Tag Archives: hiking

Celebration after Struggle

IMG_2027Our first night in a tent was in Florida in Fort De Soto campground in Pinellas County near St Petersburg FL. We had decided to take on back country backpacking one component at a time and see how she liked it. This would just be the overnight component in a 1.5 person backpacking tent. Breakfast would be back country style too but that was incidental. There was a real bathroom, electricity, and the car was parked right there. It was to be followed and proceeded by restaurant food and an indoor bed. This way we only tried on the tent for style and a little outdoor cooking.

That night we sat on the shore and watched dolphins and fish jump out of the water. When we were ready for bed the wind was blowing about 10 miles an hour in the tops of the palm trees. This was a melody to me but sounded scary to her. You never know what emotions sound will trigger.

ALPS 1.5 man tent-about 4 lbs
ALPS 1.5 man tent-about 4 lbs

My tenacious tweety reported sleeping good when she slept because she really like the top of the line Big Agnus sleeping mat I had for her and her Northface sleeping bag rated for zero was certainly adequate for the 52 degrees.

The times she didn’t sleep was from the night mares of alligators coming to “chomp her”. So saying she was a little sleepy in the morning is an understatement. Be prepared that your girl may not be used to outdoors sounds at first. My Honey concluded as we talked the next morning  that her thoughts were irrational. I shared that time and experience would make her accustomed to outdoor noises and it would then be much better. I got really transparent and told her that I had been scared by some sounds during my first few nights sleeping outdoors. She recovered so much that she was even looking forward to the next adventure in the tent because the sleeping surface was so comfortable.

We settled in at the picnic table with the Jetboil, coffee and tea. Got our devotional books and Bible out of the car and tried to enjoy some quiet time with God. It was difficult because of the sleepless night and some other lessons we learned on that overnighter that I’ll share later.

To provide a reward for this effort…to apply salve to an abrasion…to cheer a cloud covered heart—we struck out in the car for a day in Tarpon Springs. It is a completely Greek town and they were having a town wide street party and we needed it. We sampled fun new food, ate flaming cheese and bought goat soap. We took pictures by the sponge boats, in the tourist cut out of a diver and with the big plastic turtle. It was a fun day that matched in intensity the level of the bad night.IMG_2054

We overcame some tough moments and rewarded ourselves with some very special moments. She now enjoys the tent experience so much more but sure needed a special day back then. She needed a romantic day exploring a very european-Greek looking town…to walk arm in arm all day relaxed and happy to be together.IMG_2058

From this experience we decided to always pair something awesome we know for sure we both like with a new experience that might be challenging.

Warm and Cozy by the Fire

Inside the beach cabana—our "cave" by the fire
Inside the beach cabana—our “cave” by the fire

Yesterday, I had fun telling you about hiking after getting to Mossy Ridge Trail in Percy Warner Park. Today I want to pick up where we left off as we got back to Indian Springs Shelter #4.

My Honey under one of the rustically beautiful designs.
My Honey under one of the rustically beautiful designs.

We celebrated our relaxing day hike in the woods—about 5 miles at a leisurely pace where we could talk—as we took more pictures at the shelter with it’s carefully fashioned cedar logs. Then before I went to work on the fire, cozy spot and food, we plopped down at the picnic table and munched on a few almonds to give our “dogs” a break.

A great cold weather use for a beach cabana.
A great cold weather use for a beach cabana.
Our magic carpet

My honey took lots more pictures while I built a fire and set up the Cabana. With a couple of old blankets on the bottom, the floor of the Cabana and three more blankets inside, it was our magic carpet.

Within 30 minutes, the fire was crackling, the rain was making gentle music on the roof and the Jetboil was hissing a happy sound as the water began to boil.

Ready to hydrate


Our Mountain House Chili Mac took two cups of water to hydrate and provided a yummy 300 calories with 15 grams of protein each when we split the package. Our hot beverage was Spiced Chai with honey and stevia.

Boots kicked off and ready to relax!
Ready to eat! Looking so sweet:-)
Yum! Yum!
One must be civilized…

My Hiker-Honey was very impressed that I knew how to fold a napkin as I made an attempt to be civilized.

I’m so hungry, I could eat my fork!

We were so hungry that I will bring more food for us the next time.

We also decided that we would succumb to the “need” for s’mores on our next hike.

My Honey in her hiker’s habitat

My Strider-Writer learned that she can handle more cold than she thought and still have fun. She says to tell you that in order to get the feel for it and do it comfortably, you just have to get started and learn as you go. Wardrobe adjustments are one of her happy things.

Right about the time we finished our meal and got snuggled up under our blankets by the fire, the rain became ernest in its decent. What a dreamy experience to hold my Honey by the fire with the rain pouring down and hear her happy sighs as the stress of a busy week just melted away.


Boots kicked off and ready to relax!

Here is the trail talk from yesterday

Here is her wardrobe wisdom

Here is the recipe for a romantic day hike

Recipe for a Romantic Day Hike

Come on Honey, let’s go!

Here is an actual list for a chilly fall day hike and the concept description—kinda like a recipe.

Warmth—stocking cap, base layer shirt, loose mid layer, jacket, rain gear, hiking pants, silk socks, smart wool socks, hiking boots, gloves.

Light—small pocket flashlight and solar charger with flashlight.

Fire—lighter, wind proof matches, starter block, kindling, eight sticks of fire wood (starter and firewood less than $8 at Kroger).

First Aide—first aide kit, emergency blanket, Tylenol etc.

Food—protein bars, Mountain Home Chili Mac with Beef, Jetboil, fuel, long handled spoon, large bowl to hydrate food, Nalgene bottle with measurement markings, paper towel, bowls and spoons, tea, honey, cups.

Navigation—directions to the park, GPS app in phone—Map My Run, back up solar charger for phone, map of park, detailed directions I typed out for each trail.

Hygiene—Sunglasses, tissues, paper towels to clean up before and after meal, hand sanitizer, emergency toilet paper.

Hydration—2 Liters of water each, day pack with bladder, filter just in case, water for cooking, water to put out the fire.

Memories—plenty of space for pics in phone memory and camera, blankets for the fire, pillows, stadium chairs, beach cabana for the fire.IMG_3084

Day hike concept—Sleep in a little, have our quiet time together with God, pack and drive to the trail head. Pick up fire wood on the way and get to trail about 11:00. Leave the meal and fire time supplies in the car and hike for a couple of hours. I wrote out some directions to a new trail that is not well marked…we’ll see how well I did. If it is short, we will explore and do some more miles. When we finish the hike and return to the truck, I’ll start a fire in the shelter fireplace. We’ll take a lot of pictures all day. I picked a shelter that has a short wall all the way around so that if it is windy we can sit on blankets in front of the fire out of the wind. We’ll make a late lunch using the Jetboil to heat water and rehydrate our meal. Then we will fix our tea and snuggle by the fire until we feel healed enough from the rushing demands of the week. Will douse the fire and head back home. Maybe we’ll get back in time for another game in the World Series.

Exploring Nooks and Crannies

Spectacular views and cozy moments come while discovering nooks and crannies—those out of the way places and small tiny spaces. IMG_1432

We keep our eyes open for places to feel cozy. Places where we can snuggle up together for a picture or take fun shots of each other. We enjoy stopping in a place just the right size to get out of the sun and rest a little while. Sometimes we stop to get in out of the rain. My Honey is really cooperative with my excessive photo snapping. Ladies, your guy might really like the way you look in all states of trail disarray. There is something meaningful about you struggling with him to get to a perfect spot. If he is like me, he will want to memorialize it by stopping time with a picture.DSC00248.JPG

She likes the overhangs that are just the right size too.IMG_2329

Take a load off and reflect on your day, your relationship, rest from the trail or just talk about the Royals in the World Series (shameless plug). Stop to see an unobstructed view.

Caves can be fun that aren’t too wet and dark. The critters that live there—hide there, the people who explore and our pets at home all like being in or under or between. Click here to find out what our cat thinks about nooks and crannies. He is very sophisticated and has clever insights.

In a cave hike we saw a bat that was so ugly it was cute. We saw stalagmites and stalactites.


This new pace I am learning to love. My normal mode is to burst down the trail or hustle through a cave with energy and speed trying to beat a time, get a good workout or beat the sun before it sets. I would only catch a glimpse of glory as I flew by. Leaping from one rock to the next as if the forest or cave floor was too hot to land on. I would say to my buddies that I wish we could slow down a little and get to look around but we rarely did.

Hiking with my honey has given to me so much meaning that adapting and going slower has produced joy. Do fewer miles and see more details of nature’s extravagant beauty. We laugh that I am the monkey and she is the snail. This is so true in the difference in our natural speeds. But as we have hit a speed closer to hers, it has satisfied my need to linger over the grand and epic sights. I enjoy the trail so much more. So stop in the nooks and crannies and let your eyes drink in nature’s visual nectar.

Lessons from Being Lost


When I was a child, I spent every minute I could in the woods. As I have grown older it has become harder to find the time and less enjoyable to be in the woods with my sweetheart at home. So we started this journey to find what works for us and meets our yearnings for the outdoors together.

In the last two blogs I told of one of our adventures where I really…actually…embarrassingly…got my Baby lost in the woods. We were dating then and thank God I still get to take more adventures with her after that. It was a short stroll. No significant distance and no obvious hazard. I was lulled to sleep by the fact that it was asphalt in the city and went unprepared.

There are some serious take aways from that night. I realized that I have to prepare at a higher level. It’s critical to have a prep plan as if I might be away from my truck for several hours. I suggest you only take the first step on a minor hike after the day pack is prepped with these things:

Plenty of water-we took a water bottle each that night but now I keep a two liter platypus in the day pack. This turns out to be too much on most little trips but at least we are ready.

Paper map-there is no replacement for having a paper map in a plastic bag in case you lose all power.

Jacket-we each tie an extra layer around our waists  because of awareness that the cold can come unexpectedly from wind, rain and from sun down…if you can’t get back.

Flashlight-the light on my cell phone is now reliable because of a solar power pack I carry. I also carry a flashlight as a backup to the backup.

Backup power-I bought two solar power packs that will each charge my cell phone twice. It is also the back up flashlight because of a light built in the design.

Some of these may seem like over kill or just the results of someone who has had a bad experience…they may be. I’ve been miserable and I’ve been comfortable. I like comfortable so much that I prefer to be over prepared. Even more importantly, my Love prefers to be comfortable.

An Easy Teaser Hike Whets the Appetite

IMG_2809Today, we were to start a one or two night adventure on the trail. Early in the week we made a change because that “time of the month” came early(staying flexible is critical, guys). My honey is exhausted so we picked a seriously scaled down event. One with a short distance, flat terrain, smooth surfaces, near a bathroom, ending with a restaurant meal, a Royals baseball game and good sleep in our own bed at home. (She’s from Kansas City and they are about to win the ALCS!) So I settled in ready to enjoy this time outdoors with her and moved my expectations of something bigger further out in my mind.

The hike was amazing! We hiked for 2.5 hours around Radnor Lake in our city and the trees were beautiful. We took lots of pictures of the lake and the colorful leaves. The temperature was a perfect mid 70 degrees, no rain in sight and more importantly, we were together. We saw lots of turkeys, a turtle, lots of chipmunks and several deer shelling acorns with their teeth.

IMG_2837To my delight, she said, “this is so pretty it really makes me want to go next weekend”. She went on to explain that this beauty, easily found, made her realize that she loves this so much it will be worth some hardship next weekend to see more of it. The plan is to spend two nights and most of three days hiking and camping in almost back country style.

IMG_2816I could have been irritated that we were being so domestic. We were passing lots of people; we were on asphalt part of the time and the location of the trail was so “remote” that we had to wait in line for a parking spot. If I had let my heart go there, I would have missed the magic of being with my bride. The experience of hearing her laughter and enjoying the perfectly timed kiss.  Please don’t miss what it right in front of you. Don’t be so focused on missing the grander adventure that you miss what will really make you happy too.IMG_2787