What to Pack for a Hike

My new hiking pack, something I’ve desperately needed if I’m going to do the #52hikechallenge, arrived this week! I’ve been so excited about it that I’ve spent far too many hours gathering and packing and repacking it with all my gear. Then I realized this is information worth sharing, so here we go with what to pack for a hike!

First, let me give a shout out to a very important list you should refer to if you’re planning your own forays into the backcountry. The National Parks Service has posted this 10 Essentials to pack when you #optoutside.  I don’t quite have everything on this list, but I’m working on it and plan my hikes accordingly.

The spread. It’s very purple-y.

Here’s what I never leave home without:

  • Day Hike Pack – This pack from Camel has a space for a water bladder, has an internal frame, and is intended for day hikes. It’s a bright color (I love any shade of purple) so I can’t mistaken for an animal.
  • Water – In addition to my water bladder, I carry two, 32 oz bottles of water, too. Tip, if you store them upside down, they won’t freeze at the mouthpiece. 
  • Map & Compass – It’s important to know how to use them, too. Many local wilderness rescue groups offer classes on this topic, often for free. Always remember to tell someone where you’re hiking, how far, and when you expect to be back. Check in with that person when you get home.
  • Extra Clothes – Because I’m prone to blisters, I bring a pair of toe socks, as well as an extra pair of dry wool hiking socks. I also pack a down vest, an extra thermal beanie, extra thermal gloves, and a Buff.
  • Survival Gear – A lighter or matches, a headlamp, a basic first aid kit, a knife, some handwarmers, and an emergency whistle are what I keep in my pack at all times. On day trips I keep my survival gear to a minimum because I’m careful to follow the trail and be super aware of my surroundings and map.
  • Personal Gear – Sunscreen, Lip Balm, my asthma inhaler, my TomTom GPS watch, and sport sunglasses are all essential for a comfy hike at high altitude.
  • Snacks – The most important things! I’ve always got a nut based snack and an apple at minimum.
  • Fun Stuff  – A small notebook which is my Trail Journal, a pen, a selfie stick, and my #womenwhohike patch.

I hope that helps you decide what to pack for your hikes!

What gear is essential for you when you #optoutside? 

2019 BOCO Gear Ambassadors

Have you heard of BOCO Gear? You may have one of their awesome hats in your closet and not even know it since they make headwear for many popular races. Mer and Jenn are new ambassadors, and share their  BOCO collections and what the like about the brand. There is so much to love about BOCO!

 

2019 Goals – 52 Hike Challenge

A few weeks ago, my sister texted me a link to the 52 Hike Challenge and asked if I wanted in. Being one to take on huge challenges without much forethought, my first instinct was to immediately reply with a HECK YEAH! For once, I paused and realized this sounds like a hike a week thing, which, if we’re honest, can be hard to accommodate schedule wise. Intrigued nevertheless, I clicked on the link to learn more.

The 52 Hike Challenge is what I suspected, it’s a yearlong challenge to hike 52 times with intention to connect with our environment, and others who share a passion for outdoor sports. This spoke to me because I want to transition from running to hiking in 2019. Running has become monotonous for me, and frankly, I’m horrible at training diligently. Because I’m fortunate to live where I do, there are tons of hiking trails literally at the end of my residential road, and I need/want/should take advantage of them.

All of these trails are an 8 minute drive from my house. I literally have zero excuses.

My biggest question was what do they consider a “hike”? I was happy to learn their definition is lax. To count toward the Challenge, a hike must be at least a mile, and can be done in any setting from urban bike paths and parks to snowshoe hikes and full on mountaineering expeditions. There are three different levels of Challenge depending on fitness level and if you’ve participated in the Challenge before. The tracking is done on an honors system using social media posts and hashtags, and there are different levels of swag you win based on registration level.

I want to see views like this in 2019!

You don’t have to pay to register, but there are three levels of paid participation that get you additional stuff. The “Starter Package” for $11.95 gets you a 52 Hike Challenge Patch, and 4 stickers, as well as access to the resources on their website such as tips finding trails, and the Challenge Guide. The “Standard Package” at 52.00 gets you all their resources plus a Finisher Medal, and the “Ultimate Package” gets you all that plus discounts from their sponsors: REI, Mountain House, Sawyer, and Arc’Teryx.

After mulling it over, I texted my sister back and said I’m in! I’m excited to connect with this community to help me stay motivated to get outside. I’m determined to see more of my beautiful state of Colorado this year, and to strengthen my bond with my sister. All around, this is going to be a win/win for 2019!

Recipe Box – Thanksgiving Bone Broth

Did you save the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving promising yourself you’d be all Food Network-y and do something with it? Maybe you thought you’d make stock, or even try jumping on the bone broth bandwagon if you haven’t already. Guess what?! ME TOO!  But why bone broth, specifically? Bone broth is special because the process of making it extracts the collagen in the carcass and collagen helps to heal all kinds of your parts. Parts like your intestines and joints, and it makes a great, easy breakfast, especially on cold winter mornings.

I’ve been on this wagon for a few months and I’ve gotten a bit bored with my standard recipe. I was super excited to have a turkey carcass to use and to mix it up with some fresh herbs. The carcass was so big (we had a 17.75 pound bird) that it made two batches of bone broth. Don’t forget the apple cider vinegar. The vinegar is the magic ingredient that pulls all the good stuff from the bones.

Reuse glass bottles for the perfect fast breakfast or recovery drink. Reheat for 2 minutes and BOOM!

I do use a six quart Instant Pot when I make bone broth because the stove top or Crock Pot method takes twelve hours for poultry based bone broth. The long cooking time is needed to extract all the collagen, and having a gas stove burner on for twelve hours makes me nervous. Instant Pot to the rescue! This method only takes two hours.  If you’re using the stove top or a Crock Pot, follow all assembly instructions and cook for twelve hours minimum.

Thanksgiving Bone Broth

  • Turkey carcass, cut into pieces so it will fit in your pot
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Smashed
  • Sage, Fresh
  • Thyme, Fresh
  • 1/2 Onion including skin
  • 3 Large Carrots cut to fit in pot
  • 2 Stalks of Celery cut to fit in pot
  • Mushrooms, handful
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water

Add carcass to pot first, then add all other ingredients, adding the apple cider vinegar last. If using an Instant Pot, fill it with water to the max fill line. Lock the lid in place, select “Pressure Cook” and , and set the timer for 2 hours.

If using a pot or Crock Pot, leave two inches of water below top of pot and watch pot throughout cooking, you may need to add water as it evaporates. Cook for twelve hours minimum.

After your broth is done, you’ll need to strain it. All you want is the liquid. Once my Instant Pot is cool enough to handle, I nest a colander in a metal mixing bowl, and use a slotted spatula to remove the large bits of bones, veg, and meat from the pot. Once I’ve gotten most of that removed, I nest a fine sieve inside another large bowl, then pour the broth through the sieve to strain the broth of smaller bits. The next step is to pour the strained broth into a fat separator. If you don’t have one of those, you can spoon off the fat sitting on top of the broth once it separates. With my separator, I can pour off the fat.  I toss the bones and veg in the trash and add whatever is at the bottom of that bowl to the strained broth. Then, I pour my broth into 12 oz mason jars. (There is a lot of pouring going on).

This turkey version is tasty, and I’ll be sure to put the carcasses from my husband’s meat smoking experiments into future recipes. Bone broth has become a routine part of my mornings. I appreciate its unassuming gentleness and subtle healing properties.

On Wednesdays We Do Wellness

Every Wednesday, I tag up with my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle. I’m at the midway point in her six-month wellness program and now is a great time to check in and share what’s working, and what’s been challenging.

The hardest thing so far is a lack of variety in my diet. I’ve always been on the picky side of eating, and veggies were not my favorite things. That’s all still true. If I eat hummus and carrots again for lunch I. Will. Scream. The solution here is to experiment more with new recipes. I admit I’m not a great cook so this one scares me a bit, but onward I must go.

Cutting out sweets has also been hard, but has gotten easier over time. Instead of craving the triple chocolate layer cake, I’m going for pumpkin spice scones. I’ve swapped out ice cream for vanilla honey Greek yogurt. Things like cheesecake and Starbucks drinks are WAY too sweet and I can’t eat them anymore. Sadly, my sweet tooth is still not satisfied and temptation is hard to fight. My solution here is to try my hand at paleo baking and treat-making. Wish me luck!

Part of the Wellness journey with Dr. Kyle is to learn how to do self-care right. Making time for myself has become a priority instead of a luxury. When I make time for self-care, I find I don’t need or crave the bad foods, like baked goods and candy, as much. I’m being fulfilled in other ways, whether that’s reading a book for fun, painting my nails, or taking a bubble bath, my soul is getting time to rejuvenate as opposed to my seeking refuge in sweets only to still feel depleted of energy. I’m loving this new perspective.

This might be my favorite place in my new house.

The best thing by far about this whole journey is the fact that I’ve lost 7 pounds. Once I cut refined sugar and gluten almost completely from my diet, the pounds fell away. My clothes are fitting better, and I’m able to squeeze into pants I wasn’t able to before. It feels great!

The goal with starting this journey was to learn how to eat properly to avoid diabetes. My blood sugar levels were high and I really don’t want diabetes. Since I’ve changed my diet, my sugars have dropped from consistently between 130 – 150 to 95 – 115. While I’m not at my target of 60-90, I’m getting closer and that is a huge win.

I’ve learned tht it’s not an all or ohiotng game, either. I’m shooitng for 80/20 where 20% of my calorie intake a week is sugar and complex carbs. While it seems like a big number on the healthy side, I’m learning it’s totally doable!

What’s your favorite self-care activity? DO you have any paleo recipes for me? Extra credit if they are Instant Pot friendly!

Take Joy Where You Find It

This year, in many ways for may people, has been the worst. As Kyle pointed out on Monday, most of us are in need of a little pick-me-up. Some happiness. Some good cheer. I’ll continue Kyle’s theme, by sharing what happy plans are occupying my thoughts when I’m not yelling at the news, my elected officials, my general acquaintance to vote, or my contractors to finish my house. In other words, I’m almost never not yelling, but still.

Also, PLEASE VOTE.

Aaaaanywayyy, right now, my thoughts are consumed with planning for the Holidays. I know, I’m not usually one of those people, but here we are. Take joy where you find it. And reminder, Christmas is a mere 77 days away, people. I have kinda been prepping for this Christmas since last Christmas when I went a little nuts at Michael’s post holiday sale. Plus, my family has been not so casually mentioning how they can’t wait spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in the mountains at the new house. I say FINE WITH US!

Luckily for them there are TONS of Christmasy activities around the mountains where I live, and my husband and I are going to do alllll the things. When Meri came to visit in August I told her ALL about my plans, of which there are many. It’s a month-long itinerary where folks can pick and chose what they want to do with us, if anything. No pressure, of course. But who could resist stuff like:

  • Holiday Parade the day after Thanksgiving to start things off right
  • Tree cutting and sleigh ride high in the Rockies – I dare you to come up with anything more Christmasy than that
  • Holiday Hike to the Boulder Star – I’ll bring along adult hot cocoa for the top
  • Ice Skating and Pond Hockey – We’ll hike a mile to the pond near the house and pack spiced rum wassail and pasole. (Mine is a hiking/hockey playing family)
  • Cookie Decorating contest with rotating trophy

 

  • Last year’s Boulder Star hike with my sister.

I have more, but I thought I’d start slow. I’m most looking forward to the sleigh ride, tbh.

 

 

You Really Should (read) “Eat Dirt”

I’m back today sharing more stuff from my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, who is amazing. A few weeks back, she recommended I read a book called “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe. I don’t have a lot of time for reading actual paper books, but I was able to download an audio version on Hoopla for free. I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s shifting my whole perspective on food!

 

I know, leaky gut is super gross sounding. It wasn’t a term I’d heard before either. I remembered my chiropractor recently told me he suspected I had this condition and prescribed me supplements or it. After learning more about the the symptoms, I quickly realized that he was likely correct. If you don’t know what it is, let me *try* to summarize in a sentence: leaky gut is a condition of the small intestine where nasty food molecules (sugar, fat, gluten, additives, chemicals) escape the intestine because the  lining is weak, or “leaking”. I know. Gross. But Dr. Axe explains how this can contribute all kinds of diseases including diabetes, MS, heart disease and cancer. It was a wake up call for sure!

Things I’m giving up. ;’-(.

Now, I understand WHY sugar and gluten are bad. I mean, we know at some level these things aren’t great for us, but unless you’re a doctor or nutritionist, most of us don’t understand the negative impacts of these foods at a cellular level. Dr. Axe’s explanations made sense, but I didn’t feel judged or preached at as I listened. Plus, his voice is kinda dreamy, so that helps a lot.

What surprised me the most is how this book is making me gross out on things I used to love. Just knowing what this stuff does to my body is making me not want to eat it. When I do indulge, the knowledge of what I’m doing to myself seeps in, and makes me want that donut even less next time.

I learned that sugar and gluten actually play mind tricks with you and control your emotions around food as well as cravings. I don’t like being controlled by things outside of my…control. This was the key to when I quit smoking, too. I knew that all the extra chemicals tobacco companies add to their product are intended to make me more  addicted. Frankly, that pissed me off! No one controls me! Understanding this is how sugar and gluten control me has made me want to pass on things like pizza, bread, and ice cream. Although I do miss ice cream.

Things I’m trying to eat more of.

Some of it was a little woo-woo for me, but it still made some sense, and seriously can’t hurt me. With Dr. Kyle’s guidance and a new focus on a paleo diet, I’m already feeling so many benefits, most of which are mental. I found my scale while I was unpacking this weekend, and was happy to see I’d lost four pounds by just altering my diet to reduce sugar, carbs, and gluten. I can’t wait to share more recipes over the next few months. Let me see your favorites, too!

 

Recipe Box – Paleo Chicken & Mushroom Skillet

Since seeing a nutritionist, I’ve been told to start eating a Paleo diet. While giving up carbs and sugar is the hardest thing I’ve ever quit aside from smoking,  it has forced me to expand my palette which is a great thing.  I’m eating things I never did before! Things like English cucumbers, raw red peppers, and mushrooms. .  Also, the only real method of cooking I have available to me at the moment is my electric skillet. Therefore, meals must be two things: paleo, and able to cook in one pan. So when I stumbled across this recipe for Paleo Chicken and Mushroom Skillet, I was stoked to try it.  We paired it with a Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa packet, and a fresh, sliced cucumber. We yum-yummed the shiz out of this dish! My husband and I loved it.

 

Photo credit goes to I Breathe, I’m Hungry as I completely forgot to snap photos while I was cooking. Totally typical of me.

 

This recipe comes from the food blog I Breathe, I’m Hungry which offers low carb, keto, paleo, and gluten-free recipes.  I just discovered this blog, but if this recipe is any indication of the yumminess of her cuisine, I’ll be back for sure!