Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Stay Organized When Camping

I have to admit that I am the least organized person I know. I seriously need to declutter my house, my car, and my office, but one area I have to keep organized is my backpack. When I come in from a long day out on the trail- my feet are singing with pain, my legs are happy to hit the sitting position--- I really don't want to mess around with my food situation. A hungry mountain girl is definitely not a happy mountain girl. Here are some tips that seem to help me when camping:

Camping Food

  • Ziplock meals into small ziplock bags- include everything needed for that meal in that one zippy. powdered milk, bouillon, etc.
  • Ziplock all breakfasts into the "breakfast" ziplock bag (a bigger ziplocked bag) and all lunches into the "lunch" bag, etc., etc. One person can be responsible for the breakfast bag, one for the lunches, and so and so forth.
  • Keep all the camping bowls, cups, utensils, etc in one area or compartment of your backpack. This way there is no fumbling around trying to find that darned spoon.
  • Always, always, always put things back into the same spot they came from. This will help reduce cognitive demands when backpacking brain sets in :)
  • Don't underestimate the power of powdered drinks. A little powdered hot chocolate or Gatorade can make a rough day 5,000 times better. I keep an entire ziplock bag for drinks.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Hang a Bear Bag

I first learned to hang a bear bag at Boy Scout camp, where every single tiny bit of food needed to be hung in order to avoid a raccoon problem at night. While we were still in bear country area, they weren't have as much of a problem as the raccoons and skunks were.

I literally had two raccoons pick up my half packed backpack and drag it off into the woods howling. Luckily back then I could run faster than a raccoon- now days I think I need to I hang things right.

The bear hang

Here is the skinny on keeping your camp bear or raccoon proof:

  • Cook away from camp (200 ft)
  • Don't cook your smelliest meal out in the woods (i.e., fish, etc.)
  • Pour out things like pasta water into a sump hole (more to come on this later)
  • Put all your food- even wrapped granola bars into your bear bag

How to Hang the Bear Bag

  • Food and cooking utensils/dishes etc (I hang my dishes too)
  • 75 foot parachute cord or rope
  • Food sack (I really like my bright yellow Sea to Summit bag- It helps me find the bag again)

How to:
  • Find a tree at least 200 ft from camp
  • Find a branch on a tree that is at least 15-20 feet off the ground with no other branches below it
  • Tie a rock or other weighted item to one end
  • Toss the item over the branch
  • Retie your food bag to the end
  • Raise the food bag
  • Tie off the rope as high as you can to the tree
The bear hang

I'm using a permanent bear hang here, but the principle is the same.

The bear hang

I swear I just randomly invented this knot. I just started twisting and tieing things and voila! It's probably like a half hitch or something...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Exodus Family

When I first stumbled upon the Exodus Family on twitter I was not only impressed with their travel bug ways and the adventurous lifestyle they live, I was truly astonished to hear they do it all with a wee one in tow!

This three person family tackles traveling, hiking, camping, and living as a three person unit. They're fun with tons of personality. Truly great to read about their travels across the US.

Below you will see our interview where the Exodus Family offers tips for getting out as a family and their trip across the States. Don't forget to check out their blog, read about their trip, and check in on twitter. Good peeps I tell ya. Good peeps.

Tell us a little bit about the Exodus family…

Exodus Family came about when Rolf and I first met. We were both nature loving nomadic spirits. We knew we wanted to start a family early in our relationship and we knew we wanted to keep of love of adventure and travel alive. We found out we were pregnant one month before leaving for a ten-week trek through Australia so it was the perfect beginning to “Exodus Family." Rolf loves testing his survival skills, learning about plants and animals, and working on bushcraft. Jen loves trail running, endurance sports, and finding peace in nature. Tayden loves the calmness of nature and learning about all the new textures, scents, sights, and sounds.

Tell us a little bit about what inspires you to bring your son along on your outdoor adventures…

Rolf and I both love being outside, it gives us a sense of freedom and peace. We want Tayden to grow up loving nature just like we did. Furthermore, Tayden is 100% allergic to the indoors! He loves being outside and he too even at his young age finds a calmness in nature. We also believe that a child is able to learn a lot about who they are as a person by being in nature and experiencing life outside.

How long have you both been living this outdoorsy lifestyle?

This is a hard question to put a number to. We both grew up outdoors so we have been enjoying outdoor activities for many years. Rolf has a few years on me and has had some pretty epic adventures, but we both enjoy nature in our own ways. Rolf loves long survival desert hikes and I love being out for exceptionally long trail runs. We both like to test our limits and love to try new outdoor sports. We are definitely novice level in many areas!

Tell us a little bit about Expedition America 2011. What made you decide to do such a big trip?

Rolf and I knew that regardless of parenthood we would still dedicate our time to exploring the world. With the birth of a baby comes changes to exploration, but it is still a possible feat. When Tayden was approaching his first birthday, Rolf and I were making plans for our next big adventure. We needed something that would be an easy transition for Tayden so he would grow to love exploration and something that felt comfortable as a family.

After discussing some ideas and reading Last Child in the Woods, Rolf and I decided the best option was to explore America’s wilderness areas and take this opportunity to bring youth back to nature. Our mission is to inspire, motivate, educate, and empower other families to get outside and explore America.

We realized that so many families dream of far off destinations and they forget the beauty that is in America. America is filled with natural wonders and we felt it would be the perfect setting to introduce Tayden to all there is to see and explore.

To find the ideal route, Rolf and I pinpointed some key areas in the United States that we had to see and explore, we knew we wanted to explore every state over the course of one year, so playing a quick game of connect the dots we found a route that will wind us 37,000 miles throughout the US and take us through all the amazing wilderness areas from Alaska to Maine.

This is by no means a family vacation, it has taken an exceptional amount of time and planning to figure out the best plan as a family and the best way to reach thousands of people so that we can in fact raise awareness, bring support to our charities and partners, and inspire more families to reconnect with nature.

Rolf and I look forward to the families we will meet on the trail, the friendships formed, learning about nature, and teaching Tayden and other kids the value of spending time outside. This is going to be a life changing trip for Exodus Family and one we hope to share with other families across America.

As for the duration of the trip it turned into a year since there are 50 states to cover and 52 weeks in the year, we figured with some extra play in some states and a little less in others we would be looking at right around 1 year to complete this journey. We wanted to make sure we had ample time to really explore different areas that we may never get back to see, spend time with friends and family, meet new friends on the trail, and not feel like we have deadlines that must be met. Most importantly though it is a time for us to reconnect as a family and enjoy every moment together as we learn and experience life and watch Tayden grow.

What is the longest trip you’ve completed as a family to date?

Our longest journey to date was a 10-week trek throughout Australia. We flew to Oz when I was 8 weeks pregnant and spent time in the Outback, Sydney, Perth, Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef, on a deserted island, the Daintree Rainforest, and on a 40’ catamaran. We basically did anything my pregnant body could endure while in Australia. As for our longest journey with Tayden it has been a weekend camping trip when he was 8-months old. This will definitely be the biggest adventure to date.

Often people dream of taking a year off to travel or have a great adventure/trip, but feel like they can’t or shouldn’t leave their full time work. How do you guys balance what you do for work with having fun?

This is a common question for many families who have decided to leave the typical “American dream” to pursue their own dream. Rolf and I have never been people of great needs or wants. We live a pretty simple life, I am a stay-at-home mom, and Rolf works at Whole Foods so there is not much for us to “leave” so to speak. As a family we have to prioritize what is most important to us and exploration and time together is top of our list so we make everything else in our lives work into that type of lifestyle.

We also figure that work will always be there and that our time to travel and explore will be limited.

Any advice or inspiration for families who dream of going on trips like your Expedition America?

Just find your passion, dream and envision what you would love to do, and make it a reality. So many people say “I wish” I could do that and we say “what is stopping you”. The only difference between us and others is that we decided to take the big leap to make our dream a reality. You just have to do it! Make the commitment and go with your heart and dream.

Any tips for families who may just want to try a day trip or an overnight with young children?

If it is your first outing with a young child take it slow, let them learn and explore. As parents don’t have any grand expectations, you may be out for 5 minutes or 5 hours. We have taken many trips that we had big expectations for such as snowshoeing for the day or an overnight camping trip, but when we arrived to our destination, Tayden was not feeling it so we had to go home.

A crying baby just tortures everyone involved so make sure the baby is comfortable and happy, that you have enough extra gear for the kids to stay comfortable, and don’t force anything it will take the fun away from the kids and make them shy away from outdoor adventures.

Also be sure to educate yourself about nature, know the “rules” (how to stay warm, make shelter, find food, bears and wildlife, and any other dangers you could encounter). When it comes to safety you can never have too much food or water. Take the necessities for yourself, but make sure this is a fun trip for all involved and it doesn’t turn into a survival situation.

Just for fun…

If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

Rolf wants to be able to talk to animals. I always thought being a mom was a superpower :-)

Favorite place to camp/hike/paddle/bike?

Colorado is a pretty epic state and has AMAZING trails and views so we are lucky to live in such a great state, but Australia is probably still our number one since it was so unique. Prefer uphill or downhill? We both agree on uphill!

Favorite person to ride/hike/camp with?

Rolf of course! Even though we are married we really do love spending all of our time together.

If you were a piece of outdoor equipment or clothing what would it be and why?

Rolf and I both said hammock. I wish we had different choices, but we both love the idea of being under a beautiful tree with a nice brook flowing beneath us and the sun shining down. Plus we would bring rest to the hikers!

Getting Comfortable in the Tent

This is how Misty gets comfortable in the tent by herself:

Misty sleeping in the tent

Now, if I could only find the right spot...

Misty sleeping in the tent


Misty sleeping in the tent


Misty sleeping in the tent

Not quite right...

Misty sleeping in the tent

Wait what's that awesome smell?

Misty sleeping in the tent

Time to shake

Misty sleeping in the tent


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Things Learned This Weekend

Cold Drink

I learned many things this weekend- all of which I could not have learned within the confines of my house. The list in no particular order:
  • Misty cannot look into a camera lens. It's basically physically impossible.
  • Even the best tents cannot withstand torrential rain for longer than 10 hours.
  • It still gets very, very cold in the mountains in June.
  • I really like macaroni and cheese from a box.
  • Fire is the most psychologically uplifting thing
  • I prefer the outdoors to four walls, the sound of water over traffic, trees over people.

Camping in the Rain

We escaped this weekend for a night of sleeping under the stars. Well, we couldn't exactly see any stars due to the torrential downpours and sporadic thunder and lightening storms, but we managed to escape.

As @LucyDakota replied to me on twitter before we headed out - "some of my best memories are from when I camped in the rain."

Big Agnes tent

Mainly I have been so focused on being spectacular at my nine to five job that I have been getting away from the fun things that make life. So in an effort of staying true to ourselves and making memories worth having- we left for a weekend of the outdoors. We tried out our new Big Agnes tent, explored a new camping area, tried some new camp food out, and made more plans for our upcoming week off.

So new posts to come!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Finally Outdoors

Our Tent in the Whites

Hey all- how have you been? We've been great here at Betty Mountain Girl. In fact- lately we've been spending so much time outside- train running, biking, and hiking- that we haven't had much time to keep you updated on our adventures.

Luckily we're off for the weekend and our goals include- having way too much fun camping in the rain and updating our camping posts. Things to expect come Monday:
  • new camping recipes
  • new gear review of our Big Agnes tent- whoot-whoot!
  • new pics
  • more rants from Misty
So see you in a few!