Gear Nerd Alert

If there were such a group as Gear Nerds Anonymous, I could be the leader.  I’ve spent a RIDICULOUS amount of time picking out my gear.  While product reviews have taken place of my nightly novel, I’m pretty confidant on where I’m at for the JMT.  Many of my friends and family have asked what the heck I take on an adventure of this proportion.  Well here ya go folks!  And all this adds up to a base weight of 21.43 lb. (translation: all gear except food and water.)  Food will weigh up to 14 lb. at my heaviest and water is pretty abundant thankfully!

photo (2)


1. 20 degree Marmot down sleeping bag and stuff sack
2. BV500 Bear Canister
3. Osprey Ariel 65 liter Pack
4. Columbia sun hat
5. Note pad
6. Neoair Xlite sleep pad
7. towel
8. Toiletries (Dr. Bonners soap, medicine, chap stick, tooth brush, sunscreen)
9. rope
10. Super sexy Camp Shoes
11. Smartwool crew neck
12. REI hiking pant/ capri
13. Icebreaker thermal
14. North Face tank
15. Pee rag (representing the legendary John Muir… he’d be proud ;))
16. Book
17. Alcohol free wet wipes
18. Duct tape, first aid kit, super glue, pad repair kit
19. Instaflator (fills up the sleeping pad real quick and keeps moisture out)
20. Rain cover for pack
21. 2x Patagonia under-roos, 1 Calvin Klein bralette
22. Smartwool thermal bottoms
23. Nike Pro spandex shorts
24. Brook’s Cascadias with SOLE Inserts
25. $store sewing kit
26. Water bucket for “baths” dishes and laundry
27. Poo trowel… Hey leave no trace folks!
28. SPOT Satellite messenger
29. home made food bag Koozie
30. Coffee Cup
31. Dirty Girl Gaiter
32. Battery and charging cables for iPhone
33. Patagonia shell/thermal
34. Patagonia ultralight puffy
35. Outdoor research rain jacket
36. Sun Sleeves
37. Yoga strap/ belt
38. Gloves
39. Platypus water bladder with Sawyer Mini inline filter
40. Jetboil Stove, titanium spork, whistle/compass/thermometer
41. Ziplock bowl
42.REI Traverse trekking poles
43. *Tarptent Rainbow
44. *Headlamp
* Not pictured


Things will be massaged a bit, but I’d say I’m on my way to the Sierras in a pretty good fashion.

T-7 days till I step foot on that trail!

Happy Trails!

Bears, Creepy men and Lightning- a note on fear

alone1 month until my trip. This is both super exciting and scaring the shit out of me. While I don’t prefer John Mayer as a person much at all, I continually go back to this photo for inspiration when fear about my trip starts creeping in. As with major life event, there are many many emotions that go through my head. Like a ferris wheel, the emotions keep circling around… excitement, fear, anticipation, happiness, mom guilt and then back around again… excitement, fear… you get the point. At this particular moment, With the 1 month mark happening I’m focusing on fear and also how I’m managing it now and through my trip. Things that give me small pangs of panic:

1. Gear: The long and short of it is that I have all of my gear. I have spent COUNTLESS hours reading about gear. I never thought I’d give 2 shits about how an ounce is going to affect my life… until this adventure started. I’ve skimmed magazines, FB groups, online forums and met with many mountain folks to get their 2 cents. While my gear list is not quite in digital form, it is complete. Pictures hopefully following in a couple days. Now that I have it all, the fear is behind: Have I chose the right option for this long of a hike? What am I going to do if something fails? Questions like that. Fear control tactic #1: Reminding myself that others have done this journey with far less than I have. Heck, John Muir did it with a couple blankets and some tea.  The most important piece of gear I have is inside.  The fire in my heart to face the trail one step at a time. Water can be pure, food can be warm, tent can shield rain, but none of it is important if your feet don’t move forward. One step at a time.

2. Leaving Brook: I’m sure many people have opinions about me leaving my child for 3 weeks.  Believe me, they aren’t the only ones.  Pangs of mom guilt creep in more frequently as the trip gets closer.  While some my say I’m selfish for embarking on this journey, I’d say they are wrong. I’m a far better and happier mommy if I don’t ignore my deepest desires and spend some serious “me” reflection time every once in awhile. Fear control tactic #2: While I spend a great deal of my time making sure that Brookie is happy and flourishing in life, I have to remember that I am a human with needs too.  My choice to embark on a journey I’ve dreamed about forever will show her that woman can be strong and independent.  It will show her that time to oneself is necessary.  And it will allow her time to bond with other family beside me. (side note:) I do have a satellite messenger so she can see where I am each night and she will have lots of care package goodies!

3. Being alone: I will be spending about 10 days on the trail alone.  I’m starting with a couple girls and ending with my Dear Beau.  But the time in between will be with me, myself and I.  The days don’t scare me, it’s the nights that send a shiver up my spine. Fear control tactic #3: Entering tent at 8pm, ear plugs, meditation and if I’m still bright eyed, I will resort to melatonin or another trusty sleep aid. After a few restless nights and long hiking days, I should be tired enough that I don’t have any option but to sleep. And remembering to find solitude in the times of uncertainty and remember why I even started this journey in the first place.  I find that if I take the power out of fear and instead focus it on being empowered I’m MUCH better off. I will say that 1000 times if I have to.  

4. Starving: It can’t happen, and it won’t happen. But if you know me, you know that I seriously like food.  I plan my days around it.  I will have enough food to feed a small village, but I still have a tiny bit of fear that I will be hungry. Fear control tactic #4: bring more food. And remember that this night be the only time in my life that I’m worried about not eating enough calories in a day.  I need to enjoy this shit! Every single bite!

5. Bears, Creepy men and Lightning: These are the normal outsider fears.  Like they weren’t a fear until I got asked like 200 times if I were scared of them.  Then I started to question myself. Fear control tactic #5: Trekking poles, bear mace (the Dear Beau is making me bring it), and a gnarly trail name.  Bears are actually just as scared of us.  And as long as I remember to hide my Snickers bars, I should be ok 🙂  Creepy men will take a trekking pole to the balls if they even try to mess with me.  And there is basically no place that you are safe with lightning, so I’m just gonna pray to the mother nature gods if I get in that situation. Lastly, I remind myself that fear only has as much power as you give it.  Most of the time it is much larger in your mind that in reality.  I’m on a mission to point that useless energy waster elsewhere.

Happy Trails! -Sade

The big question…

It’s inevitable that the first question anyone asks when I tell them that I’m hiking the John Muir Trail this summer is “Why?”  In some form or another, they try to understand why a young female like myself would have the urge to hike 240 miles by herself.  When I enthusiastically reply with “because ‘ been a dream of mine!”… they tend to all look at me with the same puzzled expression like I must be going crazy.  Then they tend to continue on by telling me how dangerous it is blah blah (like I haven’t measured the risks here)

When really pondering the question of “Why, I come up with these reasons:

1. Bliss: 22 days hiking in the most beautiful landscape is bliss to me.  Going places that can’t be reached in car or horse or motorcycle… only on the 2 legs you have to take you there.  You know that feeling when you can’t believe the beauty you are seeing through your eyes? Well imagine if you’d hiked hundreds of miles to see it.  The gratitude felt to see that pristine alpine lake can only be understood personally. I can’t even begin to try to explain it.  Yeah… I’m not going to shower for 10 days on end, or have any of my usually luxuries, or be able to wash that nappy hair of mine, but I’ll be able to strip down my life to only what I can carry on my back. When can any of us say that in our normal lives…

2. Ultimate test of strength: In all forms, this trek with test me. Physically I will be enduring about 12 miles a day with 30-40 lbs on my back.  Every muscle will ache, yet I will have to keep going. “One foot in front of the other” is my mantra.  Mentally I will have to continue when I feel like giving up, I will have to go just one more mile when all I want to do is sleep, and I will have to calm myself when I feel fear. There is not another option but to move forward. Spiritually I know that I will come out a different person than I came in.  I will spend days on end contemplating and reorganizing my life, making goals and healing. I look forward to the spiritual clarity.

3. Me myself and I: 

4. I’m conquering many fears. I’m the first to admit that I hate being alone. Classically outgoing, I find being around people very comforting.  I don’t spend enough time by myself although this is something I’ve been working on.  I’ve purposely planned some of my trip to be alone.  I want to be completely reliant on myself.  Yes, the thought of spending the night alone in the woods in the middle of nowhere scares the crap out of me.  But how empowered (and maybe a little tired) will I feel when I have made it through that first night.. or second… or tenth.

5. Spiritual Enlightenment: This is a spiritual journey for me.  I have endured more responsibility and tragedy than your average 27-year-old.  I’m always healing and will continue to through this journey and beyond.  This will be a time to accept that life has turned out different from I expected, and that I’m ok with that.  I intend to meditate a lot and find gratitude in what my life has become although it is sometimes a beautiful mess.

6. Healing: As most know, I was involved in a freak backpacking accident almost 2 years ago.  My little brotherly died unexpectedly 5 years ago. And I had a baby 7 years ago.  These experiences have all been varying degrees of tragedy and triumph in my life.  I’m a free spirit that tamed myself at a far-to-young age. My little B is the most treasured of all gems, but my early 20’s have been different. My dear little brother.. I don’t think I will ever completely come to terms with this one. But I’ve tucked it in my back pocket for many years and just in the past year have began to face this one. And the accident… This one (probably on top of the other two) has been most impactful on me as a person. Physically I’ve had to deal with lasting injuries. Mentally I’ve endured PTSD and depression on small degrees.  I’ve spent many long hours taking steps to heal from this, but what other way to face my demons than to wonder off into the woods again.  While others might resort to some more accessible forms of relief from the tragedies of life, I’m turning to the mountains to purify, strengthen and heal my soul.

I appreciate you all following this incredible journey and look forward to sharing with you!