Weekend Getaway

I am a teacher dreading the beginning of the school year, and am devising strategies to get me through it. The first that I am actively working on is changing my mindset. The second very important strategy is full of bribery and rewards. I am planning local getaways (camping nearby, kayaking through the city) but am also looking at sneaking in weekend trips like this one to Joshua Tree National Park.

Where: Joshua Tree National Park
When: Mid Fall
How: Cheap flights, camping as lodging
Why: To get away!
What: Camping, hiking, sightseeing, stargazing

Step 1: Cheap flights to California
Generally, flights to San Diego are cheaper than Lost Angeles or Palm Springs. If flying into one of the first two, we will also need to rent a car and drive 2-3 hours to Joshua Tree National Park, so the earlier flight the better. (These flights were under $100 yesterday !!!)

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Step 2: Rent a car, enjoy the drive
A good drive is full of good music, intelligent podcasts, planned stops in at the coast and in Palm Springs, surprise stops anywhere interesting, and great snacks.

Step 3: Make the most of the park
Say I arrive early afternoon. I will set up camp and take a short day hike before dinner dinner. Then I’ll take an evening walk, and star gaze. I’ll stay up reading in the tent, listen to music, and playing cards.

Step 4: Get outside!
The next day entails a long, strenuous day hike. After dinner, I’ll take an easy evening walk. More lounging at the tent and stargazing (glad I bought a star map in the Grand Canyon! Or are they different star hemispheres…?)

Step 5: Go home, don’t be too sad about it.
I want to wake up in the dark and take a sunrise hike. After, I’ll have some coffee, pack up camp, head out and fly back. I will likely get in late, which means before I left, I better have done laundry and washed all of the dishes and planned the rest of my week.

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Hiking in Jasper National Park

After backpacking in Banff National Park and hiking to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, we set out for Jasper National Park. Jasper was more remote than Banff, and we had more nature encounters throughout the trip.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetThis sunset happened during our first night in Jasper. We all ran up to the balcony of our chalet to watch it. Our dad ran downstairs to grab his camera and by the time he was back up… not even 60 seconds later!… the sunset was over. Luckily, my sister caught this photo.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetThere were a lot of unique water experiences in the parks of Alberta, Canada. On our first day of hiking in Jasper, we visited the Miette hot springs! The source of the springs steamed hot and stinky sulphur, but the actual lounging area wasn’t stinky at all. We especially had fun running from the 100 degree waters and jumping in the ICE cold mini-pool nearby. The next day we hiked the Valley of Five Lakes, the fifth of which is featured above. We hike the trail backwards, starting at lake 5 where we ate lunch and soaked in the views before hiking out. Each lake was a vivid and distinct shade of blue or green.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetContinuing with the tour of spectacular water attractions, we visited the Sunwapta and Athabasca waterfalls the next day. Standing near water that is moving with such force is pretty terrifying. There were effective signs posted all around warning of people who were overconfident and climbed past the fences, only to fall in.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next day was our father-daughter hike. My dad, sister, and I all drove to a beautiful and isolated section of the park, planning to take a strenuous four hour hike. It took us an hour to hike to the trailhead, where a sign was posted announcing the closure of this trail due to the spotting of a mother bear and her newly born cub. You didn’t have to tell us twice… we’ve all seen The Revenant. After hiking another hour back to the parking area, we decided on a shorter two hour hike nearby, where we visited a secluded lake that was home to a beautiful swimming loon. The water was so clear that you could see the loon through the water as he torpedoed under in search of fish.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetWe also visited this insanely mirrored lake where from a distance it looked as if people were walking on water. This lake was massive, but at no point was it ever more than ankle-deep. Some bold people had braved the frigid waters and waded across the entire lake!

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetTo break up the 6 hour drive back to Calgary, we stopped halfway to stretch our legs and hike up to a glacier. It was wild to see the markers of where the glacier used to reach before melting, and so sad to see how much was gone. This glacier won’t be there for many more years.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetWhen we got back, we did a bit of urban backpacking to get from the airport to the south side of Chicago. We were quite a sight at our bus stop downtown!

Be sure to read about our backpacking trip while we were in Banff National Park, and the amazing Teahouse Hike we took!

 

More Nature Adventures:
Hiking advice from my brother and sister
What we packed
What we read
What you should read

Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike

The one thing we had most been looking forward to was the Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike we had planned for our last morning at Banff. We had plans to meet our family at Lake Louise by noon, so we essentially ran up and down the mountain in order to have time to sip tea and have a second breakfast. (We told youThe Hobbit” is a great read on a hike!)

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThis was one of our favorite hikes of the whole vacation. It was so special to visit this teahouse hidden up in the mountain between two lakes. In the future, we would also like to visit the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetWe shared a large pot of “Top of the Mountain Zen” herbal tea. I had a smoked salmon bagel, Kendra and Thor each had a bowl of beautiful rainbow root-vegetable soup. We shared tea biscuits and jam before jogging back down the mountain.

20294256_1398184933551750_3885805489218610382_nWe made it to Lake Louise at the agreed meeting time. Only once we had regained cell service did we learn that our family was just leaving Calgary! We spent the next few hours waiting for our family at the lake. We read a lot… look at how many books Kendra read during our 3 days of backpacking!!!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetAnd finally, we hugged our family and climbed in the car for the next 4 hours up to Jasper.

This is day 5 of an 11 day trip! Tomorrow, I will share our adventures from Jasper National Park, where we spent the remaining 5 days of our trip. There we visited hot springs and met families of elk! Be sure to read about our backpacking trip while we were in Banff National Park.

Until then, check out the 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

Hiking with Thor: Advice from my Brother on Finding Food and the Best Views Ever

The one thing you can’t go hiking without: My Nalgene.

A mistake you learned from on the trail: Bring enough water, don’t go on a long hike on an empty stomach. I once- this was more of a suburban walk than a hike- I went on an 11 mile walk with no water and no food, and I was eating wild greens on the way back. So bring food and water.

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The surprising thing that saved you from a bad day: I accidentally forgot to put on my Tevas, and wore sneakers instead to a hike to Sperry Glacier, and the last mile or two was all through snow banks. If I had worn sandals, I would have been hurting, so the tennis shoes came in handy.

Best song to keep the bears away: 

Favorite food for car camping: Thor-bread: Mix one box of Jiffy cornbread mix with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 carton of sour cream. Baked in dutch oven.

Favorite food on the trail: Rice pudding or canned fish

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Most important planning detail: Coordinate arrival times “We were hiking with friends, three of us went in one car and the other guy was meeting us. He thought we were hiking at 8:30, but we were meeting at 8:30. We got there while he was there, but he was already on the trail, and when we got off the trail he had already left.”

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What is your signature move on the trail? Foraging for food, and hiking quickly ahead of the group

First memory of camping: Camping at our dad’s property (82 acres of trees) in the pines trees.

What to do after camp is set up: Explore the area, walk around and see what trails are around

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Best trip yet: Baxter State Park in Maine, Mount Katahdin

Most wow moment on the trail: Turning around while hiking Mount Katahdin and seeing the valleys below, and seeing the nearby mountains. “When we got up to the top, it seemed like we were on the tallest mountain in the park.”

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Best book about outdoors: Mushi-shi

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Mushi-shi

Best book to read outdoors: The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkein

Question I should have asked: What’s the most developed trail you’ve ever walked that’s still difficult?

Your answer to that question: A hill outside of Heidelburg, Germany, that was all stairs and switchbacks.

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What do you enjoy about hiking? Walking is a fun motion to do. It is one of the most fun exercises there is. I’m always rubbernecking when hiking.

Why do you hike? Seeing a lot of stuff, and just getting to go look around at the world, I guess. Like, a scenic hike is great, and it’s also a fulfilling form of transportation, you feel like you moved yourself, instead of being moved by petrol-chemicals.

 

Nature Week!

Welcome to Nature Week on The Wonder Of. This week you will learn how to glamp properly (even if you have NEVER been camping!), learn 3 perspectives on backcountry camping and hiking in National Parks, discover the best books for outdoorsman, and how to pack for a backpacking trip.

The bonus to all of this is that while these posts are going up, my family and I will be on vacation in Banff and Jasper Canadian National Parks! So, throughout the next two weeks, I will interrupt scheduled posts (about nature) with photos… of nature!

I am really excited to share these posts with you. To be sure not to miss anything, please sign up for an email subscription or follow the blog on Facebook or Instagram!

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Back to Nature in 24 Hours

 

 

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Image of Kettle Moraine State Park, Southern Unit from Rootsrated

24 Get Back to Nature:

Sunday, before noon, pack car

Packing List:

Sunday, early afternoon: arrive at park, hike out, set up camp
Sunday, late afternoon: take a day hike past campsite, explore water and wooded areas
Sunday evening: chill by the fire, maybe sing folk songs and have s’mores

Monday morning: have a hot breakfast, coffee, and pack out. Return home.

Weekend Link Pack!

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I am really excited about camping soon, and when it is a short trip, you have the option of cooking over a fire! Love this paella recipe. Not camping? Try it on the grill or in your firepit!

29018cba-939e-4308-a42c-14fee8572a26.jpegJuly 22nd is National Hammock Day! I am loving this limited edition campy print.

 

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Did you end up getting anything on Amazon Prime Day? We didn’t, but now that we have paid bills and assessed our finances and needs for the summer, we are placing a small order. As an active freelance musician, it is crucial to be able to record and livestream performances. We are going to take the plunge and by the simplest, cheapest Go Pro. We are also solving all of our back problems with a foam roller, and file under weird: we are getting a squatty potty for that “back to nature” experience. Don’t ask. Just watch these ridiculous videos.

 

pwbJ40RUO179-yMOyt5j_AndriusBurba5.jpgAbsurdly cute photos of cat bellies.

 

Have you seen the voice of Gollum reading Trump’s Tweets? HILARIOUS!

 

ac9497672748fd60314b6c63b1ac55b18a9e4c3e.jpegCheck out this incredible Chicago loft!

 

download (2).jpegNPR draws parallels between our beloved undercover investigators and the reality of today’s FBI investigations.

 

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Don’t follow the norm too closely. Humanity is getting stupider.

 

I know it’s still a month away, but I am so excited for the next season of Broad City! It feels like the contemporary Seinfeld, and sometimes walking around downtown Chicago in the summer feels like being in my episode of these New York based shows. My dad says it’s because I’m “urban” now. I guess he’s right! I definitely love trading smoothie strategies with my best friend.

19050652_1916497905230123_2233495599372566528_nWhich shade of millennial pink wins your vote?

 

How sweet is this? Did you cry? Did you call your grandmother and tell her you love her? What a wonderful celebration of life.

Four Things

No one is talking about it because everyone is watching it: Orange is the New Black. Has it really been 5 years, already??? The last season made me cry, almost every episode! The emotional reactions from this show are intense, it is fun and it is funny, it is sad and it is infuriating. I have only watched the first episode so far (NO SPOILERS!) and I really appreciate that Sophia shows her previously unrecognized medical expertise. It reminds us that these women were all members of society, many carrying jobs or going to school, making change in the world. Some of them, however, are more influential in prison than they were on the other side (Piper).

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When it is hot outside, the single most refreshing thing for me (more than lemonade!) is a chocolate-covered frozen banana. They are usually more chocolatey and fresh if I dip them myself, and the crunchy toppings are a nice touch.

 

 

I enjoyed this slideshow of camp style. I often find myself in the true-American denim suit (left) but I identify with the Ranger Dad clothes on a spiritual level.

 

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This weekend I tried cucumber dill hummus and my mind was blown. It was so cool and refreshing, and made the best beachside picnic snack! My sister had bought it at the local farmer’s market, but I am thinking of making this recipe for myself.

Related: fun things and summer greens