Piscassic Greenway with Mizpah

New England is truly beautiful this time of year. After many days of rain, the fields and forests in this area are so lush and green! The rainy days can be tough, but now on the nicer days we can see the beautiful scenery as a result. We entered the Piscassic Greenway trails from Bald Hill Road in Newfields, NH. The Mraz trail starts there through a beautiful field and then enters the wooded area. There is a community garden that might have a charitable purpose at that entrance as well. In these photos I am five months pregnant (eep!) and I managed these trails really well.

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Mizpah on the grassy path before we entered the woods
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Action shot! Happiest dog 🙂
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Shorts from J.Crew Factory // tshirt from J.Crew Factory // hat from Vineyard Vines // bracelet not available anymore at KJP, click link to see others!
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Love the lilly pads and how the sky/clouds reflected off the water

The greenway is a part of the Southeast Land Trust of NH (SELT) and the rules in general (although you should check the site for each individual property) are that dogs should be on a leash OR under owner voice control. We went on a Sunday before lunch and had the place to ourselves. We kept Mizpah on a least until we passed the community garden and then let her go! We only ended up doing the Mraz Loop and we did the Byrne Trail/Spur to the scenic outlook. There is more Byrne Trail to see and the Otis Hill Trail.

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Part of the cellar hole for a large building out in the woods. I wish I knew exactly what was here!
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A little Americana here in the woods
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We saw so many pink/purple lady slippers! In New Hampshire, lady slippers, loons, and lupine are held sacred.
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I don’t know about you, but my baseball cap collection saves my skin in the summer! Sometimes its nice to see my back because I still look normal aka not pregnant from the back haha!
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One last shot on the way back to the car!

This property has an interesting history. We saw many cellar holes and rock walls indicating that it was most likely a few family farms long ago. In 2005, it almost became a 102 unit subdivision called “Mill Woods”, but thankfully SELT stepped in and made a deal with developers to protect this land. The property has fields, wooded areas, and wetlands that are important habitats for NH wildlife, so I am really happy they found a way to keep it undeveloped!!

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Hampton Beach with Mizpah

Yesterday was quite the day for my pup Mizpah. We did off leash fun at a park with awesome trails near us and then made the short trip to Hampton Beach. Massachusetts and Maine both have beaches with more lenient rules for dogs in the offseason. Maine beaches and some of the beaches on the cape actually allow dogs during the summer before a certain time and after a certain time…usually before 9 and after 5. I moved to New Hampshire, the land of live free or die, and our short coast line here is made up of state parks and there is a hard and fast rule that there are no dogs allowed. Even the short sections of beach that are considered “town beach” can’t be accessed without going through state beaches.

We went expecting to just walk along the boardwalk- not as good as walking on the beach, but still nice views. When we got there though, sure enough there were lots of people walking their dogs on the beach! They were all on leash. It seems like the rule is in effect, but just not enforced because the rangers aren’t around patrolling.

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Pretty unbelievable that all the snow melted in much of the trails! My outfit was perfect for the weather. The needlepoint hat from Smathers & Branson, my Barbour Argon jacket (sold out but similar here) , LLBean scarf (sold out), and my LLBean boots held up nicely on this cool day. 
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One end of Hampton Beach, past here its mostly rocks up against the wall
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Mizpah loves the feeling of sand between her paws
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Running around the beach with Mizpah
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Down at the other end of the beach, a very brave surfer heading into the water

It was strange to be at Hampton with all the stores and restaurants boarded up, but it was also so nice and quiet! Hampton Beach is…..lively in the summer. The first time I went to Hampton was in 6th grade with two friends and I was totally overwhelmed in a good way I guess. The beach, arcade, and all the food. I had only ever been to Wingaersheek, Crane, and Good Harbor on the North Shore in MA where we brought our food in a cooler and just ran around the beach. The best deal on the boardwalk was at Sal’s Pizza- $5 for a huge slice of pizza and a can of soda. There’s the Candy Corner, the numerous trashy tshirt companies, and leaving the beach, we always had to stop for ice cream at Hodgie’s Too. Hampton is certainly not the most classy or picturesque beach, but it is definitely fun. Ok, time to stop procrastinating and pack for Florida!

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Birthday Hike up Mt. Cabot

As part of our MLK weekend away in Jackson NH, we hiked up Mt Cabot on my birthday! Mt. Cabot is the 4000 footer that is farthest north, so having the opportunity to start the drive a couple hours closer was a huge reason to do that one. The hike itself is a gradual easier hike; the hardest thing about hiking Cabot is getting there.

We wore snowshoes for the entire hike, all 9 miles of it. The trail was so nice and tracked out, it would have been a shame to ruin it with post holes. The trail begins at the trout hatchery in Berlin on York Pond Road, which was nicely maintained for this time of year. You start out on the York Pond Trail, and then turn onto the Bunnell Notch Trail, and then finally the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the summit. In the interest of time, we did an in and out hike, you can do a loop from the summit down over the bulge and horn from the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the Unknown Pond Trail, but its a longer hike.

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Mountain Views
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Another gorgeous view!

Some features as you get up near the summit include an outlook with a beautiful view, a cabin, a false summit where a fire tower used to be, and then finally the wooded summit which is past a Mt. Cabot sign which again looks like the summit. The fire warden cabin is available for public use. It’s free, first come first serve, and it sleeps 8. There used to be a wood stove in it that has been removed, and there is a picnic table inside. They keep a drum outside that collects rainwater in the summer. It’s a very primitive cabin that I believe is still maintained by the Jefferson boy scouts. Not a bad place to have a snack away from the wind, but I would only stay in there overnight if it was an emergency! The first firetower was built up there in 1911, it was rebuilt in 1924, and then taken down in 1965. It was a cold hike, the wind chill was down between -9 and -18. The sun was out though, and I had my warmest gear, so we made a great day out of it. On the way up to Jackson we actually stopped at IME in North Conway and I purchased some Black Diamond mercury mitts for myself and honestly, it made my hike so much more pleasant. They were $109.95 and worth every cent.

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The Cabot Cabin
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Had to take a pic of this fat little gray jay that followed us from the cabin to the summit!

Mt. Cabot was my 14th winter peak, and it really is one of my favorite mountains. It was a great way to spend my birthday. On the way back to the Eagle Mountain House we grabbed sandwiches at my favorite deli, J-Town. Then that night we did dinner at The Red Fox and drinks at Wildcat Tavern. All my favorites 🙂

Other posts from our MLK weekend trip up to Jackson:

Winter Weekend at The Eagle Mountain House, Jackson NH

Mountain Town Charm- Jackson, NH

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A New Hampshire New Year’s Weekend

I am back to work today feeling refreshed after a week off. I would like to think that my students also feel refreshed and ready to learn annnnnd so I am going to continue to think that haha! I absolutely loved my New Year’s weekend this year. My husband got out of work early on Friday and we headed up to Gunstock Mountain for some night skiing. We had just gotten all that snow on Thursday so the conditions were great! Some areas were a little icy/bumpy because the snow gets pushed into piles in steep parts, but my skis are pretty new still, nice and sharp!

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Lake Winnipesaukee view from summit of Gunstock!
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View from the summit, we got one summit run in before the lift closed at 4!
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View from the Pistol lift, the light made it all look strangely purple

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View of the Stockade and the night skiing trails all lit up!

Saturday night we went to a friend’s house for a get together that included multiple bonfires, fireworks (because those are legal in NH, whaaaaaa?), and snowmobiling! It was such a fun night. We were all together in the living room for the ball dropping and champagne toasts.

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Welp, I don’t have any resolutions. Trying to eat better and exercise, be kind to the people I love….those aren’t resolutions, they are things that I try to think about all day every day. I am doing my first dressage clinic/lesson this coming Saturday with the trainer who worked with the horse I ride when his owner first brought him here from Ohio. I am so looking forward to it, Draki and me have been working hard and have really made progress since I started riding him in the fall. Its been quite a year- I got married, bought a house and moved to NH, and started a new job. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!

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MDW Hike up Mt. Cabot

Well another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. From what I have heard, Sunday was a miserable day in most of New England, but it was a beautiful day in northern New Hampshire on Mt. Cabot! Mt. Cabot is the farthest north of the 4000 footers up in Berlin NH. The trailhead is at one of the NH State Hatcheries, soooooo many trouts!!! We were already up at my inlaws’ house in NH, and from there it was still another 2.5 hours to drive. My sister, Brenda, came up to do this hike with me and my husband too! This was her 3rd 4000 footer, my 40th 4000 footer, and who knows what number it is for my husband haha, over 100?

So we went up Cabot via the Bunnel Notch Trail to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. In total, the mileage was a little over 9 miles- took us about 6 hours. The trail was in great shape except for some mud which is normal for this time of year. It was a really warm day, many water breaks.  There are some nice features along the way- a spot with some beautiful views, an old fire warden’s cabin that you can stay in, and a clearing close to the summit that has the remnants of an old fire tower. Many people stop at the tower clearing thinking that they have made it to the summit…but really you have to continue on and you will get to another clearing with a sign that says Mt. Cabot-4120′, and that still isn’t the summit, you have to go a little further to the true summit at 4170′. Two false summits. We saw many people at the fire tower clearing that never continued on to the actual summit.

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Green lush scenery has returned to the White Mountains
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My sister and I love our LLBean Backpacks. Mine on the left is here and my sister’s on the right is here. My pack is smaller, more appropriate for a little day pack, and my sister’s is a little more appropriate for an overnight too.
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The girls at the view, Mizpah, me, and Brenda
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The views were a little hazy on Sunday, but still beautiful. Everything is so green again!!!
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The old fire warden cabin near the summit of Mt. Cabot. The only cabin I have seen in the 4000 footers higher elevation. There are shelters, and then the AMC huts, and cabins at lower elevations, but this is a unique fixture.
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False summit #2 haha, me and Jon
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Stopping at the view for a little break on the way down. Best hiking dog. Love her.

On the way home, we stopped at Mountain Fire Pizza in Gorham NH for some dinner and a beer. Jon and I split the maple and bacon pizza, it was amazing. My sister got a pizza with chicken and artichoke on it, it looked great too! If you like thin crust brick oven pizza, then this is the place for you. Gorham is an interesting town, way up in the mountains. We went to Gorham last year for 4th of July fireworks when we were camping at Dolly Cop. ATVs are street legal in the town. Think about that for a second, you can drive 4-wheelers anywhere…to McDonald’s, to get some pizza, to pick up a friend, whatever. Pretty cool place. More pics from Memorial Day on Lake Winnepesaukee tomorrow!!

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Trail Running Sneaks Review!

This entire week is gloomy and rainy here in Massachusetts so its a great time to dream about trail running and talk about my new trail running sneakers!! Dalmatians are very high energy dogs and they were bred to run alongside horse drawn carriages. They would run ahead and clear the crowds and then guard the goods when the men went inside. That’s why dalmatians are associated with firehouses and Budweiser, because firetrucks and the Budweiser trucks were originally horse drawn. What does that mean for someone who owns a dalmatian though? That means you are in the company of an animal that was bred to run miles and miles every day. Part of the reason why dalmatians got such a bad rep back when the dalmatian movies came out is because they are only good dogs with plenty of exercise. I once read that puppies can do 20k no problem. When we run on the trails, we do between 3-5 miles of hilly terrain…and she could totally do more. I love running with Mizpah in the woods, and I finally got my first pair of trail running sneakers about a month ago.

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I got my North Face Ultra 109 Goretex sneaks from REI. We are members of the REI coop, so we had a $20 member dividend from when I bought my crampons last year, and a 20% coupon back on the member rewards weekend. The sneakers are $120, but I think I ended up paying $76. Great deal! They are not the best looking sneaker, gray and blue are a little boring, but they have great stability so I can run on rocks and roots without rolling my ankles, and they are goretex which means I am a little more protected in mud and puddles on the trail. I also got some new socks from LLBean for trail running because I wanted socks that weren’t so low cut.

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Now, why get trail running sneakers? Can’t I just run on the trails with my normal running sneakers!?

You can! I did for years. I have noticed some huge improvements since I finally got some trail specific shoes though.

  1. Running uphill- trails in MA are covered in dead leaves with roots and rocks underneath. Running uphill with my new sneaks which have awesome dirt biting treads is soooooo much easier. No more slipping back every step, or trying to navigate the trail to put my feet on non-slip ground.
  2. Stability- these particular sneakers are made for stability so that when you are running over roots and rocks, it doesn’t impact your footfall as much. I roll my ankle and trip way less now.
  3. Goretex- the first piece of clothing I owned with Goretex was my crew jacket and I have been in love ever since. My sneakers are able to go through mud and shallow puddles and my feet stay warm and dry.

A big rule that I have to follow with these sneakers is to only use the on the trails. Running on pavement in them would damage and wear down the amazing treads.

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Thats my little Mizpah coming back to me after checking out an unfinished/abandoned beaver lodge. It was sorta a scary moment watching her traipse around on logs, but she has an explorer’s spirit that can’t be harnessed. We couldn’t hike this past weekend because of the rain….and its been raining all week so who knows about this weekend. Anyone have any fun Kentucky Derby plans!?

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Bluebird day hike up Mt. Garfield

I hiked Mt. Garfield in December 2014, but we still aren’t quite ready to do any of the 9 remaining mountains I have left to finish the New Hampshire 48  4000 footers, so we did Mt. Garfield on Sunday for my husband’s grid. My husband, Jon, is doing the grid, which is all 48 in all 12 months. It takes years to accomplish for most; probably close to 20 years for Jon. When I did Garfield in December, we were socked in meaning it was a cloudy day with no views. When we did it Sunday there was not one cloud in the sky!!! Mt. Garfield is a part of the Franconia Ridge, so you can see Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln, Little Haystack, Mt. Liberty, and Mt. Flume to one side,  and North & South Twin, and the Bonds to other side. You can look down into the Pemigewassett River Valley to see Owls Head, and on a really clear day, you can see Mt. Washington past the Bonds. We took the Garfield Ridge Trail up, which is a beautiful trail. The road to the trailhead from Rt 3 is still closed, so that does add 2 miles of walking to the distance. Overall I think it was 12 miles. There are a couple river crossings which were very low/safe for this time of year. Sometimes spring can be tough for river crossings because the melting snow makes for raging rivers. The trail was a sheet of ice for probably the last 2-3 miles to and from the summit. We had our microspikes, and even then it was a little tough. We both really wished that we had our crampons. We saw one couple turn around because they didn’t have any traction, another couple where one didn’t have traction and struggled hardcore, and another couple that shared 1 pair of microspikes (they each had one on their right foot). The happiest and safest folks had microspikes 🙂

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Water levels are so low right now for spring, rock hopping across!
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Icy trails!
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Mizpah making it look easy!
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View of Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln, Little Haystack, Mt. Liberty, and the side of Mt. Flume from the center out to the left
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Cold n windy day! 
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Owls Head
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A river runs through it: The Pemi River Valley
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Foundation of the tower that used to be on Mt. Garfield
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South and North Twin
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The Bonds behind the Twins

Mizpah did an amazing job as usual. She is so athletic, surefooted, and agile. I am constantly impressed by Mizpah out on the trails. She’s so aware of her surroundings and just in tune with the trails. We purposely let her nails stay a little long in the winter/spring until the ice melts because they give her little microspikes of her own. She was the only dog we saw up there, and she got a lot of love from our fellow hikers. This coming weekend, we are planning to do Mt. Cabot, which I do need for my 48, so I am really excited about that!!!

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Southern Presidentials Hike to End February

Oh man is this week kicking my butt! Between work, classes, homework, and wedding stuff, it feels like my free time is nonexistent! Today I finally took my wedding dress to get altered though, so that was a huge check off my list! Woo hoo accomplishment! This past weekend, we hiked Mount Jackson and Mount Pierce in NH. These are the southern most mountains in the Presidential Range and the trails start in the beautiful Crawford Notch area. Fun fact- Mount Jackson is actually named after Charles Jackson, the state geologist back in the 19th century NOT Andrew Jackson, our seventh president.

Jon, Mizpah, two friends, and myself set out on Sunday morning around 9 AM. Immediately we all put on our traction, three of us have crampons, and one of our friends just had microspikes. The trail was solid ice from melting snows. Wearing crampons is pretty serious business. You have to be careful of every step, making sure you don’t slice yourself or one of your hiking companions. Super scary with Mizpah running afoot. The day started a little gray, but over the course of the day, the sun came out and blue skies prevailed! We had pretty good views of the rest of the Presidentials. Mizpah had a great hike with the warmer temps and her claws were perfect in the soft ice. She will probably never hike the northern Presidentials (Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison) because of the rocky terrain, but the southern ones are ok. Her hut, the Mizpah Spring Hut, is on Pierce 🙂 Here are some pics from the hike!!!

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Crawford Notch Depot- station for the Notch Train of the Conway Scenic Railroad which will resume service on June 14th!

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Winter wonderland trails, like our very own Narnia
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View from Jackson- up on the left you can see Bretton Woods Ski Resort and thats the Mount Washington Hotel in the middle. The red roof is really easy to see up on the mountain, not so much in the photo!
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It’s really important to remember to bring food for yourself AND your dog. We bring a bag of Mizpah’s food for her to eat on the trail, and a water bowl!
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Yep, that ice is the trail, crazy!!
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For hiking on ice….here are my La Sportiva Nepal mountaineering boots, Grivel crampons, and EMS Gaiters (similar here) . Winter hiking is pretty awesome if you like to collect gear!
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The rest of the Presidential Range from Mt. Pierce- the ridge to Mt. Eisenhower looks so cool. Mt. Washington’s summit is in the clouds.

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Frozen waterfalls on the Crawford Path down from Pierce
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Picturesque little pup in her Ruffwear jacket and collar
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Had to take a quick snap on the way home of the Mount Washington Hotel and the Presi’s

My fiancé broke his toe the other day soooooo we might not be hiking again until April! Poor guy. I had already done these two mountains, but we were with a friend sort of new to hiking and wanted a short hike with nice views for him. This hike was about 6 1/2 hours. I still have 9 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 4000 Footers. Goal is to finish by the end of this summer!

Hiking, horseback riding, trail running, swimming, biking…I love anything that gets me outside. What do you like to do to get outside? Do you have any outdoorsy goals for this spring/summer??

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REI’s Opt Outside Campaign

I think it was Monday night that I got the email from REI that they were closing on black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. REI is a coop company where once you join the coop, any purchases get chronicled, and you get money back each year on your purchases. I have gotten camping & hiking stuff at REI in the past. Black Friday has become a day of American consumerism like nothing else. The time for stores to open has pushed all the way to basically after dinner on Thanksgiving Thursday. The first year I headed up to NH to be with my fiancé’s family after Thanksgiving lunch with my family, there was traffic. I was shocked, how could there be traffic going through his town? It was because of the Walmart. I was driving to get to dessert with those I love, and got stuck in traffic with people going to get the best deal on a new flatscreen.

REI’s campaign asks us to go outside on Friday after Thanksgiving- get out of the stores, get off our computers, and do something outside. They created the hashtag “opt outside” for all of us to showcase our non consumer driven activities. Its fine with me because we were already planning to hike in NH. I still have to do the Tripyramids, Hancocks, and Cabot this fall/winter.

Will REI reach a new group of people to be customers? I don’t know, its a pretty specific audience that goes to REI. Maybe the campaign will inspire people to go buy new outdoorsy items for their #optoutside adventures. Maybe REI will even toss us some sales beforehand to help us get outfitted for the day. Will other companies join REI in closing on Black Friday? I don’t know. Think about everyone being able to spend all of Thursday & all of Friday with their families. REI’s 143 stores will be closed on that Friday and every employee will get paid to go do something outside! Can someone start paying me to play outside?! Here are the little YouTube videos they have created for the #optoutside campaign:

Opting outside will cost me gas money, and maybe a parking fee depending on which mountain we go to. Sooooo much cheaper than whatever I would ever buy on black Friday. Go outside more, spend less.

c/o Mon