Kelty Triptease Lightline

lightline Once I was hiking along with Pinball and we were talking about gear. He boasted that he used Kelty Lightline on his tent. It’s reflective so you don’t trip over your tent lines at night.

I said, I used to use that too until I hiked the Florida Trail and then the hunters that roar through the woods at night shooting at anything that reflects made me change my mind.

Then, one long hard day, we made it to a campground with water. There was a bunch of drunk loud people but we were too beat to carry on further. We both put up our gray tents.

After dark, as I was lying in my tent, I hear a truck and see the red backup lights getting closer to my tent. Then I hear, “Oh fuck! There’s people back there.” Then I saw brake lights glowing through the wall of my tent.

It was probably Pinball’s reflective line that caught his attention and stopped him from backing over us.

Do it yourself binoculars

One time when my son and I were on a hike,  we were lying on a mountain top.   I pointed at a hill off  in the distance and said, “I think there is a cell tower on that hill.”

He took my reading glasses and his glasses and lined up the two pairs of glasses so he was looking through both of them.   Then he moved them closer and further away from each other and closer and further away from his face until the hill came in focus and said, “Yep, it’s a cell tower”.

backwoods binocular (drawing by Laen)

He says,  it’s easiest to start with  both lenses pretty close to your eye, then slowly move them away from your eye.  Depending on the lenses, the first one will probably be 4 inches away from your eye, the second will be 3 inches farther.

He also says if you only have one pair of glasses you can still do it,  if you don’t’ mind popping out one of the lenses.

Stinky hikers that wear scents

stink lines

Stinky hikers don’t bother me; I don’t really notice.  But stinky hikers that try to cover up their stink with deodorants and scents  can make me gag.

Deodorants and scents are for clean people that don’t smell.  When dirty, stinky people try to cover up their stink with scents and deodorants it doesn’t make them smell good, it  amplifies the stink.

If you want to smell better, wash up.

Start early or train late

A lot of hikers start their long hikes very early, with the thought that they will train on the trail.    On the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) that means they may run into snow in the first 150 miles.   Then, many of them start skipping right away, setting the tone for the rest of their hike.

You also don’t heal as well on the trail as you do at home where you can, sleep comfortably, take baths, eat good fresh food, and hydrate well.  The trail has stresses that make it hard to fully rest and recover.

A smarter alternative to starting early is to stay at home for those two or three weeks and do training hikes of 20 miles every other day with a 35-40 lb pack.    Get good rest, eat good food, take baths,  heal and build in a stress free environment.   Then when you hit the trail with your light pack, you will be ready to go.

How to load your kayak by yourself (encore)

This is a reprint of an old blog post but I don’t think it got the recognition it deserved so I’m posting it again.

When I travel around with my kayak on my roof rack and people see the wheels attached, they drive by and give me a thumbs up because  right away they can see my method for loading and unloading my kayak by myself.

kayak loading1. Put a bath mat on back of your vehicle where your kayak will touch it, so that it won’t scratch your car ( the rubber on the back is so it won’t slide of your roof.)

2. Put a V-shaped kayak foam block on each of your roof rack rails.

3. Attach  a wheeled kayak cart to the back of your kayak.

4. Lift  front of kayak up on roof.

5. Go to back of kayak, lift up letting the front of the kayak rest in the V of the foam block, and push on.

6. Leave the wheels attached so they are ready for you to unload again.

To unload:

Grab hold of the back of your kayak and pull it off and down so the back is resting on the wheels.

When the back is resting on the ground on the wheels and the front is resting on the top of the roof rack, go to the front and just lift the front down to the ground.

Now you are ready to wheel your kayak to the water.


IMG_2703Bags organize gear and make it  fast to pack up.  They also make it  easy to know where everything is.    I think they should be different colors.  I like bright colors because they are less likely to get left behind.    I hiked with a guy, for awhile, that thought his should not only be different colors, but different textures as well so he could reach into his pack and just by feel know what bag he was pulling out.

These are my bags.

Clear plastic pack liner:  I stuff my sleeping bag into this because it’s faster and easier than stuffing it into a stuff sack.  It also more evenly fills up the bottom of my pack.

Big red bag is my food bag.

Yellow bag is my clothes bag and also my pillow.

1 or 2 gallon Ziploc is my office:  maps, guide book, pen, cellphone, etc.

Red zippered bag is my ditty bag

I stuff my tent without it’s stuff sack into the big stretchy outside pocket of my pack.  I put the tent stakes  in there too, in a little bag.   That way I don’t need to open my pack to set up my tent and I can pack up everything, pop out of my tent and stuff it into it’s pocket.

When everything is in bags it makes set up and break down of camp easy.   Not to brag or anything but I can set up or break camp in under 4 minutes.

How I hike

I’m not one of those huffing hikers powering down the trail with their trekking poles a flying.

When I hike it’s more like I’m coasting–like I’m just resting on my legs as they move me along.  I pick a nice even easy speed that I can keep up hour after hour day after day.

I don’t carry poles so my hands are free.  I have a beverage in my strap pocket to drink as I go; snacks in my hip belt pocket; I fiddle with my MP3 player listening to music or finding a radio station; I look around at the scenery; I have my GPS in the other strap pocket that I can amuse myself with.    Feels a lot like driving.

A lot of people power past me, especially boy scouts, then 40 minutes later I pass them resting on the side of the trail and I never see them again, but  every once in awhile I get stuck with someone,  or even worst a group of people, who power past me, then they take a break and I past them, then here they come powering up behind me again.  I have had that go on for days—that drives me nuts.    Leapfroggers are the worst.

Trail snack:uncooked ramen

In every town along the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail there is a hiker box.   It’s where hikers put food and items they no longer want to carry so they can share them with other hikers.  Most hiker boxes will have ramen noodles in them.

Even though I don’t carry a stove anymore, I often nab a package of noodles.  I crumble them up into a baggie and sprinkle the flavor packet over them and eat them as a cold trail snack, like chips.

Resting and sleeping with elevated feet

elevated1When I rest or sleep on the trail, I try to keep my feet elevated.    I think it helps them to heal.

Some hikers miss having a chair but I  never do; even when there is a picnic table to sit at, I still lie on the ground with my feet on my pack, because having my feet hanging down below me doesn’t feel like a rest.

sleeping on a slopeAt night I  put my pack under my feet or even better— find a slopped place to sleep and point my feet up hill.

feet elevated against a tree.

When things look bleak…. start singing (loudly and with much enthusiasm)

In the movie Cannibal! The Musical,   a bunch of  guys are lost in the snow without food and they are wondering what they are going to do.  When one of them gleefully shouts, “I know!”  And starts singing the “Let’s build a snowman” song.   One of the other guys finally shoots him and  eats him (illustrating why it’s best to hike alone.)  But the singer had the right idea, because it’s important to keep your attitude up when things look bleak.

Once I was hiking on a reroute in the North Cascades.   It was rainy and cold  and all I had for shoes were sandals.  It was almost dark but I had to keep hiking because I was on a ridge and  there was nowhere to put up my tent.    I also had miscalculated the miles and was about out of food.   Finally I found a place to camp.

The next morning I woke up to snow.   It would snow and then I would drop down in elevation and it would rain and then I would go back up and more snow.   The trail was so muddy and steep in one place I kept slipping and sliding down the hill; I was covered in mud.   I only had about 400 calories to go the next 30-40 miles.   My feet were cold.  The reroute wasn’t well marked and I began to have the sinking feeling that I had missed a turn.   I never stopped singing and smiling that day; if I had known how to tap dance I would have done that too because a bad attitude + a bad situation can quickly send life into a tailspin.

I was belting out show tunes as happily and enthusiastically as I could when I met another hiker.   He looked at me covered in mud,  in my trash bag skirt, my sandals, and my chrome umbrella and  scowled, “What’s with the umbrella!?”

10 before 10 rule

On the trail, If  I can get 10 miles in before 10am I know I  will be set up for a good mileage day.    It is something I  strive for.

Now that I’m off the trail, I have a list of things I’m supposed to do everyday,  I use the 10 before 10 rule there to; I try to get 10 of them completed before 10am and then I know I’m set up for a good day.