Saturday, May 31, 2014

Adirondack Trail Report - Algonquin and Iroquois

Algonquin Peak Boundary Peak Iroquois Peak Hike

by Kathleen Lisson

My husband and I hiked Algonquin, Boundary and Iroquois Peaks on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. 

We slept overnight at the Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake and had a hot breakfast at Adirondack Loj before setting out via the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) trailhead. We reserved a bag trail lunch when we arrived at breakfast. 

We met Jack the summit steward at the peak of Algonquin. He was very friendly and educated us on the delicate plants present at the summit. The summit was rocky and it rained off and on while we were there. 

We ate some of our lunch and continued on to Boundary and Iroquois Peaks. Jack gave us good directions to Iroquois, but we were tired from our hike and didn't listen to the most important part - DON'T TURN LEFT at the tree line and proceed down a very steep path. Arun soon realized we weren't heading toward Boundary Peak and we retraced our steps. 

We spent a few minutes enjoying the view on Iroquois. The view of the summit of Algonquin was obscured every few minutes by rainclouds. 

Back on Algonquin, we got a reward for hiking in the rain - a beautiful Adirondack rainbow. I have never seen a rainbow from above! This was a rare double rainbow a few minutes before this shot. Jack said it was prettiest set of rainbows he had ever seen. 

We used the Adirondack Park Trails Illustrated Map and High Peaks Trails ADK book for all of our hikes in the Adirondacks. 

We got a late start on this hike and proceeded slowly due to the rain, so we opted to save Wright Peak for another hike. 

What I learned on this hike:

  • Some Summit Stewards are volunteers - be sure to strike up a conversation if you are on Marcy or Algonquin and find out more about them.
  • With the right waterproof gear, hiking in the rain is do-able. I wore my waterproof pants, gaiters, wide brimmed hat and waterproof jacket, and put my water cover on my pack. Gloves can also help if the temperature is low. 
  • There is still ice on the highest peaks in May. Yaktraks and poles helped. 
  • If you have to pee on an alpine summit, pee on the rocks, not the plants. 
  • Sleeping until 7 - 8 a.m. and having a hot breakfast near the trailhead is a great start to any hike. Being able to walk to your car and take a warm shower as soon as you finish hiking feels SO good! 
  • Wearing layers will make you look fat in hiking pictures, and hours of hiking will make you look tired. Take photos anyway! 

Find out more about the Summit Steward program here:

The Every Trail Guide to the MacIntyre Range is here:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kilimanjaro Night Sky

Kilimanjaro Night Sky

By Kathleen Lisson

I stumbled upon the Maum Meditation Bangkok blog while doing a web search for photos of the night sky on Kilimanjaro. The post titled 'Masterpiece by the Sky: The Milky Way' shares night sky photos at several parks from around the world, including Kilimanjaro. I am really excited about the opportunity to see every star in the night sky with very little light pollution. The stars will be different from those I see at my home in Troy, NY. 

This Weather Underground interactive star chart shows the planets and constellations in the night sky over Mount Kilimanjaro

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Adirondak Loj and Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake

Where to camp in the Adirondacks near Lake Placid, Mount Marcy

by Kathleen Lisson

Let's get the conflict of interest out of the way - I am a member of ADK.

I just loved camping at the Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake on Memorial Day weekend. My husband and I wanted to hike the Adirondack High Peaks and test our camping gear for our upcoming trip to Kilimanjaro. 

We drove up after work on Friday and camped in tent space #7, which was close to a water spigot and the washrooms. 

My tips:

  • Book breakfast in advance, when you reserve your campsite. This was the best part of the vacation for me! 
  • Shower after you finish your hike. Women were complaining about cold water in the morning. 
  • DO choose a trail lunch. The Marcy bars are amazing! 
  • If you have a shorter hiking day and will be back before 7 p.m., make a reservation for dinner at the Loj. 
  • If you will be hiking later, you can make dinner at your campsite (observe bear precautions) or shower and drive to Lake Placid for dinner. 
  • Visit the great room / living room at the Loj to plan your hikes every morning. I love the atmosphere. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Packing Tips for Kili – How to Use Hiking Poles

Packing Tips for Kili – How to Use Hiking Poles

By Kathleen Lisson

Larry Garber's third video in his four part series on packing for Mt. Kilimanjaro offers a cheap tip for keeping dry in wet weather while hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro - a poncho. Garber also covers what type of sunglasses and other sun protection needs during the trek. 

The best part of this video for me was the explanation of how to use hiking poles - how to use the straps, how to tell which pole is for the left and right hand, and how to use the hiking poles to descend. 

 Watch the video here:

Monday, May 26, 2014

'Volcano Above the Clouds' Nova Mount Kilimanjaro Documentary Review

I recently watched a 2003 NOVA documentary on Kilimanjaro titled 'Volcano Above the Clouds' with Arun. We got the video via Netflix. It was interesting to learn about the flora on the mountain and the activity of the volcano instead of just focusing on the summit itself. I was surprised to learn that Mount Kilimanjaro isn't a cold, dead volcano and that there could be the potential for a Mount Saint Helen's type disaster. 

Watch Volcano Above the Clouds on Netflix or see the documentary here:

One of the most frustrating parts of watching 'Volcano Above the Clouds' was seeing the treatment and reactions of the porters. At one point in the movie, the porters get into a huge fight over how to set up the campsite.

I am glad that the safari company we are using is an approved Partner for Responsible Travel with the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC) Find out more:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Best Yoga Poses for Hikers and Trekkers

Best Yoga Poses for Hikers and Trekkers

 By Kathleen Lisson

Inventing Yoga Poses in the Adirondacks

In ‘Yoga for Climbing Kilimanjaro Six Yoga Poses for Climbers,’ Lizzy Scully shares poses that help injury prevention for climbing.

My husband loves practicing yoga. Many of our fun summit pictures from Adirondack hikes involve Mountain Pose and other poses.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Runner and Hiker Exercises to Strengthen the Knees

Exercises to Strengthen the Knees

 by Kathleen Lisson

More strengthening exercises will mean less visits to the Physical Therapist

As I am preparing to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, I am hiking at least 20 miles every weekend. On Sunday evening I am sore everywhere, so I protect my legs and knees during the week by performing strengthening exercises. Runners World has a great video that explains where 'knee pain' REALLY comes from and offers a few exercises to strengthen legs.

Watch 'Injury Prevention: 6 Moves to Protect Your Knees' from Runners World video here:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Snacks and Hydration Advice for Hiking at High Altitudes

Snacks and Hydration Advice for Hiking at High Altitudes

By Kathleen Lisson

In the article ‘Kilimanjaro Nutrition: STRATEGIES FOR HIKING,’ Mia Ballenden, an Accredited Practicing Dietician and Nutritionist who specializes in sports dietetics, shares information on hypoxia. I did not know that starting on the second day of my Kilimanjaro hike, the lower levels of oxygen in my body will alter my fat vs. carbohydrate usage as well as the fluid balance in my body. Ballenden suggests bringing:

  • “Energy dense snacks for your day pack such as dried fruit, nuts and chocolate,
  • Spices to make foods more palatable”

Ballenden recommends “finding a system that reminds you to drink all day like a camelback, a flask with warm water or flavoured water.”

I am going to start sampling different types of sports drink powders to add to my Nalgene bottle on my weekend hikes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Packing Tips for Kili – Hiking Boots

Packing Tips for Kili – Hiking Boots

Larry Garber's second video in the four part series on packing for Kilimanjaro covers what to look for in a hiking boot to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

I’m glad I watched this video. I ended up buying full leather hiking boots from LL Bean. 

Watch the video here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Clean Your Camelback -- Video

How to Clean Your Camelback -- Video

how to clean camelback

I remember getting my first Camelback a few years ago. I loved the way it made drinking while hiking so much easier. I got so excited that I started flavoring my water by adding powder into my Camelback. I didn't rinse it well enough and ended up with a disgusting film and taste in my hydration system. Lesson Learned! I'm keeping my current Camelback to just water and making sure it is nice and dry after every use. 

Backpacker Magazine has an informative video titled 'Backpacker's Gear School: Preserve your hydration Bladder' on how to clean a Camelback. I bought the cleaning kit off of Amazon and wondered if I was using the hanger correctly. This video shows how to insert it into the Camelback and offers a great tip on where to store a Camelback in between hikes. 

Watch the 'Backpacker's Gear School: Preserve Your Hydration Bladder' video here:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to Identify Birds and Trees in the Catskills and Adirondacks

How to Identify Birds and Trees in the Catskills and Adirondacks

by Kathleen Lisson

As I spend more of my weekend days hiking in the Catskills and Adirondacks, I am starting to realize how much there is to discover about the birds and trees of the forest. I bought a copy of the Birds of New York Field Guide with the accompanying CD last year and listened to the CD in the car during my commute. When I heard a bird singing in my backyard and recognized the song from the CD, I was hooked! 

When reading other hiker’s trail reports, I come face to face with the fact that I don’t know much about the trees in New York, either. I grew up in California, where we had a palm tree in the backyard. I feel excited and more connected to nature when I come back from a hike and pick out the trees I saw alongside the trail from my copy of the Trees of New York Field Guide.

Both The Trees of New York Field Guide and the Birds of New York Field Guide are by Stan Tekiela and available on Amazon. Tekiela’s website is here:

Christian Noble shows how to identify trees in the forest in this Youtube video:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to Scramble - Hiking training video

How to Scramble - Hiking Training Video

by Kathleen Lisson

As I am hiking more in the Adirondacks, I will be using my scrambling skills. Here's a good video for learning this hiking technique titled 'Scrambling Skills and Safety' by Yamnuska Mountain Adventure.

Watch the video here:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Packing Tips for Kili - Backpack

Packing Tips for Kili - Backpack

by Kathleen Lisson

Larry Garber has posted a wonderful 4 part video series on packing for Kilimanjaro. I purchased this daypack! 

He begins the first video by explaining what to look for in a backpack:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good at the Beginning or Good in the Long Run?

Good at the Beginning or Good in the Long Run?

By Kathleen Lisson

"Wow, that's amazing! I could never do that."

I read a post on Seth Godin's blog titled 'Good at the beginning' that reminded me of the reactions I saw in some of the people I met when they learned that I like long distance running and, more recently, that I was going to hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Their reactions were not negative toward me, but I felt a little worried that their admiration was shortchanging their own capabilities to meet challenges. 

Finishing my first half marathon

Their approach to my adventures made me ask myself:

  • Do we think people hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro because they are really good at hiking? 

  • Do we think people run half marathons and marathons because running comes easy to them?

Early successes certainly make continuing through hard practices easier. Hiking seems to be less painful to me than other, more inexperienced hikers. I enjoy running long distances and I know that type of exercise is unpleasant for some people. 

I haven't 'picked up' many things about hiking right away. Orienteering is a learned skill, and there is trial and error in getting used to new gear and learning how to 'scramble.'

I appreciated Seth Godin's observation that "the people who are good in the long run fail a lot, especially at the beginning."

I would rather be good in the long run.

Read Seth Godin's post here:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Funny Climbing Up Mount Kilimanjaro Daily Hike Report Videos

Funny Climbing Up Mount Kilimanjaro 

Daily Hike Report Videos

By Kathleen Lisson

Jenne Fromm has the best sense of humor ever! Watch her straight-from-the-mountain reports of her hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. 

My biggest takeaway is to put sunscreen lip balm on the INSIDE of my lips. I am thinking about bringing some sort of spray for the inside of the tent, too.

Day One Recap



Watch more of Jenne Fromm's Mount Kilimanjaro video diary here:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Indian Head / Twin Mountain Catskills Hiking Report

Catskill Hike Review - Indian Head and Twin

by Kathleen Lisson

I hiked in the Catskills last weekend, climbing to the summit of Twin Mountain via the Jimmy Dolan Notch, then retracing my steps and hiking over Indian Head via the Long Path and Devil's Path. I paid a short visit to the Devil's Kitchen Lean-to before returning to the car.

My husband and I tried out our Kilimanjaro camping gear by staying overnight at North - South Lake Campground. We took a short evening hike from the campground to North Point. 

It was raining off and on that afternoon, so I had the chance to try out my wet weather gear. My system of waterproof pants and gaiters works quite well, and my sunhat and water resistant jacket were good enough protection in a light rain.

LL Bean Women's Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Leather 

LL Bean Women's Winter Walker Gaiters

I highly recommend North - South Lake campground. I love that my home in Troy is right in between the Catskills and Adirondacks. Mountains are only a few hours drive away, but the luxury of being at home means that I rarely get out of the house before 9 a.m. to hike. Being in a campground meant that I woke up with the birds at dawn and was in the car, ready to hike, by 8 a.m. The staff at North South Lake campground was friendly and the showers had warm water.

Catskill Hiker trip report on Indian Head and Twin -

North / South Lake Campground -

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mount Kilimanjaro Packing and Camera Tips

Mount Kilimanjaro Packing and Camera Tips

by Kathleen Lisson

In the article ‘How to Pack for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Tips, Gear and Advice,’ Caryn shares the tip - "Pack one complete hiking outfit on the plane, including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, socks, and hiking boots."

Her other tips include bringing a camera “that is small and fits in your hip pockets of the backpack” so you will not have to “take off the daypack to take pictures,” putting hair in pig-tail braids and using your iPod on summit night. 

One thing I had never thought of was the need to practice layering clothes BEFORE the trip to ensure that I won’t “get to the mountain and realize you can’t layer them. Big Uh Oh.”

Tips on what size dry sacks to bring and how to store your batteries and camp shoes are in the full text of the article “How to Pack for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Tips, Gear and Advice” here:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tongue Mountain Range, Lake George Hike Review

Tongue Mountain Range, Lake George Hike Review

tongue mountain range

by Kathleen Lisson

I was in Lake George for a wedding last weekend, so I spent my weekend hiking the Tongue Mountain Range. 

On Saturday, I hiked from the Clay Meadow Entrance to the Five Mile mountain lean-to and back to Clay Meadow, reaching the summit of Five Mile mountain and Huckleberry mountain. The kind hikers I met at the Lean-to said they referred to the area as Brown Mountain, but my map says that Brown mountain is North of the lean-to. 
lake george hiking tongue mountain

tongue mountain range

On Sunday, my husband and I hiked from the Clay Meadow Entrance to the summits of Fifth Peak, French Point mountain and First Peak before looping back on the trail along Northwest Bay. My husband likes a difficult hike and he was not disappointed. We had an early lunch at the Fifth Peak Lean-to. By the time I reached the trail intersection near Montcalm point I was ready to stop climbing mountains. Though it should have been, the last 5 miles of trail was not easy. We were walking slowly because I was breaking in my new boots. We finished the 13.5 miles hike in just over 8 hours.

DEC trail marker

My husband and I joked that the trees in the Adirondack Park are carnivorous. Many trees seem to be 'eating' the DEC trail markers by covering them with bark.

We signed out at the trailhead and went to have a delicious dinner at Cate's Italian Garden on Main street in Bolton Landing. The service was flawless and the food was delicious. I recommend the warm mozzarella and tomato crostini.

I appreciated that our waitress let us sit in a corner so our sweatiness didn't offend any of the other customers. The restaurant has tables outside for warmer weather, I look forward to coming back later this summer.

Off On Adventure blog's trip report of the section of the trail we hiked on Sunday:

The All Trails report of our Sunday hike is here:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Daily Inspiration for Training to Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro

Daily Inspiration for Training to Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro

 By Kathleen Lisson

Running quotes and inspiration

Training to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro takes a lot of effort. Between running on weekdays and hiking on weekends, I have that constant low-level fatigue that I love. It reminds me to stay focused on proper nutrition and get to sleep right at ten p.m. every night, no exceptions.

The Daily Kick in the Butt newsletter is emailed to me every morning. It is a great inspiration when I am warm in bed and nor that excited about running. If you’re a runner, it might inspire you, too. Sign up here:

Friday, May 9, 2014

What to Talk About While Hiking or Camping

What to Talk About While Hiking or Camping

nature circles
by Kathleen Lisson

I visited Adirondack Day in Albany on May 5th. I grabbed a bunch of great maps and hiking brochures and got to meet a representative of the Adirondack Mountain Club. 

I also picked up a Nature Circles game. Nature Circles are circular cards with conversation starters printed on circular pieces of paper and held together with a carabiner. Questions include "If you were a rock, where would you want to be? Near the water? On a cliff?" and "If you were a bird, where would you fly to first?"

I have been thinking about what types of plants, animals and rocks I will see while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and taking a safari in the Serengeti. While these questions seem simple, they may open up insightful conversations. My husband is from India and our guides will be from Tanzania, so there may be interesting cultural differences in our answers.

I will use the attitude of exploration and introspection that these cards inspire to think more deeply about my time in Africa this July. has some tips on creating an outdoor book club here:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kilimanjaro Packing Tips from Esquire

Kilimanjaro Packing Tips from Esquire

 By Kathleen Lisson

In the Esquire article, ‘How to Pack for Kilimanjaro,’ Peter Martin offers suggestions for top-of-the-line gear. I like his sense of humor – “you want to have more than the knockoff Ray-Bans you bought in Chinatown.” 

Trying out the new hiking gear I am purchasing for Mount Kilimanjaro is a big part of my training hikes in April and May.

Check out his gear recommendations here:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On Kilimanjaro, Water is Like Medicine

On Kilimanjaro, Water is Like Medicine

By Kathleen Lisson

Beautiful video of Daniel, James, Takeshi and Megaberri Climbing Kilimanjaro on the Machame Route in October 2011.

I loved the shots of the scenery above the clouds and the guide's advice that water is like medicine. I also took to heart the fact that the climbers were sick one day and then felt better the next. I think that one of my secret fears is that I will start feeling lousy on day two and have to suffer through most of the trip. Glad to see that won't necessarily happen. 

Watch the video here:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

At The Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

At The Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

By Kathleen Lisson

 In the article ‘Things to know before climbing Kilimanjaro,’ the best tip from Captain & Clark was – “make a list of things to remember to do at the summit. Altitude sickness will take its toll.” 

I would like to get my picture taken with a flag and take some time of savor and remember the sunrise. If I take a journal, it would be a good time to write some thoughts down, though I wonder if I will have fine motor skills. 

Read more tips here:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Find A Hike Map for the Catskills, NY Hiker

Find A Hike Map for the Catskills, NY Hiker

By Kathleen Lisson
The New York New Jersey trail conference has created an interactive hike planner that displays 350 hikes from 238 trailheads in 139 parks. 

My husband likes strenuous, long hikes and this webpage allows me to see the locations of hikes in the Catskills according to their length and difficulty. The results display on a map, which allows me to choose hikes near I-87. 

I found several new hikes I want to try with this interactive hiking map. 

Hikes can also be selected for their features, including historic hikes, hikes near public transportation, or hikes with views, waterfalls, wildflowers, woods, cliffs, and or/ birding.

The New York New Jersey trail conference interactive hike planner is here:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tired Is Not An Illness.

Tired Is Not An Illness.

By Kathleen Lisson

In the article ‘5 Life Lessons I Learned From Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro,’ Nancy Bonds shares the five things she learned from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. #4 is my favorite. Bonds shares a quote from her guide, "tired is not an illness.”

I have been using that quote to get me out of bed in the morning to run. Tired Is Not An Illness. 

I cannot wait to hear what my guides have to say to me on Mount Kilimanjaro! 

Read the '5 Life Lessons I Learned From Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro' here: