John Muir Trail Updates It has been a while since I have sent out a newsletter and thought it was a good time to do so. As June quickly comes to an end and July 8th quickly approaches. On July 8th I will be flying from Kansas City to Seattle Washington where I will meet up with Paul Osborn aka @bcoutdoor (on Twitter). We will be driving from Seattle to Merced California and then hopping a shuttle to Yosemite National Park. The morning of the 9th we will be setting out on our 2013 John Muir Trail thru-hike. We have our permits, food drops, and route all set. We are going out a few days earlier than the rest of the crew to hike twenty or so miles to the Tuolumne Meadows area. I am sad to say that David Creech aka @DavidECreech (on twitter) has been forced to back out of the trip due to a injury. A huge disappointment to all of us. He and his wife are going to try to meet up with us on the trail. Everything depends on what the doctors allow him to do. I hope we do get to see him out there but at the same time he needs to get that foot healed so that he can attend the Columiba #omniten Rouge River adventure.
#OmniTen Updates In late April I announced that I had been honored with being chosen as one of 10 bloggers by Columbia to take part in an epic adventure sponsored by Columbia Sportswear. If you missed that announcement you can read it here. The #omniten crew recently found out that we are being sent to Oregon to go white water rafting on the Rogue River to do some gear testing. We will be doing this in mid to late August so keep on the lookout for more #omniten posts and keep up with what is going on by following the #omniten hashtag on twitter.
Other Outdoor News Recently I launched a new project called Social Media Outdoors. A blog in which I share tips tricks and information about social media as it pertains to the outdoor sector. I have a passion for both social media and the outdoors and felt that blogging about social media on Hiking The Trail was not what my readers would want and instead created the new site. If you are a blogger or have an interest in social media please check it out. To keep up with my posts you can also follow Social Media Outdoors on Twitter and Facebook.
A lot of weekend warriors stow their survival gear in an emergency kit and think they’re ready for anything. But, over time, your gear will need to be maintained, and possibly replaced, to keep it working in top condition. This article looks at common things that need to be replaced regularly in your survival kit, and at tips for maintaining your more permanent supplies.
Store It Well The first thing you should consider about your survival gear is how it is stored, and storage will vary depending on where you live or travel. If you have a kit aboard your fishing boat, for example, that will be different than the one you keep in your car. Wherever you store it, it should be safe from water, heat and insect damage.
Make a Schedule Next, make a schedule for checking your kit. You should check any travel emergency kit before taking any long or potentially hazardous trip. Car and home kits should be checked after having been used or every six months, whichever is sooner. Make a hard and fast rule for your household that any time someone borrows something from your emergency kit, it needs to be replaced or replenished within 24 hours, even if it’s just a bandage or a single flashlight battery. Ideally, no one will borrow anything from a survival kit unless it’s a true emergency, but it’s good to have a procedure to follow, just in case.
Any perishable items in your kit must be replaced periodically, and this includes drinking water if that’s part of your gear. It can help to make a paper checklist that you keep with your kit. On this list include an inventory of all of the items in the kit, the dates that those items were placed in the kit, and the expiration date or date of next servicing. For example, some painkillers and other medicine in the first-aid portion of your kit may have a use-by date of only a year or two from when you purchased them. It’s best to make sure that everything in your kit has an expiration date of at least six months in the future and longer if possible. While that’s not to say that a painkiller that is a few days past expiration can’t be taken, the whole point of a survival kit is to help you out in a difficult situation, and making sure that all of your items are current and ready to be used is key.
Replace Batteries and Safeguard Basic Components Batteries are another important point to consider when you overhaul your emergency kit. Unused batteries can hold their charge for months — but do you want to take the risk that your flashlight won’t work just because you didn’t think to change out the batteries on your last check of the emergency kit? And, if you have any lights, satellite phones, radios or other technological items that have in-built batteries that need to be charged, make sure you take note of that as well on your handy emergency checklist.
Knives and fire-making tools are usually listed as the first two components of even the most basic survival kit, and as such, yours should be in tip-top condition. Keep your blades sharp, oil hinges of folding knives, and refill lighter fluids if necessary.
Cordage, straps and buckles are another part of your emergency go-gear that should be checked periodically, even if you haven’t used your kit since you last looked at them. Extreme weather changes, pests like mice or moths and other things out of your control can weaken fibers or corrode metal components.
What Can You Upgrade? Keep an eye out for what you can upgrade. The market for survival gear is constantly changing, with many innovations bringing lighter-weight, smarter gear to be used in emergencies. Just because you bought something 10 years ago and it still works fine doesn’t mean that there’s not something better you could get now. For example, can any of the cordage or ropes you have in your existing kit be replaced with lighter, more versatile paracord? Is there a more nutritious and tasty alternative to the energy bars you last packed? Being aware of advances on the market now might make a tangible difference in an emergency later.
Getting lost is not always a bad thing. There are some times where getting lost can be very dangerous and not recommended however some times getting lost can be good. There are two types of getting lost while on the trail. The first type is that of getting turned around or unable to find the correct trail. The second is getting lost in your head.
How is getting lost on the trail good? Even if you just hike the wrong way down the trail or end up somewhere your not supposed to be keeps you on your toes. So many times while hiking long distances you just point yourself in a direction and go. Face down eyes to the trail just in front of you pounding out the miles. Getting lost reminds you that you are indeed on an adventure and that everything does not always go as planned. The trail has its own agenda for you and will do whatever it can to ruin or destroy the plans you had made. This creates a love hate relationship with the trail. You love the trail but you hate the fact you know it will change your plans.
These types of changes, distractions, or sidetracks do not have to be bad. Many of them if looked at as positive events they can be an amazing part of your story. If you choose to look at them in a negative way then they will drag you down. If we were to take a poll and ask people who have hiked on any of the long distance trails if they have ever gone the wrong way you will find a high percentage have. More often than not they are lost inside their head when they miss a blaze or get turned around after stopping for a break. Other cases of getting lost can be the cause of fatigue or dehydration. Often times after getting lost or turned around can be laughed off. Other times serious emergencies happen and people get pulled off the mountains.
There were several times while on the AT I had to reassess the situation and my bearings before heading off on the trail again because the trail looked identical to the trail I had been hiking on causing deja vu moments. “I just crossed this bridge…. no I think its another one… just keep going eventually you will find a blaze….” One thing I will say is if you ever feel you have missed a blaze on a trail or think you have gone off trail look behind you. More times than not I would miss a blaze in front of me and turn around and there was one right behind me. Another fun tip about trail hiking is that you should always turn the direction you turned into the camp to continue on the trail. For example if you turned left to get to the campsite or shelter turn left onto the trail when you are ready to leave. Unless you are headed back in the direction you came.
The deja vu moments for myself were typically caused by day dreaming or getting lost inside my head. On long distance hikes you begin to hike the trails of your mind while hiking the trail. As you put one foot in front of the other the monotony of doing the same task eight hours each day causes you to begin to think about anything and everything. You think about your past your future and everything in-between. There are some points where you slip away from it all and then return. Its very similar to driving the same route often enough that you blink and you have some how missed a whole section of the road and you are now many miles away from where you started. In the beginning you will be very worried of where you are placing your feet so you are constantly thinking about where to place your feet but eventually you will get lost and then hit a root or rock and you will be instantly brought back to the trail. Getting lost in your mind is a great thing. Helps you clear out the clutter. That is in my opinion one of the greatest things about hiking is to get away from it all and clear out your head.
What do you do if you find yourself getting lost on the trail? What is your best or funniest getting lost story?
The Cairngorms in Winter with Chris Townsend is an amazing video produced and shot by Terry Abraham and Narrated Chris Townsend. A Kickstater crowd funded success story that is a must watch. Brilliant views stunning photography and well narrated. I had never heard of the Cairngorms until I had spoken with Terry about his upcoming video project. He was kind enough to share several early clips of what he had been shooting and I feel in love with the breathtaking scenery. Terry and Chris kept us in huge anticipation of the documentary film and I was incredibly excited when the electronic version was sent out to all of the Kickstarter backers several weeks ago.
Terry and Chris describe the Cairngorms from their Kickstarter as this “The Cairngorms is a magnificent mountain range of huge alpine-arctic plateaux rising above deep cliff-lined corries, high passes and remote lochs. Here is found the largest area of land over 800 metres in Britain and the largest remnants of the ancient Caledonian forest. Most of the area lies in the Cairngorms National Park, at 4528 km² over twice the size of the Lake District National Park in England and Scotland’s other National Park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. The only habitations lie round the edges of the mountain core. This is big country requiring long days and good outdoor skills. The Cairngorms are Britain’s most snowy region and snow can lie long and deep on the mountains. Winter here is harsh but also beautiful and spectacular.”.
The magic of this video is not that of the beautiful sights and scenery but how the documentary is written. It is written and narrated in such a way that we actually see the world through the eyes of Chris Townsend. Chris is a well known and highly respected backpacking, hiking, and backwoods aficionado. His adventure resume alone will have you stunned. With Chris’ knowledge and love for the Cairngorms and Terry’s keen eye a spectacular beautiful documentary was born. A 96 minute eye catching documentary that will have you watching it again and again to make sure you did not miss anything.
In an earlier post I took at the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1. The Fly Creek UL 2 is identical in shape form and function. The only real differences you will notice is the size. The UL 2 gives you a considerable larger living space. The tent was very easy to set up and it did so very quickly. This tent was provided to me on loan from Chris over at TheGearHouse.com. In full disclosure I did not pay for the tents they were loaned to me for testing and then returned shortly after the review.
Tech Specs of the Fly Creek UL 2
Fly Creek UL 2
Fast Fly Weight
6″ x 19″
On the inside there was enough room for myself and all of my gear plus I still had room under the vestibule. This tent was much easier to get into and out of than the UL 1. I was also had more room to change clothes and felt less inclosed like I had in the UL 1. One thing you do get with the larger space and more fabric is more weight. Even then the weight is only an additional 7 oz of total packed weight.
A look at the Inside of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2
Fly Creek UL 2 set up with rain fly.
Overall this was a great small roomy light weight tent that I will be taking with me on my John Muir Trail in July. To learn more about the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 you can visit the Big Agnes Website. Do you have this tent or have you used one before? I would love to hear what you have to say.
Air mattress explodes as you crawl into your sleeping bag long cold sleepless nights. – “You chose to be out here and its better than sitting in a cube”
Sleeping bag zipper breaks and there are several cold sleepless nights -”You are still warm enough not to be in serious danger. You chose to be out here”
Wake up to freezing drizzle and you must continue on. – “LETS DO THIS”
Half way up a massive up and fading fast. – “Just keep hiking …. left foot right foot …. count your steps and rest after 30″
Those were some examples of how I kept myself going during some of the hardest times of my adventure. As long as you can stay positive anything can be accomplished. If you begin to fade into that black hole of negative attitude your mind will tear you apart both physically and mentally. So how do you keep positive even during the hardest times? Each person is different and they have their own techniques. I can not tell you how to do it or even suggest methods because everyone is different. What I can tell you is that everyone goes through these times on the AT. Some have lots of little moments others have several big moments that change their trip completely. None of the items above were huge but put them all together and they can weigh on you heavily.
The toughest time on the trail was the night my tent leaked and I was forced to stand under an awning for hours. At first I was upset and angry my tent had leaked. My feelings then morphed into trying to stay warm and semi dry. Eventually the whole situation became funny. Regardless of the problems at hand it was still better than being stuck in a cube in my past life. Staying positive is mostly about the perspective you look at things with. Just remember “it could always be worse” and “there is someone else worse off than you”.
When planning to go on an backpacking adventure for several months or even several weeks you have to take everything you own and find most near and dear with you. All of that must be placed in your backpack. The challenge is that you can only take what is necessary, what fits, and does not weight a ton. When doing this I began to find that many of my possessions became trivial or not needed and found having less stuff made not only moving easier but my life felt less cluttered. While finding out what was most important to me possessions wise I began to look at things differently. I started to do the same thing with memories emotions and the like. Things that bothered me in the past became trivial and let go. In doing so a clean feeling began to appear. A feeling that plants must feel after a nice gentle rain passes through. (more…)
Recently I had the opportunity to test out the The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 Tent and the bigger brother the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2. The tents were provided to me on loan from Chris over at TheGearHouse.com. In full disclosure I did not pay for the tents they were loaned to me for testing and then returned shortly after the review.
The Fly Creek UL 1 is a great little tent. It sets up and tears down quickly. Weighing in at a packed weight of two pounds three ounces puts this tent at one of the lightest on the market. It packs down into a very small package so you can tuck it away in your pack. One thing I would recommend is to not pack the poles and stakes with the tent when you pack it up in your backpack.
My only issue with the tent is size. I am not a huge person, but found it a little hard to change clothes or maneuver around the inside of the tent without bumping the sides. I had plenty of room to sleep and did not feel claustrophobic once i laid down. I do understand it is a 1 man tent and if you do not mind small spaces you can’t beat the weight of the tent for the space you do get.
Tech Specs of the Fly Creek UL 1
Fly Creek UL1
Fast Fly Weight
View of the inside of the Fly Creek UL 1 with rain fly on and off.
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 set up with rain fly on.
Overall its a great backpacking tent. Sturdy light weight and all around great tent. I would honestly consider purchasing this tent if it had a little bit more room. Do you have this tent or have you used one before?