Groundbird Gear

cooper pond-1me and cooper portrait-3Thru-hikers come home changed. Almost all of us struggle to re-establish to “full-time town life.” As one of Powder River’s friends says, “You get in your car (a box) go to the store (a box) and then come home (a box). This is a very strange feeling after 5.5 months of living OUTside the box!

Powder River and I have had some really great times since my SoBo completion of the A.T. We got married, and this is really great ūüôā We got a dog and he has changed our lives. We went on our first great road trip West (with the dog) last summer and look forward to round two this summer. We have been on some short overnight hikes and more importantly have introduced several friends, including my mother to backpacking. We of course long to do a long distance hike together, hopefully with the dog (which trail you ask? Maybe the Long Trail in VT…). Which brings me to my next adventure: Groundbird Gear.

When we got our dog Cooper we soon bought him a pack so he too could enjoy carrying his food down the trail and become a gear nerd like us. Problem was, the pack was very heavy and massive on his skinny body. The pack itself with the hiking harness weighs 3 lbs! Our hiking packs actually weigh less. And so I began my mission to create for Cooper a lightweight pack. This has now become a full-time mission on behalf of other hikers whom also hike with dogs.

We bought a really sweet sewing machine, a Juki LU 1508. I have been cranking out the pack designs for about 6 months now. I am currently working with product testers who are on trail right now and are helping me to improve the design. I launched the website last month. You can buy one! All the packs are custom built to your dog’s measurements and pack+harness weigh around 1 lb.

Some of my product testers’ blogs:

This is a great adventure and I look forward to each new step as a business owner. Thanks for joining me and checking out my website:

20140501packs0005pack ranch-1betty-2custom made dog hiking pack


Climbing Everest

I came across a very interesting article recently on the Appalachian Trail site about elevation gain and loss on the trail.  A long time ago I read a statistic about the AT that the total elevation gain for 2,181 miles is akin to climbing Mt. Everest 16 times from sea level!  However, I have never known how accurate that figure really is.

The article is written by Steve Shuman and he apparently spent months coming up with the following data. ¬†The problem is that while GPS driven programs can come up with a computer generated number, this data is based upon what’s called “centerline” data taken from GPS. ¬†This data is not quite accurate because it does not account for very small elevation gains or losses. ¬†That’s where Steve Shuman comes in. ¬†He sat down with every USGS 7.5 minute topographic quad for the entire trail, and actually COUNTED each contour line that the trail rises or falls. ¬†He has come up with a series of tables representing the staggering amount of climbing Marie has been doing! ¬†Are you ready for this?

The first is the total elevation gain: 515,000 feet! ¬†That’s 97.5 miles up, 97.5 miles down. ¬†Or climbing and descending Mt. Everest 18.4 times. ¬†Or… is anybody tired yet? ¬†Let’s look at the tables.

Total Elevation Gain in feet:

ME 69,357.2

NH 52,969

VT 35,802.2

MA 18,761.6

CT 11,094

NY 19,139.4

NJ 11,584

PA 30,955.5

MD 6,421.3

WV 3,027.5

VA 129,103.7

NC/TN 103,577.6

GA 23,362.7


272……..380.8……..North Carolina/Tennessee
173………17.5………West Virginia
160………72.4………New Jersey
217………88.2………New York
329……..161.0……..New Hampshire

So for the state of Maine, which is 286.6 miles long, Marie climbed an average of 242 feet every mile, ¬†or 69,357.2 feet total! ¬†New Hampshire has the highest average elevation gain at 329 feet per mile, while Pennsylvania is the flattest at “only” 135 feet per mile. ¬†Georgia is the second steepest state at 307 feet per mile. ¬†And by the time Marie gets out of Pennsylvania, she will have climbed 249,662.9 feet and hiked 1,125.1 miles.

If anyone is interested in the full article you can find it at