NATIONAL PARKS WEEK TRAIL DAY

Topic: Volunteer Day

Location: 34°06′14″N 118°36′09″W

Project: Support Our Parks

The Parks Project Crew got out to support National Parks week alongside thousands of other volunteers to all leave it better than we found it. We wanted to share a quick slideshow of the hike-in trailwork we got done over the course of ½ day.  Hats off to all the volunteers out there making a difference.

TOPANGA BASIN VOLUNTEER DAY

Topic: Volunteer Days

Location: 34.1030° N, 118.6050° W

Project: Leave it Better Than You Found It  

Last Saturday the Parks Project Crew rolled up their sleeves to go rip out some invasive species in an area of Topanga State Park where reforestation efforts are taking place to restore the valley. Here's a slideshow of the morning by @dtorokphoto

MAKE A WISH W/ GABE

Topic: Making Wishes

Location: 37.8499° N, 119.5677° W

Project: #parkchamps

Yosemite. It’s the quintessential national park and to 8-year-old Gabriel it’s the perfect place for a wish. The past summer, Make-A-Wish (Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida and Make-A-Wish Central California) and the National Park Service granted Gabriel’s wish to be a park ranger in Yosemite National Park. Gabriel, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – a sometimes life-threatening connective tissue disorder that impacts the strength of skin, joints, and in Gabe’s case, blood vessel walls and the heart – took part in an action packed, unforgettable day. Watch as Gabriel fights forests fires, rescues a stranded hiker, and is sworn in as a full-fledged park ranger. For him, it’s all in a day’s work.

Make-A-Wish® grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the United States and its territories, on average, every 38 minutes. We believe that a wish experience can be a game-changer. This one belief guides us. It inspires us to grant wishes that change the lives of the kids we serve. 

Learn more about how you can help grant wishes at wish.org
Twitter: @makeawish
Facebook.com/MakeAWish

DANIEL TOROK IS A PARK CHAMPION

Topic: Master Lensmen

Location: 34.0500° N, 118.2500° W

Project: Promoting #parkchamps

El Capitan, Yosemite

El Capitan, Yosemite

Death Valley Racetrack

Death Valley Racetrack

If its snapping a shot of Bieber on the red carpet or shooting Macklemore, I'd like to think Daniel Torok has seen it all in LA. But whats amazing is that the next day, he will be off in a car making his way to Death Valley National Park or Yosemite. Though we really want to share his shots of Bieber, we are gonna have to show you his amazing photos (ahem, yes b/w film photos folks) and a quick Q&A so you get to know more about this #parkchamp.

Q: How have you found your place in photography?

A: I will let you know when I have ;)

Q. Who were your influences growing up?

A: As a child my influences were JFK and Jerry Lee Lewis (not the best role models), however I never aspired to becoming a photographer or filmmaker. That was a more recent change. Actually a complete 180! While I was in the military I started working on music and a script. When I got out, I wanted to further pursue those creative hobbies.

Q: Who do you look to for inspiration nowadays?

A: Not who, but what. My biggest inspirations come from the natural beauty around the world and more specifically our national parks. The USA has a few of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world.

Giant Arch, Canyonlands

Giant Arch, Canyonlands

Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Falls

Q: What does conservation mean to you, and how does it come into play in your life as you get older?

A: It's funny, when you're young (at least a few decades ago) no one really cared about conservation (from what I saw in NYC). That is something this generation is taking very seriously at a young age...good on them! As we get older we see things change. Mainly less water, less trees, less real food, less fresh air, and a lot more people and pollution. What was once always there, now leads to overcrowding in our national forests and parks because people want to see stars or rivers. Conservation for me means that maybe we will have these necessities a little longer if we just try to. And by all means, trying isn't enough to take us long term. We need to do!

Q: Whats it like to shoot entertainment in LA then leave to shoot national parks?

A: Take a deep breath in. Close your eyes. Exhale slowly and relax.

Yosemite, Infared 4x5

Yosemite, Infared 4x5

Weeping Rock, Zion

Weeping Rock, Zion

Q: Which 3 people you bring on your next shoot, could be dead or alive?

A: John Muir (trail advice), Ansel Adams (photography advice), and ? I really don't know. Perhaps a family member I never got to meet.

Q: You travel a lot, how do you pass the time

A: I spend most of that time driving, sadly. I listen to the bible, some music, but mostly talk to myself and plan my next trip, haha. Sometimes the quietness of the open road is really all you need.

Q: Parting words on your hopes, dreams, aspirations

A: My hopes are that communities learn how to manage their recreation spaces and clean up after themselves. My dreams are to one day have a gallery show of my film images, and my aspirations are to help inspire a new generation of film photographers.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Darwin Falls, Death Valley

Darwin Falls, Death Valley

Monolith, Monument Valley

Monolith, Monument Valley

@dtorokphoto ~ enjoy

WATTS SERENITY PARK PROJECT

TOPIC: Awesome Work by The Trust for Public Land

LOCATION: 33.9417° N, 118.2417° W

PROJECT: Building Community & Park Spaces

Dedicated to the people of Watts. Photo credit: Carla Coleman

Dedicated to the people of Watts. Photo credit: Carla Coleman

Our National Parks and the great outdoors aren't sometimes accessible for everyone, and much work is done in our cities to bring parks to the people! This beautiful project accomplished by our friends at the Trust for Public Land needs a shout out! For the 80 percent of Americans who live in or near a city, neighborhood parks offer the closest connection to nature. Yet, today there are more than 100 million people in our cities without close-to-home access to a park. As a result, an entire generation is growing up disconnected from nature and the outdoors, missing out on the fun, fitness, and relaxation that parks provide.

Called "Monitor Avenue Park" during its construction last year, the newly opened Watts Serenity Park covers barely more than an acre—but its importance to the neighborhood is out of proportion to its size.  To make the most of the space, The Trust for Public Land worked closely with the community to build the features that people wanted most. The final design includes play equipment for kids, an exercise area for adults, and a skate park for those who wanted to get radical.

The video below featuring Ronald "Kantoon" Antwine pretty much sums it up.  Kartoon reflected on the long battle to bring much-needed green space to the place he grew up. "I just knew we needed something better," he told the crowd. "[I asked myself,]  how come when I leave my neighborhood I see clean streets and greenery, but when I come back here, I'm looking at trash and weeds? I picked up the torch and I ran with it."

 

 

Laguna Wilderness VOLUNTEER DAY

TOPIC: Habitat Restoration

LOCATION: 33.5314° N, 117.7692° W

PROJECT: Volunteer Day

seasonal lakebed about to get some help

seasonal lakebed about to get some help

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s 7,000 acres are some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. Forty miles of trails lead through oak and sycamore woodlands and up onto ridges with expansive scenic vistas. Its beautiful. Visitors to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park can see California as it has existed for thousands of years. And that’s more the reason to try to preserve this habitat!

Over the last years, the California drought has caused the only two lakes in the park to dry up. In the dry lakebeds, many invasive weeds (like the horrible bull thistle, ouch!) have landed and claimed real estate. ¡No bueno! By getting in and removing all of the invasive species we can hopefully help restore this lake habitat for the El Niño rains! A lot of wildlife benefit from this preservation include Mule Deer, Long-tailed Weasel, Bobcat, Red-tailed Hawk, and many more.

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Thanks to all our friends and to Seed People's Market for supporting the event. We look forward to seeing the impact of our efforts this winter. Keep it wild. Til next time!

Zion Escape

TOPIC: Post Trade Show Shenanigans 

LOCATION: 37.2026° N, 112.9878° W

PROJECT: Making new friends in old parks

Twice a year we're lucky enough to make a trip out to a state with an abundance of rad parks: Utah.  We make this voyage for the Outdoor Retailer trade show where we get to geek out on a bunch of other brands that are making amazing things like Poler, Iron & Resin, Patagonia, Miir, Alchemy Equipment...the list goes on and on. For outdoor gear lovers like us it's like being a kid in a candy store, and every year we use this trade show as an excuse to do some adventuring, and this year we picked the coveted Zion Narrows.

There's not much we can say about the legendary Narrows that hasn't been said before.  If you want a run down on how to get out and see this incredible hike for yourself check out an amazing write up from Parks Project Ambassador Kristen aka Bearfoot Theory on her blog: Bearfoot Theory Hiking the Narrows.  All we can say is it takes some planning and some serious motivation - we woke up at 3:30am the day before our hike to wait in line at the visitors center for a permit. While half asleep in line we met a talented and super friendly photographer by the name of Trent Hancock. Here's some of the amazing pics he shared with us from the trip!       

MOST PICS BY: Trent Hancock Photography , Insta - @lionandthelady

DONNER PARTY-ING

TOPIC: Sierra Summers

LOCATION: 39.3228° N, 120.2644° W

PROJECT: Family Ties w. KC Brown

When I come up for air I expect to have the beautiful silence broken by the sound of the world.  But at sunrise in the middle of an alpine lake, the wind and the water are as quiet as my sleeping children back in the cabin.  Of course it’s not going to stay this still.  The world, and my kids, are going to wake up.  But that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

My family has been coming to Donner Lake for almost 50 years.  Before any of Ken and Ilene’s grandchildren were born and long before the great-grandchildren arrived.  Every summer, without fail, we show up.  It’s part summer vacation and part family reunion and it always feels like a homecoming.  We’ve added a ton of family members along way too, both the kind you get when you marry someone and have kids with them and the kind you get when you just love spending time with somebody so damn much that you can’t help but show up again next year.  

The Donner Lake State Park is tucked away nicely on Highway 80 in the Tahoe National Forest.  It’s one of a hundred or so lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that will never be as famous as big brother up the road.  Any time I tell someone I’m going to Donner Lake they inevitably respond, “Donner?  Like, the Donner Party?”  Yeah.  An unfortunate namesake for sure but party isn’t far off the mark.

There are plenty of ways for the 70(ish) of us to spend our Summer vacation, but it always revolves around the park.  Most days are spent sitting lakeside sunning and swimming and drinking and reading and drinking some more.  The annual horseshoe tournament is a serious affair, complete with brackets, leather trophies and several jugs of Yucca Flats (basically just wonderful sugary tequila with some lemons and limes).  The brave among us swim or bike or run in the annual triathlon, and you can count on the rest of us hanging out at the finish line, drinks in hand.  

You can’t spend every day at the beach though, and that’s where the mountains come in handy.  The lake itself sits at the bottom of a bowl made up of rocks and pine trees.  Pick a direction and look up.  That’s a good place for a hike.  As kids we used to start at the bottom down by the lake and hike up to the railroad tracks but now that we can drive we aim higher.  To the west is the Mt. Judah Loop.  A five minute drive puts you at the trailhead and an hour later you’re overlooking the lake and all the way into Truckee.  Of course if it’s a bigger adventure you’re after you can always jump on the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs right through here. The north and south summits also offer heartbreakingly beautiful views as well if you can get to them.  And there is the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe and the ski resorts all within a very short drive if you’re up for it.

These places matter.  Nature is not here for the benefit of my family but it certainly does bring us together.  The park, and the sand and the water and the trees, have become home.  For me, preserving and protecting our natural spaces is as much about preserving and protecting the family ties that bind.  It’s hard to imagine my family without this place, and I’m not sure I want to.  My boys will grow up here, even though they will never live here.  This lake and this park will remain long after I’m gone, but with a little luck, my family will always be there to live and laugh and love with the gentle waves of icy Sierra water lapping at their feet.

RIMS OF CANYONS & LANDS

TOPIC: Canyonlands National Park

LOCATION: 38.1669° N, 109.7597° W

PROJECT: Utah Park Reconnaissance by Jennifer Sherowski

Situated in southern Utah about a half hour from the mountain-biking Mecca of Moab, Canyonlands National Park is an explosion of red and purple rock, sagebrush, dead and live pinions twisted by the wind. As Utah’s biggest National Park, it’s a 500-plus square mile labyrinth of chasms created slowly, over eons, by the erosive waters of the Colorado and Green Rivers. 

If you’re driving through Utah on I70, you barely need to lift a finger to see the park. Just turn south at the 191 and give it 20 miles. There you’ll be at the Canyonlands access road, which winds solemnly back into the burnt-red desert.

You come upon the canyons themselves suddenly—almost accidentally—after driving over a sprawling expanse of flat. A couple of Park Service signs and then BOOM—you’re at the rim of an abyss. Find a campsite. Set up your tent. And then, real quick before dusk rolls in, make your way to the nearest rim. Watching the sun set over Canyonlands is to know light in every color of the spectrum and the most complete silence you’ve ever experienced.

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Portland based Jennifer Sherowski is a former professional snowboarder and also an incredible adventure writer.  Check her out at http://jennifersherowski.com/ and follow her awesome adventures @jensherowski because you should.


PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK

TOPIC: #Radpark Adventures

LOCATION: 35.0881° N, 109.8064° W

PROJECT: Reconnaissance By Benjamin Stanley

Petrified Forest is one of the country's most overlooked and underrated National Parks. Located in northeast Arizona, the park is roughly 146 square miles and split into two "halves," the southern "rainbow forest"  and the northern "painted desert." There are no campsites in the park, and despite being small by national park standards - you could easily spend the whole day exploring.

My wife and I had quit our jobs and decided to spend the summer road tripping around the country. We made a "pit stop" of Petrified Forest on our way to the Grand Canyon, but the few hours we spent there made it one of our favorite destinations. Had we not run out of daylight, we could have spent several more hours exploring.

We entered from the south and started out at the Rainbow Forest Museum to take in some great history and science behind the park's plethora of petrified wood. Left over from the late Triassic period, these fallen trees have slowly turned to stone through permineralization. Over the eons minerals slowly replaced the organic matter, giving the trees a colorful and glossy appearance. The visitor center also has some great dinosaur displays, including the skull of a Phytosaur that once roamed the park. Who doesn't love dinosaurs? As we moved north through the park, the petrified wood became less common and we entered the badlands. If you have only a few hours to see the park, be sure to hike the Blue Mesa trail for some great views of the Painted Desert.

Only about three and a half hours from the Grand Canyon, and 20 minutes from Holbrook, Petrified Forest is an absolute must see!


SHREDDING GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

TOPIC: #Radpark Adventures

LOCATION: 37.7329° N, 105.5121° W

PROJECT: Dune Reconnaissance 

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We set out to the southwest from central Colorado on a sunny afternoon chasing a story we heard about sandsurfing a National Park. Who would have thought there would be perfect 300ft sand slopes pouring down into the cool running waters of a creek?  

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve was established by an act of the United States Congress on September 13, 2004.  The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries.  Sure there are other dunes in most western states in the US, but none as dramatic and tall, a whopping 750 feet in elevation! 

How they form you ask? Winds picked up sand particles from the lake and river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo mountain Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily and this combination of opposing winds, a huge supply of sand from the valley floor, and the sand recycling action of the creeks, are all part of the reason that these are the tallest dunes in North America.  And for that reason, they also make perfect slopes to slide down. The following photos are what ensued that day. . .

Fun Fact: According to a recent Soundscape Study conducted by the National Park Service, this park is the quietest national park in the 48 contiguous United States, shhh . . . 

GRAND CANYON PASSAGE

TOPIC: Park Adventures

LOCATION: 36.1000° N, 112.1000° W

PROJECT: Canyon Reconnassiance by Jennifer Sherowski 

I’ve always loved the Southwest. The air smells like dust and piñon, and sunsets drip amber light down onto the rocks like nectar. It’s awash in an austere beauty, and especially during the shoulder seasons—i.e. spring and fall—the Southwest is one of my favorite places to camp and explore. 

With this in mind, my friend/fellow adventurer Trycia Byrnes and I flew into Phoenix in the early autumn and drove north past Flagstaff to a place I’d somehow not yet been: Grand Canyon National Park.

At 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, this colossal fissure exposes nearly 2 million years of geological history. It’s one of the 7 wonders of the natural world for a reason! And a whopping 4.5 million people make the trek to see it every year. It’s a place full of history: geologic history—and human history. Native tribes have inhabited the place for thousands of years, and it’s been a National Park for a cool century (the Grand Canyon was first established as a National Monument by President by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, and then, 11 years later in 1919, was designated Grand Canyon National Park by an official act of congress).

Now, everyone knows what the Grand Canyon looks like. We’ve seen pictures. But you go to the Grand Canyon for something else, like going on a pilgrimage. You go in order to look down into the pit and contemplate it solitarily. What you wind up seeing there is as much what’s within yourself as what’s before you—kinda like staring into a pile of burning embers.

Standing on the rim for the first time, though, I had to admit that looking at the Grand Canyon WAS a little bit like just looking at the photo. Way up there on the precipice, there’s a haze in the distance between you and the landscape, and you are very, very far away.

So, outfitted with heavy packs, we stumbled 9 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to see what things looked like from the very bottom. Even a mile down the trail, we both agreed that this was the only way see the “real” canyon. You get a sense of perspective, inspecting layers of rock first-hand as you step past them and feeling like an insignificant spec sneaking beneath looming cliffs that wear the stains of the ages.

After many, many, many switchbacks, we emerged onto a private nook of a beach, and with relief stuck our sore feet into the delicious cold waters of the Colorado River. I’m sure John Wesley Powell peeled off his dust-caked infantry socks and did the same on his expedition 150 years ago, don’t you think? While resting and cooling off, we gaped up at the rim towering over our heads and intuitively knew, or maybe suspected, the tiny place where we fit in the immense scheme of geology around us.

After a snooze and a granola bar, we hoofed it back to our campsite five miles up at Phantom Ranch. On the way, a savage downpour drove us into the shelter of an overhang. And that wasn’t the last of the storm. That night, we ate our camp dinner in the dark as a powerful electrical storm raged all around us, thunder bouncing off the cliff walls and lightening sparking up the esplanade. It was a wild one!

The next day, so sore we could barely walk, we hobbled the 4 miles back up to the rim to reclaim our rental car, and then we journeyed south toward Sedona in search of a festive meal. After contemplating the trip and the luminous desert sunset before us, we ate pizza and sipped cocktails until tipsy in celebration of life and all those other things. I remember what we were drinking: gin and soda with fresh lime, ginger, and sage. It was like they’d bottled the desert and served it up in a highball glass. 

Although quick, it was an amazing journey—kinda cosmic. In fact, the Grand Canyon is a cosmic place—where us non-“devout” folks go to appreciate the mysteries of the universe.

 

Portland based Jennifer  Sherowski is a former professional snowboarder and also an incredible adventure writer.  Check her out at http://jennifersherowski.com/ and follow her awesome adventures @jensherowski because you should.

 

 

JOSHUA "BEARCHIEF" EDWARD BARRON

TOPIC: Ambassadors

LOCATION: 34.1039° N, 118.6025° W

PROJECT: #adventuresforbearchief

At Parks Project we're incredibly grateful for each person that supports us. Whether it's volunteer days, being an ambassador, or sporting our goods we appreciate every opportunity we get to engage with people who love the outdoors as much as we do.  

One of those people was Joshua Edward Barron, and we were lucky enough to get to know more about him through his awesome friend and fellow supporter Sarah Ramirez.

Joshua was a genuine guy, with a contagious smile. He was a protector for anyone he cared about. He absolutely loved life more than anyone I've ever met. He always tried his best to get others to live the way he did; happy, carefree, and most importantly self loving. Joshua comes from a very close family, the kind of family everyone wants to be apart of because they're so caring and accepting. He has a sister, Jessie, his brother Jake, Michele and John are his parents. Joshua loved his family tremendously. I don't believe he ever went a day without talking about them or to them. 

Joshua was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps where he served as an Aircrew chief on a MV-22 Osprey stationed in Miramar, San Diego, CA. Josh had just left on his deployment for 7 long months and despite the hardships that come with deploying, Joshua was so happy to be able to travel. A short week after they left, the training accident in Hawaii happened, taking his beautiful soul from this world, he paid the ultimate sacrifice and did so because "You're worth it." If Joshua was not flying (which he loved and was so proud to do) he was off adventuring in this beautiful state. A lot of times Josh went off to the mountains by himself, so that he could just be one with nature and reflect. Other times it was with his family, with me, or with his other friends, finding a new place to hike, chase waterfalls, or day dream about them. He called them #jbnaturequest because he said he could never get enough of the outdoors. He had a passion for the outdoors and animals, that feeling was passed along from his Father. He left this world a better place. He is a true hero, and he is our hero! Joshua is missed everyday, and he will never be forgotten.

Forever in our hearts, Joshua "Bearchief" Edward Barron. #adventuresforbearchief #jbnaturequest 

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

TOPIC: Volunteer Day

LOCATION: 34.1039° N, 118.6025° W

PROJECT: Backbone Trail

June 6, 2015 is American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®, the country’s largest celebration of trails.  National Trails Day events take place in every state across the country and include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, stewardship projects and more. To celebrate, we got a group out onto the backbone trail in the Santa Monica Mountains to fix some trail!



TENNESSEE VALLEY TRAIL DAY

TOPIC: Volunteer Day

LOCATION: 37.8611° N, 122.5342° W

PROJECT: Golden Gate National Recreation Area - Trail Restoration

Parks Project joined the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy to met up with our friends from Prooflab and GoodPeople to fix some trail.  Tennessee Valley is Marin Headland's most popular trailhead and is heavily used by hikers, bikers and equestrians alike. The trail curves along the valley floor to the ocean and is an easy 4 mile out-and-back hike, and a great place to head for an afternoon picnic.

The Tennessee Valley lower trail has sunk from the combination of lots of use and its wet location. Our goal was to fill in the trail to ensure it doesn't pool up with water and wash away. We loaded in 10 cubic yards of shale/dirt fill by wheelbarrow to raise and level the trail. This awesome group represented the largest age spread in the history of our volunteer days as we had an 8yr old and a 70yr old too, my dad!.

See you next time and a huge thank you to all the volunteers supporting our #radparks!

CHANNEL ISLANDS RESTORATION V.2

TOPIC: Three-Day Volunteer Trip

LOCATION: 34.0161° N, 119.8039° W

PROJECT: Island Adventure & Habitat Restoration

The Parks Project team is honored to work closely with various park groups, we tip our hats to the work they do everyday. Just the other week, we were given the chance to join a group from Channel Islands Restoration to voyage out to the islands to do some volunteer work, how could we say no?!  

Channel Islands Restoration protects rare and endangered plants and animals by restoring habitat in sensitive and unique natural areas on the California Channel Islands and adjacent mainland.

We found it fascinating that the islands have remained so pure and desolate, and much of the National Park is off limits to visitors.  We got an exclusive look at some of these coves and sites, and also got to pitch in to restore some of the natural habitat to keep these gems the way they should be.  Check out a few of these amazing photos, definitely a bucket list trip come join us next time!

AMBASSADOR PROFILE: ALYX SCHWARZ

TOPIC: Shoestring Adventures

LOCATION: Roaming . . .

PROJECT: Wanderlusting

How and when did you start Shoestring Adventures? What was the purpose?

Three years ago at 26, I developed a bad case of wanderlust while recovering from back surgery. Ever since, I have devoted my weekends to exploring my home state of California and blog about my experiences on ShoestringAdventures.com, both to celebrate my recovery and to encourage other to get outdoors!

How has it changed? What continues to be your inspiration?

Last year, I founded Shoestring Adventures LA, a free Meetup community for LA weekend warriors. This year, my passion grew into a business, organizing camping trips for weekend warriors throughout California. Shoestring Adventures is the antidote to #FOMO, a community where digital friends can connect in the outdoors!

I'm inspired by the adventurers I meet, whether they climb summits, build Altoid tin first aid kits, photograph stars or study rocks. Nature is the common thread that brings us together, but each person contributes their own experiences to make the community stronger as a whole.

Tell us about your most recent trip.

In February, Shoestring Adventures spent a weekend exploring Anza Borrego, just in time for desert wildflower season! Anza Borrego is the largest state park in California, located right outside of San Diego, yet not many folks seem to know about it. We explored a slot canyon, wind caves and a palm oasis. I cannot wait to go back!

Now, I am looking forward to the next weekend trip April 10-12 in Death Valley National Park. Join us!

What is the most rewarding thing about hosting a trip?

I've had the privilege of taking a handful of people on their first hike or their first camping trip. I get so much joy from watching their eyes light up at the site of a waterfall or their first summit vista. The outdoors has taught me about strength and confidence, and I'm grateful to share these transformative experiences with others.

Who is on your dream team if you were to have a dream trip to Yosemite, and why? (They can be alive or dead.)

My Austrian grandfather, Opa, who I've only met through watching home videos. Like me, he's usually the one behind the camera. It's amazing to look through his lens and recognize so much of my adventurous spirit.

Photographer Ansel Adams, who fell in love with Yosemite on his first visit at age 14 and supported preservation of the park through his work. His photography is not just about capturing the perfect landscape. It is an invitation to experience an intimate moment with nature. I'd like to learn a thing or two about that from the master.

Naturalist John Muir, who played a crucial role in the creation of Yosemite as a national park. I'd love to go back and meet the young man before the legend, the man whose curiosity and passion led to an entire movement.

Who are some of your favorite bloggers/grammers, what is it about them that makes their content so compelling?

I have many muses, but these 3 amazing women have empowered me to venture out on my first solo journey this year:

Jillian Lukiwski is a Canadian-born metalsmith, writer and photographer. Her self-portraits portray feminine strength and often transport me from where I stand to a place of peace and beauty.

Gale Straub quit her office job to travel the United States with her boyfriend Jon Gaffney for 1 year. Her website She-Explores.com has quickly grown into a community of inspiring women who share a similar passion for the outdoors.

Jaymie Shearer is a lifestyle photographer and creator of MugLifeProject.com, exploring the power of community from the road. Together, we hosted a weekend trip in the Alabama Hills, one of Jaymie's favorite places in California. I'm inspired by her ability to build community wherever she goes. She has taught me that going "solo" doesn't always mean going alone.

In all your experience getting outside, what do you think we can all do to make a difference?

Leave it better than you found it! I have a little habit of picking up at least one piece of trash on every hike. Together, we can make a huge impact.

Also, volunteer for your local park! Whether you plant trees or restore a trail, you will gain a new appreciation for all the hard work that must be done for our enjoyment of that space. If you can, join the next Parks Project Volunteer Day!

Keep up w/ Alyx, I don't see a reason why you wouldn't do so...

Website: www.shoestringadventures.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/shoestringadventures

Twitter: www.twitter.com/shoestringadvs

Facebook: www.facebook.com/shoestringadventures

AMBASSADOR PROFILE: JOSH MCNAIR

TOPIC:  Check in w/ Josh of California Through My Lense

LOCATION:  33.8972° N, 117.4217° W

PROJECT: Exploring the Golden State  

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am a constant adventure that is fueled by donuts. I love to travel, hike and photograph all of the beautiful places this world has to offer and live by the motto "you will never regret the times you chose memories over money.”

What inspired you to create CaliforniaThroughMyLens.com?

I am always traveling and have a hard time stopping, as I am sure my wife could attest to. So I was looking for an outlet for that adventurous spirit. I had just gotten into photography and knew I wouldn't make a name for myself just by creating another generic travel blog, plus I didn't have the money to travel the world. So because of that I just set out to document and see as much of California as I could see. This was almost 4 years ago and was one of the best decisions I ever made. This blog has introduced me to good friends, let me be a part of amazing things, pushed me to test my athletic limits and was seen by over one million unique people in 2014. All of that is a testament to the amazing things California has to offer and I am truly blessed to be able to inspire others to see what their own state has available to them. 

Bishop Creek, Inyo

Bishop Creek, Inyo

California Coastal Bluffs

California Coastal Bluffs

Saddleback Butte

Saddleback Butte