Hiking: R. B. Winter State Park

I love R.B. Winter State Park. When I was a kid, my whole family would car camp there for at least one whole week every summer.

Half Way Dam

If you are going to go there, it is important to note that nobody actually calls it R. B. Winter state park. Everyone calls it “Half Way Dam.” If you ask someone for directions to R. B. Winter, they probably won’t know what you’re talking about.

West Boundary Trail

Anyhow, last weekend, I went out with my friends to hike around it in the cold and snow. There was about 8″ of snow and ice on the ground, and it was just a hair above zero degrees outside. Perfect hiking weather.

We started out on the Mid-state trail, turned onto the west boundary trail, then walked on a road / snowmachine trail and then used the Old Boundary Trail to loop back to the Mid-State.

Klinutus dancing a jig

One of the nice things about winter hiking is being in the quiet of the woods, and breathing in cold, fresh air.

Nothing is more antithetical to these ends than the noise and stench of two-stroke snowmachine engines. The snowmachiners were generally friendly, though, and waved to us before blasting past us at incredible speeds.

Break Time

I got to test out some new gear on this hike. There was ice under the first inch of snow, so I used stabilicers over my trail running shoes for extra traction. I had used yaktrax on winter hikes last year, but had a catastrophic failure on a steep descent. The stabilicers seem much more sturdy, but the penalty is increased weight.

Ridge top

Anyhow, it was a lovely day in the woods. If you’re ever in the area, you should go to R.B. Winter State Park. In the summertime, there is a nice beach by the lake, and no matter how hot it is outside, the water is always too cold for grown ups to swim in. Kids can swim in it with no problems, though.

It’s also right along BikePA route V, so it’s a convenient camping place if you’re bike touring.

Critical Mass

All you pansies who stayed inside missed out on all the fun. 5.5 miles of dark icy streets and the usual angry, honking motorists.

There was only three of us, so our mass was somewhat less than critical.

I think we spent as much time at Neato Burrito as we spent riding.

The vegetarian burrito rocks the bullocks.

Today: 5 miles
January: 25 miles
2009 Utility Miles: 20
2009 Total Miles: 25
Departure Temp: 27° F

Books: Hammock Camping

Hammock Camping

Inspired by the delightful goofiness of a certain youtube personality, I’ve been spending some time reading about hammock camping over on hammockforums.net, and I decided to get the definitive book on the subject.

It’s pretty much a straight, to the point, screed on the hows and whys of hammock camping.

The idea is that you sleep in a hammock instead of on the ground. The benefits are:

  1. camp anywhere – you don’t need to find a flat, level 6’x3′ piece of ground without roots, rocks, etc
  2. Put your feet up and lounge in luxuriant splendor, even in the midst of inhospitable wilderness
  3. Sleep up above all the bugs, snakes, mud, and creepy crawly things

It is a convincing argument, though I haven’t yet tried to sleep in one. I have found online instructions for constructing a hammock of my very own, but I have not yet sourced all the requisite materials for this project.

I think this strategy would work very nicely for stealth camping on s240s, because the number of possible campsites increases dramatically when all you need are 2 trees to tie up to.

I am eagerly awaiting warmer weather, so I can ride out into the hinterlands with a hammock, a few books, and perhaps a flask of spirits to conduct my leisure in style and comfort.

I give Hammock Camping 3 jihadis out of 5.

3 Jihadis out of 5

Tweed Run

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen all day. I think we should organize one for Harrisburg.

Tweed Run

I got a pair of knickers for christmas, so I’ve got half my costume already. Who’s in?

Books: Hike Your Own Hike

Hike Your Own Hike

I heard about this book on one of the backpacking podcasts I listen to at work to drown out my noisy co-workers.

Hike Your Own Hike is basically a self-help book, but it uses AT thru-hiker jargon instead of the normal psycho-babble you might expect from a self help book.

The author seems to be a pretty cool guy from what I’ve seen and heard of him on the internets.

The book basically follows his 2001 Southbound Thru-Hike of the AT, and is interspersed with seven “Principles” for how to live your life in a way so as not to be a loser.

A southbound AT thru-hike is no small feat, but what is even more amazing is that he managed to convince his lady friend to come along for the whole thing. I suppose that is preferable to spanking one’s monkey behind a tree, or whatever other thru-hikers do when they get lonely out there.


Some of the self-help advice seems a little hokey, honestly. Some of it is good. One thing I liked was the chapter on how to manage your expenses / finances in such a way as not to be a wage slave, so you can go on crazy adventures, and not piss your life away in a cubicle.

There’s also a interesting section about how he didn’t know about 9/11 until he walked into a town to re-supply. He immediately ran back into the woods, because he felt that civilization had become hostile somehow.

Anyhow, even with the hokey advice, it was fun to read and only took 2 days to finish.
I give Hike Your Own Hike 4 Jihadis out of 5.

4 Jihadis out of 5

You can even download the first chapter for free (1.4MB pdf) if you want to check it out before shelling out the moolah for the whole book.


I find this weather entirely objectionable.

3 degrees above

I will be spending the rest of the day in my secret underground lair.

A Question for the Minnesotans

How cold does it have to be before it’s a good idea to wear goggles? It looks like it will be 10°F for my Friday morning commute, and I don’t want my eyeballs freezing shut.


Today was my first ride with the studded tires on this season. I am suddenly aware of how much of my bicycling fitness I lost while I was off the bike hiking for the past 2 months.

Evidently, hiking and bicycling use entirely different muscles.

The sloth has proposed riding our bicycles to Washington DC this spring to visit the new president.

It’s pretty far to the White House from here. I will need to get my ass back on the bike with more regularity to make that trip possible.

Today: 10 miles
January: 20 miles
2009 Utility Miles: 20
2009 Total Miles: 20
Departure Temp: 25° F


As I was going through my boxes of bike stuff to find my gloves and whatnot this morning, it occurred to me that my collection of bicycling paraphernalia is worth a lot more than my car.

That’s almost ridiculous.

I walked over to the empty cubicle my bike parks in to get a snack from my pannier. I have a flat tire!

I found a 1.5″ nail sticking into the tread near the valve stem. I bet it was long enough to stick into the rim tape.

Turns out the topeak alien tool’s built-in tire levers actually work. (I didn’t have my normal kit with me). Keeping a floor pump in your cubicle makes lunchtime bicycle repairs more pleasant. Maybe I should stash tire levers and a spare tube in a desk drawer, too.

Today: 10 miles
January: 10 miles
2009 Utility Miles: 10
2009 Total Miles: 10
Departure Temp: 29° F