Can you smell it?

11 10 2012

During a weekend of rain, when there’s a break in the weather, we usually make a mad dash for church.


Last weekend church service was on Saturday. Not wanting to be shot by bow hunters, we set out for a trail a bit more separate from our usual spots.

The leaves are just beginning to change around here, but there are plenty on the ground and the recent rain had started to help them rot.

Can you smell it? If you are from the East Coast or have the privilege of living near a deciduous forest, you know just what I’m talking about.

Besides Barnegat Bay at low tide, nothing on earth beats the smell of decomposing oak and maple leaves. My opinion, of course.

Like a typical church service, this one lasted about an hour — just long enough to rejuvenate us and prepare us for the lazy Sunday to follow.

Bits of Winter – Part 2

17 04 2011

Many a snowy hike were had this winter, all without snowshoes (although, I wish I had a pair). I actually perfected the art of not slipping through the snow crust by the aid of my trusty Keen boots.

You see, they are so wide that they actually distribute my weight across a wider platform, preventing me from sinking through – so long as I’m making my own tracks (that goes without saying, if you know me). I play a game with myself to see how long I can go without stepping in someone else’s footprint. Hey, when you hike as much as I do, your mind begins to wander.

Aside from enjoying the glimmering snow among dormant deciduous trees, snapping way too many photos of my dog romping through the winter wonderland,

It's a hard life

and dreaming of riding the trails under the white blanket, my winter hikes allowed me to scout out some hidden climbing spots for the coming season. What I found:

  • A perfect bouldering area buried 2 miles in, with a luxurious carpet of puffy moss at its base.
  • A short, but technically challenging top roping wall that could have about 4-5 nice routes. Some bushwacking required.
  • Another wall of quartzite that looks fun to climb, but seems to have a sketchy base area.

All that dreaming of climbing got me back into the rock gym after a several-month hiatus. My regular climbing partner has had some scheduling issues, so I was so happy to have a couple of sessions bouldering with Aleya of Rock and Sky. We had a great time at Earth Treks, with me learning tons just observing Aleya and others climbing much harder routes than me. I enjoy climbing with new people, and got over my anxiety of venturing into the bouldering cave instead of hanging out in my usual top rope area. I haven’t gotten any of these while hanging from a rope:

Nice flapper

Sucky photo (it’s hard to take a pic of your right hand when you’re right-handed), but it was a pretty nasty flapper. Although, I’d willingly suffer more of these to have a climbing gym closer to my house. I despise the 50+ minute 0ne-way trip to the gym.

In all, this winter was awesome – filled with all the things I love to do to stay off the couch when it’s cold: snowboarding, hiking, traveling, hanging out with friends new and old.

Lost & Found: One Eggbeater

30 06 2010

Someone had a sucky day on the trail. I found this one smashed in the mud next to a creek bed. Hope they were parked somewhere close!

Summertime Goals

5 06 2010

Seems like it was only a few months ago when I was posting about summer being off to a raging start. Well, it was, and it flew by. I didn’t get to the beach as much as I wanted, spent too much time on yard work, and made one too many business trips.

Not this year.

I’ve decided to set some (pretty ambitious) goals for this year in an attempt to get back to enjoying my summers to the fullest. Was that sentence oxymoronic? Planning ahead to be carefree. Yeah…so, back to the goals:

  • Spend at least 2 weekends per month at the beach
  • Attend outdoor music events: Reggae Wine Fest 7/17, Naukabout Music Festival 8/7
  • Join PATC and stay in Wineberry Cabin at Shenandoah National Park with Melissa & Bob, July or August
  • Attend the Trail House’s outdoor climbing clinic, July or August
  • Hike every Sunday (that I’m not at the beach) and at least one day during the week
  • Enter at least one 5K race
  • Rent a big house with a group of friends at Deep Creek or similar
  • Mountain bike more
  • Gather the gang again for a cookout and Patio Ping-Pong, July or August

We’ll see how this goes, but my experience has been that if I create a written list of goals, the simple act of writing it down and putting it into the universe makes them materialize.

I run a business and have so much going on each day. So, my true goal outside of work is to live the most unfettered and simple life as possible… Isn’t that what everyone wants?

Happy Summer!

Swampfoot and Pee Crumbs

9 06 2009

The last weekend in May included biking on Saturday and hiking on Sunday – pretty typical of the season for us. These weekends are coming at us fast as the summer begins, so it seems like I’m already starting to play catch-up on my recaps…

When I first started mountain biking I fell. A lot. It was mostly due to me getting used to my pedal clips, and falling over because I couldn’t get a foot out fast enough when I stopped pedaling through a rock garden or my quads quit on me going up a hill. Needless to say, I ended up with some pretty interesting bruises that made for nice accessories to my summer attire.

I hadn’t fallen since last year – until last Saturday. It was a stupid fall, too. One of those where you’re left thinking, “How did I even do that?” We had just left one of our rest stops, Rattlesnake Rock, when I was slowly pedaling and about to clip in my other foot. Before I knew it I was tumbling over, landing with my right ankle pinned between my bike frame/chain ring and a hefty root, with my body weight moving the rest of my leg even further toward the ground. “Great. I’m going to break my ankle falling from a standstill,” I thought. Once I hit the brush with my shoulder, though, I was able to pull my bike and legs up with my left hand to get the weight off my right foot. The only thing injured was my ego. Of course, I had a bruise, lump and bloody cuts on my shin to go with it.

It’s little shit like that, that frustrates and distracts me during the rest of my ride. I need remember to “shake it off” just like my dad used to tell me when I’d hurt myself fishing or hiking with him as a kid. So as I rode on, I admonished myself to start wearing my bumps and cuts as trophies of days spent doing something I love. In fact, later that day we went to the Maryland Brewers SpringFest, where I wore shorts proudly showing off my purple and green shin and ever-present “pedal slap” bruises on my inner knee.

The last half of our ride still remaining, we set off from Rattlesnake on the rolling, technical (what else is there around here?) trail ahead. I had eaten a small breakfast and was starting to get tired. Not wanting to be defeated, I sucked it up and kept pedaling, but I knew that we would come to the spot where the trail crossed a fire road. I also knew that the Mr. didn’t like the climb on the piece of trail across the fire road, so I made a plan to ask him if we could wimp out and ride the road for the last third of our trip. It was when I stopped to ask him this that I plunked my left foot down into a 6″ deep mud puddle. Hence, swampfoot. Swampfoot dried pretty quickly, so I didn’t have to worry about getting blisters or anything.

Swampfoot, post-ride

Swampfoot, post-ride

I was immediately disappointed in my choice. The road was much tougher than the trail would have been, and it was becoming apparent that my 800-calorie workouts from the week had caught up with me. I grunted my way up one long hill, to the next shorter one and a car rumbling up my ass. We made it to the gate where one of our favorite pieces of singletrack resides, and I knew I was almost finished. I contemplated heading to the truck instead of following the Mr. It was so close! He encouraged me to keep going, and I was glad I did. I left feeling an accomplished sweaty mess.

The Brew Fest was fun. I was a happy girl, downing blueberry beer samples and a fresh crab cake sandwich in the company of good friends, live music and a nice breeze.

Wanting to further explore some of the new singletrack being cut in our local riding area, we set out Sunday morning with Emily and Rischie. What we found was the cushy-ness of a fresh, new trail that will probably only last this season before it’s tamped down enough to become hard and packed. The new section of trail made up the first half of our hike, twisty and windy with a few obstacles and mini rock gardens. I’m really looking forward to riding this one. We followed the trail to its end at the road, crossing it and picking up an existing trail that the Mr. rode a few times years before I started riding.

Old Beetle on the aptly named Volkswagen Trail

Old Beetle on the aptly named Volkswagen Trail

The second half of our hike would complete the loop and bring us back to our parking spot. The dogs had a great time chasing each other back and forth across the trail in front of us, occasionally herding us to move along with them over the small hills, dips and big flat boulders. Derby cracked us up, as usual, marking his territory so frequently that he wound up only letting out one or two drops each time. Emily’s personal dictionary dubs these “pee crumbs.” Totally fits.

We were out for a little over an hour and a half hiking at a good pace, and so felt we deserved to go home, put our feet up and eat some lunch.

Any Day on the Trail is a Good Day

18 05 2009

No biking this weekend, but got the requisite hike in with the furry child. My best girl, Emily (of Emilog), and her dog Rischie came along for some great company. While it was a little chilly – 60 degrees and breezy – the sun was shining and everything was green. We had a(nother) downpour last night, so there were tons of muddy puddles for the pups to crash through.

Dirty Rischie

Dirty Rischie

We came across a shrub/tree I’d never seen before. I’m thinking it’s in the rhododendron family because of the leaves and flower shape. So beautiful.


Mystery plant

Walking around the fire ponds near the trail head, my memory was tripped back to fishing with my dad as a kid. The smell of a flowering tree nearby was carried on the breeze, and I immediately recognized it as familiar. The sandy soil and the low berry bushes in the area always trigger my south Jersey senses, too.

We hiked for about an hour and the pups logged at least 3x the distance that Em and I did, chasing each other through the trees. Which explains why Derby now looks like this:

A Tired Derby

A Tired Derby

Any day on the trail is a good day, but next weekend will surely include me on top of two wheels.