Unexpected Souvenirs

Two years ago, I wandered from a laundromat in Southwest Harbor, Maine, into an adjoining bar I’d been avoiding for the past hour. It was mid-day, a rainy one at that (actually, the rain was partly what had brought us to the laundromat), and the sounds emanating from the bar were a loud mix of music, television, and voices. It didn’t seem like the type of place I really wanted to wander into in the middle of the day, but I really needed to use the restroom.

So, while Chris waited with the laundry-in-progress, I hesitantly walked through the divide. It ended up being possibly the best decision either of us had made all day.

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Planned Walks, ie, Hiking Vacations

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Guidebooks galore.

Everyday hiking and walking, as in the sort I might do after work or on the weekend, requires little or no planning. Obviously it’s important to make sure storms aren’t imminent, or trails aren’t closed for some reason, but beyond that, it’s easy just to pick up and go.

Trip planning is different – somewhat. Certainly I treat it differently, in that I take care to note which trails are “must do,” which look like nice backups, and so on. But in some ways, it ends up being similar to everyday experiences due to such factors as unexpected weather and individual whims.

Continue reading “Planned Walks, ie, Hiking Vacations”

Dolly Sods Wilderness, WV

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Meadow in Dolly Sods

We backpacked in the Dolly Sods Wilderness area in West Virginia last weekend. The Lions Head hike, a 21-mille loop that begins and ends on Forest Road 75, was one I’d wanted to do for some time, and we decided last month that we’d go for it over Memorial Day weekend. As it approached, it seemed the weather forecasters concurred that this was a good weekend to be outdoors. So, apparently, did most of the DC-metro region, and they were at Dolly Sods in droves. College types, casual hikers, some families.

Hikingupward.com, where I got the specs for the hike, rates it a 3 out of 5 for solitude. Obviously my judgment will be skewed by having gone over a long weekend comprised of the best three consecutive weather days in recent memory, but I think the 3 is a bit high. To be fair, the hiking didn’t feel crowded, most of the time, so maybe I’d rate that a 2.5. But the camping! The camping! And the group of yelling guys who decided to set up shop nearby — NOT a 3 out of 5! I’ll be generous and say 1.5. Again, who knows — the entire region was out there.

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First Day Hikes

Hiking on January 1st has been a tradition for me for several years. Actually, being active outdoors seems to be my trend on “fireworks holidays” – the 4th of July and New Year’s. When I was in high school, there were several 4ths when I’d go for long(ish, at the time, 13-14 miles) bike rides from my then-hometown to the Delaware River. I’ve also hiked on some 4ths, starting with Mount Diablo in the Bay Area about four years ago. These two “fireworks holidays” are great for so many reasons. They’re on opposite sides of the year, and so guarantee diverse weather conditions; they are largely obligation free–you can do as much or as little as you like; and, of course, they include fireworks!

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Cool tools for when walks go awry

My husband Chris recently said, “I’ve never in my life regretted going for a walk.” It’s a lovely sentiment, as it captures so well the essence of how I feel after a good walk, especially if I didn’t necessarily want to get off the couch in the first place. Since it’s such a well-put statement, I wish I were using it somewhere better than this entry.

Because nice as it sounds, it isn’t really true. Continue reading “Cool tools for when walks go awry”