Jnster: the story of an outdoors enthusiast in NYC and wherever he wanders...

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Que paso esa semana?

Ce soir c'est encore l'anniversaire de June... Bon je sais c'est pas bien j'y vais pas et je reste ici pour écrire mon blog...
Bah on peut pas tout faire, il y a deja eu une soirée samedi soir et ce soir c'était escalade déjà... Arggh, MPHC, j'ai du mal à retrouver mon niveau d'avant la mini blessure au doigt. Ca va peut etre revenir, j'ai presque réussi un nouveau 5.11 ce soir. Et tout le monde est d'accord pour dire que le niveau des voies a augmenté récemment... Ah encore des excuses... En fait j'espere surtout que en reessayant des voies que je connais bien a Murmur ca passera mieux qu'avant. Enfin bref... Qu'a t'on fait cette semaine?

Le WE dernier, après une soirée concert de Cassandra Wilson en plein central park le vendredi soir, nous sommes allés a Long Island le dimanche.
Le concert était super, avec le cougher de soleil, et un son plus musique du monde que Jazz. elle est revenue faire 2 bis alors qu'il parait que ca ne se fait pas aux US. En tout cas le public a adoré No Woman no cry, et moi aussi. Elle fait vraiment passer bcp d'émotion sur scène... Je conseille a ceux qui ne connaissent pas...

Dimanche donc, on loue une voiture avec Elise, Benoit et Magali. Super voiture encore, pour un prix dérisoire: Chevrolet Malibu 200CV, 3.5L. C'est ce qui avait de moins cher! Je n'avais jamais conduit un truc aussi puissant! Impressionant et confortable et tout... Heureusement parceque mine de rien on a fait 480km dans la journée, sans s'en rendre compte trop...
On est allés jusqu'à Montauk, l'extrémité est de l'ile avec la mer, les falaises, les mouettes etc... LE site est très joli, la ville assez banale. On s'est meme baignés sur la plage de Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind... Bien chaud a l'extérieur, mais l'eau ne devait pas dépasser 15°C... Brrr, et moi qui croyait que j'était frileux.

Le gag du jour: on mange dans un petit resto "grec américain" et on s'installe sur la terrasse du fond. Apparemment pas très contents, les serveurs se sont un peu foutus de nous, ils nous apportent couverts et assiettes en plastique et une cuisine assez moyenne, alors que les autres clients étaient plus "cattered" comme dans un vrai resto... En tous cas on a bien rigolés, et pis on a eu une excuse pour laisser un pourboire pas terrible...
Qd on pense que samedi soir a Manhattan on a eu un immense repas indien très soigné dans un resto très joli pour 10$, on perd un peu les pédales....

Après Montauk, on se balade un peu le long de la cote en voiture, puis a Sag Harbor, petit port avec des yachts et des Mercedes partout... On mange des glaces immenses pour se rattraper du resto...

Retour un peu galère à la maison entre les bouchons et les itinéraires bison futé, mais globalement ca aurait pu etre bien pire, Benoit a bien guidé... On est même récompensés par une superbe vue de nuit sur Manhattan du haut de l'étage supérieur du Queensboro bridge...

Les photos sur le site d'Elise

Ce WE nous partons 3 jours dans les Adiraondacks faire du canoe et de la rando...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hiking at Slide Mountain

Last sunday was another awesome hiking day for us.
Thanks to the Columbia Hiking club fanstastic logistics, everything was organized again: minibus, cheap price and two awesome day hike leaders.
We drove tothe Catskills mountains and it took almsot 3 hours this time.
11am is a bit late to start a hike, but still we made it, even if we knew it was going to be verrry long.
First part was a hike up to Winterberg mountain, where the vista was supposed to be beautiful. No luck, this time it was so foggy we saw nothing... Grrr.

But then we hiked longer, to Cornell mountain and finally Slide mountain. As the sky cleared up, we were lucky enough to be rewarded with magnificient views. A lot of green mountains, kind of same shape as the Vosges, but with even more trees, and the moutain range seems bigger.
And there's probably more wilderness too: they have bears, even here!

After Slide mountain, we decided to do the loop, and not to backtrack as we had originally told Mona, the first leader who backtracked with the "non warriors" :-)
After hiking about 16 miles (around 25km), we were back at the car, but Mona wasn't there!! We waited for around an hour and then went to see the rangers, who weren't actually there. We just had to call the police then, who came in 15 minutes and started filing a report for missing person. Meanwhile, we were making ourselves ready to go and rescue her ;-)
Of course, just as we were about to go for more after hours hiking, Mona arrived at the car park ;-) She had just taken her time on the way down. She was all smiling and happy! After all, nothing to worry about and, true, I have to admit, it was our fault as we changed our plans without telling her...

Overall, a very good day hike, with a great group of people, miost of them very sporty, as we walked at a steady pace the whole day!

Next time I might be leading a hike!

This coming sunday, we're going to Long Island, probably to the beach and the Hamptons!!!

Jn Posted by Hello

Elise Posted by Hello

weather getting better: a truly nice view this time Posted by Hello

Mossy rocks Posted by Hello

the beautiful foggy view Posted by Hello

Mona and Elise Posted by Hello

a waterfall Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's summer season for ipod Posted by Hello

Little Italy (Mulberry street) Posted by Hello

South street seaport Posted by Hello

South street seaport Posted by Hello

Bn Posted by Hello

Elise Posted by Hello

South street seaport Posted by Hello

City Hall Park Posted by Hello

The police tuk tuks Posted by Hello

7th avenue. It's teribly hot!!! Posted by Hello

The post office Posted by Hello

34th street Posted by Hello

Braloo in the Gloomy 17th street building! Posted by Hello

Braloo & Katia Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

Guest Stars: Braloo Und Katia

Last but not least of today's updates:
Saturday we had guests unexpected until the last minutes: Braloo and Katia, the soon to be wed, on an express visit to NYC before... relocating here. Yes, it's almost official, they're gonna live in New Jersey!

Pictures soon...

On sunday, New York's big thing was the puerto rican parade.
I had forgotten it was happening, but it was so lound and crowded we couldn't miss it : all 5th avenue blocked, no access to the MET (it was our originally planned destination), and friendly puerto ricans shouting "libertad!!!" and trying to intimidate the crowds of policemen holding the barriers. Very intense!!

Episode V: Monday happy day

On monday, it's already time to go back to...
- the car
- the outside park world
- Denver
- NYC....

We wake up early around 6am and it's again a glorious sunny day!
We start the descend to the car, and as a sign of the coldest night, we can see that Mills Lake has frozen...
Elise is a bit sick, might be because of altitude, so the hike to the car is tiresome for her...

After giving back the snowshoes to the rental store, we stop on the side of the oad with the crowd to watch the family bear, and the now world famous coyote attack, as related by Elise...
And then after all these animal emotions, we take a very scenic road up to the highest point for a pavecd raod in the USA, at 3700m. It's not that cold, so I have to go jogging up to the rock outcrop above the road. The pictures were nice, but the job killed my lungs ;-)

After this high point, it's a long drive down to Denver, with a stop at Taco Bell (Ahhh Taco Bell). Our flight is late because of a big storm in NYC. I make my usual yearly stupid-thing-in-an-aiport: they stopped me at the security because I had forgotten my crampons in my hand bagage... Arggggg! I'm furious against myself but Elise is cool and laughs about it. I'm allowed to re-recheck in so I won't lose my brand new crampons...


Episode 4: Yes!

On Sunday morning, after a good night of sleep thinking about bears, we get a good surprise: the sky is blue with few clouds and it's really sunny.
It's a good time to dry the tent, and enjoy a good breakfast under the sun... Elise's face has changed to a big smile!!
We walk back to the Loch, where I take pictures very different from yesterday. We meet people who come from the valley wearing only shorts and t-shirt!
Our next objective is an easy hike up to the Glacier Gorge campsite. It's slighlty longer than expected, but not hard as most of the path is clear of snow. We passs Mills lake, which is very photogenic with the high peaks in the back , pine trees forests and crystal blue water.
When we reach the camp, it immediately gets the highest rating of our 3 bivouacs: completely free of snow, close to the river and with a hammock!!
After a good filling meal, we decide to do the supposed easy hike up to the lakes (Blue lake and Frozen Lake). It's again harder than expected, with a lot of snow and a trail inclined sideways which prevents us drom using the snow shoes. It's even dangerous as the sun is heating the snow bridges that we walk on to cross the multiple rivers. After a long hike up, we find a frozen lake. But it's blue lake, Frozen lake is higher up. That's enough for the day! Even it's supposed to be a tourist walk in summer, it proved a decent challenge for us with these conditions. Surpising, after meeting a lot of people in the morning, there was not a soul around on the way and return to Blue Lake. Seuls au monde...


Episode 3: is the sun ever going to shine?

The night has been cold at Upper Mill Basin, but we slept very well.
Problem: in the morning, the tent is covered by snow (a thin layer) and it's snowing big fat flakes outside...
As a consequence we kind of skip the breakfast and head to the car (we had to take the rest of the food and go the other side of the valley as planned anyway).
The water I had collected from the river had been spilt on the ground. What happened? Wind? Unstable wate pouch? BEAR?
It's again 2 hours to walk to the car, and it's constantly snowing.

At the car, we turn the heater on and question ourselves. Are we changing our plans? Remember the hotels that looked so cozy down in the valley? etc etc...
A ranger tells us the weather forecast predicts the storm is going to ease on and the sun come back. Ok, let's go, stick to the plan and don't lamely go to the backcountry office to cancel the backcountry trip....
On the parking, we make a new try with the stove. That's it, we really understand how it works now...

So we head up in direction of Andrew's creek. The weather eases for a while, but when we reach the Loch, it's again very grey. it's really time for a warm meal. Trying to get protected from the wind, we're now fuel stove masters. Even a fat bird wants to have its part of Pasta a la romaine (déshydraté québecois ;-)).
We're very very slow with all this snow and bad weather. When we reach the last intersection before Andrew's creek, the path we need to take has completely vanished under the snow, without any tracks. It's time for us to wear the snowshoes and start a steep hike up along the creek. We're almost there. After a perilous bridge crossing with snowshoes, we find the camp location. It's my first bivouac ever on so deep snow, and Elise's highest bivouac ever (around 3200m). It's even colder than last night.... and the snow doesn't really stop


Episode 2: to the park

So, after turning on this ,ighty car, we drove towards the mountain.
Some navigation mistakes... Grr it's really hard to find a way with all these roads. We have a stop at subway for a big sub... The hispanic cashier thought we were German...
So, we're driving more to the West, and it doesnt look good: big dark clouds are hanging over the mountains...
We get to the National Park headquarters, where rangers welcome us witheir legendary smiles and happier than ever mood :-) These people really enjoy their job...
After almost an hour of discussions, we decide that our original plans are too ambitious because of the huge amount of snow and risk of avalanches. We won't summit a 4000+m mountain this time. When we get out of the rangers house, it's all dark outside... and pissing rain... Not very encouraging for those starting a multi day backpacking hike...
We still need to buy fuel for the stove Richard lent us, and a bear-proof box. Bear population has been in constant augmentation in the past year, so this kind of black plastic cylinder is almost compulsory...
After rearranging the content of our backpacks, we still need to drive a few minutes to bear Lake (end of the road) and start the hike. It's almost 6pm and the rain has turned to thin snow.
A ranger is quite surprised to see us here, checks our permit and says good luck. We then start the hike to our isolated backcountry camp for the night. We're at around 2800m and it's hard to breathe as it's the first real physical effort since we left NYC.
The hike is a bit longer than expected, it takes us almost 2h to reach the campsite, but at least it has stopped raining/snowing. We're completely alone in the wilderness...
Seting up the tent, matresses, sleeping bags... Usual stuff. The water I take from the river is really redish. There might be a lot of iron... But we'll have to drink it.
I'm not mastering the stove yet. Actually losing a lot of time with it. As a consequence we have a grimmy warmish dinner. It's very cold outside, around O°C...
The sun has finally set, so it's time to put all food in the boxes installed at the camp and there off to bed.


Thursday, June 09, 2005


How did the week end start??

Well actually it started early. Thursday evening, it's already the week end. As we were still in Montréal the previous Monday, it means we had worked only 3 days that week. That's really nice!
So thursday evening was spent buying energetic food and packing: comparing who has the heaviest backpack, and going with emotion through all our new mountain that we had never tried yet...
Friday morning: early alarm clock at 6am, we need to take off by 9am and fortunately I had the great idea of calling for a private car to drive us there. 35min adn 30$ later we are at LaGuardia. What a luxury, but it feels so comfortable!
First problem: the people at Frontier Airlines don't allow us to take the trekking poles in the cabin. We have to stuff them in the bags in a way or another... Grrr... The woman at the check in desk want to discuss or make an effort.... I had been used to the top quality American customer service and I feel very disapointed... Is this why I dropped my pack and poles on her??? ;-) No, I'm not so mean, it was actually because of my legendary clumsiness and fatigue at the early hours of the day. Anyway she didn't get hurt ;-)

Then 3,5 hours of a pleasant flight, with private screen TV for free for the first hour, and a light meal.

The airline planes look very nice, with their slogan beign "a whole different animal", which means the aircrafts' tails are painted with wild animals...

Frontier1 Posted by Hello

Arrival in Denver!! The mile-high city!!
It's very warm, and we can see the Colorado front range from the airport. That's really cool. Hu hu, these mountains are still very snowy...

Frontier in Denver Posted by Hello

As promised, after a long line at Budget's, we get our economy car. 15$ per day, fine, ok... "What do you want, we have a Ford Focus or a Cobalt?" --"Mmmh I don't know" -- "Take the Cobalt, it's a bit sportier" --- "Ok, then we 'll see"...
5 min later: Hey look Elise, that's our car: red flashy sport car 145Hpw (CV en français), and it's the cheapest they have!!!
Héhéhé, je suis le roi de la route...

We'll see what happens in the next post...

Our splendid Chevy Cobalt! :-) Posted by Hello

PS: Benoît (my brother, for those who didn't know) arrived in New York today. He's gonna stay for 2 months as a photograph intern! We'll be seeing him making stupid faces on the pictures. :-)

Bn in NYC (picture from last year in St Gervais)
Posted by Hello