Mountain Standard Discount Code!

I am SO excited to officially announce on my blog that I am a Field Agent for Mountain Standard! Mountain Standard is a new company based out of Colorado that makes AWESOME, high quality outdoor gear and clothing for guys AND gals, for ALL of your adventures. I'm a fan, and I highly recommend that you check them out

Now through tomorrow (Monday) night at midnight, get 40% off your entire Mountain Standard purchase when you enter the code: BG40 at checkout. You will also receive a FREE Mountain Standard trucker hat! It's an awesome deal! 

Below are a few items from Mountain Standard that I've hand picked for my followers! Click the photo for details and to purchase using your special discount code!



Review: COOLA Organic Suncare

Stop your search. I have found THE sunscreen brand for us outdoor lovers! Whether you are frolicking in the waves or summiting a peak, COOLA Organic Suncare products will keep your skin protected. 

COOLA products go on smooth and they leave your skin feeling soft, with no greasy residue. AND COOLA believes in the importance of caring as much about what you put ON your body as you do about what you put IN your body. That's why their products use natural and organic ingredients that you can feel good about putting on your skin. 

There is such a wide range of products available from COOLA ranging from lip products, to sprays that set your makeup while offering sun protection, to classic but beautifully scented lotion sunscreens, to light face sunscreens that work well under makeup... They even have a sunscreen spray for your dog

My Recommendation: Get yourself some COOLA! What are you waiting for? 

Here are some of my favorite COOLA products:

       

 

 

 

Packing List: Day Hike

I couldn't even tell you the number of times that my husband and I have forgotten to bring something important on a hike with us. We've forgotten our camera, snacks, and warm hats. We've forgotten our books (we like to sit and read on our hikes if we happen to find a pretty spot!) and we've forgotten extra socks. That moment when you realize that you have forgotten something that you REALLY wanted or REALLY needed to bring along is horrible. 

So, after years of having this problem, we finally came up with a solution! We created a check list so that we can check things off as we pack them up into the car, ensuring that we will never forget important items on our hikes again! 

We surely can't be the only people to have this problem, so I've decided to share our checklist with you! Feel free to print it off to your heart's content and use it to make sure you don't forget anything next time you head out for a hike!

WildWrites PackingList DayHike


Tips For Hiking In the Spring Time

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Spring is officially here! If you are anything like me, you are chomping at the bit to hit the trails and start hiking in the warmer weather. Trails and roads that were closed for Winter are starting to open up, and the snow is starting to melt. Spring is a beautiful time to get outside and spend time in nature!

Here are a few tips to get you ready for Spring time hiking, as well as a few safety and conservation reminders.

  • Spring Cleaning: Now is the time to pull out all of your gear and sort through it. Make sure everything is in working order, such as your stove and headlamp. Do a little purging and get rid of gear that you didn't use last year. This makes room for any new gear that you've been eying. *wink*
  • Check Trail and Road Closures. Be aware of when the trails that you are interested in hiking officially open up for the season. Check the roads that you will need to take to get to the trailheads too. Sometimes even if the weather is beautiful, warm, and sunny and there is no snow in sight, certain areas may still be closed off just in case a late snow storm hits. So be sure about the dates so that you don't waste your time on an area that is still closed for another month. If you are hiking in a National Forest, you can call the local ranger district to find out about road closures. While you have them on the phone, you can find out what elevation the snow is currently at as well.
  • Dress in Layers. Spring weather can be fickle. Your best bet for dressing appropriately for a hike at this time of year is to wear layers. Be prepared to have a warm jacket handy in case a cold snap hits, and also be prepared to peel off those top layers and have a cooler option on for when the sun comes out! Merino Wool is a great option. There are different thicknesses that you can use to layer up. Having a rain jacket with you to throw on over everything in case of rain is a must as well.
  • Wear Proper Footwear. It's a good idea to wear waterproof footwear in the Spring. Here's why: In the Spring, snow is melting and that means that rivers and streams are going to have much higher water levels. Also, with the melting of snow and also Spring showers, trails can tend to be a bit muddy and puddles are something you will likely encounter. Having waterproof footwear will keep your feet dry, no matter what watery obstacles you may come across! Gaiters are a great idea as well. They will give you a bit more protection and are great for if you are in a bit deeper of a puddle or going through a stream. This season I will be testing out a few different brands of gaiters, so stay tuned for reviews coming your way!
  • Charge Through Puddles. Here is a great reason why you should have waterproof footwear. Instead of trying to step around puddles, charge right through them. Not only is it fun, but it is also better for nature. Going around puddles pretty much implies that you are going to be stepping off the trail, at least a bit, and this can contribute to the unintentional widening of the trail. This is damaging for the surrounding foliage. It's best to stay on the designated trail, and having waterproof footwear allows you to go right through mud and puddles without getting your feet all wet.
  • Avoid Muddy Trails. If at all possible, avoid hiking on muddy trails all together. Why? Because muddy trails are susceptible to more damage. Footprints leave deeper marks, and heavy traffic can leave trails torn up and uneven. So, in the spirit of conservation, if it's not completely unreasonable, try to stay off of muddy trails as much as you can. Just wait a bit until they are dried out.
  • Be Careful Of Rivers! In the Spring, runoff from melting snow makes water levels in rivers rise - Sometimes quite a lot. It also makes the water move much faster, and this can be very dangerous. Stretches of river that you might normally be able to cross, may be way too deep and fast moving for you to do so at this time of year. Just be aware of the conditions of any rivers or streams that you may have to cross while on your hike. Try to avoid crossing rivers if at all possible. If you do need to cross, use extreme caution. Test water depths with a stick. Just be careful.

That Certain Something About the Outdoors

10299021_418506954987644_6912518615711009384_n There's just something about being outside, I mean really outside, away from crowds and man-made things,  that is hard to pin point. It's best described as something that eases the mind, awakens the soul, and refreshes the body. In other words, it does a lot of good in a lot of ways. Maybe it's the fresh, crisp air, or the untrampled, somewhat unexplored ground beneath one's feet. Maybe it's the views that are unlike anything ever made by man. Maybe it's the sounds, or lack thereof, or the wildlife that is just as curious about you as you are of it. Maybe it's the smells - the pine needles, the wild flowers, the sweet grasses, the dry dirt... Maybe it's the sense of solitude, or self-sufficiency or a necessity for survival - some primitive instinct that begins to emerge when one is far from civilization.

Whatever it is, it's something that I like and something that I genuinely believe is a good something. It's not always realistic to get outside - really outside - all that often. With our fast paced, packed schedules and obligations it can be a challenge to get out into nature even one weekend a month.

So I've set out to try to pinpoint some ways in which we can try to capture that something and infuse it into our daily lives. A feeble attempt to bring a little of that certain something about the outdoors home to tie us over and stimulate the senses until our next grand adventure when life allows us a chunk of time in which to get lost in nature.

Here goes:

1. Sight: The outdoors are full of beautiful, pure, natural sights and breathtaking views.

Try this! Decorate your home with landscape pictures, natural colors, and accents that bring aspects of the outside in. Check out Trekking Photography's work.

TrekkingPhotography.com

2. Sound: The sound of the wind rustling through the grass and rustling through the trees. The sound of birds chirping and a stream gurgling...the sound of silence.

Try this! Leave your windows open and let the fresh air and the breeze in. Find a nice Pandora station that plays nature sounds.

3. Smell: In the outdoors your nose is met with natural scents of wild foliage and places untouched by man. They are pure and simple and interesting.

Try this! Bring the scent of the great outdoors inside with Juniper Ridge Wilderness Perfume. Cabin Spray: $40

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4. Mind and Soul: Outside, you can unplug and slow things down. There's no rush and there's too much to do, see, smell, and hear to even think about updating your Twitter. It's just you, your thoughts, and your senses.

Try this! Unplug for a bit. Stow away your electronics for a night or a weekend. Take time to just think and to be aware of your surroundings and engage your senses. Take some of the time that you would normally spend on your phone or computer and instead try meditating. Or do something to care for yourself, such as a nice relaxing bath or a yoga class or reading a book you've been meaning to get to. Capture some of that slow-paced, quiet, reflection that being outside gives you.

When I'm outside I feel relaxed, happy, curious, and in awe. I think those are good things to feel. So my goal is to try to mimic what I feel when I'm outside in my daily life, even when I'm stuck inside.

11070515_10205339766405452_3832441715362798048_nLet me know what you do to bring that something about the outdoors into YOUR daily life in the comments!

The Adventure of a Big Move

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2015 is off to one heck of a start. It has already brought about some huge changes. My husband and I made the move from Washington to Northern California, and the prepping and planning of the move has kept us crazy busy for the past few months. Big moves, or any big life change for that matter, can be stressful, exciting, and a bit sad too. California is very different from Washington, and while my husband and I had spent some time living in the southern part of the state several years ago, we were fairly unfamiliar with the northern half.

We tackled this move with good attitudes, ready for whatever it might bring. The name of the game is adventure: the adventure of moving to a new place, of leaving things and people behind and of forging ahead to create a new life; the adventure of not knowing what lies ahead; the adventure of discovering new areas to play and roam in; and seeking out adventure wherever it can be found. Our free time has been spent exploring and getting to know our new surroundings. For us, being outdoors and spending time climbing in the mountains and fly fishing on creeks and rivers is of the utmost importance. So the first thing we did on our first weekend off in our new home was to hop in our car and scope out our surroundings. Together, with our little dog in the back seat, we sought out new places to get out in the wild.

Lucky for us, we didn't have to search very long or far. The Sierras are just a quick drive away. Yosemite is right there too, and we plan on spending most of our free days getting lost in those mountains. (Read, a high volume of blog posts documenting our adventures in these places coming your way!)

As anyone who has ever moved knows, it's hard. Here are a few things that I have learned about how to make a big move a little 10996995_10205199781505917_3536395246963317470_neasier:

1. Keep a good attitude and embrace the experience for the adventure that it is. (Having an amazing partner who is right there with you every step of the way doesn't hurt either.) *wink* 

2. Seek out places and things that you love. Get acquainted with the new areas in which you will spend your time and can live out your passions in.

3. Establish a new routine.

4. Find the beauty around you. Find the adventure around you. Explore.

Fall Fly Fishing: Why You Should Do It and Some Tips For Success

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Many anglers make the mistake of thinking that once Fall comes around, it's time to store the fly rod and wait it out until Spring. Not true, my friend. Fall is actually an amazing time to hit the river. The scenery is beautiful, the rivers are lower and easier to wade, fish densities are up due to migratory trout, and there are - as previously referenced - fewer people out there to compete with over fishing room. With a good pair of waders and some trusty boots, all that's left is to bundle up and get out there.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while fly fishing in the Fall:

  • Trout Behavior. Several species of trout spawn in the Fall, and consequentially, they become much more territorial and aggressive than they are in the Summer. This can be a good thing for the Fall time angler. A lot of times in the Fall, fly fishermen will opt for streamers, as spawning trout are more likely to chase after and attack these types of flies because they simulate an intruder in the trout's territory. However, I am here to urge you to give dry flies a chance. Fishing with dry flies in the fall can be fruitful and rewarding. There are still hatches going on through September and October, and trout will feed readily on dry flies, if you play your cards right. Pay attention to the colors and patterns that you choose. Nymphs and streamers, though an easy way to ensure that you catch a fish, wont offer the thrill and challenge that a dry fly will. If you pay attention to water temperature and sunlight, it is still very possible to experience great fishing on dry flies throughout the Fall.
  • Stealth Is Important. In the Fall, the sun is a lot lower in the sky during the day which means longer shadows. As every angler knows, shadows can spell disaster when trying to pull one over on a trout. A longer shadow, combined with lower water levels means that it is much easier for trout to see you coming. And, if a trout sees you coming, that's it. Pay attention to where the sun is, and be mindful of your shadows and where they are being cast. Also, be sure that your clothing helps to camouflage you. Wearing neutral, autumn colors is a good idea. In other words, keep the neon in your closet.
  • Be Aware of Water Temperature. Typically, in the summer time, the best times of the day for fishing are the early morning and the evening. During the day, sunlight shines directly onto the water making it easier for fish to see you. Water temperatures get higher which causes the fish to get lazy, so it is generally agreed upon by anglers to be a good time to sit it out. But in the Fall, the opposite tends to be a good technique. Cooler water temperatures actually may result in the fish getting lethargic in the early morning and evening, and becoming more active mid-day when the temperatures rise a bit.

So, in case you needed any coaxing or motivation, there you have it! Fall is an excellent time to fly fish and it provides anglers like me who enjoy tactical fishing with even more elements to challenge our abilities.

Autumn Transitions

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Sometimes it seems like the end of summer comes so abruptly. One day you are wearing your cutoffs, summer dresses, and tank tops, and the very next day you are bundling up in wool sweaters and scarves. The arrival of Autumn can be sudden and extreme, and it can be hard to cope with the fact that it is now officially time to rotate out your wardrobe in preparation for the colder months ahead. Especially for the outdoor adventurer, the end of summer can be a somewhat gloomy prospect. It marks the end of carefree, dry, summer explorations, and promises less predictable and sometimes less pleasant weather that can tend to feel like it will inhibit all outside activities. But never fear! The arrival of Autumn does not need to mean the end of your adventures!

Here are some ways to help with your transition out of summer and into the colder weather that awaits us:

  • Beef Up Your Cold Weather Inventory! Just because the weather is turning, it doesn't mean that you can't get outside and have the time of your life. But it does mean that you need to make some changes to the gear you bring along. Take inventory of your cold weather gear. Make sure you have adequate rain accommodations, like waterproof clothing, gaiters, and shelter. Switch your light weight quilt out for your 0 degree sleeping bag. Stock up on a Merino Wool hat, base layers, and socks. And be sure to throw in hand warmers, instant coffee, and some Mountain House meals - because nothing beats a hot meal on a cold night in the backcountry. If done right, a cool Autumn night spent under the stars can be an unbeatable experience. The key is preparedness.
  • Commit To Your Adventures. The thing is, in the summer time it is easy to go camping on a whim, or throw your fly rod in the back seat and head out to the river for the day. The sun is shining, the weather is great, and the cold isn't a factor. As the seasons turn though, it can be harder to find the motivation to step into the river or head up into the mountains when it's chilly out. So, the solution is to make solid plans for your adventures, pack up all of your cold weather gear (that you have already taken inventory of and ensured that you have), and -this is the important part- DO IT! Just do it. No excuses. A little cold is certainly worth the memories you will make. Mark your adventures on your calendar so that it is harder for you to back out. Commit to getting outside, even in the colder months. As long as you have the right gear, you will be comfortable and have a great time.
  • Find Motivation In the Season. Autumn can be one of the most beautiful times of the year to get out into nature. With the changing colors and crisp, clear air, you will find scenery that you wont get in the Summer. Autumn is an excellent time to hit the river for fly fishing. Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking that with the end of Summer, it is time to store your fly rod. The view from the middle of a river surrounded by yellow Aspens is something that you just have to see to believe. And you wont see it if you don't get out there. So find motivation in those seasonal sights and go explore!

Don't let the cooler days get you down. Prepare, plan, and then go have some bright, fall-colored, brisk, cool-weather adventures!

When You Kill It On a Dry Fly

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If you've been fly fishing for long, and particularly if you have been using primarily dry flies like me, you are surely aware of the fact that some times the bite is on and sometimes it is not. When it is not, you trek up the river for hours, casting and switching out flies to no avail. It is disheartening. It is tempting to simply throw on a nymph or a streamer...anything to improve your odds of catching something.

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Not catching anything can put you in a bad mood faster than snagging a bush on the opposite side of the shore can.

But, when the bite is on - well, there is no better way to describe it than to say that it is magical. The sense of euphoria that engulfs you when you land one giant trout after another on a dry fly is something that you wont get anywhere else. It means not only that the fish are eager and hungry, but that you are giving them exactly what they want. You're doing it right.

I recently just absolutely killed it on the Ruby river in Montana. It was unlike any other day of fishing that I have ever had. I could do no wrong. The moment my fly hit the water's surface, it was gobbled up by one monster after another. Killing it on a dry fly is not only fun and exhilarating, but it's also reason to feel pretty darn good about yourself. Because catching a trout on a dry fly is arguably tougher than any other method of fly fishing. It is fly fishing in its purist form, and when you catch over a dozen in a matter of a few hours on one? Well you can consider yourself the proud owner of some major bragging rights, my friend.

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Leading a Life of Adventure

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I am lucky to be able to live an adventurous life and to be able to write about it. I live for long weekends of backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, or heading East to go fly-fishing on the major rivers of South West Montana. And I am fortunate enough that whether I am swimming with sharks off the North Shore, or spending a lazy day at home, my husband is right there by my side. We are the perfect adventure buddies.

I am blessed to be able to go on so many adventures and to have so many amazing experiences with the man I love. I am also blessed to be able to inspire others. Especially when it comes to other women. In my opinion, fly fishing and backpacking and pushing one's self beyond what is comfortable or normal is important for everyone, but in particular for women. Whenever I hear a friend of mine talk about needing to go hiking more, "like Anna", or try fly fishing out after seeing photos of me gripping a big Brown, it gives me a rush. Because these activities have changed my life. They have opened new worlds up to me, and to see others show interest in trying them is thrilling and satisfying.

[Adapted from the article 'An Adventurous Life' By Anna M. Cohen. Check back soon for more details on where you can read the full article.]

Summer Time Beauty Hacks

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Summer time is all about effortless, carefree, easy, light beauty. It's about sun-drenched days, and heat that permeates all through the night. It's about going barefoot, living in a bikini [or whatever type of swimsuit floats your boat], and being easy-breezy.

But summer time can do a number on different parts of your body. Here are some ways to keep yourself looking fresh, low-maintenance, and beautiful all summer long.

1. Skin: In the summer time, the heat and the constant cycle of being wet, then dry, wet, then dry can do a real number on your skin. Not only can your skin become dried out, but constantly being wet from swimming can wipe off important good bacterias that live on your skin.

Try this: Since none of us are going to even consider giving up long dunks in the lake or mermaid time in the sea, instead, try shortening your showers a bit. Try to keep the water temperature as cool as you can handle it. Also, find a moisturizer that works for you! My favorites are St. Ives and Ponds. I also have an amazing home made balm that mixes coconut oil, beeswax, vanilla, and a few other natural things to create a creamy, moisturizing dream.

2. Face: Tend to break out more in the summer? That can happen. No worries, there are some things you can try.

Try this: Try eliminating your moisturizer a night or two a week. Or, if you're like me and you can't even imagine not moisturizing every night, then try just limiting your moisturizer to areas of your face that feel particularly dry. Also, try to only wash your face in the evenings. Instead of giving it a good scrub in the mornings, just lightly rinse it with warm water to freshen up before starting your morning beauty routine. Also, make sure you are drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water every day to stay hydrated! There is no better way to make your skin glow!

3. Makeup: Summer time makeup should be easy, natural, effortless, glowy... basically you want to look like you just rolled off of the beach - but still put together. Leave the heavy eyeliner and cakey foundation for the office. As soon as you get home from the office, wipe your face clean with a cleansing wipe, [I like Yes to Cucumbers wipes, available in drug stores], and get your summer face on.

Try this: Start with a clean slate. Then apply a moisturizer with SPF [at least SPF 20, if you ask me]. Next, rub on a thin, moisturizing BB cream. The BB cream offers additional sunscreen benefits, as well as giving you additional moisture, AND acting as a bit of a concealer. It smooths out your complexion and hides any blemishes. Next, add a bid of cream blush to your cheeks and the bridge of your nose. Brush on a bit of bronzer if that's your thing. Swipe on some waterproof mascara, a bit of lip balm, and you're good to go. This should only take about two minutes to do, and you'll look natural, dewy, glowing, and like you're having one heck of a summer. Which you are.

4. Feet: Living barefoot and in sandals all summer can make your feet a bit... less than pretty. Your heels can get cracked and dry, which isn't cute. Keep your tootsies nice a smooth with these tips...

Try this: Whenever possible, try to wear socks and sneakers. Hey, wearing them with cut-off shorts is cute and summery. Or you can rock the "just got back from the gym" look and wear running shoes and yoga clothes. Comfy, cool, AND your feet are safely sheathed in soft socky-barriers. Moisturize your feet at night and try soaking them in Epsom salts or another kind of foot soak that works well for you. Use a foot scraper to remove dead, dry skin every once in awhile. Or get a pedicure.

5. Hair: Hair is exposed to so much sunshine [UV rays], salt, heat, and water during the summer. This can be harsh on your strands.

Try this: Wear a hat whenever possible when you are in the sun. This will protect your hair from harmful UV rays. Also, if you have highlights, guarding your hair from the sun will help to make the highlights last longer. Try washing your hair less - every other day will do. Just use a dry shampoo if your hair starts looking a little greasy. Use a deep conditioning treatment every now and then on your hair to help it stay hydrated and soft. A nice Moroccan oil is my favorite. It keeps the ends of my hair glossy. Also, try to avoid using a hair dryer [because who needs one in the summer time, right?], straightener, or curling iron [rock the touseled, natural mermaid waves], or any other tools that may expose your hair to additional heat.

6. Body: Most importantly, protect your WHOLE body from harmful UV rays and cover up with sunblock any time you will be outside. No one wants wrinkles. Or skin cancer.

SUP: Why You Should Do It

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420649_10200715255115560_302190599_n SUP: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

 

By now, you have probably heard about SUP, or seen people cruising by on their stand up paddle boards as you watch, intrigued, from the shore. I remember thinking how boring it looked the first time I saw people doing it. But finally my curiosity got the better of me and I gave it a try. Now, several years later, I am hooked on SUP and here's why.

1. The benefits of SUP are endless. First of all, it's the most incredible workout. Balancing on the paddle board requires a lot of core strength and after a SUP session, you will feel it in your abs, arms, back, butt, legs... you get the idea.

2. SUP is a great way to get out on the water when you normally wouldn't have a way to do so. You can do it on a lake, a river, or even in the ocean. No watery expanse is off limits!

3. You can do yoga on a SUP. I have tried only a handful of times, and have ended up splashing, ungracefully, into the water on each occasion. It's challenging, and worth trying, and if you master it, nothing looks cooler than some killer SUP-top poses.

4. Quench your competitive thirst. SUP races are becoming all the rage. Visit www.supracer.com to find a race near you.

So I recommend giving stand-up paddle boarding a try if for some reason you haven't yet. You've got nothing to lose, except, perhaps, your pride when you fall in the first time you try it - and if you don't fall in on the first try, kudos to you. You rock!

If you're already tuned in to the awesome sport of SUP, let me know what YOU love about it in the comments below.

Looking for a great board? I'd recommend one from Perfect Wave Surf Shop. That's where my beloved Slice Series Ruby Red is from and it is perfection.

Hike: Beehive Basin, Big Sky, MT

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When I heard that Beehive Basin in Big Sky, Montana is considered, by some, to be one the world's best hikes, I knew I had to check it out while I was in town. The reviews for the hike all said it was easy and suitable for all levels of hikers. At about 4.5 miles round trip I figured it would be an easy jaunt up a path to a nice view where I could enjoy a PB & J by the lake at the top. I hit the trail in running shoes and my day pack and was pretty much immediately blown away by the scenery.

Big Sky is breathtaking from the road, and even more so from the little cabin I'm staying in on one of the many ski slopes that have been abandoned for the summer. However, on foot, it is unreal.

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Due to a late melt off and an unusual amount of snow still on the ground, the wildflowers that I had read so much about were not out in full force as they should have been. As I got up higher, it quickly became apparent that running shoes were a bad choice (see the post 'Rookie Mistakes'). There were some pretty big snow fields to be crossed, and the closer to the basin I got, the deeper the snow got. My running shoes kept getting sucked off my feet as I sunk into the snow up to my calves. Before long, my socks were soaked and my feet were freezing. About a half a mile from the top I had to call it quits - my pride hurts to admit it, but my feet thanked me. I snapped a few pictures before booking it back down the mountain. I will definitely be doing this hike again in better footwear, and hopefully when the wildflowers are all out. (I'm a sucker for flowers!)

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Recommendation: DO IT! Beehive Basin is a beautiful hike with incredible views. It's fairly easy (I'm sure even more so when there isn't so much snow) and it makes for a fun day in Big Sky. Just try to hit it when the majority of the snow is melted...and opt for hiking boots!

Going Off the Grid: Why It's Good For You

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10313527_10203066963346796_6451357325797666116_n One thing [of many] that I love about being at our family cabin in Montana, is the fact that it is completely off the grid. When I first went out there years ago, it was a bit of a shock for me. I was very much accustomed to the creature comforts of modern life, and the fact that I had to use a compost toilet in an outhouse, initially seemed like a sick joke.

But, as the years have gone by, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of the simultaneous simplicity and complexity that being off the grid provides. The only power is solar power [when you choose to hook it up] and the water all comes from a well. When my husband and I go out there, just the two of us and our dog, Gunner, we often choose to not to have electricity in order to fully immerse ourselves in the "Off the Grid Experience".

After our most recent trip to the cabin, I have come up with some reasons why going completely off the grid is good to do every once in a while - for your body and your soul.

1. Fewer distractions.

Going off the grid means no TV, no cell phone service, and no internet. It means you have to find ways to entertain yourself - ways that are, in my opinion, seemingly more in tune with a primal part of humans. Read a book [or two, or three...], go for a hike, go fishing, go for a walk, play a board game, simply sit and talk with a loved one, or just enjoy the silence and watch nature going about its business around you.

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2. Quality time.

I love being at the cabin with my husband because there are no distractions. We are able to really be together and have long conversations and play games together and enjoy little things, like a herd of 23 deer grazing right outside the cabin. We get to share the work that comes with being off the grid, like hand washing dishes and making a fire in the wood burning stove. It's magical, in a way, to spend a weekend entirely cut off from the rest of the world. Especially with the one you love.

3. Candlelight.

One of my favorite parts of being off the grid is having to use candlelight at night. My husband and I ate our dinners by candlelight. We lit a dozen candles and spread them out all around the cabin, filling the place with a warm, flickering glow. The wood burning stove crackled and heated the cabin, making it cozy. Candlelight is so calming and beautiful.

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4. Work for it!

Being off the grid is a lot of work. A LOT. You have to chop wood for the fire, especially in the cold months. Without a fire, the cabin is freezing, so always having a bunch of wood on hand is a must. You have to empty the compost toilet. Enough said about that. You have to hand wash dishes with well water, which is a task that I avoid feverishly at home, thanks to my dishwasher. Cooking takes longer, so you have to plan meals ahead accordingly. But the good thing about all of the work that goes into being off the grid, is that it makes you appreciate that fire, and the ingenious nature of that compost toilet, and that food that you slaved away over, and those sparkling clean dishes, in ways that you never would if you hadn't had to work so hard for them.

5. Appreciate nature.10306182_10203066990667479_5290437805133571472_n

Over a four-day weekend at the cabin a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I saw countless deer, a herd of 37 elk, four moose, and a bunch of bighorn sheep. It is incredible to be able to be so close to wildlife and to observe it in its natural state. It's a rush!

If given the opportunity, my recommendation would be to take advantage of a chance to get off the grid for a few days. It makes you appreciate the little things, and it allows you to quiet your mind and focus on the present. Going off the grid is hard work, but the reward is more than worth it.

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Love What You've Got: A Reminder About Social Media

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Do what you love. With the rise of social media, we are constantly being bombarded with images and stories of people doing cool stuff, and of new things to lust after. When you spend time scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, you will see the parts of peoples' lives that they choose to share with the world. What does this mean? It means that those happy pictures and epic adventures that you see on social media are not the whole story. Rarely do people share their not-so-fine moments, their hardships, or their failures. You will probably not see too many pictures of things that are not brand new and exciting and impressive. People tend to share the most interesting, ground-breaking, and envy-inspiring parts of their lives, and it is important to keep this in mind when you feel yourself starting to feel inadequate or jealous.

We, as a part of today's society, tend to want more. We want more money, more vacations, more adventures, more peace, more clothes, more house, more cars, more hours in each day, more friends, more love, more admiration... We are constantly stressing over changing and improving ourselves - over our perceived inadequacy in comparison to the parts of peoples' lives to which we are privy through social media. We yearn to be thinner, more fit, taller, better-looking... to go on more adventures and climb bigger mountains and hike further and surf bigger waves. After awhile, it becomes difficult to just stop all of the "wanting" and think, for a moment, about all of the amazing aspects of your life; about the impressive things that you have accomplished and about all of the beautiful things for which you have to be thankful.

Social Media can be a wonderful thing in so many ways. It is great for businesses to promote their services. It can be a source of inspiration with which to look at people doing things that make them happy and that encourage you to do what makes you happy. It can be a catalyst that makes you want to try something new. It can be a platform for news, and a means of keeping in touch with people. It can be a way to learn about new gear, new products, and new trends. It can show you ways to pursue and live a healthier lifestyle. Social Media has such positive potential.

Just keep in mind what parts of peoples' lives you are seeing and realize that it is not the whole picture. Take inspiration from what you can and allow yourself to be motivated and to strive to better yourself. But also, remember who you are and remember all of the amazing things that you have done and that you will do. Keep in mind the wonderful things that you have and be thankful for them. That is a sure-fire way to a satisfied life. Don't stress about the cool new things that your friend just bought and wrote about on facebook that you can't afford, or the incredible, awe-inspiring climb another friend did in Glacier National Park. Appreciate the motivation that such posts can give you and work on achieving your own sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Be proud of the life you live, and love what you've got.

 

Rookie Mistakes

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Rookie mistake: hiking 12 miles up a mountain to a glacier in jeans and a flimsy cotton sweater.

Any time you start a new hobby or try a new activity, you, my friend, are a rookie. Making mistakes comes with the territory. In fact, I can guarantee that when trying something new, you are almost certainly going to mess up or do something stupid at some point, [like leaving all of your soaking wet fly-fishing gear in a plastic tote over the winter and forgetting to hang it out to dry so that when you pull it out in the spring, it is all moldy, or having a perfect shot of a yellow-bellied marmot in Yellowstone, mere feet away from you and forgetting to take the lens cap off of your camera...yep].  And that's ok. We've all been there, and the good part is, mistakes help us to grow and to improve ourselves. Yes, it can be embarrassing at times, and no, nobody wants to look like they don't know what they are doing, especially in front of people who are no longer in the rookie phase. But, as sure-footed, skilled, and cool as some people come across as, they started out as a rookie too. And there are surely things that you do better than they do. So, when trying a new activity, embrace your rookie-ness! Don't be afraid to make mistakes and to give it your all. Have fun with it, learn from it, and let your mistakes and experiences help you to grow. You will be scaling that ice wall, surfing that big wave, and reeling in giant brook trout by the dozens in no time.

Salty. Sandy. Happy.

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I've come to the realization that life is best when one is covered in sand, and one's hair is salty and sun bleached.Where can one get said sand, salt, and sun? A tropical island, of course. I've spent the last week on the North Shore of Oahu. When most people hear Oahu, they think Waikiki and Honolulu - tourist hell holes. However, take a drive up to the northern tip of the island, and you will find a completely different setting.

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The North Shore is famed for world class surfing and the fabled Pipe Masters, a surfing competition that takes place in the winter in which the best surfers on the planet can compete for the ultimate bragging rights. The quaint little beach town of Haleiwa is at the heart of the North Shore, and it feels a lot like a second home to me.

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I have been going there for years now with my family and every time we get back into town, I can feel myself beginning to relax. Haleiwa and the North Shore have a much more laid back vibe than the busy cities down south. The locals are super friendly and make you feel like one of them. It's a sleepy, sunny little place with some incredible restaurants and fun activities. Some of my favorite things to do are find new hikes around the northern end of the island, swim with sharks [www.hawaiisharkencounters.com], visit Waimea Valley, get a massage from North Shore Mobile Massage [they will come right to your beach house and set up their massage tables in your own back yard if you want!], and pick up some lumpias and fresh coconut from the local road-side fruit stands.

But honestly, my favorite way to spend the day on the island is holed up at our beach house, soaking up the rays and body surfing with the sea turtles. Nothing beats being a beach bum for a week and a half.I don't know if it is the balmy air, the vitamin D, or the salt water, but I always notice my skin clearing up after just a few days of being here, and my attitude clears up too. So, first chance you get, book your flight, pack your bags, and head to a tropical island - any one will do. Submerge yourself in the turquoise waters, lay in the sun, let your hair get bleached and let your body get sandy and just...let go.

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How To Plan An Adventure

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When it comes to planning an adventure, fantasizing and daydreaming are the easy parts. It is the details that become the challenge. Some people are able to just drop everything, jump in their car, and hit the road, seeking out adventure wherever their journey takes them. No preparation, no plans... Something about that is appealing. The unknown. The spontaneity. The risk. But, if you are like me and my husband, Ben, you enjoy mapping out the route you are going to take and pinpointing places in your road atlas that you want to be sure to hit. The planning process is part of the rush that we get from going on an adventure. It is the phase in which we get to look into different areas and learn about their history and their geographical wonders. It adds to the anticipation.

To begin with, Ben and I work on compiling a list of all of the places that we want to be sure to visit on our trip. We search the web for cool, little known areas. Google maps is great for getting links to pictures that users have uploaded from each area. This allows us to scout the area and get to know the terrain a little bit better. In the case of an area not having any user pictures uploaded, one can assume that not many people have been there. This can be a good thing if your goal is to get away from people and really experience

Be familiar with the terrain.

the wild without the risk of a crowd. The terrain feature in Google maps is a great tool for determining how steep an area might be. This is important when planning backpacking trips.

Once we've pinpointed all of the places that we want to hit, Ben and I work on putting together a route. We'll figure out the most direct [or the most scenic] way to get from point A to point B. After the general route has been mapped out, we start to figure out roughly how much time we are going to need in each place. For instance, a backpacking trip in The Crazies will require four days, and we need to set aside a good couple of days for fly fishing at each river that we will pass.

One of our favorite parts of planning our adventures is learning a bit about the places that we will be visiting. Ben and I research each place that we will be visiting online and sometimes, if there seems to be a lot of history and information available, we even buy a few books. To prepare for an upcoming adventure, Ben bought us a book about Lewis and Clark's journey through the Missouri Breaks. We plan on floating down a good stretch of the Missouri river and camping in some of the spots that Lewis and Clark made their camps. It makes the experience all the more special if you know a little history about where you are going and who has been there before you.

Most importantly, when planning an adventure, be flexible. Because even with all of the careful research and mapping of routes in the world, it is always wise to expect the unexpected. Unpredictability is the very essence of adventure.

Now, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

A good adventure buddy is a must!