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,
We just got back from a short 3 day/ 2-night backpacking trip to Anona and Superior Lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness outside of Mammoth Lakes, CA. It is so beautiful, and there are a ton of easily accessible trails within minutes of Mammoth Lakes so we wanted to share with you some of our favorites.
Devils Postpile Loop
1.4 Miles (Out & Back)
215 Elevation Gain
Devils Postpile Trailhead
This 1.4 mile out and back hike features a unique rock formation made of Columnar Basalt that towers 60 feet above the ground. 82,000 years ago, a particular type of lava that was ideal for making column flowed in the area. As the lava slowly cooled, it contracted and split into vertical columns that are symmetrical and have a hexagon shape (so cool!). Then between 12,000-20,000 years ago a glacier flowed down the river next to the monument and the ice carved away the West side of the postpile and exposed the sheer wall of columns we see today. From the trailhead, it is a 1 mile out and back hike to the base of the monument with 40 feet of elevation change and you add in an additional .4 mile with 75 extra feet of elevation gain by hiking to the top of the monument.
Get maps, shuttle times, park fees and more here:
Rainbow Falls and Red’s Meadow via Devils Postpile National Monument
6 Miles (w/Shuttle Back) or 10 Miles Out & Back
550 feet Elevation Gain
Devils Postpile Trailhead
After seeing the Devils Postpile, head down the trail that descends the postpile to the South. You will see a trail junction with a sign- follow the trail that is marked Rainbow Falls. After a couple miles, you will reach another junction at the John Muir Wilderness boundary and follow the sign again to Rainbow Falls. Pretty soon you will hear the falls and when they come into view, they are magnificent. Spend some time exploring this area including lower falls. When you’re ready to head out, take the trail to Minaret Rd. and out to Red’s Meadow to enjoy lunch. Catch the shuttle back to Devils Postpile trailhead.
Casey over at Modern Hiker has an awesome and detailed write up here:
Mammoth Rock Trail
6.2 Miles (Loop)
800 Elevation Gain
Mammoth Creek Park Trailhead
This fun hike is part of an amazing trail system in Mammoth Lakes that starts in the valley and travels through a flat section where you will see some gorgeous Aspens. Once you reach the rockslide area, the trail heads up to the base of the iconic Mammoth Rock, a notable landmark for the Mammoth area. Its composition of marble and limestone give it a beautiful white glow in stark contrast to the dark lava formations surrounding it. Over the years, the rock attracted miners who mined areas near the rock. Remnants of the mines can still be seen today, including a stamp mill that is near the trailhead on Old Mammoth Road.
For directions, maps, and more information, visit:
Barney Lake Trail
5.4 Miles (Out & Back)
1,200 Elevation Gain
Duck Pass Trailhead
A beautiful hike that has amazing views, lots of trees and water. It is a perfect trail if you want the feeling of getting out there but without a ton of miles or elevation gain. You can extend this hike and go up Duck Pass for an extra thrill (see description below).
For directions, maps, and more information, visit:
Duck Lake via Duck Pass
10.2 Miles (Out & Back)
3,300 Elevation Gain
Duck Pass Trailhead
We love everything about this trail! Trees, emerald green lakes, rugged pass that feels so high Sierra, and just enough mileage and elevation gain to feel like you got a terrific workout! And the views 😊 It is definitely a hike to plan when you’re in the area.
For directions, maps, and more information, visit:
Or check out Shawnté Salabert’s write up at Modern Hiker!
Devils Postpile to Fern Lake to Anona Lake
12 Miles (Out & Back)
2,700 Elevation Gain
Devils Postpile Trailhead
Visit Anona Lake at just under 9,300’. Framed by Iron Mountain, the Southern most section of Ritter Range, make for a dramatic and gorgeous background for the lake. Test your route-finding skills, as the trail from Fern Lake up to Anona Lake is hardly used and becomes hard to follow in places. After passing Fern Lake, you probably won’t see too many other hikers so if you’re looking for some solitude in a beautiful setting Anona Lake is a perfect option for a long day hike.
For directions, maps, and more information, visit:
We seriously LOVE Cairn’s monthly subscription boxes! I surprised Tony with a subscription for Valentine’s Day over four years ago and we look forward to them every month. We actually have an agreement that we have to wait to open it when we’re together because we have so much fun seeing what comes wrapped up in that little brown box. A huge amount of the gear we’ve received has been highly useful, and we use many pieces of it on every day hike, backpacking trip, or both.
So, what is a Cairn subscription box? Basically, it’s a monthly subscription that we pay $29.99 a month for and receive a box with hiking related gear worth up to $50 in each box. Every month it is a surprise as to what the gear will be. The products in each box are always full-size (no samples), expertly curated and tested, and never an overstock or last season item. It’s always full of super legit stuff! We’ve found so many new products and companies that we may have never found without the subscription.
While we subscribe to the monthly collection, Cairn does offer a “premium” box, their Obsidian Collection. The Obsidian Collection is $249.95 every quarter and has up to 10 curated items in each box valuing up to $300. We cannot vouch for what comes in this box, but maybe someday we will upgrade to it and see.
Another thing we love about Cairn is that they donate to the Conservation Alliance with their Gear Up and Give Back ™program. They will mail you a bag free of charge to send any of your unwanted used gear and/or clothing from high quality outdoor brands to The Gear Fix who will repair your equipment, sell it in their shop, and the net proceeds will be matched by Cairn and Gear Fix, and donated to The Conservation Alliance.
We love that this little gift we give ourselves every month inspires us to get outside and try out the new stuff we received. The Cairn box subscription also makes an amazing gift for the hiker in your life and can be easily gifted for 1-12 months. So to show you what an average box looks like, we went live and opened our July shipment while hiking. We were actually able to use the items that came in the box on our hike!
To sign up for the monthly subscription box or the Obsidian Collection click here:
July Shipment- Eco Conscious Theme
Nomandix Eco Friendly Pack Towel
I actually was planning on buying a larger pack towel for my upcoming Sierra backpacking trip and then this amazing towel came in the box! It’s a bit heavy for backpacking, but our route is moderate so I am going to consider it a “luxury item” so it’s coming with me. This towel is made using certified post-consumer plastic bottles. Nomandix National Park Smokey Mountain pack towel is a top of the line yoga towel, beach towel, pool towel, and pack towel when you go camping or travel. They designed it to be versatile without sacrificing performance, so you can own less and do more.
Product specs are:
You can purchase the towel on its own for $39.95 here:
Ecovessel Stainless Steel Set of 4 Reusable Straws with Silicone Tips and Cleaning Brush
According to Ecovessel, did you know that Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day? To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. We know the small size of the straws makes them harmful to the environment – they’re too small to go through most recycling equipment, so most end up in the oceans which can poison or injure fish and marine animals. Tiny pieces, called microplastics, become food for fish which end up on our dinner plates. The EcoVessel stainless steel 4 pack reusable straw set with soft silicone tips are a great alternative to wasteful single-use plastic straws. The straws are wide enough for smoothies and thicker beverages while being narrow enough to fit all of their tumbler lids. The included straw cleaner will ensure your straws stay clean and the silicone tips are soft and colorful. Product Specs are:
You can purchase the straw set on its own for $9.95 here:
All Good SPF 50+ Tinted Zinc Sunscreen Butter
I was so excited when I pulled this tin out of the box! All Good is one of my all-time favorite brands ever! They’re products are organic, high quality, smell delicious, and this sunscreen is reef friendly (oxybenzone free) so it won’t damage reefs when you wear it in the water like most sunscreens. I also adore that this company is woman founded (Caroline started it in her kitchen) and mostly women run. They care deeply about the environment, and run their production facility on solar power, use organic, high quality, cruelty free and reef friendly ingredients, oppose the use of GMO’s, use recycled and recyclable packaging, shipping and printed material, and give back 1% of sales to the planet. Plus they are super high vibe and you can tell they love what they do.
The Tinted Sunscreen Butter SPF 50 formula is a compact, reef friendly sunscreen tin that provides maximum UVA/UVB protection and it’s smooth, creamy texture applies effortlessly on the skin with a neutral tint coverage for most skin tones. Product specs are:
You can purchase your tin on its own for $10.99 here:
As you can see this shipment had some amazing products worth $60.89 and we will use very single one of them!
To sign up for the monthly subscription box or the Obsidian Collection click here: https://www.getcairn.com/collections/subscribe
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When it heats up here in Southern California, we head to the beach! One of our favorite summer hikes is on the trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Known as one of only two places our nation's rarest pine, the Torrey Pine or Pinus Torreyana grows, the park boasts 2,000 acres of a fragile and unique coastal environment. In addition to the park preserving the Torrey Pine, it also preserves one of the last salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in Southern California. The reserve has multiple trail options ranging from easy to moderate, but all the trails have amazing views of the Pacific ocean. Trail features include steep and dramatic cliffs, stunning views of the ocean, twisted pine trees, and an Adobe visitor center that was built in 1923. Flowers are abundant in the Spring, and you might sight an Osprey if you're lucky.
Torrey Pines State Beach lies below the Reserve and is accessible by trail. Our favorite route is to head up to the Reserve first and explore all the trails before descending down to the beach for some relaxing in the soft sand. These trails are very popular and are packed in the summertime, especially on weekends. If you're looking for a more solitary experience, go in the off season and during the week. It is a different kind of beauty in the wintertime (although trails may close if it is raining to preserve them).
Make sure to pack water and sunscreen. No food is allowed in the reserve so plan to have your snacks before or after your hike. Enjoy your hike and don't forget to practice Leave No Trace on all trails.
12600 N. Torrey Pines Road
San Diego, CA 92037
Operating Hours: Gates open at 07:15 am and close at Sunset.
The Visitor Center opens daily at 9:00AM.
The reserve is a day-use park only. There is no overnight camping at this facility.
General Admission Day Use fee is $10-$25 per vehicle (demand based pricing) or a valid annual California State Parks Vehicle Day Use Pass. Camping is not permitted at Torrey Pines. Pay at the Automated Pay Machine located near the entrance or west end of the parking lot if no staff person is in the kiosk.
Winter Weekdays: Hourly rates are available at North Beach lot.
Note: Recreational vehicles longer than a standard parking spot are allowed only in the North Beach lot.