What is Pursuing Balance Through Adventure?

  • What does that even mean?
  • What the hell are you doing on the top of that mountain?
  • What is it all about?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Are you crazy?

For the answer to these burning questions and others here is a candid interview with Adventure Blogger Roger Jenkins presented by Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’s YouTube Channel.

Pursuing Balance Through Adventurous YouTube Channel

Please also see a previous post on the subject of ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’

Hiking in Snow

There are a lot of pluses regarding getting off of the couch and away from the TV during the winter. Many of them are the same pluses that are there in all seasons. In Winter you will not see the crowded trails which is a plus, but the minus could be you are on your own if anything should go awry. Winter has a beauty and fascination all it’s own. The stark white landscape, the surreal otherworldliness of a thick coverage of snow and ice that blankets the hills, mountains, and trees is simply divine. There is a stillness providing quiet reflection, as you breath in the chilled frosty air, and the winter wind nips at your nose. A new adventure that differs from Spring, Summer and Fall.

First let me say that I am not professing to being an expert regarding Hiking in Snow, as living in Southern California certainly isn’t conducive to conjuring up visions of a Winter Wonderland. That being said, our local mountains certainly have opportunities for snow fun, and obviously as you head further North there are endless possibilities. What I am trying to accomplish with this article is to give you food for thought as I am relaying my experiences of ‘Hiking in the Snow’.

Planning

It is imperative to plan ahead for wintery frolicking. This is essential to ensure you have a safe, and enjoyable experience. Check the weather and plan accordingly. Make sure that the roads are open to the location that you have chosen, and that the trail itself is open and available for winter fun. Find out information regarding the current conditions of the trail so you will know what to expect and to match this with your equipment and skill level. If this is new to you then you might want to take one step at at time, choosing a flat easy area, or at least an area that you are familiar with so there are not surprises for your first hiking in snow endeavor. Keep in mind Summer hikes and Winter hikes are very different. What might be an easy trek along a hill or mountainside is very different when it is a slippery slope. There is a lot more energy being expended between the two different seasons, and it takes far longer than you expect. Are there any streams, lakes, waterfall features that might be a concern? Are you in an area where there could be avalanche issues?

Safety Group

In Winter it is even more important to make sure that someone has your back. That is important anytime of year, but even more so when hiking in snow. It would be a good idea to hike with someone else if you can, although I certainly get that peaceful solitude of time alone on the trail. I don’t go anywhere without alerting my Safety Group even if I am with a group of experienced hikers. I still want that layer of safety of people I trust knowing where I am, what I expect to be doing, a map of my purposed outing, and the expected time of my finish and when I will be back in cell coverage.

Dress for Success in the Wilderness

What you wear is of dire importance, and should not be taken lightly. I invite you to review my article regarding the subject of layering: ‘Dress for Success in the Wilderness.’ To that thought I will add that when hiking in snow, as opposed to just cold weather hiking, you should consider waterproof hiking boots and possibly insulated winter boots. Boot gaiters can help keep snow out. Cool, wet feet are not only uncomfortable, but dangerous. Wool socks are good for anytime of year. Don’t forget your gloves and beanie.

What to Pack

The essentials that you would pack for a Summer day hike are also things that you will want to have for a hike in the Snow. One thing that could differ is your hydration system depending on just how cold it is. I use a camelback when hiking, but if the temperature is below freezing then the water in the tube could freeze. So you might consider bottled water or perhaps even the luxury of a thermos filled with a warm beverage.

  • Food (The act of digestion can add warmth. Also keep in mind you will be burning more calories hiking in snow due to more effort.)
  • Hydration System
  • Sunscreen (Higher Altitudes and Snow Reflection makes this essential.)
  • Sunglasses (The glare off the snow and ice is irritating)
  • Trekking Poles (The added stability is important)
  • Micro Spikes (They are helpful in the snow, but when traversing a mountainside they are absolutely crucial)
  • Head Lamp (Your trek will be longer than you think in the snow)
  • Gloves
  • Multi-tool and Knife
  • Emergency Whistle
  • Compass and Map
  • GPS Tracking (either on your phone or depending on what you are planning perhaps InReach Garmin Satellite Tracking)
  • Spare Battery (Keep electronics warm they could fail in cold weather, and the battery will drain quicker.)
  • Fire Starter (matches, lighter, flint)
  • Emergency Space Blanket
  • First Aid Kit

‘Hiking in Snow‘ can be exhilarating, but I have found that it is much harder, more energy is consumed, and it will take a lot longer than you think that it will. So start early, and especially with short Winter days, leave plenty of cushion between your expected finish and sundown. When the sun drops the temperatures will plummet, and an already hard to follow snow covered trail will be even more difficult. Another reason that GPS mapping is important in snow.

Make sure you are staying hydrated. In Summer with the heat you will feel that thirst, but in Winter by the time you are thirsty you could already be dehydrated, so make a conscience effort to drink more than you think that you need.

As far as the snow itself I have found the following concerns. In the morning when it is cold the snow is more apt to support your weight, be it on a trail that others tromped, or when you are forging virgin snow. Later in the day with the sun warming up the air and the snow, I found that I was sinking through the footprints. Earlier I was on top of the snow or sinking in only a few inches, later in the afternoon the snow was now going over my boots. Also keep in mind that snow can drift, especially around bushes or a fallen log. I might go from snow just over my boots to my knees or thighs. Skiers that cut through the trees are aware of the danger of tree wells, and the possibility of falling headfirst into such a well and becoming trapped. So if you are in a deep snow area beware.

 “Despite all I have seen and experienced, I still get the same simple thrill out of glimpsing a tiny patch of snow.” — Sir Edmund Hillary

I hope that this article gave you some ideas of how to plan for your ‘Hiking in the Snow’ adventure, so that you can go out and have a great experience while ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. Stay with me for more content of this nature by doing these simple things: LIKE, FOLLOW, COMMENT and SHARE.  For inspiration and ideas on where to adventure checkout the menu above. Keep in mind each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. A portion of this post concerned proper clothing. To look good, feel good and spread the joy of ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ checkout SHOP APPAREL for top quality adventure wear. 

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Dress For Success in the Wilderness

CLOTHING LAYERING SYSTEM FOR HIKERS/BACKPACKERS

Just as important as it is in the business world to dress for success in the workplace and job interviews, it is important to take seriously how you dress for an outing in the wilderness- be it hiking or backpacking and other outdoor activities in nature.  

This post will cover some basics to consider to keep you warm and comfortable for your trekking experience.  If you think it is fine to just head out wearing things that you do in your casual life, such as jeans and a t-shirt, when heading out into the backcountry then please think again.  In this post we will cover the basics of the Layering Strategy and briefly touch on the materials the clothing is made of, which is also important.  

Case in point.  Years ago… okay- maybe a couple decades ago, I learned the phrase “Cotton Kills”, from a professional guide that my Mother insisted I hire to backpack into the Grand Canyon.    

Previously I had only car camped while racing Hobie Cat Catamarans, and that means I was never far from help.  Help in the form of warm, dry clothes nearby, a vehicle I could warm up in or go for help.  Being at an organized sailing event there where people that could assist me if I got into trouble.  When you are heading out to explore away from aid you can’t afford mistakes.  So it is important to be knowledgeable.

I spent weeks exploring different areas in the Desert Southwest, as part of my mid-life crisis, lol.  The last hoorah was the Grand Canyon, the Grand Daddy of them all.  It was February so I experienced some weather dipping down into the teens where my water bottle froze at night.  I had been to a lot of spots and everything was going fine.  But my guide, (remember that my Mom made me get), refused to take me wearing jeans.  Jeans are made of cotton and “Cotton Kills”.  The problem with Cotton is it soaks up sweat and dries slowly.   Even perspiration can be dangerous as it can give you a chill and deplete your core temperature when the thermometer plummets during the night.  We were going into the Grand Canyon and there was a chance of snow at the higher elevation and rain at the lower, so getting wet was a possibility and that could lead to serious consequences. So, I was forced to purchase new gear at the Grand Canyon store- very touristy, not a lot of selection and certainly no bargains.  

Side note it turned out that the Grand Canyon was the tamest of any of the areas I had been in those weeks building up to this grand finale. I found the Grand Canyon to be less wild with wide safe trails that even had bathrooms every mile or two, donkey trains going by once in awhile, and an outpost at the bottom of the Canyon, but of course there was no getting around that it was still 5,000 vertical feet.  

So what are the advantages of layering your clothing when out on the trail?  Let’s say you had a tee-shirt and a heavy jacket.  Probably works fine at the beginning of the day.  However, as you hike your body warms up from the exertion and the sun warms the air temperature so you might need to shed your jacket.  Well, the problem may then be a tee-shirt is too cool- while the heavy jacket too hot, so now you are stuck.  By using the Layering Method you have options.  

Here are a couple examples of hikes were I was very happy to be dressed in layers:  Icehouse Canyon Trail to Timber Mt in the Angeles National Forest.  I was all bundled up at daybreak, but once the sun came up over the ridge and I started up the switchbacks I needed to start shedding.  When I got higher and into a little snow, I was more exposed as the wind started to howl near the ridge.   It was time to re-bundle.  Breaks are another time to add a layer if so desired.  Another spot where layering was essential: Hiking the Palmer Lake Fire Break.  It was near freezing when I started, but I now know why you see NFL players in short sleeves with snow on the ground.   They are working hard and are impervious to the cold because they are super heated.  As I worked my way up the steep incline in Washington State in late Fall, I was sweating even with snow on the ground.  I stripped down to short sleeves and remained that way until the end of the hike when the sun set behind the mountain and the temperature dropped to sub freezing.  At that point I started to layer up again.  So the point here is options are good.   

Using the Layering Strategy encompasses basically three layers.   The Base Layer, Middle Layer and the Outer Layer.  If you utilize this system correctly you will be warm, dry and comfortable, or at least comparatively so.  

The Base Layer is the layer that fits snuggly against your skin.  It should have moisture wicking properties.   This type of clothing,  underwear basically, can come in light, medium, and heavy depending on the time of year, weather conditions, if you are a warm or cold body heat type of person, and the exertion of the activity.   

The Middle Layer is the clothing with insulating properties that will hold in your body heat.  Just like the base layer it can come in different weights Light, Medium, or Heavy.  Usually thicker and more puffy equals more warmth.  

Fleece Jacket would be an example of a Middle Layer item of clothing.  Fleece dries quickly if it becomes damp and is breathable.  That is good to keep you from sweating too easily, but conversely it also means that bitting wind will go right through it.  (That is one reason for an Outer Layer.)  

Another Middle Layer item could be a Down Jacket.  Down is an excellent insulator found in nature.  It also has a great weight to warmth ration and is compact thus it does not take up as much room in your pack, all things that are important to a backpacker.  The drawback however, is it loses it’s warmth value if it gets wet.  

A Synthetic jacket is not quite as warm as down, nor does it compress into a pack as easy, but it doesn’t lose as much of that warmth value when it gets wet as Down does.  So there are trade-offs.  

The lower half of your body should be hiking pants that are rugged and made for the outdoors to protect you from the elements, but also brush.  I find it useful to have the hiking pants that the legs zip off when it gets hot.  Then for freezing conditions I have fleece lined hiking pants, but you could accomplish the same thing with long underwear under your hiking pants.  

The Outer Layer, in this system, is to shield from snow, wind, or rain.   A waterproof breathable jacket is on the high end of expense for excellent protection, second on the list would be water resistant which is fine for a light rain or windy, and the minimum would be an everyday wind breaker not breathable, but would block the wind and have some rain protection.  

So to sum this up the three layers of protection are quite useful to really dial in the correct temperature.  No matter if it is to keep you drier and more comfortable when you are sweating from the heat and just as important to keep you drier and warmer in cold conditions.  

I want to touch on UPF Protection which would be your base, and only layer, in hot weather, or in a little cooler temperatures it could be your Middle Layer.  I many times will have a ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ short sleeve moisture wicking high performance shirt underneath and then my PBTA long sleeve moisture wicking high performance shirt with UPF 50+ sun protection over it.  That way when I get hot later in the day I strip down to short sleeves to stay comfortable.  

Long Sleeve Moisture Wicking High Performance Shirt with UPF 50 Protection worn as a middle layer. Underneath I have a short Sleeve moisture wicking high performance shirt which was great for down in the canyon out of the wind. I have a beanie and face gator (around my neck) for added warmth and protection from the wind, and as a Cov-19 mask when I encounter other hikers. I have on fleece lined hiking pants, and a Down Jacket in my day pack.

UPF is similar to SPF other than UPF is a designation for sun protection in clothing, and SPF is for skin. It measures the amount of protection it provides against the harmful UV rays that can burn, or prematurely age skin, and helps prevent skin cancer.  To give you a frame of reference an everyday white tee-shirt has a UPF of 5.  As far as UV clothing protection goes UPF 15-20 is good, UPF 25-35 is very good, and 40-50 is excellent.  The sun gives us plenty of vitamin D which is important, but like everything else- in moderation.  People that should take the most care are fair skin, however dark completions can still get skin cancer.  Younger kids should have protection as damage at a young age can cause problems later in life.  Keep in mind that sun is stronger at higher elevations and reflections from snow or water are more intense.  Medication can also increase the risks of sun sensitivity even acne medicine, antibiotics, and inflammation inhibitors.  

A hat with a brim such as my ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure Caps keep the sun out off your face as well as out of your eyes, the rain off your face, but for added protection. You might consider the broad brimmed hats that go all the way around, or you could wear a PBTA Face Gator also useful to help prevent the spread of Cov-19.  Plus a lot of heat escapes from your head so a PBTA Beanie will add extra warmth.

I hope that you found this article informative and it started you thinking of how you can incorporate this practice into your adventures. Being more comfortable in your clothing certainly adds to the success when ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. For more articles to enhance your experience stay tuned by doing these simple tasks: LIKE, FOLLOW, COMMENT and SHARE. For inspiration and ideas on where to go checkout the menu above. Keep in mind each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. We spoke a lot about proper clothing. To look good, feel good and spread the joy of ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ checkout SHOP APPAREL for top quality adventure wear.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’

‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ what does that even mean? When I meet people out on the trail sometimes they enquire what kind of balance, like mental stability? I suppose that is part of it, but it’s not like I am a mental case, lol. It is really a philosophy, a mantra, a way of life. Well, let’s break it down word by word.

Pursuing– It is not about the destination, it’s the journey. Think of it this way, once you finally succeed in summiting that mountain top, or meeting that goal, it’s all over. You could jump up and down and pump your fist in the air, but then what you retire from hiking, peak bagging, and move on to something else? Bagging that peak, or meeting that goal might be success, but I am not sure that is fulfillment or true happiness. You can think of that mountain top as literal or just something that you are trying to conquer in your life. If it was only about the destination then that’s it your done, but I contend It is all about the journey, what you are going through, what it takes to succeed, the experience, the struggle. If it is about journey you are always striving to improve. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the experience.

Balance– We live in a busy, hurry up, do it now, hectic world. We feel stress from what is occurring in the world such as war, politics, the economy, all kinds of outside influences that there is very little that you can do anything about. We experience pressure from work deadlines, quotas, and goals that are purposely set to be just out of reach. As a student we have tension regarding homework, up coming tests, or essays. There is stress regarding bills, bills and more bills, and taxes, taxes, and more taxes. Dealing with family, while rewarding isn’t always easy with personalities differences, and what that person’s day might have been like. New families might have babies crying feed me, change me, and the lack of sleep that goes with that. What about teen hormones? While many times tough those teen years are all part of life. They will at some point need to breakaway and live their own life. Maybe you are feeling anxiety because of clashes with your spouse or boy or girl friend. Just trying to get ahead in the world is difficult and it is taxing just trying to making ends meet. What about friends? Disagreements, arguments, I mean it isn’t always smiles and laughter. This list can go on and on about pretty much every aspect of our lives. The point is this existence can be very tense and stressful, however we can’t let it take over our lives. This can’t be the only thing about our lives. All of these aspects are part of life, but we need to strive for more Balance. Everyone needs a break in the clouds, so the sun can shine through. We need to find more happiness to counterbalance the chaos.

Through– This is about that journey, be it literal- putting on those hiking boots and getting them a little dusty making your way along the trail, or philosophical- in moving from that place of tension and stress to what feeds your souls and sets you free.

Adventure– This blog is about adventure, all kinds of adventure: hiking, rock scrambling, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, canoeing, surfing, outrigger canoes, SUP, swimming, body surfing, skim boarding, scuba diving, 4×4, skiing, fishing, snowboarding and so forth and so on. (Admittedly I write mostly about the things first on the list, but adventure is the key, and there are lots of ways to adventure in nature.)

‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’- Exploring a counteracting force between work life & freeing one’s soul through exciting bold experiences in nature. PBTA is all about finding ourselves through wondrous experiences in the great outdoors, basically really enjoying the natural world around us through physical activity.

The goal is to de-stress, get up off of the couch, turn off the News, unplug from the world, put down the tablet, phone, get off the computer, take off the gaming headset and step into the jungle, forest, desert, canyon, lake, river, ocean, falls, waves, snow, and sand.

Breath that mountain fresh air, stretch those legs, use those muscles, by hitting the trail, taking a climb, pitching a tent, stomping through the snow, sheet in that mainsail and hike over the side of the gunnel, take off on that wave, swim in a waterfall, paddle through a rapid, or cast a rod.

Embrace that sunrise, sunset, or full moon rising over the ridge, enjoy stars so bright you can almost touch them. Take in a view that is the most beautiful thing you have ever encountered, until you turn to the left or the right or around in a circle. Checkout the herd of over 60 deer, watch that marmot scurry among the rocks, the chipmunk dart away, the eagles soar, that elk grazing, the hawk scream, encounter the bear right over your shoulder, the vulture circle overhead, hear the elephant seal bark, watch the falcon search for prey, the buffalo roam, harbor seal break the surface, Canadian geese take flight, the whale spout, the mountain goats nimbly climb the ledge, the dolphins leap, or fear the rattle snake at your feet.

Please also see the Adventure Blogger candid interview.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Sunny Pass Trail Mix

Part of hiking and backpacking is staying hydrated, taking necessary breaks and refueling. Here is a fun, delicious and nutritious snack that is not loaded with preservatives and fillers that you can make yourself. An added plus is when you make it yourself then you know exactly what is in it. ‘Sunny Pass Trail Mix’, a recipe from sister Peggy, gives you the power you need to push forward from Sunny Pass to Windy Peak.

Break Time on Sunny Pass. How about some trail mix?

Sunny Pass Trail Mix Ingredients List

  • 3 Cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1-1/2 Cups sliced almonds
  • 1 Cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons flax seeds
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 Cup of honey
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Sunny Pass Trail Mix Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss coconut, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds. salt, cinnamon and cardamom in a large mixing bowl.

Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl mixing throughly.

Heat honey, oil and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and easily pourable, about a minute (optional warming in microwave). Poor over mixture and stir to combine. Spread mixture evenly on a parchment paper and baking sheet, stirring once halfway through the baking process.

Spread mixture out over a oven pan lined with parchment.
Pop it in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes until golden brown.

The finished product should be a toasty golden-brown and crisp. The bake time should be approximately 25 minutes.

Golden Brown ‘Sunny Pass Trail Mix’. Just break into chunks and enjoy.

For more tips on Hiking and Backpacking you will want to stayed tuned to ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ Hiking and Backpacking 101. The best way to do this is to FOLLOW, COMMENT, LIKE and SHARE. For inspiration on places to adventure see the Menu above. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. For top quality adventure gear please see SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Altitude Sickness

  • High 8,000 – 12,000 Feet
  • Very High 12,000 – 18,000 Feet
  • Extreme 18,000+ Feet

About 40 % of hikers will experience Altitude Sickness above 10,000 Feet. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, (In fact one thing I read thought that a young person might be more susceptible), fit or not, (In fact one thing I read thought that a fit person might be more susceptible), male or female. If you have underlying health issues such as heart or lung problems than you can be more susceptible. If you have suffered from Altitude Sickness before than you are also more likely to get it again.

There are 3 types of Altitude Sickness each progressively more serious.

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the most common and the most mild of the three types. It is the one we will spend the most time discussing. AMS is caused by a rapid exposure to a low amount of oxygen at a high elevation.

Symptoms Could Include:

  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal Distress
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive Flatulence
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Pins and Needles Sensation
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Shortness of Breath Upon Exertion
  • Nose Bleed
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Rapid Pulse
  • Emotional
  • General Feeling of Malaise

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

Symptoms Could Include:

  • Same as AMS probably more intense with the addition of
  • Bronchitis
  • Shortness of Breath Even at Rest
  • Coughing Blood
  • Fever

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

Symptoms Could Include:

  • Same as AMS probably more intense and (HAPE) with the addition of
  • Confusion
  • Unsteady
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Retinal Hemorrhage

How to Avoid AMS

  • Don’t Go too High too Fast
  • Increase Altitude Slowly
  • Acclimatize
  • Over 10,000’ only add 1,000’/Day
  • Climb High, Sleep Low
  • Avoid Overexertion During Initial Days
  • Stay Adequately Hydrated
  • Carb Up
  • Avoid Coffee, Alcohol, and Tobacco

Mild Cases Might Find Comfort With

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetazolmide (Trade name Diamox)

DESCEND NOW!

  • Symptoms Worsen
  • Not Feeling Better After Vomiting
  • Cannot Walk a Straight Line

Disclaimer: If you are at high risk or climbing an extremely high mountain I would certainly suggest you read up on this topic and perhaps talk to a health professional. I am only providing a general review of things I have heard and read- not professional advice. Altitude Sickness seems to even be a bit of a mystery even to the health profession I might add.

I know all too well about Altitude Sickness as I feel it every time I am hiking above 10,000 Feet. While climbing Mount Langley over 14,000 Feet I was shocked and dismayed regarding what I was experiencing. I felt extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and something not right going on in my chest which I can’t really explain. Each step was an concerted effort and from 11,000 Feet to the last 100 yards to the summit I wasn’t sure I could make it. Of course it could have been worse as you can see from the list of symptoms.

If you found this article helpful then please LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and by all means SHARE so that we can get the word out as severe cases can be fatal. If you are looking for places to adventure then checkout the menu. If you need gear checkout SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trials-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Backpacking Water Filtering Systems

It is essential that you stay hydrated in any athletic endeavor and while backpacking in the backcountry, when you are really on your own, and away from a water faucet, it can be life or death.

While backpacking with a guide years ago to the bottom of the Grand Canyon I learned a simple trick to let you know if you are dehydrated. If you pinch the skin on the back of your hand and it does not immediately spring back to the shape it was before you pinched it, you are dehydrated. How long it takes for it to spring back to shape is an indication to how dehydrated you might be. Another means to discover your hydration level is urine color. If the urine is clear or light yellow in color you are fully hydrated. The darker it gets the less hydrated you are. There are multiple stages, but you should start becoming concerned with a darker yellow or amber color, this is unhealthy and your body needs water. Orange-yellow going into a brown urine color indicates that you are severely dehydrated and you are in need of medical attention.

At a later date I want to go more in depth regarding dehydration, but this post is an introduction to backpack water filtering systems and in particular four popular systems with which I am familiar.

When backpacking it is key to try and keep your weight down after all you have to carry that heavy back and the lighter it is the more enjoyable your experience. Water is one of the heaviest things you have to lug on your trek, but it is also one of the key elements to our existence, so it is kinda important. Most of my hikes are in arid areas so I have to pack in all of my water. It is a real treat when you are near a water source so that you can simply refill whenever the need arises, such as hiking along a lake, river or stream. Since not many of our sources are clean enough to just drink from you will need to be able to safely filter your drinking water. Which brings us to four popular systems that you might want to checkout.

Since as I explained, I am usually forced to carry all of my water, I wanted to keep my system simple, light, an inexpensive. I use the Katadyn BeFree backpack water filter system. It basically consists of a pliable bottle with a filter that screws into the top. I simply dunk the soft flexible bottle into the water source trying not to draw from the surface or the bottom and hopefully with as clean and clear a water as possible. Moving water is best, and fill the bottle. Then I screw on the lid that has a drinking spout and a filter on it. I can either suck on the water spout or squeeze the bottle‘s continents into my camel back and I am good to go. I have a liter of fresh clean drinking water.

My very experienced backpacking brother in law and sister rely on the Sawyer Mini water filtering system, which has worked great for them and it is well used between their many adventures and having readily available water sources in the Pacific Northwest. It is an essential part of their equipment. It is cheap, reliable, and the least expensive of the systems we are considering here. The Sawyer Mini comes with a little squeeze bag, and a syringe to back flush it as a method of cleaning the filter. One cool thing about it is the device can screw on to most single use plastic water bottles.

Kota displays the step up from the Sawyer Mini system: the 1 Gallon Gravity Fed Sawyer water filtering system which comes as a package. The scoop bag, which you fill with water and then gravity does the trick to slowly drip water through a tube and the mini filter system into the vessel of your choice. It also comes with the back flushing syringe.

The fourth device that I am mentioning is the Katadyn Hiker water filtering system. It is basically a tube with a float on it that sinks down to a level below the surface and you can set it so that it also doesn’t get near the bottom and pick up silt. You hand pump the water into a container or camel back. It is the most expensive of the systems we are speaking about. My experience was that it seemed fast, easy, and could pump quite a bit of water, but I do have to tell you that over the fews days of use it became more difficult to pump. I suppose that it was becoming clog with small particles of debris.

Now to compare these different devices. As far as price the Sawyer Mini was the least expensive. If you decided on the Sawyer 1 Gallon Gravity Fed system, which is basically the addition of the scoop bag and tube, it doubles the price which is the same price point as the Katadyn BeFree. The Katadyn Hiker is over three times the price of the Sawyer Mini.

They all got high markers for doing their jobs and that is providing safe drinking water. But the Katadyn BeFree stood apart from the rest as being the most simple to use, and easiest to clean. In the reviews I have read online it was only marked down for durability. Some users have experience leaking pin holes in the soft pliable bottle.

In Summation:

Katadyn BeFree

Pros: Easy and fast to use, lightweight and collapsible.

Cons: Lacks durability with the soft pliable bottle

Katadyn Hiker

Pros: Easy to pump, dependable system.

Cons: Must replace the filter when clogged, plastic pump not all that durable.

Sawyer Mini

Pros: Inexpensive, versatile, holds up well, and dependable.

Cons: Hard to squeeze or suck, the bag that comes with it is flimsy, and the filter clogs easily.

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure‘ Backpacking and Hiking 101 is an attempt to prepare you to be confident in the wilderness and enjoy what nature has to offer. If this post was helpful then please let me know with a LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Get some cool gear like the PBTA logo hat and face gaiter pictured at SHOP APPAREL. (The Face Gaiter came in handy soon after this picture was taken on the top of Mount Langley, my painful introduction to the 14,000’ Club, with choking smoke from the CA Fires). I invite you to peruse the Menu for inspiration and information about hikes throughout the many locations that PBTA travels to as we all are ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ from this crazy mixed up world. Respite in nature is so important for our psyche.

Note: I am not tied to any of the companies mentioned, and I am not receiving any compensation for this review. I sure wish I was because Adventure Blogging as a job doesn’t seem to pay or I am doing something incredibly wrong, lol.

Happy Trails,

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Setting Up A Tent

  • Avoid camping right on a trail, for the obvious privacy and enjoyment issues for you as well as other hikers, but keep in mind animals use the trail as well, and you don’t want to be surprised in the middle of the night.
  • Look for a flat spot or at least position your head on the slight uphill.  
  • Avoid low spots that could puddle especially if there is a chance of any rain
  • Avoid washes or other drainage areas in case of a flash flood
  • When camping near water keep in mind tides, or the possibility of the flow increase during inclement weather. 
  • Clear the area of rocks, sticks, pine cones, roots, not only would they be uncomfortable while trying to sleep, it could put a hole in the bottom of your tent.
  • Consider wind direction especially if there is a possibility of strong winds.  Look for wind breaks such brush, trees, a boulder, these things could be used to help anchor the tent as well.
  • Don’t Camp under old dead trees.  During a wind storm limbs or trees can come down. 
  • Camping under healthy trees could help provide cover, warmth during winter, and coolness by providing shade during the summer.
  • I like to set up the tent as one of the first things I do after picking a site.  That way there is plenty of light which makes things easier.  
  • A tent footprint can help protect the tent from rocks or sticks damaging the tent, but also help keep out moisture, as well as provide some insulation.
  • Consider where you place the entry.  Things to keep in mind: view, privacy, wind direction (place the opening down wind to stay warmer, upwind to stay cooler).
  • Staking the tent out does a couple things.  It makes the tent more secure if the wind comes up.  Makes the tent more taut and thus roomier, and provides better ventilation.
  • When staking out the tent the hook portion should be facing away from the tent, and it should be hammered down at an angle towards the tent. Use a large rock or stick as a hammer.  Try to get the tent peg all the way down so you don’t trip over it later.  If the ground is hard and you are near water try pouring some on the spot and letting it sit a couple minutes and try again.  
  • When breaking camp leave no trace, and be sure to inspect the area, don’t forget a tent stake or line.  
“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.” – Dave Barry

Backpacking 101 set out with a goal of getting you better prepared to get out into Nature and “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”. If you thought this post was worthwhile please let me know with a LIKE, COMMENT, if you can think of someone that can benefit from this article then by all means please SHARE, and FOLLOW. Need gear? There is top quality, high tech, performance PBTA apparel at SHOP APPAREL. In the menu above are places that PBTA has been that you might just want to put on your bucket or at least To Do list. Each site is separate and thus needs to be followed individually. Get out into Wild, stretch your muscles, fill your lungs with clean fresh air, embrace the warm kiss of the sun on your skin, let your mind wander along with the rest of you, and free your soul through profound experiences in the Wild. That is what “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ is all about.

See ya’ on the trail-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Foot Care

Doctoring Sore Blistered Feet on the Trail

The most common hiking injury is blisters on your feet. Blisters can really detract from the fun of hiking. Through Hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail will be the first to tell you of the importance of foot care.

I had a conversation with a Through Hiker on a mountain top just a few weeks after he had begun his long trek from Mexico to Canada. He told me that about a week into the venture all Through Hikers feet are a mess and they are suffering, but after that period of time the feet start adapting and start toughening up. He said that in his case his blisters became infected and he actually had to go to the hospital and his journey was set back a few days.

You probably heard the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That is very true when it comes to blisters putting a strain on your recreating. Unfortunately when you are out on the trail all you can really do is make it bearable to go on, because the only real cure is rest and time.

Prevention

  1. Proper Footwear– Quality hiking boots (some people like Trail Runners), with a good fit for your foot.
  2. Lace Up The Boots– Your footwear should be snug to reduce friction, but certainly should not be to the point of cutting off your circulation.
  3. Moisture Wicking Socks– Cotton is the most used material for clothing, but is not good for hiking. “Cotton Kills” applies to Wilderness and apparel. Cotton absorbs moisture, becomes heavy, and dries slowly. In cold weather it doesn’t have to be a fall in a stream, but even the sweat from exertion can cause rapid body temperature loss, and could lead to a life endangering situation. As it applies to foot blisters moisture increases friction on skin that is now softened by the wet socks.
  4. Break In Your Boots– Just like it is not a great idea to just take off on a strenuous and long hike without preparing and training your body for such an endeavor, the same goes for your boots. Wear them around for awhile, take a walk, get used to them.
  5. Break In Your Feet– Put some miles on your feet, do some training before you swing that heavy backpack over your shoulders.

Trail Doctoring

As I mentioned the only cure for sore blistered feet is rest and time, but there are somethings you can do to keep the situation from getting worse and so that you can continue your trek. First you should access the situation. Take a break, take off your socks and shoes and examine your feet. If it is only a hot spot then bandaids might do the trick, but if you have a full on blister than you might need to lance the blister with a sterile safety pin, scalpel or knife.

  1. Wash and dry throughly
  2. Lance blister with a sterile safety pin, scalpel or knife
  3. Carefully squeeze the fluid from the blister
  4. Apply antiseptic anointment such as Neosporin
  5. Put a bandaid over the blister
  6. Consider placing Moleskin over the bandaid. You would not want to put Moleskin directly on the blister as when if comes off so does the blister skin and that not only doesn’t feel pleasant, but could lead to infection.

Additional Thoughts

  1. Try taking breaks removing shoes and socks and letting your feet breath during the day. Take a breather, drop the pack, and massage and elevate your feet.
  2. Change your sweaty socks midway through the day.
  3. Dunk your hot, sore, tired feet in a nice cool mountain stream.
  4. Instead of lancing your blister, use Moleskin, but cut out the spot where your blister is thus building up the area around your blister and protecting it while giving the area a little cushioning. The added benefit is when the Moleskin is removed it’s not tearing the skin off of your wound.
  5. If you are just prone to blisters then plan ahead and put a bandaid on the problem area.
  6. I tried a product called Dr Scholl’s Blister Cushions, a blister repair clear thin bandage that sort of melded with my foot. I liked that the best for the bottom of my foot.
May your best miles be those covered by foot!

This has been another addition of Backpacking 101 with the goal of getting you better prepared to get out into the Wild and start “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”. If you enjoyed this post please let me know with a LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, and FOLLOW. Gear up with top quality, high tech, performance PBTA apparel at SHOP APPAREL. Above you will see a menu of some of the places that PBTA has been that you might just want to put on your own list. Each site is separate and thus needs to be followed individually. Get out into nature, stretch your legs, fill your lungs with clean fresh air, feel the warm sun on your face, clear your mind, and free your soul through profound experiences in the Wild. That is what “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ is all about. Until we meet again.

Happy Trails,

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

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