Cold Weather Testing

It finally warmed up enough to do a valid test of my hammock set up for cold weather. With the sub zero temperatures we’d been seeing the last few weeks I’d have needed so much additional insulation that  the quilt set up wouldn’t really be tested. Seeing a forecast for a 10°F night I loaded up the sled and set up camp in the woods behind the house. I’m getting ready to do a Trailspace review of the Cooke Tundra Tarp so it was also a chance to get some pics of that set up in the snow.I won’t be doing a review of the Hammock Gear under quilt for a few months, but always good to grab pics when you can. By the time I write the review the snow may well be gone. Reviews always look better with gear in its natural habitat I think.  As for the testing, it went very well. I slept with minimal insulation from clothing to see what the quilts could do and was still a bit too warm early in the evening. By the wee hours of the morning my thermometer showed 11°F and anything sticking out was feeling the chill. Inside I could tell that my top quilts were still keeping me very warm, but the under quilt was getting close to its limits which wasn’t surprising given there was a bit of a breeze.

Now that I’ve run this test it will be safe to start finding out how low I can go by adding layers to my sleepwear. Based on my tenting experience I’m sure I’ll be good for at least another twenty degrees lower, perhaps more. Despite the big thaw today I’m sure there will be plenty more cold nights to continue the testing. Hope you are getting out when you can and sitting by a warm fire when you can’t 🙂

Anger Management Part Two

Sure, quiet reflection can be nice and all, but sometimes a more visceral response can be cathartic. Last year’s fun filled family attempt at climbing Mansfield in Vermont left Frau Stranger feeling a bit miffed at the mountain. Her response has been to direct that anger into a plan for revenge this coming Summer. Given the progress she’d already made by eating salads and lots of walking it was time to give her more of a challenge so I set up this lovely pain cave with a view.

Seeing her stomping on the pedals next to me I am worried I may be holding her back on that climb this year. Definitely fun to have a training partner this Winter and the view out the back window is a lot nicer than being stuck in the basement on the recumbent. Bet the climb up Mansfield will be a lot more fun this year too!


Anger Management


Wish I could say I have it mastered, but most every day makes a lie of that. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some things you carry with you. No amount of conscious acceptance seems to take that anger away either. It waits quietly and then, with a quick flash of razor sharp teeth, announces its continued presence. The heat of it doesn’t seem to fade which seems fitting given its birth in a heat wave that would not end.

What I’ve shared here over the years has always been as honest and positive as I could manage. I just don’t think anything I’d write now would fit that theme because I honestly can’t believe things played out the way they did and seem to be positively POed about that fact at random moments.  Thought I’d make it clear that I’m not dead, just ticked off at the universe. Hopefully that will change for the better. If not, maybe I’ll just post pictures 🙂



LT Day 4 and 5

LT Day 4 and 5

1.5 LT miles, 6 mile road walk, 20 mile hitch, 9 mile shuttle

I got an early start in hopes of either putting in some long miles or a shorter day ending early depending on how the climb up Haystack went. It soon became clear that Monday had done more damage to my body than I realized. Any sort of climbing was a struggle and by the time I reached the road in Hazen’s Notch I knew it was time to sit down for some hard thinking. Going up Haystack seemed sure to make things get ugly fast so the prudent thing seemed to be to get off trail to regroup.

As road walks go the six miles or so down RT 58 to RT 100 were beautiful. No one stopped to offer a ride but traffic was sparse and it was a nice morning in the shade.

Rather than focus on my troubles I opted to try to enjoy how pretty of a place I was walking through. There were a few dog encounters along the way, a German Shepherd that looked like it might have been abandoned threatened me for a while until a voice in the woods called him home. Another two big dogs followed me, barking at my heels, for a good quarter mile.

Still it was such a pretty place it was a walk to be appreciated. Various streams and brooks ran under the road in both directions.

Eventually I reached the highway and realized that I needed to figure out my next goal. Heading down to Johnson to pick up my resupply seemed logical since food was running low, so I stuck out my thumb. Once that was accomplished I talked to my wife a bit and decided to find a place to stay to either recuperate or wait for a ride home. Smugglers Notch to the rescue!

Dinner, beer and breakfast are behind me and I am still feeling a bit broken. I am coming to terms with the fact that this hike is over before it really got started. There has been some cussing and a few tears, but to keep going at this point seems foolish and probably dangerous to my health.

As much as I regret the way this turned out I am glad I tried to chase the dream. For an old fat man this was an ambitious challenge to begin with, but no one could anticipate tropical weather in VT at this time of year. With my aversion to hiking in the heat I planned to start this late in hopes of much cooler weather.

Will I try again? No, probably not. Putting my family through all of this again seems unfair. I also have to acknowledge that the universe seems to be trying to tell me something.

Still, no regrets! Not sure what crazy dream will come to me next, but I will keep chasing them, you can be sure. Thanks for coming along on this adventure and I apologize for not being able to share the rest of this beautiful trail with you.

LT Days 2 and 3 Hazen’s Notch

8.7 LT miles

Day two started with the climb up to Jay Peak. Looking up at the ski buildings was a bit intimidating but the climb actually wasn’t too bad.

Nice views up there in all directions. I was sorry I didn’t have time to stay longer until I met a big school group headed up the other side.

I stopped at Jay Camp near the bottom for water and potato soup for elevensies. Then came a series of climbs that took me over three mountains on my way to Hazen’s Notch. Not sure how hot it was but it was way too hot to be climbing mountains. The last big climb up Buchanan did me in.

The last two miles to camp were quite a struggle as my stomach was angry and not afraid to show it. I arrived in camp just before dark in pretty ugly shape. Getting the hammock up was all I could manage before collapsing. Then it started to rain hehe. I managed to sort of string the tarp over me, but didn’t have the strength to stake it out.

Knowing from past experience that hiking today would only serve to anger my stomach I opted to stay here today to see if I can recover. I hung out the wet clothes and even staked out the tarp.

The shelter here is a classic and smells like one inside heh.

There is a nice view of Jay Peak from just outside the door. Considering I came up the other side and all the way here on a hot, breezeless day certainly explains my body falling apart.

Tomorrow will tell me a lot once I hit that first climb. The weather has improved with cooler temps and a nice breeze so that will help. Hopefully yesterday didn’t do too much damage, but it certainly has given me some doubts.

LT Day 1: Laura Woodward

8.6 LT miles plus about .5 on the approach

Back at the border just after dawn. Expecting it to warm up I skipped coffee but was amped to get started.

The first white blaze! Now these steps counted heh. So hard to believe it was real, but once I started to sweat it didn’t feel like a dream.

I stopped at Shooting Star shelter for elevensies and found this bunny house.

Then it was time to start the first real climb, Doll Peak. Too sweaty to take pics, sorry.

Drying out with a nice breeze in the hammock at the Laura Woodward shelter.

There are two NOBO hikers in there chattering away. They are very excited about finishing tomorrow. I am excited about dinner, gotta go!

LT Day 0:Journeys Rest

We got an early start on the drive and were almost to Canada by lunch. After a short break for trailhead sandwiches we walked the approach trail the rest of the way to the border.

Surprisingly warm for the time of year, but I will take that over rain any day. Going to be warm again tomorrow so I am hoping for an early start.

Not giggling yet as I have a roommate here, but that may not stop me for long. Totally amazed to find myself in this place and on the edge of such a grand adventure.

Tomorrow it will begin for real as hard as that is to believe. I am ready!!