Uncle Tom on Channels 2 and 6 Monday and Tues. nights

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UT atop Katahdin, Sept. 2014 – photo by Ryan Linn (AKA Guthook)

Rob Caldwell’s Maine-based TV news magazine “207″ (named after Maine’s one and only area code) interviewed me at my kitchen table two weeks ago. Rob’s program will feature a conversation we had about adventures, walking for months on end at a time, and being awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking.

The interview will air in two parts : November 24 & 25th—part 1 on Monday, part 2 on Tuesday. Catch it at 7:00 p.m. on channel 6 in Portland and channel 2 in Bangor. It will also be posted in the 207 section of www.WCSH6.com .

Rob told me to, “Tell everyone you’ve ever met. We want even people on hiking trails who are fifty miles away from the nearest TV to watch.”

The Last Great Walk- my book review

The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters TodayThe Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today by Wayne Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This 2014 book gets 4 out of 5 stars.
It really held my interest. I found out about a popular cultural phenomenon of the late 19th century-American pedestrianism. During the 1870s and 1880s, America’s most popular spectator sport wasn’t baseball, or football—it was competitive walking. Inside sold-out arenas, competitors walked around dirt tracks almost nonstop for six straight days, risking their health and sanity to see who could walk the farthest—500 miles was standard.

This book is about the “final” mega-stroll of Edward Payson Weston, who, in 1909, walked across the USA on a bet that he could ambulate from coast to coast in 100 days or less, demanding an average of 40 miles a day. Weston was 70 years old when me took on the challenge. He was the best known of the competitive walkers. We join the taciturn Weston as he is mostly angered, but rarely dismayed about the unexpected pitfalls that he encountered through the Great Plains-over the Rockies, across some deserts, and often struggling through deep mud. The upside of his western journey were the massive crowds that greeted him as his highly publicized venture was big National news.

At the time, there were far fewer roads into the West. The automobile was just gaining momentum at the time, and tarred roads were unheard of outside the more populated Eastern seaboard. Weston often walked the newly established railroad system, and was challenged by navigational issues, deep sections of sticky mud, and downright nasty weather ( He left new your on a chilly March day).

The book’s back story is about the loss of walking as a viable means to getting about one’s local communities, as well as a highly interesting discussion about the medical, physical, and spiritual benefits that are gained from spending hours moving about the countryside, on our own two feet.

The book is very well written, and authored by Wayne Curtis, the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year in 2002.

View all my reviews

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route From Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Four- UFO | CARROT QUINN

Chance on Darwin Flats – photo by Carrot Quinn

I thought there were four entries about this trip, but there appear to be at least 5.  Here’s number 4, where our trio of badass babes of the West walk around in the night to saddle up to the approach on Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental USA.  Warning: bad words, bad words…

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route From Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Four- UFO | CARROT QUINN.

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route From Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Three- Heat Exhaustion and Magical Desert Goldfish | CARROT QUINN

 

Me and Jess- photo by NotaChance

Me and Jess- photo by NotaChance

PART 3 ( out of  4).  The best backpacking writing in November 2014 is right here.

“But the endorphins of steep climbs are a thing without parallel, and that feeling you get upon reaching the top is a feeling, I am learning, to build one’s entire life around.”

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route From Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Three- Heat Exhaustion and Magical Desert Goldfish | CARROT QUINN.

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Two- Mystical Water Fortresses and an Unbound Freedom I Didn’t Know Existed | CARROT QUINN

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Two- Mystical Water Fortresses and an Unbound Freedom I Didn’t Know Existed | CARROT QUINN<<–

NotAChance and Orbit- photo by Carrot Quinn

Part two becons.  She’s at it again.

Snow Walker’s Rendezvous – welcome to winter 2014

Last weekend, I attended the Snow Walker’s Rendezvous in Vermont .

Home made tent and stove

Learn by Doing

I experienced the weekend through a new lens-through the eye of a newly Registered Maine Guide.  Other Maine Guides were in attendance, including Master Maine Guide Tim Smith, and another new friend I made at the weekend, Portland-based Lou Falank.

I really enjoyed hanging out with Tim on Saturday night.

Tim Smith

Tim Smith has been finding his way into the conter of the bushcraft/backwoods survival skills spotlight for some time now. He developed and continues to run his Jack Mountain Bushcraft School,  the highly respected Maine-based ” University of Outdoor Skills” .  Tim’s long-term immersion programs are the longest and most comprehensive bushcraft, survival and guide training courses in North America.

What’s bushcraft?  The JMB website explains: ‘Bushcraft is the active component of our interaction with the natural world. Both art and science, bushcraft is doing, making, crafting, traveling, building and living in the natural world. It is an inclusive term for doing things outdoors and is composed of activities such as, but not limited to, primitive skills, modern survival, classic camping, expeditionary skills, prepping, hiking, paddling, crafting and outdoor living, as well as more specialized disciplines such as hunting, fishing and trapping. Bushcraft has no political agenda or worldview, isn’t about preparing for the end of the world, and isn’t an “ism”. It is made up of people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds who share a love for being active outdoors.’
Now Tim’s going to be on our living-room or palm-based screens in upcoming episodes of Dude, You’re Screwed on the Discovery Channel.  Tim’s episode should be entertaining us before 2015 rolls around, sometime in early December.  Stay tuned for more details.

The normally bushcraft-distant New York Times gave considerable column length to the show in their Dec. 20, 2013 review :  “Dude, You’re Screwed” centers on five men, most with advanced military training, who take turns running gauntlets designed for them by the others. Episodes open with essentially a staged rendition — the mark is kidnapped, hooded and bound at the wrists, then spirited off to who knows where. Unhooded, he’s left to fend for himself with just a handful of tools provided by the team. (As for suspension of disbelief, wouldn’t the participants know their destination when they’ve presumably gone through passport control?)
While the contestant in the game — all the men refer to it as “the game,” though there’s no prize — makes his way through various struggles, the other four men observe him remotely, and sometimes say grim things like “Moisture kills out here.”
But more often, their mood is light. Its like the home run contest before the All-Star Game, an essentially meaningless display of skills where titans watch one another show off. But the casual mood also serves to take the edge off the very real struggle of the man in the wild.
I want to see this show, but I don’t subscribe to the Discovery Channel.  If tell you when it’s on, can someone help me see it?  

I also had a great time talking with Lou Falnak.

Lou Falank -photo by Emily McCabe

Lou Falank -photo by Emily McCabe

Lou runs his Mountain Bear Programs and Guide Service.
Lou has provided programs as a director, instructor, and co-facilitator at camps & schools across Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania. He’s a Registered Maine Guide. His L.O.S.T.(Learning Outdoor Survival Techniques) Program specializes in bringing youth from a wide variety of backgrounds into the outdoors to learn skills and experience community. He’s making a difference in the lives of children in the Portland area, bringing after-school bush-crafting skills to the next generation.

Lou and I hit it off. We’ll get together in the near future, after Thanksgiving, to do something together in the outdoors.

I  was recruited to kick off the weekend at Friday night’s whole group meeting ( the event cuts off at 100 registrants) with a half hour reading from my blog. This was old school, no iPhoto or Powerpoint, just one guy trying to entertain the faithful by reading a half-hour story of an actual deep winter adventure in the Maine woods.

I  read about my one-week walk across the frozen Moosehead and Seboomook Lakes.    Here’s the link to the talk- this time there are photos and three video clips -The Great Slush Walk of 2009.

Mark Shaw exits our hotel room

Mark Shaw exits our hotel room

I plan to include at least one more entry about the weekend.

There was so much to be excited about !

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part One- Don’t Fear the Reaper

Three chicks in a desert- Carrot Quinn photo

She’s back at it again.

Check out Carrot Quinn’s three-part mini-series on a ridiculously tough microadventure from the lowest point to the highest in the USA, with all 165 miles in between.  Warning: bad words, and numerous behaviors that are considered unacceptable to mainstream America follows!

—>>>Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part One- Don’t Fear the Reaper.