207: Scary Stuff

Show Notes: Episode 207:  Scary Stuff

Today on The First 40 Miles, we’ve dredged up as many scary things as we can for this Halloween episode.  Cougar attacks, mysterious items in hiker boxes, dead cats and the scariest thing of all—hiker stink.  Then we’ll wrap up today’s episode with a quote from a zombie.  Actually it’s just a quote from someone’s posthumously published journal.  They’re dead, but they’re alive!  (But they’re dead.)


  • How frequent are cougar attacks? How frequent are fatal cougar attacks?
  • Woman hiker in Oregon + cyclist in Washington
  • 2018 has been a rough year with cougar attacks and fatalities in North America
  • Biker’s death near Seattle is Washington’s first cougar fatality in 94 years.
  • The death in Oregon is the first ever reported cougar fatality in Oregon.
  • List of fatal cougar attacks in North America: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_cougar_attacks_in_North_America
  • “At least 20 people in North America were killed by cougars between 1890 and 2011, including seven in California. More than two-thirds of the Canadian fatalities occurred on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare and occur much less frequently than fatal snake bites, fatal lightning strikes, or fatal bee stings. Children are particularly vulnerable”
  • “As with many predators, a cougar may attack if cornered, if a fleeing human stimulates their instinct to chase, or if a person “plays dead.” Standing still however may cause the cougar to consider a person easy prey. Exaggerating the threat to the animal through intense eye contact, loud shouting, and any other action to appear larger and more menacing, may make the animal retreat. Fighting back with sticks and rocks, or even bare hands, is often effective in persuading an attacking cougar to disengage.”
  • What’s the risk? What to do?

Top 5 Scary Things in Hiker Boxes

Mysterious unlabeled bags of white powder

  • Could be instant mashed potatoes, powdered milk, soup mix
  • Label your baggies!


  • Worn for many miles, then donated to hiker boxes
  • If someone needs a pair of shoes or if their laces are busted, then an old pair of shoes is helpful


  • Maybe ibuprofen, maybe not.
  • Could be Benadryl, aspirin, etc.

Large containers of ______

  • Could be peanut butter, fuel canister, etc.
  • Large canisters of anything take up space—even when 99% of the product is used up. The large container still fills up your pack—which is why hiker boxes are where large containers go to die.

Hygiene overload

  • …bar of soap, package of baby wipes, shampoo,

SUMMIT Gear Review: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Duo 20


  • Shell Fabric: 20d polyester ripstop
  • Liner Fabric: 20d polyester taffeta
  • Insulation: 700FP PFC-Free DriDown


  • Specified for sleeping conditions down to 20 Degrees
  • Zipperless design allows for more comfort
  • Insulated hand/arm pockets help to seal out drafts
  • Foot vent for fast ventilation
  • Stretch cord keeps out drafts
  • Sleeping pad sleeve holds one double or two single pads


  • Weight: 4 lbs 10 oz
  • Shoulder Circumference: 107″ / 272 cm
  • Fits Up To: 6′ 4″ / 193 cm


  • Wash and dry at a laundromat


  • $449


  • Josh used Klymit inflatable pad, Heather used a folding closed cell foam pad. (Note: There is insulation between pads)
  • Sleeping next to a heat producing person was great
  • Plenty of room! Comfortable
  • Know we got down to freezing, and we were still warm
  • “Share the stink”
  • I carried the sleeping bag, and Josh carried the tent. Good trade.
  • Doesn’t come with compression stuff sack, but does come with a stuff sack, which Heather used when she made compression straps out of paracord.
  • Also comes with a large mesh storage bag

Backpack Hack of the Week™:   Dead Cat Game

Trail Wisdom

“How little note is taken of the deeds of Nature! What paper publishes her reports? …. Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds, or the written music of water written in river-lines? Who reports and works and ways of the clouds, those wondrous creations coming into being every day like freshly upheaved mountains? And what record is kept of Nature’s colors – – the clothes she wears – of her birds, her beasts – her live-stock?”
—John Muir