This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Clif Bar Company. All opinions are 100% mine.
My family is always looking for new places to camp, hike, and photograph, so earlier this winter we decided to make the 7 hour drive to Big Bend National Park. It’s a huge park, roughly the size of Rhode Island, making it the perfect place to explore for a few days! Our initial plan was to camp in tents, but after realizing the low temperatures would be in the 20’s, we opted for a cute hotel in the mountains. It still felt like we were roughing it though, because our heater didn’t work and there wasn’t a single cell bar for miles!
Since the park was so big, there were plenty of opportunities for hiking, and I think we hiked more than 10 trails! The terrain ranged from basic dirt trails to full on mountains of boulders, which I definitely wasn’t prepared for. One lesson I learned after the first trail was that no matter how short you think the trail will be, always come prepared for a long one! We initially thought this trail would be a quarter mile long, but it ended up being two miles round trip. Not a fun surprise.
After that trail, I started carrying my backpack with me on every hike we made. My backpack staples are two water bottles, a bottle of Benadryl (fun fact, I’m highly allergic to fire ants!), and some easy to pack food. For this trip, my go-to hiking food was a Clif Nut Butter Filled Bar, a new favorite of mine that’s made with delicious creamy peanut, hazelnut or almond butters and is both USDA Organic and non-GMO!
For those of you who haven’t seen my past posts, I’m really big on reading labels and keeping my body clean inside and out, so I always reach for organic and non-GMO versions of food if they’re available. A lot of people are confused about the difference between organic and non-GMO though, so I wanted to clear up some of those confusions.
GMO’s are organisms, like plants and vegetables, that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. This engineering is often used to make foods like corn resistant to chemical herbicides or to produce their own pesticides. There aren’t actually many GMO crops out there, but it’s estimated they’re present in approximately 70 percent of processed foods in supermarkets (source). Why does this matter? Studies show that GMO crops lead to the increased use of toxic chemicals, herbicides and pesticides in conventional farming, elevating the risk of toxin exposure to the general public and especially farming communities.
This obviously isn’t sustainable, which is why people like Kate Geagan, an award-winning dietitian, are helping lead a national conversation that promotes cleaner food choices to support a thriving body and planet. She’s an internationally known author, speaker, consultant and nutrition communications expert, as well as a spokesperson for several global brands in the organic and natural space, and made this graphic to help y’all shop non-GMO!
I learned about the prevalence of GMO’s throughout my diet a couple years ago, and as someone who cares a lot about what goes into my body, I immediately started reaching for organic and non-GMO foods whenever they’re available. The next time you go shopping for groceries, try looking beyond your typical picks and see what non-GMO options are out there! A Clif Bar is an easy and nutritious pick, and it gives me just the right amount of sustained energy to get through a decent hike. My favorite so far is the Coconut Almond Butter!
Aside from having food and water, I definitely recommend wearing actual hiking boots if you’re doing anything more challenging than a flat dirt path. I’ve learned the hard way that sneakers are not suited for hiking up rocky inclines, because they don’t grip the unstable surface well and are prone to slipping. I got my first pair of hiking boots the day before this trip, and I can’t imagine doing some of the trails we went on without them!
Another important staple is some sort of camera. I took almost all of my photos with my phone, which was basically a camera anyway since cell service was nonexistent! I posted a few of my photos on Instagram, and I’ve had to hold myself back from filling my follower’s feeds with more because I took so many. If your hiking an extra long trail, I’d suggest bringing a portable battery, because the last thing you want is for your phone to die before you get to the perfect photo spot!
One of my favorite things about Big Bend is the pure variety of trails and difficulties available. We found one trail with a hot spring at the end, another that led to the edge of the US/Mexico border, and one that had us climb to the perfect photo spot above a river! Unlike Yellowstone, we didn’t have to be on constant alert for bison and bears, although there are supposedly 25 mountain lions throughout the park. The most wildlife we saw was two deer and a couple rabbits!
Trails aside, the entire park is just gorgeous. On most of our off-road drives, we saw less than 5 cars over the course of several hours, so it felt like we had the park to ourselves! If you’ve never been to Texas, it’s pretty uncommon to see anything other than flat land, so to see so many enormous mountains full of all kinds of plants was breathtaking. Sunset took things to another level, and I was so in awe of my surroundings that I didn’t even get a picture of how beautiful the landscape was at that time!
In total we spent three full days at the park, and I think that was the perfect amount to explore the area without getting bored. Overall this trip was the perfect escape from the fall semester, and I’m definitely planning on going back someday. Next trip, Grand Canyon??