Why I Still Drink (Just One) Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks

This morning, I woke up and it was suddenly autumn. An evening storm cooled the air down to a crisp breeze, and my open windows let the chill drift beneath my blankets. I’ve never been so excited to shiver. Something felt different – special somehow – but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I noticed that today is basically a national holiday: pumpkin spice lattes are back! I immediately put on a beanie, flannel shirt, and leather boots, then skipped my way to the nearest Starbucks.

IMG 2881 1024x768 Why I Still Drink (Just One) Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks

Here’s the thing: I know Starbucks isn’t the best. I am fully aware there’s no pumpkin in their lattes. I also understand that in lieu of pumpkin, they pump their flavored lattes with cancer-causing, questionable ingredients – but for the duration of this grande pumpkin spice latte I have in my hands, all bets are off. (After today, it’s back to my homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe, with real pumpkin).

So why did I spend $3.26 on a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks this morning?

Yes, this is about that first sip when the frothy whipped cream and a splash of spiced coffee hit my tongue for the first time – but it’s about so much more than that. This is a calculated symbolic gesture that I’ve participated in for years. It’s an annual milestone I feel compelled to complete. It marks the changing of seasons, the beginning of the best time of year (and not just because my birthday is getting closer).

This artificially flavored pumpkin beverage is a symbol of the beginning of bouldering season.

It’s a hint towards the changing colors of leaves.

It means I get to unearth my scarves, hats, and long socks from the depths of my closet.

Sadly, it also means that winter – my least favorite season – is also on the way. But we’ll ignore that for now, focusing instead on the beauty and glory that fall brings.

And so, I’ll continue to shamelessly indulge in this horrifyingly unhealthy pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks – because of what it means to me. And in a few hours, when my belly is aching from all the chemicals leaching into my body, I might feel the slightest tinge of regret, but the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming season will remain. (But seriously, go make your own pumpkin spice lattes. It’s not that hard.)

Do you indulge in Starbucks ever? (I know some of y’all are addicted!)
What’s your favorite symbol of changing seasons?

What’s in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

In exactly 12 hours from this very moment, I’ll be on a red-eye flight down to my hometown, Miami. I’m heading south for a few reasons: I am in desperate need of some sea-time, I’m celebrating my little sister’s graduation, and we’re embarking on a cross-country road trip to move her out to Denver! Instead of the usual two-day haul I usually struggle through during drives from Florida to Colorado, we decided to make an adventure out of it.

First, we’re heading up the Florida coast to Tallahassee to see my pup, Amble, and climb at Tallahassee Rock Gym. We’ll visit my sister’s friend in Atlanta before heading to Chattanooga for my favorite part of this trip: climbing at Stone Fort and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium! Then we’ll jet westward, stopping to visit family friends in Kansas City and exploring along the way.

Since my sister will be bringing everything she owns in her little sedan, I’m trying to pack as light as possible. I’m only bringing my Topo Designs Klettersack, and my new Keen sling I picked up at Outdoor Retailer last week. Here’s a quick peek into my #FLtoCO road trip bag:

IMG 2607 1 1024x729 Whats in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

Gear:

  • 1 Nalgene
  • 1 new pair of La Sportiva Testarossas
  • 1 Kendal Jackson chalkbag
  • a roll of athletic tape
  • Metolius brush
  • my Nikon D7000
  • Lumia 1020 (best smartphone pictures of all time)
  • GoPro
  • 2 Goal Zero charging sticks
  • a heap of chargers

Clothing:

  • Swoob leggings + sportsbra
  • tasc performance Nola leggings 
  • 3 tank tops (including my Dirtbag Climbers tank, of course!)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 light sweatshirt
  • 1 severely mismatched bikini
  • 3 pairs of socks + 4 pairs of undies
  • 3 pairs of shoes (sandals, red sneakers, and the wedges I’ll wear to the airport)

Stuff:

  • ClimbOn! sunscreen and creme
  • Joshua Tree travel-sized salve
  • Mini make-up arsenal
  • 2 pairs of prescription Ray-Bans (reading + sunglasses from SportRx)
  • Bobby-pins. Lots of bobby-pins.
  • Moleskine notebook + pen
  • headphones

PS: Yeah, I wear make-up. I’d like to think I’m a fairly low-maintenance kind of lady, but I totally require four basic products every day: powder, liquid corrector, white eyeliner (my secret weapon), and mascara. No shame, folks!

I am beyond stoked about visiting family, cannon-balling into the pool, and hitting the road with my sister for our first big adventure together. Lucky for y’all, she’s absolutely gorgeous – because she’s about to become a familiar face on The Morning Fresh! Stay tuned for the fun, and follow the #FLtoCO hashtag for all our shenanigans!

8 Reasons You Need to Watch Reel Rock 9’s Valley Uprising

While doing the rounds at Outdoor Retailer last week, I bumped into one of my favorite people on the planet, Billy Brown, who just so happened to have an extra pass to the Reel Rock film tour‘s advance screening of the new Valley Uprising documentary. The upcoming film release hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I was stoked to get to catch a sneak peek at it. I was expecting to just get a brief taste of the documentary, but we ended up being treated to the full (though not fully edited yet) film.

(Oh and I met Hans Florine – my opening line to him was “I can totally hold your cheese if you want!” Yeah. He didn’t let me hold it.)

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Photo by: Katrin Bell (check out her blog and Facebook page too!)

The short story is: I left with sweaty palms, a full heart, and the immediate need to buy another van and go shred my hands on granite in Yosemite National Park. It was phenomenal. The long story is these eight reasons why you should absolutely attend a screening (or host your own):

1. Lynn Hill kicking ass.

I honestly don’t feel much of a need to elaborate on this one. If you’re a climber, you know who Lynn Hill is – and if you don’t you need to go hang your head in shame for a very, very long time. This documentary takes a look back at her roots, her historic accomplishments, and her crusade as the most influential woman in climbing.

RR9 Poster 241x300 8 Reasons You Need to Watch Reel Rock 9’s Valley Uprising2. Remember that time a plane full of weed from South America crashed in the Yosemite backcountry and climber’s salvaged all the reefer wreckage? Yeah. There’s that.

3. Get a little history lesson.

The number one problem with the new generation of climbers is that we don’t know enough about where “our people” came from. When you start climbing in a gym, you miss out on the tall tales and historical legends you hear out at the crag – and kids these days need a good dose of the past to fully be able to respect the future of climbing.

4. Learn some respect for your elders.

We had a purpose: only through climbing can you find yourself
– and bullshit like that.

Playing off the history lesson, Valley Uprising will make you realize how lame you really are compared to the real dirtbags who pioneered Yosemite. These folks were real bandits, evading the law and surviving off sustenance that would make your canned beans and rice look like classy cuisine.

5. Dean Potter saying things like “Climbing will always be an outlaw pursuit.

6. Because, climbers are so rock & roll.

Fueled by adrenaline and alcoholism, these dudes were true rock stars. They pushed the boundaries of possibility, brought bottles of sherry up big walls, got arrested by park rangers, and left the ladies with enamored with their legendary lifestyles. I mean, they pillaged a drug-smuggler’s plane wreck to fund their shenanigans – it doesn’t get more rock & roll than that, kids.

7. Fall in love with Yosemite.

I know this is pretty much blasphemy, but I don’t always really love Yosemite valley. Nowadays there are too many crowds and too much concrete – and let’s not even talk about how the camping situation. I’m salty about Yosemite, but this film softened me to the core and reminded me why the valley is such an important place for every climber. The granite formations and pure magic of Yosemite are unlike any other place on the planet. Every inch of the park is teeming with history, beauty, and wildness (well, maybe not some parts of the valley, but you can still find wildness if you look hard enough). There’s a reason so many climbers have found themselves hopeless addicted to Yosemite throughout so many decades.

8. It’s unlike any Reel Rock film before.

Unifies multiple generations of climbers and stories though a single place. The cinematography is superb. The editing is some next level wizardry that brings old photos and video footage to life with movement and emotion.

Not convinced yet? Check out the trailer:

Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

For the past three years, the final stretch of summer has been marked by one event: Outdoor Retailer’s summer market in Salt Lake City. I’ve attended for the past three years, and it’s become one of my favorite weekends. OR Show is the perfect cacophony of business mixing with pleasure, free beer interrupting meetings, reuniting with old friends, and partying with the industry.

I road-tripped out to Salt Lake City with Laurie from Outdoor Women’s Alliance – we took the Wyoming route on the way out, and the southern path along I-70 on the way back (to accommodate some much needed camping after the convention). The first night celebrated old friends with a dinner hosted by Columbia Sportswear, and then it was time to get down to the dirty work on Thursday with meetings and coffee dates. Broke up the hustle of appointments with free tacos and shirt screen-printing at the annual outdoor mini-festival held by Keen – and then it was quickly back to work.

IMG 2435 1024x768 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

On Thursday evening, one of my favorite people in the industry, (the man, the myth, the legend) Billy Brown surprised me with an extra pass to the advanced screening of Reel Rock’s Valley Uprising film. Spoiler alert: it was awesome. I’m one of the first people to get all crotchety and jaded about Yosemite Valley, but this film was so powerful it actually made me want to return to the park to climb. Definitely a must-see when the final cut is released!

By mid-morning on Friday, I was totally over the convention center. I didn’t schedule any appointments that afternoon, so my dear friend Adriana scooped me from the Salt Palace to go do a little climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon with new friends Mary (go check out her photography right now), and her boyfriend Carlo Traversi.

But first, behold Adriana and Steven’s epic climbing set-up in their garage:

IMG 2438 1024x402 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

When Adriana and I tossed crash pads on our back and headed towards the trail, I realized something really not okay: this was the first time I had been bouldering outside since my trip ended in late January. Whoa, dude. Never again! I foolishly left my climbing shoes behind, and borrowed a pair of rentals from the climbing gym that were not up to par – oops. Thankfully, Mary lent me her Dragons (which I am now totally in love with).

There were no sends for me that day, but just being back in a boulder field sussing out beta and cheering on my fellow climbers felt oh-so-good. We projected a sweet V4 called Twisted for a few hours before everyone had to retreat back to the convention center downtown.IMG 2442 1024x678 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

Untitled design 7 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

I reluctantly returned to the Salt Palace to finish up my last day at Outdoor Retailer, and made a few more rounds of socializing before it was time to head out to Park City for the Psicobloc climbing competition finals. Adriana hooked it up with all-access passes for Mary and I, and the three of us had a great time tailgating in the parking lot and cheering on the competitors. The energy at the event was palpable – I loved it!

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The next morning, I capped off my visit to Salt Lake City at the #hikerchat meet-up hosted by Teton Sports and Backcountry Tees. We feasted on burgers, chased pups, and did a little SUP in the park pond before Laurie and I said our goodbyes to the crew and hit the road towards Moab. Naturally, I couldn’t leave town without a visit to In & Out – how is that special sauce so tasty?

Thanks to a recommendation from Beth of 3Up Adventures, Laurie and I decided to camp at Sego Canyon near Moab for the evening. We drove quite a few miles down a well-maintained dirt road past petroglyphs and abandoned ranches to the mouth of Sego Canyon. The perfect campsite beckoned us to pitch our tents under a beautiful tree, and we both slept like babies once the sun went down.

IMG 2535 1024x411 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah AdventuresIMG 2563 1024x576 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah AdventuresIMG 2576 1024x451 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

The next morning we woke up, munched on a few tortillas, and packed up camp. The drive back to Denver took forever thanks to the predictable weekend traffic along I-70. I love living in such an active, outdoorsy state, but it’s such a pain when everyone is trying to head back to the city from the mountains on a Sunday evening. It took us over an hour to travel 17 miles!

Now it’s back to Denver city life for a few days until I jet out to Miami on Friday! 

The Next Big Adventure(s)

I’ll be honest: when my yearlong van trip ended, I felt a bit of an adventure void. My epic climbing journey was over – so now what? For a while, I just recovered in the comforts of city life. I planned a two-week trip to Spain with my family, but other than that, my adventure agenda was wide open.

Somewhere over the last month, my adventure planning has taken a sharp turn – in a very positive direction. I got invited to backpack Conundrum Hot Springs, committed to road tripping out to Salt Lake City for OR Show, booked a ticket down to Miami, and then my old climbing friend Libbi called.

Libbi started saying things like: Puerto Rico, climbing, Spain, flights, Venice, trains, Australia let’s go.

And then I was all: YES.

When all was said, done, and booked, I realized that I’m only going to be home for 12 days from now until the end of September. My summer adventures quickly went from local playtime to hardcore exploration. I’m going to be climbing, hiking, surfing, road tripping, and writing all over the world for the next few months. My climbing + training is definitely going to kick up a notch in preparation. Let’s do this!

As you know, I’ve renewed my sponsorship with Teton Sports for another season, this time as part of their Mountain Adventurers project. I’m stoked to use their gear to haul my life around in a single pack while I travel abroad. You’ll also continue to see my photos and stories shared through Nature Valley’s social channels, and on the Sierra Trading Post blog!

photo1 2 1024x682 The Next Big Adventure(s)Here’s a rough schedule of my upcoming travel – shoot me a message if our paths will cross:

  • August 2-4 Backpacking to Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado
  • August 6-10 Road trip to Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City
  • August 15-24 Flying to Miami, Florida (!!!) then road trip back to Denver
  • August 26-27 Routesetting Clinic with Women’s Wilderness in Boulder, Colorado
  • September 3 Baltimore, Maryland
  • September 4-8 Puerto Rico
  • September 9-18 Spain + Ibiza
  • September 19-20 Venice, Italy
  • September 21-23 Barcelona, Spain
  • October 11-19 Joe’s Valley, Utah for my birthday!
  • November TBA (Austrailia, New Zealand, Singapore, anyone?)

That’s a lot. Before I start jetsetting, I have a few little projects launching on The Morning Fresh. I’ll also be scheduling a few social media clients while I’m in Miami, and am thinking about putting together an Instagram workshop – so stay tuned!

PS: Anyone have the beta on climbing in Spain or Puerto Rico? Bonus points if you know where I can acquire a crash pad!

Five Adventurous Must-Reads for Summertime

Top 5 Adventurous Summertime Reads 1024x578 Five Adventurous Must Reads for Summertime Ah, summertime. The most magical time of the year, if you ask me. Mornings are cool out on the patio sipping iced tea, afternoons are perfect for lazy tanning at the park, and evenings just beg you to cozy up in your bed with open windows. And what better accessory for all of these sublime situations than a book?

I’ll be honest, I’m a horrible reader. As a writer, I’m pretty sure I should be reading 100x more than I usually do – so I’m trying to amp up my literary chops with five fantastic adventurous books. As I complete each publication (bear with me, I read at a sloth’s pace), they’ll get their own individual reviews, but here are the five books that will keep my nose buried deep in their pages throughout the summertime.

Great American Dirtbags by Luke Mehall

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a van, eating canned beans for days at a time, and showering at a rate that would make your mother rather upset, this book by Luke Mehall will put you in the kind of mood where you seriously consider quitting your job to go live in the desert.

Here’s all you really need from this book to make you know you need to read it (okay, and there’s a video too):

Where do we look from hope, for America, the planet, for the human race? The dirtbags.

Slow is Fast with Dan Malloy, Kanoa Zimmerman, and Kellen Keene

When I think about writing my own book, I shudder at the thought of just cranking out a novel. It’s 2014, y’all – media is changing, and it’s wonderful when books adapt too. Slow is Fast achieves a balance of classic print form with the digital space – the book itself combines storytelling and compelling photography, all of which is complemented by an included DVD.

This piece from Patagonia Books is simply described as “A portrait of California only accessible via human-powered travel.” I adore flipping through the pages that offer constant coastal inspiration and lifestyle bliss. It’s the kind of book you flip through and think “man, I want to live like this.” And then you watch the ~30 minute film, and all you can think about is surfing, sand, and the characters brought to life by this story.

photo 1024x600 Five Adventurous Must Reads for Summertime

Unbridled by Barbara McNally

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I’ve been really feeling the “woo, yeah women!” vibes lately. This book published by Balboa Press has totally continued to fuel that fire with a memoir chronicling one woman’s journey of self-discovery, personal acceptance, and learning how to roll with life’s punches.

I’m about halfway through the book, and McNally is currently (in the story, that is) traveling through Ireland on a mission to connect with her family history. So far there have been romantic horseback rides, sultry encounters, and enchanting scenery described with imagery. Every page evokes the misty magic of Ireland, and I’m looking forward to the next destination in McNally’s trip – which I believe is Jamaica.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

No but seriously, I still haven’t read this book. Can you believe that? One of the most iconic adventure stories of all time – and I haven’t read it yet. As you can tell from the header image, Amble munched on the book cover a little bit, but it’s still totally readable.

Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt

This is another book that has been on my to-read list for quite some time – I actually received it as a birthday gift from Justin Fricke last year while I was out climbing at Foster Falls. Written by Allison Vesterfelt, this piece combines my love of exploring America with a journey that ditches life’s baggage in favor exploring what we really want from our lives.

The back cover of the book pretty much sums up my own personal journey: Vesterfelt starts from a point in her life where the future is filled with visions of white picket fences and a stable relationship – and then it quickly turns into a reality of flailing to figure out your life and accumulating bills, emotions, and belongings.

My favorite part of Packing Light so far? After the last page, there’s a faux library card that invites you to pass this book onto others in the spirit of refusing baggage and spreading the art of packing light.

photo 2 1024x533 Five Adventurous Must Reads for Summertime

Summer is the perfect season to get lost in a good book ­– and I hope you join me in checking out a few of these paperbacks. Do you have a summer reading list? What’s on it? Got any additional must-read recommendations to share?

That time I was in a Backpackers Pantry commercial.

Oh my goodness. Remember that time I gave y’all a behind-the-scenes peek at my videoshoot with Backpackers Pantry at Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, CO? Well, the final video is finally up – and it’s hilariously wonderful. I had just a great experience filming this brand piece with Backpackers Pantry, give it a gander:

Let’s all just ignore that honker of a zit on my forehead. 

Too much. And those dance moves? Yeah, they told me to “be weird and outrageous and kind of tacky” – so I basically just danced exactly how I always do. No shame, folks. No shame.

A Guide to Climbing Balms

Here’s the thing about climbers: we have pretty gnarly hands. We spend all day grappling with slopers, shredding our skin on crimps, and cranking on underclings. From sandstone to granite (and yeah, sometimes plastic), our hands take a beating on a daily basis. Our most abused body parts also happen to be crucial for climbing – so climbers need to take proper care of our hands.

During my yearlong climbing trip, and throughout my five years spent training indoors and crushing outside, I’ve tested dozens of hand care products. My relationship with climbing balm has been through bleeding flaps of skin, fingertips cracked from the dry cold, random burns from campfires, blood blisters, you name it. This comprehensive review has been a long time in the making, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on what I consider to be the top three salve brands in the climbing industry: ClimbOn!, Joshua Tree, and Giddy.

climbingbalmreview A Guide to Climbing Balms

Joshua Tree

The first time I encountered Joshua Tree products was while climbing in Joe’s Valley. I liked it, but the little sample tubes I had quickly disappeared into the abyss of my van. Kati Peters is the one who really put J-Tree products back on my radar while climbing in Chattanooga this past winter, and I have since fallen in love with their balm – but I never use it for climbing.

Climbing50 large 300x300 A Guide to Climbing BalmsHonestly, I find Joshua Tree hand salve to be just a little too greasy for use on grubby climber hands – but it comes in handy for endless other uses. It saved my life when I caught a nasty cold and ended up with a cracked, runny nose and painfully dry facial skin. I use it on chapped lips, to sooth burns, and on any delicate wounds that would be irritated by the rubbing motion required by thicker balms.

As a lip balm fanatic, Joshua Tree gains an upper hand in my book with their impressive chapstick collection. Not only do they offer a range of seasonal flavors – I have pumpkin pie – ladies can get Joshua Tree lip balm with a bit of shimmer! The real kicker for me is the SPF 15 protection. I also appreciate the slightly flattened tube design that keeps my lip balm from rolling off rocks.

Other notable products include their biodegradable body washes, arnica recovery lotion, and sunscreens featuring organic ingredients. The body wash’s fresh tea tree and mint scent was a welcome smell when I was bathing rather infrequently while living in the van – and I never had to worry about using the soap in a river.

COST: $5.75 for 15 ml

PROS: Joshua Tree hand salve is extremely versatile, gentle, and effective. If I had to pick just one product to always have on hand, it would be this hand salve (even though I don’t use it for climbing/hand purposes). It works wonderfully for chapped lips, burned skin, healing tattoos, and soothing irritated skin. I keep  on me at all times.

CONS: Honestly, I really just don’t love using Joshua Tree as a climbing hand salve. 

ClimbOn!

I’ve been using ClimbOn (aka SKINourishment) products for years – and for good reason. It was the first climbing balm I ever experienced, and I’ve since sampled just about every product in their line-up. I’m a fanatic for products like their body creme and cucumber rose facial moisturizer (which I’m currently addicted to).

33f52ed8 e4db 4934 beb0 a2ea00b16a5a 609x609 300x300 A Guide to Climbing BalmsThere is no contest that ClimbOn is my favorite salve for treating beat up climber hands. Made with yellow beeswax, it’s the perfect thickness, rubbing on easily but not getting too messy. My favorite trick is to slather it on my fingertips, and cover my hands with socks before going to bed. You definitely look a little goofy – but it’s effective! ClimbOn is great for every day skin healing after climbing, intensive flapper care, and soothing cracked cuticles.

Throughout my travels to different climbing areas and rock gyms throughout the country, ClimbOn seems to be the overall most popular choice for hand salves. They’ve built a great community, and have been the most receptive brand when it comes to tailoring products to user feedback. I’ve watched their logo, branding, and ingredients evolve over the past few years, always improving.

I would easily say that SKINourishment has the most extensive line of skin care products – Polly whips up everything from men’s aftershave to cucumber rose facial moisturizer (currently my favorite skincare product, I’m addicted). The range of their product line makes it easy to stay consistent with using good-for-you body care. Fair warning: After I started using Skinourishment products, I am now acutely aware of how awful most generic beauty products are – and it’s kind of scary to think about! 

COST: $6.35 for a .5 oz bar

PROS: In my opinion, SKINourishment’s ClimbOn! balm is the best salve for climber hands. It has the perfect consistency, travels well, and is great to use on puppy paws. Their overall product line continues to impress me, and my skin has never felt as good as when I am strictly using Skinourishment.

CONS: The only thing I have ever not loved about a ClimbOn!/SKINourishment product is the way their deodorant used to stain – but they have since changed their formula.

Giddy Balm grande large 300x300 A Guide to Climbing BalmsGiddy

Of all the climbing balm companies, Giddy Organics easily has my favorite branding and merchandise. From bright neon chalk pots to tank tops I am constantly coveting, Giddy excels at selling their company as a lifestyle.

When it comes to skin care, Giddy boasts all natural products that are 100% made in America and Fair Trade certified. Bonus points: their packaging is all either recyclable or made from post-consumer recycled materials. I love when a company aligns its products with consumer values – and Giddy does a great job of really tuning into their audience.

The Giddy Organics climbing balm comes in .5 oz tins that are easy to toss into any pack or pocket. This is easily the thickest balm I’ve ever used, which was a negative in my opinion yet heavily contested at the crag amongst my male cohorts who appreciated how aggressive they could be with it. Interestingly, Giddy was a favorite amongst the male climbers I asked to test it out. They all really enjoyed the scent and texture of the balm. The thickness of the product also made it a great choice for the hot crags of the south – it didn’t melt quite as easily as its competitors.

COST: $5.95 for a .5 oz tin.

PROS: Giddy is the most resilient balm in hot conditions, and it is the least “greasy” of the balms. Climbers can order different scents like cedar mint, lavender, and cooling mint. Bonus points: The cedar mint balm smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream if you ask me!

CONS: It’s thicker than I prefer, and I wasn’t a fan of how hard it was to open up the tin, especially if my fingers were already a little greasy from the balm.

Long story short: I think these are all great products that offer something for every climber out there. I’d recommend sampling them all and figuring out which brands works best for your body, your style, and your climbing. If you want a versatile one-product-heals-all, check out Joshua Tree. Wanna pair healthy skin with badass tank tops? Head for Giddy. And if you want to launch yourself deep into a product addiction that’ll leave your skin glowing and your shopping cart full? I dare you to give Skinourishment a gander.

*Disclaimer: I received samples of Giddy, ClimbOn!, and Joshua Tree from their respective brands for the purpose of this head-to-head-to-head review.
As always, opinions are my own. 

Get Lost on the South Platte River in CO’s Rampart Range

Here’s the thing about Colorado: there appears to be an endless supply of outdoor gems just a short drive from the heart of Denver. Choosing a new trail to explore brings out the worst in my inability to make decisions. There are just too many options! You can literally just pick a general direction and drive until you hit a trail — and that’s exactly what I did when my college friend Marisa came to visit from Key West.

We woke up, slathered on some sunscreen, filled up our water bottles, and hopped in the car with no particular destination in mind. After a quick pitstop for bagels, we found ourselves leaving Denver city limits and heading towards Sedaila. I had visited the area once before, so I looked for the only road I knew, Rampage Range Road, and started driving towards the mountains.IMG 0737 1024x597 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart Range

After winding along intimidating drop offs and steeply graded hills, the road turned to dirt and we had to make a decision: should we turn my little hatchback around, or should we cross our fingers that the road is navigable and go for it? In the spirit of adventure, we went for it. Spoiler alert: my little Scion is a total badass.

Eventually, we came upon a fork in the road, and followed the South Platte River upstream until we found a trailhead. At first, I had no idea exactly what trail we hiked — my only clue was the rickety old South Platte Hotel building that sat across the street from the parking lot. Eventually, I deduced that we hiked along the South Platte River to the Strontia Springs Reservoir.IMG 0739 859x1024 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart RangeIMG 0814 1024x473 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart Range

Marisa is a true island gal, so it was wonderful to take her out into the mountains. She loved every minute of being on the trail, even when I insisted that we scramble up random gullies filled with spiderwebs, or when I made her perch precariously on a rock over the river to feel the cold rush of air from the gushing waters.IMG 0866 1 768x1024 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart RangeIMG 0769 1 1024x490 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart Range

IMG 0773 1 1024x616 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart RangeSure, we ended up wandering a bit further from home than we initially anticipated, but deciding to get lost ended up leading Marisa and I to a wonderful new adventure we would have never discovered otherwise. By taking a few risks (mostly our brazen confidence that my hatchback would be able to handle the dirt roads), we opened ourselves up to the opportunity to explore somewhere off the beaten path.

When is the last time you got lost down a dirt road?
What’s stopping you?

Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

My ears are still ringing, my suitcase smells like dirty hippies, and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my foot — which means that my trip to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE with the Nokia crew was an absolute success. Honestly, I’m struggling to get back on the grind after such an incredible weekend. I love y’all, but if I could spend the rest of my life in a Silent Disco, I’d probably never come back.

So, how was my first ever music festival experience?

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It all started with a little solo airport time — one of my favorite ways to travel. There’s just something really exhilarating to me about strutting through an airport, all wrapped up in a little bubble amongst thousands of strangers all on their way to different adventures. I was one of the last people to arrive in Philly, and had a mini-squealing session with Heidi when we reunited at baggage claim. Our Nokia crew instantly connected, and were deep in the friendship zone by the time we hopped into our van and start road tripping out to Dover.

Y’all have already given me hell about the glamping set-up we had out at Firefly, but here are the facts: it was awesome. Our little compound, set up by Solid Ground Shelters, was the perfect way to do a music festival. We got the outdoor experience, but were able to retreat to full sized beds with plush comforters every night after dancing our faces off. These tents even had power strips! WP 20140622 10 25 08 Pro  highres 1024x577 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DEWP 20140621 10 39 34 Pro  highres 1024x577 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE
When I try to reflect on everything that went down at Firefly, my mind becomes a blur filled with flashbacks of massive crowds dancing in dusty fields, running from stage to stage in messy darkness, and screaming at the top of my lungs whenever “my jam” would come on. (Apparently, a LOT of songs are my song. I must have yelled “Oh my god, this is my song!” a hundred times.)

The line-up at this music festival was sick — Foo Fighters killed it, Weezer brought me back to my glory days, Outkast redefined the bliss of a throwback, and the sets from Pretty Lights, Girl Talk, and Martin Garrix left me drenched in sweat from dancing. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed by Iron & Wine. I was so excited to finally see them live, but they totally lacked energy. Or maybe I was just too psyched to get on their low-key level.

IMG 1102 1024x537 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DEIMG 1167 1024x581 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DENokia hooked us up with VIP passes for the weekend (thank you!), which I would highly recommend for future music festival experiences. We had access to prime viewing areas, free massages, and the cleanest toilets around. The VIP crowd was a little lacking in the energy department during a few performances, but being so close to the stage for every show made up for it.

The most impressive part of this weekend was the group of people Nokia brought together. A few of us knew a handful of other influencers prior to the trip, but by the end of the festival we were all heartbroken to be saying our goodbyes (Danny Williams, I’m talking to you!). I have no doubts I’ll be reuniting with these folks again. It was a hodgepodge of photographers, entrepreneurs, beauty bloggers, tech dudes, and a little dash of the outdoors — and it was perfect.  WP 20140620 005 1024x576 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DEIMG 1200 1 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

I have never danced so much in my whole life.

Before flying out to the east coast, I was a little nervous about being able to let loose in front of total strangers — but it turns out, Nokia put together a group of influencers who enjoy rocking out as much as I do. I knew I was in for a good weekend the moment my new buddy Juan busted a move at camp without any music playing. Add a few shots of whiskey to the mix, and we all dropped our inhibitions by the time we made it into the festival gates.

Have you ever been to a Silent Disco?

If you have, high five! If you haven’t, you need to. Picture this: you walk into a thicket of trees, someone hands you a pair of wireless headphones, and you slip into a reality where all that exists is music, movement, and whoever happens to be grooving beside you. There are two DJs, and your headphones can switch between their respective channels. It’s pure euphoria in there. Drew from Selfmade Threads and I stumbled upon it one night, and we ended up spending as much time as possible there for the rest of the weekend. We ditched performances early, rounded up the rest of the crew, and even closed it out on the last night.

If I could spend the rest of eternity in the Silent Disco with the #ListenWithLumia crew, I’d gladly ditch the real world. It’s seriously that good.photoc 1024x638 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

*Sigh* What an adventure. I used to be such a hater about music festivals, but I get it now. It’s not just about a bunch of people doing drugs and getting dirty — it’s a life-changing experience (for me as a first-timer at least). I have never felt so alive and so free in my entire life. Bonus points: hanging out with three gorgeous men who blinded me with muscles inspired me to get back to training for climbing. Game on!

Next time someone invites you on an adventure with one day to book flights and pack your bags, you should absolutely say YES! I’m so glad I did.

Full disclosure: Nokia sent me on this wonderful trip, but all opinions expressed here are 100% my own as always. Especially the part about abandoning my life and becoming a Silent Disco groupie. I’m still fully considering that life change.