Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feeding America Fundraising Goal -- 50% There!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful winter vacation.  We are -- Christmas week is always an enjoyable stretch of time at our house.  My birthday falls on the 22nd, Alex's falls on the 28th (she's now eleven), and, of course, there's Christmas on the 25th.

This year, in the midst of all the celebrating, we had a lovely surprise.  We logged in to our Feeding America fundraising page and discovered we've already reached 50% of our goal.  To those who have donated -- thank you!  If you haven't already donated, please consider doing so in the next few days.  Your contributions are tax-deductible, so if you donate before January 1, you'll give yourself a slight break on your 2013 returns.  Every cent goes directly to Feeding America.

Our training continues in the form of our usual weekly mountain hiking.  You can follow our New Hampshire all-season peak adventures on our main blog,  The girls hike once a week and I usually hike twice a week.  Once we have our JMT permits secured, I'll begin posting more JMT-specific info (gear, resupply plans, etc.) on this JMT-specific webpage.  Also, once spring arrives, the girls will increase their NH mountain hiking to two or three days a week, and I'll increase mine to three or four days a week.

Ascending Mt. Jackson (NH), December 23, 2013.
Here's hoping for a fun 2013-2014 winter hiking season! 

Happy New Year, folks.  I'll post again next week.  In the meantime, please consider donating to Feeding America, and come join us on our main blog,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Permits and Training Hikes

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.  The girls and I traveled up and down the East Coast visiting relatives and playing tourist at various cities.  We're finally back in New Hampshire.  Our weekly White Mountain hikes will resume this month; trip reports will be posted on our main blog,

I can't post much in the way of readying ourselves for the JMT until I secure our permits.  We can't secure our permits until 24 weeks before our intended departure date.  Everybody and their brother wants to hike the JMT during the same weeks we want to hike it, so I'm a bit nervous about being able to reserve those permits...once those permits are indeed secured, I can relax and move forward with all the other planning details.  Therefore, almost all the prep posts for this trip will be written after February 2014.  The superstitious part of me worries I'll jinx everything if I write any prep posts before those permits are set in stone.

One thing I can say is that we'll continue to hike the Whites from now until the time we leave for California.  I call those little adventures "training hikes," but really, they're just our usual weekly mountain hikes.  As mentioned above, you can see the trip reports for our White Mountain hikes at

Don't forget about Feeding America!  At the end of this month, we'll have reached about 30% of our goal.  Once our permits our secured, I'll start getting more aggressive with my fundraising pitches.  :)  You can still donate in the meantime, though!

Happy hiking,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wenk and Morey's Guide

The girls and I took a seven mile walk to Dunkin Donuts and back last Friday instead of hiking a mountain.  We had house maintenance stuff going on that day and needed to stay close to home.  Happy to say we only took three hours for our jaunt -- that includes a long fritter break and lounging at a nearby dam.  We averaged 3 miles an hour on hilly roads at what felt to us like a casual pace.  Looking forward to getting back into the now-snowy mountains with the girls on the 22nd.

I am studying John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail by Elizabeth Wenk with Kathy Morey.  This book is a fantastic resource.  I'm in the process of creating a trail itinerary I think the girls can happily handle.  Of course, once we're out there, we'll do whatever works in the moment and throw the itinerary out the window...but still, it's good to have a decent of idea of what to expect.

Even though our JMT hike isn't for another nine or ten months, you can still donate to Feeding America today.  Your contribution is tax deductible, and every penny goes to the virtual food drive.  Click on the Feeding America link at the top of this page to help families in need.

More next week, after the girls and I hike some peaks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Resupply Issues

Still wondering how to best deal with the southern half of the JMT.  We plan to stop and resupply at Muir Ranch...then there are no more easy resupply options for the rest of the trip.  There's over a hundred miles between Muir Ranch and our Whitney exit, and I cannot carry 8-10 days worth of food for three people.  If I was going solo, there wouldn't be any problem, but I'm not going solo...and my daughters can't carry 8-10 days worth of food each.  Well, maybe they can, but I don't think they'd enjoy the experience if they did.

There seem to be three options.  One, hire someone to bring your food to you on the trail.  That option is expensive, and it probably requires being very specific with our timing.  Two, we can hike down to the Onion Valley trailhead and hitch a ride to the nearest town.  That option means getting off the trail for a couple of days and walking over 16 extra miles.  Three, we can suck it up, take on some extra weight (with me carrying most of the burden) and attempt to do the rest of the trail in seven days instead of 8-10.  That option probably isn't the safest move, though.  We could always try it, but then do the Onion Valley trailhead thing if we found we couldn't go as fast as we wanted and/or we were running out of food.

I'm fairly certain we'll easily be able to average at least ten miles a day.  The girls are strong hikers and we're used to the steep and rough terrain of the Whites, so I don't anticipate having any problems with the trail itself.  The altitude, however, is a bit of an X factor.  The girls have done well with their high-altitude highpointing thus far, though, so I think we'll be fine with proper acclimatization.  We didn't feel the altitude at all and the girls hiked two and a half miles an hour on our last highpointing trip (Kings Peak in Utah),  hence my optimism.  Still, I don't want to count on being able to handle the southern half without resupply, so I've got a lot of thinking to do.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blogs and Yahoo Groups

Haven't bought any more gear yet.  I plan to purchase ultralight sleeping bags for the three of us after the New Year.  Those things are expensive, so I need to save up.  I don't mind spending the money, since I/we will use the bags over the coming years (assuming the bags survive the JMT).

I continue to worry about my backpack weight.  Carrying food for three people for days on end will be a challenge.  I have to go ultra-ultra-light to make this trip work.  The girls should be fine, since they won't be carrying anything more than what they already carried on the Camino.

Someone directed me to Heather and Sierra's PCT blog.  Heather (aka "Mama Bear") is mom to nine-year-old Sierra (aka "Monkey") -- I plan to read through their JMT section carefully and note their gear.  I have to say, it was refreshing to find their site -- besides me and the girls, I didn't know of any other mom-young daughter(s) hiking teams.  We need more moms and daughters out there!

A friend put me in touch with the moderator of a JMT Yahoo Group.  I'll join that group this week and start perusing the current and archived posts.

I guess you could say the next couple of months will be all about information gathering.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gear -- Bear Canister, Tent, and Guidebook

***Many thanks to Gail Smith for her recent donation to our Feeding America virtual food drive!  We are almost 20% to our goal of $2104.  Help feed Americans in need -- every cent you donate goes directly to Feeding America!  ***

We've settled on our bear canister -- the ultralight Expedition from Wild Ideas.  This should hold three or four days of food for me and the girls.  It's on the pricey side, but it's the lightest approved canister on the market, and I know I'll use it on my own when I eventually thru-hike some or all of the National Scenic Trails (that's a long-term goal of mine and fodder for a different post).

Our tent will be the Tarptent Rainshadow 2.

Our guidebook -- Elizabeth Wenk and Kathy Morey's John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail.

More later...

Friday, October 4, 2013

JMT 2014, Feeding America, and The Clymb

It’s October already!  Time to start gathering gear for our next long-distance adventure, the John Muir Trail in 2014!

First…let the fundraising for Feeding America officially begin!

Last March and April, the girls and I walked the 500-mile Camino Frances route of Spain’s Camino de Santiago to raise $10,000 for Global Fund for Women and GirlVentures, two female-empowering, nonprofit organizations.  For the John Muir Trail in 2014, we’re turning our focus to poverty in America.  Specifically, we want to help obtain groceries for families in need.  

This is where you come in.  From now until the end of our thru-hike (September 2014), you can contribute to our virtual food drive.  Donate directly to our page on Feeding America’s website.  Whatever you can afford will be great -- every cent helps!  Our fundraising goal is $2200 – that’s roughly ten dollars for every mile of the John Muir Trail.  $2200 is enough money to buy 17,600 meals!

Gear Gathering

This is going to be a long trek…and guess who’ll be carrying almost all the food?  You guessed it – Mama (me).  The girls are old enough and strong enough to carry everything else they’ll need, but I’ll have to shoulder all the food weight.  Since we can only resupply a few times during our thru-hike, I will sometimes have to carry five+ days of food for three people.  Since I can’t get around the necessity of carrying a lot of food, I’ll have to shave pounds off our gear.  This means replacing almost everything we now own with ultra-light versions of…well, everything.  I’ll also need new hiking shoes, and the girls will need new shoes and clothes (kids grow too quickly!). This is where The Clymb comes in.  There’s no way I can afford to pay full price for every piece of clothing and gear we need to buy.  Thankfully, The Clymb offers top quality, name-brand gear for insanely discounted prices.  For example, they’ve got a Lafuma sleeping bag on sale right now for $64.98 (the regular price is $120)—that’s the same brand the girls and I have used on every camping trip we’ve ever taken.  That’s over five years of backwoods camping – plus, we recently used our Lafumas on the Camino.  Good stuff.  Another example –  footwear.  The trail runners I used on the Camino are (understandably) falling apart, so I’m about to purchase the boots I’ll use on the John Muir Trail.  The Clymb has the same stuff I’d get at REI, EMS, or Lahouts…but at, it’s all 40-80% off the usual price.  Merrells, Vasques, Garmont, Keen – the inventory is excellent.  I currently have my eye on the Hanwag GTX, but I’ll let you know what I eventually decide to buy.

So…over the next few months, I’ll be purchasing upgraded gear for me and the girls.  I’ll get what I can at first (why pay full price if you don’t have to?) – what The Clymb doesn’t have (ultralight tents, for example), I’ll purchase elsewhere.  Stay tuned – I’ll start posting the details of our gear list next week.  In the meantime, donate what you can to Feeding America!  

Monday, July 1, 2013


This website is dedicated to our 2014 John Muir Trail adventure.  We are hiking to raise $2104 for Feeding America.  Visit our virtual food drive page to make a tax-deductible donation.

We'll have this site fully up and running by October 4, 2013.  In the meantime, visit us at our main website,