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2008 in review

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Thinking back on 2008, it must have been the most eventful year of my life. Here’s a rough outline of major events in chronological order — some good, some bad (I’ll do a separate post with riding highlights soon).

  1. Found out that my riding buddy, Dave, had a wreck and injured his spinal cord (he is recovering very well, and is back to riding the trails)
  2. Got engaged
  3. Had my wisdom teeth removed
  4. Celebrated Sarah’s graduation from grad school
  5. Took a trip to North Carolina and Virginia, to explore some job possibilities for Sarah.¬† While there, I was hit by a car (which then “ran”). I had some scrapes and a broken/dislocated finger, which still hurts sometimes (it happened in June). Then our car broke down. We did manage to see some beautiful sights while we were there, but the trip was pretty much a complete bust. Sarah did not get either job. Actually, we thought she was getting the one in Virginia, and just as we thought they were going to make an offer, they told us they had a hiring freeze, and could not fill the position.
  6. Got married
  7. Moved to Pennsylvania, since Sarah found a job here. I kept my job, and have been working from home.
  8. Found out I’m getting laid off from my job. December 31 (tomorrow) will be my last day.
  9. Took steps to form my own company providing Web development and other services. This is the first I’ve mentioned it on the blog, I’ll say more later.

Christmas Hike 2008

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Last year, Sarah and I hiked at McCormick’s Creek State Park, in southern Indiana, with my family. That day was unusually warm, at 47 degrees — I wore a sweater, for a hike on Christmas day!

Well, it looks like the Christmas hike is becoming a tradition. This year was a lot different, as it was just Sarah and me, and here in NE Pennsylvania, we had snow and ice to contend with. We both were (and still are) sick, but it was great to get out anyway.

We went down to Nescopeck State Park, where mom and I hiked when she came to help us move in. Sarah and I had never been there together. We decided to hike the Creekside Trail, and now that we have done a little snowshoeing, we felt confident enough to bring the dog with us.

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Rob

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Sarah

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Snowshoes

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Wide trail, mountains

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Creek

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Another view of the creek

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Rob, running alongside the creek

The trail was wide and easy for a while. It had snowed, warmed up, and then re-froze, so there was a fairly thick layer of ice on top of the remaining snow. It was very slick, but no real problem with our snowshoes. The crampons dig into the ice and have a very strong grip.

There was one thing we hadn’t counted on, though, that caused us some problems: with all the melting snow came some flooding. Parts of the trail were underwater, and we had to find a way to cross the water where it wasn’t too wide.

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Flooding

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A thin layer of ice hovered above the water

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Wide creek

Sarah found a good way to cross flooding in a couple of different places. She was a really good sport about it. We managed to step over/through the water without getting wet.

We reached a point where we were ostensibly supposed to continue in the direction we had been heading. However, the arrow pointing to the Creek Side Loop in that direction had been painted over, and there was no trail visible. We had to instead head back on the Fern Trail.

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What happened to the trail on the left?

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Another view of the creek

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The icy/muddy/slushy Fern Trail

At one point as we hiked, Rob was clearly watching some kind of animal. Eventually a rabbit jumped up and Rob took chase. He didn’t catch it, but it was good to see Rob acting like more of a dog (he normally just lays on the couch).

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Rob, stalking a rabbit

Shortly thereafter, we saw some tracks that I can only assume were bear tracks, unless there was some kind of bow-legged guy with weird boots hiking there previously. Can anyone confirm this?

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Bear tracks, maybe?

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Fern Trail

After a while, the Fern Trail reconnected with the Creekside Trail, and we headed back toward the car.

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Creek

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Sarah and Rob

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Another creek

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Back at the car

We really enjoyed our hike, despite the flooding problems and disappearing trail. I hope we can keep the Christmas hike tradition alive, as it’s a great way to celebrate the holiday and spend some quality time together.

Frances Slocum Snowshoe Hike

Friday, December 26th, 2008

On Sunday, Sarah and I went for our first snowshoe hike together, at Frances Slocum State Park. The park roads were snow-covered, so we did not venture down the big hill to the lake. Instead, we decided to hike a portion of the Deer Trail. Sarah wasn’t feeling too well, so we only did a short hike.

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First steps, and a big smile

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Shadows

Some other hikers had already gone through, some with snowshoes, some without, so we were not blazing our own trail. We saw a group of hikers without snowshoes and they were doing OK, but the snowshoes definitely worked to our advantage, especially in a few tricky sections. Unfortunately, the trail was not well marked and we got off track. We eventually found our way, although there was one section of trail we never did find. As we were wandering around, a couple of deer bounded across the trail ahead of us.

We made our way down to a beautiful creek. The rocks were covered with snow, but water was flowing through the creek, leaving bits of snow sticking up here and there.

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Looking down at the creek

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The wind blows snow down from the trees

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Trail

The creek crossing was tricky, and Sarah was not amused. However, she did a great job and I think secretly had fun doing it.

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Sarah, crossing the creek

The trail more or less followed the creek for a few minutes. We reached a footbridge and decided to turn around.

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Me

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The creek

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Bridge

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Another view of the creek

We lost the trail for a few minutes, and blazed our own. It’s a lot easier to have off-trail excursions like this when there’s a bunch of snow on the ground. You can walk right over a lot of debris, shrubs, etc.

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Rocks in the creek

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Our own trail

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Sarah, smiling during the creek crossing

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Creek icicles

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Light

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Curly root (taken by Sarah)

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Sarah, a near sunset behind her

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Frances Slocum Lake

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Stairs

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours in the snow together. Sarah did a great job her first time  snowshoeing, and I enjoyed my second such outing.

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