049: Mom’s Advice

Show Notes: Episode 049

Today on The First 40 Miles, Heather’s mom celebrates a milestone birthday and gets the spotlight! We share a letter she wrote to Heather that has some great backpacking advice. Then on the SUMMIT Gear Review, play music for days without recharging! On the Backpack Hack of the Week, you’ll learn how to use a common bathroom item to prep for your next trip.


Heather’s mom celebrates a milestone birthday this month, so we’re giving her the spotlight!

Letter written Sept 7, 2014

Top 5 List: Mom’s Prerogative, A Top 17 List

Dear Heather:

  1. Walk every day between now and then on uneven terrain that has up and down. Rocks to climb over. Places that are steep. Areas that have “exposure” (big drop-offs right next to the trail). Use your poles. There are muscles you don’t use walking around the neighborhood that you need for climbing along a mountain trail. And you need to be prepared psychologically for the terrain. NOTE: 10 miles a day is a long hiking day
  1. Get a pedometer. Hike in batches of a minimum of 3 miles a day. (You can stop to catch your breath, but do you have the strength to do that much in a morning or afternoon?) Check your exhaustion level.
  1. Collect the lightest and best gear possible (trekking poles, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking gear, stove, camel back). Borrow what you can. We love the Pocket Rocket stove. Your group will need 1 for every 2-3 people. 30lb pack sounds too heavy. You will be grateful for every ounce you leave behind. Then hike with the pack. Uphill will be hard. Very hard.
  1. Find the lightest and best pack possible. I love my Deuter ladies pack. You will be astounded by the difference a perfectly fitted pack can make. No weight on your shoulders, instead it’s on your hips.
  1. Check the weather. It looks like no rain in the forecast. Take as little rain gear as you can (it’s always heavy). But if there’s a chance of rain, you need to stay dry.
  1. You’re wise to do the “shake down” hikes as you will learn if you can go the distance and if you’re pack is too heavy. Boots don’t need to be “broken in” any more. But your feet do. Blisters and bruising are your enemies. Have moleskin with you and know how to use it.
  1. Pack “Vitamin I” for pain relief (ibuprofen). Call me about how to use it.
  1. Practice sleeping on the ground with the sleeping mat you’ve chosen. If you can’t sleep, hiking the next day will be tough. Consider Benadryl and maybe some earplugs if forest sounds keep you awake.
  1. Will you be “sleeping under the stars”? I hope so. Tents are heavy.
  1. Read blogs about hiking Mount Hood so you know the tough days and the easier days. Study a map of the area. Discover how much elevation gain each day. Keep it doable.
  1. Do everything you can to keep from any injury. The stronger and more experienced you are on uneven terrain the safer you’ll be. If you’re near a stream, soak your feet.
  1. Test all your gear in advance. Make sure you can handle everything. Especially become proficient in using trekking poles. And if you have to set up a tent, try that in advance and make sure you have all the pieces.
  1. Know your water sources each day. Never carry too much water (it’s heavy) but don’t; be caught without enough.
  1. Get ready to be smelly by the end of the hike. You don’t get to put fresh clean clothes on every day. Sorry but that’s the truth of backpacking. That’s why the shower when you get home is SO wonderful.
  1. Learn how to cross streams without getting your feet wet. Soggy feet can mess up the rest of the day.
  1. Have a song in your heart all day long.
  1. Don’t hike so fast you miss the beauty.

Let’s talk tonight!

Love, Mom

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Kala Brand Makala Waterman Uke


  • Aquila Super Nylgut strings
  • Varied color options
  • Plastic/Polycarbonate with nickle-plated gear tuners


  • Plays for hours without recharging
  • Works in the dark
  • Does not work while submerged underwater


  • 14 ounces
  • With carrying bag (included) it’s an even pound


  • Waterproof
  • Very durable


  • $56.99


  • Great instrument for adventurers!
  • Less resonant, which means a little quieter for outdoor use (LNT)
  • You may want to bring along song sheet or chord sheet
  • Doctor Uke
  • gStrings tuning app

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Bathroom Pack Scale

While standing on the bathroom scale, weigh yourself with your pack on. Then take off your pack and weigh yourself. Subtract the little number from the big number and you have your pack weight!

Base weight (commonly used by thru hikers) is pack weight minus food, fuel and water.

ALERT! Kickstarter Campaign for GobiGear SegSac

Trail Wisdom

“Nature, like a most indulgent mother, has placed her best gifts out in the open, like air, water and the earth itself.”

-Thomas More