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 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!

How To Not Die In The Mountains

One of my goals this year is to do more adventure sports. Adventure sports are activities I used to refer to as “outdoors-y”, but “adventure sports” sounds so much cooler. Everyone where I live is “outdoors-y” so I was surprised to learn that isn’t what it’s really called. That’s one of many things I learned at some recent classes I took through REI and Alpine Rescue Team, classes I highly recommend!

The Maroon Bells

First, I took a “Cross Country Skiing Basics” class at my local REI store in Boulder. It was free, so I was a little concerned it was actually a giant sales pitch in disguise, but it wasn’t at all! What was great about this class was I learned what type of skis I would need for the area around my new neighborhood. I also learned what type of clothing I’d need and how to properly layer everything. Technically, I will be “backcountry skiing” which sounds a bit scary to me. This is where I should divulge that I’m a Colorado native who’s skied twice in her life, and neither of those times were in the last twenty five years. Come to think of it, that might be how I die in the mountains.

This will absolutely be me.

Next, I took a “Women’s Snowshoeing Basics” class, again through my local REI store. They offer lots of classes on various topics, so check your local store’s calendar. Like the XC skiing class, this one also taught me what types of snowshoes go with what type of terrain, as well as what type of clothing was best depending on the weather conditions at the trail head and at the higher elevations. The weather can be very different at each location and change quickly when you’re high in the mountains. Layering is the key to regulating body temps and avoiding hypothermia, and so is blocking wind and moisture. Luckily, the instructor said that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, so guess which adventure sport I’ll be taking up first?

Coco hates the cold. Lily just loves the sled. #seniordogs

The last class I took was a “Map and Compass” class, and it was the one I was most excited for. It was hosted by Alpine Rescue and it taught how to navigate by, you guessed it, map and compass! They also taught us how to triangulate your location using nearby landmarks. My sister, Carla, who is my frequent hiking partner, came with me. Not only is this a great skill to have since we spend so much time hiking, but we are planning our June trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and plan to do at least four hikes in those unfamiliar Parks. We don’t plan to stray from the trails, but safety first, yo! This skill does require some practice so she and I will be “hitting the maps” soon. What’s awesome is Alpine Rescue is an all volunteer organization and they will come save you on the mountain 24/7, 365. If there is a similar organization in your area, consider making a donation to support their efforts.

Shots I snapped driving to the map & compass class. Elk!

These classes were fun and informative, and they gave me so much more confidence to get outside, especially in the winter! I will probably need to win the lottery before I can take up any type of skiing, but snowshoeing while a bit out of my comfort zone is something I want to try.  I always wanted to learn how to navigate because you just never know what can happen. It’s one of my two big fears about the mountains, and I feel like I conquered it a little. With practice will come confidence. It feels good to push myself!

 

How do you like to push yourself? What new skill have you always wanted to learn?