The Liebster Award, it transpires, has been floating around for a few years. It’s a cyber-award handed around by bloggers and once the recipient has answered 11 questions, they pass it on to another 11 bloggers with 11 questions that they have thought up. Mention has to be made of the person that nominated them and these 11 then do the same, and so on. I’m led to believe that each nominee writes a new post on their blog, just as I have done here.
It makes an interesting blog post (I hope) and you get to find out about some other interesting people with great blogs in the process.
So, these are the questions that Chad asked me, and after there is the list of the 11 bloggers I am going to pass the award on to, and their questions as well.
Chad from Sticks Blog
What made you get into backpacking?
My parents instilled a love of the outdoors from an early age. We had a dog so at least once a day I would go for a walk in the local woods and a longer one at the weekends. When I was old enough to stay out by myself, backpacking was a natural progression. I loved being in the countryside but suddenly I realised I could stay there overnight with everything I needed to survive.
The whole idea was a novelty, it excited me, and it still does. I like a quick fix for a few hours but longer trips still inspire me, the novelty of backpacking, carrying all my gear to survive outside is wonderful. It feels the same as when I was 16.
What other outdoor activities do you participate in?
I used to run a lot, and very occasionally I still do but it’s risky for me because of the increased chance of injury. I can’t afford to get injured with big hikes so I stick to walking as my training which doesn’t leave me much time for anything else. I love cycling, both road and mountain bikes and have done since a kid.
I swim when I get the chance.
What is the longest distance you have backpacked?
The longest distance was the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010 at 2,640 miles. I never thought it would have been possible for me to hike that far a few years ago, it’s amazing what the body is capable off and most of the time we don’t realise what we can do. I’m still amazed I managed to do it.
I always think of Henry Ford’s quote –
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t- you’re right.
I would love the break the 3000 mile barrier, 4000 and upwards . . .
Hitting 500 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail
What is the longest amount of time you have spent outdoors?
Again, the Pacific Crest Trail. I started on 25th May 2010 and finished on 17th November, a total of some 208 days. I was a little too relaxed about the hike, spent too long in town on occasion and should have been more focused. I learnt valuable lessons from it though, I wouldn’t be so lapse now. I plan better and keep tabs on my progress.
What is the most interesting backpacking trip you have been on?
I don’t really know if I’d class backpacking as ‘interesting’. I mean I am interested in it but it’s not really the reason I do it. I supposed if I had to choose one it would be EL Camino de Santiago which I walked in 2002, 2013 and I’m doing it again this year to gather info for a new mobile app due out next year through Guthook Hikes.
If nothing else than for it’s history along the route.
El Camino de Santiago – rich in history
Where was your last backpacking trip?
If you ignore one nighters, of which I try and do often, the last trip was the South Downs Way in April this year. The route is the nearest national trail to where I live in West Sussex and it’s my playground, I get up there as often as I can. It’s a 100 mile route and I spent three days and two nights doing it.
If I’m in the UK I have promised myself to walk it every year.
How much was your pack weight on that trip?
I did pretty well! People may be surprised when I say that gear isn’t that much of an interesting subject for me but lowering my pack weight is so I have to know what’s about. Over the last few years it has steadily dropped from about 16 kilos / 35.3 lbs on EL Camino de Santiago in 2002 to 8 kilos / 17.6 lbs on the Appalachian Trail in 2012.
Over the last couple of years I’ve really worked on tweaking it to as low as I can comfortably go and on the South Downs Way I managed to get it 3.8 kg / 8.4 lbs. This is base weight (no food, water or fuel taken into account) and it was summer kit, winter gear would be heavier. Everything was there that I needed to survive; tent, mat, sleeping quilt, cooking equipment and clothing etc.
I’m confident now I can do a full thru-hike with under 5 kilos / 11 lbs.
On The South Downs Way
What is your favorite (alcoholic) beverage on the trail?
I don’t drink that often on trail because it’s too heavy to carry! If I do I would go with a small bottle of Jack Daniels. I don’t know why but JD just lends itself to a drink in the evening round the camp fire.
What is your favorite meal/snack on the trail?
My meals usually consist of Rice Sides, I believe that is what they are called in the States, or the equivalent in the UK. They come in several flavours, I like the Mexican ones with a bit of spice and perhaps some beans thrown in there. This is the basis for evening meals because they are light and inexpensive. I supplement them to change the variety and taste, perhaps adding some olive oil, parmesan, some herbs if I find any or some pieces of salami. Hard cheese and dried / cured meats keep well on trail.
My favourite snack is without doubt chocolate covered almonds. It has to be dark chocolate though, none of the milk chocolate rubbish. I love almonds and they provide good fat, protein, and they are natural. Dark chocolate is a treat and also, actually, good for you as well.
What is one piece of gear that you never leave without?
I’m lucky because I have a few options in the main areas such as tent, backpack, insulation jackets and they all do a job in different circumstances. However, the one piece of kit that has stayed with me since I first got hold of one in 2010 is the Trail Designs Caldera Cone or Sidewinder system.
Simple, nothing to break, nothing to fix, light, efficient, bombproof and compact.
The Trail Designs Caldera Cone
What was the worst piece of gear that you have ever used?
A Sea to Summit titanium spoon. The surface had a slightly rough texture to it which resulted in any food sticking to it like glue. It was a nightmare to clean, I used it once and it’s now lurking somewhere in the ‘never use again’ box. A shame, a lot of their kit is good stuff but once in a while most companies cock up.
So, that’s me done. Here are the people I nominate:
And these are the questions:
1) Is it the freedom, the scenery, the solitude, the inspiration, the adventure? What is it about being in the outdoors that you are passionate about?
2) What part of the world do you live in and where is the local place that you always go back to?
3) Where and what would be your dream hiking trip and why?
4) Assuming you expect good weather on a mid-summer trip, would you prefer boots or trail shoes?
5) Name the one night you camped that sticks out in your mind as being the best.
6) . . . and the worst?
7) This question may seem a little strange but it relates to a blog post I have coming up. Would you be capable of finding your way, without a map, on a circular route around the town where you live? If you live somewhere huge, like London, I’ll let you off this one.
8) What is the best bit of advice you have ever been given in relation to hiking, and who gave it to you?
9) You’re on a remote stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the High Sierra and you get lost. You manage to get reception to make a call to search and rescue but it could be up to 6 days before they find you. What would be your first plan of action?
10) When are you next due to go hiking and where will it be?
11) What would be your perfect evening meal on trail?