View Full Version : I'm a hikin' Fool

Phil Heffernan
06-10-2006, 11:23 PM
Spent an incredible day hiking 20 miles in the Shawangunk Mts., from Sam's Point to the Mohonk Mtn. House along the magnificent ridge line.


The day started at 6:30, on the ridgeline by 8am with dear friend and bulldog, Richard...He can't plan an easy first hike of the season, NO, it has to be a true test of endurance, but that's OK with me, I actually quit smoking 2 weeks ago to be ready for this hike...It gave me a great reason to 'pick a day' and stick with it...


The day started out rainy, but soon turned sunny, with 30-40 knot winds blowing along the ridgetops and huckleberry bogs, nearly blew our friend Aaron of a cliff :eek: , but he was feelin' Lucky ;)

Marched to the most incredible falls, a 300 ft. drop that you could watch only on your stomach, peering over the ledge...


So anyway, I was thrilled by the strength & stamina I felt, once I got into the rhythym...This ridge was 5 miles away, but it felt like it was just around the corner:



So I realized today, how much I like to WALK, especially when the altitude makes me feel like a bird ;)

I love to sail, it's about a lot of the same things, namely being in tune with the natural world in a very immediate way...But the actual PHYSICAL demand that a great hike puts on your body, is something very special...

I met a dinosaur:


And then, 11 hours later, we came to the end of the trail:


My heart was pounding, every joint in my legs & feet were complaining, but once again, the trail served me up a big dose of real life-DELUXE...

I feel like one strong MF...



Paul Girouard
06-10-2006, 11:33 PM
Glad you did all that training :rolleyes: Two week's no smoke's:) good on ya :) , keep it up . Just think how much better you'll feel in a year once the crap really is out of your body.

Hey, eat a banana the potasum hit might help stave off a leg cramp tonight .

Tell us tomorrow how strong ya feel when the roll out of bed, MTL all you'll be able to do, roll out that is ;)


06-10-2006, 11:38 PM
I found it very easy to quit smoking,I've done it 2 or 3 times so far.

06-10-2006, 11:42 PM
I used to do some rock climbing there about 25 years ago. Very neat place.


Phil Heffernan
06-10-2006, 11:47 PM
I found it very easy to quit smoking,I've done it 2 or 3 times so far.

Alright, here's the deal on Smoking...

I too have quit several times. And then un-quit, with a puff or two, and then two thousand.

Now I see it differently. A cigarette is irrelevant to the main issue: A stubborn addiction to nicotine, for which the flaming stick is just a drug delivery device.

Wish me luck, boy-o's, but I think I got it figured out this time. But I don't want opinions on this, because it's MY struggle.

The thread, though, is about the incredible rush from physical exertion in the quest for nature in our lives. It's beyond almost any other experience, IMO...


06-11-2006, 01:13 AM
"I met a dinosaur":

You met Fleming!!!!????? ;)

06-11-2006, 05:36 AM
For twelve years I lived close to the Appalacians where they ran through MA. Right out my door for much of it, but never more than a twenty minute drive to a trail head.

There was a small mountain, an overlook on the eastern edge, that was right out my door. The vista was North. Climbing up there, having a look around on a clear day, was a joy. You could see Monadnock, and Mt. Grace, and a bunch of other peaks of the eastern foothills leading into the Greens, away off there in Vermont.

Nice pics, Phil!

I miss that landscape, full of hills and waterfalls. And...

"To quit smoking is the easiest thing I've ever done, I've done it a hundred times."


06-11-2006, 05:56 AM
Great pics, thanks. I bet it was awesome to actually be at those places looking out and over. Photographs can never do justice to high places. They just can't capture the scale and grandeur of what is before the eye. I miss the Alberta rockies. Mostly I miss being above the tree line scrambling up huge slabs of bare rock ten thousand feet above sea level. The trailheads start at roughly a mile elevation so it really wasn't all that much work to get above the trees. My knees won't let me do that sort of thing anymore. I can get up the hills but it's murder on the joints coming down.

06-11-2006, 06:19 AM
I watched a PBS show on hiking the Appalacian Trail the other night. It got me hankering for a walkabout. It's been awhile since I shouldered a pack and walked off into the woods. What a great feeling, the world abounding, all you need for a week on your shoulders.

The last time I did that was too long ago. I hiked a southern section of the Long Trail, the oldest trail of it's kind in the US, contiguous with the AT for much of its length. Up and down the southern Greens. All alone. I'd just fallen in love, and I needed some time to contemplate. Hiked North, hitched South back to my car. Great, simple, fun.

A book that had me roaring with laughter, all about hiking, was Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods." If you haven't read it, I can't recommend it highly enough.

06-11-2006, 06:59 AM
Good on yer, Phil! I've always enjoyed hiking, especially in high, rugged places. With any luck, and my recovering health permitting, in three weeks I shall be hiking here:

and here:

and here:

...all photos of the East Coast Trail on the Avalon Penninsula in eastern Newfoundland.

Joe (SoCal)
06-11-2006, 07:24 AM
WOW Phil thats totally amazing. The photos make it look so cool I'M proud of ya buddy in all regards ;)

nancy phelps
06-11-2006, 08:51 AM
Hey Phil,
Thanks for the posting of our hike yesterday and for putting up with my pace that became slower and slower! I feel pretty good today, have some blisters though, and my toe nails are all red. I think I bruised the skin under them! Ready for that next one! -Aaron

06-11-2006, 08:57 AM
nice pics Phil! 20 miles is a good hike.
I am heading down there today to bike ride.

06-11-2006, 09:20 AM
At this point I'm thinking about buying a small electric scooter to ride from the parking lot to work and back to the truck after work.I cant imagine hiking like you guys are talking about,but it does loo like it would be fun if I was younger and didnt have bad legs,back,feet,

George Roberts
06-11-2006, 09:30 AM
Phil Heffernan ---

Hiking is good for you.

1/2 day (20-22 miles - 7 hours) is about all I can do on a regular basis.

06-11-2006, 09:41 AM
What would I do with my cigarette butts while hiking?

06-11-2006, 09:59 AM
Carry them out!

George Jung
06-11-2006, 10:01 AM
or swallow them; fiber, ya know...

06-11-2006, 10:07 AM

Phil Heffernan
06-11-2006, 11:36 AM
Hey Phil,
Thanks for the posting of our hike yesterday and for putting up with my pace that became slower and slower! I feel pretty good today, have some blisters though, and my toe nails are all red. I think I bruised the skin under them! Ready for that next one! -Aaron

Aaron, glad you and Richard recovered nicely:D I think your boots may be either too wide or too short, if your toes took a pounding...
A pleasure having you along..

So anyway, synchronicity and all, the day before, I took an unplanned detour through Garrison to do an errand. At the intersection of where the Appalachian Trail intersects Rte 9, there are 2 fellows with backpacks hitching by the roadside...

I stop to pick em up, and they are headed to Peekskill, so I offer to give em a lift...

Turns out they're both hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The younger fellow (23) started in February, the older (59) started in March, and they met up a few days ago...

Never actually met folks in the process of doing the trail, or even having DONE it...

I have this real desire to make the trip. Have for several years. To actually WALK the N-S length of the USA seems so cool...

I'd finish tough as nails, and blissed out from so much meditation...
Or a raving lunatic :eek:

Has anyone ever done it, or a big chunk of it? How tough IS it?


PS I read the Byson book, it was wonderful, that's what got me interested in it...

06-11-2006, 12:12 PM

I've hiked sections of the AT in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It's rugged. I've also done a fair amount of hiking out in the West, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and the hikes I did out there were easier. The mountains are bigger with all the potential problems that can bring, but the trails are easier walking.

For some reason the builders of the AT didn't(don't) seem to have heard of the switchback. Very steep going in places, in places literally rock climbing, though they usually have placed big iron staples to make a ladder in those places. Don't try them with a fifty pound pack on your back. Haul the pack up with a line. And the weather on the tops of the taller peaks can be rotten. And did I mention the bugs? LOL. It sure is pretty, though.

The only time I was chased out of the woods by bugs was in the Mahoosics on the Maine New Hampshire border. I think part of that walk was on the AT, but I'm not sure. We hit the blackfly hatch with perfect timing. I remember distinctly the turning point. We'd pitched a tent in the middle of the day just to escape, were lying there, exhausted, listening to what sounded like a steady rain on the canopy, but what actually was those ravening little blood suckers trying to get at us. We looked at each other and didn't have to say a word. Neither of us wanted to be the one to woos out, but we both knew we had to get the hell out of there while we still had some blood flowing inside our skins!

As I understand it the blackflys are only bad for a short time, their hatch timed to when the late spring early summer freshets are full and the mountain weather gets predictably warm. So, timing! Deirdre and I had bad timing. LOL. Sorta like our marraige, but that's another topic. FWIW that walk was over the Fourth of July. By mid late July their populations are typically way down.

Jeez, a backpack sounds awful good. I dug out my old Kelty and Svea 123 a little while ago. All I need is a tent, a good matress, and a different set of boots.

Paul Pless
06-11-2006, 01:30 PM
Has anyone ever done it, or a big chunk of it? How tough IS it?

One of my college roommates, has done it complete three times. We've remained good friends, if you like I can get you in touch with him - just let me know. He's quite the character, a licensed architect that lays tile instead of drawing houses, he's a hippie vegetarian, and also one of the few people that I have to physically look up to, I'm 6'4" by the way.

Phil Heffernan
06-11-2006, 01:42 PM
Ya, I think the old weekend campout is a good place to start...Time to get my daughter used to the idea of sleeping outdoors...

Oh by the way, I ended up on 'trailjournals.com', and found the journal of 'Mango', the guy I met just off the trail on Friday:


He's filling me in on all the details as he goes! Plus, a ton of other entries from years past...Cool:cool:

06-11-2006, 01:48 PM
As I look out my window I can see our portion of the AP trail here in Tenn.Its very rugged country up there,not a place for newbies to learn the art of hiking.People get killed in this part of the Mtns every year due to not understanding what their getting into.They go up there unprepared thinking they know what their doing,get in trouble and rescue has to go up there and get them.My suggestion is to start simpler,and work your way up to the Ap trail after you gain some experience.

Tar Devil
06-11-2006, 01:50 PM
Fantastic photos, Phil.

I gotta get back in shape. Too much of this stuff to miss...


06-11-2006, 02:24 PM
In college we were on semesters, and January was open. My first introduction to backpacking was what was called the Denison Challenge, one of the J term courses. It was run in Big Bend National Park, Texas. We were encouraged to do something different in January, and I picked that wilderness trip. I went first as a student, second as an instructor.

Walking off into the wilderness in a group of people is a pip I'd recommend to anyone. All the difficulties of humans come to the surface, you learn a lot about coping, with others and yourself. You also get a taste of how good you are.

And fit! I don't think I've ever been more fit.

nancy phelps
06-11-2006, 04:43 PM
phil baby: felt great this morning. what a hike. did the 9 mile bike ride at Steward park with SPARC this morning with Nancy and Phoebe. Shortly thereafter...my legs became solidified! had to take a nap on the couch for revival! thanks for making the trip complete. aaron made it down to the dock this morning with his coffee cup so i guess he survived. the water is so clear and green from the reflections. rlp

Phil Heffernan
06-11-2006, 07:41 PM
Everybody, just to introduce my good buddy RLP, a brilliant stone artist who builds 17th century stone houses with just his Back & his Brain...

And cooks up great hikes in the Gunks, where he lives...Fun having you on the forum , Richard, the first post is free ;)

"Tar Devil:Fantastic photos, Phil.

I gotta get back in shape. Too much of this stuff to miss...


Ain't that the freekin truth, Phil?

It'll break my heart not to be able to get out there, so now is sort of the time to use it or lose it...I went out hiking again today, but coming down, I really felt my right leg...

Getting and staying in shape is what my generation seems to be interested in (Boomers)...as we advance in the chronology department...

Never say die, GD it!


06-11-2006, 09:33 PM
Yall are making my feet hurt talking about all this walking LOL

06-11-2006, 11:52 PM
Walking off into the wilderness in a group of people is a pip I'd recommend to anyone. All the difficulties of humans come to the surface, you learn a lot about coping, with others and yourself.

sounds like a trip on a boat.

06-11-2006, 11:55 PM
We keep telling people here that if they get lost ,,keep going down hill ,,you'll run into a creek somewhere,then follow the creek ,it'l take you out of the mtns.They cant get that concept.

06-12-2006, 12:19 AM

It's difficult to describe. It was all white, a middle class college. We walked, and walked some more. Water was always an issue, because we were walking in desert. A tinaha, a water hole, elicited a pause. Hm, water, let's boil it and put it in our bags.

One of my favorite remembrancers is a spring in the desert we walked to by compass and map. There it was! water flowing out of the desert earth. Water! We all got as naked as our provenance allowed, and jounced around in what was a stream in the desert. Water.

George Roberts
06-12-2006, 09:09 AM
Phil Heffernan ---

" Has anyone ever done it, or a big chunk of it? How tough IS it?"

The trip is as hard as you want to make it.

10 pounds of gear and 15 pounds of food on your back makes for a much faster easier trip than taking 50 pounds. 25-30 miles a day gets the trip done faster than 10-15.

Solo is physically easier.