154: Planning for Adventure

Show Notes: Episode 154

Today on the First 40 Miles, if you’ve ever had a plan go awry, this episode is for you.  We’ll talk about trip planning, and why it’s such a critical part of backpacking.  For today’s SUMMIT Gear Review, we’ll share a valuable book for beginners along with a hack straight from page 104.  And we’ll wrap up today’s show with a little trail wisdom from someone who understood the power of planning.


  • Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin all about how to set healthy habits. She shared some wisdom by Dwight D. Eisenhower who said:
  • “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
  • “In preparing for backpacking, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
  • Why are plans useless, but planning is indispensable? How are plans and planning different?
  • Plans change—plans usually don’t account for the unexpected—good or bad unexpected. Plans are just a skeleton.
  • Planning is a process that takes your mind through a mine field of scenarios

Top 5 Things You Gain from Trip Planning


  • The process of planning allows you to work through various scenarios—even if none of them happen. You’ve worked through enough alternative plans in your mind and on paper that you’ve exercised your flexibility muscle.
  • That way, even up until the moment you hit the trailhead, you could spontaneously change your mind and take off on a different trail. You have flexibility because you planned for it and did your homework.


  • If you forgo the trip planning process, you may end up zeroing in on one single hike. Then what happens if there’s a road closure?  A fire?  A government shutdown?  Snow?  Planning allows you to open yourself to other hikes that may not be as familiar as the one you zeroed in on, may not be as breathtaking as everyone on the backpacking forums say, but just be open to it!
  • A forest view instead of a tree view
  • Trip planning gives you the freedom to take the blinders off and be open.


  • Planning for rain/snow so checking the forecast and the pattern
  • As you begin planning, the trip becomes a mental spider web
  • Fleshed out trip—it becomes multi-dimensional instead of a static plan


  • Josh’s vision for alpine wilderness

Future Trips

  • As we were planning for a low elevation trip last year, we found a handful of fascinating hikes that are now on our list. Hikes with old mines, hikes with rustic cabins, hikes along rivers.  We had to pick one, but now that we’ve gone through the planning process, we have more places that we have to check out!!

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Backpacking 101 by Heather Balogh Rochfort


  • This book, Backpacking 101 has all the advice you’d get from a best friend who wanted to get you to come with her on her next adventure.
  • There are 13 chapters, with topics including mental + physical prep, to clothing, gear, navigation, food, sleeping, hygiene and emergencies.
  • Book ends with appendices that cover, backpacking with dogs and metric conversions


  • Great for beginner backpackers or season backpackers who need an update on what’s changed in the past 30 years.


  • 5 1/2 inches x 8 1/2 inches x 3/4 inches
  • Fits perfectly in a day pack for some good reading on your next day hike…or you can stow it in your glove compartment
  • Probably a little too beefy to stash in your pack on every trip…but it might not be a bad idea to bring it along on your first trip.


  • Write your name in the front, because you’ll want to read this book, then loan it out to your friends


  • $17


  • Read it within a few days
  • It can be used as a reference book, and it’s written ELI5 style—and it has a good index
  • Has enough pictures + diagrams so you don’t have to imagine everything
  • Comprehensive without being overwhelming
  • Casual without leaving out technical details

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Freeze Dried Meal Trash Bag

  • In the book Backpaking 101 by Heather Balogh Rochfort, she suggests using a used freeze dried meal bag to store future trash. (p.104)
  • Opaque, sturdy, sealable and somewhat odor proof (although not completely, so still hang your food!)

Trail Wisdom

“Nature bequeaths its own blessing on those who immerse themselves in it.  When you’re able to leave the noise and the discord of the city, and give yourself up to the harmony and rhythm of nature, you come back renewed.”

-Stephen R. Covey