Over the holidays, I received a hand-written note in the mail from a friend I admire. At the bottom of the letter, she wrote, “P.S. All the stuff you do inspires me.” Reading these words made my heart feel all warm and fuzzy… and reminded me that I have a greater purpose – to inspire others to find their adventurous side and embrace it.
Two years ago, I found my adventurous side in nature. In 2013, our relationship got serious. Today, adventure and I have a burning desire to climb bigger mountains and tell more compelling stories in 2014.
But first, I want to pay homage to the best year of my life by reviewing the highlights of 2013.
Life constantly offers opportunities for adventure. Sometimes, all it takes is showing up at a dinner party. That’s how I met Saul, an artist from Mexico. He admitted that he had not been on an adventure in a long time, but his friend Cain had invited him on a tour of Slab City, a squatter campground inhabited by artists, vagabonds and Canadian snowbirds. I convinced him to go, and he agreed to take me with him. The results were an unexpected journey into the desert and two lasting friendships.
The Bridge to Nowhere is an abandoned arch bridge, constructed in 1936 over the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. The remains have become a local treasure for SoCal hikers and bungee jumpers. On the first day of June, we embarked on the 10-mile round trip journey early in the morning. I anxiously watched my little sister and our two friends bungee jump 120 feet off the bridge. Afterwards, we continued to hike downstream to a secret waterfall. We all ran out of water as the temperature reached 100 degrees and hiked back in the river to keep our bodies cool. This was one of my most memorable hikes of 2013, and I’m glad I lived to tell the tale! In 2014, I will educate myself in wilderness preparedness, especially as I plan to take on more challenging adventures. Safety first!
I usually satisfy my wanderlust with weekend adventures near Los Angeles, but when my Aunt Jojo mentioned a road trip to a family farm in Snohomish, Washington, I suddenly felt the need to explore far away places. On the first Sunday of July, Aunt Jojo and I packed up our vintage trailer and set off on a two-week round-trip journey from Los Angeles, up the coast of California and Oregon to Washington. I climbed sand dunes, fished a lake, drove a tractor, picked wild blackberries, star-gazed, and threw snowballs in July! I have so many amazing memories of this trip, and I wrote them down to inspire you on your next drive up the coast.
Read about our adventures here:
- West Coast Road Trip: California to Washington
- West Coast Road Trip: Snohomish, Washington
- West Coast Road Trip: The Final Chapter
The hike to the summit of Mount Baldy is considered a right of passage for Southern California hikers. Now that I’ve been to the summit, I can’t imagine living in Los Angeles and not attempting this hike. In early September, my friend Rachel and I decided we were ready to take on the challenge. In total, we would hike 11.3 miles and climb 3,900 feet in 10 hours. Once the pain left my muscles, I began to dream of the next summit adventure… Onward and upward in 2014!
For my birthday in early October, I planned a girls weekend in Palm Springs around a couple of my favorite fall delights, apple picking and pie. Just in time for the last weekend of apple picking season, we drove an hour from Palm Springs to the orchards of Oak Glen in the heart of Southern California Apple Country. I felt especially blessed to share my birthday with six inspiring women. Pie is good, but it tastes even better with friends. I hope every birthday tastes as good as this one.
In addition to adventures, I have a serious passion for photography. Sharing my adventures with all of you has allowed me to develop my skills and confidence as a photographer. In 2013, one of my proudest accomplishments was shooting a noir-themed photo story for IGNOBLE Bags. You can view the full photo story on my photography website and check out the brand at Ignoblebags.com. My IGNOBLE backpack comes with me on all of my adventures and is a little reminder of what I can accomplish with a little planning and a lot of support from my friends.
When my best friend Caitlyn visited Los Angeles for the first time, we toured my hometown together. We hiked to the Hollywood Sign, took a walk through the Arts District of Downtown LA, and strolled down Olvera Street. While I enjoyed all of these adventures, I could not let her go back to the East Coast without a spontaneous road trip to Joshua Tree. She had never been to the desert in her whole life! After a relaxing sound bath at The Integratron, we took advantage of that magic light just before sunset to take some photos for her next album cover. Caitlyn is an amazing singer and songwriter, and I can’t wait for the world to hear her beautiful voice.
Read about our adventures here:
- Hometown Tourist: Hike to the Hollywood Sign
- Hometown Tourist: A Walk in the Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles
- Hometown Tourist: Olvera Street, Birthplace of Los Angeles
In November, I got invited on my very first press trip by Visit Palm Springs. My love for Palm Springs is no secret, so I was super excited to discover more outdoor adventures in the desert. I went horseback riding, hiking, and dune bugging, I enjoyed lots of great food, and I met a couple of inspiring travel writers. This experience opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me as a storyteller that I plan to explore in 2014. Don’t fret, I will be sharing more about my Palm Springs adventures with you in the weeks to come… just as the winter chill settles in for the rest of the northern hemisphere.
9. Hike to Sykes Hot Springs
At the beginning of December, I went on a 26 mile round-trip backpacking trip to Sykes Hot Springs in the Ventana Wilderness. We endured a serious rainstorm and hiked a total of 11 hours by the light of our headlamps. This was the longest and most physically challenging hike I’ve ever completed. In order to be fully present, I left my fancy camera at home. This journey felt like the culmination of all my adventures over the past year, and I will carry that strength with me into 2014.
10. Montana Winter Adventure
My last adventure for 2013 was a trip to visit family in Montana. Call me crazy, but I felt the need to get out of my comfort zone and go somewhere totally unfamiliar… with SNOW! Montana is a beautiful place with so much wilderness I have yet to explore. Thank goodness I have great family I can visit any time I want! I can’t wait to share my adventures with you over the next few weeks, but here’s a photo of a buffalo to hold you off.
Thank you to all of my readers for allowing me to share my passion for adventure. I hope to make new friends and share some adventures in 2014. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have one in mind! Wishing you all the best in the year to come. Cheers!
Places I’ve Been in 2013[mappress mapid=”4″]
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