Friday, April 25, 2008

Music All Around Us

I joined Jane and Greg for an evening show at Blackstone River Thwarte in Cumberland, RI leaving Mom and Dad with the kids. The show features Emily Elbert (sp?) and Brooks Williams. Both are singer-songwriters with distinct blues leanings. The concert was enjoyable and the setting fun. It is the setting I'm writing about. This theatre, an old Masonic hall I think, hosts concerts a couple times a week for several months per year. They llikely are involved with other arts related stuff the rest of the time too. Places like this well kept venue to clubs like The Ark at one end of the scene to. Very intimate house concerts T the other really provide a great place for music off a wide range to prosper and people to gather and share a peaceful enjoyable evening together without the pressures of a large concert or the passivity of just going to a movie. People get to interact easily with each other and the performers and that surely is a good thing for everyone.

Photo: Blackstone River Theatre.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

TGO Challenge Route

The TGO Challenge is one month away. I actually leave for Scotland in less than a month. I've got most everything sorted out but some things remain to be dealt with. Fortunately one thing that has long since been settled is my route plan. Since this is my first Challenge hike and my first solo hike in the United Kingdom I have selected a route that is reletively low-level and also fairly popular. While some of the distances are a bit daunting given that I'm right now in so-so shape my real concern is navigation rather than physical limitations of my body. Will I lose my way and head off on some sheep path that takes me away from where I want to go? Will I have troubles finding my way in and out of the towns I pass through? I am more apt to find sub-optimal routes than most people and this will impact upon my trip if it happens often. Having said all this I am still looking forward to the adventure I know is awaiting me.

         Date          DAYS ITINERARY
FRI 9 MAYLoch Duich Hotel - camban - Alltbeithe Youth Hostel3327700Alltbeithe YH
FWA Shiel Bridge – camban - Alltbeithe Youth Hostel3319650Alltbeithe YH
SAT 10 MAYAlltbeithe YH - Cougie3319550Cougie (camp)
SUN 11 MAYCougie - Bealach Feith na Gamhna - (244 200 path to 253 187 – across moor 120°/3.5km to pylon track at 292 115 then follow paths) - Fort Augustus33,3424700probably camp
MON 12 MAYFort Augustus - Melgarve - Garva Bridge34,35271000camp
TUE 13 MAYGarva Bridge – Sherrabeg – Drumgask Fm – Catlodge – Mains of Glentrum – Phones – Lubleathann - Kingaussie3531600hotel/B&B/inn type – not sure where yet
WED 14 MAYKingussie - Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy3516300Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy
THU 15 MAYRuigh-aiteachain Bothy – White Bridge (via Mullach Clach a Bhlair – River Eidart (916944), follow river to waterfall at 913887 and follow path east from there to White Bridge).35,42,4328700camp
FWA Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy – White Bridge (along footpath)35, 42, 4322400camp
FRI 16 MAYWhite Bridge - Braemar4315100lodge
SAT 17 MAYBraemar - Gelder Shiel - Spittfal of Glennmuick - Shielin of Mark Bothy43, 44271100Shielin of Mark Bothy
SUN 18 MAYShielin of Mark Bothy -Invermark Castle – Tarfside4418400Tarside green
MON 19 MAYTarfside - Cairncross – Wester Aucheen – Blackcraig – Water of Dye - Charr Bothy44, 4515650Charr Bothy
TUES 20 MAYCharr Bothy – Spital Cott – Bridge of Dye – Heatheryhaugh – Kerlock Cairn -Glennskinnan – Stonehouse – Mergie – Snob Cott – Bossholes – Cheyne Hill – Blairs – Home Fm - Dunnottar Castle4538750not sure
FWA Charr Bothy – Mergie (use if late in day)4525600camp
WED 21 MAYFWA Mergie – Dunnottar Castle4513150not sure
  1. Foul Weather Alternatives (FWA) can also just be alternatives depending on how I feel.
  2. Though I note many bothy stays I am just as likely to camp out at the bothy instead of staying inside the bothy proper.
  3. Keep in mind that most time an ascent has a corresponding descent.

New video of what I did last weekend

As some of you know I spent last weekend with a group of other people in the western part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan building a new side trail off of the North Country Trail. 17 people worked for a handful of hours constructing the half-mile trail from the Highbanks Lake Campground to the NCT on what was probably a nearly ideal day to do such work. I had the opportunity to shoot video during the day and the results of that effort can now be seen if you use the player below. If you have a reasonably quick internet connect I encourage you to view the movie in its full 720p HD glory. I hope you enjoy it. 

Making a Difference: Building New Trail from Ken Knight on Vimeo.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Trail Building: The Highbanks Lake Campground Connector Trail

Photos of most of the participants in the trail building day, April 5 2008.

My first day of trail building is ending. While I've done simple maintenance in the past building new trail was a fresh experience for me. Our group of 17 began at High Banks lake Campground just before 10:00 with some brief instruction on how to use fire takes, Mcleods, and Pulaskis. These fire fighting tools are at the core of the construction of at least basic trails that don't need more elaborate features like turnpikes or steps. We spread out under ever bluer skies under warming
sunshine to build the half mile trail that would connect to the North Country Trail.

We spread out so that we wouldn't bump into each other. I was one of many wielding a fire rake. You use the fire rake to remove the doth that has accumulated on the forest floor. The fire rakers in some ways make the trail the most visible though if all you did to make a trail was clear a path with the rakes your trail would not be nearly complete. I found the work easy as I moved past one orange flag to the next. I could hear other people doing the same thing, others having conversations, the thump of a person using a McLeod in the second step of building the actual treadway, once in a while the chain saw crew firing up the saw to remove a nasty set of downed logs, along with the other sounds around me. It was great fun.

The people with McCloeds would come through after those of us with fire rakes had cleared the basic path. They came through smoothing down the path, shaving it as it were, making a tread-way that will last much longer and attract less debris. The chain saw gang made short work of several fallen oak logs in the way. Brush was moved to make the old social path less obvious. After about 3 hours of diligent work a final few of us went through with boundary white paint to make blazes marking the path for all to see. A glorious new trail was made on a fine early spring day.

The next morning John, Andy, and I would walk down the connector trail to the NCT to do general maintenance on our section (runs from 16 Mile Road to 13 Mile Road, about 6.1 miles of trail). The piece from 16 Mile Road to Highbanks Lake had been done the day before leaving us with 4 miles to go. As we walked down the new connector trail we noticed trekking pole prints. The trail had already been used by the public. I must say it was a gratifying feeling to know that even before the paint on the blazes had time to dry people had found the new trail to the campground and were using it. We even got to meet the couple with their dog as we were taking a snack break. They were quite happy with the new trail and thanked us for our work. It's always nice to actually meet people who appreciate what you are doing.

A weekend spent with friends doing something useful and being thanked by people who actually use the trails: what a wonderful way to spend some time outdoors.