wanderlust). This is David Byrne’s memoir about traveling across different countries on his bike. Get this book for the bike-advocate (or the new hot term: active transportation advocate) in your life. Byrne discusses what the conditions of roadways and city planning say about the state of a city while also covering what it’s like to visit foreign places on a fold-up bicycle.

Slow is Fast 

This is a great coffee table book…but for small coffee tables, because this book isn’t large at all. I received a copy of Slow is Fast by Dan Malloy (Author), Kanoa Zimmerman (Author), Kellen Keene (Author) and handed it over to Alex as soon as it came to the door. The three authors share their story of traveling along the California coast using only human-powered travel…mostly by bicycle. They surf and meet interesting characters as they travel down the coast and capture photos, interviews, video, and more in this book/DVD combo. It’s the type of book that’s easy to flip through (minus the two-page full-color spread of roadkill they encountered along the way) but also good for getting an idea of what truly makes California unique. 

The New American Road Trip Mixtape

What do you do when you get your heartbroken? Load up your station wagon and hit the road. At least, that’s what Brendan Leonard (of semi-rad.com) did as he traveled and climbed his way across the American West. Like, I Hike, it was interesting to read a more personal side of somebody’s story, especially after following them online for a few years.  I think The New American Road Trip Mixtap will resonate with other late-twenties/early-thirties folks who aren’t quite sure where we fit in with the old idea of the American Dream.

High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity

Steph Davis writes about how she found rock climbing, how it empowered her, finding love (even as a nomad), making friends, and what lead to her becoming a high-profile athlete. This book focuses mostly on climbing and doesn’t really cover her career in BASE jumping or wingsuit flying. I loved that this was sort of Steph’s origin story and the information she shares on climbing culture in Yosemite. Knowing that not all climbers start when they are super young made me feel better about starting pretty “late” in life. Her writing is conversational, which made it easy for me to blow through the book in a weekend.

A few years ago, I celebrated Campfire Chic’s anniversary with a blog party (a new post goes up each hour for 24 hours) and Alex shared his list of outdoor/adventure books he recommends. I pulled the list from that post, and they are as follows:

Next on my list: Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog by Steph Davis (the author of High Infatuation, listed above). It’s Steph’s book that covers when/why/how she started BASE jumping and wingsuit flying. It was published just months before her husband passed away in an accident while they were wingsuit flying in Italy and I’ve put off reading the book because I know it’ll be incredibly sad to read about their relationship when I know the outcome.

What books would you add to this list?

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. Shopping through these links supports Campfire Chic.

{ 7 comments }

How to Get the Most Out of Your National Park Visit - Campfire Chic

I love visiting National Parks for a few reasons, but most importantly, I love to visit them because they give me an opportunity to see landscapes that are different than the perfectly-planned-beige-Suburbia that can be Orange County. I am able to see mountains, rivers, and a shoreline that isn’t dotted with characters from MTV.

After each trip to a National Park, I get emails from readers looking for specific itineraries and recommendations for trips. I am not a travel agent so I’m not the best person to consult for the closest airport to Sequoia or the specifics of the menu at the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite. I am, however, able to tell you where you can get kombucha and vegetarian food near of Joshua Tree.

If you are planning a trip to a National Park this year, I have a few tips to get the most out of your trip:

Plan ahead

Don’t expect to be able to score an awesome campsite within a popular park without a reservation. The reservable sites for places like Yosemite and Joshua Tree get scooped up very quickly during prime seasons (summer for Yosemite and spring for Joshua Tree). If you’re hoping to get a walk-up spot, make sure to have a plan B so you aren’t searching for a nearby motel after driving 8 hours to the park.

The same is true if you have dietary needs/requests or want to go on a specific tour while at the park. We discovered that the town outside of Olympic National Park didn’t have many vegetarian options (thought we did find some great curry) and the restaurant behind our B&B outside Mt. Rainier ran out of food early one evening so we had to get creative with our order…they did, however, have plenty of excellent beer! We expected to find ourselves without many tasty options, so Alex and I packed an entire luggage with snacks — dried apricots, trail mix, fruit rope, and other “trail food” that travels easily. If you have a gluten-free diet, plan ahead and bring some snacks that you can eat in a pinch.

Do your research

I did zero research before our first weekend in Joshua Tree and totally hated our time there. In fact, we had our camping spot for two nights but left after one. We didn’t know what to do after we drove through the park a bit and went on two short hikes. Without a bit of planning, the park came off as a little boring and more of a Boy Scout paradise than a relaxing desert getaway.

Check out the website for the park you want to visit and see what is highlighted as “must do/see” things in the park. Some opportunities in the parks need a reservation (Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park) and some parks don’t have concessions (Like Haleakala National Park)

In addition to websites, travel books and books on specific topics of interest within the parks may be a good option for your research. While browsing sites before your arrival may be more convenient, don’t assume you will have internet access while in a National Park. For example, Yosemite Adventures by Matt Johanson will be coming along on my next trip to Yosemite because there are many more trail reports and color photos and maps in this book than what I am finding online. The book contains 50 hikes, climbs, and winter treks so it’s a four-season book for beginners and more advanced adventurers. Most of the adventures Matt highlights in the book comes with insider tips, like how most people only visit the lowest of the three lakes making up the Young Lakes area and to take the short detour to Dogs Lake on your way out…or to bring a fishing pole to some of the lakes…I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the helpful hints and insider tips I can get when I’m trying something new!

Try something new

I’m an advocate for being brave and trying something new — but this may be something as simple as attending a Ranger Talk or campfire program in the park. If there is an introductory video available, take a few minutes and check it out. On the flip side, if you don’t normally leave the campground when you are in the park, see what is available to you…maybe you can rent a bike and go for a ride, there may be a swimming hole nearby that has great views of the park, or even leave the park and explore the town outside of the boundaries.

Alex and I tried sea kayaking, canyoneering, and building anchors for top rope climbing while visiting national parks. I would like to bike down Haleakala (I’m not very good at riding a bike) when we get to that park and would love to go on a canoe trip through Everglades National Park.

Ask your friends

A few weeks ago, I posed a question on Instagram (I’m @CampfireChic) to see what tips people have for visiting National Parks.

Here are some of the responses:

  • @krystalarnot Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. There have been a couple people get lost up while hiking here in Humboldt recently. Luckily, all found safely.
  • @girltaristhan I don’t really know how it works for national parks in the US but it’s probably worth making note of things like where the nearest water point is and do you need to notify a ranger or something like that, that you’re out and about in the park – also do you need to sign out at the same point or can you sign out elsewhere?
  • @karlos_mke I’ve found that the best lodging is a simple tent under the stars or a no frills structure such as a yurt. It let’s nature be the real surrounds/habitat for your trip! As for food, snacks…lots of snacks. Also bring a cooler for all the craft beer from local breweries on said adventure trip.
  • @ethosadventuresIf you are headed to one of the more popular parks, plan to make your trip in the off season! Avoiding crowds is key! Also, be sure to prep your food in advance to avoid overpriced meals.
  • @hulagirl06 You can buy a national park pass to save on entrance fees. I like to stay at Tenaya Lodge which is an hour outside of Yosemite. It won’t break the bank like the Ahwahnee Hotel and it’s a beautiful resort.
  • @laurietewksbury The free national park days, of course! And not just adventuring based on what’s said in the guidebook because that’s what everyone does. Oftentimes the solitude beats the crowds.
  • @hi.julie Check out desolation wilderness !
  • @laurafcgo Time your trip for the off-season or very beginning of the busy season to avoid the crowds. This is especially helpful for popular parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone.
What  would you add to this list?
Do you have park-specific tips you would like to share?

 

Triumph Books provided me with a copy of Yosemite Adventures by Matt Johanson in exchange for an honest review of the book. While I was given the book for free, the opinions expressed in this article are my own. I only review and share products with Campfire Chic readers unless I believe they will be of use to readers. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns about this partnership or the book reviewed in this post.

{ 2 comments }

Limestone Canyon and the Sinks - Campfire Chic

 

Alex and I spent National Trails Day in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve (Google Maps will tell you it is a Regional Park, but it isn’t), which is owned and maintained by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Access to the preserve is limited to scheduled programs only — and having National Trails Day coincide with an Access Day event in Limestone Canyon meant Alex and I could make it to an area called “The Sinks”. This area is Orange County’s only National Natural Landmark.

Talk to hikers in Orange County and the surrounding area and you’ll hear even the most seasoned hikers saying that this hike is one of the ones they’ve been trying to cross off of their list for some time now. You see, the preserve is only open to the public (equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers) for a few hours during the first Saturday of every month. You may be able to get in during other times, but you’ll be required to stay with a guide/docent the entire time. This weekend’s event allowed the public access to several trails without guides and activities for families with small children.

The Sinks Trail in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve - Campfire Chic

The big draw to this area is a geological feature known as “The Sinks”, which is fondly referred to as the “mini-Grand Canyon of Orange County” which is kind of cute considering it’s nothing like the Grand Canyon. I will say, it is nice to know that there is something to see at the end of the trail after spending several miles on a relatively flat trail early on a Saturday morning.

The trail does not have much cover, so I suggest doing this trail as early in the morning as you can (the parking lot opens at 8:00 a.m.) to avoid hiking/riding during the heat of the day. The beautiful oak trees somewhat line the trail, but they’re far enough back that they’re not much help. June in California means June Gloom — overcast and chilly in the mornings and clear and warm in the afternoons. Alex and I enjoyed the relatively-empty trail with plenty of cloud cover, but on our return trip, the crowds were certainly awake and the sun was out.

Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve Access Day Event - Campfire Chic

There are a handful of trails and trail spurs throughout the area to make your limited time in the reserve worthwhile. You can take the Shoestring Loop, you can take the direct route straight to the sinks, or you can add on a spur (like Raptor and Cactus Canyon) to increase your distance.

We took the most direct route we could to The Sinks, which is almost 8 miles, out and back. The trail is unpaved, relatively no elevation gain, and is a double-track so there is enough space for mountain bikers to go around you (hypothetically, there were some mountain bikers who unapologetically ran hikers off of the trail. There were also hikers walking 2 -3 abreast and not making proper room for mountain bikers. This is why we can’t have nice things) and for you to give enough room to the equestrian trail users.

The Sinks in Orange County Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve - Campfire Chic

Once you reach The Sinks, there is a viewing platform that allows you to get close to the edge safely. Some volunteers were available to answer questions and to take photos of groups, if needed. Every volunteer was so happy to greet visitors and were thrilled to answer questions and engage in conversation about the beautiful area. There isn’t much room on the platform, but the turnover was high when we arrived (one mountain biker commented on how fast we made it out there), so we were able to check out the views of the canyon without a lot of hassle. After a quick water break, Alex and I headed back to the parking lot.

If we go back out to this area, I hope the East Loma trail is open so we could make a much larger loop around the preserve with some possible views of the ocean. I highly recommend this hike (or the other options within the preserve) to anybody in the area looking for something different and a little more “exclusive” since you can only gain entry through special events.

Tips for visiting Limestone Canyon:

  • Create an account on LetsGoOutside.org so you can register for events like this
  • Keep an eye on the Irvine Ranch twitter account so you know when events are coming up
  • Go early and carpool – the parking lot isn’t as large as needed (for good reason) and carpooling is better for the environment
  • Bring plenty of water – there is no water provided at the event (it’s Orange County, some folks expect branded bottles of water available at a moment’s notice)
  • Have some snacks ready – we had some dates and fruit rope for the trail and Alex packed some homemade spring rolls ready for us once we got back to the car
  • Stay on the trail – there are rattlesnakes in the area and has restricted access for a reason, many habitats are in need of restoration after years of cattle farming and for raptor breeding
  • Don’t forget to check out! Those fun badges you receive when you begin your hike need to be returned as you check out. No, you cannot keep them for Project Life, I already asked

{ 2 comments }