adventure Archives

  1. Interview with Advocate Cycles Founder Tim Krueger →

    The talk surrounding the new mountain bike company, Advocate Cycles, has a theme that Tim’s goal is to build a honest company from the very start, with a focus on quality and not quantity. His business model will certainly be a challenge, but it seems like he has the background to give it an honest attempt.

    What was a bit surprising was the business model that the aptly named Advocate Cycles would use. Taking advantage of a specific set of rules valid in his home state of Minnesota, Tim and his wife and business partner Odia started a Special Benefits Corporation. The goal? To donate 100% of their after-tax profits to bicycling related advocacy non-profit organizations.

    This article is one of the most detailed conversations with Tim I have read yet. I have wanted to get my hands on their Hayduke hardtail mountain bike since I first read about it over at Dirt Rag, but now I want one even more.

    Make sure to check out their Indiegogo campaign. There are still some Advocate Haydukes left for early bidders at $1999 — considerably less than the expected list price of $2650!

  2. Five More Peaks: The Dix Range

    Last weekend I made another trek to the Adirondacks, this time to conquer the five High Peaks in the Dix Range, all of which are attainable on a single day hike. In order of my summits, they were:

    • Macomb Mountain, 4405 ft (5/46)
    • South Dix, 4060 ft (6/46)
    • Grace, 4012 ft (7/46)
    • Hough Peak, 4400 ft (8/46)
    • Dix Mountain, 4857 ft (9/46)

    My hike began at the the Elk Lake trailhead, where — (at around 6:15 in the morning!) — I was able to squeeze the Patriot in at the end of a row of cars, giving me a legal parking spot without worry of being towed. It seems you just can’t get to this place early enough.

    As I learned on my last Adirondacks adventure, encountering hikers along the way is a nice way to gain information about what lies ahead. In the case of this hike, I was trying to determine the most reasonable route down Dix Mountain. The consensus seemed to be to take the trail West of Buck-horn, after reaching Dix. This avoided the longer Hunter Pass trail on the North-side of Dix, and was allegedly a shorter route back to the trailhead.

    I met a few groups of hikers along the way, and found that occasional small conversation during the hike is almost necessary at times. This was especially true of the last three miles, where I couldn’t decide if exhaustion was worse than my sore feet and knees. Needless to say, I am out of the woods again. With nine of the 46 High Peaks under my belt, I’m looking forward to the next journey North.

     

  3. National Trails Day in the Adirondacks

    A little over a month ago I set out to hike Mount Haystack, which, at 4960 feet, is the third tallest High Peak of the Adirondacks. Following last year’s hike up Mount Marcy (5344 ft), this would be my second of the 46 High Peaks.

    I planned my approach to Mount Haystack from the Garden parking lot, in Keene Valley. Having read that the lot fills very early this time of year, a call to the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) revealed that no shuttles would be running to the lot that weekend. So, I arrived as early as a Friday night drive with a decent sleep would permit. At around 6:45am, I was fortunate to find a parking spot, but only a few remained.

    I signed the trail registry and was on my way. The morning was cold — around 40 degrees — at least this is what I remembered reading on my car’s dash on my way into Keene Valley from the Interstate. I was wearing a pair of shorts, a base layer, and a fleece (though my pack had a pair of pants, and other winter gear, if needed for the summit). I contemplated putting on gloves, but knew I would warm up quickly.

    The trail was very damp, and within the first half mile I spotted a red eft, but refrained from taking a photo — I was in the zone. Before I knew it the sun was peaking through the trees. It was 8:00am and I had hiked three miles, leaving me at John Brooks lodge, a back-country hostel of sorts for hikers to sleep, eat, and get ready for their day in the mountains. It seemed as though many hikers had hiked in on Friday night and were beginning their day hikes from here. Not a bad idea…

    I pressed on up the trail following along John’s Brook until I eventually crossed near Bushnell Falls, where the trail led me into what felt like a rain forest near the Slant Rock shelter, and eventually took me up the mountain where the ridges around me began to stand tall. Here, downed trees had trunks several feet across, covered in thick beds of moss that looked shaggier than an old 70’s VW rug. The sun was higher now, and fog was lifting as the forest warmed. Before reaching the ridge, which the trail would eventually climb over, dipping down the other side, the hike presented some steeper wet and rock-face challenges, which foreshadowed what I would encounter after my descent from Haystack.

    Up and over the ridge, I followed the trail. Just a little down the other side and I was rewarded with my first view, facing South: Layers of mountains stood before me — an unknown peak to the East (on my left), and in the West, Mount Haystack and Little Haystack. Definitely time for a photo and a candy bar.

    I could see two hikers at the top of the unknown peak to my left, and wondered if it, too, were one of the High Peaks. I pressed on, and arrived at “T” in the trail. Presumably, left would take me to the unknown peak. I stayed on course and turned right, approaching the alpine zone, and the base of Little Haystack. A lengthy section of boulder-riddled trail led me toward the alpine zone, but the rocky path which resembled a washed out stream bed was beginning to nag at my feet and spirit. After a fast morning hike, I had a ways to go to reach the summit, but my body was beginning to feel the weight of my pack, the soaking sun, and the pains of what would be a long day hike.

    After reaching the treeline, I changed into my colder weather clothes, and climbed Little Haystack. As I walked into the cold air, a hiker greeted me and warned of the gusty summit of Haystack that was ahead. Little Haystack itself brought the reward of clear skies, with Mount Marcy to the West, the next mountain over. Mount Haystack’s summit was a short valley away, and was now within reach. I pressed on and was greeted by another hiker who was descending — he was only wearing tshirt and pair of shorts! I was chilly even with my layers, a reminder that you can never be too prepared in the mountains.

    When I finally reached the top of Haystack, two more hikers greeted me. After helping each other out with photos, I found out that the man who took mine was celebrating Mount Haystack as his 46th summit on his 50th birthday! What a great way to complete the last of the High Peaks. I took a few photos from the top of Haystack, then hunkered down on the Southern side of the summit. A nice dip that was protected from the wind made good place to eat some lunch. Two down, 44 to go.

    Moments later a handful of other hikers reached the summit, and a group joined me to eat their lunch. They too were seeking a break from the gusts. We talked a bit, and I asked about the unknown peak to the East where, earlier in my hike, I had seen two hikers at the top. They pulled out a map and explained I could take an alternate path back to John Brooks lodge that would let me knock out two more peaks, Basin Mountain and Saddleback Mountain. In that instant, my return hike had changed.

    The trail to Basin and Saddleback would turn my hike into a loop, but not without challenges. Coming down Haystack was no problem, but I began to tire during Basin’s ascent. Basin offered steeper sections of wet, rock-faced, Adirondack trail, requiring more calculated steps, and occasionally grasping for tree trunks and exposed roots to maintain balance. Hiking with trek poles was not an option on the rock faces, so I strapped them to my pack for most of the climb. I reached the top where a group of three hikers warned me that Saddleback would be a rough one, considerably worse than my hike up Basin. One of the hikers pointed out they had already been to the Basin summit (where we stood) earlier in the day — they chose to backtrack from their summit of Saddleback instead of going down the other side. Another hiker added, “and I was puckering the whole way down”. Yikes.

    At best, I would climb up and over Saddleback. At worst, I would have return and climb back to the top Basin, just as they had. Knowing that the shorter way back to the car was to press on, I did just that.

    Basin’s ascent was more treacherous than I expected — steep, bare, and wet rock-face. I took my time, but had no idea what to expect of the ascent (and descent) of Saddleback. The trail continued down the ridge, poked out of the trees, then began its way up Saddleback. This was quite possibly the most dangerous portion of hiking trail I had ever encountered. It was steep rock-face, but there was a section or two that felt more like a climb than a hike. The ascent up Saddleback was certainly something I did not want to come back down. At the top, I snapped a few photos and took a breather. Four down. I was tired, but despite the unknown that lied ahead, I needed to press on.

    As the trail descended, I ran into a group of hikers who were making the climb up the the other side of Saddleback which I had chosen to go down. (The map showed more than one route, but this one was the only reasonable path thad would complete my hike within the day.) Upon seeing them, I was immediately relieved that the descent would not be impossible, and a short conversation revealed that the worst section on the way down would be bridged by a ladder. Phew — this would be possible. I made my way down, and hours later reached the Garden lot.

    Three summits in one day, bringing my total to four of the 46 High Peaks.

  4. Looking forward to a weekend hike in the Adirondacks with the goal of summiting my 2nd of the 46 High Peaks!

  5. Their Only Portrait →

    While browsing around for photos of Advocate Cycle’s 2016 Hayduke mountain bike, I found the “Their Only Portrait” project. The website documents a photographer’s journey to bikepack across South America (beginning in September 2015) to take portraits of the people he encounters:

    This project’s goal is to make family portraits of the local people I meet along the road, as I ride thousands of kilometers through South America. Carrying a small portable photography studio will let me create and give each family a printed copy of their ONE photo.

    Biking, photography, and travel sound like a perfect combination of hobbies. I look forward to reading about his travels. Don’t miss the blog section of his website.

     

     

  6. Black Bear Sighting in Rothrock State Forest

    After 13 years of poking around in Rothrock State Forest, I saw my second black bear tonight on the fire road adjacent to Detweiler Run. I was on my mountain bike, and heard it crashing down through the woods towards Detweiler Run, after I unknowingly startled it from a distance.

    Judging by its size, I suspect it was an adolescent, but not this year’s cub.

    The sighting was foreshadowed by something I have never seen: a large green metal bear trap, likely for research, as it was positioned in the woods well after the locked gate to the fire road. The trap was open on one end, with what appeared to be food dangling inside. While I didn’t take a photo, it looked very similar to this one.

    An Eastern Box Turtle and now a black bear — a good week for seeing critters. Now where are those timber rattlers…

  7. Thank you, Europe

    It’s been another memorable trip working overseas, taking me to Budapest, Nuremberg, a stop in Vienna, and back to Budapest.

    I’m writing from the 9th floor lounge of Budapest’s Marriott hotel. The coffee on my last morning is delicious, the staff is friendly, and the backdrop where I sit is a beautiful and proud city overflowing the hills into the Danube river, with blue skies and sunshine coming down on Buda Castle, Matthias Church, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, and the Hungarian Parliament Building.

    I’ve walked far and wide through Budapest, met some great people in the embedded systems industry in Nuremberg, and ate the world’s best apple strudel in Vienna. I’ve learned to count to 10 in Hungarian, and probably know about 20 or 30 other words (thanks to a used children’s book). I think it is safe to say that I also have a few friends in Hungary.

    I think I am “getting good at” travel, if one can do such a thing. It is a healthy mix of working hard, and also taking advantage of your down time. But, I will be happy to return home.

    Szia!