Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cranberry Wilderness Hike Overview - Type Two Fun!

You may remember a few months back when I mentioned Andrew Skurka's concept of "type one" fun while hiking, as opposed to "type two" fun.  As a reminder, type one fun is fun at the time, and fun to talk about later.  Type two fun is not fun at the time, but fun to talk about later.  Well, my much anticipated four day trip to the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia (approximate location marked below) was definitely type two fun.  No doubt about that.
What went wrong?  Here is a major clue - when you lose five times as much body weight on a trip as the amount of weight your food bag loses, something very wrong is happening.  I took lots of food and ate hardly any, and came back 80 hours after leaving home about 4.5 pounds lighter.

Just getting to the trailhead was an adventure!  I went with my friend Carl and his engaging daughter Libby.  They picked me up Thursday morning at my home, and we were on the road to adventure!  Neither Carl nor I had a West Virginia highway map (mistake number one) but he had a GPS and I had specific instructions from this Backpacker Magazine on-line article: "drive 22 miles west from Millwood, WV."  The article should have said east, not west.  We drove right past the road to the trail, drove 22 miles to Millwood, and went 22 miles west to end up in - a city.  I found a map there and realized that we had gone right past the point, now nearly 50 miles behind us.  It was a very frustrating realization.  So we hit the trail very late Thursday, about 4:30, and only hiked 3 miles to a decent camping site.

Our route is shown below, each of the four days in a different color (day one - red; two - grey; three - magenta; four - yellow).  Our original plans were for a 23 mile loop, following the northerly part of the trip on this map, then swinging north, not south, to pick up the Middle Fork Trail.  Instead, we did a 15 mile route - out on the North Fork Trail, returning on the Forks of the Cranberry Trail.  We gained about 2,900 feet on the hike, and descended about 3,600 feet.  Because we ended up more than three miles south of the car, Carl provided limo service by running to the car, and driving down to pick us up.
Here is the very start of the trip Thursday, when the promise of a new hiking trip looked so bright.  I had been thinking about this trip for months - to hike in the biggest wilderness area in the east, to hike in a new state for the first time.  Why, for a couple of months, my work password was "cranberry!" (Don't bother trying to hack in, I've changed it to something entirely different now).
So what went wrong?  Well, in a word, a tiny, invisible spec of RNA we call a virus.  When we started hiking at 4:30 Thursday, I felt fine.  When we made camp, I felt pretty good but not hungry, so I made a command decision to not eat the freeze dried vegan curry I had planned for my meal - a very wise choice, as it turned out.  By 8:30, I wasn't feeling right at all, and went to bed.  By 9:00, I had intense heartburn, despite having eaten not a thing since a Subway sandwich at lunch.  By 10:00, I would be out of my tent, violently vomiting over and over, and that continued all night until just before dawn.  And it picked up again Friday afternoon for a while.  It was a thoroughly miserable and exhausting night and day.  The first solid food that I was able to keep down in 48 hours was a bagel Saturday morning.  Other than that bagel, my total food consumption for the trip was part of a Honey Stinger bar, about two tablespoons of GORP, three packets of hot chocolate, two pieces of cheese, two packets of instant breakfast, some honey in tea, and maybe 10 dried apricots and plums.  That's it!  Try hiking any distance on that, and you will lose weight, trust me.  And you will have a hard time staying warm because you are not consuming any calories to burn.  I was exhausted most of the time, and the smallest chore - like putting a sleeping bag in a stuff sack or striking the tent - was so tiring.  I tried hiking Friday on a rainy day, and after only about 1.2 miles or so, I just stopped and doubled over.  Carl said "We are camping here tonight!"  Wise choice, because I could not have continued.

Saturday, well enough to eat that bagel, we talked and decided that instead of doubling back to the car, about four miles away, we would continue and do the loop indicated on the map above.  We guessed it would be about 7 miles (it was actually about 11) and that we could be out late Saturday and end the trip a day early.  As it turned out, I could not do it all in a day, even with some help from Carl, so we made a late camp Saturday night in a spruce forest on top of a mountain, and completed the trip Sunday.  I cannot remember the last time I felt so ill and wiped out - maybe not since doing chemotherapy.

Well, more to come later.  The trip did produce some good moments.  Libby had a great time with her dad, and was totally great to get along with.  She is quite the little hiker - I was pretty impressed.
And we saw some pretty scenery - lovely forests and streams - heard birds, explored a little, saw wildflowers, saw signs of wildlife.  So was it fun?  Yes, but type two fun.  That is definite.  Being so sick out in the wilderness is nothing like being sick in the comfort of your own home, trust me.

Here I am at the start of the trip.  It was the last time I felt good until - well, I can't tell you, because I still don't feel good two full days after getting home!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Heading to the Cranberry Wilderness!

When this posts, I will be on the last day of a four day hike in the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia, the trip that I left my clues about.  I am up early Thursday to write this, but woke up early anyway, because I am excited about the trip.

Unlike my most recent backpacking trip to the Laurel Forks, where I went alone, I will be with a friend for this trip - but with a twist: he is bringing his seven year old daughter along.  I am a little concerned because it is such a wild and rugged area, but his daughter loves this type of thing and he knows her best.  It is good to get little kids out into nature, both boys and girls.  So we just have to adjust the trip to her needs.  For example, crossing an ice-cold stream that would be thigh-deep for us could come dangerously high on her.  So while we have a general idea of where we want to hike, it is open to alterations.  We may come to a stream that is cannot be safely crossed.  The trails are unmarked there, so we have to be alert.

My friend said that we should go 6-10 miles a day.  10 seems high, so I think we will have breaks during the days at interesting places, and maybe make camp early.  Even though my pack is too heavy - over 40 pounds with food and water - I am throwing in my binoculars because I think we will have some extra time to explore.  I am debating adding a field guide - one more pound!  I am saving a couple of pounds by taking my lighter weight sleeping bag.  It might hit the mid-30's on Sunday at dawn there but with my liner, I should be just warm enough.

Well, I am packing up and heading out in a couple of hours, so will post this for Sunday and get moving!  Right now, the weather looks pretty nice - highs in the 60's and lows around 40 with a significant chance of rain only on Friday - 50% chance of thunderstorms.  We will be especially alert that day and make sure we can camp near cover.

Expect to read more about the Cranberry Wilderness later in the week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My New Osprey Aether Pack

My original backpack, a Kelty, disappeared years ago when I loaned it to someone.  It was an external frame, and I had owned it for over 20 years, but the guy I loaned it to was not responsible.  After that, I've had my Millet "60+10" backpack for about seven years now.  I bought it in a rush when I was suddenly about to go backpacking again for the first time in years, up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  It has been a pretty good pack with a lot of good and useful features, but it never was totally comfortable on me.  I always felt as if it was leaning back too far, and the sleeping bag compartment was too small - although I was not compressing my sleeping bag properly, too.  So I decided that it was time for a new pack, and after a lot of reading, I settled on an Osprey Aether 85.  My buddy Hawkeye has one and swears by it, and when I tried his on before a trip a couple of years ago - fitted to his body and loaded with gear - it felt more comfortable than mine did.

I got a great deal at REI a few weeks ago.  I had a 20% discount on any one item, a $48 merchandise rebate from my purchases last year - membership has its privileges - and a $50 Christmas REI gift card.  So the pack only cost me about half price.
I took the pack on my Laurel Forks trip a couple of weeks ago for its maiden voyage, and really liked it!  For one thing, I could get my sleeping bag in the separate sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the pack.
The body of the pack has lots of room.  My Millet has 70 liters of total space, and this one has 85 liters.  Will I need all of that space for a typical trip?  Well, given the starting weight of my pack and its basic gear, I sure hope not!  But it is there if I need it for a longer trip or for bulky cold weather clothing, and if I don't need it, I can cinch the pack down with compression strips.  The thing that looks a bit like a diaper is the removable panel that separates off the sleeping bag compartment.
At the top of the pack is a separate compartment that goes over the main pack.  It is quite large.  My Millet has this feature, too, and I found it quite useful.  You put stuff in there that you may need to get to in a hurry - first aid kit, toilet kit, trail mix, water filter, and such.  As a bonus, the top compartment can detach and become a small fanny pack for a day hike from a base camp.
The back of the pack has a "J zipper" that allows easy access to the middle of the pack to reach something buried down into it without taking everything else out.
Here's another great feature - the space for the hydration bladder is on the outside of the pack!  Say you want to refill your Camelbak at a stream - you just remove it, add filtered water, and slip it back in.  With most packs, you have to mostly unpack it to get the Camelbak out and back in.
On each side of the pack, near the hip belt, is a stretchy open pocket, perfect for a one liter bottle, or whatever else will fit - a shirt balled up, for example.
And on the back of the pack is a large stretchy pocket.  What could go in here?  Well, a rain jacket or fleece for when you stop for a break.  Water shoes.  A topo map.  Whatever will fit, assuming you want quick access to it - no need to rummage through your pack.
Finally, here is a great feature - a small zipper pocket on each side of the hip belt.  There are perfect for small items that you need easy access to.  Some things that I can think of are: extra batteries.  A knife or multi-tool.  Insect repellent.  Lip gloss. Sun screen.  A snack bar.
This pack has so many great features!  You can tell that a lot of really smart people designed it.  I cannot wait for my next trip with it, and hopefully for many more.  Based on my one trip so far with the Aether, only one night long, it is going to be pretty comfortable - if carrying 40+ pounds on one's back can be considered comfortable!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Weight Problem

I've know for a while that I have a big weight problem, but not until yesterday, when I quantified everything did I realize just how big.  My body mass index turns out to be over 30, or borderline obese!

How is that possible, you ask?  How can a man who ran a half marathon just months ago, and who hikes a lot, be obese?  Well, I do have an explanation - just me, standing naked on a scale, am not obese or close to it.  But once I hoist my pack on my back, loaded for even the most basic one night trip, I go from a decent BMI to an obese one.  And once I start slogging up a steep trail, as far as my knees, ankles, and back are concerned, I am grossly overweight.

I've known for each backpacking trip that I have taken that I am carrying too much weight, so I decided that I needed to analyze exactly how that happens.  Thus, I have weighed each thing that goes into my pack, every item no matter how small - even down to my one and 1/8 ounce bandanna - and put it all in a spreadsheet.  What I could not weigh on a kitchen scale, I weighed on a normal bathroom scale and then subtracted my base weight, or I got the specifications from the manufacturer.  And my base pack weight ends up being 25.1 pounds - without any clothing except a rain jacket and pants, hat, lightweight gloves, and puffy jacket, and without any food or water!  And that is with my lighter weight sleeping bag, not the heavy one that I took unnecessarily to my hike to Laurel Forks last weekend.

Everything comes down to weight vs. comfort and safety.  I could save a lot of weight by just taking a tarp and a blanket instead of a tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag, right?  But if you have ever slept in the woods without a tent - I have - you know it is not a lot of fun. Every flying, biting thing and creepy-crawly comes looking for you.  No thank you!

So here are some specifics: my pack, air mattress, sleeping bag liner, my lighter sleeping bag, and tent alone weigh 12.25 pounds.  My kitchen gear and my hydration system (water filter, empty one liter bottle, and empty three liter Camelbak weigh 3.6 pounds.  Electronics - InReach, GPS, camera, and spare batteries - weigh nearly 2 pounds.  I could eliminate them and not take any photos.  And wouldn't I feel foolish if I broke an ankle and could not send a message for help, all to save a pound of weight?  My first aid kit and basic emergency and survival gear weighs about 3.5 pounds.  My essential clothing mentioned previously weighs 2.5 pounds.  My basic overnight hygiene kit weighs 1.3 pounds, if I include a small towel - nice on any trip longer than one overnight but not essential.

Not in the equation is a field guide or binoculars, extra socks or underwear, a spare shirt, any water - at 2.2 pounds per kilogram - or food.  For example, on my mystery trip later this spring, I am likely to take my Teva's (lots of streams to wade across and no bridges), two pairs of extra socks, long bottom underwear to sleep in, at least two pairs of underwear (who wants to wear the same underwear for four days?), and one extra shirt.  That would make my total clothing packed to be 5.6 pounds vs. the 2.5 mentioned above.  If I bring an extra pair of trousers in addition to the pair that I will wear, then I will be carrying 6.4 pounds of clothing.  That brings my pack weight, to a whopping 29.0 pounds!  And that does not include any clothing worn, or again, water or food.  Where we will be hiking has lots of water, so I likely won't need to carry more than a liter or so, but 3.5 days of food will probably weigh about 6-7 pounds.  So that makes my total pack weight for that three night hike in the 38 pound range.

Yeah, I have a big weight problem, and just like in real life when we have an extra piece of pie (or 20) too many, it is not so easy shaving those pounds off.  I have some time to think about and decide what I can do to lighten the load a bit, and what would be acceptable for comfort and safety.  In any event, although it sounds anal perhaps, it has been a good exercise to understand all the components that make my pack so heavy.  I guess I better bring out some of my Backpacker Magazine issues and read up on ultra-light hiking, eh?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Clues to my Next Adventure

I'm planning my next adventure, pouring over maps and trail information.  I'll be going later this spring.  Can you guess where?  Here are some clues...
1. The state I will be hiking in was, until 1863, part of one of the original 13 states.
2. This state is known for its mountains, coal, moonshine, and a very famous and deadly feud.  It is "wild and wonderful."
3. John Denver thought this place was "almost heaven."
4. The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was founded where two rivers meet to form the Ohio River.  I will be hiking in a national forest that has the name of one of those two rivers.
5. Within that national forest is a wilderness area.  At nearly 48,000 acres (19,400 hectares) , it is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River.
6. As a wilderness area, the 70 miles (112 km) of hiking trail contained within are not blazed.  You have to find your own way, and cross the numerous streams without any foot bridges.
7. This area has a unique botanical area on its southern border known as the "something" Glades.  It has plants that would normally be found more in Canada.
8. The "something" Glades and the name of the wilderness itself are the name of a fruit.
9. Which fruit?  Well, it is small, red, and kind of tart, and grows in boggy and acidic areas.  Think Thanksgiving!
10. The wilderness area has a large black bear population, as well as stands of red spruce at its higher elevations, which reach 4,600 feet (1,400 meters).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Aerial View From My Laurel Forks Hike

In my post last weekend about backpacking in the Laurel Forks area of Virginia's George Washington National Forest, my last two photos were of a coniferous forest and of a "beaver bog" - a wetland created when beavers abandoned their pond and dam to Nature's force.  While standing in the forest, I sent an InReach message out, and when I looked at it back home, I thought that it was a pretty cool image.

So I am sharing it here, and you can compare it with the two photos in the post referenced above.  The red arrow in the lower right is where I was standing when I sent the message, and corresponds to the forest in the next to last photo.  The boggy area extending to the left (west) of that point is the "beaver bog" depicted in the last photo of the Laurel Forks blog post.

I again say - this looks far more like the northern wilds of Maine or Minnesota that it does of Virginia!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Laurel Forks Over-Nighter

For months, I have been kind of intrigued with an overnight hike into the Laurel Forks area.  This is a very rugged mountainous area in the George Washington National Forest on the West Virginia - Virginia border.  My guidebook showed a great 14 mile loop that could be a long day hike or a perfect over-nighter.  So after some planning, and cancelling those plans once for wintry weather, I went there this past Friday and Saturday (yesterday).

Just reaching this area from my house is an adventure.  It is almost a 4 hour drive, and you actually approach it from the West Virginia side.  One must drive, via switchbacks, over three mountain ranges after crossing the Blue Ridge.  The red circle on the map below gives the location.
This hike was my first time solo backpacking in, well, decades.  I had asked a friend but he could not go.  I know that some would consider going on a trip like this dangerous, but it is not like I was being air-lifted into the Gates of the Arctic.  You just need to be careful and self-reliant, and err on the side of caution, which I did twice on this hike.

Ah, the best laid plans!  I had planned on the 14 mile figure of eight route that my guidebook had described.  But my first adjustment came about an hour into the hike when I could not find the correct trail.  On my route map below (I started and ended at the top left, and Friday's trek is shown in the red route, Saturday's in the blue), you will see a route that headed west for a while, marked by an upwards facing purple arrow.  This is where I spent nearly an hour going back and forth trying to find a marked trail before I gave up and continued across the trail that I was on.  The guidebook said the junction was at 1.5 miles and exactly at that point, the GPS showed a trail coming in on the right.  As it turned out, the junction was about another 0.3 miles, but by that time, I had wasted so much time that I decided to just keep going.

Now, look at the lower right and you will see another track, indicated by the leftwards pointing purple arrow, where I turned around.  Here is the story on that:  It was about 3:30, and it was clear that a storm was coming in.  I had passed a really nice camp site about 1.5 miles back.  If I continued along the route that I planned, I would do a loop and reach essentially the same spot about four miles later.  The thought of hiking in the rain only to have to set everything up in the rain was not that appealing.  So I turned around and went back, and got everything set up just before the rain started at around 5PM.
Here is the elevation profile for the first day.  I hiked just 6.8 miles instead of the 10.4 planned, and it was mostly downhill.
And here are two elevation profiles for the second day.  Why two?  Well, my GPS battery was dying and so I saved the track to date and started another one.  It was mostly uphill as you can see, and the total was 3.6 miles.  So my total hike, including diversions, was 10.4 miles.  Total elevation gain and loss was about 2,600 feet.

This was a really nice hike. It started out at about 3,700 feet in elevation, and coniferous forests were the rule.  It was so pleasant hiking along here, like being transplanted to the "north woods."
Do you see a trail here?  Neither did I!  This was the point where I gave up the idea of hiking the "outer loop," and just continued straight across.  I did find the trail later, but had already spent so much time that the more direct route seemed like a better idea.  If I could do it over again, I would have taken the "outer loop" trail, since I ended up not hiking most of the "figure of eight" part anyway.

You can see that spring has not yet really come to Highland County, Virginia, although they are no doubt collecting sap from maple trees in parts of the county.
This part of the George Washington National Forest is very rugged, a land of streams, ridges, and valleys.  There is very little level land anywhere.  At one point the area was so heavily logged that railroad tracks were built.  Many of the trails follow the old railway beds, and you can find leftover pieces of industrial equipment scattered about.
This is Laurel Fork, a major stream.  On my hike, I did at least 12-15 stream crossings, and never got my feet - except here.  There is no way to cross without fording it, it is simply too wide and too deep.  I swapped my hiking boots for my Tevas.
Heck yeah, it was cold!  I got to cross it again a while later when I gave up on the second loop and came back this way to camp.
I spied this cave high up a steep ridge, and felt compelled to check it out.  Maybe I could find a rattlesnake there.  So I clambered up the very steep slope, camera at the ready, and what did I find inside? ...
Just the skull of this unfortunate beaver!  This area used to have lots of beavers, and when things go well, life is good.  But eventually, they cut down trees faster than they can possibly grow, and they have no choice but to leave or starve.  Also, at some point, the juveniles are forced to leave home to find their own territory.  In either event, it is a very dangerous time for them as they wander through forests without the protection of their pond.  I wonder what this unlucky fellow's tale was?
Once I retraced my steps and crossed back over Laurel Fork, I set up camp under the rhododendrons by Laurel Fork.  It was a gorgeous site to camp.  Because I don't do anything harmful to the stream, like wash dishes in it or bathe, I don't mind camping by a stream.  And this one was well used - there were at least three fire pits, including a huge and elaborate one near my tent.  I would have loved to have had a fire, but the rain started just after five, and continued for hours.  I ate my meal cooked in a bag standing under the rhododendrons, and crawled into my tent by 6PM!  I came out twice when the rain stopped, but it would almost immediately start raining again.  I finally took a walk at dusk in the rain, and then went to bed for good.  At about 10:30 I awoke to answer Nature's call, and it was clear and cold, with a beautiful moon.
My hike out Saturday was mostly uphill, and lovely Buck Run was my companion for much of it.  I encountered the only other people I saw during my trip, a father and his daughter camping along Buck Run in a tiny level area.  They had hiked down in the dark and rain Friday night.  No thank you!
I think that this is wood sorrel.  It reminded me of shamrocks.
This is typical of the deciduous forest in early spring in the mountains.  I heard very few birds.  As far as wildlife, I saw four ruffed grouse (and heard one drumming), three mergansers, a kingfisher, a couple of small birds, including a small woodpecker, and a red-backed salamander.  Walking along this section of the trail, I continually heard male woodpeckers drumming on trees.  I am not sure which species, though, but they were not pileated woodpeckers - something smaller.
As I regained all of the elevation lost the day before, the conifers returned.
This used to a beaver pond many years ago.  Doesn't it look like something out of Maine or Minnesota, not Virginia?  I didn't see any type of tree that a beaver would eat, and the stumps of trees that they had cut down were so old that they were covered in lichens.  Now this area is a bog, but probably still has some wildlife value due to making the area more diverse.
My trek to Laurel Forks ended just after this point.  Even though it didn't go quite as planned, I enjoyed seeing a brand new area and camping out along the way.  It would have been perhaps a bit more fun to have another person along, but there is also something to be said for being the only human being in a particular spot among the 7 billion or so of us in the world.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Springtime at Maymont

If you live in the Richmond area, it is a gorgeous spring day, and you want to take a nice walk - but you don't have time to make it to the mountains - then Maymont is the answer!  And that is where I spent part of my afternoon, enjoying every moment of it.

Maymont is a combination park, historical site, botanical garden, nature center, and zoo, all within city limits along the James River.  It was the property of the Dooley's many years ago, and upon their deaths, they bequeathed it to the city for use as a public space.  I don't know how large it is, but I easily got in about four miles of walking today while I was there.

My walk started and ended here, with a vista of part of Maymont.  It is free to the public, but they suggest a donation of five dollars, which seemed like a bargain.
Oh, give me a home, where the large bison roam....
God always decorates using the purple and green of Team in Training in the spring.
During my hike a week ago at Caledon Natural Area, I saw at least five bald eagles, but none as close as this adult.  There is a very nice raptor exhibit here, using birds of prey that were injured and cannot return to the wild.
Tours of the Dooley mansion can be had for a fee.
Three lovely ladies grace the lawn in front of the mansion.
Normally, magnolias would be well past bloom by this time of year here.  Not in 2014!  Everything that should have been blooming in the past five to six weeks is in bloom simultaneously this year.
The Japanese garden is so peaceful and beautiful.
Weeping cherry blossoms by the Japanese garden.
The Japanese garden artfully combines water, plants, and human made objects to gorgeous effect.
From Japan, I arrived in Tuscany a few moments later.  Give me a bottle of red wine, a salad, and a loaf of crusty bread here, and I could have died a happy man!  ;^)
There are two beautiful and large cherries in bloom next to the carriage house.
My afternoon at Maymont was a perfect way to spend an hour or two.  My next hike will likely be grander in scope, but not any more beautiful, I suspect.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Emergency Kit

I've recently upgraded and modified the emergency gear kit I always carry when I hike or backpack.  It may seem like overkill until you turn an ankle on what should have been an easy day hike, the temperature is dropping, and you are facing a night alone in the woods.  My kit weighs several pounds and fits into this small orange bag:
Here is the contents of that little bag:
From the left hand side and more or less going in a clockwise direction, the items in this bag are: three heavy duty trash bags and a one gallon zip-top bag, an orange bandanna, my Leatherman Juice multi-tool, an SOL emergency bivy sack, a fire starter kit (matches, spark tool, and container with cotton pad and Vaseline "sandwiches"), a waterproof headlamp, an emergency space blanket, an emergency poncho, my Columbia River Knife and Tool RSK (Ritter Survival Knife) Mk6, the orange emergency kit bag, 50 feet of parachute cord, a small mirror, two rolls of duct tape, my compass, a whistle, and a small bottle of water purification tablets.  Depending on conditions, I could add or subtract items, such as insect repellent, hand-warmers, and sunscreen.  If I were backpacking, I might eliminate a few items, like the SOL bivy, poncho, and parachute cord on the thinking that I would have a rain jacket, a sleeping bag and tent, and separate parachute cord with my "bear bag."  But I might also carry them because they are so light and could be used to help someone else in an emergency.  Or if my sleeping bag got soaked in a river, I could still use the bivy sack to spend an uncomfortable but survivable night.

Do you think I am missing anything critical?  One thing I should add is a PowerBar as an emergency food source.  We can survive a long time without food, but a little something to eat can calm you down in a stressful and scary situation.

I'll be fine-tuning my kit now and again as I learn more and think about survival situations.  By the way, I always carry a separate first aid kit any time that I hike.