Saturday, August 27, 2011

5 Reasons to Love Day Hiking in the Rain - Guest Blogger Post

By Grant Ritter, Author of New England Outside

Rain typically persuades most people to cancel outdoor plans in favor of movie marathons, house cleaning or some other indoor activity; it doesn’t have to be this way. Hiking in the rain can be a lot of fun. I know you don’t believe me yet but you will find 5 reasons below that might change your mind. Before I go on I must stress what kind of rain I am talking about. Obviously if the weather is unsafe you should not venture out and all rain hiking should stay well below tree line. Also hike with a buddy or let someone know where you are going. 

Reason 1: Hike the path less hiked:

Rainy days are a great reason to explore a local trail or something that you typically bypass on your way to the more epic ascents in the Whites. This way you expand your hiking knowledge and can keep the sunny days free for the epic climbs.

Reason 2: Test your rain gear:

Rain gear is expensive and it spends most of its life in the bottom of your pack. A rainy hike below tree line gives you a low risk opportunity to see what your rain gear is capable of. This is great knowledge to have when you break out the rain gear in an above tree line or backcountry situation.

Reason 3: A fresh perspective on your favorite trail:

If you are like me then you have a few favorite trails that you have hiked countless times; typically during favorable weather. Rain can give you a fresh experience on these routes with decreased visibility, the pitter patter of rain drops, and fog in the trees. It might not sound like fun but it feels like getting to know an old friend in a new way.

Reason 4: Have the trail to yourself:

Few people hike in the rain; it is a plain and simple fact. Even a light drizzle will clear the most popular trails. This means you can hike some choice locations in virtual solitude. This can be a great thing if you hike to get away from it all.

Reason 5: A wet day outside beats a dry day inside:

What is more fun, hiking outside in the rain or being inside wishing you were hiking? This is not a trick question. I always prefer to be hiking even if conditions are a little damp.

So are you convinced that hiking in the rain can be fun? Rain gives us a chance to hike new trails, get to know old ones, test gear and just have fun. Head for the trail the next time rain is forecast if you have an open mind and a desire to have fun.

I want to extend a very special thanks to Grant for writing this great guest post for LFAHNH. He's certainly given me a different perspective of hiking in the rain. Grant hikes all of over New England and also takes part in many other outdoor sports in New England. He will soon be finishing up his NH48, 4K-footers, with his last peak being Owl's Head, the peakbagger's nemesis! Please drop by Grant's blog, New England Outside or his Facebook page. Please note that the contents of this post (text and pictures) are property of Grant and are protected under my copyright. - Karl


Friday, August 26, 2011

Some Blog Promoting and A Good Cause

Fellow hikers, Dan and Meena Szczesny, have been really busy this past year. They have achieved some amazing accomplishments as well as continue to move forward with tackling great goals. In a year’s time, Meena finished her New Hampshire 48, 4,000 footers with Dan by her side, they tied the knot on the summit of Mount Lafayette, and made a phenomenal journey to Everest Base Camp and some surrounding peaks!

Dan and Meena standing a top Kala Patthar

They have shared their wonderful adventures on their blog, Expedition Kala Patthar, which is very well known within the hiking community. Specifically, they have documented their Everest Base Camp trek in a series of posts deemed the Nepal Chronicles. The writing is fantastic and the pictures are breathtaking. If you haven’t checked out this blog, I urge you to do so. Their pictures from their Kala Patthar trip are absolutely amazing!

One of many breathtaking photos displayed on their blog from their Kala Patthar trip

More recently, Dan has decided to put his hiking to use helping a local charity, the Holy Cross Learning Center of Manchester. The organization is geared towards helping local New Hampshire immigrants learn English and therefore helping to create a better life for these individuals and their families. To help this organization, he will attempt to hike all 48, 4,000 footers in the month of September. He’s currently accepting donations (mostly per peak). Please consider sponsoring Dan in this huge undertaking! To learn more about his September trek and how you can sponsor him, visit his September 48 blog, where he is documenting his upcoming quest. He has named his journey “48 in 30”…which has a very nice ring to it!

 Dan, making his way down to the Greenleaf Hut while training for his "48 in 30" attempt

Just to recap where you can find info for Dan and Meena’s hiking adventures, their primary blog is Expedition Kala Patthar. They have a Facebook page which exclusively features the Nepal Chronicles. Finally, their new blog, exclusively featuring his “48 in 30” attempt, is September 48!

Good luck, Dan and Meena, on your new adventure. Thanks for some great stories this past year and here's to many more!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So Many Great Memories!

It finally came!!! Our 2010 hiking picture book that Jill and I constructed on Shutterfly. It ended up being 100 pages, which is the maximum size book you can make. I’m sure that seems like a lot of pages, but it goes by quickly, especially since we had photos from 27 great hikes in 2010! Below are some snapshots of a few pages from the book. It came out really nice. I’d take a picture of every page to show you, if I could. 

 Mount Lafayette on the cover of our book!

 Jill and I on the Holt Trail, Mount Cardigan...Very Steep!
Our Mount Jackson and Mount Webster Loop on my Birthday!

Jill and I on the Franconia Ridge on our Anniversary!

 Me, on Mount Flume after hiking the dreaded Flume Slide Trail

Jill and I exploring Mount Katherine, during foliage and soon after we found out we were expecting Lylah!
It was a special day!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Walking in Exeter - Powder House Point

The historical Exeter Powder House, built in 1771

It was really nice out Wednesday evening, so Jill and I decided to take Lylah down to some trails we always see people walking on in Exeter. The trails are located directly across the Squamscott River from the parkway side (which is the side we typically walk down). This would be Lylah’s first “hike”, so we wanted to make it easy, flat and short. We found access to these trails just behind the Exeter Mill Apartments.

Squamscott River with the historical Exeter skyline in the background

Sign on the gate at the trailhead

When we arrived, we found that this trail (or area) was called Powder House Point and it actually made a loop around some runoff portions of the Squamscott River. We decided to hike the loop in a counterclockwise direction. At the beginning of the trail was a pretty large, but decorative, steel gate. A plaque on one of the granite posts indicated that this was in fact Powder House Point. The trail was pretty well beaten down and easy to follow. There were still a few wildflowers in bloom and the bumble bees were doing their best to pullout whatever pollen was left.

Sign at the Powder House

 Bumble Bee hard at work!

In a very short time, we came to the old powder house. Signs indicated that it was erected in 1771 and stored gun powder for both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. In fact, the small powder house stored powder that was captured from the British in Newcastle and was then used against them in the Battle of Bunkerhill. History like this is great and I’m glad places like this are preserved in this manner.

Not sure what these are, but they were pretty neat looking.

 Ducks swimming in the Squamscott River

 Trail, heading back toward the trailhead

We continued on and were followed by a red winged black bird, singing up a storm. I tried to snap a few shots, but it moved too quickly for me to get any worth posting. As we made our way around the loop, we were soon heading back in the direction we came. At this point on the trail, we were walking right on the banks of the Squamscott River. We could see people across the way walking up the parkway as we have done so many times before. Some canoeists also made their way up stream and they seemed to be enjoying the fresh evening air as much as we were.
 Flag at the Powder House with the Exeter Mill Apartments in the background
 Cool looking pod...sort of looks like a cucumber!

In a very short time, we were at the end of the trail and back to the truck. It was a beautiful evening and certainly beat sitting inside for the night. I think Lylah had a good time, although she slept for most of the trek. I would certainly recommend this walk to anyone in the Exeter area. Birds, flowers, scenic river views and a little history all wrapped up into one little loop.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gear Review - EMS Big Bang Daypack!

About a month ago, EMS contacted me to possibly review one of their daypacks. Being a huge EMS fan, an avid hiker and a gear junky to boot, I was really excited for the opportunity. Even more so, I was excited that this gear review would be published on EMS’s Outdoor Gear and Adventure Blog!

A week or so after being contacted, the daypack arrived. The style was the Big Bang Daypack and was red in color. It was medium in size, holding 2,300 cubic inches. I immediately began opening it up to see how many compartments the bag had and what I thought they would be best used for. I noticed there was one large compartment as well as one front organizing compartment as many hiking packs have. In addition to these two compartments, there were two smaller compartments up near the shoulder area and one thin, but large, padded compartment behind the larger compartment. I knew that I would find uses for all these compartments when I was ready to gear up for a hike.

EMS Big Bang Daypack with day hiking contents

I also looked at the shoulder straps in detail. Good shoulder straps can make or break a day hike. The ones on this pack were awesome. They had great mesh padding, as many good hiking packs do. This same padding was found on the portion of that pack that rested against your back, located at both of your shoulder blades and your tailbone. Finally, there was a good waist strap to help keep the pack against your body during unstable movement, as well as a chest strap. The chest strap on this pack was unique from other packs. It was adjustable and could actually move up and down five or six inches to fit perfectly to your body.

Organizing compartment in the front of the pack

Large compartment in the front of the pack

The pack sat for a little while until I found the time to finally take it out. With a newborn at home, hiking has been on hold lately, but I still try to get out whenever possible! I gathered up all the typical items one may take on a day hike. The contents were a sweatshirt (or any second layer), survival kit, compass, map, ¾ of a gallon of water, lunch and a camera. I must say, the pack did seem a little small to me compared to my Kelty Redwing…but I was seriously surprised when I fit all of this stuff in the Big Bang Daypack with room to spare! For a smaller pack, it packs quite a punch…no pun intended :).

Large, thin, padded compartment, great for a Camelbak bladder (or laptop)

Great shoulder straps and padded back

 Adjustable chest strap...one of my favorite features!!!

The two compartments near the shoulders and the thin compartment in the back definitely came in handy. I was able to put my wallet, cell phone, watch and car keys in the two shoulder compartments as I like to keep these items separate from my other hiking gear, because I’m always rummaging around in it. I wouldn’t want these items to fall out by accident. The thinner compartment seemed perfect for a Camelbak bladder. I don’t use one of these, but my wife does. I put it in there, and it seemed to fit well. Also, I thought the padding inside this area may also insulate the bladder and possibly keep its contents cold.

Survival kit, two water bottles, big hooded sweatshirt stuffed in large compartment with room to spare!

Side mesh compartment for easy access to a water bottle!

The great shoulder straps and back padding made the pack comfortable to wear. The weight in the pack seemed to balance itself well. I really like the adjustable chest strap. The waste strap is good, but I must say, if it was padded, it would make it great. Most of all, I was happy with how I could organize my hiking gear in the multiple compartments.

Top shoulder compartments were perfect for my valuable items I like to keep separate from my hiking gear!

After playing around with the pack, I went on EMS’s website and checked out the specs on the pack. I was surprised to see that the two compartments at the shoulders and the thinner compartment were actually for a laptop and its accessories (power cords, cameras, etc.). The primary use for this pack was tagged as “campus use”. So, this pack is really a multiuse pack. It can be used in the woods, in the office or at school. That’s a pretty versatile investment at the retail price of only $110. I give this daypack two thumbs up and would highly recommend it for day hiker.