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Archive for the 'Sarah' Category

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.

Panoramic view to the north

View to the south

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.

Easy hiking through birch trees

You can see how cold Sarah felt

Snowy moss



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.

Rocky trail

Panoramic view — worth viewing large

Unidentified building

Big rocks, part of the trail

Delaware Water Gap


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.

Hiking into the sun

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

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.


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.

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.

Taking in the view

Panoramic image of the view (view large)

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.


Solitary tree

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

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.

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.

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.

Rocks line the trail

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.

Not the most helpful sign


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.


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.

Getting closer to the edge

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

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


Mistakes could be costly

Another view of the gorge

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.

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.

Sign explaining the Boulder Field

Boulder field

Looking at the boulder field


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.

Wilkes-Barre, PA: First impressions

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Last weekend, Sarah and I went to Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we are moving, with the primary goal of finding a place to live. We flew to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre airport (by way of Chicago), rented a car, and got in to our hotel room late Friday night.

Scene at O’Hare International Airport

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport

“Meditation Room” At W-B/Scranton Airport

Saturday morning, we woke up and I peeked out the window to get my first glimpse of the area during daylight hours. I saw a bunch of chain stores, and mountains in the distance. Pretty damn cool, since I didn’t really get to see the mountains at all the night before.

First glimpse of Wilkes-Barre

To get to our appointments, we had to drive across town on 309, one of the major roads. This gave us some great views of the city and surrounding area.

Wilkes-Barre, as seen from 309


Bridge across the Susquehanna River

We spent Saturday touring apartment complexes and rental houses and calling others to attempt to find something suitable. Frankly, it was pretty frustrating. Even the apartment complex we thought would be a pretty safe bet turned out not to be a good option at all. Some houses were decrepit, in bad neighborhoods, or both. In the process, we did get to see a lot of the area and got to know our way around a little bit. We were mostly interested in living in Kingston, a smaller borough right across the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre.

A Kingston neighborhood

Looking toward Edwardsville, and the mountains

Looking down on the valley from the top of a hill

We also spent some time in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Someone painting a mural



Osterhout Free Library

Inside the library

Another shot inside the library


The square, downtown

Around Town Bicycles

Bike Shop Parking Only

We eventually found a good place to live in Kingston — we’ll be renting half a duplex, 3 bedrooms, two stories, plus basement and attic, and a small fenced yard for the dog. All for the same price as the 2-bedroom apartment we have now.

The front of the house. Left half is hours.

Back yard (fence to be completed, debris cleared away)

Our neighborhood

We also managed to go for a couple of drives in the mountains while we were there. The fall colors are a lot further ahead there than they are here. One drive included a precipitous gravel road up the side of a mountain, with some switchbacks and quite steep sections, and even some rocks forming small rock gardens in the middle of the road — driven in our rented PT Cruiser. Man, that car sucks. But it survived. And we only nearly hit a couple of deer.

View from near the top of one mountain


An industrial complex nestled in the mountains — strange juxtaposition

Driving through the Endless Mountains

We only got a small taste of the beautiful country in the area, but it’s certainly whet my appetite. I’m excited about cycling there, but some of these roads are just incredibly steep, for a long time. I’ve got a real challenge cut out for me.

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