149: Friends of the Flora

Show Notes: Episode 149

Today on the First 40 Miles, if you want to be a friend of the forest, get to know the flora.  We’ll share some ways to make your next trip more rich as you get to know the plants that surround you.  Then we’ll review a new ultra-durable, refillable lighter.  For today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, you’ll learn a plant-geek approved way to bring forest samples home for further study.


  • Plant identification
  • Why would you want to identify plants?
  • Does it ruin the experience or enrich the experience?
  • Our family goal…to get better at plant identification

Top 5 Ways to Become Familiar with Plant Life

Look at the Big Picture

Stop, Sit and Study

  • On the Trail: One of the great ways to really get to know a plant is to sketch it.  When you sketch a plant, you take nothing for granted.  You look at every edge, every node, every bump.  And if the entire plant it too much to sketch, focus on one leaf.
  • What are the edges of the leaf like, how is it attached to the branch, can you see the veins, are there injuries or evidence of animal, fungal or bacterial damage to the leaf? Even if you don’t know the name of the plant, it is one you’ll be able to identify if you see it again.
  • Also, when you study, don’t be afraid to touch, smell the plant, look under the leaves, see what else is growing around it…
  • Off the Trail: Check for a formal course of study through your state’s Cooperative Extension office
  • Here in Oregon we have the Oregon Master Naturalist Program http://oregonmasternaturalist.org/

Rehike the same area

  • A hike you’re familiar with
  • This gives you a chance to tune in and notice things

Photograph what you see

  • Macro setting on camera, get up close with all parts of plant
  • You can study the photos, familiarize yourself with them, even share them with the local extension office to see if they know what it is.
  • Apps for plant ID: PlantNet and iNaturalist app

Take a Sample

  • Josh’s brother, Ben, works in the University of Washington Herbarium where they collect plant samples
  • Sample collection protocol

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Exotac titanLIGHT


  • The EXOTAC titanLIGHT is a refillable, waterproof lighter and with a replaceable flint and wick. Made from aircraft grade aluminum, it has O-ring seals for longer intervals between lighter fluid refills.
  • CNC router (Or Computer Numerical Control router) is a computer-controlled cutting machine used for cutting various hard materials, such as wood, composites, aluminum, steel, plastics, and foams.


  • Waterproof lighter with a replaceable wick, replaceable flint
  • Has a lanyard loop at top
  • Wind guard
  • One nice feature is that it comes off with a 3/4 turn, so it’s secure enough to keep the fuel from evaporating, but not so secure that it takes a long time to get the top off.


  • Weighs 1.6 oz. (46 grams)
  • When filled weighs 1.9 ounces


  • Fill with lighter fluid specifically for lighters (Ronsonol or Zippo brand)
  • Waterproof to 1 meter


  • $49.95


  • Smooth in every way–CNC is incredibly precise
  • What I call “heirloom gear” or “legacy gear”
  • Ends the “consume and dispose” cycle
  • American made

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Ultralight Plant Press

  • 2 pieces of cardboard (cut so that rubber bands fit around)
  • several sheets white tissue paper (colored WILL bleed)
  • 2-4 rubber bands

Cut the cardboard to 5inches by 5 inches.  Cut the tissue paper to the same size and put in between cardboard.  Wrap rubber bands around the cardboard to hold everything in place.

Don’t store it in a plastic bag—you want it to breathe and dry out.  Check it in 3 days.

You can add more pieces of cardboard and tissue paper to press more plants.

Trail Wisdom

If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.

–Saint Augustine