ALDHA-West Gathering 2017, Keystone Colorado

I first learned of the American Long Distance Hiking Association (ALDHA-West) while hiking a section of the PCT in 2013. Each fall this organization holds an event to bring together hikers and the trail community. I wasn’t sure this was my community as I hadn’t thru hiked any of the long trails, so I resisted attending in 2013, and as the years went by for some reason or another continued to skip this event. Well in 2017, I vowed if I was near the vicinity near the event date I’d attend.

One of the highlights is Triple Crown Awards, recognizing those who’ve hiked the three long trails, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Appalachian Trail (AT).  That’s about 8,000 miles of walking!

It’s a great place to connect with friends and make new ones. A surprise for me was finding Chili and Pepper, a father son team whom I provided trail magic in 2011. There were several who I’d been facebook friends with for years and finally got to meet in person. My reunion would have been incomplete without Buddy Backpacker whom I first met when he was hiking the PCT in 2016. 

And, now at 9 years old, he’s a record-setting Triple Crowner. Outside Online’s article, “This 9-Year-Old Completed Thru-Hiking’s Triple Crown,” is a good place to catch the details of his accomplishments.

The presentations were outstanding. I especially enjoyed hearing about two gals who hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) in 1979, the same year one of my friends did the same. I was able to reunite them. 

Who doesn’t like games? Especially ones related to hiking like how fast can you pack, or dig a cat hole, or filter water, or eat trail mix? 

Trail angels enhance our journeys, and therefore it was only fitting that ALDHA-West includes recognition in this program. This year long-time, much-loved PCT trail angels, the Dinsmores were honored. Here’s a link to the podcast

My thoughts about this organization and event:

  • The leadership gets an A+. I was very impressed with the team. They are go getters, balancing professionalism with fun.
  • The event is also deserving of an A+
    • The time police kept the program running according to the itinerary
    • There was adequate time for visiting along with the formalized program
    • The eats and drinks were well matched to this group
    • Accommodations were adequate
    • Presentations were a nice mix of topics
    • Location was good
    • Price was acceptable
  • Did I belong as someone who still hasn’t thru hiked one of the big 3 long trails?
    • YES!
  • Would I go again?
    • Maybe, it was a little overwhelming for me, but there were many things I enjoyed . . . so probably if the location and timing fit my schedule.

 

Want to know more? I encourage you to check out the ALDHA-West web page and consider joining the organization. At $15 per year it’s a great value.  You can read more about this event in their recent Gazette article.

Links:

 

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Finding Happiness . . . 7 years in the making

Facebook just reminded me of my first backpacking trip. 2010 was a GREAT year!

I started off with an inexpensive pack from Big 5 and a five pound Sierra Designs Tent.

Lessons:

  1. Capacity matters: buy pack after gear otherwise you might find yourself short of space
  2. Fit matters: just like your favorite pair of jeans
  3. Pockets and compartments don’t matter: so much wasted time searching for stuff
  4. Weight matters: grams = ounces = pounds = PAIN

Thankfully I’d already discovered the world of long distance hiking, and kick ass hiker blogs, so after that miserable yet enlightening trip, I got busy making lots and lots of changes.

Since then so many miles and smiles and memories. Unforgettable experiences. I found my tribe, my happy spot. 

Link to more jabber on Long-Distance Hiking

Food Jabber – Budget, Time, and Health Friendly Meal Prep

Food is fuel and while many can get away with Pop Tarts, Snickers and Top Ramen as their primary nutrition, it doesn’t work for me. Others have big wallets and live on Mountain House meals. The majority of hikers though find themselves somewhere in between. I’ve experimented a lot over the years and this is what I’ve found works for my current lifestyle.

Breakfast

At home, I eat low carb, high protein. I’ve never been able to tolerate sweets in the morning. If I don’t start my day with protein, I bonk. I’ve created my own cereal mix which can be eaten hot or cold. It has sufficient calories and protein to keep me climbing hills while also keeping my taste buds satisfied.

Pick your ingredients and customize to match your personal palate. You can easily increase the protein by adding nuts, milk or quinoa.

For this batch I started with a multigrain cereal (rye, barley, oats and wheat). Then added steel cut oats, regular oats, flax, chia and hemp seeds, bran, dried fruit, cinnamon, brown sugar and the secret ingredient, egg white protein powder which has 16 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, is tasteless and dissolves easily. Buying in the bulk food bins makes this even more economical. This large bowl made 45 servings (heaping 1/2 cup dry). I didn’t price out the ingredients so not really sure of cost per serving but I’m sure a fraction of prepackaged cereal.

Tip: use a wide-mouth funnel to fill bags to keep crumbs out of zip track. 

Another option I’ve discovered is crackers combined with a protein-rich spread. Each of these makes a 400 calorie meals with 10 grams of protein. 

As part of my second breakfast, I like to have cold coffee with chia seeds (60 calories per tablespoon and 3 grams of protein). SmartWater bottle + vanilla coffee + chia seeds = YUM! Tip: use a funnel to fill the pill bag. Cut the corner of the bag to pour into bottle (avoid spillage in wilderness especially near water supply). Tip: leave bottle on side while seeds are absorbing water, shake frequently, otherwise you’ll have an undrinkable glob at bottom of bottle.

Lunch and/or Dinner:

Although I much prefer homemade meals, they are time consuming to create and dehydrate, plus they tend to have a shorter shelf life and are sensitive to heat. Thus, I choose to take the easy, but less delicious route. My meals need to work with hot or cold water since I frequently hike stoveless. I don’t like packaged meat such as tuna, chicken, spam, etc. so I use soy (TVP) as my protein instead. I’ve not had success rehydrating regular pasta with cold water but have found bean-based products by Explore Cuisine work great and are a perfect substitute.

Base ingredients:

  • Instant rice
  • Instant potatoes
  • Rice sides
  • Bean noodles
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa

Primary sources of protein:

Flavorings:

  • Seasoning packets (i.e. taco, spaghetti, stew, pesto)
  • Bouillon
  • Powdered cheese
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil

Sample Meals:

  • Instant rice + TVP + refried beans + taco seasoning
  • Instant potatoes + TVP + powdered cheese + red pepper flakes
  • Edamame noodles + TVP + bouillon seasoning
  • Adzuki noodles + TVP + spaghetti sauce seasoning
  • Stuffing mix + couscous + TVP

Within a few hours, I packaged up nearly 70 meals. My portion size is about 1/2 cup dry.

Snacks:

I prefer savory to sweet. My base ingredients tend to be nut based, then I add various flavors to different bags so I don’t get the same mix daily. 

Bars are my least favorite snack, especially protein bars. I seem to carry them around more than I ever eat them . . . My motto is keep trying new things and have a nice assortment to choose from. The Trader Joe Sweet and Salty granola bar was my latest purchase. In the future I’ll buy my sweet items at resupply stops.

All packed up and ready to hit the trails. 

Amazon Shopping Links:

Jan’s Long-Distance Hiking Jabber Link

Dear Friends & Family, If I become a Missing Person . . .

Recent missing hiker stories compelled me to do some research on how I could better prepare my family and friends should I become MIA. This is what I’ve done to hopefully be found sooner than later. 


Dear Friends & Family,

When you don’t receive two InReach checkin messages from me (usually about 12 hours apart), these are the steps to take.

1. Do a little detective work

Call my cell phone, send a locate and text message to my InReach, check my InReach map, check my facebook postings, check my google timeline, post an inquiry to my private tracking page, message me on my facebook. Search for my phone (use Google Android Tracking Manager).

If no response nor additional checkins after another 12 hours (therefore missed a total of 3-4 checkins), it’s time to get the authorities involved. Yes, there’s a chance that my InReach is broken or lost, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. My consistent checkins will help authorities understand your concerns.

2. Contact law enforcement

Who to contact? Authorities in the county, city or national park from which I last had an InReach checkin (most likely a sheriff’s department). (TIP: You can start with a 911 call and dispatchers should transfer you to the applicable jurisdiction.)

What to say? You want to file a missing persons report (there is NO waiting period to file a report).

Details you’ll need for the report (TIP: Provide your emergency contact or support team a USB drive with the following):

√ Nicknames or aliases used by the person (include trail name if applicable)

√ Address and phone number (include cell carrier so phone can be pinged)

√ Physical description, including height, weight, age, hair color, eye color, build, etc. (TIP: include copy of your driver’s license and a current photo.)

√ Description of the clothing and shoes the person was last seen wearing, include size, color and brand if known (TIP: include photos of you wearing your various layers of clothing, including hat, sunglasses, pack, shoes, etc., plus your shoe tread and print.)

√ List of possessions the person might be carrying, with name/color/model of items such as backpack and tent (TIP: include photos of your pack, tent, sleeping bag, contents of resupply box, etc.)

√ List of scars, tattoos, and other identifying characteristics (TIP: include photos)

√ List of medications the person was taking, as well as allergies, handicaps, and other medical conditions (TIP: include photo of insurance card and doctor names)

√ List of relatives or friends of the missing person, along with contact information

√ List of places the person has been recently (TIP: include your trip itinerary. ReConn Trip Record provides a detailed form. Also a link to your SPOT or InReach map if applicable)

√ Description of the person’s car with license plate, make, model, color anything unique (if applicable) (TIP: include photos)

√ Description of the situation surrounding the person’s disappearance (TIP: discuss any weather, terrain, medical condition concerns)

Keep a record of the report. Make sure you obtain a case number for your missing person’s report. Write down the name of the person in charge of your case.

3. Push officials for Search & Rescue (SAR) help. You are my advocate and need to be the squeaky wheel. Stay in contact with assigned authority. Ask them to check on any recent phone activity.

4. Contact the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). The US Department of Justice operates this system. NamUs lets you upload information about a missing person for use by law enforcement officials, agencies, and individuals. The site helps missing persons cases wrap up sooner by providing this information to the public.

5. Things you can do behind the scenes while officials are doing their thing.

√ Create a facebook group with the specific purpose of collecting and dispersing details in one place. Some have suggested Reddit is a better option.

√ Create a document/spreadsheet to help keep track of and coordinate activities.

√ Spread the word:

√ Create a post to my facebook asking if anyone has seen or heard from me and link it to a new group page asking friends to share to their page and hiker groups etc.

√ Create a flier with and have it posted at nearby trailheads, towns, roads, etc. Post the flier on the new facebook group page to be shared among social media including Instagram using most popular hash tags. The flier should include recent photos, contact number for authorities, link to facebook group page, date missing, last known location, etc.

√ Contact nearby forest service offices, ranger stations, national parks, BLM, fish and game, etc.

√ Contact nearby hospitals and coroners office.

√ Contact media (TV, newspaper, radio, etc).

√ Contact local hiking, equestrian, ATV and hunting/fishing groups.

√ Solicit search assistance (coordinate with authorities and/or SAR).

6. Stay optimistic, I’m a survivor!

I’ll do my very best to prevent you from ever needing this information. Just in case, THANK YOU for doing your very best to help find me.

♥ Jan ♥


Tips:

  • Dedicated Web or Facebook Page:

I created a private facebook page several years ago to help with the process. I post my itinerary and include a link to my InReach map. There’s also a file which includes my emergency contacts, medical information, cell phone provider, credit card info and the “what to do if” page. Photos of me, my gear, shoes, shoe tread, vehicle, license plate, typical resupply box and contents, etc. are on in a shared google album.

  • Emergency Device:

I carry an InReach because I like the signal confirmation it provides as well as the capability of two-way texting. I subscribe to the lowest level plan which is about $12/month. With that I send out a checkin each morning and evening I’m on trail, plus I send a map checkin whenever I transition between trails or go off-trail as well as when I leave and return to my vehicle. I also use it for weather updates and urgent communication. On the home screen it includes my phone # as well that of an emergency contact.

I strongly encourage carrying a device, especially when hiking solo, whether it be a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or a satellite communicator such as the InReach or SPOT devices.

  • Identification:

Keep your ID readily available for those cases when you can’t speak for yourself. I was involved in an accident where I was in shock and couldn’t answer any of the basic questions. After that I created a sheet I carry with me which has all the important information like name, address, medical history and allergies, emergency contacts, medical insurance, etc. Another option is Road ID.

  • Emergency Contacts:

Keep your phone updated with ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts. Many phones have that as a special designation so others can access without needing your locked pad code.

  • Password List:

Consider having your list available to at least one of your emergency contacts. I have mine in my Safety Deposit Box.

  • Preferences:

Notify your family and friends of your preferences. Some hikers don’t want a search activated. Be sure everyone knows so SAR resources are not wasted and families stressed unnecessarily. If you are interested in rescue, how soon do you want to be reported missing? I have mine set to 24 hours, which most likely means SAR will not be activated for another 24-48 hours.

  • Hiker Ethics:
    • Be a responsible hiker
    • Carry the 10 essentials (and know how to use them)
    • Designate emergency contact or support team and provide them with your itinerary, etc.
    • Consider taking the Wilderness First Aid course

 

Resource Links:

If you have other thoughts, please comment so I can update my post. Special thanks to all my angels who keep an electronic eye on me. I appreciate being held accountable and knowing that I have friends who CARE!

 

 

Snow Travel Skills – Living to Adventure Another Day

Snow in October, it’s a rare treat in far Northern California. It has many of us excited about early season play.

I was introduced to snow hiking and snowshoeing about six years ago, and fell in love.

On several occasions my naivety could have left me severely injured or dead, but I think this incident was my wake-up call. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” My right foot punched through the snow and got trapped, snowshoe and all. Meanwhile my left leg was at this very awkward position. I felt helpless and would have had a difficult time digging myself out. Thankfully I had a partner this day, who lent a helpful hand. 

It seems every year about this time, hikers on long-trails find themselves racing the clock of Old Man Winter.  In the Northern Cascades, hikers play Russian Roulette. Some have the skills, most do not. Alternates exist, but border fever rages strong. Is it worth the risk? With permission from the photographer, I’m sharing these images as a way to further discussion about skills needed for snow travel.

What do you know about avalanche risk and survival rates? This is a route I like to snowshoe annually. I’d always been nervous about sliding down the steep slope but until I learned about avalanche risk, I had no idea of the gamble I was taking. (Note: minimal danger on this date)

The slope above our path.

What about cornices? I was hiking Section P of the PCT in California early season one year. It snowed while I was camped on the ridge above Castle Crags. The next morning as I hiked north, there was snow on the trail. When I reached the ridge above the Deadfall Basin, I was confronted with this cornice. 

As now a seasoned winter traveler, I knew about cornice danger. Below are a couple of photos that illustrate the risk. Step on the edge and down, down, down you go.

Getting back to my PCT experience, I took time exploring the slope hoping for a safe route. The trail is on the left below the peak, which if you look closely has a snow fracture, a slab avalanche biding it’s time. 

What did I do? I retreated. I wanted to live to hike another day. As a side note, I met a thru-hiker the next day who was following me (he’d jumped the Sierra). He saw my footsteps stop at the ridge, and thought maybe I was a day hiker. Having minimal snow travel skills, he plunged over the cornice. Thankfully he survived, but the experience scared him so badly he wanted nothing further to do with snow and got off trail. “I’ve been lucky many times, but I’d rather be prepared through education and experience, than rely on luck.

Are you prepared to cross snow bridges?

How are your navigation skills? 

Are you hypothermia aware and prepared?

Do you have the right equipment, training and experience for terrain and conditions? 

Do you have the skills to read snow conditions? 

As my friend Steve, an experienced mountaineer, said “the snow does not care if you are novice or have experience. Anyone entering the backcountry and traveling up and down or traversing moderate to steep slopes, especially north facing slopes should take a basic mountaineering course (ice axe clinic). The combination of an avalanche safety awareness and training course along with a basic mountaineering course plus rockfall awareness and some common sense may just be enough to save someone’s life as long as they follow safe procedures.”

And John, an experienced mountaineer and avalanche forecaster, had these thoughts “How long ago did the snow fall? What was the old snow surface layer? What is the old snow stratigraphy? What is the new snow stratigraphy? What was the wind like during and after the storm? What is the temp history?

Ned, another experienced mountaineer and lifelong mountain educator, shared this “Here’s the concern regarding deep powder snow on dry ground, early season (vs. on old consolidated snow): Rocks, logs, little trees, boulders, etc. keep snow from moving downhill (as in a powder sluff), but when the new snow is deeper than those low retainers, there’s nothing to hold the snow above them and they can slide if there is enough weight, steepness, poor bonding, or triggers (like the traversing tracks of hikers or skiers). An indicator of a really hazardous condition caused by deep, wet snow are those ‘pinwheels’ or little snowballs spontaneously created by the weight of the snowpack and its steepness.” Mountain Education, Inc. provides classes specific to PCT hikers.

Carolyn (aka Ravensong), not only an experienced mountaineer but one who lives and plays in the north cascades and who is playing a key role in trying to keep late season PCT hiker’s alive, shares her words of wisdom, “PCTers late in the season on early snow years are unfortunately at high risk for tragedy, which is significantly heightened by having no education or experience in winter conditions of the North Cascades- ‘Alps of America.’ PCTers may be entering the field of winter mountaineering in late September and October. When a base layer covers the rock of an avalanche zone and there is 6+ inches of new snow the avalanche risk enters the ‘red’ zone. No one one can be entirely accurate on when one will occur, even with years of experience. Most PCTers believe they know about traveling across snow from the Sierras ‘old snow’. They do not have the basic knowledge of ‘new snow’, key factors in choice of route and alternates, methods used by mountaineers in winter conditions, rescue process, risk to rescuers and most important understanding their level of knowledge and experience in winter mountaineering. Key factors can be found in Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, Chapter 22: Key Factors How to Stay Alive.”

Scott, a facebook friend, had these very helpful tips. “First rule of thumb is to stay off of new snow for 48 hours (in the Northwest anyway. Really cold places like Rockies present their own problems with slope instability at any time.) Second rule of thumb is to stay off of slopes between 45-60 degrees as much as you can. Third rule is to spread out so only one person crosses at a time. If one person sets off a slide, the other can watch and hopefully see where they end up so they can dig them out. MY rule is to know where not to stick your neck (or other body parts) while in avalanche country.

Take the Avy 1 Course.  “At the end of the course the student should be able to plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain, recognize avalanche terrain, describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain, learn and apply effective companion rescue.”

What’s in your pack? Do you have adequate gear for emergencies? I carry a lot more during the winter than the summer as conditions just aren’t very forgiving (link to my list). Yes, that’s my blood!

Ready to make new friends?

Are you prepared for group think?  As Otter said, “Group mentality with humans is strange. People do stuff in groups they never would do alone.”

“Once the first person goes thru the others see this and follow. Sometimes they go places they shouldn’t and wouldn’t go by themselves, but they just go. It’s so hard to turn back after over 2500 miles. Imagine the difficulty in turning back…, let’s say you hiked 40 of the 60 and reached a place where you were too scared to go. You would have to not only hike back the forty over tough terrain. You would have to tell everyone you did not make it because you could not get past a spot that maybe they made it over. Because of these factors thru hikers don’t turn back as often as they should. Generally as a group I’m surprised we have had so few bad accidents. One person’s danger ceiling is another person’s danger floor depending on their expertise, experience and nerves. So you got to do what’s right for you and your group and not worry about what others are doing.”

There is a ton of information available on the internet, and through local resources such as gear shops, to help you gain the skills needed to become an experienced and competent snow traveler. The purpose of this post is to stimulate thought, action and responsibility. Please don’t become a statistic because of laziness or ignorance. 

It’s all fun and games until it isn’t. Knowledge is power!

Let’s Talk Poo

Openly conversing about number two is a completely acceptable and popular topic in the wilderness, second only to food, and at times as controversial as politics and religion.

Sharing is Caring:

  • Are you healthy?
  • Are you clean?
  • Are you practicing LNT (Leave No Trace)?

There are some pretty funny videos and books out about this topic, but for this post, I’ll limit it to what’s in my kit and my methods of staying clean and healthy while practicing LNT.

My Poo Kit: Poo Kit

  • Ditty Bag – Appropriately color coded, sh*t brown of course.
  • TrowelDeuce of Spades, nothing but the best for this gal, and even better because it was in my Christmas stocking.
  • Wipes – Dried (I just open package and let air dry); Wysi are sold as dry wipes.
  • Antibacterial Wipes  I prefer unscented but hard to find; I’m still experimenting with better options.
  • Garbage Bag – Black doggy poo bags from your local pet store are a great option.
  • Freezer Bags – I like the pint size, one for antibacterial wipes and another for dry wipes.

Preparation:

The bidet bottle is filled with water and a couple drops of Dr. Bronner’s soap. My kit has 2 dry wipes and 2 antibacterial wet wipes per day, with a few extras of each thrown in for multi-day trips.

My Method:

  • Dig a hole with my trusty Deuce of Spades trowel, preferably according to LNT specifications (6-8″ deep hole, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails).
  • Prepare for the big event (essentials out and ready).
  • Do my business.
  • Spray my hiney hole with the bidet bottle.
  • Wet a dry wipe with the bidet bottle solution and clean that hiney hole.
  • Place dirty wipe in doggy trash bag.
  • Use antibacterial wet wipe for final clean of privates, front then back. It may cause drying which I counteract with A&D Ointment.
  • Place dirty wipe in doggy trash bag.
  • Find a stick or rock and stir my business, mixing well with natural elements such as dirt. It should no longer be discernible, the natural composting process has been expedited, and it’s less likely animals will find buried treasure.
  • Fill the hole with natural elements. Do NOT cover with the magic rock. It will slow down the natural composting process. If you’re in a heavy use area, you can stand a stick up in the pile which to some signifies a poo burial site.
  • Toss the poo stick or rock away from the poo burial site, making it less likely an animal will find your business.
  • Cleanse hands with another antibacterial wipe (or sanitizing gel)
  • Place dirty wipe in doggy trash bag.
  • Collect my tools of the trade and stash back into that brown ditty bag.

Epilogue:

Relax, eat, drink, hike and get ready for the next big event!

 

What’s in your kit? What’s your system?

 

 

 

 

Backpacking Skills – Preparing Your Resupply Boxes

As a methodical person, always looking for ways to be more efficient, I’ve found the below steps help me hike more and toil in prep-land less.

1. Resupply Locations

Determine the recommended places to send your packages. Verify addresses and shipping method, this is not a time you want your package returned for bad address. Consider reasons you may use one location over another. For example, the post office may have limited hours, the resort may charge a fee, one location requires a long hitch, the other a short walk. If shipping through USPS, priority mail flat rate boxes usually are the most economical, plus they can be tracked; regional flat rates are even better.

2. Days between Locations

This is a learning process and invariably includes a bit of guess work. It’s the most stressful part for me as I don’t want to end up with not enough or too much food.

My current method is to determine mileage between locations and divide that by a conservative daily hiking rate and again by a goal rate. I then average those rates to determine number of days for that resupply.

Example: A 100 mile section at 12 miles per day would take 8.3 days, and at 15 miles per day 6.7 days, or an average of 7.5 days.

For this example, I’d probably carry 7 days of food, plus throw in an extra breakfast. You’ll often have an opportunity to buy additional food at the resupply location and dig through a hiker’s box if you find you’ve been extra hungry or are anticipating challenging terrain that’ll slow you down.

I use a simple spreadsheet to help with this task (and update it along the way as part of the learning process).

3. Prepping Food Bags

  • Gather and organize food, repackage when appropriate
  • Create a spreadsheet to manage calories, nutrition, weight and categories of food
  • Number inexpensive one gallon clear plastic bags (one for each day on trail)
  • Fill bags on a rotational system
    • Breakfasts – I usually have two options
    • Dinners – I have about a dozen options
    • Snacks – I divide these into salty, sweet, bars, bites, etc. then rotate among them
  • My bags are prepped for about 2,000 calories and weigh about 1 pound per day. (I’ll detail in a future post.)

4. Prepping Miscellaneous Bag

  • Gather and organize toiletries, etc. It helps to have a checklist. (I’ll detail in a future post.)
  • Town chore items – I include about 1/2 cup of powdered unscented OxiClean to presoak my socks and use as laundry soap. I also include either a denture tablets to sterilize my water containers, drinking tube, filter, toothbrush, spoon, etc. I’ve just started including quarters for laundry.
  • Town luxuries – consider sending yourself shampoo, conditioner, lotion, q-tips, etc. especially if you have perfume or skin sensitivities.
  • Town food prep – include a few various size plastic bags to repackage town food or replace worn bags in pack. I also have the gallon size bags I packed my food in that can be used for other purposes or donated to the hiker box if not needed.

5. Prepping Map Bag

  • Take photos of critical information in case your box is lost (i.e. water waypoints, town guides)
  • Place maps for the next section in a gallon size bag. Consider including a replacement pen at least monthly (I use a Sharpie extra fine point to guard against water smears which inevitably happen).

6. Other Stuff

  • Will you need different gear for the next section such as microspikes, mosquito repellent? headnet?
  • Will be sending stuff home, include your pre-addressed label. Consider including a self-addressed stamped envelope for sending maps or notes home.
  • Is there a box holding fee? I like knowing the right change is available to quickly retrieve my box.

7. Prepping the Box

  • External Label include your real name, what trail you’re hiking and your ETA date (you can use range)
  • Internal Label – same as exterior
  • Other ID – write your name on the sides of your boxes
  • Special ID – use colorful tape or stickers or writing to make your box immediately identifiable

 

Tips:

  • Document what worked and didn’t so you can make adjustments when prepping for your next trip.
  • Save your lists to Google Docs (or something similar) and make them available to your phone offline so you can update and make notes while on trail (i.e. didn’t like, it didn’t rehydrate well, it didn’t hold up well).
  • USPS regional flat rate is an option ONLY if
    • the address you are sending TO is in the same zone as the one you are sending FROM (zone/zip map)
    • you preorder boxes (Regional Box B1 works for my resupplies)
    • you purchase the labels via the USPS mail and ship option
      • Use Internet Explorer (Chrome doesn’t work)
      • Under package details, enter an estimated weight (Box B can be used up to 20lbs). DO NOT USE SELECT THE FLAT RATE Option (I know doesn’t make sense).usps1
      • Package value – enter $50 as included in the price
      • Type of service – select Priority Mail Regional Box B (if the options don’t populate, scroll to the top to find a red message)usps2

Do you have other tips?

Link to my other posts on Hiking and Backpacking Skills