Friday, July 31, 2009
My daughter made the above 'lil hooter. Isn't he adorable? She is visiting from Washington State! I've not seen her in what feels like forever, so we're catching up. She's been on the East coast for a couple weeks, but only this week made her way down to visit with us. She'll be here (we'll in and out visiting friends nearby in Philly) until mid-August.
Anyway, she made the above card for a friend for her birthday. She saw the owl cards I made and the Deer Friend card and wanted to make something similar. I really like the way she used non-traditional colors to color in the owl. Anyway, he's so cute, I thought you all would enjoy it too!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I've been so busy this week! My how time flies. I still have a few days of pictures to document from my tip, but for now, I thought I'd share a card I created for another swap! It is nature focused, which is good! We didn't see ANY deer on our hike...but we did see lots of Moose tracks...and Moose doo!
Anyway, isn't this little deer so cute! I just love this image from The Greeting Farm.
Adding the spots for the baby was easy with my Copic Sketch marker blender. I have to say that I should never have waited so long before using those markers! They really make coloring easy and fun.
Hope everyone is enjoying their week. We're approaching August, which means that we're in the last month of summer! Summertime just flies by more quickly as the years go by. I think we've been blessed for the most part this summer here in Delaware, because it has been hot, but not horribly unbearable as it has in previous years. This has been one of my more mild summers yet.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend! I'll be around, savoring as much of it as I can.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Day 3 was by far the most difficult hiking I have yet accomplished. We only hiked about 5 total miles that day (from Speck Pond to the next shelter, Full Goose), but it took the entire day.
The Mahoosuc Notch is a one mile stretch on the AT that is a boulder pit. It's considered the most difficult mile on the AT.
I think I agree, because it is nothing but extremely large boulders and deep holes.
Getting to it is no picnic either...independent of whether you are traveling North on the AT or going South (which is what we were doing). The Notch is in a bowl, and from either direction, you must first travel down to it. The travel downward is steep, rugged, and rocky....and in our case, wet.
We woke on day three to soft rain. And Dave and I stayed in our tent until the rain finished. We were snug and dry inside our tent [the only thing that was the slightest bit damp was my sleeping bag towards the bottom]. The tent fly was wet and wasn't going to dry before we left, so we packed the wet tent up and headed towards the shelter to make breakfast.
As we started our hike, the day was looking pretty clear. This next shot is a view of the pond from the other side.
Before we headed into the Notch, we had a little climb up to a nice vista.
And here's a look at our trail going up!
Into the clouds:
View of the mountains and valleys below.
And then we headed down! The next series of pictures is our journey towards the notch. It's just a nice little sample of the difficult terrain. The trail - slick slabs of rock...We had to use the trees in order to get down or we would have slipped and fallen (or had to slide on our arse to get down!)
I look pretty weary in the shot...and honestly, I was pretty tired at that point. My stepping down legs were still sore from the day before and this terrain only added to the ache!
Welcome to the Mahoosuc Notch. Heading sound, this next picture is the entry way -- you know when you come to it, because there is nothing but large boulders in your way.
This next few pictures are from the Notch. In one, you can see that I was under a boulder and just in front of me, a person heading North on the trail!
We ran into a few through hikers heading north on the AT. One set of young boys were singing up a storm. I forget what they were singing...but I was smiling, because it was LOUD and SAUCEY. They both looked like they were having the time of their life...and they probably were. Sometimes I wished I had taken time out in my early 20's to do something adventureous like this. When I was in my engineering classes, I would sometimes dream of hiking the AT. No regrets...I now get to do it in portions!
I must admit that traversing the Notch was fun...for a little while. After about 1/2 mile in, I was ready for it to be over.
And it was starting to really cloud up. The last thing I wanted to do was get stuck down there, slipping across wet rocks.
This next picture is looking up from the bottom. It looked very similar to some of the rock climbing areas we've been to...in particular The Gunks. But with the Gunks, you have MUCH easier access.
This next picture is the trail post when you enter the Notch heading North. Ahhhh...we were done...with that part.
Now, heading back up...across Fulling Mill Mountain (south peak) and to Full Goose Shelter.
I haven't mentioned yet, but there were some really pretty flowers along the way...
This first picture looks like dogwood, but it was a flower that bloomed among groundcover.
Atop the balds were these flowers that looked like sticks with whispy bits of cotton.
This is the view from the south peak of Fulling Mill Mountain:
In this shot, you can see a ski mountain and resort off in the distance.
Oh, no. Clouds....
We made it to the shelter just before it started raining. The area was similar to Speck Pond, with a shelter, privy, and platforms for tents. Because our tent was so wet from the previous nights rain, we decided to camp in the shelter. Earl and John hiked together through the Notch and were already in the shelter, setup for the evening. We took a couple spots next to John. We flopped down and rested, then prepared dinner.
People started trickling in about an hour after we arrived. And the rain started coming down even harder. Everyone wanted to stay in the shelter...and I didn't blame them. It's NO FUN setting up camp in the rain.
We were a full house that night. There were several people that chose to setup tents, because it was so crowded, but we kept making room for as many as we could.
Most people were heading south, as we were, and boy did they look weary. There was a couple of older men [they were characters!] that were section hiking Maine, and they were heading North.
I love meeting people hiking on the trail. Most people have really fun stories to share. Most are fun loving characters. Of course, there's a weirdo thrown in once or twice, but I can't really think of more than one occassion where that occurred.
I fell asleep before the sun went down! Occassionally people would appear at my feet, because they were making dinner or something and wanted relief from the rain. It hardly phased me!
What a day.
It's almost August, but we are still celebrating graduations. Dave had a couple family members with children graduating that he wanted me to make cards for...so this is another card I created while waiting for power yesterday!
The graduate is from Hanna Stamps and the sentiment is from Unity! I was practicing my COPICS again on the graduate. I think I like 'em! (COPIC sketch markers, that is)
Now, back to the AT Trip.....
I have several upcoming birthdays in September, so I'm planning early (for once).
I did this card for a swap, but also made several more so that I'd have a few when I needed them.
I created these while I was waiting for our power to come back on yesterday. We had a terrible storm on Friday night and didn't have power from 8 pm until well past 2 pm on Saturday! I guess my week vacation in Maine hiking helped prepare me for 24 MORE hours without power.
We were all walking around our house on Friday night looking like coal miners with our head lamps blazing! It's was pretty hysterical.
I also took the opportunity to read, which is something I don't take pleasure in very often...usually only when traveling!
Friday, July 24, 2009
It rained ever so slightly overnight while we were in the tent, but it stopped by the time we were up and about.
Above is the picture of John and Dave trying to get some water to boil using the solid fuel.
We decided after this breakfast that we didn't really like solid fuel too much! It takes forever to get water to boil and ours kept going out.
The counselor of the kids took pity on us and loaned us his propane cooker. We have a really light one, but Dave had decided that this trip he wanted to try out the solid fuel.
Next time he makes changes like that, I'm taking backup! LOL. Because I don't like anything keeping me from my morning cuppa java!
On this hiking trip, we were "lucky" to have privy accommodations at all our tenting sites. On an AT Trip through TN a few years ago, there were "privy areas"....Needless to say, I wasn't too happy for most of the trip. And we were also lucky that these were pretty "clean". I don't think I saw a single spider in one of them the entire week!
Me all happy and ready to get started. You'll notice that my attire doesn't change much! I wore the same thing all week...my boss nearly grossed out when I told her that I didn't change socks until the 4th day! (I know...too much information, but clothes are a luxury of weight that I couldn't afford this year!)
We were all stinky by the end of the first day...making our "zone of freshness" more expansive as the week wore on...!
The hike on the second day was another really big mountain traverse. First, we had to hike down to the first road crossing (Route 26 in Maine), then go back up to the top of Old Speck Mountain, cross it, and settle about 1/2 way down the other side at Speck Pond.
The above is at the bottom after I crossed the road. That's a pictures of "Eyebrow". There is a trail called the Eyebrow Trail that a couple hikers told me lived up to its name. You cross right across the rock face using a series of ladders and cables...YIKES. I must admit that I'm glad the AT didn't include this trail! I'd rather do it with 30 less pounds on my back.
This trail marker was just across the parking lot at the trail heading up the mountain. I had almost 4 more miles. I didn't take a picture of the trail, but it yielded no relief...It was probably steeper than the day before! And a bit rockier.
I worked up a pretty good sweat going up that mountain. This was what I called a "false peak", because I could have sworn I was at the top, but NO! This picture you can see way off in the distance where I we were hiking across the bald the day before! The white cap in the photo is Bald Pate...Cool, huh? [It's in a bunch of my pictures on this day]
On the way up, I ran across a couple of sisters that were vacationing in Maine from Massachusettes. They were the ones that broke it to me that I wasn't at the top yet...They showed me the map and said I would know it when I saw a trail marker leading to the fire tower.
I was the first in my group that day, so I took the side trail that led all the way up to the peak of the mountain, where I found the fire tower.
In the picture above, you can see on the right some rain. Also look to the left, right on the edge of the photo - another patch of rain! I was hoping they were NOT heading in my direction.
I climbed up the fire tower where I could get a great view of everything! [I was also hoping to get an idea of where I was headed!]
The sisters ended up meeting me at the fire tower not too long after I got there. They joined me on the tower.
The next picture is from atop the tower (looking in the same direction).
What's awesome is that while we were on the top of the tower, the wind died down and the sun came out! We were averting the rain - at least for the time being.
Oh, My! This is the path? [That's what I kept thinking when I saw stuff like this.]
That white patch is a really scarey, vertical rock face that I had to hike down (alone). I was a bit creeped out after I finally got down that face. [And thankful]
Not quite at camp yet, but this is a snapshot looking back after I hiked down from the top of Old Speck. It was pretty to look at from afar, but I didn't take any pictures while I was hiking down...mostly because I was nervous the entire time!
Closeup of the creepy path!
By the time I reached Speck Pond campsite, my knees and feet were really tired of hiking downhille, across bolders and down huge [really HUGE] rock steps! I was so happy to see camp!
The following is a picture of the pond. It amazed me that such a large pond existed so high up in the mountains. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I was exhaunsted and wanted to soak my aching toes in the cool pond.
Earl had passed me while I was up on the fire tower, so he was already at the site when I arrived. Noone from my group had chosen to take the 0.6 [round trip] side trail up to the tower.
This site included a Caretaker and a minimal fee. The fee was to take care of the trail maintenance (one mile in each direction of the site) and the composting from the privies [can you say...UCK]. He was a really nice fella. He hiked the AT last year and this year was employeed with AMC. He spent 10 days at camp, then had four off. He accessed the site via a 4 mile trail that hooked up to a logging road.
He was a mountain man. I'm guessing he was in his mid-20's. Very down to earth. Soft spoken and just all around pleasant. He was talking with everyone...and in one conversation, he mentioned that he had never owned a computer, and had only recently gotten a cell phone (his first). So there...life can exist without the WWW! Although he did admit that he didn't OWN a computer, but did them...at libraries, etc.
About 1 hour after I got there, John and Dave arrived. We claimed our tent platform and Dave immediately layed down!
After dinner and a little rest, and lots of chatting with the other campers, we turned in!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I am finally starting to post a few pictures from my hiking trip last week. I took about 250 pictures. While I took so many, there were some I wished I had taken...and then there are many that do not do justice to the vastness or the beauty.
This is a picture of our group taken at our drop-off point on the first day. We hired a guy whose trail name is The Golden Waldo to do our transport to our starting location.
We were shuttled with another group that was hiking a similar section of the trail...Bob, from that group, took our picture. From left to right: Earl (Dave's cousin), Me, Dave, and John. Eager, energetic, and full of energy, we start our adventure...which on day 1 included a 3000 foot climb across Bald Pate, and then down to settle for the evening at Bald Pate Shelter.
A few miles into the trail, I took a picture of Dave. Doesn't he look smashing? (And possibly a little annoyed?) Note that he is clean shaven (well, sort of)...this will change over the coming days.
And of course, it's only fair to get a picture of me all sweaty!
We stopped for lunch at the Frye Notch Lean to, which was about half way to our final destination for the day...It was about 2 miles from the first peak. That's Earl eating, and in the distance, a couple of the gals from the Trail Club that were on the same shuttle that we were...Kathy and Janet. I wonder what Kathy is saying to Janet...she has an interesting look, doesn't she?
Me just being silly...and Dave indulging.
Dave standing in front of a trail marker. We were getting closer to the top...and it was getting noticeably steeper.
The hike was a climb up...at about a 60 degree angle...and believe me, it felt like it. In Maine, they don't have switch backs like I was used to...Nope...it's straight up. The trail became progressively steeper as well as rockier...and included traversing boulders. Using hands to "climb" was crucial. And thank goodness for trees, because without them, some of the hefts upwards wouldn't have been possible.
A beautiful vista not far from the peak.
It's hard to capture just exactly how steep it was at the peak...needless to say, I didn't take another picture until I had sound footing. You can see Dave and John in the distance coming up. They were NOT going to come up the face of the rock until we (Earl and I) were sure we were still on the AT and found a blazed marker.
Earl took this picture of the three of us on the side of the bald that we were about to go down - straight down! See right behind us...the drop off? Yep, it was not only steep, but also exposed...very creepy. If I wasn't a rock climber, I would have been REALLY afraid. Actually I WAS afraid...just not REALLY afraid.
This is a close-up of the bald after we had crossed it. This was the biggest bald we were on that week. There were others that were higher, but not as large. It was such a beautiful day. You could see for MILES in every direction.
This marker shows that we had come 6.3 miles and had almost 2 more to go until we reached the lean to / shelter location where we planned to camp for the evening.
I took this picture of Earl to show not only how high we were, but also it shows where we are headed. You can see the trail just behind Earl as it goes back up to the next peak (but we had to go DOWN first).
The picture above is looking back after we came down from the peak. Yikes. It was bit nerve wracking!
Behind Dave and Earl is a glimpse of where we had come from. The planks we were walking on kept us from sinking into muck. In places, it was quite deep (in at least two places, I pushed my poles down almost to where my hands were holding them at the top!)
Bald Pate Lean To. Home for the night. When we arrived, there was a group of high school kids (roughly 14-17 years old) from a 4H camp. They had been hiking for several days and were headed out the next morning. They were training to become Junior Maine Trail Guides. They were enthusiastic and fun.
Home sweet home to Dave and I for the evening!
And were we ever bushed! We ate, talked to the kids while they made a fire, and before the sun went down (around 8 pm), we were climbing into our sleeping bags! By then, John was already fast asleep in his tent!