123: Learn As You Go

Show Notes: Episode 123

Today on the First 40 Miles,  each of us are in a constant state of learning, and we’re all on different paths.  Today we’ll share a few things that we have learned recently.  Then, a spikey way to stay on the icy, snowy trails.  For our Backpack Hack of the Week, a listener shares a tip he learned from another hiker.


  • One of the great things about life…we learn as we go
  • This is such a fun journey…learning and experimenting
  • We learn as we go, and that’s been one of the great things about hearing our listeners backpacking stories! You’re learning as you go!
  • Happy Spring! Spring is Here! Shoulder season!
  • May have snow, may be limited to lower elevation hikes, but everything is waking up, and it’s a great time to be outside! When the world wakes up from winter, it kind of feels like outdoor school is in session.  Time to start learning again!

Top 5 Things I’ve Learned Recently

Store your gear in bins

  • Mice: they don’t just live in the fields and forests—they love suburban garages, too.

Backpacking has its seasons…

  • This was a cold, wet, icy, unusual winter for us here in the northwest.
  • We had about a 4 month stretch where we didn’t get out on a backpacking trip.
  • It’s nothing to feel guilty about—it just makes us realize how much we enjoy being outside, with our family

If you don’t schedule a trip, it won’t happen

  • Block out time on the calendar
  • We had to look for gaps in the calendar…and hope that they matched up with decent weather

BLM is where it’s at (blm.gov)

  • We love the Bureau of Land Management. We have BLM land all over the western United States.
  • BLM is great. The land is backpackable, accessible, rustic, and there are very few rules.
  • In an upcoming episode we’ll be talking about our family’s top secret BLM spot that is our go-to, drop-everything-and-go-backpacking spot!

Everyone has a valuable lesson to share

  • Stories we’ve collected, our own stories, we learn from every person we meet!

SUMMIT Gear Review: Kahtoola Microspikes


  • Kahtoola Microspikes are a traction device that you slide over the bottom of your shoes.
  • The MICROspikes® feature 12 spikes per foot, with 8 spikes at the forefoot and 4 spikes at the heel.
  • Each spike is 3/8″ long, and the spikes are made from heat-treated stainless steel for excellent durability and corrosion resistance.
  • Chains and links are also made from stainless steel, and the chains are welded, even further increasing durability. These hold our crampons and ice spikes in place firmly.


  • The stretchy part of Microspikes that go over your shoe, is comprised of Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) which means they fit perfectly without any tightening or fidgeting with clasps.
  • They have a tab on the back that makes putting on the Microspikes really easy
  • Easy to put on, stretchy elastomer that stays pliable to -30 degrees F
  • Packable—they even come with a tote sack
  • These can be used on ice, rock, snow and a mix of all three.


  • MICROspikes® pack down to roughly 5″ x 3″ x 2″ in their tote sack, and weigh between 11 and 14 ounces per pair. They easily fit into a pocket or pack, making them convenient to take on any winter adventure.


  • No maintenance that we’re aware of–but just be aware that the Kahtoola Microspikes can’t prevent all slips and falls, so maintain an awareness of the trail… don’t be dumb.


  • $70


  • Helped Heather get to car in a completely iced-over PDX parking lot
  • Kahtoola also makes NANOspikes for runners
  • Reinforced eyelets, welded chains, durable, give you a little more safety on icy trails, and expand your ability to tackle trails in the winter and shoulder season.

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Delayed Camp Set-up

One of our listeners shares a story and a Backpack Hack of the Week.

Delaying camp set up until after dinner might give you a better idea of what the site will be like.  You might also get a few more miles in after dinner.

Trail Wisdom

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

– Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg