I heart the PNW.

Every year we try to venture out to new mountains. That being said, some mountains keep calling us back.  One of our tricks to venturing out every year on a budget is flying into different hubs which usually drops the cost of airfare dramatically. That works well for us because we are able to fly out of NYC. We fly into different hubs and then drive and drive to hit up different mountains.

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2017 brought on copious amounts of snow in the north west and luck was on our side.  We flew into Seattle for about $330, hopped in the car and drove 4 hours north to hit up Whistler. We stayed at the hostel and enjoyed feet (yes feet) of fresh powder. The hostel in Whistler is about $30 a night and one of the best I’ve been to.  The powder in the PNW is not the powder I’ve come to love in Colorado, but it’s still fun. It has the name ‘cascade concrete’ for a reason. Our first day of riding the back bowl was still closed and we lucked out on day two when we hiked up to earn some turns in virgin snow.  After two days of bliss, our luck only continued.

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We drove 4 hours south to ride at Mt. Baker. Mt. Baker had just been closed for 5 days because a killer storm came thru and devastated the roadway up to the mountain. Baker is truly a boarder’s Mecca and our luck was unprecedented. The mountain was steep, the powder was deep, and the food/lift tickets were cheap. This was my first visit and Baker definitely made its way into my heart. I don’t normally repeat visit a mountain, but I definitely plan to go back to stay for several days in the future.
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We finished off the trip by meeting up with fellow Deuter ambassador, John Soltys, to do some snowshoeing around Mt. Rainier in an area named Paradise. He hooked us up with Tubbs snowshoes and the full guide experience. Our luck still did not run out and we had a bluebird day, which is a stranger to the PNW.  Since we had to catch a plane back to NYC that night, the trip was relatively short but amazingly beautiful. John is out in the PNW weekly and he is no stranger to Mt. Rainier and the area around it. He took us out for a few hours and turned it into a lifetime of memories and information. Snowshoeing in Paradise quickly added Mt Rainier and the Wonderland trail to my bucket list.

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We were sad to leave, but the PNW did not disappoint and there is so much exploring to be had.

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Till next time PNW…I will be back.

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Preparing for the trek up Mt. Whitney

I have been backpacking on and off for over 15 years. Throughout college, it was something we did occasionally but it was when I finished college and started working full time that the trail really began calling me. Backpacking was always my thing and when we became ambassadors for Deuter, doors into the outdoor industry opened up for us.  We now had contacts with other amazing ambassadors from around the country. So, when fellow ambassador Benny Haddad of Sea to Summit Productions put out an open invitation for a mountaineering trek up to the summit of Mt Whitney, it was a quick yes… and then a quick realization that I knew very little about mountaineering. Here are some of steps I took to prepare for this journey.

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Those who know me and have gone backpacking with me know that I do everything I can to not be the one the holds everyone up. Immediately after agreeing to take part in the trip, I decided to take a two day beginners mountaineering course to get the basics under my belt. For those in the northeast, New Hampshire’s White Mountains provide the most severe conditions available, so I decided to take my training there. I had to act fast to get my training with an ice axe and crampons while there was still snow available. Google quickly pointed me in the direction of NorthEast Mountaineering, who offers guided services, training and even lodging in their bunk house.

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The two day course started off in the Bunk House with how to dress and pack for a cold weather expedition which I was mostly familiar with and then it moved outside. Outside, they went over proper fitting of the crampons, how to hold and walk with the ice axe, general spacing while walking and how to keep a slow but steady pace. From there, we went over self arrest techniques from multiple positions and different techniques for walking with crampons both up and down the mountain. We skipped the bunk house and decided to camp at a local fire tower. The views were amazing and the 6 miles out and back was worth every step.  Day two went into some more advanced techniques that we probably weren’t going to need for Whitney but it was good to be be opened up to the concepts.  They included repelling, building snow anchors and glacier travel. The course did not disappoint. The basic techniques were reviewed enough times that even five months later, when it came time to climb Whitney, we remembered them well.  

 

 

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My everyday life is lived at around 700 ft elevation, which makes climbing to 14500+ ft a real concern for altitude sickness. From what I’ve read, the only things you can really do to try to avoid it is drink more water and eat more than usual on your trip.  The last tip was to breath faster than normal to increase the oxygen you’re taking in. Aside from learning the basics, I began physical training 6 days a week. Before I started training, I considered myself an active person, but I never exercised. I built myself up to 3 and 6 mile runs. I would do a 3+ mile run on Monday and Wednesday. The 6 mile run took place on Saturday mornings.  On my runs, I would add interval sprints up hills and they try to continue jogging on the flats.  On Tuesday and Thursday I would head out on the mountain bike and try to hit trails with decent climbs to engage different muscles in my legs.  Finally, on Wednesday I hit the gym. I focused more on a circuit style of training that involved push ups, pull ups, weighted step ups (30lbs), squats (30lbs), crunches, planks, supermans, and leg presses. The focus was mostly legs followed by core/back with sets of 20 in each exercise.

 

 

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You’ll never be able to plan for everything you’re going to experience on the trail but if you put the effort in before hand you can at least feel confident that you will be able to get yourself through the majority of the issues that arise.

Amazing pictures captured on our Mt. Whitney trek by Benny of Sea to Summit Productions.

–Matt

A note to my younger self on my 35th birthday: A quick moment of reflection

The week of my 35th year on this planet is here and it’s kind of tripping me out.

It’s not because I feel “old”, but more because I can vividly remember my own parents when they were this very age. I can so clearly remember warm days with my Dad mowing the lawn, and watching his beloved Mets, and my mom always ready with a Pop-Ice and calling us from the front door to come in once our street lights went on around 8:30. And, the crazy part to me is, that it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. Yet, here I am, turning that same age, and calling my own kids onto the deck for a Pop-Ice (organic, of course. Yay for 2017.).

From that time in the early 90’s until now, I’ve learned a few things. Seriously, just a few…I am still far from a wise adult offering sage advice and I often wonder how I am as adulty (a bit of neologism for ya) as I am (and expected to be).

But, alas, here are a few things I’ve learned, and would note to my younger self… if I could go all Marty McFly on myself, of course:

  1. What is old will always be new again. I kick myself for not saving my black velvet choker collection from 1992, and I am forever peeved that my mom didn’t save her sunglasses from the 80’s.
  2. Travel while you are young and don’t have as many responsibilities. Take a few years after high school, sleep on some couches, eat ramen noodles and see the world. Sure, you can travel after you have a job. Sure, you can travel after you have a house and kids. It’s just much harder, logistically. Don’t rush into adulthood so quickly.
  3. Do not dye your hair blond. You will cringe looking at those photos when you turn 35.
  4. Having regrets is ok! I know we now live in the world of YOLO, NO REGRETS and FOMO (ok, now I sound old), but I think having a few helps you grow as a person. Every mistake made is an opportunity to change for the better.
  5. Spend more time with your Grandparents. Ask them more questions. Listen to their story.  Because when they are gone, you will miss them profoundly.
  6. You don’t need stuff ←– Also, still telling myself this presently and daily. House, cars, shoes…that stuff doesn’t make you happy, so stop spending your money on it. Go walk up a mountain. Go lay on the beach. Go cuddle your babies. Those things make your heart happy. Spend more time…spend less money.
  7. You will never make friends like the ones you made in elementary school. Yours are the greatest, and they know all the stupid shit you’ve done. They will turn into family. Cherish them always!
  8. Remember how you ate hostess cupcakes everyday for lunch and Chunky Monkey ice cream every afternoon during high school? Enjoy it! Eat more of it! It’s all kale smoothies, and portioning desserts once you hit your thirties.
  9. Don’t be so hard on yourself. ←– Also something I am still telling myself daily. Try your best, always be kind, be a good person who is true to yourself and don’t stress about the rest. It’ll all work out and you are doing okay.
  10. You only get to do this life thing once, so live it. Do what makes you happy.

Also, drink more bellinis. They are your bliss.

CHEERS to 35!

xo Elisa

Trip Memory: A throwback to 2013- Our first family trip to our nation’s capitol

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In the midst of the political chaos that our great nation is facing, I am (for some reason) yearning for a trip back to D.C. I have such fond memories of our last trip there with the boys, and look forward to taking them back there soon. Below is an article I wrote back in 2013 about a weekend trip there…when we were only a family of 3! Included are some great tips for heading there with the family!
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, like I did!

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ROAD TRIP!!!

For my husband and I, traveling was a major part of our life before baby, and we vowed that we wouldn’t change that after our family grew! But, as we were to find out, traveling with a family can be expensive. Add in a destination that requires a flight, and you could have yourself a costly vacation.

A few weeks ago, we took our first Macaroni Kid West Morris Road Trip to the Washington, D.C. area. We spent a long weekend having fun at museums, eating at delish family friendly (but mommy & daddy approved) restaurants, swimming and just relaxing. Holy smokes, did we have a great time! The easy 4 hour drive took us to Alexandria, VA, a suburb right outside of the D.C. area. Alexandria has a Hoboken or Princeton-like feel, with adorable shops, tons of restaurants, and more strollers and dogs on leashes than I have ever seen in a small city.  After settling in, we took a drive to the National Waterfront. We lucked out and had a beautiful day to walk around the water front, do a little window shopping and visit the National Children’s Museum. Admission to the museum is $10 for children & adults ages 1 year and up. We spent a full 3 hours at the museum exploring, playing and learning. Older children will have a wonderful (& educational) experience exploring the foods, clothing (dress up!), and even transportation of other countries. And the “Our Town” exhibit replicates a small local town, and allows children hands on experience in a mock Fire Engine, Pizza Parlor, and even a shipping dock! And of course, it wouldn’t be Washington, D.C. without a little politics! Children can participate in choosing a “candidate” by listening to platforms that may be of interest to them (i.e. why or why not soda should be allowed in schools). National Children’s Museum has a unique partnership with Sesame Workshop, which means their under 3 area (under 3 ft. tall, or under 3 years old) is adorned with every toddlers favorite Sesame Street characters. Elmo, Abby, Big Bird and more are photographed on the walls, and Cookie Monster’s food truck can be driven to places that only a toddler’s imagination can take them. My son (15 months) loved this area! The small area to climb on was a big hit (like a small obstacle course), as well as the toys, felt and magnet boards, and puzzles. If you continue through the Under 3 area, you will find classrooms that have at least 2 different crafts being offered on a daily basis. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are also mini productions and story times in the theater! We truly cannot wait to get back there and enjoy it again!

Our last day was spent exploring Washington, D.C. The National Mall and most of the museums were just a short 15 minute drive from our hotel (including a bit of normal traffic). The majority of the museums in D.C. are free of charge to get in. So fantastic for a family, because we all know how bored kids can get. You can visit the parts of each museum that your find interested, and then head to the next one! My son was pretty excited about the Museum of National History (if your kids have seen Night at the Museum, they will be even more excited!). The elephant in the lobby, animals, dinosaurs and the ocean exhibit were all big hits. This mommy liked the Harry Winston exhibit (Valentine’s Day ideas, anyone?!).  For older children, the Air & Space Museum will be incredibly exciting. The IMAX theater programs and the giant airplanes hanging from the ceiling are always crowd pleasers. The Spy Museum would also be a lot of fun for an older child. Of course, with the various monuments, Capitol Building, White House, etc… there are so many things to do in D.C. that one trip is not enough! We visited many, but will be back to finish soon!

Other than the in museum café’s, there is not much in the way of restaurants by the National Mall. Luckily we parked right by the popular Food Truck scene. Good food trucks beat a casual restaurant for me any day. This is the link that has the popular Food Trucks in D.C.; we ate at the Crepes Parfait food truck in the link. Amazing.

The Washington D.C./Alexandria, VA area was a fantastic 3 day weekend trip. We look forward to returning soon!

 

Why is traveling with my children so important?

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I want you to close your eyes and fantasize about going on the vacation of your dreams with your family…your husband, your wife, your kids….

Are you day dreaming of a tropical beach, and laying on a lounge chair drinking a frozen daiquiri while the kids play for hours in the white sand? Or, are you picturing your beautiful family smiling in front of the Arc de Triomphe while noshing on a perfect croissant?

Now, open your eyes and remember this is real life. And, in real life, when traveling with your family, and especially young children, your strawberry daiquiri is most likely watery because you didn’t drink it fast enough due to separating non stop sand fights between your kids, and your toddler is most likely having an epic meltdown in front of that epic Arc.

So, you ask, if this is the case, and this is the reality of traveling with young kids, then why the heck have we traveled with our children over 20 times in the past few years?! The answer is simple: although it might not always be easy, or “picture perfect”, the experiences and memories made as a family far outweigh anything else.

Our day-to-day lives are filled with school drop offs, appointments, cell phones, meal preps, household maintenance and work. We go, go, go. When we travel, even if we are only a few hours from home, we slow down. We talk uninterrupted. We make eye contact. We laugh more. We connect. Without fail, I always find out something new about my kids each time we travel.

And, possibly, moreover the family connection and memories, we travel because it affects our children in such a profound way. Each and every place we visit raises questions of culture, future adventures, and personal discovery. I can see them grow on each new trip, and their “where are we going next” excitement in between in each trip is infectious, and drives us to never stop adventuring.

Although they might not remember all of our trips when they get older, I know that they are forever changed for the better for having the experiences. And, I am forever changed by experiencing the new adventures through their eyes.

xo Elisa

 

Want to make beautiful music while traveling? Our 5 favorite ways to bring our love of music into the outdoors or on the road!

If you haven’t guessed it by the title of our blog, we love music. Our boys’ room is music (and travel) themed and even has the quote on their wall, “Don’t bother to pack your bags, or your map, We won’t need them where we’re going, We’re going where the wind is blowing” from the band Weezer. We have been known to dabble with a few instruments, so we figured we would share the instruments that we thought were the best for travel.
The instruments I focused on were small, inexpensive, and could withstand the elements. Most are easy enough to learn the basics and you can be well on your way to playing them with just a little practice.
UKULELE. It’s small, light weight, easy to play and sounds great. Kala is one of the best uke makers on the market. For outdoor enthusiast like us, Kala makes a plastic uke (the Kala Makala Waterman). Play it while rafting, play it on the summits and play it in the rain. The sound does not compare to the wooden versions, but with a price tag of $45, I place this at the top of my list. We were able to pick up this uke at our local family owned outdoor store, Ramsey Outdoor.  It’s great that even outdoor retailers understand the joy a little music on the road can bring you.  By learning 4 different chords (Am, C, F, and G) you’ll be able to play hundreds of extremely popular songs. Oh and if all of that was not enough, they made the uke transparent.

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HARMONICA. This is much more difficult to learn to play but small enough to put in your pocket. It’s relatively rugged and doesn’t have to be tuned. Just take it out and play. They cost between $3 and $45 and you can get a quality one for around $20 so you won’t have to break the bank to try this one out. Down side to the harmonica is each one is in a different key so other people will have to play songs in the key of your harmonica.

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The ocarina is not as well know, unless you played the Legend of Zelda growing up. It also is small enough to fit in your pocket or even hang around your neck (which may result in being picked on, so, don’t say we didn’t warn you!). If you buy a clay or plastic one you don’t have to worry about the weather. Melodies are easy enough to learn and you’ll take all of your friends back to their high school years with your legend of zelda tunes. They cost between and $8 and $30.

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THE MOUTH HARP. I know what you’re thinking, what’s next? The spoons?! It’s small, inexpensive and can hold up to bad weather so here it is.  It can be found in almost every country in the world and depending on the materials it is made out of you can get some crazy sounds. You can grab one for a few dollars so you won’t really be out to much if you give it a try. A disclaimer that my wife insisted I add- your tent mate might decide to take their chance sleeping in the wilderness, far away from you, if you bring the Mouth Harp along (she is not a fan).
Last on our list is just behind the mouth harp, it’s your voice or maybe mine. Singing can be amazingly beautiful to those that are good at it but even if you’re tone deaf…who cares! Singing with friends around a fire is always a good time and if someone in the group has a mouth harp, you can all bust them even if you guys can’t hold a tune yourselves. It’s free and takes up no extra space. Chances are you were going to bring it on your trip anyway.

And if you needed a little more of us in your life, here is a little video of us using our new Kala Makala ukulele.  Keep your eyes glued to our instagram account for a ukulele giveaway curtesy of Ramsey Outdoor.

No matter what you choose to bring with you music and travel go together amazingly.

A Presidential discussion everyone can agree on: The Presidential Traverse

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Any avid hiker in the northeast knows about the Presidential Traverse.  A string of nine (or 10 if you include Jackson) summits threaded through the White Mountains of New Hampshire with water falls, glowing moss, and stunning summits, it’s no wonder this venture is on most hikers’ bucket lists. It was on mine and it only took me three attempts. Like so many others, my first two trips were canceled due to hurricane-like, 110 mph winds on Mount Washington. Little known fact: Mount Washington held the highest recorded wind gust for 62 years at 231 mph.

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Traverse Gear Check

I was looking to shed a little weight, so I packed my Deuter ACT Zero with all of the essentials. The Trail consists of 20,000 feet of elevation change over 23 miles, so I ditched the big camera bag and stuffed my point and shoot into my Deuter Zip Pack Lite. I’ve never used it for that purpose but was stoked to find out it fit perfect.

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One Day Or Two?

The Prezi can be done as a one-day sprint from dawn to dusk or as an overnighter. Wanting to spend as much time as possible in the mountains, we chose to do it over two days. We hiked it from north to south instead of the reverse. Hiking and rock scrambling 4,000 feet in the first four miles up to Mount Madison is an endeavor all in itself. The boulders we scrambled over were pitted and sharp from the intense weather, and I could only compare them to lava rock found in Hawaii. After you reach elevation, the hardest part is done and you can take in back-to-back summits miles of tremendous views.

rispoli4-1280x540This article was originally posted on the Deuter blog, check it out and give it a follow!

5 Budget Tips to stay warm on your next winter hikes!

I love researching gear almost as much as I love using it.  I truly believe that there is no one perfect piece of equipment, but with that state of mind there is always room for improvement.  The best equipment  can make your experience that much easier and more comfortable, but at a cost.  Top of the line shells, mid layers, and base layers could cost you well over $2000.00.  Some people may not have to bat an eye at that but I can’t even afford a Gore-Tex jacket right now.  People have been hiking throughout the winter long before $2000.00 outfits were ever an option.  Here are some budget tips to keep the money in your pockets and your feet outside.

 

  • Base Layer – skip the name brands.  I bought a cold weather merino wool base layer shirt for $20.00 on amazon from Sub sports.  I’ll admit it isn’t as silky smooth as the name brands but at less than half the cost you can still be warm without breaking the bank.  In my most recent snowshoe backpacking trek, the temps were low but the wind was almost nonexistent.  I snowshoed almost the entire trip with only that base layer as my only top. And yes, they sell pants too.

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  • Sleep Warm – Besides making sure your sleeping bag is the appropriate temperature rating for where you’re sleeping, boil water and slowly pour it into your water bladder (with cold water already in it).  Make sure it is good and warm and then take it into your sleeping bag with you.  It will keep your warm and your water won’t freeze overnight!

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  • Keep your socks dry – For an additional $14.00 you can get a cheap pair of gators off amazon.  Now admittedly, I have Outdoor Research Gators ($55.00).  Gators can keep the lower portion of your pants dry and keep snow out of your boots.  Being wet on your winter hike is bad news but there are ways around it.  Make a small investment and keep your legs/socks dry and warm.

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  • Outer shells – As noted above, I can’t afford Gore-Tex shells yet.  I already own a hiking rain jacket and I use it all year round.  With a proper base layer and mid layer a rain coat can keep you dry and keep the wind from sneaking in.  It is not very breathable, but I have never had a problem regulating my temperature by unzipping the jacket or its vents.  At a fraction of the cost it will do, until you can afford the best.

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  • Make warm meals – Oatmeal in the morning and your favorite freeze dried camping meals.  Oatmeal/fruit packets like Munkpack are great for hiking and it the winter and they are better warm.  Heat them up in hot water and warm up your core.  Also, the best hiking freeze dried foods must sit for almost 20 minutes before your can eat them.  Tuck them in close to your core and stay warm why you’re waiting.  I’ve been enjoying Backpacker’s Bistro.  No funny ingredients and it taste like real homemade food. Also, if you’re camping out- eat late.  Eating right before bed will also help keep your core warm when you get in your bag and will help you fall asleep more comfortably.

 

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7 Songs to inspire you to travel in 2017!

Matt (the Live and Let Wander daddy of the fam), and I have been an item since the late nineties. We met in high school and almost instantly bonded over our mutual love of sushi, 80’s movies, and punk rock. We were both musicians (he slapped the bass with friends in a garage band who covered the Foo Fighters and Blink 182, while I was a theater geek who sang everything everywhere), and our passion for music has been in the forefront of our relationship for the past 17 years.

 

We have rocked out at countless concerts together, and have jammed for endless hours together while dreaming up our next adventures (usually while also drinking beer. Beer and music always make for a good starting point for adventure planning).

 

Music moves us and inspires us, and certain songs just light that fire under us….they make us want to get out there, and see the world! Here are a few of our favorites that always give us that wandering feeling…

 

HOLIDAY- WEEZER

 

“Don’t bother to pack your bags or your map, We won’t need them where we’re goin’ We’re goin’ where the wind is blowin”  We love this quote so much we had it turned into a wall cling and it’s currently the focal point in our boys bedroom.

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SOCIETY- EDDIE VEDDER

 

When you want more than you have You think you need And when you when you think more than you want your thoughts begin to bleed, I think I need to find a bigger place ‘Cause when you have more than you think You need more space”  No song reminds us better that life is not about how many things you can acquire but how many experiences you can cram into one life. This is our pre travel song that reminds us why we spend our money on travel instead of things.

 

MOVING MOUNTAINS- THRICE

 

“I speak in many tongues of many men, Argue with angels and I always win”  The lyrics are not heavily worded around travel however this song is like much of The Alchemy Index album RAW.  It reminds of the the dirt on the trails and the weather on our faces. This is our hiking song.

 

THE WHALER- THRICE

 

“The boat and the plank, They are all that I know. The sea calls my name and so I must go”  Another song off of The Alchemy Index albums.  This is one of the water songs and you will find no better songs to ski or snowboard through fresh powder than those from the “water” and “air” album.  They capture the elements in every song.  The ebb and flow takes hold of you as you float along.

 

HOPELESS WANDERER- MUMFORD AND SONS

 

“Don’t hold a glass over the flame, Don’t let your heart grow cold, I will call you by name, I will share your road”  If the title of song doesn’t take hold of you, the song will.  With their fast paced folk Mumford rhythm, your heart will start pumping and your feet will start to travel even if your mind is not ready.

 

THE ONCE AND FUTURE CARPENTER- AVETT BROTHERS

 

“Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me, And when I lose my direction i’ll look up to the sky” This entire album is my favorite flight travel album. It puts me at ease (I am an uneasy flyer), and sets me up for whatever adventure I am about to embark on.

 

ISLAND- THE STARTING LINE

 

“Let’s sail away, Find our country, We’ll build a house and get tired of palm trees, Let’s get away, Let’s push our lives aside” I mean, don’t you ever just want to build a house on a remote island and open a juice bar? No? Just me? I think I like this one because it makes me think of the beach. And being the mountain dwellers that we are, we don’t get to the beach all that often!
We hope that 2017 brings you new adventures, countless memories made, and beautiful music!  

Know these winter clothing basics before you embark on your next winter adventure.

There is an abundance of gear out there for any outdoor adventure. When it comes to deciding which gear is the most important you have to ask yourself what you will be doing. If that answer is backpacking in the winter, like a Canada winter where the temperature drops well into the negatives, then quality clothing should be at the top of your list. Here are a few things to consider before picking out your new winter clothing gear.

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As far as hiking clothing goes, there are a few keywords to consider when choosing.

  • Moisture wicking – you are going to sweat out there and you want that moisture to evaporate instead of saturating your clothing. Wet clothes in the winter can quickly lead to scary words like hypothermia.
  • Quick drying – sometimes your clothes get wet, because let’s face it… you’re out in the wild! It rains, snows, hails, and sometimes you just fall and get wet. No matter how it happens you want to dry off quick. Because, again…Hypothermia = Bad.
  • Waterproof – If it is wet outside you don’t want any of that coming through to your base layers. For three season hikes you won’t need a waterproof outer layer unless the weather calls for it. For your winter hikes, a waterproof outer layer is a must. It not only protects you when it wet out but it also protects you from the wind. If you haven’t noticed the trend yet, wet clothing is bad when it comes to winter hikes.
  • Breathable – Breathable outer layers are so important. You could use a plastic bag as a jacket which would be waterproof but you would sweat like crazy, and that would mean, you guessed it!… wet clothes.
  • Insulating – You already know you need to stay dry, now you might as well be toasty out there. When you are thinking of insulation you have a few options not to different from your sleeping bags.  Synthetic, Merino Wool, and Down.

Layering is your friend. There is a standard 3 layers that you want to consider. Let it be known that cotton is the devil, ha but really.

  1. Base layer – This would be your long johns. Synthetic or (as we prefer) merino wool. Silk is also highly recommended for cold weather but in truth I have not tried it yet. These materials wick moisture away but synthetic seems to breed bacteria more, causing it to smell. We always lean towards merino wool when we have a choice. That applies to our hiking/snowboarding socks. For 2 blister free years now we have been rocking Cloudline merino wool socks and we will not go back.img_20160416_165137
  2. Mid layer – This is where you focus on your warmth. Micro fleece, or down filled jackets will be your friend. Down does not not insulate very well when it’s wet but it is super light , compressible and warm. Keep your trip location and weather forecast in mind when packing. I recently purchased an Ortovox merino wool jacket. I haven’t used it in extreme temps yet but can’t wait to put it through the ringer. Again merino wool = moisture wicking and if it gets wet it don’t fret too much because wet wool still works as a great insulator.20161213_225020
  3. Outer layer (shell) – You are going to shell out a lot of money in this department…get it? shell out?! Ha. I’m bringing up money because the words you’re looking for and are going to pay for are Gore-Tex or eVent. Less expensive shells will do a decent job at keeping the water out but they won’t release your perspiration to the same level as Gore-Tex.

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After you pick out your new gear, realize that winter hiking is not getting dressed once and heading out. It is a constant monitoring of your body temp and moisture level. Many times you’ll ditch a layer while you’re pushing yourself. The second you stop, you’ll start to cool off. The first thing I do when I take a break is throw on some extra layers. Then you start hiking again and within a few minutes you have to stop to shred that extra gear. It’s a little game but it keeps you warm, and dry. And, dry and warm is the name of the game when enjoying winter hiking! Happy Hiking!

Adventure today, Memories tomorrow.

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A warning: I get really sentimental during the holidays. Like, sappy, nostalgic, weepy mess kind of sentimental. This time of year brings out such a deep gratitude for life in general for me, but it also comes with an almost melancholy realization that life is short, my kids are growing up and we only have a few more fleeting years of their non-jaded innocence.

This is why whenever a generous family member or good friend asks me what is on the kids Christmas list this year, my answer is always an experience (well, Be-Bop, Rock Steady and the Ninja Turtle Lair is also on that list, but the jolly fat man has those covered). Sometimes, I feel awkward or even feel like I must sound ungrateful to suggest such a non-tangible item as a possible gift. But, in truth, my children need nothing (#blessed. For real.). And, as a mom, I crave more family time…more memories…more experiences.

You might think, but how is that possible, since I stay home with the boys, and we go on so many family trips and adventures per year?! But, it’s true! I crave seeing their little faces light up when they see the sharks swimming overhead at the aquarium, or when they see a dolphin for the first time on a whale watching boat tour. I relish in taking them to a new state, summiting a new mountain, or suiting them up as they are about to strap on skis for the first time. I also love seeing them experience something new alongside other loved ones and members of our family and friends. Their curiosity,and excitement is infectious and addicting.

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And, they have come to crave it too! We were so proud of our 5 year old, when he asked for an experience as opposed to a toy for his last birthday. Yes, that overnight trip to his favorite hotel in Lake George may have cost us a bit more than a new bike, but to us, that cost is worth it. The memories we made are priceless in our eyes.

Our favorite family conversations are those reminiscing of all the places we have been together and all the cool things we have done. I have to think that instilling these values of family time, adventure and a slight ere of the wanderer lifestyle will affect my children in a positive way as they grow older (true story- today, my son walked into my bedroom and exclaimed MOM! Why did you put the suitcases away?! We need them for our next vacation!).

I want to cherish every moment that we have together by making memories, because as the cliche tells us…it goes to fast. So, for now, I’ll continue to give them the gift of adventures, travel, and spending time together. You know, before they think they are too cool to hang out with their mom anymore.

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Backpacking with a puppy for the first time? Know these 5 tips before you go.

 

Backpacking with a puppy for the first time? Know these 5 tips before you go!

“Summit” is our adventurous Brittany Spaniel.  He climbed his first summit at only 3 months old and went backpacking at 4 months old.  

Here’s what we did to get him ready:

  1. Everyone who gave us advice about bringing home a new puppy stressed to expose him to anything that we wanted him to be comfortable around early on. Since we knew we wanted Summit to be a dog comfortable on the trails, we took him on daily hikes on our local trails to get him comfortable with declines (which he wasn’t at first) and inclines. We also took frequent trips to the stream. Give your pup frequent treats when they encounter anything new, so they associate that new obstacle with something positive. Be sure to have your puppy wear the gear that they will be backpacking in, as to get him (and you!) comfortable with how it feels and works.

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  1. Gear! Dog gear is no different than our gear these days.  They make dog packs, boots, sleeping bags, rain jackets and more! And much of the gear from the outdoor dog brands are made from the same materials as our gear.  Think about the gear you are bringing for yourself and I’ll bet your dog would appreciate similar gear! I came across a hiker/pup combo on my last hike and they highly recommended the company, Kurgo, for outdoor dog gear.  We outfitted Summit with the Kurgo Loft Jacket, Loft Bed, Go-Tech Harness, Quantum hands free dog leash, and Zip Bowls.  The Zip Bowls and the Quantum Leash were amazingly convenient.  I can’t wait for Summit to use a backpack but at 17 lbs I figured I would carry his food/water/gear for now. I’ve read that dogs should not carry over 20% of their body weight, but I’m sure that varies from breed to breed.

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  1. Plan on your pup needing more food and water than normal.  If you’re backpacking, freeze dried food is a must.  It’s lightweight, takes up less space and if you choose quality food, it’s high in protein.  We tried out Grandma Lucy’s freeze dried food for this trip.  This food was perfect for Summit and it smelled so good, I wanted to eat it! Another advantage is that you add water to this food so you know your pup is well hydrated.  Since we were backpacking in 30 degree weather, I warmed up the water first and gave him some extra so it was like a soup.  He loved it and I knew he was warming up his core, getting tons of protein and drinking lots of water.  For snack, I fed him freeze dried treats that were high in protein and that were always readily accessible, so any new encounters Summit came across could end in a reward. Those treats definitely helped with his first trip across a long suspension bridge over a roaring river!

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4. One thing I admittedly forgot about was naps. On day hikes, taking a break is sufficient for a little pup, but if you’re backpacking, plan in some nap times.  If you took your pup on several hikes before your big trip then you probably know when he is tired and needs a break.  Summit just sits down when he wants to take a break, so we’re lucky that he lets us know!  Our hike in was relatively short.  Day 2 was a little longer and had a 2,000 foot ascent.  We made sure to take breaks on the way up, but we also let him nap for 45 minutes when we came back down.  I even carried him for a few minutes when the ascent got a little too intense for his little legs.  If you already take long breaks, then you should be fine.  I have been known to skip breaks and push through but when hiking alone, but with Summit, I made sure to stop often.    

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  1. Take care of their paws.  Our trip included snow, ice and rain (sounds fun, huh?).  For humans, with the right gear those conditions might not be a big deal, but for a pup whose paws are not used to it, snow and ice might be a deal breaker.  We used Mushers Secret, just in case, but I do not know if it helped.   But, Summit did fine with the ice and snow so maybe it did help!  I reapplied it on breaks and made sure to check for cuts or cracking. Make sure to pay attention to your pups paws, just like you’d pay attention to your own feet, and check them for blisters!

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Bringing home a new puppy is a momentous occasion in any family, but in a hiking family, getting that pup out on the trail for the first time is just as exciting! Prepare yourself and your puppy, and you’ll be sure to have many exciting adventures in your future together!

Happy Trails!

-Matt