Monday, December 27, 2010

Kris Kringle 5 Miler

Yesterday I ran the Kris Kringle 5 miler, the first 5 mile race I ever ran. The weather was cold and blustery, but the course was labeled as flat with "a small hill at the finish." A warm-up run with my buddy Chop L. disabused me of my ideas of a small hill.

We arrived at the race site about an hour early and had plenty of time to check in. Afterwards, we went for a warm-up run to survey the course. I'm glad we did, because the small hill, as daunting as it was knowing it was coming, would have been more daunting had I remained ignorant.

Gun went off at 11:00, and I went out at around 5K pace. Having never run a 5 miler before, and bouyed by my Harrisburg Marathon run, I thought this was a good idea. I figured I would run the first mile fast, settle in for three, and then have a little left for the last mile.

My strategy seemed to be working but the wind and cold took their toll and when I hit the 3 mile mark, I couldn't help but think that if this was a 5k, I would be done in 176 yards with no "small hill" to contend with. I fell apart mentally in mile 4, and even though I was able to maintain my position, mile 5 was excrutiating, especially having to climb the "small hill."

I was somewhat dissapointed with my performance, but then I realized I was 27th out of 575 runners; I was first in my age group, 45-49; and I would have been 1st even if the age group was 40-49. Also, the times were down from last year; everybody must have been feeling the affects of the weather.

Looking back, the only change I would have made was going out just a little slower, but this race has given me confidence for upcoming 5Ks.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lancaster Jingle Bell Run, 2010

Kyler and I ran the Lancaster Jingle Bell Run yesterday. We have been running this race together for three years. It is a fairly fast course, and a good one to shoot for a PR, which is what we had in mind.

Kyler was a little bit upset that he was unable to go under 26:00 at the Iron Bridge Run, so he was determined to crack that barrier at the Jingle Bell. Part of the problem at Iron bridge was that it was a XC course, and he developed a side stitch almost immediately that he couldn't shake.

We wanted to avoid the side stitch again, so we spent a good 15 minutes warming up including form drills and dynamic stretches. We took to the starting line about 10 minutes before the gun, and got a good position just off the front and on the right, so that we wouldn't be boxed in, or have to negotiate a wide turn at the first right.

At the gun, we went out a fast clip, and Kyler was going strong, but once again, he developed a side stitch, however, this time he was able to work through it, and we hit the first mile in 7:55, a full :26 seconds below what we needed to break 26:00. I was thinking that since we had money in the bank, we could hold off a little, but Kyler was going strong, and we held the pace. As we ran, I told him that we were looking at going under 25:00. This encouraged him, he picked up the pace slightly. Around the last half mile, I looked at my watch, and realized we had a good chance of breaking 24:00. At this point, I relayed the information to Kyler, and turned the race over to him meaning I fell in behind, and told him that it was his race. He put on a strong kick over the last 200 yards, and even managed to overtake a few adults. He crossed the line in 23:54.

I was quite impressed with his guts and drive, and he was elated that he shattered his PR by over two minutes. His effort earned him 6/39 in his age group; he was only beaten by kids older than him, and half of them were teenagers.

Great Job, Kyler!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lancaster County XC 5K Race Report

After the Iron Bridge Run with Kyler, I decided to run another XC race, and push it, so I registered for the Lancaster County XC 5K, which is held on Manheim Township's XC course. I heard this was a tough course, but still set a goal to go under 20 minutes. I have a streak going right now, and I was sure that I could keep it going.

My buddy Chop L. and I arrived at the race about an hour early, and decided to go run part of the course for a warm-up and to reconnoiter the route. After the warm-up run, I quickyl ammended my expectation of running under 20:00.

The gun went off at 10:00, and I went out at a quick pace, maybe a bit too quick, but I felt good and ran the first mile @ 5:51 - my last good mile. The rest of the course consisted of steep hills, poor footing and strong head winds. It was by far the toughest 5K I ever ran. I managed to hang on the last two miles, and crossed the line in 20:44. This was good enough for 13th place, and a 2nd place medal in my age group (40-49).

Iron Bridge 5K Race Report

Kyler and I ran the Iron Bridge Run on November 20th. Kyler recently set a grade level record for the most laps in the Kraybill Race for Education, so we were pretty confident that we were going to get a PR. His goal was to get under 26:00.

Before the race, we had the opportunity to meet Billy Mills, the 1964 Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000m. He was really nice and let Kyler wear his Hall of Fame ring. After the race, we heard him speak.

The Iron Bridge run is an XC course and we started out at a good pace, but on the first hill Kyler developed a side stitch, which he had to fight through the entire race. The hills were pretty tough, and this exacerbated the problem.

In the home stretch, Kyler was able to muster up a kick, and he set a new PR of 26:17. It wasn't under 26:00, but given the course, and the side stitch, he did a great job. Congratulations, Kyler!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harrisburg Marathon/RFE

It was a good week of running, racing and recognition for the Enck family. I ran the Harrisburg Marathon as part of a mixed-master's relay, and Kyler was recognized for his achievements in the Kraybill Campus, Race for Education.


Back in the fall, my summer running partner broached the idea of putting together a team for the Harrisburg marathon. I was on board, and we recruited two other masters for our team: my current running partner and and a women who goes to church with my Summer running partner (my running partners are based on how early I have to get up in the morning).

We trained hard all fall, and felt we really had a shot at winning (last year's winners came in at 3:11:00). I was running with Paul B. who is a very good masters runner, and the one workout that did more for me than any other was our long tempo runs on Thursdays. Tempo runs were the one workout that I tended to slack off on. Paul, pushed me hard through September and October, and it paid off.

We were hoping to go 3:05:00, and after Jeanette A. handed off the Paul B., we were right on pace. Chop L. hit the Wildwood Hills hard and handed me the baton, and down the river I went. My leg was 4.6 miles, and I was planning on running around a 6:30 pace. I decided against wearing the GPS, and took off fast. I knew I was running well, but had no idea how well, until I began seeing the mile markers and checking my watch. Wow! I was on pace to go under 30 minutes for a 5-miler. I reigned in two relay teams, and when I saw the bridge to the finish, still had plenty in the tank for a good kick. I crossed the line in 3:00:17. We won our division, and beat all master's teams. My split was 27:15, which was a 5:55 pace. My best race to date, even better than the splits from 5Ks.


As good as our race was, my oldest son bested my accomplishments. He was third in the school, K-8, as a fourth grader in the Race for Education: 29 laps, 7.25 miles in 1 hour. Furthermore, he was first in the fourth grade, and set a new school record for fourth grade runners. His record would have been good enough to stand up in 5th grade as well. Way to go Kyler!!

Tomorrow, Kyler and I are running the Iron Bridge 5K. The honorary starter is Billy Mills. We are then going to go hear him speak. looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's Been Awhile

I'm not sure anyone is following this anymore; I'm not really sure anyone ever was, at least not on a regular basis. I'm still alive and well, and very busy. And, Facebook has been sucking up my time. It just seems much easier to make quick updates and to share pictures.

Picking up where my last post left off, the boys and I had a great time camping at various state parks in the month of August. We spent 4 days in Ohiopyle at the beginning of the month. This is a great place. We swam in the river, hiked and biked and had our camp pilfered by a raccoon and a bear. Before we left, we visited Falling Water. I can't recommend this enough to anyone visiting Western PA. We also had our annual trip to Pinchot State Park. At the end of the month, we had a free weekend before soccer began, so we met Kyle and Jackson F. at Locust Lake State Park. This was new park for the boys and they loved it.

Tina and I celebrated our 12th anniversary in August, and thanks to my parents who were able to watch the the boys, we spent an afternoon/evening in Selinsgrove, PA, and then stayed at the Selinsgrove Inn. We were able to get to Selinsgrove Brewing and then on Sunday, we visited Spy Glass Ridge Winery and Old Forge Brewing in Danville.

School began for everyone at the end of the month: for me it meant back to teaching; for the boys it meant 4th and 1st grade. Soccer also began, and we have been quite busy with practices and games. Both boys are having great seasons, and I'm learning more about the game by coaching at the U8 level.

Things are going well as far as training is concerned. I ran the Lancaster YMCA triathlon back in September and was pleased with my finish. I moved up a few place both overall and in my age group. I also participated in my 3rd straight Livestrong Philly Challenge Ride. Up next is the Harrisburg Marathon Relay in November. I am part of a mixed masters group, and we should do well.

And that's about it. I may take this blog in a different direction, so if you are following, stay tuned, but don't hold your breath.

p.s. I failed to mention that watching the Phillies was a family activity that we enjoyed, however, that ended last evening with a whimper.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Vacation, So Far

I can't believe how fast this summer is going by. I'll be back in school before I know it, and, as usual, before I'm ready.

After the backpacking trip, the boys and I had a week together without camps, or other obligations. At the end of the week, we departed for our family vacation at Rehoboth Beach, DE. We left on Friday, and again, stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Dover. To the boys, this is one of the highlights. They love the novelty of staying in hotels, and the indoor pool.

We departed for Rehoboth around noon, and conveniently arrived at DFH Brewing by 1:30 for lunch. After lunch, we were able to check in.

We had a great week. I was able to race two 5Ks (results at the end), and ride and run during the week. The boys enjoyed the boardwalk, Funland and the Midway Water Park, and Tina enjoyed relaxing and reading. We all enjoyed the beach, Grottos Pizza, Dos Locos and watching the Spain v. Germany match at the Rehoboth Ale House. We extended vacation slightly by going to the Phillies game on Sunday, 7/11, where we witnessed the final game in a four game sweep of the Reds. On the way home, we stopped at Victory to celebrate the victory. On another note, I completed a brew pub hat trick in two weeks: Selinsgrove Brewing, DFH and Victory, three of my favorites, within two weeks.

Upon returning, Tina prepared for and departed on a trip to CA. The boys and I held down the fort and decided to go on a camping trip with my buddy Kyle F. and his son Jackson. We selected Twin Grove Park in Pine Grove, PA as our destination. Twin Grove is located in the Appalachian Mtns. and affords both modern amenities with close proximity to a state park and game lands. We took advantage of both by fossil hunting and hiking on Saturday morning in the parks/gamelands and swimming in the pool as well as playing at the arcade and hitting the links, okay mini links, in the afternoon. I always enjoy camping, as do the boys, and we are looking to our next outing in two weeks.

Other than hanging out at the pool, another soccer camp for Kyler, and riding/running/swimming, that's the summer so far. Soccer season is just around the corner, the Livestrong Ride is fast approaching, and the Speedwell Triathlon looms in two months.

Race Results
I successfully defended my 2nd place AG finish in the Jimmy's Grill 5K, and my 1st place AG finish in the Seashore Striders 5K. Both races set attendance records: Jimmy's was the largest 5K at the beach, and the Seashore Striders race was the largest it has been.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Allegheny Front Trail, June, 2010

From June 24th to the 27th my hiking partner Andy B. and I tackled the Allegheny Front Trail located in Centre Co., PA, Northwest of State College. Our goal was to hike the whole trail, but also take advantage of the trout streams along the way. To that end, we decided to start on Rt. 504 east of Black Moshannon State Park and hike counter clockwise. We would do 8 miles the first day, 9 the second, 17 the third and 6th the fourth. The third day had to be long to maximize the fishing on Thursday and Friday. This would prove to be quite demanding. If you look at the map, you will notice that Rt. 504 provides a good point of reference as it bisects the the area we hiked in. The first two days we would be in the northern part of the loop, and the last two days in the southern part of the loop.

Day 1

We hoped to get on the trail by noon, but had to wait out a passing Thunderstorm, so we didn't get on the trail until 1:00. Our goal was to camp on Benner Run. The trail was well marked and the going was easy, however, we had to hike through alternating patches of ferns and blueberries which, despite wearing gaiters, left our boots soaking wet from the passing thunderstorm. Fortunately, the blueberries were ripe in this area, and that made up for the wet boots. The sun was coming out and there was a breeze, which also made for nice hiking conditions. We made great time on this section of trail, and arrived into Benner Run by 17:00. We set up camp, then went fishing which proved to be quite tough because of being in a Rhododendron Tunnel. After fishing, we had supper and sat around a small fire for about an hour before retiring for the evening.

Day 2

Slept in, then took our time eating breakfast, drinking coffee (backpacking tip: Starbuck's instant coffee is like drinking fresh brewed coffee; no need for filters) and packing up. Got on the trail around 10:00 and hiked down Benner Run. This was one of my favorite parts of the trail. Benner Run is scenic. Arrived at the Black Moshannon Creek around 11:00 and decided to fish for awhile and have lunch. The fishing was great. There were numerous holdover trout and the browns didn't hesitate to take my beetle pattern, or Andy's Stimulator/Green Weenie tandem. After lunch, we were on the trail by 13:00, and hiked along Black Moshannon for about a mile, before hitting our first real climb out of the valley. According to the map, we were to come to a scenic overlook, but after easy hiking on a fire road, we came to a clearing, but not much of an overlook. As we started down into the Red Moshannon, we were afforded a view of the Rt. 80 Bridge, not all that scenic. Shortly afterward, we encountered our first rattler, who coiled up on the trail and forced us off. This was the biggest one at about five feet. Later we would encounter another one in the Red Moshannon Valley.

Upon reaching the Red Moshannon, we were disappointed. Turned out that the red Moshannon was as a dead as a door nail, because of acid mine damage, which was evident by the "yellow boy" on all the rocks, and the orange tinge of the water. The trail in this section was gently rolling, and fairly easy except for the climb out of Sawdust Hollow and Panther Hollow. We arrived into Six-mile Run around 18:30. We made camp, then went fishing. I was pleasantly surprised to catch both wild brown and brook trout. I didn't catch any stocked fish here.

Day 3

This was to be our long day, and it started out well, but ended badly. The Hike out of Six-mile run was pleasant, scenic and easy. We reached Rt. 504 quickly and pushed on through another easy section of trail through a mixed pine forest. We took a break for lunch after descending back into Six-mile Run. From this point on, the hike was not enjoyable. After climbing out of Six-mile Run, we entered into a section of the forest that was devastated both by gypsy moths, and also clear-cuttings. This opening of the forest canopy allowed brush to grow up, and combined with little to no trail maintenance, made for hours of "bushwhacking." We made it to the State Park boundary around 18:00, but because we couldn't camp in the park, we had to push on 4 more miles racing the setting sun. Another challenge in this section was the insects. We had no problem with bugs on the north section, but every biting/annoying fly - deer flies, horse flies, mosquitoes and gnats - took up residence near the lake at Black Moshannon. We finally got to the east side of the park around 20:30, and found a decent camp just on the other side of the Julian Pike. Our feet were sore and we were tired, so we crashed early. During the night we were hit with a brief thunderstorm.

Day 4

We wanted to be out early, so we got on the trail by 8:00. The passing storm had everything wet, but the trail was easy going in the beginning until we got to the vista section. Again, the gypsy moths devastated this area, and the brush, which was also dripping with water, was almost impenetrable, especially where the raspberries took hold. Combined with the thick vegetation was the rockiness of the trail, and the trail designers penchant for gaining elevation only to immediately drop back down. When we came out to Rt. 504, we were quite happy to be done with the AFT. Oh, this was the vista section of the trail, and despite all the work, we were not rewarded with many stunning views, because of the haze that hadn't burned off from the storm.

Final Comments

1. We did the trail counterclockwise, and the northern part was the nicest. If we would have started on the southern part, I think we might have bailed. I won't do this trail again in its entirety, but I would do the northern half for the fishing.
2. Bring gaiters!!!!
3. Bugs were bad in the southwestern and southern part of the trail. Andy had a head net, and I wish I would have had one. The gnats, although they didn't bite, were constantly in our eyes.
4. Trail maintenance was poor in the areas devastated by gypsy moths. This would probably not be noticeable in late fall, or winter, but in summer, with all the growth, it was hard going through the brush. Also, there were three different colored markers: Orange (mostly), yellow and red. There was a very confusing section near Smays Run, because a snowmobile trail and the AFT used the same color markers.
5. The clear cuttings that the trail went through were unsightly. Markings on the trees in the southeast indicate more clear cuttings are on the way.
6. This could be an interpretive hike for environmental degradation: acid mine damage (Red Moshannon); clear-cutting; invasive species and I'm sure it won't be long until gas wells start springing up
7. Selinsgrove Brewing made everything better. We were ready to hike the AT afterwards.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pichot Triathlon, June 2010

I wasn't planning on signing up for more than one spring triathlon, but after Gretna I wasn't happy with my performance. It wasn't bad given I had a knee injury which hampered my training, but it was not the performance I wanted to end with, so I signed up for Pinchot again. And, Pinchot has always been "beddy, beddy good to me."


Nothing out of the ordinary. Up at 4:30, bowl of cereal, cup of coffee, and a bathroom break, then I was out the door, and off to Pinchot. I arrived around 6:00 a.m., which gave me plenty of time for packet pick-up, set-up and a warm-up, both on the bike and running. I also had time to talk to, and to help, my buddy Dave L. who was competing in his first tri (He finished well despite cramps, way to go Dave, congrats!)


For a sprint, Pinchot's swim is long, a half mile. Also, it varies depending on who set's up the course. Last year I swam the course in under 15 minutes, so I think it was a little short. This year seemed more like a true half mile. I was relaxed in the water, and stayed with the pack for the most part, and hit T1 at 16:36, which is around 1:53 per 100 yards. I am now consistently swimming under 2:00 per 100 yards, which I'm happy about.


I'm still a little slow on the bike, but I did manage to come in under an hour for 18 miles. I held my own, but was passed by two people in my age group. One, I couldn't close the gap, the other, I maintained contact with. Time: 58:33


The effort I expended to achieve a sub-1 hour bike was felt on the run. This has been my biggest problem with the lack of bike training time. I can push on the bike, but I have been having problems transitioning to the run. It takes me longer to get my legs back under me. Nonetheless, I was able to quickly catch and pass the two riders who passed me on the bike. I then opened up a gap, and was able to cruise to the finish. Time: 22:03


Good here: 1:21/:53

Results and Final Comments

Time: 1:39:26; 18th overall; 2nd in AG. Hardware, Woohoo!!!!!
Another great Pinchot race, thanks CF Foundation and volunteers.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blue Monkey Soujourn, 2010

Five years ago, Brian B., Kyler and I took an overnight float down the Schuylkill River. We are now up to a record 15 sojourners this year.

We met at Port Clinton at 1:00 p.m., and left a car there and proceeded to Auburn and the put-in point. We were on the water by 2:00. This was the first year that the Enck's were self contained. Kyler was up front, Tristan was in the middle and I was in the back.

We were a little worried about water levels, but the first day's paddling went well, and I think we only scraped bottom once. Nobody spilled, and we made our first stop at the old canal locks about an hour into the paddle. Along the way we fished, and the smallies and fall fish were coming to hand pretty steadily.

After the exploration of the locks and refreshments, we proceeded to camp. I'm always a little worried that somebody is going to be there, but once again, it was empty. We unloaded gear, made camp, and then enjoyed the rest of the evening relaxing in the woods. The kids had a blast playing in the creek, fishing and shooting BB guns.

We were up fairly early the next morning, and on the water by 9:00. On the last part of the float, the low water made things a little tricky, but once again all boats came through. We shuttled cars, loaded canoes then headed to 3Cs for breakfast.

Another great Blue Monkey Sojourn.

GTN Triathlon, 2010

After having to take a DNS in April at the Hempfield Triathlon, I was ready to get the first triathlon of 2010 under my belt. I felt pretty good, and well trained, but I wasn't sure how good of biking shape I was in.


I picked up my packet the evening before, so on Saturday morning I was ready to go. I arrived at the race by 6:30 a.m., and had plenty of time to warm-up, which consisted of a 4 mile ride, and about a half mile of running and form drills. I saw a lot friendly faces and enjoyed catching up with everyone. I ate a fruit bar, and had a Red Bull prior to the start.


I was in the 9th wave, which was good from the standpoint that I had plenty of time to get ready, but later, on the course, it was tough navigating around all the competitors that I caught up to. Last year, and the years before, the men started first, then the women. This seemed better to me. I'm not a world-class athlete, but I was rapidly overtaking women, and in somewhat of a dangerous manner. As for the swim itself: it was my best swim ever, and I PRd by almost a minute. The laps in the pool are starting to pay off. Time: 9:40.


Started out well, but with about 2-3 miles to go, the 3 weeks of training that I lost, because of my knee injury, became evident. I just didn't have the gas at the end. My bike time was about 1-2 minutes off, and I wasn't able to finish as strong. The ride took a lot out of me, and I felt it on the run. I did, however, manage a 19.5 mph pace.


Not so bad. went under 7:00, 6:54, but, I cramped on the false flat on the run. It wasn't t the point where I had to stop, but I could feel it.

Final Results

78th overall; 11th in Age Group. I was happy. Up next, Pinchot.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SNP/Harpers Ferry 2010

Kyler and I departed last Friday for the Shenandoah National Park to the strains of AC/DC, Ozzy and Rob Zombie. Not necessarily my choice for the trip south, but Kyler was happy with the soundtrack.

The drive down was uneventful, and we made good time. We got to front Royal around 10:45 and met Andy B. for lunch. After lunch, we departed for the Old Rag Mountain parking lot to begin our hike up Nicholson Hollow.

This was Kyler's third backpacking trip, and he is definitely getting stronger. Playing soccer has been a great conditioner for him. We made good time up the trail. We only stopped once along one of the larger waterfalls on the Nicholson Hollow Trail. I got out the Tenkara rod, rigged up and caught my first brookie on the hughes with the new rod.

We arrived in camp around 2:00 and set about getting things in order. We rigged up my 16' Noah's Tarp from Kelty, which gave us a nice place to hang out. This tarp would be a little too big for a longer backpacking trip, but it was no problem hauling it in to the Hughes River, and it provides a great place to hangout, especially if rain threatens.

After camp was set-up, Kyler went down to the creek to play, and Andy and I sat around shooting the breeze. Andy then went fishing, and went down to watch Kyler build his great dam across the creek.

After supper, I got the Tenkara out again and landed about a half dozen more brook trout. We then played Uno until around dusk. We then went on a salamander hunt led by Andy B. We captured and observed five different species. After out herpetology foray, Kyler was whooped, and he went to bed.

The next day, we had breakfast, and then Kyler and I filled a daypack and headed out for an adventure. We went upstream, and fished a little, built cairns, caught and observed bugs, climbed rocks and explored a cave. basically, we just enjoyed a morning in the woods with no agenda. We met Andy on the way down the trail, and headed back to camp for lunch.

After lunch, we went downstream, and fished our way back towards camp. We then had supper, played our new favorite camp game, Uno, on the veranda, and again, Kyler was out by dark.

On Sunday, we got up had breakfast, broke camp, and hiked out, we were in the parking lot around 11:00 a.m. I decided that rather than go home on Rt. 81, we would take Rt. 340 and stop at Harper's Ferry for lunch. Wow, what a great find. If you never have been there i recommend it. We had lunch at the Secret Six Pub then explored the town, climbed to Jefferson Rock on the AT, visited the AT Conservancy, headed back into town for ice cream, then strolled along the river. We were just going to have lunch, but ended up spending the entire afternoon there.

All in all, it was a great trip. We both had fun, and it was sure great spending time with Kyler.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hempfield Tri For Life Race Report


Last week I aggravated a knee injury by trying to push to hard on a day my knee was asking for a rest. Consequently, I could hardly walk on Wednesday the morning after my ride. I had particular problems going up and down steps. By Thursday, I was still unable to go up, or down steps without pain, so I went to the doctor, and heard what I didn't want to hear: possible tear, no triathlon. I went for an x-ray (everything is an x-ray it seems. My insurance company won't allow an MRI before an x-ray...hello, it's a tissue problem, not bone), and began taking Naproxin. By Friday I was going up steps, and Saturday I was able to go down steps, but I wasn't going to risk further injury by racing. So, I decided to volunteer at the race.

I learned a lot about what goes into putting on a triathlon. I had the good fortune to be able to ride around with my buddy Don. A. who was the course director. We ensured road crossings had flaggers and volunteers, monitored the race, and then removed all the course signs after the last competitor went through. It was a valuable experience, and I plan to volunteer at this event in the future. In fact, I encourage all racers to volunteer at least once a year at an event. It will make you appreciate more what it entails to provide you with a great racing experience.

Great job, Hempfield Tri Club!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tenkara On The Donegal

I finally had a chance to get my new Tenkara rod out today. I was originally going to head up to Manada Creek, but with the impending rain, I decided to stick closer to home and fish the Donegal.

I got to the stream around 9:45, air temp. was in the 50s. I would say the water was in the 50s also. The creek was running high, but fairly clear for the Donegal. When I pulled into the parking area, I saw two other cars, so I decided to walk downstream a ways and fish back to the car.

Being the first time out with the Tenkara, I wasn't sure how long it was going to take to rig up. I glanced at the Tenkara site before heading out, and the information was clear. After I put my waders on, I broke out the rod, and I was ready to fish in five minutes. I should note, that before I left the house, I was going through my mental checklist and had a hard time wrapping my mind around not taking a reel.

I tied on an Enckster, my bead head creation, and walked downstream about five minutes and began to fish. Tenkara's catch phrase is streamlined fly fishing, and I was amazed at the simplicity in Tenkara fishing. At the first hole I fished I got the feel for the rod, and quickly developed the rhythm for casting a Tenkara, which is a bit slower than a traditional rod. I was able to cover the hole well, and got some really nice drifts which were possible with the lighter line and longer rod. The rod, without the reel, is also very sensitive and I could pick up many vibrations.

I didn't catch anything in the first hole, but the second hole I came too I landed a 10" brown trout, and became a "Tenkara angler." I wasn't sure at first how easy it was going to be to land a fish, but it was quite simple. As I continued upstream, I landed 4 more, the largest being a 14" rainbow. I fished about two hours, and wanted to fish longer, but it began to rain, so I called it a day.

A few observations:

1) It is a simple, and enjoyable method of fly fishing. It reminds me of being a kid, when all I used was a stick, a piece of line and hook with bait.

2) Getting started was easy, and the Tenkara site has everything you need to know.

3) Snags must be dealt with a little more gently. I didn't snag as much with the Tenkara rod as I usually do, and most times the snags were easily retrieved. One time, however, I put the fly up high, and was going to pull it free with the rod, but then thought better of it, and pulled using the line. I lost the fly, but spared the rod. After I was finished, I saw the pamphlet included with the line, and realized I did the right thing by not pulling the rod.

4) The Tenkara method is great for nymphing. I'm a fairly good nymph fisherman, and this style has made it easier. I have never, "Czech nymphed," but I could see how Tenkara would be good for employing those techniques.

I'm looking forward to getting out again soon, and hope to do some dry fly Tenkara fishing.

Peters Mtn/AT Backpacking Trip

What a great weekend for backpacking. Of course, when we planned this trip, after our January trip, there was no way to know that the weather was going to be so nice. February had me thinking that we might be hiking with snow on the ground.

Kyler, Brian B., Mike M. Kyle F. and I began this trip off of Route 225, north of Dauphin, PA. The temps were in the low 70s, and the parking lot was full when we arrived. This was a good indication that we were not going to be able to get the shelter, or at least have the shelter to ourselves.

We got on the trail around noon, and headed east along Peters Mountain. This was the first time I have ever hiked this section of the AT as we usually hike and camp in the Rausch gap area. The trail follows the spine of Peters Mountain and affords great views its entire length. The views on either side of the mountain, however, are different: to the north, there is much more development and farm lands, to the south, more mountains.

This was Kyler's second backpacking trip, and first of the season. We moved at his pace, which allowed for more exploration. We stopped at numerous rock outcroppings to climb, crawl, and to generally enjoy the views they afforded. Normally, I would have blown past most of the outcroppings to get into camp. This was a much more relaxing, and enlightening way to hike. The nicest of the outcroppings was, I believe, Shikellamy Rocks. When we arrived, a boy scout troop was preparing to rappel. We took a break here and climbed below the face, then scrambled around the side. From here it was a half mile to the shelter, so we saddled up and proceeded to camp.

As expected the shelter was taken, but we found a nice spot about a hundred yards to the east of the shelter to set up our tents. I heard that water was a problem at this site; so many people said it was a long way down the side of the mountain to get to the spring. While it was a little bit of a hike, I didn't find it to be all that bad, maybe a 15 minute round trip.

Once camp was set up, and water was gathered, we sat around and relished the first day of spring. Afterwards, we threw Frisbee, or rather a fun gripper flyer. The fun gripper flyer is a nice piece of gear to pack when you have kids. It's lightweight and easy to throw.

We made a little fire to cook some hot dogs, and had supper around 6:30. We kept the fire going and enjoyed sitting around shooting the breeze into the night. The temps hovered in the low 60s and it was very pleasant. Kyler conked out around 8:00, and later when I went to bed, he never woke up when I got into the tent. He was tired from a day in the outdoors.

The next morning we got up around 7:00, and after a quick breakfast and coffee and hot chocolate, we struck camp, and got back on the trail. We got back to the parking lot around 10:00, and decided to head to the Colonial Park Diner for breakfast. After breakfast, we said our goodbyes, and now look forward to seeing each other again later in the spring either in the Shenandoah National Park, or paddling down the Schuylkill for the Blue Monkey Sojourn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring, and all that

The pleasant weather we have been having this week, combined with DST, has put a new "spring" in my step. It's time to think about, or rather get serious about, spring triathlons, and trout. These two things aren't connected, but are both things that come to mind now that we are 2/3 of the way through March. I guess I should also start thinking about mowing the grass, and cleaning up the yard as well.

I was only going to compete in one triathlon this spring, Got The Nerve, but I have decided to compete in the Hempfield triathlon as well. They are a month apart, and both are within 15 minutes of my house, so what the heck.

Training has been going well, only a slight annoyance in the groin area, which doesn't seem to be a problem when I swim, bike or run, but last evening, while throwing ball with my son, I tweaked it when I lunged to catch a pitch. I was supposed to see a surgeon in Philly in April concerning what I think, and symptoms indicate, is an athletic pubalgia, but my insurance company doesn't want to pay for the MRI. They want more documentation. Guess I'll get through the next two months, train as much as I can, then go to the family doctor who will tell me to rest and take anti-inflamatories. If I do this enough, perhaps someone will authorize an MRI.

As for trout fishing, I still haven't been able to get the new Tenkara rod out. Monday, however, if the weather permits, I might fish Manada creek, and see if I can land my first salmonid "Japanese style." My buddy Scot H. had a good night on Manada last evening. I was thinking of hitting the Donegal, but since I have the day off, and a little time, I think I'll hit Manada, because it is hard to get there otherwise.

Lastly, I'm looking forward to backpacking this weekend with Kyler. We're going to hike into the Peters Mountain shelter located on the AT north of Harrisburg. I'll have a write-up and photos Monday. Hopefully, I'll also be able to report on the Tenkara experience.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tenkara: The Rod Arrives

I received my new Tenkara rod yesterday, and as a former Marine its arrival couldn't have been more ironic. Yesterday I read in the paper that ceremonies were underway on Iwo Jima to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the World War II battle that took place on that Island. So, in a historical reversal, the Japanese landed in Mount Joy.

Getting a new fly rod is always exciting, but I was particularly excited to get my Tenkara rod, primarily because it represents a new venture in a sport that enjoy. It will be fun to learn a new style of fly fishing that is practiced on an island that I visited years ago. At that time, however, I was totally unaware of the practice of Tenkara.

The rod fits in a small tube about 18" long, and before the rod is extended it is only about 16" long. These are ideal dimensions for backpacking. I also purchased a Tenkara line. Everything else that I will need to get started, I already have. I plan on using the tippet that I currently use, and I will also use flies that have worked for me on mountain trout streams in the past, including an Enckster (my name for my creation) and a parachute Adams.

I wish I could get out and try the new rod, but that will have to wait at least a few more days.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"The Enckster"

Several years ago I was experimenting with fly patterns and decided to create the simplest fly that I could that would consistently take trout. I came up with a fly that I now call the "Enckster." That's my nickname, and since I'm simple, and so is the fly, the name fits.

I first tried it on Spring Creek in Berks County, PA. This is not a known trout stream, but it had a nice population of both wild browns and rainbows. Early on a July morning, I tied on my creation, and began to fish up the creek. And, I was pleasantly surprised. I caught trout in every hole that seemed liked good holding water. Over the years, I have used my fly to take trout in both freestone and limestone creeks. Many a brown, rainbow and brookie has been deceived by this treacherous bait.

The fly is a nymph with a silver bead, and I think it is effective, because it gets down quickly and imitates a lot of different aquatic creatures. To freestone trout, it is a caddis larvae; to limestone trout, it could be a caddis, or perhaps a scud, and stocked trout, I'm sure, take it because it looks somewhat like a food pellet.

The fly, as I have mentioned is simple to tie, which has advantages for me. I don't have the time to tie like I used to, and I can crank out a good supply in a half an hour. The materials are inexpensive, which is also beneficial.

Tie some up, and give them a try.

Hook: Mustad 3906B, or equivalent, 12-16 (14 is my favorite)
Thread: Tan, 8/0
Bead: silver to match hook size
Underbody: lead wire covering half the shank, and tucked into the bead
Dubbing: Natural "haretron" (hare's body with antron carpet fibers)

Tips: when dubbing, don't use wax; dub loosely so fibers stick out. Wrap forward getting gradually thicker towards the bead.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A few weeks ago I came across a website promoting the art of Tenkara, or Japanese fly fishing. I was intrigued, and two days ago I finally decided to buy a Tenkara rod and give it a try, especially on mountain brook trout streams. I ordered the rod from Tenkara USA. I specifically purchased the 11' Iwana along with a traditional Japanese fly line.

Part of the appeal of this new endeavor is the simplicity of the set-up, and it's practical use as a lightweight rod for backpacking. It also hearkens back to my days of fishing for chubs (venerable chubs as Walton wrote) on the Conoy Creek in Elizabethtown. I spent many hours with nothing more than a stick, a piece of monofillament, a hook and dough balls beguiling many a shiner and dace. Occasionally, when the fish gods smiled, I'd catch a sucker or a sunfish.

My rod is currently in transit, and with the approaching storm, I won't be trying it out anytime soon. I hope to make updates throughout the spring to share my success, or failure with his new technique. Stay posted, in the meantime enjoy this video:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Wonderland

For those living in the Mid-Atlantic region, you know that we have had a lot of snow this winter. I, for one, have enjoyed the change of pace and the chance to engage in activities that usually involve travel to snowier places.

For the first time in 10 years, I was able to use the snowshoes that my wife picked up at EMS on a rental equipment clearance sale. With two feet on the ground, last weekend's tramp through Chiques Park with my buddy Chris R. was quite enjoyable using the snowshoes.

The new trail along the Susquehanna River has proven to be a great place to go to cross-country skiing. The access is still somewhat limited, so not to many people are using it. The tracks that skiers have made are sticking around since the hikers are not trampling them, and because they don't receive direct sunlight. I was able to get out two weekends in a row, and as long as the rain is not too bad later today, hopefully I'll get out next weekend as well.

Another benefit to the amount of snow on the ground is that even though it warmed up enough to go for a ride this past weekend, I was riding through a nice white backdrop. On Sunday, in fact, I almost pulled off a classic double: XC skiing in the morning and cycling in the afternoon.

It will be nice to get out on the track again, and to get in some more rides, but in the meantime, I'll enjoy the change of pace afforded by the winter weather. Coincidentally, I purchased a new pair of Northface Chilkat boots in anticipation of even more snow, but, they are due to arrive this afternoon, and the forecast, as I have said, is calling for rain. Nothing like ordering a new pair of winter boots to jinx the snowfall totals, and to hasten the arrival of spring.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yellow Springs Rendezvous 2010

What a difference a week in winter makes. Had the YSR been this weekend, we might not have been able to make into Stony Valley. As it turns out, we contended with extremely cold temperatures last weekend, but no snow.

Things didn't begin well as we hit a deer in Kory's truck on the way to the Farmer's Wife for breakfast. The delay while waiting for the police to dispatch the deer that didn't die on impact caused us to miss breakfast. It was, however, worse for the deer.

After breakfast we made our way to the trail-head only to find the Game Commission closed the gate into Stony Valley, our second set-back of the trip. This inconvenience, however, turned out to be a boon as we found a great new access point for the AT, which led to a better camping area than Yellow Springs.

Once in camp, we set up and prepared for a cold night, which meant cutting a lot of wood. Supper and merriment ensued; a good time, I believe, was had by all. And we tied a 19 year record - the temperature Sunday morning was 5 degrees.

Enjoy the photos.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

Twenty ten? two thousand ten? I guess the first one is easier, so happy twenty ten. I never make resolutions, so I won't be posting any here. I'll just have to follow my zen quote on the front page of my blog and see what flows my way.

Last night my wife and I went to our favorite Indian restaurant for supper, and our favorite sitar player was playing. He is also a yoga instructor and has opened a studio. Like I said, I have no resolutions for the New Year, but I'm always on the look out for new endeavors, and I may just have to sign up for a class or two. It never hurts to learn something new, and a new approach, or modification to fitness does the body good. Besides, as I approach 48, flexibility is something I should work on.

Other than that, there is nothing on the horizon, but the GTN triathlon is in the offing.

Good luck this year folks. I ate my pork and sauerkraut for New Years, so I know I have nothing to worry about.