That Certain Something About the Outdoors

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Spot the girl. Extra points if you spot the dog!

There’s just something about being outside, I mean really outside, away from crowds and man-made things,  that is hard to pin point. It’s best described as something that eases the mind, awakens the soul, and refreshes the body. In other words, it does a lot of good in a lot of ways. Maybe it’s the fresh, crisp air, or the untrampled, somewhat unexplored ground beneath one’s feet. Maybe it’s the views that are unlike anything ever made by man. Maybe it’s the sounds, or lack thereof, or the wildlife that is just as curious about you as you are of it. Maybe it’s the smells – the pine needles, the wild flowers, the sweet grasses, the dry dirt… Maybe it’s the sense of solitude, or self-sufficiency or a necessity for survival – some primitive instinct that begins to emerge when one is far from civilization.

Whatever it is, it’s something that I like and something that I genuinely believe is a good something. It’s not always realistic to get outside – really outside – all that often. With our fast paced, packed schedules and obligations it can be a challenge to get out into nature even one weekend a month.

So I’ve set out to try to pinpoint some ways in which we can try to capture that something and infuse it into our daily lives. A feeble attempt to bring a little of that certain something about the outdoors home to tie us over and stimulate the senses until our next grand adventure when life allows us a chunk of time in which to get lost in nature.

Here goes:

1. Sight: The outdoors are full of beautiful, pure, natural sights and breathtaking views.

Try this! Decorate your home with landscape pictures, natural colors, and accents that bring aspects of the outside in. Check out Trekking Photography’s work.

TrekkingPhotography.com

TrekkingPhotography.com

2. Sound: The sound of the wind rustling through the grass and rustling through the trees. The sound of birds chirping and a stream gurgling…the sound of silence.

Try this! Leave your windows open and let the fresh air and the breeze in. Find a nice Pandora station that plays nature sounds.

3. Smell: In the outdoors your nose is met with natural scents of wild foliage and places untouched by man. They are pure and simple and interesting.

Try this! Bring the scent of the great outdoors inside with Juniper Ridge Wilderness Perfume. Cabin Spray: $40

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4. Mind and Soul: Outside, you can unplug and slow things down. There’s no rush and there’s too much to do, see, smell, and hear to even think about updating your Twitter. It’s just you, your thoughts, and your senses.

Try this! Unplug for a bit. Stow away your electronics for a night or a weekend. Take time to just think and to be aware of your surroundings and engage your senses. Take some of the time that you would normally spend on your phone or computer and instead try meditating. Or do something to care for yourself, such as a nice relaxing bath or a yoga class or reading a book you’ve been meaning to get to. Capture some of that slow-paced, quiet, reflection that being outside gives you.

When I’m outside I feel relaxed, happy, curious, and in awe. I think those are good things to feel. So my goal is to try to mimic what I feel when I’m outside in my daily life, even when I’m stuck inside.

11070515_10205339766405452_3832441715362798048_nLet me know what you do to bring that something about the outdoors into YOUR daily life in the comments!

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The Adventure of a Big Move

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Bring it on, 2015!

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Where will the road of life take you?

2015 is off to one heck of a start. It has already brought about some huge changes. My husband and I made the move from Washington to Northern California, and the prepping and planning of the move has kept us crazy busy for the past few months. Big moves, or any big life change for that matter, can be stressful, exciting, and a bit sad too. California is very different from Washington, and while my husband and I had spent some time living in the southern part of the state several years ago, we were fairly unfamiliar with the northern half.

We tackled this move with good attitudes, ready for whatever it might bring. The name of the game is adventure: the adventure of moving to a new place, of leaving things and people behind and of forging ahead to create a new life; the adventure of not knowing what lies ahead; the adventure of discovering new areas to play and roam in; and seeking out adventure wherever it can be found. Our free time has been spent exploring and getting to know our new surroundings. For us, being outdoors and spending time climbing in the mountains and fly fishing on creeks and rivers is of the utmost importance. So the first thing we did on our first weekend off in our new home was to hop in our car and scope out our surroundings. Together, with our little dog in the back seat, we sought out new places to get out in the wild.

Lucky for us, we didn’t have to search very long or far. The Sierras are just a quick drive away. Yosemite is right there too, and we plan on spending most of our free days getting lost in those mountains. (Read, a high volume of blog posts documenting our adventures in these places coming your way!)

As anyone who has ever moved knows, it’s hard. Here are a few things that I have learned about how to make a big move a little 10996995_10205199781505917_3536395246963317470_neasier:

1. Keep a good attitude and embrace the experience for the adventure that it is. (Having an amazing partner who is right there with you every step of the way doesn’t hurt either.) *wink* 

2. Seek out places and things that you love. Get acquainted with the new areas in which you will spend your time and can live out your passions in.

3. Establish a new routine.

4. Find the beauty around you. Find the adventure around you. Explore.

Fall Fly Fishing: Why You Should Do It and Some Tips For Success

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Many anglers make the mistake of thinking that once Fall comes around, it’s time to store the fly rod and wait it out until Spring. Not true, my friend. Fall is actually an amazing time to hit the river. The scenery is beautiful, the rivers are lower and easier to wade, fish densities are up due to migratory trout, and there are – as previously referenced – fewer people out there to compete with over fishing room. With a good pair of waders and some trusty boots, all that’s left is to bundle up and get out there.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while fly fishing in the Fall:

  • Trout Behavior. Several species of trout spawn in the Fall, and consequentially, they become much more territorial and aggressive than they are in the Summer. This can be a good thing for the Fall time angler. A lot of times in the Fall, fly fishermen will opt for streamers, as spawning trout are more likely to chase after and attack these types of flies because they simulate an intruder in the trout’s territory. However, I am here to urge you to give dry flies a chance. Fishing with dry flies in the fall can be fruitful and rewarding. There are still hatches going on through September and October, and trout will feed readily on dry flies, if you play your cards right. Pay attention to the colors and patterns that you choose. Nymphs and streamers, though an easy way to ensure that you catch a fish, wont offer the thrill and challenge that a dry fly will. If you pay attention to water temperature and sunlight, it is still very possible to experience great fishing on dry flies throughout the Fall.
  • Stealth Is Important. In the Fall, the sun is a lot lower in the sky during the day which means longer shadows. As every angler knows, shadows can spell disaster when trying to pull one over on a trout. A longer shadow, combined with lower water levels means that it is much easier for trout to see you coming. And, if a trout sees you coming, that’s it. Pay attention to where the sun is, and be mindful of your shadows and where they are being cast. Also, be sure that your clothing helps to camouflage you. Wearing neutral, autumn colors is a good idea. In other words, keep the neon in your closet.
  • Be Aware of Water Temperature. Typically, in the summer time, the best times of the day for fishing are the early morning and the evening. During the day, sunlight shines directly onto the water making it easier for fish to see you. Water temperatures get higher which causes the fish to get lazy, so it is generally agreed upon by anglers to be a good time to sit it out. But in the Fall, the opposite tends to be a good technique. Cooler water temperatures actually may result in the fish getting lethargic in the early morning and evening, and becoming more active mid-day when the temperatures rise a bit.

So, in case you needed any coaxing or motivation, there you have it! Fall is an excellent time to fly fish and it provides anglers like me who enjoy tactical fishing with even more elements to challenge our abilities.

Autumn Transitions

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Sometimes it seems like the end of summer comes so abruptly. One day you are wearing your cutoffs, summer dresses, and tank tops, and the very next day you are bundling up in wool sweaters and scarves. The arrival of Autumn can be sudden and extreme, and it can be hard to cope with the fact that it is now officially time to rotate out your wardrobe in preparation for the colder months ahead. Especially for the outdoor adventurer, the end of summer can be a somewhat gloomy prospect. It marks the end of carefree, dry, summer explorations, and promises less predictable and sometimes less pleasant weather that can tend to feel like it will inhibit all outside activities. But never fear! The arrival of Autumn does not need to mean the end of your adventures!

Here are some ways to help with your transition out of summer and into the colder weather that awaits us:

  • Beef Up Your Cold Weather Inventory! Just because the weather is turning, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get outside and have the time of your life. But it does mean that you need to make some changes to the gear you bring along. Take inventory of your cold weather gear. Make sure you have adequate rain accommodations, like waterproof clothing, gaiters, and shelter. Switch your light weight quilt out for your 0 degree sleeping bag. Stock up on a Merino Wool hat, base layers, and socks. And be sure to throw in hand warmers, instant coffee, and some Mountain House meals – because nothing beats a hot meal on a cold night in the backcountry. If done right, a cool Autumn night spent under the stars can be an unbeatable experience. The key is preparedness.
  • Commit To Your Adventures. The thing is, in the summer time it is easy to go camping on a whim, or throw your fly rod in the back seat and head out to the river for the day. The sun is shining, the weather is great, and the cold isn’t a factor. As the seasons turn though, it can be harder to find the motivation to step into the river or head up into the mountains when it’s chilly out. So, the solution is to make solid plans for your adventures, pack up all of your cold weather gear (that you have already taken inventory of and ensured that you have), and -this is the important part- DO IT! Just do it. No excuses. A little cold is certainly worth the memories you will make. Mark your adventures on your calendar so that it is harder for you to back out. Commit to getting outside, even in the colder months. As long as you have the right gear, you will be comfortable and have a great time.
  • Find Motivation In the Season. Autumn can be one of the most beautiful times of the year to get out into nature. With the changing colors and crisp, clear air, you will find scenery that you wont get in the Summer. Autumn is an excellent time to hit the river for fly fishing. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that with the end of Summer, it is time to store your fly rod. The view from the middle of a river surrounded by yellow Aspens is something that you just have to see to believe. And you wont see it if you don’t get out there. So find motivation in those seasonal sights and go explore!

Don’t let the cooler days get you down. Prepare, plan, and then go have some bright, fall-colored, brisk, cool-weather adventures!

When You Kill It On a Dry Fly

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If you’ve been fly fishing for long, and particularly if you have been using primarily dry flies like me, you are surely aware of the fact that some times the bite is on and sometimes it is not. When it is not, you trek up the river for hours, casting and switching out flies to no avail. It is disheartening. It is tempting to simply throw on a nymph or a streamer…anything to improve your odds of catching something.

10342409_10203492075894344_3610069258792882059_nNot catching anything can put you in a bad mood faster than snagging a bush on the opposite side of the shore can.

But, when the bite is on – well, there is no better way to describe it than to say that it is magical. The sense of euphoria that engulfs you when you land one giant trout after another on a dry fly is something that you wont get anywhere else. It means not only that the fish are eager and hungry, but that you are giving them exactly what they want. You’re doing it right.

I recently just absolutely killed it on the Ruby river in Montana. It was unlike any other day of fishing that I have ever had. I could do no wrong. The moment my fly hit the water’s surface, it was gobbled up by one monster after another. Killing it on a dry fly is not only fun and exhilarating, but it’s also reason to feel pretty darn good about yourself. Because catching a trout on a dry fly is arguably tougher than any other method of fly fishing. It is fly fishing in its purist form, and when you catch over a dozen in a matter of a few hours on one? Well you can consider yourself the proud owner of some major bragging rights, my friend.

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Leading a Life of Adventure

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I am lucky to be able to live an adventurous life and to be able to write about it. I live for long weekends of backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, or heading East to go fly-fishing on the major rivers of South West Montana. And I am fortunate enough that whether I am swimming with sharks off the North Shore, or spending a lazy day at home, my husband is right there by my side. We are the perfect adventure buddies.

I am blessed to be able to go on so many adventures and to have so many amazing experiences with the man I love. I am also blessed to be able to inspire others. Especially when it comes to other women. In my opinion, fly fishing and backpacking and pushing one’s self beyond what is comfortable or normal is important for everyone, but in particular for women. Whenever I hear a friend of mine talk about needing to go hiking more, “like Anna”, or try fly fishing out after seeing photos of me gripping a big Brown, it gives me a rush. Because these activities have changed my life. They have opened new worlds up to me, and to see others show interest in trying them is thrilling and satisfying.

[Adapted from the article ‘An Adventurous Life’ By Anna M. Cohen. Check back soon for more details on where you can read the full article.]

Summer Time Beauty Hacks

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Summer time is all about effortless, carefree, easy, light beauty. It’s about sun-drenched days, and heat that permeates all through the night. It’s about going barefoot, living in a bikini [or whatever type of swimsuit floats your boat], and being easy-breezy.

But summer time can do a number on different parts of your body. Here are some ways to keep yourself looking fresh, low-maintenance, and beautiful all summer long.

1. Skin: In the summer time, the heat and the constant cycle of being wet, then dry, wet, then dry can do a real number on your skin. Not only can your skin become dried out, but constantly being wet from swimming can wipe off important good bacterias that live on your skin.

Try this: Since none of us are going to even consider giving up long dunks in the lake or mermaid time in the sea, instead, try shortening your showers a bit. Try to keep the water temperature as cool as you can handle it. Also, find a moisturizer that works for you! My favorites are St. Ives and Ponds. I also have an amazing home made balm that mixes coconut oil, beeswax, vanilla, and a few other natural things to create a creamy, moisturizing dream.

2. Face: Tend to break out more in the summer? That can happen. No worries, there are some things you can try.

Try this: Try eliminating your moisturizer a night or two a week. Or, if you’re like me and you can’t even imagine not moisturizing every night, then try just limiting your moisturizer to areas of your face that feel particularly dry. Also, try to only wash your face in the evenings. Instead of giving it a good scrub in the mornings, just lightly rinse it with warm water to freshen up before starting your morning beauty routine. Also, make sure you are drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water every day to stay hydrated! There is no better way to make your skin glow!

3. Makeup: Summer time makeup should be easy, natural, effortless, glowy… basically you want to look like you just rolled off of the beach – but still put together. Leave the heavy eyeliner and cakey foundation for the office. As soon as you get home from the office, wipe your face clean with a cleansing wipe, [I like Yes to Cucumbers wipes, available in drug stores], and get your summer face on.

Try this: Start with a clean slate. Then apply a moisturizer with SPF [at least SPF 20, if you ask me]. Next, rub on a thin, moisturizing BB cream. The BB cream offers additional sunscreen benefits, as well as giving you additional moisture, AND acting as a bit of a concealer. It smooths out your complexion and hides any blemishes. Next, add a bid of cream blush to your cheeks and the bridge of your nose. Brush on a bit of bronzer if that’s your thing. Swipe on some waterproof mascara, a bit of lip balm, and you’re good to go. This should only take about two minutes to do, and you’ll look natural, dewy, glowing, and like you’re having one heck of a summer. Which you are.

4. Feet: Living barefoot and in sandals all summer can make your feet a bit… less than pretty. Your heels can get cracked and dry, which isn’t cute. Keep your tootsies nice a smooth with these tips…

Try this: Whenever possible, try to wear socks and sneakers. Hey, wearing them with cut-off shorts is cute and summery. Or you can rock the “just got back from the gym” look and wear running shoes and yoga clothes. Comfy, cool, AND your feet are safely sheathed in soft socky-barriers. Moisturize your feet at night and try soaking them in Epsom salts or another kind of foot soak that works well for you. Use a foot scraper to remove dead, dry skin every once in awhile. Or get a pedicure.

5. Hair: Hair is exposed to so much sunshine [UV rays], salt, heat, and water during the summer. This can be harsh on your strands.

Try this: Wear a hat whenever possible when you are in the sun. This will protect your hair from harmful UV rays. Also, if you have highlights, guarding your hair from the sun will help to make the highlights last longer. Try washing your hair less – every other day will do. Just use a dry shampoo if your hair starts looking a little greasy. Use a deep conditioning treatment every now and then on your hair to help it stay hydrated and soft. A nice Moroccan oil is my favorite. It keeps the ends of my hair glossy. Also, try to avoid using a hair dryer [because who needs one in the summer time, right?], straightener, or curling iron [rock the touseled, natural mermaid waves], or any other tools that may expose your hair to additional heat.

6. Body: Most importantly, protect your WHOLE body from harmful UV rays and cover up with sunblock any time you will be outside. No one wants wrinkles. Or skin cancer.

SUP: Why You Should Do It

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SUP: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

 

By now, you have probably heard about SUP, or seen people cruising by on their stand up paddle boards as you watch, intrigued, from the shore. I remember thinking how boring it looked the first time I saw people doing it. But finally my curiosity got the better of me and I gave it a try. Now, several years later, I am hooked on SUP and here’s why.

1. The benefits of SUP are endless. First of all, it’s the most incredible workout. Balancing on the paddle board requires a lot of core strength and after a SUP session, you will feel it in your abs, arms, back, butt, legs… you get the idea.

2. SUP is a great way to get out on the water when you normally wouldn’t have a way to do so. You can do it on a lake, a river, or even in the ocean. No watery expanse is off limits!

3. You can do yoga on a SUP. I have tried only a handful of times, and have ended up splashing, ungracefully, into the water on each occasion. It’s challenging, and worth trying, and if you master it, nothing looks cooler than some killer SUP-top poses.

4. Quench your competitive thirst. SUP races are becoming all the rage. Visit www.supracer.com to find a race near you.

So I recommend giving stand-up paddle boarding a try if for some reason you haven’t yet. You’ve got nothing to lose, except, perhaps, your pride when you fall in the first time you try it – and if you don’t fall in on the first try, kudos to you. You rock!

If you’re already tuned in to the awesome sport of SUP, let me know what YOU love about it in the comments below.

Looking for a great board? I’d recommend one from Perfect Wave Surf Shop. That’s where my beloved Slice Series Ruby Red is from and it is perfection.

Hike: Beehive Basin, Big Sky, MT

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The way up to Beehive Basin, Big Sky, MT

When I heard that Beehive Basin in Big Sky, Montana is considered, by some, to be one the world’s best hikes, I knew I had to check it out while I was in town. The reviews for the hike all said it was easy and suitable for all levels of hikers. At about 4.5 miles round trip I figured it would be an easy jaunt up a path to a nice view where I could enjoy a PB & J by the lake at the top. I hit the trail in running shoes and my day pack and was pretty much immediately blown away by the scenery.

Big Sky is breathtaking from the road, and even more so from the little cabin I’m staying in on one of the many ski slopes that have been abandoned for the summer. However, on foot, it is unreal.

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Due to a late melt off and an unusual amount of snow still on the ground, the wildflowers that I had read so much about were not out in full force as they should have been. As I got up higher, it quickly became apparent that running shoes were a bad choice (see the post ‘Rookie Mistakes’). There were some pretty big snow fields to be crossed, and the closer to the basin I got, the deeper the snow got. My running shoes kept getting sucked off my feet as I sunk into the snow up to my calves. Before long, my socks were soaked and my feet were freezing. About a half a mile from the top I had to call it quits – my pride hurts to admit it, but my feet thanked me. I snapped a few pictures before booking it back down the mountain. I will definitely be doing this hike again in better footwear, and hopefully when the wildflowers are all out. (I’m a sucker for flowers!)

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Recommendation: DO IT! Beehive Basin is a beautiful hike with incredible views. It’s fairly easy (I’m sure even more so when there isn’t so much snow) and it makes for a fun day in Big Sky. Just try to hit it when the majority of the snow is melted…and opt for hiking boots!