"If you crave adventure, love the outdoors and welcome a challenge, then this is the experience for you! Through the Trailblaze Challenge, you will challenge yourself, meet new friends and make a difference in the lives of children battling critical illnesses."
We are proud to announce we are a community partner for Make a Wish’s Trailblaze Challenge San Diego! Not only are they raising money for a worth cause, they are changing the participants lives through the power of hiking! This is something we can definitely stand behind.
WHAT IS THE TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE?
Designed as a one-day endurance event, the Trailblaze Challenge gives participants the opportunity to hike 28 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail in picturesque Big Bear, California. In addition to hiking, participants raise much needed funds to grant the wishes of children in San Diego. This is a hike, not a race, and caters to all levels from novice to advanced outdoor enthusiasts.
2020 Hike Weekends: May 15–17 (Hike Day Saturday, May 16) and May 29–May 31 (Hike Day Saturday, May 30).
ABOUT THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a treasured pathway through some of the most outstanding scenic terrain in the United States. The famous hiking trail spans 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometers) from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. It reveals the beauty of the desert, unfolds the glaciated expanses of the Sierra Nevada, travels deep forests, and provides commanding vistas of volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range. Wildlife sightings can be common, and hikers will love the challenge of this beautiful trail.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE HIKE EXPERIENCE?
•Specialized training program including a workout calendar and weekly group hikes
•Training Clinics – topics include hiking boots, socks & other trail essentials, hydration, nutrition & cross training
•Support and coaching from experienced Trailblaze Hike Leaders and Make-A-Wish staff
•Hotel Accommodations on Hike Weekend at The Lodge at Big Bear Lake, a Holiday Inn Resort (3-days/2-nights)
•Trailblaze Challenge duo-dry shirt for Hike Weekend
•Transportation to and from the trail on Hike Day
•Friday night Pasta Party to carbo-load before the big day
•Trail support at multiple locations throughout your journey, including hydration, snacks, first aid and encouragement
•Saturday evening post-hike celebration to share trail stories
•Sunday post-hike Victory Recognition Breakfast before heading home
IS THERE A FEE TO PARTICIPATE?
Each Trailblazer will be asked to raise a minimum amount of funds to cover their expenses and to help Make-A-Wish
continue its mission to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. A non-refundable $100 donation is required at the time of registration and will be credited toward your fundraising goal.
HOW WILL I REACH MY GOALS?
Make-A-Wish will support hike participants each step of the way by providing each participant with a personalized fundraising webpage, as well as sponsorship and fundraising materials, tips and advice. Each Trailblazer will be provided with a specialized training program and will be invited to attend weekly group training sessions and informal meet-ups.
JOIN THE CHALLENGE
If you’re ever in the Las Vegas, NV area and have a full day to explore, we highly recommend checking out Valley of Fire State Park. A short 60-minute drive from the strip, Valley of Fire State Park is a perfect day hiking trip while in Vegas. Most of the trails are fairly short, so you are able to hike multiple trails in one day and see most of what the park has to offer. We recommend hiking this area October-April as it is really hot in the summer months.
The park has a host of unique attractions including the fire wave, a brightly colored Aztec sandstone formation, ancient petrified trees, 2,000-year-old petroglyphs, and unique rock formations. There are also campsites in the park so if you want to spend more than a day, that is an option as well. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and there is a $10 entrance fee. Camping is $20.00 per night + $10.00 for sites with utility hook ups and are available only on a first-come, first-served basis. The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On our last trip to the park, we spent the day hiking the Fire Wave Trail, Mouse’s Tank Trail, Pinnacles Loop Trail, Rainbow Vista Trail, and Elephant Rock Loop. We also made stops at the Petrified Logs, Atlatl Rock, Clark Memorial, and the cabins. Although it was a packed day, we had plenty of time to enjoy all of it!
Fire Wave Trail
Our favorite trail in the park was the Fire Wave Trail, although short and easy (1.5 miles round-trip with 175 feet of gain) it ends at a spectacular bright red sandstone formation. The beauty of it took our breath away.
Mouse's Tank Trail
After starting the day with the Fire Wave we though there would be no way the other trails in the park would be as spectacular. We were not disappointed. The Mouse's Tank Trail to Petroglyph Canyon is also a short .75 round trip hike with very little elevation gain that ends at a natural water tank. There are also petrogyphs. Thousands of them. We literally spent over an hour looking at the amazing 2,000 year old carvings that have been well preserved on the steep walls of the canyon. Suns and bighorn sheep and native dancers carved into the wall tell a story of the people long past. It was beautiful and moving to see such an amazing piece of history.
Pinnacles Loop Trail & Atlatl Rock
We had an inside tip to hike the Pinnacles Loop Trail because of the solitude we would find being it is a longer hike and not very popular. We took a chance and found a real gem of a trail. We didn’t see one other person the entire time. The trail starts on the opposite side of the road from Atlatl Rock and heads up a wash. At the end of the wash, you’ll end at a beautiful rock formation, the pinnacles, and looking back, a great view of the park. If you hike and out and back, it’s 4 miles round trip. If you do the whole loop, it’s 7 miles.
Rainbow Vista Trail
A short 1.5 mile round trip trail that meanders through colorful rocks and ends at an overlook. It is a stunning view with stunning colors of pink, red, crimson, salmon, set against sage green brush.
Elephant Rock Loop
Probably one of the most photographed rock formations in the park (mostly because of its proximity next to the main road), elephant rock really looks like an elephant. It is a short 1.5 mile loop hike that takes you to the backside of elephant rock. If you’re looking to grab a photo of it, this is the trail to take to get it.
We also made our stops at the Clark Memorial, the Petrified Log, and the Cabins- and had to get our photo at the Welcome sign! All in all, this is a beautiful park to visit.
Visit the state park website here for more information:
I am so lucky to have a network of beautiful trails I can walk to from my home. They are my “go to” trails when I need to stay close or don’t have a ton of time. As beautiful as they are, I sometimes find myself a little bored of seeing the same sights over and over since I have hiked the trails hundreds of times. So I invented a few ways to keep my hikes interesting.
1. Go for a sunrise hike.
Sunrise for me is by far the best tome of day. It is so magical, the air is so fresh, and I love watching nature wake up. This is also the time I see the most wild animals as there is usually nobody else on the trail.
2. Notice the changes of the different seasons.
The scenery changes with the seasons. I try to be conscious and acknowledge the changes. I admire the golden leaves of the Fall, the stark ruggedness of winter, the softness and colors of spring, and the warm sunshine of summer.
3. Take different routes.
Although I can access the trails from my home, I will sometimes drive to other trailheads and take a different route than my “normal” hike. It allows me to see the trail from a different perspective and I usually find something I haven’t noticed before.
4. Invite someone who hasn’t hiked your trail yet.
I love showing off my favorite trail to friends that haven’t hiked it before. I feel so blessed to have it so close and want to share it. I love talking about the history and the different plants and trees. It revives my love for it.
5. Hike when it’s raining!
of course this will only work on a trail that can be hiked in the rain without causing trail damage but it’s so much fun! I actually look forward to the rain so I can get to my trail. It’s invigorating and feels primal to me. Plus it s great way to test any gear that you need to test on a trail you know.
Hallelujah! We received our first snow storm of the season and we can’t be happier. But before we even were able to slide our snow shoes into the fresh white powder, we were already seeing posts online of hikers that are ill prepared and under skilled to be attempting to hike in the snow. We get it, snow in SoCal is exciting, and we all want to experience it, especially when we see all the posts of others doing it with huge smiles on their faces. It took us many years and tons of experience (including climbing mountains like Mount Shasta to gain mountaineering experience) to be able to say we have the skills and knowledge to be able to hike in the snow safely. While we think it is one of the best things one can do in life, we also are saddened every winter by the amount of people that do not take it seriously and are injured or killed in the mountains.
Snow Hiking ≠ Hiking
Snow hiking does not equal hiking. Hiking in the snow presents lots of additional challenges and dangers that regular hiking does not. It is a skill that must be learned and sharpened with experience and extensive knowledge. Do you have the right equipment and know what to bring for the current conditions? Have you been trained in how to use that equipment? Do you know how to read a detailed weather forecast that includes the different elevations you will be hiking to? Do you have extensive off trail navigation skills with a compass and a map? Are you carrying enough gear and are prepared to spend the night in below freezing conditions if something goes awry? Can you physically sit/lay in the snow and stay warm/dry with the gear you have with you until help arrives if you get hurt? Do you know where it is safe to hike and how to avoid avalanche areas? Do you have the physical stamina to get you back to your car as hiking in the snow requires more physical effort?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before heading out into the white wilderness. We put together a list of some of the very basics to think about in addition to the questions above. We want you to have that same magical experience we do every time we hit the snow, but also want you to get back safe so you can share all your photos with us!
There is so much more on this subject than we could ever cover in a blog post but hope this will get you started to at least think about what is truly needed to venture out into the snow. As always, let someone you trust know where you are going and when to expect you back and most of all have fun!
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just six weeks away! If you’re anything like us, we have not even started our Christmas shopping yet. But when we do, we definitely intend to purchase gifts that are conscious of the planet and the people that live on it. We put together a list of eight of our favorite conscious gift ideas for the hiker in your life.
1. Kula Cloth
We talk a lot about the Kula Cloth, the first intentionally designed pee cloth, here at Hike It Off. It’s such a genius piece of gear that is the best solution we have found for reducing toilet paper on the trails, we can’t help but want to share it with everyone. And at $20, it is a perfect and inexpensive gift for the eco conscious hiker in your life! Get yours here:
Patagonia’s mission statement says it all- “We’re in business to save our home planet”. This is something they definitely live up to it. They have many ways they are contributing to a better earth including their Worn Wear program, using renewable and recycled materials, fair trade certified, using 100% organic cotton, providing a living wage to employees, and so much more. They also donate part of their profits to support activism groups they feel are doing good for the planet. When you purchase a gift from Patagonia, you are directly supporting them to help save the planet.
Mariveles 32L Duffel Bag $40 - Del Día is made from 100% remnant materials that could have gone to a landfill. Instead these materials are made into one of a kind packs that are simple to use and work well for quick trips.
4. Hydro Flask
We love everything about Hydro Flask. We love all the different types of vessels they make-, water, beer, wine, food, coffee and all the fun colors you can get in each style. Most of all, we love that by using a Hydro Flask you are helping to minimize using disposable plastic bottles that end up in our oceans and landfills. Since 2017, Hydro Flask also has donated $838,000 to 63 different nonprofits including Appalachian Trail Conservancy & Latino Outdoors through their “For the Love of Parks” grant program.
Prana’s sustainability movement respects the planet and its people. “From the fields where our organic cotton and hemp are grown, to the beaches where plastic bottles are harvested, to the chemicals that need to be managed upstream, to the safety and well-being of the people assembling our clothing, there is a rich and inspiring story built into each and every piece we create.” Not only was Prana the first North American apparel brand to produce Fair Trade Certified™ clothing, they have given back $400,000+ to 33,000+ workers worldwide. By buying a gift from Prana, not only are you supporting sustainability, but the fair treatment of workers around the globe.
6. All Good
Just like the name of the company, the products are all good for you and the planet. The company is ran on solar, makes reef friendly sunscreens, use organic ingredients, are cruelty free, oppose the use of GMO products, use recycled packaging, and donate to 1% for the planet. Plus, their products are just really amazing! They offer amazing gift sets, like the All Good All Starts set which includes their first picks.
We received our first Nomadix towel in our Cairn box over the summer. Since then we have used it backpacking, at the beach, and on day hikes. It is a multi-functional towel that works well. The best part is it is made from certified post-consumer bottles! Nomadix also donates to 1% for the planet and wants their customers to purchase only long-lasting, environmentally-friendly products that they can use for more than one activity.
8. Donation to Their Favorite Non-Profit
Maybe you’re shopping for someone who already has everything? Or someone who feels giving is important? You can make a donation in their name to one of the many non-profits dedicated to preserving our earth. Some ideas would be:
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Sierra Club Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
I seriously LOVE Mt. Charleston! I finally made it up to the mountain a couple weeks ago for a solo day hike and chose to hike up to Griffith Peak, the 3rd highest peak in Nevada at 11,054ft. The hike was 10.5 miles (from the lower parking lot including a side trip to the spring) with about 3,500ft elevation gain. I really, really, enjoyed everything about this trail. It is well maintained, and climbs up skinny switchbacks with some serious views. It felt rugged and the solitude was incredible (I only saw 4 hikers all day)!
The Fall colors were in their peak, and the entire trail looked like it was dipped in gold. From Aspens to Goldenrod, everywhere I looked shimmered in beautiful hues of oranges, yellows, and gold. It was just stunning, especially set against the sheer white walls of the rocky canyon.
Once on the peak, there was a 360 degree view, including nice views of Vegas, Mummy Mountain, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and the other local mountains. The day I went was very windy (40-50 mph gusts) on the peak and very cold (below freezing) so I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked on top to explore. There are lots of fossils in the rocks on the trail that remained from thousands of years ago when the area was covered by a shallow sea, with a high concentration of them on the peak. I was able to find and take pictures of a few on the peak but wonder what I may have missed up there.
I can't wait to get back to Mt. Charleston and explore some more of the trails, including hiking to Mt. Charleston peak at just under 12,000 feet! I used this trail description and a map for the hike:
I was so excited to do this review of Purple Rain Adventure Skirts! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love this brand (so my review may be a little biased 😊). These skirts are just so comfortable, well thought out, and functional it would be hard to find anything you don’t like about them. Plus they are handmade by Mandy Bland in Oregon so there is an added bonus of supporting a woman owned small business when you purchase one. Literally these skirts are a win/win!
For me, I love how they are designed. The waistband is similar to the top of most yoga pants- stretchy, soft, and super comfortable. It is woven with moisture wicking yarn to keep you dry and cool. It does have UV Protection of 40+ and is 90% Poly 10% Spandex. The skirts have functional pockets on each side that are large and sturdy enough to really hold stuff (my iPhone fits perfect in them). The skirt itself is super lightweight and durable. The first one I purchased years ago still looks brand new. It is made from 88% Polyester and 12% Spandex blend with a DWR finish. The skirts come in sizes XS-XXL and Mandy can also create a custom skirt via the custom order option if you would like a hiking skirt made to your specific measurements. This includes extended sizing and shorter/longer skirt length. There is also a kilt version designed for men as well.
I love how they feel when you wear them- completely unrestricted with good air flow. There are no sewn in undershorts so you have the freedom to wear whatever is most comfortable to you under them. They are perfect for a warm summer hike as they do not make you hot. When it is cooler outside, they fit perfectly with your favorite pair of leggings underneath. These skirts are also a great option for travel as they fold down to almost nothing so they are super easy to pack. They are cute enough to wear on or off the trail so they are multi-functional in where you can wear them.
Mandy wants to do her part in lessening the chemicals in many synthetic materials, especially when we are most active. She is currently working on finding more sustainable fabrics and is testing a new fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. She is hoping to move this material into the standard black skirt within a year. The current purple skirt is OEKO-TEX (worldwide recognized testing certification to prove it is made without harmful chemical) certified fabric.
You can get your own skirt here: http://www.purplerainskirts.com/
Follow Purple Rain Adventures on Facebook & Instagram
We hope that you all know how much we love hiking by now and seriously have found so much joy in sharing our adventures with you!
So for fun, we created a list of random facts about us so you can see we are not only just a couple of crazy hikers!
To start, we have been married for 16 years and met 18 years ago in the mosh pit at a Social Distortion concert. We were a couple of surfers living at the beach and it was love at first sight! Since then, we have had so many adventures and now live in a small rural town in North San Diego with our dog, Phurba, and have a horse named Jake. If we are not hiking or backpacking, you can find us watching live music, hanging with friends, or at the beach. We both follow a plant-based diet and try to be the best version of ourselves everyday.
We backpacked Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon NP the end of September. It is in our top three places in the Sierra so far! It was absolutely stunning! If you'd like to see the route we took, check out Scott Turner's write up over at Modern Hiker:
We got lucky with perfect weather, but understood taking the trip that late in the season was risky, and were prepared for weather including snow if needed. Luckily the weather was perfect! Enjoy the photos!
Hiking for me is a form of meditation in itself but it is also the perfect time to meditate. The beauty, peacefulness, and solitude I find allow me to let go of the normal brain chatter and become one with nature. I am able to reconnect with my higher self, raise my vibe, and re-charge after my normal day to day experiences that can drain me. It’s a time I receive so many ideas and feel my creativity surge. It truly is magic and healing for my mind and soul.
While there are many ways to meditate, here are my tips for a simple meditation that works best for me while I’m on the trail:
1. Set your intention. Before you head out on the trail, set an intention that you would like to let your mind be free of its chatter and connect with nature so you can absorb its healing and reconnect with your higher self.
2. Pick a time in the day that is magical for you. For me, sunrise on the trail is so special and is the best time for me to meditate.
3. Find a spot that calls to you and you won’t be disturbed by lots of people walking by. Maybe it’s your favorite smooth rock next to a stream or a spot with a gorgeous view. Take a seat, cross legged if you can, back straight (not tense), hands on knees with palms facing up. Try to sit as comfortable as possible. Let go of any tension in your body including your forehead, jaw, and neck. Close your eyes.
4. Start by focusing on your breath. Don’t try to force your breath, just let it come naturally.
Gradually, try to take slower and deeper breaths and notice how your belly fills with air, your shoulders move when you exhale, and how your ribs inflate and deflate with each breath. Try to make your exhale the same or longer than your inhale. If your mind wanders, bring the focus back to your breath.
5. Do this for 5 minutes to start and increase your time as you get more comfortable. If you lose focus, don’t beat yourself up, meditation is a practice and it takes time to develop it.
6. Once you’re done, open your eyes, stand up, and stretch. I usually end my meditations with gratitude for three things I am thankful for at that moment.
You can also use a guided meditation instead of this simple breathing meditation. There are guided meditations for everything you can think of- anxiety, manifesting, energy, sleep, etc. My favorite guided meditation resource is the Insight Timer app. It’s free and amazing!
With Love & Gratitude,