How to Make the Most of Shoulder Season: Transition with Intention

What Is Shoulder Season?

Shoulder season is a key time of year for any outdoor adventurer. It’s that in-between time when it’s not quite good weather for summer activities like hiking, but not cold and snowy enough for winter sports like skiing, either. When we say “shoulder season”, we’re not talking about training our arm muscles! What we actually mean is the transitional seasons between the big seasons of summer and winter, like spring and fall. (Wondering where the term comes from? Us too. Here are some theories.

Depending on the climate where you live, the exact timing of your shoulder season might look a little bit different from others. The most important thing to remember is that it’s a time of transition. It’s the time when you’re switching focus. We all experience transitions differently. So, tune into your body and take a moment to reflect on when these yearly transitions happen for you and how they make you feel.

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How to Choose a Route for Your First Backpacking Trip

Let's find you the best route for your first backpacking trip

Whether you’re dreaming of days in the mountains, along coastlines, or through the desert, planning your first backpacking trip is an exciting process. Congratulations on making moves toward this rewarding new hobby! To make your experience as positive and fun as possible, it’s important to find a beginner-friendly backpacking route that suits your experience level.

Here are some tips for finding the best route for your first backpacking trip.

Where to Find Ideas for Beginner-Friendly Backpacking Routes

When looking for ideas for your first backpacking trip, where should you start? Good news: there are lots of great resources to identify beginner-friendly routes. As you’re researching, try to find information about the same route from multiple sources. If you find broad agreement across several sources about a route, you can feel more confident in that information.

Outdoor stores

Pop into a local...

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Backpacking for Beginners: Training for Your First Trip

Why is Strength Training Important for Backpacking?

Many adventurers go into backpacking trips with the mentality that they will “use the trip to build fitness.” While a trip will certainly help make you stronger, striking out on a big adventure with no foundation of training can easily lead to getting in over your head or hurting yourself. Not the best way to have a good time!

While simply doing more hiking can help us build our trail fitness, it’s important to remember that hiking isn’t the whole story. By training our bodies as holistic systems and reinforcing healthy, functional movement patterns, we can be stronger hikers.

Strength training before and between our outdoor adventures helps us build the resilience we need for injury-free outings. When we’re not derailed by pain or struggling to keep up, we can have more fun and focus on enjoying things like the beauty of our surroundings and the great company of our trip companions. As we build...

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Backpacking Risk Management and Safety: What you need to know

Planning essentials for backpacking trips

Risk management is one of the most important elements of planning for backpacking trips. Whether it’s your first trip or your two hundredth, spending time thinking through the hazards you might encounter and what you’ll do about them is essential both for your own safety and for those with you. 

While you can never completely eliminate risk, appropriate planning means you will be more prepared if something bad does happen. Having a safety plan can mean big wins like smarter decision making, shorter time to receive rescue assistance, or the ability to handle the situation on your own without needing outside assistance at all.

Let’s dive into principles of risk management in backpacking and how you can manage your safety proactively and mindfully.

How to Assess Risk and Safety for Backpacking Trips

The first step to managing risk is thinking through and understanding what risks will exist on your trip. Thorough risk...

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Sore Hips and Backpacking: What You Need to Know

Prevent Sore Hips from Backpacking 

After a challenging day of backpacking, many people experience soreness around their hips. While sore hips are an extremely common problem for hikers and backpackers, the pain can put a damper on the rest of the trip. Thankfully, there are solutions! Let’s talk about what causes sore hips, then we’ll break down what you can do about it.

 

Why do my hips hurt while backpacking?

Our hips are key for powering the action of walking. They propel our legs forward and keep us stable and balanced. When you spend a long day out walking in the mountains, that adds up to a lot of hip exertion.

But it’s not just the long days. Backpacking adds another key ingredient: weight. Most of us don’t carry around 20-30 extra lbs for hours (or days!) at a time, but that’s exactly how we’re spending our days out on the trails. Our hips have to work much harder to power us with that much extra weight.

 The position...

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Mindful Summer: Fitting in Adventures and Rest with Less Stress

Mindful Planning for a Full Summer 

Spring is here. The thaw is in progress. The snow is gradually retreating from the peaks and melting its way into streams. Plant life is beginning to burst joyfully from the soil. And we humans are getting our first real taste of the intoxicating effects of brighter days. 

With the promise of summer only a few weeks away, planning warm weather adventures is in full swing. It’s so exciting to feel the anticipation for all of these and experiences on the horizon.

The shifting of the season fills our spirits with renewed energy for life, but as with anything, we can have too much of a good thing. The burst of energy might have us overcommitting, overstressing, and setting ourselves up for a frazzled, frantic summer instead of a season where we thrive.

 Yes, summer is precious. If we don’t make intentional plans, time can slip through our fingers and we can miss beautiful opportunities. On the other hand, swing the pendulum...

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Podcast: Changing Seasons - Using Fall to Prepare for Winter

Happy Autumn Everyone! 

I recently had a last minute chance to sit down with Martha Rosenstein of Alaska Public Media and the Outdoor Explorer Podcast to have a discussion about transitioning from Summer to Winter. This is a big transition across the hemisphere - and feels a little extra dramatic up here in Alaska where you can blink and fall is already over! We discussed some different ways that can make the transition feel less drastic and more sustainable, you can see the list of topics below! 

Closing out the episode, Martha chats for a bit with Heather Caldwell -  a psychotherapist that practices in both Alaska and Colorado. Heather shares some more perspective on how to make a seasonal transition, you can check out more about Heather and her practice here

 

Topics covered include: 

  • Sarah
    • Transitioning from summer to winter - how can we do it in a more mindful way? (3:18)
    • Leaning into plan B and recognizing the energy that takes. (5:29)
    • Cues...
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Podcast: It's Okay to be a Beginner in the Outdoors

Hello! 

I loved this conversation I had with Martha Rosenstein on the Outdoor Explorer Podcast! We highlight overcoming barriers to getting started with outdoor adventuring, remembering what it's like to be a beginner again, and how to build functional strength at home in anticipation of winter sports.

The topics we covered include: 

  • What is a mental health informed fitness trainer?
  • Sarah's journey into mental health and fitness world
  • Anti-Bro Culture
  • How can we do better when it comes to creating an inclusive outdoor rec community?
  • Weakest link syndrome
  • Progression of new skills
  • Functional Strength and Adventuring 
  • Defining Summer Strong and Ski Babes 
  • Getting Started in Backcountry Adventures
  • Self-Awareness in navigating nutrition 

I hope you will have a listen and that you enjoy the conversation! If you have thoughts or any of these topics resonated, I'd love to hear from you

You can find the episode in a couple...

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