Back to School

It’s that time of year! Here are 10 picks, whether you are going back to school or not.

Back to School Standards


Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

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Agendas


Pretty Notebooks


Pencils

Dorm Essentials


Coffee for one or coffee to share

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Perfect bowls


Window Fan

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Daybeds are the new futon


My Pillow

 

Backpacking in Banff National Park

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Last week, my family vacationed in Alberta, Canada. I would like to walk you through our travels in this photo-journey!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetMy siblings and I flew out 4 days earlier than the rest of the family for our second annual backpacking trip. We stayed in the Lake Louise Village of Banff National Park. The photos above are of the famous turquoise lake herself.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetWe got a late start on our backpacking trip, and after hiking up a highway for hours and hitchhiking the same distance in 15 minutes, we finally made it to the trailhead. Our first hour was spent on lunch and packing up to the halfway hut, where we hid from the sun and mosquitos and accidentally took a nap.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetWhen we were finally loaded up and ready for the next 4 hours of our hike, it was late afternoon and we were anticipating some hiking in the dark. (Although, as we learned, the sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. up there!) Just as we set out on the trail, it started raining, and more concerning, it started lightning.  There had recently been wildfires in the area, and there was a strong fire risk at the time. Feeling uneasy about our late start and the storm, we regrouped and decided to camp at the site near the halfway hut. Even though it was not the site we had reserved, we felt much safer and there ended up being extra tent sites there.

Processed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThe campsite we stayed at was a short hike away from Hidden Lake, and as advised by other backpackers, we set up our tent and then hiked our dinner out over a kilometer to cook and eat bug-free in the tranquil space by the lake. It was a beautiful spot that felt like a secret, and the bear tracks on the trail meant that we were the only people crazy enough to head out there. Our only regret was not taking our sleeping clothes and blankets, because it was frigid and very windy.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetThe next day, determined not to repeat the day before, we were out on the trail by 8 a.m.. My patient brother and sister stopped at least 5 times so that I could adjust my layers. It was too cold to wear shorts, but too hot to wear sweatpants. We were on sheer and windy mountainsides, and I finally found the right combination of long and thin layers. The rest of the morning was spent in the etherial beauty of the Skoki valley. The meadow between the mountains was in the full bloom of alpine spring.

Processed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with  presetMuch to the surprise of last night’s campers, we arrived at Baker Lake campground by noon! We had lunch and a nap, then took a tip from some other early morning hikers and wandered down the path less traveled in search of two small waterfalls.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe hikers told us that we would first see a small waterfall. Even though it was beautiful, they insisted that it is quite small and unimpressive compared to our actual destination. Just past it, there would be much larger falls.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetPhotos don’t capture the sheer scale of what we encountered. This photo of Kendra and Thor shows them right next to the falls, which are blocked by the boulders they are standing on. You can see how far up we are, standing where the river turns to waterfall.

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Processed with VSCO with  presetWe spent the rest of the day relaxing. We took in the view of Baker Lake, made dinner, and played cards. We should have packed a book of card games, because basically all we could remember how to play was Blackjack and Go Fish.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetWe were out even earlier for our return hike the last day, leaving by 7 and stopping for second breakfast and coffee by 9 or 10.

Processed with VSCO with  presetThe last part of our hike was down an access road, which kind of a crappy ending to backcountry camping deep in the park, far from roads. We were fortunate to catch a ride and hitchhike again, which saved us hours skidding down gravel roads. Our Canadian driver was listening to a public radio program about wolves in Indiana and drove us all the way to our campsite in the park.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWe each made ourselves an easy feast. Thor bought a bag of raw vegetables and a half-baked baguette with a big hunk of cheese. Kendra has rosemary crackers with cheddar. I learned you can stick a can of chili right on the pocket stove and it heats through faster than a microwave! After a shower and an evening walk along the river, we slept through a night of rainstorms full and happy.

This is just the first 4 days of an 11 day trip! On day 5, we took an amazing hike up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, and I will share that story tomorrow. Following that, I will share our adventures from Jasper National Park, where we spent the next 5 days of our trip. There we visited hot springs and met families of elk!

Until then, be sure to read hiking advice from my brother and sister, see what we packed, what we read, and what you should read.

 

 

Hiking with Kendra: Best Shoes for Hiking and an Innovative Use for a Bungee Cord

The one thing you can’t go hiking without: Chacos, they’re great for a light hike or for crossing through streams. They are my go-to shoe for everything.

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A mistake you learned from on the trail: Don’t wait to go to the bathroom.

The surprising thing that saved you from a bad day: Once I used a bungee cord for a belt.

Best song to keep the bears away: Just singing “No bears, no bears no bears no bears.”

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Favorite food for car camping: Build your own burritos bar

Favorite food on the trail: Clif bars

Most important planning detail: A minimalist mindset- pack light, but pack the essentials.

What is your signature move on the trail? Stopping to take pictures every two seconds because I am so amazed at every turn.

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First memory of camping: I remember breakfast more than the actual sleeping part. Mom making eggs and bacon over the campfire.

What to do after camp is set up: Go for a sunset hike.

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Top Three Best Trips:
1. Glacier National Park
2. Going out west for work as a trip leader
3. Went rafting in New River Gorge in West Virginia, also for work

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Most wow moment on the trail: Waking up at Arrow Lake in Montana, and seeing the sun rise over the lake.

Best book about outdoors: How to Shit in the Woods

Best book to read outdoors: The Hobbit.” It’s pocket sized!

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What do you enjoy about hiking? The view. Being outside.

Why do you hike? To explore places you can only get to on foot.

What’s the most developed trail you’ve ever walked that’s still difficult?  The steps leading up to Red Rock Amphitheater. Or really, any hill.

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Question I should have asked: How do you choose a trail?

Your answer to that question: I look at the mileage, water sources along the way, and experience of others on the hike.

 

Backcountry Backpack: Three People, Three Days

As you are reading this, my brother, sister and I are loading our packs and headed out on a three day backpacking journey in Banff, Canada! We are so excited about this, but it took a lot of planning. I wanted to give you a glimpse of what we did to make this happen.

First, do you remember all the stuff we packed to hike the Grand Canyon? In case you missed it, here is that breakdown:

Backpack

  1. The Backpack: See all this gear? Somehow, SOMEHOW, most of it fit in this little backpack! I carry a women’s Marmot, and it is probably just the “weekend” size. So far, I have only taken 2-3 day trips. Any longer trips, and I will need a larger pack.If you’re choosing a pack, here are some things to keep in mind:
    – Frame size: Be sure that your pack fits your body. Just because you need more room doesn’t mean you should order a size up.
    – Volume: How much room is in your pack, and how many things will you need to take on your trip?
    – Weight: The lighter the better. Always.
  2. Sleeping pad: These are not necessary, but when you are sleeping on the jagged canyon rocks along a fault line, it makes a big difference. BONUS, the sleeping pad is perfect for breaks on the trail or laying along the river to read your book.
  3. Sleeping bag: My sister told me over and over again to get a temperature rating for 20, 15, -5, -20… and I got a temperature rating of 30. If you plan to camp in high altitude, or a season other than summer, you should get a temperature rating for lower than 30. This is coming from someone who moved from the tent to the car for warmth.
  4. Dromedary: If you have confirmed access to water for each day of your trip, it is likely that you don’t need one of these. If you are hiking to a lake or river and have a filter, you probably won’t need one of these. If you are hiking into the Grand Canyon and the main water pipe just broke (again) this is a good way to ensure you will survive. We each carried 10 liters of water along with smaller water packs, and although it added 20 pounds to our packs, we were sure glad we had the backup water when we reached our first campground and learned that the pipe had burst.
  5. Hydration Pack: I am a big fan! I have learned to use the 2.5 liter pack and refill as needed to help monitor and pace the amount of water I am drinking. Extra points if your backpack has an opening for your hose… easy sipping.
  6. Tent: I don’t have a fancy minimal backpacker’s tent that ways .3 pounds and inflates in the wind. I have a clunky 4-person Coleman that shields us from wind/rain/animals and is spacious even with two other people. Packing tip: split the tent and poles between people depending on pack size and weight.
  7. Hiking boots: My sister told me that I need them. I told her I didn’t… and then I read a little more and realized a 70 lb. pack on a 65 degree downgrade could snap my ankles if I wasn’t careful. I have also heard horror stories of people breaking their feet by stepping on canyon rocks. In the end I was VERY grateful to have these Merrell’s on my feet.
  8. Sandals: I will always take Teva’s everywhere I go. If you don’t own a pair, buy some! You can hike in them, wear them in the shower/lake/river, jog to meet your friends, or slip them on like outdoorsy slippers.
  9. Cook-set: I have a little Stanley cook-set that has easily boils 2+ cups of water and has two nifty cups that fit right in. Also pictured: titanium eating tool.
  10. Stove and fuel: Take a stove, weather-proof matches, and fuel (not pictured.)

    Not numbered: trekking poles ($10 used for the PAIR, purchased from Grand Canyon rentals!), 2nd skyn blister kit, Mountain House breakfast, hiking clothes and a trusty red bandana

    Not pictured: flight duffle, book, many maps crammed in a sheet protector, food for days, allergy pills.

 

With three of us, the distribution of stuff is a little different. We share the big and bulky things, like the tent and dry sack of food, but we still have a number of personal things to pack up, like clothes and trail snacks. This is a direct CTRL-C/ CTRL-V straight to you from the backpacking google sheet. You should see our packs. They are LOADED.

Thor- completed Thor Kendra- completed Kendra Kelsey- completed Kelsey
X Pack X Pack Pack
Duffle X Duffle X Duffle
Sleeping bag + pad X Sleeping bag + pad X Sleeping bag + pad
X WARM CLOTHES, 2 pairs X WARM CLOTHES, 2 pairs Emergency Blanket
X All hydration systems X All hydration systems X TP+ shovel
Day pack X Day pack X Dinner for Thor and Kelsey
X Wound Power + First Aid X First Aid X Bear bin
X 3-5 changes of underwear X 3-5 changes of underwear/ sports bras X WARM CLOTHES
X 3-5 sets of athletic clothes X 3-5 sets of athletic clothes X 10 L Water Bladder + all others
X hiking boots X hiking boots + athletic sandals X Water filter
X Lunch for self- 3-5 days X Lunch and dinner for 3-5 days X Day pack
X Spork + cup X Coffee filter/ pour over X Suture + Second Skyn
X Sunscreen X Spork + cup X 3-5 changes of underwear/ sports bras
X Dry sack for dirty clothes X Sunscreen X 3-5 sets of athletic clothes
X Dr. Bronner’s, toothbrush X Dry sack for food + rope X hiking boots + athletic sandals
X 3+ wool socks Dry sack for dirty clothes X Breakfast for all
X Deodorant X Dr. Bronner’s, toothbrush X Lunch for self
X Headlamp X 3+ wool socks X Coffee
X Pack extra clothes with parents Pack extra clothes with parents X Stove, fuel, mess kit, matches
X Rain jacket X External charger battery pack X Knife
X Towel X Deodorant Alcohol for steralizing wounds, similar
X Hiking PANTS X Headlamp X Sunscreen
X Long sleeve FOR HIKING X Rain jacket X Water tablets
X Light jacket Fuel tablets X Dry sack for dirty clothes
X Tevas Lighter X Dr. Bronner’s, toothbrush
Retainers X Towel X 3+ wool socks
X Debit card X Trekking Poles X Deodorant
Cash X Pack extra clothes with Anthony
ID X Headlamp
X Trekking Poles X Towel
PHONE CHARGER
X Trekking Poles

Summer Getaway Goals

Have you ever heard of this National Park- Isle Royale? I was looking for some backpacking in the Midwest, and I found this gem! A 42 mile one way trip, on a wild island in Lake Superior, with otters and foxes and wolves around! It takes about 4-6 days to cross the island, going one way. This is definitely on my summer bucket list!

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Tripstagram: The Grand Canyon

In April, I went backpacking in THE GRAND CANYON! It was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences I have ever had. It was dangerous and required a lot of planning. We did a three day loop, lugged heavy packs and traversed in heavy boots, and slept inside the canyon with a full moon overhead. Here are some photos from our experience!

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We warmed up before our backcountry trek on the Grand Canyon Rim Hike. We only did a short portion, but it would be a nice hike to do in entirety one day! It is also an easy but long hike, and if I can ever convince my parents to visit the Grand Canyon, it is one they would enjoy. At this point in the hike, we had a clear view of the Colorado River and the strata of the canyon.

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The descent is long and arduous, and it is easy to lose track of how far you have come. These are moments where you look down and can’t believe that you are still hours away from the river, but turn around and realize you are days away from the top. We took the South Kaibab trail in.

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My favorite view of the hike. I only took this photo, even as the colors and angles continued to open up along our descent, because photos don’t capture even a fraction of the majesty revealed in these rural places. South Kaibab is not for the faint-of-heart or weak-kneed individuals, but the views in the bottom quarter of this trail were my favorite part of the entire hike.

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In the dry, rough rock of the canyon, it is hard to believe that there is a river down there, but this vegetation proves it! The interior of the canyon is a small wetland, with a humidity not found in the rest of the west, and leafy trees lining the waters.

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Whenever you are not near the river, you are definitely in the arid desert, as demonstrated by these bright flowering cacti and thistles.

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We hiked out through the popular Bright Angel trail, and while it started somewhat remote, by the time we were finishing our ascent we were surrounded by day-trippers who were astounded at our accomplishment. We felt like heroes!

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It was an amazing trip. I am already plotting more challenging backcountry treks in the Grand Canyon for future trips. We met backpackers inside the canyon who had been down there for weeks, following the Tonto trail. If I found 3 days strengthening and meditative, I wonder how I would be changed by 7 or 20 days.

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Happy trails!

What’s in a backpack?

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We just went to the Grand Canyon! 

Even better, we backpacked into the Grand Canyon and camped near Colorado River!

Here’s what we took:

  1. The backpack: See all this gear? Somehow, SOMEHOW, most of it fit in this little backpack! I carry a women’s Marmot, and it is probably just the “weekend” size. So far, I have only taken 2-3 day trips. Any longer trips, and I will need a larger pack.If you’re choosing a pack, here are some things to keep in mind:
    – Frame size: Be sure that your pack fits your body. Just because you need more room doesn’t mean you should order a size up.
    – Volume: How much room is in your pack, and how many things will you need to take on your trip?
    – Weight: The lighter the better. Always.
  2. Sleeping pad: These are not necessary, but when you are sleeping on the jagged canyon rocks along a fault line, it makes a big difference. BONUS, the sleeping pad is perfect for breaks on the trail or laying along the river to read your book.
  3. Sleeping bag: My sister told me over and over again to get a temperature rating for 20, 15, -5, -20… and I got a temperature rating of 30. If you plan to camp in high altitude, or a season other than summer, you should get a temperature rating for lower than 30. This is coming from someone who moved from the tent to the car for warmth.
  4. Dromedary: If you have confirmed access to water for each day of your trip, it is likely that you don’t need one of these. If you are hiking to a lake or river and have a filter, you probably won’t need one of these. If you are hiking into the Grand Canyon and the main water pipe just broke (again) this is a good way to ensure you will survive. We each carried 10 liters of water along with smaller water packs, and although it added 20 pounds to our packs, we were sure glad we had the backup water when we reached our first campground and learned that the pipe had burst.
  5. Platypus Water Pack: I am a big fan! I have learned to use the 2.5 liter pack and refill as needed to help monitor and pace the amount of water I am drinking. Extra points if your backpack has an opening for your hose… easy sipping.
  6. Tent: I don’t have a fancy minimal backpacker’s tent that ways .3 pounds and inflates in the wind. I have a clunky 4-person Coleman that shields us from wind/rain/animals and is spacious even with two other people. Packing tip: split the tent and poles between people depending on pack size and weight.
  7. Hiking boots: My sister told me that I need them. I told her I didn’t… and then I read a little more and realized a 70 lb. pack on a 65 degree downgrade could snap my ankles if I wasn’t careful. I have also heard horror stories of people breaking their feet by stepping on canyon rocks. In the end I was VERY grateful to have these Merrell’s on my feet.
  8. Sandals: I will always take Teva’s everywhere I go. If you don’t own a pair, buy some! You can hike in them, wear them in the shower/lake/river, jog to meet your friends, or slip them on like outdoorsy slippers.
  9. Cook-set: I have a little Stanley cook-set that has easily boils 2+ cups of water and has two nifty cups that fit right in. Also pictured: titanium eating tool.
  10. Stove and fuel: Take a stove, weather-proof matches, and fuel (not pictured.)Not numbered: trekking poles ($10 used for the PAIR, purchased from Grand Canyon rentals!), 2nd skyn blister kit, Mountain House breakfast, hiking clothes and a trusty red bandanaNot pictured: flight duffle, book, many maps crammed in a sheet protector, food for days, allergy pills