Category Archives: Nature

[Traveling Tales] Take it to the Top: Conquering Gray’s Peak Trail

Standard

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, tree, outdoor, nature and water

“You might not find any wifi in the forest, but I promise you’ll find a better connection”

For the better part of the last decade,  any weekend with time to spare and sun to catch magically evolved into a festival fueled adventure somewhere along the West Coast.  Over the last few years, our festival family reunion and pre-Summer kickoff was Lightning in a Bottle – delightfully and delectably getting us ready for the rest of festival season.  When the time came this year to figure out where we wanted to lounge lavishly and enjoy each others company, we took a long hard look at the growth we’ve elicited from ourselves at Lighting in a Bottle – which comes easily when you’re surrounded by the prismatic love, light and laughter of the event.  Each year, though challenging for individually unique reasons, provided the perfect platform to acknowledge myself in the moment and grow from it.  Paired with sweeping landscapes and myriads of magical music, I almost dare you not to be moved – because I have been, over and over and over again.

Even as I describe what we didn’t experience this year, I feel blessed and gifted with my past experiences.  As I marinate in my own newfound maturity, I amuse myself in what I’ve become – knowing full well that growth is synonymous with growing pains, and I effectively feel like I’ve graduated from a phase of my life, and of myself.   All together, these thoughts synthesized themselves in a way that made me opt for a new journey for Memorial day this time around the sun. So, instead of feverishly packing our apartment to fit inside a tent, we packed an overnight bag and it was off, off and away to Big Bear for a weekend of sun and fun with a few friends that have become a hell of a lot more like family over the last few years.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, shorts, shoes, sky, outdoor and nature

Just a hop, skip and a few hour drive into San Bernadino, Big Bear already sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000′ – even before you head out on your hike or snow inspired romp through the woods, and has a little bit of something for everyone – granted that everyone’s a bit of a nature nut.   We might have cut our lodging options short by not planning our trip until literally three days before the weekend, but thanks to AirBnB finding an a beautiful place to stay  – fully equipped with patios and a hot tub on a budget – was super easy.

After to getting into town late Friday night, on Saturday morning the group made a bomb little breakfast and got to packing for our hike.  Several sandwiches, a few mixed drinks and some salacious snackables later and we were off, off and away for what turned out to be an intense but well worth it hike up Gray’s Peak Trail.   All together, the hike up Gray’s Peak is about Seven Miles each way with 1300′ to climb in elevation.  One thing we didn’t know beforehand, but damn well are sure of now: at about 8000′ in elevation is when people start toying with altitude sickness and at approximately 8300′ – at times, you could really tell that we weren’t in Kansas at sea level anymore.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, outdoor, nature and water

Even though the few websites we found on the hike claimed that it was great for kids, my friends and I can attest that those kids must be jacked up on Mountain Dew because we all had our collective asses handed to us.  There were a lot of fun ‘turnouts’ – if that’s what they’re even called if you’re not in a car – that got us to jump off the beaten path and forge our own trail, but in a respectful way – of course.  There were a few places with tiny streams, stemming from the base of the mountain and loads of little lizards running amuck every which way.  Near 8k’, you could tell that the trees were starting to be weathered under the altitude but that all changed when you got near the pinnacle, it literally felt like you’d walked through a portal and into Fern Gully.   There’s a couple things that make this a Summer hike in my book – like the incline and the potential weather, but it also turns out that the trailhead is closed for public use between December and April because it’s in the middle of a bald eagle wintering habitat area – how effing neat!

Packing Pro Tips

Make sure everyone has enough water, and a backpack between two people is perfect.  Layers, extra socks, hiking shoes cause you want your ankles.

Things I’ve learned as a novice hiker, but expert adventurer:

  • Cameras are always a must, sure your phone has one – but point and shoots are fun, too! Make sure you take at least one group photo before you head up the trail and into the sweat zone – yeah, now you get it.  Extra points if you remember to bring a collapsible tripod – you’ll really be your groups MVP, most valuable photographer.
  • Your phone has a compass on it, don’t be afraid to use it – but also, put that thing away and enjoy the hike!
  • Hydration is key, super key. Drinking and hiking is fun, but in the Summer it’s not the smartest – make sure you’ve got enough water for the walk up, and the walk back; plus, being more hydrated makes the drunk more fun – if you’re into that type of thing 😉
  • A bag per every two people is appropriate, that way you can also switch off with carrying duty – make sure you toss in some sammies and full bars for meals, and for snackables both nuts and dried fruit have a lot of protein.  Last, but not least if you’re weird like me and don’t really enjoy chewing – throw in a few ensures to top it off.
  • Everybody loves layers – especially for hikes.  Bring an change of socks in case you encounter water, shorts / pants depending on what you start off in and a hoodie.
  • Do a gut check with everyone before the hike starts and make sure everyone’s comfortable with the adventure ahead, you never know who’s in super great shape, or who might have some hesitations about an all day excursion.
  • Leaves of three, let them be. Poison Oak is no joke and usually it’s kept off the trail – if you’re like me and like to forge your own path, know what it looks like…or better yet, just wear pants.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

For more on Big Bear, head to their website or social channels:

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

 

 

[LA Life] Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Scenic Highway

Standard

Image may contain: sky, mountain, plant, cloud, nature and outdoor

Mother’s Day Weekend is a special weekend, a fruitful time for family and a fitting occasion to embrace the divine feminine, and within that – our true Mother – Earth, Nature, Gaia – if you will.  As Danny and I gallivanted away this past weekend to go spend some quality time with his mom in Lancaster, we had (what we considered) a brilliant idea: instead of taking the 14, let’s take a leisurely drive through the Angeles Crest Highway.  And what a magical adventure that became.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

The Angeles Crest Highway is often referred to as the ‘Highway to the Heavens‘, and in my opinion – rightfully so: just one cruise through it’s winding trails, your car eagerly hugging the curves and you’ll be confused if you’re still in Los Angeles, let alone California – or the United States.  At times, the drive reminded me of Zion, my fiance kept thinking of the Grand Canyon and it’s easy to think that you’ve instantly been transported to the Swiss Alps or somewhere picturesque in the South of France.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Considered one of the most beautiful non-coastal drives in the United States, the Angeles Crest Highway spans the northern most portion of California State Route 2, reaching from the the tip of Los Angeles County in La Cañada-Flintridge to Wrightwood in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Wander along the winding roads and you’ll find picturesque views of every angle of Los Angeles from the ridge-line of the Angeles National Forest.

The area is befit with a rich history that dates back to the turn of the 19th Century, and boasts plenty of turnouts with epic views, and hiking trails for those willing to adventure. And with nature just off of a stunning Superbloom season – or as I’d like to think of it, still marinating in the tail end of it, the hills are currently lush with bright yellow, violet and pink blooms.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest HighwayStopping literally at every turn out we could – because, why not?! – we quite accidentally took a hearty nature break where Mill Creek intersects with the scenic byway.  As Danny found himself enamored by the tunnel born out of the mountain slabs, we were stopped in our literal tracks by the serene sounds of a bubbling brook. Danny eagerly clamored down the hill, reveling in the diamond in the rough that we just discovered – I was busy freezing in my flip flops, overthinking my way down to the water’s edge. After negotiating, and then poorly navigating my way down – spoiler alert: I slipped several times anyways – it was absolutely worth it.

Because we live in the wonderful Mediterranean climate of Southern California, it’s pretty much always a good time to go for a drive on the Angeles Crest Highway, but during the winter months (and some awkward days of June gloom), the snow can shut down parts of the mountain pass and the fog induced poor visibility is actually terrifying – just trust me on that one.  So, before you hop in your car and ride away into the sunset – make sure you check the road conditions to ensure a smooth, beautiful drive.

There’s something absolutely sacred about the way a car hugs a tight turn along a scenic cruise, whipping the soul around to enjoy a palpable, panoramic landscape in a heartbeat; albeit I think the windows should be down and music up to take full advantage of the moment – but who am I to tell another soul how to enjoy a leisurely, weekend drive.

Take a peek at my recent adventures on Flickr!

For more on the Angeles Crest Highway, peruse their website and social media channels – or just take yourself out for a spin; trust me, it’s worth it – and you can thank me later.

Website | Facebook


Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

[LA Life] Say Yay to Snow Days!

Standard

Halfway between a creature of habit and victim of circumstance are a multitude of reasons that I’ve barely ever visited the snow.  Growing up as a swimmer in the Bay Area, I loved the sun and water more ways than I could count; while on family vacations we constantly favored beautiful beaches with their sandy waves over the glistening snow-capped mountains.  I barely ever made it to the snow as a child and can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen it in person.  Not to mention, I can be quoted as saying “I’m a Image may contain: tree, snow and outdoor‘Hawaii’ kind of girl” more times than I can count, because bless my parents – they still like to remind me of all those years before I turned into such a nature nymph. To them, it’s any wonder that I’ve turned from a self-professed city kitty into a rough(er) and tumble(r) snow bunny, but here I am – ready for business, and by business I mean nature-inspired personal pleasure.

One of the many, many fantastic things about living in Los Angeles (Southern California…and just California in general),  is that on any given day you can make a trip to the sand or a trip to the snow; if you’re feeling frisky, you can even get a delightful dose of both! Beach days, though beautiful, are proverbially a dime a dozen in the land of palm trees, blue skies and power lines and let’s get real – everyone flocks to the sandy shores: your housemates, your neighbor, your landlord, celebrities and vacationers all come for the beach – which makes hitting those pearly slopes significantly sweeter.  There are near trips and far trips, day trips and trips you should probably make a whole weekend out of. Don’t quote me on exact travel times because, HELLO Los Angeles traffic, but if you’re in the mood for a fantastic day trip – Mt Baldy and the defunct Mt Waterman Ski Lifts make for excellent treks and are just an hour outside of LA proper in the San Gabriel Mountains, while Big Bear in the San Bernadino National Forest is a little over two hours away.  If you’re feeling like an adventure is in the works, Sequoia National Forest is a few hours away and makes for an epic Winter weekend journey.

Pack + Play

For as fun as a snow day is, being fully prepared for your snow day will make things go a hell of a lot smoother (and, warmer!). First things first, make sure you have enough hydration and nutrition to last the day – and then some.  Make some sandwiches, grab some snacks get a good combination of both salty and sugary foods; in case anyone’s body starts going into a bit of shock – it’ll bring them right back! When it comes to water, even though the weather might be a big frightful and frigid, it doesn’t mean your body isn’t working overtime – especially if you head out on a hike.  Make sure you have twice as much as you think you need, and enough for any pups (or, brave cats!) that are along for the ride. Just like in the movie Shrek, when it comes to clothes in the cold – it’s all about layers, so snag a scarf, get a beanie, and a hoodie – or two; if you’ve got fur, this is the perfect time to rock it.  Because of the nature of snow, if you’ve got waterproof pants, socks and or shoes, bring ’em out. Basically, waterproof everything is a plus – GoPro, iPhone 7, you name it – it’s perfect for the snow.  Also, booze…responsible boozing also makes the snow a whole lot more fun.


[Nature Is Nurture] This Friday, Green Is The New Black

Standard

greentnb.jpg

Dear 2016, there might only be five weeks left of you but I have a feeling these are going to be the longest five weeks ever.  Despite the fact I have my first true health diagnosis in three months, the icecaps aren’t melting, the world feels slightly post-apocalyptic and our president-elect is #notmypresident. It can’t just be me that feels an extrasensory burden of the cosmic consciousness, wrapped around life like a wet blanket; sometimes, it really did feel like David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman held together the fabric of the cosmos.

In just a few days, Thanksgiving will be here – but this year feels so very different feel than other years. Whether it’s the post-election depression that the country has seemingly been swimming in, the horrific actions against the protestors at Standing Rock, or the lack of chill between your neighbors tearing down their Halloween decorations and fast-forwarding right to the Christmas cheer – this moment, this moment right now feels different; it feels manufactured and store-bought instead of well-loved and handed down gently. And in a sense, that’s all Black Friday truly is: a day of fabricated happiness and discounted opulence masquerading as necessities for people who, no less than 12 hours before, were proclaiming how thankful they were for all that they had. Instead of rushing to the mall this Friday – think outside of the box and into the great outdoors where Green is the new Black, especially for you California locals out there. Spearheaded by the Save The Redwoods League and in conjunction with the California State Parks and the California State Parks foundation, the Green Friday initiative invites Californians near and far to venture to the state’s wonderful parks with their loved ones and enjoy themselves some nature.

img_0350-1

Spearheaded by the Save The Redwoods League and in conjunction with the California State Parks and the California State Parks foundation, the Green Friday initiative invites Californians near and far to venture to the state’s wonderful parks with their loved ones and enjoy themselves some nature. Enjoy high-quality time and high caliber conversations surrounded by the epic beauty and dramatic landscapes from the coast to the mountains of California.  Green Friday supplies access to one of California’s 116 state parks with a free day use pass so you don’t have to pay the $12 fee – instead, think of donating that $12 to a worthy cause like Standing Rock, the World Wildlife Fund or any number amazing organizations. The parking passes are first come first serve, and many parks are selling out – meaning you might even make a new best friend!  To get your green on in California this Friday, simply head to the  Green Friday website and get down on that web search.  If you’re not located in California, never fear – REI is continuing their #OptOutside campaign, this time with a little bit of help from the folks at Subaru and Google.

For more information on the California State Parks + Foundation, Save The Redwoods and Green Friday, head to their socials:

Save The Redwoods: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Blog

California State Parks Foundation: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Blog

California State Parks: www.parks.ca.gov | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Blog

img_8397

Sequoia BK-32

[Nature is Nurture] Stand Up For Mother Earth, Stand with Standing Rock

Standard

If you’re keen enough, smart enough, on a mission enough – you might find them hiding between lines of sexual misconduct, email scandals, and personality flaws during this perverse and conflicting election season.  You’ll catch a glimpse of them as the scurry from the darkness into the light, more often than not you’ll find them neglected or negated, swept under rugs or just simply brushed aside – what are they, you might ask? Well, they’re facts. They’re the real issues and real problems that you’re somehow not being bombarded with because the news is controlled by media companies so succinctly feeding the press stories – not truths – that it becomes hard to tell who the chicken and the egg are.  Image result for who owns the media infographicBut at least you can admit, to a point – they’re both clucking mad.

According to an infographic from 2011  that’s since gone viral, in just under twenty years – the media has gone from being owned by 50 different companies to just six by 2011: GE, News Corp, News-Corpiacom, Time Warner and CBS.  Based on the recent merger between AT&T and Time Warner, you better believe that number is only going to get smaller over time – and that’s downright terrifying.  One conglomerate to control them all could (unfortunately) make sense in a fascist dictatorship, or under communist rule – but we have either an oligarchy or plutocracy that masquerades around as a “democracy” – which makes it all the more terrifying how much “they” control the “news“.  Because let’s face it, whether locally, nationally or globally – news continually slips through the cracks while the semblance of a political psycho-circus is always lurking just around the corner.  More often than not, I find both media outlets, as well as my peers, are consumed with what consider to be the wrong issues.  Right now for me, that issue is the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For those with a terrible short-term memory, back in 2011 – there were ample protests against the cross-continent implementation of the Keystone Pipeline XL.  An extension of the Keystone pipeline that would stretch from the oil fields in Alberta, Canada all the way down into Texas.  The cliff notes version: Alberta’s TransCanada energy company wanted a pipeline to travel to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, which would bring 830k barrels of oil through a day.  Through much protest (that America heard very little about) the motion was passed in Canada.  Their intention was to piggyback on the existing Keystone pipeline, which was given a green light by George Bush in 2008.  The new XL pipeline would instead carry tar sands oil: a heavier, more corrosive and more carbon intensive oil than the conventional oil. Translation: less ecofriendly, more emissions, more pollution – and more of a mess to clean up.

The almost 1200 mile pipeline was set to disrupt wildlife while pushing out indigenous tribes that have lived in synchronicity with the land for eons.  The pipeline was raising more questions than answers, increasing our carbon footprint and forcing climate change as we frack for crude oil instead of searching for more eco-conscious and sustainable solutions. The ideology behind the XL pipeline was so terrible that troves of tree huggers, nature lovers and generational leaders came out of the woodwork in protest –  including most notably the president of the Sierra Club, who broke their 120 year stance on civil disobedience to drive their point home.  Though a Republican Senate passed the Keystone Pipeline approval act, President Obama thankfully rejected the decision in 2015.

But that was Keystone XL, and this is the Dakota Access Pipeline.  So, what’s different now? For starters, not much – and that, in my opinion, is the first problem.  Since the industrial revolution, humans have continually trolled the land, stealing and pilaging what we can from it without giving much, if anything, in return.  The DAPL proposes to take crude oil from currently untapped regions Bakken Oil Pipeline that are estimated to hold upwards of 7 billion barrels of oil. The problem with pipelines, as we’ve seen in the past, are the ways they can burst, break and wreak havoc on their surrounding environment, creating unlivable human conditions and decimate any semblance of animal life.  As the pipeline is currently drawn, it would drive itself into the heart of the Sioux Indian Tribal Lands, disrupting the way of life of not just the native human population – but the continually dwindling animal population as well.  And speaking of animal population, it feels like they’re listening – just watch this video of Bison travel down to Standing Rock to give their energy, and then remember how large packs of bison actually used to be.  This is our doing, this is is our destrution, this is humanity’s Midas touch -and we pour salt in our own wounds on the daily.

It’s a shame that so many of us believe that the earth is theirs to inherit, it’s not ours, the same way it was never our grandparents, or their parents before them – this land belongs to my great granddaughters who I’ll never meet, and their great granddaughters and so forth. Our time here is a continual investment in the future, not a past debt owed to us that we can exploit over, and over again.  According to the World Wildlife Foundation’s biennial Living Planet Report, in the last fifty years the marine life has been decimated by 36%,  terrestrial populations have declined by 38% and freshwater popluations have shrunk an abhroent 81%. They project that in the next fifth years almost 2/3 of the wildlife in the world will go extinct for a various number of reasons, most of them manmade: climate change, pollution and the destruction of the animal’s natural habit; a hat trick of terror that humans have enacted onto the world that we simply can’t turn back the clock on – but we can stop ourselves from getting greedy with the planet and going overboard.

Ways to Help

Sign The Petition 

Start small but think big.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to think of one voice as being strong, loud and resonant above all else – but then you’re stuck in a room with a mosquito and it all clicks.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the signed petition gets heard: thankfully, the White House petition exceeded the number of signatures necessary against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but there’s a second petition  here through Credo Action that could also use some love.

Donate

The first thing everyone thinks of when they see the word donate is money.  Yes, money helps – but so do supplies, blankets, food and water.To donate directly to the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock, head here.

Make a Visit.

For all the wonder and splendor that the United States has to offer, I never once thought I’d put North Dakota on my travel bucket list – but until now, I’ve never been so crystal clear on what could actually affect change in our world.

Facebook Activism

Though I’m typically not a proponent of Facebook activism per say, in this case – it can do wonders to disrupt, dismantle and discombobulate the network of decision making by authorities.  Though the tactic is currently under investigation by Snopes as to its actual validity, checking in at Standing Rock on Facebook  is a wonderful gesture to demonstrate your solidarity, not to mention a rallying cry to get others in the know.

The earth is much more than nature – it’s nurture, and it’s time for us to protect and love the earth the same way she has loved us.  Stand up for Mother Nature – stand up for Standing Rock.

pipeline

[LA Life] A Gloomy June Afternoon In Ernest E Debs Park

Standard

This past weekend the all too timely June Gloom hit Southern California, but that didn’t stop Danny and I from adventuring off into the great outdoors and exploring a nearby park that’s been on our bucket list.  As it turns out, there are actually upwards of 200 beautiful landscapes, parks and hiking trails scattered throughout the previously presumed concrete jungle of Los Angeles.  The parks themselves cover nearly 24,000 acres of land and are the perfect destination for those looking to romp, roam, rock and roll their souls all over the city.  Over the last few months, we’ve done some due diligence in the great outdoors, exploring the nooks and crannies of diversely delicious landscapes around the city from Cahuenga Peak and Point Dume to Lincoln Park and Griffith Park, so this time – we thought we’d keep it local and see what we could discover in our backyard.


For the last few weeks, Danny’s been raving about this wonderful outlook where you’re served a stunning 360 view of the city – including the skyscrapers of downtown (when it’s a clear day, that is) – and when I heard there was a little lake on top of the hill, I was sold; it was off, off and away on a Sun-date adventure to Ernest E Debs Regional Park in the heart of East Los Angeles.  Open every day from dawn through dusk, the park is never staffed and boasts a bevvy of picnic tables and BBQ fits perfect for parties and public use, and yeah – a gorgeous lake with lots of  little fish for those inclined to take their gear for a spin – and it’s smack dab middle of the city!  

As it turns out – that “little walk” up the hill to the lake has a pretty impressive incline, it’s short, sweet and way worth it…but don’t say you weren’t warned.  On our way up, as we stopped to catch our breath, we noticed a few black and white snails – and then a few more….and all of a sudden, we realized that there were literally hundreds of them swarming the plants.  I’ve never seen so many snails in one place!  If they could move quickly, I might have been a little nervous about the whole ordeal but I mean an infestation of snails is one of the least aggressive infestations I’ve personally ever heard of (or, seen, for that matter).

For more information on Ernest P Debs Park, head to their website or socials – or if you’re local to the Los Angeles area, just drop what you’re doing and pay the park a visit; I mean, when was the last time you took a real lunchbreak outside?  If you’re curious how your local parks stack up to the rest, take a gander at ParkScore.  A sucker for my city’s walkability, Park Score gives you a metric based, analytical overview of your favorite public spaces.  Give it a whirl!

Website | LA Parks |  Yelp | Facebook

[Oh, Snap] Eagle Rockin’ and Eagle Walkin’ V10

Standard

 

Spring has most certainly sprung in Los Angeles and though the weather can seem a bit finicky at times, the neighborhood mornings have been beyond lovely and have given me ample inspiration to restart my “workout routine”; whatever that means.  But, between a three months of unlimited membership at One Down Dog, the local yoga studio to Eagle Rock, and the LA Fitness in Pasadena – something has to give….eventually…maybe.  Until then, I’ll enjoy my morning frolics outside, breathing in the fresh(ish) air of the city and filling my soul with the hearty buzz of the city.  The flowers are blooming, the sun’s up early – not to mention, I’m up with the sun.  I smell some big things brewing for the rest of the year and I’m excited for what’s to come.

Is that a painting? Nope! We found a mirror on our morning jaunt and it made for some fun photos of the town.

These last few pics aren’t necessarily of Eagle Rock, but they’re a few of my favorites that I’ve taken lately and they go to show just how beautiful it really is right now in each and every corner of the city.