Rock Island and Greeter Falls, TN


My friend from Arkansas contacted me a few months ago about coming to the Nashville area and doing some hiking. Right away I started making a plan to rival the one Carolyn had made for me when I visited earlier this year. I created a loop that took us from breakfast in Nashville, to Rock Island State Park, and then down to Greeter Falls in Savage Gulf State Natural Area, and then back to Nashville again. A perfect day trip that had us leaving Barista Parlor by 9am and arriving back in the city at about 6:30pm.

Any time people come to visit, I make sure they experience the glory that is a Barista Parlor biscuit. It’s the perfect way to start out a day of driving and hiking and then driving and hiking some more. My friends were definitely not disappointed, but honestly who in their right mind has ever been disappointed by that miraculous biscuit??


Our first stop was twin falls at Rock Island. This is one of the best middle Tennessee falls you can see for the least amount of work. Trail time is about five minutes before you can hop off and start rock scrambling out to the side of the river. You’ll be able to get pretty close to the falls so prepare yourself to get a little wet from the spray. We hung out at the falls for a bit before driving to a restaurant in McMinnville for lunch. Collins River BBQ and Cafe
gets a 10/10 from us if you need a bite before heading to a new location.

We drove about an hour down to Savage Gulf to hike Greeter and Boardtree Falls. It’s about a mile and a half hike to see both falls. There is definitely some elevation changes in the trail but nothing overly strenuous - hiking poles or a walking stick is always helpful no matter the terrain.


Greeter, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful locations in TN. White falls cascading into a pool of perfect blue water. Even though it was warm that day, the water was so cold that the bottom of the falls was a bit icy. It created such a beautiful shine at the base.


We had the falls to ourselves for a bit and then worked our way back up the trail - and the slippery spiral staircase - to find the suspension bridge and the top of Boardtree Falls. This falls isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s unique in that you can easily walk out on the top of the falls since the water is always pretty calm. There’s usually a dry rock right at the top where you can sit and take in the view.


This is a great day trip if you want to get the most out of your time. Roundtrip it’s about a 4 hour drive, but with all the views and hiking, it feels like much less. However, if there is extra time in your day, there are multiple other state parks and natural areas to and from both locations. Middle Tennessee has unlimited possibilities!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Adventurers (On a Budget)


It's almost December 25th and that means you might be scrolling through amazon trying to figure out what prime eligible items will make that weird outdoor person, in your life, a happy camper on Christmas Morning. Well, I'm here to help. Maybe? I've put together a list of stuff that at least I would love to receive. Everything on the list happens to be under $25 (because let's be real, we're all a bit strapped for cash around this time of year) and extremely useful. Happy Gifting!


Friction Labs Chalk - $7-$25

  • For the climber in your life. People make fun of me for loving this expensive chalk, but I seriously feel like it works better than any of the other brands. Plus it's got pretty packaging.

Smartwool Socks - $19

  • The best socks you'll ever wear. And they NEVER stink. It's insane.

Twist Lock Carabiner - $19

  • You can never have too many carabiners

The Great Outdoors: A User's Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before Heading into the Wild (and How to Get Back in One Piece) - By Brendan Leonard - $17

  • This is seriously an amazing guide book. Even for the seasoned outdoors-man, this is a fantastic reference guide on almost all outdoor subjects.

Stanley Classic One Hand Thermos - $20

  • Beautiful, timeless, and functional. The perfect place for the hot coffee.

Tenacious Tape - $8

  • A must have for anyone with a puffy jacket, down sleeping bag, nylon tent, hammock, etc. Quick patches that rarely wear out.

Fire Starter - $9

  • Because someone usually always forgets matches or a lighter.

Carhartt Beanie - $10

  • For the man or woman in your life. Everyone's got a head that needs keeping warm. And look at all those colors!!!!

Yoga Mat - $15-$20

  • Even if you aren't a much of  a "yogi", a yoga mat is nice to have for stretching, sitting outside, and even as a makeshift sleeping pad.  Also great for instagram photos.

Field Notes Notebook - $10

  • Make sure your adventurer can record all they did on their trip so they can tell you all about it!

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System - $20

  • This is handy in case of any quick filtration needs.

Petzl Tikkina Headlamp - $20

  • Headlamps are seriously the greatest invention of all time. And these are SUPER bright.

Power Bank - $25

  • It's the 21st century and you need your phone almost all the time. So you might as well be able to charge it up even on a camping trip.

Mountain House Meal - $10

  • Chicken and Rice mountain house meals are so good. I'm not even kidding.

Titanium Spork - $8

  • You have to have something to eat your nasty morning oatmeal with. Or the aforementioned chicken and rice. (YUM) And lets be real, even if your person owns one of these, they'll end up losing it soon anyway. Might as well give them an extra.

Compact First Aid Kit - $19

  • This is a no brain-er, yet I most people I'm around (including me sometimes....oops) don't carry a first aid kit with them.

Compact Trekking Poles - $23

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



What Climbing Has Done For Me

I am seriously blessed that rock climbing has become a part of my life.

I’ve never been an “active” or “athletic” person until the last five years of my life. I didn’t play organized sports, no gymnastics, or dance classes, I didn’t run, or even walk regularly. And as I’ve already discussed (link to blog post) I ended up finding a love for outdoor recreation as a way to get through some tough life altering relationship changes in the beginning of 2014.

Fast forward to today when I climb almost 4 days a week every week, averaging three hours in the gym each time. I’ve never really craved physical activity like I hear runners do, but after our local gym finally opened, I can say for certain that has changed. Friends of mine will attest that if we are on an out of town weekend trip, I frequently comment, “I NEED TO CLIMB SOMETHING”. I get feeling antsy and a little trapped if I’m not able to get on a wall of some sort. Becoming a climber has done me a whole lot of good in so many ways.

TIny speck of red hair = me. 

TIny speck of red hair = me. 

First of all, I’m not one to randomly introduce myself to a stranger, but the tight knit gym community in my town has really helped me with that. It’s a whole lot easier to meet someone when you’ve been helping each other work a boulder problem for the past hour. A common goal allows you to meet people without pressure. It’s nice that our community is small enough to let me refill my introverted “talk to people” tank, while also having private climb time when I need to be by myself.

I think it would be tough to identify another sport that is as uplifting and encouraging as climbing. I’ve never experienced such enthusiasm, motivation, and excitement from people as I strive to finish a v3 that’s been absolutely killing me. One time I asked a gym acquaintance to video me trying a problem I’d been throwing myself at for over two hours, and when I finally sent it, the entire boulder area applauded me because they knew how hard I’d been trying. That’s incredible to me.

The more I climb, the more confident I become, both mentally and physically.  I try harder problems that I would never have even glanced at a few months ago. I don’t worry about failing a route because I know it will just push me to get it later. You’re only competing against yourself anyway.

Physically, I’ve never really been proud of my body. I’ve never been severely overweight, but if you had looked at those average weight charts on a medical website, I was in the “overweight” category  (which honestly is so rude for those charts to say). Thankfully, due to some lifestyle changes along with pushing myself at the climbing gym, that is no longer the case, and I’m much more confident in my appearance. (Though to say I don’t still struggle, would be a total lie.) When I first started climbing, the gym was a huge room full of comparison. An average female climber is smaller, slighter, and a lot more toned that me. But I just don’t have that body type. Women in my family have big arms and big thighs, there’s not much you can do to change genetics. However, my arms and thighs house some powerful muscles now. These days I look at a person who would have been my “ideal” body type and I see that I climb stronger and better than them with MY body that looks MY way. (not that it’s about being better or feeling superior to others, but you see the point!)

I’ve also learned to listen to what my body is telling me.  If I’ve climbed hard a few days in a row and my  shoulder starts feeling whacky, I know you need to ease up. I can tell exactly when my skin is reaching its breaking point, and I know when it’s worthless to keep climbing because my energy level isn’t up to snuff. When one of my fingers’ joints starts getting twinge-y feeling, I know I have to let it rest. It’s been so cool to learn more about how my body works while climbing, and when to chill out to prevent any injuries.  


And the last nugget of gold I’ve gleaned from climbing is that I’m an extremely good judge of character (woman’s intuition is probably the biggest factor in this…) when it comes to belay partners. I can watch someone and their attitude towards climbing and determine that I do not want them belaying me on lead, much less on top rope. You have to be able to trust your partner completely when your life is in their hands.

I could go on for ages about how much I love climbing, what it has done for me, and what i’m excited to accomplish, but these are the main things that stand out when i’m asked about why I love climbing. If you’ve ever been curious about the sport, and want to try something new, find a local gym and give it a go! I’d love to hear about how it changes you.

clifty hollow-21.JPG

My Favorite Outdoor Brands With a Focus on Ethics

This week I’m bringing you some recommendations. I get questions from time to time of what brands I keep gravitating back to. A lot of factors go into my decision making process when it’s time for new clothing or gear. I currently use a variation of the "capsule wardrobe" system and I try to carry that mindset into my gear purchases too. Less IS More! I buy better quality items from trusted brands so that I don't have to re-purchase as often. Until recently, I actually had a second Instagram account that I used to cultivate discussion and inspiration for my capsule wardrobe, minimalism journey, and healthy living.  (Recently I deleted it because let's be real, having two instagrams is a little extra....) I may showcase another post on those types of topics but we won't get into it right just yet.

This year I’ve made it a priority to buy more ethical (made by workers that are paid a fair wage and have a proper work environment), sustainable (manufactured in a way that makes a low impact environmentally), and good quality items. Being able to check all three of these boxes is definitely tricky especially with how mass manufactured the outdoor industry is these days. Most of my recommendations fit into these categories, but not necessarily all. However, if there is a trusted brand that isn’t on my list that you're a fan of, please tell me about it! I’m always on the lookout for products that cause the least amount of harm to this planet.


This is a no brainer. It’s the go-to brand EVERY person brings up when it comes to solid gear paired with a sustainable business model. This is a brand that literally uses the slogan “if it’s broke, fix it”. Nearly every product they offer is fair trade certified and a large number of their products use recycled materials. They are a B Corp certified brand and also are part of 1% for the planet. Some tend to complain about the price of Patagucci (I can’t believe I actually typed that) but I think you get exactly what you pay for. Their products have never failed me.

Black Hole Duffel 60L
Re toot Snap T fleece pullover
Torrentshell Jacket




Re-tool Snap-T

Re-tool Snap-T


Next up is a brand called Cotopaxi. I’ll level with you, I don’t actually own any of their products right now. But I should have a shiny new backpack coming at me in the next few months. I’ll be posting a full review of it once I get it and take it on a trip! ( I am so pumped!!)

Anyway, this brand has a super great slogan “gear for good”. They make a ton of their backpacks and jackets with remnant fabrics from properly compensated Filipino workers. This also allows you to get limited edition colors on different gear models. Which is pretty neat! They offer a lifetime warranty of 61 years on their products. This is symbolic of the average lifespan of a person living  in a third world country. Cotopaxi is B Corp certified and their website also has yearly global impact updates

Tecca windbreaker
Haraka Tights - been waiting for these to come back in stock!!

Toad & Co.

Toad & Co is a very eco friendly brand that utilizes a LOT of organic and sustainable materials. I love the effortless style each of their pieces radiates. Everything looks like you could be in the office, going to dinner, or going for a walk. Every product I have owned has been extremely well made even with products that happen to be constructed from thinner materials. Their website has extensive information about their ethics and sustainability endeavors. Toad and Co are also part of the Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group.

Marley SS Dress
Airbrush SL Deco Shirt


When it comes to backpacks I’m a huge advocate for Osprey. I’m always a sucker for a lifetime warranty. If you break it, they fix it. This brand isn’t B Corp or a part of any large sustainability association that I can find, but on their website they have great information about their factories in Vietnam and the conditions therein. Also they have a great checklist of some of their brand’s culture of sustainability. I have a day pack and a backpacking pack from Osprey and I am always impressed by the quality and durability of their gear, trip after trip and mile after mile.

Womens AG Aura 65
Daylite Pack



Aura AG 65

Aura AG 65


Columbia is a recommendation I give out to everyone who needs a piece of gear that’s relatively cheap and also functional, not to mention that their pants actually fit curvy ladies. Lately, Columbia has taken great strides in creating recycled products. Specifically their “outdry ex eco jacket that is made from 100% recycled polyester. Their website has a plethora of information about their stances on environmental issues and what collaborations they are a part of that share their sustainable manufacturing approach. I like the design of most of their products and if you are broke but need a cute fleece for a camping trip, some of their designs are reminiscent of Patagonia *wink wink*.

Back Beauty Skinny Pant
Saturday Trail Stretch Pant


Vasque boots are seriously the best. You ever buy a pair of shoes for a special trip and then they hurt your feet for the entire weekend? You won't have to deal with that if you buy a pair of Vasque boots. I bought a pair for a backpacking trip, shipped them overnight, and wore them on the trail the next day. No blisters, no pain, no nothing. I cannot recommend them enough and believe me, finding shoes that fit my super wide feet is a rare occurrence. This brand has a new "for life" customer. Vasque is a part of parent company Red Wing Shoe Company which I don't happen to own any work boots, but I know the reputation they hold. Unfortunately there isn't much about sustainability on either Vasque or Red Wing's websites, but they are made in the USA

Talus Ultradry

Vasque Talus UltraDry

Vasque Talus UltraDry

Those are six brands that I tend to buy from when I need something brand new, but I am a HUGE used buyer. I scour second hand websites for specific pieces of gear before I turn to the actual company's website to place an order.

Ebay has what I need 90% of the time and for a massive discount. Just be sure to search with as many specific terms as you can, and check a seller’s feedback history. It so much better to buy used instead of putting new pieces into the world.

Another good marketplace for outdoor gear is Gear Trade. It’s basically ebay for outdoor items. I’ve even sold a couple things there. It’s not the most well designed website out there, but it works and I’ve had great luck buying and selling.

In the age of “fast fashion” and “planned obsolescence it’s seriously important to purchase with intent. Only buy when you need it, buy used if you can, and make sure what you’re buying doesn’t have a negative impact on the planet or on society, and buy a product that will last. Some may think that’s a hassle, but honestly, if you can make a small change, pay a few dollars more, and have an item that will last more than one season, what’s the harm in that?