Tag Archives: gear

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?

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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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Adult Summer Turns to Fall (I’m Back!)

9 Oct

I had a realization sitting in awful traffic yesterday—I haven’t blogged in months and it’s uncool. There are a few reasons why—a big job layoff and subsequent job searching, moving, travel and otherwise awesome business. Excuses aside, here I am, now. 

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This I can say…I had a pretty awesome “adult summer” that is now shaping up to be a pretty awesome fall. What have I done with my (supposed) free time and freedom?

1. Oregon. Yes! The trip I gushed about months and months ago actually happened! I’ll blog in full about it soon because the pics are worth it.

2. Ithaca. Family lakehouse, relaxation, deep breaths and lake swimming. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

3. Indian Lake. Kayak camping on islands with the three important men in my life just as summer began to cool off to make way for autumn. Spectacular. Stay tuned for a post on that too.

4. Cohabitation. That’s right. Hardtack and I (and the Duchess) have officially shacked up. It means better meals for all, a fuller fridge for HT and less living out of a backpack for me. Plus, he cleans the kitchen. So far, so great.

I can’t wait to get back in a routine of sorts this fall and take on some delicious fall recipes, hikes and gear reviews. HT and I have both just gotten our hands on some new gear and I’m stockpiling fallish crockpot recipes so I’ve got plenty to share.

Good to be back. Happy candy corn season to all!!

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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

Aches, Pains & Gluten Free Grains (plus new gear!)

3 Jun

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We are falling apart.

Well, I am. And HT isn’t doing so well himself. After a flirtation with true exhaustion and a test of mental toughness over the weekend on the Devil’s Path in the Catskills, he doesn’t seem so eager to get back on the trails.

Me, on the other hand, I’m dying to hike but my body is not cooperating. I’m still recovering from my 15K-induced foot injury and persistent shoulder pain (I popped it out of joint a couple weeks ago, ouch). These combined leave me only able to bike on the recumbent bike and walk with an ankle brace on…no running, no yoga, no swimming, I’m dyin’ here!

All that aside, I am determined to get some hiking in this weekend, come hell or high water…I am going to be positive about it too!

And I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of some new gear!

New gear renews my motivation to hit the trail and put it to the test. Here’s what I have coming my way:

The Osprey Aura 50

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I gotta tell ya, I tried on a lot of packs. I really thought I was going to love the Gregory Sage 55 (HT has the men’s equivalent, the Savant 58), but when I tried it on, the fit was just wrong for me. I tried on the REI Flash 52, but the lightweight-ness meant sacrifices in comfort, for me. I also had high hopes for the Deuter Act Lite SL 45+10, and although it was alright in the comfort department, I decided I ultimately wanted a few more features, which led me to the Osprey Aura 50. I put this baby on and like magic, it made the same amount of weight I’d packed into the other packs feel suddenly lighter!

Hardtack will tell you, I’m a little picky about this kind of thing. I’d like to think of myself as “discerning”. I am the girl that orders “the salad special, without olives, without cheese, add avocado, if it’s not too much trouble?” The result is always delicious, trust me. With packs, I need to be a bit picky. I have shoulder and neck issues that have plagued me for years now and a lower back that acts up with very little provoking, so when choosing a pack, fit will always come before features. I think I may have gotten lucky with this one…maybe the best of both worlds? It does have some great features…but I’ll do a full review once I’ve used it. Can’t wait!

Thule System for my 2012 Mazda 3 Hatchback

Thule ARB47 AeroBlade Bars

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I figured if I’m going for it, I might as well get the nicer, quieter bars and hopefully cut down the tiniest bit on gas mileage over the next few years.

Thule 598 Criterium (x2)

Bikes on the go!

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Thule 835PRO Hull-a-Port Pro

Take a boat from port to port!

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I’m pretty psyched for this system. It’s a big investment, but hopefully one that is easy to use and allows me to take advantage of even more adventure opportunities. I’ll be sure to report back.

Merrell Proterra Vim Sport

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I’ve been told I need to try trail shoes or trail runners, entertaining an option other than my go-to Merrell Siren Sports or more traditional (and heavy) hikers. I got a great deal on these, so I have a pair on the way and I’ll let you know how they work out. I’m optimistic, though I’ll probably wear an ankle brace with them for a while.

Now, on to recent edible adventures.

The Recipes for Repair diet that HT was diligently following has now morphed into a bit of an overall lifestyle change, adopting a diet much lower in sugar (almost zero refined) generally gluten free and heavy in fresh foods and those made from scratch. In adapting to this new diet, we’ve found some real product gems that I think are worth sharing. Here we go!

Bonk Breaker Bars 

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I don’t eat nuts anymore, so these are my go-to flavors (Apple Pie and Blueberry Oat).  They taste like actual fruit. People have told me the PB&J varieties and other nutty delights are also really great. I love that in a world of added chemical stabilizers and manufactured proteins, these have very few ingredients, are gluten free and taste legit! The only drawback is price, but when I consider the quality of the ingredients, I think you get what you pay for and we are going to start buying by the case for less. Headstart in Portland swears by them too! She’s also GF.

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend

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I’m also big into baking as a stress reliever, but I don’t want to eat all the goods myself, so I’ve begun my explorations in the world of gluten free flours, so HT can also reap the benefits of my kitchen therapy. So far Pamela’s Products Artisan Flour Blend is the only one I’ve used and really liked, both in taste and behavior. I’ve successfully made muffins AND popovers with this blend…so I consider it a new staple.

That’s all for now, but the list will surely keep growing…

Other delicious GF suggestions? Thoughts on gear? I’d love to hear from you!

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This is Not Glamping.

16 May

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glamping: shorthand for glamorous camping; luxury camping.

I don’t know much about that. Somehow, in the midst of morphing from hikers to backpackers, HT has also managed to skip over any logical transition from “girl sleeps in bed, indoors, with running water” to “girl must conform to boy’s sudden ‘ultralight backpacker’ self-classification and must forego even basic comforts of life”. Do not get me wrong, I grew up camping every summer, but not carrying my gear on my back. I ask his counsel when shopping for gear in prep for this summer’s adventures and the man has done his research.

Apparently now we don’t even change our clothes.

We must upgrade from a hand-me-down 10-year old ThermaRest (but it was free!).

We don’t carry tons of extra water (but I’m a superhydrator!).

We must have titanium coffee mugs.

We shave ounces at all costs.

We shave legs to save leg hair weight. (OK, not that one. Carrying a razor would be required and that is just NOT ALLOWED).

I’m going along with it, ’cause Lord knows I dont’ actually want to be hauling a heavier pack than he is when he’s dragging my ass along the trail, but I’m just wondering if we might find a happy medium when we base camp with my family in the Adirondacks over Labor day weekend.

…maybe I’ll even bring a pillow.

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