Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Harrington Beach in Eastern Maine

After our visit last Tuesday to Quoddy Head State Park, our nephew and niece-in-law suggested a short hike in to Harrington Beach, which was close by.  Here are a few photos - great place to be gained for an easy hike of just a few hundred meters.

Beach plums at the start of the hike.

Definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

Here is a panoramic view of Harrington Beach

No sand here!  Maine has something like 3,000 miles of coastline and only something like 30 miles of it is sandy beaches.

Can you tell that there is a huge tidal range there, something like 24 feet?  That pales in comparison with the Bay of Fundy if you keep heading northeast.

No, this is not Harrington Beach, but it is a quintessential Maine coastal view in nearby Lubec.  The bridge to Campobello Island in Canada (FDR's summer place - well worth a visit) is very close by.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Easternmost point in the US of A!

Last week, we left the Maine mountains, and headed for the "Downeast" region - the part of Maine that juts eastward towards Canada.  While we were there, we took a short hike at Quoddy Head State Park, and the light at East Quoddy Head, the easternmost point in the USA.  Here are some photos from this trip.  It is a spectacular and beautiful spot, and how can one not fall in love with the lighthouse?

A lobster boat cruises past Sail Rock, with Grand Manan Island in Canada in the distance.

We hiked down to the beach, catching a view back to the lighthouse above us.

The beach there is a traditional "cobblestone" beach - no sand here, and with water temperatures rarely if ever out of the 50's, it would be a chilly place to take a dip.  Add in 25 foot tides and it would be downright dangerous.

Panoramic view of the beach and the lighthouse.  Click to enlarge.

The carving on the rocks proclaims this as the easternmost point in the USA,

and no American flag on US soil flies further east.

Here is a look back to the lighthouse, with Grand Manan Island in Canada far in the distance.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Western Maine Views

We spent last week in Maine, seeing friends and family and getting to enjoy the crisp Maine October weather.  We also did a few short hikes, so I thought I would post about these.

The first, recorded in this post, was not a hike as much as some short walks in various scenic places as we drove along.  Therefore, I will just post a few photos that I took of the day we spent traveling around the Rangely and Mount Blue areas with two wonderful friends.

This is a panoramic view of Rangley Lake from the east, just south of the town of Rangely.

 And here is a shot of the same large western Maine lake from the west later in the day.

This is a view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake from the southeast.

Fall colors along the Swift River.

The Swift River pours though Coos Canyon.

Coos Canyon.  Decades ago, I took my son and my nephew camping at Mount Blue State Park near hear, and we took a swim in the canyon.

Mount Blue from the shores of Webb Lake in Mount Blue State Park, one of my wife's and my favorite Maine state parks.

Panoramic view of Lake Webb in Mount Blue State Park.

Tumbledown Mountain (left), site of my all time favorite hike of the last dozen years or so, my hike to celebrate beating cancer.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Fall Colors!"

Ah, nothing like fall: warm, crisp days; cool nights; starry skies; beautiful colors!

But on my Raven Rocks hike in Kumbrabow State Forest a week ago, I encountered a different type of fall.  Coming down a steep section that was sloped to the left, the trail builders had laid down some logs - about 3 inches in diameter - in a wet spot.  Like the trail, they sloped to the left and they turned out to be very slippery.  I stepped on one as I said something to one of my brothers.  So quickly I barely realized what was happening, my feet shot out to the left as if I had stepped on ice, and I landed on my right arm.  My right arm exactly landed - about two inches down from my elbow - on one of the slippery logs.  Although I didn't hear a "snap," I hit with such force and the pain was so great - driven all the way up into my quirky right shoulder - that I was sure I had broken something.  My brothers offered to take my pack as I sat in the trail.  I told them that I thought my arm was broken and to just hold on.  After a while, I tried moving my fingers, twisting my arm, and grasping a hiking pole.  I told them that I was OK, and stood up.  We started walking again.  Within 10 minutes, my forearm was swollen out about an inch and a half.

Back at camp, I iced the area of impact and carried on.  The pain has gradually gotten worse during the week but seems to have peaked.  Today, it is no worse and no better than it was yesterday.  The bruise is spectacular - the photo below does not do it justice.  It goes from my elbow to halfway up my palm, and the pain extends up about 3/4 of the way along my forearm.  The doctor I saw yesterday told me it was not broken, but that I had crush damage to muscles and possibly tendons, lots of bleeding, and bone bruising, which causes bleeding on the bone surface and even inside the marrow.  He said to rest my arm - no working out - and try to keep it elevated above the level of my heart so that the lymphatic system would transport the blood away and reduce the swelling some.  Keeping your arm elevated while working - especially one's right arm - is not an easy matter, but I am trying.
My "Fall Colors"

Depending on how long the pain lasts, this could end my hiking for a while.  I don't want the exercise of using a trekking pole while it hurts this much, and one article that I read said that the pain from this type of blunt force injury can last for months.  We'll see - I still have some plans!

I think that falls are the number one cause of death and injury in the back country.  I've never taken a fall while hiking before, at least not a full fledged fall.  I did slip and bang my hip really hard a year or so ago on an urban hike on slick rocks, and that hurt for a good week.  But it didn't hurt nearly as much as this has.  I have a new respect for falls now.  I have strong legs, great balance, and very quick reactions, and none of those helped me a bit this time.  Even my trekking poles were useless this time.  They must not have been planted on soil.

It is an experience that I hope not to repeat anytime soon.  But all in all, I was lucky. You are talking 180 pounds of force dropping essentially from a distance of about 4.5 feet and all that force landing on about two square inches of my arm.  I could have snapped the radius like a twig, but didn't.  So I will take it easy and deal with the pain for a while.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hiking at Kumbrabow SF

Last Thursday through Sunday, my brothers and I camped out at Kumbrabow State Forest in West Virginia.  On Friday, we decided to take a hike together on some of the trails there, and we headed up the Raven Rocks Trail to start out.  Here is a track of our hike, starting and ending at our campsite (orange star), hiking up the Raven Rocks Trail (orange arrow, with the red arrow locating Raven Rocks), and returning on the Meatbox Trail (purple arrow).

Our hike was 5.3 miles long, and had a good bit of elevation gain and loss, 1,300 feet total.  As in most mountainous areas, there is not a lot of flat walking where we went.

It was a nice hike.  We did not see any wildlife to speak of, but there was a really nice view at Raven Rocks.  The fall colors are beginning to arrive in that part of the world.

Along the way, my younger brother, who is a skilled botanist, pointed out an Indian cucumber.

Part of the hike was along an old woods road that connected the two trails along the ridge, near the highest point in the forest, Buck Knob.  It made for pleasant and scenic walking, and the three of us enjoyed a nice lunch break in the woods nearby.

Then we headed down, joining up with the Meatbox trail, which has some steep, wet slippery areas.  I learned this first hand when I slipped on a wet log and about a tenth of a second later, landed on the log with my forearm.  I was pretty sure I had broken my arm, but in a while I could move my fingers and twist my arm.  My arm swelled up about an inch and a half within 10 minutes, and hurt like the dickens!  Now, six days later, it hurts even more and is black, blue, purple, and green from my elbow to my palm.  Not the type of "fall" I wanted to experience!

Along the way, we saw some more nice colors to enjoy.

We were all a little tired from the hike, especially my brother's dog.  I iced my injured arm with ice from our cooler while everyone else took a little snooze!

It was a really nice hike, although I could have done without the fall.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Camping With My Brothers

Last week, I got to spend four days camping with both my brothers (plus my older brother's dog), and had a great time.  We live far apart and don't see each other often enough, so it was a real treat.  We camped out in Kumbrabow State Forest in east central West Virginia, a rugged and sparsely populated area.  My older brother lived in that area for several years and has good friends there, so we did some visiting while we camped out.  The weather could not have been any better - highs in the low seventies, lows in the low forties, sunny days, and clear nights with lots of stars at night.  I even saw a meteorite flash across the sky one night.  We took a long walk one day and a hike on another, hung out at camp, went to a festival, and visited some of my brother's friends.  It was over way too soon.

My older brother brought the tent.  He said he had a large tent, and would need help putting it up.  I was thinking 10 by 10 maybe.  See for yourself why he needed help.  This is just the top part of the frame:

Next, we draped the canvas over the top part of the frame.  We almost could have camped under that!

Then, we attached the legs to raise the tent up.  My brothers are standing in front.  We could have had a circus in there!  It was so roomy and comfortable.  Some of my brother's friends kept asking "Aren't you cold in there? Do you have a stove or heater?"  It was fine, though.

Here are a few more photos.  I'll post about the hike later.  It was a great place to camp, nice sites, outhouses, and hot showers about two mile away at the KSF Headquarters.  After several years of backpacking, it was a luxury to be able to haul so much stuff in a car!

My younger brother and I saw this snake on the way in - very cool!  I am thinking black rat snake.  We didn't see much other wildlife on this trip, other than chipmunks and a junco that hung around the camp for a few hours.

Our first afternoon at camp (Thursday) we walked the 2+ mile along the road to the HQ where the showers are, then hiked back along a trail and an old woods road for a while, just to get a feel for the area.  We walked about five miles, I would guess.

The fall foliage was well along, but not yet peaking.  We saw lots of gorgeous fall colors, but some of the best was actually on the drive to and from Kumbrabow over in Highland County, Virginia.  Here are a few photos from the drive home on Sunday:

It was such a good trip!  That last night, sitting around the campfire with my brothers (and a solo camper, Paco, that we invited over) on a cool fall night - I wished it could never end.  But each second of each minute of each hour of each day flows by in a blink, and soon enough, the trip was over and I was back to work!

More about the Friday hike in a future post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Best meal in a Bag!

During my two night trip in Shenandoah National Park last month, I ate the best meal I have ever had cooked in a bag: Mary Jane Farms Curry in a Hurry!

It is always a challenge to eat great tasting meals on the trail.  The best meals have been ones that I cooked from a trail recipe, but that is a lot of trouble, and usually, a little more weight.  Someone at REI had recommended this meal to me, so I decided to try it.  Perfect!  Delicious!

Usually, I find that when I add the prescribed amount of boiling water to a backpacking meal, it turns out "soupy."  That was the case with my meal the previous night.  Not so with the "Curry in a Hurry."  The amount of water to add was just right.  The portion size is for 1.5 people.  I couldn't find a half person anywhere - I did look - so I ate the whole meal myself.  I topped it off with a piece of chocolate.  I highly recommend this meal and have already bought another one for my next backpacking trip.  It is vegetarian but not vegan.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What Am I?

On Tuesday's hike into Cape May Point State Park, I encountered this creature on the trails.  Usually, animals tend to flee when they see a human.  Not this guy!  He actually approached me as I hiked through an open forested area.  Figure out what it is!

Of type of creature, I'm a fowl
I'm larger than a hawk or owl

Berries, insects, nuts, fruits, and more -
It's clear that I'm an omnivore

Whate're I find, that I'll gobble
From this and that, meals I'll cobble

As birds here go, I am quite tall,
The height of children, if they're small

I have no hair but have a beard
Now, don't you think that's sort of weird?

Just like vultures, my head is bare
And here's a few more clues I'll share:

A bourbon is named after me
Distilled in bluegrass Kentuck-ee

I could grace your Thanksgiving table.
(I'll skip that fate if I am able)

In spring of year, I strut my stuff
For hens to claim; of clues - enough!

That's it
so scroll
to reveal
the identity
of this

Is the picture no more murky?
It should be clear I'm wild turkey!

I reached a section of the trail where there was a wooden rail fence to the left, and a fence gate ahead, blocking a gravel road.  The trail made a sharp turn to the right.  Down the road, perhaps 100 feet, a splendid male turkey stood on the edge of the forest.  I set my camera to maximum zoom and snapped some photos.  Unlike every other turkey I've encountered, this one did not run or fly away.  It just stood there.

So, I thought to myself, "what if I try to get closer for a better photo?" I crawled under the fence gate, and walked slowly towards him, expecting him to move away quickly.  I kept snapping photos every few feet.  To my surprise, the gobbler started walking slowly towards me.  At one point, he did this display with his wings and tail, perhaps a show of dominance.

I stopped and he kept coming.  Did he expect food?  Was he going to get aggressive?  Was he just curious?

When he got about 15 feet from me, I decided that it was too close, so I turned and walked slowly away, and climbed over the fence.  The tom followed me, but did not attempt to go over the fence or under the gate.  He stayed in the grassy area on the other side of the fence, so I took the zoom off the camera and observed him, snapping several more photos.  You can get a good look at his "beard" in this one.

What a cool wildlife experience that was!  I've never been so close to a turkey before.

I like this photo because it shows some of the subtle colors he has when the sun hits his feathers.

This is a wildlife sighting that I will remember for some time!