Woke up early this morning to see Christof start his ultra run of the Oregon Desert Trail. It will be fun to follow his track over the next few weeks. I may even see him in the Owyhee when I’m out there not running 40+ miles a day.


Hmmm, my gear pile seems to be getting big. Hiking and packrafting adds up.


It doesn’t help that I’m carrying 7 days of food to start.



The creativity of being

I spoke a bit before about the flow of hiking, and how walking long distances seems to unlock some well of creativity, but I think it might be bigger than that. I haven’t been hiking yet this year…I’ve only been in the preparation phase the past few months (heck, really, the past few years), but the ideas keep coming.

Whether it’s new designs for hikertrash:


I call it the Ode to Ridgewalking

Or making my own gear:


Kirk has been gear designer for years…I enlisted his help again in my quest to get as much out of the 3 yards of cuben fiber that I ordered from Zpacks as possible. (Kirk is wearing the first design I ever screenprinted…tall bike!)


We came up with some patterns…

cut pattern

And I mapped out the cuts we’ll make so we can make sure to use every inch.


And screenprinted the tall bike on the new stuff sack.

So I haven’t been hiking yet, but ideas keep coming…so there has to be something else. Hiking helps with the flow of ideas, but the source is probably more in the lines of: I’m living the kind of life I want to live…and a few examples happen to be making cuben fiber gear, creating new designs for hikertrash, and planning for a long, long hike. Of course freedom plays a big roll here…I’m on the cusp of having no job for the first time in years. The absence of that tether is incredibly powerful too.

I’m excited to hike, yes. Excited to grow my business (hikertrash), heck my businesses (freelance writing, designing, hikertrash), but even more excited that they are all interrelated, and all feed into one another. But even more than that, I’m excited to be. To be, and to be doing what I love.

Maybe that is where creativity comes from.

Thank YOU!

Wow, the CDTC fundraiser we put on last week was a great success! We filled the seats and raised over $1,300 for the trail. I’m grateful for friends, co-workers, and everyone who was just plain curious about these crazy people who quit their jobs to go hike across the country…again and again and again. And for all my sponsors and supporters for donating some amazing items to the raffle, thank you!

But don’t take my word for it, here some some pics (courtesy of Robert Curzon):

raffle swag

Tons of items were donated to the raffle

raffle items

This ladies package was really popular! Jewelry by Bronwen Jewelry, Sierra Sage products, Go Macro bars, Salazon Chocolate, a Purple Rain Skirt & Pro Knot card.

raffle item

Our breakfast raffle bundle had coffee & hazelnuts from Strictly Organic, Breakfast oatmeal/cereal from Straw Propeller, mugs from Stanley & a CDTC shirt!

raffle 3

And the prizes keep getting better, $100 to Desperado, Stanley flask & more…

more raffle

I put everything in giant zip locks, because zip locks are GOLD on a trail!


Patagonia @ Bend was very welcoming and let us use their beautiful store for the talk.

good crowd

I shared a bit about why I hike.

three women

And invited Kim (SOL), Sage & Mary (Speedstick) to tell stories from their CDT hikes.

showing off gear

I shared all the gear that I’ll be taking on the trail.

renee umbrella

Even the bug condom!

raffle 2

Raffle time!


This little pup really wanted to win the Ruffwear dog bed.

Grady won

Grady (Fun Size) won the Stanley lunch box, I expect to see him carry that on the CDT this year…

So much fun, now for the hike!!!

Rucking it up

I spent last weekend at the ALDHA-West Ruck in Cascade Locks. What’s a ruck you ask? It’s on of those German words we’ve appropriated that means backpacking. Although Urban Dictionary tells me it’s a fight, a rugby term, and some other much less inspiring definitions.

Anyway, it was a blast. There were old friends, quite a few hikers who will be on the CDT this year, and I had a chance to sell a bunch of hikertrash stuff.


We love our Purple Rain Adventure Skirts! Oh and Mont-bell put in a good showing among the thru-hikers too. Me, Jill, Focus & Allgood (Focus will be on the CDT too this year, I hope we get to meet up at some point!)

These guys. It was great to catch up with SoFar & Lint.

These guys. It was great to catch up with SoFar & Lint.

Hikertrash did really well…


We were trying to look like hikertrash here. Focus & Justa bought our new hat. I had a lot of fun designing this one, should be available for sale in the next month or so in our store.

Six Moon Designs also unveiled their answer for the bankrupt GoLite's very popular Chrome Dome. This is the Silver Shadow (guess who designed the logo!!)

Six Moon Designs also unveiled their answer for the bankrupt GoLite’s very popular Chrome Dome. This is the Silver Shadow (guess who designed the logo!!). This too will be available in the next month or two.

Oh man, every since we worked together as metal roofers one rainy January in Portland I have missed these two. Love these guys.

Oh man, every since we worked together as metal roofers one rainy January in Portland I have missed these two. Love these guys. Metal roofing in January? I wouldn’t recommend it.

So lots of catching up with friends, bolstering my business with new sales, and above all else, getting FREAKING EXCITED to hike the CDT.


Hike Your Own Hike

As my friend Paige and I were catching up at happy hour this week, I found myself explaining “Hike Your Own Hike,” and we both thought it applies pretty well to almost every aspect of life. As freelance graphic designers, both of us often wonder how our work compares to others, are we charging enough, are we meeting other’s expectations?? Instead we decided to stop comparing ourselves to others and just Hike Our Own Hike…Live Your Own Life. It’s brilliant!

The obvious connotation refers to the different hiking styles you will see on the long trails. I like to think the phrase originated on the Appalachian Trail where there is trail 100% of the way, and when hikers deviate from following the white blazes that mark the way they are often labeled “Not True to the Thru.” And then you can counter with Hike Your Own Hike.

There can be a lot of judgement in long distance backpacking. It ranges from what gear you carry, if you hike every mile of the trail, and what food you consume to how dirty you let yourself get. Come on people. There is no one way. Just because someone carries a certain pack or eats mostly Ramen noodles doesn’t mean their way is any less valid than another.

I like to remember Grandma Gatewood, the first female to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at age 67. She wore Keds shoes and carried a home-made duffle bag instead of a backpack. Did she finish the trail? Yep. Did she thru-hike it again in 1960 and 1963? Yep. Is your ultralight pack more comfortable than her duffle bag? Probably, but it doesn’t make her hike any less of a hike than yours.

Hike Your Own Hike is about tolerance. It’s about recognizing our differences and being ok with that.

I’m not sure that I’ll post my pack list before I go, or even weigh my base weight. It doesn’t really matter. I’m carrying stuff that makes me comfortable in the backcountry, and if that’s a base weight of 5 pounds or 25 pounds, that’s my choice to make.

And the CDT is quite liberating too. There is no one trail, in fact, there are often at least 3 trails you can choose from. Every map set available has alternates, and sometimes those alternates are the same, and sometimes not. There is no True to the Thru on the CDT, and that’s exactly what I’m looking forward to. Everyone hikes a different CDT. It’s yours. Make it what you will!

I like to Packraft too

Kirk and I went packrafting last weekend.


Me and big yellow, my 6ish pound packraft.

And in addition to this blog, I’ve been keeping a blog of our packraft adventures (strangely enough called Adventures with Packraft) for the past three years to chronicle trips we’ve done all over Oregon. You can read about our trip on the Chewaukan River here. (I got to calling it the She-ra-can River).

Thanks to some insomnia tonight I finally was able to get the post up. I really really really can’t wait for the simplicity of the trail. My schedule has just been killer lately (killer as in exhausting), and sometimes the only chance I get to work on some of my other interests, like maintaining the other blog, is when I can’t sleep.

The full time job, 2 businesses, 3 board positions, a relationship, friends, and trying to find time for myself is making life a bit crushing lately. I can’t complain too much as it’s all amazing and very fulfilling, but I’m tired.

I’m ready to slow down and just walk for a while.


Winter OR Show (Part 3) Gear

I could probably write 5 more posts on all that went down at the OR Show, but lets just cut to the chase…what cool gear did I find?? In addition to the Woolrich blankets I covered last time, the Triple Crown made an appearance in the sock realm as well. IMG_20150125_104733 Point6 socks out of Steamboat Springs is making socks for thru-hikers. That’s right. Well, they are making socks for all athletes, but I came across this quote while I was writing up a blog post for Six Moon Designs by Drew Williams, operations chief with Point6:  “Thru hikers commit to a multi-month series of struggles, frustrations, and gorgeous sunsets, most of which play out on their feet. We’re excited to design socks that stand up to the trials of the trail. Our co-branding efforts this year speak to our duty to help maintain these corridors and our commitment to those who use and trust our socks.”

Why is this exciting to me? Well beyond the obvious awesomeness of the socks, this is a company that recognizes thru-hikers are not only a sock-buying member of the outdoor market, but that they are making a product that can stand up to what we thru-hikers can do to a pair. IMG_20150122_170620 I also had a great time meeting Point6 Managing Director Skip Rapp. We bonded over war-stories of outdoor adventures, and since the CDT is so close to Steamboat Springs (and a planned mail drop), I now have a new friend to go visit when I get there, and might even tour the Point6 office!

Now I wasn’t that familiar with the brand until the show, but the founders, Patty and Peter Duke (yep founders of Smartwool) started this new company a number of years ago, and it has a really cool story. Why is it named Point6? It refers to 98.6° F, the body’s optimal temperature and the temperature stabilizing properties inherent to the merino wool used in their sock. Definitely a company worth investigating for your sock needs. And look at the awesome Triple Crown socks they made (with 25% of proceeds going back to the trail organizations!)

Next up: Sierra Sage Organics. Not only did this booth entice me with their sunscreen, arnica, and bug spray (all natural and organic!) but when they saw from my badge that I was with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition Jen and her crew lit up. Sierra Sage is a mother-daughter business with strong ties to the outdoor life. Jen, the herbalist and organic farmer; and Jodi, the business woman and health psychologist; teamed up with mom Kathy, a biologist and teacher, to make this lovely line of organic skin care products.

Since the show I’ve been using the Green Goo, a powerful blend of organic herbs that can help fight infection while reducing pain and inflammation (what!?! – just what every thru-hiker needs!), the Arnica (for sore anything, and it smells really nice), and the lip balm with sunscreen. I can’t wait to try bug spray (made withWitch Hazel – deet free, citronella free, chemical free and oil free) and the sunscreen (all natural too of course). I’ve tried to become much more aware of what goes in and on my body in the past few years, and I am stoked to use these products on the trail this year. 20150128_083000 Yes I just got done saying I’ve been paying more attention to what I’m putting in my body, and that does include bacon from time to time. 20150121_111024 Darn Tough was giving out these maple-flavored ice cream cones sprinkled in BACON! I limited myself to one a day, but the same can’t be said for some other thru-hikers I know…

Here’s a bit of awesomeness from Mountainsmith & Salazon Chocolate: both are supporters of the CDTC and in addition to Salazon giving us delicious Triple Crown Chocolate bars to sell to raise money for the trail (and sample of course…my favorite is the AT bar which is filled with gooey caramel & sprinkled with sea salt!), Mountainsmith let us set up shop at their booth for a while. 20150122_095709 Mountainsmith held a happy hour for us on Thursday where proceeds from these sweet beer coolers went to the CDTC, and we had A LOT of fun slinging this on the floor of the show (POD was our hot ticket). 10842277_10153178638482214_9216387105171512936_o Then these tasty bars caught my eye, first with their beautiful packaging.

Photo courtesy of Another Hungry Vegan

Photo courtesy of Another Hungry Vegan

I’m a sucker for good design, and after meeting Payton at the GoMacro booth and gushing a little bit about their packaging, I heard they were up for a design award! Cool!

Well, the company is much deeper than their attractive marketing: these vegan, organic, and macrobiotic bars were founded by another family (I do have a soft spot for small family-owned businesses). After a nasty encounter with cancer, founder Amelia Kirchoff decided to forgoe drugs and instead convert to a macrobiotic way of life and let food and clean living heal her body. It worked, and their little farm in Eastern Wisconsin became GoMacro. I grew up in Wisconsin not too far from their farm in Viola, and I love that connection too.

I will be carrying GoMacro on the CDT this year. A large bar is 250 calories, same as a snickers! Guess which one will get me further down the trail?

I could go on and on about all I saw at the show, but I think I’ll leave you with a few more photos that hopefully sum up the experience:


Jabba (The Real Hiking Viking) was interviewed on OR Live.


Teresa & I jumped in the giant sleeping bag Sierra Designs had set up.


And even made it into the OR Show publication, OR Daily!


Swami & Allgood share their trail tips on air…

And to top off a great week, we all got to star in The Trail Show! Episode #32 (part B) is now live; tune in and hear me tell a riveting story about my bearamone problem on the PCT.

Winter OR Show (Part 2) Getting Funky

I arrived at the airport in Salt Lake City to find a truck filled with hikers fresh from the Gossamer Gear hike in Moab. Bobcat, Swami, Snorkle and Jabba had all been together for days, and by the jokes and insults flying I could tell they had fun. It wasn’t long before I was pulled into the fold and we laughed and giggled our way through the night…but early to bed for we all had a big first day of the OR Show.

What my pack looked like. Love the rainbow of hikertrash hats we have.

Taste the rainbow. hikertrash hats in my pack, oh yeah.

We all gathered at the Woolrich booth on Wednesday to ooo and aaa at the beautiful blankets they made to support our long trails. It’s an incredibly generous gesture as 100% of the proceeds of the limited edition blankets sold during the show went to the three trail organizations: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Association, and Continental Divide Trail Coalition.




I had to buy the CDT blanket of course. I’ll eventually get the others too!


The attention to detail was incredible.

I was also stoked to see the t-shirt I designed for the recent CDTC Indiegogo campaign: The Next 32 Miles.

I "trashed" up Amy McCormic, from the Appalachain Trail Conservancy (see the new shirt!)

I “trashed” up Amy McCormick, from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (see the new shirt!)

The rest of the day was a blur of color and free snack samples…and the show proper ended in a happy hour for the three trail alliances at the Woolrich booth. A well known fact about the Outdoor Retailer show: they maintain the close relationship between adventure pursuits and booze. Many many happy hours happen throughout the duration of the show (and almost all raise money for a chosen non-profit through the sale of cool mugs or some kind of schwag). The thru-hikers flocked to the booth (it may have also been the free food) and we all had a blast.

While traditionally the long distance hiking community attracts about .01% of the attention of the outdoor industry, this year seemed to be an exception; more hikers than ever attended the show, and companies actually were recognizing what an incredible thing it is to walk across the country.

It was quite thrilling to go to dinner with the executive and development directors of the AT, PCT & CTC that night, and I had fun meeting Zach, the founder of Appalachian Trials, later at the OR Industry party.


Hikertrash getting funky.

An incredible first day of the show, and just a hint at the goodness to come.


Going With It

My impending hike has been leaking out into my day job quite a bit lately. Well, to be honest I’ve been talking about it for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, the position has been incredibly rewarding; I’ve been able to really engage with the arts community, which has been fantastic, but I need to stretch my legs, see a new part of the world, and sleep on the ground for a while.

Each month in Cascade A&E, the arts magazine I’m the editor of in Bend, I write a short column, and for the February issue I found myself mentioning the CDT. You see one of the things I love about long distance hiking is the flow of it all, and I had been thinking specifically about the thru-hiking flow when the artist I interviewed for the cover story this month mentioned it. She plays music when she paints; and lets the rhythm and energy make its way to the page. It flows, without thought, and some pretty cool stuff can come out of that.

Now I don’t know about you, but I can walk for hours on a ridgetop, feeling like I’m flying and listing to Radiohead or just the wind, and I’m no longer thinking of the steps I’m taking, but I’m just being, in its most pure form.

So I wrote about flow this month. And I get home from work thinking maybe I’ll write another blog post about the OR Show when I find Kirk watching kayak videos. Kirk has been paddling whitewater (the crazy big stuff) for the past 20 years and he is to water as I am to trail. Anyway, we’re watching a video that is pure flow. The editing is beautiful, and there is music of course, and they fly down Class V gorges in Norway with you along for the ride, and you feel like you can do anything, that you could paddle that waterfall if you really wanted to, soaring through the air on a mixture of adrenalin and red bull.

I love that stuff. Since Kirk and I have been packrafting for the past 3 or so years, I’ve had fun making short videos (not quite the caliber of the Substantial Media guys), but I’m getting better! (geek out ahead: I met Evan Garcia  at the Summer OR Show as he was getting some badass kayaking award! Cool!)

So since getting a GoPro for my birthday last year the quality of my little movies has gone up quite a bit, and I’m thinking about taking it on the CDT…oh the movies I could make!

Here is one I made of Kirk and i R2ing his new raft on the North Umpqua River this summer. I think you can see where I’m getting at with the flow here…

And that reminds me of another great flow video, J.P. Auclair’s Street Scene. Just watch: 

I was sad to hear of J.P.’s death in the mountains last year. These things we do, these adventures we take, and places we go do have certain inherent risks. We take these risks, but so do those who don’t wear helmets or don’t floss after meals or eat too much sugar…not to mention a sedentary lifestyle…

Knowing your risks, knowing how to keep yourself safe in the wilderness and not only survive, but have the most mind-bendendly amazing experience ever, is the flow. Going with it. That’s right, going with the flow. It works on and off the trail, but one is definitely more scenic than the other

Winter OR Show (Part 1) What a Wild Ride Its Been

It has been an amazing 6 days with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and plenty of fellow hikertrash.

Returning from the OR Show is like returning from a trip to the moon: surreal and almost too good to be true. Something became clear to me while I was wandering the halls of dreamy gear (gear so tech-ed out and shiny as to be irresistible), that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Talking trail, creating partnerships, celebrating the ridiculous antics of my fellow (and very silly) thru-hiker friends, and all the while feeling (and knowing) that I’ll be hiking in a few months, that the CDT will actually happen!

Creating this photo seemed a fitting tribute to the week; and although it seemed like so much happened that I couldn’t possibly remember it all; it’s time to dig in!

Thru-hikers had a bigger presence than ever at the OR Show this year.

Thru-hikers had a bigger presence than ever at the OR Show this year. The bear, well, you had to be there.

Since meeting Teresa Martinez and Peter “Czeck” Sustr of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) last August at the Summer OR Show and becoming their first Trail Ambassador, it seems as if everything I’m passionate about, everything that I’ve been interested in and doing for years, has led me to this point.

“Do your thing and I will know you.” -Paul Theroux

My buddy Whitney "Allgood" LaRuffa and I represented TurboPUP. (AWESOME PRODUCT!)

My buddy Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa and I represented TurboPUP at the Summer OR where I met Teresa. (AWESOME PRODUCT!)

Starting the brand hikertrash with Brian Frankle last April has created a lot of opportunities.

We make coozies, trucker hats, shirts, silipints and more. Stuff for hikers.

We make beer coozies, trucker hats, shirts, silipints, and more. Stuff for hikers.

I had been screen printing for 5 years (primarily bikes, but also the hikertrash screen inspired by my good friend Lint).

When he hiked through on his second PCT thru-hike I printed Lint's backpack.

When he hiked thru on his second PCT thru-hike in 2009 I printed Lint’s backpack.

I got into bikes and formed the company Bike Bend Wear to sell shirts at cyclocross races in Bend and on Etsy.

I had 10 bike designs & one play boat (for Kirk)

I had 10 bike designs & one play boat (for Kirk)

When the desk job took over and I was too busy to keep it up, I let the screen printing go for a while, but Brian and I partnered up to make some shirts for the PCT kick-off weekend last year.

My friends SOL & Smooth represented hikertrash at the kick-off last year, and took their friend Stumbling Beef to the CDT. We lost Smooth, and miss him very much.

My friends SOL & Smooth represented hikertrash at the kick-off last year, and took their friend Stumbling Beef to the CDT for his thru-hike. Smooth passed in the mountains late last year, and we miss him very much.

Starting a company was easier than I thought, and before I knew it found myself at PCT Trail Days in September with a brand hikers were recognizing.

I screen printed "hikertrash" on whatever the current PCT hikers wanted. And sold some stuff.

I did a bunch of live screen printing on whatever the current PCT hikers wanted (like this hiker’s thigh) and had a blast.

While hikertrash was gaining steam, I had started freelancing for Ron Moak, founder of Six Moon Designs, who brought me on as his media manager last summer (check out Ron and Brian’s new line of packs…two great minds in the light-weight backpacking industry collaborating together).

Here is Ron at the OR Show buying the triple crown of blankets by Wool

Here is Ron at the OR Show buying the triple crown of blankets created by Woolrich especially to support the three long trails.

The new business and partnership with the well-known gear company has quickly led me to the sweet spot of the brand/product side of the outdoor industry. After already trying to make a living from guiding, leading trail crews, working in wilderness therapy, teaching and working logistics, it seemed an incredibly natural fit to now be writing and designing for the outdoor industry.

When Teresa asked if I wanted to attend the Winter OR Show with them to represent the CDTC and help them form new partnerships and bring awareness to my hike and the incredible things happening on the trail I couldn’t say no, besides some of my best hikertrash friends would be there. Done!

Next up: the show! Stay tuned for more this week….