Monday, November 24, 2008

Biking - Mohawk River Bike Path

Maybe the last bike ride of the season today. Details here...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Geocaching - Ballston Lake, NY

A few weeks back, we unsuccessfully searched for a geocache entitled "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" Today, we found it. It was a cold and breezy day, and we needed to keep moving. After over an hour of following clues from one intermediate cache to the next, we were ready to stop and come back another time to finish it. One last look on our way back to the car turned up the final cache, after about 2 miles of walking total.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hike - Vroman's Nose

A very short hike, actually. It only takes about a half hour to climb to the top of Vroman's Nose, a small hill with cliffs near Middleburgh, NY. It's about a half hour from home, and the views are outstanding. Unfortunately, my camera produced a hard error code when I turned it on, so I have no pictures for this trip. There are some pictures available at the previous link above, and also a wide selection via a simple Google image search.

It was barely at freezing up there, and the wind was blowing, so I took in some of the views, had a quick lunch and headed down. I'm thinking it's time for a new camera.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Walk - Lisha Kill Preserve

Another day that started out bright and sunny, and then came the grey skies and the snow squalls. This is November in the Northeast, and we have to make the best of it.

The Lisha Kill Preserve is a Nature Conservancy property in Niskayuna, NY. It's close to home, and provides a feeling of wildness without going very far. There are several deep ravines and streams, and a lot of very old and large trees. Some of these majestic white pines and hemlocks are said to be nearly 200 years old.

Today, with the combination of mud, leaves, and snow, it was a little slick in spots, but I got in an hour's walk, covering all of the trails that are currently marked.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Walk - Mohawk River Bike Path

I thought I might get the bike out this afternoon, and that thought was encouraged by spending a little time on the trainer in the basement this morning. But then the weather got weird. The wind came up and brought with it an occasional snow squall, all lake-effect stuff coming down the Mohawk Valley from Lake Ontario. So instead of biking, I went for a 2.8-mile walk out west of Rotterdam on the bike path. I saw a great blue heron who kept flying farther down the path to avoid me, and we crossed paths several times in both directions. As I got to the 1.4-mile turnaround point, a more serious squall blew in, and continued for about 20 minutes. It was like winter out there, though the ground was still too warm for it to stick. By the time I got back to the car, the sun was out again and it was all over.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Walk - John Boyd Thacher State Park

Today dawned foggy and damp, though it was forecast to hit the low 60s again, a rarity for November. I couldn't get excited about biking in this weather, so I decided to go for a walk instead.

Thacher Park sits atop the Helderberg Escarpment, only about a half-hour's drive from home. It offers fairly level and non-muddy walking along the edge of the escarpment, and drop-dead scenery every step of the way. The fog cleared as I got closer, and it turned into a beautiful morning up there.

I last went there back in April of this year, and there are more pictures at this link. The waterfalls were running much more in earnest back then, with the snowmelt, but they were still very scenic today.

The Indian Ladder Trail is visible below Mine Lot Falls in the second photo. It's a very interesting walk below the cliffs and under the falls, but it's closed this time of year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hiking - Huckleberry Point

I was planning to lead a Schenectady ADK trip to Huckleberry Point on Saturday, but wet weather and a low overcast (read: summits socked in) caused me to cancel the trip. Today, Holly and I went and did the hike ourselves. It took us about 90 minutes from the car to the viewpoint, where we had lunch and took some pictures. It wasn't the most photogenic day - November is pretty bleak as it is, and the sun was not out as promised. But the views of the Hudson Valley and the Devil's Path range were right in our faces. It's a pretty spectacular place. Click on the picture for a 180-degree panorama.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Snowpack Monitor Training - Albany Pine Bush

The Albany Pine Bush is home to the rare Karner Blue Butterfly, a state and federal endangered species. In an effort to better understand its habitat requirements, a study is underway to assess the effects of snow depth on the overwintering success of the butterfly's eggs. Part of this study involves intensive monitoring of snow depth at numerous controlled sites within the Preserve during the winter months. This work is done by volunteers, and I just volunteered for the upcoming winter. Today we had a brief training meeting to go over the process and what we're expected to do. I'll be spending about an hour every two weeks, on the same day, in all kinds of weather, walking around and taking snow depth readings. I'll post more about this once the snow flies and these walks begin.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Walk - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

A relatively warm, damp day, not much good for anything but a walk somewhere. I decided to head to Featherstonehaugh SF to see what kind of shape the XC ski trails were in after a windy summer. Lots of trees down, and very wet as usual when not frozen over, but it was still an interesting walk. NYSDEC has closed on a timber sale from the forest, and that logging will begin once the ground freezes. Skiing and snowshoeing in there this winter may not be a great idea, either in terms of safety or aesthetics, but that's what multiple-use forestry is all about. At least it doesn't look like a clear-cut is planned, since many trees within the sale area were individually marked with various different types of symbols. Hopefully the contractor won't leave too much of a mess.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Golf - Hillcrest GC

Golf? In November? What a concept! This just never happens around here. With a sunny day and temps in the 60s, I decided to hit the links one last time. And I finally had the kind of round I've been waiting for these past few months. I didn't hit a lot of bad shots, and none were truly horrible. I finished with a 48, tying my best 9-hole score of the year at Hillcrest.


  • 2 pars and 4 bogies
  • Consistency!
  • No out of bounds, water, lost balls, or unplayable lies
  • Dropped a 30-foot putt on the last hole to finish with a par
  • Missed short putts on #3 and #6
  • 3-putted #6
  • Still mis-hit a couple of pitching wedges
  • Need to work on adjusting grip to straighten shots out - lots of hooks

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hiking - Bennett Hill

Bennett Hill is one of several local preserves of the Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy. Located near Clarksville, NY, it's about a 400-foot climb to the 1135-foot flat summit, which is encircled by a loop trail around its outermost edges. We'd been here once before, I think in 2001, and never did find any of the promised open views. Today was the same, but maybe the trees have grown up since that picture. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful November day in the 60s, and a great day to be out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Walk - Pine Bush Preserve and Rensselaer Lake

I'm a little sore from yesterday's run, so didn't want to overdo today, but it was another nice day, so I got out for a couple miles of easy walking. I parked at Six-Mile Waterworks Park at Rensselaer Lake, off Fuller Road in Albany (#3 on the first map below), and followed the paved trails beneath the Northway where they connect with some trails in a section of the Pine Bush that I'd never visited before (#2). It was a nice area, and apparently well-used, despite the constant noise of traffic not far in the distance.

On the way back, after crossing back under the Northway, I tried to follow some faint unmarked paths around the north side of the lake, but they faded out and I gave up. It's clear from the aerial photo above that the railroad tracks and a broken causeway both would have made that route impossible anyway.

Once I got back to the park via the original route, I sat on a bench and just enjoyed the scenery for a bit before heading home.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

5k Run - Mohawk River Bike Path

With the Cardiac Classic 5k coming up on Thanksgiving morning, and my knee having problems, I felt like I needed to get out and see what I could do. I've run in this race for the past 7-8 years, and though my time keeps getting slower with age, it's still fun to be out there with 1,000 other runners as a way to start the day.

Expecting problems today, I wore an elastic knee brace, and felt no pain at all. This is a good thing, but how it feels tomorrow may be a better indicator. Now I need to try to do this regularly 2-3 times every week and get the rest of the body in shape. Running is a good winter activity if I can tolerate it, and now is the time to start if I can.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Geocaching - Ballston Lake, NY

After helping Holly with some yard work, we went geocaching along the Ballston Lake Bike Path. There was a multi-cache there entitled "Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?", and it looked like it could be fun. Unfortunately, as thorough as we thought we were, we never found the first cache that would lead us to the others and the final. So, we settled for a just a walk on another nice fall day.