Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Pilot Mountain NC

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Frigid Weather thwarts the sole climbing item of our trip to North Carolina

Looking out at the upland plateau from Pilot Mountain's ridge

Looking out at the upland plateau from Pilot Mountain’s ridge

A few years back, Ra and I made our first trip to North Carolina. With family now ensconced there, it is likely we will be visiting the state more frequently each year, so we figured it wise to get to know the climbing options available in the region. After visiting with our kin for a few days, we set off in search of vertical playgrounds. Our second stop placed us in the town of Pilot Mountain, near its namesake prominence, a location we hadn’t known of but had spotted from the highway. After spending the night in town, I’d garnered one significant fact: there is climbing on the mountain, but it is strictly verboten on the outstanding summit promontory itself. At the time, this was a big turn-off, enough to send us onward, looking elsewhere. We never even drove up the road to the upper ridge to glance at the permitted climbing area.

On this trip, we gave it a second glance. What a glance it was, revealing how very shortsighted we’d been. That main promontory still beckons – and it’s a shame climbing isn’t allowed there – but the scraps left us vertical crawlers is well worth the trip.


Castle Rock

Monday, February 1st, 2016

View of Blue Mountain from Castle Rock

With a still-minimal snowpack, conditions are optimal for exploration, so this weekend, Ra and I headed for a small summit near Blue Mountain Lake. We were to find that, while still far from normal depth this winter, the snow around that part of the country is quite a lot deeper than our neck of the woods.


Rockin’ at Little Falls

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Way too much snow still on Crane. Ra and I escaped to the southlands for a chance to touch real rock. Little Falls is slightly closer than the Gunks, so that was the place to go.


We met Bruce Monroe there, already tuggin’ a line on Jeff Loves Eileen. This would be Bruce’s first climbing since the onset of a hip injury way back in September. He did fine, experienced no real problems, and even tied into the sharp end and led the route!

We saw a few other familiar faces there as well: Justin, the man who organized the Southern Adirondack Festival back in 2011, and Mitch, who seems to get around a lot, at least where climbing is concerned. We also met a couple new folks, Kevin and JP, who had come along from Mexico with Mitch, and were sampling a bit of NY-style climbing.

With rain and continuous 40-degree temps in the forecast, I’m putting the ice tools away. Soon, the wire brushes will come out of storage and I’ll be poking around Crane’s cliffs, looking for that next great project…

NC Climbing Trip Part 3b: Around Table Rock

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Robin and I had just finished a 5 pitch line of unknown affiliation somewhere in the vicinity of the North Ridge. Or maybe My Route. We weren’t sure, but we had had a blast doing it. There was plenty of daylight left for exploration.

The summit of Table Rock Mountain.

Looking across Linville Gorge.


NC Climbing Trip Part 3a: First Climb at Table Rock

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

I’ve broken up the  two days & nights we spent at Table Rock into two parts. This first part covers the one long route we did here; the next part will cover what we did with the rest of that Saturday and our explorations before pulling out Sunday afternoon.

The rainbow at the end of a long and winding road…Table Rock.


NC Climbing Trip Part 2: Stone Mountain

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

If you want to see how the climbing trip started go to: Part 1 Moore’s Wall

Danger! Danger! 


Carolina *Climbing* on my Mind…Part 1: Moore’s Wall

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012


Robin and I are back from a week and a half in North Carolina. We spent a weekend at the Outer Banks, enjoying warmth, sunshine, and the ocean before turning westward and tackling a few of the myriad climbing areas the state offers.

I won’t bore you with the details of our first weekend, suffice to say we had a grand time on the Outer Banks. Most of you are interested in technical climbing, and there isn’t one iota of that out there.

For those climbers who plan to visit North Carolina, I will mention one caveat. Outdoor tourism-wise, the state can be divided into two regions: the coast, and the western Mountains. Between them lies a whole lot of driving past swamp, agriculture, and the occasional city. If you surf, it might be OK to combine both venues and deal with the 6 to 8 hours of driving in between. Otherwise, just head west. Asheville or Winston-Salem are good jumping-off points for vertically-minded travelers.

Gimme Moore!


Fully caffeinated, we drove from Durham to Moore’s Wall in about 2 hours. The weather was exceptional: cloudless blue sky, comfortably cool, and a scant breeze. Our directions were exemplary; with nary a hitch we wound around the access road, marveling at the view of the cliffs, and arrived at the climber’s parking lot.


Apparently, early to bed is mandatory in North Carolina.


Sackets Harbor

Monday, May 21st, 2012


Our 30th anniversary trip brought us eventually to the Thousand Islands region, approximately the point where Lake Ontario feeds into the St. Lawrence River and downriver (northeast) for another fifty miles or so. After a lot of driving (and our stop at Eagle Falls), we passed an unremarkable night in Watertown, then moved on to the first stop along our St. Lawrence odyssey, Sackets Harbor.

Vermont, Along Rt. 100

Friday, May 6th, 2011


We’re here in Vermont, taking in the sights. So far, a lot of the idyllic Vermont countryside, some rugged, schist-sided hillwalking, and a search for moose, in vain. We did however, see a lot of signs, including of course the ever-popular “Moose Xing” ones. But also:


We stopped at a pretty waterfall, where we noticed an old, abandonned log road skewing up toward the top of the falls. Away we went, up that old road. Near the height-of-land, I noticed the mega-scat littering the ground and saw the deep impressions left by the moose’s tracks.

We pressed on, slightly apprehensive, as the log road turned to follow along the stream. After awhile, we came to a fresh line of red paint blazes running uphill away from the creek, and since it looked like we might get a view from up there, chose to follow the blazes.


At the top of the ridge, we didn’t have an open view, but we did find one more sign of our elusive giant quarry. An old rub gave us some idea of just how tall these critters are.

The paint marks led us down the ridge via a steep, damp slope, often cluttered with pieces of schist or obstructed by small cliffs of the stuff. No climbing on these crumbly, sharp-edged outcrops, the ones we walked by were too mossy, wet, and broken to make any attempt.

However, as we drove farther north along Highway 100, I did spot one sweet-looking crack beside the road. It looked as if somebody has cleaned it up recently, and I think it is on public land (no trespassing signs, anyway), so perhaps someday I’ll get back and take a shot at it.

We made it pretty close to Montpelier today, ate great pizza at the Zachary’s in Waterbury, then walked it off on 3 miles of the Waterbury Recreational “trail” (really,walking along a couple back roads). Tomorrow, we’re heading to the capital and the surrounding environs for another day of touring and hiking. Maybe we’ll get to see that moose.

Burlington, VT Trip

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

No pictures again!

Robin & I took a run up to Burlington, in part to assuage Ra’s traveling addiction, and in part to drop in on Jamie McNeill’s workplace and have a look around. My vast network of travel-savvy friends and natives (i.e. Bruce Monroe, and the aforementioned Jamie) told me the city was a nice place to visit, walk the streets, and shop around.

We didn’t expect a sea-change in weather when we first planned the trip. At this time of year, you take whatever weather you get, and we got a lot of it. The temperature was mild to start, but rising winds hinted at on oncoming switch. It was still raining when we arrived in Burlington, but snow was already mixing in as we pulled into the parking garage. The wind carried a cutting edge now, so we bundled up before heading outside.

Church Street is a pedestrian thoroughfare, with occasional vehicular traffic crossing through at the intersections. A mix of privately-run and corporate businesses line each side of the street, and near the center, a mini-mall provides a respite out of the weather. Robin and I wandered through jewelry stores, kitchen stores, Christmas shops, and clothiers, our atypical tastes finding enough assortment to keep us interested, then we came to the Outdoor Gear Exchange Seasonal Outlet. Being related to my friend’s place of employ, we stepped in and browsed awhile before asking after the main store. The “Mother Ship”, as it is described, lies up the road a piece, on Cherry Street. Looking around this temporary extension, it was clear we were in for a treat later.

Travel had taken a wee longer than expected, so we were hungry. However, we didn’t want to stop and dine just yet, and we were at that point in Christmas shopping where the outflow starts to strangle the bankroll, if you know what I mean. In short, we needed a quick, cheap spot of food. Fortunately, a tattered gift card matched a nearby Starbucks (thank you, Mom!), and we soaked up some hot caffeine while sharing a small breakfast sandwich, decent if unremarkable, and satisfying enough to carry us another few hours without pinching the account at all.

Ra wandered an Old Navy store while I ran back to move the car. We hadn’t looked at the parking rates, but that pesky account thing made me a pinchpenny. The first two hours are on Burlington; after that the current rate is $1 per half hour. This isn’t bad, but one can circumvent the bill by shuffling in and out regularly, and while the place gets pretty full, there is usually a space to be found somewhere.

Rejoined, we trekked up to the “Mother Ship” for a looksee. And what a place it is. This is Outdoor Gearhead Paradise: new, used, demo; if it’s outdoor stuff you dream about, then you’ve got to visit this store. Give yourself plenty of time to wander the aisles and mingle with the crowd of enthusiastic fellow adventurers that I suspect must always be there. Something like three days should do it.

We spent over an hour in there before our stomachs finally drove us out again, seeking real food. It was pressing close to 3:30; we found out that many of the diners and cafes nearby close at 3. Fortunately, Henry’s Diner, lying just down the hill on Bank Street, remained open until 4, so we slipped in under the wire. A good thing, too: Ra had one of the best and biggest Sourdough BLTs we’ve ever seen, and I had a wonderful little cheeseburger and fries. The waitress was friendly and unhurried despite our late arrival, and no one complained when I disappeared briefly to do that car-shuffling thing once more.

Having satisfied our hunger, we went back to the streets. Now, everything was covered in snow, and the snow covered a skim-ice that made walking adventurous. The evening plans were definitely going to change. We ran back to Outdoor Gear Exchange to try on a pair of boots and chat briefly with Jamie. After a short visit, Jamie had to get back to work and we had to consider our options.

We knew what was going on outside would make the drive home more interesting than either of us cared to ponder, so we couldn’t stay. Plans to visit the local indoor rock gym would have to await another day. Robin and I walked to the car, a tad too late to avoid donating one dollar to the Burlington parking cause, and proceeded homeward, driving across back streets muffled in snow until we finally connected with Route 7 and joined the masses exiting the city. It would be a long, tense drive home, but we made it safely; now all we have to do is get another chance to go back and spend a real day wandering that fantastic store…