I didn’t read any of these books. • Photo by Gregory Culmer on Unsplash

In early January 2019, I deleted Instagram from my phone. I felt sick of comparing myself to perfectly posed influencers and flicking through a never ending stream of dog pictures. Most of all, I was tired of wasting time.

Recently, I’d come across the idea of digital declutter through one of my favorite authors, Cal Newport. Newport encourages his readers to delete all ‘optional’ apps (such as social media) and spend a month without them. The goal, as he put it, is to “rediscover which activities and behaviors really provide value in your life, and which are mindless distraction.” …


An easy weekend getaway to the pristine natural coast

Essentials

  • Type of trip: Weekender
  • Drive time from San Francisco: 1.5–2 hours
  • Difficulty and total mileage: 12 miles roundtrip, easy to moderate (there’s also a shorter 4mi RT route from a different starting point)
  • Crowds: Light
  • Temperatures: Generally nice year-round. Temps can range from 70°F daytime to nighttime lows near 50°F. Check the current forecast here.
  • Permits: Required for all overnight backpacking trips. You can reserve a campsite up to 6 months in advance on recreation.gov, or try your luck getting a permit the day-of if any reservations are canceled.
  • Bears/threatening wildlife: No bears, but raccoons and other rodents would love…

A point-to-point trek along Yosemite’s north rim

The view from El Capitan, the halfway point

Essentials

  • Type of trip: Weekender
  • Drive time from San Francisco: 3–4 hours
  • Difficulty and total mileage: 22 miles point to point, very difficult
  • Crowds: Light at the beginning, then heavy from Yosemite Falls to the valley floor
  • Temperatures: Varies with the season; we recommend visiting June–September. Temps can range from 70°F daytime to nighttime lows near 30°F. Check the current forecast here.
  • Permits: Required for all overnight backpacking trips. You can apply to reserve a permit for Old Big Oak Flat in advance online through the National Park Service (NPS). You can also see which trailheads still have permits available here


A challenging hike with sweeping coastal views

The incredible coastal view at the end of the Boronda Trail.

Essentials

  • Type of trip: Weekender
  • Drive time from San Francisco: ~3 hours
  • Difficulty and total mileage: 6.2 miles roundtrip, very difficult. The entire hike is one massive uphill climb.
  • Crowds: Light. It’s a difficult trail, so you’ll see more day hikers than backpackers.
  • Temperatures: This hike has almost no shade along the entire route. We recommend visiting in the spring, when the weather is slightly cooler and the wildflowers will be out. Temps can range from 70°F daytime to nighttime lows near 50°F. Check the current forecast here.
  • Permits: No permits required for camping.
  • Bears/threatening wildlife: No bears, but we did…


An iconic, challenging trek through Yosemite’s high country

Essentials

  • Type of trip: Weekender
  • Drive time from San Francisco: ~3.5–4 hours
  • Difficulty and total mileage: 14.5 miles roundtrip, very difficult. There are multiple stretches of uphill climbs, one of which lasts for an entire mile of relentless switchbacks.
  • Crowds: Moderate. Yosemite always has crowds, and this is one of the more popular trails off of Tioga Road.
  • Temperatures: Varies with the season; we recommend visiting June–September. Temps can range from 70°F daytime to nighttime lows near 30°F. Check the current forecast here.
  • Permits: Required for all overnight backpacking trips. For Clouds Rest, you need a permit for Sunrise Lakes, and…


An intro to the Grant Grove and Cedar Grove Districts

Yes, hello Kings Canyon! This view is on the Mist Falls trail, about 3.5 miles in.

Essentials

  • Type of trip: Weekender (depart Friday after work, return Sunday afternoon)
  • Drive time from San Francisco: ~4–4.5 hours to the park entrance, an additional 30–45 minutes to Cedar Grove/Road’s End.
  • Difficulty and total mileage: Varies. Kings Canyon is a large national park with multiple districts. This post focuses on Grant Grove and Cedar Grove, the two districts closest to SF.
  • Crowds: We visited the park in early June and saw light crowds.
  • Temperatures: Varies with season; we recommend visiting May–September after the snow melts. Expect daytime temps around 70°F and lows near 50°F. …


The most underrated trail in one of America’s most treasured national parks

Enjoy one of the most glorious sunset of your life from your camp at North Dome.

Essentials

  • Type of trip: Weekender
  • Drive time from San Francisco: ~3.5–4 hours
  • Difficulty and total mileage: 8.8 miles roundtrip, moderate difficulty. The trail is fairly flat, so this is a great intro backpacking trip.
  • Crowds: Light to moderate. It’s Yosemite, so there’s always going to be at least some crowds, but they’re nothing compared to the Yosemite Valley.
  • Temperatures: Varies with season; we recommend visiting May–September after the snow melts. Expect daytime temps around 70°F and lows near 50°F. Check the current forecast here.
  • Permits: Required for all overnight backpacking trips. You can apply to reserve a permit in advance online…


A spontaneous weekend trip to one of California’s nine National Parks.

Nick and I hit the road around 5pm, heading south on the 101. I was excited. We’d both lived in the Bay Area for the better part of a year, yet we’d never ventured more than two hours away from the city. California’s vast wilderness lay waiting, endless miles of beautiful landscapes and marvelous mountains for us to explore.

Under normal conditions, driving to Kings Canyon should take around 4 hours, but rush hour traffic threatened our speedy getaway. The cars heading out of San Jose ran bumper to bumper, crawling for miles at a time. Traffic would break just…


Every week I’ll post a few examples of good, bad, and questionable design picked from apps and websites I use everyday.

The Good

Kayak’s improved calendar feature makes it easy to tell at a glance when fares are the cheapest.

Kayak
It’s that time of the year! I’ve been browsing for deals on holiday travel, and was delighted to see that Kayak has added a small but important feature. When selecting travel dates, the calendar view shows you which dates have good rates, as indicated by the small green dot. Super handy! Most of my travel dates are relatively flexible, so knowing that traveling on a Thursday instead of a Friday is really helpful. …


Why three little lines are hurting your UX

Oh, the hamburger menu.

Recently, I was reviewing my work on a mobile app with another designer, when he asked me why I didn’t use a hamburger menu for the app’s main navigation.

The question caught me off guard. I paused for a second as I asked myself, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ It almost felt like a trick question. I briefly explained that the hamburger menu obscured navigation and made it harder for users to find what they’re looking for. For the specific app I was working on, the content was not complex enough to warrant a hamburger menu.

After this conversation, I…

Fiona Foster

User Experience Designer

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