The Campfire…. or how I got my trail name…

Well,

It just so happened this Spring, that a number of wonderful opportunities opened up for me to participate in hiking parts of the AT as well as meeting and hanging out with some wonderful new (and old) friends and seeing some incredible parts of this beautiful country, which may remain hidden from all but the most insistent hikers…

You can’t call this luck, doing so would be an injustice, more like divine providence, but at a time when I needed it the most, suffering with a broken heart and bruised ego, a fascinating thing happened. I received an invite to hike part of the AT, the Appalachian Trail, which spans more than 2000 miles across the mountains of the Eastern US and poses quite a challenge for increasing numbers of hikers each year, not just in one, but 2 very distinctly different areas. Independently of one another, these friends of friends extended an offer I could not refuse (seeing as I agreed to hike the trail in it’s entirety next year, but that’s another story), so there I went, scheduling one outing to follow closely with the other.

My second adventure on the AT lasted 2 and a half days and was punctuated by marvelous views, enormous rocks that had to be overcome by hand over hand climbing and lots of trail magic. It was to include hiking from New Jersey’s Highway 94 Northbound (NOBO) across the New York State line to Highway 17A over 15 miles of strenuous rocky terrain. I had a blast and that was only the first day…

Day two caught us reversing course, so to speak, and hiking Southbound (SOBO) from Elk Pen, NY, to West Mombasha Road intersection with the AT (approximately 5.5 miles) and again from New York State Route 17A on top of Bayvale Ridge to Wildcat Shelter (approximately 2 miles), skipping one small, but extremely technical section of the trail, so we could make it to shelter before dark.

A big shout-out and “Thank you!” goes to Mike from Anton’s on the Lake in Greenwood Lake, NY !! ( www.antonsonthelake.com ) Mike serves many functions at this amazing B&B, which is not only beautiful and perfectly situated on the North end of the lake, but also is very (!!) hiker friendly. He is receptionist, concierge, host, deliverer of tasty breakfasts, but most of all we appreciate him being our chauffeur for a nominal fee. He picked us up from the side of the road at West Mombasha, when we (okay I) were hot and sweaty and running out of juice, and delivered us safely to the hotel, so we could pick up my vehicle. My hiking partner and I then drove up to Bayvale Ridge to leave my car overnight in the parking lot near the most amazing ice cream shop that exists, Bayvale Creamery (more on that subject in a bit!). Hiking out after proper refreshment and revival by the yumminess of homemade ice cream, we had just enough time to make it to our campsite before the daylight vaned. We were to spend the night at Wildcat Shelter, tent camping among other weekend hikers as well as hardcore thru-hikers, and backtrack the 2 miles in the morning.

Upon arrival at Wildcat shelter we found several hikers already there, including Bloodhound (70+ years old), Socks & Rocks (a father / son team) and my sweet new friend and namesake Christine, aka Icecream (I’ll give you one guess as to the inception of that name) who quickly became my very best trail buddy ❤ .

The mosquitos were just a buzzing around the campsite (note: a lot of times you’ll find an increased number of ticks etc. around the immediate shelter area, therefore most hikers will find a nearby spot of their choosing to settle in, there are however some locations where use of the actual shelter is mandated). A fire had not been started yet. In no time flat MacGuyver took care of this task and demonstrated how to increase smoke production which reduces the quantity of mosquitos.

Such a campfire is a magnetic thing, if I may tell you, even the late arrivals (I apologize for not remembering everyone’s name) came out to enjoy the tail end of an exciting day, one brought out a miniature guitar and started playing a few songs. It turns out that Rocks, the son of Socks, is a genuine musician as well, so when he received a turn at the guitar, he regaled us with medieval as well as rock tunes. During the course of this gathering I received my trail name: PINK. Not surprising, really, seeing as I am likely to be donned in hot pink lip stick and hot pink trail runners. It matches me well 🙂

My hiking partner and absolute AT GURU MacGuyver  also taught us how to hang a bear bag and emphasized the importance of planning ahead. You want to make it to shelter and pitch your tent during daylight, eat dinner, hang your bear bag, take care of everything you need to before it gets dark and be safely zipped into your tent by the time the bugs come out to feast on hiker blood. “Hiker’s Midnight” is dusk, btw, you’ll rarely see serious hikers staying up and partying or socializing past that time, because everyone has to refuel and get plenty of rest so they can start back early for the next days hike.

According to the AT distance calculator, which is an amazing tool, I have hiked a total of 1.9 % of the trail which covers 2189.8 Miles. Doesn’t seem that much, but I have memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Looking forward to starting the NOBO hike next Spring, it will be delightful, I’m sure.

Have you tried your hand (better yet: feet) at long distance hiking ? If so, which trails have you done ?

Have you ever been on the AT? What was your favorite part ?

Are you a successful thru-hiker ?

#AppalachianTrail #hiking #backpacking #NewYork #AT #thruhiking #camping

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Pardon our Dust !!!

Put your hardhats on and please pardon our dust… this website is currently under construction…
We hope to achieve complete functionality of all components by the end of September 2017.
Thank you for your patience and understanding and please consider subscribing, so you can be the first to know about the exciting changes and updates !!
xxoo cw

A quick word on photography skills…

… or lack thereof…
I have been known, on occasion, to take pictures of events and people, in public places…
If you think you may be in one of my shots, possibly with a mouth-full of food, broccoli between your teeth or in the middle of a gigantic sneeze-attack, have no fear… I will edit you out, I promise (!) , because I wouldn’t feel comfortable publishing something another person might be embarrassed about. No worries, your unruly hairdo is safe with me 🙂
Unless, of course, we have a chance to review the material together and you indicate to me, you’re okay with it being used for a potential comedic blooper effect… Lord knows I have plenty of blooper type pics of my own, LOL.

It is my sincere hope that when you read my blog and look at my photographs, you can truly enjoy the content, the beauty of the images, scenes and landscapes, to get you as close to the action as possible. I’d like for you to get a sense of what it was like to be there, in the middle of a camp, a trail, a flower garden, surrounded by nature or sight-seeing in a big city. If I can bring a location closer to you by way of photography, I am in another fashion bringing you closer to that point of inspiration. Travel-Lust is contagious, after all…

Speaking of which, I have been criticized as of late for not carrying a large and proper camera with which to capture my images. I won’t exclude that possibility for the future, however, presently it’s just not my style. I’m quite fond of my Samsung S 5 phone, it has a lovely camera that does everything I need it to do. Honestly, the less stuff I carry, the less I can lose, LOL…

When I attended Tbex Europe in 2015 I realized also, that sometimes it’s less about the perfection of the photograph and more about the story. The fact that you are in a location and able to partake in a particular experience speaks volumes more than a picture by itself ever could, contrary to the old adage ” A picture is worth a thousand words”. By the way, Tweeters and Instagrammers, why post  a gorgeous image and not share where it was taken??? What is that all about, I WONDER??? In my opinion you should always add a location tag. Just because. Inquiring minds want to know 🙂

Also, I don’t believe in adjusting my pictures or adding filters. I may zoom and crop at times, but the coloring and details will be exactly as they appeared at the time the shot was taken. Opinions on this subject vary widely across the field. My Norwegian blogger friend Veronika Stuksrud from the popular site http://www.activeandadventurous.com explained to me why it may be necessary or beneficial to enhance a given photograph, I understand and I won’t judge… it’s just not for me.

What sort of a camera do you carry? Or don’t you?

Do you always add location tags to your posts? Are you curious when someone does not?

How do you feel about using filters?

#photography #SamsungS5 #travel

 

A word on photo safety…

I have been known to turn around and double back in order to get that once in a lifetime shot of a road sign, flower, butterfly, etc. , so I know the temptation is there, especially when we are in a new place, excited to be there and see and experience all we can. Eager to take as many photographs as possible of new and unusual things, not knowing when, if ever, we may have a chance to return to this place…

Hence my word of caution from personal experience: Be Careful ! Do not get so caught up in the moment that you forget your personal safety. Please 🙂 , if you have to pull over, do so when it is safe, making sure to tuck your vehicle as far to the side and out of the flow of traffic as possible and necessary. If this means you’ll have to walk a little farther back, then so be it. Better to park in an official pull-off or a wide spot in the road, than to get dinged or worse. Those locals, familiar with the road in question, will go much faster than you expect. So keep this in mind, make sure you signal before you slow down and pull over, be prepared to get honked at occasionally, and find that safe spot. Lock your vehicle, just in case, make sure you have your key in hand when you do (nothing like being locked out of your vehicle outside of  OnStar’s reach, again speaking from experience, and from a mountaintop, LOL) , and look and listen both ways (!) before crossing the road.

Sometimes you may have to pass the location and go a couple of miles up the  road to hang a U-turn and double back. Again make sure it is safe to do so, leaving enough space to turn without having to block the road for any length of time, i. e.: a 3 point turn is wayyyy better than a 13 point turn, n’est-ce pas ?

If your desired photograph involves stepping off the beaten path and into nature, make sure it is safe to do so. Look around and be aware of loose rocks, slippery leaves or moss, snakes and other critters, keeping in mind also, that in certain areas (such as State Parks or Federal Lands) it may be against the law to leave the dedicated trail. Try to get your pic without killing yourself or getting a citation, will ‘ya please?

There may be a location that strikes your fancy in such a way that you risk life and limb to take that wonderful selfie or family portrait… I once watched a young couple tote their two small children up a narrow rocky trail ( and when I say rocky, I mean huge boulders) and across a mossy and moist rock shelf above a 20 foot drop and below an 80 foot drop of a most gorgeous waterfall. Meanwhile, as their family member got into position on dry land below, gearing up to take that perfect picture, I sat cringing and praying, that nothing terrible would happen to them. Quietly looking on and being pained by the danger and the nonchalant attitude. I’m not judging. I get it, it’s a free country and to each their own, but I would not have taken that risk. One misstep, a tiny slip, could have been fatal. Those rocks are very unforgiving, after all. Use your own best judgment.

Last but not least, on your quest for photographic success, kindly make sure you don’t block or inhibit other folks from enjoying the scenery. Look around, be situationally aware (as you should always be) and show courtesy to others. Communicate and take turns, if you have to.

That being said, if you see a woman of a certain age with long blonde hair and a smart phone by the side of the road or trail, taking pictures of God knows what, be sure to beep your horn, because that could be me! 🙂 . I would appreciate the shout-out.

xxoo cw

Following my father’s footsteps : Why ???

The easy answer would be: Because he was a great guy !

The more involved answer goes as follows:

My Dad was a Captain at Sea for the German Merchant Marine. He started as a “deck scrubber” and gradually worked his way up, saving money, taking a semester or two here and there, steadily advancing in rank. He was one of the most determined people I ever knew.

My Dad travelled extensively, spoke 13 languages, had a love for life, people and good food, as well as nature and everything within it. He brought back many exotic species of plants from his trips, and if you were ever fortunate enough to experience one of his guided garden tours, he would tell you not only where he found each plant, but also the proper Latin name thereof.

My Dad was very open minded toward other cultures and people. His motto was:

“You should know enough of each language to make every person feel comfortable and appreciated”.

I have tried to live by this credo, granted it’s easy, because I just enjoy seeing folks smile. When I meet someone from another culture or language, I generally will try to pick up a word or a phrase to commit to my memory banks, and people are usually very happy and helpful (and some are tickled pink, because someone showed an interest).

Ergo, I could wish you a Good Morning in Cherokee (“Osht-sunalay”) or tell you to have patience in Ethiopian (“Tigist”), or I could simply thank you for reading this far (insert smiley 🙂 ), so let’s stick with that.

Thank you,

Yours truly,

cw xxoo

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Quick Intro :

My name is Christine, I am a mother of 2 delightfully talented children ( Yes, they will be reading this ) , born and raised in Germany, have lived in the US for more than half my life (you may guess at numbers, if you so desire) , have enjoyed a job I absolutely love and adore (which has nothing at all to do with travelling) for nearly 22 years, love gardening, reading, catching a show, and meeting amazing people, wherever they may be, have so far travelled on 2 continents, but fully intend to expand my horizon, have a long “bucket list”, steadily checking off items (and then adding more when no one’s looking), and here’s the inevitable “fair warning” for all of my Facebook friends, there may come a day that I shall visit you (upon proper invitation, of course) regardless of the continent you reside on.

Geesh,,, we may just have broken a record for longest sentence ever…

Well, suffice it to say, if you enjoy flowers, nature trails, mountains, beach, travel with kids or without, with dog or without, budget or the occasional splurge (Thank Goodness for hotel loyalty programs 🙂 ) , you may find something of interest to you which may peak your appetite for travel. If so, I welcome you to return as many times as you like. … And bring a friend or two…

Yours truly,

Christine Williams

Welcome to my blog…

…Hi there,

Hope these words find you well and in good spirits.

Come with me, if you like, and explore some more or less known locals. Travel is my passion, people are my love, and the world is my oyster (…and yours as well…) ***