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Sacramento Valley

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Featured: Outdoor Women's Alliance + Hiking Near Sacramento

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I was over on the Outdoor Women's Alliance site earlier this week sharing one of my favorite hikes near Sacramento and the timing of this post couldn't be better. As we gear up for the day when we all tend to... ahem... over-indulge, it's nice to spend the following few days outside.

If you're in the Sacramento area or have a visit planned, I cannot recommend the hike through Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve enough. It's a strenuous workout, great views are involved and the hike will get you out of that turkey-induced food coma with a quickness.

You can read the full article here.

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Be sure to share your favorite fall hikes in the comment section of the story, so we can add them to our trail list!

To all of our friends in the states and those celebrating abroad: Happy Thanksgiving!


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Snowshoeing in Donner Memorial State Park

It's no secret that much of Northern California has been experiencing a long stretch of fairly dry weather. We could use a nice soaking (or three) in the Sacramento Valley and the snow pack in the Sierras is dwindling.That said, we still found a nice base of snow this weekend at Donner Memorial State Park for our first-ever snowshoeing adventure!

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We decided to check out Donner Memorial State Park because the flat terrain seemed good for beginners. You can download the winter trail map here, if you're interested. From the Sacramento Valley, the park is easy to find and the trip only takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic.

The park was covered in a beautiful blanket of snow and the two-hour nature walk was exactly what we were looking for. At the start of the Lake Loop Trail, we stopped to take photos and were treated to a bald eagle spotting:

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Not a bad way to start the trek! The spring-like weather made for some slushy areas, but overall, the park was a perfect place to fall in love with a new hobby.

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As we walked along, we came across this big fella:

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No, my friends, this is not photoshopped. We found this double-headed tree just off the trail and could not stop staring!

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It was even more impressive up close. I've seen trees grow together before, but the symmetry of this guy was something else!

The trail is a nice, easy loop that takes you along a short section of the south shore of Donner Lake. It was a beautiful place to rest for a bit, but I couldn't help wishing for a little more snow!

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We ventured off the path several times to find some powder:

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We've definitely found a fun outdoor activity in snowshoeing. As beginners, we weren't quite sure how difficult it would be to get started. Did we need lessons? What should we wear?

As it turns out, snowshoeing is super easy. I turned to the internet and found this somewhat cheesy video for beginners and this informative video for clothing advice. I opted to go with waterproof everything, since I knew I'd be getting into the snow to take pictures.

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My husband, on the other hand, went with jeans, a few cotton layers and a waterproof coat because the weather was so mild. We were both happy campers, so I suppose the best advice is to bring lots of layers, know your body (do you run hot or cold?) and pay attention to weather conditions. Waterproof shoes (hiking boots or snow boots) seem to be the best investment since wet, cold feet can end an outdoor adventure pretty quickly.

We don't own snowshoe gear, so we borrowed what we could from a friend (thanks, Amy!) and rented the rest from our local REI store. After a little bit of research (read: we consulted the internet, friends and the nice folks at REI), we decided to go without snowshoe poles. The low snow pack and negligible elevation change on the trail meant we would be okay without them. Again, just take a look at the conditions and the terrain and decide what gear you need for your snowshoe adventures.

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Your turn: Have any of you snowshoed before? What did you think? Any great trails we should check out? If you have advice for newbies like us, feel free to share your knowledge in the comment section!

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Frosty Mornings

As many of you living in the Sacramento Valley know, we have had a long run of frosty mornings around here. Our outdoor thermometer has been getting a workout with overnight temperatures dipping below freezing for a few weeks. Yes, it's cold and we may not be used to it here in California, but it makes for some outdoor fun we can't get around here the rest of the year.I've been heading outside early on these cold mornings to practice with my camera and I'm pretty happy with the results. Cold. But happy.

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I don't know about you all, but I feel best when I've allowed myself a moment to take in everything around me and really let it sink in. I find that joy, peace and hopefulness are most present when I'm appreciating nature: the white frosty blanket on front yards and rooftops, the way the light hits the frozen bits of dew and the crunch underfoot as I walk across a freshly frozen lawn.

So, I hope to continue capturing these moments of nature at work, paying attention to small details and appreciating things for what they are. Sounds like a life lesson, no?

The challenge is making sure I apply these tiny, cold, beautiful lessons to all things in life.

I think I'm up for the challenge. How about you?

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Inspiration + Goal Refinement

I have to tell you all, I've spent the first 9 days of this year completely inspired. How, you ask? By whom? Well, mostly by people just like you. I'm inspired by the community that comes along with blogging and {some} social media interaction. I'm inspired by so many of you who reach out in the comment section or through various other channels to say thanks or share your experiences. My friends and family members are also incredibly inspiring. I'm surrounded by creative people and that can only lead to good things.

I've also recently stumbled upon several different indie publications, of both the online and print variety, that take my breath away. I'm not being dramatic here folks. I get goose bumps while devouring the delicious articles, interviews, essays, videos, recipes, photography, short stories and more. We have some seriously talented people on this here planet.

Seeing the world through the artwork of others -- through their perspective -- makes me so excited to go out and create more, collaborate more and share more high-quality work. I desperately want to create as much beautiful, helpful and engaging content as possible this year. I'm on track so far thanks to my pledge to explore my creative side at least a tiny bit each day. You've all been holding me accountable and offer up regular encouragement, which keeps me both motivated and humble at the same time. Thank you for that.

My small daily exercises have resulted in a few beautiful moments, including the making of the photos below:

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I looked out my front window a few mornings ago and saw droplets on our tree out front. The sky was a bit hazy with low clouds, which led to nice, post-sunrise light. Not caring what my neighbors might think, I bundled up, went out front and started snapping away. I'm so glad I took the time to notice the tiny droplets and seize the photo opportunity. If I hadn't, I may have missed out on much-needed practice time and photos that make me happy.

Thanks to the focus on small moments of creative time, I've even been motivated to organize my thoughts a bit. It's tough to truly visualize success through a vague lens, so I've refined my creative goals based on different types of content:

  • Write and submit at least 10 articles and/or essays to publications both near and far
  • Take more thoughtful and well-composed photos specifically for my Society6 Shop
  • Create at least 5 well-shot and edited videos for various outlets {and, let's face it, for practice!}
  • Blog more about the region I know and love: the Sacramento Valley

That's a good start, right? I hope? Just writing these goals so close to a button that screams "Publish!" is making me nervous. However, I know that putting it out there in the universe will help me see my goals through.

Thanks again to all of you who have continued to read and participate. I'm thrilled to be doing this and you all make it so worthwhile.

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If you have any tips on nurturing your creativity, finding inspiration and refining your goals, please feel free to share in the comment section below.

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