Tag Archives: hiking

It’s March 26th Already?

26 Mar

I hate when bloggers disappear for months or years and then make excuses for not blogging.

So, I will pretend I’ve been blogging all along, with no hiatus to speak of – because you don’t deserve to listen to excuses and I shouldn’t be making them!

So what’s up in the world of Blue Bin and Hardtack today?

FACTS:

  • Spring is here, but it’s not. We’ve had a fire in the fireplace 2 of the last 4 nights.
  • We’re coming up on 6 months married (amazing!).

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  • I’m working on a travel bucket list for 2015.
  • We’re both in physical therapy for separate injuries (he’s recovering from surgery like a champ).
  • We took up cross country skiing this winter, and loved it (but have not yet purchased gear).

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  • We have been cooking less than we should – let this be a public proclamation of intention to improve upon that.

 

So – look for some throwback posts over the next couple months as I share things worth sharing that I may have missed (our honeymoon!!!), some future planning posts to keep the fires of excitement burning for new adventures and new travels (island kayak camping with old friends!), and hopefully some guest posts (ahem, Portland cousin who shall not be named)!

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Good to be back (not that I was ever away).

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On Wedding Planning in the Year of Love

22 Aug

I’ve learned a few things over the past 6 months. And not about outdoor gear or survival techniques or even healthy cooking and baking. About weddings.

Here’s what happens. You get engaged. You VERY briefly enjoy that amazing phase. The planning somehow sneakily begins…and does not end until (I am guessing) the moment you leave for the honeymoon.

Here we are, waist deep in wedding planning with a date just under 2 months out. And all we can think is, where has our hiking time gone? When will we fish? Where do we fit in a bike ride? It’s not that we don’t fit it in…on occasion. We DO want to look good for this wedding, after all.

We’re sane people. We have taken wedding planning as calmly and in as laid back a manner as possible. But, that said, I laughed when my friends who were married earlier this year said, “I don’t care how laid back you are, you WILL cry during this process” – and then they showed me. Cried twice, yelled once, was yelled at once and overall have felt so much more stress than I ever thought possible!

I know it’s all because I have high expectations of myself, of  creating an event that is true to our values, our style and our overall vibe – and I’m lucky in that very little of that expectation comes from sources outside of me and HT. Our parents are nothing but supportive (though they questioned our guest list at times) and have basically stated their hands-off support of our plans – offering hands when we decide to delegate. It’s generally worked out well…but it’s meant a lot of work.

We’ve deemed 2014 the “Year of Love”. We attended 4 weddings rapid-fire at the beginning of the summer, had to decline invites to two, and will attend at least one more before ours in October.

 

 

Let’s just say we’ve been taking notes…and the weddings that impressed us the most had a few things in common. We’ve decided to prioritize a few key areas in planning our own wedding, and people love lists  so let’s call it…

 

Our Top 5 Priorities in Planning Our Wedding:

 

1. Authenticity.

A ceremony that screams “I was selected from a list of 3 options presented by the officiant” tends to feel like an exercise in going through the motions. The weddings that struck us the most had music that felt personal, traditions that felt grounded in something real for that couple, and religious elements that truly seemed to resonate with the bride and groom. One thing we were reminded of over and over was the impact of writing your own vows. Rest assured, ours will be original. My mom’s wedding featured an interpretive dance and let me tell you, no one questioned the authenticity of that performance!

 

2. Feed the People. 

I swear I am going to start packing Bobo’s Oat Bars in my wedding clutch. Why is it that on more than one occasion, we ended up eating three slices of wedding cake out of pure hunger? Our takeaway…food need not be fancy if it A) tastes good and B) there’s plenty of it. Now don’t get me wrong – there are exceptions to my observations. One amazing Summer of Love wedding in BK featured spectacular farm-to-table, extremely intentional and gorgeous food. There, we did not leave hungry or less than impressed by any course, “fancy funfetti” cake included. A friend’s wedding in Canandaigua featured fried, salted spaghetti at the bar. Yum. There are a million ways to go with food, but HT and I agree, feed the people, and let them eat cake.

 

3. Speaking of Cake.

Wedding cakes can be gorgeous, but they’re not for us. Never a couple to skip a good treat (when it’s been earned with a hike, of course), we put flavor over fancy when it comes to desserts, so the traditional, hulking, towering cake, precariously transported and occasionally dry and tasteless, though impeccable, is not our pick for the special day. We’re working on desserts that taste great and make you drool to look at them… and there may be ginger snaps.

 

4. Forget Tradition for Tradition’s Sake. Not one of the weddings we attended this summer featured a bouquet toss, or a garter toss, or tossing of rice or birdseed or lavender or anything else Pinterest suggests. And guess what, everyone survived! We say, toss traditions and expectations that mean nothing to you, keep the ones that do.  Thus, we’ll have a father-daughter dance but we’ll skip the receiving line. We’ll cut the cake, but only so we can eat it! Every element that makes it to our wedding will be the product of thoughtful intention to include it by choice. Nothing is assumed, and we love that when our upstate NY, Carharrt wearing “wedding planner” says “now where would you like us to place the arbor” we can say, “what arbor, we don’t want an arbor, we have these gorgeous pine trees, and each other. That’s all the backdrop we need.” We’re doin’ it our way and it seems to be working.

 

5. Take Care of Your Guests, but Remember They Are (mostly) Grown Adults

HT and I keep falling into a trap where we realize that one  or the other of the two of us is getting stressed out and wrapped up in where our guests will be staying, who is staying with whom, how they ‘ll get there or when they’ll arrive. Then we take turns reminding each other that we can only give the people the info they need; we cannot force them to follow through, show up or confirm their reservations. At the end of the day, with the exception of the kids we’ve invited ( and we’re psyched there will be kids!) – these people are trusted adults who can manage themselves, and we have to trust them to do so – we have enough going on!

 

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve enjoyed much of the planning process and we’ve slashed and vetted so many elements of the “modern wedding” that didn’t feel right or necessary for us. But an intentional, authentic, personal wedding takes time and effort to create. We’ve said to each other many times, we love and anticipate our wedding, as it’s shaping up, but it’s a good thing we love each other even more. It will be a refreshing, welcome change to just be two married people, enjoying each other again when this is said and done.

 

Stay tuned and I just might share some photos…wedding porn, as my dear Colombian Cuz knows I like to call it.

 

XO

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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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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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