Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hiking Colvin and Blake

In the week leading up to her birthday my sister started eyeballing the weather forecast and plotting a potential hike to celebrate her big day. As the day approached, the forecast promised 0% chance of rain, so we finalized our plans.

The day started at 3:15am when my eyelids popped open and I found myself wide awake a full 20 minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I stayed in bed resting until 4 minutes remained and then I slipped out, turned off the alarm and zipped through my morning prep. 20 minutes later I was out the door and driving to meet my sister at the park-n-ride. A quick transfer of gear from my car to hers and we were off. 4:19am and driving east.

I decided to try using the memo app on my phone to record our times on the hike. This was a first for me, so I didn't think to make note of when we started hiking again after taking breaks, etc. Maybe next time I'll take more notes, because it's kind of neat to see the details in black and white.

We made insanely good time on the drive up (a.k.a. someone drives like a bat out of hell) and walked away from the car at 7:37am. This was my first hike from the St. Huberts trailhead at the Ausable Club. I'd heard all about the golf course weirdness and the monotony of the Lake Road, and was pretty stoked to see it all for myself. In some ways though, the thing I found the most odd about the golf course is that it was completely empty when we walked through it both in the morning and the evening. The courses at home are occupied at all hours of the day.

The Ausable Club was as swanky as expected.

We snapped some quick pictures and signed the register 15 minutes after leaving the car. I had to take a picture of the famed gate, even though the lighting was not ideal.

The Lake Road had more of an incline than I anticipated, and was wider and more well-groomed than I thought it would be. I didn't get to see the bus in action, but we were passed on the way out by a pickup truck that buried us in a cloud of dust so thick we had to cover our mouths and noses with bandanas and wipe grit from our eyes long after it was gone.

After 40 minutes on the Lake Road we turned onto the Gill Brook Trail.

Before getting down to business, we paused to take pictures of the lovely brook and so I could get out my hiking poles (I'd secured them to my pack for the first leg of the hike, as they were unnecessary up until that point).

We reached the summit of Mt. Colvin at 12:15pm. It was occupied by two older couples, both of which had passed us earlier on the trail (we like to take our time, if that isn't obvious by now). We chatted a bit more, they snapped a picture of us and then they departed, leaving us to enjoy the summit by ourselves. We took more pictures, ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and rested for a good 45 minutes before heading down into the col.

Down, down, down in to the col. And then STRAIGHT back up Blake. I had loved every bit of the hike up Colvin, but love was not in my vocabulary for long after leaving the summit and heading for Blake. The trail is super steep and rugged. I prefer a more moderate approach. Regardless, up Blake we went, reaching the summit at 2:30pm.

We took more photos, although the summit is rather unremarkable. There is no benchmark and not much in the way of signage. The views are limited and the summit was crowded with several other parties. We enjoyed chocolate bars and a brief rest before turning back towards Colvin.

We summited Colvin for the second time at 4:20pm, where we took a few final pictures and prepared for the long hike out. We barreled down the mountain as fast as our weary legs would take us, reaching the Lake Road around 6:30pm. Before leaving the Gill Brook Trail behind us, we stopped to splash icy water on our faces and put away the hiking poles. I know people complain about the Lake Road at the end of a long day of hiking, but I was nothing but thrilled to see the level terrain. I was even more thrilled to see the gate, the register, the car, and even (or most especially) the port-a-potty. In fact, I think it's safe to say that was the first time I was EVER happy to see a port-a-potty.

All in all, we were on the trail for just under 12 hours and covered somewhere in the neighborhood of 14.5 miles.

We scored some celebratory sherbet coolers from Stewart's before starting our return trip. The drive home was nowhere near as smooth or as quick as the drive up. It was after 1am before we pulled into our respective driveways, desperate for showers and beds.

Mt. Colvin, elevation: 4057, order of height: 39, order of ascension: 18
Blake Peak, elevation: 3960, order of height: 43, order of ascension: 19

The only new gear I used for this adventure were my trekking poles: Black Diamond Women's Trail

Monday, June 23, 2014

Another 11 Questions

Oh, look! Another meme. Because why not.

1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Let the dogs out. I'm still eternally grateful to have a little section a the yard fenced in now. It makes life so much easier to just be able to open the door and usher them out. No getting dressed, putting on a coat, standing in the rain or freezing my nose off.

2. What do you eat for breakfast? A green smoothie.

3. What’s your go-to weeknight meal? Whatever my husband cooks! If he's not home then I usually just eat pita chips and hummus or buttered toast.

4. Do you do any kind of journaling or memory keeping? I write in a plain spiral bound notebook. When life is good I write less, when I'm stressed or depressed I write more. Also, this blog, obvs.

5. How do you fix your coffee, or do you prefer tea (or neither)? No coffee for me. I love how it smells but not how it tastes. I prefer English breakfast tea with a splash of milk and a hint of sugar.

6. What’s the last good book you read? Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I still have a book hangover from it and haven't been able to start another one yet. So good.

7. If you had a day all to yourself with no schedule, how would you spend it? Drinking tea, hiking, reading.

8. What are three things on your life list? Hike the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. Travel to Italy. Travel to France.

9. When you really need to relax or de-stress, where do you go and what do you do? To the woods to hike, if possible. If not, then I watch mind-numbing TV.

10. What’s on your nightstand? I answered this one in the last meme. Once again: a lamp, box of tissues, alarm clock. Plus, at night: my cell phone, eye glasses, and Fitbit.

11. What’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep? Let the dogs out. Do you sense a pattern here?

As seen on Lisa's YarnsWalking With Nora, and Stephany Writes. Feel free to join in on the fun!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hiking Blue Mountain

Both my husband and I had previously climbed Blue Mountain on multiple occasions, with our first ascents on family hikes as kids. I last climbed the mountain in June of 1997 with a college class on environmental interpretation. Although there are interpretive stops along the trail, we didn't think to grab a brochure at the start (and discovered there were none on the way out).

The trail is 4.6 miles round trip and is extremely popular. As such, the trail is worn and suffers from this heavy travel. Many parts of the trail are wet and eroded. To avoid the mud and water, hikers walk on the edges of the trail, which damages the vegetation and continually widens the trail. There are also many spots where new side trails are being carved by the many footsteps of people who are afraid of a little dirt. This is an issue I feel quite strongly about, and one that takes so little effort on the part of hikers. For more information on common trail etiquette please check out this opinion piece in The Adirondack Almanack.

It always seems to rain when we go camping, and this trip was no exception. Although we didn't have to deal with precipitation on the hike, we were still thoroughly socked in with clouds. The summit offers amazing panoramic views, including the High Peaks, but unfortunately all we could see was white.

We did see lovely flowers, lush moss, and a single red eft on the trail. It was a great hike, although one that I enjoyed much more than my husband. I'm afraid that it may be the last time he willingly climbs a mountain with me.

You can read about the campground we stayed at on this trip here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Camping: Lake Durant

On Friday morning we drove north to the Blue Mountain Lake area of the Central Adirondacks to spend the weekend at a new-to-us state campground, Lake Durant. It is a relatively small campground (61 total sites) on a man-made lake. The sites are private and treed, and the lake has a very natural appearance. There is fishing if that is your cup of tea (it's not mine) and hiking opportunities right from the campgrounds, as the Northville-Placid Trails runs right through it.

The hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake is charming, as is the nearby town of Long Lake. We like to drive around  to explore the area when we're camping, and since neither of us were familiar with Indian Lake we made sure to check it out. While it offered lots of amenities like restaurants and even a (super tiny) movie theater, India Lake lacked the appeal and character of  many of the other small communities we prefer.

Even though the weather forecast had not called for rain on Saturday, we saw plenty of the stuff both Friday and Saturday. We were definitely glad for the protection the camper provided from the elements on this trip. Even with the rain, we had a great time. We hiked, we went to the Adirondack Museum, we even managed some meals cooked over the fire.

View from our campsite

Dam in Indian Lake

My husband fishing, near the boat launch on Lake Durant

Everything tastes better cooked over an open flame. Especially with speedie sauce.

Up next: Rock Lake, Blue Mt, and the Adirondack Museum.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


This past weekend was for...

... more live music and friends at the Tiki Bar.

... a much longer than intended walk on a newly opened trail. I didn't want to miss out on seeing any of it, so I ended up walking 2.5 hours non-stop. Much of it was in full sun and I hadn't thought to bring water (oops). Well, I thought about it, but I hate carrying anything while I walk, and I usually only wear a backpack when mountain climbing. I may need to come up with another option because I was desperately thirsty by the time I got back to my car.

... checking off the last item (sweeping and mopping the camper floors) from the clean-the-camper list in anticipation of our upcoming long weekend in the mountains. I can't wait. There will be hiking and campfires and s'mores and homemade wine.

... a visit with my sister and nephew the day after their family returned from France. Both she and my brother-in-law are wonderful photographers and I can't get enough of their pictures. I wonder how many thousands they took between the two of them on this trip...

... finishing The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers and starting Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (which I already LOVE).

... admiring the peonies in full bloom in my yard. These ones are not a variety with fabulous scent, so some day I hope to acquire other varieties that invite burying my nose deep in the petals.

You can just glimpse the lake through the shrubbery on the right side of the picture.

On the final leg of its journey from France.

One of my most favorite flower varieties.

Linking up with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

What I hear

Birds chirping in the predawn light.

The whirring of the fan in the window. (The best sleep aide ever.)

Dog claws clacking on the kitchen floor.

The water heating up in my husband's Keurig.

The ding of the timer letting me know my tea has steeped long enough.

The thwack of tennis balls (and corresponding grunts) from Roland Garros on TV.

The squeak and squeal of the elliptical as it spins beneath me.

The aggravatingly loud dark blue mini-van in desperate need of an exhaust system upgrade (as it has been for YEARS) rounding the curve and approaching the stop sign in front of our house.

The bubble sound notifying me that I have a text from my husband.

As seen on the miss-Elaine-ous life.

Monday, June 02, 2014


This weekend was for...

... walking around the lake at the local nature center.

... mowing the lawn and weeding part of the front garden (I weeded! And it did not kill me!)

... hanging out with friends at the Tiki Bar.

... going for a short spin around the island on my husband's business partner's boat.

... cleaning and restocking our camper in anticipation of our upcoming camping trip. For Christmas we were gifted a super thick and hopefully awesome mattress pad to top the painfully thin and inadequate standard issue camper mattress. High hopes for better sleeping.

... walking a trail in a nearby golf community which runs past several small ponds, through some swampy areas, and near the river. The number of mosquitoes and deer flies has increased significantly since my last walk there. It was enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the experience.

... reading The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers, one of my many birthday books. I also read the first 3 chapters of a YA fantasy novel, Eliza of Edge, written by a former classmate of mine and being published online. Check it out if the genre appeals to you!

Linking up with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.