A Look Back: Experiencing the Re-Entry Blues and How to Cope

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Standing at the bottom of Mooney Falls. WOW.
In 2012, Columbia Sportswear took ten people who talk a lot about the outdoors on the internet and brought them together as the first-ever #OmniTenOur first adventure together took us to Sedona, Arizona, to Havasupai, and all over the Grand CanyonThough I'd experienced the re-entry blues before, I'd never felt anything like I did when I came home from that trip. 

This piece, which originally appeared on the Expand Outdoors blog in 2012, is meant to pay homage to one of the most incredible experiences of my outdoors life. When I read it the other day, man did those memories come flooding back. A lot's changed for all of us over the past four years, but this trip, we'll always have this in common!

Wake up. Turn off air conditioner. Take shower. Pet cats. Head into the city. Ignore traffic. Revel in shade created by tall building after tall building. Remember how a short time ago, the same sought-after shade was created by towering red rock canyon walls. Trip over a dead cockroach. Grab an iced coffee. Feel the incredible absence of two dozen new friends. Sigh.

How to Pick the Perfect Day Hike for You

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Hawk Mountain, a favorite Pennsylvania day hike.
Though we're into the last full month of summer, there's still plenty of time to get out and explore before the weather starts to change. (And if you're anything like me, you're looking forward to spending time outdoors in the fall anyway. It's hot right now!)

With so many things to think about, picking a day hike can be tough. Whether you're just starting out hiking, or you're a veteran and having trouble narrowing down your list of options, take a look at these tips to choose the perfect day hike for you.

Decide how far you're willing to travel.

I generally cap travel for day hikes at two hours one-way, with very few exceptions.  After a long day on the trail, I'm either asleep in the back seat after or dreading having to drive myself back and hoping any passengers I have will keep me entertained! (Some people love being in the driver's seat for hours on end, but I'm not one of them.) If you know you're only up for driving two hours or less one way, that'll help narrow down your options.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Helium II Jacket

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Exploring the Helium II's internal pocket. (PC: Dan Herscovitch)
Earlier this week, we took a look at Outdoor Research's newer warm weather layering options, the Women's Tantrum Hooded Jacket, which I got to test as part of the company's #ORInsightLab program. For the Lab, our job is to share gear feedback in specific categories for Outdoor Research.

In this piece, we'll take a look at the Women's Helium II Jacket, an evolved version of the original Helium. It was a top pick award dinner for Outdoor Gear Lab, was named among the best waterproof trail running jackets in Runners World, and was touted as a must-have layer by Canoe and Kayak Magazine. Needless to say, it had a lot to live up to!

I tested the Helium II to see how it performed as a layer when worn for some of my favorite outdoor pursuits - hiking, backpacking, and trail running. The verdict? It's ideal to keep handy on trail runs and hikes in case of a random rain storm in warm weather, but I'd love to see a few modifications. 

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Tantrum Jacket

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Testing the Tantrum in Vermont. (PC: Dan Herscovitch)
With a seemingly endless array of jackets out there, it can be tough to figure out which one to choose. It's possible to find a jacket that functions over multiple seasons and in multiple different types of weather conditions, but sometimes, it really does help to look for layers that serve a specific purpose.

I'm priveleged to be a part of another season of #ORInsightLab, a group "influential folks...who are diverse athletes and dynamic social storytellers. " For the Lab, our job is to share gear feedback in specific categories for Outdoor Research.

This season, I tried two of the company's lightest jackets this spring and summer - the Women's Tantrum Hooded Jacket and Women's Helium II Jacket. Though they have ultralight characteristics in common, both have some unique design features that make them idea for completely different situations.

In this piece, we'll look at the Women's Tantrum Hooded Jacket. It's ideal for trail runs, hikes, or backpacking trips as a windbreaker or extra light layer when you're in variable temperatures.

Backpacking West Virginia: 22 Miles in the Dolly Sods Wilderness

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Relaxing in my Serac Sequoia at camp on the second day.
When friends suggested heading to West Virginia for a backpacking trip over Independence Day weekend, I was dubious. Heading south in July seemed insane. But with terrain ranging from 2,600 to 4,100 feet above sea level, the Dolly Sods Wilderness is temperate, even in the middle of the summer. The climate is more similar to parts of Canada than neighboring states; setting sights in a southerly direction could actually result in a reprieve from the heat.

I also learned there are wild blueberries all over Dolly Sods. And it looks like this. I was sold.

The high altitude plateau sits within the Monogahela National Forest and gets its name from a combination of the name "Dahle" and "sods," a local term for an open mountaintop meadow. Some of the terrain we hiked was once covered by dense forests, but the arrival of a nearby railway in the late 1800s brought logging to the area. Post-clear cut forest fires decimated the land, and during World War II, the US Army used the area for artillery and mortar maneuver practice.