What Goes in a First Aid Kit?

What Goes in a First Aid Kit?  (10 Essentials #4)



Taking care of yourself on the trail is paramount and often it is the little things that you carry that make the most difference. That is why another essential item in any Dames pack is a good first aid kit.  It doesn’t need to be huge, but there are a few things that it must have.

Think about it….when you go about your daily life exercising, going to the grocery store, or playing with your kids, what are your most basic first aid needs?  Hiking on a trail is not much different from regular life and most of your first aid needs will come in the form of scrapes, bruises, small cuts and bug bites.  For these, you will want to carry a nice little assortment of band-aids, some first aid ointment and a pain reliever of some type.  It won’t require a degree in medicine to throw together a few of these in a plastic baggie, and you will have taken care of the first part of putting together your first aid kit.

The biggest difference between everyday first aid kits and hiking first aid kits has to do with blister treatment and prevention.  Taking care of your feet on a hiking trail is the most important thing you can do, in my opinion.  Trust me,  you are going to need your feet to get you back home!  So for blister treatment, the first item you need is a big dollop of common sense.  Don’t go out for a five mile hike in brand new boots.  And when you feel a blister starting to form,  commonly known as a ‘hot spot’, stop and take care of it. Right away.  I will admit to several times when I knew a blister was coming on and figured that I would just gut it out until I got back to the car.  Those were pretty unpleasant hikes.

Most books will tell you to carry and use moleskin for blister-prone areas.  I personally haven’t had a great deal of luck with it, though.  I carry duct tape and am a huge believer in it!  Using duct tape on your heels and anywhere else that socks and shoes are rubbing creates a surface in which the friction is removed from your skin.  Trust me, it works like a charm.  This is a commonly used item in backpacking and hiking circles, and alas, was not my idea.  But to whoever came up with the notion, I am eternally grateful! Just wrap a five foot piece around a small golf pencil and throw it into your kit.  If you are prone to blisters, consider applying duct tape to the needed areas before you go out on a hike.

Note: If you have a blister that has broken open, cover it with a bandage before you apply duct tape to the area.  The glue in duct tape is not good for open wounds at all!

Some other helpful items in a first aid kit are Benadryl for allergic reactions, alarge triangular bandage for wrapping up sprains, and a small pamphlet on wilderness first aid.  There are lots of websites out there that can make suggestions for items to go in your first aid kit.  One of my favorites is http://www.ehow.com/how_9058_make-outdoor-first.html

The main thing is to create a kit that works for you.

Some final thoughts on first aid, make sure that if you take prescription medicine that you bring a little with you and if you have any special medical needs, communicate those to the friends that you have hiking with you.

The most important thing you can do is to take a wilderness first aid class, complete with CPR training.  This is the kind of thing that can go a long way towards making you not only a safe hiker, but a safe hiking partner.  Last but not least, remember to never dispense medicine to someone other than yourself.    I am not a doctor!  These things work for me but I encourage you to ask your doctor about their recommendation for your personal first aid kit.

What do you keep in your first aid kit? Click the comment link below and let us know…

Anna aka Mud Butt



Moss Grows On The North Side of Trees, Right?

Moss Grows On The North Side of Trees, Right? (10 Essentials #3)

Kennsaw Mountain March 2008 014

Number 3 on our list of Essential Dame Necessities is a map and compass.  Now, I will be the first person to tell you that a compass will be fairly useless if you don’t know how to use it. I have added compass to this list because any list of important items to take into the woods should include it.  However, most people don’t have the foggiest idea of how to use one.  And unless you have a topographical map and know how to use that, all of it is wasted weight in your pack.  So, the next time you notice a parks and recreation class on orienteering or map and compass use, I would highly suggest you take it.  I have taken several and they are a lot of fun!  You will meet other people that love the outdoors and you will feel so prepared and self-reliant the next time you hit the trail.

Before you take that class, though…..what should you carry?  Our assumption here at Trail Dames is that you are not doing cross-country hiking.  Or that you are not striking off trail through the underbrush.  For anything like that, you absolutely must have map and compass skills.  But for the well-marked trails we take, be it a simple loop at a local park or a four mile ‘in and out’ hike on the Appalachian Trail, I suggest that you head to the internet.  Every hike I have ever been on has had a description on-line somewhere. There are several websites that list hikes and include maps and details, and I highly recommend spending some time getting to know them.

My personal favorite here in Georgiais www.georgiatrails.com.  These are the same people that do that fantastic book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta.  They have listed tons of trails and each has a complete description and directions how to get there.  For any of these hikes, you should print out all of the details and carry them in your backpack. Something as simple as a notation of a road crossing can help you keep your bearings when you are on a new trail.  In addition, I would print up every description of the trail that you can find on other sites as well and throw them all in a little plastic bag to keep in your pack.

Finally, before you go on a hike, write on the map and trail descriptions any emergency contact numbers you might need.  You should know what county you are in and the nearest towns as well as the phone numbers for emergency services in the area.

This brings up the question of personal safety.  We will explore these ideas in more detail later, but for now, ponder these questions…..

Should you carry a cell phone and should you hike alone?

As for the cell phone question, this has long been the point of a lot of contention in hiking circles.  No one wants to walk along a trail and hear someone else’s phone ring.  Or better yet, have to listen to your loud conversation!  However, I would strongly encourage you to carry your phone with you at all times.  There are lots of places that it will not work…..for instance, when you are down in gaps, or on the other side of the mountain.  However, if you get injured or lost, it would be stupid to not have the possibility of the help that a cell phone would provide.  Carry it and have the numbers that you could potentially need programmed in it.

As for hiking with someone, for the purposes of this blog and Trail Dames, I am going to say always take a friend.  Again, we will re-visit this topic later but for now, enjoy sharing the outdoors with someone that can laugh with you when you slip in the mud and revel with you in the beauty that you are walking through.

Do you know how to use a map and compass?  Click the comment link below and tell us your opinion……

Anna aka Mud Butt

What is that Growling?

What is that Growling? (10 Essentials #2)

PB150132  Have you ever been so hungry that you could eat a bear? An empty stomach is not only miserable but can really affect your performance on a hike.  That is why the next item on our list of  the Essential Dame Necessities is:


It is simple……throw some Power Bars in your day pack.  Or some Luna Bars, CliffBars, or any other sports bars.  The name brand doesn’t matter as long as they provide an easy form of nutrition.  I am a big believer in sports bars because they last a long time in your pack and don’t melt in the heat.  In the cold, however, they could put your fillings in jeopardy!  

Again, though…..it doesn’t matter so much what you carry as long as you carry something.

Have you ever heard of ‘bonking’?  Wikipedia defines bonking as, “hitting the wall”, and adds that “the “bonk” describes the condition that takes place when an athlete suddenly loses energy and becomes fatigued”.   For years I heard the term bandied around in professional sports and in regards to running marathons.  In all honesty, I did not think that it was a term that would ever apply to me.  I never considered myself to be an athlete by any stretch of the imagination.  And I also thought that since I carry so much extra weight, I had plenty of inner fuel to get me from point A to point B.  Boy was I wrong.

On my very first backpacking trip, I was so nervous and intimidated by the other women that were there, that I did not take care of myself at all.  I knew that I had bitten off much more than I could chew, (10 miles of giant climbs on the AT with a heavy pack and no experience?!), and I was so exhausted that not only did I not take many breaks, but when I did take a rest, I did not eat any snacks.  On top of that, I was so exhausted at meal times that I barely choked anything down.

By the evening of the second day, I could barely pick up my feet.  Three of us were night hiking, (because I was too slow to get to the shelter before the sun went downJ) and I truly hit a wall.  My friend LiteShoe took one look at me and poured a packet of Emergen-C down my throat.  After a few minutes, I felt well enough to keep going, but I learned an important lesson.   It wasn’t until later that I realized that my body had truly run out of fuel.  It didn’t matter that I was overweight, or that I didn’t think of myself as an athlete.

What I was doing was hard.  And it takes fuel to keep your body going.

With that having been said, I have since bonked several more times, but now I know what is going on with my body.  It happens if I am just not paying attention, and it happens all the time to women on our longer Trail Dames hikes.  They are all like me…..taken by surprise at the idea that we should be treating our bodies like athletes.  J Through trial and error, this is what we are all learning…..

1. Everyone is different.  Some people need to munch constantly when they are hiking, while others need to eat something every three hours.

2. Some people respond well to fresh fruit while others need nuts.

3. If we do run out of fuel and energy, it comes back pretty quickly once we eat something.

So if you are hiking along and all the sudden just don’t have any energy, you have bonked.  Having trouble picking up your feet?  Bonk.  And my personal favorite, walk three steps…stop….walk three steps…stop?  Big bonk.  J

Carry extra snacks and food and you will be fine in no time.  And remember, what you are doing is a sport and you are an athlete.

Have you ever bonked? Click the comment link below and tell me what you do to avoid it happening again.

Anna aka Mud Butt

What Comes First? (The Ten Essentials)

What Comes First? (The Ten Essentials #1)

Elachee Nature Ctr-East West Lake Trails 11-23-08-009

When it comes to the Essential Dame Necessities, the first thing you need is something to carry everything in.  A small day pack is ideal.  You don’t need anything fancy.  In fact, you can steal your kid’s school backpack for the day and it will work just fine.  You can even carry everything you need in a large fanny-pack or waist pack.  The only thing that I suggest is that you make sure that whatever you carry either goes around your waist or over both shoulders.  I have seen women show up for Trail Dames hikes with different shoulder bags and satchels.  They do work, but in the end are very uncomfortable.  There is nothing worse than having your shoulder bag sliding off of your shoulder every few steps.  That is a miserable way to spend three miles!

As you hike more and more, you might want to invest in a true day-pack.  They have extras that can make your hike more comfortable, like hip belts and pouches for a water bladder.  But for the time being, don’t let the lack of a fancy backpack keep you from getting out on the trail!!  I have several Dames that hike with poof-y, flower-dy backpack purses and they do just fine.  It is what is in them that matters!

In Trail Dames, we pay close attention to being prepared because it can not only make a difference in your survival, but in your enjoyment.  You want hiking to be as much fun as possible, so anything you can do to keep yourself comfortable is important.  So with that in mind, what should you carry in your backpack?  The next several blogs will list everything that you need, but let’s start with the basics.  These are NOT in order of importance.  You should carry all of them every time you step out of your car to do a little stroll in the woods.


Always carry a couple of water bottles and make sure that they are full.  I am sure that most of you know that you can survive for days without food, but you will not last long without water.  On a three mile walk on a well-marked path, the chances of you getting lost for a week and ending up in a true survival situation is very slim.  However, the chances of the hike taking longer than you think it will are excellent!  Nothing can ruin your experience faster than true discomfort.  And being hot and thirsty is truly uncomfortable.

Also, keep in mind that having extra water can often come in handy if your hiking friends run out.  Remember that part about hikers always helping each other out?  If your friend runs low, having enough to share will is an easy way to insure that you both have a great time on the trail.

Finally, consider investing in a portable means of purifying water.  This can be as simple as iodine tablets. My own personal favorite is the Aquamira drops.  You don’t need to carry a bulky water filter on your day hikes, but a small bag with tablets or drops is a smart way to stay prepared.

With all methods of water treatment you will find pros and cons.  The most important thing to do is pick one and use it.  The amount of critters in a beautiful, swift-moving stream would boggle your mind.  No matter how much it looks like a beer commercial from Colorado, don’t drink it without purifying it.

Stay tuned for more…………

Anna aka Mud Butt

What Exactly Is A Dame?


So, what exactly is a Dame?


The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a dame as a:

  1.   -woman of rank, station, or authority
  2.   – the mistress of a household
  3.   – the wife or daughter of a lord
  4.   -a female member of an order of knighthood
    and, my personal favorite……….
  5. -an elderly woman

I don’t know about you, but that is the driest, most boring definition I can imagine. Ok…so being a woman of authority…that works.  We are all daughters, and some Dames are wives.  Some are even, (gasp), elderly.  But that is where a dictionary dame and a true Dame….a Dame with a capitol “D”….part company.

When I hear the word ‘Dame’ I think of women with chutzpah, strength and attitude.

Gutsy women

Mae West was a Dame, as was Marlene Dietrich.  My all time favorite Dame is Jessica Tandy.  Jessica Tandy was in her 80’s when she skinny-dipped on screen in“Camilla”.  Only a true Dame would have done that!

And, Remember Whoopi Goldberg telling Reebok what they could do with their shoes on the David Letterman show?  Yep…she is definitely a Dame.  As a matter of fact, pretty much all of the View women are Dames!

These women are tough, beautiful, smart, loving, opinionated, brave, funny and talented.   Most of all, they are not afraid to let their Dame-ness shine out.  No hiding their lights under a bushel for these women.

So what about the other Dames out there?  Those that aren’t famous?  Let me tell you……Dames are everywhere!   When Trail Dames started up in 2007, Dames started crawling out of the woodwork.  They came from homes, jobs, suburbs and cities.  Some of them were 90 years old and some were only 20.  They truly were every shape and size, and came from every facet of society.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what would bind us all together.  There were some very disparate mind sets and I didn’t know if just being women was enough to provide a common ground for us all.

Throughout the last year, however, the deeper attributes of these women came out and through those, we found our connections.   You see, being a Dame isn’t just about being gutsy and strong.  It is also about being gentle and kind.  It is about letting your guard down and allowing the women around you to see your human-ness.  It is about feeling scared, but doing it anyway.

I see Dames on every hike we take.  A hiking trail will bring the Dame out in a woman faster than you can say ‘switchback’.  You can always hear belly laughter pealing out through the trees, and sometimes you can see the tears from an overwhelming week working their way to the surface.  You see Dames help each other up and over logs, and you see them give space to those needing some peace.

Yes, there are Dames everywhere.  And not a single one of them is represented by Merriam Webster.

What about you?  Who is your favorite Dame and why?  Click the comment button below and tell us about her……

Anna aka Mud Butt