Friday, June 30, 2006

Out with Jacquelin and Lyndi

    Got a call from Lyndi and Jacquelin last night who said they were in Toga and wanted to meet me out so I said what the hell and went.  I found them on the 4th floor of the Tavern (the dance floor Work_out_with_jacquelin_63006_005
where I've been repeatedly jumped by obnoxious drunk underage girls) and told them I would meet them on the roof for some drinks.  Ariana was with them with her new boyfriend (forget his name).  She never seems to remember who I am when I see her despite the fact that we made out last summer on my birthday and I've even given her a 30 minute ride home in a blizzard once.... oh well, it was good to hear that she's not stripping anymore....
    We then headed over to Gaffneys for a few drinks where I met up with Mike and his buddies and his friend Alex (girl from previous post that he's very interested in).  After a brief encounter with them (an uncomfortable encounter because young Mike needs to learn to not name names when an unbiased friend passes on priveleged information to him). 
    I then wandered over and found Jen Miller from work who I talked to for a brief while before heading home for the night for my double shift in the morning. 


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Zealand and Middle Tripyramid Finally!

Yesterday I picked up my dad's car around 8am, had breakfast with my mom at Mailey's Diner on Route 149 and headed up to NH to climb a couple more mountains.   My first goal was to Cimg4037
climb Zealand Mtn.      The trail up Zealand was fantastic.  The trail into the notch between Tom and Zealand is a very flat one that follows the Zealand River Trail (pic on left with Zealand above).  There are numerous spots to jump in for a swim.  The last time I was on the trail I was climbing Mt. Hale with Katie Sauer with a broken knee (I didn't know it at the time but I had no
Cimg4049 ACL in my knee).  When I left Lake George in the morning it was cloudy and raining but as I started my hike the sun was out.  It took me little time to make it to the amazing Zealand AMC hut at the beautiful Zealand Falls.  This hut was
fantastic.  It was clearly built right to the flanks of the steep mountain next to the falls.  Guests at the Cimg4062
hut are provided meals, bunks, electricity, showers etc.  Apparently the pricing is very expensive and it sells out quickly.  A short walk from the hut isCimg4061
the falls which is basically a staircase of falling water over smooth rock.  It's a great place to cool yourself off and the views of Crawford Notch are amazing.  When I'm a little older and lazier I'd love to come back to this hut with friends and family because the hike in is incredibly easy - just a light walk - and the views and amenities are great.
    From the hut I continued nearly straight up the side of the mountain gaining elevation fast Cimg4074
until I hit Zealand Ridge.  I loved having my new Garmin GPS with me as it told me my location Cimg4071
and elevation the entire way.  I met a few people at a lookout who said I had a couple more hours before reaching Zealands summit.  40 minutes later I was standing on the wooded summit..... It wasn't much to write home about.  Just a cool carved out sign amongst a stand of spruce trees.  As I stood on the summit I looked up and the sky was quickly turning black so I wasted no time and booked it back towards the AMC hut.  I popped a couple Aleve for my bad knees and headed down the steep trail to the hut, making it there just as the Cimg4076
rain began.  On the hike out on the easy trail along the river it poured hard for about 20 minutes leaving me drenched but it was warm and when I got back to the car the sun had come out again.  The hike turned out to be 11.09 miles according to my GPS.  I started at 12:36pm, reached the summit at 3:08pm and was back to my car at 5:18pm averaging 2.8 mph while I was moving.  Love that GPS... :)
    I drove into North Conway and found a place called the Colonial Motel to stay for the night... Ironically when I went to pick up the Chinese I ordered down the street I found two hotels, each 10 dollars cheaper... oh well.  On my way down route 302 I came across Silver Cascade FallsCimg4083
which I hadn't noticed before and grabbed a quick pick.  I picked up some booze and watched the Red Sox beat the Mets for the sweep of the series.  I love my Red Sox!  12 straight wins at that point, which they've only done 3 times in the history of the franchise.  And it was their 16th straight game without an error which ties the MLB record since record keeping began in 1960.  Coco Crisp the star of the game had a great diving catch which prevented the tying run.   Schilling, my boy, got the win and Papelbon of course got the save.  According to the announcers it was the best game of the season, and according to Terry Francona he's never seen a play as great as the one Coco made... what a statement from a man that's been in the game for so long!  Anyway... it was a great end to a great day hiking.
    I woke up today at 5:30am and headed down the Kangamangus highway in NH towards the Tripyramid range.  I have climbed this mountain twice before and have turned around at the summit both times.  The first time was in college when I climbed it with my friend Lindsay who was exhausted when we got the summit of North Tripyramid so we turned around.  The 2nd time was when I climbed it alone in the spring of 2004 and had to turn around because it was late in the day and the trail was competely unbroken (2 feet of snow) and it didn't "feel" safe to me.  So, accordingly with the name this was my 3rd attempt at Middle Tripyramid. 
    The trail into the base of the mountain was easy as usual but from there on it was literally one of the steepest trails I've ever climbed.  I was panting and out of breath by the time I reached the summit ridge of the range.  At one point my GPS actually couldn't find a sattellite because I was hidden underneath the huge mountains on a steep slope.   As I was approaching the summit of North Tripyramid with my headphones on as usual I suddenly looked up and saw a dog in my face barking!  People were camping at the summit (illegal above 4,000 ft but I didn't say anything).  I told them the updated weather report from the morning and headed off down the ridge.  It was 8am at this point and I needed to reach Middle Tripyramid and get back to North by 9am for my descent.  I briskly ran the ridge as fast as I could to Middle Tripyramid.  While on the summit taking pictures I could see South Tripyramid in the distance.  The summitCimg4093
as you can see from the picture on the right is wooded.  This mountain is not on my list of peaks to bag because it is too close to Middle to be designated a completely seperate peak but it is still over 4,000 ft.... so for peace of mind I decided to run over the ridge further to reach it's summit also.  This meant that I went over North, Middle, to South then back over Middle to North (technically climbing 5 mountains that morning).  I got back to the first - North Tripyramid at 9:02am... :).  I said hi to the campers again and hauled ass down the mountain to my dad's car which I arrived at around 10:15 for a total hike time 3hrs 45 minutes for 10.12 miles.  Not bad and at a much faster pace than Zealand the day before.
    The rest of my day involved an 80mph drive home to make it to work for a very exhausting Friday night shift at Wheatfields by 3pm.  I had 5 minutes to change at my apartment and make it to work.  Talk about cutting it close!  What a great two days of hiking!.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New GPSMap 60CSx

You would think that I would have gotten one of these 10 years ago BEFORE hiking all the mountains I Ptgpsmap60csxrflg
have... but I didn't.  I made it through the woods for over 180 mountains now without one so now I'm going to spoil myself with one for my future mountains.  This one has a new chipset for picking up satellites indoors even - yes it actually does!  It can also pinpoint points of interest while driving such as chinese restaurants, parks, lakes, etc and can navigate you turn by turn from where you are to them.  It also records altitude and has a barometer.  It's accurate anywhere in the world to 10 feet and is pretty much the shit.  I'll never get lost again! :)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

My Calf's Pen Adventure on Lake George

I'm going to label this entry under the "hiking" category because it certainly turned out to be more of a hike than I had expected. 
    I had been planning to head up to Lake George down Shelving Rock Road to Log Bay and then hike along the shore to Calf's Pen with Emily after work.  Calf's Pen is a popular local cliff
Cimg4019 jumping spot on Lake George.  I'm not even sure how it was formed, but it is basically a crack in a cliff face on the side of the lake that is nearly 200 feet deep straight down.  It is about 30 feet
wide and you have to jump over brush and branches (see pic of drunk guy about to jump from upper level.. look at what he has to jump over) when jumping from the highest levels.  It is a staircase of jumping options leading up from lake level to about 55 feet.  There is also a tree at the top that can be climbed and jumped from which is about 70+ feet.  I did that years ago and it ripped the hair out of my legs when I hit so I decided not to this time. 
    At work I asked if Kate and Keturah wanted to join us and after some persuading they agreed and
Cimg4017drove up with Emily and I at around 6pm from Saratoga.  We made it to Log Bay down the trail from the parking lot at around 7pm and I thought we would only have a short 15 minute walk along the shore but it was a lot longer than I had remembered and turned out to be about 45 minutes of walking with the girls in flip flops who weren't happy about it...(see map on right).   I should have remembered to tell them to wear sneakers for the walk.  At one point Emily almost slid into the lake!!!  I felt really bad but we finally made it to the cliffs and after the sweaty walk we were all ready to jump in.
    After some coaxing I was able to get the girls to jump from about 25 feet off the lower levels
into the very refreshing lake (60 degrees I'm guessing).  A bunch of drunk guys from NYC on

vacation in a boat showed up to jump with us and were nice enough to give us a ride back to log bay.  I swam our towels, cell phones and my camera over to the boat above my head so they wouldn't get wet for the girls.  We had a windy cold ride back as the sun set over the mountains to Log Bay. 
    We thanked the guys a bunch for the lift down the lake and I exclaimed, "wow, that worked out perfectly", to which Keturah then responded, "Jon, where is my green bag?".... SHIT!... I simply said, "girls, keys are in emily's bag, wait for me in the truck" and as I started running I yelled, "this is what I do..".
    I was wearing my kayaking sandals and was in a full run down the eastern shore of lake george in the remnants of daylight knowing that I had to make it to the cliffs and back before I wasn't able to see anything.  The sun had set and I didn't have any form of light with me so time was running out.  I made it back to the cliffs in about 15 minutes and frantically searched for her green bag.  I finally found something in the dark that looked like a rock with buttons and thankfully it turned out to be her camoflage colored green bag.  I crunched it up in my hands and began to run.  At this point it became nearly impossibly hard to find the trail in front of me and I was purposefully lifting my legs and feet high in the air while running so as not to trip on the hidden roots and rocks.  Suddenly I slipped and found myself sliding down a rock face towards the lake but was able to grab a root and arrest myself.  I could feel that my leg had fallen on something sharp and my shin was bashed but I had no time to look at it.  While on our way to the cliffs earlier we had come across a large crack in the shore about 25 feet deep and about 6 or 7 feet across that we had to walk around.  Well, on the way back running in the dark I could barely make it out in front of me.  The sun was well gone by now and there was no moonlight yet because the moon was behind the mountains over my right shoulder still so the ground quickly became invisible in front of me.  I barely noticed the pitch black hole in front of me before reaching it was able to lunge over the crevasse in the earth to the other side barely making it.  Yes, I was nervous without light, proper footware, being alone, and running down a trail I was unfamiliar with but damn it felt like something out of an action movie... haha.  That's when a wire across the trail caught me by the throat and body slammed me into the earth... that one hurt a bit.  We had crossed under it earlier in the light and I had forgotten about it. 
    10 minutes later at a slightly slower pace because nothing was visible now I found myself back at Log Bay and began to follow what I believed was the road back to the truck... wrong... I ended up going up a river towards Buck Mountain... I stopped, realized I had to backtrack, fell down a ravine into the river, gave up and decided to just wade down the river to Log Bay where I finally met the bridge that I was supposed to be at and the trail back to the truck.  The phone rang and it was Kate.  She said that her, Emily and Keturah had just made it back to the truck after having gotten lost trying to make it back up from Log Bay.  They had apparently taken the only wrong turn possible from the lake and had to back track a little bit.  They were in flip flops and were moving at a slower pace so it took them a little time to find the truck.  I told them I was a little lost and couldn't see a thing but would be with them soon.  The cell phone came in handy the rest of the way as a light in front of me so I could atleast see an open path in front of me through the dark shadows of the trees which I knew was the trail.  The girls kept my truck lights on so I could find my way back to the truck which helped. 
    So, I wasn't planning on a trail running adventure in the dark but I got one and I was able to retrieve Keturah's bag, car keys, and cell phone as well.  My leg has a chunk out of it now and my calves look like a cat attacked them with all the scratches.  I think the girls must think I'm crazy but I know they were grateful that I was back ok.  The whole sprint back to Calf's Pen, searching for her bag, and then back to the truck took me about 40-45 minutes and I was back at the truck and driving out at 10:15 in the pitch black of night in the mountains.  We saw a few deer on the way out as well as an owl that almost hit my windshield.  I told the girls that I was running I could hear large animals such as deer running out of my way but I couldn't see them of course in the darkness. 
    On the way in to the cliffs earlier Kate had mentioned that it would be an "adventure".  She was certainly right.  Next time we will go with sneakers and earlier and with a headlamp for saftey.  I'm still a bit sore today from the run but am glad that I have another crazy story to tell.. hahaha.  And take a look at the sunset we saw from the cliffs of beautiful Lake George!

    After we got back to where Keturah had left her car at Exti 20, Kate Emily and I headed back to Saratoga.  Kate stayed in for the night but Emily and I ended up going out for drinks with Mike until 3am and then back to her place until the sun came up.  I slept in until 11:30 today and still feel like I need more sleep after yesterday's adventure..


Alex, Mike & Gamble

    After work tonight I called Emily who said she was taking it easy with her roomate Cassie at their place so I got a hold of Mike and went out with him and his friend Alex (cute brunette in picture) for a few drinks downtown.  When he first told me he was coming over to my place with his friend Alex I didn't feel bad about the 6 pack of Smirnoff Ice "wild grape" that I was drinking but then when he shows up with a cute brunette I felt like an idiot.  haha. 

    We ended up going out to Desperate Annies for a drinks and then Gaffneys.  It was busy but not as bad as it was last weekend after the Dave Matthews Concert.  Each of us bought rounds for everyone and Alex introduced me to her friend Gamble (right side of pic) who ironically works with Gary Zack (my landlord) across the street from me blowing glass.  At first he was an apprentice but now he works there full time. Cimg4007 I bought us all a round of Irish Car Bombs at Gaffneys and after a few more drinks Gamble and I wondered back to my place for some left over pizza from work.  He had worked on our apartment when Zack first converted it over and he said he liked what I did with the place.  He's a cool kid and I'll have to hang out with him again.  Apparently Mike and Alex stayed out even later and ended up getting bombed... haha.  Good times, good times.  Work at 11am was a little rough at first and Karen informed me I had bad booze breath... haha. 


Friday, June 23, 2006

Reel Meals with Emily


Last night I thought it would be a fun idea if Emily and I checked out "Reel Meals" on Congress Street in Saratoga.  It's basically a "dinner and a movie" business.  We went at 7:45 to catch Mission Impossible 3.  I'd seen it before but it was between that and watching an hour and half of people drown in "Poseiden".  There was only one other person in the entire theatre with us.  We had a 6 person both table directly in the center of the room with a great view of the screen.  I was starving so I orderd an appetizer of motz stix and chicken fingers for us.  We didn't need it because when our chicken parm and shrimp rosa entree's came out they were friggin' enormous!  The waitress walked away saying something about us having leftovers... haha.. not me.. I finished off the entire dish and the left overs from the appetizer... probably embarassing myself in front of Emily.  haha. 
    It was really great food there and it was something different then just going to a regular movie.  Emily had never been to such a thing before and I think enjoyed it even though we were practically the only ones there that evening.  After the movie we headed back to my place to hang out with Rick, Josh, and Jess for a bit. 


Monday, June 19, 2006

Late Father's Day with Dad

Today I went over to my parents place to hang out with my dad for a late father's day.  I was not sure what to get him because he pretty much has everything he cares about.  Then it came to me... what makes an old man really happy... his stomach!  So I stopped at Price Chopper on my way over and picked up smoked salmon, about 50 steamers, stuffed mushrooms and a piece of watermellon and bag of soft black licorice for him.  I then cooked up a london broil on the grill for my parents and the seafood for my dad and I which he loved.  I hung out there watching tv with my parents until I noticed my dad doze off so I took off around 10pm.  I think he really enjoyed the food I brought which made me happy because I always feel like birthdays for my parents are hit or miss with me...


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wakeboarding & BBQ Dinner with Jonny & Kinger


When I got out of work today I got back to my apartment ready for a boring night because Emily was at the Dave Concert at SPAC with her roomate Cassie.  Then, at 5:45 I got a suprise call from Brian King and Jonny asking if I'd like to be the 3rd man for wakeboarding on Lake George.  I immediately jumped in my truck and drove 85mph up to the lake to head out with them.  We had a case of beer and took Jonny's relative's (aunts?) boat out for a sesh.  The boat we took was ridiculously big for towing a rider.  It slept four and had a kitchen... to give you an idea of it's size.  At first we couldn't find a hook to tie the rope to but Kinger, with his knowledge of boats, found two in the back that we used.  Jonny was our driver and could not board because he had been sucker punched a week ago and fell onto the large speakers he was carrying when hit... cracking several of his ribs and tearing up cartilage... so for now he's out of commission for wakebaording.
    Kinger landed a sweet dock start from a dock on Long Island (same island my drunk friends 6_17_2006_6_06_pm_0001j
drove their speed boat onto 5 years ago while towing my buddy Jeremy Russo).  I had my video camera with me and got some great footage while6_17_2006_6_12_pm_0005
Kinger tore it up on his wakeskate (wakeboard without bindings, like a skateboard but bigger).  Kinger had a great fall at the end of his sesh.  He bombed into the wake and killed it flying off the wakeskate and doing a full backflip misty before hittin' 6_17_2006_6_27_pm_0010
the water again (check out the pic... pretty crazy).  I jumped in the water next with the board on and had a great first of the year sesh (pic on left - white shorts).  I wasn't able to do too much because the rope was  tied in such a way to the back of the boat that it would catch itself and then release quickly in a snapping manor thereby jerking the rope and me into the water but it was great to get out on a board and the lake nonetheless. 
    On the way back I suggested the three of us grab a bite to eat so, upon Kinger's suggestion, we drove up to the old "Lemon Peel" (bar that we always drank at year round because they weren't strict on ID's and had cheap beer, pool and darts) which is now a BBQ restaurant with a deck.  We all ordered ribs which turned out to be the best ribs I've ever had. When we picked up the rack the meat just fell of the bones... amazing.  It was nice to hang out with those guys again.  I don't see them much during the winter and hope that I can get out on the lake with them a few more times before I head to OSU.
    After dinner I took off for Saratoga and ended up going out with Mike and his two friends Mike... yeah, three mikes, from St. Rose.  We ended up on the 5th floor of the Tavern which I don't go to often and is pretty chill.  As soon as the Dave Matthews concert got out Caroline Street became a mad house of people and Gaffneys was so packed I had to walk on table tops across the "garden" back patio area to get to where Emily was watching a band and waiting for me.  Both of us were exhausted and I had to work at 9am the next morning so I stayed until about 3am so that Emily could walk home with her roomate Cassie. 


Friday, June 16, 2006

Biking with Chris from Elevate Cycles


This morning I showed up downstairs waiting for Mark to show up to go riding with but instead Chris pulled in with his F150 geared up to ride with me.  I called Mark and he sounded pissed that Chris had shown up and he hadn't... haha.  We went back to the SMBA Trails as I did with Mark on Tuesday but this time we did the same loop a hell of a lot faster and I was winded as hell afterwards. I was so tired trying to keep up with Chris that I wasn't able to make it over the same technical terrain I did with Mark.  It was great to have finally ridden with both of them from the shop this week.  Hopefully we can continue to ride in the mornings all summer.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Da Vinci Code with Mom

    Today I went to visit my parents and take my mom out to see the Da Vinci Code for a late birthday present.  I drove to my parents at 4pm so I could moe the lawn for them.  15 minutes after I started it began to pour rain.  I ended up finishing the lawn nearly two hours later covered in mud!  I also pushed the mower through the largest patch of poison Ivy I've ever seen!  I hope I don't itch tomorow. 
    After dinner my mom and I drove to the mall for the movie and I made a mad dash to CVS for my usual sweedish fish only to find the store not there anymore!  As I walked by the jewlers I saw my ex-girlfriend Kim who got married a year ago and last fall had a baby boy.  She had cut her hair short and looked beautiful.  I haven't talked to her since last fall and need to stop by to say hi before I head out to Oregon for my PHD.  Out of the two long term relationships I've had I feel the one I had with her was the most valuable by far.  It just wasn't the right time for us and I'm so happy for her and her new child and family now. 
    The Da Vinci Code was pretty good.  My mom and I have both read the book and agreed that the movie followed it pretty closely.  I thought Tom Hanks was a good choice for the main character but I guess the movie in general has gotten poor reviews. 


Trip to Sleepy Hollow

Adrian_1Visited Adrian last night in Sleepy Hollow.  We went out to a few bars and grabbed some drinks.  The first bar we went to had obnoxiously loud techno music blarring and a really drunk bartender
who very obviously used to be a stripper.  We headed to a more relaxed bar down the road until about 2am when we went back to his parents place for the night to crash.  It was good to seem him again and he apparently is doing well for himself making nearly 400 a night when he bartends (usually only one night a week ... lucky bastard).   He's a good guy and I hope to stay in touch with him.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Biking with Mark from Elevate Cycles


Finally got to Ride with Mark from downstairs on the SMBA trails behind Skidmore this morning.  I think he was suprised at my ability.  I certainly don't have the technical skills he does but I was able to make it over a lot of the terrain that he did.  We did a cool loop that ended on the "shoots and ladders" trail I like that has large rock formations that the trail follows and a drop at the end.  When we got to the drop Mark said he didn't want to tackle it with his cross country bike but I just pointed it and dropped it in a classic "dead sailor" position almost crashing when I touched down... haha.  It was a great ride and I look forward to riding with him in the mornings before he has to go to work all summer long.  Hopefully by the end of the summer I'll be able to follow him over anything that is back there.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Golf with Emily

Yesterday I went golfing at the Queensbury golf course with Emily.  I met Emily over a month ago and we have been seeing a lot of each other and enjoy each other's company.  She's a lot of fun to hang out with and she is new to the area so it will be fun to play tour guide with her all summer :).  Anyway.. back to golf... I suck at it.. and I warned her.  We got to the golf course at around 6pm Cimg3939
and were Teeing off (is that even what it's called?) shortly after for 9 holes of golf.  I immediately wacked my ball into a swampy area...  When I went down and swung at the damn white baine of my existance I heard a loud CRAAAACK and quickly looked up to see where my ball had flown to.  Wow.. I must have really plugged it because I couldn't even see where it had flown to.  I was so proud of myself until I looked down and saw a 6 inch deep hole blasted into the ground with my ball deep at the bottom of it!  Shit.... oh well.  I freed the ball from the muck and played on. 
    I soon became aware that I was good at hitting with the 'woods'.  I could drive the ball very far but oddly I had to face at a 90 degree angle from where the flag was because the darn things hooked so badly.  All in all Emily was far better at her short game and the irons and wedges than I was but I was able to barely keep up with her because I could drive the ball a long ways down the green.  Neither ofCimg3940
us played at the top of our game and by the time we had reached the 9th hole the sun was quickly setting and we could barely see.  We had only lost 4 balls which I thought was amazing because last time I played with my ENSR buddies 3 years ago I had lost about 20 myself!  Emily and I were lacking one essential item though... beer... next time we'll have a twelve pack to help us along. 
    After golf we had a delicious meal at the Ripe Tomato restuarant at the corner of Bay Road and 149.  My buddy Aaron Freidman manages there and my other friend Kate works behind the bar.  He gave us a couple free drinks and chatted with us a bit.  He's a great guy.  The golf was fun and the food was terrific.  Great night!


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Americade 2006

This year Ryan Burns brought his girlfriend's little brother James up to L.G.  I met them out last night in the village around 10:15pm and we headed to Christies for drinks.  James was having a blast at Americade despite the weather.  Ryans friend Seth also returned this year with Ryan.  I called up all the people I could (all the girls I could) for James.... Jen and Keturah from work showed up, Lindy and Jacquelin were there and Kerri showed up with her new boyfriend as well.  We had a great timeCimg3933
and James got pretty drunk that night but Ryan of course looked after him.  The boys took off around 2am and I followed shortly after.  While we were catching up over drinks we had a laugh about all the bikers who get so drunk that they dump their bikes in the street when they try to ride home... haha.  When I was walking back to my truck I saw exactly what they were talking about.. Check out the pic.  It was great to see them again and I hope they get the time to make another trip up here this summer. 


Thursday, June 8, 2006

Visiting Ethan and Beers with my undergrad prof Ed Laine

    After my long hike up Katahdin on Tuesday I drove down to Portland, ME to visit my buddy Ethan.  I haven't seen him in nearly two years so it was really good to visit.  He called and told me that he and his roomate Colin (also a Bowdoin Grad) were planning to see "The Omen" that night on 6-6-06... (666) so I was definitely down and hit the gas to 90mph down I-95 so I could make it to the theatre in Portland for the 7:15 show.  The three of us showed up at around 7pm but found the show to be sold out so we decided to watch X-Men 3 instead which was fantastic.  At the end of the movie Colin realized that the 10pm Omen showing was in the same theatre so we just stayed in our seats and watched the double feature... haha.  "The Omen" turned out to be a really great film and was scary as hell (I think any movie where a child is evil is pretty freaky). 
    After the movie we headed back to Ethan's place and I crashed for the night on the floor of his room on a cushion.  It was nice to catch up with him about each other's lives.  He was a great roomate at college and remains a great friend.  He told me that my other roomate Ned had recently made the news when he fell into a volcanic vent on Mt. Shasta in California so I'll have to email him about that.... (the same kid who almost died in an avalanche on Mt. Washington our Junior Year. 
    In the morning I woke up early and gave my old Professor Ed Laine a call to see if he wanted to do lunch.  Luckily he was there and was delighted to hear from me.  Ed is pretty much my inspiration for going back to Graduate school for my PhD.  I would like to essentially have the life he has in the future as a college professor, skier, and all around good guy.  We had a great lunch at the Sea Dog Brewery in Brunswick, ME.  It was great to be able to go there again and have their delicious microbrews.  He gave me a lot of great advice and he seemed genuinely happy about my choice to attend OSU in the fall.  I definitely plan on keeping in touch with Ed while I'm at OSU.  His background was in Oceanography as well and I'm sure he really wants to see me succeed. 
    So, in the 3 days that I was in Maine I finished the mountains I needed, visited old friends, and was able take my favorite professor and mentor from Bowdoin out for Lunch.  Everything worked out great! :)


Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Baxter State Park


For the past month and a half now it seems there has been nothing but rain in the Northeast (except for the beautiful weather over Memorial Day Weekend) and I've had a hard time finding good weather to hike in.  Wheatfields was scheduled to close this week for a few days for renovations to the kitchen so I decided to look up the weather for Baxter State Park in Maine and saw that there was a good window for weather on Monday afternoon and Tuesday to head up there and get the last of my Maine peaks including the high point of the state - Mt. Katahdin.  I checked the weather all weekend before and decided to stay over at my parents on Sunday night before heading north.
    I got an early start on Monday morning around 5am because, according to Mapquest, it was going to take 9 hours to get to the gatehouse of the park.  I ended up driving the same route I used to take to get to Bowdoin while in college there, through northern Vermont and New Hampshire to the Maine coast.  It rained the entire drive and when I got to the Maine coast heading towards Bangor I entered a sea of fog and low lying clouds that I thought were going to screw me over.  After filling my dads Ford Taurus up for the 2nd time I finally arrived at the southern gatehouse of the park at around 1:45.  I showed up with $11.50 and it was a $12 per car fee to enter the park but the nice old man at the gate said it was cool and not to worry.  He did looked concerned at the fact that I was arriving at 2pm and was planning to climb over two high summits in the park on a 10 mile hike before dark.  I assured him that I knew what I was doing, showed him my maps, my 46er patch, and told him I have climbed all over the world.  He replied, "well, looks like you definitely know what you're doing then" with a smile. 
    Not only was it still very foggy and drizzly but when I pulled into the gatehouse I noticed something I had hoped that I could have avoided.... swarms of black flies.  The people in front of me were out of their cars wearing nets over their heads and desperately swatting the buggers off their arms and legs... I had stopped at L.L. Bean on the way through Freeport, Me and picked up some DEET repellent but then noticed in my mountaineering book that it said it would have very little effect on biting flies like Maine black flies... whoops.  Regardless I decided to continue on to the trailhead without a protective net and see what would happen which became another 40 minute drive. 
    When I got to the Marston/Slide Dam trailhead I parked and decided to get fully dressed inside the car before exiting into the black flies.  I put on my boots, my gaitors, packed my bag, filled my camelbak with gatorade I picked up at the store, and plugged my headphones into my ipod in my pocket.  I then grabbed my hiking poles popped out of the car into flies and ran about 15 feet into the woods where I had to quickly sign into the register.  From then on I only stopped for about 3 minutes the entire rest of the day.  I found that the flies were smart enough to know where hikers go but to lazy to try to keep up with them, or atleast keep up with my fast pace.  After about 45 minutes of hiking the sun suddenly appeared and almost instantaneously evaporated all of the fog and clouds.  By the time I had climbed up the steep flanks of North Brother to the ridge the sky was Cimg3652
completely clear of clouds - I was happily amazed.  On the other hand the trails were literally streams of running water off the mountain that I had to slosh through and they appeared very eroded as well (see pic).  I ended up at the bare summit of North Brother at 4:30, just two hours after I had left the car, 5 miles later and 3,200 feet higher.  I then climbed back down North Brother to the notch and quickly ran up South Brother by 5:15.  By this point I was thoroughly exhuasted after the
Cimg3644 9.5 hour drive to the trailhead and the hike so I decided not to do the loop over
Mt. Coe and simply returned back down the steep trail I had climbed up to the car which proved to be very wearing on my knees.  After a very fast drive out down the dirt tote road of the park I made it into the town of Millinocket by 8pm and got a room at the local Econo Lodge.   I had a  large dinner of  chowder,  pork ribs, and chicken parmesian over pasta at a local diner before returning back to my room.  I was dead asleep by 10:45pm.
    My alarm woke me up on Tuesday at 6am to "baby got back" playing.. haha.  I ate a quick continental "shitty" breakfast at the hotel then booked it to the gatehouse so I would be able to get a parking spot at the very popular Roaring Brook campground to climb Katahdin.  Once again I found myself getting ready inside of the car before the hike and quickly outrunning the damn flies when I exited.  I headed up the Helen Taylor trail towards the knife edge and Mt. Baxter (the higher of the two summits of Mt. Katahdin).  It was a beautiful day and very warm so I found myself soaked in sweat after only 30 minutes of climbing.  After only 45 minutes of climbing I also found myself already above treeline on the ridge - Because Mt. Katahdin is so far north the treeline ends at about 3,300 feet whereas on Mt. Washington (much bigger mountain) in New Hampshire the treeline is at about 4,500 feet.  This means that visually Mt. Katahdin is a more massive mountain with more difficult terrain.  Once I went above treeline I didn't return to treeline again until about 5 miles later.  There was very little breeze above treeline on the ridge and I found that the black flies were Cimg3691
able to catch up with me easier in the open air so I sprayed down with Deet and kept moving as fast as I could.  The trail quickly became a jumbled of bouldersCimg3690
without even a square foot of flat steeping ground (see picture of trail marked by blue slashes on left).  Everytime I put my boot down it was on an angled edge of a rock... not a good idea to be hiking alone in terrain like this.  I soon caught up to a nice fellow from Deleware who seemed the to be the only other person besides me climbing up this particular route (the harder route).  He had started an hour before me and was taking his time over the precarious terrain.  We snapped a few pics of each other climbing over the knife edge ridge towards Mt. Baxter before I continued on leaving him behind. 
    Let me take a minute and talk about the Knife Edge Ridge (click name for video). this thing was amazing.  As soon as I started climbing over it I felt as if I was back in Colorado climbing.  There were very steep drops on Cimg3712
either side of the ridge and one misplaced step or off balance jump could have resulted in a serious fall.  I've been climbing for years over terrain like this and with the help of my Leki hiking poles I've become an expert at foot placement so it was very easy for me and I felt confident.  There is no way in the world that I would have taken an inexperienced friend with me on this hike because it would not only pose a danger to both of us but I would have had to allow a lot more time.  Mt. BaxterCimg3719
dominated the view and snow was easily seen on the steep flanks of the mountain Cimg3727
draining down into the beautifully blue Chimney Pond below.  I can easily say that the hike over the knife edge to Mt. Baxter was the most beautiful hike I have done East of the Mississippi and it ranks among the top 5 greates climbs I've ever done.  The only negative the entire day was the presence of black flies even above treeline which a strong breeze would have easily taken care of. 
    It felt so good to finally stand on the summit of Mt. Katahdin at 11:30am that day.  This was the starting point/end point (depending on the direction you hike) of the Appalachian Trial while also the high point of Maine at 5,267 feet.  This is nearly a thousand feet smaller than Mt. Washington but itCimg3743
seemed so much more massive and impressive rising out of the land in the middle of maine much like the Ayers rock does in the middle of Australia.  It simply dominates the view.  There were a gathering of people at the summit when I arrived that had climbed up the easier route from their campgrounds at Chimney Pond that morning.  Everyone was very friendly and we all helped each other take pictures.  The aroma in the air was of about 10 different bug spray varieties.. haha.  I waited for a bit until the fellow from Deleware had caught up because I knew he had run out of film.  I took a few pics of him with my camera and gave him my email address so we could connect afterwards.  I quickly ate a turkey sandwich I had picked up that morning at a local store and decided to move on over the flat "table lands" towards Hamlin Peak which was next on my loop hike.  The North side of Cimg3769
Mt. Baxter was an easy slope down the the saddle between the two peaks and then a very gradual ascent to the top of Hamlin Peak.  I seemed to be the only one that day that cared to summit both peaks as everyone else just returned to camp or down the opposite slopes of Mt. Baxter.  Hamlin Peak was well worth the quick climb as it provided spectacular views of Mt. Baxter with Chimney Pond at it's base.  The ridge walk down from Hamlin was very hard on my knees and I was happy when I finallyCimg3788
reached treeline again and the main Chimney Pond Trail that would ultimately lead me out. 
Cimg3790But before heading down the trail I decided to run up the trail a quarter mile
to Chimney Pond Campground to check it out.  I figured that I wouldn't be back here for a very time, if ever, so I wanted to get all the great views that I could and boy was I glad I did it.  From the pond Katahdin looms over head dominating the entire view.  I could easily see the knife edge where I had climbed up earlier that morning.  If it wasn't for the black flies being out I would have definitely wanted to stay at the campground there.
    After the snapping a few pics to fill up my memory card of my camera I headed down the trail for the last easy 3 miles following the river the entire way.  I ran out of water about halfway down which Cimg3804
was fine because I was nearly out of the woods anyway.  I got back to my car at around 2:45pm, 7.5 hours after I had started, and about 13 miles later over extremely rough terrain.  It was a perfect day and I had managed to avoid the black flies fairly well throughout the day.  I am now officially done with all the peaks in Maine that I need to climb.  Hooray!!! No more 6-9 hour drives!!! I headed back into town and jumped into the hot tub of the Econo Lodge for 20 minutes to relax.  My knees were very sore and the skin on the back of my left heel had been completely torn off - about half the size of a dollar bill so I put some moleskin on it.  I then headed out of Millinocket at 4pm headed to Portland to meet up with my old roomate Ethan Bullard for the night.  What a great two days of beautiful weather and beautiful mounta
ins - I really lucked out.


Thursday, June 1, 2006

Martha's Vineyard 2006

Martha's Vineyard 2006 was a blast!!!  This year we had Jael (the host of course), Eric and his girlfriend  Nikki, Ryan and his girlfriend Erin, Leigh and his girlfriend Lindsay, Katie and Nat, and of Marthas_vineyard_06_118
course myself.  We went shopping in the morning on Friday at BJ's near Marlborough, MA and bought wayyyyy too much food!  We ended up with two of the giant BJ's carts full of food that we then loaded into the cars and the back of my truck (See pic).  After grabbing the three kegs of Molson Ice, Sam Adams Summer Ale and Harpoon Pale Ale for the back of the truck we picked up a few sandwiches and headed back to Nat and Katie's place to finish up packing.  We took off around 4pm to make the 7pm Ferry from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard.  We ended up driving down in pouring rain the entire way on 495.  Luckily we had thought to wrap up the food in garbage bags in the back of my truck but my bike got drenched.  We hit construction and crawling traffic most of the way but got there by 6:30.  We had forgot to grab Nat's speaker wire for his speakers so Eric, Nikki, and I made a side trip to a Radio Shack to save the day and suprise Nat who we met up with at the restaurant near the ferry for a few drinks on Nat's tab (what a great guy).  We then loaded our cars onto the ferry.  Nat and Katie ended up on the big ferry but Jael (who drove from Nat's with Erin and Ryan) ended up with us on the small ferry (short bus ferry).  Lindsay and Leigh ended up on our ferry as well.  Eric and I had picked up two six packs of microbrews at a gas station on the way down (road soda's) for the ferry ride to the island and we were crackin' them open the entire way and eating glazed cookies we had picked up at BJ's.  A woman in her late 30's or early 40's knocked on our window and informed us that people on the ferry were inquiring about the kegs in the back of my truck and were wondering if we could tap them and share the wealth.  She even said we could chargeMarthas_vineyard_06_122
about 10 bucks a cup... unfortunately both the cups and the taps were in Nat's car on a ferry about a mile away from us in stormy weather at sea... haha.  The woman had a bottle of vodka which she was sharing with two older men in suites who had to take the ferry across because their plane was grounded due to weather so we gave her an empty diet coke bottle to use... haha.  Great people.
    When we got to the vineyard we pulled into a grocery store parking lot to meet up with Nat and get some ice for the kegs.  While we were sitting there a young cop walked towards us and I quietly handed the "road soda's" back to Nikki in the back and rolled down the window a little freaked out.  He asked, "where's the party?".  I lied and said, "Oaks Bluffs" to which he replied, "cool man, I'm following you guys tonight!" with a big grin on his face.  Island cops - gotta love 'em.  We took off and encountered one more cop on the drive to Jael's cottage but my radar detector let me know and I slowed down to below the speed limit until he turned onto another road... probably just checking out the kegs in the back of the truck... Glad he didn't know about the other 6 handles of booze back there as well.. haha.  We made it to J's camp around 10:00pm. 
    Jael's camp is called Bratta Hlid and was given that name back when her grandparents first started visiting the island in 1925.  Before the trip Kate and Jael had found a guy to design a label for us and stitch it into clothing so we all ordered vests and hoodies and shirts with the logo stitched into it for the weekend.
    What ensued the first night for me was a complete shit show.  I had already downed a 6-pack since the ferry ride and then began slamming down Summer Ale from the keg that Eric had tapped Marthas_vineyard_06_123_artsy
(Eric is a brewmaster from Dragonmeade brewery just outside of Detroit and we had managed to get a CO2 canister hookup from the liqour store to properly and professionally hook up the kegs with the guidance of Eric).  I'm not even sure what happened the first night but it involved a bit of rapping "I got a man", "busta move" and other shinanigans... such as trying to institute the "double 3 clear card" rule in asshole to no avail...   I vaguely remember running out the back door because I couldn't put the children to sleep (I puked). 

    I woke up on Sat and was told that I was a complete mess which made me smile because it meantMarthas_vineyard_06_141 the beginning of a great weekend.  I also woke up with cookies next to my head... apparently I had randomly become the cookie monster on Friday night and had gorged myself on frosted cookies.  It
was a beautiful day on Sat and we didn't see rain again the entire trip until we got off the ferry on Marthas_vineyard_06_131
the way back to Nat's.  Ryan of course became the weekend Chef which we all owe him a big for.  He cooked literally all the meals!  He also provided the laptop which we used in combination with my portable media drive to DJ all weekend with great music.  Saturday was a day of relaxation and I
took a quick drive down to the beach to check out the surfers who
Marthas_vineyard_06_082 were ridingMarthas_vineyard_06_302 pretty big breaks that day.  Sat night after a great dinner of kabobs that Ryan cooked up we went into town to meet up with J's friends at a bar.  We had a few $6.50 drinks.. (yeah, you read it right) and then decided to head back to
the cottage where we had much more booze and continue to drink.  I let Nikki drive my truck that night because I was
too shitfaced to do anything.  When we got back I taught everyone the dangerous card game "Bullshit Pyramid" which got everyone very hammered.
    Sunday was once again a day of relaxation.  I took Nat and Katie down to the beach so they could kayak around the bay that J's cottage overlooks.  I then went back and picked up Leigh and Eric with the girls and returned to the beach.  Nikki and Erin decided they needed to buy a bathing suit so they took off with my truck and promised to be back in 30 mins.... 3 hours later they came back with my truck and told us a story about having to walk 5 miles to a shop because they thought a woman said it was 5 minutes away by foot but really meant by car.. .haha.  While they were gone Leigh took a walk down the beach and Eric and I got to watch Ospreys dive bombing into the water for fish over and over again.  I was so sunburned after about an hour and half that the ocean felt warm to me although it was only about 50 degrees and I was the only fool swimming in it!  Eric and I started t
Marthas_vineyard_06_379ossing the ball around and a young kid with a better arm than both of us joined and made an ass out of Eric and I!  haha.  Finally when the girls returned and Nat and Katie showed up we packed up the Kayaks in the truck and went back to the cottage for a late lunch and chilled there for the rest of the evening.  Nikki, Katie and Lindsay meticulously (took about an hour it seemed)
set up a croquet course on
Marthas_vineyard_06_160the lawn and the lovers all teamed up with
me by myself (being single I felt it appropriate to take the blue ball... haha).  I don't want it rub it in too hard but... I AM THE KING
HERE ME ROAR.  hahahaha... maybe I've found my lame hidden
Marthas_vineyard_06_184 (See pic above).   This night again
turned into a complete shit show for me but
this time there were multiple videos taken of me and I apparently decided that it would be a great idea to eat a blue marker.... maybe I thought it was a cookie..
who knows!?  I must have been drunk by dinner time because I don't even remember ripping apart the grilled chicken that was given to me with my bare hands without a plate. 
    Monday was yet another beautiful day and we all basically just stayed at the Bratta Hlid (the cottage) for the day and hung out.  We spent a lot of that day up on the roof of the cottage which is accessible via a window on the 2nd floor.  Last year I got so drunk up there that I was afraid to climb down... this year I was so drunk that I decided to climb down the chimney instead of go back in threw the window... haha.  Jael had gone into town for a bit to visit some friends and while she was gone a bit of drama unfolded but I chilled us all out with a nice game of pantless football (we had allMarthas_vineyard_06_061
seen enough "brains" and "lobster claws" all weekend but when Leigh had to drop his drawers and revealed that he was going commando that day.. it pretty much took the cake).  Leigh and Lindsay had to leave on monday night because they both had
work in the morning so Jael brought them back to the ferry. We ended up having
Marthas_vineyard_06_063lasagna and veggies for dinner which was fantastic along with watching "40-Year Old Virgin" which someone had brought for the tv (first time it was turned on all weekend).
That night we again played Bullshit Pyramid but Eric was too drunk and passed out early.  This left Jael and Nikki to challenge the master in drinking (now remember I had been a sloppy mess for 3 nights in a row now....).  About an hour into the game Jael was almost passed out face down on the table and no one could remember what cards they had in front of them!  I ended up helping Jael into bed and passing out next to her in my sleeping bag for the night. 
    Tuesday we woke up to find Jael a little hungover and Nikki VERY hungover AND sick.  We decided to head down to town for a bit to walk around and to go to Menemsha for some Lobster andMarthas_vineyard_06_111

steamers... mmm mmmm... if anyone has seen me eat a lobster they can attest to my addiction for the delicious little critters.  When we got back to the cottage the satellite tv guys were they installing the dish network and Ryan was trying to cook up the rest of the sausages and other food for us and the cable guys who of course were hours late...  After a few hours of cleaning we said our sad goodbyes to Jael and headed off to the ferry without any car accidents this year... hahahaha (I had to say it Nat..).  Both Nat's car and mine were on the 7pm ferry across to Woods Hole and we had an uneventful yet Marthas_vineyard_06_113
rainy ride back to Nat and Katies that night.  As you can see from the pictures we had a lot of trash  left over from the weekend.  I ended up taking home about 40 hamburger patties, rolls, OJ, meat and a full keg of Harpoon :).  We ended up watching Anchorman and a bit of Sin City from my Ipod over Nat's tv while Eric, Ryan and Nat dumped the media from my hard drive on to their computers.  After about 3 hours of sleep Katie and I woke up and drove the two couples to Logan Airport at 4am so they could make their 6am flight.  After that I drove home barely awake.
    It was another great year on the Vineyard with perfect weather!  Everyone that goes on the trip are wonderful people and we all owe Jael a lot for allowing us the privelage of spending the holiday weekend at her family getaway.    We all have busy lives and some of us have had a very rough year but for those 5 days of drunken bliss we can forget about everything.  While I was there I literally turned off my phone ( I had no reception anyway.. haha) and just forgot about the rest of the world.Marthas_vineyard_06_304
  I know that I really needed the break from it all and I'm sure everyone else did. Marthas_vineyard_06_321
The pictures below are the view from the porch of
the cottage over the ocean and the other is a view of the cottage from
the bay that Nat and katie took while kayaking. 
It will be hard for me to find time during my graduate work in Oregon next spring to go on the trip but I will try my best to get out there again, even if it means not having my truck.  I had a great time and I met a lot of great people that I hope to stay in contact with.  Miss all you guys already!  Whhhaat!!! Yeeeaaahhh!