Tag Archives: backpacking

Two Must See Documentaries About The Appalachian Trail (And One Book)

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The white blaze of the AT

I had the opportunity this morning to watch two excellent documentaries on the Appalachian Trail. The first, White Blaze-Stories From Appalachian Trail, was filled with interviews of thru hikers explaining not only why they decided to hike the AT, but also had it had changed them.

This documentary features M.J. Eberhart, also known on trail as the “Nimblewill Nomad.” His insight and  and wisdom is second to none as he has been hiking for more years than most people have been alive. His hiking accomplishments are many, and to me the most amazing is that at the age of 60 he hiked from the Florida Keys to the far North of Quebec. That is an astounding 4,400 miles!

He is also the author of Ten Million Steps: Nimblewill Nomad’s Epic 10-Month Trek from the Florida Keys to Quebec. I have read this and it is one of the best written hiking books out there. He is one awesome dude! I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants a detailed look at long distance hiking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-UMoA-QmZU

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The second documentary took a little different path than the first. One group of people that thru hikers will encounter on their hike are “Trail Angels.” Trail Angels are folks that take time out of their lives to provide assistance to thru hikers. Often times in the form of a cooler left on the side of a trail, they can be filled with soda, snacks, beer and candy bars. Trail Magic can also be rides into towns, meals that are bought for you or even a free place to stay for the night.

This documentary featured “Apple,” a 30 year veteran of IBM who decided that in retirement he would spend his time providing Trail Magic to thru hikers.  He sets up a 12 person tent that includes a stove, food and drink. For many at the start of a thru hike, something like this can be a life saver as the weather can be incredibly unpredictable with night temperatures in the 30’s to mid 40’s. He goes into some detail as to why he does this and the cinematography is just outstanding.

Here is the You Tube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaZxBlVwhcE

Happy Hiking!!!

Thank You Ozark Mountain Hiker & MZ!!!

For those who read my blog you may have noticed an incredibly drastic change in my posts over the course of the last couple of weeks. When I started this blog I said that I would use it to share my love of the outdoors and especially hiking. Through my photography, posts and sometimes cringe worthy poetry I have pretty much kept myself to that promise.

Since I have not been able to hike since my surgery, I have had a great deal more free time to peruse the news and pay much more attention to what is going on nationally than I normally would. Now that’s not saying that I ignored politics before my injury, but I have just been spending a great deal more since I can’t blog about imaginary hikes.

Yesterday I received this comment from Ozark Mountain Hiker after my most recent political rant:

I miss your outdoor-related posts. Completely respect your right to express political thinking, but wonder if this is the best platform. Maybe another blog for politics and this one back to hiking?

I read that last night and spent some time on his blog checking out his photos and reading the great descriptions of his hikes. It got me to thinking that I really miss being to get out into the woods! I miss the smell of the woods, the light rain as it falls off of the leaves and the sound of my boots hitting the earth. I miss the camaraderie of greeting fellow hikers and the small talk of what is coming up on the trail.

But what I miss the most is the actual planning of my hikes. Taking out my maps and thinking about the type of hike I want to do. Long? Short? Easy? Hard? A hike packed with views or traveling through the forest? A short drive from home or a long one? If the forecast is for rain, do I still go?

Even after my decision is made, I have to figure out what to bring on the hike. I can’t explain why that makes me happy, but I love it!

So until I can figure out how to better convey my political rants, I am going to stop posting them on this blog. I am going to return to just making this about the outdoors, hiking, my photos and the other stuff that I used to post

Before I end this post, however, I do owe a huge thanks to Ozark Mountain Hiker (Jim Warnock (trail name – Tater) for putting things into perspective for me and making me realize that there is a time and a place for everything. Thank you sir!!!!

***In my haste to convey how I was feeling after I read the comment from Ozark Mountain Hiker, I realized that I should have mentioned someone else as well for hitting me with a dose of reality. I ran into a colleague of mine (after I had originally posted this) who I have known for quite a few years. Several days ago she mentioned the same thing about my blog. She told me now when she sees the political posts she scrolls right through them.

She said the same thing that Ozark Mountain Hiker did. Go back to posting about your hikes! So Meghan, thank you as well for what you told me and for getting my blog back to where it should be!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

What I Have Learned…

The Urban Dictionary defines Cabin Fever as: A type of hysteria brought on by spending too much time indoors.

It has now been forty-one days since I had surgery on my ankle. Due to the layout of our yard (it’s on a hill) and the steps leading in and out of my house, it has been next to impossible to leave my humble abode. That is where the Cabin Fever comes in. Being stuck in the house is no fun. The danger of doing nothing was, and is always there. You tend to get a little wacky sitting around. Luckily, I can say that I have had a lot of time to think and can tell you that I have learned many things over these last six weeks.

I have learned that:

  1. No matter how many precautions you take when you are hiking, things will go wrong. Case in point being I was the third person in line the day I fractured my ankle. I heard my friend say to #2, “Watch out, it’s slippery, move to the left.” #2 then turned to me and said, “Watch out, it’s slippery, move to the left.” So what did I do? I moved to the left and still ended up with a busted ankle.
  2. Even if you think that you drink a lot of water, drink more.  I drink a lot of water. I mean a lot. But somehow I still ended up in renal failure.  Think and Drink!!!!
  3. At 53 , you can learn to speak another language. One of my biggest fears in coming home was that I would sit in front of the boob tube all day. I went ahead and bought Rosetta Stone and have been pleasantly surprised to find out that an old dog can learn new tricks!
  4. I could rekindle my love of reading. Not that I sopped reading, but I have read more books this summer than I can remember. Old books, new books, short books and long books, nothing has been off limits!

Finally and most importantly:

If it hadn’t been for my friends, I would have been in serious trouble. They immediately knew that my ankle wasn’t the only issue and called 911 immediately. As my condition worsened, they didn’t panic and kept me calm. For this I am forever grateful!

Needless to say, these six weeks haven’t been easy. But by making decisions that would keep me moving mentally, it has lessened the effects of my perceived cabin fever.

Happy Hiking!!!

The Sawyer Squeeze

“Drinking water is like washing out your insides. The water will cleanse the system, fill you up, decrease your caloric load and improve the function of all your tissues.”
-Kevin R. Stone

With the many developments that have occurred with water filtration over the last several years, I decided it would probably be a good idea to do some research before I decided on what kind of water filtration system to buy. If you have read my last few posts, you know that I recently had some serious health issues due to being dehydrated. Now I will preach the importance of drinking water every chance you get!

Although it is probably very unusual, I am now planning on carrying my water filtration system with me even on day hikes. We are lucky enough in this part of NY to have many, many hikes that are near decent untreated water sources such as lakes and streams. Am I now going to be paranoid about the amount of water I am carrying even on short hikes? You better believe it!

Soooo….after some serious consideration I decided on the:

Sawyer Products PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System

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For $40 on Amazon, I think that the sawyer has to be one of the better water filtration products out there. On the first day of my backpacking trip last week I put the Sawyer to the test and it performed incredibly well. I would say that I filtered between 18 and 20 liters of water quickly and efficiently. Even though the directions on its use are clearly written on the box, I went to You Tube and watched some videos to make sure I was doing it right. The best thing about this system? It’s very easy to use.

I got this information off of Amazon:

  • Made in USA
  • Lightweight, easily portable 0.1 absolute micron hollow fiber membrane inline water filter
  • Highest level of filtration on market — removes greater than 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa
  • Built-in and removable push/pull cap; spray water straight into mouth or bottle from included pouch; attach to standard threaded water bottles
  • Comes with three BPA-free collapsible pouches (16-, 32-, and 64-ounce) that roll up tightly for easy packing; can be resued hundreds of times
  • Backed by manufacturer’s lifetime limited warranty (Independent Testing Laboratory Hydreion, LLC.; Microbiological Report S05-03)

If anyone out there has any experience with other systems, please leave me that information in the comments section.

Happy Hiking!!!

I Learned My Lesson The Hard Way…

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I learned the hard way last week the importance of staying hydrated while you are hiking. At the age of 53, I have been hiking for over 40 years and you would have thought that with that much experience out in the woods, I would have known enough to stay adequately hydrated.

Before my backpacking trip began last Wednesday, I went on a couple of short conditioning hikes on Monday and Tuesday just to keep my legs loose for what I knew was going to be three pretty strenuous days of hiking.

Thinking back now, I remember that the days weren’t that hot, and since I knew the hikes were not that long, I didn’t drink that much water. Feeling fine on Wednesday morning, I drank several Nalgene bottles of water and a bottle of Gatorade before I even left the house.

Since it was so hot and humid, I knew that I would be sweating heavily and would have to take appropriate measures from becoming dehydrated. Although I did drink several bottles of water over the course of the day, it wasn’t enough.

Ok. Why am I telling you this? As expected Day One was very warm and humid. I know that I did not drink enough water during the day to replenish the fluids that I had lost. I was exhausted when we reached the shelter for the evening and set about getting more water. That night it did rain quite heavily and we were lucky enough to trap enough water off of the roof to keep three hikers satiated for the day (and more).

As I found out later, however, in my case the damage had already been done. Despite having consumed 128 ounces of water prior to starting Day Two, I knew something was up as soon as I began hiking. I was dizzy and I had some difficulty at times maintaining my balance. Unfortunately, I attributed this to my being tired as well as the weight of my pack.

Approximately one mile into the hike, disaster struck. I hit a wet spot on a glacial rock, lost my balance and slid into a v-shaped rock, snapping my left ankle. Immediately I became dizzy and incoherent, Even the most simple tasks proved to be impossible. Knowing that I wasn’t walking out of the woods, my friends called 911 and we waited.

While we waited for the Park Rangers, I tried to drink water and couldn’t keep it down. I vomited several times and actually lost consciousness. When I finally got to the hospital they ran blood tests and it was determined that I was in Renal Failure.

Luckily, after 5 days of IV’s and copious amounts of water, my kidney functioning returned to normal and I was able to have surgery.

What is the moral of my story?? Even if you think you  have consumed enough water on a hike or if you are on an extended trip, drink some more. As I look back now, my kidneys were already starting to fail even before I began my three day backpacking trip. Drink, drink and drink!

To supplement my tale of woe, I am including the links to three articles that directly deal with the subject of staying hydrated.

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hydrate.html

https://northcountrytrail.org/7-tips-to-stay-hydrated-while-hiking/

https://www.thehikinglife.com/health-safety/hydration/

Happy Hiking and Happy Reading!!!

Day Two-Trouble Ahead!

Knowing that water may be hard to come by for the nine mile hike on day two, my hiking partners rigged up a pretty simple water containment system to catch as much water as possible. Over night we did have several hours pouring rain and thunderstorms which made capturing the water that much easier.

When all was said and done, we collected and purified around 5 gallons of nice cold water!

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Collecting water at the Bald Rocks Shelter.

Now the fun begins! Leaving the shelter at around 10 am, we got back on the Ramapo Dunderberg trail and began our day! The terrain in this part of Harriman is just spectacular. Geologists believe that millions of years ago this area of New York may have been part of South America. It always amazes me that rocks end up where they do and stay there!

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Beautiful scenery a half mile into the hike.

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A couple of tenths of a mile from disaster!

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Although the rocks shown in these pictures are dry, when you got the end of one and it turned back into trail, the rock proved to be very slippery.  As I was coming down off of the rock in the third picture from the top, I began sliding and I lost my balance. My left foot became wedged between two rocks as I stopped, my forward momentum kept me moving.

End result? A fractured left ankle and a subsequent surgery to repair it.

Happy Hiking!!!

Hike #21-.9-117.85

Ramapo-Dunderberg Day One

The start of the my short shakedown hike (6/27) was as humid as you would expect for the end of June in New York. Temperatures in the mid 80’s with humidity almost equally as high guaranteed an early soaking. Since my son had a job interview that morning, we had him drop us off at the Tuxedo RR station at 6:30 am.  Starting early would also put us ahead of the heat and the humidity. The station marks the start of the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail.

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The view after the first climb.

The plan for the day was a simple one. Hike just a little over six miles and then spend the night at the Bald Rocks Shelter. Even though it was only six miles, I hadn’t hiked with a full pack in awhile and coupled with difficult terrain and weather, it was a long day. According to our GPS, we gained just about 1500 feet of elevation! Obviously the views were great.

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The Bald Rocks Shelter is an interesting one.  This blurb was taken from MyHarriman.com:

  • Bald Rocks (Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail).  Massive local granite stones make up his walls, with a nice fireplace inside and a firepit outside.  The surrounding area is grassy, with trees close enough to allow hammocking, but not too tight to make you feel like you’re in the woods.  Because you’re not — you’re in a lovely grassy field on top of a hill. Great views, too!  The trails you’ll use to get to Bald Rocks are some of the best in the park, too, and you’ll be camping near some of Harriman’s coolest sights: Bowling Rocks, Ship Rock and the spine of Hogencamp Mountain.  Nice.
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The Bald Rocks Shelter

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Inside the shelter

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The fireplace inside the shelter.

 

Happy Hiking!!!

Hike #20-6.25-116.95