072: Ha-ha-happy April Fool’s Day

Show Notes: Episode 072

Today on The First 40 Miles, pranking your trail buddies is fun, but it’s even more fun if your trail buddies are barely tall enough to ride a roller coaster. Then, we’ll share a wild Carolina swamp adventure that’s even too much for the British Empire. For today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, you’ll learn how to make a biscuit, quickly. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from a Supreme Court justice on the trail, William O. Douglas.


  • Funny moments on the trail

Top 5 Backpacking Pranks for Kids

Eat Dirt!

  • This is a classic!
  • Simply crush a handful of Oreos in a sandwich bag
  • Offer to kids to eat, eat it yourself, or sprinkle on dinner or dessert

Peas and Carrots

  • Get a bag of the fruit flavored Tootsie Rolls
  • Pull out the orange and lime flavors
  • If you cut the lime into small pieces and roll them into balls, the look exactly like peas!
  • Do the same with the orange Tootsie rolls, but make them square.
  • Put the two vegetables together and they look like peas and carrots
  • Can be made on the trail or before your trip

Backpacking Hitchhikers

  • Favorite stuffed animal along with a bandana
  • Instead of a prank it might be a welcome surprise to kids who may be a little nervous

Sound effect app on phone

  • This might be more appropriate for older kids who won’t stay quiet in their tent
  • Just play a sound effect and see if they notice

Fish in water bottle

  • Add a plastic fish to your child’s water bottle
  • Works equally well with little plastic snake or lizard

Ready for Adventure: The Swamp Fox Passage

The Swamp Fox Passage is 47 mile trail which commemorates and preserves the swampy area of South Carolina that Francis Marion used to outsmart the redcoats during the Revolutionary War. You’re just hiking the first 9 in an out and back adventure.

What’s the pull of this backpacking trip?

 How do you feel about the idea of pounding out 9 miles in a day, then backtracking the next day?

Typically 9 miles would be a pretty strenuous day for a typical backpacker with a full load. Not too hard for a dayhike, but everything changes when you have the extra load. This trail, however, is flat and fast. Not much elevation gain, and nothing too strenuous other than tree roots and possibly some muddy sections.

These are the Carolina swamps—which were too much for the British Redcoats. What are you doing to prep for this trip?

Swamps are filled with life…that means mosquitoes, ticks, water moccasins, rattlesnakes, copperheads, and poison ivy. Even though it’s spring, I’m still coming prepared with insect repellent, possibly a mosquito head net. For the snakes, I’m planning on steering clear—and I’ll talk to some people to find out if a snake bite kit is a wise thing to pack. And it sounds like I’ll be ending the evening by pulling out my mirror and flashlight and checking for ticks and chiggers.

Water source at Halfway Creek, which is at mile 6, has been removed. You need to decide if you’re going to carry water for the entire 18 mile round trip or try to filter the swamp water and creeks.

Looking at the map it looks like there is limited water or unpleasant water. I’m not really familiar with the area. Harleston Dam Creek is at mile 10, so I’m going to hike as if I need to pack all my water.

Technically I could use the swamp water as a water source, but the forest service warned me that the swamp water is not something you can just drink. It needs to be treated as contaminated water. They recommended using a pre filter it then boiling it for 3-5 minutes. I’m also planning on bringing some Tang or Nuun tablets to flavor the water if I do end up prefiltering and treating.

Also the banks of the swamps are surrounded by pluff mud, so it would be wise to avoid the swamps as a source of water.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: DIY Biscuit Mix

6 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbs baking powder

1 Tbs salt

1 cup vegetable shortening

Using a pastry blender or food processor, blend ingredients until evenly mixed and crumbly in texture. This recipe can be used in place of any recipe that calls for Bisquick or biscuit mix. Biscuit mix is especially useful on the trail if you’re going to make donuts, Navajo fry bread, or pan cooked Bannock.

Trail Wisdom

“The thrill of tramping alone and unafraid through a wilderness of lakes, creeks, alpine meadows, and glaciers is not known to many. A civilization can be built around the machine but it is doubtful that a meaningful life can be produced by it.… When man worships at the feet of avalanche lilies or discovers the delicacies of the pasque flower or finds the faint perfume of the phlox on rocky ridges, he will come to know that the real glories are God’s creations. When he feels the wind blowing through him on a high peak or sleeps under a closely matted white bark pine in an exposed basin, he is apt to find his relationship to the universe.”

–William O. Douglas