Aug 27, 2019

Overlanding at Bald Eagle State Forrest

In the spring of this year, I was bitten by the Overland Bug. What is overlanding? Essentially, it is vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations. This sort of hobby is right of my alley for a few reasons: 1) You need a high-clearance 4X4 vehicle.  2) Camping is inherent to the activity. And 3) it's an activity chuck full o' adventure.

Although typically, overlanding trips are multi-day journeys, I have really only been "overlanding" once and that was just last weekend at Bald Eagle State Forest. Adria and I drove three hours to the forest where we navigated a planned 20 mile route across high-clearance off-road trails and dirt roads, terminating for the night at a campsite that we had reserved. Other trips have simply been camping trips where there was no need for four wheel drive, and my tires didn't really even see gravel. They were more or less just luxury car-camping trips utilizing my roof top tent. Nevertheless, I am excited at the prospect of future overlanding trips.

The above video was a lot of fun to make and I believe it to be just a small taste of what the future holds for me and my quest for adventure. Bald Eagle State Forest is huge, comprised of 193,424 acres of land spread across five counties in Pennsylvania. I'm sure I can put together at least a two or three day overland trip through this area. Maybe even include Michaux State Forest in the mix. Stay tuned!

Aug 23, 2019

I'm not dead!

I’m baaaaaack! I’m dusting the cobwebs off of this crumby little blog and breathing new life into it! I’ve been busy working hard & playing hard and it seems that Facebook has taken the place of the blog that I once loved to update and share with you all. I’ve got a lot of updating to do. I mean, hell, a lot has changed over the past few years that I’ve been away. Let’s break it down section by section, shall we?

Home is the suburbs of Philadelphia now. In June of last year, I came to a fork in my career path. I had to choose between continuing along the path that was slowly draining my health & happiness and a new and scary path, rife with challenge and unknown adventure. I chose the scary new path. That said, I no longer live in Maryland; the state I’ve loved so dearly for the past 8 years. Alas, I no longer live in that amazing old farm house nestled in the quaint and quiet country side of Carroll County. Gone are the late night bon fires, dips in the local reservoir and Natty Bohs down the road at A-Town. I miss it all very much. Still, I’m glad for the decision I’ve made. Faithfully, I followed my new compass heading and again my choice ended up being the right one. I’m happy to be here. 

That scary new path, I mentioned above took me to a new side of my industry. Although I still work in the passenger rail industry, I now consult the transit authorities on matters related to subway vehicle production and quality assurance. I work with great people, one of which is a very close friend of mine, and I don’t find myself stressed out, in a panic, or angrily working through my weekends.

Hobbies old & new
I’ve come to accept (finally) that the hobbies I once loved, have slowly become less important to me. Mountain biking specifically. This was once a huge outlet for me. It served as a way for me to get away from my social pressures and fly as fast and as far as I wished. Early morning cross country rides along dew-soaked fields and over the loamy, soft single-track in the woods of my hometown in NY was one of the most enjoyable and freeing experiences of my adolescence. I was fast, I was fit, I was free. Today, it’s just not the same. While I love the sport, the fun factor is not quite the same with my 41 year old, out of shape body. Still I do visit the downhill parks a couple times each summer.

Hunting remains a favorite hobby of mine. To date, nothing tops hunting with my father. It will forever remain my favorite part of life.

Photography has taken a backseat to film. I’ve really been enjoying videography and although my Sony A7 Mark III is ideal for motion pictures, I remain impressed by the footage I’m taking with my GoPro cameras. Although they lack any control over depth of field, the ease with which I capture fun footage continues to impress and amaze me. Check my YouTube channel for my most recent adventures at Bald Eagle State Forest.

Although I still have my truck, I traded my Jetta in for a 2 door Jeep Wrangler which I’ve named Samsquanch (A Trailer Park Boys reference). I went with the Sport model, although in hindsight the Rubicon would have been a much better choice. Nevertheless, the upgrades I’ve performed have been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot about the machine in the process. The ol’ Samsquanch has taken my girlfriend and I on many fantastic adventures, mostly overnight trips, which have been a hoot. My girlfriend Adria has very much enjoyed being a part of the wheeling lifestyle and has proven to be a great mechanic’s apprentice and copilot!

To recap the gap between my last blog entry and today’s I’ll let the below pictures do the talking. They’re supposed to be worth a thousand words anyway. Enjoy. Talk atcha’ soon!
"Squanchy": 2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport edition. 4.5" Metalcloak lift, 35" tires, Tom Woods drive shafts, Smittybilt bumpers, EAG rock sliders & rack, Steinjager spare tire carrier.

Little solo overnight trip to Eight Lake in the Adirondacks, this past June.

Despite moving to Pennsylvania, I still managed to eat a lot of crabs with Adria (Left) and my sister Kate (Right).

Lots of crabs.

I took Adria to the range and taught her how to shoot pistols. She's pretty good!

Beauty shot of Adria in Texas for a good friend's wedding.

Buttermilk Falls in the Adirondacks.

Got to see my folks a bit over this past winter :]
Adria and I had a good time in NYC this past Christmas!

I've done a lot of traveling with my new job. I've been to Japan a few times, Spain, Prague... and I stepped directly into a pile of dog poop in Italy. 

I filled the other eye in my Daruma Doll. Finally. Feels fantastic.

Adria and I did a lot of hiking this past summer. Including a 15 mile, two day trip along the Burrough's Range.
When I left my job at with my old company I was unemployed for a month and grew a ridiculous mustache. 

I certainly miss my old dive bar just down the road from the farm house. Adria and I had so many good times there!

Aug 14, 2017

Gimbals and Swivel Mounts; oh my!

I'm back! Another weekend at Blue Mountain, yielded another sore ass, dirty, sweaty pads and of some decent new footage from behind, over and around the bars. Pushing pride aside in the name of creative exploration, I hit the trails looking like R2D2, just to see if I could get some more exciting yet steady footage of what I enjoy most. I picked up a Rhino Swivel mount from Amazon to take advantage of the 360° coverage as well as a cable extension for my gimbal, which I mounted to my chest. The results are shown below. If you compare this video the last video I posted here, you ought to notice a lot more image stabilization. As I continue to ride at Blue Mountain, my cajones grow larger which means more speed and more exciting footage. For now, here's the latest from phattire headquarters!

Aug 2, 2017

DH ride at Blue Mountain

Fortunately, I got a few XC rides in this summer and for that; I'm thankful. A ride up in Jim Thorpe, PA and a few trips to my local trails at Hashawha have quelled my thrist for dirt and speed.

Although over the past few years, like the mold in my vegetable crisper, the urge to get into downhill (DH) mountain biking has been steadily growing. What once was an exciting thought has now become reality. A few weeks ago, I picked up a  used DH rig that I found on Pinkbike. It's a 2015 Specialized Status 1. In all my years of riding, this is my first "Spesh". After a quick bleed of the breaks, new tires, flat pedals, and overhaul of the drivetrain, she's running tip-top.  I took it out to Blue Mountain and we put eachother through our paces. I was exhausted after only 5 runs down the mountain. 7" of front and rear travel makes for a lot of bike but I am absolutely loving it! This is not to say DH riding is new to me. "Back in the day" I was quite a ballsy freerider, spending most of my weekends riding pirate huckle up at the Frederick Watershed. Those were the days. My bike was a beefy hardtail and my body was made of rubber. Young and fearless, you might say. Things are a little different today. I was quite reserved during my first day of riding this bike on the mountain. I got some hangtime and I carved some berms, but a lot slower than the rest of the riders at the park that day. Nevertheless, I did have my Gopros running and I put together the 3 minute video you see below. More soon.
Above: 2015 Specialized Status 1

Aug 22, 2016

Burroughs Range revisted

Back on July 12th, I posted with great enthusiasm about a recent re-hike of the Burroughs Range in the Catskills. This was awesome, but a killer for me. I'm pretty out of shape. Nevertheless, I packed light and planned to make the same 15 mile day-hike I had done years ago, into a two-day hike. I thought it'd be fun to take my time and enjoy it over a couple days at a leisurely pace. However, it was super hot, humid and muggy. I ended up putting in a good 10 miles on the first day because I couldn't decide on a good camping spot, and for a while had to hike until a legal site was available (There's no camping over 3,500'). And I got tired. Really tired. At times I thought someone would probably find my body (my sweaty, out of shape body) collapsed over a rock cairn; two empty Nalgene bottles at my side. Someone would say: "Geez, this guy was in rough shape! ...See if he's got any change in his pockets." Nevertheless, I traversed Wittenberg, Cornell and Slide Mountains and made it out with only the loss of one Teva. I am sure someone scratched their head upon finding only one Teva sandal on the trail. 

Aug 10, 2016

Phat biking

It's been quite a while since I made a video. This one, was fun to make. The entire video was shot using my iPhone 6S and edited on my iPad Pro. Im super happy with the results. It was a lot of fun to make for a few reasons. For starters, it was a perfect evening after work. I really wanted to be in the woods and the setting sun, smell of the pines and lush trails were just what I wanted. Secondly, it was a 'back to basics' ride; I used flat pedals, took no tools with me, and just wore a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. No lycra. No SPDs. No camelback. Just the essentials; like back in the day. At any rate, good times. Need to start doing this on a regular basis again!

Jul 12, 2016

The mountains are calling

I have not blogged in a coon's age, but I'll tell you what; I have been one busy man. A week off of work doing the things I most like, has gotten me really excited about backpacking again. Last week I hiked a nice 15 miles in the Catskills along the Burrough's range and Panther Ledge. I also spent part of the week with my girlfriend, Sara, in my childhood playground; the Adirondacks.  Just being up there in the mountains has really gotten me pumped about hiking the High Peaks of the 'Dax'.  Tonight, as I read trip reports and blogs of others who have hiked a lot of the exciting alpine routes of the park, I plan my own adventure along the the Lower Great Range Traverse in Keene Valley. In my delusional quest to conquer all 46 of the High Peaks, this traverse, albeit challenging, would bang out a few of the peaks in one shot (Upper & Lower Wolfjaw, Armstrong, Sawteeth & Saddleback). Stay tuned!

Oct 18, 2015

Life on the ol' farm

Hello interwebbers. Time for a serious update from phattire headquarters. I'm speaking to both of you, who follow this sad little blog. I am renting an excellent old farm house in Manchester, Maryland. The house was built in 1900 and is rife with character and the general old-timiness that  I love so much. It's lonely, but it's perfect for me. It's nestled right in the middle of a cluster of horse farms and the views out my windows are amazing. I don't think I'll ever get tired of walking out through the fields around my property. I have plenty of garage space for my bikes, it's got a great basement with a workshop, a timeless attic for my backpacking gear, hardwood floors, a great wood stove in the living room and here's the cherry on top: It's got a wood shed in the back, so my firewood will stay nice and dry as I burn through it this winter. It's been ages since I've posted, but I was up for the sunrise this morning and walked the frosty fields with my new camera, and just wanted to get some images up on the ol' bloggidy blog here. The rest of the day, holds a few projects for me. I've got the first batch of this year's pineapple-orange marmalade simmering away; so I've got to jar that. I'm also planning on filling a growler with some local IPA from Johannson's in town, so that I don't get thirsty watching a little football this afternoon. Perhaps a quick burn on the cross bike before I head into town... Be well friends.

Aug 2, 2015

Taking the plunge

Ever since I was a wee lad, I've been jumping off of the bridge that spans the junction between 6th & 7th Lake, of the Fulton Chain Lakes in the Adirondacks. It's been a cheap thrill each and every time. It was a pleasure to introduce my young nephews to it this summer! 

Jul 30, 2015

Dirt biking in the Dax

Yesterday was pretty epic. Since childhood, I have wanted to cruise around the Adirondacks on a dirt bike. Yesterday, that happened. I've had my Honda CRF 450X for about three years now, but it was broken for half that time and I haven't got a lot of throttle time accumulated. I'm still a bit timid on the bike but am feeling more and more confident with every ride. It was just great to rip through the logging roads and snowmobile trails up here in the 'Dax'.