What to do when it’s just *too* cold to go outside

Oh, winter has a way with me. On one hand, the homebody & introvert in me lllllloves to hibernate. January and February you can easily find me sipping coffee and tea all day under piles of blankets on the couch.

However, it’s been so cold the last week, that today when the sun came out and it was suddenly 40 degrees instead of -1; it prematurely set me in spring time mode.

Facepalm.

It’s not time yet, brain. (And yeah, I’m sad about it.)

When I hear certain songs or artists (those floaty, catchy Creedence hits and twangy Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes…) come on the radio at work it automatically sends my thoughts off to warmer days, drinking a beer on the Black River, grilling dinner every night, sleeping with the windows open. It gets me longing for those camping and backpacking trips.

And then the reality hits that it’s only January 18th, and spring is actually months away. What can we do when it’s just too cold outside? Let me count the things.

1) Organize and admire all camping and hiking gear. Like 20 times.

I can’t tell you how many times in my head in the last few weeks I have “packed” my pack for #LHX2018. I still have a small list of things I want/need to get (…mostly food, not gonna lie) for this trip but also the few things we still actually NEED for Mt. Whitney.

Organizing all of my gear makes me happy. And also no matter how many times I do it, I can find SOMETHING I can live without, and donate to Gear Forward.

2) Watch some hiking channels on YouTube. My favorites from last year:

Dixie at Homemade Wanderlust. Her channel features both of her thru hikes on the AT and PCT, gear reviews and Q&A’s. She is currently preparing for the CDT to complete her Triple Crown and her beau Kyle Rohrig (author of Lost on the Appalachian Trail) is joining her!

Adventure Archives. I love these guys. They are 2 brothers, a cousin and a childhood best friend. Their videos and the aesthetic they present strikes a chord with me, and their dynamic and storytelling is so wonderful to watch. You feel like you are part of their journey. They will take you on many adventures; from their home state in Ohio, to Japan, to Yosemite. They also self produce/edit and create an original soundtrack for their episodes. HIGHLY recommend!

3) Walk on the treadmill. (Ugh.) Attempt to maximize experience by walking on the treadmill WHILE watching hiking videos. For extra faux-authenticity, strap a pack on and load it with roughly 27 lbs. Feel miserable/bored. Proceed to #4.

4) Look at your gear again.

5) Look at gear online. My favorite places to shop outdoor equipment online:

http://www.backcountry.com

http://www.campsaver.com

http://www.sierratradingpost.com

6) Scroll through your past Instagram posts and cry a little while you reminisce adventures past.

7) Make a list of your future adventure goals! I love making lists (…heh) and seeing my plans written out make them feel more attainable. What do you want to do this year? Where do you want to go?

I hope this list has been helpful, and gives you a few things to try when you’re feeling stir crazy this winter! We will make it through!!!

J

Piney Creek Ravine

Good morning! And a good one it is so far; it is nearing 11am and I am sipping my coffee in a big cozy sweatshirt and pj pants, with my feet kicked up.

Yesterday Heather, Bailey and I decided to brave the cold (it was 4* when I left St. Louis at 8:45am and roughly 14* when I got to the trailhead an hour and 40 minutes south of me) and hike around in southern Illinois.

The three of us had been chatting in the last week and came to the conclusion that for our sanity we had to get outside so Bailey encouraged us to come down her way. She lives in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest. Lucky girl!

It ended up being one of the most fun days. Despite our faces being so cold, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I swear, before Mountain Chicks came along I don’t think I have truly laughed so hard. I mean, laughing is laughing and I have some funny people in my life. It’s just that these girls get me down to my core, rolling in stomach and face muscle aches and crying tears laughing. We always have so much fun. I love my tribe of hiking girls! They have fit like a puzzle piece I didn’t even know I had been missing in this chapter of my life so unbelievably comfortably. We were greatly missing Sara and Fernando!

I got to play around some with my camera again. Still not sure about all of the settings. There’s so much to learn!! Luckily my friends didn’t mind being the subjects for photos.

Next weekend (if the weather permits us) B and I are planning to get a 12-15 mile day in so I can start prepping my legs and lungs for this hiking season and for the 5 day LHX2018 backpacking trip coming up in May. I have a lot to train for this year!

Since it’s a little more difficult to get out much right now, I am currently working on a post series highlighting some of my favorite Missouri parks! Stay tuned for that as well as more information on #LHX2018. The next few months are sure to be full of excitement and preparation.

J

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that it was well spent with family, friends and mountains of comfort food. We had days full of Christmas parties and time with Turkey’s family and mine. I drank a lot of coffee and eggnog, watched a lot of movies, lounged around all cozy in my fleece pants and we even ventured out into the cold and went camping for a few days.

Turkey & I don’t exchange gifts with each other; we share our money so we decided a few years ago we would either go on a vacation for an experience or invest in something large we need, like a home project or new appliance.

Some years however, we will each just buy ourselves something we want and call it Christmas. So, for my Christmas this year I decided I wanted a new camera, as I want to learn more about photography and make it a hobby I can also integrate into my blogging and social media. I ended up going with a Canon RebelT6. I read that it is a great starter DSLR and I’ve been having lots of fun with it! Here’s a few photos from our winter break and our camping trip this weekend.(For Christmas, my parents got me a new pair of trail runners I have had my heart set on for months! Altra Lone Peak 3.5s. I wore them right out of the box and hiked 9 miles in them. I really like them! I think I will order an extra pair to have as backup.)

We had a great and needed break; we cleaned and decluttered our house, made some outlines and plans for our 2018; for our health and for our finances. We spent the last week off together doing those things, camping, hiking and finally last night, lazily rang in the bitter cold New Year with M & C. We were home in bed by 12:45. Zzz.

So today I bring you this post, the expected and generic “Resolution Post”- in which I am going to share a few changes and goals for this year; personal and for my blog!

First – I would like to make an oath to post 3 times a month, 4 if I can!

Second – On October 24th, I changed my way of eating to LCHF (low carb high fat) or Keto. In that time frame (Yes! We survived Thanksgiving, our anniversary, Christmas and New Years and continued to maintain and lose!) I have lost 22lbs and a ton of inches. I would like to lose a total of 50lbs by April, which means I have 28 left to go. I would like to make Keto and Keto backpacking a topic here a couple times a month, since I am comfortably adjusted to this way of eating now and am confident that I will maintain this change in my diet.

I have yet to backpack with this lifestyle change, so please bear with me as I “trial and error” what and how to pack some good Keto food for backpacking trips to fit my needs! I have definitely noticed my dayhiking energy is superb being fat adapted.

Third – We are absolutely Keto for ourselves and our health, but we also made the change to prepare for our large goal this summer: to hike the Mt. Whitney trail and summit the mountain. (Photo credit: Matthew McPherson; via Facebook Mt. Whitney group.)

Matthew’s Instagram. Thanks for letting me use your stunning photo!

Turkey and I are still planning for the JMT next summer (2019) with my beloved Midwest Mountain Chicks girls, but decided for our five year anniversary this year we are taking 2 weeks off and driving to California to celebrate on top of the US. This hike is my dream.

I know it will be grueling and difficult and scary. We may experience altitude sickness and not make it to the top at all. We could have bad weather keeping us from the summit. We could possibly not even get a permit. There are many underlying factors that could cause this 22 mile round trip hike to go wrong, and I’m not going to let my body be one of them. I absolutely have control over that aspect and I want to be strong and move swiftly instead of struggling when I know I could have helped it. If things do not work out the way we want them to, and we don’t get up there, that’s ok. I’m not going to get discouraged. Nature is nature and if I learned anything last year; it’s going to do what it wants.

So, follow this journey if you wish! It’s my most exciting yet. (#fitforwhit2018!) Even if we can’t make our dream happen due to circumstances out of our control, I’ll know that we did everything we could on our end, and that’s something to be proud of! Either way we will be adventuring in the Sierra and spending more time in Yosemite and that alone is enough to temporarily satisfy my hunger for that beautiful mountain range.

2017 was my favorite year of my life. I made it that way; I worked for it and the payback was incredible. You get what you give, and I choose to make 2018 the same if not better. Roping the positivity in and hanging on to it! It’s going to be a ride.

Best wishes to you all, make your year worth it!

J

Black Friday #OptOutside and 52 Hike Challenge

Last Friday, B and I set off super early (with Mountain Chick friend Bekah in tow!) for the 3 hour drive to Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, IL. We were meeting our largest group hike yet – (a registered 48 people) in the parking lot of the visitor’s center.

We got there a little after 10am (meeting time was 10:30) so I ran up to the bathroom and my buddy Bailey (@hikin_gal) surprised me by coming out when I thought she couldn’t make it!!!! I was so happy to see her and fellow Southern Illinois girls Emily & Haley!!

REI, NuttZo peanut butter, KRAVE Bar, PROBar and 52 Hike Challenge supplied us with great snacks and items that made for fun grab bags and I handed them out to the first 24 arrivals. We played a game of “Guess the number of M&Ms in the trailmix” for a chance to win one of 2 $25 REI gift cards – and ironically one of the winners was celebrating her 52nd hike that very day!!!

Our final headcount was 32! A couple people missed the group photo, but I was absolutely thrilled with this turn out!

We hiked about 5 miles, met a ton of new friends, and enjoyed the beautiful weather!

I was also finally able to meet fellow Mountain Chicks Midwest Ambassador Kelly!! She lives in Chicago but is moving to San Diego soon. Grateful we got this day together before she leaves!!

We all had such an incredible day! I am so thankful for this community. Thank you to the sponsors and to everyone that came out on Black Friday!!

J