058: A Glorious Night Hike

Show Notes: Episode 058

Today on The First 40 Miles, if you’ve ever listened to the Christmas story from the Bible and felt some connection, we’ll share some good reasons why you may feel that way. On the SUMMIT Gear Review, we’ll show you a simple way to deal with the moody weather of December. For the Backpack Hack of the Week, find out where we dig up all our best backpacking stories. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little Christmas yuletide.


Our family’s hiking plans for Christmas

What happened on our Black Friday hike



Day events?

Top 5 Elements of the Christmas Story in the Bible that Hikers and Backpackers Can Relate To

Best place to find the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ is in the Bible in Luke chapter 2.

“On earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)

  • Trail Kinship
  • Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
  • I think if backpackers have one anthem, or creed in common, it’s this—“On earth peace, goodwill toward men”
  • On the trail we are all equal. The trail is the great equalizer. We’re all trying to find something—whether it’s achievement, adventure, clarity or connection. It’s not about competing with each other, but encouraging each other.

“Let us now go” (Luke 2:15)

  • After hearing the angels announce the birth of Christ, they wanted to be part of this miracle.
  • We don’t know how far they walked, but it was probably a few miles from where they started. Nice night hike!
  • Has anyone ever told you about a trail that was so miraculous, so amazing, so breathtaking, that you wanted to leave right away? Then you know how the shepherds felt when they said, let us go now!

“…and wrapped him in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12)

  • And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  • We sleep differently in the wild than we do in our beds at home. At home we tend to sprawl under our comforters, surrounded by air that remains at the constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • But on the trail, we sleep a little more like a swaddled infant, in primitive conditions, far from sterile.
  • This is a part of the birth of Christ that every backpacker can relate to. Rustic and rough, yet complete and enough.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad” (Luke 2:17)

  • The shepherds were probably the kind of people you would love to have on the trail with you. I imagine that the long hours on the hillside, tending sheep, made them pretty good at the art of storytelling. It probably helped the time pass.
  • In fact, the bible says that all who heard their recounting of the angels and the birth of the baby marveled as they listened to the retelling of the events.
  • And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
  • And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
  • And every adventure that a backpacker goes on, has a story. With some stories, it doesn’t matter how many times someone tells it, it’s still just as enchanting as the first time. We love to hear stories, we love to tell stories. Just like the shepherds.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19)

  • When Christ was born, Mary experienced a singularly miraculous event. How do you put that into words? What do you even say?
  • Have you ever seen or experienced something that you couldn’t put into words?
  • So many times on the trail, we have these moments of pure joy, reverence, gratitude, or awe. Those are the moments we can’t put into words—because there are no words.

SUMMIT Gear Review™: euroSCHIRM Swing Liteflex Trekking Umbrella


  • When opened, it doesn’t look like your standard American “disposable” umbrella
  • Extremely strong fiberglass frame
  • Decay and corrosion resistant
  • Minimum metal content.
  • Wear resistant safety tips
  • Double seams between segments
  • 100% Polyester fabric, as lightweight as a breeze, extremely tear proof
  • Teflon® coating for high water repellence


  • Uses for umbrellas
  • Lightweight and comfortable high-density EVA hardfoam with grooves (dry feeling on the handle when wet)
  • Manual open (doesn’t “pop” open)


  • Weighs 7.3 ounces (207 grams)
  • Closed size: 25.5 in. (length) x 1.75 in (width).
  • Extended size: 25.2 in. (length) x 39.4 in.(width).


  • euroSCHIRM claims that this umbrella is nearly unbreakable
  • Comes with a waterproof carry bag with webbing carry strap


  • $45


  • My favorite piece of wet winter gear
  • Didn’t experience fatigue when holding (since it’s so light)
  • Used daily, hourly, minutely! during our Redwoods trip in September
  • US Online Retailer that sells this umbrella

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Google News for Backpacking Stories

If you want to get started, try these search terms

  • Backpacking
  • Ultralight backpacking
  • Winter backpacking
  • Include your own local/regional trails

Currently there’s no way to disambiguate wilderness backpacking (which involves tents, outdoor skills, trails and dirt), from travel backpacking (which involves staying in hostels, adventurous 20-somethings and international travel), so you’ll just have to sort it out yourself.

Trail Wisdom

We’ll leave you today with a little Christmas yuletide…

Silent Night on guitar (sung by Heather)