Sunday, December 14, 2008

The First

On Saturday morning, Tarah and I were the first people in the United States to see the sun. At about 2:00 am we left the comfort and warmth of our home and headed to Acadia. At about 4:00 am we left the trail head on Rt. 3 and headed for the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the east coast, north of Brazil, and because of the time of the year, the first place in the United States to see the light of the sun.

The ascent was absolutely incredible. Along with our headlamps, we also had the benefit of a glorious full moon and a crystal clear sky. The moon light reflecting off of the veins of ice on the granite was spectacular. When we left the cover of the trees, we were actually blinded by the brightness of the moon.

We hit the summit at a little before 6:00 am, right around the time of nautical twilight. Despite the brutal temps and wind, we hunkered down for a bit and enjoyed the thin ribbon of color inching over the horizon.

Because the actual sunrise wasn't until 7:00 am, we ended up catching our first glimpse of the sun on our way back down the trail. The view at The Feathers, right before we got an arboreal relief from the wind, can't be done justice by words. The sun was right above Sand Beach and there were just enough clouds in the sky to give the sun something to accent. If that weren't enough, if we turned 180°we could still see the full moon and its reflection in The Feathers. It is moments like that, that I wonder how so many people can think that Earth is just a lucky coincidence.

This hike was also an opportunity to test out a piece of gear that we recently acquired for our AT journey. We brought our SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker and uploaded 6 GPS waypoints. The SPOT sends an email with a generic "everything's O.K." message along with coordinates on a Google map whenever we press the designated button. 1 2 3 4 5 6
SPOT is also trying out something called shared pages, ours is here.

Despite our camera being freeze proof, the
battery isn't so photos were limited. Also, there was condensation on the lens, so the couple of photos Tarah did snap aren't super clear.

(the photo at the top is us at the summit, the photo on the left is the horizon just before twilight, the photo on the right is the moon)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Peace Corps Interview

We have our Peace Corps interviews scheduled for Friday, December 5.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

AT Gear List

Here is what we will be bringing on our AT trek. We are trying to go as light as possible (and still be comfortable). We've been very fortunate to pick up most of this gear at outlets or on sale or on sale at outlets.

note: The Bear Vaults are actually more for mice and raccoons and the like, though they are bear proof. They also will serve as stools and as our washing machine.

Gear that we have:

Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba
Chris's Pack: Gregory z55
Tarah's Pack: Gregory jade 50
Chris's Bag: Mountain Hardwear Women's UltraLamina 15° (long)
Tarah's Bag: Mountain Hardwear Women's UltraLamina 15°
Sleeping Pads: Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite
Cook Set: Jetboil PCS & Fry Pan & Utensils
Water Purification: SteriPEN Adventurer and Solar Charging Case
Water Storage: Camelbak 100oz Omega Reservoirs
Food Storage: Bear Vault BV 450 Solo Bear Resistant Food Canisters
Trash Storage: Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack

Safety: Spot Personal Satellite Messenger & First Aid Kit
Headlamps: Petzl e+LITE

Chris's Rain Shell: Mountain Hard Wear Aiguille Parka
Tarah's Rain Shell: LL Bean Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket

Chris's Tops: Icebreaker Superfine Elite Shirt & The North Face L/S Reckoning Tee
Tarah's Tops: Icebreaker Tech T-Shirt & The North Face L/S Reckoning Crew
Chris's Bottoms: Patagonia Ultra Shorts & Patagonia Jackalope Pants
Tarah's Bottoms: Patagonia Stella Capris
Chris's Socks: SmartWool Adrenaline Light Mini Crew
Tarah's Base Layer: Patagonia Active Bra Top
Headgear: Patagonia Sun Mask
Gloves: Nike Lightweight Running Gloves

Camera: Olympus Stylus 770 SW
Tripod: Joby Gorillapod

Laundry Detergent/Body Wash/Shampoo/Toothpaste/etc.: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap
Nightly "Showers": Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Baby Wipes
Bug Dope: Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent & Ben's 100 Max Deet Tick & Insect Repellent

Gear that we want:

Chris's Base Layer: Icebreaker Bodyfit/150 Boxer Brief
Tarah's Base Layers: Icebreaker Nature/150 Hipster
Tarah's Socks: SmartWool Hiking Mid Mini
Shoes: The North Face Purgatory
Music, Email & Photo Storage: 32GB iPod Touch
Tool Set: Leatherman Skeletool

We also have ridiculously light wind shells from Hind that we picked up at our last marathon expo for about a quarter of their normal price and antishock trekking poles. We'll each bring a fleece or down sweater for a mid-layer too, otherwise this is what will be on our bodies or in our packs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Future Adventures

Two of our greatest adventures are on the horizon.

Beginning in May, we will be hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. In preparation for this epic journey, we've spent numerous weekends in Baxter State Park, completed the Grafton Loop Trail in both directions and hiked every trail in Acadia National Park - including the trails outside of Mount Desert Island.
Upon completion of the 2000+ mile trek, we will hopefully be serving in the Peace Corps. We've submitted our applications and secondary paperwork, now we just need to get a couple of recommendations in and schedule interviews.

Your thoughts and prayers concerning our future plans are always greatly appreciated.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wild Weekends

While it may appear that Chris and I have disappeared off of the face of the earth - we have really just been making ourselves more familiar with it. We spent the first many weekends of our summer in the woods, exploring, volunteering, becoming one with the mountains, and being eaten alive by bugs. In a quick overview our weekends from the start of May through the middle of July included the following:

May 3: We took our adventures in a new direction and climbed outside with friends of ours. It was a pretty crazy experience that started with climbing to the top of the Big Cliffs in Camden and then repelling down to the base of our climb after our friend Paul set up the top rope system. Repelling is pretty cool, once you get over the fact that you are relying on a rope to hold you while you drop over the side of a cliff.

Chris was quite successful on this trip and made it to the top of our climb as you can see in the photo to the left. I was his trusty belayer safe on the ground. I made a couple of attempts, but man is it hard to see where to put your hands on real rock as opposed to the walls in the climbing gym!

Needless to say, we were hooked and soon bought our own climbing gear. We are now proud owners of harnesses, shoes, chalk bags, and a bouldering pad. To the best of my knowledge, the next two weekends were rainy and we spent our Saturdays plugging away at different problems on the wall at the YMCA.

May 24 - 25: We finally had nice weather and a long weekend so we headed to Grafton Notch State Park with the intentions of taking the weekend to complete the Grafton Notch Loop Trail. We had attempted this in the fall with our friends Emily and Austin and made it the first 20 miles in 2 days. This trip came with more success, as we completed the 42 mile loop in just 2 days. It was a challenging trip - but well worth it.

This photo was taken from East Bald Pate looking at West Pate. Our trail is the rocky stuff in the middle of all the trees! This was about 3 miles from our stopping point on day 1. In the distance you can see Old Speck Mountain which was our first climb on day 2, and is the 3rd highest point in Maine. This section of the trail is also a portion of the Appalachian Trail. It is rumored that New Hampshire and Maine have the most difficult terrain - I must agree that it is a pretty challenging place to be - but when it is clear you can see for miles!

A portion of the trail still had a fair amount of snow and ice, but not enough to keep us away!

The following weekend was another wet one spent on the climbing wall.

June 7: While I don't have any photos to document the trip, we spent the weekend in Baxter State Park receiving an orientation to doing trail work in the park. Due to a poor weather forecast our National Trails Day event didn't take place until Sunday. We spent Saturday afternoon battling the worst bugs I have ever experienced before in my life. The black flies and mosquitoes were out in full force. We hiked for a little while and then spent time reading in our tent before meeting up with some other volunteers for a very buggy dinner.

Sunday was an amazing hike and we learned about the 5 year plan for defining the trail corridor in the park. For your reference (when I talk about trail work later on) our goal was to clear a path that was 4 feet wide and 8 feet high throughout the length of our trail. Due to varying abilities, we hiked for a lot more time than we worked, but it was nice exposure to what Baxter has in store for visitors.

The weekend was brought to completion with a picnic in the park. The park provided us with an early dinner that even included veggie burgers! To top it off, one of the other volunteers that was out for the weekend made blueberry pie! Yum!

June 14: Another photo-less weekend. Chris would say that this is because I kept forgetting the camera, but it's really because we were doing trail work. Even if I had remembered the camera, I probably wouldn't have taken photos! Anyway, we were introduced to "our" trail, Wadleigh Brook, first thing Saturday morning. It wasn't much of a trail it was so overgrown, but we cleared about .75 miles. We were also eaten alive, but managed to survive.

Now, Friday night was an adventure on its own! The park does not let campers in past 8PM, so we slept in the back of Chris's car, on top of a partially deflated blow-up raft. While this was slightly more comfortable than sleeping without any added padding, the raft worked much better as a raft Saturday evening when we took it out on South Branch pond after our day of work.

June 22: We realized that we hadn't been to Acadia since the weekend after my birthday, so we decided to venture out onto Mount Desert Island again.

With a goal of hiking all of the trails on park property we made some crazy, zig-zaggy loops and covered a lot of ground. We also made it up the Bubbles, which boasts a glacial erratic which you can see behind our heads here. We had beautiful weather and it was nice to be in the park again!

June 28: We found ourselves up in Baxter State Park for the third time in a month. This time our goal was to climb to the Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. We had heard many stories and decided that we should experience the Mighty Mt. Katahdin for ourselves.

One would hope for nice weather when climbing nearly a mile into the sky - but we enjoyed our day of drizzle and fog and made it to the top with few interruptions from other hikers. Our ascent was up the Abol Trail which consists of a rock slide from an earthquake years ago. The idea is you climb a mile in roughly three miles on the trail. We met the challenge and made it to the top where you could see a whole 5 feet in front of you! I bet it's beautiful when you can see all that Mother Nature has placed in this amazing place - seeing the sign was good for us though and the slightly freezing rain turned us around to head down pretty quickly.

Our descent was on the Hunt Trail which is the last five miles of the Appalachian Trail. In the fog it isn't the nicest of places to be. When you are walking along a ridge I don't know if it is better to be able to see, or to not be able to see the drops on either side of you. In either case, the fog lifted for a moment and gave us a view of what was to come. The rocky ridge that is exposed in the middle of the trees is our trail.

All in all, we made it down safely and in roughly 8 hours or so. It was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again (hopefully when the sun is shining!)

July 4: We spent the holidays in Acadia National Park. With three days of trail time we managed to complete all of the trails on the quiet side, with the exception of one that was closed for Peregrine Falcons who choose to nest in the park. Even with it being a holiday weekend, by staying on the West Side of the MDI, we were able to avoid most of the crowds. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the weekend was finding delicious blueberries along the trails for a nice snack break!

Other adventures that were encountered over the weekend included exploring tide pools, finding places to boulder, running down short trails and scaring tourists, looking goofy while walking through beaches in our hiking boots, climbing crazy ladders up the sides of mountains (for some of the most amazing views in the park), and of course trying to explain to people why they kept seeing us backtrack on trails. No one really understands the desire to hike every single mile of trail in the park, but it's pretty fun to see all of the different sights.

We spent the evening of the 4th on Cadillac Mountain where we watched the fireworks in Bar Harbor from above. This in itself was an interesting adventure. Between watching people huddle under garbage bags because they hadn't brought appropriate clothing for being on top of a mountain at night and listening to people who were disappointed because the fire works weren't right on top of the mountain, there was much to be desired. It was a unique experience, but not one to be repeated. Especially since we were stuck in traffic for a couple of hours trying to leave the park.

July 12: We enjoyed another weekend of trail work and getting eaten by bugs. We made some more progress and should be able to finish our section of trail on our next volunteer weekend. It is pretty crazy to see the difference in sections that we have worked on as opposed to those that we have not. The biggest difference is that you can tell there is a trail going through the woods. The first time we hiked it there wasn't much to work with.

After a hard day of work, we enjoyed a trip out on the pond in a canoe where we surveyed the mountains that we would be climbing the following day. We also enjoyed our favorite car camping meal of the summer: veggie dogs, baked beans, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and Doritos.

The morning brought with it a goal of hiking the Traveler Loop. This is an 11 mile loop that includes three summits on exposed ridges. Since we are a little stubborn, the wind advisory didn't keep us on level ground! As you can see by the photo of Chris, we did get the gusts th
at were predicted, but we safely made it the length of the loop (and in record time!).

Our second summit for the day was Traveler Mountain which is actually a volcano, so that was a pleasant surprise.

On our way to the third summit on North Traveler, we really experienced wind on top of a mountain when we had to crouch behind rocks for some relief. It was an amazing experience to feel the power of nature. However, just like Katahdin, this will be a nice loop to try again one day when the weather is a little more cooperative!

And there you have it - the reasons you may not have heard from us all summer long! If you're thinking that we have been out of touch for longer than the dates posted, don't worry, more adventures are soon to be described - such as those when we went on vacation to Iowa!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Recent Adventures

Due to slacking on the blogging, this is going to be a quick and dirty update on some of our more recent adventures.

The weekend prior to the North Face Endurance Challenge, we attempted our first intentional hike in the dark. We crawled out of our tent shortly after 3:00 am and headed for the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard, north of Brazil, for sunrise. We made the summit right at sunrise, but due to the massive amounts of fog we couldn't see much further than 15 feet, let alone the horizon. We were back at our house, an hour and a half drive from Acadia, before most people had eaten breakfast.

On the weekend of April 12 we traveled to New York for the North Face Endurance Challenge. We got to see three of my corps members in the city the night before our races. The city was a beast. We couldn't find the metro, the train in front of ours had brake issues and we were rerouted, Tarah got a lame North Face shirt and mine didn't have the race logo on it, no one knew that Tarah was supposed to be volunteering at the event, we hurriedly ate food, took three trains to get where one should have gone and got to our hotel at 11:00 pm. The next day, we got up at 3:00 am to make the short drive to Bear Mountain State Park. My race that started at 5:00 in the fog and eventual thunderstorm was absolutely brutal. There were hardly any spots were you could safely run due to large rocks in the trail and insane ascents. I ended up dropping out after 26.5 miles because I knew I wasn't going to make the hard time cutoff. Of the 106 runners of the 50 miler, only 19 made it in under the allotted 13 hours, and I was in the top half when I decided to not kill my body. The eventual winner came in an hour and a half after the projected winning time and he was well over an hour ahead of the second place finisher.

The following weekend we took it easy and only did a couple shorter hikes in Acadia. We were able to hit two trails that we hadn't done before.

For my birthday, I had planned on returning to the Grafton Notch Loop Trail, which Emily, Austin, Tay and I had attempted in October. The GNLT is a new 40 mile loop in the White Mountains. My plan was to start out early on Saturday, knock out between 25 and 30 miles in a long day and then wrap up on Sunday so that we could go out for a birthday dinner. My plan started off great, but before my first summit I hit a little snow. Then I hit a lot of snow. In places, I was post-holing up to my thighs. After 5.5 miles I was still on pace to be able to complete the loop in the two days. Just when I would think that the snow wasn't going to be an issue I'd turn the corner or come over a crest and be greeted by a white blanket. At 9.5 miles, I decided my best bet would be to turn around. After a hot meal, I started making my way back to my car. A couple of miles in, I completely lost the trail, due to it being a newer trail, lots of snow and downed trees. Fortunately I had a topo and compass. I knew the road where I was parked was west so I set my compass and started bushwacking. After a few hours and a couple of river crossings, I came out on the road about 50 yards from my car.

Last weekend, we went rock climbing with some friends at "The Verticals" in Camden Hills. After a short hike in, we repelled down to where we were going to climb from. The cliffs were a little damp, so Tay and I only climbed one route, but it was a great first experience. After the cliffs, we headed to Orono for two shows.

Hopefully we won't so infrequent in the documentation of our future outings.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New York Fun Run

While reading Dean Karnazes's "Ultra Marathon Man," I got wild delusions of running the Western States 100 and earning a shiny new belt buckle. The thought of a brutal, day long, run/hike through snow, over mountains, and across rivers sounded like the perfect way to spend a weekend.
In just over a month, I'll be a little closer to possibly realizing my dream (most people's nightmare). On April 12, I'm going to be participating in a 50 mile endurance race in Bear Mountain, New York. In order to run the WS100 you need to complete another "ultra" in a specific amount of time, volunteer a number of hours at a race or doing trail work, AND have your name drawn in a lottery system. Hopefully I'll complete the NY race in under 11 hours and I'll be able to get my name in the lottery for the 2009 WS100. My actual goal for my first 50 miler is 9hours. Which is a 10:48 pace. As long as I can go out slow, I'm confident that I will be at the tape in plenty of time for the awards ceremony, 10 hours after the 5:00am start.
Maine winters and hectic work schedules aren't very conducive to training for an ultra, but I've been hitting the YMCA 4 to 5 times a week for varied workouts: 8 mile jaunts around the 1/12 mile track, hills on the treadmill, 10 milers, speed workouts, and snowshoeing on the weekends. Unfortunately this past weekend I got as sick as I ever remember being, so I haven't been active for almost a full week, so the month leading up to the event is going to be that much more crucial.
For more info on this insanity check this out.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Winter Wonderland

For our latest adventure we decided to do a little winter camping, so last weekend we made the trip to Acadia National Park. Despite having only a three season tent and a bag that is only rated at 25 degrees and losing feathers, we thought this would be a great weekend. After getting a permit from HQ we headed into Bar Harbor to grab some lunch before our mile long trek to base camp. As we were preparing to leave Subway, anther customer mentioned that a car in the lot had a soft tire, of course it was ours. Not to be deterred, we added air at a gas station and headed to the campground entrance, with the intention of dealing with the tire next day if need be. At the entrance, we put on our snowshoes and packs and started the trek into the campgrounds. We had the entire grounds to ourselves, apparently sleeping outside in the middle of winter doesn't appeal to a lot of people. Upon establishing a campsite, we loaded our day packs and started off in the general direction of where we wanted to end up. Unfortunately, in the winter, a lot of trees come down under the weight of the snow so even the trails were difficult to navigate. Since we had our hardcore snowshoes we decided to just forgo the plan and trails and wander. With a little bush whacking and scrambling we were able to see some pretty great sites. When we didn't get to a summit and the sun was getting lower, we decided to turn around and follow our tracks back to our temporary home at Black Woods. The beauty of snowshoeing is that you can go just about anywhere without impact and avoid getting lost because of your tracks. Once we made it made back to camp, we ate some delicious couscous, Ramen and tuna. The early sunset made for a pretty long night spent in our little tent, but we stayed pretty warm. Upon waking, Tay realized her error in not putting her boots in her sleeping bag with her, when she tried to put on her frozen boots. We made some oatmeal, broke down camp and began the hike back to our car, once there, and still with frozen toes, we decided to end our adventure. Although very little went as planned, it still was a pretty great weekend, sometimes it's just about who the adventure is with.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A walk through August 11, 2007

Well, it has been six busy months since our wedding, and I have finally found the time to post some of the fantastic shots taken by Karen Lewis of Kim Chapman Photography. It may have taken a while to get the proofs, but it was well worth it.

The following pictures mark our day from start to finish! Enjoy!

Getting Ready

Headed to the beach...

We did it!

Friends and Family

Making a difference in a sea stars life...


What wedding would be complete without race car driving?