Friday, October 4, 2013

A Funny Day on Moxham Mountain

Well, it finally happened.  On top of Moxham Mountain yesterday, we were talking to a young couple we'd never met.  They were asking us if we knew the names of some of the other summits off in the distance.  We asked them where they were from, had they been here before, all the usual conversational questions.  They told us they had meant to come here last year but hadn't quite had the time.  They'd read about it on "some guy's blog" last fall, and really wanted to see it for themselves.  Hmmm, I said.  I'd blogged about a trip here last fall.  Would that be my blog you're referring to?  She asked me the name of the blog, so I told her "No Rocking Chair for Me".  "Oh yeah, that's the one!  You stopped writing it and we're missing it.  You always wrote about such interesting  places to go."

I guess it was inevitable, but this was a first.  Two of my former readers came here on my recommendation in an earlier blog post.  And on the same day I was here again.  Weird and funny coincidence!  And this was immediately after (2 minutes) we finished talking to two of my daughters' former music teachers from middle school, over 15 years ago.  They're now retired and were also enjoying a mid-week hike to Moxham.  They mentioned where they'd taught, I mentioned our last name, and they immediately remembered both girls, in surprising detail.  Crazy!

Moxham itself was resplendent in peak fall colors.  It's only a 4.6-mile hike round-trip, and is more than worth that minimal effort.  I'll let the pictures below speak for themselves.

So, does this post mean the blog is back?  Not sure yet, but this one definitely needed to be posted.  Time will tell.

Gore Mountain from ridge below Moxham summit

Approaching our destination

Summit panorama

Ponds below the summit ridge

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Taking a break from this blog

In case anybody out there has even noticed, I haven't posted anything here in a couple of weeks.  It's not that I haven't been getting out as usual - I definitely have.  Biking, hiking, disc golf, real golf, all of it.  But after one of those outings, I somehow felt a compulsion to sit down and write about it, even though I didn't really feel like it.  So I didn't.  And I haven't posted since.

This was not a conscious decision on my part.  It just sort of came over me, and I went with it.  And honestly, I've been enjoying the freedom of going out and having fun without coming back here to document it every time.  So that tells me it's time for a break.  I've been posting regularly here since December 2007, and am pretty astonished by the visitors I've somehow reached, shown by the countries in blue below.

But somehow, something's gone stale over that time, and I need to take a step back, and decide how, or if, I'll continue on from here.

So, for now, thanks to all of you for reading, and check back every now and then - you just never know.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Disc golf, yard work, and a short bike ride on a fantastic day

Disc golf - Worst. Round. Ever.  Enuff said.

After that pathetic effort, I came home and mowed the lawn for the first time, and had to fiddle with the lawn mower to get it running smoothly on its first outing.  A stop at the grocery store, lunch, and then I was off to Holly's house to help her with some of her yard work.

After finishing that up, we went for a short ride around the great roads in Burnt Hills.  I rode an old mountain bike, and pushed myself with big gears on the few uphills.  It was a beautiful afternoon to be outside, and it feels like spring may finally be here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A wildflower bonanza in the Colonie Mohawk River Park

Today would have been a great day for a bike ride, but with a full day of trail maintenance coming up tomorrow, I didn't want to overdo it.  So instead, I got out for another wildflower walk, this time in what used to be called the Colonie Town Park, on the banks of the Mohawk River east of I-87.  I hadn't been there yet this spring, and it's relatively close to home, so it seemed like a good choice.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Click on each for a larger version.


Early saxifrage

May apple


Turkey vulture

Trout lilies

Seeing those last few trout lilies on my way back to the car, I was reminded that I'd be passing right by the former Schenectady Museum Preserve on the way home, and there's a huge patch of trout lilies there very close to the car that I've been keeping my eye on.  It seemed worth another look.

I saw these just a few steps from the car, and had a pretty good idea what came next:

Just a few steps further along, I could see the effects of the last few days of warm weather.  The trout lilies here had virtually exploded into bloom.  This is the best patch of these I've ever seen this close to home.

I try to catch this spectacle every year, and today it was FINALLY here.  Must be spring at last!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Looking for spring in the Sanders Preserve

Today was much cooler and breezier than yesterday, so I passed on biking again and got out for another walk.  I've been hitting lots of different local preserves this spring looking for early wildflowers, and today, decided to try the Sanders Preserve in nearby Glenville.

My first discovery gave me hope for the rest of this outing, a nice patch of bloodroot just opening right next to the trail.

But after that, I saw nothing at all, except the usual early leaves of trout lily and a very few budding trillium.  I was about to give up, when the colors of a few small patches of hepatica really jumped out from the surrounding brown leaves.  Every shade from white to violet was represented in a few square yards of ground.

It was surprising not to see more here, with the usual wet ground and recent warmer temperatures.  But finally things are beginning to pop, so I'll have to revisit some favorite spots in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Biking - A lazy 30-mile loop

Wednesday forecast:  Sunny with a high near 71.  

Well, it's about time!  And with clouds, stronger breezes, and a chance of showers late in the day, it was time this morning to get back in the saddle.  As sporadically as I've been riding, I didn't want to kill myself with a tough climbing ride.  So I fell back on a favorite, a 30-mile loop from home with no long climbs and no grade higher than 5%.  Today was more about miles on the legs and butt than about climbing.

Though there weren't any long hills, the route was lumpy enough that the total climbing came out just under 1,000 feet.  But it was spread out just enough to make it interesting.  I took it easy on this ride, relaxing and shifting a lot to always be in a comfortable gear.  No hammering, and no pushing myself up hills.  Just a nice casual ride on a beautiful day.  It felt good.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bike racing, disc golf, some yard work, and another wildflower walk

Ah retirement!  What would I do without you?

The day started off sunny with lots of promise, but too cool yet to do anything fun outside.  So I caught the end of Stage 3 of the Tour of Turkey bike race, which ended on the most evil-looking climb I think I've ever seen.  Then it was time to get out and do something.

Holly and I had talked about biking together later, and I was going to extend that ride by biking to her house and back.  But that wasn't until afternoon, so I got out for another round of disc golf before lunch.  I knocked off a couple shots from yesterday's debacle, but there's still lots of room for improvement.

By midday, the sun had disappeared and temps were still only in the 40s, so we bagged the bike ride idea, and I helped Holly with a few things around her yard.  Then we got out for a short walk in the Indian Kill Preserve, in Glenville.  It's actually starting to look a little more like spring, with lots of colt's foot, blue cohosh, and the buds of trout lily and trillium everywhere.

Colt's foot
And then there was this, which made the trip complete:

Red trillium
Finally!  One of our favorite spring wildflowers in bloom!  Can real spring be far behind?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Two kinds of golf on a pretty nice day

I couldn't for the life of me get excited about biking today, so instead, I returned to the disc golf course in Central Park where I haven't been for the past two weeks.  I've started playing the longer tees now, since I seem to have enough distance in me to do that, and my scores off the short tees have stagnated somewhat around +5-6 for the round.  I had a very good first nine, no worse than off the short tees, but crumbled on the back nine, finding water twice and ballooning my score.

This afternoon, I pulled out a golf club and went off to hit a bucket of balls at my local range.  I hardly played at all last year, or even for the past several years, so had no idea what to expect.  The usual problems are still there, but overall, I couldn't complain too much about how things went.  I haven't gotten any WORSE for the long layoff, so that's a plus.  Might be time to try a par-3 course and see how bad the rest of my game has become.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

3 short walks , still looking for spring

Last year, two weeks ago this time, I paid a visit to the Limestone Rise Preserve, west of Altamont on NY-146 in the town of Knox.  On that trip, I saw the most profuse blooms of hepatica I had ever seen in one place.  It was almost impossible to walk without stepping on them.  So today, I decided it was time for a return visit.  This has been a very different spring season from last year, but I though by now, after a few days of sunny warm weather, things might be catching up.  But whether because of today's brisk cool winds, or because I'm still rushing this late spring, it was not to be.  There were indeed hepatica all over the  place, but they were almost all still closed up.  And not even a single spring beauty had sprouted yet to keep them company.

Since I was out anyway, I decided to try another preserve at a lower elevation, where the snow melted earlier, temps may have been a little warmer, and it might be farther along.  At the Moccasin Kill Sanctuary, in Rotterdam, I saw not a single wildflower, somewhat surprising, but I guess it shouldn't be based on what I'd seen everywhere else so far.

On the way home, I took an impulse detour for a quick stop at the Mohawk River State Park in Niskayuna.  There's a large patch of trout lilies here that might also be in bloom by now.  Or so I hoped.  But I found a similar situation here, mostly just their speckled leaves and a very few blooms.  And those were also still closed up, either against the cold or against the calendar.

With another week of warm days, I think that we'll be seeing things really explode, because they're very close now.  I guess I just need to be more patient.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Biking - A longer loop on a beautiful day

Sunny and upper 60s!   It's about time!  I decided to celebrate by doing one of my favorite loops, clockwise along the river between the Rexford and Crescent Bridges.  It's about 27.5 miles, my longest of this season, as well as having a little more climbing overall than I've done so far.

I decided to start from the Niskayuna Train Station heading west, and get some of the climbing out of the way early.  Normally, I would start at about the 5-mile mark above, near KAPL, but that means a couple of annoying hills near the end when I'm tired.  There was also a slight westerly headwind, and by breaking the westbound section in half, I didn't have to fight it all at once.

There were lots of other bikers out today, with the best weather we've had so far, and the bike path was surprisingly busy for a weekday.  I rode today at an easy pace and just enjoyed the great weather.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another walk, still no wildflowers

With an early afternoon appointment, a windy morning, and a forecast of steadier rain later, I got out for an hour's walk this morning, again in the Mohawk River State Park.  There's a very prolific patch of trout lilies here not far from the car, and I was curious to see their progress after a few days of rain and warmer temperatures.  Unfortunately, spring seems to be arriving at a glacial pace this year, and there were still only their early speckled leaves and no flowers.  In fact, I saw no flowers of any kind as I wandered around the trail system here.  I got briefly spritzed a couple of times by passing showers, but nothing serious, and blue skies returned shortly.  Looking forward to warmer temperatures and some progress over the next few days.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Biking - Testing the legs on the first climb of the year

Finally, a day with some biking appeal!  Warmer temperatures, lighter winds, and nothing else to do.

So far this season, I've been doing relatively flat rides, repeating the same 16-mile loop as weather and schedule permitted.  Today, I decided to add on a bit with a 21-mile ride that included a climb of my favorite, Grant Hill Road in Guilderland.  I rode this loop clockwise, starting from home, just off the top of the map.

The day just wasn't warming up fast enough, so I finally bit the bullet, layered up, and hit the road.  There was a little more wind than I'd expected, and temps were still only in the 40s, but I was dressed right, so it was still pleasant riding.

Grant Hill Road is a fairly short climb, less than a mile, but there's a 9% pitch near the top that gets your heart beating.  I ride this climb a lot because it lets me gauge progress in leg strength as the season progresses.  Today, I was in a much lower gear than usual, but there was never any question of making the top.  From there, it was mostly downhill to French's Hollow, now closed to cars, but the bridge over the Normanskill is still open for bikes.  I always stop for a drink here and enjoy the water coming down from Watervliet Reservoir.  On a good day, there might even be a train crossing the trestle.

It's a short steep climb out of here, and soon I'm back on the end of the 16-mile route I've been doing, with a few miles added today.  A few unexpected sprinkles hit me on the way home, but overall it was a good day on the bike.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Walks - Looking for spring in three local preserves

After Tuesday's ADK outing, the rest of the week turned colder and wetter, so I still haven't been back on the bike since Sunday.  But I have managed to sneak in a few local walks between the raindrops, hoping to find some early signs of spring.

On Wednesday, I walked a slow loop around the H. G. Reist Sanctuary in Niskayuna.  Although there were birds everywhere, the only wildflower I saw was the prolific skunk cabbage that always grows here.  It hadn't leafed out yet, and only the flowers were visible, much like we'd seen the day before.

On Thursday, I took a long walk in the Mohawk River State Park and the adjacent John Brown Trail System, also in Niskayuna.  Here, I started to see the first leaves of the trout lily as well as the leaves of a few violets.  No flowers here yet either.

Today, with showers in the forecast for later in the day, I visited the Plotterkill Preserve before lunch.  There's a really good map here on Ed Atkeson's extensive Plotterkill blog, and I'll be referring to it here as I continue.

I parked at the lower entrance on Lower Gregg Road, and headed up the north rim to the yellow side trail leading to the "Step Falls", the group of 3 small triangles on the map.  The trails were muddy, but hey, it's spring, so it's to be expected.  The upper Step Falls was almost submerged by the raging waters.

Upper Step Falls
 Across the stream was a pretty tributary, usually dry in the summer, but flowing nicely today.

Near upper Step Falls
I continued downstream as far as I could, and reached the middle Step Falls.

Middle Step Falls
There was really no way to continue along the stream from here, so I retraced my steps back up to the rim, and continued upstream to the next yellow side trail.  This one led me to Sergeant's Falls.

Sergeant's Falls and tributary
Sergeant's Falls and tributary
Again, I was stymied along the stream bank, so I headed back up to the rim and the red trail to retrace my steps back to the car.  Along the way, I saw the first wildflowers of the spring, some colts foot growing on an exposed mud slide part way down into the gorge.

Colts foot
At this point I thought I was down for the day.  But then I again noticed a pretty significant roar and lots of white water down below.  It was the other unnamed group of 4 small triangles on the map.  There's no trail to these falls, but they sounded worth a trip, so I found a relatively gentle way down, being very careful, and reached an amazing spot deep in the gorge.  I was standing near a big bend in the stream, below rocky cliffs on both sides.

View downstream from just above the upper four-triangle falls
Working my way downstream as far as I dared, and before reaching towering cliffs above me, I came to the next set of four-triangle falls:

View upstream from below second falls
Once or twice, long ago, I walked the entire gorge during times of low water, and must have passed here before.  But I'd never seen it like this, and was glad I'd come down in the gorge to see it.

Now I was done, and it was time for lunch, so I headed back to the car.  As I was driving home, I noticed a deer tick crawling up the outside of my pants, and quickly disposed of it.  It's that time of year, and they're definitely on the prowl.  Be careful out there!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Walk - Bog Meadow Nature Trail

After that windy ride on Sunday, and a bunch of yard work yesterday, I was at a low energy level today, so had signed up for an easy 4-mile hike/walk on the Bog Meadow Nature Trail, east of Saratoga Springs.  This was a joint Schenectady ADK and Taconic Hiking Club outing, with the ostensible purpose of finding some early spring wildflowers.  Nineteen (?!?) of us left the trailhead, spread out into many casual conversational groups.  It was a pleasant enough walk, but in terms of flowers, I guess you could say we got skunked.  The only early blooms we saw all morning were skunk cabbage, and even it seemed to be in its early stages.  What a difference a year makes!  Last year at about this time, I was walking in the Limestone Rise Preserve near Altamont, and the flowers were prolific.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Biking - "We're not in Kansas anymore..."

But it sure felt like it:





There are two ways to ride on a windy day.  You can either fight it, cursing all the way, or you can relax, accept it, even embrace it, and just enjoy the ride.  After several days of unseasonable cold and wind, today was forecast to be sunny and in the upper 50s, but with the unfortunate addition of the above wind advisory.  Now I've cursed the wind as much as anybody when out on the bike, not the last time of which was as I crossed the aforementioned Kansas 3 years (?!?) ago now.  But spring has been late in coming this year, and I just couldn't waste a day like this.

I decided to ride the same 16-mile loop I've been riding so far this year, not adding anything, and letting the wind make it a more difficult outing all by itself.  The first 6.5 miles, to the southeasterly point on the map below, was almost dead on into a headwind, with swirling gusts from a variety of directions.  But I wasn't allowed to whine about it, since I'd known what to expect when I decided to ride today.  I just spun the pedals in a lower gear, and enjoyed finally being out there again on an otherwise pleasant day.

Once I turned that corner, and I headed back the other way, things improved immensely, and for all the rest of the way back home.  I even spent some rare time (for me) in the big ring, cranking at 18-20mph with a nice tailwind. 

I was glad I hadn't just sat home cursing the wind.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Biking - Going loopy

With the cold, windy, even snowy weather we've had for the past week, I haven't been out on the bike at all.  So when today promised sunny and 50s, it was time to get back in the saddle.  I thought maybe by now I'd be upping the miles a bit, but with the week of inactivity, I thought better of it, and just settled for the same 16-mile loop I've been doing so far.  But it seems I needn't have worried.  Today's ride felt good, and I could feel the leg strength coming back.  Next time out (tomorrow?), more miles, or a climb, or maybe even both.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Disc golf and biking - Could this finally be spring?

Temperatures this week seem to be edging toward 50F and beyond, and it's about time.  Coming home from another errand this morning, I noticed that Central Park and the disc golf course were completely clear of snow, and also of people playing the game.  So I got home, did a quick turnaround, and got out for a quick round sans afternoon crowds.  It was a pretty average round overall, except for the hole-in-one on #9, my first ever.  I'd hit the chains here once before, but that one dropped out.  This time, a 160-foot curving bullet slammed in and stayed there.  Couldn't quite believe it.

After that one round, I decided to quit while I was ahead, and get out for a bike ride after lunch.  But then, getting home, I skipped lunch, and just went ahead and did it.  I'd tweaked a couple of things on the bike since the last ride a few days ago (rear shifting, handlebar angle), and today everything seemed much better, including my legs, despite a stronger wind (NW 17 G 26 mph).  I did the same 16+ miles as before, but it seemed like less of a struggle, so that's a good sign.  If the weather stays good next week, I can start bumping up the mileage and/or doing some climbs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Walk - Christman Sanctuary

Today was more windy than I would have liked, though the temps were approaching 50F, so I didn't bike again today.  Instead, I paid a return visit to one of my favorite local places, the Christman Sanctuary in nearby Duanesburg.  I was curious about how much snow remained at these higher elevations, and also looked forward to seeing a lot of ice in this narrow gorge.  I wasn't disappointed.

Walking along the stream was hard-packed and occasionally icy, but I kept the microspikes in my pocket for most of this walk.  The water was running fast beneath the ice and over the many cascades here.

Farther upstream, where the gorge narrowed and the trail steepened, I did put on the microspikes for an otherwise slippery descent.  Near the main falls was this beautiful wall of bluish ice.

The main 30-foot waterfall was running pretty well too, though it wasn't as photogenic today as on some previous visits.

Though the calendar says "spring", it wasn't quite spring here yet, though the rapidly melting snow and rushing water are both good signs of things to come.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Walk - 5 miles at 14:00/mile

After yesterday's brief bike suffer-fest, I was planning to get back in the saddle today and do it again.  Then came the excuses, and before I knew it, I was approaching the school bus time of day (another excuse?), and just couldn't get excited about doing it.  So I didn't.

Last winter, when we rarely had snow but it was too cold to bike, I discovered that a fast walk on the snow-free bike path was a good alternative form of exercise.  I've been throwing in a few of these ever since, especially in colder weather.  So today that's what I did, walking from SCCC to Lock 8 and back along the Mohawk River Bike Path in Rotterdam.  I'd never really timed one of these before, but today's 5 miles in about 1:10 saw me moving right along at better than 4mph.

I don't get quite the same calorie burn from these walks as from the same length of time bicycling, but I'll just chalk it up to cross-training and it's all good.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Biking - First road ride of the season

It's spring, dammit!  And despite the piles of snow along the sides of the roads, the pavement is dry, it's over 40F, and it's time to start riding.  Until it snows again.

I've been out a few times on the bike path this winter on an old mountain bike, but today I got my good bike back on the road.  This was as much a test of the bike as of my legs and winter-softened butt, having completed my annual down-to-the-ball-bearings overhaul and cleaning a few weeks ago.  Aside from some funky rear shifting, the bike was smooth, silent, and like new again.  I tweaked that problem when I got home.  But for my body, this was more of a struggle than it should have been.  What a wake-up call!  It was only a little over 16 miles with only one minor climb, and I've ridden on much windier days.  But I was definitely ready to be done when I got home.  I can see I have some serious work to do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A gathering of friends, more XC skiing, a rest day, and a local walk

On Wednesday evening, after XC skiing 2 hours at Rockwood State Forest with Holly, we got together with most of the other riders in my group from last year's Bon Ton Roulet bike tour in the Finger Lakes for a potluck dinner and reunion.  It was good to see everybody again, and the food was fantastic.  While there, Holly and I convinced some others that Rockwood was currently the best skiing around, and the seeds of another outing were planted.

On Thursday, a couple of of those friends, one other friend, and I all headed back to Rockwood for more skiing.  Holly couldn't make it this time, but 4 skiers gave us enough to break some new trails.  The snow was getting a little sticky by the time we were finishing up, and with warmer days and cold nights headed our way, the snow there won't stay nice much longer.  This time, we were out for 3 hours, and on top of the day before, I was toast when we were done. 

Friday was a lazy rest and catch-up day, with lots of reading, local errands, and a short nap.  But those days can get boring, and I didn't want another one today.  So this afternoon, I got out for a long walk in the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in Clifton Park.  There was still a little snow here, but it was soft and easily walkable, with patches of spring mud here and there as well.  There were lots of Canada geese, and I even saw a group of deer, but not another human for the 90 minutes I was out.

Warmer weather looks to be on the way, and this next snowstorm will miss us to the south, so fingers are crossed that spring may soon make an appearance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

XC Skiing - Rockwood State Forest scores again!

If you live in this area, you have two choices when it comes to winter.  You can either grumble about it, or you can get out and enjoy it.  Usually, I do pretty well with the latter, but when it comes to March and late-season snowstorms, I've been grumbling a lot this year.  I'm ready for spring.

But today, Holly and I got out for one more XC ski trip, again to Rockwood State Forest.  The snow at home was crunchy, having had some rain and sleet mixing in at times, and wasn't very nice.  But at Rockwood, we found fully 12" of fresh new fluffy snow, and no sign of any crunch at all.  It was one of our best ski outings of the year.

Our favorite loop, with the biggest hills, had already been broken, much to our delight, and we had a great time skiing it  in the new snow.  At the end, we broke out a few other trails, with the objective of getting to the top of a couple of our favorite downhills, near the parking area.  I did a crazy steep one that I hadn't braved in a while, but it was very tame today in the deep unbroken snow.  Holly did a different descent, also unbroken, and it was a somewhat new experience for both of us getting first tracks on the downhills here.

I'm still ready for spring, but I wouldn't have missed this day for anything.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hiking - Discovering the Levine Preserve

Today, I joined a weekly gathering of Saratoga PLAN preserve stewards as we explored a preserve I'd never visited before, the Levine Preserve in Providence.  There are no real trails here yet, just a former town road that bisects the preserve and allows a nice walk.  PLAN is in the process of laying out where future trails might go, so today we were roughly following some existing flagging, but also exploring some on our own.  There are remains of several buildings here, including a former farmstead, an old sawmill on picturesque Cadman Creek, and literally miles of old stone walls.

Cadman Creek, near the sawmill ruins

We only walked a few miles, but stopped a lot to try to understand what we were seeing and what used to be here.  This place deserves a return trip in the spring, when wildflowers are in bloom and before the inevitable underbrush takes over for the summer.  Formal trails are still planned, but will take time, and I hope to be involved in possibly creating some of them later this year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Walking and disc golf - A return to colder weather

After last week's surprise 8" snowfall, a few warmer days and some significant rain took care of getting rid of it very quickly.  The past few days have been colder and windy, and not very appealing for doing much outside.  Nevertheless, I got in a couple of walks, a fast one on the Rotterdam bike path, and a more relaxed shorter one in the H. G. Reist Sanctuary in nearby Niskayuna.

Today was a better day, so I got in a couple of rounds of disc golf in Central Park.  I finished both rounds with 66 (+9), but in two very different ways (33-33 and 29-37).  Aside from a couple of uncharacteristically disastrous "holes" in each round, it was a pretty good day overall. 

More snow possible next week - it's just that up and down time of year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Biking - A shortened trip on the still snowy bike path

After a lazy day yesterday recuperating from a tiring XC ski outing the day before, I needed to take advantage of a dry day with mild temperatures before the rains arrive tomorrow.  So I took the old mountain bike to the Niskayuna and Colonie bike path, as I've been doing all winter.  I can usually get in about 12 miles on the sections that are either plowed or melted off, but today I had to stop a little short of that. 

I picked my way through a couple of minor snowy sections, but near the usual turnaround point, I had to bail out a little earlier.  Where the path hasn't been plowed, and there are trees blocking the sun, there's still some leftover snow out there.  A slight headwind (in both directions, as usual) made up for the shortened distance, and it was still more than I would have done on the trainer in the basement. 

The roads still aren't quite ready for serious riding (at least not for me and my squeaky-clean road bike), so this will have to do for now.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

XC Skiing - Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

Dyken Pond is in another world, at the end of a long dead-end road high on the Rensselaer County Plateau.  When I scouted it out for an ADK ski trip several weeks ago, there was more snow there than anyplace else locally, well over a foot, but it was very crunchy and not good for skiing.  After Friday's additional snow, warm temperatures, and with all that remaining base, we just had to give it a try.  And it didn't disappoint.

There was easily 15-16" of snow on the trails, which, unfortunately, had not been broken anywhere we went, aside from a single snowshoer at one point.  This was heavy, wet, but skiable snow, and we broke trail on several loops before we just plain ran out of gas.  The temperature here never got above 40 degrees, despite near-50s in the valleys below.  But the warm March sun kept the snow soft, and it was a perfect day to be outside.  There will be snow here for a long time yet, and hopefully, some more skiers will discover these trails.  Maybe they'll be broken out next time we return.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Disc golf - A couple of not-so-rusty rounds

I haven't played any disc golf since December, a combination of weather, course conditions, and a sore throwing elbow.  But looking at Central Park today, with temps in the mid-30s and my elbow OK, the course looked mostly ice-free and playable, so I decided to give it a try.

I had lost my favorite "driver" disc last fall at Blatnick Park, so this would be the first throws for the replacement I got from Holly for Christmas.  All things considered, I wasn't expecting much from this outing, but was pleasantly surprised.  The new "driver" goes further than the old, and I had no trouble putting together two better-than-average rounds of 63-63, each only +6, and each with a couple of birdies.

Now it's snowing again, with an annoying piddling accumulation expected, so I guess I'll put the discs back on the shelf for a while.  Looks like a warmup and some sloppiness due here next week.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Biking - A few March miles after a lazy week

It's been a week without exercise, for a variety of reasons.  Sketchy weather, other things to do, lack of motivation.  My good bike has been in pieces in the basement getting its annual overhaul, but I finished that today, and with temps over 40, it was time to get off my butt and do something.

"Something" turned out to be a short bike ride on the bike path in Niskayuna and Colonie, not quite 12 miles, on my old mountain bike.  There were lots of people out, mostly walkers, and my horn got a good workout.

Now that the good bike is ready to roll, if the roads stay dry it will be time to take it out for a test drive.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

XC Skiing - Return to the amazing Rockwood State Forest

After I made a scouting trip to Rockwood State Forest yesterday, the decision was made for the ECOS weekly XC ski outing to return there today.  It was slightly warmer yesterday morning when I was there, so the snow today was a little crunchier and faster than yesterday.  Despite that, we managed to avoid most of the really steep hills and spent a couple of hours on flatter terrain, and occasionally testing our downhill skills on some easier slopes. 

We had to do some out-and-back skiing on some trails to keep it safe for everybody, but skiing is skiing, and it's been a scarce commodity this winter. 

Rockwood continues to surprise and delight us.  With almost no snow in Johnstown just a few miles away, the additional elevation here seems to make all the difference.  And from what we saw today, it will be here for quite a while longer.

Monday, February 25, 2013

XC Skiing - Rockwood State Forest

Tomorrow is the ECOS weekly XC ski outing, and I've agreed to lead it.  So, with the only known nearby skiable snow at Rockwood State Forest, I headed back today to make sure that the weekend weather and walkers hadn't trashed the skiing.

Started skiing at 9:30am, temp 34 after a low in the mid-20s, so much like tomorrow will be.  There's plenty of snow, a little crunchy but not icy, and much better than when ECOS was last there on snowshoes a couple of weeks ago.  The ski tracks were mostly intact everywhere I went.  Definitely skiable, though the conditions are nowhere near as good as Holly and I found there last week.

I stayed off the big hills, which I think would be a little too exciting with this snow, but there's enough terrain there that we'll be able to do loops and out-and-backs without hitting anything too threatening.  It may be the only "nearby" skiing choice at this point.

So, tomorrow, we'll go back and do it again, before the bottom really falls out on Tuesday night and Wednesday, with all kinds of mixed precipitation falling from the sky.