May 27, 2011

West Rim Trail 30-miler

It's been a long week. A long week full of travel misfortunes. Three out of my four flights were severely delayed.  Also, on three out of my four flights, I was seated in the very last seat next to the bathroom (hooray!). What are the odds? Nevertheless I was unlocking the door to my apartment at 2:00am this morning, and crashing hard. After spending the week in South Carolina and Georgia, I cannot adequately express how nice it is to be back in the Big Apple. I missed the hustle & bustle while I was stuck in the south.

Though I'm glad to be back, I won't be home during this long weekend either. A coworker invited me on a 3-day trek he and his college buddies are embarking upon this weekend. I'm pretty excited about it and look forward to putting in some miles. We'll be hiking the West Rim Trail in Pennsylvania. Headed north to south we will cover 30 miles known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. My gear is packed, camera battery charged and food has been picked out. I'll be eating dehydrated meals again on this trip, using my home-made alcohol stove. Minimal is the word on this trip: I'm bringing next to nothing with me this time. Ultra light all the way. I hope it doesn't rain the entire weekend!

May 22, 2011

Picture of the day

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago while I was in Shenandoah National Park. Great gnarly
tree out in the middle of the field...

May 17, 2011

Rainy camping & newts

Above: My tent; set up and ready for a storm.
This past weekend my friend Jay and I did a quick n' easy overnight on The Timp in Harriman State Park. Instead of taking the typical 3-4 mile route over West Mountain, we decided to take the easy way in and hike about a mile and a half in to The Timp along the 1777 Trail. Ominous weather threatened rain storms during the hike in and while we set up the tents, but it held off until after supper. Dinner for myself was one of Mountain House's dehydrated meals: Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken. It was actually pretty awesome. I used my MSR Isopro stove to boil the 1 1/2 cups of water for my noodle & bird rejuvenation. Hanging the bear bag proved to be quite comical. It took us entirely too long to loop some rope over a bow and hoist our smellables out of reach of bears/racoons.
Above left: the bear bag. Above right: view from my tent Sunday morning.
Above left: flowers growing on the west side of The Timp. Above right: The 1777 Trail.
I have to say, the rain was a big plus on this trip. The past several trips have all been in fair weather. Both Jay and I have the gear for wet conditions and there's nothing quite like riding out a thunderstorm on top of a mountain under a few thin sheets of vinyl. The rain also brought out some of the cooler critters you don't usually see. Namely newts. During Sunday morning's soggy hike out, we passed several bright-orange colored newts.

Above left: Blimey! A newt! Above right: A newt in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Above left: Jay hikes past a withered laurel tree. Above right: green life carpeting the rocks.
Above left: Rain bring out the best in nature. Above right: a rock cairn marks the junction of the 1776 trail and the Timp-Torne Trail.
Until next time...

May 10, 2011

Shenandoah National Park

I’m sitting in the Charlottesville Airport as I write this, perhaps the smallest airport I have ever been in. Looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains I sit in a rocking chair, while I wait for my flight to Dulles Airport in DC. I’m reminded of my short-lived career as an aircraft mechanic as I watch regional jets landing and taking-off every twenty minutes or so. I’ve spent the last two days in Charlottesville, and had a really good time. Luckily for me, I finished early yesterday and today and took advantage of what this area of Virginia had to offer.
Above: I had to pull over a few times on my way to Shenandoah National Park. The mountains just loomed higher and higher over the farm country; beautiful.

Yesterday I drove to Shenandoah National Park and drove north on the infamous Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive spans 105 miles, the entire length of the Park and features over 75 scenic overlooks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I entered the park about halfway up Skyline Drive and took it north 20 or 30 miles before stopping for dinner at Sky Land. It costs $15 to enter the park, however your receipt will get you in for the entire week, so I held on to that. This afternoon when I finished my work, I entered the park at about the same location and took it south. I stopped many times, got out, took pictures, meditated and even picked up a hiker who needed a ride. In general, I do not pick up hitchhikers, but being a backpacker myself, and seeing this hiker standing in the hot sun thumbing for a ride; I didn’t think twice about pulling over.
Above: A typical overlook along Skyline Drive.

I drove him to the southern end of the Park where he had started his northbound hike, four days earlier. During that 30-minute drive we exchanged several humorous stories of camping, fishing, loosing toenails and exchanged opinions on alcohol stoves and backpacking tents. Though I didn’t quite catch his full name when I dropped him near his car, he did say that he goes by the name of “Excuses”. It was nice meeting him and he left me with an even better opinion of Virginia than I had already gathered during the last two days here.

My flight to Dulles is just a connecting flight. From there, I catch another flight to Chicago. I’ll spend tonight and tomorrow night in the Windy City before flying home to NY on Thursday night. Looking forward to exploring Chicago; I’ve been there a couple of times before and had a good time. This time I plan to rent a bike and get more exploring in. I’ll be visiting a company, which will be supplying the passenger and cab seating for the WMATA Project. It may not be the most exciting facility, but I’ve been surprised before; you never know what to expect when auditing a new company. We shall see.