Tag Archives: Hiking

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HAPPY HIKING!!!!

“We don’t stop hiking because we grow old – We grow old because we stop hiking.” – Finis Mitchel

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

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! I know, I know. It’s January 2nd!! That’s ok. A new year usually brings with it a whole new basket of resolutions that most people will not keep. I’m sure some folks will disagree with me, but at this point, I’m just keeping it real!

So, my resolution this year is a simple one. After a year of almost no hiking, I want to hike more in 2023 and capture those hikes through photographs.

In trying to achieve and keep that resolution going, however, I have to further refine how I prepare for my hikes.

Over the years, I have found that how I get ready for my spring and summer hikes has changed drastically since I was a younger lad.

Back in the day, my prep used to include the following: 1) Go to the trail and hike. Now? The script has flipped on this one, folks. These days I have to think about my knees and ankles and making sure my hiking route is written out in detail so if I get injured, my family will know where to lead the authorities.

Filling my day pack used to be a pretty simple deal as well. The contents used to consist of maps, water, snack, lunch, camera, bug spray, first aid kit, and other assorted nonsense.

As I have explained in previous posts, I can no longer use a traditional day pack and have to, instead, use a sling pack. Since they are much smaller, I have to now choose very carefully what I bring with me.

Most of the items listed above will stay, just more condensed and in smaller containers. I’ll start experimenting shortly with packing my sling pack as the winter progresses.

Physically this year, I am going to add training with resistance bands to my winter routine. After doing a great deal of research, it looks like it certainly couldn’t hurt, so I will add that to my regimen. I have also added specific exercises to help strengthen my ankles and knees.

The point of all this? To make sure that my hiking experiences are safe and continue to be fun. If hiking is painful and no fun, why hike? So preventive maintenance is the way to go.

Once again, Happy New Year and, of course, HAPPY HIKING!!!

2023 Catskills Fire Tower Challenge

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”

– Henry David Thoreau

If you are reading this, you probably enjoy hiking. I know that I do. But one thing that makes hiking better is a challenge! I received an email today from the NYS Department of Conservation that had in it the 2023 Catskills Tower Challenge.

If you hike to each of the towers listed between 1/1/23 and 12/31/23, you will receive a certificate of completion as well as a very cool commemorative patch! (Shown above)

Here is a map showing the locations in the Catskills of each of the towers.

I won’t list all of the particulars here as I am sure that if you are like me, you like to do your own research. I can tell you that I have already Googled the distances from my house to each of the towers as well as the distance of each hike. I am thinking that since most of these are between 1.5-2.0 hours away, so I will try to do at least two a day, if not more! That will be a decision that I will make at a later date.

So, to get you started, here is the NYSDEC website address:

http://www.dec.ny.gov

You can use the link or Google Catskills Fire Tower Challenge. When you get to the site, all of the information that you need to plan for and complete the challenge is there.

One thing that is guaranteed is that no matter what order you decide to hike these in or the season you hike them, you are going to be treated to unbelievable views that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else!

Let me know in the comments if you think that this might be something that has piqued your interest and may consider attempting.

HAPPY HIKING!!!!!

An Anniversary I Wish I Didn’t Have To Acknowledge

“Hiking is a bit like life: The journey only requires you to put one foot in front of the other…again and again and again. And if you allow yourself the opportunity to be present throughout the entirety of the trek, you will witness beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit.” – Anonymous

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

Today, 12/26/22 is the third anniversary of my heart attack. Since then, I have made changes to my life that I would think are for the better. After totally overhauling my diet, I find that I don’t crave all of the old crap that I used to. Candy is off the list (even sugar free candy, I can’t stand the taste of it). Fast food, like my favorite, Taco Bell, has also been filed in my brain as a “thing of the past.”

Physically, I feel better today than I have in years. It is amazing to me that you can feel bad for so long and not truly get it that something is drastically wrong. Talk about NOT listening to your body! Once COVID hit, unfortunately, it had my head spinning like a top. Can I still get out and hike? Should I hike?

In between the HA, CHF, and Type 2 diabetes, I have spent way too much time researching each of the conditions as well as how each can affect the others. I’ve probably learned way too much about ejection fractions and echocardiograms. I have also learned a great deal about the medications that I now take to keep my ticker ticking.

Mentally, the journey has been a little tougher. With COVID and the constantly changing messages regarding vaccines, masks, and, well, everything about the virus, it has been incredibly difficult to keep adjusting to every new idea that is floated to the American public. With all of that said, my focus remains on maintaining and also continuing to improve my health, both physically and mentally. I keep all of my doctor appointments and have learned that if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

So now I live my life much differently than I did three years ago.  It’s pretty clear that if I hadn’t changed my ways, today would more than likely look very different.

Hopefully, these changes will help to prolong a life that has been altered by years of bad habits and choices.

The most important thing? Stay positive and motivated!

Happy Hiking!

Back On The Trail…Soon Enough

As the coldest air of the season sets in, thoughts turn toward spring hiking. When I was younger, the idea of hiking in the cold, rain, and snow was never an issue. One time in the early 2000s, my hiking buddy and I hiked Anthony’s Nose in a blizzard. While it was an awesome hike, it probably wasn’t the best decision I have ever made.

As I have grown older, my desire to hike in extreme conditions has waned. The need for every hike to have an epic view has waned. Needless to say, my hiking priorities have changed, and every chance that I have to be out in the woods is just that, a day spent on the trail. If the hike is two miles or eight, the focus is on the hike, not on checking off boxes that some folks think are important.

So, why am I telling you this? Today is the day before Christmas, and with the “once in a generation” storm now over, the frigid air has settled in, and it truly feels like winter. All I can think of now is planning hikes for the spring. With new maps in hand, my thoughts are now consumed with preparing for and getting out hiking.

While It is true that I have not been able to get out hiking much in the last year, it is my hope that 2023 will be much different. I miss being out on any trail. I miss the smell of the earth, the feel of the trail under my feet, and most of all, just being outside.

The first step in this process is complete. I have updated each of my maps: Bear Mt. (Northern & Southern), East and West Hudson, and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Now I can pore over them and revisit hikes of the past, as well as combining different trails to make new hikes.  

As in the past, this sometimes time consuming task is a vital one. I don’t find many things to be calming, but this happens to be one of them. Sitting with each of the maps, I can spend hours going over trails, distances and calculating the time needed to complete a hike. It is, quite simply, soothing.

Does this mean I won’t venture out before spring? We’ll see…

So feel free to join me as I begin my journey back to the trail.

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!!!