Preparation: How to Win at Hiking part 1

At Home in Nature

Isn’t it ironic that I drove 72 miles through Dallas traffic to take a hiking class? But REI has my heart with all their free classes and amazing knowledge and gear.  I am hungry to learn all the skills to do thru-hikes, so I registered for a Women’s Lightweight Backpacking Basics class.

Someone asked Liz, our Instructor, what her trail name is. She lowered her head, blushed a bit and smiled. She looked back up at the eagerly awaiting class and began the story behind “Trampy.” Apparently it has a less American trashy and more UK hike-y connotation, which is where the couple that gave her the nickname is from.

They considered her a beast, a force of nature on the trails, so… “Trampy.”

On the hour and a half drive home from Dallas, I daydreamed about who I will meet along the trails and who will give me a trail name and what will it be? Something cool I hope… like Flower Child Running or Super Woman. But it will probably be something like Klutzy Carrie or She-Who-Overpacks. After hearing all the places Liz has been… the PCT, the AT, the Mojave Desert, Big Bend… I thought hers should have been Mrs. President or Legend or something more dramatic than Trampy because what an inspiration she is!

I have to reign in my impatience, continue with classes at REI (more Dallas driving… ugh) and practice on day hikes until I’m ready. Part of that preparation is the need to change some habits like drinking more water, upping the endurance training, and getting fitted for and purchasing a proper backpack and the 10 Essentials to fill it with around 35 lbs. As much as I adore the pack gifted to me by my Aunt, it is not fit for my body type and is causing fatigue. Five miles a day on a thru-hike isn’t going to get me a cool trail name! Also my coffee drinking will have to be cut way back, which I hope I can get away with instead of totally quitting because it is something I enjoy VERY much. So I intend to start drinking the amount of water I’m supposed to be drinking daily (at least 1/2 of body weight on non-workout days) and having only a small cup when I wake up… AFTER a glass of water. And cleaner eating with less sodium. All least I think I need less sodium, not so sure after reading this article on trail nutrition.  I’m so grateful to have found it, because I’ve REALLY been struggling in that area because I hadn’t come across info on how to eat on the trail! So I’ll be off soon to try out the 50/35/15 fat/carb/protein ratio suggested by Brenda L Braaten and adjust accordingly. I may not need to alter my sodium intake, but I do need the endurance to earn that rockin’ trail name!

I hope it’s not “Princess something-or-other.” My need for “luxury items” such as toilet paper and deodorant and cameras and cute clothes for Instagram pictures and edible wild plants and medicinal herbs books is pretty strong. Liz told us all about how toilet paper is for poops not pees on the Trail and handed out dandy pee rags/bandannas to the class! Thanks REI! And I used to frown at my Mom’s resourcefulness of cut up old t-shirts for wiping! Shame on me. In my defense, I was a different person then.

But learning to pack light will be a minor inconvenience compared to the places and the magic I’ll experience.  And I DO always love a challenge!  I’ll gladly trade in changes of underwear for waterfalls and mountaintops and campfire gatherings with great folks.

I’m not leaving without my camera and leather-bound Journal though! What would you give up to be a Force of Nature? What could you not leave behind?

Are you ready to take a hike?




How to Create a Life You’re Proud Of

Armadillo Hill Trailhead - Eisenhower State Park

I never imagined that I was someone who could run a 5k or snow ski or kayak. Those were things other people did. People of a higher class… which included pretty much everyone as far as I knew. People that could run without stopping. Like it was a natural born ability, like Forest Gump. I never considered that skiing, running or paddling is a challenge to everyone of every class and race. I couldn’t see the forest because the trees were me… someone who operated most of my life in survival mode instead of enjoy life mode. Oh, I camped and took road trips to toobing or canoeing with family whenever possible, but my jobs had a stronghold on the frequency. Once, twice a year sometimes. Not enough to cure my anxiety. Growing up in the woods made me want more time in nature where I feel at home.

A few years ago, my cousin suggested that I start a Hiking Meetup Group because there’s some great trails in my area, but there wasn’t any active hiking groups.  Life got busy. Or maybe it was that I let myself slide and gained some fatigue and depression around the waist and imagined huffing and puffing up a hill on a trail.  So I forgot about it for a while until something showed me recently that I am good enough, I am strong enough, to strengthen my hiking abilities all the way to the Camino de Santiago.

Camp Gladiator paved the way to two 5k’s. Had a colleague not stayed on me to join Camp Gladiator, and had my stubborn pride not urged me to go back after having to leave the first workout I attended after 20 minutes, I would still be here staring at my vision board and dreaming of long, rewarding hikes and running across finish lines instead of actually doing it. But, where’s all the other outdoor adventure loving folks at?

Apparently Emily Downing has the same problem. “A common grievance I hear as the managing editor at  Outdoor Women’s Alliance is from women who don’t know where to find these adventurous ladies. Women are seeking community in the outdoors.” Which is why I started a hiking group.

I hope to help others get fit while connecting with nature and themselves.  Haley Littleton writes, “If we provide [others] with fearless and supportive communities, the possibilities are limitless. We nudge each other toward risk and failure, providing strategies and beta, and remind each other that we will be loved and accepted regardless of whether we are perfect. Sow bravery.” We light a path (pun intended) to vitality and vibrance. I want to teach those who are new to hiking and to learn from those who are experienced at it. I want us to laugh and sing out of tune while we huff and puff up a mountain.

Please join me on my midlife Journey of preparation to hiking the Camino de Santiago. 2020 is my goal. For now, I’ll be taking classes at REI and hiking as much as possible. My Facebook group is local, but I plan to hike in the surrounding states as well. The Pacific Northwest is calling to me, as is our National Parks. But one step at a time! First, to do more than 5-miles. I think I’ll start packing my nice leather-bound journal to refer to for intriguing blogging content. Here’s from the 5-mile I did at Cross Timbers…


I’m starting slow. Noooooo, it’s not because I’m 48, it’s because I’m progressing each time I go. I’m building onto the previous layer with experience and testing myself and equipment and how many miles per hour including stopping for a plethora of photo and video ops. Oh, and figuring out my GoPro… is it just mine, or is that thing a cantankerous devil?

So here’s what I learned from my 1st longish hike (5 miles) on the Cross Timbers…


  • Pack Off (or find effective alternative) and use it before entering the trailhead. Mosquitos and gnats were out but not too awful. I did get 2 ticks however.


  • Purchase a portable phone charger. I use my phone a LOT for tracking, photos, video and connecting to my GoPro so it came real close to dying! I turn on the battery saver feature which helps a lot though.


  • The up to 14% incline section from Juniper point to Cedar Bayou and back is comparable to a Camp Gladiator workout. Calves were sore for 2 days.


  • I drank almost 4 20-oz bottles so I’m taking 5 this time. Freeze 2 to keep others cold and refreshing. Research backpacking tents… can I strap one onto current backpack?

What is it that makes you feel alive? What steps are you going to take to design your life around that?

Creating a Life I Love
Trail Selfie

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