Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

As a long distance hiker spending 4-6 months on the trail at a time you get a little dirty. In an effort to be ultra-light (backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and simplest gear safely possible for a given trip) most hikers only have one outfit for this entire time. This can leave a hiker looking pretty haggard and getting some side glances from people in town. But I’m here to tell you roaming around in the woods is no excuse to not look good. Even if you are just going out for a day hike looking good is an avenue to feeling good! It can even put a little pep in your step!

                                        runaway?        runway ready!     day hiking diva!?
Now I don’t always look pulled together, but I try. Last year for the CDT I had the cutest teal Brooks top and thrift store skirt and matching teal trail runners. Unfortunately that outfit was pilfered at the gym the day before I left for the trail so I ended up with a last minute Walmart dress/plaid top uncoordinated ensemble. It worked fine but for pictures I looked like a hot mess, not cute. Looking nice is important, well for me it is, don’t judge. This one time I went into a runners shoe store in search of trail shoes. The guy helping me knew all about shoes, arch supports and toe boxes. He brought out a plethora of shoes for me to try on, but when I asked him “do you have some in a cute pink or teal” he was stumped. He replied “color doesn’t matter”. Ha! Wrong answer I replied heading for the door. Seriously, I’ve painfully strutted around in 3 inch black suede heels, but I looked so good. Now I highly recommend you getting some comfortable (preferably broken in) footwear for the trail. That being said if you want a nice color don’t be afraid to seek that out.

Now a days there are a multitude of options in ladies outer wear. If you can’t find your look in the sporting goods store, outfitters, online or just don’t want to break the bank; I got two words for ya. Thrift Store. There’s probably a flowy dress or skirt in there just waiting for ya! Throw on some leggings and boom you’re ready to crush it. I found a nice butterfly dress, that coincidentally matched my Dirty Girl gaiters, for three bucks at a thrift shop. It’s my “town dress” for when my hiking clothes are in the laundry! Turns out it’s also great for pictures and works with my tutu. Tutu!?! Yess, I wear a tutu (that I have to carry for about 50 miles) at the end of my hikes. It’s fun, cute and makes me happy, kinda like my Cargo Tail. Wait, what? Yes it’s fun and people interact or speak to me on trail because of it. Hiking is about the challenge, feeling empowered, blah, blah, blah……and fun, don’t forget to pack your fun! Besides fashion forward hiker trash get quicker hitches, maybe.

                                            Nice tail. Thanks, I been crushing it!

Right Direction – En Vogue

……confidence is silent insecurities are loud…..

My shakedown hike went well. I got in 17 miles, probably would have gotten the whole 20 in but I kept getting distracted. There were pictures I needed to remember to take, the hidden tire swing and waterfalls. It was a good day, my pack sat nicely on my hips and felt light on my shoulders.  Got a bunch of compliments on my tail (oh yea and it glows), found a great spot to clip it on my pack.


I started in the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, it’s a pretty flat trail with some small climbs if you deviate onto the side trails. Plus there is a waterfall, there was a lot of people so I didn’t linger there. My new hiking outfit is cute and comfortable but I will have to remove the sewn in shorts from the skirt. This Danskin skirt I dug out of storage, I quickly remember why i never used it. The cut of the skirt is good and fits great, now. However when I was larger it did not. Most hiking skirts are not cut for girls with curves or hips. The built in shorts ride up because I do not have a thigh gap, so they will be replaced by some more spandexy capri’s!


Been attempting to post all week, I have like 24 drafts, I get a paragraph in and then nothing. Had a bit of an emotional meltdown this week, too. The internets really got me down mid week.  Social media is exhausting and can be emotionally draining. So many many comments, everyone has a lot to say but there really doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of listening. I seems, and I could be wrong, that if you are not screaming or waving your flag you are not visible. If you have a dissenting opinion you may have a shit storm headed your way. Again I could be wrong. This is just how I see it through my glasses colored by my experiences. (new mantra: step away from the computer, put phone down and go outside)

It is only apropos as I prepare for my next hike that I feel this mix of emotion and a general life shift. The Arizona Trail is gonna test me with water issues and logistics. The Appalachian Trail will be about closure. This chapter of my life is coming to an end, yep. What is the next chapter…..don’t know…..I got writers block.

Shakedown – The Score

This is the first time I have not been hiking a bunch before a thru hike. Now, I have been running (read: slow jogging) but still I think I’m in need of some serious hiking miles. Lately all my hikes have been under 10 miles, at a leisurely pace I might add. This weekend calls for a Shakedown Hike!! (shakedown hike is a hike that’s usually done to test your gear before a long hike.) My gear is mostly dialed in, it’s more like a shakedown for body (read: feet). Actually I do need to try out a hiking outfit I’m not totally sold on yet. Sorry to say the Walmart dress, from last year, did not make the cut this time around! Oh and I really want to try out my new…….wait for it….backpack!!! I’ve had the same backpack for the last three years, a ULA Circuit, it took a beating but got me through.

I toyed with the idea of going with a different pack, nope. See if ain’t broke don’t fix it. Your pack is an extension of you, the carrier of all the things. The ULA Circuit was recommended to me, so I got it and boom! Loved it. I’m not a gear nut, I just know what works and what I like. “Blue” as I called her was a great pack, we will roll again.

But for this next adventure I’m rolling with “Black Bird” (I got the black, it also comes in green, orange, red, and multi-camo!)


my new baby!!


ULA Circuit 

  • weight: 2 lbs 9 oz
  • S-curved style shoulder straps
  • adjustable hip belt (no rubbing)
  • the 2 zip pockets fit my phone, snacks, chap-stick, knife, stuff I need to easily get to
  • plenty of adjustable straps (because sometimes you need to readjust your load)
  • hand loops (love these when I’m not using trekking poles)
  • side pockets that snug fit a water bottle or expand for tent poles, hat, gummie bears!
  • One hydration pocket and one small pocket for valuables in the interior
  • roll down top and a bunch of external attachment points

It’s so clean and nice I hate to take it outside. Yeah, right. I think it’s gonna be a big mile weekend! I’ll let you know how it goes!! Happy Trails!

In The End – Linkin Park (GEAR REVIEW)

Before I go through my gear list and review each item, please note that most of my gear I have used for the past three years. While I ended up sending home some gear home and shaving a couple of pounds off of my base pack weight, the only gear I purchased while out on the trail was a poncho. Please remember gear doesn’t have to be expensive, I had gear gifted to me, bought things from Walmart/Thrift Store. That being said invest in some quality gear, take care of it and it will serve you well.

Sleeping bag –  Big Agnes Mirror Lake 20 degree
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes
This is the same sleeping bag and it is awesome. There are a lot more expensive bags out there but this one worked incredibly for me. After three years of getting it crazy dirty and washing it, that thing still has loft and is STILL toasty warm. Highly recommend it and take care of your bag.

Backpack: ULA Circuit
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes and Yes

One heck of an investment. Love this backpack. Full disclosure I did tear the back panel on the CDT but nothing a little duct tape and sleeping pad patches couldn’t fix. That pack has held 7 days of food and 3 liters of water and all my crap at once. It rides nicely on my shoulders and rest nicely on my hips without chafing.pack

Tent: REI Passage 1
Rating:  Love
Take again: Yes

I was gifted this tent at PCT meetup! For me free standing tent is where it’s at. I’m just not that into staking out a tent. This is a one person tent but there is plenty of room in there for my pack and shoes. No condensation issues, it sets up quickly and handles the rain like a boss.


Tent: Nemo Sleeping Pad
Rating: Good
Take again: Yes
First time taking a blow up pad. This one takes a bit to blow up but it is comfy to sleep on and it doesn’t make that crunchy noise some pads make when you lay on it. I also used a piece of my old z lite (for day sitting) underneath it as I was bit concerned about popping, but nope.pad

Tent: Jet Boil
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes
I went stove-less on the PCT and then the Esbit stove on the AT. Well it makes a big difference to be able to have hot coffee and a hot meal. Once I got to Montana, the weather warmed up (and being close to finishing) I sent the Jet Boil home. Overall it’s a great stove, heats quickly, fuel is easy to find and except for the large fuel canister I kept getting it takes up very little room. boil

Trekking Poles: MSR Talus Sure lock
Rating: Like
Take again: Yespoles

Honestly I don’t use trekking poles very much, mostly just for crossing streams or when I really want to move faster. Otherwise I just don’t like have things in my hands, constantly. These actually were gifted to me on the PCT from the Dinsmore’s (Hiker Haven) after I broke my other poles (at the time I needed poles to hold up my other tent).

Shoes: Saucony
Rating: Good and inexpensive
Take again: nah, going back to Altra, maybe

Full disclosure, I bought these shoes because a) they are inexpensive and b) the teal color matched my hiking outfit, don’t judge. They are great for day hikes and in the gym, but they took a real beating on the trail. Lesson learned, invest in some good shoes.  I did the AT in Altra running shoes, they were awesome and I should have had them on the CDT. Heck I’m wearing them right now……and they come in great colors to match your outfit, oh and gaiter traps! (side note: old shoes make great planters)plant shoes


Laundry Puffy Jacket
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes
This jacket came from…..wait for it…..Burlington Coat Factory! I got it for like $60 in their winter close out sale. Thing is great. Kept me warm and made a great pillow too! Sure you can spend twice as much on an ultra light coat, or not.


So that is me and my stuff. Oh that dress is totally from Walmart! (notice the bags on my feet, stepped up my game later with Neoprene socks) If you have any gear questions…..ask away!


Trail Style

Now when it comes to hiking clothes I stick to thrift stores, inexpensive and comfy boom! Heck I even got my puffy jacket at Burlington Coat Factory (it’s great and 1/4 the price outdoor name brands) I don’t cut corners on my base layer because cold is not fun, nope! Typically when I find something that works I wear it til it falls apart. Thus my current shirt situation.

On my first thru hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was gifted a Tan Short Sleeve Columbia Titanium Shirt from a friend (thanks Marsha!).  Since I was on a limited budget most of my clothing came from thrift stores….except that shirt.

Let me just say that was a great gift! It fit great even with my pack on. I could wear an under layer with it or just my sports bra. It didn’t gather and vented enough to keep me cool.(It was a cute tan color too, just cuz your in the woods is no reason not to look good.) It was something I never would have bought myself, but it was awesome. After the trail I headed to Burning Man, I wore the shirt on the road trip. At the Burn I burned my shoes from the trail (but not that shirt).

See being on the trail carrying all your possessions you get attached to things. That shirt not only had a great front pocket for carrying my cell phone and maps, it carried memories. So with all that emotional attachment (don’t judge) I decided to wear it the next year on my hike of the Appalachian Trail! I made it all the way to Massachusetts in that shirt. Long story short I still have that shirt!

Here’s the thing though, I have another long trail coming up. At this point that shirt could probably walk the trail on it’s own! I tried to convince myself it could make it, one more time….but no. I searched Columbia’s site find this shirt but to no avail. So naturally I wrote to them hoping they had one in a back room or something.

They responded with this could be the shirt you’re looking for:


Yes! So good news they still make it…..bad news is, no tan. So black or blue I guess. It’s a bit out of my usual price range….but I’m pretty sure I’ll get my moneys worth out of it. Now blue or black….this may change my whole color scheme! or not.

AT Gear List

My AT gear list.

After Trail Update: So I have to admit I took a couple more things than were listed. First I hate to be cold, ulta light be darned. I had four pairs of socks (justification, it was rainy, humid and nothing would dry out and I hate putting on wet socks). I had two pairs of leggings, capri & full length (justification,because you just never know, and sometimes I just want dry pants). I had three bandannas (justification, I just couldn’t decide which one not to take). That being said I did end up sending home my stove (it was nice when it was chilly), and my sun hat (you are in the green tunnel, not a lot of direct sun).

I know I need to get a grip and cut back for the CDT. Mostly all my gear worked super well! Loved the tent (but I am looking at a lighter Big Agnes!! Their sleeping bags are awesome, so why not the tent!). Oh and I am stepping up my sleeping pad (got to get over my fear of the blow up ones). Let the gear shopping begin!!!



I have a new tent I’m trying out (it’s heavier) and an actual rain jacket. Oh and I am also including a stove. I’m still deciding on taking the Sawyer filter, maybe. I’m starting with my Saucony shoes and then to the Altra’s. Now if I can get this all on the plane with no issues!

Shelter- Rei one person Tent
Sleeping bag-  Big Agnes Mirror Lake
Sleeping bag stuff sac
Z Lite sleeping pad
Samsung Smartphone
Sansa Clip Mp3 Player
2 pocket chargers for gadgets
Energizer Headlamp
Sawyer Mini Water filter/iodine tablets
 Esbit Stove
Plastic container-for drinks and dinners
Titanium spoon
Smart water bottle/Gatorade bottle
Stuff sack for food
Tiny notebook and pen, permit, guidebook,etc
Various small items in ziploc: Toothbrush and toothpaste, floss with sewing needle inside, earplugs, ibuprofen, earbuds, extra chapstick, hairties, lighter.
One ounce hand sanitizer
Full size bottle of sunscreen
Toilet paper
Trash compactor bag liner
Extra pair of darn tough socks
Laundry down flash jacket
rain jacket
wool hat
Bandanna x 2
Town dress
Mosquito headnet as stuff sack for clothes
Warm tights
Total base weight of pack (this is the weight without food, water, fuel or worn clothing) 17 lbs

Worn: Hike skirt, synthetic shirt, Thorlo socks, sports bra, sun hat. Dirty girl gaiters and MSR trekking poles.

Given to fly

Thing about doing another trail is you have kinda have an idea about what’s coming at you. When I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail I had really no clue what I was getting myself into. Great thing about hiking is you’re always learning. I’ve learned that gear can make a world of difference in your enjoyment of the woods.

So I got me some better gear! Yea me. Lighter load equals enjoyable hiking. I met other hikers on the PCT that had tiny ultralight packs and I read a ton about it, hoping I could shed pack weight as well. However some things I just gotta have. As much as I love nature, and would love to float along the trail with a super light tarp, I need a tent.
It’s a bit heavier than my last one but it’s spiffy and free standing! I’m also taking a stove this time and a rain jacket. So where am I cutting the weight?…..I…..don’t….know (yet).

Ok, it’s not that bad I still think I will come in with a base weight around 22 pounds (base weight =the total weight of your entire gear kit, excluding consumables which are food, water, and fuel.) yeah….that is a lot and not light or even ultra light.

Omg I’ve been yacking about gear, for those of you wondering here is some info about the trail!

What is the Appalachian Trail?
The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a approximately 2,165 miles long continuously marked footpath in the Appalachian Mountains that spans 14 states in the eastern U.S.
Its northern terminus is Mt. Katahdin in Maine (where I will end). Its southern terminus is Springer Mtn. in Georgia (where I will begin). One in four thru-hikers who start
from Springer Mountain makes it all the way to Katahdin in Maine.

Crazy exciting right!! This is going to be another physically and mentally challenging adventure with steep climbs, rocky mountainsides and river crossings (oh gawd). So totally like the PCT but way different!! Currently working on my gear list (coming soon), learning to blog from a new phone and an itinerary that I probably won’t follow.


Gear Breakdown

When I did my preparation, I compared gear reviews from a bunch of blogs, journals and websites. It was my intention to forgo comfort for less weight. That sorta happened. They say you pack your fears and mine was cold. So I carried cold weather gear the whole trip weight be darned. So let’s get started.

Tent: Six moon – Scout

tent inside teepee, yes!!

Upside: Light weight
Downside: Honestly I wasn’t too happy with this choice. Anybody around when I put it up knows of my displeasure. Using trekking poles as tent poles is great til you break your poles in the middle of the woods. Plus staking it down was kinda a pain, especially setting up in the rain or snow.

Sleeping bag: Big Agnes Mirror 20 degree
Upside: Simply put, warm. Even when I cowboy camped and it got all wet, I was warm inside. When it was warm I just threw it over me, still great.

Backpack: ULA Circuit
train track_preview

Upside: Light weight, the fit was great, held more than enough stuff and really sturdy.
Downside: Could use like two more pockets. Also wish there was a way to put away and get poles without having to take off my pack. Like if I could whip them on the pack all ninja style would be cool. But maybe that’s asking too much.

Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Z/MSR. Talus Sure lock

Upside: The Black Diamond was great & light weight, til they broke. Not even sure how, it just snapped at the z part. First one then the other. But they lasted all but 2 weeks. The MSR were a tad bit heavier, but super sturdy. (thanks Dinsmore’s for the poles)

Downside: I really only use the poles when I want to really move or crossing water. Most of the time they are strapped to my pack. However, they were necessary for my tent.

Shoes: Brooks Cascadia 9/New Balance

Ok, so here is the shoe situation. August 2014 I got my Brooks to tryout, loved them. So I trained in them and started the PCT in them. So great comfy, light weight and no blisters. I was happy as a chipmunk, however they had plenty of miles from the jump. So by the time I went to order more (around the Sierras), too late. I could only find Brooks 10 in my size (not my fav). My bad. So I picked up some New Balance and shipped my lovingly used Brooks to Ashland. The NB did not work for me, my feet are flat and weird, but they got me to Ashland where I slipped back into my old Brooks. Now yes I should have gotten new shoes, but I tend to make do and I wanted to ride it out. So I slipped in some inserts and made it to Canada. I don’t recommend this. Ok enough about shoes.

Rain gear: Or lack the of =poncho

I did not have adequate rain gear. There I said it. A rain poncho works well….until it doesn’t. Lesson learned, invest in rain jacket and pack cover. Even though nothing in my pack got wet, except for when I spilled water in there.

Energizer Headlamp: It was inexpensive and worked like it was, but it worked. Basically it just wasn’t very bright.

Cold Weather Gear:

Walker pass_preview

Laundry Puffy jacket-not the lightest, but inexpensive and warm
Cool Max long sleeve top- loved it, kept me super warm!

Wool hat, fingerless gloves (camo insulated gloves for Sierras), leggings, cropped workout pants. Surprisingly this all kept me toasty enough.

Socks- I had a lot of socks, so weird, I lost some, bought some, was gifted some. I really liked the Thorlos and the Darn Tough the best though.

Well I think that is it. I really didn’t have that much stuff. Daily I wore my black skirt (found at a thrift store years ago and used to bike in, that skirt could tell some stories). Topped it off with a Columbia short sleeved shirt (loved it even more when I found the hidden pocket), dirty girl gaiters (all the kids are wearing um) sports bra and my Pat hat!

So time ton start working on my new gear list…….I’m gonna need some things!!!

All the things……

So here is all my gear!


(camera phone was being janky) Doesn’t seem like much. But that’s everything except food and water! Weighting in at 17 pounds! What the…! I was totally at 7 lbs, then added a few things. Maybe 17 is ok, oh I dunno. Through the desert I’ll be carrying a lot of water, so well I’m concerned about weight.

I also got a knife, finally. My friend Pat hooked me up! It’s not pink but I love it and it has good vibes. Watch apples and salami!




Tumbles, Tents and Ticked off

So I took a tumble the other day. Yep sad face.

Ok, I’m being dramatic. I was on the trail, of course, coming down this very large hill. Totally slipped on some loose gravel, it was really rocky. Landed my bum right on a rock (bruise), slid a bit on my elbow (there was blood) and tweaked my knee. Oh and my pride hurt a little too. No really at least I know have matching bruises on both elbow (got the other one in cycling spill). The knee was my biggest concern, according to web MD I’ll be fine or I have ebola,

I got my new tent Six Moons Skyscape Scout! It packs all super tiny. Then I had to set it up…..I’ve set up tents 5 times the size of this one easier. I actually had to whip out the Youtube video (in the park) to figure it out. Ok, I just need more practice. But I am using my trekking poles as tent poles (saves weight). It’s kinda tricky getting those in the right spot. I wonder if people ever roll over bump the pole and knock the whole tent down. hmmmm Now I have to seal the seams. No, I have never done that. This should be interesting.


I had said I won’t mention my REI trip today, but I needed another T for my witty title. They kinda ticked me off. They are just not helpful at all. This guy working there was …….You know what nevermind. It’s all good.