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    2017: A Year of Adventures

    When I look back at 2017, I’m blown away and immeasurably grateful for all of the adventures that Josh dragged me along on and I happily went on. Josh and I both travel quite a bit for work, but you can’t say we don’t make the most of our time together!

    Joshua Tree National Park

    January: Joshua Tree

    We spent New Year’s Day 2017 rock climbing in Joshua Tree. It was my first time in this enchanting park. Despite the biting 55-mph winds bending our tent poles, we were smitten and I can’t wait until we return there soon!

    February: California & Red Rocks, NV

    Josh climbing up a waterfall in Malibu

    We explored our own backyard. As I’ve said many times already on this blog, we’re so spoiled living in Southern California. You could spend forever in these hills! And with last year’s rainfall, we were treated to waterfalls and greenery like you’d never expect. Josh kept saying, “California’s not in a drought!” *Cue the wildfires*

    My first real time in Vegas (going when you’re under 18 doesn’t count!) meant spending most of our time climbing in Red Rocks. It was where I learned to clean routes—a process accompanied by many tears, let me assure you. Josh was also proud to onsight Viagra Falls (5.11d). I was so tired after our day climbing that when we finally got to a club that night, I fell asleep on Josh’s shoulder! We sure looked good, though.

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    About this time Josh started talking more seriously about climbing Half Dome. He’d been hinting at it since we first went to Yosemite the year before. At this point I just laughed. Half Dome? In your dreams, dude. Continue reading…

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    8 Don’t-Be-Stupid Rules for Hiking

    Do you ever read those stories of inexperienced hikers going out without some critical piece of food/water/gear, and winding up needing to be rescued? We read these and think, “Well, duh! That was stupid.” My worst fear is ending up the subject of one of those articles.

    But we have to admit: sometimes you just want to go, and not have to worry about anything else. I get it; I don’t like carrying a bunch of stuff I might not need. I like being spontaneous and changing plans.

    The thing is: good hikers come prepared so that they can change plans at the last minute if they want to. Coming prepared actually means you have more freedom, not less. Say you’re on a trail, and you notice an offshoot trail that you want to explore. If you’re prepared, go for it! Why not? Go discover something amazing. If you don’t have the right shoes, or your detour will mean you lose daylight and you don’t have a headlight? No can do, amigo.

    If you’re an experienced hiker, then I assume that you either already know these rules, or you are savvy enough to break them if and when appropriate. But for inexperienced or even moderately experienced hikers, these rules will keep you as safe as possible so you don’t end up in the headlines. 🙂 And they will give you the freedom and spontaneity to explore more! Continue reading…

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    Hiking Paradise Falls: Wildwood Regional Park, Thousand Oaks

    Sometimes I can’t believe how fortunate I am to live in Southern California. You could spend a lifetime in the Santa Monica Mountains.

    Paradise Falls is another of my go-to hikes around here. While parts of it are steep, the overall hike is low-intensity for high reward. The Falls are running year-round, making this the perfect spot to take friends and family who come to visit. Continue reading…

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    Hiking Chumash Trail: Point Mugu State Park

    I’ll be honest with you; the Chumash Trail isn’t my favorite. But it’s the one I do most often, for three reasons:

    1. Easy access—just park by the trailhead off PCH
    2. It’s short—only 2 miles round trip, so it’s perfect for an evening after work
    3. The views of the ocean from Mugu Peak are gorgeous!

    Chumash is the trail you do when you want a good workout, but don’t have a lot of time. As the Hiking Project description notes, you gain about 900 feet of elevation in the first .7 miles of the trail! Continue reading…

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    Hiking Rice Canyon and Wills Canyon Trail Loop

    Josh and I have hiked in Ojai before, but I’ve been anxious to get back out and explore that beautiful area. I wasn’t disappointed!

    I found the Rice Canyon and Wills Canyon Trail Loop on the Hiking Project app, and it looked like the perfect loop: just over 4 miles and not too strenuous. The loop is actually part of a web of horse trails, but I was able to follow the path of the loop just fine using the app. Other people told me that it was a busy day on the trails, but we only came across a few runners and hikers—and no horses until we got back to the Oso Trailhead. Continue reading…

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    Hike to Balanced Rock: Santa Monica Mountains, CA

    Balanced Rock is one of the most iconic features in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you live and hike in this area, you’re bound to come across it at some point!

    Right now Josh is away for work, and I’m trying to take Enyo and our roommate’s dog, Zelda, out for hikes every week to keep us all in shape and exploring outside. It means I’m climbing less, unfortunately—but I’m really enjoying hiking more! As much as we go outside in this area, there is always something new to see. Continue reading…

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    The Outdoors Are Yours

    Let me start by saying that I was not always an outdoorsy person. I hated playing sports in school; I was happiest surrounded by books and music. As I got older, I started to explore and broaden my range of experiences: I met new people, I traveled to Europe a few times, I started traveling around the U.S. for work. I found that when I was willing to try new things, I often found something I enjoyed. After college, I made a commitment to myself to live a healthier lifestyle, and I started working out regularly and eating better.

    Then my world fell apart when I got divorced at age 25. It completely shattered my self-concept, my idea of who I thought I was. Utter devastation is the only phrase that describes what I went through, emotionally. Those were the hardest years of my life, and I had plenty of practice being brave and forcing myself to keep going despite fear and discomfort and the worst loneliness.

    I can now see that all of those experiences prepared me for the life I now live, a life that I absolutely love. A life in which I find peace and strength. If I had met Josh any earlier, I’m not sure I would have been ready for the adventures that we’ve gone on. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that some good can be born out of any bad—and I’m here claiming the good pieces that came out of a bad experience.

    And so I’m here to say: Come as you are. Continue reading…

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