Backpacking Dreams

So it’s 4:30 am as I’m typing this….I just woke up from a weird/ funny dream.

In the dream JoJo and I were backpacking somewhere and it started to rain like crazy.  I pulled out an umbrella (?? I don’t have a backpacking umbrella- I know some people do, but I do not) and try to hold it up over me as I hike along.  I couldn’t hold the umbrella over me and use my trekking poles at the same time so I decided to set up camp and wait out the rain.

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Why I LOVE REI

So you may know that REI has an incredible return policy – they will basically take ANYTHING back as long as you have proof of purchase, the item is in fairly decent condition and it’s within a year since you bought it.

In July I bought a new pair of Merrell hiking boots online because my Keens were pretty worn out.  I wore them on a few day hikes and the 30 mile backpacking trip on the Old Loggers Path.  The shoes seemed a bit narrow (I do not have wide feet so this seemed strange) but I figured they would stretch out after I broke them in a bit.  Well they didn’t – after my trip on the Old Loggers Path, I NEVER had so many blisters on my feet in my life.  It was awful – the entire inner sides of BOTH of my feet had massive blisters on them – from the tips of my big toes to my heel.  It was nuts – and painful — and coincidentally how I decided on the name of my blog – I said to my family when I was done with the hike “I have never had so many blisters and bug bites in my life!”  Then I thought – ‘Hmmm…that’s kinda catchy….sorta gross, but catchy!’ and TA DA!  My blog was born!

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Just because you buy the same brand of shoes as Bear Grylls, DOES NOT make you Bear Grylls :/

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Food Allergies and the Backcountry

I have some pretty weird food allergies – carrots and watermelon (actually I’m pretty sure all melons – I don’t really care for them anyway, but I do have a reaction whenever they are mixed into fruit salad.)  I just avoid these foods at all costs, especially carrots as they make my throat swell up if I eat enough of them.  You never realize how much a particular ingredient is used until you become allergic and have to check EVERYTHING.  Carrots are used as a filler in A LOT of different foods – so I just check the ingredients of anything new I try.  Try being a vegetarian and going to salad bars, then seeing they use pre packaged mixes that already have carrots in them.  They are in a lot of vegetarian foods, some drinks listed as FRUIT juice, and they even use carrots in some energy gels – I’m telling you they show up in the weirdest places!

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Backpacking Blunders (part 3)

When you are taking someone backpacking for the first time, you want their experience to be pleasant so that they will want to go again.  When I took my friend Laura on her first backpacking trip, it was ANYTHING but pleasant….

I used my Backpacking Pennsylvania book to pick out an easy trail – I decided on the Pinchot Trail in Lackawana State Forest.  In the book it was listed as a 24 mile loop hike that is typically done in 2 days.  The loop also has a section of trail that goes through the middle in case you need/want to cut your trip short.

We set out in September of 2010 with my trusty side kick at the time Kira.  Kira was an adorable dog I adopted from the pound in 2001, she had a few emotional issues as she was abused before I got her, but as long as you played by her rules, she was perfectly fine – more about this later.

signing the trail register

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Backpacking Blunders (part 2)

Back in 2008, after I saved up and bough some decent gear, I talked my best friend Jen into coming on a backpacking trip with me.

The pack I eventually ended up buying was an Osprey Ariel 75 – since my previous pack seemed to small to carry everything I would need, I was unsure about what size to get so naturally I bought the absolute biggest bag I could find – I figured it would be good to have the extra room and it had a ton of compression straps so that if I didn’t fill it up it wouldn’t be a big deal.  Unfortunately what they say is true about packs – if you have the space, you will find something to fill it up with – and boy did I ever.  Since this was my 1st backpacking trip I wasn’t sure what I would need – so I brought EVERYTHING, literally!  We planned on making it a 3 day/ 2 night trip so I brought a change of clothes for each day plus an extra pair and clothes to sleep in- all were cotton as I didn’t have any moisture wicking clothes.  I brought tons of extra batteries as that is what I read online, even though all my gear was new, my pocket rocket backpacking stove to cook food with and 2 fuel canisters as again I read you should bring a spare in case you ran out.  I hate to admit I even brought makeup, a razor, 2 books, a deck of cards, a mug, headlamp, flashlight, AND lantern, a pillow, plus the tent, food, and my sleeping bag – my pack easily weighed 55lbs – if not more.  It was packed to the BRIM with things – more than I would need for a WEEK on the trail, but again we had no idea and wanted to be prepared.  Jen ended up using the LL BEAN pack that I bought as that was the only spare I had.

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If you look really closely I think you can see the kitchen sink I packed peaking out – HOW DID I CARRY THIS???

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Backpacking Blunders (part 1)

So since there is going to be a tropical storm this weekend and our plans were cancelled, I decided I am going to write a short series about some backpacking trips that didn’t go as expected.  There has been some VERY interesting mishaps I felt I’d share!

I guess I should start with when I 1st tried to get into backpacking.  I’m not sure where I first got the idea to go, but I remember becoming obsessed with it about 10 years ago around about the time I got into hiking – the idea that you could CARRY everything you need to survive a night in the woods was fascinating to me.

I went from a kid who HATED hiking (I would complain and cry the ENTIRE TIME – why can’t I go home and read my book??) to an adult who couldn’t get enough of being outside.  I have no idea what happened, but I took every chance I could to go exploring.  I CLEARLY remember being a kid and my parents would take me out in my sweatpants with the elastic cuff at the bottom that were about 5″ too short, Keds canvas sneakers, and turtleneck – I would be sweltering to DEATH and they want me to hike up some dumb hill? For what?  Hiking to me when I was a kid equaled guaranteed sunburn, bug bites, and poison ivy – and heaven forbid if you got all of these things at the same time – TORTURE!!!  The ONLY thing I liked then about being outside was being able to see frogs.  I remember standing by a tiny stream of water and seeing a few hopping around and my dad telling me that it’s rare to see frogs because of pollution and stuff – and this was in the 80s!

I spent about an hour and a half searching for this picture – I vividly remember this day:

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looking for frogs and wanting to go home to read my book – my sisters and I (I am the in the white shirt)

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