Backpacking Gear and Those Who Use It

This week, grey clouds have closed in over our heads releasing a continuous flow of rain; aspects from the Midwest I haven’t exactly missed. Last night after another full day of rain, it finally tapered off leaving just the humidity behind and just in time to allow Darwin and I dry walking conditions to a gathering. We had been invited to talk to a small group of women preparing for what will be for some of them, their first backpacking trip.

While going down their list of gear they were required to bring for their three-day trip, Darwin and I tag-teamed helping with the details. Darwin demonstrated how to use a stove and we shared our insights on using the hiker layering system for clothes. From zippy bags, trash compactor bags, stuff sacks, and pack covers we discussed the importance of keeping gear dry and the reality of being dirty and sweaty for most of the trip.

As we set there and swapped stories and details on gear, in the back of my mind I remembered my own first backpacking trip; it was awful. I wished in some ways I had gone out with a group of lady friends on my first trip and had been able to talk to someone who was more experienced before hitting the trail.

As Darwin unpacked his pack showing examples of how much stuff you actually don’t need, I wondered if they thought we were a little crazy. I remembered not having confidence that I carried everything I needed at first, sneaking little extras into my pack when Darwin wasn’t looking. I never thought I would be completely satisfied with just the small amount of items in my backpack for even a few days.

Darwin helped fit packs and we laid out a few pieces of gear we were selling, one of those items was Janet, the pack I carried for over half of the Appalachian Trail. After showing off her bells and whistles, she was carried out the door with her new owner, along with the Woodsy The Owl Patch I had sewn on her. I was glad to give Janet a new chance at adventure and glad to set up her new owner with a great first pack; one without a pencil and pen holder.

Taking in a room full of random pieces of gear strewn across the floor and table is a sight that will never get old for me (yes, even me, the non-gear-geek). Talking about gear and giving suggestions especially to a group of lady hikers is always a treat. The smell of used gear, the shiny clean look of the new, and the excitement and anticipation that fills a room where a backpacking trip is being planned is a natural high that is no doubt, better than any a drug could provide.


(The Many Adventures Of Janet, The Backpack) 

Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Recent Stuffs:

Recent Skirt Review – Purple Rain Adventure Skirt Review

Recent Book Review – Engineering Eden: REVIEW

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Another Post You May Enjoy:

Hometown Changes



Darwin’s POST PCT Thru-Hike Gear List


Waymark Thru 40 Pack –

Zpacks Shoulder Pouch –


ZPacks Duplex Tent-

8 Ti Shepherd Hook Stakes –

Sleep System

EE Enigma Quilt –

Thermarest Neo Air

Sea to Summit Aeros UL Pillow –

Zseat –

Goosefeet Gear Down Socks –

Cook System

Vargo Ti 700 BOT –

Sea to Summit Spoon –

Zpacks Cuben Food Bag (w/line)-

Water Filtration 

Katadyn BeFree 1L Filter –

2 – 1L Disposable Water Bottles


UCO Air Headlamp –

Anker PowerCore 10000 Charger –

Canon G7X Mark ii –

UltraPod Tripod –

Iphone 7 Plus –

Apple SD Card Reader –

Various Charging Cables


Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket –

EE Torrid APEX Jacket –

EE Wind Pants –

Ice Breaker Merino Wool T-Shirt –

Hand Knitted Beanie

Clothes Worn

Darn Tough Socks –

Wigwam Sock Liners –

Columbia SilverRidge Lite LS Shirt –

Nike Pro Running Shorts –

Buff –

Altra Olympus 3.0 –

Mesh Back Hat


BD Ergo Carbon Cork Trekking Poles –

Zpacks Ditty Bag –

Leuko Tape

Packtowel Nano –

Sea to Summit BugNet –

Triggerpoint Ball –

Spyderco Knife –

Deuce of Spades Trowel –

Chapstick Joshua Tree Sun Stick SPF 50 –

Bic Mini Lighter –

Small First Aid Kit

Shit Tickets



Hometown Changes

I have been working and riding my bicycle (The Prince Veronica) a lot this week in preparation for me and Darwin’s next adventure. Being back in my hometown has also allowed me a healthy dose of friends and family, which is always a great way to end one adventure and start the next.

My hometown also reminds me of the person I was when I left about three years ago; a girl who didn’t really have confidence in herself was scared of the unknown and being alone.

Now I’m a beast.


(An Artsy Pic Of The Prince Veronica Stolen From Darwin’s Instagram) 


Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

Skirt Review – Purple Rain Adventure Skirt Review

New Book Review – Engineering Eden: REVIEW

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Other Fun Posts:

Two Weeks Without A Shower

Departure Into The Unknown…

Engineering Eden: REVIEW

Full Title:

Engineering Eden: The True Story Of A Violent Death, A Trial, And the Fight Over Controlling Nature


The full title of Engineering Eden immediately caught my attention. When I read a summary of what the book was about, I knew I wanted to read it. Written by a former National Park and Forest Service Ranger Jordan Fisher Smith, I had no doubts that I would enjoy this read. Unfortunately, that was over three months ago and I still haven’t exactly finished the book. The reason why I’m writing a “somewhat” review on this book is that it does have some important information, however, the issue is with how it’s presented.

First off, I feel a little misled by the title. From the full title, I expected the book to solely focus on a specific event that occurred in a National Park, the trial held in concern of that event, and the issues in regards to addressing the causes of the event, and how to prevent future incidents from happening again. I was wrong. Smith only teases the reader by discussing only small pieces of Harry Eugene Walker’s case against the Department of Interior. The trial of a man who was mauled to death and partially eaten by a grizzly in Yellowstone National Park is given only in small doses to the reader; peppered throughout the book but never the main focus.

What I can only describe as biographies are given of key players and high-ranking decision makers fill a majority of this book. Another large part of the book is filled with other incidents of bear attacks in National Parks and the struggles experienced by the parks system in regards to how to run a “National Park”. Smith is no doubt knowledgeable and well versed in the history of the parks system (primarily Yellowstone) and the many consequences of its extremely poor choices the parks have experienced. From the massacre of wolves and buffalo to mass shootings of elk, bear dumps, and overused wild areas a lot can be learned from the accounts Smith discusses. However, the way the information is presented in a dry and uninteresting way, takes away from its importance. I personally found myself re-reading pages unable to focus on the information and simply skipping others.

Smith, in my opinion, has attempted to give a glimpse of the “behind the scenes” happenings in specifically Yellowstone National Park; information and stories that most are not privy too. However, it takes so long for Smith simply attempt to tie one person’s story and or history to another, it is easy to forget what the point of it all was. I found myself lost finding no real flow within the book. I kept reading expecting to be tied back into Walker’s case but Smith never really puts full focus on it, treating the case more as a minor story among other major ones. Basically, the book is like reading a textbook but without knowing what the subject is. History? Law? Ecology?

So again, why am I writing this review? Because I feel that Smith does provide some very interesting and thought-provoking histories that show the growth of the Park Service and of humans. The histories within this book show just how cocky humans can be when we feel we are on the top of the food chain and how that arrogance can endanger flora, fauna, and ourselves.


I think there is a lot to be learned from this book but as the reader, you’re really going to have to dig for it. Smith’s writing style is very dry and full of barebone information, and I will again compare it to reading a textbook. I’ll continue reading it here and there taking from it what I can. I don’t, however, plan on finishing it anytime soon as I have found this is not a book I can easily get lost in. And what of the initial trial that so intrigued me? I’m only halfway in, several months of attempts at reading and finishing it and I have still yet to find out the circumstances surrounding Walker’s fatal grizzly encounter.

Overall I feel Smith had good intentions with getting a larger point across with Engineering Eden however that point, whatever it was originally intended to be, was lost in a swirl of everything else. Perhaps you will have better luck with Engineering Eden then me and if you do, I would love to know your thoughts!

See what you think! Purchase your own copy on Amazon using the link below or you can check with your local library!


(Cover of Engineering Eden & Author as Featured on







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Purple Rain Adventure Skirt Review

Reviewed By: Snuggles

Specs For A Size Medium (Size 8-10) Skirt:

• Length 20”
• Skirt is 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex Blend
• DWR Finish (Waterproof)
• Moisture-wicking stretchy waistband
• Waistband is 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex
• Two Velcro Cargo Pockets
• Two Regular Pockets (built within the Cargo Pockets)
Overall Impression:

Love it even more than my other skirts! I was immediately interested in the Purple Rain Adventure skirt due to the stretchy and soft waistband which is extremely comfortable. I was also attracted by the fact these skirts are handmade and designed by a female long-distance hiker, Mandy “Purple Rain” Bland who tested this skirt design herself on the PCT.

In Action:

Great on the trail! I can get a FULL range of motion with this skirt and do not feel restricted in any way. It’s extremely light and seems to fit any body form due to the stretchy waistband which also allows it to stay in place. I did not experience the skirt “riding up” in any way while out on trail or in just normal day use.

The skirt is flowy and soft and I can comfortably wear running shorts, tights, underwear, etc. under it without my stomach feeling cut off by tons of elastic. It is also long enough to not wear anything underneath without feeling totally exposed. As with most adventure and hiking skirts, it’s extremely easy to take a pee or poo out in the wilderness while wearing one and the Purple Rain Skirt is no exception.

Great for everyday! I went with Black for my skirt and find I can wear it for almost any occasion. A black skirt can easily be dressed up or down which makes this comfortable skirt a great option even for the 9 to 5 lifestyle.


Honestly, It was hard to find any downfalls in this skirt. It was very clear it was designed by someone who knows what works and what doesn’t. If there was one thing I could mention as a possible downfall it would maybe be that the pockets, when loaded with heavier items, pull/stretch the skirt. The weight, for instance, of a cell phone, pulls down and stretches the material. This wasn’t awful but I could noticeably feel the pull in the material making the skirt feel not as comfortable.

It should be noted, however, the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt is designed as a hiking skirt and maybe not so much to carry or pack heavier items. If you’re wearing this skirt in the field, your probably going to be wearing a pack of some sort that would be carrying heavier items anyways. The pockets, however, are perfect for lighter items such as a small wallet, lip gloss, tissue, etc. This again is just something I noticed when carrying a phone in the pocket, which even though I feel the pull of the material, I still do.

I have also worried about the material of the skirt becoming snagged and torn due to being on the thinner side. As of date, I have noticed no holes or snags after a lot of wear and in field use


$64.99 for a basic Adventure Skirt (available in Black, Purple, and Sandstone)

Purple Rain does offer Kilts and customized orders. For these prices, you will need to check out the website.


I have had this skirt for over a month and wear it a LOT. It’s extremely comfortable and I have gotten rid of several specific hiking shorts due to wearing my Adventure Skirt more. I really, really love the waistband and would say it’s my favorite feature of the skirt. I love the way it’s designed to wear as a “low rider” or below the belly button. I don’t feel any uncomfortable pressure from the fabric that would leave indentions on my skin as elastic waistbands often due and experience no rubbage from the waistband. I personally tend to become bloated during my period and find this skirt is even comfortable to wear then.

I have come to realize I really love wearing skirts during my travels but this skirt is now deemed my official hiking skirt. I have never exactly considered myself a “girly girl” by any means but have found skirts are way more functional for the active lifestyle especially the hiker.

Overall, I would totally recommend a Purple Rain skirt! It is designed and handmade by a lady hiker so it fits in all the right places and is functional in every way a lady needs!

Check It Out Yourself At:







Bowie, Adventure Companion

Darwin and I have made the decision to retire our pup Bowie. Bowie is actually no longer a pup but a 9-year old lab-mix. I had wanted her before I even met her. Growing up with a dog pal as a kid, when Darwin and I got married and bought a house, I wanted to fill our space not with children but with dog fur, slobbers, barks, cuddles, and love. It took much convincing but finally, a little black fuzzball came into our lives, the runt of her litter.

Since that moment I first smelled her puppy breath, I have been cleaning up after her. Cleaning up poop and pee during the early years, picking up ripped toys and pleading for her to be forgiven when she chewed up everything in the yard including wires to our air conditioning. This fulltime outside dog wallered in the dirt and mud and refused to even enter her eighty-dollar doghouse let alone sleep in it. Slowly she worked her way into our house. As she matured she realized the weaknesses of the fools that claimed to own her, and used her big brown eyes to get what she wanted; she owned us.

When our lifestyle started to change it also changed for Bowie. Her backyard became the National Parks and the view from her home became the road and a continuous slew of changing landscapes.

Our first time apart was in 2015 when Darwin and I left for our hike on the Appalachian Trail. Leaving her looking confused as she watched from my mother’s front porch as we drove off without her. This memory still strikes pain in my heart even writing this. From then on she has always been suspicious of us any time we leave her alone to run even the smallest errand.

During the four months, Darwin was hiking the PCT,  Bowie and I traveled together. She was my co-pilot, protector, and close friend. We shared a van, a bed, food, hikes, and numerous adventures together but before we left for this venture, Darwin and I could not ignore the tired look in her eyes. What was once a solid coat of black fur was now tainted with white. Our hikes had become shorter and took longer, naps are were more frequent and Bowie was plain grouchy at times.

Our trip down the coast was wonderful but Bowie noticeably relieved her pack was back together, seemed exhausted. She does not have words of her own and so depends on her actions to speak for her and for us her pack, to understand and take care of her. And so a pack decision was made.

When we pulled up to my mom’s house this week we opened the Clydesdale’s door one final time for Bowie. She immediately jumped out and ran into the house with not a moment’s hesitation or look back at Darwin or me.

That yard will stay her’s to explore unrestrained by a leash. She will now fill my mom’s house with ripped up toys, dog slobbers, black and white fur, barks, and love. She will spend the rest of her days playing with her dog-uncle, napping in air conditioning in the summer, and snuggling with my mom in the winter. She is undeniably happy and though it will be hard to take on the rest of our life adventures without her, I know she’s happier.

(A Collage Of Cute Bowie Pictures) 

Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

Hiking Skirt Review – Coming Later This Week! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Bowie Related Posts Of The Past:

In Defense Of Bowie: A Leashed Dog

Traveling Alongside the PCT…

Bowie Poops and Bolted Floors

The Last Visit To Joshua Tree

We found ourselves in Joshua Tree, CA earlier this week saying goodbye to some old friends. Not knowing when we will see each other again the visit was bittersweet this time around; a lingering sense of change hung in the air around us.

The day of our departure arrived and Darwin and I woke early to say goodbye to yet another, Joshua Tree National Park. We greeted a seemingly empty park and drove in silence enjoying the quiet and the morning hues of the landscape surrounding us. We started hiking on a trail chatting about nothing. Darwin pulled ahead as I lagged behind him, my thoughts wandering at the vastness of the park, which is always astounding to me.

As we continued down the trail, I found myself winded and sweaty. It had been almost two weeks since my feet had hit a dirt trail and I could tell. Stopping to catch my breath, I closed my face and took in the heat on my face, the sweat dripping down my back, and the burn from my labored breath in the back of my throat. I took in the moment with my ever being. I was in the present.

When I opened my eyes, Darwin was in the distance waiting. I wouldn’t have to explain to him what I was doing, he knew. I caught up to him and we shared a wide section of trail side by side. The last time we hiked together was here, prior to his PCT hike. We reflected on time spent in this park within the current year and last, thanking our lucky stars for the experiences, the revelations it brought forth to us and the special people who we spent time with inside its boundaries. We fell back into another comfortable silence when the trail gifted us one last time after already giving us so much.

A Desert Kit Fox quietly emerged from nowhere and walked the trail towards us. We watched him in awe as he approached closer, so close I had the urge to take several steps back. He took his time strolling past us, smelling a few things along the way but never hesitating; every step was confident and graceful. We watched until the fox disappeared like a mirage into the desert.

We left the park full of love on our last day; love for the land, for the people who protect it, and the living things within it. This harsh and dry place will always have a piece of hearts.

Thank you Joshua Tree National Park, you have given us more than we will ever be able to repay to you.


Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

More Adventures Are Coming As We Continue to Head East!

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries – The Picture of the Fox is Posted Here!

Recent Posts You May Have Missed:

Cruising Into Idyllwild

A Blur Of Activity …

The Most Treacherous Road To Darwin