June 27, 2020

I haven't gone hiking in the Columbia River Gorge in nearly two years. For two long, long years I've been living in Virginia pursuing my Master's Degree in Sustainable Urban Planning and have only visited Portland a few times for short visits focused on seeing family, friends, and wedding planning. We weren't sure if we'd end up back in Portland after graduate school, as I planned to apply to urban planning jobs up and down the West Coast this past spring. COVID-19 turned that quite upside down, with most urban planning jobs evaporating as municipal budgets were reallocated to COVID-19 relief. The upside is that we're back in Portland for the foreseeable future and I'm focusing on learning how to enjoy free time again after an endless year of full-time graduate school, part-time contract work, serving as Vice President on my student government council, and wedding planning for a celebration that is now postponed. 

We drove across the country from Virginia to Portland and spent our...

November 4, 2019

This week I turn 27 and, predictably, all I wanted for my birthday was to go for a long hike in the mountains. Since we moved to Virginia we have spent considerably less time in the mountains, mostly due to there being much fewer mountains in Virginia than Oregon, but I knew there had to be some kind of a good, challenging hike out there. Thanks to AllTrails, I discovered the 9-mile Old Rag Mountain Trail in Shenandoah National Park and we left our apartment in Arlington around 8 AM to drive West to the soft, old peaks of Shenandoah.

Old Rag is categorized as a "difficult" hike due to the nearly 2,500 ft of elevation gain spread throughout the 9-miles and the section of rock scrambling along the ridge of the hike. I was stoked - we hadn't done a hike with more than a couple hundred feet of elevation gain since we got to Virginia, and I was missing the views and exhilaration that came from making that ascent. We definitely got those views, and those leg burns, but what we weren't expect...

December 19, 2018

Five companies were recently approved to begin seismic airgun blasting to find oil under the Atlantic Ocean between Delaware and Florida. Seismic blasting is devastating for whales (dolphins included), negatively impacting how they communicate, feed, and mate.

One species that environmentalists are concerned about is the right whale. These whales were cleverly named by whalers who deemed them the "right" whale to kill because they are slow and have a high concentration of blubber, which translates to money and ease of harvest (blubber makes them positively buoyant so they float when they die). Not surprisingly, they are now the most endangered whale in the world!   

NOAA approved of this study saying that blasting wouldn't be allowed during the right whale migration and any boats performing these blasts would be required to have a NOAA observer, just in case. Moreover, NOAA said they would not allow blasts to happen while any endangered animals are within 56 miles. It might see...

August 21, 2018

The origin of many American environmental regulations can be traced back to the 1960's, when policy makers and scientists united in agreement that pollution and environmental degradation needed to be addressed. Over the next two decades much progress happened on that front, including but not limited to, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, Endangered Species Act in 1973, the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act in 1980. 

Before President Nixon created the EPA in 1970, there was one state that saw the need to address air pollution and took aggressive action. That state was California, acting under the leadership of Governor Ronald Reagan. The first recorded episode of smog in California was in Los Angeles in the summer of 1943, during which vi...

July 3, 2018

My beloved Mountainsmith Celestial Tent finally bit the dust (RIP) I ended up doing a lot of research before investing in our Tent Home 2.0. When I purchased my first tent I had only been camping a handful of times and backpacking wasn't even on my radar, so I didn't have a lot of specific things I needed my tent to do - it just happened to be on sale for a good price from The Clymb and had lots of good reviews. Now, though, I'm much pickier. I wanted a two person, three-season tent, light enough for backpacking but hearty enough to withstand some light snow and heavy winds during early spring/late fall adventures. I also wanted a tent with plenty of pockets on all sides for things I wanted close at hand and a strap for a carabiner to hang my favorite solar-powered lantern from the top. I also wanted to keep things relatively affordable - after all, I am about to start grad school. 

After more than a few hours spent researching online and trips to REI, I landed on the REI Half Dome 2 Te...

February 4, 2018

It's almost here. I can feel it in the air - backpacking season. The snow is finally starting to melt and reveal the well beaten paths that I love so dearly. Realistically, it'll be another month or two before I can backpack comfortably (I define "comfort" on the backpacking trail very loosely but the basic definition includes being able to get out of my sleeping bag without crying due to cold and my tears then freezing). But, with the right preparations, I can start heading into the wild without intense snow gear as early as mid-March. It can be easy to get too excited at the prospect of hitting the trail, but it's important to remember that the woods are different in the spring than the summer, and I'll need a few additional things to survive. 

Take a Peek Into My Pack: My Spring Camping Must Have's

- A Hearty Three Season Tent & Tarp

I make it no secret that I love my Mountainsmith Celestial Tent, but any good three season tent will do. The musts? A bathtub floor that wi...

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