Category Archives: Hiking

Winter Hike

Its been too long since I have gotten out for a good hike, and this winter has been too long. With this last snowstorm that blew through New York it feels like winter will never end despite spring being just around the corner. The only thing that makes it any better is that after this snow storm I was able to get out to one of my favorite places and experience what the storm left us.

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_70

Tangelwood Nature Center is one of my favorite places to go to just be out in nature. It provides some of the most beautiful scenery in our area. I never seem to find my way there frequently enough. Today I went there to hike through the snow and enjoy being alive and being outside. Being that I am both a nature lover and a photographer I brought cameras.

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_166

I wanted to not only hike around and breath the fresh are and experience the wonders of nature I wanted to try to capture some images that I could share with everyone. There are so many different reasons I love Tanglewood and that means in order for me to capture everything I want in one trip I need a variety of equipment. To capture the full scenic view that is Tanglewood I brought my Nikon 1 J5 mirror-less camera with the wide angle zoom 10-30 mm lens. I also like to try and isolate certain elements of the scene from others. For that purpose I brought my Nikon 50 mm f1.8 lens on my Nikon D300 DSLR camera body. Then perhaps my favorite aspect of Tanglewood is the wildlife, particularly birds. For that I used my Nikon 300 mm f4 lens with the 1.4 teleconverter on my Nikon D500 DSLR camera body. With that gear I set off.

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_93

The snow was deeper than I expected and it was warmer than I was expecting. I was fine while I was standing still photographing some bluebirds. But with the sun out and shining I quickly heated up as I trudged through the deep snow. The deep snow and recent cold weather had me thinking I needed to bundled up. Turns out I was overdressed. But, too warm is better than too cold I guess.

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_48

There had been people there prior to my visit cross country skiing. I started off staying on their tracks. It made the hiking a little bit easier. Eventually as the ski tracks became more frozen and hard it was just easier to hike through the fresh snow. I don’t care who you are but it is one of the coolest feelings to be the first one to put tracks into virgin snow. The snow had drifted and was quite deep in places. it was up to my knee as I sunk in at times, but the varying depth was another challenge because you never knew what the next step was going to be lie. I went from sections of deep snow over my knee to a patch where I could see grass in just a short series of steps. When I was in areas of open field I couldn’t even tell where the actual trail was supposed to be, so I just did my best.

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_63

I just hiked around on some of the more open trails closer to the main complex. I didn’t get down into the woods. I was so happy to just get out and enjoy the day. No real plan, just be outside, do something, and enjoy.

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_172

Tanglewood _March 17, 2017_53

 

 

 

Running Challenge

Last night I set a running challenge for myself to complete this morning. I had no specific goals in mind regarding pace or anything. I had one simple target. Finish the run and, spoiler alert, I did. I finished one of my most challenging runs to date.

I have been wanting to start running more trail runs and run distances of half marathon or a little more. My biggest challenge has been figuring out runs that would allow me to stay in shape for those type of events. A friend suggested I run from my house to a nearby nature preserve, Plymouth Woods.

For some people that might not sound too bad, but for me it is a little different. I live nearly at the top of a 1500+ ft high hill. I am not good at hills and have relatively little experience running them. Earlier this year for the first time I ran down my hill and then right back up. But on that run I did not add any more mileage than just down the hill and back up, plus that run was on the less steep side of the hill.

photo-dec-02-9-24-17-am

Today I ran down the steepest side of the hill. I ran down the hill and out along the highway and reached the nature preserve at just short of 5 miles. I felt pretty tired on this first part. Surprisingly so. But once I started on those trails I felt so much better. There is just something about getting out in nature. Those leaves crunching under your feet. Alone except the mammoth trees towering over head. These are the things that propel me.

photo-dec-02-9-25-04-am

I used that energy to hit all the trails available at Plymouth Woods. The Red Trail, The Blue Trail, The Orange Trail, and Another loop on Red. It was a tough hilly run but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn’t fast, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to get out for a run and enjoy myself and just see what I could do. While I was at Plymouth the weather started to turn against me. I am pretty sure I was being pelted with ice pellets at one point.

photo-dec-02-9-24-26-am
This photo captures a lot of how it felt running in the gloom and darkness of overcast skies and bad weather. But I still enjoyed it.

I left Plymouth woods and headed back down the highway towards home and the hill that lie ahead. The way back was a little down hill so I actually achieved a decent pace for me. But the whole way back I was consumed of thoughts of the hill that loomed ahead of me.

photo-dec-02-9-33-19-am
This is what it looks like if you look out straight ahead from one of the slopes you descend at Plymouth Woods.

I got to the bottom of Combs Hill Rd felling pretty good, but I knew I could never run up that slope. So I didn’t and I didn’t feel bad about it. I did the best I could so that I could cover the rest of the distance to get back home once I got to the top. If I had tried to run I would likely have ended up just slowly walking the last mile or two back home and I was not having that. I wanted to have something left in the tank to get me home. It did not help that the weather was turning or it was just getting colder due to the increased elevation, but it was getting windy and cold. But I pushed on. It actually helped to motivate me to run. It was too cold to walk.

photo-dec-02-9-33-26-am
This is what the slope actually looks like if you look down the hill, and it gets steeper as you go.

When I got back home I wasn’t quite to 12 miles so I actually ran past my house and then back to it so I could get to 12. I was hoping the run would be closer to 13 miles but it wasn’t quite as long as I thought it would be. Maybe I will add another loop in the woods next time.

I got back and I was exhausted. My legs were wobbly and sore. I walked more than I would have liked, particularly after surmounting Combs hill on the way back, but I made it. I achieved my goal. I challenged myself and I pushed myself and I did it. This is why I love running. I can challenge myself. I can test my limits and I can learn about myself and I can adapt and get stronger. Now, what is the next challenge…..

Check out the profile of this run on Garmin Connect.

photo-dec-02-11-11-04-am
I arrived back home happy and tired. Feeling accomplished.

Adirondack Hike

Saturday October, 5th I woke up at 3:00 AM to ride with a friend five hours to the High Peaks region of the Adirondack park in NY. Our plan was to summit two of the 46 high peaks in the region on our hike. We planned to hike up Giant Mountain and then depending on time, as we had to drive back that night and wanted to be off the mountain before dark, hike Rocky Peak Ridge. Giant Mountain is the 12th highest peak out of the Adirondack 46 and Rocky Peak Ridge is number 20 on the list.

This was a new experience for me.  I had hiked a couple of mountains earlier in the year in the Adirondack region but both of them were well under 4,000 feet high and well under 2,000 feet of elevation gained during the hike. Both Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge are over 4,000 feet high and Giant Mountain has an elevation gain of approximately 3,000 feet during a three-mile hike. So, while I had a little experience on mountains it was nothing like this. I asked my friend to plan a hike that would be challenging and boy did he ever deliver.
We set a good pace on our hike up Giant Mountain reaching the summit in approximately two hours and fifteen minutes using the Zander Scott Trail route near Chapel Pond. Then we decided since we had plenty of time to get down before daylight and we still felt pretty good we would take the 1.2 mile hike down then back up to Rocky Peak Ridge. This was the most challenging part of the hike for me. There were many steep sections going both up and down requiring me to use trees and other handholds to help pull myself up or hold on while I lowered myself down. We rested for about a half an hour on Rocky Peak Ridge before heady back over to Giant Mountain and then back down off the mountain.
On the way back from Rocky Peak Ridge to Giant Mountain, the fatigue really began to set in for me. I was really struggling both physically and mentally to keep going. I needed frequent rests to gather myself. I really had to stop and get myself together physically and mentally. For a relatively short 1.2 miles back it felt like forever due to the challenging terrain. Realistically there was nothing I could do but suck it up and press on because I wasn’t getting off the mountain without getting back over to Giant. We completed the round trip hike in approximately seven hours and twelve minutes. That seems like a pretty good pace to me considering the total distance was 8.4 miles.

The only downside to the trip was the weather. The temperature itself wasn’t too bad. IT was in the mid to lower sixties for a high, which for me is good when I will be exerting myself quite a bit on a hike. But at the top of the mountain it was cold requiring us to don jackets to stay warm enough to stand at the summit and enjoy it for even a short period of time. The other part of the weather that made the trip a little disappointing was that it was completely cloudy. So from the summits of either mountain we could not see much of anything. Even the trees on the summit with us were partially obscured by the clouds. So, we couldn’t enjoy the fall scenery from the summit, but fortunately along the hike up Giant Mountain there are many areas where the trail comes out of the woods into an exposed area where the surrounding area can be viewed from.

I try to take the positive view of the experience of not being able to see the scenery from the summit due to clouds. As we hiked up the mountain, we could see the peaks of the mountains around us and several of them appeared to be in the clouds. So in a way I feel fortunate to not have been able to have a clear view of the surrounding area from the summit. Anyone can get to see nice scenery. But you have to climb a mountain to get to stand in a cloud. It was quite an experience I could feel the moisture and see it. It obscured vision at just several feet.
I had a great time overall and I am looking forward to my next trip to the Adirondack region.