It’s desert hiking season! We love hiking in the desert this time of year as the weather is much cooler. Here are our top 5 tips for winter desert hiking to enjoy your time and stay safe.
1. Check the weather. If there is any rain in the forecast anywhere near where you are hiking avoid hiking any washes, canyons, or low laying areas prone to flash floods.
2. Bring sun protection. Even when the temps are cooler, you will still need to be covered up as most desert hikes have no shade.
3. Layer your clothes. It can be very cold starting your hike and then warm up later in the day. Consider wearing desert gaiters to help keep sand out of your hiking shoes + protect your lower legs from harsh plants. Bring wind protection as it can get very windy as well.
4. Always bring your ten essentials including a multi tool. Multi tools are handy for any accidental “cactus encounters”. Make sure you bring plenty of water as even in the cooler seasons reliable sources for water to filter are very rare.
5. Know how to navigate with a map and compass. It is very easy to get disoriented in the desert as much of the terrain looks the same. Do not go off trail unless you have very good navigation skills.
MMIW- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is a movement that was started to bring attention to the widely disproportionate disappearance and murders of Native women and girls across the US and Canada. The numbers are astonishing as these communities are experiencing thousands of their women, girls, and LGBTQ2S individuals missing and murdered each year. Sadly, because of federal law, policies, lack of communication between state, local, and tribal law enforcement, it's almost impossible to investigate each case. Most of the cases go unnoticed outside tribal communities and there has been little justice for the victims and their family members and loved ones.
According to Lisa Brunner, executive director of Sacred Spirits First National Coalition states, "What's happened through US Federal law and policy is they created lands of impunity where this is like a playground for serial rapists, batterers, killers, whoever and our children aren't protected at all." It has been discovered that Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic and one in three Native women is sexually assaulted during her life, with 67% of these assaults perpetrated by non-Natives.
In homage to an ongoing issue close to their hearts, the women of Eighth Generation, a Native-owned and operated company based in Seattle, Washington collaborated to bring forth the “Sacred Sisters” Special Edition Silk Scarf created by Navajo artist and former staff member, Starr Warner (Diné).
Eighth Generation supports the work of ending violence against Native womxn and children. To do their part, 100% of the proceeds from the “Sacred Sisters” Silk Scarf will be donated to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, (NIWRC). The NIWRC is a Native-led nonprofit organization that provides national leadership in ending gender-based violence in tribal communities. NIWRC has also graciously offered a one-year and two-year subscription to their Restoration magazine in partnership with Eighth Generation. Learn more about the NIWRC and their vital work by visiting their website here.
About Eighth Generation's “Sacred Sisters” Special Edition Silk Scarf
Artist Starr Warner (Diné) is Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House Clan) and Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan) of the Navajo Nation.
“I wanted this design for the 'Sacred Sisters' scarf to encapsulate the strength and beauty of Native women,” Star says. “In my culture, Lightning represents a powerful force of nature, and there would be no better way to describe our fellow Native Women.”
Star also incorporated the Navajo snowflake design to symbolize the dreary winters and dismal time for the MMIW and their loved ones. The design is intended to encompass the community’s sorrow, bless all future generations with teachings and bring forth happiness and beauty.
You can purchase your scarf and support NIWRC here:
HydroPak is an industry leader in performance hydration on a mission to "relentlessly create better hydration solutions for performance-driven people". With the release of their new RECON Series™ outdoor bottles, the first bottles to feature 50% certified recycled content in both cap and bottle and sustainably crafted from Tritan™ Renew technology, HydraPak is living up to their mission and reputation. Born out of the collective belief that outdoor gear can and should have a lower impact on the environment, Tritan™ Renew technology uses recycled plastic as a raw material, while reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas footprints.
The vividly clear and virtually indestructible bottle with HydraPak's patented twist cap provides a smooth flow for a glass like drinking experience, without the splash, and securely closes for leak proof transport. We love that we can drink from the cap effortlessly and with virtually no impediment of the flow- a must for us on long strenuous hikes when we need a good long satisfying drink to quench our thirst. The bottle works well in our pack pockets and is easy to grip with the indented finger groove on the side of the bottle. The flexible bail handle makes for comfortable carrying and easy attachment to our pack.
Minimally designed with only 2-parts, the cap and inner gasket separate for easy cleaning, and along with the bottle, and are all dishwasher safe. It is BPA free and we didn't find any 'funky" tastes in the water from the bottle. Available in two convenient sizes, 750ml ($15.00 MSRP) and 1L ($16.00) and will be sold exclusively through HydraPak’s specialty retail partners and online at hydrapak.com beginning October 2020.
I couldn’t wait to wear my new Ruggette "The Pants" on a hike but with the recent heatwaves and fires that resulted in the closure of California’s National Forests it took me awhile to be able to finally wear them on the trail. That is until last weekend when the smoke cleared, the temperatures dropped, and we got the chance to hike seven miles on our favorite local trail in Palomar Mountain State Park. Before the sun was even shining, I slid into my pair of Ruggette pants, laced up my trail runners, grabbed my pack, and jumped in the car- so excited to finally get to the mountains after what seemed like some very long weeks. Although I had worn the pants around the house a bunch and loved them, I was excited to try them on the trail as I am always looking for new hiking pants.
After parking at the trailhead and heading out on the trail, within the first mile of our hike, I was hooked. These pants are comfortable, yet durable, but what got me are the pockets galore. Pockets are generally a sore subject for us outdoor women with the fact that most major outdoor companies just don’t think we need them, and most of the time if there are pockets they are limited and small and not much use. These pants are designed with multiple large pockets (YES!!!)- I actually had options as to what pockets to use and wasn’t limited to just one that barely worked.
I also really love the high waist on the pants because they don’t fall or roll down like many of the yoga pants I wear on the trail. I didn't get distracted once by having to pull up my pants and was able to keep my attention on the beauty around me. The waist band is stretchy in the back and has plenty of give with a double snap closure and zipper fly. They are made from a 53% hemp, 44% PET (recycled polyester), and 3% spandex blend so they’re super comfortable, light, but still have structure and look cute. And if you didn’t know, according to Ruggette, hemp is a super fabric- it has earned the title as one of the most eco friendly fabrics in the world because it requires no pesticides, produces oxygen, can be cultivated in as few as 100 days, controls topsoil erosion, and is hypo allergenic. They also have a drawstring and toggle spring clasp in the bottom pant hem so you can close the pants around your ankles- which I love when I’m wearing them with my Earth Runner sandals. Currently they come in the wine color (which I love) and they plan to make more colors in the future.
As much as I love the pants, it is also equally important to me to support women owned businesses, especially ones who get it. The founders Lily and Isabel definitely get it and make their gear “to smash the gender-specific adventure gap by creating tough, sustainably sourced gear that feels good, looks good, and works for womxn of all identities, shapes, and sizes”. They have designed a technical outdoor pant for hikers and climbers that solve many of the issues we find with other brands.
And even though they are “technical”, I know they will be my go to travel pants as well. I’m seriously hooked. I do recommend ordering based on your measurements and not size as they run very small. I sized up two sizes from my normal size. I also recommend washing before wearing so they are extra soft. If you're looking for a pair of functional pants that are soft, durable, and look cute these are them!
Get your own pair of The Pants here.
Follow Ruggette on Instagram!
Co-Founder & CEO
Outdoor spaces are my home. They nurture me, teach me, and calm me when I feel down. The richness of the experiences I have in nature shows me how to move, breathe, and be. We all belong in nature, and if our minds quiet down for long enough, we will find that nature is not all scary or something to be conquered. It is a part of us. We are human, we are animal, and we are part of the earth.
I didn’t always think this way. I didn’t grow up close to nature, though my family had taken me camping a handful of times as a child. I wasn’t too fond of camping back then, and had a lot more fun reading books or painting. I learned to love the outdoors as an adult, largely thanks to rock climbing. For me, climbing started indoors, but it eventually took me to places I perhaps otherwise never would have visited or even known existed. Small towns in the Sierra’s, the backcountry, and rural Wyoming all became vivid memories that I would delight in over and over again. Climbing outdoors helped me rebuild my connection with nature. Revisiting the same areas and seeing how they changed over time, or seeing how different the geology was from California to Utah all showed me how wonderful, weird, and unexpected Mother Nature could be.
My relationship with nature has definitely changed over time. Years ago, I was a motivated backpacker and climber who really craved the endorphin hits from weekends spent outdoors, and I’d drive myself to chronic injury trying to climb my hardest all the time. Now, at 35 years old, I prefer a more balanced approach. I try to get outside at least once a day, even if that means taking time off from work. Bit by bit, I’ve restructured my life so that I could live in a way I felt good about. I used to work forty hour weeks, work on my own freelance or art projects at night, and try my best to make time for the climbing gym and for climbing trips. But I was burnt out, and the lifestyle was unsustainable. My job was really stressful, and I could see my health degrading the more I worked at my desk.
In 2015, I quit my job as a graphic designer to set out on my own. I had been creating art about life and climbing for local art shows and I had an idea for a rock climbing apparel brand. I wanted to create a brand that was inclusive and featured fun and insightful designs that weren’t about being strong or the best. I wanted to capture the spirit and feeling of climbing — taking in the cool air after a long day of climbing, sore fingers, and high fiving your friends after sending your project. I called that brand Dynamite Starfish. Dynamite Starfish is the name of a climbing move where all your limbs are outstretched, and you are trying desperately for upwards momentum. I thought it was the perfect metaphor for climbing and the way I had lived my life. It was also a reminder to myself that sometimes life is silly, and even though you may feel awkward when you start something new, you’ll eventually get through it.
Empowered by my new remote work capabilities, I traveled around to climb, freelancing and creating art about the places I climbed at. Whenever I could, I’d take time off and go on a road trip to see a new place and get inspired for more art. For five years, I tabled at events and festivals and met people from all around the world. I brought my humble tees with me and hoped that climbers would like them enough to wear them. In these climbing towns, I often found hyperlocal organizations that did conservation work on the ground. I’d make art to honor that place, screen print my art on tees and donate some of the profits from any sales to those very organizations. I felt like it was my responsibility to give back to these organizations if I was going to make any money by making climbing tees. My first two t-shirt designs were in honor of Bishop, CA and Joshua Tree, CA. I do very few place based designs now, but hope to bring those back someday if I can.
Operating my first startup, Dynamite Starfish has been an impactful and important journey for me. Not only have I been able to express my unique creative voice in the world of rock climbing, I have also embarked on an unforgettable journey of self discovery. Having a business pushes the limits of your communication skills, confidence, and ability to create a worthy product. I don’t think it's for everyone, but it is a great way to really test yourself. It’s allowed me to learn so much about myself and the world around me, and has connected me to some really amazing people.
One of those amazing people is Austin Smith, who is now collaborating with me on a limited edition series called Exist Ethically. Austin is a climbing guide that reached out to me about wanting to work together, and after some lengthy conversations about everything from book recommendations to ethics to climbing techniques, we decided to design a tee together. Exist Ethically is inspired by practices like Leave No Trace that remind us to minimize our impact outdoors, but also includes a personal and social element that asks climbers and outdoor enthusiasts how we treat ourselves, our fellow humans, and our environment. We believe these pillars are all connected, and we can't ignore any of them. Exist Ethically is also a community effort — we are listening to our community and asking them what Exist Ethically means to them. We share the responses so our community can see the diversity of perspectives that are out there. We’re also offering a limited edition series of Exist Ethically tees, tanks, and long sleeves that are printed on 100% recycled materials. The tee will be offered until September 19, after which we will print only what has been ordered. That way, we won’t have any wasted tees or space used up for inventory.
To find out more about Exist Ethically, you can see what we’re up to at https://dynamitestarfish.com/pages/exist-ethically. Please write a comment on our blog post or find us on Instagram @dynamitestarfish to tell us what Exist Ethically means to you! Your responses will be shared with our community, and you’ll also be entered in a giveaway to win a free Exist Ethically tee if you do. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to participate or to chat with me any time.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey, and I hope you’ll keep up with my upcoming projects!
With an overall rating of 4.5 stars, the Smith Lowdown 2 lives up to Smith Optics’ 55 years of experience producing innovative and authentic sunglasses and goggles. Did you know that Smith sunglasses are the largest eco-friendly sunglass collection in the world? Not only do they use recycled water bottles (5 to be exact) to make 100% of the CORE sunglass frame, the Lowdown 2 features Smith’s proprietary Evolve™ frame, which is made from 53% bio-based material in the injected-polymer sunglasses. To see a huge brand like Smith make these commitments to the environment makes us beyond happy and we are proud to share their products with you.
One of the features the Lowdown 2 offers as an option is the CHROMAPOP™ lenses. We LOVE these lenses. They make everything you’re looking at more crisp and defined. This enhances your outdoor experience that sometimes may feel limited while wearing other sunglasses. The CHROMAPOP™ lenses include a moisture resistant coating that makes them easy to clean and smudgeproof. The coating is anti-reflective and helps to reduce eye strain which is a great asset for those super long day hikes where your eyes feel so tired at the end of the day.
The lightweight Evolve™ frames fit well with a medium sized fit. They are extremely durable, and you barely notice the sunglasses while wearing them, so you are less worried about them getting damaged. The AutoLock hinges work great in holding the arms open which make them easy to pull on and off. Plus, the sunglasses stay put when closed and hanging on your shirt or sunglass loop on your backpack’s shoulder strap.
The Megol nose pads are extremely comfortable and keep the glasses put even when you are sweaty and moving through the wild. We also really like the classic style of the glasses- they will never go out of style. They are offered in multiple colors and lens styles. You can opt for the non CHROMAPOP™ lenses but we would recommend spending the extra money on the CHROMAPOP™ lenses as you will not be disappointed! Plus Smith stands behind their sunglasses and offers a manufacturer’s defect lifetime warranty and they will last you for years to come.
Tony is wearing the matte black with blue mirror Lowdown 2 sunglasses with Chromapop. The blue mirror ChromaPop lenses feature a gray base lens color with a deep blue mirror finish boosted with ChromaPop color enhancement technology to maximize clarity and help you effortlessly see more detail. Best for areas of high sun exposure, this lens is polarized and built on our carbonic lens platform. Provides 100% protection from harmful UVA/B/C rays.
VLT = 14%
Get your Lowdown 2 sunglasses here!
Here at Hike It Off our intention has always been to build a community that aligns with our core values and our audience and their needs. We work with brands that not only we think are awesome and unique, but are a brand we can really rally for- whether that’s because of their innovative products, their commitment to the environment, or being a brand founded/run by a woman or BIPOC. So when we were offered to do a review for HydraPak’s new Flux™ 1 liter Ultra-light reusable bottle we were in!
Founded in 2001, Hydrapak’s mission is to “relentlessly create better hydration solutions for performance-driven people”. Inspired by their Northern California home, and the trails in their backyard- the Sierra Crest, Yosemite, the Redwoods, Hydrapak is constantly being driven to do more and to go beyond. They believe in performance driven design and spend thousands of hours on each detail to ensure their products are the last of your worries on any of your adventures. Their reputation and collaboration has earned them partnerships with brands like Salomon and Osprey, and this performance-driven attitude defines who they are.
Obviously we are all for reusable water bottles, especially ones that are ultra-light! One of the biggest impacts we can have on our planet is refusing to use single use bottles. Here are a few facts regarding single use plastic bottles and single use plastic products from Earthday.org:
The facts are harrowing, and we want to do everything we can to increase the use of reusable water bottles, including HydraPak’s new Flux™ 1 liter reusable bottle. We love The Flux because it is unique- it is shaped like a hard bottle but can compress down like a soft flask once it is empty saving pack space. It cuts weight by 60% and is designed with a bail handle that you can hold in your hand or secure to your pack.
Top features include:
We always have so much fun chatting with our friend Sonia, on her podcast- Take a F’N Hike! Recently we joined Sonia to talk about our Mt. Whitney trip- preparation, AMS, summiting, skittles, wag bags and more! You can check out the episode here:
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 ❤️