Costa Rica I: Surprises, Deep Sea Fishing, and Exploring the Osa Peninsula with Columbia Sportswear

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Coming back in at the end of a long day of fishing.
Crocodile Bay Resort, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Being part of Columbia Sportswear's #OmniTen program requires that, among other things, you're always prepared for surprises.

Back in April, I got a phone call. "Can you swing nine days of vacation in June? You can? Great! Do you have a passport? You do? Great! We'll send information soon, but not much, and keep this trip a secret."

Throughout the month of May, I got a questions about sizing clothes and shoes, a short packing list, and one-way plane tickets to and from Atlanta. In early June, a duffel full of brightly colored Columbia PFG and casual apparel arrived. A week later, a smaller duffel with Spring '16 Columbia PFG and active apparel arrived, complete with laminated cards with outfits I'd need to wear on specific days of the trip.

But as far as information about where I were going, what I'd be doing, and who else was coming,  I was kept almost completely in the dark.

Gear Review and Giveaway: Nightrider LED Headlamp and Why Headlamps Are Awesome

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The Nightrider LED Headlamp.
When you're running around at night, setting up camp after a long day on the trail, or looking for something in the back of a closet, being able to see in the dark is pretty important. Using your smartphone's flashlight or a standard flashlight are both options, but when it comes to choosing a light source, you'll want to think about getting a headlamp for a variety of reasons.

1. Flashlights tend to be heavier and take up more space than a headlamp, and if  you're conserving weight on a backpacking trip, taking a headlamp will make your pack lighter.

2. Using your phone's flashlight drains the battery, and I know if I'm near water and need light, the last thing I'm going to do is risk dropping my phone in the drink.

3. Wearing a headlamp means you've got two free hands to do whatever you need to do in the dark. Whether it's making dinner, setting up camp, even just walking from your campsite to the campground bathroom, it's super helpful to have maximum dexterity.

#ORInsightLab Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Aspire Waterproof Shell Jacket

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My "don't fall in the tide pools on the first day
of the Lost Coast backpacking trip." (C. Sibley.)
When it comes to staying protected from the elements, particularly rain and wind, having a good jacket as a top layer is essential. Staying warm and dry not only makes your day out more comfortable, it'll also keep you safer.

As part of my participation in the Outdoor Research #ORInsightLab project, I had a chance to test one of the newest additions to the company's line of waterproof shells, the Women's Aspire Jacket.

The Aspire is designed to be completely waterproof, making it ideal for rainy spring and summer adventures. I took the Aspire to California for my Lost Coast backpacking trip and out on rainy spring days in the Philadelphia area to see how it held up.

Trip Report: Backpacking the Lost Coast Trail, Part Two, Randall Creek to Shipman Creek to Black Sands Beach

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Signage is minimal, but the trail itself is easy to follow.
Just be careful; there's still quite a bit of private land.
Tread respectfully.
In last week's trip report, we covered getting to Mattole Beach and hiking to Randall Creek. This week, it's time to tackle the rest of our Lost Coast Trail adventure to Black Sands Beach and beyond.

Day Two: Randall Creek to Shipman Creek

I woke just before my alarm went off at 6:30am on the second day. Our goal was to get past the third section of impassable-at-high-tide terrain (four miles between Miller Flat and Gitchell Creek with plenty of time to spare, and to get out of camp before the other folks who'd joined us throughout the evening had packed up. I broke out a Mountain House Breakfast Skillet and Barnie's Coffee Kitchen coffee extract, boiled water, and chowed down after packing up.

We left Randall Creek just after 8:00am and got to Spanish Flat quickly. The trail had taken us up over a small hill and continued through knee high grasses, wildflower stands, and across streams surrounded by lush greenery. It was incredible to see how the landscape changed mile to mile.

Trip Report: Backpacking the Lost Coast Trail, Part One, Mattole Beach to Randall Creek

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We were grateful to find portions of the trail on flat land.
Most avid backpackers have a bucket list full of trails they want to try, and I'm no exception. Up until recently, Northern California's Lost Coast Trial wasn't on my list because, ashamedly, I'd never heard of it.

When a pair of good friends I'd met in the Tetons and Yellowstone two winters ago invited me on a group trip to the Lost Coast, it took about ten seconds of looking at photos for me to enthusiastically agree to go. (Not to mention the fact that the trail is one of Backpacker Magazine's Best Hikes Ever.)

What's so special about the Lost Coast? If the pictures aren't enticing enough, it's also one of the few coastal wilderness experiences available in the United States. The Bureau of Land Management holds jurisdiction over the portion of the Lost Coast Trail we hiked in the King Range National Conservation Area, and given how rugged and isolated the area is, it's a wonder anyone visits at all.