Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Starting Out

The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, Part 7
Sunday June 27, 2010

The Plan for Day 1: Hike a little over a mile to a campsite above Spring Run. Set up camp and wait for Leo, who would be leaving from work and coming in a separate car. Get a good night's sleep for the big day Monday.

Journal, 5:35pm - Depart parking area on the Powder Magazine Trail. This late in the day it's still very warm and muggy. Forest canopy is fairly open with lots of sun coming through. Trail has some rocks and roots but not bad at all.

I had a lot of thoughts running through my head as we left the parking area and set off on the Powder Magazine Trail, the first section of the Pinchot Trail system. The overriding feeling was excitement, but there were certainly touches of worry and doubt. What if it rained as much as the forecast suggested it might? What if I couldn't keep up the pace and slowed my companions down? What if I was not physically up to the challenge at all? What if I could do it but ended up not having nearly as much fun as I expected to?
The bad thoughts quickly melted away as we began a gradual climb away from the parking lot. within 100 yards we met a woman and two children coming back down the trail with baskets of fresh wild blueberries. The berries were much smaller than grocery store berries but looked delicious, and I chose to take that as nature sending me a positive sign. As it would turn out, these would be the only people we would see on the trail the entire trip.
My pack fully loaded with 3 liters of water weighed in at around 32 pounds, and the feel of it took a little getting used to. It was a new experience for my shoulders, my back, my legs, and most noticeably for my balance. My center of gravity was definitely different, and I found myself hiking bent slightly forward to make up for the pack pulling me backwards. It made me very conscious of how I stepped over and around things, and where I was putting my feet. This would become second nature quickly, but was an alien sensation at this point.
The sun was still fairly high in the sky at this time of year, and the forest canopy was not very thick, so a good amount of sun was filtering through the trees down to us. It was warm and humid, but there was a decent breeze as we neared the top of the hill. The trail itself was narrow, and had some rocky patches and a lot of roots, but was not difficult, either in steepness or in footing. Because of the thin canopy, there was a very thick understory of ferns, mountain laurel, wild blueberry and all manner of other shrubs and grasses. The trail was only 12 to 18 inches wide in most places and the undergrowth often arched in over it so that as you walked you were brushing your way through the knee-high or thigh-high leaves as you walked. Everything was dry so it felt fine.
Journal, 6:20pm - We reach the Pittston road, a dirt road, and follow it for a little while before going back into the woods on the Sassafrass Hill Trail. Almost immediately we cross Spring Run and climb a very short distance to an obvious camp site.
After 20 minutes or so, we had climbed north up a small hill and turned right to descend down the east shoulder. We came to the Pittston road, a dirt and gravel forest road that we turned left and followed for a hundred yards or so. Finding the double orange blaze marking a trail turn, we turned right off the road onto what was now named the Sassafrass Hill Trail and almost immediately came upon Spring Run, the small stream that meant we were approaching our campsite, and would serve as our water source for the night.
The stream seemed to pop out of the ground at the foot of a small boulder patch, and reminded me of streams I have seen when hiking around Hawk Mountain. When you stand on top of the boulders, you can hear the water splashing under and through the rocks below you, but it is several feet down and you cannot see it. In the rocky ground, the water has long since washed away all the soil, and there is nothing left but the heap of rocks that the stream now flows under. It was a very peaceful sound.
My first thought on seeing the water in this little stream was "we're going to drink that?" I know we have micro-filters and UV bacteria killers, but the water didn't look all that appetizing. Not horrible by any means, but certainly not crystal clear mountain spring water. However, as Leo would later remind me, we used to drink water straight from the streams that ran through the golf course near our homes when we were kids, and this was in the 1970's when god only knows what was in the fertilizer and pesticide runoff. A good point, but still...
Next...we make camp.

Geocaching Through the Poconos

or, While I Was in the Neighborhood
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, Part 6

Normally, this would warrant a better post, but I am anxious to get to the detailed write ups on the hiking trip...

Dave and I had the time available to do a little geocaching while we were on our way to our hiking trip, so we left about 4 hours earlier than we would have needed to and grabbed caches in a number of counties in Pennsylvania that I hadn't gotten before.

We started with a single cache in Exton near home so that we had a nice baseline before travelling a distance, and then got the ones shown on the map as black squares.

Beginning where we got off 476 at 80, there are 2 in Carbon county, then 2 in Monroe, then 2 in Wayne, then 2 in Pike, then 1 in Lackawanna, then 1 in Luzerne, then doubling back and ending with 1 in the picnic area of Lackawanna State Forest (in Lackawanna county) where the hike would be. The final one is the one N/NW of the label "Locust Ridge".

As a history buff, one cache was especially interesting; it was magnetic and hidden under the front left fender of an M60A3 tank displayed outside a pubic building in Gouldsboro.

After finding the last cache in the picnic area of the state forest, Dave and I headed to the trailhead...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day of Departure

or, What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 5

I'm packed, packed again, and then packed again. There's nothing left to be done now. I'll be heading to Dave's house to pick him up in a few minutes. We will be geocaching a bit along the way so that I can get as many of the counties in the northeastern part of the state as possible. That should be terrific fun in its own right.

The weather forecast in the hour-by-hour on weather.com isn't great. Starting late tonight there is a decent chance of thunderstorms off and on straight through until the wee hours of Tuesday morning. In other words, the entire day of our bigger 14-mile day on Monday. Oh well. Hopefully, we will get a scattered shower and nothing more. It doesn't matter, I am mentally prepared and will have fun no matter what. Fun no matter what. Fun no matter what...

To say that I am excited would be the understatement of the year. It feels a bit like Christmas morning.

Lots of pictures and writeups to follow.

Bon voyage!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Packing the Bag

or, All This Goes in That?
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 4

Having become the new best friend of both EMS and REI, with a bone thrown to Dick's Sporting Goods every now and then, I have accumulated quite a bunch of gear. It didn't seem that impressive a pile of stuff when I was buying it in bits and pieces, but all laid out together on the floor of my home office, I had a momentary surge of panic when looking at the pile and then looking at the backpack it was theoretically going to fit into.

Taking some time to group things together, put them into stuff sacks, arrange them in a logical order and then test fit them into the pack proved one thing. I either needed to edit a little bit, buy a bigger pack, or hire that Sherpa after all.

Back to the drawing board. Most of the bigger items are non-negotiable, but the small items really add up in space and in weight. There were some items that might be nice to have but not necessary. Out went a bunch of extra clothing. As Leo succinctly put it - you are hiking 24 miles in the moderate heat and you are going to stink. At the end of the day, put on your second set of clothes, rinse the first set in the creek. Repeat the next day. One set of clothes on. One spare. A camp piece or two. No more than that. No extra food, just the meals and snacks you plan to need. There is no chance of being lost in the arctic wilderness for days on end when hiking in Pennsylvania in June a few miles from roads. If you get that desperately hungry, drive to a restaurant.

That helped a lot, but there was more that could be done. Every list of what to bring has sunscreen on it. I don't wear sunscreen at the pool, so my chances of needing it in the woods were pretty slim. Out goes the sunscreen. Leo is bringing bug spray. Out goes that. Dave is bringing his GPS, so mine stays home. We need one small first aid kit, but are unlikely to be triaging a bus load of people after an epic disaster, so that can be thinned down some. The Swiss army knife stays, the heavy little multi tool goes. Headlamp stays, heavy little flashlight goes. Camp towel goes. I can air dry, or stay wet.

At this point, I felt good for a second go at packing the bag, and amazingly enough, everything fits beautifully, and with room to spare.

Now that everything was in the bag, it raised the inevitable question "so how much does all this weigh?" Weighing myself without the pack, and then with it, it weighs 26 pounds without water. Water weighs 8.5 pounds per gallon, and I will be carrying a maximum of 2.5 liters, so call it 6 more pounds. That will put my fully loaded pack at about 32 pounds. Not ultralight by any means, but not bad. And it doesn't feel that heavy. The weight distribution of the highly padded hip belts and shoulder straps does feel good.

I have to admit that getting to this point feels a bit anticlimactic. I have nothing left to do but ponder the possibilities of excessive heat, thunderstorms, blisters, sore back, snakes, and every other nasty thing an idle mind can conjure up. But I am very excited, and I can't wait to hit the trail.

A Little Gear Shopping

or, Just Give Me One of Everything
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 3

Armed with a small library's worth of information on what is needed on a modest overnight trip, but with the intention of borrowing as much stuff as possible, I did realize that I would need to buy a few things of my own.

Leo had an extra sleeping bag and an extra backpack which he offered to sell to me at a steep "friend discount". Both were very nice pieces and the price was right so I said I'd take them. But then I got to looking at packs some more, researching things, reading reviews, and kinda liked the idea of picking my own gear from scratch, so next thing I knew I had bought a Gregory Baltoro 70 pack at the local EMS store. It is very highly rated for comfort and range of features, and comfort was a strong selling point with me. Leo's extra sleeping bag, a Phantom 32 from Mountain Hardwear (800 fill goose down), is absolutely beautiful and I did buy that from him.

So now I have a pack to carry my stuff in, and a sleeping bag to sleep in. Hmm. No shelter though. It seems everyone else would be bringing their lightweight one-man tents, so I guess I needed one of those too. Fortunately EMS was having another good sale, and the Velocity 1 tent was at a very good price, plus they would throw in the footprint for under the tent for free. How could I pass that up? And thus I have achieved shelter.

Pack, bag, tent. Check. But everyone recommends a sleeping bag liner to keep from messing up the expensive sleeping bag, so throw one of those in too. A Thermalite Reactor seems like a good choice. These are also useful in that if it is really warm, you can just sleep in the liner on top of the bag. Now, the ground can be uncomfortable, so a pad is recommended. Dave has an extra Thermarest pad...so good. Of course it might rain, so a pack cover can be important. Packs are water resistant, but not water proof, and having everything get soaked can make for a miserable night. So add a pack cover, for which the kind folks at REI were more than willing to sell me a Gregory 5000ci cover with which to protect the aforementioned Gregory pack.

Wow, that's quite a little pile of stuff I am accumulating, but I'm still not done. A man's gotta eat and drink. That means dehydrated food, water storage, water filtration... A Platypus 70 oz (2 liter) water bladder for my pack and a Nalgene bottle solve the storage part, and a Platypus CleanStream gravity filter will serve the whole expedition as a water purification system (in addition to what the others already have, but hey, I'm on a roll, and if you get in my way I'm liable to start throwing credit cards at you like ninja throwing stars). Dehydrated food packages; check. Clif bars; check. Gorp stuff (granola, raisins, nuts, dried fruit); check.

That covers the major stuff. Little things remained to be addressed. A little trowel to dig holes to...you know. First aid things. A headlamp to be able to see in the dark, especially if night time use of trowel is required. Hand sanitizer. Bug spray. An eating utensil. Oh my. Easy enough to buy all that...

It's probably worth mentioning that somewhere in between purchasing the large stuff and the small stuff, my wife was kind enough to remind me that I was to be borrowing most of the gear for this trip, and that I perhaps may have strayed from plan a bit. But all in all, I thought I controlled my spending pretty well. I haven't bought a camp stove...yet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


or, How Do You Do This?
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 2

With a destination settled on, the next question to be tackled was "how exactly do you go about doing this?" It's an interesting concept to a creature of comfort like me: carry everything you need with you on your back. Food. Clothing. Shelter. All without the ability to hire a Sherpa, although that would be nice.

Our plans for tackling this 24 mile loop are fairly conservative. Day 1 will consist of an afternoon arrival at the parking area, followed by a very brief mile or mile and a half hike N/NE to a campsite on the banks of Spring Run. Pitch camp. Wait for Leo to arrive, who will be coming from work in a separate car. Have dinner. Sleep. Day 2 is about 14 miles, hiking counterclockwise around the loop to an eventual campsite along the banks of Choke Creek on the west side of the southern loop. Day 3 is the remaining 9 miles or so to complete the loop and back to the cars.

We will be out for parts of 3 days, and 2 nights. We will need dinner on day 1, all meals on day 2, and breakfast and lunch on day 3. Due to the temperatures (expected to be in the 80's), the ability to carry fresh food will be limited most likely to dinner on night 1, so we will be carrying dehydrated food for the rest of the meals, along with many Clif bars and similar snacks.

The different types of equipment and gear needed are at first glance a bit overwhelming. Tent, sleeping bag, backpack, food, water. Beyond the basics you get into a whole array of possible secondary things like a ground pad for sleeping comfort, a sleeping bag liner to protect your bag, a rain cover for your pack, rain gear, water filtration, and a stove or some way of boiling water to rehydrate the food. And then there's more. First aid considerations, personal hygiene stuff, miscellaneous gear like lightweight rope to hang food out of reach of critters.

Fortunately there are a number of good online resources (EMS, REI, backpacker magazine among others) that have good beginner advice, checklists of suggested pack contents, etc. All of which somehow manage to take the list of possible things to bring from a bit overwhelming to downright head-spinning. Dave and Leo were also useful resources, having done some of this before, and had many good suggestions.

Clearly I would need to do a little shopping, but as I told my wife - the fact that Dave and Leo have most of this stuff will make it easy for me, and I can do this first trip for most the part with minimal investment of my own.

Boy was I wrong.

Plans for Camping

or, Eric Gets a Woodsey
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 1

I have been excited about the prospect of a real camping trip for some time now, probably since I started day hiking with Dave and Leo back in the fall of last year. Not car camping, which is fine in its own right, but backpacking, where we would be carrying everything we needed in our packs and sleeping out in the woods in tents. Time tends to fly by and some of these goals get away from me, so I sent an email to Dave and Leo and said that we should set aside time and make concrete plans to do something. My compatriots were game, but the soonest we could schedule was for a few days at the end of June (this was a month ago), so we got the dates on the calendar and began discussing the particulars.

Both of them had some excellent ideas on where to go and what to do. Old Loggers Path, a small section of the AT, and some hikes out in the Michaux state forest beyond Gettysburg were all mentioned. Since they have camped before and I have not, I had a few specific criteria in mind for what I wanted to do and to accomplish on this trip. First and foremost, I wanted this time out to be about the camping part. To that end, I didn't want the actual hiking part to be overly difficult. For the first time carrying a 30 pound backpack instead of a 5 pound day pack, I wanted something that was a relatively flat and easy hike, with nice scenery, and something that wouldn't put us way out in the boonies on the unlikely chance that I really struggled with it. I spent a decent bit of time looking through various hiking books, and came up with something that fit the bill (for me) very nicely. Fortunately, Dave and Leo were both understanding of the limitations I wanted to put on things, and were very receptive to my suggestion. So we had a destination: The Pinchot Trail in the Thornhurst tract of the Lackawanna State Forest in Lackawanna county, southeast of Wilkes Barre, PA.

The Pinchot Trail is a 24 mile loop, roughly in the shape of a figure 8 that almost meets in the middle, but doesn't. The northern part of the loop is about 10 miles with the remaining 14 miles in the southern loop. It is a hardwood forest with many open meadows, and large stands of spruce and hemlock in the many stream valleys. Elevation change and therefore ascents and descents are minimal. Total elevation change is only about 400 feet, which wouldn't be an unusual eighth of a mile on the AT. The main parking area is in the waist of the figure 8, so nowhere on the hike will we be more than about 5 or 6 miles from the car. Water is very plentiful, with numerous streams being followed and crossed. In other words, for what I was looking for, it sounded just about perfect.

There is a brief writeup, with pictures, of someone's day hike of the southern loop here.

So, we had a destination. Along with which came the realization that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I would have a month to figure it out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sassafras River Fishing - June 22, 2010

This post comes a bit out of order, but the lead up to the backpacking trip pushed everything else out of the way for a while. On Tuesday June 22, my friend Maryellen brought her boys down to the River for an afternoon of fishing, like we had done later last summer.

The fishing wasn't quite as good this time around, especially since the day we did this last August was one of the best fishing days down there in recent memory, with a non-stop string of decent sized catfish all day long. Today, we were catching mainly white perch and bluegill sunfish, with a few catfish thrown in for good measure, but nothing of exceptional size.

Nathan and Jack wetting a line. Jack took the prize for most fish caught. Nathan didn't catch his first fish for a while, much to the amusement of his brothers, but did end up with a respectable handful of fish by the time the day was done.

Sam had the largest fish of the day, a channel catfish that he caught on a little Mepps spinner lure. Odd... catfish don't generally take lures, but I guess this one was bored.

What's a day on the water without food and drinks. For that matter, what's anything without food and drinks.

The gang hard at work.

A very nice afternoon, which I hope we can do again before the kids go back to school.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

James Taylor and Carole King in Concert, part 2


Wachovia Center, Philadelphia PA, Thursday June 10, 2010
The Troubadour Reunion Tour
The Concert
I got back to my seat partway through the second song, the CK classic So Far Away, having missed the artists taking the stage and doing the opening number, Blossom. At this point it was JT and CK on stage by themselves, and the sound quality was terrific - well-miked and crystal clear acoustic guitar and piano, with excellent vocal mix. The applause at the end of the second song was thunderous, and many of the middle aged and older crowd were standing. This would be typical of the rest of the show; standing O after standing O from perhaps the most appreciative crowd I have ever seen at a concert of any type.

The rest of their band joined them for the third song, Machine Gun Kelly, and consisted of Danny Kortchmar on electric guitar, Lee Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums. These same three were the band for the Troubadour shows in the early 1970s that the reunion was based on. JT's joking introductions of them were spot on - Kortchmar looks like Al Pacino, Sklar looks like Old Man Winter, and Kunkel looks like Mr Clean. There was also an additional keyboard player at times, and 3 backing vocalists.

Carolina in My Mind was up next, followed by Way Over Yonder, Smackwater Jack, Country Road, Sweet Seasons, and a terrific version of Mexico that had the older crowd dancing.

The set list was really well constructed. JT songs and CK songs were mixed nicely, softer songs with more up tempo stuff, duets with larger group harmonies. One other nice thing that they both did that you don't often get at shows it seems, is a lot of banter between songs. JT proved to have a very dry sense of humor, and was very funny in an understated way, and CK was very bubbly and energetic. All the more impressive I guess in light of the fact that he is 62 and she is a hard-to-believe 68. Both were very talkative, and it was very nice to hear the back stories about the events of way back in the day, background of songs, and all that. Generally you seem to be lucky if you get "Hello Philadelphia!" and "Thank you! Good night!".

Song of Long Ago, Long Ago and Far Away, Beautiful, Shower the People, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman rounded out the first half of the show. Natural Woman was one of the highlights of the first half, with CK belting out the vocals in impressive fashion, even if she is no Aretha Franklin.

After the first hour and 20 minutes of music and then a 15 minute intermission, the artists took the stage for the second half. Where You Lead, Crying in the Rain (a song I didn't know but really enjoyed) and Your Smiling Face kicked off the second set. JT then told the story of writing the next song as a cowboy lullaby for his nephew, Sweet Baby James.

Fantastic song after fantastic song, and many that we all knew by heart. As the night wore on, I had the feeling, more so than at concerts for bands that I have a much greater love for, that I was fortunate to be at this event with a pair of absolute legends. It's hard to attempt to put into words, but there was just something magical in the air, and it certainly seemed like the rest of the crowd felt it too.

Jazzman was next, followed by Will You Love Me Tomorrow, a CK song that I would have to say now ranks of one of my favorite songs of the moment. Great melody, great lyrics, great song. I had a hard time believing that I heard it right when CK said that this song was the first song that she co-wrote that became a number 1 hit...at the age of 17!!! Kinda makes me feel... I don't know... like an underachiever!

A hilarious version of Steamroller followed. The band managed to do a fine job at the song while JT was also having a good time spoofing an older white guy playing the blues. The back story on this one was funny as well; he said he and the band wrote this at a time when everybody wanted to play the blues, and that it took longer to play the song than it did to write it.

The second set ended with a string of classics: It's Too Late, Fire and Rain, I Feel the Earth Move and You've Got a Friend. Amazing stuff. I kept thinking that it couldn't get any better and then it did. Song after song each better than the last.

The band left the stage briefly, the crowd went nuts, and they came back with a CK song made famous by the Drifters, Up on the Roof, followed by How Sweet It Is. All the accompanists and backup singers took their bows to a thunderous standing ovation, and then made their way off stage, leaving JT and CK seated on stools at stage front, where they sang a hauntingly beautiful duet of You Can Close Your Eyes with just JT on acoustic guitar.

The ovation as they took their final bows was as loud as anything I have heard at a concert, and went on so long I almost thought they would have to come back out, but then the house lights came up and the crowd obediently quieted down and made their way to the exits. 2 hours and forty minutes of music; 28 songs. I still get a chill thinking about how much I loved this concert. The quality of the musicianship was outstanding, the songs were one classic after another, and as I said earlier, there was just something magical about the whole night. I was fortunate to have been there, and will treasure the memory of it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

James Taylor and Carole King in Concert - June 10, 2010, part 1

The Troubadour Reunion Tour, Wachovia Center, Philadelphia

If Amparo were to draw up a list of concerts she would like to see, I think that James Taylor would probably be number one on that list. So, when the Troubadour Reunion tour was announced with both James Taylor and Carole King, and with Mother's Day fast coming up on the calendar, getting a pair of tickets seemed like a good idea.

Well, Mother's Day came along and it turns out that getting these tickets really was a good idea. Mom was thrilled.

The stage set up was in the round, and knowing the Wachovia Center very well from our days as Flyers season ticket holders, I was pretty sure that being 11 rows back, lower level, on the curve would be good seats. That would certainly prove to be true.

In the weeks leading up to the show, I took some time to acquaint myself with some of Carole King's music. This was helped immensely by the release on CD and DVD of the actual reunion show at the Troubadour theater in LA that gave the tour its kickoff and its name. James Taylor needed no refreshing necessarily, but King's music did. I always knew she was one of these singer/songwriters who had written lots of familiar music even if her name was not perhaps as well known as it should be (at least with younger post-60's and 70's generations), but I had no idea the exact degree to which this was true. It turns out I barely knew the tip of the iceberg of what there is to be known about her. If you want to be impressed, go to King's wikipedia page and prepare to be blown away. She has countless awards, records and accomplishments to her credit, perhaps the most impressive of which is having had a hand in writing 118 Billboard top 100 hits. Yes, 118.

Soon enough, the night of the concert arrived, and with another 40,000 expected for a home Phillies sellout, along with 20,000 or so for the concert, we left plenty early. Traffic wasn't bad, and we were in our seats at 7pm for a 7:30 show. Our seats were excellent, although Amp would've liked to be in the cafe seating surrounding the stage. Hey, who wouldn't?

At about 7:30, which was billed as showtime, it was obvious that they weren't going to be quite on time, as there were stagehands still getting the instruments ready and milling about doing various things. Then something very interesting and unexpected happened: a man and his wife showed up with tickets in our row. In fact, they had tickets for our seats. The exact same seats we were already sitting in. Oops. I had my pdf printouts of my tickets. He had his pdf printouts of his. Same night. Same section. Same row. Same 2 seats. We chatted a bit, obviously confused. I was sure my tickets were good, as I had bought them myself direct from the ticket service overseeing the tour, and having gotten the email of the tickets direct to my home email. He said he had bought his tickets through a ticket agency downtown (it is a big-name reputable place whose name isn't important). I think I heard him say that he that he had paid twice face value for his tickets, which would have put his at $250 each. He went away for a little while and came back with an usher who checked our tickets, and then left, returning a few minutes later with a customer service supervisor.

So, unfortunately, with the show due to start any minute, Amp got to stay in her seat while the rest of us trudged off to the main customer service station to clear things up. I was never worried whether our seats were genuine because I had bought them from the tour's ticket vendor, but I was concerned how long and complicated figuring it all out would be. Luckily, within a matter of a few minutes, the ticket manager was able to verify through their website purchase records etc that my tickets were genuine and that the other unfortunate gentleman's were counterfeit. Apparently his were good enough fakes that he and his wife were able to get into the building. His other friends couldn't get through the main entrance with theirs...

As the sounds of the artists taking the stage reverberated through the building, I was happy to be on my way back to my seats, but sorry for the guy who paid $1,000 for 4 seats only to find out that they were fakes. As I made my way back to my seats, I overheard the ticket manager explaining to the other couple that they would have to leave the building, as they had gained entry via tickets that were now known to be counterfeits, but that they could go to the main box office and buy tickets for the show, if any were still available.

...to be continued (with the actual show)...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Out and About on D-Day

There is an overnight backpacking trip in the offing, but that is a story for another post. As to how that effects this, well, there are new hiking boots in my possession. Boots that perhaps require a bit of breaking in. So despite the fact that these new boots are a Father's Day present from my girls, and technically I shouldn't be receiving them for another couple weeks, I put them on (with proper spousal approval), laced them up, and set out on a brief Sunday morning hike. I chose a portion of the Rocky Run Trail, adjacent to the Darlington Trail that I have hiked earlier. In addition to a nice easy walk, I could pick up a few geocaches, which is never a bad thing. In order to clear out the last few caches in this park, I hiked two different little sections. As always, cache locations are black squares and parking spots are orange squares.

Overall, I was very happy with the boots. They are Merrell Moab mid GTX boots, which are very similar to what I already have, but are mid tops with a bit more ankle support than the low tops I have now. They were extremely comfortable right out of the box, and were light enough that I pretty much forgot I was even wearing boots instead of my usual trail shoes. For our trip coming up, I don't have "new boots" concerns. I have lots of other concerns, but not about the boots...

After getting back to the house and hanging around for a while, there wasn't much going on, and Grace mentioned going geocaching, so I decided on a spur of the moment road trip with my two little geocachers. One of the more recent manifestations of my geocaching obsession is to collect as many counties as possible in the state of Pennsylvania. A quick look at a map showed that we could hop in the car and be in Lancaster county in about a half hour, so that's exactly what we did. We went out Route 1 to Oxford, then went west on 272 until we got to Little Britain township, where we made 3 finds in Lancaster county. With a couple hours of time to kill, and feeling ambitious, we headed west on 272 and then 372, and in the picture below we are crossing the Susquehanna River on the Holtwood bridge on the way to York county.

In the picture below, my two little cachers are posing in front of the Holtwood sign near the Lock 12 historic site.

...and here is historic Lock 12. I do love old stuff, and this well-preserved lock was fascinating to me. I am still amazed at the narrowness of it. We did pick up a cache within a hundred yards or so of here, which crossed York county off the list, but to oversimplify it to that level would be misleading. One of the great things about geocaching, as I have said before, is that it gets me and the girls to places that we probably never would have gone without the extra impetus that geocaching provides. This would be one of those places, at least for them. Hiking Kelly's Run across the river will bring me back at some point, as it is a favorite of Leo and Dave.

One last site that amused the girls on the way home - Octorara reservoir. They didn't think passing over this little lake was a big deal until I told them that Octorara reservoir is the primary source of water for the Chester Water Authority, which pumps water out of this impoundment, processes it, and then pumps it to, among other places, our house. So my girls have now seen their drinking water, which they thought was pretty cool.

Another unexpectedly fun and adventurous day! So I think that's about 6 counties done and 61 to go. Wow, that's a lot of work left to do!