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…so Paula and I woke up to rain Sunday morning; not exactly what we had in mind for one of the longest hikes on our journey to becoming 46ers. I personally don’t mind the rain and we’ve both hiked in it previously, but for eighteen miles?! I think the stubbornness within me kicked in and I was determined to reach that summit.

We loaded up our packs, put on our rain gear and started, slowly toward Allen Mountain. Because we were already at Livingston Point, we only had to travel a half mile or so to the trail that ran parallel to the Opalescent River. I would love one day to return to this trail because I could hear the Hanging Spear Falls and see them through the brush, but had no desire to stop because I was already coming to the realization that I was going to be wet soaked all day. Hiking in the rain is one thing but having sopping wet boats that squish with each step is another. From early on in this hike did I have to remind myself repeatedly why I wanted this so bad.

The three and a half miles went fairly quickly until we had reached an opening with private property signs. This threw us off because we could see where the trail kept going but Paula had the idea/inclination that we were suppose to be on this property. We continued on about ten minutes and came to an odd intersection. To the left was a yellow marker trail (what we needed to follow out to the car) and to the left was a massive sign carved out of wood that said Allen. That to me looked familiar (and obvious that that was indeed the trail to Allen) but the trail seemed to go into two opposite directions: left and right. The right was used far more frequently than the left but Paula swore she saw a yellow marker on that trail = Allen is NOT marked = couldn’t have been the trail we were looking for. We dumped the contents of our packs (in the rain) to the left and proceeded on. But this was clearly not the trail.

My assumption was that these were trails used by the property owners and not hikers. I hiked back out and over to that mysterious “marked” trail and my gut said go. Turns out the yellow markers were made of recycled plastic and were intended to help hikers. I convinced Paula to follow me and ensured her that if we didn’t get to some sort of registry, then we’d turn around. With my luck, the registry was found! One solo hiker had signed in previous to us so I was optimistic that we’d see him at one point throughout the day. I secretly hoped we weren’t too far behind him.

The trail to the mountain was long and somewhat uneventful for the two miles. It was muddy in plenty of sections but because we were pretty wet, we didn’t really mind. It was so cloudy we didn’t have any views and couldn’t even really see where we were headed/what we were about to hike. Things got very interesting once we got to the Allen Brook.

This trail normally runs up a brook. In the rain, it felt like we were climbing up a river; over rocks with slippery algae and very little to hang on to. It was very slow moving and each step was calculated. I could tell that Paula was out of her element big time and realistically she and I should have established a turn around time. The higher we got, the steeper the large sections of rock became and we were basically crawling. Right when I think the two of us were getting ready to call it quits in the heavy rain, we ran into the guy who was signed in before us! I of course had to ask him how close we were to the summit and he said another 45 minutes or so… “are you kidding me?!” I thought. He even went on to tell us that it got steeper, more slippery, AND almost dangerous. I could hear him hinting for us to turn around.

I could see it on Paula’s face, she was convinced in turning around. I was torn: I did NOT want to turn around. I also didn’t want her to sit there and wait for me in the cold if I decided to go on without her. I don’t remember what I said or the tone in which I said it but she kept going. She moved slower and I talked her into every step; also talking myself into every step forward. I do remember thinking, “this guy doesn’t know who we are or what we’ve hiked. We can do this.” And we did. And when we reached that summit there were high-fives and middle fingers.

After we got our photographs out of the way, we sat down for a quick snack and realized that it was after two in the afternoon. We still had get down that mess we had just climbed and walk an additional seven miles or so out. And those miles had their own obstacles for us to face.

See I don’t like heights, which means on hikes I don’t like cliffs, climbing hand over hand on boulders or climbing ladders. I especially don’t like climbing off of ladders. There have been plenty of times on my journey to becoming a 46er where this fear has been tested. For Paula, she does not like water crossings, no matter the size. She is just extra cautious in fear of getting wet and having our gear ruined. What I didn’t realize was that all she had been thinking about all day was the three water crossings that were ahead of us. And after a day of rain, she was worried that they’d be worse. I’d have been doing the same if I knew three of the biggest cliffs were ahead of me, potentially in the dark.

We walked as fast as we could. When we signed out of the registry, it was just after 5 o’clock. We both knew we had about two hours of hiking ahead of us and that the remaining portion of the hike would be in the dark. Luckily we were both prepared. I tried to stay as calm as positive and kicked it into high gear to get us out. Our pace was fast and I kept my head lamp off for as long as possible so that I could see more clearly in the dusk. Once the headlamps were on, all you could see in front of you was what was lit. We now had to be extra careful of our steps and alert to the noises around us. It was hunting season after all.

Our first water crossing was the Opalescent River. This looked like it had enough rocks for me to scramble over and I am usually a pro, but my right foot sunk into the water and I quickly hopped over other rocks as fast as possible to the other side. Paula managed great with the use of her poles. Our second water crossing was suppose to be over Lake Jimmy but the bridge, well, it is no longer existing. Lucky for us, a team cleared a marked trail around the lake with no issues at all. Slightly longer milage, no complaints.

Our third water crossing was the Hudson River. There was no avoiding getting wet here. It was either take your boots off and walk across barefoot or go boots-‘n-all because the car should only be a few hundred yards away. I decided on the boots-‘n-all option and started in. Paula hollered for me to stay with her, and I did, laughing and thinking to myself, “this is the best way to end the day.” The water wasn’t too fast but had definitely risen up over our gators to about our knees. And we were right, the cars was only a few hundred yards in front of us. Seven- thirty at night, after twelve hours of hiking in the rain, we had left the woods.

We were hooting and high-fiving and snapping photographs and stripping off layers of clothes and just talking about what we had just accomplished. There was so much excitement between the two of us. With the heat cranked, we called in our orders at the Noonmark Diner, drove up the Northway to exit thirty and checked into the Rooster Comb Inn. We had warm beds and hot showers awaiting us but couldn’t stay up too late; we had another day of hiking ahead of us.

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This is a very long overdue post that I was hesitant to write about because I can’t share any photographs, but decided to go for it regardless. The post covers the span of four days so I’ve decided to break it up into three posts.

This post is about my hiking trip I took the weekend before I finished up my 46. Paula and I set out the Columbus Day weekend, on Saturday, and didn’t return home until late Tuesday night after hiking five mountains. You read that correctly, five of the 46.

Saturday we drove up around noon to Upper Works after I finished my morning shift at the store and decided to park at the first parking lot because we knew that would be the lot we’d come out at on Monday. We had a short walk on the dirt road to the second (furthest) lot, logged in, took note of all of the cars parked for the holiday weekend and started on the Calamity Brook trail to the flowed lands. One special thing that I remember from this walk in was that we stumbled upon the monument for David Henderson who died near the trail in 1845. I still haven’t researched who he was or his significance to the Adirondacks, but it was a gorgeous location and quick break (our packs were heavy!). All of the lean-tos we passed were full, so Paula and I continued on and ended up at Livingston Point. It was very secluded but right on the Flowed Lands; my new favorite spot in the whole park to date. If you are friends with me on Facebook, my cover photograph was taken our second evening on the water. We unpacked, ate a hot meal then settled into our sleeping bags around seven. I was passed out within ten minutes.

Sunday morning we woke as the sun was just rising and Paula mentioned that two men had passed by the previous night in the dark. When I went down by the water I couldn’t find them and because the trail ended at our location, I was confused as to where they had gone. I decided to walk along the water’s edge and found a trail that cut across the bog. I told Paula about it while I ate my big bowl of hot soup for breakfast and we decided to try and cross the bog. On our way over, we found the two men; they had camped out on a little “island”. They were curious to see if we could get across because they too had to get over on that side of the bog and cutting across would shave off miles from their trip too. Well, we made it! It was wet in some places and the brush was thick (especially because I was in shorts) but we were all smiles and high-fives on the other side. This put us at the base of the Uphill Brook, and we followed the trail to the Uphill lean-to where the intersection for Cliff and Redfield were.

It was uphill but a very scenic route with plenty of waterfalls and gorges in the rocks. Oh, and the privy at the Uphill lean-to was clean and a great stop before (and after) climbing Cliff Mountain. The trails to these two peaks were unmarked but very easy to follow. The number one thing I remember about Redfield was the mud. The number one thing I hated about Cliff were the cliffs! I can’t imagine hiking to that summit in the winter- yikes! Gotta do one thing a day that scares you, right? The day was absolutely gorgeous and we did get views along the trails and on the peak of Redfield.

On the way down the Uphill Brook trail, it was like a highway. Tons of people were either looking for a lean-to or heading out to their vehicles to head home. Once again, we cut across the bog and were happy to see that no one else decided to camp out at our spot. Because we cut off almost four miles of our anticipated trip, we finished in the daylight and I decided to sit down by the water. It was beyond gorgeous; I took my boots off, soaked my feet in the freezing water and just thought about how grateful I was to be experiencing that day. As the stars starting to show, I walked back up to camp and cooked up a warm meal.

So many people have asked me what I eat on the trail, especially now that I’m vegan. And while that’ll be a separate post, I will share with you now what I eat for dinner. When I was preparing for my first overnight, I knew I’d want something quick, healthy, warm and substantial enough to fuel my body after a long day of hiking and before another day of hiking. I stumbled upon Tasty Bites at my local health food store, but I only had one option that was vegan; the channa masala. I tried it and was hooked! Paired with rice, I was stuffed and satisfied. Once I got back from that overnight, I immediately reached out to Tasty Bites to see if they’d like to sponsor any other overnights that I would encounter while finishing up- and they agreed!

I was beyond thrilled when they sent me seven packets of food to try! There was a great mix of noodles and classic Indian meals. For the two overnights mentioned above, I brought the lemongrass ginger Asian noodles and the Bombay potatoes respectively. Although the noodles weren’t as soft as I would have preferred, they weren’t mushy and had a great flavor. I was a little nervous that it wasn’t going to be enough, but it was and I even had room for dessert (a fig newton or two). The Bombay potatoes I saved for the second night because I knew I’d be hungrier after a longer day, and I was right! It was the perfect mix of potatoes and chickpeas with a wonderful flavor that most aren’t expecting in a camping situation.

What I love most about Tasty Bite products is that on all seven packages of food, I recognized every single ingredient. Better yet, I have almost every ingredient in my own kitchen. Each packet costs just over $3 and doesn’t take up much space in my bear canister. They simmer well over a small canister flame and can also be reheated by simply placing into boiling water. I could have saved the remaining packets for future hikes but was too curious to taste them; they made a great meal at my desk when I didn’t have the time to step out and dinners, when I didn’t want to make something from scratch. Some of my other favorite options are the pad thai (!), aloo palak and spinach dal.

Back to the hike… I washed up my dinner dishes, bundled up and stood under the stars listening to the animals moving around in the bog. It surely was a peaceful night. Again, Paula and I were tucked into our bags early and although it was cold when we fell asleep, it was much warmer in the morning. Warmer weather typically means one thing: cloud cover. And it was cloudy alright, with rain falling…

{The Tasty Bite samples were provided to me at no cost however, all opinions are my own. I will continue to be a big fan of theirs and will continue to pack their meals in my bear canister for each overnight.}

Four weeks ago I decided that I was going to register for the Troy Turkey Trot 10k = my first 10k race ever.

I also decided that I wanted to finish under 56 minutes = 8:59 average mile = the first time ever running a race in the 8:XX range.

So, I laced up my sneakers and set out to run the 6.2 miles to see how much time I’d need to shave off. I ran it in 1:00:46 = 9:48 pace = I needed to shave off 4 minutes and 47 seconds or 49 seconds per each mile.

Today I ran the Troy Turkey Trot 10k and I CRUSHED my goal: 54:35!!! That equals an 8:48 pace, which means I shaved off 6 minutes and 11 seconds. Also means I shaved off an entire minute per each mile.

Blows. My. Mind.

Quick race recap: Miles 1 & 2 Started off going over the Green Island Bridge, my normal route for my long runs. Last week when I ran a test run (in 55:36 btw), this first mile was my slowest and I was expecting the same today. Nope. Instead I ran an 8:45. And then again for the second mile. I was nervous that I started out too fast but knew that even if I slowed down a tad, that I’d still have wiggle room. Oh, and my Garmin quit for some odd reason before we even made it to the first mile marker. Probably the best thing that could have happened.

Miles 3 & 4 I really started to feel this pace. My breathing was harder but by the time we got to the park/111 street, I knew I only had to run home. Each time I saw a mile marker, I did the math and knew that I was keeping my original pace. My friend Phil snapped a photograph of us, and when I asked him what the pace was, his response was: crushin’ it!

Miles 5 & 6 I had to mentally tell myself that I was doing it and that just because I was out of breath did not mean I was going to quit. Around mile 5 I ever so loudly asked those around me if I was going to get a medal… which they all seemed to think was funny; I don’t know if I was delirious or just searching for something to look forward to… but they all reassured me that I would get one. The wind near Brown’s pushed me forward up one of the last *small* hills and from there…

… the last .2 was a full sprint. When I rounded that corner and saw the time on the clock, I had to hold back the tears. I saw the beau, who I thought was taking a video and I ever so loudly screamed, “I did it!” I had done it. And then I searched for the volunteers who were handing out the finishing medals.

I must admit that this race has lit a flame in me that I never knew was there. I’ve run races before in the past and yet still had the crazy idea in my head that I wasn’t a runner. I think it’s because I’ve never finished a marathon. I know, I know, so not right but that’s what was in my head. I don’t have that feeling any more. This race at this pace, changed my image of myself. I officially feel like a runner. And can’t wait to lace up my sneakers again.

quick (unwanted) update.

Well, the time I was dreading and avoiding has finally come. I’ve run out of free space on this blog.

You may have noticed this because some of my photographs have started to disappear.

I am now forced to buy storage and if I’m going to do that, I might as well find a host and dive into purchasing my domain. But the problem is: I don’t know if I want to keep this blog.

This is something that I have been discussing out loud for only a few days but has been in the back of my head for the past couple of weeks. I have become bored and to say it simply, unmotivated and uninspired to share my life. There are a few reasons as to why I think this has happened and I’m trying to figure out if changes (to this space) were to happen, if that spark will return.

It’s not about the number of viewers or the amount of likes. Nor is it about comments. I have always continued to write for myself with the knowledge that someone, somewhere could read it. My content has changed a lot over the past couple of years and I’d like to think that things (my writing and photography) have changed for the better. I just don’t want to write because I feel like I have to; I want to continue to write because I can’t wait to share (and document, really).

So, on top of having to work every single day this week, like to the maximum to prepare for black Friday, I have this looming over my head. I have to evaluate my next move and count pennies because like everything else in life, this isn’t free. As a heads-up, if I do post, it won’t be documented with photographs. The good news is I’ll still be posting on my Instagram feed until I figure this all out. And I say this only because as a reader of many blogs, the photographs pull me in. I’d miss them too if I were you.

But I should be posting sometime in the near future; Thursday is a huge day for me goal-wise.

Are any bloggers out there reading this? Ever have a “writer’s block” and not think you want to continue? Did you just jump right in and buy your domain from the beginning? So many questions in my head.

One morning while walking back from brunch, we noticed how chilly it had become over the previous week. I then thought that I should put out extra feed for the birds to enjoy; I did after all have to winterize the porch. And then the idea of a vegan alternative to suet came to mind.

While understanding that most birds in the ‘hood are indeed omnivores, I’d prefer not to purchase any products made of animals and bring them into our living environment. I quickly turned to the Internet for a recipe and took to the kitchen early yesterday morning. It was the chilliest day yet!

Veggie “Suet” Blocks Makes four blocks

  • 2 cups of veggie shortening
  • just over a cup of bird seed
  • about half a cup of peanut butter (it’s all I had in the cupboard)

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Melt the veggie shortening over a low heat to prevent it from burning. Once completely melted, turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Then stir in the seeds. Pour into a mold (I used an aluminum pan) and cool until solid- I put the pan out on the back porch and it only took about thirty minutes to harden. Cut and put into feeder; I had a leftover suet cage from last winter. Hang and watch the birds gobble it up!

Oh, and you can keep the leftovers in the freezer until the next time you need to refill.

This was a softer recipe and next time I think I’ll try adding a little chickpea flour to firm it up more- but it did hold it’s shape well. I love having birds around and jump out of bed in the morning when I hear them in the (glass) feeder. I’ve only seen one blue jay this year and he was gorgeous! Don’t get me wrong, the little chickadees are darling but I’d love to have mister blue come to visit again this winter. Here’s to lending a helping hand and enjoying every bit of nature, even while living in the city.

a day trip: Woodstock, NY

To piggy-back off of a previous post, instead of buying gifts for each other for the anniversary of our first date, the beau and I decided to take a day trip to Woodstock, NY. I had only driven through this little town after hiking once before but he was more familiar with it because his art had been featured in a gallery down there. I got up early to run my long run, shower, have a hearty breakfast at our regular spot and hit up the local car wash thanks to the HUNDREDS of crows that live in the trees outside of my apartment this time of the year. We were on the road by eleven and at the trail head by noon.

A co-worker suggested that we hike up Overlook Mountain, which I didn’t know the beau  would be interested in doing. Luckily, I was wrong! I think the short distance (just over a mile) combined with the fact that it was on an old carriage road were the selling points. We bundled up and started up the trail!

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We passed a bunch of people who were already heading back to the car, it was a gorgeous autumn day, and within no time had to stop to take our coats off. By the time we made it to our destination, it was getting a little grey out and snow flurries were floating in the air. We decided not to hike to the fire tower and just to the abandoned hotel because we wanted enough time to walk around town before dinner. I loved it! I read up on this old building and it was originally built in 1871 but unfortunately burnt to the ground in 1923. It was so much fun to walk within it’s walls and imagine what it had looked like over a hundred years ago.

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We spent quite a bit of time wandering around but it got cold fast, so back down the trail we went. And then decided to explore the Buddhist monastery across the street from where we parked! There was a retreat happening but we did get a peak inside of the meditation hall.

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Once downtown we shopped, visited a couple of galleries, dreamt about purchasing antiques and laughed plenty of laughs in a neat children’s toy store.

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Seriously, what are those naked baby angels? And did you ever get to dissect owl vomit?

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The beau had originally suggested a trip to Woodstock because he had found an all vegan restaurant for us to have dinner at: Garden Cafe on the Green. Reservations were at five and we had a cute little seat in the window.

I think we were both overwhelmed to have so many options! We both agreed that we should try as much as we wanted/could and that we did! Besides the wine and side salads, this is what we ordered:

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For appetizers: the caesar salad with toasted almonds and the quesadillas with roasted red peppers and kalamata olives. The salsa, guacamole and sour cream were a big hit in my book!

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Dinner for him: pasta with “meatballs” and garlic bread. A classic!

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Dinner for her: wild and brown rice mushroom saute, cornmeal crusted tofu with red wine fig sauce, butternut squash terrine with pistachio swirl and roasted brussels sprouts. Out of this world delicious!

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For dessert: warm chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This serving was huge! Bigger than my hand! My only criticism of this rich, creamy dessert is that it wasn’t a brownie; it was a cake. Of course neither of us complained!

It was a wonderful day. Not buying gifts for each other was a great decision and I enjoyed spending time with him rather than money on an object. I would highly recommend this small town to any New Yorker looking for a day trip, even with the winter weather pressing us. Just remember to bundle up and hold the hand of your loved one.

currently.

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Listening to: I am love love loving Lorde’s new album PURE HEROINE. 400 Lux and Glory and Gore are on repeat all day long. Hard to believe she’s only seventeen; are you a fan?

Anxious about: next week’s race. I set a huge goal for myself and four weeks ago it seemed totally doable. Today, I am still struggling to shave off  thirty seconds off of my pace. Day one my average pace per mile for 6.2 miles was 9:48. Last week/halfway with training it was 9:25. Realistically if I continue to eat my cleanest, run every run with intention and stay hydrated, this is a perfectly attainable goal. But it is easier said than done. This afternoon’s run was just over three miles at an average pace of 9:00; so damn close and so damn hard for me to continue. I’ve got my work cut out for me friends.

Excited about: I was invited to a cookie swap/potluck dinner next month put on by and for local bloggers! I’m looking forward to meeting new people and hopefully trying some good food. I did make a note that I was vegan so hopefully a couple of people will take that into consideration and provide goodies that I can sample and bring home to the beau. If not, that’s okay because let’s be honest, I don’t need all those sweets!

Wondering: if a blood test is really the best bet for finding food allergies? Now that I’ve been vegan for almost a year now, I’m finding that I’m very sensitive to specific foods. I’ve hinted before but gluten has become a major problem for me and it wasn’t until a near-disasterous car ride home from a sushi date that I figured it out; there is gluten in soy sauce. I’m also noting that tofu also causes digestion issues. But not tempeh, which is fermented soy. It could also be that because I am physically pushing myself harder more frequently, my body hasn’t figured out how to adjust or I haven’t properly figured out how to fuel on workout days. Or maybe I’m eating too much fiber at once without any grains? I’m considering a blood test and wondering if anyone out there has ever had one?

Planning: on decorating the mantle in our bedroom this holiday season. Can I just say that holiday decorations are expensive! I’m going to try and save some cash by using items already in the apartment and DIYing some projects.

Loving: all of the love in the air! My little sister is engaged! A close friend of mine is getting married in nine months and asked me to be part of her special day! Another close friend is pregnant and due in the Spring! I don’t feel old enough to announce any of that news but I can happily say that all were planned.

Eating: Despite having belly troubles, I am loving tofu scrambles and burritos. And then stuffing my tofu scrambles inside the burritos. It’s a win win really. I’m also loving my cookie butter and sliced apples snack mid-morning while at work. And vegan gummy bears. And the return of frozen pineapple and raw kale in my breakfy smoothie. Can you tell I made a trip to Trader Joe’s? Speaking of TJ’s, they discontinued our beloved soy chorizo! Insert wailing. The portobello mushroom burger this past Sunday at Carmen’s was probably by far the best portobello mushroom I’ve ever had. Ever. I hope it makes a return to the specials board real soon. I’m craving a good sloppy Joe.

{Wedding magazines found at local CVS. OMG YAY! card found at Troy Cloth & Paper. Dark chocolate found at The Grocery.}