Five Things I Never Hike Without

Image courtesy of http://mariposa-ca.aauw.net

Image courtesy of http://mariposa-ca.aauw.net

by Helen Henrichs (GirlsWhoHikeTX Ambassador)

I’ve heard the best thing about hiking is that you can just go out and do it. You don’t need fancy equipment or the latest gadgets, just get out in nature and move up the trail.  And while the sentiment is totally correct, heading out in the Texas sun without anything but your happy self might put you in a sticky situation.  Let’s face it, it’s HOT, like really hot from about May to Thanksgiving.  I’m a desert mountain girl at heart and by upbringing (shout out to my Girls Who Hike, New Mexico) and even after more than two decades in South Texas, I’m far from used to the weather.  So there are definitely things I do not leave the house without.

Water!

It’s hot, it’s humid, and you’re going to sweat, which means losing valuable electrolytes and risking dehydration.  So I never hit the trails without at least a handheld water bottle. I like a handheld bottle with a strap so I’m not actively holding it—plus, if I fall it helps protect my hand a bit.  For longer hikes a hydration vest/pack is a must.  There are tons on the market and everyone has opinions on the best ones.  I love my UltrAspire Astra vest.  It’s made for women so it straps under the chest instead of over and it’s super comfortable.  It also comes with a couple of pockets for snacks! A good rule of thumb is to bring double the amount of water you will think you need.

My Phone

You remember that handheld water bottle I mentioned earlier? It has a pouch big enough to fit my phone.  Now I know, I know, we get out into nature to unwind and unplug.  So I’m not suggesting texting and hiking.  Bring a phone in case you get lost or injured or if you need emergency help.  And you can snap a few photos of beautiful scenery or a post hike selfie with your BHF (Best Hiking Friend).

Sun Protection

We’ve heard it since we were kids, protect yourself against UV rays.  Sunscreen and a hat go a long way to providing the protection you need. I’m loving my new Girls Who Hike trucker hat and definitely recommend getting one.  And don’t forget to protect your eyes, too! They work overtime for you so treat them well.  Sunglasses not only protect from the sun but can also keep dust out of your eyes.  And for those brief shining days in when it’s really cold in Texas, sunglasses keep your eyes from watering in freezing temperatures.

First Aid Kit

It’s always a good idea to keep a stocked first aid kit in your car.  I don’t haul out the big kit for short hikes, but instead keep a sandwich bag with bandages, gauze pads and ointment in my hydration vest for those times a root jumps out and grabs me.  If you have a full kit in your car you, can properly clean any wounds there. Don’t forget to check the expiration dates on products like antibacterial ointment regularly.  

A Plan

It’s a good idea to research trails before you head out.  Most sites will give you maps and the difficulty ratings of the trails.  I print out maps of trails I’m not familiar with just in case there aren’t maps at the trailhead or along the route. Most importantly I let someone know what trails I’ll be on and how long I plan to be out, even if I’m out with my BHF. It’s always good to have someone who isn’t on the trail know how to locate you in case you take a wrong turn or end up hurt.  I follow up with a “I’m leaving the park” call right before I buckle up and leave the park.

 

What things are on your hiking essentials list?

 

Helen Henrichs is one of our amazing Girls Who Hike Texas Ambassadors, serving the San Antonio area. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at @helenmontoya and join her local meetups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/girlswhohiketx/

Oh, Canada Part I: Vancouver to Pemberton, British Columbia

Believe it or not, this Orange County girl had gone 26 years of her life without obtaining a U.S. Passport. Grew up two hours from the Mexico border, yet I had never ventured out of the good old red, white and blue. This FINALLY changed 11 months ago when an error fare landed us a pair of roundtrip tickets to Vancouver, Canada for only $50 TOTAL. You read that right… $25 each for roundtrip tickets to another country. This deal was obviously a sign that it was time to become official with the United States in the form of that little blue booklet. In true Sharron fashion, I waited until two days before the outbound flight and opted to sit for a whole morning at the Los Angeles Passport Agency instead of filling out the paperwork in advance like a normal citizen. Alas, the passport was in my hands before my flight and off I went to explore our northern neighbor!

Yes, I still pick up AAA travel books.

Yes, I still pick up AAA travel books.

 

Since then, I’ve traveled back to Canada twice more and we have managed to cover much of Vancouver to Banff within those trips. Obsessed is an understatement; the California mountain regions just cannot compete with the picturesque mountain views that Canada offers. And while my home state will always have a special place in my heart, I have a feeling Canada is going to steal me away a few more times before I can officially check this country off my bucket list.

In this multi-part series, I’m going to dive deep into every waterfall, mountaintop, and small town I explored so you can consider making the voyage to The True North soon. Trust me, it’s worth every penny!

 

Part I: Vancouver to Pemberton, British Columbia

[Image courtesy of hellobc.com]

[Image courtesy of hellobc.com]

 

There’s so much to write about this 90 mile portion of the Canada coast. Even though Vancouver may seem like a light year away to Los Angelenos, it’s actually only a 20 hour car drive (which can be split up into two days of driving/1 day with driver shifts) or a roughly $200 round-trip plane ticket. Let’s be honest: It costs more to get to some places east of Texas. If you’re flying, I strongly recommend renting a car (which can run you as low as $30/day through the Vancouver Airport car rental area). You definitely need vehicle access to be able to enjoy everything that this area has to offer.

In order to navigate up to Pemberton, you take Highway 99/”Sea to Sky highway” north for about two hours. The Sea to Sky highway is one of the top highways to drive in North America due to its wondrous views around every turn. The first time I drove up this highway, my jaw was dropped the WHOLE way. I’ve driven the west coast from San Diego to Oregon and Pacific Coast Highway has nothing on this glorious road. The only highway I would say rivals it is the one you take to get to Banff National Park in Alberta (more on that trip in another post!).

I recommend getting up and hitting the road as early as possible from your Vancouver accommodations because you’re about to go into full-tourist mode and make a LOT of pit stops. First up, the moment you get out of the city you are faced with incredible views of Vancouver Island… which is a whole other provincial park with too many waterfalls and epic trails to count. Unless you can afford to allocate at least two days to Vancouver Island, I wouldn’t recommend spending your money on the boat ride out there. The island is beautiful, but you want to want to be able to truly enjoy it without feeling rushed because it has SO much to offer! To put things into perspective, I’ve seen 5 day backpacking itineraries around just the rim of this island. It’s not one of those tourist attractions that you can knock out in a half day. More on this magnificent island in another post.

[Image courtesy of booking.com]

[Image courtesy of booking.com]

Once Vancouver Island is out of sight, you’re about 30 minutes from the wonderful town of Squamish. There’s this rad coffee shop on the right side of the highway before you hit Squamish that (no exaggeration) was the best espresso we have ever stopped into. Their hours are a little wonky, so check online beforehand!

Before you hit Squamish, there’s a pit stop on the right called Shannon Falls. You’ll see signs from the highway so no need to plug it into your GPS. This is only about a mile roundtrip to get to the falls on mostly level dirt/pavement, so it’s a good one to knock out in 20 minutes and can double as a restroom break.

[Image courtesy of seatoskyparks.com]

[Image courtesy of seatoskyparks.com]

 

Once you leave Shannon Falls and hop back on Highway 99, you’ll immediately stumble upon a newer tourist destination: The Sea to Sky Gondola. We did this one during our first trip to B.C. and I’ll admit that I would have done it a bit differently if given the opportunity again. You have the option of taking a 10 minute gondola ride to the top (which has beautiful 180 degree views of the Howe Sound water area that you’re paralleling when driving the Sea to Sky highway), then you’re dropped off in tourist land that features overpriced café food, a couple interpretive walking trails, the Sky Pilot suspension bridge (which is a great alternative to the popular Capilano Suspension Bridge that everyone always picks down in Vancouver for their Instagram photos), and a massive kiddie land area.

[Image courtesy of seatoskygondola.com]

[Image courtesy of seatoskygondola.com]

 

However, once you get out of the general vicinity where most of the tourists stick to, you have full access to multiple backcountry routes and can hike out as far as your heart desires. Pick up a trail map and get hiking… once we walked for about 30 minutes away from the gondola area, we were completely alone on a crowded Saturday, free to explore as we please.

Exploring Al's Habrich trail.

Exploring Al's Habrich trail.

 

The trails literally continue for miles so you’re bound to get your fix. The only thing I would have done different about this experience is I would have saved the money spent on the gondola ride ($42 CAD/person roundtrip) and hiked up to the Summit Lodge via the Sea to Sky trail (9 miles roundtrip/3,000ft. gain). This trail requires some rope climbing and is sure to kick your butt before you even reach the lodge. If you’re not up for hiking back down, you can always spend $15 CAD to download only via gondola.

[Image courtesy of seatoskygondola.com]

[Image courtesy of seatoskygondola.com]

 

After The Sea to Sky Gondola, you’re basically dumped into the town of Squamish, British Columbia. Squamish stole my heart when I first laid eyes on it… the monolith granite rock that’s immediately in your face once you arrive in town is hard to take in at first (the highway literally runs within 100 yards of the rock face so you can’t miss it).

So big. So beautiful.

So big. So beautiful.

 

This rock, known as the Stawamus Chief, stands 2290ft. above the ground on your right while passing through town, while the waters of Howe Sand sit at sea level to your left. The chief is one of the most sought-after rock climbing faces in North America; you’ll notice while driving alongside that there’s a whole parking lot dedicated to climbers (with a few camper vans probably parked within). The parking area features spots where you can set up slacklines and picnic while watching badasses tackle Mother Nature’s creation. And guess what – you can hike to the top as well! It’s technically a set of 3 peaks you can “bag” in a 6.8 mile/2000ft. gain leg buster. Fair warning though: the gain is all in the first 2 miles and those miles consist of 80% steps/10% rock scrambling/10% “hiking”.

Second time up - totally confident to stand on the rock!

Second time up - totally confident to stand on the rock!

 

I’ve completed this beast twice and both times it was worth the burning calves afterwards. You can technically extend the Chief hike into a much longer hike in both directions and there’s onsite camping available in case you want to spend an evening here and hike your heart out.

First time up - way too scared to even stand up.

First time up - way too scared to even stand up.

 

Continuing on Highway 99 for another 30 minutes will bring you to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. Again, there will be signs from the road so no need to look up directions. The 230ft. waterfall is viewed from a viewing dock above so you aren’t going to get your epic Instagram photos at the base, but it’s still a beautiful sight to witness.  It’s a 45 minute level hike round-trip to the falls but you have the option to extend the walk to a pretty epic view of the Daisy Lake area, so don’t turn around once you hit Brandywine! There’s other hiking trails if you’d like to extend your visit, but unfortunately no camping available.

[Image courtesy of wikidata.org]

[Image courtesy of wikidata.org]

 

Once you hit Brandywine Falls, you’re only 15 minutes from the infamous ski town-turned-mega ski resort, Whistler. Whistler Blackcomb hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, so naturally there’s still Olympic touches set up all over town. Now, whether you stop in Whistler is a preferential choice… the first time we visited British Columbia, we took one look down into the resort area from the stoplight and decided not to stop. I have nothing against Whistler, it’s a beautiful town! I had a chance to explore it during our next vacation here because it was the same weekend as the Ski and Snowboard Festival, so there was a lot more going on in general. However, on busy weekends… clusterf**k is an understatement. Tourist magnet to the max filled with shops that you could just visit in the states like North Face, Patagonia, and Helly Hansen. If you’re a shopper this may be the place for you because the CAD-USD exchange rate is killer at the moment so you can pick up some awesome items at a discount here. If you’re not looking to spend copious amounts of money here, you can walk through the whole resort area in about 30 minutes and view the Olympic memorabilia before continuing on the road trip. If you’re looking to enjoy a drink on an outdoor deck that’s centrally located in people watching land, check out Longhorn Saloon and Grill.

[Image courtesy of tripadvisor.com]

[Image courtesy of tripadvisor.com]

If you want to do a tour of the actual ski area, you can purchase a gondola ticket which takes about an hour roundtrip between the two mega gondolas to view everything. This may be worth the money to you because Whistler Blackcomb features the unique PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which is 1) World’s longest unsupported span for a lift of this kind at 1.88miles 2) World’s highest lift of its kind at 1,427ft above the valley floor and 3) World’s longest continuous lift system. Whistler Blackcomb was in a “go big or go home” mood when they built this in 2008. You can even wait a few extra minutes to ride in a “bottomless cabin”, which I politely said f*** no to since I’m scared of heights. The views on this gondola were awesome and it was worth doing once in my opinion.

View from the middle of Peak 2 Peak.

View from the middle of Peak 2 Peak.

Now that you’ve gotten your Whistler fix, time to head to one of my favorite “small towns” in British Columbia – Pemberton! We were brought to Pemberton at first thanks to good old Instagram – recognize this photo below?

[Image courtesy of cbc.ca]

[Image courtesy of cbc.ca]

Keyhole Hot Springs, located in a logging area just outside of Pemby. We are slightly obsessed with hot springs, so when we found out Keyhole was *only* a few hours from Vancouver, we arrived at Vancouver Airport at midnight and were back in our rental car by 6am heading north specifically to find this location. I’m a sucker for open farmland and Pemberton is filled with beautiful farms butted up against towering mountains, so even though Pemby to Keyhole is technically 40 miles of dirt road I was loving every moment. You used to need a 4x4 to get to Keyhole, but since they started logging the area they widened the dirt road/leveled it out so trucks can get through… we got up there in our rental minivan with no issues. Everything is well signed and you check in with the logging company before entering (they keep logs of who goes in/out, don’t be alarmed when they ask for your information!). This is another reason why I love Canada in general… when they start logging in an area that’s frequented by outdoor enthusiasts, the logging companies are usually required to keep the area open to explore. I’ve noticed that these companies wind up producing signage, creating better trails, and maintain the location for us… so it’s almost a plus that they’re working in the area. You and I both know this isn’t always the case in the states! This logging company cut in a quicker trail to Keyhole so hikers weren’t wandering around in the active work areas, old trail reviews show a different route to the hot springs and it can get relatively confusing as a result. Download AllTrails and follow the signs/carry a trail map and you won’t have any issues. It’s only 2.5 miles roundtrip and plenty of camping spots with EPIC river/mountain views, if I had the chance to do this all over again I would have opted to camp because I was legitimately jealous of these campsite locations.

They were crowded around the "good pool" so we opted for Instagram photos instead.

They were crowded around the "good pool" so we opted for Instagram photos instead.

On the hike out to Keyhole.

On the hike out to Keyhole.

 

Once you get back in Pemberton, you can grab a bite to eat at Mile One Eating House before heading back to Vancouver. Now, there’s one last stop on our little Sea to Sky roadtrip: Nairn Falls Provincial Park. Even though you can technically knock it out on the way up, I opted to save it for after Keyhole so I can stretch my legs while driving down the coast. It’s about one hour roundtrip from the parking lot to the falls and the trail parallels a fast-moving river. Nairn Falls is one of those waterfalls that may not be tall, but it sure packs a punch when it comes to power. You’re bound to get soaked from the viewing dock so make sure you bring your rain shell along!

[Image courtesy of pinterest.com]

[Image courtesy of pinterest.com]

 

If you have extra time and want to explore more beautiful locations between Pemberton and Vancouver, I strongly recommend the following: Joffre Lakes Provincial Park (30 minutes east of Pemberton), Callaghan Lake Provincial Park (between Pemberton and Whistler), and Garibaldi Provincial Park (between Whistler and Squamish). Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to visit these parks specifically yet… but like I said in the beginning, I have a feeling British Columbia is going to draw me back a few more times before filing this location away as “officially checked off”, so there’s plenty of time to explore this in the near future. 😊

 

Stay tuned for “Part II: Vancouver to Golden, British Columbia”! If you have any questions about the areas I explained in this post, please feel free to ask them in the comments. I’ll gladly help you out if it means more people visit this wonderful slice of hiking heaven.

 

Girls Who Hike is a hiking organization of over 20,000 women nationwide and our mission is to bring women together to connect, network, and discover through their local trails. Join one of our FREE chapters -- simply click here to find the closest one to you!

 

Hiking Layers Defined for the SoCal Hiker

If you've contemplated hiking in the mountain region lately, you have probably heard the phrase "dress in layers". As a girl who was born/raised in Southern California (where it can be sunny and 75 any day of the year), when I first heard this phrase I actually did not understand what they were talking about! Layers?! What's that?

All my winter readers are probably laughing at me, but it's true... us Southern Californians are spoiled rotten when it comes to weather. It doesn't hurt to go over the art of "layering" for your next mountain hike... you never know who may need a refresher course in this!

*Image courtesy of OutdoorGearLab.com

*Image courtesy of OutdoorGearLab.com

Layer 1: The Base Layer

It's important that this layer is warm & moisture-wicking. You don't want your body to sweat, then be stuck with a wet body while hiking (I'm sure that gave you a great visual, didn't it?!). Cotton is not recommended for this layer since it will retain water/moisture. Synthetic, wool, or silk fabric will do the trick.

I personally love Under Armour's line of base layers, but I also listed a few inexpensive options below as well:

 

Layer 2: The Wind Layer

This layer really depends on preference. I don't use my wind layer much, I tend to just skip to the next layer. Your Layer 3 or 4 can be windproof as well, virtually eliminating the need for this layer. However, if you're hiking at lower elevations or during summertime and don't need that 4 (or even that Layer 3 at times), you can do Layer 1 and this layer only which will protect you from light showers. Columbia makes solid windbreakers for inexpensive prices:

Layer 3: The Insulation Layer

This one, you do NOT want to cut corners on when it comes to quality. This is the layer that is obviously going to truly keep you warm (or "insulate" you) at those higher elevations. You're going to see down/synthetic jackets and rating systems for these (example - my jacket is a Columbia 650 Turbodown, but I could have spent more money and gotten an 800 which would keep me even warmer). The good news is, I'm writing this on the second day of Spring.. which means a lot of these jackets are on sale right now! Choose a brand you can trust and guarantees their items, like Columbia/North Face/Patagonia :

 

Layer 4: The Hard Shell Layer

This is the layer that is REALLY going to protect you when the weather goes south. Think of a snowboarding jacket - thick, tough on the outside, and that sucker will keep you warm. Waterproof, yet breathable. These are going to be a little on the expensive side, but are necessary at the higher elevations during active snow/rain/whatever may come your way.

Hope I helped out a bit! You're always welcome to post in the closed Facebook group if you want details or recommendations on other options for any of these layers.

Xo - Sharron

Additional Daypack Items for Emergencies!

Thanks to the wilderness safety/first aid course that GWHLA took over the weekend, I started ordering additional things off of Amazon that I'll be adding into my daypack. I wanted to share my list with you so you can see the items as well!

NAME BRAND VERSION FOR $11 - SAM Rolled Splint 36", Orange/Blue

http://amzn.to/2n7ETyJ

GENERIC VERSION FOR $6 - Dynarex First Aid Universal Aluminum Splint, 36 Inch Rolled, 5 Ounce

http://amzn.to/2nEi72V

ACR Personal Locator Beacon $249 (this was the cheapest ACR brand one I could find on Amazon) –

http://amzn.to/2n7zPKw

UCO Stormproof Match Kit $8

http://amzn.to/2n1CEv5

White Fuel Tablets (for emergency fires) - $8 / 12 pieces

http://amzn.to/2nfUht6

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System (cheapest color is Camo at the moment) - $20

http://amzn.to/2mJbozE

Paracord - $5

http://amzn.to/2nfUZGM

Leatherman Sidekick (comes with a SERRATED KNIFE! SUPER IMPORTANT!) - $37

http://amzn.to/2n1Oqpe

Emergency Blanket - $3

http://amzn.to/2n1PSb9

Signaling Mirror - $4

http://amzn.to/2nfRtMJ

85 piece compact first aid kit (I’m personally getting two, one for daypack and one for car) - $14

http://amzn.to/2n1PDwS

HotHands Hand Warmers (10 pack) - $7

http://amzn.to/2n7EMmx

Emergency Whistle - $2

http://amzn.to/2n7BtMk

10 Tips For First Time Backpackers

Put a girl in the mountains and you'll change her day. Give her a backpack and throw her into the backcountry for a few nights, and you can change her life.

 

1. Ditch the soap at home - the last thing on your mind in the beautiful backcountry is what you look like. Jump in the lakes, run in the dirt, and leave the showering for when you get back home!

2. Pack lightly and efficiently - you'll want to make sure your heavier items are towards the bottom of the pack and evenly distributed. Don't pack more than the essentials! Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food, outer layers...what more do you need?! I promise you won't miss that book you wanted to bring along.

 

3. Get fitted for your pack BEFORE going out and buying on impulse - this will make or break you (literally, it'll kill your back). The folks at REI do a spectacular job of fitting you to the correct size you'll need. You'll be thankful you did it 😊

 

4. Make sure you have a bear canister or the sites you are staying at have bear lockers! I know a guy who had his backpack ripped into pieces by a racoon because he left a protein bar wrapper in his pack overnight. Trust me, it's worth the investment.

 

5. Break in your hiking boots before your trip! The last thing you'll want is blisters after day one with a long trail ahead of you.

 

6. Prepare yourself by taking a weighted backpack on day hikes! Short hikes with a high incline are great. 20-30 pounds is ideal to get your body used to it.

 

7. Bring enough food for 3 SOLID meals per day! You probably won't have time to eat much on the trail, but your body will be ready to eat a full load when you arrive at camp. I always bring along 2 packs of oatmeal, trail mix, 2 protein bars, dried fruit, and a freeze dried meal per day - minimum. You'll be burning so many calories you'll want the extra intake!

 

8. DO NOT say no to a trip because you're the only girl! My second backpacking trip was 4 days in Yosemite with a group of 10 guys I had never met. I was the only girl and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. Be a badass backpacking babe! *that's my life motto*

 

9. Sharing is caring! You can save extra weight if you share items. Tents, portable stoves, etc. are wonderful to share if you don't have these items on your own. Just trade off carrying them for the day and you're golden!

 

10. HAVE FUN! At the end of the day lets be honest for a second: your first backpacking trip is going to be a learning experience. It's going to be hard, tiring, dirty, and uncomfortable...but even better it will be beautiful, thought provoking, strengthening, BEAUTIFUL and so much fun! Go into it with a positive mindset and I promise you will never look back.

 

Happy backpacking!

 

Xx - Morgan

 

Morgan is a current Girls Who Hike LA moderator and works for The North Face when she's not out hiking our SoCal mountains.

Discovering the Wilderness (Hiking at the Wind Wolves Preserve)

Oh, play me some mountain music,

Like grandma and grandpa used to play...

Then I'll float on down the river...

To a Cajun hideaway.

-- Alabama

f0c69e_9005465553524e7f912ac408721a7454~mv2_d_1600_1600_s_2.jpg

Since moving to California four years ago, I have quickly rediscovered my love for hiking. I'll probably post about several hikes in upcoming posts (I already posted about the Hollywood Sign Hike and my hike in Muir Woods), but today I will dedicate to my favorite hike as of late - the Wind Wolves Preserve in Kern County, California.

The Wind Wolves Preserve is part of The Wildlands Conservancy, a non-profit nature preserve system "... comprised of fifteen preserves encompassing 147,000 acres of diverse mountain, valley, desert, river, and oceanfront landscapes." The Wind Wolves Preserve is the largest of the fifteen, covering over 93,000 acres. The elevation of the park ranges from over 600' to just over 6,000', which gives it the unique ability to expose visitors/hikers to a variety of climates and ecosystems in one area. Late winter and early spring are my favorite times to visit - this is when the hills are at their greenest, and the wildflowers are in impressive bloom!

There are a number of established trails throughout the preserve, but I've really only mastered two. I want to do the others, but they're just far enough to be too far for my dog, so I haven't made it out there yet. (My little basset hound is a trooper, but 3 to 4 miles seems to be his limit.). The trail I most often take with my dog is the San Emigdio Canyon Trail (pictured above). The full length of the San Emigdio Canyon Trail is just over 9 miles long, but we never go that far with Diego (my dog).

When hiking trails like this, I always look at the trail map and establish a goal turnaround point. I know my dog's limits (and mine), so I plan ahead. The worst thing you can do when you're hiking is get ahead of yourself, hike too far, and not have the stamina (or enough water) to get back safely. We always hike out to the willows/wetlands on this particular trail, and turn back. To this point, San Emigdo Canyon Trail is easy enough for almost all fitness levels and you get just enough elevation gain to feel like you have to work for it. It's not very shady, however, so take plenty of water and wear sunscreen! I've been told that you get greater elevation gain as you continue toward the reflection pond (approx. 1.8 miles further), so I rate the entirety of the trail more moderate than easy. 

The other trail I like to take is the Tule Elk Trail. Both the San Emigdo Canyon and Tule Elk Trails start at the same location, just south of the parking area. You'll veer to the left (east) for the San Emigdo Canyon Trail, and to the right for the Tule Elk Trail. The Tule Elk Trail looks deceptively easy. It's not easy, but it's not too hard. During the first two miles, you will steadily gain roughly 1000'. But then you get to the top... Oh, how it's worth it!

If you're smarter than me, you will follow the trail as it makes it way to the valley south of the summit, circling back to the parking area via the El Camino Viejo Bike Trail. This will give you a total distance of 7.8 miles, but your legs will thank you. If you're not as smart as me, you'll turnaround at the summit and go back the way you came, shaving off only 2 miles from your trip, but it's a steeper descent. (oh, my burning shins!) Haha. Lesson learned!

One of these days I'll go without my dog and hike the full length of the San Emigdo Canyon Trail. The folks at Nobody Hikes in LA did the full hike - you can read about it on their website. It looks awesome! Kern County is home to some of my favorite hikes in California, several within an hours drive of Bakersfield (Sequoia Park, Kern Canyon, Tehachapi, Wind Wolves, etc) and only two short hours from LA. I definitely recommend adding it to your list of hiking destinations! Hope you have a fun and active weekend, my friends!

 

Cheers!

Becky

Becky is a current Girls Who Hike LA moderator and you can find her personal blog at http://occasionallyfit.blogspot.com/.

Gear Review: 2016 Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift Mid GTX

 

Purchase Cost: $130

(Currently on sale for $116 through Amazon! LINK: http://amzn.to/2njwMzx)

What was your first impression of the item?: stylish, light-weight, comfortable, run true to size.

The Terrex Swift boots are comfortable right out of the box and require little breaking in. I hiked Mount Baldy the first time I wore these boots! For anyone that has not hiked Baldy before, it’s a tough, 11 mile climb with a gain of nearly 4,000 ft! The Terrex Swift remained super comfortable throughout the trail—I didn’t suffer from any soreness or blisters after the hike! I particularly like the adjustable speed lacing. They stay permanently in place—no more tripping over untied laces! However, the wire does get a little stiff after the shoes have collected dust on the trail. Also, the Terrex Swift boots are completely vegan! The flexible, GORE-TEX® shell makes them breathable, yet resistant to water and mud. The rubber outsole has high traction grip, ideal for rocky and slippery trails. These have become my go to boots—I’ve hiked San Bernardino Mountain, San Jacinto and even Mt. Whitney wearing the Terrex Swift!

Who knew a hiking boot could be cute, and stylish yet also completely functional and comfortable! The Terrex Swift boots really are the perfect lightweight boot fit for any tough trail.

 

Jess Miller is an avid SoCal hiker. You can read more about her hiking adventures on her blog, http://jesslikestohike.com.

Hike Like a Lady: The #GirlsWhoHike Guide to Trail Etiquette

As hikers, we get to experience things that few others get to experience. Our sense of adventure and our physical capabilities allow us to roam on paths and in places only seen by those who dare venture into the wild. We are the lucky ones, and we share this precious wilderness with those creatures and people that live there full-time.

 

With such luck and opportunity comes great responsibility. Too often, our trails are littered with trash and miscellaneous debris. Our waterfalls and trees are covered in graffiti; our rocks etched with names and curse words. The Girls Who HikeTM community is committed to protecting our trails and our natural surroundings. We are committed to following the trail etiquettes established by our state and national park and forest systems, and hope that you’ll join us in keeping our hikes wildly natural.

 

Here are our unwritten trail commandments for your consideration. We hope that you’ll learn them… and share them!

 

  • Stick to the Trails (especially in sensitive habitat): Some of the places we like to roam have sensitive habitat - that is, habitat that is in the process of being restored due to natural destruction, or vegetation that protects the soil from subsiding or provides animals with shelter. Stay on established paths, and pay attention to “No Pass” signs when you come upon them.

 

  • Know Your Trails: Some trails are well marked, and some are, well, less so. Make sure you know how to read and understand trail maps before you hit a trail on your own. There are a lot of good websites and apps that can help you with this (Modern Hiker, AllTrails, etc). Use them! Print out your map before you go, and don’t  depend on your phone’s GPS (or fellow hikers) for guidance. Your phone may not have service, and other hikers may be just as lost as you are.

 

  • Yield the Right-of-Way: Just like driving on the road or the bike path, respect the “rules of the road.” Not familiar?

    • Remember that the biggest object on the trail has the right of passage. I mean, do you really want to test who will survive a hiker/horse or hiker/biker collision unscathed?

    • Uphill hikers have the right to pass downhill hikers. As a downhill hiker, you can see what’s coming… can they?

    • Slow hikers to the right. This is for your safety. If you hear, “On your left!”, stay to your right. That usually means someone moving much faster than you is coming up behind you. Don’t get ran over, and don’t cause an accident.

    • Hike no more than two across, and single file on narrow trails. Don’t you just hate when you’re trying to walk somewhere and a family of 6 is lined up horizontally, blocking your passage? Yeah, we do too. Stay together, but do it in pairs.

 

  • Pack It In; Pack It Out: It’s really simple - If you took it in with you, take it out with you. Yes, I know that those banana peels are “natural” but they can hurt local wildlife. And please take your trash with you! We don’t do these trail cleanups because they’re fun (ok, so…. maybe we do); we do them because other hikers are leaving their junk behind. Pick up after yourself, and your pets too. The wildlife and other hikers will thank you!

 

  • Don’t Feed the Bears!: Seriously, don’t… and don’t feed any other wildlife either. Feeding animals is dangerous to both you and to them. You know how your favorite dog can’t have chocolate, right? Do you know what a squirrel can eat? No? Me either. Be on the safe side, and let them forage as nature intended.  

 

  • Leave No Trace: About a year ago, a young lady in Southern California made headlines because she went across the United States defacing rocks and trees in National Parks in the name of art. She was banned from all National Parks for two years. Don’t be this girl. Leave it as you found it. I know many of us love the cairns at the Wisdom Tree, but leave them as you found them. Leave the cairns at Wisdom Tree alone, and resist the urge to create your own cairns on other trails. Don’t carve your name (or anything else) into trees and rocks to prove you were there. Let everyone else get a chance to enjoy it. And if you see someone defacing our trails? Don’t approach them, but please do report them.

 

  • Enjoy the Sounds: … of mother nature! Sometimes the sound of the hike is the best part! If you must play music, do it on your headphones. We know you’re “so faaaaancy;” the rest of the park doesn’t need to hear it too.

 

  • Goody Twoshoes: Almost every park and trailhead has rules in place. Read them. Know them. Follow them. They have been put there for your safety and the safety of the environment you are visiting. Some rules were meant to be broken, but trail rules aren’t those rules. (And seriously… how embarrassing is it to end up on KTLA because you’re being rescued from venturing somewhere you’re not supposed to be?) Not sure where to find them? Here are a few that you may need:

 

 

 

Thank you for keeping our trails wildly awesome! And thank you for being good role models for our hiking community! I hope to see you on a trail soon!

 

Cheers!

 

Becky

Moderator, Girls Who HikeTM LA, Girls Who HikeTM CV and Girls Who HikeTM NM