My little slice of heaven

1/21/19

The trail
The canyon

My little slice of heaven, right here on our property.

We need to spend a bit of time this spring extending this trail, but I just love to get off the driveway and onto this little single track.

The cares of the world just melt away for a little bit.

It’s wonderful.

-MammaBear

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Persistence

Today was an oopey, gloopey, soupy mess on the trail behind my house.

And to make matters worse, I was still feeling the after-effects of yesterday’s migraine.

But I slid into my muck boots and went out anyway.

It wasn’t a fun walk. Though I did enjoy the beauty around me, most of the time I was wishing I could be back at home laying on the couch.

But I did it anyway.

That’s how you achieve your goals, Ladies and Gents.

Persistence

-MammaBear

Nervicited

I’m excited yet nervous about the idea of spending three weeks on my own.

I’m “nervicited”!

(Thanks Pinkie Pie!)

This article came up on my news feed today.

https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/how-to-start-solo-adventuring?cm_mmc=sm_fb_76514-_-content-_-news_journal-_-soloadventuringtips

As I start planning for my solo-hike of the TRT, this is some good info to keep in mind. I do plan to do some smaller solo trips before then as well.

I can wait!

-MammaBear

How to keep comfortable while hiking when the temps are chilly

I finally got in a 2 mile walk/hike. The kids are at their grandparents’ so I took advantage of not having tagalongs and got in a muscle straining, knee aching walk in the hills near our house. Gaining 300ft in elevation in just over half a mile, and then having to come back down that, can be hard on the knees. But it’s also good training. Especially when you don’t stop every couple hundred feel because the 6 year old is “tired” or wants to follow the coyote tracks.

You can’t see it in a picture, of course, but the wind was blowing pretty hard today, so even though the temperature outside was up to nearly 50° (quickly melting off the 3 inches of snow we got last night), I started out my hike all bundled up, even though I knew better. As I stripped off layer after layer, it got me thinking about how to stay comfortable while hiking when the temperatures are chilly. Thus this post. But there are a bagillion posts out there about what to wear, so I’m just going to go through that really quick and then get into some of the actions you can take to keep comfortable when it’s cold out.

How to Dress for Hiking when the Temps are Chilly

The short answer is: layers!

You’ll want to wear/bring different layers in order to stay comfortable.

Layer 1: base layer

This is the layer closest to your skin (other than under garments) and should be made of a good wicking, fast drying, thin material. When it’s cold out, you do NOT want cotton.

Layer 2: insulation

This “layer” could actually consist of several layers and it’s where most of the warmth comes from. A couple different thicknesses of fleece sweatshirts and/or jackets, vests, etc. will usually fit the bill.

Layer 3: shell

This is the layer that protects you from the elements should they turn nasty. Wind proof, water repellent, etc.

Layer 4: extras

This is things like gloves, a hat, extra socks, etc

Now here’s the thing, if you’re going for a quick walk around your neighborhood or the local nature trail, or even up the logging road behind your house, you can get away with wearing pretty much anything you want. If you get too hot or too cold, well, you’re not that far from home and can get fixed up in a jiffy.

But if you’ll be out for several hours, and especially several days, you don’t want to be miserable, so wear the appropriate layers.

What to DO to stay warm and comfortable while hiking in chilly weather

So here’s the real meat of the issue. We’ve all heard it before, “Layers, layers, layers!”

But it’s what you DO with those layers and how you use them that, as well as a few other actions on the trail, that will help keep you comfortable.

Tip #1: dress according to your expected exertion level

I’m sure we’ve all seen them. The joggers in the neighborhoods or on the trails who are wearing shorts and a t-shirt while the rest of us are shivering in our puffy jackets as we stroll along. It all has to do with exertion.

I said earlier that I “knew better” than to bundle up for the walk. I knew I’d be walking uphill at a fast pace (well faster than usual since no kids were around to slow me down). But I decided to keep on all the layers I was wearing. Which meant that just a short while into the walk, I needed to start taking those layers off. It would have been better had I started out with one or two less layers. I might have been a bit chilly to begin with, but my exertion level would have warmed me up quickly.

Last week when I took my daughters and nieces on a short hike, I knew we would not be walking fast enough to keep me warm, so I wore all my layers (plus had an extra in my pack just in case). Sure enough, I never even took off my hat (usually the first thing to come off when I warm up) that whole trip.

On that same trip, while we were all bundled up, there was a gal out trail running. She was wearing a thin, long sleeve shirt and yoga pants. No other layers of clothes even tied around her waist. She knew when she started out that her jogging would keep her warm.

Tip #2: avoid sweating

Sweat (or any water really) is the great enemy when the temperature is cold out. When you sweat, your clothes get wet and that can mean you get chilled, real fast!

Today, as I trudged up that steep snowy road, I quickly realized I had dressed too warmly as I began to sweat. So I took off a layer. That was ok for a little while, but then I needed to take off another layer. At that point I was wearing a long sleeve, thin polyester base layer shirt, and my insulated work pants. Those pants were waaaay too hot! I would have been much happier with thinner pants. Thus where layers come in, rather than one thick layer. If I had been wearing a couple layers of pants, I would have taken a layer off and been much more comfortable.

As it was, I was close to home, so no worries. And the wind kicked up a bit more and cut right through my thin layer of shirt, cooling me down considerably. And drying the sweat. If I had stayed out much longer, I would have needed to put one of my layers back on. But I probably would have switched it up, putting on just my puffy vest and not my sweatshirt.

By having varying thicknesses and types of layers, you can choose the combination that keeps you warm but not sweating.

Tip #3: bundle up as soon as you stop (or start feeling cold again)

When you stop to rest, it’s usually a good idea to put on one (or more) of those layers that you shed while hiking. When your activity level drops, it easy to almost immediately get too chilled.

Tip #4: use the “extras” when it may not seem intuitive

We usually think of putting on hats and gloves as the final layer after everything else, and often they are. However, they can also be used in conjunction with some of your thinner layers to add some warmth while still letting your core breathe.

It’s not unusual to see hikers wearing a hat and gloves along with a t-shirt or thin, long sleeve base shirt. Keeping your hands warm or your ears from freezing but still keeping your core temperature down (thus less sweating) means doing things a bit unconventional every now and then.

Tip #5: change into dry clothes when needed

Sometimes, despite our best effort, our clothes can become wet. Whether from sweat or rain or snow, or even falling in a creek, wet clothes can literally be a killer if you are in the wilderness for an extended period in cold weather. So, if you’ve done your best, but your clothes have still gotten wet, it is best to get out of them and into dry clothes when you stop, before you get too chilled. Having an extra layer or two in your pack can be the difference between a miserable hike and a comfortable one.

What are some other tips you have to stay comfortable while hiking when the weather is chilly? I’d love to hear them.

Happy hiking!

-MammaBear

Update: I made a video about my layering system the other day. Go check it out on my Youtube channel. https://youtu.be/GTqaP3R74GA

Weekly Hike #1

1/11/19

Well, I tried. I had a great little hike planned for me and the girls today.

We were going to get on the trail by 8:30 so the mud was still frozen, hike 2-3 miles, explore some beautiful areas, and be home by noon.

But at the last minute, I was needed to babysit my 7yo and 4yo nieces. We still went on the hike, and we did get home by noon, but we didn’t get on the trail till 9:30 (so by 10 it was starting to thaw and get pretty mucky), and because of the mud and a bunch of young kids, we only ended up going 1.7 miles round trip.

It was still a fun outing, and all the girls (including me!) loved the area and we had a great time. And there is always next week.

The Journey Begins

January 10, 2019

If you’ve read my About page, you’ll know that I started this blog almost a year ago. Yet this is my first post.

Yeah, not a great track record so far.

I didn’t go on a single real hike in 2018, and only the occasional short walk. Too busy with building the house and family emergencies.

However, I was able to find most of my gear in storage, figured out what I’m gonna need to replace (most of it unfortunately), and even worked on updating my hiking wardrobe.

But, its a new year and I am committed (and slightly terrified that I won’t be ready) and so I have actually finally started training.

So here we go!

I found this little trail journal recently and fell in love with it. I love journalling (shocking, I know) and like to keep records of my hikes, etc.

Today’s entry:

1-10-19

“No challenge is too big for you.”

Gosh it seems like it might be at this time. My legs are weak! They hurt! How can I think I’ll be able to backpack for 3 straight weeks by next year?

By pushing myself and never giving up! I got this! No challenge is too big for me!

Training:

Daily walks: I’ve started my daily walks in the hills near my house. So far, I’m keeping it short, just around a mile or so. I’m not fatiguing my muscles yet, just trying to get my knees used to the ups and downs. I also have been very conscious about using the correct muscles every time I go up or down the garden stairs between the trailer we’re living in and the house we’re building. I’ve had arthritis in my knees for long enough now that I compensate with other muscles when doing stairs and my quads have suffered. And I’ve made a point that every time I go to stand in front of the wood stove to warm up, I’ll do a set of calf raises. As the mile route starts to get too easy, I’ll add on length to where I’m going at least 2 miles every day and then as that gets easier, I’ll add in speed and carrying weight. Eventually my goal is to be able to do a 3 mile hour with a pack on daily.

Weekly hikes: haven’t started these yet, but my goal is to go on hikes each week ranging in the 3-5 mile range to start with. One, so I can take the kids with me, and two, because that’s all I (and they) will be able to handle at first. As we all start out, I’m imagining these outings will take the better part of a day. I could push myself, but then I might not be able to walk the next day, and when you’ve got a house to build, that’s not a good idea. Eventually, we’ll all get stronger and we’ll be able to do the hikes faster and easier. Then we’ll look for longer hikes to do weekly. Eventually, my goal is to be able to easily do 5-10 mile hikes every week.

Monthly outings: as the months progress, I want to then focus on longer hikes once a month, and eventually a few shorter backpacking trips. By late summer we’re hoping to be finished with our house and I can shift my focus to longer trips. My goal by the end of summer/early fall is to go on a week long trip. I haven’t been on one of those since I was a teenager! But this one will depend entirely on timing issues with the house.

So there you have it. The official real start to my Journey to the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

-MamaBear