Oahu, Hawaii

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I jumped off the plane eager to find out what this new adventure on the island of Oahu had in store for me. This was where I was going to spend the next 2 weeks of my life and I was determined to make the most out of the time I had. 1924116_1141860344774_6760461_n

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Oahu had an abundance of activities to do, from surfing, to snorkiling, body surfing, tours of the 1936939_1153149546997_1247023_nislands, and of course, plenty of places to swim and admire sea life. One thing I will say about this island, is that it is very touristy. Beaches are crowded, especially the Waikiki beach and there are lines for just about anything and everything. We also decided to go there in August, for the same reasons many other people were there in that time frame, no school. Don’t let that discourage you from making a trip, it really was an experience of a life time.

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I spent most of my time on the Waikiki beach, where I did my fair share of body boarding, snorkeling, seeing wild life and getting my fill of vitamin D… and burning. There was a day that we decided to drive around the whole island and it was absolutely breathtaking. The water was beautiful,  clear in some places, and the scenic views of the mountains leave you in awww.

We took another day of our trip to see some wildlife upclose, not so easily seen at the beaches.  We went and swam with dolphins. If you have ever wondered what a dolphin feels like, it feels like a smooth rubber, almost like a rubber duck your kids play with in the bath. The dolphins were very friendly and seemed to enjoy the attention. They splashed and jumped out of the water puttin1936939_1153154547122_688667_ng on a remarkable show for us. That was a great experience and one that I won’t forget.

One of my favorite experiences was Turtle beach. “Honu” is the Hawaiian name for turtle, and this beach lived up to its name. You can find them sunbathing on the beach  or swimming 1936939_1153151147037_6763259_nnear you in water. Not only do these big green turtles snap at you if you try to touch them, they are prIMG_7094otected under the federal endangered species act and simply touching them, is a 10,000 dollar fine. So do yourself and the animals a favor and just admire them from a distance.

As a kid I remember watching Dog the Bounty hunter on tv with my dad, it was one of my favorite shows growing up. I was excited to find out that they had a bail bounds on this island as well as the big island . I actually got to go see the bail bonds place of Dog and his family. Although I was highly disappointed that they were not there at theIMG_7092 time we were. Such as life. We did wander into the souvenir shop and got ourselves some Dog gear. I couldnt resist.

Tips for your trip to Hawaii:

1. Even if you’re someone like myself who doesn’t burn, here you will burn. I made the mistake of thinking I didn’t need sunscreen. Just put the sunscreen on.

2. You can book some activities online before you arrive, this will reduce time spent standing in lines. Tripadvisor.com is a good website.

3. Everything in Hawaii is very expensive, so make sure you bring enough spending money, it will go fast.

4. Do some research of the best times of the year to go. Look up the beaches with the most tourists and avoid them if you can.

5. Have fun and if there is something you really want to do or see, don’t hesitate. You never know if you will get another chance.

I will definitely be back to Hawaii and experience another beautiful island, but for now, I am getting ready for my next adventure to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. August can’t come soon enough.

Lava Canyon

Length: 5 miles round trip

Location: Cougar Washington

I’ll start by saying this hike gets pretty dangerous if you go into the lower level of the canyon. The upper portion is dog friendly but, unless your dog is well-behaved I wouldn’t recommend taking them to the lower canyon where you are walking on a path maybe a foot or 2 in width with about a 200-300 ft drop below.

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On the way back up the canyon we witnessed a rescue of a young man who fell, probably 100 ft, we asked about him and one of the rangers said that he was breathing and they were still trying to get to him. Make sure you are obeying the rules and sticking to the path, there have been several fatalities around this hike.

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Yes, I was one of those crazy adventurers who strapped my dog in and had him carried down a 30 foot ladder to get him into the lower level of the canyon where he stayed strapped to my bag along the cliff edges.  However, my dog has been hiking since I got him as a puppy. He is also very well-behaved and extremely calm. If I didn’t have 100% trust in my dog, I wouldn’t have taken him down there where he could easily pull me off the edge. He loves it and it was also his first time going over a suspension bridge. He did very well and crawled all the way across. If you have a fear of heights, I don’t recommend descending into the lower level of the canyon.

The first part of the hike is an easy paved path, ending at a beautiful view of one of the many waterfalls. This is a perfect hike for kids and dogs. If you wish, continue following the narrowing trail along the rushing river; not to long into the hike you will come to the suspension bridge. Here, anyone with a fear of heights should turn around. Its 125 ft long and about 150 ft above the river. Admire the awesome view and try not to focus too much on the swaying of the bridge holding you up by a few cables. After you have successfully crossed the bridge proceed on the narrow path for a while and you will then come to a 30 foot ladder that you will have to climb down. Shortly after the ladder the trail comes to a T, go to the right and you will come to another ladder (many people are unaware of this view point). This time you will have to climb up. This will take you to the most breath-taking view of the hike.

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Throughout the hike, there is many amazing views, we ended up finding a spot in the river that we were able to dip in and eat some food while allowing Marley to cool down with a swim. The hike isn’t to hard, I have done hikes that took much more energy, but I can’t say it enough, that these views are not something you want to miss.

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Happy hiking!

 

How To Travel the World Indefinitely With an Ultralight, 18-Liter Backpack

thisisyouth

Hola Ustedes! Como estan?

I’ve been in Colombia for the past five weeks, primarily practicando mi español (still bad, but getting better). I’ve been living, working, and traveling with only an 18-liter CamelBak Cloud Walker pack. My father gave it to me four years ago, for my 20th birthday. It’s been on countless trails, climbs, and adventures with me. Now, it’s taken me all across Colombia.

Everyone I meet has been amazed at the size of this bag.

Since I get asked about my pack so often, I’ve written a detailed breakdown of exactly what’s inside it, as well as my reasoning. I’ve also included a downloadable packing list for your own use.

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Rock of ages

Length: 10 miles round trip

Elevation gain : 3,000 feet

Not dog friendly 

We did this hike last summer, although we never found the trail to the Rock of ages, it was a beautiful, strenuous, long hike. We started out on Horse Tail Falls trail head in Oregon. The directions to the hidden trail was very difficult to follow. At one point we were sure we had found it. We climbed hand over foot using tree roots as a ladder. We did this for about 2 miles before we hit a wall which wasn’t possible to climb up unless we had appropriate climbing gear, which we did not. We were forced to go back down the same way we came, which was harder than going up. At some points we had to slide down feet first belly down grabbing anything we could to slow ourselves down, at times being close to cliff edges. The adrenaline rush was amazing though. We finally got back on the main trail where we tried another potential trail. This was also a very steep climb and not the right trail. We finally decided to turn around because it was obvious that this wasn’t the trail and it was getting late. We were covered in dirt, bleeding from multiple cuts, sore, and hungry. Although we never found the trail I would recommend attempting to. It was so much fun and we will be back to try again this summer. 

Listed below are the directions which we tried to follow. Good luck!

“The hike begins at Horsetail Falls Trailhead. Start up Horsetail Falls Trail #438, which gains about 300 feet in five switchbacks. Soon the trail levels out with some great viewpoints then veers south (left) sharply as it wraps around a corner and heads into the gorge at the top of Horsetail Falls. Just after this bend, and before hitting Ponytail Falls, watch for a large tree on your left that looks to have been hurdled by a thousand root-clinging children. This is the Rock of Ages Trail Junction and the start of the primitive Rock of Ages trail. About 50 feet uptrail watch for a cryptic “Trail Not Maintained” sign.” (Oregonhikers.org) 

Ape Cave

Length: about 3.1 miles

Not dog friendly

Not for everyone

This was a really fun hike/crawl/climb through the lava tubes located at Mt St Helen’s.  Its one of the longest lava tubes in the world, reaching a length of about 12,800 ft. It’s really amazing, it should definitely become a priority on your bucket list. The cost was $5 dollars to park. There is 2 different caves you can hike through, I say do both. The easy one is right down the stair and it’s not a hard hike, more like a walk through. So it is great if you have little ones, they can get through this with no problem. You’re going to need head lamps, the caves are pitch black and without them you can’t see. You could bring flashlights, but you will want free hands, so I recommend the head lamps. At the very end there is a crawl space, you have to be a fairly small person, like myself, it doesn’t go anywhere but it leads to a little cave you can chill in. If you’re claustrophobic, I wouldn’t recommend crawling through, the space is very tight. I was crawling on my stomach and elbows.

The second cave is harder, if you have older kids they can do it, but not the little ones. When you go down the stairs you turn and walk under the staircase and it leads you to the hard cave. Now, when my bestie and I did this we did NOT see the sign to the hard cave. We are true blondes and sometimes we do not think with our noodles. Anyways, we ended up hiking up the trail looking for the cave in the heat. We eventually came to an opening (the ending of the cave, but we didn’t know that). We realized we where going the wrong way when a group of kids said “you guys are going the wrong way.” “Ya, we know what we are doing,” we actually had no idea, but I wasn’t about to let a bunch of middle school kids know that. It was really amazing inside, we had to climb over rocks almost the whole hike through. There was a part that we had to slide down on a rope ( you would be going up, but remember we went backwards) that was the hardest part only because the cave is pitch black and I couldn’t see where I needed to place my feet, or how far from the bottom I was. Its chilly and wet inside the cave, so you should bring a sweatshirt.  Also bring snacks, I was so hungry by the time we got done doing both hikes that we were turning into a hangry women, and hangry women are never good.

All in all it was really fun, I would recommend this for sure. I was sore the next day but it was so worth it. You can also head to the souvenir shop on the way out, located at the Ranger Station 🙂

Lost

IMG_6603So we were actually supposed to be hiking to the Vance Creek Bridge, however, the roads were flooded with water, welcome to Washington. We made it through most of the water but ended up at a spot the car  would get stuck and I would most likely drowned, because I can’t swim (yes, really). Now, that doesn’t stop me from pretending I can swim, but that’s another story for another day..  Don’t drink and swim.

Anyways, so we decided to take the logging roads and try and go up and around the flooded roads, didn’t go as planned. We called my friends neighbor, who knows the logging roads up there like the back of his hand to get directions to get around. Not only were we trying to follow horrible directions, directions like “You will drive under power lines” or “turn right on Eels road, but there is no Eels road sign, because I stole it” but the roads were horrible, filled with giant pot holes, luckily we didn’t take my car. (selfish I know)

We pulled over on the side of the logging roads, after driving for what seemed like hours, and got out of the car. I happened to see out of the corner of my eye what looked to be like a little trail that was a bit over grown. Me being the easily excited person I am, took off running through this trail yelling at my friend to “hurry up”, I came around a corner and came screeching to a halt, thank gosh because we were right on the cliffs edge. But damn, I had this awesome view of the valley below. It was amazing.

Now, I can’t tell you where I was because I really have no clue, but that’s the adventure. We never did get to the Vance Creek Bridge because we came out right were we had to originally turn around at because the water was to deep. This will be next weekends goal, if the weather will show me a little bit of grace.

“If you wish to be a warrior prepare to get broken, if you wish to be an explorer prepare to get lost and if you wish to be a lover prepare to be both” – Daniel Saint

 

Mt Ellinor

IMG_6569Length: 6 miles round trip

Elevation gain:3,344 ft

Dog friendly

This is not an easy hike. I did this hike as one of my first “back to summer hikes” so I wasn’t in the ideal shape. It starts out relatively easy but as the hike goes on it gets much harder until you make it to the top. The view however, totally worth it.

This is a dog friendly hike, however I did choose not to take my dog because of the large number of mountain goats that are at times known to charge at people and dogs.

This was definitely a memorable trip for me. While hiking up the mountain in 90 degree weather and a pack weighing half my size (bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point) I drank an abundant amount of water, this in turn led me with an urgency to pee. I found what I though was a good spot to hide behind a bush as my friend stood watch for any passer buyers. Before I knew  it,I was being stung left and right, I had pissed right on top of some nest, just my luck. I think I counted 10 bee stings the next day to go along with my abundance of bruises and scrapes from falling down parts of the mountain. I have no coordination what so ever.

Finally after about 2.5 hours we made it to the top and had lunch in what I like to call me “secret spot.” When you get to the top you will usually see a bunch of people standing and taking pictures of the Olympics and Mt Rainier, if you climb down the rocks, right under these people there is what I would describe as a little in cave in the mountain, it’s a perfect spot to have lunch in privacy while enjoying the view. However, be aware that if you do not feed the chipmunks, they will bite you. Yes I am saying this from experience.

I would say that the hardest part of the hike is towards the top. Here you hit a staircase, which feels as if you are going straight up. Take a break if you need it, the mountain isn’t going anywhere. If you can, try to make an early start, foot traffic gets heavy towards the afternoon.