Shawnee

Tomorrow we leave for a 3 night, 4 day backpacking trip and I’m starting to get a liiiittle nervous. We’ve never done a trip this long yet (30miles) and some bad weather is expected. 

Part of the adventure, right? I’m super excited and also anxious to get out there. I know once we start all will be well. I always get so worked up with butterflies, “maybe we should stay home” thoughts and what ifs. 

Naturally, all this week has been cool, mild and sunny. This weekend is going to be stormy, muggy and hot. Eye roll.

I loathe the Midwest sometimes. 

All of our stuff is sprayed down with Permethrin. 

Our packs are ready to go (mine weighing in at 28.8 total and B’s 30.0 total.) 

Wish us luck! Training and a reality check for Shenandoah begins tomorrow!

We will be blogging, Instagramming, and YouTubing this adventure. See ya soon!

J

Oh my blog!

I haven’t forgotten you this month of May. I have been so busy. It’s 9:30am on a Saturday, I’m still in bed and this is the latest I’ve slept in weeks. 

A few things have happened since my last post. I have a new laptop which has been pretty handy. I have gone and returned from an incredible vacation that may have changed many things for me in terms of where I would like to live one day. I have had 2 root canal procedures. Ugh. Still lots of dental work to be done! B and I have been experimenting with video editing and working on vlogging; which will only happen once a month or so. 

It takes so long to record a bunch of footage, watch all of it through 20 times to decide to only use so much of it. It’s been fun though, and something different. Putting yourself out there outside of just words on a background is difficult to embrace. I don’t do well on camera but adjusting has been entertaining. Maybe one day it’ll feel comfortable!

On that note, I will leave a link to our YouTube channel. I am still figuring it out and so it still has a weird, long link address. 

Pottsiepackin YouTube Channel!
We have ONE subscriber, woohoo! Please follow and subscribe if you’d like, and check out our Yosemite and Beyond video diary from our epic roadtrip we took at the beginning of the month.

You’ll be hearing back from me with some photos and a brief breakdown of the trip soon as well.

Thanks for reading!

J

Things to come…

With declaring a large goal, the first thing you want to do is ensure you follow through. The second thing that happens (to me at least!) is pure, adrenaline pumping anxiety and manic thoughts; what do I need to do? How do I need to do it? How do I make sure it’s right? Can I do this? Can WE do this?

Of course those questions keep you (aka: me) awake, literally all night long. Since I’ve posted about our desire and our plan to hike the entire John Muir Trail in 2 summers from now, I have been wide awake until nearly 4am every morning obsessively researching, watching YouTube videos and interrogating Instagram/Facebook friends and strangers that have completed it in it’s whole or who have done sections. 

Thoughts I’ve established over the last week:

We have ultimately come to the realization we will have to start at Mount Whitney and head Northbound to Yosemite Valley. That’s great and all, but starting a month long, strenuous hike at the highest point in the lower 48 means acclimating to the elevation, knocking out the absolute most difficult sections in the first 4 days of our trip. Do I even have that in me? Climbing uphill with little oxygen when I can barely climb uphill with all the oxygen? Is this a joke?

I’ll tell you what the joke is. Obtaining a JMT permit from Yosemite. How is there not a better system!? I understand the desire and the growing fascination with backcountry hiking. I fell into it as well. I also understand protecting the integrity of the trail and not sending 70,000 people one way at a time. But my goodness. Planning for this trip is hard enough, but not being guaranteed a spot when you have to practically fight to take off work is horrifying. 

Then comes buying better gear. Do I have backpacking gear? Oh, please. I’m a hoarder about it. Do I have a baseweight of 12 pounds? LOLNO. So now comes the purchase of some better UL gear; a new tent we can easily carry for 25 days (I’m really leaning towards Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2), a new sleeping bag and probably pad for ME (suggestions please!) as B (the human space heater) should be fine with his heavier REI Trail Pod 29, and the investment in appropriate jackets. 

We also need 2 bear canisters, decent trekking poles and to begin a pretty lengthy strength and distance training regimen. (The upside is, now I can happily donate my used things to Gear Forward!) Gear is one thing, a months worth of food for 2 people is another. We will have to resupply at least twice, if not three times along the trail. I am choosing to send a few buckets out, not caring of the shipping cost (also a potential for it to get lost en route so I’ve read/watched…) and having them brought in to us on trail so we don’t have to leave and hitch into towns. 

We also need to save the money to get us out there and back, have enough socked away to ensure all of our bills are paid for the month we’ll be gone, set up care for our two dogs, and try not to kill each other as we take on what will most likely be the most challenging thing we’ve ever set ourselves up for.

Does all of this stress me out? IMMENSELY. Does it also fill me with extreme excitement and pride knowing that I WILL follow through with this, no matter how scary and daunting and awful the preparation will surely be? So much. This is the trip of a lifetime. It’s an opportunity anyone should take if they are able. I am petrified.

Brace yourselves over the next 2 years for me to be just as annoying as I usually am about these things, but with a dose of extra annoying because HOLY CRAP. JMT!

In the meantime, today I will be cleaning my house and packing as we leave for Yosemite and beyond on Wednesday! We will be trying something new and vlogging this trip, as well as making the usual post-trip entry here but that will likely be less detailed since we are going to share a LOT on YouTube. I can’t wait to get out to California and spend the next week on the road to Rainier! 

J

Vlogging

Something new we are going to try this year. The word “vlog” or “vlogging” is just so ridiculous sounding I can’t even take it seriously.

But! We’re going to give this a try. Nothing fancy. Smashing together photos and video clips of our outings, and then sometimes me or B talking about outdoorsy things. I made a YouTube channel I linked in my menu section. We’re gonna put something together in the next few weeks after our Cali-Oregon-Washington trip. 

A FB friend on my favorite Facebook group (Midwest Adventures – if you’re Midwest, come join us!!!) tossed the idea my way after I shared a 4 minute video I made last year and…why not? I’m terribly awkward in person and even more so on screen so, you’ll get to see all that play out. Fun for all. 

My number one main reason for doing it is to continue networking and keep growing my little web of other backpackers (new and seasoned and everything in between) and outdoor bloggers so we can help each other out. I have met some INCREDIBLE people the last year I have been doing this and I want to continue to grow in that way. Also, I have had a couple opportunities thrown my way for reviewing products WHICH IS AWESOME.

So yeah, I’ll be a spaz on a video to try stuff out and tell you about our trips and treks and our plans and share some of our weird, happy little boring life. 

What do you think about video blogging? 

J

What is it called…

When you can’t sit still.

When you need to be planning the next trek.

When you have your next adventure set in your heart but it’s still too far away?

I think B and I decided we are going to take 3 – 4 weeks off next summer and thru hike the JMT. 

I am over the moon excited, scared, happy, anxious. We just need to figure out some dates, but tentatively late July, early August 2018. Which means we have a lot to do between now and then. 


Omg.

Edit: We have decided to plan for 2019! Giving us more time to prep and train!

J

11

Eleven is my number. I wouldn’t even say it’s lucky, I just know it follows me everywhere. That being said…we have eleven days until we leave to fly to San Francisco, California where we begin our week long roadtrip that ends at Mt. Rainier. I am so excited for it to get here, but I’m also scared it’s going to go by so fast. 

A few things have occurred since my last check in. One of those occurrences being my need for major dental work. Ugh. Along with my regular, every day annoying anxiety comes dental anxiety. I had been hurting since the end of March. I hadn’t been to a dentist in an embarrassingly long while – resulting in not so good news. I have 2 broken teeth in need of either extraction or root canal (I have chosen the RC procedures as I apparently like to torture myself), one of those two teeth are abcessed. Further, I will need 3 crowns, 3 fillings and my wisdom teeth out. All of this coming right at the time our taxes were paid, as well as an unexpected and expensive part/maintenance needed for our car ASAP. 

So you might say things have been a little stressful and I have been extra irritable lately; with my mouth in constant throbbing pain for going on 3 weeks, our finances taking a blow and a vacation coming up that I cannot wait any longer for. Did I mention I can’t get any of my dental work done until we get home due to scheduling? So I am praying hard that I have a comfortable trip with no inconveniences or pain. It’s all I ask! 

The last few weeks have been very trying in many ways. It seems like nothing has gone right. Work has been awful, my general health is off…I just need to get it together. I don’t mean for this post to be so negative, it’s just that I have to put it out there somewhere because keeping it bottled does me no good. =)

So. I have decided that I fit in wonderfully alongside April showers and May flowers. It has come to my attention (thank you TimeHop) and I realized that nearly every year come this time; I begin to emerge from the dark cave I tuck myself into every November. Like a perennial, I find my way back out come April – desperately seeking sunshine and the promise of warmer days ahead. A thirst for rain and shine to help me grow. This past winter was a rough one. I welcome spring wholeheartedly.

Part of this season brings new adventures and the excitement of visiting places unknown to me. I can’t wait to see the wonders of Muir Woods and Yosemite Valley. I am ecstatic to see Multnomah Falls and finally experience the blue of Crater Lake. To spend an afternoon walking among the grounds of Mount Saint Helens and view a looming Mt. Rainier. And everything in between. Being with my best friend. I need this so much right now. We are just checking the National Parks off of our list and having the best time doing it.

Happy Earth Day. I didn’t get to be outside today due to laundry and housework but I’m going to try to convince B to take me hiking tomorrow. I hope everyone has had a great weekend! 

Talk soon.

J

Today I feel like…

I would rather be here. Counting the days down until we are on the road again. Travel bug bites are the itchiest. 20 days!

Tuesday

It’s only 2 days in to a really long week and the only thing that sounds good is a hot bath, hot chocolate and YouTubing Appalachian Trail videos.

This is 32 and 3/4.

J

Gear Forward

If you are passionate about the outdoors, please read! I promise you it will tug your heartstrings.

I am super excited to announce I have been accepted as Illinois Ambassador for Gear Forward. 

Gear Forward is a non-profit organization that accepts and distributes new and used outdoor gear donations to help outfit children and teens with appropriate supplies to ensure positive camping and backpacking experiences as well as building self-esteem, encouraging friendships and creating memories. Camping, hiking and backpacking changed MY life. It has become a passion I never knew I would come to love so much, and to be able to help a child in need – to expose them to outdoor experiences I didn’t have at a young age is what drives me to try as hard as I can.

The founder of this wonderful cause shared some stories with me that fueled me with the desire to help. He has witnessed young children on Scouts outings carrying the comforter off of their own bed from home in a trash bag to use on camping trips. A lot of times, their families cannot afford to buy new sleeping bags, tents or backpacks to send with them. 

This is where Scott came up with the idea of “gearing forward”, going through his own stash of belongings, much of it unused, and giving back to the next generation of outdoorsmen and women. 

We know how important conservation education is, and how incredibly necessary it is to spread awareness of LNT principles. It is our job as Earth and nature lovers to make sure we encourage and educate young people! 

My goal is to not only spread the word here in the Midwest, but make connections and reach out to as many people as I can not only in the state of Illinois, but the US by corresponding with troop leaders, youth groups, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, scouts and outdoor retail shops to find out who needs what, and where. 

Surprisingly, getting donations isn’t the hard part. It’s finding people to give to. It seems a lot of organizations don’t want to reach out for help – if you’re in need, please inquire! 

Do you organize camping trips for kids? Are you or any of your local groups in need of outdoor gear for outings? Is there anything I can help you with?! Please let me know! I’m here to help!

If you don’t have gear to donate but want to help or contribute, we have other options!


Aside from merchandise (all profits from sales  go toward gear purchase to donate!), we accept gift cards from outdoor retailers. New or used! Even if you have only $2.39 left on your own gift card, we will utilize it! 

Check out http://www.gearforward.org for more information and to view my Ambassador profile, like on Facebook for updates, and follow on Instagram @gear_forward to keep up with our progress! 
Jennifer Potts

Illinois

Aprily things 

Oh, hello there! Long time no see! It’s been April for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been busy with work, life and some new projects!

I can’t even remember where I last left off so I’ll just start with last weekend. I had been craving some camp time and B had prior plans, so I packed up the van and took Cash out to St. Francois State Park again. I loved the campground and hiking trails out there so much I wanted a repeat. Cash and I got an early start Friday, so we spent the morning and afternoon setting up camp, hiking and waiting for a few friends that met up with us to camp for the weekend!

The Virginia Bluebells were in full force; overwhelming my vision with a sea of purple and blue against a rich green. The nakedness of the Midwestern trees still stark and brown. Life making it’s way through! We’ve had plenty of rain through the end of March and early April. I felt like a little part of Virginia was there with me that day, just reminding me our excursion on the AT is only 5 and a half months from now.We had a peaceful, slow paced walk that day. I paused to take lots of photos. Nobody else on the trail but us. I love solo hiking so much. I’m still working my way into trying new places and perhaps overnighting, but I sure do feel awesome after just a few hours alone.

The AT in the fire calling to me =)

It was a wonderful and comfortable weekend, breaking in spring and relaxing with a few good friends. 

I have also had a super sweet mail week! Proudly supporting the Appalachian Trail: Women’s Group (hands down the most kind and helpful AT group I’ve found on Facebook…come join us!) with a hiking tee and sticker. I spent my REI dividend finally and got the cutest Jetboil Flash I’ve ever seen, plus two long Sea to Summit sporks.

In just 3 weeks we will be flying out to San Francisco for our 5 day roadtrip from Yosemite up to Mt. Rainier. We have some awesome side trips planned for that route! One of them including a hike at Mount St. Helens! I think we have chosen to do Norway Pass. I’m still not sure which trail I want to take on in Yosemite. We will have a day and a half to spend there! Luckily, B just lets me plan and goes with the flow. Lots to do before we leave! It’s time for some list making.
So – I will be making a separate post tonight for a project/organization I am part of! Please check it out, it’s an amazing cause! I plan to share it within the hour!

J