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Outdoor Bound Surprise Lake Hiking Trip

Posted Aug 31 2010 7:24am

I’m back this week from my vacation. It’s funny, I’ve been working in corporate America since February 2006, but last week was my first paid full week off work in that entire time. Needless to say, it was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. I visited my brother in Kirkland, Washington, a suburb right outside Seattle. I ran a fantastic 9 mile training run there that I’m excited to tell you about and show you some gorgeous pictures from! I also got to spend a night in the Hamptons to help YogaVibes film Core Fusion Cardio and Core Fusion. I even got to be in the Core Fusion class that we filmed! More on that soon too.

I have so much to share, so let’s start with my very last day of vacation, this past Sunday. I went on a hike with Outdoor Bound .

A few weeks ago, I was at Angela’s rooftop party and met this cool guy Kirk. Turns out Kirk owns Outdoor Bound, “an education-based adventure company that offers unique international excursions, outdoor fitness programs, youth development programs, corporate team-building activities, and a variety of single and multi-day excursions.” Missy had actually gone on two of their hiking trips (one that included a wine tasting!) and loved it. She’d been trying to get me to come, and after meeting Kirk (and, let’s be honest, Kirk offering me a free trip) I said sure!

We chose the Surprise Lake Hike . This is the description of our hike, from the Outdoor Bound website:

A Stunning 6.5-Mile Day Hike!

This beautiful trail is notable for some steep and rocky sections that provide spectacular views. There is a wide variety of fascinating vegetation and terrain along our loop route, which includes a section of the Appalachian Trail. We hike around lovely, secluded Surprise Lake, where we will stop for lunch. In summer, bring or wear your swimsuit for a dip in the lake!

The Hike

We will cover 700 vertical feet of elevation during this adventure, and the majority of the climb is in the first two miles. After joining the Appalachian Trail for a short distance and learning about the world-famous journey that AT hikers undertake, we will follow an undulating mountain ridge for the next 2.5 miles. Our loop trail will take us through rhododendron groves and lush and mossy woodlands and we’ll scramble up craggy ridges to spectacular view.

Even with that description, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Luckily, Missy is a hiking trip expert now and sent a packing list to me, Angela and Kristine . I borrowed an awesome backpack from my roommate and filled it with water bottles, a beach towel, sunscreen, bug spray, wet wipes, flip flops, bandaids, lunch, snacks and my camera. We met with our tour guides, Arielle and Jon, and the rest of the group on 73rd and Broadway where we signed a release and boarded a van. We drove a little over an hour and arrived in a foreign land called New Jersey. In this strange place, we sprayed our bodies with sunblock and bug spray and used the facilities. By facilities, I mean the woods.

And we were off!


I had never been on a challenging hike before. I’ve hiked a couple times, but it was more like slightly hard walking. This trip was a HIKE. It was a level intensity 3, which means the following:

Level 3 > Moderate — for Novices & Above

ACTIVITY: 4 – 6 hours most days
DISTANCES: Hike up to 10 miles, cycle 20 – 40 miles most days
SURFACES: Rolling or mountainous terrain with some steeps
ELEVATION CHANGE: Up to 2,000 feet per day
ALTITUDE : Up to 10,000 feet

Even though I learned about the hikes from Missy, she never told me about the climbing involved — or the sitting, which is how I had to slide myself down some steep rocks and dips. I relied on my hands to help me navigate the trail at times, and other times I was able to jump and climb pretty well! The guides were knowledgeable and helpful and gave some great advice for tackling the more challenging sections.

(Missy climbing — this one was HARD. Someone on the trip took a picture of me tackling this but I forgot to have him send it and I don’t know his name!)

We learned how to follow a trail, which was very cool because I never knew about this at all. The trees and ground is painted with a certain color every few feet to indicate which trail you are on (a yellow trail, a blue trail, etc) and which direction you should go to continue on this trail. If you stop seeing paint, you know you might have navigated off the trail and can turn back. The stack of rocks also indicates you are on the trail.


Before we left Manhattan, our guides checked to make sure we all had at least two liters of water. I brought the luxury to the wilderness with my exhale mind body water. Kristine stayed hydrated with her sleek flask-looking water bottle.


On one of our breaks on the hike Missy and I decided stretching was necessary. My quads were already sore from filming Core Fusion the day before, and this hike was rough on the legs!

We reached the Appalachian Trail — which extends from Georgia to Maine — and the New York/New Jersey state line! I got to sign a guest ledger and stand in both states at once! And actually, it is on the Appalachian Trail that I did my downward dog. I wonder how many people can say that?


After this we had some of the toughest hiking of the day. As challenging as climbing up can be, I was most scared going down (TWSS). I would choose to sit down and push myself down with my hands instead of jump or try and shuffle down quickly. I’m running a half marathon next month and really can’t afford to get an injury! I was erring on the side of caution partly out of fear of getting injured and partly because I just get scared. Either way, it was a challenge and scary but I felt so accomplished after completing each of the difficult sections of the hike.

I was rewarded with views like this:


 Finally we reached Surprise Lake and got to relax and eat lunch. Some people went swimming, my friends and I opted for some relaxing in the sun.



We saw a giant turtle.


What a cutie! Can we hug him?

Kristine went with some interesting clothing options.

After lunch and relaxing, everyone got very quiet for the remainder of the hike. The chattering from the first few hours was over and it left lots of time for self reflection. I’m always writing my memoir in my head, so I spent the last mile and a half or so we had left working on that. Maybe one day I will write some of this down.

Before I knew it, the 6.5 mile hike was over and we were back at the van, ready to head home. I always get sad coming back to New York City after being somewhere beautiful and relaxing. It was hard coming back from Seattle earlier in the week and it was even hard coming back from my short stay in the Hamptons. This was extra melancholy because it meant that not only was the hike over, but my perfect vacation was coming to an end as well.

It really is incredible that you can get in a car in Manhattan, drive for an hour and find yourself in an entirely different universe. The hiking trail was so close but felt like a million miles away. The good news is that going on trips with Outdoor Bound is easy and inexpensive. This specific trip only costs $59, which covered transportation and being guided along difficult and hard-to-navigate trails, and guaranteed incredible views and a lake to swim in — oh yeah, and real air to breathe. For less than $60 you can get an entire day outside of the city.


My friends and I loved the trip so much we already signed up for another in September! As I disclosed before, I did not pay for this trip, but I did pay for my next one. The cost is cheap for an entire day of hiking, exercising outside, being with friends (or meeting new ones) and enjoying the outdoors. The city can be so stressful, and a one day getaway is sometimes exactly what I need. The entire trip was organized and executed flawlessly. I am impressed.

If you decide to book an Outdoor Bound trip, you will save 10% off your trip with the code Dori’s Discount upon checkout! I really hope you decide to try an Outdoor Bound activity — in addition to hiking, they offer a variety of activities such as biking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, skydiving, kayaking , photography hikes and more.  There is even a yoga hike and a wine tasting hike! Kirk started something really fantastic here and I know you would love it.

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