Meet Pam Pole, aka "Brave Squirrel". Pam is the Point6 Customer Service Wizard and this summer she embarked on her first ever backpacking trip. We caught up with Pam to find out how it went, what she learned, and how she got the trail name "Brave Squirrel".
This was your first backpacking trip. What or who inspired you to plan your first trip?
I have wanted to do a thru hike since I read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed about 9 years ago. I was living in the suburbs of Chicago at the time and wondered if I would ever have the will, nerve and stamina to do something like that.
Where did you go?
Segment 13 of the Colorado Trail: Silver Creek to Chalk Creek Hiking Trail
For how long?
Two nights and three days
What was the hardest part to plan for?
The hardest part was planning which segments would have the most water for our first thru- hike and we thought hiking from a creek to a creek was a very good plan. The trickiest part is figuring out where to leave a car at the finish and how to get to the trailhead.
Was there any resource that helped you prepare?
I was fortunate my two trail buddies are teachers who research and prepare thoroughly for everything. One of them gave us handouts, books to read, and training schedules months before our adventure. We tested backpacks, food packets and water filter systems. We trained by hiking with weighted packs and hiking to the top of Gray’s a fourteener. We had a special backpacking packing lesson from a friend that has been backpacking since she was in junior high. I read Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency by Point6 Ambassador Heather Anderson and Katie Gerber. I felt very prepared for my first 2 night-3 day thru hike. Quite frankly it was probably overkill.
How was your first #2 in the woods?
I have a “shy” bladder for a #1 so a #2 was nearly impossible. Can’t even talk about it.
Funniest moment of the trip?
I have a few.... at one point I couldn’t lift my pack off the ground to get on my back at the trailhead start. My husband had to place it on my back before he wished me lots of luck and a kiss goodbye.
We couldn’t sleep at night so our teacher trail buddy read from her book Raceless by Georgina Lawton until we fell asleep.
We were playing cards one evening when a strange man showed up from the trail and asked if he could take a corner of our camp to set up his tent and share our campsite with us. We were unsure about trail etiquette so we said he could join us. He ended up being very nice although he hung his bear bag on a branch next to our tents, not his.
Trying to bestow a trail name on our hiking buddies. I was officially named Brave Squirrel at the end of our trip and now I own it.
How did you get the trail name "Brave Squirrel"?
My friends thought I acted like a squirrel always alert and looking around but just plain squirrel wasn’t enough. We had seen something online about trail names and it had to do with your name and birth month and that where “ brave” came in and they thought it was perfect for me. I got braver as the trip went on.
Most beautiful moment of the trip?
The amazing views and wildflowers at the top. We hiked at peak wildflower season.
What is the one item you wished you had brought?
I felt very prepared thanks to my friend who loaned me her equipment and shared her tips and tricks. One tip was to put wooden matches in an old pill container so they don’t break and always stay dry.
What is the one item you wished you left behind?
A spicy dinner that did not taste good the night I made it. I had to carry it out. It weighed way more on the way out than on the way in because of the added water weight.
What socks did you wear?
Was merino a part of your adventure and if so, how?
What is your best advice for newbie backpackers looking to do an overnight backpacking trip?
Read everything you can about thru- hiking, always drink and carry more water than you need and travel with two teachers.