New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs, Uncategorized

6 Things You Need To Know Before Taking Up Hiking

Alternate titles: R.I.P. Big Toenail; I Can’t Feel My Butt; Who Needs Heel Skin, Anyway?

I logged 17 miles in hiking this weekend, Chipmunks. (And I saw you! Yes. I saw my first chipmunk since December!)

Local hiking splendor.
Local hiking splendor.

You’re probably wondering who I am and what I’ve done to Jules. I have a confession. When I’m not drinking and Googling bacon recipes, I like to go outside and get my sweat nature on. I can’t stand running, and cyclists make me think devil thoughts, but give me a dirt path, some shady trees and a mountain view payoff, and I’m there faster than you can say, “Does this trail mix have chocolate chips? Because that’s really the only kind worth buying.”

Mt. Monadnock, 2005.
Mt. Monadnock, 2005.

It’s been a while since I’ve hit the hardcore trails , but in order to combat the three B’s (boredom, bumming and broke-itude) that have slammed me lately, I decided to get my Timberland mojo back. I’ve been tackling the relatively tame local trails over the past couple of months, and had planned on spending the summer working up to trails like the steep ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in northern New Jersey, with the ultimate goal of hitting Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire this fall.


The stubborn Taurus in me had other plans. “Did the 6+ mile loop again today,” I told my first husband, Peppermeister, on Saturday. “Doing 10 tomorrow.”


Then I picked this trail:

Hike-2-map Hike-3-description

Then I drove an hour there. I was ready and rarin’ to go.

Hike-4-stache-potty Hike-5-Tammany-trailhead

6 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Up Hiking

1. Just because a sign seems to promise bears, this does not mean you’ll finally carry out that long awaited convo with the Shakespearean meme bear.



2. Hiking Guide Books ‘under’ embellish.


3. By mile 7, you will not look like someone from an LL Bean catalog. Even though everyone else you encounter, inevitably, won’t have broken a sweat.

Hike-8-exhausted Hike-9-handsome-Uncle-Jesse

4. In New Jersey, you can run, but you can’t hide. From cicadas.


5. Some Most times, you’ll see some cool ass shiz.




6. You will have every right to come home and do nothing but act superior, drink champagne and eat all of it. Just… all of it.


Is there a sport / activity you think is borderline insane, but you love it anyway? Or one that, no matter what, you’d never be caught dead doing?


118 thoughts on “6 Things You Need To Know Before Taking Up Hiking”

  1. I feel your pain. I did the 7 km descent (which in comparison to your ordeal is nothing of course) but man, did that hurt the next day! Respect Jules, respect!

    1. Honestly, I think it’s the downhill that does me in. It’s all on the calves, and I have to clench my toes so my big toes don’t slam repeatedly into the front of my boots – I really have lost a big toenail from hiking. And from wearing high heels when I’m not hiking. I’m walking a dangerous path in life.

    1. You could say that for sure, Vincent! Look at you! You look like one of the LL Bean models! If I’m ever hiking in your neck of the woods, I promise to resent you accordingly.

  2. This is just awesome, girlie. Congrats to you and your gorgeous canine for completing the hike. You are quite the photojournalist! And yes, chocolate chips and chipmunks rock…however I happen to be a fan of cicadas. I have been ever since elementary school. Kind of creepy, I know. But I’m sure I’ll find someone from my childhood to blame it on.

    1. Thank you! Uncle Jesse, my dog, steals the spotlight again. Is it normal for people to call a dog “good-looking”? He heard that one about ten times yesterday.

      I was just happy the cicadas didn’t dive bomb my head – the dragonflies took care of that.

      Can I help you find this monster from your youth? Sounds like the doings of a big brother, if you ask me.

  3. I love hiking, camping and kayaking. Even on some hairy trails, when I feel like I could just lay down and wait for the Park Service to come retrieve me, I know I will really be happy with myself when it’s completed. And that I will have earned my turtle sundae.

    1. Yes! As soon as I’m done, I’m already plotting my next hike. I love the adventure – you just never quite know what you’re in for, but you’ll undoubtedly feel like a nature goddess when you’re through.

      I’m STILL hungry.

  4. Just the video clip alone gave me the heebie-jeebies. And then the snake?! I would have run in the other direction screaming like a little girl. Like I said before, you are crazy. When I informed Jim you had hiked 11 miles he asked me if you crossed the entire state of Delaware.

    By the way whenever I go hiking, I totally look like that L.L. Bean model. The scruffy man one.

    1. I just snorted at your last line. Oh, DP. We would have fit right in if we’d gone hiking together on this trail (if you catch my drift).

      Did you notice the snake was totes dead-o? Something killed it. A lot. And then displayed it on a prominent rock in an apparent gesture of pride.

      1. No, I didn’t notice it was totes dead, I was too busy screaming in horror at the computer screen. But that explains a lot as I would have been knocking it unconscious with my camera if it weren’t.

        I forgot to add I once hiked in NH, Jim talked me into going to see Arethusa Falls when I was 27. I complained the entire way up that I’d never live long enough to see the damn falls when I saw a hugely PREGNANT woman coming back down the mountain. Really put things in perspective (I suck at hiking)

        1. Ha! I was just thinking about that. How in my fantasy LL Bean model life, I’m totally one of those women who hikes pregnant, and then carries their infant on their back up a mountain (yes, I’ve seen those people – UG!).

          So I’m guessing this means you don’t want to do Mt. Monadnock with Rache and me this fall (full disclosure: Rache doesn’t know of this yet)?

  5. But, that view! And, that champagne! Scrambling up a lot of rocks and nearly drowning in your own sweat is a bargain basement price to pay for those two items (you don’t want to know what I would do…).

    Good luck on the quest for Monadnock — its totally worth it.

    1. Do you have a favorite trail?

      Oh, man. I think this was the first time I finished an epic hike with a bottle of champagne (and blogged), and it was the cure for what ailed me, I’ll tell ya what. Rough getting up at 5:30am this morning, though. Hoo.

      I did Mt. Monadnock many years ago, and my friend Rachel’s Table just brought it up, which is what made me think of it. What she doesn’t know yet is that I’m going to convince her to hike it with me this fall.

      1. My all-time favorite hikes are in Glacier National Park in Montana — Iceberg Lake, Grinell Glacier, and the Highline. It is beyond stunning out there. You have to go sometime, its totally worth all the trouble to get there! And, let me tell you, a meal has never tasted so good as the Coors Light and Twix combo platter that I tore into at the end of every one of those hikes. One of the best things about hiking is how good everything tastes when you finish.

        Your friend is lucky to get an invite to do Monadnock — if she gives you any lip, tell her lots of people would love to trade places with her (as a New England ex-pat I get a little overly nostalgic about my old stomping grounds).

        1. Yes – those all sound stunning! I would LOVE to hike in ‘proper’ mountains. I drove through Olympic National Park a few years ago – that’d be an awesome spot, too.

          Everything does taste better. That cheap champagne last night was worth the whole darn thing. And good news! Rache has officially agreed to Monadnock – I even have it in writing on this here blog, as proof.

  6. Very impressive! I’m not very sporty, I love cycling but only on nice smooth cycle paths, and I like walking/hiking, but on a much less challenging scale than you! I have twice done a sponsored walk of between 20-25 miles in a day, but they were mostly through the streets and on proper roads because we were collecting money in buckets as we went. I’m normally a bit of wuss with physical activities, but I did do a skydive once. My idea of sport hell though would be running a marathon, HATE running.

    1. Okay, having been skydiving means you get to say you’re a sporty maven for the rest of your life, even if you just sit in an La-Z boy chair for the next 50 years.

      Running. Oy. Yes. No matter how in shape I’ve ever been, this body just screams “Noooooooo make it stop!!” every time I start to run.

  7. Oh please, I look like that sweaty mess just walking on the ever so slightly inclined roads around my house when I take a walk around the neighborhood. I would die . . . DIE . . . about a half mile up that trail. And then you would have to drag my dead body the rest of the way. I guess what I’m saying is, you probably don’t want to invite me to go hiking with you . . . unless you really want to work on your arms with the whole dead body carrying as well, I guess. But bravo to you for tackling that insanity. Insanity!!

    1. I don’t know HOW I managed to forget, over the last ~7 years, that this trail started like this. Around every bend (literally climbing hand over hand up rocks), I thought, “Surely this is the last bit.” I thought that for an hour and a half. Even Uncle Jesse kept stumbling on rocks and glancing back at me like, “B*tch please. I’m going home.”

  8. Why oh why did you post the snake picture? I’m going hiking this weekend. My friends want to do 40 miles and touch 4 states. I agreed to join them for 10. Now I’m thinking 1 mile sounds good. Maybe .75 miles.

    1. Not to worry! He’s dead! …There. Don’t you feel better now?

      I would LOVE to do a multi-day hike, but I have some very specific stipulations which I think I’d find difficult to have met. Like, I want the destination at the end of each day to be a swanky hotel.

  9. Hiking — good for you and I envy you! I love hiking, though prefer to do it in a more treeless environment (yup, that’s just me). And the whole bear thing is completely overrated. We got between mom with 2 cubs and the trail exit. None of them gave a rat’s ass about my screeching whistle and two of us trying to stand close together to look bigger. We finally just made a run for it (and lived to comfort ourselves with an adult beverage afterward).

    1. Ooooh cooolllll. The only hike in which I’d ever seen a bear, was actually this trail. My friend Mary still teases me that she wanted to make a run for it, and I walked closer to try to get a picture.

      We only have black bears here, and they’re supposedly pretty harmless – especially this time of year, when they’re not hungry (for bloggers!).

  10. Brilliant! It looks like a gorgeous hike! I ambitiously took on a trek in the Nepalese Himalayas once, with almost nil proper hiking experience. By the end it was goodbye to both of my big toenails and I had pretty much traded in my feet for blisters.

    I definitely enjoyed the feelings of superiority afterwards, though!

    1. Wow! I bow down to you and your big toes. My heels are a pretty gory sight today – I’m just grateful it’s summer and I can wear sandals (even if I do frighten others).

      The view of the Delaware Water Gap from the summit really was spectacular – quite a few hawks circling – it’s always neat when you’re ‘above’ the birds!

  11. Jules, you’ve outdone yourself with this one. You can’t hear me over the cicadas, but I’m giving you a standing ovation right now.

    I enjoy hiking as well. Nature and I are BFFs. I also enjoy running, but find it boring to run around my neighborhood, but I do it anyway.

    A sport that I hate? Skiing. It’s dumb. (Because I’m bad at it.)

    1. I’m guessing you haven’t seen the two comment replies in this thread wherein I rope you into hiking Monadnock with me this fall. 😀

      No running. Pinky swear.

      What scares me is that I’m not really very sore today. I fear it’s the calm before the storm. The ‘second day’ aches and pains are when you’ve really done yourself in.

      1. Oh yes! Second day is always the WORST. Good luck to you.

        You don’t even need to “rope” me in. I am THERE. And I’ll bring trail mix with chocolate chips.

  12. You make hiking fun! LOL My worst hike was a small 2-mile trek through the desert in the Chisos Mountains (after 6 miles to and over the range) — I got severely dehydrated and thought for sure I was gonna die.

    Couldn’t see the snake video; will have to try on the desktop. My 6-yr old posted a snake video from our yard last week. Distance and respect, yes, but never fear. She rocks.

    1. Ack! Desert hiking – that I can’t do. Aside from the lack of shade, I have an irrational fear of scorpions. I was seriously concerned on this hike when both Uncle Jesse and I ran out of water at mile 6. I saved us each one gulp when we made it to mile 10 (of 10.4). It was not especially satisfying. For either of us. Ha!

      The video is actually of the sound the cicadas make – it’s spooky!

      1. Ah, yes. Had to open the post in a different (aka better) browser. That is seriously spooky, exactly what I’d expect to hear as a guy pops out of the woods wearing a hockey mask or donning a chainsaw. I have to say, I was hoping for snake though. 🙂

  13. “Is there a sport / activity you think is borderline insane…?” Whoah there, Sunshine! Sport? Hiking is nothing more than walking, just not on the sidewalk. Seriously, that’s good work though! I’m most impressed that a port a potty had a mirror in it.

    1. *gasp* Donald. That sounds like a challenge. There was hand over hand action on this hike and everything (giggity). I think that’s a hiking term [for when you have to climb].

      Uncle Jesse is no ‘doodle dog, see? He’s a real man dog.

  14. It’s crazy, I tells ya… As soon as I’m mobile enough I’m putting up a post about my weekend physical overload… at some point I think we’re going to be called on to save the world or something, and it will depend on some symbiotic psychic link. Maybe we’re the Wonder Twins!

    Form of: An Ice Bridge!!


    I guess the time isn’t right, yet. Well, good job this weekend.

    1. Ever since I read this comment, that ‘Doug vs. Kate’ montage from The Cutting Edge has been playing through my mind, with us in their place. I think we’re both waddling with ice packs on our hips right about now. Actually, I’m doing surprisingly well, which concerns me (I’m afraid it might be the ‘second day soreness’-level aftermath, which is just the WORST. I have an ibuprofen drip running as a precautionary measure.)

      Eh. Let’s save the world tomorrow. When we can move.

      P.S. – Very nice job. Did I mention the very niceness of it?

    1. Getting up today at 5:30am after 6 1/2 hours of sleep was so, so, so brutal. Maybe I should have spent a little less time blogging last night, and a little more time sleeping. Oops.

  15. I’m so freaking impressed with you! Hiking is the one activity I’m not really into. CC keeps trying to get me to go. He stops short of actually putting on gear and getting in the car though. Also? If I took the puggles, I’d be carrying them by stair flight #3. Uncle Jesse is a rock star.

    1. Really, JM?? I would have thought this was right up your alley – or at least, a breeze for someone who does Bikram! Getting overheated is really my main nemesis when it comes to hiking uphill. It’s like all of the blood goes to my head and it just starts throbbing; then I have a migraine the rest of the day. SOMEHOW I avoided that last night. Lots of ibuprofen and champagne might be the key.

      Uncle Jesse is a MACHINE.

  16. Gorgeous views my little mountain goat. I lived in Calgary, AB for a couple of years and I must say, hiking in the Rockies was a favourite past time. I’m really glad you’ve expanded my perceptions of NJ because due to MTV’s influence I was only aware that people got drunk and turned orange in your neck of the woods. Good to see there is actual nature there.

    1. Yay! My superhero alter ego is all about destroying New Jersey stereotypes. Cicadas …and hurricanes… and humidity… aside, it’s an awesome state. It’s “The Garden State”, and most of it IS farmland / wetlands.

  17. I’m training for a marathon. People who talk about a runner’s high? FAKERS. All OF ‘EM. I start and, after two miles, I’m questioning the next step, let alone how I will complete 26.2 miles. Like, ever. Like, in my whole life, I may never travel that far on foot again.

    And then I go out again the next day and run 8 more, because that’s what my training schedule says to do. I’ve never had a stronger love/hate relationship – not even with my favorite bad fast food (which is corndogs + milkshakes, mmmm).

    1. Ha! I’m with you, Jennie. I have that same love/hate relationship. All hate when the hill just never ends, but so much love when I’ve conquered it, that all I can think about is when I can do the next hike.

      So funny, I was craving hot dogs after my hike. Usually I crave homemade fruit pie. I would have made some last night, but I wrote this instead.

      Good luck with your marathon! I could never do it. When is it?

      1. October 13 – the Chicago Marathon! It’s my first one and all I want is to finish it. And you *could* do it – but it’s probably best to only have one insane hobby at a time. 🙂

        I hope you make yourself that pie tonight!

        1. Dangggggggg girl! You are amazing, and you WILL finish (and please be careful! That shiz really takes a toll). Imagine how many corndogs and milkshakes you get to have before (while training) and after? That right there would be my #1 motivation.

          It amazes me how many people enjoy these insane hobbies.

          I’m so tired. I wish someone would make a pie for me.

          1. I wish someone would invent me a pie-making robot. Like Rosie in the Jetsons. Do you think the pie would taste as good if it were only made with robot-love and not the human kind?

            Thanks for the encouragement! Corn dogs will fuel my victory! P.S. I share a similar bitterness to yours r.e. sleek, stylish hikers. When I undergo physical exertion, I turn bright red and morph into a creature I have dubbed ‘Tomato-Jennie.”

            1. Gah! Yes! My “tomato face” is practically legendary! I was just telling someone that getting overheated is my biggest hiking nemesis – especially because it usually results in a day-long migraine. Adding insult to injury, literally.

              Your pie making train of thought makes me feel as though I’ve found a kindred spirit. I do suspect there would be a certain tinny/empty love aftertaste, if a robot was behind it.

              1. Ouch. I hate when the word “literally” applies in such a nasty way. I want to tell you you’re using it wrong, but – oh wait, no – that really sucks that bad.

                But hooray for kindred spirits! I collect friend crushes, and your moustache glasses have been tickling my fancy for a while. 🙂 If pies travelled well, I’d send you a strawberry rhubarb (lack of tinny aftertaste and oil drippings guar-an-TEED).

  18. Well, you’re already a better hiker than I. You packed water. I put wine in the canteen. And then I got my boyfriend and I lost in the forest after sundown, where he proceeded to fall down a hill slamming his junk into a tree, while I crab walked down behind him. Then there was a ravine full of leaves hiding sharp sticks to cross. He just stopped speaking to me. That is until we got home, did some shots of gin, checked each other for ticks, showered, and put Neosporin on our wounds. 😀

    1. Oh Jess, this tale warms my heart – and it’s not just the wine and gin talking. It sounds like you and your boyfriend have a very healthy relationship (pun totally intended).

  19. When I lived in Tucson, I fenced… sometimes in the summer… in full gear… while the air conditioning was broken.

    Now I just ride my bike without a helmet and party hard, and that is all the excitement I need.

  20. That’s a righteous climb. I keep waiting for the chirpers but they have yet to make their way to the central/southern part of the state. As for an activity that’s borderline insane? Yeah. I think we’ll keep that under wraps.

    1. It really was! I think you’re probably safe at this point – they seem to inhabit certain pockets, and stay there, so if you haven’t had them before, you probably won’t. We don’t have ’em in my neighborhood at all (SCORE).

      Color me intrigued… .

    1. I’m with you, Scott! Eeeevery now and then I think skydiving might be liberating. Then I think of how Babs (my mom) would react were she to find out…

  21. Wow! Kudos on your excellent accomplishment. May I also compliment you on your choice of hiking apparel…only the classiest of chipmunks will hike in what I can only describe as lingerie. Those other hikers may smell good, but you look fabulous!!! 😉

  22. You are so brave to do this on your own! I always get paranoid when I’m on my own – but then again you had your adorable doggie! And the timber rattlesnake! Yikes! 🙂

    1. Sometimes I wonder if Uncle Jesse is more of a liability than a security guard. Pretty sure he’d try to attack a bear, then leave me in the dust when he started losing the battle, leaving me in the woods with a very agitated bear.

  23. Am I still allowed to say “you go girl!”? No? Ok.

    I am very impressed. I am scared off by all physical activity unless there’s dancing. I like pop music.

    Also. broke-itude. Yes. That. I’m using it.

    1. By all means, use broke-itude, but it’ll cost you one public utterance of “you go, girl.” I’m thinking when you’re online at Target, using your last $10 to buy the latest Taylor Swift album. (That sounds snarky. You should know I’ve been to 18 ‘NSync concerts. And now I can afford 0 concerts.)

  24. Um I’m so impressed with your hiking abilities. I feel like I would have turned back, fallen off a cliff or passed out in the warm embrace of that bear.

    I like swimming and dancing. But have no bikini body or rhythm. Oh well.

    1. I would like to lodge a formal argument/complaint against this ‘have no bikini body’ statement.

      There were many times when I said to myself, “I could turn back now.” Which was quickly followed by, “No way in HELL am I climbing DOWN that shiz, even if it is another 8.5 miles the other way.” That’s messed up. Why do I willingly do this?

  25. Wow. Just…wow. You are a hiking rock star! (And yes, I can use that expression. I have permission from, um, somebody, so that it’s not cliche anymore.) I’m so proud of you. You definitely earned the right to eat and drink everything.
    I’m like you – can’t run, can’t bike, love to hike. Except for that vertical shiz – I always forget that part is kinda tough. As in, killer.

    1. Thank ya, Peggles! The taste of that Korbel alone was worth it.

      It’s so funny to me that I’d sooner climb a rocky mountain, hand over hand, for hours, than run for 5 minutes. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a man vs. woman thing – we’re just not built for it. Even in my tightest uni-boob sports bra, this body just… No. No.

  26. I’m impressed that you had the strength to post after all that hiking!

    You’ll never catch me long-distance running. I was born/blessed/cursed with bad ankles, so it was never going to happen anyway, but it really seems like way too much effort.

    1. [That night after the hike] It was a toss-up between baking and eating an entire strawberry pie, and assembling this post. I thought this would be less work. And calories. …Of course I wrote it while polishing off a bottle of cheap champagne. 🙂

  27. As usual, we are in synch because you just wrote about hiking, and Jess Witkins is at my place with her #SoWrong moment, which takes place during a hiking stint. And it involves public pooping. Yup. And people are confessing their accidentally “I-crapped-my-pants” moment over at my place. But, as usual, you beat me with the visuals. Damn girl. You so good with the visuals. And let’s not even talk about what you did with your 3 husbands! Woot!

  28. Sometimes I think I want to go on a hike. Thanks for reminding me why I never do! Or why I don’t drive a Subaru! It’s not like I don’t get exercise. The venture from my couch downstairs to the fridge upstairs is like a 70% incline (?)…. 🙂

    1. Ha! What’s funny is that I’m thinking of doing another ridiculous hike tomorrow at a place called Stokes State Forest. Does that name sway you towards insanity?

    1. I assume this is an invitation. Be down soon – I’ll bring the chocolatey trail mix!

      (I actually lived in Wilmington for a few months – wish I was into hiking back then!)

      P.S. – Thanks so much for the follow 🙂

  29. I’m having flashback to an accidental hike I took out to the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Thanks, Jules. I’ll be spending the rest of my afternoon curled in a corner weeping and rocking.

      1. Thank you. PS- most recent camping trip has shown me the nectar of the gods that is Chocolate Cake Vodka mixed with Cherry Coke. You. Must. Try. This.

        1. Shut the front door. I only just discovered whipped cream flavored vodka and orange juice = Creamsicle. Thank you for taking my life to the next, NEXT level.

  30. Although if you want to hike a nice mild trail, come visit me in Minnesota and we can hike the Paul Bunyan Trail. 100 miles from Brainerd to Bemidji. Mostly flat. All paved. Lots of lakes.

    1. I wonder if I was just looking at that last week. I was Googling ‘hiking from hotel to hotel’ because that’s the only kind of ‘backpacking’ that interests me, Ha!

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  35. Sometimes I think I want to go on a hike. Thanks for reminding me why I never do! Or why I don’t drive a Subaru! It’s not like I don’t get exercise. The venture from my couch downstairs to the fridge upstairs is like a 70% incline

  36. I wonder if I was just looking at that last week. I was Googling ‘hiking from hotel to hotel’ because that’s the only kind of ‘backpacking’ that interests me, Ha!

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