hike like a woman
Volume 2: August 2017
Fun and full. Just like your day.
Our hiking backpacks are durable, comfortable, and have a smart design for organizing your gear. These short trekking backpacks are custom-ordered when you buy them – and adjustable during use – to perfectly fit your body and your gear. So just put all your concerns behind you and enjoy the day ahead.
A COMMUNITY OF OUTDOOR WOMEN
FROM THE TRAIL
10 THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT HIKE LIKE A WOMAN
Page 1: Gretchen: The Calm Badass by Lorna Radcliff (Cover Girl)
Page 4: Gear Review: Osprey Daylite Backpack by Annie Copeland
Page 5: Trusting Your Gut In The Backcountry by April McPherson
Page 6: Recipe: Southwest Quinoa Mashup by Heidi Schertz
Page 7: A Week In Dark Canyon by Meg Kent
Page 9: Book Review by Liesl Magnus-"Walking to Listen" by Andrew Forsthrefel
Page 10: Run To The Rocks by Kathryn Petroff
Page 12: Gear Review: Hiker's Brew Coffee by Mandy Gage
Page 13: Searching for Community by Amanda Mills
Page 14: Recipe: Beef Jerky by Lucy Haskins
Page 15: Me and A Dog Called Zoey by Magretha PalePale
Page 18: Gear Review: REI Co-op Flash Women's Sleeping Bag
Page 19: Digging Deep In The Himalaya by Meg Atteberry
Page 21: Gear Review: MHM Switch Backpack by Deirdre Rosenberg
Page 23: Field Journal by Rebecca Walsh
Our Recover women's tees come in a variety of colors and printed designs. All of our eco-friendly women's t-shirts are made from 100% recycled materials. Learn more about our process here.
Gretchen the calm badass
Our eco-friendly process results in:
-35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
-66% reduction in energy consumption
--55% reduction in water consumption
8 plastic bottles = 1 shirt!
Gretchen hikes to feel centered, grounded and to seek peaceful empowerment.....
Along the trail, she admits to snacking on the average snacks: nuts, fruit, chocolate and whiskey. She self-defines herself with three words…each year as a New Year’s Resolution. This year those words are: ridiculousness, playful and joy. She is definitely living those three words and breaking the mold of average!
Raised in New York, Gretchen started actively hiking after her move to Colorado. Nothing like scaring her mom by letting her know, not only is her daughter thousands of miles away, but solo hiking to boot! Gretchen has learned to share her trail experiences with her Mom post-hike, rather than making her mom worry.
She made her next move to New Mexico to land her dream job as a Certified Child Life Specialist in the oncology section. Her move didn’t derail her passion for hiking, in fact she found herself exploring this new and scenic area. She is currently in grad school, half way through her MS Child Life degree from Bank Street College. Yes, work and college, yet she squeezes in time to escape.
For Gretchen, hiking is not about getting from point A to point B. She seeks the whole sensory process between start and finish. Speed is not a priority to her, in fact hiking for her is all about finding her calm, badass self along the trail. Space, time to reset and meditate is what she yeans for.
Gretchen’s car stays packed and ready for her mobile living on her adventures. When she was traveling through Colorado last year to attend a training, she pushed the pause button in Leadville. She hit a trail that took her through mostly alpine forested land with a scenic lake and a majestic mountain view. It was National Trails Day and she was excited to be out on the trail. Hiking alone was nothing new to Gretchen. She actually preferred solo hiking in order to clear her mind. A few groups came along and chatted with Gretchen. Some of the people in the groups were dismayed by her solo quest.
“I know I can stay positive and tackle each mountain head-on, because that's what my patients do every single day & in every single way!”
Gretchen professed that she is just an average woman, not a hiker like you see in magazines. She laughed at her own statement, she is now the cover girl on the HLAW magazine!
by Lorna Radcliff
"Today, I decided that no matter what, I was going for a hike."
"Gretchen is someone I'd like to be when I grow up."
those little ones are fighting. She is such a bright spot in their day. After we parted, I thanked God for people like her.”
Suzi and Gretchen hiked Little Horse Trail together in Sedona, AZ and Suzi provided Gretchen some great insider tips for hiking Boynton Canyon Vortex; specifically, for timing it just right to meet Robert, the magical Reiki flute player, who plays at the top of the vortex each day at 10:30 AM. Gretchen describes the Boynton Canyon Vortex location as where she experienced her most magical meditation possible. For those that have experienced their aha moment on the trail, this was Gretchen’s.
That is the cool thing about Gretchen. She is out there living life, feeling the emotions and being that classy, calm badass! I don’t know what three words she will self-define herself as next year, but I hope she shares it with us or allows us to guess half way through the year!
They tried to take her into their hike, but she reassured them she was fine. By the time she had arrived back to her vehicle she was frustrated. Her calm was squashed!
Her acceptance with solo hiking had not just been questioned, it had been ridiculed. Why? That’s when her next real adventure started!
Gretchen signed on the Hike Like A Woman Facebook page, seeking some positive motivation on hiking. That is when she saw it, Become an Ambassador Applications were being accepted. Hmmmm, was this her chance to be a voice for women? Was this her chance to show that women can solo hike and enjoy their own peaceful experience. That is exactly what she found herself committed to do. She filled out the application and waited. The official word came from Rebecca. “When I first found out I was accepted I think I felt a sense of grateful unworthiness, like I was so thankful for this unique opportunity, but then suddenly also felt like I couldn't possibly come close to fitting in with the amazing adventurers of the rest of our group,” Gretchen tries to explain. “As it turns out, the HLAW Ambassador tribe is made up of women from all different walks of life and adventure backgrounds, and by some kind of magic, we all seem to "fit" together quite remarkably. I feel like I still felt quite insecure for the first few months of serving as an Ambassador, but then as I became more and more comfortable on the trail, gaining confidence in that arena, the rest of my general life insecurities lifted as well. And not just in terms of HLAW; this experience has allowed me to become so much more open to pursuing other opportunities and connections that I never would have before too. I have been so entirely transformed from that initial reaction moment of self doubt last summer, and I will be forever grateful to Rebecca for bringing this chance into my life!”
“Gretchen is a huge asset to our team. What stood out to me about her was her positive energy, zest for life, and the fact that she works with children who are coping with cancer. It takes a big heart to do her work, I didn’t care so much about her hiking experience. I was drawn to Gretchen because of her heart,” said Rebecca.
Gretchen wanted to start voicing her beliefs about hiking. She wanted to share the beauty that she sees when she is hiking. Gretchen wanted people to see more than the just the Maroon Bells of this world, she wanted them to separate themselves from the crowds, turn around and see the beauty of our lands.
Simultaneously, Gretchen had also been reading posts about the 52 Hike Challenge. The challenge inspires everyone to take a personal journey to discover the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits gained through hiking once a week for an entire year. This was perfect for Gretchen. Miles, faster hike times and other group challenges were not her style. This challenge though, it was about the journey between point A and point B; this is exactly what she was all about!
Committed to the challenge, Gretchen started her own blog to serve as a diary of her hikes. Adventures in Oneyearland was created! In one of her posts, Gretchen wrote “…beauty doesn’t stop existing when things get challenging, it’s always available to us, if we chose to tune into it.” For #teamHLAW, those who follow her and got to know her, discovered that when you tune into Gretchen, you experience what she does. Her beauty, that kindness that resonates from within her, touched us. You don’t talk with Gretchen without smiling and laughing. She has a bubbly personality that is infectious.
Gretchen got to meet up with HLAW Ambassadors Jill Dunbar and Jennifer Hewitt as well as HLAW Contributor Suzi Minor. Jill revealed that “Gretchen is someone I'd like to be like when I grow up.” Seriously, she went on to say, “The moment she got out of her car, I instantly liked her. She's so easy to talk to and she's full of energy. Her eyes sparkled when she told me stories about her job. She also made me tear up when she described some of the battles.
I commented to her Facebook post in January, “You are such an inspiration. You have me seriously considering the 52 Hike Challenge because I really liked seeing your photos and how in each one you seem happier and braver.
Another thing that I noticed from following Gretchen’s blog, and I had to put her on the hot seat about it, was her scarves. She explained that when she wants to go into a store or restaurant and she has been out hiking a trail, has dirt or clay packed on her clothes, all sweaty and stinky; the scarf makes up for it. A classy layer that disguises all of it.
I was lost... I had hiked several hours the previous day and within the first two hours of the following morning, I found myself anxious, alone, and anything but still. My breathing picked up, my heart pounded like a kick drum; I felt it in my chest and it pulsed within my head.
While I may not consider myself an avid backpacker (although I’m working on this!), I have always felt comfortable with hiking and have never lost trail. My solo backpacking trips are challenging of course but never too challenging; once my feet hit the trail I feel oddly comfortable. But this time it was not just a physical thing. My feet had lost their direction and while head was doing it's best to keep level, I felt defeated. I felt defeated for all my planning and organizing seemed non-existent in this moment. For a moment, I doubted myself and this trip and if I were even capable of reaching the end of my trail.
The trail into the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness, located in Southern Utah’s Dixie National Forest is a semi-popular full day hike, or as I prefer to really take it in, a single night backpacking trip. It was late summer when I decided to take on this trek, which starts at about 10,500 ft. at the Rattlesnake Creek Trailhead just outside of Cedar Breaks National Monument and drops over 3,000 ft. over the course of 11.5 miles. You start off meandering through high alpine wilderness before you reach a surreal lookout of Cedar Breaks. Just a couple minutes spent here reminds you of how small you are in comparison to what you’re about to embark on. Shortly after this, the trail heads down, down, and down some more. The forested area of pines turn to aspens which then lead out to the vast meadow of Stud Flat. Yet another chance to take a few deep breaths and realize our miniscule size among nature.
Once through the meadow the trail then meanders down into the top portion of the gorge where you find yourself ankle-deep or so in water. A bit off trail here is where you will find some nice flat designated areas to camp and let the distant creek sing you to sleep. The beginning of the next morning is where I had actually lost trail, and so I must advise here to be extra attentive, triple check your map or gps, and really trust your gut. While I’m not ashamed to admit getting lost, I must say that trusting my gut is the only thing that got me back on route. Our bodies seem to have this subconscious or innate ability to let us know; quite amazing really! Continuing on the (correct!) trail, you will steadily climb your way atop the gorge which becomes visible in less than a mile or so when your view opens up and you get a peek down into the Ashdown Gorge and the last section of your trip. The trail continues steadily down until you find yourself in the creek once again. The last 3.5 or so miles of this trip will be trekking through water, over fallen trees, and between limestone walls reaching 600 ft. in height. Unfortunately for me, this portion of the trip was a little rushed because of my mishap of
losing the trail earlier, however, you will really want to immerse yourself here. Let every splashy step through the creek be nature’s playground for you to really enjoy this last leg of your journey. As mentioned earlier, I find no shame in admitting getting lost or losing the trail. For me this (and all my hikes, solo or not) are journeys, and each one unique. Whether I strengthen my route-finding skills, try a new backpacking recipe, or simply learn to trust my gut more often, every trip is one worth taking in and remembering.
osprey daylite backback
by annie copeland
I’ve never owned a backpack for hiking purposes so when I was selected to be an Ambassador and knew I’d be hitting the trail more, I wanted one. I could also see where I needed one, trying to carry one or two bottles of water on a Summer hike wasn’t cutting it. I also like to be more prepared than just a couple bottles of water, even on a day hike. Problem is to be prepared you need somewhere to carry supplies, enter again the need for a backpack.
I tapped the resource of knowledge that comes with being a Hike Like A Woman Ambassador, my fellow Ambassadors! There were many recommendations and preferences to sort through so I could reach a decision that suited me. My final decision came down to something pretty simple really, a good sale price on a good brand name, Osprey Daylite with 13L of storage room.
I’ve had my pack about 8 months, trekking with my Osprey in places such as the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee to the RUGGED Ozarks of Southern Illinois where I took a fall on the trail this past Winter. I may have been a little bruised but my Osprey survived unscathed. Early on during it’s use one of the zipper pulls became frayed from zipping and unzipping while next to the teeth of the zipper. All I did was send Osprey a little description of the issue with a picture and in less than a week a new pull was on my doorstep! I made a mental note to be a little more mindful when zipping/unzipping the pack and haven’t had another issue.
I love the separate space for my water bladder and the durable water resistant material the pack is made from. The material makes it a snap to clean up the pack after a day out on the trail not to mention it repels water which thankfully I have not tested. I’m also in love with the smaller front pouch on this pack. There are a couple of small pockets in which to slide your compass, first aid kit, etc into for safe, easy storage.
My only real critique for this pack is the main compartment is broken down into two sections, which isn’t a bad idea but I wish Osprey had added some smaller pockets into.
trusting your gut in the backcountry
by april mcpherson
A WEEK IN DARK CANYON
1 cup tri color quinoa (rinsed)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of red pepper flakes (could easily substitute with ancho chilies or smoked chipotles)
1 cup canned black beans
2 cups stock (mushroom, chicken or beef)
½ cup frozen corn
Salt & Pepper
1 cup of your favorite salsa
2-3 peppers chopped
Nutritional Yeast/ Shelf stable cheese (like Babybel)/ Trader Joe’s Baked Cheese Crumbles)
Saute olive oil, onion and celery until onions are caramelizing
Add garlic and lightly brown
Add tomatoes and simmer down for about 5 minutes
Toss in oregano, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, black beans, quinoa, corn, and stock
Bring to a boil
Turn heat down low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. You want the quinoa to really open up. Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 F
Spread chopped peppers, salsa and quinoa mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes. Your goal is to have all the extra liquid to be absorbed. Let cool completely.
The next steps involve a little trial and error. Using a measuring cup, I spoon out portions that are 2 cups each.
Each portion gets its own tray in the dehydrator (I line each tray with parchment in case the mixture is a bit drippy)
Dehydrate 10-12 hours
Place your dried portions into a quart freezer bag and label with recipe name and how much water to add:
Wet weight - Dry weight= amount of water to add.
Boil your water
Add to Freezer bag, top with your choice of cheese and place inside an insulating cozy
Wait 15 minutes and enjoy
by Heidi Schertz
Just eight miles into a 5-day backpacking trip, as rain turned to heavy, wet snow, I couldn’t help but feel I’d been tricked somewhere along the way.
Since I started college, I’ve made an annual pilgrimage with my ski team to the canyons of Utah and southern Colorado, taking a week off between school and work to enjoy the company of friends and the warmth of the desert. We’d dip into a canyon exhausted by the school year, and come out the other side tanned, happy and dirty. This year, many of us graduated so I knew it would likely be the last canyoneering trip with everyone together. As I prepared for this final trip, venturing into the mysterious and unknown “Dark Canyon” with seven of the most adventurous women I know, I expected it to be different from all the past years. I wasn’t prepared for just how much.
As I packed for the trip, I cut the weight of my pack every way I could. I left behind my usual plethora of warm clothing, packing just one of each layer: one t-shirt, one long-sleeve, one warm jacket. One pair of shorts, leggings, pants and running shoes. With my tent-mate Sierra, I debated ditching the tent and sleeping under the stars to cut more weight. If past years were any indicator, I wasn’t going to need much to stay warm.
Just one day into the trip, hiding in my sleeping bag with all my warm clothing soaked as the snow continued to dump outside my tent, I thought I was sunk.
It doesn’t snow in the desert, or so I was told...
by MEG KENT
book review by Liesl Magnus:
rivals paradise with its deep slot canyons, plentiful pools and running spring. Far removed from the male gaze, we all felt comfortable to dip in the pools and bake on the sand bars. When we reached the final day and topped the 1200 foot ascent out of the canyon at Sundance trailhead, we emerged from the canyon tanned, dirty and ready to take on whatever life would throw at us next.
A few pages here and there, one human story at a time, while the stories carry you and whisper in your ear throughout the day to be kind, to be open, and to be trusting.
This is also not a book that you hand to someone with exuberance. You do not shove the book into someone's hand with an exclamation of "I just LOVED this book, you HAVE to read it." You hand Walking to Listen to someone, and you say quietly, "This book, I think you need to read it. I think you need to hear what it has to say." And that is what I want to say to those who might consider reading it. That this book will not change your life instantly, but will instead stay with you. It will be a quiet presence in the back of your mind every time you are forced to make a choice to trust a stranger or to not, to sit down next to someone you might not know. As I and many others come of age in one of the most uncertain times in American history, we look outside ourselves for advice as a Forsthoefel did. We are in need of guidance, of course we are, we are in need of someone to take our hand and say yes, you are loved. You are okay. Whatever the future has in store for you is okay, and somehow, Forsthoefel and the stories of the people he meets and the stories that they tell do that. The stories of the people that he meets are the truly remarkable element to the story. They provide guidance to those who need it, and the people that he interviews make it possible to, however distantly, see the extent of the human experience.
As the book draws closer and closer to the end, and Forsthoefel draws closer and closer to the Pacific, I found myself, like him, reluctant to have this journey of ours come to an end. After I finished the book, I wrote this on the back pages:
"I think that my least favorite thing about being human is the inability to live only one life at once, to only be able to make one choice at once. You cannot tell me that in time I will be able to do all that I want to do because my life, by its very nature, is limited. My days are numbered, as of now they remain numerous, but one day my life will end. This I know. If I were to stay put and experience one life, my own, I would be missing out on the chance to experience others and their lives, yet, if I were to do the opposite and spend each day experiencing as many lives as possible, I would be rushing. I wouldn't be able to experience any of them in great enough detail and they would end up meaning nothing. I would be a cobbled together vessel for everyone else's existence. Do you see my conundrum? I hope so."
Thank you, Andrew. You made me think.
None of us had been prepared for snow- the forecast had been for clear skies and occasional rain showers. Waking up to sunny skies that morning, we had made great time descending into the canyon. As sun turned to rain that morning, and rain turned to snow that afternoon, none of us had noticed the drop in temperature until a blizzard prevented us from going forward. With numb fingers, we set up our tents and catapulted into our sleeping bags to wait out the storm. As afternoon turned to evening, we waited still. I racked my brain for what to do, but I was stuck. It was well below freezing, I didn’t have any dry clothes to go outside the tent, and there was nowhere we could go anyway.
Luckily, my ski coach Christi knew what to do. Christi had organized the trip, and a thousand others before it. She had been out in the wild since she was little, spending summers with her family kayaking in Alaska or living off the land in a Utah canyon. Since meeting Christi, she has been an incredible mentor and resource when it came to the outdoors. So as I hid inside my sleeping bag, cursing myself for being ill-prepared, Christi had gone out into the blizzard and somehow managed to start a fire in 5 inches of snow.
At the sound of the fire popping, I reluctantly left my warm sleeping bag, pulled on my wet pants and sopping shoes and went to investigate the fire. As soon as I got close, I could feel the warmth of the flames as they warmed my body and dried my clothes. It was downright magical.
Slowly, all the other women emerged from their tents as well to gather around the fire. We made a tight circle around the fire, each trying to get as close to it as possible without burning up. Our clothes steamed, and our spirits lifted. Eventually, the storm began to clear and we could see the red cliffs around us, bathed in snow and the setting sun.
We went to bed that night uncertain if we would be continuing our trip, but awoke in the morning to a harsh sun and melting snow. We continued our descent into the canyon, and the weather steadily improved to the idyllic conditions I had imagined for the week. Dark Canyon, a relatively undocumented canyon,
“At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read "Walking to Listen." He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn't know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide.”
This excerpt from a description of Walking to Listen on the Bloomsbury Publishing website ably sums up the book in a way that I did not know how to do. What it does not mention however, is the kindness that was shown to him by the people he met and the feelings of prejudice and privilege that he was forced to confront in his walk across the country.
While not a hiking book like Wild or A Walk in the Woods, Walking to Listen is a book worth equal consideration in the world of adventure literature. Just like Cheryl Strayed or Bill Bryson, Forsthoefel found peace and comfort in the solitude that walking across the country forced him into, and found that the rhythm of his footsteps could be meditative in a way that nothing else could be. Like those who walk the long trails of the country, Forsthoefel was often required to trust strangers, and in trusting them he learned about humanity in a remarkable way.
Walking to Listen is not a book that you read all at once. It is not a book that you sit down with and are finished within a few hours or a few days. Like Forsthoefel's walk across the country, Walking to Listen is meant to be taken one step at a time, one story at a time.
days to celebrate some of my favorite guys in my life; my husband, my dad, my brother, and my brother-in-law. I picked a new hidden spot behind my home in the mountains of Colorado to lead them to, a favorite off trail hike shown to me by a neighbor. And as the jokes always go…the guys who had never been to this particular area thought they knew a better route than the chick who was leading the pack. No real directions, just manly gut instinct. THAT was an interesting detour!
You don’t have to hike far from my house to be completely secluded. This was more about fun than distance. We made the uphill climb, following markings within nature that directed us towards our destination. There was constant laughter at the entertainment and interesting conversation my husband always seems to bring on group hikes. We call him “The Mountain Goat”, because not much phases him hiking at altitude. He’s a bit like the energetic dog who hikes 3 times the distance because he circles out and back hyper actively as everyone else just focuses on the uphill climb carrying packs. We made our way to camp; singing, giggling, and making stops to study unusual finds. It was fun being one of the guys and making them squirm by throwing in mountain girl talk about pee rags and snot rockets. We made it to our destination, ate lunch, and checked out a little creek near our campsite. That’s when my husband pulled me aside. He said, “Look! Those are the big rocks we were looking at earlier. We aren’t that far. Let’s see if we can get to them.” And with that, I followed my “Mountain Goat” on a run uphill…VERY UPHILL. We could see the boulders that were peeking through the thick trees getting closer and bigger. I was out of breath, but it didn’t seem to matter. The excitement of sprinting up to a part of the forest that has rarely been seen by humans was a huge rush. We were fast, but aware and cautious. The instincts in that moment felt extremely raw. We made it to the boulders and began climbing. And then, the view…
It felt like we could see clear across Colorado. Looking down, we spotted the field where tents were being set up, and somewhere hidden deep in the trees was our home. The perspective this moment gave me on the beautiful small town I
I live in was nothing short of magical. I thought about all our friends and family who were going about their daily lives in humble backcountry homes nestled among the trees, so secluded that I could not see a single one. We were trying to guess which mountain peaks surrounded this insanely gorgeous 360 view. It was nothing short of stunning. I made a phone call down to camp to let the rest of our group know we were safe and heading back down. Then, I followed my crazy “Mountain Goat” on a run back to camp. My hiking pants had recently gotten a bit loose on me and started to fall down a little more with each step. The rush was still there. We were in the moment. So, I just grabbed a hold of each pant leg and kept running, smiling ear to ear. The rest of the trip w
was filled with delicious food, great conversation, and more laughs…the laughs were mostly thanks to my husband falling out of his hammock in the middle of the night! I love these guys, and I can’t think of a better way to spend Father’s Day weekend. Those rocks have since become a favorite spot for me to take in inspiration and peace. It’s not an easy place to get to, but without question, worth the view. If I had not been open to a bit of spontaneity for a last-minute trip and a spur of the moment run, I never would have had that experience with my husband. It’s one of those where we can just look at each other and know we are the only two people on the planet who can relive the moment. And each time I think of it, I can’t help but smile.
Let me take a step back and clarify that I have always been a big planner. I like to organize and prepare for every last perfect detail of trips and parties, and my summer is typically booked up 6 months in advance. But you know what? Over planning can sometimes limit you or lead to a letdown when real life doesn’t live up to the grandiose trip running on loop in your imagination. As I’ve grown older, I have started to see the benefit of jumping on opportunities big or small and just riding the wave as it comes. Yes, there is the chance of a crash and burn. But what if it leads to something incredible? Sometimes, we need to simply plan to be spontaneous and just be ready for whatever that may bring.
One of my favorite memories of a spontaneous adventure happened last Father’s Day weekend. I decided to go backpacking for a couple of
RUN TO THE ROCKS
BY KATHRYN PETROFF
i absolutely love when adventures lead to something unplanned and amazing!
I’m going to whisper three little words in your ear that will solidify our friendship…
Hikers Brew Coffee.
There are two things in life that I will never get tired of; amazing views and coffee! I’ve recently been introduced to this brand that intertwines the two in the most beautiful way.
Let’s take a look at the two different sizes. The traditional 12 oz. bag, cleverly dubbed the Basecamp Bag, is perfect at home or on excursions where weight isn’t a factor; and the Venture Pouch, weighing in at 1.5 oz., is air-tight, compact and a grab-and-go option for backpacking and other adventures where every ounce counts. I love the convenience of the pouches, not to mention the pre-measured portions are just right for my Jetboil with French press set up in the backcountry. Nothing to reseal = WIN!
In my pre-Hikers Brew days, I would measure out my coffee in snack bags and hit the trail in hopes that those little baggies would hold strong. On several
occasions, they didn’t and it was caffeinated chaos all over my pack. In contrast, you can feel how durable the Hikers Brew packaging is right from the start and I LOVE that it’s made from 100% compostable materials making the entire Hikers Brew experience pack-friendly, earth-friendly and guilt-free.
When it comes to flavor, I was really impressed. I don’t consider myself to be a coffee expert by any means but I can
appreciate a steaming hot cup of joe as much as the next girl. Hikers Brew offers your classic medium and dark roasts as well as some fearless flavors like Caramel Canyon, S’Mores and, my personal favorite, Hazy Hiker, which is creamy chocolate and hazelnut that’s blended in a medium Columbian roast. You can check them all out here. Basecamp Bags are $12.99 each and you can pick up a Venture Pouch for$2.99.
conversation came easy and was plentiful. Instead of leaving the trailhead and all going our separate ways, we opted for lunch and post-hike beers at a local spot where the conversation continued and further plans were made.
HLAW brought us together and continues to offer a sense of community for us dirty girl outcasts. If you don’t already know, HLAW is growing – by leaps and bounds. Amazing opportunities are presenting themselves left and right and, much of that, is because of our amazing community of readers. The HLAW Locals program has taken readership and social media following one step further by allowing us to find each other on the playground and partake in outdoor adventure together.
If you’re searching for community and haven’t already, I highly suggest joining a HLAW Locals group. If there’s not one nearby, there is likely to be in the near future!
SEARCHING FOR COMMUNITY BY AMANDA MILLS
HIKER'S BREW cOFFEE
BY: mANDY GAGE
I’ve always been that weird “outdoorsy” girl. When I was a kid, I’d ride horses, play in the dirt, walk around barefoot and climb rocks and trees from dawn to dark. As an adult, I’m not much different.
I suppose I always knew in the back of my mind that there were other women like me out there – I just didn’t know how to find them. I’ve never been a particularly outgoing person; opting for solitary outings or quiet nights at home versus a night on the town or large gatherings where you’re forced to make idle chit chat with people you’ve never met. And, because of my hobbies, I’d often find myself hanging with the boys when I did opt for group outings. Occasionally, a passing girlfriend would join us but they never lasted long enough for it to be worth my effort to foster a friendship.
When I applied for the Hike Like A Woman Ambassador program last year, I had no idea what I was really applying for. I mean, I had an idea (Rebecca is quite good at laying things out), but I didn’t know what kind of community I would find.
It started with our Ambassador group. The banter, communal ideas, building off one another and sharing of life events and accomplishments (however big or small) was a daily thing and still is. I’ve never met a single person in this group (a fact I am hoping to change soon) but they each became instant friends. A simple love of nature, getting dirty and writing about it brought us all together.
Then came the HLAW Locals program. When Rebecca suggested implementing local hiking groups across the country and put out the call for leaders, I jumped. If I could gain such a sense of community from an online Facebook group full of women I’ve never met, I was sure to build on that with real people, right? Right. It is truly amazing what getting a group of women together, connected by a love of nature and exploring can do.
As my significant other will tell you, I am always trying to be the best hostess I can when we have friends over or family come to stay. It is vitally important to me that everyone has a good time. With our first HLAW NoCO hike coming up, I was beginning to stress about the cohesiveness of the group of women coming. What would we talk about? Would there be awkward silences? What was everyone’s ability level?
You name it I was worried about it...and I didn’t need to be.
From the time we left the trailhead, through 7 miles of hiking and beyond, our group never stopped chatting. There were women from all walks of life, age groups and abilities;
by magretha palepale
I was so excited to solo camp in Rickett’s Glenn, located in Benton, PA, for the first time! I had booked the campsite months before and was looking forward to this 4 days and 3 nights of camping ‘how I want’ and it was finally here. Normally, I would have my husband with me and maybe some cohorts. Camaraderie would abound as we would all assist in helping get the tents set up, the food prepared, and assigned jobs fulfilled. This time, it was all on me. Well, me and my dog.
The forecast for my adventure called for blissfully cooler weather after having a week of 90-plus degree heat. There was rain expected for Monday, but I was prepared as I had brought along an EZ-Up Shade cover. I wasn’t sure how easy this would be to set up, but I figure where there’s a will, there’s a way! There would also be some other campers in the area that I could ask for help from, as well, right? This is definitely one thing that’s great about car camping. You aren’t limited to what you can carry and when my husband asked why I was bringing so much stuff, I simply replied, COMFORT! Another nice thing about solo camping, is that you can really dial down your food selection. I didn’t want to bother with ice on this trip and scoured the grocery store for food that I can ‘just add water’ to. Sans the ramen noodles, I purchased couscous salads (add water), Barilla pasta dishes like chicken alfredo (I just emptied the contents into my pot and slowly simmered it on my fuel stove for a yummy meal), and some Mountain House breakfast skillet packs. Oh, and cookies! Lots of cookies!!! Just a tip when heating up meals in your pots, spray the inside with PAM to prevent anything from sticking. I experimented with, and without PAM, and I highly recommend PAM for easier clean-up. Also, don’t always fill to the suggested water line or add the full amount of water suggested by the manufacturer. If you discover you didn’t add enough water, you can always add more and let your meal sit a bit longer. So much better than having watery couscous, I tell ya!
As I drove the 3 hours from south central Pennsylvania, into the beautiful black bear country of northwest Pennsylvania, Zoey was all about comfort mode
me and a dog called zoey
tired. We had 9 more miles to go, or so I thought.
In my infinite cluelessness in reading a map, I took us on a wrong turn. When taking Mountain Springs Road, it will split and you should take the low road. We came to this split and the only markers I could see were on the road leading to my left. I naturally assumed this was not the split on the map where I should veer off to the right. We continued on to our left for another 1.5+ miles before I realized we were at a bend on the map and we had missed our turn. Understand I was already feeling bad for Zoey being tired and as I looked down at her, for a split second, I freaked out. Partially due to fatigue, partially due to my irritation of not reading the map correctly, and mostly because I was a bad dog mom. ‘Take a breath, the worst thing you can do is freak out’, I told myself. I had been lost before for about 4 hours in the woods on a different solo hike and it wasn’t fun. Since then, I have better equipped myself for emergencies such as these. I had a rain poncho, a sleeping bag bivvy, first aid kit, headlamp, waterproof matches and plenty of food and water. If we had to spend the night due to fatigue, we could just traipse back to the same route in the morning and be okay.
Looking at this from the outside, you may be surmising that I’m overreacting. My main concern was getting my dog back to the campground, safe and sound, and I was feeling immensely guilty for putting her through this. We did double back and found the low road and made our way back onto the Mountain Springs Trail. We arrived back at camp at 1630, starving!!! I thought I had plenty of food, but 4 KIND breakfast bars isn’t a lot when sharing it with your best dog buddy because she ate all the treats you had for her.
After a nice, hot meal, a shower, and lots more cookies, we went to bed with a unique sense of accomplishment that night. At least I went to bed with a unique sense of accomplishment in that this was the longest hike I had accomplished in a day. For me, it was a personal best, and above all that, Zoey still loved me as she snuggled her white marshmallow body against me while stealing my quilt. The two of us bracing against the cold that night, together with full bellies.
The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the glorious waterfalls in the area, 22 named ones and numerous unnamed ones in all. Originally, I was to lead a hike for HLAW Mid-Atlantic Wanders on that Monday. However, there is no cell service in Rickett’s Glenn and I had posted before I left that the forecast was calling for rain and the hike would be cancelled in the event of a downpour. The rocks in the area can get slippery and dangerous. Monday did come and bring an impending sense of rain, but it stayed clear until somewhat after lunch time that day. I had waited 10 minutes in the designated meeting area, in case anyone showed up. If you’ve never been to Rickett’s Glenn, it is a magical place full of waterfalls. You can access their website to learn more about things to do, lodging, and trails: here. So, what have I taken away from all this? Solo camping is definitely a state of mind. As a woman, our emotions are more highly tuned than a man’s. Is it due to sensitivity, our natural tendency to nurture, or our intellect? I believe, in my situation, it’s the quest to prove to myself that ‘I CAN’. I can feel lonely, get depressed, freak out over small things; but I can also overcome these feelings with some tenacity and perseverance…because I am woman, and I have roared.
also. So much so, that she used my arm as a head rest making it hard for me to shift gears in my truck. In hindsight, it wasn’t really hard to remove her head from my arm, but I felt bad disturbing her sleep. Oh, that pit bull has me trained so well!
I stopped at a local firewood trader just outside the SP. Always make sure to purchase local firewood and don’t bring in wood from another area. You could introduce something to the area’s fragile ecosystem and that would be a major fail. Due to the surprise rain that day, the firewood was a little damp. As soon as I arrived at the campsite about 15 minutes later, I stacked the wood on the bench of the picnic table for maximum airflow in the hopes of drying some of it out. Don’t pile your wood, always stack it in an opposite direction. If you start the first layer vertical, the next layer will be stacked horizontal and so on. Make sure your stack is stable and there’s no risk of anything rolling away and stealing your self-proclaimed Jenga Master Wood Stacker (JMWS) accreditation.
With the campsite set, and Zoey being comfortable with her own mat and sleeping bag (did I tell you she has me well trained?), the last thing I had to do was set up the EZ-Up shade cover. So, if you saw a person struggling to get up one of these covers, wouldn’t you have offered to lend a hand? I would have walked any distance if I could see that a person was struggling with something. It’s the neighborly thing to do, correct? The couple the next campsite over checked out my burliness and decided that I didn’t need help as I orbited continuously around all four corners of this thing to get it to spread. Finally tying a dog leash to one leg and attaching it to the picnic table, I was victorious! In my non-neighborly demeanor, I just wasn’t going to share any cookies with the couple. So, there! I know I’m solo camping, but it would have been nice just to offer a hand. Poor me, I know…I know. The main point was the EZ-Up was up and I’m sure more practice in the future will take less time to set up.
As Zoey and I went exploring over to Lake Jean and back, we crossed many Saturday night campsites filled with warm fires, warm conversations, and laughter. After we got our fire blazing, an eerie loneliness came over me and a hot sting behind my eyes manifested. I was lonely. I’m not sure if it was because I was the only one solo camping, but I really missed my husband. What was wrong with me? I had been looking forward to this solo adventure for a while and now I’m becoming a PMS statistic? What just happened to my “I am woman, hear me roar” bravado? Was it because now that the work was over, I didn’t have campfire chat available to me? I mean, I had Zoey to talk to and she’s a great listener, but I still went to bed unable to shake this feeling of ‘oneness’. Zoey and I cuddled that night, and she was more than obliging because the temps had dropped from the forecasted 55F to something colder. Cold enough that I could see my breath at times and this temp set the precedence for the next few nights.
Sunday morning had us bright and early on the hike at 0630. I didn’t really have a plan other than we would start with the Cherry Run Trail. The Cherry Run Trail connects with the Little Cherry Run Trail to Mountain Springs Trail making it a nice day hike at approximately 8 miles from the campground round trip. We did 17.26 miles that day. Like I said, we started out at Cherry Run Trail and when we got to the Little Cherry Run Trail intersect, we bypassed it to head another 2.6 miles to Mountain Springs Road (MSR is 3.5 miles) and that would bring us to Mountain Springs Trail (MST is 5.5 miles back to campground. The Cherry Run Trail is a total of 4.6 miles from the TH). I don’t know what possessed me, other than I felt as if I didn’t want to miss anything by taking the intersect. We would take plenty of breaks, right? I knew we had until at least 830pm that night before it got dark and I had plenty of food and water with me. What’s 15 miles over a span of 8 hours? Totally do-able!
The Cherry Run Trail hike was an old railroad section with evidence of the ridged path that showed where the rail ties would have been. Due to the fact that the ground was soft from the previous rain, it was a muddy hike. Where the ground cover was really soft, ankle-eating rocks were placed there and it was slow going at times. My usually ballerina-like Zoey was slipping on rocks and this, after 6 miles, was
REI Co-op flash Women's sleeping bag
Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz
The mountains here Echo an other-worldly essence
It’s freezing. Actually, well below. The thermostat at the tea house read nearly 0deg F. I’m wearing three pairs of socks, three shirts, two jackets and three pairs of pants, but it doesn't matter, the cold slowly creeps towards my bones. My vision is limited to the narrow beam of light emanating from my headlamp, the batteries struggling to produce power in the frigid air. I’m mostly guided by the sound of crunching snow as our guide slowly zig zags his way up the yak trail.
My body rattles impulsively to stay warm. As dawn nears, the Himalayan steeps start to show their familiar silhouettes. The mountains here echo an other-worldly essence that I’ve grown to know and love over the past 8 days. The scenery comforts me, yet at the same time leaves me dumbfounded. I am walking among giants.
Before long the warm glow of the pending day gives way to
When I go backpacking, there is a careful line I tread between weight and comfort. After a few trips with the REI Co-Op Flash Women’s sleeping bag, I’m happy to say this sleeping bag falls right on that line.
Weighing just less than two pounds and compressing to 3 liters, this sleeping bag has quickly become my favorite piece of gear. I debuted my bag on an overnight backpacking trip in Moab this spring, and was ecstatic with how light my pack was. The bag shrinks down to the height of a Nalgene, but the down springs back into action as soon as it’s rolled out. The bag cuts weight by having very little fill on the bottom side, so I would suggest using an insulated pad with this bag.
My initial intention for this sleeping bag was for warm summer camping, especially in canyons. So on my latest trip, I was worried if this sleeping bag would be enough to keep me warm when a sudden blizzard hit. However, it kept me warm and dry through the snowstorm (and on an un-insulated sleeping pad nonetheless!).
One drawback of this bag is its sizing. I consider myself to be of fairly average height, measuring in just over 5’6”, but I had to buy the long version of this bag because the regular size was too short. The long version is meant to fit women who are up to 6’1”, so the good part of this is I have ample space to hide my entire body inside the bag on cold nights. However, I also have unnecessary weight and empty space in my sleeping bag thanks to this.
Overall, this bag has exceeded my expectations and made backpacking a whole lot more enjoyable thanks to its low weight and high comfort.
Digging Deep In The Himalaya
By Meg Atteberry
mhm switch Backpack
Deirdre Denali Rosenberg
brilliant spears of glowing light. I nearly drop to my knees as the sight unfolds before me. The fire of day ignites before my eyes over the tallest mountain in the world, Mt Everest (29,029'). I’m so overcome by emotion I almost feel empty. Tears want to come, but they don’t, all I can do is listen to my shallow breathing in the thin air. Don’t ever forget this moment, I repeat over and over again.
The sun exudes a god-like presence for our team of three. We are overcome with joy as the sun rips across the jagged peaks, breathing life into our surroundings. However, our celebration is short lived, there are two steep, rocky pitches above us. We aren’t there yet.
The next 45 minutes challenge put my will to the test. You’re body gets a bit funky at 17,500’. Although I’m a little shy of 300 vertical feet from the summit, it might as well be the moon. Every ounce of me wants to quit. I’m struggling to put one foot in front of the other, much less use my hands and scramble up the boulders surrounding me. I try my best to keep my mind in a trance. One, two, one, two, I repeat over and over again in an attempt to distract myself from myself.
This voice, way off in the distant spaces of my mind starts to squeak, your close enough, call it. NO! I command. You’ve waited 20 years to be here. You’ve been trekking for eight days, you will keep going. Summit fever is dangerous, but there’s a difference between pushing yourself and being beyond your limit. I haven’t reached mine yet. One, two. One, Two… Behind me my partner chirps words of encouragement. Rudely, I tune him out, I have to, or I won’t make it. Only my legs can cary me. One, two. One, two…
The final 15 vertical feet require the work of both my arms and legs. Just when I think I can’t possibly take another step higher, the steep grade in front of me fades as Cho Oyo (26,906') shows her snow capped summit. The terrain levels out and gives way to the top. The struggle ended for the time being.
I made it to the top of this arbitrary hill named Gokyo Ri in the Himalaya. That day I stood 17,775 feet tall. The anticipation, the struggle, the effort, the dream, right here below my two battered legs. I sit, beaming, being closer to the top of the world than the bottom. Everest nods in approval while Lotse waves hello, like two long-lost friends greeting you at the airport. Makalu stands sheepishly in the distance as Cho Latse shows off her stylish, top hat serac. The mountains welcome me with their beauty, but caution me with their imposing physiques.
In that moment nothing mattered, it never does. Your only focus is how small you feel with the entire world stretched out around you. You’re just a small rowboat in a sea of peaks. Each jagged ridge another wave, stuck in time. Nothing in the world compares to that feeling. Nothing.
organization. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve unzipped the bottom only to pull out my traction devices. In another pack, I would have had to pull out all of my junk just to get to them. So I am a big fan of the zipper system. One thing I’d like to point out, just because I can forsee it being an issue, especially in the much larger packs, is that the zipper can break or get caught on clothing or other loose items. Most packs don’t have zippers and I think there may be a solid reason for that. But as it stands, I am a big fan of the Snake-Loader.
The Switch has a removable hipbelt for people who don’t need the support that would offer. Say if you are using it as a city pack or something. The hipbelt has a pocket on either side. I use one for extra camera batteries and one for my hanky. They’re small pockets, but useful and standard. I actually think the Switch may have one of the most comfortable hipbelts I have ever worn. It fits snuggly and perfectly around my my natural waist. Many times with packs, I have a hard time finding a hipbelt that doesn’t rub my hip bones raw eventually. And of course, this is not a large backpack with a super heavy load, but I have experienced uncomfortable rubbing with almost every pack of this size I’ve used. So if you also experience this issue, the Switch may be the solution.
For the past couple months I have been using MHM’s Switch backpack instead of my usual go-to for day hikes and adventures on the shorter side. This is a 26 liter pack with MHM’s signature “snake-loader zipper system”. It’s touted as being good for multiple activities, comes with a 60 day trial, lifetime warranty and free return shipping. MHM is a direct to consumer company, so the price point is kept a little lower than competitors and when you talk to customer service, you are talking to a person working at the shop. And I like that. Something wonderful about small companies holding true to the values they believe in.
When I first recieved my pack, I was really tempted to use it as a purse. It is streamlined and incredibly spacious with super straightforward organization. I like all of those things. But I also have a tendency to get lazy with taking gear out of my packs, and I wanting the Switch for long day hikes. So my purse dreams were dashed. But those lazy backpack dreams were achieved. And for the past two months that is where a lot of my backpacking essentials have lived. I’ve taken this pack on many journeys and trips- I feel it’s been used enough to really know it. Like, it’s a good friend at this point. We’re really close.
Let’s talk about the details.
So, this pack has the Snake-Loader zipper system. That essentially is a zipper in the shape of an “S” that goes down the front of the pack. It has a couple zipper pulls, so you can access it easily from the top or bottom without having to undo the whole thing and make a mess of your gear. If you unzip the whole “S” what you have is a totally flat backpack. This is a nice feature if you like
So there we were.
Hot, dirty, tired, stinky and just 1 mile from completing our short hike along a section of the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming’s beautiful Sierra Madre Mountain Range.
The film crew that we were working with was having us walk up and down a short section of trail while they were shooting us from all different angles with their fancy cameras.
We were secretly hoping that they were using lenses that made us skinnier and only shooting from angles that made us look gorgeous but there was no denying that after a few days on the trail there was going to be nothing glamorous about our final hours on the trail.
Our stomachs were growling knowing that a cooler with food was waiting for us in our shuttle vehicle at the end of the trail and our water bottles were down to their last few sips of water.
We were getting hangry, there was no denying it.
We were huddled on the trail, with our backs turned to the film crew when Gretchen got a mysterious twinkle in her eye.
She ripped open a gigantic plastic banana that had been hanging from her pack and pulled out 5 fake mustaches, handing one to each of us.
We put the mustaches on our lips and giggled at each other so hard that our abs started to hurt.
“Okay, we’re ready, turn around and start walking,” the film crew called out to us.
So we did.
And for just a few moments our fatigue and hunger was forgotten as we all (camera crew included) almost died laughing at the silliness of our fake mustaches on the trail.
As the summer winds down and we begin to think about the busyness of heading back to school, or putting aside summer vacations for work I challenge you to do just one thing.
Stop somewhere along the trail and have a silly moment.
Put on a fake mustache, sing an old camp song, hike wearing a wig, or a superhero cape, embarrass yourself, your hiking companions and everyone you know.
Life’s too short not to stop and laugh.
Here’s to adventures and embracing our inner silly selves.
happy was not overlooked. Hardshell, gloves and a hat fit nicely here. There are also two stretchy “waterbottle” pockets. I can take or leave these, but they’re nice for toilet paper. Oh, the convenience.
Other things… The Switch is compatible with hydration reservoirs. It has a big old “grab handle” on the top, which is a nice feature actually. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I use it a lot when my car is jam packed and I need to just grab it out quick. It comes in a few colors- I like the black and blue. It is a really modern design.
Torso length- 16-20 inches
Hipbelt length- 27-48 inches
Approx. dimensions- 22x9x9 inches
For a backpack of this size, the Switch has a ton of structure. The I-Flex suspension provides enough load transfer without adding much weight or rigidity. The air channels keep heat off the body and provide some padding. It has the feel of a much larger pack, as far as structure and comfort go. Which is a big plus- the comfort of a daypack can be tricky. They aren’t quite as customizable in fit and oftentimes fit loosely in places. Not here.
Pockets! The inside of the pack has a large sealed pocket that is also clear. So this is where you’d store things that can leak. They’ll stay contained and you’ll be a happy camper. The inside also has a smaller pocket towards the top that is your standard mesh catch-all. The Switch doesn’t really have a head, but the top lid unzips and has a big spacious pocket that also has some smaller organization pockets. I don’t find the smaller storage useful, but that space as a whole is wonderful- that’s where I typically keep things I’ll use eventually. Extra camera gear, extra gloves and a hat, maybe my phone. Externally, there is a large outer front pocket that is stretchy and great. A standard that I am
by rebecca walsh /founder of hike like a woman
hike like a woman