Bear Creek Outdoor Living Newsletter

Bringing the Outdoors to You

Big Rocks First and Get Out on the Trails

We aren’t talking about paver patios or outdoor living spaces when we think about Big Rocks First.

Developed by Stephen Covey, Big Rocks First, is a leadership principle and life habit that emphasizes how we manage our time based on our priorities and values. If you think of life as a jar that has finite space to be filled, the big rocks represent the things that are most important to you. They are priorities; things like your relationships with friends and family, your health/sleep, your faith or spirituality, and your job or livelihood, etc.

Smaller rocks represent hobbies or passion projects, they are important, but not completely necessary. Next comes the sand, to fill around all the rocks. The sand constitutes leisure activities like watching TV, scrolling social media or happy hours and nights out, etc. These are bonus things that while enjoyable, are not critical for survival or fulfillment.

Put the big rocks in first. Once you’ve put the big rocks in the jar, then you can add smaller rocks and sand until the jar is full.

Everyone’s big rocks, smaller rocks and sand will be different based on your priorities and values, but no matter what your priorities are the big rocks must go in first and then the smaller rocks and sand fill in around them, otherwise the big rocks won’t fit.

The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. There are so many things that are daily vying for our time and attention, scheduling our priorities helps us buffer distractions and actively spend our lives and time doing what matters most to us.

Make Your own Trail Mix

Making your own trail mix is very easy and can be a lot of fun to try new combinations. You can go for a sweet mix or a savory. Use your own individual sandwich baggies and everyone can get exactly what they want. The possibilities are endless!


Nuts are a powerhouse staple for trail mixes. They are nutrient dense, but also add the calories you need to sustain your energy. Their healthful unsaturated fats will also help you feel full. Look for raw and unsalted options if you don’t want the other ingredients in your mix to be oily or salty. Almonds and peanuts are great staple options. Cashews and pistachios add a bit richer flavor. Pecans and walnuts are super heart healthy with lots of healthy fats. Macadamia nuts can add a special flair, especially with tropical fruits.

Seeds have similar nutrients to nuts, but can bring along some great vitamins and minerals, such as iron and magnesium. They are also a great option for people allergic to nuts or if you are just looking to add some variety. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are easy to find options.

To add a bit of natural sweetness, dried fruits are a great addition. Dried fruits can also have plenty of fiber and antioxidants. Raisins are the old standby when it comes to trail mixes. They are after all, nature’s candy. They come in both red and golden options. Craisins are also readily available and add a little tart with the sweet. Apricots, dried apples, or bananas are great depending on your taste and texture desires. You can also look for freeze dried fruit, which is much lighter and has a different texture than dehydrated fruits. Whatever you choose, look for dried fruits with no added sugars to simply rely on the natural sugars of the fruit itself.

Adding a complex carbohydrate can help you feel fuller and give you energy. These can be creative. Cheerios and Chex are common cereal choices. Oatmeal Squares or Cracklin’ Oat Bran are also some healthy cereal options. Popcorn or pretzels are simple and easy. You can add some mini crackers like Goldfish for savory or Teddy Grahams for sweet.

If you have a sweet tooth or just will need a quick boost of energy at some point in your hike, you can add some fun sweet treats. You can add chocolate, in chip form, in a variety of flavors (like butterscotch, peanut butter, etc), but keep in mind that on a hot hike, these may melt. M&Ms are a go-to because with the candy shell, they melt in your mouth and not in your hand. Mini marshmallows are fun for kids and kids at heart. You can also add chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels, nuts, or raisins. You can do carob chips or coconut flakes to add some healthy sweetness.

Sea salt to bring out the natural flavors. Cinnamon and nutmeg for some sweeter flavors. Curry, and cardamom for savory. Ginger and cayenne, if you like a little kick.

A few favorite mixes:


Macadamia nuts
Banana chips
Coconut chips
Dried Apricots
Yogurt covered raisins

Breakfast Mix
Freeze Dried Strawberries
Oatmeal Squares
Yogurt covered raisins

Walking smores
Peanuts or almonds
Teddy Grahams
Mini marshmallows
M&ms or chocolate chips

Mix up your own and tell us your favorites!

If you are looking for an easy hike with a great view and lots of fun, look no further than Blackrock Summit in Shenandoah National Park (parking area near mile market 84).

The summit of the hike is a remarkable rocky talus slope with great views of the Shenandoah Valley. You can enjoy a rest, sitting on the rocks as you take in the stunning view. If you have children or are a kid at heart, enjoy the scramble to the top of the rocks for extra adventure. Use care as you climb, being mindful of one’s capabilities and the security of the rocks.

This western facing summit is also a beautiful sunset hike. On a clear day you can watch the sun dip below the Allegheny Mountains across the valley. Start hiking back to the parking area soon after the sun sets or bring headlamps, if you choose to do a sunset hike.

Don’t let the word summit scare you. The hike is an easy out and back, 1 mile total, if you park at the Blackrock Summit Parking. There are options to park further up at either the Dundo Campground or Browns Gap Parking to make the hike longer. Wherever you park, simply walk southbound on the Appalachian Trail until you come to Blackrock Summit and then head back the way you came.

There is an entrance fee to enter Shenandoah National Park so plan ahead. You can plan your visit on one of the free park days or purchase a reasonably price annual pass for unlimited visits.

Plants and planters can transform your outdoor space!

Plants really are some of the best decor in and of themselves, but what better way to add your own style and flare with unique planter decor. They are not only decorative, but also functional to bring life and nature into your space. Planters come in all shapes, sizes, materials and colors, so they will fit in any style. Plastic, wood, metal, terra-cotta, ceramic and many more, there is sure to be a style that will fit your look and decor perfectly. Using planters creatively can add dimension, color, and fun to any outdoor space.

Some of our favorite ideas for plants and planters:

  • Group your planters together in multiple sizes to create a focal point
  • Decorate your table with small pots or long planters for a simple living centerpiece
  • Add hanging planters to add depth and dimension to your space
  • Planter stands or terraced planters can give height to smaller plants
  • Window box planters can add a charming look to your windows and add to curb appeal

Don’t have a green thumb? You can also add faux plants to your planters for a no maintenance and no worry look that will last the season.

What is your favorite Planter Style? 

Till next time,

Reach out with your questions and we will cover ideas and inspiration for you in our next blog. When you are ready to transform your outdoor living space, we are here to help!

Charlottesville Screen Room and Deck Expansion

This Charlottesville Screen Room and Deck expansion turned out stunning. The screen room was created from an existing covered deck space. Our homeowner opted for a double screen door and the ScreenEZE System for their porch. The project included the demo of the old deck to build a larger expanded deck space. The expansion has nearly doubled their usable deck space and is laid with Fiberon Composite deck boards surrounded by black aluminum railings. They also opted to install stairs to give access to their lower patio and yard. We hope this outdoor living space allows our client to relax in the weather and insect protected space of their screen room and that they can host many friends and family by grilling out in the abundant space of their expanded deck.

Articles written by Natalie Hall. Natalie is Bear Creek’s Marketing Manager. She is passionate about helping people enjoy the outdoors. She is an avid runner and hiker. She loves simple adventures to explore nature with her husband and three children.

Table of Contents