Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Climbing Mt. Whitney: Clothing, gear and what's in my backpack

me in all my gear at the top of whitney

I love the what's in your backpack posts, so I thought I'd share mine for my recent climb of Mt. Whitney. Hopefully it will help any future climbers and also remind me what I need when I do it again in 2015. Note: Some of these links are affiliate links and I do get a tiny little commission if you click and buy the items from Amazon.

Clothing:
Wigwam Thermolite Cap (in the dark, easier to wear the headlight lamp and kept my ears warm)
Bears cap (during the day)
Rayovac Headlight Lamp (in the dark)
REI Lightweight Crew Shirt
Short sleeve T-Shirt bought in Lone Pine 50% cotton/50% polyester blend
Columbia Sportswear Zip Fleece Jacket
REI Sahara Convertible Pants
Champion Double Dry Distance Underwire Bra
Teko Women's M3RINO.XC Merino Wool Poly Blend Midweight Hiking Socks
Merrell Women's Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot (always get 1/2 size larger than your normal shoe size and use the lock-tight lacing technique)
REI Tech Compatible All Season Gloves
Flying Fisherman Maverick Polarized Sunglasses
ZANheadgear Hooligan Photochromic Sunglasses
Outdoor Products Apex Trekking Poles
Samsung Galaxy S4 Phone with Zerolemon Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini I9190 5100mah Extended Battery + Black TPU Gel Cover Case (gives me about a 4 day charge)

Outdoor Products Mist Hydration Pack
Inside the Backpack:
Source Outdoors WXP B3 Hydration Reservoir System (Transparent Blue, 3 Litres)
Repel 94101 6-Ounce Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent 40-Percent DEET Pump Spray (didn't need)
Bear Spray-SABRE RED Pepper Spray - Police Strength - Runner with Hand Strap (thankfully didn't need)
3 water bottles with Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Drink Mix
Extra pair of Thorlo Women's Wool/Silk Moderate Cushion Light Hiker Crew Sock
Kind Almond & Coconut Bars (3)
Planters Pistachio Blend repackaged into 3 - 2 oz size bags
Clear Eyes All Season Outdoor Dry Eye Protection
My feet were pretty tore up from my training hikes, so I had 4 kinds of blister protection:
Moleskin cut into smaller pieces
Spenco 2nd Skin Adhesive Knit Sports
Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, Advanced Healing Blister Cushions
Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, Tough-Strips, Extra Large
Banana Boat Sport Performance Quik Dri SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray (which I forgot to use, since I started in the dark and it was cold up there, so I had a very sunburned face)
Vaseline Lip Therapy Advanced .35 oz
Kleenex® 3-Ply Pocket Packs Facial Tissues (for my endless runny nose)
Ibuprofen
AB hand sanitizer
Extra rubber band for my hair
Fingernail file
Map (you can buy one when you pick up your permit, the trail was clearly marked and I didn't need it)
Hiking Permit
Wag Bag (they give you one free when you pick up your permit)
4 or 5 Personal Wipes
2 Empty Ziploc Bags

What I should have brought:
Extra batteries for my headlight lamp. At the end of the hike in the pitch dark, I kept thinking what would I do if my headlight lamp went out? You cannot see the trail (or bears) without it and I'd be hopelessly stuck. I could use my cell phone flashlight in a pinch, but extra batteries are a better solution.
Balaclava: My face was very wind and sunburned, add in a perpetually runny nose and I would have killed for one of these. About 50% of the climbers were wearing them.

As you can see, it takes alot of preparation and planning to climb Mt. Whitney. If you have any questions, comments or see something to add, let me know, I'd love to hear from you!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Holiday Giveaway - 5 winners to receive $50 in rewards points!


Enter to win $50 in rewards points, redeemable on somethinspecial.com. I want to help you get a little holiday shopping done! Just enter your info in the Rafflecopter entry form below. You can enter 5 ways, follow on Twitter, like the Somethin' Special Facebook page, comment on this blog post, tweet about the giveaway or subscribe to my somethinspecial.com mailing list. Or do all 5! Just log into the entry form using your Facebook login or simply enter your name and email address to choose your entry options.

*NOTE* If you do post a comment, it won't show up right away, I need to approve them first, so please only post it once!!

Everyone worldwide is eligible. 5 winners will receive 5000 rewards points which equals $50 USD. Rewards points can only be used to purchase items from the somethinspecial.com web site. To be awarded the points, you must have an existing account or create an account on the somethinspecial.com web site. Good luck!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

I climbed Mount Whitney. Unbelievable.

I'm not even sure when the idea got into my mind, but once it was there, it stuck. I kept thinking "I want to climb Mt. Whitney" over and over until one day in June 2014 I bought a climbing permit for September 30th. My thoughts were "this is only $21, I can always change my mind". In June and July, I found myself finding ways to take longer hikes, subconsciously starting to train for Whitney. In the beginning of August, I made the choice to start training for Whitney. And that's when I knew I would really do it.

On September 1st I booked a room at the beautiful Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine, CA.
I hit the road on September 29th, set the GPS for Lone Pine and I was on my way. First stop, the ranger station to pick up my climbing permit. Myself and 50 other brave souls had permits for the day (they only issue 100 per day).
Then headed to the trailhead to check it out. It's about a 20 min. drive from Lone Pine.
Checked into my hotel, set the alarm for 2:30 am and couldn't sleep. Was overcome with excitement, terror and confidence, so I knew I was on the right track. Hit the Whitney Portal trailhead at 4 am (after a brief bear sighting by the recycling dumpsters) and started climbing in absolute darkness with only my headlight lamp to guide the way. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing the stars looked. Occasionally I'd stop, switch off  my headlight and just gaze at them. Spectacular. Sunrise finally came around 6:30 am.

I was finally able to look around and drink in the beauty of this place. I hadn't seen many people on the trail, but it is an 11 mile stretch and all the hikers were pretty well spread out. A group of 4 from Oceanside, CA passed me up and we did some friendly hiking chit chat. I love meeting other hikers on the trail and hearing their origin stories. Everyone is always happy to be there.
 Did see this critter. Was not even a little afraid of me.
Finally, at around 12,000', I hit the dreaded 99 switchbacks. And they were covered with snow from Sunday night. The permit ranger told me I wouldn't need my micro-spikes and I silently questioned his advice. A few people had turned back and didn't want to chance it, but I came so far, I had good Merrell boots and trekking poles, so I powered on up. Brutal. Loved it.

I frequently stopped to catch my breath and adjust to the elevation, I was feeling a bit sick and dizzy, but slowed it down and drank water. Another hiker told me about Diamox, you can get your doctor to prescribe it and you take it before and the day of the hike. Oh well, next time. Had lots of stops to take in the views.

I finally hit the saddle at Trail Crest at 13,600' and could see the west.
Now onto the summit. Breath, hike, rest, drink, repeat. I finally hit the summit at 2:18 pm, it took me 10 hours and 18 mins to climb Whitney. I can't even tell you how amazing it was to see the iconic shack and have my fellow hikers fist bumping and trek pole bumping and yelling "you're awesome" and "hey Chicago, you made it!" (must be the Bears hat). I was standing at the highest possible peak in the entire 48 United States. There was no other natural peak in the entire country that was higher than where I was standing. Unbelievable.
 
 
The iconic Mt. Whitney Summit Shelter:
 
After the elation, I realized I had to ascend 11 miles to get back to my car and a hot shower. Time to go.
The sun set and I put the headlight lamp back on. By now I was in a survival state of just breathing and walking. Had to remember to drink water and was fighting a headache probably from dehydration and a neck ache from looking down at the trail for many hours. But powered on.
I finished the hike at 8:50 pm. The total time round trip was 16 hours, 50 mins. with a total distance of 22 miles. Elevation gain was 6,273'. I texted all my family, they all responded immediately with congrats (I'm a lucky girl!).

Am I sore? You bet. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? YES!

If you've ever hiked Whitney or have any hiking stories to share with me, comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Climbing Mount Whitney on Sept. 30, 2014


I'll be closing down the shop to go climb Mt. Whitney from Sept. 29th - Oct. 1st. This is the highest peak in the lower 48 United States and I cannot wait to challenge myself mentally and physically and see if I can reach the top! I will be the first person in my family to climb this mountain and this will surpass my Grand Canyon climb by 2970'.

Some fun facts:

1. You need a permit to climb Mt. Whitney. They only issue 100 day passes day during the climbing season and when I went to buy one in June for an August climb, the earliest I could get was September 30th! It's a busy mountain with people coming from all over the world to climb it.

2. 30,000 people attempt to climb Mt. Whitney every year, only 1/3, 10,000 people, complete the climb.

3. It is 11 miles to the top, making it a 22 mile round trip hike, with an elevation gain of over 6000'.

4. It is the highest summit in the lower 48 United States with an elevation of 14,505'. The highest summit in the US is Mt. McKinley in Alaska, which tops out at 20,322'.

5. There are bears on Mt. Whitney. I have bear spray.

6. There is snow at the top of Mt. Whitney. I have new micro-spikes, trekking poles and waterproof gloves from REI.

7. Mt. Everest is the highest peak in the world topping out at 29,029'.

8. I never planned to do this at 50 years old, but here I am. Life is funny that way. I'm thankful I'm physically able to attempt this challenge. And I'm thankful every day for my little internet business that allows me to go on all these amazing adventures. As I always say, I would not be here without my wonderful customers who I am also honored to call my friends!

I'll be starting at sunrise and since this trail faces east, I'll have some spectacular views. I may or may not make it to the summit, but I'm sure going to give it everything I've got. I'm looking for a challenging and injury free climb.

If you've ever climbed Mt. Whitney or done a similar ascent, leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

PS-I did it! Read all about it on the next blog post.

Friday, September 5, 2014

New look, new waterproof labels, I hope you like them!

You asked, I listened and took action! I've had many requests for waterproof, smudge proof labels and they are here. This also presented an opportunity to redesign the logo and present you with a new, clean look.


The search for a new logo starts with a really nice font. After considering thousands of fonts, I finally chose the "A Simple Kind of Girl" font. The name also reflects the Somethin' Special personal style of keeping it simple with as few ingredients and additives as possible without sacrificing product quality and consistency. The font for the fragrance name label is called "Call Me Maybe" and adds a little touch of whimsy to each label.

The color palette is still a blend of blue, green, pink and yellow and I tried hard to give it curb appeal for my loyal lady customers as well as my growing male fan base. After testing many labels, I chose a white, glossy label with square corners and they are considered "weatherproof" which means waterproof, tear proof, smudge proof and sun fade resistant. And after much research, I chose a high quality color ink jet printer for sharp, clear text and images.

I hope it also increases the "giftability" factor, as many of you have stated you'd like to give these as gifts and desired a more polished, professional look.

I really hope you like the new look!!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bought another cute Chicago Bears onesie on Etsy

My sister Rebecca had her first baby, Hunter, and I had bought him a Chicago Bears onesie for her baby shower. Well, baby #2 is on the way and I had to keep the tradition alive, so I once again searched Etsy for the perfect onesie. I found the shop MyWayMomma and her cute shop, great product and 5 star reviews encouraged me to click the Add to Cart button. I requested my sisters last name and the #2 (for baby #2) to be put on the back.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/130086979/white-navy-blue-orange-short-sleeve?ref=shop_home_active_1

I bought it on 7/27 and seriously, I blinked and it was here. I thought it would take longer, but it came super fast, delivered on 7/31. It was wrapped in baby tissue paper with a tulle bow and a nice hand-written message from the seller:

I didn't even have to buy a gift bag or tissue, I just slid the note out from Katie (the seller) and gave it to my sis. So easy!! And it is adorable:

Katie at MyWayMomma has a great selection of clothing for the kids and with great prices and service, I would not hesitate to recommend her shop. Click the pic to check it out!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyWayMomma

This is not a paid review nor am I affiliated, just a happy customer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Top 10 day hiking tips

recent pct section hike
I'm a late in life day hiker, started about 5 years ago and now love hiking every day. I love hitting the trails, connecting with Mother Earth and pushing my body to climb higher and faster every day. I hike about an hour a day, always with a climb involved, and do a longer 4-6 hour hike on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on weather, family commitments, etc.

Here's my top 10 tips:

1. Bring your charged up cell phone. I use it to check weather and for emergencies, not only for me, but for anyone in distress I may find on the trail. And you need the camera to capture all the beautiful scenery shots.

2. Invest in good hiking shoes. It took me years to find the right ones, I love my Scarpa Sparks, Merrell Siren Sports and Merrell Moab Mid. Read the reviews and ask the manufacturers what they recommend, I posted on Merrells Facebook page and they sent me in the right direction. Just spend the money, it's worth it. And get good quality wool socks. When I switched from cotton socks to wool socks, my blisters disappeared.

3. Wear a hat. I hated getting hat hair, but now I don't hike without a baseball cap (usually Chicago Bears, got to represent the home team). Keeps you cooler, keeps the sun out of your eyes (my eye doc loves this too), wicks up the sweat and is just good common sense.

4. Wear sunscreen. I had a hard time remembering this one and when I used it on my face, major breakouts. Especially the ones made for faces only. I finally found a daily moisturizer that has SPF in it that doesn't freak out my face that is mostly natural, vegan and paraben free. In the morning I apply it to my face and neck and then use a sport sunscreen for my arms and legs.

5. Wear sunglasses. I have sport semi-wrappy around UV sunglasses, it protects my peripheral from too much dust and debris hitting my eyes. I really struggled with horrible eye inflammation and redness until I made this a priority. I also have photochromic (darken when sunny, lighten when cloudy) glasses for cloudy days to protect them. I actually ended up in emergency care for an eye infection because I didn't protect them on a cloudy, windy day on a Boynton Canyon hike in Sedona. And carry eye drops to flush your eyes if something gets in them.

6. Water is important. I always carry enough water for a longer hike even if I'm planning on a short hike. After a few times of passing up that amazing off-map trail going uphill because I'd run out of water on a hot, dry day, I carry more than enough so I never have to pass up unexplored trails. For my quick week day hikes, I have a reusable water bottle. For weekend hikes, I have a 2 liter Camelbak backpack filled with water and ice and I also carry an extra 2 water bottles mixed with all-natural electrolyte replenishing packs. And just in case I do push it too far (dehydration, heatstroke, been there), I make sure there are at least a couple extra bottles in my car.

7. I used to hike without music and just meditate, but I couldn't calm my mind enough for the relaxation benefits. So now I always bring my iPod and listen to music and podcasts. I find that if my mind is thinking about the technical aspects of hiking (don't sprain your ankle, don't fall off the cliff, is that a mountain lion) while simultaneously enjoying the music, I can relax and meditate and focus on my breathing. I'm not sure why, but it definitely helps calm my busy mind and I get my very BEST ideas while hiking.

8. Bring extra moleskin squares to treat hot spots. I have a roll of moleskin I bought from Amazon, I've cut them up in different sized squares so I can treat any rubbing or possible blister "hot spots" on my feet during long hikes. This tip brought to you from my Marine brother-in-law, Brandon, who has hit the hiking trail hard during training and real missions many, many times.

9. MapMyHike: I just found this app and am in love with it. It will track how many miles for the total hike, how long it takes, how fast you are moving per hour and your altitude during the entire hike. I love having these stats so I know how far I can go and how far to push myself. Screen shot from a recent Pacific Crest Trail section hike:


10. Situps and pushups: My legs are super strong and I have amazing cardio but my arms and torso are weak sauce. So, about 3 months ago, I started adding daily push-ups and sit-ups to my routine. In the beginning, I could not do one push-up, I had to actually do wall push-ups until my arms could support me (bad, I know). But I persevered and now I can crank out 20 at a time without straining and I keep getting stronger. Same with sit-ups, my abs were laughing at me when I started. Now I do 20 crunches and 20 alternating elbow/knees crunches. After years of neglect I still have alot of work in those areas, but you have to just start slow and build up your strength. I have an alarm set on my phone at 3pm to remind me to do them daily.

I hope this helps any kindred hikers out there. Do you have any comments or tips you want to add? I'd love to hear from you, please comment below.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

*CLOSED* Giveaway - (5) California Summer Essentials Bath & Body Beach Sets! Ends 8/10!


I'm giving away (5) California Summer Essentials Bath & Body Beach Sets! Just enter your info in the Rafflecopter entry form below and you can enter 4 ways, follow on Twitter, like the Somethin' Special Facebook page, comment on this blog post or tweet about the giveaway. Or do all 4! Just log into the entry form using your Facebook login or simply enter your name and email address to choose your entry options. This giveaway is only available to US residents.

Here's a link to the beach set details: http://www.somethinspecial.com/product_p/xgbaghol.htm

*NOTE* If you do post a comment, it won't show up right away, I need to approve them first, so please only post it once!!

Good luck!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello San Marcos, CA and all of Southern California...show me what you've got!

It's been about 6 weeks since I moved from Sedona, AZ to San Marcos, CA and I'm getting into the Cali groove. I do miss the visual beauty of my healing red rocks and the absence of traffic, but Southern California has alot to offer this avid hiker.

My first order of business was to establish 5 different hiking trails nearby for my daily hikes and mission accomplished with the San Elijo Hills (4 minutes away), Elfin Forest, Daley Ranch (has 3 different trailheads) and Del Dios Highlands (the last 3 are 10-15 minutes away). Elfin Forest & San Elijo Hills give you an ocean view on clear days:
elfin forest

Saturdays or Sundays (depending on weather and family commitments) are reserved for the big, long, 4+ hour hikes and I've enjoyed Palomar Mountain, Crystal Cove Park, Hellhole Canyon and Caspers Wilderness Park. I'm also going to start hiking sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is not too far from me. Here's Crystal Cove on July 5th:
And Santiago Peak looks like it needs to be climbed, so there's plenty to keep me busy for the next year. I'm happy to start using my favorite hiking resource from when I lived here in 2011, Brian & Ashleys Hiking Blog. They are the SoCal (and beyond) hiking experts.

And so far, after the morning cloud cover from the ocean dissipates, every day has been sunny and 80's, followed by sunny and 80's, with one cloudy and 80's day last Saturday. Can't complain about that!

If you have any Southern California hikes you just love, share them in the comments section below, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Custom Memory Remembrance Stuffed Animal from TheFabricPhoenix on Etsy

My sister was expecting a new baby boy and she asked me if I could create a rememberance stuffed animal from our dads shirt. We lost our dad in 2001 and I had done this for my niece, Grace, when she was a baby from a shirt my mom gave me. It felt important to have this connection for Grace to a Grandpa she will never meet, but is always with her.

I searched Etsy for memory bears (the first one I did was a stuffed bear) and found this shop on Etsy, TheFabricPhoenix. After a few messages with the owner, I bought a monkey on March 13, 2014. The owner sent me a message to mail the shirt to her and it was then I noticed she was in the United Kingdom (I'm in the US). I did not read the entire listing and if I had known that before purchasing, I probably would not have done it. This shirt is too precious to risk sending out of the country, so I thought.

But, I am an online seller with a good reputation and she is too, so I rolled the dice. I mailed it Priority Mail to the UK (you should have seen the struggle in choosing insurance, this was so valuable there is no dollar amount that I could come up with) on 3/17/2014.

Dads shirt:
And then I started biting my nails. She received it on 3/24/2014 and sent me a quick message to let me know. On 4/2/2014 she sent me a picture of the monkey and let me know she is sending him tomorrow. Very nice customer service. I received the monkey on 4/18/2014 and he is perfect:
She used the collar from the shirt as his collar and the buttons too. The attention to detail and the artistry that went into recreating dads shirt into his grandsons new stuffed companion was professional and flawless.

So, thank you Cindy for doing such a great job! My nephew Blake is here and his monkey is in his crib with him. I highly recommend her services to anyone in the world!