One of my favorite podcasts is The Joyride Podcast which focuses on women cyclists – and it is awesome. I have been an avid fan of the show since close to the start of the podcast when I binge listed to all the episodes.
I was delighted to be a guest on the show on the first episode of season 3! If you want to listen to me talk about bikes with Cat, the host, check out Episode 31 of The Joyrode Podcast here – or wherever you listen to your podcasts!
So it’s 4:30 am as I’m typing this….I just woke up from a weird/ funny dream.
In the dream JoJo and I were backpacking somewhere and it started to rain like crazy. I pulled out an umbrella (?? I don’t have a backpacking umbrella- I know some people do, but I do not) and try to hold it up over me as I hike along. I couldn’t hold the umbrella over me and use my trekking poles at the same time so I decided to set up camp and wait out the rain.
So you may know that REI has an incredible return policy – they will basically take ANYTHING back as long as you have proof of purchase, the item is in fairly decent condition and it’s within a year since you bought it.
In July I bought a new pair of Merrell hiking boots online because my Keens were pretty worn out. I wore them on a few day hikes and the 30 mile backpacking trip on the Old Loggers Path. The shoes seemed a bit narrow (I do not have wide feet so this seemed strange) but I figured they would stretch out after I broke them in a bit. Well they didn’t – after my trip on the Old Loggers Path, I NEVER had so many blisters on my feet in my life. It was awful – the entire inner sides of BOTH of my feet had massive blisters on them – from the tips of my big toes to my heel. It was nuts – and painful — and coincidentally how I decided on the name of my blog – I said to my family when I was done with the hike “I have never had so many blisters and bug bites in my life!” Then I thought – ‘Hmmm…that’s kinda catchy….sorta gross, but catchy!’ and TA DA! My blog was born!
I have some pretty weird food allergies – carrots and watermelon (actually I’m pretty sure all melons – I don’t really care for them anyway, but I do have a reaction whenever they are mixed into fruit salad.) I just avoid these foods at all costs, especially carrots as they make my throat swell up if I eat enough of them. You never realize how much a particular ingredient is used until you become allergic and have to check EVERYTHING. Carrots are used as a filler in A LOT of different foods – so I just check the ingredients of anything new I try. Try being a vegetarian and going to salad bars, then seeing they use pre packaged mixes that already have carrots in them. They are in a lot of vegetarian foods, some drinks listed as FRUIT juice, and they even use carrots in some energy gels – I’m telling you they show up in the weirdest places!
When you are taking someone backpacking for the first time, you want their experience to be pleasant so that they will want to go again. When I took my friend Laura on her first backpacking trip, it was ANYTHING but pleasant….
I used my Backpacking Pennsylvania book to pick out an easy trail – I decided on the Pinchot Trail in Lackawana State Forest. In the book it was listed as a 24 mile loop hike that is typically done in 2 days. The loop also has a section of trail that goes through the middle in case you need/want to cut your trip short.
We set out in September of 2010 with my trusty side kick at the time Kira. Kira was an adorable dog I adopted from the pound in 2001, she had a few emotional issues as she was abused before I got her, but as long as you played by her rules, she was perfectly fine – more about this later.
Back in 2008, after I saved up and bough some decent gear, I talked my best friend Jen into coming on a backpacking trip with me.
The pack I eventually ended up buying was an Osprey Ariel 75 – since my previous pack seemed to small to carry everything I would need, I was unsure about what size to get so naturally I bought the absolute biggest bag I could find – I figured it would be good to have the extra room and it had a ton of compression straps so that if I didn’t fill it up it wouldn’t be a big deal. Unfortunately what they say is true about packs – if you have the space, you will find something to fill it up with – and boy did I ever. Since this was my 1st backpacking trip I wasn’t sure what I would need – so I brought EVERYTHING, literally! We planned on making it a 3 day/ 2 night trip so I brought a change of clothes for each day plus an extra pair and clothes to sleep in- all were cotton as I didn’t have any moisture wicking clothes. I brought tons of extra batteries as that is what I read online, even though all my gear was new, my pocket rocket backpacking stove to cook food with and 2 fuel canisters as again I read you should bring a spare in case you ran out. I hate to admit I even brought makeup, a razor, 2 books, a deck of cards, a mug, headlamp, flashlight, AND lantern, a pillow, plusthe tent, food, and my sleeping bag – my pack easily weighed 55lbs – if not more. It was packed to the BRIM with things – more than I would need for a WEEK on the trail, but again we had no idea and wanted to be prepared. Jen ended up using the LL BEAN pack that I bought as that was the only spare I had.
So since there is going to be a tropical storm this weekend and our plans were cancelled, I decided I am going to write a short series about some backpacking trips that didn’t go as expected. There has been some VERY interesting mishaps I felt I’d share!
I guess I should start with when I 1st tried to get into backpacking. I’m not sure where I first got the idea to go, but I remember becoming obsessed with it about 10 years ago around about the time I got into hiking – the idea that you could CARRY everything you need to survive a night in the woods was fascinating to me.
I went from a kid who HATED hiking (I would complain and cry the ENTIRE TIME – why can’t I go home and read my book??) to an adult who couldn’t get enough of being outside. I have no idea what happened, but I took every chance I could to go exploring. I CLEARLY remember being a kid and my parents would take me out in my sweatpants with the elastic cuff at the bottom that were about 5″ too short, Keds canvas sneakers, and turtleneck – I would be sweltering to DEATH and they want me to hike up some dumb hill? For what? Hiking to me when I was a kid equaled guaranteed sunburn, bug bites, and poison ivy – and heaven forbid if you got all of these things at the same time – TORTURE!!! The ONLY thing I liked then about being outside was being able to see frogs. I remember standing by a tiny stream of water and seeing a few hopping around and my dad telling me that it’s rare to see frogs because of pollution and stuff – and this was in the 80s!
I spent about an hour and a half searching for this picture – I vividly remember this day:
Tomorrow JoJo and I leave for a 4 day 3 night section hike along the AT and I wanted to share what I will be taking along with me to eat. I plan on eating a big breakfast tomorrow AM before I drive to the trail head.
I have taken my nephew camping since he was 3 – we started out camping in my sisters backyard. Then camped in my back yard. Then he said he wanted to camp in the “deep deep woods” so we spent the night at French Creek State Park. He LOVED IT! When we pulled into our camp site a few wild turkeys were walking around near the fire ring – it was so awesome, but they wandered off fairly quickly. We got the tent set up, made a fire and had a little dinner. He was fascinated by the bathhouse – I remember he went to EVERY stall and pushed on the door and was shocked that there were toilets in all of them. I told him to stand outside the stall so I could see his legs while I went to the bathroom – there were a few other people in the bathhouse drying their hair and brushing their teeth and stuff. I hear my nephew shout “WHO LET THESE SPIDERS IN THIS HOUSE??” I start cracking up laughing – my sister (his mom) is a bit of a neat freak and also his parents are not outdoorsy at all. I say “It’s ok, we’re camping so there’s gonna be spiders and bugs!!” We made some smores – I made the HUGE mistake of letting him eat as many marshmallows as he wanted. OOPS! He had a HUGE bellyache and I felt horrible!
Now that he’s 7 I decided to take him into the REAL “deep deep woods” in early July- a backpacking adventure!! I chose the Morrison trail as there were a few places to camp before you get to the reservoir in case he got too tired to continue and there was supposed to be waterfalls and cool giant boulders along the way. The Morrison Trail in Allegheny National Forest is supposed to be fairly easy as well so I figured we could handle it! Of course I decided to bring JoJo along – am I nuts to bring a hyper kid and a hyper dog backpacking??