Every Friday, we’re featuring badass women who are doing whatever it takes to see the world!
This week, we caught up with instagrammer Morgan Martinez from California, a backcountry babe with a love for steep inclines, good beer, tall mountains and her pooch Aspen. Even with her 9-5 job and busy weekday routine, she’s become a master weekend warrior! She’s sharing tips, tricks and story for aspiring travelers on how to #WanderRight into adventure.
What inspires you to travel?
As odd as it sounds, I love feeling insignificant. It’s easy to get wrapped up in every day human problems, but it’s even easier to forget about those problems when you’re standing in front of a massive waterfall or mountain that dwarfs you in size. Plus, the older I get, the more I realize how little I’ve explored my own backyard. California has so much diversity to it and, living here my entire life, I’ve really only just started scraping the surface of it.
Tell us about your most memorable trip/travel adventure
A few months ago, my boyfriend and I took a mini camping/hiking trip up to Mount Shasta, CA. I had driven by the mountain multiple times in my life when traveling north, but I had never had the chance to explore the area. In three days, we were somehow able to hit seven trails, four waterfalls, one cave, AND check out a local brewery. We were so exhausted every night upon arriving back to our campsite, but we were just as eager to get up early the next morning and head out right away. Every waterfall we saw was so different than what I had seen before and I kept having to remind myself that I was still in California. This was also my dog’s first camping trip and I loved seeing her so happy to be in the outdoors and exploring with us. I’ll never forget her prancing on the dirt trails and tossing sticks at the campsite.
“The best view comes after the hardest climb” I can apply this to so many things. My career, my relationships, my life goals. Nothing that’s worth it ever comes easy.
What’s the one thing you never leave home without?
With the exception of work, I typically take my dog Aspen everywhere with me. She’s a great traveler and loves car rides, not to mention she’s a big “people person”. I meet so many people everywhere I go because Aspen doesn’t have it in her to walk past someone without saying hello.
How do you make time for travel?
I work Monday through Friday, so I like to keep the weekends open for adventure. I can usually free up my weekends by doing stuff around the house, running errands, and any other obligations during the weekdays after work. By the time the weekend hits, I’m itching to get outside.
Do you have any travel goals for this year? What are they?
Yes, many! My big one is a road trip that I’ll be taking in September where I’ll be exploring Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. The main hiking spots I’ll be hitting are in Joshua Tree National Park, the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and the Valley of Fire State Park. I’ve seen pictures of these places all my life and have dreamed of what they would look like in person for so long. Other hiking trips I have planned this year include Big Pine Lakes and the Mammoth area in the Eastern Sierras, Lassen National Park, and the redwood forests up in Northern California.
My favorite trail I’ve ever done is the Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado. This trail has an elevation gain of 2,000 feet over the course of one mile, which is made up of old railroad ties that total 2,744 steps. Keep in mind, you’re starting the trail at about 7,000 feet, so the altitude hits you hard. Plus it’s slightly intimidating when you have this massive stairway of a trail towering in front of you as you begin your ascent. Never have I struggled so much on a single mile, but I loved every minute of it. Just imagine the moment when you reach the top of the incline looking out over the mountain you just dominated seeing the tiny specks of people at the bottom. This is how I define accomplishment.
Have you ever had any close calls in the backcountry?
Fortunately, I haven’t. The worst thing I’ve experienced in the outdoors was my dog having an allergic reaction to a bee sting, but luckily I keep Benadryl in the doggie first-aid kit I carry with me. Like I mentioned before, being prepared is key and I believe practicing these safety tips has prevented me from having any close calls in the backcountry. I’m also required to be First-Aid and CPR certified for my job, so I can hopefully help if I came across someone in need.
Favorite urban adventure? (favorite brewery?)
Typically, I like to find a good beer when I’m traveling locally. A few months ago, I was over in Davenport, CA at the Shark Fin Beach Cove and I was in desperate need of a beer. I came across this pour house called Beer Thirty in Santa Cruz and was overwhelmed by how dog friendly they were. They had a designated area with picnic tables where you could enjoy your beer and let your dog off leash. Needless to say, my pup was exhausted after that. It always makes my heart happy to see places that are so welcoming of dogs and go above and beyond to make them comfortable. And they had REALLY good beer, which is just as important.
Do you have any advice for any women traveling solo?
I’m a huge advocate for solo adventure because you don’t have to entertain anyone and can focus on taking in the scenery. However, there are dangers to be conscious of. For traveling solo, do some research to become familiar with the area before you go. I traveled to Big Sur by myself last fall for the first time and I had read before going that there wasn’t much cell service or gas stations in the area. Because of that, I checked in with someone before and after going through the dead zone and made sure I had maps printed ahead of time, since I couldn’t use the GPS on my phone. For hiking solo, tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be hiking. Never start a hike within a few hours of sunset and always have enough food and water to get you through a night. I always bring pepper spray and a small knife with me and I look at the trail map ahead of time to make sure I know where to go. Basically, be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for the worst case scenarios. You can still enjoy yourself and be safe at the same time.
Be sure to follow Morgan on her Instagram @morgan_martinez to keep up with her journey!
#WanderRight into Adventure