20 Sleeps and 20 Kilometers

The countdown is on for real now folks! I am under 20 days to departure which means I am in the final push of my training.

Getting miles and trails under these feet that will best emulate what I will experience abroad is important! Just as important as testing every single piece of gear, yes even your undies, and the food you intend to eat while hiking before you even leave on your adventure!

Yesterday’s training was about all of that – the gear, the food (and water) and the hike.

I picked a fantastic recorded trail on All Trails called Burnaby Mountain Tour – it promised the length I wanted (around 20km), a lot of elevation gain and loss, mucky messy trails, and rain! Yes, I purposely picked a day with a forecast of 100% rain so I could give the Gortex of my boots a go.

Trail and distance training …

The trail and length were fantastic – ok full disclosure there were a few uphill slogs where I would have rather been in a pub – but still fun. Pretty impressed that I got it done under 6 hours considering the rain and elevation gain/loss – but that’s a good sign for my UK hiking days ahead.

I don’t usually worry about the time I finish. I am just out there to take it all in for as long as it takes – but loads of pubs and restaurants stop serving food over in the UK before we ever would here in Canada. So while you don’t need to rush on the trail per se, you do need to be mindful of the time or potentially go hungry.

I remember a time on Hadrian’s Wall Path after a very tough and wet long hiking day got away on me, I walked into the ONLY pub right as the kitchen shut down. The barkeep said there is was no more food. This hiker (me) erupted into a look of horror with tears in her eyes. The barkeep offered fish & chips. I think he saw I was on the edge and wanted to avoid tears. It was the day I was chased by a bull so I was a little emotional. More on that another time.

Food and water …

For this upcoming adventure, I have quite a few days in and around the 20km mark in Wales and England so today was a good lesson at this length. And a length that reminds me why you carry our max water and take just a bit more food than you need….

More water! I ran out of water at about 12km of a 21km hike. On a cool, rainy day it was not too horrible a thing. Had it been hot, I would have 1) carried more, like my usual 2.5 liter bladder not a bottle in the first place and 2) planned where the water refill opportunities were on my route. The H2O spirits were on my side yesterday – at about 13km there was a random skate park with an epic water fountain. Filled me up and then my bottle. I did also have my Life Straw with me if things got bad and I had to take a guzz from a creek.

More fuel! A good reminder that what you pack for a 5km walk-about is not what you pack for 20km+ hike. It is both more and different food you need – not just 4 times more. You need to think of cumulative calories burned and the total time hiking, what your usual meal cadence is over the time you are on the path (i.e do you always eat lunch and are you hiking over lunch) and how much effort the trial will be. A little trial and error before you go is key here!

A few things I have learned:

  • If you took it the last couple hikes but didn’t eat it, don’t pack that thing again. That’s carrots for me, not a carrot + hiking fan.
  • Chocolate covered anything is not the way to go for summer hikes – if it’s your lifeline, keep your chocolate contained, like M&Ms.
  • If you need utensils to eat it, reconsider. Leave the pudding and salad at home.
  • If you are walking over 15km, make sure you have something salty – nuts or trail mix are my go to.
  • After 20km, carbs do not count – eat the carb things guilt free!
  • Pack things that can take a beating – go for the Granny Smith apple over the banana.
  • Take things that won’t create a huge burden to pack out. Orange peels VS a snack pack container.
  • Pack it out. Even if it’s biodegradable – that apple didn’t grow there so don’t leave it there!
  • Check the best before date and maybe keep it in mind. The Sport Beans I scavenged out of my first aid kit when I hit the wall yesterday may have expired June … 2019. Still good?!

Gear training …

The feet were feeling good yesterday. You know you have exceeded your days distance when it feels like your feet have their own pulse (aka dogs barking) – didn’t happen for me yesterday so yahoo feet!

A couple of hot spots in my usual suspect places so I blame my feet not the footwear and these I can proactively compeed. Compeeds seem to be the best blister solution for me of all I have trialed – and I have trialed many! I did give Leukotape a go on this hike without success but I have another technique I can try with it before I give it a fail. Compeeds are expensive so even if I can get to a Compeed and Leukotape combo that would be cheaper and save me from reaching for the duct tape as an extreme measure. For someone who loves hiking, my feet did not get the memo.

Confirmed I most definitely am happiest when I have a gaiter like solution in place. What? Let me explain. I get a lot of snakes in my boots. Aka rocks and grit bits that find there way into my boots and that is a recipe for blisters. Every time a bit gets in my boot, I say ‘I have a snake in my boot’ in my best Toy Story, Woody voice. Yes, every time it happens – not annoying at all. So I need a way to keep them out so I am less annoying and, most importantly, I don’t have to stop and fix my feet every 20 feet. Introducing gaiters!

Yesterday I was able to use my Bewilder tights over my boot top like a gaiter and it worked amazing! I like that it was breathable and stretchy. But I won’t be wearing long tights every day so need a stand alone gaiter solution and don’t prefer my waterproof Outdoor Research ones in summer weather. Based on how good a fabric solution felt during my tights trial, I have ordered the Montane sock-it gaiters that I can wear everyday boot or shoe and they are largely stretchy fabric! See ya snakes, find someone else to hitch a ride with.

Of course my hike yesterday was also just about hiking. Feeling the miles stroll past you and taking in all the sights and smells and green and nature and wow. Here are some pics of all that too to wrap this up!

Brandé

PS 17 Sleeps

3 thoughts on “20 Sleeps and 20 Kilometers

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