Sunday, August 7, 2016


It's no secret that one of my passions is hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  Each year, I look forward to that particular week when we load up our packs and head out for our section hike.  We usually can only go for a week at a time, which includes 5 or 6 days of hiking and a couple days of travel time and it's become my "event of the year," so to speak.  But, as we all know, sometimes life steps in and things just don't work out according to plan.  This has been one of those years.  Many things have come to pass since we came back from the A.T. last October but we made tentative plans to return for a hike with a wonderful man we'd met a couple years ago who doesn't live far from us here in Tampa.  I'd planned our route.  We'd picked the dates.  All that was left to do was work out those last-minute details before heading up to Hot Springs, NC next month.  In spite of our best efforts, however, our plans have fallen through and we now have to set our sights ahead to next summer when we'll hopefully take on the Smoky Mountains.

Ordinarily, having the rug pulled out from under our plans so close to our departure date would have filled me with a sense of disappointment that's hard to describe.  What I'm feeling is something totally different.  Yes, I'm a bit disappointed because I do love our time on the trail.  I'd even been given the green light to go ahead and go on the hike as planned, minus my hiking partner, my sister.  I didn't even have to think about it really.  What having to put things on hold till next year has taught me is that going out on the trail without my usual hiking partners isn't what I want to do.  It just doesn't seem right to me.  The section hikes are something I share with my sister and my brother, whenever he can work it out to go.  Until the day comes where they tell me flat out that they no longer wish to take those hikes with me, I'll wait for them.  Perhaps that's because what I love about the A.T. isn't just what I get out of it personally, but more importantly, the memories I make with my family members.  So, as we head skate towards the end of 2016, the year will come and go without me stepping a foot on the A.T.  We'll get there next year.  I know we will.  Here's to us and taking on the Smokies in 2017!

Thursday, April 7, 2016


As we all know, water is key to our survival.  When out on a trail such as the A.T., you'll have to gather this valuable resource from small creeks or even piped sources along the way.  The water may look clear and clean but please...don't drink it straight from the source.  I know there are those out there that do/have, but it's always best to either boil or filter your water before drinking it.  In the long run, this can save you from some really horrible stomach issues down the line.

There are many filter system choices available these days, but the one I'm partial to (and that has never let me down yet) is the Katadyn Hiker series.  Yes, these add about 11 ounces to your total pack weight (and probably about a pound when the filter is wet inside) but it's weight I'm not willing to sacrifice.  I thought it might be useful if I listed a few tips here for those first-time users to (hopefully) make the process easier.  Some of these tips might seem like common sense, but I'll mention them anyway.

1.  Before the first use, the filter must be primed.  This is done by unscrewing the body compartment of the filter, removing the filter cartridge, putting some water inside, putting it back together, and then pumping it through the unit.  I always do this the night before at the hotel.  It doesn't take much water to get the system working properly.  (Note:  It can be difficult sometimes to remove the outside compartment so don't give up!)

2.  Before using your unit, secure the weight on the tubing to help keep the tube from floating to the top of the water. 

3.  Always (and I learned this the hard way because I didn't read the directions before using my filter the first time) secure the filter basket in the end of the tubing. This is essential to keep fine debris from clogging up your filter cartridge. 

4.  After use, try your best to keep the piece of tubing that was directly in the water source away from the tubing that you put down in your water bladder, ect.  I don't go out of my way to do this, but I do remove the inflow tubing from the filter and try to keep it separated from the rest of the unit just to try to minimize cross contamination.  Again, don't stress over this too much.

5.  In the even that your filter clogs and you're unable to clear it, you can always boil your water before drinking.  This is a bit time consuming but better than the alternative of big belly issues.

Hopefully those tips will be helpful to anyone using the system for the first time.  Also...just know that your arm might get a bit tired while pumping but you'll be super strong when you get home!  Overall, I've been very pleased with the effectiveness and quickness of this filter system and plan to continue to carry it with me on future hikes!