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.

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

Camping 101

For the people who have never ever ever never camped!

After having gone backpacking a few times, car camping feels a bit like glamping. This is glamorous camping, because you can bring anything you need for maximum comfort, including whole food (as opposed to dehydrated meals) and luxury items like an air mattress, or pillows! Here are some basic camping tips from around the web.

pexels-photo-508095.jpeg

From Liz Stanley of Say Yes
Skip the campground. Campgrounds feel like cities, only you’re closer together. The only thing between you and a bunch of drunk college kids is a thin sheet of nylon. If you’re scared of bears, campgrounds are the worst place because they know that’s where food is. In Yosemite, we saw a couple a day! You are allowed to camp in any national forest or wilderness area surrounding a national park.

WHY IT’S SO WORTH IT: It’s so nice to wake up in the morning when it’s chilly, and have a long hot breakfast with coffee or hot chocolate… Sitting around the campfire at night — drinking a mug of wine, talking, making s’mores — is amazing. Since it gets dark at 8pm, we’ll often hang out for a while yet still go to bed early, which feels so good, too. My husband and I once took a kayaking trip and ended up on a gorgeous lake under the Grand Tetons. We went skinny dipping at midnight. I loved that combination of paddling and camping. It was magical.

Joanna Goddard at Cup of Jo
Do periods attract bears
Poor Joanna was shamed into sleeping in a cage while camping on a school trip. She reports that periods do not attract bears. Yellowstone reports that polar bears are likely attracted to menstruation, but black bears are definitely impartial. Grizzlies? Unknown…

 

From Ranger John
Make campsite reservations as soon as you can. Campsite Reservations have become the norm in today’s campgrounds. Packing a car at the last minute on a Friday afternoon and rushing to a park typically leads to disappointment and driving around to multiple campgrounds all with their Campground Full signs posted. You end up camping in your car overnight at the Wal-Mart parking lot or the local motel/hotel with everyone complaining about this being the worst vacation ever.

Pack bacon!  I consider bacon the official torture smell for all Park Rangers. There is nothing like going to work and heading through the campground and smelling bacon cooking everywhere. For some reason, this smell triggers all hunger senses in your brain and you too now want bacon. I will look at my watch and have another 3 1/2 hours to lunch and the sandwich I packed doesn’t smell as good. Of course, I will notice other campers getting up walking to the restroom starring at the campsite next to them cooking bacon, they have this look of wanting to invite themselves over for breakfast too, perhaps the look of plotting how to get the bacon from them devising a scheme used by the famous bear known for stealing picnic baskets. Save yourself this torture and pack your own bacon and be the envy of the campground.

Carry the 10 Essentials! I encourage everyone to carry the 10 essentials with them anytime they head outdoors. It’s the one thing you hope to never need but will also be your best friend if the occasion arises and you do need it. Click here for a list of the 10 essentials you should have with you camping!

From Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic
Use the Airbnb of Camping: 
When it comes to travel, I have two schools of thought: living like a local via Airbnb and dirt-bagging it by camping. I’m a mix of hi/lo, luxe and earthy. Plus, if I’m camping, often that means I’m also climbing… which equals one very happy Joanna. So you can imagine my excitement to recently discover Hipcamp, which is like Airbnb but with campgrounds, ranches, farms, even a vineyard! This is definitely the option for the adventurous of heart.

Saturday Check-In

2017-06-17 09.06.19 1.jpg

It’s the best kind of Saturday- full of spice and caffeine, color and nature.

Thoughts from today:

  • I am on track to meeting my goal of blog views for the month of June! I am so excited and intrigued by the world of blogging and the flexibility it provides as a hobby or career. Thanks for all of your support so far, friends, and please pass this link on if you enjoy The Wonder Of!
  • I have explored two of the best coffee shops in Chicago today. I’m kind of buzzing (if you’ve ever had 4+ cups of coffee you know what I’m talking about) but I am so glad that I visit the Currency Exchange Cafe this morning (table and chai pictured above) and I was so delighted by the hidden Pickwick Coffee Roasting downtown (pictured below). I ordered the Black Tiger, iced, which has ginger and chicory in the creamy espresso drink. Grateful to my friend Sara for the recommendation. I am currently sipping the spicy drink in the Art Institute garden!ls.jpg
  • Cool thing: my boyfriend has his bass lesson in Grant Park today, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion! Very cool. In addition to hosting amazing concerts and festivals, the pavilion and other Chicago parks plays free movies on Tuesday nights! It is a really sweet experience, and you can pack your own picnic for the calmest evening downtown. I saw the movie Brigadoon here years ago, and it was a great experience. If you are into quirky films you should watch this bagpipe-laden time-travel feature.

I hope your Saturday is as blissful and peaceful as mine!

 

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!

greenstone-trail-isle-royal-national-park.ngsversion.1495735219531.adapt.676.1.jpg

11875438_1512099762444443_230426344_n.jpg

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!

Processed with VSCO with  preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

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.

2017-04-13 11.14.11 1.jpgProcessed with VSCO with t1 preset

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

Processed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with  preset

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!

Processed with VSCO with  preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with  preset

Happy trails!

Balancing Tranquility and Strength in Your Workout

Or “enjoying nature while doing what you love.” My sister is at it again at Red River Gorge, in Kentucky. And, markedly, today is the end of my “beginner to badass” climbing program at Brooklyn Boulders, Chicago location. In a few months I hope to be able to climb with her outside (but first I need to master the 60 foot indoor wall)! Climb on, Kendra!

2017-05-16 07.49.40 1.jpg

The Case for Visiting the Southwest

I’ve made the case when planning and reminiscing about the Grand Canyon, but my sister and fellow traveler makes yet another argument for visiting the wild west- especially for visiting Moab, Utah. Everyone should have a moment like this.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset