#SixPackofPeaks - San Jacinto

Wow! I can't believe this is peak 5 of 6 - this last year has flown by so fast, with so many changes and different things happening. As I was looking through my photos for this hike, I noticed I had so many more, and so many more I actually liked. As such a stark contrast to the hike up San Bernardino, I absolutely loved San Jacinto. Not only for the journey, but for the views at the top. Maybe that's the key for my photos? :)


Isn't that one of the keys of life, in general? Finding something you love and feeling good at it? I can remember back to classes in school and being good at the ones I actually found interesting. I always loved my art classes, the only issue I remember struggling with sometimes was finding inspiration. As I grew up, I became more aware of this and thankfully found ways to inspire myself.

I also loooved Calculus. Anyone else? Many people complain about Math, but there's something fun in the puzzle of it all. Fun fact: I thought about architecture as an option for a career path back in high school. Ended up as a graphic designer - but couldn’t be happier!


Maybe that's it, the exploration - whether it's an equation, playing with a new medium, or navigating a trail. Maybe that's where I find my joy.

What about you? Anything that gets you jazzed? Floats your boat? It's so important to find something you love doing that brings you joy - and keep it up!


Too often in life, we get wrapped up in things we "need" to do - whether its work or taking care of children/partners - I see it all the time. I learned the phrase 'brings you joy' from an older coworker a few years ago. It becomes so powerful when you discover what it is that actually brings you joy. Take 10 minutes a day, or maybe start with 10 minutes a week, and do that thing. 

I find myself reminding people to do what they want, as if that should be something to question. Yes, not always is this acceptable or the right thing to do. However, we’re constantly taught that as the end of the day, all we have is ourselves, so why not make sure that at the end of the day we’re our happy selves?

Clearly, one of my things to bing me joy is hiking and taking photos - where I am thankful I have a platform here to share my stories and to blab on about some other things!


Now I am sure you’d love to hear some about the hike! Like I mentioned above the trail for San Jacinto was beautiful, as well as the views from the top. We started at Marion Mountain - having a fairly steep first mile. Another way some have done this trail, is by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up and then to the peak. But we wanted to hike with the elevation.

Part of this trail connects with the Pacific Crest Trail - how cool! My hiking buddy was so excited to see people who were hiking the trail in its entirety, but we didn’t see anyone. I don’t think it’s on my bucket list to complete this, but maybe I’ll change my mind someday! I would like to read Wild and see the movie with Reese Witherspoon though.


There was a mix of terrain on the way up, which I loved. As you can see it makes great spots for photos!


A lot of the peaks I’ve been on have been fairly flat, but Jacinto was very rocky, which I also loved. It made it more fun to play around on and take in the top - and the view of San Gorgonio from across the way.

We ate our snacks and headed down - eager to be finished so that we’d be one peak away from finishing the challenge. 


Coming down is always bittersweet - the accomplishment of making it to the top and also the desire to just be back at the car. Then home to relax and prepare for the next peak.


#SixPackofPeaks - San Bernardino

Of all six peaks in this challenge, I would have to say this hike was the most unpleasant.


Starting off - which was our fault - we had to get the permit the morning of at the ranger’s station. Having two busy schedules to make it work before the end of September, we didn’t have many other weekends to move the hike to.

So, we were sleeping in front of the ranger’s station at 5:30AM to make sure we were able to obtain one of the three permits given out on the day of. The ranger station opened at 7, which also put us at a later start time than we normally do. San Bernardino Peak is a longer hike, about 17 miles for us, and we wanted to start as early as possible in order to be finished and get home at a decent time. 

While we were waiting for the station to open, I checked their online calendar and it looked like the weekend we had planned on hiking the last peak - San Gorgonio - was all booked up for permits. Talking to the ranger while securing our Bernardino permit, I asked if they had any openings for Gorgonio - at this time it was still required. BY AN AMAZING CHANCE, someone had cancelled and there was one permit open for the day we wanted during Labor Day weekend. Someone was looking out for us.


After getting both permits, we headed to the trail head through Angelus Oaks and started up San Bernardino.


As a lover of plants - indoor and outdoor - the landscape of the San Bernardino Forest is beautiful. One thing I do love about hiking is seeing all the different wildlife and plants along the trail - colors and shapes can vary everywhere, even just in different areas of Southern California!


One particular bush I was not fond of had SO MANY BEES. I have a really hard time with insects & bugs, particularly those that fly. This has always been an issue for me, since I was a toddler (as I am told). At home, when I have to kill something larger than a dime, sometimes I stress myself out so much I see black spots and feel like I might pass out. I know, I should really get a hold on this.

I also feel like I have been stung more often than the average person. As a child, my best friend’s home had a lot of wasp nests - terrifying. I was stung once by just walking outside while my parents were landscaping. Those are just a couple. It’s not just the fear of being stung, but also the buzzing noise really eats away at me.

Anyways, these bushes were everywhere. As we would walk through them I would hurry by and not pay attention, since they were relatively short bushes. HOWEVER, we reached a patch in the lower forest where the bushes went over my head and the trail narrowed.

I have never experienced a more real panic attack in my life. 


I tried to go around the bushes, didn’t want to go off trail and step on a snake. So, I went back and just stood there, staring at the bushes. Ultimately, I knew I couldn’t go through so I ended up running as fast as I could around them. As soon as I hit the trail on the other side, I kept running, trying to control my breathing and sobs.

You may think I am exaggerating, or tell me, ‘They’re just bugs, you need to calm down.’ You may not understand what that felt like in my body or my mind, and I don’t expect you to. But, don’t you dare tell me to calm down.

As humans, we all have our own fears and anxieties that we struggle with - whether it’s every once and a while or everyday. Another thing that makes us human. 


Once I got passed that point, everything was okay. We made it to the top, and because it was later than we normally summit, we took our photos, snacked some, and started back down.

One of my favorite things about the top of San Bernardino was the box of notes and polaroids from those who had reached the peak before. I love seeing how many others had made it to the top, left their mark and encouraging words, and how far back some of the notes were dated.


Another lesson from this (wonderful) hike - don’t ever underestimate your water supply. My friend was down to the last drop and I know I could’ve used more along the route back.

As a late birthday gift, I was given a Sawyer Water Filtration System - so if there’s an emergency or I don’t want to carry as much water (and I know there’s substantial water supply on the hike) I can always bring this! Can’t wait to try it out! :)

Six Pack of Peaks, San Bernardino - (barely) conquered! 


#SixPackofPeaks - Mount Baldy

As much as this is a post dedicated to climbing Mt. Baldy, it’s also about how sometimes life gets crazy - because we all know it can, right?


As many of you know, since the time of my last post (I know, a long freaking time), I have accepted a new job, in a new town, and am living somewhere new as well. In short, my last job was not for me. I am a graphic designer and was working at a women’s swimwear retailer/manufacturer. Not only was I not under the management I wanted, I wasn't working in a healthy atmosphere.

There are so many campaigns out there these days, glorifying all body shapes and sizes and telling everyone, “you’re beautiful the way you are.” In women’s swimwear, there seems to be very few companies that actually walk the walk, in appreciating all body types. There was also a glorification of models, which I have never really agreed with. The same way I see actors & celebrities, I see models - they’re just people. I tend to think fairly highly of myself, so I was actually surprised the toll that it was taking on my pysche. In meetings, there would be talk about what models to use - sometimes for brand right purposes, but then there would always be opinions about how they looked or how big their thighs were. I needed out.


I was very lucky to end up at an amazing retailer up in Santa Barbara where all my concerns were zapped away. Content, management, direction, literally everything was a turnaround towards a positive direction.

I will tell you that it took some time. I have nobody but my parents to thank to the moon for supporting my job search and kept nagging at me to be patient. I think that’s what made my jump so worth it - I took the time and found something I knew I would love.

So here we are! As of last week, I have completed the #SixPackofPeaks Challenge for 2017. I still want to share my individual climbs and photos with you all, so bear with me.

Mt. Baldy, or San Antonio, is such a popular hike. I have always heard about it, but had never actually climbed it or planned on climbing it until this challenge. My friend who hikes with me, Kevin, did the climb back in college. 

We started our climb at Manker Flats - up past the ski lift and to the lodge. It seems like a pretty cool place to take the lift up some day and grab a drink at the bar. If I wasn’t concerned about getting to the top, I probably would’ve had a beer. Another time (I hear there’s usually a Groupon too)!


I think we learned by this hike to stop saying “Oh, I think we’ve got to be close,” because it never really seemed like we were close.

After hitting the lodge, the path up was incredibly steep. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an incline. Maybe it looked worse as well, since it was very open and just, UP!


A few of my favorite areas of this hike were the backbone and the openness just after where the trees made a nice frame.


Closer to the top, the wind was gnarly! I ended up having to wrap my long sleeve t-shirt around my head just to save my ears from the wind. I was a sight!


Luckily once you get to the top, they have built rock formations for you to sit in and get out of the wind to relax and eat your snacks. Kevin and I actually both took a little snooze in one of these formations before heading down through the Baldy Bowl.


On our way down, we had a few people pass us, most noticeably a two men with two (beautiful) dogs. When we reached the hut (I think it’s just an emergency hut) we noticed one of the dogs pacing back and forth. Nobody around us seemed to think it was weird, but we didn’t like the looks and so we asked around and found out that the dog had been there, alone, for about 20 minutes.

Being animal lovers, we couldn't leave the pup so we tried to coax her down but she didn’t know if it was okay to trust us. After her howling and waiting down the trail, a group came up and a nice lady had cooked chicken. We used it to have her follow us until we finally ran into her owner. How sad! It was annoying to see someone just leave their dog behind on the trail for so long. I understood that she had been on the mountain before, but she was clearly distressed and nobody else around us seemed to care.

Lesson: take care of your animals!


The rest of the hike down was a breeze. It was nice to have a loop trail for different scenery. We headed home to relax and plan Peak #4.


After the hike, I always post my hikes on social media, to join the community and talk with others and because it is an accomplishment I love to share! When I posted a photo of myself at the top of Baldy, I was surprised to get a comment from someone who saw me about how I didn’t look too happy on the way up.

This bothered me probably more than it should. Yes, climbing a mountain isn’t easy. No, I don’t show photos of me distressed or in the middle of a climb. I struggle too, but why comment about that? We’re all happy to make it to the top of anything - a hill, a mountain, whatever it is - and we should be applauding others, knowing that it may have been a struggle or not!

Back to the judgement of others from work to the outdoors. We’re all out here, doing us, and doing our best to achieve what we wish to achieve. Our bodies are just that, our bodies. Social media is usually the best of our worlds, and I think that is a known fact. There is no room for judgement on what people decide to post or share - achievement or struggle. We’re all human.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on San Bernardino - yikes! Thank you for staying with me through life and change.

#SixPackofPeaks - Cucamonga Peak

Sometimes I ask myself - why do I even like to hike? That question popped into my head at the beginning of this hike, thinking about the incline and mileage up to the top of Cucamonga. 

So why do I? If you think about it, it really is just walking, following a trail someone set before you to get to another place and then back down again. It doesn't seem like it would be rewarding - just walking? 

When I asked the question to my friend, he said, "Wait until we get to the top, then you'll remember why." That is SO incredibly accurate. It's pretty funny how we go about our lives just doing things we think we should be doing, or planning activities (like hiking) and never really stopping to think, why?

Despite my initial skepticism about climbing to Cucamonga Peak, I went on, and was SO glad I did.

We started a little later than we normally do - around 7:30 - at the trailhead for Icehouse Saddle. This was the trail we took - here. I have hiked to Icehouse Saddle before, but never continued up to Cucamonga. It is a fairly covered trail, beginning in the forest, but as you get up past the saddle, it's a lot more open - so bring sunscreen!

On our last #SixPackofPeaks hike - Mount Wilson - my left hip was giving me a really hard time. It had hurt a while ago, climbing Santiago Peak, but not since then, so I was surprised when it started bothering me again. I went to the doctor, had an X-Ray, and they came up with nothing! Based on some sage advice from my parents, I went to The Walking Company and bought inserts for my hiking boots. They DEFINITELY made a difference! I didn't feel a thing in my hip on this hike.

While talking to my doctor about the pain, she made a comment to me about how some people just can't do everything. She eluded to me possibly giving up hiking. EXCUSE ME, WHAT!? I wasn't going to have that, so I made sure I found a way to continue, without pain. So, hopefully this is a permanent solution! :)

After reaching the saddle and having a snack, we set up for the Peak (sign above is from the saddle).

We had planned on doing this hike back in early May, but heard there was still ice and snow in some areas. As we hiked up, there were some areas that would have been very scary with ice - accompanied with a long fall down.

Besides the rewarding views and feeling of accomplishment, another one of my favorite things about hiking is the people you meet along the way. Going up a hefty incline, you're bound to pass others a few times, and let them pass you! Maybe it will spark a conversation when you both stop for water at that perfect, shady spot. 

We had a few people we were able to connect with - talking about other hikes we'd done or sharing the #SixPackofPeaks Challenge we were hoping to complete in the year. At the top too, you talk so much with others, taking photos, taking other people's photos. It's always so much fun to be around others who are experiencing and enjoying the same thing you are!

and WE MADE IT! In life and in hiking, even if you want to turn back, or you don't think you can do it, KEEP GOING. Don't ever doubt your ability to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. All it takes is one step at a time. 

Peak #2 DONE. Stay tuned for #3 - Mt. San Antonio (Baldy)!

#NationalParkGeek - Anacapa Island

Channel Islands National Park. Honestly, for the day I felt like I was in Ireland.

A friend and I decided a few months ago we wanted to see the Channel Islands (off the coast of Ventura/Santa Barbara), starting with the smallest first - Anacapa Island. We took the boat, operated by Island Packers out of Oxnard/Channel Islands Harbor. 

When we arrived, the parking was a little confusing - 3 hour parking limit signs, but apparently it's not enforced (my car was still there, no ticket, when we got back). Upon checking in, they told us there was a possibility we wouldn't be able to get off the boat. This was a little disheartening, having driven from Orange County - we wanted to get on the island! 

Our reservation was scheduled for 9:30AM - and left right on time. The boat was actually smaller than I thought, smaller than the Catalina Flyer, if you've ever seen that one! Once everyone was on, luggage, gear and all, we took off!

I absolutely LOVE being on a boat. I feel so free and alive - sometimes more so than when I am outside hiking or dancing on the beach. I feel so CREATIVE when I am on water. Maybe, I should just make and create on a sailboat - that seems like a happy medium? Right?

So, like I mentioned, we didn't know if we were actually going to make it off the boat. About halfway (the trip is an hour) we saw a WHALE! A Fin Whale to be exact - apparently the 2nd largest species of mammals. He swam around and underneath the boat. Thank goodness for the clarity of the water, because we were able to see him so clearly. I was right on the edge, not even pulling out my phone for pictures, afraid I might miss something and staring in complete awe. Well, I think he blessed our boat and the weather. 30 minutes and 157 stairs later, we were off the boat and on top of Anacapa.

When you book the tickets, you can either come back the same day or camp! We were only going for the day, so we had to be back at the dock at 3PM. Now, 1030AM - 3PM seemed so short to me! However, Anacapa is the smallest and with just hiking the island, that is plenty of time.

I saw that there was a possibility of kayaking around Anacapa and seeing the sea caves. I called Santa Barbara Adventure Company (so incredibly helpful and kind) to check on it and ended up deciding against it. If you're very comfortable with sea kayaking - this might be for you! But without a guide, I wasn't sure I wanted my kayak hitting the sides of a cliff island.

So, we just opted to hike and picnic for the day.

The first photo above was Cathedral Point. The edges were roped off due to some deteriorating cliffs, but we were able to get close enough to see some beauty. 

Our guide for the island informed us also that it was 'Gull Season.' We had a welcoming committee of SEAGULLS - I am not a bird person. Luckily, they were pretty sweet birds and only got crazy if you came close to their nests. Some of the birds laid their eggs close to the trail, so when you passed, if they started squawking, all you had to do was put your hand in a fist over your head and they would stop. See the white dots in the photos above and below? Those are alllllll seagulls. Only slightly terrifying.

The main star of Anacapa - what you probably see photos of the most, is Inspiration Point. The tip of the island that looks out over the other islands of Anacapa and Santa Cruz. We hit this spot twice because it was just too beautiful and one look was not enough.

I MEAN LOOK AT THAT?! Isn't it incredible? 

We stopped about halfway through our trip along the west part of the trail, where you can see the sea lions below lazing, to have our picnic. A very fancy picnic I might add.

It was awesome to sit down and admire being completely surrounded by the ocean. The island is so small so wherever you are, you have a clear view.

After walking the whole island - the best parts twice - we were ready and prepared to get back on the boat and head home. We couldn't have asked for perfect weather on our day trip - although poor sunscreen application gave me a lovely shaped sunburn on my left arm. Don't forget your sunscreen! Oh, and water - since there are no facilities on the island.

Make the time to visit Anacapa. If you live in California, it is so incredibly easy! Just book a trip with IslandPackers and GET EXCITED. I promise it feels like you're in a whole new world for the day - and that's refreshing and amazing for anyone. Enjoy the Earth!

Desert Daze

Without living in California, I don't know if I'd ever appreciate the beauty of the desert as much as I do now. Growing up when I thought of the desert, I pictured the Sahara - photos I'd seen in my textbooks from Elementary school. A vast canvas of pinks, oranges & creams; camels creating shadows on the untouched sand. I am sure you've seen a lot of these photos as well. 

The desert in California has it's fair share of sand dunes - some of which in Death Valley & down south in Glamis - I hope to venture to soon. But, there's something magical about actually experiencing the desert - the still sound, the way the sun hits the surrounding hills - it's beautiful.

There are a million ways to get lost of course, but luckily service can be found. Taking the dirt roads instead of the paved - appreciating the journey, right?

A friend and I journeyed down to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park a few weekends ago to check out what was left of the #Superbloom. If you're unsure of what I mean by the Superbloom, here's some background. California has been in a severe drought for a few years now. Since I have lived here, I only remember short spurts of rain. Without rain, flowers have a hard time blooming. Thankfully, we got buckets this year - allowing beauty to sprout and thrive in places it hasn't recently. Thus, the Superbloom. I saw some California Poppy's in Lake Elsinore back in March - but desert flowers are a bit different.

Sadly, we missed a lot of the blooms - but there was still a lot to see!

We got there and knew what we were looking for, but didn't exactly know where to look. Behold the Visitor's Center - filled with great people and lots of information. They were such a blessing - detailed directions and maps to help us explore.

Located in Borrego Springs, the Visitor's Center wasn't the only shining light. We had lunch at a great Mexican joint - Jalisco's - which I think might be a chain? Mexican food in California is always bomb - so we knew we could trust this joint. 

As I love the harmony of art and landscape, one of the biggest attractions in this area were the metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda. There are all sorts of different animals/creatures scattered around - mammoths, a sea serpent, a scorpion & grasshopper, camels, etc. My favorites were the scorpion/grasshopper & the sea serpent. Here's some more information and other photos as well if you're interested in some history!

I definitely want to make it back out to Anza-Borrego to hit some trails and capture views of the badlands. Maybe stop at Julian on the way home for their infamous apple pies!

If you're anywhere near a desert - check it out. Honestly, there is something magical out in the vast open space. 

#SixPackofPeaks - Mount Wilson

Hello all my hikers! or even those who aren't hikers but enjoy the views :) For 2017, I signed up to complete the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge! For those of you who have never heard of this, it's a challenge to climb six peaks of Southern California. It was originally created by SoCalHiker to conquer the John Muir Trail - but others have also used it to prepare for Mount Whitney. I plan on hiking Whitney someday, but for right now, I am just going to hit these 6 peaks.

Up first - Mount Wilson!

The start of this trail was very familiar - as I hiked Sturtevant Falls a couple months ago! At the beginning of the trail has a fairly steep downhill grade and knowing I was about to have a long hike ahead of me, I already was not looking forward to the uphill on the way back.

The difference for us on this hike, besides the mileage, was that we took the trail to the left to the Top of the Falls that lead up to Mount Wilson. There isn't too much to say about this trail, besides to make sure you're prepared. We started at 6 AM and finished around 3:15 PM - so start early!

Along this trail we hit Sturtevant Camp. Apparently, it was a pretty bustling place back in the day - people were brought in to stay in the cabins and enjoy the outdoors. Today, from what I could tell, you do have to hike a ways to it, but it looks well worth it! Even a 'Honeymoon Cottage' for those hiking sweethearts.

Stopping here was a nice break - stop and swing, relax a bit - before continuing on to the peak.

We were sooo ready to hit the peak at this point. You know when you just want to get to your final destination? That impatience is so real! When your body is getting heavy and your legs are starting to get tight, it's definitely hard to enjoy the journey. I think we can all agree that that exists in all aspects of our lives - not just in hiking. We all want the end result - may it be peaks, valleys or whatnot. 

When we made it to the top, there were absolutely beautiful views. Sometimes these are hard to capture in a photo - but that's why you should definitely aim to summit Wilson on your own someday. It was very cold off and on - luckily the Cosmic Cafe was open and we snacked on some of their hot items as well as our own trail mixes.

What I didn't know was that Mount Wilson has an observatory - that you can drive up to! I looovveee space and the earth and all that jazz, so I definitely want to come back to look through these massive telescopes. If I remember correctly, some of our closest photos of Mars come from this observatory!

Also a 'DON'T MISS' spot: Echo Rock! We walked right past it! I was looking and asking around for this fence (above) to grab a photo - we walked the top of the mountain I think twice, back and forth, until we found it and the name is real! Stand at the edge of the fence and yell out - you'll definitely hear back your echo - so fun! The clouds were coming in, so our view was slightly obstructed, but still beautiful. 

There are several ways to get back down to Chantry Flats - we took the route that was a mile longer but avoided that steep incline to the parking lot (thank goodness!). I believe it was the Upper Winter Creek Trail - very much recommended. 

Next on the list is Cucamonga Peak - hopefully without snow. Stay tuned for an update on Peak #2 :)

Sturtevant Falls - Angeles National Forest

With the recent rain in Southern California, all the local waterfalls are finally refreshed! Amazing, right? I couldn't miss an opportunity like this, so a friend and I went to check out one of many - Sturtevant Falls just NE of Pasadena.

This is my first post, so I'll use it to showcase my style and to educate about this hike. As a designer & artist, my brain works visually. My photos are intended to tell the story, while I add in helpful tips and key points that I would have liked to have known before taking the trek.
Something I have run into a few times in Southern California on hikes is the 'Adventure Pass.' Before this hike, I had never purchased one (oops!) but didn't want to chance the ticket this time.

An early morning, I was up before 5 AM - yes I can't believe it still - to drive about an hour to the parking lot. At 6:30 - the lot was FULL! Granted, this was a beautiful Saturday morning and the trailhead spread to a bunch of hikes.

We ended up having to park in one of the pull-offs on the way up to the parking lot instead of at the top. We made the mistake of going all the way up to the lot and coming back to find parking. A huge tip would be to buy the adventure pass at the top and then find parking - saves the walk up from the car twice.

A few years ago, for my birthday,I hiked (and jumped into the pools) Hermit Falls - it was definitely a lot of fun. I can't speak to the condition of the area now, but with more rain, I am sure there's more water! Just be safe, as always, if you're going to cliff jump. Mt. Wilson is on my list for this year as part of the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge!

The hike itself wasn't strenuous or long (my phone said about 5.4 miles total walking for us) - the hardest part for me was actually the very end. At the trailhead, it's a fairly steep downgrade, so once you're on the way back up to the parking lot, it's all uphill. Make sure you have water! If it's a hot day, which most days are here, you'll need it for this stretch especially.

I tend to seek out waterfall hikes and one of my favorite part of a lot of these hikes is following a stream - it's comforting. The sound of water feels safe - like if you were to get lost, you could always find your way back.


After roughly 2.5 miles we hit the main attraction - Sturtevant Falls! I always pack a ton of snacks and lots of water. It's nice to enjoy the waterfall for a while, rather than just coming and going.

Even when hikes aren't a loop, there's always so much to see that's different. On the way in, we noticed a few logs across the stream and planned on coming back to one of them to snap a few photos. On the way back, we totally missed them! We ended up backtracking slightly just to look for it, but it's so funny how the scene can be completely different from either direction.

Along the trail, there are a couple inspirational signs - like the one above. It's a nice reminder (especially after getting up before the sun) why you got outside or why you love the outdoors. Maybe you're not someone who relates to this, but I am sure it resonates with a few people out on the trails every day.

If you have any questions about this hike or any in the area - will your car make it up? If you're allergic to goats, should you go? - I am open to help answer those questions! I am learning how to share my photos with my love for hiking and traveling and if there's anything else that would be helpful, let me know!

Here are a few links I checked out before taking this hike: