August
29

How to Help Donate to those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Last week, a major hurricane slammed into Texas. Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a powerful category 4 hurricane last Friday. Almost a week later, even though Harvey now is a tropical storm, the storm is still wreaking havoc on Texas with an unprecedented amount of rainfall. Unprecedented as in some areas of Texas could see 50 inches of rain in a span of a couple of days, in comparison to the annual rainfall being 50 inches. Read on below to learn more about how you can best donate to those affected by Hurricane Harvey by MI OLA Chief Bikini Officer Helena.

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George Huntoon helped Monica Aizpurua and her daughter Tristan Aizpurua, 18, to a boat in the Meyerland area of Houston. Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Graphic courtesy NY Times

Houston is underwater. The water is still rising. 450,000 could seek disaster assistance. 11 trillion gallons of rain has already come down on Texas. 56,000 calls to Houston 911 in 15 hours. Around 13 million people are under flood watches and warnings stretching from Corpus Christi to New Orleans as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey menace the already drenched Texas and Louisiana. And the hurricane is expected to pass over Houston again in a few days.

Graphic courtesy NY Times

This is an insane, mind-boggling disaster. People are suffering… and recovery is going to take years. We all need to help. But how?

DON’T DONATE TO THE RED CROSS. Donate to organizations that will be on the ground helping people get back on their feet.

My favorite organization that is helpful to disasters around the world? Team Rubicon. They are an amazing organization that deploys veterans to disaster zones. These people are on the ground, salvaging belongings and helping people.

Other great options are donating to local organizations and churches that can help people immediately in the areas affected, with very low overhead.

Why am I anti Red Cross? Experience. And Data.

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As a resident of the Rockaways, we were made homeless by Hurricane Sandy. It was the first time of my life that I didn’t know where I would sleep, and we also had my 18 month old girl with us. Every day, we went back to Rockaway to salvage our belongings and do what we could to save the house — without electricity, running water, or heat — and it was below freezing some days. We saw a LOT of media. And we saw a lot of amazing volunteers and organizations from around the world that helped the people on the Rockaway Peninsula. (Thank you!)

We did not see the Red Cross. Oh wait, except for on TV — you know that big concert with Bon Jovi that raised over $300Million for Hurricane Sandy victims. That money that was very slow to be distributed and some of which was moved to other areas of the country after the Red Cross determined that no more help was needed in the Rockaways.

(BTW — Our neighborhood is still rebuilding and still has abandoned, crumbling houses — almost 5 years after the Hurricane. Many people I know did not receive any aid. The ones that are back in their houses? Many paid to rebuild without any payout from insurance, or funds from FEMA.)

People walk through floodwaters on Telephone Road in Houston on Sunday after 2 feet of rain from Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Gulf Coast. Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

People walk through floodwaters on Telephone Road in Houston on Sunday after 2 feet of rain from Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Gulf Coast.
Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

Others concur about the lack of Red Cross efforts in the wake of natural disasters. A friend who was displaced by Hurricane Irene says “They (Red Cross) gave us a mop with 1 mini snickers and Tylenol. Which inspired much laughter in my neighborhood. A mop? There was LITERALLY 5 feet of water in my house.”

Another affected by Hurricane Sandy says “The mop they gave me was broken.”

Additionally, the media has covered how BAD the Red Cross is at natural disaster relief.

During Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, 40% of the Red Cross Relief Trucks were diverted for public relations (ie, providing a clean truck to appear in the background while officials speak)

25% of the funds raised to help Hurricane Victims in Haiti was used for internal expenses

So where should you donate?

Team Rubicon was excellent after Hurricane Sandy and is on the ground in Texas now.

Here are a couple of articles with lists with other great options.

How to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims (Slate)

Hurricane Harvey Charities That Work (VOX. please skip over the Red Cross plug and choose from the other organizations.)

Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By Harvey

Let’s get started helping the Hurricane Harvey Victims rebuild their lives. They are suffering. Let’s make sure that our donations reach them and make a difference.

August
25

Top Five Labor Day Weekend Trips

With Labor Day next weekend, why not send off summer with a three-day weekend exploring the outdoors? Need some inspiration? You are in luck as we have you covered (literally!) with our top five trips to take before summer ends. Check it out below:

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Roadtrip in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a collection of 43 islands connected by the 113 mile/42 bridge Overseas Highway. Follow our ambassador Amanda (@Mermanda_) on a mermaid style road trip down the Florida keys where she uncovers and discovers sunken treasures in her own backyard.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

 

Chase Waterfalls in Escalante, Utah

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 chase some gorgeous waterfalls. Check out ambassador Becca’s #GetOutThereGuide to Escalante, with over 3,000 square miles of pristine backcountry paradise.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Learn to Kiteboard in the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks in North Carolina is an outdoor lover’s playground, from fishing, hang gliding, world class surfing, windsurfing, SUP boarding, jet skiing, boating, kayaking, biking, or taking kiteboarding lessons with ambassador Adrienne (@yokeens). So go on hop in the car and head to the Outer Banks, a 200 mile long barrier island that sits off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

 

Explore Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches

This tropical island paradise is the home of MI OLA 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 (like hiking El Yunque Rainforest). After you check out her guide to her top five beaches in Puerto Rico, you’ll be booking the next flight to Puerto Rico!

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

 

Surf trip to El Salvador

Are you feeling really adventurous and need to get off the grid for more than a couple of days? Head on down to El Salvador to catch some beautiful waves – – El Salvador’s coastline has 200 miles of beautiful beaches with magnificent, clean point breaks that are mostly right handers. Ambassador Verena has you covered with her Surf Guide to El Salvador!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Verena – @laa_sirenaa

 

 

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
19

Surf Guide: Morocco

When MI OLA brand ambassador Susi @insta_susi isn’t surfing waves in her home country of Norway or chasing the Northern Lights, she loves to explore new places to surf. This past February Susi and her husband packed their bags and headed to Morocco to surf and explore. Check our Susi’s Surf Guide to Morocco below!

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Africa’s longest wave, Imsouane. Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

Morocco is a country on the Northwest coast of North Africa.  It’s at a similar latitude as the Canary Islands and not too far south of Spain. Morocco is one of the most diverse countries in all of Africa, boasting high mountains, desserts and a long rugged coastline. Winding colorful alleyways in ancient medina cities and souqs make you feel like you are in a fairy-tale like 1001 nights.

Morocco has been a popular European winter escape since the 1970s. Hippies and surfers would camp and explore the coastline and the country for months on end. Most moroccan people still lead a traditional life on the countryside. Morocco’s ancient medinas are quite the contrast to the rural areas. These antique old towns are bustling with life. The country boasts four imperial cities. Marrakesh, Fes, Meknes and Rabat are packed full of colorful bazaars, stunning palaces and bustling town squares. In fact, Unesco has bestowed World Heritage Status on the Fez medina, the world’s largest medieval Islamic city, as well as parts of Marrakesh.

Morocco is an Islamic country.  You will hear prayer calls in the morning and evenings. If you speak French or English, most people will understand you – their native tongue is Moroccan Arabic or Berber. The currency is Dirham with 1 USD giving you about 9 Dirham and 1 Euro gives you roughly 11 Dh (as of August 2017.)  You can travel by train or bus from city to city. Taxis are fairly cheap and rental cars are also an option, just watch out for erratic drivers.

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Surf in Morocco.Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

Surf Guide to Morocco:

Morocco boasts waves all year round, but the better, bigger waves are found in the winter months November-March. Bring a wetsuit around this time as the ocean temp is only 60-64 degrees. The summer months will have small waves, but it’s also very hot (often over 100 degrees Farenheit, 35 degress Celsius.)  Always ask the locals or surf guides which surf spots will work best on certain tides and swells.

To escape the cold winter in Norway, we flew to Adagir in late February. Norwegian Air offers direct flights from Oslo to Adagir (or Copenhagen – Agadir) every Saturday in the winter time, so off we went to enjoy a week of warm weather, good waves and no kids.  While I prefer the tropical flair of Hawaii and Bali, this was a great way to maximize surfing time and not waste days on travel since the flights from Oslo only take 5 hours and from Agadir Airport it is only a little over one hour car ride to the beachside village of Taghazout.

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MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

Taghazout

This place is a little surf mecca with the world renowned Anchor Point and plenty of other waves within walking distance. Kind of like the North Shore of Oahu, you will find wave after wave within a really short distance. The village caters mainly for surf tourists with a surf shop, many board rentals and surf schools. Many of these offer packages for overnight stays and surf lessons.  At the south end of Taghazout there is a long, white sand beach where you can swim, play ball on the beach, rent sun-chairs or ride camels (this is your spot where you get your photo on a camel on the beach). Along the next 2 to 3 km north you will find plenty of right hand point breaks, and famous Anchor Point. Anything after Killer Point you will need a car. Also, if you have a surfboard with you, it is nice to just take the car from Taghazout and park in front of the big surf breaks.

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MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

If there is a big swell and good waves, an immense crowd will gather and watch the best surfers battle it out at Anchor Point. It is very much like when Pipeline goes off! The surf will be crowded, so unless you are very good, you are best to watch on those days and bring a camera. A real nail-biter to watch is people jumping off the rocks to get out to the surf break. This is not for the fainthearted and it is important to time your entry right with big sets rolling in.

Post surf: If you are lucky the doughnut man or mint tea man will walk past on the beach and you can buy some yummy moroccan treats.

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Anchor Point. Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

 

Anza:

About 20-30 minutes south of Taghazout on the way to Agadir you will find a surf spot called Anza. This place is a nice beach break with various peaks, lefts and rights. Make sure you walk to the end of the beach to check out the dinosaur footprints that are embedded in the rock shelf. You will find a couple of yellow info signs there.

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Dinosaur footprints at Anza. Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

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Dinosaur footprints at Anza. Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

Imsouane:

About an hour and fifteen minutes north of Taghazout you will find one of Africa’s longest waves, Imsouane, or lovingly called, “the bay”. It is a long right hand point break that rolls into a safe bay. It is very easy here to catch the longest wave of your life, walk back around the sandy beach and have a short paddle out just to do it all over again. As the wave can be a tiny bit sluggish, it is enjoyed by a lot of longboarders. Surf schools are big here too, so expect a crowded line-up! If you are a short-boarder, this place is still heaps of fun on your shortboard and I highly recommend it. Next time I definitely want to stay in this sleepy fishing village and surf some epic, long waves.

At high tide, the wave just about disappears, so grab some delicious fresh seafood at one of the beachside restaurants. You won’t find any better freshly squeezed orange juice anywhere in the world – the flavor is awesome as the oranges are locally grown! If you are a surfer and want a place to stay, try the BoardXhouse – a surf house overlooking the surf break and bay with a rooftop swimming pool.

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Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

 

 

 

What to do in Morocco (besides surf!):

Visit a souk! Markets are called souks and are one of the biggest attractions all over the country. Souks are major feature in Moroccan life and act as the heart of a city. Within a souk there are various sections that specialize in certain crafts. All the spices will be sold in one area while the rugs, fabrics and jewellery will all have their own place. Be sure to bargain about the price!!!

Discover ancient Morocco by visiting one of the imperial towns like Marrakesh and Fes and get transported back in time.

Go on a camel-back trek with an overnight stay in the Sahara and stay in a traditional Berber tent.

Climb North Africa’s highest peak. With 4167 meters you can even bring your skis along, but be prepared to carry them for a good part of the way.

 

Where to Stay:

We stayed a week at the Lapoint Surf Camp and chose their “basic” model, which is accommodation with breakfast and dinner. This way, we could head with our rental car to wherever the waves where best and were independent. Lapoint’s main clients were in their 20s and learning to surf or working on their surf skills that they had acquired on a previous surf trip. (Some Lapoint camps offer more than level three coaching, where you can choose intermediate or advanced surfing options and get a surf coach + video analysis.) Lapoint surf camp offers dorm rooms for either 4 or 8 people with their own showers and toilets. If you want a bit more privacy, you can pay extra and opt for one of their two apartments – that’s what my husband and I opted for.

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MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

Breakfast and dinner were both buffet style and served on a rooftop terrace overlooking the fishing village. Free Wi-Fi and healthy, tasty meals were exactly what one wants to relax a bit after surfing. For lunch we went downstairs to La Paix or Sunset, but there are quite a few other restaurant options as well.

Twice a week Lapoint offers free yoga classes for guests on their roof top terrace –It was nice to stretch after all that surfing!

Other options in Taghazout are Berbere surf school, WOW (World of Waves – – which just recently opened and offers beautiful double rooms and a lovely restaurant for non guests overlooking a surf spot right at the beach. Their food was delicious and reasonably well priced.), and Sol House in Taghazout bay, quite close to Anchor point. (This is where Carissa More stayed in January. There are beautiful, small, freestanding wooden bungalows with a lovely pool overlooking the ocean. Since the area around Agadir is quite earthquake prone, this will be your safest accommodation since all the other buildings are made of brick.)

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World of Waves. Photograph by MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi

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MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

Families or a group of friends could rent an apartment at La Source, a few hundred meters north of Anchor point. Surf spots Mysteries, La Source and Killer Point are right in front! There is a pool area where you can nicely watch the surf at all three breaks. Also, you can sunbathe and swim in the little bay just to the right where you will be paddling out (or walking along the cliff ) to surf Killer Point.

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Photograph by @kkbrunvaer

How to get there: 

By ferry: From Spain there are 5 ferry-ports that reach 4 different ports in Morocco. If you are adventurous, book yourself a flight to the south of Spain, rent a car there and travel to Morocco by ferry. This can be your cheapest option and the quickest ferry routes take 1 hour.

By plane: Options are Casablanca (CMN), Menara (RAK) – just 6km away from Marrakesh, Adagir (AGA) and a lot more. National air travel is also a good option to get from A to B if you have little time.

Good to know:

Dress with modesty as it is a Muslim county and go easy on public affection if you travel with your partner. Cheeky bikini bottoms are OK, but not thong!  Also, be careful when getting changed in and out of your wetsuit on the beach. I had to gather all three surfbuddies around me once as two men just stopped 2 meters away from me and gave me death stares as I was changing. As far as clothing, avoid wearing anything sexy or revealing. As a rule of thumb, ussually skirts and shorts should cover the knees and one shouldn’t see much cleavage or the shoulders. Since Taghazout is a surf town, they said tank tops are OK and that one could wear shorts. Finally, watch your belongings or hide them out of sight in your car.

 

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
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.)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!!!