Let’s Talk About 💩

Let’s Talk About 💩
Let’s talk about it. Why? Well, because have to. We’ve all nonchalantly ignored it, or covered it with leaves, or pushed it into the woods, further off trail with a stick. Guilty as charged. We laugh about it with our friends and accept the fact that they’re doing it, too. But, Dispose of Waste Properly is the 3rd Leave No Trace principle. The question used to brush it all off of our “outdoorsy” conscience? If wild animals poop in the woods, what difference does it make if my dog does, too?

There are some huge differences, and the proof is in… well, the poo. Let’s learn!

dog reading book

ew… It’s full of bacteria

“Wild animals are consuming nutrients from the resources around them in their natural habitat, then promptly returning those same nutrients back into the Earth.” (lnt.org)

See the photo from Rocky Mountain National Park’s team below depicting sprouts from bear scat. The food that gets ingested, ends up deposited and regrows. This is important!

“When we start adding in dogs, that balance is thrown way off. Most domesticated pets aren’t eating native plants or wild game – they’re eating processed kibble or Greenies or rawhides or leftover spaghetti your grandpa throws in their food bowl. This results in excess nutrients along the trail, and in turn creates unstable conditions that allow algae blooms and create an easy habitat for invasive plant species to grow.” (lnt.org)

ew… There’s too much of it

Are you still not picking up what I’m putting down? Take a deep breath on this one: all the dogs in the US produce 21 billion pounds of waste each year. And with that, “Just three days worth of poop from 100 dogs has enough bacteria to temporarily shut down 20 miles of a bay or watershed for swimming and shellfishing.” (huffingtonpost.com) So much for jumping in the lake this summer!

Dog in Lake
Say what?

Wes Siler from Outdoor Magazine lays down the heavy load.  “A study conducted on a heavily polluted stream in northern Virginia used DNA analysis to determine that 42% of the controllable bacteria in the water came from dog poop.”

So, let’s help the environment and our fellow hiker’s boots and clean up after our furbabies. It’s doing more harm than good.

Oh… How CAN I Help?

Carry out! Whatever comes out with you must come back with you. I have been using biodegradable Frisco Pet Waste Bags* that you can find on Chewy.com that are super easy, rather large for swift pickup and leakproof for a cleaner clean-up. The packaging is made out of recycled materials and the bag is built from product that will break down faster, so that there’s less guilt about using so much plastic. I tried to do some research on the biodegradability of the bags’ EPI technology, and it’s still plastic materials. For now, these work well and I’ll stick with, but let me know if you’ve found safer options that wont leak – if I am doing this, I might as well go all. the. way!

As for cleaning up while hiking, Frisco sends a great little capsule that attaches to my leash, so I always have some on hand. Plus, I’ve been using an old water bottle with a wide, screw-on lid to pack the bags out in – no stank! I’ll carry it out with the cap sealed tight in my backpack. (I actually got this carry-out idea from a great hiker girl on Instagram but I forget her handle – DM me and I’ll credit you for this genius-ness!)

All in all, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics says it best, “Responsible pet ownership means doing our “doody” to pick up our pet’s waste.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Leave No Trace principles, visit their website at lnt.org.


Blog Excerpt from Leave No Trace Center: https://lnt.org/blog/wildlife-poop-versus-dog-poop-explained

Article from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/dog-poop-tons-feces_n_1440383.html

Outside Magazine Article: https://www.outsideonline.com/2292736/its-time-talk-about-dog-poop 

Not used, but interesting study from Leave No Trace Center: https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/2_2_18_OSMP_Pet_Waste_Final_Report-1-201802051053.pdf

*Chewy.com sent me this product in exchange for my open and honest review.

A Look At REI’s Force Of Nature Campaign

A Look At REI’s Force Of Nature Campaign

My love for the Force of Nature campaign and REI in general has only grown exponentially as I learn more about marketing and why brands do what they do. As I pursue my master’s degree, I want to share insights and research on the blog. I’m writing more than ever this year, so why not expose it for a (small) crowd? The post content was edited and adopted to fit this blog.

Two years ago, there were roughly 144 million Americans that participated in an outdoor activity. However, when The Outdoor Foundation’s 2017 Outdoor Participation Report was published, it displayed a grim statistic: female participation rates dropped year-over-year in ages ranging from 6 to 24. This is a wide age range and quite frightening for the outdoor industry. Young women will have more opportunities to get outside in this age range, where taking risks and falling in love with a new activity, is important to the industry.

“We’re now seeing fewer people skiing as adults because they weren’t exposed to it as kids. When I ask my [ski and snowboard] instructors at staff orientation how many learned to ski on class trips, more than half put up their hands” (Stuart, 2018).

And so, another segment for REI was born: The Female Outdoor Enthusiast.

Outdoor adventure is an extremely popular theme within social blogs and has exploded in the past several years with personal branding on Instagram. Paired with the heightened attention from media-focused social issues, an emphasis on female empowerment that started in 2017 has carried far and wide. The strategies that REI employed in the spring of last year which launched the Force of Nature campaign are numerous and target a select audience of women by both message and media.

The Force of Nature campaign focused on 4 distinct efforts:

  1. to change the spotlight from only men in the outdoors
  2. to support diverse nonprofits and important outdoor initiatives
  3. to host more outdoor events geared toward women
  4. to update women’s outdoor clothing and gear sold at the store (Heller, 2017).


“Who cares what you even look like? Let’s focus on what you’re doing.”
– Pam Grossman, Director of Visual Trends at Getty Images

The first and primary strategy that REI focused on was social engagement. The brand began posting photos of strong, rebellious women and their outdoor inspirations, as well as encouraged female followers to share their own personal experiences in Facebook comments or as their own posts including the hashtag #ForceOfNature. REI announced weekly themes for the hashtag and shared the chosen “winner stories” across their channels. On Instagram, there are over 362,099 posts tagged with #ForceOfNature. REI only has 3,678 Instagram posts, for perspective of reach.


Almost immediately, REI was met with criticism for not featuring women of all shapes and sizes in their imagery and not offering larger size options in their retail platforms. The team has responded tremendously, adding sections onto the Force of Nature landing page as well as promising and following through in 2018 with offering a larger selection of sizes in both brick and mortar and online stores with their own brands and partners (Parris, 2017).


“Let’s make outside the largest level playing field on earth.”
– REI Brand Statement

The goal was 1,000 events. At the end of 2017, REI almost tripled that and played host to 2,700 new events driven toward women such as in-store classes and adventure travel programs. Outessa hosted one (well, three) outdoor retreats and two festivals – and they are all on my bucket list.


“Choose brands that share your commitment to a level playing field.”
– REI Blog Contributor

Doing “good” is a core goal of many brands in the outdoor industry. REI pronounced that with the Force of Nature Fund, which awarded 26 nonprofits with grant money totaling a whopping $500,000. Along with partner projects, a grand total of $1 million dollars was funded by REI to support outdoor nonprofits and to inspire and empower women in the outdoors in 2017 (Parris, 2018).

With an effort to only feature women through this initiative came an additional pivot to include product development for more women’s gear and apparel, “since the launch of Force of Nature, our women’s business has outpaced our men’s. While this was never intended to be about sales, there is strong evidence that consumers align their values to their spending” (Swapp, 2017). It is stated that just in this time alone, sales in women’s apparel at REI has increased by 20%.

I’d say that’s a successful branding campaign! Hopefully it doesn’t end here.

REI Blog & PR References:

Heller, L. (2017, April 3). REI’s Force Of Nature Wants To Change The Game For Women Outdoors. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauraheller/2017/04/03/reis-force-of-nature-wants-to-change-the-game-for-women-outdoors/#6770cd143cdb 

Parris, A. (2018, April 13). REI Announces Force of Nature Fund Recipients. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/stewardship/force-of-nature-fund 

Parris, A. (2017, September 20). REI Extended Sizing Update: More Sizes, More Women, Right Now. Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/news/rei-extended-sizing-update-more-sizes-more-women-right-now 

Pressner Kreuser, A. (2018, February 23). After Hitting Massive Revenue Numbers, REI Gave Nearly 70 Percent of Its Profits to the Outdoor Community. Here’s Why (and What You Can Learn). Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/amanda-pressner-kreuser/rei-hit-record-setting-revenue-by-shutting-its-doors-on-black-friday-heres-why-its-people-first-moves-paid-off.html

Stuart, R. (2018, February 6). Special Report: Where Have All The Skiers Gone? Retrieved from https://www.explore-mag.com/Special-Report-Where-Have-All-The-Skiers-Gone

Swapp, L. (2017, December 22). Force of Nature: This is Just the Beginning. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/news/force-of-nature-this-is-just-the-beginning

National Parks – A 59 Point Bucket List

National Parks – A 59 Point Bucket List

There are 59 formal National Parks and a whopping 418 National Park Sites which include battlefields, forests, preserves and more. While I have been to a number of sites, the total is so overwhelming that I need to focus on the Big 59. Even then, seeing this list seems overwhelming. There are just so many that I haven’t even dreamed of. Have you gotten to all 59 National Parks, yet? How did you do it? Any advice would be much appreciated.


I have big dreams for Alaska, but unfortunately this state is nowhere near my immediate future.

  1. Denali National Park and Preserve
  2. Gates of the Arctic National Park
  3. Glacier Bay National Park
  4. Katmai National Park and Preserve
  5. Kenai Fjords National Park
  6. Kobuk Valley National Park
  7. Lake Clark National Park

American Samoa

Wake me up when I get to Australia, first.

  1. National Park of American Samoa


  1. Grand Canyon National Park  ✓
    Truly breathtaking. When you stand on the edge of it, all the noise dissipates into the canyon.


  1. Petrified Forest National Park ✓
    Once I walked through some of the petrified wood sites, I wondered if it was all a tourist trap.

Well, can you tell I discovered #Lightroom yet?

A post shared by Christina Skis (@christina_skis) on


  1. Saguaro National Park ✓ – Read About It
    This park was nice to see. The quintessential Arizona, really.


  1. Hot Springs National Park


Queue California Dreamin’…

  1. Channel Islands National Park
  2. Death Valley National Park
  3. Joshua Tree National Park
  4. Kings Canyon National Park
  5. Lassen Volcanic National Park
  6. Redwood National Park
  7. Sequoia National Park
  8. Yosemite National Park


  1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  2. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  3. Mesa Verde National Park
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park ✓  – Read About It
    One of my favorite National Parks, of course. I cried when I drove over the ridge to Estes Park. That’s all I have to say here.

If mother nature’s gonna keep raining on my parade I’m just gonna keep dreaming about the next time I get to be here.

A post shared by Christina Skis (@christina_skis) on



  1. Biscayne National Park
  2. Dry Tortugas National Park
  3. Everglades National Park ✓
    I ain’t lyin’ when I say there are ‘gators everywhere… This image is from Big Cypress National Preserve, right before the National Parks entrance. We were traveling some back road to get there. To be clear, think “River Monsters.”



Call me on my honeymoon…

  1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  2. Haleakalā National Park


  1. Mammoth Cave National Park


  1. Acadia National Park 
    2017 TO DO! Acadia is on my immediate to-do list. Also, I have family in New England. Therefore, this fall, I am going to get there.


  1. Isle Royale National Park


  1. Voyageurs National Park


  1. Glacier National Park


  1. Great Basin National Park

New Mexico

  1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

North Carolina

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

North Dakota

  1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park


  1. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
    2017 TO DO! Of course, park is roughly 3 hours from me. To be quite honest, I judged Ohio for not having a thing, especially not National Parks.


Shouldn’t this whole entire state be a National Park?

  1. Crater Lake National Park

South Carolina

  1. Congaree National Park

South Dakota

  1. Badlands National Park
  2. Wind Cave National Park


  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park


  1. Big Bend National Park
  2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

United States Virgin Islands

  1. Virgin Islands National Park


  1. Arches National Park
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park
  3. Canyonlands National Park
  4. Capitol Reef National Park
  5. Zion National Park


  1. Shenandoah National Park ✓


  1. Mount Rainier National Park
  2. North Cascades National Park
  3. Olympic National Park


  1. Grand Teton National Park
  2. Yellowstone National Park