Social Media and Hiking: Two Worlds Merged Into One

We have all been witnessed to the GoPro craze that has swept the outdoors community. You can’t go out on a hike, to the beach, or almost anywhere outside without seeing someone having a stick in their hand with a GoPro on the end of it. I was even approached by a seasoned hiker last week who told me that the camera in my hand makes the trail no better than a road. I use to believe that bringing technology out on trail took away from the scenery and the experience. The only form of technology I would bring for the longest time was a camera, at most. Now I have a GPS, which I use to Geocache, and if my buddies from Born 2 Explore come along we have a GoPro. What change? Was it me or is it the world? The answer to this question is both. I have become accepting to the change and the world has come engulfed into technology and social media.

I know most hikers are probably rolling their eyes and shaking their heads right about now because they think the idea of social media and hiking being connected is ridiculous. If you look at your Twitter or Facebook feed you will realize the majority of the post aren’t statements or blog post they are pictures and videos. Social media users are using GoPros, cameras, and their IPhones to share their experiences and to grab the attention of strangers and friends on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These devices capture and show the fun, joy, and surrealism that is experienced while hiking, in a way that could not be done before.

There are a lot of through hikers and traditional hikers who are against this and look down on these activities because they think it takes away from being in nature. What they don’t realize is these devices can keep the outdoors wild and prevent the evasion of man into the wild. By taking pictures and videos of your hikes and sharing them creates interest in the youth and brings them into the wild. We need as many hikers as we can get to be passionate and out on trail. Without a strong populated group, trails around the country will be built on and destroyed because there was not a strong enough voice to be heard.

Now I think I have gotten your attention and you are starting to see that the social age might not be as bad as you thought. You are a part of it even if you don’t want to be. You are engulfed in it right now by reading this blog. Instead of bad mouthing it and fighting it, be a part of it.

Now that you are in the Social World, choosing your tool to engage with non-hikers is an important choice. I prefer using still photography. On every hike I bring a camera that fits in my pocket, as well as, my phone. The combination of these two devices allows me to take action shots, panoramic pictures, and never a selfie. I know others like GoPros and taking videos but, I still believe more is told by a picture than through a video. IMG_2343

Share your photos and videos with me and everyone for that matter. I would love to see the places you have traveled, they inspire me and will inspire others to enter the wild. All it takes is one step into a new world to change someone’s life forever. It is up to you to give them that push.

Happy Trekking

Videos are attributed to Born 2 Explore 

Photo is my own

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Mt. Rose

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No matter where you are in Reno, if you look towards the southwest you will see a face of a women looking over you. The face is imprinted on Mt. Rose the largest peak in Washoe County, Nevada, which stands at a elevation of 10,789 feet. Mt. Rose is an extinct volcano that separates Reno from Lake Tahoe. This is not the mountain where Mt. Rose Ski Resort is located (Slide Mountain), but welcomes visitors to its ground 365 days of the year. Due to the mountains elevation the majority of the precipitation is snow. This causes the peak to hold some form of snow majority of the year, even during the dry Nevada summers. Don’t let the height of the mountain intimidate you. Mt. Rose is one of the best hikes in the Reno area.

The trail to Mt Rose starts around 8,000 ft. and is 12 miles out and back. If you are brave you can start at the base of the mountain, 5,500 ft., and free hike up the mountain. I have done this once and it was very challenging and terrifying at some points. I recommend you take the trail your first time . The trail provides a good workout, it is challenging, has many natural sights, and is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

If you are starting from the trail, you will pull off at the parking lot just past the Mt. Rose Ski Resort if you are heading west towards Lake Tahoe on Highway 431. The trail is just west of the parking lot. The first 1.2 miles are very flat and you will be traveling through meadows and forest.IMG_1867 Three miles in you will come to a waterfall. This is the end point for the majority of hikers and is a great place to cool off on a hot day.

You will go right at the waterfall traveling through a tall grass meadow. Once you are through the meadow be prepared to start heading up hill. The next 3-4 miles are straight up and you will traveling through multiple switch backs. Once you are three-quarters of the way up the mountain the trail changes from easy footing dirt to extremely rocky. Be careful at this point and watch your footing. You will hike another half a mile and will reach the two peaks on the mountain. Go to the second one it is less busy and slightly higher. You will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Reno, Washoe, Carson, Truckee, and Lake Tahoe. IMG_1898This is the tallest mountain in the area and allows you on a clear day to see the tip of Mt. Shasta 200 miles away. Be careful on the way down and watch your footing.

If you are looking for a good climb in the Reno-Tahoe area you will not find a better hike than Mt. Rose. If you know of another good peak to climb nearby please let me know. In honor of Earth Day this week, EVERYONE go for a hike this weekend.

Happy Trekking

Photos are my own

Poles or No Poles

Poles or no poles that is the question. We have all seen those hikers on day hikes who have trekking poles or a walking stick. I don’t know about you but I have always asked myself what is the point? Why would I bring a ski pole hiking? Being young and a natural hiker, I have never used poles before because I think they are useless. I have recently been told by a few thru hikers that poles are a necessity for hikes like the PCT and the AT. So I have decided to do my research and give them a try.

how to use trekking polesFirst what I have gathered so far there are many positives for using trekking poles but these positives don’t come at a cost. Trekking poles mainly help improve balance and reduce strain on knees during your descents. They also help create a rhythm while walking and can be used for bushwhacking. For a person who has bad knees, like me, and who hikes in mountain enviroments, also like me, these seem to be a great tool. If used properly they have many advantages for a hiker and can increase the distance you travel per day.

Now for the negatives. Just as I thought they are a unneccesary, they add extra weight, and consume more energy. Although poles can increase the distance you travel they will cause you to use more calories because they involve your upper body muscles. In addition, poles can be dangerous if aren’t used properly especially when hiking uphill. Many hikers who use poles when hiking up hill lean over on their poles thinking this will make it easier. It actually takes your legs , your stongest muscles, out of it and makes the suspension system in your pack worthless.

I still was not satisfied with my research and decided I had to try them out for myself. I used them on a quick 7 mile round trip hike in the Galena Forest. This trail had sections that were uneven, flat, uphill, and downhill. I used a pair of collapsible Black Diamond trekking poles during the entire hike with a 40 lbs pack on. I found during the downhill sections of the hike, these were amazing. My knee felt no pain and had no soreness after the hike. They were also great to use while crossing a large creek on the hike. I however did not see a benefit to use them while hiking on flat uneven ground or while going up hill.

I am still unsure if I will purchase or use trekking poles on the PCT but I have developed a new appreciation for them. They serve as a great tool when traveling downhill for a long period of time. If I can find an efficient way to grab and store them on my pack without stopping I will probably use them. I will definitely keep testing them out before I come to a conclusion. Let me know whether or not you use poles and if you think they are beneficial or not.

Happy Trekking

Photo attributed to Active

Mt. Judah

Sugar Bowl is one of the top ski resorts in Lake Tahoe. It consist of four peaks (Crows Peak, Mt. Disney, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Judah) During the winter these mountains provides some of the best terrain for skiers and boarders. As the snow begins to melt and grass starts to sprout the mountains transform from a skiing haven to a gateway for the PCT. One of the best side hikes in the area is the Mt. Judah Loop.

Mt Judah loop is listed as a 5.5 mile loop but it is really more like 6.5 miles from the trail head. You start the trail at the PCT near Angle Lake just east of Sugar Bowl. This is not a highly populated area of the PCT and you shouldn’t see a lot of local hikers. Walking south bound on the PCT you will come across a intersection .5 mile down the trail. Make sure to take a right. If you go left you will continue on the PCT and by pass the Northern Tahoe Rim and Mt. Judah.

IMG_0187The loop is rated as a moderate hike, which seems accurate. There are a few steep areas on the trail but nothing major. The trail starts off with multiple rocky switch backs that lead you into the Sugar Bowl Ski Area. Once you reach the ski area you will you take the toll road which starts the loop. I recommend going left at this point and taking the loop clockwise because it is slightly more challenging. Plus, for me at least, You will see more of the scenery going up the hill then down. You will go through multiple meadows an forest during your ascent.

Prior to reaching the peak of Mt. Judah you have the option to take a short detour to Donnor Peak. This brings you to a great lookout over Donner Lake. Mt. Judah also has beautiful panoramic view which includes Donner, Tahoe, Castle Ridge, and forest. This is a great place to stop and have lunch and if you have a dog there is plenty of safe areas for them to explore.IMG_1219

The descent takes you down the backside of the mountain and is very secluded from civilization. Look out for wildlife here. I was lucky enough to see a few deer. The backside of the mountain trail is also very narrow. Be careful with your dogs and your footing.

Mt. Judah is one of the better hikes in the Truckee area. It is a trail that everyone can do and is not as busy as the Hunter Creek Trail and other hikes in the Reno-Tahoe area. If you know of any other hikes in the Truckee area please let me know. In addition check out my personal branding video in the About Me section.

Photos are my own

Traditions

As the days get longer and the weather gets warmers we know summer is just around the corner. This is the sign that hiking season is in full swing. Thru hikers are starting their journeys up and down both coast and are about to change their lives forever. I am jealous of these individuals. As I sit in my cubicle working through financial statements, I am left her dreaming of being out on trail with them. This has caused me to read more and more about through hiking and its culture. One of the most interesting parts of the hiking culture has to be their traditions.

Each Triple Crown hike (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide) has its own tradition. These traditions are based on the environments and areas where the trails are located. These include stopping at Hiker’s Heaven on the PCT and mooning the Cog Railroad on the AT. These hikes however share a similar culture, including some traditions.

One of the most popular traditions thru hikers have is having a trail names. These names are usually given to you by another thru hiker by can be self-created. Trail names originated on the AT by Earl Shaffer, who dubbed himself “The Crazy One.” It did not however become popular until the 1985. There are two theories on how and why trail names were created. The factual theory states it was a way to stay safe on trail and protect your personal life. The second and more profound theory looks at trail names as a symbol of leaving your old self behind and being born again while on trail.

Another popular tradition is carrying a stone from one terminus to the other. This is a symbolic tradition. For most it represents a little piece of yourself that you leave on the trail. I have a similar tradition of my own. On every hike that I go on that involves climbing a peak I pick up a small rock before starting the hike, leave it at the top of the mountain, and pick up another before heading back down. For me, this represents the person I was prior to the hike and whom I leave behind to become who the person I am today. I have a collection of small rocks from my hikes on my desk that represent the many stepping stones that have made me who I am today.

tumblr_lnko0y18AZ1qenssho1_500-1The final tradition I want to talk about is the most eye boggling for society. This tradition involves a lack of cloths and happens every year on the Summer Solstice. Hiking naked once a year is a tradition that started on the AT and has made its way out west. This is a sense of freedom that you feel while on trail and in our natural element. Day hikers should be warn before going out on this day especially with children. I first came across this tradition last year while hiking on the PCT near Lake Tahoe. At was first it shocking to see but after talking to the hikers it is now a tradition I want to be a part of.

These are only a few of the traditions seen in the through hiking culture. As I become more a part of the culture I hope to learn and experience more of them. Please share in the comment below traditions you have and let us know if you are brave enough to hike naked.

Photos are attributed Appalachian Trials

Horsetail Falls, CA

Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful natural structures in the world. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and its crystal clear water, brings millions per year to see its priceless views. From the cliffs at Emerald Bay and the beaches around the lake, Tahoe provides the top of line sights just steps from its shores. There is however one exception to this, waterfalls. Emerald Bay and South Tahoe both have spectacular waterfalls. Neither, however, compare to Horsetail Falls.IMG_0181

Just a few miles west of South Lake Tahoe on U.S. Highway 50, you will find the best waterfall in the Lake Tahoe area. If you are traveling to the falls you will find a turnout and parking just past Twin Bridges, near Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort. The trailhead to Horsetail Falls along Pyramid Creek and is just east of the parking lot. There are multiple paths that can be taken to get to the base of the falls. Be aware the trails to the base are busy with visitors from Sacramento and the Bay area. I have taken multiple paths, both marked and unmarked, and each has its own excitement. You have to make sure however you stay on the west side of the creek during your ascent.

The trail to the base of the falls is about 1.5 miles. On your way up make sure to explore and to stop at the wire bridge. When you reach the base this will be a busy area because most think this is where the trail ends. I suggest however you go further and go all the way to the top. There are two ways to get around the 9ft rock wall, which marks the end of the traditional trail. You can either climb the wall in multiple areas or go right and walk around it. If you chose to go right be careful because this is next to the edge of the falls and is usually wet. IMG_0185Once you get by the wall, there is a trail but if you can’t find it, just head up the mountain and make your own.

The trek up the mountain should not be taken lightly. It is only a few miles long but it is very steep with constant bouldering. This is rated moderate/difficult but it is more difficult than most difficult trails in the area. On your way up be sure to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen because there is little to no cover from the sun. The hike up the mountain will take you anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour and a half. You will be exhausted when you reach the top but, the views are worth it.

The view at the top looks over the whole valley and you can see “Lover’s Point” and Sierra at Tahoe. This is one of my favorite views in the Sierras. In addition, at the top of the mountain there is a small lake and creek that flow into the waterfall.
You can swim here but be safe and stay a good distance away from the fall. If you would like to keep going keep falling the creek and you will reach the Tahoe Rim Trail. If you are backpacking there are some great areas to camp for the night.

IMG_0178Right now is the best time to go to Horsetail Falls. The snowmelt makes the falls look even more impressive. Post your experience on this trail or other good waterfall trails in the comment below.

Happy Trekking

Photos are my own

My Father Told Me

Telling your friends and family that you are leaving for four months to hike 2,600 miles is nerve wrecking. I really mean NERVE WRECKING because you do not know how they are going to react. You will receive a variety of variations ranging from, jealousy, ecstatic, and disappointment. The reactions from the people you truly care about can really effect you and possibly change your decision. If you remember from my past post, Into the Wild: My Dream to Complete the PCT, I received my final push from the book Into the Wild. The book made me realize I couldn’t keep talking myself out of it. Proving to myself I can do it and seeing the beauty the West has to offer.

It has now been two months since I decided to go on this journey and I am receiving a variety of mix reactions. Majority of the people that I have told look at me like I am crazy and it will never happen. Then there are the others who discourage the idea. I have constantly been asked, “Why would you do that?” or “You are an accountant right?” These individuals don’t understand and don’t really know me. They look at the trail as a waste of time and think the most important thing is moving up the corporate ladder and making money. Although I want to and will be successful professionally, I want to experience life and not live my life with regret. I have multiple friends who understand this notation and have even asked to join me on the trail or to hike sections with me. The biggest motivator was not them. It came from a usual but unexpected source, my dad.

IMG_0294My dad wears multiple hats in my life. He is my hero, my best friend, my coach, and my father. We have a very special relationship that I am very lucky to have. He is the person I never want to disappoint. When I told him on Easter I planned to take this hike I was expecting him to try to talk me out of it and say I should concentrate on my career. Instead, I received a small speech after being told jokingly that I was crazy. He told me, “We only live one life and nothing more. No matter what your beliefs are there is no proof of anything after this. You have to live a life that when you’re about die you can look at and be proud of. If this is something you will regret then it is something you should do, no matter what others say. I wish I still had the knees to hike with you.” These words stuck with me and reminded me of Avici song “The Nights.”

I realized, I was not hiking the PCT to prove that I could do it but to create memories to remember before I am gone.

The PCT will be an adventure and evolves a large amount of preparation. Every step I make on it I will remember the words my dad told me. This will be my motivation and inspiration to get pass every wall I come face to face with. Our life only last for a blink in time, you have to go out and find what you want to experience. There is no time like the present. Get out there and do that one thing you have always wanted to do now. There is no guarantee you will have tomorrow.

Dream Big

Photo is my own

Video is contribute to Avicii