Tag Archives: ward pound ridge reservation

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!!!

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!!!

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!!!

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!!!

Short, Slow And Relatively Easy…

“Mostly, two miles an hour is good going.”

-Colin Fletcher 

This morning was probably the nicest day of the summer. When I got on the trail at 6:30 am, it was 49 degrees. I was actually a little cold as I headed out into the woods but it only took a couple of minutes though for that nice chilly feeling to go away!

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As has been the case almost all summer, I didn’t see a single person the entire hike. Granted, the hike was shorter than most I have done but on a day like today, I expected to at least see some trail runners. That’s ok, the woods were practically silent as I made my way down the trail.

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If you take a left at the tree that is marked instead of going right as the trail markers tell you to, you can add another half of a mile to your hike. Today I didn’t and continued right. Most of the trail at this point is soft dirt with some rocky spots mixed in at different points.

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The picture above marks the beginning of only two short hills on this particular hike. This one is about halfway through the hike and the second one is almost at the end.

One of the cool things about Ward Pound ridge are the bridges that are found throughout the park. Although the ground was wet, I couldn’t see any running water and if you wanted you could just use the rocks on the left to escape the mud.

The rest of the hike was pretty easy. Nice flat trails and as I got closer to the finish, a breeze started blowing that didn’t help with trying to stay warm. But it was nice weather for the end of August.

I can’t complain about any aspect of today’s hike and tomorrow is looking just as good!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #28-8/26/19-3.7-123.7

Now It Feels Like Mid August

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

Wow…at 6:30 am this morning it was 71 degrees with humidity that could have chocked a cat. Since it was so humid, I knew that I was going to take it much slower than I usually do. And believe me, I’m pretty slow on a normal day!

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The trail heading into a curve.

Obviously, since it was so humid, I started sweating immediately. Every step that I took just meant more and more sweat covering me as the gnats circled my head and did their best to infiltrate the liquid defense system I had sprayed on myself prior to the start of the hike. Thankfully they proved to be more of a nuisance than anything else.

As they have been so many times in the past, the woods were almost perfectly silent with the exception of an occasional bird letting me know that I wasn’t alone. It was beautiful! The video below is a minute and five seconds of serenity. This is what it sounded like for the entire hike. You can’t ask for more than this.

On my way out of the woods, I did encounter a group of hikers. They struck me as kind of odd based on a few observations. First, not one of the group (10 people and 3 dogs) had a pack. Second, with the absence of packs was also the absence of water. And third, they were all dressed as if it was late October. The first thing that I thought was if they were wearing jeans and jackets and had no water, how could they hike for any distance? With the warm temperatures and high humidity, it could make for a potentially dangerous situation.

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I have no idea why I took a photo of my boots. I was sitting on a rock, taking a break when it struck me to just take a picture of my boots. Hmmm……

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #27-8/17/19-4.6-120.0

The Humidity Is Here To Stay

We are wind, we are wind
And we can’t hold on
Hold on to anything we see that’s gone
We’re gone in a heartbeat, fleeting, it’s gone
We are wind, we are wind
We crumble into nothing, we are wind
Two parts me, folded together
For one brief moment everything fits
The sun

-Trey Anastasio

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A shelter not too far from the start of the trail. You could easily bring small children for an overnight at this shelter.

Today was an interesting day at Ward Pound Ridge. I did a really nice 4.3-mile loop and I actually saw two people trail running. I almost never see anyone when I’m out hiking early in the morning but today I saw two people. That is almost unheard of! The first guy would have scared the hell out of me but he had the common courtesy to yell, “good morning” when he was about 20 yards behind me. Good thing that he did because I was in a good rhythm and had no idea he was there.

The news said last night that it was supposed to be less humid this morning than it has been. I really didn’t find that to be the truth and ended up sweating like it was going out of style. With that said, it was still nice enough out and the promise is that the humidity is going to stay with us for the next three or four days. I can’t wait.

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A connector trail on today’s loop. 

So even with the promise of really high humidity in the morning, I’m already planning tomorrows hike. If you have noticed, I have kept the hikes at just around four to four and a half miles. I think it would be a good idea to keep it at that for a little while longer.

When the weather gets cooler I’ll probably think about some longer hikes but with the weather the way it is, hydration has to be my main concern. Gatorade Zero before, during and after the hike as well as 96 ounces of water. Of course, then the rest of the day will be spent getting rehydrated.

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One of the more interesting rock formations on the hike,. 

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #26-8/15/19-4.3-115.4

Back On My Feet, Again

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

“Injuries are our best teachers.”

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The view at the start of the hike an hour later than usual.

Being injured sucks. Not being able to hike sucks. Even if it’s only for a few days. Last year I couldn’t hike for half of the year because of the surgery on my ankle, and over the course of the last couple of weeks, my left knee has been bothering me. Bothering me to the point where I haven’t been able to hike or ride the stationary bike.

Is my injury a result of getting older? Overuse? Could it be genetic? I know that many in my family have bad knees and maybe it’s now my turn. I certainly hope not. Some of my family members can’t walk a straight line these days. The fact that I have been very, very careful with what I have been doing the last few months has me thinking really hard about what could have caused it. With that said, the bottom line is I need to get back out into the woods.

I am going stir crazy. Utterly crazy.  If you follow my blog, you know that hiking is my refuge, the thing that I do when I need to think or blow off steam. When I can’t hike, I get really cranky.  As it stands right now, I am in super cranky mode.

So today to I headed out into my sanctuary to see how the knee feels.

I actually picked a decent day to head back out. I ended up starting about an hour later than I am used to, but that’s ok. When I got up at 5, there was no way I could get out of bed so I waited until 5:30 and pretty much walked out the door. When I got to Ward Pound Ridge, it was a crisp 59 degrees with a slight breeze. This is not typical weather in our area for mid-August. At this time of year, we are usually looking at a great deal of heat and humidity, even at 5 or 6 am.

Needless to say, my knee didn’t feel that bad. I did make sure to keep the pace relatively slow and I avoided any rocks that looked sketchy. I know that sounds kind of wimpy, but I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore than I already was (or had been).

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More huge rocks at Ward Pound Ridge.

The picture below represents parts of the Leatherman’s Loop. As with most of the trails at Ward Pound Ridge, they are made of soft earth and tend to be rolling rather than steep ups and downs.

Overall I would call this hike a success. It was nice out and even though I started later than I have been, I didn’t see a single person. Pure bliss!!!!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #25-8/12/19-4.5-111.1