Bring it on

"Think what a great world revolution will take place when there are millions of guys all over the world with rucksacks on their backs tramping around the back country…."- Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Can't keep the pregnant lady off the trails

>> Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here's me discovering a night cache

Geocaching for Pregnancy

So maybe I can't walk 8- 10 miles for a day hike like I used to. Maybe I can't hike crazy places that require a bit of climbing or bouldering. And maybe I have to watch my balance since my big belly hides my feet. But after getting a handheld GPS for my birthday back in March, my husband and I started geocaching (geo-ca-sh-ing, like cashing a check). We've been completing day caches and night caches. And guess what? The best part of geocaching is that I've found it's pregnancy-friendly. Score!

Here's how it works:

Geocaching history states that geocaching originated with Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant who "wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the "Great American GPS Stash Hunt" and posted it in an internet GPS users' group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit. The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver. The rules for the finder were simple: 'Take some stuff, leave some stuff.' On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beaver Creek, Oregon, near Portland. Along with a logbook and pencil, he left various prize items including videos, books, software, and a slingshot. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav: N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800 Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online. Throughout the next week, others excited by the prospect of hiding and finding stashes began hiding their own containers and posting coordinates. Like many new and innovative ideas on the Internet, the concept spread quickly - but this one required leaving your computer to participate."

And "as of April 25, 2010, there are over 1,047,069 active geocaches around the world [...] in over 100 countries" (

From there geocaching took off! Of course who wouldn't want to become a treasure hunter! Caches might not contain crazy treasures like gold or jewels like pirates might have found, but the thrill of hiking, searching, discovering, and leaving cool items for others to find is addicting.

In fact, one of my favorite parts of caching (besides discovering new trails and hiking areas) has become the find. What have others left? Who discovered this geocaching box last? What cool object can we leave in the cache for the next adventurer?

Of course even more exciting are some of the special finds in the cache boxes. Other than finding cool dollar store-type toys, geocachers have coins and travelbugs to entice treasure hunters.

Geocoins are coins with a mission and a tracking number. Like this one that Aaron and I discovered in a cache in Michigan:

This coin's goal is to: "visit caches by lakes, rivers, and streams in Washington State." And because of the tracking number they carry, you can check where its been and when its been there. This specific coin has been to Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, PA, Ontario, British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington.

We've discovered coins that have been to New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the Canary Islands, and other places around the world! Its so exciting knowing that there is a world-community who takes part in this fun.

Most recently, we went to Bear Creek, PA and discovered a night cache that had a geocoin in it that didn't have an activated tracking number. This means that no one claimed ownership of it. So now we can create our own geocache for people to find and send this geocoin wherever we want it to travel! We decided that we'd both love to visit Paris and we are hoping that our coin will make it to every state in the US! I can't wait to see its journey unfold.

There are also travelbugs to reel in hardcore geocachers.

These travelbugs are basically objects that have tracking numbers on them. For example here's one we found in Ohio:

"This Pinewood Derby travel bug is part of a national race. The "Race to 2010" ~ cars for all over the country are racing to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia!"

Its mission is to: "travel to as many caches as I can. I like scouting caches best, but any cache will do. First - I want to go to the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County, Virginia. The dates are July 26 to August 4, 2010. Please take pictures of me with as many scouts as you can. Second - I want to return home to East Hartford, Connecticut. Specifically, to GC22ZYY - Treasures of Scouting - Connecticut Rivers Council."

We're going to take a weekend to find some caches south of us to help it on it's way.

Crazy Hiking Pregnant Lady

You must think I am crazy being 31 weeks pregnant (8 or 9 weeks to go!) and outside in the woods searching for hidden treasure while doing some off trail bushwacking and rough trail hiking, but I am completely convinced that geocaching is for pregnant outdoor ladies who can't groove with their regular outdoors addictions.

So I've compiled a list as to why pregnant ladies can get down with geocaching:

1. Most caches are within one mile of the parking area. So your feet won't ache too much if you have good hiking shoes.

2. Geocaches are hidden
, but not buried and have to be accessible to everyone (including kids!). Meaning there's no digging, climbing, or contorting involved.

You can be sure of your safety. Do you have an FRS/PMR channel to find out if other Geocachers are in the area? According to, "The community has decided on channel 2 as the primary for both FRS and PMR, and 12 as the alternate FRS (Family Radio Service) channel and 8 for the alternate PMR (Europe). FRS and PMR radios are longer distance walkie talkies, like the Motorola Talkabout." And all of the places we've found so far are in my cell service (verizon).

It's a great way to get some cool pregnancy pics for your album or scrapbook.

The short hikes are a good way to prepare for an outdoor adventure with the newcomer to the family.

Pregnant ladies need stamina for birth. This is an easy way to ensure endurance for those hours of labor.

7. Discover some new places to hike
when you need to get your pre-pregnancy body back in shape. In fact some of the trails would even be a good complement to your running stroller!

Some caches are in towns so you won't even have to walk far from the car!

9. It's never to late to learn how to navigate
in the woods with a geocaching device or a compass and you might not have the time post-baby.

10. Keep your brain active
during "pregnancy fog." Sometimes caches have more than one part to them requiring you to solve a puzzle to find out coordinates to the final cache.

Happy adventuring!

Here are some book resources from wikipedia:

Further reading

+Geocaching Crash Course by Benjamin Deeb (ISBN 0-5173-4859-X)
+The Essential Guide to Geocaching by Mike Dyer (ISBN 1-55591-522-1)
+The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching by Jack W. Peters (ISBN 1-59257-235-9)
+Geocaching For Dummies by Joel McNamara (ISBN 978-0764575716)
+Geocaching: Hike and Seek with Your GPS by Erik Sherman (ISBN 978-1590591222)
+The Geocaching Handbook (Falcon Guide) by Layne Cameron and Dave Ulmer (ISBN 978-076273044)
+Let's Go Geocaching by DK Publishing (ISBN 978-0756637170)
+It's a Treasure Hunt! Geocaching & Letterboxing by Cq Products (ISBN 978-1563832680)
+Open Your Heart with Geocaching: Mastering Life Through Love of Exploration by Jeannette C├ęzanne (ISBN 978-1601660046)


My baby's gonna be a hiker!

>> Saturday, March 6, 2010

The picture above was taken 2/28/10 (22 weeks)

I'm not just excited to have a baby boy, I'm excited to get back on the trails with him and get him to experience one of the best parts of my world. But since kids don't pop out walking, I've discovered that there are thousands of parents just like me out there who have child carriers made for hiking. Now it's been my personal mission to find the perfect hiking child carrier to get back on those trails asap.

Babies "R" Us, the only place to register in my area, only sells one hiking pack: a Kelty FC 3.0 Child Carrier in the color- blueberry (which I love). But I want to be sure it's going to be good since as of right now it looks like this carrier is 7 pounds without a baby in it!

I've been taking a look around online, but I'm swamped! Any suggestions to give me a direction on this would be great!


Why I've postponed my hiking for a bit

>> Friday, February 19, 2010


To follow my progress take a look here and hopefully by August I'll be back on the trail with a baby in my rucksack!

Be back soon everyone.


There's really hiking in West Wyoming?

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This past weekend, we decided to go on a very local hike. Believe it or not there are little gems of trails right here literally in people's backyards.

After pulling over on the side of the road near an empty, for-sale greenhouse, the trail began in some prickly high grasses. After dodging and darting out of the thorn-targeted areas, there is another factor that might turn off most hikers or woodsy-types: garbage. I know that typically we reserve the right to bust on "backwoods hicks" for collecting junk in their backyards, mainly useless objects and rubbish including (but not limited to) food wrappers, toilet paper, plastic bottles, beer cans, even the remainders of buck shot, as well as tires and other parts of vehicles.

I suppose what might separate the locals here from the typical dirt-road living country family who enjoys using cars as lawn ornaments is that I couldn't find an entire car in their backyards, but I might've been able to assemble most of one from the parts I'd seen scattered about. I did need a tad bit more work done on my blue beast. Maybe I'd add an old mini fridge to my trunk or replace my rusty runners for new rusted runners. As the saying goes, one man's junk is another man's treasure...

Alright enough bad humor about the choices of eco-decorating... The reason why Aaron and I came here for a quick hike after 5pm in the first place is because in the springtime my best girlfriend got married and the favors at her bridal shower were wildflowers. We'd come up here soon after the happy event and planted them with the intention of checking on their status later in the summer. Unfortunately, now it was a bit too late in the season and the initial pathway/bushwack through the woods was lost in overgrown greenery.
But no matter, now past the smell of rubber and sour water puddles, I inhaled the smell of sunlit dirt. My shoulders loosened in relaxation as the sounds of animal rustling, birds alerting, and the wind lightly clapping the leaves together encouraged movement along the overgrown continuity of the footpath. I could smell wet greens, rough-ridged tree bark, crushed sour red berries, dried leaves, and nutty acorns.

Continuing up the pathway is a gradually ascending trail with loose rocks, fallen trees, even areas of high grasses might convince you that you might never reach the top. However, if I know that if you stick it out, this hike rewards:

The sounds of cars and families and neighborhood dogs barking disappear and it feels miles away from any sign of human life, quite an amazing feat for being so near 8th street, perfect for getting out in the woods after a long day at work.


Myself in third person

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

Today after an extended conversation about the Appalachian Trail, a woman with some great hiking plans reminded me that I still have passions. That I am passionate about discussing the details of what it takes to do some tough hiking. She helped me see that even though I am becoming a more responsible version of myself, I can still be all of those exciting things that I've been in my past too. And so it's true that each one of us contain a myriad of facets.

Amongst my parts, people know or have known me as (a condensed list of the past 29 years): a journalist, a poet, a sister, a lover, a coffee drinker, a friend, a former Queens dweller, a Phish tourer, a yearner for "back in the day," a daughter, an employee, a yoga enthusiast, a dungeons and dragons player, a letter writer, a road tripper, a teacher, a tattoo wearer, a vocalist, a foreign culture junkie, an anthropologist, a facebook junkie, a neighbor, an editor, bartender, a literature buff, a tenant, roller skater, a dinner party attender, an old college roommate, a polka dancer, a cousin, a book reviewer, an educator, foreign language dabbler, a mentor, a traffic dodging driver, a political activist, a late night couch sitter, a shopping buddy, video game challenger, a marching band nerd, a steak-lover, a world traveler, an ice cream devourer, a pianist, a theater actor, a vegetarian, a business casual wearer.... and a hiker.

I think of how each of my life experiences have contributed to creating these labels that contextualize me into a nice neat package for others to understand. While some, I don't even identify with anymore, each has definitely added its shaped who I have become and who I will be.

For example, I wasn't always a hiker. Much of my life, I didn't even like hiking. In fact, throughout high school, I wanted nothing to do with nature, tenting, wildlife, or the outdoors. Instead, I spent hours inside playing piano, singing, reading, writing poetry, and going to hardcore shows in my hippie skirts and birkenstocks. I had a car, why would I walk more than I had to, especially on a dirty trail with nasty bugs?

It was only until I went away to college in the middle of nowhere (kicking and screaming) that I really began to appreciate nature... of course, it wasn't instant attraction. I needed a little help from my friends to truly see the stars and sunsets, to smell the dew, to discuss deep intellectual matters, to marvel at the ordinary, and wade through the woods to hang out at the watertower, the benches near the music building, the park downtown, friends back porches, the old astronomy field on cardiac hill, the unlit dirt road off route six.

Sure these were nontraditional ways to explore nature but that curiosity combined with my flighty or fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants nature locked me into an agreement to hike the Appalachian Trail with scarcely any hiking experiences in my life (other than walking to/or around each of the places I mentioned above).

The thing is...Eventually, they lead me to a real appreciation of the nature around me and I did hike the AT. And I haven't stopped hiking yet.


Lehigh Gorge (Glen Onoko- to the top of the falls- Part 2)

>> Monday, July 20, 2009

We walk down the wooden staircase and are face-to-face with the WARNING sign. In the smaller print, the sign read "hikers have been seriously injured and killed as a result of accidental falls from the trail and gorge overlooks."

Strangely enough, I remembered that I'd seen a similar warning before, but much smaller and one that I took much much more seriously in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as I was climbing Mt. Washington (6,288 ft) in the summer of 2006. The sign read, "The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure, even in the sumer. Turn back now if the weather is bad."

Nothing like good ole honesty to put the fear of god into you about hiking a trail. But luckily, that day the weather was beautiful as I took the challenge at Mt. Washington, NH and I would definitely accept this challenge from the Glen Onoko Falls Trail at Lehigh Gorge, PA... as soon as I could find the trail....

As we stood in front of the sign there were two ways to go: left toward the river paddlers or right under the wooden bridge. Grafitti covered its belly, water dripped from above plunking into huge puddles that remained stagnant in the heat. It seemed like a dead end. And while I had hiked this trail once before two years ago, I didn't neccessarily recall the direction the trail began. So, I assumed that the trail must obviously be toward the left. Most of the people in the park seemed to be headed in that direction and the trail just seemed a bit cheerier.

As we rounded the trail to the left, we watched people smiling and practicing their inflatable raft paddling techniques in their lifejackets, when a few moments later, we ran into pavement, a parking lot, and some stairs leading up to the bathrooms. This was definitely not leading us to the Glen Onoko Falls Trail.
After hitting up the environmentally friendly pit toilets, we made a full circle around the parking lot and back down the wooden stairs, again to face the warning sign...again.

We peeked around to find a blaze, an arrow, or a cairn, but no such luck. With a shoulder shrug, we headed out for the second time to find the falls trail this time by passing under the wooden bridge. When suddenly and seemingly obvious, the pathway lie right in front of us.

We began our ascent. We hiked up the steep trail about fifty to one hundred feet. When no sooner did we come to a 'V.' There were no signs deciphering the difference between the orange and the red blazes in front of us.

To the left, a true warning of the sign of what was to come of our day: Beyond the orange blazed tree, a family of people were hiking downhill toward us. There was a man yelling "COME ON" at an emaciated black shepard. He yanked on the dog's metal leash while the dog cried out in a horrifying yelp, attempting to get over and off the difficult rocks more quickly. The rage built up inside me and I looked to my boyfriend for recognition. He nodded and after we let the rest of the nonresponsive family pass, we commented on the man's blatant animal abuse.

I couldn't imagine what he'd put his family through. And I couldn't believe that we were both so quiet at such a horrifying moment. We were usually so verbal about these sorts of things. It was almost as if there was some engrained social unease buried inside the both of us. It was as though it would've been improper to air how those people should properly treat their pet. It was like we would've been publically dictating how someone else should properly raise their child, much to the humiliation and anger of the parents.

I mentioned how badly I've wanted a dog (an aussie or boxer) as a hiking companion and family member, but I couldn't even have a dog because of the restrictions on our apartment's lease. I even went as far as to have said that just because someone wanted a dog, it didn't mean they should be allowed to have one. It seemed that in this situation any nutcase could have an animal, even that detestible wretch of a human being. After a few more moments of heated ventilation, I stepped off my soapbox, and I hopped back into my calm hiking mindset.

We looked to the right at a red marked trail with an enormous fallen trunk over the pathway.

Another guessing game. I sat down on a boulder on the orange trail and I pulled my backpack around to my waist. I took out my map again and we both looked closely for a guide to the Falls. No markings or symbols. No other trail names or mileage.

Behind us we noticed a middle aged couple breathing heavily to catch up with us. We moved aside for them and I said: "You happen to know which of these leads to the falls?"

The woman responded: "We don't really know which way the falls trail is. We thought you looked like you knew where you're going. So we've been following you."

At first I thought this was kind of ridiculous considering that we walked in a full circle before we got here. And of course, now that I'm reflecting on that moment, I find it hilarious that this conversation was initiated by the women so that we could figure out what's going on. It seems that even in the wilderness we have to ask for directions!

After we all took a few more breaths and a quick sip of water, I finally made the decision to head up the left trail (oranged blazed), which seemed familiar. After about twenty or thirty yards, I felt confident that I had remembered the rocky trail, the flat faced boulders to our right, and the inevitable sound of rushing water. Once we saw the creek headed downstream, we knew we were on our way to the first fall!


Lehigh Gorge (part one)

>> Sunday, July 12, 2009

If you asked me two years ago how I felt about Lehigh Gorge, I'd have said that I equate the Lehigh Gorge falls trail to the Ricketts Glen Trail. What's even better than Ricketts is that it's got trains, caves, a river, waterfalls, rock hopping, elevation hiking, rock climbing, and beautiful views. I'd tell you there's nothing more to desire in a good, tough trail.

Today, I had a wake up call. My boyfriend and I headed down to the gorge in the early afternoon, listening to some great road trip songs while passing beautiful mountain views and scores of Tigerlillies on the roadside. Just as we began to see the brown road signs leading us to the park, two empty bright yellow school busses slowed our pace to a crawl. The busses had mint green signs on the back that read, "Whitewater Rafting Adventures," and for the next twenty minutes, we inhaled the very- un green exhaust of the two school buses. As we followed the carbon smell into the state park, we counted six more busses leaving, filled with newly trained rafters.

Pulling around the packed parking lot, we already heard the distant sounds of dozens of voices. We passed the first lot, then the second, the third, and made our way around the boat dock area that had parking designated specifically for the "adventure" busses only. A park ranger's truck was stopped nearby and he was telling a family exiting their car that they couldn't park in the dock area. We defiantly pulled into a space and from the passenger side mirror, I saw him waving us away. I caught a glimpse at the other (6 or so) cars' windshields. Every single one was ticketed.

We backed out of the space, waved kindly at the ranger, and pulled into the second lot. A space opened and we pulled forward, when suddenly a white diesel pick up flew into our claimed spot. Nearby, a group of kids stood around non-commitally chatting and smoking. We watched as they greeted the parking space thief as he got out of his truck. They all appeared to be fresh out of high school in their tight jeans. Each one wearing a tee that bore the name of a 60 or 70 rock musician that they've probably never even heard of. As we drove past, they barely moved out of the way (maybe being a bit defiant themselves) as we tried to scoot by them to find a parking space. I gave them a gypsy curse kind of glare- which I must say matched pretty well with my head wrapped in a gypsy-like bandana.

Finally, we found a spot and parked in the farthest lot from the trailhead. We bitched about those annoying space thieves for a few minutes and then geared up for the hike. It was a very warm day. The heat generated the noon sun. Considering the weather had been pretty rainy around here lately, the extra Vitamin D instantly put us back into good spirits.

First, we walked to the parking lot nearest the trail and let the cool breath of the cave invite us in. The cave was only a few hundred feet long with two old abandoned train tracks, quite possibly for transporting the coal that now surrounded us. The only sound besides our own voices and soft skuff of our boots was the dripping water from above our heads. In the distance, we could hear birds tweeting.

As we neared the end of the cave, we heard human voices again. Up against the grafitti covered wooden barrier, we looked down upon the river. Part of a concrete bridge stood in front of us and to our right were a few dozen rafters in lifejackets being trained by kayakers. The water curled and splashed white in places awaiting the rafters challenge.

Some families and couples hung out on the shore, a few had their dogs on leashes, and one couple skipped rocks into the speeding river. While the mouth of this cave was wide enough for all to see you, from inside of this cave, the darkness made you feel like a spy. We watched for a little longer, commenting on a father and son preparing to take two triangular inner tubes downstream, and then turned back watching cave dwelling birds fly in and out tending their nests in some cubbies. Once back into the light, we crossed the wooden bridge and made our way to the falls approach trail.


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