Winter Road Trippin'

On Feb 6th I met up with Kieren Britton, Charlie Wood and Matt Littlewood for a trip I never thought I would be brave enough to take in my life - a Canadian winter road trip. Over the course of eight days our crew traveled miles across the west side of Canada in an RV. We hit up five different resorts and met up with locals at each location to share the stoke and dish out our knowledge about sustainability while taking laps, hitting up the back country and offering incredible giveaway goodies from Burton. The overall goal was to meet adventure lovers and unite over a shared love of winter sports while living our lives on the road in an RV — see winter camping is easier than you thought!

MountainGirls

I flew from California to Canada and waiting at the airport after I landed I kept wondering why no one was outside standing on the curb for their ride. I walked outside and the first breath I took, my nose hairs froze! At that moment I knew we were in for a cold week.

Meg Kee

We hopped into the RVs and traveled from Lake Louise, Fernie, to Kickinghorse, Revelstoke all the way into Whistler. Each mountain was a new adventure. Meeting with locals from each resort was the icing on the cake. We would have been so lost without the amazing people that came to meet us daily. Every sunrise to sundown we rode until our faces froze off, getting the VIP tour at every mountain. From the park, into the back country and all through the groomers.. each towering peak was a special and brand new place to us.

Meg Kee

Having our “homes”, or RVs located nearby made life so much easier. We had the food and heat we needed to survive. I never thought life in an RV would come with so much ease. There was never a wonder of where we would need to get changed, meet up, sleep and store our things. It was a ski-in, ski-out home at every resort.

After living this experience I can say I would easily do this again. Over the course of the eight days, the four of us got to know each other like family. We shared so much during this journey, laughs, mishaps, silly moments and not so silly moments (wink). Living in an RV during the winter time is something I would recommend to any adventure seeking person - a must do. Every day there is something new and you really need to be prepared. The massive pay off is having your home with you wherever you choose to go. Summer camping is always a breeze - been there, done that. Winter camping is for the real adrenaline seekers, people who want to be in the moment - live life in the present.

MountainGirls

Thanks to Go-RVing Canada and Burton for making this whole thing happen. Our awesome little team became a small family and we were able to accomplish so much in a short time. I cannot wait to do it again!!





UPCOMING: Big Bear Adventure

May 4th - 6th 2019 I have partnered with the city of Big Bear Lake to bring a weekend filled with adventures off the grid in the Southern California mountains. Follow along to get a peek into a special weekend not many have yet experienced. The season of spring brings blooms, beautiful blue skies and the gorgeous mountain town of Big Bear Lake is the perfect place to get a taste of California’s true wild side. We have gathered a group of well-known influencers to enjoy a weekend of climbing, hiking and soaking up the finest spots Big Bear has to offer. More information coming soon! www.MountainGirlsGathering.com

Visit @mountaingirls & @visitbigbear for updates and more information as the dates get closer.

This is something you won’t want to miss!!

If you are a social media influencer and interested in the possibility of joining, please click here to contact me. Thank you!

Meg_Kee

Packing for the Salkantay Trek - PERU

Last November I had the honor of taking the Salkantay Trek into one of the 7 Great Wonders of the World - Machu Picchu. After hiking five days, fifty miles on foot.. I have to say it was worth every. single. step. I won’t give away too much - as I feel everyone should experience this place for themselves. But what I will share with you - is how to prepare by packing the right things.

If you haven’t been to Peru yet. I can describe it as wholesome and spiritual. This country is REAL. Nothing too fancy and spruced up. The culture is hard working and encompasses the true hustle of humanity.

Traveling through the airports, on my layover I had the opportunity of speaking with locals in Lima. Their advice to me was imperative and I will share it with you as well. Coming from America.. we are so spoiled, we don’t even know it.

When you arrive to these guided trails, whether you take the Inca Trail, Salkantay or other passes, you will be offered mules, donkeys and horses to pack out your clothing, gear, whatever you need. I opted out of this option for a number of reasons. 1. I don’t want to use the animals. They don’t get tips anyway. 2. I wanted to see what I can do myself, how much I can endure. I knew if I proved to myself I could pack out more than I needed, I could do this on my own. Survival!

Okay so here goes.. The things I packed that I got most use of:

  • Multi Day Backpack - if you’re gunna pack out gear, the choice and fit of your pack is going to make or break your hike. I chose to hike with the DEVA 80 from Gregory Packs. I have previous experience with this pack and swear by it. It has every pocket you need for easy access to last min things on the go.. like snacks/water, rain coat, warmer layers, sunglasses etc. The WishBone Frame keeps the bag form fitting to your spine and minimizes sway. I can go on and on. This will always be my go-to pack for long multi-day treks. As the days go by, this pack becomes a part of your body. The extra 40lbs I packed out felt like nothing.

  • Waterproof Boots - I am sure you saw this coming. Everyone has experience with ill-fitting boots. I made the gutsy choice on this trail to hike out with fresh, brand new boots.. not sure about fit for long distance and brave enough to endure the blisters I knew were going to come my way. But guess what.. not one blister!! Not one drop of water. Actually.. these boots still looked brand new after 50 miles! Keen Footwear’s PYRENEES. I am an advocate of these babies now. I have total faith they would take me on the PCT and back.

  • Rain Jacket - Ever heard of GoreTex? It works. The Salkantay takes you through diverse terrain, from mountain tops into the jungle. You endure multiple elevation and climate changes. MUST HAVE RAINCOAT. Something breathable, but waterproof. Which most companies fail at. GoreTex is the way to go. The jacket I wore daily dried quickly overnight to be ready for the next day. I don’t even think I have washed it since I got home. It smells great and isn’t even dirty! Wanna know what kinda jacket it is… the Burton Sadie Rain Jacket. Not one drop of water came through.

  • Leggings,leggings, leggings - Every girls go-to daily wear. But not all leggings are made equal! This we know already. So pack your BEST leggings. Not necessarily the ones that make your butt look good. No one is out there to check you out anyway! Unless you’re on the hunt for a cute llama ;) I wore my Glyder Apparel Elongate leggings the most. They’re long enough to tuck into your socks, thick enough to keep the wind from whipping through, bugs biting and also thin enough to keep you cool in the humidity. Okay okay, and they also make your butt look good.

Those are my MUST HAVE items for comfort on long treks. Of course we all know what else to bring right? Good wool socks, snacks, a hat and sunscreen. Don’t forget your toothpaste! The list goes on. If ya really want to know because you are headed out on the hike in the near or distant future - feel free to contact me. I will fill you in and give you the full - mom style pack list.

Now, for the things I did not know I needed. That were great to have on the trail:

  • Coco leaves - yes, you will test positive for Cocaine over the next two weeks. But this is not the real deal people. This is the natural leaf which helps blood circulation, getting oxygen to the body, elevation sickness.. the list goes on. And the local guides swear by it. My advice is to swing by the local market and grab a baggy of fresh leaves before you leave for the hike. Make sure they’re not too dry. When you need them, just tuck them in your lip and trek away.

  • Chapstick WITH Sunscreen - OMG my lips blistered. Even with a hat on, my bottom lip looked like I had injections. I had normal, amazingly great lip balm (I’ll fill you in on my all time fave soon), but I should have brought something with some sun protection. So when you pack, ain’t no regular Burt’s Bees or Blistex gunna work. Head over to (okay here’s my fave) Raw Elements and treat your lips to some earth and body friendly goodness. I always order these in bulk because I love the smell. A bonus: their sunscreen is legal in areas that have outlawed harmful common sunscreens.

  • A Clean Outfit for Machu Picchu - I know this sounds funny.. but if you plan on actually hiking into Machu Picchu, bring something clean to wear when you get there. Believe it or not, the town is like a hidden oasis. Most people there did not just hike in. They took a train, bus, whatever. No one stinks like you will when you arrive. When you come stumbling into town, walking with gumby legs, dirt on your face and greasy hair. So get ready to take the best shower of your life and put on some “regular clothing”. Heck, you might even have the energy to head out and party. Me on the other hand, I basically wore my pjs and ate cake.

    What my layover conversations with Lima locals taught me:

  • Don’t drink the tap water! The water contains Giardia and can make you quite sick. This means veer from fruits and salads that may have been washed with faucet water. Say away from homemade juices that aren’t bottled or made with bottled water. Be sure you boil your water before you drink - if you are drinking your own water on the trail, the water in the streams is also contaminated.

  • Don’t trust your belongings just sitting around. It is a busy area in the cities and not everyone is as trustworthy as they seem. Keep your money, passport and other important possessions safe. I used a fanny pack - they’re back in style anyway.

There is so much more to this trek than just packing right. Make sure to pick a great guide to take you there, bring a happy, ready-to-explore attitude, and get ready to have some of the best experiences of your life. The nature and culture is so diverse, lush and this is a once in a lifetime experience. Enjoy!!

My trekking guides: First Step Expeditions. This crew provides a great time and INCREDIBLE food along the way. Check their page for upcoming trips.

Feel free to contact me for a full packing list if you want - I am always happy to share more with you! Safe travels out there!!

@mountaingirls & Burton Girls Beach Gathering

September 29th over 140 people joined in to meet up and have a good time at Point Dume in Malibu California. I was surely nervous as this would turn out to be the largest gathering I have ever hosted!

Since 2015 I have been creating gatherings for women to get into the outdoors, make new friends and find support in our outdoor endeavors together. It has always meant a lot to me to have the support of my female friends in sports like snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking and anything that challenges physical abilities. The way we learn together, teach each other and show support is unique. With the girls around, we talk about things that are relative to our lives, cry over broken nails and smeared mascara. Silly stuff happens when we get together. Most importantly the way we push and inspire one another is heartfelt, sincere, full of love and hugs. There is a strong aspect of nurture between girls and a lack of this in my past has given me the drive to begin annual gatherings. Since 2015 I have successfully hosted over eleven meet ups. My goal is to keep this movement alive.

When I started tooling with the idea of the Malibu gathering, I really wanted to find a way to get everyone together - men, women and kids. I knew there would be a different dynamic I hadn’t experienced yet and that made me excited. Over 150 people signed up through a pop-up adventure I had created on an app called Adventure Aide. The app is like an Airbnb for adventures, where you can search and sign up for outdoor experiences local to you. It is an awesome app and I plan to continue use of it.

My goals with the beach adventure were more than about getting people together to have a good time, climb and make new friends. All of those wonderful experiences are usually expected with each meetup. What I really wanted to do, was get everyone together and bring an awareness to the fragility of our natural playgrounds. Point Dume is a gorgeous towering rock overlooking the coastline in Malibu. A beautiful beach with wildlife, succulent plants, rich clay trails… littered with trash. A beach so close to a major city is an at risk area for toxic run off and litter. If we don’t work together to keep our nature clean, we will eventually lose our freedom to have gatherings in these areas.

I knew I needed help with my plans and reached out to Burton. I let them know about my upcoming planned adventure and they were stoked to be a part of the good things we could all accomplish together. I knew we would make the perfect team - Burton has published their 2020 Sustainability Goals and are laser focused on maximizing their positive social impact while minimizing their environmental impacts in the works of becoming fully sustainable by the year 2020. They are a part of Blue Sign Systems which makes sure material goods are made with no air and water pollutants from start to finish. They are also a member of the Fair Labor Association ensuring each member of their team is working in a happy and healthy environment. Burton HQ offers conduct sustainability-focused classes workshops to for their employees, awesome courses workshops on how to farm your own food to how to make your own beer - and so much more!! In exchange for our clean up, Burton donated a ton of items for men and women to win from their sustainable line of goods. The ultimate incentive! Organic Tees, reusable water bottles and Blue Sign approved products were all tossed into the goodie bag so that each person who won could feel like they got something back that made as much of a difference as they did in the clean up.. It feels good to invest in something that makes a difference in this world and Burton has our backs - literally.

The morning of the 29th we started early, setting up climbs, putting up our tents and welcoming each person as they arrived. The day ended up being total blast! Over 70 people signed up to climb!! New friends were made and of course.. the pile of trash bags was immense!! My goals were met, as both men and women could enjoy this experience together. Smiles, hugs and high fives were happening the entire day and the connection was real.

Something that meant the most to me personally — aside from getting the beach cleaned up... I knew deep down that each member of the gathering was going to walk away with a new appreciation for our natural playgrounds. The day will stick with everyone for a long time, and the next time a piece of trash is spotted on the ground, chances are - they will pick it up. Having a shared experience like this is something that will stay engraved in our memories for years to come and a story we can share with one another to inspire those around us to do the same.

Thank you Burton, for helping me make a world of difference!! I am hoping to do this again soon!! Much Love!

Urban to Nature with Gregory Packs

The second week of August, 25 people from all over Southern California met for the first time to experience life in a new way. Sometimes you just gotta take a chance, risk failure and defeat to see.. you can really accomplish more than you realize.

Running a social media account has turned out to be one of the most fruitful experiences of my life. The chance to influence people and change lives is something I have taken on through the growth of @mountaingirls. On August 11th 25 brave individuals from all walks of life gathered as strangers and departed as best friends.

We began our weekend at Rockreation in Costa Mesa California. Nervously walking through the door, one by one, each participant had no idea what they were in for, as this would be some of their first experiences climbing. After introducing ourselves to one another, still not feeling very confident.. we circled around the Rockreation team as they covered all of the basic knowledge of climbing. From tying a figure eight, proper communication, belaying your partner and safety techniques - now was a chance to hop on the wall and see what the stoke was all about.

Move by move the group broke into laughter, breaking down barriers through relating with one another, seeing accomplishments of reaching the top, taking some falls and sharing overall excitement. Everyone was opening new doors into uncharted territory of climbing for the first time - together.

That evening we handed each participant their own Gregory Pack, a backpack purposeful for every season and landscape.. from the city to the outdoors. Gregory’s Simga and Singal packs come fully stocked with a laptop sleeve, pockets galore and space for a full day hike - perfect for a day at work or a day on the trail! Our group was absolutely stoked and ready to pack up!!

We carpooled up into the mountains of Big Bear Lake, down the dusty dirt roads into nature. Arriving at camp, we all unloaded, pitched tents and gathered around the fire for a night full of laughter, s’mores and fun stories. The next day big day was still on the horizon - a chance to get on some real rocks in the outdoor world. Late night, we all zipped up into our tents and sleeping bags, the milky way bright overhead - Dreams were about to be fulfilled.

Early morning everyone rose to the crisp mountain air. Bright smiles all around, bringing the fire back to life, we enjoyed some inspiring chats about how to make the most of your weekends and the ups and downs (literally) of climbing. Rock climbing is something anyone can do if they put their mind to it, and much like any sport.. you will have moments of pure accomplishment, followed by moments of feeling defeated. It’s all part of the game!! Keeping a healthy perspective is an important part of personal growth.

We soon packed our Gregory backpacks and headed out into the deep woods to meet face to face, the Holcomb Valley Pinnacles. A towering cluster of rocks nestled in the trees. As a group, we explored the forest and hiked past the climbs to get a birds eye view of where we were. Overlooking the tallest mountains in Southern California, everyone took a break to have uplifting conversation before heading back into the climb zone.

Ropes and gear were waiting for us, set up by our trusty crew and the entire group was ready! Each person got to tie their own figure eight knots, something just learned the day prior. One by one, each person made it up the wall. Our goals were being accomplished!! Getting our hands on some real rocks, feeling the breeze and seeing the endless mountain views was not like indoor climbing at all - this was the real deal. Huge smiles, some broken nails, fears and tears… every emotion was buzzing as we all cheered each member on. Those feelings of accomplishment and defeat came hand in hand as we all pushed ourselves to the limit. Having support from your peers is crucial in these times, we can all relate to inspire one another.

A full day of outdoor climbing was underway! Each person in our group had a breakthrough moment and made it to the top of the towering climbs. High fives and hugs, tears of joy - we packed up and hiked back into camp to get our things together for our journey back into the city. We all said our goodbyes, congratulated each other, knowing that our lives had all changed together. Farewells were not easy, every person who was just a stranger the day prior, now felt like a best friend and part of a big family.

This gathering was one of my favorite experiences. Each unique individual in the group made such an impact on me and reminded me of why it is important to have these gatherings. The way we learn together brings a special bond, not just between people, but to the process of knowledge. We can all relate and share our experiences with one another. There is passion and a fire inside of everyone, and having a partner to share that with helps you to know you are not alone. Support through peers and like-minded people is what will helps to continue on and pursue dreams.

I feel so blessed to be a part of this community, to watch lives change as people challenge themselves to step out of comfort zones and accomplish things that they only dreamed of doing. A big thanks to Gregory Packs for helping make this happen!! And of course the @mountaingirls crew for pulling it together for another RAD experience!! I am sincerely looking forward to the next meet up!

If you are interested in participating in a future gathering, head over to wwwMountainGirlsGathering.com to see what we have going on.

Exploring Italy

How do I even begin.. to describe a trip to Italy is beyond words. If I could pick two words.. it would be pure bliss. But really, words cannot even touch the total abundance of it all.

After flying across the world I arrived to Italy in the dark, starry skies. I could only see silhouettes of tall sleeping mountains. My curiosity was high. I checked into the Cristallo Resort, a beautiful hotel overlooking the town of Cortina D'Ampezzo. I was greeted with smiling faces - even though it was 2am, everyone was happy and cheerful. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings, fresh flowers decorated the entire hotel. Hand paintings on each wall and ceiling. Everything was decadent with so much attention to detail. My room was a dream. As I passed through the curtains I was blown away by the massive bed covered in soft white linens, a living space all to myself with couches, Italian chocolate treats, wine and double doors opening to a balcony. I giggled - feeling like a queen. I could only imagine what beauty I would rise to as I looked out the window to a sparkling little town below the dark mountain ranges.

I got into bed, excited for the week ahead. When I rose in the morning I peeked into the glorious sun beaming over a magical site. A fairy tale view. I couldn't believe what was right outside my windows.. lush green landscapes, a charming little town with a backdrop of the biggest - most magical - mountains I have ever seen. Needless to say, my heart raced with anticipation to explore this mystical place located in the middle of the Dolomites. 

I met with Zach Allia, my side kick and photographer for the weekend first thing in the morning. We had breakfast and chatted about how excited we were to have the experience ahead.The first day I spent at the Hotel Cristallo was relaxing, I toured the hotel and was in awe of the care taken, the cleanliness and had an overall feeling that I was in a castle. Each person I saw greeted me with a warm smile. I enjoyed a massage which melted me into a relaxing dream. The soft oils and smells took me into a trance. I enjoyed lunch at the hotel, each plate served was almost too beautiful to eat. The plates were decorated and prepared with attention to each detail, satisfied every taste bud and the hosts were impeccable. I met our guide for the week, and was honored to be in his presence.

After resting we took a stroll into the charming town of Cortina D'amprezzo and I felt like I was in a Disney movie. Every building was charming, adorned in flowers and so well taken care of. The landscape was manicured beautifully with colors in every spectrum. The most vibrant greens, pinks, reds.. each home and building was unique and crafted so well. We ate dinner in town and enjoyed a classic Italian pizza. It was irresistible - unlike pizza in the states. I ate an entire pizza to myself and enjoyed good company with Zach and our host for the week. We shared conversation about the difference in lifestyle in Italy vs the United States and had an amazing time.

The following day, after cozying up in my fresh white linens.. my bed that made me feel like a queen. I rose to those gorgeous towering mountains and felt like I was on top of the world! I came down into the lobby, filled with flowers and smiling faces.. to greet our guide for the day who would drop me and Zach in the forest to take a hike in the fresh mountain air to Crota De Lago. As we made our way up the steep roads I expected our drop off destination to be hours away. After only fifteen minutes touring up the mountainside in a jeep, our guide told us we had arrived to the trail head. Amazing how this was only a handful of minutes away from the hotel! We hopped out and began our hike into the forest towards the lake. As we began hiking we could hear cowbells in the distance and were greeted by cows. I myself am and animal lover and was excited to see these beautiful creatures that were peacefully grazing in the fields between the forest trees. Fresh water streams were running through every field, waterfalls, wildflowers everywhere.. I felt like we were in a story book I have read as a child. Maybe somewhere fairies would live. Within a short distance we had made it to the top of our hike to a gorgeous lake nestled in the base of the Dolomites limestone walls. Adorable donkeys, friendly little creatures, greeted us as we came into the trail around the lake. We hiked until we had a 360 view, mountains surrounding. While standing in the lush green forest, crystal clear waters all around we had a mile high view of the town below us. The cool mountains winds were so crisp and clean. Wild flowers blew in the wind. I really couldn't believe my eyes. This was just our first day here in Italy and I was already fulfilled by our experience. 

Later, after a delicious lunch at Malga Federa, that afternoon we headed back to the Cristallo and relaxed, spoiled with food and wine. We indulged in the amenities of the hotel. The warm pool with hand paintings of the Dolomites, images flowed right into the actual views which could be seen from every window in the hotel - towering mountains over the lush green hillside.

Our second day we woke to meet our smiling host and headed into town to pick up our bikes for the day. It was my first time on an E-Bike. I was pretty excited to get my blood flowing and adrenaline pumping. The bike path through town ran us through the green landscapes I could see from the hotel windows. We cruised through town and headed down a well manicured trail into the woods. Mountains overhead, I actually had to bend my neck to see the highest peaks. No matter where I was, there was always a 360 degree view. Just down the trail we entered rock and Limestone tunnels that took us literally through the base of the mountains, opening up into tall green forests. The clean air whipped by us as we sped through on our way to Lago Di Landro - a gorgeous teal colored lake at the base of giant sleeping mountains. It took us about 45 minutes to arrive and was an easy trek on the bikes. I knew we were getting close to the lake as rivers of clear water surrounded us on each side of the trail. When we got to Lago Di Landro I felt as though I was looking into a lake of sweet blue juice, something a photo cannot even capture. You have to be there to see it. As the clouds rolled over the sun the lake changed colors. I took my shoes off and stepped into the gorgeous sparkling water as I gazed into the expansive mountain ranges in each direction. Mountain tops still covered in glacial snow with glistening sunlight. It was hard to believe we just rode our bikes here, I felt worlds away. The trip home, we raced down the trail, enjoyed lunch at Rifugio Ospitale, an adorable charming restaurant half way back and off to the hotel to relax. We later met for a tour of the hotel. The beautiful room dedicated to Frank Sinatra, who has stayed at the Cirstallo in the past, was my favorite. Dinner was served at the Gazebo restaurant within the hotel. Service was very accommodating, so much care was taken. We sat with gorgeous mountain scenes in each direction. Each course was amazing, with dessert and coffee as we finished up. Wine was endless and we enjoyed each others company within the beautiful restaurant. 

I rose to my third day in Italy and felt like I had already been on multiple vacations as each day already spent was an experience of a lifetime. We rose early to meet our adventure guide, a skilled climber and mountaineer of the Dolomites. We traveled only ten minutes by car and arrived at our trail head. Once again, it was amazing to me how close everything was to the hotel. In the States I am so used to having travel of a day or two in order to get to so many unique destinations. 

We got our harnesses, helmets and hiked off into the deep forest. The air was cool and perfect for a hike. As we got about a mile into our hike I could feel mist in the air. We came around the corner and all of a sudden we were overlooking a massive waterfall, water spilling over the rocks below with the never ending views in each direction. We made our way down the switch back trail and came to our cable lined trail we would be hiking to get to places most people never get to see. Snapping our carabiners onto the cables, we made our way down narrow trails and into the waterfall. How many times have you sat on cliffs behind a 150 foot waterfall? My heart was pounding, and as a climber I felt excited - I was really in my element. I thought of my mother and knew this was something she would love. Something I could share the experience with her and she would be safe without having to use too much effort to arrive to. Our guide took us further into the woods and the number of waterfalls increased. Each fall was unique against the others, tall green grass, wildflowers, the smells and colors were a treat to my senses. We hiked behind other falls, crossed large bridges and went deep into the mossy woods filled with life. Not a house or another person in sight. We really were in the middle of dreamland. Nothing but nature. The weather was perfect as we were not too hot or ever too cold. I chatted with the guide about the local climbing and found out that some of the local climbs were actually taller than Yosemite climbs. I was simply blown away. As we hiked back to the car, I was wishing we had tents and could spend the night out in the forest. 

Our final dinner was served at the Tivoli restaurant in town. We were greeted by the chef who was happy to see us and he took our recommendations for food. Serving after serving I seemed to be fulfilling every dream dinner I never knew I had. Each bite was satisfying to my taste buds, texture and all. Each serving was a production in itself, it might as well had been served with fireworks. Wine was paired with each meal. Our chef made sure to check on us throughout dinner and cheers with a drink to health and happiness. 

I was sad this was our last night and wondered how I would cope with coming back to my normal every day life. I had the feeling that I had fallen asleep reading a fairy tale story and jumped into the pages.. now I knew I had been dreaming and was going to awake. 

This trip has been the journey of a lifetime. The Cristallo is a resort that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. Not only is the Cristallo itself an experience.. outside every window, every door, in each direction is a venture into woods, out to lakes, mountain tops and into towns that have something to offer any type of explorer. Whether you take a jeep, go on foot, ride horses, bikes or simply take a hike, you will stumble upon visions of dreams. Places you can only imagine. I highly suggest to everyone I know to take this trip. Venture into this land of dreams come true. Although it is hard to come home, it is no longer a dream. I can close my eyes and know that is my life. I actually lived that. The experience will always be close to my heart and a story I will tell forever. I hope some day to go back. 

If you are traveling to the Cristallo and/or into these areas of Italy please contact me with any questions about adventure. I am happy to continue sharing my experiences as they were some of the best in my life!

Instagram.

The weather was a typical sunny Southern California day. Glorious as always - too perfect to call winter. We gathered in Venice and made our way up PCH into the Santa Monica Mountain Range. Listening to good music and harmonious conversation in the car, the warm breeze rolled through smelling like salty ocean air. I looked around, melted into the present moment. And I realized..

If it weren't for social media, I wouldn't be HERE right NOW.

A crazy thought I guess. I still remember when we got internet on the family computer. How complex of an idea - it still baffles me. Up until about four years ago Facebook was my means of communication to those far away. Looking around at friends of friends, seeing who I might know. Maybe someone from the past would pop up!? It all seems like a distant memory now.. lol.

When I started @mountaingirls I was hesitant to tell anyone, assuming I would get some backlash for being...corny, I'm not sure. Things like that don't bother me so much now. Every once in a while you will read something about how terrible social media is. It's rotting the brains of our youngsters, most common - "it's all just fake".

My perception: it's all what you make of it.

Instagram is filled with photos of dream-like lifestyles so far fetched, things can seem unrealistic and unobtainable. ..The girl with the perfect body, luxury cars, mansion homes and yachts. But beyond all of that subjective matter is a mecca of possibility where people are logging on from around the world - creating together, collaborating, meeting up, generating partnerships with others who are like minded. The potential to go somewhere new, grow your business, meet people and cultivate a bigger bubble is enormous.

Over the course of the last four years I have met some of the best people I know, explored places I never imagined I would, grew opportunities - not just for myself, but my friends too. It feels silly to say.. I have expanded my world through social media and I am grateful for it. I love to reference one of my favorite quotes when it comes to this topic:

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anaiis Nin

Beautiful people I met through Instagram

Adventuring with Kids

The idea of travelling with your children is beautiful. Showing them the world, watching them grow socially and culturally - Lots of colorful photos and incredible stories to show and tell as they get older. Not often do the little in-between details cross your mind like.. bringing toilet paper/wipes for roadside stops in the middle of nowhere, tantrums over the toy at the gas station, "tired legs" ten steps into a hike, lugging gear/food/water around for everyone.. the list goes on. As exhausting as it can be, still no moment will ever exceed the overall experience. Watching the sunrises and sunsets, seeing wildlife, the smell of the tent and sound of the zipper when you wake in the morning. Something about food while camping.. everything tastes good - especially cooked over a campfire. After all, you know it was worth the trek.

Last week I had two trips "planned", both with Keegan (my four year old son) in tow. I say "plan" because you can never be too sure about how smooth things are about to go when your road tripping buddy is only four. 

Keegan has been my little partner in crime on many travels and seems to be quite happy to join in with a good attitude. There are twists and turns from time to time and this is where I have had to learn how to balance "plans" with the importance of parenting and Keegan's overall experience. 

When planning a trip with Keegan my best plans are NO PLANS. Sometimes an unexpected stop on the side of the road takes us on an unforeseen adventure. There is beauty in the mystery. It took me a while to learn to balance my adventurous side with being a mother. Overall, I strongly believe all parents/families should make an effort to travel with their kids. It isn't easy - but it is so worth it.

Random Advice to Travelling Parents

  • Don't give too many details on the trip ahead of time, if things change it could cause a stir. Keegs likes to do the "Are we there yet?" thing. I didn't think that was real until I had a child.
  • Along with packing your kids stuff - Let them pack their own small bag. Keegan packs his own little backpack on trips, this way he is responsible and mostly happy with the choices he has of toys, favorite cup etc.
  • Being playful and creative on hikes, at climbing spots, long car rides.. can make all the difference. We play I-Spy, create huts from fallen branches, build pretend bonfires and Keegan becomes "King of the Witches" - his words.
  • Involve your child as much as possible, even if you have to pretend they are helping. Pumping gas, holding a tent post, collecting small rocks to build a fire pit, even offering an item like a headlamp to wear can make them feel special. Keeping Keegs busy with things at camp seems to encourage him to be helpful and not feel left out. 
  • Allow your little one to pick an activity they would like to do each day. I get to see more of Keegan's personality and what he likes when I allow him to choose - it always ends up being more fun anyway.
  • Just get up and go! Less time to plan and worry about all of the things that can go wrong in between. Our BEST trips are always last minute. 
  • Don't go into your adventure with a tight schedule. Planning back to back ventures could get you disappointed. Having gaps in the day to day schedule of exploring can create space for play time, minor hang ups, hungry bellies, missing shoes, naps etc. 
  • After you have children, don't run off with your new family. Keep your friends! You will need a tribe of people you trust to help you along the way. Bringing a good friend along on trips (like Kaycee), is always a great idea. Kaycee is a lifesaver for me and Keegan. I can't beat myself up for not being able to do everything on my own.. Kaycee is happy to lend a helping hand when times are tough hiking through rocks, remembering last minute things we may have forgotten.. she is always loving towards Keegan.  - Don't move forward in your plans without a tribal member with you, or in support of you (on backup JIC).

Be prepared for anything. And most importantly, always remember.. 

-->> Monkey-See-Monkey-Do! <<--

Happy guiding!!

Climbing: It all started about two years ago in July..

My life began!

Okay .. 1984 is when my life began. But I feel like I really didn't start living until I found climbing. The world of rock climbing has opened up new doors for me. The desire to explore and push myself to limits and emotions I had never experienced before.

My first climbing experience was with my brother, who is an avid climber himself. He took me out to some rocks local to where I live and set up a top rope for me. I was initially intimidated, but knew the desire to keep doing it was there.

In July 2016 I began asking friends of mine that knew how to climb to teach me. I had seen all of the gear before and knew there was a lot to learn. When my friends agreed to teach me about climbing I admitted it wasn't just for me, but also for my son Keegan. As a mother, exploring with a little one can feel limiting at times. I knew climbing was something safe that we could do together. I quickly purchased him his own climbing harness and helmet along with my own.

Over the summer of 2016 I took advantage of every opportunity to head out on trips to learn more about climbing. From tying my figure eight, I excelled quickly into creating anchors, cleaning climbs and eventually leading. Keegan immediately took interest in bouldering and decided he didn't want much to do with the ropes and harness. It's important to me that he does things his own way and never feels pressured, so when he expressed the slightest interest it was a joyful moment. I began to realize my attempt to expand our outdoor adventures was working!

By the end of the summer the weather started to take a turn and climbing locally in the mountains was no longer an option (unless you like frozen fingers). My friends now had their sights on Joshua Tree.. the desert. A place I wasn't too fond of. After all, I moved to the mountains for snow and my plans were to snowboard all season.

- or not ?

For the first time in the last ten years I felt a change of interest. The cool and calm of the winter was no longer calling to me. And before I knew it, I was in the middle of the desert being introduced to the world of Trad climbing (Trad or Traditional climbing is when you place your own gear in the rocks). When I laid my eyes on trad gear for the first time, I saw mesmerizing jewelry. The curiosity was there for sure. Joshua Tree soon became my winter destination as my friends and I headed down the mountain weekly. Nights spent with headlamps on in the warm weather, during the winter.. my obsession with snowboarding was fading.

Needless to say, I managed to keep my tan for the first time through the New Year - new feeling. And after dead toenails, massive bruises, big falls, sweat and tears I love climbing more than I thought I would.

It is now February 2018. Winter never seemed to show up. The lake water is quite low and somehow I keep having the sensation that Thanksgiving is coming. Yellow leaves still lay on the ground, some confused flowers are in bloom. In the past I would have been sad about the warm winter. Right now I couldn't be any more grateful for my new found love of climbing.

The point is: Don't let anything stop you from doing the healthy activities you know you would love to do. There is always time - there is always a way. The best moment to get started is right now.

Leading my first 5.10a - August 2016

Leading my first 5.10a - August 2016

Suggestions for those looking to get into climbing: Ask your friends! If you don't know anyone that climbs, join a local indoor climbing gym to meet others who have knowledge of climbing gear and etiquette. The climbing community is full of amazing people and you will make some great friends. www.MountainProject.com has a Partner Finder for those who already have some experience as well. 
Keegan, three years old. Favorite camp activity: Building Fires.

Keegan, three years old. Favorite camp activity: Building Fires.