Monday, November 7, 2011
Went apple picking in September at a local orchard and took a few pictures. I like this one because the color of the apples pops out so much (no altering or saturation done here, just natural sunlight!) and the wispy grass looks kind of like spiderwebs at the bottom. One of my favorite fall activities :) I made applesauce this year!
I'll start with stating I have really missed the mountains this year :( This was the first season in four years I didn't go up to the Whites once, and I pined away for them all summer. On top of the wedding (which went fabulously!) and honeymoon both in July and a trip at the end of August, we basically did no hiking at all. We did hike Monadnock with a small group of folks in April, but besides that, a couple of walks in the last few weeks have been all I've done this year.
We went on a cruise to Bermuda for our honeymoon, which was absolutely amazing (neither of us had been on a cruise or out of the country before!), and I took some gorgeous pictures I can share a few of. I have also started playing around with "through the viewfinder" (or TtV as I will refer to it) photography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Through_the_Viewfinder_photography) and have taken some really neat pictures.
Here's a brief photo roundup of my season!
A few photos from our April Monadnock hike. It was a great time & we had some new friends with us, even though the weather was a bit iffy. Took different trails up and down than we usually do. I was really happy with my performance on this hike since I'd been going to boot camp and running for a couple months at that point!
Here are a few TtV photos I took, the angel in May and the others a few weeks ago. Having a lot of fun with this! Bench angel was at Lynch Park in Beverly, MA and the last three at the Phillips Estate, also in Beverly.
At the end of August we went on a whale watch out of Gloucester with a group of friends. I hadn't been on a whale watch in possibly 20 years and my husband had never been! We lucked out & saw lots of whales, really close to the boat too.
And... our big trip of the year - Bermuda! We went on a 7-day cruise out of Boston to Bermuda, and it was absolutely amazing. It is a gorgeous place and I took tons of pictures - here is a small selection of the best ones!
I shouldn't forget a few wedding photos I guess?! We had a beautiful outdoor wedding at a gorgeous old estate in Ipswich, MA. It was hot and humid and sunny, and we loved every second of it :)
So that is my spring/summer and some of my fall, in a nutshell! Despite the lack of hiking we had a blast over the last 6 months and I hope you enjoy the photos. I am hoping to do a little more local hiking before the weather get cold and wet/icy, but we'll see, I have a lot going on in the next month or two. I will have to live vicariously through the other outdoor bloggers in the New England area and catch up on how their seasons all went :) I am happy to be back & please come back for (hopefully) more posts sooner than 6 months from now!
Friday, March 25, 2011
There are two 'Agassiz' rocks on the route - Little Agassiz, which is the top of the hill and is a specific rock, but is part of a bigger area of rocks to hang out at, and Big Agassiz, which is a giant boulder by itself in a swampy area down the trail a bit from the top. Big Agassiz is usually not directly accessible because of water/mud, but on during a dry day you might be able to get there - usually you just hike past it. Yesterday I headed up to Little Agassiz first - there were two dudes climbing it, so I headed down the hill a little ways to a smaller boulder I like to climb & sit on. There is a very nice view from the top of this boulder and skyscrapers in Boston are even visible on clear days. I basked in the sun for a while, took some pictures (mostly just playing with the settings on my SLR) then hopped off and walked down via Big Agassiz.
(top: Boston skyline [squint! It's there!], middle: perched on my boulder, bottom: Big Agassiz)
I hiked down to the car and, realizing I still had time, decided to check out the trails off the parking area I use (on the opposite side of the road from Agassiz Rock), which I'd noticed before but never checked out. A sign informed me this was wilderness conservation area owned by the Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust, which I'd never heard of before. They own almost 1000 acres of land throughout Essex and Manchester with miles of trails through a swamp and woods. I headed down what looked like an old carriage road to see where it would take me.
Maybe a few tenths of a mile down, there was a boardwalk path that began and lead over the swamp. It was pretty cool, lots of nice views. At the end of this, the Cedar Swamp trail went right, and left would take me to Millstone Hill. I headed towards Millstone Hill, which was a nice short loop up a hill with some nice granite outcrops. I backtracked to the swamp, returned over the boardwalk and took some really awesome pictures of the sky reflected in the swamp on the way back to the car.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
(top: brother & I at Mount St. Helens, middle: Crater Lake National Park, bottom: me on the Oregon coast)
One year later, my eighth-grade class decided to go to Colorado and Utah for our trip. The trip included biking in Moab, doing a program with the Canyonlands Field Institute and whitewater rafting in Colorado. It was an outdoor enthusiast's dream! When we arrived in CO, we stayed in Grand Junction for one night and I was amazed at how beautiful it was, with the mountains towering over everything. Biking in Moab was awesome (although hot & I almost got heat stroke, lol), and the Canyonlands & Arches were indescribable. We were in Utah with the CFI for 4 or 5 days, then we did a 2-night (I think: could've been 3 nights) whitewater rafting trip down the Dolores river. In addition to contributing to my falling in love with the west, this trip kicked off my affair with whitewater rafting - I would go on to do a rafting trip in Maine once a summer for close to 10 years. I sadly do not have any photos from this trip scanned, but it was an amazing trip and I would love to move out to CO or UT someday if life allows it.
Now, my second part of this post, an experience exposing a child to the outdoors. My fiance has a younger brother who's 14, and we try to have him come up & visit us every summer. This past summer we took him canoeing at our favorite spot on the Ipswich river. We spent an entire afternoon on the river, paddling and fishing, and pulling off at Perkins island (not really an island) to have lunch. A couple things to know about my fiance's brother; he's a great kid, but has some issues and was mostly brought up by TV. He doesn't get outside much, if at all, and is kind of scarily obsessed with video games. When he's with us, he does express interest in camping, hiking, biking, fishing etc., but he gets none of that exposure at home. It's pretty rewarding to give him these experiences when he's with us (he lives out of state, by the way, so coming to see us is a big deal).
If we're able to have him come visit this summer, we're going to take him somewhere to do a hike, I think he'd really like it. We may not be able to have him up this summer because of the wedding, but we're going to see. It's nice that he's older and still enthusiastic about doing things like this with us, instead of being a mopey teenager & wanting to stay inside.
I think being outdoors is an absolutely essential component of a good, physically-and-emotionally healthy childhood; I'm grateful for the experiences I had as a kid and happy we can provide a little of that to my future brother-in-law. We plan to raise our kids the same way I grew up: loving, respecting and enjoying the outdoors and being able to appreciate the wonders of nature.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
- Numerous pairs of hiking boots for my fiance, who goes through shoes quickly - he can buy a pair for $15 or less at the sale which were either worn, had something small break on them, or "leaked" (we've never found any to actually leak). I got a pair of Keens two years ago for $12 that supposedly leaked, and I've hiked in rain, snow, and hail in them and they have never leaked. They're my favorite boots!
- Backpacking packs for myself and my fiance - retired rentals, nothing wrong with them, for $19.99. Perfect for us beginner backpackers, although we'll probably upgrade eventually to something lighter. Mine's a size small, although not a women's, and still fits me pretty decently.
- 4-person tent - my brother grabbed this one last year, for $20 I think, it's a Kelty and probably about $100 new. It was missing a rain fly - he puts a tarp over it and uses it for their annual guys-only camping trip.
- Trekking poles - my fiance has found two single trekking poles at the sales - one needed a pin to hold the height, which he rigged with something, and one was missing its basket. Got them for pennies on the dollar. He prefers to just use one instead of two, so they work perfectly for him (they were designed to be singles, not part of a pair)
(my $19.99 pack, on the trail on Camel's Hump in 2009)
Pretty much, if you get in early to grab at the good stuff, you can find some amazing deals. Thing is, REI has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on everything they carry, so a lot of the things at these sales are just returned or used, not damaged. People do get in quickly and rush the gear table, so you have to be quick to get the good stuff. Another trick is to wait around until after the initial rush is over - people will hoard things but then look through their stuff and put some back, so vulching around can sometimes net a good item.
(My fiance on the trail this past fall with his $19.99 pack, $12 pole, and $7 hat, all from garage sales. His pants may've been a garage sale find too...)
This year, I left disappointed with not one thing :( However, the guys made out pretty well - fiance spent $25 on a pair of $140-regularly priced Lowa boots that were simply worn & returned, my brother got a $75 Leatherman multi-tool for $12 because the blade was straight instead of cerrated, and our other friend got two pairs of boots and a tent. There was a Burton jacket for $35 missing a zipper pull, which I could've easily fixed ($200 jacket regularly), but I realized I don't need a new jacket and behaved myself and didn't buy it. I was sad because I'd wanted to look for snowshoes, but they were snapped up before I even got into the store.
If we're able to make the one in the spring, I'll be looking for snowshoes again (missed them all this time), and maybe packs for something lighter. I don't need boots and I'm good on clothes for now, so we shall see. We'd like to camp out for one of them sometime, just for fun! REI.com has a list of store locations and the garage sales will be listed under the store events and classes. I know our Boston area REI stores do them around the same time, so there probably won't be one around here for 3 months or so, but check out your local store's page & keep checking until they list one! If you go - remember to get there pretty early if you want a chance at the good stuff. Bring camp chairs, layers if it'll be chilly out, and lots of coffee. The other folks in line are usually pretty cool :D
Thursday, February 3, 2011
(my LTD Snow board on the left, and fiance's Burton Float on the right)
When we all went together that first weekend, our other friend who came didn't have a board or tube or anything, so he took a big box to sled with - it worked pretty well for what it was! My brother got Pano strapped into his board to try out, gave him the basics, and got him going. I was both surprised and not surprised that by the end of the day, he was going down the entire hill without falling, and enjoyed it!
(Top: fiance, front: brother, down the hill: friend with sled-box, middle. Bottom: me pretending to rock it)
A few issues we need to iron out: my boots don't fit well (too big), Pano realized he was more comfortable boarding regular, with his left foot forward, but his board is set up to be goofy, which is right foot forward, and his board needs a sharpening/wax. When I got my gear 5 or 6 years ago they did fit me for boots, but they're really too big & very hard to get into, so I am going to look into replacing them. We will bring Pano's board somewhere to get tuned up and have the bindings adjusted for him, and he has no problem with his boots. Last weekend we tried a different venue and went to the local golf course, which was great but we went late in the day & lost the light pretty quickly. Hoping to go again this weekend if we have the time! I'd like to go to a real mountain, but unfortunately all of us are pretty broke, so doing it locally for free is really great.
(pretty snowy road and trees after one of our storms)
This is a really nice way to get outside a little during all this ***** snow we're having. I'll be the first to say I love the snow, but enough is enough. We probably have had 60+ inches of snow this year so far, and it's totally insane. There are 20-30 foot piles around and they just keep getting bigger with every storm (we've been getting a storm a week since the new year). I've been hit with some really bad cabin fever lately and getting out to board a little has been helping. I wanted to start winter hiking this year and I'm planning to get some microspikes to try out, but there's just too much snow right now - I'd need snowshoes, which are more than I can afford at the moment. Snowboarding is an acceptable substitute for now and I'm glad I'm actually getting to do it this year!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I have done two amazing overnight trips in the Green Mountains of Vermont - this particular photo is from our 2008 trip to Camel's Hump. We hiked up in drizzle, fog and even hail (it was crazy!), and got to the summit to find it totally boxed in. We were a little disappointed, but the clouds started to clear after a little while and gave us absolutely amazing views of the mountains through the clouds. It was really surreal! I haven't hiked in the Green Mountains with the rest of my group, just my best hiking buddy Meg, but I'd like to do more trips in Vermont this year. Vermont is a really special place!
Ferry Beach is my favorite place in the world. It's a Unitarian Universalist camp on the coast of Maine that I grew up camping at every summer, and it's very special to me. My church does a retreat for a weekend up there every fall, and my family still goes. Ferry Beach refreshes me mentally, spiritually, and in every other sense of the word, and this past fall when we were there, I woke up to be on the beach for sunrise every morning. It was magical, and I got some great pictures.
ArizonaThis is one of my favorite photos from our Arizona trip this past spring. We did a sunset horseback ride in the desert - my fiance really wanted to ride a horse in the desert (he's really into the wild west thing... lol), so we found a ranch & did it! It was a wonderful experience, and I got this awesome shot on the ride.
Imperial Sand Dunes, California
This has to be one of the coolest places we've ever been. On our trip out west this past spring, we drove to Tucson to visit my aunt from San Diego, which was an awesome 2-day road trip. One area we went through was the Imperial Sand Dunes, a huge dune sea in the far southern part of California near the border of Mexico and Arizona. We were super excited, pulled off into the recreation area & ran up the dunes to get a view. The dunes extended out from either side of the highway as far as the eye could see. Definitely one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, right up there with the redwoods. I wish the power lines & ATV tracks weren't in the picture, but we took some fantastic shots of the dunes.
These are my favorite outdoor places/photos of said places! I hope to be acquiring more 'favorite outdoor places' as I continue to hike and travel but I hope the photos are enjoyable :)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I figured it would be fun to join in & whip up a quick post about my blog's name, Squeaky Trees. Relatively simple story, but still :) This past Memorial day I was hiking in Vermont, summitting Mounts Killington and Pico on a one-night overnight trip. Our first day we summitted Killington and it was breezy, cloudy and pretty damp with intermittent rain falling. It actually cleared up after we left the summit & headed north on the Long Trail and turned into a nice sunny day, although still windy. A portion of the trail between Killington and Pico is a nice, relatively level walk in the woods, and because of the wind, we started to hear the trees squeaking against each other.
This was not the first time I'd heard it, but it was the first time I paid attention. It's really creepy if you hear trees squeaking in the wind and don't know what it is - it could sound like an animal, or even a person screaming. I realized it makes me happy to hear the trees squeaking, or singing as I considered it, because it's almost as if they are reminding you that they're alive. It's a wonderful reminder of how alive the woods really are.
At that moment I decided I had to name something 'squeaky trees' because it sounded cute and it meant something to me. Maybe 'singing trees' would have been nicer, but I like squeaky trees better! I'd been toying with the idea of starting a blog to hash out my hiking & outdoor adventures, so I went home & did it right away. After posting twice I did forget for a while, but especially when the season was over, I wanted to keep up with my adventures, so I fired it up & intend to keep it going! I'm still working on ironing out my graphics & layout here, but I really like my name :)
(photo - me on the trail in Vermont on the trip that inspired Squeaky Trees)
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Squeaky Trees Flickr gallery - I've organized the photos into sets by year for now. This is just a sampling of the many photos I take while out hiking. I really love photography and taking pictures even though I'm entirely self-taught and have no training, so I'm always looking for critiques or advice or anything. Enjoy!
Although I'm itching for a hike, I probably won't be able to do any trips for at least a few weeks, due to my schedule and the fact that I don't have the right footwear for hiking in snow. I've thought about trying out some traction thingies (very technical, I know) for my boots for snow & ice, so next time I'm at REI or EMS I might check some out. We will also be doing some snowboarding soon hopefully, although none of us are very good so we may just go to a local golf course with good hills before going to an actual mountain.
In 2010, I did 6 more of the New England 4000-footers, one in VT (Killington, 4241') and five in NH: Flume, 4328': Liberty, 4459': Tecumseh, 4003': Pierce, 4310' and Jackson, 4052'; I also did Monadnock (3165') in April as we do every year, Pico in VT (3957'), Great Blue Hill at 635' in Milton, MA with a great view of Boston (the Blue Hills Reservation is a great park with miles of really nice trails), and Mount Wachusett (2006') in central MA. Two trips were overnights - Killington/Pico, and Pierce/Jackson. Mileage-wise this year I did about 53. Altogether not a bad season, I did more this year than I did the previous year so I was happy!
I've thought about what I'd like to do this coming season for hiking. One thing I want to do is more backpacking - I recently got the Sea to Summit Mosquito Pyramid Net Double Shelter on clearance from LLBean and I think for the warm months, it'll be a nice lighter alternative to hiking with a tent. I'll review it when I try it out for the first time! Trip-wise, I'd like to do a hike or two on Franconia Ridge with the boys since they've never done anything there, and I want to do Mount Greylock, Massachusetts' high point at 3491'. I want to do that one as an overnight, and I do want to hike more in MA this year. It's kind of stupid that I hike more 3 hours away in NH than right here in my own backyard. Since I knocked off 6 4000-footers this year, I'd be happy if I could do that many again next year. Some I've looked at are some of the southern 4000ers like Whiteface, Passaconaway, and North & Middle Tripyramid, the Hancocks, maybe Carrigan, and maybe some in the Pemi wilderness, like Bondcliff/Bond/West Bond, Galehead, Zealand, and the Twins. (yeah, ambitious list I know!) We will start our season in April with Monadnock, as we've done for the past 3 years, and go from there. My friend Meg, who I've done Memorial day hikes with in Vermont for the past 3 years, will be in DC this year, so I'm going to go down there and we'll find something to do for Memorial day.
Besides my hiking goals, my other resolutions for this year are to finally lose 10lbs, take rock-climbing lessons, go back to yoga, and canoe more! We have a canoe we got off craigslist 2 years ago, and this summer we went out a fair amount but always to the same place. I'd like to explore some more local canoeing spots next summer.
So, those are my plans in a nutshell for 2011. I'm also getting married this summer, so my hiking time may be cut a little short, but I'm going to do as much as I can. I realized this year how happy it makes me to be out on the trail, and for my own peace of mind and mental & physical well-being, I've come to view hiking as a necessary component of my life. Happy trails in 2011 to all!