Wrapping up in Glasgow

Well that’s us – trip complete. We wrapped up our adventure lovingly called the Haggis, Hops, Hiking and Hilarity by our crew yesterday with a final day of travelling about seeing the sights.

We started with a delicious breakfast at Wanderlust Cafe in Edinburgh – highly recommended! About dead centre on the Royal Mile with a very cool orange sign with a compass logo. The inside of the place was decorated all travel like – we loved it!

From there we made our way to the train station and hitched a ride on a locomotive from Edinburgh Waverly Station to Glasgow Queen Street Station. At Queen Street we checked our bags in at Left Luggage for a few pounds and then hopped on another locomotive to Stirling.

We hopped onto the Stirling 1324 Bus for 4.50pounds that that goes on a circle around the major attractions (Stirling Castle, National Wallace Monument, Stirling Bridge, and more) all day and you can hop off and hop on as much as you like.

We hoped on and headed for the National Wallace Monument (aka ode to William Wallace)! The monument is a massive tower that has 5 floors dedicated to telling the story of the battle at Stirling Bridge all connected with a very steep, windy staircase that I in no way enjoy! But the view from the top platform and all the awesome history is totally worth it!

From here we hopped back on the bus and headed to Stirling Castle and some lunch at the Portcullis Pub – they have toasties (grill pressed sandwiches of deliciousness) and cold pints mmmm

Now off the Stirling Castle – this place is also pretty awesome. Lots to see and the views from the parapet are amazing.

After the Castle we walked the 1km to the Stirling rail station – the town is so fabulous we could not resist taking more photos as we waltzed down the hill. Amazing all the old stone – we just love reading the date of the buildings.

We caught the express train from Stirling Rail Station back to the Queen Street Station where we grabbed our bags again and made our way the 10mins to our home for the night, the Merchant City Inn. We had a quad room – a room with 4 single beds and our very own bathroom. This was particularly nice for our crew after being in a hostel for 2 nights where we shared the bathroom with all the people. I am too old to share bathrooms I think lol

After dropping our bags and a quick freshen up, we went in search of the amazing building murals Glasgow boasts – Shar marked them all on city map and we had a bunch within like a 10min walk. Yahoo – off we went with Shar as our tour guide. We gave her a solid 4 out of 5 stars for the tour. The pouring rain cost her a star.

We finished our evening with an awesome meal and some pints at Bar Home and heading back to the Inn to prep for an early morning taxi to the airport. Our meal may have included Deep Fried Haggis Bites and Max & Cheese with Chorizo Pizza. What!? To die for!

We are now onboard our flight and heading home – an amazing adventure with an epic crew!

Brande

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Absorbing All Things Endinburgh

We have had 2 amazing days in Edinburgh! With so much history in every stone, a story about every street and the amazing back drop of Arthur’s Seat – how can you not love this place?!

We started our first day with a much too fancy Scottish breakfast at the Delgarven House Hotel on Kilwinning. I think the breakfast room must also be used for wedding receptions. We did our best to get our fancy on in our travel clothes eating sausages and beans!

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From there we caught a taxi to the train, the train from Kilwinning for Glasgow Central Station, took a quick walk from there to the Queen Street Station and then a train to Edinburgh Waverly Station! A quick 1.5hr travel time for 20pounds to discover an awesome historic city – perfect!

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Once in Edinburgh we found our way in no time to MacBackpackers Hostel right on the Royal Mile! This is the first hostel experience for a couple of the crew and I wanted to make sure it was a good one. I have stayed with MacBackpackers before and they are great! Always super central, super clean, a great price and the staff are so nice! We were able to book a room all to ourselves too (4 beds, bunk bed style) so that also makes a great into!

We check our bags into luggage lock up and stepped out the hostel steps on the Royal Mile to find some lunch and a pint. We found it almost right next door at the Royal Mile Tavern – a recommendation from the hostel lady who lovingly calls it ‘The Tav’. We call it that now too! It was so great. The Haggis was amazing, the pints cold and the staff were so friendly.

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From here we set out to see, absorb, sip, walk and eat our way through Edinburgh! We started with a walk down the Royal Mile to Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Palace. Here are some pics of our walk down the Mile and our visit to the Palace and Abbey.

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It’s hard work this tourist stuff so our next stop was the very old and just so cool Tollbooth Tavern for a cold pint and a glass of water. Such a cool pub and it was super busy – good energy!

But then we got hungry and a little chilled from our cold pints … needed a tea and scone after that at Procaffeination. There may have been some shenanigan picture taking on the very steep stairs to the bathroom after the caffeine soaked in.

Pints in, caffeine in – we were ready to waltz about the city for a few more hours and see what we could see! Wow you can just walk in any direction in this city and see cool, old stuff! Love!

Guess what? We got hungry and thirsty again after all this seeing the sights stuff! So off to find some dinner and another pint. Oh and this stop (our last for the night) included some live music. One guy playing a harmonica, tambourine secured to his foot, played guitar and sang. Amazing! He even sang a Mumford & Sons song – yahoo, our fav!

Day 1 Edinburgh complete. We headed back to the hostel for a good sleep so we would be ready for Day 2. Well the beds were comfy and the room was a good temperature but being right on High Street (Royal Mile) comes at a cost – the street never sleeps so we couldn’t either! We heard every siren, all the drunken crowds, and some guy loudly looking for Paul (wonder if they found him?).

On Day 2, our morning alarm was a window washer all the way on our second story – filling our drying boots on the windowsill with soapy water. Maybe they will stink less now!

Well we are up now – so Shar and I went for a quick hike up Arthur’s Seat as our morning workout, checked out an amazing old cemetery that included a watch tower that used to be manned by guards to catch grave robbers who were stealing bodies for medical study in the 1830s, and enjoyed a Turkish coffee. Great morning!

Shar and I headed back to the hostel and once all of our crew was ready for the day we headed out in search of breakfast. We were all happy it was sunny outside and took full advantage of this rare occurrence in Scotland by eating our eggs and drinking our teas on the Carruber’s Cafe patio right on the Royal Mile.

After breakfast we headed up to Edinburgh Castle – Rosa has a friend of a friend who left us free tickets for the Castle! No jokes! How epic is that? Cheryl and Rosa who have never been before set off to discover the secrets of that amazing stone building.

Shar and I who have been the castle before heading off to see what we could see in the crazy steep and twisted streets around the castle. Well we got so far as the Castle Arms Pub!

During our pint, we did some research on what else and where else our crew should venture in this amazing place. We planned for some Old Town time, a pub for lunch, tea in the afternoon and our ghost tour that night.

After our pints and after the Castle, we all had a chance to see the inside of a very old church that sits on the Mile. We had the chance to talk to the history lady at the church about the Order of the Thistle – the highest, elite order of knights in UK who are appointed directly by the Queen. This is not for the Sir Richard Bronson or Sir Sean Connery knights of the world but a much higher order and only 16 sit on the Order at a time. They had a women on the Order once too .. well besides the Queen herself of course. The first picture below is one wall of seats of the Order’s meeting place. The crest of each night sits above their seat.

Post our Church visit we headed over to Princes Street area where we checked out an old Parish, and walked through a cemetery where the oldest grave was from 1820. Amazing all the stone work on the headstones and tombs.

After this we headed went up to Rose Street which is so neat with its pink banners and pub after pub along the largely closed to traffic street. This area also has a bookstore which we could not resist! Yah got me a new book for our flight home.

Next stop was the Sir Walter Scott Monument which if you have the stamina and fortitude to climb the small, winding 287 steps up the tower to the top offers amazing views of the city. I made it to the museum and then platform 2 level for pics – then chickened our as the steps got smaller and more twisty. No thanks. The views were still amazing!

After that wee workout we needed a tea and scones. So off to Deacon Brodie’s Cafe we go. Sadly they were already out of scones when we got there so I sucked it up and settled for a Nutella crepe and a tea. Rosa got one too and we shared a banana to kick it up a notch. Mmmm Deacon Brodie is a perhaps one of the most infamous character of Edinburgh’s history – he designed the gallows and devised the best way to hang criminals. Years later he committed a crime himself (burglary) and was hanged by the very device he invented. Karma?

Here we are post tea ‘locked’ behind the Cafe bars.

Our next agenda item was to get some souvenirs or gifties for folks back home – the amazing cashmere tartan scarves in every shop were so hard to resist. Post shopping we headed back to the room to pack up a bit, and ready ourselves for our Haunted Ghost Tour we had scheduled for 930pm.

The tour was awesome. Ella our guide was dramatic (but not too much), sarcastic (in the funniest way possible) and just all around a cool gal for sure. We spent about 30mins above ground hearing ghost stories about the closes and winds (skinny alleyways between buildings) and then another 30mins in the vaults below the city.

The vaults were awesome! We were so deep below the streets you could not hear any street noise or see any natural light. It was all bricks, stone, rock and coldness. They had the place lit with candles (I am sure for effect) and some electric lights on the stairwell down. It was cold, it was damp and it was creepy! Good fun! Ella would stand with her candle in hand and tell the story of each of the ghosts in the vaults.

Post tour we of course had to snap a photo with this chick, she was just so cool. The picture does not do justice for her hair though – it was all purple, white, pink and teal dress locks. She had dragon earrings and a cape and funky heels on as well. What else would you expect from a trained historian turned Edinburgh ghost guide!?

Wrapping up the tour it was about 1030pm and we felt one last pint to toast our couple of days in Edinburgh was in order. So we headed to one of my favourite pubs, Deacon Brodie’s (yes that character again), and all enjoyed a cider while we chatted about our favourite moments of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh thanks for an amazing time. Now onward to Stirling and Glasgow for our final day in this wonderful little country!

Brande

Let’s Pack – Packing Tips

12 sleeps to Scotland …

Our Scotland adventure to walk the Arran Coastal Way and climb Goat Fell Mountain is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the actual packing – putting stuff in stuff. We have our Let’s Pack – Toiletries and Let’s Pack – Clothing lists and now we can go from lists and piles to actually packing it into a pack!

I have learned a few tricks over the years about the actual packing part and thought I would share them with you for your next adventure.

Roll It

Yup roll everything.

There are some folks who try and say folding everything nicely and all flat like is the best way. Nope! Actual science has confirmed rolling is the way to go – and my science I mean myth busters. Each little clothing roll takes up less space than a flat fold and you can tuck and squish and jam the rolls into little nooks and crannies in your pack (or luggage).

Don’t believe me? Try it! Pack flat and then unpack and do it all again rolled – yup told yah! Oh and if you are worried about wrinkles from the rolling, I get that but don’t think you need to worry too much. In my experience the wrinkle count is about the same with a roll or a flat fold and there is no getting away from the things. That’s all part of travelling I guess – being wrinkly and not giving one hoot cause you are on vacation!

Tip: half fold and then tight roll. What? For a shirt, for example, fold it in half with the arms laid flat over it – then roll it from the collar to the bottom. This will keep the arms all nicely tucked and the roll tight. For pants you flatten/fold the legs one over the other and then roll from leg bottom to waist band.

Stuff it

Quite literally stuff all the stuff! Have you heard of compression sacks, or light weight dry sacks or stuff sacks? These are magic bags! You jam them full of all your stuff (in rolls of course, see tip above) and then you roll or tighten the closure to suck out all the extra air and compress your stuff.

Here is a photo of the clothes I am bringing to Scotland:

Now here are all of those clothes, less my fleece, that have been rolled and compressed into my 8L lightweight stuff sack:

My fleece doesn’t go into the stuff sack because it will be coming on the plane with me as a pillow or shawl or blanket or maybe just a fleece as it was design to be. However I put it in this photo so you can use it to see just how small that stuff sack is – and it has all my clothes in it that were in the previous picture. I probably could have compressed it even more too!

You don’t need a heavy weight stuff or compression or dry sack for packing – something lightweight does the trick! So do not go out and buy those heavy duty water proof boat bags or anything – that will just add weight. We are focused on lightweight for backpack packing. Not only will these sacks help reduce the amount of room your clothes take but it also creates compartments of sorts in your pack or luggage to keep you organized.

Caution: using stuff sacks does not give you permission to pack more than you need! Just because there is a bit more space does not mean you need to fill it with that ‘just in case’ extra dress or that shirt ‘I hoped I would actually like on vacation’. Leave the untested and maybe items at home. Enjoy the space, not the extra stuff!

Ziplock It

As you have read in my past few blog posts – I love me some Ziplock magic!

I encourage you to put all your potentially messy and goopy stuff like shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen in Ziplocks when you pack it – both for the plane and on the the trip. I have been the gal who has a shampoo explode in her suitcase and can still get grumpy thinking about the mess lol

Ziplocks are also good for compression and compartmentalizing your stuff. The Sea to Summit or similar stuff / dry sack pictured above can be a bit tough on the budget – you will only ever have to buy em once and use them for every trip you will ever take in your life but they are not cheap. So if money is a consideration as I imagine it is for all of us – there is a back up Ziplock solution.

Grab some big Ziplocks to pack you clothes in. Maybe a Ziplock XL Freezer size for your shorts and pants, a XL for your shirts and Buffs, another L for undies and swimming costume. (I love that word)

Once you clothes are all nicely rolled and tucked into the Ziplock, you will want to push out as much air as possible and close the zip almost all the way. Leave about a 1inch section of the zip not closed. At this gap you are going to literally suck the air out of the bag and then close when it’s all gone. No joke. This really works!

Group It

Did you notice a theme among all these tips? I am big on grouping like items with like items and suggest this for anyone packing a bag, a pack, a suitcase.

Grouping your travel stuff basically mimics the organization you have at home. This will make finding things and re-packing things while abroad so much easier for you. Don’t be the person who has to un-roll and un-stuff everything to find that one thing – pack in such a way that you know where all the things are! This will save you time, reduce stress, keep your travel companions happy, and get you to the tourist stuff faster – the reason you packed all this in the first place!

There are a few different trains of thought for how to group items for your different stuff sacks, compartments or Ziplocks. Some people stuff by outfit – so they will have a roll for each day (bottoms, top and undies all rolled together) and out all those daily rolls in one stuff sack. I don’t bring enough tops and bottoms for each day so this never works for me but I do like the idea in theory. Some people may put all the tops on one sack and all the bottoms in another. This doesn’t work for me either because then I have to open both sacks each time instead of just one for the whole ensemble.

Finding the way that works for you may take a few trips or re-packs but once you do  – wow, the heavens will sing for ya!  Here is how I will be organizing for this hiking trip:

  • Big Stuff Sack: all my hiking clothes (not undies, socks, or outdoor layers like jackets)
  • Med Stuff Sack: all of my extra bits like pajama, city tourist clothes, train/plane clothes
  • Med / Small Stuff Sack: undies, sports bras, socks and liners, Buffs, toque
  • Med /Small Stuff Sack: all the dirty clothes

When I am on a non-hiking holiday, like a trip to a hot destination, I will have a large stuff sack for evening destination wear, a sack for daytime beach wear (bathing costume and cover-ups), a sack for my running gear, and one for all my undies, pajama, etc. So a bit different than my backpacking or hiking pack grouping but same idea.

Organize It

Roll it, stuff it, group it  – got it! You got the basics if you have all that well in hand, but  I figured I would dazzle you (ha ha I am probably the only one who is dazzled by packing ideas) with some additional packing / organizational tips to consider…

  • Shower Caps: use these to cover the bottom of the shoes you pack. You can use a shoe bag or Ziplock of course but when those aren’t available a shower cap works to cover the dirty sole of any shoe – the little elastic around the edge keeps it nicely secured. I steal every hotel shower cap I can get my hands on! Flip flops can go in one cap sole to sole and boots one cap per sole.
  • Make-up bags or pencil cases: back to grouping again here! Never leave an item loose! If you have some pens, highlighter, and a journal – put them all in a zippered case! Make it big enough for your wallet and passport too. If you have some toiletries you need on the plane (lip chap, hand cream, floss, etc) – put them all in a wee make-up bag or better yet the 1L clear plastic security bag at the airport. Little, light zippered cases will save you digging around trying to find stuff – from believing you have lost the 4th lip chap of the trip – and can add some personality to your pack. I have a pencil case for my toiletries that has a world map on it, I feel like such a globe trotter when I pull it out.
  • Extra Ziplocks and some elastics: toss a few of each in a case or extra Ziplock and bring them along. These are great for storing left over snacks, leaky tubes of face cream or whatever might bring en route, or soggy socks. Elastics are great for closing chip or crisp bags, keeping your journal closed when it’s full of train tickets and receipts or other ephemera, etc.
  • Carabiners: grab a few of these and attach them to your pack or your cases inside of your pack for the trip. A small one and a couple mediums should do the trick. These are great for clipping items into place in your pack or on your pack (like when you need to dry your socks you hand-washed that morning). I also use them to close the zippers on my city-tourist day pack so the sneaky pick pockets have to work a little harder. I use them to hand my towel or toiletries in the shower so my stuff does not sit on the floor wet. So many amazing uses for these things. Oh and you do not need to buy the rock climbing grade Carabiner – they should only cost you a couple bucks each for the ones you need.

Well that is my approach to packing the things in the things – now I am off to get some training in! With just 12 sleeps left I want to get as many miles as I can in every day – today I am touring downtown Victoria with 30lbs in my pack (aka my entire John Grisham novel collection) and my sneakers.

Next week we will talk about packing documents for your trip. Yup, even this subject is worth a whole blog post my Running for the Gate friends!

Brande 

Let’s Pack – Clothing

 

21 sleeps to Scotland …

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We talked about toiletries in my last post, Let’s Pack – Toiletries, so now lets talk about the biggest bulk of any suitcase, backpack or duffel bag… the clothes!

From conversations with many a travelling soul in hostels or hotels, on planes or trains, and chats among my friends and family – it seems to me that deciding on the clothes to bring on a trip is the toughest part of packing. I get that. This used to be something I really struggled with.

I used to hunt through websites and books for that perfect packing list – which of course alluded me as much as the perfect,  diet alludes us all. I would stand in front of my closet or dresser pulling out anything I might just maybe want wear while away on a trip. I would think of every possible scenario that could ever possibly happen and make sure I had an outfit for it. The result was always way too much stuff. My suitcase or pack would be burden not a comfort. Why was I creating burdens to take with me, when the whole idea of trip is to ditch those burdens at home and travel light and free?

Well after a few trips of carrying way too much, I started to think about what principles I could apply to how I pack that would reduce the amount I take on a trip without leaving me unprepared. Not only was I keen to stop over packing, I was also keen to make the act of packing a little less stressful. Also, if it made picking what to wear while abroad a little less stressful too that would be fabulous. So over a few more trips I developed some principles that really, really work for me – happy to share them with you here!

Packing (Clothes) Principles:

  • Leave items that still have price tags at home (or at the store)

If you have not worn it and loved it, it does not come on the trip. There is nothing worse than discovering a shirt is uncomfortable, those pants ride up, or even that something is broken or you don’t know how to use it when you are abroad. That was precious pack space and weight that has been spent on an unworthy item. Test every item you are taking with you before you take it with you.

  • Leave anything that is too special to wear at home, at home 

Clothes that you are not wearing at home are not going to get worn on a trip. We are creatures of habit and will reach for those comfort items more than the new or special almost every time. That summer dress you have been saving to wear again when you next go to Mexico – don’t bother packing it. If you don’t love it enough to wear at home it does not deserve a place in your pack. Only items that bring you joy, no matter latitude and longitude, should be coming with you on your travels.

  • All tops and all bottoms need to get along 

This is a tough one folks but has the most impact. This one principle will make decision making so much easier when you pack and when you decide what to wear while away. Here it is … every top you take should match any bottom you take. So that tank top needs to match the shorts, skirt and the pants you are packing. Those tights need to match every shirt you are taking.  An easy way to achieve this is to stick to black, grey and khaki on the bottom; with solids or muted, simple patterns on top. Refer to the next principle if you need more spice than this principles suggests.

  • Always pack a scarf or pashmina shawl 

Some of y’all will think this only applies to the ladies, but for those fashion forward and comfy-in-their-own-skin men I would also recommend this one for you too!

While I have been using the same grey scarf when I travel for 15 years, this is where I encourage you all to add a little more ju-ju (some spice for those of you who do not watch Queer Eye) to your trip wardrobe. Don’t let my easy choice colour deter you from some pizzazz here. Caveat is you need to be willing to wear it with every top/bottom combo you have. For people like me who are fashion-challenged this means a neutral solid colour like grey but for those of you who actually have a sense of style you can kick it up a notch here and get your own look on.

A scarf is great for so many things: when you are chilled and need a little something more than you have on but less than a jacket, a pillow on a plane or train, a fashion accessory, to cover knees or shoulders when visiting churches or sacred locations where you have to cover up, a make shift dress while all your clothes are in the dryer due to bed bugs, as a towel in a pinch, a tourniquet and more. I also use mine to create some privacy when staying in hostels – pick the bottom bunk for your bed, and then tuck you scarf under the mattress above you and let it hand down like a curtain.

With just these principles in play I guarantee you your packing stress will be reduced big time. Don’t trust me – try it! Oh and if you are heading out on a overseas long distance hike trip, I am also happy to share my full packing list with you too. Here we go!

Packing List – Arran Coastal Way, Scotland:

This list takes into account that our trip to Scotland is 2 weeks long , is largely based on hiking 20+km each, includes only a few urban tourist days, includes flights of over 10hrs, and temperature will be summer moderate 20C with rain on a pretty regular basis. This is a long distance hike to different accommodations each night, not a thru hike.

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Hiking – Bottoms

  • Hiking Capri
  • Hiking Pant
  • Hiking Shorts
  • Undies (cotton recommended) 1 pair/day

If you have zip off hiking pants that’s even better – as you can drop one of the other items from the list. For example if I pack my hiking pants that zip off into carpi length then I don’t also pack my Capri pants. Oh and make sure you trial your pants on an actual hike before you go. Shorts that ride up. undies that crawl or pant waistbands that bunch under your pack straps can cause rubs and even blisters that will ruin days of hiking for you.

Hiking – Top

  • Technical Long Sleeve
  • Technical Short Sleeve x2
  • Technical No Sleeve
  • Sports bra x2

I prefer short sleeves over no sleeves as I don’t like the pack straps being directly on my skin and it reduces the need for sunscreen on some hard to reach parts like the back of my shoulders. But if you prefer no sleeves then just flip the numbers here.

I always take 2 sports bras as I find they dry too slow to wash one evening and wear the next day. Also I want to wear the non-sweaty one in the evening after a hike post shower. In a bind, pun intended, you can also use your buff as a boob-tube of sorts if both the bras need a clean and dry. Again, make sure you do a few hikes in all your gear and especially your bras. Falling straps or pressure spots where a clasp is will make you crazy on the trail. If its uncomfortable at home it will be annoying as heck abroad.

Hiking – Outer

  • Gortex Jacket (shell)
  • Fleece jacket / layer
  • Toque (Buff can work)
  • Sun / rain hat
  • Departure Day Decision: Gortex rain pants

If you do not have Gortex outer layers bring the very best rain gear you can afford, borrow or already have. Arriving at to your accommodation soggy at the end of the day is all good when you have a bath and heat available – but what if you don’t make it, get lost or are tenting? Sogginess can make for some morbid outcomes if you cannot warm up and dry off at the end of a hike day.

Also, make sure you can put all the things on – trial having your no sleeve, short sleeve, long sleeve, fleece and shell on to make sure they all fit and are comfortable. If you cannot put your rain shell on over your fleece and base layers, you need a bigger one. You want to have things fit nicely over each other. Not too tight or you will be uncomfortable but also not too loose as you will lose heat in those spaces.

Hiking – Feet

  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking runners or sneakers
  • Flip Flops
  • Smart Wool medium hiking sock x3
  • Hiking liner sock x3
  • Running sock (ankle) x2
  • Compression sock (knee length) x2
  • Departure Day Decision: Gaiters 

This is largely where personal choice comes into play – there is nothing more important that finding the shoe or shoe combo that works for you. If you need some help deciding and want to know why I prefer a hiking boot and running shoe combo, check out my blog post 8 Weeks to Isle of Arran – Feet. No matter what your footwear preference is you need to test it over and over again. Make your decision early and train in them.

I take a number of socks because I have specific combos for my boots and my runners which I toggle between everyday depending on the trail terrain. I also take more than a couple Smart Wool Medium Hiking Socks as I find they tend to stretch when moist or after a day of travel and that is blister city for me if I don’t switch them out for a new pair. When you are training, find your combo and adjust this list accordingly.

Hiking – Head

  • Toque or Buff
  • Sun / Rain hat

I go nowhere without my Patagonia Beanie so this may something that you don’t need to bring with you if the weather where you are heading is always moderate. I love mine for cool morning starts, pints on the patio with the sun setting, and to block the light when sleeping on planes or train stations.

The sun/rain hat should have a decent rim on it to keep the elements from your face and neck – a good brim is also good for keeping the bug netting off your face if we have to resort to this measure when the Scottish midges get too bad.

Hiking – The Other Bits

  • Day Pack (rain cover)
  • Bladder
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hiking Poles*
  • Buff x2
  • Sunscreen (face/body and lip)
  • Bug Spray
  • Trail Guide, Map, Compass (waterproof map case)
  • Phone, Camera (Ziploc bag)
  • Some extra Ziploc baggies (to transfer your snacks into)
  • Carabiner x2 (to dry clothes while walking)
  • Departure Day Decision: Hiking Poles

Many of these items will also be part of your sight seeing tourist days as well – your phone, camera, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, Ziploc baggies are all daily items no matter the activity. Even a Carabiner or 2 should be clipped onto your lightweight day bag or purse so you can clip on anything you buy, secure your water bottle, secure the purse to your clothing (if you are in a high rate pick pocket city), etc.

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All The Other Things

  • Top and bottom pajamas (cotton)
  • Sleep mask
  • Earplugs or headphones
  • Cotton tights or light pants
  • Cotton No Sleeve, T-Shirt or Long Sleeve
  • Cotton button up (or Technical UV Button Up)
  • Journal and pens
  • Scarf or Pashmina
  • Light weight bag or purse
  • Light weight water bottle
  • Cotton undies 1 pair/day when not hiking
  • Small Ziploc of dry laundry soap

I am a big advocate of natural fibers when technical gear is not required. They just feel comfortable and cozy and I like to have what is immediately next to my body be as natural as possible. So I am all about the cotton undies everyday on a trip even if you have to bring a few extra pairs as they don’t wick as well as synthetic fibers. Also, I always wear cotton tights, cotton tank or tee, a cotton button up shirt, my scarf and compression socks on a long haul plane trip. This keeps me in cotton, gives me layers for when the temp changes on the plane, keeps the feet swelling down and is almost like being in pajamas without the world knowing it.

Do you have to do laundry on your trip? To have your hiking clothes available for sight seeing or vice versa you may need to do a little laundry. If you can find a laundromat great but I tend to not worry about that and just hand wash a couple of items each night or every other night. I do not put any of my technical gear in the dryer so a sink wash and a hang dry works for me – especially in the United Kingdom where most rooms have a radiator heater for quick drying.

Departure Day Decisions … prior to departing I will check the long term forecast and make a decision on if Gortex rain paints are needed. I will bring them if we they are forecasting a 50% chance of rain for 50% of the hiking days. I have read the guide book and continue to read blogs about the trail and will use this info to decide if Gaiters or hiking poles are needed. I will bring Gaiters if 50% of the trail is either high grasses, through overgrown bush or over gravel, pebble, shale based trail. This will keep the ticks at bay and the rocks out of my shoes which are blister makers. I will bring the poles if there is a 50% elevation gain or drop on 50% of the hiking days. This will keep my balance up and reduce the pressure on these four decade old knees.

There you go – now off I go to put all these items together!

Next week I will post some packing tips – some things I have learned that help make the actual act of putting stuff in that duffel, suitcase or pack easier before you go and when you are off gallivanting.

Brande

 

Let’s Pack – Toiletries

With just 5 weeks (eeeek) to our departure for Scotland and the 100km Arran Coastal Way and some Edinburgh and Glasgow sight seeing, these next posts few posts will focus on what is currently top of mind for our merry travelling band – what to pack!

While I would never claim to be a packing expert, I do have some handy tips and tricks that work well for me and just might be something that could work for you. How do I know some bits about this? Well, I have read dozens and dozens of books, follow way too many travel blogs, comb through loads of trail guides, and have had to pack for quite a few long, walking holidays myself. Also, I have some packing lessons I learnt the hard way that I would gladly share with you all to save you stress they caused me – like realizing I packed everything but a comb or brush and had no place to buy one for 4 days. Scarecrow!

This week lets focus on packing toiletries – yes, toiletries. You are probably wondering how could there possibly be enough info in my brain to dump on you about toiletries to fill a blog post and keep you entertained. Ha! There is more in my brain on this topic (and all things packing and prep) than you can imagine or that I ever thought was up in there. You will see. Here we go …

Toiletries – My Tips and Tricks: 

  • You will use less than you think of most stuff and more of some stuff than you ever thought. How confusing is that! Basically, don’t stress about amounts – figure it out by doing a trial! Schedule a two week duration (or the length of the trip you are going on) before you go and use the products you intend to take for that same time frame. Pay special attention to what you use everyday, how much you use, and also what you don’t use. Pack the items and the amount accordingly.
  • Don’t pack the ‘that would be cool’ stuff. Like you have his awesome charcoal mask you use once in a very blue moon but think hmm maybe I would have time to do it while relaxing or journaling on the trip. Nope! You won’t. Don’t pack it. If you didn’t use it during your home trial (see above) – it doesn’t get a place in your pack!
  • If you have a roomie or travel buddy, think about sharing. For example, one of you bring the conditioner and another the shampoo.
  • If you are bringing a blow-dryer, straightener, or other electronic hair appliance they will need a converter which can be purchased before you go – you will need one that not only converts the style of plug but also the voltage or watts. Cautionary tale, I have NEVER had success with a converter and I think my current international ‘blow up a blow-dryer’ count is at about 5 and the last even burnt my hand. Boo! Instead of buying a converter, I suggest you buy a small blow-dyer or whatever once you arrive at your destination (researching where there is a store that sells them and how to get there from your arrival spot before you depart of course – so it’s a quick stop and not a waste of a tourist day).
  • Prescription medications must be in their original prescribed container and should be in your carry-on that you take on the plane. This is important for customs but also for your health! Should your checked luggage be lost or delayed, you can buy new underpants and deodorant but replacing that prescription blood pressure medication is a bit tougher, expensive and can mess with your trip plans.
  • Over the counter medications that you might want to bring should be in their original blister packs but to save space I tend to take the blister packs out of the box and rip off just the name and dosage instructions from the original pack. I then toss an elastic around the blister packs and the package bits I ripped off so they are together and you know how much to take should you need to. If space is really tight, remember you can buy this kind of stuff in most countries so you don’t need to pack too much. Just pack enough to to cover you for a few days for immediate relief until you can buy more locally. I suggest a few of the following: Gravol, Immodium, Pepto Bismal, Daytime Cold & Sinus, Nighttime Cold & Sinus, Tylenol and/or Advil plus any other specifics you tend to suffer from, i.e. maybe cold sore medication or something like that.
  • Always pack an extra lip chap or 5! I swear there is a lip chap conspiracy in this world where they magically walk away, lose themselves, disappear, invisibility cloak themselves, something. I don’t lose things but I cannot keep a handle on a lip chap so something is going on with those wee tubes! I will be bringing 4 on this trip (one in my day pack, one in my carry on, and 2 spare in my toiletries kit).
  • Everyone is pretty and somehow most especially when they are happy, and I find I am pretty darn cute (tee hee) when travelling cause I am so much in my happy place! So don’t worry about bringing stuff to glam yourself up with – happiness will do that for you! Think simple day to day toiletries stuff not night out on the town, look at me like I am in Las Vegas stuff.
  • If you use bar soap, think about cutting it in half for the trip. I have a rule – 1/2 bar of Ivory lasts me 30 days so long as I dry it after each shower. I take with me a 1/2 bar Ivory and a 1/2 bar Rocky Mountain Soap Company Shave Bar on each trip of 30 days or less. I dry them off after the shower so they do not dissolve more than necessary and they are stored in a wee baby zip lock together – they get along and appreciate the company I think.

Toiletries – My Packing List: 

Here is what I will be taking and/or recommend folks consider taking, in travel size containers that will be the perfect amount plus a wee squeeze extra for your trip.

  • Face Cream and Face Sunscreen (daily, combo if you have it)*
  • Face wash, wipes or soap (some use their body for face, or have a combo)
  • Shampoo and conditioner (or combo if that works for you lid)
  • Daily hair products (I use an oil in my hair every few days to keep it silky and have a wee baby travel bottle I use to take just enough for the trip)
  • Make-up (powder, mascara, eye liner, lip gloss, lash curler, and a bit of cheek colour which can also be used eye shadow if you  wanna kick it up a notch)*
  • Make-up remover (if needed, aka for my waterproof mascara)
  • Deodorant or antiperspirant*
  • Body cream
  • Body soap (1/2 bar)
  • Shave soap (1/2 bar)
  • Razor
  • Tweezer
  • Comb and/or brush (aka anti-scarecrow device)
  • Daily medications and vitamins*
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss*
  • Q-tips
  • Some hair taming things (bobby pins, elastics, scrunchy)
  • Hairspray
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Tiny bathroom spray so your roomie doesn’t have to smell you post bathroom ick
  • Perfume**

*I take these items on the plane with me so after 15 hours of travel with 10+ of those on a plane, I can do a little pre-landing freshen up and hit a new country with confidence!

** A trick I use for perfume to avoid bringing a glass perfume bottle with me … dampen a few paper towels, spray liberally with your perfume and store these damp, smelly towels in a air tight Ziplock bag. When you need to smell nice (before landing on your transatlantic flight, out to the pub for eats after a day of hiking), simply dab the perfume soaked damp paper towel where you would usually spritz and return to / resell the Ziplock. Magnifique!

Toiletries – How to Pack Them Advice:  

  • Perfume – see above **
  • Every day and just in case – have two lightweight, mesh cases for your toiletries. One that stores all your everyday stuff from face cream to mascara to shampoo. The other for the just in case like those sinus or allergy meds that you hope you never need. You keep this second one buried in your bag and the other on top for easy access! This way you are not shuffling past some of these just in case items to get to your daily sunscreen – saving loads of time and frustration in your daily routine.
  • Hands and surface free – keeping on that same theme of having one bag for all that you use everyday, also think about putting an S hook or carabiner on the bag for off the counter storage. This is especially important when staying in hostels or B&Bs with share bathrooms where counter space is at minimum or at best soggy from the last patron and no one wants to put a soggy toiletries bag back in their pack.
  • Ziplock it – store your shampoo, conditioner and other gooey toiletries in a big ziplock bag when you check it in. A poor firing lid, the pressure on the plane and baggage handling can cause gooey implosions from those items. While easy enough to clean up, you do need to be careful about wasting the volume of product that was meant to last the duration of your trip. If the mess happens in a ziplock you can still use what made the mess!

Well that’s the toiletries run down – told you I had a lot to say about dental floss and shampoo!

Brande

Goat Creek to Goat Fell

Yahoo lassies!

On Monday the crew of us heading to Scotland to complete the Arran Coast Way in July had our one and only chance to train all together and it was awesome!

Shar selected the Goat Creek Trail for us seeing it would mimic much of our path in Scotland. I sure hope so too because the trail was great and I could do that for a week for sure!

The trail starts at the Goat Creek trail head just outside of Canmore and ends 19km later at the Banff Springs outside of Banff (the trail tail / trail butt as Rosa and Shar joked).

The path was undulating for the most part, up away from Goat Creek and then back down again as we left Canmore further behind and gained on approaching Banff. Just a few slogs up overall really – what a treat!!

At the head of the trail there was a big ole sign warning of wolves and grizzly bears in the area. Always a nice ‘welcome to the trail you hikers who may also double dinner’. Ha! Usually I see these signs when I am alone hiking and they freak me out – which 4 of us hiking though it was way less intimidating. Ok maybe not way less but at least a bit less.

Best way to curb the ‘gonna get eaten’ fear is to launch into full ‘don’t eat me’ mode. This includes being generally loud on the trail – holding conversations, hollering out a word or two every 50 feet or when approaching a bend in the path or a creek, and staying together if you have a hiking tribe.

Really you are just hoping to scare any wildlife away before there is any chance of you startling them into eating you. We also did a quick run down of what to do if we do see a bear, cougar or wolf so we were all on the same page. We did this loudly of course as part of our ‘be heard and be seen’ wildlife strategy. (I like to call things strategies so they sound all planned and awesome – even though this this was more of a ‘holy crap, what if’ scenario discussion.)

We had a lot of fun with the calling out a word every 50 feet or so strategy; turning it into a game of sorts. This keeps the bears away, is fun, and seems to eat up the miles quickly! We did the classic name that country sound off starting with A thru to Z, then a round for celebrities and one for names of songs. This last one may have include some short bursts of singing which may have been the best thing for keeping those pack hunting wolves at bay. At least when I was belting out the ole Toy Soldier by Martika! Remember that one?

During our walk we focused on a two things – the beauty of the trail and our gear. Lots of gear talk. Mostly gear talk. We were out there on Monday to test gear. Everything from socks to hats, and from undies to backpacks to see what will make the cut for Scotland.

I discovered my penchant for being cheap has resulted in wearing decade old SmartWools that don’t keep their shape any longer resulting in under the heel blister potential, and that my new hiking capris from Eddie Bauer are great but they are not the replacement for my long standing favourite Nike capris that need to make one final trip me thinks. I also confirmed that after logging probably 1000s of kilometers in my Asolo Backpacking boots across the globe I may need to splurge for some new insoles. I better get on that quick so I can train the next 6 weeks in them before we depart.

Rosa tried the switch from boots to shoes technique to see how that worked for her dogs – a strategy I deploy on 20km+ days with great success especially when it includes compression socks! Cheryl discovered that the pants she thought would be perfect were not and will not be making the cut for the trip’s packing list. Shar confirmed her hiking shorts are perfect for the trip and that the wax from Baby Bel Cheese can be used to prevent sunburns on your the nose if there is ever a shortage of sunscreen.

Overall the trail of 19km took us just over 4 hours at a very easy pace with lots of wee stops to check and test that gear and some snacks mid way too. The weather was overcast with some small breaks of sun – perfect for hiking! Not too hot or cold. Oh and

A little extra time was added to the trip for an extra special reason! We had to make one special pit stop for Rosa to see if Jamie Fraser of Outlander was perhaps at this standing stone – nope, she did not hear bees. Doh! We will try every standing stone in Scotland for you Rosa until we find him.

Oh and we had to stop for Shar and Cheryl to knock off a few yoga moves for those tight ham-dogs and hip-flexors too.

We rolled into Banff arriving at the trail butt by the Banff Springs Hotel of amazingness. But us classy gals didn’t stop there for a cool, fancy drink. No way! We made our way down to Buffalo Bills for a cold pint and some meat!

Then we headed up Banff Main Street to catch the Roam bus for $6bucks back to Canmore where our vehicles were waiting! Lots of peeps bike the trail we walked so there were even some bins strapped to the front or the back of the bus to bead back to Canmore.

Am awesome trial and trail day for all of us! We all loved the trail and each of us figured out something a little more than we knew before about our gear for Scotland.

Eeeek the trip is coming fast!

Brande

8 Weeks to Isle of Arran – Feet

Well with 8 weeks to go till departure I have a big decision to make – boots or no boots?

Seems crazy to even consider hiking 100+km in soggy Scotland without my beloved, make me happy, bring me joy as soon as I slip into them boots. But I have a love / hate relationship with my Asolo boots and that makes this a big decision.

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Weight: My boots are a mid-backpacking boot  – which means they are heavier than a hiking boot or shoe but lighter than a heavy backpacking boot. Together they weigh just under 3lbs and while that may seem like not much right now when you add that to the bottom of your feet for 25,000 steps or more every day it definitely adds to the workout. Not to mention my pack weight when they are not on my feet. I have strong enough legs, knees and ankles that I could most likely go with a light hiker or even a cross trainer like my also very loved purple running shoes from Nike. hmmm

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Waterproof: My boots are totally waterproof – lovely, amazing Gortex that has kept up its waterproof-ness now for over a decade. I can tell you that dry feet are happy feet. While some hikers may be all like “I don’t mind if my feet get wet”  – I am not one of those. I know from experience that wet feet become swollen, the skin becomes weak and soft and that means blisters, blisters, blisters. Also, I wear SmartWool socks and wet and wool means stretching, which means bunching, which means (yup you guess it) blisters, blisters, blisters. If there is one thing Scotland is famous for (maybe almost as famous as Ireland for) its rain. Hey they named that misty, hang in the air rain Scotch Mist for a reason! So if the weather is perfect every day of hiking, I wont need my boots but .. well it is Scotland.

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Underfoot: I love the weightlessness of my running shoes for sure but a rocky or shale path is havoc on feet in running shoes. The bits of sand and grit gets kicked up and settles into your socks and shoes – making blisters, unless you annoyingly stop every 100 yards to clear em out. The rocks under the soft tread of sneakers feels like a few bumps at the start of a 25km day but those same rocks starts to feel like broken glass and upturned nails as the dogs bark louder and louder by the end of the day. My boots have a Vibram sole – hard equals heavy, but hard also means you do not feel rock edges or the bumps and clumps underfoot. In fact, the bottom of my boots are so good that I can balance on a pointed rock as if its flat (assuming I am doing spirit fingers for balance and posing for a photo of course).  Now I could find the perfect balance and get me some trail runners which feature a much harder sole than regular cross trainers, and I could where gaiters to keep the dust and rocks out of my shoes and socks. But hmm 9 weeks out I do not want to be breaking in anything new and gaiters assuming good weather make the feet sweat and we are back to the wet feet issue above.

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Change of pace: now I have to say one of my favourite things to do is to switch it up. If the path is rocky or scrambling is involved; my boots are fabulous for grip, kicking in a toe hold, keeping the grit out, and generally keeping the feet happy. But when the path is maybe on a flat surface or through the wee Scottish villages; then my sneakers are light and bouncy and I feel like I can really kick the pace up a notch with 1.5lbs less on each foot holding me to the earth. I also love switching to my sneakers from my boots when the sun starts shining, as a kind of celebration of Vitamin D. Not to mention throwing on my sneakers and compression socks (of a lovely lime green variety cause I am sure the bright the colour the better the compression) for an awesome pick me up – both in blood flow and in hiking attire appeal.

Hmmmm decisions, decisions -well, no not really. I have decided – I am taking both.

This will surprise very few people I suspect; its kinda my thing to have both. I just cant imagine how lonely my Asolo’s would feel being left out of the fun and I love a good mid-day change up! I also like that when I have my boots or my sneakers secure to Missy Morado (my Osprey backpack’s name) she sits upright and proud in her purple goodness.  Really its Missy confirming my choice to bring both really! Yup.

Brande

Guest Post – The ‘Be You’ Training Plan

Well Hello!

My name is Shar and I am Brande’s sister – here as a guest on the blog today! I am VERY honoured to be adding to the amazing posts that B (what we call her in our family) does throughout her adventures and her process of preparation!

We are gearing up to do a long distance walk in Scotland, the Arran Coastal Way. This will be long distance walking adventure number 2 for me! The Great Glen Way in 2013 with B was one of the most memorable adventures of my life time and I am sure this one will be that much better!

The reason I wanted to hop on the blog today was to address those whom are intimidated by the word “preparation”!

I respect so much the thought, care and dedication B puts into every day leading up to an adventure. But for me, I have a short attention span for most things! So the idea of getting through a long training routine in anticipation of wanting to just get going is SUPER unnerving for a person like me!

Best advice I can give is … do things that are gonna get you out there doing things! Don’t try to be or do something your NOT! Don’t over schedule and over complicate! You do you, and don’t apologize for it!

B made up this awesome training program (20 Week Training Plan) and sent it out to us for help and guidance on where to start and I took that program and twisted it a bit so it fit my family’ incredibly crazy schedule and my need for short and sweet commitments!

For me, I love love love Jillian Micheals‘ workouts – she is the bomb when it comes to short but effective work outs! The longest I have done is 28mins or less!! No going to the gym or finding time to hit an hour class; it’s my house and on my time! I don’t have to think, she tells me what to do and I am working every muscle I need to support the multiple kilometers we are going to cover on our next adventure! Start with the Beginner Shred if you want to give it a try – quick and effective! Oh and Yoga meltdown is an awesome one as well! Rock star!

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Alternating that with a 5km Running App- which gets me outdoors with out having to rearrange schedules and move mountains to get there! Just throw on the runners and go! Combine it all with a 15-20 min recovery yoga when and if I can fit it in!

Throwing in some fun 30 day squat or plank challenges here and there makes it a workable routine that fits within an already crazy schedule and it all does not have to be done at once! Trust me I know how important fitting it all into a crazy schedule is!

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To keep me going – I keep an pretty elementary schedule of what I need to do each day and cross off with a happy face when I complete it! Writing it down helps cement the commitment and crossing it off cements the accomplishment!

Does it make a difference? Why can’t you just stick to walking for your training?

Well what I noticed after just a wee few weeks is the recovery. Yesterday, after a 17km moderate hike with one of my besties – my recovery was nothing.

guestshar_training_hike_may2018.JPGI felt the workout which we all want but I did not FEEL the workout! If you know what I mean. My endurance was awesome, the steep climbs and equally as important the steep descents weren’t painful!

This is what makes hiking for an average everyday Joe (or Shar) like me that much more amazing!This helps keep me motivated, it is such a great feeling when I do get the chance to get out and enjoy the mountains with out my body bitching me out when I’m done!

So start simple! I started the first week with just the Beginner Shred workout and added in the run on alternating days a couple weeks later – so it’s not overwhelming and I wasn’t struggling to keep up with life!

Take that step… even if you don’t have a long distance walk ahead! Feels great and keeps us young!

Happy Trails!
Shar

9 Weeks to Isle of Arran – Trails

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With 9 weeks to go, its time to get out of my own neighbourhood (as amazing as it is with all the awesome local trails and hills) and hit trails that we will more like the Arran Coastal Way in Scotland.

So the next 2 months will be spent in search of Arran like hiking trails and paths to train me up! This will be a combo of boardwalk, beach, hiking trails, hiking paths, some pavement, and a small-ish mountain or two. I am also aim to walk in every manner of weather to give my gear every possible Scottish-like experience and determine exactly what pieces are worthy of this great adventure.

I kicked off this training focus yesterday at Golden Ears Provincial Park in the Maple Ridge area of Greater Vancouver, British Columbia! Wow this Park has a trail for everyone and every level of fitness. So beautiful and only about an hour from my place with a really beautiful drive once you are in the Park.

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I was hiking alone yesterday. As there is largely no cell service in the Park, I was aiming for some well used trails to be safe. I hoped to get something of the undulating and shale based sort to get me warmed up. I also wanted to take advantage of the overcast day and chance of rain. The Lower Falls Trail which is just a short 5.5km that leads to a pretty amazing waterfall was a good fit!

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I am glad I went early in the day as there was way too many people out and about by the time I made my way back to the parking lot – including that one person in a crowd of 50 who insists on playing their music on speaker while walking in nature. Wonder if they now that nature has its own music? You know birds, waterfalls, rushing rivers, growling bears and roaring cougars and such. Much more pleasant to the hiking ears than a Brittney Spears playlist (insert angry face here) me thinks.

But for every one out there that makes you (ok me) a little crazy, there is another that makes me out and out smile. Looks like I did not have to be afraid of creepy people or animals yesterday – but rather these very ferocious wood monsters at every turn. I love when people have a bit of fun when they see something more than a log or cloud or rock.

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It also brings me joy to see any tree that reminds me of the cartoon movie Fern Gully!

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I would have liked something a little longer and harder yesterday. I have my eyes set on completing the Golden Ears Canyon Loop in the coming weeks, when my hiking buddy Matty is available. I could see the orange tree markers for the Loop leading up and over the ridge and I was sorely tempted to give it a go but safety first, darn it. So I turned around like a safety bear and made my way back at long-leg speed to up the work out.

Golden Ears Provincial Park I will be seeing you again soon!

Brande

 

10 Weeks to Isle of Arran

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We are officially 10 weeks from departure for our long distance hike around the Isle of Arran, Scotland and up and over Goat Fell Mountain as our finale! Not sure if goats have actually fallen off this mountain or if humans nicknamed Goat fell off the mountain to prompt such a name – either way I plan on staying firmly planted to the pointy rock myself.

With just 10 weeks till departure (eeeek) and a distance of just over 120kms to cover by foot once we get there, physical training needs to hit full swing this week so we are feeling spry and fit every day when we approach the 20km mark and our end of day pints!

Here is what my training plan looks like for Week 10:

  • Hike: 4 x 6km+ hikes (1 of these should be all hills, up and dreaded down)
  • Pack: 10lb pack this week, work to find that strap sweet spot (any rubbing?)
  • Gear – Lower: use the sock combo I will use on the actual hike (any issues?)
  • Gear – Upper: use your poles on 1 hike this week if you plan on taking em
  • Strength – Lower: 2 x 55 squats, 2x 25 lunges each leg, 2 x 40 calf raises, 2 x 20 fire hydrants
  • Strength – Upper: 2 x 15 cat/cows, 10 x Double D’s, 2 x 60sec elbow plank
  • Finishing Touch: Yoga (at least once this week, any kind will do)

I am one of those peeps who loves a goal. Some may call me competitive, some call me driven, and some may call my an over-planner / control freak. Well, whatever name you wanna throw out there, it does not matter to me. What matters to me is that I like to feel good doing whatever it is I am up to – I like a bounce in my step when I hike!

I know travelling half a day on a plane to enter a time zone that is half a day ahead of what I have at home can make it so you look and feel like Gollum after only 5km of a 120km hike. So I prep hard to avoid that from happening. I want to throw my head back and laugh joyously and courageously at a 30km day of hiking, to have a smile on my face and spirit fingers in the air at every km that we achieve!

Having a robust training plan that works for ME is key. I love checking off the weeks and training sets to departure. It feels like every one I complete gets me that many sleeps closure to departure. Its like going to sleep early on Christmas Eve so Santa will come faster! That’s a real thing -its science really!

For this trip, I created and shared with my fellow Isle of Arran hikers (Shar, Rosa and Cheryl) my 20 Week Training Plan. I created it for me but with all of us in mind, and each of these gals are making it work for them as it works for them. Its not a prescription or a directive, its an idea of how to get those boots on and those thighs ready to work-it once we touch down in one of the most amazing small countries in the world!

I am also happy to share this 20 Week Training Plan with you!

Please know that I am not a health professional, exercise professional or any other designation that would suggest I am an expert in training plans. I am but a gal who loves to walk long distances and has done enough over the years to know what MY body needs to feel good at the end of a long hike day that will be met with a long hike the next day. You are welcome to use and adapt my 20 Week Training Plan as it works for you and your body and your goal. Just as my fellow Isle of Arran hikers are doing.

When we arrive on July 24th, It will be nearly 5 years to the day since my boots last hit the Glasgow Airport tarmac (when me and my sis Shar did the Great Glen Way!). Wow is this Scottish lass ever itching for her Alba fix!

Brande