Category Archives: Photography

Pedal & paddle: Bike SUP experiment

21 September 2022

Bike & Standup Paddle-board / 8.8 miles (bike) & 1.8 miles (SUP) / 3 hrs 7 minutes / River level 2.2 ft

Some brief notes from my bike SUP test mission. I rode along the C&O canal to Huckleberry Hill campsite, transferred to the river for a couple of miles, and then loaded up again and rode home.

Bike loaded on the front of the paddleboard

I’ve wanted to do this trip for a long time, to combine two of my passions: biking and paddleboarding.

The inspiration came from these two NRS articles: Pedal to Paddle and How to Bike Shuttle Your SUP Trips.

Biking with a paddleboard

This is the easier of the two configurations. Paddleboards are heavy and bulky so the trailer is a great tool to use.

It would be hard to ride with the SUP backpack, they’re not that portable. For backpacking, packrafts would be a better option.

I have a Burley Flatbed trailer, which is ideal for carrying the SUP rolled up.

Towing the SUP on the trailer

The trailer is easy to ride with and barely noticeable, until you start riding uphill. And then it becomes VERY noticeable.

The ride up the hill from the C&O towpath was much harder than usual (without the trailer). My legs were like jelly by the time I got home 😉

Paddleboarding with a bike

This is the more challenging of the two modes of travel. You need to ensure the bike and trailer are strapped on tightly and balanced (left to right and front to back). Also, you need to leave enough room to stand and paddle comfortably.

I put the bike on the front, with the front wheel removed. I used Sea to Summit Hook Release Accessory Straps to attach the bike and cord to tie down the front wheel and the trailer. (I’ve ordered more of those straps for next time though.)

I used some packaging foam as padding under the bike, to protect the board from abrasion.

The bike mounted on the board

It worked really well!

I had to be slightly more careful when paddling, mainly because I didn’t want to fall onto the bike. On flat water I could barely notice the extra weight though, and the stability was not affected.

The small yellow dry bag held a few accessories like sunscreen and snack bars

Approaching Harpers Ferry. Maryland Heights is the mountain on the left skyline.

At the takeout, getting ready to transfer back to the bike to ride home

Check out this instagram post for more photos.

Hiking Around Harpers Ferry With The UK Family

December 2021

My brother — ordinarily based on the other side of the world in Australia — made a surprise visit to see us here in Harpers Ferry, in December 2021.

With the pandemic, it’s been over 2 years since we last caught up in person. Last time we had an amazing hike around the Glyders in North Wales. What would we do this time?

Here’s a breakdown of our hikes from the week:

  • Thursday 12/9: Bolivar Heights loop: 3.57 miles, 442 ft ascent, 1 hr 15 mins
  • Friday 12/10: Armory Trail loop: 4.53 miles, 408 ft ascent, 1 hr 43 mins
  • Saturday 12/11: Loudoun Heights: 8.02 miles, 1,752 ft ascent, 3 hrs 36 minutes
  • Saturday 12/11: Hike to lower town with Pete, Lexi and the boys: 3.73 miles, 338 ft ascent, 2 hrs 52 minutes
  • Sunday: 12/12: Chicken Power event with Pete, Lexi and the boys: 1.46 miles, 300 ft ascent, 45 minutes
  • Monday 12/13: Three Peaks with Pete (Weverton Cliffs, Maryland Heights/Stone Fort, and Loudoun Heights): 24.27 miles, 4,304 ft ascent, 11 hrs 36 minutes
  • Wednesday 12/15: To the Power Lines and back with Pete and Lexi: 10.65 miles, 1,778 ft ascent, 5 hrs 5 minutes

My mum and her partner Dave then arrived (I knew about this trip!) a week later too, so I had a lot of my UK family together for the first time in over 2 years.

My mum didn’t know about Pete’s arrival, so he surprised her with a wonderful prank 😉

  • Thursday 12/16: Walk around the neighborhood with Pete, Lexi, Mum, and Dave: ~2.5 miles (forgot to do Strava)
  • Friday 12/17: Maryland Heights lookout with Pete, Mum, and Dave: 6.12 miles, 1,379 ft ascent, 4 hrs 38 minutes
  • Saturday 12/18: Walk to Hilltop hotel lookout with Pete, Lexi, Mum, Dave, and the boys: 2.61 miles, 148 ft ascent, 1 hr
  • Sunday 12/19: Home to Raven Rocks with Pete: 20.96 miles, 3,864 ft ascent, 9 hrs 12 minutes
  • Monday 12/20: Bolivar Heights and mushroom trail: 2.72 miles, 257 ft ascent, 58 minutes

Pete flew home to Australia on the Monday afternoon.

  • Thursday 12/23: Loudoun Heights with mum and Dave: 8.05 miles, 1,789 ft ascent, 3 hrs 30 minutes
  • Sunday 12/26: Weverton Cliffs from home with mum, Dave (second half), Lexi and the boys (for the climb): 11.64 miles, 1,182 ft ascent, 6 hrs 22 minutes
  • Monday 12/27: Bolivar Heights with Lexi and Dave: 2.22 miles, 215 ft ascent, 45 minutes
  • Tuesday 12/28: Stone Fort loop with Lexi: 10.01 miles, 1,548 ft ascent, 3 hrs 31 minutes
  • Thursday 12/30: To the Hilltop Hotel lookout with mum: 2.14 miles, 230 ft ascent, 40 minutes

Loudoun Heights, Saturday 12/11

I’ve written about the two longer hikes (3 peaks and Raven Rocks) separately but here are a few photos from our hike up Loudoun Heights. As this is my go-to mountain trail, I was excited to show it to Pete.

Showing Pete the local trails (on the way up Loudoun Heights)
Pete close to Split Rock lookout on Loudoun Heights
Harpers Ferry from Split Rock lookout on Loudoun Heights
Brothers at the lookout on Loudoun Heights, 11 December 2021

Cloud Inversion From Maryland Heights

Just a quick post to show some photos of the incredible cloud inversion I saw on a recent hike up Maryland Heights.

My original plan was to hike the Stone Fort loop, but as I crossed the river through the cloud and then climbed higher on the trail, I knew there was a good chance of seeing a cloud inversion. So I skipped the Stone Fort loop and headed for the lookout. It was spectacular and there was no one else around!

Harpers Ferry rose out of cloud like an island, with thick fog clinging to the river valleys of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

It was a stunning morning!

Cloud inversion from Maryland Heights showing Harpers Ferry
Panorama from Maryland Heights overlook
View of Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights overlook
View looking upriver of the Potomac River, with the cloud creeping up the side of Maryland Heights
I was a tad excited with the views on this occasion!
As the sun rose, the cloud thinned and Harpers Ferry lower town emerged fully, bathed in sunshine.

More photos here on Instagram.

Route details on Strava: 7.79 miles / 1,553 ft ascent / 3 hours

Old Rag Mountain and Robertson Mountain Double Header

13th July 2021

13 miles / 4,000 ft ascent / ~10 hours

Panorama from the summit of Robertson Mountain (click to enlarge)

Lexi’s parents came to stay with us for a few days after the family vacation, which meant we could get away for a few days just the two of us. It was our first adventure together in nearly 18 months, because of the pandemic. We were excited!

I found a cabin on AirBnb near the base of Old Rag mountain. We’ve climbed it before, in 2019, and had such a good experience that we decided to go back. It’s also near Sperryville, a cute town in Virginia with a wonderful coffee shop (another reason to return).

Old Rag is one of the most popular mountain climbs on the East coast (All Trails route), probably on account of the fantastic rock scramble along the summit ridge. We set off early to avoid the crowds and the heat; it was forecast to get to 95 F (35 C). Yikes!

The first part of the walk, from the car park to the ridge line, is a pleasant walk through the forest.

After a couple of hours of walking, and about 3 miles into the hike, we reached the shoulder of Old Rag. We stopped at the lookout here, refueled and readied ourselves for the ridge scramble that follows.

For a flavor of what the ridge scrambling was like, here’s some footage from the scramble up Old Rag:

The scramble is a ton of fun! Never hard but entertaining from start to finish, it’s a real joy. It’s physical: you have to pull yourself up and over blocks and down and through canyons, which is great fun and distracts you from the heat and one’s weariness.

The scramble along the ridge line takes you all the way to the summit. Even with our early start (we were walking by 6.30am) there were already other groups up here.

The views are spectacular from the summit. Shenandoah to the West, Robertson Mountain to the North and the Virginia plains to the East.

Robertson Mountain is the conical, wooded mountain to the right, below the ridge line in the distance. It’s slightly higher than Old Rag.

As we looked across to Robertson Mountain, I asked Lexi “hey we could climb that today if you’re interested?”. Nevermind that it was hot as hell, we had plenty of water. Game on!

We descended off the back of Old Rag, passing Byrd shelter and Old Rag shelter. At the fire road junction where returning hikers turn right to head back to the car park, we continued straight on.

The hike up the fire road, in the heat and blazing sun, felt interminable. Eventually we reached the turn off for the trail up Robertson Mountain.

We’ve climbed this mountain before, on day 3 of this trip.

The summit is tiny and overgrown with trees and brush. A few big boulders and breaks still give tremendous views, including back towards Old Rag where we’d come from that morning.

The descent off Robertson Mountain was the crux of our route. It was a steep, loose trail for 1.6 miles back to the fire road. Easy to follow but hard on one’s knees. We were happy to reach the relative comfort of the fire road!

From there it was a couple of easy miles back to the car, with a quick dip in the river en route to cool off our weary feet.

All in all, it was an amazing day out!

City Hike #3: Copenhagen, Denmark

Part 3 of a series of “hikes in big cities”. For Parts 1 and 2, walks around San Francisco and New York, click here (NYC) and here (SF).

December 10, 2019

I had a few hours free in Copenhagen, Denmark, after leading a Google Sheets training workshop for a client.

It was a chance to fit in an exploratory nighttime ramble through the heart of this pretty city.

This was my approximate route, starting from hotel Skt Petri where I was staying, and taking in the Lego shop (of course!), the Skaal craft brew house (for dinner and beer) and Starbucks (for a cup of tea).

map

European cities are beautiful at this time of year.

They’re pedestrian- and bike-friendly of course, which I love, and full of wonderful architecture and old buildings.

But they really shine (pun intended) at this time of year.

They deck the streets with lights, people walk around hand-in-hand past Christmas markets, and everyone has a glow, a warmth, about them. At this time of year, London is like this too.

Here are a few photos from my short foot journey:

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Lights along the Fiolstræde street near the hotel

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A gorgeous courtyard, tucked away down a side passage

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Christmas tree in the square near to Skaal brew house where I had dinner

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Reindeer at the Kultorvet (“The Coal Market”)

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Quintessential European culture — a cafe with seating on the sidewalk. People sit out, even at this time of year, to watch the world go by.

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The imposter Lego shop! It had a great selection but the official Lego shop was further down the street (I visited of course, but didn’t get a photo there).

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Saying hello to Santa.

One day I’ll have to return for a longer walk and include some of the parks and lakes.