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Category: Hike

NE Road Trip 2019 – Day Fourteen

Today is waterfall day!  Basically this is Amanda’s only reason for coming on vacation.

First up was a hike to Raymondskill Falls.  Hard packed trails greeted us and made the hike easy.  The falls were active and full.  Elise spotted a snake attempting to sun itself on a stick.  All-in-all, a nice waterfall to visit.

Next was a stop at the Dingmans Falls Visitor Center.  The kids started their Junior Ranger program.  We then walked down the boardwalk-like path to see both Silver Thread Falls and Dingmans Falls.  These, too, were very pretty.

After lunch we went up to the Pocono Environmental Education Center.  There are many hiking trails here and Amanda chose the Tumbling Waters Trail to hike while I fought off a migraine in the car.

We were all fairly tired by the time we got back to the tent.  Amanda read a bit and then we were all asleep.

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NE Road Trip 2019 – Day Twelve

The forecast said rain.  With the exception of Camden Hills we haven’t really experienced any adverse weather along our trip.  Today showed the possibility of sustained precipitation with thunderstorms.  With that in mind, we hit the trails early.

The climb to the top of Carpenters Rocks wasn’t difficult but the mosquitoes were thick.  Walk and they were like a fog around you.  Stop and they were on you faster than you could swat them away.

At the overlook, a rock lay atop a ~50-foot cliff that overlooked the west.  It was a beautiful spot to sit and watch the distant happenings.

The hike down was faster than the ascent with fewer biting insects.  The rest of the day was just a lazy day.  Amanda and the kids went down to the pond where Harlan took a chunk out of his knee.  It was shortly thereafter that the rain began.  Thankfully we were in a yurt and wouldn’t have to worry about packing up wet stuff for our journey to Pennsylvania.

There were thunderstorm watches and warning and then came the flood warnings.  I haven’t looked but I suspect several inches of rain fell over the area.

We ended the evening with pizza at a local restaurant before returning to camp to head to bed.  The rain lulled us to sleep fairly early.  Tomorrow we head to Dingmans in Pennsylvania.

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NE Road Trip 2019 – Day Seven

One week on the road and we’re in full explore mode.  Today started with a stop at the Common Good Soup Kitchen and Cafe.  We learned about this place the last time we were here.  Since then, they have moved their operation and simplified their menu.

After breakfast we hit the Park Loop Road and, once parked, hiked to Thunder Hole.  No big waves today so no thunder or big splashes but it’s still cool to watch.

We then drove down to Otter Point and climbed on the rocks and watched the water.  A couple of splashes got close to Harlan but he didn’t seem to notice or mind.

We then headed into town for lunch at Jalepenos in Bar Harbor.  Nothing quite says Maine like Mexican food…

A quick walk over to Bar Island via the sand bar, now exposed at low tide, and we were on our way to Cadillac Mountain for sunset views and stargazing.  Unfortunately, the kids didn’t heed our suggestions to take a nap before we got to the mountain, so, of course, as soon as the sun went down, both of them fell asleep… on the rocks… on Amanda.  After fumbling over the rocks with the kids in the dark, we packed them into the car and drove them back to the tent.

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NE Road Trip 2019 – Day Five

The day started earlier for some.  Elise decided she needed Daddy snuggles around 6AM and a half-hour later had completely taken over my sleeping bag and pillow.  So I went ahead and got up and started my day with a hike around the campground.  2.6km later and I’m back ready for what’s next.  The rest of my party has decided that 8:30AM is a more appropriate time to get up.  I’ve been collecting survey information for OSM, and I’ve brought my laptop with me, but haven’t actually gotten it out, yet.  I’d like to reduce my screen time to nil if I could.  Luckily I can process all this data later.

Once everyone had gotten dressed, we ventured into town (Camden) to the Bagel Cafe for breakfast.  This place has very good bagels and everything else you could want to put on a bagel.  It was here where we met up with Dave and Lila.  They had spent the night one town north of us and would be sharing our campsite tonight.

After brunch was over, we returned to the campsite and prepared to hike up to Mount Megunticook.  On our previous road trip up, we hiked up to the view points and remember them being amazing.  This trip was no different.

The climb to the top is 1.67 mi from our campsite.  Some of that trek was very rocky and required hand and foot climbing.  The kids loved climbing on the boulders and finding wild blueberries.

I made it to the top of the summit for a SOTA operation (W1/EM-001).  Once at the top I stretched out my HF antenna and got to work.  It ended up being a slow day on the bands.  I made two contacts on two-meters FM, one on forty-meters CW, one on twenty-meters PSK-31, and one on twenty-meters CW.  And with five contacts under my belt, the battery died in the radio, thunder boomed nearby, and I headed down.

Upon making it down, we headed to the showers.  I believe the door may have been closed for only a minute with the storm hit.  Torrential rain, lightning, and wind came through but thankfully didn’t last long.  We seem to have a history of getting torrential rains when camping here.

Supper was chicken teriyaki and wild blueberries.  Then everyone went to bed.  It had been a long but good day.

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NE Road Trip 2019 – Day Three

The adventure continues.  This is our last day in Connecticut and I wanted to get in a little more hiking.  We picked up Tilly and headed out towards the Appalachian Trail and Tenmile Rock.  The trail head we started at is just inside Connecticut at the New York state line.

The hike started well enough.  Cool stream crossings and nice paths through the ferns.  About halfway up the 1.25mi journey a mutiny occurred and I was left to hike the rest of the way by myself.  I continued the trek because I had brought radio gear with me to activate the summit for Summits on the Air (SOTA).  Once at the top, I setup  my radio and antenna and then realized I had forgotten my microphone!  My weakest mode of operation is CW using Morse Code but that is what I had available to me.  I ended up making five contacts before my batteries died.  By then the mutineers had eaten lunch and dessert at a local diner.  They came and collected me after I summoned them on the radio.  It was quite hot out there but I still met several thru hikers heading north.  One was waiting on a friend to pick him up for dinner.

On our way back to Tilly’s house we stopped for frozen yogurt.  Harlan saw a tank and had to investigate it.  It was pretty small for a tank.  The kids played a bit more at Tilly’s before we had to head out.

We stopped at a sandwich shop for supper and then headed to the camp for mandatory showers.  Tomorrow we head to Maine!

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Camping on Apple Orchard Mountain

A view towards the southwest showing the crew tent, VHF/UHF antenna, operations tent, and HF antenna.
Camp Sparks: from left to right, crew tent, VHF/UHF antenna, operations tent, and HF antenna.

With the heat wave across the east coast this weekend we decided to make Eric’s radio event trip a family affair. The day started off beautifully. We were camped in a field of wildflowers and there were so many butterflies flitting about and a lovely breeze blowing across the mountaintop. Then the breeze stopped and the sun came up. It was warm… very warm. Harlan enjoyed climbing on some large rocks shaded by a grove of trees (Elise, surprisingly, was much more wary about falling), and we all enjoyed the panoramic views. We did a bit of exploring the area, but did I mention it was really hot? We all decided we would like to go back in slightly cooler weather.

  • Tent in a meadow of tall grass with moon overhead.
  • snail
  • butterfly
  • Amanda, Eric, and Elise hiking down the mountain with another mountain in view.
  • butteryfly
  • blue and black butterfly
  • boy on a large rock
  • Boy looking out toward other mountain summits.
  • Girl on a rock.
  • Apple Orchard Mountain sign
  • lots of butterflies
  • Looking out of the tent window, lots of trees and the moon.
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Appalachian Trail

We’ve missed the last couple Appalachian Trail cleanup trips with our friends from Virginia, Jerry and Etta. We made it this time though, and had fun, and cleared our assigned trail section as well. Plus, we got to see (a little too close for Harlan’s comfort) a timber rattlesnake! That was the second day of cleanup. While Eric, Jerry, and Etta weedwhacked the first part of the trail, that Harlan and Elise and I took some clippers and headed down to the end of our section- the Maupin Field Shelter. The kids were amazing little hikers and we enjoyed a break at the creek (basically a trickle) when we reached the end, eating lunch, and chatting with a hiker attempting to filter some water. On the way back we noticed a middle-aged couple who had been hiking stopped in the trail ahead of us. We approached and asked what was going on and then when they pointed we saw the large snake just on one side of the trail. A young couple came up behind us next and in the spirit of youth the young man decided tossing rocks at the snake might encourage it to exit the trail. The snake basically ignored the brief barrage of stones. Then the fella decided to get a long stick and quickly push the snake off the trail. That worked… sorta. The snake was not at all pleased with that turn of events and once moved into the high grass on the other side of the trail continued to rattle angrily. Now we couldn’t see the snake but could hear that it remained quite close so we all decided to hike off the trail and give it a wide berth because walking through poison ivy seemed preferable given the situation. Harlan was a little freaked out though and in shorts at that point. I think he would have calmed down, but the lady hiker we first saw volunteered to carry Elise around so I could carry Harlan. We all made it out safely and he’s quite pleased to be able to tell the story now.

Before we left we enjoyed stopping along Skyline Drive to take in the views.


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Father’s Day

We had an outdoorsy Father’s Day this year, heading to Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary to complete our first Maryland State Park Quest Challenge and then to Fort Washington Park.

The most exciting part (as measured by what the kids are still talking about) was on the way there when we stopped to move a snapping turtle out of the middle of the road.

Exploring Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, identifying trees and looking for animals habitats:

Exploring Fort Washington Park, including the fort itself and a lighthouse:

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New vacation accommodations

Blue and grey small hiking tent.
Our nice, small, lightweight hiking tent.

Years ago, before kids were a consideration, Amanda and I purchased a tent that was perfect for hiking.  Lightweight, small, and easily packed in one of our hiking packs, this little tent is great… for the two of us.

Well, I say “two of us” but we’ve certainly had Harlan squeeze in between us in the tent but now that he’s six, and Elise is here, I’m guessing that we won’t be able to all fit inside that nice, small, lightweight hiking tent anymore.  And, in the end, that’s okay, as there will still be times when there will be only a couple of us that will want to go out on an excursion and the hiking tent will still be useful.

Getting back to the point, Amanda and I have been looking at options for a larger tent.  Nothing that was an RV-sans-wheels type of tent but something that was large enough to handle a family of four as some of that four grows larger.  Today we introduce an upgrade to our vacation accommodations:

This is a six-person tent that has a divider in the middle to form two rooms. There is also an addition that we plan to get in the future called “the garage” that adds additional outdoor storage that is covered and protected from the elements. Think of this tent as a great family base camp shelter.

I’m excited to put this tent in service and try it out; perhaps once it gets a little warmer.


Sugarloaf Mountain

One happy bunch of hikers!We decided to take advantage of nice weather today to go for a family hike. After first going by Great Falls and discovering we were not the only people who had that idea, we headed over to Sugarloaf Mountain. It was an excellent choice! Harlan, who chose a hiking outfit entirely of camouflage, particularly enjoyed the steepest section of the ascent where he got to scramble over rocks.


Elise’s favorite part was without a doubt crawling around at the summit. She was shoeless and just so happy and determined. She crawled over the rocks and around the rocks and picked up sticks and crumpled leaves in her fists (and tried to eat more than one pebble). She also charmed many a passerby with her joy.

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Both kids were also good sports with taking pictures, although they continued to try to do their best to never look at the camera and smile at the same time. Even so, I managed to catch one:

20161030_142248They also both think selfies are hysterical, so we took on of those too:

20161030_143355While Harlan, Elise, and I played, Eric set up his new hiking radio and made some contacts from the summit. Then we all enjoyed the hike back down the mountain. It’s a popular place, and I can see why. It’s a wonderful family hike with enough of a challenge to be fun for the kids and a variety of trails so you can easily make your hike as long or as short as you want. Plus, you have a sense of accomplishment at making it to the top (even if it isn’t exactly all that high as mountains go).