A summary of sorts, yada, yada yada.
Bringing 2018 (and most of the 2019 early winter season) to a close, I look back fondly at the new things I’ve tried, new skills and knowledge I’ve built and the accomplishments I’ve attained. It’s getting really close to my first Adirondack hike of the new season, so I thought it was time to summarize 2018 a little bit. And then finally I can start writing in real time and you can follow me along my adventures all year. Lucky you.
The hiking season mostly over after Whiteface, I turned my attention to learning everything I could to be better in 2019. I gathered a ton of gear: big ass winter boots that Lauren’s friend Shannon hilariously tried on and had her entire legs swallowed; hiking poles like the kind Jared and I thought were ridiculous but actually help so much; a portable stove to cook what I’m sure is going to be not-very-good dehydrated camp food; a survival kit which I used to start a fire on my back porch just to make sure I could; a tent built for Everest, a first aid kit, map & compass, layers to dress warm in, the list goes on and on. I’ll do a gear post one of these days to show off my stuff (I’ll also do a XXX post one day to show off my stuff, but you’ll have to pay extra for that.) and maybe review some of the items.
I learned the hard way that winter hiking is not the same whatsoever. My first attempt in the Lake Placid area was a complete fail. Before I even hit the trail head. Quick story time. On my way, sometime in November, to try my first Winter High Peak, I watched an SUV go right off the twisty, curvy road in to the ditch. Being 6am and the natural superhero I am, I pulled over to help the guy get it out. The whole situation involved cutting a couple of dead trees down to try to get traction under his wheels and both of us ridiculously trying to lift the vehicle’s stuck front end while a third person was behind the wheel trying to reverse out. Eventually a real man came along with a truck, a chain and just yanked it right out of there in about 4 seconds. After we spent an hour being the skinny, un-muscled folk that he and I both were. I didn’t even get his name. Because I don’t ever introduce myself. This has become a hilarious inside joke in my marriage. Lauren just knows now that if she doesn’t introduce me to people, I’d go an entire evening sitting with new people wondering who the hell I am and what I’m doing there. Either way, we got the SUV out of the ditch and we all went on our way. This is turning out to not be a quick story like I said it would be. I made it almost to the trail head after this. My plan was two mountains called Street & Nye. Where this trail begins requires a drive up a long road to the parking lot – an uphill road my fuckin awesome Hyundai Elantra simply would not climb with all the ice that had built up. Already having lost an hour with SUV-man, I lost nearly another hour trying to push my car to it’s limits up the hill, but it just wasn’t happening. By this point, I’d lost too much daylight to safely make it up the mountains and descend back before dark. So after a 2.5 hour drive, I got back on the highway and came home. No peaks, no real adventure, but maybe a few karma points to stash away for another day I may need them.
Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted to attempt a winter walk from Ingleside to Cornwall through the Long Sault Parkway. I dunno where the idea came from. But with all the new gear, I figured it was best to test it all out somewhere that wasn’t hours from home and was a more safe and controlled environment. So I loaded up, packing as if it was a real mountain hike and got my parents to drop me at the entrance to the Parkway in Ingleside. I didn’t actually even know how many kilometers the walk would be, how many hours it would take, but I had a vague idea. I work in Ingleside and it takes me about 18 minutes to drive from my front door to work, covering about 20KMs. So, it had to be about that distance, maybe a bit more for the Parkway addition. It was about -15 outside, perfect weather to actually test the winter boots, gloves, clothing layers, etc., to see what works in those conditions and what doesn’t. I was super excited to take some photos along the way. And then my camera died. With no extra batteries packed to cut weight, I only got about a dozen photos. Idiot!! All in all, the trek took 6 hours & 2 minutes and covered 22KMs. All of my gear performed like it should, with the exception of the gloves I was using. They were supposed to be rated for -25 temperatures, but my fingers were colder than a polar bear’s toenail (Outkast!). I guess that’s the point of a gear shakedown-type hike – figure out what works and what doesn’t. I was pooped by the time I reached my front door, but I felt good. And then I slept like a champion for about ten hours!
With winter moving slow as molasses (unless your molasses is quicker than mine. But I doubt it…), I needed to find another outdoor activity to pass the time. It was finally time to do something I had been intending to do for a few years: Ice fishing with my bro-in-law Ian. He’s a fishing champion and loves being outside. I waited until 2019 struck so I could get a whole year out of the new fishing license I’d bought. Never in my life did I think I would have a fishing license. But alas, it was time, We strapped on some snowshoes and hit up Hoople Creek where his shack is. I know regular people do these things all the time, but it was super trippy walking on the ice way out, so far away from the highway we left behind. Maybe Jesus walked on ice and it’s gotten lost in translation over a couple thousand years? Or maybe I should try walking on water to prove my omnipotence? I probably could, I just don’t want to right now. Out of two ice fishing trips, I caught one tiny ass perch. That’s it. But, it was such a great experience. The shack was warm and cozy, the little wood stove made some perfect hotdogs and the company couldn’t be any better. All my photos of Ian turned out blurry. And there were no fish worthy of being photographed. But all in all, I had a blast. Already I’m thinking about setting up a tent next winter on the ice and spending a night. Just to see how scared-like-a-little-girl I can make myself.
Looking back is almost at an end. The whole time through the seasons, I wondered if I’d ever get this blog up and going. I actually wondered if I’d bail on hiking and doing Joe Wilderness stuff. But the more I tried, the more I was happy to get off the couch and out the door. I didn’t exactly work out through the winter as much as I’d liked. We’ll see how that affects me in the upcoming mountain adventures. But enough looking back. Time to get 2019 it’s own adventures and look ahead….
Now, who gon’ stop me huh? – Jay z