Monthly Archives: May 2012

Unmentionables

I haven’t talked about it on the blog because I’m not the type to really talk about this kind of thing in public, but one thing I’m worried about is *ahem* bathroom breaks. I’ve never really deal with the situation before and I’m not entirely sure I know how.

Jezebel recently had an article about how to go to the bathroom wherever, that includes a section on the outdoors. Might be worth a read for people in a similar conundrum.

Short blog today, got a lot of things on my to-do list.

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Camel packs?

I’m debating getting one of those day packs that has a water system built in. We were walking around the lake yesterday afternoon, and it was really hot. I hadn’t brought my backpack with me (even though I should) because I didn’t feel like packing things in it. I never bring a water bottle on my walks because I don’t want to carry it and bother with it.

If I had my pack with a water bottle in it, I’d have to stop and get it out to take a drink. Which means I just wouldn’t.

So I’m wondering if I would actually drink out of one of these packs. I don’t know if I’d go for it with an actual long term or overnight pack, but for a day pack it seems highly useful.

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Stairs: bane of my existence

Obviously, this blog has become a chronicle of all the things I’m worried about when it comes to this hike. I should be making a list on a page so that I can cross things off when I figure out how to deal.

But anyway, one of my main problems in every day life is stairs. Even when I’ve been exercising regularly and taking care of myself, stairs still kill me. I have no idea why. I could walk a mile with no ill effects and a short flight of stairs will just take the wind out of me.

So I worry sometimes about the hiking. Will it be like the stairs? Or will it be like the walking? The only way to know is to just start hiking in rougher terrain, but I don’t want to overexert myself too quickly either. I do know that stairs are the worst thing in the world for my bad knee (it pops on every step up, which makes it ache for hours if I go up too many). Steep hills can set it off the same way, so I feel like I should fix my knee before I keep going too far on this plan.

Part of my thought is to just build up the muscle around my knee by walking more. Which I haven’t exactly been doing. I did walk quite a bit over the weekend for various reasons. But anyway, the idea is to take it easy in general and build up the knee to work a bit better. I don’t actually know if that’s sound reasoning medically, but it seems to make sense.

Not to get a dang raincoat and start walking even on rainy days like today.

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Never mind the organic bug spray…

So last weekend I went back out into Prince William Forest Park for a shoot that I was working. Being out in the park was the reason I posted earlier about bug spray and wanting organic options if possible.

Two people on the crew found ticks on them after the first day (and one found more than one) so yeah, my commitment to not using DEET just went out the window. After doing a bit of research on ticks and how to check for them and remove them, the one thing I’m sure of is that I’d rather douse myself in bug spray than deal with Lyme disease.

I’ve been bitten by ticks before when I was a kid. I grew up near the A.T. after all. But when I was young I was also blissfully unaware of what could go wrong if you improperly remove a tick (leaving the head buried in you? UGH) and I was also able to just yell for my mom to take care of it.

Neither of these are options on the trail, and I’m also faced with the fact that if I’m traveling solo and find a tick on my back where I can’t reach (though how I’ll find it I don’t know) then I don’t know what I could do about it.

I guess this is the part where I’ll have to rely on reading accounts from more experienced hikers. But I do know that if Lyme disease stopped me from completing my thru-hike I would be so cranky…

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Bugs

I need bug spray.

Not actually in an immediate sense, I have two bottles of bug spray that I bought a while back.

The problem is that in general, I don’t like most bug sprays because they contain such harsh chemicals and I don’t like using harsh chemicals when I can help it. But especially because I don’t like putting anything like that on my face, my skin has enough problems.

But I also have spent a few days outside over the last week and the bugs have been a problem (especially gnats, I HATE gnats). I’d rather find an organic/natural bug repellent and I tried one last weekend that seemed okay but it was in a wax stick form and I’d prefer a spray because it’s so much faster to get full coverage and you can spray it on your clothes too.

I’m also pretty sure that on the trail, I’ll need something pretty heavy duty. Other than things flying in my face, there’s also the very real threat of deer ticks/Lyme disease and mosquitos/West Nile. Plus I keep hearing about the black flies in Maine if I hike Southbound.

So I’m wondering if I have to go with something with DEET in it, or if I can find something that is natural that will do the trick, and also a spray.

Things to research.

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Gotta Wear Shades

One of the random quirks about me is that I generally can’t survive outside without sunglasses. My eyes are extra sensitive light.

I’m also the kind of person who loses and breaks things frequently. So my standard for sunglasses is to buy many pairs of cheap glasses until they all break or dissapear and then I buy more.

I don’t think that will work for my hike. For one thing, I will likely need something that is close to my face to protect my eyes from dust and bugs as well as UV rays.

I also can’t afford the pack weight of carrying a bunch of extra pairs. So I may have to actually invest in something more sturdy. At least I will be wearing them every day, so there will be less chance of losing them.

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Getting away

I had a great day today, but it ended on a really sour note that’s just reminding me how much I’ll enjoy getting away from humanity while I’m hiking.

Part of me wishes I already had my gear, I’d be out on a trail tomorrow. But I guess I’ll settle for taking a nice long walk when it’s light again instead.

This is why I’m not going to have one partner for the entire hike. Because I don’t think I could spend 24/7 with one person for six months. There are a few people I’d be willing to hike with for a month or two even, but not six. People annoy me too much some days.

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Injuries

I’ve already been thinking that I should redo my first aid certification before I go on my hike. Since I intend to be primarily solo on this trip (I’ll have people joining me for various legs, but no one partner for the entire route) I think it would be best if I can deal with my own bumps and bruises, at least until help arrives. That is, if it’s bad enough to need help. And I should also be knowledgeable enough to know if I need help.

All this became more evident last night, when I stubbed my toe. It is a completely run of the mill injury, the kind of thing I actually do kind of frequently. As I pointed out to my best friend, when you stub your toe the pain is always so severe and so immediate that you always think you’ve broken it clean in half. Until you look at it, you’re convinced it’s got to be mangled. And then you take your sock off and there’s NOTHING wrong with it and you feel like an idiot but it still hurts.

Anyway. This wasn’t any different, except the pain didn’t go away. I’ve never had a stubbed toe that still hurt the next day, or even that hurt too badly a few hours later. I usually just forget it even happened after a few hours. But in this instance, I woke up this morning and flexed my feet (not an uncommon thing for me in the morning) and *bam* the pain hit all over again. I’ve got a nice little bruise on top too.

Now, I’m almost certain I didn’t break my toe. But I ended up looking up information on Google because I didn’t even know how to tell if it was broken or sprained or what I should do in either case. Which just brings me back to my first point – first aid training. I really need to know these things so that if I do stub my toe or scratch my arm or anything like that, I take the proper steps right away. A thru-hike is going to be difficult for my body to endure if it was in perfect condition, which it never will be, and adding injuries to that isn’t going to help.

So I guess I have to add first aid certification onto my “to do very soon” list. And it’ll have to be a more comprehensive course than the last one I took, I think.

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Not much to update

There’s one problem with this plan to update this blog twice a week, in that when I fall behind on my goals and don’t achieve anything, I have nothing to say.

The idea is that this keeps my plan visible and forces me to be accountable for when I don’t achieve my goals. Like me not walking every day like I’m supposed to.

It’s not quite working yet.

I need motivation. And I need to get on a normal sleep schedule. And generally I think I need a complete overhaul of my life to make this work.

Which is the hardest part.

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Water

I’ve read a lot about water, and how much we’re really supposed to drink. You’d be surprised how much conflicting information is out there.

One thing for me is that I’m probably spending most days dehydrated. On the rare occasion that I’ve talked to doctors about my fluid intake they’ve been pretty shocked by how abysmally small it is. I’ve been told multiple times that I’m keeping myself horribly low on fluids.

But it’s probably the hardest habit I’ve ever tried to break. I think it will likely be one of my greatest stumbling blocks when it comes to my thru-hike. I may drink an entire 16 oz glass of some kind of liquid in a day. But that’s about it.

That’s far less than the two liters of liquid you’re supposed to consume. See, most people are starting to agree that it’s not 8 glasses of water a day, but between food, juice, and water you need about 2 liters of liquid a day. Food doesn’t really account for much, but juice counts the same way that water does. Though you shouldn’t JUST have juice, I think the best idea I read was that half of it should be water.

But my problem is two fold. First, I’m just not thirsty. A doctor told me that’s because I’ve trained my body to not be thirsty because it’s dehydrated. It’s gotten used to the status quo and I have to teach it otherwise. Easier said than done, because the other problem is that most of the time if I drink a large amount of water I get sick. My stomach feels distended and gross and I get nauseous.

I have no idea how to solve this problem properly. I’ve tried at multiple points in my life to start slowly and increase my water intake. The idea usually is to keep several 16-20 oz refillable bottles of water in the fridge and every day I have to drink one of those. It’s nowhere near what I’m supposed to get, but I try to start small. So far it’s never stuck. I just can’t get the habit to stay. I don’t have the will power.

But for my thru-hike, I have to. I feel like dehydration on the trail will be one of my most dangerous enemies after the bears.

Tips?

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