Sunday, April 26, 2015

Getting warm with a cold

Cherry Walk

Spring has sprung here in the city, which means lots of beautiful flowers. It doesn't seem right to have a killer cold at this time of year. So far this virus has ruined two weekends for me - including today's plan to do the SBM End-to-End. There is always next year, of course.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Preparing for a long hike

I'm signed up to do the Suffern-Bear Mountain End-to-End hike with the Appalachian Mountain Club in a week and a half. This annual hike travels from Suffern at the southern end of Harriman State Park to Bear Mountain at the northern end. Over 24 miles hikers gain 6,000 feet of elevation, making it a challenging day hike.

I've been training for it for a while, but I still don't know if I'm ready. It will be the hardest hike I've ever done - beating out any of my Nashville Hiking Meetup Death Marches. I took a look back to see how it compared with my previous excursions:

Most elevation gain in a day:
11th & 10th place: South Mac/Chimney Top (Frozen Head, TN) - 3720 feet over 10.3 miles and Hunter Mountain (Catskills, NY) - 3720 feet over 4.5 miles one-way
9th place: West Kill (Catskills, NY) - 3762 feet over 4.5 miles one-way
8th & 7th place: Rainbow Falls (Smokies, TN) - 4000 feet over 6.5 miles one-way and Mailbox Peak (WA) 4000 feet over 3.75 miles one-way
6th place: Twin & Indian Head (Catskills, NY) - 4000 feet over 3.1 miles one-way
5th place: Sewanee Perimeter (TN) - 4124 feet over 20.6 miles
4th place: Failed attempt to summit Mt. St. Helens (WA) - 4200 feet over 4.5 miles one-way
3rd place: Ramapo Torne/Russian Bear (Harriman, NY) - 4344 feet over 9.92 miles
2nd place: Mount Saint Helens (WA) - 4500 feet over 5 miles one-way
1st place: North Bird Loop (Frozen Head, TN) - 5500 feet over 15 miles

Longest dayhike:
3rd place: North Rim-Plateau Loop (TN) - 17.9 miles
2nd place: Sewanee Perimeter (TN) - 20.6 miles
1st place: Palisades (NY-NJ) - 21 miles

The only hike that appears on both lists is the Sewanee Perimeter trail. While shorter than the SBM, it's not markedly shorter. It's also similar in that it's a series of ups and downs, rather than a steady climb up a mountain. Similarly, the North Bird Loop hike had almost the same elevation gain as the SBM, and it was arguably harder for being shorter and thus steeper. Of course, none of this takes into account my relative fitness at the time.

But, hey, at least I'm not trying this hike.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Seven Hills hike

Coming up
Another week, another Ramblers hike - and another Harriman State Park hike. This one was almost 14 miles of ups and downs, beginning and ending in Tuxedo. Most of the hike was on the Seven Hills Trail, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Most of the hills were steep climbs, although some were fun rock scrambles.

But what a difference from just two weeks ago! Two weeks ago we needed microspikes; now there was no snow left.* We didn't see any flowers or buds, but they can't be far behind.

Well, I'll be back in Harriman in two more weeks - I will let you know then.

* Technically, we did see one patch of snow, maybe 3 by 6 feet.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Packing light

This summer I am going to Iceland! For a month! Awesome, right? There is one, challenge, though: Packing. Four weeks of stuff in a backpacking backpack and a regular little backpack.

My problem isn't clothes. Aside from the fact that I need to bring two pairs of boots, apparently, I can pack light. And it's not "conveniences," either. I don't use a hairdryer, and my laptop isn't coming with me.*

It's everything else. Two of the four weeks will be spent doing trail maintenance, requiring me to bring camping gear. Thankfully, they provide tents upon request and cooking gear isn't needed. But I need a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow, so I've had to make a few gear upgrades.

My sleeping bag is fine, but my parents bought me a new sleeping pad as an early birthday present, and I sprung for a new bag liner once I realized how much smaller they could be than mine. Take a look:

(We'll leave which is old and which is new as an exercise to the reader. By the way, I do like my Z-rest foam pad. I'll keep it and double-pad in when camping in winter conditions, as I sleep cold. )

The weight isn't significantly different, but the volume is.

Frankly, I think I need to make a few more purchases. The worksite requires steel-toed boots. Also, I'm not sure I have two weeks of camping/working attire that won't embarrass me in the city. I guess the latter counts as discretionary, but the boots are required.

But meanwhile, I just gained significant pack space!

*Reading material, that will also be an issue. I need a book or two that is long and I like well enough but don't mind leaving behind.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hike in Van Cortlandt Park

Vernal pool

On Sunday, I led a Ramblers hike through Van Cortlandt Park. It clocked in a little shorter than I was hoping for, just under 10 miles. However, we saw nearly every part of the park except the southeast. The photo above is of the vernal pool in the Northeast Forest.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring is here

First flowers of spring
From Saturday's scouting hike in Van Cortlandt Park, the first flowers of spring. (Notice also the snowflakes.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hiking across Harriman and back

On Sunday, I hiked with the Ramblers from the west side of Harriman State Park to the east and back again, for a total of 16 miles. We lucked out with beautiful weather, but it was still a tough hike.

While much of the hike was flat, there were several hilly sections, particularly in the second half of the hike. There was still some snow on the ground, and in many places it had turned to a sheet of ice. Other parts of the trail were perfectly bare, and, as always, rocky, making both wearing microspikes and not wearing microspikes bad choices. Either you slipped on the snow or dulled your spikes on the rocks!

Nevertheless, it was a good hike, and a very good workout.