Big turkey, no. Outdoor yoga at a cemetery? Yes

Kimmy Fasani and Chris Benchetler.
(Collin Harrington; illustration by Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

By Mary Forgione
Design and illustrations by Micah Fluellen

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Most California ski resorts are open, from Southern California to Lake Tahoe. Resorts have imposed new COVID-19 rules: no walk-up ticket sales, social distancing and masks required, etc. Here’s what pandemic-era skiing and snowboarding will look like. Resorts are reducing the number of tickets they sell — so be aware that you may get shut out on popular dates. (Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes is sold out Thursday and Friday.)


But what about après fun?

Scale back thoughts about beer bashes and hot tub parties; those won’t be happening during the pandemic. That leaves you to create your own après-ski party. Pro snowboarder Kimmy Fasani and her pro skier husband, Chris Benchetler, shared their tips on how to kick back and soak up your day of fun, #vanlife style.

  • “You need a way to keep your equipment dry and toasty after a day on the hill. We do this by extending a heating duct/tube from the car’s heat vent inside a Dakine wet/dry duffle bag to dry your boots, goggles, gloves for later or the next day.”
  • “Taking your ski or snowboard boots off after a long day on the hill is a great feeling. Take that little moment of nirvana to the next level with a pair of down booties to keep your feet warm while hanging out. Sort of like house slippers but for the great outdoors.”
  • “Stocking a cooler with your favorite après beverage is a must. Juneshine, a locally made [San Diego] hard kombucha, is our go-to.”
  • “A camp stove is crucial, but you can take ordinary things to the next level by adding an aluminum stovetop sandwich press/waffle maker to your kit. It turns an ordinary PB&J into a delightfully gooey, warm treat. Nutrition bars are also a part of life on the road, perfect for that extra bit of fuel. Try heating up Clif Nut Butter Bars using the press or waffle maker. They taste like fresh baked cookies.”
  • “We also keep a milk frother on hand. It’s the perfect way to add some texture and decadence to your morning coffee. More important though, it’s the best way to make hot cocoa. And hot cocoa is the best way to make kiddos happy.”
  • “Finally, we keep watercolors and art supplies for Chris and our son, Koa, to paint. It’s a great way to wrap up the day.”

4 things to do this week

Take a hike this Thanksgiving weekend.
(Getty Images; Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

1. Forget about shopping on Black Friday. Here are nine hikes to do instead. For the last six years REI has closed its stores on Black Friday and asked Americans to #optoutside and go hiking instead of indulging in the post-holiday shopping frenzy. This pandemic year is no different. I think it’s a great idea too. Take an easy waterfall hike in a woodsy canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains or a tough route up Tahquitz Peak near Idyllwild. Outdoor writer Jordan Rane picked these hikes to brighten your Thanksgiving weekend — or any day. Read the full story here.

An owl sits on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey fire approached in 2018.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

2. Join a talk with an ecologist and wildlife expert about the aftermath of the Woolsey fire. Two years ago the Woolsey fire burned through 97,000 acres from the Thousand Oaks, Oak Park and Agoura Hills areas to Malibu. Much of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was scorched in the blaze. Join a free virtual conversation, “The Woolsey Fire Two Years Later,” with National Park Service restoration ecologist Joseph Algiers and wildlife expert Seth Riley. The session may have much to teach us about how we cope after devastating wildfires. The talk is sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Assn. Sign up here for the 10 a.m. Tuesday event.

Family Hike-a-thon
(Trails for Kids)

3. Take your kids on a hike-a-thon to support children in foster care. The pandemic keeps us from getting together, but it won’t stop us from keeping up healthy habits and supporting charities. Happy Trails for Kids in Santa Monica provides overnight camping and other outdoor activities for children in foster care.

All are invited to participate in the nonprofit’s hike-a-thon Dec. 4-6. Register as an individual or team, set a donation goal, raise money and hike your favorite trail, park path, treadmill, whatever. Here’s an idea: Let your kids pick the route — and make sure they understand why you’re doing it. The idea is to move and give; hashtag your social media photos with #WhyIHike. Register here.

Coast Film Fest
(Ashley Barker Photography)

4. Spend Thanksgiving at home watching the Coast Film Fest. Need an at-home outdoors boost over the holiday weekend? The in-person Coast Film Fest in Laguna Beach took place in mid-November. Now the fest’s 55 short films as well as Q&As with filmmakers and athletes are available on-demand until Sunday.

You can sign up for blocks of short films ($15) on topics such as “Our Public Lands,” “Healed by Nature” and “Wanderlust” or an all-access pass ($75) to see all festival happenings. It’s an easy way to bring a shot of nature and outdoor sports into your living room. Check out films and tickets here.

Social moment

The shift of colors in a sunset on New Year's Day, as seen in San Pedro, on Jan. 1, 2020.
(Mary Forgione)

On New Year’s Day, I gawked at the last remnants of sunset in my San Pedro neighborhood. The sky turned from purplish pink to orangey pink in seconds. I did some digging and learned that winter sunsets really are more spectacular than those at other times of the year. “It’s different types of scattering, reflection and refraction of light,” Stephen LaDochy, who teaches meteorology and climatology at Cal State Los Angeles, told me at the time. Lower humidity and cleaner air, especially after rainstorms, help make colors seem more vivid. Check out our Twitter moment on winter sunsets — and show us yours.

Insider tip

Camping reservations open Saturday for Memorial Day campgrounds.
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

What are you planning to do Memorial Day weekend? If you’re thinking about camping, mark your calendar for Saturday. Campsite reservations at California state parks, national forests and national parks open six months before the date you want to go — which means Saturday will be the day to go online and snag a campsite for May 28. Looking for a spot at Channel Islands or Yosemite as well as many Eastern Sierra and local national forests? Reservations open 7 a.m. Saturday at Same goes for California state parks, such as Pfeiffer Big Sur in Big Sur and Henry Cowell Redwoods in Felton. Reservations for Memorial Day weekend open at 8 a.m. Saturday at ReserveCalifornia. Get online early because popular places, such as the cottages at Crystal Cove State Beach, sell out quickly. One caveat: Even if you get a reservation, campground status (whether they are open or closed) may be affected if the pandemic is still going strong in May.

The must-read

Paramahansa Yogananda with monastic disciples and students at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles in 1937.
Paramahansa Yogananda with monastic disciples and students at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles on New Year’s Day 1937.
(From Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles)

Yoga lovers, strike a tree pose in honor of Paramahansa Yogananda, who’s credited with bringing yoga and spiritual enlightenment to L.A. a century ago. Hindu philosophy in the U.S. dates back earlier than 100 years; John Adams and Thomas Jefferson exchanged letters about reading up on such beliefs. Yogananda’s autobiography and huge following advanced his teachings about the meditative and spiritual side of yoga, which may be somewhat lost amid modern-day mats and classes. Still, his influence is indisputable. Read the full story about his life and why he chose L.A. to be a spiritual center.

Looking for a yoga class on Thanksgiving Day? Hollywood Forever Cemetery is planning an hourlong kundalini yoga and meditation class at 9 a.m. on its Fairbanks Lawn (pay by donation). Find out what else is open on the holiday here.

Last word

Alex Trebek
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

Still miss Alex Trebek? There’s a place to visit in the Hollywood Hills that may offer comfort. Twenty years ago, the “Jeopardy” host, who died Nov. 9, donated 62 acres of green space just west of Runyon Canyon Park to be preserved. It’s called the Trebek Open Space and makes a nice little three-mile hike. Maybe bring some trivia questions to ponder while you look at the city. Modern Hiker’s Casey Schreiner takes you there step-by-step in this story.

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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