Friday, January 3, 2014

Buffs Galore: Full vs Half vs Wool

The recent frigid weather gave me an opportunity to do a little experimentation with the Buff products. 

I know you all may have one, and I've had one for a while. However, I learned a few things I thought I'd share while I sit around in my forced rest mode.
 (I really, really dislike resting my ankle at all ... but I do much better if I rest it once a week for at least a half a day.)

During my walk earlier this week I tried to use an Original Buff as a headband, ear cover thingie ... and just about squeezed my glasses off my face a few times while adjusting it. I realized what I probably needed was one of the new Half Buffs that I saw recently at REI.

After a detailed inspection of the fabric of the Original Buff I own and a quick call to Buff customer service to confirm I could do what I was planning ... my Original Buff became two Half Buffs. 

Perfect for my needs! 

On my next morning walk I tested my new Half Buff as an ear warmer, partial balaclava and hat holder. I pulled it up over my mouth and ears and lodged it midway up the back of my head. It worked perfectly. No glasses trying to pop off my head, my neck wasn't too warm, and I only partially looked like the neighborhood nutball.

Pleased with myself (of course) for creating two perfectly sized buffs and yet still wanting something warmer ... I ventured out and bought a wool buff.

Alarm bells should have stopped me on this purchase for multiple reasons: (1) it seemed like the same fabric used for the flimsy lightweight SmartWool products; (2) it is labeled hand-wash (who does that anymore) and line dry; and (3) you could see right through it.

Never mind that it was longer than my original buff or that it had to be washed before I used it to remove some heavy fragrance from the store.

I still tried it out ... and it was a colossal fail! 

Interestingly, it didn't fail for any of the reasons I thought it would. It failed because the Wool Buff is wider than the original Buff and therefore it was too loose for my tiny little head to hold in place (shhh ... don't say anything), and I couldn't keep the wind from cruising to my ears by entering along the edges. 

Thank goodness for REI membership and the no questions asked return policy. I owned it less than 24hrs! If you want a grey heather Wool Buff, it should be in the next downtown store used gear sale.

Sidebar on Ambient Scenting
Did you know that most retail stores use something called Ambient Scenting to entice you to linger and perhaps emotionally influence your purchasing behavior? I learned the other day that the scent in the Wool Buff was just that ... my local REI has an ambient scent. 

You may have noticed it yourself it when you first get home and a new pack or fleece has a sweet, perfumed fragrance to it with a slight musk undertone. 

If you are sensitive to scents then you may want to try ordering your merchandise online and having it shipped to the store, the warehouse does not use ambient scenting. And as long as you don't let it stay at the store for a week or two the shipping package will keep the scent out. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Back on the Trail

A new year brings such delight for me ... it signifies the beginning of a new year of adventures. With today marking my return to the trail after a long hiatus to fully recover from a broken fibula, it seemed only fitting to hike in the forest right near our house ... Portland's Forest Park.

Portlanders often overlook Forest Park as a hike option because of our close proximity for day hikes in the Columbia Gorge, Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mount St Helens, even the Goat Rocks Wilderness is doable. 

Forest Park has almost 90 miles of trails that can provide a quiet leisurely hike along a creek or an intense workout up one of the many trails that connect the Williamette River to the ridge more than 1200ft above. It's also an excellent gear-testing option close to home. 

Today's hike was a combination workout and gear shakedown ... perfect for the foggy weather we were having. 

I could spend my time just relaxing along familiar trails, making adjustments to my stride, shifting a few things in my pack (oh how I've missed shouldering it), listening to my body rediscover it's balance and enjoying the sun beams lighting the moisture laden lichen as it cut through the fog. 

Today made me yearn for hikes along the PCT ... the trail that enchants me each summer and constantly tempts me with its siren song. 

Someday I'll hike the PCT ... for now I am content with day hikes and being an on-the-trail Trail Angel. I am known as Where's Chris? because I appear along the trail at random places with apples or small treats as the herd moves through Oregon and Washington. 

In 2014 I have plans to be along the PCT at least 20 times. For some hikers our paths may cross several times along their journey ... for others it will be a single encounter. I just never know what the season holds, but I will share my hikes and encounters on this blog so you can share in the adventure this year. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sometimes You Are The Rock

"Sometimes you're the person on the journey, sometimes you’re the rock beneath their feet. A solid place where they can stop, put down their pack and recover, and then… a place to plant their foot and spring forward into their journey." - SlimeDog

This season I had planned to offer trail magic in at least ten different locations along the Oregon section of the PCT. SlimeDog was planning to join me on some of the day trips. (That man can carry a lot of apples!) 

Everyone knows things didn't turn out as planned, but sometimes it's good to shift your plans. It challenges you to explore, learn, grow. 

It also allows you to be available when someone needs help. That's what happened last Friday morning when MukMuk called from Jefferson Park somewhere near mile 2038. A hiker she has become close with (UB) had been sick for several days and now was dehydrated and extremely weak. 

She wasn't sure if they should continue North or South to find a place to hitch out to get medical help. A quick review of HalfMile's section map and the Jefferson Park map revealed they were less than five (5) miles from a trailhead SlimeDog and I could reach in less than three hours. 

The PCT is trail 2000, the Pamelia Lake Trail connects at mile 2035. The TH and road are just 2.5 miles away.

After an update on the road and trailhead conditions from ranger Jerry Johnson at the Willamette National Forest ranger station, we confirmed Muk and her fella should head to the Pamelia Lake trailhead. 

When we got there we took a quick trailhead picture, loaded gear and people, and headed to Portland to an Urgent Care.

After getting her fella checked out and patched up, we brought them to our house for a few zeros (zero = day off trail) to allow them to rest, shower, do laundry, resupply and recuperate.

When the time approached to return them to the trail, they decided Muk would move on and her fella would return to Urgent Care for another assessment of his situation.

While I did my midday stretches, Muk got herself situated to head back out.

I always have a scrap or two of Tyvek in my car. On that day, it was the perfect yoga mat. 

We took a few goofy pictures at the trailhead to basically stall Muk's return. 

And then she was off again ...

have to admit it was a bit difficult to drop Muk off at the trailhead without her fella, but I knew she'd be fine. Her fella on the other hand received news that ultimately would force him off trail and onto a plane home a few days later. 

We wish them both well on their journeys on, and off, trail. If you'd like to follow along they both have blogs.

MukMuk aka Rozanne Pilbeam

UB aka Chris Foley

For me the 2013 PCT Trail Angel season has finished ... the next blog post won't be until next spring when I hit the trail again fully recovered and strong. 

Thanks to UB for taking this great impromptu picture of SlimeDog and me. SlimeDog has been my rock during a stressful, longer than anticipated, recovery from my trail accident earlier this season. Gauge doggy and I both love this man!! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rollin' and Splashin' Along

After what appeared to be a great return to work, short hikes and walks, I suffered a significant setback during the second week of August that resulted in disabling pain.

What I thought was just pain from a fatigued ankle resulted in my entire lower right side seizing up and leaving me unable to walk. I was crawling around my house literally yelping in pain. I guess that's what I get for having such a high pain threshold and 'powering' through the stiffness and burning muscle pains.

After multiple doctor and PT visits, I believe and hope I am on the path to healing. So WTF was it? I have myofascial tightness that made my peroneus longus muscle, Iliotibial band, and piriformis muscle seize up tight and irritate my sciatic nerve. 

This appears to stem from the nerve pain and tightness in my ankle and six weeks of immobility/limited mobility in the walking boot. 

While I am frustrated by all of this, I can still find the humor in my situation. 

I bought my first bathing suit in fifteen years so I can do the Healing Waters and Fluid Moves water therapy classes offered at our local swim center. These modified classes are held in an 89 degree pool and offer one-on-one coaching for those with arthritis and/or sports injuries. 

I am paying someone to make me painful! I have been getting 90-minute myofascial release massages that focus on breaking up scar tissue and releasing tight muscles and tendons using deep tissue massage and pressure points. Holy crap! Ouch! After the first massage I still had my nerve pain, but my muscles were not like bricks anymore.

I also have some fascia release exercises and stretching exercises from the physical therapist. Check out the tools I have to use in releasing the myofascia! 

I have a love-hate-love relationship with the foam roller. The spoon serves as my inexpensive substitute for a Graston tool. 

I'll admit I've had a rough couple of weeks and been in the dumps feeling sorry for myself because I cannot do some of the simplest things that bring me pleasure. However, I am thankful for not having something more serious as well as for the kind words and actions of others. 

And, I am inspired by the blogs of the thru-hikers and section hikers I've been following this season on the PCT. So many of them have such incredible stories to share. 

My PCT time this year will be limited to supporting one or two people I already promised to help. If you are on the PCT this summer please be so kind as to provide some magic to any thru-hikers you can. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

One Step at a Time

Eight weeks ago today a section of trail gave way and I broke my fibula. Seven weeks ago Anish started her attempt to break the fasted unassisted PCT thru hike. We both share a love for the PCT, and we are both taking it one step at a time. I've been following her story since the beginning, and she is truly inspiring. 

For the past few weeks I have been working hard at getting back the strength I lost due to the injury.  My goal ... to be able to step back on the PCT and hike as a trail angel before the herd approaches. As Anish approached, I realized I might be ready to provide her with magic as she approached Ollalie Lake. 

As the day approached, a plan was developed. SlimeDog (my fella) would drive so I could save my energy for the trail, we would split the magic supply between us, SlimeDog would head out ahead of me on the trail with Gauge doggy, and I would head out a short time after that for a shorter hike. We would meet back at the Ollalie Lake Resort. 

When we got to the lake, I stopped in at the store to see if they had seen Anish yet. Nope. They were hoping she would come through, but they couldn't be sure she would. Anish averaged 43 miles a day through California, and we knew she was doing 50+ miles a day in Oregon. 

Not knowing if we had missed her, we got into action with our packs and headed out. SlimeDog and Gauge were long gone in a few minutes. 

For me the process was slower. I was suddenly emotional. This would be my first time back on a real trail since the accident, this would be my first trail with rocks and off-camber foot placements, and it would be my first time shouldering a fully-loaded trail angel pack.

As I headed out, I repeated over and over again to myself to take it one step at a time. While the trail tread was challenging, I soon relaxed as I became certain I could handle it. 

The trail was fatiguing, but the views as the trail climbed were rewarding. 

     Mt Jefferson just beyond Ollalie Butte 

At about the 45-minute / 1.65 mile mark I chose to go ahead and turn back. My longest hike so far had been 3.5 miles on pavement and/or gentle trail with no real elevation gain. With my return to work just a few days away, overdoing it was not an option. 

When I returned to the trailhead I relaxed and ate a snack, convinced Anish, SlimeDog and Gauge would be just behind me. After 30-minutes at the trailhead I hiked over to the store. The store crew is very friendly and encouraged me to just relax on the porch and enjoy the view. 

    What a great view from the porch

I wasn't there long before I was joined by IronMan and French Toast, two of the first thru-hikers of this year. Time flies when you are chatting with thru-hikers, and it wasn't too much longer before SlimeDog and Gauge showed up.

     French Toast, IronMan, Trapper Keeper (Ollalie PCT Angel)

While we were all chatting away on the front porch, Anish just seemed to appear. She has the gift of being super efficient while being personable and social. During her 25 minute stop she refilled her water, grabbed a quick charge for her phone, drank a strawberry lemonade powerade, ate some grapes, an apple, and some other misc snacks, did a quick resupply from the store and our magic bag, and headed back on the trail at what seemed like an amazing pace. I smiled as I watched her leave, she too just seems to be taking it one step at a time. 

Good luck to you Anish on the rest of your hike, I've sent an update forward to another trail angel in Washington. She knows you will be in Washington by this weekend. 

      Anish still looks strong!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Anish Approaches

For all you potential or actual PCT trail angel types ... 31yr old Anish (Heather Anderson) is attempting to set the 2013 Pacific Crest Trail Fastest Known Time by a female thru-hiker. 

Anish in the Sierras (source: FaceBook)

She started the trail on June 10th, knocked out the 1700 miles thru California in 40 days, and entered Oregon late in the evening of July 18. 

She is doing this attempt as an 'unassisted' or 'self-supported' hiker, which means she will NOT have anyone following, or otherwise meeting her in a prearranged manner to give her support.

She usually puts in more than 40 miles per day, sometimes she'll pull a 50 mile day. When in the high-Sierras, she did Forester Pass 13,200ft, Glen Pass 11,947ft, Pinchot Pass 13,200ft, Mather Pass 12,096ft and Muir Pass 11,973 ft in a two day, 79-mile trek! 

In Oregon the terrain often allows the thru-hikers to put in more miles per day, so she could easily average 45-49 miles per day ... or even more. 

A friend of mine has family in town for a few weeks and they wanted to do some trail magic, so I did some calculations for when Anish could be hiking through the Ollalie Lake area: 

The Oregon border is at mile 1698; the Ollalie Lake trailhead is at mile 2053. It's only 358 miles. 

 • If 40 mpd, Ollalie TH in 9days (Fri 26July)
 • If 45 mpd, Ollalie TH in 8days (Thurs 25July)
 • If 48 mpd, Ollalie TH in 7days (early/mid-day Weds 24July)
 • If 52 mpd, Ollalie TH in 6days (late Tues 23July)

Trail Magic is acceptable as long as it is NOT planned and coordinated. Several hikers on the PCT list serve have reported she could benefit from some high-calorie items such as candy bars, cookies, GU packets, cold non-diet sodas, cold gatorade, etc. She appears to be semi-vegetarian based on posts I've read so I would avoid meat products. She is eating cheese products. 

She keeps a very limited FaceBook blog that is accessible without having an account.

In my humble opinion she is one serious bad-ass woman! 

Oh yeah, the current speed record holders are Scott Williamson AKA 'Bink' and Adam Bradley AKA 'Krudmeister' who co-hold the current record of 65d, 9h, 58m which was set in 2009.

There are a few other fast hikers approaching our area, the herd appears to be spread between Sierra City (mile 1197) and Burney Falls State Park (mile 1423) with the tail-end of the hikers still making their way north of Yosemite (mile 960).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Central Oregon Coast 'n Dunes

My fella and I did another road-trip along the Oregon Coast, more specifically a camping/scouting trip along the Central Oregon Coast between Waldport and Bandon. 

Trails and beach access in this section of the Oregon coastline are within the endangered Western Snowy Plover nesting area. There are several areas closed to dogs from March 15 - September 15. However, there were still plenty of trails and beaches open to Gauge doggy. 

Since my mobility was limited I spent most of my time on short paved and/or smooth trails, with a few short sessions walking in the sand each day. 

My fella did a few dog beach play times with Gauge doggy and a short out-n-back section of the Oregon Coast Trail between Sunset Bay State Park and Cape Arago while I wandered the Shore Acres State Park formal gardens and viewpoint trails.

Here are a few pictures we took on our trip. 

Oregon Dunes Day Use Area Overlook

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Umpqua River Lighthouse

Gauge 'n my fella found some interesting coastline.

The rock formations along this section of shoreline below Shore Acres State Park are part of the Coaledo Formation created from the collision of the Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates more than 45 million years ago. 

The 40-45 degree angles make for some dramatic wave breaking shows, especially during the winter. 

There was no shortage of beautiful cove beaches.

And, no shortage of good seafood. Our favorite place was Miller's on the Cove in Charleston, just south of Reedsport. These tasty baja crab tacos and a beer were $10 before tip! 

Suislaw National Forest has an amazing website with free downloadable topo maps for what appears to be ALL the trails and trailheads within it's boundary. 

If you go during Western Snowy Plover nesting season with a dog, you may find these links helpful. 

Here is the page that lists which trails are restricted during nesting season:

Oregon State Parks has a nice brochure of dog-friendly beaches: