Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Top Swimming Holes in Zion National Park


Swimming holes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Zion National Park. Hiking, canyoning, and mountains galore are probably higher on the list. But when I went, it was nearing 100 degrees and unbearable. Emerald Pools, the most popular hike, unfortunately, does not allow swimming. After extensive research and exploring, here are the best ways to cool off that I found.

The Virgin River

zion national park swimming hole virgin river

The Virgin River runs throughout Zion. There are plenty of less frequented spots along the river that are great for swimming. Just avoid any spots too close to a tram stop or major trail and you’ll be fine! Be careful as the currents are much stronger than they look (I came out with quite a few scratches). Parts of the river are also open for tubing at certain times of the year.

Pine Creek Waterfall

hiking pine creek zion

Less well-known and less accessible, the Lower Pine Creek Falls trail takes you to a hidden swimming hole. Getting there is more than a little tricky, and my Mom and I got really lost. But there’s also no crowds and the water is warm and calm. Joe’s Guide provides a pretty detailed description of how to get to the trailhead. From there, you’re on your own.

The Narrows

zion national park the narrows swimming

In addition to being a great hike, The Narrows is a fun place to cool off. The hike itself consists of wading through (sometimes waist-deep) water, but there are plenty of deeper spots to swim along the way. Getting there and hiking through can be as difficult or as easy as you’d like depending on how far you decide to go. Most people just go until they start getting tired and then turn back. In my opinion, this is the most fun hike at Zion, but it does get very crowded.





Hiking Upstate: Greenwood Lake


First of all, my posts may be a bit sporadic for the next couple of weeks as I adjust since I have a new job! Woohoo!

To celebrate this new beginning, I spent a lovely weekend upstate. I spent some time relaxing by the lake, warming up by the fire pit, and “sampling” at the winery, but the main purpose of the trip was hiking! I think active get-aways are so important for both mental and physical health (especially when you live in a hectic city) so I’m trying to do this more often.

upstate hiking new york lake

View from the deck at the B&B

We stayed in a lovely B&B in the small town of Greenwood Lake (where Babe Ruth used to stay!) It was beautiful and, more importantly, quiet! It was cold, but so peaceful by the fire pit. We spent the first day at Warwick Winery. $5 for wine tasting? Count me in! It was a great day, although we may have had a bit too much!

hiking appalachian trail mountains nature

The next day we went hiking on the Appalachian Trail! The views were amazing and the bright colors of the Fall foliage were unreal. Seriously, some of the leaves were so pink they looked like they had been painted. I’ve said it before, but I honestly think that hiking is one of the best workouts there is! In addition to being a social activity that puts you in touch with nature, it’s also challenging. It combines cardio with strength training due to the steep hills and mountains. This part of the trail was definitely steep and a bit tricky! And it’s hard to want to stop when the views are so pretty.

hiking appalachian trail nature views

After the trail, we stumbled upon a schoolyard playground. After reading Autumn’s post on active recess, I was inspired to sneak in! I’m not sure if that’s what she had in mind when she emphasized the importance of just letting loose and playing, but it was so much fun! After running through the jungle gym and swinging on the swings I was surprised that I was out of breath because I had completely let myself go. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was exercising at all.

This weekend really taught me the importance of active rest for the body and soul. I didn’t have any formal workouts, but I was probably more active than I would be on days where I just had one prescheduled workout. And I completely let go of all the stress I was feeling the week before.

What does an active rest day look like for you?


Adventures in Ireland (Part 2)


Read Part 1 here.

Day 6: Ring of Kerry

One of the highlights of my trip was the Ring of Kerry, but it wasn’t accomplished without difficulty. Once I got to Killarney I kept hearing from other travelers how the bus tours are pretty awful and you need to rent a car to get the full experience. I was terrified of driving on the left side of the road, but that ended up being the least of my concerns. After lots of phone calls I ended up getting the last automatic car available in the area… But I had to pay nearly €200 for one day! People who rented in advance paid less than €20 a day for a stick shift. But after moping about it for awhile I decided to just do it because it’s a once in a lifetime trip. I’m so glad I did!

I spent the day driving around the southern peninsula of Ireland. The roads there are scary! They’re just slightly big enough for one car, yet they’re meant to be two-way streets. So whenever a car came the other way, one of us would have to slowly back up to make room. Yikes!


But at the same time the roads are so beautiful. Driving the winding roads along the cliffs over the ocean was amazing. I would stop every once in a while to explore and take pictures. I also made a number of detours whenever I saw an appealing sign. This included a trip to Ireland’s best chocolate factory and even a trip to a subtropical jungle (who knew?) I also stopped by a few farms to “play with” (read: gawk at from a distance) the cows. A highlight for me was when I found an empty beach surrounded by cliffs. I took the time to take a break and relax, while I took in how small I felt (in a good way) compared to the world.


Later, I stopped in the quaint and colorful town of Sneem for dinner on the river. As I made my way back to the hostel, it was starting to get dark but I wasn’t done with the adventure yet. I spotted another place to stop and started to take a little walk when I realized there were wild sheep all around me staring me down! I briskly (read: cowardly) walked back to my car. But I have to say it’s hilarious to look back on!


Days 7-9: Kilkenny

Finally I made it to Kilkenny, the town where my great grandmother is from! This beautiful city feels more like a small town and, from what I gathered, most people seemed to know each other. That being said, Saturdays here are a little…well the only comparison is Vegas. Stag and Hen Parties (translation: bachelor and bachelorette parties) like to come here for debauchery and the pubs turn into nightclubs for that one night a week. Let’s just say I wasn’t a fan. But by Sunday and Monday, everything was back to normal.


I spent some time exploring the cute little shops, walking through the park, and seeing Kilkenny Castle. I stopped in friendly, local pubs for meals and drinks as I did everywhere else, but somehow it just felt homier here. On Sunday night, I stopped in a pub that had fun Irish music playing. As soon as I sat down, I found myself in a conversation with an elderly musician who frequently plays in New York and a few other men closer to my age. That’s one of the great things about Ireland. It seems that age isn’t a barrier and everyone is friendly with everyone. Anyway, they taught me a lot about the music and the town. That night, everyone in the bar seemed to come together, from the “posh” girls to the farmers, in the name of music (and maybe a few too many pints). Either way, it was a sight to see.




Adventures in Ireland (Part 1)


Ireland was incredible. I spent 9 days exploring the country on my little solo adventure (I may have a future post about the perks of traveling alone). Of all the places I’ve traveled, it was the only one that was just as beautiful and amazing as it looked in the movies. The people were also just as warm and friendly. I made the journey by myself, but I made friends everywhere I went. They were all so open to telling me about the history and culture of Ireland. I’m not sure if I would have truly experienced Ireland without them.

Day 1 (and Day 9): Dublin

I arrived the day of the football match between Dublin and Kerry. So Irish pride was in full swing. Debauchery was also in full swing. I met some fun fellow American girls on a little pub crawl and we witnessed some very… colorful Irish men. While it was a lovely city rich of history (I had a drink at The Stag’s Head where James Joyce was once a regular) it was probably my least favorite part of the trip. Ireland really begins outside of Dublin, in my opinion.


Days 2-4: Galway

Walking through the streets of Galway makes you feel like you’re in Disney World. The classic Irish architecture and traditional music playing everywhere is a rush! On my second night, I met up with some members of the Irish Navy and they taught me some songs and we all danced the jig. It was some mighty craic!

Galway is also close to many natural wonders. I took a bus trip to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher, which was breathtaking. As I was taking pictures I kept looking at them thinking “people are going to think I’m in front of a green screen!”

travel ireland

ireland cliffs of moher travel galwayMy Britney Spears moment

Days 4-5: Killarney

On this trip it was almost like everywhere I went was better than the last! Killarney is much more of a small town and during the week wasn’t as big on nightlife. But the nature was incredible! Killarney National Park is gorgeous. I recommend renting a bike because it’s a LOT bigger than you think! My favorite parts were the Torc Waterfall and muckross house and gardens. The mine trail by Ross castle also has incredible views.  I actually spent more than one day exploring the park because I just kept wanting to go further! Although I probably should have stuck to the paths a bit since I almost had a run in with a wild dog.

travel biking bike fitness

At the hostel I became friends with some lovely people from Australia, Belgium, Israel, and fellow Americans. I also can’t say enough about how great and friendly the staff were. They were always there to help and on this leg of the trip I really need it. More on that later.


Make it Social: The Best Workout Advice I’ve Ever Received


Back when working out was still something I had to force myself to do, I was at the doctor’s when I was absent-mindedly skimming an article about celebrity fitness. I was struck by something that Reese Witherspoon said. When asked how she fits exercise into her busy schedule, she said that she’ll get together with friends for a hike or run rather than having a lunch date. This really resonated with me because I felt like my need to workout was interfering with my social life. But you can have it both ways and it makes it so much more fun!

Make New Friends

social friends fitness workout exercise biking

Biking with Tone It Up girls

Not only is fitness a great way to bond with your existing friends, but it’s a great way to connect with new friends, too. Through the Tone It Up community, I was able to find girls who wanted to do the activities I wanted to do, like going bike riding on Governor’s Island. We had so much fun and instantly bonded over our love of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Explore Nature

friends social hiking workout fitness exercise natureHiking upstate with my roommate

I never knew how much I loved nature until I moved to New York. Now I miss it all the time even though I rarely did outdoor activities when I actually lived in my small, rural hometown. Hiking and other outdoor adventures are amazing. They don’t feel like workouts because you want to go as far as you can to explore the beauty.

Find New Hobbies

kayaking nature water new york nyc fitness exercise social

Girl Date: Kayaking on the Hudson River

There are so many fun and unique ways to workout with friends. Rock climbing, hiking, biking, running, swimming… even pole dancing classes! You’re sure to find a workout you enjoy. And even if you try something you don’t like (I was NOT a fan of the military boot camp class I took!) at least you had fun with your friends. Working out shouldn’t be a chore. There really is something out there for everyone.