Switchback Training for Hell Hike And Raft with my Loaded Teton Sports Pack at the 680 Steps at the Start of the Dipsea Trail

Training with loaded backpack.
Photo credit: reluctant but loveable tween groaning about the 680 steps this morn.

Took Big Bertha, my gorgeous Hiker3700 Teton Sports pack, out for her inaugural run yesterday. 

Loaded with most of the gear I'll be hauling with me for the backpacking portion of our Hell Hike And Raft expedition. The Dipsea Stairs were calling. Getting me ready for some switchbacks. 

No, friends, not the awesomely-named Vermont beer, Switchback. I'm talking gasping, back-and-forth, straight-up, jesus-will-we-ever-get there switchbacks that I know Hell's Canyon and it's 7 Devils have in store for us.

So I grabbed an initially reluctant tween from the house and headed out. She amazingly snapped a focused, decent shot of me and my new BFF Bertha heading up the second set of stairs. In between her negotiations of where she'll sit and wait for me to finish. Not!

Any switchbacks on your agenda today? See you at the trail-head!

-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." -Einstein

More interesting info:
Switchback Brewing Company
Win this Teton Sports Backpack at Hell Hike And Raft
12 Backpackers, 1 Horse, 1 Mule and the He Devil 

Disclaimer: Teton Sports is a Hell Hike and Raft sponsor. The backpack was provided to me at no cost by Teton Sports. All opinions are, always and forever shall be much to my family's chagrin, my own.


Congratulations to our Cricket Firestarter Giveaway Winner from Tehachapi, CA - Time to build a campfire!

Campfire ready to roast!

Big congrats to Rhonda from Tehachapi, California! (Where's that? I had to Google it -- SoCal near the Mojave Desert. Cool.) 

You've won the awesome Cricket 5-Minute Firestarter Giveaway worth more than $30!

She's already planning her next camping trip with the kids to South Lake Tahoe in October. Warm days and cool nights. Leaves changing. Perfect.

Cheers to everyone who entered & happy end of summer camping to you.

-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." -Einstein

More interesting info:
Cricket Firestarter Review
Packing for a Family Camping Trip
Top 10 Camping Foods for the Family Camping Trip 


Summer Goal? Summit Vermont's Two Most Famous Peaks - Camel's Hump in July and Mt Mansfield in August. Crushed it!

I was dared to and I did it.
Another leap of giddy joy near the summit of Mt Mansfield, Vermont.

Official marker pin at summit of Mt Mansfield.

Summit shrouded in clouds & temps in the 40s. Wicked cold.

Two hiking goals this summer to crush. 

Summiting two of Vermont's most beloved and visible mountains -- Camel's Hump and Mt Mansfield.

Two mountain-tops I'd last seen as a kid with my dad.

Huge adrenaline rush last week as I realized my goal -- kicked it's happy buttocks! and made it onto Camel's Hump in July with my son and onto the Chin of Mt Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, at 4,403' according to my DeLorme GPS, last week.

Looking West towards Lake Champlain and the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains in New York.

Squeaking it in just before school starts and right before my Hell Hike And Raft trip coming up in less than two weeks.

And the Vermont Weather complied just as it did as a kid. Cold. Windy. Wet. Weather. Making me shiver and laugh at it's familiarity. Even in August.

Very cool GPS tag showing our location.

So, pick your goal and do it - what a rush! Cheers! 

-Outdoorsy Mama

For more cool info:
Mt Mansfield, Vermont
Camel's Hump, Vermont
The Green Mountain Club - The Long Trail, Vermont


Cricket 5-Minute Firestarter Review & GIVEAWAY. Add to your camping kit.

Still time for campfires this summer! A solid addition to your camping kit.

I cannot lie. The green cricket fellow on the box in his plaid shirt first caught my eye. He looks like a happy camper - completely satisfied with his roaring fire behind him.  

And then the ingredients: these firestarters are non-toxic and made of Forest Steward Council certified wood and other controlled substances. Big in my book.

And, finally, the problem solving qualities this box o’ firestarters has: starting a fire without the need for mounds of paper and kindling and squirting on the toxic, flammable juice that some people resort to that makes my eyebrows singe just thinking of it.

Using Them:  So we tossed our box of Cricket Firestarters to review into our camping box and have fired them up them all summer long. Building our campfires throughout California from Hendy Woods to Mt Tamalpais State Park.  **Don’t forget – you can enter to win a $30 GIVEAWAY at the end of this post. But for now, keep reading….!**

A normal match burns out in a few seconds and may take a finger or two with it if you're not quick. This firestarter lasts many minutes, slowly coaxing the bigger logs to – come on, light, light!– without as much of the usual prep material needed.  

So as my hubby bangs his head because he recycled the newspaper and I forgot to pack kindling – hmmmm, I toss him 3-4 of these handy, self-contained, little firestarters -- so nice to have as a worthwhile essential in our camping kit.

Do they work with stubborn, wet wood? We needed to use more and did give them help. And ended up switching out the problematic wet-log that a flame-thrower couldn’t have made burn. And, btw, good news these things are water resistant, tho they are not water proof.

They retail for a little over $5 at many stores throughout the USA including the western Rite Aids. 

So in the meantime, come stand by the campfire, my friend. S’mores for you and S’mores for me. And hope you win! Cheers!

-Outdoorsy Mama

-One Cricket 5-Minute Firestarter Box
-$15 Rite Aid Gift Certificate
-$10 Camping World Gift Certificate
*TIP: To leave a comment, once you enter your email into Rafflecopter form, click on link at the top of the post to pull-up the full article, then the "comments" section will pop-up & you can write. Then go back and press "I COMMENTED" in green. Sheesh - but it's worth it! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more info:

Disclaimer: The Cricket 5-Minute Firestarters for review and the full 3-item giveaway package were provided at no cost. All opinions are my own, always. 

Giveaway is open to US Residents only and sorry can't ship to PO Boxes. Contest starts on August 16 12amEST & ends August 25 12am, 2014 EST. The lucky winner will be announced a few days later. Good luck everyone - love sharing the cool stuff!


New England road trip takes me to my favorite place - jumping for joy at Mad River Glen Ski Area, Vermont - where we learned to "Ski It If You Can" on the Famous single chair.

Jumping for joy reuniting with one of my favorite places on earth - the Mad River Glen Ski Area single chair.....

Woke up this morning to a rainy New England. 

Hopped into the car and drove from Boston into and around soggy, gorgeous, green Vermont. Destination, ski country AND picking up my son in a few days from seriously-cool overnight camp.

Visited a few of my favorite ski hills we dominated as kids -- Sugarbush, Stowe and my all time favorite, Mad River Glen and it's famous & infamous single chair. The horror!

This is how I felt about it..... Hoot hoot!!!!!

-Outdoorsy Mama
Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better - Albert Einstein


How Robin Williams Healed an Introverted Nature Girl, a Heart-Broken 20-Something and a Stressed Out Outdoorsy Mama: Motherhood Part Two

Although I may come across as chirpy and gregarious on paper, it’s not my comfort zone, and I’m actually prone to shyness and introversion with people. So growing up, I was always hanging with animals, trees, needing an escape from my social, people-filled days and turned – always – if not to nature, then to comedy.

I love to laugh.

It’s a release and it fills my body with the right chemical concoction in the same way that time in nature does. Joy. Happiness. Healing. Bucket filling.

Cue Robin Williams.

The Funniest Man on Earth. Still. Period.

I’m surprised at my own reaction to his death but the truth is: Robin Williams was a Bandaid of humor that has spanned my life, helping me tolerate, release and heal my insecurities and boo-boos. Like, perfecting the extraterrestrial, extra-ordinary Nanu-Nanu handshake as a shy little kid to bond with friends. Like, gasping in rare, laugh-out-loud laughter at the shockingly hilarious "Birdcage" remake I watched over and over during a heart-breaking late 20s break-up.

And, in the last 10 years, feeling SO privileged to live in the same county as Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire, and his other beloved characters and get the rare, also extraordinary treat to see him perform live as a frequent surprise guest at our local community theater Comedy Night in Marin County, California.

This, a vital and cure-ing boost to the bedraggled new mom of three that I’d become – breaking me out of my exhausted fog and giving me a wet-my-pants-in-a-GOOD-way, gut-splitting laugh on a Tuesday night. My babysitter watching the kids at home and me enjoying a child-free, nothing clinging to me moment at the Throckmorton Theater.

Just a crazy, hairy and hilarious Robin Williams.

I am but a blip in Robin Williams’ universe. One of the zillion faces he has etched permanent smile lines into. But he is a marked blip in mine. I will miss him for both me and for the world. 

And the solace I have is the knowledge that I’m one Netflix binge away from All Things Robin W.

-Outdoorsy Mama
Do you have a Robin Williams story?



Forgive me. I am a drooling, excited idiot when my new, one man tent shows up... Hello Mountain Ultra 1 from Teton Sports. Welcome to my family.

New Gear to Review for my upcoming Hell Hike & Raft Idaho adventure

In 21 days i'm going to be knee deep in a new adventure... Actually, i'll be miles high in a new adventure - first trekking and then whitewater rafting through the Idaho Wilderness with a group of Outdoor Royalty who are also social media -- blogger, facebook, twitter, instagram -- savants. 

We'll be testing gear in the backcountry and on the Snake River for our savvy and serious sponsors.

And then we'll write and review. So that you all get a chance to see what's hot in the outdoor world, what's the scoop, and have a hoot reading about our adventures, to boot.

My new tent for the trip just showed up -- my eye-popping, orange Mountain Ultra 1 from Teton Sports -- and I couldn't contain my excitement and organized a spontaneous camping trip to Mt. Tam State Park north of San Francisco, California. I call it "pre-testing the testing tent..."

Forgive me. I am a drooling-excited-idiot. Ready to rock. 

Welcome to my family, my bright-orange, one man, Teton tent. And get ready, friends, this is going to be one hell of a fun ride.


-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." -Albert Einstein

Disclaimer: The Mountain Ultra 1 was provided to me for testing and review at no cost by Teton Sports. Teton Sports is a sponsor of Hell Hike And Raft. All opinions are my own.

For more info:
Hell Hike And Raft adventure with 14 outdoor bloggers
Hell Hike And Raft sponsors


California Road Trip! Up the Sonoma Coast north of San Fran where the Coast Buckwheat wildflowers are bursting and the wineries & oyster farms welcome us. Delicious. Beautiful. California.

Coleman Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park, California, USA

California Road Trip! Up the Sonoma Coast north of San Francisco where the Coast Buckwheat wildflowers are bursting and the wineries & oyster farms welcome us with open arms. Delicious. Beautiful. California. 

Light pink flowers - Coast Buckwheat. Tall white - Cow Parsnip. Foggy morning. 

Go. Hop in the car and explore!

-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." -Albert Einstein