Sunday, July 28, 2013

Section 6: 9.4 Miles

Out for another trip in less than two weeks!  I think that's a record.  I'm always so busy it's hard to fit these overnights in.  It was another out and back which amounted to about 17 or so miles.  We parked at Lake Skannatiti and hiked south towards Mt. Ivy.  The section leading up to the shelter we would later stay in was great.  The Long Path Guide said this whole section was "gentle" so I wasn't surprised.  After the shelter, however, it wasn't so nice.  The next several miles were almost entirely descending, sometimes steeply.  All I could think was "Frick frick frick we have to hike the whole way back before the end of today."

After a few miles, the trail leaves Harriman and enters Letchworth Village Cemetery.  This place was utterly haunting.  It is a cemetery with graves marked only by numbers, because the occupants came from a nearby, now shut down, home for the mentally disabled.  The numbers are very representative of the way people with special needs were treated at the time - committed and then forgotten.  The whole hill had a sad aura around it.

After finishing the section in Cheesecote Mountain Park, the crappy section of the trail starts.  The trail follows the Palisades Parkway for a mile or two in the woods next to the freeway.  We were essentially bushwhacking while following faint blazes.  It was slow going and very tiring.  When we finally arrived at Mt. Ivy, we (thankfully) came out in town and bought some Gatorade from a Shell Station and filled our water bottles in the bathroom. (Yay no filtering!)

For most of the trail, we had pretty much been walking in a veritable cloud of gnats.  They were EVERYWHERE.  I ended up tripping over rocks because it was dim in the woods but if I didn't have my sunglasses on they got stuck in my eyelashes. We decided to take a road walk partway back because of the bushwhacking and the bugs.  We were offered a hitch, but Mike turned it down (much to my chagrin...I hardly thought the family of 4 looked like serial killers).

Big Hill Shelter

When we trudged (that was the only speed I had left at this point) back up to the shelter, we were greeted with a completely empty shelter with beautiful views and no bugs!  It was by far our best camping experience to date.  We could see the NYC skyline in the distance as we ate.  We even got a fireworks show.  (Why there were fireworks on July 27th I'll never know).

Making dinner at the shelter

I was sleeping peacefully until two guys trudged in at midnight, argued about where to camp, cooked food loudly, and ended up sleeping in the shelter.  The shelter's not on the AT or anything...I guess some people just like night hiking...  We woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 and were hiking out by 6:15.  Finished the 4 miles to the car by 7:45 and were home by 9am. :-)  Nature sightings - An entire family of turkeys and a coyote.

Section 5: 10.15 Miles

Long Path Section 6 at EveryTrail

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in New York

     So the mileage for this route is a little misleading.  I only have progressed 10.15 miles down the long path but this trip ended up being closer to 18 miles between the two days.  We started out at the parking loop on Route 6 and started our hike towards Lake Skannatati.  The plan was to hike out to the lake and then retrace our steps the 4.5 miles back to the Cohasset shelter.  Because of stuff we needed to get done at home, we didn't get on the trail until noon.  The hike out went pretty well.  It wasn't too difficult and there actually wasn't too many steep ups and downs.  We saw some nice views, and some interesting bones on the the side of the trail.  I think they were from a deer.

Some bones chillin' in the trail.

     The second half was actually pretty flat, plus it was well marked.  This section has crossings with many other trails, including the AT so it's really important to pay attention to the blazes.

AT/LT Intersection

     Because of our late start, by the time we got to the parking lot of the lake, it was already 6pm.  We decided to take a shorter route using a road walk, and go to the Fingerboard shelter instead of Cohasset.  By a bit after 7, we got to the shelter and set up our tent.  There were a few AT thru-hikers spending the night but other than that it was pretty empty.

     30 minutes later, a mother showed up with her 8ish year old son, who was shouting out compass directions randomly and tripping over rocks all the way into the site.  He was literally the kid from "Up" personified.  The mom started to set up 10 feet from our tent.  *sigh* I don't dislike kids (obviously, I'm a teacher) but I spend so much time with them and camping is my peace and quiet time.  I don't know the name of the thru hiker who suggested they move to a nice clear spot on the other side of the shelter, but I am forever grateful.

These little guys were all over the trail.  It's a Red-spotted Newt.

     We slept, well I slept and Mike dozed occasionally (he sleeps like crap in tents) and woke up at 6 to hike the few miles out.  Overall, nice trip.  It was also cool to be able to hike on the AT for a bit.  *Someday...*

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Big Agnes Pearl Sleeping Bag Review

I have been using this bag for about 2 1/2 years and it has served me well during this time.  Most of my trips have been weekend trips instead of long, continued use.  I have used the bag down to 35 degrees, and I was decently warm wearing my thermals to bed.  However, I am a warm sleeper so a cool sleeper might be a bit cold right at the 30 degree rating.  The zipper goes almost to the foot box so it makes for good ventilation for warmer nights.  It does not have a true footbox vent, though.

The fit is nice and loose without being too far from the mummy shape.  I don't feel constrained as I do in most mummy bags - I am a very restless sleeper.  I have the petite version - I am 5'1 so no length issues there.  I can't attest to how it would fit a taller person.  It's really easy to get in and out with the full zip.  

The bag's shell has some moisture resistance but it will wet out pretty quickly if water accumulates at any corner of the tent or seeps in as condensation and the bag does not dry in a hurry.  The bag is down so once the down gets wet, it will lose much of its warmth factor.  If you are spending a lot of time in a wet climate, some of the new drydown options might be better for you.  The bag compresses down really well, especially with a compression sack.  I can get mine down to about the size of a football, maybe a bit smaller.  It takes a little time to puff back up and might need a little coaxing - but I pack mine down REALLY tightly.  

The zipper doesn't seem to have a catching problem and everything works the way it should.  It has a neck baffle that helps keep cold air out of the body of the sleeping bag, but it does not cinch around your face.  It has a little sleeve attached to the bag so you can stuff a fleece or a camp pillow in it and it stays put.  I love it because I can just throw a bunch of random clothes in it to use as a pillow and they stay together.  

The bag has lasted 2 1/2 years and hasn't gotten any rips or tears, and the zipper has held out well.  Remember that Big Agnes bags do not have insulation on the bottom - just a sleeve for a sleeping pad.  It helps cut down on weight and keeps your pad in place if you toss and turn at night.  It is a discontinued bag but can be found in a lot of clearance sales, so it's a great bag for someone looking for a good deal.  

  • Very light
  • Durable
  • Pillow sleeve
  • Does not repel water
  • Needs a sleeping pad
  • Cold sleepers may be chilly