Bowman Mountain, Massanuttens, GWNF Virginia

I saw this mountain last year. I liked it because there was no trail to the top and it was sandwiched between a bunch of ATV trails which meant that other hikers and hunters would avoid it. Since we are right in the beginning of bow season in Virginia I decided this was a good time to climb Bowman Mountain. I also wanted to camp at the summit and enjoy the views.

I was able to use some of the ATV trails in my route, but the summit was void of hiking trails but did have some bear trails to the north. I didn't see any dear but I did see a tree stand. I can only assume that a hunter might have his eye on the bear that lives on the summit and has prepared his location accordingly. I didn't see the bear but I am pretty sure he was around.

The summit has good views of Duncan Knob and some views of Short Ridge Mountain, that will probably be much better once the leaves are off the trees. As far as I could tell there aren't any good places to set up a large tent, but I found a place on the bear trail to sleep. I met a dirt biker on the OHV trail near Taskers Gap on the return.

Bowman Mountain Massanuttens Virginia

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Paddy Mountain, 3 High Heads, South Section, Virginia

Kids, don't try this at home. Really, I mean that.

If you are thinking of doing what I just did, you better know your GPS and you better be in shape. This is NOT the trek to try out hand-me-down Garmin that your brother gave you because he bought a new one.

I spent the better part of the summer planning this little caper. I looked at every angle of Paddy Mountain trying to figure out a way up and down. I looked at the aerial imagery and the USGS TOPOs and determined there was no easy approach. There is a reason this mountain is untrailed: It's a pile of rocks, and where there are no rock there is mountain laurel that is intertwined in one big knot.

Although I didn't take this route, the easiest way to the peak may be from the south ridge, you might start where the Tuscarora Trail turns westward. My route was counterclockwise, I went up the west slope and down the east side. I went up a rock slide I went down a rock slide. Naturally, I decided to err on the side of stupidity and didn't take a cell phone or a PLB. It didn't matter, if I had fallen there would have been no way to get me down anyway. I would have been turkey vulture snack food. I did not take any pictures of the rock slides because I was having enough trouble keeping my balance, I wasn't going to start fooling with my camera. You are going to have to take my word they exist.

Lucky for me I had planned everything quite carefully, my DeLorme PN40 was loaded up with the USGS Topos 1:24 which proved very helpful in deciding the route. Every contour counted. I was very happy I summited and even happier when I saw the minivan. Damn I'm good.

Paddy Mountain 3 High Heads

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Fleur de Fort

I finally finished Fleur de Fort. My life is an artist has been most tortured, but through shear determination I was able to complete my masterpiece. Enjoy.

Here it is on Everytrail.

Fleur de Fort

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Artscape 2009

I Everytrailed Artscape. Enjoy my pictures, they include some from Otakon as well.

Artscape 2009

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The Key Bak SECURIT 488BSD Retractable Keychain Reel - A Customer Review

For those of us avid users of handheld GPSrs we know that finding a convenient way to utilize the units, maxmize exposure to overhead satellites and fasten GPSrs securely to outdoor garb and gear can be a challenge. Due to the importance of not losing or damaging my GPSr, I decided to order the Rolls Royce of retractable Keychain Reels, the 488B Super Duty from Key Bak.

This product sells for $15.99 and cannot be purchased directly from the Key Bak company for individual sale. For purchase you will have to call Joan over at the CTL Company at 800 995 8281. Joan charged me $15.99 plus a buck for shipping which seemed like a fair price.

My fascination with the 488BSD focused primarily on the carabineer clip feature, I simply am not comfortable with a belt clip, they don't seem secure enough to withstand scraping against rock and being dragged on the ground, too much potential for the fastener to fail. For me it isn't the loss of the GPSr, but the fact that without it I am very lost in the woods and I make it a practice not to carry a map, phone or compass as they are just extra things that take up room in my pack.

Although I am not sure what type of metal is used for the clip, it seems sturdy enough, it certainly isn't plastic. The clip is attached to the reel with a piece of flat nylon strap. This may be the weak link for the 488BSD, as I wish the strap material was a little heftier. The reel cover is 2 inches in diameter and 0.4 inches thick, it is made out of hefty black plastic. Please note, this reel is NOT made out of metal so you don't have to worry about satellite interference or attracting attention with a bright shiny metal beacon. It came with a keyring but I switched it out to one that I liked. I am using the product with a Kevlar cord although according to the site you can get one with a metal chain.

The Kevlar cord has a 36 inch reach and advertises a 13-15 oz retraction force, and I must admit it keeps my PN40 retracted firmly in place unless I pull on it with my hand. The assembly is about 6 inches long, I find it best to attach the clip to the handle on the back of my day pack at the back of my neck. I'm left handed so I swing the unit over to my left shoulder and keep the GPSr firmly in place between my boobies with the sternum strap. This gives me easy access to the unit as well as keeping the batteries warm in cold weather. My biggest concern before I ordered the 488BSD was that my luscious blond hair would get caught in the Kevlar cord retraction, so far that has not been a problem.

The Key Bak company offers a Life Time Service Policy and I am sure that at some point in the future they will rue the day they sold me a product, as I tend to use these things decades from the time I make a purchase and long after the product is available for sale. Either way, it's there if you need it.

I have owned the 488BSD now for 2 months and have no issues so far, I've dropped it, I've dragged it on the forest floor, I've attached it to my car's dashboard and various beltloops, so far so good. It still looks new. If you agree with me or don't, please feel free to leave a polite comment.

Update 12/14/11 SelectLocks appears to be offering this product on the Internet for $12.95.

Baltimore East Side Cemetery Photowalk

My blog is seriously starting to repeat itself. This time I took a small segment of my usually East Baltimore hike and concentrated on taking pictures. We went from Baltimore Cemetery to Greenmount, enjoying the neighbhorhoods in between. Here is the result thanks to Everytrail, if you want to read the associated snark click where is says "Baltimore East Side Photowalk" which will take you into the Everytrail site:

Baltimore East Side Photowalk

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DeLorme TOPO USA Version 8.0 - A Review

Tired of hiking only where there is a park approved trail? Afraid of venturing into the outback because you don't trust your paper maps? Always wanted to know what was beyond that electrified and closely guarded fence line? Have no fear, the DeLorme product family is the place for you.

DeLorme TOPO software is a product that gets better with each iteration and DeLorme TOPO USA Version 8.0 is no exception. This software is designed to work with PN series of handheld GPS receivers from DeLorme as well as the yearly $29.99 subscription to DeLorme's Netlink server, but also works fine as a stand-alone product for those wishing to dip their toe into this expansive and useful topography package. This time DeLorme has married the best parts of its popular road routing Street Atlas software with its well known TOPO product line, now giving the TOPO user voice commands to control the map and routing features, and TOPO V8 not only understands you but can respond verbally. If the user chooses to take their laptop on the road with them and activate the GPS functionality they can use a new feature which is Nav Mode, allowing a driver to view next turn directions, speed, compass heading as well as a detailed road and contour map in the 2D map pane. GPS Radar is another addition that allows the user to search for general Points-of-Interest that may be a few miles ahead of them as one drives along a route.

Also new to TOPO 8.0 is a feature that allows the user to download from the Netlink server a map package not only for TOPO 8.0 but also the same map package already prepped for exchange with the DeLorme PN handheld family, no more map cell cutting! (NOAA charts not available for this feature yet). Netlink will allow you to download some High Resolution City aerial data, color aerial imagery, black and white aerial imagery and NOAA charts. Within the TOPO 8.0 software is detailed road data for Canada and major and secondary road data for Mexico. No contour data yet for those 2 countries but I would suppose they are working on it.

My gut feeling is that some of you not familiar with DeLorme products didn't understand a single word I wrote. But that's okay, I can speak English too. Let's say you want to go for a walk in the woods but you don't want to use a simple paper map that you buy at the store, you want more. You want to know exactly what geographical features are in the area, what your walk would be like in terms of the elevation profile, detailed directions to get to the trailhead and where the nearest Taco Bell is located for an after-hike burrito. You also want to mark up your map with notes and details that you might need along the way and you want it to look nice so you can print some copies to give to your buddies. This software will let you do that. If you spend more money and buy a DeLorme handheld GPS and the $30 yearly Netlink subscription you can do much, much more, you will never have to work with paper again and you will have much more fun in the woods. You will be given the tools to go wherever you want whenever you want without worry of ever getting lost or discombobulated.

Is all of this complicated? I'm not going to lie to you, it's complicated. Don't get into this unless you expect a learning curve. After working with this software for years now, I'm convinced that to make this vast array of features work effortlessly there is no other way to make it happen without some pain at the beginning. This isn't Garmin/MapSource amateur hour. But, as always, the good news is that DeLorme doesn't leave you without help. There is a DeLorme Wiki that can take you through the applications step by step that you need, there is a DeLorme forum that is available for you 24/7 frequented by seasoned DeLorme users that can help you with any snag, and you can always search the extensive forum archives for help if you are shy. If you have technical problems you can call DeLorme directly during daytime hours.

Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum Aircraft Display

To learn more about this Aviation Museum you can go here.

This was a photowalk. I don't know much about these planes other than they make pretty pictures. They are located at the Glenn L Martin Aviation Museum Aircraft Display Site. I guess these planes were fighter planes from the days of yore. My friend, John, organized a group of local photographers to join him in some photography of his favorite subject.

Martin Airport Photowalk

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Paddy Mountain, North Section, GWNF, Virginia

The Paddy Mountain ridge is in 2 sections bisected by Paddy Run in the GWNF in Virginia. There is a hiking trail up to a rocky outcropping over the Halfmoon on the Northern part of Paddy Ridge. The trail up to the rocky outcropping is marked with cairns, which is unusual because the rest of the trails in the area are blazed. I'm placing this gpx file (kml too) on Everytrail, so click on the map below where it says "Paddy Mountain" if you wish to use my information to find the trail. You can download either the gpx or the kml for free over there. If you walk along the power line clearing that intersects with the Vances Cove parking area, enter the forest on the north side and pick up my gpx line, you will quickly come across the cairns and can ascend from there. So use your handheld GPS or simply make a copy of the map. Once you get in the forest near the power lines you will easily find the cairns, they are hard to miss.

Paddy Mountain

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If you find any of this helpful, please drop me a note. Thanx.

Ghosts of Druid Hill Park placemarks/waypoints/photos

I'm updating this entry on 8/20/10

Last year a bunch of my friends and I did photowalk in Druid Hill Park on a very cold day in January. The photos are in conjunction with Adam Paul's Ghosts of Druid Hill Park site so you need to go there for an explanation of what this post is about.

I am going to add a couple of maps here so that they can be usable for anyone with a GPS. The Google Map site is good for anyone that has a Droid, Windows, Blackberry or Verizon phone, save it "My Maps" and you can use it. The EveryTrail Map is good for anyone with an iPhone or wants to download the gpx or kml placemark files. Choose your poison, I don't care what you do.

Google Maps

Click on this link for Ghosts of Druid Hill Park Baltimore for a Google Map to use with your Droid

Click on these links and they will take you to a new window in Google Maps

Colored Pool
Grove of Remembrance
Howard P. Rawlings Arboretum
Lloyd Rogers Buchanan Cemetery
Mansion House aka Park Headquarters
Reptile House
St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery
Three Sisters Ponds


Ghosts of Druid Hill Park Placemarks at EveryTrail - To use with your iPhone, or download kml gpx click this link

Ghosts of Druid Hill Park Flickr Photowalk images

If you like this site you might also like it's sister site Ghosts of Leakin Park.