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Monday, October 31, 2011

My Treadmill Run

I woke up this morning with a decision.  Do I run outside or go to the gym and run on the treadmill?  Now, if you read my post yesterday you know that today was punishment day.  It wasn't rainy, in fact it was a beautiful sunny day.  I thought that it would be too pleasurable to run on such a beautiful day so I went to the gym and ran 6 miles on the treadmill.  Is that punishment enough?  Actually it wasn't that bad.  Unfortunately the treadmill wouldn't let me increase the incline for some reason.  I don't know if it was the speed or what. So, I couldn't even suffer through hills :(

After my run, I felt great!  I came home and cleaned like crazy.  It's days like this that make me remember why I am a runner.

Happy Running!

Day 31-Last Day

For the final day of my "31 Days" series, I want to thank you.  Thank you to everyone who followed along on my journey to becoming a smarter hiker.  I hope you all learned something.  I know I did.

This was definitely challenging for me to post every day for 31 days but I had so much fun!

Follow along on my 2012 hiking challenge and Happy Hiking!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trash Talk

This is what I did to myself today.  My plan was to go for a run in the morning today before my son's soccer game.  Did I do it?  No.  I talked myself out of it.

You know what happens now.  Everywhere you go, you see runners.  Runners with dogs, runners with friends, runners going solo.  This always happens when I decide to skip a run.  It's as if everyone else talked themselves into going while I talked myself into being lazy.

Well, my plan is to punish myself tomorrow.  Hopefully it will rain during my run and maybe I will throw a hill or 2 in there somewhere.

It is definitely true that the only run you regret is the one you don't do.  Take it from me, lace up your shoes and hit the road.

Happy running!

Day 30-#1 Tip

For day 30 of my "31 Days" series, I will give you my #1 tip on how to become a smarter hiker.  Go hiking!  The best way to become a smarter hiker is to gain experience.  Every hike you go on is an opportunity to learn more about hiking.  Every time I go on a hike I learn something new and different.

So my challenge for myself and for you is to do 12 hikes in 2012.  For you, my challenge is to hike 12 trails in your area.

For myself, my challenge is to hike in 12 different states for 2012.  I will choose a hike in 12 different states (or countries) for 2012.  Sound fun?  Stay tuned for my hiking calendar.

Are you up for the challenge?  Happy Hiking!

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Twelve in Twenty-Twelve

I was inspired by Jill Conyers of "Life as I See it" to give myself a challenge.  Her goal is to run 12 half-marathons in 2012.  I am not as brave, so my challenge is to run 12 races in 2012.  From 5k's to half marathons, I will run a race every month in 2012.  Go here for my race schedule! Will you join me in this challenge?

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 29-How to Find the Best Deal

Hiking can be an expensive endeavor if you are buying all of the latest gear and gadgets.  Who has the time and money for that?  Here are some simple steps to help you find the best deals on hiking gear so you don't break the bank.

1.  Research online the products you are looking for.  Read reviews and descriptions before you buy.

2.  Go to the store and check out the merchandise.  By now you have already researched your items, now see if you like them in person.

3.  Now you have decided what items you want.  Check around to find the best prices.
          -Craig's list
          -Second hand sporting goods store
            (ex. Play it Again Sports)
          -Online (I almost always find the best deals online
            and can usually find no shipping deals)
          -In the store (wait for sales or
           end of the season deals)

Now go get those deals!  Happy Hiking!

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Hiking/Running Products at Costco

I went to Costco yesterday and found some great things for running and hiking. 

The first items I bought were Gaiters for hiking ($14.99).  They come in S/M and L/XL.   They attach to your boots and cover the portion of your pants below the knee so they stay dry on those wet and snowy hikes.  Now I just need to get a nice pair of waterproof hiking boots :)
I also found a nice pair of gloves ($9.99) to keep my hands warm while I run or hike.  I just went on a hike yesterday, and although it was beautiful, it was really cold.  I didn't wear gloves because I use my touch screen phone to take pictures and the touch screen doesn't work if you have gloves on.  So, my hands froze.  These gloves have "Sensatec" fabric on the thumb and pointer finger tips that interact with touch screen devices.  So cool!  They also have "silicone rubber palms for improved grip".
The last thing I bought I loved so much that I went back today and bought another one for me and one for my friend!  This shirt is so awesome!  It is a half-zip long sleeve performance shirt ($19.99).  You can wear it alone or as a base layer to stay warm.  The best part is that it has thumb holes.  I love thumb holes when I am running and hiking because your hands stay warm without gloves!  The fit is great, and it is made with an anti-bacterial treatment so that when you finish with your long run or hike, you don't stink (as bad).

It comes in a couple different blue tones, berry(pink), black and gray.  They were moving out pretty fast so run to Costco and get yours today!

Overall a great Costco trip!  Have fun and Happy Hiking!

Haunted Hikes

Try one of these "Haunted Hikes" to celebrate Halloween!  Guaranteed to scare the hiking boots off of you!

Day 28-Ditch Day

Today on day 28 of my "31 Day" series, I am taking a ditch day.  My kids have had half days at school all week due to parent-teacher conferences, so I let them ditch yesterday so we could go hiking!  It was so much fun.  We went to the Lime Kiln Trail in Granite Falls.  I will post more on this later for my Halloween Hike.  Stay tuned.

Sometimes, you just need to have a ditch day and do something you really love!

Happy Hiking!

Day 27-Just Go For It!

Today, on day 27, I just want to say to those of you that haven't tried hiking or feel like you just don't know where to start "just go for it"!

Read through my "31 Days" series, check out some of the hikes I have posted and pick one to try.  You never know, you just might like it!

Happy Hiking!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who is More Friendly?

I was thinking about this the other day while on a run.  You know when you are out on your run/hike/bike ride and you pass another person enjoying the same activity?  Who actually acknowledges your existence?

I know when I am running I usually get at least a nod or smile from  my fellow runners.  On a hike I usually get an even better greeting.  Most hikers have a few words of greeting or more.  However, when I pass a biker, I get nothing.  It's as if they don't even see me.  What's up with that?

I really enjoyed the Inter-Runner Acknowledgement Act from Runner's World Daily that touches on this subject.

So the question is, who do you think are friendlier, runners, hikers, or bikers?  And with that, are certain personalities drawn to their sport or do our personalities change depending on the sport we choose.  In other words, are friendly people runners or are we friendly because we run?  The chicken or the egg dilemma.

Now, I am not saying bikers aren't nice, maybe they are just really concentrating.  Weigh in a tell us what you think.

Fee Free Days in 2012

Go here to find out when the fee-free days for 2012 are.  These days were created to encourage people to get out and enjoy our public lands.

So lace up your hiking boots and enjoy!

Day 26-Refueling

Today for my "31 Days series", I have Claire from "Claire's Healthy Home" guest posting about refueling before, during, and after a hike.  Thanks Claire!

How to Refuel

Simply put, our bodies need fuel in order to live. 
For after exercise recovery, our bodies also need fuel.  It is essential for weight loss and fitness gains.
It is recommended that we drink water daily, of course, but you lose quite a bit when you sweat.  It is important to consume before, during and after exercise.
Sports Drink
A sports drink is not necessary for most daily activities.  However, if you are exercising 60 min or more, it will help to replace the lost electrolytes.  A guideline to follow is to drink 8oz for every hour of exercise.  A lot of sports drinks are filled with sugar, artificial flavors and colors.  Be sure to check the labels.  The last thing you want is to put junk in your body after a healthy workout. 
Aim for 20 – 25 grams of protein post workout.  The best form is in a drink.  Again, though, check your labels.
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Thanks for reading!
Have a blessed day,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Ducks Today

Well, it was cold today but I couldn't stand the thought of running on the treadmill.  So, I put on my layers and took to the roads.  I wanted to run around 7 miles so I decided to add a hill to my regular route.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get my GPS on my phone to lock on so I am guessing I ran about 6.5 miles.

This was a challenging route for me because, if you don't know already, I am not a fan of running up hills.  I did notice that once I reached the top of the hill, the rest of my run was a piece of cake.

I  passed the corner where I usually see my duck friends, but they were smart enough to stay out of the cold today :)

The sun did eventually come out and I loved every minute of it!

Happy Running!

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Day 25-Hiking Clothes

This is pretty simple.  When going on a hike, wear something comfortable.  You will be hiking for hours and will need clothing that is easy to move in, so you have full range of motion in any situation.

Make sure your clothing is weather appropriate.  Since weather can change on a hike you also want to bring a thin jacket to keep in your pack just in case.

Many hikers like to wear clothing with many pockets so they have items accessible such as small items  that may get lost in your pack.  Personally as a woman, I don't like the bulky cargo look, but to each his own.

Happy Hiking!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 24-Hiking with Children

I love to go hiking with my boys.  They are great partners and have tons of energy (most of the time).  The challenge is how to instill a passion for hiking or for any type of exercise for that matter?

Especially now in our lives, children are using the TV and video games to entertain themselves instead of playing outside and being active.  I'm not saying my kids don't watch TV, but I want to try to instill a passion for being healthy and active.  Here are a few simple steps to help get your kids excited to go on a hike.

1. Be excited to go on a hike.  Yes, in order for your kids to understand how fun a hike can be, you need to actually want to have fun too!  Be a good example of a fit and healthy adult and your kids will  follow.

2. Bring plenty of food.  Make sure you have enough food to last throughout the hike.  There is nothing worse than a hungry, and therefore cranky, child with 3 more miles to hike.  They will remember being hungry more than the 20 awesome things they saw during the hike.

3.  Be encouraging.  I am not always the best person for this one.  I can get into my pace and instead of encouraging the boys, I might push them a tad too much.  Try to go at the slowest person's pace and take rest breaks if  needed.  However if your child is capable of going faster by all means push them to go faster (in a nice way :).

4.  Reward them.  When your child accomplishes something on  a hike, reward them in some way.  Sometimes I bring special treats, sometimes it is just with words.  Whatever works for your child should be what you use.  For example, my youngest son loves to be praised while my oldest would rather have a treat.

5.  Make sure you are prepared for anything.  You can go here to see what I bring on our hikes.  Make sure your child is warm enough and dry to ensure a comfortable hiking experience.  Wet feet and blisters=bad hiking experience.

6.  Bring friends.  Nothing motivates my boys more than energetic friends.  They love to go hiking with others, it just makes it more fun.  They have buddies to talk to and play with, without noticing that they are hiking 5 miles uphill. 

7.  Praise, Praise, Praise.  I know I already mentioned this, but praise your kids when they accomplish something.  When you crest a tough hill or make it to the top of the mountain tell them what a great job they did.  I know I like to be told I am doing a good job.

Follow these steps and you will enjoy a fulfilling hiking experience with your children. 

Happy Hiking!

Day 23-HIking Poles

To pole or not to pole, that is the question.  There are mixed reviews on whether or not hiking (or trekking) poles are useful to use on a hike.  Some people are passionate about their poles, some people hate them.  For me, I like to have my hands free.  Even when I had babies, I always used a front pack to carry them so that my hands would be free.

I will share with you the pros and cons of poles and you can decide for yourself whether you want to use them.


-Even weight distribution
-Easier on knees
-Better balance
-Keep arms moving so better workout


-Hands aren't free
-Increased energy expenditure
-Take up more room on the trail
-Many people use poles incorrectly

So, there you go.  There are pros and cons to using poles.  Where do you stand on this debate?  Do you use poles or do you like your hands free like me?

Happy Hiking!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ducks at Mile 3

I went on my "go to" 5 mile route today with my hubby. At around mile 3 there was a flock of ducks that were chilling out along my route.  I have come to expect to see them every time I turn that corner.  They waddle along and look at me but don't seem scared as I run by.  It's as though they are expecting to see me as well.  Maybe they are waiting to greet me before they go on their merry way.  Kind of a nice incentive to go on a run :)

Do you have something on your run that gets you out the door?

Happy Running!

Day 22-Hiking Photography

I love to take photos on our hikes because I like to go back and remember the sights and sounds, see my kids at different ages, and relive the beauty of each hike we experience.
Goat Lake

Now, by no means am I a professional photog, but I strive to get better with each hike we do.  I use my phone to take all of our pictures because I like to carry the least amount possible.  I can also take videos with my phone which I like to add to by blog. I  keep my phone handy in my hand or pocket and it is always ready when I see something I want to capture.  This also goes along with the idea of taking pictures instead of souvenirs from your hike. 
Heather Lake
I have seen some amazing photos that others have taken that inspire me someday to get a better camera and take some better pictures.  But, for now, I am happy with what I have.  How can you go wrong with such amazing scenery?
Tonga Ridge
I hope you take pictures on your hike so that you can share your love of hiking with others.  What type of camera do you use to take your pictures?

Happy Hiking!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thank you!

Well, yesterday I really did not feel like running.  I woke up tired, cold, and grumpy.  There was no way I was going to set foot outside on that cold and wet cement. The thought of running on a treadmill at the gym didn't work for me either.

I hate to say it, but I am what you might call a fair weather runner.  I get cold easily and that first step out the door is really hard if it is cold at all.  So, I resort to the treadmill on the cold or wet days.  The saddest part about that is that I live in Seattle :(  You know what that means.  That I run outside twice a year.  Well, I guess it's not that bad.

So back to yesterday.  I decided to do a couple of chores around the house.  Then I got to thinking.  I will be mad at myself if I don't get my run in and I want to motivate my readers to get out there and move even when you don't feel like it.

So, I laced up my running shoes, strapped on my i-pod, stepped out the door and started my run.  You know what, it was a great run!  I ran 5 miles in 40 minutes and I felt great!  It even rained on me and I didn't mind.  I think this has changed my perspective on running in the rain/cold.  It was actually quite pleasant to run in the rain.

Thank you my trusty followers for motivating me to lace up my shoes and go for it!

Happy Running!

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Day 21-Water

I have talked a little bit about water intake during a hike already.  Today, I will tell you approximately how much water you will need for your hikes.

Generally, you should be drinking about half of your body weight (in ounces) of water per day.  So, if you weigh 200lbs.  that would be 100 ounces of water a day.  I don't know how many of us get to that, but that is the general rule.  Add to that about 8 ounces per hour of exercise.  If your hike is 2 hours that would be 16 extra ounces of fluid needed on top of your regular fluid intake.

Of course if it is hot, you would want to double that amount since your body will be losing fluid at a more rapid pace as the heat rises.

Some signs of dehydration include:

-Decrease in sweat
-Feeling thirsty
-Dry mouth
-Muscle cramping
-Dark colored urine

My kids and I all have Camelbak bladder systems that hold 70 ounces of water.  On top of that I carry a few extra bottles of water in my pack just in case.  It is better to have more than less especially since you are not guaranteed a fresh and safe water source on your hike.

Be safe and Happy Hiking!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Leavenworth 1/2 Marathon 2011

Well, I did it!  I ran 13.1 miles on October 15th 2011 on a beautiful sunny morning in Leavenworth Washington. The whole family and some friends went for the Oktoberfest weekend and we had a blast.

The race started out at the fish hatchery and entered the Icicle River Trail.  This trail is used year round for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.  It is very flat, but the terrain is quite bumpy.  We definitely had to watch our step to make sure we didn't twist an ankle or take a nose dive.  Go here to see the race course map.

We continued on the trail for 2 miles and entered the road which I much preferred to dodging horse poo and rocks.  This was a nice flat course for the most part and the scenery was beautiful.  We passed gorgeous homes, horses, and followed the river for 1/3 of the race.

I have to say that when running, I am not all that observant.  My husband and my friend were saying "did you see that house on the course?" or "can you believe that part of the course?" While I was thinking "did we run the same course?"  Although I did enjoy crossing 4 small bridges along the Icicle trail and my husband doesn't remember any bridges so I guess we all have our moments.

The last 2 miles we re-entered the trail and at this point it was hard to lift my legs high enough to avoid the tree limbs and rocks.  I was ready to be done.

I finally finished and my husband (who finished before me) was waiting for me with a fist bump and a hug.  Yay!  I'm done.  The finisher's medal was really cool.  It could also be used as a bottle opener (It was Oktoberfest after all).
 We all finished without injury.  All in all a good race.

Day 20-Pack Selection

Do you ever wonder how people decide on their hiking backpack?  Why do some have such small packs and some people look like they have everything they own hanging from their back.  On day 20 of my "31 Days" series we will decide what pack is right for us.  Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a pack:

1.  How far are you going?  Are you doing a dayhike or a multi-day trip?

2.  What weight will you be carrying?

3.  What extra features do you want?  Ex. side pocket for easy water bottle access, extra straps for better fit etc.

4.  How much can you spend?

I don't do overnighters so I stick with a simple backpack with a side pocket for my water bottle and a front pocket for easy access to important things like tissues, first aid kit, bug repellant etc.  There are 2 main compartments for things like food, extra water, and jackets.  My pack does not have a frame and is pretty bare bones with no frills and whistles.

I would use the resources of a good outdoor store  like REI.  Go there and tell a salesperson what your typical hike is like and the features you are looking for.  They will be able to show you multiple packs at all of the price points and give you suggestions on what will work best for you.  Go here for more information on pack selection.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 19-Trail Maps

It is always a good idea to have a map of the trail you will be hiking.  Often when I am hiking I will come to a spot where the trail is not well marked and I am not sure which way to turn.  I have turned the wrong way and walked for a while before I realized I needed to head back.

There are a couple of places you can go to get a map of your trail.  Trailmeister is a good resource to print your trail map and get a trip report in the process.  This enables you to have your map on hand while on the trail to look at and see where the trail heads and how much further you need to go.

You can also go to the ranger station closest to your destination.  They often have trail maps printed for free of the local trails in the area. 

If you feel like spending some money, you can buy detailed maps of your trails or even books that include many different trail maps online, at your local bookstore, or even at the ranger station.

Happy Hiking!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 18-Pack it in Pack it out

Okay, I am caught up with my "31 Days" series.  Yay!  I will make it simple today.  Day 18, let's reiterate the importance of "Pack it in, Pack it out".  When you go on a hike, whatever you bring with you should leave with you.  Don't leave anything behind. You can go here and here to read more.

In order to preserve our trails and the beauty of nature, you need to do your part to keep the area clean. 

On top of keeping the trails in good condition, packing it out also keeps our wild animals safe.  Any food or garbage you leave behind will become the diet of the animals that live in the area.  We want to keep all of the beautiful living creatures healthy and safe so that we all can enjoy them in the future.

Thank you and Happy Hiking!

Runner Chronicles

I ran the Leavenworth 1/2 Marathon on October 15th with my friend and my husband (more on this later).  This was my friend's first one and she emailed me the night before to ask me if I had any last minute advice for her.  Here is what I said:

Layers are good so you can take the top layer off and tie around your waist if you get hot.  Moisture wicking socks if you have them to prevent blisters.  Clip your toenails short.

Make sure your i-pod is fully charged.  Very frustrating to run out of tunes at the halfway point.  Been there done that.  Really sad :(

If you have a visor or running hat to keep the sun out of your face (supposed to be sunny). 

Advil or pain reliever of choice and maybe Tums or Immodium  if you get an upset tummy.  Also preferred breakfast or pre-running food.

Lastly, make sure you go to the bathroom (if you know what I mean) before the race.

Hydrate today all day.

Don’t stress, it will be really fun!

Too much info? :)

And this is my advice to anyone running a long distance race. Read more at Runner Chronicles.

Day 17-Hiking Safety

Hiking can be a great, fun, and healthy activity, but in order for everything to go smoothly, there are some safety precautions you should follow.  On Day 17 of my "31 Day" series we will be talking about safety precautions. 

Before I go on a hike I make sure to:

1.  Have a hiking partner.  Going hiking with a partner or group is my #1 safety precaution.

2. Check trail reports to make sure the trail is accessible and to get an idea of what the the trail route is like.

3.  Check my pack to make sure it is complete. Go here to see what I bring in my pack.

4.  Give someone my itinerary.  Go here for more information.

5.  Make sure my gas tank is full.  You don't want to run out of gas 20 miles from a gas station.

6.  Know how to get to my destination. 

7.  Make sure my phone is charged in case of emergency on the trail.

8.  Have my photo ID, insurance card, road id on hand.

9.  Once I get to my destination I fill out the log book at the trailhead so if I were to get lost, the park ranger would know I was still out there.

10.  Especially when hiking with children, don't lose sight of your hiking partners.  My kids know that they must be in my view at all times and they have to be able to see me as well.  They can go up ahead as long as they are still in my sight.

I hope these tips will ensure you have a safe and fun hiking experience.  Happy Hiking!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Am a Runner

Here is an entry from my new page Runner Chronicles.

I am a runner.  Sometimes I love it sometimes I hate it, but running is a part of me.  I love to push my body to its limits and see how far I can take it.  I love to know that I can go outside and run for miles and miles.  I love that I can do something that makes other people feel like throwing up.  I am a runner.

I have lost toenails. I have had chaffing. I have made emergency pit stops on the race course.  Yes, I am a woman and I have had to pee in the bushes because the line to the port-a-potty was too long and the race was about to start.  I am a runner.

I have almost cried when I found out my favorite running shoe was discontinued.  I have used my fair share of Tums and Advil post race.  I have limped for days. I have blown my nose on my shirt and spit in the bushes (not ladylike I know).  Why do I do this to myself?  Because I am a runner and although it is not always pretty, it is something I treasure and with God's help, nothing can take it away from me.

I have run 19 races total from 5k's to a full marathon (only 1) and even though I have never come close to winning any of them, I have enjoyed each and every experience.

Follow along with me as I log my runs, give race advice, post my favorite running gear and whatever else I feel like typing.  I hope I can motivate you to lace up your running shoes and take to the trails.

Happy Running!

Day 16-Boots

Although I have been on too many hikes to count, I have not invested in hiking boots.  I don't know if it is the cost conscious person in me or the fact that there are so many to choose from that keeps me from going for it.  I may just be too fond of my running shoes to want to make the switch.  Sure, they aren't waterproof and they don't support my ankles.  But, they hug every bump on the trail instead of tripping on them and I am so familiar with them they just feel right.

However, one day I will have to just go out and make a choice.  So, how do we do that?

First, you have to know what most of your hikes consist of.   Rocky or smooth?  If your hikes are pretty rocky with uneven terrain you may want to invest in a mid to high top hiking boot.  These are designed to help support your ankles on uneven terrain.  They also help keep debris from getting in your shoes which is nice.  If you are more of a leisurely hiker sticking to flat and even surfaces you would probably be just fine with a low top hiking shoe.  Sturdy with good traction but without the extra ankle support.

Second, will your hikes be mostly dry and during the summer or are you an all weather type of hiker?  In Washington, even if you only hike in the summer, you still will want to invest in a waterproof hiking boot.  I have run into snow and water over the trail in August.  So far, I have been able to keep my feet dry in just my running shoes by avoiding the wet areas, but as I venture into the different seasons, I will need a shoe or boot that will be more practical.  You don't want to have to hike 5 miles with wet feet.

Finally, make sure you go to a good sporting goods store and ask an expert for help.  Tell them what your plans are and use their expertise to find the right boot for you.  Try multiple boots on, walk around.  Take your time.  This boot will hopefully be with you for a long time and is an investment.  You need something that will keep your feet happy for 100's of miles.  As a runner, I usually put 200-500 miles on a pair of shoes.  You will be putting similar mileage on your hiking boots.  Make those miles comfy and dry ones.  For even more information on how to choose the right boot go to REI.

Do you have a favorite hiking boot that stands the test of time?  Tell us about it.  Also stay tuned for my video blog as I try to find the right boot for me.

Happy Hiking!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 15-Conditioning

Are you ready to go hiking?  Do you have the conditioning needed to go 5-10-15 miles?  Only you know what your body is capable of.  But making sure your body is conditioned to make the trek and not be exhausted and extremely sore the next day is important to know before you go.

If you are just starting out.   Washington is a great place to be just because there are so many trail options of all shapes and sizes for you to start with.  You can go from a flat 2 miler to a multi-day 20-30 miler all within 10 miles of each other.

I not only enjoy hiking but I love to run and push my body to its limits.  I am passionate about living a healthy and fit lifestyle and instilling that in my children.  Knowing that I can run 10 or more miles tells me that I can hike a similar distance if not more.

Hiking and running are very different.  Running is quick and I usually avoid hills :).  Hiking on the other hand  is much slower due to the terrain and elevation gain.  I can run 10 miles in 90 minutes but it could take 5 hours to hike it.  So, hiking will take a different kind of endurance but similar conditioning.

Hiking takes cardiovascular conditioning to go the distance as well as strength training for your core and legs muscles.  In order to ensure you will not be sore the next day you will need to include the strength training aspect in your routine.  Along with these 2 things, you will need to make sure to stretch after your hike and hydrate before, during and after.

I hope you take these aspects into consideration before you hit the trails.  Enjoy your adventures and be safe.

Stay tuned for my page on running.  I will be running the Leavenworth Half Marathon on October 15th and I will be adding a page about running and will blog about my experiences.

Happy Hiking!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 14-Hiking with Dogs

Today I will be talking about hiking with man's best friend.  Some people are pro dogs some are against.  I love dogs and think they make great hiking partners.  Just make sure to follow a few simple rules and this will be a match made in heaven.
Dogs are like people in that they need to be conditioned just as much as we do.  Just like you couldn't go out and do a 10 mile hike after being sedentary for your entire life, neither can your dog.  Make sure that your dog is conditioned for the hike you will be doing.  If not, you could risk injury for your dog and for you when you have to carry him back down the hill.  Or, you could be stuck like I was when my 90 pound lab decided to lay down in the middle of the trail and refused to move.

You also want to make sure your dog is well trained for trails.  They should be able to walk calmly on  a leash and not lunge at people or animals when passing by.  Teaching the "leave it" command will enable you to have a peaceful hike without your dog trying to take off at every new sight or smell.  This also ensures that other hikers will not feel nervous about your dog trying to jump on them.

Think about hydrating your dog as you would for yourself.  Often we forget about our four legged friends when getting our pack ready.  Yes, dogs can drink out of streams and their tummies are stronger than ours, but you should really bring a bottle of water for Fido too.  Also bring a bowl of some sort.  I have a collapsible fabric bowl that is waterproof inside so it is easy to pack and doesn't take up much room.  If you will be gone a long time, add a snack to your pack so that your dog has the energy needed to make it all the way and to reward him for doing such a great job!
The law in Washington state is that your dog has to be on a leash.  I know many of you have well behaved dogs and think that your dog is the exception, but it isn't.  Not everyone is as fond of dogs as you and I are, and an off leash dog can ruin their hiking experience.  Let's be thoughtful of our fellow hikers and put our dogs on a leash.
 Last but not least, pick up after your pet.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my pet peeve is when dog owners let their dog make a mess in the middle of the trail and do not pick up after them.  YUCK!  This is the main reason that dogs on trails get a bad rap.  After all, it is not the dog, it is the irresponsible owner.  When taking your dog on a hike, always bring a bag to clean up your dog's mess and be prepared to "pack it out".  Do not leave the full bag on the side of the trail. 
I hope these tips will ensure you have a great hiking experience with your dog.  Bringing your dog with you will not only provide you with a cheerful hiking partner, but will keep your dog healthy and active for years to come!

Happy Hiking!

Day 13-Hiking App

For Day 13 of my "31 Day" series, I want to tell you about my favorite hiking app for Android phones.  I know many people are anti-technology when it comes to hiking, but I think it can be useful in certain instances. 

RunKeeper is an app that can be used for running, hiking, biking, skiing, swimming, etc.  I use it for running and hiking.  Just go to your app store and search for RunKeeper.

You can use your phone's GPS to track your activity or you can enter it manually.  Choose your activity type and press start.

RunKeeper will map your route, calculate elevation gain, keep time and distance.  This is a great way to keep track of all your hiking stats.  You can also make notes after each activity to remind yourself later what you liked or disliked about your adventure.

The only drawback is that sometimes the GPS won't lock on when you are on a remote hike.  In this instance you can enter the hike manually and RunKeeper will keep time for you.

Do you have a favorite App you use on your hikes?  Tell us about it.

Happy Hiking!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 12-Let's Go Hiking!

Okay, so I am a bit burned out on my "31 Days" series, so I am going to post a hike today!  Yay!

Today I will take you on our journey to Wallace Falls in Goldbar WA.  We have done this hike probably 5-6 times.  It is a very well known and popular hike so be prepared to have company.  This hike is very kid-friendly with a well maintained and wide trail.  The trail is 5 1/2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1300 feet.

The first 1/4 mile you will hear the buzzing of power lines which is not so pleasant but all of a sudden the odd buzz disappears and the sound of the Wallace River takes its place.  You can stop at the river and let your dog drink or let your kids get wet.
At about a mile in, the trail becomes a bit steep.  When we went, there were a few big blowdowns that didn't touch the trial but the kids enjoyed climbing on.

Continue your hike through the forest and you will begin your ascent that will bring you to the lower falls viewpoint.  There is a picnic bench and shelter where you can stop for a snack and a great view.  You won't want to wait long, though, since you can get a glimpse of what is to come.

We saw this chipmunk at the picnic area.  I didn't snap the picture fast enough to get his face :)

At 2.2 miles, you will reach the middle falls with the most spectacular views of the Skykomish River Valley and the Olympic Mountains.
If you want to go all the way to the top and the upper falls, you will continue another 1/2 mile.  The views are not as great as at the middle falls, but you will want to go all the way to the top.

There are actual bathroom facilities at the trailhead and the parking lot is quite large.  You will need a Discover Pass to park at the trailhead.

To get here, take Highway 2 east to Gold Bar. Take a left on 1st Street (you will see a sign for Wallace Falls State Park). Continue .4 miles to a 4-way stop and take a right on May Creek Road.  Drive 1.5 miles to the Wallace Falls State Park trailhead.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 11-Calorie Expenditure

In order to know how much fuel you will need on your hike you need to know how many calories you will be burning.  So, on day 11 of my "31 Days" series, we will figure out how many calories we burn on our hikes.

When hiking you want to bring only what you need, nothing more.  The heavier your pack, the harder your hike.  So, knowing how many calories you need to replenish will ensure you don't overpack your food stores.

You want to make sure you do replenish your calories, so that you have the energy to finish your hike especially when you have children with you.  I found a great website that helps you figure out your calories burned.  You can go to hikingscience and enter in your info and it will calculate your calorie expenditure.  Here is what it looks like.



Distance Round Trip (miles):
Elevation Gain (ft)
Bodyweight (lbs)
Backpack Weight (lbs)




Average Grade %

Work Ratio relative to Flat Walking
Equivalent Number of Flat Miles
Base Calories Burned (kcal)
Adjusted Calories Burned

Next time you plan your hike you will know exactly how many calories you need to eat to make sure you keep your energy level up.

Happy Hiking!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 10-Hiking Passes

Today I will help you figure out what pass you will need to park at your trailhead.   In Washington there are 3 main passes I will discuss.

1.  U.S. Forest Service Pass:  This pass is good for all US Forest Service trailheads in Washington and Oregon.  You can check out which sites are covered here.  You can purchase a day pass for $5 or an annual pass for $30. 

Northwest Forest Pass

2.  Discover Pass: This pass is required to park at Washington State managed recreation sites including Washington State Parks, Department of Natural Resources lands, and Department of Fish and wildlife trailheads. A day pass is $10 per car and an annual pass is $30 per car.  Unfortunately you can only use the pass for one car.  You cannot switch the pass between multiple household vehicles.

3.  The America the Beautiful Interagency Annual Pass:  This pass gives you access to any national park or other federal site that charges fees for one year.  This pass is $80 per year. 


For more detailed information on passes for the Pacific Northwest go here.  For other areas I would google "recreation passes for (blank) state".

Happy Hiking!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 9-Preserving Our Trails

It is always so nice to hike a well maintained trail.  So, for Day 9 of my "31 Days" series I will give some information on preserving our trails. 

Most importantly the action of  "packing in/packing out" is the best and easiest way we can help to keep our trails pristine.  When hiking you never want to leave anything behind.  What you bring with you needs to leave with you. 

Another great way to help that is not as easy but is greatly appreciated and fulfilling is to volunteer for a trail work party.  These work parties get together for the day or multiple days and work on our trails.  If you live in Washington you can go here to see where and when work parties are scheduled.  You can go here to see some examples of the work our wonderful volunteers are doing. 

This is also a great way to get your kids involved in helping to appreciate and preserve nature.  Some work parties allow children to help, but others do not.  However, while you are on your hike, encouraging your children to pick up garbage and explaining why we want to "pack it in/pack it out" will encourage the next generation to take care of our trails for generations to come.

Have you ever volunteered for a trail work party?  Tell us about your experience.

Happy Hiking!

Day 8-What to Bring

There are many thoughts on what to bring on a hike.  Since I am not into being too adventurous and I never go off trail I don't typically bring maps and compasses or anything too technical.  However these items are a must if you plan to go off trail.

Here is a list of things I bring on a hike with my kids.  I can always fit everything into my backpack.

1. Layers: Like I mentioned in one of my posts, the temperature and weather can change quickly due to the elevation gain on hikes so I always bring a jacket for everyone in my hiking party.

2. Water: This is a necessity on any hike. I bring about 32oz. per person depending on the length of the hike.  If you plan to do multiple hikes, I would invest in a Camelbak type of device for each child so they can be in charge of their own water.  This saves you having to lug around everyone's water and having to listen to "mom, I'm thirsty" the whole way :)

3.  Food: I usually pack a lunch and some snacks to eat along the way.  Kids will always be hungry and a snack/lunch can be a good motivator to make it to the top. They also need energy since hiking can be tiring.

4.  First Aid kit: I pack mine with pain reliever, band aids, antibacterial ointment, wipes, gauze, anti-diarrhea medication, allergy meds,  hand sanitizer, matches, and anything else child-specific you may need. (Ex.epi-pen or inhaler).  Garbage bags are also easy to store and make great rain gear in an emergency.

5.  Multi-tool:  For example a Leatherman tool just in case you need it.

6.  Sunscreen and bug repellent:  You can get individually wrapped packs of sunscreen and bug repellent that will fit easily in your backpack.  You can also get bug fans that clip to your belt or bug bracelets. I have tried both and feel the fan works better, but it requires batteries and is more expensive.

7. Small Flashlight:  I would bring extra batteries too just in case.  Although I don't hike at night, it is always a good idea to carry a flashlight if only to peer into logs etc. for curious eyes.

8. Biodegradable toilet paper (self explanatory)

9.  Cell phone:  This is a must in case of emergency.  Make sure it is fully charged when you begin your hike.  I also use mine to take all of our pictures.  It actually takes better pictures than my camera and gives me one less thing to carry.

10.  I always bring my driver's license and insurance card.  This ensures that if there is an emergency all parties will know who I am and have my medical information.  I also have a Road ID that velcros to my shoe.  I originally purchased this because I am a runner and it is a useful tool in case of emergency, but it works great for hiking too.  It includes whatever information you want such as name, emergency numbers, health info etc.  You can go to to learn more.

Finally, I carry a whistle and pepper spray (in case of animals or weirdos). Make sure you know how to use the pepper spray before you begin your hike.  The time to read the directions is not when an angry animal is rushing towards you.

Is there anything that you always bring on a hike or something you can't hike without?  Post your idea below.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 7-Itinerary

Welcome to Day 7 of my "31 Days" series hosted by The Nester.  Today will be short and sweet.  I will be talking about sharing your itinerary with someone.

We have all heard about the people who get lost hiking and nobody knows where they are because they didn't let anyone know where they were going.  This is a big no no that can lead to days of misery or even death.  One specific story is of Aron Ralston who had to amputate his arm to survive. 

I always send me husband my itinerary which includes, name of hike, where it is located (ex. off of Mountain Loop Highway), how long the hike should take me and when I should be home.  This enables him to know where I am in case I don't make it home in the predicted time. 

Taking these steps gives me peace of mind knowing that if I were to get into trouble someone will be able to find me fairly quickly and it gives my husband peace of mind knowing where I am.

So, when you plan you next hike make sure someone (spouse, friend, neighbor, etc.) has your itinerary so you can enjoy a safe day in the wilderness.

Be safe and Happy Hiking!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 6- Hiking Etiquette

Yes, there is even etiquette when you are hiking.  When you are new to hiking you may wonder about how to be appropriate and what rules you should follow on the trails.  I have compiled a list of etiquette tips you should know before you hit the trails.

1.  How to yield.  Often you may encounter bikers or horses on your trail.  Here are the yield guidelines.
Hikers yield to horses, bikers yield to hikers and horses, horses yield to no-one.  Make sense?

2.  Control your talking volume.  Nobody wants to hear about your party Saturday night (or maybe they do, was it fun?)  so keep the volume at an appropriate level so that others can enjoy the serenity of the trail.  I am a bit lax on this just because #1 volume keeps the wildlife away as I mentioned in Day 5 and #2 I have 2 boys.  So, don't be obnoxious, but talking is fine.

*As a sidenote.  Please no talking on cellphones when on a trail.  We are all there to get away from technology and daily stresses not be closer to them.  Luckily most cell phones are out of range on hikes :)

3.  Stay on the trail.  Do not cut a switchback or take a shortcut off of the trail.  This ensures the preservation of our trail systems.

4.  Greet fellow hikers.  We are all out there to enjoy the same thing so be polite and smile or say hello.  I have found that most hikers are very nice and give some good tips, so keep your ears open.

5.  Hikers going up get the right of way.  As I mentioned above, I learned this tip on a hike from a fellow hiker.  I was excited to have some new knowledge.  It makes sense, those that are working harder should get the right of way.

6.  As with driving, stay to the right of the path and pass on the left.  Let your fellow hikers know you are passing, so you don't startle them.

7.  If you are stopping for a view or a rest, stay off of the path so others can pass.  Also, you might want to say something so they know you are there.  I was on a hike recently where a woman and her 2 dogs were standing really still and quiet off of the path, and I was startled when I was 2 feet away and finally noticed them. 

8.  When hiking in a group, hike single file or double file at the most.  Be aware of what the trail width will allow.  I get annoyed when I am hiking, and even running, and people take up the entire path so you have to actually say "excuse me" in order to pass.  Let's all be polite and share the trails.

9.  Keep your dogs on a leash and pick up after them.  Believe me, nobody loves dogs more than I do ( I have 2 wonderful pups), but not everyone is as enamored by them.  The most frustrating thing on a hike is to see a big pile of you know what right in the middle of the trail.  Come on, really?  Even worse, a bag of you know what thrown off to the side of  the trail.  I am pretty sure you just extended the life of the pile by doing that.  Anyways, gross but had to be said.

I saw a funny sign at the trailhead of one of my hikes, it goes something like this:


10.  Finally, pack it in , pack it out.  Whatever you bring on your hike should go home with you as well.  There is nothing worse than being on a beautiful hike and seeing someone's empty water bottle along the way.  I always bring a gallon size Ziploc bag and put all of my garbage in it.  I can keep it in my pack without taking up any room and I can keep it sealed so there is no smell.

I hope this helps you in your quest to become a smarter hiker.  Let me know if you have an etiquette tip to share.

Happy Hiking!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5- Hiking Terminology

Welcome to Day 5 of my series "31 Days to Becoming a Smarter Hiker".  Today, I will be talking about hiking terminology.  Have you ever read a trip report and wondered what in the world some of the terms meant?  I know it took me a few reports to understand what they were talking about.  So, I have compiled a list of 12 terms that I think will be beneficial for you know to prepare for your hikes.

1. Altitude:   The height of a place or thing above sea level.

2. Bald:  Mountain with an open, grassy summit, that is void of trees

3.  Blowdown:  Anything blown down on the trail by the wind.
4. Cairn:  A constructed mound of rock located adjacent to a trail used to mark the trail route.  Used in open areas where the tread is indistinct.

5.  Destination Trail:  A trail which connects 2 distinct points (A to B) rather than returning the user to the original beginning point.

6.  Elevation Gain:  The sum of every gain in elevation throughout an entire trip.  For example if there is an elevation gain of 2000 ft. within a 2 mile span you know you will be huffin and puffin.  If the gain is only 200ft in 2 miles, it will be a leisurely stroll.

7.  Loop Trail:  A trail system that forms a loop giving the users the option of not traveling the same section of trail more than once on a trip.

8. Old Growth Forest:  Forests that have never been logged, or have not been logged in many decades characterized by a large percentage of mature trees.

9.  Saddle:  Ridge between 2 peaks.

10.  Switchback:  A sharp turn in a trail to reverse direction and to gain elevation.

11.  Trailhead:  An access point to a long distance trail often accompanied by various public facilities such as bathrooms, trail information etc.

12.  Turnout:  A place where the trail widens to permit trail traffic traveling in opposite directions to pass.

These are just a few of many hiking terms you can find here.  These terms are ones that I have encountered in various trip reports and that I find useful in everyday hiking.

Do you have a hiking term that you think is important that is not listed?  Please share the term and its definition with us.

Happy Hiking!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 4-Animal Encounters

Now that we know how to avoid dangerous plants, let's talk about how to avoid dangerous animals.  Inevitably when you go hiking you will see some sort of animal along the way.  Most are harmless enough, but what happens when the animal is not so harmless?
In Washington, the 2 main animals to be aware of are bears and cougars.  These are 2 animals you do not want to encounter while hiking.  So, before you go on your hike, you can go here and check if there have been any recent sightings near your destination.  If so, find another place to go.

When you arrive at your destination, there are a few actions you can take to avoid dangerous encounters with wildlife.

1.  Look for signs of wildlife activity such as droppings, tracks, marking of trees etc.  You can find    out more information here.

2.  Make lots of noise.  You might think that this would attract an animal, but it actually scares them away.  They don't want to be around you as much as you don't want to be around them.  So, make your steps loud, and if you are with others, talk loudly.

3.  Hike in groups.  I know hiking buddies aren't always available, but a wild animal is less likely to attack a large group than a single person.

4.  Be Alert.  Even if you are following all of the other rules, you still need to be alert and aware of your surroundings.  Look around, watch for movement.  You want to see him before he sees you.

5.  Carry animal repellant spray.  I always bring pepper spray on every hike.  This will not only help with wild animals, but with aggressive dogs or humans.  Make sure to have this easily accessible, not hidden at the bottom of your pack.

Okay, so you followed all the rules and did everything right.  You turn the corner and there he is, a big black bear!  What do you do?  Go here to find out.  There are lots of different situations described but basically, slowly back away and retreat is the #1 thing to do.  Do not run away!  A bear is much faster than you and you will not win this race.

When my boys and I were hiking in Palm Springs, CA, we encountered a rattlesnake.  My youngest son and I stepped over a rock none the wiser.  My oldest son soon followed and froze.  He saw a rattlesnake right under the rock we just stepped over.  Yikes!
We slowly backed away and made our way back to the car.  The snake was not aggressive, he just seemed to be watching.  In most cases, if you make noise so they know you are there, they will ignore you.  You just want to make sure not to surprise wild animals, that is when you can get into trouble.

Have you ever encountered a wild animal on your hike?  Tell us your story.

Be safe and Happy Hiking!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 3-Plant Encounters

On day 3 of my "31 Days to Becoming a Smarter Hiker" series I will be talking about plants you may encounter on your hikes to be aware of.  When you decide on a hike, you want to know what plants you may encounter, specifically, the poisonous and dangerous ones.

Have you ever been out in the woods and come home with a weird rash or itchy/irritated area?  You don't know what could have caused it. I have to admit, when I first started hiking, I couldn't identify poison ivy if it rubbed up against me and caused a rash right there and then.  In Washington state we have poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettles.
All 3 can cause a rash and uncomfortable itching and stinging.  Depending on where you live, you want to be able to identify potentially irritating plants so that you can avoid them on your hike (especially if you have children with you).  For example you don't want to hand your child a poison ivy leaf to wipe with after going to the bathroom.  EWWW.
Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy Rash
As you can see, poison ivy can cause blistering.  This picture is extremely mild compared to other images I found, but I didn't want to gross you out.
Poison Oak
Notice the uneven edges of the leaves.  Poison Oak cases a similar rash as poison ivy.
Stinging nettles
Stinging Nettles Rash
I will discuss treatment of these irritants in a later post.  So, research what plants you may come into contact with on your hike and be prepared to avoid them.
As far as berries go, heed your mother's advice and don't eat any berries unless you know exactly what they are.

Do you have any poisonous plants in your neck of the woods?  Tell us about them.

Stay safe and Happy Hiking!