Tag Archives: Hudson Valley Hiking

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!!!

 

The Itch Is Back…

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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!!!

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!!!

Could It Be True?

phil and chuck

Phil on the left and Chuck on the right.

“Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.”

~Robert Byrne

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”

~Robin Williams

Even though the two of them are almost always wrong, Staten Island Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil have predicted an early spring. Although it would be really, really nice for that to come true, I’m not going to be placing any bets on today’s results.

It would be exceptional, however, if they were both right. I’m usually pretty happy letting winter take its course and enjoying the snow for as long as it lasts. But for the last few years I have longed for the snow to be gone as quickly as possible.

To have clear trails devoid of snow, maybe a slight chill in the air, would still make it worth getting out there. The trees, still bare enough so they provide no coverage from the sun would actually be a benefit. The feeling of the late winter sun warming your face as you sit on a rock resting and drinking water is beyond words.

Oh well, at this point who knows where the rest of the winter will take us. Each day that passes only means warmer days ahead and this means many days of hiking! With temperatures a week ago hovering at night in the low negatives, a little later this week the high will be 53. Will they be proven correct????

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

 

Getting Ready For The Camino Frances

Icamino like setting goals for myself. Especially when it comes to hiking. In 2017 I managed to log in 349.32 miles for the year. I like to think that is respectable but I know better, hordes of hikers get out there and hike many, many more miles. In 2018, I crushed it with a whopping 117.85 miles thanks to my fractured ankle and surgery.

So what is the plan for this year? Yes, now that we are midway through January and even though we just had snow and it was 3 degrees just 3 days ago, today we are expecting 1-2 inches of rain and it is over 50 degrees. Why not start planning for the spring/summer hiking season? What have I got to lose? With all of the rain that we are supposed to get today, I might get out this weekend!

From now until I get out of school on June 26, it is 153 days. My summer break will amount to a number of days between 65-70, depending on when we return to school. Just to be on the safe side, I’ll say between now and the end of August we’ll have at least 218 days of possible hiking.

Since spring and summer in this part of the country (northeast) is prime, I’m going to aim high and set a goal of 650 miles from today until 8/31/19. I am hoping that I can eclipse that, but for right now, that is the goal.

This hiking will also help in my quest to be in decent shape for the Camino Frances after I retire. Crossing the Pyrenees Mountains is one of the first major hurdles of the Camino and I want to be ready for it.

For the Camino Frances, this is how it all begins. It’s not that far away.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Getting Ready To Hike Again

jack freezing

Last weekend the first Hudson Valley saw its first snow storm for the New Year. (I’m still leary after the summer mishap, misstep, or whatever you want to call it!) So for the time being, I’ll do what I normally do during these bleak winter days. I’ll start getting ready for the time when I can get back out into the woods.

What exactly does that mean? First, I’ll get on my stationary bike and just ride, ride and ride some more. Regardless of what is said, I find the stationary bike to be an excellent way to get ready for the many hikes that await me.

Next, I take inventory of what I have and what I need.  I find that this is the best time to make some decisions if I need to in order to get my gear straight.

First I start at my head and work my way down. For instance, I have a wool cap that will certainly come in handy during the winter, but also in the early spring when the air is still chilly, especially when you stop for a water break or lunch, it will be useful. Since I just got one of those just a few months ago, I won’t have to replace that.

Moving down, I will almost always wear a t-shirt and a flannel jacket in early to middle spring. Since I tend to run a little hot when I am hiking, this almost always makes it way back into my back at some point during the hike.

For my hands, I never have worn gloves. I sweat way to much and they become very uncomfortable  when I am using my trekking poles.

Now for my legs. If it is at all possible, I will wear shorts throughout the year. If it does prove to be to cold for shorts, a pair of sweatpants will do with the shorts underneath. This way I can take them on and off as needed. I’m pretty old school with my clothing. It’s usually cotton or nothing at all.

Now one place I have a drastic change is in my socks. For just under thirty years I have worn cotton socks. Obviously I think you can guess the number of blisters that I have gotten over the years. If not blisters, then definitely hot spots. I think that those are worse than actual blisters.

On a hike a couple of years ago my friend asked me why I didn’t wear Merino Wool socks. I told him flat out that I thought it was crazy to spend that much money on a pair of socks. What an idiot! From the first day of putting on a pair of wool socks I have been a believer. Not one hot spot, not one blister, the feeling is amazing! The only thing that I do every year is check them out for wear and tear. If I need new ones, I will buy them.

Also on my feet let’s take a look at my boots. I have always preferred a pair of heavier boots, even for day hiking. Right now I have a pair of Vasque St. Elias GTX hiking boots that I have now used for three seasons (2 pairs). I have to make a confession here. I thought that the heavier boot and the stiff ankle support would have prevented what happened to me last summer. I gambled and lost that bet! However, I will continue to use them because I love Vasque boots. They are comfortable, sturdy and come in wide sizes. Everything that I need and want in a boot.

I do use Trekking Poles but one of the Black Diamond poles that I use snapped during my fall last summer. They have been replaced and I am saving that for a review at a later time.

So after surviving a weekend with temperatures in the negative numbers and current ones in the high teens to low twenties, I am ready to keep preparing for that inevitable first beautiful day of spring (or winter) where I can just head out and hike!!!

Look for later  posts on my trekking poles and my daypack.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

The Sawyer Squeeze-Part 2

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Paranoidunreasonably or obsessively anxious, suspicious, or mistrustful. 

These are the very words that describe my current condition as it relates to hiking. Why should I be paranoid? What do I have to be anxious about when I am in my comfort zone? According to the definition, is there truly a need to be suspicious or mistrustful of the one activity that brings me to my absolute happy place.

Earlier in the year and prior to my fall, I wrote a review on the water treatment system that I would bring with me on my backpacking trip to ensure that the water I collected would be safe to drink. Overall, it worked well and the water that was filtered was delicious.

Just in terms of a little background, prior to the end of June and on day hikes, I would carry two 48 ounce Nalgene water bottles. For most day hikes this would be a sufficient amount of water for most hikes. Longer hikes and days that are more hot and humid of course require more water. Unfortunately, in the past, there have been situations where I have run out of water.

At this point, however, I have decided that I am going to carry the Sawyer Squeeze with me even on day hikes.

This raises many questions. The biggest one being the availability of water while I am hiking. Obviously some times of the year have more water flowing in streams or in ponds than others. Most of the areas that I hike in and around have lakes, which makes the situation that much more easy.

Beyond that, I think that carrying the Sawyer Squeeze will bring me a peace of mind that I think I need as I work on getting permanently back on the trail.

Am I crazy? I don’t think so. I think that I have earned the right to be just a little paranoid.

HAPPY HIKING!!!