Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lost Art of Poetry Memorization

When I was in Junior High, we had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class. I, of course, chose the one that Ponyboy had read in the Outsiders, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost.
Ever since then I've loved working on memorizing poems or stanzas that I love so that they are always in my head when ever I need them.

While visiting the Poetry Trail at the Robert Frost Museum in Franconia last week, I came upon another one which I wanted to live in my head.

Hyla Brook -
BY June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)—
Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat—
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.

So, last night I worked on memorizing it so that I know it by heart. I read it aloud a few times (I think that poetry, like a play, is meant to be read aloud, so I always read it that way) then I listened to Robert Frost himself read it. At first I had the first part and the last part down, but kept forgetting the middle. I can usually picture words in my head so I made sure to look at each line. Then I wrote down just the first letter of each line to trigger the whole line if I got stuck.

It worked, and then I made dinner while saying it out loud over and over again. Then when I woke up this morning, I said it again. Now it's in my head, and can be taken out when I need a hiking cadence or something to cleanse the palate of my brain between tasks.

There are some Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnets that live in my brain, and I'd like to work on some more Frost poems. It's sort of like knowing a song by heart, you just do after a while.

Do other people do this?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peak Bagging & Bagging a Peak

Peakbagger (n): A mountain climber whose principal goal is the attainment of a summit, or a specific set of summits.

Bag: Slang, To fail to attend purposely; skip

The day started at 3:30 a.m. I was meeting my hiking partner at 4:45 (which we decided was the earliest hour that was decent) for the 2.5 or so hour drive from Boston's south shore to the White Mountains.

I had set my things out the night before so all I had to do was dress, have coffee, eat First Breakfast and go. First Breakfast was 2 blueberry waffles with almond butter and smooshed banana on them. And coffee. (Second breakfast eaten in bits on the trail was an english muffin with butter, almond butter and banana. Lunch, again eaten in phases was roast beef and cheese on ciabatta bread. Snacks, not really eaten, were chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips & almonds. Emergency food, not eaten, were a few ProBars.)

My stuff consisted of: Keen Voyager Hiking Shoes with Superfeet Insoles which have solved my aching foot problems. Smart Wool socks and sock liners. My pack which has water, toiletry bag (TP, contact solutions, band aids, emergency blanket, chap stick, etc), windbreaker/rain coat, food (lunch & snacks), map, and Blizzard (the dog). Then the flowered bag has my wallet, phone, extra clothes to drive home in, the hiking book and other random stuff that I need but that doesn't come up the mountain with me. My Leki hiking poles live in the car.

The Plan: North and South Kinsman, via Mt. Kinsman Trail and Kinsman Ridge Trail.

We were at the trailhead a little before 8, and on the trail by 8:07. It's a gorgeous trail, woodsy and damp and covered in moss. There are 3 or 4 pretty brook crossings.

My hiking buddy and I have very different speeds on the way up, which seems to work. I hike with the attitude of "this moment is all that matters" and wanting to absorb and study everything around me. Like this mushroom that looked like a jelly fish.
Or this bear scat.
Often she'll be quite far ahead of me on the trail, but eventually we meet back up. We are each hiking our own hike, and I know there are people more my speed to hike with if I want that, and there are people more her speed if she wants that. But this seems to work. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, people hike together, whether they hike together or apart.

On this hike especially I was feeling like I didn't want to "get" anywhere, I just wanted to be where I was, fully. I wanted to look at the trees and think about why some trees had fallen over taking their root bed with them, and why others had snapped over about 4 feet from the ground. I wanted to photograph every mushroom and write about it. And then sit by a brook and think about it.

This was probably my 5th time on Kinsman, a mountain I just love, and I just wanted to hang out with it.

We took the .2 mile spur trail to Bald Peak, where I was last Sunday morning at 7:30am the continued on.

At some point near the ridge trail I decided I didn't want to go to the summits. I'd been to them before, and really just wanted to sit by the pond. I suggested to Stacey that she go bag the peaks and I'd meet her back at the pond. We sat for a while at the junction and ate, finally seeing a lot of other hikers - day and thru - and grateful that our journey up had been mostly free of other people.

After eating I felt livelier so we hiked the .4 miles to the summit of North Kinsman. We didn't find the actual summit which is a boulder on the side of the path but we found the ledge that was past the summit for the obligatory summit photo.

And the obligatory Franconia Ridge Trail photo, with Lafayette, Lincoln and Little Haystack across the notch. We climbed those a few weeks ago, and seeing those peaks from a distance really hits home what a trek that was. This is one of my most favorite views in all the world.

We started off towards South Kinsman, a mere .9 miles away. Yeah, mere. Somehow there was a resurgence of black flies, and .9 miles is not really that close and I was done going up and so we decided to bag the second peak. I have no need to summit for the sake of summiting and with that we turned around and headed backs towards the cross roads you can see in the map near the Kinsman Pond Shelter.

Here, back in the bug-free shade we ate some more lunch, met a lot of dogs (including 12 year old Gidge waiting for a snack), wondered about people who hike with no map or with a case of beer , chatted with other hikers about our plans and then headed over to check out the shelter area.

There are some tent platforms, which I slept on years ago, and a shelter that was rebuilt in 2007, bigger and brighter than the one we slept in years ago (after we realized that our tent wasn't really waterproof). Blizzard is reading the shelter journal where thru-hikers leave messages, notes and poems. There was also a book about how they built the shelter - bringing in all the logs by helicopter.

The shelter sleeps 14 on 2 levels and has a bear-box for food and toiletries and a composting toilet near by.

Then we reached the pond, which is just past the shelter. And there we sat. There was a little family near us with the kids happily splashing and asking their mom "what was the outhouse like?" There were lily pads and dragonflies and the general wonderment of being at a lake that you can't see unless you climb up a mountain.
After our time of leisure we headed down, and made good time - about 2.5 hours. We figured our total mileage to be about 9 miles with our different side trails and wanderings and our total hike time to be about 7 hours. Our total trip time was 8 hours 8:07am to 4:07 pm (yes, really.)
Some homemade hummus made the trip home easier and my Superfeet made it so that this morning I woke up with no foot pain. Just to be on the safe side, I put them in a pair of my Keen walking shoes and wore them most of the day. They are like an orthotic or something, keeping my feet from falling inward.

Post hike dinner was just a few vegetable potstickers from Trader Joe's and then 10 glorious hours of sleep. Breakfast was kale, leeks and mushrooms with some eggs.

Also, my legs don't hurt today. They aren't even stiff. It's very nice. I did however, take a nap this afternoon. Which was also very nice.

Now to plan the next trail...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I'll Tell You About It Later

Friday afternoon at Lake of the Clouds Hut, looking up to the summit of Mt. Washington.
At the summit. Freezing. I ran and put my gloves and coat on after this.
Looking back up on the way down. With my little pal in my pack. Notice the hat head.
Heading back from the summit to the hut. Mt. Monroe is the closest peak you can see.
Finally at the bottom, 11 hours later. Checking the map for some unknown reason.
A little 2.5 mile walk into the woods the next morning. Mostly flat.
Visited the homestead. Every time I look at this I cry.
Bald Peak on Mt. Kinsman at 7:30 this morning. I was up at 5am, at the trailhead by 6am and had a glorious solitary walk in the woods to this amazing site.

More pictures and details soon. Right now I'm just blissed out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Biking Through the Heebie Jeebies

This past weekend was my 20th high school reunion, which meant that the past week was filled with get togethers with friends from childhood and high school, very late nights up laughing (very late night on Saturday laughing and drinking) then lazing at the movies yesterday to recover from it all before going to bed early last night.

I did manage to squeeze in a yoga class on Friday morning (yay core), then a quick mountain bike ride on Friday afternoon. After yoga I stopped into a make up store for some powder and ended up letting the make up artist give me an entire made up face. Here you can see how well it held up through the ride. Notice the bronzed cheeks and the smokey eye. And the creepy bunker I'm standing in.

The place we bike was used as an ammunition depot during World War II, so it is full of creepy bunker and weird things. I often get the heebie jeebies while biking there, but it has good trails.

Can you see the bunker through the woods?

And the thing about the heebie jeebies is that they feed on themselves. So, even though you know that probably there is not a dead body around the corner, and there are not ghosts wandering the bunkers (some of which reminded me of concentration camps for some reason) the HJ's were throwing off my mad skilz and the ride felt sort of choppy. Add that to the fact that J. and I aren't the best map readers and kept going in circles... we've seen better days.

Then my late nights and the rum caught up to me and I felt too crappy to ride yesterday which meant I missed out on a 2.5 hour ride. Majorly bummed. But at least the next reunion isn't for 5 more years, and I'll write myself a little note to not have any rum and cokes. (This is how lame I am, I had one and then gave my friend half of the second one because it was too strong.)

Oh, and I found an apartment! I was going to write about it - telling you about all the ones I looked at, and the one I almost settled for and how I almost didn't even go look at this one because it was billed as an upscale, high end condo and surely I don't deserve to live in one of those, but then I visited it, and it was so right, and even though there were 8 other people looking at it she picked me! and it's across the street from the ocean, and has a fire place and central air and hard wood floors and gorgeous kitchen and is so perfect. But, I didn't write about it, so you'll just have to imagine that I did.

Big hike coming up on Friday. Trying to put last minute training plan into place.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hike Report: Lafayette, Lincoln & Little Haystack

The details: Up Falling Waters Trail to Little Haystack, Franconia Ridge Trail to Lincoln and Lafayette, down Greenleaf to hut, down Old Bridle Path to trailhead.

Total mileage: 8.9. Total time: 8 hours. (Yes, just call me Pokey.) Left trailhead at 9:30, back at 5:30. Climbed on Saturday.

I was very prepared for this hike (except for my flannel clothes that I usually bring for sweat and runny noses. Never forget these again.) I packed my bag, and my bag for clothes to change into and started out bright and early to pick up my hiking partner.
Almost 3 hours later, here we were at the trailhead. We were taking Falling Waters up, and Old Bridle Path down.
Everyone and their dog was out hiking on Saturday, along with half of the population of France (or perhaps Quebec). The trail was quite crowded at the beginning, with various dogs running back and forth, and people quite close to us. At the trail split, most seemed to go up Old Bridle Path while we went to Falling Waters, so that helped to thin things out.

We soon came upon a series of very pretty waterfalls (despite the fact that I'm not smiling in the photo.) The thing about pretty waterfalls, the trail on the side of the water fall is steep and rocky. Which we decided was much better to go up than down, and gave us a much better view of the waterfalls. We tucked our hiking poles into our packs and scrambled up and up.

Somewhere around this time I realized that I hadn't quite eaten enough for breakfast and needed some fuel. I was taking small bites of my ProBar since they aren't easy to eat, and snacked on some cheese sandwich. I should have sat and ate more. I think it would have made the rest of my hike more enjoyable and better fueled.
I do not hike fast, and my lungs were definitely feeling the climb. My legs felt fine and it was frustrating that my lungs and heart did not seem to be cooperating. My speed was about 1 mile per hour, approximately that of a spider (and much faster than a sloth and quite faster than a garden snail) so we were soon passed by everyone. My poor hiking partner hikes much faster than I do, so she spent a lot of time waiting for me.

But, my slowness allowed me to see a mouse trying to carry a toad stool into it's burrow, which is just as cute as you'd imagine it would be.

Soon enough we were above the tree line and it was worth it.
The rocky ridge.
Tree on very windy Little Haystack. 4,800 feet. Sadly, it doesn't qualify as a 4000 footer "because it stands less than 200 ft (61 m) above the col on the ridge from Lincoln" but we did bag two 5000 footers, and climbed 3 actual peaks. It was very windy up there.

When I first attempted tree pose my inner thigh muscle seized into a charlie horse so I had to stretch out a bit, and then it was much more elegant.
We hiked over Lincoln 5089', and finally made it up to the summit of Lafayette. 5260 feet. By this time I was about to bonk.
I ate some trail snacks - marcona almonds and chocolate chips. My spirits and energy picked up quite a bit after having lunch. Some of these, the rest of my cheese sandwich, a hard boiled egg, and bite of my very unphotogenic PB&J.
Then we did some more yoga poses. (There's a crow photo on it's way.)
Side plank!
We hung out on the windy summit for a bit, looking at Mt. Washington, doing yoga poses and taking group photos for other people.

Looking back from whence we came.
Heading down from Lafayette, we descended to the Greenleaf Hut. For the first time in 5 hours I had to pee, conveniently at the toilets. I think that my profuse sweating on the way up made it so that all liquids left my body via sweat, and then on the way down when I wasn't sweating as much I finally had to pee.

Anyway, the hut was quite crowded with people sitting and having coffee, cocoa or lemonade. We peeked into the bunk rooms then restarted out trek down. In this photo you can see the entire ridge we hiked, with Lafayette visible on the far left above the roof.
One last look.

On the way down, we passed 3 of the hut croo who are the young men and women who work at the huts and have to carry all the hut supplies up on their backs. They have packs that are wood framed with liquor store boxes lashed to them (I swear one of the girls was carrying 3 boxes of canned goods). It's a bit like huffing and puffing your way down a hill and then having Lance Armstrong fly up the mountain past you riding a wooden bicycle.

We would stop and watch them pass, then watch them speed up the mountain. They climbed with their hands holding up the bottom of the wood frame and the girl carrying the canned goods was holding her iPhone as well. They were truly a site to behold.

Heading down was when we both got a little cranky. Our legs were hurting, I could feel hot spots on my big toes and we just wanted to be done. But the only way to get down the mountain is to climb down. So we trekked on.

Finally we were at the bottom, too tired to take any more photos, but there was parking lot yoga to stretch out our tired muscles.

3 hours later, I dropped my hiking partner off and was soon home myself. I was exhausted. I washed my feet and calves and went to bed. I fell asleep shortly after 9, having put myself to bed with no dinner.

I slept right through until 6am, and today I feel slightly stiff when I get up from sitting, but other than that I feel fine. No sunburn, no stitches (which apparently my father needed when he fell once on those same mountains) no bug bites. Normal amount of hungry. Rather thirsty, but I think that's also from the crazed housework I was doing in very muggy weather.

Now to plan the next one! (Which my dad thinks is going to be Mt. Washinton, 6288 feet, but I think I might need to re-think that.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hike Prep

Study map.
Check out gossip blogs.
Check email.
Figure out to to get to trailhead.
Fill hydration system and water bottles.
Make a cheese sandwich.
Pack almonds and chocolate chips.
Pack 2 ProBars.
Make a PB & J sandwich.
Prep coffee machine.
Set out coffee mug and travel mug.
Lay out hiking clothes.
Pack drive-home outfit.
Pack change-in-the-parking-lot-skirt.
Remember flip flops for drive home.
Mentally review contents of car: hiking shoes, poles, bug spray, hat.
Remember father's admonition to coat feet in Vaseline to avoid blisters.
Realize you have no Vaseline.
Consider using Lush hand lotion but don't want to waste it on feet.
Assume feet will be fine.
Re-check all clothes.
Head to bed.

I'll be in the hills if you need me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

At Loose Ends

When ever I'm going through a stressful time, it's helps to visualize a metaphor for what I'm experiencing (or choreograph an interpretive dance about it, but I haven't gotten that far yet.)

So, here's what I'm picturing: a hot air balloon, fire burning, filling with air trying to take off. But the sand bags are still on. Then one by one, the sand bags are cut away - boy, dog, hair (I don't know why hair is a sand bag, it just is), apartment, new apartment (that's a new one.)

I'm packing all my things, and trying very hard not to just write "Send to Goodwill" on all the boxes. Although I did keep my well-worn copy of Jane Eyre out of the boxes, just in case that happens. I'm having such a desire to get rid of so many of my things to just go live in a little house in the woods or by the beach with just my clothes (I am a professional, I need my clothes) and a few dishes, and my yoga mat and my knitting and my coffee maker.

Or perhaps become a vagabond.

Or just trust that the perfect place will be found in the perfect time. And since I believe in the "when you pray, move your feet" theory of manifesting things, I'm looking and reaching and emailing and driving to see things, in addition to visualizing myself living in the perfect space.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weekend Warrior

I was quite a weekend warrior these past couple of days. After a week that found me in tears for a few days at weird times (mostly driving while talking to myself about Jane), and then found me going down a one way street the wrong way while trying to buy moving boxes, I realized I needed some serious sweat therapy.

So, Saturday I headed down to the East Bay Bike Path with Ally for a nice 14 mile ride along the ocean. With a flat tire. Seriously. After last weekend's bike issues, to have yet another ride stymied by my aparent inability to care for my bikes was just comical. Thankfully, we found a bike shop near by, they gave me 2 new tires with the speed of a NASCR pit stop, and we were back in shape.

The trail is fairly narrow for a bike path, especially in the beginning (near Colt State Park) it is also a stroller/walker/roller-blade/meander/dog walk path. We weaved in and out of the people and finally found some space. There are also a lot of road crossings which made it hard to get a good pace going. Finally, towards East Providence there are some nice long stretches that aren't too populated. I'd say head out early in the morning (which we had planned...)

The round trip (26 miles, we skipped a mile or so branch) took about 2 hours and was just the right amount of time. Just as I was ready to be done, we were done.

Bristol is a very cute little town.

This morning I had planned a mountain bike ride but just as I was in the car and heading out, my riding companions texted that they would not be joining me. I refrained from texting back "come on, people, rally!! pain is temporary!" and made a quick mental calculation of my options. Returning home to sloth on the couch was not one of those options. Venturing into the somewhat creepy biking woods on my own did not appeal to me, so I made a quick swing back home for my hiking shoes (that'll teach me to store them at home instead of in the car like I normally do) and headed out to the non-creepy hiking woods.

A very sweaty but nice 3 hour hike. I will be very glad when fall is here.

It's weird to not have a dog in the house after 14 years. The wind blew and I didn't have to worry that the dog would get nervous. I can leave the vacuum cleaner out without her avoiding that room. I can leave the door open for a minute and not worry that I'll have to go hunting under all the bushes to find her. When I wake up at 2 a.m. there is no little soul down the hall that somehow senses my awakeness when I haven't even moved and comes ticking ticking ticking to check on me.

I got Jane 3 days after my last dog passed away quite suddenly from cancer. And a few days ago I came across this sled dog kennel that has retired sled dogs for adoption. But, I know I'm not ready for another dog. Not for a while. Still, I miss that little husky face. So, I got this:

My small new friend, Blizzard. He's reading about downward facing dog. (Actually I think that's dolphin...) He's just the right size to come hiking in my back pack with me, and to hang out on the counter or table if an ear needs to be scritched or something. He's what will prevent me from driving to New Hampshire and returning with a retired sled dog of my very own.

I had too many Jelly Belly's again. I really just need to buy about 20 at a time or something. I eat about 40 of them and then my belly hurts. And my body is tired, and just the right amount of sore. And I am glad it is almost bedtime.

Tomorrow I will do yoga. No excuses. Even if it's just dolphin pose.