Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Night riding

So a last second idea to take advantage of this weird and wonderful weather led us up a favorite loop with friends Jase, Levi, Snack, Mike, Sarah and I.  We're lucky folks who dont take a second for granted.   Here's to the night.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

One day, two great organizations.

Sarah, Odin, and I had a wonderful day of connecting with two great organizations we love and have tried to be more part of the last few years since we have resided in Vermont. The day started with a wonderful group ride up North Branch -> Sparrow Hill -> Dan Smith's, where we had some great singletrack and conversation. We then headed out to Waterbury for the GMC's volunteer cookout. Sarah and I recently adopted the Skyline lodge in the breadloaf range and have had aappreciation cookout. We had a great time hiking in to our adopted shelter Skyline Lodge and keeping an eye on the shelter with shelter reports. We met new and old faces and shared awards for service, good conversation and good food! Then it was off to the MAMBA end of the year shindig where there were many familiar faces and new ones as well. Good food, good drink, good music and great people to share it with.

Sarah and I believe deeply that connecting and being involved with your community is paramount to living. This is truly a beautiful place to be indeed where the mountains and the people in them are what makes this a a special place to live and play. So here's to two extraordinary organizations that I am proud to be part of because without them we could not experience the trails and wild places we go every day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

ORS Harvest Moon Night Hike; the first of many.

Tristan led a crew of almost ten people into the evening on a beautiful fall day, to the top of White Rock Mountain. This is a great hike to give night-hiking a try on. The terrain is just steep and rocky enough to feel a little adventurous, and the scenery is classic Vermont mountain-top surroundings. Few, if any, of the participants had hiked at night before, so we hope this was the first of many forays into the night woods for everyone.

The night was complete with a beautiful full moon that rose as we hiked, streaks of stars and clouds, a shooting star, a fireworks show in the distance, and warm malted apple cider. Plus the great company of fellow adventurers!

It's hard to capture night hikes on camera, but we tried! Here are some pics to show for the evening.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Campfire Cookery

On our recent trip to Acadia National Park and the White Mountains, Tristan and I perfected the art of cooking on a campfire. There is possibly nothing more enjoyable than a campfire, and cooking on one only increases it's enjoyment. The trick, we found, was Tristan's wonderful idea to start with a base of hot coals. We piled a generous amount of coals in a pyramid, soaked them with lighter fluid, and lit the pile. The initial flames were a light, bright orange and they originated from the top and sides of the pile of coals; these flames would quickly die out. Once these flamed die down, the key is to monitor the pile of coals to be sure that heat is building at the pile's center (several more rounds of lighting may be required to get that heat going). Within about 15-20 minutes, that heat will build to the point that a second round of flaming occurs, but this time the flames come from the center of the coals and are deep red and blue. Once these flames appeared, it was safe to add dry wood. This combination of hot coals and dry wood gave the fire both an intense heat and large enough flames to cook on a grill placed over the fire. The preferred method for cooking was to use foil pouches.

Here are some recipes that we really enjoyed:

Fresh Haddock and Veggies
Ingredients: Fresh vegetables, fresh fish, garlic, 1 lemon, wine (optional), butter (optional), herbs
Tools: tin foil, knife, something to juice a lemon (I used a round tube that was packaging for something else)
- Cut off a large sheet of foil for each individual serving.
- Layer, in the order written, fresh veggies (we used squash and pole beans), haddock filets, slices of lemon and chopped garlic, fresh cherry tomatoes, herbs of your choosing, and maybe a splash of white wine and/or pat of butter onto one half of a large sheet of tin foil for each serving of food. The idea is to layer food in the order of cooking spead: Things that take a longer time to cook, like the squash and beans, should be at the bottom and things that take the least amount of time to cook, like the tomatoes and herbs, are at the top. White fish like haddock takes a shorter amount of time to cook, so it works well in the middle. Firmer fish like swordfish or maybe even salmon may need to be cooked in their own individual pouch, separate from the veggies.
- Fold the sheet of tin foil in half and fold the edges together to create a pouch by folding in an upwards pattern to keep juices contained within the foil pouch.
- Cook directly over the fire until the vegetables are soft and the fish is firm and white.
Fresh Scallops, Shrimp, and Pasta
Ingredients: fresh scallops, fresh uncooked shrimp, pasta, butter, 1 lemon, white wine, garlic, salt, pepper (the pepper is really key for the pasta)
Tools: tin foil, knife, camp stove, 1L pot (for 2 servings of pasta)

- The scallops and shelled shrimp were placed onto one half of a large sheet of tin foil, with each fish on their own tin foil. Each was then topped with a generous amount of butter, garlic, white wine, and fresh lemon juice (disgard the rind). Each piece of tin foil was then folded over the pile of fish into two separate pouches by folding the edges together in an upwards pattern to keep the butter and juices contained.
- Each pouch of fish was placed directly over the fire.
- 1L of water was brought to a boil on the camp stove, to which 2-3 servings of pasta were added. This was cooked until firm, strained, and butter and pepper were added.
- Once the fish is cooked (the shrimp will be bright pink and firm and the scallops will be solid white and firm), pull it off the fire and serve alongside pasta. (The fish can be added to the pasta as well, with a little bit of the cooking juices).

Barbeque Chicken, Asparagus, Potatoes, and Fresh Bread
Ingredients: Chicken breasts (1 per person), potatoes (1 per person), asparagus, butter, soft fresh bread like challah, BBQ sauce.
Tools: tin foil, knife
- Chop the potatoes into 1-inch chunks for easier cooking, leaving the peels on, and trim the ends off of the asparagus by holding each end and pushing the ends towards eachother, causing the asparagus to bend upwards. It will break at the point where the tender tip meets the tougher base. Disgard the base.
- Place each individual type of food onto one half of a large piece of tin foil. Top the chicken with BBQ sauce, add butter to the potatoes and asparagus (the asparagus may steam itself without butter or by adding a little bit of water, but the potatoes absolutely require butter), and wrap the full loaf of bread in foil. Try to keep the potatoes in one layer, rather than piled high (use more than one pouch for the potatoes if necessary). With the butter and placed directly over the flame, this will allow them to brown on one side - yummy!
- Fold each piece of foil in half to encase the food in it's own pouch, with the edges folded upward to hold in cooking juices.
- Place everything directly over a flame, being careful to monitor the potatoes and asparagus. The bread should be placed off to the side a bit and rotated frequently. Don't forget to put the bread upside down to warm the top!
- Cook until the chicken is cooked through, the asparagus is soft, and the potatoes are cooked through and browned on the bottom. Check that the bread is warm. You can also melt butter into the bread in the foil pouch.
These meals served Tristan and I well on our recent camping trip, and they were a long time in the making (we've had some lessons learned!). We hope you try them and enjoy!

Oh, also, a nice addition to any of these meals is fresh corn on the cob. This can be cooked right over the fire by leaving the husks on, which will cause them to flame up and blacken. But inside, the corn is steaming itself with the moisture from the husk. It comes out perfect every time! No need for butter.

Happy trails and campfires!

Mountain Magic (well, ocean magic, too, this time)

Tristan and I have a way of seeing things work out. Sometimes they don't work the way we had hoped, but often things turn out better than you could have wanted. We have numerous stories to show for this, like the time we drove, as new explorers of this great state, into the Vermont night looking for a place along a dead end dirt road to sleep in our car, when out of the darkness popped this man with a beard and way more flannel than a normal person should be wearing. "You need a place to stay?" he asked us. We must have stuttered something inaudible, and he quickly got us set up for a night at Underhill State Park. It was about 1am, and the campground was well shut-down for the night, and I'm not sure how it worked out that we happened upon this nice ranger guy at the right moment. But it couldn't have worked out better, and our stay couldn't have been nicer. Our travels - and everyday life - are full of stories like this, full of serendipity.

I don't think it's due to either of us being particularly enchanted, but rather to our willingness to let things be and to appreciate how they unfold, at their own pace and in their own wonderful way. And to then be thankful and appreciative for what we have found. It's more an attitude of magic, than a spell, and I think it comes from our many months of living at a walking pace and attuning to a more natural rhythm. Plus, we're both willing to foray into the unknown without a plan, knowing that some excitement and adventure waits for us, and that all you have to do is carry through with a thankfulness and appreciation for whatever comes about. This wide-open aproach leaves you available for lots of opportunities, whereas an itinerary causes you to overlook them.
Our recent trip to Acadia National Park was the first time in several years that we were able to let go of schedules, obligations, and life pulling us in many directions. It had been a long time since we could open ourselves up to opportunity. Because of this, we were a little rusty at finding our rhythm, at letting the magic unfold, and at letting go and being free to follow a more natural, familiar ryhthm. But once we got in sync with each other and with everything around us, it was grand.
Our first few days were filled with things like a campsite next to the bathroom with industrial-strength toilets...that got flushed at all hours of the night, and a western sunrise (yes, I am aware that the sun rises on the east) for which I woke Tristan up in the cold morning darkness to drive to the most western point of the island to watch the sun come up (it was early and I forgot my bearings). But on our western sunrise, we saw porpoises! And from the industrial toilet campground we discovered the Wonderland Trail (my very favorite spot), the town of Southwest Harbor, and the market with strong coffee and fresh baked biscuits. Again, I don't mean to claim we are enchanted, but that we don't let these glitches get us down and, instead, in the middle of them, we find something to wonder at, something to be so thankful for, something to appreciate.
Our vacation was filled with sea air, warm sunshine, delicous food, good sleep, and wonderful sights. And it was a great time to re-connect and to rejuvenate. Watching Odin discover the ocean was my happiest moment in life so far, and watching Tristan explore the shores in the fading sunlight of afternoon, with a backdrop of pines, rocks, and ocean waves, put a feeling of contentment in my heart that grounded me right to the moment, and to this life. Without these times to sit back and reflect, to let life take its ryhtym instead of imposing my rhythm on life, I would be a soul-less person. And I came home from our get-away with a renewed thankfulness for this life. Adventure is a state of mind, and the ingredients for reaching this state include openness and willingness to let things be, appreciation and gratefulness for what you're presented with, and the kindness of heart to be thankful for all that you're given.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Enter the Rossi BC 125

So if you haven't heard about this ski yet, the moment Rossi dropped hints about a fat wax-less BC ski there was allot of buzz. So here it is- If you like to get out an earn your turns , seek out powder, and make big lines in the back country as well as being super tourable? Then this ski has heard your call and hopefully answered it. At 90 under foot and 125 in the shovel this ski makes a Karhu guide look, well skinny and crusty~! Word has it that it will be available in a 165 and 175 to accommodate multiple skiers. I cannot wait to get our hands on this one and look forward to testing it out, which some of our guys did in Utah. Their only complaint you ask? These skis are so fat you might just gain weight, or lose it as you tour the backcoutry and make your best powder turns.
Till this season.

And if you need to get 'em bad?  Well here's the place... (click the picture)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Atop an elephant.

It was a last second decision not unlike Sarah, Odin and I to hike Elephants head the new trail relocation of the Long trail north. Having been in the vicinity of the mountain road Rt.108 we decided to go for it. Even the fact that I had not prepared for the hike and was wearing denim was not enough to keep us from setting out to find the elephant at the top of the notch. The Long trail in its entirety is a beautiful trail full of unexpected hidden views and walks not easily found by the novice hiker, they take time and exploration to find. This trail however we soon found out was right here in our back yard and quite a jewel to be had with out much looking at all. The forest trail and atmosphere are grand as soon as you start the traverse across the notch north where the trail narrows and intriguing bridges guide you about making you anticipate every turn in the trail. I was amazed at the chutes, cliffs and spectacular views as we made our way to the lookout. Not only was this view worth the hike it's the kind of lookout that can only afford a modest amount of visitors as it is perched almost precariously above the notch a top one very large elephants head. This will be an elephant that will have my company again soon for quite some time to come.

Till next time

Walk good!