Backpacking, Change, Health, hiking

Toes

I don’t have much to report today, except that I had my right big toenail removed on Tuesday. It kept trying to grow a new toenail but didn’t succeed in getting very far, so there were layers of toenail that kept trying to grow. (I don’t remember any trauma to the toe, so the origin of the problem is a mystery.) The nail had also mostly separated from the toe, so the podiatrist thought removing it would be the best option in hopes that it will grow back in a normal fashion. He actually showed me his toe that was growing a nice new nail after he lost it in a mountain biking accident. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a toenail removed, if you have you know that there are shots involved. The doctor sprayed my toe with cold spray, then put two or three shots in my toe. (It hurt a bunch, I’m not gonna lie. I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes tightly so I couldn’t see what he was doing.) The reason they have to give your toe more than one shot is that they don’t know for sure which nerve will hurt when removing the toenail.

After waiting a few minutes for the anesthetic to kick in, the doctor came back in and popped the toenail right off. I didn’t feel a thing really, the shots did their job. Then he bandaged it all up very effectively and I left the office with no toenail. I waited 24 hours like the doctor said and then took off the bandage to look at the toe. It didn’t look very nice at all, so I immediately put another bandage on it. The yellow stuff on my foot in the photo is the solution the nurse used to clean the area before the doctor took the nail off.

A good bandage.

Though it didn’t hurt when the doctor took the toenail off, it is uncomfortable now. I had a hike planned this Saturday to Duffy Lake (the site of my very first backpacking trip, when I was 21!) but decided not to go as it isn’t an easy hike and we would have to cross a river, and I didn’t want to wade in and get germs on my toe. Hopefully I can get some easy walks in around the neighborhood in the next few days.

Have you ever had a toenail removed? How long did it take to recover and be hike ready? Comment below!

Backpacking, hiking, Travel

Cascade Head Hike

Last week Marnie, Linda, and I hiked to Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast, near Lincoln City, as a training hike with our big backpacks. It was Linda’s first time there, and Marnie and I hadn’t been there for a couple of years since it was closed during COVID. It was nothing like I remembered. For instance, I didn’t remember all the steps:

Many, many steps like these.

Or the roots:

Also, many, many roots.

While it is only supposed to be 4.2 miles round trip with a 1200 foot elevation gain (which in 2 miles is sort of a lot), it is so steep in places that it feels like you are gaining 42 hundred thousand feet. Mr. Sullivan in his book rates the hike as “moderate”, but as I’ve learned to my dismay his ratings are often not accurate for us.

Marnie, Linda, and me in background.

The views from Cascade Head are rather spectacular, though, so it is worth the stairs and elevation gain to get to the top and see Cape Foulweather, God’s Thumb, the Salmon River estuary, and Devil’s Lake. There are also some lovely wildflowers, pink foxglove and a purple flower I couldn’t identify. Some rare wildflowers also bloom here, rare pink checkermallows and violets that serve as food for the rare silverspot butterfly caterpillars. We didn’t see these flowers so it must not be their season. We stayed on the trail until we got to the top where there was no danger of trampling any rare flowers.

Foxglove
Not sure what this one is. Anybody know?

On this trail you walk through the woods for awhile, and then come out into the lovely meadows where you get the first glimpse of the views.

Salmon River Estuary and the Pacific Ocean, with a lovely beach we don’t know how to get to.
Marnie getting the shot.
Marnie on left getting more photos, Linda on right.
Linda and me on the trail.
Ocean view from the tippy-top.
The survey marker at the tippy-top. We enjoy looking for survey markers, especially if we have done a hard climb to find them. This one is very worn for some reason.

You can see in the photos that the grass is very high. A few years ago the Hubs and I hiked here with a group and one of the girls decided to stay at the middle meadow and not go to the tippy-top. The Hubs and I stayed with her, and he was so tired he just laid his head down on his Gatorade bottle and took a little nap while the others went to the tippy-top and got their photos. This time the grass was so overgrown that I couldn’t even find the middle meadow, and we just went to the tippy-top and had our snack break. There was one young man ahead of us and a couple who came up after we got there, but until then we had the hike to ourselves which is why we always go early! Since we aren’t fast hikers, it’s nice not to have to pull over every two minutes to let a bunch of people go by. On the way down once we got into the forest there were many people who had just started their hike. We ran into a lady I had hiked with to Pamelia Lake the week before, and had a nice chat with some older hikers in a little clearing on the trail.

We finished off by going to the ’60s Cafe and Diner in Lincoln City where we often eat after our coast hikes. No photos of food were taken, but we each had a very yummy lunch. All in all a great day!

Backpacking, Bible, Christian Life

Psalm 91

Did you know there is a psalm in the Bible specifically written for hiking? Well…not exactly, but it is a great comfort to me as we go on our backpacking trips. 😁 (I added the words in parentheses.)

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
(being trapped)
    and from the deadly pestilence (ticks, norovirus, etc.)
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield
(protection) and rampart (a protective barrier).
You will not fear the terror of night (bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes),
    nor the arrow that flies by day (humans),
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,

    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone
.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra ;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent
(mountain lion, rattlesnake).

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

The psalmist probably didn’t have in mind those things I put in parentheses (or who knows? Maybe at some point he did!) My parentheses are a bit whimsical, but protection from bears, mountain lions, snakes, disaster near my tent, humans who wish to do me harm, striking my foot against a stone? Awesome!! But we don’t want to miss that the whole of Psalm 91 concentrates on the power of God and His willingness to care for those who love Him. Note these paragraphs from Debbie McDaniel:

“This entire chapter of Psalm 91 is filled with the goodness and power of God. Great reminders that He faithfully works on behalf of those who love Him.  And at the end of it all, God gives 8 reasons of why we do not have to fear.

He promises: ‘Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’ Psalm 91:14-16

Psalm 91‘s Promises from God

  • “I will rescue him…” (deliver, cause to escape)
  • “I will protect him…” (set him on a high place)
  • “I will answer him…” (respond to, speak)
  • “I will be with him in trouble…” (in afflictions, in distress)
  • “I will deliver him…” (rescue, to bring into safety)
  • “and honor him…” (to make rich, strong, heavy with honor)
  • “With long life will I satisfy him…” (to have abundance in the journey)
  • “and show him my salvation.” (let him see my deliverance & victory)”

We see from this psalm that God is always there with those who love Him. We can take these promises to heart. It doesn’t mean that Christians will never have anything bad happen to them, but that God will be there through it all, and we can be assured that He is completely in control!

Backpacking, Gear, hiking, PCT, Reviews

The Tent

I didn’t make a video of the “unboxing” or setting up my new ZPacks Duplex tent, but here is the finished product:

ZPacks Duplex tent with vestibules not staked out.

Tent with vestibules staked out.

End of tent.

The tent wasn’t hard to set up when I followed the instructions on the ZPacks video and some other tips and tricks videos I found, although there is a learning curve. I wasn’t sure it looked right so I contacted ZPacks to find out if I was doing something wrong, and the representative seemed to think that the top was sagging too much and said that it should be taut, although when I tugged on it it seemed taut to me. I will set it up again this week and experiment. It could be that I set my trekking poles too high.

Here’s a video that shows how to set the tent up in good weather:

How to Setup a Backpacking Tent / How To Get The Perfect Pitch EVERY TIME for Zpacks Duplex Setup

And this one for setting up a Duplex in inclement weather:

Setting Up Your Tent in the Wind – Pitching the Duplex Tent in Bad Weather (Tenting in a Storm)

Tent with doors open.

Inside of tent.

I got into the tent and sat there for awhile to see how I liked it. The Duplex is a two-person tent, which I prefer for myself because I like to keep all my gear in the tent with me. If you keep things in the vestibules critters will come around at night and nibble your backpack or your shoelaces, and nobody wants that! It feels very roomy and there will be enough room for me to have myself and all my gear organized, although I’m sure it will still look like my backpack exploded. Marnie came over and saw the tent, and she thought it looked much larger than my Big Agnes tent. I don’t know if it’s that much larger, but my Big Agnes Tiger Wall tent has a larger end and a smaller end (head and foot ends), while the Duplex is the same size at both ends, so it does make it seem larger.

Door toggle.

Above you can see that the system for holding the doors back consists of just one toggle strap on each door. It seems to hold securely, but it is hard to maneuver from the inside of the tent. I plan to attach some magnets to hold the doors open, and perhaps some on the front of the doors to hold them closed, if I can figure out how to do it. The idea is to use Dyneema tape to attach the magnets to the tent and place them so the magnets hold through the tape and not through the tent itself, to avoid damage to the tent.

That’s all I have to say about the tent right now. I will update after I set it up a second time. For more info about the tent, see my other blog post here.

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Food, Gear, hiking, PCT

So. Much. Food.

Hey, remember how I was talking here about how much food I have and how I need to organize it before I go hiking? Well, looky here at the food that was in the resupply boxes in my office.

Each box contained at least 5 days of food, and various other supplies.

Here is a large pile of assorted snacks:

Probably more snacks than necessary…

Let’s just look at it from another angle, shall we?

Yeeks.

Wish me luck!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Gear, hiking, PCT

In Case of Emergency

In light of our hiking trip next month, I have set up a file in OneDrive (and on a thumb drive for the Hubs who doesn’t want to deal with OneDrive) with any information needed in case something happens to us. In this file I have included:

  • Instructions on what is in the file and how to find the information, plus instructions to use the map on the Garmin website to track us and follow along with our hike. We use Garmin InReach satellite communicators to communicate with our families if we have no phone signal and to track our hikes, and the InReach has an SOS button that alerts Search and Rescue (SAR) if we have an emergency. These instructions include Marnie’s and Linda’s phone numbers and their husbands’ phone numbers, and the address to message my InReach directly in case my family can’t get me by phone. There is also a sheet detailing the way to find us by latitude and longitude from the InReach. I keep these instructions on the bulletin board in my office so the Hubs can find them easily.

  • Photos of me and the clothes I’ll be wearing.

  • Photos of Marnie and Linda who will be going with me.

  • A document with copies of my ID and the cards I will be carrying with me.

  • A copy of the emergency document I carry with me, which includes my emergency contacts, doctors’ names, and a medication list. “NOBO on the PCT” is noted on this document. I also wear a RoadID ID band on my watch, which has an ID number and PIN to enable first responders to find my pertinent medical info.

  • An information sheet with my description and descriptions of the clothes I’m wearing and my gear, with Marnie’s and Linda’s contact info. Both my big toes have weird toenails, and that is included in the description. (Edit: I just had the right big toenail removed, so one weird toenail and one naked toe.) I also include a photo of my toes!

  • Instructions to follow if we go missing (2 files). Those instructions can be found here and here. They are also printed out and attached to the initial instructions.

  • Photos of all my clothes and gear labeled in alphabetical order. The Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation , a foundation that helps look for missing hikers, has suggested taking photos of everything down to your toothbrush in case something happens and SAR needs to look for you. The Fowler and O’Sullivan families each have missing hikers on the PCT who still haven’t been found.


A photo of me in my hiking clothes taken shortly after I bought them in Julian, CA. The sunshirt is by the Town Shirt company and it is awesome.

My ditty bag and contents.

My first aid kit.

I have tried to think of anything and everything that could possibly be helpful if something should happen to me or us. Can you think of anything else that I should include?

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Books, Gear, hiking, PCT

Book Recommendation – Adventure Ready

I recently ordered the book Adventure Ready, A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency, by Katie Gerber and Heather Anderson, and I wanted to say that it’s a big win in my opinion! I just received it a couple of days ago and haven’t had the chance to read the whole thing, but the parts I’ve read are very helpful for pointing both new and experienced hikers in the right direction. If you are interested in any kind of backpacking adventure, this book is a gold mine of information! And if you are interested in reading about awesome rockstar backpacking, I would also suggest you read Heather’s other books, Thirst, about her FKT (Fastest Known Time) hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, and Mud, Rocks, Blazes, about her FKT hike on the Appalachian Trail. Also, check out Katie’s website KatieGerber.com, where she offers online courses, coaching, and other resources.

From the Amazon description:
“In Adventure Ready, renowned hikers Katie “Salty” Gerber and Heather “Anish” Anderson take what they’ve learned both on the trail and through teaching their online classes to a new level: preparing long-distance hikers for all the challenges–physical, emotional, and mental–they may encounter while on the trail for weeks or months. This clear and comprehensive guide sets backpackers up for success with detailed information about everything from the basics of gear selection, navigation, safety, and trip planning to nutritional and physical preparation and body resiliency to how to readjust after returning home. Worksheets and checklists make it easy to stay on top of all the planning a long-distance hike requires, while thoughtful prompts to address the “Why” of your adventure help to keep you motivated.”

I highly recommend this book!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Food, Gear, hiking, PCT

Hike Prep

Since we leave for the Oregon/California border of the Pacific Crest Trail in a few short weeks, I have started to prepare for various aspects of the hike. This means ordering assorted gear and attempting to organize food for the trip. The most recent order that arrived for the hike is this “vet” tape, or self-adhesive first aid tape. It can be used to affix a piece of gauze (or a ladies’ panty liner) for a bandage in case you fall and skin your knee and most of your shin, like I did a couple of years ago. The vet tape sticks only to itself instead of pulling off all your hair and 6 layers of skin like regular paper first aid tape will. Also, it comes in all sorts of nifty colors for fun.

Vet tape

When you order it on Amazon it comes in bulk, but I got all this for just $5.99. I obviously will not be bringing all of this tape with me on our hike, probably just one roll (pink), but what a deal, right? And there is plenty to give some to my friends who might like it to put in their first aid kits as well, with enough left over to have some in the home first aid basket and have plenty for next year’s hiking.

The food organization is another thing entirely. I am not a foodie, I don’t know how to food, in fact I stopped eating dinner because I was just tired of trying to figure out how to food. I like to eat food, I just don’t really like to deal with it.

This is 90% food.

Do you see all of this? This is my bedroom corner full of food. It is all food that I bought to fill resupply boxes for me to send myself on trail when we thought we were going to hike the whole PCT. There are also five large flat rate USPS mailing boxes in my office full of food, each box filled with five days’ worth of food. This week I need to go through all of the food, and figure out what I need for meals and snacks to fill boxes to send to the places we will be stopping where there is no food. We often carry too much food, since we aren’t usually very hungry the first couple weeks of hiking. Can you tell that I find this the least fun part of organizing the trip?

I absolutely love putting together my lighterpack.com gear list (which I will share upon request) with links, photos, and weights. I enjoy making the list of things to take on the hike so I don’t forget anything. I like making lists of things I need to buy. I am tickled to death to put together cute little “calling cards” for my friends and me to carry with us, and labels for our gear. Writing up emergency instructions and filling a file full of photos of me, my friends, and all my gear in case something happens to me and they can’t find me just makes me happy as a clam. But food? Nope. Do not enjoy, do not love, don’t like, not tickled, and not happy. It is certainly high up there on the importance list, but it is a chore. Your prayers for me as I organize my food are much appreciated!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, hiking, PCT

Hiking Plans

Marnie, Linda, and I had our hike meeting yesterday, and decided on a start date about a month from now. We have looked at the list of places to resupply (get food and supplies) and have tentatively decided that we will probably need to send resupply boxes to each stop before we get to Santiam Pass, from where we will probably go home for a zero day or two and resupply at home. We will just need to plan for things during the hike that depend on where we are when, such as how to get to PCT Days in Cascade Locks the third weekend of August. Now that we have a start date and a resupply schedule, we’ll be packing boxes and making sure we have all the gear we need. Onward!

(Also, how awesome is this mug Marnie got me for my birthday? It has photos of our SoCal PCT hike!)

Planning

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Cool Stuff, Fun, Gear, hiking, PCT, Tuffy

It’s The Little Things…

Here is the post I promised about some little things I have now for backpacking. I call them “little”, because they will probably seem tiny and unimportant to many, but it makes me happy to have them 😀

First, before we left to start the PCT in California I decided it would be nice to have a card that had my name, trail name, phone number, email address, and Garmin InReach message address to give to people I wanted to keep in touch with. Also, I figured a card like that would make a good label for things like trekking poles. Since my trail name is “Ninja”, I had bought the rights to use this ninja girl image on Etsy awhile back and decided it would make the perfect theme for my little cards. I also made some for my friends Marnie and Linda, with their info and an image especially for them. It was great fun making these!

I had seen on the Hilltop Packs website awhile back that they will make you a dry bag out of Dyneema with your own picture or photo on it! And I mean, ever since the personalized t-shirt craze of the early 80’s I have been fascinated by personalizing my gear, ha. I wasn’t happy with my little ditty bag and other stuff sacks that I had used, so I decided to see what the Hilltop Packs bags would look like. I ordered 2 medium-long bags for electronics and medication, and a medium bag to use as a ditty bag (comb, mirror, pen, toothbrush, etc.) I had the ninja girl and another ninja-themed image I got on Etsy, and I sent one for the ditty bag (to be pink) and one for the electronics bag (to be white). For the medication bag (to be black), I sent them a photo of Tuffy, my old kitty, who passed away last year. And they printed the images on both sides! Here are the bags:

Didn’t they turn out amazing?!

THEN, as I was browsing more ninja things on Etsy, I found a matching key fob, but the posting was only for a pattern and not something I could make myself. I asked the seller if she could make it for me, and she did! It came yesterday. Isn’t it perfect?

Goodness, I do love a theme! 😀

Just keep walking!

~Ninja