August
11

#GetOutThere Guide: Kesugi Ridge in Denali State Park

Our MI OLA brand ambassadors inspire us everyday to #GetOutThere – – these amazing women surf, paddle, hike, salute the sun, mountain bike, ski, kite surf,   and so much more. One of these amazing ambassadors is Ashley B. (@ayeboulet). Whether she is downhill skiing at her home base in Lake Tahoe, CA, hiking up a 14,000 footer White Mountain, beach hiking the coast in the Kalalau Valley on Kauaʻi, Hawaii, or exploring in the Turks and Caicos, we love following Ashley’s adventures. We caught up with this awesome mermaid and got the details on her latest #getoutthere adventure: hiking the Kesugi Ridge in Denali State park in Alaska.

(If you are in hiking shape and ready to tackle a challenge, read on and #GetOutThere.  BUT, if you are just starting out or need to refresh the basics, have another look at Hike Like a Girl, and work your way up to this challenge by doing shorter, less ambitious hikes.)

Denali-1

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

#GetOutThere Guide: Kesugi Ridge

The Kesugi Ridge trail is to date one of the best, most rewarding, and beautiful backpacking missions I have done.  Being a mountain girl from the Sierra Nevada’s I had high expectations for this backpacking trip, and this trail surpassed any preconceived notions I may have had.  I would highly recommend this trail for any intermediate backpacker wanting to explore the various terrain of Alaska.   Expect your jaw to drop around each bend on this one of a kind North American trail.

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MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Kesugi Ridge- Denali State Park

This trail is located in the Denali State Park, bordering the Denali National Park. The state park and national park vary in regards to regulations, permits, trail access, etc.  The Kesugi Ridge is a well-defined 30 mile trail. Most backpackers will opt to hike the ridge one-way requiring the need for a shuttle to the trailhead, carpooling, or hitch hiking.

 

Getting there:

The trail is best accessed from Little Coal Creek Road.  I would recommend arranging a trail head shuttle with Byer Lake Campground.  A local family operates a daily shuttle from the day parking lot at Byer Lake to Little Coal Creek trailhead.  Call in advance and be sure to make a reservation.  Overnight parking in Byer Campground is $5 per night.

Denali-6

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Distance and trail maps:

Byer Lake Campground is about a 2.5 hour drive from Anchorage. After arranging a trail shuttle, park in the campground day lot. Most backpackers prefer to hike from north to south as the vertical rise is less this way. Below are the maps we carried with us and used on this hike.

Northern section: http://dnr.alaska.gov/Assets/uploads/DNRPublic/parks/maps/kesuginorth.pdf

South section: http://dnr.alaska.gov/Assets/uploads/DNRPublic/parks/maps/kesugisouth.pdf

Denali-2

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Pacing:

We hiked this trail in 3 nights/4 days.  We were hiking the duration of most days but wanted to make sure to allow ourselves enough time to enjoy the landscape and scenery. We camped alongside a small lake around mile 6 the first night.  The second night we camped near Ermine Hill junction around mile 15.  The third night we camped near Mini Skinny Lake around mile 25. Our last day (hiking out by way of Byer Lake) consisted of a mostly downhill hike for 4 or so miles.

Denali-4

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Weather:

We were lucky when it came to weather on this trail. We had an opportune window of fairly dry weather for most of our days hiking.  Of course the highlight of clear sky day is seeing Denali (Mount McKinley) towering above the horizon.  This monstrosity of a mountain can be seen to the west for most of the trail.

I would imagine that certain sections of this trail would be much more challenging and difficult had it been raining.  If possible, leave yourself a window of time for hiking so you can plan according to the weather.

 

Wildlife aware:

Bears are a serious concern when it comes to hiking in the backcountry.  Be bear aware by packing smart, staying loud on the trails, and knowing what to do in case you come across a bear. There is other wildlife to be aware of in these areas as well, be sure to read up on what to do in case you come across any animals when hiking.

Denali-3

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Decompression after hiking:

Talkeetna is a nearby mountaineering town where you can enjoy a Denali brewing company beer and burger while viewing Denali in the distance.   This is the ultimate stop for refueling and decompressing after hiking.  This small town has several patio restaurants, cafes, and shops to walk around. Live music can be heard from several restaurants or in the park on certain days of the week. I would recommend the Wildflower Café and Mountain High Pizza for something local and satisfying to eat. Couple that with a local beer, and you will be in mountain heaven.

Remember to stay hydrated and stretch after hiking to prevent sore muscles and cramping.

Denali-7

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

What to pack:

Backpack – I love my women’s 65L Osprey backpack. My pack is lightweight, has lots of compartments, and provides a great fit for my body. A good backpack is always worth the investment.

Water proof/water resistant hiking boots- The weather is variable in Alaska, especially in the mountains.  Be sure to pack water worthy hiking shoes as you will likely cross some creeks, muddy areas, and wetlands. Pack extra socks too!

Mole skin- In case of blisters you will want to be sure you have mole skin in your first aid kit. Happy feet is critical for long duration hiking!

First aid kit- Backpacking first aid kits are not only smaller size but also lightweight.  It is always wise to backpack with some basic medical items, just in case.

Bear mace/repellant- This is a must.  Although you cannot bring bear repellant in your checked luggage with most airlines, be sure to purchase some when arriving in Alaska.

Bear canister- This is mandatory in the National park, but not in the state park.  Regardless, I would highly recommend bringing one.  Be sure to place all scented items in the canister.  Aside from food items that would include sunscreens, toiletries, lotions, etc.

Flare Gun- We carried a flare gun in case we found ourselves face to face with a charging bear.  The flare gun supplements having a loaded gun with you.  The flare gun is much lighter and safer when it comes to protecting yourself.

Bear bells- This will help put your mind at ease when hiking in more lush areas where a bear, moose, or other animal may be near.  You do not want to sneak up on any of these animals, so be loud on the trail.

Bug spray- This is a MUST.  There are many flies and mosquitos in this area, especially in the wetlands.  Repellant is necessary to help prevent the likelihood of irritating bites while hiking.  That being said, Benadryl cream is a worthy item to pack in your first aid kit.

Sunscreen- Even if you’re lucky enough to get a clear sky day with lots of sun, you should always be protected.  Even with cloudy days, you will want to be sure to wear sunscreen to prevent any uncomfortable burns.

Meals- Backpacker meals are not only lightweight but packed with the protein necessary for hiking. Depending on the amount of time you plan to backpack, you will want to pack as lightly as possibly. Every pound counts when it comes to food within your bear canister. I would recommend freeze dried meals, rice, pasta, granola bars, oatmeal, jerky, etc.  Canned food products tend to weight more than other freeze dried meal options.  Fruits are difficult to pack and perish quickly.  Be sure to pack enough food and snacks to supply energy and satisfy hunger throughout your trip.

Jet boil (or similar cooking device) – The jet boil helps store the items necessary for cooking conveniently in your backpack.  I have a mini backpack burner, small propane, and pot which I also pack for the convenience of cooking a few items simultaneously. Be sure to pack a cook utensil, small sponge, and environmentally safe soap as well.

Water purifier- You will find yourself purifying stream or lake water several times a day.  The water is fairly clean, yet I would recommend treating the water before drinking. Be sure to always top off or fill your water containers when passing a water source.  You do not want to find yourself hiking without water or desperately searching for the next water source. Plan ahead.

Face/eye mask- Depending on when you plan to hike, the sun may be a bit of a nuisance.  In July, the sun was shining until after 11pm.  This in mind, if you are light sleeper I would recommend bringing an eye mask.

Binoculars- You will want binoculars to view Denali (Mount McKinley) in the distance.  You will also want these on hand for bird and animal watching.

Other miscellaneous items:  There are a few items that I like to bring to help lift my spirit when backpacking.  On this mission I brought the following items:

Peanut butter – this sweet treat and can be mixed into oatmeal in the morning, making breakfast that much better.

Ipod/small speaker- music is always nice when decompressing in camp or leisurely hiking along the trail.

Camp pillow/sleeping pad- although not necessary, they do help make for a more comfortable night of sleep.

Hot sauce- This will help add some much needed spice to any generic meal.

Sugar/sweet treat- Something sweet to look forward to while hiking such as a fruit snack, lollipop, snickers bar, etc.

Essential oil- I love my oils especially when outdoors.  A little goes a long way when it comes to aromatherapy.

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

August
4

Coral Reefs Need Your Help!

Andrea-Mermaid.Drea

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

We surf, snorkel, free dive, paddle and play in Mother Nature’s glorious ocean. But a fundamental part of the ocean’s ecosystem is at risk.  The biggest story of our changing climate is hidden beneath the waves. Coral reef ecosystems support 25% of marine life in our ocean and they are at extreme risk of  dying. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia experienced a devastating and unprecedented severe coral bleaching two years in a row the past two years, killing 29% of shallow water reefs. And it’s not just the majestic Great Barrier Reef – – coral reefs all over the world are being affected.

2.-The-Rainforests-of-the-Sea

So what is going on?
There is a huge heat wave traveling all over the world. It’s like your body temperature changing – – a temperature increase of just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) may not seem like a lot in the air, but for marine life this is like living with a constant fever. And for the corals’, it’s catastrophic. When the corals are exposed to higher ocean temperatures, they bleach and die. What remains is the white skeleton.

1.-Coral-Fever

So what can you do? 

We live at a unique point in time where we can change history. It’s not too late for coral reefs – – they can recover if the ocean temperature returns to normal, but prolonged stress may cause the corals to eventually die. Every little action helps – – if we all chip in to reducing our carbon footprint we can help to reduce climate change and stop ocean temperatures from rising. Here’s a couple things you can do:

  1. Recycle!!!!
  2. Make sure your lighting is efficient. LED light bulbs generally use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, and they last longer.
  3. Replace old appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters, and clothes dryers, with smarter models.
  4. Maximize fuel efficiency, no matter what model you drive: Keep tires inflated, avoid speeding, keep your trunk free of excess weight—and above all, avoid driving when you can walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit.
  5. Bring your own bags and buy in bulk when possible to reduce packaging.
  6. Reduce your consumption of bottled water and other packaged drinks.
  7. Check out more at National Geographic
  8. Watch Chasing Coral on Netflix and share this blog post and/or infographics with your friends + family!Reduce CO2

July
28

Surf Guide El Salvador

 

A-Perfect-peeling-right-hander

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, situated in-between Guatemala and Honduras with a population of approximately 6.35 million.  The currency is the US Dollar which replaced the former Colon. The name El Salvador derives from the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and means “The Savior”. The climate is tropical and you can surf in warm water the whole year! The beautiful inland is full of volcanoes and hills.  Rainy season is from May to October, which is also the swell season.

El Salvador nicely stretches along the Pacific coast for about 200 miles. The coast has beautiful beaches with magnificent, clean point breaks that are mostly right handers…. so all you regular footers, listen up!

B-Landscape-El-Salvador

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

Where to Surf:

El Tunco

El Tunco is a nice little surf town where you can buy and rent boards, party a lot, and meet new people in one of the abundant hostels. Within walking distance, you have easy access to three different surf breaks. I stayed in a nice hotel which is called La Guitarra. It’s simple, but nice and affordable with direct access to the beach.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

D-El-Tunco-Hotel

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

The three surf breaks of El Tunco are:

Beach break at El Tunco: 

This break is a hollow and fast classical beach break which is right in front of all the restaurants and bars of El Tunco beach. It’s the locals preferred spot and everybody loves to watch the surfers performing during sunset.

E-Sunset-El-Tunco-Beach

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

La Bocana:
Hello goofy footers! This wave is one of the few left point breaks in El Salvador with a sandy bottom and some rocks. Be careful! A friend of mine got to know one rock a little bit better! That’s why most of the people surf it on high tide. It’s a powerful and fast wave which is always bigger than the other two surf spots of El Tunco. On a good day you can catch some tubes for sure!

F-La-Bocana

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa


Zunzal:
To reach Zunzal you can either walk along the beach for 10 minutes or you can just paddle out there from the main beach of El Tunco. It is a more mellow right handed point break and thus it can also be quite crowded. The bottom are boulders and you can surf that looongggg right on all tides.

G-Zunzal-Beach

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

Kilometro 59

Just a 20 minutes car drive away from El Tunco is Kilometro 59. It is a long and nice right point break with boulders at the bottom. There are just a few accommodations directly located on the beach and therefore it is not crowded at all. You can go surf crazy surfing there, catching one wave after another. A really nice local tour guide and photographer called Samuel took my friend and I for dawn patrol and we saw a stunning sunrise!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

El Zonte:
This beach is just a 10 minute drive from El Tunco and is a more sleepy little surf village for all of those who prefer a more laid back vibe. It is a right hand point break with sand and rocks at the bottom. When I was there last November they started building an ugly hotel building right in front of the beach.

El Cuco:  When it’s big

When the forecast calls for bigger west or southwest swell, you should make a trip down south to the less developed el Cuco to surf las Flores and Punta Mango. You will be surfing so many long and perfect rights, that you will be forced to get out of the water because you don’t have arms to paddle anymore!

J-El-Zonte-Beach

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

Las Flores

This spot (guess what!?) is another nice right hand point break that breaks like a wave garden. It needs decent swell to work. So when the conditions are right, it is lovely to watch the sets coming in from some hills above the spot! Las Flores is a little bit more friendly with sandy bottom and not as powerful as Punta Mango, but still very fun!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

Punta Mango

Punta Mango is still a quite isolated right hand point break where you can either go by boat from las Flores or take the dirt road by car. You can surf a perfect peeling fast and long wave with chances to get barreled. If you are lucky and hit it on the right day, you will have a lot of fun with not so many people in the water. Usually, when there is big swell it is crowded with several boats arriving all at one time.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

Photographer and Local Tour Guide Samuel

All of the surfing pics are shot by my friend Samuel Gonzalez. He is a local surfer, who drives you to different beaches by car and if you want, he also takes photos of you surfing. He is an awesome guy and knows exactly where in order to get the best waves! If you don’t have a car, ask for Samuel! Everybody knows him! K59samuel@gmail.com or his name isSamuel González on Facebook.

What to Eat:

Pupusas is a must to eat, which is the most famous dish of El Salvador. If you are on low budget you can fill up your hungry surfer stomach for a few dollars! A really “heavy” dessert is called “Maria Luisa” which is a layered cake soaked in orange marmalade and powder sugar on top!

How to Get There:

One major advantage of surfing in such a small country is that the capital, San Salvador, is so close to the beach. Within a 45 minutes drive you are already in the well- known surfer town called El Tunco. That means, you can be playing in the water approximately two hours after having landed at the airport in San Salvador!!! For me, being landlocked in Germany, I loved this!

In sum, if you want to surf endless right hand point break without spending too much money, El Salvador is your next surf destination! Despite a lot of problems and crime the country is facing, the locals are really friendly and there are lovely beaches and landscapes to be seen. I think as long as you stay on the “tourist trails” and do not tend to attract misfortune, you should be fine and just see the bright side of El Salvador, and thus help the Salvadorian tourist sector to earn a little bit of money.

I made so many beautiful memories, in and out of the water, that I will definitely go there again. Even though I am a goofy footer!!!

 

July
21

Top Five Amazing Beaches in Puerto Rico

Bienvenidos a Puerto Rico! Welcome to Puerto Rico! This tropical island paradise is the home of MI OLA brand ambassador Andrea (@mermaid.drea ). When she isn’t in the water – free-diving to 40 feet, surfing, fishing, lobstering or playing in the waves – she’s on land doing yoga and exploring the outdoors. We caught up with this mermaid to get the scoop on her favorite beaches in Puerto Rico. Check it out below!

Our Top Five Amazing Beaches to Visit in Puerto Rico

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR 3

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

 

Playa Peña Blanca, Aguadilla, PR

I love this beach because it’s where the sea turtles like to hang out in the West! I can literally spend hours snorkeling this beach – – I’ve encountered the most marine life thus far in PR.  Playa Peña Blanca is also a great place to spend the day lounging and tanning on the sand. However, if there is swell, the shore disappears and this place looks like a completely different beach!

Playa Peña Blanca, Aguadilla, PR

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

This is also a special spot because it is a part of the “Playuelas” sector, where community members are fighting against the construction of a massive resort, “The Christopher Columbus Landing Resort,” that would destroy this beautiful un-touched land. (For more information about the cause and how you can help “Save Playuela,” click here.)

Sea Turtle Andrea

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

 

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)—In Puerto Rico we call these beauties “Peje blanco” or “Tortuga verde.” Sea turtles are such beautiful creatures that when I encounter one I get lost just staring at them while they swim or eat sea grass.

Green Sea Turtle

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Juvenile French Angel Fish (Pomacanthus paru) – Another one of my favorite marine organisms are Angel Fish! This one here is a Juvenile French Angel Fish. You can tell because it has yellow stripes – – when they become adults their stripes disappear and they develop yellow specs.

Juvenile French Angel Fish

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

 

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR

This is literally a beach bum’s playground!  This is my all-time-favorite go-to beach because when its flat, it’s the best place to kick back and pop open some beers or go practice your free-diving skills. When there are waves, you can spend all day surfing this fun sand bar or just playing in the huge shore break!  Coming to this beach can turn into an adventure.  On the opposite end of this beach, within walking distance, there is a beautiful tide pool called “La Poza de las Mujeres,” which is very popular among the locals. Some locals made the coolest palm tree hut which makes spending a day under the sun a lot better.

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR Scooby Doo

This is our dog Scooby Doo, he is a Labrador who LOVES the beach. I don’t think I had ever seen Pata Pata this calm before, it looked like a swimming pool! There is nothing more relaxing than spending the day just floating in these crystal-clear waters. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR

This day was one of the gnarliest shore breaks I have seen thus far! During the winter I love coming here to shoot the barrels that form on the sand bar and play under the shore break. No matter how rough the waves get, the water is always clear. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR 10

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Playa Pata Pata, Manatí, PR 11

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

 

Playa Tamarindo, Culebra, PR

Culebra is a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. To arrive, you must take a boat, ferry, or an airplane. If you really want to go an adventure, camp on Flamenco Beach. Take your vehicle filled with food so you can cook over a campfire because there are very limited options (especially if you have dietary restrictions because there are only a few restaurants and not many supermarkets).

Tamarindo beach is walking distance from Flamenco. It is a bit of hike because there is a hill you have to go over, but it is another spot I love to dive! This is the best place to see marine life. The beach lies within the Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve—and all of Culebra’s sea grass is listed as a critical habitat for endangered species and is protected by law. In other words, there are tons of sea turtle to see here because sea grass is a Green Sea Turtle’s favorite snack. I love coming here because you really get a chance to photograph and appreciate nature. Although snorkel gear rentals are available on Culebra, it’s better to bring your own snorkel gear. Flamenco Beach also has a reef you can snorkel, but during the winter there are huge waves. Tamarindo is located inside a bay so the water is flat all year-round.

Sea Turtle

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

 

 

 

Playa Caza y Pesca, Arecibo, PR

Caza y Pesca is located in Arecibo in a sector called “Islote.” There are many fun breaks in this town, but this is one of my favorite surfing beaches because it is where I learned to catch waves! Some of the clearest waters I have seen on Puerto Rico are at the Arecibo beaches like this one. If you like to get barreled, then I suggest you surf Hallows Beach—a shallow reef break. Another one of my favorite surfing beaches in Arecibo is “La Cueva del Indio,” I like it because the wave is very long. The actual “Cueva del Indio” is a tourist attraction where scenes of the film “The Goonies” was filmed and it has a lot of our native Indians, the “Taínos,” hieroglyphics engraved in the walls.

Playa Caza y Pesca, Arecibo, PR

This day was one of the toughest days for me at Caza y Pesca because the waves were all over the place, there were very strong currents, and it was super windy, but I gave it a shot anyways! I caught about 2 waves and decided to go relax on the sand with my friend photographer friend, Elvin, and have a little photoshoot. Photo by Elvin of MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Playa Caza y Pesca, Arecibo, PR 2

Photo by Elvin of MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

July
14

#GetOutThereGuide: Learning to Kiteboard

 One of our favorite mermaids just so happens to be MI OLA brand ambassador Adrienne @yokeens. She moved to the Outer Banks, North Carolina a couple of  summers ago to spend her days surfing, windsurfing, beach bumming…and working at one of the coolest outdoor outfitters, REAL Watersports.  Jealous? Yeah, us too! We caught up with this adventurous mermaid to learn how to #GetOutThere on learning to kiteboard.

#GetOutThereGuide:  Learning how to Kiteboard

Hey there mermaids!  Love the water and seeking new exciting ways to enjoy it?  Kiteboarding is an amazing sport that with the right gear and the proper instruction, anyone can do!  It is always best to take some lessons to build a safe and solid foundation of skills before trying on your own.  Once you are up and riding, the possibilities are endless as you can kite all over the world in the ocean, the sound, on lakes, and even in the snow!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

Where to Kite:  One of the BEST places in the world to kite is the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  This barrier island has super consistent winds, miles of protected flat water which is mostly waist deep and multiple seasons in which kiting can be enjoyed.  You can kite on the sound side which is similar to a lake or you can go ocean side and slay the waves.  Traveling here is fairly easy compared to going somewhere out of the USA, so taking a weekend to learn to kite is totally achievable. Plus, you can easily find a spot all to yourself, or hit up one of the more popular launch areas to kite with new friends.

When to Kite:  Spring, Summer and Fall are the best times to come.  Both spring and fall offer less crowds, higher winds and mild weather/water temps (60s-70s). Summer is hot (80s air/water temp), but more crowded with more days of lower wind speeds.  And with the right wetsuit and a great attitude, you can absolutely kite in the winter (a full wetsuit, gloves and booties are needed)!

Guide-Kiteboarding-MI-OLA-1

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

What to Expect:  3 full days of instruction is the typical recommendation to get up and riding.  You will learn how to fly a trainer kite, how to board ride, how to control a kite in the water while body dragging, then combine everything to actually kiteboard.  There is a lot of safety and rigging of the kite to learn, but after a few times, everything will make sense!  If you have any background in other board sports (like surfing!), or wind related sports, these skills will for sure transfer over.

Kiting can seem intimidating as you are attached to a large kite.  But after you learn that small movements control the kite, flying becomes easy and fun….something you can do for hours on end!  The more finesse and timing you have the better, so a lot of times women tend to pick kiteboarding up more quickly than men because woman listen to their instructor and do exactly what they are told instead of trying to muscle or fight through it.  Patience and commitment is key, along with determination! The falls are actually pretty fun since you are in water (doesn’t hurt as much as learning to snowboard or ski)!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

Gear to Get:  Once you take a few lessons, getting a complete kite gear package is a great idea to continue kiting at home.  Be sure to talk to your instructor about what size will be best for you based on your weight, hometown average wind speed and the style of riding you want to progress into.

My go-to kite size is a 9m, while I also have an 11m and a 7m which rounds out my quiver.

Look for a kite with swept back wing tips and a small leading edge.  This will make the kite easy to relaunch and feel stable in the wind window, making smooth arching turns.  Kites such as the Core Free or Liquid Force NV are good options.  If you get a bar that is adjustable, then you will be able to use it on all sized kites, like the Liquid Force Response bar 46cm-56cm.

Board size will range based on weight and riding style, but for women, size 130cm to 140cm is a basic range. Getting a board with low to medium rocker and that is light in weight is a great idea to help progress to staying up wind and starting to jump. I ride a 134cm when doing freestyle, while I also ride a strapless surfboard (5’6).

A starter package will range in price, but lowest would be around $1200 for (new) 1 kite, bar, board, harness and pump.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask!  I’d be happy to lend a helping hand getting you to the Outer Banks to become a kiteboarding babe as I have a wealth of knowledge!  Also for gear selection check out Realwatersports.com as everything listed above can be found there.  Plus we offer lessons, camps and accommodations….and even jobs if you want to become a pro yourself.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

July
7

#GetOutThere Guide: Escalante, Utah

You might think Escalante, Utah, is just a blip on the map. It’s a town with less than 1000 residents, a small handful of restaurants, a few lodging choices, and a gas station. However, Escalante is the hub for all things outdoors in south central Utah where visitors can hike, rock climb, race around in ATVs, explore amazing slot canyons, and just get away from it all. The land surrounding Escalante, UT is public land for everyone to do what they enjoy. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument encompasses almost 3,000 square miles of pristine backcountry paradise.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Recently Becca, a MI OLA ambassador, and her husband pulled into town. Here is her #GetOutThere Guide to Escalante!

 

Hola MI OLA Mermaids! I’m Becca, a fellow mermaid who travels to the little obscure places on the map just to see what’s there. My husband and I call our 1978 Toyota Chinook home as we roam around the American West doing what we do best – exploring! I’ve narrowed down the many recreational activities available to my personal favorites for you to do your own exploring in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The best beginner slot canyons : Peek-a-boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

With Peek-a-boo and Spooky Slot Canyons, you get a two for one deal! In one ½ day hike you can access two remarkable slot canyons. These slots aren’t technical, just a little rock scrambling with enough adventure to get your feet wet in the world of canyoneering.

To get there: Follow Hole in the Rock Road (BLM 200) for 25.9 miles. Turn left on BLM 252 and continue to the trailhead.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The best overnight backpacking trip : Reflection Canyon

Backpacking to Reflection Canyon is not for the faint at heart. You will be guaranteed blisters, sweltering heat, a hellacious desert slog, tricky navigating with a GPS, and incredible views. It’s 20 miles of rough going to say the least. With that being said, sunrise and sunset on the edge of a sandstone cliff overlooking the colorful lines of Reflection Canyon is an adventure you will surely never forget.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

To get there: Follow Hole in the Rock Road for 52 miles to the following GPS coordinates (37°15’21.70″N, 110°57’47.25″W). You will need a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance to make it to the trailhead. From the trailhead, be sure to have GPS waypoints, a compass, plenty of water, and be sure to tell someone where you are going. Stop at the Visitor Center in Escalante before you go to get all the up to date information.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The best desert waterfall: Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls is a gorgeous, 126 ft waterfall smack in the middle of the desert providing relief on the hot days. An easy 6 mile roundtrip trail leads hikers to a Lower Calf Creek Falls plummeting into a pleasant swimming hole. It’s the perfect place to relax during the heat of the day for a picnic!

To get there: From Escalante, follow UT-12 west towards Boulder for 16 miles to the trailhead on the left hand side of the road.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Where to Stay:

The newest lodging option in the area are Escalante Yurts! A friendly husband and wife duo personally welcome into beautifully decorated yurts with homemade breakfast scones from a local bakery. If you visit Escalante, you must stay here!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Where to Eat:

Escalante doesn’t have too many restaurants to choose from but every single one of them are delicious. Believe me, I tried them all! My personal favorites are Circle D Eatery and Escalante Outfitters. Circle D Eatery has locally raised beef to refuel after a long hike, Escalante Outfitters offers delicious pizza as well as lunch to go.

To Keep in Mind as you Plan your Adventure

  • Be sure to carry plenty of water and snacks. Hiking in the desert is not a casual stroll in the park!
  • Stop at the Visitor Center to talk to the local rangers. Pick up trail maps and ask about weather conditions. Escalante is wayyyyy out there, be prepared.
  • Plan a few days in Escalante to really get to know the area. You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Travels Mermaids!