I strapped on my running shoes this morning. Feeling my feet on the pavement and finding the trail has helped bring me peace. It is a time where I can focus solely on myself; on my body and mind with no other distractions.
When I was a teenager my mom wrote a story about me. It was about the different shoes I’ve worn throughout my lifetime. I had my baby shoes, dancing shoes, running shoes; all figuratively speaking. She used my shoes as a description to show how I have grown to be strong and independent, how through each stage of my life I have changed my shoes in order to face whatever challenges have crossed my way. Even now when I read that story it evokes very strong emotion within me, and reminds me that I can overcome anything.
I’ve never been a “runner” per-say. I’ve always preferred my hiking boots until recently. With the new challenges that I have faced in the last six months, since the diagnosis, I have changed my shoes once again. My hiking boots will not get dusty. In fact they are still well used. But my running shoes are helping me cope. They are enabling me to become stronger mentally and physically.
This is what I need for now. I am trying to listen to my body, to take the advice that I so easily dole out to others. In times of stress and trauma it is very important to take care of oneself, to not let yourself fall by the wayside. For now my Mom is growing stronger, but she still has her bad days. We are not sure what the outcome will be. I am taking it all one day at a time, and today I strapped on my running shoes.
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?
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.
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.