Are We Doomed to Phone Addiction… Even in the Backcountry?

I like to consider myself a person who can handle life without my cell phone and all the glorious technology it offers better than the average human.

I can leave it in a different room for a good chunk of the day. If I forget it at home when I go to work or run errands I only have a split-second panic attack. I can easily go without it when camping or spending time with friends.

I have the ability to sit in nothingness and just think or observe without reaching for a device to scroll. Growing up with a tendency to get lost in my own thoughts helped me master that dying art.

This is why I was surprised at how often I reached for my phone or glanced at my GPS watch while backpacking the John Muir Trail. Continue reading “Are We Doomed to Phone Addiction… Even in the Backcountry?”

The Dangers of Being Labeled a Climber

I climb, but I’m not a climber.

To me, taking on that label requires more consistency and an effort to improve in the sport. I’ve been climbing for five years and have never ascended anything harder than a 5.10 (for those unfamiliar, this grade is considered intermediate).

This is because I only really go out and climb a handful of times each year. To get better, you need to climb consistently. You need to do scary things like take big falls, get on uncomfortable routes, and, most frightening of all, interact with strangers in an attempt to find climbing partners. Continue reading “The Dangers of Being Labeled a Climber”

Everything You Need to Know About Yurts in Colorado & Wyoming

Think your days of rustic outdoor lodging are gone with the season? Consider adding a yurt stay to your deck of outdoor adventure cards. While plenty of people tent camp in the winter, yurts add an element of cozy comfort without losing complete sense of the term, “roughing it.” Continue reading “Everything You Need to Know About Yurts in Colorado & Wyoming”

JMT Day 4: Scots Love the Sierras

Date: 8/21/17 | Miles Hiked: 15.6 | Passes: Donohue, Island

Trail life had been getting to me. The delayed start to my trip caused a swelling anxiety to interfere with the what was supposed to be a relatively stress-free time in my life.

I spent evenings thinking about how I would catch up to my original plan and days cursing the climbs and water-soaked trails that slowed me down. I knew this stress was self-inflicted and unnecessary, yet I couldn’t shake it. And the fact that I couldn’t shake it gave me even more anxiety and caused me to dislike myself and question my sense of adventure. Continue reading “JMT Day 4: Scots Love the Sierras”

25 Reasons Camping After Binge-Watching The Walking Dead is a Bad Idea

The excitement of scary movies and television shows is part of fall’s allure. But if you have an overactive imagination, the fear doesn’t stop once the TV’s turned off. And depending on what you’re watching, the fear can be intensified when paired with an overnight trip in the great outdoors.

To prepare for season 8 of The Walking Dead, I’ve been catching up on old episodes through the magic of Netflix.

One thing I’ve realized? Camping and zombies don’t mix. If you plan to watch a buttload of The Walking Dead and then head out for some tent time, be prepared for the consequences.

Continue reading “25 Reasons Camping After Binge-Watching The Walking Dead is a Bad Idea”

JMT Day 3: Am I There Yet?

Date: 8/20/17 | Miles Hiked: 17.5 | Passes: Cathedral

Today felt long.

My hike was mostly flat or downhill — a much welcomed change to yesterday’s uphill battle — but nothing is easy with 30+ pounds strapped to your back.

The trail brought me into the heart of Yosemite, taking me over Cathedral Peak, across Tioga Road and through Toulumne Meadows. You’d think this would be a magical part of the trail, but it was actually one of the toughest sections, mentally.

Continue reading “JMT Day 3: Am I There Yet?”

5 Tips to Start Hiking Earlier While Backpacking

Backpacking trips that require major mileage also require early rises. Getting to camp before the sun goes down is the goal, and it’s nice to have some buffer time for lunch and longer breaks.

But those of us who don’t consider ourselves morning people are especially not morning people when faced with the cold, sometimes wet mornings the mountains have to offer.

So how can you get from sleeping bag to the trail as quickly as possible with minimum morning suffering? Here are a few ideas. Continue reading “5 Tips to Start Hiking Earlier While Backpacking”

JMT Day 2: Things Don’t Always Get Worse

Date: 8/19/17 | Miles Hiked: 17 (7 Half Dome, 10 JMT)

I woke up this morning at 5 a.m. to hike Half Dome, carefully adjusting my tent in hopes it would dry from last night’s downpour while I was gone.

With nothing but a light daypack filled with water and a few snacks, hiking this Yosemite classic was freeing.

The difficulty of steep switchbacks and rock stairs toward the end of the hike — even without my giant pack — caught me by surprised and wore me down just in time for the infamous cables section. Continue reading “JMT Day 2: Things Don’t Always Get Worse”

How to Do Laundry on a Backpacking Trip

I didn’t plan to do laundry on my two week backpacking trip along the John Muir Trail.

That’s right. Two quick-dry tees. Two sports bras. Two longsleeve shirts. Two pairs of pants. Two pairs of socks. Two pairs of underwear. Two weeks of hiking. Zero days of laundry.

I didn’t plan on doing laundry until I discovered the true stench potential of the human body — more specifically of my human body. It was quite impressive and even made its mark on my puffy jacket. My socks more closely resembled crispy tortilla chips than cloth. My pants seemed to have dirt permanently rubbed into the fabric. And I won’t even mention my unmentionables.

This is when the wise words of a man I met on the trail known as Mr. Clean really sank in: It’s nice to have clean clothes.

If you agree, read on. Continue reading “How to Do Laundry on a Backpacking Trip”

JMT Day 1: Ask and You Shall Receive

Date: 8/18/17 | Miles Hiked: 5

Today was supposed to be easy.

With my permit requiring me to spend my first night at Little Yosemite Valley, I only had five miles between the trailhead and my first night of camping. From there I planned to complete Half Dome as a day hike. But nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Continue reading “JMT Day 1: Ask and You Shall Receive”