Forest Bathing // Shinrin-Yoku

Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”. Forest bathing is fairly self explanatory; just take a relaxing walk under the forest canopy, breath deeply, and soak in all the health benefits. It’s a popular preventative health care practice in Japan. I’ve always noticed a significant positive shift in my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state after spending some quality time in nature but I’ve never really understood exactly what attributed to that. Vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise are all fabulous benefits of getting outside but there are many other scientifically proven benefits to forest bathing. Some of these benefits include: improved mood, reduced stress, increased energy, reduced blood pressure, and accelerated recovery. One of the most impressive benefits is boosted immune function. Trees emit organic compounds that actually support our natural killer cells (cancer killing cells) and decrease our stress hormone levels. Literally forest healing! How fricking cool is that?! Nature is so incredible and so powerful. I enjoy forest bathing with my husband and dog! I take conscious, deep breaths and touch the forest floor and fallen leaves. One of my favorite things to do is to just stop and listen to the silence of nature, it’s beautiful. Get curious- touch, smell, listen, observe, and bathe in the forest.

Kaua’i Paradise

The last of our pictures from our honeymoon in Kauai!! I fell in love with this island. We already want to go back to do more and see more of its wonder! These are miscellaneous pictures that we took throughout the trip. Here is a little mini travel guide of things we recommend doing in paradise!

Kauai To Do: 

  • HIKE the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast to Hanakapiai Beach (4 miles roundtrip)
  • SNORKEL at Tunnels Beach, Ke’e Beach, & on the Na Pali Coast
  • BOAT with Na Pali Experience along the Na Pali Coast into the sea caves
  • SWIM at Hanalei Bay Beach (and jump off the pier!) & Queen’s Bath
  • EAT as much seafood, fresh fruit, & sushi as possible but a few of our favorites were Trucking Delicious, Sushi Girl, The Dolphin, St. Regis Makana Terrace, Wishing Well Shaved Ice, Kauai Bread Co., Shaved Ice Paradise, & Foodland (they have tons of yummy local stuff and their poke is delicious)
  • DRINK fresh coconuts from fruit stands, Kauai Juice Company, Kauai Coffee Company, Aloha Maid canned drinks, Aloha Juice Bar, & Koloa Rum
  • LUAU at Smith Family Garden in the Wailua River State Park
  • MEET locals at Ha’ena Beach Park, Hanalei Beach Pavilion, Hanalei Pier, & Hanalei Farmer’s Market
  • PACK as light as possible, only the essentials (no closed toed shoes!)
  • RENT a jeep, snorkel gear, & surf or SUP boards
The prettiest church ever in Hanalei. They have a ceremony in Hawaiian every Sunday.
In a red ginger forest fairyland. Pure bliss!

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Napali Coast Adventures

We stayed in Hanalei, Kauai for our honeymoon and it was such a dream!! The island of Kauai is magical and absolutely breathtaking everywhere you look. We explored pretty much the entire island however, we spent most of our time on the north shore. A few of our favorite things were the flowers, waterfalls, rainbows, food, marine life, mountains, beaches, seafood, and tropical fruit. Kauai is definitely called the garden island for a reason! It was seriously the best week of our lives!! We have so many pictures from our trip so our trip to Kauai will be broken down into a few blog posts.

The highlight of our trip was definitely the Napali Coast! We boated, hiked, and snorkeled the Napali Coast. We set out on an early morning boat trip on our second day with Napali Experience which was amazing! We chose this trip mostly because the type of boats they use are best for going in and out of the sea caves along the coast. The snorkel spot we went to was also pretty killer! We saw many spinner dolphins, sea turtles (Honus), flying fish, and a MONK SEAL! It was super special to admire and float around with a monk seal. They’re endangered and super rare to see. The majestic old man was just hanging out near the reef where we were snorkeling and we were just checking each other out. He actually reminded us a lot of Waldo hahaha!! Unfortunately, I didn’t get footage of this because I put the GoPro back on the boat.

Another day we hiked the Kalalau Trail  to Hanakapiai Beach which is a 4 mile roundtrip hike. It was cool to explore the Napali Coast on foot and to hike through the jungle. The views were spectacular the entire trail! We relaxed and wandered in the caves at Hanakapiai Beach. It’s crazy to think that all the sea caves completely fill up with water in the winter months. Tyler was brave enough to crawled through a cave into another which was pretty cool. Hawaii changes the game with hiking to beaches. It’s the best! One day we will definitely backpack the entire Kalalau Trail (22 miles roundtrip)! After our hike we snorkeled at Ke’e Beach (which is at the trailhead) to cool off 🙂

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Clark Creek Natural Area

A little late posting these pictures but better late than never! Tyler and I had so much fun hiking to the waterfalls at Clark Creek Natural Area with my dad when we were down in Louisiana. This is technically in Mississippi but it’s super close to Louisiana. The weather was absolutely beautiful and spring was in full swing. Everything was bright green. The water was so clear and you could literally walk in the creek bed. Waldo had a blast to say the least! We were all impressed by the waterfalls.

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Maroon Bells

The #1 thing we wanted to do while in Aspen was to hike the Maroon Bells! It’s the most photographed place in Colorado and for good reason. It’s been on my Colorado to do/bucket list for years now. I was seriously in awe the whole time just soaking up the vast beauty of the lush valley surrounded by 14,000 ft peaks and aspen groves.

My brother Robson, Tyler, and I parked at Aspen Highlands and took the local bus up to Maroon Lake. The bus comes every 15-20 minutes and they do this to limit the traffic that drives over the aspen groves root system. Not sure if this is really true or not haha because we saw a few RV’s and other cars driving up so I think they just do it to limit the number of people parking at the trail head. We were actually glad that Waldo was not with us on this hike because the bus was pretty crowded and standing room only by the time we got on.

Maroon Lake is stunningly beautiful! It’s turquoise blue-green and crystal clear. The wildflowers were blooming EVERYWHERE. Again, I am obsessed with Colorado’s wildflowers- we saw daisies, columbines, lupines, Indian paint brushes, blue & purple bells, berry patches, sunflowers, etc. It was a wildflower wonderland. I love fresh flowers but I am pretty conscious and respectful about not picking them so that everyone can enjoy them and so that I don’t disturb the natural habitat. The massive, snowy peaks behind Maroon Lake are breathtaking.

wildflowers approaching Maroon Lake
wildflowers approaching Maroon Lake
Maroon Lake
Maroon Lake

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Exploring the Grottos

Tyler and I recently arrived to Aspen for our family vacation/my dad’s wedding (which is today at The Little Nell up on the mountain- another post on that to come). The first full day here we hiked and explored the Grottos!! It was so freaking cool!! It’s up Independence Pass (probably the world’s most beautiful pass) a few miles from Aspen. When I was researching it, it honestly didn’t look that awesome but let me tell you, it’s underrated! It’s not a long trail but there’s a lot to see and do. The Roaring Fork River runs along the trail so there are tons of beautiful river spots to hang out at and foot bridges to cross and cascades that were literally roaring! Tons of wildflowers which are my favorite. The best part by far were the ice caves! You have to climb down in between some sketchy crevices to get to them but it’s so worth it! There are these huge glaciers down there. Highly recommend this hike for anyone in the Aspen area. Check out our pictures below! We have a bunch more adventures planned for while we are here so stay tuned!

us on top of Independence Pass!
us on top of Independence Pass!
when the cave drips on you haha
when the cave drips on you haha

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Crater Lakes in James Peak Wilderness

Our first high country summer hike this season was to Crater Lakes in James Peak Wilderness! It was exceptionally cool and sunny which made for perfect hiking weather. This was my first real hike where I brought my new camera and it was so much fun taking pictures along the way. Tyler even enjoyed it too! The wildflowers were blooming and there were tons of creeks babbling everywhere from all the snow melt. Truly peaceful. I spotted a few wild columbines and some sweet hydroponic alpine flowers. We crossed over probably 10 foot bridges which are always fun and make me feel like a kid again. We started at the East Portal Trailhead near Rollinsville and it was a 6 mile roundtrip hike with about 1,400 ft elevation gain. The trail was heavily forested but still had great mountain views. We chilled at lower Crater Lake for a while and let Waldo swim/run around. We also climbed some rocks and played on the snow fields. It was really fun sliding down the snow! After a while, I noticed that Waldo’s paw was bleeding and realized that he cut it open somehow so we had to bust out the first aid kit. It was my first backcountry first aid experience and I managed to clean it off and bandage him up pretty nicely! We decided to head back down after that and thankfully he wasn’t limping or in pain. He’s such a tough and sweet boy! He never lets us see him sweat, that’s for sure. We had a great time and plan on backpacking/camping in James Peak Wilderness sometime soon! All the pictures below were taken with my canon rebel camera. None of them are edited due to my lack of expertise in that area. IMG_0354

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