Spectacular Scenery

4-22-2018

Today, I rode down in another guide’s boat on a one boat trip. The day was spectacularly sunny, no clouds, warm enough and a little breezy. I basically quit paddling early on so as not to over power the guests which was fine by me (and the guide). As I was sitting in the back at customer level, I couldn’t see what was up ahead or how the guide was maneuvering around the rocks and through the rapids; an odd place and situation for me to be in a raft. Knowing and trusting the guide, I decided I didn’t need to pay attention to the River at all. I was consciously keeping my feet securely tucked and my center of gravity squarely inside the raft in case we hit something hard. I had NO intentions of swimming as the water is literally freezing. But not worrying about the water, I was able to concentrate on the gorge itself. I saw features I had never seen before, even though this is my 21st year guiding the Hudson Gorge. With no leaves yet, many things are visible right now that are hidden for most of the season. But when you are guiding, you do not have time to look for them. Today I was able to experience the spectacular scenery the gorge is famous for. As the raft slid through waves and splashed through hydraulics, I was seeing the trip from a completely different perspective. I was fascinated by the way the sun cast tree dark shadows across the blue snow covered steep hillsides on the shady side of the river. I saw how snow was considerably deeper under the shade of the hemlock and ceder trees, and the way ice piled up on the river’s edge making sculptures and formations full of multi-colored hues of blue, green, white, and purple. In some places the ice is piled thicker than a house is tall. The bare deciduous trees on the sunny side of the river had no snow on the bare brown leave covers ground. Through the branches I found secret tall cliffs with intricate and complex rock formations, secluded veiled creeks with cold water splashing over moss covered rocks as it swiftly falls down the mountainside, and hidden animal trails traversing the steep and rocky hillsides. I was completely caught up in the grand and mystical essence of time immortal, of majestic mountains and roaring rivers, I reached out and touched life and the Goddess within me rejoiced.

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Setting Up Camp

4-12-2018

Being at home was driving me absolutely crazy. I desperately needed to get away. So I came up to the Adirondacks a couple of days early to give myself a couple of days to set up my tent and settle in before the raft trip this weekend. I knew there was snow on the ground still and it would take me a while to get everything just the way I like it. I even brought snowshoes so I wouldn’t slip and slide (or fall and break another bone) walking up and down the hill. Although it was cloudy and warm(ish) when I left the Catskills, it was drizzling and cool when I got to the Adirondacks. Such is life… I trudged up the hill to my tent platform, got all the ice and snow off it, got the tarp up and then set up the tent. Then up and down the hill a few times to move the futon pallet (it’s in 3 sections) into place. By that time it was starting to get dark and really starting to rain, so I saved the rest for tomorrow. I am excited and bubbling over with glee now that I am back up North, anticipation of the rafting season has my brain wiggling like a happy puppy. Then, as if to verify that spring is finally going to melt the snow, as I was settling down to go to sleep, snuggled in my sleeping bag, lightening split the dark night followed by rumbling thunder. A few more tapered off into the sound of the pouring rain as I drifted off to sleep.

Going Through Gear

3-31-2018

Today was finally sunny and warm enough for me to go through my rafting and camping gear. I even did a couple of loads of laundry to hang on the line; the first laundry on the line this year! I love the way clothes smell and feel when they have dried outside in the sun and fresh air. There is still wet melting snow on the ground so I confined my gear spread to the dry part of the driveway. This gear preparation and organization ritual is my personal start to the rafting season. I didn’t do my regular concise job of putting it all away last fall, so this spring I am really sifting through everything. I found stuff from the last camping trip that still reeks of campfire smoke. Ugh… Oh well, better late than never… I methodically and deliberately pack the car with everything I will need to set up my summer camp in the Adirondacks: the big tent, the futon, the mattress topper, bedding, (I hope the futon pallet and the small shelves are still up there in the loft), warm sleeping clothes, warm camping clothes, warm rafting clothes, life jacket, helmet, paddles, boats, bins, food, camp stove, fuel, hammock, sleeping bags, pillows, stuffed animals (for protecting the tent when I’m not there), and all the other gear, bags, gadgets, batteries, and stuff. I make sure I leave space to see out the back window for driving safety, but other than that I don’t think I could fit even the thinnest wafer into my Sparkle Car. I used to call myself the Space Goddess because I can squeeze more stuff into the given space of a car than the space can actually hold using regular everyday physics. When packing a car, my brain can magically utilize quantum mechanics to bend time and space so that more matter can flow into a given square footage than physically possible. I think tonight’s blue moon has enhanced my Space Goddess powers as I have managed to pack in what took two trips coming home last fall. So now I’m ready to head North. Can’t wait to get back on the River!

Stormy Mountain Sunrise

1-31-2018

Today is the first day of 30 radiation treatments. The course will take 6 weeks, and I should be done by March 15th. That seems like a long time from now. We now have to go to Albany every morning, an hour and a half drive from home, for a less than 15 minute appointment. So it is…   With my husband driving this morning, while cruising along the Bataviakill valley, the sky is dark, cold, and cloudy. The mountains are a darker blue grey against the struggling morning light. Suddenly, the sun breaks through a hole in the cloud cover, a blinding orange fire ball streaming yellow sun beams beneath the clouds and over the side of the mountain, illuminating he snow covered fields in glorious triumph. I see stray snowflakes floating through the air, gleaming in the morning sunlight. I feel as if the super charged sunlight has pierced the armor around my soul and is letting the glorious morning sun song fill me with hope and love. As the car travels around a long wide turn, the angle of sight lines shift, and the sun sinks behind the clouds again. So goes a sunrise over stormy mountains. I am warmed and content, because the sun also rises, and I know Spring will be here soon.

Snow On The Mountaintop

1-6-2018

Driving over the crest of a tall hill, the road drops steeply down and out of sight around a curve, a vista opens out across the valley, winter sunlight streams from a crystal blue sky, bare trees look black against the snow covered ground, their long thin grey shadows slanting across the forest floor. The horizon is dominated by a mountain ridge across the way, half way up there is a snow line, it reminds me of seeing snow line up high on summer trips through the Rockies in Colorado and of how snow line would oscillate up and down the distant peaks the winter I spent in Portland, Oregon all those years ago. Reminiscing startles to a halt when science kicks in, how can I see a snow line when there is snow at my present elevation? I take a more scrutinizing look at the mountain ridge and realize that I am looking at probably a frost line or frozen precipitation line of some sort. Although there is snow cover all the way down in the valley floor, the trees up top are covered in a frozen layer that is gleaming white in the slanting winter sunshine. The trees below that elevation do not have a coating of ice or frost, so they are dark and black against the ground. Above there, all the branches are coated in a frosty icing, blending into the snow covered ground giving the illusion of a snow line. A visual representation of the temperature gradient as elevation changes! Mother Nature is freaking awesome!

Year In Review!

12-31-2017

2017 was generally a good year. Last December I decided my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 would be to have more adventures. I believe I have lived up to that resolution. When making it I knew that not all the adventures would be grand ones. I wanted to have small adventuress, ones that happen in every day life that make it interesting, fun, and stimulating. Of course when one is purposely trying to find new experiences, looking for Hobbit Adventures, one runs into misadventures as well, and there have been some of those too.

The adventures stared last December when I cut my hair, yes it was an adventure for me (my hair was waist length and had not been cut since 1994), and that set the tone for the year! I now have a shaggy pixie bob which I still love a year later.

Next I started Flippin’ Gypsy on Etsy. I make colorful, whimsical, scarves, hats, jewelry, and decorations. I have only sold one thing so far, but I’m having fun with it. I have a ton of ideas too, so I’ll keep it going this year.

Other small adventures include: this daily blog, becoming a snowshoe guide for Windham Mountain, raft guiding for Beaver Brook Outfitters, and moving my summer base camp to their property. As a Beaver Brook guide I did several overnight trips in the Hudson Gorge, staying at campsites I had never camped at before, guided a paddle trip across Lake George, one across Sacandaga Lake then hiking to Fawn Lake, one from Blue Mountain Lake to Raquette Lake and hiking into Sargent Pond from Tioga Point, working at the Thurman Canoe Center and guiding several paddle trips down the Hudson from there, guiding a high water trip down the “Lower Gorge” of the Hudson (a section I had never seen before), and guiding a raft trip down the Sacandaga River. I made some wonderful new friends and rekindled some old friendships working there as well.

Other small adventures include, in no particular order: all the solo walks, hikes, and paddles, seeing the middle of Kaaterskill Falls, seeing North South Lake frozen, hiking to Westkill Falls with my husband, paddling Brown’s Tract with my friend, paddling Lake Durant, checking out several state parks I had never been in for paddling potential, bike riding with my mother, jumping off the big rock into the creek, breaking trail in 3 feet of fresh snow with snowshoes, riding the chairlift, buying my own snow pants, playing in the waterfall at the end of South Inlet on Raquette Lake, jumping off the big rock on Blue Mountain Lake, knitting everybody’s holiday gifts, snuggling with the cats, lounging in the hammock in the sun with absolutely nothing to do, hammock camping (the best!), planting and harvesting the garden, walking across the trestle at Railroad Rapid (no trains on this track), participating in a protest march in New York City, practicing yoga on the porch every morning before rafting, seeing a moose at my tent twice, inheriting a raft and two duckies and using them, doing flips off jump rock on the Hudson trip, and many many more!

The three grand adventures were the whirlwind trip south for July 4th to run the Shenandoah with friends I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, the raft guide reunion on Blue Mountain Lake, and the epic trip to South Carolina to see the total solar eclipse with my sister which included kayaking from the swamp out to the ocean.

Misadventures, preventable: twisting my ankle while rafting back in June (still not back to normal yet), scraping my foot on a rock while swimming in July which didn’t heal until September when I quit getting my feet wet (left a cool scar), burning my foot with boiling water while camping in September (also scarred), getting eaten alive by insects in SC (I broke down and bought some actual Deet repellent), receiving several tic bites and having to go get the Lyme prevention antibiotic, all the times I froze my tush off in the rain because I wasn’t dressed warm enough, getting slightly lost in the woods on top of Windham Mountain while solo snowshoeing in a snow storm as night was falling, almost flipping my raft in a hydraulic in high water and having half my guests swim.

Misadventures, beyond control: having the well water go red and silty all spring and summer (I carted water from the Adirondacks home every week for us to drink), loosing my grandfather last August at 96 years old, I love him and miss him, being diagnosed with breast cancer and then lumpectomy surgery to remove it (early detection saved my life!), and getting bronchitis 3 times in 3 months.

So now that 2018 is here, I think I will keep a good thing going, my resolution for 2018 is to keep having adventures, take the back roads, try new things, take a walk on the wild side, keep life stirring, lively, provocative, intoxicating, groovy, and full of zest. Even the little things in life are worth enjoying!

Eagles In The Creek

12-7-2017 Magic Moment:

I went for a walk down the road today. It turned into more of a meander as I wandered off through the neighboring field to get a closer look at a new beaver dam. It is a typical late fall day, cold blustery air, sun playing hide and seek with low clouds. I fill my pockets with eye catching rocks as I stumble along the loose footing jumble of rocks that is the creek bed. Back up on the road, I am lost in my own world, walking through an evergreen tree tunnel. I notice movement on a wide rock bar down in the creek. Two glossy crows take flight, spreading their wings and catching air currents that lift them above the trees and out of sight, their caws echoing out of hearing. Then I see two more birds take flight, huge and cumbersome near the ground, giant broad wings flapping smoothly to gain height, then gliding effortlessly as they catch the moving air, their dappled brown and white bodies seem immense as the slide by me while I stand gawking at their silent passage. They are two immature bald eagles, flying so close I could almost reach out to touch them through the trees. To confirm my guess, another movement catches my attention, a third bald eagle, head and tail flashing bright luminous white through the dark evergreen bows. I guess this is mom or dad, as it banks, glides sideways and lands gracefully in a leafless tree across the creek. She/ he calls out a screeching squawking cry. The two immature eagles turn in flight, one lands nearby, the other disappears from my sight in jumble of tree branches. I stand a watch this eagle family for a long time. Neighbors had told me they saw an eagle all summer down here. There must be an active and successful nest hidden in the forest somewhere near here. There is wonder and beauty all around us, we just need to slow down and pay attention!