April Challenge – 2018

Tonight I earned my April Challenge while on a practice hike.  We also spotted a few deer, a small red fox, and a friendly Yellow Labrador Retriever.


Going Backpacking After 32 Years

When I was much younger, I was in Cub Scouts and then joined Boy Scout Troop 293 in North Huntingdon, PA.  I went on many hiking and camping trips until I was about 16, and then quit because I had a driver’s license, a girl friend, and wanted to make money.

Fast-forward to 2008, my son joined Cub Scout Pack 86 in Wilmington, DE.  He did pretty well in Cub Scouts and was looking forward to joining Boy Scouts.  We scouted around and joined Troop 660 in Wilmington, DE.  It is a great troop, we enjoy going on all the camping trips, participating in the Klondike Derby, and other activities.  I am happy to say my son is doing well with Boy Scouts and should ear his Star Rank in the next week.

So what does that have to do with backpacking?  We are going to Philmont Scout Ranch in 2018.  With that in mind, I figured it was time to start training.  After all it’s been 32 years since I’ve gone on a backpacking trip.  I don’t own a backpack.  So I started some research and had to get fitted.  The folks at REI did a great job helping my son and I with choosing backpacks.  I ended up with a REI Traverse 70.  There were a lot of customers today, so weights were scarce.  Let’s just say adding 25 pounds to your back for the first time in 32 years is a bit of an eye opener.

Time to start the training!  I took my backpack out for a spin at Carousel Park Farm for a hike.  I didn’t load it with too much with stuff.  I started easy to get a feel of the pack.  What I like about Carousel Park is the different terrain you come across.  Grass fields for part of a path then a turn and you’re into the woods with trees and roots to watch for.  Part of the path had gravel and driveway stone.

I hiked 3.4 miles in about 76 minutes and survived!  WOOT!  I’m sure those numbers are terrible, but I was pleased with my first attempt.  A buddy of mine told me about a few more places I should look at to practice hiking before our week-long trek in July.

Fitbit Flex

Over the years I’ve tried to spend some time exercising.  Usually riding my bike (bought a bike trainer for Christmas 2012 for the winter), walking or hiking.  Although I’ve had some success with weight loss or maintaining my weight, I’ve been wanting to lose some more weight.  Exercise is a great way to accomplish this, but I never seem to get anywhere.  I need to track my calories, and being a gadget guy, I bought a FitBit Flex on August 1st.

Fitbit Flex

What do I like about the Fitbit Flex?  It’s easy to use.  Install the app on your Mac or PC, connect the Bluetooth Sync Dongle, and setup your online account and set some goals.  Then download the app for your mobile device, and start walking, jogging, or running.  Fitbit Flex will track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, active minuets, hours slept, and quality of sleep.  You will need Bluetooth 4.0 in your mobile device to sync directly to the Fitbit app.

There are a list of other apps that work with FitBit including my favorite, MyFitnessPal.  You can also set goals, earn badges, and workout with friends.

With the wrist band, the device is water resistant, not water proof.  You can leave it on while washing your hands to taking a shower, but you shouldn’t swim with it.  Fitbit Flex is light weight, and I don’t pay much attention to it.  I’ll check my progress through out the day by double tapping on the face.  Flashing dots appear to show me how far I am to reaching my goal.  Once I hit my goal, the device buzzes like a phone on silent and flashes lights on the front.  I have to admit, it is a good feeling knowing i hit my goal for the day.

With MyFitnessPal and Runtastic, I can track my calories burned and try to keep under my allocated calories for the day.

I’ve lost some weight within the last three weeks.  I’m learning to eat smarter by watching my caloric intake and understanding I can have a snack once in a while, but it may cost me later for dinner, or maybe longer periods of exercise.  I know it’s common sense, but sometimes you have to go back and retrain yourself on making better choices.