On Top of the World

Coldest day of winter (so far)? No problem! 7.6 miles at  Stokes/High Point State Forest .

Coldest day of winter (so far)? No problem! 7.6 miles at Stokes/High Point State Forest.

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As the old year closes and the new begins, we often talk about goals and resolutions. I have my own set of personal achievements to strive towards this year, but I think now would be a good time to write about my mushing goals.

Every season, I set a goal at around 150 total miles. We generally start running in October, and continue up until late March, weather permitting. This gives us six solid months to accrue distance. If we’re lucky, we get a head start in late September, and run into April. Either way, 150 miles is a pretty attainable goal.

As of January 1st, 2015, we have around 83 miles in the books. Dexter is behind with only about 70 miles, since I didn’t run him in our first race and he’s had a minor paw pad injury this past week. I’m not too sure about his future in mushing, since the pups have definitely hit their peak and run much faster than he does now. I don’t want to force him to run, but I’d hate to leave him behind. We’ll see how he does after a week of rest. Hopefully we’ll see some snow this season, which he does run better in.

I’ve got a few other mushing related goals I’d like to accomplish, for this year and the future:

  • Purchase an Arctis Cart (slated for Summer of this year)
  • Dryland mushing roadtrip 
  • Stay in a cabin with mushing trails in the vicinity
  • Overnight mushing trip (mush to a spot, pitch a tent, then mush back the following day)

If anyone has any suggestions for those last there, please let me know! They’re not really activities I’ll be able to do around New Jersey, so any advice is appreciated.

Have a happy 2015!

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you – beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. 

― Edward Abbey

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In the Pines

We had our first real run in the pines this past weekend. Slow but steady 3.8 miles at Mt. Misery (charming name, eh?) in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.

I was hoping for colder temperatures, but it hovered around 47 degrees which meant lots of breaks. The dogs did well despite the temperature. I think they were just happy to be running those sandy trails again.

We’re heading back there this weekend to camp and mush. Can’t wait!

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We woke up well before the sun to train at Six Mile Run. I wanted to be on the trail at sunrise, in hopes of beating all the mountain bikers and people free running their dogs.

When I rolled up, there were no other cars in the parking lot. I started unloading the dog cart when a truck towing a horse trailer pulled in. “Ok, we’ll have to avoid someone on horseback, no big deal.”

And then about a dozen more trucks with horse trailers drove in. As it turns out, they were holding a competitive trail ride throughout Six Mile Run that morning. Just my luck.

I was just about ready to drop the dogs when I decided running this trail wasn’t going to happen. Frustrated, I repacked the dog cart and drove to another trail head. There were signs and markers warning about the horse race there, too, but I decided to give it a shot.

The dogs ran beautifully and it was a perfect, crisp morning. I was still disappointed we couldn’t run the longer trail, and I could tell the dogs still had plenty of gas in their tanks by the end of the trip. I was tempted to do the trail twice, but I figured the horses would be approaching and didn’t want to take any chances.

It’s only the start of our season, though, and we’ll get plenty more chances to run.

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These photos are from our hike around New Hampshire’s White Mountains. This was the Middle Sugarloaf trail, right around the corner from our campsite. We weren’t too sure which trail would offer the best views, but I think we nailed it.

It was a short but steep hike, and we encountered so many active older ladies on the trail. It was pretty inspiring to see seniors kicking that mountain’s ass. 

More photos to come. I certainly can’t choose just ten favorites from the weekend’s adventure.

Or if you’re anxious, the full album is on Flickr.

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Stairway to Heaven

We finally hiked the “Stairway to Heaven” section of the Appalachian Trail, from Pochuck Valley to Pinwheel Vista and back. This was definitely one of the most versatile hikes I’ve been on. 

The trail starts out on a mile of boardwalk over marshes and through fields of wildflowers. You eventually make your way through a forest, then back out over train tracks and through a cow pasture. The last mile or so is a steep incline up to the Pinwheel Vista viewpoint.

The hike is a solid 7.4 miles from the entrance point on 517, to the viewpoint, and back. Most of it is easy, though – except for that last “stairway” up to the top. Definitely worth checking out!

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"To Take the trail and not look back..."

The physical domain of the country had its counterpart in me. The trails I made led outward into the hills and swamps, but they led inward also. And from the study of things underfoot, and from reading and thinking, came a kind of exploration, myself and the land. In time the two became one in my mind. With the gathering force of an essential thing realizing itself out of early ground, I faced in myself a passionate and tenacious longing – to put away thought forever, and all the trouble it brings, all but the nearest desire, direct and searching. To take the trail and not look back. Whether on foot, on snowshoes or by sled, into the summer hills and their late freezing shadows – a high blaze, a runner track in the snow would show where I had gone. Let the rest of mankind find me if it could.

John Haines,

The Stars, The Snow, The Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Northern Wilderness

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