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First Time Backpacking Tips

 

Your first backpacking trip is always full of expectations, unknowns, and a lot of trial and error. While a day hike or car camping may be nothing new to you, combining aspects of both together to create the backpacking trip of your dreams can take some practice!

DNK Presents led an overnight trip to Shades State Park for beginner backpackers. The backpacking trail at Shades was a great place to start as it is about a 2.5-3 mile hike in to the campsites. A trail this length provides a good taste of what carrying a pack for a longer distance would be like without jumping in too deep at first.

The ladies on this trip provided some feedback on their experience trying out a new outdoor adventure. Overall, the women found that backpacking is a bit tougher than expected! The miles backpacking do not equal the miles hiking like they thought. That extra weight on their back added quite a challenge to the hike. Below are some more thoughts on ways to prepare for your first backpacking trip!     

Gear

 

Play around with your pack. Pack and unpack several times throughout the trip until you find the method that feels the best to you. It’s helpful to loosen all straps every time you put the pack on so that you can adjust as needed each time. This will also help you learn which straps do what in order to find your perfect fit.

 

 

Camp chairs are worth the investment. Specifically the Crazy Creek style camp chairs that fold up and can be strapped on the front of your pack. They’re great for sitting around the fire, taking a break on the trail, or cushioning a picnic bench if you’re lucky enough to have one at your campsite.

 

 

Hammock camping can be a nice alternative to tent camping if you don’t own a backpacking tent or are backpacking solo and don’t want to carry the whole tent yourself. There are a few things you can do to make hammock camping more comfortable. Depending on the season, you may or may not want a sleeping pad. In the warmer seasons, you really just need a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket. A bug net and rain tarp aren’t essential, but can make the experience much more enjoyable. Closing the hammock by flipping the weighted pocket over the side creates a cocoon and can keep bugs out, but it’s a bit suffocating in warmer weather. The bug net and rain tarp keep air circulating while protecting you from insects and the elements. It’s also helpful to keep shoes close, put your essentials in the pocket, and to put your rain cover on your backpack as a preventative measure.   

 

“Brain” into daypack

 

A good number of backpacks include a “brain” (top portion of your pack that fits on top of the rest of the pack) that can transform into a day pack. These are super handy if you want to leave camp and check out some shorter trails near your site. Even if your pack doesn’t have this feature, it’s not a bad idea to bring along your own packable day pack to store water, snacks, map, and other essentials.

Food

 

Dehydrated meals are an easy and delicious way to get meals taken care of on backpacking trips. They’re lightweight, fold down, and bulk up to a good amount of food. All they require is boiling water and time to rehydrate. In the beginning, dehydrated meals remove the potential overwhelm of meal planning so that you can better focus on the rest of your trip. If prepared meals aren’t your thing, they provide some great meal inspiration.

A common anxiety on the trip was having enough food and snacks to last the weekend. Food is a very personal aspect of backpacking and everyone has different needs. Even if food is being planned for your group, it’s helpful to have bars, trail mix, and other easy to grab snacks that you know you can eat whenever desired. Bulk up your oatmeal in the morning with some of your trail mix! Don’t forget to bring some comforts from home with you like your favorite candy, instant coffee, or tea.

Safety

Feeling safe while backpacking is a vital part of enjoying your time in nature. Whether adventuring solo or with a group, it’s important to know what will make you feel the most comfortable. Wander around the campsites so you have an idea of the layout, chat with other campers so that they are aware you’re there, and most importantly, trust in the community. While it’s essential to be cautious and mindful, it’s also important to remember that the majority of people out in nature are there for the same reasons you are.  

Backpacking may seem daunting at first, but with a few trips under your belt, it becomes a great escape even for a quick one night sleep under the stars. Experiment with different gear, meals, ways of packing your pack and you’ll be well on your way to dialing in on what you need to make your trip as rejuvenating as possible. Let us know what tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way!

 

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6 Outdoor Adventure Podcasts to Inspire Your Next Trip

In a world where we consume media almost constantly, make sure some of that media is nourishing and inspiring. Lucky for us outdoor lovers, there are plenty of podcasts to tune into that will feed that wanderlust and leave us ready to pack our bags and explore.

Here are 6 of our favorite outdoor related podcasts that keep us wanting more!

1. Wild Ideas Worth Living by Shelby Stanger

“What if… You could sail to French Polynesia, run from San Francisco to New York, skateboard down the busiest freeway in California, quit your job and ski around the world, start a business, move to Costa Rica, surf every day, get in the best shape of your life, fall in love, and GET WILD?”

2. She Explores: Women in the Outdoors

“Interviews, narrative stories, and listener submissions make up a tapestry of over 100 episodes covering themes such as solo hiking and camping; entrepreneurship; aging; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); conservation; motherhood; chronic illness; and feminism as they intersect with outdoor experiences. Hosted by Gale Straub.”

3. Women On The Road

“Honest experiences of life on the road, told from the perspective of women who’ve lived them firsthand. Whatever you drive, and for however long, this is a podcast for those drawn to road travel. Interviews, in-the-field recordings, and listener voice submissions range in topic from helpful tips to get started to the inspirational experiences that get and keep us out there. Hosted by Laura Hughes.”

4. Out There

“Are you yearning for a change? Could a grand adventure help you find what’s missing? Could doing something selfish for once be just the thing your relationship needs? Let Out There be your calm oasis, your quiet walk in the woods, the rainy window you gaze out of when all is gray outside. Hosted by Willow Belden, the award-winning podcast captures the understanding, the strength, the inspiration, the healing that humans draw from spending time outside, to help you navigate life’s big questions and ease the anxieties of adulting today.”

5. Dirtbag Diaries

“This is adventure. Climbing. Skiing. Hiking. Biking. Travel. Whatever your passion, we are all dirtbags. Outdoor writer Fitz Cahall and his team presents stories about the dreamers, athletes and wanderers.”

6. Outside Podcast

“Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will entertain, inspire, and inform listeners.”

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Rafting Ocoee River DNK Presents Women's Adventure Giveaway

The Women’s Adventure Giveaway Reflection

By Bridget Sealy Roberts

The DNK Presents Women’s Adventure Giveaway . . . what an extraordinary opportunity that has been created for women thanks to Danielle and Kate, and the support of many other inspirational women, wonderful people and companies.  I first learned about this giveaway at a mountain bike clinic that I attended.  I watched the film from one of DNK’s past adventure giveaways called “Live Adventurously” at the clinic, and I dare to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  To see how the experiences transformed these already amazing women was something that felt personal, even though none of us knew any of these women.  It was so impactful, even as a movie.  

From the time I found out I had been nominated, until that momentous call when I found out I was one of the winners, it was a whirlwind of both excitement and disbelief.  I was both honored to be nominated, and humbled to be selected.  Having the opportunity to spend time with such a wonderful group of women in the outdoors could only lead to epic adventures.  

To the Backcountry

The Women’s Adventure Giveaway Day 1

Of all the emotions I experienced leading up to the adventure, none of them could compare to what I actually experienced during the time I spent adventuring with the three other winners (Hannah, Chelsea, Kristen), Kate, Danielle, Noel and all of the other wonderful women who were helping support us during our time together.  Each and every one of us were pushed outside of our comfort zones, but supported each other in a way that made it feel like we could accomplish absolutely anything.  The environment that this experience provides allows you to have those “don’t hold back” moments that are opportunities unlike anything you would normally ever have a chance to do.  I found myself so emotionally overwhelmed at the end of the day by how much I was able to do, and how incredible it all was.  It truly was all life altering.  And all this happens while you are surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery that nature has to offer.  This adventure is the chance to reconnect with Mother Nature and remember how revitalizing and healing it can be.  

Transformation

The entire experience in so transformative, and you feel such accomplishment with each adventure together.   And, you do all this while bonding with some of the most amazing women you will ever meet.  The bonds that you make over the weekend are so strong that you leave feeling like there aren’t enough hugs, and there is a piece of your heart being torn out as you drive away.  The time spent together definitely etches a mark in each person’s heart before departure.  

White Water Rafting Ocoee
White water rafting on the Ocoee River

My weekend ended with my “I’ll never” list being a little shorter and my “family” list being a lot longer.  If you’re considering nominating someone next year for the Women’s Adventure Giveaway, don’t hesitate; it will change their life, and seeing that impact will change your life too.  I can’t thank my nominators Noel and Alex enough for thinking of me and for DNK for creating such an amazing opportunity for women everywhere.  My heart is so full and all I want to do is share it with everyone.  

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Hannah Kelling DNK Presents Women's Adventure Giveaway winner

Women’s Adventure Getaway: Laughter, Challenge, Reflection

By Hannah Kelling

Our Getaway Weekend was the gift that kept on giving. Whether we felt ready to admit it or not, each one of us participants (and maybe our guides, too?) needed a break from the onslaught of the daily grind. Mothering, schooling, moving, and bounding over the hurdles of life in a seemingly endless routine had worn each of us down to a point where we didn’t really recognize ourselves anymore. That began to change when we arrived at the Lula Lake Land Trust on Thursday evening. Like it or not, we had to let go of that routine which was both demanding and comforting, tiring and reliable. We were blown away by a wonderful set of gear and then promptly set out for destinations unknown. Arriving at the overlook where (unbelievably) we would spend our first night, the demands of the “real world” started to fall away. We had no responsibilities beyond setting up our hammocks and being present for each other. We were asked only to listen, to laugh, to reflect, and to engage mindfully with the beautiful scenery and extraordinary company we’d been gifted. One by one, little by little… We let go. We allowed ourselves to be surprised. We lost control, and found adventure.

The weekend continued in a series of grand and little surprises. An incredible salmon dinner. A couple four leaf clovers. A rafting adventure on the Ocoee. A chance to read our nomination letters. You would just catch your breath, and then it would be taken away again by another incredible gift. We told each other stories, tales which seemed to illustrate exactly why we needed to be there. Stories of challenges and survival, sacrifice and generosity, loss and discovery. I grew to really genuinely love everyone. Chelsea for her good listening and kindness, Bridget for her vivaciousness and strength, Kristen for her generosity and gentleness. And our guides and hosts… How could we ever thank you enough? How could we ever put to words how much that meant to us?

 

Driving back home, I didn’t THINK much. My mind wasn’t occupied with trying to plan/control my future or ruminating on the mistakes of the past. For once, I was just wrapped up in a feeling. Something like contentment, but spiced up with real joy and playfulness. The feeling that I really was the luckiest person on Earth.

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Our First Mother’s Day

Welcome to the world Asher!

Welcome to the world Asher Philip Nolan! We were so blessed that Asher came into this world with us at 6:07am on April 9th weighing in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. and 21 inches long! Both mommas are doing great and we are falling more in love with our little man everyday.

Just celebrating being one month young Asher has already been to his first Women’s Mountain Bike Festival in Brevard, North Carolina. Momma Kate guided rides for ROAM – the only women’s mountain bike festival in the country. She along with guides Tiffany “Hutch” Hutchens and Meagan Shelter took so many rad women out on the trails over the weekend. We heard things like, “This was the best ride of the weekend”, “I’d ride with you anywhere”, “I did some things I never thought I could do today and I’m so proud”!

Kate and Asher at our favorite Shredly booth!

Momma Danielle stayed on the festival grounds and “womaned” the booth with the other vendors. Baby Asher definitely stole the show, making his rounds to the booths and getting to meet all the awesome people part of this amazing event. One of them being the co-author of the children’s book “B is for Bicycles“, Jannine Fitzgerald! She and her 11 year-old son were so awesome and we got our own book signed by her for Asher! #heartmelt

We were both lucky to be part of the event for its inception year last year and we look forward to being part of future ROAM experiences! Momma Danielle is recovery well from a natural delivery and is looking forward to getting out on the bike again soon. Momma Kate is going at full speed this spring and heading into summer. Our next big event will be guiding the Women’s Adventure Giveaway weekend, we can’t wait to take these women on an epic backcountry adventure next week!

Don’t forget we will be back in Brevard, North Carolina June 28-30th for the Campside Sessions Women’s Mountain Bike Camp. Get signed up today and use the code Shred25 for $25 off of registration – only good for Mother’s Day weekend only! See you on the trails!

DNK Presents the Footdown Hoedown at ROAM!
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DNK Presents, wellness, nature, corporate retreats, adventure retreats,

The Natural Medicine of Nature

Take 3 doses of trees, 2 hikes and 1 ounce of meditation per week — your favorite MD

Over the past 200 hundred years humanity has started spending less and less time in the outdoors, and it has affected our mental and physical health. The millennial generation –this is what I fall into, is the most depressed and anxious generation we have seen so far, we actually have earned the nickname, “Generation Stress”. You can read more about who is stressed and why from the American Psychological Association.

Stress is mental but it can lead to physical problems and conditions in the body so much that 75–90% of doctor visits are actually stress related or PREVENTABLE and only about 25% or less of doctor visits are from pre-existing conditions.

There are many reasons as to what causes stress, money, career, family, and health are the top four. Luckily there is something we can do besides getting a script to get healthy and happy again.

Go outside, get dirty, be wild.

In Japan this form of nature as medicine has been used since the 1980s, it is called, Shinrin Yoku — which literally translates as, Forest Bathing. Shinrin Yoku has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve mood, reduce blood pressure, even increase immunity levels, and so much more. You don’t have to live in Japan to experience the benefits of the healing components of nature though.

Here are just a few benefits of going outside.

  1. De-Stress

Trees give off oxygen and absorb harmful gasses such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. A study from the University of Chicago showed that trees reduced stress in neighborhoods because of the green environment. Hospitalsare now adding photos of the outdoors as well as more windows because it has been proven to quicken the healing process. Check out this inspiring storyof a chemo patient who saw a photo of the Grand Tetons and made it his mission to hike the 13,000 ft. mountains.

2. Exercise

When you are outside, you are moving your body, AKA not sitting at home binge watching Netflix or getting sucked into cat videos on Facebook (guilty as charged with both of these). Exercise as we know is not only good for us physically but also mentally. Even exercising outside has more benefits than doing it in a gym, like increased levels of self esteem, mood, and energy levels just to name a few.

3. Increased overall health and wellness

By taking more time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with yourself through nature you are able to become more fully present and therefore become more in touch with your own mind, body and spirit.

Of course going outside shouldn’t be a replacement for seeing your regular physician, always consult your doctor with any health related questions or concerns. Exposing yourself to more time outside might be something that works for you, it has for me and many others who have been part of our adventure retreats.

 

*Previously published on Medium via Thrive Global

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The Venture Out Project

Interview with The Venture Out Project

The Venture Out Project 

Recently I found out about an amazing organization called The Venture Out Project. I was so inspired by what they do I asked if I could interview them to share their story with our readers here at DNK Presents and Live Adventurously. Being in the LGBTQ+ family and in the outdoor space, it has always been very important to Kate and I to provide an inclusive environment for our participants, especially when often times they are already in a vulnerable state being outdoors and trying something for the first time with people they are meeting for the first time. If you don’t feel like you can be comfortable about your sexual orientation that can make it even harder to want to try something new in the outdoors. Have you experienced this feeling in the outdoors or trying something new in another area of your life? We would love to hear YOUR story. I hope you enjoy the interview, keep on adventuring!
Venture Out Project
What is the number one way you feel The Venture Out Project (TVOP) is able to provide a safe space for the LGTBQ+ community?
Perry:  

The biggest surprise to me was how many folks have come on more than one trip.  When I founded Venture Out I thought it’d be the kind of thing where people came on one trip, learned some skills and then went to backpack on their own.  But what I found was that for so many folks, Venture Out was their only trans or queer community.  In many cases our participants may have had friends online, but many had never hung out with, or even met, another trans person.  People come back for a second, third, fourth or even fifth trip because they know that’ll it’ll be an opportunity not just to be outside, but to make friends and find community.

 
Travis:
Safety in numbers!  Being with other queer folks not only provides the collective safety container, but also, safety in our own bodies.  I know even for me, I feel safer and seen when around other queer & trans folks.
The Venture Out Project
 
What has been the biggest eye opener or surprise as TVOP has grown in what it is today?
Travis:
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how many people have WANTED to learn how to backpack or break into outdoor activities, and just don’t know how to start or who to ask. And gear is often SO GENDERED.  Which is completely ridiculous.  We’ve heard so many stories at this point of our participants going to outdoor stores looking for boots or backpacks and being steered away from the “men’s section”, or the “women’s section” because of their perceived gender.  It literally makes no sense at all.
 
How did you become part of the TVOP family?
Travis:

I found out about TVOP in 2015 when a friend posted something about it on my Facebook wall.  Like “Hey look at what these queers in New England are doing”.  I’m originally from New England, but was/still am living in Portland, OR.  I immediately contacted Perry, the founder of TVOP, and asked I could lead a trip for him.  We agreed on a week long backpacking trip that summer on The Long Trail in Vermont.  There were three guides and two participants!

Six months later, he hired me on as his Office Manager and now I’m the Director of Operations.  We also now fill our trips to capacity (and even have wait lists!)

What is your favorite trip to guide and why?
 
Travis:
 
After every trip I lead, I declare “that was my favorite!”.  This is such a hard question – all of them are so emotionally powerful.
But I will say…this last summer Perry and I lead an experienced backpacking trip in Oregon.  It was originally supposed to be on the Loowit Trail around Mount St. Helen’s.  Due to Oregon having such an amazing snow winter last year (yay!), it was not clear of snow in time.  Instead we spent four days backpacking in the Colombia River Gorge – which is so incredibly beautiful.  The area we were in last July, is the same area that caught fire this fall and has since burned.  I’m so grateful we got to share this special area with folks.  The gorge will regrow, probably even more beautiful, but it will be some time.   On the last day of this trip, we crossed into Washington and summited Mount St. Helen’s – which is never NOT a profound experience.  This trip was an incredible one.
This upcoming summer, Perry and I are guiding a trip for those of trans experience in Maine – my home state.  We’ll be climbing Mount Katahdin, spending a few days in Baxter State Park, and then spending a few days in a small rustic cabin on a cove on a small Maine Island.    I have a feeling this will also raise to the top of my list of “favorite trips”.
Backcountry Venture Out Project
 
What have some of your participants gone on to do or said after a trip with TVOP?
 
Travis
This is such a great question.  Several of our past participates have actually gone on to become instructors for us!  Another one of our favorite participants lives in Texas and had never played in the snow before.  His first trip with us was a week-long Queer Winter Camp in Jackson Hole, WY.  He now regularly goes on skiing trips with his brother!
Perry:
 
My favorite story about a what a participant did after his trip still gives me chills.  This participants came on our queer ski trip in Wyoming.  He called me up a few weeks after the trip to tell me his story.  “When I came on this trip I was only out to four people in the world as trans.  I thought it was something I needed to keep secret. I felt scared and ashamed.  But on our trip, I met so many out and happy queer and trans folks.  It was really eye opening to me.  I saw the lightness with which you all walked through the world and contrasted that to the tension I felt from carrying this secret.  So after much thought I decided I was going to have a gender reveal party for myself.  I invited a bunch of friends over for a party and about an hour into the party I told them I was trans.  They were so welcoming, supportive and happy for me.  It feels so good to be relieved of this burden.  I could not have done this without TVOP.  Thank you for showing me what could be.”
Queer Youth Venture Out Project
What are you most proud of as an employee of TVOP? 
 
My proudest moments are spending time with Queer Youth.  This past summer, we put the youth fully in charge coming up with a plan to get everyone up the mountains.  Their care for each other was so pure.  To see them struggle, to see them negotiation and compromise, to encourage, and support each other.  It’s just incredible.  And then to hear them giggling at night is just the icing on the cake.  So proud to be an employee of TVOP and be able to create these experiences for queer & trans youth.
 
 
What is next for TVOP?
TVOP is growing!  We’re offering more trips, and as mentioned before, hiring past participants as guides.   This summer we’re offering our first “POC Centered” Classic Backpacking Trip lead with Mercy Shammah of Wild Diversity in the Pacific Northwest! We’re also expanding our ages on our Queer Youth Backpacking trips and have trips for both 12-14 and 15-19 year olds!  Another exciting new offering is a Nature Connection Retreat co-run by Tam Willey of Toadstool Walks taking place in Colombian River Gorge of Washington.
The Venture Out Project
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Rock Climbing, DNK Presents

Indiana’s ONLY Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing Program

Ever wanted to learn how to rock climb but didn’t want to go as a beginner or alone? Our developmental program meets every Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM from October 11th until November 11th.  On November 10th-11th the program will take a weekend trip to Red River Gorge to climb outdoors. The facility we will meet at is EPIC Climbing Gym (1931 Stout Field W Dr. INDPLS, IN 46241). EPIC Climbing Gym is an indoor facility where everyone in the program will be taught safety and technique when it comes to indoor rock climbing. Experts will be teaching a 2 hour instructional class a week, a month of unlimited practice time and a weekend trip to the Red River Gorge for outdoor climbing. Take your skills to the test with the last class being an outdoor trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky! You’ll leave the class confident and with your own gear to take on your next climbing adventure! If you are an EPIC Members the cost is $350 per person* ($25 off if you already have gear) and if you are a non-EPIC Member the price is $375 ($25 off if you already have gear).

Our program at DNK Presents is the ONLY Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing Program in Indiana and this is our last program of 2017!

Go to the link to learn more and sign-up!

Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing

*Must be a member at EPIC for a least a month prior to the Indoor to Outdoor class to obtain the discount.

>>>DNK Presents are certified Lead Climbers, Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and are in the American Mountain Guide Single Pitch Instructors Apprenticeship program. We will provide climbing instruction and belay for the group for the Red River Gorge Trip.<<<

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Whistler Mountain Biking, dnk presents, private group adventures, corporate team building adventures, adventures,

Spring/Summer Adventure ReCap DNK Presents

Dear Adventurers,

We hope your summer has been filled with lots of love, happiness, and of course adventure. We know ours definitely has! Our big season started out with a bang with our documentary film, “Live Adventurously” winning Best Documentary and being nominated for Best Cinematography in the Alhambra Film Festival in Evansville, IN. We then got to guide our new 2017 Live Adventurously Women’s Adventure Contest winners on their big adventure in central Indiana. This year the weekend was filmed by a local Indianapolis woman film maker, Lindsay Mitchell, stay tuned as she develops her feature adventure film.

In July we took some time off to work on our mountain bike skills, had some down time with family, and then got to assistant coach at one of the most exclusive mountain bike clinics in the world, The Trek Dirt Series. We began our adventure by taking one of the most famous of the Trek Dirt Series clinics, in Whistler Canada, where founder, Candace Shadley was born and raised. I not only got to celebrate my birthday in Canada, on Canada Day, on top of a mountain with my Trek Session downhill rental, but got to learn from some of the most bad ass, and professional women coaches in the industry. We highly recommend these west coast clinics, but are SO excited to offer you amazing coaching and mountain bike camps on this side of the country! Stay tuned and look for more events coming up from Campside Sessions, a joint venture formed from DNK Presents and other fellow Trek Bicycle Women’s Advocate, Erin Wells’ mountain bike business in Baltimore, MD, Muddy Pedals. Our first mountain bike event together is taking place in Brown County State Park, September 22-24, learn more by clicking here.

The summer may be coming to an end, but the adventures for fall are just beginning. We have a lot going on Brown County, who doesn’t love those beautiful autumn leaves? Join us for some bike clinics, backpacking, yoga, hiking, etc. Oh and did we tell you DNK Presents is guiding our first adventure trip out of the country? Yes indeed, Feb. 17-24 we will be guiding a yoga retreat in beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, filled with yoga, hiking, paddle boarding, meditation, relaxation, and so much more. Check out all the details here!

Keep adventuring!
Danielle & Kate

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