Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's been a slow week..

I suppose I was a little more banged up than I first suspected come Sunday evening.  O well, it's not like I had anything important to do this week (pretty standard, come to think of it..).  With a free schedule, however, I WAS able make it to the beach on Monday for some hours.  It was a beautiful day at Popham outside of the persistant breeze that deposited quite a bit of sand on my persons and in my jockey shorts.  But it was worth it.  Even with the wind it was a great day to pass out and get my tan back on the shores of the mighty yet tranquil Atlantic.

I love the beach.  Especially Popham.  When I think of the beach, I think of Popham.  That's my beach.  That's the long and the short of it.  This time I just drove to the main beach as I got a late start out of town and it was a Monday in the middle of September.  I suspected there wouldn't be too many people out...and that was more or less correct.  Still more people than I usually like to encounter at the beach (40-60ish, give or take a dog or kite or two) but there was still ample room.  Ya, you read that correctly.  I like to encounter (substantially..) less than 40 people when I go to the beach.  And more often that not I accomplish this by going to a sneaky little location on the backside of Popham (owned by my alma mater, actually) called the Morse Mountain conservation area.  A couple people know of this lovely spot, and the two mile or so walk in helps to keep all of the amateur beach-goers away.  Even on the busiest Saturday in July it seems only 25-30 people make their way out.  Which, to me, is awesome.  Just quiet relaxation next to the salt water.

I enjoy going here at all times of the year; it was my Sunday getaway spot during track seasons the past couple of years when I needed to unwind from the stresses of dealing with 50-60 student athletes on a daily basis.  It's close enough where during breaks I could sneak away for a morning and still make it back on campus in time for the afternoon practice session (Seriously, tell me you don't think this is awesome..just a book, a blanket and a thermos of coffee and life is good for awhile..).

Obviously I currently do not have these (or, to be honest...any) stressors, so Monday was a late morning and early afternoon of pure enjoyment.  Hell, I think I've earned it.

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to sleep until noon on Tuesday and then not set foot out of my house for the remainder of the day.  I don't know how enjoying going to the beach relates to not breathing fresh air the following day, but it seems to fit nicely.  Today I finally got around to cleaning out my car.  I had way too much shit in it as I needed some decent wears to circulate in the Burlington area, some super-fun wears to party out at- and post-show in MA, and also my camp/hike gear as it was suggested prior to my departure by the junior Mr. Gallagher that since I had nothing better to do I should at least get a day's hike in.  And hike I did..
Camping and hiking equipment became a fascination of mine this winter as I had a decent amount of disposable income that tends to accumulate when one lives at home and very little to do with it.  I had been on a day hike here and a day hike there over the past couple falls (I was hooked when Liam and I almost died in 50mph sustained winds and 70mph gusts with sideways rain and 30 degree temps on my first "real" hike up Washington in October of '07...awesome.  Really, Liam was the one who almost died.  I was prepared to leave him on the hill.  I'm a good friend.  Anyways once we got up neither of us had any money so we couldn't take the train down, but all the people who were on the train got a good laugh out of the  two stooges that decided to head all the way up in the atrocious weather.  HAH.  SO we walked down the auto-road and then cut back to the lot on a trail.  Ingenious, really.  We're smaaaht.  But that's not the real story..) so basically with each paycheck I got from November until February or March I'd pick up a couple of handy-dandy piece of equipment so when the spring and summer came around I could get walking.

And as the spring turned into summer and the summer into fall (of course..) I never actually made it outside for a hike.  Shocking development, I know.  But this was a good opportunity so I said to myself, "What the heck, let's wrassle."  On my drive west and north I saw many hills suitable for a good hike but one in particular caught my attention because it looked like two peaks on one hill (FYI.  I am no hiker/alpinist or anything super-duper; I just have a problem calling the eastern-6000ish-ft-or-less-rocks "mountains" when there are BIG ASS mountains in the west.  I walk up and down hills and I'm perfectly okay with that) and it was reasonably close to my return travel route.  Circa de Burlington I managed to find a map of the Long Trail and this hill happened to be on the Long Trail (with the name of Camel's Hump...two humps, get it?!) so I decided to hike some of the long trail.  Funny how things just work out, eh?

And the weather was absolutely stellar.  I had a good lather going, obviously because in the first fifteen minutes I completed more aerobic activity than I had in the previous three months combined, but the temps were mid 70's on down to about 45 for my sleep.  I had planned about a 10-11 mile round trip, but of course some interesting things happened which altered my seemingly fool-proof plans.
- First I was handcuffed a bit by time as needed to stop and purchase food and some polyester jockey shorts (Under Armour boxer briefs may be the best pair of underoo's I've ever worn in my joke.) and also needed to be in Littleton, MA the following afternoon to meet KathV's train and head to NMH and I had absolutely no idea how far I presently was from Littleton.
- Second breakfast and lunch slipped my mind so by about 3pm I was cooked.  That was about 10 minutes into my  Powerbars are tasty treats, though.  And I learned this dealing with cramps during fooseball and track workouts but if you start to cramp getting an assload of sodium into your system ASAP kicks the cramps (to quote Black Rob..) like whoa.  In college this would be accomplished with a big squirt of yellow mustard mixed with a little water and then washed down with some more water.  It sounds random and a little gross but I'm serious it works like a charm.  Obviously I didn't have mustard with me (I left my frankfurters in the car..) but a half-packet of Ramen noodle seasoning and a swish of water cured what ailed me.  Yes, I'm a smart boy.  Go ahead and write that trick down.
- Third I thought there was a great spot to camp out about .3miles from the top because the map said "hut clearing" but come to find out (when I was standing in the hut clearing..) you cannot overnight camp in the hut clearing.  I made it to said hut clearing a little after 6pm and it was getting rather dark so I had to skee-daddle up to the top, take a few quick photos and then hustle a couple miles down the other side to a tenting spot where I could lie for the night.  On my way down I also happened by the site of a WW-II bomber that crashed into the side of Camel's Hump on a training mission way back when.  I found it to be a bit creepy with darkness encroaching.
My late arrival time would have been no big deal since I had my headlamp with me which I've had since my flashlight head days on Nick's island...but it was dead.  Guess I should have checked that prior to walking.  O well.  I was still able to get a good dinner of Ramen in my belly (joined by a hungry field mouse.  I was hungry, too, so I did not share.  I told Nature Woman of this wildlife encounter but she was unimpressed.  Some people are just jerks like...HAH!) and my coffin-sized tent up without incident, then proceeded to snuggle up all cozy like and get some much needed shut eye.

AFTER ALL THAT, come wake up time on Friday I felt like absoulte dog shit because my planned easy 5-6 mile first day turned into about 8.5 on not enough food, finishing at quite a pace.  I had no interest in walking BACK UP to the top just to walk BACK DOWN so I stayed on the path I was on downward the previous night, hopped on a tote road for a couple few miles then got back on the road I was parked and walked a couple few miles back to my car.  This also helped my planned 10-11 turn into sixteen but I was no worse for wear.  As you've all already heard or read I was still able to get my party on sufficiently for the next couple of days, so a good time was had by all.

Come to find out, Camel's Hump is arguably the most famous of Vermont's peaks because of its recognizable shape, even though it is the third highest.  It's actually featured on the Vermont State quarter (This is just according to Wiki, I haven't located a Vermont quarter yet to verify..).  So, I've got that going for me, which is nice.  I see a complete Long Trail hike in my future, just who the hell knows when..

I'm sort of an amateur photographer so these were some of my choice moments:

I didn't get many from the top as I was in a little bit of a rush.  O well, there's always another time.  Cheers.

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