Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013

How did 2014 sneak up on me?  
It's been three years since we returned from that one big adventure?  
Coming up on two years since that other adventure?  
And over six months since the start of the latest one?  


Highlights from the second half of 2013...

There were a few more fun evenings in Stewart Park.

One more trip to the Gunks,

and one more trip to Rumney!

There was an unfortunate incident of keys locked in a car...  while it was running...

...and an unfortunate incident of a wasp sting on a hand (on Millennium Falcon, which is a sucky climb, by the way). 

Two trips to the Adirondacks to finish the Dix Range and to attempt Dial/ Nippletop: 

Macomb Mtn
Grace Peak (East Dix)

Carson Peak (South Dix)
Hough Peak

Dial Mtn
There were a few surprises,

and a few things that had been in the works for a while.


Here's to 2014.  :o)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Get the Ark (Overflowing Waterfalls of Tompkins County)

I didn't sleep the night before Labor Day - booming explosions and bright flashes kept me awake.

One point three inches of rain?  Why yes, it's time for Waterfall Tour Extravaganza To Determine Most Awesome Waterfall 2013!

(Keywords:  I'm visiting Ithaca and I want to know the most popular waterfalls to visit.  Heh.)

First up:  Ithaca Falls.  Always a strong contender for Most Awesome Waterfall because it's not in a crowded park - it's just on the side of the road.

ithaca falls - typical flow
ithaca falls - 9/1/2013
I'm going to give this a 8.5/10.0.  We've got a super strong flow and a decent amount of spray.  Water color is white and foamy.  Gets an additional 0.5 points for the decent flooding in Fall Creek.  Still, I'm not getting that sort of "OMG I'm going to get blown off my feet by the power of that sucker."

Next up:  Lucifer Falls at Treman State Park.  YEAH BABY!  9.5/10.

lucifer falls from overlook - normal flow
lucifer falls - 9/1/2013
This got a 9.0 in the initial evaluation, but the Russian judge bumped it up an additional half point for the comparison between these two photos.  We've got increased width in the falls and a rainbow from all of the spray.  Lucifer Falls is bringing its game to capture the title of Most Awesome Waterfall!

Style points for water-based trail erosion closing the Gorge Trail.  This was as close as we could get:

lucifer falls from gorge trail - normal/ low flow
lucifer falls from gorge trail - 9/1/2013
Whew.  Is that spray from the falls or just a thin film of sweat from the adrenaline?

Third stop:  Buttermilk Falls State Park.  Buttermilk is usually pretty tame.  How did it stack up?

buttermilk falls - typical flow.  very chill.
buttermilk falls - 9/1/2013
7.5/10.0.  Considering Buttermilk Falls is usually a garden hose rather than a geyser, this increase is impressive.  But it can't compare to the other falls in the county.  Nice try, Buttermilk!

Last stop:  Taughannock Falls State Park.

taughannock falls state park - typical to slightly low flow
taughannock falls state park - 9/1/2013
Check out got a huge mist cloud filling up the "bowl" of the gorge.  Those falls are ripping!  Obvious increase in volume and thunderous from nearly a quarter mile away.  9.0/10.0.

So there you have it!  Final Rankings:

9.5/10.0:  Lucifer Falls, Treman State Park - Most Awesome Waterfall Award
9.0/10.0:  Taughannock Falls (State Park)
8.5/10.0:  Ithaca Falls
7.5/10.0:  Buttermilk Falls (State Park)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Acrobats in Red Leotards and Other Images from Montreal

I'm hesitant to write another post, because the dispatch previous to this one is so epic that I can't bear not to have it first on this blog.  But life goes on.

Particularly when the passport is involved.

Chris and Mike said they were going to Montreal for the Fourth of July weekend.  Montreal?  I've never been there before!  It's only 5 hours from Ithaca!  They speak French up there!  And they have poutine.

mmm...  poutine...
I am SO in.

Montreal is a very livable city.  Not sure I'd want to live there, but still a very comfortable, pleasant city to visit, even in the heat and humidity of July.  Coming from a lady who doesn't like cities, that is a RINGING endorsement!

Here's a quick photojournal:

Day One: we walked around Old Montreal, Chinatown, went for a dinner in a fancy French restaurant, and caught some excellent music at the International Jazz Festival.

graffiti, a sleeping bum, and a delicate fresco
mangoes in Chinatown
artist's alley in an old courtyard
fancy dinner
street scene
jazz festival
Day Two:  back to Old Montreal to visit the Basilica, the archaeology museum, and the International Fireworks competition in the evening.

very, very beautiful and ornate architecture
archaeology museum built right over the ruins of the oldest parts of the city
not gonna lie...  ithaca's fireworks were better.
walking home through gay village...  such a cool neighborhood
Day Three:  farmers' market, Kate/ Tim/ Chris join us after the Tough Mudder, and the most amazing random acrobatic show!!

excellent produce at the jean talon market
eating lunch when suddenly street theater was right in front of us!
we followed the acrobats over to to the back side of a Metro station...
...and then to a park...
...and then to one of the best shows I've ever seen.
and wow 
Day Four:  more walking (so. much. walking.), repeat of the Jean Talon market, slacklining in Mt. Royal, and finally home.

view from mt. royal
Good times!  More images here.  The highlights of the trip...
  • The acrobats!  Montreal Completement Cirque at Place Émilie Gamelin, performing "Babel"
  • Finding a great place to stay on
  • Jean Talon market
  • International Jazz Festival

And I'm oh-so-ready for another adventure.  Sigh.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Married on Marcy

On Saturday, June 15th, I married my most favorite person on the planet (that would be Davo!) in one of our most favorite places on the planet (that would be the summit of Mt. Marcy in Adirondacks!).

It was epic.

awww heck yeah!
And since it was fairly dang epic, I figure it deserves a little trip report.

Day 1 (in blue), Friday June 14th:  Loj to Marcy Dam, Avalanche Pass, Avalanche Lake & the Hitch-up Matildas, Lake Colden, and up the Opalescent River to a tent site near Feldspar Lean-To.

**a sandwich with about 3/4'' of meat and cheese at Avalanche Pass;
**cussing my head off trying to navigate around Avalanche Lake with a pack loaded with champagne and a wedding dress;
**the lovely hike up the Opalescent River, very pretty.

Conditions were pretty good along these sections of trail; everything was about as muddy as I expected (and not nearly as bad as later in the trip).  A thunderstorm rolled through in the early evening, but otherwise the weather was decent.  Didn't experience too many blackflies, either.  The hiking was more tiring than I was expecting; not only were we carrying four days worth of food, we were carrying nicer (i.e. heavier) food, plus some champagne, plus all of our wedding clothes and stuffs, etc.

looking back at Avalanche Lake
Day 2 (in purple):  Marcy, Skylight, and Grey

**Holy guacamole, we got married!!

The quick story...  we had been watching the weather obsessively since late May, and it looked like 6/15 would be clear and cold.  That'll do!

We got up early and left camp by 7:00.  I did my hair at Lake Tear of the Clouds, source of the Hudson River.  This is about the point that the butterflies started in my stomach.
The hike from Feldspar Leanto to Marcy is straight forward.  I half regret not trying for the summit at dawn, but then again, I like sleeping and wanted to be mentally sound for such an important day.  I washed my boots at the timberline so they wouldn't wipe mud all over my dress, and then we finished the hike to the summit.  Putting on makeup 10 miles from the nearest road is a surreal experience.

And then it was time to get married.

So how did this all work?  We were legally married in the State of New York in early May, so we did not need an officiant for our ceremony.  In our experience, involving God or the government in a promise between two human beings does not seem to improve the odds of success.  Instead, we had a self-uniting ceremony (legal in Colorado and Pennsylvania!), reading our vows to each other and exchanging rings.

It was one of the most important, emotionally charged, memorable, and special memories of my life.  :-)

The weather at the summit was great - clear, cold, and windy, but not so bad that I couldn't take off my coat for a few photos!  We stayed on the summit, just enjoying the views and relaxing, for about two hours.  We both ended up with sunburn on our noses.

Finally, it was time to drag ourselves away from the summit.  We put on our awesome "Just Married!" shirts and hiked back down to Four Corners.

The hike up Skylight was straightforward, and we lingered on the summit, talking to some other hikers.  The hike up Grey was also straightforward, though a bit messier, and with fewer views, so we didn't linger quite as long.  We returned to camp in the late afternoon, having taken something like 9 hours to cover the 6 mile day.

We greeted a DEC ranger, who would be the last person we would see for the next 36 hours.  That was one of my favorite parts of the trip - time totally alone with my new husband, getting used to the feeling of being married.

Good thing we like each other, because our weather window got smashed with a baseball bat on Sunday.

Day 3 (in yellow):  Redfield and Cliff Mountains

**We didn't get hypothermia or zapped by lightening.  Count yer blessings.
**The trail on Redfield was more fun and more interesting than I was expecting for a "trailless" peak.
**Laying in the tent with my new husband, playing the letter game to pass the time while it rained.
**Running around, collecting our stuff in the rain, and sprinting to the lean-to to set up a dry camp - hilarious!

Tried to wake up early to beat the afternoon thunderstorms, but man Day Three always kicks my butt.  We got a decently early start, slightly after 7:00 a.m.  The hike up Redfield was straight forward, following a river that turned into a creek that turned into a drainage, the trail joining and splitting from the water.  We didn't stay long at the top, expecting the weather to turn, and by the time we reached the junction for the Cliff Mtn. trail it had started to drizzle.

Conditions on Cliff were pretty bad - extremely muddy.  There were a few times that I was thankful for my climbing skills, as it was more secure to throw in a hand jam than attempting to palm a wet sloper.  We did our best to climb carefully, not to pull on vegetation, not to slip all over the place, in a lame attempt to minimize erosion, but I don't know if there's much that can be done when the trails look like ^that^ (other than come back another day, but I don't know if this mountain is ever not a huge pile of muddy cliffs).

By the time we reached the top, it was raining.  I was not psyched for the descent.

Back at camp, we stripped off our wet clothes and hopped in the tent to dry.  2:00 p.m.  Lots of time until dinner and bedtime.  Good thing we like each other.

As soon as our tent started doing this:

I knew it was time to make a break for it.  We grabbed all of our stuff and moved over to the now vacant Feldspar Lean-To.  Finally, some room to spread out, hang up our soaking wet gear, and cook dinner in a dry space!

Day 4 (in red):  Feldspar Lean To to Lake Arnold, Indian Falls, Tabletop Mountain, Marcy Dam, and the Loj

**Making it across the sketchiest bog crossing I have ever experienced
**Summiting our sixth mountain in four days
**Arriving at a Marcy Dam lean-to just as thunderstorm rolled through
**Having rationed just enough food not to be hungry

Man, it sucks to put on wet boots in the morning.  You know what sucks even more?  This:

That crossing, somewhere between Feldspar Lean To and Lake Arnold, is AWFUL.  Those logs aren't resting on anything - they're floating.  And that log to the left?  It rolls.  I may have had a minor freak out.  Dave had to walk first me, and then my pack, across.  Thanks, honey!  After a night of hiking, this trail on the south/east side of Colden (which is usually wet to begin with) was a total mess.

The rest of the hike wasn't too bad, though my pack was so heavy that I was really struggling.  We stopped at Indian Falls for a very quick photo (hmm, look at those clouds over Algonquin), then quickly ran up Tabletop Mountain.  Dave commented that we made it up there quickly, and I said "Sure we did - I get to eat a Clif Bar at the top!"  Yeah, food was running a bit low at that point.  Made it to Marcy Dam just as the heavens opened and a thunderstorm rolled through.  Luckily for us, it was a convenient lunch stop, so we ate some food and waited out the rain.

The walk from Marcy Dam to the Loj was pretty special.  We entered the woods as individuals and emerged a new little family unit.  With the mud, the rain, the blackflies, and the heavy packs, we had no need to smash a glass in the Jewish tradition at our ceremony - we had already experienced our trials and emerged stronger as a result.

checking out of the trail register...  mr. and mrs.
And that was the trip.  It was everything we had hoped for, and then a little bit more.

May there be many miles of happy trails in our future.  :-)

P.S.  More photos here.

P.P.S.  We made an awesome album using Shutterfly - check it out!