Tuesday, July 2, 2013


There is a lookout between Muir Woods and Stinson Beach, off of California’s Highway 1, where I usually go to watch the sunset after I finish hiking in the area.  This spot has become a tradition for me to go to. It casts some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. The colors that emerge from the skies in the area on a clear day are indescribable and almost foreign to the eye. The water takes on the color of the sky, changing and blending from one color to the next. On one special day I was lucky enough to capture a photo of the sky almost completely red and yellow and the water a shade of orange that can’t be described. It was beautiful and will be something that I will never forget.
“There was something about that day. The sky was not the same. I felt sadness as I gazed up to the heavens. A dark shadow was among the flurry. The white clouds became the canvas for the sky; every shade of red and yellow imaginable came to life, blanketing the shadows casted by the darkness coming in.”

Monday, May 6, 2013

A few pictures from my last hike to Muir Woods.  These were taken throughout the day, the first in the morning, the second in the afternoon and the last in the evening. These pictures are also featured in my new online magazine Householdthree

Alice's Path to Wonder 

Tree of Life

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hiking 101

Each time I have set up a hiking trip, I always have the same questions asked: What do I wear? What do I bring? Do I need hiking gear...etc.?  So this post is dedicated to answering frequently asked questions along with some helpful tips.

Leave No Trails!
The one thing I always remember that my guide told me once was, “When hiking leave no trails.” You want to leave the trail as it was when you arrived. This means absolutely no littering!  Even if it is biodegradable, for example an orange peel, don’t do it. This is for two reasons. One, you want to keep the trails and parks clean. Two, the wildlife won’t appreciate trash in their “home.” You wouldn’t want someone to come to your territory and trash it. Would you? So be kind, courteous and respect your surroundings. 
TIP: Bring an old grocery bag or a large ziploc bag and put your garbage in there until you find a trash can. Most parks have trash cans available and placed strategically around the trails.
Noise Pollution
“Go lightly…and listen to the heartbeat of the earth.”  Nothing is worse than going on a hike and all you hear are human voices. Respect others and keep your talking voice at a low volume (use your library voice).  You just might enjoy the sound of nature.
TIP: DO NOT wear headphones on a hike. You want to be alert at all times and be able to hear what is going around you. 
Clothing and Basics
You do not need to go and invest in expensive hiking gear. However, there are the essential items that one must have. If I had to choose one item to invest in it would be a pair of hiking shoes or boots. There are some really good quality hiking boots you can find for under $30. Tennis shoes can be worn however be sure they have a really good sole and grip.
Since most hikes start in the morning and end in the afternoon, unless it’s an overnight hike, you will want to layer your clothes to be prepared for the change of weather throughout the day.  If you hike during the cold months as opposed to the warmer months then you also want to dress accordingly. The one rule of thumb for clothing is avoid cotton (t-shirts are okay).  Even though polyester died in the 70’s, it really never left the hiking world. Synthetic or polyester clothing is always appropriate.  
Basic gear and clothing:

·         Backpack, lumbar pack or fanny pack (a must)
·         Appropriate footwear (hiking boots or trail shoes)
·         Walking stick or trekking poles (optional)
·         Hat or visor
·         Quick drying or waterproof shorts or pants (no cotton)
·         Waterproof long sleeve top
·         Quick drying T-shirt (polyester or synthetic)
·         Windbreaker jacket or lightweight rain coat
·         Socks (wool or wool blend) 
10 Essentials of Hiking
1.   A Plan- You should never hike without a plan.  Plan your route, check the local weather, get trail conditions, and notify a friend, relative, neighbor, or ranger of your plans. 
TIP: Stick to your plan.
2.   Map and Compass- Even if you have hiked a trail a hundred times, you should carry a map and compass. Unexpected trail closures, an injury, bad weather, or animal encounter can all result in a sudden change of plans. Almost every state and national park provides hiking maps of trails for free or a small fee.
TIP: Every once in while check your map to make sure you are in the right direction (if you do not see any signs).You can also print free maps online on the park’s website.
3.   Whistle-The sound of a whistle travels much further than your voice. This comes in handy when in an emergency situation.  When walking through bear country you can blow on it to alert the bears that you are passing through.  You can also use it to communicate with others in your group, say some one is too far ahead, or falling behind.
TIP: Carry your whistle around your neck, and not in your pack.
4.   Water and a way to purify it-Without enough water, our muscles and organs cannot perform as well. You do not want to deal with dehydration while on a hike.
TIP: Carry water purifying pills just in case you run out water and need to purify water from a lake, river or stream. DO NOT drink unpurified water.
5.   Extra Food-A number of things can go wrong and cause a detour which can keep you out longer than expected. A few ounces of extra food can go a long way.
TIP: Mixed nuts are always good to carry. They are light weight, don’t take up too much room and will give you the nutrients your body needs.
6.  Rain Gear and Extra Clothing-The weather forecast says it will be a nice and sunny day. You get to the park and it’s raining. But that is okay because you came prepared.
TIP: DO NOT bring an umbrella. It takes up room and when hiking you do not want your view blocked.
7.   Firestarter and matches-I always carry a pack of matches and a lighter. You might need to start a fire to keep warm and fire is always a good signal for help.
TIP: You can purchase a firestarter kit at any sporting goods store.
8.   First Aid Kit-A good first aid kit does not have to be large, elaborate, or expensive.  The basic kit should include antiseptic wipes, band-aids, cotton balls, sterile pads, gauze, tape, pain reliever (Aspirin or Tylenol) and Benadryl should be carried for insect bites or stings.
TIP: Free First Aid kits and Classes are offered by some hiking organizations and parks.
9.   Pocket Knife or multi-purpose tool- A pocket knife can have a million uses in the field as the need arises. 
TIP: Carry your pocket knife on you and not in your pack.
10.  Flashlight-This can be helpful if you are hiking in the dark or signaling for help.
TIP: Carry extra batteries. 

I hope the information and tips provided will be helpful. These are just a few and very general bits of information to have. Please be sure to plan accordingly based on where and what type of hike you are planning. Day hikes as opposed to overnight hikes do not have the same requirements. The best tool we have is common sense. Use it!
If you have any further questions feel free to ask.
Happy Trails!