Fellow blogger and occasional (when we can coordinate crazy busy schedules) adventure buddy, Allison Wildman, tagged me in this international blogger-style chain letter/game. It's a question posed from fellow like-minded bloggers, who then tag other like-minded bloggers...and said question gets to leap frog its way around the cyber globe. It's a fun concept that allows you to take a sneak peek into what's in other peoples packs. I kind of like it, so I'll play. It's also led me down some fellow hiker/blogger rabbit holes I wouldn't normally have gone down. 

The question posed by this blogstöckchen is: What three things do you always bring on a hike?

I'll be honest, I had to think about this. I'm the frequent butt of jokes among friends regarding the size of my day pack, mostly because I always, always go out prepared for the possibility of spending the night. While this tends to slow me down on the hill climbs, it gives me quite the gear laden inertia on the downhills [GRIN]. The ten essentials plus-sized. So it took me a minute to think about what's in my hiking wallet that is really specific to me and my needs. 

1) Maps.

I may require a twelve step program

I'm a planning junkie. I {heart} maps (and, if I'm airing all my dirty laundry/obsessions: guidebooks).  Maps are a fundamental part of the ten essentials and navigation, but truth is, they don't always have to come along- some hikes in the local area I know well enough to not really require a map. But a map always gets toted along. Or, if I'm on an extended backpacking trip, must I carry the entire wilderness map (you know, the ones big enough to be a table cloth on your tent floor) when a shrunken photocopy version of the region would suffice? 

Yup. There's always a map in my pack. Because I'm a dork, and I like planning other trips while I'm on a trip. And that ends my confession box. 

That said, I still think navigation devices are key to going out someplace, even if it's a place you know fairly well. Our local Columbia Gorge is proof positive that many, many people, even out on "just a day hike", spend the night in the backcountry after having their sense of direction turned around by the twisted and interconnected trail system. 

2) Trekking Poles. 

I acquired trekking poles a couple of years back, mostly to help with sketchy creek crossings on rocks where my balance wasn't so great. Anyone who knows me well can profess that I am not the most coordinated of individuals, and I routinely lose fights between my knee and the corner of the living room coffee table. 

Trekking poles have become one of my coveted outdoor items. They not only help improve my balance and coordination on ledges or sketchy creek /snow crossings, they have also become the tent poles for my Nemo Meta2P tent, which I love. They improve my posture on uphill climbs (I have a tendency to hunchback forward on climbs, using the poles corrects that bad habit) and save my knees on the downhills. They've also come in handy during times past when I forgot real tent poles. 

trying to correct hunchback posture

impromptu tent poles

3) Moleskin.

I give to you some exhibits from years past on why I carry moleskin on every hike, long or short, and why I have single-handedly been known to clean out the entire stock supply of moleskin at my local grocery store.  

My feet have been the bane of my existence for many, many years. I have platypus feet- wide at the front, narrow at the back. It's difficult to find shoes with a big enough toe box for me to jam my hulking feet into while being able to latch my heel down at the same time.  The result has been years worth of blisters and no combination of socks or different shoes, slathering my feet in Vaseline or covering them in duct tape has worked so far. Trail runners and moleskin (applied at the first inkling of a hot spot) have been what's worked the best, thus far. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has more.  

And there you have it. My three must-haves. 

I'm tagging my old fellow HS friend, Justin, who  launched an amazing dream some time ago, taking off for the south, and who now runs his own business in Patagonia (can you say DREAM JOB?)

Anne, a fellow Portland hiker who can often be found "hiking [her] ass off" and whose trip reports always make me smile. 

And Steph Abegg, an amazing mountaineer and determined woman with outstanding photography skills and who has one of the most incredible recovery reports I've ever read.


Treesa said...

Really enjoying this blogstöckchen, at least as it travels through the PNW hiker blogs! Fun post and so happy to have found your blog!

Justin Witt said...

Hey Mandy!

Sorry for the long-time no-response, especially when you specifically tagged me for one! I have a good excuse though; I've been living in tents and next to campfires along rivers now for going on two months, and just made it back into the office.

The three things I always pack huh? I'm going to skip the obvious, normal, items like "knife", "fire", and everything else on the standard list, and just go straight to the ones that came up for me on my long hike up the Andes back in 2007/8 - the stuff I didn't expect to be important, but which turned out to be IMPORTANT.

1. Needle and thread - Over the course of walking North from Cape Horn for six months I encountered more than ample opportunity to be grateful that my mother had suggested I pack a needle and a few yards of thread. The list of items that I used this little portion of my repair kit on stretched from the tent to basically every piece of clothing i had with me, and even to the fly rod I was using to catch fish. The stuff, for me, is simply indispensable if you're going to be out a long time without much chance to re-supply or replace gear.

2. A hat I can actually get along with - Hats come in all shapes and sizes of course, and everybody has their preferences, but I myself have had far too many that presented themselves as more of a burden than a help. A hat that works well in hot weather or cold, bright sun or night, and rain, wind, now, or blue-bird weather, is a hat. Oddly enough I still use the one that I had on the long walk, and have nearly lost it about a dozen times, including just last month when it was stolen by a pack of mongrel dogs down on the Rio Santa Cruz. Over the years its been crushed, soaked, dried, chewed up by mice, shat on by geese, and even hit by a shotgun blast (yes, while I was wearing it) but it still does its job, and I love it.

3. Nasal snuff - Yep, you heard me. Don't leave home without it. My favorite at the moment is some stuff out of Germany called Alpina. How's that for blogstöckchen?

Manda said...

Thanks, Treesa, and welcome! Been in a lot of transition lately, so somewhat MIA but working on remedying that. :)

Manda said...

Justin, you are hilarious. The idea was for you to post this on YOUR blog, silly, but I love the feedback anyway. :)

Glad to see you've been busy doing what you love. Can't say I'm not jealous...

Justin Witt said...

Ohhhhh..... I get it. Now.