earthtrekblog

Adventures of Life


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Let’s talk gear!

I have spent the past year immersed in the Appalachian Trail (AT), sleeping, breathing, and eating it (no really, I’ve eaten more trail food these past 6 months).  Now I am down to the wire and need to make my final purchases and organize my gear so as not to forget anything.

The official Base Gear!

The official Base Gear!

The first and most important part of my gear is my “Base” gear which includes my pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow.  I feel I’ve done a great job picking what meets my needs and still keeps the weight on the lower end.  It’s challenging to make a choice regarding comfort vs. necessity when you are not yet on the trail.  When it came down to my tent I wanted one which would allow me to store both my pack and my dog inside with me.  I had two tents I was wavering between, the Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2 and the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.  It took me setting them up side by side and crawling around inside of them. Thank you once again CrossFit Bona Fide for supporting my hiking habits and providing me with space to test out my gear!

It's a 1 1/2 Person tent!!!

It’s a 1 1/2 Person tent!!!

The SuperMega UL2 was VERY cozy and very light, at 2 lbs 11 oz.  As you can see here there is room for my sleeping pad with my pack stuffed in alongside down at my feet and if Star doesn’t mind snuggling there is puppy room right at the entrance.  I climbed in and tested out the height, at 5’10” I had about an inch clearance while sitting on my sleeping pad, this was a good start.  I went ahead and stretched out and as I lay there debating all the pros and cons. Having not tried the other tent I realized I wasn’t doing much comparison and decided to rectify the situation immediately.  Feeling like a modern day outdoorsy version of Goldilocks I scrambled out of the tent.  I grabbed my gear and moved next door into the Hubba Hubba.   As I crawled in the enduring words of Goldilocks went through my mind “that’s just right!”  I had moved into a yacht of a tent, there was room to stretch out and move about.  My bag was no longer crushed between my feet and the tent wall and Star would even have room to stretch out into her favorite pretzel position for sleeping.  After about a minute of contemplation upon my green mat of unlimited possibilities I decided I wanted the yacht over the canoe.

So much space!!!

So much space!!!

Next on my list of gear is my kitchen supplies, which are still lacking (need to get out and buy a PocketRocket and a titanium spoon), BUT I am excited to say I tried out a new toy today and it works perfectly!

Pot, bear bag, water bladder, freezer bag cozy, and Nalgene storage.

Pot, bear bag, water bladder, freezer bag cozy, and Nalgene storage.

Today I used my freezer bag cozy!  I ordered this simple cozy from a fellow hiker, I have heard so many great things about cooking with this method on the trail.  You take your dehydrated food put it in a freezer bag, pour hot (not boiling) water over your food, seal up the bag and close the cozy over it.  Let it “cook” for 15-20 minutes and your meal is done!  You eat it right out of the bag meaning you have no dishes and you just need to dispose of the Ziploc when you hit a town.

Food is in the cozy ready for eating!

Food is in the cozy ready for eating!

The idea behind freezer bag food is you just dehydrate whatever complete meal you want and pack it away until you’re ready to rehydrate.

Rehydrated dahl mixed with rice

Rehydrated dahl mixed with rice

My roommate was home and with very little prompting I convinced her to take this journey with me.  I took my dehydrated leftovers from the night before and placed them in a Ziploc filled with water wrapped in the most awesome pink and black zebra stripped cozy on the east coast.   The red dahl with coconut milk rice was a delicious meal if I must say so myself, one I’d be thrilled to eat on the trail.  My roomie even went so far as to say “I would have NEVER known it was from a dehydrated meal if you hadn’t told me!”

It's important to get out and break in the gear before the big day!

It’s important to get out and break in the gear before the big day!

Because I am responsible for my dog it only seems reasonable that I spend as much money on her as I do myself (I am after all carrying an extra half pound so she can sleep IN the tent with me).  I gave up trying to adapt or modify Star’s pack to be “acceptable” for the trail.  She will be joining me on the trail because I have decided WE are doing it not because she volunteered to come along.  I splurged!  I went online to this awesome small time business called Groundbird Gear (GBG) and ordered a custom made pack for her.  We had more fun measuring and preparing to send out all the info to get this pack put together just for her.

Someone is VERY excited about the measuring process :D

Someone is VERY excited about the measuring process 😀

I couldn’t believe it when less than a week out from our order I was informed the pack was in the mail and on it’s way.  I was a giddy child running out to the porch everyday looking for the box which would contain the goods.  Yesterday was a busy day and I arrived home late and it was by pure chance I glanced down the porch and noticed the small packing envelope sitting by the stoop.  I dashed outside in my socks and grabbed the package barely making it back through the door before I started ripping it apart.  As I drew the harness and pack out I was shocked by how light is was.  It was almost as though I was holding nothing, a big treat for this young lady!  I am in LOVE with the colors!

Burgundy and purple with a splash of orange to fend off the hunters!

Burgundy and purple with a splash of orange to fend off the hunters!

I am so happy I went with this pack system.  I haven’t even gotten a chance to load it up yet but already I feel it is the proper size for her.  The roll top pouches aren’t huge so she will be able to move around comfortably in it.  We are in mid design adaptation as the harness doesn’t fit quite right so it is being sent back for one with a larger chest yolk so as to prevent any chance of chaffing.  It has been very easy to communicate with GBG and figure out what needs to be done so Star can be comfortable.  I will post pictures when we have the full system with a proper fit.

 

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING OUR JOURNEY PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LOOK AT MY Amazon Wish List (HERE).   
I have placed numerous food items on this list as I will be making much of my food over the next couple of weeks.  I will be shipping packages to myself along the trail so I can meet the needs of my dietary restrictions.

 

 

 


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If you build it they will come

I am in the midst of a journey.   But I didn’t get here by myself.  I have been surrounded by some of the most wonderful people, provided opportunities I never expected, along with guidance and support.  This journey is about to take a new direction, I am thrilled for the change and absolutely terrified at the same time.  I will be leaving the safety of my home, my work, and the community of people I have been surrounded by, to drive 2000 miles and walk into the wilderness.
Tonight I was reminded of just how far I have come on my journey.  During my workout at Crossfit Bona Fide (CFBF) my trainer pointed out that I was almost at my “goal.”  Now this may not mean anything to you or even seem like a big deal, it’s just a goal.  But when I realized just WHAT he meant by that I lost ALL focus on the squat I was doing and almost fell over.  My journey at CFBF began in January, I have been attending classes 3-4 times a week.  When I started I could barely manage a squat while using a “stool” to spot my butt so I didn’t fall over backwards (I should have been a pro at these – it’s what they make you do in PT after ACL surgery).  Now, six weeks later, I have lowered my “stool” by 3 inches and cranked out over 90 squats, not yet achieving my goal but getting there.  My “GOAL”, in six weeks when I leave for the trail, is to be doing squats without any form of assistance (the stool) and to be able to bring my butt below the height of my knees in what is referred to as “below parallel”.  The strength and stability to achieve this will take me a long way on the trail.IMG_9337
There is something so remarkable about CFBF and the community of people it hosts.  I had this preconceived notion of what it would be like doing crossfit.  I was so WRONG!  It is not all about the next big lift or chest thumping and sweat dripping.  It is a space to come in and meet people who have an interest in themselves and their health.  I am always excited for the Work Out of the Day (WOD as we kindly refer to it), I walk away from it feeling as though I have overcome a perceived limitation.  It is true, “if you build it they will come”.  When they designed CFBF they did so with the right mentality, creating the environment they wanted as they went.  I know when I walk through those doors I will not be judged or intimidated.  I will have the support of every member and person in the gym.  As I finished my final rep tonight I had seven people standing there cheering me on and counting down for me, a testament to just how committed this group is to the success of every person.  I continuously tell the staff just how great they are, that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, Kevin, one of the trainers, shrugs it off saying “you put in the work” and it is a true statement, but without them this place would cease to be what it is.
When my feet hit the trail in Georgia it will be with confidence.  I can only hope the trail community is close to what I have found here at my gym.  CFBF

What would I do without Star to rescue me?!

What would I do without Star to rescue me?!

SHOUT OUT TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUPPORTED ME THROUGH DONATIONS!!!  THANK YOU!  I AM SO EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO PUT THESE ITEMS TO USE!

AGAIN IF YOU WANT TO HELP SUPPORT MY JOURNEY YOU CAN FIND MY “WISH LIST”  HERE