Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays all! If you have any snow nearby, throw it for a dog!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cold One

It's been pretty cold lately at about 20-21 degrees all day with winds gusting around 15-20 mph. That basically keeps things at a nice steady state of, oh say... zero.

Cold Winter Hike

Bored to death lately with Christmas shopping mania, wrapping, and cookie making (which for the record I have absolutely no self control)-- Misty and I decided to have a ladies hike. She was thrilled that old Adam-yak wasn't around to slow us down.


Above treeline the gusts were even stronger--- so I don't have any summit pics today. Too cold to get those gloves off!

On Our Way Up

Monday, December 21, 2009

Massive Storm Hits the East Coast

And this is all we got in the North Country.

Fresh Tracks

An inch maybe five max. Pretty boring.

The Fresh Snow Sans Coats

The dog is truly in heaven though. She thinks a few inches of snow rocks just as much as one foot.

Can you spot her?

This cracks me up though. Can you spot her? That's how she looks when stalking squirrels.

Can you spot her?

Here's a close-up, because apparently black and white spots act as camouflage in the winter.

Winter Hiking Series: Why Winter Hike

If you've been thinking about doing more winter hiking, especially above treeline stay tuned for my new how-to series about winter hiking. A few weeks ago, I posted 10 Winter Hiking Tips to start you off. I plan to continue the series with: traction basics, above treeline tips, eating, drinking, and being merry while winter hiking and more! So stay tuned.

To fire up our Winter Hiking Series--- let's start with reasons to hike in the winter. Sure you may go out for casual jaunts in the winter months, but I challenge you to take it up a notch and find a peak that suits your skills and fitness level.

Less crowds

This is one of the main reasons I like to get out and hike in the winter. The parking lots are near empty, the summits are barren, and the dog can run wild along the trails.

Less biking

For me I bike a lot less in the winter. Save for a few warmer days (like 30 to 40 degrees) I mainly ride on the bike trainer. Although I heard you readers! Many of you are out biking all winter long. Rock on! And I swear I'll be biking more in the colder months myself soon. You'll are very inspiring :)

Anyways- less biking equals more hiking for me- especially in the winter months.

The silence

The silence sort of goes hand-and hand with less crowds, but certainly deserves its own mention. The silence of a winter hike is unbeatable. After a fresh snowfall you can even hear clumps of snow falling off the trees.

More animal sightings

I tend to come across more animals in the winter months. Obviously not many of the hibernating kind, but the snow makes it easier to spot tracks and often I come across more critters because of this. It probably has a lot to do with the less crowds thing too.

It's harder

Add several inches of fresh snow, extra layers in the pack, and challenging temperatures and your easy summer hike becomes much more of a challenge.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Almost Lost

Face flushed, legs shaking a bit, scenarios running through my mind---- we were about to be completely lost.

"This is really stupid," I kept thinking.

Really, really stupid. Of all the places we've been. Of all the snow swept peaks we've made it back down, all the winding trails we've figured out with no map and this is where we would be spending our first unexpected night.

After a long day of hiking in nearby Point Reyes National Seashore, we pitched a tent in a nearly deserted state park just to the north. It was the off-season for California, which really means it is the to-go season if you come from New England like we do. April is cold for Californians as my west coast living brother informed us.

We pitched our lonely tent and decided to visit the dunes before we made our dinner and before the sun set. I grabbed my camera and we headed up the dunes. The trails wove all over, with frequent trail intersections every four to five feet. I thought I was paying attention to the direction we had been heading. I stopped and looked back at each intersection like I always do.

Camping Near Sonoma

Picture from before we realized that we were lost

We took some photos before the sun set and turned back to have our dinner. We quickly lost track of our rights and lefts. Seriously, every intersection looked exactly the same, grass and sand- grass and sand- more grass and sand.

"Cute," I thought. Not only do we not have a headlamp, but we hadn't eaten and no one knew where we were. While we eventually made it to our tent that night- we had made a ton of classic mistakes. Like tell someone where you are going, when you'll be back, bring food, water and extra clothing, know your route--- the list goes on.

A friend of mine had a similar almost-situation when she and her husband decided to explore a trail in their backyard. Yes, their backyard. While they are quite experienced hikers, they soon became lost and it started to rain. Soaked and exhausted they finally made it home nearly five hours later.

It's those incredibly easy outings that perhaps are the most threatening. I always figured the first time that I would get really lost would be out in the woods somewhere. Not in some random network of dunes in California.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reasons I Still Haven't Set Up my Bike Trainer

With the recent snows and dropping temperatures it is really time to get serious about riding my bicycle on the bike trainer. But serious is always something that I've had a little problem with. Here are the reasons I have yet to set up my bike trainer

Reasons I Haven't Set up my Bike Trainer

  • The animals have taken to sleeping directly where the trainer is destined to go. And I don't know about you, but I'm not messing with that gigantic cat. He's like twice the size of Misty's in that photo.
  • I can't find my spare skewer.
  • I can't find anything on the television that would go with a one hour bike session.
  • I can't seem to accept that most of the trails are now snow covered.
  • Spinning your wheels in the living room is nothing like spinning your wheels on the road with the wind in your hair.
Okay, fess up. What are the reasons you haven't either set up or been on your bike trainer?

Out and About

Ouch! It's 8 degrees out right now with a windchill factor in the minus digits. It's really hurting and making me wonder where my face mask and ski goggles are off to.

Hiking this weekend, I realized after Misty has an initial freak-out and runs around a bit, she stays amazingly close. Here is some photographic evidence as well as some photos of the accident. The accident involves Adam-yak toppling over with my camera in his hand. Luckily he just made an incredible scene flinging snow this way and that and he is fine (and so is my camera!)

The Scene of the Accident

pointing out where he fell

The Scene of the Accident

the dog investigating it

She Walks This Close

and this is how close she really walks

She Walks This Close

She Walks This Close

It gets a little challenging with snowshoes because she is always stepping on them. Plus we're always flinging snow in her face.

She Walks This Close

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I spent the weekend procrastinating. You may have already read about it here, but I wanted to let you know that the procrastination continued on through Sunday evening. Yes, not a minute was spent on important things and instead the minutes were well spent.

We were out breaking trails in the fresh snow all weekend. It can be tough to get to several of our favorite haunts since the parking lots are seldom plowed. Often we are parking along side roads, hoping we don't get hit or towed. We also had to keep our adventuring pretty local this weekend, but I'm hoping next weekend we can whip out the sleds.

Misty Sniffing Out the Trail

Misty flippin loves the the white stuff. She bounds through it- in and around the trees, randomly pawing at it and biting at it. It's a blast to watch.

Signs on the Way

Lastly, this well placed little sign. Life Seems to Need Us. I wish it said Life Seems to Need This.

Family Fun Weekend

We've been out having a family fun weekend. Just the three of us- Adam-yak, Nuggets, and me.

Family Photo

We shouldn't have been out having fun this weekend though. I should have been doing a slew of other thing. Important things. Like these things:
  • Report writing
  • Vacuuming
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Making or buying things for Christmas
  • Determining the fundamental frequency if given a wavelength and the speed of sound
  • Ya know boring stuff like that
Instead here is what we did do:
  • Went hiking everyday
  • Watched Nuggets run in circles because she loves the snow
  • Took photos
  • Drank hot chocolate
  • Watched Elf... um twice
And you know what? I kind of don't mind that I slacked off. All that other stuff is still going to be there, waiting for me to get to it.

Hope you all had a fun weekend!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wool: Pros and Cons

Earlier this week I posted reasons that I've recently gone wooly. In that post I revealed to you several important things about both myself and wool. One is that I like wool clothing. Two is that I have sweaty feet-- and thus I wear wool socks so they don't feel so sweaty. Three is that I have some shirts that smell-- and thus I now wear wool shirts to prevent the odor.

Now, you may be wondering is does Betty Mountain Girl have any other useful information to disburse or is she basically describing the reason why she didn't make it into a college sorority? In fact I do! There are even more reasons why to wear wool than those I described. I've compiled a list of pros and cons to help you decide if you should join the wooly clan.

Wearing Wool

Misty Wearing Some Wool- okay they're just my Smartwool Socks


It keeps you warm.

It's old school warmth. For years explorers, skiers, and wood stackers have stayed warm by wearing wool.

It's water resistant

Basically, the outer layer of wool has it's own waxy coating providing some water resistance.

It's odor-resistant

Umm... I think I've gone into that one enough.

It's flame resistant

That's a new one for me. Never tried it, just sort of taking Ibex's word for it.

It's sustainable

Wool regrows. That's a wonderful thing. Plus, have you ever heard the process to make synthetic materials? It involves a lot of machinery using a lot of energy.

It's biodegradable

Whereas that synthetic material will be around for way, way too long.

-------------------------- --------------------


Be careful washing

Even though there has been drastic improvements to prevent shrinking, I still sometimes get some shrinkage. Plus, always pulling it out of the laundry can be a pain.

They don't wick quite as well as synthetics

I don't know the exacts on this one, but I do know that wool does wick- just not as well as synthetics.

The Dog's List

The dog is insisting on the following from Santa. I've had to put my foot down against the Doggles though.

Some tasty, meaty treats from the Urban General.

If you haven't stumbled across doggles yet than you're in for a freaky surprise. Yes, it stands for dog plus goggles-- equaling doggles. I think they're pretty funny, but Misty won't ever be wearing them (okay maybe just for some hilarious photos, but that's it!)

Some other items I spotted on Misty's X-mas list:

  • A dog tag with her phone number on it from here
  • A pair of boots for above treeline summits this winter from here
  • A fresh dog bed from Walmart (she stinks those up fast!)
  • Need some more dog ideas? Try Phetched a wonderful dog blog.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Santa

Photo from JoeyLu

Dear Santa:

Remember that pink bike I was eyeballing a few months ago? No problem because I've included a picture of it here (see above).

I found this beautiful vintage bike- touched up with all this great pink fabulousness. I mentioned to someone who says that they know you and they said they would get word to you. I would really, really like a vintage blue (or silver!) bike with pink wheels and tires and pink tape around the handlebars.

I'm just a little worried since I haven't seen your, um, little helper working on a bike these past few months and, well, Christmas is right around the corner. If this may have slipped your mind- no worries! You could always, say, start working on such a bike and get it to me for Valentine's Day.

Just sayin.

I hope that the pay-back I dished out for being toilet papered camping this summer isn't influencing your decision this year. Or that the extra canned good that I snuck into Misty's backpack on my last hike hasn't made you think twice about that pink bike.

Anyway looking forward to X-mas and a few days off,


Top Ten Hiking Rules

I don't know about you, but I've always been a rule breaker. In fact, I've found that it is just the idea of someone telling me what to do that makes me want to break the rule. So if you are like me, you should take these rules as suggestions.

Read yesterday's post about ten winter hiking tips. These are ten general hiking tips.

Out of Focus Hike

Tell someone where you are going

Alright we all completely know this right? Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. I actually abide by this. All the time. I mountain bike alone frequently, so I've run into mechanicals that I can't fix and have gotten really, really lost enough times to require a pick up.

One time I told my boyfriend that I was going mountain biking and that I would be back or give him a call saying I was all done by 2 p.m. After my bike ride I decided to do some last minute Christmas shopping and then visit a friend. I came home at around 8 p.m. to a very worried Mr. Mountain Man .

"Where the heck have you been?" he asked.

"Oh crap, I forgot to call. Oh my gosh did you call the police?" I asked.

Turns out he didn't. I was pretty mad. I could have been out there with a broken leg waiting for Mountain Man to call in the troops. Mr. MM said he should have called, but so should have I. Moral of the story. If you tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back, tell them what to do when you don't get back on time. And for yourself. Remember to check back in!

Be Calculated

This one is a little harder for me to describe. Here goes... If you are going to try out a new trail or mountain that you haven't been on before be very calculated. Read lots of maps and check out online if there are any funky trails/parking lot/river things going on that might impede your day. Don't try a new mountain after a fresh snowfall. Don't come down an unfamiliar trail in the dark. Try new trails and such, but be sure to only have one different variable at a time (eg. fresh snow, unfamiliar trail, night hike, new hiking partner, kids on hike, etc.)

Family of Boots

Have Multiple Ways to Start Fire

If you bring waterproof matches, also bring a zippo, and some treated cotton balls and a flint and a... you get the point. Have a bunch of different ways to start a fire. If you are hiking in a group everyone should be carrying several ways to start a fire.

Bring Extra Clothes

Extra layers for summiting or unexpected stops. Bring a hat, gloves, rain gear, and extra socks even on the warmest summer day.

Bring Extra Water and Ways to Get Water

Bring more than enough water and at least one or two other ways to treat water. In case you have to spend the night unexpectedly you should have a stove which you can use to boil water. A water filter, iodine, or other water treatment methods are also nice backups.

Bring a Map/Compass and Know the Terrain

This is so important and the most frequently broken rule. Take this scenario. If you are heading to a mountain that you have hiked before you might think- I don't need a map. What happens if you make a wrong turn down a trail and realize it two hours too late? If you have map there may be another route back you can take.

Maps help for emergency ways back down to roads too. One icy cold winter day my friend Sonya and I planned a ten plus mile hike over several small peaks. We were heading up the second mountain when her hip started to bother her. By the time we summited she was barely hobbling along and we needed a bail out plan. We whipped out the map and tried to head down a tiny side trail to a road where we could arrange a pick up. Without the map we would have truly been in a pickle.

Bring Light

Bring a headlamp or if you are old-school a flashlight. I've been on way too many accidental night hikes. They're very useful to have in the backpack. Extra batteries doesn't hurt either.

Bring a First Aid Kit

A few basic supplies and a little ingenuity can manage most outdoor issues.

Bring a few Mountain Girl Supplies

Here are a few things in my hiking backpack and my camelbak for long trips. A multi-tool/ pocket knife---endlessly useful. Duct tape either wrapped around a pen (for emergency writing-jk) or a water bottle. Duct tape is also endlessly useful.

Emergency Shelter

I don't always bring my lightweight tent, but if I need to spend the night I always have ideas and options. I keep a small tarp in my backpack that I've had to whip out on a few backpacking trips. I also know I can use a combination of my extra clothing and gear and a few pine boughs to get the job done. Taking a quick survival class that covers emergency shelters should make you feel a little better about this one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Ten Winter Hiking Tips

Piper Mountain

I'll admit that the first two months of winter are pretty fun. As you may have read in a previous post, we get some mountain sledding in and a little bit of winter hiking. Here are some of my top ten favorite tips.

Bring Extras

Bring extra hats, extra mittens, extra water, extra base layer, extra everything. When conditions get dangerously cold having back ups becomes crucial. I've had hats fly off on top of a mountain (for real!), water bottles freeze shut, or my feet get soaked enough times to always carry extras.

Put Hot Water in your Water Bottle

Put hot water in your water bottle for day hikes and overnight trips. Hot water will take longer to freeze as you hike during the day. Also, it's great at keeping you warm in the tent.

Insulate your Water Bottle

Insulate your water bottle with either a zip water bottle insulator or with an old pair of wool socks.

Put your Water Bottle in Upside Down

Are you sick of water bottle tips yet? You can see where my main concern goes in the winter. If you put your water bottles in the sides of your backpack put them in upside down. This keeps the screw-on top away from the elements, which keeps it from freezing shut.

Bring an Extra Camp Stove or Food

I went on a group backpacking trip up Mt. Madison once and only one stove out of five worked. It sucked. It would have sucked even more if we had only one stove to begin with. Cold, really really cold weather can cause even the best stoves to have problems.

Avoid Getting too Hot

When your freezing your buns off you want to be warm right? Me too, but the trick is keeping yourself from becoming too hot. If you get too hot, you'll start to sweat and even if dressed appropriately being soaked in sub-zero temperatures stinks. I like to keep just a little bit chilly vs. hot and sweaty on my hikes.

Undress Quickly

If you are stopping for an extended period of time, it doesn't hurt to get out of your wet or slightly damp clothes as soon as possible.

Start Early

Start really really early. Almost every good size winter hike should start in the dark, because inevitably something will take longer than expected. Longer drive, longer hike, deeper than expected snow. It's better to be in the dark when you are still feeling fresh, both mentally and physically than when you're tuckered out.

Keep an Eye Out on the Summit

There are a thousand reasons you should be keeping your eyes peeled on the summit. The one I'd like to point out for winter hiking is to keep an eye on the trail that you summited on. Winter- the snow and ice- makes the tops of even familiar mountains look foreign. Add a few dozen tracks leading this way and that and you might just wander back down the wrong side of the mountain. Let's stay away from doing that one.

Abide by the Ten Most Common Hiking Rules

I'm not sure I've ever posted about these. You'll have to check back in for those. Hey, did you know you can subscribe to my blog via email? Sign up to the left. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reasons to Swear

F$#%, S#$%, D#$%

It's finally been proven! Swearing helps you avoid pain.

It is completely hysterical really. Researchers had students dunk their hands in icy cold water and swear or dunk their hands and not swear. Apparently the ones who swore felt less pain. (read the article here)

I knew there must have been some psychological reason I suddenly had a potty mouth when racing mountain bikes.


This is Misty dropping an F-bomb because of the icy cold snow. Apparently she's been reading the same research.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fresh Covering

This is her fav

We've been so busy lately. Busy with boring things that really don't matter. Such as typing endless reports and papers. Driving to and from the city. And being generally silly with boring real-life stuff.

I was happy when I looked out the window and found this fresh covering. We've had snow in the mountains for weeks, but this is the first snow for us sub-mountain dwellers.

This is her fav

Snow is Misty's absolutely most favorite thing. She's from Tennessee originally, so it is kind of weird that she likes this white stuff. Yes, she wears a jacket when it is down right frigid. I've had several dogs before, but none shiver as badly as she does when the weather hits the teens. Plus, she loves to hike above treeline in the winter.

This is her fav