|Weekly steps measured using two Android apps, with a 3 week moving average|
With less than 9 weeks to go until my Oregon adventure; less than 5 weeks until my 3-night Arches/Canyonland NP trip to Utah; and 3 weeks until I spend the night in Bear Trap canyon near Norris after a 9 mile hike, it's good that I'm able to step up my steps. Not only is the quantity of steps going up, but I'm deliberately tackling steeper terrain. It's still hard work. I'm still getting out of breath sometimes, but I don't stop altogether now. I might still take 15 to 20 seconds to catch my breath sometimes on the really steep parts and let my pulse rate settle down a bit, but I press on.
Through all of this, I am so thankful that my feet haven't given me any significant problems. My Moab Ventilator walking shoes (got mine at The Base Camp) have performed really well. I'll probably end up buying a second pair, so that there's a seamless transition when the first pair inevitably wear out. The only fault I can find with them right now is the laces that came with them both broke after just a few months. If I had to give them a rating out of five, it'd have to be ***** five stars. They are a solid, reliable piece of gear for me.
Speaking of reliable gear, one of the very first pieces of gear I bought, back in October 2015, was my trekking poles (http://blog.ergoob.org/2015/10/trying-out-walking-with-trekking-poles.html). They are a very lightweight (80% carbon fiber/20% aluminum) set of an unknown brand ("Flyingbird" is woven into the hand straps) for $50. With the exception of an occasional tiny slip of the locking mechanism (easily fixed), these poles have performed amazingly well. You can still buy them from my favorite online retailer (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Y82IYGS). Today, I had to replace the rubber "feet" at the ends. The old ones hadn't quite worn out, but I was beginning to hear a metallic-sounding clank from time to time as the tungsten-steel tips hit the paved road. I expect that, later this summer, I'll invest in an upgrade to a pair from Black Diamond or Leki. For anyone looking to get into using trekking poles for the first time, I would certainly recommend these (***** 5 stars).
About ten years ago, I bought a Berghaus (European brand) 20 Liter day pack for little local hikes around the Berkshire countryside in England. It served me well at the time, and I brought it back to the States with me the following year when I moved back here. Then the plastic buckle broke. I contacted Berghaus, who didn't reply, so I more or less stopped using the pack. Today, thanks to Bob at The Base Camp, I not only have a new buckle for that, but also an extension for the "fanny pack" that is the lid of my new 60 Liter Osprey Aether backpack. That worked out really well, and for under $5 each.
Speaking of my Osprey Aether backpack, I was surprised that the hydration bladders were as reasonably priced as they are. I got the Osprey brand 3 liter reservoir for $36, although I doubt that I'll ever fill it all the way to the top. Now I'll have a way of carrying, say, 5 pounds of water (5 pints) on my back without any bulky bottles. I'll have a separate 16 ounce "dirty" water container for use with my Sawyer Mini filter, and a re-purposed Gatorade bottle for my immediate drinking needs. On the Oregon trip, at the end of May, there are plenty of lakes, and the streams will still be flowing with spring runoff (melted snow). The dry season won't be for a month or two after I've been there.