Saturday, November 24, 2018

Charcoal Burners/Cabot/Perkins/Fahnestock Trail Loop, Fahnestock

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/28/2018 7.5 miles 3 hours 35 minutes 791'

Map: NYNJTC East Hudson Trails
Parking: See directions

We haven't been to Fahnestock for a while, and decided to go back and do this hike. We've done this hike several times, and its a favorite for us. It has a lot of variety - ponds, a therapeutic riding center, farms, and a stream.

Dogs must be leashed when you pass by the therapeutic riding center. And shortly after that, there is a farm. Today there were cattle in the pasture this hike walks by. Trek was on leash at that point, and luckily he is well behaved and didn't aggravate the cattle. At times he looked very interested in them, and at other times, he avoided eye contact. After walking around the pasture, we were walking through a field - and found ourselves approaching cattle who must have escaped their pasture. They watched us, but didn't bother us.

The first pond - overlooking a farm in the background

Approaching the stable

We had to walk quite close to these guys. 

A great spot for swimming. Which he did, despite it being cold.

Friday, November 9, 2018

PA Appalachian Trail - Section 4 - Furnace Shelter to Port Clinton Railroad Station

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/21/2018 6.3 miles 3 hours 13 minutes 938' 30:37

Map: Appalachian Trail Guide Pennsylvania
Parking: End car at Port Clinton ballfield (near railroad station). Beginning car at Hawk Mountain Road.
Directions: Furnace Shelter to Port Clinton Railroad Station

I didn't sleep much last night. I still need to learn how to sleep when backpacking, lol. I was cold for the beginning part of the night. I got warmer later on. Trek was restless, he doesn't know where his spot is in the tent. I guess that takes practice. I'm thinking I should get him a dedicated sleeping pad, and clicker train him to lie down on it. So he moved around a lot. At least he wasn't cold like me. It rained overnight too. It was hard to get up in the morning. I hate being cold. I didn't want to leave my sleeping bag. Glen does much better than me, and packed up all of his stuff quickly.

It was easy peasy to get the Ursack off the tree we tied it to. And I managed to get Trek's backpack down by myself. Yahoo.

No one was sleeping in the shelter, everyone was in their tents. So, I went to the shelter to cook breakfast. Cooking from your tent is not considered good practice, but I can see why people do it. It would have been sooooooo much nicer to cook breakfast while hanging out in my sleeping bag. I adore my sleeping bag. I even use it at home sometimes in the evening if I'm chilly. I get cold really easily. Sitting in the shelter cooking, I felt miserable. Just not warm enough. I threw a blanket over Trek, which he didn't like. Warm food for breakfast helped. I had packed 2 partially used fuel canisters for this trip. I ate breakfast first. Glen at first said he didn't want breakfast. the time I finished breakfast, all the fuel from both canisters was gone. Oops. Glen pulled out his oatmeal to eat. Ack. Luckily he was fine with just eating energy bars. My phone wasn't happy with the cold either, despite me putting it in my sleeping bag last night. I couldn't take many photos today, because my phone kept dying.

Oh Trek's kibble doesn't make good food for backpacking. His kibble is really small, and he's a pretty sloppy eater, so he spills his kibble all over. And then I have to pick it all up, so as to not attract wildlife for future backpackers. I think feeding him larger dog treats would have worked better.

Once hiking, I warmed up and felt fine. I was happy to get back to Port Clinton. I think I might be a fair weather backpacker. There are some more tricks for staying warmer at night, such as sleeping with a Nalgene bottle filled with boiling water. But waking up and getting out of my sleeping bag is tough too.

Today, we finished the state of Pennsylvania. That means 8 out of 14 states completed on the AT. Next year, we will finish Vermont.

Trek is wondering why I threw a blanket over him

This is just weird. There aren't any paved roads around.

Approaching Port Clinton railroad station

Thursday, November 8, 2018

PA Appalachian Trail - Section 4 - Hawk Mountain Road to Furnace Shelter

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/20/2018 11.7 miles 1,566'

Map: Appalachian Trail Guide Pennsylvania
Parking: End car at Port Clinton ballfield (near railroad station). Beginning car at Haw Mountain Road.
Directions: Hawk Mountain Road to Furnace shelter

We only had around 15 miles left in order to finish the Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail, so we decided to do this on our way back from Virginia. I persuaded Glen to do it as an overnight backpack.  Although I really wanted to go backpacking, I was actually a little bit concerned due to how cold it would be at night.

We had contacted someone about parking, because we knew we couldn't park at the Port Clinton railroad station overnight. Actually parking there during the day might not be allowed either (we did do that once). We had tried to do this overnight trip earlier this year but were washed out. We had contacted a shuttle driver, and they suggested parking in the ballfield parking lot which is very close to the railroad station. The sign in the ballfield parking lot said no overnight parking on weekends. We did see a backpacker park there and leave their car (and it was still there when we got back, didn't get towed). We ended up parking on the road next to the ballfield.

The train station was giving rides this weekend on a steam engine train. There were soooo many people there, many taking photos of the train. We drove down the road, and saw another crowd in a field - they were also there to take photos of the train!

We drove to Hawk Mountain Road. There were a lot of cars parked there. We wondered why. Is everyone backpacking? This made me feel better - other people are going out - so I certainly won't freeze tonight, lol. The trail started out as a wide woods road with not bad terrain. We stopped by pinnacle rocks. This is actually where everyone was headed. There were soooo many dayhikers there. It's a great spot for watching raptors. There were so many of them - pretty incredible. There's a large area with a view - there must have been 50 people there. We took a long break. On the way out, we continued to come across tons of people, including large groups. The trail became rocky. Next was the Pulpit. The trail was still crowded.

We hiked to the Furnace Shelter and set up our tent. We had read in Guthook that the privy had a wasp problem. But when we got there, the privy was actually boarded up and there was a portapotty near the shelter. I guess there are enough woods roads that somehow they can get to it to service! This time we used a Ursack for our food for the first time. It worked great! Hanging a bear bag is hard, and when Glen hangs it, I usually can't get it down by myself, which drives me nuts. The Ursack is heavier than a bearbag, but it seems like an easier solution. However....Trek was carrying his food in his backpack. I decided not to stick his food in the Ursack, but to hang his whole backpack. So...we were still back to hanging....

It's supposed to be cold - around 40 degrees. I ate a warm dinner. We hung out in the shelter for a while talking to a thru hiker & a former thru hiker. They had a nice cattle dog with them. Trek liked it.

Trek has only slept in a tent once before. That time, Moxie figured out exactly where to lie down and was relaxed, versus Trek who didn't know what to do or where to lie down. I had a closed cell sit pad and a foam pad used in my backpack - I used both of these to provide insulation from the ground for Trek. He did okay, though he also tried climbing onto our sleeping pads at times. I'm not sure how good the sleeping pads are with dog toenails. I threw a fleece throw on Trek, but he didn't seem to need it. He was comfortable throughout the night - no shivering. Me on the other core was cold. With a 20 degree bag, and a sleeping bag liner which is theoretically supposed to give you many degrees of extra warmth and an insulated sleeping pad. Cold weather backpacking just may not be for me. But I still want to figure out how to do it better. One thing that was suggested, that I didn't try was putting a Nalgene of boiling water in your sleeping bag. I did sleep with my phone to preserve the battery, and my water filter.

Glen struggled with packing this time...his sleeping bag is popping out of his backpack.

Pinnacle Rocks. I only captured one bird, but there were many.

Pinnacle Rocks

Not sure why there was a pumpkin here...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

VA Appalachian Trail - Section 7 - Neighbor Mountain Trailhead to Thornton Gap

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/19/2018 5.1 miles 2 hours 32 minutes 994' 29:27

Map: Appalachian Trail Guide Shenandoah National Park
Parking: $30 for a one week pass to enter Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive (Neighbor Mountain Trailhead) and Thornton Gap (Panorama lot)
Directions: Southbound

Today the terrain was pretty good again. Shenandoah National Park has a reputation for having easier hiking. I wanted to hike longer today, but we were heading to Mechanicsburg, PA and wanted to get in at a reasonable time. No bear sightings today. No views today. More ticks today.

We passed the Elkwallow Wayside while hiking. We decided to stop by on our way out of the park. I've heard so much about the blackberry milkshakes they have in the Shenandoah National Park waysides, that I want to have one! The store was open, but no milkshakes. Sigh. Mostly unhealthy food.

We have stayed in Mechanicsburg before, and knew that Wegmans was a good bet for dinner. We are doing a two day backpack in PA. Nights have been getting cold. I'm worried about Trek staying warm. We went to Walmart. I bought him a foam sleeping pad, figuring I could cut it down. However, it was too unwieldy. It didn't fit. I also bought a fleece throw for him. I pack for my fears. The first time Glen and I backpacked on or own, it got down to around 40 degrees and I froze. This time I have a sleeping bag liner which is supposed to add additional warmth to my 20 degree sleeping bag.

VA Appalachian Trail - Sections 6-7 - Mount Marshall Trailhead to Neighbor Mountain Trailhead

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/18/2018 12 miles 5 hours 38 minutes 2,057' 28:09

Map: Appalachian Trail Guide Shenandoah National Park
Parking: $30 for a one week pass to enter Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive (parking area between North Marshall Mountain summit and South Marshall Mountain summit), and Skyline Drive (Neighbor Mountain Trailhead)
Directions: Southbound

I took 2 Aleve last night and I feel much better. The terrain was quite nice today. This time we entered Shenandoah National Park from a different entrance (not the northern one). The highlight of the day was that we saw a bear cub 150' in front of us on the trail. This is the first time Glen has seen a bear while hiking (we usually see them from our car). The bear took off once it saw us. We didn't see any mama bear. Glen made lots of noise after seeing the bear, but he was sooooo happy. Seeing a bear while hiking is something that has been on his bucket list. Trek (who was on leash) didn't care about the bear. Trek has been getting lots of ticks out here. Most of them we find before they attach.

We headed back to A Taste of India for dinner again.

Where we're headed

Glen's I just saw a bear look!