Jesus Had Dreads

And 14.4 other things learned on a 14.4 mile shakedown.

14.4 Miles hiked

25 Hours on the trail

31.5 lbs pack weight (including food)

512 feet in altitude change

1.8 mph average hiking speed

4.49 hours slept in shelter

3 completely terrifying trail register entries

14,644 near death lightning strikes.

616 hailstones to the face

10 weeks between now and my 2016 SOBO start date.


So I took a hike. Solo. On my longest backpacking trip I’ve ever done. 7.2 miles from Route 20 in Lee, MA to the October Mountain shelter. And then back in the morning. It stormed. It hailed. It was cold.  I didn’t break any bones. I didn’t stop walking (for long). I didn’t get abducted by Satanists. I learned stuff though.


1. Breathe out of your nose while drinking water

Call me stupid but this didn’t come naturally. Stopping to drink out of a camelback doesn’t make sense, does it? Nah. It doesn’t. Easy solution: Use the other breathing hole.

2. I walk slowly

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 10.12.44 AM

When you’re walking for 2 hours and realized you’ve only gone a couple miles this one really sets in (See “fu·ry”). 1.8mph does not correlate with 20 mile days.

3. You know that bag that comes with your Sawyer water filter? Yeah, it sucks


I must have spent half of my entire hiking experience trying to fill that stupid bag. Here’s the trick: blow it up before you use it. Or buy a SmartWater bottle. #innovation

4. Hiking poles really are bae

I’m not explaining this. Click here. Or just believe me. Whatever.

5. Organization is key

I’m a mess. I drop things. I lose shit. I’ve gone through 14 Nalgene bottles in a week. I need to keep everything in a super specific stuff sack stash, or I’ll cut my pack weight in half before I get out of the 100-mile wilderness. Hey there’s an idea..

6. For the Photographers on the trail


Find a lens you like, and bring it. Don’t bring an extra one for those telephoto shots, don’t bring a fisheye, don’t bring a bag of silly filters. Find a lens you like, and stick with it, because changing lenses on the trail is super distressing (and bad for the lenses). Here’s what I use.

7.  I suck at washing dishes

How the hell do you clean powdered cheese off a pot in the backcountry? Actually asking. Answer in the comments.

8. Cooking breakfast does not rule

I think I’m going to opt for on-trail breakfasts. See above.

9. That being said

Eating tuna with a cracker while walking uphill is hard. I do not recommend it.

10. Commit to the phone, or don’t

If you’re using it and plan on using it, bring an external battery that can hold something like 3 or 4 full charges. My phone has a 2,200 mAh battery, so I’m opting for a 10,000 mAh external battery (6oz!)

11. There’s no such thing as “light rainproofing”

If you’re going to prepare for rain (jacket, pack cover etc.), prepare for all of it. Opening up the pack mid storm for a snack during a long day of hiking will inevitably end with wet gear (See “fu·ry”). Rain is rain. We should acknowledge that.

12. John Wayne Syndrome is merciless


Body Glide. Gold Bond. A Blog post about ass chaffing. This walk on a trail can be worse than stepping on a lego.

13. Thunder and lightning are scary

Or I’m a 14 year old girl. Stay tuned for updates.

14.(+0.4) Don’t read the trail registers


3/14/16 – I’ve forgotten how to sleep now. All I know is to prowl in the darkness and hunt my prey, 4 dead, women and children, laid to rot on my altar. I fed on them, oh flesh and the power it holds. The destruction of life and beauty is my only mission. There is no end to my madness. -*Satan*”

3/16/16 – Well thats terrifying! Spending the night! Will update in the AM if *Satan* shows back up! -JM”

Or read them, add an entry, and perpetuate the terror. Happy Trails!

(I didn’t update that in the morning)

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Comments 21

  • Bob Rogers : Mar 21st

    Sawyer Mini… that’s the squeeze bag everyone talks about?!? Ok this will sound stupid too. I thought it was for reversing the flow to clean the filter. I’ve had mine for at least a year now. Probably closer to 2. That little bag is in a box in the back of the closet somewhere. I’ve never used it.

    Here’s a tip tho. A soda bottle, Pepsi and Mt Dew in particular, up to a 1L bottle, has the same threads. The 1 and 1.5L water bottles also fit. Don’t remember brand name. Guess what I use instead of that stupid plastic bag.

    What camera body? I see Sony E-mounts from $450 to $3200. I have a Pentax K20D that is NOT going on the hike. Looking for a mirrorless and something light. The Pentax is neither of those. 12mm?!? Not a fisheye but damn close. The smallest I currently have is a 16-50mm. I haven’t done any research yet but I’m thinking I want a lens that is macro as well.

    • Jeremy Morris : Mar 21st

      Bob! I’m investing anywhere from $2 to $4 in a couple of 1L Smartwater Bottles to replace that dumb bag. If someone told me that the bag was for backwashing I would totally believe them, it worked that well (not).

      Camera i’m using is a Sony A6000 mirrorless and the aforementioned 12mm Rokinon wide angle lens. I will be leaving the kit lens at home and just accept that I won’t be zooming on things, which is fine by me. Sony makes a great camera, really loving the wifi capabilities and the light weight. I’ll throw together a post on my camera set up before I venture out into the wild!

      • Brian : Mar 25th

        Here’s a nice hack for backflushing the Sawyer without the syringe using one or two SmartWater 700mL caps:

        Since it sounds like you just recently got yours, the newer model of either the Squeeze or the Mini should just take one cap. (For the record, I have tried this method and it works great). Definitely practice it at home before you have to do it in the field.

        I’ve been using the Sawyers for a long time, and the pouches that come with it definitely leave something to be desired. I use some made by Evernew that hold their shape a little better; I usually use one to filter the water (and store dirty water) and two for clean water. Just make sure that when you’re blowing up the pouch you do it through your shirt or something so you don’t come in contact with dirty water.

  • maurice powers : Mar 21st

    Jeremy, I always carry a small scotchbrite pad with me and a pair of chopsticks and a small bottle of dishsoap…boil pot, scrub with pad and chopstick and rinse…hope this helps…I am oldschool and carry a Peak One stove and Coleman Fuel…heavier but more fuel efficient and I can cook ANYTHING on this bad boy…tank of fuel burns for two and a half hours at full throttle…not bad for 8 oz. of fuel.

    • Jeremy Morris : Mar 21st


      So from what I understand, there is no easy way out of cleaning dishes? I just have to do it…normally? UGH. So much work. I guess I’ll have to get over it. The Scotchbrite pad sounds like a good idea though!

      • Bob Rogers : Mar 21st

        Just let the bears lick it out for you. 😉

        I’d like to get a full frame camera. Canon 1D would be nice. Not for thru-hiking but in general. It would be really nice if the lenses were interchangeable with a mirrorless. Mirrorless will go on a DSLR (with an adapter) but DSLR to mirrorless doesn’t look possible. Let me know how it does in low light shots.

      • Tenderfoot : Mar 25th

        I used the plastic mesh bag onions come in- just ball it up and scrub. Also served as a bag for my Cooking pot gear. Just be sure to rinse it out well so it doesn’t carry last nights goo on it.

        My favorite breakfast was flour tortillas with peanut butter and honey!

  • TBR : Mar 21st

    That 12mm lens translates into a 35mm for us oldtimers (who once shot on 35mm film). That’s the classic wide-angle lens.

    Versatile. Once I started shooting with wide angles, I never went back to standard (55mm) lenses.

    I prefer a bit wider, a 28mm.

    Wide angles can’t be beat when you are traveling and camping.

    That was a fine shot of that stream!

    • Jeremy Morris : Mar 21st

      Thanks! I was planning on bringing both lenses but after a couple days of shooting with the wide angle, I don’t think I’m gonna have the desire to use anything else!

    • Bob Rogers : Mar 22nd

      That 12mm lens translates into 18mm for us oldtimers (who once shot on 35mm film). I’ve only seen 1.5 and 1.6 crop ratios. I’ve never seen a 2.1. Normally I’d let that slide but 18mm is not exactly close to 35mm. The “perfect” lens for me would probably be a 12-50mm with macro. There are going to be a lot of cool bugs and flowers along the way that will need a close up. 50mm will save on cropping when all I want to shoot is people.

  • Jeff : Mar 21st

    Wash dishes. Use dirt. Dry dirt. Sandy dirt is best. Dry abrasive, all natural. Takes only a little practice.

    • Jeremy Morris : Mar 21st

      ..that actually makes a ton of sense. Totally gonna have to try this asap. Almost seems counterintuitive!

      • Bob Rogers : Mar 22nd

        If there’s no sand available, you can kinda make a brillo pad out of pine needles. Don’t use dirt out of the fire ring. Ashes will only make mud.

  • TBR : Mar 22nd

    I got the 35mm equivalent from the link the writer provided. Says “35mm equiv”

    • Jeremy Morris : Mar 23rd

      Great choice! Hope you like it!

  • Olivia : Mar 25th

    Immediately after use put water in the pot so nothing can stick, then boil the water. It’ll loosen everything, might have to use your fork a little, but otherwise just drain the water and wipe with a bandana

    • Jeremy Morris : Mar 25th

      That was my original plan, but won’t the bandana smell like food? Then I “have” to put that in the bear bag, and i’ll have a smelly food bandana?

  • Bill : Mar 25th

    I clean my pot just as jeff said with dirt. Mostly I Ziploc bag cook so I just use my pot to boil water. Good luck.

  • Kelly : Mar 25th

    That trail entry is terrifying! My friend and I will be section hiking up to October mountain in that spring, I’ll have to look for that in the register. Glad you survived the night, hopefully it’ll ease my fears after reading it when I get there! 🙂

  • AGD : Mar 25th

    Forget the rainproof cover for your pack use – Trash compactor bags and toss your gear into them. It keeps them dry and they are lightweight. When On AT you will be wet from sweat so it doesn’t matter too much and diaperash cream works well too just squeeze it out into a zip lock bag and double bag and you are good to go. Loose the container weight…. Happy trails.

  • Frankie Lee : Mar 25th

    After our first cheese meal, we swore off any meals that contained heated cheese! I take a small square of scotchbrite pad for pot cleaning.


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