Musings: Full Moon Hike #OptOutside

Freezing bliss for a moonlit hike adventure.

Are you a fan of co-ops? I am. Have been since I’ve worked at one and regularly shop at one. It made sends to become one with REI too. I didn’t even realize they were a co-op until more recently. And, you only have to pay $20 to be a member AND they give you a $20 gift card in return…you just have to wait one day to use it. It’s a win-win for everyone.

All that being said, I’ve always swooned over thier #OptOutside campaing during Black Friday. But it seems as if they have extended past just that day and it is now their go-to hashtag and motto. Which, I love even more.

As a newly paid co-op member, I’ve been reciving their emails extremly frequently. I’d been perusing their classes list with each new email. I tried to get the girls to do a different hike with me, but no one could. So, I told myself the next one offered I’d do it, solo even. Out came the next email and of course it had another evening hike. This time it was the Moonlit Hike around the Olmstead Loop Trail in Auburn, Ca. It also landed on MLK day, which I surprisingly had off from work.

As a co-op member, you receive a discounted fee for these outings/classes. Extra bonus! I believe I paid $35 for this hike. I wasn’t really sure if I felt this cost was relevant to the activity, but I’d soon find out. So, it’s also officially called the Outdoor School Team and you can find the Events on the REI website.

REI is very seasoned at running these classes. Everything is extremely organized from sign-up to the post-event follow-up. Once you sign up you receive the obligatory confirmation and receipt, but then you get an awesome email with all of the details: course details, additional info, venue notes, parking information, directions, link to the potential weather forecast, required gear list, contact information, and upcoming courses for good measure. Again, anything and everything one could think of while preparing for their class! This Type A gal was really appreciative of all of this. And of course, three days before class you receive a reminder email. There is a cancellation policy if necessary, but I didn’t even look at it.

I packed my trusty DaKine mini backback, but I removed the bladder. I think it needs to be replaced, so I didn’t want to bring it with me. Instead I threw in a large water bottle, kleenex, chews, and a plethora of snacks. I found my Kinvara trail running shoes, which should not be confused with hiking shoes (re: they get wet, really wet and soaked). I also made sure to bring cash for parking.

Does anyone have the Golden Poppy Annual Pass? Part of me wants to support the State Parks and purchase it, but I don’t have any other hikes scheduled for the year. But it seems like it would be a good purchase if I was going to make good use of it. I didn’t, but I defintely looked into it.

Lot and I actually caught a movie right before I had to meet Hollywood to leave for our adventure. Since it was a holiday for most, we weren’t sure how much traffic we should anticipate. Luckily, there wasn’t too much and we made it with a few minutes to spare. As we drove the twisty roads to the meet-up location, the sun was setting and the temperature was lowering with each mile we drove.

We arrived at the trailhead entrace, behind the Cool fire station. I knew exactly where it was, becuase I’ve ran a few trail races out here. In the exact same spot. We stopped at theparking pass post and filled out our parking permit for the evening. Then we drove in to park and meet the rest of the group.

Our instruction, (ugh) I cannot remember her name, was really nice, down to earth, and well versed in the outdoors. She used to do rescues in the wilderness or something like that. I felt extremely comfortable with her guiding us. Plus, she also mentioned she had been checking out the terrain for hours, which was another good sign about her expertise level.

REI, again, came prepared with everything we’d need. They had walking sticks, head lamps, and gators for each of us to use, if we wanted too. By this time, it was getting colder and I was extremely grateful for the gloves and scarf I brought. The thermal lulu’s also helped keep my legs somewhat warm.

The sun was setting and it made for a pretty backdrop. When most of the group was there, we gathered in a large circle and the instructor went over all the details. She explained how to set our walking sticks and more importantly, she asked how we wanted to go about our hike tonight. Becuase of all of the previous rain, many of the trails had tons of water (re: mini creeks) and it would get really wet out there. So she asked us to do a poll with our eyes closed, determining if we did mostly the paved road or off-road hiking. I honestly didn’t mind, but it turned out most people wanted to do the paved road. My shoes and toes were grateful.

Right as we were about to head out a Mom and Daughter duo arrived. Lets just say they didn’t look like ‘hiking’ type and would be the ones who would show up extremely late and delay everyone. I know this is judgemental, but it was true. They were the two who had music blaring on an phone as we hiked. They were THOSE people.

The instructor got them settled and then we were off. The moon hadn’t quite risen at this point, but it was extremely dark. I’m not sure when it happend, but all of a sudden the sky was lit by the full moon. It was beatufiul and illuminating. It literally lit the path for us, until we deviated off the paved road and more into the wilderness.

The group decicded we could do a little exploring and we went off road, getting muddy and wet like champs. The instructor taught us to take in our surroundings. Every time you make a turn, it is important to stop and do a 360 to see your surroundings, in the event you get lost. After we made our way down a semi-steep trail we ended with a beautifully hidden view of the moon. It was here we turned around and headed back.

Hollywood and I were trying to snag pics of how beautiful the moon looked that night, but iPhones do it no justice. I almost brought my camera with me, but didn’t want to lug it around and possibly drop it in mud/water while hiking. So, no great image of the sky, but our expereince was worth more than any picture I could share.

It was so refershing to stare at the stars and be immersed in darkness lit by the full moon. It was cold, but I was in such a blissful state I amost didn’t notice it. I did notice it when a little bit of water soaked through my shoe and sock, but then it dried and I was okay.

It was so cold, I forgot to drink water — which I paid for the next day and actually didn’t feel good at all 🙁 Oh well, I’d do it all again to feel that openness of the world around me only lit by the moon and nature.

We made our way back to the cars and the instructor had hot cocoa for everyone. She also asked everyone to fill out a survey too, while she handed out coupons. They were expired and everyone was so worried about it, but she told them the store would accept it. HAHA. So random!

I’m so grateful I decided to do this. I’m also grateful Hollywood was able to join me for this experience too. Although it was freezing, I wouldn’t really change anything about my experience. If anything, I hope this inspires you to get outside OR try something new, or BOTH!

Evening adventuring is better than I ever imagined.

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