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Walking Distance

Walking Distance presented by The Trek and created by Alison Young, is a bi-weekly podcast that invites experts to help us explore a unique subject in the wonderful world of long distance trekking. Walking Distance is for day hikers looking to break into backpacking as well as more experienced trekkers looking to level up their knowledge and seek inspiration. From multi-month trips to thirty mile loops, from the high alpine to the desert valley, from spiritual pilgrimages to long weekend getaways, this podcast will serve as a deep dive on why we believe that everything truly is within....Walking Distance.

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#11 | "Miranda in the Wild" ft. Miranda Webster

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Miranda Webster, the star of REI’s Youtube series, “Miranda in the Wild.” Beginning her career as a cashier at REI, Miranda now educates new backpackers about everything from meal planning, how to wash gore tex, and most popularly, how to poop in the woods. Blissful Hiker covers the Youtube filming process, how Miranda relates to her Youtube audience, and advice to others hoping to break into the outdoor industry. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com. Walking Distance is sponsored by John Reamer and Associates. Go to www.johnreamer.com to learn more. Interview with Miranda Webster 1:48 - Background on Miranda and “Miranda in the Wild” 2:50 - First of all, AOC reposted you on Instagram? What did she repost and how did you feel about it? 4:37 - How does it feel that you’ve helped someone of her stature to start backpacking? You’ve ushered a new person into the world of backpacking. 5:20 - You do have a dream job - how did you make the transition from being a backpacker to working in the outdoor industry? 7:18 - You embody the type of spirit the REI brand is after. Who came up with the idea of “Miranda in the Wild”? Did you go from cashier to Youtube star? 11:10 - What’s so great about the series is that you’re just being yourself. Who works with you, and what are your producers like? 11:54 - Do you write out what you’re going to say, or does it grow organically? 12:57 - Have you ever had any weird video fails? 14:27 - Why do you think the video format works so well? 15:40 - Sometimes there’s a feeling that to backpack, you have to be perfect and look like the Patagonia ads. So you putting the real process out there and sometimes looking silly on the trail, is relatable to everyone. 19:07 - How did you find your niche talking about relieving yourself in the outdoors? 20:00 - How does REI feel about your approach on video, being natural and laid back? 21:35 - There’s a lot of burping, and a lot of bleeping of swear words. How does that work out with your job contract? 22:48 - Do you have a favorite video you’ve created? I really enjoyed the backpacking hygiene video. 24:20 - For people listening, you’re talking about doing a video spending only $200 to do a backpacking trip with gear.  25:05 - How do you balance your personal trips with your adventures for “Miranda in the Wild”? 26:47 - Do you feel like being a well known figure in the outdoor industry has changed anything about your experiences in the outdoors? Do people recognize you? 28:25 - Do you have advice for people looking to break into the outdoor industry? 29:30 - What do you want your career to look like beyond “Miranda in the Wild”? 31:00 - We’d always love to hear from you – drop a line at WalkingDistance@TheTrek.co - And if you love what you hear, tell your friends! Mentioned in this episode: REI’s Miranda in the Wild series Miranda in the Wild on Instagram Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow Walking Distance on Facebook and Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

32mins

21 Jul 2021

Rank #1

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#10 | Sing Peak ft. Yenyen Chan & Jack Shu

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we dive into the formation of the National Park Service, and the backcountry chef behind Yosemite: Tie Sing. Sing, a Chinese-American working in the early 1900s in the midst of intense hostility towards Asian-Americans, persisted through working for national parks. Known as the “gourmet chef of the Sierra” and “the philosopher of the Sierras,” Sing Peak in Yosemite National Park is named after Tie Sing. To tell Tie Sing’s story, Blissful Hiker is joined by Yenyen Chan, a Yosemite Ranger, and Jack Shu, former Superintendent of California Parks and Recreation. Blissful Hiker covers the history of Asian-Americans in America’s National Parks, efforts against Asian-American hate, and how we all can pay homage to Tie Sing today. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com. Walking Distance is sponsored by John Reamer and Associates. Go to www.johnreamer.com to learn more. 1:04 - “Scenery is a splendid thing when viewed by a man in a contented frame of mind. Give him a poor breakfast after he has had a bad night's sleep, and he will not care how fine your scenery is.” - Stephen Mather 2:45 - Background on Tie Sing, the Chinese-American backcountry cook who made early excursions into future national parks possible in the early 1900s. Interview with Yenyen Chan 3:20 - What was Tie Sing like? 4:04 - Tie Sing was an American who lived during a time of intense hostility towards Asian-Americans; they persisted and found jobs where they could, usually at hotels and road crews that benefitted national parks. 5:22 - Two roads built by Chinese-Americans through Yosemite are the Tioga and Wawona roads; the Tioga Road connects the valley to the east side and is the highest road in California. 6:35 - Tie Sing was the chef for the US Geological Survey, which spent a good deal of time in the backcountry. Mather recruited Sing to convince VIPs that a National Parks Service needed to be created, but also to inspect the route for the John Muir Trail. 8:32 - Robert Sterling Yard, a friend of Mather, was hired to chronicle the journey of the National Parks. He wrote about Tie Sing and his extraordinary cooking. 10:03 - Tie Sing knew how important meals with VIPs were. He contributed in a way that influenced their decision making, by writing them personalized notes at their place settings. 12:17 - Tie Sing had already made his mark before impressing the VIPs. In 1899, the chief geographer named a peak after Tie Sing on Yosemite’s park boundary, called Sing Peak. Interview with Jack Shu 13:30 - Jack Shu worked as the Superintendent of California Parks and Recreation, and was board president of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation. His career has been about encouraging large institutions such as the National Park Service to tell more inclusive stories about heritage. 14:00 - Shu points out that institutional change is difficult, especially with institutions that are revered and have storied histories already. Shu wasn’t entirely aware of Tie Sing or the stories of other Chinese-Americans, but decided to get involved. He designed an annual pilgrimage to Sing Peak, which he plans to dedicate a decade of his life to leading. 16:22 - The hike to Sing Peak requires two nights out, with a height of 10,500 feet and rock scrambling at the end. Both Jack Shu and Yenyen Chan have climbed the peak every year of the pilgrimage. 18:14 - Shu even helped a 70 year old woman summit the peak, who had never backpacked before, named Gladys Wong. 19:46 - In late April, Congress passed an anti-Asian hate bill, in response to the uptick in violence against Asian-Americans. The legislation will help the Department of Justice expedite review of hate crimes and perform public outreach. 21:58 - This summer, Yosemite will open an exhibit of the original Chinese Laundry buildings in Wawona Village. The story of the group’s park in making the park will be on display, including Tie Sing. 22:44 - Several Asian-American hikers are raising awareness of diversity on the trail and confronting Asian American hate, all while they’re hiking iconic long-distance trails. 24:44 - Keep in touch about your experiences as a hiker – and what you might like us to cover on the podcast. You can write us directly at WalkingDistance@TheTrek.co.  25:27 - The pilgrimage pays homage to Tie Sing with a potluck dinner at the end of the hike where everyone tries to outdo each other, with different themes every year. Mentioned in this episode: Following the Spirit of Tie Sing - National Parks Conservation Association Beyond Gold Mountain: Yosemite’s Chinese American History - Sierra Club Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow Walking Distance on Facebook and Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

26mins

6 Jul 2021

Rank #2

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#09 | Hiking with Kids ft. Gayheart Family, Percy Family & Heather Balogh Rochfort

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Jason Gayheart, Heather Balogh Rochfort, and Kayla and Fynleigh Percy. Jason Gayheart, lives in South Carolina and will be hiking the Continental Divide Trail this summer with his wife Jackie and their three children, ages 16, 12 and 8. Heather Balogh Rochfort, who you might remember from the first episode of Walking Distance, recently co-founded WildKind Closet, a non-profit that offers low cost outdoor gear rental to families. She also released the book Moms Who Hike - Walking with America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers. Kayla Percy and her 7 year old daughter Fynleigh are currently NOBOs hiking the Appalachian Trail. Unlike the Gayheart family or Balogh Rochfort family, Kayla is a single mom conquering the trail with Fynleigh. Blissful Hiker covers how to include kids in the logistics and planning of a long hike, the most common questions about gear for kids, and motivation for kids during hard days on the trail. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com. Walking Distance is sponsored by John Reamer and Associates. Go to www.johnreamer.com to learn more. Interview with Jason Gayheart 1:35 - Introduction to Jason Gayheart and his family, who are hiking the Continental Divide Trail this summer. 2:50 - As an east coast family, why not hike the Appalachian Trail? How did the plan come to be, and how did you make it work to hike with your whole family? 3:09 - Why a thru-hike? 3:30 - You mention school, so how did you handle schooling for your children? 4:10 - So, this should be the ultimate family vacation! Was that the intention? 4:54 - Have you always had your kids hiking with you, since they were babies? 5:34 - I’m wondering about each of the kids. What is each of their hiking styles, and how do they push each other along? 6:22 - How are you managing the logistics? Does everyone carry their own things? How do you manage tents? 7:15 - How do you manage cooking and food for five people? 7:55 - This must be a real learning experience for your children too, what do you think? 8:15 - What are you looking forward to the most on trail? 9:10 - There’s plenty of dangerous things you’ll encounter on trail. How are you preparing the kids for that? 10:25 - You talk about taking the experience as it comes, but it is a thru-hike and you need to plan to make miles to complete it. What are your mileage goals? 12:00 - Someone commented on the CDT Facebook page where Jason and Blissful Hiker connected, kids can do anything; it’s often adults that hold them back. Jason’s youngest son is a few months younger than Buddy Backpacker, so setting a new record is a good motivator for the family to finish. Interview with Heather Balogh Rochfort 13:34 - Hiking with kids often allows us to share in their curiosity and wonder, and have a more joyous experience ourselves. 14:30 - One reason Heather knows so much about backpacking with kids is because so many people told her that her outdoorsy life would come to an end when she gave birth. 15:10 - You get some of the same questions over and over about logistics and gear. So what are the main issues to consider before taking a child on a backpacking trip? 17:42 - Gear can be one of the biggest issues, which is expensive. Adults can buy one great sleeping bag to have for a long time, but for growing children, how do you suggest dealing with gear? 19:34 - You were outdoorsy before you had a child, and you still are now. You made a suggestion to get kids started early, but is there an age where children aren’t even interested? What do you do when they’re tired and you need to go one more mile? 23:10 - Someone commented in a CDT Facebook group that kids are sometimes the ones that keep the adults moving. Maybe that’s not the case with your child right now, but what are your thoughts on that? 25:46 - Would you take your daughter on a thru-hike when she turns 7? Interview with Fynleigh and Kayla Percy 26:23 - If you were going to give advice to a little girl hiking up a hill, who was hungry, what would you tell her? 27:28 - How old are you Fynleigh? 27:30 - Can you tell me about your backpack? 27:40 - Do you know how much weight you’re carrying? What’s in your pack? 28:05 - Why do you think your mom wanted to take you along on the Appalachian Trail? 28:30 - You seem to have a smile on your face in every picture. Do you feel happy on the trail? 29:10 - Not supported in the traditional sense, Kayla and Fynleigh resupply along the trail and plan together every step of the way. 29:20 - What did you do to get ready for your thru-hike? 29:43 - What was the response from your family when you said you were going to thru-hike with Fynleigh? 30:05 - You set mileage goals for yourself, but you have even surpassed those expectations. What are your goals? 30:40 - What’s been your hardest day on the trail so far? 31:35 - It does not seem like either of you are whiners, especially Fyn.  31:50 - Fyn, can you tell us why you’re not bothered by the rain? 32:15 - How do you think this hike is going to change you? 33:00 - As of this taping, Kayla and Fyn are halfway through the AT and just entered Pennsylvania. Their trail names are Super Mom and Super Girl. Kayla’s “why” for bringing Fyn is to teach her that she can do hard things. The Gayhearts are about to enter Colorado on the Continental Divide Trail as they head north.  34:30 - Have you taken a backpacking trip with your kids, or are you thinking of it? Talk with us at walkingdistance@thetrek.co.  Mentioned in this episode: WildKind Closet Moms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers by Heather Balogh Rochfort Kayla and Fynleigh Percy on Instagram Gayheart Family on Instagram Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow Walking Distance on Facebook and Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

35mins

22 Jun 2021

Rank #3

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#08 | Emily Ford

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Emily Ford, the first woman and person of color to thru-hike Wisconsin’s 1,200 mile Ice Age Trail in winter. Emily is from Duluth, and the head gardener at the historic Glensheen Mansion. She completed her Ice Age thru-hike with a dog she cherished, Alaskan husky Diggins. Blissful Hiker covers the unique loneliness of solo backpacking, humanity’s relationship with wilderness, and Emily’s perspective on what her hike means for people of color.  Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com. Walking Distance is sponsored by John Reamer and Associates. Go to www.johnreamer.com to learn more. Interview with Emily Ford 1:43 - Background on Emily Ford and the Ice Age trail 3:03 - This winter was mild for Wisconsin standards, but weather standards are different for normal activities and for hiking. How was it to hike in the Wisconsin winter? 4:12 - What did you pack? I read that you carried 60 pounds. 5:30 - Can you talk about your sleep system? What was the rating for your sleeping bag? 5:50 - What stayed the whole trip and what did you get rid of? 6:20 - You said there wasn’t much snow in the beginning, but I just imagine postholing. How did you stay upright in the snow? 7:14 - You mentioned that you cried. Do you want to share any reasons that happened? 8:58 - Can you introduce us to Diggins? She’s also at the forefront when you’ve talked about your thru-hike. Where did she come from and what was your relationship like? 10:32 - Was Diggins there to help you cut trail, or mostly for companionship? 11:34 - You got into backpacking more as an adult? How did you learn about the Ice Age trail and why did you choose it? 12:14 - More than half the trail is footpaths, and some are connected routes. How did you plan where to camp and how you were going to walk it? 13:38 - I heard you had great trail angels and trail magic along the way, what happened? 16:08 - This is the biggest trip Emily has taken, but choosing something that hasn’t been done before fits along with who Emily is. 18:15 - One of the reasons why Emily loves backpacking is the solo aspect of it, the opportunity to think alone and think a lot, to dig into deeper psyches.  20:05 - I love that in one of your posts you quote some children you met, and one asked if you ever get bored. Did you? 21:30 - In one of your posts, you reacted to the wolf slaughter in Wisconsin where 216 wolves were killed in 3 days. You wrote about owning the wilderness as another way of privileging ourselves. How do you see yourself on the trail and in the wilderness? 23:22 - Right now as we’re speaking, it’s the first day of the trial for the police officer who killed George Floyd. You’ve done something amazing during the time of COVID, but for others, particularly people of color, it’s been really hard. What do you think your hike will mean for people of color? 24:45 - Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can see applying to your life as a gardener or just in general? 26:25 - What would you tell your younger self, or someone else just starting out? Would you change your training or attitude going in? 27:25 - Emily Ford is an inspiration to all of us planning a backpack trip. When we feel the itch to try something new, she seems to tell us that we should follow through.  Mentioned in this episode: Emily Ford in Backpacker Radio episode #101 Emily Ford Hiked 1,200 Miles in the Dead of Winter by Outside Magazine Emily’s Instagram Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow Walking Distance on Facebook and Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

29mins

8 Jun 2021

Rank #4

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#07 | Dan Durston

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Dan Durston, a biologist, Canadian gear designer, and owner of Durston Gear. Durston hiked the Great Divide Trail in the Canadian Rockies as well as the Pacific Crest Trail, and also holds some Fastest Known Times – of the Stein Traverse in British Columbia and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Dan uses his backpacking expertise to design simple and light outdoor equipment.  Blissful Hiker covers Dan’s evolution from gear reviews to gear designs, the inevitable compromises made when designing and selecting gear, and how gear can unite the hiking community. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com Interview with Dan Durston 1:30 - Dan Durston is a self described nerd, someone who likes analytical problem solving. While hiking the Great Divide Trail, he used the time to think about how to optimize his gear, and eventually founded Durston Gear. 2:48 - After discovering the ultralight community, Dan was determined to adopt the style. 3:48 - You compare setting up gear in your backyard and setting up in a rainstorm, which are very different. You think about if gear will really work under difficult circumstances. 5:22 - You said a single pole pyramid is what you aspire to, can you talk about that? 6:22 - So on the PCT, you were using other peoples’ gear, and thinking about how to make them better? 7:26 - You said something about how gear companies use the phrase “no compromises,” and how that isn’t true. What are the inevitable compromises? 8:12 - Can you briefly describe how your tent works? 10:13 - How did you get started? At first you just wanted to modify your gear, which required a sewing machine. What was that experience? 12:05 - Dan taught himself the basics of sewing via Youtube. He’s also been active for years on gear sites, which served as his introduction to the industry. 13:40 - Your gear modification seems like it was serving your own hiking. Why did you decide to start a company? 15:58 - One of the things I noticed on your website is that you use polyester, and not Dyneema. Why not? 17:27 - Earlier you mentioned loving what you’re doing because of the community, and we learn things from each other. You're on your own doing this company, but there’s community feedback.  19:25 - One idea I got after reading about your backpack is the issue of not being able to find what I need when I’m thru hiking. You seem to have thought about that a lot when designing your pack. 21:05 - I wanted to ask you about you continuing your hiking. How do you find the time? 22:00 - What about seeing other hikers’ experiences, and how have you seen hiking change since you’ve been in the community? 24:32 - Dan also holds some Fastest Known Times – of the Stein Traverse in British Columbia and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana.   Mentioned in this episode: Durston Gear The Volumetric Efficiency of Trekking Pole Shelters by Dan Durston Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, Walking the Worldshe shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow The Trek, and  Trail Correspondents on Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

26mins

25 May 2021

Rank #5

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#06 | Giving Back with Andrew Downs & Gina Knox

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Andrew Downs, the Senior Regional Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) - South, and Gina Knox, a 2021 Granite Gear Groundskeeper. Downs thru hiked the AT in 2002, and has a volunteer-first approach to protecting and maintaining the Appalachian Trail. Gina Knox has postponed her AT thru-hike for 2021, and is instead dedicated to cleaning up 300 miles of public lands. Blissful Hiker covers how hikers can become trail volunteers, how COVID has impacted the cleanliness of outdoor spaces, and the logistics of packing out pounds of trash from the trail. Listen  Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com Interview with Andrew Downs 1:00 - The AT has many trail maintainers, which some hikers might find to be surprising. 2:00 - Hikers can sometimes take the trail for granted, as something that has always been there. 2:55 - The trail itself is almost 100% permanently protected, but the areas around the trail are not.  3:40 - Volunteers built the trail before the ATC and Parks Service was involved in the maintenance of the trail. 4:55 - Some hikers have a disconnect with trail crews and an understanding of how trails have to be maintained. How do you invite hikers in to participate? 8:27 - COVID has brought many people outside, and many are acting irresponsibly. How do you educate people and change attitudes to have reverence for this land?  12:11 - A lot of what we’ve been talking about during COVID is being grateful for what we have and can do even in a rough patch of our lives. What are you grateful for? 13:50 - Downs gives hikers a “wander based experience” by managing an army of volunteers. 14:30 - There are many ways to get involved in the AT if you live close by. If you live farther away, there are still options to travel and volunteer. The ATC also sponsors a diversity program to help bring underserved communities to the trail. Interview with Gina Knox 15:39 - Gina’s picking up trash on the trail as a Granite Gear groundskeeper, and getting appreciation from other hikers. 16:55 - Gina’s introduction to hiking was on the Ice Age trail in Wisconsin, when her earth science teacher took the class to experience the power of glaciers. 17:15 - Gina’s photographs of the outdoors are stunning; her philosophy is to use her camera as a tool to show where she is, rather than going on hikes specifically for photo-worthy subjects. But some of the things she saw made her dismayed. 19:14 - You’re a 2021 Granite Gear groundskeeper, which means you’re committed to packing out trash for 300 miles of public land. How do you manage your own hike and the logistics of packing trash out? 21:18 - As you keep track of your garbage, do you also keep track of your distance? 22:06 - You brought up COVID, which has changed our habits in a lot of ways. One part of that is way more trash outside. What do you think the best approach is to changing peoples’ mindset about keeping the outdoors beautiful? 24:00 - Have you had any reactions to hikers or people in your neighborhood who see what you’re doing? 26:01 - I’d imagine some of the garbage is gross - how do you manage that? 26:51 - You’re giving back with your time and energy - it’s been a hard year for many of us. Would you describe yourself as giving gratitude to the trail with what you’re doing? 28:19 - The loss from COVID has affected many of us, including Gina, who has had to postpone her AT thru-hike, which makes her commitment and positive attitude even more remarkable. Mentioned in this episode: About Andrew Downs Volunteer with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy   ATC Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Granite Gear groundskeepers Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast The Pee Rag she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow The Trek, and  Trail Correspondents on Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

30mins

4 May 2021

Rank #6

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#05 | Backcountry Food ft. Aaron Owens Mayhew

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Aaron Owens Mayhew, a registered dietician and thru hiker. In 2017, Mayhew left her career to thru hike the PCT, and has since section hiked some of the AT and the Oregon Coast Trail. She’s also the founder of Backcountry Foodie, a site that she runs with her husband, Chris, to provide meal plans and shopping lists, community forums, masterclasses and other resources surrounding hiking food. Blissful Hiker covers why the two lb/day backpacking food principle may be a myth, how to pack more calories into less space in your pack, and how to stay high energy on the trail with carbs, proteins, and fats. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com Interview with Aaron Owens Mayhew 1:00 - How did your hiking food evolve over time? 2:10 - One of the most vexing problems backpackers have is deciding what to eat. How do we carry all the food we want and need? 2:50 - Background on Backcountry Foodie 3:40 - How did you get into your business? 4:20 - You touched on the 2 pound principle for backpacking food. Why is that a myth? 5:15 - Is your main angle to allow yourself to focus on nutrition and calories first, and weight of the food second? 6:10 - Do you have general staples that people should be thinking of? 7:15 - In bear country, you have to pack your food into a bear canister, which some hikers find difficult. What’s your method? 8:15 - You mentioned dehydrated quinoa, and I want to ask for any listeners who might be thinking, isn’t quinoa already dry? What’s the dehydrating step? 9:20 - Another concern is the amount of time hikers spend at home preparing their food, if they choose. 10:35 - You mentioned quinoa and pasta as dry food bases. Would you put anything else on that list? 11:25 - You mentioned oils, and I never feel that I can take it with me, because I’m such a messy backpacker. How do you carry oil without making a mess, and the importance of it? 13:20 - It’s important to stay ahead of possible health problems or deficiencies by packing the right foods, and eating at the right times too. 15:15 - Backpacking and diets just don’t mix. Why do we crave salt and sugar so much on the trail? 16:40 - Your meal plans are cross referenced with a typical pantry. Can you talk about that? 17:25 - Do you have any recommendations about eating 3 meals a day, or snacking, or is it individual?  17:57 - I mentioned getting into Backcountry Foodie was a real game changer for me, and one of the big changes was starting to cold soak. Do you cold soak, or do you recommend it? 19:40 - You have a recipe for us today, which was one of my go-tos. What is it? 20:45 - You mentioned hiker hunger, and I’m thinking of bonking, running out of energy. Do you know what the signs are and how to avoid it? 21:50 - You’ve created 3 sample meal plans for listeners, which we’re attaching in our show notes. There’s gourmet, cold soaking, and grocery store quick meals. Is there anything else you want to say about your eating philosophy while on trail? 23:30 - Backcountry Foodie is a hiker’s friend when it comes to staying fed and not bonking on trail. Related: The Best Backpacking Meals Mentioned in this episode: Backcountry Foodie Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake recipe Backcountry Foodie - Ultralight Recipes for Outdoor Explorers cookbook by Aaron Owens Mayhew Aaron Owen Mayhew’s posts on The Trek Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast The Pee Rag she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow The Trek, and  Trail Correspondents on Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

25mins

17 Apr 2021

Rank #7

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#04 | Backcountry Safety ft. Dr. Elizabeth Andre & Molly Herber

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Dr. Elizabeth Andre, an associate professor of nature and culture at Northland College, and Molly Herber, a project manager for NOLS. Dr. Elizabeth Andre has instructed white water canoeing, mountaineering, and dog sledding at Outward Bound, joined a National Geographic dog sled expedition across the Canadian Arctic in 2007, and teaches a course on outdoor safety. Molly Herber is the Creative Project Manager at NOLS in Wyoming. Blissful Hiker covers the basics of human psychology geared towards safety, the theories of risk homeostasis and heuristics, and how to practice “negative thinking” to be more safe on the trail. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Andre 3:00 - Introduction to outdoor safety in psychological theory 3:47 - How does our limbic system inform our decisions? 6:20 - What does risk homeostasis mean? 7:34 - It’s important to take courses on wilderness first aid and anything that will help you be safe. But you have to balance that with the right attitude towards safety on the trail as well. 8:36 - Alison recalls her scariest outdoor scenario. How much of feeling in control or having control is just an illusion? 10:02 - Recognizing that we have a natural propensity for optimism that might help us in the frontcountry, but hurt us in the backcountry, is important. 10:45 - Can you explain heuristics?  12:40 - This past winter, two teams of Nepali climbers submitted K2, and it was an incredible feat. But they were incredibly prepared, having many plans. Do you have a list of simple things that we can do that are simple back up plans? 14:24 - What’s a way we can reshape our thinking to be a bit more negative, or realistic? 15:48 - There’s one phrase I repeat for how to be successful in the backcountry, which is “be deliberate.” Do you have a phrase? Interview with Molly Herber 20:30 - Where do you start with basic safety concerning animals on trail? 22:06 - What about inclement weather, especially concerning thru-hikers who might not be able to check the weather forecast while on trail? 24:00 - What other kinds of weather should hikers be aware of as a possibility? 25:30 - Every NOLS instructor must be certified as a wilderness first responder. What guidance did that course give you? 26:20 - Can you speak about having a level head and how to make safety decisions on trail? Mentioned in this episode: About Dr. Elizabeth Andre Dr. Elizabeth Andre’s Outdoor Safety course Molly Herber’s blogs for NOLS NOLS wilderness first responder course Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes. About Alison Young Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast The Pee Rag she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Follow The Trek, and  Trail Correspondents on Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

29mins

13 Apr 2021

Rank #8

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#03 | Nicholas Kristof

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Nicholas Kristof, an award winning columnist at the New York Times and dedicated section hiker. Nicholas has won two Pulitzer prizes for his coverage of China and the genocide in Darfur, and section hiked the PCT with his daughter Caroline over a few summers. Now, he’s working on section hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail, hiking with his wife, their daughter, and her boyfriend.  Blissful Hiker covers the benefits and drawbacks of section hiking versus thru-hiking, how to plan hikes and stay in shape while working a job, and hiking with others. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code "walkingdistance" to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com Interview with Nicholas Kristof 4:02 - When and how did you get involved in backpacking? 4:52 - What’s your relationship like with Caroline, your daughter? You section hiked the PCT together over several summers when she was a teenager. 6:33- Did you give yourself trail names, or were they given? 7:03 - You section hiked the PCT, and I wanted to talk about the difference between thru-hiking and section hiking. What are the advantages and disadvantages? 9:10 - I found it interesting that you pushed yourself so hard while on the trail, even though it was your vacation time. 10:54 - I’m curious about ultralight, have you always been ultralight? 12:01 - How do you plan your trips, itinerary and resupply, and stay in hiking shape while you’re in your “normal life” working? 14:17 - Background of ultralight origins before the mainstream movement 17:00 - You’ve been to many countries in precarious situations while working at the New York Times, so I assume you feel no fear on the trail. 17:48 - Would you describe your backpacking experiences as diversions, vacation, or even therapy? 19:16 - The pandemic has changed our relationship with the outdoors, with more use of our trails. Do you think it’s a good thing? 20:45 - You mention your “summer place” as a spot on Mount Hood. 21:15 - If you could share one thing with someone considering giving backpacking a try, what would you say? MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Nicholas Kristof - NYT columns Nicholas Kristof - Backpacker Magazine Nicholas Kristof on Facebook Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of Agriculture Follow The Trek on Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

26mins

26 Mar 2021

Rank #9

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#02 | "What's in your Pack?" ft. Alan Dixon & Kelly Floro

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Alan Dixon, an outdoor guide and competitive athlete, and Kelly Floro, lead writer and content editor for The Trek. An elite kayaker and triathlon competitor, Alan grew up in California hiking Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas. Alan has been backpacking since he was 5 years old, and helped found the ultralight backpacking movement in the early 2000’s. Kelly Floro’s first thru-hike, and basically first backpacking trip ever, was her 2016 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Since then, she’s become an accomplished adventurer and the lead writer for The Trek. Blissful Hiker covers how to straddle the line between ultralight and luxurious hiking, how to feel you have “permission” to take whatever you need, and gives the 411 about testing gear before going on a long hike with it. Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code "walkingdistance" to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com [divider] Interview with Alan Dixon 3:15 - How did you get your start? 4:05 - How did you get into ultralight? 6:05 - Can you share what’s in your backpack that’s what you call “practical ultralight”? 6:48 - Why do you always bring a two-person tent? 7:55 - What about your pack? Do you use a frame or frameless? 9:00 - I find it interesting that it’s possible to make all these decisions to change your food, or pack in order to make your goal pack weight. 9:30 - For your sleep system, you recommended using a woman’s style sleep pad. Why? 10:10 - I’ve heard of ultralight backpackers even using bubble wrap as a sleeping pad - your set up seems like luxury. 11:30 - I hear you talking a lot about speed and hiking people into the dust. Do you really think you need to go fast? 12:58 - Alan is not a “gram weenie”; but lets a few sneak back in to make sure he’ll rest better. Ensure you have what you need to recover faster, and then hike faster. 14:10 - There’s a way to balance luxury and realistic packing. A post on Alan’s website even advertises a backcountry cup of coffee.  Interview with Kelly Floro 16:55 - How did you succeed on the AT while being a beginner backpacker, and entering ultralight? 18:10 - Let’s go through the big three gear items, backpack, shelter and sleep items. What’s your backpack? 19:05 - What about your sleeping bag? 20:05 - What about for shelter? 21:00 - There is a benefit to hiking with someone because you can share things, such as cookware. Do you cook or do you cold soak? 22:07 - Tell us more about your food, you heat your water during winter? 23:15 - Is there anything else you think is a staple that people might not consider? 24:20 - You said you had been researching ultralight before your AT hike. What gear do you have that you would say is for sure ultralight? 26:20 - Is there anything you carry that an ultralight guru would think is a luxury? 26:58 - Did you figure this all out as you were hiking the AT? 29:02 - Alan and Kelly both gave us permission to take what we really need. But what you should also consider is extensively testing your gear before you set out on an expedition.  Interview with Alan Dixon 29:15 - You should always go on a shakeout hike with new gear to see how it performs. When the weather predicted a 6 degree night, I sought out the extreme weather just to see how his gear would perform. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Kelly Floro’s writing for The Trek Adventure Alan, blog by Alan Dixon Alan’s gear lists Kelly’s gear list Suggested Appalachian Trail thru-hiker gear list Suggested Pacific Crest Trail Trail thru-hiker gear list Lightweight Backpacking and Camping by Ryan Jordan and Alan Dixon Follow The Trek on Instagram. Follow The Trek on YouTube.

31mins

26 Mar 2021

Rank #10