Monday, September 29, 2008

Hiking - In Search of Local Waterfalls

That wasn't originally the purpose of today's walk. I was actually somewhat disappointed that the roads didn't dry out, and the weather improve, in time for a worthwhile bike ride. So I settled for hiking the 4-5 mile loop at the Plotterkill Preserve instead. It's possible to go here and either "hike" or "walk", depending exactly what you're looking for. There are miles of trails and steep terrain, so a good workout is possible less than 30 minutes from home.

When I started down the trail from the car, I was surprised to hear the unusual (for here) sound of a lot of water running. After a few days of rain, the creek was running high, which meant that the 3 large (50-60') waterfalls would be the main attraction of the day, and to hell with the longer loop. I left the trail and tried to get to the base of the first (western, upstream) falls, but was stymied by high water along the creek. The same was true of the side-by-side lower waterfalls - there was just no way to get there without wading. Not gonna happen. Then I realized that the main loop was also out - although there's a high-water crossing at the eastern (downstream) end of the gorge, I would still need to wade to get back across on the return trip at the upstream crossing point. So, I walked the so-called "Highlands Trail" back to the car instead, now REALLY wanting to see some falling water.

Next, I headed for the Christman Sanctuary, a Nature Conservancy property a little to the west and south. It has nice cascades and a 30-foot waterfall that should also be running pretty good. I was not disappointed, as the pictures below will show.

New England Asters provided a riot of color as I walked across the field from the car to the sign-in box.

Once I reached the stream, I just headed upstream, stopping at every cascade and small waterfall along the way. Though many of these may look alike, they were all taken at different places along the stream. On a good day, this place is just full of falling water! Enjoy!

After a fairly short walk, both on and off trail to follow the stream, I arrived at the main attraction, a 30-foot waterfall, with another 6-8 foot drop just above and behind it. Contrast this view with the other one from the dead of winter, when I snowshoed here in 2002.

Beyond and above this point, the stream is flowing from private property, and this is the end of the line.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

5k Run - Mohawk River Bike Path

On an afternoon that was supposed to be a washout, we went to a movie and exited to find blue skies and warm temperatures. Kind of a waste. When I got home, I decided to salvage what was left of the day by getting out for a run, the first since May 13, according to this blog. This has been a summer of almost all biking, and a few scattered hikes, but no running at all. I took it really easy, but had no trouble finishing 5k at a relaxed pace. Nice to know that cross-training works, and that I'm able to just go out and do this without building up to it with shorter distances!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Golf - Hillcrest GC

After a month and a half of various other activities that got me out of a "normal" routine, whatever that means, I returned to the golf course today expecting the worst. This is a game you have to play regularly to get any better at it.

After 2 shots out of bounds on the first hole, resulting in an 11 on a par 5, it looked like my worst fears would indeed be realized. But then I settled down nicely and played solid bogey golf most of the rest of the round, the exception being the shot I put in the water on #7. Overall, I finished with a 51, about my usual average, and a little amazing given the two bad holes.


  • 3 greens in regulation
  • 2 pars and 5 bogeys
  • chipping was better than a month ago, by far, as were short irons
  • 2 OB shots on #1 for an 11
  • Flubbed tee shot on #7, then put the next shot in the water
  • Missed several easy putts, due to heavy dew on greens.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Biking - Mohawk River Bike Path

Did the usual ride of last resort today, after various interfering issues. Details here...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hiking - Race Mountain (Berkshires)

Holly wanted to climb something with some elevation and a view today, so we headed for the Berkshires of Massachusetts, only a little over an hour away. I love living here - it's central to so many things!! Race Mountain is about a 3-mile 1700-foot climb, with some nice waterfalls along the way. Amazingly, neither of us had ever been there before, so there was the added bonus of seeing some new territory. The hike involves about a 2-mile stiff climb from the valley to the ridge via the Race Brook Trail, and then a rolling 1-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail to the summit.

Just before the steepest part of the climb, we reached the upper falls on Race Brook. There had earlier been a separate loop trail to some lower falls, but we saved that for the trip down.

We passed through a designated AT camping area, and then reached the AT itself and turned south toward Race Mountain. We reached the summit about a half-hour later, where there were 360-degree views. Mount Everett dominates the view to the north.

We continued a little beyond the summit, descending slightly along the south ridge to some east-facing ledges with outstanding, though hazy, views of the valley below.

We returned north back over the summit, and headed down. On the way back down to the valley, we followed the other loop trail for the lower falls, but lost it in a confusing maze of unofficial paths that surrounded the stream. We saw the falls from a distance, but it was getting late, and we elected not to do the additional climb that would have been necessary to get closer. We followed the stream back down until we intersected the main trail, and returned to the car. Ice cream, as usual, on the way home ended a nice day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Biking - Effective Cycling Course

Took an Effective Cycling course yesterday and today. Details here...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Biking - Bike Path River Loop

First time back in the saddle after 10 days away, so I took it easy. Details here...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Windjammer Cruise Photos - September 13-17, 2008

As promised, here are some pictures from the Maine Windjammer Cruise we just returned from. I took close to 50 shots, using a film camera, and was largely disappointed with the overall results. And I do think at least some of it may have been shoddy processing. From now on, I'll be sticking to digital. Here are a few of the best of the rest.

We arrived in Camden, ME, on Saturday the 13th. Mount Battie, in Camden Hills State Park, has an auto road to the summit, where there are stunning views of Camden and its harbor.

We boarded the boat on Saturday night, adjusted to our tiny cabins, and spent the night docked in Camden harbor. Sunday morning dawned very foggy and windy, and this was the only picture I took all day. The Lewis R. French is the middle schooner in this shot. After a hearty breakfast, we left the harbor and set sail around 10am. The rest of the day was very windy with a cold drizzle, and we wore raingear for the entire day. Note the canopies over the decks while anchored.

Sunday night was spent anchored in Carter Cove, a small bay off Vinalhaven Island. The winds were so strong that we lowered the "storm anchor", which is somewhat bigger and heavier than the normal one. The wind howled all night, but in the morning, the fog quickly lifted. On Monday, the strong winds continued, up to 30-40 mph with small craft advisories. As we crossed some bays exposed to the open ocean, we had 6-8 foot swells and the boat was rocking every which way. It was a pretty wild ride, but an amazing experience.

We were supposed to throw this immediately if anyone went overboard. Thankfully, despite some rough seas at times, that didn't happen.

Monday night, we anchored in Bass Harbor, at the southwest corner of Mount Desert Island, near Acadia National Park. Many of us walked to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Walking back to the boat, we had a good view of the French and other boats docked in the harbor. The French is the middle one of the three boats at right center.

Sunset was beautiful in Bass Harbor.

It was quickly followed by moonrise, with an almost-full moon. I slept on deck this night instead of in our cabin, in a sleeping bag. It was cool, but much quieter than the cabins with their thin walls and many snorers.

On Tuesday, we got an early start, and put ashore at Hell's Half Acre, a small island with a rocky beach, for a lobster feast at lunchtime. Here, Captain Garth Wells (left) steers the boat and First Mate Eric (right) sits on top of the lobster pot as the first party goes ashore.

They were soon followed by Garth's wife Jenny and crew member Annika, with the rest of the food. We had hamburgers and hot dogs as appetizers while the lobster preparations were underway.

A view of the French in partial sail from the rocky beach. This would be our only opportunity for shots of the boat with sails up, since we were usually on the boat when that was the case.

While the lobsters were steaming, we walked around the entire perimeter of this small rocky island. This was actually at high tide.

Another shot of the French from the island.

And another.

The beach was solid granite, not sand. In the background is the rest of the group (22 passengers and 4 crew) enjoying the appetizers and conversation.

Jenny, Captain Garth, and Annika removing rubber bands from the lobster claws and throwing the lobsters in the pot.

Lobsters and corn-on-the-cob on a bed of seaweed for serving. The meat was removed from the shells of any leftover lobsters and turned up the next morning for breakfast as lobster quiche. The food on this trip was just incredible from start to finish.

Heading back to the French after lunch and cleanup. In the afternoon, we sailed to Pulpit Harbor, on the northwest shore of North Haven Island, where we anchored for the night. Dinner, as if any of us needed any, was homemade soup, salad, and cornbread.

On Wednesday, we set sail back to Camden on a very calm day. Maine lobster fishermen were everywhere, as were their multi-colored buoys.

Camden harbor appears in the distance. Mount Battie, where we started this trip, is behind and to the right of the picture. We arrived back in port around 11am, packed up and hit the road for home after a very memorable adventure.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 11-17 - Maine Windjammer Cruise

On Thursday, September 11, we're driving to Maine for a few days of sightseeing, visiting an old friend, and hopefully finding a place to see a moose in the wild. Then we'll be departing late Saturday on a Windjammer Cruise aboard the schooner Lewis R. French. This boat accommodates 22 passengers, is fully non-smoking, and is also non-motorized in any way. We'll be spending 4 days cruising the islands of the Maine coast, eating lots of lobster, and just generally relaxing. We're really hoping for good weather, though it will be pretty cool this time of year, and September is also reputedly the windiest month in that area. What we don't want is a lot of cold rain. I'll post some pictures when we get back.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Biking - Metric Century (100k = 62 miles)

Finally got through one of these without any physical problems. Details here...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hiking and Boating - Putnam Pond

I have a 2-person inflatable boat that we sometimes take to a remote pond, inflate, and explore. Today was supposed to be near 90 and extremely windy, southerly at 15-20mph. If you've ever tried to maneuver an inflatable boat in the wind, you know they acquire a mind of their own. So we headed to Putnam Pond, in the eastern Adirondacks, a fairly large lake that's basically oriented SW to NE. There's a state campsite, now closed for the season, at the NE corner of the lake, and the lake is otherwise surrounded by State wilderness. We parked the car at the campsite and then hiked about 1.4 miles to the SW corner of the pond and inflated the boat. After a quick swim and a visit to an island just offshore, we let the wind carry us the mile or so northeast back to the campsite. It was an extremely lazy way to spend possibly the last hot day of this summer. We hardly even had to paddle, and still covered the mile in about an hour of just drifting with the wind.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Biking - River Loop

Did a 14.5-mile flat loop along the Mohawk today, preparing for a possible metric century (100k) on Sunday. Details here...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Canoeing and Swimming - Sand Lake

Sand Lake is a mile-long lake in the southern Adirondacks that's completely surrounded by state-owned wilderness. No buildings, no motorized boats. It's about a 0.5-mile carry from the car, but we go there at least a couple of times every summer. Last time we were there, a few months back, we saw a loon sitting on its nest, so we wanted to check back today and see if there were any babies. In the past, we've also contributed to the annual Adirondack Loon Census on this lake, so we have that additional interest in what's going on.

It was a warm humid day, with an occasional breeze. We only saw one adult loon this trip, but also startled a beaver that slapped its tail on the water, and saw a great blue heron passing overhead. After about an hour of paddling, we stopped at our favorite big rock for a swim. Nobody else was on the lake, and we had it completely to ourselves. Leaves were just starting to change, and it was a very pretty day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Biking and Mini-golf

Short and relaxed ride today. Details here...