Patient Wild Woman

Patience, patience, patience.

Patience My weekends since the holiday began have been busy with baking, family time and all those wonderful INDOOR things.  Now, the next few weekends are full of visiting with family and friends.  Don’t get me wrong, I will still hike out on the weekend mornings.  Someplace close by, easy and quick (aka – been there, done that).

I once heard that the secret to being patient is doing something else in the meantime, so I took my family out for a one mile jaunt the other day.  My hubby had a sore back or I would have pushed for more mileage.  Here is our family photo.  I need a selfie stick and dogs that know how to pose for photos .


My long hike on the AT is a few years away, so I am concentrating on getting outside for shorter hikes.  I’m finding it harder to go.  Why?  I know why.  It’s winter, it’s cold, I’m bored.  The short hikes are nice, but I want longer ones!  I want to set up my tent!  I want to cook over my pocket rocket.  I wanna go backpacking in the woods!  Wahhhh!  Okay, that’s out of my system.

This Christmas I received a set of Frogg Toggs rain gear.  Pink jacket, black pants. Love it.  Will I take it with me in 2020 on The Trail?  I dunno.  Maybe? I also received a titanium spork.  Will I take it with me?  Probably. Dunno.  My brother gave me a cute hiker girl ornament for my tree.  I don’t think she’ll make the gear list.

It’s not easy for me to be patient.  Especially when I see others readying their packs for the 2016 thru-hike. (Shout out to my friend, travelshell!) I know it’s not my time yet.  I have a plan.  There are so many places I want to hike first.  So much more experience I need before undertaking such a feat.

So, here I am, cheering all you 2016 thru-hikers on to Maine or Georgia (whichever way to want to go.)  I’ll bring out my notebook, studiously taking down all the how-to’s and do-not-do’s.  I’ll put all your knowledge to work on my thru-hike in 2020.

Chasing Waterfalls

I hadn’t worn my boots in over a week.  It’s funny how I began to miss them!  My name was sitting on a “waitlist” for a hike to chase waterfalls in a nearby State Park.  I checked my phone for alerts every half hour hoping my name would be put on the “confirmed” list.  I woke up at 7:00 a.m. the day of the hike and saw that I was finally confirmed.  Enough people had backed out, clearing a spot for me!  Jumping out of bed and scaring the dogs, I hurried to shower and pack my backpack.

The December day was forecast to be in the 60’s and nice.  I was looking forward to being outside and among friends on the trail. Stepping outside it was foggy, damp and dreary – it did not look promising.  Driving to the park it began to sprinkle.  It still felt more like an April day than a December day, so I carried on.

The group was beginning to assemble at the meeting point and it started to rain harder.  People were changing their RSVPs to No every couple minutes and before we knew it, we had only 14 people instead of 25.  The rain was putting sour faces on most of us, but no one backed out.  We all hoped it would stop soon and lucky for us it did.

Fog was still settled below.

We were chasing down a number of waterfalls in the park and since there hadn’t been much rain, except for the little that fell early in the morning, the waterfalls were only trickling.

Our leader, Chuck took us past interesting old ruins of park infrastructure.  IMG_20151213_094706730The park was built in the 30’s and many of the old stone incinerators and mysterious buildings remain.  A few took us a minute to figure out what they might have been used for.  I still don’t know what this large dog house building would be.  It had no floor – only mud, trash and a large pipe running through it.IMG_20151213_101037986




We eventually chased down a few waterfalls. Not very exciting this time of year with no water rushing over them, but beautiful, just the same.

Just a trickle.                       I swear there is a waterfall here.IMG_20151213_115515109



IMG_20151213_093813748Chuck said this one wasn’t on his list, but it was flowing better than any of the other waterfalls!



There’s a teeny tiny waterfall in the middle of this picture.  It didn’t make Chuck’s list either.


This hike felt different to me than any other so far.  I was talking to everyone, breathing easily and having so much fun.  My feet were even smiling in my boots!  There were a couple of challenging, steep inclines and I was glad I brought my hiking poles.  They sure do come in handy.  Chuck had us walking in the creek bed in order to view another waterfall.  The creek bed was SLIPPERY!  Those poles saved me from getting wet!  So did Ali – my happy Drill Sargent was there lending a supportive hand and motivational words whenever I needed it!

At the edge of the park there was a marker engraved with the name, Cliford Robert Pettis, State Forester.  Of course, I had to “Google” his name!  Turns out he was named the “Father of Reforestation” and was the New York State Forest Superintendent from 1910-1927. Seems this man was responsible for the planting of 20,000,000 trees in New York State.  Here is a website if you want to learn more:


Nearing the end of the hike we were climbing and climbing.  My heart was beating out of my chest!  My face was RED!  I reminded myself that this is why I am in training for my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  As long as I am still breathing I will get through it!  I concentrated on my slow even breathing and setting small little goals.  For example on one steep section of trail I concentrated on different shape rocks ahead of me and told myself to get to that one rock, then the next rock, then the next weird looking root, then the next bright leaf in trail.  Sometimes these goals were only 2 feet apart, but it worked!

Luckily the last steep climb landed us right at the parking lot near our cars.  I quickly caught my breath and we said our farewells.  My muddy boots and poles needed a little TLC.IMG_20151213_120944591

“Gorge”eous Day for a Hike

The Applachian Mountains were created by nature over 295 million years ago.  The Niagara Falls first plunged over the rocks a measly 12,000 years ago.  The gorges created by Niagara Falls appeared only 5-12,000 years ago.  It is difficult to believe there was a time so long ago that places like this in nature did not exist.

This past weekend I travelled to Niagara Falls, New York to hike in the gorge.  I live about 45 minutes from one of the Seven Forgotten Natural Wonders of the World.  I admit, I found I have taken it for granted, and “forgotten” I lived so close to such a beautiful place.  I hate that I did that.  If you have never been, please do!

Driving into Niagara Falls State Park you can see the mist rising above the Falls from miles away.  I carpooled with Travel Strong (aka Shelley) to the meeting point near Devil’s Hole.  Right away we walked down a few steps and left the trail to find a cave.  Rumor has it those entering the cave are cursed!  Needless to say, I did not go in the cave.  But here is a picture!


We all made our way further down, down, down to the bottom of the gorge.  Approaching the Niagara River I could see the rushing water and felt my heart beat faster!  rapids 2 There were brave fishermen on the rocks.

The path was narrow in places and very rocky.  Shelley informed me that the Appalachian Trail in Vermont was very rocky.  I joked with her that I would skip Vermont!  It was actually fun scrambling over the boulders, but I felt like I was moving in slow motion.  The other hikers in our group seemed so agile and energetic and I felt like a Weeble wobble. Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down!  Shelley didn’t know what a Weeble wobble was…here is a picture.

Weeble wobbleI played with these as a kid, now you know I’m old.

The gorge has some very unique rock formations.  I learned that the trail we were hiking used to be a trolley track!  If you don’t believe me, here are two pictures.

Gorge TrolleyGorge rock

Same rock, just 80 or 90 years later!  Crazy!!!  It is so neat seeing something like this.  They shut the trolley down because the constant rock slides tearing out the track became to costly to keep up.  I’m glad or I would not be able to hike here today!

After carefully making my way over the boulders we came to an area called “the flats.”  Obviously, a flat rock area that provided a spectacular viewing area of the river and gorge.  We lingered here for 15 minutes, I think the hike leader knew I had to catch my breath!

me looking at watertheflats2


There were so many stunning pictures!


We continued to through to the Whirlpool Trail to the very end of the trail.  Or so it is supposed to be the end of the trail – our fearless leader led many of our fearless hikers onto the “forbidden trail!”  I chose to stay behind with a group of others.  I know my limits!  This isn’t really a trail at all and brought you extremely close to the rushing rapids on very slippery rocks.  Not for the faint of heart!

Forbidden path - Copy - Copy

Shelly trying not to kill herselfOf course, Shelley the daredevil, who can’t have a hike where she doesn’t have a near death experience, walked right in the river!  I am glad I didn’t see this when it happened (photo courtesy of another hiker) or I would have had a heart attack!

Our group all reassembled in one piece thank goodness and turned around the way we came, but this time we headed up the high trail, away from “the flats” and boulders on a less rocky path.  We came to the bottom of the stairs of the Whirlpool Trail.  There is approximately 300-310 stairs, depends who is counting.  The picture I took shows the gradual incline of the first few stairs.  Then the stairs become more like a ladder.  Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the incline is much steeper.  I did not get a picture of the nasty part of the stairs, because I was trying to breathe.

Stairs that tried to kill me

I let all the others go a head of me, but Ali (a former correction’s officer) and Shelley stayed with me, making sure that I had their support all the way up!  Ali was like a happy Drill Sargent!  She gave me small goals to achieve along every step of those stairs.

Shelly always is my motivator!  She cheers me on and even at one point pushed me from behind – It helped!

As I approached the final flight of stairs, our fearless leader called out to me and was cheering me on and encouraging me up the last steps!  I couldn’t dream of a better group of people to hike with!

After catching my breath at the top of the stairs, there was more to hike!!  We made our way on the trail above the gorge back to our cars.  Spectacular views from above!

stunninggorge         powerplant

I slowly and easily made my way to the parking lot and caught up with the group.  I then discovered – I WASN’T LAST!  There was a small group behind me!  It amazed me that I wasn’t the only one they were all waiting for!

Every time I go out hiking I get a little more experience, a little faster, and a little more confident in my strengths and ability.

groupshot The gang at the Trolley Rock.