Monday, July 31, 2017

open letter to people using mountain trails

dear people using mountain trails,

those rocks that look like somebody put them in the trail? somebody probably did put them there. they are not for keeping your feet dry, although they will certainly do that.

they are for protecting the trail from the erosion caused by your boots.

use them.

love, flask.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

2017 venture vermont: sunrise, sunset

it says "Watch the sunrise or sunset from the summit of a hill or mountain" and this is a challenge for me.

because to schlepp myself up a mountain and be there in time for sunrise, i have to leave the house at like 0200. and to get up onto a mountain for sunset and THEN COME DOWN means i get home at about 0200.

unless i go in winter, which represents other problems.

like the venture challenge deadline is in october, anyway.

so i was kind of thinking that one was out of my reach, but then two things happened: i started taking a medication that works, and i started playing ingress for fun and fitness.

(remember, boys and girls, you want to join the BLUE team. we're the RESISTANCE.)

so now i go marching up and down mountains like 30 years have been removed from me - okok, i'm slower than that, but my point is that i can DO it- and suddenly because of that and because i have some new lightweight camping gear i'm thinking that one-night backpacking excursions are no longer off limits to me.

so i pack up my stuff and head on up the long trail south from appalachian gap because i'm thinking stark's nest would be a dandy place to watch the sun set and rise from.

now, that is some rough terrain up thar. it's got a bunch of climbing and a whole mess o' staples and ladders and a couple places you WISH it had staples or something but instead it's got some sad-looking roots and a crack in the rock and you realize EXACTLY why you got turned back that one time you decided to try this hike on snowshoes last winter.

uh, anyway.

so i got up there in PLENTY of time to see the sunset (and read half a book) but that was anticlimactic because it had gotten cloudy in advance of the night's storm and it was filthy windy wet weather on the way down in the morning, so i decided to go around the long way and take the stark mountain trail down as far as the sunnyside chair before rejoining the long trail, which adds almost a mile to the trip but cuts out the worst of the difficult descent, and provided a welcome shelter at about lunchtime.

and of course there are pictures.


cave bypass trail? no thanks.

view from theron dean shelter

view OF theron dean shelter

there was a lot of this nonsense.

no, no an elevated treehouse it's a sled shed. i
n winter the ski patrol stores a sled there.

sunset facing west

sunrise facing east

filthy weather

ready to go

mmm, slippery when wet.

it's very green here.

often when i am in these fantastically green places i think of hundewanderer, whose lovely hiking photos are all taken in a landscape so different than mine.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

strider bikes

you've probably all seen this clip of the dutch kid turning around to ride the course again.

yeah, the kid has the proper attitude to life.

but i want to talk to you about balance bikes.

they are awesome.

used to be we had trikes and then bikes with training wheels and learning to ride the two wheeler was scary and bruising.

and then some genius realized that if you put tykes on little bikes with NO PEDALS they just scoot along. they develop balance skills way ahead of kids not on strider bikes and those little duffers pull their feet right up and they are FAST. many of them ride much more proficiently than they walk, because being able to coast makes them much faster on a bike than the are on foot.

then when they're big enough, you can get them a bike with pedals. since they will already have acquired bike balance skills, adding pedals is no big deal.

i know this because little kids with balance bikes are all over the place at my weekly mountain bike race venue. some of those little dudes to an entire 2.5k lap.

Friday, July 28, 2017

fairy lights

i have a pretty low profile on a campsite, which means that people coming in late day often assume my site is vacant and try to camp there.

also, i like pretty lights in the evening.

when i am on the res i enjoy looking at the lights and fires of my neighbors. it gives a nice feel to the neighborhood.

so i have these:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

signs of summer

i saw these in my neighborhood:

welcome to west bolton

a piece 
of paradise

hope you packed the

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Hike to a waterfall

if i have to be fully truthful about this, really i wasn't hiking TO a waterfall so much as i was hiking up a mountain with the intent of going BY a waterfall, which i think should count.

although the stark mountain trails have awesome maps, there's not so much in the way of summer trail markings, so it's easy to be on a ski trail that you think is probably the right one but really isn't.

at least that's true for some of the lower parts of the mountain.

so when i saw this waterfall, i assumed it was a problem of summer dryness (because yes, there was a whole week of dry weather) and it was nice and all that, but i did not see why anyone would label it "the waterfall".

but then on the way down i was on the right trail and saw this:

hike to a waterfall: check.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

gear review: mountainsmith tour with strappettes

reminder: nobody ever asks me to review gear, but i use gear and sometimes like to tell you how it performs. i do not receive gear from merchants or manufacturers to try out.


a long time ago (like, i was either still in college or just out of it) i bought a handsome mountainsmith lumbar pack. i loved it and used it for all the things, making it my de facto purse. in those days, there was only one model of mountainsmith lumbar pack, and i had it.

but then as more and more people had these bags and used them, mountainsmith came up with design changes that reflected how people were using the bags, like an improved shoulder strap.

and i saw these improvements and wanted one of the newer bags.

problem: my old bag was still in good shape and worked just fine. so i told myself i would use it hard and rough and wear it out and get me a new one.

twenty years later i still have not succeeded in wearing it out.

apparently this is a common story among fans of the original mountainsmith bag.

so this spring i decided to JUST GET A NEW ONE ALREADY, especially because the new one has more carrying space to hold my junior naturalist materials.

i bought the mountainsmith tour and a set (pair?) of strapettes, which are mountainsmith's packpack-style straps that can swap in and out for the shoulder strap to stabilize a large load for a longer hike.

my mom did the ordering, which is significant, because i didn't much care which color came, so she ordered huckleberry, which she judged to be the most handsome. this is only significant because she also apparently decided to nickname the bag "huckleberry", because a bad needs a nickname.

"huckleberry was shipped!" she'd tell me.

or "huckleberry's here!"

so me 'n' huckleberry, we're tight now.

we've carried a lot of stuff up a lot of mountains and i will tell you that this bag is tough like the original, has more carrying space, and the strapettes make it a comfortable carry for long days even with two full water bottles, a field guide, and a pair of binoculars.

and part of what i love about the strapettes is that if you don't need them and you just want to carry the bag as a purse or with fewer straps, they pop right off.

so yeah. would recommend.

be sure you like the color, though, because you're going to have the bag a LONG time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

things you see on the res: swimmers

i am still cleaning up old photos and videos that at the time i thought i would make into blog entries but then i couldn't be arsed to put them in chronological order or anything, so this is about a thing i saw back in may when i was living on site 3.

i was hanging out at camp and i saw this guy come through swimming and a canoe was following him with a wonan and two children in it, and they kept stopping to take water temps and they stopped for a minute or so to discuss that and the follow distance and some other things and they weren't far from my shore so i asked what he was training for.

to swim the english channel.

from the sounds of their accents this was their vermont vacation but that's no reason for the training to stop.

the next time they went by the crew was in three kayaks, but otherwise the same and they said they didn't mind me shooting video.

so here it is.

Friday, July 21, 2017

hanging out in the rain

during the time i was living on remote site 2 on waterbury reservoir, it rained.

like it rained a LOT. it rained so much that they eventually had to close the dam and let the water rise because after all it is a flood control project, but that's for another post.

one day i went out in the morning to visit my house and have a shower and so some laundry and then i went back to camp to hang out in the rain because even a rainy day on  the res is still a day on the res.

here's video:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

outings: mushroom walk

i told you about the time i accidentally went birding with the richmond/bolton/huntington senior center.

even though i'm not yet 60 i am retired and therefore fall into their demographic population, so i'm on their mailing list and sometimes go to activities.

anyway, i went to the mushroom walk with motown mushrooms.

it is a lovely outing at black barn farm in bolton, which is that farm right next to the upper potholes.

the nice young man takes you an a lovely scenic walk through woods that will have some wild mushrooms and some cultivars he has planted, including some that have naturalized. you go out in the woods with knives and big bags and then you bring the haul back to where the grill is already hot and you eat your fill of fresh grilled mushrooms and anything you don't eat, you can divvy up and take home.

pretty spectacular.

upper potholes 
raised bed with inoculated log borders
dye mushrooms

inoculated logs



our haul

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Go on a day-long outdoor adventure. Take pictures of all that you do!

my adventure day wasn't all that exciting.

and it wasn't entirely outdoors, although to be fair i have a lot of day long outdoor adventures and it was hard to pick one in particular so i woke up one day and said to myself "imma take a lot of pictures today and call this my day-long outdoor adventure."

and so i did.

so for starters, i played some ingress on my way over to stark, and then i messed with my gear and stuff and started walking up the mountain. i'd never been up the stark mountain trail, plus there's a waterfall up there (more about that later) so woo! jam-packed day!
trail signs
little violets growing wild
above the birdcage

kent thomas nature center. thomas kent? i always get it mixed up.
lunch inside, because the blackflies are outside
always read the log.
view of camel's hump
up the singlechair from midstation
water barrel at stark's nest
stuff on table.
feet up
long shadow, way down.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

closing tabs

i was not going to do another "things i found on the internet" post, but i have all these open tabs.

you may have seen them. or not.

first, and it's really important to make this first, because the open tab is messing with my browser speed, is the oskar fischinger google doodle. it's super awesome and you should play with it. clear your calendar.

there's this game coming out called miegakure and i want it. i want it SO BAD. but it's not out yet. meanwhile, there's a little box of  4 dimensional toys  you CAN buy and i'm thinking of buying it, only it's a little pricey for a thing that's just cool to play with and i don't know how much i'd really play with it. here's a video of the guy explaining it:

next, i WANT this bowl. i want it in stainless steel in the small size. i do not want it for kitchen purposes, but exactly for the reason we are being warned against: apparently if you take it out in the sun, its parabolic shape starts fires.

...which would make it an excellent addition to my fire kit.

changing topics suddenly, here's a video of a school board meeting. notice how the desperate young teacher tenders her resignation after detailing the ways her school is completely broken. then notice how when she's done, the board does not go into "holy shit our hair is on fire let's drop everything and really TALK ABOUT THIS" mode, but instead they don't even skip a beat and it's business as usual, which is what makes this so completely horrifying.

ok, now if you have a heart in you, you need to feel better, so here's this:

i am now in love with this kid.

also, i went to celebrate canada day weekend on july 4th  (yes, i know it's a little late, but i like the perverseness of celebrating canada day on july 4th) by putting on my spiffy canada maple leaf socks (because i'm like that), only to discover they have holes in them and have to be retired. no amount of watching this video will make up for that, but it is a pretty awesome video:

and there's this:

and this.

and this last thing sums up my week.

ok, i'm back to normal now.

Monday, July 17, 2017

extreme perversion

i told you about falafelnaan.

now i will tell you i've gone off the deep end and spread fresh salsa and guacamole in the falafel before adding the falafel and slathering it with tzatziki.

is is probably an abomination, but a delicious one.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

recipe: mocha coconut mousse

the day of my emergency root canal i was sitting here thinking that some smooth food might be nice and coincidentally this recipe popped up on my desk and i'm not really into chocolate cherry anything, but i figured i could adapt the general concept to something i might like.

so here's my adaptation:

things you're gonna need

a cup of chocolate chips. it won't pay you to go cheap on these.
a teaspoon of coconut oil
a can of coconut milk, preferably one that has settled. don't jiggle it.
some coffee flavored thing. i used instant coffee powder reconstituted with maple syrup. it's what i had in the house. don't judge.

things you should do

turn the can of coconut milk upside down and open the bottom. drain the liquidy stuff and save it to do something else with. the part you're going to use is the solid creamy stuff. if you get stupid and open the wrong end of the can you have to use a spoon to scoop it out, but no harm done.

toss the chocolate and the coconut oil in a bowl large enough to hold all the things. melt them together in your microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between. alternatively you can use a double boiler on the stove, but why would you?

add the solid part of the coconut milk and the coffee flavored thing, and blend it up real well. a hand mixer will make it fluffier, but your stick blender will do ok in a pinch.

put in in some little dishes and chill it for a few hours.

it is very tasty and does not hurt at all.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

live to know

so this one day a while ago i was out playing ingress (because of course) and i needed JUST A FEW MORE POINTS to level up and i had burned out the portals immediately by me but i noticed one hidden over there down that trail a little ways so i went and blew it up and got some more points and BOOM hit the next level (yay!) and it turned out to have been somebody's guardian and they were all ticked off about that but i was still a day or two from even knowing what one was so i didn't even know enough to go "huh? what's a guardian?" which would have been funny...

but anyway...

i was over there and hidden out of view there's a pretty little collection of stone cairn sculptures and farm wire sculptures an a nice bit of landscape tucked on a hillside and here are some pictures.

Friday, July 14, 2017

let's have a video grab bag, shall we?

because i really need to close some tabs.

ok, this thing isn't a video but it's striking and informative. you should look.

here's a video about how to make a "recorder" out of a carrot.

there are some other videos about whether or not this really works. it does. the vegetable orchestra has been doing this for a long time.

this is cool, and it's the sort of thing you almost thing you could do at home until you realize you just don't have one of those mirrors.

and if you've ever wondered about why women of the 18th century upperclass were so useless as to require lady's maids to help them dress, you maybe do no have a full appreciation for the difficulty of the process.

i drag myself out of bed in the mornings and pull on a pair of pants, a bra and a shirt and call it good. most days i get the shirt on forwards. no knickers are worn, so there's that in common.

and then there's these guys. i am enjoying everything they do, if we include "oh my goodness that looks so frightening" as "enjoyment".

but cool, you know?

and then there's this guy. his primitive technology channel is fascinating and for full benefit i recommend you go back and start watching him from the beginning, because basically he's starting with sticks and stones and working his way up to livable standards, if not modern ones. he makes a stylistic choice not to speak at all in the videos, unless you have subtitles on, and it turns out he does have a lot to say about his processes.

if he doesn't get a lot of marriage proposals, i will be very surprised.

and then there's this:

nuf sed.


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