Visit: Big Morongo Canyon Preserve 11055 East Dr, Morongo Valley, CA 92256

Hiking Big Morongo Canyon Preserve - California Desert Oasis Hiking with Campfire Chic

Day two of the Feral Female Weekend was spent partially in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, which is just a few minutes from Mission Creek Preserve.

There is a large sign pointing the way to the preserve from the main highway. Take it slow as you leave the paved road and head into the dirt parking lot. There are bathrooms and trash cans here. As you enter the preserve, you’ll walk through an exhibit that talks about the flora and fauna of the preserve and more information about the Sand to Snow National Monument.

This is a good spot to pick up a map of the preserve and leave a donation.

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve - California Desert Oasis Hiking Trails - Kam of Campfire Chic

I believe we took the trails that went around the edge of the preserve, which is just over 2 miles total of trails. There is elevation gain in parts and it is very exposed, so be prepared for that. You can find a map here.

Hiking Big Morongo Canyon Preserve - California Desert Oasis Hiking - Kam of Campfire Chic

Hiking Big Morongo Canyon Preserve - California Desert Oasis Hiking with Campfire Chic - Diversity Outdoors

Cactus Mart

We saw signs for native tacos at Cactus Mart on our way to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Paulina and I got pretty excited and it was great that Shawnté and Oshie (in the car in front of us) were equally excited about the idea of some native tacos for lunch. We vowed to visit Cactus Mart after checking out the preserve.

Cactus Mart near Big Morongo Canyon Preserve - Campfire Chic

Cactus Mart is located in Morongo Valley, and is part nursery part hardware store part gallery. I have driven by many times on the way to Joshua Tree and was always interested in stopping but the sign for food was really what got me to stop this time!

Martha's Fry Bread Menu at Cactus Mart - Big Morongo Canyon - Campfire Chic

First, let’s talk about these native tacos. They are also known as “Indian tacos” and are made using fry bread. You can get tacos with the fry bread or you can sweet fry bread, is which also awesome. I had a beef native taco and pineapple spinach drink, abd shared a dessert fry bread. I wish I ordered a second taco to take home with me…or to eat right then and there.

Marthas Fry Bread Native Tacos at Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley - Campfire Chic

Photo courtesy of Oshie

Seriously, how good does this taco look? I could eat a million of them. It was very satisfying after hiking in the warm weather! My drink is in the background and the pineapple spinach combo made the juice not overly sweet, which was perfect for me.

Cactus Mart Morongo Valley - Kam of Campfire Chic

Butch of Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley - Campfire Chic

Second, there are no dogs allowed at Cactus Mart because there are two furry mascots: Butch (above) and Sundance! They are both very friendly and used to visitors. Paulina found Butch hanging out in the part of the nursery where the cuttings are set aside to take root before they’re sold. It was a perfect spot for him.

Plan to spend at least 30-1 hour here depending on if you plan on eating. There are a few places to explore, lots of plants to check out, and a great gallery/boutique area to browse. I picked up a small back of coffee beans from the Joshua Tree Coffee Company and an amazing yucca bloom candle from the Joshua Tree Candle Company, two of the local brands carried at Cactus Mart.

Hadley’s Date Shakes and Dinosaurs

Date Shake from Hadleys in Cabazon California - Kam of Campfire Chic

Before saying goodbye, we took Paulina over to the iconic Cabazon dinosaurs that were featured in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure even though she isn’t familiar with the movie. We made a stop at Hadley’s market for date shakes and to get some samples before parting ways. I got a giant date shake, which comes with this reusable cup! It’s the little things in life.

If you find yourself with extra time on your way to Joshua Tree or in need of a break from the #poollife of Palm Springs, head to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Cactus Mart, the Cabazon Dinosaurs, and Hadley’s for a quick day trip.


in Adventure, Blog Friends, California, Hiking, Microadventure, Weekend

As part of my Year of Go, I headed out on a “Galentine’s Weekend” camping trip with some friends from the internet to spend some time exploring the Sand to Snow National Monument, get to know each other better, and discuss some of the topics floating around the outdoor world lately. By the end of the weekend, we dubbed our outing the Feral Female Weekend…and we already have another one tentatively planned for next month!

Feral Female Weekend - Kam of Campfire Chic photo by Paulina Dao Little Grunts

Photo by Paulina Dao (Little Grunts)

I picked up Paulina (Little Grunts) up from the airport Friday evening and we cruised out to Mission Creek Preserve to meet Shawnté (contributing writer to Modern Hiker, among other awesome things) and Oshie (Hike.Eat.Camp.Repeat) for our weekend adventure. Our original plans included us sleeping at the trailhead Friday night and then backpacking for a night on the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather was a little iffy and we wanted the opportunity to visit a few places in the area so we decided to base camp in the preserve and spend our days hiking and hanging out.

Mission Creek Preserve California Hiking Along Pacific Crest Trail - Campfire Chic

After a leisurely morning around the nearly empty campground, we hit the trail. This area is part of the Sand to Snow National Monument, which was established almost exactly one year before our trip. It was a nice way to celebrate these public lands. Southern California has seen a very wet winter so far and everything was green! If you’re from a naturally green place, you may not appreciate the excitement we felt, but other Southern Californians know exactly how we felt as we made our way from the preserve to the Pacific Crest Trail in search of views of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto peaks.

Mission Creek Preserve - Pacific Crest Trail Campfire Chic

Feral Female Weekend - Kam of Campfire Chic in Sand to Snow National Monument - Campfire Chic

For not being very active over the last few months, I felt great on this hike. It was really nice to stretch my legs after sleeping in the back of my car all night with Paulina. If you are familiar with the drive from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs, you know that there are wind farms in this area, and for good reason! Once we got to the ridgeline, we felt the breeze and I needed to put on my rain jacket to keep warm.

We stopped for lunch after a few miles. We split snacks and shared what our go-to meals are when we’re hiking. I haven’t done the long distance hiking Shawnté and Oshie have done, but I do know the importance of lightweight yet delicious food when you’re outdoors.

Feral Female Weekend - Diversity Outdoors with Kam of Campfire Chic

Photo by Paulina Dao (Little Grunts)

Throughout the weekend, we talked about being a woman outdoors, diversity on the trail and in outdoor media, balancing work with getting outside, and making friends on the internet. It was great to be able to joke about things with these women that our work friends may not understand.

We also made sure to try and take a ton of photos so we can remember the fun we had over the weekend.
Feral Female Weekend in Mission Creek Preserve Stone House Community Room - Campfire Chic

Our campground at Mission Creek Preserve has a big stone building that is open for the campers and day use picnickers to hang out in if the weather is bad or if they want to learn more about the preserve and surrounding areas. You are not allowed to sleep in here overnight, so don’t get any ideas! There is also no light in the building, so if you want to hang out in here at night (like we did) be sure to have some lanterns handy.

When we made it back to camp, we set up shop in the stone house and played a bunch of games, had a little happy hour, and made friends with a Girl Scout who gave up a weekend selling cookies to camp with her dad. How cool is that? We played mancala, Bananagrams, and Yahtzee. We used the room as our base for the evening, so we warmed up dinner (thank you, Paulina, for sharing!) and relaxed.

The next day, we had a relaxed morning and Oshie made sure we all went home with some printed photos from our adventure. The Girl Scout from the night before was very patient with us as we posed for photos.

Feral Female Weekend - Campfire Chic

Photo by Paulina Dao (Little Grunts)

Shawnté is more familiar with the area than the rest of us and she gave us a few options for how we could spend the day before needing to drop Paulina off at the airport. We ended up going hiking in another area closer to Joshua Tree and making the very wise choice to make a detour after at Cactus Mart for fry bread tacos and some shopping. The food was so good and we devoured everything before I could take a photo! Cactus Mart is really cool and I hope to make it a regular stop on our way to and from Joshua Tree. There are two cats who live on site and they are both very charming mascots. I picked up some coffee beans and a candle that I cannot get enough of while we were there but I know I’ll be getting some plants on my next trip out there!

Like I hinted at earlier, I think another Feral Female Weekend is in the works! Stay tuned.

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in Active, Adventure, Blog Friends, California, Camping, Hiking, Microadventure, Other

I cannot believe it’s already that time again…time for 30 Days of Lists!

If you are not already familiar: I co-host a creative journaling challenge three times a year called 30 Days of Lists. It is a list-based creative challenge that encourages you to carve some time out of your busy schedule for yourself…it doesn’t take a long time to write a list and what’s even better is that there is no wrong way to make a list!

The next edition of 30 Days of Lists starts March 1, 2017, and registration is now open. 

With your $10 registration, you get:

  • a full-color registration PDF outlining everything you need to know about the challenge
  • access to the private Facebook group specifically for March’s challenge so you can share your lists with a community who wants to support you
  • access to the private blog where we post the daily list prompts (30 list prompts over a 30 day period), talk about everyday creativity, hear from our ambassador team, and maybe a giveaway or two
  • free printables for your listing needs. Our ambassadors put together some great digital goodies for you to print out and use in your list book this time around (I know I’m looking forward to including them in my list book)
  • daily inspiration and gentle reminders to take time for yourself

We started this challenge in March 2011 and love how the community continues to grow. We would love for you to join us for March!

Click here to learn more about 30 Days of Lists and to register for March


in 30 Days of Lists

The Habit of Being Creative - Kam of Campfire Chic

Get into the Habit of Being Creative

I went to one of those paint your own pottery studios a few weeks ago with two girlfriends to catch up after work. We wanted to do something different than the usual happy hour/coffee run and the suggestion of spending a few hours together while we painted sounded like a great idea.

We are fairly creative people (Chelsea does amazing modern calligraphy) but it still took us a while to decide on what to paint and to narrow down the colors we wanted to use on our projects (I settled on a yarn bowl and stuck with blues and greens). As we chatted we paused every so often to make a comment on not really knowing what to do next or if we should try a different style, and it got me to thinking: What if we weren’t already in the habit of creating things? Would this process take even more time? Would we even know where to start?

I co-host a creative journaling challenge three times a year called 30 Days of Lists. Without fail, my co-host and I see comments online from women who wish they were “more creative” so they could join in on the fun. We send positive notes their way to remind them that this isn’t a challenge to be the most creative person to ever write a list — it’s our challenge to take a few minutes for yourself each day. If you want it to be a super creative project and use an art journal to house your lists, great! If you want to write your lists in an app on your phone while you’re in line at the store, go for it!

We strongly believe that the act of creating is creative and there is no wrong way to make a list.

My challenge to you to is to get into the habit of being creative.

This isn’t about forming one specific habit that you’ll continue to do until the end of time.

This is about forming the habit of being creative and trying new things.

Start a just-for-you project

You do not have to share every creative project you make with the Internet. It’s also not selfish to make things for yourself or just because you want to try something new. This could be something that takes an evening or something you work on over a long period. Maybe your just-for-you project is starting a dream or gratitude journal. Maybe you make a mini scrapbook all about you or a quick Time Book to document your right now. Whatever it is, don’t make it with the intent of sharing it with anybody else, this is all about you taking the time to make something.

Make something for a friend or family member

As I started to brainstorm examples for this section, each bullet point involved food…bake something for a friend who could use some extra attention, make some treats for your coworkers, pack a snack in your partner’s work bag! I was thinking of things that may be fun (and tasty) to make for somebody else that may be less scary to give than something else handmade like this scrapbook I made for a girlfriend documenting our friend-cation in Portland. Of course, I was nervous about giving it to her! What if she didn’t like it? What if she just threw it away? I decided the process of creating the scrapbook was intrinsically valuable to me and what she did with it after I gave it to her was her business, not mine.

Other fun creative projects include making a cute terrarium of fake succulents for your coworker’s desk, a fun mini scrapbook about reasons why you love your fur baby, or even handmade cards that you can use throughout the year to send to friends and family you don’t get to see as often as you’d like.

Switch up your routine

Being creative doesn’t always have to include paper and scissors. Even switching up your routine to keep things fresh can help you feel like you’re more outside the box than before and encourage you to be creative in other ways. For example, you could add some speed play to your running schedule to break up the routine of long runs as you train for a half marathon. Instead of jumping on the couch and settling into whatever show you’re binge-watching right when you get home from work, take a few minutes to put your shoes away, grab some water and light a candle (even a seasonably inappropriate one if it makes you happy!) to set a relaxing mood. You may find yourself trying new things!

And about those lists, I mentioned earlier: we will be opening registration for the March edition of 30 Days of Lists soon. Subscribe to our mailing list to be one of the first to know when we get started, get the motivation to be creative in your everyday life, and be inspired by our fantastic creative team.

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in Inspiration, Productivity, Self Help

Why We Climb by Chris Noble and Forward by Conrad Anker Book Review by Kam of Campfire Chic

Why We Climb: The World’s Most Inspiring Climbers Book Review

I am reading Why We Climb: The World’s Most Inspiring Climbers by Chris Noble and forward by Conrad Anker. I have been in a climbing slump for a few months and when I was pitched to review this new book, I hoped it would help inspire me to get back to the gym and have some fun. I wasn’t expecting to get that spark during Chris’ introduction of the book, where he writes:

If you’re not a climber, be forewarned. If you choose to climb, everything will change. Your entire attitude toward life will shift. Where others drift aimlessly, you will move with purpose. Where others seek comfort and security, you will seek the opportunities that can only be found in challenge and adversity. You’ll learn to set lofty goals, then attain them, or fail heroically in the attempt. 

Book Review - Why We Climb by Chris Noble and Forward by Conrad Anker by Kam of Campfire Chic

You should know that Chris Noble is an amazing photographer and great writer. He wrote Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers and has his work featured in National Geographic, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated in addition to more outdoor-specific publications like Rock & Ice, Adventure Journal, and Alpinist. He’s the real deal.

What is great about this book is that it tackles the question new climbers and seasoned veterans get on a regular basis: WHY?

Why do you go out into the desert and climb those giant boulders? Why do you leave your gear in the van and attempt to climb these massive walls without any safety? Why do you spend money on a specialty gym that also hosts kids birthday parties? Why do you do something that rips up your skin and leaves you with cuts and bruises? Why do you do something you know is dangerous? Why do you do it?

Book Review - Why We Climb by Chris Noble by Kam of Campfire Chic

I love that Chris includes young climbers, older icons, women who crush, and international names in this book. A few of the names are new to me and I love that I am able to learn about them before I dive into following them on Instagram and seeing their inspiring posts on a daily basis. Getting that background information on how much they love this sport and lifestyle and aren’t just in it for the photo likes is inspiring.

If you’re looking for a book that gets deep into climbing, this may not be for you. This book is set up to be like short interviews with the different climbers, so the entries are not more than a few pages long. For example, if you want to learn a lot about Alex Honnold, you may be better off buying one of his books. The

Buy this book (in paperback or on Kindle) for those days you’re not able to head to the crag due to rain and buy this for your friend who wants to start climbing but is intimidated by the gym junkies at the climbing center. I imagine this would be a popular book to have around your local climbing gym, so when you’re done reading it, drop it off!

Buy your copy of Why We Climb: The World’s Most Inspiring Climbers by Chris Noble on Amazon

This book was provided to me for possible review by the publishers. Like other reviews on the site, I emphasized possible review because I don’t want to share anything with you that I don’t think will be helpful or worth your while. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. The links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, shopping through these links may result in a small commission for me at no extra cost for you. If you do not wish to use affiliate links, simple copy the title of the book you’re looking for in your favorite search engine and shop away. Thank you.


in Books, Climbing, Review