Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review of Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot by Sarah Marquis

I recently read Wild by Nature the English translation of the original French Sauvage par Nature written by Sarah Marquis.

I remember shortly after I finished my PCT record hike hearing about Sarah's remarkable 3 year pedestrian journey across Siberia, Asia, and Australia. I felt an incredible sense of awe at her accomplishment and thought, "My hike was nothing in comparison to that!"

Obviously, I was excited to get my hands on her book and read it.

Although I enjoyed it, I was somewhat disappointed. It was certainly an interesting story of her journey, but it seemed to lack depth of detail. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it seemed like the literary equivalent of trying to explain a vivid dream to someone else. More than once I felt like I was catching a tiny glimpse of the vibrancy of the experience she was describing, but then the words melted into vagueness.

Because of my own journeys, I was able to read between the lines and catch at the things she was seeking to describe. I also could identify with so many of the emotions and the circumstances. I enjoyed reading of her experiences and feeling a connection and a familiarity with them, even though they took place in other countries. There is an expression in Tanzania that says, "Same, same, but different." I often felt the sameness, even though the people and places were different.

Overall, I'd recommend the book to anyone who enjoys reading about adventure.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review of Called Again by Jennifer Pharr-Davis

I'll start with this: JPD is one of my heroes. I managed to get her phone number through the friend of a friend connection prior to attempting my PCT FKT in 2012. I remember being sweaty palmed and nervous to talk to her on the phone.

By the time we hung up I felt like just maybe I could manage to pull and FKT hike together.

Jennifer is strong, compassionate, and encouraging. Her words on the phone before the PCT helped me plan better. Her words in Called Again, the story of her own FKT on the Appalachian Trail, helped me stay strong and focused in the dark, hopeless moments of my Appalachian Trail FKT last year.

So, now the book.

Called Again is Jennifer's account of her overall supported Fastest Known Time hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2011 (subsequently broken by Scott Jurek in 2015). She was supported by her husband Brew. She covered the entire 2,181 miles in 46 days.

What I loved about this book was the detail of the story behind the miles. The love of hiking. The strength of her marriage through hardship and sacrifice. The beautiful generosity that pervades the long distance hiking and running communities.

Jennifer is an above average writer, something that I find hard to come by amongst athletes that write their stories. She is gifted not only physically, but artistically. If you've struggled with the writings of other modern athletes you won't have that problem with Called Again.

If you're curious about the mental ups and downs of pushing yourself to the very limit for prolonged periods of time this is an incredibly honest look. Jennifer doesn't hold back from admitting the times she was less than kind and generous to her support crew. This makes for an authentic read rather than euphoric fluff. It's real, gritty, honest, and complete. I loved every word.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sealskinz Waterproof Socks Review

I am an ambassador for Sealskinz USA and as such receive my socks at no cost. I choose to write reviews on my blog for those who are interested. I am under no obligation from the company to do so, and the opinions expressed here are just that: my honest opinions based on my personal experience with the products reviewed.

I stumbled onto Sealskinz USA at the winter Outdoor Retailer show two years ago. I was immediately impressed with their waterproof technology and ordered a pair of socks for my second run at the Barkley Marathons. From there I have developed a working relationship with this great UK based company and have been privileged to try a wide variety of their gear in all types of conditions all over the world. The gear I have used has performed admirably from the summit of Rainier to the jungle of New Zealand. They've also been great supporters of my role as public speaker and frequently provide sample products to giveaway to the audience. Thank you, Terri and the Sealskinz USA co!

Since it all started with socks, I'll review several styles here today. For what it's worth, Sealskinz offers a huge variety in their socks and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a style that wouldn't work for you. Overall I have been extremely satisfied with the waterproofness and durability with only a couple of caveats and cautions.

  • Never, ever put them through the dryer! Alas, my first pair got fried when my boyfriend inadvertently put them in the dryer. They were never the same.
  • Make sure you're wearing the right temperature rating. I've had issues with super sweaty feet that ended up cold and wet because the socks I was wearing were too warm for conditions.
  • Consider a liner. Along those same lines I've layered my Sealskinz socks with Drymax liner socks for long days. This helps keep the feet from getting soggy from sweat.
  • Don't wade unless you've got hydrostop! I've made the mistake of fording rivers that were too deep for my sock height and ended up with a sock full of water for the rest of the day. Make sure you get one of their hydrostop models if you think there's a chance you'll be going over sock deep.
  • Keep the pebbles out! (and other debris) I wasn't conscientious about this on a mixed river/bushwhack/scree hike and noticed that small holes rendered the socks leaky. Pair them with good gaiters if you'll be taking them through rough terrain.

Here are the styles I've worn for various occaisions:
Barkley Marathons: Mid Length Mid Weight Sock
Mt. Rainier: Thick Mid Length Sock
Glacier Travel: Thick Mid Length Sock
Snowshoeing: Trekking Sock
River Fords: Women's Thin Mid Length Sock

Climbing Mt. Rainier with Sealskinz USA

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Altra Running Intuition Everyday Review

I am an Altra Running Athlete and as such receive my shoes at no cost. I choose to write reviews on my blog for those who are interested. I am under no obligation from the company to do so, and the opinions expressed here are just that: my honest opinions based on my personal experience with the products reviewed.

I have never had good luck with women's dress shoes. Maybe it's because I wear a women's size 12 or maybe it's because most women's footwear is designed for looks only. Probably some of both. Either way, I am usually the one showing up to weddings in flip flops or wearing a pair of trail runners. 

Therefore I was intrigued to see that Altra was making an "Everyday" shoe. So, I ordered a pair.

The Intuition Everyday isn't a real "dress up" shoe, but it's a perfect middle of the road between casual and office. I wear them to all my public speaking engagements (use the contact me form for more information) as well as to interviews, etc.

  • The comfort of Altra's foot-shaped toe box
  • Not having to sacrifice the zero-drop platform when you're not out running
  • Neutral colors go well with many different clothes

  • A little clunky looking
  • Not well suited to wearing with a dress or skirt

If you are looking for a comfortable shoe in neutral tones to wear with slacks then this is it. 

If you're wanting something a bit more feminine...then let's just keep our fingers crossed that Altra get's to that sometime soon!