Tuesday, August 30, 2016

You are the best thing that ever happened to me

What we've been up to:
So we did some rock climbing at Shelving Rock and planned to leave early the morning of our last day.  We didn’t know where we were going, but decide to head towards Lake Placid.  One of the issues with being in the wilderness is no cell reception.  Along with that we are unable to look up places to stay and things to do.  We have to have ‘town days’, to catch up on email, type blog posts, and look up what we will do next.  As we drove towards Lake Placid we saw a lot of trailheads near Keene Village and noticed a store called the Mountaineer.  We stopped in to see if they had maps of the area, specifically the High Peaks Wilderness.  It was a fantastic gear shop, wish there were more like it.  We found what we were looking for and planned to go exploring on a backpacking trip.  We planned for about 5 days out.  We stopped in a good place because all those trailheads lead into the High Peaks.  We headed out around 3pm and did 6 miles to the first shelter.  It was grueling.  I think we were both a little worn out from climbing the day before, Matthew had also gone on a run after climbing.  What made it difficult was the elevation, we went from about 1500 feet to 3500 or so.  By the time we made it to the shelter I was hurting way more than I thought I should.  We also had packs that were a little heavy from the food we needed for 5 days.  The next day we hiked about 8 miles.  It was the most difficult, scary and fun hiking I have ever done.  I learned to respect the High Peaks.  Part of the hike that day included Gothic.  This was not simply hiking, it was a mix of hiking and rock climbing.  It’s partly what made the hike so difficult, scary and fun.  The other part of it was the weather.  We had 60mph winds and it was threatening to rain the whole day.  At one point I was climbing down the side of a rock near the top of a mountain and a crazy wind came by, I gripped as hard as I could onto the the rock and waited for it to subside before climbing the rest of the way down.  I have no photos from that day, I was worried about getting my phone wet and a bit preoccupied with what I was doing.  The rain did eventually come.  It was very gradual.  When it first started I didn’t put on my rain gear because I was already so sweaty I didn’t feel it mattered.  As the rain built up I got soaked.  I did fine because we were moving and I stayed warm. Once we made it to the shelter I was soaked and it didn’t take long after stopping for me to get cold.  Thankfully I had long underwear to change into that was nice and dry, then happily and aching I crawled into my sleeping bag.  There were already 4 other people at the shelter when we arrived that were fun to chat with.  The next morning we woke to chill and fog.  When we woke that morning my knee was hurting pretty bad and apparently sprained my great toe.  We concluded a zero day was in order and stayed the whole day at the shelter recuperating from the past 2 days.  It was pretty great, sorry again no photos.  The view from the shelter was of two mountains.  It was surprising to me how cold it was that day, it never really warmed up.  We got two new hikers that evening that shared the shelter with us, there were two Canadian friends that were really funny guys.  We had a great time chatting with them.  The next morning we packed up for about a 9 mile hike.  I was excited because we were doing Mt. Marcy and it is the highest peak in New York.  I love hiking for the views (and for the amount of food I can eat).  We also did Mt. Haystack and it had a beautiful view as well.  The hike to those peaks felt extremely easy compared to our previous hiking day.  We ended near a shelter but slept out in the open at a campsite under the stars.  We were close to a waterfall so we went to it on our way out the next morning.  The last day was only 6 miles out.  We got up early and were out by 11am.  We unpacked, changed to less smelly clothing and headed to Lake Placid.  Our first order of business was to hit a laundromat.  While our clothes got cleaned we walked along main street and got some pizza.  After that we went to Starbucks to figure out where to sleep that night and a few other internet things.  Then, we went to a movie!  After the guilty pleasure of watching Suicide Squad we did some grocery shopping and headed to a new campsite.  On the way we drove through Saranac Lake Village, missed a turn and there was free live music!  The band played cover songs with a southern Louisiana twang.  We found some parking and hung out until 9pm.  We were pretty tired by then but thankfully the campsite was only 15 min away.  We camped by a pond and are right on the water.  We spent two days at our awesome new campsite, working on little projects, reading, playing guitar, swimming in the pond, etc.  We attempted a climb at an area called Azure mountain.  We followed the directions from a site and everything was going well until we got to what we thought was our final destination.  The rock did not match the photos we had, we searched around but did not find the actual location.  We also found the rock to be rotten and falling apart.  Not safe. So we hiked back out.  We went into town for the second half of the day, Matthew needed a new climbing harness and we ran some errands.  We have greatly been enjoying our current campsite on the water.  We are not too close to hiking or rock climbing so we have taken up swimming across the pond and back for exercise.  A friendly park ranger came by and told us about a canoe rental place.  It didn’t take long for us to take advantage of that.  We packed our food and headed out for a day on the water.  We canoed for about 7 hours.  I didn’t get a photo of the map to show the route.  It consisted of a loop they estimated takes 4-5 hours and we added on an out and back trip to another area that looked cool.  The result was canoeing almost the entire time.  We took a few short breaks in the middle of lakes and pulled off on a boat access campsite for lunch.  Part of the loop also included having to get our of the water and carry the canoe along a short trail to the next body of water.  Today we are taking it easy from a long day in the sun.  Taking is easy looks like this.. we woke up, had breakfast, packed up, went to town to buy more food, walked the town Saranac Lake, explored a Museum about Dr. Trudeau and the history of is work with TB and Saranac Lake.  Then stopped in a coffee shop to work on blogging and such.  I am sitting at Origins Coffee in Saranac Lake sipping on a London Fog (which is a fancy earl grey tea with warm milk as far as I can tell).  We are here for about another week and a half.  I imagine we will do a lot of the same, more swimming and hiking.  Maybe some rock climbing if we can find it.

Photos for your viewing pleasure:
 Mt. Haystack
 View from the top
 snack time
 I took a few shots to give you and idea of what the trail is like.  This is easy compared to some of the climbing we had to do.
 more climbing
 climbing down
 On top of Mt. Marcy with Mt Haystack in the background
 View of Mirror lake in Lake Placid
 View from our campsite
 Matthew stup... skillfully sawing limbs off a downed tree.  I did not approve of this.
 Another view from our campsite, standing by the edge of the water.  We have swam to the other side and back.  I'm not a particularly strong swimmer so it's been a good exercise for me.
 Matthew in front of the canoe navigating
 Me in the bow, my favorite (really missed my rowing days while we were out there)
 My glamour shot
His glamour shot heh
 Carrying the canoe at a portage.  Did I mention it weighed 60 lbs?

Heading back in the evening

It's been 4.5 months since we started this Expedition.  I don't know when it will end but in the meantime, I am having the time of my life.  I'm fairly young, healthy, in love and traveling the country.  I don't know why or how I got this lucky.  I wake up rested, and if I'm not I sleep longer.  I eat well, as much as I want and whatever I want.  With how active we are I'm not too worried about my weight.  My skin has actually improved with less product use, never would have guessed that.  I stopped using skin care products and over the course of several months I've seen my skin gradually get better.  Without the use of constant harsh products my skin was able to learn how to deal with things on it's own.  It was a tricky transition for me because the first month I got the worse zits of my life... but month after month they lessened.  Now I rarely get any, and if/when I do they are small and insignificant.  Showers are a tricky thing, I haven't 'showered' in weeks.  I don't stink though, currently.  I smelled something vicious after 5 days of backpacking lol but after that we went swimming in the pond or we bath in rushing rivers.  So far no illnesses to report and no major injuries, thankfully.  I don't miss shopping.  It used to be a highlight in my past life.  These days I marvel at the waste.  I'm so much happier and healthier living on less and with less.  I still love pretty things, but they don't hold the value in my mind they once did.  I value them in a different way, without the need to possess.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I've seen fire and I've seen rain, seen sunny days that I thought would never end...

I can't believe it has been almost 3 weeks since I posted!  What's really terrible is my memory so my recollection of events will be spotty.  We spent about 1 week in Hampden, MA with Matthew's parents to pick up some things we ordered and got to see his brother who was visiting around the same time.  I have one photo from that week of the day Matthew and his dad wore the same shirt

From there we headed Northwest to the Adirondacks area.  We spent 2 weeks camping in the Moose River Plains.  We found a great site that was fairly private and near a spring.  It was very nice to have access to clean water we didn't have to worry about treating.  
Here's a shot of our camp set up.  The chairs are one of the exciting items we picked up in Massachusetts.  Previously we sat on the ground, on that orange bucket or on a box.  Our backs were hurting and as we are not getting any younger thought it would be good to get real seats.  These chairs are amazing!  If nothing else I sure am learning to appreciate the little things in life.  We got fishing license and thanks to Eric (Matthews dad) I now have a nice fishing pole to use.  We tried to fish a couple of times with no success.  We got a few nibbles but never any bites.  I also don't know that I have the patience for it, but willing to keep trying.  I ended up falling asleep during one of our fishing endeavors.  There was just this really nice warm rock I was sitting on and it was very inviting.  We didn't do any epic hikes, backpacking or rock climbing.  Mainly just didn't know about anywhere close by to do it.  We attempted to backpack one night near a pond, we started bushwhacking around the pond through moose heaven ie boggy wetness.  We finally aborted the trip when we had to go in chest deep mud to keep going.  It was still very fun and beneficial.  I learned where to step and how to maneuver in that environment to limit how wet my feet got.  That night I tested out my emergency bivy back at camp.  I have this emergency bivy and have no idea if/when I would ever use it.  Matthew challenged me by asking in what conditions I would use it and how well it would work.  I had no idea, so I tried sleeping on the ground, on a foam mat, inside a thin sleeping bag liner with the bivy on top of me.  I could get in the bivy it that ended up not being warm enough but was already warned that I may get sweaty since it is not breathable.  I slept surprisingly well.  It was very warm and even though it was not a particularly cold night I feel confident I could be comfortable in it on a cold night if needed.  

Last week was my birthday, it was such a great day!  Had to go into town the day before so we picked up a blueberry pie (I'm not a huge cake fan) from a pizza place, that we also got a delicious pizza from.  The blueberry pie was made in house and was still warm when we picked it up.  The pizza was filling so we didn't have the blueberry pie until the morning of my birthday.  Here was my birthday breakfast

We ended up doing 2 hikes that day, they were both short, about 2 miles each and at the end of the second hike was a beautiful dam created by a long rock (which is why the trail was called Rock Dam), and it created a pool that we swam in.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I had a blast.  I didn't get a good shot because I had to wade through the water but here's one from land...

Part of my birthday gift was a trip home to see my family (Thanks mom and dad!)  I got lucky and was able to attend Camp Gilly (a yearly gathering of friends), spent time with my niece and saw one of my best friends.  Only have two photos from that weekend, I know someone has a lot more..
 Morning after..
Great sign made by my friends daughter

Once I got back to NY we headed to a different area, we are now near Shelving rock.  We did a hike to Sleeping beauty summit, it was a loop that included two ponds.  One of them we were able to swim in and there was a canoe with one paddle that we took out on the water, it was super fun!!  Yesterday we were able to do some rock climbing, there is a really nice area close to where we are camped.  We will likely stay here for about a week.  I think next we will do some backpacking in the High Peaks wilderness.