The dog and I woke early this morning traveling to Oakley Corners State Forest in Owego, NY under a thick blanket of fog. Undeterred our plan was to hike and have breakfast along the back side of the pond. The trail was still a bit muddy from the heavy rains this past Friday. Making our way under a canopy of trees and filtered sunlight the woods were alive with song as an owl hooted away in the distance while other birds provided the chorus.
The dog was in all his glory, kind of a dog Disneyland complete with a waterpark. We came upon the pond and immediately he went swimming, snorting and sniffing and loving life. I reached into my pack and pulled out my camp chair setting that up first. I wanted to use my new twig stove again but the leaves, pine needles and twigs were still damp. Poking around looking for my fire starters I realized I forgot to pack them. This wasn’t starting off well. I tried getting a fire going to no avail. It was just to wet and damp.
Disappointed I couldn’t use the new stove I did however remember to bring my Jetboil system as backup. Soon enough water was boiling and coffee was brewing. Now time to break out my new 8″ fry pan and cook our breakfast. This mornings delicacy would be salmon filet and bacon. I could see the dog licking his chops already. The Jetboil fry pan has folding handles and a plastic plate that clips to the bottom as well for easy storage. Glancing over at the dog I set the fry pan on the burner and all of a sudden smoke starts to billow from the pan. I was like what the heck! Then I noticed I set the pan on the burner but never removed the plate. Oh I was pissed to say the least and melted plastic was everywhere.
I was frustrated as the dog peered at me with the look of hurry up and get breakfast cooked, I’m hungry. I finally get the melted plastic cleaned up, pan back on the burner and warming. Reaching into my cooler pouch I pull out a bag with a Tbsp of butter and our season salmon filet. I open the bag and put the butter and fish in the pan. The butter goes sliding right out of the pan and onto the ground. A quick thinking dog snatches the butter. I couldn’t help but chuckle. I mean what else might go wrong!
Finally the fish and bacon were cooking and the dog kept inching closer with those please feed me eyes glaring at me. I sipped my coffee as the aroma of breakfast waft through the air. After we ate my fury compadre felt he needed another swim. Packing our stuff up and doggie finished with his swim we were back on the trail. It was about another mile or so back to the car and we were on our way home. Windows down and a wet dog hanging his head high!
Despite my little mishaps I had a really fun morning just being outside., cheers!
In 2011 I was searching “The Google” and discovered the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and immediately I was enamored. I spent several days reading about the organization and decided to become a member. Seriously what could be better, a 740 mile waterway strung through the Adirondacks of New York and northern New England with a small portion reaching over our border to the north. It was intriguing and even a bit intimidating. Miles of rivers, lakes, streams & ponds. Flat water, whitewater, portages, oh my!
As my interest grew I noticed the NFCT had what they called “Waterway Work Trips” scattered over the trail. Usually about 6 every summer and they would use staff, interns and volunteers to work and improve the trail. I was hooked! Sadly over the course of the past several years my schedule and their schedules never seemed to workout. However this year the stars would align under clear skies and I was able to register and volunteer. July 6th, 7th & 8th I ventured along with four other volunteers to the 1.25 mile Raquette Falls canoe carry along the Raquette river near Tupper Lake, NY.
July 6th: We would meet our staff and interns at the Axton Landing boat launch at 3PM, load our canoes with our camping gear and paddle 6 miles upstream to Raquette Falls. Here New York State DEC Ranger and Raquette Falls “Outpost” caretaker Gary Valentine would be waiting to greet us. Our campsite was nestled beneath far reaching pines that towered towards the sky. Once set up Gary met with us to go over some rules and safety precautions. NFCT Staff and Interns had been on site since the previous Friday. Dinner this evening would be some sort of chicken stew that was absolutely delicious, followed by an attempt at blueberry cobbler in a dutch oven set into the coals of our camp fire. To be honest I think it turned out great.
July 7th: I made the mistake of packing in 100 degree weather in an air conditioned house. I would find myself unprepared for Friday night. During the night the temperature dropped to 41 degrees under clear skies. I would find myself very cold and had a bad nights sleep. I woke about 5AM, tossed and turned in my tent for a bit and then headed to Gary’s cabin for coffee. Two other volunteers soon arrived and we chatted for a while before breakfast. I had mentioned my unpreparedness and Gary quickly offered me an additional sleeping bag, problem solved.
After breakfast we would hit the trail to finish up work that had already been started earlier in the week. We would be working on the “Vista” trail. Paddlers usually make two trips over the canoe carry. Carrying gear and then returning for their boat. The “Vista trail is a narrow muddy trail that parallels the Upper & Lower Raquette Falls. These sets of falls and rapids span just over a mile. Often paddlers will take the Vista trail on their return. We would assist in finishing a stone stair case, wooden steps and several bog bridges. We would brush several spots and define the trail even more. There are many more improvements that will be made over the coming seasons. There will even be a reroute towards the Upper Falls end of the trail. Although it wasn’t as hot and muggy as earlier in the week the mosquitos and deer flies were out in force. We would go through bug spray like Motely Crue used Aqua-Net…
Later that afternoon after we finished work for the day it was time to hit the cool waters of the Raquette river before dinner. This evenings meal would be burritos and smores for dessert. Later on we all would wander to Gary’s cabin and sit on his screen porch. We talked, told stories and listen to Gary’s record collection. By 10PM I was tired and made my way back to my tent and settled in for the night and I slept like a baby.
July 8th: Back to Gary’s for coffee and then breakfast. Afterwards we would be back on the trail doing the final touches on our work. We were back by noon to break camp and have lunch. After lunch I would load my canoe and make the 6 mile paddle back to Axton Landing. Once I had my car loaded it was time to make the 5 hour journey back home.
This experience was wonderful and exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The group of staff, interns and volunteers worked hard and extremely well together making the work flow smoothly. I hope to volunteer next year on another NFCT “Waterway Work Trip”.
I made my first visit to the Windy City back in July. My wife and sons have already spent time here before so this was unchartered territory for me. We were staying with family in one of the suburbs of Chicago and rode the Metra into the city the several days we were there. We navigated the city by either walking or riding the subway which is affectionately knows as the “L”. Riding the “L” opened up a whole new perspective on photography for me. I instantly fell in love with the intricate infrastructure cramped between towering buildings, parking garages and everyday life below. The photographic possibilities are endless and all you need is time.
Prior to my arrival in Chicago I had done absolutely no research on this gem so I was totally in the dark as to the “Prime” locations in which to photograph. The day I made the most of my images started off bright and sunny with weather conditions crumbling like an old building as the day progressed. I believe I have created several images that convey mood, as most of these were grab shots. I particularly like the ones where I was shooting out the front window as we rode the “L”. I shot color slide film but really liked them even more converted to black & white.
The other day I had mentioned to my wife how we need to return so I can spend a good 3-4 days photographing the “L” now that I have done my research.
Here you’ll find a link to an image from Lake & Wells on the Chicago “L”. It was photographed from either a parking garage or rooftop. However it gives you the perspective of its complexity. I love it! https://flic.kr/p/rUyXih
As we watch the colors of Autumn slowly fade into the grays of Winter I find myself taking advantage of every opportunity to be out on the water. Undeterred by the mornings brisk temperatures I decided to launch on the Susquehanna river along Conklin Ave yesterday. Paddling my way west under cloudy skies towards the “Rock Bottom” Dam I lay witness to the remaining pops of color grasping our hillsides. On my way back the wind would let me know who was in charge and the sun randomly checked on me the closer I got to my destination.
Back in my car it was time for some coffee at my favorite place, LaVeggio Roasteria
With visions of a 5K PR dancing in my head I would find myself falling several seconds short of my goal. However I would walk away from today’s race with much more.
Lets step back in time for a brief moment to the 2013 Binghamton Santa Run where I ran my best 5K time of 20:38 taking 36th place out of 760 finishers with a mean temperature of 20 degrees. I was elated and looking forward to the following weeks “It’s a Wonderful Run” 5K in Seneca Falls, NY. I was knocking on the door of a possible sub 20 minute 5K. During that week spanning both races I was out training and tore up my right calf ending any hopes of another PR or running the race at all.
This would begin my downward spiral of injuries over the next 18 months. I’ll be honest here my injuries and issues were of plain stupidity. I won’t go into detail but lets just say my lack of listening skills and my pride got in the way.
December 13th 2015:
Over the past several months I have finally been seeing results in my health and in the last two weeks since I have been working with a coach I’ve seen even more results. Today was near 60 degrees at race time. I came away from today’s race with a 20:43 5K, 31st place out of 600 finishers and a 2nd place age group winner in the 40-49 bracket. More importantly I came away with confidence, some speed and no pain what so ever.
I’m excited for what 2016 has in store for me and I cannot wait. Back to my training and hopefully I will continue to run smarter.
Did you race this weekend?