Measuring Success:2018

It’s the end of the year. The time to reflect on everything I did in 2018 and everything it did for me. I had lofty goals: I wanted to complete my 365 mile hiking challenge through Hike Like a Woman, I wanted to read 50 books, I wanted to learn to scuba dive. Did I achieve moving my body 365 self propelled miles this year, no. Did I read all 50 books, no. Did I learn to scuba dive, absolutely not. However, if I measure myself by what I didn’t accomplish I miss out on all of the amazing things I conquered.

This year I participated in the 365 Mile Challenge. I recorded my miles all year; I never gave up or gave in. I ended up clocking a self respectable 320 miles. 320 miles I hiked, ran, walked, AND kayaked. 320 hard earned miles. So what I didn’t hit 365, I went on more hike this year than in my entire life combined. I sparked a new passion for not only hiking, but for the outdoors and am planning my first backpacking trip for the Spring of 2019. I also got to progress this passion with one of my oldest friends who unbeknownst to me had dusted off her hiking shoes two states away and started really pursuing outdoor activities as well. Leading us on some amazing hikes when she visited through my next door National Park, Pinnacles. So I didn’t get all 365 miles, I gained so much more than a mile can count.

I challenged myself to read/listen to 50 books. I ended up with 42. First off, that means I READ 42 books this year. If that’s not an accomplishment I don’t know what is. I learned to turn off the TV, put my phone down, and tune out the world for 30, 40, 60 minute at a time and pick up something worth putting into my mind. I discovered new love for authors I never got around to reading before, like Steinbeck. In my challenge I also included a subdivision to read 10 nonfiction books, something I rarely ever picked up before. I blew that number out of the water, more than doubling it in size. I have a stack of books a mile wide that I’m itching to pick up and read in 2019.

I also did so many more things I couldn’t have even imagined to put down on paper. I learned to love deeply. I started a home with my boyfriend, who then surprised me completely by asking me to be his wife. We then turned our family of two into a family of three adopting our first pet, our adorable black 3 legged kitten named Gypsy. Which means I’ve turned “planning for my future,” into “planning for our future,” and we’re excited to begin planning.

I also gave myself a motto for the year as well as my goals. 2018’s motto was ‘Don’t Stand Still,’ and I definitely didn’t. I made new friends. I went to concerts. I went on road trips. I experienced life and I never said no to an opportunity. I prefer to measure my year in quality, not quantity. The quality of 2018 was one of the best and I’m looking forward to what 2019 has to offer.

 

Happy New Years to you all!

Trail Talk: Pinnacles National Park – Bear Gulch Caves to the High Peaks

 

Location: Pinnacles National Park

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6.5 mile loop

Recorded (fitbit) distance: 8.84

Elevation: 1800 feet

Time for us to complete: 6.5 hours

Cost: 7 day pass for non-commercial vehicles: $25

Motorcycle: $20

Individual: $12

Annual pass: $50 (best deal if you live in the area and think you’ll be able to make it back 2+ times)

Parking: Bear Gulch Day Use Area

Directions: Enter the park on the East side. Once inside the park continue straight and follow signs for the Bear Gulch Day Use area. There are two parking areas. Either one is fine as the trail starts off of one and ends at the other.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen
  • Flashlight (required in the caves)
  • Water: The website for the park recommends 1 liter of water per hour on the trail. I took with me 4 liters of water which ended up being perfect for me.

Heat index: HOT. This park is notorious for getting extremely warm. I would recommend only visiting in the early early hours or winter/early spring if you are susceptible to heat like I am.

The Journey

Here is where you will be introduced to my best friend, Blake. Luckily for us, she discovered this great loop connecting three trails that we were able to conquer on her recent visit. If you wish to recreate this journey you will connect the bear gulch caves to the reservoir to the rim trail to the high peaks trail. Leaving the high peaks trail at the top and circling back down to the parking lot. Full video available for viewing at the bottom.

img_2020

The Caves

Follow the signs for the Bear Gulch caves and head out. This first part is only about 0.7 miles. Not long into the hike you’ll see a stopping point that warns you to have a flashlight before continuing. While we were starting we saw about four deer (not including the ones we saw from the car driving in). The caves themselves are pretty amazing, there are a ton of stairs carved into the stone and when we went through we could see standing water on either side of the trail. The website warns that there is a possibility of getting wet when traveling through these depending on the weather before and when you go. We saw a few places where little waterfalls could come down from above but it was dry for us as we trekked through. At the top there are two directions to go; only one was open when we went and thankfully this was also the one we needed. The one that was closed was the “upper caves” and the one we took was the “Moses spring exit.” It is at this point that the cave gets the narrowest and both Blake and I had to crawl on our hands and knees for a small portion.

DISCLAIMER: This caves can also be closed at any time. Check their website to see if they are open. There is a way to continue this full length trail without the caves but it’s definitely more fun if they are open.

img_2054

The Tricky Part

So at this point, we got lost. There is a sign pointing to the reservoir and we continued that way. Then the trail split. We took the right fork but it appeared to dead end so we turned back around and dead ended at the left fork as well. We backtracked to the cave exit and reread our maps. Then we went back up and took the original right fork that had “dead ended” but in reality was actually leading us back into some more caves. We were thrown off because we didn’t realize there was a second set of caves to traverse through before hitting the reservoir. So for you reader, there are two sets of caves! Also the left fork goes only a few hundred feet and ends at what we believed to be Moses Spring but there was no water at this point in the season.

The Reservoir and Rim Trail

The view of the reservoir after you get up the last set of stairs out of the caves is PHENOMINAL. We stopped here for awhile and never wanted to leave. Finally though we dragged ourselves away and keep going. There’s an easy sign pointing to the rim trail. This trail is pretty level and starts to show you some of those spectacular views. It’s a little over 2 miles if you just did this loop up to here and then returned to the Bear Gulch Day use area.

img_2062

The High Peaks

Here is where the elevation gain kicks in as well as the heat. We recommend you get started on this part as early as possible. We were trying to start early, but with the long pause at the reservoir and time lost getting turned around in the early stages, the sun was already high when we started this stage. This did not take away from the amazing atmosphere and views this trail provides. Take as many breaks as needed and find shade whenever possible to relax and catch your breath. I took about fifteen breaks on my way up and had only one minor meltdown, thankfully only caught partially on video. For some this is going to be easier than for others. I have a high aversion to heat so I struggled a lot, but I still made it and so can you!

Near the top there is a restroom (which is just a really nice port-a-potty, there is NO WATER up here) and a bench that shows you the most spectacular views. We paused for a length in the shade of the restroom’s building and then walked over to enjoy the view. We had the luck of seeing two California Condors soaring above us and it took our breath away. From here you continue up to the fun steps and narrow trail that probably enticed you to make this trek up to the peaks.

img_2098

The Fun Stuff

There are a few small staircases and then finally you hit the extra long one. Continue on to a ledge that is narrow and requires either some great balance or extreme trust in the railing. We were discussing how great it was to be coming from this direction because going down these stairways seemed scary and we were happy to be going up…..and then we discovered the staircase we had to go down. I was able to do it without too much trouble, but with my giant clown feet and nerves it took me a lot of time and a few deep breaths. While we are attempting this part of the trail WE WERE PASSED by a group of hikers who were all aged 70+. They put us to shame but just shows that depending on your ability level this hike is still really accessible t o anyone.

img_2272

Breaking Point and Heading Down

After the stairs we thought that we were done with the elevation gain. We were not. We kept going up and that broke our spirits a little bit. When we finally hit the split in the trail, that led us back to Bear Gulch, I was very close to having my second breakdown of the day. The sign is clear and says “Bear Gulch Area” and it’s only 1.7 more miles to the car from here, and to our relief all downhill. If you miss the split and keep going you head up the Bench trail which is two more miles and who knows after that, I didn’t care to find out. On the trail down there is a Condor Viewing area, but it paled in comparison to the views we already experienced up top and we were exhausted so we just kept going down. At the bottom it drops you right to the first parking lot and thankfully where we had our car parked.

Conclusion

I loved this hike. Yes, I know, it seemed like I really struggled with it, but that also is what made it so much more of an accomplishment for me. I love to push myself and see what I can really handle, it’s rewarding for me to make it to the bottom of something like this and realize that I did it. On top of that this hike had everything: Caves, the Reservoir, views, wildlife, and unique trail structures. If you are ever near Pinnacles or are coming to cross this park off your list of National Parks, this is definitely my recommended trail.

Until the next trail, happy roaming!

img_2117

For your further enjoyment, here is it all caught on camera (sorta):

 

Pick your adventure: Time Frame – One Day

Two of the most frequent things I hear from friends, family, and colleagues are “You’re always doing something!” and “I wish I could do that!” The awe I receive at doing something with my free Saturday or free Sunday always slightly astounds me. At the same time I also realize this is something I’ve cultivated over trial and error. Attempting too much or heading into something underprepared. Luckily for you over the past few years I’ve turned my adventure day into an easy can do process. Read on to see how you too can turn your Netflix Sunday into a day of unique fun!

We do not remember days, we remember moments.

1.Pick your interests.

For me I love to hike, I love art, and I love cozy towns/coffee shops.

2. Check for local events.

About once a week to a month I will scan our local community paper, facebook, or a quick google search to see what might be happening near me in the near future. I also am very close to a fairgrounds so I check what’s coming up in their season as well. Then I put it on my calendar. I might not go but it’s nice to know what is out there if I get the time off.

3. Make a list.

One of my favorite things in my apartment is these whiteboards I made from dollar store frames and craft paper. On each frame I have lists for things I want to do, one is dedicated to local places I want to visit, one to local places to eat I wish to try, one to hikes I wish to accomplish, among others (picture included!). img_2206-1Both of these are great to keep track of things I think I can accomplish in a day. Everyone’s list is going to be different. If you don’t like to travel out more than ½ an hour, then you’re going to have a lot more of in town events. If you are like me and can drive up to 2-3 hours out for a day, your list could include events from several towns over or even other states.

4. Check the weather.

Thankfully I live somewhere where I have pretty great weather year round but if you are somewhere where your weather is more temperamental then definitely keep it in mind. If a clear Saturday is unusual than make sure you are tackling your outside adventures on that day versus your indoor adventures. Don’t be afraid to change your course at the last minute because the weather changes.

5. Get up early.

The hardest part for me is getting out of bed. I always bribe myself with hitting a local coffee shop or bakery on my way to where I’m going. It’s just another incentive to get out of bed. Then I have all day to go do adventure and if I finish early I can NAP! But if it takes all day I’m always grateful I got up when I did.

6. Remember it.

If you take pictures, take pictures. If you check in on Facebook, check in. If you journal, journal. I used to be self-conscious about posting things that I was doing because I felt I was trying to draw attention to “how awesome I’m being,” but I really just use it to keep track for myself. It’s nice to have all of adventures highlighted in one place to reminisce when I need some future inspiration to get out of bed. So whatever works best for you to have something to remember it by: DO IT!

7. Plan the next one. Research research research.

This step can really be at the beginning or the end. But what is your plan for the next adventure. I don’t always have a ton of time in the middle of my week to figure it out. So as soon as I get home or while I’m driving home I’ll start thinking about what I want to do next week. If I know I want to go to the pumpkin patch with the largest corn maze in driving distance, I’m researching it Monday-Friday so that on Sunday when we wake up we already know how long the drive might be, if we need money for tolls, and what else is in the area to explore after. If I want to go on an epic hike I’ve researched the trail, how long it will take, and what the water supply is like. That way I can clean out our hydration packs, buy more water, and plan our equipment in the middle of the week before we wake up Sunday. Saves more time day of so we can get out on the trail early!

img_1911

The most important thing to remember is that plans change. No matter how much you prepare things will go “wrong.” You might start thinking you’re going to one brewery only to find they closed for the day due to a family emergency. Don’t let it get you down. Hit up the local coffee shop and map out either another brewery or ask the barista where’s someplace to visit nearby. The point of this day is to explore, find something new, and get out and about!

Learning to Roam

Hi my name is Hannah Brotherton and this is my story; My past, present, future, and dreams. To see how far I’ve come and how I’m going to get where I’m going, it’s best to start at the beginning. Enjoy!

To Roam: To go from place to place without purpose or direction. To travel purposefully unhindered through a wide area.

90594579-0653-4312-A269-2B7BE18C8A45

For the better part of ten years I pushed myself relentlessly on the corporate path. The correct path. Working hard through high school, through college, and landing my first career. Then I pushed myself in my career, climbing the ladder swiftly to become one of the youngest managers in my area. Then…I got stuck. Things weren’t going my way at work, I wasn’t feeling motivated, I was constantly depressed and nothing seemed to being moving forward. What was the point? I could see the levels I could advance to if I pushed myself harder, but I wasn’t happy, and dreaming about those next stages in my career wasn’t making me happier.

Finally as I neared the end of a particularly bad work week I got this unimaginable urge to take off. To where? I had no idea. I didn’t have a lot of money left in my account but I had a full tank of gas and two days off, I would figure it out. I threw an overnight bag in my car, turned off my phone, put a new CD on the radio (yes I’m still old school, I love a good CD) and just started driving north. The rest of that story is a great topic for another time but the point is that drive cleared my head. All 19 hours of it. It was my first REAL solo adventure. It was the first time I went somewhere with a direction but not necessarily a plan, and I felt free. When I returned from that trip I was happy and I was refreshed, and I was desperate to figure out a way to hang on to that feeling.

As I started dreaming of an adventure life I realized another seriously important fact about myself. I still loved the corporate life as well. I love managing my office, I love working with accounts, and I loved mentoring my employees. I also couldn’t see myself ever giving up the other perks: the steady paycheck, the GREAT healthcare, and my 401k. I’m still not ready to toss those aside just to go racing off on an adventure. I know a lot of people do drop everything for an adventure and are able to find happiness in just that, and maybe one day I will to. Until then, this blog is about how I balance both. How I organize my free time, plan my adventures, and prioritize everything that is important to me. How I fulfill my needs to be in a corporate environment and explore. How I ROAM.2EF0D5A8-D19E-4A83-8562-F6B827C199F3