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The Keystone 49: Peakbagging in Pennsylvania (Climbing the Keystone State’s Beautiful Mountains and Vistas)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 3, 2017 by mistransformation

My hometown made this list.

Endless Mountains Experience

17992907190_0475ca8e64_o.jpg Gillespie Point

Many people enjoy climbing mountains, or peaks, whether it be for a specific elevation or the view at the top.  This is common in New York and New England, and to a lesser degree, the southern Appalachians.

Pennsylvania is an odd state for “peakbagging”, because it doesn’t have many peaks.  Most of the terrain in this state is defined by ridges and plateaus with fairly consistent elevations.

Regardless, the views in Pennsylvania are still impressive, and the climbs can be very challenging.

This list is based upon mountains with features at or near the summit, such as a view, firetower, or rock outcroppings.

The focus is not on the high point itself.

There generally must be a vertical climb of at least 500 feet that is feasible for a hiker to do from a lower elevation.

Some climbs are off trail.

All climbs are on public…

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Most Notable from 2016

Posted in Health/Fitness, Workout review with tags , , , , , , , on December 27, 2016 by mistransformation

2016-2017

At the end of previous years I have done a “best of” post.  Since I didn’t do many reviews or blog posts at all this year, I’m just going to tell you the awesome things that I did discover this year.

  1. Grokker – A streaming workout/yoga/lifestyle website (can also find on Roku) that you pay a monthly subscription for.  They do have free workouts but most of them you can already find on Youtube.  A year ago January 2016 was when I first signed up for Grokker. They offered me a New Year trial for around $1.00 and I tried it and loved it.  I maintained my subscription until about July when I noticed I wasn’t utilizing it as much as I had been. That doesn’t mean it got any less great however.  There are a variety of workouts at different levels and as I mentioned before some awesome yoga practices.
  2. Les Mills On Demand – I’ve known about LMOD for sometime now but it wasn’t until about October/November that they offered a free one month trial that I took a bite.  WOW!  I would have to say that this is probably my favorite find of the year.  I love the BodyCombat, BodyPump BodyAttack and CXWORX workouts so far and have gone through just about all of them.  I love how they are set to music tracks and that is what sets it apart from a lot of other workout systems.  The music just gets to you and keeps you going. I also love the trainers.  They also offer GRIT workouts that are intense and utilize HIIT, Sh’bam dance fitness and BodyBalance/BodyFlow (think yoga/pilates).  The only complaint I do have about this is that I don’t feel that they give new workouts often enough and then I’ve done them all and I’m the type of person that wants fresh.  I still have a lot of GRIT workouts to keep me busy well into next year though.
  3. DailyBurn – DailyBurn has changed from my previous reviews on this site.  I am going to guess that they were sold because they are no longer in California and operate in New York City now.  They still have the old programs but they do not put those out that often anymore.  What they do have to offer is DailyBurn 365 and give you a fresh workout everyday, thus DailyBurn 365.  The intensity of those workouts is from beginner to medium so for those wanting a BlackFire degree of intensity, you may be disappointed.  Every day they rotate trainers and I’m finding that I really like each one and also like the host J.D.  One new program they did just release in December is a Spartan training workout.  It looks intense and right up there with BlackFire.  I’m looking forward to digging into that for 2017.  There are also a couple of Men’s Health and Women’s Health workout systems that were added between the time I let my subscription lapse and when I picked it back up again at the end of this year when they offered me a month to go back for seventy-five cents.
  4. BeachBody On Demand – and then there is BOD.  I still maintain my subscription to BOD but with all of the other workouts above, I have been using it less. They continue to offer new workouts and workout systems and have released to On Demand favorites like 21 Day Fix Extreme and Insanity Max 30 along with Focus T25 and The Master’s Hammer and Chisel.  They also give sneak peaks to new systems like Core de Force and Country Heat.  Considering they are constantly updating, I’m going to maintain my subscription for now.

There you go for 2016. If you have any questions about the above streaming workout brands, let me know.  If you haven’t already discovered any of these, I hope I gave you some new options for 2017.

I know I’ve been neglectful

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2016 by mistransformation

I know I’ve neglected my blog for months.  I just haven’t been able to sit down and put time into writing reviews they way they should be done. I don’t like to just slop a review out to get a post.  I like to do the workout and write it out in longhand first and then create a post on my blog.

That being said, I do have plans to do a best of the year that will include a few things I have been doing but haven’t had the time to post about on here.  By viewing my blog stats, I see that I do still get a lot of visitors to my post.

I hope you are all doing well and I will be back before the end of the year to let you know about some great offerings.

I’m not giving up; just been busy

Posted in Kayaking, Uncategorized on August 29, 2016 by mistransformation

No, I haven’t given up on my blog.  I actually had an epic vacation a few weeks ago and I want to blog about that and a few other things.  I can’t wait to tell you about it.

I’ve just been really busy and taking advantage of the long summer days that are now getting shorter and shorter every day.

Here’s a teaser:

Hobiekayak
I will be back….promise.

Injured but making the most of it

Posted in hiking, Kayaking with tags , , , , on July 12, 2016 by mistransformation

I have been suffering with my latest bout of Plantar Fasciitis since before I visited Kripalu Yoga and Health Center back in April. As you know from my previous post, I did two moderate hikes during my stay at that facility.  I continued to do some pretty major  hikes after that and didn’t listen to my foot when it was telling me it had had enough.  I maintained pretty much the same activity that I always had and in fact I was doing a lot more all while my foot was screaming at me in agony.  Over the Fourth of July holiday, it finally said it had enough and I could barely walk at all without my foot feeling like it was ripping apart.  It was probably one of the most miserable 4ths that I’ve ever had (except that I visited my family).

I’ve been suffering to some degree of PF since I was a teenager so I’ve been treating it on my own and even though in the past it always went away with minimal attention, this time I have done just about everything under the sun for it.  I have to say that the night boot, icing, alternate temperature footbaths and taping have been my saving grace.

As of today, I am ambulatory but still unable to go for even a minor hike (I know, I tried a baby path last weekend to no avail).  I feel like I’m missing out on the best weeks of hiking so  I did a couple of kayak trips instead. It keeps me off of my feet, but still lets me enjoy the outdoors.  I have to say that I have really enjoyed kayaking.

Here are a few pictures of hikes I have done and also from the kayak trips. If you click on them, it gives a title of where the picture was taken.  One of the most interesting is from Hawk Rock, Cove Mountain, Duncannon, PA because it is on the Appalachian Trail and any East Coast hiker would be intrigued to follow in the footsteps of the thru-hikers of the AT.

Body Beast-Beast Up: Legs w/ Sagi Kalev Workout Review

Posted in Health/Fitness, Review with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2016 by mistransformation

Beastup

If you are a member of Beachbody OnDemand you probably know by now that Sagi Kalev released two new workouts from the Body Beast program. They are exclusive to Beachbody OnDemand.  If you have done them already, you know they are killer and if you haven’t done them already, you are in for a treat.

For this workout you are going to need a large variety of dumbbells and if you have one an EZ curl bar.  If you don’t have an EZ curl bar you can always modify and this workout does have a modifier.  You will also need a bench and if you don’t have one, I’m sure you can figure out how to improvise.

The workout is 45 minutes long.

Beast Up: Legs starts out with a thorough warm up.  This is something I felt was lacking in the Hammer workouts but this has a five minute warm up.

Parallel Squats: Rep Counts:  12 – 10 – 8 – 6 -6 – 8  –  You want to start off with a lighter weight then move to medium and on to heavy.  For the 6 rep count you use a super heavy weight for both 6 counts and then go back down to heavy.

Split Squat w/ EZ Curl Bar: (Left then Right) – 7 reps for 7 sets with a 10 count hold at the bottom between sets.  The hold is your rest.  Complete all on left first and then move to the right.  You may keep the same weight throughout.  Make sure it isn’t that heavy.  This one sneaks up on you.

Superset:   You do both moves before decreasing in the rep count.

Partial Sumo:  Rep Counts:  12 – 10 – 8   (Partial because you do not come up all the way)

Bulgarian Split Squat:  Rep Counts:  12 – 10 – 8

You want to start with lighter weight for the 12 reps – medium for the 10 and heavy for the 8 reps.

(end of superset)

Single Leg Deadlift: (Left then Right) – 7 reps for 7 sets with a 10 second hold at the top between sets.   Complete all on left first and then move to the right. You may keep the same weight for all 7 sets.  Oh yeah, this one is a motherchucker!

Glute Bridge with Calf Raise: 60 secs –  45 Secs – 30 Secs  – Starting with lighter weight for the 60 seconds, medium for 45 seconds and heavy for 30 seconds.  Sagi calls this a superset but the move is really one continuous move in my opinion.  You just fluidly do a calf raise after each bridge.

There is a nice stretch at the end to get the nooks and crannies you just worked.

As you can see there aren’t a lot of moves.  You get a lot of rest periods not only between movements but also between sets – especially when moving up to the super heavy weight.  I think the rest periods help the workout go by fast.

I give this workout 5 out of 5 stars because it really gets the job done.

 

Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health Part Deux

Posted in hiking, Kripalu, Motivation/Inspiration, Yoga with tags , , on May 1, 2016 by mistransformation

Ever since my visit in August 2015 I could not wait for a second trip back to Kripalu. After I read the book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope, a Kripalu instructor that’s history with the facility goes back to the days when Kripalu was still an ashram and during the dramatic years when Amrit Desai led the ashram. Stephen really went into detail about how that “went down” and you’ll have to read the book yourself or google it to find out about it.

Anyway in his book Stephen mentioned different places he and his friend would visit on hikes, etc.  He also mentioned the old mansion that used to sit on the lands that had some interesting history such as Andrew Carnegie finished out his last days there and the Jesuit Monk facility had actually started out in that mansion but burned down one day in March in the 1950s.  Some of the monks died in the fire. Some of the ruins are still on the property.  After discovering that I had missed a lot of the facility during my first visit, I wanted to go back and experience it again.

Yogaandthequest

Monk’s Pond was a place that Stephen had mentioned in his book.  I had seen pictures on the internet and wanted to visit it myself during my stay.  You have to hike away from the facility to get to it and since I’m not from that area I wanted to make sure I knew how to get to it.  I googled Monks Pond and came across a blog of a visitor to Kripalu just a few months before my visit.  The blogger talked about her personal struggles in life and after reading her blog post I knew that I definitely wanted to visit it during my stay.

You can read the blog post here:  The Hike

It was a long 6 hour drive from North Central Pennsylvania (with stops along the way) to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  The first day Josie and I did a nice Intermediate level yoga class, ate dinner and then I went on my own way and explored the grounds.   It was raining when we first arrived so later that day when I took pictures, there is a lot of mist in the photos.

I explored the grounds and came up the ruins of the old Shadowbrook mansion.  The remains of some of the foundation are truly impressive and show the the massive size that the mansion was before the fire.  The history of the mansion is truly interesting and if you would like to read about it and also view pictures of how it once was, please see this link. Shadowbrook Fire  — I should note, the picture of the tree above is the famous camperdown elm that sits to the front of the old mansion ruins. The other picture of the rock formation and the view from above when I was sitting on the rock ledge. All of this is in the area of the ruins.

After exploring the grounds, I did a yoga nidra class, went to the sunroom to read for the night and then went to bed.  I had my silent alarm set to 5 am to wake up and get a shower and did the 6:30 am gentle yoga class led by Sherri Howard, Kripalu yoga teacher.  The class was amazing.  It was a great class for waking up and during savasana Sherri began to sing and she had this beautiful voice which I overheard another class attendee describe as magical.

After eating silent breakfast, I attended a lecture by the famous Kripalu instructor Coby Kozlowski.  It was an amazing lecture where Coby talked about modern day yoga as compared to the ancient practice and how we can tie it into our lives today.  It was very uplifting and inspirational.

After the lecture I got ready for my hike to Monks Pond.  The path starts on the Kripalu facility and you hike up the side of the mountain to the main road, cross to where there is a gate and then follow Old Baldhead Road to the pond.  Once at the pond I decided I wasn’t finished hiking and I crossed to where there is a crossroad path and you can choose right or left.  I chose to go right, hiked for about 30 minutes more through the beautiful Berkshires and then hiked back to the facility.  Here are some pictures to get an idea.

After Monks Pond I made my way back to the facility, ate lunch and then went out to explore the grounds again.  I made my way to Swami Kripalu’s Meditation Garden and a few other gems located along the way including a maple syrup harvesting operation (pic of the trees w/ blue tubing).

I also visited the beautiful lake and labyrinth as I did during my last trip.

After a long day of exploring I felt that my body needed the late afternoon gentle yoga class.  That was led by another popular teacher at Kripalu, Michelle Dalbec.  It was a nice way to stretch my legs out and relax after all the walking I did that day. My fitbit was busy and I think I registered about 22,000 steps that day.

After the class, I ate dinner and then somewhere along the way Josie and I met up to go to the Saturday night show that Kripalu offers.  Tonight’s show was by amazing artist, Morley.  Since Prince had just passed away days before, she started the show with a great cover of an almost unknown Prince tune, Free.  She performed acoustically, accompanied by a percussionist/bassist.  Morley talked between songs and wow she has done some amazing and impressive things worldwide in connection with human rights. I could probably write a post on her alone. (Can’t take pictures for that folks, sorry – electronic use is limited inside of Kripalu.)

After the show, I went to the sunroom again to read and then called it a night as I was very tired from hiking all day.

The next day, I slept through my 5 am silent alarm but some noise woke me up at 5:30 so I showered and got ready for the 6:30 am gentle yoga class.  This was the same teacher I had last visit and also on a Sunday.  After class I ate a good breakfast and then headed out for the day.  Once again I decided it was another hiking day.  I did not plan to go all the way to Olivia’s Overlook (which I visited by car last visit) but at the last minute I wondered if I had enough time to try it so I walked along with cup of coffee in my hand.  When I made it to a crossroad in the path you could choose left or right.  I chose left and ran into some women along the trail. I asked them how much further to the overlook and they told me it would have been shorter if I had chosen going to the right direction.  I wasn’t that far up the path so I turned around and took that way instead.  Boy was I happy.  It was a lot of uphill hiking from that point on but it wasn’t that much further and I made it to Olivia’s Overlook.

After hiking it was time to pack up my things and get ready to leave later that day.  I relaxed on the property until I met up with Josie for lunch.  One of the last things I viewed before going in for lunch was a mantra rock left behind by a previous visitor.  It read, “Every Day Should Feel This Good.”  That pretty much summed up my trip to Kripalu.  I wish every day could feel this good.

After lunch Josie and I went to the mansion ruins so she could view them and then we started on our way home.  It was a short stay but a memorable one for sure.  I have a funny story to tell.  After my gentle yoga class on Saturday I went to the cafe for coffee, I saw a man coming out of the corner of my eye and I was fearful he was going to try to jump ahead of me.  Then as I was getting my coffee I felt as though he was rushing me.  I didn’t say anything but went to pay for my coffee and then I heard the man talking to one of the workers at the cafe.  I looked over and it was none other than Bryan Kest.  THE Bryan Kest.  He had been standing behind me in line at the cafe.  Josie was taking his program.  Anybody into yoga knows that Bryan Kest is a yoga rock star and if I had known it was him in line behind me, I would have let him get his coffee first for sure.

Anyway, that was my second visit to Kripalu and another fantastic time for sure.