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The Birth of a Highpointing Family

Everyone knows that I have been bit by the hiking bug in a big way.  As a result, peak bagging lists seemed a natural progression.  I’ve pointed out some of the ones I am keeping track of in a previous post.  Well, since then, I have certainly added the Catskill 3500 list into the mix.

But, those limit me to the Northeast region.  And, I want to explore as much of this country as possible.  And, I want to show my kids as much of this country as possible.  So, a list that I’ve decided to tackle, and my children and Drea have embraced have had pushed onto them is – Highpointing the 50 States.

I saw your eyes glaze over.  It is ok.  It’s the same thing that happened when I described it to Drea (that is, until she realized that Hawaii had a highpoint).

So, you are wondering, what is highpointing?  Well according to wiki:

Highpointing is the sport of visiting (and finding) the point with the highest elevation within some area (the “highpoint”), for example the highest points in each county within a state. It can be considered a form of peak bagging.

  • The goal is to attain the highest “natural point.” In other words, regardless of what man-made structures have been placed on top, the goal is to stand atop the highest “natural point.”
  • If the natural high point is covered with a structure and that structure is accessible, even on a limited basis, entering the structure and standing over the presumed high point is the goal. If the structure is completely and permanently inaccessible—e.g. a military base or private telecommunications tower – the goal is to reach the highest accessible natural point. At times, The Highpointers Club will deem a highpoint closed due to private property issues and may allow an alternative spot very near the highpoint. But, this is only in extreme and special conditions. Some of the highpoints are open on certain dates only and the Club expects all members to abide by these dates.
  • Any route to the top – walking, climbing, riding a cable car, dropping off a helicopter – is a valid means of attaining the high point. Each individual must decide what constitutes good sport. Many will prefer reaching the high point under their own locomotion, but the goal of highpointing is reaching the highpoint – means is a personal choice.

Still with me?  Ok, good.  As mentioned in the wiki quote that you just skipped over, I’m not alone in my desire to reach this achievement.  And, just like any other subject, when there is more than one person trying to achieve a similar goal, someone formed a Highpointing Club.  (So, what if the most prominent photos on their homepage seem to indicate that the average age of members is deceased!)  And, there is this view point from my list-obsessed friend Steve, who’s reasons for wanting to tackle highpointing list aren’t too dissimilar to my own.

With regard to the last bullet, when possible, I fully intend on taking the hiking approach.  For example, the high point of New Hampshire is the summit of Mount Washington.  Now, everyone and their grandmother could drive up there.  Boring.  Or take the cog railway.  Really?  Come on!  Where is the adventure in that?  Where is the challenge?  Where is the journey?  Not for this highpointer.  I’ll be taking the long way, thanks.  (Not to mention that Mount Washington is on my NH 4000 & NE 100 lists… but my point still remains.)

Curious what the highpoints of your favorite states are?  You know you are!  Here’s a map view.  And, here’s a list.

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Close.... but not the true highpoint.

All right, with all of that said, it only seemed logical to tackle the home state’s highpoint as the start of this adventure.  And, as I had the children for April Vacation this year, and I’ve been starving for some hiking, the time was right to dip our toes into the highpointing waters.

Now, Rhode Island’s highpoint is truly a massive summit of 812′ on the top of Jeromith Hill.  Shockingly, this is not the lowest high point of the United States; that honor belongs to 345′  Britton Hill  in Florida. (Of course it does, Florida gets all of the freaking rejects.)  Despite it’s minor elevation, Rhode Island’s highpoint was not-too-long-ago known as one of the most difficult highpoints to achieve, due to land owners that were particularly ornery and trigger-happy.  Yes, I said trigger-happy.  Check that link out!  Thankfully, all of that nonsense is in the past, and RI’s highpoint is accessible 7 days a week between the hours of 8am & 4pm.

So, on Sunday, April 15th, we took the drive out to Foster, RI.  Upon driving up the numerous hills along Route 101, I was struck with how significant some of them seemed; a few of them had several hundred feet elevation change between them.  From the East, you pass a highway sign that indicates you are on Jerimoth Hill, it even indicates that it is the state’s highpoint.  However, the true highpoint is not actually on the highway.  After passing the sign, we did a U-turn and found the matching sign on the other side of the road.  We parked and climbed out of the van.  It was only then, that I told the kids what we were there to do…. and that they had to hike to do it!  This was met with some shock, guffaws, and some grumbles.  All of which, I was expecting.  They asked how long of a hike it would be, and I assured them, it would be the shortest hike of their young lives.

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We followed the big conspicuous red sign indicating the legendary Jerimoth Hill Trail.  We labored up the pine needle riddled trail from the main road about 50 yards and stumbled upon a survey marker.  But, alas, that was a false summit.  Undaunted, we pressed on.

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Not a summit marker...

After another 25 yards, or so, we arrived, exhausted, at Rhode Island’s true highpoint.  It was a beautiful sight to behold; encircled in trees was a hunk of granite protruding from the ground, with a cairn 2 or 3 feet high erected on top of it.  The views were grand… Nope.  There were no views.  But, dammit, we became highpointers this day!  One down, 49 to go.

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The kids on the summit! Yay! (This was also the start of Brady trying to sabotage *every* photo with some ridiculous pose or face.

The children... exhausted after the monster hike!

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Hiking, Outdoor Adventures, Travel

 

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A Bathroom Surprise

I’m waaaay behind in my blogging and much has happened.  I’m going to try to play catch-up a bit this week.  The posts may not follow a true timeline – but, no problemo.

Silly tourists doing tourist things.

Back in the first week of March, Drea & I took a long-overdue vacation to the Riviera Maya in Mexico.

Now, based on the title of the post, and the fact that we went to Mexico, you are probably making inaccurate conclusions about what this post is actually about.  Rest assured, neither of us were victims of Montezuma’s Revenge or is this post about poop at all.

We had a great time down there.  Really, it is difficult to travel to Mexico (the tourist-safe areas anyway) and not have a good time.

We spent one day walking up and down 5th Ave in Playa del Carmen.  We went to Señor Frogs for lunch.  But, the scene was pretty lame.  Apparently, during the day, Señor Frogs is a pretty family-friendly place.  It’s not until night time that it picks up.  Not interested in hanging with the families and over-paying for mediocre food & drinks, we moved on.  We then found ourselves ordering a bucket of beers at the Tequila Barrel.  We met a couple from Canada and had a nice time chatting and drinking with them.

Drea doing her Vanna impression

At some point, we had asked our bartender for the best places to hangout in Playa.  We told him we wanted the real flavor, somewhere locals would go, as well.  He told us about a few dance clubs that he would be hitting that night.  Those aren’t exactly Drea & I’s scene, but he did seem to have his finger on the pulse of the area.  So, we asked where we could get the best authentic Mexican food.  He immediately started talking about Mi Pueblo.  This excited Drea & I because we had actually eyed this restaurant earlier and thought it had potential.

Mi Pueblo was everything we could have asked for and more.  A quaint little restaurant in the heart of Playa.  Our only issue with the restaurant was that after looking over the menu for several minutes, a waiter dropped an iPad on our table that had photos of each dish.  We had already been having a difficult time narrowing down what we wanted to order because everything sounded delicious.  You would have thought that the photos might have helped.  Nope.  Exactly the opposite!  Not only did they sound good, but everything looked freaking fantastic!  All the iPad did was complicate the ordering process.  Since there were only two of us dining, it would have been incredibly wasteful for us to order one of everything on the menu.  But, that’s exactly what we wanted to do!

The door to a magical land...

After settling on dining options, Drea excused herself and disappeared behind the door that was emblazened with one Spanish word every gringo knows – baños!

Upon her return, she exclaimed “That’s not at all what I expected behind that door!”  Despite that confusing me, I ignored her pleas for me to go to the bathroom.  For the first time in ever, my bladder wasn’t acting like it was the size of a damned pea.  I enjoyed our beverages, our apps, and my main course (all of which lived up to our lofty expectations!), before even feeling the urge.

Finally, I did.

And, holy shit was she correct!

What I found was this beautiful courtyard of this stylishly appointed boutique hotel.  The bathroom was actually a flight or two down the stairs within the courtyard.  (A couple photos are below.)  I really was wishing I had been able to get a peak into some of the rooms.

I was curious about the hotel, Hotel Jungla Caribe, upon returning back to the states.  It looks well appointed, has favorable reviews on Trip Advisor,  and it’s cheap.  Drea & I actually have a wedding to attend in the area next year, and we may try to spend a night or two here.

Looking over the courtyard. (Not shown - the pool)

Love the look of the hallway...

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Travel

 

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Nerds Like Fitness Too

Over the weekend, amid conversation that revolved around what each of us were doing to get into shape, Drea pointed me to an online article written about a former co-worker of hers.  The article summarizes her transformation from a soft, out of shape young woman, to a “Master of Deadlifts.”

Star Wars Rebellion Inspired Nerd Fitness Logo

I found the article as interesting as the site’s name:  Nerd Fitness.  Aesthetically, the site has a fun comic book inspired design to it that immediately sets it apart from other fitness sites.  (Apparently, the site was recently re-designed by a member of the Nerd Fitness Community.)  Additionally, the guy that graced the header was sporting a Sox cap… so that gave him instant cred in my book.  After finishing the article, I jumped to the “About” page to learn what the deal was & who the hell Steve Kamb (the guy in the Sox lid) is.  It was immediately clear to me that I was going to be spending some time on this site, as the about page had Superman, Transformers, and assorted video game references.  Hell, the tag line is “Leveling Up Your Life.”  Like I said, not your typical fitness site.

So, over the rest of the weekend, and some of Monday evening, I spent my fair share of time combing through the site.  (According to my lady, spending time online doesn’t count as “reading,” hence the usage of the word “combing.”)  There were tons of great articles on the site.  Obviously, the majority focus on fitness (big surprise, right?), but there were also sections discussing travel & generally living large.  (I will definitely hit that topic in a future post.)  But, given the recent fitness goals I placed on myself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading a perspective in a voice that I could totally relate to.  I enjoyed brushing up on proper squat technique, something that, despite how much I ran in the past, I have never really felt comfortable with.  I’ve been inspired to mix in some of the circuits that Steve has recommended.  I’ve been reminded to focus on form while doing the exercises.

Now, I certainly don’t agree with everything he has to say.  But, I’ve never agreed with everything any one person or group has ever said.  There are always more ways than one to skin a cat.  (I like that phrase because of my general dislike of cats…)  So, just because the dude doesn’t advocate tons of cardio, doesn’t mean I am going to abandon it.  To his credit, he doesn’t say don’t do cardio.  He advocates that there are more time efficient methods to lose weight and trim up.  I can certainly see some validity to what he is saying.  But, in the end, I like running and biking.  And, since I like it, I’m going to do it as part of my fitness strategy… and because I’d like to run competitively again.  He advocates a “clean” diet.  Although, I may integrate some of the concepts into my regular diet, I love cheese and carbs too damned much to abandon them.  In the end, it’s finding what works for me.

"These aren't the abs you are looking for..." But, if you can figure out how to do 50 pullups, you might get them!

I definitely want to “look better.”  There is no secret that vanity is part of the reason for working out (putting aside all of the other benefits for a moment).  And, I love this quote from Mark Twight (trainer responsible for getting the actors in shape for the movie 300):

“Appearance is a consequence of fitness.”

I’m going to remember that quote through this transformation I am trying to undergo.  I am going to focus on fitness goals, rather than appearance goals.  I believe my current goal to lose 30 pounds by April 30th fits under that umbrella.  Losing that weight will be a consequence of my dietary changes and how much more fit I am from the time I started the process. But, going forward, the more specific goals will be things like, how much weight I can bench press, how many pullups I can do, how fast I can run x distance, etc.

I’ve definitely subscribed to the RSS feed.  I’ve checked out the forums a bit.  (God, how I have always hated vBulletin boards.  They look so damned clunky – especially in relation to the great site design for the main site.)  I haven’t signed up for them and not sure that I will.  But, apparently, they have some games, and fitness challenges that the community members run.  They run some 6 week challenges, also.  I’m already involved in a 12 week challenge. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to set short term goals that will help me achieve the 12 week goals.

So, in case you haven’t caught the drift of what I am trying to say here, I’ll spell it out in black and white.  Nerd Fitness is a cool freaking site.  Check it out.  (I’d link it again.  But, I’ve already linked to it like 5 times above.  Come on.  Don’t be lazy.)

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Fitness

 

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Breckenridge Brewery

Decisions... Decisions....

I just stumbled upon the following ad from the Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog:

It’s currently about lunchtime. And between the time, and the above ad, I was transported back to the Breckenridge Brewery, where my sister, brother-in-law, Drea & I had a great lunch on our way to the Denver Airport a couple of weeks ago.  I had a pulled pork sandwich that was fantastic.  And the beer… well, I can’t say that I have ever been disappointed with a Breck Brew.  With my sandwich, I had the Double IPA, which I believe is what “Bob” is holding in the ad.  For dessert, I had an “Avalanche.”

It was the perfect send-off for our flight.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Beer, Travel

 

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A Day in the Life

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Random

 

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Michele & Cory’s Wedding

I’m waaaaay behind in my posts… so, expect more photos & less text for the next batch of posts…

A few weeks ago (on August 12th), there was a wedding for friends in Hingham, MA.  My family, Drea, & I attended, took part in, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Rehearsal Dinner was held at Hingham Beer Works.  My brother-in-law Jon & I had gotten there early & tried a few brews.  And, if you are going there, we highly recommend the pretzel bread appetizer.  Good stuff.

The rehearsal was a good time, complete with a “best sneakers” contest.  (The groomsmen all had designed custom Nike’s.  We all voted on who designed the best shoe.)

After the rehearsal, I took advantage of a local state park & slept under the stars on a gorgeous night!

The wedding took place at the Black Rock Country Club. It was a nice ceremony with beautiful surroundings. During the cocktail hour, I started drinking one of my favorite summer drinks, Dark & Stormy’s. That led to a very large gap in the time stamps on my camera. The last nice photo was taken at 7:30pm. The shit show photos then commenced at 11:30pm!

All in all, it was a great party for a great couple.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Camping, People, Random

 

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Sandwich Mountain

This post is being done out of order. I have two weekend recaps to do, but they require much more emotional energy & time than this summit log.

Drea & I snuck away to go camping in Waterville Valley, NH for a couple of days. During that trip, we decided to hike Sandwich Mountain.

Sandwich Mountain holds a dear place in my heart. It was my first mountain hike, and the mountain I have, undoubtedly, climbed the most. My family vacationed in Waterville over many summers. For some reason, I kept going back to Sandwich for the same hike. As a result, I know the mountain fairly well & when it came to making a decision as to what to hike, it seemed almost natural to choose to do this with Drea.

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Drea hanging on for dear life

After paying the parking fee, we started the hike about 10:30 am. It was warm (high 70’s) & humid at the base. I had told Drea a few times, that most of this hike’s elevation gain is done in the first 1.2 miles on its approach to Noon Peak. But, saying it, and doing it are two totally different things.

Once past the electric station, the trail comes over a short rise to come down an embankment to Drakes Brook. After a bit of rock hopping, we were across Drakes Brook, and the trail began its steep ascent.  There really is no chance for a warm up.  This hike throws  you into it & it does not let up.  Both of us were getting beat down by the slope, but also by the humidity.  I know I said it was humid at the base, but that was a huge understatement.  Both of were dripping with sweat within a quarter mile.  Drea also hadn’t slept well the night before and she was definitely dragging on the last 1/4 mile (which might also be the steepest) of the approach to Noon.  Despite my warnings about the strenuous nature of the first 1.2 miles, she was definitely surprised at how intense it was.

However, we made it in just under an hour and took a well deserved rest on the rocky outcropping of Noon Peak.  We rested, soaked up some sun, rehydrated, and ate plums.  After 20-30 mins, we packed up and began heading up the trail again.  She was doubting that the rest of the hike would be “a walk in the park” as I was describing it.  Her exact words, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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View from Noon Peak of Waterville Valley sitting at the foot of Mount Osceola

We continued on & headed up the gradual path towards Jennings Peak.  At the trail junction with the Drakes Brook Trail, we ran into an older woman and her two dogs that we had seen in the parking area.  We talked with her & the dogs for a few minutes and began the debate as to whether to continue on, or just head down.  To Drea’s credit, she wanted to persevere on to the summit.  I’m pretty sure the easier ascent, and the site of that older woman ahead of us, helped give us the energy boost we both needed to press on.

Shortly after, we passed the side trail to Jennings Peak and decided to skip that peak and just get to the summit.  We then over took the older woman, and then another couple that we had seen in the parking area.  Our pace had definitely increased.  When we reached the summit, there were another couple of guys enjoying the view.  When they found out we had ascended via the Sandwich Mtn Trail rather than the Drakes Brook Trail, they were blown away.  They asked, “Isn’t that really steep??”  Drea confided that she never thought she would have made it to the summit while she was on that portion of the trail.  I could only smile.  Proud that she did.  Proud that we did.  Happy to just be there.

After enjoying lunch, we began our descent.  Drakes Brook Trail meanders along much of the brook.  It was certainly nice to have the calming tones of the moving water with us.   And, there were definitely some spots that were almost daring us to wade into.  But, in the end, the allure of heading for a victory ice cream treat was too much and we continued on.   There was also something on this trail that we did not have at all on the way up… a breeze!  It felt so good!   After rock hopping across the brook one last time, we made our way back to the parking lot.  Another successful hike for us.  And, one more off my list of the New England 100 Highest.

Enjoying the views from Noon Peak

I have to say, that I am grateful that Noon Peak was my first ever mountain hike, and the mountain I repeatedly climbed growing up.  It is a strenuous climb.  It was what I knew to be mountain hiking.  So, any hike that has come after that, I’ve expected to expend the same level of intensity.  I think it was much better to earn my stripes there then on an “easy” mountain trail.  So, as much as my dad did not know that he was doing me a favor, I feel like I should say, “Thanks for bringing me there to hike, Dad.”

—–Hike Stats—–

  • Date: 8/20/11
  • Elevation: 3980
  • Elev Gain: 2620
  • Mileage: 8.5
  • Trails: Up: Sandwich Mountain Trail — Down: Sandwich -> Drakes Brook Trail
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Companion(s): Drea
  • NE100 #68

* *Note:  We were technology deficient this weekend.  Neither of us had charged are camera batteries.  Drea’s iPhone died over night.  And, mine died as soon as we got to the summit.  As a result, we only had these few iPhone pics of our hike.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Hiking

 

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