Thursday, June 2, 2016

Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliffs May 22,2016

I really need to get this post done before I move onto my next adventure!!!

Because my kids were with their Dad and I really wanted to use the maximum amount of my time for me I decided to leave the AMC hike and just drive to NH. I was already in Milton and could jump on Rt 93/95 and head north with an almost 1 hour leap from the Cape. Typically when I hike in NH I leave by say 7am and drive about 3 hours and drive home all in 1 day. This makes for a long and exhausting day but it's always worth it.
I had investigated a bunk house as it was the cheapest option to just sleep and be closer to where I wanted to be , unfortunately when I checked the website on the way up they would only allow me to book 2 days out. No phone number, no nothing.
I soon found a Hostel that was slightly more but allowed me to book online and pay when I arrived. of course when I arrived I found  a locked door and a note with a number to call. This is where it got weird. A woman answers, I explain I booked online so she gives me the door code and all the instructions for where to leave by boots and gear, which bedroom to sleep in and says I will process your credit card and we hang up.
I locate my room and the glorious fact that they have showers. ( the other place did not!) I run into my roommate and she explains she has had a long day and is headed to bed. I am in the same boat and try to be quiet. This room has 7 beds and luckily it is just the 2 of us. She is gracious enough to get me some clean sheets as the bed I picked is bare. After I clean up I am able to hit the hay by 8:20. I am exhausted from my 7 mile hike and travels.
I wake up in the morning a little after 5 and quietly pack up.
I slipped my cash and a note in the lock box, striped my bed and was sitting in town eating breakfast by 6:20.
The only, and I really mean only, negative thing about that hostel was it's location to where I had planned to hike. I had a little over an hours drive to the trail head BUT I soon learned that this wasn't even as issue when I took the drive. I mean really, the Kangamangus Highway at 7am was heavenly. I stopped a couple of times but needed to remind myself I would never get to the trail if I kept this up.

This is the kiosk as the start to the trail. Also someone graciously left 4-5 cool walking sticks by a tree at the start of the trail. 
After some investigation I decided to take the side trip on the Bemis  Brook Trail, although the trail back UP to the Arethusa-Ripley Trail was a bitch it was worth it. I passed 2 actual identified Falls but the entire trail was just water bubbling everywhere. At one point I even left trail and walked up the flat rock joining the trail at the next opening.

It just seemed to be Waterfall after waterfall this whole first mile. This is the Coliseum Falls.

The trail back up was a lot of rock scrambling but I liked the work of it. 

Both of the bridges to Arethusa had holes or broken sections.

I was very sad to see the damage of such a heavily traveled trail. So far I had only seen 1 hiker pass me on their way out but clearly this is like Disney World at other times. And who puts graffiti on trees? Really people? I explain to the girls every time we go out to leave Mother Nature the hell alone and leave the place like you were never there. It's good for the earth and the next person should be able to enjoy it like we were never there.
About 1 mile in I am coming down a deep set of stairs and around a bend to this. 
I have heard it described as 150 to 200 ft falls, all I know is that it was huge. I wish there was a way to show the scale. I didn't climb down into the bottom but sat on the side, rested and ate just listening and smiling. 
This is why I drive, sweat, and swear. My heart is happy right here.

I don't want to leave but I know this is only mile 1 of maybe 5-7 more I have to travel so I pack up and move on. I don't have many pictures of the next couple miles but it was quieter as the water fell behind and the flowers were the focus of this part.
When I came to the Ripley Falls turn I had to make a decision. Do I hike about 2.5 extra miles out and back to see them? I decide not too. I am still not up to the Cliff height so I know I have more work to do and have a couple more miles just to get out of this loop. If I had more time maybe.
So on I go. Passing 1 lone hiker.
To give you an idea of the ground that can be covered on foot the picture below has a small white nick in the green woods just to the left of the pine tree, that is the Arethusa falls.
Pretty Cool, huh?

Another funny little point about hiking-when you see a sign like this, you just do it. Like sure, add another mile on just so I don't miss something as cool as a place called Falcon Cliff. Did I hold onto a tree just to take this next picture? Yes!! But it doesn't seem so stupid when you are doing it. You are just in another world and constantly amazed and delighted by the smallest things. I will stand and listen to a woodpecker at work or have a staring contest with a chipmunk while I try to silently get a photo. 
Sometimes the amazing part is how small I am in this enormous place. 
Just a random cool little part of the trail. 
The view from the cliffs was beautiful and amazing. At one point there was even a lookout to the rear where you could see Mt Washington. 

The train bridge was another of my favorite views of the day as the sky was clearing up. I climbed up the side just to see it and take some photos and I am so glad that I did. I had to climb back down as the trail actually goes under this enormous bridge as you can see.

As I made my way down I passed these walls of rock with water ever so gently rolling down. There are not a lot of pictures after this as the trail was loose gravel and attention needed to be on staying upright.

Finally a group of about 5 passed me just after this spot so I think in approximately 6 miles and 4 hours I saw a total of about 12 people. It seemed more would come from one end or the other but the center between the Falls and the Cliffs was quiet and solitary which I enjoyed. 
As the descent became more gradual and I stepped out onto a dirt road back to the parking lot I was feeling great, accomplished and sort of like a hiker. I don't know exactly when that change occurred but it sort of did after this weekend. I am definitely still a beginner but I am for sure done with the question of whether I would consider myself a hiker.

And we are back again. When I started this journey the white van and I were the only ones here. You can see here that as Sunday's weather cleared up more people came out to enjoy it. The parking lot was full on both sides with about 2 dozen cars. I for one am happy to be headed home now. Well after a big lunch of course. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

AMC Hike Series #1

Saturday May 21st I gathered with a group of 21 in the parking lot of Houghton pond. The group was varied. different ages, equipment and lots of ladies. I also noted about half a dozen people from the Boston area who hadn't attended our workshop so they must have offered it to other AMC groups too. I am clearly a Cape Cod girl and was mystified with people taking an Uber to hike. City Livin' I guess. 
As usual I was looking around gauging my inadequacies. I took one last walk to the ladies room and while at a distance i did a little hamstring stretching hoping to prevent sore legs tomorrow. I noted a once over of what I was doing from an older woman who appeared to be in all the best, up to date gear that I dream about. She had the pack, pants, proper shirt, hat and walking poles. 
Berry, just do your thing. I need to progress through this series if I want to join other bigger hikes later. 
After too many stories from a knowledgeable but over chatty guide we finally decided to get going 20 minutes late even though a few hadn't shown up. 
I have hiked this first loop maybe half a dozen times and I like the work involved. I did not expect a woman to stop halfway up the first hill maybe 50ft from the road and announce this was not her thing. See in trying to manage my feeling of hiking in a group I had just added myself to the back and the last 2 people were 2 guides who I really liked. They were friendly, super knowledgeable and yet on the quiet side. I was very happy at their response to her. they encouraged her to stay. To not be concerned about her heavy breathe and sweat. We all were breathing heavy at this point. It was work. 
Please stay with us for a bit longer and see what you think. They promised her an out as we looped back around the figure 8 if she wanted to get out she could. Generally you can't leave a group hike. The group stays together but being the location and the first hike for folks they had a sort of emergency escape hatch. 
Soon as we crested and came to a place that we could stay off the trail and take a plan was made to split up as to not be such a steam roller on the trail. 21 people can take up some space. 
I decided to try to place myself in a group of people that appeared to be able to hike a bit faster but they didn't really have a great gauge yet so the groups were still mixed and they let the slower group go first. This meant we in the second group caught up multiple times and stopped and waited for them to get ahead. Luckily I came with my patience knowing this is a learning experience for all.
I stopped quickly and took this photo but was quickly reminded that phones were not allowed on AMC hikes.
After lunch at the tower we were headed back down the north side of the skyline. This time we re-grouped for a second time and the faster group with the 2 guides I liked headed out first.
During my time so far I noticed lots of things. The group varied by gear a lot and I really need to keep working on my assumptions. They are so often wildly wrong.
The woman with the great expensive gear that I was so intimidated by was one of the people who struggled and may not hike again. The guy with no gear and what I would say was a Job Lot $5 backpack stayed with the second group and was super interested in hearing stories of other peoples hikes. Age didn't matter either. A 20 year old had to stop, peel off layers down to almost her bathing suit and rest often once we got to the second loop but a 60 year old woman traveled the whole 7 miles slow and steady with her full pack, pants and long sleeves and trekking poles.
The lesson here....You never know and don't underestimate anyone even yourself.
We made it back to reservation headquarters. We rested, snacked and waited for the 2nd group to catch up. The weather was beautiful but sunny and hot. The multiple stops were a little frustrating to start but allowed plenty of opportunity to stay hydrated.
We split our groups again for the third time. One group would go out to Tucker hill and circle back to the lot on the flatter route. The other group would go up and over Tucker Hill and Buck Hill and circle back. The photo below I took as we are headed back down Buck to follow our steps over Tucker and back to the parking lot. Total mileage estimate is about 7miles over maybe 4.5 hours.
The hump on the left is Great Blue Hill where we just sat and had lunch about 2 hours ago.
What else did I learn today:
1. I am a starving hiker. Bring food and real good food. 
2. I have more hiking experience than some but still a lot to learn.
3. This interest is only going to get bigger and take on a big part of my life.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Let's get our hike on.

If you recall I went to a beginner hike class a few weeks ago. In order to join them on some more serious hikes I need to "prove my worth" by participating in a hike series. The first of which is tomorrow. I have been throwing around the idea of making this a weekend trip but was unsure financially if I could do it.
Today is the day that I need to get my plan on!
I took their planning list and made my own. It really is an over pack for this type of trip but they want to see that we can carry a full pack. I would like some better options but have no time to shop so for now I will pack my old baseball hat and some Off bug spray.
They say it should be a 6-7 mile figure 8 route and the group will be large. I am not really looking forward to that but maybe just maybe a few of the cool ladies I sat with last time will be there.
I should probibly just come home after but I think the laundry can wait and I can have a small adventure on a short budget if I work it right.
I have decided to drive up to the White Mountains after this trip. It ends around 2pm and I am already an hour north from the Cape. I can stay at the New England Mountaineering bunkhouse for $22 and be in the mountains when I wake up. Hot Diggity!
I am super excited and just a little bit nervous but that is my norm when I do this kinda stuff lately. I need a few things to eat but I can secure that stuff while on my way up north. For now the only thing I need is my sleeping bag and a few things for the overnight stay.
My Sunday goal is about a 5 mile loop to the Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff. I should see 2 waterfalls on this hike, a great view from the cliffs and a train trellus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Olivia's Adventurous Birthday Party

Originally this girl wasn't going to come but she changed her mind. It was cool and sad to see her trying to hang with the older girls. I am  the oldest but I can see where being the little sister is tough. Kylie is a great friend to both of them so it helped during the sleepover.
By the end of the day we had decided we definitely needed to come back and try it ourselves.
After falling in love with the rope course at Great Wolf Lodge we have been talking about this park opening and Olivia decided this would be her 13th birthday party with 3 friends. It came early as we are super busy around her birthday and this was our best fit.
The weather was nice yet a little chilly and windy. Sadly the wind closed a few of the courses for safety but the girls got to do 3 courses and still had a great time over 2 hours.

After they were all harnessed up they were brought over to a practice station and I soon learned that they were in control of their whole adventure. Um, what??? They were taught how to lock themselves onto the tree and then the line and how to hook their zip line up themselves. I followed alone with the directs as well so I could attempt to help from the ground. I soon noticed that it really is a fail-safe system that one hook can not be removed until the next is secured and at no time are you ever just standing or climbing without being tethered to something.

These next couple photos were their first steps onto the course and it was funny and slow. They were deliberate with their movements and paid attention. I was quite proud of them. Ava and I both played spotter from the ground giving advice and the employees also helped with encouragement on a few that we needed direction or just a "You can do this!!" on one that was basically walking across a 2X6 that was suspended on its side. I will be honest I might have cried too but Olivia crossed and did this course a second time before we left at 2pm.

The timing worked out great too. As you were making your way across the next person was setting up all their equipment so it was a smooth transition.
Below you can see just as Kylie is coming across that 2X6's, Hanna was hooking up to climb the ladder and Drea was prepping to cross next.Olivia is already up the ladder and secured to the tree.

This below is Hanna. I think this was the scariest of all routes that I saw and she was the only one to do it. They closed it before Liv could get on. Her mother showed up just after this and was not surprised. Apparently Hanna is a regular risk taker.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My Stories

I am currently reading another blogger- Letting Go of My Story:I am not a broken woman.

I am literally blogging while I read because
to all of it so far.
I had been trying to be more authentic, not hide my feelings, be trapped by my should's or what I think people expect of me.  This is extremely hard when you have spent the last 43 year living like this. My days are pretty much spent doing something and then thinking about whether I did the right thing, fighting the urge to ask others if it was the right thing and waiting for the fall out of my wrong decision. It's really rather exhausting like most of my brain processes.
I have also found myself explaining why I say or do things. I have a horrific story of my past to explain every single thing. Example- I have never done that because I used to be fat. Really? Can I get out from under that fat girl finally it was almost 10 years ago.
I could go on and on with more examples but really it just is me explaining "my stories" again. I spent some time actually talking out loud about this with Dot the other day. It's funny how sometimes saying it out loud unmixes things that your head has jumbled and made into a tight ball.
I really don't want to keep explaining myself, attaching a horrific story as to why and again feeling victimized by the story.
Sure the past has shaped the way I make decisions like walking on a path over and over again wears a trail BUT I make the decision today to happily keep walking that trail or bushwhacking a new one. 
I am thinking of 2 exercises to help me progress past this place. I am beginning to think that this is a bigger movement than I even know at this point but I need to move forward.
1. I want to list all the past.....I can't find the word. Ideas, labels, pains, stories and burn them. Be done with them. They are not who I am, they are things that happened to me.
I think I thought I was being authentic and honest to claim these things. Like I'm a child of alcoholics, I am divorced, I was hit by a previous boyfriend and saw my mother abused by my father. I work in a place where I hear horrible things, I have been treated crappy and harsh words spoken about me. I have put everyone else before me because I do not think I am worthy of love, mine or yours. I have been bullied as both a child and an adult. I have lost everything physical in my life that I thought made me a successful adult.
Just typing these has physically jarred me.
This next part is actually just as hard if not harder. 
2.It is going to be a work in progress and I think I will physically make something to look at everyday. I would like to list the things I actually am. I have seen this done with millions of descriptive words. At this point I can only think of a few surface descriptions of myself. Clearly this will be tough but I hope if I get rid of the old trash thoughts I can make room for the fresh, new, pink, bright, strong ideas about myself.

This year I have really been struggling with my purpose or goal or motivation. I have been rough on myself feeling lazy, unmotivated physically and not able to feel the happiness I once thought I had a good handle on. Just looking back on this post alone I am realizing that the work is being done behind the scenes and it is "hugantic". Rest up girlfriend because only incredible things can come from this. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

NH Ice Castle

How o'how did I let this post not happen???
It is our trip to the Ice castle in NH back on January 31st. I almost just deleted it but the photos are so great. Next year if we go i think we need to head up earlier or sleep over. The town was cute but we basically cruised thru it so we didn't lose our 2pm entry time. Also seeing the castle at night would have been neat but those time slots sell out fast.
After we did a little exploring. Mom drooled over the mountain backdrop and we walked a short way off Rt 3 to the Basin. Just a quick stop but winning the kids over to Winter Outdoor activities was a success. 
So although it is May enjoy the pics and check it out if you can deal with the crowds. 

Race Results

09/07/07 Main Street Mile 11:44
05/18/08 YPD 5k 52:57 17:05
06/14/08 Walpole Village 5K 35:27 11:26
06/21/08 Mashpee Fun Run 34:21 11:05
07/19/08 Mashpee Woodlands 36.49 11:52
08/10/08 Falmouth Road Race 1:29:31
08/25/08 Women Running Wild 35:40 11:30
10/25/08 Mashpee Firefighters 37:47 12:10
05/02/09 Cape Abilities 5K 34:59 11:17
05/17/09 YPD 5K 36:41 11:50
08/09/09 Falmouth Road Race 7mi 1:37
10/31/09 Mashpee Firefighters 5K 37:15 12:00
09/11/11 Main Street Mile 12:31
10/29/11 Screech to the Beach 5K 39.13 12:20
08/12/12 Falmouth Road Race 1:34:24 13:29
05/18/14 YPD 5k 44.25 14:17
06/1/14 June Jog 4mi 1:04 16:00
08/17/14 Falmouth Road Race 1:42:04 14:35
09/27/14 Girly Girl 5K 37:24 12:02
10/26/14 Pell Bridge Run 4mi 48:41 12:10
11/27/14 Turkey Trot in VA 5K 35:22 11:23
12/06/14 Jingle Jog 5K 34:42 11:11
03/29/15 Thomas Guinta Memorial 5K 34:14 11:03
04/19/15 St. Margaret's 5K 31:11 10:21
05/17/15 YPD Blues 5K 34:58 11:17
06/07/15 Newport 10 Miler 1:56:09 11:36
06/20/15 Mackenzie's 5K 33:55 10:54
08/17/14 Falmouth Road Race 1:33:51 13:24
10/31/15 Screech at the Beach 36:19 11:40