Day Trip Preparedness

September has arrived, and with it summer begins its transition into fall. This season has been filled with enourmous amounts of heat (and horrific forest fires), making day hiking a bit more difficult. School is starting for some, and ‘regular’ life and routine have returned. The weather has started to cool, and thus begins one of my favorite times of year; day trip season! I continually re-evaluate my day trip needs, reviewing packlists and current contents of my pack. I would like to share with you a bit of day trip prepardness for those non-camping jaunts into nature.

Day Trip Pack List
Depending on your destination, and the journey to get there, your list may vary. These are some things that I ALWAYS take with me despite where I may end up.

Clothing Items
* Extra socks
* Knit hat (beanie)
* Gloves (the little “magic” gloves will do)
* Jacket/hoodie
* Towel

Food
* Granola bars (I prefer Larabars, very few ingredients and yummy!)
* Nuts. dried fruit. trail mix type items.
* Shot Blocs (for extra electrolytes if needed)
[The above items can be stored in your day pack and changed out as needed since they have a longer shelf life and no need for refrigeration}
* Fresh fruit; mandarin oranges, apples, grapes etc
* String cheese (can go awhile without refrigeration)
* PBJ
* Lots of water

Miscellaneous
* Big black trash bag for setting my stuff on or myself, also works as a rain jacket in a pinch
* Small plastic grocery bags for picking up others trash
* Head lamp/flashlight
* Knife
* Lip balm
* Lotion
* Bug spray
* Sun screen
* Camera
* Notepad and pen

A few of these items may seem frivolous or unnecessary, but in my fairly extensive experience these are must haves for me. I dream fondly of the next adventure to come. I’m sure it will be here sooner than later.

Are there any items that are must haves for you to include? Please remember to pack it in, pack it out, to leave the wilderness better than you found it and to tell someone where you’ll be. Safety is important!

Happy Adventuring!

Coping With the Unexpected

Life has a way of throwing up unforeseen obstacles that must be overcome. This transcends into time in the outdoors. There are some trips, no matter the detailed preparation, that the unexpected creeps up and can whap you in the kisser. One such journey into the forest recently happened to me.

I was planning on spending a few days in the Payette and Boise National Forests, with the intentions of avoiding the traditional holiday campers. I looked back through old trip notes as well, because I also wanted to avoid the Tribal Salmon fishing season. I have entered into this area in the past during fishing time, and was greeted with an overwhelming amount of people, noise and rude behavior. My notes dictated that this particular event was still a couple weeks away. I was in the clear!

For days I was looking forward to campfires, starlit nights and serene hot spring soaks. My food was in order, gear double checked, weather forcast perused and the vehicle had been given the preliminary once over. I was ready. The drive, as usual, was gorgeous. The scent of pine and earth drifted through the open windows. A smile split my face from ear to ear. It was just me, SS and our four legged friend. The trip was lining up for perfection, until we turned onto the forest road of our destination.

This narrow, winding mountain road had turned into L.A. gridlock. Almost every pullout was packed with cars and trucks. Our usual campground was filled beyond capacity. We slowly made our way further down. We found a half full campground! The first night was quite peaceful. There was even a midnight soak to be had.

Upon awaking with the sun, the campground had filled up completely. There were even illegal makeshifts spots created by the creek. I was dumbfounded. The holiday was still 5 days off, how could there be so many people? As we sipped our tea and coffee, the answer was shown to us. Truck after SUV after car rolled by with traditional spear and nets. We had arrived just before salmon fishing started. The signs had not yet been posted when we entered the forest road. Run-off was also early this year so fishing was able to begin sooner. I was almost crushed. There went our peace and quiet. There went our private soaks. There went less stressful driving. We had already paid our camping fees, so we decided to make the best of it.

Up went the privacy shelter, which helped tremendously. The volume of people was not the only issue we faced. Mother Nature decided to be about 15 degrees hotter than the weather man predicted. Now 15* doesn’t sound like much, but when it is 90* as to 75*, with little shade and the creek being bogarted, it’s just plain hot.

Solutions, solutions. The privacy shelter helped with the overfilled campground and provided a little extra shade. We also explored a new trail which we didn’t have to drive to which led to another section of the creek with bountiful trees and a great spot to picnic. The biggest and most important solution, was an attitude adjustment. Sometimes you simply can not predict what is going to happen. During this same trip we experienced a few more unexpected obstacles. However, making up my mind to enjoy my time in the mountains, not letting the unplanned grate my nerves, allowed me to truly experience nature. I still found my moments of tranquility, my moments to reconnect. And I took away a valuable lesson; to cope and adjust are a necessity if one is to adventure.

Taking Out The Trash

Pack it in. Pack it out.

Walking through the forest, tree branches reach above my head creating a canopy of greens and golden hues, sunlight trickles through splattering soft pine needles beneath me. Peace overwhelms my soul, and I inhale deeply. I bend down to capture the fragrance of wild rose. At my feet I see a glitter of something. Curiosity beckons me to reach down…..

The beautiful glimmer was TRASH!   trash

Someone had carelessly tossed their garbage onto the trail. Who do they think is going to pick that up, Mother Nature? She’s not that type of mother.

Garbage mongers are NOT my friends. It is all really quite simple, pack it in, pack it out. Here are some easy tips to help in this task:

* For backpacking and hiking; carry a gallon size, freezer-duty ziploc baggie with you. This confines all your trash into one spot and contains the gooeyness. The baggie also makes for easy disposal when reaching civilization again.

* Have a dedicated stuff sack for your “trash baggie”. This helps even further in separating the garbage from everything else in your pack.

* While on the trail I use the mesh pocket in my hip belt to stuff any wrappers I may need to discard of later.

* For car camping, the gallon baggie trick works great as well. Or, we usually have a dedicated sack for trash, sometimes a few depending on how long we’re gone.

Try to remember when backpacking, or camping, to remove as much packaging as possible before heading out. This makes everything easier.

Thank you to those eco-warriors that pick up other’s trash. This is a beautiful world. It can be even better if we all work together.

~In Peace

Keeping Warm While Snoozing In The Outdoors

Snow has piled up outside, threatening to keep us from venturing outdoors. Now spring is tentatively peaking its head out, like a timid deer. Most of our winter activities are still in full swing, but my mind is wandering to warmer temperatures.

This poses the question to me, as it does every turn of the season; How do I stay warm in my sleeping bag?ss850146

There are many things we can do to aid our warmth and make our night times more comfortable. Keep in mind that there is no substitute for a quality sleeping bag. Evaluate your personal needs and when/where you’ll be sharing Mother Nature. Sleep rejuvenates us for the next day, the next hike and grand adventure. Without a good night’s sleep the next day won’t be as wonderful as it could be.

  • Before heading to bed, get your circulation flowing a bit. Do some calming yoga or march in place. This will raise your body temperature, and your sleeping bag will trap this heat.
  • Fluff your bag before climbing in, which allows for the insulation to be more evenly distributed, and it’s fun. Down bags definitely require this as the loft can get scrunched in the stuff sack.
  • Change your socks. Clean socks are more conducive to warmth and don’t stink it up. I have a pair of wool socks that are designated specifically for sleeping.
  • If you’re especially cold wear a pair of glove liners or a knit hat. I’ve been known to wear my knittie on many trips. Summers in the North West can have cold wet nights that seep into your bones.
  • Insulation beneath you is immensely important. The ground is cold and seems to radiate its iciness. A tarp under your tent and a sleeping pad will make a huge difference.
  • Other things to keep in mind: don’t go to bed on an empty stomach. A warm belly equals a warm body. The extra fuel will help maintain body temp, as will staying hydrated.
  • Use the bathroom before bed. It takes a lot of energy to keep urine warm that could be used to keep you warm. Having to crawl out of your sleeping bag and tent to stumble around in the dark is not a fun part of camping, plus you lose all that hard earned heat.
  • Stuff a jacket/sweater or extra clothes into the bottom of your bag if there’s room. The less space there is to heat, the warmer you’ll stay. I’ve discovered when doing this I put my feet on top of the extra clothes and my toes feel much cozier.

We are all built differently. Typically women are colder than men. I am a very cold sleeper, so I use all of these tactics. You may only need some or none of them.

As you climb into your sleeping bag after an evening of star gazing and campfire conversation, know your dreams will be sweeter.

See you on the trail!

Fall Hiking Tips for the Wild Outdoor Woman

Autumn has begun to set upon us turning the outdoors into a new world. Leaves are shedding their greens for hues of golds and reds. Slowly they’ll fall to the ground and temperatures will begin to drop. Fortunately, this does not signal the end of hiking season. Fall is my favorite time of year to grab the camera and head for the hills, or the desert. Here are a few tips to make the trip even more enjoyable.

* Layers are a must! Cooler mornings still lead to warm afternoons. It is important to stay comfortable. By using a polypro, fleece, and rain shell you’ll be doing fine!

* An early start will let you get the most out of your day. Sunset creeps up on us much sooner this time of year.

* Be prepared, have proper gear. Rain, snow, heat, Mother Nature can throw anything at you.

* Sun screen and sunglasses are still important, any time of year. Just because you’re not hot doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining down on you.

* Snacks are a must! Trailmix, jerky, whatever your favorite, keeping up your energy makes for a longer hike. This includes staying hydrated.

* Be spontaneous! Nothing is better than a spur of the moment jaunt outdoors.

* Be respectful, as always, of where you’re traveling.

* Bring a friend. Lone hiking is wonderful, but sharing it can be just as joyous.

There are many other things you can do to make your outdoor adventure more enjoyable. These will help you get on your way.