Happy Friday, you guys! Not sure about the rest of the country, but here in Seattle fall has definitely arrived. I can feel that snap in the air and each day feels just a tiny bit shorter than the one before. With this in mind, I decided to take a quick impromptu climbing trip in the middle of the week to celebrate the gorgeous fall weather and get in as much outdoor time as possible before the rain starts. In other words… I played hooky! And it was totally glorious. I watch the sunset (and rise) over the North Cascades, which are referred to as the American Alps, and completed the longest, hardest climb I’ve ever undertaken. Now that I’m back in Seattle, I am so content and inspired by the trip.
In case you missed it, here’s what happened on the blog this week:
When it comes to natural ephemera, I’m a bit of a hoarder. We’re talking rocks, driftwood, bits of seaglass… anything that catches my eye during one of my many beach walks and hikes. I have jars and jars of these treasures, but they haven’t ever served a purpose in my life other than collecting dust. Well, that’s until now — today I’ve partnered with HP to share how to transform your special pieces of ephemera into functional drawer pulls for your home!
One of my favorite things about summer is being able to get out of the gym and exercise outdoors! Don’t get me wrong, I love getting in some quality treadmill time, but how can you beat running outside on a gorgeous summer day? While I love my gym wardrobe, sometimes strappy neon is not what I want to be jogging around the city in. That’s why I’m so excited about this week’s giveaway with Crane & Lion!
Crane & Lion is all about combining fashion and fitness for activewear that’s versatile enough to transition for any kind of day. It all looks like actual clothing! So instead of feeling super conspicuous on the walk to pilates, you’ll actually fit in and just be another part of the urban sidewalk flow.
I love how all the pieces in their fall line are made to mix and match. With one of the classiest color palates I’ve seen in fitness clothing, I could throw this whole collection into a suitcase and feel ready for a business meeting or yoga retreat.
Enter below for 7 chances to win. One winner will be chosen at random by Tuesday August 25 at 10:30 am PST. Open to US residents only. Winner will receive 1 $250 gift card to shop Crane & Lion. Good luck!
I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a long time, but after taking a bit of a tumble this weekend, I felt like it was a really good time to explain why I’m a rock climber…
So many people find it surprising that I’m a climber upon first meeting me, particularly when we’re meeting via the blog or social media. It’s pretty safe to say that the Jojotastic-version of Joanna is different than weekend-in-the-mountains Joanna… the latter version is much less girly, or as we call it in the climbing world, I’m a bit of a dirt bagger. I don’t mind eating an apple before it’s been washed (and after it’s taken a tumble down some rocks), I can go days without showering if I have to, and I really freaking love sleeping under the stars. I’ve always debated how much of that facet of my life to share in this space — I’m not exactly an outdoors blogger, nor do I want to be one. Mostly, I just want to share my store of how climbing fuels me as a person and as a creative.
The fact is that I feel vastly more creative when I’ve spent time outdoors. During my time in Philly, I really struggled with this because I was doing amazing design work, but not filling my tank at all. I didn’t have friends who wanted to go hiking or climbing, so I just sort of… stopped doing what I love. This coincided with some really painful emotional issues like major depression, too. Eventually, I reached a point where I was totally depleted and just could not produce anymore. I was running on empty and it was a bad scene. It felt like I had nothing. My move to California definitely helped in this regard — as soon as I relocated, I was hiking a lot, spending time at the beach, that sort of thing… but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t rock climbing. When I moved back to Seattle in March that I resumed my pattern of climbing 3-5 times a week. Now that I’m back in the climbing gym and going on outdoor trips every weekend, I feel incredible, like I can tackle freaking ANYTHING.
And that’s the thing…
Climbing makes me feel insanely powerful. The feeling is super straightforward: if I can go up there, I can do anything. This gives me a sense of power, not just in climbing, but in every facet of my life. I’m confident in business, my personal worth, relationships… I know that deep down, I’ve GOT this because I climb MOUNTAINS. Put another way, I feel so much more secure and confident with myself as a person when I’m climbing consistently. There’s almost this brute force, primal element to it, to be honest. Kinda feels a bit caveman-y, actually. And I love it. When I’m not climbing, I start to second-guess myself and my abilities, something that never feels good.
Then there’s my happiness level when I’m climbing consistently and regularly. It’s not even just happiness, but zen. The best way to describe it is a feeling similar to how runners describe their high post-run or how yoga practicers feel totally blissed out after a good session. And I’m not alone in this thinking; the NY Times recently shared this article about how even just walking in nature changes the brain. Lots of food for thought.
And lastly, I’ve never really thought of myself as a person who ‘needs’ that adrenaline rush, but when I really sit and think about it… I totally am. I crave adventure. My bones and my soul and my heart need it in a very pure way. Combine this with my need to always push myself to be better and climbing is just what I’ve always needed. My mantra is to always be pushing myself, always be reaching for more and more, never letting myself grow complacent. Ever.
So really, it shouldn’t be a surprise at all that I positively adore being a climber. Even now, as I sit here writing this with an ice pack on my knee and an MRI scheduled for Saturday, all I can think about is when I can get back out there. Yes, I took a big fall this weekend, but no, it’s not going to affect how or why I climb at all. If anything, this minor setback will fuel me to get back onto the rock stronger than ever before.
When it comes to travel, I have two schools of thought: living like a local via Airbnb and dirt-bagging it by camping. I’m a mix of hi/lo, luxe and earthy. Plus, if I’m camping, often that means I’m also climbing… which equals one very happy Joanna. So you can imagine my excitement to recently discover Hipcamp, which is like Airbnb but with campgrounds, ranches, farms, even a vineyard! This is definitely the option for the adventurous of heart.
As I was browsing Hipcamp for photos to include in this post, I maaaay have favorited about 20 different locations for future adventures. All I can think about is loading up my pack and going… anywhere!
I feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog this week — instead I’m caught up in photoshoots and boys and climbing and witnessing as many sunsets as possible. In reality, this means that I’m off living my life, something of which I am fiercely proud. In the past, it was all too easy for me to stay online and ‘connected,’ but without actually connecting with anyone or anything. It’s a trap, this thing we call the internet, social media, etc. I’m over this false sense of connection and instead am being fueled by the outdoors. This week I grabbed my camera on a whim and went to a local spot called Discovery Park to take in the sunset — this is what I witnessed.
Ash Huang is an independent designer, illustrator and writer. You can find her at ashsmash.com or on Twitter as @ashsmash. Ash spends much of her time clacking away at her laptop and picking up strange hobbies. You may mistake her for a giant squirrel and/or cookie monster. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Sedona is one of my favorite places on Earth. I visited Sedona for the first time thirteen years ago and it made such an impact on me that I’ve centered a whole cross country road trip on getting there. It’s definitely a hiking town. But with a plethora of hikes to choose from, I was paralyzed, as I only had three days to hit the trails. Cue hours of intense research. There’s something for everyone — easy scenic views, scrambles up slide rock, wending through canyons.
Broken Arrow Trail
How long: 3.5 miles round trip, we ended up turning back after a mile or so because of time constraints.
This trail is an intimate hike very close to Sedona’s city center. The drive in is rugged (no pavement… some artful driving is required) and only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time. You’ll see a lot of jeep tours coming in, but they’re separated from the walking/mountain biking trail. Everyone is very polite and will tell you how many vehicles are in their party. Take Morgan Road from 179 and drive all the way to the end. Where it seems to just be dirt? Drive through there. This will take you to a parking lot. I did this in a Toyota Echo and saw a fair share of Priuses, so you’ll be okay.
This hike is quiet and stunning. You get to see formations up close. The trail is a little less formal, going over stretches of rock. Look for white marks that will lead you back to the path.
Airport Mesa Loop
How long: 3.5 miles round trip
This is the longest hike we did. It’s great for dizzying views of the city. Watch prop planes land at the top of the mesa and see many of Sedona’s most famous rock formations. I suggest going in the morning, the light over the land is stunning.
How to get there: From 89A, follow signs for the airport. To the left, you’ll see a parking lot. This is the beginning of the trailhead. However, before you do that, I’d suggest you keep driving up to the top of the mesa. There’s a big parking lot to the left, and a scenic view spot.
Come back down and park in the trailhead parking lot. To your immediate left is the Airport vortex. You’ll know because there will probably be people on it. Sedona is famous for vortexes, which are tunnels of uplifting energy. I’m dubious, but it was hard to be anything but uplifted with a view like this.
Walk the trail from here. It’s a slow and steady climb with very little dramatic incline.
There are options for other trails towards the north side of the loop. I was getting hangry, so we continued on the trail. It ends across the street from the trailhead parking lot. Continue reading “Hiking Sedona”→