This year has been flying by and it’s hard to believe we’re sitting just about 2 months away from Christmas and the beginning of a new year! Brady and I have been trying to soak in all the great weather and fall colors while it lasts. A month ago we hiked the Billy Goat Trail, we were at the beach in Delaware a few weekends ago, then we went backpacking, then hiking with my family, and this past weekend we went out to Western Maryland to ride the rail trail and enjoy some fall colors!
The specific trail we rode on has 2 parts: the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) that runs from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD and then it continues on to Washington D.C. via the C&O Towpath for a total of 335 miles. We started at the Eastern Continental Divide and rode the last 25 miles of the GAP trail down into Cumberland on Saturday afternoon. The best thing about this section of the trail is that it’s all downhill (1800 ft elevation drop <- I wouldn’t want to be going the other way!) So it’s not like you can just sit there and coast but even with breaks and minimal effort, you can make the trip in 3-4 hours. The only thing that’ll be sore after this trip is your tailbone if you don’t ride often.
It was a 2 hour drive to get out to Western Maryland and the weather Saturday morning was abysmal. Dreary, misty, foggy, damp and overcast yucky weather. As soon as we started driving up the mountain to our start point, we left the clouds hanging on the mountains behind us and we were in instant sunshine! By the time we rode our bikes into Cumberland a few hours later, it was if it had never been overcast at all. The weather for our ride couldn’t have been more perfect. It was 70 degrees with just enough cool in the breeze to keep you from overheating while riding in the sun.
Hello there and happy Thursday to all you lovelies! I’ve had a bunch of random thoughts lately that aren’t worth turning into a blog post each so here are some of my Thursday Thoughts <– linking up with Running with Spoons.
- In my quest to be an overall healthier individual, I’ve been getting quite a few groceries from Whole Foods recently. The last few times I’ve been, they’ve had an enormous jackfruit for sale at $1.99/lb which means those things cost at least $20-30. I know that jackfruit turned into fake meat is a big trend in the plant based world at the moment but it doesn’t look that appealing to me. I haven’t tried it yet and I don’t think I have the desire to either. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had pork (or any meat) so I don’t feel the need to replace it with anything.
- Where are you, autumn? This weather is crazy. I live in Maryland and it’s been too hot to even consider running outside this week. 85 degrees outside and 92-100% humidity. Not cool Maryland, not cool. I may be writing this while sipping on a cup of hot cinnamon apple tea but that’s just because it’s supposed to be fall and I’m ready for it. This was fall a year ago…
Last weekend Brady and I did our 4th and probably final backpacking trip of the year. We hadn’t gone backpacking since July so it was about time to plan another trip. The weather was looking like it was going to be the perfect hiking weather – topping out at 69 degrees both days – so we decided to section hike another portion of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. We’ve previously done a couple overnight hikes going north of AT-40 parking lot which goes by Annapolis Rock and Black Rock as well as the southern 17.5 miles of Maryland to Harpers Ferry.
For this trip, we did an out-and-back from the AT-40 parking lot down to the Rocky Run shelter – overlapping a previous backpacking trip by about 1 mile.
Our hike started by crossing over I-70 and passing between a couple of private properties before heading into the woods. About 3 miles in, there’s a short spur trail to the Washington Monument which is the only real vista view for this section of the trail. The monument is a small stone structure built in 1827 by the people in Boonsboro, MD and it’s the first dedicated monument to George Washington.
About a month ago, I had my first surgical procedure and while there’s nothing I could have done to avoid that outcome, it’s still made me seriously consider how I need to improve my health. Improving my overall health has been a goal for a long time, but the last three months have given me extra motivation. This summer took a huge toll on my emotional and physical health so I’ve been brainstorming ideas to rebuild my overall health and I’ve created my own 4 steps to a healthier life.
When you’re trying to overhaul how you live your life, everything can feel overwhelming. To make everything more manageable without losing motivation, I’ve condensed my goals into 4 areas I would like to improve on for overall health.
My 4 Steps to a Healthier Life
- Minimize harmful chemicals in personal care and home cleaning.
- Eat Healthy Portions of Wholesome Home Cooked Food.
- Improve Physical Fitness.
- Declutter and Organize.
Minimize harmful chemicals in personal care and home cleaning.
Reducing harmful chemicals in my home has been on my mind for a long time and I have already begun making adjustments. I’m very concerned with the amount of chemicals I’m putting on my body and using to clean my home with on a daily basis. The problem is that even “natural products” are full of unhealthy chemicals so it won’t be a quick transition and I know that it will probably take more time to accomplish than anything else on this list.
Happy First Day of Fall! I thought fall had started a few weeks ago because the temperatures had dropped into the 60s. I was just about to pull out my fall sweaters and all of a sudden it was warm again. Some of the trees have started changing color but it’s still overwhelmingly green and pretty hot around here. Either way, to commemorate the start of a new season, I’ve got one of my favorite recipes – Cornbread Muffins! – to share with you as well as a few Friday Favorites!
Cornbread Muffins Recipe
My mom was an amazing cook and even more amazing because the majority of what I ate growing up was vegan AND sugar free because of my dad’s dietary restrictions. One of my favorite meals and often requested for birthday dinners, was my mom’s homemade chili and cornbread muffins.
Most cornbread recipes out there call for way too much sugar and the muffins basically end up being a dessert with the amount of sugar in them. These have a minimal amount of sugar but it doesn’t take away from the fullness of flavor or fluffiness in the muffins. This recipe is especially healthier if you plan on adding something sweet on top.
As with any baked goods, cornbread muffins are best when taken straight out of the oven, split open and buttered right away to let the butter melt in. These are perfect with some jam or honey on top or you could do as my husband does and just break a few up and let them soak into a warm bowl full of chili. If you happen to have leftovers the next day, pop ’em in the toaster oven for a minute and they’ll be just as good as straight out of the oven.
If you’re vegan and don’t eat honey, just switch it out for cane sugar, rice syrup, or a natural sweetener of your choosing.
However you decided to eat them, these cornbread muffins are definitely a treat you’ll enjoy!
We were going to do this hike last weekend but laziness won and we slept in. So this weekend we got up bright and early on Saturday morning to go hike the Billy Goat Trail down at Great Falls. We last did this hike almost exactly one year ago just before Brady started at his new job and we decided it was about time we go do this again.
The Billy Goat Trail A is an extremely popular trail in the region and can be very crowded on the weekends. The plan was to get there around 8 and park in the Anglers parking lot which would have been free but we didn’t get there til after 8:30 and it was full. It was $10 to park up at the main entrance but the parking lot was still relatively empty and we hopped straight onto the towpath to get down to the trailhead. Even though it was first thing in the morning, the trail was already more crowded than last time. Since you’re scrambling on rocks for the whole trail, it’s definitely much easier to maneuver with less people, so on the weekend, the earlier, the better.
It’s somewhat hard to see the rock climbers on the other side of the river (see if you can find them!) and there’s also a kayaker in the river.