Tag Archives: life

27 Miles on FLT with Friends

I have written often about how running has really been this synergy for me that has allowed me to combine many of the things I enjoy together in new ways. I have always loved getting out into nature, but previously I did not know very many people that loved getting out into nature the same way I did. Now that I have connected with and made friends with so many runners who enjoy nature the way I do it has opened up a whole new world of experiences for me. I can now spend hours and hours outside moving through nature with friends.

Previously I decided I wanted to challenge myself to go out on the trails for a long trail run that ended up being 31 miles (For that story you can link here Finger Lakes Trail Run/Hike). I went alone, because I didn’t know anyone else who I thought would enjoy that. After spending more time getting to know other runners. I decided I wanted to go out and try it again and invited some friends for a 26-mile adventure. It went from a solo adventure to a party of three.

 

This year I was already planning to run a trail marathon and a 50k so I hadn’t really thought about planning any independent adventures. Then my friends who accompanied me on the last suggested that I should plan another long run for us. I want to make this very clear for the record. I was asked to plan a long run for us to adventure on. It was Not my idea. Somehow, I always get the “blame” for these crazy running things that people in my orbit tend to be sucked into. So, I undertook the task of developing a plan for a run.

 

We wanted to run about 26miles. No Further. I was warned. I also wanted this to be a new adventure. We are fortunate to live near the Finger Lakes Trail that traverses most of the southern area of NY. We wanted to explore a new section of the FLT since we had explored one section last time. Part of the challenge of planning this run was the distance and the way the maps are laid out. I am not great at using maps and measuring distances and orienteering etc. On the FLT website, each map section shows its total distance. We knew where we wanted to end so we only had to plot the distance back to where we would start. The problem arose from the fact that the end point was just off of one map section and in the beginning of another map section and not right along the trail. So I had to estimate the distance we would travel on that new map section. Then subtract that from the beginning. If we had been able to stay only on one map section, we would have been able to know exactly how much we would run. Therefore, I subtracted the amount I thought we would run over onto the new map section from the beginning of the map section where we planned most of the run to be. I figured it would be a safe bet if we stated at Birdseye Hollow Park, It was right on the FLT, and we would end in the Sugar Hill State Forest area. Turns out my map skills were off a little bit, about 4 miles, and I would never hear the end of it.

 

I asked some more of our friends that we knew liked to do some trail running if they would be interested in an adventure that would be part run, part hike and likely take all day traversing 26 miles of the FLT. It turns out there are more people out there that want to explore 26 miles on the Finger Lakes Trail. Our number grew from 3 people last year to 5 people this year.

I am the kind of person who enjoys time alone on the trails be it running, hiking, or photographing nature, but there is something to be said for spending an extended period of time out in nature with friends. My wife and I have always enjoyed camping and hiking together, but now I was becoming part of an expanding group of friends that I can explore the wonders of nature with.

 

The beginning heading out of Birds Eye Hollow Park was a nice long relatively flat runnable section. We loved finding a really nice lean-to and camping spot during the early portion of the run. We were all anxious to reach the “Food Truck” at the halfway point. Then the never ending climbing started. When we reached the Sugar Hill area, we started to be ready to be done, some of us more than others. Then we eventually found the road and called it the finish line.

 

Combine running; nature, laughing, talking, and friendship with time, physical challenge, and exhaustion and you are in for a good time. Running, talking, and laughing with your friends while passing through great natural scenery is really a part of life everyone should experience. We weren’t out there to race; we were out there to just have fun and enjoy nature and enjoy each other’s company. I think that this is an aspect that gets lost sometimes in our overly competitive society. Have fun, enjoy the things you enjoy, and find some friends to share it with. I have been very fortunate to meet these friends.

Some of us have a tendency to have some sort of new unfortunate incident on every trail. Some of us get mad at the never-ending trails. Some of us we learned have never-ending song lyrics and dance moves that they let out on the trails. Some of us carry around a camera and photograph it all. Some of us are perfect steady companionship and put up with all the nonsense.

10 Days of Freedom

I went on a 10 day camping trip to the Adirondacks. I reserved campsites at two different campgrounds because I couldn’t get 10 days straight at one site. That is the extent of the planning I did for this trip. I had lots of ideas running through my mind of what I wanted to do, but I did not actual planning of what I was going to do or when I was going to do it. I am not the kind of person that needs to have an itinerary of my day planned out or me on trips, but generally I do plan when I am going to do big things during a trip. But for this trip I didn’t even know what the big things I was going to do were. I was just going to wing it and have a nice relaxing trip. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.

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The more I thought about this trip leading up to it the more I thought about all the things I could possibly do during a 10 day trip to the Adirondacks. While I did not plan out specific details I knew in general what I wanted to do was spend a lot of time in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. So that lead me to reason 1 that I decided to camp at Meadowbrook Campground. It was the closest state campground to the High Peaks region as far as I could tell. So I would have less traveling. This worked out perfectly because I really didn’t’ have to drive far at all for any of the hiking I did even when I was outside the High Peaks region. Reason 2 I chose Meadowbrook Campground was that it had a trail that lead directly from the campground out into the forest and up a mountain. I figured I could run or hike that as much as I wanted with no travel involved at all. In my mind I figured I would be on that trail repeatedly. In reality I only accessed the trail one time and that was for my one and only trail run during the trip. I think this was in large part due to the fact that the mountain had no view at all. When I imagined it I thought it would be perfect for hiking up in the evening and watching the sun set, but since the mountain summit was completely forested there would be no watching of sunsets. Reason 3 for choosing to camp at Meadowbrook Campground was that it was only 4 miles from Lake Placid and I reasoned that would allow me to literally run into town any time I wanted. I wouldn’t even need to drive if I wanted to go to town. Running 8 miles in a day has become something I do regularly. Turns out I never did that at all, and I was kind of surprised as to why.

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I purposefully chose to go on this trip alone. I have camped alone before. I enjoy a certain amount of solitude. It is peaceful and relaxing to me. However, it turns out that going to a small relatively bustling tourist town, Lake Placid, alone is not peaceful for me. It is the exact opposite. It was extremely anxiety inducing. I don’t know if it is because I am generally an introverted person or what but wandering around this small town amongst the other tourists was very stressful for me. I could not relax. The only things I did while I was there was go to REI and a bookstore to look for trail maps and was not relaxing at all that made things worse, go down to the park by the lake which was better than being on the strip with all the businesses, and go to the small art gallery. The art gallery was the only place in Lake Placid where I felt relaxed and calm. I love the art scene and was able to just relax and enjoy the artwork. I only stayed in ton about an hour and a half and did not return. I learned there is a very big difference between solitude and being alone in a crowd.

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I imagined so many things that I could do on this trip: Run up mountains, Hike a mountain every day, Trail running, Photography, Read books, Write, Relax, Nap in my hammock. While I don’t need plans I think that I left my possibilities so wide open that even making a decision as to what to do was anxiety evoking at times. Sometime making the decision of what to do when you can literally do anything is the hardest thing to do of them all. I did manage to fit a little bit of everything into my trip but not as much of any one thing as I imagined I would.

I ran up a mountain. I hiked up 7 mountains. I did a little road running. I read 2 books cover to cover and started a third. I spent some time writing my book. I sat around relaxing. And best of all I took many naps in my hammock at whatever time of day I felt like it. I even slept in it out under the stars one night. A funny side effect of having so many things you would like to do and the very real possibility of doing them all is that you then have to pack like you might do any or all of them. And you have to pack like you might decide to do that one activity a lot if you want to be able to do it whenever you want as much as you want to. There was a real possibility that I would decide to hike every day or that I would run every day. Those two activities require certain types of gear and most importantly proper clothing to enjoy them. I literally packed just about all my running clothes and all my regular summer clothes which at this point are hiking clothes. I think I had one duffle back full of regular clothes and a separate one of the same size of jut running clothes. I give a lot of my friends grief for having a lot of running shoes, but I also have a lot of shoes. They are all just very task specific shoes and some of which I have had for a long time. I literally took a garbage bag full of shoes on this trip. I took multiple pairs of hiking shoes, road running shoes, trail running shoes, casual shoes, and a pair of sandals. It doesn’t help the packing situation when you have size 14 feet either.

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Also, in case you haven’t noticed the photographs accompanying this post I am also a photographer. This trip presented a plethora of photographic possibilities. I wanted to be prepared for them all. I would not want to be caught without a camera and miss out on a good photographic opportunity due to being unprepared. I have a bunch of gear but not all gear is suitable for each type of situation. I packed 2 DSLR camera bodies, 4 DSLR camera lenses, 2 mirror less camera bodies each with their own lens, 2 GoPros, 2 small tripods, and other assorted gear. If I am going to be running I need a camera I can carry and access while I am out running so a GoPro or small mirror less camera. If I am hiking up a mountain I probably will only be able to bring one camera body and one lens with me. If I am hiking a flat trail I have many more options available and could carry multiple camera bodies and multiple lenses plus additional gear.

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The purpose of this trip was to get out of the daily routine, to stop being stuck in a rut and just relax and enjoy life. I wanted some freedom. What I learned is that even if you have the freedom to do anything you want, you still can’t do everything that you want. Even on a trip with no limits on free time. No constraints. No plans. A trip where I was completely in control of what I would do. There simply are not enough hours in the day to do all the things one might want to do. Even over a 10 day trip. The depressing thing about that is, if there is not enough time to enjoy all the things one might want to do when we have the freedom to just do it how in the world are we supposed to find time to do the things we love when we have all the time constraints that daily life places on us. I am not sure what the answer to this is. I feel like it has something to do with take time out of every day to do one thing that you love. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small. It doesn’t matter if it is accomplishing a monumental task you never thought you would get done or doing some tiny seemingly insignificant thing. It doesn’t matter if it is extraordinary or mundane. Do what you love and love what you do. Find time and find peace in that.

I didn’t do all the things I imagined I would on this trip but I grabbed every minute of peace and joy I could and I embraced it with no regrets and it was a great trip.

Haystack Mountain

This was a very unstructured trip. I really had no idea what I was going to do as far as specifics. I knew I wanted to hike up several of the high peaks. No idea which ones really. No plans as to what hikes to do when. I had a few guide books to help me sort things out. But when I drove from my camp to Lake Placid and saw a sign for the trail head to Haystack Mountain, one of the 46 high peaks, just a few miles down the road I decided that was a perfect opportunity to take on that hike.

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This was about the best view I was able to get at the summit.

I looked at one of my guide books that I had and looked up some info on the hike for Haystack Mountain. The book I had talked about it being quite  along hike that could take up to all day. So I prepared accordingly. I packed my Nathan pack with plenty of food and two liters of water. When I train for long trail runs I try to have a food option for every hour I would be out there so I made that my standard for hiking. I got up early in the morning and set out prepared to spend potentially the whole day on the trails.

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The hike was pretty tough and the heat did not help. It was well into the 80’s that day. When I reached the summit I was greeted with fog. There was not much to be seen. I stayed on the summit for a while hoping that the fog would clear. I had no such luck.

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The fog cover, however, did allow me to shift my focus from distant landscape photography to examining the nature literally right at my feet. As I not so patiently waited to see if the fog would clear, I began to examine the plant life and flowers that were making that mountain summit their home.

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Despite the lack of scenery at the summit, the trail itself was full of scenery. It is difficult to understate the beauty of the scenery you are surrounded with in the Adirondacks and the trail up Haystack did not disappoint. The Adirondacks are so much more than mountains. I climbed this mountain hoping to see expansive mountain vistas. I wanted to photograph the iconic mountain landscape that everyone recognizes as a feature of the Adirondacks.

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Instead I had my focus shifted from what is out there to what is right below my feet. What does this trail right here right now have to offer me. Sometimes just having a mental shift will really help things clarify in one’s mind. Instead of being disappointed by the lack of visibility at the summit I was in awe of the surrounding forest. I took my time and absorbed the wilderness air. I just let myself look out across the forest and see what was there and focus on it and try to capture images that would tell the story of what the trail is like.

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There are downed trees. There are woodland streams. There is graceful forest land with a narrow path carved in between for miles and miles. And there are of course on of my favorite features, the enormous boulders just randomly deposited in the forest. These really captivate me because in the woods I typically inhabit in the Finger Lakes Region of New York you do not see these types of features.

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I am not sure if I did something wrong or if my starting point was just different from that in the guide-book, but it did not take me nearly as long as I had expected it to take for me to hike tot he summit and back down to the trail head. That was fine with me because it meant I had more time for exploring other areas in the afternoon.

I’m Baa-aack

I’ve been back from my trip to the Adirondacks for a few days now and I am in the middle of processing over 2000 photos as well as some time lapse footage that I took on this trip. That is quite a low number of photos for me to take on a 10 day trip, but that was the point and I think I made the most of it. If you dislike gorgeous photographs of amazing places you better stop following me here and on all of my social media channels because I think that a barrage of posts and photos from this trip is soon to follow. I hope you enjoy.

Away From My Desk

Today I am heading out on a camping trip. I am going up to the Adirondacks in upstate NY for some fun and relaxation on my own. People like to say how they are going to disconnect and go off the grid and not use technology while they are away so they can enjoy themselves and live in the moment. I am not really sure that this is the answer, at least not for me. I am not going to stay away from my technology. Technology is what allows me to do what I do. I am going to try to be more present in the moment though.

What that means for me is I am going to stay mostly away from social media. I may check in from time to time and browse my feeds, hopefully a lot less frequently then I do on an average day, but I won’t post any live updates on what I am doing on this trip. No sharing my “Awesome Adventure” with you live. I will have plenty of time to share with you when I return. I will talk to my wife and text with her. That might be the extent of any live updating I do. I hope that it is. Who knows. I may fail at this and you might see me all the time. I have never tried to quit social media before. I believe it has value and enjoy using it. But I also believe it keeps me from getting things done at times. So instead of live updates from me I have scheduled some posts to go up while I am out in the woods camping and working on new projects to share in the future. I am hoping that most if not all of them will be new things you have not seen before. So that’s what will be going on for my web presence for about 10 days.

So what will I be doing on those 10 days? My plan is to engage in all the things I love and don’t get to spend enough time doing on a regular basis. And that is one of the reasons I am specifically not going tech free. My tech allows me to do what I love. I am a photographer therefore I need my gear. I will have more camera gear with my than camping specific gear. I am going to be out there trying to capture exciting photos from my adventure. Then I can share those along with my stories when I come back. Speaking of stories I plan to do a lot of writing on this trip. For me writing requires a lap top. I am going to work on my book and maybe some other things while I am out connecting with the woods.

The things I will be doing that do not require technology will be running, hiking, and hopefully sleeping out under the stars in my hammock. I am camping about 4 miles from Lake Placid and I picked this spot purposefully so that if I wanted to I could literally run down into town and just hang out for a while and then run back to camp, easy peasy. I also picked this spot because I love climbing the mountains and I think this location allows me easiest access as a home base camp to go out exploring each day and hike a new one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks. I have already climbed 3 of them and I would like to add several more before this trip is over. Running is also on the agenda. I don’t know how much I will do exactly but I know I will do some. I have no real plan exactly for that. I will probably be bringing more running clothes with me than anything else. Just so I have plenty of options and opportunity to run whenever it strikes me to run. I really want to try to at least run up one of the high peaks and back down. However, at this point I have no specific plan. Also, another reason I selected my camping location is because there is a trail that leaves from the campground that leads to the summit of a smaller mountain, Scarface Mountain, and I like the idea of being able to summit that mountain whenever I feel like it without having to go anywhere. I would love to get to the summit to watch a sunrise and a sunset then I can just run or hike back down to camp. There really are just endless options of what I can do while I am out there so I am sure I won’t get to everything. But while I am out there enjoying myself I am going to try to record as much of it as is possible on any one of the various cameras I will have with me on this trip.

I also want to get in a decent amount of relaxation. I spent the first half of the year training for my first 50k and while it has been a fun year so far I don’t think I have taken enough time to just sit and relax and I think it has taken a toll on me. I want to lie in my hammock and relax and nap. Or sit back and read a book. I have several on the pile that I need to read and they will all join me on this trip and I will see how many I get through. Last time I took a solo trip I read several books cover to cover, so hopefully I will find some time to read which I do enjoy but have been too tired and to rushed to spend time doing.

Most of all I hope to recharge the batteries doing all the things I love and come back feeling rejuvenated so I can do more and share more with you. I’ll see you in 10 days.

 

 

How to find time to do what we love:

My life has taken so many twists and turns that I would never have imagined.

Very little of my life includes anything I would have imagined for myself as I entered adulthood.

I think one reason for that is that I live my life by feeling and emotion and inspiration. I follow the things that I am passionate about and those things naturally evolve over time and take you far afield from where you ever thought you’d go.

In my pursuit of goals and dreams and happiness I have made decisions that have had consequences. These consequences result in holding me back from truly pursuing my dreams with all my energy. This is the reality we all live in. Our actions have consequences and they cannot be seen at the time. We do the best we can. We stumble and we fall but we get back up again.

For many of us who are motivated to chase dreams and goals we are held back by the practical realities of life. Our jobs and our bills prevent us from pursuing our best selves.

If we are lucky we can carve out enough time outside of our jobs to pursue one other passion on a part time basis. But what if there are more than one element of life we are passionate about.

This is where I am at the present moment. I feel like one of my passions, pursuit of knowledge and education was already snuffed out by the pressures of practical reality and not being able to fit it in with my job and other passions.

Now I struggle as I near a decade at a job that I feel only holds me back, preventing me from being my best self.
My passion for photography and for running has grown over the years driving me to do more and more. I increasingly want to expand what I do. I want to offer more and more through my photography. I want to take on more different and challenging events in running. At this point it just feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to work my 9 to 5 job and pursue both of these passions in a way that makes me happy.

I often feel like I need to choose one over the other. Prioritize one over the other. I can either be the type of photographer I want to be or I can be the type of runner I want to be. Practical reality dictates that I need to choose. Am I destined to be unsatisfied in both pursuits if I try to chase both dreams and work a regular job. Is that a life I can be happy with?

Unfortunately the way life works you sometimes don’t learn what truly makes you happy and what you truly want to devote your life to until later in life. Often by that time we have already made a series of choices that has led us down a particular path or more likely locked us into place on a track. I am in the process of accelerating my car along the track to where I can jump the track and escape the life I inadvertently locked myself into.

This is why I need your support. You are the reason I do what I do. I write and I create art for you. I want to share my experiences and my art with you and only through your support will I be able to do so. Only with your support will I be able to create work that is worthy of you. So please support me on Patreon at the following link so I can continue to grow my experiences and so I can jump the track and provide better for you. You can contribute as little as $1 or as much as you like. Any amount is greatly appreciated. You can also earn rewards by contributing at different levels.

Support my work here: https://www.patreon.com/KRNaturalPhoto

What I learned from running 31 miles

There are many reasons to run. One reason that I run is because I feel like running teaches me about life. There are so many life lessons that can be learned through running. I have learned so much about myself from this journey I have taken into running.

One thing I have learned is something that might sound totally obvious. If you want to accomplish something it takes work. You might be thinking, “Well of course it does.” Let me explain what I mean.

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I have been very fortunate in my life. I have been able to accomplish a lot of goals I have set my sights on in my life. Things I never would have thought I would do. I graduated college. I earned a masters degree. I continued grad school after my master’s degree. I learned photograph and became pretty good at it. I sold photographs. I became a published writer and photographer. I ran a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon, then a 25k. I swear I am not just trying to humble brag. I am very proud of those achievements and they took effort, but they did not take maximum effort.

There were many things I coasted on using mostly natural ability or did the bare minimum to get by. Many things I just chipped away slowly at without a big surge of effort. Very few things in life have I put my maximal effort into, yet I have been able to achieve a lot. I am very fortunate. I try to stay humble.

I am not a naturally gifted runner. No one would mistake me for one and if you saw me on the streets you would not likely think I am a runner. But I have been able to do a lot in running. I have been able to increase the distances I have run over time by just adding a little more effort and a little more training each time. I never put in maximal effort to achieve the best I could do at an event.  I did the bare minimum to achieve the desired outcome.

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This year I had my sights set on something much bigger. I was going to double the distance I had ever run from a 25k to a 50k and not only that I was going to run a very challenging 50k. Not only did I want to accomplish this goal I wanted to do as well as I could at it. I wanted to enjoy this accomplishment throughout the process when I ran the race. I did not want to suffer through it which would be the case if I put in less than my best effort in training. I committed to training for this race like I have never trained before. I trained hard. I ran when I didn’t want to run. I ran in conditions I didn’t want to run in. I was focused and determined to succeed at this and do the best I could and that required being committed to the whole process and not just the final end goal.

All that hard work and determination prepared me to run the race of my life. I did not win the race, not even close. That wasn’t even a consideration for me. But I did run the best race I could at that time. I was prepared to run the best I could because I put in the work. I enjoyed running a tough race. I did not suffer through it. It was a challenging experience but the kind of challenge that makes you feel good.

Now I am ready to commit to a new goal. One I have thought about and talked about off and on for a long time. I have worked on it in fits and starts. It is one of the many things that took a back seat to my commitment to training for a 50k. But that training has taught me that I am ready and that if I commit to the process I can succeed.

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Over the years I have talked about writing a book. I started writing it over a decade ago. I have worked on it off and on. I have started working on query letters and book proposals on and off over the last few years. I am always slowly inching closer to maybe possibly some day accomplishing this goal. Now things are going to change.

I love the quote my Michael Jordan where he says “I have failed over and over again, and that is why I succeed.” I failed to complete my PhD because I was not committed enough to the process I was not putting in the work I needed to. If I had unlimited time to work on it I probably would have gotten it done, but that is not how things work. I ran out of time because I didn’t commit enough time and energy to it. Well, I am going to learn from that failure and from this success. My future goals will be approached from a new direction.

Starting now I am going to commit to the goal of writing a book the same way I committed to running a 50k. I am going to be determined to working on the book process 5 days a week. Working on the book will be my number one priority on the list of tasks to get done. Everything else will have to play second fiddle and get balanced and worked on after my work for the day is done on the book. I will work on the book 1 hour a day 3 days a week during the work week. I will work on the book 2 to 4 hours a day on weekends. This will be just like the amount of time I committed to training for and running a 50k. This is a goal I will achieve and it will not be some goal that I will achieve some day. It will be a goal I will achieve soon.

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I will put in the work I need to get this done. Other projects that I want to pursue may have to be put on the shelf until this one is complete. Some things that are ongoing projects will be scaled back while I work on this goal with singular determination. One thing that means is that there may be less writing here on my website. I hope that everyone following me will still stay in touch and reach out to ask me how things are going. I do love to write so I will still try to post regularly here. I will try to have more short posts so I can stay in touch.

The first task I need to accomplish for this goal is to finish writing my book proposal. In its current form it is probably 50% complete. I need to research some items and then complete it and send it out to agents. Those are my next steps. Wish me luck and feel free to send me as many messages as you’d like regarding this. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience in this realm as I chase this dream.

What do you think I will be writing a book about? Let me hear your guesses.

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon at KRNaturalPhoto and join with the others who already do so I can continue to work on projects like this. You can support me for as little as $1 a month.

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