Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Beehive and Precipice | Acadia National Park 2017 part II | Maine

Note the iron rungs on the rock behind my head. The trail continues when you climb up them

Here I am with the second installment of my mini-vacation to Acadia National Park back in early October. I can only imagine how the landscape must look in the full blaze of autumn. Can you imagine sitting on this cliff overlooking a flaming red, orange, and yellow pit of foliage below? I tried to imagine that, and I imagine it would feel as if I were escaping from the pits of Hell. But the leaves were just barely beginning to turn when we went, and I can only imagine.


At Acadia, we went on two steep, strenuous hikes. All of us were fairly in shape and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but I would caution against anyone not accustomed to hiking, or hiking with improper footwear. The first of these hikes was the Beehive Loop, which has an elevation gain of 534 ft over about half a mile (the loop is 1.3 miles long, but the descent is much, much milder). Short and very sweet, with gorgeous views of the land and the sea. I deliberately did not include any photos that included the big cruise ship.


It is me

Beehive consists of a steep ascent from the forest floor up the side of a cliff, with narrow, rocky, and steep switchbacks and sections of ladders with little thin iron rungs. In this picture, I am cautiously lowering myself to sit down. It's a straight drop from there.

Don't look down. Or look down and try to spot the cairns

Barely getting started. The trailhead is at the elevation of the road, with a mild ascent to the cairns in the exposed rock at the upper right quadrant.



I read that this trail is reminiscent of ferrata hiking in Europe, which sounds very appealing and exciting.


This was about as summit as it got, and I admit that the views were not as awesome as I would have hoped for. But in this hike, the journey is the fun! We were a large group on this hike, and passed two families. It's a popular, but congested trail and we sped through it to thin out the group. I wish we could have been a smaller group and taken it a bit slower.




Next, we went along the ocean trail to check out the local wonder, the Thunder Hole (kind of cool, and the ocean trail was pretty cool).




As you can see, there were plenty of these jumbles of boulders to climb up and over, which we did with glee.



Climbed up high to get a view of the shore. The rock is an orange-ish color.

Another deceptive photo -- I am about 20 ft above the shore

The Thunder Hole was crowded with people and not worth photographing.

Down to Precipice!!

On the second and last day of the trip, we hiked the Precipice Trail, for which Beehive was the warmup. This was the coolest hike I've done in New England. In a half mile ascent, we went up 1072 ft, double that of Beehive in almost the same distance. Very steep. Very thrilling. I'm getting riled up just thinking about Precipice.


Shortly after we began the hike, we came upon the first challenge: a huge tumble of boulders to scramble up and over. Need I say it again? I love scrambles. This was just a taste of what was to come.


What was great about Precipice was that this trail essentially took us up the side of a cliff, meaning the views were always there, and getting better by the moment.


The first of the ladders. There were more than double the amount of ladders on Precipice than Beehive. After this point, it was steep, steep, steep all the way up. If you get to this point and find yourself exhausted, it is safer to turn back.

Interestingly, Precipice is closed for significant parts of the year for peregrine falcon nesting. We were lucky to come here when we did!

A rare flat stretch...and a precarious drop



Regrettably, I didn't take too many photos of the truly steep portions. The simple truth is that there wasn't really a place where I felt safe to do it. Between this photo and the last were crazy steep and narrow switchbacks, long ladders, and mere inches of rock between us hikers and a deadly fall. Admittedly, we were on a tight schedule and really booked it up the mountain (recommended at least 2 hours for an ascent, but we got up there in 1.5). We were exposed, exhausted, and I don't think my heartrate has ever been higher.

I admit, I had a dangerous light-headed moment when I was clinging for dear life on a ladder on an exposed cliff face, and looked over my shoulder.

But this photo is cool. I scampered up to the next highest boulder to take a picture of my friends seemingly emerging from the depth of the mountain.

The summit!

The views were worth all the effort.




There are a few other trails -- longer, less steep -- that lead up the mountain. But I was very happy we picked this one. How much more thrill could you pack into half a mile?



We took a long descent that still managed to be tough on the ankles and knees, but that's New England hiking for you. Here is a photo of the cliff from the parking lot. How exhilarating it was to climb up that exposed rock. It was the highlight of the trip.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Maritime Maine | Acadia National Park 2017 part I | Maine

Seal Harbor Beach - went to roam around while some more adventurous friends went swimming

It's been quite some time. I had a few adventures and mini-adventures over the summer and autumn that I wanted to blog about, but I think this one beats them all out. After a tough cardiology module, I got out of Boston with some classmates to experience Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor in Maine. We camped two nights in an admittedly very comfortable "campground," saw beautiful Atlantic coast, and nabbed some of the coolest hikes I've ever gone on.
Part I will be the scenic stuff, while part II will be the hike reports. Short, but very sweet.

Kelp
Even more kelp

From Boston to Bar Harbor

Driftwood

Acadia National Park is located on Mt. Desert Island, a large island shaped like the anterior and posterior pituitary glands off the Atlantic coast of Maine. The most notable town on the island is Bar Harbor, which we visited briefly for a pricey dinner on our second night. The road from Boston to Bar Harbor is about 300 miles and 5-6 hours away depending on traffic. On the drive up, we passed through a town founded in 1643 (???) for gas, Portland (location of Maine Medical Center, the only level I trauma center in the state of Maine, compared to the six in Boston), Augusta (the capital), and Bangor (birthplace of Paul Bunyan).


Other remarks about Downeast Maine: (1) they take their outdoors extremely seriously, (2) they take their lobster extremely seriously, and (3) we drove past more antique stores or markets than I have seen in my entire life before this trip.

Really sick piece of driftwood
Our car got to the campground first and we set up as many tents and chopped as much wood as we could. Sun sets fast so far north. However, I say this after having read this blog post about a doctor's road trip through the Maritimes of Canada, which are substantially more northeast than Maine.

Acadia National Park


I've long wanted to visit Maine. Maybe I romanticize it a little bit in that it is perhaps the most wild of the New England states. Maybe it's because its bid for statehood kicked the Civil War into motion (among a great many other things). It has wild mountains and forests and sea coast. It has Katahdin. My boots come from Maine. Many things.


Acadia National Park has been described as the only national park on the East Coast that comes close to the grandeur of those in the American West. I think it's fair that it's the closest to grand that I've seen here, but not quite close enough. And perhaps it's because we visited just too early to see the foliage in its full glory. You'll see hints of red and orange in these photos, but I couldn't begin to imagine how beautiful it would all look later in autumn. Perhaps it's like that right now.

Brackish water

I think for the next post I'll add in what I packed for this trip. Any later in the season and I would have worried about being too cold at night. Anyhow, the text of this post is a bit rambly so I've tried to add comments about the places I took pictures of in the captions themselves.

At the top of Mt. Cadillac, which we drove to and did not hike - really interesting lichens!

That's it for now. Next up will be a post about the hiking we did in Acadia National Park. It's going to get precarious.

The view from Mt. Cadillac - I cropped out the huge cruise ships in the background

Sand Beach - relaxation before our afternoon hike

Sand Beach - full of people

Lots of rocks to climb up and over


This picture is quite deceptive - I'm about 30 ft above the shore

Monday, September 4, 2017

A/W 2017 | Wardrobe Planning

Do people still do these posts? Is the 5 piece French wardrobe format still relevant? (I do) (And it is still a reasonable framework for clothing purchases for me)



  1. Black leather boots - I've wanted a good pair of black leather boots for a very long time now, and I think this may be the season I finally drop the $ on a pair. These will probably serve as my primary autumn/winter professional shoe, especially once clerkships begin next year. As such, they need to be comfortable enough to wear all day in clinic and on the wards, though I probably will also buy something like Danskos for the OR and wherever scrubs are worn. Why boots, though? I thought about another black leather shoe like loafers, but these shoes must be suitable for snow and ice. Not that I'm expecting to trudge through inclement weather in them, but must be able to handle the elements in some capacity. Hustling the mere 50 yards from the medical school to the hospital in my heels during February was...not enjoyable.
  2. Trousers - I have a pair of black trousers, but I expect I'll need more come third year. It may seem odd that I'm planning on buying stuff for clerkships right now, but I figured slowly adding to my professional wardrobe is better than trying to do it all at once. This will probably be bought from Old Navy (the popular Pixie pants...stupid name) or Uniqlo.
  3. Black jeans - I recently cut up my pair of black jeans (more on that later, but it was in the name of a DIY project, and it was looking pretty shabby) so I may need to replace it. I'm not sure if I actually will. I'm curious to see how I fare this autumn and winter with the jeans I already have. Given I wore my selvedge denim jeans every day in January and February, I probably won't buy a new pair.
  4. Shirting - I really want this flannel shirt, the Black Stewart colorway of my known favorite L.L. Bean scotch plaid. I also am thinking of slowly adding to my professional blouse/shirting wardrobe for next year.
  5. Something for hiking - hiking pants? A jacket? In all likelihood, I'll buy more than one pair of trousers and fill up this spot. Not that I really stick strictly to the 5PFW model anyways. Oh yes, and I lost my watch somewhere and will need to replace it. I'm an idiot.
Reflecting back on last year: I am basically all set on winter gear, and would only really consider adding to technical outdoors clothes, and probably not even this year. I actually did buy the little black dress I mentioned last year, which I'll have a post about later.

The two other changes I'm making to my wardrobe are a refurbishing of an old coat (I cut off the sleeves and replaced them with material from my old jeans...it doesn't look as bad as it sounds), and the eventual tailoring of my raws. The waist is ridiculously large and I need to take it in. Since the fabric is so heavy and the jeans are so integral to my cold weather wardrobe, I may need to get this professionally done.

Lastly, I am planning on doing a wardrobe declutter soon. I hate that idea, that even after being choosy about bringing stuff to Boston I have things I don't wear and will get rid of. But that's the truth, and I'm holding myself accountable. I'll follow up at the end of winter with a wardrobe inventory of sorts to continue holding myself accountable. To be honest, the only things that I really "need" to buy are the boots and the trousers.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer clothes in Boston

The psychedelic floral dress returns

This time last year, I made a post of the outfits I wore to Germany. With the exception of two new tank tops -- for school organizations that I belong to -- and two shirts from Uniqlo, I have made no changes to my summer wardrobe.

Which is not to say that I will not buy anything on my return to Boston (currently escaping the humidity by going back to SF). I've evaded much of the heat by staying in the hospital freezing under the AC or burning up under lead in the OR.

linen shirt - Uniqlo | linen shorts - GAP | boat shoes - Sperry | watch - Casio

I finally bought this dark blue linen shirt from Uniqlo. I originally thought I would venture for something light-colored, but I am a creature of habit and hate the way light colors look on me. It's perfectly comfortable on even the most hellishly hot (and humid) days in Boston. The loose fit is very airy and helps the fabric not stick to my skin, and generally makes the thought of summer a bit more bearable. I wear an XS here, and generally use shoulder width to determine XXS, XS, or S in shirts.

Linen dresses in Muji

My hunt for the linen dress continues, though I will probably buy the second one (middle and right images) if it goes on sale. Sometimes I have to go places and do things where short shorts are not appropriate, even on unbearably hot days. Despite all the time I spent looking online for a good linen dress, this Muji one may be the most accessible. Granted, it does look like a dark blue potato sack unless I tie something around my waist (drawstring from my shorts shown above), but I was generally very impressed with it in the fitting room.

Hospital scrubs

A very, very kind chief resident gave me three pairs of scrubs in my size when I told her I had gotten mine from Goodwill. I won't be regularly in the hospital (much less the OR) this semester unless I have specific shadowing arrangements, so these scrubs will just have to wait until M3. But I would be remiss to leave this post without acknowledging that I spent most of my summer thus far wearing these. Not particularly flattering, but very comfortable.

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I completely neglected this blog in the past few weeks. This post was kind of a cop-out because the posts that I had planned involved me going through tons and tons of photos (Germany posts from last summer, more gardens, more hiking). I also recently had an inexplicable hankering to write something more about personal style, wardrobe building, and fashion-related. One factor may be a pretty black dress that I basically impulse-bought off Poshmark. It hasn't arrived yet, but I hope it suits me.

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The other thing that I wanted to examine was this notion of practicing minimalism or living with less or low/zero waste. I don't necessarily categorize myself as a "minimalist," but I have drunk more and more of the Kool-aid, read more and more of the "discourse" around it on Reddit/Instagram/blogs, and feel more equipped to use it as a tool to construct my own ethics about consumption, ownership, and...other stuff. If there's one thing I loathe about minimalism blogs, it's when they get preachy and take the moral super-high ground.

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And my last thought of the night is that I had a conversation with some of my friends about shopping. None of us "go shopping" as a hobby, but we were having some premature worries about having to build up a professional wardrobe in time for clerkships. I'm still sticking to my guns about wardrobe planning and restricting the number of clothes that I'll buy, but I am planning ahead now.

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And that's it. My next post will probably be a photographic summary of one year in Boston. One year already! Time really does fly.