Tag Archives: fitness

2015-05-09: AT MD Patch & Certificate

Although this is a “backlog”, not a “blog”, this post is made on the day of the event described.

Today Susan and I hiked with the Howard County group on Appalachian Trail Maryland section #2. This completed the series of seven hikes on the Maryland stretch of the AT, and earned each of us a patch and “a certificate suitable for framing”. The hike leaders like to make a big deal of the fact that only about 135 (or maybe 146, they aren’t the most reliable sources) of these patches have been issued.

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the distance for the Maryland AT is 40.9 miles. The total of the advertised distance for the Howard County hikes is 46.1 miles. The total of the GPS distances recorded on my iPhone is 53.2 miles. It’s literally true: YMMV.

AT MD Patch_Cert

2013-03-09: Hikes with Howard County Recreation and Parks

The Howard County department of Recreation and Parks provides experienced hike leaders and vans to trailheads in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Most are on the Appalachian Trail, but there are also others. They have been leading hikes since at least 1998. We started with them in March 2013. Their website contains descriptions of the hikes and their schedule.

The Howard County program awards patches and “certificates suitable for framing” for participants who walk all seven sections of the AT in Maryland (about 42 miles) within a three-year period; 100 miles of the AT, including sections in Virginia and Pennsylvania; and all four sections of the Catoctin Trail. Their director, Matt Medicus, is very accommodating for people who are nearing these milestones, and schedules hikes to ensure everyone has an opportunity to achieve them. The hike leaders have said that only about 130 AT MD patches have been issued in over 20 years.

As of 2016-03-19, we’ve gone on (or scheduled) the walks listed below. Pictures of the patches and certificates suitable for framing are below the table.

DateNameNotes & GPS MilesOfficial Miles, Rating
2013-03-09AT MD #16.76, Moderately difficult
2013-04-13AT MD #47.86.5, Moderate
2013-05-11AT MD #67.37, Moderate
2013-06-08Great Fallsno GPS7, Moderate
2013-09-28AT VA #3 Roller Coaster18.36.8, Moderately difficult
2013-10-26Catoctin on the RocksGPS quit after 1.17, Difficult
2013-11-09Billy Goat Trail & C&O Canal6.04, Difficult
2013-11-23Catoctin #37.76, Steep terrain
2013-12-07AT PA #18.49.5, Moderate
2014-03-15AT MD #310.08.4, Moderately difficult
2014-04-12AT MD #67.47, Moderate
2014-04-26Sunset Rocks, PA7.87.8, Moderate
2014-05-10AT MD #76.15.5, Flat
2014-06-14AT VA #4 Roller Coaster28.07.8, Moderate
2014-06-28Dark Hollows7.08, Moderately difficult
2014-09-13Susquehanna Grist Mill5.85.5, Moderate
2014-10-11AT VA #110.310.2, Moderate
2014-11-08Catoctin #28.77, Moderately difficult
2014-11-22AT PA #48.87.7, Moderate
2015-01-10AT MD #4Susan only6.5, Moderate
2015-02-07AT MD #57.26.5, Moderately difficult
2015-03-28AT VA #29.98.4, Moderate
2015-04-25Catoctin #18.58, Moderately difficult
2015-05-09AT MD #28.0 - AT MD patches6.2, Moderate
2015-06-13AT MD #7Susan only5.5, Flat
2015-06-27AT PA #3cancelled - AT 100mi patches9.8, Moderate
2015-09-26AT VA #57.5 - AT 100mi patches6.8, Moderate
2015-10-10Catoctin #2Susan only7, Moderately difficult
2015-10-24AT MD #39.58.4, Moderately difficult
2015-11-07Catoctin #46.6 - Catoctin Trail patches7, Moderately difficult
2015-11-21Gunpowder Falls circuit7.256.5, Strenuous terrain
2015-12-05Sugarloaf Mountain6.55, Moderate
2016-01-09AT MD #56.86.5, Moderately difficult
2016-02-20AT MD #39.58.4, Moderately difficult
2016-03-12AT PA #26.76.3, Moderate
2016-03-19AT MD #47.86.5, Moderate
2016-04-09AT MD #26.86.2, Moderate
2016-04-23AT VA #3 Roller Coaster17.66.8, Moderately difficult
2016-05-14AT MD #75.55.5. Flat
2016-05-21AT MD #1cancelled - rain6.0, Moderately difficult
2016-06-11AT MD #66.97.0, Moderate terrain
2016-06-25AT PA #311.09.8, Moderate
2016-09-24AT VA #66.35.5, Moderately difficult
2016-10-22AT MD #16.26.0, Moderately difficult
2016-11-19AT PA #110.09.5, Moderate
2016-12-03Catoctin on the Rocks7.4 - Susan only7, Difficult
2017-05-13AT PA #5cancelled8.7, Moderate
2017-06-10AT MD #1Susan onlyModerately difficult
2017-09-23Antietam Battlefield8.658.9, Moderate
2017-10-14AT PA #59.38, last hike before moving to Shoreline8.7, Moderate

AT MD Patch_Cert

AT 100 Patch_Cert

CT Patch_Cert

1978-00-00: Running

I’m not sure when I started jogging/running, but I was having a lunchtime run with a couple of coworkers around Greenbelt Lake while working at Goddard Space Flight Center some time around 1980.

I gradually worked up to 5 km, 5 mile, 10 km, and 10 mile runs, and my routine included regular runs on Shore Drive from my house to Edgewater Elementary School and back, about 10 km. I ran the Annapolis Ten Mile Run a couple of times. For these distances, I could run a mile in less than 8 minutes, corresponding to 1 km in less than 5 minutes. At that time, the world record for the 10 km was 27:15, corresponding to an average of 2:44 for 1 km. This means nobody in the world could run twice as fast as me!

Somewhere around 1980-1983, I developed knee pain and was referred to a podiatrist. He prescribed orthotics to correct over-pronation, which puts strain on the knee.

In 1983, I planned to run the Mount Washington Road Race (also known as the “Run to the Clouds”, and with the slogan “Only one hill!”). The distance is only 7.6 miles, but the climb is 4,650 feet. The average grade is 12%, and ends with a 22% “wall”. I prepared as well as I could on the hills west of Frederick, MD. Unfortunately, when we got to New Hampshire, my knees didn’t want to run. The weather on the summit wasn’t very good anyway. We took Chris to Storybook Land, and had a good time. The race organization sent me a t-shirt even though I hadn’t gone to the start of the race.

In 1984, I felt ready to try again. This time my knees felt better and the weather was beautiful, and I ran while Susan and Chris whiled away the hours in the gift shop near the foot of the mountain. I finished in 523rd place with a time of 2:00:31. The results are no longer online, but the certificate is below. The winning time was 1:01:13, so nobody ran twice as fast as me!

Shortly after the 1984 “Run to the Clouds”, my knees were worse (coincidence?) and I went to the local sports medicine specialists. They tested me, and called my condition chondromalacia patellae, which indicates the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap is damaged. The pain made running no fun, and I soon stopped.

One benefit of running was that I could pretty much eat anything I wanted. When I stopped, it took a while to adjust my appetite, and I gained a few pounds.

2011-06-00: Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast Walk

In September 2003, the Smithsonian magazine had an article titled “A Walk Across England“, about the pathways linked into a coast-to-coast walk from St Bees in the west to Robin Hood Bay in the east. This inspired us to start considering such things, and led more or less directly to our Hadrian’s Wall Walk, as a less challenging walk.

By 2011, we were ready to try the big one, 200 miles. (They say 190 miles, but there are alternative paths in places, and sometimes extra mileage to the B&Bs; besides, all guidebooks lie.)

We began with Carl and Renee, with a trip to Stonehenge (sleet in June) and Wales, to see some areas that might have been connected to Renee’s ancestors, and general sightseeing. We rode horses, and took the train to the top of Mt. Snowden. In Dolgellau, we met a fish-and-chips shop owner who was planning to take his steamboat to Egypt, and have his trip up the Nile filmed for a TV show. Carl then returned home, and the rest of us took the train to St Bees.

We used Sherpa(?) to handle reservations and move our bags, and planned on 13 days of walking. The walk passes through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North York Moors National Parks. We had driven through the Lake District on an earlier visit, but it’s even better from the mountaintops. The banner picture on this backlog is from the walk. I think the ponies can smell an apple in my backpack.

This was the first trip we used our cell phone as a phone (not just for wi-fi access to email, etc.). Renee was able to talk to Carl, and update him on our progress.

Walks like these put you in contact with other people who start around the same time and have a similar itinerary, at least for a few days at a time. For several days starting about midway, our path overlapped with Gordon (from England), Brian (from Australia), and Daniel (from West Los Angeles). After a few days, Renee got Brian to admit he was celebrating his 50th birthday, having left his family at home.

After we returned home, we contacted Daniel when we went to Los Angeles, and had dinner with him. To hear more about Brian, see our walk of the West Highland Way.

The C2C is challenging, and walking for so many days takes a toll on your feet. Our preparation was generally good enough, and we all survived without serious problems. I think 13 days was too much, though, and don’t expect to do such a long walk again.




2005-06-00: Hadrian’s Wall Walk

I don’t recall quite how we became aware of it, but at some point Susan proposed that we walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path. In England, they refer to this as a National Trail; it was formally established in 2003. The trail runs along the ancient (122 AD) Hadrian’s Wall, which is a World Heritage site. The trail runs from coast to coast, and is most often walked from the east end at Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, a short distance south of the border between England and Scotland. The distance is officially 84 miles, but our walk was closer to 100 miles.

We had visited some of the sites and museums along Hadrian’s Wall in a previous visit (year?), but this would be a chance to see the entire route and all of the remaining fragments of the wall. When we asked them, our friends Carl, Renee, and Chad agreed to walk with us.

We spent a few months walking increasing distances at home, and on successive days, to prepare our feet. We made arrangements with Sherpa (?) to reserve rooms at Bed and Breakfast establishments along the way, and to move our bags from place to place. We only planned to carry lunch and raincoats while walking. We planned on eight days of walking, with a rest day near the middle.

The walk was very successful, except for Carl. He stepped in a rabbit hole coming over a stile, and sprained his ankle. Fortunately, there is a bus route that runs parallel to the trail, along the old Roman military road. (The bus route is called Route 122, named after the year the wall was built.) Carl was able to meet us at the B&B’s and sometimes for lunch.

The B&Bs were all very good experiences, but some days required walking a few miles away from the trail, adding to the official distance.

When we got to Carlisle, we rented two cars, and continued our trip to the Western Isles.

2005-06-00: Walking

Believe it or not, I’ve been walking most of my life, mostly aimlessly. But in 2005, Susan organized a more ambitious approach, and we walked the Hadrian’s Wall path in England. This marked the beginning of a series of long walks, described in their own posts:


2010-05-31: Cycling Vermont

In 193?, Susan’s parents joined their friends Millie and Selwyn Plummer (Uncle Plum) on a bicycle trip in Vermont. This was probably Uncle Plum’s idea. They took a train to their starting point, and rode a 400+ mile tour around Vermont, staying in a variety of accommodations (apparently including a chicken coop). Susan has several pictures taken along the way (Uncle Plum was photographer for a Connecticut newspaper).

Susan found a note written by her Mom, describing the trip, and wanted to try to duplicate their trip. We started in Greenfield, Mass and rode a large loop of 429 miles in twelve days. The legs were:

Date (2010)From-ToWeatherMilesTime (h:mm)Avg mi/hrClimb (ft)
5/31Greenfield, MA - Brattleboro, VTclear-24.732:309.9 1,072
6/1Brattleboro - Jamaica, VTovercast-26.232:598.8 1,692
6/2Jamaica - Dorset, VT25.923:098.2 2,126
6/3Dorset - Lake Bomoseen, VT36.613:1211.4987
6/4Lake Bomoseen - Lincoln, VTovercast-46.525:079.1 2,847
6/5Lincoln - Underhill Flats, VTovercast-35.644:018.9 2,395
6/6Underhill Flats - Hardwick, VTrain-5545.675:258.4 1,683
6/7Hardwick, VT - Woodsville, NH46.814:3710.1 2,552
6/8Woodsville, NH - White River Junction, VTshowers46.64:3410.2 1,830
6/9White River Junction - Springfield, VTovercast-32.33:1010.2 1,731
6/10Springfield, VT - Brattleboro, VTrain-37.924:168.9 2,349
6/11Brattleboro, VT - Greenfield, MA24.522:2010.5938
Total429.4745:249.5 22,202

1992-00-00: Cycling

Of course I rode a bike before 1992, and I have the scars to prove it.

Around 1992, we bought three hybrid bikes. (Our old ten-speeds were in pretty bad shape.) Susan and I got matching Specialized Crossroads (black), and Chris got a Specialized Hardrock. These lasted until 2006, when Susan and I bought a matching pair (see the theme?) of Specialized Sirrus (silver). In 2014, I got a Specialized Sirrus Elite (black/red), breaking the pattern.

I started keeping a log of Susan’s and my rides in 2003, and have kept it pretty well up-to-date since then, with over 15,000 miles logged. Using an Excel workbook, I can slice and dice the numbers to look at the rides in different ways. The most common way I use it these days (in 2014), is to track the cumulative miles by month since the beginning of the year. This shows me how I’m doing compared with the past few years. In 2013 I rode 1,827 miles. As of July 2014, I’m  more than 100 miles behind the pace I set last year.

Most of our riding starts and ends at the house, but occasionally we’ve done other rides. A couple of times we rode to Solomon’s Island for an overnight stay at a B&B. We’ve ridden in Seattle when visiting Chris and Grant. Our biggest ride was in 2010, a 12-day tour of Vermont that deserves its own post.