A Second Chance For Harriman

Isaiah 43:18

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.”

 

Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms

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Back in October I paid a visit to Harriman State Park in New York State, and it met me with beautiful trails and vistas, but the crowds and lack of water left me wanting a do over. I vowed to return in the off season to see another side of this diamond in the rough. I got my chance on the final weekend of December 2013. The forecast was for cold and rain on day two, so I set out, with my brother Paul Cummings, to see how the character of the park would change.

Day 1

I planned three different loop hikes so that we could assess the conditions when we got to Harriman and make an informed decision, and due to winter road closing and such we decided to do a repeat of the hike I did in October. The parking lot at Reeves Meadow was full, with just one spot left for my pickup in a snow pile by the trash dumpster. For the most part any snow from recent storms had melted, except what was piled high on the parking lot fringe. I was hoping this would be the case on the trail as well, since there were a few steep ups and downs to contend with during day one.

As we started it was cool and cloudy, not the sunny day we were promised. No matter – any day hiking is a good day.

Nice clear trail

Nice clear trail

There was breeze that added a nice crispness to the air, and it created the only sounds in the forest aside from mine and Paul’s conversation.

Cool boulder

Cool boulder

As we climbed ever higher on the Seven Hills Trail it became apparent that the heavens were going to bless us with the warming sun we were hoping for. By the time we reached the top of the ridge and the junction of the HTS Trail it was clear, with awesome views to the north and south.

Looking north toward Torne View

Looking north toward Torne View

As we climbed toward Torne View we came across some ice that made hiking interesting, but not all that difficult. Thankfully that would be the case the whole trip.

Icy patch

Icy patch

Paul and I took a short break at Torne View, but the stiff breeze chased us onward.

Amigos at Torne View

Amigos at Torne View

The trails were rather empty, however we did run into a large group of scouts on the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail near Chipmunk Mountain. We continued on and their sounds disappeared as fast as they had appeared. As we turned onto the Kakiat Trail I was optimistic that we would find water, given the recent snow fall. Even though the streams were all dry in October, I could now hear the unmistakable rush of flowing water. In fact every stream was flowing, even the ones I was told about that aren’t on the map. That makes me happy, happy, happy indeed.

Takin' a picture because it might not be there next time

Takin’ a picture because it might not be there next time ūüôā

As we hiked along I was thinking about how I figured my food just right and would eat the last of my days rations before camp, and we had water so life was good, and we would hit camp just before dark and all those things that you think about when you don’t have to think about anything at all, when it happened. Somewhere on Cobus Mountain I bonked. I completely ran out of steam. Rationing properly doesn’t mean a hill of beans if the food you eat doesn’t keep the machine going. Fortunately we were in the last mile or so, but it was a drag gettin’ it done.

Stone Memorial Lean-to

Stone Memorial Lean-to

Paul and I set about the business of setting up camp, and the unmarked stream that flows downhill from the lean-to was flowing, so we had everything we could ask for in a campsite, including solitude.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

I set up my stove, put on warm clothes, and started to second guess whether or not my paper thin quilts would keep me warm. As Paul attempted to start a fire I tried to force down my chicken and stuffing dinner, but my appetite just wasn’t there. I ate what I could and decided to hit the sack at 6:30 pm, just as darkness settled in. The wet wood just didn’t want to cooperate and since it wasn’t all that important Paul gave up and hit the hay as well. To my pleasant surprise I woke up an hour later quite comfortably (almost too toasty, in fact) warm. Even though it dipped into the 20’s overnight I slept happily warm all night. All I can say is I will never doubt my Hammock Gear quilts again.

Day 2

After a great nights sleep I think we packed up in record time. Paul and I were eager to get underway, as the days forecast called for rain in the late morning. We were so eager that as we started out of camp it occurred to me that we forgot our morning devotion. We stopped and took time to thank God for all that He has blessed us with, and away we went, only stopping to water up.

The trail back to the parking lot is generally downhill to level, and the highlights are Pine Meadow Lake as well as Pine Meadow and Stony Brooks.

A frozen Pine Meadow Lake

A frozen Pine Meadow Lake

The great thing about a winter hike on a rainy day is the lack of crowds, and I reveled in the fact that we would pass only about two dozen hikers on the way out, as opposed to the 200 or so I probably saw in October.

Pine Meadow Brook

Pine Meadow Brook

As Paul and I hiked the last 100 yards the rain drops started down. After we loaded up our gear and climbed into my cab it started coming down in buckets. Timing is everything, I always say.

So was the second time the charm? I enjoyed this hike just as much as my first experience, and all I can say is I think I found a new winter hiking destination.

 

 

 

 

 

The End of the Trail For End2End Trail Supply

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End2End Trail Supply Gram Weenie PRO

Some of you may know that I am the founder/owner of End2End Trail Supply.¬† I just wanted to pass on the news that I finally decided that the trail has finally come to an end for that entity. For those of you who did not know, you are¬†most likely confused to be here. Welcome to my (somewhat) new home. No more stove sales, just the amblings and ramblings of a Christian backpacker. While closing was not an easy decision, I’m somewhat relieved and excited at the prospect of a little more free time to do the things that are most important in my life. I look forward to more family time. I look forward to more amblings (and ramblings). I have become involved in a chaplaincy program that I am especially excited about. While the drive to continue selling outdoors gear may have faded, I am especially grateful to my customers, some of whom I can honestly call my¬†friends. To all who came to visit End2End Trail Supply, thank you. That path¬†was good, but I’ve decided to take the path less taken, so, welcome to Walking With The Son!

Taming Old Man Winter

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Genesis 25:27

“And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”

I’ve always been a¬†four season hiker, but that’s easy to do in the mid-atlantic region of the country. Temperatures rarely dip below the teens, and mid twenty to¬†mid thirty¬†degree temperatures are the norm. I did most of my hiking for many years on the Appalachian Trail, and either a lean-to or tarp (and most recently a hammock) were plenty fine for most conditions. There was a time when I would hit the Presidential Range in New Hampshire¬†for winter camping, but a serious fall a number of years ago dampened my sense of arctic adventure. Over the past few years I decided to once again embrace the “extreme season”, and the Adirondacks in New York state have been my destination of choice. Temperatures can be more severe there, with sub-zero temperatures a regular occurrence. A trip last February that saw morning temps of minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit convinced me that even though I had the proper gear and experience for the occasion, I wanted to rough it a little more comfortably. Even though I consider myself a “plain man, dwelling in tents”, as was Jacob, I decided a “hot tent” was just the ticket.

Golite Shangria-La 5 "hot tent"

Golite Shangria-La 5 “hot tent”

What is a “hot tent” you ask? Well, it’s a floorless shelter fitted with a fiberglass “stove jack”, so that a chimney from a wood burning stove can be inserted through the wall of the shelter. My first order of business was research. After deciding to attempt to build my own stove I ordered the materials from McMaster Carr. I have been playing with a prototype, and came up with this:

Prototype wood burning stove

Prototype wood burning stove

The firebox is made from two steam table trays, connected by stainless steel all thread legs. I purchased a titanium damper and spark arrester from Titanium Goat, and fashioned the 10′ chimney pipe from .005″ stainless shim stock. I’ve got about 15 hours of burn time on the stove and now that I have a better understanding I will be moving forward with my final design. I chose the Golite Shangria-La 5 for my shelter due to it’s low weight, spacious footprint, purported four season capability, and also due to the fact I got it on sale last spring from Golite. I shipped the shelter off to Seekoutside, where they expertly installed a stovejack.

The setup

The setup

As you can see from the pictures, I have room for at least 3 people and their gear in my heated haven of heavenly habitation (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

So, how well does it work you ask. I had the opportunity to sleep out a few days before Christmas, and I can honestly say that on a twenty degree night that little stove threw out some serious heat. With the damper wide open everything was glowing a bright cherry red, and there was plenty of heat. I had originally thought that I would be able to lighten up my winter gear with the addition of a stove, but my night out proved that my thinking was flawed. The stove only burned for about 1 1/2 hours before it needed to be stoked again-not conductive to a long nights sleep. If you lighten up you will will be waking up every couple of hours to stoke the stove. I will be making my next stove with a bigger firebox for longer burn times, but not so I can lighten up. After talking with some folks who use this type of setup I have rethought how I look at this rig. Instead of lighter winter gear, I will still bring my normal gear. I can get changed, read, cook, get out of the weather, relax, and get to sleep in comfort and warmth. Because I brought my usual gear, after the fire goes out I will still sleep through the night, and in the morning when I wake up way too early on those long winter nights, I will once again have the warmth of a fire to thaw my boots, get changed, eat breakfast, and otherwise pack up in comfort.

I look forward to getting out and using this rig in the field, and will be sure to get a trip report/gear review out asap.