Thursday, March 31, 2011

Featured Artist: Mystic Wynd

Karen of MysticWynd has something for everyone in her shop. Her shop offers items appropriate for work, that appeal to a fashionista, and more exotic jewelry for a trend setter. There is even something for a bride and her bridal party. If you are a nature girl like myself, you will definitely find something you like. She incorporates natural material, like wood and stones, and several of her pieces were designed with a natural subject in mind, using colorful beads and creative titles.

Her Saddle Up cuff was designed organizing the beads to look like a horse and saddle saddle, with saddle horns, stirrups and the briddle.

Perhaps someone special would like this Heaven's Rose Rosary in their Easter Basket this year. It is made with malachite and agate beads with a wood and silver crucifix.

Get excited for spring with Karen's Gardener's Copper Charm Bracelet with Flowers. The beads are made of polymer clay, lucite, and glass. The copper charms are of gardener's tools and butterflies.

Follow her blog here

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mt. Colden via Lake Arnold

The calendar may say that it is officially Spring, but it's still Winter up in the Adirondacks. Although I just went up Mt. Colden in snowshoes with my Microspikes stashed in my pack the hike does not count towards a Winter 46 badge, which at this point I don't plan on working towards anyway.

The weather was perfect for winter-like conditions. Cold enough but not too cold, and some clouds but not overcast. I did not have a beautiful hiking day all winter, except the first few miles of Big Slide which had turned to overcast and snow by the time we had reached the summit. I had waited several months for a sunny winter conditions hike, and finally I got one and it was spectacular.

We were geared up and on our way by 7:45 am, leaving from the Adirondack Loj. The two miles to Marcy Dam went quickly. We stopped briefly at the dam to shed some layers and snack. The sky was clear enough to see our destination from the dam - what a beautiful mountain!

Colden in the back behind Phelps, partially in the clouds

We took the the trail towards Avalanche Pass for about 1.1 mile before breaking off onto the Lake Arnold trail. From there it was only 1.5 miles to Lake Arnold with some gradual climbing. At Lake Arnold we took another break before taking the L. Morgan Porter trail to the summit. The grade was steep in places, flat in others. I was flipping my heel lifts up and down quite a bit before I decided to leave them down until closer to the summit. After about half a mile from Lake Arnold we geared up for the expected high winds at the summit and predicted -22 degree windchill. This is where hiking in the cold is tricky. You need to protect yourself from the elements but remain cool enough so that you don't sweat. While there were strong winds as we crossed the Alpine Zone they were not as bad as predicted. I was so afraid that I'd have my first great views in winter conditions and be too cold to stop and take out my camera.

Climbing up the open face of the false summit was amazing. The wind was present but forgiving and sun was beating down on us. Looking back behind us, we could see Mt. Marcy and up ahead was summit. We were surrounded by snow covered trees, all of them wind bent in the same direction, frozen in time. As we approached the top of the false summit we could see the actual summit taunting us, so close but yet so far. From the false summit there were spectacular views nearly all the way around.

Summit of Colden

We went down into a col and up the final stretch to the summit which is completely open on all sides, such an amazing view. I can't even properly describe how amazingly beautiful it was on the summit. There was some cloud cover but you could see far in every direction. The sun was reflecting off of the snow and ice, making the scenery so bright. Everybody was so happy, stricken with summit fever as someone referred to the sensation, looking all around us because there was so much to take in. I was so grateful to finally have a beautiful day on such a scenic peak. In the southeast we could see Mt. Marcy, which looks even more majestic and impressive when it's covered with snow, as well as Gray and Skylight. To the southwest we could see Cliff, and we could barely make out Mt. Adams (firetower mountain) and Calamity Mountain behind the frozen Flowered Lands, as well as Santanoni Peak. To the west and northwest we admired the MacIntyre Range, Algonquin also looking majestic. To the north we could see Marcy Dam where we started but we couldn't see as far as Whiteface. Cascade, Porter and Bigslide can be seen behind the false summit to the north.

Marcy, Gray, Skylight

To the southwest

Iroquois, Algonquin, Wright

Behind the false summit are Cascade, Porter, and Bigslide

We left the summit around noon heading back the way we came. We were all surprised that we were back to the lot at 2:30. Not bad for a 12.8 mile hike! We had a strong group of hikers, and the conditions were good too. Not having to break trail makes a big difference.

The whole photo set can be viewed on Flickr.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Won't Give Up On Yoga... Yet.

When I first started taking Pilates classes about five years ago, I was skeptical at first. I went for the first couple of weeks and didn't really "get it." I'd go through the motions but not feel the benefits until one day the mind-body connection clicked and I finally understood that I needed my mind to tell my core to control my arm and leg movements. Eventually I even found myself using my core to do everyday tasks like steer my car and pick up items off the floor. I think it will take more than a few weeks for me to "get" yoga...

I knew from the beginning that this would be a struggle. My brain doesn't shut off and I tend to dislike meditation and awkward moments. Yoga class is like one long awkward moment of weird nose breathing, envisioning energy, and chanting at the end of class.

Why bother if I don't like it that much? I want to like it, and I've read that yoga can help make your muscles more lean. My DRD is under control with medications, but one problem with having dystonia is that there can be increased muscle tone and shortened tendons, probably related to my recent case of tendinitis. I am hoping that yoga can stretch me out a little, keep my Achilles safe, and if I can hold some cool yoga poses that would be even better.

I have taken two classes with two different instructors, but I definitely prefer my Sunday class to the Wednesday one. The Sunday instructor gives more guidance and does more poses while the Wednesday instructor includes too much meditation and tends to sit in lotus pose while verbally talking us through the class.

Although they were different in many ways, both classes included a basic sequence of Mountain Pose, Sun Salutation, Down Facing Dog, Low Lunge, High Lunge, and Cobra. Hopefully by the end of the session I will have the sequence memorized and can practice at home! If you are a big follower of the TV series "The Office," you might think it's funny that there is a pose called "Up Dog," as in, it smells like up dog in here.

If you are thinking about trying a yoga class, I have a few recommendations. Look into trying one for free first in case you hate it, and go in with an open mind. Bring your own mat that carries your own germs. Wear something that is comfortable and that you can move and bend in, but also something that will stay in place when you are upside-down, or have you feet in the air. You may also want to research yoga online a little and familiarize yourself with the names of some poses, because it is really frustrating when the instructor says to go into a specific pose when you don't know what that pose is.

My sister-in-law and friend taught me a couple poses last summer when we were camping. Here's a picture that Sister took of me trying to do a headstand. I hope that the instructor will spot me if we ever get that creative in class!


What's your favorite birthstone? I'm partial to my own, turquoise.

"If cold December gave you birth
The month of snow and ice and mirth
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate'er you do."
~from Gregorian Birthstone Poems

This newly listed item in my shop, Empty Nest, features a bird themed epoxy pendant in a copper setting. In each of the four corners are tiny faux turquoise gems. There are four turquoise stone nuggets along the antiqued copper chain as well.

The birds overlook an empty canoe containing only a parasol and ukulele from a branch above the water.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music Monday: Lady Gaga, Naturally

Since I will be seeing Lady Gaga in concert tomorrow, it seems fitting I use her music for this week's Music Monday feature. I am going with my college roommate as a gift to ourselves for a milestone birthday. We won't be arriving in an egg, but most likely a town car with driver. Might as well live it up, right? Here is a video from Lady Gaga's 2011 Grammy performance, where she debuted "Born this Way." I was actually going to use the official music video until I experienced it for the first time myself. To be honest, it freaked me out with way too many "birth-ish" moments; it was like watching slimy aliens being born via binary fission yet entering the world through a birth canal.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Winter Peaks: Armstrong and Upper Wolf Jaw

The morning began with a drive through sleet and snow to the parking lot at the Ausable Club. We geared up and were on the 0.9 mile road to the gate a little after 7am. We signed the book at 7:20 checked out the map at the gate house, and chatted with the ranger for a bit about our plans for the day, which were initially Gothics and Armstrong, possibly the Wolfjaws. We walked the dreaded Lake Road past the Reservoir and took a right at 1.8 miles passed the gate. After about a half mile we turned left onto the East River Trail for a short distance before going right, over the bridge and crossing the West River Trail at the foot of the frozen Beaver Meadows Falls.

Along the Beaver Meadow Trail we encountered some steep parts requiring a couple snowshoe stomps with each step to get the crampons to hold. There were a few snow covered ladders for assistance in some areas. The wind picked up and snow drifts covered the tracks of previous hikers making it difficult to tell where the trail was between markers. The worst part of the day was where the trail narrows along the shoulder of Armstrong. We slowly sidestepped on our toes with our heels overhanging the side of the ridge. One slip would have sent us down a steep incline about 20 feet to some trees, hopefully, because beyond those trees was a void. With nothing to grab onto we had to rely solely on the toe crampons and balance, making sure one foot was secure before moving the other. An inappropriate place to have a panic attack, I must say. Thank you MSR Lightning Ascents, you worth every penny!

After getting past that we knew we were not going to go back down that way. The trail splits to Gothics one way and Armstrong the other, at about 3 miles from Lake Road. At this point it started snowing harder and the wind was howling. We were on about 5-6 feet of snow, and many of the trail markers on the trees were only an inch above the ground at this point, some probably buried in the snow. Since we needed to find another way down, we decided to skip Gothics, go over to Armstrong, grab Upper Wolf Jaw by default on the ADK Range Trail and decide later if we were going to try Lower Wolf Jaw.

We reached the summit of Armstrong at about 0.45 miles from the split. The fierce wind was painful and there was no view beyond the edge of the rock, but it felt good to be on a summit. After a couple photos we ducked back into the trees and headed onwards to Upper Wolf Jaw.

I was actually surprised to see how quickly we hit the summit. It was about 0.8 miles from Armstrong but a relatively easy climb. The wind on Upper Wolf Jaw made off with my left extra glove, forcing me to put my wet first pair back on before we made our way down.

We found ourselves wondering if we were going the right way a couple times, the snow drifts covering the trail which was no longer broken. A few butt slides, some accidental and some on purpose, we eventually found ourselves at the junction where the ADK Range Trail beaks towards John Brooks Lodge and the Wedge Brook Trail takes you to the West River Trail and eventually to Lake Road. By now the snow had changed to steady rain and we were pretty soaked. Lower Wolf Jaw would be saved for another day, we were tired, wet, and done for the day. From this point it was 3.6 miles to Lake Road, another one mile to the Gate and less than a mile from there to the car. On the West River Trail, we encountered a group that had spent the day hiking Lower Wolf Jaw, the eldest member just turned 70!

Our total distance was a little over 13 miles before we got back to the car just before 4pm. There were only a few cars in the lot, because really, it was not a good day for hiking.

All the pictures can be seen here.