Timberline (Conclusion)

This last trip was a big one for me. This was the first time that I’d been out on the trail for four days. There was a major defeat that led to a big detour. This was also the first trip where I felt that my gear was just what I wanted and my menu was great too.

The only real change I made to my gear on this trip is that I carried an extra pair of shoes. This allowed me to get one pair wet during stream crossings and still have a dry pair to put on afterward. There were times when I didn’t even bother, just hiking along in my wet shoes. One of the great things about Fivefingers is that I can wear them wet without any real problems.

The big difference for my feet was conditioning. I’ve spent the last year learning to run in Fivefingers in an effort to build up my foot strength. After last year’s trip, I could barely walk on my brutalized feet. This time I was much better off, with my feet feeling strong on the trail and sore, but still healthy, when I got home. I think that the ‘barefoot’ running really paid off for my feet and my fitness as a whole.

I made some minor changes to my menu that seemed to work out well. I decided to get rid of trail mix altogether. Though I enjoy eating it, something about the composition seems to mess with my digestion and leave me feeling heavy. This time I took a mix of almonds and chocolate covered cashews. I didn’t really like eating them on the go, but they were perfect for munching at the end of the day. Next time, I will take a small mix of chocolate covered almonds and cashews in their place.

I left my meals the same and experimented with the snacks that I carry for between meal snacks.  I ate a protein bar (Clif’s Builder’s Bar) for my morning snack. The low glycemic index means that it digests slowly, releasing energy over a stretch of time and fueling me through the morning. In the afternoon I had Larabars, which I generally love. I also carried Shot Blox for when I needed fast energy.

The mix worked great. Bars are easier to eat while on the move and they hold up well in my pocket. The only change I might make is to switch to Lara’s new protein bar, once I can find some and try them out. I’d like to move away from the soy protein that Clif uses, so I’m interested in the pea protein in Lara’s Alt bar.

One of the other small differences in my routine was the use of electrolyte tablets. I brought a couple of tubes of Nuun tablets and generally used one in the morning and another in the afternoon. I’m happy drinking plain water, but I sweat so much on the trail that I wanted to make sure that I’m replenishing my salts. It’s hard to tell how much they helped, but they certainly didn’t hurt and I enjoyed them.

I’m hoping to take another trip in a couple of weeks. One last outing before my son starts kindergarten next month. I’ll make a few tweaks and keep trying to dial it in. As much as I enjoy the gear and planning, it is the trail that makes it all worth it. With a little luck, I’ll be out there again soon.