Mud, Bones and What am I doing????

I personally love the feeling of walking in mud.  It’s squishy and soft and makes the grossest sound as you pull your foot out of a deep mud puddle.  I love it!  After a heavy downpour the trails are made of slippery, chocolate brown mud!  Mud doesn’t stop me!

While hiking, one periodically comes across unusual things.  Recently, after an uneventful 2 miles or so I noticed the decomposing leg of a deer had been draped on a tree branch.  GROSS!  Of course I took a picture because I’m morbid.  I won’t put it here, but if you want to see it (you sick, sick person) I won’t judge you, just send me a message!

It was a bonus unusual day.  Off the trail about 50 feet was a little white cross. Someone must have buried their pet in the woods.  Or was it the remains of the deer and someone put a cross over it. I decided to admire the cross from trail just in case whatever was there wasn’t completely buried!

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Shelly and I didn’t waste anytime getting away from the decomposing bones!

Hiking with different people I don’t know, I generally ask them, “How do you spend your time outside of hiking?”  Almost always, the answer I get is, “Work.”  Well, besides that!?  Next the answers are about their children or grandchildren, pets, education and travel.

When I am asked that question the first thing I want to tell people is about my family.  Dave (my husband) and Carl (my son) are my most favorite people!  My two golden retrievers are great hiking buddies, too!

Another hobby I enjoy is hand crafting homemade greeting cards.  I have a room in my house dedicated to my stamps and crafts!  I also love Halloween, cooking and reading everything I can about the AT.

Truth be told, I really just want to talk about hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I want to talk about my gear, maps, books, planning – YOU NAME IT!  My hike may be 3.7 years from now (or maybe sooner if I can manage it) but I eat, sleep, and breathe the AT.

I’m planning a trip to Gatlinburg, TN in late April and plan to visit many trails there.  I had made a promise to myself to not hike any of the AT until I started my thru hike.  I wanted everything to be new on the trail.  Now I have a chance to go to Clingman’s Dome!  I should do it, right?  Or, should I not?  I should.  Maybe not.  Ugh!

In reality I should be focusing on planning and preparing for a backpacking trip I am taking to the Allegheny National Forest in ONE WEEK!  Shelly and I are spending one night on a trail out there.  I’m very nervous about putting up my tent.  I will be practicing it over and over in my yard this week!  I’ll be documenting my success or lack thereof!

As you can tell, it is Spring and I’m excited for backpacking season to begin.  I’m looking forward to wearing my heavier pack on some trails to get more accustomed to it.

Happy Trails and thanks for following my adventures in training for my thru hike of the AT!

Ice and Eskers

Woot! Another double hike weekend!  I need a t-shirt that says “Hiking is my religion.”  Being outdoors improves everything!  I took advantage of some mild weather this past weekend to visit a long time favorite park, Stiglmeier Park and a new park near Honeoye Falls called Mendon Ponds Park.

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Boardwalk in the meadow where we saw the Red-Tailed Hawk.

Saturday morning was pretty cold.  I’m trying to thicken my skin so I didn’t back out of the hike in Stiglmeier Park.  There was a new group to meet, Creation Exploration.  The group met in the parking lot of the park and I asked about needing micro-spikes on the trails. The leaders both said, “No, I doubt it.”  Well, the entire trail was complete ice.  Note to self and others, when leading a hike always hike a little of the trail before everyone gets there so you can be aware of the trail conditions to inform your group how to prepare.  Ugh.  As we were sliding on the ice, one of the leaders smiled and said to me, “Should have worn your spikes, huh?”  Okay, strike one.

We were walking the Seneca Trail and we were looking for wildlife! This was a slow paced walk through very flat (but, icy) trails. Some of the animals and birds that made an appearance were: White-Tail Deer (a nice sized buck!), Mallard Ducks, Red Tail Hawk, Cardinals, Black-Capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Juncos, Downy Woodpecker and some cool tracks of little critters.  There were probably others, I just don’t remember.

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A mouse probably made these tracks.

We had a super view of the Red-Tailed Hawk swooping over a meadow and again hovering and diving down to catch some lunch and then again it was flying through another meadow.  Birds are amazing, especially birds of prey.  They fascinate me.

The group was small and some of us were new to the group. Everyone was nice enough, but since we didn’t know each other it was a little stiff.  When I saw the Red-Bellied Woodpecker and pointed it out there was a man that didn’t believe me because it had a red head not a red belly.  Well.  Okay.  But then another man in the group confirmed my call and the guy believed him just fine!  Strike Two.  Moving on then!  They don’t get a strike three. I don’t need that.  I kept my mouth shut the rest of walk.  It was still a nice walk in a beautiful park.  This was not challenging at all, except for the people part.

The weather on Sunday was AMAZING!  It was forecast to reach 60 degrees and I think it was a bit higher than that.  It is so nice to be able to hike in the snow while wearing just a fleece on February 28! We were hiking Mendon Ponds Park with my familiar Day Hikes group.  The trail we took was the East Esker Trail.  There were only 6 of us on this hike and I do enjoy small group hikes.  I can really get to know every person and we are like a little family on the trail.

My friend Shelly (check out her blog at: http://livingonthedirt.com) hiked along with me.  I was so glad she was there.  Hiking up a hill, she commented that I was really keeping up and what a long way I’ve come so far.  It made me feel terrific.  Even I noticed that the hills weren’t so tiring as they were on past hikes.  Like they say, the more you do, the better you get!

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Take a photo of the map with your phone. Very helpful if you don’t have a printed version.

You are probably wondering what “Eskers” are in my title.  I learned a little bit about glaciers on my hike to Mendon Ponds.  Eskers are a winding ridge of sand and gravel that are very long and remind me of walking on an old abandoned railway embankment. They are created when streams flowed under and within glaciers.  It is a little more technical than that so I’ve supplied the wiki address if you interested in learning more.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esker

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Learning about the Esker we are hiking on from our group leader.

Shelly brought along her new camera.  She will have to leave a comment below as I don’t remember what kind of camera it is.  The pictures of my rear end came out lovely as usual.

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X marks the butt.
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About to get my butt over this tree in the trail. Same day, removed my fleece because it was so warm!

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You can see how the trail conditions changed during our hike.  Lots of snow and ice then it changed to mud then back to ice.

This hike was moderately challenging for me, it would have been more challenging if Shelly and I were alone because she marches me up the hills!  Since we were with a group we stopped frequently and took pictures.

I made the final decision to not sign up for the Finger Lakes Trail Cross County hike this year.  Too many of the dates conflicted with vacation and other events.  Instead, I hope to backpack by myself or with my son in Alleghany National Forest or other places this Spring and Summer.  This coming weekend my husband I are visiting Downtown Buffalo for a little City getaway.  I hope to visit Tifft Nature Preserve to get my outdoor time in.

Thanks for tuning in to learn about my adventures in training for my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.  Until next time – Hike on!!