Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Thru Hiker Diet

Let's just say you average a good 20 miles per day on a Thru-Hike.  That means you are carrying a full pack, up and down mountains, running from bears (hopefully not :)  Anyways, your body is burning about 6,000 calories per day!  It is almost impossible (I think) for you to be able to match that with your consumption.  My strategy is to keep your body fueled by eating more often, rather than just having a couple large meals.  I carry a lot of bars and eat every couple hours and then have a hearty warm meal before crawling into my sleeping bag.  My first thru hike on the PCT I made the mistake of carrying a lot of Ramen.  This didn't give my body much to go on (as it's just salt and fat) and I lost quite a bit of weight.  I discovered burritos made with beans, rice and cheese and it was a much more filling a tasty choice.  When hiking your body processes food so fast so don't deprive yourself!  There are tons of options (and no, you don't have to carry the expensive backpacker meals).  And yes, it is okay to eat Snickers every day!

Would love to hear some favorite hiker meals and strategies!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm keeping an ongoing list of some favorite gear sites posted on the right of my blog.  I just ran across a site that is having a Winter clearance.   They have some great items, a lot of clothes, shoes, etc.  My advice, look for the sale items, clearance or outlet tabs on any site.  You can find some great stuff that is marked down because it is last years model or color!

 Click Here for Rock Creek Gear

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adventures in Thru Hiking: Light Hearts and Heavy Packs

Adventures in Thru Hiking: Light Hearts and Heavy Packs: "If you would like to order a copy of my book, Light Hearts and Heavy Packs, please go to Ladybug Books. 

Hiking Boots vs. Trail Runners

We have gotten many strange looks on the trail when we pass by day hikers who ask, "where are your hiking boots?"  I hiked 700 miles in Chacos on the Pacific Crest Trail (I'm not sure I would advise it :) and the remainder of the PCT and the entire Continental Divide Trail in Merrell and Montrail trail shoes.  For me, comfort is key when I am hiking an average of 25 miles per day.  Hiking boots are hot and heavy in the summer and my feet tend to hurt more at the end of the day when I wear them.  I'm not arguing that there is no need for hiking boots, I just think it depends on the season and the terrain (snow, mud, etc.)  There are some great trail running shoes that hold up for hundreds of miles with great traction, a stable foot bed to aid in ankle twisting and a wider toe box for when your feet swell.  My favorites are Merrell and Montrail brand shoes.  You can purchase good shoes in a variety of places both in stores and online.  Just remember to give yourself some extra room as your feet will swell if you are hiking a lot and it's not unheard of for your feet to grow a size or two over the course of a thru-hike!

For for information Click Here
For more shoe deals Click Here

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We purchased a handheld GPS for hiking the Continental Divide Trail.  We had little experience previously with this device, turns out, it was an awesome addition to our gear list!  We used a Delorme GPS which worked well.  The GPS, in addition to our maps, helped us pinpoint where we were and gave us options on how to get from point A to point B.  As I mentioned earlier, the CDT is only 70% complete so many times you find yourself on an off-trail adventure.  Each night we would make a waypoint and at the end of the trail we put it on our computer and were able to see a line from Mexico to Canada where we had hiked!

Does anyone have a "favorite" GPS? There are so many options out there with various features.

For more information Click Here

Monday, January 24, 2011

Light Hearts and Heavy Packs

If you would like to order a copy of my book, Light Hearts and Heavy Packs, please go to Ladybug Books.   Enjoy and blog your feedback!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thru Hiking trails in the United States

Thru Hiking is considered hiking a long distance trail from end to end.  The three most well known thru hikes in the United States are the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.  On average, each trail takes about 5-6 months to complete and many hikers choose to "section hike" rather than complete the trail as a continuous thru hike.  Each thru hike takes time and preparation in terms of buying the right gear, planning your resupply and food drops, collecting the appropriate maps and actually taking time to complete the hike.  I always say that the first step is the hardest!

My husband, Eric's,  first thru hike was the Appalachian Trail, which he completed in 2002.  It is approximately 2,181 miles and goes from Georgia to Maine touching 14 different states.  It is the most well known thru hike, designated in 1968 as the first National Scenic Trail.  White blazes mark the trail and more than 10,000 people have reported hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. 

My first thru hike was the Pacific Crest Trail which goes from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington.  The trail is roughly 2,700 miles through the Southern California Desert, the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the Northern Cascades.  I often get asked why I thru hike.  The answer, thru hiking is the definition of true freedom in my mind.  It is a million different smiles and a million different tears, it is hiking to the top of a mountain and seeing the most incredible sunset, absorbing all that is ahead of you, but never forgetting what is behind you.   I completed the trail with my Eric in 2007.  It was a physical, mental and emotional test that was truly life altering.  I published a book called Light Hearts and Heavy Packs, a reflection of our journey across the country.

The third trail is the Continental Divide Trail.  This was my second thru hike and Eric's "Triple Crown".  The CDT is only 70% complete so having the right maps and a good sense of navigation is a must.  The trail is about 3,100 miles reaching from Mexico to Canada.  The trail follows the Continental Divide as closely as it can through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.  Very few people attempt the Continental Divide Trail as a thru hike.  It is a very demanding trail which tests every aspect of your being.  For me, it was the most incredible journey I could ever imagine.  The right mindset is essential. You must be prepared for anything and everything; varying weather, hiking and camping in Grizzly Bear country and being able to navigate the unforgiving terrain.

Thru hiking is definitely an extreme and is not for everyone but on the flip side, I encourage everyone to consider getting out in nature and taking a breath of fresh mountain air.  Hiking in general can be a very rewarding and humbling experience.  I urge everyone to get out, get lost in nature, try something new, different, challenging and exciting.  There is something special about standing on top of a mountain in silence and taking it all in on your own terms.