Monday, March 31, 2014

The Nature Prescription: A Dose of The Outdoors a Day Keeps the Doctors Away. Mine/Thine Homework


Have you had your daily dose of the Outdoors today? Photo credit: Annie Yearout


You know when we’re on a hike. And we’re climbing up a single track path. Maybe surrounded by Aspen trees if we we're, say, at 9,000+ft heading up a trail to an alpine lake in Colorado.

It’s late spring. And all around us are gentle, wispy wildflowers poking their delicate heads through the fresh, green grass. A group of birds, possibly mountain chickadees, flitter in leaves of the trees around us, tweeting out to each other. Chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee.

I call up to my friend I’m hiking with as we’ve popped out of the grove of aspens and I pause to take in the heart-stopping grandeur of our view. A babbling, rocky stream below cutting the valley, snow-topped 14ers jaggedy up high, and Electric Pass and a scree field in my footsteps’ future at my back. 

Each way I turn, as I break and sip from my Camelback and nibble my gorp, I am bombarded with the awe of Nature.

Cathedral Lake Hike, Colorado

And I feel GOOD. My head is clear, my breath is challenged but strong, my body feels worked, like it was meant to Hunter & Gatherer style... and some deep level of contentment is present. I feel GOOD.

I’m curious about this feeling, because it’s the same sort of GOOD I feel when we’ve spent a stormy day in deep powder on a Wasatch Mountain in Utah. Chatting with my friends, the conversation about our runs turns to words like “epic” “unbelievable” and there is a giddy, juiced, almost spiritual vibe flowing through the group.

For as we use our bodies as two legged plows and carve through the fluffy snowpack, dodging trees and branches, taking on the big, Western bowls and steeps, we're participating in all things Nature. Flakes stick to our goggles, red, raw faces, and we occasionally get engulfed by a tidal-wave of powder – spitting it out and hooting with joy at the same time. We feel GOOD.

A daily dose of this could be all we need.

And though the dose need not be as extreme as dangling off a cliff in Nepal or bungee jumping from a helicopter onto a snow covered mountain in the Alps, it could just be as simple as taking a few steps towards a green patch in our neighborhoods or wild backyards. 

Finding a space. Where we can feast our eyes on an emerald bush dotted with flowers, a sprawl of unkempt grass where I can take off my shoes and feel the scrubby scrub of the earth, or enjoy the simplicity of an intricate dandelion and its tiny little parachutes. Or a snowflake. 

Where do you go to take your daily prescription of Nature? I can’t wait for my next dose.

Be. Breathe. Do it. – OM

More interesting info:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bay Area Hikes: GO NOW! Hiking Cataract Falls Near San Francisco During "Runoff" Season Transports You To New Zealand

Cataract Falls, Mout Tamalpais State Park, California

Who wants a little taste of lush New Zealand in San Francisco - me! 

Hike: Cataract Trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park, near San Francisco, California
Length: @ 5.6 miles round trip
Location: Mount Tamalpais State Park, 11.5 miles from Highway 101, just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County
Difficulty: elevation change of @ 1,400 feet - switchbacks up & down
Exposure: mostly shady
Dogs: Welcome on leash
When to go: NOW. During late winter when the water is running off Mt Tam.


Map of Cataract Falls hike
I grab my pooch, pack up the car for a trip to Stinson Beach - cooler, backpack, everything - and drive into the Marin Headlands for a day in the waves and sand.

As I crest the hill, I note the massive fog layer sitting down below on the ocean, so I quickly amend my adventure and take a sharp Right - screech! - at Pan Toll and instead head up higher into the mountains. Yup, always be prepared for a shift in adventure due to weather conditions.


Trail Start at Rock Creek
Twisting and turning up through the lush, green, wildflower covered southern hills of the Headlands, I arrive at my new destination: Rock Creek trailhead - the start of the late-winter Bay Area hike: Cataract Falls.

The trail begins with a gentle downhill, following Cataract Creek and a speckle of curious wildflowers 1.4 miles to a group picnic area called Laurel Dell. This is when the fun begins. 
Pink Calypso Orchids

From here on, it's step after step of downhill glory as the falls cascade through Mother Nature carved rock formations. To create a sensory experience for every part of your body: the whirr of the water as it flows through the canyon, the mist in the air filling our lungs, the feast for our eyes of the lush almost prehistoric vegetation. It's transportive, hiking friends.


Alpine Lake
2.8 miles down, I bump into the milky looking Alpine Lake - with it's giant redwoods stranded like islands by the high water. Almost spooky.

Then it's a turn around, and what was a lighthearted bounce down the 1,400 feet, now becomes the stair-master climb back up. A little less sensory high, a lot more heart-beat high. Rewarding, in a different way.
Dogs welcome at Cataract Falls

For you dog lovers, Aspen, my little rescue puggle, was also rewarded by the 7,000 friends she got to sniff on the way up and down. This is a popular dog trail for the Bay Area set.

Pack a picnic. Water. Your camera. This mostly shady hike will transport you to the Lord of the Rings green of the South Island of New Zealand. Minus the plane ticket. 

Be. Breathe. Do it! -OM

For more interesting info:
Mt Tam State Park Map & Brochure
Bay Area Hiker
More Hikes: Rock Springs Trail with Views of San Francisco Bay
More Hikes: Johnstone Trail in Tomales Bay State Park, near Point Reyes 
Hiking with Kids




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I’m All for #BanBossy, but Parenting a Future Leader Can Be – Whew! – A Handful. The Other Side, Motherhood Part Two.

Pink says: don't shut up!
I’m all for embracing Sheryl Sandberg’s new Lean In campaign to delete the word “bossy” from our vocabulary and instead fully support & champion those head-strong, feisty, take-no-prisoners qualities in our little girls.

Yes, #BanBossy!

However, I’m wondering if Sheryl has twin girls – age 9 – who quite seriously would like to run my household, your planet, the universe???

Pink, the kick-ass, pop-rock star’s recent quote running through the social media channels: “It’s about being alive and feisty and NOT sitting down and shutting up. Even though people would like you to,” is all well and good.

And I support it. Conceptually.

But has Pink tried to get a set of feisty girls off to school this morning? Each determined to create their own hair-doo, pick thru the lunch I made for them “I wanted Cranberries! Not Raisins, dear Mother!” and battle me through sunscreen application wars.

Whew.

I feel there should be support groups set up for the moms and dads of this “embracing the leadership qualities of young girls.”

“Hi, my name is Annie, and I’m a mother of two future leaders of America…..”

“HI ANNIE……..”

With a twinkle in her eye (I was there – I saw the twinkle), Sheryl’s advice to a room full of mommy-bloggers at a BlogHer conference last summer was to: take a deep breath in this very moment of being run around by our daughters and realize with amazement and adoration, hey, my daughter is demonstrating excellent Executive Leadership skills! (The crowd went wild…)

Hmmm.

By the time they leave for college, I may be seriously blue in the face, starved of oxygen for the next ten years with all of the giant, deeeeep breaths and possible breath-holding that I’ll need to be doing. Or, I may be the most chill, forward thinking mom out there. Time will tell.

So, yes, #BanBossy. Bring it on. And, I’ll set up a couple of extra oxygen tanks, just in case.


Be. Breathe. Do it. – OM

Oh yes, more interesting reading here: