Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cheese Potatoes

I know I haven't updated in a while, but I felt now was the time to pick things up and move forward with my blog. Lots has happened but no point in rehashing the last few months (or however long its really been). So I'm just going to jump right in for now and update past events as needed. On the update note, my laptop keyboard is broken and the J, K and L keys don't work so there has been one big reason for now wanting to type. Having a bluetooth keyboard helps but didn't encourage me to do updates. I am just sucking it up right now until I can get a new laptop.

I made cheese potatoes the other night. These are one of my husband's favorite dishes from his family. In fact, I am pretty sure they can't do a Sunday night meal without them. Although he didn't really ask me to make them he did mention missing them but felt they were too much work to ask for. Actually they aren't that much work, but require a long baking time. So I did learn several things in making these for the first time (having watched his mother make them several times). One, non-stick spray is your best friend. Spray the pan, spray the foil and spray under the foil. Two, do not over fill the pan. I thought I had room for one more layer, but once I made the layer I realized I didn't have room but there was no going back. Three, spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray, cover with foil and spray the foil. Because I was too full in my pan, yes I boiled over but luckily I learned from watching his mom to have a catch pan and foil covered at that. Four, this takes a lot longer to cook then I thought it did. I thought two hours on 350F would be fine, but no, three hours would have been better and four would probably have been perfect. We are really looking for a nice crisp bottom and sides and everything to cook down a bit. Five, this takes a lot of milk. I made a small 9 inch pan and it took a lot of milk to cover everything in the pan. Six, sharp cheddar at the least and extra sharp would have made it better. Don't use medium, it just doesn't have enough kick to it. At least I can say I used enough cheese though. The potatoes were just dripping in it, more so than his mom's version. So while I have a few things to correct next time, I feel confident I can make these taste closer to the real thing. But then she has had years perfecting the recipe and I am just starting. Plus my husband will likely always be biased about this dish.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Barefoot Running? Why not!

My knees suck from hiking the Appalachian Trail. I have been off the AT for a few months and have been getting out of shape. So in an effort to try to get in shape and see if I can strengthen my knees I took up barefoot running. I have been told I should not run, but barefoot running is easier on the body and especially the knees. In an effort to give it a try, I had to give it a chance. I am using Vibram's FiveFingers footwear as a low profile footwear so I am not actually barefoot, but believe me when I say if you slam your heel or foot into the ground it will hurt. I am on a treadmill at the gym since the air quality isn't good right now for running outside. I started last week with a session with five sets of running alternated with walking. The key to running barefoot is to land on the midsole before allowing the toes and heel to contact the ground. The other key is to have a straight posture. Since I don't run and haven't, I really had no bad habits to break first. At this point it is a matter of getting in shape. At the end of that first session, the midsole of my feet was killing me, my calves were sore and my ankles were a little sore too. The next two days was probably the worst calf pain I have had in a while, but my midsoles were better as were my ankles.

So maybe I am a sucker for punishment but I had to keep going to see if this was something that would work for me. At this point after one session, my calves are really the only thing that hurt. Good news is my knees and lower back are fine. Not something I generally say after hiking. The next session I did about the same time and number of sets. This session was harder as my calves were still sore, but other than sore midsoles and calves, I was again fine. Yesterday was my third session and I increased the number of sets to six. The feet are recovering faster from the tenderness and the calves are not nearly as sore as the first time. So far barefoot running seems to be working for me. It is kind of fun as it seems easier to run this way, utilizing the natural spring in the arch.


Friday, October 08, 2010


We got off in Great Barrington, catching the bus out to Boston then flying back home. I had my knee looked at and after much back and forth, it was decided I needed to have a cortisone injection in the knee. Not very pleasant as the injection was basically on the bone. The next day it was extremely painful but has since gotten better. After a few hikes and a backpacking tip it looks like I am good to go back. I will head back to pickup where I left off the first thru-hike attempt while my husband will head up north for a couple of weeks to hike Maine before the weather turns back, then he will come down and join up with me.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Day 50: Hemlocks Shelter

A few weekenders were in the shelter last night and I got treated to popcorn and dried cherries. Good stuff. They offered to cook us breakfast too but we needed to move on since I have been going slow both up and down hills now. We had three big climbs to do today and needed/wanted to get an early start. The first climb wasn't too bad but the down was pretty bad. The second climb seemed find but ended up going on forever. It turned into a rocky summit with ridges. Good views but the ridges wore thin. We stopped in the camp area for water and got caught in the rain. A small thunderstorm rolled through but we hiked on as it was passing. The problem was we were close to the third summit when the second wave came through. It was longer and more intense. We ended up sitting on the side of the trail waiting for the thunder to pass. we then hurried over the summit but by then it was definitely breaking up so we stopped to enjoy the views.

We stopped 0.1 mi short of our goal. There are two shelters close to each other, but the second one sounded like party central. So we decided to stop at the quiet shelter. Tomorrow we head into Great Barrington and see about going home to have my knee looked at.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Day 49: Brassie Brook Shelter

8.8 mi

The climb out of the shelter was not fun but had to be done. We had about 4 mi to get to Salisbury for a light resupply and internet use. On the way to town we passed a lone rock pillar that people have walked around as the ground was clear. Turns out it was the Giant's Thumb. Strange what things the trail passes. We pushed into town going straight to the library. We are looking at options for getting off. We might be able to rent a car in Great Barrington. So that is our stopping point. Hopefully my knee only needs rest.

ST has been nice but strange. Almost none of the shelter sites have picnic tables. The tenting sites seem to have them all. The towns have been quaint but very pricey. The terrain has been getting rougher but we only just summited Lion's Head at 1738 ft. Pretty short mountain. The shelters and campsites have been reasonably spaced out until today where we passed two shelters and a camping area in the space of less than 2 mi. With another site in 2.2 mi. Tomorrow we enter MA!


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Day 48: Limestone Spring Shelter

12.3 mi

The bugs were pretty bad last night in the shelter. So much so that I put on some DEET before going to bed. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. Just to add to my list of woes, my left knee has been starting to act up. The worst part is that it isn't hurting where it normally does, this is a new pain. Mostly it hurts going downhill but today it hurt first thing in the morning and after each break. Like it had stiffened up with the lack of movement.

In the shelter log, many people mentioned looking forward to the shower at the Hydro plant. I wonder how many were disappointed to see just a showerhead on the side of the building, no privacy at all. We passed opting instead to enjoy the river and have some fun. I washed up and rinsed out my clothes a bit. It was a very nice break to the day and made the 3 mi push up to the summit go a bit faster. The 1/2 mi hike down to the shelter was ridiculous. We are camped out at the shelter waiting to see what the weather gods will bring tonight. We had some thunder roll past earlier and the temps dropped a bit.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Day 47: Pine Swamp Shelter

10 mi

I had hoped to make it the 2+ more miles to the campsite to avoid the swamp shelter, but alas, I just didn't have the miles in me. Today was a bit of a rough section both with rocky stretches and lots of ups and downs. We also got off to a late start this morning as we waited for the rain to stop. The thunderstorm was so close it was practically on top of us. With the two of us in the tent, we had some condensation issues so our bags had dank spots. The area we pitched it also wasn't level so we slide to the bottom of the tent and the footbox of my bag got a little damp. At least it stopped so we could pack up without getting wet. We are at a shelter tonight so we had a chance to spread things out to dry as well as set up the tent to dry.

We've been moving slowly mostly because of me and my various ailments. Looks like at this pace we will be finishing up around Christmas. I hope to get my trail legs soon so we can start pulling longer mile days but the further north we go the harder the terrain which slows me down. I hope I can catch up at some point.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Day 46: Stweard Hollow Shelter

7.3 mi

Another low mileage day but we stopped in Kent to resupply and pick up a maildrop. I got a new top to play with. Luckily it fits. Sadly it is the same ill-conceived color as my hiking shirt, black. Not a good color with the heat and humidity we have still been encountering. At least we spend a good part of the time under tree cover.

Kent was a nice, quaint town that was very pricey with little to offer. The grocery store was lacking, the outfitter was laughable at best and the shops were not very hiker friendly. Why would I leave everything I own outside a shop where anyone can walk off with it. The town also didn't have a hostel. Cheapest place started at about 90$, going up to 140$.

We left Kent in the middle of the high heat to climb up a mountain. Not the best idea especially on full stomachs but we had to get moving. The terrain was a bit rocky but then we hit the down after the ledges and it was stone stairs followed by a gravel road walk. Not very pleasant on our feet and the gnats were horrendous. Thankfully we had just bought bug head nets which the outfitter happened to have, crappy as they were they were a blessing at that moment. I found a new journal too, only things worth the trip into the outfitter.


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Day 45: Mt Algo Shelter

8.4 mi

A short mile day but with some steep climbs. My week off was not good for my trail legs. I felt I was just starting to get my trail legs but now I feel I have been sent back to week one. My feet have been pounding by the middle of the day. The heat and humidity have still been quite high. It has really been sucking the strength and appetite right out of me. I have been at least trying to get as much water as possible in me.

We are a full house tonight but most are camping out so we so far have the shelter mostly to ourselves. One guy is in a bug bivy and decided to join us when it started to sprinkle rain.

We go into Kent tomorrow to get our boxes from Ft. Montgomery plus my tank top. Hopefully we will find everything we need at the outfitters. We may also look into getting a bug net bivy tent and maybe a tarp. We will see.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Day 44: Ten Mile River Shelter

9.6 mi

First real day back on the trail in about a week and I almost feel like I did the first few days, slow and easily winded. I'm sure some of that is from my recovering from heat exhaustion. My feet are not happy but I have been trying to stay off them at the shelter and they are doing okay.

Looks like we might have the shelter to ourselves tonight. Would be nice. Would also be nice if the heat would break so we can get a good nights sleep. We both have been tired and managed to get a nap in when we arrived earlier in the afternoon. Tomorrow is another light mile day where we cross back into NY briefly then we are in CT to stay. We should be in Kent the following day to do a resupply and pick up the rest of the Ft. Montgomery maildrop that my husband forwarded on. Plus hopefully a new tank top and maybe socks if we're lucky.