Solo Adventuring as a Woman

We live in a world that tells us things that women are not supposed to do. Now I’m not going to get into the “men vs women rights”, but one thing we’re definitely told we shouldn’t do is adventure outside alone. I could develop deeper into it and tell you that a lot of that belief stems from the concept that women are more defenseless than men, but we’re not going to get into that either. I’m just here to tell you that you can go against the grain and adventure outside without a man or a group. Here are a few simple tips to taking a solo adventure:

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The first thing you need to do is do your research!
Know the animals you may encounter and how to interact with them. I know all sensible thought goes out the window if you’re startled by big wildlife like a moose or bear, but try to keep a calm head and remember what you learned.
Under this category we will also place know your trail! Look into the area you’ll be going. Research the trailhead and destination(s). Know your trail and stick to it. If you’re going on a trail that isn’t clearly marked or deep in the backcountry, bring any navigation tools you need.

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Be prepared!
Do a checklist before you leave and make sure you have what you need. I strongly advise bringing something to protect yourself with. I always hike with a knife, and outside of the summer I also carry pepper spray. I have a few out of state friends who hike with firearms, but if you are qualified to conceal a gun, you still need to know if the area you’re hiking in allows you to carry. If you’re hiking in bear country, you can consider packing bear spray. I hike in bear country with black bears only and choose not to, but that’s just a personal choice. If you’re hiking in grizzly territory, I’m going to strongly advise you from solo hiking there at all. I’m not going to teach a bear class, but I have taken one, and it’s just not a good idea to solo hike where a grizzly could be, no matter your gender.

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Use common sense.
Make sure you tell people close to you exactly where you’ll be and around what time you’ll be expected back, just in case. But then I’m also going to go the opposite direction and strongly advise you to not advertise your very location to people you aren’t super close with. Don’t post on social media “hey I’m going on a hike/camp out alone at this exact location!” Chances are nothing is going to happen to you, but you also don’t know who is reading your stuff. You could have some super crazy sadistic person following your every move and you just gave them what they were looking for. Be smart about the information you share and whom you share it with.
A lot of things can be put under these three words of advice, but I’m not going to cover every single one of them. Like I’m not going to tell you to not wrap yourself in a huge piece of meat and go dancing through the woods alone, because that’s just a no brainer. And gross. Just use common sense!

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Tune into those senses. 
Now you may have noticed that my dog is in all of my “solo hiking” pictures, because duh, I bring him on every hike. So if you solo hike with your dog, that usually puts you at an advantage than ladies who are 100% on their own. I say usually because I’ve met a couple dogs that could really be the downfall of their human in the outdoors, but I digress.
If you have a dog, and we’ll just say a dog like mine, then you have the advantage of tuning into your dog’s senses. They can usually tell you more of what’s going on than you can see at first. When my dog senses an “unwelcome” visitor, he perks his ears and focuses on the direction he heard them. If his thoughts are confirmed, he lets out a low “warning” growl. If somebody comes too close to me, which in this case I’m already aware of the potential danger, he will bark and snarl. My beautiful boy is very protective of his mama.
But again, I digress. The point is, let your senses go hand in hand with your dog. If you are not with a dog, let your senses speak to you. Pay attention to nature. The more you go outdoors the more you may be able to tell the difference in welcome and unwelcome silences. This is where you can really allow yourself to be “one with nature”, which is a beautiful feeling.

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If you want to start going on a few solo hikes, I recommend your first being a trail you already know. You’ll probably be the most scared your first time, so somewhere familiar can help a lot with that. Just be confident in yourself, your abilities, and the work you’ve put in to preparing yourself for the trail. Now get out there and explore more!

Thanks for reading!
Miranda + Loki

 

Roadtripping With Your Dog

Taking your dog on a roadtrip is definitely fun, but it does take a little extra work. I’ve written something like this before, but I decided to do a refresher. Here are our top tips when roadtripping with your dog:

  1. Don’t forget about safety!
    When taking your dog on the road, you need to think about their safety. It’s up to you to decide the best way to protect your dog, but for us, we use a car harness. Remember that accidents definitely happen and it’s super important to keep your dog’s safety in mind.seatbelt
  2. Do your homework.
    Make sure where you’re going is dog friendly. Trails, campgrounds, hotels… You need to research wherever you are going to know if your dog is even allowed. Check that your campsite allows pets and if the trail you’re hiking is fido friendly. If you’re booking a hotel room, most places have rooms specific for dogs. You need to make sure the hotel is aware you are bringing a dog so they can get you in a dog friendly room to avoid any problems at check-in or a hefty “undisclosed dog fee” that most places charge.hotelroom
  3. Keep your dog comfortable.
    I know all circumstances are different, but try your best at this one. Try to keep your dog hydrated. Give them a place to lie down. And when it comes to food, avoid feeding them at least 30 minutes before a car ride. A lot of dogs have a bit of anxiety when on the road (even if it is just minor), so feeding them right before you leave could really upset their stomach.
    If they are on a feeding schedule, try to stick as close to it as possible while working with your plans.
    It’s super handy to know how your dog handles car rides and the signs they give. Some people result to using a calming aid when taking a roadtrip with their dog.
    Also think about keeping their favorite toy with them. It may seem silly to some, but little comforts can go a long way.img_4134
  4. Bring a first aid kit.
    I learned the hard way how important a dog first aid kit is. Don’t underestimate the importance of them!
    I have 2 dog first aid kits. A small one that goes in my pack and a bigger one that stays in my vehicle.
    The small kit consists of the very essentials: tweezers for ticks, dog aspirin, Benadryl (talk to your vet about this one), gauze, vet tape, and a wound care spray.
    The car kit has all of this as well, plus a handful of extras. Make sure the things you are using in your kit are made for dogs or are safe for dogs.firstaid
  5. Let your dog have fun.
    Don’t jam-pack your days with so much that you’re constantly on the move. Let your dog get out to stretch their legs and smell the smells. I believe dogs enjoy the views just as much as we do, if not more ūüėČ
    So get out and have fun with your furry best friend!IMG_9577
    Miranda + Loki

Being Your Dog’s Best Friend

Loving your dog is great, but building a strong bond with them is so much better! Loki is my best friend and I encourage you to make your dog your’s as well. Here are some¬†tips you can¬†use to help become best buds with your doggo:

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Be loving. For us, this means lots of hugs and cuddles. There are many dogs that don’t like that though, so you could go with speaking kindly to them and ear or belly scratches. They take simple things as big gestures. Giving your dog a body rub shows them your attention, which is huge. And yes, talking to your pup is highly encouraged. Your dog is not just a dog, they are family.

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Be their companion. Spend time with your dog! Don’t always go out and do stuff while leaving your dog locked up or home alone. It drives me absolutely crazy when someone gets a dog and then barely acknowledges their existence.
One of the biggest bonding moments I have with my pup is spending time in the outdoors. Playing in the wild together really strengthens our connection.
Also, when I’m on the couch reading, I scratch my mutt’s fluff butt with my foot. That action right there is so simple, but speaks¬†volumes to him.

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Be a safe haven. Don’t push your dog too far; build an environment that makes them feel cared for. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and study it in all situations so you can have a better read on how they’re feeling. This will help you react appropriately and help them back into their comfort zone if needed.
When disciplining Loki, I go with the “firm, but¬†loving” technique. Instead¬†of anger, I use disappointment. When he does something wrong,¬†in a strong voice I ask him why he¬†would do that.¬†I¬†show disappointment in him, like¬†placing my hands on my hips and¬†making eye contact while I ask him why and he¬†goes crazy¬†with guilt.
Never beat your dog. You hit them, I hit you.
I kid. But seriously.

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Be encouraging. Give your dog lots of praise and be super over enthusiastic about it. I’m talking about if¬†he sits when asked, pretend he just¬†saved the world.¬†The tone in your voice usually says a lot more to a dog¬†than the words¬†themselves.
Show them you are happy to be in their company.

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Building a strong¬†bond with¬†my dog is honestly one¬†of the best things I’ve done. It makes all of our adventures so much better. It even makes our hanging-around-the-house moments so much better too.
Treat your dog like a family member and a best friend, and get to spending more time with them!

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Miranda + Loki

Dog First Aid

A first aid kit for your dog is very important to keep on hand. You don’t want to learn the hard way their level of importance. Even if you never end up using it, which is what we all hope for, it is still really crucial to have.
I have two dog first aid kits: a small one that I keep in my backpack with the absolute essentials (in my opinion) and a bigger one that I keep in my vehicle.

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My small first aid kit has things I would like to have on hand right away like gauze, wound spray, vet tape, tweezers for ticks, dog aspirin, and Benadryl (consult your vet before using).

My larger kit has everything listed above, plus a lot more:

Alcohol and antiseptic wipes (made for dogs)
Cold press
Q-tips
Scissors
Loki’s proof of¬†rabies¬†vaccination
Plastic syringe (for cleaning out wounds)
Styptic powder (stops bleeding in minor cuts)
Dog first aid handbook
and a lot more.

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A lot of people I know carry hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in their dog in case of poisoning, but I would definitely consult a vet before deciding to do this.

Along with first aid, think about keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccinations and consider getting preventive care that caters to your adventures. If you’ll be in an area with lots of ticks, get them on tick prevention. Same goes for areas with lots of rattlesnakes. There is a vaccine¬†that helps neutralize the venom, although your dog will¬†still have to be taken to the vet ASAP.

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You can also go the extra mile and carry things that could come in handy¬†like a dog boot or an emergency blanket.¬†Talk to a vet¬†to see what they would¬†recommend for your¬†best friend’s¬†kit. You can definitely customize it to the needs of your dog, area, and adventure, but just make sure to have something!

Miranda + Loki

 

Dressing For a Winter Hike

Lately I’ve had a handful of people ask me for tips on what to wear when hiking in the winter. I find this funny since I was trying to figure out this very thing a year ago, but I’ve finally come up with some guidelines I follow.

Careful with the layers. It’s important to layer, but it’s also important to not have too many layers. I’ve read multiple articles saying to have 3 layers, and that’s fine, but that’s not what I do.
My first layer is usually a thermal. You never want to wear cotton as your base layer when doing outdoor activities in the winter, because to keep it simple, you will freeze.
My second layer is usually either a windbreaker (on a warmer day) or my down jacket. Both are water resistant, which is key! Water resistant outerwear not only protects from rain and snow, but I can also use it to sit on when resting because it won’t get me wet and it won’t stay wet once I pick it off the ground.
Be warm enough to get you started, but don’t over layer. You will get warmer while putting in the work, which might result in you taking layers off. Just remember, you have to carry what you take with you. Which is another reason I love my down jacket, it packs down nice and small to stuff in my pack.

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Keep your head warm. Wear a beanie or winter hat. Beanies are a muuuust for me. The right ones are comfy and keep your heat in. Another plus side to beanies is you can shove them in your pack and they hardly take up room.

Ladies, my favorite bottoms to wear are thermal leggings. I also have a pair of windproof, waterproof soft shell snow pants which are awesome for a snow day. But if I won’t have much contact with the ground, my thermal leggings are my go to for hiking and snowshoeing. They’re light, super easy to move in, and keep my legs toasty warm.

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Snow boots! Waterproof boots are very important for the winter. It doesn’t hurt to get ones that are also insulated. If you are going to be snowshoeing, you don’t really need to worry about how the traction on bottom is. But if you’re taking a hike with just the boots, you’ll definitely want to worry about that. I wear a pair of Keen boots, which are waterproof and insulated, but not so great on the traction. I’m still obsessed with them though.

Socks and thermal socks.
I always wear a regular pair of socks against my feet and then my big, warm thermal socks over them.

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Gloves. Windproof, waterproof. Don’t really need to say more than that. Although I will add that it is handy to have them touch screen compatible for me.

Extras: On some trips I will bring hand warmers. My gloves have little pockets on the outside I can put them in, which is awesome.
Sunglasses help you from going “snowblind” on a sunny day.
First aid kit is smart to keep around in your pack, no matter the season. I keep a small one with an emergency blanket added.

Half of my winter gear I bought at Costco, which saved me a ton of money on stuff that still works great.

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Looking for snowshoes? Shop around! It’s important to get ones you like and that feel right. Don’t be afraid to try on many different ones if you’re shopping in person. You can shop poles and shoes online at Yukon Charlie’s, or a bunch of other places.
You can also check out your local REI or other outdoor stores to look at renting snowshoes before you commit to buying some.

Happy winter friends! Get out and find an adventure right for you. Don’t let the weather keep you in!

Thanks for reading,
Miranda and Loki

Top Tips For Hiking With Dogs In The Winter

Hiking, or snowshoeing, with your dog in the winter can be just as fun as hiking with them in other seasons. Or even more. Here are my top tips for hiking with dogs in the winter:

  1. First thing to do is check that the area you’re planning to visit allows dogs. It also helps to check if that area is even accessible in the winter and to have a backup plan if not.img_5894
  2. Start off slow. Hiking in snow is usually more work than on solid ground. If you don’t usually venture out in the snow, start with a shorter trip to see how your dog handles it.
  3. Take frequent breaks. Don’t just plan on a “start to finish” hike. Hiking in the snow already takes longer as it is, but you need to also account for breaks in your hike. Make sure to have lots of treats and/or trail food for dogs on hand. They need the extra fuel that those provide. Our go to is Zukes. They have plenty of options for treats that boost a dog mid-hike.img_5528
  4. Keep your dog hydrated! Since it’s colder out, you may not think that they need as much water, but makes sure to still offer them plenty. They might not drink it, but it’s best to have that option there. Also make sure they drink plenty after the hike.img_5530
  5. It’s always handy to know the signs of hypothermia in dogs. Symptoms like excessive shivering, weakness/tiredness, slow and shallow breathing, and lack of alertness are all things to watch out for.
  6. Care for those paws! Whether it’s cute little boots or a product like Musher’s Secret, keep those paws protected. Dog’s paws can handle a lot in all different kinds of terrain, but it’s still important to care for them whether it be before, after, or during the hike. If you choose to put a product on, do it before and after the hike. Before for the protection and after for the conditioning.
    If they aren’t wearing boots, clean between your dog’s toes when taking a break. If they clean their paws themselves, they’re just more likely to get more snow stuck on by adding that extra moisture.img_2403
  7. Look into the many options of jackets and coats. Short fur dogs or dogs that get cold easily will need these more than long coats. Loki uses his jackets on trips longer than a couple hours with temperatures below 35 F
  8. Don’t let your dog near edges of cliffs or mountains. Snow can cause a false sense of solid ground and it could easily cave in and take your dog down with it. Let them run and play and be a dog but keep an eye out.img_5875
  9. And finally, after you and your adventure pup have made it home safely, give them a good rubdown. Work their paws, legs, hips, and anything else. It’s tough work on muscles no matter how active they are! Thanks for following along,   Miranda and Loki