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Ladies, Beware of Love Bombing

Note: This entry is based on my observations from and conversations with people close to me who have been through this so-called “love bombing.” And the reason why I say “ladies” is because I’ve only had the chance to see the experience of females on the receiving end.

A more important note: I am not a psychologist, so please remember this is an anecdote; not an antidote. 

To love is to be vulnerable; that is why, it can be difficult to love again once you’ve gone through heartbreak. However, along the way, you may encounter someone who will sweep you off your feet, who will not hesitate to say “I love you” after a few meetings, who will do anything for you because you are the world to him, and who will make you feel like you have just met your soulmate. Of course, being the recipient of these actions can be intoxicating. Who doesn’t want to be swept off her feet and be treated like a queen?

But, beware. What seems to be everlasting love that is moving too quickly is, in fact, a sign for you to step back to try to see the situation on a different angle. The thing is, it is easy to get mesmerized and to not want to get out of the receiving end because things are going great– amazing, even. So, why get out of it when things are falling into place?

True love, commitment and trust take time to build; and when we say “time,” it is at a pace that should feel comfortable for both parties. However, when you are faced with a love bomber, things move too quickly and, at the same time, feels right. You may not feel quite ready yet to love, commit, and trust the person completely, but it feels right, so you go along with the pace.

First Stage: Love Bombing

Love bombing is the first stage to a narcissist’s* love affair (*Narcissists are often depicted as powerful, clever, polished, and persuasive. However, that is not always the case. Given that our society too often, unwillingly, praises narcissistic behavior, it should not come as a surprise why many people are brought up or learn to be narcissistic in their own way. Since the definition allows for a wide range of modalities and personalities, many “narcissists” are not even aware that they are one. For the purposes of treatment, psychologists give two broad categories: grandiose and vulnerable narcissists.).

Love bombing may last from a few months to a few years, and at this stage, the couple’s infatuation for each other is at an all-time high. The honeymoon stage is over-the-top, and the recipient is showered with letters, gifts, and words with declarations of love plastered all over the place. Being on the receiving end, at times you feel like you don’t deserve this person in your life. It feels too good to be true.

The giver is usually not aware of his love bombing actions as his intentions for showing love and devotion are sincere and true. At this point, he is so deeply in love that it is easy to put you, the partner, on a pedestal. Although you have flaws, to him, these are not flaws at all. There is a strong belief in him that you will eventually change for the better.

Second Stage: Devaluing

But like any human being in the world, he realizes that you are made out of clay. You are not perfect. His idealized version of you is now starting to erode. At this stage, his questioning towards you begins. It may take a few months to a few years. He will start to demand more time from you, complain about how much time you spend with your family and friends, and complain about your salary, beliefs, decisions, and interests.

It is easy to overlook this stage when you are in a long-distance relationship or when you are not living in with your partner, as both situations get to avoid a lot of complications. You can also overlook it when you party or travel a lot with your partner, as both tend to shield you out from the realities of life.

If you haven’t left the relationship at this point, then you will most likely experience the final stage.

Third Stage: Discarding

When a narcissist is through with you, he will easily discard you like yesterday’s newspaper. It will not matter how long you’ve been together, or even if there is a child or children in the picture. Usually, moving towards the next step of your relationship increases commitment and trust; however, for narcissists, as the relationship becomes more real, they become disappointed and back off.

When he leaves or cheats, it will be your fault. All his complaints about you during the Devaluing Stage will be brought up. He will tell you that you did not reciprocate his love enough during the Love Bombing Stage. You will be blamed for your relationship’s demise. He will say he gave you everything, yet you did not take care of “him” enough, did not appreciate “him” enough, or love “him” enough. Notice “him” being at the center of all this?

During the Discarding Stage, what is stunningly clear is his utter lack of empathy. With a certain degree of callousness, you will be treated like a nobody despite all the love, commitment, trust, and investments that you’ve put together for the relationship. He will not even say sorry for cheating on or leaving you, because, to him, everything is justified. Do not even think about arguing with him because it will get you nowhere. And if that is not enough, he will make you the “crazy ex.” Other times, though, he will look back at your relationship with nostalgia because he’s a romantic, after all.

Almost always, a narcissist will replace you with a “caretaker” or a “damsel in distress,” whichever will fulfill his need. A caretaker will be there for him when things get messy and when he’s at his most vulnerable, and a damsel in distress will fulfill his need to protect and be a man in the relationship. Being with a caretaker will force him to empower himself; while being with a damsel in distress won’t take much from him because she will usually be easy to please. As you can already tell, at this point, the latter will perfectly feed into his already inflated sense of self.

Stay or Run? 

I believe that these people are wounded, too. I’ve read from Reviving Ophelia that people with narcissistic behaviors towards relationships often experience a childhood where parents are controlling and emotionally detached. They are not given room to express themselves, and therefore are not well-aware of how to process their actions, impulses, and feelings. Parents, though, are only doing what they think is best so we can’t blame them entirely. We all grow up after all, and we can change our lives.

To me, the only way a person can break free from any destructive cycle is for him/her to know for himself/herself that the issue is real and he/she needs to change. If there is no sense of acknowledgement from within, then the cycle will just go on and on. From what I’ve seen from people close to me who have been with narcissistic partners, being with one can be physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially draining… And, in the end, you will be left anyway.

According to one psychologist, a narcissist’s “love life is one romantic courtship repeated over and over again… They are in love with the idea of love and not you.”

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Thich Nhat Hanh sure knows human nature and its misgivings quite well.

So, if you find yourself in this situation and you are the only one left holding on, do yourself a favor: Run… as fast as you can… and never look back.

***

Additional Sources:
Breaking Up with a Narcissist
Four Stages of a Relationship with a Narcissist
How to Tell if a Narcissist Loves You
The Narcissistic Love Script

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India

I’ve always dreamt of visiting India which is, to me, a rather magical place. The fascination that I’ve always had with Sanskrit literature, the history of the Indus Valley civilization, India’s cultural and linguistic influence throughout Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Indian cuisine, clothing, and music, and, of course, one of the country’s most famous exports to the world, Gautama Buddha, came to the fore as R and I decided to visit this country two years ago.

India evokes adjectives and feelings like no other. It’s such a huge country and with only three weeks here, we decided to only spend time in Jaipur, the largest city in the state of Rajasthan. All in all, it was an incredible experience to visit this city although, I wouldn’t recommend traveling here with an infant with reasons as you’ll see below. Please keep in mind that I’m only covering Jaipur, so know that these tips are not reflective of the entire country.

Some Tips on Visiting India (with a focus on Jaipur):

  • Philippine citizens need to apply for a visa which can be done entirely online. It’s pretty straightforward and you need to apply at least five days before your travel date. When I did mine two years ago, it costed me 80 USD for a three-week stay. Here is the official website on where you can lodge your application: eVisa India.
  • Accommodation here is pretty affordable and there’s a good range of hostels, hotels, and guesthouses that you can choose from. We stayed at Haveli Kalwara, situated right at the heart of Indira bazaar (Note: Jaipur City is historically an area where traveling merchants did business. So, the entire city center is lined up with different bazaars, with each bazaar area offering a different product. Most sellers have their stores passed down from three generations up.). It was a unique experience to be staying in the middle of the market. We woke up so early to the sound of beeping cars and motorcycles, and only got to sleep when the city started to sleep. The outside walls seemed so chaotic, and the guesthouse provided an oasis for us!
  • A trip to India will never be complete without sampling its amazing cuisine. We ate out every day for lunch, and since the portions were huge, we almost always took out our leftovers for dinner. Although we ate quite a lot, we actually lost a lot of weight on our three-week stay here (I lost 10 pounds) because of the heat and because we walked a lot. Rajasthani cuisine is largely vegetarian. In fact, it is the state with the most number of vegetarians in India (and Jaipur’s McDonald’s is no exception)! We sampled a different restaurant every day, and we also revisited our favorites.
    • We highly recommend the following: Copper Chimney, Handi Restaurant, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar, Natraj Restaurant, Niros Restaurant, and Surya Mahal (for North Indian cuisine); Dasaprakash (for South Indian cuisine and the best ice cream in town); Baradari Restaurant and Bar (a bit pricey but a nice splurge, with great food and a nice ambience. We went here for our monthsary.); and, Midtown Restaurant and Peacock Rooftop Restaurant (for your multi-cuisine cravings).
Rajasthani Thali

The Rajasthani Thali… Yep, that’s good for one.

  • We thoroughly enjoyed touring Jaipur City with Yo! Tours, a youth-led startup offering free walking tours around India. We spent around two hours doing the tour and it was so worth it. The company depends on tips to keep the services going, so don’t hesitate to give a big tip if you’ve enjoyed the tour!
  • Apart from the city, we also visited Amber Fort, around 30-45 minutes by rickshaw from Jaipur. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known to be around for almost 500 years now. I suggest spending an entire day here because there’s just so much to see. Instead of getting a tour guide, we instead downloaded the CaptivaTour app which offers free and paid walking heritage tours in Agra, New Delhi, and Jaipur. It’s available on Apple Store and Google Play.
  • We are not big fans of souvenirs, but if there are two items that you should definitely bring home from Jaipur, it would be a custom-fit Indian dress and block-printed sheets. We went to Raju Om Sai Textiles where we had our full silk dress customized at a quarter of the price compared to the Philippines! We also bought two block-printed mandala sheets. Here is Raj (the owner)’s WhatsApp contact number should you be interested: +91-99280-86129.
  • It can appear daunting, but walking around the city is, to me, the best way to see the city IF you are not traveling with kids. If you do, the best way would be to hire a rickshaw, whether manual or motor-run. You will encounter a lot of sights on the way: stray monkeys, dogs, cats, cows, overflowing trash bins, the practice of over-beeping and not giving way to pedestrians, and people defecating behind trees (which may appear “weird” when done in the city, but is actually common practice in rural India). These may be a lot to take in for a traveling family with kids, so it’s better to guard each other against physical, mental, and emotional stresses. What’s a few rupees to add for your transportation if it’s going to help you get through your travel?
  • Why I want to go back: We only got to visit Rajasthan on our three-week stay. 29 more states to see, with each uniquely its own!
  • As with any country in the world: Do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | take good care of your valuables | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in the local language, culture, and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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My Pregnancy Journey

At exactly 6:40 AM every single day I wake up to the baby’s kicks. Throughout the day, I could feel him/her rolling around, switching between feeling happy, sad, peaceful, and as tired as me. I never thought that these little movements can mean so much: how these can make me feel so thankful for this gift of life, and how these can make me feel so humbled to be chosen as the carrier of this specific soul. It is such an amazing experience and I never thought that I could love this half-of-me so much– and I haven’t even held him/her just yet!

I am now on my 26th week and fatigue is, for the first time, taking over my day. I have been quite robust since the start of my pregnancy, saved from extreme morning sickness, mood swings, and cravings. Tuesday last week has actually been the very first time that I had extreme morning sickness and felt so sick that I threw up in our garden as I was preparing to leave home. To my surprise, my oldest dog, Kitty, hurriedly shuffled her way beside me and gazed at me all the while that I was throwing up. She was just staring at me all that time, and I felt her kindness and compassion, so pure and true, piercing through me– and all that, uttered without even a single word.

At that point, I felt all the more in love with Kitty. I had her when I was 18 as a birthday present from my Tito J. and Tita S., having just lost my dog just then. She’s been a witness to my ups and downs, and 11 years on, she is still here with me, supporting and loving me without question. I am really happy that she will also be a witness to seeing my mini me!

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Photo credit: tuanawebtasarim.com

I choose to keep the baby’s gender a surprise until my delivery, which I think is a nice way to welcome my first born! It can be quite difficult to contain the excitement given that the radiologist herself finds it hard to keep it a secret. But it is a promise she kept and will keep until late June, my expected date.

One thing that I’ve learned so far that stuck ever since I had this baby is the importance of a disciplined mind, and disciplined action. Knowing that another soul is dependent on me makes me want to focus on what’s important, address my thoughts as just thoughts, address my opinions as just opinions, understand my feelings as just feelings, and recognize chaos as just a play on my wisdom. I know that this baby is growing calmer because of these learnings as I am, too.

I’m thankful that the Universe has finally allowed me to go on this path set for me at its right time. Pregnancy is such a humbling experience, and I thank all the mothers, especially my own mother, for all the love and teachings passed on through generations across time and space. I’ve read somewhere that worldwide, four babies are born every second. While every mother’s experience is different, I wish that every mother’s journey  in every part of the world becomes a unifying factor to lift every woman up; not tear each other down.

Good night from me and my little Anthroonfoot 🙂

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Out for One Year!

I kept this blog on private since April 2018 since I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to update it as often as I want to, given that 2018 presented itself a whole new set of challenges for the almost-30 me. Also, the past few months gave me time to reflect as to why I should keep this blog since there are times where I question its existence and why I would want to devote time and energy into publishing publicly.

Years 2017-2018 are crucial points for me and R, given that it was during these years that we started to get serious with where we want to be in our relationship. We didn’t get to travel much and go out as much because we needed to save for our condo repayments, furniture, appliances, and future children (already one on the way now!!!). These years proved to be a transition period for us to go from boyfriend-girlfriend to building a family together. Work is part of the reason why I put this blog on hold for 2018; at the same time, I wanted to focus my energy on things that needed more of my attention during this time.

RR Condo-min

A milestone for 2018: completing all furnishings of our first home for Baby R.

But after almost one year, I missed Anthroonfoot. I realized that apart from work, what also made things less exciting about this site was the fact that after seven years of blogging, I started to want to monetize from it. Instead of just focusing on journaling, I started to consider other factors like using SEO-friendly keywords and format, and networking so people would start to take notice of my blog. If I wanted my blog to become more popular, I was told that I should focus on writing based on what the audience would want to read; not on what I want to convey. It makes sense, given that “hot” topics are that– hot– until the steam goes off, so it is crucial to keep a topic calendar where I will write based on topics that are hot while they are hot. I was told that I should start steering away from my long narratives with details that will bore any reader. That I should start making lists and keeping my sentences short so people will keep on coming back.

But is that what I really want to happen with my blog?

I already know the answer to that question as I was writing the question. When I started blogging when I was in university, I kept my online journal on Multiply. That was 2011, and I only published four entries for that year. But looking back, do I feel bad about it? An absolute no, because I knew that those four times meant a lot to me, and I knew that there was nothing else that I wanted to share comfortably publicly.

Although I don’t get to monetize from this blog where I can definitely say I can leave my day job behind to keep this going, I get perks from it, too, which I took for granted when I chose to keep it private last year. I get discounts on hotel stays, I became a property scout on Booking.com, and I became a travel ambassador for Visit.org! More than any of these perks, I get to share my love for travel and living (big word) through this blog! Looking back at it now, I’ve appreciated all the more the value of this blog, how great of an outlet it is for an introvert like me to share bits and pieces of my life. Sharing helps in honing my skills in putting into words what I want to convey, for many times I am at a loss at what I want to say since I rarely ever speak up unless there’s a real need to.

I’m glad to be back, and now with a little one in tow. It’s amazing to think that I started blogging when I was still in university, and now, I’m still doing it with a little me to join the journey. Life is indeed full of surprises, and I’m always thankful for all the experiences this life has to offer. To me, every surprise is always for the best, after all.

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A Walk Through History With the Ilocos Empanada

When visiting the Ilocos region, 500 kilometers north of Manila, the Philippines’ capital, you cannot help but notice these large hand-held orange pastries being sold along the streets of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. This “pastry” is called Ilocos empanada, one of the region’s most popular snacks, and one of the many icons from which the region has long been known.

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Empanadas from Ilocos Norte with their signature orange rice flour base

You will also quickly notice that there is a slight difference between the empanadas sold in Ilocos Sur (south) and Ilocos Norte (north). The reason for this may be the availability of resources in both districts. Ilocos Norte has a sizeable source for the achuete (atsuete/ annatto), extracted from the seed of the achiote tree (scientific name: Bixa orellana). Ilocos Sur, however, does not have much access to this natural resource.

Reflecting the colonial past

The Ilocos empanada reflects history itself, since it is inspired by the Spanish empanada. Empanada is a typical snack that originated from Spain and its former Latin American colonies. An empanada is made with wheat flour and stuffed with meat, carrots, corn, cheese, and/or peppers. There’s a lot of variation with the stuffings, depending on the ingredients available in the area.

Taking the empanada as Ilocos’ own

As is often the case with any cultural exchange, the Spanish empanada has been modified to fit the local area’s culture and traditions. Since rice, longanisa (ground pork and molded into sausage links), papaya, mung beans, and eggs are abundant in Ilocos, these ingredients are used for the local empanada. And since baking is not a traditional way of cooking in Ilocos, the empanadas are deep-fried rather than baked.

Making the Ilocos empanada is both an art and science, with many attesting to how difficult it is to make. It is such a sight to behold to see the Ilocos empanada artisans creating each empanada by hand, and producing every piece into precision.

The Ilocos empanada is indeed a jewel of the region. The making of an empanada is a craft on its own that must be passed from generation to generation to stay alive. When visiting Ilocos, be sure to give the empanada a try. And don’t forget to say “Dios ti agngina” (“Thank you” in the Ilokano language) to the manang (a respectful Ilokano way of addressing an old lady), manong (a respectful Ilokano way of addressing an old man), or ading (a respectful Ilokano way of addressing someone of the same age bracket) who made the empanada for you.

Where to try the Ilocos empanada 

The best places to try the Ilocos empanada are in Dap-ayan in Laoag, Ilocos Norte; Food Hall along Batac River, Ilocos Norte; and the Heritage District in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Dap-ayan is open 24 hours, 7 days a week; while for Batac and Vigan, it’s open every day up to 10 PM, depending on the stall.

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Visiting Pamulaklakin Forest Trail in Subic

R and I decided to go for a nature trip on our fourth anniversary, and with some help from our friend Google, we ended up giving the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail a try.

What is the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail?

Named after the Pamulaklakin vine that grows in abundance in the area, the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail is one of the many routes that have been used for training by the US Army during the American Colonial Period, with the aetas as their teachers. The aetas taught them valuable lessons on how to survive in the jungle, and shared their vast knowledge of flora and fauna in the area. Up until today, the aetas take the lead in protecting the site and are sharing their expertise through tours organized in partnership with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

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This is what you call organic shampoo!

We had a GREAT time doing the two-hour ecology tour, with our guide, Menmen, showing us a glimpse of the richness of the forest.

Here are some tips to help you organize your trip:

Official name: Pamulaklakin Forest Trail

Address:

How to get there: Via private vehicle, navigate towards Pamulaklakin Forest. There’s a large sign at the entrance with the name of the place, so it’s difficult to miss.

Before starting with your trail tour: You need to register at the jump-off point with the guide on duty. There is no mark that says “registration,” but it is pretty straightforward to find since there is just one table in front of the stores with a lady with a notebook.

Fees are as follows (as of March 2018):

  • PHP 100/person (entrance fee for sightseeing or picnic)
  • PHP 100/person (mini-jungle tour: goes for 30 minutes, inclusive of a local guide)
  • PHP 250/person (ecology tour: goes for 2-3 hours, inclusive of a local guide)

Important reminders:

  1. The trail is family and beginner-friendly, so do not worry about boulders and slippery slopes along the trail.
  2. Although there is a rich water source along the trail, it is still best to bring water that you know you are comfortable to drink.
  3. There is a small local store at the jump-off point where you can purchase water, sports drinks, soft drinks, chips, candies, and cookies.
  4. Toilets are not available along the trail. They are only available at the jump-off point.
  5. Please bring a plastic bag for your own trash. It’s unfortunate that many visitors leave their trash along the trails. As any responsible hiker would know, what you bring to the trail, you must also bring with you when you get back.
  6. Please don’t haggle with the local guides’ prices. Many guides have this as their sole source of income. If you’re doing budget travel, save on other areas of your trip, not on the guides’ fees.

Why you must consider a trip to Pamulaklakin Forest: The forest offers the best of all worlds: trails and the fresh stream that offer a sense of comfort, young and old trees that protect you from the heat, and humbling insights on how the aetas utilize and preserve what nature has to offer.

P.S. The keys to sustainable hikes are universal (lifted from The Leave No Trace Behind program):  plan ahead and prepare | travel and camp on durable surfaces | dispose of waste properly | leave what you find | minimize campfire impacts | respect wildlife | be considerate of other visitors | listen to your gut ❤

If you have other questions about this trip, do not hesitate to contact me 🙂

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Hiking Mt. Arayat in Pampanga

A little reflection…

I had the opportunity to hike Mt. Arayat for the first time last January 20, 2018. Since then, I’ve hiked it three more times (January 26, 31, and February 16). My brothers always ask me, “Why do you keep on going back?”

The answer to this question is simple: Because there is always something new to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell every time I visit.

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Wish I had this view for lunch every time.

I haven’t climbed many mountains (landform, not on a personal level, because if we talk about the latter I’ve come across so many of that haha!) in my 28 years of existence, and I’m glad I’ve discovered this connection this year. Before Mt. Arayat, I got to hike for a fair bit, yet because of my outlook back then, I didn’t get to appreciate these trips as I do now.

Interestingly, I find it more difficult to climb mountains these days compared to when I first started doing it in 2012. I still run regularly, but I guess it is gravity and poor nutrition taking over. However, even with this internal challenge, I look forward than ever before on taking these hikes. I guess in life if something clicks at the right time and space, then it will stick, no matter how much you want to push it against the puzzle.

Now, enough of me.

Let’s get down to business on how you can plan your trip! 🙂

Official name of mountain: Mt. Arayat

Address: Barangay Baño, Arayat, Pampanga

How to get there: Via private vehicle, navigate towards Mt. Arayat National Park, then go past the park’s entrance towards “Treetop.”

Before starting with your hike: You need to register at the jump-off point with the guides on duty.

Fees are as follows (as of March 2018):

  • PHP 30/person (environmental fee)
  • PHP 700 for up to 5 people for South Peak (local guide fee)
  • PHP 1,500 for up to 5 people for Pinnacle (local guide fee)
  • PHP 1,750 for up to 5 people for North Peak (local guide fee)

Important reminders:

  1. There is no water source at Mt. Arayat. You have to bring enough water to sustain your entire hike.
  2. It is going to be hot on the first hour of the hike because of Mt. Arayat’s open areas, so wearing a cap or hat, and light long sleeves or arm sleeves is a must.
  3. Toilets are not available along the trail. They are only available at the jump-off point.
  4. There is a small local store at the jump-off point where you can purchase water, Gatorade, chips, and candies.
  5. Please bring a plastic bag for your own trash. It’s unfortunate that many hikers leave their trash along the trails. As any responsible hiker would know, what you bring to the summit, you must also bring with you when you get back.
  6. Please don’t haggle with the local guides’ prices. Many guides have this as their sole source of income. If you’re doing budget travel, save on other areas of your trip, not on the guides’ fees.

Why you must consider a trip to Mt. Arayat: Mt. Arayat, a protected virgin forest, is home to thousands of flora and fauna species. If you are lucky, you will come across monkeys wading on the sides of the trail, or the Philippine Eagle’s majestic songs. What an experience!

P.S. The keys to sustainable hikes are universal (lifted from The Leave No Trace Behind program):  plan ahead and prepare | travel and camp on durable surfaces | dispose of waste properly | leave what you find | minimize campfire impacts | respect wildlife | be considerate of other visitors | listen to your gut ❤

If you have other questions about this trip, do not hesitate to contact me 🙂