Tag Archives: nature

Finding Tranquility on the Trails

By Leah King

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

Recently I picked up a new hobby that I would love to share with others in the hopes that it could bring the same joy and peace that I feel from it to you: hiking. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I felt trapped in my home and anxious from spending so much time indoors. I needed an escape from what was going on for my mental health.

Growing up, I loved spending time outdoors. I would go camping and hiking around the Midwest regularly, but for some reason, I lost touch with that side of myself in high school and in my early undergraduate years because of my other athletic commitments. So when all the gyms were closed and I was tired of running around the same block over and over again, I started researching hiking trails around California. This was around my first year of my Master’s Program. In my search, I came across this app called “AllTrails.” This incredible app shows you all the hiking trails in the area, how difficult they are, and how long they are. It also has a navigation system to help you locate the start of the trail and people’s reviews. I used this app to help plan my first hiking trip to Yosemite.  

One of Yosemite’s most popular views

During spring break, a couple of friends and I drove up from LA to Yosemite to hike for a few days. I was immediately hooked. Firstly, Yosemite is so breathtaking with all its mountains, trees, and waterfalls. I used AllTrails to help me plan what hikes we wanted to do in terms of difficulty and popularity. We hiked over 15 miles during the three days we were there, and while I was hiking, I felt a sense of calmness and peace when I was surrounded by nature. When I came back to LA to resume classes, that calmness was gone and I was eagerly anticipating my next adventure in the outdoors.

Fast forward to the second year of my Master’s Program. The pandemic had calmed down a bit and my classes were fully in person. While in class, I overheard a couple of classmates talking about hiking in Santa Monica. I gravitated to the conversation and asked You guys are hiking? Could I possibly join?”. The two girls were so sweet and invited another classmate and me that weekend to hike. During that hike, we shared our love for the outdoors and discussed how many different hiking spots there are in California. We decided to try to hike every weekend and came up with the name “Trailmixers” for our hiking group! And that’s what the Trailmixers did. We hiked almost every weekend, and with some planning, most of those trips were very inexpensive. We’ve hiked Mount Baldy, Cucamonga, San Fan, Santa Barbra, Sedona, Pinnacles National Park, Zion, camped in Big Sur, and backpacked in Catalina Island.

Photo from my Catalina Island trip
Continue reading Finding Tranquility on the Trails

Suns Out Paws Out: Summer Safety Tips to Keep Our Furry Friends Safe

By Makesha Conzuelo

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

If you’ve ever been to Washington state (or if you’ve seen any of the Twilight franchise films) then you’ll know the state is well known for its constant rainy days. Just as Californians always expect sun, we always expect rain. Being from Washington, I can attest that when summer rolls around, everyone makes sure to take advantage of the sunny days. Now that we’ve added our corgi Benji to the family, that means I’ve had the chance to learn about what I should do to keep him safe while enjoying the sun with us. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned so far and what can help you as well if you’re a first time dog owner. 

While there are a lot of perks to summer, it also poses special risks to our dogs. More walks and longer outings can lead to an “…increased exposure to ticks and other insects, to sunburn, and even heatstroke.” (akc.org, 2019). A lot of tips can be applied to any pets you have in your household; making sure their water bowls are filled, providing shady spots to escape the sun. In particular, you want to make sure you open your car windows if there isn’t air conditioning-on a hot day, it can reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes (akc.org, 2019). You can also research tips for your specific dog’s breed. 

 Family pet Benji 2yr, enjoying the sun at Lake Tapps

Since we commonly take our dogs out more than any other pet, there are more safety precautions we can take to make sure they are being safe in the sun. 

Going on walks

With the sun heating up asphalt and sand, prolonged exposure can burn their paws. If your schedule allows it, try walking them earlier in the day and later in the evening when temperatures will be cooler. If the ground is too hot for you to touch, then your dog probably shouldn’t be walking on it either. You may consider purchasing dog boots for them, however finding a brand that fits them well may be a challenge and your pet may not ever get used to them. As always, if in doubt, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

If it’s not too hot out, then you might consider going for a hike.

Hiking may seem pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot of safety precautions to consider for both humans and dogs alike. For our furry friends, we want to make sure they 

  • Are up to date on their vaccinations
  • Have a good harness, not just their collar and leash combo 
  • Have a water bottle specifically for them 
  • Are a type of breed that will enjoy hikes 

Prefer the water? Grab that life jacket!

With it being cold and rainy most of the year, Washingtonians jump at the chance to go to the lakes and beaches to take a dive. 

Most dogs love it too, so make sure to get them a life jacket that fits them well so they too can enjoy the water in a safe manner.  It’s a good idea (once their life jackets are on) to introduce them to the water slowly and with positive reinforcement before having them hop onto a kayak or paddle board so they know what to expect in case they ever fall in.

My dog Benji sporting his life jacket enjoying a kayak ride with my sister at Lake Sammamish state park.
Continue reading Suns Out Paws Out: Summer Safety Tips to Keep Our Furry Friends Safe

Pictures? A thousand words. Experiences? Immeasurable.

By Iric Hong

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4-minute read]

Growing up in a working-class family, long-distance travel was more often than not a luxury that was far out of my family’s reach. With the cost of providing kids a fruitful and fun childhood increasing by the day, it becomes exponentially harder to allow children to experience all that the world has to offer. Without a doubt, however, I will have to admit that those of us that had the opportunity to call Southern California our home for most of our life had it a fair bit better than others, as this home is also home to many other cultures hailing from different places around the globe. As a child, I was able to experience a variety of cultures that, in some shape or form, shaped Southern California in ways that I could only imagine.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Despite this fact, I was not really prepared for what I was about to witness during my first long-distance flight (that I can actually remember) during the summer of 2016. My family and I were on our way to Japan and Hong Kong and to say my current state of emotions at that time was simply excited would be an extreme understatement. I was unsure of what to expect when I got to Japan. Therefore, I landed preparing myself to be amazed by the culture and the people. And, to be frank, I was not disappointed.

Although I did not have many interactions with Japanese people outside of asking for help finding directions, they were all very helpful in trying to help us find our way despite the language barrier. But the most impressive thing I encountered on my trip existed elsewhere in Japanese society. The integration of man and nature in the design of the cities was absolutely awe-inspiring. You could be traversing Tokyo’s or Kyoto’s main streets during one moment and the next, you are exploring a vast forest leading to one of many shrines that populate the Japanese landscape. It felt so surreal that society could establish such a fluid connection between man and nature in the middle of such a well-developed city. I, for one, have never seen anything like it in cities across America, including the likes of LA, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, and Orlando. It was especially exciting to witness such a feat as I have always been quite the environmentalist myself. At the end of the Japan leg of my trip, I felt that my experiences were well above and beyond my initial expectations.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

As for Hong Kong, I knew in some sense what to expect and what to look forward to as my great-uncle lives there with his family. Additionally, I have always loved Hong Kong despite the fact that I had not been there in a long time, because Hong Kong is one of the few places where nearly everyone speaks my first language, Cantonese (although I am not great at it myself). Coming from beautiful and innovative Japan to Hong Kong, the bar for awesomeness was not low, but I felt that Hong Kong, in many ways, replicated the same elements of awe in their society. With the geographical location and terrain of Hong Kong, it is no simple task to establish a vibrant community, much less a metropolis, and yet it was done. It was done in a way that didn’t seem intrusive of the natural landscape, with many large patches of woods still persisting around the city itself.

After leaving Hong Kong, I was left thinking about how different the lifestyles are between that of America and that of Hong Kong and Japan. To say the least, it was very different in many aspects; saying it in such simplified terms still feels like an understatement. At the end of the day, to truly understand what others put into words and what they have experienced, you must experience the real thing for yourself!

Featured Image by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash

Iric is a recent USC graduate that majored in Electrical Engineering. His career inspiration from a very young age was on-screen robotics like Iron-Man and Gundam. He hopes to work in the aerospace industry, as that industry resembles what he wants to strive for the most. He likes to play tennis, play video games, and watch movies in his spare time.