How do I climb a 14er? (Reader Question)

Lately, we’ve been asked a lot of questions about things like gear, equipment and hiking in general. It’s awesome, we love being able to share our thoughts. Instead of keeping the conversation confined to an email or social media conversation, we’re going to start publishing more Q&A’s right here too.

At the end of August I headed to Colorado to climb Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross with a few friends. They were my first 14ers. I write a trip report over on our sister site, Hike Like A Woman and it’s been crazy popular. But it also generated a lot of questions about bagging peaks.

Now, you might have noticed that we don’t have any maps or trail guides published for any 14ers yet. The key word there is yet, because as we expand into Colorado more we’re going to be mapping and bagging more big mountains. Also, I think that the “rules” for climbing 14ers also apply when you’re climbing our 11 & 12,000 foot peaks. So, I thought it would be fitting to go ahead and answer a question about 14ers right here today.

HOW DO I CLIMB A 14ER

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Today’s question comes from Rachel. 

“Hi Rebecca, I just read your blog post about climbing four 14ers in Colorado. I’m curious, was this your first 14er? I’ve never climbed one before but I’d like to. What advice do you have for someone like me?”

Hi Rachel,

That’s awesome, do it. 

Yes, I did climb my first 14er last summer. I’d climbed plenty of 12 & 13,000-foot peaks but decided it was time to tackle mountains the 14,000-foot variety. Now I’m afraid that I’m a little bit hooked…

Here’s what I did.

  • Research and find the perfect first peak. For me, it was the Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross (the DeCaLiBron) because I wanted to get all 4 on my first time up. I recommend the website 14ers.com. It is super useful for trip planning.
  • Get in shape by doing a few good climbs before you attempt your summit, but know that even if you’re in amazing shape your lungs will burn at 14,000 + feet.
  • If you’re coming from sea level there are a few different schools of thought in terms of acclimatization, check out this post. Most important is to stay hydrated, well-fueled and to listen to your body and head down if you feel sick no matter how badly you want to summit.
  • Get an early start, if you’re hiking a popular trail near the front range be hiking no later than 5:30 or 6 am to avoid not just crowds (it’s like Disneyland up on some of the more popular peaks) but also dangerous afternoon lightning and thunderstorms.
  • Recruit a few good friends to join you, just for the fun of it.
  • Don’t forget to wear good boots that are well broken in, plenty of people climb in just running shoes but if you’re like me you’ll want the protection and ankle support that only a pair of boots can provide when you’re descending a scree slope. Also think about finding a good pair of trekking poles.
  • Choose your season, Aug, Sept. good months for climbing 14ers but some rad people ski up them in the winter too.

Thank you for the question Rachel, best of luck to you!

 

Have you ever climbed a 14er? What advice would you give?

How To Climb Medicine Bow Peak With Kids

 

Last week a friend posted this question on the facebook page of our local kid-friendly hiking group.

Any tips for a family hike up Medicine Bow Peak? Best trailhead?

It just happened to coincide with some other questions we’ve been asked lately regarding taking kids to the top of the peak. So, I thought it’d be a good time to talk a little bit about climbing Medicine Bow Peak with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. 

How to climb Medicine Bow Peak with Kids

Medicine Bow Peak is the highest peak in the Snowy Range at 12,013 feet. It is part of a rugged ridge line that towers over several alpine lakes and forest below. There are several different trailheads that will take you to the summit.

The Lewis Lake Trailhead is very scenic at 1.6 miles offers the shortest route to the summit.

The Lake Marie Trailhead offers a generally more gradual, but longer climb (3.6 miles) which is just as scenic. It will also take you past an old lookout cabin.

No matter your route you will hike through some very steep sections and very rocky sections but there is hardly a spot on the trail that doesn’t offer a stunning view.

Here’s a video of the hike to the peak. I think it does a good job of showing the terrain that you’ll see on the climb.

I think the beauty of Medicine Bow Peak is that it is a peak that the entire family can bag together. But it’s not an easy hike and I would say that when it comes to outdoor family adventures it’s one that needs to be approached with caution.

This might not be the hike for your family if you aren’t comfortable with heights, altitude, and unstable rocky terrain.  Or, if you aren’t comfortable carrying a baby or toddler on your back on a steep climb. Or if thinking about your children standing on a rocky summit without good footing makes you nervous. Instead of a summit attempt I’d recommend a waterfall hike or a scenic trek to Gap Lakes instead. 

How to climb Medicine Bow Peak with kids

Usually, I’m comfortable taking risks in the outdoors with kids, in fact probably a little bit too comfortable.  But I did try to summit earlier this summer alone with both kids and turned around just a few hundred feet from the summit when the terrain got a little bit too difficult to manage by myself with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. If you do hike with kids know that it’s okay not to summit. Part of being savvy in the outdoors is knowing when to call it a day.

With that being said, we frequently see families on this peak and there’s no better family holiday photo than one that’s taken at 12,013 feet.

Here are a few tips for the hike.

  • Food and fluids are essential for both you and kids of all ages at altitude. Pack more than you think you’ll need and don’t forget to stop often to replenish your bodies. The good news is that no matter where you stop you’ll be able to find a nice rock to sit on and you’ll be able to enjoy a spectacular view. 
  • Get an early start. The parking lots at both Lewis Lake and Lake Marie fill up quickly and you’ll want to avoid afternoon thunderstorms and lightning.  Try to be moving no later than 7:30 or 8 am.
  • Save this trail for August and September after the snow melts and before the snow flies.
  • Some parents find hiking with a child in a framed backpack carrier is challenging on this trail since there will be some bending over to scramble across the rocks. If you do hike with a framed carrier make sure that your kiddo is securely fastened so they won’t fall out of the carrier or choose a soft carrier–like an Ergo instead. A soft carrier will keep the child tucked snug against your body and help with your center of balance. If you want to use a backpack carrier take your kid up to Vedauwoo and practice a few scrambles while wearing the carrier before tackling the peak.

Framed backpack carrier.

  • Choose your trailhead carefully. I always recommend the Lewis Lake trailhead for families because it’s shorter. I know that after 3 or 4 hours on the trail my kids are done so the least amount of mileage is usually better for my family. But if your kids are bigger and can handle a longer day you might want to go the Lake Marie Route, the trail is easier until you reach the gap. No matter how you look at it, the final summit push is going to be tough and there’s no way to avoid it.
  • Be prepared for crazy weather. We consider a raincoat and a winter hat essential items on this hike no matter what the season. The summit will be windy and cold even if the weather in Laramie is downright tropical. Also don’t forget sun protection, even on a cloudy day.

Kid on the summit.

  • Break out those trekking poles, the extra support is awesome if you’re carrying a child.
  • It’s okay to reward yourself on this hike…this is a hard hike for adults. It’s even harder for kids. But I’ve heard of 5 and 6-year-olds summiting without any help–and I can’t wait for that day. Maybe you keep a stash of jellybeans in a pocket or promise ice cream in Centennial on the way home. 
  • Tell a few stories to keeps little hikers motivated. There is some fascinating history around the peak. You can talk to your kids about the time an airplane crashed into the mountain. Or the women who kept watch for fires from the peak

If I haven’t talked you into attempting to climb the peak by now here are just a few more reasons and of course, you can check out our trail page and download a free trail map right here. 

Here’s the view as you descend the peak.

Have you climbed the peak with kids? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of this hike? What would you add to the list?

6 Ways to Enjoy A Crowd-Free Holiday

Have you ever pulled into the perfect campsite only to have a bunch of 17-year-olds and their keg of beer show up at the campsite right next to you?

Or, have you ever sought solace in the woods to have it interrupted by a crying baby all night.

(If so that was our crying baby, so sorry!)

We love the outdoors and we love sharing our favorite outdoor places but with a holiday weekend just around the corner where do you go to find some peace and quiet?

It’s going to be crazy at Vedauwoo, Curt Gowdy State Park, Lake Owen, Rob Roy Reservoir and even in the Snowies this weekend. It’s inevitable!

6 ways to enjoy a crowd-freeholiday!

Here’s how we plan a holiday weekend adventure.

  • Get to the campground a little bit early so you can choose your neighbors. If you want peace and quiet look for an old retired couple in an RV, seriously this tricks works!
  • If you’re headed out for a day hike get an early start. Beat the trail congestion, crazy parking lots, hot weather and afternoon thunderstorms by striking out as soon as the birds start chirping.
  • Or start your hike in the evening after everyone has retired to their campsite or headed  back into town!
  • Stick to remote trails, trails that are off the beaten path or that people simply don’t know about our use very often. A few of our recommendations are Deep Creek campground for camping where you can explore Rock Creek trail or Sheep Lake trail and check out the remains of Sand Lake Lodge.
  • Don’t camp in an established campground but make sure you follow the backcountry camping rules where you are and adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles…or else we’ll hunt you down and blog about you 😉
  • Avoid trailheads near popular campsites. People (including us) love campgrounds that intersect with trail networks but if you’re looking to avoid crowds find a trailhead in the middle of nowhere to start your hike.

But, if you’re keeping it local this weekend be sure to come visit us today from 12-5 pm at the Elevation 8076′ Celebration in Centennial AND Laramie’s Freedom Has a Birthday in Washington Park from 10-4 pm. Stop by our tent, chat with us, and play a few map games!

Have a wonderful weekend!

5 Essentials for Hiking at Curt Gowdy State Park

When it comes to packing and planning for a hike we’ve all heard about the ’10 Essentials’ — a list of 10 items that you should always have in your daypack.

Here they are:

  • Navigation tool
  • Sun protection
  • Insulation
  • Illumination
  • First aid supplies
  • Fire
  • Repair kit
  • Nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Emergency shelter

I’m all about being prepared for an emergency, but I’m also all for packing light so I can move fast, especially when accompanied by children and all of their extra gear.

(and by gear I mean snacks)

We’ve found ourselves at Curt Gowdy State Park a lot this spring and summer. Maybe it’s because the trails dry up at Gowdy so quickly or maybe it’s because of our Navigation School. I don’t know why but I do know that when I’m headed there most of the ’10 Essentials’ stay in the car at the trailhead.

Here’s why.

When I’m just out for a few hours and never more than a mile or two from a trailhead or road at a busy State Park I just feel like I don’t need an emergency shelter or insulation or a fire starting device.

5 Essentials for hiking at Curt Gowdy

But here’s what I do need:

  • A sunhat. A lot of the trails at Curt Gowdy don’t have a lot of shade. So protect that skin and bring your own. Our favorites right now are Outdoor Research sombreros for adults and kids.
  • Sunscreen. Once again, not a lot of shade so you can really fry out there. Sunscreen is a must. Don’t forget to apply it to weird places like on top of your ears, a bald spot or where you part your hair.
  • Water. Hydration is key. We usually try to put down 1 liter every 60-90 minutes when we’re hiking. If you’re hiking with kids make sure they are drinking too. We make a game of it with our kids by yelling “bottoms up” every time we drink. When we’re with a group we make it a goal to never drink alone. If one person stops to drink we encourage everyone else to drink too.

IMG_8002

  • Digital trail map. Fortunately, the trails at Curt Gowdy are very well marked with maps and signs at most intersections. But, there are a lot of trails. We get good connectivity with our i-phones at Curt Gowdy and by downloading the (FREE) Avenza pdf map of the area we’re able to track our progress and see how far we are between trail intersections. We just follow the blue dot, so easy. This is important when little legs get tired and you hit that point where you’re trying to decide if it’s faster to finish a loop or turn the hike into an out-and-back.
  • 5 Essentials for hiking at Curt Gowdy (1)Tweezers. Yep, tweezers. There is a ton of cactus at the park and on more than one occasion we’ve been attacked. Usually, this happens when we fall off of a mountain bike into a cactus or when a child falls while hiking or climbing rocks. We’re not fans of digging cactus out of a hand on the side of the trail but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do until you can get home.

Have you explored at Curt Gowdy State Park? What would you add or take away from the list?

 

 

Never Leave Home Without these 5 Things

It was a bit of a weird morning.

Al left early to go set up for the GPS class up at Curt Gowdy State Park and then I headed there with our kids to do some hiking.

We were about a mile into Stone Temple Pilot when I got this text message from Al who had finished up and was headed home.

“Bad accident. Traffic is stopped on the interstate back to Laramie.”

No worries, I thought. Traffic will be moving by the time we’re ready to leave.

An hour later I called Al and to discover that he was still in traffic, sitting on I-80 somewhere in Telephone Canyon. He suggested that I head to the rest area and wait there for the traffic to clear. So I did.

When I pulled up at the summit rest area it was like a refugee camp. Cars, trucks, people everywhere!

Rumor was that there was a bad motorcycle crash and that we weren’t going to be going anywhere soon.

Never Leave Home Without these 5 Things

So I did a quick assessment.

I had:

  • 3/4 of a tank of gas
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 4 granola bars
  • 3 apples
  • 1 ziploc bag of banana chips
  • 2 hot, tired and cranky children

I called Al to see how he was doing. He had food, water and was still waiting with a gaggle of people stranded on the interstate. He mentioned that if I headed to Ames Monument I could take a back road to Tie Siding and then come back to Laramie via highway 287.

So I checked out my map, used a little zen navigation and made it back to Laramie.

Al walked it the door about 5 minutes after me.

So what does this big long story have to do with hiking?

A lot, actually.

Whenever I head to Happy Jack or Vedauwoo or Curt Gowdy State Park I don’t take the outing as seriously as I should, A lot of time I’m riding around in a 1/8th of a tank of gas, an almost dead i-Phone, half-empty water bottles and not a lot of extra food.

Thankfully this morning I was prepared. I had enough fuel to take the long, lonely dirty road into town. I had enough of a charge on my phone to look up maps and communicate with Al, and plenty of food and water to keep me and my kids sustained.

Every once in a while it’s good to have a little reminder to never head up the mountain, no matter how close to town without being prepared.

I’m not an expert on emergency preparedness, but you can be sure that these 5 items (in addition to everything else) are going to be part of my pre-hike checklist from now on.

  • A full tank of gas. Never leave town without one.
  • A full charge on my phone & charging cables in my car.
  • A physical map (as a backup).
  • Extra water.
  • Extra food.

We still have no idea what happened in Telephone Canyon today, but we do know that it was bad and our hearts go out to whoever was involved.

For well over 2 1/2 hours people sat in traffic and on the side of the road or scrambled over backroads.

Here’s why it’s important to be prepared. You never know when a little extra water might help someone else on or off the trails even if you don’t need it.

{and for a quick trail report…we hiked Stone Temple Pilot this morning, it was beautiful, trails were dry, unobstructed and crowded, and using Avenza pdf maps is so much fun!}

IMG_8002

 

 

On the Colorado Trail with Willow Belden

A few weeks ago I was at a birthday party and met Willow for the first time. Now, I’d known about Willow for a long time–she’s kind of a big deal in little ole Laramie but as we got to chatting I knew that I had to interview her for the website.

I was happy when she agreed to chat with me.

Willow is down to earth, educated, smart and you can’t help but want to go on an adventure with her. I hope you enjoy the interview. Be sure to check out her podcast, we think you’re gonna like it.

ON THE  COLORADO TRAIL

1. Last summer you hiked the Colorado Trail, why did you choose the Colorado trail?

Since this was my first thru-hike and my first solo wilderness trip, I wanted a relatively short trail – one that that would take only five or six weeks, not five or six months, to finish. I’d heard that the Colorado Trail was one of the most beautiful “long trails” in the U.S., and it was close to home, so logistics would be easy to navigate.

2. What was your most memorable experience on the trail?

The most memorable experience, on a personal level, happened during the last week of the trip. I’d just spent a mind-bogglingly beautiful three days above tree line in the San Juan Mountains, and I remember standing on the Continental Divide by the headwaters of a river one evening. The spot was spectacular. The meadow was blanketed in purple and yellow wildflowers. Red cliffs plunged thousands of feet into a canyon. And in every direction, the mountains rose serenely into the evening light.

Part of the reason I wanted to do a long hike alone was to process the grief about my mother’s death. She’d passed away five years earlier after losing a long fight with cancer, and ever since, I’d felt lonely and untethered. This particular evening, I thought how much my mother would have loved this spot. I wished I could show it to her.

Finally, I let myself cry. I’d cried plenty before, but this was different. No one was around, so instead of stifling the tears, I let them flow freely. They were tears of sadness, but also tears of gratitude. It seemed so very right to be there, in that beautiful moment, by myself. I was grateful that no one else was around to shatter the magic.

ON THE  COLORADO TRAIL2

3. Tell us about the gear you used. Was there one thing you packed but didn’t use or need? What was the one piece of gear that you considered essential?

I packed light, but not ultralight. Here’s what I took:

-Big Agnes Copper Spur tent. This tent was the most spacious – and also the lightest – one-man tent I looked at. Here’s a bit more detail: http://www.crosscountryconnection.org/employee-favorites/2015/3/9/big-agnes-copper-spur-tent-1

-Enlightened Equipment 10-degree down sleeping quilt (yes, a quilt, not a bag; I like to sprawl, and foregoing a zipper cuts weight). I brought a down hood (taken off a jacket) to wear at night, because quilts don’t cover your head.

-Big Agnes insulated air core sleeping pad. This pad was super warm and cushy, but it sprung a leak about 2/3 of the way through the trail. Next time I’d probably go for a Z-lite or something similar that can’t leak. On the upside, Big Agnes replaced the pad without any fuss.

-REI trekking poles with shock absorption. Trekking poles are crucial – they take strain off your knees, keep you walking at a steady clip, and make stream crossings much easier. Seriously, bring trekking poles; you’ll be glad you did.

-Osprey Exos 58 backpack. This is one of the lightest packs you can find that still has a proper frame. I loved mine. Don’t overload it, though – it carries up to 35 pounds well, but 40 isn’t too comfy.

Home-made alcohol stove. It’s very simple: the stove itself is an empty cat-food can (seriously, that’s it – just an empty cat food can). I made a pot stand out of hardware cloth and a wind screen out of aluminum flashing. The whole setup cost about $5 to make and weighs nothing. The stove uses denatured alcohol or HEET as fuel, which you can pick up everywhere.

-Titanium pot/mug (.75 L)

-Titanium spork

-Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter. It’s not the lightest filter out there, but it served me well. Many other thru-hikers used the Sawyer filter, which is smaller, or opted for Aqua Mira drops. I’d probably try one of those options next time.

-Trekking umbrella. Don’t laugh; I hiked through lots of rain and hail, and having a trekking umbrella made that so much less awful. My umbrella came from Go Lite.

-Clothing: Keen hiking boots, one pair long pants, one pair shorts, one tank top, one Smartwool mid-weight shirt, a fleece, a rain jacket, a down jacket, fleece hat and gloves, 3 pairs of socks (two to hike in, and one to sleep in), and long johns and a light-weight Smartwool shirt to sleep in.

Dirty Girl gaiters. These were amazing; they kept all the rocks and dirt out of my shoes.

-Electronics charger. This is a cylindrical device that’s slightly larger than a tube of lipstick. Charge it up while you’re in town, and then you can plug your phone or kindle into it when they run out of juice on the trail.

-Kindle. Having plenty of reading material is essential, and the kindle is small and reasonably light (compared to paper books). The battery holds up well when the wifi is off.

-iPhone. I used it as my camera, and was able to contact friends and family when I got to towns to resupply.

-Tiny tripod for iPhone. This was great; my selfies didn’t look like selfies.

-Journal and pens

-Compass

-Spot Tracker. Friends talked me into bringing this, so I could let them know that I hadn’t perished on the trail, or could call for help if something went terribly wrong.

-Head lamp (Black Diamond Spot) and extra batteries

-Extra tiny flashlight. You don’t want to be without light if you lose or break your headlamp.

-Bear spray. Probably not necessary (the CT doesn’t go through grizzly country), but it gave me peace of mind.

-Shovel for digging cat holes. (You could use a tent stake or a rock, but this is a lot easier).

-Swiss army knife

-First-aid kit

4. What tools did you use to plan the hike? 

I read loads of books and combed the internet for tips on lightweight backpacking. The best book out there for planning purposes is Yogi’s Colorado Trail Guide. If you only read one thing, read that. For the trail itself, get Erik the Black’s Colorado Trail Atlas and the Colorado Trail Data Book.

5. For you what was the most challenging section of the trail? What made it difficult?

The CT was full of challenging sections. On day two, the trail goes through an area that was decimated by a massive wildfire. There’s no water and almost no shade for 10 miles, and since it’s at low elevation, it’s brutally hot. My blisters also arrived that day, which didn’t help.

Several sections of trail were teaming with vicious swarms of mosquitoes, which were unimpressed by 99-percent deet bug spray and even bit me through layers of clothing. I’d hurry along, flapping my arms and swatting the bugs away from my face, but nothing helped.

The rain was also tough. I’d expected afternoon thunderstorms, but what I got was weeks of endless monsoon. Luckily, my little tent held up well, and my sleeping bag stayed dry throughout. But days of incessant rain are cold, wet, and demoralizing. And you miss out on beautiful views if everything is shrouded in clouds.

Emotionally, the hardest stretch was between Twin Lakes and Salida. The trail skirts the Collegiate Peaks, which should be gorgeous, but we almost never got above treeline. For days on end, you slog thousands of feet up through monotonous woods, realize there’s no view to reward you at the top, and then descend thousands of feet, only to repeat the process. In this section of trail, they also apparently forgot about switch-backs, so the climbs were grueling. I’d expected to reach Salida, which is the half-way point on the trail, feeling strong and triumphant. Instead, it took every shred of energy to hike the final few miles, and I arrived in town exhausted and demoralized.

6. What’s your next big outdoor adventure?

I’m hatching plans for a multi-week bike-packing trip (that’s just like backpacking, but on a mountain bike). Stay tuned; I’m hoping to do a podcast episode about it.

7. Tell us a little bit about the Out There Podcast and what inspired you to start it?

Out There is a public radio-style podcast that explores our relationship with nature – from recreation, to conservation, to science and wildlife. It’s a mix of stories, interviews, and essays – kind of like This American Life, but for the outdoors. Unlike a lot of outdoor journalism, this show is meant to appeal to a broad audience: city slickers just as much as dirtbags.

Before hiking the CT, I had been a reporter and anchor for Wyoming Public Radio. But a few days after coming home, as I was listening to Morning Edition, I realized I didn’t want to go back to reporting the news. Instead, I wanted to be a host – to be the voice of a show – to think about big ideas and curate a collection of stories exploring those ideas.

I’d been considering starting a podcast about the outdoors already before my hike, but I hadn’t had the time – or the guts – to pursue the idea. Then, after I got back from the CT, Wyoming Public Radio approached me about developing and hosting an outdoor show. I was thrilled, but the station’s timeline for raising money and getting the show off the ground was very long, and I was eager to get moving. So I ultimately decided to go back to my original idea and produce the show independently, as a podcast.

So far, the experience has been thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I never pictured myself starting my own business. I have zero business experience, and I’ve always appreciated the stability that comes with “real jobs.” But when I start to feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that when I started hiking the Colorado Trail, I was a novice too, and yet I succeeded in finishing it. The hike was difficult – even brutal at times – but it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done for myself in years. I hope the podcast will turn out the same way.

8. Where can we find you online?

Out There is at www.OutThereShow.com. The blog I kept during my CT hike is at willowbelden.tumblr.com. And here are a few pieces I’ve written about the trek:

http://qz.com/257211/a-500-mile-solo-hike-put-an-end-to-my-loneliness/

http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/risk-made-me-happier

https://issuu.com/christiangreen/docs/tt_1026_low_res/1?e=5506357/11573248

Thanks for taking the time to tell us all about your experiences on the CT Willow! See ya on the trails.

How to Store Hats, Gloves, Sunglasses (and other outdoor flair)

You know the feeling when you can’t find a certain pair of gloves, or a hat or even a neck gaiter?

It’s annoying, and stressful, and ridiculous (especially if your children are fully dressed in their snowsuits and sweating like pigs while you scramble around the house trying to find their sunglasses).

Here’s what we do to cut down on the chaos and help keep track of all our outdoor flair from sunglasses to mittens to bug spray and yak trax.

All you need is a little bit of wall space, one or two over the door shoe holders, a few nails, and voila, the chaos is organized. We live in an old house and have a small entryway which works well but you could also use a laundry room or even the garage, basically wherever you get dressed to play outside.

hatsWe also like to keep a few clothespins handy and just hang wet gear on the outside of it’s designated pocket to let it dry after a day on the trails.

I love over the door shoe holders. You won’t see any of my shoes stored in them but in addition to outdoor clothing you will see water bottles!

How do you keep track of and store YOUR outdoor flair?

 

Hiker Trash Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky.

It’s a staple in our daypacks. We love beef jerky. What’s not to love? It’s delicious.

beef jerky-doneWe’ve been making our own jerky ever since we liberated a food dehydrator from my parent’s garage where it had been collecting dust since 1987. It was the best thing we’ve ever stolen.

It seems like every family has their own top secret jerky recipe. Today we’re sharing ours. It’s not top secret. It’s cheap and super easy to make. We call it hiker trash jerky.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lbs sliced flank steak (we get ours pre-sliced from our local butcher)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke

beef jerky marinade

Steps:

1. Mix all items except the beef together to form a marinade.

2. Combine marinade with beef. You can use a couple of ziploc bags or a plastic bowl with a lid.

3. Refrigerate 12-24 hours. You can probably marinate it longer than this but we don’t have that kind of patience.

4. Place strips of beef onto dehydrator trays and let dehydrate for 6-8 hours. Jerky is done when it feels dry but you can still bend it with your fingers.

5. Store beef jerky in a ziploc bag or plastic container with a tight sealing lid.

There are literally a zillion beef jerky recipes out there. Sometimes we play around with the amount of garlic powder and pepper we use. But, we have found that no matter how much jerky we are making equal parts worcestershire and soy sauce are our favorite combination for ultimate flavor.

Also, we’ve discovered that beef from our local butcher is fresher and pre-sliced for just about the same price we’d pay at a regular grocery store. If you have to slice your own beef we recommend using beef that is partially frozen. You can slice it with or against the grain depending on how chewy you want your jerky.

Do you have a favorite jerky recipe. Go ahead and post it below and if you’re looking for more delicious recipes head over to the Sierra Trading Post Hub and see what other outdoor bloggers are eating on the trails. 

Question: How do you stay warm during winter adventures?

As part of our Monday morning trail’logy series I thought I’d do something just a tad bit different. I was thinking about writing a post with our favorite tips for staying warm while we cross-country ski, snowshoe, hike or just wander around outside in frigid temperatures.

As I was preparing the post I thought to myself, “I bet our readers have a ton of great ideas too!”

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So, if you’ve got a great tip, trick or way that you stay warm in the winter leave a comment below. We’ll publish your tip next week with our big awesome post about staying warm in the winter and link back to your blog or business (if you’ve got one) and of course, mention that the tip came from you.

Best tip will be dubbed our most awesome reader. Cheers!

 

Trail’ology: Can I hike in the winter? 5 Tips.

trailology bannerOne common barrier to outdoor recreation is the weather! Do you think of hiking as just something to do during the summer?

If you live in a cold or snowy place it’s easy to be tempted to hunker down for the winter and stay off the trails. While our preferred forms of winter recreation and transportation are by cross-country ski or snowshoe we do in fact hike during the coldest winter months. And it’s pretty fun.

Here are a few tips for winter hiking.

winter 1

  • Dress in layers. Just like you would if you were cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and avoid cotton. This will keep you warm and dry, allowing you to add or shed layers as needed to keep from overheating and sweating or freezing.
  • Hike with trekking poles. Trekking poles are awesome at helping a hiker maintain balance on slippery, slushy or icy terrain. There’s no need to get fancy, any old pair of ski poles will do, baskets on or off it really doesn’t matter.
  • Invest in some traction. Grippers that you can easily slip on top of the soles of your boots are worth every penny. They are lightweight and can help keep you on your feet on slick trails. We’ve tried yak trax and stabilicers. We’re not nuts about yak trax but we love our stabilicers.

winter2

  • Ditch the trail shoes for a good pair of boots. There’s a lot of debate in the hiker community about hiking shoes vs boots, its really all a matter of personal preference. Al and I are year-round boot wearers. In the winter boots are the best choice because they’ll keep your feet protected from wet conditions. We both love our Asolo TPS 520’s because they are comfortable, have good traction and keep the snow out. We keep the leather protected and water out with sno seal.
  • Use gaiters. Gaiters are awesome at keeping snow or moisture from working its way into your boot and pants. Some of my most miserable winter hikes have occurred on days when I forgot my gaiters and ended up with cold, wet legs. I have a pair of OR gaiters and I love them (stay tuned for a review).

Do you hibernate or hike during the winter? What are your tips or must-have pieces of equipment?