RECYCLE

The final post in Expedition Education’s Earth Month Series and the most common suggestion among most Earth Lovers is to simply Recycle.

The Three R’s also include Reducing and Reusing.

Ultimately,  the idea behind recycling is to convert your waste into something that can be used again. It’s a very simple concept, however, it isn’t always easy to accomplish. Here are a few tips to aid in your recycling success:

 

  1. Photo: 32996338-four-recycling-bins-illustration-with-paper-plastic-glass-and-metal-separation-.jpg

    Containers. Designate separate containers for your recycled goods! Depending on where you live you may need more containers than others. For example, residents of New York City must separate their paper products, from their plastic, from their glass; in many upstate New York towns such as where I live, all three of these items can be put in the same container seeing as they will be filtered out at the plant. In our household we have a garbage can with a clear bag in it designated for paper, plastic, and glass. Under the sink, we have a cardboard box for any bottles worth 5 cents and of course, we have a trash can (hoping soon to have a compost jar for our new community compost program as well!). For a user-friendly, comprehensive list of what you can recycle and how, click here. Another great suggestion, especially for families with children, is to attach pictures of what can go into certain bins to the bin itself. This makes it very easy for your child to comprehend what can go where; this skill will carry over into their lives outside of the walls of your home as well!

  2. Upcycled Clothing Photo: 3d4dc5f6cb268f7d2841387d83cbcd74.jpg

    Upcycle. This means to take ‘waste’ and make something new out of it. This is often done with old furniture pieces; a little bit of sanding and staining can often make an old piece current. With this being said, there are many other things that can be upcycled as well! Pinterest is always a great place for DIY Upcycling inspiration. This is a great strategy to prevent waste by creating something new and beautiful out of something you may have other ways thrown away. Trying to do crafts and art projects with your children? Use unwanted household items to create your works of art (toilet paper rolls, old costume jewelry, fabrics, old crayons, etc.)! Have a few fashion items you’re just not feeling anymore? Think of a creative way to mix them all together into something new.

  3. Photo: 81byXLYxowL._UX522_.jpg

    Use Recycled Products. There are plenty of companies that create products out of recycled material; preserve, pictured below, is a company that prides themselves on this concept. In my household, we are sure to purchase paper towels, toilet paper, food containers, and even our almond milk bottle made from recyclable material. There are plenty of other items that are created from recycled materials as well, for example, Keen and DAKINE both have a line of bags made from recycled materials; recycled toys, bicycles, and phone cases are other hot recycled items as well.

 


Recycling is one of the most common ways to ‘go green’!
I hope these suggestions help you to do your best to recycle.  

Wondering what the plastics you recycle turn into? 

 

Photo: http://www.coupons.com/thegoodstuff/recycling-at-home/

 

REUSE

REUSE, an Earth Month suggestion!
Following up on Reducing, we have suggestions for reusing. 

One of the best ways to reduce your waste and ultimately your carbon footprint is to reuse! With a number of ways to reuse items in your everyday life, this is probably much easier than you might think. Here are some suggestions! 

  1. There are tons of ways to lessen our textile waste; one very popular way is to ‘reuse; your clothing! One really neat way to keep an updates wardrobe without breaking the bank OR creating unnecessary waste is to use a rental clothing service. A very popular company for dressy occasions is Rent The Runway; I’ve had many friends rent gowns for proms, recitals/concerts, weddings and/or work functions. It’s a great way to rock a stunning style for less money and less waste. Another option for renting everyday looks is Le Tote. This clothing subscription service sends you hand-picked styles for you to use for as long or as little as you’d like with an unlimited number of boxes per month! You can purchase items you LOVE or send it all back every month. Some other fashion subscription boxes include Gwynnie Bee for plus size fashion, Stitch Fix, Golden Tote, Rocks Box for jewelry, and more! Just find the right subscription for you.Shopping at and selling to thrift and consignment shops not only saves you money but also helps the environment. By providing clothing with a second life, the opportunity to be reused, you keep it out of landfills. ThredUP is a great online thrift store that provides you with the opportunity to both sell and buy amazing brands! Poshmark is another very easy way to buy and sell used clothing through a mobile app; to date, I’ve made over $700 selling old pieces on Poshmark and narrowing down my closet! If you’re looking for outdoor clothing and gear stop by an REI Garage Sale for great deals on lightly used gear instead of purchasing brand new. If all else fails, donate your textiles to the salvation army, religious affiliations and/or schools! There is always someone who can use your extra and unwanted clothes more than a landfill.

  2. Reusable UtensilsThe options for reusable utensils are plentiful these days! Gone are the days of paper-bagged lunches full of plastics that would only be thrown away. Start with an insulated, reusable lunch bag. Although glass is the most eco-friendly substance for reusable items, I am too rough and tough for glass items! Many of my suggestions here will include items that I personally use and love! Every day, I use two 32oz. Hydroflasks throughout my day, these are great because if I were a coffee drinker I would be able to use this same container for both hot and cold liquids! When I’m hiking I tend to use Nalgenes because they are much lighter than their Hydro Flask brethren. My favorite Tupperware for transporting all of my snacks and meals to and from work are Lock & Locks of all sizes and LunchSkins Reusable Sandwich Bags. Never any spills, easy to use and clean, and there is so much variety in size and color. Straws, cutlery, and dishware are other important items to keep in mind when trying to use less waste; reusable options are always best! If reusable items are out of your budget, don’t fret; reusing the ‘disposable’ items as many times are you safely can makes a difference as well!

  3. Reuse your Scraps
    This might sound a bit strange, however, there are multiple uses for your food and kitchen scraps. There are many ways to reuse your scraps to create a stock or broth. Currently, I have a gallon size freezer bag filled with vegetable peels and scraps just waiting to be made into broth! Take your frozen veggies (3-4 cups) and throw them in large stock pot on high with some olive oil for 4-5 minutes; from here add 8 cups of water, reduce heat to low and let it simmer; the final step is to strain the solids out (to finally, throw away or compost) and upon cooling pour the stock/broth into a container to freeze for future use. I suggest using two or three small containers to get the most out of your stock. You can also do this with large meat scraps as well! Use leftovers/ bones to create a broth in the same way as the vegetable broth is made. And if you have leftover fruit and fruit peels throw them into refrigerated water for added flavor and vitamins and minerals! When all else fails use your kitchen scraps to compost! If you don’t have a personal compost pile, consider a worm composter or a neighborhood/community compost; creating nutrient-dense soil for your garden has never been easier and you lessen the landfill waste in the process. This is a great resource for beginners in the composting world with both an article and video: https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/compost/how-to-compost/!

Don’t feel limited by my suggestions, I hope they inspire you to creatively reuse your ‘waste’ in the future! Garage sales, DIY projects, and refurbishing are all ways to continue the life of an item you might have thought was waste.

Want to try any of these ideas? click the photo below and PIN ME! 

REDUCE

First of the three R’s: REDUCE.

But don’t forget about REUSING!

Keeping with the theme of Earth Month, everyone’s first option when it comes to ‘waste’ should be to reduce it. There are many strategies one can use to do so…

  1. ECO-SHOPPING.
    Think eco-friendly when you shop. Simple tasks such as using reusable bags and/or purchasing items with minimal to no packaging make a big difference. Instead of putting your loose produce in individual plastic baggies, place it all into your own reusable cooler bag when you shop. Shop brands the pride themselves on minimal waste such as LUSH who has specific naked, zero waste products.

    Another tip is to think BULK; instead of purchasing crackers or cookies individually packaged, buy them in the largest size and divvy up the portion control into reusable containers at home when you need them! Another idea when shopping bulk for meat, poultry, or fruit is to utilize the freezer; freezing berries is ideal for smoothies, yogurt toppers, and summer treats; meanwhile, freezing meat is a normal occurrence to reduce waste. Purchasing these items in bulk means LESS WASTE overall. Some of my favorite ways to store my extra food include Lock & Locks and Bee’s Wrap Assorted 3 Pack, Eco Friendly Reusable Food Wraps, Sustainable Plastic Free Food Storage ( affiliate links).

    While eco-shopping, it’s important to remember to try your best to shop small, sustainable businesses. If you’re interested in looking further into the Slow Fashion movement, you can read more about itHERE. In this post, I share a number of amazing businesses with beautiful fashion and equally as beautiful messages.

2. ELECTRONIC.
Billing, receipts, deposits, gift cards, etc.
Reducing your paper waste is so easy these days. GO VIRTUAL! For example, paperless billing is available for almost everything: car insurance, credit card and car payments, utilities, etc. You can receive your paycheck direct deposit, receipts at nearly any store can now be emailed to you, gift cards can be emailed instead, the possibilities are nearly endless. When traveling, boarding passes can easily be utilized on a phone, maps can be used on a phone, books can be read on phones or kindles, heck, using credit cards and or venmo/apple pay reduces the use of paper money. There are so many ways to go paperless, so stock up on flash drives cloud or google drive storage for your documents and get to it!


3. MISC.
Some miscellaneous items include learning to compost instead of throwing away all of your food waste and recycle most everything else. Using reusable water bottles, containers, plates, etc. instead of plastic disposable options. And most of all, utilize less water on a daily basis! Do less laundry, wear what you can multiple times and always put in a full load; don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth or get ready for your shower; take shorter showers a majority of the time (or baths are even more efficient!); it takes a lot of water to grow, process and transport your food so when you eat lower on the food chain, eat more whole foods and waste less food, you also save water. And, if you can, buy machines that are energy star rated to assist in saving overall energy and of course, water!

Want to try your hand at Reducing? PIN ME! 

affiliate links found throughout this post! 

Celebrate Earth Month

April 2018 is the 48th anniversary of Earth Month, with Sunday, April 22nd being Earth Day.

This month, each blog post is going to be dedicated to Mother Nature herself. Although I think it’s sad that we’ve only been celebrating the ground we walk on for 48 years, I am excited that more and more people are taking a genuine interest in the place we call home.

Photo: EarthMonth-3.jpg

 

I like to nurture nature in many ways; one of those involves giving back. As a very busy person, I often do not have the schedule flexibility to physically participate in a cleanup or charity event, so here’s how I tend to give back:

Photo: Park-for-Lovers-Sweatshirt_1024x1024.jpg

I like to purchase from companies that have purpose. For example, Parks Project is a great place to purchase products that directly fund backlogged projects in the parks AND a place to find projects to volunteer on! If you visit their Volunteer Days page you are provided with multiple opportunities to physically give back to the land. The only thing I dislike is that there isn’t a huge representation of East Coast projects or products but I do know that they are working on it. In fact, I was asked to write a top 10 for the beloved Adirondack Mountains I call home in an attempt to spread the wilderness appreciation love to the North East! I’ve also purchased awesome t-shirts and accessories that directly support our parks; percentages from each purchase go to specific partners for Habitat Restoration, Visitor Programs, Wildlife Conservation and Youth Education (can I get a round of applause for this one!) in our National Parks.

 

Live by their motto: Leave it Better than You found it.

 

Parks Project ‘Defend Our Parklands’ Raglan Tee 

 

Another great company called Keep It Wild funds and hosts local (usually Arizona area) cleanups through a percentage of the funds earned from each product sold. They also select ambassadors called Wild Keepers, which I consider myself very lucky to be a part of! These ambassadors, all 800 plus of them, head out once a month for Impact Day to make a true difference in the wilderness that surrounds them; on the March Impact Day the group collectively picked up 8,953 pounds of trash! The goal is to raise awareness while inspiring others to join in on the fun. If you are interested in becoming a Wild Keeper and being held accountable for making a difference, applications for the Summer Term will be up on the site soon! With awesome products that support clean up efforts and countless clean ups available to attend, you can’t go wrong with purchasing from this company.

 

Wearing Keep It Wild’s ‘I’d Hike That’ Tee and Wild Pine Dad Hat

 

 

Other great companies that give back in a number of genuine ways include Ivory Ella, Oliberte, Patagonia, Pura Vida Bracelets, REI, Ripper Wear, TenTree Clothing, Toms, Warby Parker, Wewood and more!


Walking All Over Stockholm, Sweden! 

I do not live in a big city, however, I try my best to carpool or walk when/where I can! It might seem minuscule but walking to the post office or UPS drop box up in town instead of driving does make the slightest of difference; many people consider riding their bikes for small errands as well. Carpooling/ planning rides out so that only one vehicle has to use the resources necessary to get us where we need to go is also very helpful. And in cities where this is possible, utilize public transportation! I know growing up on Long Island, my friends and I would take the bus to the mall or the train into the city.

 

 

Walking About Porvoo, Finland Despite The Winter Weather! 

Considering I do not live in a place where walking, riding, or public transportation is overly possible I do try to be conscious of this when I travel. Last year when visiting Sweden and Finland, I walked or rented and rode a bike to every site I wanted to see! In Yosemite Valley last summer I took the shuttle bus around to minimize my driving impact. Simple thoughts such as these truly make a difference!

 

 

 


And now for my final suggestion, you can join and/or make donations to an environmental group. I belong to the National Parks Conservation Association and the local Adirondack Council. Find one that works best for you! Many include member benefits, however, the biggest benefit for me is the feeling of giving to an organization that is making a difference in something that I love and care deeply about every day. Keep in mind, every little donation counts! In all my time spent in the National Parks, I was able to donate my change with every transaction.

 

National Park Service Donation Station by State 

 

Some organizations you can look into include: 1% For The Planet, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, and more!


Small, everyday items that give back each and every time you utilize them include, eating less meat and more plant-based meals, buying local, planting native species, using reusable bags, making sure trash makes it to its container and so much more!

Throughout the month look out for posts on the Three R’s of the Environment and specific ways you can celebrate Earth Month through this principle.

Let’s work together to keep nature, nature. 

 

Like these ideas? Click the Photo below and PIN ME! 

SaveSaveSaveSave

Slow Fashion

This post is going to cover a bit on the importance of shopping slow fashion. If you are someone who already knows what Slow Fashion is and why it’s a current movement around the globe feel free to scroll past that information and onto the information for great sustainable fashion brands and/or outfit ideas! My goal is to not only spread awareness but also provide my readers with help in starting their sustainable fashion journey. All photos you see throughout this post include slow fashion pieces!

 

First and foremost, what is Slow Fashion? Slow Fashion is a bit of a movement. It is a movement towards economical, and sustainable garments. It’s ultimately, the alternative to fast fashion and part of what has been called the current “slow movement“; this movement advocates for principles similar to the ideas behind slow food, such as good quality, clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers.

Photo Credit: https://www.amaella.com/slow-fashion/

Second, why is this a movement? Today’s mainstream fashion industry relies on globalized, mass production. Trends are designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price. With retailers selling the latest fashion trends at very low prices, consumers are easily swayed to purchase more items more frequently. But this overconsumption comes with a hidden price tag, and it is the environment and workers in the supply chain that pay the most.

Photo Credit: RMIT

Many of these companies are selling their product at a very low price which means a few things:

The excitement when your girl finds a thrift shop on vacation!
  1. The Quality of your purchase is lacking. This point is simple, it will last you a few wears and washes before it begins to fall apart. Who wants to buy something they really like to only be able to wear it a few times before it’s stretched out, seams start to rip or color starts to fade? Not I! Think of the big name, inexpensive brands with all the current trends, H&M, Zara, Forever 21, etc. The workmanship is shoddy due to mass production in a factory full of workers who are probably not being paid adequately which leads me to our next point;
  2. Inadequate Working Conditions are behind your cheap, up to the current trend, clothing items. Many of these fast fashion brands’ clothing is made in countries without strict labor laws, and utilize cheap, exploitative labor. These sweatshop labor conditions are found in some of our favorite brands. H&M’s clothing is made primarily in Bangladesh where the brand’s suppliers have consistently skimped on safety regulations for their employees, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of factory workers in fires and structural collapses in the past few years alone. So theoretically, someone who sewed the hem of your favorite H&M piece may have died for nothing but a disgustingly low wage. Care for another example? A Los Angeles based factory for Forever 21 was brought under fire for its working conditions after a worker claimed she was not paid by the hour, but by item sewn; she was paid 12 cents for a vest that sold for $13.80. Now if a company doesn’t care about the damage it’s doing to its employees it is definitely not going to give a hoot about the damage it is doing to the environment;
  3. Photo Credit: ABCnews

    A Negative Environmental Impact is also the effect of affordable, current clothing styles. Americans are purchasing five times the amount of clothing than they did in 1980. Due to low costs and ever-changing fashion trends, this continuous purchasing of new merchandise is resulting in more and more textiles being discarded yearly. The average American household produces 70 pounds of textile waste every year. When you compare that number to the entire country, there is roughly 10.5 million tons of textile waste being thrown away. Despite donations and recycling, the accumulation of waste in the world’s landfills is causing negative effects on the environment, and it is not the only environmental concern that the fast fashion industry creates. Throughout each and every stage of textile production, lasting environmental harm is caused to the aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric ecosystems; this is due to the release of greenhouse gases from the byproduct of global transportation, the utilization of heavy machinery, and the release of hazardous gases, various pesticides, and dyes into the aquatic environment. There are natural resources in jeopardy and forests and ecosystems being damaged or destroyed for such things as fiber production.  

 Turtle Neck: DAZEY LA Bottoms: Dr. Denim Necklace: Third Eye Pinecone

So what are you trying to tell me? Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Fast forward to current day and the fashion industry has created 52 ‘micro-seasons’ per year – hence FAST Fashion. This is to make you feel out of the loop! The fashion industry is designed to make you feel “out of trend” after one week; with new trends coming out every week, the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible. And if you’re not someone who cares if they’re slightly out of trend, because fast fashion giants are dependent on the consumers’ desire for new clothing to wear, they will purposely design their items to fall apart in one or two washes forcing you to go out and buy again. These Fast Fashion Giants are playing you the consumer and in the process, hurting not only you but their workers and our environment.

Top: DAZEY LA Bottoms: Dr. Denim



T-shirt Dress: DAZEY LA Necklace: Third Eye Pinecone

What can I do about it? Support the slow, sustainable, economic fashion movement best you can! This was actually one of my goals for the new year and I’ll be honest, it isn’t always an easy one. Generally speaking, seeking slow fashion designers comes with a bit of a price but I’m here to say, It’s Worth It! My clothes fit better, they’re more comfortable, and I know they will last longer because they’re made out of quality materials by individuals that take pride in their work! On top of that, I like knowing that I’m supporting a company that’s trying to do good for the world and many times, I’m supporting a small business owner.

Alright, what kind of brands do you suggest? Look for Fairtrade and Ethical clothing brands! Fairtrade Certified means that from production to purchase the process of the goods are an ethical trade that puts people and planet first. A choice for Fair Trade Certified goods is always a choice to support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fishermen, and protect the environment. Almost every company has an explanation of their labor practices and environmental impact if you take a good look for them! ie. Heres Edie Bauers policy.

Here are some examples:

I am currently acting as a brand ambassador for Dazey LA, a small, woman-owned, sustainable clothing line out of Los Angeles, California. Each item is made to order and is designed by the very transparent owner herself, Dani Dazey. If you shop my link above and use the code FORTIER at checkout, you will receive 10% off of your order and I will earn 10% in commission. Support this awesome chick on her mission to empower women and create awesome graphics that encourage sustainable living!  

Top: DAZEY LA Brave Babe Turtleneck Bottoms: Levi Strauss

 

TAMGA Designs is another sustainable fashion brand I am enjoying! Something I really like about this brand is that they keep track of their sustainability with each item made/purchased. Right on their website, you will see CO2 emissions avoided, liters of water saved and kilowatts of energy saved. Their fabrics are a combination of eco-friendly, biodegradable, anti-bacterial, wrinkle resistant, non-GMO, ethically sourced and use zero pesticides. Their dresses are bright and beautiful and so very flattering!

Backpack and Windbreaker: Cotopaxi Hat and Pants: Eddie Bauer

Large, well-known companies such as Patagonia and Cotopaxi are also Fairtrade certified. Patagonia has pioneered quality clothing with organic, recycled, and upcycled fibers for years; if you’re looking for great outdoor textiles this is the place! Cotopaxi, a newer outdoor focused company, creates styles out of scrap fabrics and insulation out of llama fibers. By taking an inventive, considered approach to product design, Cotopaxi believes they can help make a positive impact on the world.

Other Fairtrade, slow fashion supporting brands include Apolis (Mens!), Bead & Reel,  Eileen Fisher, Father’s Daughter, Gamine Workwear, Karen Kane, Krochet Kids Intl., Levis, Nisolo, Nudie Jeans, Oliberté (shoes), People Tree,  PrAna, The Root Collective (shoes), and so much more; just do your research! Keep in mind, many companies, such as the Swedish based Dr. Denim and working hard to be more sustainable; support these companies to help them reach their goals! 

Top: Dazey LA  Bottoms: Dr.Denim

What about my ‘Fast Fashion’ pieces? Wear them until they fall apart and then do your best to recycle every piece you can. If you’re tired of something or simply don’t want it anymore, donate it to someone who wants or needs it instead of sending it to the landfill. You might always find the need for a few fast fashion pieces, whether its an affordability thing or for convenience; just do your best to minimize your fast fashion consumption!   
Questions to ask yourself: Who made my clothes? What’s more important, quality or quantity?

My Main Goal: Decrease

Environmental Footprint

Looking to use these tips to join the movement? PIN ME! 

Kings Canyon National Park

CALIFORNIA, USA

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks: Kings Canyon Version.


It is definitely worth saying that Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park are technically one place, however, they are at the same time two separate places offering very different landscapes, sites, and amenities. If you were to start in the Foothills of Sequoia and drive up Generals Highway you would eventually find yourself exiting the park boundaries miles beyond Lodgepole Visitor Center and entering the Jennie Lake Wilderness; from here you will enter the national park grounds again around Quail Flat and Montecito Sequoia Lodge where you will be in Kings Canyon National Park specifically. Now, to get to the section of Kings Canyon we explored you would need to continue North East onto 180, through winding cliff sides in the Monarch Wilderness before reentering Kings Canyon National Park at Cedar Grove Visitor Center just beyond Grizzly Falls. This stretch of Kings Canyon National Park is often known as Roads End.

The drive along 180 will be one of the most breathtaking in your life; I’m sure of it. Have your best and least distracted driver behind the wheel. The barren, rocky outcroppings are absolutely stunning. There are multiple pull-offs and even trailheads (multiple waterfalls) to stop and enjoy the Canyon along the way so plan to stop. Take care to fill up your car with gas before embarking on this adventure; we stopped at Hume Lake for a few necessities on our way through and a quick fill up.

Accommodations

We arrived in late afternoon and the Cedar Grove section of the park was empty. Hundreds of first come first serve campsites between the four campgrounds (Sentinel, Sheep Creek, Moraine and Canyon View) were available, and many for a mere $18 a night. It is HOT with moderate coverage in the canyon, so we found ourselves the shadiest spot we could to set up our gear before slathering on sunblock and heading further down the road to the Roads End Permit Station where many trails begin. 

Please note, the first section of Kinga Canyon National Park, Grant Grove, has additional accommodations as well. Campgrounds include Azalea Campground, which is open to tents, RVs, and trailers year-round, Sunset Campground, which is open to tents, RVs, and trailers from early spring through late fall, and Crystal Springs Campground, which is open to group camping for tents, RVs, and trailers from early spring through late fall.

If camping in a tent or RV isn’t quite your style, the beautiful John Muir Lodge is the pinnacle of Kings Canyon lodging; open year-round in the Grant Grove Village, offering 26 hotel rooms and a restaurant this stone-and-timber retreat is luxurious. Grant Grove Cabins and the Grant Grove Lodge are also available just .5 miles from Sequoia Grove, the visitor center, market, restaurant, gift shop and post office. You can make reservations online or call (877) 436-9615 for any of the above mentioned.


Trails

Trail suggestions are listed below and ranked in difficulty from Easy to Challenging.

TRAIL: Roaring River Falls

DIFFICULTY: VERY EASY

DESCRIPTION: A very short, shady, paved walk to a powerful waterfall rushing through a granite chute. About five minutes of walking will provide you with a beautiful view!


TRAIL: Muir Rock at Roads End

DIFFICULTY:  EASY

DESCRIPTION: This famous rock is where John Muir used to stand to give talks to visitors in Kings Canyon. It not only offers beautiful views of the South Fork of the Kings River but a great place to jump in and swim! As always, use your best judgment when entering the water; this is a strong river especially in May, June, and early July. Heed all warnings.


TRAIL: Zumwalt Meadow

DIFFICULTY: EASY

DESCRIPTION: This incredibly easy 1.5-mile trail passes high granite walls, lush meadows, and the Kings River. Trailhead parking is 4.5 miles east of Cedar Grove Village road toward Roads End. From the parking area, over the bridge, and to the boardwalk, the river washed away hardened surfaces, so some spots are now more difficult for wheelchair travel.


TRAIL: Buena Vista Peak

DIFFICULTY:  EASY – MODERATE

DESCRIPTION: Two miles out and back right off of Generals Highway. Beautiful wildflower filled switchbacks leave you to a rocky summit with a 360-degree view. We pulled over shortly after entering the Grant Grove Area coming from Sequoia National Park and completed this hike in about an hours time. There isn’t much tree cover on this hike either so on a hot, summers day be sure to have your sun protection available!


TRAIL: Mist Falls

DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

DESCRIPTION: This sandy trail follows the glaciated South Fork Canyon through forest and desert-like terrain, past an impressive show of rapids and cascades, to one of the largest waterfalls in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. A day hike for the books, you’ll enjoy the close proximity to the thunderous Kings River, the cool coverings of cedars and ponderosa pines, the stunning views down canyon and finally a thorough soaking from mist falls. The first part of this 9-mile round trip is relatively flat; during the last mile to the falls, the trail gains 600 feet. The average time for this trip is 4 to 5 hours, however, we hauled @$$ and finished the hike in about 3 hours and 10 minutes. Mist Falls itself isn’t actually all that exciting (personal opinion), it’s buggy and misty, however, the hike to the falls is absolutely stunning. One of the coolest parts was to hike through such different terrain from start to finish; it will be hot and dry to begin your hike (in the summer months) but as you climb in elevation and tree cover you will start to cool down so bring some extra layers along. 


TRAIL: Paradise Valley

DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

Photo Credit: http://www.redwoodhikes.com

DESCRIPTION: 17.3 miles out and back so it is most often done as an overnight or a double overnight. You will hike right on up past mist falls on this journey as well so you will experience all of the wonders of the above-mentioned hike! They say the real climbing and the best views occur just after Mist Falls. At Mist Falls the trail begins to gain elevation and will become more difficult; don’t forget to stop and look back at where you came from because the views of the Canyon get better with every step. At about mile 6 you will encounter campsites, this is a great place to turn around or for some, their destination if staying the night or completing the Rae Lakes Loop.

If you are backpacking on this route, you will pick up your permits at the Roads End Ranger Station and the start of this trail. The NPS typically reserves about 40% of its permits for walk-ups, but you would be advised to get here early, as anything along the Rae Lakes Loop is very popular. The station is open from 7:00 AM to 3:45 PM.

Don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the view on your way up!

TRAIL: Lookout Peak

DIFFICULTY: CHALLENGING

DESCRIPTION: Beyond Sheep Creek, using the Don Cecil Trail, the climb to Lookout Peak provides an incredible panorama of the park’s backcountry. This strenuous, all-day hike is 13 miles round trip and climbs some 4000′ to the summit. It is worth it though! You will have a splendid view looking right down into Kings Canyon, similar to the view you get of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. However, unlike Glacier Point, chances are you’ll have Lookout Peak all to yourself if you visit.

Photo Credit: https://www.alltrails.com/members/vijay-kanagala

Judging by the number of people we came across in this park in early August, it is severely under looked, but that’s the beauty of it! Much less busy than its neighboring parks Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. This allows you more opportunity to enjoy the natural world in it’s more natural state. Known as the ‘backpackers’ park, Roads End is a popular spot to enter the High Sierra.

Coming from the East Coast where the park we most frequent, The Adirondacks,  is massive but not a national or state park due to communities existing within the 6 million acres, we’re used to back country camping. Kings Canyon at Roads End felt the most like home to use with its rough terrain and lack of tourists!

View of the Kings River as you drive deep into the canyon towards Roads End.

 

Planning your stay at Kings Canyon National Park? PIN ME!

Niagara Falls Weekend Itinerary

Have you been looking for the perfect girls trip? Maybe a place you can enjoy some family time for a few days? Look no further than a Niagara Falls Weekend Vacation! Niagara Falls, Ontario, is not only one of the natural wonders of the world, but it’s an absolutely beautiful place to visit no matter the time of year. Snow and flowing ice in early spring or bright blue water flowing over lush greenery come late summer will please the eye and leave you in absolute wonder at the Niagara Gorge.

I have visited Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side, twice now; once in mid-April and once again in late August. The first trip was with my mother and as two adults we enjoyed the views and exploring the city for two days without putting in much extra thought. My next trip was with my Dad, Step-mom, and -at the time- 6-year-old brother. On this trip, we partook in more family-based excursions! On both trips, our Niagara Falls weekend provided lasting memories, many laughs, and gorgeous photo opportunities!


The Perfect Accommodations for your Weekend

Accommodations can often make or break a trip.
Make sure you’re choosing the right location and hotel-style for you and your travel needs!

Old Stone Inn Boutique Hotel


Old Stone Inn: A boutique hotel about 4 minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of all the tourism. This former flour mill is home to elegant rooms with antique furnishings and designer toiletries. A posh restaurant and bar feature exposed stone walls and a beautiful open fireplace where we enjoyed breakfast one morning. Amenities also available include Paid parking, an indoor pool, laundry service, pet-friendly rooms, and room service.

Photo Credit: http://www.oldstoneinnhotel.com/gallery

Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel and Suites

Hilton Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel and Suites: Ranked top 10 hotel room views in the world by TripAdvisor and located just minutes away from a variety of exciting attractions and casinos, if you want to be in the heart of the Niagara Falls Action, this polished high-rise is the place for you! With a rooftop restaurant/lounge with falls views, as well as a steakhouse, an Italian eatery, and a trendy bar and a cafe on the lobby floor, everything you need for a wonderful night can be found at the Hilton.


Fun Niagara Falls Weekend Activities

The Falls are absolutely beautiful to look at… but you’re going to need to fill your weekend with a little more than gazing at this waterfall from afar!

Journey Behind the Falls

At first glance, this experience might seem a little lame; looking at rushing water flow over the opening of a tunnel can only be so exciting. But don’t forget that you’ve descended 125 feet to explore 130-year-old tunnels through the bedrock. The thunderous vibration of Horseshoe Falls, one-fifth of the world’s freshwater, crashing down around you is pretty powerful. Be sure to make it to the observation deck at the foot of the falls to catch an unbelievably powerful view of this wonder. You will leave soaked! 

Falls Incline Railway

this fast & convenient link between the Table Rock Centre and the rest of Fallsview’s Touristy town happenings. Open year-round, fully accessible, and climate-controlled, this attraction provides riders with a unique vantage point of the Falls as they rise and descend along the inclined track. My mom and I took the Falls Incline Railway out of pure exhaustion and I’m sure glad we did… the views were beautiful!  

WildPlay’s MistRider Zipline to the Falls

This adventure takes you on a breathtaking ride into the gorge, towards the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. You will travel down 670 meters (or 2,200 feet), landing atop the falls observation deck at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. I was able to watch them build this on my very first trip to Niagara Falls and watched numerous parties zip on my second trip to the falls!


WildPlay’s Whirlpool Adventure Course

This is a fun and thrilling experience consisting of suspended obstacles and zip lines in nature. Three self-paced courses (Classic, Extreme, and Kids) include dozens of climbing, zip-lining, jumping, and swinging aerial games for guests minimum age five. The cliff-side Courses are a totally new and unique way to have a Niagara gorge adventure!

Whirlpool Aero Car

A cable car that transports passengers over a section of the Niagara River referred to as the Niagara Whirlpool. I was unable to enter the cable car due to time restraints on our tour, however, it was a very cool contraption with a stunning view!

Hornblower Niagara Cruises

You will be squished onto this boat like a sardine but it will be worth it. This boat tour gets you as close as possible to the magnificent Niagara Falls and you won’t want to miss out on the turquoise water and mist! You can’t experience a Niagara Falls Weekend without taking a trip on the Horn Blower.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

I’d say this one isn’t for the faint of heart! After witnessing a Jet Boat skim the edge of the whirlpool I was really wishing I had time for this tour! A one-hour high-speed ride upriver into the Niagara Gorge, through the Devil’s Hole Rapids, to the edge of the whirlpool, and back is sure to leave you feeling energized.


Try A Package Deal

My family of four used Scenic Tours of Niagara to enjoy Journey Behind the Falls, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, and the Whirlpool Observation Deck. We decided to use this company so we wouldn’t have to worry about waiting in line for tickets, nor would we have to worry about driving our car and finding parking for it. Could we have probably got more out of our day and been able to have more play in our itinerary had we not booked a tour? Of course. But we had a splendid time and really enjoyed what we did get to experience together!


Endless Fun, Not Related to the Waterfall!

There is PLENTY to do in Niagara Falls Weekend; miniature golfing, shopping, Skylon Tower, the arcade under Skylon Tower, the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, Fallsview Indoor Water Park, and Marine Land only name a few! You can spend an entire weekend here and still feel as though you missed out on something important. Whatever you do, be sure to catch the falls at night when they are lit up and colorful! My family took a horse and buggy ride along the falls at night which was a really nice, peaceful way to end our mini-vacation!

If you’re looking to explore Canada in a more adventurous way, I suggest looking into Moose Tours. Explore ALL of the beauty the great white north while you’re in town!

If you plan on visiting this world wonder, be sure to PIN ME as to not miss anything! 

Top Outdoor Gear 2017

In 2017 I really stepped my gear game up! I’m at a point in my life where I 1. Can afford to purchase higher end gear 2. Really care about the company my product comes from and what they stand for 3. Want to own fewer things; spending more for better quality that will last longer or has multiple uses is really important to me.

This post might seem a tad long so I will break it down for you. The companies that have made my 2017 year of adventure even better are in alphabetical order: Chaco, Cotopaxi, Darn Tough Vermont, ENO, Fozzil, Goal Zero, Gregory Packs, Hydroflask, and Salomon. 

Chaco: Ahhhhh, I couldn’t speak more highly of my Cloud Z x2 sandal OR my nicer, yet still rugged, leather MAYA sandals. I can hike less rugged trails in my Cloud Z x2 camp sandal in all-day comfort and/or use them to splash around water or relax at camp. The MAYA can be dressed up for a night on the town or worn locally, day to day, off the trail. Created in 1989 by a Colorado Rafting guide seeking comfort and durability, the Gecko has held strong and is a prefered sandal for many outdoor enthusiasts.

Chaco’s Michigan-based manufacturing facility is home to the warranty and repairs department as well as the My Chacos Designs. Yea, that’s right! You can custom design your own pair of Chacos! Fit for adventure, this footwear company believes that life is enriched through outdoor adventure, travel and community.


Cotopaxi: I have really fallen in love with this fairtrade certified company this year. Their bright, creative styles, innovative ways of shaking things up and positive impact make Cotopaxi my FAVORITE brand of 2017. Their fair, sustainable working conditions are changing the supply chain and industry standards; support companies that create empowering relationships with their employees.

Cotopaxi does not only make gear for good, such as my favorite Teca Windbreaker, Roca Duffel, and my TARAK 20L, they also host amazing events. Questival is a 24-hour adventure race that takes place in cities across the continent. I am STOKED for Questival 2018 in Burlington, Vermont! I can’t wait to have a blast, while doing good, with some of my closest friends and a lot of like-minded strangers


Darn Tough Vermont: Made in the USA (North East representin’, Vermont!) and easily the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever come across… I won’t buy a different kind of hiking sock again (okay, maybe Cotopaxi’s llama fiber socks!. Made from Merino Wool and tested for some of the most unforgiving weather in the lower 48, Darn Tough Socks go on a journey before yours begins. Guaranteed for life and guaranteed to make your feet sing in my personal opinion.


ENO: Eagle Nest Outfitters, the pioneer company of camping hammocks, designs innovative products as an invested member of the local and global community by supporting organizations that are preserving and protecting our public lands. These high-quality relaxation products are my favorite way to backpack; my hammock setup is light (even though it is not their ultra light design), versatile and incredibly comfortable. I currently own a double nest, ProFly Rain tarp, the Atlas Suspension System, the Guardian Bug Net and the Ember UnderQuilt. These items fit and carry effortlessly in my pack and camp set up is quick and easy, rain or shine, no matter the terrain (as long as there are trees of course).


Fozzil: Fozzil makes innovative, space-saving products for the indoor and outdoor life. They’re simple, practical, and fun; and for backpacking purposes, they’re a real life and space saver. You can squeeze these into any space in your pack with easy. They’re also incredibly easy to clean seeing as they unfold to be completely flat with no corners or crevices to worry about.


Goal Zero: Easy to use portable solar power! I use the Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit and have no complaints. As one of the most rugged, durable, weatherproof phone and tablet rechargers on the market, this beauty really keeps up with my everyday life as well as my adventurous endeavors. With an IPX6 weatherproof rating and 7800mAh, the Venture is sure to keep everything running smoothly. Goal Zero believes in their potential to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere and in doing so, they empower people and encourage personal growth through putting reliable power in the hands of every human being, based on a mantra of Zero Apathy, Zero Boundaries, and Zero Regrets. An unfortunate event but great example of this fulfilling this mission comes into play in the March 2011 Tsunami in Japan; Goal Zero donated hundreds of lighting kits and solar panels to families in Japan who were without power as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. This is only a small portion of the good they do for those in need both in the United States and Out. Check out their website for more information on programs like Share the Sun, their collaboration with NRG and their disaster relief efforts.


Gregory Packs: In a desperate search for multi-day backpacking bags with some comfortability, some research helped us to decide on Gregory Packs and what a great decision it was! Our packs have proven to be durable, comfortable and able to carry everything we need for an extended overnight trip in the great outdoors.  Gregory packs is noted for their innovative design, ergonomic and comfortable fit, and their obsession with quality, comfort and durability. Founded by boy scout, Wayne Gregory, this backpack company was the first to build backpacks in different frame, harness and waist belt sizes; the first (and still only) pack manufacturer to develop a waist belt system that adjusts to fit different hip angles, instantly improving load transfer; and the first to develop the center-locking bar tack, a stitch that ends and locks off on the center of a seam instead of the side for increased strength at major stress points which helps Gregory stand up to its well-known standard of durability.

 


Hydro Flask: We completely fell in love with Hydro Flasks this year! Being Nalgene people for the last few years, we’ve certainly sacrificed cool water for lighter packing but since purchasing a few Hydroflasks we have been converted. Although I think I’d still prefer using strictly Nalgenes for an extended backpacking trip due to how much lighter they are, I’ve been bringing one Hydroflask and one Nalgene on all day hikes since I purchased them. My Hydro Flask will keep my water ice cold for 12+ hours, but chilled for upwards of 20 hours, and my warm beverages will stay hot for at least 8 hours but usually closer to 10. I love their bright colors, numerous styles, and array of lids so that you can mix and match to find what’s best for you!


Salomon: Thanks to a lovely gentleman at High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid, we fell in love with a pair of Salomon Hiking Boots. Thanks to this brand, mountain walking enthusiasts (AKA Hikers) will discover a selection of hiking footwear to meet all of their needs: comfort, protection, lightness, and more. Their footwear will take you as far as you wish to go, and further still! Also known for their epic trail running sneakers and apparel, Salomon has styles covering a wide variety of ‘mountain walking’; everything from winter hiking, to mountaineering, to recovery and more! We absolutely love our

Leave No Trace

After battling with the fact that the weather did not look promising enough to backpack 10+ miles into the heart of the High Peaks Region in an attempt to escape a majority of the complete and utter chaos of Columbus Day weekend in the Adirondacks, I took the break in the clouds as a sign to get up there for just a few hours of my Sunday.


We decided to hike two smaller mountains that we knew would provide us with both beautiful views and plenty of people. We sucked it up despite pulling into two completely full and overflowing trailheads and decided to make the best of it. Our two hikes up Black Bear Mountain and Bald Mountain were nothing short of beautiful but also inspired me to get on my high horse here for a minute to share some important information with anyone who wishes to adventure into the outdoors but especially those who want to explore in my favorite, close-to-home playground.

Leave No Trace

…is a set of principles that we outdoor junkies live by. There are seven items here that basically allow us to enjoy nature in her entirety in a sustainable way that significantly decreases and often avoids human-created impacts. They come from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics which are explained below.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare 

  • Know important information about the area you’ll visit. For example, in the Adirondack High Peaks region, there are a number of special concerns that you should be aware of before setting foot on the trail. Group size restrictions, no camping above 3,500/4,000 feet, no campfires in the eastern high peaks, and use of bear canisters are just a few of these special restrictions you should know.
  • Be prepared for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Just because you don’t plan to be out longer than planned doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use; for example, trying to hike in a less busy area when the hoards of ‘hikers’ flood the mountains.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Your large group not only does more damage to the trail itself due to widening, and/or just overuse but it tends to change the experience of the other hikers around you in a not so positive way due to sound pollution, less space, having to wait potentially behind a large group, etc.

2.  Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, or snow.
  • Protect water sources and wetland areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams; keep this in mind when doing your ‘business’ as well.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. In the Adirondacks, campsites are marked with a lean-to or tent marker for your convenience. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
    • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • One of the many items we found and packed out along the way. Where is the nearest Dunkin to the Adirondacks anyways!?

    Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept but for some reason it is… bring a plastic shopping bag or a ziplock baggie to dispose of your garbage into and just carry it all out with you! The Adirondacks is NOT a national park; you will not find garbage disposals at every trailhead or along the way like you might in a Yosemite or Yellowstone. You must carry out what you carried in (this includes TP and hygiene products; pro tip: duct tape a ziplock baggie so you don’t have to look inside).

  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Because no one wants to stumble upon your business when they go to do theirs.

    And glass cider bottles in the middle of the trail… just why? why would you?

  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater. <- Not even what I follow. If I want to clean myself it’s just the use of water in a stream or lake and a follow-up baby wipe on dry land. Dirty dishes? consume the grey water; cider/ cocoa/ coffee packet to drink the remains of your meal and leave NO TRACE behind for animals to find and infiltrate.

    4. Leave What You Find
  • Take only pictures and Leave only footprints. Seriously.
    5. Minimize Campfires 
  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry; even just the creation of a campfire if done improperly. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a solar powered lantern for nighttime light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings/pits and keep them small.
  • Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Dead, Down and Brown only!
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash and put out campfires completely before walking away from them for the night or for good.

    Like this little cutie, drawn to a summit full of people, due to what they’ve left behind. 

    6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. Especially wildlife that can be dangerous; I’ve come down off a backcountry trail to people literally running TOWARDS a bear by the river… dumb.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters their natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. For example, Yellow Yellow was a small, shy female black bear that had to be laid to rest because she became too interested in human food and activity and therefore deemed unsafe.
    • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. In the ADK High Peaks, there are specific Bear Canisters (called bear vaults) that you must use to store any scented items. They can be rented in many places but also purchased here; any purchase made from the link provided will provide me with a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. There are leash laws that differ depending on what part region of the Adirondacks you are in.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Don’t act like an idiot on the trail; ie. don’t leave your class or aluminum beer bottles and cans alongside the trail, don’t talk about repulsive or disgusting things, or use extensive foul language, don’t crowd someone who is already enjoying a specific spot, and don’t leave garbage behind for others to clean up.
  • Be courteous and yield to other users on the trail. If you are moving slowly, please move to the side and let people waiting behind you go ahead. When you come head to head with someone on the trail, communicate to see who would like to stop. When it comes to mountain hiking there are arguments for both sides; generally speaking, I stop if I’m descending because it’s tougher to pick momentum back up for those heading up, however, many groups will look at it as an opportunity to take a quick rest and they might wave me on. It’s much easier for me to start moving again then it is for them!
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. There is no need to yell and shout, or blare music along the trail or at the destination. Enjoy the company of nature and the ones you are with.

 

Please, please, PLEASE take these concepts into consideration before you venture out into the wilderness; whether you are 1 mile off the highway or 20, your actions make a difference.

Now I know that many of us who love the outdoors, and the Adirondacks specifically, follow these very important principles. This weekend, the weekend where the inexperienced and often, unappreciative, decide to take over nature by the masses, has shown me just how many clueless, selfish people there are who don’t care what they destroy just to get the views, the photos and the stories they’re searching for.

 

Parks Project, ‘Leave it Better than you Fount it’ bracelet