Motivation Monday: Soldier Finds Peace In The Wild

We have a really great Motivation Monday story to share with you all by a combat veteran Jason aka @warriortraverse, who shares with us how hiking helped him with his battle scars. Jason will also be joining the 52 Hike Challenge team to keep you motivated in your own life changing journey through hiking - give him a warm welcome and enjoy his story!  

The Hike That Saved Me

There comes a time in every person’s life when they’re put to the test. When they’re forced to dig down deep into parts of them that they didn’t know existed. It is at this very moment when they have to make a decision as to accept the challenge or allow it to eat at them for the rest of their days.

I am no different. 

As a combat Veteran, I found it difficult to reintegrate back into society, to find acceptance in a world that I thought I knew, and to build relationships in hopes to find the same camaraderie I once shared with others in the military. These struggles left me confused, angry, depressed, and feeling lost. Often times during a deployment, soldiers share stories of their hometown and of memories to lighten the stress that comes along with being in combat. From these stories, images are embedded in our minds of a beautiful and wonderful place that we await anxiously to return to someday. Sometimes upon returning home and these images are quickly polluted by reality.

It was difficult for me to accept that the world kept moving while I was overseas.

I returned home only to find new buildings that had replaced old hangouts, new people who had made friends with those I left behind, and to an America that didn’t seem like the America I left behind years before. I had never felt so alienated in my life. I needed to sort through these emotions. I needed to channel my anxiety and this anger somehow. I felt weak and I needed to find my strength again. I felt unaccepted and misunderstood. These are the things the military doesn’t teach us how to deal with. These are the battles they don’t train us win.

The outdoors saved me.

After carrying a rucksack on my back for so many years, sleeping in the cold and the rain, and walking around in the woods for years; I never thought I’d return back to it. I decided to take a drive one day and I found myself Garner State Park in Concan, Texas, walking along the beautiful Frio River. I found myself sitting there on the riverbank watching the water pass by, the wind rustling through the trees, and answers to my questions just started to come to me. While I was sitting there, more and more clarity filled my heart and I began to get answers to questions that I didn’t even know I had.

I ventured off onto a nearby trail with my day-pack on feeling at peace with myself and with my current situation. Even though I had done some backpacking while living in Germany, I was a solider then and things didn’t come to me in the same manner as they were that day. I began to appreciate adaptiveness and realized that I am not much different than any of the trees that I was passing. I am unique, I have my flaws, and I also have the ability to stand tall side by side with so many others. I realized that it wasn’t my surroundings that were making me feel alienated, but in fact, it was me alienating myself from my surroundings.

I realized that day on my hike that it was time to change. 

I am forever grateful that I decided to take that turn off of I-10 that day and make my way to that park. I was lost in life up until then. I realized that day my worth and how important it was to shed the bitterness. I wasn’t doing myself any favors by continuing down this path of self-destruction. Had I not turned off of the highway that day and continued on with my original plan, I would not be here today to write this. I woke up that morning wanting to rid myself of my misery and end my life. Since then, I carry a folded flag in remembrance of those who cannot join me today on my journeys and as a reminder of how important my own life is.  

It’s amazing how one hike can make someone feel alive again. Literally.  - Hashtag (Jason's trail name)

KRAVE Bar Review & January 2017 Pop-Up Hike

We are thrilled to share our first hike of the 2017 New Year is brought to you by KRAVE Jerky - and we'll be having Beef Jerky bags available for you to try out!  This hike will be held January 22nd at Griffith Park - RSVP HERE.

We also just got a sneak peak of their KRAVE bars.... wait, what? The first time we found out they were putting out a bar we were not really sure what this "bar" was going to be. However, once we received our sample pack, which included the 4 flavors – Mango Jalapeno, Chipotle Cherry, Cranberry Thyme, Wild Blueberry, we were excited to try these savory meat bars out.

We found these to be moist and compact for carrying on your trips. The bars are culinary inspired and protein-filled, they use the finest ingredients of quinoa, spices and fruit - giving you the perfect harmony between savory and sweet. The bars are all-natural,  gluten free, have no artificial ingredients, free from nitrites and lactid acid.

A few days later we went for a hike to a peak in Desert Valley National Park and I (Karla) was starting to get those mountain hunger pangs, I wanted something hearty. So I reached in my snack bag and pulled out a brand spanking new KRAVE wild blueberry bar. Honestly - it was so good, I scarfed it down before Phillip could have half of it (we share everything, but not this time though!) He was confused as I explained how delicious and juicy the bar was. Let's just say he was not a happy camper after I explained how good it was. Also, my phone ran out of battery that evening and I didn’t get a snapshot of me ravaging the bar, sparing you that image…


The KRAVE bars are available to the public now. Go to where you can order your own sampler or buy a box.

* We only endorse products we believe in and would purchase ourselves. We are happy to share with you our sponsorship from Krave Jerky, they have contributed to keep this awesome movement going, so be sure to check them out for your Jerky needs! 

Motivation Monday: Nature Healing for Cancer

This Motivation Monday we have an inspiring story from Karisa, a talented artist, mother and nature-lover who is sharing how nature has helped her though her cancer battle. 

After speaking with Karisa, we mentioned to her that there is a Japanese practice called Shinrin-Yoku (taking in the trees or forest bathing), according to research, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system's way of fighting cancer. Learn more here. 

We hope you enjoy reading Karisa's story as much as we did! - Karla and Phillip

In 2014 I found out that I had an aggressive malignant melanoma after having a mole checked that had changed when I was pregnant. After surgery my doctors were hopeful it hadn't spread so I got to celebrate my 30th birthday cancer free! Sadly though my cancer came back & it came back when I was in my third trimester with my second child! After giving birth to our son I went through a lot of tests & was headed for another surgery. This time my surgery would be more intense, since now I was dealing with a sizable tumor on the side of my face & the removal of all the lymph nodes from one side of my neck. My surgery went well & I was able to rest thanks to my wonderful family but once I was back to watching our two kids (I am a work from home mom) I felt so lost & sad.

A photo posted by Karisa (@karisamarley) on

I was up crazy hours with our baby & was worrying all the time about the cancer & whether or not I should do chemotherapy. One night I found the 52 Hike Challenge & I felt so excited. Being outside hiking sounded like the perfect thing to help me forget about cancer.

I started my hikes slow with a mile or two whenever I could fit them in between naps & nursing & preschool drop offs. The more I hiked the better I felt. Being outside exploring trails calmed me in a way nothing else could. The 52 Hike Challenge gave me goals when I felt like nothing was certain. It helped me to clear my mind & trust that everything would be okay. In the spring I had my first post surgery scan after declining adjuvant therapy & it was clean! I was officially in remission! To celebrate my husband & I planned a trip to Olympic National Park where we hiked all over with our kids. It felt amazing to do so many of my bucket list hikes during our trip!

Now I am a few hikes away from finishing & while my list of hikes might not have long distances or crazy elevation gains they have showed me how strong I can be & that finding time for what you love is the best way to heal. So good luck to everyone out there & remember your challenge will look nothing like anyone else's & that's okay! Just keep going! - Karisa Marley

While I was on vacation I painted this for day 68/100 of #100daysofpaintandpattern #the100dayproject

A photo posted by Karisa (@karisamarley) on

Finisher Friday!

Hi guys!

We’ve decided to make Friday’s all about the amazing finishers of the #52HikeChallenge.

Let’s start off by highlighting these awesome challengers and hear what they had to say. 

First up is Juan Oropeza  aka @mt.oropeza

“For me hiking is a way to get away from the busy day to day life. Work, life, family issues always add up and so once I step out into mother nature I am free. Ever since it made me feel better, I started hiking religiously. It’s a part of my life now, it’s who I am.”

Followed by Angy Beran aka @angyb424 from Arizona. “Really, it just help keep me active and not a vegetable sitting at home watching tv.” - We gotta admit, this is a really great reason!


A photo posted by Angy (@angyb424) on

We also have Jacquelyn Cohen aka @jackinamerica

“All my life I was on the fast track. Clubs, sports, academics, etc. After I graduated from UMD in 3 years I decided I was going to use my "senior year" to travel to all 50 states. I got to realize that life is something to enjoy. I became immensely aware of myself (since I traveled alone), what I was capable of, and my overall perspective on life. I met a least a handful of people a day who talked to me about their aspirations, where they were from, and what to go see! The more perspective I got the more I grew as a person. I started out just wanting to see the beauty of my backyard, and ended with probably my most important life lesson I will learn." 

Always in awe 🌎 #NikonNoFilter

A photo posted by Jack (@jackinamerica) on

Lastly, we have a story from Mariel Ganowsky.

"Just before my 67th birthday I was introduced to hiking. Prior to that, my idea of outdoors was the Laguna Beach Art Walk or a drive to Solvang and even an occasional night at the beach… but venturing off “the beaten path” was expressed as the walk to the Trolley for a ride to the Sawdust Festival… not really by any means a hike… therefore, at 67 years young, I started a wonderful adventure of seeing a world I lived next door to, but had never seen before!! It took little time to realize the most wondrous and beautiful things in life are not man made.

It was very challenging when I first started a couple years ago; a three-mile hike then felt worse than 20 miles do today! It was a slow start and elevation was always the hardest. Since that time, I’ve seen the most amazing sites on top of Mt. Baldy, Mt. San Jacinto, and Mt. Wilson to name a few… so why the 52-Hike Challenge? Perhaps I’m just too young at 69 to listen to people say 70 is too old, which I will be in June 2016.

Maybe for some, they are old because they just quit living. With every hike, I feel more like I’ve just started living, and to take on a challenge of 52 and do it in 11 weeks is just another way of saying, I’ve only just started. Last year we took some friends from New Orleans on a tour of some National Parks, i.e. Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon North - South, Sedona and my only thought was: “I want to get down there and do some serious hiking, such as the RIM TO RIM, which would be an awesome adventure, especially with my husband and like-minded friends. This is one of many on my Bucket List of hikes to do.

It’s true that I am not a fast hiker but I certainly question if people ever get old, the roads on the other hand do… so it is when you let your mind get old, everything dies and when you think young, you act young, you stay young… so… may I never grow up!!!

I have encouraged many friends to hike with me and also have created lots of good friends who I meet every day, I have also encouraged my husband to hike along sometimes when he is not working, which has strengthened our relationship and the biggest one of all is the confidence I have gained in myself every time I post a hike with the mileage, the place, who I went with and everyone seems to be living vicariously through my doing these hikes almost every day. I have become a strong leader and I do not to feel threatened by heights, length of a hike, people who hike fast or anything out there, including rattlesnakes!!! 

52 Hike Challenge Featured on Keen Thoughtz for Golden Eagle Radio

We were asked to be interviewed by Jessica Mehdikhani (52 Hike Challenger) and Daisy Villalobos, who have a show, Keen Thoughtz on Cal State Fullerton's Golden Eagle Radio. Since we love spreading the word about our challenge, share stories from finishers, and inspire people - we jumped at the opportunity. 

We took the time to talk about how students can use the challenge to de-stress and much more.

Check out the complete recording below and feel free to leave us a comment. :) 

Friends of Joshua Tree: Climb Smart 2016 Event

Our partners,  Friends of Joshua Tree have their "Climb Smart" event coming up on Friday October 14 through Sunday October 16, 2016 at Joshua Tree National Park

If you are thinking of taking the next step in your outdoors evolution this is a great place to get started and get your feet wet! Especially because there will be rock climbing classes for beginners! Phillip and I absolutely love climbing and especially outdoor climbing. :)

"This year will be a special community gathering marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 20th staging of this seasonal kickoff to the climbing season in Josh. Join us for a value-packed weekend of education, inspiration and celebration, all in support of a great cause as all proceeds benefit JOSAR, Friends Of Joshua Tree and Access Fund."


For only $109 you get three days of camping, 8 clinics lead by top Joshua Tree Guides, two dinners, two nights of entertainment and their famous swag drawings. Note: There are only a few tickets left, get more details and book your spot here:

Friends of Joshua Tree is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historical tradition of climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. Friends of Joshua Tree advocates, communicates, and encourages ethical and environmentally sound climbing practices, and works to shape park policy on climbing and climbing-related issues. Toward that end, Friends of Joshua Tree acts as the liaison between the climbing community and the National Park service.

Motivation Monday: Gratitude for the Sounds of Nature

When we found out that Crystal and her husband were taking on the 52 Hike Challenge, we knew we had to share their inspiring story. You see Crystal is a cancer survivor, she and her husband are also both deaf... and they aren't letting that stop them from getting outdoors. We hope that this story helps you to be grateful, reflect, also remind you that no matter what obstacles you may face, there is always a way. Explore and stay in gratitude. Listen to the sounds of the mountains, trees and streams. - Love, Karla and Phillip

"I grew up loving nature and hiking with my parents and siblings. When I had my kids hiking slowed down.

Then I had Thyroid cancer and stopped for hiking for several years. Thyroid cancer gave me several "gifts," including Fibromyalgia, IBS, Hypothyroidism. I also have Intersitital Cystitis.

1 1/2 years ago I decided not to let cancer and my diseases rob me of life and my love for nature and hiking. I started up hiking slowly 2-3 months ago, then I started my Instagram account pink_outliving_it. That's where I found Women Who Hike and that led me to the 52 Hike Challenge. I joined both soon after.

A photo posted by Crystal (@pink_outliving_it) on

I celebrate my cancerversary through hiking. And hiking brought me closer to God, my husband and my kids. God gave me strength through hiking. My husband also has been joining me on my hiking journey. He's gained benefits like weight loss, his love for nature grew, his love for me grew, his love for his kids grew, his love for God grew. He's very happy man now. 

A photo posted by Crystal (@pink_outliving_it) on

We're also deaf. Our deafness doesn't stop us from hiking. There are no barriers in hiking! Thank you for the 52 hike challenge! We all are grateful for this opportunity! 

A photo posted by Crystal (@pink_outliving_it) on

- Crystal R

Motivation Monday: Using Hiking to Deal with Divorce

This week's Motivation Monday story comes to us from Andrea aka @5milesaday. As many of you might be aware, I, Karla got into hiking after going through my own divorce. I was still in a lot of internal pain when I started my own 52 hikes as a means to get in shape. Little did I know what positive impact nature and hiking would have on my mind, body, and soul. Here is the Stanford article that Andrea quotes below... Enjoy Andrea's story and feel free to leave her a comment as well. 

I left an abusive marriage almost 3 years ago. We were a couple for 18 years, from the time I was 20 until I was 38. At the time I left, our children were 4, 7, 11 and 14. I had been a stay-at-home mom/ housewife since my oldest was born. My ex and I share custody of our children 50/50, so I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time and a huge hole in my life, missing my children so much on the weeks they were with their father. I told myself that I must do something with that time--something that my children didn't enjoy doing/ something that I loved but that was difficult to do with them. Several things came to mind, including hiking. I began taking a lot of weekend road trips to places I'd never explored before, just getting out on the road away from home helped me not miss my kids so much. But I also did a lot of shopping at thrift stores, visits to art museums, etc. 

A photo posted by Andrea (@5milesaday) on

Then last year I read an article from Stanford University. Researchers had one group of volunteers take a 90 minute walk along a busy street and another group take a 90 minute walk in a nature preserve. They found that the nature preserve walkers experienced a number of mental health benefits not found in the busy street walkers. I had been trying to walk 10,000 steps a day for health reasons, but I was usually doing it on the streets in my neighborhood, or on a treadmill at the gym. After reading this article (July 2015) I decided to try to switch my walks to nature areas. The change was phenomenal. Now, about 10 months later, I do everything I can to spend at least an hour a day on a trail in a natural area. Of course some days I don't manage, but many days, especially on the weeks my kids are with their dad, I get in a 5 mile hike or so. This has become the foundation of my recovery. I don't know where I'd be today if it wasn't for these daily hikes. 

A photo posted by Andrea (@5milesaday) on

I struggle with many PTSD-like symptoms, and feel a lot of panic about how I'm going to support myself, being a single parent, losing a lot of my community because of the divorce, losing my home, etc. Some days, I'm sobbing as I drive my car to the trailhead, and even for the first 10-15 minutes of my hike. But inevitably the scenery pulls me away from my fears and my sorrows. Soon I begin to feel hope again. I start to get ideas about what to do, how to move forward, how to take care of myself and my children in this new life. It was hard at first to give myself permission to hike every day. Now I think of it as the most important thing I can do to stay healthy for my kids. It is the gift I give to myself and to them each day. 

9/3/16 Ausable River Foot Trail #hike24

A photo posted by Andrea (@5milesaday) on

Motivation Monday: Backpacking With a 5 Month Old Baby

First off we want to let you know that this story is raw, intense and honest. We really admire Shannon for allowing us to share it with you. These things do happen in life... we all have been through something terrible that we "think" is shameful, but in all honesty we are all broken, no one is perfect. There is only one way to heal, by sharing our stories and giving others the permission to also be free. Sharing our stories allow us to heal and inspire others to feel less alone. Shannon - you are an inspiration. Keep up the GREAT work! -Karla and Phillip

When I was a 12 year old girl, my mom took us on a 4 day dory trip in the Grand Canyon with @oars_rafting. It changed my growing-up-in-the-suburbs self profoundly. I *knew* that I wanted to learn outdoor skills. I wanted to learn how to backpack and go to remote places. 
Three summers after that trip, my life was again changed profoundly when I was raped by two men at a party. My life for most of the next decade was a steady flow of self hatred and self destruction.  Even when I got to college (a campus which was chosen site unseen because it was in the mountains and had a search and rescue team...which I wanted to LEARN)...I wasn't healed and whole enough to bring this dream to fruition.

I got pregnant and didn't return the next fall. I heartbrokenly placed that baby up for adoption (the second baby I gave up for adoption, because my life was such a wreck). Now back on the east coast and locked into suburbia, my dream of backpacking was only hinted at when I would go visit my parents who had recently moved to Idaho. My heart ached and was sick for the mountains, for my children I gave away, for my lost childhood I didn't even know I was grieving.

A couple years later I got pregnant again...and couldn't bare the thought of giving this baby away. 18.5 years ago, my parenting journey began. His dad and I ended up getting married and stayed married for 15 years, having 6 children together. Always having a small child in tow, made me defer my backpacking dream once again. It just seemed like it would have to wait. We didn't even go camping, because it just seemed so HARD. I had terrible postpartum depression with each of my children, and I couldn't face trying to take 6 kids camping by myself. (Their dad wasn't really into going, so it would have been just me)

Eventually their dad and I divorced (we remain good friends, but we were very sucky at being married), and I remarried. My youngest child was now 5. I began going out hiking and camping. I had backpacking back in my sites. I was going to learn this, by golly!! And then...BAM!!! Despite having surgery to have no more babies, I was pregnant with my ninth baby. My heart broke. My dream would have to wait.

I grieved hard the whole time I was pregnant. I wanted to process through my sorrow, so I could be open to joy once this baby was born. Last November my seventh child René Muir was born. I have been overwhelmed by the joy I feel being his momma. I was very unpreparedfor that. But I look at him, and feel a steadfast determination to do all I can to be the best me. I knew this would mean digging deep, getting myself outside, and pursuing my dreams.

I began the year with the @52hikechallenge as a way to set a tangible and measurable goal. After a few months, I realized that I absolutely could go #backpacking. Even with a 5 month old baby! And you know what?? I did!! This picture is getting back to the car after 3 days / 2 nights out, hiking about 10 miles, carrying a pack for me and René, as well as wearing the baby. I have never felt so triumphant as I did standing in that parking lot!!! It only took 30 years. I cannot wait to get back out and learn through failing some more. I cannot wait to go out and I'm perfectly pursue my dream a little bit at a time. 

Shannon Martinez

Tuesday Hiking Tips

Back by popular demand is "Tuesday Hiking Tips!" In this tutorial Phillip shows us how to use the "heel lock" lace method, so that your toe isn't banging the front of your shoe when hiking downhill or running. This is the number one problem causing hikers/runners pain or worse making your toenails fall off.

Check it out and let us know what you think below and don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. :)

REI Outessa Summit Kirkwood Review and Recap

I, Karla was asked to speak and lead hikes at the first ever REI Outessa Summit. I want to be honest, I had no idea what to expect. 

When I first arrived we were greeted by a beautiful tent, where I checked in and received so much swag- I was a little overwhelmed (in a good way.) We were also given a glass of champagne to inaugurate "opening day." 

Afterwards, we had dinner and enjoyed a stunning sunset. :) 

The next morning my friends and I woke up early to get our day going! We started off with a lovely morning meditation. 

The first course I signed up for was the campfire cooking class by dirty GOURMET and boy was the class insightful and delicious! The wonderful ladies Aimee, Mai-Yan and Emily, showed us how to make stuffed peppers, mini sandwiches, and a cobbler that was to die for. However, my favorite part was the interaction and when they taught us how to properly build a campfire... something I knew nothing about. 

Next, I took the Intermediate rock climbing class by REI and Petzl. Here's a photo of our group on our way to the crag!   

I loved the one-on-one time I received in the class, it was only one other participant - Alyssa Ganong a writer for the Tahoe Weekly (check out this article she wrote), the instructor, and myself. The best part was being the first to ascend a new route, which I named "Volcan PK." 

In the evening I got ready for my speech, not going to lie, I was nervous. In the end my speech turned out great and I was happy with my message. :)

Here is a sample of what my schedule looked like for Saturday... 

This was Amy's tent where we enjoyed our Saturday and Sunday soulful morning meditation sessions by the wonderful Kristine Carlson.

After meditation,  I co-lead a hike to high alpine Emigrant Lake, it was such a beautiful day with a surprise lift ride up to the trail head!

Walking through the forest was so lovely, we took in all the oxygen and happily hiked up to the lake where some of us decided to take a quick dip in it's refreshing water. 

We commemorated our hike with a photo of our tribe. :)

I  ended Saturday with a session by the talented Chris Bukard, who spoke on all things photography. 

I was very happy to have been a part of this event. I learned new things- they had so many classes to choose from. There was a true sense of camaraderie and friendships made, the classes were instructed by true pros, and the talks were awe-inspiring. 

I am looking forward to speaking and leading another hike on September 9-11, at Powder Mountain! It's not too late to join me. Get more details here or get a pass now, we have secured $52 off the 3-day event & camping using code "52Hikes52OFF" or $20 off a single day pass using code "Friend20" - all activities, meals, drinks are included. 

107.1 The Bull Features The 52 Hike Challenge

We had the honor of being featured on 107.1 The Bull, a Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin radio station, last week August 4th. We chatted with The Crooked Crew's Stef Z and Guy David about the 52 Hike Challenge, how people in Wisconsin can find trails,  including the Historic Ice Age Trail and gain the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of getting outdoors weekly! 

Press Play To Check It Out ->

Connect with TheBull107.1 on their Facebook.

Aether x 52 Hike Challenge Pop-Up Hike to Paradise Falls

We had the pleasure of co-hosting a pop-up hike with AETHER Apparel to Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park. All atendees received a gift and goody bag courtesy of Aether to start off the event. *Get 10% off any AETHER Apparel purchase with code: "52HIKE"

A huge shout out to Cas aka @auralflo23 for putting this event on with us and futhermore, sharing her inspiring story on how hiking has kept her going after a motorcycle accident and recent surgery.

It is an honor to bring people and our community together through stories, social platforms, and events. Check out some photos of the event below.

Bill - the cutest dog on the trail. :) 

Bill - the cutest dog on the trail. :) 

Awesome teepee on the way down to the falls.

Awesome teepee on the way down to the falls.

Paradise Falls

Paradise Falls

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay posted on the latest events. You can sign up here. 

REI Outessa Summit

How would you like to make friends with like-minded women, the chance to explore and learn all kinds of outdoor activities, rejuvenate your mind, body and soul? If this sounds like you, check out the REI Outessa Summit. I, Karla will be a keynote speaker at the both Tahoe and Powder Mountain retreats, in addition to leading a soul-inspiring hike at each event. 


Some of the perks of attending include: 

-Over $250 of Gear you get to take home

-All Food, Wine and Beer not to mention Fireside chats with s'mores

-Over 244 activities to choose from with 67 guides (5 to 1 Ratio = Participant to Guide)

For a limited time, we have secured a $52 off your order, simply use "52Hikes52OFF" during checkout or use "Friend20" off any day pass. 

Day Hiking Essentials for Women: Clothing, Footwear, and Accessories

@journey_to_lessismore  asked me, Karla: "What are you wearing ? I need some hiking clothing. Pants? Brand? Jacket? Brand?"

I figured I'd actually create a whole post on this... The short answer is that it depends on the season and what I am hiking. Overall I find myself using a lot of the same things though, these are my "essentials," I even went into detail on 11 different items every women should have and the best part....a lot are on sale now!

1. Undergarments: I like wearing a sports bra some thing like this Threads for Thought Costa Rica Sports Bra, and I recently bought my first pair of ExOfficio Give-N-Go Lacy Low-Rise Bikini Briefs. I have no complaints except that I wish they had thongs. :)  You should definitely be wearing moisture wicking materials for undergarments. If you don't know, never wear cotton, especially in the cold! Cotton retains moisture and takes a long time to dry, this means you could get a rash in the cold, which can even lead to hypothermia!  Moisture wicking material dries quickly, is highly breathable, and retains warmth even when wet. By the way, the Exofficio briefs and are treated with Aegis Microbe Shield to maintain freshness....we want to stay fresh, right ladies? :)  These are also an essential for backpackers and travelers who want to carry few key pieces of clothes, because they can be washed at night, and dry by the time you wake up.  While these are more expensive, they are worth every penny from a comfort and safety perspective, so it's a #1 must have!

2. Base layer top: I like this Mountain Hardware Canyon Shirt because it can be worn as a long or short sleeve. It offers cooling airflow panels, and also has built in UPF 30 sun protection. It wicks away moisture, dries fast if wet, and has a great pocket in the front to stow away items like my phone, maps, and chapstick. 

3. Pants: I absolutely LOVE my PrAna Convertible Pants! These pants stretch (great for rock climbing), have ripstop, and are water repellant. I have had mine for about a year now and they barely have any tears! Yep - I tend to get caught in rock or fall often... Did I mention, you can wear them like capris, shorts, and pants? They have cargo pockets for snacks (trail mix), my phone, etc. These pants are also great for traveling! When Phillip and I go abroad these are my #1 favorite item, because they are so versatile.  

4. Mid Layer: You will want to carry a mid layer for warmth and insulation. (You always want to pack as if you may need to spend the night out in the wild, just in case...)  Something like my Pantagonia Micro D Quarter-Zip Fleece Pullover is super lightweight and warm! It is ultrasoft, quick-drying (the microfleece used in this product is 85% recycled), and the zipper lets you vent out the heat if you get too warm. 

5. Top Layer aka External Shell: This layer protects you from the rain and wind. The shell I use is a North Face Venture Rain Jacket. I honestly love this jacket, and took it with me to Peru when I hiked Machu Picchu during the pouring rain. It kept me, and all my things dry (iPhone, etc).  I also really like the cut because it's form fitting. It is constructed with recycled HyVent fabric, is windproof, waterproof, has pit zips for ventilation, and engineered to withstand wilderness storms or for everyday use. :) 

6. Additional Insulation or Puffy Jacket: If it's really cold or if I am backpacking I have to have my Marmot Jena Down Jacket. It's super light, has 700-fill power goose down and is made of water resistant fabric. This jacket has kept me warm on many occasions and cold nights in the wilderness. 

7. Beanie: For cold mornings, evenings and camping, you will want to bring a wool cap like this Choaos Lovely Beanie. Why wool? Well its is warm, comfy, and if it was to get wet it will still keep you warm. Remember - never wear cotton, especially in the cold. 

8. Socks: Let's get down to the nitty gritty -  your feet are going to get hot and they will hurt when you've been on the trail for some time. I really like my SmartWool Hike Medium Crew socks. They keep my feet warm and dry, that's a plus when I am camping and backpacking; they also have a nice cushion without being too bulky. Personally, I prefer the mid-calf height as they keep out dirt and rocks, (I've noticed a lot of dirt inside my socks when I wear shorter ones.) These socks are all-purpose, three-season and recommended for summer, fall and spring.)

9. Footwear: A great pair of hiking shoes is a must when you're day hiking. I typically wear Salomon trail runners for day hikes, or my Vasque hiking boots if I need the ankle support. My choice depends on the terrain, weather, and how I am feeling that day. I have climbed many mountains with my Salomon's. I think that if you need more support, go for hiking boots, but if you're going fast and light, go with trail-runners. Right now I am using Salomon X Ultra Low II GTX Hiking Shoes. They have been super comfy and versatile enough to accompanied me as an everyday shoe when I walk a lot, like on my recent trips to Hawaii and Greece.  I like that they are waterproof,  breathable, made with Gore-Tex, lightweight, my feet always feel secure, plus they have great traction.


I recently went backpacking with about 40 lbs on my back and climbed Mt. Starr in the Sierras,  I opted to bring my Vasque Talus Trek Hiking Boots (these are similar Vasque Talus WP Hiking Boots) and they held up well. They were super comfy and had the support I needed. They have Vibram outer-soles and outright comfortable. I even broke them in on a 10-mile hike to Sandstone Peak without any problems or blisters. 

10. Hat: Ok - so I know that the following hats are not super fashionable but, they are definitely needed for the brutal sun. I've been noticing more dark spots than I'd like, so I want to protect my skin and the protection this hat provides outweighs being least on the trails.  My first choice for a day hike is the big brim hat with neck coverage. Something like the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat or the Chaos Summit Sahara Cap is great because they provide UPF sun protection, block UV rays, have wicking sweatbands, their capes protect your neck and ears. The Sahara cap has mesh panels to allow for breathing and cooling. I usually opt for this type of cap when I am peak bagging and use the big brimmed one when I am day hiking. 

11. Multifunction Headwear or a common name brand you might have heard, Buff: I really like this accessory because it can be worn as a bandanna, hairband, headband, scarf, and so much more! It keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is made of microfiber, wicks away moisture, and dries quickly. If you're into name brands the Buff is cool, but I personally prefer our very own 52 Hike Challenge Hele Lava Tube!  On a side note, I really like using mine to keep my ears and neck warm in the cold.  It's also thin enough to wear over your mouth to keep dust out.

So, there you have it, my hiking clothing, footwear, and accessory must-haves... I haven't started talking gear, or the classic "10 essentials" (things you need for survival and navigation like firestarter, map, etc), but now I'm inspired to share more as you all ask questions! 

We have affiliate links in this post which help us to keep this awesome and life changing movement going. Please consider using our links if you purchase anything at REI. Many of the items listed below are on sale, which we're sure you'll like! Hope this helps, and if you want me to talk about another subject, let me know via the comment section here or on Instagram!

Much Love - Karla

Tips When Hiking In The Heat

Summer's here and although it may be smart to avoid hiking in the heat-of-the-day, with proper planning you can still enjoy your weekly hikes! 

Here are some tips on staying safe when hiking in the heat: 

1) Be sure to apply Sunscreen 30 minutes before you get on the trails, and every 80 minutes thereafter. Lipbalm with SPF is a must as well. 

2) Water and Electrolytes. Hydrating days prior to a big hike can help to minimize the dehydration. You should always carry 2-3 liters of water, and extra in the heat. Hydrate after your hike with electrolytes too. A few things that can help are SaltStick Capsules, Nuun tablets, and good old Coconut water. 


3) A hat will help keep your head cool and protect you from direct sunlight as well. Ideally you should grab a hat that is lightweight, quick-drying, with SPF and UV protection. 

4) Hike early or early evening - or go for a night hike on the next full moon! The summer is a perfect time to get up early and watch the sunrise or an evening sunset hike. 

5. Recognize the symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. 

If you have any other tips please comment below! Stay safe and enjoy your hikes. 

Challenger Feature June: Katherine Buck On The Camino De Santiago

Have you heard about the Camino de Santiago? According to Wikipedia, "it is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes, to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth." It's definitely on our radar. Congrats and best wishes to Katherine Buck aka @kt_buck who is taking the pilgrimage!

Cairn Box Review

We were given a 3-month Cairn box subscription to review.

For those of you new to Cairn, it is an outdoors inspired subscription box service that sends you monthly goods.

Here is how it works: 


You subscribe for $25 monthly and receive outdoor goodies, up to $35 + retail value in each box. You never know what you might get, so it's a surprise every time your box arrives!

They also have a Rolls Royce of subscription boxes, you can opt to get "The Obsidian Box" which includes, $300 + retail value in each box, 6-10 premium outdoor product, only limited quantities are available!


You'll receive 1 curated box each month to inspire you for your next outdoor adventure. Some of the items we received in our boxes included a bandana and collapsible water bottle - perfect for short local hikes. Mini tongs and salt and pepper holder- perfect for camping and backpacking. Samples of energy chews, bars, and electrolytes. In short, you get to discover 4 to 5 new brands and products monthly!


After you receive your box you become a member of their community!  You get to give your opinions on products, which help impact the direction of the outdoor industry.


You accumulate points for each contribution, after a certain amount of review and point are earned, you can reward your friends or yourself with a free box!

Our opinion: We liked the element of surprise and excitement when our boxes arrived. We definitely enjoyed using some of the products, but best of all we get to share these treats with you! Some of the items have been given out at our pop-up hikes! So thank you Cairn for the cool gifts and helping us to keep our community inspired.  

*Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission, which helps us to keep the 52 Hike Challenge going. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Southern California's New Backpacking Destination: Backbone Trail

The 67 mile trail is set to open on June 4th just in time for National Trails Day!

“The Backbone Trail shows what a dedicated community can do if they set their minds to it,” said David Szymanski, superintendent for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “The Backbone Trail has been a 40-year labor for elected officials, parks agencies, volunteers and philanthropists. When finished, the trail will form the spine of a 500-mile network of trails that connects the residents of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties to their public lands.”

One of the key actions to complete the trail was the generous donation of a 40-acre parcel of land in Zuma Canyon by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness entrepreneur Betty Weider. The property, valued at more than $500,000, represents the single largest private donation for the Backbone Trail.

“I am honored to accept this donation from two of our nation’s most recognizable proponents of fitness and physical activity,” added Szymanski.  

“California State Parks is proud to have played a key role in protecting and preserving some of the most pristine and and undeveloped sections of the Backbone Trail,” said Craig Sap, district superintendent for California State Parks. “We congratulate all of the partners, including volunteers, who worked for so long to make this long-held dream a reality.”

The primary sources of public funds were state and local park bonds, as well as the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“The Backbone Trail has been a more than 40 year journey to preserve, protect, and connect the parklands of these extraordinary mountains while providing recreational access for everyone who seeks the solace of nature here,” said Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP, executive director for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. “Its completion is a testament to the strength of our shared values, the power of idealism, and so many determined people -- quite literally -- on their hands and knees with spades in hand navigating the twists and turns of topography, land acquisition, and political will.”

The National Park Service and its partners will celebrate the grand opening of the trail on Saturday, June 4 from 9am-12pm at Will Rogers State Historic Park. The event is free and open to the public.

The Backbone Trail traverses one of Southern California's largest remaining tracts of undeveloped landscape, a well-preserved mix of chaparral-covered hillsides, oak woodlands, and rocky outcrop spires.

Because overnight camping options are minimal at this point, the National Park Service recommends hiking the trail in sections (see camping options here). The long-term vision is to create a small number of backcountry tent sites that would be available by permit only.


So all we want to know is who ready? Because we are! - Karla and Phillip

Download the map here

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit

Hiking Safety Tips: Ice Axe and Crampons by Phillip

First, we want all of you to be safe, so please avoid the snow and ice in the mountains until you have taken a class on ice axe and crampons from a mountain guiding company, they will teach you the proper techniques on how to use these tools.

The Ice Axe is use for self-arrest when falling and should always accompany a foot traction device.

Crampons are metal spikes (usually 10-12 spikes) that fasten to the bottom of your boot to give you traction in the snow. In-step crampons only have 4 spikes and do not cover the whole foot, so we don’t recommend these. Microspikes are not for climbing and should only be used on relatively flat hikes in the snow. Rubber traction devices (i.e. Yaktrax) should only be used in urban environments, they will NOT give you the proper traction to be safe in the mountains. We only recommend full crampons because the spikes are much longer, thicker and will give you the protection you need to be safe.


Please be aware that sometimes the ice can be so hard that none of these tools will penetrate the ice, in which case the safest thing to do is to turn back and return another day. Remember, it’s the hike and getting outdoors that counts, not the summit. There are many hikes to choose from below snow line, so please be safe!