Fall is finally upon us. Cool weather is cutting through the haze and humidity of summer. Soon the leaves will change and the infamous New England foliage will draw thousands to the area. Most will drive through the numerous forests, commenting and photographing what little they can on their way to their final destination. The slightly more adventurous, however, will have other plans.
Mount Washington Valley and, more specifically, the White Mountain National Forest is home to more than 1,200 miles of scenic trails. The best way to experience New England in the fall is to hike them. Here are a few that I’d highly recommend!
1 mile – Easy
Lovequist Loop is more of a leisurely stroll than a rigorous hike. The trail “loops” around Falls Pond while offering stunning views of the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. Lovequist is perfect for families with small children, senior citizens, or anyone else in search of an easy way to enjoy all that the White Mountain National Forest has to offer. Access it Kancamagus Scenic Byway.
1.8 miles – Difficult
While the hike itself isn’t particularly long, Winniwetta Falls can be tricky to find. This trail features plenty of forks thanks to its location within the Jackson Cross Country Trail Network, as well as a small stream that you must traverse sans bridge. The falls themselves aren’t located directly off the trail so you’ll need to listen for the rushing water to find them but I assure you the view is worth the trek. Make sure to keep track of your path for the return trip!
Black Cap Mountain
2 miles – Easy
Black Cap Mountain trail is a relatively easy out-and-back hike. It is well-marked and guides you through unforgettable views of the White Mountains and Presidential Range. Wildflowers are plentiful along the trail, as are activities designed to keep hikers of all ages engaged. Feel free to bring your canine friend along for the walk but be sure to keep him on a leash. You can access the Black Cap Mountain trail near North Conway, New Hampshire.
2 miles – Easy
Mountain Pond is a relatively flat trail which makes it ideal for nature-lovers seeking a longer hike without excessive strain. The pond loop sits squarely underneath the Doublehead Mountains so photo opportunities are abundant. I strongly recommend this loop for individuals interested in catching a glimpse of the diverse wildlife calling New Hampshire home. Owls and Loons can often be found near Mountain Pond.
The Imp Face
|4.4 miles (out and back) OR 6.3 miles (loop) – Intermediate
Height enthusiasts and viewfinders alike love The Imp Face, a rocky outcropping located approximately halfway around the loo, as it offers impressive views of the valley below. Adventurers will enjoy the ascending the numerous stairs, crossing Imp Brook, and climbing the wooden ladder required to make it to the cliff face. Much of the trail is uphill so be prepared for a cardio workout on your way to the top. You can access the trail from Route 16.
Mt. Kearsage North
5.7 miles – Difficult
This particular trail is meant for experienced hikers only. It gains over 2,500 feet in elevation and covers more than five (5) miles of mountain terrain. The atmosphere is primarily forested but that won’t stop you from encountering traffic. Mt. Kearsage North is a popular trail for hiking, snowshoeing, and trail running. Expect the heaviest usage between April and October.
This trail is best navigated on dry days, as previous hikers warn of slippery tree roots and rocks in damp or wet weather. You can access the trailhead near Bartlett, New Hampshire.
10 miles – Difficult
Even though it’s the tallest mountain in the Carter-Moriah Mountain range, Carter Dome itself isn’t as alluring as the beautiful 10 mile trail that incorporates several other White Mountain attractions. If you plan ahead, you’ll be able to see better views from the neighboring Mount Height, hike part of the Appalachian Trail, and stop for snacks at Carter Notch. This hike can be long, and is listed as difficult in most trail guides so use caution.
For convenient access to most of the White Mountain National Forest trails, try staying at Topo Pino. They offer a retreat-like atmosphere and are ideally located on scenic property near the National Forest. If you’d really like to experience all the New England foliage has to offer, ask Topo Pino about their Tentrr glamping site!
It’s midsummer which means we are smack dab in the center of peak season for lavender blooms. This beautiful plant, widely grown in the Mediterranean Mountains and regions of Northern Africa, is something to behold when it reaches maturity. It is aromatic by nature and displays aesthetically pleasing purple flowers that seem too lovely to touch. Just the sight of lavender growing in fields full of straight, colorful rows can do wonders for your mood. But the beauty of lavender is nothing compared to the potential health benefits it boasts.
Naturalists and homeopaths everywhere utilize lavender and its oil derivative to combat several common ailments and afflictions. Try using this fragrant flower to soothe any one of the following conditions!
As an Antiseptic
Fighting off germs is a specialty for the lavender plant. As such, it is advantageous when it comes to wound care. In fact, one study compared closure rates in wounds treated by povidone-iodine, saline solution, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and lavender oil. Surprisingly, the lavender oil wounds healed faster than those treated by saline solution and povidone-iodine, and just as fast as those treated by transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
As an Anti-inflammatory
Lavender can be extremely useful in warding off the persistent itching and swelling associated with bug bites. Its anti-inflammatory properties also assist in relieving unpleasant sensations resulting from bee stings and sunburns. As an added bonus, the calming effects of lavender oil can relieve minor pain.
As an Antifungal
Several demonstrations have exhibited the benefits of lavender as an antifungal treatment. Specifically, it excels in combating antifungal-resistant infections. One such study conducted by the Journal of Medical Microbiology suggests that lavender poses a lethal threat to certain strains of fungal cells because it effectively destroys their cell membranes.
If you’ve ever received a professional massage, you know that lavender scent is often placed on pillowcases or in massage oil for soothing purposes. Patients or clients exposed to lavender or lavender oil often report a feeling of relaxation and calmness. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice conducted research showing that this versatile plant positively impacted anxiety levels in patients awaiting a dental procedure, and contributed to lower levels of generalized anxiety after 2 weeks of use.
Although these are the most common health benefits of lavender, it has been suggested (though not yet proven in a medical study) that it may also be beneficial in the treatment of PMS, eczema, nausea, and insomnia.
It is important to note that lavender is toxic to humans when ingested in its oil form, so it’s important to adequately research your application method prior to using it as a wellness supplement.
If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and see Topo Pino’s very first lavender crop this season!
After Airbnb bought Trip4Real in 2016, the travel trend began to shift from sightseeing endeavors to more intimate encounters with local landscapes and cultures. Instead of traveling to enjoy similar home commodities or cuisines in exotic places, travelers began to seek journeys that allowed them to experience life as the locals did and to reflect on their journeys afterward. This change in travel motivation is what spurred the experiential travel trend of 2018: transformational travel.
What is transformational travel?
Transformational travel is any travel experience that promotes personal change through exposure to and engagement with physical or cultural experiences. This type of travel requires a sense of openness and mindfulness that promotes mental, emotional, and/or spiritual reflection. The goal of transformational travel is to leave the experience augmented.
What are the benefits of transformational travel?
For many, transformational travel is a multidimensional experience. While it may begin as a means of disconnecting from stress within travelers’ daily lives, it can renew perspectives of self, others, and the world, leaving travelers with more purpose and passion for life. In addition to fostering the self, transformational travel can also cultivate meaningful relationships with other people and cultures.
What is needed for transformational travel?
Transformational travel requires a significant amount of intention. Travelers have to ask themselves why they are traveling, and what they hope to gain from their time spent traveling. While travelers may find some of the answers along the way, it is valuable to begin with a purpose.
In addition to careful consideration of intention, transformational travel requires an open mind, especially when encountering foreign cultures and experiences. This openness ensures travelers are able to release any inhibitions and allow themselves the opportunity to engage purposefully, which is key for a life-changing experience.
For travel to be transformational, it is important for the travelers to take breaks throughout the trip to reflect on the experiences they have had and the people and cultures they have encountered. Whether this reflection manifests in meditation, prayer, journal keeping, or another art form or mindfulness, it provides travelers the downtime necessary to derive lessons from their experiences. This method allows travelers the opportunity to step away from the trip with a renewed sense of identity, altered perspectives of the world, lessons learned, and cultivated relationships that will carry them further.
Once the trip is over, it is essential travelers make a conscious effort to apply their experiences and lessons to their daily lives. Without this application, travelers risk losing the impact of their trip. Whether travelers apply their experiences and lessons to their own lives or share the fruits of their travels with their family, friends, and communities, this exchange of information proves valuable for contributing to greater growth and transformation.
For many, transformational travel fosters connection and transformation, leaving travelers rejuvenated and with greater senses of purpose.
Interested in exploring more about transformative travel? Consider contacting Caitlin Crowe, co-founder of Topo Pino and official partner of Tentrr, an independent and immersive camping experience.
This blog post originally appeared on Caitlin Crowe's website.
When one thinks of a non-traditional wedding venue, rustic barns and childhood backyards often come to mind. These locations do not necessarily match the dreams or expectations of every newly-engaged couple, though. As we see the number of traditional weddings continue to decrease, unique venue options have emerged and are becoming highly sought after, giving every couple the ability to fully capture their personalities on the big day.
With that in mind, let us explore a few non-traditional wedding venue options for various aesthetic preferences and themes.
If you and your soon-to-be-spouse are plant lovers, consider holding your wedding at a local botanical garden. There is little need to decorate the space, as the luscious plant life provides the perfect backdrop for any themed wedding — from clean and classic to bohemian chic.
Additionally, since botanical gardens are often owned by the city and considered public land, rental costs will be much lower than a traditional venue.
Public and/or historical buildings
Are you and your soon-to-be-spouse history buffs? Saying “I do” symbolizes a new personal historic era. Why not pick a venue steeped in history to tie everything together? Historical venues offer unmatched charm and significance, serving as an ideal backdrop for your wedding. Similar to botanical gardens, such spaces are inexpensive to secure, and often require little decorating due to their ornate architecture.
If you have an affinity for the outdoors, but do not want to host guests on a working farm, consider researching orchards during your venue hunt! Orchards are especially beautiful in the spring when in full blossom and also in early-to-mid-Fall when the trees are full of apples. An orchard venue allows a couple to encompass a rustic and vintage vibe while enjoying the beauty of the surroundings with friends and family.
Retreats and summer camps
If your guests are coming from far and wide to witness your special day, consider hosting them on a private, rented property. You may even be able to house your guests in one space eliminating the need for transportation to and from a venue and hotel.
Additionally, holding your wedding at a retreat or summer camp offers a unique experience to enjoy the great outdoors, explore the surrounding area, and unwind once the festivities have come to a close.
If you are interested in booking a non-traditional wedding venue — specifically, a retreat or summer camp — consider reaching out to Caitlin Crowe, co-founder of the wellness retreat Topo Pino, which recently partnered with Tentrr and Mayflower Venues!
This blog post originally appeared on Caitlin Crowe's website.
In the last five years alone, a number of exhaustive studies and documentaries have been released with the intent of unveiling the darkest secrets of the food industry. Whether this content pertains to how the sausage gets made, how food animals are treated and fed as they are raised, or how such products negatively impact our bodies, attitudes toward certain foods and their somewhat hidden ingredients have rapidly shifted, especially in the United States.
Due to our evolving mindsets, a number of social movements were given the opportunity to break into the mainstream and thrive. The most popular of such movements is, without a doubt, farm-to-table dining.
At its inception, farm-to-table was simply focused on bringing responsibly grown, farm-fresh food to restaurants and school cafeterias, as organic products sold in supermarkets were often expensive or in short supply. Therefore, this movement made healthier meal options more accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and socioeconomic standings.
In 2018, however, it has become evident that we must revisit and refine the mission and purpose of farm-to-table, as it is increasingly influenced by outside industries, such as agricultural technology (agtech), and shifting consumer behaviors and preferences.
With that in mind, let us examine some up-and-coming trends within the farm-to-table movement.
Enhanced imaging technology
Although such devices have been the crux of the agtech industry for quite some time, a number of new imaging technologies have altered certain farming practices, including the utilization of antibiotics and pesticides.
For instance, infrared spectral imaging is now employed to detect major health issues in food animals, potential food handling and safety issues, and better comprehending the needs of various animals and plants. Such information allows farmers to improve living conditions and operations, prevent tainted plant and animal products from being sold to the public and, in turn, enhance the quality of the food that is distributed.
Integration of automation
Along that same vein, more and more agricultural developers are seeking unique solutions to otherwise dire labor costs and shortages. Therefore, automation is being increasingly integrated into the harvesting, weeding, and distribution processes.
However, the efforts from key, biology-based companies like Zeakal, Benson Hill, and Hi-Fidelity Genetics, are focused on improving agricultural processes on a much larger scale. Most notably, each company has recently revealed its own innovative technologies that can drastically alter the growth and distribution of commodity crops — from discovering new genomic approaches to leveraging cost- and capital-efficient development models.
Similar to other social movements, a number of smaller initiatives have stemmed from farm-to-table dining. The most buzzworthy of these is root to stem, which emphasizes the need for improvement of responsibility and workflow within the foodservice industry.
To elaborate, root to stem values the complete — or complete-as-possible — use of every ingredient. This would entail chefs utilizing leftover ingredients for a number of future recipes, or passing them along to other members of the service team like bartenders and mixologists. Regardless of the methodology, this approach ensures food waste is minimized to the fullest extent.
The farm-to-table movement has impacted the food industry from start to finish. Although its widespread adoption has been slow but steady, many experts believe 2018 may be a tipping point of sorts for the movement. While only time will tell, it certainly is refreshing to see more than just the health-conscious and trend-aware eaters supporting farm-to-table dining.
If you wish to learn more about the farm-to-table movement, or even host a destination culinary event, consider requesting such information from Caitlin Crowe, the co-founder of and event planner for Topo Pino!
This blog post originally appeared on Caitlin Crowe's website.
It is no secret that stress levels have skyrocketed in recent years, leaving people of every age and background feeling burnt out and completely devoid of morale. Thankfully, this distressing trend has pressed many of us to seek unique and thoughtful solutions to alleviate our tension and effectively escape our stressors.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, wellness retreats and other excursions that allow us to unplug from technology and escape our daily commitments have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Naturally, variations of such trips have cropped up in the past year or so, but the one that seems to be growing at a rapid pace is, without a doubt, glamping.
A combination of glamour and camping, glamping provides the perfect opportunity to those who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors but do not wish to relinquish the luxury of en suite bathrooms and running water. However, it is important to note that glamping events are much more than a nice tent; they are an all-encompassing experience, formulated with the intention of reducing attendees’ stress levels and improving their overall sense of wellbeing.
With that in mind, let us explore the more granular details of glamping, including its history and the various tiers of experience.
Glamping: a brief overview
Believe it or not, glamping is not necessarily a new concept. Instead, its roots can be traced back to the early 1900s, when wealthy tourists would travel to remote portions of Africa to stay in luxuriously designed tents, which were often decorated with Persian rugs, antique furniture, and double beds. Essentially, these excursions laid the foundation on which modern glamping was built.
A tailored experience
It is imperative to note that you will likely not find the previous luxuries in most of the tents provided on glamping trips. That is, unless you are willing to pay exorbitant fees for a chandelier in your tent.
More often than not, though, attendees prefer to pay for the experience over the various perks that come with higher packages. However, for education’s sake, let us take a quick moment to review the overarching tiers of glamping experiences.
Firstly, we have minimalist glamping, which provides attendees with the amenities and comforts of home without many other frills. Again, such packages put a heavier emphasis on the experience over all else.
Secondly, we have semi-luxury glamping. This variation strikes a happy balance between minimalistic and higher-end retreats, meaning one’s quarters will likely be decorated more lavishly, and the retreat itself would feature a perk or two more than the minimalist tier would boast — namely, a more remote destination or activities reserved for the individuals who purchased that exact package.
Finally, we have ultra-luxury glamping. Such retreats often take place in highly remote and exotic locations. Furthermore, events of such a high caliber tend to be all-inclusive, providing attendees with immaculately designed spaces, as well as a carefully curated list of exclusive excursions and activities.
Evidently, glamping is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Instead, every trip is highly customizable to meet one’s personal goals and tastes. To further explore the benefits of setting off on a wellness retreat, be sure to start a conversation with Caitlin Crowe on Twitter. Or, request information on her own wellness retreat, Topo Pino.
This blog post originally appeared on Caitlin Crowe's website.
Over the last several years, wellness has quickly transformed from a personal lifestyle choice to a thriving industry. However, it is important to note that this growth was not fueled merely by trends like athleisure wear, fad diets, or artisanal pressed juices.
Instead, people of every age have looked to wellness programs to help them counteract the negative side effects of stress they encounter on a daily basis, whether at work or home. Therefore, exercise, clean eating, and other forms of self-care have quickly risen not only in popularity but importance as well.
This increased need for relaxation has resulted in the development and growth of one particularly helpful health trend: wellness retreats. Designed to allow individuals to escape from endless to-do lists, familial commitments, and work-related anxieties, these programs integrate a variety of exercises and routines to mitigate stress and improve mindfulness.
However, the benefits of embarking on these trips do not end there. With that in mind, let us take some time to explore the advantages of attending a wellness retreat.
Forging a connection with nature
It is no secret that the beauty of nature acts as a source of inspiration and healing. Due to this connection, many wellness retreats are held at locations that provide a boost to physical, emotional, spiritual, and environmental health alike — namely, exotic jungles, beaches, and even atop mountains.
By spending this extended period outdoors, attendees are given the opportunity to escape their stressors and afford the cognitive portions of their brains a rest, leaving them feeling refreshed, renewed, and considerably more at ease.
While we are trapped in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, our own desires and needs often fall by the wayside. Sometimes, this is because we feel it would be too selfish of us to focus a moment of our free time on ourselves.
On a wellness retreat, however, individuals are given the tools they need to prioritize their wellbeing and, over time, integrate self-care habits into their daily routines. Although these tactics can vary depending on one’s stress level or need for a break, some examples include, but are certainly not limited to: meditating during one’s lunch break, planning and making healthy meals as opposed to eating out, or taking a mental health day after a particularly difficult week.
Evidently, wellness retreats are not a passing trend, but a method of unplugging, minimizing stress, and laying a strong foundation for future strength and success. If you are interested in attending a wellness retreat, consider reaching out to Caitlin Crowe, founder of Topo Pino, on Twitter!
This blog post originally appeared on Caitlin Crowe's website.
Spending time in nature is one of the most intuitive methods of positively impacting one’s mood and overall mindset. However, regardless of just how natural this method appears, it does not seem as though many people turn to exploring the great outdoors when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Perhaps this is because they simply do not have the time to do so, what with their hectic work schedules and familial commitments that may consume their entire weekends. Or, perhaps it is because they are skeptical of all the benefits fresh air and sunshine genuinely hold.
Regardless, let us take some time to clarify just how spending time in nature can improve your physical and mental health.
Nature provides a calming escape
It is no secret that individuals who live in Westernized countries are inundated with feelings of stress and anxiety, both work-related and otherwise, and some do not feel as though they are equipped with the tools necessary to cope with and ultimately escape their stressors.
However, recent studies have shown that individuals who walk for as little as 20 minutes through an urban park or wooded area reported significantly lower stress levels than those who spent time wandering through a crowded city. Seeing as one does not have to commit hours-long chunks of their time in order to feel the refreshing benefits of the outdoors, perhaps more people will feel inclined to incorporate short nature walks into their daily schedules.
Nature refines our ability to focus
A 2010 health letter from Harvard Medical School noted that our lack of focus often stems from our propensity to remain indoors all day, whether because of work or poor weather conditions. If we were to spend more time outdoors, though, we would see almost instantaneous positive results.
After all, observing plants, water, birds and other animals, rather than our usual, blue-light-emanating devices, gives the cognitive portion of our brains a rest, leaving us feeling refreshed, renewed, and more patient than before.
Nature sparks inspiration
It is no coincidence that a number of the world’s most famous pieces of art were inspired by nature — from Van Gogh’s “Irises” and Monet’s “Water Lilies” to Georgia O’Keeffe’s “From the White Palace.” So, if you ever find yourself struggling to come up with your next creative project, combat writer’s block, or simply find the motivation to press through the remainder of your work day, spending a bit of time outdoors may be the solution you are searching for.
Evidently, nature wields greater benefits than just a nice view. Ensure you are taking every opportunity to get outdoors and refresh and revitalize your senses. Trust me, you will not regret it.