Women of Color in the Outdoors

When I, Karla, first started getting outdoors I did not know of a lot of culturally diverse women who were avid hikers or adventurers. As time progressed, and once I started the #52HikeChallenge, I started using outdoors based hashtags and found a plethora of inspiring women in the outdoors who are a #ForceOfNature!

One woman I really admire is Georgina Miranda, when I think of her, I think that anything is possible for me as a Hispanic woman in the outdoors. Born to Nicaraguan and Salvadorian parents, she discovered the outdoors in her mid 20’s. (My parents are also from El Salvador, so this made me uber excited!) Miranda is an adventurer, entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, activist, and founder of Altitude Seven- an adventure lifestyle media platform for women inspiring them to live an adventure filled life and helping them find relevant stories, products, experiences, and community.

So why is she so admirable? She has climbed six of seven summits around the world, including Mt. Everest. (This seems impossible for someone who could barely run a mile in 2007.) Currently, she is attempting the Explorer Grand Slam which includes all seven summits and skiing the last degree of the North and South Pole, her goal is to complete it by 2018!

Miranda on Mt. Everest - the highest mountain in the world!

Miranda on Mt. Everest - the highest mountain in the world!

I took the time to interview Miranda, and here’s what she had to share about her journey in climbing:

Which of the seven summits have you completed? 

“To date I have climbed six of the eight summits, including Mt. Everest (2011 & 2013), with Antarctica (Mt. Vinson + South Pole), Carstensz Pyramid, and the North Pole left to go. Yet there are endless mountains to climb in the literal sense and in life.”

Why did you decide to start climbing mountains? 

“I was inspired to get serious about climbing back in 2007 after reading Eve Ensler's account of her visit to Democratic Republic of Congo documenting the issue of gender-based violence that had plagued the country. The stories were hard to read, but shed light that awareness and resources were needed. These women were incredibly strong and resilient and Eve’s mission was to turn their pain to power.”

What about that story made you want to climb mountains? 

“I thought to myself, what’s the most challenging thing I can put myself through to raise funds and awareness for a cause? I was reading up on different things I could do, and none excited me. Since I was a hiker and wanted to visit the seven continents as a kid, when I learned about the summits and read not a lot of women had done it- I thought, now this is something I can do.”

What was the first major peak you climbed? 

“My first mountaineering course was Mt. Rainier in June of 2008, we made it 200 feet from the summit but had to turn around due to a storm. Then I climbed Mt. Elbrus in Russia July 2008”

What was your training program to get you to the first peak? 

“Physically- lots of hiking. I was living in LA at the time, and I would summit Mt. Baldy, San Jacinto and San Gorgonio every other week for eight months. There was also running.”

Were you ever afraid? If so, how did you get over the fear? 

“I wasn’t afraid of failing or not completing the challenge, I was more afraid of not trying.  I would have more regrets sitting at home, so might as well go do it.”

One of the biggest reasons we become afraid is that we look at the end goal, instead of breaking down the goal to manageable steps. As the saying goes, “If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail.” -Benjamin Franklin. One of the reasons we believe the 52 Hike Challenge is powerful is because we’ve laid out a plan for success. The goal is 52 hikes, the baby steps to getting there is to commit yourself to one hike per week. Apply this concept to any other goal and you’re halfway there.

Miranda also had a plan for success, she took her time, and saved money to start her journey. However, as the unexpected occurs in life, she hit a bump along the way and got “derailed.” In 2011, she had to turn around when climbing Mt. Everest due to altitude sickness: hypoxia. Then there was timing: financially she got laid off and felt she had a lot of unexpected delays. In 2013, she started her company Altitude Seven. It took her years to get back to her goal with all the detours. She now hopes to complete her Explorer Grand Slam by April 2018.

What advice do you want to give to someone who wants to follow your footsteps? 

“Start somewhere, get your fitness level up. Endurance-wise start by running 3 to 5 miles, train with weights, and breathing at altitude. Start with smaller mountains and work your way up, take courses, get comfortable walking eight hours plus, and train your mind! Take the time to educate yourself on what to expect when you get out there. Reading “No Shortcuts to the Top” by Ed Viesturs and David Roberts was inspiring. Learn from people who are doing what you want to do, and educate yourself about the things you’re passionate about.”

Miranda on Mount Kilimanjaro

Miranda on Mount Kilimanjaro

Education is an investment that I believe is important to taking the next step in one’s outdoor endeavors. Right now, REI is offering various #ForceOfNature women's classes and events. You can find classes on backpacking, map and compass, meetups and more. You can also learn some of these skills at their Outessa summits.

Is there anything else you want to add? 

“Always remember why you started - that is what keeps you going.”

Miranda and I share the same theory on starting a big project or goal… Set your sights high and acknowledge fear will be present. However, you can work to break down the goal to manageable steps and learn to sit with the fear (it’s only a feeling.) “Working on facing your fears is like working out a muscle.” Once you overcome one small fear, you can move through the feelings and push a little more out of your comfort zone until you are victorious. You’ll never know what heights you can reach if you don’t try.

I’m thankful I have culturally diverse outdoor women role models who are a #ForceOfNature. This community and climbing mountains have changed my life in ways I never knew possible. We can all take a life-changing journey, all it takes in one foot, in front of the other and realizing, if she can do it, so can you!

 *This post was brought to you in sponsorship with REI and may contains affiliate links which help fund the 52 Hike Challenge. 

Leave No Trace Ethics Explained: Principle 1: Know Before You Go

While hiking is an extremely beneficial activity, as hikers we need to be mindful of our impact on the outdoors and how to minimize that impact on the land, wildlife and other people. A great way to minimize impact is to use the seven Leave No Trace principles developed by the Center for Outdoor Ethics, an “organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly”. Over the next seven weeks, we’ll be blogging about the seven Leave No Trace principles, detailing one principle per week. Check back every Tuesday for a new post! Please leave your comments about how you put the LNT principles into practice in your outdoor endeavors or feel free to ask questions about the principles or how to put them into practice. We look forward to your feedback and discussion!

This week is all about preparation. LNT isn’t just about what happens on the trail; it includes planning to responsibly and safely enjoy the outdoors. Each principle has a front country and back country component. We’ll define front country as day hiking and back country as adventures that take you into the wilderness for one or more nights.

Principle 1 in the front country is:

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Before taking even a quick, familiar day hike, there are a few steps you should take the ensure a safe and successful hike.

1.       PACK FOOD, WATER AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING

Weather, trail conditions and accidents can all have unexpected impacts on our hikes, and it’s important to be prepared for delays or environmental changes. One of the most important ways to prepare for conditions, good or bad, is to make sure you’re carrying adequate water (2-4 liters per person per day), food and clothing. If you’re hiking in an area that experiences sudden, frequent weather changes pack warm/waterproof layers even if the weather is looking sunny and warm at the start of the hike. A great resource to check when preparing for any hike is REI’s 10 Essentials list. It includes tips and suggestions for carrying food, water, clothing and other important hiking gear.

2.       USE MAPS

Again, even on familiar hikes you should carry some form of map (and a printed copy as a backup!) Some great map sources are the USGS that provides topographic maps for free download or the AllTrails app that provides maps that can be downloaded to view offline (with paid subscription) and handy GPS so you can see your progress along the trail.

3.       LEASH PETS, BRING WASTE BAGS

Hiking with pets can be a wonderful relaxing and bonding experience, but it’s important to make sure to minimize our pets’ impact on the trails. Make sure to have pets on a leash and always carry out pet waste and dispose of properly off of the trail.

Human, leash & poopie bag

Human, leash & poopie bag

4.       RESEARCH AREA BEFORE VISIT

In order to know what kind of weather, trail and environmental conditions to expect and plan accordingly (like how much water to carry), it helps to conduct a bit of research about the trail area before heading out. In addition to providing maps, AllTrails is a great resource for conducting this research. The app allows users to leave reviews, photos, etc. that can be helpful when planning to know what kinds of conditions to expect on a certain trail.

5.       LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING AND WHEN YOU’LL RETURN

This is a simple but important step to take before any hike. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a quick text or post-it that says where you’ll be hiking and when you plan to be in touch. It may sound overly simple or silly, but it’s important safety step to take. In the event of an accident or emergency, this simple information can save valuable time and effort in locating you or others along a trail.

The back country version of this principle is similar with a few more involved steps for overnight travel:

PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE

1.       Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit

Once you’ve picked out a place you will be backpacking, you will need to know if a permit is needed to enter the area, if fires are permitted, or if you will need bear canisters, etc. You will most definitely want information on water sources, route options, weather etc. It’s important to check with the agency that manages the land you will be visiting. We’ve also found it helpful to check with recent hikers on trail conditions using Facebook, Instagram and hashtags.

2.       Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies

As we mentioned earlier it is imperative to be up to date on weather before you head out the door. You will want to note if the area you are visiting has any hazards, avalanche, fire dangers, or flash floods, etc. You should always have a plan in case of inclement weather, including having phone numbers to local agencies in case of emergencies. We also recommend having a SPOT or similar GPS device just in case.

3.       Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use

It is a good idea to think about visiting high season vs. low season, many times parks implement a permit system to minimize the amount of people on popular trails. If you plan to visit in the high season you will most likely need to apply for a permit and you are not guaranteed a spot. Whenever possible, consider visiting when it is the low season to maximize your chance of visiting your desired destination, sans the crowds.

Visiting Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest during the low season... We had the place all to ourselves.

Visiting Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest during the low season... We had the place all to ourselves.

4.       Visit in small groups when possible

Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Trails are subject to erosion, the more people on the trial the bigger the impact. When planning group trips and hikes, try to keep the groups small or break out into several smaller groups. This also gives other hikers the quiet time and solace they go to the wild for.  

5.       Repackage food to minimize waste

Take food out of the original packaging and try to find ways to reduce the trash that you would need to carry back out. For example, you can take several oatmeal single serve packages and place into one larger bag for several days, thus cutting down on trash.

6.       Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging

Before you head into the backcountry you should know how to use a map and compass. Always carry a printed map because you can’t count on cell phone GPS due to battery life, potential loss, etc. Plus consider that cairns can’t be trusted. Remember leaving no trace includes leaving the environment in its natural state. Don’t know how to navigate in the backcountry? REI offers classes in store.

Photo Cred: Alice Donovan Rouse

Photo Cred: Alice Donovan Rouse

Want to learn more about Leave No Trace or the principles in this post? Check out the Center for Outdoor Ethics and their online awareness course, or find a course near you.

We’d love to hear how you’re preparing for your hikes and how you incorporate these Leave No Trace steps in your prep. Leave us a comment below sharing your process!

Article by Chrissy Livergood and Karla Amador

*This post contains some affiliate links which help fund the 52 Hike Challenge

Cultural Customs In The Outdoors That Make Women A #ForceOfNature

When I, Karla, was in Guatemala in December 2015, Phillip and I, had set our hearts to climb the tallest mountain in the country, Volcan (Volcano) Tajumulco. It was right before the New Year and we were in Lago Atitlan, approximately 8 hours away from the town of San Marcos.

Kayaking in Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

Kayaking in Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

We decided to head out and attempt the climb.

1 boat ride and 5 sketchy bus rides later, we finally reached the little town of San Marcos. When we arrived we hired a local to show us the way to the peak the following morning. On December 31st our alarm woke us up at 3:30 a.m. to meet our guide.  It was freezing cold, and for a moment, we contemplated just staying in bed under the warm blankets. After a minute or two, we got up realizing this is what we came here for, so we met our guide and started our trek up the volcano before sunrise.

As we hiked, I saw a cold glittery frost covering the floor and heard other footsteps of people on the trail too. As the morning light started to appear we came across a large crowd of people. It was very strange to us, so we started asking, why there were so many people on the trail?

We found out that the locals climb the volcano to celebrate the New Year.  They set off firecrackers and held celebrations at the peak.  During the hike, I saw hundreds of local women climbing in dresses, skirts, and sandals.  The women were of all ages and it was admirable to see culture trumped weather.

I wondered how the women had the drive and stamina to make it to the top? It became clear that customs and traditions are very powerful. It is a glue that makes us feel empowered and we are a part of something bigger. It may have been tough, but these women all wanted the same thing: to celebrate another year with their loved ones and community on the highest point in their country. All these women are a #ForceOfNature.

On the summit of Volcan Tajumulco, 13,845 FT

On the summit of Volcan Tajumulco, 13,845 FT

I wondered what other cultural traditions take place in the outdoors that make women feel like unique or empowered. So I asked our wonderful 52 Hike Challenge community to share how they celebrate their customs in the outdoors. 

Regina Salazar told us she and her family camp in the Sequoias at Dinkey Creek every year.  “We plan the menu before our trip & prepare accordingly! Our Sunday ritual is enjoying a bowl of menudo (Mexican soup!) This hearty meal keeps us sustained for the daily outdoor water activities we have planned. The tortillas are warmed on the comal (a flat grill used in Mexico) over the open fire! The menudo simmers in the Dutch oven over the open flame as well. All the fresh garnishments for our delicious bowl of menudo are cut fresh in our outdoor make shift kitchen. Cilantro is cut, onions are diced, the lemon is sliced & the tepin chiles are ready to bring the spice our taste buds crave! There is something about #menudosundays in our Mexican culture. It's about family, togetherness, and creating memories, as each of our family members contribute to create a delicious meal. Menudo is created with love & the intent to fill our stomachs up as much as our hearts as well.”

Ana Soto added, “When I was little, my great grandfather and grandparents used to walk from one ranchito (a small ranch) to another, through the woods to take a shortcut. I was lucky enough to go along, I think that is where my love of hiking comes from… During these trips (2 to 6 hours long) we crossed rivers, creeks, and went around mountains. When the walking became hard, they talked about dedicating the physical sacrifice and suffering to someone who was in need of spiritual help, and they would pray. This is something I now do when the climb gets hard. I dedicate my pain to a good cause and my pain and suffering reduces. I think that in the middle of meditating/praying I forget about my pain. My great-grandfather would also take breaks by leaning on big trees. He would say that those trees were full of life and strength they would share with you if you asked. I do this when I hike and when I run. He would walk barefoot to "hear the earth." I was very lucky to walk with him, he was almost 100 years old when he died.”

Pooja Babbrah shared, “In India there are a lot of temples and shrines that require hiking. One in particular where my family is from (Jammu and Kashmir) is called Vashno Devj. It's a temple in a cave approximately 16 km hike up a steep mountain. There is a whole story behind it, but basically one of our goddesses hid in the cave which is now a shrine in her name. When you hike up, you keep saying "Jai mata Di" which is basically a way to show respect to "Mata" or the mother/goddess. People usually start hiking in the middle of the night to reach the top in the morning and then go into the cave for worship. You will see all types of people on the trail: young, old, handicapped, blind...but somehow they make it up. By putting one foot in front of the other saying "Jai mata di". It is truly an amazing, spiritual experience.”

We women, can keep our cultural customs while enjoying nature. Whether it is celebrating the New Year on top of a volcano, creating a meal with our loved ones at camp, touching a tree, or taking a spiritual journey, it is important to maintain our culture alive. It makes us unique, it makes us empowered and makes us a #ForceOfNature.

*This post was sponsored in partnership with REI, the official retailer and outfitter of the 52 Hike Challenge and contains affiliate links which help fund the challenge. Thank you for your support.  

REI Announces 2017 Outessa Series: Outdoors Weekends For Women

REI announced their new Outessa series, Super fun outdoor weekends designed for women!

At the events you can find your tribe, do what you love, and try something new in some of the country’s most beautiful outdoor playgrounds! During their three-day retreats, you can choose from hundreds of activities, from rock climbing and mountain biking to yoga and hiking. All gear for activities, instruction, and chef-prepared meals are included. REI is hosting three event this year:

·         Kirkwood, CA: July 14-16

·         Mt Hood Skibowl, OR: August 18-20

·         Waterville Valley, NH: September 22-24

Last year, I, Karla, spoke and participated at these events and they we're really fun, educational and I made some wonderful friends! Personally, I highly recommend you give it a shot, because you get to participate in as many classes as you wish. I personally really enjoyed the navigation and the morning meditation classes! You get goodies like socks and swag, and not to mention the yummy food! Speakers included Chris Burkard, and Kristine Carlson. By the way, did I mention there was glamping?  

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The good news is we got you the hookup! Use the following discount codes when signing up at  http://www.outessa.com/ and get the best rates today: 

·         REI Outessa Kirkwood, discount code: KirkwoodFriends&Family

·         REI Outessa Mt Hood, discount code: MtHoodFriends&Family

·         REI Outessa Waterville Valley, discount code: WValleyFriends&Family

*This post may contains affiliate links which help us to keep the #52HikeChallenge thriving! Thank you for your support. 

When Mosquitos Attack... A Conversation About Bug Repellants with Sawyer

In our latest podcast we interviewed Sawyer Products about bug repellants. Make sure to listen to it here.

In that conversation I, Karla, talked about what mosquitos did to my face on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Mountains last year. Well I wasn't kidding. Check out the photo below.

I used all-natural repellant when on that trip, unfortunately, it did not help at all. So, in an effort to save you the same torture, we have shared some other choices in repellants before heading out on a mosquito infested trip. You're welcome. 

Comment on US Dept of Interior National Monument Review

A few years ago, I, Karla, went on a life changing solo-road trip.

I spent three weeks exploring our national parks, monuments, and even climbed the Grand Teton.

One of the places I visited was Craters of The Moon National Monument in Idaho, which is currently being reviewed by the US Department of Interior.

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Right now we have the opportunity to speak up and protect our lands. Phillip and I urge you to let your voice be heard. These lands have transformed our lives, and we want to make sure they stay protected for us and our future generations to enjoy. Please take a moment to send a comment to Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke about this review. Be specific in mentioning a monument that is currently on the review list. Then submit your comment through REI - click here! It will only take 5 minutes, but please don't delay, our time is limited, we only have until May 26, 2017 to comment about Bear Ears National Monument and July 10, 2017 for all others. 

Lastly, Modern Hiker has done an excellent job of covering the basics... Learn more here.  

52 Hike Challenge Featured by REI in Force Of Nature Magazine

It is an honor to share how the 52 Hike Challenge began.

Growing up a teen mom, I, Karla felt ashamed for many years because I thought I let my family down. I stayed in an unhealthy marriage for over a decade because I thought that was what I "should do."

One day I hit rock bottom and knew I had to change. I found self love, and met my soulmate and co-founder of the 52 Hike Challenge, Phillip, who took me hiking. It was with his support and my own inner work, that my life truly changed. I am so thankful to Phillip, for guiding me through my personal #52hikechallenge, and showing me everything I know about nature's healing powers.

Thank you to every single person who believes in what we do at the here at the 52 Hike Challenge - we have big dreams and goals and we're just getting started. Thank you REI for believing in us to represent the #forceofnature movement. Thank you to every single 52 Hike Challenger, who is now taking the torch, and making an impact by taking on our challenge too - you are a #forceofnature

REI Force Of Nature Celebration

Phillip and I, Karla, are so excited to announce that we're coming to San Francisco May 4 - May 7 to celebrate #ForceOfNature sponsored by REI and will be hosting/speaking at various events you can join us at!

If you don't know what Force of Nature is all about check out the video below. 

•May 4: Meet The #52HikeChallenge Founders at Berkeley REI
•May 6: Making the Outdoors a Lifestyle Choice at San Francisco REI
•May 6: Women's Paddlesports Party at China Camp State Park
•May 6: Force of Nature Celebration at Battery Godfrey, San Francisco, Golden Gate National Rec Area
•May 7: Pop-up Hike to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore

All of the events are FREE to attend, so come join us for a weekend of adventure! Get more details and RSVP HERE! We look forward to meeting and hiking with you then! 

52 Hike Challenge Attends Sierra Mountaineering International Avalanche School Level 1

It’s amazing how much people don’t know about the dangers that can occur in the backcountry (off-trail) when there are snow conditions. Many people are not aware of these conditions because at resorts, they trigger avalanches before the lifts open, in order to ensure safety, but when mountaineering it’s important to know the dangers that exist.

 

I, Phillip, took the SMI Avalanche School Level 1 course in Bishop, CA over the weekend of April 7th and was amazed about how much I didn’t know. I was also surprised at how lucky I’ve been, because I have certainly been in avalanche condition environments and didn’t know the signs before.

 

I learned things like how wind direction, temperature, and a lot of other factors contribute to avalanche conditions. For example, there is a metamorphosis that occurs between the snow layers. If a layer of snow bonds well to the previous layer, the snow is safe. However, if it is a weak layer – a slab avalanche can occur. In the class we not only understood the course material, but did case studies, and went out into the field to observe avalanche terrain. We got our hands dirty with building snow pits, learning about compression tests, and other factors to evaluate safe conditions. The most important information I personally learned, was how to find buried people using a transceiver (avalanche beacon) and recover them quickly! Not only was the class informational it was actually fun. This class was hands down, one of the best classes I’ve taken, and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to explore the backcountry.

Kurt and his guides at SMI brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to this class. This course follows the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) curriculum and meet requirements for most mountain guides, ski patrollers, club trip leaders, and other outdoor professionals. This is an ideal first course for those new to travel in avalanche terrain and a great review or upgrade for anyone who has some experience or prior training but feels they need a skills “tune-up.” The Level 1 is designed as a stand-alone course for back-country travelers; it also serves and an introduction to avalanches and is a lead in to the AIARE Level 2 Course for those who wish to progress.

Here at the 52 Hike Challenge, we want you to be educated and prepared. We host classes like this with SMI and plan to offer more in the future. If you are interested in signing up to be notified when there is another Snow Avalanche Course, or a Snow Travel Course which teaches you how to use an ice axe, crampons, rope and more,  make sure to sign up for our email list below. 

U.S. National Park Fee Free Days & Free 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The National Park System encompasses 417 national parks in the United States, 59 of those sites are National Parks. What's even better is that  the US National Parks offer fee free days in 2017! In addition, we were notified that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be waiving park entrance fees on certain days in 2017, that's a savings of $30 if traveling via vehicle! You can get additional park entrance fee information here. (The entrance fee waiver does not cover other user fees for things like camping, lodging, equipment rental, or special programs that charge a fee.) We also learned that Canada National Parks is offering their very own Free 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass thanks to 52 Hike Challenge participant @tanawheatcroft, with a Discovery Pass, you will have unlimited opportunities to enjoy national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites across the country! 

The remaining 2017 US National Park entrance fee-free days are as follows:

  • April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

In addition, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be waving entrance fees on the following days:

  • June 3: National Trails Day
  • August 12: A Day Honoring Buffalo Soldiers
  • December 10: Celebration of the General Grant Tree: Nation’s Christmas Tree

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Details on Free 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass:

As we mentioned earlier, you can get a free Parks Canada Discovery Pass in 2017 which ensures free entry to places managed by Parks Canada. It does not apply to provincial, municipal or private parks, nor to the many historic sites not managed by Parks Canada. Please refer to the complete list of Parks Canada places when planning your visit to take full advantage of the Discovery Pass. Lastly, you will need to order your Canada Discovery ahead of time, you can do that here. 

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So there you have it, many more reasons and amazing places to hike and explore for your 52 Hike Challenge! 

Cheers! - Phillip and Karla

Top 5 Tips on Reserving Havasupai Permits

Liliana Anais, wrote in to us to ask the following question: "I have been trying to hike Havasu Falls but haven't been able to get a permit do you by chance know of an easier way to get a permit? The only other open I found was extremely expensive and didn't want to go that route. Any help or advice would be appreciated." So we decided to take the time to collect our community's responses on their top tips to getting permits to Havasupai Falls. Check out the top 5 tips to reserving Havasupai permits below. 

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1. Plan ahead. 

YOU MUST HAVE A PERMIT/RESERVATION TO VISIT.  Only overnights are allowed, you cannot day hike it. Reservations open in February and they book up quick! For the first time this year, online reservations were taken, however, they are currently sold out. (This is the message from their website. UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: Due to overwhelming reservation requests our online reservations will be unavailable. We are working with Sunrise Reservations to make online reservations available in the future. Please check back. For campground reservations you can also still call the Tourist Office at 928-448-2121.  For Havasupai Lodge reservations please call them directly 928-448-2111.

  • shelovesarizona They have now posted a website this year for permits. http://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com. They release the permits on February 1st, my advice would be to plan now for 2018 and be ready to book on February 1, 2018. We booked on February 2nd (the day they released the online system) and by the end of the day they were about gone. Thousands of people come here every year so it fills up quick. Please note - You HAVE to have a permit to backpack and camp. 
  • weputthefuinfun Been a couple times, and never had an issue getting a permit but then social media came and I haven't tried since, as with any permit situation important to plan way in advance, also important to note that they make you pay for an overnight trip, you don't have to camp, but you have to pay for a site, as it warms up plan to leave early, it warms up quickly, especially on the hike out.
  • Sigifredo Zepeda They have a website now but they only take reservations on Feb 1st. Within that first week, they get booked for the whole year. Unless you get lucky and someone cancels. Also they changed their terms of payment... One has to pay for everyone and all the days of the camping trip all at once now. 

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2. Be flexible and plan to visit off season or on weekdays.

  • rachelecornett Consider going in the off season. Weather was good and no crowds!
  • Pamela Michal There is really no easy way to get a reservation... The thing is you need to keep dialing over and over. It's pretty much booked through Oct I believe. Best of luck next year or try to go when it's not the busy time. We went in October and it was beautiful!!
  • Katrina Reid I finally got through after 2 days of calling. They are all booked through October so I made reservations for the end of November. Won't be able to swim but at least I'll see the beautiful water falls. Oh and yes they charged my card for all 4 people.
  • hisnheradventures  This year they raised the prices.  Going during the week is much easier than a weekend. One needs four days to enjoy the trip including the long drive. Hope that helps.

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3. Be Persistent. Cancellations do occur.

  • springs2002 Be persistent and keep calling them. Eventually you'll get thru to their reservation office.
  • sabrinabattistagollust I did Havasu last year and I believe it took me and one other girl 3 months of calling to get through. We would go through spurts of 5-6 hours of calling non-stop every day, and then we got kinda discouraged, and did every few days for a few hours. The key was persistence... Also if you join the Havasu Facebook page that could be helpful. I know I saw last year a lot of people would say they suddenly couldn't go anymore and we're giving away their dates. If anybody has any questions about Havasu feel free to pm me. 
  • backpacking_beauties As of now it is booked, but people make cancellations all the time, so I would keep an eye out. Check often because in the beginning people book whatever dates they can get, just to later change them when the more ideal dates open up.
  • shoestringadventures Be flexible and try calling to see if there are last minute cancellations when you are available to go!

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4. Reserve the lodge.

Rates start at $145 per night for up to four people, deposits + permits additional. Get more information here.

chuangers Currently responding from the In N Out in Kingman, AZ after 3 amazing nights at Havasupai. It's much easier getting lodge reservations than campsites. I booked a year in advance and went during the off season. Way less people at the falls and on the trails. Also calling right at 8 am repeatedly or right before 8 am helps too. Good luck and happy trails!

5. Be Respectful. Be Educated. Pack it in pack it out.

  • taniainnature Havasupai is such a magical place! This is a sacred place for the Havasupai people and for that reason it should be respected and taken care of. We are all guests to these lands let's pack our trash on our way out 😁😁
  • jazohikes74  Please if you do visit Respect their Reservation and do not criticize their way of living. Let's also keep that beautiful place clean for everyone to enjoy! Best of luck for those 2018 permits! 😊👏👣❤️
  • ssvuv2010 Please clean up after yourselves: everything from chairs, inflatables, food scum, candy wrappers, etc. It is quite disappointing to see trash all over the trail as you go in thru the canyon and throughout the campsite. Be aware. Be conscious. Love our earth. Keep it clean.

We hope you've enjoyed these tips and if you have any comments leave them below. - Phillip and Karla 

                                        Get everything you need for the perfect Havasupai trip at REI!

                                        Get everything you need for the perfect Havasupai trip at REI!

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…

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The KRAVE bars are available to the public now. Go to www.kravejerky.com 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!

HIKE 52!!! I FINISHED THE CHALLENGE!! WAHOOOOO! #52hikechallenge

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."

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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: https://fojt-climb-smart-2016.eventbrite.com

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. :)