Hiking Alander Mountain in the Berkshires

On Monday, Margaret and I hiked Alander Mountain in the Berkshires, a nice little hike about an hour from Albany. I have never hiked in the Berkshires and was excited to try something new! The trailhead is located in South Egremont, Massachusettes in Mt Washington State Forest. The first few miles were a nice walk along gently rolling terrain. There was slick ice underneath a few inches of new snow, which made wearing microspikes necessary!

Unfortunately, the snow was very soft and packable, which caused it to ball up under our microspikes. Not comfortable! The trail gets slightly steep after a few miles, but nothing too terrible!  After about an hour and a half of hiking, we came to the cabin.

The cabin is located right below the summit of Alander, which has some great views of the Berkshires from the top.

 

It was chilly and windy at the summit, so we only stopped briefly for a snack before heading back down. After the hike, we stopped for a late lunch at Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington. I really love spending time in the Berkshires and definitely need to explore the area more since it’s such a short drive away.

Alander Mountain
Distance 6.2 mi RT
Elevation 2,240 ft
Ascent 1,326ft
Time 2 hrs, 56 min including stops

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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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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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Hiking Mount VanHoevenberg – 10.14.17

Last month when my sister came up from NJ for her birthday weekend in Lake Placid, she wanted to do an easy hike with great views. I suggested Mount VanHoevenberg! It was only about 4 miles RT and boasted great views of the high peaks. The trailhead is located on South Meadows Rd, which is a dirt road off of Loj Road in Lake Placid. There were cars lined up along Loj Road (busy day in the high peaks, I guess), but there weren’t many on South Meadows. We parked, met up with my parents who were joining us for the hike, and set off!

My dad loves to hike

The trail starts out easy. It curves around a pond and then starts to climb. It wasn’t ever too steep.

It took us about 2 hours to get to the summit. It was a cloudy day, but there were still some great views! It must be incredible on a clear day. If I were hiking my usual hiking speed, I probably could have summited in an hour.

Overall, it was a fantastic hike! I would highly recommend it to anyone just starting out, or if you are looking for an easy, quick hike in the High Peaks/Lake Placid area with some fantastic views.

Mount Van Hoevenberg
Distance: 4.5 mi RT
Total time: 3 hrs, 43 minutes (including stops)
Ascent: 915′
Elevation: 2,922′

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Hike to Allen Interior and Madera Hammock Review

 

This weekend I joined my friend Skyler on his hike to Allen Mountain, one of the 46 high peaks. I hiked Allen back in 2014 and really enjoyed it so I tagged along with Skyler. We met at 4:30am at Exit 12, arrived at the Allen trailhead on Upper Works road around 6:15 am. We were hiking by 6:30. An early start is always good with Allen, as the total mileage is about 19 miles.

 

There is a brand new suspension bridge over the Opalescent River. Three years ago we had to wade across!

Most of the first 5.5 miles are on old logging / mining roads, which makes for a pleasant hike on a nice day.

The weather was predicted to be in the upper 80s! Rare for this time of year in the Adirondacks.

We reached the interior trailhead for Allen around 9:15AM. I decided to stop here and set up my Madera Hammock in a secluded spot and wait for Skyler to hike Allen. I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago and it’s still not in the best shape, so I had no problem waiting. I was selected to be Madera Ambassador this summer so I was so excited to finally set up my Azul Hammock!

The hammock was so easy to set up. You just find two sturdy trees, wrap the strap around the tree and pull it through the loop at the end and clip the hammock in. So easy.

The hammock folds into it’s own pocket, so it’s small enough to fit into a day pack.

I relaxed in my hammock for a few hours while Skyler hiked Allen. It was so peaceful.

Want you own Madera Hammock? Use discount code JMAS40 for 40% any hammock! 

He got back around 3pm and we hiked back out. It seemed to go on forever, the the trail was gorgeous.

We got back to the car a little after 5pm. It was a long, but beautiful day in the Adirondacks.

Total Distance: ~11 mi RT to Allen Interior trail head
Time: 9 hrs, including hammock time while Skyler hiked

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