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Camping made easy, with rentals sent to your door

A chalked sidewalk illustrating a few of the sights you can see on your L.A. stroll.
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

Design and illustrations by Micah Fluellen

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Feeling bored with your pandemic summer routine? Take a walk in L.A. on one of 57 routes, join a national night of camping out, and work on making your garden more fruity. Not bad options for the dog days of summer. Read on ...

Paul Haddad, author of "10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.," in Elysian Park.
(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times)
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1. Switch up your neighborhood walk. I love it when someone takes me on their favorite L.A. walk. It gives me a chance to learn a route that’s guided by their personal passions. Paul Haddad gathered 57 of his faves — some in pretty places, some on gritty streets — in the latest edition of his book “10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.”

Haddad mines what he calls “little treasures” on each route he writes about, all the while keeping you on track with your fitness goals. The walks are mostly flat and may make for good scavenger hunts for kids (Who can find the Rattlesnake Wall in Studio City or the Helmsman statue in Marina del Rey?). And they’re original, created mostly by his meanderings.

“I believe there’s no greater walkable metropolis than Los Angeles,” Haddad writes in the book. That’s a bold statement given Southern California’s car-centric rep. But I agree. The Mediterranean climate and topography — equal parts mountains and coastline — make it foot-friendly any time of the year. I recently met with the author for a ramble in Elysian Park West (Walk 7) and discovered landmarks I never knew existed. Here’s what happened.

Sleep under the stars graphic
(Eddie Bauer)
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2. Plan a solidarity campout with people from all over. How do you celebrate 100 years in the outdoors without going outdoors? Eddie Bauer figured it out after the coronavirus pandemic pretty much trashed plans for its big centennial year.

Instead of in-person camping and hiking events, the Bellevue, Wash.-based company has bounced back with a Sleep Under the Stars event Aug. 8 in which anyone anywhere can participate. The idea? “Have a little fun in the summer and get outdoors, whether on your patio or in the wilderness,” president Damien Huang told me. It’s a chance to shake out your gear and set up your tent, wherever you are.

RSVP on Facebook and follow Eddie Bauer on Instagram to find camping tips, giveaways and Outdoor Curious videos made by pros who answer your questions about their outdoor passions (my favorite so far is alpine climbing guide Adrian Ballinger explaining everything you want to know about 26,000-foot peaks). Can’t see the stars where you are? Eddie Bauer’s cool Instagram filter puts you in the mountains under a starry night sky.

Organic gardener Rishi Kumar.
Organic gardener Rishi Kumar.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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3. Rethink your lawn and make room for these two plants. “I think gardening is a very powerful form of therapy,” self-taught Pomona gardener Rishi Kumar says. But that’s not the only reason to dig in. Ditching your lawn and replacing it with fruit trees and vegetables (as Kumar did) brings fresh ideas to your yard and fresh food to the table.

The 31-year-old offers online gardening lessons and invites others to see how it’s done at his Sarvodaya Farms in Pomona. What two things does Kumar want you to plant right now? African blue basil and California native milkweed. Read why in Jill R. Shah’s story in our new Plant PPL series.

The must-read

Full bladders, closed bathrooms. Strategies for peeing while out during coronavirus
(Ari Liloan / For The Times)

For once, it may be easier to pee outside than inside. Restrooms at Starbucks, restaurants and gas stations are pretty much closed, so my colleague Jeanette Marantos took on the difficult quandary of “what to do when you have to go” during the pandemic.

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“The problem comes at a time when, for many of us, taking a drive seems like the last fun, safe, socially distanced thing we can do these days to get out of the house,” she writes. “But any drive that takes us too far from home leads right back to the problem at hand: where to go when nature calls.”

Suggestions: Keep a urinal (for men) and “pee funnels” (for women) in the car — they also work well on the trail. You can expect state-maintained restrooms on major highways and freeways to be open if you’re on the road. Read more tips on how to survive the pandemic without public restrooms.

Wild things

Bears picking through campers' backpacks
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

First aggressive bees temporarily closed a few campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park. Now bears stealing food from backpacks have shut some back-country camping spots at Lassen National Park, about 180 miles north of Sacramento. “Since the bear(s) are seeking human food, be especially vigilant in keeping your pack within arm’s reach at all times,” the park warned backpackers on its Facebook page. If you’re planning to go, check the map of what’s closed.

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It’s not the bears’ fault; they have super-snouts that can sniff way better than humans. That’s why campers should store food or other items with an odor (toothpaste, suntan lotion, etc.) in bear canisters or bear boxes. In other words, teach the humans, not the bears, how to behave in the woods.

Insider tip

Camping gear you can rent at Arrive Outdoors.
(Arrive Outdoors)

Want to try camping but don’t have the gear? Arrive Outdoors has your back. The Southern California company rents tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, lanterns, chairs, hammocks and more. Here’s how it works: They ship you the gear, you use it and then drop it off at a FedEx site to return it.

If you don’t know what you need to bring, choose the car camping set for two ($167, which includes free shipping both ways) for a weekend trip. “The gear in that set retails for almost $1,700,” says Arrive Outdoors cofounder and Chief Executive Rachelle Snyder. And that’s the point: Casual campers and beginners who aren’t what Snyder calls “gear-owning enthusiasts” can take quality tents and bags into the great outdoors at an affordable price.

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Business has been booming in the last few months, Snyder says, adding that the company has stepped up cleaning and laundering items between uses because of the pandemic. You can make free gear reservations online and call (213) 559-2482 with questions on how to pitch a tent, make a camping reservation or anything else.

Send us your thoughts

What do you think? Keep the comments coming. Share anything that’s on your mind. The Wild is written for you and delivered to your inbox for free. Drop us a line at TheWild@latimes.com.

Click here to view the web version of this newsletter and share with others. I’m Mary Forgione and I write The Wild. I’ve been exploring trails and open spaces in Southern California for four decades.

Mary Forgione
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