Monday, February 19, 2018

Trying to hike the Long Trail - September 2017

The plan was to hike from the far-north terminus of the Long Trail down to Killington, Vermont. Almost three weeks of hiking, with rest/refueling stops at "The Stowehof" hotel in Stowe and at the "Millbrook Inn" near Irasville. We would finish at the "Happy Bear Motel" in Killington.

Start hiking: 26 September
Finish hiking: 11 October

What actually happened is that I bailed out at The Stowehof because my right knee was really swollen and I was going really slow on the downhills. However, I had not been backpacking in years, so it was a valuable and, at times, enjoyable excursion. It reminded me how I like being in the outdoors for extended periods without contact with civilization.

The part that I actually hiked was 67 miles:

26-Sep   Tuesday               Drive to Journey's End, Hike to Laura Woodward Shelter (10 miles, 2500' ascent)
27-Sep   Wednesday         Hike to Hazen's Notch Camp (9.5 miles, 2600' ascent)
28-Sep   Thursday              Hike to Spruce Ledge Camp (14.5 miles, 3600' ascent)
29-Sep   Friday                   Hike to Round Top Shelter (15 miles, 4000' ascent)
30-Sep   Saturday              Hike to Whiteface Shelter (10.5 miles, 3200' ascent)
1-Oct     Sunday                 Hike to Rt 108 Smugglers Notch (7.5 miles, 1000' ascent) with Night in Stowe

Getting There
We drove up on the 25th of September and stayed in Killington at the Happy Bear hotel. I drove up with Dave Green, while Tom Kloster drove by himself.

Nice town in Vermont on the way to Killington

The final miles to the trailhead

Parking at the trailhead
 The hike itself

The first two days were incredibly hot - high 80's and humid. Really unusual for Vermont in September. Then it turned cold and dipped a little below freezing for the last night I was on the trail. I never needed to use my tarp to sleep under because the trail shelters were not occupied by others when we arrived, so we were able to sleep in the shelters every night.

Taking a break at one of the overlooks. It was pretty cold, so we were sitting in the trees instead of out on the overlook. 

Group Shot: Dave, Mike and Tom at one of the overlooks

One of the smaller shelters along the way. The shelters ranged from a simple lean-to like the one in the photo to more elaborate structures with 4 walls and doors. They were all clean and well maintained. 

Having lunch and taking in the view

Phil joins us in Stowe. This is as far as I got. 

 Trail Conditions

Most trails use switchbacks and other methods for reducing the steepness of the inclines. This helps the hikers and makes the trail less vulnerable to erosion. Not the Long Trail - it just follows a straight line up and over whatever is there. It is never really possible to express steepness in a photo, but imagine the following three photos as being vertigo-inducing, straight-up or straight-down and a little slippery. I held onto trees and branches most of the way down the hills, using one hiking pole and having one free hand. I think that the steepness and the size of the steps that I needed to take is what really drove my knees into a tizzy.

It can be pretty muddy, too

What to bring
Mostly for my own reference if I ever do this again. It was going to be warm for the first few days, so I just have shorts and tights. I was going to bring my pants for the second and third legs. I should have documented the food, because I spent more time packing food than I did packing gear. Not shown: One pair of socks and my hiking shoes.

Sleeping bag, tarp, bivy bag and sleeping pad

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway by bicycle - June 2017

The plan for this trip was to ride bicycles from Front Royal, Virginia down past Asheville, North Carolina in eight days. The route followed Skyline Drive down to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stayed in campgrounds, Airbnb houses and a few hotels.

The dates and places were:

6/23Front RoyalBig Meadows51
6/24Big MeadowsReeds Gap67.7
6/25Reeds GapPeaks of Otter71.9
6/26Peaks of OtterTuggle Gap79.7
6/27Tuggle GapLaurel Springs82.7
6/28Laurel SpringsLittle Switzerland86
6/29Little SwitzerlandPisgah Inn74.6
6/30Pisgah InnEnd60.4

There was a total of 12 people on the ride:

1 Phil Ayliff 7 Dick Loudis
2 Cindy Ayliff 8 Terre Simpson
3 Bart Rhoades 9 Saul Pilchen
4 Mike Evanoff 10 Barbara Ahrens
5 Jessica Tinianow 11 Laura Clauser
6 Jon Broome 12 Claude Cavender

Phil organized the whole tour and, when I say organized, I mean full-on CPA organization.

The following photos are in no particular order. I stole most of them from other people.

Iceland - September 13-20 2017

We went to Iceland again! We were there in 2000 and decided to go back this year. Sherry was on a bike trip in France and booked on Iceland Air to come home. Since Iceland Air lets you layover in Iceland for as long as you want, Mike hopped on a plane to join up.

Lots and lots of photos in this album and this album. If you want to skip the text and just browse the photos, these are the best places to look.

Day 1 - Mike arrived at 6am and Sherry was not due until midnight. Lots of driving back and forth to the airport and the Airbnb. We stayed a little north east of Reykjavik where the red marker is shown. A little suburban enclave of tranquility and infinite hot water.

Day 2 took us on the "Golden Circle". The traditional stars of the circle are: ├×ingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir which we saw. However, our favorite spot was probably Fludir because of the mushroom farm and the "Secret Lagoon" hot spring.

Day 3 - we drove down towards Vic and the black sand beaches that are there. We took our sweet time, and arrived not too much before dark.

We stayed in some modern-ish shotgun prefab suites near the beach.

Day 4 we did not drive very far, and just stayed in the black sand beach area. We woke up early to get down to the beach before the tourist buses arrived.

Day 5 - we woke up early today, too, to get to the closed off beach before anyone else arrived. We hopped the fence and went down by the ocean to experience the surf right near the cliffs. Here is our early morning route.

After our beach hopping, we drove out to Hofn.

Day 6 was a driving day. From Hofn all the way back to Keflavik

Day 7 we were housebound by heavy winds and lots of rain. The flight was scheduled to leave around 2pm and the airport was a short drive away. We had a really nice Airbnb so we just lounged around, read books and drank waaay too much coffee.