Monday, August 31, 2009

Golf - Whispering Pines GC

Not a good round at all. I hit far too many irons somewhere other than the sweet spot, leaving them short or otherwise misplaced, including one splash. Putting was abysmal, despite a couple of bright spots. Worst round at this course ever at 74, par 55.


  • 5 pars
  • 6 greens in regulation
  • sank 40-foot putt for par on #12
  • 2 triple-bogeys and 2 doubles
  • hit water on #13
  • five 3-putts and 39 total putts

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Biking - Schenectady/Amsterdam Loop

My bike odometer seemed to be having calibration issues the past few times out, so I decided to take a measured ride on the bike path, with its quarter-mile markings, and see what was up. Whatever tweaking I had done in the past few days must have solved the problem, since it was close to dead-on.

Starting at Schenectady Community College, I rode up the south side of the Mohawk River to Amsterdam, crossed the river on NY30, and returned to Schenectady via NY5 and Scotia. It's an easy 32 miles, and for once, there was no appreciable wind in either direction. I averaged over 15mph and never felt like I was pushing it at all.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Biking - A Rural, Hilly, Two-County Ride

A friend and I did a very scenic ride today, but it was also challenging. We started out by climbing away from the Mohawk River via Crawford Road, a 2-mile and nearly 1100-foot climb. That's an average grade of 10%, and it was a tough climb that did a lot to empty the tank for the rest of the ride. From the top, we continued upward to Mariaville, and then beyond to the ridges east of the Schoharie Valley. The views were wonderful, and there were many downhill runs as we eventually wound our way back down to the Mohawk Valley. Overall, it was about 35 miles and 2100 feet of climbing, one of my tougher rides this year.

The route is here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

Tonight was the last SWC bike ride of the season, and with daylight beginning to get short, it was a fairly short 12.5 mile ride. Somebody up front decided to push the pace and it really got out of hand. We finished in less than an hour at an average speed of 16.6 mph, the fastest ride of the year. It was so fast that the beer and pizza weren't even ready when we returned to the host's house, but a good time was had by all.

Aug 25-27 - Camping, Hiking, Canoeing - Brown Tract Ponds

For many years now, Holly and I have gone camping for a few days at DEC's Brown Tract Pond Campground, near Raquette Lake, NY. It's fairly quiet and primitive as public campgrounds go, and we enjoy the quiet and the motor-free lake for canoeing.

August 25

We arrived at the campground, got set up, and then went to climb nearby Wadsworth Mountain. We discovered this one last year, by looking at Google Earth which showed some open cliffs near the summit. It's not listed in any trail guide, and I've never heard of anyone else climbing it. It's only about a 1.5 mile round trip from the car, but it's about a third of a mile of bushwhacking off a marked trail that itself doesn't get much use. The views are well worth the minimal effort.

Raquette Lake can be seen to the east:

And Lower Brown Tract Pond, the location of our campsite, can be seen to the west:

After the hike, we went for a brief swim in the pond, cooked some burgers and corn on the grill, read by the fire, made some old-fashioned popcorn over the fire, and then hit the sack.

August 26

The next morning, we set out to climb Black Bear Mountain, a popular destination in this area, and only a 2.2 mile hike each way. It's the round bump in the previous photo. On our way to the trailhead, we made a short side trip to Ferd's Bog, a well-known local attraction. After a short walk, there's a boardwalk out into the bog that would otherwise be wet and inaccessible. No pictures - sorry. The hike to Black Bear Mountain starts out on an old road, then eventually climbs briefly and steeply to the rocky summit. It was a very murky day, with rain expected later, so the views were less than optimal.

Heading back down, we reached the car just as the rain started to fall, a few hours earlier than expected. We took a side trip to Eagle Bay and Inlet, looking for a hardware store to buy something to repair the temperamental Coleman stove that hadn't worked the night before.

Back at the campsite, we needed to kill several rainy hours by reading before the skies finally cleared and we got in some canoeing on the pond. The pond has an island with big rocks and even a ladder at one end, and we put ashore there and explored a little.

I got the stove working again, so we just cooked dinner, sat by the fire, made popcorn again, and enjoyed the amazing stars this far from any urban light source. Then we went to bed bundled up for a cool night in the upper 30s.

August 27

We woke up early, feeling a bit cool. After breakfast, it was time to pack up and head home. There was still a lot of fog and mist on the pond as we were getting ready to go.

After the long drive home, it was time to unpack, dry out, and get ready for the next adventure.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Biking - Stillwater/Fort Edward Loop

I've been wanting to start getting in some longer rides, so when some friends invited me to do 50 miles along the Hudson River, it seemed like a perfect idea. I had done this ride, or something very similar, a couple of years ago, and it was a nice ride.

We parked at Lock 4 Canal Park in Stillwater, and headed up the east side of the Hudson to Fort Edward, about 25-26 miles on a gently rolling road with many river views. Arriving in Fort Edward, we stopped for lunch at a ubiquitous Stewart's Shop, and then took a side trip around Rogers island to view the current dredging operation. General Electric illegally dumped tons of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the river here many years ago, and the cleanup of the river bottom is now in progress.

Crossing to the west side of the river, we headed south back toward the car, with a slow gradual climb and fast descent down NY32 into Schuylerville. We took a short break at a park there before grinding out the last 13 miles to the cars.

The 20% chance of stray showers for the day did not strike until we were driving out of the parking lot headed home. Overall, it was about 55 miles and 880 feet of climbing, not a bad day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

The SWC Thursday night ride was a new one, starting in Gallupville and touring the area around some of the Albany County hilltowns. With the threat of rain either during or after the ride, I brought the old 10-speed, which doesn't have the greatest gearing for this sort of terrain. As it turned out, the hills weren't that bad, there was no rain, and we had a good ride on a warm evening, about 15.6 miles and something over 800 feet of climbing. Pizza from the Knox General Store finished off the night.

Golf - Hillcrest GC

It was a relatively cool morning, with storms expected later, so I headed off to Hillcrest to get in a morning 9. Overall, I did very well - the highlights are getting better and the lowlights aren't quite as dire. I was hitting everything fairly solidly and the right distance, but often off-line, leaving me with either chips or long putts on many holes. In either case, I was leaving these far from the hole, usually short, and then missing the 5-10 foot putts that resulted. But I shot my best Hillcrest round (44), and even carded a birdie, a first on this course.


  • Sank a 21-foot putt for par on #3.
  • Dropped a long 8-iron a foot from the hole for a birdie on the par-5 4th.
  • Only 2 double bogeys
  • Missed several short putts that should have been made
  • Popped up several tee shots, leaving me a long way from the green
  • Only 3 greens in regulation
  • Several 3-putts
  • Imploded on #9 to finish with a double bogey

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Canoeing, Camping - Lake Lila

Lake Lila is the largest lake in New York's Forest Preserve that's completely surrounded by state land, in the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area. It's also conveniently located at the junction of 4 different topo sheets.

Lake Lila was at one time privately owned by William Seward Webb, a railroad baron in the late 19th century, and at one time he built a Great Camp here, since demolished. There are 24 campsites dotted around the lake, including one on each of 4 islands, nearly all only accessible by human-powered boat. Yesterday, Holly and I took her canoe to Lake Lila for an overnight camping outing.

The put-in is on a sandy beach at the northeast corner of the lake, about 0.3 miles from the parking lot. Once we loaded up and started paddling, it became obvious that there was a very strong wind from the southwest, directly against us, and it was slow going. We decided to grab the first available campsite and wait for calmer waters in the morning. As luck would have it, Snell Island's campsite was vacant and only about a half-mile out, so we went ashore and set up on our private island.

We decided to try exploring a little more of the lake, despite the winds, and set out along the southeast shore heading toward the peninsula and the bay beyond. But it was tough going, and we soon abandoned this attempt in favor of a swim on a very warm humid afternoon. Then we just explored the island and sat around on various rocks enjoying the views of the lake.

After an easy no-cook dinner of sub sandwiches, we read for awhile and waited for the sunset. There were very few bugs on this island because of the strong winds blowing all around us. The sunset was slow to arrive, but eventually became quite spectacular.

We slept fitfully on a warm night, and woke up to a calm glassy lake and no winds. After muffins and juice for breakfast, we set out southwest across the lake to the trailhead for Frederica Mountain, about 2 miles away. Not far from the start, the wind began to come up, again in our faces, making for a long tough paddle. Finding the trailhead on the shoreline, the climb to the summit was only about 1.5 miles, much of it along an old road. The views from the summit were somewhat obscured by haze and humidity, but provided a nice view of the entire lake. The island with our campsite is at the top center of the photo.

The paddle back to camp was on a lake full of whitecaps, as the wind had increased. Fortunately, it was now mostly at our backs. After a final swim off the island, we headed back to the put-in, also downwind, and carried everything back to the car, where sandwiches and cold soda awaited. Ice cream in Long Lake and the long drive home finished off a somewhat exhausting trip.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Biking - Warm Showers Escort Service

David and Ann have made good use of the Warm Showers List ( on their cross-country bike trip from their home in Tacoma, WA, to Hampton Beach, NH. They contacted me (via this list) a few days ago about the possibility of staying at my house as they passed through the Capital District. After a good experience last year with another couple, why not?

My guests arrived yesterday in the late afternoon of a very hot, humid day, having bicycled from Cooperstown, a hilly 65-70 miles away. Cold beers and showers were most welcome, as was the air conditioning struggling to keep the house cool. We had a good dinner and talked a lot about touring, and I agreed to get them to the Mohawk River Bikeway in the morning. It was simpler to ride them over to KAPL than to explain it, so I joined them this morning and got them on their way to their next stop, North Bennington, VT. Another hot, humid day was on tap, and I didn't envy them their trip as we said our good-byes and they were on their way.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Canoeing, Swimming - Lake Champlain

Another hot summer day, and yet another visit to another friend's camp on another lake. That makes #5 for this year - not bad! Bill and Nancy have a camp on an island on Bulwagga Bay, in southern Lake Champlain. The only access is by boat, but they told us to bring our canoe and we could do some paddling. Holly and I arrived at the marina, loaded the canoe onto their deck boat, and motored the 2 miles to their camp. After a great lunch, we did some paddling to a stony beach a ways up the lake. This bay is pretty weed-choked, but the beach wasn't quite as bad.

When we got back to the camp, we took the deck boat out to some deeper water beyond the weeds and swam off the boat. Great way to spend a summer day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Biking - Glenville, Charlton, Galway

At last night's ride, some friends mentioned that they'd be riding again today, at a comfortable pace, to include a lunch stop at a local market. And they'd be starting at 9am, before the heat of the day hit. This sounded like a good opportunity for some more relaxed saddle time, so I joined them. We rode about 30 miles, with a stop at Galway Market for brunch (we were a little early), and finished with a stop at Marcella's in Glenville for ice cream at the end. By then it was getting hot, and there wasn't even a whisper of a breeze, so it was good to be finished, after a nice ride.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

Another Thursday, another SWC beer/pizza ride. Tonight we did a 15.4 mile loop around Clifton Park, much of it on Riverview Road westbound. We were in a paceline for parts of it, but not really hammering. The paceline broke apart on every little rise, and I went straight to the front every time. As always, I rode harder than I normally do, but in some ways that feels good occasionally. We averaged over 15mph for the ride, but I much prefer my own relaxed pace when I'm out riding alone.

Canoeing - Round Lake and Anthony Kill

This morning, Holly and I went for a paddle on nearby Round Lake and its outlet, the Anthony Kill ("Kill" is a Dutch word for "stream"). We parked in an area off US9 which was half underwater this year because of all the rain we've had. From there, we paddled directly southeast across the lake to the Anthony Kill and followed it until the water flowed down over a concrete barrier, where we turned around. It was a cool, cloudy morning and the lake was smooth and quiet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Biking - Rexford/Crescent Loop

With the wet summer we've been having, I've come to feel obligated to make the best of any sunny dry day that comes along. So despite riding yesterday, and with no showers expected until mid-afternoon, I headed out for another ride. The plan was to ride the Rexford-Waterford loop, up and down (actually down and up) the Mohawk River, as I had done earlier this year. That seemed like it might be pushing my luck just a bit with the weather forecast, but away I went, starting at KAPL and going clockwise as usual.

When I got to US9 at Crescent, the thought of descending into Waterford and then climbing back out had lost all of its appeal. With tired legs and iffy weather coming, I bailed out, climbed US9 to the turnoff to Colonie Town Park, and headed back west along the bike path.

Instead of riding 36 miles as planned, I only rode 28, and avoided another 700-900' of climbing. By the time I reached the car, it felt like enough for today.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Biking - Fort Edward to Lake George

Today was another mid 80s very humid day, but little chance of rain, so I needed to get out for a ride. I wanted a moderately long ride, but relatively flat because of the heat and humidity. I decided to ride along the original Champlain Canal, the Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail, and the Warren County Bikeway, a total of 32 miles R/T from Fort Edward to Lake George. A map of the entire route is available here. Most of the route is on off-street bike paths, and it makes a pleasant day's outing. I did this same ride back in May with some friends.

The route starts in Fort Edward, along the original Champlain Canal. Continuing on to the Feeder Canal, the route enters a park-like setting that also includes views into private backyards and passage through several industrial areas.

Between the Feeder Canal Trail and the Warren County Bikeway, the route briefly winds through city streets, mostly residential and quiet, before picking up the paved bike trail again. There are numerous street crossings in this initial section of the Bikeway, but drivers were very courteous. When I stopped at MY stop sign, drivers inevitably stopped and let me cross the street, which I acknowledged with waves and thanks. Having experienced less courtesy on the Feeder Canal crossings, this was most refreshing.

Lake George is the epitome of tacky tourism, but it really draws the crowds in summer. I bought a sub at a local shop and sat on the waterfront taking it all in.

You can take a lake cruise on any of several tour boats.

For the more adventurous, there's parasailing, towed by a boat and rising high above the lake. I tried this once in my younger years, and it was quite a rush, especially the initial ascent.

And of course, there's the "Million Dollar Beach". It was only half open today, so I guess that makes it only the "$500,000 Beach".

After lunch by the lake came the long gradual climb back out of Lake George, but it wasn't difficult. Back in Glens Falls, I stopped at Coopers Cave for ice cream. This place is very convenient, being directly alongside the trail, and it gets a lot of business from trail users.

From there I wound my way back to the Feeder Canal and back to the car after a very pleasant ride.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Golf - Hillcrest GC

For one reason or another, I didn't get in a round of golf last week, and after watching Mr. Woods on TV yesterday, I got the itch to get out again. There was some light rain early this morning that appeared to be hanging around, so I waited until after lunch, when it was in the mid/upper 80s, partly sunny, and extremely humid. Things didn't start out so well, with a double bogey on #1, but then I settled down and had a pretty good round. The greens were very slow, and I must have left half a dozen putts dead on line but short. If they'd gone in, it would have been a record round.


  • 2 pars and 6 bogeys
  • Tee to green play was pretty good
  • 2 greens in regulation, and a few more on the fringe.
  • Hit driver dead straight on #9, just for fun. Surprised me!
  • Tied my best round at Hillcrest
  • Two 3-putts from on the green, and a few others putting from the fringe
  • Double bogey on #1

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cape Cod Weekend - Aug 7-9

Much of Holly's family was invited to an anniversary celebration in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, MA, on Saturday, so we drove out on Friday, along with the rest of the population of Boston. It was a long slow trip once we started getting closer, and we finally arrived late afternoon. After a trip to Nauset Beach on the Atlantic for some swimming, we headed out to dinner at the Orleans Inn, an old Victorian mansion in Orleans.

On Saturday, we drove around to see some things, or tried to, and got out for a short walk overlooking a bay and the ocean. The trip to the celebration in the afternoon was another struggle with traffic, but we had another good meal at Van Rensselaer's Restaurant in Wellfleet. We stopped to pick up some lobster rolls to eat later at the Friendly Fisherman in Eastham, a place we knew from previous trips. These were really good!

After dinner, we drove to Skaket Beach to catch a sunset over Cape Cod Bay. It was low tide, and there were lots of people out on the shoals that were above water.

We decided to get an early start for home on Sunday to beat the traffic, but stopped on the way to drive up Scargo Hill, near Dennis, to climb the small tower for a great view. The Sagamore Bridge was in the distance on the left, and Provincetown could be seen toward the right of the picture. Scargo Lake is directly below.

It was an easier drive home, though the traffic was still heavy, but at least it was moving. In the future, we'll try to avoid Cape Cod in season, or at the very least, travel on weekdays.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

I wasn't sure what kind of legs I would have after yesterday's outing, but SWC rides are pretty low key. There are always choices of rides, and we came up with a 19.4-mile version tonight. There were a couple of good climbs, though short, and they at least made me feel like I had earned the beer and pizza afterwards.

Off to Cape Cod for the weekend, so nothing much new here for a few days.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Biking - Indian Ladder Half Century

I feel like I've been slacking off lately, not doing any climbs and not doing any longer rides. So I created a 50+ mile ride from my driveway, extending an earlier 30-miler in a couple of places and including a lunch stop at Indian Ladder Farms. It was a windy day, but away I went.

The wind was NW15G24, so as I worked my way clockwise around the loop, it was constantly changing between head, tail, and cross. I stopped around 22 miles at Indian Ladder and had a great turkey panini sandwich and some lemonade, then continued on to Altamont and beyond to US20. At that point, I debated whether to bail out now or brave the 6 miles, and 4-mile climb with a stiff headwind, to Duanesburg. Knowing there were other places I could bail on the way, I decided to try it and see how bad it would be. Once I got started, I knew I just had to do it and get in 50+ miles, so gritted my teeth and ground it out. Ice cream at Stewart's in Duanesburg was my reward before the long wind-assisted downhill on NY7 back to Rotterdam.

It was only my second ride all year over 50 miles, and I don't feel too bad. Need to start doing more of these, with a metric century (62.5 miles) coming up in September.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hiking, Canoeing - Piseco/Speculator Area

Another day at another friend's camp on another lake. Today we first did a short hike into Fawn Lake, between Speculator and Piseco. It's surrounded by state land and has a nice beach and many campsites along its shores. We'll remember it for a possible future canoe outing. Then, it was back to the camp for a sumptuous lunch before canoeing on Evergreen Lake, once known as Big Marsh, just west of the Piseco Lake outlet. We tried out our hosts' Hornbeck Lost Pond boats, solo canoes that weigh just 16 pounds each. May have to buy one of these - very nice.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sailing, Short Walk - Great Sacandaga Lake

Today we visited some friends who have a camp on Great Sacandaga Lake, in the southern Adirondacks. We went sailing for an hour or two, then Holly went for a swim, and we all sat around and talked and snacked until dinner. Then we went for a short walk to an old mica mine nearby before heading home. A nice relaxing summer day.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hiking - Crane Mountain

Today was what seemed like the first dry day in weeks, and it happened to fall on the day of this hike that I was leading for Schenectady ADK, so 12 of us headed north to try to find the trailhead for Crane Mt. There's a confusing maze of roads in that area, but with Google's help, we found our way. Though it's only 1.4 miles from the trailhead to the summit, it's a very steep climb, and the sweeping views definitely need to be earned.

After lunch on the summit, we descended to Crane Mountain Pond far below, but still a considerable height above the trailhead.

Several of the group went for a swim off the rocks surrounding the pond.

Then we headed for a brief foray up Crane's untrailed northwest ridge, seen across the pond in the second summit picture above. Last year on this trip, we found blueberries by the bagful up there. This year we seemed to be a little late, and came away with only a few, but also had some more interesting views. The view of Crane back across the pond made it worth this extra excursion.

After returning to the pond and its outlet, the descent to the cars was almost as steep as the earlier ascent, and we were all glad to finally reach some flat walking. Ice cream in Warrensburg capped off a great day.