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I usually write about trails and parks I’ve visited, but this week, I’m highlighting a few useful things that I learned off the trail. Each of these could probably be a post on their own.
Last week I met the one and only Keith Myrmel, gave a Boy Scout a tampon to stick up his nose, discovered a possible treatment for Hiker’s Rash, hopped in a rushing Wisconsin River 2 days in a row and mastered the art of the power nap in my hammock.
1. MAP MAKERS ARE COOL!
Keith Myrmel has been receiving some pretty cool press lately for this new hand drawn map of the Superior Hiking Trail. It’s really a work of art. Through another friend, I was able to connect with him and meet up for a chat at one of my favorite local trailside establishments.
His background is in landscape architecture, and he was inspired to draw the map last Fall after hearing people ask about a full page map (rather than the existing section maps available from the SHTA). The detail is incredible. I spent some time reading it last night, trying to soak in the details that include things like: hashes for every 20′ of trail elevation gain or loss ,cell phone towers, ADA Accessibility, campsites with water sources and, one my favorites, mile markers every 5 miles. It’s printed on high quality waterproof paper and I’m just tickled that he signed it for me. He’s the kind of guy I hope to meet again, to trade trail stories and maybe do a proper interview.
Go buy his map! It’s for sale on his website, at local outfitters and a few State Parks on the North Shore.
2. ALWAYS BRING TWO TAMPONS (IN YOUR FIRST AID KIT!)
I usually speak up in First Aid classes and discussions, about the versatility of feminine hygiene items in your first aid kit. Since I’m a Boy Scout leader, I’m often the only woman (or one of few) in these discussions, so it’s a perfect set up. Here’s why:
- You could really help a gal in an emergency (i.e.: using the items for what they were intended for.) Dave the Period Fairy (language warning) is now a bonafide trail legend.
- Tampons and Maxi pads are engineered to soak up blood. If that makes you squeamish, you might need a little refresher on the stuff you learned in health class about how ALL human beings are made. Anyway, these items are great bandages, sources of sterile cotton and compress down small.
- These items are flammable and can be used as tinder if needed.
I’m sure there are more creative uses out there, but for us, it was a smack to the nose with a kayak paddle and a nosebleed that went on a little too long. I’ve never had to use a tampon for anything than what it was originally intended for and was pleased at how well it worked!
TIP: either buy, or ask a female friend to hook you up with a couple of OB Regular Tampons, they have less packaging, are absorbent and still small enough to stick up your nose if you need to. PRO TIP: if using as a nose plug, unwrap ONLY the top half of the cellophane, so the string doesn’t hang down your face. The Scouts were great sports about it and if any of them want one for their First Aid kit, I will happily give them a couple!
3. HIKER’S RASH STILL SUCKS
If anyone has found a cure for this, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Sorry for the detailed picture, but Hiker’s Rash is something I deal with fairly regularly when I hike longer distances on humid days over about 80 degrees. I am praying as I write this, that it goes away today and never comes back. No one really knows how to prevent it, including my two dermatologists, primary care doc and the internet. It seems to be some variant of heat rash that starts as hives, then irritates blood vessels around the ankles. It affects so many tourists at Disneyland, they have their own name for it.
Here’s what I’ve tried for prevention/treatment:
- Compression socks kind of work, or at least seem lessen it. But then that means you are wearing big old knee high socks on a hot days.
- I also take an antihistamine beforehand, stay hydrated and try to up my vitamin c.
- COLD water, ice and aloe after a hike, cools it and keeps the hives down. Taking a hot shower or shaving your legs will aggravate it.
- NEW! I tried benadryl gel yesterday and it relieved the pain and took the welts down right away. Day two looks like the 2nd picture above, but it doesn’t hurt. Be sure to read the directions before using Benedryl topically. The Disney Rash peeps use something called Calagel. I think the ingredients are the same as the benadryl gel but I might try that too!
Overall, my doc says it’s not a harmful condition, just a nuisance and makes me look like I have giant hickies on my ankles (that’s not weird at all…). My doc also says that the only way to prevent it is to stop hiking. So, since I’m not stopping, I have found that the best prevention is to stay out of the heat as much as you can, elevate and cool your legs and just treat it like a sunburn or rash afterwards. Hoping for cool weather on our SHT thru hike.
I don’t mean to complain about it, wanted to share just in case any fair skinned folks out there are getting this too and want to talk about it. I would LOVE to hear your suggestions!
4. RIVERS ARE WILD!
Took the Scouts on our first Kayak trip down the Kinnikinnick River on Friday! I am a kayaking merit badge instructor but have only been on a river a handful of times, so this was an adventure for me as well!
It rained for the full 3 hours on our trek and we loved it! We expected a hot and muggy day and were instead treated with a cool light rain and foggy mist on this winding little river.
Surprisingly, even after the rain, the river was very shallow and we dragged along the rocks a lot. It was really fun to maneuver through obstacles, get out and walk your boat, sink a couple, hit some small rapids and have a blast as a troop. If you are looking for an outfitter in the area, Tim at River Guide Kayaks was great to work with and I recommend checking them out.
In contrast, we jumped into the raging Willow River Falls to cool off after our long hot hike on Saturday and it was awesome!
5. REST, ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT
I’m getting better at this. I have had 2 or 3 power naps in my hammock this week and recovery should be built into any training plan. Water, good food and increasing the hours that you sleep at night are critical to staying healthy when you are pushing yourself. I had the opportunity to meet a Sports Chiropractor/Therapist this week that demonstrated some cool foam roller and lacrosse ball rolling techniques, but the other thing he emphasized was REST, like ACTUAL SLEEP.
Get it. Take time off. Take care of yourself.
What are you learning this week? Tell me!
Happy Trails and thanks for reading!