Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hiking Bell Rock In Sedona, Arizona

To many, hiking to Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona is a chance for spiritual renewal and energy. For those unfamiliar with the New Age movement, Bell Rock is one of the vortexes that surround the Sedona area. I had never heard of a vortex before arriving in Sedona, By the time I left, I learned that many consider a vortex an area of concentrated energy rising from the earth. Whether or not you believe in the metaphysical, there is no denying that these vortexes possess a beauty that can't be denied.

The hike to Bell Rock is well marked and relatively easy to climb. To go directly to Bell Rock, stay left when the Bell Rock Pathway intercepts with the Courthouse Butte Loop. Cairns mark the easiest way to the halfway point of Bell Rock which is about as high as you can safely climb. However, even without following the cairns, it's easy to find a path.

Halfway up, there are a few spots to relax and feel the energy. The views of the surrounding areas are amazing.


After we hiked up Bell Rock, we did the 4.5 mile Courthouse Butte Loop which circles Bell Rock. Though some guides rate the trail easy to moderate, I thought it was easy. The most difficult part was the climb to Bell Rock but even that wasn't bad.

Getting there

South of Sedona take Highway 89A to the Y at Highway 179. Take Highway 179 south about 6.4 miles. Parking lot is on the left just before Bell Rock Boulevard and the trailhead is on the north end of the parking lot. Be prepared to pay a small daily fee at the kiosk in the parking lot.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Must Try Simple Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show 2017

Who knows where my next adventure will take me. One thing I do know is that it takes the right gear to get me there.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Outdoor Retailer Show for the first time. Since it is held in my hometown, I have always wanted to get an entrance pass. Luckily, having an outdoor blog gave me the credentials I needed to get in. 

I have to admit, I was overwhelmed with what I saw. I had no idea what I would write about and have had to spend the last few weeks sorting through all of the literature I gathered. In the end, all I could think about were a few of the products I would use on a regular basis. Sure, an air filled bag that might save my life in an avalanche on a backcountry adventure sounds amazing but I realized those adventures are few and far in between. What I really wanted were those things I would use on my weekly hikes.

Kahtoola Gaiters

Not surprisingly, the top item on my list for winter hiking were the new Kahtoola Gaiters. The awesome thing about the gaiters is that they have clips that I can attach to my Kahtoola Microspikes. That way, I can unzip the gaiters but leave them attached to my microspikes when not in use. The fabric feels like it would do well in the snow. As soon as I purchase a pair, I will be sure to review them. I can't wait until they are available.

Abisko Trekking Tights by Fjällräven

Since I started incorporating trail running with my hiking, I like wearing tights to make movement easier. I love the idea behind the Fjällräven Trekking Tights. They have built in knee and butt waterproof pads so I can sit or kneel in the snow. Always nice for those times I want to stop for a snack or a quick rest. I love that they are women's specific. The only drawback is that I couldn't buy a pair at the show.

Icebug Studded Boots

I spent a lot of time at the Icebug booth. I got to try a pair of the studded boots on a block of ice. It's not the same as using them hiking so I can't say how well the studs work in a real life situation. However, I loved the idea behind the Icebug Studded Boots. They have built in retractable studs. This means I wouldn't have to take off my spikes on the exposed rocky parts of winter trails and wouldn't have to worry about the studs wearing down on hard surfaces. Definitely on my want list.

Bottle Bright by HydraPak

The winner of my simple but most useful items is the Bottle Bright by Hydrapak. I've been looking for something that would clean my hydration bladders. For those who use hydration bladders, you know how stale they can get inside which greatly impacts the taste of water. The Bottle Bright comes in easy to use tablets that you put inside of the bladder. Add water and it cleans. I was lucky enough to snag a sample so I will be reviewing it on my blog soon. The Bottle Bright is available to purchase on Amazon or on the company website.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My Favorite Outdoor Gadgets of CES 2017

Solos Smartglasses

For those who have never been to the Consumer Electronics Show, I can't begin to tell you how overwhelming it is. With the entire Las Vegas Convention Center to cover as well as exhibits at the Venetian Hotel, it is nearly impossible to see everything. This is my third year attending the CES show and I love the wearable technology which means I spend most of my time at the Venetian.

I love to share with other outdoor enthusiasts the awesome finds at the CES show. It's so hard to choose favorites but it always boils down to what I would actually use. This means I look for both innovative and practical products. To the left, I'm wearing my favorite innovative gadget of the show, the Solos Smart glasses.

     For the Cyclist

Solos Smart Glasses 

One of the things about seeing products at CES is that I never know if they will really work in a practical environment. I have high hopes for Solos Smart glasses for cycling. When paired with a smartphone, the glasses have a display right on the lens that show how fast I'm going on my bike. The best thing is that it does this without obstructing my vision of the road. The only drawback I see with this is that the glasses felt like they were squeezing enough that I worry about wearing them too long. These are not available yet to the general public but I hope the company seriously considers comfort along with the cool technology.

 Linx Smart Cycling Helmet by Coros

Okay runners and swimmers, I'm not ignoring you this show but two favorite gadgets fell in the cycling department. The Linx Smart Cycling Helmet by Coros finally has it figured out in the music department. The built in earbuds work through bone conduction technology so you don't have to put an earbud in your ear and can still hear the traffic coming up behind you during a ride. I rarely if ever listen to music while biking as my life is more important than my music. I would love to try this helmet on a ride. Not only are the earphones integrated but the helmet comes with an app to manage GPS ride details. It will also integrate with other riding apps. I can also hear my navigation through the headphones. I want one of these for my next ride.

For the Skier

My Core Heated Jacket

One of the cool things about wearable technology is the ability to add heating coils inside of clothing.  Some ski days, I get so cold, I have to leave early. The My Core Heated Women's Jacket could solve my problem. With heating coils near the pulse point of the wrist, the theory is that it could keep an core warm. I have no idea if it works but it sure is enticing and the best thing is that it's already available on Amazon.

For the Runner

AiQ Smart Clothing

Wearable technology works for so many sports. AiQ Smart Clothing integrates electronics with clothing fibers so runners and other athletes will be able keep track of heart rate and other metrics just by wearing athletic clothing. While still in development, I can't wait to see how it will work.

For the Hiker and Backpacker

re-fuel PowerBiner 

For those who follow my blog, you already know I love to hike. I do a lot of solo hiking which means I rely on my phone for emergencies. If it dies, I'm in trouble. I usually carry an extra battery charger with me but the idea of having a carabiner and charger in one with the re-fuel PowerBiner is awesome. No hiker or backpacker likes to carry extra weight so any gadget that is multipurpose is a bonus. The rechargeable power bank has 3000mAh of power. That is usually enough power to charge my Samsung Galaxy once.

TomTom Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch
The TomTom Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch is really a multi-sport outdoor watch as it tracks heart rate, speed, distance, and even altitude. What's most appealing is the idea of starting it at the beginning of my hike and having the navigation ability to get me back to my car. It can also show me  a route so I can discover new trails. It will definitely be on my next gift list.

For the Adventure Traveler

JamBag Backpack 

I travel enough that I keep a backpack ready at all times. I love the idea of the JamBag Backpack. It has an internal battery pack so I can keep my devices charged while on the go. It also has built in Bluetooth speakers for those who like music. I like the pocket for my tablet with extra padding for protection. The best part of the bag is the security pocket along the back. I can put my money and valuables in the pocket and when I put the backpack on, it sits along my back so a thief can't reach in and grab it like the outside pockets. I'm excited that this is already available on Amazon and will soon be in office supply stores.

Not a sponsored post though post contains affiliate links.