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What I Carry on Day Hikes


Memorial Day weekend didn’t turn out like I expected. Originally, our friend Dee was going to come visit us at the ranch, but she decided to stay home because she wasn’t feeling well. I was sad that Dee couldn’t make it but happy she took care of herself. Self-care has to come first.

In reflection, everything worked out for the best. During the spring semester, Logan taught two courses at the College of the Siskiyous, and last week he administered final exams and had a lot of grading to complete over the weekend.

I decided to give Logan some space, so I drove to Red Bluff to visit my mom. She’d been feeling lonely, so the visit was great timing. We had wonderful talks, and on Saturday we drove to Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is about an hour from my mom’s home.

Before we left Red Bluff, I packed extra water, snacks, and other necessities for our day trip. I try to be prepared just in case something bad happens.

When I’m out hiking, I carry the following items in my daypack:

  • water bottle and MSR® Dromedary bag
  • snacks
  • long-sleeved merino wool shirt
  • Patagonia vest
  • rain poncho
  • adventure log and pens
  • iPhone
  • small Joby tripod
  • first aid kit
  • map


I use a lightweight, frameless, black backpack called the REI Flash 18 Pack. The bag is 16 x 9.5 x 8 inches, and it has one main compartment. The bag weighs less than 12 ounces, and it’s perfect for day hikes near my home. Plus, it has an internal sleeve for a Dromedary bag.

What I Wear

It doesn’t rain here often in the summer, and I usually wear a lightweight cotton dress with a t-shirt and vest and cotton tights on outdoor adventures. Recently, I bought new socks and a pair of Brooks Cascadia 10 Trail Running shoes for longer hikes.

As a side note, cotton isn’t the best fabric for outdoor recreation, so I’m going to add a few pieces of clothing to my wardrobe for outdoor adventures. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

I’m a big fan layering my clothes. For example, when my mom and I left Red Bluff for Mount Lassen last weekend, it was 70 degrees F. Dark clouds cloaked Mount Lassen, and the further we drove, the cooler it got. By the time we got to the park, it was raining lightly and near the summit the temperature dropped to 45 degrees F! I’m glad I brought my long-sleeved merino wool shirt, tights, vest, and poncho because I needed them to stay warm!


Live Adventurously

I saw so many beautiful sites last weekend. We stopped to take photos at Battle Creek Vista Point along Highway 36, along with a variety of other pullouts on the road. We drove through Mineral, CA—a tiny town near Mount Lassen—with the windows down and the heat blasting on our feet. And, there was so much to see at the park!


We went on a small hike toward Mill Creek Falls but turned around because we were hungry. I brought some snacks in my pack, but we needed “real” food. The hike was only a few miles, but sometimes it is best to follow your instincts. Also, my mom was having a hard time with the elevation. She was walking very slowly and had trouble catching her breath, so turning around was the best option. We also wanted to drive to the Lassen Peak Trailhead.

On the way to the peak, we drove past Emerald Lake and Lake Helen, both of which were covered in snow and ice. We were thinking about hiking around those lakes, but it wasn’t an option. Snow was everywhere, even though the roads were clear.

At the summit, my mom said, “Tam, let’s drive through the whole park! You can get a sense of the layout and what it has to offer.”


I felt a little hesitant about driving through the whole park but decided to embrace adventure and go for it. On the way down the mountain, we stopped to take photos and savor short walks. One of my favorite places was Summit Lake. It’s a gorgeous little lake with plenty of camping spots and trails that head toward Echo Lake, Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, and Rainbow Lake.

On the drive, my mom and I talked about my step-dad, Mahlon, and how much we missed him. When I was a kid, my mom, Mahlon, and I would drive to Lassen occasionally and go hiking and exploring together. We even hiked Lassen Peak together. I have a sweet photo of my parents sitting beside the trail. They look so young and cute!

I try to pack lightly for day hikes, but I carry more than stuff. I carry memories, too. Some of those memories are heavy and some are light.


When I’m outside looking at mountains, flowers, snow, and expansive landscapes, my lighter memories surface. I remember the times I spent with Mahlon and the adventures we had together as a family while hiking, skiing, and camping, along with the peaceful in-between times, too. I miss Mahlon, however I strive to honor his memory by practicing gratitude, living adventurously, and making the choice to show up and to live in the moment. Living in the moment is where I find joy.

Be well,

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sandra Pawula May 26, 2015, 11:51 am

    I LOVE Lassen so much. We used to visit the north end when we lived in CA, but only in the summer when it was easy to get around. It’s one of the most beautiful places on this earth.

    I’m glad you had such a beautiful time, Tammy. I think you are so smart to be prepared!

  • Awurrlu May 26, 2015, 3:20 pm

    So glad you had a lovely hike! It’s so good to get out in nature.

    If you’re looking for merino recommendations, I’m a fan of Ibex. Not as trendy as Icebreaker, but durable and they have good sales. Plus the t-shirts pack very small, so they’re great for layering on hikes when the weather might be changeable.

    • Tammy Strobel May 26, 2015, 3:40 pm

      Thanks for the great tip, Awurrlu! I’ll check out Ibex. 🙂

  • Kelly May 26, 2015, 5:19 pm

    Stunning photos 🙂

  • Cynthia May 26, 2015, 5:39 pm

    Lassen Volcanic National Park looks so amazing! Thanks for the photos 🙂
    In terms of good activewear, I find anything in merino wool great. I also love Toad & Co.: http://www.toadandco.com; they have some cotton items, but also many non-cotton items that are moisture-wicking.

    I’m looking forward to seeing photos from your next adventure!

  • sally May 28, 2015, 6:08 am

    What beautiful hiking country! Glad you enjoy living in the present, I’m sure your step-dad would be very happy he raised someone who appreciates the beauty in life.

  • GK May 28, 2015, 11:03 am

    Columbia makes a great brand of quick dry t-shirts that you may want to look into. I have a handful of Mountain Tech shirts that I wear when either traveling or spending time outdoors. One of these shirts I’ve worn regularly for over 5 years, and it’s still in very good shape. They’re made of a high quality soft polyester, so they dry overnight and aren’t itchy like cheap polyester.

    Another good performance shirt is Lacoste’s Ultra Dry polo shirt. I’m not sure if they make these for women. They’re expensive, but seem like they’re made to last.

  • Anne-Marie May 28, 2015, 11:53 am

    My late husband and I also went through the Lassen Park on our way to Lake Tahoe one time. It was in 1997 so I don’t really remember much now what it looked like.
    How pretty it is now with all the flowers. Best to do these kinds of things before the wildfires start. I have a feeling this is going to be a very challenging fire season here in northern California.
    Glad that you and your mom got to spend some quality time together.

  • Sarah May 28, 2015, 2:28 pm

    with regards to hiking clothing – I wear merino every day for everything! In my experience the brand doesn’t matter – not for the layering items anyway. The jackets you might want something more hi-tech, but basic merino layers are light, insulating (good in any temperature – I’ve worn it in New York winters and Iranian summers) and they last longer between washes, if you get what I mean…

    I’m from New Zealand and I can grab a long-sleeve merino top for about $25 here at the budget end of the scale – the one I’m wearing now I bought three years ago, they last and don’t show wear as quickly as cotton.

    That’s my two cents’ worth anyway, good luck 🙂

  • Diane May 28, 2015, 4:50 pm

    Tammy, your writing about your step-dad touches my heart. I lost mine 4 years ago and when I read about your memories of Mahlon, they seem to mirror my own experiences with my step-dad, Dan. Thank you for sharing. Knowing someone else in the world has shared a similar loss somehow helps. <3

  • Delicia May 30, 2015, 3:59 am

    What a beautiful spot to hike in! Your photos are stunning as always. I really adore the last flower one.

    When I was in New Zealand, my friend introduced me to Icebreaker and gifted me a top. I was hooked. The feel on my skin, the durability, it dries quickly, isn’t too hot, keeps me warm when needed, washes and wears well. For me, merino works well for the outdoors (and indoors, too). And I love that I can track my wool online and see where it came from. 😉

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