Tag Archives: outdoors

Iceland Preview (I got a GoPro!)

I’m a few days back from Iceland and truly, there are more words than could fit in this blog post to describe the experience. If you’re contemplating a trip to Iceland…DO IT…and do it now.

If you need more convincing, then I suggest you take a look at the short preview video I made of our 10 day trip. And by “we” I am referencing my dad. We took a 10 day road trip around the Ring Road leaving in late May and returning this past Monday. I’m working on a longer video of our entire trip, but I hope this can hold you all over for now.

Iceland 2016 Preview

Enjoy!13317001_10210036990220809_5232643010655938814_o

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TWO DAYS!!!

In 48 hours, we’ll be on the trail. I don’t know if it’s because I’m sleep deprived or I’ve just been too busy to realize that the day we’ve been anxiously awaiting for a year, is almost upon us. The past few days at home have been a whirlwind of non-stop activity. My room has been a mess and I finally go that all organized last night. Even if no one is going to spend time in there, I didn’t want to come home to a huge pile of stuff sprawled out all over the place. Our talks at the high school with two English classes went really well and we’re excited that they’ll be following us on our journey through my blog. A big thanks to Clout for having us. It was nice to see some of my old teachers before I left and a few of the soccer girls as well. Everyone had lots of questions and we love it! It’s great that people are interested in this whole thing because I know I would be too. One of the most popular comments we’ve received is, “this will be a real test of your relationship!” And those people are so right.

I’m not even going to begin to get into the nitty gritty details of all of the things we’ve had to do since Saturday, but the majority of it involved finalizing our gear and getting our mail drop to Neels Gap and bounce box ready. We’re just about to mail out our drop box at the post office and we’ll be just about ready to head to Portland and then on to Georgia tomorrow! It’s looking like our first night on the trail will be in the 30s, but from there it’s looking like temperatures in the 60s during the day and 40s or low 50s at night. We would love that, but if the weather changes, we’ll adjust and we are prepared for that.

We were doing a little TSA research on carry-on items. Good thing we aren't bringing any cakes or pies.

We were doing a little TSA research on carry-on items. Good thing we aren’t bringing any cakes or pies.

This will be my last post from my computer, so I will warn you that my posts on the trail may not be as detailed or as full as pictures as my previous posts. I will do my best to keep things interesting though and update as much as I can. Don’t be alarmed however if you don’t hear from me for a week or so. I will be able to post from a computer when I’m in town and otherwise I will be posting from my phone. I tend to be long-winded in general, but typing from my phone is not ideal. And please forgive any spelling or grammar mistakes. I’m kind of a freak when it comes to proper spelling and grammar, so we’ll see how I fair with that along the way. I may have to let myself go…

We did our final gear weigh-ins last night and we’re right about where we want to be. My base weight without food and water is 20 lbs. and Miles’ is 21 lbs. As we hike, I’m sure we will shed some weight, especially when the weather warms up. But all in all, we’re pretty relieved that we didn’t go way over our weight estimates and that we’re just about on target.

I’m hoping to update you all a couple of times before we leave on Thursday morning to begin our hike, but I just wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us in all ways during the past year in preparation for our hike. From supportive words, to reassurance of our decision, and the many good lucks, we are very thankful. I admit, what we’re doing is a little crazy, but it’s nice to know we have so many people behind us and rooting for us along the way. The most thoughtful gift I received for our trip was from one of my best friends, Hayley. It’s a small orange and red stone, Fire Agate. The description that came with the stone reads, “Fire Agate has a deep calming energy that brings security and safety. It is a protection stone with strong grounding powers.” I love it and it’s perfect for our trip and I will keep it in my pack throughout our entire hike. Love you Hayley!

Now I must continue final, final preparations. I’ve gotten in a few amazing meals made by both of my parents, hung out with friends, and packed up all of my belongings. It’s time to say adios to all of the daily comforts of civilization and say hello to a new life on the Appalachian Trail.

Stella with all of our gear.

Stella with all of our gear.

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The Final Stretch

It’s official. I’ve moved out and am back in Bucksport at my parent’s house to finish up last minute preparations until we leave for Georgia on Wednesday. It’s crazy to think that we’ll be 3 days into our hike a week from now.

Packing up my stuff wasn’t that bad, but after cramming all of my belongings back into my room at my parent’s house, I forgot what it’s like to have a small bedroom. All of my clothes no longer fit in my closet. There’s just enough room for all of my books. And my accumulated collection of DVDs no longer fit on the small shelf they used to fit on only a few years ago.

My room in Portland all packed up. Cash oversees the final packing from my bed.

My room in Portland all packed up. Cash oversees the final packing from my bed.

Leaving Portland wasn’t easy, but I handled it all better than I thought I would. I know that in a matter of months that I’ll be back there and reuniting with my friends and getting back into photography and video editing. And being able to hang out everyday with my nephew Louie will be the best part of all. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with my life and I think it’s always a good idea to uproot yourself out of a place, at least for a little while, and try something different. There are always two possible outcomes. You may realize how much you love the place you were at prior to the big change, or that you might like your new life even more than the one you were comfortable living before.

How will I be able to leave this face?! I have no idea.

How will I be able to leave this face?! I have no idea.

And I wasn’t lying when I said that writing down all of my worries made me feel more relaxed and ready for our journey. The adrenaline is beginning to set in now and I’ve got so much to do, there’s no time to worry! We’re heading back to Portland on Tuesday, so we can catch an early bus to Boston on Wednesday morning. Between now and then we have to go through all of our gear one last time to make sure we have everything we need and leave behind anything we don’t. I have to discuss last minute logistics with my parents, mainly pertaining to mail drops and communication along the trail. They’re going to be in Spain for the first two weeks of our hike, so we’ll have to do without our main support system for awhile, but we’ll be mailing ourselves some food right before we leave for us to pick up at Neel Gap, so we should be fine. We’re not planning on doing many mail drops anyways, but I want them to be prepared nonetheless. They’ve got the AT map hanging in the kitchen and my mom will be photocopying sections of the map to bring to the local bookstore where she works and where Miles has worked for the past year. She’ll be able to keep anyone interested in our journey updated on our progress.

Tomorrow, I’ll be doing my last photo shoot before our trip; a maternity session for a friend. My sister and I started Tandem Studios last spring and we were surprised with the amount of positive response we had to our business and have done more photo sessions than we ever thought we would do in our first year. It will be hard for me to leave our up-and-coming business after we have established ourselves with so many wonderful families, but we will be ready to get right back into it when I return and take advantage of the beautiful fall colors in Maine for our sessions.

I'm not usually one to do "selfies" as they're so called, but for the purpose of my blog, it had to be done. I miss my long hair :(

I’m not usually one to do “selfies” as they’re so called, but for the purpose of my blog, it had to be done. I miss my long hair 😦

Oh yeah, did I mention I chopped off all of my hair today? Well, not all, but more than I ever have in my life. I hadn’t cut my hair in almost a year and when it started getting annoyingly long a couple of months ago, I was ready to go in for a haircut, but I stayed strong and held off until today. I like having the long locks, but while we’re hiking I really don’t care. I just want to make brushing my thick hair as painless as possible. And a big thank you to my longtime hairdresser in Bucksport, Linda Burgess for the haircut today! She’s seen me through many haircuts, including the time that I chopped off my super long hair when I was 9. I still have that long braid in a drawer in my room. Is that weird? Eh, whatever. I think it’s kind of awesome. Maybe my kids will fight over it one day when I’m dead and gone.

When my hair was super long back in the day.

When my hair was super long back in the day.

On Monday, Miles and I will be going into Bucksport High School to talk with students in the “Man vs. Nature” themed English class. They’re going to be following our thru-hike through my blog and we’ll be giving them an AT map to help them track our progress along the way. Miles has worked at the school for two years and we both went to high school there, so we’re really excited that a lot of our teachers and now Miles’ co-workers and students will be following us.

After staying up til almost 2:30 AM last night watching Inglourious Basterds and The Pianist last night (I promise we didn’t plan on watching two WWII movies in one night, it just happened), I woke up to unpack my car, do laundry, and continue our trail prep. We have all of our food for the first 10 days prepared, half of which we are bringing with us and the other half we will ship to Neel Gap as I mentioned earlier. We gathered all of our first aid supplies and organized it all between the two of us.We practiced hanging our food bags in the tree in my front yard. My parent’s live on a dead end street and I swear, everyone on my street drove by and stared at us like we were crazy. If they only knew what we were about to do…

It’s going to be a whirlwind few days coming up, all culminating in taking our first steps on the Appalachian Trail on Thursday.

 

And be sure to check out the gear page where Miles has FINALLY given me his gear list to post.

 

 

Trail food galore.

Trail food galore.

 

 

Miles redistributing the goods.

Miles redistributing the goods.

 

We love oatmeal and honey buns!!!!!!!!

We love oatmeal and honey buns!!!!!!!!

Stella stands by for any dropped food items.

Our helper, Stella.

 

 

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Confessional

I have a confession.

I’M REALLY NERVOUS.

 If you’ve been under the impression that I’ve been playing it cool prior to our thru-hike, then I’ve done a good job of hiding that fact. I think it’s pretty normal to feel nerves before embarking on something big in your life. It means that you care about what you’re doing and want to succeed in that endeavor. But the past couple of weeks have not been easy on me emotionally or physically. I can’t fall asleep when I go to bed and then when I finally do fall asleep, I find myself waking up multiple times during the night. I’ve had a cold for the past week, probably in part to a weaker immune system since my body hasn’t gotten proper rest. And man am I anxious about our hike. I am so ready to do this thing, but my nerves get the better of me and I think about all of the worst possible scenarios that we could encounter. One of us gets hurt and we have to head home, the weather is too cold to bear, we run out of money, or maybe thru-hiking just isn’t for us. Those thoughts have even infiltrated my dream state. Actually, I think that’s where it all started a couple of weeks ago when I had my first thru-hiking dream/nightmare. I suppose the anxiety has always been there, but it slowly dug itself out of my subconscious and became ever-present in my conscious self. Damn you dreams and your ability to recognize my anxiety before I’m actually aware of it.

Yep. That's me at the moment.

Yep. That’s me at the moment.

As I write this, I should be sleeping. I’m tired. I’m beat. I’m toast. I should get up early and be productive. But…I already know that’s not going to happen. I’m using blogging as my therapy right now. A coping mechanism as they might say. Now don’t be alarmed fellow readers. I’m not going to have a mental breakdown or anything and I’m pretty sure I’m overreacting here, but writing it all down does help. Hopefully I’ll look back on this post in 6 months and laugh at myself and think, “hey, that whole thru-hiking thing wasn’t so bad, right?” I can only hope that I feel that way by summer’s end.

A little over a week from our start date, I’ve got everything I need. Gear. Funds. Food. Moral support. Toilet paper. What else do I need? Why am I so worried?

Maybe I’m thinking too hard about this whole thing. One strategy that we hope to utilize during our hike is taking it one day at a time and t set small mileage goals along the way. I think I might need to apply that strategy to my life even before I start my thru-hike. I’m ready and anxiety isn’t going to help me out at all. Instead, I’m going to set my focus back to being a little lazy, get in a couple more meals at my favorite restaurants here in Portland, and spend time with my family and friends before we leave next week.

Ah, the power of the written word. Funny how when you write it all out, the solution seems so simple. All I had to do to stop my pre-hike anxiety was to write a blog post about it?!

I think some of the anxiety will still be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, but maybe, just maybe I’ll sleep a little bit better tonight. And hopefully tomorrow, I’ll think more about all of the awesome reasons of why I decided to thru-hike the AT and less about the fears that I cannot control.

Let's do this thing.

Let’s do this thing.

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Little Did I Know…

The majority of thru-hikers I’ve talked to or read about, mention how long they have wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. It’s usually many years that they have dreamed, planned, and saved their money to take on this adventure. I have to admit, I am not one of those people. We will have been on the trail for two weeks on the one year anniversary when I concocted this crazy plan. And Miles and my family knew even later than that. I’m relatively new to the thru-hiking community, but sometimes I feel like the past 11 months has lasted 5 years. With only 3 weeks to go, I’m not sure if they’ll fly by or move at a snail’s pace. And I’m not sure which speed I prefer. On the one hand, I can’t wait to start our thru-hike, but I also want to enjoy these last weeks with my family and friends before I leave. Tonight, I’m going out with friends as a little going-away party, which obviously I’m pretty excited about. My sister, Elissa is coming down for a few days next week to visit and then I’ll be heading home to spend a few days before I leave with my parents. I have a feeling the next 19 days will fly by.

While thru-hiking is a fairly new part in my life, the Appalachian Trail is not.

While I may not have realized it until recently, the AT has always been a part of my life.

March 2012 ski trip to Sugarloaf. This was only a matter of days before I decided to hike the AT.

March 2012 ski trip to Sugarloaf. This was only a matter of days before I decided to hike the AT.

Miles and I took a few days off from work last March and headed up to Sugarloaf to ski for a few days. From the photo above, you would have no idea that it was one of the worst ski trips ever. Well, only the fact that we had a stretch of 80 degree days the week before and it melted almost all of the snow at the Loaf. Of course, we had planned our trip the week after the hottest week ever in March. The skiing was terrible to say the least. Of the few trails that were open, they were barren and icy. We had more fun in the outdoor hot tub and squash courts (even though we had no idea how to play said game) than on the slopes unfortunately. As bad as the skiing was however, our extended down time provided me with the chance to discover thru-hiking. Knowing that Sugarloaf was a part of the AT, I did a search on Google of “Sugarloaf, Appalachian Trail” and quickly found myself emerged in the world of thru-hiking. I became obsessed about it pretty quickly and went from saying, “who the hell would hike the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail?” to, “I’m going to hike the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail!”  So I guess you could say that I’m okay with exchanging one bad ski trip for the hiking trip of a lifetime.

Major foreshadowing here. Miles is pointing at the Bigelow Mountain Preserve. Little did he know that we would be hiking there later that year.

Major foreshadowing here. Miles is pointing at the Bigelow Mountain Preserve. Little did he know that we would be hiking there later that year.

At the top of Sugarloaf, we did a few photo ops and looking back on these photos, I can only laugh. In the one above, Miles is pointing directly at the Bigelows. This was before we even knew what those mountains were called. I think I just told him to point out in the distance as a joke, but it’s amusing to me at least because we hiked the Bigelows last August as a training hike. These were mountains that I had looked at since I was 5 years old as a I skied down Sugarloaf every winter and little did I know that they were part of a larger chain of mountains, including the very one I was skiing on!

Little did I know...

Little did I know…

Another encounter I’ve had throughout my years with the AT was on the Massachusetts Turnpike, also known as I-90. I-90 runs from Boston to Seattle, but the section I’ve often frequented is the Mass. Pike on my way to visit my best friend, Sarah after she moved to Broadalbin, New York. We’ve been best friends since we were 6 years old and when she moved away in 2001, we never let distance get in the way of our friendship. Multiple times a year, our parents would drive us halfway between Broadalbin and Bucksport where we would meet at a Chili’s off of 495. We would eat lunch and then both of us would go to either New York or Maine together for a week or two. When I headed to Sarah’s house, we would groan and complain as we drove down the Mass. Pike, the longest road EVER! Little did we know that I-90 is in fact the longest interstate highway in the United States. But we weren’t concerned with interstate distance records. We played MadLibs and made up ridiculous stories instead.

One part of our journey that I always took note of, was a small bridge that crossed I-90 in western Mass. As we drove past going 70 mph, I would read a sign marked, “Appalachian Trail” on the bridge. Of course, I knew what the Appalachian Trail was, but I never truly understood its length and the fact that people hiked from one end to the other. Regardless, it always fascinated me. I would look out to the mountains just off the highway and wonder what it was like to hike up and around them. This may sound strange, but I’m actually looking forward to reaching the footbridge, a part of the trail that has always been familiar, even if I didn’t understand the extent of the trail when I was a kid. It’s not the most interesting or breathtaking milestone, but in all of its metal and concrete glory, it means something to me. A trail that always seemed so strange and wild when I was young, I’ll become a part of that trail and cross over the Mass. Pike. And thankfully that will be my shortest encounter EVER with that damn highway.

The AT as it crosses the Mass. Turnpike.

The AT as it crosses the Mass. Turnpike.

When I was a freshman in high school, I went on a freshmen hiking trip with my class. We hiked the Barren Ledges, which I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago, is a part of the 100-Mile Wilderness. Honestly folks, I had no idea that I had even stepped foot in this part of the trail at a mere 14 years-old until I was reading through AWOL’s AT Guide. It makes sense now, since I remember we had to walk at least a couple of miles down a dirt road to even reach the trail. The 100 Mile Wilderness is named such because there are no major road crossings for 100 miles between Monson and Abol Bridge. We crossed a stream, where a few of my classmates unfortunately fell into. We all laughed, but the fallen would have their revenge when the rest of us got soaked on the hike back as it rained.

The view from Barren Ledges.

The view from Barren Ledges.

And the pinnacle of my post and of the AT itself: Katahdin.

A view of Katahdin clouded in fog from Chimney Pond.

A view of Katahdin clouded in fog from Chimney Pond.

In August 2010, Miles, my sister Elissa, her boyfriend (now fiancé) Ryan, and I decided to hike Katahdin. Ryan had hiked it once before, but it was the first time for the rest of us. We had a campsite reserved and had it all planned out. We loaded up the ol’ Volvo and headed up to Baxter the afternoon before our hike. When we reached East Millinocket, all of a sudden, the car died. The battery was shot and we were only thankful that the car hadn’t broken down in Baxter where it would have been even more expensive to tow the damn car back to Bangor. Thankfully, I had AAA and we got her towed down 95. Defeated, we headed back to Bucksport thinking that our grand hiking plans were no more. Despite Elissa’s protests, we had a second wind and decided to get up super early the next day and head back up north to hike Katahdin. It was totally worth it I might add. I’ve done a lot of hiking, but Katahdin tops them all. If you have the chance and the weather is right, definitely hike Knife’s Edge. It’s awesome.

Getting ready to hike Katahdin.

Getting ready to hike Katahdin.

While we didn’t take the Appalachian Trail up Katahdin, we had the chance to admire the famous sign where everyone poses at the end of their NOBO thru-hike. I had no thoughts or plans whatsoever to thru-hike when we summited Katahdin and none of us had any idea what that sign meant to thousands of thru-hikers. Little did I know that one day I would hope to reach the sign as well.

The important stuff. Champagne and Starburst.

The important stuff. Champagne and Starburst.

Ryan hiking up Cathedral Trail. 1 mile of straight up rock-climbing.

Ryan hiking up Cathedral Trail. 1 mile of straight up rock-climbing.

My sister, Elissa.

My sister, Elissa with the Helon Taylor Trail behind.

Not quite to the top. Admiring the beauty of Baxter.

Not quite to the top. Admiring the beauty of Baxter. Knife’s Edge in the background.

We made it! I hope this will be us by the end of the summer after we've completed our thru-hike!

We made it! I hope this will be us again by the end of the summer after we’ve completed our thru-hike!

One of my favorite shots. Knife's Edge is to the left. We couldn't have asked for better weather that day.

One of my favorite shots. Knife’s Edge is to the left. We couldn’t have asked for better weather that day.

Ryan on one of the narrowest sections of Knife's Edge.

Ryan on one of the narrowest sections of Knife’s Edge.

Elissa got stuck. We were tired and unfortunately for her, Katahdin is unforgiving to those with short legs ;-)

Elissa got stuck. We were tired and unfortunately for her, Katahdin is unforgiving to those with short legs 😉

Post-hike reactions.

Post-hike reactions.

Wah!

Wah!

Is it over?!

Is it over?!

Little did I know when I skied down the slopes of Sugarloaf as a kid, that the Appalachian Trail would become such a huge part of my life.

Little did I know that one day I might be the one passing over that small footbridge on I-90 instead of driving under it.

Little did I know that I was hiking in one of the most remote sections of the Appalachian Trail when I was only 14.

And little did I know that one day I would dream of making it to the top of Katahdin again after finishing a 2,185.9 mile hike.

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Winter Hikes

We do what we can up here in Maine to get outside when the temperatures drop and the snow falls. Apart from skiing and snowshoeing, I have been fortunate enough to get out and do a few hikes this winter. Here’s a few photos from my winter day hikes.

Thanksgiving Day hike up Great Pond Mountain in East Orland, ME. Only 10 minutes from home.

Beautiful Thanksgiving Day hike up Great Pond Mountain in East Orland, ME. Only 10 minutes from home.

Heading up the North Ridge Trail of  Cadillac Mountain on the day after Thanksgiving.
Heading up the North Ridge Trail of Cadillac Mountain on the day after Thanksgiving with my dad.

The view from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, less than an hour from where I grew up. Dorr Mountain and the Atlantic are in the background.
The view from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, less than an hour from where I grew up. Dorr Mountain, Frenchman Bay, and Schoodic Point are in the background.

My dad and I at the top of Cadillac. At 1,530 feet, it is the tallest mountain along the Eastern seaboard.
My dad and I at the top of Cadillac. At 1,530 feet, it is the tallest mountain along the Eastern seaboard.

Miles and my parent's dog Stella atop Great Pond again for a Christmas day hike. We had fun sliding down the icy granite trail on the way down!

Miles and my parent’s dog Stella atop Great Pond again for a Christmas day hike. We went along with my dad too. I had fun sliding down the icy granite trail on the way down!

 

 

Back down in Portland, I took a nice, snowy hike around Mackworth Island in Falmouth. Great Diamond Island is in the distance.

Back down in Portland, I took a nice, snowy hike around Mackworth Island in Falmouth. Great Diamond Island is in the distance.

Along the shores of Mackworth Island looking out into Casco Bay.

Along the shores of Mackworth Island looking out into Casco Bay.

 

 

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