Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Golf - Whispering Pines

Neighbor Jay and I went to Whispering Pines for an early round this morning. It was good we got there when we did, since a women's league apparently started not far behind us. That would have been SLOOOOW. One was even trailing her small dog - sheeesh! As it was, we got around in less than 3 hours, this only being a course of almost all par 3s.


  • I started both the front and back nines with 3-3-4-3-3, and had 10 pars total
  • Chipping was much more consistent today in general
  • Putting was also mostly pretty good (30 putts), with a couple longer ones sunk
  • No lost balls
  • Only hit 4/18 greens from the tee
  • Two 3-putts
  • Missed a 4-foot birdie putt
  • A 7 and a 6 to ruin each nine
Overall, I had a 69 (par 55), which is 3 strokes worse than the last round I played there. If not for the two bad holes, it would have been a very good round.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Biking - Grant Hill Road Loop

Back in the saddle for a real ride, the first in quite a while. Details here...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sailing and Bicycling - Great Sacandaga Lake

Spent the afternoon at the camp of some friends on great Sacandaga Lake. It was a windy day, so they took us out on their small sailboat, a pastime I know nothing about. It was a nice day to be on the water. After that, we bicycled about 10 miles on South Shore Road, north of Edinburgh, then had drinks and dinner. Nice day.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

15.76 miles on a humid evening. Details here...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Canoeing - Mohawk River

Some friends suggested a morning paddle, and since the Mohawk River is right in our figurative backyards, we decided to stay close to home and avoid any weather issues. We paddled from Rotterdam Kiwanis Park to the Mabee House and back, and were out for a little over an hour and a half. It got kinda warm and muggy as the morning went on, and the number of larger motorboats also began to increase. Better to do this one early in the morning when it's cool and calm.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Biking - Mohawk River Bike Path

A break in the thunderstorm action this afternoon, so I got out for a 17-mile ride along the river. Details here...

Golf - Players Park

The past few rounds of golf have shown me that my short game needs a lot of fine tuning. So, with a short window of opportunity between storms, I headed off to Players Park, a nine-hole pitch-and-putt course, with no hole longer than 90 yards. I played 2 balls on most of the holes (illegally), just for extra practice, since the course was almost deserted. There was nothing remarkable about this round - I hit about a third of the greens, made a 15-foot par putt, and almost chipped in once for a birdie. No 3-putts for a change, and mostly pars and bogies. The only 2 double bogies were on the last hole, and I finished with a 35/34 for the two balls. The short game still needs lots of work, but that's a couple of shots better than the last time I played there.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hiking - Crane Mountain

At 3254', Crane is one of the highest mountains in the southern Adirondacks. The trailhead is at 2100', and the trail climbs those 1154' in only 1.4 miles, so it's a steep and steady climb. I had signed up to lead this trip for Schenectady ADK on what turned out to be a warm and steamy day. Three others signed up to go along, all of whom were friends and strong hikers.

Near the summit is this ladder, installed on one of the steepest pitches, improving access to those who were intimidated by the rock face. I climbed the rocks to the left of the ladder.

The summit itself offers the usual mountain views, but on this day, the air was so hazy that we moved on to a more spectacular view a little farther along. We ate lunch with this view of Crane Mountain Pond several hundred feet below us.

After lunch, the plan was to descend to the pond, a possible swim for anyone who was interested, and then climb the northwestern ridge shown beyond the pond in that picture. There's no trail on that ridge, but simply zig-zagging from one patch of open rock to the next makes for a pretty easy trip to its highest point, which provides a nice view back toward Crane over the pond.

We descended to the pond, picked some blueberries, and then some swam while others continued picking berries. This view of Crane from pond-level shows the large bare spot near the summit where we had lunch earlier.

When we reached the top of the ridge, the view over the pond back toward Crane was somewhat obscured by trees, and this shot was the best we could do. Again, the bare spot is where we had lunch earlier.

But the real highlight of this ridge was the undisturbed blueberries. We spent about an hour just picking them by the handful, filling whatever empty lunch containers were available. This ridge will now forever be known to us all as Blueberry Ridge.

After about an hour of this, we started hearing thunder in the distance, and decided it would be wise to get down off the high ground. We headed down the ridge to the pond, and from there, back to the trailhead. It was a steep descent with thunder and rain threatening, but we got down to the easier part of the trail before any serious rain arrived, and the sun was out again when we reached the car.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Biking and Lunch - Saratoga Springs

A short ride in the Saratoga area with some Long Island friends who were vacationing at their condo. Details here...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hiking - Big Eddy

Big Eddy is a wide calm spot on the West Branch Sacandaga River, near Wells, NY. It's a great swimming spot, and since today was going to be hot again, my birthday wish was to hike in there and go for a swim. It's about a 2-mile walk on an unmarked trail from the dead end of an 8-mile dirt road, and it's a weekday, so we expected to have the place to ourselves. Little did we know that the Town of Wells Recreation Department was sponsoring a hike for kids today to the same spot. When we saw the group of 40 signed in at the trail register, we almost turned around and went elsewhere. Luckily for us, they were on their way out as we were headed in, so we did indeed have the river to ourselves.

We first had to wade across Hamilton Lake Stream, a tributary, to get to the eddies and waterfalls further in on the Sacandaga. The water really is this color, due to the tannin in the water from the bark of all the hemlocks that line the streams.

After crossing this tributary, we reached the Sacandaga itself. There are two large pools, or eddies, in this stretch of the river, and between them lies a stretch of rapids, with many large boulders visible at low water. It's a very scenic spot.

After passing the first eddy and the rapids, we reached our destination, Big Eddy, had lunch, and went for a swim. The water was breathtakingly cool at first, but very pleasant once we got used to it. The water was mostly about 4-5 feet deep in this pool, with some deeper spots and some large boulders just under the surface that provided great places to sit and relax. Hmmmm - a birthday swim. Don't think too hard about that one.... ;-)

We didn't continue upstream from this point, but there are known to be some spectacular waterfalls and a deep gorge that the river passes through. Another time perhaps. With thunder in the distance, we packed up and headed out. The rain didn't hit until we were at the ice cream place in Wells having our customary post-hike treats.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hiking - Big Slide Mountain

At 4240', Big Slide is the 27th highest of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks over 4000'. It was also the first of those 46 that I ever climbed, back in 1973. It's about a 9-mile loop, with 2800 feet of elevation gain, so it's a pretty good hike. The trail passes over "The Brothers", open minor summits with views, much of the way to Big Slide itself. It's a very pretty hike, and today, the blueberries were also in profusion. This made for slow going for our ADK group of 8 hikers.

On this trip, I neglected to capture the classic profile of Big Slide from Third Brother, but I hope this sketch will do it justice. I did this sketch on that 1973 trip, and it shows the open rock face on the front of the mountain, above which we had lunch and enjoyed the stupendous views.

As we approached the upper reaches of the mountain, a side trail led to a viewpoint alongside the steep open face. It's one of my favorite views in the Adirondacks, with the whole Great Range visible across the Johns Brook Valley.

A little higher, on the actual summit, we stopped for lunch and admired the even more expansive views. As always, click on this panorama for a larger image. Mount Marcy, at 5344' the highest point in New York State, is at the far right.

It took us a little under 4 hours to reach the summit, and about 3 hours to return to the car, on a very pretty and comfortable hiking day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hiking - Clockmill Pond

Clockmill Pond is found off the Powley-Piseco Road in the southern Adirondacks, and is completely surrounded by state forest preserve land. After a 1.2-mile walk on a snowmobile trail, there's a faintly marked unmaintained path that leads to the lake. Because of a lot of blowdown on this path, we lost it on the way in, but still found our way to the shores of this lovely lake. This was our lunch spot:

After lunch, we bushwhacked to the southern shore, to a large rock that juts out into the lake. It looked like a great spot for a swim. I wasn't sufficiently motivated, but the others spent some time in the water while I just sat and admired the surroundings.

We decided that we somehow need to get a canoe back into this lake. There was much of it that we could not see, and many hidden coves and bays. 1.6 miles each way is a long way to carry a full-sized canoe, so we're thinking of wheeling it in instead. On the way back to the car, we did a fair amount of clearing on the overgrown unmaintained path, to make getting a canoe to the lake easier than it would have been otherwise. Hopefully, we'll get back there later this summer and do some further exploring.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Biking - Grant Hill Loop

Another mostly nice day, with some afternoon showers threatening, so I got in a 20-miler before lunch. Details here...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

Beautiful evening for a long climb, and I was more than up to it. Details here...

Golf - Hillcrest Golf Club

Well, the first 6 holes were wonderful. At that point I was only 5 over par, with 3 pars, 2 bogeys, and a triple. Then I lost a ball, flubbed a pitch, and took an 8 on a very short par 4. On the next hole, my drive was dead center, 80 yards from the green, and I again flubbed the pitch. The next shot was on, and I 3-putted from 20 feet. Argggghh! Overall, I had a 48, which was +11 for the nine holes, and 2 strokes better than last week. I definitely need some short game practice to improve my consistency.


  • Parred the 1st hole, a real confidence booster
  • Dropped a 20-foot putt for par on the 4th hole
  • Mostly hit everything pretty well, both woods and irons
  • Finished with another par on a 5-foot putt
  • 4 pars and 2 greens reached in regulation
  • Triple bogey on #2, including a bad pitch and a 3-putt
  • Lost ball and bad pitch on #7, leading to an 8
  • Bad pitch and 3-putt on #8 - should have been an easy par

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A couple of short local rides

Iffy weather for the past few days. Got in a couple of short ones today - details here...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Canoeing - Great Sacandaga Lake

Spent the day at the camp of some friends on Great Sacandaga Lake, a large reservoir in the southern Adirondacks. Aside from good food and good conversation, we also spent about an hour paddling, mostly along the shoreline of the lake. It was breezy, and numerous motorboat wakes also made for interestingly choppy conditions.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Biking - Local climb

Need to start tackling some hills in preparation for next month's Vermont trip, so I took one on today. Details here...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Canoeing - Sand Lake

Without revealing its exact location, and causing a stampede, Sand Lake is in the southern Adirondacks, about 2 hours from home. It's surrounded by state land, so there are no camps or other structures, and no other boats. It's about a half-mile carry from a nearby dirt road, which is usually muddy and buggy, but the paddling is worth the work to get there. We go here a couple of times every summer, and rarely see another soul. This being 4th of July weekend, there was one other canoe on the lake - big whoop. It was a beautiful day to be on the water.

There's a very nice swimming rock on one side of the lake, and we always stop there after paddling around for a while. I probably swim about half the time, but Holly even brings an inflatable air mattress and always goes for a dip.

We almost always see loons when we come here, and today was no exception. First, as we paddled up an inlet to the lake, we saw a loon sitting on its nest on a small island in a marshy area away from the main lake. Then, as we were sitting on the swimming rock, a loon kept approaching closer and closer, and even made its eerie sound as it sat in front of us.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Biking - Mohawk River Bike Path

Squeezed in a quick ride between batches of rain. Details here...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Golf - Hillcrest Golf Club

Beautiful sunny day in the low 80s, so I was trying to figure out a good bike ride. Finally decided biking didn't appeal to me, and golf did, so that's what I did. Nice to have choices, time, and flexibility!

Hillcrest is a 9-hole par-37 layout, with wide open fairways and only the occasional out-of-bounds markers. There's just not a lot of trouble on this course, and that's what I needed for my first go at a full-length course.

The highlights were few:

  • Mostly hit everything relatively straight
  • No lost balls
  • Two pars to finish the 9 holes
On the other hand:
  • Hit a driver OB on a long par 5, followed by several less than excellent shots to get back on track. Got a 10 on that hole - blecccch
  • Woods started going astray to the right, just like they always have
  • Short game had no touch. Chips were usually not very close
  • Consistency was definitely missing
Finished with a 50, so this was no worse than I used to play in that previous life. I guess I just need to be a little more patient, and know that this will take time to hone these skills. Hillcrest is a good place to do that, and at only $14 for 9 uncrowded holes, it's cheap, close, and not time-consuming to get in a 9-hole round. I'll definitely be going back.