Archive for Hiking

The Cycle of Seasons and My Life

Posted in Reflections with tags , , , on December 18, 2013 by Verge

Half a year.  What a difference.  We end Summer in anticipation of harvest.  It’s time to relax, time to enjoy what we have, time to enjoy family and friends.  Because others don’t have nearly the life we get to enjoy.  Others don’t even get to laugh, to smile, to be together.  Often, we take it for granted.


And Autumn sets in.   It’s odd we have such a reverence for the beauty of dying.  But we all know things end.  Leaves fall.  Life dies.  We learn to relish the beauty of inevitable end.

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As things get colder, things sometimes seem stranger.  Unusual and unexpected things can happen in the dark.  Things you never even knew were possible.  And sometimes they can scare the shit out of you.  It’s odd that I’m afraid of the dark.  Always have been.  Ever since I can remember.  And even more ironic that I now work in a pitch black dark room for a living, alone, isolated with my thoughts of what might take hold of me.

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sometimes it can really freak me out.  I know the movies I watched when I was younger were just entertainment.  All fun and games, right?   It’s not really happening.  But for some reason, I took things too seriously.  I believed those things might happen.   Something or someone might grab my ankle as I lay in bed one night.  And that would absolutely give me an immediate heart attack.

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So I try to remind myself it’s all an act, it’s all for entertainment.  People get hurt, but at the end of the story, everyone gets up unfazed.   Everything is still fine.  No one really gets hurt.  And we get to do it all over again next weekend.  Next movie in my life.

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The end of Autumn comes and permanent changes set it.  The cold inevitably arises.  But there are always traditions that make us all feel warm.   Like a family.  That always makes loneliness feel fleeting.  We’re all together…and happy.  So nothing could harm us anymore.  So, together, we look forward to the holidays, the new year, and amazing memories that have yet to be made with each other.

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And things are warm.  But winter storms arrive.   Things shut down.  We end up stuck at home, isolated from the world.  We don’t even want to go out into the frozen world outside.  It’s just easier to stay in bed all day.  Alone, in the dark.   That’s where it’s safe.   We can ignore the outside world, the reality of bad weather.

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But I don’t ever believe that Spring isn’t coming.  It will always be warm again.  Storms come and go, but the seasons never end.  You can’t turn back time.  There are no U-turns.   Instead, you move ahead, convinced that Winter will only last so long, that things will be brought back to life and are only temporarily frozen.   More memories will be made.  More pictures will be taken.  More blogs will be written (cause that’s what makes me feel normal).  More good times to remember together.  I have to convince myself that we should never be afraid of the dark.  I have faith that there will always be light after darkness.  Such brightness.


Christmas Day 2012 Hike with Friends

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Hiking and Camping with tags , , on April 8, 2013 by Verge
We went exploring on Christmas Day, after opening some gifts we had gotten each other.  Two of my favorite local abandoned places.

We went exploring on Christmas Day, after opening some gifts we had gotten each other. Two of my favorite local abandoned places.

This is inside one of the abandoned trains down at Winslow Junction.  Since I've been coming here, the amount of cars has slowly gone down, I assume because they are being scrapped.  there was once at least a hundred cars, but now there's maybe a dozen.

This is inside one of the abandoned trains down at Winslow Junction. Since I’ve been coming here, the amount of cars has slowly gone down, I assume because they are being scrapped. there was once at least a hundred cars, but now there’s maybe a dozen.


Monika, Ehsan and Sam, who had “found” herself a hell of a walking stick.

And, the inside of the other abandoned location, a former recycling plant.  It used to be filled with garbage 25 feet high, but it's now cleared out, so something is happening there, although I have no idea what yet.  We had to cleverly gain access.

And, the inside of the other abandoned location, a former recycling plant. It used to be filled with garbage 25 feet high, but it’s now cleared out, so something is happening there, although I have no idea what yet. We had to cleverly gain access.

You can see all four of my hiking companions in this photo.  Looks like it should be the cover of an album, in my opinion.  Christmas Day with friends, hiking.  Nothing I wanted to do more.

You can see all four of my hiking companions in this photo. Looks like it should be the cover of an album, in my opinion. Christmas Day with friends, hiking. Nothing I wanted to do more.

Sam’s Visit and Mullica Hill Backpacking

Posted in Friends and Family, Good Times, Hiking and Camping, Vacations with tags , , on April 24, 2012 by Verge

Sam came into town to spend some time with friends for her birthday.

she brought us presents as well!

Monika got cat decals for the walls to go with the robots we already had.

I got a mixed sixer of all Ohio craft beers.  We enjoyed them throughout the week with each other.

To kick off the week of festivities, we decided to go on the backpacking trip through Wharton State Forrest I’ve been trying to make for a few years now.  It starts at Atsion Lake, and ends in Batsto.  After posting the excursion on Facebook, it was down to only four of us:  Monika, Sam, Jimmy and I.

After dropping the one car off at Batsto, paying our fees, and being firmly reminded several times there was no camp fires and no alcohol in the park, we headed to Atsion. We set off with nearly two liters of Maker's Mark and enough matches to burn down the whole forest!

This is a walking shot of the Mullica River. Now, it's used for kayaking and that's about it, but back in the day, if was a very important waterway for trade. It was used by many local mills and glass factories, and served to connect Atsion to Batsto.

Finding good walking sticks was a pretty high priority. The trail was blazed kind of poorly, and at one point we were lost for a few miles. Not too big of a deal, though. I had my phone and a decent GPS signal, so we found the site no problem.

The first leg to the campsite was 6 miles.  Once we got there, it was down to tent building and what not, so I don’t really have any pictures.  We were the only ones staying for the night, which is just the way I like it.  The site had a few  out houses, or privy pits, that were surprisingly clean, but none of us needed to use them anyway.  It also had well water, and I filled my base station with fresh drinking water for all of us for the night.

I had bought Sam a brand new backpack and sleeping bag for her birthday, so once all that stuff was set up, I worked on getting a tarp set up over our tents.  It had stalled raining until just after I was finished setting everything up.  And, thank god I did, and did well.

Oddly enough, even though there was not supposed to be any camp fires, next to the obviously well used central camp site fire pit was a stack of freshly chopped wood for us to burn.  It was definitely left for campers because there’s no way to get that wood back to the site, and there was literally no wood around the sites to break up or hatchet up.  It had all been used up over the years, so it must have been driven in.  As we sat by the fire, sipping whiskey, it began to rain.  We had our emergency ponchos, and we were able to hold out past midnight.

Overnight, the rain and wind picked up considerably, and ended up raining out Jimmy’s tent, he had it a little rough.  Ours faired better.  It was fine, didn’t leak, and we all made it through the night unfazed.  Next morning we had some breakfast over a small fire.  it had dried up fairly well, so our packs were’t too weighed down with water.  We set off pretty early for Batsto Village.

another 6 miles, some with Sam in bare feet, wading across a shallow Mullica river when we discovered the bridge washed out.

It was a great success.  The easy, flat-ground hiking was evened out with the difficult night.  It was well worth the 3 dollars a piece it costs us.

The rest of the week, Sam bounced around to see friends and her family. One night, we got custom mustaches at Jack's Twin Bar.

it was dark, and late, and I didn't stay for very long because I had to work in the morning, but I'm told they had a great time.

It was the last chance to see Sam before she went home to Ohio, so there were a ton friends that Monika and I hadn't seen in a while.

The day before Easter Sunday, we had a huge breakfast outside on my patio in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day. In fact, so beautiful that Sam couldn't get herself on the road, and she stayed another night.

Always good times...

Appalachian Backpacking Trip

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags on September 12, 2011 by Verge

We’ve wanted to go on an overnight backpacking trip for over a year and a half.  Last year, we had one planned and booked.  Overnight with some friends from Atsion to Batsto out in Wharton State Forest.

The, just a few days before hand, Kreg’s shop caught fire, and we bailed on the whole trip  because he had to take care of his business and I didn’t want to go without him.  This year, I renewed the idea, but Cory had bigger plans for us.  We headed a little further north for a Delaware Water Gap to High Point State Park Appalachian Trail adventure.

Kat and Erica couldn't go, so Kreg, Monika and I stopped by Cory's hosue in the morning to get on the road with our two Elements and 4 backpacks.

headed two hours north on mostly back roads. Not a bad drive at all. We were headed to a rest stop to meet Matt and Gisela.

Cory, Matt and I took two cars to the end of the trail 35 miles north to leave a drop car for the end. This was a one way hike. Meanwhile, Gisela, Kreg and Monika waited for us and did shots of whiskey!

after a short diversion down a trail that wasn't the correct one (see map), we found the trail head and ventured in and up.

We had what we all thought was a reasonable amount of provisions and a reasonable pack weight. Nevertheless, we were unprepared for the ruggedness and steepness of this portion of the trail. We weren't really sure what exactly to expect. We knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but just how bad could it be?

This is the first real break we took, at Sunfish Pond. That's about 5 miles up the trail, although we had to hike 6 to get there thanks to our little diversion.

This is a great shot. It shows the terrain that we had to navigate for probably 80% of the two day hike. Most of the time it was large, sharp rocks that simply could not be quickly traversed. You had to keep your head in the game the entire time or risk twisting an ankle (which Kreg did).

there were some great shots when we had the opportunity to stop and actually look around. But the trail was more difficult than we all expected, and we were traveling at a much slower than needed pace. It was at this point that Gisela and Matt decided they would set up camp and hike back in the morning. It was too difficult and they were worried the two day trip would turn into three. We helped them set up camp and went onward without them, determined to conquer the trail.

For the first 6 miles there were plenty of other people. Some were backpacking, but a lot of them were just day hikers. Here, we ran into a goup of others atop one of the nicer summits. As we hiked further away from the starting point, we saw less and less people. Sometimes we would walk 5 or 6 miles and not see a single person.

This is still day one. We managed to pick up the pace and make up some lost ground, but it was going to be near impossible to reach the 15 mile mark we needed to hit for day one.

i still got a hug once in a while even though we were all covered in sweat and dust at this point.

occasionally, the hike got very challenging. In addition to parts like this where you had to slowly navigate large boulders, there were also some absolutely grueling uphill climbs that just kicked your ass. And, there was even a straight up 30 foot wall that we had to climb. Would have been fun on a normal day. But, hiking 10 miles, and then doing it with 35 pounds on your back is a very different story.

there's no way you can carry enough water with you on a hike like this. Instead, we filled our water bottles from streams and ponds. Whenever we found water, we all topped off our bottles after running it through this filter.

Eventually, at almost 12 miles, we had to find a site to set up camp. It was getting too dark to be able to navigate, and we still needed time to set up our tents. We found a decent spot with enough space for three tents and not too many rocks.

After setting up camp we had some dinner.  Monika and I had packed a bunch of TVP which is super light weight and very filling because it expands in your stomach. Great lean protein source.  Also, we had some obligatory trail mix, and  some sandwiches.

We followed up dinner with some well-deserved Maker’s Mark and a few cigars.  Packed up all our food and hung it in the trees away from our camp and eventually went to sleep.  We slept reasonably well (as good as usual for me, which is not very good at all, but normal) and we slept for a long time.

This is our first day’s trek.  We started at the bottom left and walked northwest.

We packed up our camp and were back on the trail by 9 after some breakfast. We weren't exactly sure how far we had to go since we could only estimate the distance as the crow flies. We a lot.

Nevertheless, we were all still determined. We tried to keep a steady pace despite Monika's blisters and Kreg's swollen ankle. When we came across a well pump, we broke for lunch.

around this time, we had hiked about 13 miles over very rough terrain. We were tired, our arms were sore as were our weathered feet, and we were burning 600 calories an hour, and only consuming maybe 150. And...we still had 7 miles to go.

we had to bail on a side trip to Buttermilk falls because it was 2 miles off the trail. We just didn't have the time to get there and back and actually swim, which would have felt amazing. So, there's always next time, I guess.

Monika started to break down the last half mile because here blisters had begun to pop inside her shoes, which is very painful. Cory lent a walking stick and I my shoulder to get us all out of there, but we made it. Almost 21 miles. 10 1/2 hours of hiking. This sign was where we ended. It points towards Space Farms, a place I remember from my childhood. I grew up 10 minutes from where we ended up.

This is the day 2 hike…almost:

about a mile and a half from the end, my phone was dangerously low on power, so I saved the map so I wouldn’t risk losing all the data.  But, it made it all the way to the end.

Here is the last little bit:

We had to drive back to the start to get the other cars, and we were pretty beat up by this point.  Monika could barely walk, and all our shoulders were just spent.  Didn’t stop us from going to the nearest bar and having a celebration round before heading home to a nice shower.  We’d do it again, but maybe take on a little less.  I loved the challenge, but we missed out on some relaxation time and it would have been nice to take it a little slower.  Good times, none the less, and we were all really proud of what we accomplished.


Check out all the pix over here on Facebook.

Cape May Continued…Cape May Lighthouse

Posted in Daily Pictures, Vacations with tags , , on August 9, 2011 by Verge

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Manchester Bridge Rock Climb

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , , on July 26, 2011 by Verge

Saturday night, my band, the Dirty Robots, played a show at the Indian Chief Tavern in Medford.  It was remarkably unspectacular, and I was actually planning on sleeping in until noon when I finally got home at nearly 3 am.

Nevertheless, and bursting with ambition, and after only 3 or so hours of sleep a piece, Monika woke me up at 6:30, demanded I get dressed in the clothes she had already picked out for me, get in the car and go to our friend Cory and Erica’s place.  In a completely un-prepared manner, and in a spontaneous moment, we were headed to Richmond, Virginia to hang out here.

This is the main wall of an old train trellis bridge.

the entire bridge is basically in ruins and has fallen into the river and along the banks.

but, someone got permission to put climbing hooks all over the walls and old standards so people could climb here.

this is looking in the other direction. Richmond is on the other bank. I'm standing under the newer car bridge, and you can see the old, abandoned one over on the left.

there, that's a better shot.

the main wall again, from the entrance to the climbing area. There is a lookout at the top of the wall that looks out over the valley. probably about 40 feet tall or so.

later, we went to try and climb one of the standards, which has slanted walls, but is still pretty difficult to climb. That girl on top was the lead climber, and she was awesome. There wasn't anything she couldn't do.

did I mention how hot it was. All of us were drenched in sweat, even those of us who didn't climb at all. Just standing made you sweat. The top of this standard, I was told, burned your hands and radiate like an oven. I wouldn't know, though.

it was pretty dry and I guess there was a drought. the river bed was exposed and you could walk all the way across the river if you were careful and found a good path.

this is about a third of the way across. we didn't go all the way, but it was damn cool anyway. we wanted to cool off in the water but it looked and smelled kinda nasty.

We had a hell of a road trip with Cory and Erica, and met some really cool people.

Afterwards, even though we were tired, and I was completely soaked, we headed to the local brewpub, a place called Legends!  I had a golden IPA, of course, but it wasn’t hoppy enough for me, but tasty nonetheless.  Then I found their Belgian Quad, which of course was the highest alcohol content on their menu.  That was indeed very tasty.

Since we left in hast that morning, my phone was not charged, and by this point, was dead.  I would have liked to grab a few more pictures, but alas, you’ll have to trust me that it was a beautiful view across the river of downtown Richmond from the back deck of Legends.

I’m not a very experienced climber at all, but a day like this one makes me want to try.  We may start going to the local climbing gym that is in these pictures to strengthen up and get more practice.

Nevertheless, we had a great day and met some very good people and dined with our new friends, got some great exercise and saw some always fascinating, Mayan-like ruins, and didn’t waste our Sunday mowing the lawn and doing laundry.  Not too bad at all.

The Twenty Ninth of June, Two Thousand Eleven

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , on June 30, 2011 by Verge

Went for a walk today at lunch.  Monika and her friend have been walking every night to get back into shape.  Me and Kreg could also lose some weight, so we’re gonna try and run all summer.

Of course, Monika and I have to be in pretty good shape to do this in November, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  But, I’ve really been feeling kinda’ shitty lately, and I’ve not been this much out of shape in a while, so the extra few miles at lunch will burn some calories and get me in some cardio.  It’s just so damn hot out there.

a lot of retention ponds around

and wildlife, which makes for a decent walk

this is just corn planted to stop erosion. it would have been huge buildings had the economy not gone to shit.

but theres still a ton of people, cars and offices

funny thing is, most of these buildings used to be mortgage companies

so a lot of the offices are empty anyway. this doesn't get used much anymore

The Thirteenth of March, Two Thousand and Eleven (Hiking in Atsion)

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , on March 14, 2011 by Verge

New Year’s Road Trip, Part 1: Letchworth State Park

Posted in Good Times, Vacations with tags , , on January 7, 2011 by Verge

we headed off to upstate NY for a weekend of craziness

we rented a cabin in the woods. I wonder how many times they had to scrub blood off the floors before the cabin warranted this sign?

but, actually, the cabin was awesome. three rooms, electricity, fridge, stove...but no running water.


this is about how far we had to walk to the bathrooms, which where also surprisingly nice...and warm.

this is the real reason we came. This is the Grand Canyon of the East.

I know that there is another one somewhere in PA, but maybe next time we'll go there

this Grand Canyon was pretty damn good for us this trip. It was cold, but we layered up pretty well.

we hiked from lower all the way to upper falls, about a 3 mile round trip.

Kreg and Monika decided to cross a frozen stream while Kat and I decided to worry.

underneath the bridge, the tarp has sprung a leak

This is a track of the entire day.  It includes the car ride out of the park from our campground, to the left towards the falls, the entire hike, and our trip back to the cabin.

we tracked down some wood behind the cabin and started a campfire, pretty much a must while camping, no matter how cold.

we were the only ones in the campground with a fire, even though lots of people were out drinking on their porches, so we kind of became the center of attention.

so, of course, we built the largest fire we could for the hell of it.

After we burned all the wood, we went inside and played some dominoes.  and drank…a lot.  We were in bed early for the drive to Ohio for New Years Eve the next night.  Monika paid the price dearly.



As always, the full set of pix from this leg of our road trip can be found right here!

Sunday Afternoon Hike

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags on December 14, 2010 by Verge

After Monika came home from work, we decided to head out to a patch of woods in Marlton that we’ve yet to explore.  Craig wanted to come along for the ride.  It was the second time I was using my phone to explore, using a breadcrumb trail and the gps to geocache and track out location and hiking distance.

I drive down Kettle Run Road everyday on my way home from work to avoid Rt. 73. I've wanted to explore back here for a while, but I'm usually attracted to abandoned buildings and defunct rail lines.

Then, about a year ago, I noticed off deep in the woods an rusted out abandoned water tower. I've wanted to make it out there ever since, and finally we had a free afternoon to try to track it down.

I guess this tract of land is wetlands or protected somehow. It could easily be developments, and probably pretty expensive ones. But, there's not really any "no trespassing" signs, so I guess this open space is owned by Evesham.

after a leisurely half an hour hike, we tracked down the tower. Turns out it's not really abandoned at all. It must be the local water tower that feeds King's Grant, a huge development of houses, condos and townhomes in Marlton.


at this point in the hike, we were just on the outskirts of Indian Mills Golf course and you could literally walk right onto the fairway.

we got back to the car just as it was getting dark. Below is the breadcrumb trail of the day. I forgot to turn it on right away, and then again when we left, so it also hilariously shows our trip out of the woods, to Canal's for some beer, and to Murphy's to pick up some things we needed to make dinner.

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