Matt Pawlik – San Gabriel Mountains
When it’s safe and socially responsible to go on a local off-the-couch adventure, I will be heading straight for the closest possible trails to satisfy my need for elevation gain and old-growth Jeffrey pines—cue the San Gabriels. After a long day of summiting a resident ANF peak or old fire lookout, you will find me at Ogopogo brewing enjoying a hoppy reward and the company of my loved ones. Even though I may crave a trip to Joshua Tree or Sequoia more than the Angeles National Forest, I honestly do think I will go to the closest damn mountain I can as soon it’s okay to do so!
What can an extroverted, nature-needy nomad turn to in a lockdown? Besides virtual happy hours and far too many crossword puzzles, this homebound hiker has turned to family board game nights – namely, Parks, a game whose goal is to visit as many US National Parks as you can. You know, while staying inside! (Pictured here with his girlfriend, Vanessa, an honorary Weekend Sherpa for participating in so many of the adventures and photo shoots.) Trivia: Matt’s been to 38 countries (whoa!), runs a teaching internship in Japan, cannot name a food he doesn’t like, and got locked in a bathroom by 50 Cent as a prank when working for his film company. Lights out!
Natalie Bates – Shaw’s Cove
I am most excited to go back to the beach… any beach. I grew up going to Huntington Beach with my family, playing in the water all day, and sitting around the fire pit until the beach closed, so that in particular is always special to me. The ocean is my happy place and it brings me peace when things are crazy in life, so it is really hard not being able to go there now. I can’t wait to go snorkeling (not at Huntington … maybe at Shaw’s Cove), smell the salty air, and take walks along the shore!
I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf… maybe this is the year I’ll finally do it! Indoors projects: I’ve been making friendship bracelets and watching adventure movies. I’m going to have a lot of awesome jewelry by the time this is all over! Instagram: @the_wayward_lass. Trivia: Natalie has a brand new blog of the same name, The Wayward Lass, that will feature travel, adventure, and lifestyle content.
Brad Hyland – Point Reyes
I’m looking forward to returning to Point Reyes National Seashore. For a photographer and all-around outdoor lover like me, Point Reyes offers a huge variety of outdoor hiking options (coastal scrub, forest, beaches) and biodiversity. It is also home to a few infamous blue-eyed coyotes, which I always enjoy seeing and photographing. A few of my favorite trails are Abbott’s Lagoon in the spring for flowers, Chimney Rock for whale watching, and Bull Point for the birds and sharks. During shelter-in-place I’ve been playing lots of board games and cards (sometimes with a splash whiskey in hand!) and doing puzzles.
(Pictured with his wife, Carly, an honorary Weekend Sherpa for her work in the field doing special projects for us.) Instagram: @BradHylandPhotography. Trivia: Brad is a truly excellent photographer for birds of all feathers, particularly those in California and Costa Rica, and he’s mighty skilled at capturing amazing coyote moments in the wild, too.
Nicole Szanto – East Fork Carson River
Backpacking the East Fork Carson River Hot Springs. These hot springs make a phenomenal overnight backpack trip, combining so many of my favorite outdoor activities. You get a rewarding hike, natural hot springs, river views, and starry skies all in one! Indoors, I’m doing virtual game nights.
Trivia: Nicole’s an avid world traveler (seriously, we reach out to her about an assignment, and learn she’s made a quick trip to Latvia or the Dolomites or Ashland, Oregon), but home for her is Reno. And she knows all the secret outdoors spots there …. Also, she’s been stuck in an elevator 7 times.
Ben Replogle – Stonehouse Crossing Trail Camp
I’m planning on camping at a small secluded spot in the San Gabriel’s, Stonehouse Crossings Trail Camp; it’s a short hike and it’s close to home. The campsites are under a canopy of shade amid dense forest and alongside a creek. It’s mega peaceful. Indoors while sheltering in place, my wife and I puzzle it up with outdoors-themed puzzles (check out the second pic): Have to satisfy our wanderlust somehow!
Instagram: @big_mountain_moose. Trivia: Ben’s a newlywed! The Yosemite pic is Ben with his wife, Cece, another honorary Weekend Sherpa for participating in so many adventures and photo shoots! He’s also funny, like, watch to the end of his video funny …
Bud Taylor – Chantry Flat
I look forward to returning to the San Gabriel Mountains, in particular Chantry Flat. The presence of Adams Pack Station—which preps hot food—and the option to overnight at the historic Sturtevant Camp, make this my favorite nook in the mountains. No other place so close to Los Angeles gives me the sense of an abiding, nature-loving community. The trail system is great too. I don’t mind sauntering up to Sturtevant Falls with throngs of other people—and dogs. (Might be just what I need after months of “safer-at-home.”) Big Santa Anita Canyon is majestic even on the busiest days. Plus, I can find relative solitude further up the canyon or by looping over to Winter Creek Trail. After hiking, I’ll probably order a veggie burger and fries at the Pack Station and have a seat on the patio by the donkeys. I dig the dirt lot and laid-back, woodsy vibe there. If you’re cooped up in an apartment with no access to a garden or patio, try flexing your green thumb right in the kitchen. Take green onions. For years, I would chop scallions for stir-fry or shrimp marinade, discard the roots, then buy another bundle the next week. Turns out, if you place the cut roots in a jar of water, the onions will keep growing—and fast. These babies are clocking an inch a day, at least. Trivia: Bud is fluent in Spanish and lived in and explored different regions of Mexico over the years, mostly Central Mexico and Chiapas.
Genevieve Laucher – Mount Saint Helena
Holly Kulak – Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
I’m an introvert so shelter-in-place hasn’t been so bad for me, though the outdoors and nature is where I go in spare time, because I love to just observe the abundant beauty of this world, and it’s really lovely to enjoy a picnic at a peak, or read a book in quiet meadow. The good news is the outdoors won’t be closed forever. I’m looking forward to an urban stroll in SF where I can see what’s new for outdoor art installations and murals throughout the city, and in particular in one of my favorite spots, North Beach (I love the murals, the history medallions on the sidewalks, and criss-crossing streets to go get a tasty coffee, a cannoli at Stella Bakery, a cocktail at Vesuvio or Tosca or Comstock Saloon, and of course, City Lights Bookstore). But I’m most ready to hit my favorite local trail in Sonoma at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Bald Mountain summit is a challenging but rewarding hike, and the view from the top straddles both Napa and Sonoma Valleys. I also like the post-hike reward of wine tasting!
Instagram: @weekendsherpa. Trivia: The indoor tent picture was taken as part of Weekend Sherpa’s #OptInside editorial campaign, ideas for bringing the outdoors inside. And that’s Hank the bulldog in the tent, honorary #bossdog.
Brad Day – Yosemite National Park
I’m missing Yosemite and its waterfalls. I was there on assignment for Weekend Sherpa exactly a year ago. The warm spring sun melting the snowpack produced some seriously raging waterfalls. A few of us from Weekend Sherpa got up really early and started the very popular Mist Trail. Because we got such an early start, we were the only ones at the top of Vernal Fall. I’m not sure how often that happens! I can’t wait to get back to the Sierra Nevada, be it Yosemite, Tahoe, or the Eastern Sierra. That first smell of fresh mountain air will be very, very rewarding.
Instagram: @weekendsherpa. Trivia: Brad’s a self-taught photographer, videographer, and drone pilot (though he did once fly a drone into the top of a neighbor’s redwood tree while testing it before an assignment, and had to hire a tree-climber to rescue it. Yep, there are actual tree climbers who can save your drone … fyi).