016: Say Goodbye to Sore Muscles

Want to avoid muscle soreness? It may be preventable! Next, on the Ready for Adventure segment, we’ll see if TSA is ready for Heather’s backpacking trip to Tuscon. On the Backpack Hack of the Week™ you’ll learn the French word for “Pony” and why it matters on the trail. Then we’ll answer a REAL listener question in Backpackers Q+A. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little Trail Wisdom from an American poet who must love you very much.

Show Notes: Episode 016


  • April 18-19, 2015
    opening weekend of National Park Week
  • Entrance fee is waived to all National Parks
  • Other fees like reservation and camping fees will still apply
  • Only 127 of our country’s 407 national parks charge an entrance fee, but not on April 18 +19, 2015!
  • The Nation’s Worst National Parks
  • Dept of Interior comeback photos
  • If you’re planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, you might consider the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands-more than 2,000 in all.

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Muscle Soreness on Backpacking Trips

It’s happened to all of us. You wake up the next morning after a day of hiking, and your body aches. Is the suffering preventable? We think so. Here are our top five ways to prevent muscle soreness on backpacking trips.

  1. Do a shake down hike 2-3 days before the trip. This gives your body a chance to recover and be ready for the exact same activity—which you’ll be better prepared for!
  2. Stretch. After about 15-20 minutes on the trail, when you’re ready to grab your water bottle, stop, take off your pack and do a full body stretching routing. Start at the top and work your way down.
  3. Protein is the building block of tissue, so be sure you’ve planned protein into your meals. (Beans, tuna, chicken and beef jerky) Along with protein, be sure to hydrate.
  4. Vitamin C (already in lots of drink mixes): It’s essential for the restoration of collagen, which helps to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down.
  5. Rub muscles with arnica salve. Sierra Sage makes a dreamy Arnica Salve just for backpackers to use on those sore spots (everyones sore spots are different!)

 Medical disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I am not dispensing medical advice. I’m just sharing general information that is relevant to backpacking.

If you have methods you use to prevent muscle soreness on backpacking trips, we’d love to hear what works for you.

Ready for Adventure: Gabe Zimmerman Trail

You’re flying out to Tuscon Arizona for a two day business trip. You’ve wanted to do some desert exploring, and this trip to Arizona provides the perfect opportunity for an overnight backpacking trip. You found a short section of the recently completed (Dec 16, 2011) 800 mile Arizona Trail, called The Gabe Zimmerman Trail and it goes north to Colossal Cave Mountain Park. About 4 miles in, 4 miles back out, according to locals.

  • Bring a 40-45 liter pack so I can use it as a carry-on
  • A small two man tent, a sleeping bag liner or fleece sleeping bag, 10 essentials (including sunscreen and sunglasses)
  • Bandana to keep cool, wool buff to keep my hair from getting dusty or to keep dust out of my mouth
  • Stoveless backpacking trip: Buy food on the way out of Tucson
  • Bagels + Cream cheese, pepperoni, a couple Justins Almond Butter Packets, an apple (since it’s a short trip), granola bars

Although you recognize the benefits of hiking with others, you’ll be doing this hike alone.

  • Check in with family
  • Leave a trip plan under car seat
  • Not a remote area, or a long trip, so the risk is really low
  • Check cell coverage map

During your pre-trip research you discover that no camping can be done on the Gabe Zimmerman Trail, but there are camp sites at the Colossal Cave Mountain Park, which is just 4 miles from the trail head. When you checked the website, you found that it’s $5 a night, and the cave tour is $13.

  • Always a good idea bring some extra cash, especially smaller bills to pay for small fees.

Temperatures for late March are typically HIGHS in the upper 70s and LOWS in the low 50s

  • Leave down puffy at home
  • Bring fleece jacket

Water sources along the Arizona Trail are monitored and reported on frequently. You find that natural water sources along the Gabe Zimmerman section are unpredictable and not good to drink.

  • I’ll pack enough water to get me through the 4 miles—probably 2 liters
  • Most of this hike will be exposed, not under the shade of trees. I’ll need to drink frequently, drink when I arrive at Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and then refill for the next day.
  • Not going to worry too much about electrolytes

The hike will be neither strenuous nor hot, however, you will be dusty. Your flight leaves that night. Any plans for hygiene before your flight?

  • Change back into clean clothes I packed from business trip

When you go through security, the TSA agent tells you that your tent stakes will not be allowed through the check point. You’ve already been through security on the way to AZ with them and no one gave you a hard time. What do you do?

  • Be courteous and kind and respectful
  • Ask if it’s too late to check your bag
  • Roll with the punches, and give them your tent stakes
  • Maybe contact the tent company, tell them your story and they may be able to help you out
  • TSA prohibited items

Backpack Hack of the Week™: DIY Bidet

  • There are significant benefits to using a bidet on the trail
  • Bidet offers better personal hygiene and cleaning
  • You’ll greatly reduce the impact you have on the environment (because you’re using less toilet paper!)
  • Won’t have to carry baby wipes (which are NOT compostable)
  • Bidet: French word for “pony”

Backpackers Q +A: Motivation and Backpacking with Children

  • Two different trips with our kids
  • “This was my first backpacking trip, and I hope it will be my last.”
  • On the very next hike that we did, it was more of the same attitude
  • Then we got to a clearing with an abandoned tarp from logging.
  • “Finally, we’re doing something that’s fun!”
  • Every child has their own motivation on the trail.
  • For our 10 year old, he found happiness in knowing that we were going to do something productive
  • For our other children, it’s something different, that we had to discover along the way.
  • Once you discover that spark, you have the opportunity to fan that spark until it’s a flame.
  • Other things he may enjoy on the trail could be: setting up a hammock, whittling, collecting firewood, building a small dam in a creek, finding bugs and building a house for them, and eating m&ms

Trail Wisdom

“If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

―Mary Oliver