Visit Salt Lake City - Campfire Chic

Earlier this month, I attending (my first) Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was traveling alone, wasn’t sure about my exact role while at the show, and didn’t really know what to expect because the Twitter and Instagram feed from last year felt like not many attendees had the time/energy to update often (except Jam Media Collective, they do an awesome job covering the show, in my opinion).

Now I know why.

Outdoor Retailer (#ORShow) is just as exhausting as San Diego Comic-Con…and maybe even more because I was working in a booth, walked a ton (one day I did 16 miles!), and because it’s so new and different. Also, not all brands are thrilled with having photos taken of their products and because I didn’t have a media badge, I was out of luck getting any sort of special privileges.

What was my favorite part of the show? Meeting more of my internet friends! 

I was able to finally put voices to the friends I’ve made through blogging, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s so interesting being surrounded by people who are not only thrilled about being outdoors, but enjoy talking about ethically-sourced down, the nuances of posting to Instagram, and don’t ask questions when you grab a Snickers bar before a long hike. Seriously, these are my people.

Blogger Cliche Photo - Campfire Chic

Keen Footwear UNEEK Shoe - Campfire Chic

Teton Sports Showroom in Utah - Campfire Chic

Other highlights of the show:

  • Working the KEEN sandal sale — KEEN was selling their CNX sandals for $30 (such a steal!) and I had the opportunity to learn how to use Square on an iPad. It may sound silly, but I’ve been wanting to see how the system works and I love how easy it was to use!
  • Going to the Teton Sports showroom for #HikerChat on Friday morning — I love the #HikerChat Twitter chat and it was interesting to be sitting in an office with 3 other people during the chat. We didn’t talk too much since we were feverishly typing and trying to keep up with the notoriously fact-paced chat…I ended up sprawling across the floor as I tried to catch up on questions and cool off after an extra-warm walk from the convention center with Adam (@ThatOutdoorGuy).
  • KEENfest! – I knew it would be awesome, but being inside the tent and seeing all the awesome things going on and meeting people (over free food) was fantastic. This is where I first ran into Jeff and Joan (@TheSocalHiker and @JoanEHester) and Katie and Laurie (@katieboue/@themorningfresh and @laurietewksbury)! I scored an awesome sling made out of a parasail, dove into the photobooth with some new friends, reconnected with some of the folks from the Bridge to Nowhere hike from last year.
  • Fangirling over my favorite brands… — Now, this probably sounds super silly, but seeing some of my favorite brands “in real life” was super thrilling for me! And knowing that there were real-live people standing in those booths who probably shared the same level of love for that brand was just too much for my little gear-loving heart. A friend and I hunted down the TICLA booth (and I just about died when the founder said, “Campfire Chic? I know exactly who you are”), I tried to keep a straight face (instead of sporting heart-eyes) as I traipsed past the Arc’teryx booth, gawked at the upcoming line of beautiful SUUNTO watches…you know, totally normal reactions.
  • …and discovering new-to-me-brands — My Miir water bottle and Vim&Vigr compression socks are two of my favorite things I picked up at the show (and I picked up a TON of stuff). There are so many cool products and cool people at the show that it’s hard to remember everything, but trust me…there are some cool things that will be popping up here soon enough and I’ll give you the low-down at that time.

The highlight that almost killed me? 

A super-secret hike with fellow members of the Mountain Adventurers team! It was super-secret in the sense that I received an email that pretty much said, “you’re going on this strenuous 6-mile hike. Bring a headlamp and 3 liters of water.” Hiking with strangers at an unknown location and I can’t bring a friend? Okay, I guess that’s cool. 

Lake Blanche Trailhead - Campfire Chic

Teton Sports Trailrunner Hydration Pack - Campfire Chic

My sea-level lungs got the best me of as we made our way up to Lake Blanche (trail information here) but I made it (thanks to Jordan, Kristie, Adam and the others for sticking with me!) and after a few photos we used our headlamps to race back down to the trailhead. While I would’ve skipped the hike if I had the opportunity to look up the details (2,500 feet elevation gain!), I’m glad Teton Sports kept me in the dark and I tagged along.

I’m really thankful I was able to finally attend #ORShow and see what actually happens at the show. I hope to have the opportunity to attend the winter show even though snow is pretty much my Kryptonite (I hate being cold and wet…which is snow, right?).

 

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Simple Backpacking Comforts - Campfire Chic

I think the biggest turnoff to camping and backpacking is the thought of sleeping on the cold hard ground and eating pathetic ramen while you try to outsmart the smoke of your campfire…it’s the thoughts of being constantly dirty, worries about bears getting into your tent and mistaking you for a soft taco, and that feeling that you’re probably going to have to figure out how to use your poop shovel eventually…

It’s not glamorous…if it was, more people would do it!

While the small comforts I bring with me while hiking and backpacking may mean more weight (you have to carry everything…and things have weight…and weight is heavy!) they bring me enough comfort that I don’t mind hauling them around.

My backpacking comforts:

  • Snickers bar — If you can get the dark chocolate with almonds or the peanut butter Snickers bars, do it. Yes, the chocolate will melt a bit, but there is something about a Snickers that makes hauling a heavy pack up a ton of switchbacks seem like a walk in the park (not really. not at all). Why do a lot of hikers seem to favor Snickers? They have a good number of calories considering the size of each bar, they are delicious, there is 4 grams of protein, and they’re delicious.
  • ClimbOn! Creme from SkiNourishment — Lately, I’ve been using my ClimbOn! creme for sunburns and the lip tube (in the photo above) is fantastic. The Creme is awesome to have around in case of blisters, chapped skin, gnarly cuticles, and dry skin. You can get small sample sizes that are easy to toss into a bag and the lip tube seems to last forever because you’re not constantly reapplying.
  • Tuna — Specifically the pouches of tuna you can get at the store, like Wild Planet’s Wild Albacore Tuna (no liquid or salt added, no GMO, no BPA in the packaging, and one of the best choices for sustainability). With each pouch packing a whopping 20 grams of protein and Omega-3 oils, tuna is a great way to get some non-plant-based protein while on the trail. I bring a small packet of relish and some salt & pepper with me, when I can to spice things up and either eat the tuna straight from the pouch or put it in a tortilla for a simple wrap. These pouches don’t take up a lot of room and they make me feel so full after a long day of hiking that they are my go-to lunch while adventuring.
  • KEEN footwear Olympus socks — while socks may just be socks to you, but taking care of your feet while in the backcountry is super important. I love these socks because they have the seam under the toes instead of over them like most socks, they are foot-specific (a right sock and a left sock), and they have a special material in them so you are unlikely to wear through a pair, even on a really long hike. KEEN gives socks to many Pacific Crest Trail hikers, which is an awesome move in my book.
  • Mountain House meals — I’m lazy and would rather just add water to a pouch of food than try to have a gourmet dinner after a long day. I also share a small bear canister with Alex and because we eat different food, space is always an issue. Mountain House sent me some samples of their new line of Pro-Paks before our trip to Sequoia a few weeks ago and comparing the new packaging to the regular pouches was really interesting…less air in the pouch means it takes up less room and is less likely to burst with the change in altitude! I’m a HUGE fan of the fact that these pouches are resealable…what’s more annoying than having to hold a bag of food shut for 20 minutes while you wait for it to hydrate?? I used the resealable bag as a small trash bag once we were done with it. I highly recommend the spaghetti with meat sauce meal (weighs in at 4.06 oz).
  • Buff Headwear — I know I included this in my kayaking essentials, but seriously, these things are fantastic to have around. I use both the half and the full sized Buff headwear as a headband, a way to cover the back of my neck, as a scarf, around my wrist to keep my cool, as a handkerchief, and as a pillow. They are a fun way to accessorize in the outdoors, too, which doesn’t hurt!

What comforts do you insist on bringing with you when outdoors? 

 Many of the links in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may result in a small commission, which supports Campfire Chic. Mountain House and Wild Planet provided samples of their products for possible review — I am sharing their information because I really do like their products and feel that Campfire Chic readers would enjoy these products as well. Opinions in this post are my own. 

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Sequoia National Park - Cahoon Meadow - Campfire Chic

 Alex and I like our mini-tradition of backpacking in the Sierras the weekend before Comic-Con and this year decided to skip Yosemite National Park and head back to Sequoia National Park. Our first (and only other) trip to Sequioa was in June 2010, which makes it the “birthplace” of Campfire Chic. I was fresh out of grad school and didn’t have a job lined up…we were sitting down for dinner around the campfire and started to brainstorm things I could do to stay busy while I continued my job search. We didn’t have a name when we finished our trip, but we had plenty of ideas and a few supplies from the gift shop to get me started.

Instead of car camping this time, Alex and I got permits to camp at Clover Creek (originally, we were going to camp at Twin Lakes but decided to have a basecamp closer to the trailhead)  outside of the Lodgepole area of the park. It was a quick trip but we were able to some new things like treat water (I know, it’s been a long time coming) and troubleshoot hiking in a thunderstorm.

The Basics:

  • Moderately steep climb through forests and meadows. There is a limit so permits are required.
  • Lodgepole Visitor Center to Clover Creek : 4.8 miles
  • Clover Creek Campground: Shared bear boxes/locker and water source available
  •  You can find a write-up of the trail to Twin Lakes (which I used for this trip) here.

 

Sequoia National Park - Teton Sports Backpack - Campfire Chic

 

Pick up your permits at the Lodgepole Visitor’s Center – if you do not request an extension, you need to get to the desk by 9:00 a.m. to get your permit or they may give it away. They are really good about responding to email if you cannot get through via phone. From the visitor’s center, you’ll move your car to the Lodgepole campground overflow parking…there are restrooms and water located here. Be sure to clear out your vehicle of trash and food/smelly items, it’s bear country, afterall! There are at least 2 bear lockers in the parking lot. You’ll be sharing with others, so I suggest keeping your things together and taking up as little room as possible. Cross over the bridge toward the campground and the trailhead will be on the right. Ready set go!

This trail is listed as “moderate to strenuous” To be honest, I thought it was more like “this will be strenuous for your grandma, please don’t bring her this way” not “hi, we’re about to kick your butt.” It’s uphill the entire time until you get to Cahoon Gap, which is kind of a saddle, and then you’ll descend toward Clover Creek (about 4 miles from the trailhead). Don’t get too excited…downhill now means you’ll be met with uphill as you start your way home. If you decide to go past Clover Creek and head another 2 miles or so to Little Lakes, expect more uphill and some switchbacks.

Teton Sports Above Cahoon Meadow - Campfire Chic

You’ll pass by Cahoon Meadow (shown in the two photos above — the top photo shows Alex standing on the edge of the meadow and the bottom photos show me on the trail looking down at the meadow) about 3 miles from the trailhead, which is beautiful and if your trip is like ours, you’ll see some bears enjoying the meadow, too. We encountered 5 – 6 bears on this trip, including one in our campground (as we arrived, we don’t think s/he stuck around for long) and another (maybe the same one as the campground?) sitting above the trail between Clover Creek and Little Lakes. Please take your safety and the safety of the bears seriously.

Clover Creek’s campground has a shared bear locker that you are required to use while staying there…no leaving your bear canister out or hanging your food bag (I think you’re required to use a bear canister in the National Park, but I could be wrong). It’s convenient but does allow access to giant ants who will rip through your Snickers bar wrappers if given then chance (yes, I’m still crying over this!). There are 2 – 3 established fire rings at the campground and plenty of downed wood for a small fire, if you wish. The area could use a little love, but for a quick trip, it does the trick! As the name suggests, there is a small creek at the site which you can use as your water source, just be sure to treat the water (we boiled for 6 minutes some water and treated other water (for our nuun) with iodine tablets for the required 4 hours).

 
Sequoia National Park - Clover Creek - Campfire Chic

Alex and I originally planned on being out for two nights but decided to cut the trip short when our stove stopped working and I discovered most of my bars were being gobbled up by ants (totally my fault). We did a quick warmup hike without our packs and then returned to camp to pack up and head out. We got caught in a thunderstorm as we caught sight of the Cahoon Meadow and it was glorious. And by glorious, I mean mildly terrifying at times when it sounded like Galatcus was ripping apart the sky. Otherwise, awesome. By the time we made it back to the trailhead, it was pouring buckets and I’m sure the campers thought we were crazy with our shorts, tank tops, and giant smiles as we slowly made our way back to the car. We get so little rain that you need to enjoy it while you can!

Sequoia National Park - Clover Creek Log - Campfire Chic

I’ll be sharing some of my backpacking comforts (including food!) next week.

Gear shown: Teton Sports Escape4300 backpack, Thermarest sleeping pad, Stonewear Designs Dryflex Double Cross top, Columbia shorts (similar), Black Diamond trekking poles.

 

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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?

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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.

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