How to Prepare for a Backpacking Trip

Please be aware that clicking any links or purchasing from links may result in Sara receiving compensation. This is at no cost to you and helps Sara continue to share on Sustaining Sara. Thank you!

Hi all! Now that is it May, I need to start preparing for my second trip backpacking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Last year we were able to reserve a few backcountry sites to backpack the lakeshore, but this time around we prepared ahead of time (see Top 5 Things to Know Before Hiking Pictured Rocks) to reserve backcountry permits to make sure we hike from Grand Sable Visitor Center to Minors Castle (almost the whole lakeshore)!  There are a few things I am doing to make sure I am ready for this trip and I had better start now rather than later. Here are my tips to prepare for your backpacking trip!

  1. Get in shape

I was in a lot better shape last year and I was still tired after each day of hiking. This year…I need to start taking on more mileage before I hike 7.3 miles a day for fun. On top of just in general needing to get in shape, taking on so many miles consecutively and so soon can lead to injury if not properly prepared. Everyone is different, do your research and prepare your own body accordingly. I know that for myself, I need to do something to get in shape and prepare my body for my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore trip.

If you are planning a longer hiking trip make sure your body can handle the work-load involved in your scenic hike!

  1. Get your gear together
The fellas use our gear as a bed is we leave it out for them to play with.
The Fellas cuddling with our backpacking gear when it’s not in storage.

If you are just starting out on your first backpacking trip you have A LOT to prepare for. Even if you are a seasoned backpacker you know how much planning it takes to make sure you are ready for comfort in the backcountry. You should do plenty of research on what others take into the backcountry and even think about additional things that would make yourself comfortable and happy! Here are things I take backpacking with me:

If you have your gear organized year round then this is not too much of a problem. Personally I use totes to put all my things in except my sleeping bag which I don’t want to squish. I keep my sleeping bag outside of storage because my dogs love cuddling it. People may use more, less, or liter gear but the above is what I take with me into the backcountry.

  1. Upgrade gear as needed

While I am loving my gear, there are a few things that we are upgrading/ changing based on different desires or needs:

  • Charlie is looking at getting a tent instead of bringing out his hammock setup again. He just decided that the hammock surrounded by the bug net and tarp was too constricting and did not provide enough privacy.
  • I am looking at changing or nixing my pillow. With my hammock I just don’t need it and I just wake up cuddling it like a teddy bear anyway.

Changing up your gear list is up to you and your preferences, don’t let anyone tell you different!

  1. Shakedown Hike

Now you have your gear together. You’re packed up and eager. Now it is time for a practice run. 

Hike with your bag. Overnight with your supplies. Is your bag too heavy for you? Did you pack some unnecessary items? Forget something you really need? Figure this out now and get rid of anything you don’t need. This is also a great way to practice wearing your backpack and make sure it is the right one for you! See Rachel’s How Not to Pack for A Pictured Rock Hiking Trip to really understand the importance of packing.

  1. Prepare a main point of contact 

I have said this before and I will say it again; make sure someone knows where you are and your itinerary! When Charlie and I leave for any type of trip we need to get a dog sitter and that is normally a family member. When we leave for a trip we know we may have limited cell service we make sure that this family member is prepared with our itinerary with notes on when we will be able to contact them and what to do if we do not contact them. A satellite phone would also help in these situation and hopefully by the time we do this trip we will have a Garmin InReach or InReach Mini. STILL, these phones are not always 100 percent reliable and your point of contact should be told that!

These tips for preparing for your backpacking trip are only the things primarily on my mind right now. Make sure to always do your own research and to make sure you are comfortable with your plans and your gear before isolating yourself in the backcountry. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you have so much fun!

Once on trail I will make sure to share as many photos and tips as possible! I will let you know how the trip went right here on the blog and don’t forget to read my first experience hiking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; Part 1 and Part 2. And follow my adventures on Instagram!

Love,

Sara

Four Best Ways to Enjoy Joshua Tree National Park

Hey, all! A huge part of my personal reset was a desert getaway/girls trip that I was blessed to take with some of my best girlfriends. While just being with this group of high-achieving women is enough to recharge my soul, the activities and adventures we went on put me in the moment and taught me to appreciate that. In this post I want to share with you some of the things we did to accomplish a sense of adventure and piece-of-mind.

  1. Treat yourself to a Desert Oasis Airbnb

For our trip to Joshua Tree we chose to rent an Airbnb in Twenty Nine Palms which came out to a reasonable price for three nights when split between four people. We made sure to choose a rental home that allowed privacy, beauty, and of course a hot tub. The landscaping was beautiful at this home and in the evenings we enjoyed watching the sunset, gossiping around a campfire, and drinking wine in the hot tub.

Cactus, desert landscaping, oasis
Rock garden, cacti, and ornaments that beatified the outdoor space of our Airbnb.

The property was fenced in to deter animals and protect the fragile plants. The home was surrounded by rock gardens and the most beautiful golden barrel cacti. While the outside of the home was scattered with beautiful rocks, chimes, and scavenged pieces of metal and glass, the inside was a time capsule of Joshua Tree/Palm Springs turn-of-the-century memorabilia. Given this beauty and detail we had just as much interest staying at our “home” as we did exploring the National Park.

Such solitude with a group of best friends is a gift and allowed me to rest and reflect on my life.

  1. Go Bouldering and Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park

While there are a million designated hiking trails at Joshua Tree National Park, finding a good boulder to climb is just as important as finding a trail to trek. That is why we stopped at Jumbo Rock Campground! We were able to find a non-intrusive parking spot and walked to some HUGE boulders to climb and take pictures at. What was great was some of the girls were very adventurous while I was able to take some easier climbs and sit back. It was lovely and a great spot to meditate alone and also get together to chat about our next moves for the day.

A rock we saw while bouldering at Jumbo Rock Campground

On this trip and a past trip to Joshua Tree NP I also did some hiking trails! Each trail was fun and I can recommend both:

  • Queen’s Mine Trail
    • 0.7 – 1.6 mile loop
    • Great for viewing a preserved mine (you cannot enter the mine, mines are dangerous!)
  • Barker Dam
    • 1.1 mile loop
    • Also great for bouldering but a must for history buffs
  1. Native Plants and Medicinal Teas guided hike
Medicinal tea and desert plants hike
My tea cup I used on the Native Plants and Medicinal Teas guided hike

Airbnb offers a platform not just for vacation stays, but also a whole world of experiences offered by amazing people wanting to share their knowledge and recreational properties. In this case we found a woman that guides you on a hike to learn about plants native to Joshua Tree NP. She also shared teas made from the plants around her nearby home and showed us how to be conscious of plant life while on trail.

Bonus: we also bought matching teas cups from a craftsman at a Joshua Tree flee market. They are beautiful!

  1. Coffee Break at Joshua Tree Coffee Company
Coffee bags in the wild, Joshua Tree Coffee, hiking at Joshua tree first
Our haul of Joshua Tree Coffee Co after visiting for a iced brew!

One thing I love about my best friends is getting coffee together. Whether it is Starbucks or a cute Inland Empire roaster, we love to sit down and enjoy coffee together. One of my girlfriends on the trip actually first told me about Joshua Tree Coffee Company because she has a subscription for their coffee bags. I got an iced coffee and a bag of the breakfast blend. 

All I am saying is that when you got out, find a local coffee place you like. I am just so happy to know of a coffee roaster I adore in Joshua Tree. Charlie and I have really been enjoying our Joshua Tree Coffee Company breakfast blend at home, get yourself some!

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite and best things to do while visiting Joshua Tree NP, but I also home that in the future you can enjoy these things as well! Let me know which sounds the best or if you have done any of these things in the comments down below!

Love,

Sara

Homemade is Better: Garlicky Ranch Dressing Recipe

Hello!

I have been away, but thank you to everyone that reached out and for continuing to check out my blog and socials (see above for more Sustaining Sara)! Now that I have time to write and create again, I have really been inspired to share some of my favorite recipes that I have been enjoying lately. I have been so happy to see my friends and family respond well to the things I cook, so I hope you can enjoy them to!

To share recipes I have started a series called “Homemade is Better.” I have a few recipes I am SURE I need you all to know about, but I have a very personal reason for starting with my Garlicky Ranch Dressing, and that is because I have been meaning to give this recipe to my mother-in-law. We made this dip to enjoy while watching the Super Bowl and can attest that is it great with veggies, wings, or anything else you might want to dip. So this creamy and flavorful recipe is for Mary and anyone else that wants to make their own ranch dressing!

This ranch dressing can be made in less than 15 minutes and should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within 5 days after you make it.

-Sara, Garlicky Ranch Dressing Recipe

For this recipe you only need four ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup mayo
Ingredients for ranch dressing
All you need for homemade Ranch Dressing; buttermilk, fresh dill, cloves of garlic, and Mayo.

On top of these ingredients, you will need a container to make and store your ranch in. I suggest making the dressing in the container you will store it in because then it will be super easy to throw it into the fridge! I reused a a mason jar that I previously bought honey in.

Now lets get started!

  1. Cut and mince herbs
    • Start by mincing your garlic and putting it in your container, I personally achieved this by using a garlic press.
    • Next cut the dill of the stem. I used kitchen sheers to quickly snip the herb from the stem.
  2. Add your buttermilk and mayo
    • Stir!
  3. Idk what to tell you other than you just made ranch!
    • It’s that easy!
Cutting up herbs
Cut the dill and mince the cloves of garlic, place in container.

I LOVE this ranch, however feel free to adjust this recipe to your preferences too! Three cloves of garlic makes for a very strongly flavored dressing, feel free to use more or less cloves! This ranch is also very drippy, use less buttermilk for a thicker dip.

Ranch dressing in mason jar
Your dressing should be drippy, but if you want it thicker use less buttermilk!

I hope you enjoy this Ranch as much as I do and make sure to tag @sustaining_sara on Instagram and let me know in the comments below if you are excited for more “Homemade is Better!”

Final ranch dressing
The final, creamy product!

Love,

Sara

Sara’s Top 5 Summer 2021 Plans

Every month I write in my bullet journal three things I want to do that month. Some of these things are stuff that has to be done, but more often than not some of these things are left incomplete. However, there are a few things that I will definitely make sure to do this summer! Here we go, my top 5 Summer 2021 Plans!

  1. Kayaking

Last Summer Charlie and I were set on getting kayaks. However, I did not want to do much research OR buy a roof rack, so we did what any lazy person would do. We bought inflatable kayaks. We got a Intex Challenger K1 and a Intex Challenger K2. We got a single person and a two person so that we could take one out together or both kayaks and a friend or Jupiter in his little life jacket (at the time there was no Bingo in the picture).

Charlie has been looking at where we can kayak this year and it seems like there will be plenty of opportunities between the many lakes and rivers in Michigan’s Thumb. Last summer we only used the kayaks on a calm lake (Crego Park), but we will see if the inflatable kayaks will work on other bodies of water. So we will definitely be kayaking this summer!

  1. Gardening
Tomato and Squash Garden at the Lansing House.
Our old, crowded tomato and squash garden.

Our previous living situation was mine and Charlie’s first house we ever rented together, meaning this was our first yard we could start a vegetable garden in! We attempted to grow several vegetables, but the two that lasted (and THRIVED) were beef steak tomatoes and butternut squash. With these two vegetables we were able to prepare and store enough to have them through winter and it was awesome! We had the last of the tomato soup last week even!

Needless to say with only two types of plants fruiting last year out of a whole garden, we have done a little research and will be improving our garden this year. PLUS we have more room this year! I cannot wait to share our new garden with you!

  1. Up North Michigan/Upper Peninsula Vacation
Lake Superior at Au Sable Lighthouse
The rolling waves of Lake Superior (my favorite Great Lake) at Au Sable Light House

After spending so much time Up North last year between hiking and sight-seeing, I cannot wait to cross Mackinac Bridge again (is a Mac Pass in my future!?). I just want to have a beer at Ore Dock Brewery in Marquette, cliff jump at Black Rock, and finally explore Sault Ste Marie! We have plenty planned for this summer, as you will see on numbers 4 and 5!

  1. North Country Trail 100 Challenge

Have you heard about the North Country Trail Challenge? The North Country Trail actually goes across Picture Rocks National Lakshore and once finished will be the longest scenic trail from Vermont to Oregon (the current west terminus is North Dakota)! The North Country Trail 100 Challenge has been going since 2016 and challenges hikers to do 100 miles of the North Country Trail Challenge. After completion you get a cool patch! Check out the North Country Trail website for more information!

You can do multiple sections of the trail to reach your 100 miles or the same sections over and over! I will definitely be getting 35 miles done at Picture Rocks National Lakeshore this summer!

  1. Backpack Picture Rocks National Lakeshore (AGAIN!)
Picture Rocks Nation Lakeshore Chapel Beach
The turquoise water we say backpacking Picture RocKs National Lakeshore near Chapel Beach.

That’s right, 35 miles in 4-5 days on Picture Rocks National Lakeshore! Charlie and I will be doing this hike again and actually we plan to do it every year for as long as we can. This year we are making sure we do the whole lakeshore, but in the future we will be trying to do it faster and faster! It is just a beautiful and rewarding hike, I cannot wait to do it again.

And I cannot wait to tell y’all about our experiences again!

Thank you for checking in on my plans for Summer 2021. Please let me know of any cool plans you have for this summer in the comments! Thank you!

Love,

Sara

Spring Thaw and My Fave Paved Trails

Well last week we were talking about snow days and how cold it is, this week I wanna talk about the Spring Thaw. If you are experiencing snow melt, fog, or anything else that resembles spring then you are also getting the ugly glimpses of earth that the snow was hiding all this time. I hate this part. When the snow melts there is mud and puddles everywhere. While I just in general like to stay off the weak ground at this time, it is actually important too. 

When possible it is important to stay off trails during the spring thaw. The ground is weak and loose, walking on it can damage the trail and cause intense trail maintenance (something a lot of trails have little funding or volunteers for). That being said; here are some paved Michigan trails to frequent while things warm up!

  1. Lansing River Walk

The Lansing River Trail now stretches all the way from Waverly Road to Old Town! You can also catch it from Potter Park into MSU. Altogether, over 16 miles of paved trail pass through numerous parks and natural areas, as well as Downtown Lansing.

https://lansingrivertrail.org
Lansing Park Crego Park Lansing River Walk
Resting with our hammocks out after taking the Fellas on a walk on the Lansing River Walk!

I talked about in Wrapping Up February how I used to live in Lansing and I loved frequenting this trails for a good hike with my sisters or walking the Fellas. It is also a very popular bike route that my fiancé endorses himself! My recommendation is to start at Crego Park (also a great hammock and kayak location!) and take the Lansing River Walk to Potters Park Zoo! Just realize that some areas do get flooded over as spring is birthed!

  1. Blue Water River Walk

The paved pedestrian path rolls along 4,300 feet of shoreline and connects to the Bridge to Bay Trail.  An elevated structure that was once used as an ferry dock provides a fun and different perspective on the river and land.

https://www.bluewater.org/member-detail/blue-water-river-walk/

I have not been able to walk a significant amount of this trail but the views are gorgeous! The Lansing River has nothing on the size of the St. Clair river and while these are both “river walks” they are both so different in their own ways. The Blue Water River Walk is a great example of showing that we can enjoy nature while also returning it back to a more natural state.

All I am saying is that Spring is a beautiful and wonderful time and whenever possible we should be avoiding trails during the spring thaw. Great benefits of the paved trails I talked about today is that many are also bike paths, may have other amenities like picnic or hammock spots, and/or are communities efforts at the rehabilitation and preservation of natural areas. So enjoy and once snowmelt and precipitation take a break we can enjoy the joys and beauty of our favorite hiking trails again!

Love,

Sara

Wrapping up February

This month has been a roller coaster to say the least. Between moving, snow storms, and a high-desert getaway this has been one of my more busy and peaceful months since I left my job in September. While I think a lot of us may not associate “busy” and “peaceful” in the same breath, resetting my lifestyle in the past 6 months has helped me find great inner peace. It just took until February to unpack a lot of personal issues and concerns. This month I was able to face anxieties, find zen in the desert, and officially move to the Thumb Coast.

I have had a lot to think about as a temporary stay-at-home wife. While it was a huge privilege to call myself that, I was worrying myself with who I was in the world and what to do. Fortunately, I can say that I have restarted. This blog has allowed me to focus on a lifestyle I love and to dedicate myself to sustainability and backpacking. YOU reading this is keeping me accountable for living a more sustainable lifestyle and gives me a platform for sharing my hiking adventures. Thank you. On top of having this platform, I can say that I have found a part-time job. It is completely different from what I was doing before, but it is just the beginning of my restart.

Finding peace in these times is difficult, but a high desert get away also helped me gain faith in my restart. If you are able to, a desert retreat is refreshing. I hope to share this experience in the future and explain the precautions taken in these times. For now, please just trust that it is what I needed and I will be sharing this experience.

This month I was able to face anxieties, find zen in the desert, and officially move to the Thumb Coast.

Finally wrapping up this month, I officially live on the Thumb Coast and am really embracing #LakeLife! It took us longer than I’d like to admit to move from Lansing to the Lake Huron Coast but we are here and happy! While we still have to unpack, there is another stressor crossed off the books and I cannot wait to share my adventures now that we are here! Plus, now that we are out of Lansing I will share the trails I traversed and originally avoided sharing since they were so close to home.

February is about to pass and I am so thankful for everything that happened in this month. I am so happy with who I am as a person and our new home. Thank you for sharing this month with Sustaining Sara and for supporting me. Now please let me know how your February was in the comments below!

Love, 

Sara

What I do in a day – Snow Day Edition

Y’all. In 2020 I moved back to Michigan from California. While in California we chose to go on adventures and see snow, but this week in Michigan (and many other areas) the snow globe was shaken! Please read on to see a day in my life; Snow Day Edition.

Dog’s first snow day in Big Bear, CA with dog parents
Jupiter’s first snow day in Big Bear, CA

Everything begins the night before. My fiancé, Charlie, texted me while he was at work that he was planning to take the truck fro work the next day with the expectation of 6-8 inches of snow to accumulate through the night.  We also agreed to go grocery shopping after Charlie got out of work since we were low on food. 

After grocery shopping we sat in the living room, playing DnD with our virtual group and watched snow begin to fall. At first it fell softly in big flakes, creating the most beautiful atmosphere. Then the wind picked up and visibility became foggy. The winter storm was here. By the time we went to bed the winter storm was holding steady with no end in sight.  

In the morning before Charlie goes to work he always tells me good bye and that he let the dogs out and fed them, but this time this brief routine was interrupted with a funny story. Charlie went to take the dogs to the back door, but the snow was over the dogs little heads! Charlie had to take the fellas out a different door that was easier to shovel. My poor small Bingo had barely gone outside and Jupiter retreated to do his business under the porch. Really this all made me laugh and I was excited to see this winter wonderland after a little more sleep.

Now, finally awaking from my slumber, it was my turn to witness the work of the winter storm. I quickly put on my leggings and socks, raced to get my boots on, and lead the fellas to the back door. Charlie’s description did not disappoint. While overall I think we got 10-12 inches, the wind must have blown a lot of snow to settle in heaps on our back deck. The snow was over my knees! After marveling at being snowed in from the deck, I took my fellas to the other door and just as Charlie had said they were so skeptical of the cold snow. My mom’s dog and Jupiter showed off their bravery and found little paths to take into the thick of the yard, but Bingo just sat in the garage doorway looking at me in terror.

Oh, did I mention it was still snowing? Much less menacing than when I went to sleep and boardering on those big, romantic flakes. I spent the rest of my morning drinking coffee by our big front window and calming down the dogs all barking at our neighbors snow blowers and tractors. All the neighbors were removing snow from their driveways up until early afternoon which got me to thinking if it would make any difference for me to take out the measly snow shovel…which I decided was too much work for too little payoff Wrong.

By early evening my sister and I decided that we needed to play in the snow a little before the sun went down. We bundled up in hats and mittens and took the dogs outside. The paths I made with my slumpy steps became the start of the trails for our dogs to comfortably traverse the snow. While I was walking further into the yard my sister was testing a heart-shaped snowball maker and creating a lovely snow Arsenal. Once I finally turned back toward the house my sister was throwing snow hearts everywhere! It was both beautiful and terrifying; she almost pummeled me a few times!

Snow day tracks in snow
My first trek into the snowy backyard!

We did not spend much time outside (partially due to Bingo’s protest), and once we went inside we both  chose our specific places to rest. After watching a few YouTube videos I decided to cleanup in the kitchen. I got some dishes done before I realized that our snowy driveway was plowed in. I was devastated. I had already not shoveled the driveway, making it hard enough for Charlie to come home, but at this point Charlie wouldn’t even be able to get past the giant snow bank to park the truck. This is what I get for saving my energy and not shoveling earlier…more shoveling.

I woke up my sister from her catnap and asked her to watch me at the window to make sure I stayed safe near the busy road, put on my old work coat with reflectors, and laced up my boots tight. I walked through the driveway to the snow bank and began to shovel it away. At the first scoop I already saw progress and with hard work I could free my driveway! I was shoveling in small scoops because this snow was packed and heavy. I was using muscles I had not used in such a long time. My wrists were on fire, my back muscles were pulsing. I was taking frequent breaks to catch a breath or backup to let a car pass. It was exhausting. Right after I had finished and gone inside Charlie safely pulled into the driveway. 

I finished the night watching Netflix with people I love, beer in hand, body sore. Snow days are great! While I evaded a lot of work that comes with snow days, remember that they are not just fun and no school. If you are not doing the work to clear snow then someone else is. All I am trying to say is have fun, but have a plan to remove snow from your driveway!

Love,

Sara

Why I am here – a better “about me”

Maybe it was a rush of adrenaline to launch Sustaining Sara. Maybe it was simply looked over. Maybe I was scared? Whatever it was, I just feel like my about me intro post was a cookie-cutter “what I think should be on a blog” regurgitation. 

I explain what this blog will be; hiking, sustainability, and a millennial’s house plant obsession, but not the why.  To be honest I had wanted to start a platform many times where I could talk about the things I like. To be honest I feel weird about making statuses on facebook because they are short and I never get all the words out.  Now that I have so much time after leaving a job I worked to many hours at and had no time for myself and my relationships, gosh darn it I finally launched a site that is 100% what Sara wants to talk about. 

AND IT’S AWESOME.

I feel so much support from my extended family who always comments and likes my posts, to friends I have not talked to since high school that are telling me they that they like hearing about my adventures. I wanted to created this space to talk about Sara things and it has been so well received. After leaving a huge part of my life in 2020, I am so happy and grateful that this new platform is creating positive experiences for me and that you all are supportive and enjoying Sustaining Sara with me.

Thank you. I love you. Keep being awesome.

Love,

Sara

Sustainable Living – Products and Services

Well y’all, this is the post that finally starts to cover how I practice a more sustainable lifestyle. I want to share with you a few products and services I use that help me decrease waste and things I look forward to utilizing in the future. I hope that these are helpful and feel free to click on some of these links for offers to start utilizing the same services!

Things I currently use:

Imperfect Produce Impact
Imperfect Produce show customer impact by showing how the customer offsets wood waste, water use, and CO2 emissions.

Imperfect Produce

First off, let’s start on something I am passionate about considering my own bad habits. Did you know that rts.com is projecting 80 billion pounds of food waste this year? Yikes. I feel bad about throwing away part of my lunch or letting potatoes go bad (who even has time to let potatoes go bad!?), but there is a substantial amount of good food that cannot even make it to market because it looks funky or is of inadequate size. This is where Imperfect Produce comes in for me. Imperfect Produce gets their hands on the produce grocers won’t buy and not only sells it to you to deter food waste, but will deliver it to your doorstep.

Y’all. I don’t drive. But I love grocery shopping and ugly produce/overstock food items. This service is so convenient for me and I love opening up my box on delivery day. And to be perfectly honest, I have not gotten any of the funny looking produce that they advertise. Most of the items are overstock or abnormal size; for example my favorite item which was a giant 3 lb. carrot! I just love this service and am so happy to always have fruits and veggies to incorporate in my meals.

If you are enticed by Imperfect Produce, check out this link for $10 off your first order!

Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper and add ons!

Who Gives A Crap

I purposely did not make this the first topic because some people do not like to talk about toilet paper, but here we are. Who Gives A Crap is a 100% recycled toilet paper subscription service. Yes, a subscription service for toilet paper. They also have add-on products like facial tissue and paper towels made from recycled materials if that is your thing.

On top of being eco-conscious, Who Gives a Crap is also dedicated to making a social impact. Who Gives a Crap uses 50% of proceeds to create sanitary toilet options for areas in need of them. Plus, they are certified Carbon Neutral and a B Certified Corporation meaning they meet the highest level of social and environmental impact.

I just love never running out of toilet paper while also supporting a socially-conscious business. I really think this is the best way to buy toilet paper as a capable and responsible consumer. Plus, when the shelves were cleared of TP in March 2020 I was un-phased! Who Gives A Crap did not take on anymore customers during the TP shortage, but I was able to keep my subscription and give away this “currency” to family and friends in need. I love it!

For a piece of mind when it comes to this bathroom staple, here is a link for $10 off your first order!

Fillaree
Fillaree is a filling subscription for household soaps!

Fillaree

By now you may have noticed that I LOVE subscription services and am in a blessed position to be able to afford the upfront investment of bulk supplies (aka large produce box, 3 month supply of toilet paper). Fillaree is also just like that but is a refill subscription service for soaps. REFILL SUBSCRIPTION. You are sent a container of whatever soap you choose from – dish, hand, body, hair, all purpose spray, and other eco friendly accessories – and you can create a refill subscription where they send you a new bottle and you ship back your empty. Easy-peasy!

Products and Services looking forward:

Dropps

I would like to get a Dropps subscription for dishwasher and laundry pods…but I do not have a dishwasher yet and want to bundle the two. Dropps packaging and pods are biodegradable which I think is awesome. As you can imagine though, once we switch to drops we will look to dropping Fillaree dish soap. For now we are a Fillaree and Charlie’s Soap household.

Girlfriend Micro Plastics Filter

Y’all have not heard about my absolute LOVE for this brand! I bought their leggings at launch (anyone remember that annoying “$20 luxury leggings” ad from 2016?) and am now a devotee to their recycled bottle leggings. As you read this my next order is on the way with my new micro plastic filter for my washing machine! Since we are slowly moving from one house to another I decided this was a perfect time to get a micro plastic filter to do my part in making sure little pieces of plastic crud do not enter our water ways.

If this pumps you up as much as it does me, check out Girlfriend and use this link for $10 off your order over $95.

Compost

No secret, I currently don’t compost. I am learning about household composting and a sustainable practice for my household.

No Buy/Eco Minimalism

I am trying to stop shopping for things I don’t need. These things are filling up my life and are destined for a landfill or the back corners of my closet. When I think of this fate I am pretty confused as to why I spend my money on frivolous things. I DON’T LIKE IT. This will be an ongoing adventure but one that I am sure will give me the piece of mind that I need.

Thank you for checking out things I use to be more eco-conscious and please let me know what products I use that you are interested in or alternatives you utilize! Comment below!

Love,

Sara

My First Thru-Hike Part 2/Day 2

Thank you all for sticking around for Part Two/Day 2 of my first backpacking trip! If you have not read it, check it out here! When we left off my fiancé had woken up from rain on a night that we did not set up our rain tarps over our hammocks. I was untouched by the rain and overall too tired and sore to wake up…so I didn’t!

The next day we slept in and left camp late (11am). I was still very sore and alarmed at our dwindling supply of toilet paper. Fortunately the day ahead was shorter than the day previous at 6.9 miles to the Cliffs campground…or just 5 miles to Miner’s Castle where Rachel’s car was parked…? We had pep in our steps as we left camp after an oatmeal breakfast. We quickly came upon Mosquito Falls and even pondered a water crossing. However, Charlie and I decided to find a bridge we were sure was around the well manicured trail while Rachel continued down to the water. 

Once across the bridge we waited for Rachel. Worried, we eventually started to walk down river to find her, and to my dismay she was walking away from the trail. Annoyed I yelled to here and she told us about how she fell on her butt in the water. Poor luck, but I did not feel remorse with her accidental fall off of trail. I was reacting too harshly in the moment and should have had more consideration for her sense of adventure. After all she was quickly corrected and we were back off on trail!

This section of the trail was mostly under the forest canopy with small outlets to overlooks. The leaves in the trees where lush and light peaked through like little  beams from heaven. I looked eagerly to see critters in the forest, maybe even a bear in the distance, but had to settle for the less dangerous forest chipmunks. The views were different from seeing the spectacular cliffs, but the beauty was still aw inspiring.

We started to go down a steep hill, telling each other that we were happy we were not going up it. After descending the monstrous hill we passed the Potato Patch campsite and made it a parking lot where kayak tours were being dropped off and  the van driver told us that the ladies he’s seen on the trail ran the 42 miles in one day.  We even got to talking to another backpacker that gave us the last of their bug repellent and told us to make sure we hit up Picture Rocks Pizza after our hike.

At the terminus of the steep hill!

It was great to talk to new people that had interest in our hike, however the best part was what was in the parking lot…a port-a-potty. I was sooo excited to not have to dig a hole to relieve myself. Besides, since I smelled so bad already there was nothing in that small building that could bother me. This was a bit of trail magic in my mind.

Then we headed for the 1 mile walk to Miner’s beach ahead of the kayakers. It felt like a short mile but I was relieved to take my backpack off again and sit on the sand. Mind you, this break was only a mile after my “port-a-potty break,” but there is nothing like a beach break. After we watched the kayak instructor show the kayakers how to paddle we got back onto the trail. 

This part of the trail was different from the cliffs and canopy we had previously trekked. On our right there was the beach and to the left a million blueberry bushes. We reached a busier part of the beach and the sign that got us together to decide the future of our hike. “1.0 [mile] Miners Castle.” At this point we were out of TP, Rachel’s monster backpack and sandals were taking their toll, and I was just tired. Note; while Rachel and I were reaching our limits, I think Charlie was in the zone and experiencing his own hiker’s high! This is where we brought up just getting to the car and ending our hike. We were not thru hikers yet but just getting our toes soaked in backpacking, but we all agreed. We had one mile to go. Just. One. More. Mile.

The beloved 1 mile sign!

THE HARDEST MILE. Remember when we were so vocal about how nice it was to be going downhill? After twisting and turning around water sources we made it to the final boss of our hike. There rest of the hike was plagued by hills and roots so exposed that they created abstract stairways. To me Charlie appeared to ascend these obstacles with ease. I was pushing myself to a physical limit, stopping for a few breathes after I felt myself deserving. Poor Rachel was being held-back by her huge pack. 

The pain of each heavy step felt never ending until we finally saw the Miner’s Castle visitors center. I almost lost it when I saw Rachel’s car and was excited to get to it but was stopped a little early when Rachel stopped at the first bench she came to. I begged her to give me her keys from the depths of her pack. I wanted to ditch my backpack into her car and find a T-shirt that was not saturated in the day’s determination.  This was the hardest thing I have done to date. The best thing I have done to date.

This hike was a turning point in my life. The accomplishment I felt was intoxicating. The peace I was granted in giving myself permission to feel so many different emotions on this hike was something I had never done before and now I was hooked. As cliché as it may be, my first backpacking trip has made such an impression on how I live my life now and was a turning point in my life. I hope I can convey that to everyone as this blog goes on. That you can see how happy I am since I fell in love with hiking. Thank you.

Love,

Sara