Sunday, February 5, 2017

Old Croton Aqueduct - Croton Gorge Park to Quaker Bridge Road

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
2/5/2017 6.1 miles 2 hours 8 minutes 17:30/mile 7.6

Map: Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park Map & Guide (
Parking: Croton Gorge Park
Directions: From the parking area, get onto the access trail behind the restrooms. The trail zigzags until it reaches a sign for the Croton Aqueduct Trail. We turned left here, and walked over to the bridge which crosses the dam. We walked back and continued along the Aqueduct Trail, passing 3 ventilators. We continued on to the next crossing of Quaker Bridge Road (no parking available there), and then retraced our steps back to Croton Gorge Park.

This trail is the distance of a marathon, but we've only done a small portion of it near Rockefeller State Park. My physical therapist is encouraging me to hike on flat trails, and there is nothing flatter than this! I figure since its so flat, I can go on longer walks. I'm itching to go out to the Catskills and western Massachusetts though! This trail is super easy - more of a walk than a hike. We of course are the only ones with backpacks on! This hike is very popular with dog walkers. Almost everyone we saw had one or more dogs. Many dogs were off leash. We knew this walk would be this way, so we brought Moxie instead of Trek. Moxie just ignores the dogs that run up to her, even when they have their hackles up. Let's just say this is a place to take your dog that has excellent social skills. Glen has decided he wants to complete the whole Aqueduct trail, so we'll work on that this winter while I'm supposed to be limited to flat hikes.

First hike of the year! Orange Trail, Ward Pound Ridge Park, NY

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
1/28/2017 1.5 miles 1.5 miles

Map: Available where you pay for parking.
Parking: $10
Directions: Orange Trail loop

First hike of the year! I am back in physical therapy. My therapist said he'd prefer that I stick to hiking on flat trails. I got sore from 2 flat miles on the treadmill, so he told me to start out with a shorter distance when I hike. It's hard to find really short hikes. So we visited Ward Pound Ridge and did the Orange loop. It's short and easy. We decided to take Moxie along, since she rarely gets to go hiking with us anymore. This hike was easy enough for her.

I usually like to come up with hiking goals for the year, just like other people come up with New Year's resolutions. I am torn after last year though, since my hip pain kept me from hiking most of the year. However, I'd like to be positive and have a new list of goals. None of the surgeons I've seen so far recommend surgery, so I'm going to increase my hiking, and try to find a way to do it without aggravating my hip. Unlike jogging, hiking is considered a pretty good activity, and strength training is supposed to help reduce hip pain. This year is going to be incredibly busy at work, so I don't expect to take any long vacations. Here is what I've come up with for my 2017 goals:

1. Finish hiking the Massachusetts portion of the Appalachian Trail. This was a 2016 goal that was put on hold. We did do a little bit more of MA in the end of 2016, before parking areas closed for the winter stopped us. We don't have too much more of the state left, and should be able to easily complete it in 2017. Massachusetts is really the northern edge of where we can drive to on the AT for day hikes from home. Once we hit Vermont, we'll need to start taking weekend or week long trips.

2. Hike the 76.4 mile Georgia portion of the Appalachian Trail. I've only been to Georgia once, maybe 25 or so years ago. I'm excited to do a section of the AT which is far away from the portions we've done so far.

3. Hike two sections of the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail. So far I hate the PA section. I've had 2 flying face plants in PA (onto rocks), and we've barely gotten started. But, if we complete a couple sections each year, eventually we will get it over with. 13 more sections to go!

4. Visit 4 state high points. I think most people find visiting state high points a curious hobby. We've only done 7 so far, but I've been trying to do a couple a year. I like visiting new places and I like hiking, so it's kind of a fun thing to do. We think we can squeeze 4 into our trip to Georgia. We are looking at doing Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia. All of these are easy high points.

5. Start doing one night overnight backpacking trips. I finally persuaded Glen to start doing some backpacking last year. We bought a tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. We did this right when my hip pain started. At that time, I didn't realize my hip and groin pain would become chronic, so it seemed a reasonable thing to do. Well, we never ended up backpacking once last year! I'm a little concerned about carrying the extra weight of backpacking gear (more load on my hip), but I'm not going to let it stop me. We have some pretty camping areas in NY which require only short hikes to get to. And if things go well, we can do some weekend trips in the Catskills or on the AT. I think backpacking will be a great way for me to let go of work stress. I really, really want to eventually work my way up to long-distance backpacking trips (Tahoe Rim Trail, Wonderland Trail, Sweden Coast to Coast trail), but at this point I'm settling with mini trips.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Redwood Regional Park, CA

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
12/31/2016 11.5 miles 3 hours 36 minutes

Map: Available at trailhead.
Parking: See book
Directions: Not hike #32 in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles San Francisco! This book does have a hike in this park, but we decided to make up our own hike which was much longer.

Our approximate route: West Ridge Trail to the east side of the park. Turn left on Orchard Trail. Turn right on French Trail. Turn right onto West Ridge Trail.

Today I was pretty exhausted. I didn’t eat enough while hiking which added to my low energy. Mentally I was waivering between being amazed that I can hike this far and frustrated with my lack of fitness. My hip has been doing really well during this vacation. I’ve gone 2 days without Naproxen and have been able to do moderate distance hikes. I found the hills challenging. Pre-hip problems I could usually climb hills without resting. Today I had to take several short rests to catch my breath and let my legs recover. I’ll be seeing a hip arthroscopist in a couple of weeks, but I’m in a period of mild hip pain. My hip pain varies a lot in intensity and location, and I’m sure it will be more difficult for the doctor to diagnose me based on my current symptoms. I’m currently having minimal groin pain, and mild outer hip pain.

We chose a hike in the 60 Hikes within 60 Miles book, but decided to extend it rather than hiking in two separate locations today. The parking lot was packed and we had to park down the road. The park is very popular with bicyclists, joggers, and dog walkers. The park allows dogs off leash, and we saw many, many off leash dogs, all behaving appropriately. We started out on the West Ridge Trail which is a wide fire road. We stopped by the Redwood Basin – it was almost like a dog park. There were at least a dozen people in the area socializing & throwing balls for their dogs. There were only a few limited views on the ridge trail. It was an easy trail with lots of people on it. I prefer quieter trails, so on the return trip we chose the French Trail. It was less crowded, quieter, and had more redwoods. The French Trail had a lot of rolling hills which were really tiring for me today. The redwoods here are not the extremely old ones you see in some places in California.

Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, CA

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
12/30/2016 2.5 miles 51 minutes

Map: Maps were available at the trailhead
Parking: See book
Directions: Hike #24 in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles San Francisco. We extended it a little by doing the full loop.

We originally planned a longer second hike for the day, but I felt like we’d have to push harder in order to do one. My body was tired, so we chose a short hike (more like a nature walk) that we could do at a relaxed pace. This hike felt more like a hike on the east coast. It was forested and green. The tree and shrub varieties are different than the east coast of course. This hike had limited views – we did get one view of Mount Diablo. I think Glen enjoyed this one more than I did.

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, CA

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
12/30/2016 6.5 miles 2 hours 16 minutes

Map: Park maps are available at the trailhead.
Parking: See book
Directions: Hike #21 in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles San Francisco. We included a quick stop to the cemetery at the end of the hike.

As we drove up to the parking area, we saw a herd of sheep on the steep hills next to the road. We stopped to look, and noticed a border collie moving them. Lucky dog! We also met a friendly man hiking with an elderly rescue border collie. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable hiking near cattle with my dogs.

We saw a few people on the trails near the parking lot, but once we got started, the trails were quieter. We did come across cattle on the trail again. None of them acted aggravated by us, but I still find it disconcerting to walk towards 1200 pound animals blocking the trail and staring at you. They also had their young. So we got off the trail and hiked around them to give them some space.

This hike had a variety of terrain, which is nice. It had great valley views. We saw some joggers jogging uphill (envious because I was panting hiking uphill). I didn’t take any Naproxen today and my hip was doing pretty good. I could feel some rubbing/inflammation on my outer hip, but it was mild. This park does have a number of unmarked trails. We did find some of the trails confusing (despite having a map), but did end up going the right way. I think we also added a loop (on purpose) to extend the hike. At one point, we were really confused about where we were and asked a couple of locals to confirm where we were on the map – they told us, but turns out they were completely wrong! Eventually came to a marked trail junction and figured out where we were - which is right where we were hoping to be.

We saw a lot of what I’m guessing are gophers on this hike. Fast moving animals which live in holes in the ground.

We've encountered a lot of muddy cow trails during this trip.