Sunday, November 29, 2009

Geocaching - 0 for 3 :(

Holly and I got out for a short walk this afternoon in Maalwyck Park, just west of Scotia along the Mohawk River. There are 3 geocaches there, and though one was labeled "evil", we thought we could at least find the other two. No such luck. One was along a hiking trail in the woods, and we were all over it, but couldn't find it. Another was along the Mohawk, whose level is significantly down for the winter/spring seasons, now that the Barge Canal is closed. We walked along the exposed river shoreline to the place where the cache had to be, but again no luck. Needless to say, we didn't turn up the "evil" one either. But it was another nice day to be outside.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Biking - Struggling Westbound, then Sailing Home

It's another sunny, relatively warm November day, almost 50 again. The only catch is that the wind is blowing at a steady 20-40mph, gusting to near 50. What better day for a bike ride? Since the wind was coming down the Mohawk Valley from the NW, I decided to ride upstream and upwind for 10 miles, then turn around and enjoy the free ride home. This was a tough fight on the outbound leg, where it was hard to even maintain 7-8 mph at times in very low gears, not to mention staying in anything resembling a straight line. But, oh, the ride home! I hardly ever dropped below 18mph, and even kept it between 20-25 for one stretch. This sure beats the crap out of riding on the trainer in the basement!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Geocaching - H.G. Reist Preserve - Four Out of Four!

Today was a rather dreary November day, with a threat of afternoon showers - not a good day to make any big outdoor plans. Holly and I decided on a local walk in the H.G. Reist Preserve in Niskayuna, a property of the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club. As usual recently, we always check for any geocaches that may be hidden on any of these local walks, just to make it more interesting. There were 4 in this preserve that we hadn't yet tried to find, and we had a good day, finding all 4 in about an hour. They were all very easy ones, but after several recent failures-to-find, it was good to know at least that the GPS was working correctly. The rain never came, but it's very dark now for this time of day, so it can't be too far off.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Biking and Lunch - Schenectady's "Little Italy"

It wasn't exactly a promising day, with a 20% chance of some drizzle, but 4 of us took our chances and biked 11-12 miles from Lions Park in Niskayuna to Perreca's Italian Bakery on Jay Street in Schenectady for lunch. Perreca's just recently opened "More Perreca's", a small sit-down restaurant open next door for breakfast and lunch. We just barely beat the noon rush, ordered our lunches, and grabbed a table. Perreca's Italian bread is legendary around here, and that was the bread used for our sandwiches, which were very good. After lunch, we walked across Jay Street to Civitello's Italian Pastry Shop, where some of us had dessert. The chocolate ├ęclair I had was delicious, and others were equally pleased with their selections. As we headed back toward Niskayuna, it hadn't rained at all, the sun was out, and it was 55 degrees, another amazing November day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Geocaching - Skunked Again

We had time for a short walk this afternoon between other things, so we headed to the Mohawk River State Park, more familiarly known by its former name, the Schenectady Museum Preserve, near Lock 7 along the Mohawk River. There was a multi-part geocache we'd never tried, so we gave it a go. It was described simply as a "series of micros leading to an ammo can" as the final, so we had no idea how many parts there would be. We found the first two parts without any problem, but never managed to turn up part 3. It was a nice walk at any rate, though the trails were generally wet and sloppy. We need some cold weather and snow so we can ski here again, sans mud.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Geocaching - Jenkins Park

After helping Holly with some yard work, we took a short walk in Jenkins Park, in Burnt Hills, and tried our luck at a couple of geocaches there. We couldn't get the first one, but the second one was a snap. Having not yet walked very far, we then wandered some of the farther recesses of the park for a while. A lot of work is being done here, and new trails are being created, along with barriers to keep cars and ATVs where they belong.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Biking - 100th Biking Day of 2009

A few weeks ago, I realized I had biked on 95 days so far this year. Being one who loves round numbers, that could only mean one thing, and today was the day. It was mostly sunny and in the 50s again, and another nice day to get out. I decided to retrace my 20-mile ride of two days ago on the off-chance I'd stumble on a reflective leg band that had somehow gone missing on that ride. No such luck, but it was a good ride nevertheless. With 2,611 miles so far in 2009, December is yet to come, but so is colder messier weather, so it was good to get this one in on another very nice November day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hiking, Ski Trail Scouting, and 3 (of 5) Geocaches - Tibbits State Forest

Today was another nice November day, so Holly and I headed off to Tibbits State Forest, in Rensselaer County, to walk a 4-mile loop there and evaluate its suitability for cross-country skiing. It's listed in the Ski Tips booklet, published by ECOS, that I'm helping to revise, and though we'd walked there before, we weren't looking at it from a skier's point of view. There are also nearly 20 geocaches scattered throughout this forest, so we picked a few of those to look for as well. We oranged up really well, though deer season doesn't open until Saturday, and set off to explore this place.

First, the trails. There are two old roads that diverge from the parking area, both marked with red markers. At their farthest point, a blue-marked "foot-traffic only" trail connects their two ends, forming a loop. We hiked the loop clockwise, and the more southeasterly of the two roads was perfectly skiable, though a long gentle uphill slog. The blue hiking trail, though narrow and winding, with a few hills, would mostly be skiable by an intermediate skier. But then we came to a drop off the ridge that would be difficult in this direction for even an expert skier. Soon after that, we met the end of the other red-marked road, and the next bit of that was also a very steep downhill. Once it leveled out, the rest of the way back to the car would be a very nice ski. I plan to try skiing this in the opposite direction this winter, skiing UP the steepest parts, and then gliding down the more gentle easterly road. Stay tuned here for details of that adventure as winter sets in.

Along the way, we managed to find 3 of the 5 geocaches that we looked for. I'm tempted to say the other two were missing, and some other reports at lend credence to that belief for these two caches.

It was yet another nice day to be out in the woods.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Biking - Rolling on the River

So goes the old CCR song. Today was another nice day for November, much cooler, but sunny and no wind whatsoever. Despite putting in some time on the indoor trainer bike this morning, it was a day not to be wasted. So I bundled up and hit the Mohawk River Bikeway westbound, crossed the river at Lock 9, and returned via NY5 through Scotia, for about 20 relaxed miles. With cooler and more unsettled weather coming over the weekend and beyond, there may not be many more days like this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Walk - Schenectady County Forest

After a morning of catching up around the house, and with days getting too short to drive very far and have time to do anything, I headed for the Schenectady County Forest and a short walk in the woods. It was a beautiful clear day with a crisp breeze, and a walk had more appeal than another bike ride.

We sometimes XC ski here in the winter, since it's near the highest elevation in the county and holds its snow pretty well. I tidied the trails up a bit as I walked, removing downed branches and other debris, and covered most of the trails in an hour or so before heading back home.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Biking - In Shorts, in November

This year, it's like October and November got reversed somehow. After a very cool and unsettled October, the first half of November, for the most part, has been unseasonably warm and dry. There's still half a month to go, and literally anything can happen, but to have this many days in the 60s so far in November is quite a treat.

After standing outside yesterday in the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida, while helping a friend make some repairs to his dock on Great Sacandaga Lake, and then spending this morning on some fairly tedious business paperwork, I needed to get out on the bike. I had bigger ideas than the ultimate reality when I left the house, but decided en route to Grant Hill that I really didn't feel like climbing it today. So I settled for a mostly flat 19 miles, and when I'd finished, that felt like enough.

My old 10-speed is now set up on the trainer in the basement, and it's time to start getting in some more regular riding. Outdoors is only catch-as-catch-can this time of year, and it's just not enough to maintain any kind of fitness level.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hiking - A Catskill Potpourri

Today, Holly and I went hiking with our friends John and Diane. With hunting season in full swing to our north, we headed south to the Catskills, where it's still another week before the guns start blazing.

About an hour and a quarter from home, we parked on Roaring Brook Road and started up the Pecoy Notch Trail to the Devil's Path high above. About a mile from the car, we reached our destination, Dibble's Quarry. This is an abandoned bluestone quarry where a lot of debris remains strewn across the hillside. Persons unknown have constructed elaborate walls, chairs, fireplaces, and even a lighthouse here from the leftover stone slabs. Here, John and Diane are relaxing in the "throne room".

And Holly surveys her realm from the "Druid's Throne".

The views here are well worth the short hike, and the stonework alone makes it a very interesting destination.

When we got back to the car, it was still early, and the forecast rain was nowhere in sight, so we took a side trip to Kaaterskill Falls, in Kaaterskill Clove. 3 of the 4 of us had never been there before, so this was an added treat. We watched as a young couple wandered along the top of the lower falls, a place where many before have fallen to their deaths. It's a spectacular place with a long history, and it was nice to finally get to see it.

All in all, another fine November day outdoors, before an expected very wet weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Biking - Another November Bonus Day

Today wasn't supposed to be as warm as yesterday, and would also be mostly cloudy, but, hey, 60 degrees in November is a day not to be wasted. Some friends and I took a leisurely bike ride from western Clifton Park down to the Crescent Bridge, where we had lunch at Stewart's, and then returned by a different route, for 27 miles altogether. In past years, we've tried to ride in every month, and November was an easy one this year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hiking, Geocaching, and Ski Trail Scouting on a Very Warm November Day

November 9. Sunny. 73 degrees. Wait.....what? We don't get many days like this around here this late in the season. Holly and I headed off today for the short hike up Vroman's Nose, near Middleburgh, NY, and its outstanding views of the Schoharie Valley. It's less than an hour from home, and only a half hour to the top, but the views are stupendous. The trail follows an old road up the more gentle back side, and reaches the sheer cliffs facing south and east. Peregrine falcons nest here, and it's an extremely popular local hike.

After enjoying the views and eating lunch, we went off in search of a couple of geocaches known to be up here on the summit. Well, one was, and we found it easily. The other was downhill in a direction we chose not to go this trip, so we left it for another time.

On the way home, sort of, we stopped at Cole Hill State Forest to check out more of the XC ski trails and get in a little more of a walk. I had been here earlier in the week, but only scratched the surface, and only in a different part of the forest. Today, I GPSed (is that a verb?) the trails as we walked, and should be able to produce a pretty accurate map for the ECOS Ski Tips publication I'm helping to update and revise. We also picked off one more geocache in the forest, as long as we were there. It was just a wonderful day to be outside.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Geocaching - Four in One Day

It was a sunny November day in the 60s, so Holly and I took advantage by getting out for a walk and looking for some geocaches this afternoon. Indian Meadows Park, in Glenville, has about 8-10 of them scattered about, so I picked 4 and away we went. These were pretty easy ones, one of them a multi-cache, and we actually found all 5 locations in less than a 90-minute walk. Lots of people out on a very nice Indian Summer day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Biking - River Loop

I was supposed to lead an ADK hike to Kaaterskill High Peak today. But after last weekend's back strain, and the fact that it's still not quite right, hauling a winter-weight pack up and down a steep Catskill didn't have a whole lot of appeal. So, with only a couple of people showing interest anyway, I cancelled the hike, despite it being a very nice day.

But after spending a whole week basically sitting on my ass because of this, I needed to do something. I thought that biking might be OK as long as I took it easy and didn't get my back into any hill climbing. After a little struggle getting the bike up out of the basement, I set off on a flat loop up and down the Mohawk River, for about 21 miles. This was fine with no back issues, except the return trip had a 15-20 mph headwind, and that distance turned out to be plenty. The bike is now in the garage, and I should be able to get out more easily if I want to ride again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Walk - Long Path, Cole Hill State Forest

I messed up my back somehow last weekend, so haven't been doing much this week.

Yesterday, I went to a meeting of the ECOS Ski Tips Committee, of which I am a member. We're revising a 2001 edition of that booklet, which contains maps of local places to go cross-country skiing. We're trying to update and field-check all of the maps and republish a new edition in the next year or so. Since Cole Hill State Forest just got added to my list, and I needed to get out and do something, I went and walked part of the ski trails there, parts of which follow the Long Path. I didn't walk all that far, but from what I saw, this place looks pretty good for skiing. It's also up in the hills of Albany County, so will get more snow than down here in the valley. We'll give it a try sometime this winter, and field-check the rest of the trails shown on the existing map.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Geocaching - Wolf Creek Falls Preserve

Today was a sunny, bright November day, and Holly and I decided to go try a couple of geocaches. We chose the Wolf Creek Falls Preserve, between Altamont and Knox, a property of the Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy. There are two geocaches located in the preserve, Holly had never been there, and it was a nice day for a walk in the woods.

We found the first geocache easily after a short walk and an impromptu high-water detour around a swollen stream. But the second one eluded us. We knew we were in the right place, but it must have been extremely well-hidden or camouflaged. After running out of ideas, we gave up and headed back to the car.

We'll definitely be back here in the winter to try some cross-country skiing on the wide and rolling trails.