Adirondack Park: Phelps Mtn.

Zach again with the story-time sequel. I’ve been getting to bed a little bit earlier these past few nights and haven’t had time to write it up, anyway…

After a full day of hiking, we quickly fell asleep, ready to embrace the oblivion of the night. It would seem that someone did not believe we had earned that rest though; the temperature plunged and it was a struggle to lie still as shivers wracked our bodies. While Parker did eventually fall into a troubled sleep, my eyes remained wired open as my body shook despite the multiple layers I had dawned. I remained in that frozen purgatory until the sun rose and the temperature with it. Only then was I able to rest after nearly eight hours of staring at the walls of our tent. Parker woke at 9:50 but let me sleep until 12:00. With a good portion of the day lost, we decided to hike a short distance to the summit of Phelps Mtn. (Which was another peak over 4,600 feet)
As we took our first steps, we quickly felt the effects of yesterday’s journey. Blood welled in our limbs, rendering them stiff and sore. Stretching was only a partial remedy, a realization that we tried to suppress as we prepared the five mile hike before us. The climb began on another of the many hard-beaten paths that patrol the foothills. I found myself questioning what fraction of the people in the park actually came to cross mountains. The trail gave way to the rocks of a somewhat dry riverbed as we neared the foothills. The orientation of the stones was not unlike that of a staircase and resulted in a fairly easy climb. I was able to appreciate my surroundings much more completely as I no longer had to pay attention to every specific angle of and distance between rocks. We were flanked by all manner of leafed trees, and the forest floor was covered with the colors of leaves in different stages of decay. Tangled and gnarled roots slithered across the trail, serving as footholds in some places, their bark smoothed by hundreds of uncaring boots. Here, a small stream of rain water left over from yesterday’s drizzle trickled beneath our feet, carrying away loose sentiment and polishing the rocks it flowed over. There, a tree had fallen across our path, its truck scattered in a thousand prices where it had broken from its anchor and its limbs reaching our to snag our clothing as we hurtled its attempt to dissuade us. We knew that we were close as our stairway became a terraced wall that we were to scale. Boulders the size of a man were stacked on top of each other with only tree roots, on the way of hand holds, providing a means to scale them. I ascended ahead of Parker this time, confident that his shoulder would not betray him in this climb. We moved slowly, hand over hand, I only barely registered the weight of my pack pulling my back down.

My hand gripped the rough edge of the next rock, hoisting me up from the root that I was standing on. Parker was below me, without looking I could picture him taking his time to pick the easiest way to make the climb. I must be some ways ahead of him. I stepped up to the ledge, pausing to crush another mosquito under my palm and to let Parker catch up. We had been talking about a book that I was reading for the past hour now and I wanted to make sure he remained within ear-shot. He always did complain that I mumbled too often and failed to properly enunciate. We were almost to the top now, I could see the valley below me. Waves of forest flowed out beneath me. That was what they looked like, giant waves. As if I were trapped in the tides of a green sea in a storm, nearly on the apex of a gargantuan swell. The weather was much too nice for a storm though. Clouds drifter lazily overhead in the paradigm of a blue sky. I turned and began to climb again. I wanted to get to the top soon, I was hungry and the landscape would provide a nice view for the meal that I had packed.

The top of the mountain was not of bare rock as was Marcy or Skylight. Still below the tree line, pines stood on either side of us upon a typical carpet of fallen needles. A cramped path of stone wove its way through them, slowly zig-zagging upwards. Eventually we can to a large outcropping that stood apart from the greenery. Pale gray stone, rendered smooth by what I could only assume was the wind formed a vast porch on the top of the mountain. Parker and I sat, our feet dangling precariously over the edge, as I opened my pack and removed our lunch. As I clumsily opened a can of chicken breast I took in the panoramic view provided. We gazed down from a mountain in a forest of mountains, each covered by forest. Peaks broke out above and below us, though all were distant. There were no bodies of water nor cliff faces to take away from the uniformity of the dark colors of the woods surrounding us. We ate in silence before digressing to read the books that we had brought with us. We had figured that it would be a peaceful enough setting.
Two hours later, around 5:00, we closed our books and began the descent down the mountain. This time, it felt that we were moving at a much faster pace than that of our climb up. We made our way down the steepest of the boulders with this in mind before stepping on to the more level stones of the river-bed.

My momentum increased as I moved over the next rock, using the slim truck of a tree to swing me across. My feet met the surface of stones faster, my mind quickly calculating where I had to place them. Parker was ahead of me, doing the same. Before we knew it we were running down the mountain. I leapt from one rock to the next, swinging between the limbs of trees when I could. My legs powered me over beds of mud. My strides lengthened as I ran faster, the thrill at the possibility of falling and surly breaking something only spurred me on. The silence of the trail was broken by the thud thud thud of our feet pounding across it. Between our speed and the roughness of terrain, I marveled at my ability to place my feet on and apply the right force to a stone when one wrong move would see me dashed against them. The forest rushed past me, blurred as I hurdled a boulder before skipping to another four feet away. A young couple was coming up the trail. I smiled as I noticed the way they were starring as if what we were doing was totally insane. I can assure you that it was. For two miles I ran, my shoes never touching the ground, accept for that one time I slipped. Then I had mud all up my leg. Besides that I was feeling very entertained. Adrenaline rushed through me, filling my limbs with the ability to flit between protruding roots, leaning tree trunks and the stones that littered the trail. The pack I wore was tightly secured to my torso, I could feel its straps digging into my abdomen. The entire experience was a blur, I struggled to contain joyous laughter.

Reaching the end if the trail, we paused to rest before continuing back to our camp. Even though we had hiked only a fourth of the previous day’s distance. We felt that the run made up for a few miles. The rest of the night was spent cooking up supper and reading after night had fallen.

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Hike Potatoes

Hey, it’s Zach again. Even though Parker and I went on a lovely little hike with our hosts in Canada a few days ago, Im going to consider today as the day the Hike Potatoes took their first few steps into the wilderness (contrary to what Parker says, but he’s not the one writing this). After going about our morning routine of breakfast and cleaning camp, we visited Allegany State Park to hit a few trails with Parker’s mom. We decided to take it easy and found a nice 2.5 mile trail that went straight up the foothills before turning around into a relaxing, drop-off of a decline. It was a sunny, 80 degree day and the forest was brightly illuminated, beams of sunlight streaking through the leafy canopy. The trail itself was of worn clay, trampled roots and stone scoured smooth by hundreds of footsteps and wound tightly up a hill that was just smaller than that of Spirit Mountain (with the same incline). After a short climb of about 200 yards, Parker and I decided that the terrain was the perfect setting for a jog in the woods. We took off with a hindered stride, our legs burning with the effort of powering our bodies uphill. The impact of our footfalls were felt in our knees and our calves strained to propel us forward. I could feel the weight of the water that I carried in my backpack sloshing back and forth and the constriction of the bag’s straps against my chest and around my waist as my lungs sucked in dry, hot air. We slogged up the hill for a good mile before coming to rest, breathing heavily, at the apex of the hill only to run back down again to rendezvous with Parker’s mom, who we had left far behind. After regrouping, we casually navigated the remainder of the trail before exiting the forest and grabbed a quick bite to eat.
Here’s a nice pic that demonstrates the product of running up a hill:

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“Beehunter” was the name of the second trail that we took, a 6.5 mile hike around the foothills that surrounded a small lake in the center of the park. This turned or to be a much more mild hike as the topography was more planed out than the previous hill, though we did have a steady 75 yard climb to begin with. Greenery surrounded us, the forest itself was not infested with undergrowth and the moss-covered trunks of trees and huddles of boulders were easily seen. Sunlight blossomed overhead and illuminated the forest floor. Birds called to each other overhead, interrupted by the occasional slap that sounded the death of a mosquito, and small animals rustled amongst fallen leaves and branches. Chucks of stone, like the building-blocks of some fantastic castle, settled on either side of the trail, combined with the enormity of the trees they gave the environment an almost ethereal feel.

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Our progress slowed as the forest thickened during our decent. Parker and I took turns leading the way, clearing unseen spider webs from the path with our face and communicating the footing of the trail by slipping on a loose stone, stumbling over a root or crying out as our foot was caught in the sucking mud. Eventually we came upon a wide ravine cut by a river that puddled between the bedrock. Undergrowth was entirely absent here and we walked on a carpet of rust-colored bark among immense trees that soared over head.

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The combination of the river, the size of the trees and the general emptiness of the forest gave one a feeling of insignificance among nature. I spat in rejection of the feeling and moved on. A few hundred yards further in, the forest became more constricting and the mud more frequent. Flies buzzed around our heads and moths and lesser bugs stuck to the patina of sweat that formed across our arms and faces. We continued to slip through the mire and fumble across uneven ground. As I attempted to navigate a corroded decline I stumbled and split my knee open against a stone. Picking myself off the ground and confirming that I wasn’t injured more than a moderate scrape and a few minor cuts I noticed a bright lizard, no bigger than my index finger, looking up at me. It was as if Mother Nature had slowed my trek that I might notice it.

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From that point the rest of the hike was more or less uneventful and we exited the trail about an hour later. Overall we hiked a good 11 miles. Aside from a slight limp and a dull throb in my knee, I’m glad to be out and moving again and Im sure Parker feels the same way. Tomorrow we plan on either going for another hike or connecting with the Buffalo YMCA where we hope to organize a day trip in the foothills and have a few YMCA members join us. Now that you’ve heard about our wonderful day of walking up steep hills in the muddy and bug-infested wilderness, go ahead and treat yourself to a nice bowl of vitamin-stocked fruit. If you’ve eaten anything along the lines of a doughnut, candy, fast food, fried food, chips, soda or any sugary desert, you should probably go for a 5 mile run. I’m out, deuces!

The day of bicyclists

So, this will be a quick one because we’re waking up early tomorrow, but we made another 97 mile day! Woot woot. It was a good one, with a late start this morning because of rain. We are now currently outside of Clare, MI where a lovey young woman let us stay in her yard. Tomorrow we need to pick up that trailer and onward we go. We saw for tour bike groups today. One was a group of ladies, the next was a family, then just a guy, then a couple on another tandem! Sorry for the short update, but I’m getting to bed. Stay healthy.

Pictures:
Another tandem! Same company and everything!

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Some road pictures:

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Some sky pictures:

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And a quick up-to-date look of my tan line.

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Our YMCA Cartoon

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Our YMCA Cartoon

Ya know, it’s not the most manly thing in the world, but then again we are advocating for little kids to get out and exercise so it ends up fitting. All in all, I think it is pretty awesome. I am not really sure what Zach will say, but man will it be funny. And don’t misunderstand me, even though we are raising awareness for a strong KIDS campaign, that doesn’t mean you older folk are off the hook.

The First of Many

And we finally hit the roads! A whopping 40 degrees cracked us out of our biking hibernation and onto the pavement. It was a little rickety getting going and trying to cooperate, but once we got going we were like a well oiled engine. We knocked off 14.6 miles but seeing Duluth is a mountain and we went down, back up, down, and back up again, it wasn’t half bad. Not only was this first trip out in the bike a good learning curve for us, but our excitement for this trip just escalated exponentially. We are both exercise fanatics and the work out and the fun of riding this bike is right up our alley. The weather is starting to become a lot nicer and with it, will come more and more miles. Next week will be even nicer because I will start biking down to school and Zach and I will be able to get biking right away with the weight of all our books in our bags. In conclusion, today was awesome and we can’t wait for more. Bring it on.