Tag Archives: outdoors

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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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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Do these Merrells make me look fat?

14 May

Yes, they do. They create a spectacular cankle phenomenon, especially when paired with high socks. But do I care?

If you hike with me, you’ll hear me say it. My hiking clothes are, for lack of a better word, a little mannish. I’ve tried to infuse femininity into my trail wardrobe but when it comes down to it, sexy and cute never prove to be practical, and if I’m ten miles into the woods and truckin’ along…

I’ll take performance over pretty any day.

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AT, Smokies in NC/TN (Spring ’13)

A 90 degree hike in Beacon, NY (Summer '12)

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Presidential Traverse, White Mts, NH (Summer ’12)

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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…

HIKE & EAT: Bear Mt. & Birthday Treats

4 Mar

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Hikes taken with HT are a little hardcore, always fast-paced and embody our “Hike the Hard Way” mentality. I like that, usually.

This weekend was different.

To my delight, my sis and some close girlfriends ventured ALL THE WAY out to the country from Manhattan and Brooklyn to celebrate my birthday with a girls-only hike on Saturday. For their lack of trail names, let’s call them (in order) Brooklyn, Blondie and Bells (Blue Bin Barbie fits right in!). No one made me the cake, above, but it does embody our day. Sweet and outdoorsy.

Brooklyn, Blondie, Bells, BBB

So they took the train to Peekskill (easy!), we awkwardly stopped at a really enthusiastic tea room in Peekskill for a pit stop and herbal tea (I had a bad cold) and headed toward a favorite hike HT had suggested up Storm King Mountain.  The city girls wore sneakers and even outfitted in my trusty Merrells, we quickly deemed the trail too icy to be safe or fun.

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We re-routed and decided to go for a sure-thing hike up Bear Mountain, just over the Bear Mountain Bridge in Bear Mountain State Park. The girls were impressed by the pretty buildings in the park and we all loved the smell of wood stove in the air as we passed the outdoor skating rink full of happy, chilly kids. I’d say the one drawback of this hike is that ANY time of year, they charge $8 per car for parking. As we were forking over the cash I remembered why HT and I usually park across the bridge along the road and walk to the park. C’est la vie, this time. At least there were public bathrooms.

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The backpacker’s porn loophole.

9 Feb

As Ruxin found the Sports Bra Bounce Test porn loophole on the League (he’s not allowed porn in the house by his wife, but thinks this an appropriate cheat), I have found the backpacker’s porn loophole. 

Have you met Cindy?

Holy guacamole. I’m a lady and I couldn’t tell ya now how to shower in the woods. Yeah, I got distracted.  The funniest part to me is this lady actually knows the outdoors. She might just be the real Backwoods Barbie. She and her husband Mike spend a lot of time outside and have a series of Hiking/Backpacking Tips videos (and lots of other crazy series) on their YouTube channel. I gotta say, How to Stay Clean is still the most, ahem, “informative”.

If your hiking partner suddenly subscribes to SoulSurvivorX2, just know they may be “learning” more than you think. But who can complain…sudden acquisition of outdoor skills helps us all on that dusty trail, whoever the teacher.

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The Long Trail: A Thru Hike For The Working Man

8 Feb
Time will tell if I go the shelter route.

Time will tell if I go the shelter route.

A few months ago I decided it was time to plan a hike on America’s oldest long distance hiking trail.  The Long Trail, inspiration for the creation of the Appalachian Trail, stretches over 270 miles through the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont border to Canada.  Despite a high point of only 4,395 at the summit of Mt. Mansfield,  the Long Trail averages 500 vertical feet of gain or loss per mile for its entire length, nevermind that it is renowned for the presence of rain, mud and bugs.  By all accounts, it is a deceptively difficult trail, especially in the North.

Long enough to be a challenge, short enough to keep my job, the Long Trail seems like a good fit for now.

Since Christmas I have been doing my research.  Yes, I like to do a lot of research, especially when it comes to gear.    But, for this hike, I have to prepare for 270+ miles and gear is only part of my preparations.    As much as I hike now, the vast majority of my ventures are day hikes.  I’ve relied heavily upon Bob McGraw‘s “End to Enders Guide” and the Green Mountain Club‘s “Long Trail Guide” and official Vermont’s Long Trail Map in my planning.  All three are terrific and offer tremendous information and advice.

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Philip Werner’s www.sectionhiker.com (highly recommended), also offers an experienced perspective.  An example—he is a strong advocate of using the shelters provided on the trail to avoid wet nights and wet gear.  There was a time when I wanted to hike the AT, but all the accounts I read of mouse-ridden shelters have taken their toll.  I will be using a tent on this LT trek.  I’m guessing I can handle the extra 1-2 lbs. Mice or tenting in the rain?  Right now I prefer rain.  I’m sure Phil is right, but as I write from my warm, dry house, I plan 100% on using a tent each night.

As a precursor to the Long Trail, Blue Bin and I plan on tackling the infamous Devil’s Path in the Catskills.  If you are not familiar with the Devil’s Path, it is arguably the toughest hike in the East.  In a mere 24 miles, you endure over 14,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.  At the very least, after completing the Path I expect to be a bit more trail-ready and hopefully test my gear a bit.  As for Blue Bin, she plans to join me for the beginning of my Long Trail hike.  This of course, is assuming she is willing after a weekend on the Devil’s Path.  Stay tuned.

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