MJ’s Eagle Scout Project

MJ completed his Eagle Scout project this past weekend. His project was to rebuild 250 feet of fence at the Lincroft Little League field. The old fence had a single horizontal rail and a top rail made of 2×4. Kids were constantly climbing under or over the fence.  People would get splinters from the old wood.  Plus there were several 4×4 posts that needed to be replaced.
With the rebuild, MJ designed three horizontal rails plus a top rail made of Trex, as you can see in the photo.  The project took two days and involved 155 man hours of labor.  Scouts and friends did most of the labor.

A special thank you to David Seibel for sponsoring the project with the Lincroft Little League and working with MJ through the project.

Palisades Hike

This past Sunday the Philmont crew went on a day hike on the NJ Palisades. The Palisades are a cliff face between the George Washington Bridge and the Tappen Zee Bridge.  The cliffs are about 600 high.  The hike traversed along the base of the cliffs right next to the Hudson river and then climbed to the top and followed the cliff edge back to the starting point.

We started the hike at the Palisades Interstate Commission Office by Exit 2 on the Palisade Parkway.  The weather was great.  Temps were in the 50’s, skies were clear blue.

Along the base of the cliffs there was absolutely no snow.  The trail took us through the public boat launch, which was closed this time of year.  At a trail intersection we had a 20 minute “packs off” break.  While at this break we studied the map that we had with us to make sure we “knew” where we were.  The map we had was very poor.  But the thinking was we couldn’t get lost because we were right next to the Hudson river.  Bad thinking.

Turns out that the intersection we had our break at was the intersection we should have taken to get back to the top of the cliffs.  Instead we continued along the base of the cliffs heading north.  We came to the giant steps, which we mistakenly believed led back to the top of the cliffs.  Instead the giant steps was a massive boulder field with rocks the size of cars and trailers.  The giant steps were leaps to the next rock.  This field of boulders was about 3/4 of a mile long and took us 1 1/2 hours to cross.  Also along the path the recent storms toppled dozens of large trees across the trail.  There were places that we had to pass the backpacks to each other so we could climb over and under the obstacles.  It was great to see the crew really working together to overcome the challenges.  The teamwork was excellent!!

We went about another mile before we realized that we made a mistake.  At that point we had 3 more miles moving forward or traverse back through the mess/maze of trees and rocks.  The crew elected to continue forward to the waterfall and then climb up the cliff face.  All in all this slight navigational error added 5 miles to a 7.5 mile hike.

As we made our way to the top of the cliffs, the snow gradually became deeper.  At this point we were all tired.  The snow made the progress all the more difficult.  When we reached the Lookout Inn, I went and bought a real set of maps for the trail.  Yes, it was after the damage was done, but the maps will come in handy on future hikes.  We ended up hiking back on Route 9 heading south to avoid the snow and allow us to get back to the cars at a reasonable pace.  As it was originally we thought we would be done by 1pm.  Instead we completed the hike around 3:30pm.

If you haven’t hiked along the Palisades, I would highly recommend it.  The views were spectacular, both from the base of the cliffs and from the top.  I would also highly recommend you plan to follow the trail through the giant steps and by the waterfall.  Our navigational error took us through some awesome scenery and resulted in a hike that was adventurous! If we had stayed on our original plan, I sincerely believe this hike would have been a mediocre, less than memorable hike.  I would also suggest you use a real map and not a guide book 😉

Skiing with the Scouts

We had an excellent day on Saturday skiing at Camelback with the Scouts.  The weather was a very nice 40 – 45 degree day with clear blue skies.  The slopes were loaded with fresh packed powder snow.  The conditions could not have been better.  In fact it very well may have been one of the best days, weather wise, of skiing that I’ve had.

We had 13 scouts join us.  Their skill levels were as varied as it could possibly be.  We had several first timers who tried either skiing or snowboarding.  My son was able to join up with another scout who had similar skill levels.  They took off for the intermediate and expert trails.  I didn’t see the two of them for about two hours.  The first time skiers were able to pick up enough skill so that by the afternoon they were able to come down the easier trails from the top of the mountain.  We had one bad incident where one of the boys took a bad fall and injured his shoulder.  He tried to get some air over a bump and caught the edge of his board.  He landed on his shoulder.  if it wasn’t for this one injury, the day would have been perfect.

Since we were a group, we were mostly in the lower Sun Bowl lodge.  It was the first time I was in this lodge at Camelback.  The food there was nothing to write about, but the parking and accessibility.  Wow.  I was parked within 75 feet of the lodge.  Had I known how close and accessible it was, I would have packed a cooler.

The one memorable fall was with my friend Dave.  He was wearing black ski pants and a blue jacket.  We were making our way down the bottom part of the run when a newbie girl came down the hill and lost control.  She came right behind him, interlocking her skis with his and giving him a great big hug.  All I saw was this black, blue and pink blur with snow flying.  After the fall, she bounces up all bright & bubbly and says “Oh my bad, so sorry” and skis off.  Mean while, Dave is a crumpled pile on the ground trying to figure out what just happened.  As he recovers and we regroup, I’m thinking “Gee if you were so sorry, why didn’t you help the guy up”.  Of course I had more colorful language at the time.  This is one of the drawbacks to skiing in the Poconos.  Due to the close proximity of the city and the suburbs, there are a lot of people  on the slopes who just can’t ski. They think that just because they can survive getting down the mountain that they don’t need lessons.  Oh, if only Vermont wasn’t so far away…..