Sunday, December 6, 2015

Gone With The Wild Has Moved!

I have decided to move my blog to a new site. Follow me at:


Should be posting more soon. Please follow me there! Thanks! 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trout Stocking at the RRG

I have felt spoiled lately. I am able to fish, hike, and backpack anytime I feel the urge to get outside. Although I rarely stop and ask, "Who made this day possible for me?" So, when I heard the KY Department of Fish and Wildlife needed volunteers to help stock local trout streams, I jumped at the chance.

This was my first time helping with stream stocking, and like any new experience, I was a little nervous. I showed up to the scheduled meeting place, and was immediately put to ease by the great group of volunteers that had assembled. We talked about our favorite fishing spots and were eager to discover where we would stock trout that day, secretly hoping for private insider information that would help perfect our fishing strategy!


The hatchery truck showed up and we were off! The first streams we stocked were the Middle Fork Red River and the East Fork Indian Creek in Kentucky's Red River Gorge. These streams had easy drive-in access, so we used a highly technical method I like to call "dumping". Here is a short video of one of the volunteers at work:



Next we traveled to Swift Camp Creek. That's when things got fun! Access to Swift Camp requires a hike. We received a bag full of rainbows each to backpack in at different points along the stream. Once we found a place we thought would make a good trout home, we set the bag in the stream to allow the trout to acclimate, and after a few minutes released them.

My trout looking happy to be free! 

Overall, it was a great day of volunteering! I was happy to give back to an area that has been such a fun place to fish, and look forward to helping in the future. If you are interested in helping with a local trout stream stocking I suggest talking to your local Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Fungi found on a short hike in Red River Gorge! 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lake Cumberland Tailwater - Long Bar Fishing Access

To cross the river you may:


A) attempt to ford the river
B) caulk wagon and float across
C) take a ferry across
D) wait to see if conditions improve
E) make your husband wade across and hope he doesn't drown 


You guessed it! Option E is correct. 

Unfortunately, the flows were to big so we were unable to cross to prime trout water. Still caught a fish so it was a fun day!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Appalachain Trail Breakdown 2015

Many friends and family have lots of questions about my time on the trail.

Here are a few fun facts about my time on the AT:


Miles Walked: 1498.9 miles

Miles Left to Walk: 690.3 miles



States Finished: 10 states (GA, NC, TN, VA, WV, MD, PA, NJ, NY, Conn)

States Left: 4 states (Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine)

Number of Bear Sightings: 13 bear! 

Number of Rattlesnakes: 2



Times I Peed in the Woods: Oh, countless. 

Average Pack Weight: 25 pounds

Pairs of shoes: 4

Main Injuries: 1 sprained ankle in VA, multiple stress fractures in Conn

Amount of pop tarts consumed: 186

Taylor Swift Songs Sung: 7 (minimum)



Kick-ass Friends Made: Oh, countless.

Days I miss the trail: 84 days and counting

Hope to make it back: June 2016


Monday, August 17, 2015

Appalachian Trail Update

For my friends and family that do not know... I am off the trail.

I rolled into Salisbury, Connecticut on the night of June 25th with extreme right foot pain. Admittedly, it was a pain I had been ignoring for a week, but I kept telling myself to suck it up! You are a thru hiker damn it! Pain is the nature of the game. No pain, no Maine - am I right?

The next day I told my hiking friend, Mouse, I thought I would go to the hospital just to check it out. I figured they would tell me I was crazy and I could gladly hop back on the trail the next day. Instead, after an MRI they told me I had multiple stress fractures and to go home. I was devastated and immediately started crying, which immediately made the doctor uncomfortable. I could tell he had no idea what the hike had meant to me and so many other thru hikers like me. I had just made it to mile 1499 and only had 690.2 miles to go! I think he just thought I was some dirty hippie instead of an athlete trying to hike over 2,000 miles.

A few of my trail shoes and my newest shoe! 
I got a ride back to the hostel from the sweet lady that owned it and made my going home plan. I hated seeing Mouse head back to the trail alone, and hated the fact that I was headed back to KY via train then plane.

Don't get me wrong, I love being home with my husband and my two pups, but there are things I love and miss about the trail. Here are just a few of those things:

The Community
Every person I met on the trail was amazing. You feel an instant connection with everyone you meet. It's crazy how people you barely know become your family in a matter of minutes. I never thought I would bond with a bunch of guys while singing Taylor Swift. But hey, it happens. You also meet hundreds of people off trail that are willing to help you, give you a ride, or cook you a meal. The trail renews your faith in mankind.



Confidence
I know this sounds cliche, but I felt confident for the first time in years. I was making all my own decisions, carried all my own gear, felt I could conquer any challenge, and never for a second worried about how I looked when hiking! This confidence wasn't there on day one, but it is something I feel all thru hikers gain each day they are on the trail.

Sleeping
After walking 20 miles, you sleep because you are tired. Now that I am home confined by a boot, I am never tired. I find myself back to my bad ways and staying up all night! I miss getting up with the sun and falling asleep at dark.


Even though I am off trail and most likely done for this year, I one hundred percent will finish the last 690 miles of the trail next year. It was my original goal to thru hike in one year. Instead, I get to hike it over two seasons, doubling the amount of wonderful people and memories I will take from the AT. Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

8 Reasons Why Hiking The Appalachian Trail is Like Retirement in a Nursing Home.

After hitting mile 343 of the Appalachian Trail, I have come to a realization. Hiking the A.T. is like retirement in a nursing home.

Here are 8 reasons why:

1) You have saved up all your money and quit your job, only to find your self living on a fixed income.

2) You rarely see your friends and family. You now sleep in rooms with strangers that quickly become your new friends and family.

3) You smell a little funny. No one mentions it out loud, but everyone can smell you.

4) You rarely shower, and when you do it is more like a sponge bath. Have I mentioned my love for cleansing wipes?

5) You find your self going to the bathroom in things that do not flush. A bed pan is a lot like a privy.

6) You regularly incorporate soft foods in your diet. Instant mashed potatoes are a favorite.

7) You wake up at 5:30am and can't help but fall sleep at 7:30pm when the sun goes down.

8) At this point in life, you are use to the ups and downs along the way!



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Strong Are Thy Walls O Salem! More Inspiration for the AT

I set off to hike the Appalachian Trail in a few weeks and I am starting to get nervous! Only one in four hikers that attempt a thru hike actually finish the 2,189 miles of trail. I have done my best to physically prepare for the trip. More importantly, I have been trying to mentally prepare for the trip. I have a journal I will be taking, and on the first page I have written some helpful notes to inspire me in times of doubt. This way, when I am getting eaten by bugs and don't think I can take another step, I can look at my list and remember why I took this trek. Much of my inspiration will remain private to only me, but there is one example I would like to share.

It all started when I attended Salem College, an all women's college in Winston-Salem, NC.  Salem is steeped in rich history. Founded in 1772, it is the first all-womens college in the United States and the 13th oldest school in the nation.


More important is how it was founded. A group of 15 Moravian women walked from Bethlehem, PA, to North Carolina in 1766 to found the school. They walked over 500 miles to help start a school that would educate women, a not so popular idea in the 18th century. They did it without cuben fiber tents, easy water treatment drops, pre-packaged food, or a blazed trail! It makes me feel spoiled, but also thankful, that I will be able to go on my journey with all of my ultralight gear.

My 2,189 mile journey will be tough, but not nearly as perilous as the Salem Sisters' quest to establish my beloved Alma Mater. Without them I may not be who I am today, and I may never have found the courage to try this trek on my own. So whenever I have a moment of doubt, I will make sure to think of the sacrifices my Salem Sisters, both past and present, have made for one another.

I think it is safe to say you might catch me humming this song as I walk:

Strong are thy walls O Salem
Thy virgin trees stand tall

And far a thwart the sun lit hills

Their stately shadows fall
chorus:

Then sing we of Salem ever...

You know the rest! So, if there are any Salem women in the 14 states along the trail that would like to walk even a mile with me, just let me know! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Home Sweet Tent

Today I will be sharing information on my home for the next 5 months. When I am not staying in shelters along the Appalachian Trail, I will be staying in the most kick ass tent ever made in the universe! Not to mention a wonderfully warm sleeping bag, which is a good thing because I pretty much run cold all of the time; when it is 70 degrees in our house, I am wearing a sweatshirt while draped in a blanket.

Below is the break down of my shelter and sleeping system.

The Tent


I have the ZPacks Solplex Tent and ZPacks Ultralight Titanium Stakes.

  • One person tent
  • 14.6 ounces (16.2 ounces with stakes - that's one pound, people)
  • bathtub floor
  • bug netting
  • only needs two trekking poles and stakes to assemble (set at 122cm and 81cm) 

It is made from cuben fiber which is lightweight, very sturdy and weatherproof. The design allows for plenty of airflow but makes sure those pesky insects can't get in! My favorite part is the "tarp overhang" near the door, giving me extra weather protection at a fraction of the weight. These door flaps allow me to put shoes and other gear outside of the tent while still being protected from rain. The tent is made for a 6 foot tall dude to be comfortable, meaning it's a 5 star hotel for my 5'2" shrimpy frame. The Solplex is very easy to put up and pack up. Once packed it is about the size of a Nalgene and saves a lot of space in my pack!

It is not necessary to use ground cover with this tent, but I have a lightweight, cheap polycro-type ground cloth - sold at Lowes for winterizing your windows.

For more information, pictures, or to see a video of how easy it is to assemble the tent go to http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/solplex.shtml
The ZPacks Solplex is in the forefront. 
Trekking poles, tent, Nalgene for perspective, and ground cloth
ZPacks Solplex (extra points if you find the dog) 
ZPacks Titanium Shepherd Stakes

Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Bag Liner, and Sleeping Pad

Summer Bag (blue), Winter Bag (red), Sleeping Pad (silver, rolled), Silk Liner (green)
**Puppy not included**
Apache MF 

Apache Microfiber Bag (red winter bag)

The Apache MF sleeping bag is made by Western Mountaineering and weighs 1 pound 14 ounces. It has 17 ounces of some of the best 850+ power down out there, and has a conservative 15 degree fahrenheit rating. This is for the 5'6" sized bag, because once again I am short. 

Once the season warms up I will mail this bag home and pick up my summer bag.

Caribou Microfiber Bag (blue summer bag)

The Caribou MF is also made by Western Mountaineering and weighs 1 pound and 4 ounces. It is rated 35 degrees fahrenheit and is the perfect summer bag with 9 ounces of downfill. 

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Sleeping Pad

I know what you are thinking... why didn't you go with an inflatable sleeping pad? The answer is simple: I hate them! I know they are comfortable and get you a few inches off the ground, but I hate blowing them up, deflating them, and packing them up everyday. So I guess you can say I am lazy and that is why I have picked the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest sleeping pad. You simply roll it up and voila, you are done! Also, I don't run the risk of it popping and or getting damaged by a random rock or stick. And it is lighter weight, with a good R rating (a measurement of insulating warmth). 

Sleeping Bag Liner

I have the Sea To Summit silk liner for my sleeping bag. It will basically provide protection from dirt - keeping my sleeping bag clean and functional through many nights of use. It will also be a great blanket when I check into a hostel that has no linens, or for those really warm summer nights. 

All laid out VS. All packed up!

And there you have it! My home, sweet home on the the trail! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Water, Water, Every Where! Nor any drop to drink... until treated!

Recently, I have been inundated with questions about my upcoming Appalachian Trail thru hike. Are you going to carry a gun? How will you have enough food? Will you really poop in the woods? How are you going to carry all of your stuff?! Are you doing this because of that Wild movie? For the record, a big NO to that last question!

Due to all of the interrogation from family and friends, I thought I would take the next few weeks to write posts about my gear - what I will be taking with me on the trail, and why I chose it. I will start with a fairly easy topic. Water.

Unfortunately, I can not carry enough water with me for the whole 2,200 miles. Sad, I know.  What I will do is extract my water from creeks and streams along the trail. I am carrying two platypus bladders, one hose, and Aquamira chlorine dioxide water treatment drops. I will use the bladder as a vessel to collect the water from a stream, puddle, well, or spring. Then I will add the chlorine dioxide treatment drops to ensure I kill any nasty bugs that my be lurking in the water.

Some hikers, including hiking goddess, Jennifer Pharr Davis, choose not to treat their water before drinking. This takes balls that I do not have, and knowledge of what water sources are safe. On the other side of the coin, there are hikers who pack filters, pumps, and purification systems galore! These can be relatively heavy, or complex, or take time to operate. Complex things tend to break, leaving you S.O.L

So to ensure I do not contract Giardia, etc. I will be opting to treat my water. But I wanted a simpler system.

Here is my set up:


Platypus Bladders
           Each bladder holds 34 ounces (One liter) of water. Each bladder weighs 1.2 ounces and measures 6 inches by 13 inches. These bladders have proven to be lightweight and very durable. They are BPA-free, packable, shape easily to my packs exterior pockets, and have a food grade bacteriostatic liner.

Hose
          The Platypus drink tube is an easy addition to any bladder. In the past, I would not drink enough water on the trail, especially if I did not have easy access to my supply. The hose helps me ensure I stay hydrated while hiking. The hose only weighs 57.5 grams, is 40 inches long, and can be cut to whatever length you want.

Aquamira Water Treatment Drops
          The Aquaria Water Treatment Drops has no bad aftertaste. The active ingredients are Chlorine Dioxide (part a) and Phosphate Acid Activator (part b). According to the directions, you mix 7 drops of Part A with 7 drops of Part B, wait 5 minutes to ensure full activation, add the mixture to one liter of water, then let stand for 15-30 minutes. I usually let the water stand for 30 minutes even though the directions say 15 minutes will be sufficient. This is easy with two bladders - I drink from one, while the other is treated. Chlorine dioxide reliably kills bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. If you want to learn about the technology behind the drops go to the Aquamira website.

Here are some pros and cons to my approach:

PRO:

  • Lightweight Gear
  • Packable and durable
  • Reliable
  • Drinking hose gives me quick and easy access to my water on the trail

CON:

  • In times of drought it may prove difficult to transfer the water from a stream to my platypus
  • Water temperature can increase the time required to purify water
  • pH can decrease the effectiveness of my water treatment drops
  • The drinking hose I have does not have an on/off valve, so I have to make sure I keep it safe from any added pressure that may cause leaking
  • The drinking hose can freeze up, or get uncomfortably hot in the summer heat, so you have to remember to blow the water out of the tube when things get extreme

That's it in a nutshell!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Poetic Inspiration for the Appalachian Trail

I recently learned that the first stanza of Walt Whitman's poem, Song of the Open Road, had been engraved into rock along the AT at the entrance of the Trailside Museum and Zoo. I vaguely remember reading parts of Whitman's work in high school and college, so I thought I would look up the entire poem. Below are only segments of the entire poem that prove inspirational to me as I prepare for the trail (read the whole poem if you get a chance)!

Song of the Open Road, by Walt Whitman (1856)

1
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.
The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them...

5
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.


6
Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me,
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d it would not astonish me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room,
(Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelm law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.)
Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.
Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.
Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him,
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.
Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?
Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?


9
Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.
The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.


15
Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show 2015

The 10th annual Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show was on January 24th. I was happy to be able to attend and learn about local fly fishing. I have been to a few fly fishing shows, but most of them had more of a tenkara theme for me, specifically a Tenkara Guides theme. I have even helped watch the Tenkara Guides booth when all the guides were busy giving seminars and casting demonstrations. Did I 100% know what I was talking about? No, but I was able to pass out Tenkara Guide business cards! Haha.

Being a Tenkara Groupie back in the day ;)

When I walked through the doors into the Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show and started passing the vendors and retailers I was slightly startled. Tenkara was no where in sight. I wasn't completely in shock, because I have found that when I mention tenkara in Kentucky I am mostly met with blank stares. The awesome guys at The Lexington Anglers shop in downtown Lexington know what tenkara is, but they are professionals.

I also have to admit something. I don't know how to say this, but... I have never attempted reeled fly fishing, or Western fly fishing, or whatever you wanna call it. I fully confess that I am actually a little judgmental and snobby when it comes to Western fly fishing. So who am I to judge when someone doesn't know what tenkara is all about!?  Overall, I think we can agree that just do what makes you happy! Reel or no reel. 

I changed my mind frame from tenkara to Kentucky fishing. I was going to take this time to learn about the KY community and fishing landscape. They had some good seminars on local fishing spots and resources, providing information about conservation and local fisheries. The booths that interested me were Casting for Recovery, Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Services, Project Healing Waters, and WKU Fly Fishing. Let me repeat that last one... WKU Fly Fishing. Yes, Western Kentucky University offers a class in fly fishing! Crazy. I noticed numerous men over the age of 50 standing at the WKU booth contemplating quitting their day jobs and going back to school! I also learned that WKU will have a viewing of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival on February 21st. If you are in the Bowling Green, KY, area you should check it out! 

I had a fun time and hope that next year I might get the chance to introduce a different species of fishing to some KY anglers - tenkara. In closing, I have no closing. So I will just leave you with this kick ass poster I scored: 





Monday, January 26, 2015

Trees, Trout, and Nothing

Over the last month I have been lucky enough to have some extra time to try out some new fishing spots. However, I wasn't as lucky when it came to actually catching anything. Here is a brief overview of a few of my Tenkara outings. I am still a beginner - so any helpful tips are always welcome! 


#1 - Indian Creek at Red River Gorge, KY. 


Full of excitement, after hearing about Indian Creek, I hop into the car with my KY fishing license and my Tenkara fishing gear.  Rob drives me, my father-in-law, and our dog, Baloo, the hour from Lexington to the Gorge. 

Now, I am of a stubborn nature. When we get to the stream, I immediately disregard any advice Rob may have and set out in my own direction!  I find myself alone on a stream that seems foreign. Indian Creek is nothing like the streams I know in Utah. I try to read the water but this yields no results. I hurriedly walk through large pools and stir up the water. The only thing I seem to be catching are clumps of leaves and trees! Grrrrr. I turn into the Hulk and stomp around the water every time I hook another tree. I finally catch up to Rob and his father and sit on a log to gain composure. They have caught fish. Lots of fish. I slowly count to ten. Did I mention I am competitive? 
Untangling line, even when I am just sitting the line got tangled! haha
I am missing something, but at this point I am tired and just happy to sit and watch them fish. Right now they are in deep stagnant pools (places I would have normally walked right by) and they are watching for glimpses of rises in the water. I take note.
Baloo being a very good dog! 
This doesn't apply very often, but when you're fly fishing and your husband is a fishing guide, it might actually pay to listen to him. Please, if you know Rob, don't tell him I said that.

#2 - Otter Creek, KY. 


It is a cloudy day and I am prepared for the rain. We pull into a parking lot. Two other anglers are there, sorting their rods and reels for a day of fishing. We park, get our waders on, grab our Tenkara rods, and start walking toward the stream. The Western anglers are still getting ready - another reason I love Tenkara! 

A five minute walk leads us to a cloudy, muddy, off color stream. "Uh Oh," I think to myself. But I follow Rob and take my time looking for any signs of fish. We walk, wade, and walk some more until we finally see an area where fish are rising. I cast to this area multiple times with no luck. I keep moving upstream and catch a little minnow. I barely felt the little guy on my line! 


We keep plowing ahead with no luck. We turn around and pass the area with the multiple rises and the fish are still in action! Rob reminds me to take heed of my back cast because I tend to be too forceful, and after (finally) taking his advice I catch a 12 inch Rainbow! I am so happy I am pretty sure I scared every fish in the stream as I dance around/land the fish.  I go home happy.

#3 - Back to Indian Creek 

I literally catch nothing. Not even a tree, or a rock, or a log. Nothing! I notice how low, calm, and clear the water is compared to our last trip to this creek. We spot fish, holding deep in clear cold water.  They quickly scatter each time our tippet hits the surface. Rob doesn't land a fish either, so it makes me feel a little better.

The only thing I do that day is take stream selfies with my Sato rod. (I know, I know... enough with the selfies!)  I had fun, so it was a good day with or with out a catch! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Appalachian Trail 2015


Just doing some light reading about the Appalachian Trail. Oh, I haven't told you? Yes, I am preparing for an AT thru hike this year. Going NOBO. I first learned that the AT existed in 2005, but did not give it much thought at first. However, after thinking about it non-stop over the last two to three years, I have decided to attempt a thru hike starting in March. Only one in four thru hikers complete the 2,185 mile trail. I will have my work cut out for me until then. Stay tuned for posts about AT prep and backpacking in the near future. Wish me luck! 

For more information about the trail go to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DIY Ultralight Alcohol Backpacking Stove

Some married couples might take a romantic night out on the town, or have a candlelit dinner made for two. Other couples enjoy the simpler things in life, like making an inventory of their outdoor gear. It was on such a night as this that I realized, if it wasn't for my husband's gear, I would be up a creek without a guy to paddle the boat. Now, I have turned my focus on making sure I am equally equipped to enjoy an ultralight backpacking trek on my own.

That's right! I don't need a man. Girl power!  (Insert your own feminist mantra here.)  Anything he can do I can do better! 

The first piece of equipment I wanted to tackle was the ultralight alcohol cat can stove. I envied the stove my husband had made, so I cheated and stole his stove model.  Originally dubbed the Supercat by Jim Woods, this stove is one of the cheapest, simplest, and most reliable models out there.

Here are the steps I used to make my own cat can stove.

1) Purchase 3.5oz Cat Food Can.  Not gonna lie, I picked this particular cat food can based on one characteristic - it was a pretty blue!


2) Round up your supplies. Here I have the cat food can, a standard sharpie, hole punch, measuring tape, and .005 thick aluminum sheet metal. I got my aluminum sheet metal at Hobby Lobby for around $5.


3) Clean the can. Remove the cat food and label from the can. I was able to use nail polish remover to get the label glue off of the can.


4) Mark the height for your first row of holes. Turn the can upside down. With the Sharpie flat on the counter, twist the can to trace a line for your first row of holes. 


5) Now mark every half inch around the rim of the can. 


6) Use the hole punch to create a hole at every half inch mark. The top of your holes should be at the mark you made in step 4. 


7) Make a second row of holes. Each hole is placed between the two above it, with the top of the second row lined up with the bottom of the first row.


8) Make your own windscreen out of the aluminum. You can customize the windscreen to fit your stove and pot. I use a paper clip to hold it together when in use. 

And there you have it! Your very own ultralight cat can stove.  The can will hold just a bit over 1oz of alcohol fuel for each burn. I use HEET for fuel, and can quickly boil water using this system.  Below you can see the cat can stove with my titanium pot and the aluminum wind screen. 

With Titanium Pot
With Aluminum Wind Screen

I can now happily take a backpacking trip on my own or with some of my girlfriends... if any of my friends ever wanted to go backpacking. I guess that is what I will focus my attention on in the New Year - finding female friends to go backpacking!