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[Darth Yoga] The Weasel goes on an Adventure!


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So, let's get out into the woods! I have been doing challenges with the assassins for over a year, and my fitness goals are still more assassin-y than anything else, but with the weather warming up (please?) I am increasingly fixated on hiking/camping.

 

I live in a relatively rural area in central Massachusetts, in a sort-of communal-ish house (a poly/queer extended family), on 18 acres of mostly wild land. I am self-employed and work from home when not travelling, so I get to spend a lot of time wandering around in the woods behind my house with my dog. I've gone on occasional day-hikes at the nearby mountain (well, barely a mountain) but I've gotten the urge to do some more long-distance hiking. My life won't presently accomodate more than a few days, but that is a good place to start. First adventure is the Midstate Trail, because there is a trailhead right down the road from my house. No dog on the longer hikes, unfortunately. She loves running around in the woods, but she punks out after a few hours.

 

THE PLAN

 

  1. Conditioning! Wear a ~35lb pack on my daily dog walks, total of ~4hr/week. I've been doing this for a few days, with no trouble, but it is only about a half hour walk.
  2. Get my camping gear sorted! I've got a cheap camp hammock and tarp, which I like very much. Backyard testing last night shows my current insulation is comfortable to around 30F, but needs some modification for comfort and ease of setup. (I make/modify most of my gear. I am cheap.) Overall, I have a fair idea of what I'd need to pack for the trip, but I need to actually get stuff together.
  3. Test run! What kind of miles can I reasonably do on a trail? I have no idea. So I plan to start with a 2-day trip, just go as far as seems reasonable, camp wherever I end up, and then come home. Calibration! This should happen next Tuesday/Wednesday, depending on weather and life.
  4. Do this thing! Plan and execute a 4-5 day hike along the Midstate trail, out and back. I'm aiming for something around May 7, but we'll see.

 

ALSO, I will be maintaining baseline healthy habits:

  1. Yoga every morning. About 20 minutes of Ashtanga.
  2. Take my vitamins/etc morning and night. 
  3. Strength training three times a week. I'd been doing the "Starting Strength" barbell program, but I may do abbreviated home workouts for a while. It isn't my #1 priority right now.
  4. "Healthy adult meals" - 3/day. For a while now I've been making these sort of standardized meals, with roughly 1c veggies, 1/2c meat/egg, and 1/2c starch/legume/fruit. Often pre-packed into little 2c containers, but sometimes ad hoc. Sometimes just one is enough, sometimes I'll have two. Three portions like this is only about half my total food intake. The rest is just "eat when hungry". On a longer hike, however, I'll eat whatever is convenient, tasty, and full of calories.
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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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On 4/22/2018 at 10:29 PM, Darth Yoga said:

"Healthy adult meals"

 

This made me chuckle because how often does our diet resemble what a child might eat?

 

I also love hiking and camping, which is why I feel at home with this guild. Welcome to the group, and I hope you enjoy your stay.

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Who am I? -- My NF Character

Current Challenge: WolfDreamer Embraces His Wild Poet

Past Challenges: 

Spoiler

Winter is ComingWolfen Strengthens His Heart, Body, Mind, and Spirit, Wolfen Becomes One of the PeopleWolfen Strengthens His ChakrasWolfen Welcomes Summer and Gets Primal, Soulcon and Spartan, Wolfen Develops Mental ToughnessWolfen Joins the Wander SocietySoulcon, Spartan, School, and Stranger ThingsWolfen Becomes a Warrior EliteWolfen Goes Here and There and Back AgainWolfen Becomes a Soulcon Warrior EliteWolfen Returns to His RootsWolfen Wanders in Soul, Spirit, and BodyWolfen Owns the DayWolfen Searches for His Wild Heart, Wolfen Runs for His LifeWolfen Hits the TrailsWolfen Becomes an Explorer and Joins the ResistanceWolfen Goes Back to the SourceWolfen Begins the Hero's JourneyWolfDreamer Returns to the People,  WolfDreamer Pushes BackWolfDreamer PrioritizesBurpees, Books, and BrainworkBurpees, Books, Brainwork, and BodyworkWolfDreamer Masters the Four ElementsWolfDreamer Continues to Master the Four ElementsWolfDreamer Returns to SpartaWolfDreamer Returns to Middle EarthWolfDreamer Continues His Middle Earth AdventureWolfDreamer and the FallWolfDreamer Forges His Own PathWolfDreamer Has HopeWolfDreamer Returns to Middle EarthWolfDreamer Reads Harder, Breathes Harder, and Journals More

I'd rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.” -- Jack London

“I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love.” -- Leo Tolstoy

"I feel love rising in my chest again
Rising like a burning sun into the day..." -- Gungor, "Hurricane"

"...wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17b

 

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Children would not be allowed to eat some of the things I eat. :)  To be fair, I've been testing out backpacking recipes, which are all about maximum caloric density, but for breakfast I had butter sandwiches. (Super tasty. That dense brick-like German bread - volkornbrot - and so much butter mixed with honey. Super good.)

 

I did eat three reasonably healthy adult meals yesterday, did yoga, and a short barbell workout. I was "on vacation" from working out all last week (because my workout space is covered in camping gear) and WOW, I forget how much I rely on it as an antidepressant. I'd been feeling really blah and yucky for the past few days, for no apparent reason, and halfway through my workout, suddenly I am all smiles and everything is great. Also did a bunch of yardwork, mostly pruning, and got a tiny bit too much sun, but got the job done. More today.

 

Tested my hammock insulation last night - quite comfy to 30F. Just one quick thing to stitch on the sleeping bag and that is good to go. Yay!

 

Getting the camp gear together. I think Ye Olde Canvas & Leather Internal Frame Backpack (with more than half a pound of metal internal frame) is just too small for my bulky discount sleeping bag/etc. It is maybe 35L?

 

0424180916a.jpg

 

So, option #2: This enormous (over 60 L) oft-repaired bag, of a significantly younger vintage. So while it is made of lighter materials, it is so huge it is still a pound and a half heavier. It has the benefit of being highly adjustable, and vastly more water resistant despite being patched a dozen times. (Both of these are scavenged, not originally mine.) It needs a little additional repair, and is missing its top lid so I need to rig up some type of flap or something to cover the drawstring hole.

 

0424180917.jpg

 

The only other gear I want to make is SOME kind of simple camp-booties, so I can walk around without getting my warm fuzzy sleeping socks wet. 

 

Conditioning - Took about an hour walk with the dog, with ~30lb pack. About half on trail, half off. Seems like every time I do this, about 20 minutes in, I start mentally crossing items off my gear list, like "Surely I can lighten this load... Who needs rain paints anyway?" But I figure I'll get used to it. And over time I will get better, lighter, gear.

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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On 4/22/2018 at 10:29 PM, Darth Yoga said:

I make/modify most of my gear. I am cheap.

 

So cool! Please feel free to share pics!

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Yesterday's project: Replacement top-lid for the big backpack that had lost its original. (Fairly weathertight bag, except the big drawstring hole at the top!)

 

Single zippered pocket, buckles to match what was on the bag (scavenged off the hip belt and shoulder straps of an exernal frame pack, that were so stiff with age they were like solid plastic, and also from a random gear strap). Material is a tent fly from a long-dead tent.

 

0428180941.jpg

 

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This was partly just a practical project - I want to use the bag - but also an experiment to see if I want to make my own pack at some point. This bag is just a beast - far too large for my needs, and more than 4.5lb. Results of that experiment were that yes, I probably will make a bag eventually, but (1) I want to wait to see what I like and dislike about this bag and (2) my sewing is far too wonky to bother planning with too much precision. So no rush on that. 

 

Next gear project should be improved sleeping insulation. I'm in a hammock, so that is a quilt with a little foot-box sewn in, and an "underquilt" - sort of a hammock cozy to keep your underside warm. A sleeping bag pressed flat between you and a thin nylon hammock provides almost no warmth, so you want to strap the insulation to the outside of the hammock instead. With decent materials ($50) I should be able to replace my current 4.2lb set (sewn out of old sleeping bag & ikea blanket) with something closer to 2lb. For both cost and weight (& bulk) I've been trying out combining ~40F conventional (synthetic) insulation, with vapor barrier & reflective material, and it keeps me snuggly warm to 30F. I'll explore going lower next winter.
 

I've been trying out various ideas for ground sleeping - but, ugh, I find the hammock so comfy I often sleep in one at home, so any reasonably cheap & light sleeping pad is just so vastly inferior. Every experiment has ended with "screw this, I want my hammock". So I'll worry about that if and when I ever camp somewhere besides  New England forests that are so ideally suited to hammocking. 

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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Also, in tangentially camping gear related news -

 

Because we are nerds, my family does historical reenactment. German renaissance (SCA) and also revolutionary war reenactment (so that is 1776, an approximation of the militia group from our town). The Rev War group is participating in a big military history event next month, setting up period encampments. My partner is the company doctor, and I am his assistant, so I have been "volun-told" to stay overnight in the medical tent to make sure no one walks off with the gear. Oh man, it is the opposite of backpacking in every way. This is camping for someone with a (theoretical) horse cart and servants. Don't actually have the horse and cart, but damn, we would need one. HUGE canvas tent, wooden chests of gear, and a wood-framed rope bed. Cast iron cookware. Not everyone is camping out, and many of them are bringing modern camp trailers/etc that will be parked a discreet distance away, but I figured since we want to have period-appropriate kit for display purposes anyway, I might as well use it! So I've been assembling the various odds and ends I'd need for that. Yesterday I made a vaguely period-appropriate wool hat to wear to bed. 

 

0428180946b.jpg

 

An approximation of a "Monmouth cap", in undyed wool. The instructions for the decreases confused me, so they don't line up right, but no one but another knitter would ever notice. It ought to be lightly felted, but I've never done felting and didn't want to try to figure out how to do that or how much it would shrink. Besides this yarn (lopi) is so fuzzy it nearly felts just by wearing it. Anyway, these are not strictly authentic historical reenactment groups. The militia is what they call a "10 foot rule" group - if it looks mostly okay from 10 feet away, it is fine.

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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Your backpack flap even coordinates with the other colours reasonably well!

 

I had a book out of the library (sadly, since discarded) called Trail Life (I believe it is this one). It had a sort of rough pattern on how to make a backpack and a sleeping quilt that you might find useful if you want to make your own stuff.

 

Does your sleeping cap have little ears?

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Ear flaps would be adorable, but no. It could be just a smidge longer, but if I pull it down it covers my ears, and the brim is a doubled thickness. My normal daily wear sleep hat is the most awesome ever, floppy hat with pompoms (thanks @Odonate!) Words cannot do it justice. I'll have to get a picture of it later.

 

In other clothing-related news - I'm accumulating a good supply of hand-me-down and thrift store clothing for camping. The last serious gap was lightweight (fast-drying) cargo pants, and I'd been regularly checking thrift stores with no success. But my housemate is very fond of that type of pants, and just a smidge bigger than me, so I asked if she had a pair she'd outgrown. Yes, she did! They are a little big, but that is better than a little small. They are the zip-off convertible to shorts type.

 

I also found at the thrift store yesterday a nice "weather resistant" shell, of some expensive outdoor clothing brand, for $4. Yay! I might modify it to be a full zip up the front, instead of just a short zip, but for now it is fine. And picked up a pair of comfy lightweight swim trunks for warmer weather. Also as it is getting on into spring, the Walmart had poly/wool longjohns in the clearance bin. Still a little pricey for me ($7 each) but good to have. And black, which is nice, because my others are white and seriously scungy looking.

 

I could still use better rain gear, and light wool socks, but I am definitely ready for my test hike this Tuesday. Weather reports look good! Super excited!

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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FIRST MISSION COMPLETED!

 

I did my 1.5 day test-hike last Tuesday. Very successful. 

 

image.thumb.png.46ff93e39907c286278cd2b9bced44f1.png

 

OBJECTIVE #1 - CALIBRATE MILEAGE

I successfully established that the first day was significantly too much. the first day was a five miles of fairly flat hiking through the Audubon sanctuary, and then a steady ascent up Mt Wachusett in the late morning (about 1000ft total elevation gain over 2 miles) and decent in the afternoon. That was all fine. The next flat-ish stretch gets me to Redemption Rock, which would have been a good spot to camp. Next time, I'll stop there, but at the time I was still feeling pretty fresh and had hours of daylight left. The next bit is Crow Hills, which is not an easy hike to hit late in the day. The terrain is a lot more difficult. So I found a spot to camp prior to getting to the peak. But I definitely overdid it. Getting over Crow Hill the next morning was really difficult, and I tweaked my left knee a little on the descent. I'm still only 95% recovered, a week later. (Getting older really sucks.)

 

So I'd say a good ballpark figure for me currently, with a 30lb pack, over this terrain, is to not plan to go much beyond 10 miles and 1500ft elevation gain per day. At that pace, a four-day trip would take me to the NH border, and a 7 day trip to Mt Monadnock. But I'll try to get in some more day hies on Mt Wachusett, with a 30lb pack, to see if I can up my endurance a little. Also I'd like to try and get the pack weight down closer to 20lb, without the cold-weather gear.

 

OBJECTIVE #2 - TEST GEAR

I had two gear problems - one was that I accidentally left my hammock suspension straps at home. That was stupid, but that is why I always bring extra rope. The other was that I brought clothes for cold & wet, but did NOT bring anything for 80 degree weather. Wow.  I was not expecting that at all. But even without it being THAT hot, I still would have at least wanted a summer-weight long-sleeved shirt.

 

I also determined that I will need more durable shoes. My water shoes were super comfy to hike in, and have great grip on rocks and uneven terrain. I have fairly tough feet, and really dislike most shoes, so I don't want support or even much padding. Just a thin grippy sole to protect my feet from serious abrasion and stabbing, ideally extending up over the toes. Initially my only complaint with the water shoes was that I might want more ventilation on the top of the foot, which would be an easy modification. But by the end of the day, I noticed that there was substantial wear on the soles. Another day or two hiking like that and they'd wear right through and fall apart. Damn. So back to the drawing board there.

 

Also, I decided to order a cheap set of hiking poles - collapsible ones I can stuff into my pack. At this point I only see the need for one pole, and just for stream crossings, seriously uneven terrain, and steep descents. But the pair was only a little more than buying one, so I figure MAYBE I'd want two at some point, or my partner can use one.

 

Biggest gear surprise was that I'm tempted to just bring a bivy on the next test hike. My hammock setup is super comfy but not great for stealth camping, and by the time I stopped I just wanted to lay down ANYWHERE. 

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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On the other hand - I have NOT been eating healthy adult meals at all this past week, and I think I went to the gym once. 

 

I did go to the gym, for a short workout, yesterday, and I shouldn't have trouble getting back into that. For food, I might just try to make less-bad choices. We'll see. 

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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SIDE QUEST - The Search for Summer Shoes. 


I am SUPER fussy about shoes. Basically, I don't like wearing shoes, and want to wear the least possible shoe I can reasonably manage. For my test hike I wore cheap water shoes, which is what I generally have been wearing for shorter hikes, and I'd say the soles would last less than 25 miles of solid hiking on that type of terrain, before wearing through.  So I was in search of a replacement. Something super lightweight, with a thin flexible sole. Something that protects my feet from abrasion and such, but doesn't interfere with the free movement of my foot. Something that gives reasonable traction when maneuvering quickly on irregular surfaces, and isn't going to flop around or slip off my foot. Something that doesn't have buckles or toggles or knots in places that make it brutally uncomfortable for me to sit cross legged or on my heels on a hard floor. And for summer, something that I can wade through mucky puddles in, that will be comfortable to wear wet, and dry quickly. Ideally, I'd want some type of closed toe sandal, but a well-ventilated shoe would work.

 

If I was willing/able to spend $100+ I would have a variety of options in minimalist footwear. But for now, I'm trying these, which I found on sale for $25:

 

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These are actually really close to ideal. I am suspicious of their durability, but the soles feel like a much tougher rubber than the cheap water shoes. They are extremely comfortable. If they last the summer, I will be thrilled with them. In fact, if they hold up well on my next test hike, I will be tempted to go buy two more pairs. Even if $100 shoes were  more than 4x as durable, I'm reluctant to wade through swamps in $100 shoes. Cheaper shoes, by the time they start falling apart, usually they smell so bad you are glad to get rid of them. If not for the swamp-funk, I'd seriously considering saving up for these:

terraflexforestgreen-1024x665.jpg

https://xeroshoes.com/shop/terraflex/terraflex-men/

 

Not sure how fast-drying they are... But they are available from Amazon Prime with free returns.... I don't know. Possibly, at some point.

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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LAST WEEK'S UPDATE! (which for some reason didn't post before)

 

Mostly I've been super busy with other stuff. The only progress at all related to hiking was gear related. I rigged up a light mylarized foam pad for summer-weight underneath-insulation for my hammock, which functioned quite well during testing. I'd really like a lighter sleeping bag/quilt, but I am a little reluctant to spend too much more money right now. I did pick up some heavy-ish ripstop nylon (maybe 2.4oz?) from the "everything is $3/yd" discount fabric store, that I'd like to make into a lighter pack. The pack I have is huge, and more than 4.5lb, which is a little ridiculous given the rest of my camping gear (not including food, water, and clothes) weighs barely 12lb total, with 30F insulation.

 

I did barbell workouts three times last week - wow, it helps my mood SO MUCH. I've dealt with chemical depression for most of my adult life, and light exercise doesn't seem to make much difference, but heavy lifting is the best drugs I've ever been on. :)I occasionally look up info on energy systems and glycolytic pathways and ADP-PC, etc etc. because the effect is really specific, but I really have no idea. Heavy compound lifts, generally around 5 reps, with generous (2-3 minute) rests between sets. If I stray too far from that, I don't get much of the antidepressant effect. Minimum effective dose seems to be about half an hour.

 

Also - shoe update: The new shoes are SUPER COMFY but kind of sweaty. They are made of something like neoprene, and not very breathable. I've removed the tongue, which helps some. I've also drastically modified my Xero shoes sandals. They are intended to be laced like huaraches, with a single lace secured to the sole at three points, but none of the tying methods I tried really felt secure enough to me for even light trail running. Not that they were going to fall off, but even tightly laced, they had too much play side-to-side. Especially when wet, stepping sideways on uneven surfaces. So I punched some additional holes in the soles and played around with different methods of lacing, eventually settling on this. I wound up stitching loops rather than just lacing and tying, to avoid knots in awkward places that dig into my feet and ankles when sitting or kneeling on hard surfaces.

 

0516181109a.jpg

 

I'd still prefer something with a closed toe, primarily to avoid catching the front flap of sole on small obstacles, but also for a little protection when kicking things. Something covering the heel would also be nice. Really, I wish Xero made something between their sneakers and sandals, but they are either full coverage or nothing. I suppose I will eventually make something.

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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WEEKEND ADVENTURE - Colonial Camping!

 

My family spent the weekend at the Military History Expo in Orange, MA. In addition to a wide variety of tanks, planes, and artillery on display, they had gotten a bunch of groups together to depict military encampments from different time periods. The WWI group had a huge setup with trenches and all that. Smaller displays for Vietnam and WWII. A whole lot of civil war folks. They did a variety of presentations and mock battles. Our little group does early revolutionary war, the militia from our town in Hubbardston, MA, around 1775. Some of us are interested in the military history aspect of it, others are more interested in other aspects of what life was like in that time period. (My partner is our "doctor" and has a display of medical equipment. One of the ladies researches period food and cooks for us.) A lot of the guys are just fascinated by black-powder guns, and want an excuse to get together and shoot the flintlock muskets.

 

Despite it being rainy the whole weekend, it went well! It is NOTHING like modern backpacking, of course. You've got cast-iron pots, huge canvas tents, tables, chairs, and even a few wooden-framed rope beds. It is SO MUCH gear. But I spent three nights in the "field hospital", which was a large canvas fly (so just a roof, not a tent with sides)  in the hospital rope bed, which aside from being too short for me, was more comfortable than my bed at home. The rain wasn't heavy, just a steady drizzle for most of the weekend, and our tents held up well. Cold and wet weather is easier to deal with in that clothing than hot weather. The clothes are fairly light linen, but SO MANY LAYERS.  But I did a huge amount of walking and hauling stuff around, and was so exhausted by the end of it. Today the only thing on the agenda is putting away the last of the gear, and doing laundry.

 

Best thing about it though was meeting the "Bloody Historical" team, who do professional historical presentations on pirates and various other themes. They were really impressive!

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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FINAL UPDATE

 

Well, all sorts of shit fell off my plate this time. The past few weeks have been pretty rough, but I am getting it back together.

 

But in the interests of completion, lets look at what I had intended for this challenge.

 

Quote

 

THE PLAN

  1. Conditioning! Wear a ~35lb pack on my daily dog walks, total of ~4hr/week. I've been doing this for a few days, with no trouble, but it is only about a half hour walk.
  2. Get my camping gear sorted! I've got a cheap camp hammock and tarp, which I like very much. Backyard testing last night shows my current insulation is comfortable to around 30F, but needs some modification for comfort and ease of setup. (I make/modify most of my gear. I am cheap.) Overall, I have a fair idea of what I'd need to pack for the trip, but I need to actually get stuff together.
  3. Test run! What kind of miles can I reasonably do on a trail? I have no idea. So I plan to start with a 2-day trip, just go as far as seems reasonable, camp wherever I end up, and then come home. Calibration! This should happen next Tuesday/Wednesday, depending on weather and life.
  4. Do this thing! Plan and execute a 4-5 day hike along the Midstate trail, out and back. I'm aiming for something around May 7, but we'll see.


 

 

 

1. Nope. Did it a few times, but have barely even walked the dog.

2. Camping gear is 75% sorted. I've got a light weight summer hammock-cozy. I didn't buy the insulation yet for a summer-weight quilt, but I can use my regular one. I still haven't decided if I should use the lighter pack, which fits all my gear but is really sized for someone much shorter than me, or the enormous pack which is more than twice as heavy but has adult-sized straps. I can just barely adjust the straps on the smaller pack to fit me, but need at least one short hike, like a mile or so with all my gear in it, before I am willing to switch

3. Test run COMPLETED! That was super helpful, and I am feeling pretty good about heading out.

4. Scheduling got hectic, but I have a firm plan to head out this Friday, through next Monday. North along the Midstate trail, basically as far as I get. I've got a rough idea of what miles I think I can cover, but I'm going to take it easy and enjoy it, and not push hard.

 

Quote

 

ALSO, I will be maintaining baseline healthy habits:

  1. Yoga every morning. About 20 minutes of Ashtanga.
  2. Take my vitamins/etc morning and night. 
  3. Strength training three times a week. I'd been doing the "Starting Strength" barbell program, but I may do abbreviated home workouts for a while. It isn't my #1 priority right now.
  4. "Healthy adult meals" - 3/day. For a while now I've been making these sort of standardized meals, with roughly 1c veggies, 1/2c meat/egg, and 1/2c starch/legume/fruit. Often pre-packed into little 2c containers, but sometimes ad hoc. Sometimes just one is enough, sometimes I'll have two. Three portions like this is only about half my total food intake. The rest is just "eat when hungry". On a longer hike, however, I'll eat whatever is convenient, tasty, and full of calories.

 

  1. Nope. Not even close. Maybe once a week?
  2. Nope.
  3. I haven't kept a careful tally, but maybe half-credit for doing some of my workouts. I'm getting back into the routine of it, but I took a fair amount of time off.
  4. Oh man, not even close. Maybe three times a week I had something with a vegetable.

 So, this went poorly, but okay. We get back up and try again.

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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