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

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, 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

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

New Stuff

TL/DR: I’m getting new gear! <Leaps around house for joy.>

In light of our new plan to hike the PCT in Oregon, I have ordered a new, lighter and less bulky sleeping bag, and a new, lighter and less bulky tent. I expect to receive both of them today, along with a new Dyneema bag for my clothes.

When we were in California on the PCT, everyone noted how heavy and big our packs seemed to be, and while we did send a few pounds back home, our packs were still inordinately (I thought) heavy. I was using the ULA Catalyst pack, which is a 75-liter pack that can carry 40 lbs maximum. I bought this larger pack in anticipation of having to carry a bear canister on the PCT while in the Sierra. While I don’t know how many pounds I had in the pack, especially with food and water, the pack wasn’t comfortable and after about 4 miles would start to feel like it was hanging from my shoulders. I think it was more from the heaviness of the things in the pack than the pack itself, as I have carried my ULA Circuit (68L, max load 35 lbs) on more than one backpacking trip and found it to be very comfortable.

Last year before our summer backpacking I did tons of research and bought a new tent (Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 – 2lbs 3 oz) and a new sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Women’s Cloud 20, a zipperless bag – 2lbs 4 oz). I anticipated using both on the PCT this year. While the tent is awesome (didn’t leak, only got condensation when we camped near a lake) it takes a long time to set up, weighs over 2 lbs., and is bulky. Also, the zippers are hard to open and since it is silicone-impregnated nylon (sil-nylon) it sags when it gets wet and takes awhile to dry. And while the sleeping bag kept me warm, I found that the zipperless design was inconvenient for me to wriggle in and out of, especially in the night when nature called. Plus, it kept losing feathers all over the place. Since it is 800-fill down, it doesn’t pack down as small as I’d like. (Note to those interested: 800-fill down is usually duck down, while 900-fill down is goose down, which packs smaller. Why? I don’t know.)

As many hikers/backpackers do, I like to watch videos on YouTube about other hikers’ gear lists. One of these hikers is Condor, or Tiki Bird Tracy, who is thru-hiking the PCT this year. While watching her 2022 PCT gear vid I noticed that she also has the ULA Circuit pack, but while I struggled to get all my goodies in the pack she could fit hers in with no problem. In the video, she stuffs her sleeping bag, tent, and clothes bag in the bottom of her pack and everything fits with what looks like plenty of room for the rest of her stuff. When we got home from our PCT thru attempt I started researching lighter, less bulky gear and I went back to Tracy’s video and studied her gear, especially her tent and sleeping bag.

Tracy is using a ZPacks Classic sleeping bag, which is fancy and expensive. She is also using the ZPacks Duplex tent, which is even more fancy and more expensive. After more research on tents and sleeping bags, and after watching videos of Tracy on the PCT, I decided to order from ZPacks the Duplex tent (spruce green, it’s a thicker material and more opaque than the blue – 20.5 oz) and the 10F Full Zip sleeping bag with 900 fill power goose down in green – 26.9 oz, because I surmise it will be easier for me to get in and out of. The tent and sleeping bag each come with a dedicated Dyneema dry bag.

Some Pros:
* The Duplex is fancy!
* The Duplex is made of Dyneema, which means it is strong, it doesn’t absorb water and is easy to dry off (There can be a problem with condensation in the inside, but according to my research it isn’t as much of a problem as I thought it would be when I bought the Tiger Wall instead of the Duplex last year.) When using a Dyneema tent, you also don’t have to use a separate groundcloth to protect the bottom of the tent. More weight savings there.
* The Duplex sets up with trekking poles so I won’t have to carry tent poles (now, the reason I didn’t buy it last year is because I didn’t think I wanted a trekking pole tent. What if one of my poles breaks? I have decided that if one if my poles breaks I will use one of Marnie’s poles to set up my tent, har.)
* The Duplex is quick to set up and you don’t have as much worry about getting rain in it since it is a single wall tent and all sets up at once.
* The Duplex rolls up pretty small.
* The Duplex is green instead of orange-y like the Tiger Wall.
* The Duplex has line-loc adjusters on the guylines, which make it simple to pitch.

* The sleeping bag is fancy!
* The sleeping bag is a 10-degree bag, better than the 20-degree rating of my current bag.
* The full zipper on the sleeping bag will make it easy to extricate myself from the bag and get into it, especially in the dark.
* The sleeping bag will pack down smaller than the bag I have.

Some Cons:
* The Duplex is expensive. Although, I did save $50 during the Memorial Day sale.
* The Duplex can get condensation inside, and it can drip on your head or your down sleeping bag. I will bring a “shammy” super-absorbent towel to alleviate this problem.
* The Duplex does not come with tent stakes, so you have to order theirs or supply your own. Since I would be using my MSR Groundhog stakes anyway, this is almost not a con.

* The sleeping bag is expensive.
* The sleeping bag doesn’t have a hood, so it might be hard to keep my pillow on my sleeping pad. I will look for ways to fix this. But since it is six feet long and I am only 5’6″ I should have room to pull it up over my head, so the lack of hood won’t be missed by my ears.
* There is not a sleeping pad sleeve to keep the bag on the pad, like on my Sierra Designs bag. While that is a great feature, it is really difficult to get the sleeve around the pad when you’re sitting down in the tent anyway, and I didn’t want to try wrassling with it outside of the tent and dropping it in the dirt.

In using the new tent, new sleeping bag, and (old) ULA Circuit pack, I will actually be saving about 4 lbs in weight! That may not sound like much, but when you’re carrying it on your back (and your knees, ankles, feet, etc.) it’s a good amount. My base weight (pack weight without food and water) has gone down to around 16 lbs., which, while certainly not ultralight, is acceptable. I am anxiously awaiting my new gear today (hurry up, UPS man!). Unfortunately it is going to rain here until next Tuesday so I won’t set the tent up until after the rains, I want to set it up on dry ground first just in case. I have been blessed to receive a whole lot of work in the last couple of months, which allowed me to pay for the new gear without stressing about it. God is good, all the time!

The moral of the story is, when researching and buying backpacking gear, weight and bulk should be a big part of your consideration.

I also got some fun little things to backpack with. I’ll share those in another post!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, hiking, PCT

New Plan

Good news!  Next week we will be planning our PCT section hike of Oregon.  The plan is to start sometime in July (hopefully after the snow is melted) and hike the whole state of Oregon.  We’ve hiked a number of miles on the Oregon PCT already, but most of it will be new to us.  Yay! Now to plan our start date and resupply locations. More to come after the planning!

PCT Oregon map from portlandrunning.com

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Change, Christian Life, Cool Stuff, Doing Things Differently, Fun, God, hiking, PCT

PCT, Here We Come!!

So here is my official announcement blog post — my bestie Marnie and I plan to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022!! The trail traverses California, Oregon, and Washington, from Mexico to Canada, and is 2650 miles long. We plan to start at the southern terminus at the Mexico border and head north. It is a journey of five or six months, depending on how fast you hike.

PCT Southern Terminus – photo from thetrek.co
PCT Northern Terminus – photo from PCTA.org

We have gotten our thru-hike permits from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (albeit for days at the end of May which isn’t feasible when hiking through the California desert, we are looking for cancellations to get a better date and a date together) and we are working to get prepared for the trail.

EDIT: We were able to get permits for the end of March! Yay!

We would love it if you would pray for us for these specifics:

  • That God will be glorified in our hiking.
  • Provision (finances, bravery, physical and mental strength, etc.) for the trail.
  • Protection from injury/illness, ice, snow, water crossings, critters, anything else.
  • Fitness and ability to get good nutrition on trail (both of us sometimes find it hard to eat while backpacking).
  • Successful and smooth food and resupply boxes prep (there are places where there isn’t a good place to resupply for food, we will mail supply boxes to those places).
  • That we will get our “trail legs” soon so we can hike the miles we need to hike to finish on time (before the snows in Washington).
  • Energy to journal at the end of each day.
  • That neither of us will experience post-trail depression when we get home, but instead have energy and enthusiasm for the next stage of our lives.
  • Anything else applicable that you can think of!
Marnie (left) and me on a day hike.

Thank you!! Please feel free to ask any questions about our trip in the comments!

And if you want to know more about the PCT, The Trek’s website is a great place to start!