I don’t know about you, but I’m really interested to see how 2020 shows up in history books in five to fifty years from now. What will we remember from what we’ve survived so far? What remains to be seen that we haven’t experienced yet? Pre-pandemic, we all had our own sets of worries; work, relationships, family, friends, our health, the issues we care deeply about. Add a global pandemic, a social uprising, and more than 50 million Americans unemployed (at the time of publication), and it’s safe to say that life as we know it has completely changed.
For us personally, it started in Joshua Tree National Park. My husband and I were a week into the 2020 Hiking My Feelings Tour through the US and Canada when we got the call. We had just wrapped up an incredible first weekend of the book tour through SoCal and had set up shop in Joshua Tree National Park in advance of a workshop I was hosting. The call was from the Desert Institute. As we suspected they would, all classes were canceled until further notice, starting that weekend. My workshop was among the first to be cancelled. Within 48 hours, our entire event calendar was cancelled or postponed.
Talk about a shock to the system. One of the reasons our organization saw as much growth and momentum around our mission as we did in the first year was because we were getting the devices out of your faces and bringing you out into nature. Within a blink of an eye, our entire strategic plan was turned upside down. We had planned to repeat and build on the 2019 tour - host storytelling events and hikes like we did last year, and add workshops and retreats as we made our way around the country. We anticipated doing this for two or three more years, raising money for the Hiking My Feelings® Wilderness Wellness Center along the way, with the intent of opening the doors in 2024. This would give us time to develop programming, explore parts of the country, and figure out where we want to build the Center. We had an epic tour planned through the US and Canada, and March was the first month in our history where we were on track to pay ourselves for doing this work.
Now what? The only online anything we had was a website, social media channels, and a Patreon community. Everything we built, we built to host in-person. Outside of selling books, the bulk of our tactics to raise funds were now obsolete. And, once the shutdowns started happening and Amazon was prioritizing shipping of essential items, they stopped printing books on demand. It was official: Hiking My Feelings was dead in the water. Sure, we had money in the bank, but that was registration payments for our now postponed retreat on Catalina Island. As far as I could tell, this was the end. I didn’t know if our organization would survive this.
Frankly, I didn’t know if I would either.
But, we wouldn’t appreciate the highs without the lows, so I did my best to take care of myself and try to figure out how to restructure our fundraising efforts and programming. After the most epic two-week pity party I’ve ever hosted for myself, it was back to the drawing board. Now that touring appeared to be off the table for at least a year, if not more, we started moving forward on the “someday” plan and started raising money for the Wellness Center.
Coming out of that, we created the Hiking My Feelings Virtual Campfire to bring stories of hope, healing and inspiration to our community. Combined with live music, it was the closest thing we could get to an actual campfire. It started as a 20-day event in May-June with more than 60 guests on the show. (We had so much fun connecting with these guests and our community in this way that we decided to stoke the fire again. This time, we’ll be going live on Thursdays from 3-5pm PT starting on August 13.)
After the fundraiser ended, we made our way up to the San Francisco Bay area to house sit for one of our board members. We’ve been living in the van for almost two years so to have four weeks as house people was quite the treat! From the same couch where I wrote Hiking My Feelings: Stepping Into the Healing Power of Nature last year, we launched our new program, Blaze Your Own Trail to Self-Love (BYOT).
BYOT is an online course with 12 modules centered around inspiration, intention, and integration. Each module contains an interactive activity rooted in guided self-discovery, journal prompts, and our favorite part; the trail journal. The trail journal covers the hiking basics - a packing list, trail details, and then dives into prompts that empower you to powerfully reflect on what you experience on the trail and integrate it into all areas of your life.
We kicked off our first class on June 28th and to witness the people going through this program, diving deep, and unpacking their trauma packs in this beautiful community is hands down one of the greatest honors of my life. We have long believed that when we create safe spaces for folks from all walks of life to explore how trauma manifests in their minds and bodies, powerful change can be made within each of us. We see this happening every single day in the Hiking My Feelings Family.
If you’re interested in meeting our community and seeing the work in action, we’d love to invite you to the Blaze Your Own Trail to Self-Love Virtual Retreat, happening August 9-15. We have a variety of restorative activities planned like a hand-lettering workshop, guided meditation, yoga, and of course, our Group Gratitude Circle. You can see the full schedule and register at bit.ly/HMFvirtualretreat. If you’re interested in doing our self-paced version of Blaze Your Own Trail to Self-Love, we are opening our “Hike Your Own Hike” version of the program on September 21.
I think perhaps the most interesting part of all of this is how much facilitating this program continues to help me along my healing journey. I have actively avoided this calling for years because I didn’t feel like I had reached the summit of Mount Healing. Who was I to help others? As it turns out, facing our deepest fears, rewriting our stories, and stepping into the best versions of ourselves isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. This is a lifelong journey, with many peaks and valleys. The world I want to live in prioritizes leadership of this variety - where the leaders walk with us, instead of standing at the top of the summit, tapping their toe, waiting for us to catch up.
I laid in our tent, waiting for the guys to return, the only refuge from the relentless sun. Infrequent bouts of nausea washed over me and my head was still pounding. Thankfully, the excruciating pins and needles that took over my entire body had subsided. I made it to 13,600 feet, just 905 feet shy of the summit, and 100’ short to the top of the 99 switchbacks when I felt sudden AMS (acute mountain sickness) symptoms. As soon as I started dry heaving over the side of the rocky trail I knew my Whitney attempt was over. Tears rolled down my face as the guys tried to assess my condition to see if I could continue or not but I already knew I had to turn back. Although my body was fine, my brain wasn’t, and I knew pushing it any further could have dire consequences.
I kissed Tony, told him to take lots of photos on the summit and let out a few cuss words. I was more than disappointed. I turned to head down the trail slowly to our camp- back to 12,000 feet and a little more oxygen. I couldn’t control my tears at first, but found crying on my way down the exposed switchbacks with burning eyes wasn’t very safe so I pulled myself together. I gave words of encouragement to everyone heading up in between dry heaving every few minutes.
My ego tried to tell me what a failure I was. How could I not make it to the summit? How would I face everyone when I got off the mountain and have to admit I didn’t make it? I was one of the 2/3 of people that attempt the summit and don’t make it. I quickly let those thoughts go. AMS can affect anyone at anytime, including me, who did everything “right” for this trip. I transmuted those negative thoughts and began staying in the moment and being present to the absolutely magical place I was. I took the whole mountain into my soul- the beauty, the energy, the people that have hiked it before me, the sheer power, and was so grateful that I was there, summit or not.
After a few hours at 12,000 feet I started to feel a little bit better and I actually felt hunger. I opened my package of Skittles- a special treat I had envisioned enjoying on the summit. I savored each color and they tasted just as good in my tent with views of that magnificent mountain waiting for the guys to return after their magnificent summit of the highest peak in the continental United States.
Jaime Purinton ❤️
When I first started hiking by myself it was mostly because I just didn’t have anyone to hike with. It’s hard sometimes to make hikes work with everyone’s busy schedules so I knew the only way I could hike as much as I wanted to was to go solo. Plus I am wildly independent and somewhat of an introvert so it was something that felt good for me. At first, it was a bit intimidating- what if I got lost, what if I ran into a serial killer, what if I got attacked by a wild animal. All these things ran through my head until my feet hit the trail and all those worries melted away with every step I took.
Solo hiking, for me, has been one of the biggest catalysts for self improvement. I have gained so much personally from it, I actually crave it now. Solo hiking and its benefits have allowed me to become a better version of myself- a version that is stronger mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So what are some of the self improvement benefits I have experienced from solo hiking?
Peace and Solitude
As much as I love hiking with friends and catching up with each other while walking down the trail, sometimes I just need some peace and solitude. I am able to find it every time I go solo. My most favorite time of the day to solo hike is at sunrise. Usually the trail is empty of any other hikers, so finding peace and solitude is easy- sans the birds and animals that are waking up from their nights slumber. I have described sunrise solo hikes as magic- the colors, the peacefulness, the energy is all so magical.
Reconnect to Myself
Hiking solo allows me to get into a meditative state since there is no one with me to pull me out of that state. It helps me to reconnect to my true self and let go of other’s expectations and any other ways I’ve shown up inauthentically off the trail. It’s just me and nature and there are no outside influences to distract me from who I really am.
When there is no one else hiking with me I have 100% freedom. I can choose how fast or slow I want to hike, what trail to hike, when to stop and take a break, etc etc. It feels so freeing to make my own decisions and do whatever it is I want to do.
There is nothing like learning self reliance than hiking on the trail solo. I must depend on my own experience to get me safely back to my car. Being able to use my skills without relying on anyone else is so empowering and taking full responsibility for my own welfare has built an even stronger independence within me.
Obviously hiking, whether it’s solo or with a group, can make you stronger physically and mentally but I think even more so solo. Physically you are relying 100% on yourself to carry everything you need. Mentally you will overcome that part of your brain that whispers “you can’t do it alone”. For me hiking is just as much as a mental activity than physical. I have found most of the time my body can go way longer than what my mind tells me. When you’re solo, you have to be your own cheerleader and pump yourself up to get to the up of that peak!
I have the majority of my personal “ah-ha” moments while hiking solo. When you have hours alone with yourself, with minimal distractions, it’s easy to dive deep within yourself. I can’t tell you how many of my own issues I’ve solved and how many epiphanies I have had this way.
Connection to Nature- and the Universe
Those magical sunset hikes I was talking about earlier? Those moments have been when I have felt completely connected to everything around me- the ground, the trees, the sky, the singing coyotes, and the Universe itself. Nature’s energy is so powerful and when you’re quiet enough and listening it will envelop you and make you part of it.
Releasing Stored Emotions
Hiking is so amazing for creating a strong mind body connection that can facilitate releasing stored emotions in the body. I have had so many experiences while hiking solo where I was able to release stored emotions that had been blocking my internal energy. Sometimes they’re small and barely noticeable but sometimes they’re huge and I might have a good cry session for half the hike. It feels cleansing and healthy and I come back feeling much lighter.
Getting Over Fears
I used to be afraid of everything hiking- heights, wild animals, getting lost, you name it- and that was when I was hiking with other people. There was a day that I would call you crazy if you told me I’d be hiking by myself one day. Well I had to overcome a lot of fears to get where I’m at and that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t just suck it up and get out there. Now my fears are pretty minimal and I don’t even think about “what if” anymore.
It is way easier to stay present when you’re not having conversations with your fellow hikers. Hiking solo keeps me present pretty much the entire hike. Not only am I having to concentrate on where I am walking, what is happening around me, and staying on the right trail, I am not distracted by conversations.
My advice to anyone wanting to go for a solo hike? Just go!
Check out at Take a F’N Hike’s podcast where Sonia interviews me on solo hiking here!
I also wrote an entire article on solo hiking in Issue One of the magazine as well!
We’ve created our own online Facebook community for those of you that love to hike it off! The Hike It Off Community is a place where we can all come together and share our love for all things hiking! Group topics include:
Advanced Trail Recommendations
Beginner Hiking Information
Hiking Travel Destinations
and so much more!
if you’d like to join, click the link here:
Recently we spent the day hiking in a remote part of San Diego County on the Los Coyotes Reservation near Warner Springs, about 75 miles NE of downtown San Diego. The goal: Hot Spring Mountain, the highest point in San Diego and site of a historical fire lookout tower.
We were not disappointed!
The hike starts at the campground on the reservation that sits at just over 4,025 feet in elevation. After parking under a large ancient oak tree we put on our pack and headed up the trail which starts out pretty steep right away. Before you know it, you’ve gained close to 1,500 feet in the first 2 miles! The views of the valley below are beautiful as you make your way up the trail. We saw 4’ o’clocks in full bloom, their bright pink flowers a big contrast to the shades of greens and browns that make up the scenery.
After the two mile mark, valley oaks and low scrub give way to tall coulter pines covered in lichen and stunning black oaks which we were told put on quite a colorful show in the Fall.
The trail becomes a bit more moderate as you climb closer to the lookout tower before a final, short but steep, push for the top. At just under five miles, the fire lookout tower comes into view.
Located at 6,533 feet, the tower has been built three times, once in 1912, again in 1928, and the existing structure built in 1942. The tower is no longer in service and is in major disrepair but is still an awesome historical site to see. It was easy to imagine what it was like when it was an integral part of the fire tower network here in Southern California. The 360° view from the tower’s foundation is arguably one of the best views in San Diego.
The actual summit of Hot Springs Mountain is just past the tower through a forest of manzanita. There is a large set of boulders that have ropes attached to assist you in getting to the top. This is a perfect spot to eat your lunch while enjoying views from the highest point in San Diego.
To get back to the trailhead, you’ll take the same way you came up. It’s an amazing hike, but keep in mind you are a guest of the tribe so the utmost respect for their land is required, including following strict Leave No Trace Principles.
Elevation Gain: +2,500/-2,500
Trail: Fire Road
Restrooms: Outhouse at trailhead
Dogs Allowed: No
Cost: $10 per person (pay at reservation entrance)
Address: 2300 Camino San Ignacio Warner Springs, CA 92086
We are always on the lookout for new, cool, and useful products we think would make hiking easier, more comfortable, and/or safer so when we learned about the Stay Alive Survival Packs we were very interested in checking one out. Stay Alive Pack's goal is simple- to help you be prepared, be proactive, and STAY ALIVE! Founder Tamar Tashdjian has traveled the world and witnessed the disparities between the rich and the poor and how that affects people's safety and well being. She also witnessed the lack of healthcare, resources, and education pertaining to surviving natural disasters and made it her goal to change that. Stay Alive Packs was founded in 2018 with the mission to provide individuals with the education and resources they need in order to survive in natural disasters and emergency situations. They produce emergency backpacks and first aid kits that are created with high-quality items that have been tested over time. Stay Alive also focuses on providing charity to groups that don’t have the resources necessary to survive emergencies.
This is a mission we can get behind 100%!
We were stoked to get our hands on their Outdoors Backpack- a perfect pack for anyone that will be headed out on a day hike. If hiking a long day hike or multiple day hike the survival kit can be moved easily to your pack of choice. We preach all the time about always carrying your 10 Essentials and this pack covers all of them and more. It is so handy to have this all in one place ready to go for your next hike. In fact, this would be a perfect pack to leave in your car at all times. The survival kit fits nicely in the pack with room to spare for snacks and other personal items. The pack itself may be simple, but what is included is amazing, especially for hikers without a ton of experience that don't know what to pack. You know you will have everything you need for an emergency with this pack.
The pack includes:
Emergency blanket: (Qty. 1)
Poncho: (Qty. 1)
Sawyer Water Filter – Mini: (Qty. 1) Also includes (1) 16 oz water pouch, (1) straw, and (1) cleaning syringe.
Lighter: (Qty. 1)
Hot Packs: (Qty. 1)
Storm proof matches: (Qty. 1 box)
Tinder: (Qty. 2)
Compass + Carabiner: (Qty. 1)
Flashlight: (Qty. 1)
AAA Batteries: (Qty. 4)
Whistle: (Qty. 1)
Para-cord 550: (Qty. 1) Includes 9 strands-7 white, 1 red tinder, 1 fish line.
Tactical knife: (Qty. 1) Features glass breaker
Ibuprofen: (Qty. 4 tablets)
Aspirin: (Qty. 4 tablets)
Non-aspirin: (Qty. 4 tablets)
Benadryl: (Qty. 2 tablets)
Burn Gel + First Aid: (Qty. 2 packets)
Hydrocortisone Cream 1%: (Qty. 2 packets)
Triple Antibiotic Ointment: (Qty. 2 packets)
Sunscreen SPF30: (Qty. 1)
Alcohol Pads: (Qty. 8)
Antiseptic BZK Towelettes: (Qty. 6)
White tape: (Qty. 1)
Exam Gloves: (Qty. 2)
Ace Bandage Wrap (Qty. 1)
Cotton Swabs: (5 half)
Band-Aids: (Qty. 15)
Scissors: (Qty. 1)
Tweezers: (Qty. 1)
Nextemp: (Qty. 2)
Safety Pin: (Qty. 2)
If a larger pack with emergency items for multiple people are needed Stay Alive Pack offers a superior pack that is bigger with more supplies. You are also able to purchase the survival kits without the packs as well. Overall, we think this is an awesome product and recommend it for all hikers. You can get your pack here.
Use code SURVIVAL10 at checkout for 10% off!
We are so excited for our next issue that will be live July 31st! Articles include:
Wild Women in Hiking with Anastasia Allison, Founder of Kula Cloth and Musical Mountaineers
The Unspoken Custom of the White Owned Wilderness
Diet Culture in Hiking
From Couch to Kilimanjaro: A Wellness Design Consultant's Hiking Adventures and Home Advice
How Covid Made me Appreciate the Outdoors More
Fall Hiking Essentials Guide
Fall Hikes in Southern California
And our newest addition- a series of survival articles by Duke Brady- Survivalist, Scientist, and Guide who survived both Naked & Afraid and Naked and Afraid XL!
We think this issue will be our best one yet!
Looking for a new summer hiking hat? Maybe a cute tank you can wear both hiking and out? Check out or new styles below! You can purchase them here:
Palomar Mountain State Park re-opened recently and we got a chance to head up and take a nice 6 mile hike in the fog and drizzle. For us, it was perfect hiking weather as we head into another hot Southern California summer. If you’d like to hike Palomar Mountain State Park, check out Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park’s website for hiking maps and trail descriptions.
Check out our favorite local trail- the Santa Margarita River Trail in Fallbrook, What’s your favorite local trail?