Tag Archives: ward pound ridge reservation

Ditty Or Not To Ditty

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One of the best and worst things about being a lifetime member of REI is the killer specials that they always have. Not only do they have these specials, but if you are a member, you sometimes get an additional percentage off on top of the deal. This presents me with a problem because, with such great deals, I have been known to impulse buy which means I might buy something I don’t need. For hikers, is that possible??

For many, many years I have put everything in baggies when I would head out into the woods. That would include my wallet, GPS and anything else I might be carrying. Baggies are easily sealed, which helps in keeping things dry, but lousy for organization. A couple of years ago I decided to add Ditty Bags to my packing system, thinking that it would be easier to store in my daypack and I was right. I have found that I can not only keep more “stuff” in my pack, I can also keep better track of my “stuff.” Last year I bought the Sea to Summit 6.5L, 4L, and 2.5L Ditty Bags to use for my daily hiking trips and backpacking.

This way, depending on what I am putting in the baggy, will depend on the size Ditty Bag I need to use. The bags have proven to be very useful so when I need to find something quickly, it really is a quick proposition.

Last week I saw that REI had a set of Ditty Bags on sale (see paragraph 1). Even though I haven’t been hiking with them yet, they appear to be more sturdy than the Sea to Summit bags. A little bit thicker than the S to S bags, the REI Ditty Bags come in 7L, 3L, and 2L sizes. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how everything fits into my Kelty Zephyr Daypack as well as my Osprey Kestrel 28 pack. Even though I have the Osprey Kestrel 28, it’s been hard giving up on the Kelty. Of course, I will provide you with a more in-depth review after I get back on the trail.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

So What Does It Mean To Be A Hiker?

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

-John Burroughs

Anyone can hike. Go to the woods, put one foot in front of the other and you’ve pretty much got it. Right? Not so fast. Being a hiker, a true believer in the healing power of the woods is a mindset that can only be developed by spending countless hours on the trails and climbing hills that would kill any other mere mortal.

Many people say, “I like to hike.” Ok. But do you have what it takes to become a true “hiker?” Hiking, like any other sport, hobby or activity, has a vocabulary unique to its participants. Can you speak the language of the seasoned hiker? If you encountered a fellow hiker in the woods, would you be confident that you could make yourself understood? This isn’t as easy as it sounds.

As you are preparing for your next hike, pick up the shirt that you want to wear. What does it smell like? Imagine for the sake of argument that the odor emanating from the shirt is nothing short of horrific. What do you do? In my case, I would put it on and head out the door. But would you? What you smell like is just another form of identification for other hikers. It’s almost like dogs sniffing each other’s butts. That’s how we know who is the real deal and who is just playing the part for the day. Trust me, you can smell them a mile away.

What did you put in your pack to eat? Now, of course, this all depends on how long your hike is going to be, but hikers definitely have some do’s and don’ts when comes to being a true hiker. Trying to stuff a picnic basket into your daypack isn’t going to work and neither is bringing stuff to grill. You gotta keep it simple. If I know that I am going to be out for a full day and I am going to be covering 8-10 miles with some elevation, I’ll get a sandwich from the local deli plus some granola or protein bars to stave off the hunger pangs to keep me going.

Now if I know I’m only going to be out for a short hike of maybe 3-5 miles, I’ll bring granola bars, protein bars and other assorted garbage to keep my legs moving throughout the day. The good thing about logging the miles is that although you might eat a load of crap, you will still burn a great deal of it off during your hike. And of course, don’t forget the GORP!!

You may be asking yourself, “He’s talked about the language, clothes, and food, what about liquids?” Even though it is relatively obvious, water is the most important liquid to have on a hike. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I now go overboard with the amount of water that I carry. Even if I am going out into the woods (for what I consider a short hike) of between 3-6 miles, I’ll figure out the amount that I need to drink and double it. And now that they have Gatorade Zero, which has no sugar and I’ll take a few of those as a way to replenish my electrolytes.

At times, however, any good hiker might develop a thirst for a nice cold adult beverage. Especially if the hike you are on isn’t too strenuous and you have a nice view where you can sit for a while and contemplate life’s mysteries. Of course, the idea here is not to overdo it, because chances are you will have to drive home and you also don’t want to be a stupified slobbering mess walking down the trail.

Now please, I hope that in reading this you haven’t taken me too seriously. Hikers come in all ages, shapes and sizes and have their own rituals when it comes to preparing for a hike. I too, have my own rituals.

That is the glorious thing about hiking and adopting the lifestyle of a hiker. Being able to enjoy the outdoors doesn’t come in just one fashion or form. In my humble opinion, I believe that as long as you are out in the woods doing what you need to do, then you are ahead of the game.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

 

 

 

Hike Safely!

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With warmer weather upon us in the Northeast of the United States, that means many more people will be hitting the trails, myself included. As I have mentioned in several posts, I now treat even short day hikes as if I might have to spend a couple of days in the woods either due to injury or getting lost. Of course, everyone hopes that something like this never happens, but the one thing that I did learn last summer was that it is better to be safe than sorry. The couple of extra pounds of gear that I might now carry to guarantee keeping me warm and dry is well worth it.

I came across an article from National Geographic entitled, “Day hikers are the most vulnerable in survival situations. Here’s why. A new study looks at who lives and who dies when lost in the wild” that basically confirms what I have thought for a very long time. Basically, the majority of people who get lost and are put into situations where they have to spend a night or two, or three in the woods aren’t the backpackers, but instead, are the folks who planned only to be out for a day hike.

That is why I’ll say it again now, I am a strong advocate for people to prepare for a day hike as if you might have to be out in the woods for two or three days. I perfectly understand that when people head out for a day hike, they have no intention of getting lost or injured, but it happens.

Do you know how many people I’ve seen hiking carrying nothing but a small water bottle?

Here is the link to that article and to posts I have written that address the same subject. I’ll beat that dead horse just a little bit more, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/2019/04/hikers-survival-tips/?fbclid=IwAR3tsQZ0WB81OsYi1H3YHvX6sRzezRjH_jepLSDmpdzFJfmU8RM58hfcmIc

“Let’s Go Over The Basics…” from March 19, 2019 (The Zen Hiker)

“Hiking Solo? Leave An Itinerary!” from July 24, 2018 (The Zen Hiker)

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Stoic Hiking

Last night I wrote a post based on the three essential parts of the Stoic Philosophy:

Control your perceptions.

Direct your actions properly.

Willingly accept what’s outside your control.

When I did so, and I really don’t know why, I directed it at work because that was the first thing that I thought of. Now I want to spend some time to see how it relates to hiking. Sometimes I forget that this blog is primarily about hiking and I stray…just a little bit.

So how does this meditation pertain to hiking? Every time I plan a hike, especially one I haven’t done before (and those I have), I take out the map and do some planning. I will admit that every time I look at a map and see the contour lines close together my anxiety levels rise. Why? Because that means climbing hills. And the closer the lines are, the steeper the hill is.

My perception is that the hike will be difficult because of the hills and this then lends itself to thoughts about whether I want to do that hike or not.

As I continue my planning, I always think about whether or not I am prepared to do that hike. Obviously, some are more challenging than others and only you know what you are ready and capable of doing. So, in this case, you have to direct your actions properly. If you have been training then it shouldn’t be so bad.

Lastly, and most importantly, you have to willingly accept what is outside of your control. The hills, rough terrain and bad weather should mean nothing. Why? Because you have no control over them. They were there before you planned your hike, they will be there during your hike and they will most certainly be there after.

You just need to accept everything that goes with the hike and go for it. Imagine all of the people you won’t meet, the views that you won’t see and the pictures you won’t take because you let things that were out of your control dictate whether you hiked or not.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

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!!!

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Has Spring Sprung?

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
― Anne Bradstreet

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Early spring last year at Ward Pound Ridge

It’s amazing what a single day can do your mind and your psyche. Tonight at 5:58 pm marks the official start of spring. Even though the temperature on my way in this morning read 26 degrees, my brain was still stuck on the idea of it being spring. In the northeast you still have to expect chilly nights, but the days will certainly get warmer each and every passing day. With that will come no snow, no mud and hopefully long afternoons of hiking after school.

The high temperatures between now and Sunday range from 48 degrees today to 55 on Sunday. In that range however, you do see a 39 slipped in on Saturday. But the good thing is that a 39 degree day on Saturday March 23rd is just a little bit different than a 39 degree afternoon in the middle of November.

With that said, I am pretty sure that I will head out to Ward Pound Ridge a couple of times in the next few days to venture out on a 3.5 mile loop that isn’t that difficult.

Here’s some info about spring that you  might find interesting that I got from The Old Farmer’s Almanac:

The vernal equinox signals new beginnings and nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere! Many cultures celebrate spring festivals, like Easter and Passover.

Observe nature around you!

  • Worms begin to emerge from the earth. In fact, the March Full Moon is called “The Full Worm Moon” for this reason.
  • Notice the arc of the Sun across the sky as it shifts toward the north. Birds are migrating northward, along with the path of the Sun.
  • Speaking of birds, did you know that the increasing sunlight is what triggers birds to sing? Cool, eh? Enjoy our Bird Songs page.
  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day-length, too! Since ancient days, people have used them as indicators of when the weather is right for planting. For example: Blooming crocus are your cue to plant radishesparsnips, and spinachSee more of nature’s signs.
  • Of course, the longer days bring warmer weather! Both we and the animals around us strip off our clothes and heavy coats!
  • Ready, set, plant! March is time to start gardens and sow seeds in many regions. See the best planting dates according to your local frost dates or our Vegetable Gardening for Beginners guide for gardening tips!

Here is the website: https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox#

HAPPY HIKING!!!

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!!!