Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Biking - One for the Road

Holly's bike group was riding this morning, and the route was along the Hudson River north of Stillwater. I really like that road, so I tagged along. It was a cloudy, brisk, windy fall morning, and all of my good bike clothes are packed for tomorrow's drive to DC, so I made do with a sweatshirt, windbreaker, and jeans, on the old 10-speed. We rode about 11 relaxed miles north up the road, then turned around and returned south to Lock 4 Canal Park and the cars. As always, there was a headwind in both directions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biking - Great Allegheny Passage and C & O Canal

On Thursday morning, a friend and I are driving to Washington, DC, and have hired a bike shuttle operator to get us to the western end of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), south of Pittsburgh. From there, we'll be biking back to Washington for the next 6-8 days, along the GAP and then the C&O Canal towpath. It's 330 miles of off-road riding, and it should be a great trip. I'll be posting daily updates and pictures to an online trip journal at wherever wifi access allows. We're hoping for good camping weather and colorful fall foliage, and will return here around Columbus Day weekend sometime.

Biking - Easy Leg Loosener

Got out with Holly this morning for a relaxed 9+ miles before the rains came. Rode the old 10-speed because the Trek is packed up and ready to go.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hiking - Steep Scramble to a Rocky Summit

Catamount stands alone north of Whiteface Mountain and the Wilmington Range, and at 3173 feet, it's a most impressive view from the road approaching the trailhead. The trail starts out flat, and then climbs from right to left in the picture below, crossing the two smaller bumps before the steep climb to the open summit.

Getting over the first bump was no worse than any other Adirondack hike, but getting to the second bump was a little more of a challenge. The first of two "lemon squeezers" got us close, and then there were several more steep pitches before this minor summit.

From this intermediate summit, the actual summit still towered several hundred feet above us with its steep rocky slabs.

Reaching the real summit, we looked back down to see other hikers coming up over the bump we had just climbed.

The view to the north included many other mountains and lakes, in a distant area of the Adirondacks that we rarely visit.

The trip back down was almost as slow as the trip up, as we were being very cautious descending the steep rocks. This was really a mountain to remember.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hiking - Two Glorious Fall Summits

Today, from Lake Placid we headed north and west into the Santa Clara Tract, a large area of state land recently purchased from a large lumber company. There is still some working commercial forest in the area, where conservation easements allow recreational access to its many ponds and remote summits.

Azure Mountain

Azure Mountain has one of the relatively few remaining fire towers in the Adirondacks. It's maintained, and staffed during the summer months, by Azure Mountain Friends, a local volunteer group, in concert with NYSDEC. From the tower, there are 360-degree views, but the views from a south-facing ledge seemed even more impressive and close-up. The fall colors were magnificent.

The Pinnacle

This small peak lies a little north of Azure, with a short walk of only about a half-mile to its summit. The views were not quite as expansive as from Azure, but they were a great reward for very little effort.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hiking - Two Short Ones Before the Rain

After a day of very iffy weather yesterday, when we just took in some local museums, today promised cloudy and misty skies early with heavy rain possible later in the day. So we did the smart thing and chose a couple of short hikes close to our condo and stayed dry while still getting out before the rains.

Owen and Copperas Ponds

These two ponds are only about a 2-3 mile round trip from the parking area. While it was not the most photogenic of days, the ponds were pretty scenic nonetheless. First, we came to Owen Pond, with some nice color across the way, in front of some lower shoulders of the Sentinel Range.

We continued on to Copperas Pond, which on a better day would have a very nice view of Whiteface Mountain beyond. Not so today, but we continued around to its leanto before turning back,

Cobble Hill

This is a small summit that looks down on the village of Lake Placid. There's an old road and several trails that lead to the summit. The views today were pretty murky, but we could make out the Sentinel Range, Mount Van Hoevenberg, and Mount Jo in the distance.

Before we descended, we started down one of the other trails that looked out to the west, across the village, from an open rock.

We got back to the condo about an hour before the heavy rains hit, and felt reassured that we had made exactly the right plans for this day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hiking - Wright Peak

Today, we climbed Wright Peak, the 16th highest of the Adirondack High Peaks. It was a crystal-clear day in the 50s, and the views could not have been better. I had done this same hike back in February with my brother and some of his friends, but today was a different world up there. This would be Holly's 37th of the 46 4000' peaks, and it was just a perfect day to enjoy the climb.

Fall colors had not yet reached an appreciable level, but the grasses on and near the summit were already an amazing shade of yellow-orange. This shot shows Heart Lake and Mount Jo, with Whiteface Mountain on the far horizon.

As we reached treeline, the summit rocks towered above us, with the way now marked with giant rock cairns.

From the summit, we could see the village of Lake Placid off in the distance, including the condo where we are staying for the week, with Whiteface again hovering above the town.

The most prominent feature from the summit was Algonquin Peak, at 5114' the second highest of the Adirondack summits.

This was an all-day 8-mile hike, with 2400+ feet of climbing, and we were all pretty beat by the time we reached the car. Staying in Lake Placid saved us the long drive home, and having take-out food delivered to the condo completed our day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hiking - Owl's Head Mountain

We're staying in Lake Placid this week, at a friend's condo which he generously offered us. On the way driving up today, since we were early anyway, we stopped to climb little Owl's Head Mountain, only 0.6 miles each way, but with wonderful views. It was a crystal-clear day, and the views were superb.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Biking - 2,000 Miles and Counting

It's been a good year for biking, despite all the wet weather. My to-date mileage is about the same as last year, but last year, I had already done a 374-mile 10-day tour by now. This year's multi-day tour of over 300 miles is yet to come. More on that in a week or so. I've been riding more frequently and for longer distances this year, and that's made up the difference. Today, I rode an easy, though breezy, 20 miles, and that put me over the top and well on my way to a record year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Biking - Windy, Cool, and a Couple of Hills

Mornings this week have been very cool, and always with the threat of a few showers, so I've been staying in and watching the Vuelta a Espana live online, instead of going out biking. I did the same today, but then noticed the temperature had climbed to almost 70, and the showers were fading out, so I hit the road this afternoon for a couple of hours. I did a slightly longer version of my usual Grant Hill loop from home, adding some miles by doing a longer loop to the southwest for 26.7 miles. That route is here.

By the time I was starting to head north, the wind had increased from the northwest and the skies were threatening at least some light rain, but I only got a few sprinkles toward the end. There was a LOT of traffic negotiating the NY7/NY146 roundabout this time of day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Golf - Hillcrest GC

Today was supposed to be cool, cloudy, and in the 60s, and I didn't really feel like doing anything with too much exertion, so I headed off to Hillcrest for a morning nine. Things started off really well, and even continued that way for the first 5 holes. Then, I three-putted #6 and hit a towering sky-ball on #7 that ended with a very nice kerplunk in the pond. One more three-putt to finish on #9, and I was several strokes higher than the round generally felt like. It could have been my best Hillcrest round ever, but....


  • One par and seven bogeys
  • Short game and putting overall pretty good
  • Most shots were roughly straight, or at least in the fairway
  • That kerplunk and its penalty
  • Two 3-putts

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Biking - Easy Flat Lunch Ride

After Sunday's 100km, and then waking up yesterday with a cold and feeling very fatigued, I couldn't stand the thought of spending yet another fine late summer day hanging around the house. So I laid out an easy 32-mile route that included lunch at Indian Ladder Farms, packed some tissues, and hit the road. It was already near 70 and sunny by late morning, and just a gorgeous day to be out. My legs had mostly recovered, and the minor rollers on this ride were easily conquered. After Sunday's hill-fest, it felt good to just get out and cruise. Indian Ladder's cafe had a problem today with extremely slow service, so I bailed out and headed to Altamont, where I had a sandwich at Subway before continuing home.

Around the corner from my house, on NY146 (NYS Bike Route 5), I noticed a bike tourist checking his maps on the side of the road, so I pulled over to talk. He's biking from Portland to New York City, and has been on the road only 6 weeks! From there, he's joining the Climate Ride to Washington at the end of September. We had an interesting conversation about things touring and TransAm and continued on our separate ways.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Biking - MHCC Metric Century (100km)

This weekend was the Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club's annual Century Weekend, in Saratoga Springs. For those who don't know, a "century" is a 100-mile bike ride, all in one sitting. There were rides available for 100, 62, 50, and 25 miles, and I chose the 62, which is 100km, so a "metric century". It was a very hilly route, with over 2000' of climbing altogether, and my legs were, and are, certainly feeling it. My friend Ted and I rode it together, at a fairly reasonable pace, and finished in about 5.5 hours, including a couple of stops at the supported rest area. It was a challenging and tiring ride, topped off by an excellent pasta feed back in the finish area in Saratoga Spa State Park.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Biking - Loaded Test Ride

No, not drunk. Loaded, as in camping gear and everything I'll need for a week on the road. On October 1, two friends and I will be driving to Washington, DC, getting shuttled to near Pittsburgh, and then spending about a week biking back to DC. We'll be following the Great Allegheny Passage and the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal trails for over 300 miles of off-road riding. You can read more about our trip in the journal I've started here, and follow us along for updates and pictures whenever we can find a wireless connection.

After some problems last year with excessive weight, I've cut things down pretty well for this trip. I'll be carrying 50-55 pounds of gear, not the near-70 I had last year. Today, I loaded up the bike and took it out for a test ride, to be sure the load balanced and the bike handled OK. The ride was rock-solid, and I shouldn't have any problems with this load, especially on these relatively flat rail and towpath trails.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Golf - Hillcrest GC

I had thoughts of doing a big bike ride today, but just couldn't get motivated this morning, so went to play golf instead. It was like two separate rounds. I had three triple bogeys in the first five holes, and then I snapped out of it to finish birdie-bogey-par-par. The mega-slice of yesteryear was back in earnest, and until I partially straightened it out, I wasn't having much fun out there. I eventually finished with sort of an average score.


  • 80-yard wedge to 18" for birdie on #6
  • 5' par putt on #8
  • Wedge to 30" for par on #9
  • Good short game and only 16 putts
  • Unable to hit anything straight
  • Three triple bogeys
  • Both an unplayable lie and an OB on separate shots on #4
  • 3-putt on #5, missing an easy 6-footer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hiking - Three Hikes in One

This morning Holly and I set out to hike Mount Everett, in Massachusetts, and Beebe Hill, a small New York fire tower summit on the way home from Everett. We wound up adding a short side trip to Sunset Rock, an overlook of the Hoosic Valley, just on the New York Side of the border. All told, we hiked about 5-6 miles for the total of the three destinations.

Mount Everett, MA
Mount Everett State Reservation is only about 90 minutes from home, and includes Mount Everett and a small picnic area adjacent to trails around Guilder Pond. The hike up Mount Everett is only about 0.75 miles each way from the parking area, following a piece of the Appalachian Trail. It was a fairly hazy morning once the fog lifted, and the views were in many directions, but not as good as they would have been on a clearer day. We could see Washining Lake in Connecticut, about 10 miles to the southeast.

Back at the car, we ate lunch in the picnic area next to Guilder Pond before continuing on to Beebe Hill.

Sunset Rock
Having seen the trailhead sign for Sunset Rock on our way up and over the Taconic Ridge into Massachusetts, and the mileage shown being only 0.6 miles each way with very little climbing, we decided to give it a try on the way back to New York. It was a short walk on the South Taconic Trail, a very narrow footpath that was sometimes like walking through a tunnel of vegetation.

The rock is on the west side of the ridge, and the view is to the west (duh!), but still pretty hazy and not all that spectacular, since it was midday, not sunset. We headed back to the car to continue on to Beebe Hill, about 12 miles to the north.

Beebe Hill
Beebe Hill State Forest is near Austerlitz, NY, and still has a fire tower from the days when these were still used for fire detection and suppression. Today, the tower still stands, and the summit buildings are all maintained by a group of local volunteers. It's a very attractive summit, and the fire tower provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding hills.

From the tower, we could barely see the buildings of downtown Albany in the distance, about 25 miles to the west. On a clearer day, views here would be superb, and it was only about a 1-mile climb. We'll definitely keep this one in mind, since it's only about an hour from home.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Biking - The Hills of Providence

A friend of Holly's needed some computer assistance, so we loaded up the bikes and drove north a bit to the Town of Providence, north of NY29 and east of Galway. After solving a couple of problems, we set off on a ride. The map showed about 13 miles and 600-700 feet of total climbing, but that climbing came in short steep pitches, and almost all in the first 6 miles. I was riding my old 10-speed that doesn't have very low gearing, and Holly struggled along on her hybrid. It was a challenging, if short, ride for both of us.

The route is here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hiking - Hadley Mountain

It was another perfect late summer day, dry and cool, and just right for hiking. Holly and I, along with friends Bob and Carol, took a leisurely walk up Hadley, where we found the usual fine views. Off to the south is Great Sacandaga Lake, where Bob and Carol have a camp.

To the north, we could see Blue and Crane Mountains. On a good day, the Adirondack High Peaks can be seen clearly, but today was a bit too hazy to see more than their faint outlines on the horizon.

From Hadley, we followed an unofficial path over to its northern summit, also known to the USGS as West Mountain. The views there were similar, but chairs made of local stones were perched there for our comfort. We also found this artistic stegosaurus someone had created.

After the hike, we retired to Bob and Carol's camp for a sumptuous dinner of burgers, corn on the cob, salads, beer, wine, and strawberries for dessert.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Biking - MHCC Half-Century Route

More nice weather, so a friend and I decided to ride the route of the Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club's half century ride. With their annual Century Weekend coming up on September 12-13, I wanted to get in a long ride in preparation for riding the 100k (62.5 mile) route on that weekend. I've done that metric century the past few years, and it's a good time, with extremely fit people, followed by a good feed after the finish.

Today's route is here, a little over 50 miles and 1300 feet of climbing. We rode the entire thing in about 4 hours, including a few brief stops, and I feel pretty good afterwards, though I will sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Biking - Rest Day (sort of)

With a long ride yesterday, and a half-century tomorrow, I didn't want to overdo it today, but wanted to enjoy this weather and keep the legs loose. So I just did a flat 17.5 on local roads near home. I was going to do more, but thought better of it, and also have some yard work that's calling, so cut it short. Bigger day with some hills tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Biking - Lunch and a Couple of Honey-Dos

It's another in a stretch of beautiful days, the kind we've been waiting all summer for, and I wanted to get in a longish ride. Holly had a couple of things she needed help with, so I decided to park at SCCC, take a circuitous 13-mile route to her house, and when I was finished there, continue on to Lakeside Farms for lunch before heading home. That would have been about 33 miles.

I made it to Holly's house in under an hour, finished up there, and continued on my way. But it was such a nice day that I decided to stretch this out a little further, continuing on to The Jonesville Store for lunch instead. That should come in at 40-something miles. Making that part of the route up as I went along, I headed along Ballston Lake, past Lakeside Farms, down Schauber Road to Hubbs Road, and across to Jonesville. There seemed to be lots of stinging insects (bees, wasps, etc) in the air today, and after fishing one out of my helmet, I got stung on the neck by another one about 5 minutes later. Fortunately, I don't have a huge reaction to these things, but it hurt like hell.

Lunch at the Store was a very good sandwich, then I headed down to NY146A and Vischer Ferry, Ray, Sugar Hill, and Riverview Roads to the Rexford Bridge. Over the bridge, I picked up the bike path and wound my way back through Schenectady to SCCC and the car, after 41.5 miles.