“You need special shoes for hiking – and a bit of a special soul as well.” - Terri Guillemets
I had every intention of either subtly bringing up the idea of taking Buzz with us to Alaska or having the conversation after Zac read my last blog post. Instead, we were out to dinner with friends last night talking about our upcoming trip. “You should bring Buzz,” they said. Apparently, my eyes immediately showed that I had intentions of trying to make that happen. Zac kind of brushed it off, so I dropped it.
On the way home from dinner, I brought it up again. I said, “You know, just think how cool it would be to have Buzz out there, running around with the sled dogs of Alaska. He would give them a run for their money.” Zac’s response was that it would probably be a lot of work to bring him along, but in my head, I was still thinking about how I could talk him into it.
This morning, out of curiosity, I checked the lodging we booked for the trip for their pet rules. Anyone that knows us knows that we move from place to place to get the most of our trips, so we have four different places booked for our stay. Two of the four places allow pets, but the other two do not.
It’s safe to say that bringing Buzz to Alaska is out of the question, but it does not mean that I won’t think it through as an option for our next trip. We have never taken him on a plane with us before, but he’s small and does well in the car for extended periods of time. I assume he would be able to handle an extended plane ride as well.
Zac does also have a point. It would be a difficult trip to bring him along for along for, especially since we plan to do so much hiking in the national parks. Not only that, but I don’t know what he would do if he came face-to-face with a bear.
Either way, Wednesday we will be one month out from our flight. Typically, in the weeks leading up to our vacations, we start reviewing our packing list to see whether or not we need to buy new or anything special for the trip.
When Buzz is with us, I normally have to stock up on dog treats, poop bags, and new outfits for him (I mean, a dog of his stature simply cannot wear the same outfits and bandanas repeatedly). When he is not along for the ride, though, the next thing I look into is our camping and hiking gear.
Alaska will be a unique adventure for us because there are a lot of options to rent all of the gear we might need. Hiking boots and hydration packs can take up a lot of room in our luggage - and weigh quite a bit. This could mean a last minute decision on our part as to whether or not we need to take our gear with us or just rent when we get there.
We definitely will not be bringing a tent or sleeping bags along with us for Alaska. I do know that the next time we camp, I will have to look into a new air mattress. Ours had a few leaks in it for our past trip. We couldn’t ever find the leaks to patch them, but always woke up quite a bit closer to the ground than when we went to bed. That’s an issue for another day and another trip, though.
For hiking in Alaska, boots, hydration packs, headlamps, and snacks are all good things to think about.
First up, boots. I never used to track the mileage on my hiking boots or shoes. However, I’ve fairly recently adopted the habit of tracking shoe mileage. It sure is funny how running can seep into other parts of our lives, and this is one way that has happened.
For running, hiking, walking, or any other activities, it’s important to think about the mileage on each pair of shoes. If the shoes get overused, they break down and can start causing knee, back, or other body pain. Running shoes should only be used for around 300-500 miles, but hiking shoes should last around 500-1000 miles (this is all dependent on the person, feel, type of shoe, etc.). After passing their prime, running shoes or hiking shoes can be retired - and make great yard shoes.
We have both had our hiking shoes for quite some time, but I don’t think either of us have probably walked 500+ miles in our current pairs. When I got the pair I currently have, it was back when I still wasn’t yet tracking my mileage. To be honest, I was hoping that similar rules applied to hiking boots as they did to running shoes. I would have an excuse for buying a new pair for Alaska, but apparently I won’t need a new pair. When I do, though, I will be tracking the mileage on them via my Garmin so I can be sure to keep tabs on when I’ll need another new pair.
Next, hydration packs. We have both had our hydration packs for quite a while - at least three years for me, and Zac got his not too long after I did. I’m going to be honest here. Typically, I would recommend a name brand like Osprey, CamelBak, or Salomon. We are huge advocates of REI, who have tons of options for great hiking hydration packs. I just bought a running hydration pack from REI (a running pack is much different than a hiking pack, but if interested, I would highly recommend the running pack I purchased).
That being said, we actually bought both of our hiking hydration packs at Walmart. They were both last minute on-vacation “oops-we-need-hiking-gear-but-didn’t-pack-any” purchases. Surprisingly, our Walmart hydration packs have held up very well over multiple years and a lot of hiking. They both still have their original hydration bladders. Neither of them leak, neither are falling apart, and they are both still comfortable for long hikes. Win-win-win!
The biggest piece of advice I would give for hydration packs would be to make sure to try them on and be sure to know how to size them. An improperly-fitting hydration pack can cause serious chafing. Even with no chafing, it can cause a lot of discomfort or back pain. Another shoutout to REI - they will help fit people if asked. This can be really helpful, especially for those that aren’t exactly sure what to look for. If wanting to do things without help, though, The Adventure Junkies provides an in-depth article about how to properly fit a hiking pack.
Lastly, headlamps and snacks. We didn’t bring headlamps with us for quite a few vacations. After a few early-morning hiking trips, though, we realized they were the best way to go. Pretty much any headlamp will work, but one thing I always like to do is check to make sure they’re still working. I also make sure to pack extra batteries, even if I don’t think we’ve used the batteries currently in the headlamp much. There would be nothing worse than being prepared with the headlamps for an early start to a hike, but not having those headlamps work.
We may go on trips a lot, but I’m also a cheapskate. That means that I pack snacks for the airplane to avoid extremely overpriced airport and airline foods. I’ve also found over the years that some of the airline foods really mess with my stomach, so I try my hardest to stick with just accepting their water or coffee. Snacks that work well for me on the plane include (but are not limited to … because I love snacks) pretzels, trail mix, protein bites, fruit snacks, etc.
I have to admit, I’ve done almost nothing all day except write this and watch New Girl. I’ve watched the series so many times through at this point that I can’t even remember how many times I’ve seen it - maybe three, maybe four or more.
I remember reading somewhere once that re-watching the same movie or TV show could be a sign of psychopathic tendencies. Since I couldn’t remember any details, I went down a rabbit hole to research. For those who care about a totally non-travel related topic, I found that there was a study completed at The University of Chicago that stated, in short, it is not a sign of psychopathic tendencies. It is instead just a way to get those feel-goods and nostalgia going.
No matter how healthy science says it is for me to keep re-watching New Girl today, I’m officially signing off to go do something different. I might go out and adventure through the nearby trails. Adventuring isn’t always about taking trips far away from home. Sometimes it's about exploring close to home.