Goat Races

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Today was the day – the 28th annual running of the goats. This is the fourth consecutive year I’ve attended this ridiculous event.

A goat wearing a hat
A well-dressed goat

I took a couple more pictures.

I also have pictures from the 2004 and 2005 races.

Maple Syrup

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Brandi and I went to the Bloomsburg Fair tonight. There was the normal assortment of games, rides, barnyard animals, weirdos, etc.

Just as we were about to leave, this caught my eye:

Lumberjack shirt
Lumberjack Shirt

It was a woman wearing a shirt advertising the New York State Woodsmen’s Field Day, a lumberjack festival. I’m a big fan of the woods, and (perhaps surprisingly) of lumberjacks. Everybody knows two things about lumberjacks:

  1. Lumberjacks wear flannel shirts
  2. Lumberjacks eat pancakes for breakfast.

Everybody also knows that pancakes are no good without syrup on them, and we’ve discussed the evils of Mrs. Butterworth previously. If you want to grow up to be a big, manly lumberjack, you need real maple syrup, from real maple trees.
As luck would have it, the lady inside the shirt was running a maple syrup stand.
Pat's Sugarhouse
Pat’s Sugarhouse

We bought a pint of her syrup (we were fresh out), and she told us all about lumberjacks and her sugaring operation. In exchange for free publicity on bonius.com, she invited us to come out in the spring and check out her trees and syrup production facilities, which was pretty darn cool of her.
She doesn’t have a web page yet, but we might be able to barter a site in exchange for a bucket or two of syrup.

Anyhow, if you’re eating dry pancakes, you’re a damn fool, and I don’t think you could get maple syrup from a nicer lady. So here’s how to get some of her syrup:

Pat’s Sugarhouse
14611 Dickson St.
Guys Mills, PA 16327
Phone: 814.377.2483
Fax: 814.337.1366
pmihailov(at)zoominternet(dot)com

NOW you tell me…

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From the first google result for “sunset rocks trail:”

The scramble over boulders on the Sunset Rocks trail is not difficult for an experienced hiker, but could be dangerous in wet conditions.

[…]

The Sunset Rocks’ ridge is especially challenging, and doing it in the rain is not recommended

I wish I would have googled the trail beforehand.

Sunset Rocks

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Yesterday, Brandi and I went into the woods in hopes of completing another 10 miles of the Appalachian trail. It was kind of a misty, dreary day, so we had the whole woods all to ourselves.

Leaves are falling
The leaves are starting to turn.

We saw a sign for a blue-blazed bypass trail called “Sunset rocks.” It sounded pleasant enough, like maybe it was a retirement home for mountain climbers or something. It was only 2.5 miles long, and the map showed a scenic overlook on it, so we figured that would make a nice place to have lunch.

The trail wandered through the woods, and then shot straight up an evil climb. This is to be expected on the way to a scenic vista.

The view was somewhat less spectacular than I was hoping, obscured by trees, but pretty nonetheless.

The view from sunset rocks
The view from the overlook

The trail kept climing, so, hoping for better views, we pressed on. Things rapidly went to shit from here. We quickly found ourselves on a craggy boulder outcropping. The blazes were painted directly on the boulders. We successfully navigated maybe 2 or three of these things before I fell. Maybe 8 feet, but it easily could have been 20 or more. I got scraped up, and I hurt my shoulder pretty bad.

Now, we were in a world of shit. I had only limited use of my right arm. I didn’t think I would be able to go back the way I came, but the way forward was equally bad. The rocks were wet and covered in lichen.

Battle wounds
My battle scars

We made a guess that after a half mile of these boulders, we should almost be done with them, so we pressed on slowly. After a few more (less dramatic) falls, we made it back to the AT.
We did manage to get our 10 miles in.

Today, I can’t even lift my arm far enough to put on deodorant. If it’s no better in a day or two, I guess I’ll have to seek out medical attention.

Anyhow, for the benefit of google (and everyone, I guess), and since there are no signs warning people about this:

The Sunset Rocks trail in the Michaux State Forest is a fairly technical bouldering trail. Do not attempt unless you are experienced, insane, and have a good life insurance policy. At least if it’s been raining out.

If you like pictures, there are more pictures of this trip in my gallery.

Pirates of the Susquehanna

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Yo Ho, Yo Ho!
A Pirate’s life for me!
We pillage and plunder and we rifle and loot
Drink up, me Hearties, Yo Ho!
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot!
Drink up me hearties, Yo Ho!

Avast!

Spent Saturday night with me crew swillin’ grog ‘n carryin’ on. Since we already layed waste to all the towns between Lewisburg and Sunbury, and burnt to the ground all the villages between Montomery and Milton on other trips, we left our saucy wenches behind, and set off to put the water between Milton and Lewisburg under the keels and claim the entire lower 23 miles of the west branch Susquehannna river for our own selves. Savvy?

Bottom 23 miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River
This summer’s conquest

Arrr!

Cap’n Bone, the Klinutor/Klinutus brothers, Stinky (the bilge rat), and the Mad Taoist rounded out me crew.

Klinutus on the rope swing
Shiver Me Timbers, Klinutus found a rope swing!

Treasure was what we was after, an’ treasure we found. In a secret lagoon, we found many a round treasure chest, bearin’ the name of him that buried it there. There was tresure from Cap’n Goodyear, Cap’n Firestone, and the terrible old one-eyed Cap’n Dunlop.

Treasure lagoon
Avast! There be buried treasure about!

Not a bad day’s piratin‘ if I do say so me own self.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho!
A pirate’s life for me!
We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do well cads!
Drink up, me hearties, Yo Ho!
Aye, but we are loved by our mommies and dads
Drink up me hearties, Yo Ho!
Yo Ho, Yo Ho,
A pirate’s life for me!

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

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Breaking Wind

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The weather man was calling for a day of solid rain, so Brandi and I canceled our trip to
the north country, and opted to hike closer to home.

We ended up tooling around some of the hiking trails in Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Swamp Trail
The Swamp Trail

We hiked on the Swamp Trail, the Appalachian Trail, then we got lost and hiked on two trails I can’t find on any maps… They might have been creek beds or goat paths or something.

Anyways, when we finally figured out where we were, It was time to test out my new pot. I also got to test the windscreen I crudely fabricated from the bottom of one of those aluminum foil turkey-roasting pans. This setup still didn’t exactly boil the water! It got close. I had those little tiny bubbles coming up off the bottom, but no roaring boil.

The guys over at backpackinglite have done an embarrassing amount of research into “Stove Windscreen Dynamics and Design” and I’m thinking maybe I should make or buy a windscreen of the type they recommend.
Esbit in action
Esbit in action

The stove also leaves greasy funk all over the bottom of your pot, but it wipes off really easily.
Greasy Funk
Greasy Funk

Despite the stove’s inability to boil water, it got plenty hot enough to reconsitute our freeze-dried lunches. I made Backpacker’s Pantry Kung Pao Chicken. I didn’t much care for it, but it was instrumental in the development of some lovely weapons-grade flatulence, much to the consternation of my hiking companion :-)

Commodity Fetishism

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Diligent readers may remember how a few weeks ago, I tried and failed to bring water to a full boil with my combination of an Esbit stove and steel mug.

Well, that truly sucked, and after reading all sorts of backpacker forums, it looks like my stainless mug is really not a very efficient way to boil water. It’s a tall cylinder of water, so very little of the water is in direct contact with the heat from the stove.

So, I broke my piggy bank on gear again. The nice lady at Wildware hooked me up with a very sexy MSR Titan Kettle.

MSR Titan Kettle. 4 oz of pure manliness

The kettle with 16 oz. in it has much better ratio of volume to surface area than the mug.
Also, it has a lid, the benefits of which never even occured to me. Hopefully, I will be able to get water to a roaring boil now.

As part of this weekend’s bourgeois gear-buying orgy, I have also obtained a new pack.
CamelBak Alpine Explorer

I got the CamelBak Alpine Explorer, which, at 3 pounds, is a touch heavy for ultralight backpacking, but I think I can go overnight out of it, so long as I am careful about what I bring and it’s not too cold out.

Brandi and I are ditching work on Friday and heading out for a hike on the great and terrible Mid State Trail, so I hope to me able to field test all my new toys and report back with Jihadi ratings for them :-)

Woods

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I went for a bike ride today. I rode down the Stony Creek Rail Trail. I’m too tired for eloquent prose, sorry.
My Bike

It was pretty.

Stony Creek

Our old friend the Black snake made a brief appearance.

Black Snake

I made a video, so you can see what it’s like to ride a bicycle in the woods.

Tiadaghton

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I was planning to do some kayaking over the weekend, but the water level in the river was looking awfully low. Hurricane Ernesto came to the rescue and refilled all the creeks and rivers, even the mighty Tiadaghton Creek (aka. Pine Creek).

Yesterday, Klinutus, Klinutor (Younger brother of Klinutus), Mama-Klinutus (the matriarch of the Klinutus clan), and I decided to make a run on Pine creek before the water went back down.

I had to get up at the proverbial butt-crack of dawn to get up there on time. As butt-cracks go, this one was kind of nice looking.

The butt-crack of dawn
The butt-crack of dawn

No SUVs on this trip. Who needs an SUV when you have a roof rack and a bit of courage.

Farhvergnugen!
Fahrvergn├╝gen

The creek was a mixture of flatwater and some fairly snarly sections.

Klinutus and Mama-Klinutus in the snack barge
Klinutus and Mama-Klinutus manning the mothership / Snack barge.

After we came out of a particularly snarly section, I saw a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree. By the time I got my camera out of waterproof storage, we were pretty far downstream, so the picture sucks.

A blurry eagle
A blurry eagle

One of these days, I’ll get a camera with more than 2 megapixels of resolution…

During his attempt to photograph the eagle, Klinutor got too close to shore and was nearly devoured by renegade Ents reaching over the water. He narrowly escaped impending doom, or impending splinters in any event.

Klinutor runs from the Ents
Klinutor flees from the Ents

We covered about 11 miles of the creek all together. Not a bad way to spend a Monday morning.

Multimodal Commuting in Harrisburg

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I have been hearing strange comments from people at work lately. Many people seem to feel that I am “so lucky” that I live close enough to the office to be able to commute on my bicycle. Normally, I’d launch into my rant about how luck and careful planning are inter-related, but I thought I’d try something more constructive for a change.

CAT operates 15 “park-and-ride” locations, where you can park your car (for free!), and hop on the bus.

Sadly, CAT buses to not have bike racks, so multimodal (bike + bus) commuting is generally not possible. There is another alternative, however. If you have a bike rack for your car, you can drive to a park-and-ride location, and ride the rest of the way to work from there.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that even someone in pretty bad physical condition could ride 4-6 miles without much difficulty. With that in mind, I made a map of the Harrisburg area and superimposed circles with a radius of 4 miles from each of the park-and-ride locations.

4 mile radius from park and ride

But that looks a bit confusing. So, using my advanced jedi powers in the Gimp, I made a slightly more readable version.

All the area within 4 miles of a park and ride

You can see that there really aren’t many destinations in the Harrisburg “metro area” that are more than 4 miles from a park-and-ride location.

Obviously, these are 4 linear miles, and peculiar road layouts, lack of bridges, etc. May make your actual commute a few miles longer.

If you really want to try bicycle commuting, and live further away than it’s practical to ride, maybe this kind of multi-modal commute will be helpful.