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: