Saturday, December 12, 2020

Covid Healing: What did mine look like? How does it affect you?

Sheri and I are both feeling better every day from our recent bout with Covid. I continue to have a mild cough 13 days past my non-contagious clearance from my doctor, but it is getting better every day. My cardio is pretty crummy! Just one month ago I was running the stairs at the Oceanside amphitheater, lunging for a ½ mile, and lifting weights 3 times a week! My Apple Watch health app was really making me feel good about my fitness! One month later, I get winded pretty easily and have had to take it slow and not over do it. That’s not my style, but that is my reality! I can’t wait to start working out again! Monday I’ll start the workouts, start slow, and work my way back up to great fitness!


With all of the Covid fatigue going around, and the vast increase in Covid cases, I have a few million dollar questions. Am I immune to getting Covid again? Am I immune to giving Covid to someone else?


I have to be honest. After getting Covid, I was looking for some kind of way to explain Covid to others. I didn’t want my friends to avoid me. I didn’t want everyone to be fearful of hanging around me. So…I was kind of looking for some kind of “Marketing Slogan” that I could repeat to others to make them feel safe. Here is what I came up with. “I can’t give it, and I can’t get”…at least for a while. I also tacked on “I’m probably the safest person to be around right now.” A few of you reading this might have actually heard those words, although there are only about 4 people who fall into that category.


Here is the problem with my marketing slogan. Some of it is based on the latest scientific data, and part of it is at best, an overconfident guess that science just doesn’t have an answer for yet.


As far as getting Covid again, scientific data is showing that the large majority of people with mild to medium cases of Covid, produce antibodies that are protective. All of the best data says that you have these antibodies for about 60 days. There is some data that suggests the antibodies may start decreasing between 60-90 days. So…during that time period, I’m pretty protected from getting Covid a second time. My body has what it needs to fight it off if I was exposed to it. Of course there are always exceptions, but the overwhelming majority of cases develop protective antibodies. That is good news for Sheri and I as we don’t want to have to go through that again!


Now here is the challenging part that we don’t have a lot of scientific data for yet. “Can I pass Covid to someone else?” Well, on one hand, if you don’t have Covid, you can’t pass it. On another hand, what if I did get exposed to Covid again? Well, technically Covid could enter into my body, and my body would fight it off. That’s good news for me, but what if I’m carrying Covid again for any amount of time? It seems to me, that if it’s in my body, I could potentially pass it to someone without knowing it. That is a very sobering thought! Science just does not have the appropriate amount of data to address this point yet, so taking a conservative approach seems the best path forward.


Another piece of good news for those who have had Covid, is that even when the antibodies decrease, we all still have these little fighter cells called B and T cells that have good memory. We have some killer T cells that know how to attack this virus, therefore offering another level of protection. Perhaps a future Covid case in me would be less severe. While that is a good thought, B and T cell protection can vary with people so we don’t really know how protected we are. Again, a conservative path forward seems best.


So…what does that mean for my behaviors? First, I’m dropping the marketing slogan of “I can’t get it or give it.” That is just a bad idea! Second, I’m not going to walk around being overconfident. I will not stop wearing masks, social distancing, washing my hands, or sanitizing. I’m going to KEEP doing these things. Why you might ask? Because I care about you…even if I don’t know you…and especially if I do know you! The last thing I want to do is get overconfident, be exposed again to Covid, and accidentally  pass it along without knowing it, especially if I am asymptomatic! 

Sheri and I will keep our circles tight. We’ll keep wearing masks and social distancing because we care about others! It’s just too easy of a thing to do.


We personally can’t wait to get vaccinated ASAP! I’m seeing a lot of people saying they are not going to get vaccinated. That is your choice, but for us, we want to put this virus in the rear view mirror, just like Polio, the Measles, and Yellow Fever. After we get our vaccine, we’ll be able to get back to normal! 


I miss smiles that are hidden behind masks! I miss hugs! I miss shaking hands and high fives! I miss it all. The one thing I hope we all can commit to is being good finishers! We’ve only got a few months left until we all have the option of getting vaccinated. Let’s continue to wear our masks, socially distance, wash our hands, and sanitize often. Do it because you care about others! When I see you wearing a mask, you tell me that you care about me, even if you don’t know me. That’s what I want to do for you! 


One more thing, if you wear a mask, please cover your nose and mouth, and wash those masks often! The purpose is so you keep your breath to yourself. Don’t be selfish, be selfless! Life always works out better that way! And when it comes to being selfless or selfish, ask yourself the question…”How’s that working out for you?”


Let’s be safe out there! Bring on the vaccines!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

My Journey With COVID 19

My journey with Covid was a rough one. Both my wife Sheri and I went through it. What I want to do in this writing is to give anyone who reads it a little glimpse into our Covid journey. I will share our symptoms, timelines, and juggling match of emotions as we battled through Covid.

My journey started with a trip to Africa to celebrate bringing border to border, basic clean water access to the entire country of Liberia. That trip was awesome! We made it to the finish line!


Before we left, both Sheri and I had to test Negative for Covid in order to even get on an International Flight. Liberia required a negative test within 72 hours before entering the country. Both Sheri and I had our nasal swab test and tested negative. We were cleared to go and brought our lab certifications with us on the trip.


On the trip, we were very careful wearing a mask, social distancing, and using sanitizer. We were traveling with a team of 14 people and all of them had tested negative so we all assumed we were in the clear. I hope you keep reading because I’m going to give you some information that may cause you to stir up a little healthy dose of fear inside of you.


The 8 day trip went well, and we all got on our flight from Liberia to Brussels, Belgium, then to Washington Dulles, and then to San Diego. Sheri and I were able to use points to upgrade our flights to business class. We wanted to do this as we’d be even more spaced out on the plane, plus we’d be able to rest well each way.


We got home on Saturday, November 14th. On Sunday, we went back and got another Covid test. The test turned up Negative. We felt like we had accomplished our objective and were safely in the clear. On Monday, Sheri and I went to lunch with my dad and her mom. We felt very empowered after having had a negative Covid test the day before. We all wore our masks in the car as we traveled, and had lunch at a little outdoor diner. During lunch, we took our masks off to eat. We thought “all was good.” We traveled back home with our masks on in the car.


Tuesday and Wednesday went by. We were busy doing laundry, taking our luggage and travel items back to our storage, grocery shopping etc. We did not see our parents Tuesday and Wednesday. We thought all was good.


And then it happened. I didn’t feel quite right on Wednesday night. By Thursday morning November 19th, I’d developed a mild fever and chills. I also had a tiny cough. I decided to get another Covid test. Keep in mind that these tests were costing about $150 a pop.


I went to a local lab that offered a variety of Covid tests. Based on my mild symptoms, the lab tech directed me towards a finger prick test, that was kind of like a pregnancy test. They pricked my finger, stuck it into a little plastic test strip, then after 15 minutes, a line would appear if I tested Positive. The lab said they would call me in 30 minutes with a result.


After 1 hour and a half hours, I still had not heard from the lab so I called them. The lab tech said that he had called in a second opinion. They both said they “thought” they could see a very slight line. They couldn’t be sure, but due to their vagueness, they had to mark my test “positive.” Well…that was not good enough for me. The lab tech said that I should come back in and get the “gold standard” nasal swab test. He gave me a little discount on this test. They would rush the results for me and I would have them in 24 hours. I did get that test, and 24 hours later, I had my results…POSITIVE for Covid!


Many thoughts went through my head. “When did I get the virus?” Later that day, I would get some information that was stunning. One other person on our Africa team had tested positive. Note that I did not find out my results until Friday. This person seemed like they were a day ahead of me. They do not live in California, but we were on the same flights from Liberia to Brussels, and from Brussels to Washington DC. From there we parted company. With contact tracing, the best we can tell is that we caught the virus on one of those flights, or at an airport on a layover. 


Because we all thought the team was in the clear, we did not wear our masks around the team members while we sat at the Starbucks in the airport. Now here is the crazy part. Only myself and this other person, were the only ones who actually ended up getting Covid. I then passed it to Sheri. Nobody in Liberia got it, nor did the other 11 team members, and neither my dad or mother-in-law got it. Keep in mind that our team members were all on the same flights back to Washington DC.


On Thursday, November 19th, I began counting the days to try to get to 10 days after I first showed symptoms. The rules from the Doctor and CDC (both of who interviewed us) was that we would not be contagious after 10 days from when we first showed symptoms, plus 24 hours of NO fever without using any fever reducers like Tylenol. These 10 days would bring a roller coaster of emotions and sickness!


Our family and a small group of people knew of our sickness. We decided to keep everything off Facebook. We’re glad we did that because it was hard keeping up with the questions from the few people that did know we were sick. We just felt terrible during our sick days! Keep in mind that we’re staying in a 200 square foot studio apartment, so Sheri and I had no place to escape. We have a bed in the main room, a small kitchenette, and a small bathroom. That’s it. It was inevitable that Sheri would catch this virus. That broke my heart! She was about 1 day behind me with all the symptoms I’m going to write about.


Here is GIANT lesson #1. A negative covid test means that on the day you got the results, you did not have enough virus replicated in your system to test positive YET. That DOES NOT mean that the virus is not in you!I tested negative on Sunday, the day I got back from Africa. I had to have been exposed to the virus between Friday and Saturday when traveling back to the USA. I was carrying the virus, even though I did not have any symptoms! That is a very scary, humbling thought! By the grace of God, neither of our parents got Covid.  By the grace of God, Sheri and I did not go on a planned retreat Monday through Thursday, where we most certainly would have created a super spreader event! The better part of wisdom said “don’t go on the retreat.” Thank God (literally) we listened!


Here’s the deal. Let me say it again…just because you test “Negative” for Covid on one day, that doesn’t mean you don’t still carry the Covid virus. It can take 2-14 days sometimes to manifest itself. We tested “Negative” on Sunday, but positive on Thursday! Don’t miss this point.  You could feel fine right now, but totally be not only carrying the Covid virus, but could totally pass it onto someone else! Sheri and I were lucky. Others we know were not so lucky. They unknowingly passed it to loved ones. Your worst nightmare is passing Covid onto someone else, especially someone you love!


Lesson #2. Wearing a mask tells others that you care about them!
 You are trying to keep your breath vapors from infecting other people. The challenge for all of us is that when we don’t feel any symptoms, we don’t think we can pass Covid onto anyone else. That makes us feel like “masks are dumb and not necessary.” The reality is that I had at least 3 days of the ability to infect others between my negative Covid test on Sunday, and my symptoms showing up on Thursday. Fortunately, our schedules “accidentally” had us on quarantine and we did not infect anyone. Again, this was not by intentional design on our part.  We lucked out! I would have been inclined to read too much into a negative covid test and go on an infecting spree without knowing it! Testing negative can definitely bring false security!


What did our days look like going through Covid? Many of you who read this won’t have known anyone with Covid, though that is getting more rare. I did have many people with lots of questions and they told me that I was the first real person they knew who actually got Covid. I’ll do my best to paint the picture for you of our days. Keep in mind that we ended up having a mild to medium version of Covid. We never had to go to the hospital, although we were pretty stressed with the fear of the unknown. Every day we asked ourselves, “will this be the day we have to go to Urgent Care or the Hospital?” We just didn’t know.


Thursday morning, November 19th. I woke up with tingly skin…chills. I had a mild temperature of 99.1 and a little cough. My temp would peak at 99.6 that day. Tylenol knocked down the chills and temperature. I took my Covid test this day.


Friday my chills continued. I got my Positive Covid results. Tylenol continued to bring relief of the chills. Saturday and Sunday continued with mild chills and a mild temperature. On Sunday night, I began to cough more productively which was kind of gross. I could feel Covid starting to affect my lungs more. My cough started getting worse. I knew that Covid could really attack the lungs so I was getting a little concerned. My temperature approached 100 degrees on Sunday.


Monday and Tuesday, I continued with the same pattern, mild chills, a temperature approaching 100 degrees, and a worsening cough.


Wednesday night my fever spiked to 101 and I woke up in the night totally soaked with sweat! I had to change my clothes and put a towel on the sheets. It was gross. I ended up having to change my shirt one more time that night as I was just sweating like crazy. I thought when I woke up the next day that maybe my fever would be totally gone. That was not the case as I hovered at 100 degrees, still had chills, and my cough was worse. 


By Thursday, Thanksgiving day, I still have fever, chills and cough. My lungs were starting to feel like they were soaking in paste. I could take short breaths, but deep breaths threw me in to coughing spasms. Fortunately, I had an inhaler which brought me some temporary relief of the coughing spasms. I don’t know what I would have done if I wouldn’t have had my inhaler. I’m sure I would have had to go to Urgent Care. On Thursday night, I had a bout of diarrhea which was a new symptom. That was my only time with diarrhea.


Friday my fever spiked to 101, I had chills and my cough was still productive.


I should say that this was the moment when the fear of the unknown started to really kick in! Would this be the day that I’d have to go to Urgent Care? Friday night, I was up all night coughing! It was frustrating and a bit concerning.


Saturday, November 26th, more of the same. Fever, chills, coughing.

Sunday I woke up with no fever, but still had a cough. I had no chills, and my fever stayed in the normal range. Sunday was day 10 since I first had symptoms of Covid. I was 24 hours without a fever! Could this be the end?


Monday I still had a cough, but no more fever or chills. It was on this day that my doctor said I was officially “non-contagious!” I felt so good about this idea, but because my cough was still around, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. I decided I’d wait a few more days before I would un-quarantine myself, just to make sure I couldn’t get our parents sick! 


After a few days, I ventured out to Walmart, and then took a rest. We were out of clothes so I gathered my strength and went to the Laundromat and washed 4 loads of clothes. That just about did me in! I was super gassed out after that day! Even though I wasn’t contagious, my lungs had taken a beating!


As I write this, it is Sunday night, December 6th. It’s been a week since my doctor gave me clearance as non-contagious. Sheri and I went to church today. We distanced ourselves from everyone, even though we were safe. For a period of time, we can’t give Covid to anyone, and we can’t get it. We have antibodies that protect us. We will continue to treat this concept conservatively.


So what did I learn from all of this? Well…refer back to the big lessons learned section. I wish that everyone would totally comprehend these lessons and embrace a life of selflessness and wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, and sanitize. Remember that when you wear a mask, you keep your breath to yourself, and you will dramatically decrease the odds of passing Covid onto someone else. Also remember that even though you don’t feel symptoms that you could very well be carrying Covid! Please don’t minimize this fact! 


Even though I am the safest person to hang out with now, I will continue to wear a mask for you. I will wear a mask for everyone in the grocery store, not because they are making me wear one, but because I care about you. I will keep my circle small because when I come in contact with those outside my tight circle, I inherit their habits, which are not always good. I simply don’t know how everyone else behaves when I don’t see them. And…I personally know lots of people who are simply Covid fatigued! They don’t buy the mask thing, think that Covid is some political weapon and is not real. Let me be clear on this one, I do believe that Covid was unfortunately politicized this year. But the reality is…Covid is REAL, it sucks, and it is killing people! It all feels really distant until you get it, or someone you love gets it. That’s when our “super human” “you can’t tell me what to do” attitude, all crumbles to pieces.


My prayer for all two people who read this…is that you will be selfless and wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands regularly, and sanitize. If you do, we’ll knock this disease back down.


I am 100% going to get a vaccine as soon as it’s possible! I hope you all will do it so that just like polio, the measles, and yellow fever, we can put this virus to rest for good!


Thank you God for the blessing of healing! I promise that this will be my most grateful Christmas ever! I’m thankful to celebrate God’s love for the world, that he sent his son Jesus to be the Savior of the world! I need a Savior and am so glad to have one! Stay safe out there! Love God, and love others! Make this a selfless Christmas season!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Disruption - Time To Choose

If there is one thing we are learning from daily disruption, it is this...every day brings new information, challenges, and the opportunity to choose how we will respond.

Long lines and bare shelves at the grocery store can test our patience, stoke fears of not having enough, and even create jealousy and resentment towards those who beat us to the toilet paper. They also have sparked playful, casual conversations in grocery lines that we might never have ever had before. Most people are talking and joking in line with complete strangers! That is actually a breath of fresh air for me.

Self quarantining and social distancing can create a serious social void for extroverts, while introverts may not notice much change and actually enjoy the excuse of being quiet without the fear of judgement. The rule followers like me can be filled with bitterness towards those who are not following the government guidelines of social distancing.
Those who lean towards the rule breaking side may feel like their freedom of choice is slipping away, and become resentful that the simple things of life...a pick up volleyball game or a spike ball game on the beach, might now lead to a misdemeanor or fine for breaking social distancing regulations. There is tension for sure, but we all still have choices to make.

Two of my favorite outdoor escapes have been trail hiking, and biking on the San Diego beach boardwalks. Yesterday, those pleasures were temporarily removed as options in San Diego. When I heard the news, I was bummed and had a whole new set of choices to make. Would I rebel and hike anyway, risking a misdemeanor citation and a possible $1000 fine, or would I let the disruption bring out the best in my creativity, let selflessness prevail for the greater good, appreciate those who are trying to make our communities safe, and come up with another way to exercise while adhering to the new social distancing regulations imposed by the city of San Diego? Another way to look at it is, will I choose the low road of rebellion, or take the high road towards thriving, even when the high road is many times, the road less traveled.

We all have choices to make when we are disrupted. What if we all used disruption as a catalyst to bring out the best in our creativity, selflessness, and love for each other? Give it a try today. Let’s purposely replace the dark clouds of fear and bitterness with the bright light of selfless love that unites us and brings hope to the world! Take the high road. The high road always pays off!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Quality Time Vs. Goals

With the Covid 19 outbreak, all of our lives have been disrupted, but in the midst of it, I’m reminded of some important timeless lessons. I like to set goals and achieve them, learning a new skill, hitting a new fitness level, reading new books, being less selfish, being more encouraging with my words, spending more time with family. We all have goals like this.

One of my recent goals has been to get myself in backpacking/hiking shape for a trip to the Colombian Andes in May. Turns out, I have a little more time to prepare due to Covid 19. The trip is postponed until the Fall. I’m still trying to keep the rhythm of strength and cardio improvement, especially taxing my legs.

On two recent hikes to Mount Woodson, I was reminded of an important life lesson. Quality time beats personal goals every time. Let me explain.

Hike number one to Mount Woodson was with my two grandkids and niece. A normal up and back hike would take somewhere around 3-4 hours from Poway lake. That hike ended up taking over 6 hours with a lot of stops along the way. Matter of fact, I felt myself constantly trying to distract the kids with games, encouragement, even bribing them with after-hike ice cream, just to have a shot of making it up the hill. To my amazement, they made the entire trip up and back! That is no joke for the short legs of a 6 year old! I still got a little workout, but no personal records were set that day.

Hike number two was by myself. I cranked up the mountain with minimal stops along the way to hydrate. I couldn’t actually believe how much faster that hike could go. I got a better workout, but I couldn’t help but remember every turn along the way and the fresh memories of each stop with my grandkids and niece...all the laughing...all the made up games...all the complaining...bathroom breaks in the bushes...”are we there yet?”...”I’m hungry”...”can we go home?” grandson running ahead of the pack, just to jump out of the bushes to scare the girls. You get the picture.

My big takeaway...the quality time I spent with my grandkids and niece was WAY BETTER than me reaching some kind of goal on a solo hike! I’ll probably never forget the day with the kids! Sure it was more emotionally exhausting, but how many more days like that will I actually get before they are all grown up? Sometimes I feel like I’m going to blink and they’ll all be in college!

In these days of self quarantine, there will be many days when the kids may tax our emotional capacity. I say, bring on those days of creativity, new adventures, outdoor hikes, indoor board games and crafts. Try new things. Revisit old ideas like a monopoly game. Take the guidelines of Covid 19 seriously, but let those guidelines bring out the best in us in creativity, love, and grace.

We have been given a gift of quality time right now. For some of us we’ll easily embrace it, and for others, nothing could be worse. If we’ll fill our days with a purpose to love, forgive, go the extra mile, and serve, maybe, just maybe some of our best life moments will surface.

Enjoy each other while you encourage faith, hope, and love! Remember that the greatest of these is love. If you do this, we’ll be just fine, maybe better than ever!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Stir Crazy? How to get out of the house during Covid 19

Along with water filter questions during the Covid 19 situation, I've been getting a lot of questions about insect repellents. Why you might ask? Well it turns out that outdoor hiking is a great way to be out of the house while still being diligent with social distancing practices.

We live in a country with many beautiful places to discover. I live in San Diego which is loaded with great hiking options! Not only can you burn off some energy and get a great workout, but you can see some great wildlife like White Pelicans, Egrets, and other birds.

There is a common annoyance with Spring and Summer outdoor recreation activities...BUGS!... namely mosquitos, ticks, and other flying insects. The good news is, you can be outdoors with confidence if you'll protect yourself with the best repellents on the market.

If you ask a fisherman or backpacker, they all know about Sawyer Products. There is a reason why Sawyer has the biggest outdoor store on Amazon. At Sawyer...we keep you outdoors!

Let me tell you about 2 of the most popular Sawyer insect repellents, one you spray on your clothes, and the other you put on your skin.

First, many people are surprised when they learn about Sawyer Permethrin, an insect repellent you spray on your clothes for 6 weeks or 6 washes of protection. Permethrin works with molecules that adhere to the fabric of your clothes. It's safe for humans, but bugs hate it!

I travel to all kinds of tropical, mosquito impacted places around the world. Permethrin is the X Factor! I spray all my clothes (shirts, pants, socks) and gear for 42 days of protection! You can even spray your outdoor patio furniture to form an insect barrier. When you hear about mosquito nets being treated with insect a repellent, that is Permethrin! Mosquitos and flying insects do not like this at all!

One thing that is becoming more dangerous these days is Ticks! Ticks carry so many diseases and those diseases are a real bummer! They can cause all kinds of health issues. Two of my friends suffer from auto-immune diseases cause by Ticks.

The good news is, Sawyer Permethrin repels Ticks very well. Ticks hate Permethrin!

Keep yourself safe outdoors by treating your clothes and gear with Permethrin!

Now for your skin. Sawyer Picaridin is a non-DEET formula that is just as effective as DEET at repelling mosquitos, flies, and Ticks. It is gentle on your skin and safe for your kids. The lotion gives you up to 14 hours of protection on your skin, while the spray gives up to 12 hours of protection on your skin.

When I travel, I always spray my clothes with Permethrin, and use Picaridin on my skin. Sawyer sells many sizes of these repellents on Amazon. You can also buy these items at REI and other sporting goods stores, but with Covid 19, Amazon is your best source.

So don't go stir crazy, get the kids outdoors and on the hiking trail!

Here are links to Sawyer Permethrin and Picaridin on Amazon.

Sawyer Permethrin - treats 8 garments - 6 weeks or 6 washes of protection

Sawyer Picaridin Lotion - 14 hours of skin protection

Sawyer Picaridin Spray - 12 hours of skin protection

Sawyer Safe: Water Filter Guide

With the spread of Covid 19, I am getting a lot of questions about water filters. I'm also getting questions about insect repellents as families are already anticipating going stir crazy, but still wanting to abide by current social distancing practices. Turns out, hiking is a great way to get out of the house and still keep social distancing as a priority! I'll cover water filters in this post, and repellents in my next post.

First let me say that Covid 19 has nothing to do with clean water or insects. That said, people have more of an emergency preparedness mindset right now which is always a good thing. I'm not talking about overly hoarding supplies, but I am suggesting that there are a few basic things everyone should have on hand like a good water filter. When I say good, why not go with the best?

You should know that not all water filters are created equal. Just because they look similar on the outside, the Sawyer filter is the only filter on the market that can guarantee that you won't get sick from biological contaminates like E-Coli. I'm not just saying that because I work for Sawyer, I'm saying it because I've seen the test results of all of the major brands of water filters that were observed under a microscope. There is a difference! Sawyer filters are 75% more robust in their filter walls, allowing for aggressive back wash cleaning. Other brands use thinner walled filters that will not withstand aggressive back wash cleaning. Some filters do not allow for any type of cleaning.

All Sawyer water filters are certified tested 3X before they come off the assembly line. Every Sawyer filter that makes it into a package has been thoroughly tested for best-in-class removal of harmful bacteria. That is a big deal!

So which Sawyer filter should I consider buying?
First of all, every Sawyer filter model removes 99.9999% of all harmful bacteria from any fresh water  source. Sawyer sells a Small (Sawyer Mini), Medium (Sawyer Micro Squeeze), and Large version (Sawyer Squeeze) of their filter. The flow rate of the Micro Squeeze and Squeeze filters are slightly more than the mini, but you may not notice that much.

All Sawyer filters can be attached to a standard 2 liter plastic bottle (Coke, Pepsi), or a standard personal size water bottle (SMART water, Agua Fina, Dansani etc). There are many Sawyer accessories you can use to attach a filter to a squeeze pouch, 1 or 2 gallon bladder, hydration bladders, or kitchen taps.

Here are 3 models you can choose from on Amazon. Note, Amazon has temporarily sold out of most Sawyer filters, but more are on the way as I write this! The Sawyer factory is cranking out filters like crazy right now, hiring extra temp staff to meet the needs! Be patient (a week or so) and wait for the Sawyer if you want the best!

Sawyer Mini filter (Small)

Sawyer Micro Squeeze (2 pack) (Medium)

Squeeze filter (Large)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

No Substitute - Get Out And Hike - Hiking Post #3

As I prepare for my trek in the Colombian Andes mountains in May, I’m trying to figure out gear, food, safety, and fitness. There is one thing that everyone’s been telling me...”Get out and hike!”

I’ve been pretty disciplined when it comes to weight lifting and riding my bike for cardio, but I needed to get on the trail and try out some local hikes. Good thing I listened! I have a whole set of sore muscles that I didn’t even know existed! I’m finding out that 58 years old is not the same as 30, or even 40 for that matter. I may not be able to roll back the clock, but I’m determined to push myself with a set of goals that helps me keep up with the youngsters!

This past week I hiked Mount Woodson trail to Potato Chip rock with a twist...I hiked it with my 12 year old grandson, 10 year old granddaughter, and my 6 year old niece! This is a 7.6 mile up and back hike with a 2,000 foot climb. I knew I could do it, but wasn’t sure about the rest of the hiking party.

Making a memory with my grandson!
We got about 1/4 of the way up the hill, well past the last Port-a-potties, and mother nature was calling the littlest one in the pack. Well, let’s just say she conquered that fear with flying colors and got a whole new burst of energy...enough to make it to the top at Potato Chip Rock! I was SO PROUD of these guys! That was no joke of a hike for a 6 year old! I think my grandson could have kept going for days!

On Saturday, I went with a pack of my adult friends to Mount Wilson trail in Angeles National Forest. I was a little nervous about this one as there is a 5640 foot ascent up a 7 1/2 mile trail. When I first started, I could feel my heart pumping. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep the pace with these guys as they had way more hiking experience than I did. But off we went! Even though it was cool outside and overcast, I could feel myself getting drenched with sweat. Good thing I brought lots of water!

After we had hiked about a mile, we took our first short break. I had all kinds of thoughts going through my head. What did the rest of the trail look like? Was it going to be one giant staircase to the top, or would we ever get a little bit of a flat section? What if I got so tired that I would lose my footing and fall off a cliff? There were a few sections where that could have happened. I just kept saying to myself, “just keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay focused.”

We finally made it to the top. My feet and body were sore, but the feeling of making it to the top was great! Once at the top, the cold weather started to set in. Hail was coming down and the wind was blowing. My shirt was soaked, and I quickly reached into my backpack to pull out my puffer jacket and rain jacket so I could get warm. I underestimated the weather at the top of the mountain. I wish I would have brought gloves and a beanie. Next time I’ll remember.

Sometimes you can’t learn things until you actually do them. You can read about needing to go on a hike to build up your endurance, but you can’t really understand walking on uneven dirt and rocks until you do it! You can read about doing lunges to build strength in your legs, or running to build up your cardio, but getting on the trail gives you the real picture of how strong your legs are, and how good your cardio is. After hiking with my buddies, I knew I was making progress, but I had a long way to go before I could trek the Andes mountains.

In the end, it was a good couple of hikes, but my friends were more fit than I was at this point in time. They were gracious with my pace, but I’m determined to keep improving my fitness and my hiking! My goal now is to be able to run up those trails, which means I’d better add a bunch of trail runs into my fitness. Time to put in the work!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Backpacking Starting from ZERO - Fitness First - Post #2

How does a person get ready for a major backpacking trip in the Andes mountains starting from basically ZERO knowledge or gear? Fortunately, I work for Sawyer, and we have several employees that know a thing or two about backpacking.

I had a few hurdles to overcome. The first one was, how do I get myself fit for backpacking? I try to stay in decent shape by lifting weights a few times a week (skipped a few leg days here and there) and riding my bike up hills for cardio. From everything I was hearing, your core needs to be solid, but your legs are what carry you so you have to get your legs ready. The first piece of advice I received was to do lots of walking lunges. Did I say that in the past...I HATED LUNGING! I needed a goal or I would never make it.

I’ve always been a goal setter when it comes to fitness. I like a challenge, I always like a fitness program catered towards my goals, and I always monitor and evaluate my fitness. When I was in my 30’s, I had the opportunity to create a fitness program designed by a trainer who trained several of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Cardinals. That guy changed my fitness future. It was a scientific method that included resistance training, cardio, and diet.

I track everything with a Fitness app. By doing this, it helps me to meet and exceed my goals, especially on days when I really don’t feel like working out, and everyone has those days. If I track my weight training, I know where to set the weight and reps and I make sure I don’t cheat. If I did not track my program, I know I would cheat and not work out as hard.

Adding lunges to my fitness routine became somewhat of a distance challenge for me. I’d lunge as many times in a row as I could, and then do as many sets as it took me to go a certain distance. We live near a green belt that is about 1/4 mile long with a paved path in the middle. Goal number one was to lunge 1/4 of a mile. My first day, I made it about 1/3 of the way doing multiple sets. The next big lunge day I pushed it to 2/3’s of the way, and on my 3rd day, I actually hit the 1/4 mile mark. I was surprised at how quick my legs responded. I got a little sore along the way, but it was a good kind of sore. Now I’m working on getting to 1/2 mile and I’m getting close.

I can feel my legs getting stronger in everything I’m doing, including hiking, and even on my last trip to Israel where we walked a lot each day.

The other fitness piece of advice was to get out there and hike and walk for distance and with elevation gains. People told me that there was no substitute for actual walking and hiking. Those require different muscles than I normally use. They were right! My first hike up Cowles mountain showed me that I could do it, but I definitely felt different muscles hurting afterwards.

On my first few hikes I only carried my water. Everyone was telling me that I needed to add weight and actually practice carrying a loaded backpack. Well that sounds great, but my biggest problem was that I did not have any gear yet. How would I accumulate the gear I need? How will I know what to buy? Isn’t this stuff expensive? How do I best prepare? In my next post, we’ll look at the gear journey, but there’s really a helpful way to learn about backpacking when you are starting out, and I’m going to let you in on the secret!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

My Backpacking Trip to the Colombian Andes from A to Z - Post #1

The Colombian Andes...Google it and you will find some of the most beautiful outdoor adventures in the world. The thought of backpacking for several days in the Andes mountains sounds amazing, but also a little intimidating, especially since I have ZERO backpacking experience! Until now, I wouldn’t even call myself an avid hiker. I had not hiked even one of the San Diego trails until recently!

In this series of posts, I’m going to take you on my journey from ZERO experience on the trail, to an actual backpacking adventure in the Colombian Andes with Backpacker Magazine. Here’s the deal...I’m not sure how this whole thing is going to turn out.

So how in the world did a backpacking trip to the Andes even come up? Well, it started at last years Outdoor Retailer Convention in Denver. This is the ultimate outdoor conference with every outdoor company you’ve ever heard of, and hundreds you’ve never heard of. I was a kid in a candy store. I was in the Sawyer Products booth talking with different people along the way, sharing some of our great clean water stories around the world, and somewhere in the mix was a crew from Backpacker Magazine. 

Backpacker Magazine often features Sawyer gear like Insect Repellents and Water Filters in their articles, but the idea of doing a feature article on Sawyer’s philanthropic clean water work around the world became a topic of exploration. The question came up of where we could go around the world where we could participate in Sawyer’s clean water mission to change the world, and combine that with a backpacking adventure in a place where backpackers would want to go?

After a few phone calls we all decided that a trip with our great NGO (non-profit) partner Waves for Water, would allow us a clean water adventure in Colombia, and provide an awesome backpacking experience in the Northern Andes mountain range.

All of this sounds amazing, except that little detail of “I’m a total novice at backpacking starting from ground ZERO!“

Follow me on this series of posts and I’ll take you through my discovery, learning, failures, and wins on my way to this amazing adventure in the Andes! We’ll talk gear, fitness, prep, meal planning, water, and more! Then you can follow me live on the trail in May!