DIY Silica Gel Shoe Fresheners

Tired of smelly climbing shoes? Damp, fusty snowboard boots? Clothes or gear stored in rubber bins coming out musty and stale?

You’ve tried deodorizers and air fresheners but they just cover the odor: No matter how much you douse your ice climbing boots with “Clean Linen” or “Tropical Breeze,” there is still that sexy hint of eau de cheesy feet.

So…How do you beat the funk?*

[ Drumroll ] The Silica Gel Pack!

One of the major culprits is moisture: the sweat in your biking, hiking or climbing shoes or the humidity/dampness trapped in your sealed rubber bins.  Moist places with poor ventilation are a happy home for bacteria, mold and fungal growth = smell.

Silica gel absorbs this moisture, keeping things like purses and freeze-dried camping dinners fresh and delicious!

Who would ever eat this?

Rather than “borrowing” those little packets from shoe boxes or buying expensive, pre-made silica gel packs, make your own gel packs with this easy (and cheap) DIY!

 Step 1—You need silica gel.
I found two inexpensive places to get it:

1) The craft store: Apparently silica gel is used as a drying agent for flowers.

2)  The pet food aisle: Some kitty litter is just straight up silica gel…you will know it is the right one because it will say it right on the label and look like white/clear crystals.

I found this at Walmart for about $15 after tax:

photo (2)

Step 2--Put the gel in a pouch (the more “breathable” the better!)

The first time I made my silica gel packs I was living in a truck, so here is what I did:


What you will need:
-coffee filters (whatever size)


  • Spoon silica gel into coffee filter
  • Tape edge of coffee filter closed so no gel bits are leaking out. Try to cover just the edges, leaving as much of the coffee filter surface area open to breathe.

DIY silica gel pack

Ta da!

If you have some time and/or access to a sewing machine there is also:


What you will need:
-Muslin, cheesecloth  (you can find these at fabric stores for pretty cheap), a rice bag or old cotton tshirt.  Pretty much any durable, somewhat breathable material.
-Sewing machine and/or needle and thread


  • Cut fabric into desired shape.  I made mine slim rectangles because they fit well in shoes (and I can’t really sew anything but straight lines)
  • Sew around the edges, leaving a hole big enough to pour the gel in with a spoon
  • Option: Turn shape inside out to hide seams. (Because we are fancy!)
  • Fill shape ¾ full with gel:photo (4)
  •  Sew the last bit closed…

photo (3)


These make nice, cheap gifts for people too!  They work for shoes, bins, ammo boxes, closets, sock drawers…and by putting them in the oven you can dry them out and reuse them over and over.  (google it for the details!)

Good luck and stay fresh!


*Beat the Funk was my band name in high school



The time a nut went through my friends ear…. (Warning: photos w blood)

Matt: “Hey Anna, do you have some extra water?”

Anna: “Yeah sure, help yourself.”

Matt: “Thanks! Steve is bleeding everywhere and we need some water to wash him off.”


We were out climbing one weekend with my friend Steve who was stoked on bolting this heinous overhanging sport route.

Steve was placing traditional protection to keep him close enough to the wall to bolt on rappel.  Being a sport route, he was having difficulty finding good placements.
He eventually managed to place his smallest offset nut in a crumbly, flaring slot.

He clipped his daisy to the nut,

Weighted it,

And…It held!


Steve told me later he didn’t hear or feel anything when it happened:

Apparently he was reaching over for the drill clipped to the side of his harness when suddenly his body was in the air, swinging away from the wall.
And his ear felt really… wet?
He reached up, touched it, and his hand came back covered in blood.

“Uh, guys…” he yelled down, “I think I might have ripped my ear off?”

steves ear

Steve’s ear after some cleaning up

It turns out the nut had had so much tension on it that, when it blew, it shot out at my friend’s head like a bullet.  It hit Steve’s earlobe, and the force of it literally exploded his ear, tearing a hole clean through.

(It had so much force it didn’t just go through the ear but also hit the back of his head and left a contusion:

back of steves ear

Where the nut hit the back of Steve’s ear!

 Steve was fine: a friend packed his ear with a bunch of gauze and we climbed the rest of the day.  He probably would have just gone home after too, but I talked him into seeing a doctor—he got a tetanus shot and 4 stitches in the front AND back of his ear.

(7 days later he made me remove the stitches so he didn’t have to go back to the doctors. After watching a few how-to videos on youtube–yes, apparently there are instruction vids on how to remove stitches from an ear–I took them out using the light of my head lamp, nail scissors and tweezers)

Things Steve Learned:
According to him—nothing.  Quote: “Shit happens.”

 Things I learned:

  • Ears bleed a lot.
  • A first aid kit at the crag is handy
  • You can only get stitches within a certain time period after an accident, so if you think you may need them, don’t wait for tomorrow!
  • If you miss removing a stitch your body will push it out on its worries!  (it can also cause an abscess…check with your dr.)

(If you’re interested, YouTube link on how to remove ear stitches: )

Confessions of a Rock Climbing Addict?

Ad·dic·tion [uh-dik-shuh n]  noun

the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma


Hello, my name is Anna and I am a rock climber.
I haven’t seen my family in almost 2 months. I missed Thanksgiving (Red River Gorge trip).
I missed Christmas Eve story telling (Potrero Chico). I missed my birthday party (Indian Creek). I missed Easter dinner (Seneca Rocks). I missed Canada day camping (Daks).
My dad tells me he loves me via facebook message.


Hello, my name is Anna and I am a rock climber.
My friends are also all rock climbers. When we are not rock climbing, we talk about rock climbing, using jargon no one else can follow. Or we watch movies about rock climbing. Or read magazines about rock climbing. Or listen to podcasts about rock climbing. If we go to a restaurant, at least one person tries to climb the side of the building. A one-armed chin up contest at a party is not unusual.
I used to have non-rock climbing friends, but I haven’t seen them since the weather turned warm.


Hello, my name is Anna and I am a rock climber.
I have a job. This job facilitates my rock climbing. When I am working, I am planning my next rock climbing trip. I am waiting for the end of the day so I can go rock climbing. I am counting down until the weekend so I can go rock climbing. When work inevitably interferes with my rock climbing, I quit. And move into my car. Until the money runs out. Then I get another job.


Hello, my name is Anna and I am a rock climber.
I wake up in the morning with claw hands that can take up to an hour to be able to open fully (actually, one finger doesn’t straighten fully anymore, but Im pretty sure I can get it back again). My right ankle hasn’t worked or looked quite right since I broke it bouldering. Neither has my left ankle—I broke that bouldering too. I have little to no feeling over the first knuckle of both my hands where I jam. And it is awesome.
I wish my fingers would hurry up and go numb too so I can climb hard finger cracks.


Hello, my name is Anna and I am a rock climber.
Rock climbing is not an addiction, it’s just something I like to do.
I can stop any time I like.

heart crack

What Rob Ford and I have in common

Wanted: Female Rock Climbing Ambassadors

When I first started climbing, I had a lot of excuses for why I wasn’t able to climb a climb:
My arms weren’t long enough. My hands were too small. I was too short.
I would dismiss the climb as impossible for all but tall, long-armed strong men
(one of which was probably the setter).

Then Shannon, a girl friend (who was probably a foot shorter than me and 100 lbs soaking wet), would rock up to the same problem in her cut-off jean shorts and lime green 5.10s and crush it.
“You can totally do it Anna,” she would tell me, “just turn your hip into the wall and really reach for it!”
She was a strong climber with great technique, and she inspired me.
If Shannon could do it, then one day I could do it too, right?
(I just needed to ditch the excuses and become a better rock climber 😉 )

I like to think of Shannon as a Female Rock Climbing Ambassador*.
Shannon in general made my climbing experience better.
She would shout encouragement, was always happy to give beta (“girl” beta I would say ), and was generally stoked on climbing, which made me stoked to climb with her.

Shannon sadly moved on to a better place (British Columbia), but Im sure wherever she is, she is still crushing and encouraging other women to crush.

So, in memory of Shannon, I’d like to challenge all of you lady rock climbers out there, regardless of skill or experience, to become Female Rock Climbing Ambassadors!
Be part of creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for women in what can sometimes be a frustrating and intimidating male-dominated sport.  It can be as simple as sharing a smile or some encouragement at the crag or gym. Or supporting a ladies’ climbing night or event. Or even offering to take an indoor-climbing-lady outdoors for the first time!
(my first time climbing outdoors was really awkward because it turned out the guy was interested in me as more than just a climbing partner…Other females may relate to this experience)

Become a Female Rock Climbing Ambassador!  Spread the stoke!


Ladies helping ladies!

*This is likely not the right use of the word, but I like it and Im sticking with it!

Your Scars are Sexy

My 5 year old niece plopped herself beside me and pointed to the pea-sized bruise darkening on her little peach-fuzzed knee. She frowned.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, looking between her and the offending knee innocently.
She pointed at the little bruise again.
“Auntie Anna I fell.” She looked up at me and frowned again more dramatically.
“Oh no…How did you fall?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.
Her frown vanished as her eyes widened with excitement.

“There was a goose!” she exclaimed, and began to explain in the halting and meandering way that 5-year-olds sometimes do how she had gone to a park…or conservation area… or the zoo? and there were animals…and a pond…and fish… and she had tripped running away from…a goose? She was so animated by the end of the story it was hard to tell.

I whistled, “Phew! It sounds like you had an adventure!”
Her tiny body bobbed up and down as she nodded in agreement.

“Sometimes when we go on adventures we get scraps and bruises,” I continued as I pushed the bottom of my pant leg up. A fresh purple bruise was blossoming on my calf.
“If I had stayed at home, I wouldn’t have this bruise, BUT I also wouldn’t have had an adventure.”

She eyed the bruise on my calf curiously, then stuck out her finger and poked it.  Her gaze shifted to the rest of my exposed leg and she pointed to the large scar on my shin, the little bruises that surrounded it and the fresh blackfly bite welts.
She looked at me with wide eyes.
“You must go on a lot of adventures Auntie Anna!”


I had completely forgotten about the conversation until later that night when I was getting ready for a girls night out:  I was hesitating over the decision to wear a cute little black dress.  It was laid out on the bed: black and tight and…short.
My beaten up legs would definitely be on full display.

I contemplated my legs in the mirror:

Maybe flesh coloured pantyhose would cover up the scars? 

Foundation on the bruises so they don’t show as much?

 Hm…maybe I could wear tights underneath the dress…or jeans…would that look weird? 

Sigh.  Maybe I should just wear the jeans and skip the dress tonight…?  

Geez, look at these UGLY legs.

The thought caught.
Ugly legs.
I considered them in the mirror.
Were my legs ugly?
They were scratched, yes, and bruised, and scarred.  But did this make them less attractive?

I traced the line of the scar on the inside of my left calf—a reminder of what side of the bike to get off of when learning to ride a motorcycle in Thailand…

Every mark had a story–was an adventure. Just like the little bruise on my niece’s knee.
And she was right, my legs had been on many adventures:
They had hiked through woods and got bitten by bugs, they had climbed rocks and got bruised and scarred, they had rode mountain bikes and got dirty and scratched.

They were legs to be proud of, not ashamed or embarrassed.
They were short-little-black-dress legs.


So, to all you ladies out there with scraped knees, scarred ankles and bruised shins…
to all the women with burned shoulders, scabbed elbows, calloused hands and warped feet:

Your bruises are beautiful.
And your scars are sexy.

Show them off, share your stories and continue on your adventures, whatever they may be… 🙂


My legs: sans pantyhose, foundation or tights

To Sell or Not to Sell: How do you let go of the gear that you Love?

This post is dedicated to JJ, my brother, and anyone else who has parted with a beloved bike, boat, kite, rack, board or other piece of gear
in exchange for other wonderful adventures…


“Hey Anna, maybe it’s time you sold one of your kayaks…..?”

My roommate stood, hands on hips, eyeing up the boats taking up precious space in a garage already crammed full of gear.

“I mean, when was the last time you even used them? Do you really need two?”
She cleared a path to the whitewater playboat and creekboat I had expertly tucked away behind a corner of our garage woody and started dragging them out for closer inspection.

“Hey…stop that!” I instinctively positioned myself between her and the boats.
“They are for two totally different types of kayaking…so YES, I do need two.”

She stared at me for a moment (…I was still physically protecting the boats…), shook her head, turned and picked her way out of the garage.

I turned and looked at the boats affectionately.
Sell my kayaks? No way. Absolutely no.
I started propping them back into the corner.
I mean, yeah, so I haven’t used them in awhile….but I WILL. This season for sure. Definitely.
I positioned a crash pad to conveniently block the view of the boats from the garage door.

The thing is…I knew I probably wasn’t going to use them that season. Or the next.
It wasn’t because I didn’t love kayaking anymore—I was the same me.
It was that life had, unexpectedly, changed around me.
After nearly a decade working in the adventure tourism industry, I decided to follow a different career path. I took a 9-5 job. I moved to a small town 4.5 hours away from whitewater. My paddling friends slowly scattered around the country.
I went from kayaking every other day…to every other weekend…to every other month…to maybe once or twice a season. It happened so slowly, so gradually, that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t been in my boat for over a year until my roommate dragged it across the garage floor that day.

Sell my kayaks?
Okay, so I didn’t really paddle anymore.  I talked about it in the past tense, something I used to do. I used to be a kayaker. “Whitewater” no longer made it into my “About Me” descriptions, I couldn’t remember the last time I read Rapid mag, and my “boat rags” t-shirt and boardshorts were in a box somewhere, likely my mom’s basement.
So why did I literally throw my body across my boats at the off-hand suggestion of putting them up for sale?

An experience I had with my brother a million years ago came to mind:

Before he went on his first backpacking adventure, my super-spend-thrift older brother went out and dropped a ton of cash on a brand new, 80L Arc’teryx backpack.
“I did my research…it was the best,” I remember him telling me with a big smile.
And he and the pack went on to have many adventures together around the world.

Fast forward 8 years—my bro is married, has a house, mortgage, 2 kids and a career.
And the Arc’teryx pack accompanies me now on adventures.

After borrowing and returning it for the umpteenth time, I finally asked my brother if I could just keep it.
“No.” He replied curtly.
“I’ll pay you for it if you want,” I said. “I mean, it’s not like you use it anymore.”
His mouth tightened.
“Oh come on! You don’t need it…It’s just going to sit in your basement collecting dust!”
He shot me a sharp look, picked up the bag and walked away.
My sister-in-law came over and put a hand on my shoulder,
“Give him some time Anna,” she said. “He’ll come around.”**

Being older and wiser, I now understand that that 8-year-old pack meant more to my brother than the big-blue-bag-that-held-stuff I coveted. The pack had become a representation—a reminder—of a life before marriage and houses and kids, a life where he was able to drop everything and travel around the world for weeks and months at a time.

And maybe my kayaks were the same?
Did selling my kayaks meant admitting…accepting…that I had changed right along with the life around me? Letting go of the past?


I’ve decided to sell one of my boats.

The creekboat.
Because I accept that I’m not going creeking or running a waterfall any time soon.

As for the playboat?

Give me some time. I’ll come around.


(If anyone out there is interested in a Jackson Punkrocker let me know)

** P.S–My brother didn’t officially give me the Arc’teryx pack, but he didn’t ask for it back after the last time I borrowed it. It continues to accompany me on many adventures 🙂




The 10 People You Meet Camping


  1. The Person who makes and keeps the fire going.
    Holds the poking stick.  Discusses positive and negative attributes of the wood.
  1. The Person who drinks too much and almost falls in the fire.
    May be found the next morning sleeping in the woods +/- articles of clothing.
  1. The Person who forgets everything.
    Popular items include toilet paper, dishcloth, salt, knife, sunscreen, bugspray.
  1. The Person who cooks ultra fancy, elaborate meals.  Usually involves fresh herbs, lime juice and a dutch oven.
  1. The Person who brings the 10-person tent.
  1. The Person who brings the 1-person ultra-light tent or Hennessy hammock.
    Has very expensive MSR stove and thinks Bear Grylls is a poser and a pussy.
  1. The Person who takes photos every 30 min and posts them on social media.  Mandatory photos include: fire close-up, tents from a distance, sun though the woods and feet  (#camplife #greatoutdoors #campfirefriends #roughingit )
  1. The Person who brings the Guitar. Or Ukulele. Or Didgeridoo. Or Djembe.  Or Harmonica.  Etc  Etc  Etc.
  1. The Person who thinks the walls of their tent are soundproof.
  2. The Person who sleeps in their camper vehicle.  Enjoys talking about tiny homes, elaborate storage systems and solar power.