Monthly Archives: November 2011

I will be thankful of you clicking this link.

Each year we give thanks for the things that are important to us. We all know this is the basis for Thanksgiving. Most people give shout outs to their friends and family – I feel these shouts are something that goes without saying.

To avoid the banality of such a proclamation I have listed ten things that I truly am thankful for. Each unit of thanks plays a major role in things that I am passionate about.

Now, don’t think I am some sort of misanthrope with no friends or family. I love my family and friends above all else. After that then you have these ten things:

1. The Hydrogen Cycle

This is probably the most important thing in my life and yours. If you’ve ever admired a mountain or looked down into a canyon, you have to thank the hydrogen cycle. Oh, and not to mention this is the reason for SNOW, ’nuff said.

2. Friction

Without friction I couldn’t run, bike, skateboard, drive a car, sit on a chair, sit a glass on a table or really do anything else without sliding uncontrollably through life.

3. Fermentation

Let’s give it up to yeast for liking sugar and pooping alcohol.

4. Baseball

The greatest game ever played.

5. Audio frequencies

Makes music possible.

6. Photosynthesis

I love vegetables and other plants.

7. Silver Halide Crystals

Allows us to capture light.

8. Adrenaline

Who doesn’t like a good heart-racing moment?

9. Asphalt

Hint: I am not thankful for asphalt because I can drive my car on it.

10. The Earth’s tilt

Tis the seasons.

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Mt. Mansfield

During the “stick season” in Vermont, I am spending much time anticipating the start of snowboard season. We’ve seen a few sings of Winter so far but nothing quite as promising as I’d hope. I need to make some turns, soon.

One way to pacify this itch is hiking. And living less than a mile from Mt. Mansfield and the Long Trail, plenty of hiking exists. Saturday morning I set out to summit Mt. Mansfield. I had spent the previous day in Burlington so I missed the snow that fell all day in Stowe. But the snow didn’t even cross my mind; after all it was just a dusting – this ability to brush off nature is the Pennsylvanian in me. It’s not that Vermont is much more rugged but there is just a different way to go about things here.

About 1 mile up the 2.5 mile hike I realized crampons will be my next investment. Heading South on the Long Trail from Smuggler’s Notch, I quickly reached elevations where the snow had been more than just a dusting. 3-4 inches has fallen in these higher altitudes and much of the melt turned rocks into sheets of ice. At this point, I hadn’t even broken the tree canopy or reached the alpine environment.

Soon, the trees thinned and I was able to see the valley below. Seeing the snow-capped mountains from below ignites my snowboard-itch; seeing the stick-filled valley is a nice precursor to the view I’ll have in a month.

Breaking the trees left a quarter-mile to the summit of Mt. Mansfield. Things got dicey through this section. I contended with icy ledges, overly geared-up Canadians and high winds. Of the three, the Canadians made me the most nervous. They could have stood next to Edmund Hilary and fit in. Seeing their gear, ski poles, fancy jackets, crampons, hand signals and hearing them speak French made me question my decision to climb this mountain in jeans, boots and a flannel shirt with a vest.

As any American would, I just kept going despite the steep, ice-encrusted rock. Going up wasn’t too bad, but I was pretty nervous about coming back down and slipping to my death in front of a bunch of fancy Canadians.

Well, I didn’t slip. I made it to the top. It turned out my only spill was after being back in the forest and deciding to munch an apple while going back downy he icy trail – I slipped and slid a few feet on my ass.

I took a break after my slip at the Taft Lodge. The fall wasn’t so bad it required a break at the lodge but I felt I needed a good transition to this paragraph. I actually went to the lodge to just see what it looked like. Here is what it looked like:

While at the lodge, someone I had talked with while on top of Mt. Mansfield walked past. He was going bushwhacking through the woods to take an alternative, quicker route down through Stowe Mountain Resort. Seeking to avoid the icy trail heading down, I joined Wolf, the name he gave me. So Wolf, his dog Betsie and I blazed a trail through the woods to the resort. It’s not as cut and dry as it seems: we stumbled down a creek bed, fought through thick underbrush and almost got lost. Thankfully, Verizon & AT&T’s voracious competition left the nation blanketed with 3G cell service.  Deep in the Vermont woods, we located the ski trail with the swiss-army knife of every day life: an iPhone. Once on Stowe’s trail system, it was a simple hike down through snow-covered grass.

The idea behind these photos stems from my admiration for Ansel Adams’ work in Yosemite. Adams got his start hiking into the mountains of Yosemite and capturing the valley’s aesthetic. The Stowe Valley lacks the starkness of Yosemite but the Green Mountains’ possess a unique allure that can not be overlooked. Plus, the woods are always good for a hike.

Vintage: Long Arm Dam – Hanover, PA.

I captured these exposures using an old Kodak DuaFlex IV camera my Grand Father gave me a few years ago.  Kodak dis-continued production of the DuaFlex in 1960.  The camera has two exposure settings  – short and long; the focus is fixed and the view finder is a clunky piece of glass on the top.

The simplicity of the Duaflex draws me in.  I can’t get too fancy because there is nothing to get fancy about.  All you can do is frame the shot, give a good guess about exposure and snap the photo.

It has taken me sometime to gather these exposures and figure out how to use the vintage TLR camera. I snapped the 24 exposure roll back in August and today I am finally seeing the results. The black squiggly worm-like lines are little specks of dust that clung to the film.  Apparently, I charged the film while transferring it from roll to roll.  I think they add to the exposures, with the one they even look like a murder of crows.

To make these exposures happen I had to undergo the following steps:

  • Purchase 120 film
  • The camera’s standard film is 620, which is no longer in production, so I had to transfer to a new spool (hence the dust).
  • Go to the dam
  • Take the pictures with no light meter and nothing more than my better judgement
  • Move to Burlington where I could find a camera shop to process the film
  • Ask them to process the photos to a DVD
  • Upload and resize the photos on my dated laptop while in a café eating a sandwich.
  • Write this post
  • Push Publish.

Sorry, I went a little a little over-board.  Anyway, enjoy the 6 pictures that sort of turned out from the 24. I bought two more rolls with hopes of improvement. I am thinking I’ll get some mountain shots this time.

Sterling Pond

Today I hiked  .1 miles of the 273 mile Long Trail.  All in all I accomplished .0005% of the trail.  I’ll take that for day one.  I started the morning off hunting down a blaze-orange cap and driving to the trail – which took much longer due to the Notch being closed.  I took the Sterling Pond Trail 1,000 feet up to the Long Trail, which leads to Sterling Pond.  Sterling Pond sits atop Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort and behind the Spruce Peak section of Stowe Mountain Resort.

Sterling Pond, as it turns out, is part of the reason for Stowe and Smuggler’s break-up of sorts a few years back.  The two resorts used to share lift tickets and terrain.  Riders simply needed to cross the Sterling Pond area to reap the benefits of the adjacent resort.  That is, until one winter a snow-cat broke through the ice and into Sterling Pond.  

From what I’ve gathered speaking with locals, the ordeal was very costly to Stowe and the environment.  Following the incident, the resorts ceased the sharing of terrain.

Alas, riders of Stowe and Smugs must buy separate tickets to enjoy the fruits of each resort.  But, it is still free to hike up to the pond. I did that today and these are the photos I took.  Since Rt 108 closes in the Fall/Winter I was forced to take a 30 mile detour to reach the trail-head.  It was a scenic drive through a few Vermont mountain towns: Morrisville – home of Rock Art Brewery; Johnson – home of Johnson State University; and Jefferson – home of something interesting, I am sure.

The trail up to the pond intersected with many stream beds.  The cold in the upper elevations left these beds snow-covered and frozen.  Thus, the hike was slippery and tiresome.  I opted to take the easy way down via Smuggler’s Notch.  Walking the trails, checking out the lifts and seeing the left-behind PBRs amped me up for the pending season. I’m ready to shred.