1. Please introduce yourself.
Hello. Thanks for this opportunity to “chat”, Morry.
I’m Diane Spicer, a long time hiker and relentless pursuer of outdoor time.
I’m located in the Seattle area and started blogging about hiking (hiking-for-her.com) 7 years ago.
2. I love your blog. What is the story behind it? How did it come to be?
The blog grew out of my desire to honor the women who brought my 13 year old self into the woods and taught me how to be safe and comfortable there: Girl Scout leaders.
Forty five years later, my blog is a “giving back” attempt to entice other females of all ages onto hiking trails, and to answer their questions as they progress in their hiking skills.
3. What gear do you review on your site?
I replace at least one piece of hiking gear each year, doing a massive amount of research before I purchase it.
When I find something that works and that I really like, I share that information.
My most recent purchases include a tent, a head net, and a pair of boots in preparation for a trip to ANWR (Alaska).
I also review products if asked to, with a disclosure statement that I did not purchase the gear with my own money.
Some people assume that free gear will bias a reviewer, but in my case, I look even harder for flaws because I don’t want to recommend gear that doesn’t work or might have an unfavorable performance/price ratio.
4. I just love your “social hiking” section on the blog. Can you give us a little insight into it please?
This also relates back to my early mentors.
I learned to backpack in large groups – giggly loud teen aged girl groups! These experiences taught me how much fun you can have when you take folks along on your adventures.
Many women want to get out on the trail but aren’t comfortable alone, so I give options for social hiking and hints on how to make those experiences worthwhile.
And for those who want to transition into solo hiking, I give lots of tips on going it alone without feeling antisocial.
5. What hiking nutrition do you usually recommend?
The best tip I can pass along is to eat a decent hiker’s breakfast before you tackle the trail.
Just as your car needs fuel to deliver you to the trailhead, your legs need fuel (blood sugar) to get you moving on the trail.
A smart breakfast for a hiker includes plenty of carbohydrates with some protein and fat for sustained energy.
My favorite is a bowl brimming with oatmeal plus raw walnuts/almonds, dried cranberries/raisins and a dose of fat (oil or butter, depending on whether I’m on a long trip in the backcountry or sitting at my table before a day hike).
Fast, easy satisfying fuel for hardworking muscles!
6. Can you give us please 5 tips on how to have the greatest time on a trail and make the most of hiking?
- Know where you’re going beyond just the name of the lake/waterfall/peak. Look at maps, read trail descriptions, view satellite images, and scan hiking blogs before you get on the trail. This keeps you safe and sets your expectations correctly.
- Hike your own hike. In other words, don’t compete with anyone or let anyone make you feel bad for being slower or more cautious than other hikers in the group.
- Hike for joy. What gets you revved up about being outdoors? Spotting animals and following the seasons via the ever changing wildflower display are reasons that get me out on the trail.
- Treat your feet like divas. Without them in top form, you’ll have to take up knitting instead.
- Eat for success. Forget candy bars and high priced sugary sports drinks. Give your muscles what they need, when they need it, and you’ll feel better both during and after the hike.
7. What is your hiking gear of choice and what tools do you use?
I’m a minimalist.
Hiking boots with compatible socks, a well fitted backpack, my favorite hiking hat, hiking poles, and the 10 essentials come along on every day hike.
I’m not a brand loyalist because I select what works rather than sticking with a particular gear company.
As far as tool usage, I have a small knife in my survival kit.
If you consider paracord a tool, I carry that, too, because it’s versatile and strong while creating no space or weight issues in my pack.
My best tool is the 40+ years of trail experience I carry around in my brain (thank goodness it doesn’t get heavier each year!).
8. What brand is your favorite multi tool?
When I first started hiking, I carried an old knife from my grandfather, but the blade broke so I replaced it in the 1970s with a small Swiss army knife.
There has never been a need for anything fancier, so it will ride along in my pack for a few more decades.
But maybe I’m missing something, Morry? I need to look into how other hikers use multi tools.
9. What was your best hike?
My best hike is always the one I just finished! Last weekend, after following a section of the Pacific Crest Trail for several miles, I went off trail to explore some unnamed peaks and meadows.
Fresh bear scat (a dramatic purple color due to the huckleberry covered slopes), an elk game trail, a blue wildflower I’ve never seen before, a jumbled talus slope inhabited by pica and whistling marmots, and a great view of Glacier Peak (one of the currently dormant volcanoes in the Cascade range) kept me entertained all day.
10. What is your favorite hiking blog?
I think sectionhiker.com does a great job of sharing his knowledge and experience.
He writes thorough gear reviews and is quite generous with his expertise.
He “specializes” in a part of the country I haven’t explored (I’m in the Pacific Northwest, he’s in the East) so I really enjoy going along virtually on his hikes.
11. A message to your fans.
I pour time and energy into Hiking For Her because I love hiking and want to pass along what I’ve learned about trail time over the past 4 decades.
Isn’t that what life is about, helping others? If just one person a day (a “her” or a “him”) sends a quick email to let me know s/he learned something useful on my site, my whole day becomes sunnier (which is saying a lot, here is gloomy Seattle).