Hello Everyone! After having just returned from an incredible multi-day hiking trip to the Pacific Northwest, I have much to share and tips to offer for hitting the trails. I will also provide an update on some upcoming events I am currently training for and talk a little bit about what to look for in a hiking boot to ensure an ExoSymplyAmazing fit. ☺

Wenatchee National Forest – WA Hiking Trip

Hiking Distance: 4 days; 45 miles

Trip Details: A truly amazing trip filled with beautiful views, green forests and tall mountains! If you ever get a chance to see this part of the country, I highly recommend it. This part of Washington State is about 3 hours east of Seattle. During the trek, my friend and I must have crossed over 50 trees down (which equals over 100 times when you have to go back down!) and thanks to the ExoSym, I climbed over every single one! We traversed waterfalls, hiked over 7,000ft in elevation gain (one trail was 1,000ft elevation gain per mile!) and peaked mountain tops with glacial lakes. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire trip. ☺ An incredible journey but also an incredible testament to the stability, durability, and performance of the ExoSym device. From jumping rock to rock across rivers, to literally climbing up and down mountains for long periods of time — I have yet to find something the ExoSym cannot handle. We even went on a 6hr whitewater rafting trip and the device fit under the wetsuit & booties the outfitter supplied — I was so happy!

tree down? no biggie!

Hiking Advice: For those looking to go hiking, I recommend purchasing a solid hiking boot. Tennis shoes are a little too flexible to handle the terrain (& you’ll wear them out really quickly). A few months ago, I purchased a pair of LOWA Zepher GTX Mid boots and they have been great. I’ll provide more details on the boot below, but definitely check out your local REI to try on some different brands / styles to find what you like. Having a pair of hiking boots will definitely help keep your feet dry and supported! When ascending/descending terrain, remember to keep your ExoSym glute engaged as much as possible on the step– this will help to keep your muscles activated up the posterior chain. Remember to step on the “sweet spot” and most importantly, trust the device. Every time we would come to a waterfall crossing, I had two choices: (1) freak out & think I’m going to slip and fall off the mountain ☺ OR (2) trust the device and step with confidence — I chose the latter and never fell. Trust the device — you can do it! #keepthefaith

thumbs up
made it to the top!

While I didn’t have my LEKI trekking poles with me on this trip, I have been training with those a lot in the last several weeks and can say that while not necessary for everything, they are super for helping with balance and can provide extra support & momentum. Also, kind of fun to use too. I actually think they could be really helpful to those who wear dual devices. An optional but kind of essential piece of advice is to bring with you an extra heel wedge and straps / device accessory supplies & a small towel to dry the device for river encounters. You never know when you might need to fix up something on your device and you also don’t want to be without a heel wedge – which could be an end all to your trip! Lastly, I recommend carrying a pair of tennis shoes with you so that when you camp, you can put on another pair of shoes for the night. Trust me on this.☺

these are the LEKI poles

Upcoming Summer Events:

  • June 25th – Project Athena 24hr Adventure Race – Santa Barbara, CA
    • Disciplines: Mountain Biking, Hiking, Kayaking
    • Length: 24-30hrs
    • Details: I AM SO EXCITED about this. I feel like ExoSym patient Dominique and I have been training for this for months now (because we have!) and it’s finally here! Only three more weeks until the race (and until we meet in person)! All the 2-4hr weekday trainings  & 4-8 hr weekend trainings have paid off and we are both feeling strong and ready to go into the home stretch!
  • August 5th-7th – CrossFit Catalyst Games – Austin, TX
    • Details: 3 day team based CrossFit competition located in Austin, TX. I will be competing with my teammates at CrossFit Python — can’t wait!
  • August 28 – Hotter than Hell 100mi Bike Race – Wichita Falls, TX
    • Discipline: Cycling
    • Length: 100 miles
    • Details: ExoSym patient Liz E. & I will soon begin training on our own for the HH100mi bike race coming up in August and will meet in WF for the race! We are super excited — more to come on this!
  • Sept 6 – Zilker Relay – Austin, TX
    • Discipline: Walking  / Running
    • Length: 10 miles (each person runs/walks 2.5 miles)
    • Details: Austin area ExoSym patients Bryan, Lisa, Aaron and myself will be competing as a team in the Zilker Relay this Sept. We are all super excited and will begin training this July! What started out as an ATX ExoSymplybreakfast club… has now turned into an ExoSymplyAmazing team ☺

Back to the boots… Review of the LOWA Zepher Mid GTX

Pros: This is a super light-weight, waterproof boot – good for all climates and conditions. Not to mention it’s pretty too 🙂 It’s plenty wide for the device to slide into and very breathable. I can even run in these boots! They are super.

Cons: I had to purchase two sizes – one to fit the device and one to fit the regular foot (which was not surprising haha but just figured I would point it out.) On the + side, I was able to team up with ExoSym patient Saydrah since we wear the same size and have devices on opposite legs, so the match to the boots went to a happy home! I’m thinking about starting a shoe size list so that I can connect people who may wear the same size, so let me know if you are interested in that! Although these boots are not cheap, I do think quality is important — especially when you are investing in something you plan to get a lot of use out of!

LOWA Zepher
LOWA Zepher

As we enter the summer, I challenge you to think about what it is you want to accomplish. There are so many opportunities out there — you just have to set your mind to it and believe that it is possible! Set the bar high and you may just surprise yourself at what you can do. I’ll close with a comment made to me by a bypassing hiker on the trail in WA. He said, “Wow, I can’t believe you are out here hiking with a hurt leg like that.” I couldn’t help but look up and smile. “Looks can be deceiving, sir. This is an ExoSym and with it, I can do anything.” ♥


#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing


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