Curious bears, hand crafted utensils, and lone adventures. We had the chance to ask Vanessa Renee, an avid hiker and camper, some questions about her adventuring and what it means to her. Vanessa sparks outdoor inspiration through her passion project Her Wanderful Life, an Instagram packed with hidden lakes and cliffside trails, and a personal adventure blog. Check out what she shared with Among Us.
Where did you go for your first backpacking trip? Can you tell us about what the experience was like?
My first backpacking trip was in the San Gabriel mountains where we hiked from Ice House Canyon trailhead to Kelley Camp which is approximately 5 miles one way. I have hiked this trail a few times prior to backpacking and the moment I first came across this backcountry campsite, I knew I would be back. The following weekend, I was on the trail with probably a 40lb. backpack and ready to experience my first night in the wilderness. When we arrived, we were the only ones at camp and scored an awesome spot.
We set up camp and prepared lunch, when I realized that we didn’t pack any eating utensils! We had a plate and a small bowl, but no spoons or forks. We improvised by finding decent sticks and shaving them down, similar to chop sticks. Try eating mash potatoes with twigs, ha! I will never forget that night.
I was awoken by a loud sniffing noise right outside of our tent. You mean there's actual bears in these mountains?! Luckily, we were left alone (even with food in our tent) and learned a major lesson that night.
If someone asked you what backpacking/adventuring has brought you in life, what would you tell them?
Backpacking has brought me a sense of freedom and happiness that I could only find while hiking or out in the wilderness. With such a large wide world we live in, the adventures are endless. While hiking, all of my life's troubles fade away, and I am locked in with present thoughts about my current situation: what's for lunch and where to camp?
What’s your process for planning and preparing for weekend adventures?
Oh this one is my favorite. Unlike most people, I truly enjoy planning the heck out of all my adventures. I like to know what I am getting myself into, what could go wrong, weather, trail and road conditions as well as Plan B options. I make too many lists so I do not forget the most important items, cause eating dinner with twigs is not fun. If I am exploring a new place, I like to know what is in the surrounding area just in case I lose service.
What are your favourite things to do outside of camping and hiking?
I truly just enjoy being outdoors. If I am not hiking, camping or backpacking I am most likely planning out my next adventure or writing about the experiences I just had.
What are the outdoor/adventure accomplishments you are most proud of?
One adventure that I am most proud of is my solo trip on Catalina Island. I have explored the island a few times prior to going solo, but once the boat left the dock headed for Catalina Island I knew there was no turning around at that point, especially being the last boat of the day. But I went and I had such an amazing time alone with my thoughts and everything went just as planned. I was quite proud of myself for being the first person on the beach to start my camp fire that night.
What is the next adventure for Vanessa?
My fiance and I are hitting the road for 4 weeks next month in September and preparing for our biggest road trip yet! We will be exploring our national parks within seven states and I could not be more excited for what's to come. We have a few backpacking trips planned but will mostly be car camping while we visit the following states: Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Northern California!