Author Archives: The Zen Hiker

About The Zen Hiker

I am a Special Education Coordinator at a public high school in the lower Hudson Valley in Westchester County, New York. As you can see by the title of the blog, hiking is what I love to do. I get out as much as I can and although I love going to Anthony's Nose, I try to get to different spots in the area. One great thing about living in the Hudson Valley is the abundance of great hikes. You can do the same hike in different seasons and it will be as if you were hiking that trail for the first time. It doesn't get much better than that!

Another Victim Of Technology?

no-book-sign.jpg

Just Kindles…

I have always had a love for books, especially those that were full of adventure and mystery. The Hardy Boys first mesmerized me when I was nine with their adventures. I remember running “pell-mell” in our back yard with my friends. Then came Stephen King and his own unique kind of crazy. When I got into high school I traveled with Kerouac, the Merry Pranksters, and the Hells Angels as they each created their own individual kind of mayhem. And I devoured them all.

I remember scouring the shelves in book stores looking for something to read. I usually didn’t stray much from the familiar, but at times I would take a leap of faith and read something from a genre that I wasn’t familiar with or maybe just didn’t like. For me at that age that was a big deal. These days I’ll read just about anything.

I remember the smell of new books and how it was almost intoxicating. I remember folding the crease of the page that I left off on instead of using a bookmark. I also remember putting books down and then spending hours trying to find them. I never read one book at a time. If I saw a book I wanted to read, I bought it and started reading that one as well.

Today, however, things have changed greatly. My Kindle has sanitized the entire process of reading. No more browsing through a bookstore or feeling the texture of the pages as you become part of the story. No more creased pages or paper bookmarks. Now you’re only a click away from any book that you desire.

Personally, I think that it is sad that kids today may never experience the smell of a new book or enjoy the entire process of going to the bookstore and finding something to read. Technology has made it too easy. It seems that technology is doing this with everything.

The good thing is I will never run out of anything to read.

 

Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Poles (Part 1)

trekking poles

One of the other casualties of my pre-empted backpacking trip last summer was one of my hiking poles. As I planted the right pole after my foot was stuck in the rock, I fell to my right and the pole snapped in half. Now I had used these Black Diamond poles for many years and never had a problem with them. Of course, this was an extraordinary circumstance so the years of service they had given me made a new pair of them worth looking at again.

So now that hiking season is almost here and my ankle is pretty much operating at 100%, I decided to get a new pair of hiking/trekking poles. As I do with any potential gear that I might purchase, I spend a great deal of time researching what would be the best poles to buy. After doing what amounted to several hours of comparing specs, prices, and reviews, my search brought me right back to Black Diamond. Although I have used Leki poles in the past, I now always end up with Black Diamond.

So I ended up buying the Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Poles.  Originally priced at $139.95, I paid $83.97, a nice 40% savings (from Amazon). Here are the specs:

Size: 68-140cm 
Color: Black/Red
  • Imported
  • 2″ high
  • 3″ wide
  • Dual-density grip and 360-degree padded webbing strap
  • Non-slip foam grip extension
  • Control Shock Technology
  • Double Flick Lock Pro
  • Interchangeable carbide Tech Tips and low-profile trekking baskets

 

Although I haven’t been out hiking with these poles yet, I have had a chance to use them.

Trying to get to down the hill to my car on ice-laden snow is no easy task. Using the poles

made it much easier to down the hill and into my car. I can’t wait to get out on to the trail

to really test them out. When I do that I’ll post a more in-depth review.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

No Cell, No Problem

no cell

Today I left my cell phone at home. And much to my surprise, I didn’t even miss it. Not for a minute. I thought for sure that I would think about it all day long, that I would pine away until the time came when I would have my phone again in my sweaty hands. But no, none of that happened. I didn’t break out in a sweat, the sky didn’t fall and the world didn’t end.

When I told my students what I had done, they were more panicked than I was. There I was, sitting at my desk, pondering what I was planning on doing that day and the questions came at me rapid fire. “What are you going to do?” “What if you miss a text or a phone call?” “How will people know where you are and what you are doing?” As deftly as I could, I dodged each of the questions as if my non-existent street cred might be ruined.

How could I leave my house and come to work without my cell and survive? It’s a question I knew I had to find the answer to. But then I started to realize how absurd this all was. Why should I be worried that I left my celly at home? I have a landline in my office that anyone who needs to can get in touch with me if they need to. So why?

Can we all agree that we are all way too dependent on these and other electronic devices? Why do we need a cell phone with us 24/7? I know I may be showing my age here, but back in the day when I was a teenager, we all seemed to be able to get in touch with everyone we needed to when we needed to. It was as simple as finding a pay phone.

But today was liberating. I felt free. I wasn’t looking at my cell every two seconds for texts, missed calls and news feeds. I didn’t even worry that I might be missing something. What is that called? FOMO? Fear of missing out? The entire day seemed as if I was floating on a cloud and didn’t have a care in the world. And I didn’t even care who knew it.

But what will happen tomorrow? Will I forget it at home again? Will I choose to leave it at home? I don’t have an answer for you. Anything could happen.

 

 

 

Another Storm??

I know that you had to just sit through a rhyme.

But listening to the news they say it’s that time.

Snow and ice will soon start to fall,

But is it possible that we’ll get any call?

It’s all due to timing as the storm starts to churn,

But will the wind blow and force it to turn?

No, I don’t think it will sway,

Or hope that it moves and indeed goes away.

So all we can do is wait, wait and wait,

And let’s hope that the nasties don’t make us too late.

So maybe it’s early, we’ll just have to see,

If they don’t let us go, should we just then flee?

The Itch Is Back…

IMG_6592_edited

Better hiking days are ahead!!!!!!

As I sit here writing this, a cold freezing rain has finally stopped falling, leaving that annoying glaze of ice on everything. It doesn’t look so bad, but you know the second you step on it you’re going for a ride.

I don’t mind the snow so much, but freezing rain, sleet, and ice are a whole different ball game. The sound of it hitting the ground sounds fills me with a feeling of dread, of impending doom. Especially if I happen to be driving or hiking.

Anyway, I am officially done with winter. Usually, I don’t care if it hangs around and we get a few more storms than we are used to, but I’ve had it already. The snow and freezing rain can stay away and the cold can stay where it belongs (Canada, eh). We need spring here immediately.

But here’s the point of this post. Here’s the bottom line.

Something always happens every year around this time. The itch returns. It’s kind of like at Christmas where instead of dreams of sugar plums dancing in my head, I start dreaming of hikes and then I start giving my hiking gear the once over. That knowing look that my pack and I will soon be back in the woods, watching spring turn to summer and  I spend about twenty minutes going through my day pack to make sure that I have everything that I need. When it dawns on me that I am not going out, disappointment sets in and I put everything back in the pack with the same care as handling a newborn. I know that day will come.

So now I wait. Looking at the weather forecast, I don’t think that winter is done with us and we will get more of the white stuff before we can enjoy spring.

It wasn’t that long ago where I would head out in just about any weather condition. It didn’t matter what the weather was like, I would go hiking. My friend and I even hiked to Anthony’s Nose in the middle of a blizzard about twenty years ago. Needless to say,  I do not recommend that.

And then I fractured my ankle last June. Although it has been almost eight months since the fracture and subsequent surgery, I have only been hiking one time. I missed the entire summer, fall and winter days that haven’t been so bad. That has made the itch to get back outside that much worse.

So this year I will wait until the trails are clear. I know it may sound stupid, but I am waiting strictly out of fear. The fear that I may slip and fall again. I have been hiking for about forty years and never worried. Now I do.

Looking at the big picture, however, It’s probably for the best. Until the time comes I can keep unpacking and repacking my day pack.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Are You Kidding Me?

the dude

WTF??? Snow on a day off??

We’re off for two days and that’s pretty cool.

Sitting at home and away from our school.

Laying around, not doing a thing.

I’m so damn happy I think  I might sing.

So imagine the horror when I heard a strange sound.

A winter weather advisory in place for our town. 

I can’t even think, I might even cry,

Crappy bad weather will fall from the sky.

But why would it come, when we don’t have to work,

Someone sure hates us, they must think we’re all jerks

Wasting a snow day is a criminal act,

Any good teacher will back that as fact.

So tomorrow will come, freezing rain and the snow,

A harsh wind is coming and soon it will blow.

I know it’s a joke that’s not even funny,

I want my days off to be all warm and sunny.

So save all that snow and cold freezing rain,

For days that we work to keep us all sane.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

How To Cure The Non-Hiking Blues

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

-John Burroughs

I came across the following statement/question as I was perusing a Facebook page that dealt with hiking earlier:

How do you guys deal with the “9-5” grind? I literally can’t focus on anything else except going on my next hike. And I find that I struggle to deal with all of the bullshit that coworkers are.

So how do you deal with the constant urge to get out and hike during the workday? Obviously, you need money not only to live but to be able to go out on the adventures that you find yourself focusing on during the workday. So what you have to do is get it out of your mind is to use your time after the work day to get ready for that next hike.

What can you do after work and in between hikes? Here’s a list:

  1. Keep your gear in good condition. Clean your pack inside and out. Hang it to dry if you were hiking in the rain.
  2. Clean your boots. Check your laces for frays, if they are wet, set them somewhere to dry. Don’t put them near a heat source because the excessive dry heat could damage them.
  3. Replace anything that you used on the hike. First aid equipment, duct tape, sunscreen and especially TP.
  4. Figure out how to work that GPS that you bought and never figured out.
  5. Clean your trekking poles.
  6. If needed, clean your maps.
  7. Plan your next hike. And the one after that and the one after that. I do this and it allows me to focus on my work during the day and my hikes at night.
  8. Clean your hiking clothes every so often. Now I get it that if you are on a three or four-day adventure, you might start to smell. But day hikers really have no reason to smell like a thru-hiker.
  9. Learn how to use a compass and try navigating a hike.
  10. Plan hikes you might not necessarily go on. For instance, I almost never hike in the rain. This year, my goal is to do exactly that as often as I can.
  11. Read anything and everything on the internet about hiking. New gear, hikes, thru-hiker stories, wilderness first aid, hikers blogs.
  12. Youtube is a fascinating outlet for people doing everything that I have listed above. As with everything else the quality of some videos are not as good as others, but following AT and PCT thru hiker vlogs are a wonder in themselves.
  13. If you photograph or video your hikes, make sure your batteries are charged and your gear is ready to go.
  14. If you can’t get outside to hike or walk, get on a stationary bike to get in shape for those spring hikes.

So there you go, If all you can do is think about hiking at work, do it at home. Not only will you save yourself trouble at your job but you will also be better prepared for your next outdoor adventure.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

HAPPY HIKING!!!