Austin Beyond The City Limits

I spent last week in Austin Texas.

I was able to go for a little hike outside the city limits in an area of Driftwood on Onion Creek.  This was actually in a restricted area that I was permitted to be in.  A few pictures of the prairie and creek I enjoyed.:
Onion Creek


Lots of cactus, and apparently this is what their oak trees look like:

A Little Dust on Crust 1/18/16

I got out for a little ski today. I’ve been out snowboarding several times this year but this was the first time this season I put skis on. We had about 2 inches of ice as a base on the local mountain in the spots where the snow had made it through the trees on Saturday.  But for most of the mountain there was less than an inch of crusty snow covering the rocks and roots before last nights storm.  This morning we woke up to 3 inches of pretty fluffy powder and strong winds.  I hiked up the local mountain as high as there was still snow and the wind had not scoured it away. I didn’t want to totally destroy my AT skis, so I used a pair of skis I found at the dump last year. As I clipped in I realized I had adjusted the bindings on these beater “rock skis” to my other boots last spring.  The bindings were barely gripping. I probably had a DIN of about 3 as I knocked the skis against a nearby tree to see how well they would stay on.
Happily they stayed on all the way down as I tried be as light on my feet as possible for the survival turns in the dust on crust.  About half way through the video you can see I hit an area where the wind had deposited a little more snow and it was actually pretty fun for a few turns.  I kind of love these kinds of crappy little sessions even though they are not ideal they are exciting and memorable. Emily bought me a new GoPro for our 20th anniversary last fall and this was the first time I got a chance to try out the helmet cam, so I made a little video
https://youtu.be/2VAsdkc7S_Y

Hunting?- Season 2

Hunting season ended a half hour past sunset December 15th at 4:41PM with me in my climbing tree stand 30 feet up in the below pictured hickory tree with an unfilled tag. No Deer harvested after a 4 month long archery season in the woods.  However I did have several opportunities and many beautiful wildlife sightings this year.  It seems every time I go out in the woods I see something or experience something that makes the time spent totally worth it.

View from up in the climber:

I have two tree stands, one that is fixed and one that is portable and can climb trees.  My fixed stand was on a Beech Tree 18 feet high.

Exciting experiences included  having a bear walk by my fixed tree stand without noticing me, and having to walk by a Bull Moose in full rut mode while exiting the woods.   Another experience I had was with a certain buck that I had been keeping track of and had seen on my game camera.  Below is a video of him and a lesser buck.  (Both are beautiful Deer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0ss0fJJlfM

I tried to focus a lot this year on being more aware of signs of domain establishment and the section of woods I was primarily hunting for the above deer had scrape marks on pretty much every tree. One day in mid-November I had stuck my climber on a tree in the middle of a bunch of recent sign and decided to come back the next day.   The next day I walked into my tree stand from the opposite direction as originally planned because the wind was blowing in the opposite direction as usual and I didn’t want my scent to proceed me.  As I approached I came over a little rise and found 4 deer standing in a semi-circle facing me, 3 were does and one was the buck I had been looking for. Before I could process which one was the buck and draw back my bow, all 4 deer took off through the woods at mock speed.
The next day it was pouring rain so I decided to revisit the area.  As I approached the same area I looked on the ground and nearby an area that had been disturbed I found an antler that had been torn off during a fight. I took it home with me but never saw the deer in that area again.

I learned quite a bit more this year about whitetail behavior and patterns and have developed quite a lot of respect for just how adaptable and elusive they can be when they are aware of you as a predator.  As a hiker I see deer quite frequently and have noticed that they seem to be much more comfortable with me while just passing through than when I’m out hunting.
Remarkably this hunting season was very warm with no snow fall.  Many times it was actually warm enough to not even wear gloves.  I’m not sure how much this affected the patterns of the deer but it sure seemed that they would only come out after dark on the warm days. I ran my camera a few times near my stand and sure enough my favorite buck would come marching by at 6:30pm every night, 2 hours past legal hunting time.
Another lesson learned this year was how much more respect I have for someone who can get a deer with an arrow than someone with a gun.  With archery so many more things have to come together just right in order to take a proper shot.  My primary reason for hunting is for meat, and really I would have been happy to have just stocked my freezer at some point this year with either a gun or an arrow, but after this year I realize that I really do love archery way more than firearms and that it’s so much more of an accomplishment to harvest a deer that way.  And preparing for next year this is where I will focus my efforts.
I will also begin scouting earlier and as this mild winter continues I will take advantage of the lack of snow to explore more sections of forest nearby to be ready for next September 15th.  Scouting is becoming one of my favorite hobbies.   I like scouting in a way more than hunting because I never carry a weapon for self-defense, for one it’s much more exciting to be out in the woods on the animals turf on their terms when you don’t have a weapon and secondly I think you carry yourself in a different manner when armed even if your not hunting, and you give off less of a predatory vibe that the animals can sense when unarmed, but primarily I like it because without a weapon it becomes more like being a hiker, but without trails, and hiking is still my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors.

Monadnock Barefoot 10/12/15

Yesterday was Columbus Day and  I hiked Mt Monadnock for my 81st time.  I hiked up the Dublin Trail because I figured it would be less busy being a holiday.  It was absolutely beautiful, the weather was warm for Mid-October and the tree’s leaves were in various states of turning red and yellow.  The views were very colorful.  I took a pair of trail runners with me in case I needed them but was able to stay barefoot for the entire hike.  The Dublin trail has a low amount of gravel sections which tend to  cut holes in my calluses,  so it was probably the best way up to choose to go barefoot.
Crowded Summit


Green Ridges

Red Valleys


Bullet Proof Feet

Moosilauke 9/4/15

As I packed my backpack for an overnighter on Moosilauke I thought to myself, wow you don’t need much stuff for summer backpacking.  Its been a while since I did an overnighter that I wasn’t carrying winter gear, or winter gear plus backcountry skiing gear.  I got so caught up in doing big mileage days that I just pack light for, that its been a while since I just took a day to enjoy a mountain and spend the night in its woods.
I took my time getting out the door friday morning and got up to the trailhead for Beaver Brook at about 10:30 friday morning.  I hiked up to the shelter and dropped off my pad and sleeping bag.  There were a couple of north bound thru hikers hanging out and a southbounder who had spent the night there.  I ended up talking with them for a bit before heading off to the summit.  On the way up to the summit I heard someone ask me “ hey, are you Jan?” as I passed by. It was Rodney, a highschool clasmate from 20 years ago, he and his two sons were out for a hike.  I hung out with Rod for a little bit  before heading to the top. I hung out on the top for quite a while, the views were absolutely amazing, the weather was warm and there was no wind.  It was fun to be there on such a nice day and watch thruhikers reach the top and get their first real view of The Whites, none of them were dissapointed with the view of friday.
Beaver Brook Trail




Summit


As I left the summit I experienced a little natural phenomenon that was really cool.  Even though there was no wind I could here the grass blowing really loud, I looked off the side of the trail and about 50 feet away there was spot about 20 feet in diameter that there was a mini twister going on.  I walked over to it, and I stepped into it.  The winds instantly felt like they were in the 40mph range, I was able step out of it and watch it slowly move away.  I now wish I had thought to video it, I could have sent it to Ginger Zee :)
I hiked down to the shelter and took it easy for the rest of the day and did some reading.  To my surprise no one else showed up and the only company I had for the night was a little brown mouse.  Everytime I saw him I would quote the Gruffalo and say “Where are you going to little brown mouse?”
Beaver Brook Shelter

“Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come for a feast in my logpile house.”

With no wind being alone in the woods get a little creepy, but also beautiful because you can hear every little twig break and every little animal scurry. The night never got as cold as was forecasted which was a little unfortunate because the mosquitos never went away, in fact they got worse to the point that at about 3AM I got sick of being bit and packed up.  I headed down in the dark, and then slept in the back of my car until 6:30.  Then I went to Pegs for Breakfast.

But before I left Kinsman Notch I took a little stroll over to the beaver pond to see if there was any wildlife around, unfortunately the only wildlife was a group of camping bikers.  But the view of the mountain reflecting off the Pond was amazing, I just took this with my phone, I wished I had a better Camera with me for this one:

Mount Washington x 2 Over and Back 7/19/15

Yesterday I Climbed Mount Washington Twice. Once from each side.  I started out at 7AM at Marshfield Station and Climbed the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lake of the Clouds and signed the log, The cloud ceiling was just about 100 feet higher than the hut so I headed in to the clouds and proceeded up Crawford Path to the Summit at 9:13, Clicked a quick Summit picture and then headed down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail through Tuckerman Ravine.  Just below the water fall it started to sprinkle rain and by the time I reached the ravine floor it was raining,  just below the Connection Avalanche Cache a full on squall hit, with gust strong enough to knock you off your feet and sheets of driving rain.  I found a good size overhanging rock to huddle under with my rain gear on for about 20 minutes until the storm passed.  Once back on my feet again I made it to Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 11:40, I went over and touched Rt. 16 to make my second ascent official.  I went into the Visitor Center to fill my water bottle and ask if I could check the radar, because my smartphone doesn’t get service on the east side of the mountain, and I was curious how close the predicted thunderstorms were getting to the area.  After letting me check the radar on his computer, the AMC trail information guy told me it probably wasn’t a good day for a hike.  I told him I actually already hiked the mountain once and now I have to go back over again because my car was on the other side.  He looked at me totally confused and concerned, I think he thought I came down the wrong side by mistake.  I thought it would be funny to just let him keep thinking that, and didn’t bother explaining further, and just thanked him for use of his internet.  The hike back up the lower Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake was by far most tedious part of the hike, but the sun was shining and there was blue sky in spots for the first time that day which lifted my spirits.  I followed the Tuckerman Ravine Trail back up to the summit.  I would have liked to mix up the trails a little bit for the second ascent but I decided for me these two routes were going to be the fastest for accomplishing my goal of summiting twice in a day.  One nice thing about coming back through Tux was that I had not noticed that the snow arch was still standing  on the way down because I was trying to get out of the ravine before the rain got heavier, but I was able to enjoy it on the way up, The Snow Arch is always tempting to go through, when it is this hollow, but I decided to forego the risky adventure this time despite it looking very stable.  Once above the headwall the clouds got dark and thick, visibility was in the “Hiking From Cairn to Cairn Range”.  Right about at the top of the headwall my phone battery quit so I wouldn’t be able to get anymore pics.  With the predicted thunderstorms in the front of my mind I made quick time above tree line despite very sore and tired legs to get over the summit.  I touched the summit sign at 2:02PM and immediately headed down the Crawford Path.  I didn’t go into the State Park Building on either summit visit.  I stopped and signed the log again at Lake of the Clouds and Pointed an arrow to my earlier log entry. And then took it easy going down the very slippery slabs on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.  I arrived back at my car 3:51PM.  As I placed my pack in my car and plugged my phone in to get a final picture I heard thunder off in the distance.  My timing could not have been more perfect!
Starting out:

Ammo Ravine in the AM

Into the Clouds. I only got one summit shot due to my battery dying on my way up for the second trip.

Tux on my way down

Tux on my way back up

The Snow Arch

Plugged my phone in and got a pic at the end of my trip back at Marshfield Station

Mt. Madison 6/20/2015

Going for a hike in the whites on the third weekend in June seems to be one of my only set in stone traditions that I have been able to maintain since growing my family.  It helps that we always are staying at a family owned time share at Attitash this weekend.  This weekend has been really good to me the past several years providing amazing weather.  Saturday was a beautiful day to hike Mt Madison.  Jeremy my Brother in-law and I took the Pine Link trail to Howker Ridge.  I needed the lower section of Pine Link for my Redline map, and Jeremy needed Madison for his 48 list.
Pine Link doesn’t mess around, you gain some pretty serious elevation shortly after leaving the parking lot, and then follow the wooded spine of a ridge for a few more miles to tree line where we then began to follow Howker Ridge Trail.  Pine Link for the most part is a very dry trail with few and minimal streams. Howker Ridge above tree line has typical grades and terrain  for the Presidential Range with amazing views across Great Gulf.
On the trail:


Above Treeline, the road race was going on in the distance on the Auto Road.



Me and Jeremy at the Summit. Lots of Bugs. You can see a huge fly in this picture just above my head.

Found a few spots to do My Favorite Trick


We beat feet back down and followed the same path down so that we could get back to our families quick.  I had spotted a patch of Indian cucumber root on our way up, so we picked a couple on our way down for a refreshing little snack.  The hike ended up totaling a little over 7 ½ miles on my tracker app and we did it in 5 hrs and 15 minutes.

Ladder Trail Dorr Mountain 5/9/2015

We spent the past week on Mt Desert Island.  Saturday I hiked Dorr Mountain via the Ladder Trail and Schiff Path.  The trail ascends pretty steeply to the 1200 foot summit on mostly granite steps and a few ladders.






My favorite part of the trail was the little slot canyon you had to go through (A little video)

The sea breeze made the air chilly and foggy.  Even though it was in the 70s and sunny in land it was 48 and foggy in Acadia.   As I got to the top of The Ladder Trail I entered the clouds and caught my last view while ascending looking down toward my car in the valley.

On the Schiff Path there was unique cairns and large slabs to walk on that were pretty slick.

Near the summit the Schiff Path meets the Dorr Ridge Trail and you follow it for .2 miles to the summit.  The summit was cloudy, cold and windy.

Its probably not recommended to descend the same way I came because of the steep slick rock but I decided to following the Ladder Trail back down.  I didn’t see anyone else for my entire hike.

Hillman’s Highway 5/1/2015

I headed up to Pinkham Notch Friday morning without a definite plan, I was so indecisive that I had not even decided yet if I wanted to ski or snowboard, so I brought both my AT skis and my splitboard.  I still wasn’t sure if I was going to go to GoS or Tux yet either but I was just happy to be going.   Unfortunately I would only have time for 1 run today though no matter where I went.
At the parking lot you could not see either one, the higher elevations were still in the clouds.  With the Sherburne still skiable most of the way down, I decided to head towards the ravine.  The TRT was still about 80% skinnable and I made a new friend on the way up which made the travel time to Hojo’s go by fast.  At Hermit Lake the Avi Board was showing most of the chute center bowl to the lip to be moderate. And the ravine was not yet visible.  There were quite a few people already up there and they seemed to all be going to do Left Gully.  I thought about Right or Lobster Claw but noticed that nobody was on Hillmans.  So I choose to go up Hillmans.  It was a good choice because there were only 3 other people skiing that area the whole time I was in there and 1 of them was dropping Duchess.  When I got to the top of the right variation of Hillmans Highway the clouds lifted for a bit, so I dropped in while the light was not so flat.  The snow was really soft and there was a pretty deep runnel down the center of the gully, a lot of snow would sluff with you whenever you would make a turn.   I really enjoyed my run.

Tux when I got there.

Heading up


At the top


Heading Down


Back at Hojo’s views were good,
What I just skied:

Tux

The Sherburne was skiable down to the fifth crossover. But the last ¼ mile looked like this.  To me this is fun, because it becomes more technical when you have to avoid mud and rocks.

Skiing with Jake at 20 months

Last April Jake was only 8 months old when I took him skiing with me on my back for the first time and he smiled the whole time.  I hiked with him on my back a lot over the following summer and he really loved it.  However he hadn’t been in the Kelty pack since November and Every time I had taken him sledding on snow this year he got scared, so I was a little unsure if he was going to be scared this time on skis.  Yesterday it was warm and sunny so I skinned up pats peak with the alpine touring gear on my feet and Jake who is now 20 months old on my back.
I couldn’t get Jake to keep his hat on, and I was afraid he was going to get sunburnt so I had to stay in the shade on the way up.  I skinned about half way up before I converted to ski mode and descended with Jake.  To my surprise he didn’t cry on the way down.  He made kind of a nervous laugh every time I would make a turn, but he was smiling, which made me happy.  I’m hoping next April he will be on his own set of skis and still smiling about it.
Going Up.

Going Down