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Archive for the 'Wind' Category

A rainy, pre-Thanksgiving night ride

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Last night, I wanted to go for a ride after work. There was hardly anyone in the office, and I left a bit early. This let me get a bit of an earlier start than usual, but I knew it was going to get dark during my ride. It was cool — in the 40s, and windy. So, I brought lights and dressed warmly.

As soon as I got outside, I noticed it was drizzling. I hadn’t counted on rain, but I was dressed warmly enough that I wasn’t too worried.

I rolled away from town, heading for some back roads. I got on Mount Gilead Road and the rain picked up slightly. It wasn’t raining hard, but the roads were wet enough to be rather slick. I rode my brakes down a big hill, and at one point I felt my rear tire slipping a bit. This is the second time this has happened; I think it’s time to get a new tire.

I reached the bottom of the hill and turned onto another road. I stopped by a creek to turn on my headlamp and take a few photos. I wasn’t sure if they’d turn out, as my point & shoot camera does not do too well in low light, but the gamble paid off. Actually, if anything, the photos look too bright.

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I cruised for a few flat miles, seeing a few deer along the way. Eventually, I had to ride on State Road 46. By this time, it was getting quite dark, and the rain had picked up. I was glad I had dressed warmly enough, and glad I wore my wind and rain-resistant cycling vest. I had many lights blinking but I was still nervous about this brief section of highway. It was over in a few minutes, with no problems.

I turned onto Friendship Road for a brief section of gravel, and stopped on a bridge over a creek to snap a few more photos. I’ve taken photos here several times before, but of course it looks different when it’s raining and nearly completely dark. My glasses kept getting covered with rain drops, I would wipe them off frequently, but it didn’t seem to help much.

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After a brief section of gravel, I turned onto Lampkins Ridge road for a long climb. By this point it was completely dark, and it started raining even harder. The climb seemed very long in the dark. It was hard to tell I was, or how much longer I had to climb. It didn’t help that a dog chased me; I always hate being chased uphill, and since it was dark, I couldn’t tell if the dog had stopped chasing or not.

I made my way back toward town, soon reaching Smith Road. From this point it was only a couple of easy miles home.

This was a surprisingly fun ride, given that it was cold, windy, raining, and dark. I loved it!

Indian Trail at Big Pocono State Park

Monday, November 24th, 2008

On Saturday, Sarah and I hiked at Big Pocono State Park. It was cold, with the high temperature for the day in the 20s, and quite windy — with gusts to about 30 mph. We felt every bit of it, too, as the park is at the very top of Camelback Mountain, and that is where we parked, completely exposed at around 2100 feet. The wind was so strong that it kept blowing the trunk closed as we tried to get ready for our hike. The road going to the trailhead was closed, so we parked in the main lot, I snapped a few photos of the views, and we started our hike.

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Panoramic view to the north

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View to the south

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The Delaware Water Gap is visible in the distance

This hike was also a gear test for my new GPS. I had one previously, but at some point it stopped working, and it never worked very well on my bicycle. The new GPS, a Garmin eTrex Venture, worked incredibly well. It gets a much stronger signal and seems to be more accurate than my old GPS. This will allow me to do some cool things like geotagging my photos, and posting maps of our activities. For example, see this hike on motionbased.com, or this interactive Google map:

View Larger Map

I have a lot to learn about that stuff, but I think it will make for some interesting ways of presenting photos combined with maps. Another fun way to look at it is in Google Earth. Here’s an example.


Google Earth view

Since this hike starts at the top of the mountain, there’s nowhere to go but down. It started with a smooth, gradual hike down the side of the mountain, and once we got away from the mountaintop and into the woods, we weren’t as exposed to the wind. Eventually we warmed up from the physical activity, but for the first 15 minutes or so we were quite cold.

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Easy hiking through birch trees

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You can see how cold Sarah felt

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Snowy moss

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Me

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Sky

The trail got perpetually rockier as we hiked. After a while, we reached the edge of a cliff, which the trail followed, quite close to the edge. This afforded us some great views of Tannersville below us in a large valley, with the Delaware Water Gap and New Jersey in the distance.

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Rocky trail

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Panoramic view — worth viewing large

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Unidentified building

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Big rocks, part of the trail

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Delaware Water Gap

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Sarah

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Precipitous trail

The trail turned back away from the edge, and now it was time for some climbing. The rock-to-trail quotient increased further. It was slow going, but we were having a lot of fun. The sun was getting low in the sky, the trees throwing long shadows, and we enjoyed the quiet and beautiful hike back up the mountain.

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Hiking into the sun

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The trail climbed this rock wall. If you look closely you can see an orange blaze on a rock.

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More rocks

We reached the connector trail that went back to the car, but we hadn’t had enough. We looked at the map and figured out a way to extend our hike by about another mile. It looked like it would be mostly flat, but there was still significant climbing ahead of us. In a way this was preferable as the more we climbed, the warmer we felt. And as the sun followed its downward trajectory the sky took on new hues.

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Climbing

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Looking back at Sarah, and the elevation we’d gained

We reached a power line right-of-way, and peering down we had a great view of the valley below us to the south. There was a small lake that appears to have been Mountain Spring Lake, and another, Trout Lake, behind it, and the whole scene was illuminated by nearly-sidewise rays of sunlight. I fought my way through a bush to get a good shot.

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Looking toward Mountain Spring Lake

A short while later I discovered that my efforts to find this clear view were not necessary. We found a vista, complete with a rock on which to sit, or stand. I stood atop this rock and gazed down on the land below, the lakes, the Delaware Water Gap in the distance, and who knows what, beyond that. I watched as the clouds caught the sunlight and refracted it erratically. I took a deep breath, drinking in this crisp mountain air, and held my wife close to me. It doesn’t get any better than this, peering out over the land in our new home, with my beautiful wife. When we lived in Indiana, we grew to feel a sense of ownership of the land. We were familiar with every twist and turn of many roads, the topography of the land, and many of the sights and sounds. I knew, standing here, that soon we’d feel the same way about this place. But more importantly, that we would discover this new land together.

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Taking in the view

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Panoramic image of the view (view large)

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An even better view, if you ask me

We had a little hiking left, but we were almost back. It wasn’t the longest hike we’ve done, or easiest, or the most challenging, but it was quite beautiful, and even more memorable.

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Sunlight

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Solitary tree

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Back in the parking lot; one last look to the north before heading out

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Sarah again. If she ever runs for office, maybe she can use this shot.

Skyline Trail and Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Sarah and I did some more hiking at Hickory Run State Park on Sunday. We hiked the Skyline Trail (a 3.4-mile loop), and afterwards went to see the Boulder Field, which is like a lake, only with rocks instead of water.

The forecast called for some possible drizzle, and as we ate lunch in the valley before heading to the park, it did rain a bit. But once we started hiking, rather than rain, a few flurries were falling. It was chilly and quite windy, with gusts hitting 30+ mph. The hike started by following the Fireline Trail, which we’ve hiked part of before.

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Fireline Trail

After a short time on that very wide trail, we turned onto the Skyline Trail, which is much narrower. We immediately started seeing some interesting plants that I would like to identify. If anyone knows what these are, please let me know. I have a wildflower book that’d probably tell me, but it’s still packed somewhere. I noticed when my hiking staff accidentally hit one of the plants that a cloud of white dust emanated from the plant. I’m assuming this was some kind of pollen.

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Unidentified plant

The trail was moderately rocky for a while, but it was clear that for this trail, they had at least attempted to clear a path for walking (unlike Saturday’s hike on the Pinchot Trail). Many rocks were cleared to the sides.

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Rocks line the trail

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One humorous rock

The trail was generally well-marked, which was essential since it crossed other trails at several points. However, one sign had us a bit puzzled and looking at our map and compass.

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Not the most helpful sign

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Creek

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Winding trail

We had been hiking across a ridge, and the trail descended a bit before turning to follow the curvature of the land, and climbing for a while. We got glimpses of neighboring mountains through the trees.

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Sarah

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Looking through the trees

We climbed higher, and inched closer to the edge of the mountain. The whooshing sound of the Lehigh River rapids below us was constant. The wind blew in strong gusts and now we were exposed. We were glad the wind was blowing us toward the mountain, rather than toward the gorge. At several points we could clearly see the Lehigh Gorge Trail, where I rode my bicycle just a few weeks ago.

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Getting closer to the edge

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Looking toward the gorge. You can see the Lehigh Gorge Trail, and the river

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Sarah by the gorge, looking “gorge-ous,” I must say.

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Me.

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Mistakes could be costly

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Another view of the gorge

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Sarah again

Eventually, the trail rejoined the Fireline Trail, and we had another view we saw before. The pine trees sure stick out, now that they’re the only thing green.

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Lehigh Gorge

We immensely enjoyed the Skyline Trail. It’s not too difficult, but excessively easy, either. It covers a variety of terrain, and it offers some fantasic views of the Lehigh Gorge.

After our hike, we drove to the Boulder Field. It’s a longer drive than I expected on some gravel roads. Just as we arrived, so did some other people, and they immediately walked out onto the rocks, severely limiting our photo potential. Oh well.

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Sign explaining the Boulder Field

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Boulder field

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Looking at the boulder field

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Sarah

It was another fun outing. Hickory Run State Park has a surprising number of trails (23, I believe), with a total length of 45 miles. We hope to hike all of them, eventually.

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