14th Edition of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Map

OverviewSo, recently, I’ve been busily planning my next trip to the Adirondacks.  With any luck, I’m going to complete my 46, an accomplishment I’ve been looking forward to for some time.  Needless to say, I was excited to see that the ADK’s 14th edition of their high peaks map had finally come out–mine was ordered almost as soon as they announced it.  This morning, I paused to take photos of the four maps of the Adirondacks hikers are likely to have, to see what progress has been made in the new map.

So let’s say you were planning to head out to bag Santanoni, Couch, and Panther, a trip I did in February. Continue reading 14th Edition of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Map

Backpacking the Alta Via 2, Dolomites, Italy

Alta Via 2 (65 of 98)

I’m sorry if I’ve seemed a little slow with this trip report. On the one hand, I’ve just been very busy since I got back; on the other, I’ve wanted to collect my thoughts about the AV2. About what we accomplished, and what we didn’t; about the things that went well, and the things that could have been improved. As a group, we backpacked quite well. Though we finished only about 2/3rds of the trail, we hiked more of it than any other group on the trail at the same time, that I was aware of (more on that later). Continue reading Backpacking the Alta Via 2, Dolomites, Italy

Caryatid: Detail from Unfinished Work

Lika_Comparison_2One might ask oneself why I’ve photographed the beautiful Anzhelika Lewis with, of all things, a cardboard box on her head.  When I set out to create a caryatid, I knew that it would be difficult to get the pose exactly right.  Part of the trick would be that, in the final image, the subject would be part of the stone structure she was supporting.  But, of course, we wouldn’t have that column in the studio.  For a time, I hunted for  space where we would have a column, but that proved impractical.  So I hit upon the idea of having the model hold an object that would serve as the capital of the column.

Continue reading Caryatid: Detail from Unfinished Work

MST 4, Section 4: State College to Hairy John (43 miles)

MST4 (6 of 6)

Another weekend, another section of the MST.  As Friday, June 6, approached. we all peered at the weather forecast, hoping the super-heated misery, then rain, of MST 3 would not repeat itself.  As the cars rolled north on Friday, it looked as it we would be treated to a nice weather weekend.  I was having some luck–the Donut Hole over Memorial Day weekend had also featured some very reasonable weather.

Continue reading MST 4, Section 4: State College to Hairy John (43 miles)

Donut Hole Trail: Memorial Day Weekend 2015

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B~~~ and Heavy D rounded the corner, pushing through the jungle-like undergrowth. In front of them, the remains of a campfire smoldered. Someone had scribbled, in charcoal, “DC UL Camp WaWa.” They looked at each other. What could it mean?

Continue reading Donut Hole Trail: Memorial Day Weekend 2015

MST, Section 3, Williamsburg to State College

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So, someone somewhere somehow got the notion that MST 3 would be easy. They didn’t get that idea from me, by the way, for the record. Perhaps they got that idea from the elevation profile. I cannot say.

It certainly wasn’t easy to set up. It was a rare event for DC UL that we had plenty of cars, but not enough cars to make an early group. So, Thursday night, I changed my mind (U-Turn) and just had everyone come to the RV-campsite at Duncansville, PA. This was a pleasant spot. No doubt the RV campers are still talking about us. Blue Blazes built a bonfire to amuse herself. Shuttle rolled in with the DC crew round 9:30pm. We were off to sleep early.

Saturday morning, 5am. We were up and rolling north to meet Turbo and Pringle at Galbraith Gap. The anchor vehicles established, it was back south to Williamsburg and the Lower Trail Parking lot. After admonishing the assembled hikers to “beware trail hookers,” we were off along the Juniata towpath, pleasant in the early morning. It was about 8:15am.

The miles flew by, interrupted only by the occasional call of “bike!” I took texture photos for my composites, and chatted. The flat miles wore on some folks; I had a traumatic flashback to the one-day hike, but we reached the Juniata Water Gap by mid-morning. After a quick ice cream break, we left the Lower Path, and (at last!) enter Rothrock State Forest. This was a relief to me, as an organizer, as it means that we will have much easier camping options for the remainder of this section-hike.

A few trail miles went by, then we walked along RR tracks into the village of Barre, PA. Folks waved as we passed. We arrived at the trailhead near the Lower Juniata. The trail got serious about getting us back up to Tussey Mountain. It was hot. Steamy. Steep. The line strung out. I reached the summit with Blue Blazes. Face Plant and B.A. were already there. We discussed plans for the evening. There was a breath of wind and a dramatic view. I settled into take some photos and wait for the Shuttle, B~~~, and the others. It was a good spot and a good moment.

With everyone accounted for, we started off along the rocky ridgeline. It soon became apparent that this would become the tale of two trails. The ridgeline was flat enough, yes, but it was wicked rocky footing, as bad as the worst of the Massanutten, and tougher than anything we’d seen on the MST. I’d still say there were worse sections of the Standing Stone Trail and the Tuscarora Trail, but make no mistake, this was tough footing. The rockfields gave us occasional views; we passed a fat black snake sunning itself; Shuttle attacked a rock with her knee; we admired the elaborate cairns.

We hiked some with B~~~. We had all tanked up before the climb, but we were all dripping in sweat and guzzling the water. B~~~ wasn’t worried. The springs were just a few hundred feet below the ridgeline. I pointed out that the contour lines were in metric. A few hundred meters is not a few hundred feet. His face contorted in a curious mix of agony, dismay, and pain. We walked on. At last, at a trail register, B.A. had left a note that the campsites were ahead. Thank goodness! There was little suitable ground atop that ridge. We all rolled in. 22 miles for the day.

But water? Shuttle and I had enough for the night, but that was about it. Either today or tomorrow, I figured, so I saddled up again to head for one of the springs. B.A. came a long in his flip flops. We descended down the Tussey Mountain Trail, which had a very steep pitch on it, and found a beautiful spring near a camp. B.A. and I guzzled this pristine water, then loaded up my pack with 11.5 L–my little frameless pack isn’t meant for that chore. B.A. and I then returned to camp and distributed water. I think I’m calling that a 24-mile day for me.

We planned for another 5am depature. Aileen asked, “Are you serious?” Yes, I am! Texas State Fair chili for me, a drop of whisky, and then we were out. 5am comes around quickly.

I screamed everyone awake, and, as we hit the trail at 6am, it started to rain, a light consistent rain that would last until the afternoon. We were soon soaked and we had 19 miles to walk … on slippery PA rocks. We got moving, passing viewpoints, clouded in with rain. Aileen and I walked some together. We passed PA 26, descending briefly into the valley, where we re-grouped. Brian C’s feet were blistered up. We gave him some tape. I think all of our feet were suffering from the battering. Climbing back to the ridge, Shuttle lost her normally calm demeanor, and starting dreaming of titles for the hiking book she would never write, “PA: No Switchbacks”! That little climb ends in a boulder field. Shuttle was pissed. I told her, “C’mon! It will be great practice for climbing other boulder fields.” She harrumphed.

Ridgeline. More rocks. Will it ever end? The rain stopped. I hiked with Brian C. His feet were bad, but he wasn’t going to stop. Aileen became hhomicidal briefly. I got pissed off when I realized we weren’t going to be done by 2pm. I ate some cheese and felt better. As we neared Galbraith Gap, the trail left a pleasant forest path to follow and old RR grade–piled with rocks!!!!–oh, the agony! We re-grouped where we would leave the MST–near Little Flat Tower. The camraderie made us all feel better. Of course, there’s a perfectly good parking lot there, but why would we use that?

Why, indeed?

We descended, first by trail, then by road, then by trail, then by road, to the cars. 4:30pm. And splits of 23 / 19. Given the conditions, 19 miles by 4:30pm is just fine, but I think we were all a little battered. With no time for a pub visit, we drank a few beers in the parking lot (I had stocked up on summer shandy), reversed the shuttle, and headed home.

Make no mistake: we got a tough section of trail done here. The MST is no joke, but we’re doing it for the challenge. I imagine we all have our aches and pains this morning, but it really was a fun weekend, with a great crew! Bravo to the 11 who started, and the 11 who finished! Well done!

This Photograph Makes Me Feel Fear

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Well, with Transformations behind me, it is time for me to do the inevitable and send my desktop back to Velocity Micro.  I’ve put this off for sometime so that I could finish the project, but the computer–four years old now–is completely out-classed with the sort of Photoshop work I’m doing.
Those who know me know that I have built many computers over the years.  I’ve built them for me; I’ve built them for others.  Mainly, I’ve built them for video-gaming.  I got out of that business with this one, though, figuring that someone else would know how to maintain it better.  And I haven’t gamed nearly as much.  Overall, I’ve been super content with Velocity Micro.  They’re going to re-build it for me.  I am hoping that, with more RAM and the addition of a solid state drive, or two, I’m going to be able to get another year or so out of the machine and stave off the construction of a new one.

Continue reading This Photograph Makes Me Feel Fear

Mid-State Trail: Everett to Williamsburg, Pennsylvania

MST2 (4 of 4)

DC UL continued its long march across Pennsylvania this weekend.  Obviously, we enjoyed some lovely weather, though it did snow on us some Saturday morning.  Snow!  Can you believe that?

And what a section it was!

Everything began smoothly enough. After a rather hectic morning (work, manuscript, art), I left home at about 3pm. Traffic plagued me up 270, but I had guessed well, and Savage, Steve (with Blue Blazes), and I arrived at the Lower Trail parking lot in Williamsburg within 10 minutes of each other. Pretty good precision! We piled into my car–which, yes, can handle four ULers–and drove back to Everett. The DC crowd rolled into our favorite eatery, the Union Hotel, between 8pm and 8:30pm, and we chowed down with gusto.

Continue reading Mid-State Trail: Everett to Williamsburg, Pennsylvania

Fourth Transformation: Imagination

Horror Show_042415_noWM (1 of 1)

With my little show coming up on Wednesday, I’m scrambling around to finish work.  This is the fourth concept I had planned.  Emma was a fantastic model–we really had more images than I could do anything with.  I may return to this edit a little later, but for now, it’s to the hills. The Mid-State Trail, Section 2, awaits!