Sunday, February 23, 2014

Van Cortlandt under snow

Blue bridge by TheTurducken
Blue bridge, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Our polar vortex is taking a break this weekend with highs in the 50s, so I decided to go up to Van Cortlandt Park for a little hike. However, there was a lot more snow on the ground than I expected. In hindsight, I should have expected this; just because the shoveled sidewalks are melted out doesn't mean the trails are.

A trail around the athletic fields was (mostly) clear; about half of it was still covered in slush or even ice. I couldn't head into the dirt woods like I planned at all, not without snowshoes. There was also a trail clear between the pool and the football field over to the east side and the Putnam Trail. You can see it here; that's the Putnam going over the bridge.

While the Putnam Trail wasn't cleared, quite a few people had walked on it. This just meant that instead of postholing, one could walk like one would on loose sand. Great ankle workout, not so good for speed.

Not a high mileage day, but quite pretty out.

P.S. Yes, still raising money for

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ignore this if you're bored of my shoulder

For a long time, I felt as if I wasn't making any progress with my shoulder, but the last two months or so have seen noticeable progress.

In January enough range of motion back that I was able to do more than walking and pilates, so I bought a class card for the Alvin Ailey extension. I tried a couple of West African dance classes, but while my shoulder held up, I found the choreography too difficult for an absolute beginner. If I was seeking out a new hobby, it would have been worth persisting through the frustration, but since I was only looking for a stopgap, I didn't. The classes were a good aerobic workout, though, and the teachers are hampered by only working with two class levels, which tends to force the beginner class to greater difficulty.

I also went to the extension's Absolute Beginner ballet class - which, unlike many dance classes, is actually pitched to beginners. (I get that teaching absolute novices can be dull, and it is difficult if said novices include people who have never danced before as well as those who are professionals in other dance forms, but that doesn't change the fact that many beginner classes are incredibly challenging for students who aren't used to following choreography.) Finis Jhung, the instructor, does a great job with this class, with a strong emphasis on correct form. Many adult classes (not just in ballet) tend toward rushing into pretty moves - after all, they'll never be professionals, so who cares if their form is off? But doing things right is the key to getting those harder moves, and to not hurting your adult body, which doesn't rebound as fast.

(Frankly, his approach is similar to what I like about Capoeira Angola Quintal; it's more important to execute a basic movement correctly and well than to do some impressive ooh-ah flip/jump/spin.)

Monday, I noticed that I was better able to balance in eleve, so huzzah, it was working! Another recent milestone - being able to wear a backpack. And then, the most exciting - permission to return to yoga.

So Tuesday I went to a basic vinyasa class with a teacher I know and like, Magi Pierce at Life in Motion. It was exactly the right class; I could do most everything and modify what I couldn't. She doesn't push people but focuses on technique as well as the "why" of poses. I left class very happy to be back.

But oh man, after ballet, then yoga, then PT today, I am sore.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Van Cortlandt Hike-a-Thon

View from Vault Hill by TheTurducken
View from Vault Hill, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
This April, I'm participating in the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park Hike-a-Thon, which raises money for one of New York City's largest parks.

In October 2012, 843-acre Central Park received a gift of $100 million - its endowment alone now stands at about $200 million. Central Park is a beautiful New York jewel, no question, and a great resource for Manhattan. Van Cortlandt Park, by contrast, is 1,146 acres and is to the Bronx what Central Park is to Manhattan. But Van Cortlandt (and Flushing Corona Meadows in Queens) don't attract that kind of big money; in 2013, the Friends group brought in less than half a mil. Even government money is scarce - the city has been promising to build a bridge over the freeway that cuts through the park for years now.

Van Cortlandt Park serves the community in several ways. It has athletic fields and a golf course. It has a nationally famous cross-country trail. It has a historic home that is now a museum. But what draws me to it is its extensive trails. I've blogged here about hiking in the park, and I have more pictures here. It's the only place I know of in New York City where you can genuinely feel as if you are in the woods and away from civilization.

As a trails volunteer, I've seen the work volunteers, park staff, and Friends of Van Cortlandt Park put into maintaining the trails. There is a lot being done on a shoestring, but there is so much more that could be done.

Please consider joining me in making a donation to support the park.

Not from New York? Never been to Van Cortlandt? Next time you're in town, I'll take you up there.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ramblers' East River bridges hike

Manhattan by TheTurducken
Manhattan, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
This hike was billed as five bridges and three hot chocolates, although I bailed after four bridges and only one chocolate.

The weather was beautiful - a sunny, 50-degree day sandwiched between cold winter days. (I suspect the NFL has weather witches on staff.) It made for very nice hiking without putting on a dozen layers first.

We started on the east side near the Roosevelt Island tram (and, no, I had no idea there was a tram). We crossed over the bridge into Queens, walked down through Long Island City, where this photo of Manhattan was taken, and crossed in Brooklyn via the Pulaski Bridge. Then we went back over the Williamsburg Bridge and encountered the new year parade in Chinatown before going back to Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge. From there, the group wended its way to Park Slope in search of hot chocolate, but I parted from them at Carroll Gardens.

Strictly speaking, I wouldn't call this a hike - no dirt underfoot - but it was a great chance to see parts of the city I didn't know well.