Monday, May 26, 2008

Welcome Summer!

It is very interesting as I think I remember this happening last year. Summer seems to arrive with a bang on Memorial Day weekend. It has been kind of cold and miserable up until this weekend then the weather suddenly turned around and we are now in full summer mode. The nights are still cool but it is really nice out and starting to get hot. And no, I am not complaining. Weather can be very interesting in how chaotic it can be.

Three Ridges Backpacking

A friend organized a big backpacking trip that started on Thursday and ended Tuesday. We joined up with the group Friday late afternoon. It was about a 3 hour drive from DC and we thankfully left early enough to avoid most of the traffic. Apparently everyone gets the same idea to leave town at the same time. Although this was Memorial Day weekend so it is understandable for this weekend. It is a traffic nightmare. We also took an alternate route which helped us avoid much of the traffic. The trip called for us to set up a base camp then do day hikes from that location. This worked out very nicely and meant we could carry up all kinds of luxury items for use at the base camp but not worry about lugging the extra weight around during the day hikes. I brought in a camp chair to help save my knees.

On Saturday we hiked up to look out peak then around and down a side trail with a waterfall. I took some pictures with my film camera. I hope the pics turn out. Not sure if I will be scanning any in to post but I will try to get one in if there is one worth posting. Saturday turned out to be a really long day. We had to hike out 1.6 miles to get to the cars then shuttle over to the trail head and drop a car at the trail end. Then we hiked 7 miles over ups and downs, then a further 1.6 to get back in to camp. We were exhausted. I don't remember cooking much for supper. We did eat but it was pretty light fare.

Sunday was a much flatter hike and was another waterfall. We had about 7 stream crossings to get to the waterfall. It was kind of fun but after the first 3 crossings, it started to wear thin. The water was cold. I ended up pulling wool socks on halfway through to help keep my feet warm on the crossings. I had on some capris pants that I am testing and they were just short enough to stay mostly dry which was nice. I also noticed on this trip that even though I mostly wore braces, I didn't experience any knee pain. Mostly I was tired from the long miles but no knee pain. This is a good sign. I am not sure if this is from the almost two years of trying to not use them or if this is from taking glucosamine/chondroitin. I just hope this is an improvement that keeps up and doesn't backslide.

We left Sunday after the waterfall hike. Even though I wanted to stay an extra night, I didn't really want to hike back up to the base camp. The next morning we were both glad that we left a bit earlier.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

New paddle arrived!

It was sad news that my favourite paddle met with an accident on my last trip with it. The person who's car it was in kindly offered to replace it and I just received the new paddle. I was talking with Bending Branches, a company that makes wooden paddles similar to the one I owned and they said they had made that paddle. I was thrilled to find that they still produced a paddle that was very similar to mine. I opted to get a 220 cm rather then stick with the 230 cm I have been using as I simply do not need a paddle that long now that I am in a narrower kayak.

I took out the paddle on last night's paddle and was very happy with it. It is just as comfortable to hold in my hands as the last one, so the shaft is the same diameter. The blades are slightly smaller but still have a very similar feel through the water. The only trouble I had was to get used to the smaller length as I was using my 240 cm paddle until the replacement arrived. 20 cm doesn't seem like much, but it is pretty noticeable in a paddle. Once I started paddling I got used to it quickly. I will be taking better care of my wooden paddles. I will have to see if I can fix the broken one at some point as I think it will make a good spare paddle. I'm not sure it can be fully fixed but I think if I wrap it in fiberglass after fixing it, it will hold well.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Star hiking

Had a chance to bring out the telescope last night to go star gazing. There was a small group of people, a dog and a couple of kids. Very different from the first group I took out, but everyone was lots of fun. It was a new moon and not many clouds in the sky so it was a perfect opportunity to get out and look at stars with the telescope. It was really cool but I think the telescope is better suited for moon gazing rather then star gazing. We did manage to find Jupiter but it was really hard to see the rings. I think we will be able to get great resolution for the moon but stars are just too far away for it too handle. Next time I hope we can bring the big one. But it was really cool to be able to find a star and look at it up close. Can't wait to get out on a moon hike some time soon. I have heard that a few days before a full moon is the best time as that is when you get good relief on the surface detail. Guess we will find out.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Cool new toy

I just received a really cool telescope last night from my boyfriend. It is small and compact and perfect for going on night hikes. He bought a really nice big one for himself that I am sure we will absolutely love. I'm know we will also love the small one since it is so portable. The stand is small but I think if it is set up on a blanket on the ground with the eyepiece turned downwards, it would be the perfect height. I also have two camera stands that can be used with it in a pinch. I would loose the fine tuning control but that is okay. I'm really happy to get it and I can't wait for us to get it out Monday night on the Meetup moon hike I have planned. The moon hike will be a new moon hike so perfect star gazing opportunities and apparently the start of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. I'm hoping we will get to see some shooting stars. How cool would that be!

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