Friday, December 21, 2007

A Green Christmas

I found a great website that I wanted to share today. For anyone celebrating the season this year, enjoy a green Christmas with the help of . You will find green holiday tips as well as how to treecycle.
Read the blog entry by Nyree Ambarchian on 20 Tips for a Sustainable Christmas here:

Remember, the Earth belongs to no one, but is shared by all, please Tread Lightly!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Year's Resolution

I believe in recycling as much as possible. Yesterday as I gathered my bags of bottles and cans, I noticed that I had more than my share of empty water bottles. It didn't take long for me to make a connection between the empty bottles and the rarely used Brita water pitcher in my refrigerator. How many times have I read of the companies admitting to using tap water to fill these bottles? How can an otherwise frugal person throw away almost $2 on something that is already in my frig?
While I sometimes fill my polycarbonate bottle with water and bring to work, I haven't been using it as much lately as I use to. Aside from just being lazy, growing concern over the plastic leaching into the water has surfaced everywhere on the web.
So I decided, right then and there, that my public New Year's resolution would be to NOT buy bottled water in 2008.
Because of the concern over polycarbonate, I ordered a stainless steel water bottle today online. I will fill that everyday for use at work, home, or on the trail.
Aside from saving a lot of money, the landfills will see less of my footprint in 2008 and beyond.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Although the weather was uncertain today, I ventured out with my partners in crime, Tool and Law and Order. The weather was not that bad, a little on the cold side, but at least the rain held out. Because there was no plan, I didn't have my hiking boots, my pack, or my lucky hat (perfect setting for a disaster).

We poked around for a while on Iona Island. First we walked the road down to the eagle sanctuary, but of course, it was closed. Then we searched high and low for trouble but couldn't find any (I couldn't even get Law & Order to press her head onto the train track to feel if a train was coming). On the way back, we couldn't resist climbing a rock structure, but all we found was a lot of leaves and moss (my arch-enemy!).

Right before getting back into the car, I heard the sound of running water. As my faithful sidekicks stayed in the car (they're not crazy), I followed the sound. Low and behold, at the side of 9W, next to the Bear Mountain access road, was a small waterfall. Luring my friends back out of the car (thankfully it didn't take much because I didn't have my pack, hence no turkey jerky to use as bait), we followed the trail next to the falls and found Doodletown.

For those who are unfamiliar with Doodletown, it is the ruin of a once standing town. It was the last piece of land acquired by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission as it formed Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park. One by one, the Commission offered the families dwelling on the land fair market value for their homes if they agreed to sell and move. In 1965, the town's 200 year existence ceased as the final property was purchased.

Because of the time, we did not venture far. We followed the blue-blazed trail to the right which brought us to an inclined path leading past the foundations of former homes. Through the trees we spied a larger waterfall and headed back down the path out to 9W and crossed the brook. We hiked up a trail on the left side of the brook this time, up to a colorfully painted "Peace" rock. Here we paused for a picture opportunity (Well, I didn't, unprepared with no camera. Also, unlike everyone else in America, I do not own a camera phone). After, we turned around and headed home.

What we didn't know is that if we had continued along the original path (blue-blazed trail), we would have hiked to the old Doodletown Mines, crossed the 1777 Trail and passed the Edison Mine (yep, owned by Thomas A. Edison and used for his experimental magnetic ore separation technique).

Oh, well, it will keep for another day. Next time, I will be prepared and take some pictures.

Hiking Blogs

I'd like to thank Jaime at Hiking Blogs for adding this blog to the site.
Hiking Blogs keeps track of fellow hikers, backpackers and trail runners both in the United State and around the world.
Please visit at:

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dear Santa

For those who celebrate the upcoming holidays, it is sometimes hard to think of a meaningful gift for the die hard hikers on your list. This season, give the gift that will last for a year:

  • These guys are looking out for the trees we hike under, a year membership says you love someone and the trees that keep them safe on the trails.

  • Education is the key in the balance between enjoying the outdoors and protecting the land. A $25 gift membership will help get the word out at

  • "Leave No Trace" are words to live by while hiking the trails. Help spread the word with a gift membership starting at $15 at

  • Bring America together by helping to create an urban trail linking Maine to Florida with a membership to

Winter Hiking

Okay, you caught me, that picture wasn't taken in the Northeast! Actually, that's from my trip to Alaska. But I couldn't resist, the first snowfall today reminded me of that vacation.

Before we left I was sure to watch the weather for the area. All reports were a firm 70 degrees, so onward I went. I did not take into account the temperature difference between land and sea, almost 30 degrees! Those who know me, remember that I packed shorts! My credit card company laughed all the way to the bank after I charged a winter wardrobe and rain parka (who knew it rained so much there! okay, yes, we were scheduled to visit the rain forest, but still...). Live and learn as always.

So, as I stayed indoors today watching the snow fall, I began to think of preparing for winter hiking (after Alaska I have learned to prepare for everything!). Here are some simple tips and reminders for when you go out this season:

  • Lower your expectations of the hike by 1/2. If you normally hike 6 miles in the summer, expect to only cover 3 miles during the winter.
  • Double your time expectations. That trail in the summer may be "a walk in the park" for an hour, but expect it to take up to 2 hours during the snow season.
  • Dress in layers, but not cotton! Make sure your outer layer is wind/waterproof.
  • Insulated boots with a waterproof exterior are a must.
  • In order to keep your feet warm, keep your head covered. How many times have we heard that? Well, it's true.
  • Pack extra gloves and liners for when your first pair gets wet. Also, for long hikes, chemical heat packs last hours.
  • A "just in case", even for short hikes, is extra socks zip locked in your pack.
  • To keep a water bottle from freezing in your pack, tuck it into a wool sock.
  • Bring along a thermos of any hot beverage for when you need a quick warm up.
  • Consider snacking while you hike versus stopping to eat lunch.
  • Add a flavor pack to your water, it will take longer to freeze than just water.
  • Careful where you sit! A frozen ground will suck the warmth right out of you.
  • Crampons will help you maneuver over snow and ice. Most can be found for about $20.
  • Dig out your walking sticks! Aside from helping you keep balance, they can also be used to test ground in front of you when walking.
  • Adjust your layers as you're hiking. Take off a layer as you get hot. Too much moisture will make you cold as it evaporates. But, if you stop for a rest, make sure you re-apply the layer before you cool off too much.
  • Carry a pack. Take it from me, it's better to let the pack take the impact of a fall than your butt or back!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Old Goat's Appalachian Trail Adventure

Here's a video from Old Goat of his Appalachian Trail adventure, I found it on YouTube. Anyone interested in reading more from Old Goat himself can find it here:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hiking Etiquette

I stumbled upon a great article by Hiking Dude on his website about hiking etiquette that I wanted to share!

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone using the trail would follow these basic rules?

Thanks Hiking Dude, great article!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bear Mountain

In 1908, New York announced plans to relocate Sing Sing Prison to Bear Mountain. The state actually began work on the building after purchasing 740 acres of land in 1909. Enter Mary Averell Harriman (widow of Union Pacific president, E.H. Harriman). Mary proposed to the then Governor of New York, Charles Evans Hughes, that she would donate 10,000 acres of land and $1 million for the creation of a new state park, but only if the plans for the prison were abandoned. George W. Perkins, head of the newly formed Palisades Interstate Park Commission, raised another $1.5 million, thanks to dozens of wealthy contributors including John D. Rockefeller and J. Pierpont Morgan. The state accepted, and on October 29, 1910, New York was presented with the deed to the land and a check.

In 1912, Major William A. Welch was hired as the Chief Engineer. By 1913, Major Welch (later to be recognized as the father of the state park and the national park movement) began the construction of the road that would link Bear Mountain to Sloatsburg, known today as Seven Lakes Drive. Major Welch also served as the Chief Engineer/General Manager of the newly formed park from 1910 to 1940.

The park opened on July 5, 1913 bringing 22,000 visitors by steamboats alone that year. By 1914, an estimated 1 million people a year were visiting the park. Winter sports were added in 1928, in fact, by 1960, more ski jump competitions were held at Bear Mountain than any other area in the United States. Unfortunately, the ski jumps have been closed since the 1970's.

The first section of the Appalachian Trail, from Bear Mountain to the Delaware Water Gap, opened on October 7, 1923. The portion of the trail that passes through the Bear Mountain Zoo is the lowest point in the 2,170 mile hiking trail. Major Welch also served as the first chairman of the Appalachian Trail Conference. He is credited with designing the "A over T" marker that became the symbol of the Appalachian Trail.

On to our hike!

Beginning at the Bear Mountain Inn (will it ever reopen?), head west to reach the red-dot-on-white-blazed Major Welch Trail. The trail follows the shore of the Hessian Lake, offering a nice view of the lake. At the north end of the trail, bear left to ascend the northern slope of the mountain. The path inclines sharply and the rocky path becomes increasingly difficult as you climb. The footpath climbs a vertical distance of about 500 feet in roughly a quarter of a mile.

After climbing for what seems to be an eternity, the trail levels off to it's first panoramic view. Brooks Lake can be seen directly ahead with Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony's Nose behind it to your right. Take a break, drink some water, eat some turkey jerky and take a lot of pictures.

Although you might feel like you are at the top of the world, you are not and it's time to continue onward! Leaving the false summit, continue to climb the steep ascent until you arrive at the stone wall and Perkins Drive.

Nope, not there yet! Turn left and follow the road, then turn right continuing on the trail through the mountain laurel. Once at the true top, the trail levels off to a gravel road leading through more laurels where it joins a paved road. From here, it is only a short walk to Perkins Memorial Tower (named after the first president of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission). Bring quarters to refill on fluids from the vending machines!

Continue past the tower to a scenic view. From here head back to the tower, but bear right at a large boulder. You will see a plaque honoring Joseph Bartha as Trails Chairman of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. To the left we pick up the Appalachian Trail, marked by a white vertical rectangle.

Bear right and descend the mountain passing an old water pipline resting on a rock embankment. After only a short distance, the trail crosses Scenic Drive. Continuing to descend, we cross Scenic Drive again.

About a half mile from the mountain summit, the trail will cross Scenic Drive for the third time. Here, it turns right and follows the road. At the dead end turnaround, bear to the right and follow the trail to the left as it leaves the road (the pavement is marked with "I-HR"). Pass through a pine grove, then the trail begins to descend more steeply (note: due to extensive use, this section of the trail is heavly eroded and poorly marked. The AT is under a massive relocation of this section, but not expected to be completed until about 2011).

Follow the Appalachian Trail for about another mile until it joins the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. Both trails cross a stream and turn sharply right. Continue to follow the road, crossing behind the skating rink (to the right) and an abandoned ski jump (to the left), descending to reach the junction behind the Bear Mountain Inn where our adventure began.

Whew! Climbing 1,305 feet and back sure does wear a person out! But almost 10 miles and 3 hours and we're feeling great!

For directions to the park and more information:

or call (845) 786-2701

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Freedom Trail- Boston City Tour Part 2

Whew! I feel much better! Now onward we go!

Heading north on Congress Street, continue until the buildings open and you arrive at Faneuil Hall. Here, Faneuil Hall hosted America's first Town Meeting. Built by Peter Faneuil in 1741, this building is often referred to as "the home of free speech" and "the Cradle of Liberty". It was within these walls where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent against British royalty. Also, Boston's first marketplace, a tradition that carries on to this day. Between May and October there are ongoing street performers daily, please stop and support.

I promised you chowda right? Follow the red trail around Faneuil Hall to Union Street. You needn't walk far until you arrive at America's oldest restaurant, Union Oyster House, established in 1826. It will be the best clam chowder you have ever tasted. Oh, yeah, ask for a toothpick while you are there. It was here that they were first used in the United States (can't let the trivia buffs down!). For a thirstier bunch, visit the Green Dragon Tavern right next door.

At the end of Union Street, turn right onto Hanover Street. Don't loose the red trail, it gets a little tricky here. Turn right onto Richmond Street, then left onto North Street. At 19 North Street we arrive at Paul Revere's House. Built around 1680, it is the oldest remaining structure in Boston and the only home on the Freedom Trail.

On the road again! Continuing to follow the trail, it's back to Hanover Street, cross through the Paul Revere Mall to reach the Old North Church. One of the most visited sites in Boston, it is also the city's oldest church. On April 18, 1775, Robert Newman climbed the steeple and hung two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

Hiking north to Hull Street, be sure to stop by Copp's Hill Burying Ground. Here you will find the final resting place of Cotton and Increase Mather of the Salem witch trial fame and the lantern man, Robert Newman.

From here we cross the Charlestown Bridge, built in 1899. Once over the bridge, turn right and follow Constitution Road. Follow the signs to the Bunker Hill Pavilion. This is a privately owned show about the first battle of the Revolution, fought here in 1775. The visitor's center shares the building with the Charlestown Navy Yard. The Navy Yard was decommissioned in 1974 and is now maintained by the National Park Service (tax dollars well spent for a change!). Here you will see "Old Ironsides", the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Officially known as the USS Constitution, she received her nickname during the war of 1812.

From the USS Constitution, you can certainly see our final destination, the Bunker Hill Monument. Follow the red trail up Chestnut Street, then past Winthrop Square, finally connecting to Weslley High Street. "Don't fire until you see the white of their eyes!", an order believed to have been given by Colonel William Prescott during the famous battle fought on this site on June 17, 1775.

This historical hike can be taken self guided, with a costumed guide, or with an audio guide. While I enjoy, sometimes crave, the feeling of a dirt path, nothing compares to the feeling of walking the same path as my forefathers did, my journey was theirs. I encourage everyone reading this blog to walk the Freedom Trail just once, or like me several times (it never gets old), words in a book will never compare to standing in the same spot that these great Americans did. Their cries of freedom ring as true today as it did so long ago.

For more information, please visit:

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Freedom Trail- Boston City Tour Part 1

Not all hiking is done on dirt, city hiking can be rewarding as well as educational. Boston's Freedom Trail can be just as challenging to the body as any National Park.

For newcomers to Boston, this walk is well marked by colored lines painted onto the streets and sidewalks, but you'll want to stop by any visitor center for a more detailed map.

Beginning in the heart of Boston, on Tremont Street, the Boston Common is America's oldest park. These 44 acres were once used as a common pasture for grazing cattle owned by the townspeople of Boston. Reverend Martin Luther King spoke here, Pope John Paul II said mass here, and Gloria Steinem advanced the feminist revolution on these grounds. After a walk across the Commons to Beacon Street, you will find the world famous "Cheers" bar. Stop in for some pictures, or just to say hi to Sam.

Continuing east on Beacon will bring to to the next stop, the State House. Completed on January 11th, 1798, this building was designed by Charles Bulfinch. It's gold dome, once made of wood, was later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. And for all you trivia buffs, the land was originally used as John Hancock's cow pasture!

At the end of Beacon, turn right, onto Park Street. At the corner of Park and Tremont, you will find Park Street Church. This church was built in 1809 and boasts a 217 ft steeple. It is here that Samuel Francis Smith first sung "America" (My Country 'Tis of Thee) on July 4th, 1831.

Following Tremont Street north, you will come to the Granary Burying Ground. Buried here are: John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, James Otis, all five of the Boston Massacre victims, Benjamin Franklin's parents, Peter Faneuil and believe it or not, Mother Goose.

Just north of the Granary Burying Ground, on the corner of Tremont and School Streets, we find King's Chapel and Burying Ground. Built in 1688, it was a tiny church. So small, that by 1749, it's congregation outgrew the structure and a new one was built around it, to avoid disrupting the services. Paul Revere crafted the church's 2,347 pound bell in 1816.

Following the trail on School Street, you will pass the Benjamin Franklin statue and Boston Latin School. America's first public school, the Boston Latin School offered instructions to boys free of charge (girls remained privately schooled. The doors finally opened to the ladies in 1972). Benjamin Franklin was the most famous student tutored within.

At the end of School Street turn right onto Washington Street, southbound, for a detour to the Old South Meeting House. When 5000 angry colonists gathered here on December 16, 1773, they declared "no tax on tea!" and they started a revolution. Built in 1729 as a Puritan house of worship, it was the largest building in colonial Boston. More trivia: Benjamin Franklin was baptized here.

Turn right, heading now north on Washington Street to the corner of Washington and State Streets. Here, at the Old State House, you will find a simple building, with a simple balcony. It was from that humble balcony, in 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston. Look around on the sidewalk, here you will find a marker for the Site of the Boston Massacre. It was on this spot on March 5, 1770, that the skirmish between a few "red coats" and a group of Boston citizens left five Bostonians dead.

Halfway through our hike and I'm beginning to tire. Tomorrow, we'll relax and grab some chowder before continuing on our hike into the past.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sterling Forest State Park

Sterling Forest State Park is comprised of over 20,000 acres in New York and New Jersey. Home to 18.2 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the park hosts over 10 blazed trails.

My favorite, so far, is the Sterling Lake loop. This trail circles the lake itself and provides an almost continual panoramic view of the lake for most of its 4.2 miles.

Beginning at the visitor's center, catch the blue blaze trail heading westward, passing the foundation of the old church. The path leads into the wooded area and grassy field before crossing a footbridge near remains of the Sterling Furnace (just a side trip to the left, it was built in the 1700's, restored in the 1950's). The wooded trail ends at West Sterling Lake Road, turn right and follow the road, passing the remnants of the former ironworks on the left. The road briefly follows the lake shore offering some beautiful photo opportunities (watch out for snakes!). The trail bears right and enters a junction with the red triangle-blazed Tower Connector and the orange-blazed Rock Trail (careful here, stick to the blue blaze), then follows closely to the lake shore for less than half a mile. The trail passes a former boat launch ramp, then climbs over a rise, the descent leads to a sandy beach with a broad view of the lake.

The trail turns sharply to the right (very sharply, I didn't turn and followed the Sterling Valley Trail for more than a mile) and heads south, with the lake on the right. It then turns left onto a footpath and descends to cross Old Forge Road. It crosses a wetland (take camera out now), then continues along a dirt road.

The trail then turns off of Old Forge Road and continues along a footpath back to the visitor's center.

The trail is well maintained and my hike crossed the path of rangers several times. The trail is a year-round hike, but since hunting is permitted during season, wear your orange hat and vest while late year hiking.

Sterling Forest State Park is easy to find. Take Route 287 to exit 15A (route 17). Route 17N to Sterling Mine Road. Exit right and go over highway and continue on Sterling Mine Road. Make right onto Long Meadow Road then left on Sterling Lake Road, follow signs to Visitor's Center. For more information: Sterling Forest State Park, 116 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo, NY 10987. (845) 351-5907.

Be sure to stop in at the visitor's center and check out their displays. Photocopied trail maps are also available as well as restrooms (!).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What's in your pack?

Day hiking can be very relaxing and enjoyable as long as you're prepared, and a little prep goes a long way on the trail. There are ten essential items that you must have in your pack before you go:

  1. compass/map/trail guide
  2. flashlight
  3. extra food
  4. extra clothing
  5. water/filter/bottles
  6. matches
  7. whistle
  8. first aid kit
  9. knife
  10. sunscreen/ bug repellent

Every hiker must have a compass/map/trail guide, and know how to use the compass. A cell phone is also an option, but use it as a backup, remote areas might not have service.

A simple hand held flashlight is all you need. Use fresh batteries and bring extra.

Extra food can be as simple as energy bars. Depending on the trail difficulty, you might be burning more calories than anticipated. Jerky and trail mixes are also good snacks for a day hike. I like to add bagels or rolls.

Extra clothing isn't half your wardrobe; socks, pants, raincoat will do for a short outing.

Most hikers bring bottled water, but what about filter tablets and extra bottles? If you lose the trail or become dehydrated, it's better to have a backup plan.

Waterproof matches, good for fire. Pretty primal. If you want to go modern, add a fire starter to the list, most can be found for under $5.

Whistles are good for signaling if lost or finding someone who is lost. Warning: if hiking mountaintops or winter hiking, choose a plastic whistle. Lips and freezing metal do not mix.

A first aid kit doesn't need to be fancy. Bandages, cleansing towelettes, pain relievers and alcohol pads should do it. I add a bandanna as well. You can find a basic kit now for about $5 all ready to go.

Nothing beats a Swiss Army knife, nothing! There are some pieces that I have never used nor am I sure what they would be used for...but oh so cool.

You can't keep all the bugs away with repellent, after all, you are a guest in their home, but you can keep them from pushing you off of the mountain. And the whole reason you're hiking is to be outdoors in the sun. I'm a light packer, so I use Repel Sun & Bug. It has a 15 SPF and a 20% DEET mix, best of both worlds.

That's the essentials, it's up to you to add the rest. My personal list is a bit longer, to me, a camera is a must. Adding to the list is easy based on what kind of hiking you are doing. Unfamiliar territory might warrant a portable GPS. Trekking uneven terrain, you might find the use of poles necessary. Try to think worse case scenario and pack your bag. Remember, you have to carry it, so leave the kitchen sink at home.

Moss Glen Falls

The most photogenic waterfall in Vermont lies 3 miles north of Granville on route 100. This 30 ft fall, fed by the Deer Hollow Brook, can be seen from the road. The viewing area is less than .1 mile from the parking area and an easy walk over a bridge is rewarded with a view of a second fall, the Little Moss Glen Falls. Not much of a hike, but it is sure worth the trip. A sign at the site warns of the deaths that have occurred at the falls, so care is to be taken; a reminder that Mother Nature should always be taken seriously.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The "Kanc"

A drive along the Kancamagus Highway is a must if ever you find yourself in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire.

A 34.5 mile stretch from the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln to the Saco River in Conway, it is some of the best scenery that New England offers. Officially completed in 1959, the Kanc was named after Kancamagus or "the Fearless One", who ruled as the third and final sagamon of the Panacook Confederacy of American Tribes.

The highway follows the Swift River and offers many overlooks and short hikes. Scenic areas are well marked and maintained by the White Mountain Forest Service. A parking pass is required, but honesty boxes are available at the parking areas with permits to display on your dashboard.

Half day hikes include Sawyer Pond and Greeley Pond accessible through the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. But the Rocky Gorge might sidetrack you for a while. Pretty amazing what a river can do over time. Sabbaday Falls can be viewed by following the Sabbaday Brook Trail. Lilly Pond is another camera moment and is right off the road.

If you're pressed for time, take a fresh air break at the Lower Falls near the Covered Bridge Campground. Relax or play on the rocks near the shoreline or in the middle of the Swift River. Be sure to stop by the Albany covered bridge while you're there. Spanning the Swift River, this bridge is a 'picture perfect' New England photo opportunity.

What's red and black with stripes all over?

....the snake I almost stepped on while hiking in Sterling Forest! The snake has yet to be identified, but I like to refer to him as Gus. He was too fast for a picture, but I have included a snapshot of the frog who was more than happy to pose (that or he was scared of my big foot!).
After the snake, came the mossy rock on Buttermilk Falls.
So, the lession here is not only to be in the moment at ALL moments, but also, know what the heck your feet are doing!


Welcome to the Northeast Hiking Blog! I've been sidelined from hiking for a while, thanks to moss and a rock, so my first few postings will be a recap of this year's adventures.

I haven't trekked as much as I would have liked to this year, but I am gearing up for an Appalachian Trail adventure in the spring! I'll need a new camera and new hiking boots, so expect some ramblings on which is the best to buy for that.

Also, in the next few months, I will be taking some day hikes, so I will post on those as well as upload some pics from them.