Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Highland Ride (8/16/09)

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Trip: Loop through the Central Highlands of Maine
Distance: 54.5 miles
Difficulty: Medium - Hard (One tough hill from the Kennebec up Rte. 16)
Sights: Kennebec River, Withee Pond

After 9 holes of golf with my dad at Dexter Municipal, we returned to the Otter Forest. I determined to go on a long ride, as I hadn't been on the road since I was in Croatia.

I looked into the map. Found a good loop and was off.

While the hill out of the Kennebec was tough it was worth it for the views of wilderness and especially Withee Pond near the top.

No misadventures.

In Search of . . . Little Wilson Falls (8/15/09)

Earlier in the summer my mother and her friend had tried to locate "Little Wilson Falls." It appeared an easy hike in my moms 50 Maine Hikes book.

Well, maybe it was once you found the trailhead. As they crossed and recrossed the stream trying to find the trailhead, they found way more water and rapids than they had anticipated on a land hike. They did find the trail eventually, but by then were tired and went into town and had a beer.

So, mom and I determined to find the Falls on this hike. She knew where to cross the stream and start on the trail.

We successfully navigated the slippery rocks and found the trail. Unfortunately, the map was not as helpful as it could have been and the sign for the left turn onto the AT did not exist.

However, we found the right turn onto the AT and instead hiked up for about 1.5 hours into the Maine woods.

No Little Wilson Falls, but we still had fun.

On our return, we were shown by a man from Bristol, TN how to get to Wilson Falls - next time.

Hedgehog Mountain (8/8/09)

View Mt. Hedgehog Hike in a larger map

Trip: Hiking the UNH Loop Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Sights: Eastern Ledges,

Upon return from the Balkans, I worried about slipping into the lethargic decadence that Edward Gibbon would have warned us off from.

So on Saturday, my mom and I headed out to the White Mountains. Over the Kancamagus Pass across from the Passaconaway Campground is the parking for the trail head.

In about one hour we had hiked up to the Eastern Ledges with fantastic views of the White Mountains. Another 45 minutes and you have summited Hedgehog Mountain. Then the loop continues down the mountain and back to the parking at the trailhead.

Nothing terribly exciting; but it’s a good hike.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bikespedition – 2009 (April 23 – August 5)

Miles: 1501
Countries on Bike: Greece, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia
Countries on Foot/Train/Plane: Serbia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (Sweden and Iceland)

From April to August I visited Europe in a wild trip

Part 1 – Greece A: TEFL Shuffle (April 23 – May 23)

In Greece, Section A, I visited the ruins of Athens and my lifelong goals of seeing the Akropolis and Mycenae. I also got my certificate to teach English as a Foreign Language at TEFL-Corinth. At the Corinth Canal, I bungee jumped from the bridge.

Part 2 – Greece B: Across the Peninsula (May 23 – May 31)

In this week I cycled across the Peloponnesian Peninsula. From Corinth I visited Akrata, Patra and Ancient Olympia. Then I cycled to the Killini port to catch a ferry to Kefalonia.

Part 3 – Greece C: Rolling with the Turtles (June 1 – July 7)

For one month I volunteered with the Mediterranean Loggerhead Sea Turtle. I spent nights walking beaches and marking their nests while tagging sea turtles that had come onto the Kefalonian beaches to nest. Days were spent working in the environmental center in Katelios and visiting hidden beaches that were only seen by turtles and volunteers.

Part 3a – Boat Rides (July 7 – 9)

I had to take three boats through three countries to transport Schwarzfahrer and myself from Sami, Greece to Split, Croatia.

Part 4 – Croatia (July 9 – July 25)

I road from Split to Zagreb while visiting three national parks – Krka, Plitvicka Jezera and Paklinica. I saw the old cities of Split, Trogir, Sibenik and Zagreb (highly underrated) and bungee jumped for the second time – off the Sibenik Bridge.

Part 5 – Train Rides and Proverbial Rides (July 25 – July 28)

Took a train from Zagreb to Sofia. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Sofia, since my passport was stolen in Serbia. Then spent the next 3 days in Belgrade.

Part 6 – Alps, Falls and Home (July 28 – August 5)

I traveled by plane to Zurich. Where I visited Liechtenstein and the Rheinfall and visited my friend Raphael. Then by plane traveled home through Sweden and Iceland.

A complete review can be found in my special bikespedition-2009 blog. But highlights can be found below.

In 1501 miles cycling, 14 boat rides, 15 tram/subway trips, 8 train rides, 2 international bus trips I visited 9 countries: Greece, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Sweden and Iceland.

I slept in 22 places: 2 hostels, one apartment, 11 campgrounds, 2 hotels, a cottage, on the deck of 2 boats, a room over a tavern, on a train and in one friend’s apartment.

I also did countless hours of hiking – both for the turtles and my own edification. I kayaked over 50km, rowed and used a Croatian wooden boat each for a hour. I swam in 4 seas and 2 rivers. I also took 11 rides hitch hiking.

The highest point I attained (other than aboard planes):
1. Mt. Enos, Greece 1628 meters (5,341 feet)
2. Gaflei, Leichtenstein 1509 meters (4,950 feet)

Highest point I reached on bicycle
1. Lubovo Pass, Croatia 975 meters (3,198 feet)
2. Boske Ostanje Pass, Croatia 925 meters(3,035 feet)

Longest Day Cycling
Patra – Olympia 85 miles (137 km)

Worst Day Cycling
Duga Resa – Zagreb

Toughest Day Cycling
Paklenica National Park – Outside Gospic (Including the Boske Ostanje Pass)

Best Trip
1. Plitvicka Jezera National Park, Croatia
2. Argoloid (Mycenae, Nemea, Nafplio and Argos)

Toughest Climb
1. Boske Ostanje Pass, Croatia 925 meters
2. Akrokorinthos, Greece 609 meters

Best Campground
Camp Cikada, near Plivicka Jezera,

Worst Campground
Worst – Argostoli Beach, Greece
Worst for the Money – Camp Jezera, Murtar

Best Bike Mechanic
Pantelis -

Top Speed
38 mph (61km/h) on the Krka Loop Ride

Silliest Thing I did
Flip over a turtle

Most Frightening Moment
1. Sliding down the cliff while trying to climb Mt. Enos
3. Bungee jumping the first time
100+ km days

5 things I’d do again
1. Plitvicka Jezera National Park
2. Krka National Park
3. Bungee jump over the Corinth Canal
4. Kayak in the Ionian Sea
5. The whole idea

5 Things I’d do if I could do it over again
1. Not get my passport stolen
2. Not reschedule parts of my dream trip
3. Learn psi vs bar
4. Ship 50lbs back to the US
5. Bring a better tent

5 favorite views from the trip
1. Anywhere in Plitvicka Jezera, Croatia
2. Overlooking Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece
3. Sitting in the park at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
4. The stars in Mreznicki Brig, Croatia
5. The gorge we went through on the train ride back to Belgrade, Serbia

5 most annoying people (or groups)
5. The French people sitting on the stairs at Perahora who got pissed when I wanted to walk down the only way to the site.
4. Family who made me walk the speed of their 5 year old most of the way down from Manta Pec in Paklenica.
3. Serbian Guy at the Information booth in Belgrade Train Station who told me there were no ATMs or Bankomats in Belgrade.
2. The guy who stole my passport.
1. The American woman who had to be talked into the 3 more euros to go to the museum at Olympia. Site – 6 euros; Site+Museum – 9 euros. She didn’t want to waste 3 euros to see the best collection of marble statues in Greece. And, she probably wonders why Europeans think Americans are idiots.

Money I made it home with
7 CHF - $6.56
180 ISK - $1.43
30 SEK - $4.19
10.45 HRK - $2.04
15 euro cents - $0.21
167 SRD - $2.89
Total - $17.32

Best Picture:
Akrata Beach Sunset
From Vrachati - Akrata

Best Pic of Me:
1. Boske Ostanje Pass, Croatia
From mmm...maybe not

2. Bungee Jump at the Sibenik Bridge, Croatia
From One Short Ride

Silliest Pic
Monkey Men
From Katelios

Best Group Picture
From Argoloid 2

Alas, I have now returned from the trip and look to the next step in life.

Tino Pai,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rheinfall and Hike (8/4/09)

Distance: 7 miles
Trip: Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall – Andelfingen
Sites: Rheinfall, Rhine River, Sunflower and corn fields
Difficulty: Easy

So I really wanted to climb a mountain pass in Switzerland. But, I was convinced to go see the Rheinfall. And, they were right, it was incredible!

I took the train out to Schloss Laufen (which, of course, was being repaired). Then down to the docks where you can catch a boat to the falls and stand on an outcropping amidst them. They are like a short Niagara Falls – anybody traveling to Northern Switzerland is implored to see them.

After seeing the falls, I set out on my hike. I walked down the Rhine for the first hour and then broke off following a path through the corn and sunflower fields.

Nothing terribly exciting and definitely I’d do it next time in the other direction so that the falls are the end rather than beginning of the trip.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hiking the Mouse that Roared (8/1/09)

Gaflei, Liechtenstein
Trip: Vaduz – Gaflei – Vaduz
Starting Altitude: 450 meters
Highest Point: 1509 meters

When I was about 8, I remember reading this book called “Europe of Yesterday and Today.” It was from the 1960s (being an American school library book). Each country in Western Europe was individually profiled. It led me to read further books in the series: “Germany of Yesterday and Today” and “France of Yesterday and Today.”

But what really interested me was the nation of Liechtenstein. It was a tiny principality that had fewer people than my neighborhood in Atlanta. Its entire army was made up of 14 policemen. Its major connection with the world outside was its postage stamps. My father had me watch the movie The Mouse that Roared because of my interest.

I decided that day I was going to see Liechtenstein one day. It was one of those things that would always be on my lifelong list.

Raphael kept telling me I was crazy: “Liechtenstein sucks.” But, I was going to do it damn it. And when I was in Zurich the first time, we had planned to make a side trip. That hadn’t worked out, but now I was doing it.

I took the train from Zurich to Sargans (near the border). From there I took a “Liechtenstein Bus” into Vaduz.

Admittedly, there really isn’t anything to do in Liechtenstein. So, I figured I’d hike up into the Alps.


I made my way from Vaduz and past the Vaduz Castle. And then up and up and up until the village of Gaflei – 1509 meters. So the net gain was over 1000 meters. And, I did it carrying all my camping equipment. Of course I regretted carrying all the equipment once I couldn’t get a camp site on the Walensee.

The views of the Alps – Swiss, Austrian and Liechtenstein(ian?) were absolutely amazing. If I had more time I would have hiked even higher, but alas I had to get to those campgrounds to not get a site.