Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday - St. Bees to Ennerdale

@1900- Miles Traveled: 20

What a day! I did roughly 20 miles (thats why my feet hurt!) from St. Bees to the Ennerdale Youth Hostel. So far I am the only one here in the dorm, but there are many families here.

For dinner? Cumbrian sausage casserole and a Hesket Newmarket Brewery Ale (Lost in the Mist) with a minestrone soup to start. Absolutely brilliant way to end the hike day.

The weather in St Bees was less than lovely when I set off this morning. It felt like 20mph winds but still the views were dramatically beautiful although completely different than the day before. As I wound round the coast, it was hard not to notice the red rocks comprising the cliffs. The sea, not to be outdone, was especially loud and boisterous, with sea foam being plucked up by the wind and flung along the coast.

Around Cleator was where the weather cleared. I started seeing specks of blue in the sky, and by the time I puffed up to the top of Dent Hill (about 353m) the weather was fantastic. True I had to deal with bog like ground (SO glad I had Gor-Tex) but looking at the hills that lay before me put a spring in my step.

Today at dinner I talked to 2 groups of people. One was a bunch of guys who took a cab from Ennerdale Bridge when they discovered it was another 5 miles from town (wish I thought of that!). They claimed to be cabbing back and walking around the lake (see right) in the morning.. .we shall see! :) The other group looked like a grandfather/father/son combo. It was awesome to see a 60 year old pacing with his grandson. Hopefully I will see them again on the trail!

I hope to do Red Pike tomorrow, all depends on the weather. I am getting a bit nervous about Helvellyn, but I a few days to think about it!

Saturday - Journey to St Bees

0900: There is a man standing at our train stop with Aloha board shorts. Never mind its scraping 60 degrees with the ominous smell of rain in the air. Never mind.

I am about an hour outside Manchester and to my first changeover to reach St. Bees. The thought of tomorrow lingers in my mind like the saturated clouds in the sky. First day: 18 miles. I did about 8 yesterday in Cardiff and my legs feel funny. Should have worn my hiking boots-- shit.

I seriously contemplated not doing this walk. However I invested too much effort (and money) to back down now. Plus I know I would by angry at myself for failing.

Sheep. Sheep everywhere. I hope to see many on my C2C. We Americans love seeing farm animals, maybe because it takes us a while to get to them in the cities in the States?

I will say one good thing about the rain- it makes for a lovely green countryside. It almost likke like waves of green slowly undulating in the breeze. The animals dotting the countryside are simply floating about- wading this was and that to tasty morsels.

I wonder what the Irish Sea will look like. Will it be tumultous proceeding the rain? Or will is be tranquil a la calm before the strom? I am not sure what it will be, regardless I am nervous and excited about being one step closer to my 190 mile journey.

My friend Kyle was so nervous about his bike ride across Africa he puked. Let's hope for the sake of everyone else on the train I do not follow suit.

@1630: Finally! I arrived at St. Bees. I am staying at Tomlin Guest House which is conveniently located near Mile 0 of the C2C. The sun is out (gasp!) so I am heading out to snap some photos of the Irish Sea before dinner

@ 2101: Just come back from a lovely dinner at the Queens. Can never go wrong with a pint and fish n chips... battered in Jennings (a local Lake District ale). I also had a warm chickpea and goat cheese salad to sart, with a tangy lime and cilantro dressing. Lotsa carbs and protein for tomorrow!

The Irish Sea is -amazing-. However I think its the surrounding landscape which truly makes itawe inspiring. Beautiful green cliffs rolling seamlessly into the sea. The itself stretches for what seems like miles (but I know it ends... duh). I puchased my obligatory postcard from the cream tea shop (also an obligatory place in a seaside town) for the wall, I wonder how many I can collect.

As I peer outside I see rain on my windowsill. That's fine-- please just stop by tomorrow morning. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cyfarchion o Gaerdydd!

View from Cardiff Bay
Today I decided to head to Cardiff for the day. Why? Well because it was 17 GBP return (which still seems like a good deal to me) and I had never been! Well also to do more walking in prep for my big walk... which is scarily really close. It definitely was a great time, with lots to be seen by both shopaholics and green space lovers alike.

First off-- shopping. Right near the Central Station there are huge shopping centers, St Davids and Queens Arcade. Along St. Marys street there are tons of additional stores and restaurants, including two of my favorites, Wagamama's and Nando's. Needless to say my mother could probably spend hours upon hours and a lot of my inheritance money here.

Then of course you have history, Cardiff Castle is at the end of the shopping HALLO. I am a bear.streets (you literally can't miss it, unless you consider castles just another part of hum-drum) . Built in 55 AD (that's pretty old) it has been used for many purposes and seen its share of interesting history. Don't forget to check out the animal wall adjacent to it (and Bute Park) which is one of the most photographed locations in Cardiff.

Bute Park is both tranquil and historic, an epic chunk of green space in the heart of Cardiff. It is a great place to picnic or just sit in the sun and read. There is also a watertaxi which can take you to Cardiff Bay for 3 GBP (adult).

Along the Coast near Mermaid's QuaySpeaking of the bay-- there is a 10KM walk around the Bay which is a great way to take in the environment and some pretty spectacular views. This walk is aptly named: Cardiff Bay Trail. All that walking though might drum up quite an appetite or thirst, no worry! Mermaid Quay (pronounced 'key' to all Americans, please let me save you the embarrassment at my expense) has a ton of different cafes, restaurants, and bars to wet your whistle or whet your appetite.

I however, opted for something completely different and went to The Cricketers for an early dinner. Located dangerously close to the Cricket Grounds (which happened to be having a huge match going on), they serve tasty local ales and upscale pub food. The ale I had was Evan Evan's 'CWRW'. Now I do not know what that means (well I just checked and it means 'BEER'... AWESOME), but I do know it went down perfectly with my spring vegetables with spicy couscous & yogurt. There are plenty of books to read and the waitstaff is very friendly and patient.

So, even though Welsh is one of the scariest languages I have come across (I am going to check Rosetta Stone and see if I can learn a thing or two!), Cardiff is definitely a place I would come to again. There is so much more to see (and eat!) I would be a fool not to!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Utica BoilerMaker 10 Miler

So,I think I was more apprehensive clicking the 'submit' for this race than I was booking
my Coast 2 Coast hike. Somehow in my twisted little mind 190 miles walking is easier than 10
miles running. Of course this is preposterous, and with a click of a mouse I signed up for
Utica's Boilermaker 15K in July.

It's not that I do not think I can do it. I just hate running. I don't really know why. I enjoy the
runs on the hashses I do, however I think it's because its a group activity. So after this
statement any rational human would say "Ok Melissa, then just run in a group?" Yet I do not find that appealing either-- so I suppose its the beer at the hashes I keep coming back for? :)

Anyways the boilermaker in Utica is (according to Wikipedia) one of the largest 15k runs in
the United States (at least I will always be running with a group!). That however, was not what possessed me to sign up. It was the after-party. It has also been touted as one of the best post-run afterparties in the country (considering how small Utica is that is impressive), thanks to the 6,500 volunteers who help keep everything running. 6,500 is roughly half of the registered 15k runnners. Impressive!

The post-after party is sponsored by Matt Brewing company (also known as Saranac). This excites me for many reasons. The main one being I miss craft breweries (sorry Germany) and the United States excels in this category. It is also one of the oldest craft breweries in the United States, so they must be doing something right. It's location (the foot of the Adirondacks), also makes me happy, as forests and mountains make me feel at home.

This will make my German friends happy: "After working at the Duke of Baden Brewery of the Black Forest region in Baden, Germany, Francis Xavier Matt I immigrated to the United States in 1880. Matt worked at the Charles Bierbaur Brewery as lead salesman and brewmaster in Utica for a few years before reorganizing it into The West End Brewing Company in 1888." REDEEMED.

I am slightly nervous (once again so strange) about running a 15k, but after the Coast 2 Coast
I feel like I have a decent shot of at least finishing the run in a decent time. I hope to
be constantly running-- even if it is slowly.

If anyone else is going and would like to meet up-- just shoot me a message and we will see what we can do!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pints and Sweets... a wonderful addition to any hike

What is essential to every hike is some indulgent sweets and satisfying suds. Luckily I found some great ones while talking to friends and reading Country Walking (which actually has some amazing walks).

  • Kendal Mint Cakes: Think of it as energy bars from the mid-19th Century (and still to this day a mothers worst nightmare). It's pretty much sugar flavored with peppermint oil. It is still given to Irish Defense Forces as part of their 24-hour ration pack!
  • Grasmere Gingerbread: I do not even like gingerbread, but everyone says the Grasmere gingerbread is outta this world. I just so happen to be staying in the area, so coupled with a nice glass of milk I am sure this will please!
  • Hesket Newmarket Brewery: Local ales are always a plus, and they have a Helvellyn Gold which may be the proper pint to cap off the day I climb the mountain by the same name :)
Pubs (apparently) known for their selection of local ales in the Lake District. I hope to stop at one or two of these to sample their fare:
  • Sheperds Arms Hotel (Ennerdale Bridge)
  • Fox & Hounds Inn (Ennerdale Bridge)
  • Bridge Hotel (Buttermere)
  • Fish Hotel (Buttermere)
  • Honister's Yew Tree (Seatoller)
  • Borrowdale Hotel (Borrowdale)
  • Red Lion Hotel (Grasmere)
  • Wordsworth Hotel (Grasmere)
  • White Lion Inn (Patterdale)

mint cake photo from bbc.co.uk and the pint glass from anorakthing.blogspot.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cheltenham Circular Footpath

So I decided it would be best to NOT just putter around the house jobless and watch telly all day... no! This is England! It rains all the time-- so when I saw the weather for Thursday to be sunny ALL day, I decided it was time to do my first hike, the Cheltenham Circular Footpath.

So it was a bit aggressive- 26 miles (which is a marathon, which my old roomie would just do.... crazy) but I was undaunted. It was a bit of a pain to find a trailhead (I walked around 30 minutes trying to find one, and had to ask someone for help). To be honest, the hardest thing about the trail was FINDING the markers, and sometimes they had markers which went against eachother (I find one post with 3 different markers going in 3 different directions).

However, the views were spectacular! And I saw sheep, bunnies, alpacas, cows, horses, ducks and piggies!

To be brutally honest, I only walked 24.75 miles (2808 calories!) but we walked to the Beehive to meet friends so it came to about 26 miles (and it came with cheese nachos!!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Coast to Coast Maps!

So I finally found some maps of the entire Coast To Coast route... they are broken into 2 maps. They are (British) GPS compatible, and waterproof. The west map covers St.Bee's to Keld, and the East one covers Keld to Robin's Hood Bay. Now the book is nice for maps but this one shows contour lines (ie so now you know exactly how much elevation you gained in a day, or dread how many you will gain the next). I figure I will work with the book first and default to the maps if I am not sure. Plus lets be honest, we all know it will rain so a waterproof map sounds like the way forward.

Anyways you can get both for abut 25GBP at www.coasttocoastmap.co.uk. Or try www.harveymaps.co.uk (these guys actually make the maps!)

I somehow survived Hash Fest Weekend, 2 days of running, and three days of drinking. A bit crazy-- but so incredibly fun! I am looking forward to hashing in England! Now its back to the normal training routine-- running out of time!

Since I am now in the UK-- I tried my hand at scone-making. I substituted
whipping cream for milk, and wowee what a treat! You almost do not even need clotted cream.... but you know, its tradition to have it so.... :)

I do not understand why people say British food is horrible. I think every country has something they should be ashamed of (USA-- see every fast food chain) so its best to sort thru what is out there and make the best of it!
For example, England makes some of the best cheese and ale in the world. You cannot really get the same cheese in the US because we pasteurize our cheese, the Brits don't. I guarantee you that after sampling some lovely Cheddar (like this one), cheddar in the States will be a joke.

Photo of tasty scones from: http://www.theage.com.au/

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Looking back... and forward

So I would be lying if I said I was ONLY excited to be leaving Deutschland. Do not get me wrong, I am excited, but I am also nervous/sad/scared/excited. In the 17 or so months I have been in Germany I have seen and done some amazing things. Some highlights:

  • Hiking around the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
  • Paragliding over the Alps in Switzerland
  • Karnival in Venice
  • Tomatina in Spain
  • Walking the Seine with my parents in Paris (a place my mom has always wanted to visit)
  • Oktoberfest in Munchen
  • Hiking the Black Forest
  • Biking the Bodensee

I have seen some amazing things, but honestly what I will miss the most are all my friends. It was them who made most of these trips more memorable than they ever could be alone. Luckily I am not going too far so visiting is a quick flight away!

So I am already thinking ahead to next year... what could my next big adevnture be? I want it to include a continent I have not yet been too, so Asia/Australia/Africa/South America. Some thoughts:

  1. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina: With all this hoopla about global warming, its nice to see a glacier bucking the trend and actually GROWING

  2. Stok Kangri, India: One of the highest places a human can go by just hiking (i.e. nothing technical required)

  3. Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: Maybe paired with a Safari this could be a fun two or three weeks!

  4. Safari, Africa: see above :)

  5. Annapurna Trail, Nepal: I have heard amazing things about this trail from friends... so always a bit of a safer bet!

  6. Diving the Great Barrier Reef - Cairns, Australia: Diving. Enough Said.

  7. Inca Trail, Peru: Would have to make sure I go at the right time... but I bet the photos you could take in the morning would be AMAZING. Something about being in a place so old, it breathes history
Either way I know I need to stay focused on my task at hand (the Coast 2 Coast). I am super excited about it ,I am packing what I need now so I can ensure the movers do not take something to storage!

A friend hinted to me something about Grasmere gingerbread... but refused to divulge more details until later. I am drooling over here!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some photos from Switzerland...

Sorry guys, I have been busy getting ready for the big move! I have been doing OK with working out, but could be better :)

Here are some photos from my trip to Lauterbrunnen. I highly suggest the place!