Ice Climbing School

Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) offers a variety of outdoor classes in New Paltz, NY, or the GUNKS.  While I literally have a strong desire to take every single one of them, I figured I’d start with the Ice Climbing Fast Track, consisting of Winter Climbing 101 and Ice Climbing 101. So, I signed up without any real idea of what I was getting into. What follows is literally the coolest, craziest shit I’ve ever done in the 27 years I’ve been alive and I am not exaggerating.

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His First Camping Trip…in 8°F!

Up until I hiked the Appalachian Trail, I had only one friend that enjoys hiking and camping outdoors (or at least had the equipment to do it).  While I now have a few outdoorsy friends, most of them live pretty far away so I’m basically still in the same lonely position. Don’t get me wrong – I love camping alone, but you can’t beat a campfire with some good friends in my opinion.  So, I’ve been bugging two of my friends – Tim and Matt – to get some basic gear in the hopes that they’d come camping with me for nearly a year now. Well, Matt finally did and we had actually scheduled our first camping trip for the first weekend in March. I even convinced Legs and Verge to drive down from Massachusetts to join us.

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Devil’s Path

My co-worker Steve and I set out this past weekend to conquer the Devil’s Path in the Catskills.  Known as the toughest day hike in the northeast, the trail stretches 24.4 miles from east to west and boasts 9,000 ft of elevation gain over 5 peaks.  Steve and I hoped slay this beast in 2 days.  Instead, a stupid mistake forced us to walk away with our tails between our legs after just 4 miles…

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Expedition Training

Well, it’s been a while since I posted anything and a lot has changed concerning my climb of Mt. Hood in early May.  First off, Princess Peach and I have since switched to Mt. Shasta, an active volcano in Northern California.  The main reason for this is that neither of us will have the technical experience necessary to climb Hood in time – something I learned in my first Ice Climbing class in upstate New York.  Shasta via the Avalanche Gulch route, however, is still quite a challenge – about 12 miles round trip containing 7200 feet of elevation gain with a summit above 14,000 feet.  This is a true alpine endeavor and one that should not be taken lightly.

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Back in January, I had been dealing with a few minor injuries and sicknesses so I desperately needed a weekend outside. I continue to gently pressure a few of my friends from home to obtain the necessary equipment to go camping with me. However, until that glorious day arrives, I usually have to travel solo on weekends to find some adventure. I recently  made the lonely 5 hour drive up to the small town of Gardner, Massachusetts for an action packed weekend with Legs and Verge (and their parents – Goldberry and Bombadil). The highlight of the weekend (besides seeing two of my favorite people) was summiting Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire during a small blizzard.

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How I Ended up in Colorado

I’ve been battling commitment to a location for some time now. Since graduating college in 2010 I have worked in 4 different states and lived in 8 different houses. The number of jobs I had during that time is even larger. My initial move to Maryland after graduating was to be closer to a girlfriend. After that was over, I had no real plans so I moved out to Ohio for a bit with the intentions of joining the Peace Corps. I passed the interview and was assigned a region but ended the process mid way through my medical assessment because I enjoyed my job working for the National Audubon Society. Eventually I found the water treatment industry (which I now have about 3.5 years experience in) and left Ohio to be closer to family and friends (also chasing a girl).

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Kawartha Highlands Traverse

An account of my four-day solo canoe trip through Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, Ontario from October 26-29th.

Day 1:

               Pulling up to Little Turtle Lake, I step out of the car and take a couple deep breaths of the crisp, fresh air that I would be surrounded by for the next four days. Under a bright sky of mixed clouds, the shoreline of the lake was splotched with the green of the conifers and the yellow, red, and brown of the deciduous trees, already a bit past their peak of autumn colour. Continue reading Kawartha Highlands Traverse

The most important item in your backpack.

Despite what instagram wants you to think, thru hiking the Appalachian Trail isn’t all gorgeous vistas, sexy hikers, and smiles. It’s also blisters, bruises, cuts, and eating terribly. And as far as I’m concerned, the worst part of hiking the trail (besides having to go home at the end) is chafing. On the trail we try to sugarcoat its crappiness by giving it fun names like monkey butt or pack rash, but when it comes down to it, it’s friction against your skin that causes it to rash up and get crazy sensitive and makes you want to stop moving, which can really put a damper on your mileage. Continue reading The most important item in your backpack.

What’s Next?

Well the Appalachian Trail is over…so what’s next?  Rather than pursuing other long distance hikes, such as the PCT or the CDT, I’ve set my focus on climbing some real mountains.  Long term, I’m shooting for Mt. Rainer, Denali and Aconcagua, but you have to learn to walk before you can run.  So, short term I’m focusing on indoor and outdoor rock climbing with the goal of climbing Mt. Hood in Oregon early this summer.

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Why Hike?

‘Why hike?’

To most, it is a logical question. Why indeed would somebody want to spend months on end walking, day in and day out, towards an almost unfathomably far destination. On such a trip, the destination cannot be the sole reason for hiking. Reaching Katahdin is too distant of a goal to sustain the mental fortitude required on a journey such as this.

If you talk to thru-hikers about their daily experiences on the trail, many responses would include pain of some sort or another, whether that be blistered feet, aching joints, or pinched shoulders under the weight of the pack straps. If some hikers deal with nearly constant pain throughout their hike, what on earth keeps them going, covering more ground everyday? Continue reading Why Hike?