Tag Archives: Hiking

Looking For Some Peace

The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.-Nhat Hanh

Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom. To do this you have to learn to let go. Let go of your sorrows, let go of your worries. That is the secret of walking meditation.-Nhat Hanh

After riding a stationary bike for a little over a year and a half, I have decided that I want to start walking again. You know, mix things up a little. Instead of walking outside, I will be going back to the gym. This time, however, I decided to change gyms. Not because I didn’t like the old one, but COVID dealt it a death blow that it could not recover from, no matter how much they tried.

The next best choice for me was Planet Fitness, which I found out is much cheaper and offers more machines than the old gym. The one thing that I liked was when I told the woman behind the desk that this was my first time exercising there, she asked if I wanted a tour. I told her that I would concentrate on cardio, mainly walking, due to my heart issues. Not only will that help my overall fitness, but it will also prepare me for some fall hiking!

Unfortunately, I have found that my days of hiking when it is even remotely warm or humid are over. I thought at first maybe it had to do with staying hydrated, but I quickly ruled that out. I found out after doing some research that some of the medications that I take say that you should stay out of the sun, which, believe it or not, produces heat!

My goal is to use my time training to hike during what happens to be my favorite time of the year, the fall. The mornings are much more refreshing than summer days, and the rest of the days follow suit.

With that said, I will most certainly pay a visit to Anthony’s Nose, which is still my all-time favorite hike. If you want to get the most out of this fantastic hike, park your car on South Mountain Pass, where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road. The views during the fall are second to none, and if you choose the right time and get lucky, you can have it all to yourself.

Another great area to visit during the fall is Fahnestock State Park. Miles and miles of trails crisscross and give the hiker many loops, point to point, and just about any configuration of hike you can think of making. All you need is a map, a beautiful day, and the desire to explore!

This year, I am excited because COVID pretty much killed the fall hiking season last year, keeping everyone confined to their houses. Unless something drastically changes, we should be in the clear, and the hiking will be excellent!

Happy Hiking!!!

First Hike Of The Year

“Hiking is not escapism; it’s realism. The people who choose to spend time outdoors are not running away from anything; we are returning to where we belong” – Jennifer Pharr Davis

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.” – Paulo Coelho

Today was a beautiful 64 degrees, a perfect day for a hike! With that said, I did get out and I did learn some lessons on the first hike of the year.

  1. Contrary to what I thought, the gnats were out today in force. Of course, since I thought it was to early in the season, I didn’t bring any bug spray. Lesson learned! Bug spray goes with me for every hike now.
  2. The sling pack, even with the minimum amount of gear (read yesterdays post) will still take some getting used to. It is made to sit evenly on your back, but it is just different. I’m not going to lie, I miss my Kelty Day Pack.
  3. Although I have been riding my studio cycle for over a year, it doesn’t use the same muscles as hiking. Every Spring I go through the same breaking in period with my legs. Unfortunately, it takes a little longer these days now that I’m getting older.

All in all, even though my first hike of the year was only 2.7 miles, it felt great to be outside. Walking on the soft earth eased the pain of using all of the different muscles that I usually don’t use, and it felt great.

When I arrived, the parking lot was pretty full for a Friday afternoon. I didn’t see anyone in the lot, and I didn’t see anyone until the final 300 yards. I was able to stop several times, take some photos and soak up the silence. The breeze moving through the trees was pure bliss and the absence of literally any sounds made it just about as perfect a hike as you are going to get.

I think for the next few days I am going to do this loop to get my “trail legs” back. Even though this loop has a couple of very small inclines, it will definitely help me with getting used to hiking and then longer hikes.

It feels great to be on the trail again!

2.7/2.7 Miles

HAPPY HIKING!!!   

Adventure Awaits

“Without adventure civilization is in full decay.” – Alfred North Whitehead

“I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.”-Bilbo Baggins

“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot”― Werner Herzog

After several weeks of absolutely beautiful weather and the mornings getting warmer, I think it is about that time to get back out into the woods. Before December 26, 2019, hiking was a carefree affair and I have always treated it that way.

Ever since that day, however, I have had to rethink how I go about engaging in even a short day hike. To complicate matters, when I had my defibrillator implanted on July 31, 2020, it made that puzzle even more complex.

As I have written in previous entries, the use of my trusty Kelty Day Pack is now one of the past. I spent a great deal of time looking for alternative packs, not knowing of course, that they make sling packs that wouldn’t put undue stress on the area where the defibrillator is under my skin. Due to its positioning, any type of weight, even in a two strap small daypack, could damage the defibrillator.

So, when I found the sling pack, the one issue with just about all of them is they are all about half the size of my Kelty Day Pack. This presents its own set of questions and issues. Now, after a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and being diabetic, I am more than thankful that I can still hike. With that said, I have to be even more cognizant of what I bring with me even on a short three mile hike. All of this, of course, due to limited space in my sling pack.

What changes, then, have I made to my routine for preparing for a day hike?

First and foremost, I leave a detailed description of where I am going, where I will be parking and how long I expect to be gone. This means that the days of switching up hikes or adding mileage on different trails is one of the past. That is of course after I text someone I know and let them know about the change.

I used to bring two bottles of water but that had to be cut down to one due to size restrictions. Of course, I bring TP, hand disinfectant, hand sanitizer, my Garmin GPS, water filter and my camera. I am going to get some photos with my new phone to see what the difference in quality is like and if the phone ones prove to be better than the camera, I will switch to that. Otherwise, I will make room for the camera.

Since it is spring and weather is what you would expect, the need for extra layers of clothes is not needed. This alone saves a great deal of room.

Medically the only issue that might arise (besides something catastrophic with my heart) is low blood sugar. I find, at times, that after exercising my sugar takes a dive and then needs to be corrected. For this I will bring Glucose tablets. Unfortunately, I have suffered the effects of low blood sugar a few times and it is unpleasant to say the least. I just need to really stay on top of it while I hike and when the hike is finished.

Since my plan right now is to go out tomorrow morning, I think that I am going to stay with my tried and true hiking area in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. I am more than familiar with the trails and at this time of year I shouldn’t have any problems finding water to filter if the need arises.

I have to admit that while I am looking forward to getting out, I am also a little apprehensive. I’ve only been out a few times since last year and I really want to make sure that I get out at the very least a few times a week. I guess to do that I need to take the first step.

Of course, here in the Northeast, even though spring is here now, summer will drop on us like a hammer sooner rather than later. And when that happens, the mornings won’t be the joys that they are now. When the humidity hits it will bring with it the gnats and mosquitoes, making each hike a journey into who will survive.

Let’s all be thankful for bug spray.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

You, Me, Stillman, And Dupree…

Although I love my Kindle, I am cursed with the ability to buy books at will. If I’m reading another book or an article that I found on hiking or the outdoors, I’ll click on the link and head on over to Amazon. And then I can’t resist. If I am even remotely interested in the book, I will add it to my library and it will sit there until I get to it. It could be a few days, a month, a year, or several years. It all depends.

So, as I was reading another book, the name Scott Stillman came up. What interested me even more was the title of the book that was being recommended. Released in January, I Don’t Want To Grow Up: Life, Liberty, and Happiness. Without a Career offers readers an insight as to what it is like to be able to seek out life’s adventures without the hassle of every day life. The ability to just pick up and go almost whenever you want to, just to climb that mountain, hike that trail or surf that wave.

Isn’t that what we all want to do? I am now in that unique position where if I want to hike a certain trail that may not be close to my home, I can do so. Since I am retired, I don’t have to worry about work and as long as my wife has my schedule, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The author says this about his most recent book:

My fellow readers…

At first glance, this book may appear as a departure from my nature writing. Upon reading it however, I’m confident you will find it is not. As you might know by now, I find it impossible to discuss any matter without also discussing nature. We are inseparable.

So here you go–another nature book. Part memoir, part philosophy, part how-to, part prayer for a better future–but a nature book, nonetheless. You will find it different, yet the same.

My sincere hope is that it finds its way into the hands of someone who’s suffering. Struggling to find their place in this crazy world. Struggling to grow up.

If it helps a single person, I’ll consider it a success.

Thanks for allowing me this opportunity. Thanks for your continued support. My gratitude is boundless.

Scott makes it clear to his readers. If you want to adopt this type of lifestyle before you retire, you can. If you haven’t seen the movie You, Me and Dupree, I strongly recommend it. Dupree, one of the lead characters in the movie, has adopted the lifestyle that Stillman celebrates in his book.

At 183 pages, I was able to knock it out in under a day. Looking at pursuing some adventures, I thoroughly enjoyed the book as well as the message it sent. So many people are caught up in the cycle of adulthood that they can’t even think about undertaking even weekend adventures because of life.

But as I am finding out, life might not always be here tomorrow.

Here is the description of the book that Amazon offers:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We’ve been asked this question over and over, practically since the day we could walk.

Many of us have absolutely no idea. We never have and we never will. This bothers us terribly, and on a profound level. We feel useless, disconnected, scattered, unfocused. If we could just make up our minds—about something, about anything!

What if you didn’t have to grow up?

Society would like us to believe that to be successful, we need careers. But let’s face it—we’re not all meant to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, and accountants.

Some are meant to be dreamers.

The people on the fringes of society who don’t necessarily subscribe to the modern version of the American Dream. Artists, adrenaline junkies, nomads, life seekers. Those who doubt conventional wisdom, question authority, and continually search for newer, better ways to live.

The world needs freaks—now more than ever before.

Is the career-less path really so bad?

Could it actually be a calling?

Find out for yourself.

Get it Now.

Think about where you are in life and decide how you want to move forward. You may be in your 40’s with the standard accoutrements of a suburban husband or wife. Can you make a decision to downsize and simplify your life so you can complete some of the adventures that you have no doubt been thinking about for years. Don’t kid yourself, we all have things that we have dreamed about doing, some for a pretty long time.

Needless to say, this book is worth the read. If anything, it will get you thinking.

If you could just take off, even if it is only for a few days or weeks, would you?

And to answer that other great question, What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be FREE!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

“My Favorite Weather Is Bird Chirping Weather.”

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”-Anne Bradstreet

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter.”-Jen Selinsky

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”-Neltje Blanchan

Spring is my second most favorite time of year. Not to sound cliché, but it really does represent hope, and a chance at mental, if not some form of physical rebirth. Although it isn’t the same exact thing as hiking, riding my studio cycle all winter definitely puts me in a better place physically and mentally as the season changes. I may hurt after the first few hikes, but it won’t be as bad as if I had been dormant all winter. At this point in my life that isn’t an option.

One of my favorite activities when I am walking through the woods is to take pictures. I have found that even though sometimes I might do the same hike, it is incredible how the pictures I take are so drastically different. Most of the time I will try and focus on something new each time I hike to photograph. I like to think that I come up with some pretty good photos. It’s also nice to see the season change from spring to summer.

These are some photos I took as the day was ending yesterday in my backyard.

The end of a nice 75 degree day!
Another angle.
This was taken the day after a blizzard.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

It’s Just Around The Corner…

“Hike more, worry less.”-Unknown

“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” – G.M. Trevelyan

“Without adventure civilization is in full decay.” – Alfred North Whitehead

It has been a long winter. In between snowstorms and the cold, I haven’t been out hiking in quite a while. But the time is coming. Just the other day it was 51 degrees.          Of course, it wasn’t the same 51 degrees that will feel much warmer in the next few weeks, but 51 is much, much better than 21.

So, what do I have to look forward to? Now that I am retired, my days are my own. For now, I ride my studio cycle as often as I can, but as soon as it is possible, I will be out in the woods. For now, it looks like I’ll be spending a great deal of time in the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. I want to spend some time there to get myself into shape for the more strenuous hikes in Bear Mt. and across the river. Each of the hikes will of course be documented here on the Zen Hiker.

Although I mentioned it in an earlier post, I have had to make adjustments as to the type of daypack that I can carry, even for short hikes. Because of an implanted defibrillator, I can not use any type of pack that has two straps. Apparently, if I have any type of weight in my day pack, it will put unnecessary stress on the point of implantation. As a result, I had to look for pack with only one sling in the center so I could avoid the defibrillator. This is much more difficult than you would think. After a great deal of research, I decided on the RUSH MOAB™ 10 SLING PACK 18L.

In a Best of 2021 Sling Bag list, the reviewer says, “Get your gear in order with this fully customizable tactical bag made from water-resistant and incredibly lightweight 1050D nylon. The fully cushioned adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to find your customized fit. This sling pack offers plenty of organized storage areas. An interior stash pocket paired with a hydration pocket and a pass-through port make it easy to stay hydrated too.”

Although the size of the bag will take some getting used to, it’s just one more thing that I have to make adjustments for if I want to keep hiking. I can’t tell you how many times I have scoffed at the idea of being a minimalist, even if it is for day hikes, but at this point I don’t have much of a choice.

So, then the question becomes, “What should be a priority for me to carry on my day hikes?”

Here is a list of must haves:

  1. Water-How much depends on how long.
  2. Water Filtration-Instead of carrying to much water, if I know that I am going to be hiking near water, I can use my Sawyer Squeeze.
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Cell phone for emergencies
  5. Toilet Paper
  6. Camera-I have a Canon, but if my new phone takes pictures that are comparable, I’ll use that.

All of these items will go into the main compartment of the bag. In the smaller, less exposed pockets I will keep my wallet, FOB for my vehicle and the map of the area that I am in.

As much as I would like to carry what I used to, it just won’t be possible. But that’s ok. I will be out hiking!!!

Ward Pound Ridge

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” – Unknown

 “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” – Mary Davis

Three days ago my friend and I went to Anthony’s Nose. Today, even though I hiked alone, I wasn’t alone. WPR was packed with people at the trailhead and it made it difficult at the beginning to get by other hikers. As I made my way up the trail, however, the crowds thinned out and I did get to enjoy some moments of peace and quiet. This hike reminded me again of why I really enjoy hiking in the early morning. No people!!!!

As you will see in the two pictures below, I also came across this lengthy inhabitant of the woods. From a distance I though for sure it was just a stick and then it moved!!!! I took the pictures and then moved on my way.

An unexpected friend on the trail.
He wasn’t too happy to see me.
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

The next photo shows my favorite rock to take a break at about the two mile point. If you notice, I had too get a new pack. Since I had a defibrillator implanted, I can no longer use a conventional daypack with two straps as it would place pressure on the spot of the implant. So after a little research, I found a 10 liter sling pack. This will take some getting used to.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Back To The Nose

“Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.” – Diane Spicer

 “To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” – Lao Tzu

After an absence of over two years, I finally got back to Anthony’s Nose. This was also the first hike that I have been on in over a year. Needless to say, it was more difficult than I wanted it to be. Oh well, it still felt good to be back out in the woods. This, of course, was the plan for retirement prior to my heart attack.

The start of the trail on South Mt. Pass.

As with every hike in this area, it seems that the start is always a punishing uphill climb. If not in the steepness of the climb then the overall length. The same holds true for getting to the Nose via South Mt. Pass. But I took it slow as I was with my good friend Jaime who had promised me when I was in the hospital that he would go with me on my return hike. Friends like these are hard to find!

Since I hadn’t been hiking in so long, the trip to the summit took quite a bit longer than I thought. But that’s ok, just feeling the breeze and the sun on my face made the slow journey worth every minute.

Looking back down the trail we had just come up.

A part of the trail with blowdowns from a recent tropical storm.
A beautiful view of Bear. Mt. from the Nose.
Many, many hidden hikes are in those hills.
Looking north on the Hudson from the alternative viewpoint.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

I Just Want To Hike

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.-Diane Spicer

It has been a long year. Starting with my heart attack (actually on 12/26/19), it quickly went from bad to worse with the onslaught of COVID, and it didn’t seem like anyone could catch a break. With that said, I can count my retirement as a blessing. Truly a dysfunctional workplace, those poor folks are in the midst of trying to figure out what it is going to be like when they return in just a few weeks. 

Due to my hearts poor functioning, I had to wear a portable defibrillator for seven months instead of the forty-five days that they originally thought. On 7/31/20, I finally had a defibrillator implanted and have been recovering from that. 

My biggest wish, however, is to get back into the woods. My daughter and I went for a walk the other day and it just wasn’t the same. I want to walk on the dirt and feel the breeze as it filters through the trees. I want to take pictures of stupid things like rocks, trees, and insects. I want to be able to choose my route instead of watching the tv while I ride. 

But I still have an issue that I am trying to figure out. The spot where they implanted the defibrillator is just above the left breast. So when I go back in a week, I need to ask my doctor if I will be able to even carry a pack. The strap of even a daypack goes right over where the defibrillator is and when my pack is filled with everything I need even on a short hike, will put pressure on the device. I don’t know how much weight, if any, I will be able to carry.

So my question goes out to all the hikers out there. Do you know of any alternatives in terms of packs that would alleviate that situation? I figure that I would need to carry two Nalgene bottles, my first aid kit, GPS, and other assorted necessities. 

Feel free to put any suggestions in the comments below.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Are You A Prophet Of Doom?

“Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.”

I was reading the blog of Austin Kleon who is a self-professed “writer who draws” and he posted these terms that came from Merriam Webster. His entry is a short one, simply saying, “Don’t do it! Take a walk instead.”

I know that it is difficult, but you need to take some time away from the news, no matter what station you watch or websites you traverse on the internet. It is all filled with negative, and if I  may say so, doomsday talk, not only about COVID, but the upcoming election and the racial strife spreading throughout the country.

What makes this entire situation more precarious is the simple fact that many of us have been cooped up in our houses for months and even though we can now go out, you really still can’t do anything. So what do we do? We grab our phones, open our laptops, and start inhaling the overwhelming negativity that the mainstream media calls “news.”

I, too am guilty of this.

So I agree with Mr. Kleon. Put the phone away, close the laptop, and get outside. Or listen to some music. As I am writing this I am listening to a Phish show from 1997. Here’s another stretch-read a book.

Although the physical effects of COVID are undoubtedly real and potentially deadly, so are the mental ones. Wallowing in all of this nonsense can’t be good for you.

Trust me. All of the negativity and hate will still be there when you get back.

HAPPY HIKING!!!