Tag Archives: spring hiking

Back to Ward Pound Ridge

“I go on hikes expecting to see the great outdoors but spend most of the time lost in my own head.” – We Dream of Travel

“I love that moment in a hike when you snap to and suddenly realize for the last 10 minutes you’ve not been observing nature but have instead become a part of it.” – We Dream of Travel

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As much as I like and expect to post my hikes the same day, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. In this case, I went out on Tuesday and the weather was awesome. With the wind blowing through the trees (with no leaves) it still sounded like a winter morning. As of last Tuesday, although it was still warm, the trees are still bare and the woods have a gloomy look to them. I think that it will only take another week or two to show its true colors!

As always, the hiking was nice. I kept it slow and soaked in the warm air and the silence, taking a different loop than I did the previous hike. It was all good with the exception of my left hand which I injured the week before. It made gripping my trekking pole more difficult than it should be. All in all, any hike is a good hike so I was happy and even happier that the next few days were kind of rainy and with the temperatures fluctuating the way they have been, I won’t journey out in the rain until it gets warmer.

But journey out I will. I have plans to go to Bear Mt., Fahnestock State Park, and the Black Rock Forest. I just have to plan my hikes more carefully than I have in the past. Since I am now retired, that is not an issue.

Here are some photos from my last hike.

The result of going to the bathroom at 3:30 am. All is good. This made gripping my trekking difficult.
A section of side trail.
Still more side trail. SILENCE!
Some debris left over from the winter. They did a nice job clearing the trail.
Part of the main trail.
Some more trail.

Feel free to check out the site, “We Dream of Travel”. A great deal of useful information for all hikers.

4/13-3.2/5.9

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!!!

“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!!!

Another Spring Is Upon Us

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”-Gustav Mahler

“Spring adds new life and new joy to all that is.”-Jessica Harrelson

“Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get warmer.”-Anita Krizzan

“The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”-Harriet Ann Jacobs

Even though the temperature may say something a little different, today happens to be the first day of spring. And as with every other spring over the course of the last 45 years, it brings a sense of hope and rebirth. The snow, which stayed on the grass for a couple of months, is now gone and the birds that I have come to recognize as the first signs of spring, have already started their alluring call to get us outside. Looking at our weather forecast for next week, the lows gradually move from the 20’s into the low 40’s with the highs being in the 50’s and 60’s. Perfect hiking weather!!

Although fall may be my favorite season, spring is a very close second. You see, in about a week, I’ll do the same circular route for three or four (maybe more) days in a row. Why? Because the one thing that I love to see are the changes in the woods as the trees fight off the last vestiges of winter. Seeing the green again cover the forest floor gives me hope. Hope that the air will be sweet and the trails will be as ready for us as we are them. For just a little bit of inspiration, listen to Phish’s Lawn Boy. It doesn’t matter what version (preferably live of course), it will get you thinking of treading down the path.

Until that time comes, start getting ready for that first spring hike. I see no shame in having everything ready so if you make an impulsive decision to get outside, you will be ready. My pack is already in a state of anticipation. It sits with my boots and hiking poles waiting. Waiting to be called into action to carry me through the woods. Of course, today I will take everything out of my pack again and repack it, making sure that I have everything I need. The only thing left will be those last minute items like water and snacks.

So join me. Join me in either waiting or if you are more inclined to get out while it’s still a little chilly in the morning, join me in celebrating another spring of what will undoubtedly be a fine season of hiking heading into the summer.

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!!!

Another Beautiful Day

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

-John Burroughs

Every couple of years I need a few days of hiking in the middle of the day to remind me why I get up at 4:30-5:00 am to get out into the woods. I can’t even tell you how many people I encountered today from the front, the rear, the left, and the right. It was absolute insanity. Thankfully summer vacation will be here soon so I can return to my 5:00 am hikes. It is so much more peaceful.

Of course, I fully acknowledge the fact that anyone can hike at any time, but I if I wanted to hang out with that many people when I hike, I would. That partially explains the very, very early morning hikes. When my feet first hit the trail during the summer, it usually isn’t even light out yet. I can’t explain how blissful it is. The other reasons, of course, have to do with the heat of the summer.

IMG_4608  About two hundred yards from the finish to this hike I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye. As I looked down, the snake in the picture actually went to bite me! As it slithered off the trail, I immediately took off my pack and got my camera out. I am assuming it is just a large garter snake that was sunning itself on the trail before being startled.

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #7-5/27/19-4.0-32.1

My Favorite Place At A Snails Pace

“I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.”
–   Raymond Carver, This Morning

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Of course with the long weekend ahead of us, it makes perfect sense that I would make the choice to get out into the woods. So at 5:00 am I left a nice warm bed to make the journey over to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Even though it was 64 degrees, a pretty strong wind was blowing, making it feel much cooler than it was. Any way you look at it, it was perfect hiking weather.

Last year before my ill-fated backpacking trip, I had bought another pair of Vasque St. Elias GTX  backpacking boots. Finally, today, I decided to start breaking them in. Compared to the last three pairs I have had, these killed my feet. Instead of the usual Green to Red trail, I decided to tackle the Brown trail. At 5.3 miles, the terrain isn’t that bad and with a couple of hills thrown in, it makes for a really nice hike.

The start of the hike.

So off I went new boots and all, thinking it wasn’t going to be that bad. Now, of course, I can’t just blame the boots, because I was damn tired. For whatever reason, I had two speeds today-really slow and stop.

But that’s ok. I was still outside, I was still hiking and all was good! Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is the perfect place to take stock of what’s going on and to also clear your mind. Getting out that early is almost beyond perfect solely based on the fact that at that time of the morning no one else is out.

The Brown Trail at different points.

For me, the fact that I get to hike alone and not be bothered by anyone or anything is exactly what I need to stay sane. Today I just wished my feet didn’t hurt as much as they did. But enough of the whining, even with the new boots it still beats being inside!

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #5-5/24/19-5.3-22.8

A Triumphant Return!!!

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My pack and poles are back in business.

“The silence was an intense roar.”

-Jack Kerouac

Today is a good day. Today I decided that it was time to get back on the trail. Even though I have been riding the stationary bike to get ready to hike, it wasn’t easy. It really wasn’t easy. I did a nice 3.2-mile loop at Ward Pound Ridge and the one nice thing about many of the trails at WPR is that the number of hills are minimal.

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Unfortunately, even these small “inclines” almost killed me today. But that’s ok. It was magnificent just to get out. It has now been 269 days since I have hiked. When I started hiking it was a glorious 41 degrees. The sun felt great on my face and the fact that I was actually outside and on a trail made it that much better.  With almost clear blue skies and no wind blowing, the silence in the woods was blissful. You don’t realize how loud and noisy the world is that we live in is until you are smacked in the face with an extended period of silence. Pure bliss!!!

 

So what does this mean? Since I had no issues with my ankle, I am going to resume my old hiking schedule for the time between now and when school ends, which is “get out as often as possible.”

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The calendar may say it is spring, but this small pond tells a different story!

Peace to everyone out there!!!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike#1-3/24/19-3.2-3.2

 

 

 

It’s Closer Than You Think…

“I felt free and therefore I was free.” 

-Jack Kerouac

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This is what I’m talking about.

I can sense it. It’s almost time. The weather for the next few days looks like it should be for mid-March. With temps in the mid 40’s during the day and high teens to the early twenties at night, most of the snow has melted and now all we are left with is soul sucking mud. Even though we didn’t get a whole lot of snow this winter, the amount of rain we saw was unbelievable. It seems like it has rained non stop for months. As a result, we now have mud that will literally stop you in your tracks.

But that too shall pass. The trails will soon be clear and the warm air of spring will come. Oddly enough, however, one day out of nowhere it will be so hot that I’ll be trying to get my hikes in very early in the day just to beat the heat. But that’s ok. School ends on June 26th and we return on August 28th. That’s 62 days of hiking glory!

But let’s worry about the here and now. With the days getting longer and longer and more days between now and the end of school than in summer itself, I’ll be making plans to get out. Until then, my pack, poles and boots sit waiting.

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!!!