Tennessee Mountains vs. Arkansas Mountains

**I am sorry that this post did not go up on Tuesday. I was feeling a little under the weather and was at the doctor’s office. **

 

I know I know I usually tell you about a hike I have been on or some gear I have reviewed. However, today is a little different. I am going to tell you about my family’s vacation last summer. As a family, I am really the only one who loves to hike. I know crazy right! Not saying that they won’t hike with me it is just not their love. 😉 Our family does love riding ATV and UTV’s in the mountains. We usually go every year to Mena, Arkansas. This year we changed it up and went to Tennessee. A group of us go together. We all get cabins around each other, plan our days, ride, and have fun.

 

We left early one morning, drove all day and some of the night in early June. We stopped about two hours from our destination and spent the night in a hotel. The next day we got to our cabin, checked in, unpacked, and got settled. Then came the fun part…Planning our ride for the day and our big one for the next day. This year since we went to Tennessee our friends from West Virginia joined us for the week. It also just happened to be our friend, Felicia’s, birthday. So of course, we had to celebrate it in style. I had purchased a cookie cake from the cookie factory. When we packed up the coolers we discovered that we did not have a cooler that would fit the cookie cake in it whole.: o We had to keep it cool for the trip. Well, with great sadness I cut the cookie cake in half, wrapped it and placed it in the cooler. We surprised her with now injured cake. Looking back, I think I should have purchased it closer to our destination. Ugh! Sometimes I plan to much! It didn’t matter our friend was surprised and loved her cake. Plus, it still tasted great. Isn’t that all that really matters.

Now, back to our trip. There were four families that went on the trip. We had three side by sides and my son’s 4-wheeler. We went on a small ride the day we got there. It was interesting to see the difference from Arkansas landscapes and mountains compared to Tennessee’s. The views in the mountains were amazing. We saw wild hogs, turkeys, and lots of little animals in the wild. The streams and waterfalls were so beautiful. The next day we went out it rained most of the day so we didn’t get much riding in. The third day we rode almost the whole day. On way part of the mountain we were going down and lost our brakes. That was a little crazy.

 

The second day we were there, one of the side by sides broke. We had to fix it because we needed all the buggies to fit all of us. As soon as we got that fixed my son’s 4-wheeler broke. We were beginning to wonder if Tennessee didn’t want us there. 😉

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All in all, it was nice riding. The trails however were being remarked so sometimes we got a little confused as to where we were. When we go back they will be finished with the remarking. I cannot wait. I also want to go back and hike some of the trails there. Looks like I have another bucket list entry! I loved the mountains in Tennessee but, I did miss the familiarity of my Arkansas Mountains! 😉 Well till next time, Happy Wandering, my friends! ❤

 

 

Salewa, the new top brand?

*This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own. *

 

Salewa is a company that was started in 1935 in Germany. It has gone through many changes through the years. It now offers array of products for the outdoor person.

 

Salewa contacted me through email along with some other outdoor bloggers to see if we would be interested in testing out one of their jackets and hiking boots. I accepted! I received the Ortles Hybrid 2 jacket and the Women’s Mountain Trainer Mid GTX hiking boots.

 

I tried the jacket on and loved the fit of it. I liked how lightweight it was. I was a however a little worried though about how warm it would keep me since it was so lightweight. I tried the boots on. I have a hard time with shoes because of a bone spur on my left foot. Certain shoes feel ok at first but end of killing my feet by the end of the day. They felt great and fit perfectly. I really like how the shoelaces laced to give you that extra support on your ankles without it being too tight.

 

Then, the real test on the trails. I tested it first on some local trails right by my house. I did this so if the boots did start hurting my feet or the jacket did not keep me warm enough I would be close to home.

 

I took off on the trails, it was not freezing outside but, it was pretty chilly. I would say it was around 50 degrees. Which is cold for Louisiana. 😉 I should also let you know I am a very cold natured person. You know the type that wears hoodies in the summer. Not for style but, for comfort! Yeah, I am that person!

 

I was pleasantly surprised that the jacket kept me quite warm! Even when the wind was blowing while hiking. The boots…. AMAZING!!!! I could not believe how supportive and comfortable the boots were. They were just as comfortable as my trail runners. I almost forgot I even had boots on. They felt more like sneakers than boots. Except, they had more support for my ankles than my trail runners do. The grip on the bottom of the boots were great for climbing up hard terrain.

 

So, they did great on local trails which are pretty much flat where I live but, how would they do on other terrain. I took both on a few more hiking adventures where the terrain is a little less forgiving. The jacket worked so well I had to take it off because I got hot. Like this rarely happens. (remember cold natured! 😉 The boots performed beyond my expectations. I think these are my new go to boots. I just really love the laces. One down side to the boots is it takes a little time lacing and tying them. I hope with practice this will getter easier for me. I wear tennis shoes to work every day so I am not use to lacing and tying boots. The jacket has been great. I have not seen a down fall to it yet. I have not used the jacket in temperatures below 40 degrees. It will be interesting to see how it performs in conditions colder than that. I will keep you updated.

 

Like I said in the beginning this is a sponsored post however, all the opinions are my own. You can check out this awesome company at

Salewa

Below are a few pics of the jacket and boots and some of the areas I took them. Till next time Happy Wandering my friends! ❤

 

The First Annual Take Your Daughter On A Hike!

This past October, Hike Like A Woman, held its first Take Your Daughter On a Hike. It was just a way to get women to take the next generation of women outside and hiking. I loved the idea. I set up an event near me for anyone who wanted to come. Now, I personal do not have any daughters. I was only blessed with sons. I do however, have nieces, a beautiful daughter-in-law, aunts, a mother, and a mother-in-law. You see you don’t need a daughter to participate in this event. You could just bring a friend with you. In fact, my niece was going to bring her doggie daughter to the hike.

Take Your Daughter on a Hike
On the Saturday of the event, I was in Houston, Texas for my cousin’s memorial service. I wanted to choose a trail close to where I was staying at my uncle’s house in Cypress. The trail I chose was the Little Cypress Creek Preserve Trail. It is usually well maintained. I believe the Boy Scouts help to maintain this trail. People use it for hiking, biking, and running. It is dog friendly but a leash is required. I went on this trail less than a month after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Texas. My uncle had warned me of possible washed out spots on the trail and snakes. There had been more sightings of snakes after the hurricane. With the warnings heeded, I set out on the trail. I only saw a few spots where you could see just how high the waters had gotten in that area. All in all, it was a nice hike and not too difficult. The only wildlife I encountered was a few deer, some squirrels and birds.
The event was such a success across the country that Hike Like A Woman has decided to do it annually. It will be the third Saturday in October. I love how Hike Like A Woman is taking the initiative to encourage and raise up our next generation in the outdoors. To get out and enjoy nature. I hope you will join us next year. For more information, about our events/hikes near you check out the website: Hike Like A Woman

On a personal note, I wanted to tell my readers that I will have new stories, trails, or reviews every Tuesday and Thursday. Till next time, Happy Wandering, My Friends! ❤

 

Hiking Solo? What?!?! How to be safe.

If you have read anything from this blog, you know I love to hike. I love to be in nature. Just out on the trail so I can let all my stress melt away! With that said there is something I have wanted to do but, have had some reservation about……..Hiking SOLO!! I have wanted to try it ever since I got back into hiking. But, my family and friends always acted like I grew three heads whenever I mentioned it. “What about bears?”, What if you get stung?” “What if someone attacks you?” What if… What if…!! UGH!

They mean well. They also have reason to be a little worried. At age 26, I had open heart surgery. I have a mechanical mitral valve. I have to be on a blood thinner called Coumadin for the rest of my life. This keeps my blood thin enough to go through the valve. However, it can also cause bleeding problems. I have Scoliosis and at age 12 had a Harrington Rod put in. I  have a severe allergy to stinging insects such as bees, wasps, and hornets. I am so allergic that I have to carry an Epi-Pen with me. I also have a condition called Horner’s Syndrome. It happened when I was in the hospital for my heart surgery. Among other things it causes my right pupil to not dilate like it is should when exposed to light. To say I am a miracle is an understatement! I am very blessed.

If you are a woman and have ever thought about hiking solo you know where I am coming from. Society has put a sigma on us as women thinking it would be crazy for us to hike solo. To me I feel safer (and probably am) in the woods than in a city walking down the street. With this said let me tell you a little story.

The day before I made my solo trip I went to an outdoor store in the mall to pick up my new backpacking stove. On the way out of the mall in the middle by some little cart store  a man called out to me. He asked me something about skin care and I was just trying to politely decline and move on with my bag. He grabbed my bag! And was trying to look in it and asking a million questions. In that moment,  I felt more on edge than I have ever felt when walking on the trails solo. What happened with the man? I jerked my bag out of his hands and said, “Excuse me!” He must have read it on my face that I had enough cause he told me to have a good day and backed off! However, it did put me a little on edge and made me second guess if I really should go on my solo trip. So, for all of you women out there who have thought about hiking solo, I have put together some tips. With these tips, I have put some articles that also help with the whole women hiking solo!

1. Be prepared! Have maps of where you are going and plan your equipment, food, clothes, etc.                                                                                                                                                  Here is an article from Backpacker magazine: https://www.backpacker.com/skills/7-tips-from-female-solo-hikers

2. Tell someone. This is a must for any hiker. Always make sure someone knows where you are going.                                                                                                                                  Here is a post from Barefoot Theory that talks about getting over your fears and has some great tips: https://bearfoottheory.com/hiking-alone/

3. Know when to say enough! You have to know your own limits or when to call it a day or a trip.                                                                                                                                            Here is a post from REI. It is about the benefits of hiking alone: https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/benefits-hiking-alone

4. Last follow your gut and have fun! Enjoy what you are doing but, always be aware of your surroundings and use your instincts. Here is an article from Right Kind of Lost. She has several posts about solo hiking on her blog. http://www.rightkindoflost.com/solo-hiking-tips-for-your-safety/

Oh, and about my solo trip! It was so amazing! I overcame my fear of doing it alone and proved to my family, friends, and myself that I can! Here are some pictures from my trip. I stayed at De Gray Lake State Park in Arkansas. I took trails there and at Lake Catherine State Park. Hope you enjoy the pics till next time….keep Wandering! ❤

 

Hiking is My Therapy

Ever had one of those times where you thought that if you didn’t soon get outdoors you would probably just lose it? Yeah! I was having one those times. I had not been on the trails for what seemed like a month. I was going crazy. I just had to get away. Life was just making me feel like I was drowning. Drowning with demands, deadlines, responsibilities, and on and on. Then it happened…. I had a break in my schedule.

 

I decided to just go for it. Get back to the trails. The mountains were calling and I HAD to go! I had to go for me. To get back to my right self. That is what the trails do for me. It helps me calm down. Calm that anxiety of life that sometimes feel like it is going to overtake me.

 

I had been wanting to do this one trail for a very long time. Ever since I saw it online I knew I wanted to do it. It is close to Deer, Arkansas. It is Whitaker Point Trail or Hawksbill Craig. It has this rock that protrudes out of the mountain that looks like the head of a hawk.

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Some fun facts about this place is it was listed as one of the “Best Places in Arkansas to Get Kissed” according to a travel article. Disney also filmed the opening to “Tuck Everlasting” here.

 

It is one of those well trafficked trails in Arkansas but I had to see it for myself. It is about seven hours from where I live in Louisiana to get to this place. I talked a friend in to going with me and we drove from early morning to about six that evening to get to one of the campsites at Buffalo National River. We camped out that night and got up early the next morning to set out on some trails.

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We did a couple of trails around the area that we camped in. One was Villines Homestead Trail. It is a small trail that leads to an old homestead. It was very interesting to see how things were set up and how they lived in the past. It also had information boards by each structure to help tell the story of the homestead. On our way to the homestead trail we saw a herd of elk. I love to see wildlife when on the trails. Always keeping in mind that this is their home and watching from a safe distance.

We also did another short trail by this one called Lost Valley Trail. It had a waterfall at the end. It wasn’t a big waterfall when we went because of lack of rainfall. It also had a cave that was close to the waterfall that you could go into and explore. It was a nice hike and interesting landscape and history.

 

Then, it was time for the trail that I had come all this way to do. The drive up there was something. It was almost straight up and was a gravel road. It is about seven miles up to the trailhead. When we got there, we were not the only ones of course. Like I said before this is a well visited trail. I didn’t care I had to see this site and trail for myself.

 

We set out on the trail. It is listed as moderate on AllTrails. Yes! It was all that. If you don’t hike very often keep in mind this will probably be a hard trail for you. Was it worth it? YES!!! The overlooks of the mountains beyond and the beginning of the fall colors was worth the trip alone.

 

I did finally get my picture on the rock. I did have people around me but I didn’t care! I did get to take a picture of the rock with no one on it on the way back down the trail. This trail is an in and out trail. It does not make a loop.

 

The big question…. Was it worth it? YES! I just wish I had had longer so I could have done the other trails around this area. I will be back! As for did it help me get back to myself? Yes, Nature never disappoints. Helps me slow down and enjoy the here and now. To remember, that there is beauty all around us all we must do is stop and look around. That tomorrow is not promised. All we have is the now. Till next time Happy Wandering, my friends!

Deodorant What !?!?!?!

Deodorant! Yes, today I am going to talk to you about deodorant. One of those things that not many of us discuss. It is something we all (hopefully) use! Now, I know there are lots of brands on the market. You have natural ones and the ones that contain Aluminum. I was looking for one that did NOT contain Aluminum. You see my mom is a breast cancer survivor. When she got diagnosed with breast cancer one of the first things that the doctor told her to do was stop using deodorants that contained Aluminum.

I wanted to stop using these types before my mom was diagnosed because of the harmful affects of Aluminum on the body. I have used several natural ones with no avail. I am a Pre-K teacher, hiker, and fitness nut. Let’s just say I sweat A LOT!!! With that said, the ones I have tried would leave me in not so good situations. You know the hold your nose situations. Not good!! So, I went back to using ones that contained Aluminum. I just kept hoping that I would find one that would keep me from smelling like I forgot to bath for a couple of days.

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Then, one day I came across this deodorant that was featured on Shark Tank called Piper-Wai. It contained NO aluminum. I was like well nothing else I have tried has worked what would make this one any different. I read more about it and found out it had activated charcoal in it. So, I thought what the heck and ordered it. I was excited but skeptical if it actually working. When I got it in I put it to the test. I wore it to work the next day.  I work from 6 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon with 3 and 4 year olds. Then, I work out for 30 to 45 minutes after that. I also walk 2.5 miles after I work out. Drumroll…. The deodorant …. It worked!! It really worked!! Now, with other natural aluminum free deodorants there is a transition period. During this transition period, you must reapply OFTEN! There was none of this. I put it on one time and Bam that’s it! To say I love this product is an understatement! I love the fact that I can wear this product, it works, and there is no harmful aluminum in it! It is a win, win!

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It comes in a jar and you use just a pea size amount under each armpit. They just now came out with a stick version. It looks just like the deodorant you buy in the store. I personally use the jar just because that is what I tried and I liked it and just stuck with it. So, there are only a few stores that carry this amazing product. None of the stores are even close to me. I order mine online! I even have it on auto shipment. The link below is where you can buy it. This link will get you 15% off your order. Now, did I get paid to do this review? NO! I just really love this product and want to share about it! I hope you will give this amazing product a try. Let me know how you like it. The link to order and check it out is: http://piperwai.refr.cc/mhtsmith2021

 

Till next time Happy Wandering my friends!

 

 

 

So..You have questions about Hiking?

So, you have questions about hiking? I know when I first started hiking I had lots of questions!! How do I pack my pack better? What pack should I get? What type of food should I bring? What about water? On and on and on! Ugh!! Well, you are in luck!

Remember, how I told you I started this new adventure as a Hike Like A Woman Ambassador? It just so happens that we have this new challenge coming up called, “30 Days To Better Hiking Challenge.” It starts October 1st and lasts 30 days! Each day you will get some of our best hiking advice on some of the common problems or questions people ask about hiking. Oh, and yours truly will be teaching on one of these days! 😉

Oh wait! There is more! Not only do you get all this cool knowledge but we have some awesome prizes to give away. Also, Part of the money from the challenge will go to one of our favorite charities, Gear Forward! So, what are you waiting for? This is a win win opportunity!

To learn more go to: https://hikelikeawoman.net/30daystobetterhiking/                                To register go to: https://www.helpyouexplore.com/produ…/30-days-better-hiking/

I hope to see you in the challenge! Till next time…Happy Wandering!

 

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My Next Great Adventure As An Ambassador!

I was going to write today about one of the trails I hiked this summer. However, I just couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about my next great adventure as an ambassador! I received an email telling me that 20 other women and I were chosen out of over 200 applicants to be the new 2017-2018 Hike Like A Woman Ambassadors! Excited? Lets just say I might have screamed and jumped up and down! 😉

I have had question wondering exactly what this was and what it means. Hike Like A Woman was founded by Rebecca Walsh. She started it as a place where women of all ages, all walks of life, etc. could come together. We encourage each other and others, help other women to get outdoors, among other things. At this time, we offer an online community, a blog, a podcast, a digital magazine, and we host two online classes; The Outdoor School and the Outdoor Mom Academy. We not only want to empower women to get outside we want them to have the skills to do it too.

This community has meant so much to me in such a short time. I have friends who I talk to on here that I have yet to meet in person. (But, soon will!! ;)) There are more excited things in the books for us in the near future. So, stay tuned to see all the cool things that are about to happen! Oh and as always remember All who wander are not lost! Don’t forget to wander this week!

**You can find out more about Hike Like A Woman at http://www.hikelikeawoman.net . Also, check out the podcast, Hike Like A Woman!

Hike Like A Woman

Sugar Cane Trail

The first trail I did this year was in April, The Sugar Cane Trail in the Kisatchie National Forest near Minden, Louisiana. According to Alltrails App,  it is rated Easy and is 6.4 miles. When my friend and I recorded our trek we went 6.2 miles. It was pretty easy. Have to watch out for markers sometimes they are a little hidden. One we saw even had the tree growing over it. (Pic below) We saw a lot of different insects and one snake. This trail is also for bikers too. So, watch out for them. One almost collided into me. He had the right of way, I just can not hear well and didn’t hear him coming at first. It is beautiful. It crosses Caney Lake which was cool.

One big warning: WEAR BUG SPRAY or treat your clothes with Permethrin. We did get some Ticks. The main reason being is my friend is new to hiking and I made a rookie mistake. 😐 I forgot to spray us down with Off before we started to hike! Yeah! I know big mistake. Luckily even though we had a few ticks she said she would try hiking again! I of course promised her I would make sure to spray us next time. So, here is some pics from that hike! Till my next adventure, get outside and wander! 😉