Grand Canyon Awaits

Grand Canyon Phantom/ Crystal Creek Cross-Country Loop

Grand Canyon Phantom/ Crystal Creek Cross-Country Loop

Destination…Grand Canyon National Park.

Dan and I are on our way to meet Arrow, my good friend for a 6 day backpack. Arrow spent a good amount of time planning this adventure in the Grand Canyon. The trek is mostly off trail, winding through canyons, passing by Indian ruins, and dipping down to the Colorado River 4 times. Because of the difficulty and lack of water sources of the trip, she communicated with the Backcountry Rangers quite a few times for them to issue the permit.

The Google Earth screenshot above is our general route plan that I created using Viewranger’s online mapping software. Pretty cool, huh?

This is the perfect opportunity to not only train for our upcoming Scotland trip, but to also test some new gear choices. I am again back on my phone posting journal blog entries realtime from the trail (or in this case, from my car). It is not an easy task writing on a tiny little keyboard at the end of a long day. I am trusting that once I get back writing on this limiting little screen as I am doing right now, it will be great! I think it is so important to share during an important trip, rather than coming home and reflecting back.

We are looking forward to using and testing: Gossamer Gear Gorilla and Mariposa backpacks, ZPacks Duoplex cuben tent, Viewranger GPS app, Golite Crome Dome umbrella, Sawyer Squeeze Mini, Cascadia 9 trailrunners, EZ Share SD card, iPhone 5s with Lifeproof case, map navigation skills, variety of new hiking clothes, Smartwool toesocks, and Sea to Summit long spork.

With excitement I am writing this, in anticipation of traveling on foot with all I need on my back. We hit the trail tomorrow morning.

Thank you readers for following along on my treks and constantly encouraging and amazing me. I am looking forward to you all sharing your stories and thoughts in blog comments during the upcoming months!


The Hiking Life: Cam “Swami” Honan Visits tHInK outsidE

Swami and Rockin'

Swami and Rockin’ at tHInK outsidE Presentation

Cam “Swami” Honan, a long-distance hiker who has hiked more than 50,000 miles in some 55 countries gave a very informative and entertaining presentation to my 5th-6th grade tHInK outsidE class. This humble, positive, and giving man took time to visit our class just after finishing hiking from the lowest point in Death Valley to the highest point, Mount Whitney with friends Malto, Dirtmonger, and Bobcat. Swami has devoted hours to creating his website The Hiking Life, which is packed with hiking information and photos. A couple of years ago, I met Swami while hiking on the PCT and have written several times on this blog about him: June 16-Blessings and BIG Party, Swami Hikes over 14,000 Miles, and ADZPCTKO 2013.

Malto and Swami after Lowest to Highest Adventure

Malto and Swami after Lowest to Highest Adventure

Continue reading

Freebie: April Wallpaper

Happy April Showers! Free April 2014 Calendar Desktop/Smartphone Wallpaper

I am so grateful for our recent rains in California. Over the last couple weeks it has rained off and on with snow, hail, wind, and cold sprinkled in. Tremendous. Last night I enjoyed pings of rain on my rooftop. Big smile.

I do realize that this is April 5 and I am just now sending the monthly wallpaper. This date just slipped by as I was with students last week at Camp KEEP, an environmental education camp. Good excuse don’t you think?

Bear Valley Springs Double Rainbow – This month’s photo was taken shortly after a down pour in my beloved valley.

  • iPhone 4/4sTip: If you are using iOS7 and are having trouble resizing your wallpaper on your phone (I was), turn on Reduce Motion. Go to  Settings>General>Accessibility. It is magic.
  • iPhone 5/5c/5sTip: Same setting change for the iPhone 5
  • Desktop - Large
  • Desktop – Small

Desktop photo without the added calendar:

Desktop Wallpaper Tips:
These monthly wallpapers are available in different sizes for your device of choice. Just click on a size of image you need to make it larger and download from there by right clicking, select Save as or Set as Desktop. Need help changing your wallpaper? Here are instructions for iOSAndroidOS XWindows 7 and Windows 8.
Additional tip: Choose an image larger than your screen size, and set the position to “center” or “fill screen” (not “stretch”).

A Walk in the Rain

It all begins.

We just hosted our first Pacific Crest Trail hiker of this season. Katie is hiking the PCT section between Hiker Town at Hwy. 138 to Kennedy Meadows during her Spring break. It was great fun talking gear, water reports, trail, and the cello. She is a professional cellist and was kind enough to snag my cello out of hiding and play for us. Due to water shortage, Katie left Hiker Town hauling 12 liters of water, yes 12 liters and was ready to do the same again as I bid her good-bye.

Little did I know that just a few hours later our area would be hit with wind, rain, fog, and cold. The PCT can quickly become unpredictable, unforgiving, and dangerous. I can’t wait to hear her stories after finishing this section. Katie blogs at A Skirt in the Dirt.

PCT hikers out there…Katie is updating the latest water information on the Pacific Crest Trail Water Report. This section of the PCT is historically one of the driest, but this year it is especially dangerous. The drought year has depleted the springs and Warner Springs Monty has reported that the important water caches at Kelso Valley Road and Bird Spring Pass will not be stocked this year.

Katie - PCT Section Hiker

Katie – PCT Section Hiker

Heading out from Hwy. 58 - Tehachapi

Heading out from Hwy. 58 – Tehachapi

Today I took advantage of our very rare rain storm and headed out with my Chrome Dome umbrella. It kept me and my pack dry and I was able to take pics without getting my camera wet. Nice. Here is my view while taking a walk in the rain.

A Walk in the Rain

A Walk in the Rain

Hey Class of 2014 PCTers!

Pacific Crest Trail Southern Terminus - 2012

Pacific Crest Trail Southern Terminus – 2012

Many of you have followed me since I first stepped on the Pacific Crest Trail,  June 12, 2010, when I started hiking one section of the PCT at a time. I am thankful I have shared the triumphs and defeats on this journey by posting on-trail journals every day. I cherish this record and you the reader’s words of encouragement, advice, and questions.

I have finished 1830.4 miles spanning from the Mexican border to Crater Lake, Oregon and have 833.1 miles to go! This summer I am hoping to complete this monster of a dream and finish the remaining miles through Oregon and Washington. The prospect of actually making this happen is pretty exciting. My heart races just thinking about it.

My journey into the world of thru-hiking with the big goal of completing the entire 2,650 miles of The Pacific Trail is attributed to many small and powerful experiences. Namely, meeting the “Lady on a Rock” just below Muir Pass on the John Muir Trail, the nudge of my family with the attitude of “OF COURSE you will do this” and our family’s first experience with PCT thru-hikers, Skyward and Yellowstone. After housing, transporting, and throughly enjoying being a small part of their journey, my husband Dan and I became hooked Trail Angels. We have since reaped the joy of hosting many other inspirational hikers in our home.

We live just outside Tehachapi, CA where the PCT passes 11 miles east of town. If you are a 2014 PCT hiker that would like some “Trail Magic” while passing through Tehachapi, just email us at rockin’

If you live near a trail town and have ever been interested in finding out what all this Trail Angeling is about, I would like to encourage you. The act of giving, comes back around a thousand fold. Need more motivation?

My fellow Gossamer Gear Ambassador and Trail Angel, Beekeeper wrote about her trail angel experiences in “Getting My Trail Angel Wings in Drakesbad“. Her post was published on Gossamer Gear. You can follow all of her adventures on her blog at Jan’s Jaunts and Jabberings. 


In my ongoing pursuit to Simplify my professional and personal life, I have organized all of my PCT resources into 3 handy web pages for future PCT section, day, thru-hikers, and dreamers.

Rockin’s Pacific Crest Trail Resource Pages:

  • Trail journals – List of blog posts featuring: before hike preparations, hosting hikers in Tehachapi, on-trail journals, after hike reflections, and a great Google Map with all my campsite locations.
  • PCT Gear/ Resources - PCT gear lists, links and resources I use before and during the hike, and hiking food links.
  • PCT Media - Links to my PCT videos and Flicker photo collections.

If you are new to my blog, I invite you to follow all my outdoor adventures on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr, and You Tube. Also, do not miss a single post by signing up to receive new updates by email. Just add your email address under “Get Post Updates” in the bottom left menu.

Bring on the new class of 2014 PCTers!

TGO Challenge 2014 Gear List

Photo from Colorado Trail Head Sign
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling”
~Margaret Lee Runbeck

I like making and sharing gear lists. Reading fellow hiker’s lists posted on the Internet has been a huge asset in my journey to go lighter, faster, and safer. The document serves as a weight monitor, shopping list, and organizer and can is a perfect check list for that last-minute backpacking trip. For me, it is that secret motivator to get my dreams into reality and start the hard work of detailed planning and training.

The Great Outdoors Challenge is just 8 1/2 weeks away.

My TGO gear planning is close to being finalized. For the crossing, a few items will serve to protect from Scotland’s cold, stormy, and wet elements. I will be packing full Gore-Tex rain-wear, gloves, neoprene socks, fleece, and hiking umbrella. Gone is my beloved Solar Charger (not enough sun). Highlights of new items I will be using in 2014: ZPacks Hexamid Duplex (20.9 ounces), ez Share wi fi card, and LIfeProof Nuud iPhone case.

Below are 2 ways to view my gear list. If you prefer a visual with shopping references, I have added my gear to Pinterest or view the gear on a Google spreadsheet with links, weights, and calculations.

2014 TGO Gear List

Click to view complete 2014 TGO Gear Spreadsheet

View my TGO Gear List on Pinterest

View all my gear lists and favorites:

Freebie: March Wallpaper

Windows of Mount Whitney March Wallpaper 2014

Happy March! Free March 2014 Calendar Desktop/Smartphone Wallpaper

Windows of Mount Whitney – This month’s photo was taken early morning looking at the east face of Mount Whitney. We summited that day via The Mountaineers Route.

Check it out the climb at:  Mount Whitney – Mountaineer’s Route

  • iPhone 4/4sTip: If you are using iOS7 and are having trouble resizing your wallpaper on your phone (I was), turn on Reduce Motion. Go to  Settings>General>Accessibility. It is magic.
  • iPhone 5/5c/5sTip: Same setting change for the iPhone 5
  • Desktop

Desktop photo without the added calendar:

Desktop Wallpaper Tips:
These monthly wallpapers are available in different sizes for your device of choice. Just click on a size of image you need to make it larger and download from there by right clicking, select Save as or Set as Desktop. Need help changing your wallpaper? Here are instructions for iOSAndroidOS XWindows 7 and Windows 8.
A tip: Choose an image larger than your screen size, and set the position to “center” or “fill screen” (not “stretch”).

It’s Official! TGO Route Vetted

Our TGO 2014 Route Summary

Our TGO 2014 Route Summary

Yaaaaaay…happy news! The route we created and submitted crossing Scotland from the west coast to the east coast for The Great Outdoors Challenge was vetted and APPROVED. This is largely due to the amazing help from the Challenge Forum of experienced TGO Challengers: Humphrey, Colin, Section Hiker, Vicky, and Gayleybird. Colin Tock, our vetter graciously sent us meticulous notes with camping, town, and route suggestions. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and very helpful suggestions.

Rockin’ and Dan’s TGO Route Stats:

  • 13 days
  • 218 miles or 351 kilometers
  • elevation gain – 43,566 feet or 13,279 meters
  • Start point – Shiel Bridge – May 10
  • Finish point – Stonehaven – May 22
  • Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) – 12
  • COUNTLESS water crossings

The Challenge requires a detailed plan with daily kilometers traveled, meters ascent, overnight camps, GPS coordinates, and Foul Weather Alternate routes. The Foul Weather Alternates are routes to take for safety in case of storms (Scotland is known for them) and dangerous water crossings. This winter Scotland is currently experiencing record snow. From the notes from our vetter, Colin Tock:

“At the time of this writing Scotland is experiencing some of the heaviest snowfalls in living memory with greater accumulations at the main ski centres than most of the European resorts, Whistler and even Sochi. By May snow is usually – but not always – restricted to the higher tops, although snow melt can obviously add to river difficulties.”

TGO References

TGO References

This was by far the biggest project I have taken on. At first, I was more than frustrated, but after finding a few tools it was fun. After experimenting with mapping software, websites and apps, I ended up using Routebuddy mapping software to create our route and Viewranger iPhone GPS app. The process required hours of analyzing maps, reading books, and plotting routes on software.

Gotta say I printed a ton of maps and taped them together. At one time the floor of my office was completely covered in a taped together maps offering possible routes. This visual made a great reference and helped to make important decisions.

Route Planning Using LOTS of Printed Maps

Route Planning Using LOTS of Printed Maps

It was the moment that I first looked at a topographical map of the area we would be crossing in Scotland that I knew this was a different kind of undertaking.

The map language was Gaelic, which may well have been in Swedish.

Place Name charts were very helpful, but don’t even ask me to pronounce even one name. That learning curve is for another day.

Gaelic Place Names

Gaelic Place Names

Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names

Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names

Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names

Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names

Check…Route has been vetted…
Check..Transportation arrangements are reserved
Check…New rain gear bought (gear list upcoming)
Check…Started training
To do…Still tons

Always be able to look back and say “At least I didn’t lead no humdrum life. “
~Forest Gump

Bring on the Class of 2014 tHInK outsidE

Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
~Regina Brett, from 45 Lesson Life Taught Me

tHInK outsidE Website

tHInK outsidE Website

So excited to share that tomorrow starts a new tHInK outsidE class. This year I will be teaching 10, 70 minute classes to 5th and 6th graders all about the PCT, hiking, getting outside, gear, survival, food, and map reading.  Students are divided up into 2 classes of 22. This makes it very manageable to have lots of computer and group activity time. This year I am planning for the class to Skype with an upcoming triple crowner (Wired), welcome our local Search and Rescue back as guest speakers, and visit with a very famous long distance hiker (fingers crossed on this one). It is going to be GREAT!

Hiking Favorites of 2013

Yaaaaaaay!!!!!! 2013 Hiking Favorites list is up. This post is by far my most popular each year with thousands of reader hits. I was lucky in 2013 to trek over dirt and rock over 1500 miles. This made for a fair amount of gear testing.

This list features my favorite new outdoor items I used and loved. All items fall in line with my belief in keeping things simple and light. I also try to only buy new gear if my old gear is worn out or something lighter with more features hits the market.

2013 Hiking Favorites on Pinterest

Click to View in Pinterest

Thanks to Pinterest, my 2013 Hiking Favorites are again visually portrayed with purchasing and weight information.

Here they are not in any specific order…

Sleeping Bag:   Zpacks 10 Degrees, Medium Length, Regular Width 19.4 ounces $410.00 – I had lots of reservations at first about this bag. It didn’t have a hood and the design is super skinny. I am 5’2″ and get cold easily. After sleeping in this bag over 80 nights I am in love. It is super light, warm, comes with a waterproof cuben fiber roll top sack, and stayed pretty much odor free. This bag will be in my pack on Scotland’s TGO and PCT this summer.
Pillow Stuff Sack: 
ZPacks Pillow Dry Bag, medium 1.65 ounces $28.95 – The roll top cuben fiber dry bag is the perfect size for holding clothing during the day. Turn it inside out at night, stuff it with extra clothes or a Flex-Air pillow for a very soft and comfortable pillow.
Solar Charger:
Suntactics Charger 5  8 ounces $139.95 – This is the only charger I carried on the CDT last summer. It charges incredibly fast in direct sunlight. I also used it on top my pack on sunny days. As long as there were a few hours of bright sun during the day, this charger was all I needed to recharge 2 iPhones and a camera. Caution: For trips in complete tree cover or inclement weather, I would suggest using another option or turn your phone off and use it as little as possible hoping for a little bright sun. 
Down Jacket:
Mountain Hardware Womens Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket, mens jacket 7 ounces  $319.00 – Super light, super warm, great fit, and comes in great colors.
Wind Jacket:
Patagonia Women’s Houdini Jacket, Men’s Houdini Jacket  3.5 ounces $99.00 Awesome to hike in for cool or windy days. I had this jacket on at least once every day on my thru-hikes. It is a part of my working layering system and is always in my pack for short day hikes, runs, or long hikes.
Convertible Pants:
prAna Monarch Convertible Pant regular length, short length, tall length $80.00 Love the fit, water and dirt resistant material, durability, and length of shorts. This season they even come in different pant leg lengths. They run a little big.  I usually wear a size 6 and order a 4 short in this pant.
Leatherman CS Clip-on Multi-tool with Scissors 1.4 ounces  $18.03 This addition to the list comes from my son, Silly Chili. On our 2 month hike last summer, he managed to use this thing at least a couple of times a day opening and cutting all kinds of things. It features spring-action scissors, a file, knife, tweezers, bottle opener and mini-screwdriver.
Lightest Cathole Trowels On The Planet Titanium size original .3 ounce $29.00  – Confession. I have yet to dig a proper cathole with a rock, stick, or hiking pole. In an unofficial competition this little .3 ounce wonder outperformed the heavier and bigger U Shovel.
Trail Runners: Brooks Womens Cascadia 9 / Brooks Mens Cascadia 9  $120.00 – Silly Chili and I both used Cascadia 7 and 8 models last summer. Brooks just introduced the new Cascadia 9. I love the new updated improvements. Comfy, light support, and grippy.
Utensil: Open Country Plastic Measuring Cup 1 ounce $1.50 – Small, very durable, easy to hold, and sports inside measurement markers.
Water Filter: Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System 3 ounce $19.99 For details on how great the filter works, check out my gear review: Gear Review: Sawyer Mini Water Filter
Podcasts: The Trail Show podcasts are very entertaining, informative and educational. All the hosts are triple crowners and very experienced. It is good to know ahead of time that one of the main focuses of the show is beer tasting and drinking. Worth the downloads….great listening while you are on a long hike!  FREE
Best Climb: Hands down, 14er Grays Peak, Colorado. Serious scenery, challenge, and lots of hiker shenanigans. View lots of pics and a short write up here: June 27 – Two 14ers One Day
Best section of trail: CDT Alternate Route – Wind River Range – Seneca Lake to Beaver Park. Read about that here: July 23 – Knapsack Col / Go Away Bear
iPhone App:
PicTapGo! photography app. $1.99 This was the only photo app I used for posting photos in on-trail blog posts. Super easy with beautiful filters. My favorite trail landscape filters are: Auto Color, Shadows, Brightside, and Lights On 
BurstFIT: $46.93 Dr. Josh Axe’s complete home Fitness Workout DVD program is divided up into 7, 20 minute workouts that rotate muscle groups throughout the week. The burst-interval system combines strength, cardio, and core training, the perfect conditioning for outdoor sports. Our family really likes that in every workout there are 3 athletes doing 3 different levels, videos have low impact options, and moves along quickly. The whole family can actually workout together happily at their optimum fitness level. $46.93
Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Seriously, after watching this adventure and action packed movie, I just knew I could hike across Scotland in the TGO Challenge successfully. This was the first 3 hour movie that my husband, Dan sat through without looking at his watch. It was that good.

Note: Rockin’s yearly favorites list are just the new things of the year that I loved. Check out my other hiking favorites lists for other gear I use and continue to find very useful.

What are your hiking and gear favorites? Please share.

Freebie: February Wallpaper

Desktop – Large (2560×1440)

Happy February!
Free February 2014 Calendar Desktop/Smartphone Wallpaper

This month’s photo was taken on a short day hike on the way down from Wawona Point in the Mariposa Grove – Yosemite National Park . The day was wet, cold and sleeting. The photo captures snow lightly falling. If you live in California you are certainly aware of our drought conditions. This photo motivates me to pray for wet weather and to diligently conserve water. In contrast, Dan and I visited this same area in 2011, a record high snow year. Pretty amazing and scary. Check it out:  Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point Cross-country Ski (Yosemite)

BTW: I love the calendar on my iPhone for quick reference. It is a convenient time saver.

I also had a few requests for the desktop photo without the added calendar:

Desktop Wallpaper Tips:
These monthly wallpapers are available in different sizes for your device of choice. Just click on a size of image you need to make it larger and download from there by right clicking, select Save as or Set as Desktop. Need help changing your wallpaper? Here are instructions for iOSAndroidOS XWindows 7 and Windows 8.
A tip: Choose an image larger than your screen size, and set the position to “center” or “fill screen” (not “stretch”).

Scotland Bound – The Great Outdoors Challenge

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
~From the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Scotland's The Great Outdoors Challenge 2014
BIG news… my husband, Dan and I were selected to participate in The Great Outdoors Challenge 2014, a west coast-to-east coast cross-country backpack across Scotland. I am super excited and honored because only 300 participants are selected each year with only a handful from the United States. The annual event is May 9 – May 23. The Challenge is sponsored by The Great Outdoors Magazine (much like Backpacker Magazine in the United States), in partnership with the outdoor company, hanwag.

The fun and difficult task of Challengers is the responsibly of planning their own routes across the entire country passing through Scotland’s Highlands, Monadhliath Mountains, and Cairngorm Mountains.

The TGO is entirely non-competitive (although, on finishing, Challengers receive a special badge, certificate and T-shirt). A maximum of 15 days is allowed for the crossing. Most people take between 12 and 14 days to cross, and the average length for a crossing is about 180 miles. The Challenge demands a good level of competence in navigation, survival techniques, campcraft and general hillcraft that requires crossing rivers, climbing Munros (peaks over 3,000 feet), walking through peat bogs, bad weather bypasses, mud, and boulder fields. There are no pre-blazed trails, just hill walking.

Our route plan is due February 15th to an experienced vetter, who will offer comments and assistance in final route approval. The detailed route plan must be flexible enough to provide alternate/safe detours if the weather is bad.

I should add that Dan and I applied for our first passport ever. Fitting that we will hit the ground walking the minute we land in a foreign country. Love it.

It is going to be super helpful that the event is renowned for its sociability and camaraderie. We are looking forward to experiencing Scotland’s beautiful landscape, culture, and hiking community. Oh and I might add, the event has a VERY informative and encouraging message board.

The Challenge begins.

Example of Participant Created Routes across Scotland

Example of Participant Created Routes across Scotland

Freebie: Happy New Year Desktop Wallpaper

January Desktop Wallpaper

January Desktop Wallpaper (download below)


To start off the celebration of a New Year, I am offering a January calendar to download to your computer or mobile device. I find that just looking at beautiful scenery every day whether on a computer or outdoors promotes mental health and gives that gentle reminder to get out enjoy life.

Each month this year I will be posting a new calendar to download. Enjoy and feel free to share!

2014 Desktop Wallpaper

These monthly wallpapers are available in different sizes for your device of choice. Just click on a size of image below to make it larger and download from there by right clicking, select Save as or Set as Desktop. Need help changing your wallpaper? Here are instructions for iOSAndroidOS XWindows 7 and Windows 8.
A tip: Choose an image larger than your screen size, and set the position to “center” or “fill screen” (not “stretch”).

January 2014
This months photo was taken last winter looking from the summit ridge to Mt. Baden-Powell in Angeles National Forest. It was an icy, cold and clear day. You can read about it HERE.

CD Calendar 2014

CD Calendar 2014

It is back…my 4th annual CD calendar. During the holidays I have more fun making and giving these beautiful little inspirations. The photos on the calendar are from my 2013 outdoor adventures and fit into a CD jewel case (January’s calendar is from Mt. Baden-Powell snowshoe). I love having this quick date and month reference on my desk. It is mighty handy.

2014 Calendar - created by Christy Rosander

Calendar Front with Monthly Thumbnails

For the second year in a row as a huge thank you to my top commenters on this blog, I would like to send you a copy of my 2014 CD Calendar. Commenting takes a lot of thought, time, and sometimes wrangling with a computer or mobile device to share your words in that little comment box. Thank you! I will contact you lucky folks soon by email for your mailing addresses.

Check out 2011, 2012, and 2013 calendars.

But wait there is more. Tomorrow I will be sharing my first Freebie download on this site. So stay tuned. :)