7 Top Outdoor Stories for Sierra Trading Post 2016 #spons

Immerse yourself in the power of the Outdoors. Zion National Park.

"With it's twisting canyons, switchbacks, elevations and grandiose vistas, this Zion hike is one of my favorite hikes of all time. The massive scale of the park, which opens up as we climb up and in and around the walls of the valley, makes me step back and pause for a moment to experience that incredible feeling of Awe."

Immerse yourself in the power of the Outdoors. 

Here are my 7 top stories this year as a writer & influencer for Sierra Trading Post:

1- 5 Reasons Zion National Park Will Blow Your Mind

2 - 5 Ways to Prepare for Unpredictable Hiking & Backpacking Weather 

3 - Why Snowshoeing is Taking Over as a Favorite Winter Sport

4 - Gear Know-How: What to Look for In Ski Jackets & Snow Pants

5 - Hiking Vermont's Highest Mountains: The 4,000's 

6 - How to Not Fall in the Water...And 4 Other Canoeing Tips

And finally, the magic for all families,
7 - The Secret to Having an App-Free Weekend

Find me on Instagram, twitter and Facebook for more live conversation and mind-blowing, nature-worshiping photography.

-Annie @OutdoorsyMama

More to read:
Top 5 Outdoorsy Mama Adventure Posts of 2016 

Disclaimer: I am paid to write these stories for Sierra Trading Post. Hallelujah it's a #writersLife.


Top 5 Outdoorsy Mama Adventure Posts of 2016

8 Ways Hiking in the Worst Weather is the Best Hiking There Is

As we wade through the tinsel and ornaments and try to avoid grandma's "delicious" fruit cake for yet another year, it's time to wrap-up 2106 and look at the top adventure posts on Outdoorsy Mama this year:

1 - 8 Ways Hiking in the Worst Weather is the Best Hiking There Is
Hiking in a rain storm is not your average day at the office or behind the desk at school. The uniqueness of the full sensory experience lights us up from inside.

2 - 10 Gifts to Blow Her Outdoorsy Mind - Holiday Gift Guide 2016 
You have probably figured out from your man-cave core that you just might have to ROCK IT with gifts this season. Here are a few excellent thoughts to help you out to blow her well-deserved, outdoorsy mind. 

3 - Summer Hiking in San Francisco, California Through the Fog
Be prepared for a face-full of gorgeous, misty, lung-quenching fog when hiking around the Bay Area June through August. A marine layer sits over the Pacific Ocean in the summer and meets up with the cool waters along the coast. This creates a low-lying fog that comes in and out of the San Francisco area all summer long.

4 - Yosemite Waterfalls - 4 Waterfalls to Put on Your Bucket List in Yosemite National Park
We threw the kids into the car and road-tripped it up to Yosemite to get a look at the giant water flowing this year after an incredibly wet winter. Wow wow wow. After being so parched with the drought after so many years, it was pure joy getting to hike in the California Sierras with huge water everywhere. This is what we found.

5 - Spending Time in Nature One of the Secrets to the Happiest Places on Earth
The people in Denmark know from a personal and public health level that for the wellbeing of not just that child, but of their society as a whole, it’s important to focus resources on the seemingly simple, but often overlooked, concept of Nature Play. And this is the BOOM of this film.

The overall theme for this wild 2016?

Get outside and immerse our Families and our Selves in Nature, no matter the weather. In fact, sometimes the worse the weather and the harder the challenge, the better the adventure and the more we learn about our place in the outdoors and ourselves. 

We've got this.

For more live chatter find me on twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

-Annie @OutdoorsyMama


10 Gifts to Blow Her Outdoorsy Mind - Holiday Gift Guide 2016

10 Gifts to Blow Her Outdoorsy Mind. Holiday Gift Guide 2016
Hey Guys. It's December let's do this!

So, you probably think of yourself as this guy. You're a legend, an icon, a symbol of mankind's absolute potential: 
 The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Though, for real, your outdoorsy gal probably thinks of you as this guy:

You attacking the cheese puffs on your couch.

So you have probably figured out from your man-cave core that you just might have to ROCK IT with gifts this season. Here are a few excellent thoughts to help you out to blow her well-deserved, outdoorsy mind

Stocking Stuffers That You'll Want to Steal Back

1 - UST Pocket Sized Survival Tool
Mini-survival tool cutouts that come in cool, playful shapes like Sasquatch, hiker-dude and moose. Dangle one from her pack or her keychain, you'll want to steal these back immediately. 
Awesome shaped multi-tool: dog, hiker, mountain bike.
2 - Olomomo Nuts
Protein packed snack for the trail, all the flavors are delish but watch for the Cinnamon & Cayenne almond pack. You literally can't stop with just one or 700. Addictive trail food. 
Nuts, nuts about nutty trail food.
3 - Yeti
The Most Interesting Man probably has a Yeti. It's just that cool and we don't know why. The 30oz Tumbler is prime stocking stuffer real estate for her massive morning coffees and her chilled, evening, mama's-happy-juice sipping around the fire when the kids are in the tent and you're ignoring their endless call-backs. Done. 
Get ready for her Yeti.

4 - Garbage Picker Tool
Stay with me here. These are definitely awesome for sword-fighting however the "teaching our kids to be responsible human beings while doing our part to clean up Nature" is the real score here. Get one not just for your outdoorsy honey's stocking but also one for every single human in the house and then GET OUTSIDE. Adopt a street or a beach or a stream and start cleaning up. This is a feel good, win-win, yes-yes for your Outdoorsy Mama and the whole family including your disapproving mother-in-law who you've been trying to win over since day one.
Garbage picker-upper that even your mother-in-law will love.

Gifts Under the Tree For Her to Rip Open Like a Wild Person 

5 - Sherpani Bags
Sherpani means female sherpa, which is basically what the Outdoorsy Mama in your life does all day long: schlepping your gear, the kids, random things around all day. These bags are gorgeous and make me want to run through their flagship store in Boulder and throw each and every one on my back and squeal like a young tween. Sleek, hip, and extremely practical, this up and coming company should be on the "keep an eye on" list for new bags each season. 
Wearing the Camden Backpack yum.
6 - Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
You have no choice, legend Yvon Chouinard's almost cantankerous attitude about buying his gear makes us want to support him and his nature-forward corporate philosophies and thus buy his gear even more. I'm nuts about the Nano Puff jackets made from some recycled content which come in a plethora of colors and are lean, warm, layering pieces that I drag around with me everywhere. If your gal is into warm, windproof, water-resistant AND taking care of the planet, this may just be your A+.
Nano in the Tetons.
7 - Stio Environ Ski Pants
I love discovering young companies. Found these guys on a recent trip to Jackson Hole and, honestly, anything associated with Jackson or the Tetons makes me swoon so that's always a good starting point. Their gear is high quality and I love the feel of their Environ waterproof, breathable ski pants which I plan to give a true beating on the mountain and trails this winter. 
Goody, goody my Stio ski pants ready to go.
8 - Kick-Arse Cowboy Boots 
There's nothing that makes us Outdoorsy Mamas feel freer than when we slip on our cowboy boots and head out for the night. Every outdoorsy gal needs a pair to have as a go-to at any point in her life to remember the kick-arse, fun, wild side of herself. Yes.
Every gal needs to kick up her heels in a pair o' these.

For the Thunderclap All the Way Back to Home Base Win

Coordinate this 5-Star gift with your man-buddies. Send your Outdoorsy Mama off for this weekend getaway with a group of her gal-pals to sweat, get dirty, be happy. Put on by REI, this a bonding, learning, connecting through nature adventure that she'll remember for the rest of her life. And YOU and your kids and your dog made it happen. Set to sizzle!

On a paddle board. In Mexico. Or anywhere for that matter... Give her any yoga retreat in any location for a few days of R&R away from the kiddos for her way overtaxed mind and body and you'll not just be the garbage-taker-outer in the household any longer. You'll be "The Man". The wildly-thoughtful man.
Your unbelievably happy Outdoorsy Mama on a yoga or Outessa retreat.

Finally, Sierra Trading Post for Everything Else
I don't always give away gift certificates to Sierra Trading Post, but when I do, you better enter.  Enter over and over -- even once a day on Twitter, my friends!

In honor of my three seasons as a writer with the outdoor, gear supply gang at Sierra Trading Post, we're putting up $50 bucks for an e-gift certificate. This'll help you find that perfect something for that well deserved outdoorsy honey of yours. They've got a ton of good stuff. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
For more live conversation find me at twitterFacebookInstagram

-Annie @OutdoorsyMama

Disclaimer Giveaway: Giveaway is open to US Residents only and starts on December 1 12am and ends on December 8 12am. The winner of one $50 gift certificate will be announced and a response within 48 hours is required. 

Disclaimer Gear: Olomomo, UST, Sherpani provided gear for me to field test and review. The Sierra Trading Post people are rock stars and provided a gift certificate for giveaway. All opinions are formed, thought over, mulled, churned and are 100% my own. (In other words, I make zero money from the sale of any of these items, I just LOVE the products.)

More Holiday Gift Guides:
Wow so many great ideas, check out all of these other gift guides from fellow Outdoor Bloggers!
Go Adventure Mom - Holiday Gift Guide 2016 
Gift Guide to Help Get Outside 2016 + Giveaways! 
Rain or Shine Mama - The BEST Christmas Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy Kids + Giveaway  
Brave Ski Mom - The Brave Ski Mom Holiday Gift Guide 2016 
Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies - Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families (with Giveaways) 
Little Family Adventure - Gift Guide for Outdoor Families
Rockies Girl - Gifts to Last from Baby to Toddler 
Currently Wandering - 25 Gift Ideas for Adventurers, RVs & Families 
Play Outside Guide - Play Outside Gift Guide & Giveaways
We'll Eat You Up We Love You So - A Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families 
Mountain Mom and Tots - 2016 Holiday Gift Guide 
Born to be Adventurous - Gift Ideas for Babies and Toddlers 
KidProject.org - Companies that Give Back Gift Guide 2016 
MommyHiker.com - The Outdoor Gear Lover's Gift Guide 2016 


Empowerment Through Nature and the Outdoors is a Path Forward for Us All

Sunset hike in Yosemite National Park with the kiddos feeling the power of Nature and awe.

Within the swirl of these last couple of days, various groups and friends and outdoorsy colleagues have reached out to me out to collaborate and brainstorm and connect over forward thinking non-profit and and for profit ideas with the one common theme that is so incredibly inspirational I figured there just must be something magical in the air. 

Their idea? Empowerment. 

I actually ran to Google with my fingers and looked up the definition of the word as I needed to see and feel and make sure I understood the thinking behind their passion. 

My favorite definition is from businessdictionary.com: 
"...sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take the initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance."

“Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction.”

Switch out the word Employee with Human Being and we’re good to go, friends. This is where we are today, and This is what we are up to these days.

These fired-up visionaries came to me to discuss using my experience and skills and passion for the Outdoors as a tool for Empowerment. With their overall mission being: it’s time to pay attention, it’s TIME TO KICK ASS and to educate and inspire and bring together communities to grow and help develop healthy people.

We are all in this together. 

With nature, we can heal, empower, enlighten. Stay tuned, my friends. A lot of swirling magic going on bringing us into this next phase with equanimity and purpose. And kicking some patoot.

Let’s do this!

Find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @OutdoorsyMama to continue the fun conversation right now.


5 Reasons to Visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming NOW - Eat, Stay, Play in the Great Outdoors

The Tetons. Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming

I’m rubbing my eyes over and over, can these mountains be for real? Winter, spring, summer, fall, no matter the season, if there is anything I can do to get back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I’m going to make it happen. Why?

1 - Tetons
Massive, jagged peaks burst out of flat, ranch land and rivers into the Wyoming sky as if formed by some wizard’s wand. Each turn on the road and trail creates a new, sawtoothed, alpine formation, now even more dramatic with the fresh snow covering the tops of the Tetons when I arrive. Put Grand Teton National Park on your list even if purely for the gasping, visual sense of magical mountain awe.

Jackson Hole Ski Resort getting ready for the season.
2 - Epic Ski Mountain 
I’ve skied my whole life and hitting the slopes on the infamous Jackson Hole ski mountain is still in the works. It’s all steeps and deeps, giant vertical, and, according to locals, loads of backcountry trails that are easily accessed from the resort. Located 12 miles north of the town of Jackson, be sure to bring your peeps and pump up those ski legs. 

Massive bull moose grazing in Jackson, Wyoming.
3 - Wild Animals 
I literally bumped into wild animals as I explored the valley, including a bull moose calmly grazing with the mountains springing up behind him. I was treated to an untamed, Wild West safari of buffalo, elk, moose, antelope, hawks, and high-alpine pika.

3 - Cool Ski Town People 
Let’s face it, these are my people. They have settled in remote Jackson Hole specifically to live and breathe the mountains and they’re passionate about the outdoors to the point of obsession, a quality can I certainly relate to. Instant connection about nature, outdoor lifestyle and surviving in the rugged West makes me salivate for more stories and information about the area and I just live to soak in their wilder spirits. They'll do anything they can to make it work to stay here.

4 - Outdoor Adventure
Between the hiking trails in the national park, the National Elk Refuge, the skiing, horseback riding, white water rafting, and fly fishing, this place is a mecca for outdoor activity year-round. High on my list is to return for an overnight horse packing trip or spend time at one of the many local, dude ranches, as the tradition of “cowboy” still rules here. 

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Jackson, Wyoming.
5 - Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
Visions of Blazing Saddles dance through my head when I think of the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar located as if on an old-fashioned movie set on the central square of town. I pull on my boots and kick through the swinging doors - not really - for a few nights out on the town that always end with a visit to the Million Dollar bar. Ask a friend who’s been to Jackson; many, and most times there’s a story or three that has to do with shenanigans in, around and because of the bar. What happens there, definitely stays there, giddyup!

Lunch at Dornan's in Moose, Wyoming.

Where to eat out of the fray, chill, local style:
Breakfast - Persephone Bakery. Highly delicious French inspired treats and excellent coffee for morning kick-start. 
Lunch - Dornan's Pizza Pasta Company. One of the few places open north of Jackson during off season, enjoyed a solid quesadilla and soda water from the bar with the most extraordinary view of the Tetons. A locals place when the crowds are gone & where I got the best stories. 
Dinner - Pinky G's. Big slice of greasy, delicious pizza coupled with a Jenny Lake Lager. Friendly staff, you'll join locals lining up especially late night.

Where to stay:
Budget - The Ranch Inn. Basic hotel, centrally located in town near the action.
Middle - Snow King Resort. Located on the edge of town next to a small ski mountain but still walking distance to town. Full service resort.
Luxury - Amangani. Luxury destination resort set outside of Jackson towards Grand Teton National Park.

For live chatter about the outdoors follow me on twitter at @OutdoorsyMama or Instagram @OutdoorsyMama.


Top 10 Qualities to Look For in An Outdoor Adventure Partner

Summit of Mt Tamalpais, SF, California, with my kid and my "little" brother, two of my favorite adventure partners.
On any hike, adventure or exploration we head out on there’s always a need to make sure we’re doing it with someone who has the right mix of qualities that will make for a totally epic yet also safe adventure no matter the level of risk. 

Close your eyes — who pops into your head immediately as your favorite adventure partner? I feel so lucky to have a long list of people who I can call on to join me. Tops on my list are my son who has begun excelling in the outdoors and learning vital skills as he's grown into a teen. And also my brother, who is my original adventure buddy from when we were kiddos way before seat belts and helmets came on the scene. How did we ever survive those days??

So, given that, what are some of the attributes we look for in a partner for outdoor adventure? Here’s a top 10 list:

1 - Trust - Trust is the number one quality that makes for an ideal partner. How can we even take a step on the trail, or jump onto a backcountry ski slope in the deep powder, or clip in to a harness if we don’t trust our buddy. Trusting this person can literally be the difference between life and death when playing in the outdoors in the unpredictable terrain and elements that Ma Nature throws at us constantly. 

2 - Trust - again.

3 - Trust - and again and again.

4 - Camaraderie - Telling stories, laughing ‘till our sides split, hitting the crazy views at the summit together after a painful climb — the sense of camaraderie we have with the right person or group is a powerful, important force.

5 - Level Head - Panicking in the outdoors never gets anyone anywhere. A level head is key to stop, assess and move forward with a new strategy when the inevitable not-according-to-the-plan situation arises. It ALWAYS does.

6 - Emotional Resilience - When things get hard, we always want someone who can be honest with their emotions yet also be able to manage them and not get overwhelmed by them so they get distracted from making safe and smart decisions. 

7 - Physical Competence - We all don’t need to be Olympic athletes, however it’s best to make sure everyone’s ready and in shape for the level of risk we’re going to put ourselves into. This avoids susceptibility to injury or exhaustion and thus putting everyone else on the team in the role of caretaker.

8 - Sense of Humor - Sense of humor so required. I have never laughed so hard, had so much fun, looked at life with such huge smile on my face as when I’m out with a great partner or team in the outdoors. Sheet goes “wrong” and hits the fan constantly and being able to laugh while coping is a huge bonus.

9 - Sense of Adventure - The spirit and enthusiasm we can bring to an adventure is contagious. I love being with people who are as excited to the point of almost salivating at the build-up to the adventure. And then they maintain and exude that joy and good energy during the actual adventure itself. This is 100% one of my favorite qualities.

And, finally 10 - It t all circles back to: Trust. Of course.

This motley crew of trusted adventurers formed Hell Hike & Raft 2014
through Hells Canyon & The 7 Devils, Idaho.

Some other, cheeky things might be someone who: will carry the beer, play Journey songs on the ukulele around the campfire, cook up a mean bacon burrito in the backcountry. This list is endlessly fun. 

Any others to add? Definitely share. 

So now, when you close your eyes and think of your adventure partners, who do you come up with. Is it the same as before?

Always join the conversation on @OutdoorsyMama on twitter or Facebook.

See you in the mountains. - Annie @OutdoorsyMama 


Which Hiking Shoe Is Right For You? For Kids and Adults

Me and my kiddos testing out the latest Hi-Tec hiking boots in Yosemite, California.

As an outdoorsy person I confess I now own a number of different types of shoes to hike in, just as you may ‘cause we’re all spilling our secrets here, and they’re sort of like my babies. I think about them when i’m not with them. I wonder if i’ve left them out on the back steps by mistake after that last hike. I carefully contemplate which pair to wear the next day. I chose from my hard-core, waterproof, dinosaur-kicker Keens to my agile, 4WD-teeth-for-treads Saucony trail runners, to my hybrid-type, mountain-shoe by Ahnu, etc.

Just like my kids, each of these precious hiking shoes has their own personality and some things I adore about them and some things I don’t really adore and blame on the other genetic swirl in my life. And, just like my kids, I go through phases of which is my favorite. Don’t tell my kids.

Sunset hike in the Saucony trail runners I travel with in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Trail Runners:
For my California, coastal lifestyle, there’s no question that the trail runners are the way to go. It barely rains here. And the lightweight comfort and hard-core tread on these shoes win almost every day. Because the climate is so parched here, wet feet from precipitation is rarely an issue and if there’s a water crossing, the hot, California days will dry them out quickly. Sometimes when I wear these I feel like i can walk straight up walls or at least i know I can cling to rocks precariously when bouldering. They make me feel powerful and they don't take up tons of space so they're my go-to traveling hiker shoe.

My Merrell trail sandals have seen every side of a trail, river, boat and campsite.
Trail Sandals:
If I were living in the hot-zones of So Utah and Arizona and similar places, like the wise guides who run all the adventure trips I’d hike and adventure mostly in Trail Sandals and also get that funky, white-strapped, sun tan that is almost a badge of honor. They’re max in breathability and good for the well traveled trails and still provide good stability for the foot. You just need to watch the exposed toes. They're also a great extra pair of shoes to have at the campsite & can be strapped to the back of any backpack easily.

New lightweight technology makes hiking boots a great option like in these Hi-Tec boots.
Hiking Boots:
When I head back to the Northeast for some adventure, I note the value in the toe-protecting hiking boots with all of the roots and scrambling involved on those gnarly trails. I’m giddy that our family gets to test some Hi-Tec boots this season that are so surprisingly lightweight. Some peeps still love the old, leather hiking boots, but I’m happy to let the new technology wrap my hiking feet and provide excellent stability and protection with a nimble feel rather than the heavy clomp, clomp.

How to Chose the Right Pair for You?
When you go to places like REI or other outdoor or shoe specialty stores, talk to the experts there about your feet's quirks, your needs, and then try all the styles on. There seems to be a real mix on opinions of whether to buy a hiking boot - either high or low cut - versus trail runner even for backpacking these days. A veteran expert from a renown specialty store talked me into my first pair of trail runners years back as I was headed out on a backpacking trip and even despite the weight and mileage, he kept recommending the trail runner over all hiking boots. 

For Next Hiking Season
As we head into fall and winter it's fun to think about what's right for your feet for the next hiking season and boy do they make great holiday gifts instead of toasters and ties and vacuums. And I've found everything I've chatted about here works the same for my kids, too. 

See what works for you. Maybe a mix like me? And you’ll definitely start finding your favorites. Just don’t tell your kids…

For more live conversation find me on Twitter at @OutdoorsyMama

Disclaimer: Hi-Tec provided hiking boots for testing. All opinions are always and forever shall be my own. 

For more about gear read my Gear Reviews & Products I Love