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I gotta fever. And the only prescription is less cabin.

27 Mar

I’m sick of the indoors. Even our charming love shack. Sick of the cold. Sick of the exorbitant cost of oil heat. Sick of making tea instead of smoothies. Sick of wet wood in the fireplace and dirty snow on the sidewalks.

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But I’m trying to channel happy. Spring, my usual least favorite season, is coming. It has to be. ‘Tis the season for eyeing new outdoor gear, making hike hit lists and planning excursions!

Allow me to share our trip list for 2014 (a work in progress).

  1. Block Island, RI
  2. Indian Lake, NY
  3. Baton Rouge, LA (sis just got residency placement down south!!)
  4. Ithaca, NY
  5. Richmond, VA (it’s a NASCAR thing)
  6. Honeymoon TBD!!!!! (out west is the plan)

And our hike list:

  1. Devil’s Path
  2. Breakneck Ridge (a holiday tradition)

What have we missed?

We Snowshoe Now. On Date Night.

15 Feb

Winter won’t leave us alone.

So instead of deprived and freezing hikers we’ve become enthusiastic snowshoers, embracing the never-ending snow and making tracks in all weather!

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In fact, yesterday, we took a lovely loop at Topstone Park in Redding, CT (of previous post fame) for a little Valentine’s day celebration and it was just beautiful in the almost-setting sun. It was my idea of a perfect V-day….a morning spent shopping for a very important dress with my sis, breaking a sweat snowshoeing with my man and our pup, an evening spent cooking and drinking moscow mules in the comfort of our love shack cottage. I just don’t think life gets better.

Back to the woods…We’re currently renting some MSR Lightning Ascents and are liking them…certainly an upgrade from my much lesser Red Feathers of the past and we both throw snow baskets on our trekking poles, and voila! The only one that struggles a bit is Miss P. Her paws are small and her enthusiasm doesn’t quite match her efficiency in inches and inches of snow and ice. But she does look badass, or cute, in her Ruffwear jacket. There’s something about a snowshoe trail with just the right amount of pack, just the right softness of snow and the untouched nature of the rest of the woods that make it a special way to experience the woods in the winter. Plus, it kind of makes me feel like those hardcore survivalists who live off the land in Alaska, trapping and snowshoeing and fending off bears. Except I’m wearing DriDown and Gore-Tex instead of fur and leather. I guess they have me beat.

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Also, we’re in the midst of also researching xc ski trails and rentals in the area. It’s the next winter sport on our list, as I refuse to go ice skating, considering HT’s pro hockey history and my relative lack of coordination on slippery surfaces and hip injury…we’ll see how long it takes him to wear me down. XC skiing though is something I enjoyed in the past and would really like to get better at, and something HT hasn’t yet tried.

Sounds perfect for 2014, the year of change and trying new things!

How do YOU get outdoors in this oppressive winter weather?

Bra Burning & 90s Gear: Backpacking Mt. Greylock, MA

21 Oct

HT and I agree hands-down, fall is the #1 season of the year. So, we took a little trip up to the Berkshires two weekends back to fit in a backpacking trip before the weather gets colder and our weekends get busier. Leaves, chilly nights and new toasty gear, fires, what’s not to love?

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We’d just picked up the AMC’s Best Backpacking New England book so we started there in deciding on a hike and we landed on the “Have a Grey Day” Mt. Greylock loop. I love how this book titles its hikes like the Abs Diet titles their recipes.

We also just got our hands on a new digital luggage scale (cool!) so we packed up our packs and weighed them for the first time. Yikes. Can you guess how much we carry for ONE NIGHT in the woods? Well first, I was super impressed with my base weight of 14.7lbs. But then, I added water and a few more toiletries. And I’m a BIG hydrator so I don’t skimp. Hello 24 lbs. Sheesh.  HT’s pack was heavier still…I’ll have to ask him to reweigh so I know for sure. To be fair, he carried the tent and a bit of my food…thus the uneven loads. And he’s a gentleman, of course.

So we headed into the woods with our usual gear and some grub left over from the Long Trail stock up (Mary Jane’s Farm Organics, Umpqua oats- now at Costco!) plus a box of those delicious Anna’s super-thin ginger snaps. We started up the mountain mid-day (later than we ‘d hoped) amidst beautiful changing leaves and rolling farm country hills. The trail from the bottom is the Hopper Trail, which meandered for a bit before it started to climb and climb. I was happy to hear HT huffing and puffing as much as I was on some stretches. I stopped him at one point to remind him that I’d been not only out of the hiking groove a little lately but also hadn’t carried a pack since early July. I just wanted to be clear that this hike was not a race. To me, at least.

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The trail was gorgeous. In that area, the leaves had clearly already peaked but enough remained on the trees to make for some spectacular forest views as the sun descended in the sky. There’s also just something so striking about orange and red leaves rimming a flowing creek. I love that kind of imagery.

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Mud, Sweat & Tears: The Long Trail 2013

12 Jul

It’s been a while!

There are many, many reasons why, but the biggest may be that we’ve been prepping for Hardtack’s Thru Hike of the Long Trail in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains. I’m happy(ish) to report, he’s deep in the mountains now!

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I’m also happy to report that I successfully completed the first 58 (or so) miles of the trail with him last week, July 2-6..so today’s hike profile will cover my stint as a Long Trail section hiker!

To begin at the beginning…

DAY 1

We started our journey with an early morning run to Stop & Shop to A) dump the change HT had been saving as his Trail Fund in the CoinStar machine; and B) grab some last minute fresh food (wax-coated extra sharp VT cheddar and apples).

Then we drove to Enfield, CT to drop the Duchess off at her country retreat (aka grandmother’s house) for the duration of HT’s hike. HT’s mom graciously drove us to the (rough around the edges) Springfield, MA bus station, where we caught a bus to Williamstown, MA, where the LT (sort of) begins.

We jumped off the bus somewhere near the middle of town and navigated to a coffee shop and hippie sandwich joint based on HT’s memories of the town from traveling through in his hockey coaching days. We packed a sandwich for our first night’s dinner, charged up our phones and walked….2+ miles…to the trailhead (talk about an annoying 2 miles).

Note: The trailhead was not the beginning of the Long Trail, as we were actually still in Massachusetts. We proceeded to hike the Cobble Hill Trail to take us to the Long Trail. We didn’t even BEGIN hiking until 5pm on Tuesday night. Hardcore, right?

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And of course, the SECOND we stepped foot into the woods, the skies opened up and the downpour didn’t stop until we reached the…

Seth Warner Shelter (the first on the LT, NOBO/northbound) where we pitched camp and attempted to dry off before scarfing down sandwiches and passing out.

DAY 2

Next morning, we picked slugs out of our soaking shoes, put our wet trail clothes back on and suited up for another day of anticipated rain. The rain held off but the mud more than made up for it. Continue reading

Get Me Outta Here!

29 Apr

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore
There is society, where none intrudes
By the deep sea, and music in its roar
I love not man the less, but Nature more

-byron

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I sit at my desk today with a stress fracture in my foot and my darn crutches leaned up against my desk, stalking SmartWool 2012 closeouts and dreaming of dehydrated trail meals. Hardtack spent his weekend backpacking a stretch of the AT in Harriman State Park with a hiking buddy, testing out some new gear and soaking in the first gorgeous weekend of the spring. I’ll encourage him to post some reviews and pics.

I’m wondering when I’ll be back in the woods…

A Celebration in Asheville, NC: The Ithaca of the South

22 Apr

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Oh what a treat. I recently returned from a great trip to Asheville, NC with my (big) little broski. He even earned a trail name on the trip. I’ll reveal that in a minute. The trip feels like a blessing now, considering the past year’s events…

Why Asheville, you ask?

We’ve both been told for years, “Ya know what town you’d really like? Asheville. It’s like the Ithaca of the South.” So about a year ago, we planned a trip, just for fun. Our sis had a companion flight she donated to the cause and we booked an airbnb. Then the unthinkable happened and one year ago today, little bro got in a really, really brutal car accident. He teetered on the edge of survival and was in the hospital and rehab for months. He underwent surgery after surgery and my family took turns manning his bedside. On top of repairing damage to internal organs, he had extensive, complicated orthopedic reconstruction in his hip and ankle (which he’d previously had reconstructed after jumping off the 2nd story porch onto a trampoline. lovable idiot.).

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HIKE : Taughannock North Rim Trail & Gorge Trail (Ithaca, NY)

3 Apr

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As promised, before Spring is ACTUALLY upon us, I want to share a favorite, favorite hike when I go back to Ithaca, NY, my happy, hippie hometown.

Taughannock Falls State Park is located just down the road from my Mom’s house, on the outskirts of Ithaca proper. It’s on the west side of Cayuga Lake and ultimately the falls feed into the lake at Allan H. Treman State Park.

A couple weekends back Hardtack and I took a little trip to Ithaca and I finally got to introduce him to some of the waterfalls of “Ithaca is Gorges” fame. We hiked at Taughannock two days in a row because he was so impressed by the scenery.

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On Saturday, my mom and family pooch Moose, AKA Macybean joined us for a short but beautiful trek. We parked on the turnoff on Gorge Road, just up the hill from the intersection with Willow Creek Road. You can see it in the bottom left quarter of this little map. Start hiking up the gorge from here (a left turn into the woods from your car). Continue reading

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