After the Hike Thanks to everyone who submitted a comment to enter my 7th Anniversary Sierra Trading Post $100 Gift Certificate. I had some great entries to choose from and I have to let you know that it truly warms my heart to read about other people discovering the joys of L.A.’s supposedly hidden outdoor wonders, but my top choice went to Eric, whose late-blooming and early outdoor mishaps echoed quite a bit of my own first experiences out here:

I was never an outdoors type. The first time I ever went camping was a couple years ago. I didn’t have any gear of my own, so I borrowed a friend’s tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Before arriving at the camp site, I made one last ditch effort to get out of it; I said to my friend, “It’ll be dark when we get there. Wanna just set up your tent and we can both sleep in that one?” He declined.

I was forced to pitch my tent entirely on my own. It turned out to be a relatively easy task. I felt the same as I did when I changed my car tire by myself for the first time: A sense of accomplishment, a tinge of heteronormative masculinity. And that was just the start of the magical weekend.

Community and bonding over a campfire. The beauty of the dancing flames. The darkness of the skies contrasting the brightness of the stars. The soothing hot springs, and the freezing cold air right before and right after. The “silence” of the great wilderness and the contentment of just being there.

As we packed up our gear at the end of the weekend, we noticed that I pitched my tent on top of an anthill.

Congratulations to Eric and thanks again to everyone who entered! And in case anyone was wondering, the 30% off discount code SHUBTS0513 still works at Sierra Trading Post through midnight tonight. So if you’ve got something on your list, get in there and snag it!