WONDER-FULL Wednesday- The Right Stuff

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It’s been a few weeks since I have updated my adventures in preparing for my hike. Hike month is now here! Twenty-two days until I step onto the trail. To date, I have only had one hiking dream  nightmare. In my dream, I was in the car with my friends heading up to the mountain. We were almost there and I needed to get something out of my pack. When I opened my pack, I found NOTHING! I hadn’t packed a thing! I panicked, told my friends to let me off on the side of the highway (which they DID!!!!) and said I would meet them on the trail. Then I walked back to my house to pack the essentials- socks, trailmix and underwear. Except there were no clean underwear to pack- I am a little blurry if that was a dream or reality. And then I woke up.

The dream got me thinking about what gear I already have and what I need to buy/borrow. If you ask my husband, I am sure he would say that I would be fine hiking with my old school backpack with a couple of Market Basket shopping bags tied to the side for the things that cannot fit. Seriously, that would be a lot of bags tied to my side straps! I am not my husband though and part of the fun of this adventure is a little shopping (thank you for the birthday money, mom, Gammy and Jonette!)

The most important thing that I needed to purchase was a pack. When I visited REI, there were walls and walls of them and it was overwhelming. I needed a smaller selection and decided that I would try EMS. Now that I am a true-outdoorsy, adventurous type person, I need to get very familiar with these outdoorsy-type stores.

Purchasing the hiking boots provided me earned confidence. I walked into EMS with a little more swagger in my step than I had in REI. I met Austin who reminded me of Price Harry (who I have never met but maybe because he was a red head.) He was in his twenties, an outdoorsy-type kid and enthusiastic about my trip. As a side note, I have never met a ginger I did not like and I trusted his opinion. It was a good start.

Austin led me over to the packs. He pointed out two packs that he thought would be good for me. I tried the first one on. Boom! Perfect fit! Austin was surprised. Just to make sure, he had me try on another pack. I made him load and unload weight and I walked around the store a few times. Everything was great! The pack was comfortable and it was black. Black goes with everything. And yes, those types of things matter to me.

I do not know much more about my pack other than it has a lot of pockets, it has a place for a water reservoir (Austin told me the size I need to get) and it has a rain cover (which according to Austin is a MAJOR plus.) He told me he has the same pack and lived seven days out of it. If Austin can do seven, I can do four!

Austin also said the key to fitting everything you need is to pack smartly. He told me a down jacket was a smart pack. He showed me one that can be squished into a pocket on the inside of a coat. It looked great to me! Fifteen minutes later, my pack was purchased as well as the squishy, puffy, down jacket and I am now that much closer to having everything I need for this trip. PS I am still not sure how the coat fits into that pocket but I will figure it out.

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The lightweight, puffy, squishy jacket….

 

A few other purchases….A new headlamp! BONUS:  I did not know the head lamp had RED FLASHING LIGHTS!!

I was looking for something to keep my hair back and greasy, unshowered hair covered (no showers in the huts) and I came across a thing called a Buff. I figured it would not only work for good appearance purposes but will also “protect me from the elements.” It is a very interesting accessory. The tubular piece of fabric can be worn in many ways. Here are a few examples.

The last picture accurately depicts a novice trying to use this tubular headwear. I am kidding. I can see how this item will come in very handy. It seems like it will keep me warm, cool and comfortable.

My favorite way of wearing the Buff might be this though…. Just call me Belle Starr (The Bandit Queen)

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Well, that’s all for now….until next time, don’t squat with your spurs on…

WONDER-FULL Wednesday- Keep Your Feet on The Ground

Keep Your Feet on the Stars and your feet on the ground- Theodore Roosevelt

I reached for the ice axe handles and held the door open as my three children joyfully stepped inside the “store of grand-adventures-waiting-to-happen.” Wide-eyed, the kids and I stopped to stare at the hanging bicycles, the colorful walls of packs, and the people buzzing in and out of racks of clothing and equipment. The store smelled of hope and wonder. I felt out of place, like an awkward preteen on her first day of junior high school. I did not know where to go or who to ask or even what questions to ask but I had three kids with me and I was their leader in this escapade.

We had come to buy new hiking boots. Over the weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to try on my old hiking boots just to make sure that they still fit. I would be wearing these boots for hours and hours, over many miles, for several days, they needed to be comfortable and fit correctly.

I wasn’t surprised to find the boots were tight and uncomfortable. I had purchased them back when my feet were a size and half smaller (my feet have grown 1/2 inch with each of my pregnancies.) My poor, old boots had been neglected for many years. The closest they had come to gracing my feet was their placement besides my well-worn, favorite pair of sneakers. Part of me was glad and excited at the prospect of purchasing new boots but another part of me knew that buying hiking boots was not as easy as buying a pair of flip-flops. There were many different brands, different styles for different terrains, and an added expense to consider.

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The Poor, Old Boots

The kids and I found the shoe section and met a very nice saleswoman named, Helen. A soft-spoken woman in her early sixties, Helen became my BSF (best store friend.)  I confessed that I had no clue what I was doing or what I needed. Helen chuckled and smiled confidently. She gave me hope that everything was going to work out and she was going to lead me to the right boot. At the shoe display, she talked about styles, terrains, leather verses fabric, toe-boxes and ankle support. All this information seemed foreign and overwhelming to me and I found myself paying attention to only two things-the two things I could understand- the cost and the look of the boot.

After some consultation, Helen went off to find some boots for me to try on. She soon returned carrying three boxes and a pair of socks.  She put the boxes down and handed me the “clean” pair of socks. This was going to stretch me. Everyone has their issues. I had some doubts about the cleanliness of those socks. They did not seem like the disposable Peds that come in the unmarked, white box found in most shoe departments. No wrappers to indicate that they were new. No “SAMPLE” stamped on the sock.  I could not help but wonder whose feet had been in them or if they had been washed. I looked at the socks and I looked over at my kids who were getting more restless by the minute. This needed to get done and we needed to get out of here. I pushed aside my hesitation and slipped the socks on my feet. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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“Clean” Socks

Helen schooled me on the criteria of a good fitting boot: 1.) No cramped toes. You have to be able to wiggle and move them. 2.) Tap the front of your boot to the floor. Your index finger should fit behind your heel. 3.) Walk on the “mountain.”  Your foot should not slip and toes should not touch the front of the boot.

The very first pair of boots I tried on met all three criteria. They were in the right price range, not as bright as I would have liked, but still pretty. I tried on two other pairs just to be sure but I still liked the first ones the best. There was no time for doubts or second guesses.  I looked at Helen and told her I would take them.  Helen was happy to have a sale! I was happy to have come to a decision! The kids were happy to be heading to the door! It was a win for everyone!

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The “Mountain”

With the hiking shoes purchased, we walked past the ice axe handles and into the fresh air. The first major item checked off my hiking list. The shopping trip had stretched me out of my comfort zone and I had learned something new in the process. I was one step closer to the mountains and happy to know that my new boots would keep my feet comfortable, dry and firmly on the ground.

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The New Boots