10,000 Steps to Denali, Temescal Hike, and National Outdoors Day!

It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Los Angeles Leader. This Saturday June 8th we had a Temescal Canyon Hike planned in the Santa Monica Mountains to support the first African American group to hike Denali. So our hike was in support of the 10,000 steps to Denali trek. Our hike also coincided with National Outdoors Day.
We started our day at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook where there were activities planned for the kids. They had camping gear set up to show how to set up a camp.
Along with camping gear lessons they also allowed children (and big kids like myself) to create buttons and bookmarks to show their support of 10,000 steps to Denali.
From BHSO, we met up with another group of teens from Watts and Compton inner city program who have had little exposure to the outdoors. We were paired with them through the Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory to encourage them to get outdoors more. Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory provided a bus and an amazing guide Anthony to take us on our hike and explore the canyon.
We got to Temescal and had a quick snack on the lawn, took a photo with both groups and paired off into two different groups to meet at the waterfall. There were so many of us we didn’t want to overwhelm the trail.
On our way up we saw caterpillars, lizards, a garden snake and a red-tailed hawk. In true LA fashion we also saw a film crew filming a movie, haha. When we reached the top we sat for a bit and let the kids play around the waterfall which was dry. Anthony explained we’re in a dry season. We had to watch out for poison oak. Quick tip: if its three let it be. If you see leaves in clusters of three leave them alone.
Many thanks to Kleen Kanteen and REI for keeping us hydrated. Thank you REI for keeping me warm and to Keen shoes for making my hike comfy. I also want to acknowledge Clif Bars for snack bars for the kiddos. We had an amazing time. Looking forward to many more collaborations with Santa Monica Conservatory, your rangers are amazing and knowledgeable. Thank you Anthony and Iann the volunteer.
Oh yes on our way down the canyon we came to a beautiful open field and my sister and the kids decided to jump and play.

Full Moon Hike

By Los Angeles Outdoor Afro Leader, Alisha Pye
Watching the full moon rise into the sky is a beautiful sight. Hiking in nature while watching the full moon rise and the sun set is exceptional. It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Leader of Los Angeles. I was invited by the Santa Monica Mountains Park Rangers to attend the full moon hike.
We went to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook for a guided Full Moon Hike. We were lucky that the moon rose at 7:43pm and the sun was setting at 7:54pm. So as the sun set we were able to enjoy the full moon at its brightest. We almost didn’t need flashlights it was so bright.
We were able to go into the theater prior to the hike to learn a few facts and about indigenous plants, animals. The guides were very informative even teaching us how to identify animals through their eye shine color. The kids in the group were fascinated.
It did get chilly, so of course layers were necessary. We decided to snuggle to keep warm. We hiked a little over a mile and then decided to take the stairs back up to the top. We had a blast.
We’re going to try to go back every full moon for the summer. Just look at the view from the top, overlooking the city at nightfall. Spectacular views…

It’s Summertime: Where are the Children?

Each 1970’s and early 80’s summer in Oakland, California meant freedom. Summer meant my friends and I left our houses as early as we could, and dreaded the sight of flickering street lamps in the evening. We sometimes spent an entire day riding our bikes to the nearest convenience store 5 miles away, or roaming the neighborhood by roller skate or “tennis” shoe.
We had little knowledge or regard for the true meaning of property lines or value. Undeveloped spaces (like our infamous Dead End of the block) were claimed exclusively for our play, and divided based on gender or age. The Dead End’s low, knotted Oak trees provided the site for ongoing construction, as we used pilfered wood and nails from our garages to create hidden perches. It was our secret haven. And a house in our neighborhood was appraised by us kids on the basis of how steep of a smooth driveway it had to facilitate the fastest bike decent onto the sidewalk. And there were rumors of haunted houses we dared each other to peek into.

Except for the exceptionally shy of us we thought our parents were social bores, and thankfully, they omitted themselves from our play and never hauled us to distant playgrounds to make fast friendships with strange kids. We neighborhood kiddos sometimes got along famously; other times we did not. Feelings got hurt but were quickly repaired. Sometimes our fuss would come to blows, but almost as soon as the melee was over we forgot about the disagreement and became friends again, and the friendship cycle would resume the next day. The kids from my neighborhood reminisce on these memories to this day.

My family now lives in one of the safest communities in the Bay Area, but rarely are children of any age outside at play here in the summer without the watchful eyes and hovering presence of self-aware parents. They dutifully dole out a pre-set limit of Popsicles per child– so no chasing down the ice cream man for these tender tykes!

Today, allowing a child to go outside to play in front of one’s home can raise eyebrows of neighboring parents and authorities as a signal of parental neglect. But under such close supervision in the name of safety from the 6 o’clock news boogie man, our kids are more likely to play behind closed doors in front of a computer game, even on warm summer days — and they are getting chubbier for it. Even more, kids both rich and poor are increasingly enrolled in tidy, structured day activities that even if set outdoors, constantly monitor and entertain to make sure everyone plays nice, safe, and learns something about a selected theme.

While I certainly want my kids to learn cool stuff and be OK, I also want them to develop skills to cope with life when life ain’t so organized. And I am concerned about how well some kids (especially my own) will be prepared as adults to cope with life’s unplanned consequences with only conceptual tools. Will a lack of independent, self guided play affect my kid’s ability to be imaginative, resolve conflict, or take personal responsibility for herself when she grows up?

I understand that the idea of children playing independently for hours, while claiming wild or urban spaces, might be a nail-biter for some — or perceived as an excuse to lazy parent for others. But I think it is an idea worth revisiting that might revive some critical ways kids can mature and be healthy in the summer through play.

There are about three more weeks before this summer vacation is over — prime time for kids to get out and play.

Why not let them?

Photo Courtesy of:


Young Woman Relaxing Outdoors --- Image by © Sandra Seckinger/zefa/Corbis

5 Easy Outdoor Stress Relievers

Life is sometimes stressful. And taking time out for yourself to rejuvenate is sometims not easy. If you’re like me, responsible for the care of loved ones (I have three such loved ones), or have an intense work schedule, the notion of taking a rejuvenating break can seem as likely as finding a $100 bill on a Manhattan sidewalk. But getting a break is a lot more likely and easier than you think!
There is solace in simple activities done right outside your front door. While you may be limited by where you live, or what is accessible or safe, I’m certain there is at least one thing out of the following list of 5 Easy Outdoor Stress Relievers for everyone.

1. Go for a 10 minute stroll around your neighborhood and say hello to everyone you see
2. Stargaze while holding hands with someone you love
3. Add or care for a plant on your balcony, window box, or in your yard
4. Have a breakfast picnic at home; take the prepared meal outside and eat on a blanket; perhaps invite a neighbor or friend to join you
5. Get outside with the kids to play games like Duck/Duck/Goose, Red light/Green light or teach them games and songs from your childhood — for more fun, play these games with other adults!

What are some simple ways you relax in the outdoors?
Photo courtesy of Sandra Seckinger