Exploring the Northeast Kingdom of VT – Day 1

For MLK weekend, my friend Margaret and I decided we wanted to take a mini trip since we both had Monday off. I got Margaret into mountain biking this past fall (she even bought my old mountain bike after I upgraded mine!) and wanted to give fat biking a try! We decided a weekend of riding at Kingdom Trails would be awesome. We drove up to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont on Friday after work, grabbed a quick dinner at Madison Brewing in Bennington, drove through some immense fog and rain, finally arriving at our rental on Lake Willoughby in Westmore, VT.

Since it had rained all day on Friday, the trails were closed on Saturday. The temps had dropped and it was also snowing most of the day. Even though this derailed our riding plans a bit, we decided to make the most of it by exploring the Northeast Kingdom. Thankfully we had Margaret’s husband’s Subaru so we thought nothing of driving around in the ice and snow.

Our first stop was Wildflower Inn for a delicious breakfast and bottomless coffee.

Wildflower Inn is located right next to the bike shop where Margaret was renting her fat bike, The Hub, so after breakfast, we stopped by to confirm the rental.

Next up: Hill Farmstead Brewery! We drove about ~40 min from East Burke to Hill Farmstead. Apparently, a lot of others had the same idea. The route involved many hills on slippery back roads, so we were thankful for the Subaru–Thanks Jeff! We saw a Prius get stuck on a snowy hill and we were impressed when we saw they made it to Hill Farmstead!

The delicious Grassroots Brewing Convivial Suaréz

Next up: Kingdom Brewing! Located WAY up in Newport, VT not far from the Canadian border, Kingdom Brewing was a gem! They had some delicious beers, with a lot less hype than Hill Farmstead. The taproom was relaxing and quiet, and we each enjoyed a sampler.

There were great views from the brewery, too.

We stopped for some groceries on the way home and made delicious tacos at our rental before turning in for the night.

The view of Lake Willougby near our rental

We wanted to be rested for the following day’s adventures! Stay tuned…

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Guide to Layering for Winter Hiking

This post is a follow-up to last week’s post about What to Wear Fat Biking in Cold Weather. Last year my friend Skyler and I hiked in the Catskills on a frigid day. I meant to use this graphic last winter but never got around do it. As I type, the wind is howling outside my window and the windchill is -10, so now is a good time as ever!

The key to staying warm during outdoor activities in the winter is layering. Base layers, or what you’re wearing against your skin are very important for retaining heat. A good base layer is made of either merino wool, which can be expensive, or a synthetic material, which is cheaper. I always wear a fleece-lined long-sleeve midweight base layer over the lightweight layer for extra warmth. On this particular day, I was wearing five total layers on top!

  1. Tank top (synthetic)
  2. Long sleeve base layer (merino)
  3. Mid-weight long sleeve (synthetic)
  4. Insulating down-tech fleece jacket (down-filled core with sweater fleece)
  5. Prima loft hooded jacket (lightweight, synthetic insulating outer layer)
  6. An optional sixth layer would be a shell, however, on this particular day, it was not wet enough to warrant a rain jacket or shell. However, I’d advise to always keep one in your pack during hikes!

On the bottom, you can layer similarly. I had on a mid-weight merino baselayer pant and my regular hiking pants on top of them. I also layered with a pair of synthetic sock-liners under a thick pair of wool socks, along with insulated winter hiking boots. A knit hat, a fleece neck warmer, and waterproof insulated gloves were also key! Hiking can be hard work, so being able to remove layers when you get too warm is important to help regulate temperature. You don’t ever want to be hiking in wet, sweaty clothes in cold temperatures.

As always, check the weather forecast before you head out. Also carry proper traction for your hike, such as microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes. Sometimes it’s best to bring all three, which can make a heavy pack!

Check out some of one of my other posts about winter hiking:

Adirondack Hiking Safety Tips

 

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Adventures with an Instant Pot

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas! If you haven’t heard, Instant Pots are all the rage right now. It is a 7-in-1 multi-cooker that acts as a slow cooker, saute pan, pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and warmer.

It also has 14 smart built-in programs. With a touch of a button, you can set it to make Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Searing, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize & Pressure Cook. I have a slow cooker that I love using. But I think the IP will soon take it’s place because the IP is like a speedy version of a slow cooker! It can even cook frozen meats!

So far I’ve used my IP to make quinoa, a pot roast, and BBQ chicken chili, all of which came out delicious. Everything so far has been really easy, although I must admit at first I was a bit nervous about my IP exploding under pressure. However, there are many built-in safety features that prevent any mishaps.

To my surprise, these pots have a cult-like following. There are social media groups dedicated to them, one with 1 million+ members. To have this amount of support for a cooking method/product is comforting because whenever I am stumped on an IP issue, I just head to the internet. There are thousands of blogs and how-tos written about this thing, so it’s very easy to find what you’re looking for. The IP may be intimidating at first, but read the manual once and you will be a lot more comfortable the next time you use it.

Here are some posts I found helpful when learning about my IP.

Instant Pot 101 for Beginners: facebook group
10 Things to Know About Your Instant Pot
When to Use Quick Release or Natural Release
Skinny Taste Instant Pot Recipes

I have a feeling this contraption is going to change my cooking. As someone who hates meal prepping, I’m already finding the IP as an easy solution! Do you have an IP? Feel free to share some of your favorite tips and recipes down below!

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What to Wear Fat Biking in Cold Weather

Yesterday the high was about 8 degrees F. Despite the frigid temps, the sun was shining and I wanted to get outside. Many people think going out in this type of the weather is nuts, but if you have the proper clothing you can ride comfortably! The key is layers.

Here’s what I wore yesterday:
EMS Excel Thermo ½ Zip Hoodie 
EMS zip-up sweater fleece
Columbia Sportswear Voodoo Falls 590 Down Jacket – 550 Fill Power
Balaclava/face mask
Avalanche Mogul fleece-lined leggings
Pearl Izumi mountain biking shorts (over the tights)
Ski socks
Khombu insulated, waterproof boots w/ hand warmers inside the boots. Next time I would wear my hiking gaiters with my boots since the laces on my boots don’t go all the way up and snow can get in. Thankfully the snow wasn’t too deep yet so it wasn’t much of an issue.
Louis Garneau Bigwill Gloves -These gloves were probably the best investment out of all the above gear! They were expensive but totally worth it since they kept my hands warm the entire ride! I was really worried about my fingers freezing but they were toasty warm in these gloves.

I was also planning on wearing my riding glasses, but they were fogging up a lot so I ditched them. I usually have the same problem with ski goggles when wearing a face mask when skiing.

I rode for about an hour. The conditions at North Bethlehem are great for fat biking right now!

I have studded tires on my bike for the winter, however, they probably weren’t needed here. It was nice to have them, though!

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Goal for 2018: SRT Run/Hike 50K

As many of you know, I am a very goal-oriented person. I like having bucket life list and checking items off as I accomplish them. I can say I’ve completed five marathons, hiked all 46 high peaks, and even accomplished the professional goal of becoming an RD. But what’s next? I’ve been struggling with what my next goal should be. I’ve always wanted to run a 50K, but do I really want to run for that long when I’m just not into running that much anymore? How about hiking? Enter the Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run/Hike 50K.

Jona and I have been talking about doing this event for the past few years. Finally, we both decided to commit to it! In Sept. 2018 we will be hiking (and running) our way through 30 miles of the Shawangunks in the Catskills. The best thing about this race is that there is a generous cutoff time for the racers, which means we’ll have all day and until midnight to hike/run the 30 miles. Bring it on!

Back in November, we both decided to attend the STR training hike to see what we’d be in for if we do in fact sign up for this race. On a beautiful November day, we drove down to Ellenville to meet up with the Race Director and a few other people interested in running the race. We hiked a five-mile portion of the course as an out and back and it was gorgeous! We hiked to the Roosa Gap Fire Tower, which offered a great view of the Shawankgunks and Catskills.

There were great views from the top of the tower! How come this one isn’t part of the Fire Tower Challenge?

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Roosa Gap Fire Tower via the Shawangunk Ridge Trail
Distance: 10 mi RT
Time: ~5 hrs, 30 min

It was a great hike and it had Jona and I looking forward to the 50K in September!

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