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Blog Traffic and Income Report for April 2018 | A monthly report on the She Dreams of Alpine Blog income and traffic. We are in the beginning stages of monetizing our blog to try and help us pay off our student loans. This post will detail what kind of work we put into the blog and the steps we are taking to bring in more traffic and income.| shedreamsofalpine.com

I'm about a couple weeks late on this report. We just moved into a new place and so life has felt particularly busy lately. So here we go, some thoughts on April 2018. The more time I spend blogging, the more I'm finding how many things there are to learn about it. I'm also finding that because there are so many things, and so many resources of people telling you what is the most important thing to focus on, it gets really easy to get distracted at trying to do everything. I think this month I've been really thinking about stepping back and looking at what things are going to give me the most growth... basically, what should I really focus on. I don't make enough money to hire a team of people to manage all the things I don't want to manage, so I need to take a look at what I can do with the time that I have to allot to this online business that makes the most financial sense. 

So my big goal for the next few months is to really figure that out. I want to finish up some of the courses I've started and then make a solid plan, something I can stick to and work on for the next year to reach my goals of earning an income out of this blog so we can help pay off student loan debt and become more location independent. 

If you’re new to these reports and would like more details on why I’m writing these income and traffic report posts, please read the intro of my first income report.  

And if you’d like to support us in our journey, the best way to do that is via our Patreon account. You can read more about that here. As an added bonus, we provide Patrons some extra benefits such as being featured on our support page and $5 patrons get access to exclusive video tutorials we put out each month that delve more into the nitty gritty of blogging as a business and teaching you what we are learning. We currently have 10 amazing patrons! We are so grateful for all the support and love we have received from this community so far. 

**A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links.

Oh April... Oh 2018... how quickly you pass, and how little I feel like I accomplished compared to my ever-building to-do list. 

What we worked on for the blog: 
  • We had our first full month with the Pinterest Virtual Assistant! Anddddd It looks like things are growing a bit, but nothing huge in the first month. I want to give it a good 6 months or so to see if there is really an increase to my traffic from this more consistent pinning and active Pinterest strategy. I'll keep you posted.
  • I finalized my branding colors, and fonts, and created a set of "branded" pins! I haven't updated everything on my site yet with all the new colors and fonts, but you will start to see things change over the next couple of months. You should already start to notice my newer posts have different cover images than I used to post. Those are my new pins/colors. Looking forward to giving the site a more consistent look. I felt like I was a bit all over the place with the older style. Did you notice the new site logo? Do you like it? I created it myself! I LOVED the older one, but I decided I wanted something a little more square instead of round, and something that would pop out a little bit more, and be more recognizable. 
  • I worked a bit more the Bschool program that I enrolled in during March, but I will say I didn't get to dedicate as much time to it as I would've liked. Progress, not perfection. 
  • Instagram - I took a bit of a break from Instagram growth in April. I just wanted to put my energy into other things, and we had a lot going on in April as well. So we remained pretty consistent in our following of 11k, but I'm happy to take the time to focus on engaging with our followers on that platform. 
  • We grew our email list by +60 new subscribers this month with Convert Kit! Even though I didn't post or promote my content that much in April, I see that as a win that at least my content marketing is continuing to build up gradually. I seriously swear by Convert Kit you guys, since I changed over in January we have seen great progress in growing our email list! 
  • Engaging with Brands- I didn't really pitch any new brands this month because we have a couple projects we are already working on and I want to make sure to devote my energy to them. 
  • Worked on SEO and Domain Authority - I've continued to participate in collaboration posts and guest posts in April to build my SEO and domain authority for the site. I collaborated on 6 new posts in April, meaning I will hopefully get 6 new backlinks to my site. My DA raised from a 7 to a 14 as well, which is rad. For the next year I plan to continue to do collaboration/guest posts (5-10 a month) to hopefully continue and build my authority on the web. I also have plans to learn more about keyword research for my own site. 
  • Guest Posts on She Dreams of Alpine. We had our first guest post on the blog about 10 Miles Day Hiking Humphreys Peak Trail in Arizona. Check it out! Also, if you would like to guest post on this blog, I'd love to hear your ideas. :)
  • So last month I was all, "I love bullet journaling for organizing my life and blogging life," well now I'm all about Trello. I started using trello full force and I'm obsessed with it. I've basically moved my entire organization system over to it + using google calendar. The best part about all of it is that it's free and awesome! Sometimes you get free, sometimes you get awesome, but rarely free and awesome in the same product. 
  • GDPR - I started learning about the GDPR rules in April, and am still trying to figure it out. Hoping to having things compliant by end of May. 

 

Other than that, it was just a lot of admin stuff and then real life... which I'll talk about down below.

 

  Life Outside of Blogging in April:
  • The first weekend of the month we finally got to backpack a trail I've been really wanting to do since I moved out here to California, the Trans-Catalina Trail! I just posted about it last week, so check it out. It was so great, and we got to spend a weekend with one of my best friends too, so it was perfect.
  • I also took a solo weekend and drove up to Idyllwild, California. I booked a cute little cabin out there and spent the weekend writing and working on Bschool stuff. It was a much needed weekend of focus. I actually usually focus better when I'm not in my own house. I took Lincoln up there with me too and we went on a couple hikes in the area as well. 
  • So in March we bought a Van! And in April I sold my old Subaru! It was the first time I've ever sold a car on my own, but it was worth it because we were able to sell it for the price to cover the Van buildout we had done on the van, so I'm very glad we took the extra effort to sell it ourselves. More details to come on the van process and why we chose that particular van in an upcoming post, most likely in June. It was sad to see the Subaru go, we've had so many great memories in the mountains, but Micheal and I are very excited about having the van now. 
  • We also spent one weekend up in Monterrey to go to the Sea Otter Classic Biking Festival. We spent one day at the festival and one day mountain biking in Monterrey. It was awesome, and it was our first official weekend using the van. 
  • April was our last month in the apartment I've been living in the last 3 years or so. We finished up packing the house, selling things we didn't need and trying to minimize a little. End of a chapter there, but excited to be saving some money by moving into a new place! 
  • We forecasted a one year plan for saving money and budgeting our expenses. We really want to crack down on our spending to achieve some of our goals, so me being the engineer nerd that I am, I created a big spreadsheet with everything, and we made posters to track our progress, and we will be having monthly update meetings. It's so much easier to stick to a goal when you have a constant reminder about it. Our poster with our savings goals are right next to our bed. 
  • We also made our plans for our first bigger vacation of the year. We are going to take the van on a road trip up to Colorado the first week of June and go to the Go-Pro Mountain Games in Vail! We are stoked for the great weather up there, and to spend more time in Colorado. 
  • We also booked flights to visit Puerto Rico in December. We had flight credits with Jet Blue from last year when we were going to go to Puerto Rico, but they got cancelled because of the hurricane. Going to try again this year. 
  • Books this month. The Dream of The Alpine Book Club's choice for April was "The Last Season" which is a really awesome book! Definitely recommend reading it if you haven't heard of it before. I listened to it on audible. In May the book club is reading,  "Walden on Wheels"and for my personal choice I am reading "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel". 
  • I secured some more hiking and backpacking permits for this Summer/Fall. I finally got some permits to hike from Happy Isle to Tuolumne meadows, the first part of the John Muir Trail section that I haven't hiked yet. I've been hiking the JMT in sections over the last few years, and I'm just about finished with it!
April Blog Posts:

Ok, so what did we earn in April?!

"THEORETICAL" Revenue Totals for March: $225

  • Patreon Sponsors: $133
    • You can see a list of all our sponsors on our Patreon page
  • Amazon Affiliate Income: $71
  • Google AdSense: $8
  • Skillshare Classes: $13

ACTUAL Blog Expenses for February: $479

Monthly expenses breakdown:

  • ConvertKit (monthly): $29
    • I made the leap to ConvertKit at the end of December and I couldn't be happier! I love love love it. I wouldn't go back to Mail Chimp now, it has seriously made my life so much easier and given me back so much time. I used to spend hours trying to figure out how to do something in Mail Chimp that is very intuitive in Convert Kit. I'll write a more detailed post sometime soon about why I moved from Mail Chimp to ConvertKit.
  • Virtual Assistants: $200
    • Pinterest VA
  • Canva: $13
    • I finally upgraded my Canva membership to the pro version from the free version because I wanted to be able to save my "brand" colors and fonts, and build folders within Canva. 
  • Gsuite: $10
    • Email domain name service, i.e. hello@shedreamsofalpine. com , but I'm not finished setting it up.. oops
  • Keysearch: $135
    • I bought a one year subscription to keysearch, a keyword research tool to help me work on my SEO and ranking in posts. 
  • Creative Market: $92
    • I bought some font's and png's for my site branding from Creative Market
  • Other tools that I pay for (but only get charged yearly, not monthly)

Amazon affiliate income has been pretty consistent the last few months, which is cool because I haven't really been working on any additional affiliate income posts. It just means my current content is still performing for me. Definitely something I'd like to boost up. Google Adsense is a joke, at this rate, I'll get paid in 6 more months. I'm hoping to break 25k page views before end of year so I can switch to MediaVine, but I still have a long ways to go. Still working on that long game, slowly growing and building my traffic and SEO. I keep hearing other bloggers say to be patient and keep putting in the work, so that's what I'm doing! 

Same story as last month. Since a lot of my monthly traffic has been dependent on me creating new content and hustling to promote it, my traffic numbers were slightly lower this month because I wrote less posts. I am working each month to improve my SEO, Pinterest promotion, and getting a consistent social media content schedule in place so that these numbers just grow and rely less on just new content, but I’m not there yet.

Top 10 Traffic Sources

 Direct Traffic: This is always my "biggest" category. Direct traffic can occur any time that Google Analytics can't determine the source of the traffic. Often times this can be from mobile social media apps or emails, or even organic search. It's a mixed bag.

Organic Traffic: Yay! Every month this piece grows and that is so exciting! I can't wait to see what it does when I REALLY start focusing on SEO more! I can only imagine that it will get better with time as I have more time to go back to older posts and clean them up. Right now we are getting about 55+ hits a day from SEO, and I'm starting to rank on the first page for a couple of keywords. 

Reddit: I'm really moving away from posting in Reddit, I don't like it, the people aren't that friendly there and it just stresses me out. So I'd rather not stress myself out. I could probably have more monthly pageviews if I posted there, but it's just not worth the pain for me. 

Facebook Groups: these continue to be great ways to promote new content, but like I said, I didn't publish many new posts this month.

Instagram: Instagram was lower this month, and I'm not sure why. I feel like it's been lower since I started using linktree, but that was also around the same time I hit 10k, which is also around the time that instagram started messing with their algorithm again. So who knows. I'm not going to worry about it right now. 

Pinterest: First full month with the Pinterest VA, no significant growth, but we will keep testing this out for another 5 months or so to see what happens. I also continue to participate in re-pinning threads each week. 

Most Popular Blog Post in April: 

Coming in for another month in a row! This post does really well for me on Pinterest, and I also this is the time of the year for people to do this hike, so it is just doing well in general. I'm really glad because I spent over 16 hours working on this post. 

So as usual, I have so many things I'd like to work on this month, but what my gut is telling me to focus on this month is setting up a solid strategy for my blog. So my big focus this month will be framing up a 1 year strategy for monetization,..

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The Trans-Catalina Trail has been on my backpacking wish list for a long, long time now. It isn't the most logistically easy place to get to an co-ordinate, which is why I think it took me about 6 years of living in California to finally get the needed campsite reservations in order to complete this trail! It was totally 100% worth it though! I will caveat that it is sort of like the Havasu Falls Trail in that it will require that you spend a bit of money in order to get there and be on the trail, but just like Havasu, it was worth every penny for me! I'm so glad we got around to finally doing it, and It was a much needed break from all the hustle of daily life working the 9-5 grind. We even got a chance to test out some new backpacking gear, a backpacking pillow called the PackPillow. It also wasn't our first time out to Catalina. We took a sailboat to Catalina Island with the LA Sailing club one time, which was another amazing trip and I also ran my first half marathon on Catalina Island. It is a super special place, and it should be on your list to visit regardless if you have time to backpack the whole trail or not.  

So if you're looking for a trail that is challenging but beautiful, "mountainous" but near the ocean, isolated feeling but still very close to civilization, then this is the perfect trail for you! It is one of a kind, and one you aren't likely to forget, from the boat ride over to the island, to the hilly sea-side views. In fact, this would be a great trail to go do solo, particularly if you were looking to hike your first solo-backpacking trip. All the juicy details below on how to make this dream backpacking trip a reality, and a big thanks to my partner for all his beautiful photos of the trail down in the Trip Report section. Be sure to check them out!

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THIS POST:

In case you are looking for something specific, below lists the different sections I have broken this post down into (at the top of the post you will find the resources for doing this hike and at the bottom you will find fun details from our trip report + lots of good photos:

  1. Quick hiking information, all the little details you want right up front
  2. A map of the trail with the campsites we stayed at + GPX file. I've also included our general itinerary and some other 4 and 5 day itinerary options.
  3. Elevation Profile
  4. When to plan your hike, what is the best time of the year to do this trail
  5. How to get there and information on the ferry
  6. Permit/Campsite Reservation information
  7. Resources and what to bring
  8. Our personal trip report from this hike, with all the details + photos you'd want
HIKING QUICK INFO:
  • ~38.5 Miles Round Trip (Avalon to Parsons Landing to Two Harbors) is the official mileage from Catalina Island. My GPS logged just over 39 miles though.
  • 8,329 feet total elevation gain for trip, 8,475 feet total descent
  • Trailhead elevation: basically starting at sea level!
  • Highest Point on the trail: 1,748 feet
  • Recommended Days to Complete: 3-5 days depending on your preference and/or fitness level
  • Several water sources along trail, no water filters needed
  • Campsite reservations required!!
  • Leave your dogs at home for this one.
MAP OF TRAIL:

Below is a map of our backpacking trail from my GPS. If you click on the image below you will be taken to an interactive map that you can further explore.

Our group decided to hike this trail in three days, but you can easily adapt this for 4 or 5 days. Also, I want to note that we only hiked the "official" trail out to Parson's landing and back to Two Harbors. Some people choose to extend their trip by hiking all the way out to Starlight Beach, which would require a bit more extra time to your trip planning. In the Itineraries below I assume you will only hike out to Parsons landing.

3-DAY ITINERARY - What we did!

  • Day 1 – Hike ~10.7 miles from Avalon to Black Jack Campground
  • Day 2 – Hike ~14.5 miles from Black Jack Campground to Two Harbors Campground
  • Day 3 – Hike ~14.6 miles from Two Harbors Campground - out to Parsons Landing - back to Two Harbors Campground

Below are also some alternative itineraries to the 3-day one posted above.

4-DAY ITINERARY

  • Day 1 - Avalon to Black Jack Campground
  • Day 2 - Black Jack Campground to Little Harbor Campground
  • Day 3 - Little Harbor Campground to Two Harbors Campground
  • Day 4 - Two Harbors Campground - out to Parsons Landing - back to Two Harbors Campground

5-DAY ITINERARY

  • Day 1 - Avalon to Black Jack Campground
  • Day 2 - Black Jack Campground to Little Harbor Campground
  • Day 3 - Little Harbor Campground to Two Harbors Campground
  • Day 4 - Two Harbors Campground to Parsons Landing Campground
  • Day 5 - Parsons Landing Campground to Two Harbors Camground

You can download the GPX/KML file that is shown above with the link below.

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Email Address Go to Library We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit ELEVATION PROFILE:

Below is a look at the elevation profile for the entire Trans-Catalina trail:

I created this elevation profile map myself, you are welcome to use it on your own site for more descriptive detail on elevation details on the Trans-Catalina Trail. All I ask is that you link back to my website for credit (do-follow).

WHEN TO GO:

The Trans-Catalina Trail could likely be hiked year round due to the favorable weather on the California coast, although it is more popular to hike in spring, summer, and fall.

See the chart I created below for more details.

I created this average temperature map myself, you are welcome to use it on your own site for more descriptive detail on weather at Catalina Island. All I ask is that you link back to my website for credit (do-follow).

GETTING THERE:

The main obstacle of getting to this trail is coordinating all of your ferry rides to and from the island. We opted to take the ferry in to Avalon and leave Two Harbors, but you could easily decide to start at Two Harbors and take a ferry into Two Harbors and take a ferry out of Avalon. The tricky thing is that Two Harbors has less ferry time options than Avalon. Another option if you want to start at Avalon would be to take a taxi from Two Harbors to Avalon once you've completed your hike.  Yes, there are Taxis on Catalina Island.

There are several ferry options as mentioned above when going to and from Avalon. From the California mainland you can take a ferry out of:

  • San Pedro, California
  • Long Beach, California
  • Dana Point, California

However, the only place that ferries to and from Two Harbors campground (at the time of this article at least) is San Pedro.

So we decided to take the ferry from San Pedro to Avalon on their early morning 8AM ferry ride and then we left Two Harbors for San Pedro at 2PM. This meant on our third day (when we had about 13-14 miles to hike) we had to start really early in the morning. Our back up plan (if things went wrong for some reason) was to take a taxi to Avalon if we missed the ferry in Two Harbors. It didn't end up being an issue though, and we were confident we could make that timeline with a little bit of an "alpine" start mentality.

Pricing: A round trip ticket two and from Catalina Island will cost you about $70 a person. Sometimes there are Groupon deals available, but be careful before purchasing any of them because sometimes it is a different kind of boat and only leaves Avalon with bad times. 

Below you can see a map of the different ports to Catalina Island. 

PERMIT INFORMATION:

Below are the details about the Trans-Catalina Trail permit details at the time of writing this article. You can also check my Permit Deadlines and Reservations for Popular California Hiking Trails and Campsites post for details on more trail permits in California. 

When to Apply:

  • For this trail you primarily need to worry about booking campsites in advance. It will ultimately depend on how many days you are splitting your trip up into, but the main campsites are Hermit Gulch Campsite, Black Jack Campground, Little Harbor, Two Harbors, and Parson’s Landing. Permits can be made roughly a year in advance.

How to Apply:

  • Hermit Gulch Campsite - the only campground near Avalon, otherwise you cans stay at a hotel in Avalon, or we didn't stay in Avalon at all, and just started our hike immediately upon arriving in Avalon
  • Black Jack Campground - this is a primitive campsite. 
  • Little Harbor - this is a beautiful campground located on a more secluded side of the Two Harbors area
  • Two Harbors - this campground offers tent and cabin camping and is located closer to the town of Two Harbors
  • Parson’s Landing.- this is a primitive campsite. 

Permits for all campsites can be made roughly a year in advance either online at Reserveamerica.com or by phone

How Much Does it Cost:

  • Campground rates vary based on time of the year and range from $8 per night to $28 per night per campsite per person. Yup you heard that right, I'm not going to sugar coat it. It is pretty expensive ESPECIALLY if you try to hike this trail on the weekends. Between all 4 of us  we spent about $110 per person on campsites and $70 per person on the ferry. So that is about $180 per person for the whole thing, similar to the cost of the Havasu Falls Trail.
  • There are ways to make this much cheaper though!
    • Plan your trip during the weekdays! On weekends they require that you book a minimum of two nights per campground. That means, we had to book two nights at each campground even though we were only going to be at each one for only one night. Now maybe I missed something and there is a way around this, but the reservation process wouldn't let me book the sites unless I booked two nights for the weekends.
    • Plan your trip during off season!
    • Stay at the more primitive campgrounds. As you can see below, Black Jack (which is considered primitive according to the Catalina website) was cheaper than Two Harbors.

Now I will say, nobody came around and checked for our campsite reservations when we were backpacking. We never saw any rangers in fact, but I'm not one to gamble. Below is a look at our reservation costs for BlackJack and Two Harbors Campground.

WHAT TO BRING:

Below I have listed some basic items to remember to pack on your backpacking trip, but it is not a comprehensive list. Be sure to check the weather and pack appropriately! 

*Please note that some of the below links and in this post are affiliate links.

  1. BackpackDeuter's 45+ Liter backpacks make great first time backpacking backpacks. This was the first backpack I used when I started backpacking, and I still use it often to this day. It's very comfortable, has plenty of pockets and makes packing really simple!
  2. Tent: You will be fine with a 2-season tent, such as Marmots Crane Creek Backpacking Tent
  3. Sleeping Bag & Pad: I always recommend getting a down sleeping bag if you are going to be a "serious" backpacker. If that's you, I recommend getting a 0 to 15 degree rated bag. If you will be doing more high altitude hiking, just splurge on the zero degree bag, it will be worth it. We love the Big Agnes Brand down bags. And if you've read any of my other posts, you know that the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad is my favorite sleeping pad. It's light weight and easy to pack. It's super comfortable (no body parts touch the ground), and it's warm! 
  4. Headlamp: I pretty much don’t go anywhere without a headlamp. I have a Petzl headlamp, and it has been going strong for over 3 years now. It's also always good to pack an extra set of batteries too whenever you hike or backpack. 
  5. Water Bottle and CamelBakCamelbaks are awesome for hiking! They are the easiest way to stay hydrated, and I typically always bring one with me. I recommend getting one that has at least a 3 liter reservoir. Also consider brining a Nalgene or water bottle for backup. Then, if a leak develops in my Camelbak, I can at least transfer water to the Nalgene and still be OK.
  6. Water filter: Usually I recommend bringing a water filter, but you can get by on Catalina without one. I did pack my  SteriPen just in case though since its fairly lightweight. 
  7. Camping Stove: I love the  MSR Reactor Stove System. I bought this after my Jet Boil broke down, and I like it a lot more. It works great at high altitude and takes only about 30 seconds to bring water to a boil.
  8. Spork: I like these Light My Fire Sporks because you get a spoon and fork all in one. Your bases are covered.
  9. Trowel: Nobody likes to talk about it, but to be a responsible outdoorsman/woman you need to bury your human waste. The Deuce of Spades Trowel is a fantastic lightweight option. When I went backpacking with my friends in Tuolumne a couple of months ago, all of my friend's trowel handles broke except for mine! Winning! On the Trans-Catalina Trail though, there are a lot of pit toilets available and port-o-potties, so you can also use these.
  10. Sunglasses: My favorite pair for day hikes are Goodr Sunglasses. I originally bought these glasses last year when I got into trail running. I couldn't find a pair of glasses that were comfortable and would stay on my face when I was running. These finally did the trick, and now I love wearing them hiking too! They come in a bunch of great color options and the best part... they are only $25! If you want something more classic Native Eyewear is also another good choice because they have a great lifetime warranty. 
  11. Food and Snacks: This should be slightly obvious, but make sure to pack enough food for the appropriate number of days you will be..
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Today's post is all about day hiking Humphrey's Peak Trail in Arizona. This post is a guest post from another awesome outdoor blogger, Timmothy, so if you enjoyed this post be sure to check out his bio at the bottom of this post to learn more about him and see where you can connect with him further. I'm really excited about this one, Humphrey's Peak Trail has been on my list for quite some time now because it is the tallest peak in Arizona. I sort of have this dream that one day I will climb all the high points in the 50 states... only time will tell! Right now it's not my focus, because I'm trying to grab more of the California Fourteeners, but if I ever find myself in Arizona, I will definitely put this on the plan! Without further ado:

Mt. Humphreys- Quick Info:

The Humphreys Peak Trail, located just north of the city of Flagstaff, Arizona, is one of the most popular hiking trails in the entire state. At 12,633 feet, the summit of Mt. Humphreys marks the highest point in all of Arizona. During its peak hiking season, the hiker traffic on the Humphreys Peak Trail likely rivals that of nearby well known trails such as Havasu Falls, and the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel and Kaibab trails. After all, the allure of climbing the highest peak around draws many to this strenuous hike.  

Humphreys Peak is the highest point in Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks. The San Francisco Peaks, often referred to as a mountain range, are actually the exploded remains of a large Stratovolcano that once towered over the Colorado Plateau. At its zenith, this volcano is estimated to have risen to nearly 16,000 feet in elevation. 200,000 years ago, the San Francisco Volcano erupted, blowing the top off the mountain, and creating a giant chasm now known as the Inner Basin. Subsequent periods of glaciation have morphed the mountain into its present state. Today, Humphrey’s Peak marks the highest point of what remains of the ancient caldera.  

The San Francisco Peaks, though marred by a violent geologic past, are today an outdoor lover’s playground. The entire mountain is crisscrossed by trails, and the Humphreys Peak trail is the most popular. The trail begins at the Arizona Snowbowl, Arizona’s most popular ski resort, and ascends the west side of the San Francisco Peaks (hereinafter referred to “The Peaks” for short) via winding switchback trails. Along the way, the hiker will climb more than 3,000 feet, and travel through several different ecological zones, including Arizona’s only region of Alpine Tundra.  

Hiking Details: 
  • ~10 miles round trip 
  • ~3,000 feet total elevation gain  
  • Trailhead elevation: 9,300 feet, if starting at the Arizona Snowbowl 
  • Highest Point on the trail: Humphreys Peak, 12,633 feet
  • Estimated Time to complete: 5-6 
  • No water source along the way, so bring plenty of water. 
  • Dog friendly? Yes! But all dogs are required to be kept on a leash.  
map:

Below is a map of the hiking trail. If you click on the image below you will be taken to an interactive map that you can further explore

You can download the GPX file that is shown above with the link below.

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Though Humphreys Peak sees ascents year round, the best and most popular time to go is in the Fall. The Fall provides a pleasant weather window between summer monsoon storms, and the first snows of Winter. Catch the trail in early October to see the Aspen groves in full Autumn regalia.  

I created this average temperature map myself, you are welcome to use it on your own site for more descriptive detail on weather at the Humphreys Peak Trail Area. All I ask is that you link back to my website for credit (do-follow).

Getting There:

The Humphreys Peak Trail begins at the Arizona Snowbowl, which is accessed from Highway 180. From downtown Flagstaff, drive North on Humphreys street, and turn left onto Highway 180. Continue on Highway 180 for several miles until you reach the junction with Snowbowl road. Turn right, and follow Snowbowl road until you reach the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Park in the Hart Prairie lot, and follow the path across the ski slope to the beginning of the trail.  

Hiking Mt. Humphreys can be conveniently combined with a trip to the Grand Canyon, and is easily accessed from the south rim. From the south rim of the Grand Canyon, head south on Highway 180. At the junction with Highway 180, and Arizona Route 64, turn left to stay on Highway 180. Turn Left onto Snowbowl Road, and park at Snowbowl. The total travel time from the South Rim to the start of the Mt. Humphreys Hike is no longer than 1.5 hours.  

Camping/Lodging Information: 

There are many options for camping or lodging both near the trail, and around Flagstaff. Within Coconino National Forest, you will find several established, pay per night campgrounds, as well as nearly endless free primitive camping. One thing I love about living in Northern Arizona is the mind boggling amount of free camping. Simply pick any Forest Service road, and find a spot. These roads go for miles in every direction, and there are plenty located near the trailhead.  

A potential downside for many is that there are few to no amenities. Be prepared to pack in and out all of your food, waste, and water. There are few sources of above ground water in Northern Arizona, so make sure that you have an adequate water supply. Fortunately, Flagstaff is never too far away, so supplies can easily be had.  

If you wish to camp at an established campsite, there is no shortage of options. Near the trailhead, there is camping available at the Arizona Nordic Center, which offers Yurts, as well as toilets. Though a little further afield, I would suggest finding a spot at the Lockett Meadow Campground. The Lockett Meadow campground is located in the Inner Basin of the peaks, and is easily the most picturesque campground in the Flagstaff region. From Lockett Meadow, the summit of Mt. Humphreys can be accessed via the Weatherford Trail, although not by the classic Mt. Humphreys Trail detailed in this post. 

For more info on camping, visit the camping page on the Coconino National Forest website.

The city of Flagstaff offers plenty of lodging options as well. One can choose to stay in the historic, old west style brick hotels in downtown, or from the dozens of motels lining Route 66.  

Permit Information:

No permit is required to hike on the Mt. Humphreys Trail!

Day Hiking Gear Essentials:

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

For a full detailed list on the gear I recommend for day hiking, check out my post on Essential Day Hiking Gear.

There's not a whole lot "extra" you need (besides the basics) for this hike, but I would like to reccommend a couple of things.

  1. Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking Poles (Womens) - Invest in a good pair of trekking poles and you will have them for a long long time. I've had theses for over 3 years now and they still seem like new. These are my favorite trekking poles, and they definitely come in hand for the really steep portion of this hike. You might be tempted to buy cheaper "twist" to lock poles, but honestly don't bother... they break super easily. I started out with a pair like that and they barely lasted me a year. Definitely just invest in a good pair that will last you a long time to come.
  2. Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking Poles (Mens) - Michael has the same exact poles as me, but in the "mens" style. He swears by them too, particularly for going downhill since he sometimes has knee problems. You might be tempted to buy cheaper "twist" to lock poles, but honestly don't bother... they break super easily. I started out with a pair like that and they barely lasted me a year. Definitely just invest in a good pair that will last you a long time to come.
  3. Flagstaff Hiking Map- If you know me, I'm always a big fan of carrying a map and this particular map has over 330 miles of hiking trails in it, including Humprey's Peak Trail.

Day Hiking Humphreys Peak-Trip Report: 

Of all the trails in a region filled with beautiful trails, the Humphreys Peak Trail stands as the quintessential Flagstaff hike. I’ve hiked it twice in my three years living in Flagstaff. Both times were in October, and one was at sunset, and the other was at sunrise. Each time allowed a different experience. This trail report will be a blend of the two experiences.  

The trail starts at the Arizona Snowbowl. Park your car at the Hart Prairie lot, and follow the trail across the ski run. The trail begins when the path enters the forest. From here, take gentle switchbacks through mixed conifer forest. After a short while, you enter the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. The wilderness boundary is marked by a sign, and a trail roster.  

The Kachina Peaks Wilderness is so named because the San Francisco Peaks are believed to be the home of the Kachinas. In Hopi mythology, the Kachinas are the various gods and deities that make up the Hopi Pantheon. As such, the San Francisco Peaks are considered sacred to the Hopi tribe, as well as many other Native American tribes in Arizona. While recreating in the San Francisco peaks, please be mindful of this, and do not disturb any cultural artifacts that you may come across.  

Due to its high elevation, the Humphreys Peak Trail sees itself winding through scattered aspen groves. In the Fall, the aspens turn to their beautiful fall colors. Like the nearby Kachina and Inner Basin Trails, the Humphreys Peak Trail may be one of the best places to see Fall colors in all of Arizona, if not the entire Southwest. As a result, expect to see the peaks choked with tourists crowding to see the leaves change.  

Soon, the trail enters a portion of long and steep switchbacks. These switchbacks travel between a talus covered slope on the north ends, and a long, deep glacial carved valley on the south ends. As you come to the end of a switchback, you are afforded stunning views of Northern Arizona. This section can feel like the longest portion of the trail. You are traveling on long switchbacks, and the view is blocked by thick forest cover. Soon though, the switchbacks end, as the trail turns east into a glacial carved valley.  

Here, at roughly 11,200 feet in elevation, the alpine transition zone begins. The thick conifer forest that characterized the lower portion of the trail gives way to smaller, hardscrabble, high elevation flora. Now that you are out of the thick forest, you can gaze across the landscape. Kendrick Peak and other cinder cones can be seen to the west, and the impressive massif of Agassiz Peak towers to the South. Below you are the chutes and runs of the Arizona Snowbowl.  

While the views may be more impressive, the wind is more aggressive in this section. The topography, combined with less vegetation makes for a high speed wind funnel. This would be a good time to get out your windbreaker, and maybe another layer. As you climb higher, you’ll find that the wind just gets faster, and the temperature drops further.  

As you approach the saddle between Humphreys Peak, and Agassiz Peak, the trail begins to steepen, and the path becomes less obvious. It is common to accidentally hike off the trail in this section, so be cognizant of the path that you are using. Luckily, the path is fairly well marked by signs and cairns. If you do lose your way, it shouldn’t be too hard to find your way back to the trail. When in doubt, look up to the saddle (the low point between the two peaks) and follow the path of least resistance.  

Upon reaching the saddle, the hiker is greeted by expansive views to the east, west, and south. To the east, the hiker can peer down into the inner basin. The Inner Basin is a wide, deep glacier carved valley in the center of the peaks. This is where the mountain erupted, and today it forms a verdant, idyllic mountain valley. If you know what to look for, you can spot unmistakable glacial features, such as moraines, and striations. The view beyond the Inner Basin reveals many recognizable natural features, including Sunset Crater, and the red cliffs of the painted desert. At sunset, the shadow of the mountain can be seen stretching for miles across the landscape. 

Enjoy the view, and feel some relief, for the hike is nearly done. From the saddle, it is only one mile of hiking to the Humphreys summit. To me, the saddle marks a clear demarcation between the lush, thick forest below, and the harsh, windswept tundra above. The path to the summit heads north, and follows barely visible path to the summit. In reality, it’s less of a trail, and more of a light scramble across a talus field. The way to the summit is marked by wooden sign posts every few hundred yards. Before you leave the saddle, I like to find some reprieve from the wind by sitting next to a large boulder, and using the opportunity to eat some snacks, drink some water, and add layers.  

The final push to the summit can feel harsh. The wind can be very fast, and it is cold at nearly any time of year. There were a few times when the force of the wind almost caused me to lose my balance. Trekking poles come highly recommended in this section. They may save you from falling on your butt, or twisting an ankle. The path also leads you up a few false summits. It can be disheartening when the end is in sight, and it turns out to just be a false summit.  

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This past weekend we went backpacking on the Trans-Catalina Trail on Catalina Island in California and I decided to test out a new backpacking product called the PackPillow. Backpacking pillows seem to always be one of those controversial topics among avid backpackers and thru-hikers. Do you really even need one? I've tried out my fair share of backpacking and camping pillows, and mostly I find that they take up too much space, they weigh too much, and they aren't that comfortable. I particularly dislike the backpacking pillows of the "blow-up" with air variety. My neck just doesn't like an inflatable pillow. So in an effort to try and be as "ultra-light" as possible when I go backpacking, I usually don't pack a pillow at all! That's why you will never see me mention them on my backpacking and hiking gear lists. In place of a backpacking pillow I usually throw my backpack under my sleeping pad, or use my extra clothes and jacket all bundled up in my sleeping bag. It has worked well for me so far. 

When I heard about this new backpacking pillow product from PackPillow, I almost dismissed it at first, but after reading more about the product on Kick Starter, I was pretty intrigued. The team at PackPillow claims that their backpacking pillow is the world's best backpacking pillow. On their site they have detailed that it is not only a light weight and comfortable pillow, but it also doubles as a stuff sack, a day pack, and a seat cushion!  It sort of sounded like it would address all of the things I hate about backpacking pillows. So I decided to give it a try, and I'm back here to give you guys my honest opinion review. 

*Note: This is not a sponsored post, but I did receive this product for free in order to test it. As with everything you find on the blog, you can expect that all thoughts expressed below are my honest compiled opinions. You'll never get anything different from me. The below post may contain some affiliate links though. 

packpillow Field Tested Review

Versatility:

  • The PackPillow Claim: The PackPillow definitely claims to be versatile! Not only is it a backpacking pillow, it is a day summit pack, a water resistant seat cushion, and a stuff sack all in one. 
     

  • What I thought: I definitely liked that I could stuff my extra clothes and a few random loose items from my backpack into the PackPillow to keep it all contained, and then at night I stuffed anything I wasn't using into the pillow to give it more firmness for sleeping. I honestly didn't use it as a seat, but you could. I just sat on the ground. I also didn't happen to use it as a day pack either, in fact, I purposely left the strap that comes with it at home because I didn't want the extra weight. I usually just empty the contents of my backpacking pack into my tent and use that when I need a day/summit pack. So yes, the pack is versatile, but I didn't really need it to be. I was a bit more interested in the other aspects of the pillow, but I guess these are just nice added bonuses to the product.

Weight:

  • The PackPillow Claim: Their claim is that if you were to pack a stuff sack, a backpacking seat, a day pack, and a backpacking pillow you would be carrying over 8 oz of extra weight. Since the PackPillow is all of those items in one item, it saves you weight and comes in at a total weight of 4.5 oz. 
     
  • What I thought: Ok my first impression of this item was that it actually seemed a bit heavy, but I guess when you think about the product in terms of the items they list above that the PackPillow replaces, then this item definitiely would save you some weight. I would argue though, you don't really need to pack a "backpacking seat" or a "day pack" or a "pillow" for that matter. I never usually pack those things, so for me, this added weight to my normal backpacking gear weight. Personal preference I guess.

Comfort:

  • The PackPillow Claim: On the PackPillow website the say that this product, "provides a comforting surface, and adjustable support that suits your individual needs. Enjoy nature’s beauty without the neck pain."
     
  • What I thought: Yes, I agree 100%. I really thought it was comfortable, probably the most comfortable backpacking pillow I've ever tried. I put my clothes and jacket into the stuff sack portion to give it added volume too when I went to sleep. It was perfect and I never woke up feeling like my neck or head was twisted up or in pain.

Durability:

  • The PackPillow Claim: PackPillow claims that their product is durable and made with quality, field-tested materials. 
     
  • What I thought: I haven't used the product enough yet to say whether or not the long term durability is in fact true or not, but it did seem to hold up very well on its first 3 day backpacking trip with me. I kept it at the bottom of my pack and treated it like my other gear. My only thought is that the zipper seemed a little unstable, like it might have issues in the future, but I'm speculating at this point.

Price:

  • PackPillow Price Point: At the time of writing this article the PackPillow (not including the "day-pack" strap) is going at $44. If you want the whole package PackPillow with day pack strap, you'll be paying more like $53.
     
  • My Thoughts: If I had seen this product in stores at that price point, I probably would never buy it. Not because I don't think its a good product (because it actually is a great backpacking pillow!), but more because I just don't think I need it. I've been backpacking for years and have never needed a backpacking pillow. I asked my friend who went backpacking with me what she thought about the product, and she was excited at first because she says she always has trouble sleeping when backpacking, but she also mentioned that she probably wouldn't pay more than $20 for the product. I think that if you really have been looking for a perfect solution to your backpacking pillow problems (if you have them), then ya, maybe $44 would be worth spending. It is sort of a luxury item. Looking at other similar products on the market though, it looks like the $40 range is typical of backpacking pillow prices, so this may be a draw.
My Overall Conclusions:

Ok, here is my overall opinion on the product. I really loved how I could use it to compartmentalize my extra clothing and some gear to keep things a bit more organized in my backpack, and it truly was really comfortable. I also liked how the shape of it fit perfectly into my sleeping bag head compartment. However, will I use this normally? I'm not sure. Ya it is light weight, but not bringing any pillow with me and just using what I already have is more light weight. Ya its a stuff sack, but I wasn't really needing another stuff sack. Ya it doubles as a seat cushion and a summit pack, but I haven't really had issues sitting on the ground or my bear can when I'm out backpacking (you usually are required to bring a bear can into the Sierra Nevada) and I usually just empty my big backpack into my tent and use it as a summit day pack whenever that is necessary. I give this product five out of five stars as far as their claims go, but for my personal preference I just don't usually want to add extra weight to my pack. I will probably only bring this pillow with me on shorter (1-2 night) backpacking trips when weight is less of an issue.  

I think this product is great for people who really need the extra support for their neck when backpacking and have trouble sleeping while camping in the backcountry. It was very comfortable, and I have no overall complaints with the product. If you like to pack a pillow when you go backpacking, this option really will save you space and give you ultimate comfort. 

In the end, it all depends on what kind of backpacker you are! Do you like the creature comforts or do you like to go ultralight? 

Interested in purchasing the PackPillow?

1) PackPillow with day-pack strap

2) PackPillow without strap

If you've tried this product out yourself, I'd love to hear your opinions of the product below in the comments!

 

If you're not convinced the PackPillow is the right backpacking pillow for you, check out these other backpacking pillow options below. I've added the weights of each compared to PackPillow, since weight is one of the bigger deciding factors when backpacking.

1) Nemo Fillow Pillow : Weight comes in at 9oz compared to the PackPillow's 4.5oz

2) Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow: Inflatable pillow that packs down small, weight comes in at 4oz compared to the PackPillow's 4.5oz

3) Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow: Weight comes in at 7.4oz compared to the PackPillow's 4.5oz

4) Exped Air Pillow: Another inflatable pillow, weight comes in at a low 3oz compared to PackPillow's 4.5oz

Cheers,

Allison



 

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If you’ve ever gone to the beach in LA County you have probably spent some time walking along the bike trail that borders the beach. Along the bike path you see all kinds of people. Some skateboarding, some bike riding, some walking, and others running. Michael and I were spending some time at Manhattan Beach one day and I got to wondering exactly how long the whole bike path was. So when I went home from our trip, I did a little research and found out it was a pretty long trail! I got so inspired to go bike riding along the whole trail, that only a few weeks later I went for a solo ride along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail.

About the Marvin Braude Bike Trail

The Marvin Braude Bike trail extends, North to South,  for 22 miles (one way) from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrence County Beach, and there is over 2,500 feet of total elevation gain round trip (44 miles), which is surprising because from the plain eye the trail looks fairly flat. If you plan to ride the whole trail, you will either need to be prepared to ride back or arrange some sort of pickup at the other beach. Since I was solo, I opted to ride the full 44 miles.

  • Distance: 22 miles one way (44 miles out and back)
  • Elevation gain: about 2,500 feet
  • Average time to ride: 4-6 hours (depending on fitness)

During a ride along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail you will pass through several iconic beaches:

  • Will Rogers State Beach
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice Beach
  • Marina Del Rey
  • Manhattan Beach
  • Redondo Beach
  • Torrence County Beach
Map of trail:

Click the map below to go to an interactive google map I created of the trail.

I created this Marvin Braude Bike Trail map myself, you are welcome to use it on your own site for more descriptive detail on the bike trail. All I ask is that you link back to my website for credit (do-follow)

Other notes:

  • There are some public bathrooms along the way at different beaches, but it is probably a good idea to bring a bike lock with you so you don’t have to leave your bike alone in these very public areas where they could potentially get stolen. Unless you are riding this with someone.
  • 44 miles is nothing to sneeze at, know your limits and come prepared. I definitely wasn’t in the best biking shape when I did this. I definitely had to push myself the last few miles.
  • It could be fun to break this ride up a bit more and take a few stops along the way too and make a longer day out of it if you’d like.
parking:

You could take a stab at trying to find free parking either around Will Rogers State Beach (if traveling North to South) or near Torrance Beach (if traveling South to North). I didn't want to mess with finding free parking so I just paid a day use parking fee to park at Will Rogers Beach. At the time I did this bike ride, that was only around $6, but I'm sure that changes with time. Still, for me, it was worth it.

When to Ride:

Honestly, the weather in LA County is pretty great year round. You will most likely have a good time riding this any time of year! There will definitively be more people in the summer months though when more people are on vacation.

I created this average temperature map myself, you are welcome to use it on your own site for more descriptive detail on weather in LA County. All I ask is that you link back to my website for credit (do-follow).

What to bring on your ride:

1) U-lock bicycle lock: This is only really important if you plan to park your bike for a bit and either, go to the bathroom or stop on the trail and leave your bike. You may or may not need this.

2) Portable Bike PumpI always bring a small portable pump with me when I ride. I had to use mine on this trail too.

3) Multi Bike Tool: I always bring this with me in case I have to repair something on my bike.

4) Bike Tire LeversI always bring this with me on a ride in case I have to replace a tube in my tire if I get a flat.

5) Sunglasses: Its sometimes easy to forget that our eyes need sun protection too. Always have a pair of sunglasses on hand. My favorite pair for cardio activities are Goodr Sunglasses.

6) Sunscreen: This should be a no-brainer, but always wear and bring sunscreen, I didn't put enough on and I got gnarly bike short tan lines. I really like Neutrogena brand. They even have a Zinc based sunscreen if you are looking for something more natural. 

7) Electrolytes: to help keep you going and stay hydrated and energetic.

8) Padded bike shorts: A must! Your bum will thank you.

9) Snacks: If you are doing this whole trail, it will probably be wise to bring some of your own snacks if you don't plan to stop along the way. Pack what works for you. Some people like bars, some like sandwhiches, there no real rules. I like to pack cliff barscomplete cookies, and lara bars for quick snacks. 

10) Water: I found that 3 liters in a Camelbak was good enough for me for the bike ride.

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Even though I don’t ride my bike a whole lot, I thought this trail looked like a lot of fun and a really cool way to see all the beaches that connect to each other. The weather would be lovely, and there would be plenty of people watching to do. The one kicker was, since I was by myself, I would need to ride 44 miles to do the route round trip, and at the time I had never ridden that far before.

I decided I was still up for the challenge though because of a few things:

  1. It's a paved path, which means it would be easier than mountain biking paths
  2. The bike path looked relatively flat when I had seen it in the past
  3. I can usually ride about 15 miles in 1 hour on the bike at the gym, If I assume a slightly slower pace, I estimated it would take me roughly 4 hours round trip of biking.
  4. I know my body can sustain exercise for up to 26 hours (that's the longest I've done an activity without rest, on Mount Rainer), and I'm in much better shape than I was then... AND 4 hours is WELL within that limit
  5. Thus I  concluded, that even if it was hard and that if I got tired, I would make it back regardless.

Ok, that settled it. I decided to go ride the trail on one of my days off from work. I didn't want to deal with looking for free parking in LA so I just paid for parking at the Will Rogers State Beach. At the time it was only  about $9 for the day. I got there about 9am.

I put on my (mid thigh) padded bike shorts, strapped on my dorky camel bak backpack, equipped with 3 liters of water, some snacks, bike pump, repair kit, gloves.... I purposely left my helmet (it didn't seem like a high risk trail), and I accidentally left my sunglasses... AND I wore a giraffe t-shirt. Are you starting to get a good picture of how awesome I looked? Blonde Bombshells and Brazilian bikini bottoms ain't got nothing on me.

I should also mention that when I rode this trail, I didn’t own a road bike. So I rode the whole thing on my mountain bike. I would definitively suggest the road bike over a mountain bike, but hey… you do what you gotta do

I can describe the first part of my ride as easy breezy fun. The first bigger beach I passed was the Santa Monica Pier. Always a classic, but usually crowded. The ride through it was beautiful though.

I soon ended up at Venice Beach, where I anticipated to see the masses of weed selling venues, vibrant side shops, hippies, the homeless and hipsters alike... but I guess they were all still sleeping. I was still feeling good at this point. I was starting to lose feeling in my rear end though from sitting on my bike seat, which wasn’t a good sign so early in the ride.

Then I hit Marina Del Rey. I read that there would be a slight detour from the beach path when you hit Marina Del Rey. I got lost though for a bit, so let me reiterate the directions I’ve already mentioned above. You turn left onto Washington, and ride down the street (there are nice bike lanes the whole way), and you will turn right before the sign on Mildred Av. See the picture below? There will be a bike route sign too.

I didn't ride far enough and thought I had missed the turn off, but some nice ladies who had come from the opposite direction helped me find the route again. Once you turn at this point, the path is pretty easy to follow.

But before you get back along the beach you get to ride beside some pretty sailboats.

And along this neat bike road next to where a lot of boats are setting sail.

About the time I got back to the beach path on the other side of Marina Del Rey, I started feeling like my back tire was deflated. Cycling started seeming harder. Ok, I got this. I will pump it up... duh.

So I pulled over and attempted to pump up my back tire. I'm usually with Michael when I go riding, and I somehow was using my bike pump wrong and managed to let out a ton of air in my back tire instead of adding air. Defeated... I called Michael, and finally he helped me to get it working! I was lifting the little lever the wrong way. Oops. Did I mention I don’t ride bikes much. I mean, this site is called She Dreams of Alpine… not She Dreams of Bike Riding. Alas, the one thing about us multi-passionate adventurers, is that we are always up to trying new things, especially when they take us to beautiful places.

Ok so ... I filled up the tire, but kind of got flustered because 2 people pulled their bikes over and asked if I needed help, and I, being the independent woman that I am, was like "I GOT THIS".. and I totally didn't fill up my tire enough because I was rushing to show them how confident I was in my solo-biking-adventuring.

I started riding again, and things were getting slower and worse than before. So I pulled over again... and I realized my tire was STILL flat. This second time I filled it up properly.

Ok, back on the road. I rode by the El Segundo Refinery.

Then I hit Manhattan beach, which is lovely and probably one of my favorite beaches to visit.

When I hit Redondo, I knew I was getting close to the end of the South point of the trail. It's neat once you get to Redondo because you get to ride through the fish market area.

The last couple of miles felt tough, and I was pretty hungry. I persevered though and made it to  the mile marker telling me I was at the end.

There is a little food shack to grab lunch at, so I grabbed a table and stuffed my face with quesadillas and enjoyed some more people watching.

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So I sort of shifted energies in March for a bit. I joined a business school of sorts for online entrepreneurs called Marie Forleo’s Bschool and it kicked off in early March. I’m not really going to go into why I decided to take this course besides to say that it felt right and I wanted to invest in my business (this blog)  to give it focus, purpose and more direction and the curriculum for Bschool really felt like it fit what I was looking for. In March I really wanted to give the course good focus, and I knew that meant that I might not be able to give writing new content as much focus. I think in the longer term, it is still the better decision. So while I only wrote 3 new posts for the blog in March, I feel like the things I’m learning from the course and the time I’ve invested in it has been really good. You’ll start to see me incorporating what I’ve learned from that into this blog here in the next couple months.

If you’d like more details on why I’m writing these income and traffic report posts, please read the intro of my first income report.  

And if you’d like to support us in our journey, the best way to do that is via our Patreon account. You can read more about that here. As an added bonus, we provide Patrons some extra benefits such as being featured on our support page and $5 patrons get access to exclusive video tutorials we put out each month that delve more into the nitty gritty of blogging as a business and teaching you what we are learning. We currently have 10 amazing patrons! We are so grateful for all the support and love we have received from this community so far. 

**A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links.

Despite only writing 3 new posts for the blog, there were a lot of things that still went on in March and a bunch of little wins! 

What we worked on for the blog 
  • I hired a Pinterest Virtual Assistant! For the first few months of my blog I really focused on building and growing my Instagram account, but now I’m shifting energies to Pinterest. Pinterest seems to be a game changer for a lot of bloggers, and I decided I just don’t have the time to commit to it that I need to, so I bit the bullet and at the end of March invested in a Pinterest Virtual Assistant. You may think… why would you do this if you aren’t making that much money yet, and to put it simply, it’s because I trust I will get there, and I think I will get there faster if I have someone helping me. This gives me time to focus on other things with the blog, like writing great content!
  • More Pinterest. I've been dabbling around in March with developing my own Pinterest "branded pin" style, I still have really created one, but I did a lot of research online to see what other bloggers were doing. 
  • Investing in my Business. As I already mentioned in my introduction, I joined Bschool, and that has been a 6+ hour a week time commitment. It is an "8-week" course, but it really is self paced. I'm still only on week one materials, because doing all the coursework and really committing to doing it well is taking me some time. 
  • This month we reached 11k followers on Instagram
  • One-on-One Instagram Coaching. I also coached my first “client” on how to grow their Instagram accounts using the same strategies I used to build mine. If this is something you'd be interested in, just shoot me an email. I'd be happy to discuss with you how I grew my account from 450 followers to 10K in 5 months.
  • We grew our email list by +56 new subscribers this month with Convert Kit! Even though I didn't post or promote my content that much in March, I see that as a win that at least my content marketing is continuing to build up gradually. I seriously swear by Convert Kit you guys, since I changed over in January we have seen great progress in growing our email list! I've actually been really slacking in my "writing a newsletter" consistently department, but mostly because I've been really trying to focus on my "why" and my "vision" for the future of this blog and I want to have a consistent voice and message in my newsletters. More to come on our "why" in April and how I'd like to use this blog to be a purpose-driven-business.
  • Engaging with Brands- We have got a few things finally lined up on our calendars with brands, and I continue to learn about this process a bit each month.
  • Bitly and Linktree. I started using both of these services (both free) this month. I put Linktree in my instagram profile so that I can have more links in my profile all at the same time. I also put most of my links that I use in link tree through a service at bitly.com that creates trackable short links for you. This way I can see how much people are actually clicking over using Linktree profile link in Instagram. 
  • Worked on SEO and Domain Authority - This month I tried participating in a couple of collaborative assignments on other blogs to help build my backlinks into my own site. I wrote a short piece on Big Sur and also wrote a guest post about A Weekend Guide to Amsterdam. I haven't focused on SEO much outside of optimizing my own posts, and I still have a lot to learn. Baby Steps. Next month I'm hoping to do more guest posting/collaborations (I'm hoping 5-10 a month) to continue to build authority for my blog, and also I hope to learn more about Keyword Research.
  • Making New Blogging Friendships. Each month it seems like I'm making new connections and friends in the blogging world. I really love it! Some people say online business can be lonely, but I'm finding amazing people to connect with and collaborate with. I'm already planning some hikes with some bloggers I've met over instagram, which sort of blows my mind. Social media can be a positive thing you guys. Lets be friends!
  • Email Domains. At the end of the month I started to set up an email domain so I stop using my @gmail.com account for business emails. This is mostly to look more professional. I am doing this with Gsuite, but I'm still getting it all set up. I want to be able to forward everything that goes to that Gsuite email domain to my normal gmail account, because I already have it organized and systemized how I like and I don't want to start over. I am still figuring out how to set up the forwarding feature. 
  • Guest Posts on She Dreams of Alpine. I'm also considering accepting guest posts to my own blog, if the content fits right for my audience. This month I am working with a particular blogger on a hike in Arizona. We are still in editing phase, but I hope to have it published soon! If you think you would like to write a guest post for my blog, feel free to pitch me an idea by emailing me! I'd love to have more trail reports, particularly in areas that aren't California.
  • We published our 4th Patreon video! This month I talked about Bschool a bit, how I am working to increase my pageviews, rebranding, sponsored content, and mindset. It’s only available to patrons, but we try to make our tutorials very affordable for patrons. Gaining access is only $3/month, and we are putting out at least 1 new tutorial a month for patrons + all patron earnings (and all blog earnings in general) go straight to supporting blog expenses and student loans. We currently are only investing in our business and student loan debt with any of the money we make with the blog.  

 

 



Other Fun Things From March:
  • The biggest thing that happened in March is that WE GOT A VAN! After several years of sleeping in the back of our Jeep and Subaru on car camping trips, we finally made the plunge to upgrade our camping a bit. I spent nearly all of March coordinating it and getting everything ready, and the last weekend in March we flew to Denver and picked the van up and drove it back home to California. I will write more about all of this some other time though. In the process I got to spend time with one of my best friends who lives up in Denver.
  • One bummer of March is that I caught a cold for about 2 weeks, which made me not want to do anything related to the blog, I was pretty worthless. Sigh. What can you do?
  • We also got to go up to San Luis Obispo with Michaels family for a camping weekend, which was fun and we went on a few hikes there with them. The weather was amazing!
  • I also went up to San Diego one weekend, but it was pretty rainy the whole weekend so we didn't do much outside. We went to a climbing gym though on one of the days.
  • One weekend we spent at the Wind Wolves Preserve helping to film a project for that Conservatory. 
  • I took the Clifton strengths finder test and it told me that my top 5 strengths are: achiever, focus, discipline, futuristic and learner
  • Books this month. This month I was simultaneously reading 3 different books, which is probably why I haven't finished any of them. I am reading Trespassing Across America  which was the Dream of The Alpine Book Club's choice for March and two other personal choice books called "Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way" and "Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin". I'm really loving Do the Work. It is small but really impactful, talking a lot about overcoming the fear and the resistance we will have when trying to break new grounds in creativity and personal pursuits. In April the book club is reading, "The Last Season" and for my personal choices I am going to try and finish up my books from last month + maybe start a book I've been wanting to read called "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel". 
  • I secured some more hiking and backpacking permits for this Summer/Fall. I got permits for backing to Petite Griffon in the Sierra, and tried to get permits for Mt. Whitney Trail so I can hike Mount Muir, another 14er, but with no luck. I will just have to try to get "walk-in" permits. Want to hike your first 14er?
  • In order to start getting my self back into hiking shape a bit I started training for a half marathon again. I find running to be really time-efficient training, and then hiking on the weekends when I have the time. It's all I can manage right now with also rock climbing training.
  • I feel like my organization system has been changing a lot lately because I can't seem to find a system that really works for me. However, this month I came up with a bullet journal template I love for helping me have a morning routine and get work done as effectively as possible. 
  • I had a financial goal win this month. I have been wanting to save at least 3 months worth of living expenses into an emergency fund of sorts, and I finally reached my goal this past month. 
  • And finally, but not least, I said goodbye to a coworker and friend who is moving on to new adventures on the East Coast in pursuit of an MBA (but not without a bit of traveling first)! We wish him the best!
March Blog Posts:

This is pretty straight forward, I continue to like to track my time at the end of each day to see where I've been focusing each month. At the end of the month I throw it into a spreadsheet to make sure I'm on track. I knew I'd be focusing on Bschool in March and not content, so this seems pretty consistent. I was also sick in March, so the number of hours I worked on the blog was a bit down from February.

Ok, so what did we earn in March?!

"THEORETICAL" Revenue Totals for March: $296

  • Patreon Sponsors: $133
    • You can see a list of all our sponsors on our Patreon page
  • Amazon Affiliate Income: $79
  • Google AdSense: $10
  • Skillshare Classes: $14
  • Other Affiliates: $0.50 (ha! I just had to add this one)
  • Coaching: $60

ACTUAL Blog Expenses for February: $318

Monthly expenses breakdown:

  • ConvertKit (monthly): $29
    • I made the leap to ConvertKit at the end of December and I couldn't be happier! I love love love it. I wouldn't go back to Mail Chimp now, it has seriously made my life so much easier and given me back so much time. I used to spend hours trying to figure out how to do something in Mail Chimp that is very intuitive in Convert Kit. I'll write a more detailed post sometime soon about why I moved from Mail Chimp to ConvertKit.
  • Virtual Assistants: $276
    • I have hired a VA to help me with a few things from time to time each month. It costs me about $26 a week, but has been a great help so far! I actually canceled this though at the end of March as I've hired a Pinterest VA now, and wanted to put my money there
    • This includes my first payment to Pinterest VA
  • Canva: $13
    • I finally upgraded my Canva membership to the pro version from the free version because I wanted to be able to save my "brand" colors and fonts, and build folders within Canva. 
  • Other tools that I pay for (but only get charged yearly, not monthly)

Still working on that long game, slowly growing and building my traffic and SEO. I keep hearing other bloggers to say to be patient and keep putting in the work, so that's what I'm doing! 

Since a lot of my monthly traffic has been dependent on me creating new content and hustling to promote it, my traffic numbers were slightly lower this month because I wrote less posts. I am working each month to improve my SEO, Pinterest promotion, and getting a consistent social media content schedule in place so that these numbers just..

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Hiking into Havasu Falls is, in my opinion, the best way to experience this trail and these waterfalls. You'll want to spend at least 2 nights and 3 days backpacking the Havasu Falls Trail in order to give yourself the most time to explore the area and spend time at the waterfalls. It is also a 25 mile hike roundtrip, so you will want to make sure you have the right gear for your time camping there. You can read all about the Havasu Trail in my Complete Guide to Hiking Havasu Falls  which has trail details on camping, permits, weather, photography, and more at Havasu Falls. This post however, is focused on what kind of gear you should bring with you on your backpacking trip to Havasu Falls.

Leave No Trace: I also want to note the importance here, that should go without saying, but be sure that whatever you pack in with you that you ALWAYS PACK OUT. Trails like Havasu Falls are extremely special and extremely popular, and sometime people leaving trash and gear behind, and that is NOT the right way to treat this land. If we continue to abuse nature and our earth in this way, we will lose access to places like these. Please, don't do that. Let's respect the land, and even better... if you pass by trash that isn't yours, pick it up!

Ok, onto the list, detailed below + packing list printable available for free at the bottom of post.

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR HAVASU FALLS Trail HIKE

If you plan on backpacking the Havasu Falls Trail Hike there are some essential items that you should bring with you on your hike.

*Please note that some of the below links and in this post are affiliate links.

1) BackpackDeuter's 45+ Liter backpacks make great first time backpacking backpacks. This was the first backpack I used when I started backpacking, and I still use it often to this day. It's very comfortable, has plenty of pockets and makes packing really simple!

2) Tent or Hammock: If there is a slight chance for rain on your trip, definitely bring a tent, but if the weather looks nice you could also consider bringing a hammock (like Eno's DoubleNest Hammock) as there are ample places to set up a hammock at the Havasupai campground. Any basic tent will do at Havasupai, although a lighter tent, such as Marmots Crane Creek Backpacking Tent might be a little easier to carry. It sort of depends on how many people are going on your trip and how you will pair up. 

3) Sleeping Bag & Pad: I always recommend getting a down sleeping bag if you are going to be a "serious" backpacker. If that's you, I recommend getting a 0 to 15 degree rated bag. If you will be doing more high altitude hiking, just splurge on the zero degree bag, it will be worth it. However for this hike, you can do with a less intense sleeping bag. We love the Big Agnes Brand down bags. And if you've read any of my other posts, you know that the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad is my favorite sleeping pad. It's light weight and easy to pack. It's super comfortable (no body parts touch the ground), and it's warm! 

4) Headlamp: I pretty much don’t go anywhere without a headlamp. I have a Petzl headlamp, and it has been going strong for over 3 years now. It's also always good to pack an extra set of batteries too whenever you hike or backpack. 

5) Water Bottle and CamelBakCamelbaks are awesome for hiking! They are the easiest way to stay hydrated, and I typically always bring one with me. I recommend getting one that has at least a 3 liter reservoir. Also consider brining a Nalgene or water bottle for backup. I've had friends who had their Camelbaks start leaking part way into a hike (although, it's never happened to me personally), so if my hike is long enough (over 5 miles, which Havasu Falls Trial is), or if it is really hot out (which it also is), I will usually pack an empty Nalgene as backup. Then, if a leak develops in my Camelbak, I can at least transfer water to the Nalgene and still be OK.

6) Water filter: There are two main water filters I recommend, and I own both. I like the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter and I like the SteriPen. I use the Hiker Pro more often when I backpack, but when I want something small to bring with me on hikes I will throw the SteriPen in my pack.

7) Camping Stove: I love the  MSR Reactor Stove System. I bought this after my Jet Boil broke down, and I like it a lot more. It works great at high altitude and takes only about 30 seconds to bring water to a boil.

8) Spork: I like these Light My Fire Sporks because you get a spoon and fork all in one. Your bases are covered.

9) Water proof phone case: If you plan to take your phone, consider bring a dry bag to house your phone in (like the JOTO cellphone drybag). You will be hiking in and out of water on this hike.

10) Sunglasses: My favorite pair for day hikes are Goodr Sunglasses. I originally bought these glasses last year when I got into trail running. I couldn't find a pair of glasses that were comfortable and would stay on my face when I was running. These finally did the trick, and now I love wearing them hiking too! They come in a bunch of great color options and the best part... they are only $25! If you want something more classic Native Eyewear is also another good choice because they have a great lifetime warranty. 

11) Food and Snacks: This should be slightly obvious, but make sure to pack enough food for the appropriate number of days you will be hiking. I like to pack cliff barscomplete cookies, and lara bars for quick snacks. Good To-Go Dehydrated Dinners are some of my favorite dehydrate meals to bring on backpacking trips as well. The ingredients are great, and they are super delicious. My favorites are the Thai Curry and the Herbed Mushroom Risotto!

12) Treking Poles: I love the black diamond trail pro shock trekking poles. Michael and I both have these. They have a set for women (blue) and men (red). I've owned a pair of cheaper trekking poles in the past and they break fairly easily. These are almost indestructible. I've been using the same pair for almost 5 years now, and still going strong.

13) Sunscreen & Lipbalm: This should be a no-brainer, but always wear and bring sunscreen for a hike. I really like Neutrogena brand. Just like sunscreen, it is also important to bring lip balm that has sunscreen in it on your hike. My favorite lip balm is the either the Joshua Tree brand.

14) Bug Spray: If you have warmer weather, it’s always safe to just bring some of this just in case. I prefer the wipes for hiking and backpacking because it is lighter and easier to pack.

15) Camera: Don't forget to pack a camera or a phone to capture your hike! You can read our post on the Outdoor Adventure Photography Gear we use if you want details on the cameras we recommend for outdoor photography, but also you can't go wrong these days with your phone camera either. Your choice!

16) First Aid Kit: Another nice item to have is a small first aid kit to throw in your bag that has some basic first aid essentials in it, like the Lifeline Trail Light Day Hiker First Aid Kit. Better safe than sorry.

17) Optional Pool Floaty: It can also be fun to hang out on a pool floaty in the falls, these are fairly light to pack, so why not bring one! If you are feeling adventurous, maybe even bring a giant pizza pool float.

18) Swimsuit: Something that you don't normally bring on a hiking trip, but is a must if you want to swim in the Havasu creek is a good swimsuit! Bring whatever brand you love!

19) Small Packable Towel: It will also be useful to have a small towel if you can spare the room in your bag. I didn't take one with me on my trip, but I sometimes wish I had for after our dips in the water. You could pack a small towel such as a lightweight microfiber towel.

20) Clothing based on time of year you will be hiking: For details on clothing, hiking boots, and socks we recommend, I suggest reading our Essential Hiking Gear List. The key thing here is to remember that even though the desert can get very warm during the day, the night times can get very cold. Think layers! As for footwear, definitely bring a good pair of hiking boots and at least 2 pairs of wool socks. You can also bring some water shoes if you would prefer to use them for hiking through the water, but we just walked around barefoot in the water. 

For more detailed descriptions on gear that we like and recommend, check out our Essential Hiking Gear List.

You can also download a printable version of the above Havasupai Hiking Gear List in the box below:

Havasu Falls Trail Packing List

Download the Havasu Falls Trail Hike Packing list for easy reference when packing for your trip.

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Hope that you found this useful, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Hiking Havasu Falls to make sure you've nailed down all of your trail and hiking details!

Cheers,

Allison aka She Dreams of Alpine



 
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It's that time again, where I bring you behind the scenes of how we are working to make this blog into a business. It's funny, I started this "monetize my blog" experiment in October of 2017 just to see if we could make a little extra passive income to help pay off our student loans, and while that is still true, this "experiment" has turned into a passion for me. I don't just want to make this work for helping to pay student loans off, I also want to prove up something with a viable long term future... something that could maybe give me and Michael location independence one day. Paying off the student loans is the first piece in that puzzle, but I hope to be creating new content and growing this community for much longer than that. If the past few months have taught me anything it is that I have a TON still left to learn and that this won't be easy. It takes consistent, daily, action. I guess I hope if anything I am showing you that I am dedicated, not sugar coating anything, and hopefully helping to provide a road map of sorts to doing something like this yourself as well. If you’d like more details on why I’m writing these kinds of post, please read the intro of my first income report.  

It is important to note that I still work (and anticipate working for still quite a while) a full time job which is very demanding in its own right. I also can't spend all my spare time blogging because I also want to travel and exercise and explore so I can share these awesome adventures with you guys. I look at it this way:

  • I have 1 full time job: Engineer
  • I have 1 part time job: Blogger/Entrepreneur
  • I have 1 part time job: Athlete and Traveller

It helps that I really enjoy this blogging work, it really appeals to a lot of my personality. I love to create and share. I love being challenged and having to learn new things because I have an intense curiosity bone! I also have a strong drive to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. So putting in 20+ hours extra a week on working on this blog isn't overall that taxing on my soul. 

And if you’d like to support us in our journey, the best way to do that is via our Patreon account. You can read more about that here. As an added bonus, we provide Patrons some extra benefits such as being featured on our support page and $3 patrons get access to exclusive video tutorials we put out each month that delve more into the nitty gritty of blogging as a business and teaching you what we are learning. We currently have 10 amazing patrons! We are so grateful for all the support and love we have received from this community so far. 

**A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. 

I mentioned in my January income and traffic report that I had some specific goals for 2018, including growing my audience and traffic, creating meaningful and useful content, working on SEO, etc. Here are some of the things that I worked on this month that took me one step closer to those goals.

What we worked on for the Blog:
  • We reached 10,000 followers on instagram @shedreamsofalpine! Which is amazing and has been on the top of my social media goals. As a sidebar, I'm coaching my first student this March on how to build and grow his Instagram account, this is something I am considering offering as a service. If you would be interested in something like that, enter your email below and I will notify you when I provide a service like that on my site (either more coaching or online class).

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  • I switched my site from http to https. I learned from a Food Blogger Pro podcast that google now looks more favorably on https (s meaning secured) websites than http, which could go into affecting how you rank on google. I had never really given it much thought, but I immediately learned how to switch this over in Squarespace and changed. It was painless from a Squarespace perspective, they automatically url redirect to any old links with the http: setting. In the podcast though, it sounded like it might be a bit more complicated for Wordpress users that have a lot of existing content already.
  • Researching Pinterest Virtual Assistants - After a lot of thought, I've decided I have don't really have time to dedicate to Pinterest, but I believe (from all that I have read) it can be an extremely valuable asset to growing and promoting this blog. So I started interviewing some Pinterest VAs, and I anticipate to hire one starting in March. I'll let you know how all that goes!
  • We grew our email list by +110 new subscribers this month with Convert Kit! I seriously swear by Convert Kit you guys, since I changed over in January we have seen great progress in growing our email list! I've actually been really slacking in my "writing a newsletter" consistently department, but mostly because I've been really trying to focus on my "why" and my "vision" for the future of this blog and I want to have a consistent voice and message in my newsletters. More to come on our "why" in March and how I'd like to use this blog to be a purpose-driven-business.
  • We became Patagonia Affiliates! Although, I would promote their gear without having affiliate links to their products, because hands down Patagonia clothing is my favorite "outdoor" splurge item. Their clothing is genuine quality (I have had some of my jackets over 8 years now) and their mission as a company is unbeatable. 
  • Engaging with Brands. I had a goal to engage with some brands on potential future collaborations. Some of them we are working with for future posts and some just simply ignored me! :) Thats the way it goes, but the point was to get out of my comfort zone and start learning how to "pitch ourselves"
  • SEO - As always, I continue to improve upon my SEO in each post, but for some reason I have a shitty Domain Authority, so this month I tried to work on getting some quality backlinks to my site. I'm happy to report that my DA moved up 2 points, still low.. but progress is the key!
  • We published our 3rd Patreon video! This month I talked about how to create a custom "blog signature" and went through step by step how to create one and link it properly in your site. It’s only available to patrons, but we try to make our tutorials very affordable for patrons. Gaining access is only $3/month, and we are putting out at least 1 new tutorial a month for patrons + all patron earnings (and all blog earnings in general) go straight to supporting blog expenses and student loans. We currently are only investing in our business and student loan debt with any of the money we make with the blog.  
  • I put my site up on Bloglovin. I use this app personally to keep up with food blogs that I love, and so I just made sure that The She Dreams of Alpine blog was in here too. 
  • I used to use Planoly to manage my instagram account photos and schedule, but I switched that stuff over to Tailwind in February now that they have an autopost feature + I already use Tailwind for Pinterest. 
Other fun things from February:
  • This month we got to go rock climbing at two awesome places! We spent one weekend up at Red Rocks in Las Vegas, spending time on some old projects (I finally sent Potato Chips, a V2 that I struggled with last time I was there), and also worked on some new projects! It was a great weekend, made some progress on some old climbs and some progress on new ones. We also got to spend a longer weekend traveling up to Moe's Valley and checked out the climbing there for the first time. It was super rad and I can't wait to go back. Michael and I were so consumed with the awesome climbing there that we didn't actually take ANY photos (of quality) while we there (even though we both brought our cameras)... that's OK, it was nice to take a break from that for a bit. It just means we will have to go back (wink) so we can take some photos to share that area more with you guys. 

  • Finished 2 amazing books this month! Dead Mountain which was the Dream of The Alpine Book Club's choice for February and another book called "You are a Badass at Making Money". Dead Mountain was so interesting and I'm so glad the book club group picked this one! The other book I read was kind of a surprising gem. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was just what I needed. A book on mindset and in particular, addressing your mindset with money and wealth. I highly recommend the reads. In March the book club is reading, "Trespassing Across America" and for my personal choice I am reading "Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way" and if I have time (since that Do the Work Book is smaller), I may also read "Brave Enough", by one of my favorite authors, Cheryl Strayed. 

  • We signed a contract to move into a new place at beginning of May, which will help us save about $1000/month on rent and utilities, which will ultimately help us pay off our student loan debt quicker!
  • I secured some hiking and backpacking permits for this Summer/Fall. I have permits to hike Split Mountain AND Middle Palisade, two more Fourteeners in California. Want to hike your first 14er?

+ I can't wait to tell you about another new exciting thing we've been scheming on in February, but you will find out in March or April! patience my friends. :)

February BLOG POSTS 

I had wanted to push out 7 blog posts in February, but I only ended up publishing 5 new pieces. Haven't figured out how to reduce the time I spend on these posts, so it's hard to crank out more than 5, but I anticipate I will get better at this with time. However, I’m really proud of the pieces we were able to publish and I feel like they are going to be great resources on this blog. Here’s a look at what we published in February: 

  1. The Ultimate Guide to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico
     

  2. Traffic and Income Report - January 2018
     

  3. Your Complete Guide to Hiking Havasu Falls in 2018 - Trail Details, Camping, Permits, Weather, Photography, and More
     

  4. Climbing Destination Guide - Bouldering At Hueco Tanks State Park in Texas

Ok, I started being more conscious in February of where I was spending my time to make sure I optimized my day to the fullest since I am juggling so many things. I started writing down exactly how I was spending my time each day as far as working on the blog goes. If data interests you, here is how it all pieced out for February:

The good news is that I think I have my priorities straight! over 50% of my time is spent on creating and promoting new content for the blog. I spent quite a bit of time working on Pinterest stuff as well (hence my desire to get a VA). I also have a strong need to be organized, so I spend a fairly good portion of my time every week making sure I prioritize things and don't drop the ball anywhere. Anyways, kind of interesting, I'll probably continue to track this going forward. Almost 100 hours logged on the blog in February, on my "off" time from my day job. 

Ok, so what did we earn in February?!

"THEORETICAL" Revenue Totals for February: $213.21

  • Patreon Sponsors: $132.74
    • We gained 1 new patron in February! You can see a list of all our sponsors on our Patreon page
  • Amazon Affiliate Income: $42.30
  • Google AdSense: $10.57
  • Skillshare Classes: $27.60

ACTUAL Blog Expenses for February: $147.00

Monthly expenses breakdown:

  • ConvertKit (monthly): $29
    • I made the leap to ConvertKit at the end of December and I couldn't be happier! I love love love it. I wouldn't go back to Mail Chimp now, it has seriously made my life so much easier and given me back so much time. I used to spend hours trying to figure out how to do something in Mail Chimp that is very intuitive in Convert Kit. I'll write a more detailed post sometime soon about why I moved from Mail Chimp to ConvertKit.
  • Virtual Assistant: $105
    • I have hired a VA to help me with a few things from time to time each month. It costs me about $26 a week, but has been a great help so far!
  • Canva - I finally upgraded my Canva membership to the pro version from the free version because I wanted to be able to save my "brand" colors and fonts, and build folders within Canva. 
  • Other tools that I pay for (but only get charged yearly, not monthly)
  • NOTE: I also purchased some "training" courses in February to help me grow and learn faster, I have not accounted those expenses here since they are not "normal" blogging expenses.

So still not making a "ton" of money per say, but I still really consider myself in the learning phases of all of this, but the good news is that each month we have been able to earn a bit more! From $119 in September to $230 in March. Progress not perfection. You may wonder why I choose to hire a VA if it is so expensive, and that's because I'm thinking about my long game. I know that at the beginning months/year will be rough in terms of profit margins, but the VA is helping with work to help set the platform up for the future. We will see how it goes, but I have a firm belief that sometimes you have to invest in your business first before you can see it truly grow... hence why I am also taking several education courses since blogging is completely new to me.

TRAFFIC SUMMARY

I am pulling our site traffic overview primarily from Google Analytics.

Just to give you a bit of perspective, a few months before I "relaunched" the blog, I was only getting about 300 unique visitors to the blog (primarily from organic search) per month. I didn't quite achieve my traffic goals in February.

In February I was really hoping to touch the 10,000 page views mark, but I also dropped the ball in putting out 7 new posts in February and only posted 5 times. I think if I had posted 7 I would've reached 10,000. Also, my Pinterest traffic started declining for some odd reason in February, which is another reason why I am looking into hiring a Pinterest VA. All that being said, we still saw more page views and users in February than January. I also reached 1,000 page views for one post in one day, which has never happened to me before. I call this uptick the Havasu Falls Shark.

TOP 10 TRAFFIC SOURCES

Direct Traffic: This is always my "biggest" category. Direct traffic can occur any time that Google Analytics can't determine the source of the traffic. Often times this can be from mobile social media apps or emails, or even organic search. It's a mixed bag.

Organic Traffic: Its awesome to see this growing as we produce more content and work on optimizing our SEO. I can only imagine that it will get better with time as I have more time to go back to older posts and clean them up.

Reddit: I'm really moving away from posting in Reddit, I don't like it, the people aren't that friendly there and it just stresses me out. So I'd rather not stress myself out. 

Facebook Groups: When I updated my Havasu Falls post, I found a Havasu Falls Facebook group and posted my trip report in there. It's part of..

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Imagine yourself the evening of your second to last day backpacking in the high Sierra Nevada mountains, 34 miles in, sitting in your tent to avoid the snow and wind, wearing all the clothes you brought with you because you hadn't anticipated it being this cold. You've got mild altitude sickness, your pal just threw up beside his tent, and you know you'll probably have to get up to go pee in the cold weather about 5 times during the night because that's what altitude does to you. You know what makes life instantly better in that moment? Broth. A big cup of steamy miso broth. I can't describe to you how excited I got when our friend Lucas offered us all a warm cup of broth while we sat inside our tents tending to our sick, weakened bodies. I've never enjoyed a cup of broth so much. It was like the nectar of life.

 The thing I love about trips like these is that it helps you isolate your basic needs. You basically spend your whole day worrying about simple things like food for fuel, a stream to filter water, mitigating your altitude sickness, and finding a nice rock to pee next to.

My friend Jacob got a permit to backpack from Onion Valley Campground to Whitney Portal, and I was lucky to get to tag along. We spent 4 days backpacking 43 milesascending 11,080 ft, and descending 12,227 ft, and by the end of it, we were exhausted. Are you excited yet to plan your own adventure here?

What to Expect in this Post:

In case you are looking for something specific, below lists the different sections I have broken this post down into (at the top of the post you will find the resources for doing this hike and at the bottom you will find fun details from our trip report + lots of good photos and a video!):

  1. Quick hiking information, all the little details you want right up front
  2. A map of the trail with the campsites we stayed at + GPX file
  3. Elevation Profile
  4. When to plan your hike, what is the best time of the year to do this trail
  5. How to get there and information on shuttling
  6. Permit information
  7. Resources and what to bring
  8. Our personal trip report from this hike on June 2015, with all the details + photos you'd want
  9. Youtube video of the trail!
HIKING Quick Info:
  • ~43 Miles Round Trip 
  • 11,080 feet total elevation gain for trip, 12,227 feet total descent
  • Trailhead elevation: 9,600 feet if starting at Onion Valley Campground
  • Highest Point on the trail: Trail Crest, 13,645 feet
  • Recommended Days to Complete: 4 days 3 nights
  • Lots of water sources along trail, bring water filters
  • Permit Required!
  • Bear cans required!!
  • Dog friendly? No dogs allowed on trails on the JMT
MAP of trail:

Below is a map of our hiking trail from my GPS that day. If you click on the image below you will be taken to an interactive map that you can further explore

In summary, we hiked this trail in Four Days.

  • Day 1 – ~11 miles from Onion Valley Campground to Camp 1 near along Bubbs Creek
    • 4.5 miles uphill to Kearsarge Pass (11,760 feet)
    • The rest of the day is basically downhill and eventually connects with John Muir Trail
    • Camp 1 Near Bubbs Creek at 10,400’ elevation
  • Day 2 – ~11 miles from Camp 1 to Camp 2
    • Relatively flat until the base of Forrester Pass
    • Uphill over Forrester Pass at (13,200 feet) and then back down into a valley. Flat(ish) the rest of the way.
    • 3,000 feet elevation gain this day
  • Day 3 – ~11 miles from Camp 2 to Guitar Lake at the base of Mount Whitney
    • Relatively flat hike up to Crabtree Wilderness Ranger station. A good place to rest and get some water.
    • Hike from Crabtree to Guitar Lake (3rd camp at the base of Whitney’s backside) is uphill a “staircase” like trail
  • Day 4 – ~11 miles from Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal
    • Uphill to Trail Crest (13,800 feet)
    • Then 5,000’ of long downhill! Go down the switchbacks to more fun downhill. It’s non-stop brutal fun on your knees.

You can download the GPX/KML file that is shown above with the link below.

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Email Address Go to Library Powered by ConvertKit ELEVATION PROFILE:

Below is a look at the elevation profile for the entire backpacking trail:

WHEN TO GO:

You’ll notice in the trip report below that back when I hiked this trail, we went in early June! I can hardly believe it actually, because some years it would be SO SNOWY to go in June, but we were in the middle of a drought in California back in 2015 and so it made it possible to hike this so early in the year. I guess the point of me saying this is that it really depends on the snow year for when you would be able to do this trail with minimal snow gear (you’ll notice we used some minimal crampons and ice axe when we went since it was early season for a couple sections of the trail). If you don’t feel like “taking a chance” on the conditions, here’s my personal advice based on my hiking experience in the Sierras.

  • You are pretty safe to choose a date between Mid July to Late September, these months are typically snow free
  • You can maybe get by Mid June to Late October, but it’s a little riskier.
  • For me, the “sweet spot” time to do anything in the Sierras, particularly backpacking, is Mid August to Late September (or sometimes mid-October). Why? This honestly is just my personal preference. There are more mosquitos July through August. The weather can also be pretty hot in those months, so I just prefer September/early October. I grab permits though anywhere from early July through early October though for trails. Just depends. Most backpacking trips, I aim for September.

See the chart I created below for more details.

I created this average temperature map myself, you are welcome to use it on your own site for more descriptive detail on weather on the  Whitney Portal Area. All I ask is that you link back to my website for credit (do-follow).

GETTING THERe:

Since this trail is not a "loop" you will need to figure out some transportation options. There were 5 of us in our groups, so we drove 2 cars. We drove up on a Wednesday night to sleep at the campgrounds near the trailhead of Whitney Portal to start getting acclimated to the elevation. Then Thursday morning we woke up, left one of our cars at Whitney Portal and drove to the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center to get our permit. Then we drove to the Onion Valley Campground to. start our hike. the drive between Whitney Portal and Onion Valley is about 1 hour drive. You will have to make that drive again after your backpacking trip to get your car from the Onion Valley Campground. Not too bad overall. We did something similar with our hike from Tuolumne Meadows to Devil's Postpile.

PERMIT INFORMATION:

The permit information here assumes you are entering from the Onion Valley Campground area. If you want details on entering from Whitney Portal side, check out my post on Permit Deadlines & Reservations for Popular Trails in California.

When to Apply:

  • Most trails in can be reserved up to 6 months in advance. So for reservations in the summer months (July through October) you will be looking to make reservations starting in January to April. This will all depend on when you plan to do your hike.

How to Apply:

  • Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov
  • You will be looking to apply for entry at Kearsarge Pass JM31 and exiting Mt Whitney Trail Crest Exit JM35 (see screenshot above)

How Much Does it Cost:

  • Transaction fee for reservations costs $10 per application plus an additional $5 per person unless you are entering the Mt. Whitney Zone which is $15 per person

what to bring:

Below I have listed some basic items to remember to pack on your backpacking trip, but it is not a comprehensive list. Be sure to check the weather and pack appropriately! It was very cold when we went, but summer months can be warm too. 

*Please note that some of the below links and in this post are affiliate links.

  1. BackpackDeuter's 45+ Liter backpacks make great first time backpacking backpacks. This was the first backpack I used when I started backpacking, and I still use it often to this day. It's very comfortable, has plenty of pockets and makes packing really simple!
  2. Tent: If hiking this in the summer months you will be fine with a 2-season tent, such as Marmots Crane Creek Backpacking Tent
  3. Sleeping Bag & Pad: I always recommend getting a down sleeping bag if you are going to be a "serious" backpacker. If that's you, I recommend getting a 0 to 15 degree rated bag. If you will be doing more high altitude hiking, just splurge on the zero degree bag, it will be worth it. We love the Big Agnes Brand down bags. And if you've read any of my other posts, you know that the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad is my favorite sleeping pad. It's light weight and easy to pack. It's super comfortable (no body parts touch the ground), and it's warm! 
  4. Headlamp: I pretty much don’t go anywhere without a headlamp. I have a Petzl headlamp, and it has been going strong for over 3 years now. It's also always good to pack an extra set of batteries too whenever you hike or backpack. 
  5. Water Bottle and CamelBakCamelbaks are awesome for hiking! They are the easiest way to stay hydrated, and I typically always bring one with me. I recommend getting one that has at least a 3 liter reservoir. Also consider brining a Nalgene or water bottle for backup. Then, if a leak develops in my Camelbak, I can at least transfer water to the Nalgene and still be OK.
  6. Water filter: There are two main water filters I recommend, and I own both. I like the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter and I like the SteriPen. I use the Hiker Pro more often when I backpack, but when I want something small to bring with me on hikes I will throw the SteriPen in my pack.
  7. Camping Stove: I love the  MSR Reactor Stove System. I bought this after my Jet Boil broke down, and I like it a lot more. It works great at high altitude and takes only about 30 seconds to bring water to a boil.
  8. Spork: I like these Light My Fire Sporks because you get a spoon and fork all in one. Your bases are covered.
  9. Trowel: Nobody likes to talk about it, but to be a responsible outdoorsman/woman you need to bury your human waste. The Deuce of Spades Trowel is a fantastic lightweight option. When I went backpacking with my friends in Tuolumne a couple of months ago, all of my friend's trowel handles broke except for mine! Winning!
  10. Sunglasses: My favorite pair for day hikes are Goodr Sunglasses. I originally bought these glasses last year when I got into trail running. I couldn't find a pair of glasses that were comfortable and would stay on my face when I was running. These finally did the trick, and now I love wearing them hiking too! They come in a bunch of great color options and the best part... they are only $25! If you want something more classic Native Eyewear is also another good choice because they have a great lifetime warranty. 
  11. Food and Snacks: This should be slightly obvious, but make sure to pack enough food for the appropriate number of days you will be backpacking. I like to pack cliff barscomplete cookies, and lara bars for quick snacks. Good To-Go Dehydrated Dinners are some of my favorite dehydrate meals to bring on backpacking trips as well. The ingredients are great, and they are super delicious. My favorites are the Thai Curry and the Herbed Mushroom Risotto!
  12. Treking Poles: I love the black diamond trail pro shock trekking poles. Michael and I both have these. They have a set for women (blue) and men (red). I've owned a pair of cheaper trekking poles in the past and they break fairly easily. These are almost indestructible. I've been using the same pair for almost 5 years now, and still going strong.
  13. Sunscreen & Lipbalm: This should be a no-brainer, but always wear and bring sunscreen for a hike. I really like Neutrogena brand. Just like sunscreen, it is also important to bring lip balm that has sunscreen in it on your hike. My favorite lip balm is the either the Joshua Tree brand.
  14. Bug Spray: If you have warmer weather, it’s always safe to just bring some of this just in case. I prefer the wipes for hiking and backpacking because it is lighter and easier to pack.
  15. Camera: Don't forget to pack a camera or a phone to capture your hike! You can read our post on the Outdoor Adventure Photography Gear we use if you want details on the cameras we recommend for outdoor photography, but also you can't go wrong these days with your phone camera either. Your choice!
  16. First Aid Kit: Another nice item to have is a small first aid kit to throw in your bag that has some basic first aid essentials in it, like the Lifeline Trail Light Day Hiker First Aid Kit. Better safe than sorry.
  17. GPS: I am a data nerd, and you should be too! I know so many people don’t utilize GPS when they hike, but I consider it an essential piece of gear and there are many great options. My favorite GPS is the Garmin GPS 64st
  18. Maps: Whether I print out a map from online or I buy one on amazon for my specific trail, I always like to have a map of some sorts.  Depending on where you are hiking, many trails can have forks and split off in different directions, so it’s good to have something to ground yourself with. My favorite maps are the National Geographic Trail Illustrated Maps or the Tom Harrison Maps, if you can find one that includes your trail. I love this super detailed National Geographic Map of the John Muir Trail
  19. Clothing based on time of year you will be hiking: For details on clothing, hiking boots, and socks we recommend, I suggest reading our Essential Hiking Gear List. The key thing here is to remember that even though the summer..
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So for those of you in pursuit of creating your own business and possibly combining it with your ambitions to travel, be outdoors, and have location independence like we are, I wanted to share 8 of my favorite podcasts that I listen to in my spare time to help inspire me to keep fighting the good entrepreneurial fight. I have been really trying to focus on my mindset recently, and for me there is a lot of rewiring my brain to not look at this blog as an "experiment", but rather a business that will be successful as long as I keep putting energy and hard work into it. One way I work on my mindset is by listening to podcasts about business and blogging. I have this intense focus to make an online business work for me, to provide me and Michael with new opportunities and freedoms, that I realize how important it is to fully immerse myself in the topic. I turn them on when I drive. I will listen to them while I work out. Sometimes I will take a lunch break in my car and eat and listen to them. I want to fill my spare moments with inspiration and learning. What makes a successful online business? What are the experts saying to focus on? How can I grow? 

So if you are looking for some inspiration for your own blog or business whether it be specific advice on a topic or just overall inspiration, below are my top 8 favorite podcasts on being an entrepreneur and having a curiosity mindset. 

1. Food Blogger Pro

What is it about? 

Heres is what their bio says, "The Food Blogger Pro Podcast helps both aspiring bloggers and seasoned bloggers alike in creating a beautiful functional, and profitable blog".

Why do I like it?  

You might be thinking, "Umm.. WTF? You are not a food blog!", but I love these guys. Its weird, and you probably all have your first blog that inspired you to start your own blog too, well Pinch of Yum, owners of the Food Blogger Pro and Food Blogger Pro Podcast, were that first blog for me. Way back in college I started a food blog of my own (for fun at the time) called "The Best of Thymes" (ha!) when I decided I wanted to learn how to actually cook good food. I kept it up for about 2-3 years, but then lost interest in blogging about food, primarily because the outdoors, hiking, and climbing came into my life like a flash flood and I was totally consumed with it. I still to this day look at Pinch of Yum as inspiration. Their Income and Traffic reports inspired me to do my own Income and Traffic Reports as I started my blogging for business journey. I am also a Food Blogger Pro Member (probably one of their only non-food blog members) because they have such useful information for new bloggers on tech information, and I also really love their podcast. It's probably the one I listen to the most. I think I just find them really relatable compared to some other blogs. I look at them and think, "Hey, this blogging thing is possible. These normal people transformed their lives with it, and now look at them". I don't know. I just really find their podcast episodes super helpful + inspirational + easy to listen to. They are high on my recommendation list. 

*Note- the food blogger pro links above are affiliate links, meaning if you were to sign up for food blogger pro, we would get a small commission for sending the traffic their way. It would help to support our blog's mission to pay off student loans, and please know I only recommend and link to products/services I love and have used myself. Feel free not to use it! I still think they are an awesome program to check out. The podcast is free. affiliate link is just for their blogging membership.

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   138: How to Get the Most Out of Your Content with Ashley Ward

2.   004: How Understanding Your Visitors Can Help You Create an Income with Dr. David Darmanin

3.   123: Why Every Blogger Needs to Own Their Brand with Phil Pallen

2. Side Hustle School

What is it about?

Heres is what the bio says, "A daily show for everyone who works a regular job and wants to start an income-earning project on the side."

Why do I like it?

Side Hustle School was sort of like the first podcast I listened to that pushed me into thinking about how I could create an online business of my own. Mid-2017 I started thinking how I wanted to create some side hustle income to pay off student loan debts quicker, and ran across this podcast. I consider it to be one of the reasons I am pursuing this blog business in general. Chris Guillebeau puts out short easy to digest podcasts with a story from someone with a side hustle of their own every day, at least in 2017 it was every day. I picked up the podcast probably in June of 2017 and litterally listened to almost every episode of 2017. I have extensive notes from the podcast and it helped me decide where I wanted to go with my side hustle. 

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   002: British man earns $700/month writing fish tank reviews

2.   019: Government analyst builds six figure reselling hustle

3.    137: Australian hacker creates passive income anatomy course

3. The Tim Ferriss Show

What is it about?

Heres is what the bio says, "Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been translated into 40+ languages. Newsweek calls him 'the world’s best human guinea pig,' and The New York Times calls him 'a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk.' In this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use."

Why do I like it?

While not every episode is about being about an "entrepreneur" so to speak, the Tim Ferriss Show is one of my favorites to listen to to get inspiration and learn new things. It was one of the very first podcasts I had ever listened to and to this day it is one of my favorites. I feel a lot like Tim Ferriss sometimes, very curious, wanting to try a lot of things. I own almost every one of his books. I definitely drink the Tim Ferriss cool-aid so to speak. He's one of my "entrepreneurial heroes" and I love all the new people and concepts I learn about through this podcast.

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   Mr. Money Mustache — Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year

2.   Jamie Foxx on Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories

3.   How to Design a Life – Debbie Millman

4. How I Built This with Guy Raz

What is it about?

Here is what the bio says, "How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight."

Why do I like it?

This podcast from NPR is super interesting! I love hearing the stories by some of the biggest companies out there and how they all got started. It makes you realize how much these people hustled and how many of them started at square one too, with no following or prospects, but they just kept at it and now they are making millions and millions of dollars. Guy Raz does an incredible job making these stories very interesting. 

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   Samuel Adams: Jim Koch

2.   Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger

3.   Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard

5. Smart Passive Income Online Business and Blogging Podcast

What is it about?

Here is what the bio says, "Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income Blog discusses online business, blogging, marketing, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle. No fluff, no chit chat, just quality, actionable content you can use to improve your online business, blog and lifestyle.

Why do I like it?

When I first came across Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income website I remember being like, "Whatttttt where has this been all of my life?" and I find so many of his podcasts very helpful, particularly for learning about different topics in the blogging/online world that I am learning about. He has a lot of great tips and strategies on his podcast and I definitely recommend going through the list of podcasts on his sites to find topics that interest you. 

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   SPI 210: How to Automate Your Business to Save Time and Make More Money with Dana Malstaff

2.   SPI 192: (Updated Recording) Types of Passive Income Generated Online and What to Expect From Each – Part 1

3.    SPI 290: Affiliate Marketing: An Insider Look at My Most Successful Long-Term Campaigns

6. Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield

What is it about?

Here is what the bio says, "Amy Porterfield is a marketing strategist helping entrepreneurs build their business online.

Why do I like it?

I stumbled on Amy Porterfield's podcast because she talked on another podcast that I was listening too (can't remember who's now), but now I am pretty hooked. Although she has a very different style than say, Food Blogger Pro, I still find a lot of what she teaches very valuable. I am part of her email list and she has convinced me to sign up for several of her classes... I guess she is good at what she does, which is what I find fascinating. Trying to learn from the best here.

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   #195: The 6 Pillars of My Content Creation Process

2.   #172: Getting Started with Facebook Ads: The List Building Series (Part 1)

3.    #187: How to Use Pinterest to Generate Traffic and Profits

7. ProBlogger Podcast

What is it about?

Here is what the bio says, "A podcast on how to make money blogging covering how to create great content, find readers, build reader engagement and monetise your blog.

Why do I like it?

I like to listen to pro-blogger or browse his archives when I am looking at something even more specific advice on something. He gives some great tips about building traffic, creating content, etc. Definitely worth checking week to week to see if he posts anything that interests you.

Recommended episodes to start with:

1.   Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog

2.   Link Building Tip – Generate Hundreds of Links for Your Blog in 5 Minutes a Day

3.   The Secret to Building a Blog with Big Traffic and Profit

8. Pursuit with Purpose with Melyssa Griffin

What is it about?

Here is what the bio says, "In 2016, I hit my first million-dollar year in my business. And yet, I was totally miserable. At the time, I was focused on numbers and status, rather than what would actually bring me real happiness and create an impact in the world. That all changed. This podcast offers a different perspective on what it means to be a successful entrepreneur and human, and explains how to cultivate true meaning and fulfillment in your..

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