Of Toenails and Things

Journal Entries from February 2015

February 9, 2015

This morning, as I was looking at my shaggy toenails,  I wondered whether my lightweight, backpacking husband was planning on bringing toenail trimmers.  So, I asked him. “No” he said, “They’re too heavy. We’ll just chew them off with our teeth. You’ll do mine and I’ll do yours.”

Was he kidding?? (You never know about these things with a lightweight backpacker!)

Yes. (He was kidding)

But, he did add that if our nails needed trimming, which they undoubtedly will, we could buy a cheap trimmer in town, trim our nails, and either put the trimmer in a hiker box, or otherwise dispose of it. (Maybe I’ll just carry a teeny tiny, lightweight cardboard emery board.)

February 11, 2015

Life is a wheelMel is reading the book Life is a Wheel by Bruce Weber. It’s about a 57 year old man who did a bike ride across the United States–just like Mel did in 2013! Mel is thoroughly enjoying the book and periodically shares little tidbits with me. It sounds like a book that I would like to read too.

In the coffee shop today, Mel showed me the following passage. (If you substitute the words “long distance hiking” anywhere you read “long distance biking”, the message is the same. It might be a hard concept to grasp if you have never engaged in a difficult, long distance or long lasting activity that you enjoy, but it rang true for me based on my experience with semi-long distance hikes of 100 miles.)

From: Life is a Wheel by Bruce Weber p. 41

“Part of long-distance cycling, a big part, actually, and a rewarding, even pleasurable part, has to do with enduring discomfort and pushing through it to enjoy–and deserve–a cold beer, a good dinner, and a happy sleep. It’s perverse, of course working harder than you might wish to in order to feel worthy when you’re done–a kind of self-loathing that lays the groundwork for self-esteem. If you understand that particular perversion, you might well be a cyclist, or maybe you should be one.”

I’m not so much about the beer or the self loathing, but I’ll take the good dinner and the happy sleep and the boost in self esteem. (I’d even throw in a refreshing shower!) When you do something really, really challenging, like long distance hiking or biking, the simple pleasures of life become oh so incredibly sweet–an ice cold drink, a hot shower, a soft bed just feel so miraculously wonderful after a long, hot, sweaty day. It’s an almost indescribable feeling. I love that about doing something challenging.

winterWe are just about two months out from the start of our big hike. We’re thinking that maybe April 17th will be our start date. With that in mind, I went out for a walk today as usual, but the wind chill was 10 degrees below zero! I was bundled from head to toe and managed to stay reasonably ‘warm’. It wasn’t as long a walk as I usually do because some of the roads were snow covered and difficult to walk–but at least I got out!

February 17, 2015

Mel making Cuben Fiber bags for our hike

Mel making Cuben Fiber bags for our hike

Mel has been busy making lightweight bags out of Cuben Fiber using a kit from YAMA Mountain Gear (https://www.yamamountaingear.com/).

Cuben Fiber (from Wikipedia) is a product marketed and developed by the Cuben Fiber and Cubic Tech Corporations as a high-performance non-woven fabric for applications such as yacht sails, airship hulls, kites and many designs that require extremely strong rip resistance and light weight.).

We will use the bags to put our clothes and/or other soft things in. The material feels as light as paper, but is super tough and water proof. It’s amazing.

February 19, 2015

I finally found the shirt I’m going to wear to hike in. It’s a Columbia Omni Freeze Zero that I found at REI this weekend when we were passing through Ann Arbor. (The wool one that I bought earlier will be my sleep shirt.) It’s a men’s small. I haven’t liked any of the women’s shirts that  I have tried on because of the capped sleeves, the scoop neckline and the skin tight fit. So, I have an un-pretty but comfortable dull grey shirt that’s supposed to keep me cooler on hot days–and it was on sale!! Because it was a men’s shirt, it was a little long, so I shortened the body and the sleeves when I got home. It feels great–loose and comfortable, just the way I like it.

About Omni Freeze Zero: The wicking polyester base of the Omni-Freeze ZERO T-shirt is embedded with thousands of 0.15-inch hydrophilic polymer rings (a men’s medium has more than 41,000 of them). As the base spreads sweat, the rings absorb moisture and expand into three-dimensional doughnuts. In order to swell, the rings require energy, which they gather as body heat.  In tests, the shirt was up to 10 degrees cooler against the wearer’s skin than shirts made from any other material.

We are going to send in our socks, shirts and shorts to a company to bug-proof them so that they will be mostly resistant to ticks– and maybe help with mosquitoes too. Mel has researched this bug treatment method and thought it would be the best bet–rather than buy clothes that are already treated. We were able to buy clothes that we liked rather than choose from a relatively limited selection of factory-treated clothes. It also seems that sending the clothes to a company to bug-proof them holds up better under repeat washings than if you treat the clothes yourself.

Kallin Family on the AT

Kallin Family on the AT

One of the things that prompted our doing the bug treatment was reading about the kids on the Kallin Family blog this summer.  The kids sometimes accumulated 30 ticks at a time!! No thank you. (A Family Adventure of the 2,185 mile hike from Georgia to Maine – 2014, https://kallinfamily.com/)

 

 

 

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Comments 6

  • Avatar
    Marietta Jones : Feb 26th

    IThis is so great! I grew up in the Kalamazoo area and am back here for a bit until I hit the trail at the end of March. I’ve been visiting Ann Arbor quite a bit lately myself. Hope to see you out there! Happy trails!

    Reply
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      Jeanne Church : Feb 26th

      Where are you living now? Do you have a trail name? My husband already have the names Backfire and Spider from previous hikes. Maybe we’ll run into you! Happy trails!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Marietta Jones : Feb 26th

        I live in Battle Creek with my family right now, but I’m in Kalamazoo at least once or twice a week. I do not have a trail name yet! I think I might have decided on one, but perhaps the trail will pick one for me? It’s something I debate about while I’m driving back and forth across the state. I hope I do run into you, it would be nice to see a fellow Michigander!

        Reply
        • Avatar
          Jeanne Church : Feb 26th

          My husband is from Battle Creek and his mom still lives there on Dunham Drive. How are you getting to Georgia?

          Reply
          • Avatar
            Marietta Jones : Feb 26th

            I’ve bribed my mom into taking me. She works on the east side of the country some weeks, so we’ll drive from Pennsylvania and then she’ll head back that way and spend time with a friend. I think it should be fine. I found a few other girls to hike with over on white blaze, so I wont be alone! I’m crazy excited and a bit nervous at this point. Less than a month until I leave!

            Reply
            • Avatar
              Jeanne Church : Feb 26th

              I’m getting pretty excited at this point too. We’ve been talking about it for almost a year! Good luck!

              Reply

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