A superb hike in Acadia National Park

West Side Trail map

West Side Trail map-click to enlarge

After hiking some 8,000 miles of National Scenic trail in the past six years, I have a feel for the best segments of trail.  I found that yesterday, in Acadia National Park, 65 miles and 90 minutes away from my house on the coast of Maine.

I was invited along on an all day hike by a good friend, and increasingly frequent hiking sidekick Ryan Linn, AKA Guthook, owner of Guthook’s Trail Guide Apps.  We had been up to Acadia together a few weeks ago for a long day hike in this same area, but this time, I felt as if I discovered the best kept hiking secret in Maine.

It’s still beautiful on the coast of Maine on this Halloween hike- there is still colorful foliage lingering in the trees.

Green World

Green World

The rich hues of green imbedded within the carpets of moss on ancient hummocks punctuated by glacial boulders in a landscape framed by the chilling grey waters of the Atlantic Ocean make this loop a definite to-do on any hiker’s checklist.

We started early and hiked until late, reminding me that from now on, I’m packing a flashlight on any day hike.

Take a good map- I  had the Acadia National Park Waterproof Trail Map by Map Adventures. Carey Kish’s 10th Edition Maine Mountain Guide has a full map of the much more popular eastern side of Acadia, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for some of the western side map details, for example Beech Mountain.  There is so little traffic on these western side trails- we saw not one hiker out on our 14 mile step-fest today.

Here was our itinerary: Park at the Pine Hill lot by Seal Cove.  Up the Great Notch Trail, down to the lower part of Sluiceway Trail.

Guthook detected the remains of an ancient granite step staircase off to the right on the way down the Sluiceway. Here’s a shot looking down the steps. It appears to go straight up Bernard Mountain. I plan to go back and try to tease that out through a bushwhack that might get steep.

Mystery steps

Mystery steps

Then up the Bernard Mountain Trail back up to the Great Notch and down the upper part of the Sluiceway Trail onto the Gilley Trail.

Great Notch

Great Notch

Head east to the Cold Brook Trail through the Long Pond parking lot where we picked up the Valley Trail.

Guthook plots the next moves at Long Pond lot

Guthook plots the next moves at Long Pond lot

From here we ascended Beech Mountain via the South Ridge.

Beech Mountain fire tower

Beech Mountain fire tower

From the summit, we took the Beech Mountain Loop north.

Looking north up Long pond.

Looking north up Long pond.

Here we picked up the Valley Trail  all the way back to the parking lot at the south end of Long Pond. Then a long shore side walk on The Long Pond ( Great Pond) Trail to where it terminates on the Great Notch Trail back to our car.

You may not want to do all of this is one day, so let me cut to the quick:  the best stuff was on Beech Mountain.   The trail was what I call “World Class Hiking”.  Trust me.

Going up Beech Mountain

Going up Beech Mountain

All in all it was a great , long, and highly rewarding day, capped off by a visit with Carey Kish, who welcomed us to his new place on the western side.  Kish has seen and done most all of what there is to do in Acadia.  The high point of the evening was when Carey dug out  the hand written notes that proceeded the original 1970’s vintage Appalachian Trail Data book (he has that too) that he used on his 1977 thru-hike of the AT.

 

Why I am renewing my Outside magazine subscription

I just renewed my subscription to Outside magazine.   The days are long past when I have had close to a dozen magazines in my mailbox every month.  I am now down to just three:  Outside, Backpacker,  and Dirt Rag, an east coast mountain bike magazine.

Why Outside?

It’s always find at least one major article that I find interesting in each issue.  However, I just re-read the January 2013 issue.  outside-january-2013_fe

It was in an old pile of stuff. I was surprised to find four featured long articles that appealed to me.

Here’s what I’m talking about:  An article about how short-intense workout efforts might be more useful than long slow hours in the saddle ( referenced below).  And then there’s an article about James Balog’s 2014 Emmy Award Winning documentary- Chasing Ice ( check this one out on Netflix). A detailed and balanced report about the “who doesn’t have it?” App Strava follows, and there’s even a killer story about how sports psychology can make a difference in mental fitness.

With so much online right now, we really don’t need to have any print coming in the mailbox.  I still like to engage in reading a magazine now and then, and I’m still impressed with the quality of the offerings in Outside.  The twice annual Buyer’s Guides that come with a couple of the issues don’t generally offer me  anything . I  don’t keep them around, and pass them on.

May be I can pass the print copy of January 2013 on as well, as I just realized that all of the individual links that I’ve posted above can be found in one place on the Outside web site.  All the past issues are online.  I think that’s now the norm, but it’s still pretty incredible!

 Brian MacKenzie’s Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training |

It’s Official- Triple Crown Award !

Small size, big deal

Small size, big deal

I opened the beat-up padded envelope that just came in my mailbox and was blown away to finally see this physical object in my hands.  I’m in a club of  230 individuals world wide !

The American Long Distance Hiking Association-West sent me a congratulatory letter with three statistics:

“On a single day in May 2012, more people summited Mt. Everest than have hiked the Triple Crown.

More people have circumnavigated the earth than have hiked the Triple Crown.

More people have been in space than have hiked the Triple Crown.”

Triple Crown patch

Triple Crown patch

I didn’t do it alone.

My deepest appreciation goes out to Dick Wizard,  Train, General Lee, Paddy-O, my wife Auntie Mame, my mother Isabel, my brother Roy, my son Lincoln and his fiancée Stephanie , Don Kivelus ( Four Dog Stove)  and my Trailjournal transcribers Jan Munroe (v8), and John Clark (Tenzing).  Special thanks to all the other hikers who helped me ( it’s an impossibly long list to do justice to) , my faithful Traijournal readers, and all the individuals , past and present, who worked or are working  to make our National Scenic Trails a reality that anyone can step onto and return to our ancestral purpose in the grand forests, deserts, mountains, and plains that grace the United States of America.

 

Uncle Tom Keynotes at Minnesota’s Winter Camping Symposium

“We are excited to announce a new addition to our Winter Camping Symposium: KEY NOTE SPEAKER – Tom Jamrog.
P1040551

Saturday’s Key Note Address will cover: Winter Walking the West: Preparing and Adapting to Snow Travel in the High Sierras and Rocky Mountains.

Tom Jamrog has been backpacking, riding mountain bikes, and living in the outdoors for close to 50 years. Tom maintains his popular blog: Living Large While Walking The Big Trail, and Tom’s Trailjournals have amassed close to one million web visits.

From 2007 to 2013, Tom backpacked over 8,000 miles in the United States. On October 24, 2014 The American Long Distance Hiking Association-West awarded Tom the Triple Crown of Hiking, for having completed continuous through hikes of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails, joining a relatively small club of 200+ individuals.

Tom has completed winter trips in Canada and conducts yearly trips in Maine, where he has lived with his wife, Marcia, for the past 40 years.”

I am really looking forward to my visit to the Duluth area next week, where I hope to connect with some old and make some new friends.  I’ll  be working at the Four Dog Stove booth at the event, so please stop by and say hello.

Full schedule, speaker and workshop details here ! 

Walking the Trails Near Katahdin Lake – Baxter State Park

Crafty Use of Birch

Crafty Use of Birch

Our second full day at Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps was so interesting.

Last night I awoke to the sound of waves slapping against the sand beach below us.  I walked out on the porch to check it out and was pleased to see a starry sky. Right in front of me was the Big Dipper, boldly presenting right above the horizon behind Katahdin Lake.

Our front porch

Our front porch

This porch faces directly north, boldly defiant in it’s willingness to comfort any potential traveler.

I awoke to a still, cold morning with the thermometer outside registering 34 degrees. I took a number of photographs just after light appeared.

Katahdin to the Turners - Panorama

Katahdin to the Turners – Panorama

Here are two brave canoeists who were wearing winter coats and gloves.

North Across Katahdin Lake

North Across Katahdin Lake

The unmistakable sound of a powerful airplane engine echoed against the nearby painted hills. Just about everyone in camp was on the beach to greet Jim, ace bush pilot at Katahdin Air, who was taxiing right up to the beach. Jim flew three of us into the Hundred Mile Wilderness in August.   to pick up Chris Huntington, a landscape painter who was wrapping up a two week residence here today.

The Artist Exits

The Artist Exits

Three of Huntington’s paintings of Katahdin hang in the dining room here, along with two of Caren Michel’s pieces. He told me that he had been  here for two weeks, but usually lives here for  a month.  Marcia and I shared two meals with Caren, who is a Maine-based painter, and was bundled up and standing outside all weekend, creating new treasures.  I particularly enjoyed two of Michael Vermette’s small, thickly layered renditions of the mountain that were on display above our wooden table.

Classic Baxter signage

Classic Baxter signage

Marcia and I walked a 5 mile loop today to the Martin Ponds where a new lean-to faces yet another unique view of Katahdin.

Katahdin from Martin Pond

Katahdin from Martin Pond

It is the closest view of Katahdin that we’ve seen. Canoes for rent pepper the shores of the Lake and ponds here.  ($1 an hour in Baxter, $10 a day at KLWC).

We walked over a beaver dam to start our loop.

High Water Would Have Been Tough

High Water Would Have Been Tough

The path was rocky, rooty, and covered with moss in parts.

Marcia keeps dry boots

Marcia keeps dry boots

I was hoping to get in some canoeing this time, as walk all the way out to the end of the Twin Ponds Trail, which would have added 10 more miles to the day’s efforts.  Next time, for sure.

Marcia and had our last dinner in the Lodge tonight. We didn’t know the menu, but found out when the cook himself quietly tapped on our cabin door at ten minutes of six to ask how we wanted our sirloin steaks prepared. Caren and the two of us were the last “sports” served dinner this season, as the camp was closing tomorrow, on Columbus Day. They tend vegetable gardens here. The roasted potatoes, boiled carrots, and friend onions that accompanied our perfect steaks were especially tasty.

Auntie Mame

Auntie Mame

We lingered for an hour or so in the tiny, ancient library in the Lodge before we walked back to our car, the woods vibrant  in pulsing light.

Fall Treasure

Fall Treasure

A nearby cabin

Hiking to Katahdin Lake- Baxter’s “Newest” Acquisition

With hushed celebratory internal fanfare, Marcia and I passed through the Togue Pond Gatehouse at Baxter State Park on Columbus Day weekend. We’ve been here many fall weekends before, but this time was unique. This will be our first time at Katahdin Lake.
We brought no printed reservations for our two-night stay at Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps.   I was asked to share my name, and the answer to “How many nights?”,  and was immediately handed a pass to place on my windshield.  We drove up six miles on the dusty Roaring Brook Road , where we parked at the old Avalanche Field group camping site, and prepared to walk 3.3 miles on the Katahdin Lake Trail to get there.
The walk in was magnificent.

Marcia on the puncheon beside the corduroy road

Marcia on the puncheon beside the corduroy road

It looked like peak foliage, with abundant fiery red leaves still thick on the deciduous trees. The beeches are bursting coppery, and yellow luminous.

Beeches show off

Beeches show off

The air is cool, but not cold.  The footpath is relatively flat, with puncheon walkways meandering through the wetter sections. Streams are occasionally sounding in the distance, as is the rustling of the leaves.
The first night, we rented a furnished cabin for $63 ( Friends of Baxter State Park discount).

Purgatory Lodge

Purgatory Lodge

Our second night we splurged and bought into the meal plan, instead of cooking in the cabin. Our place had dry firewood, fresh water, a big cooler with a frozen gallon of water in it (refrigerator), three propane lights, and a gas cook stove.  A wood heat stove, and a rubber tote bin with clean dishes and silverware rounded out the amenities.

The kitchen and wood stove

The kitchen and wood stove

There were four beds inside: two doubles downstairs, and two single beds set up in the loft.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The bedroom and loft

The Camps are private, and are still holding on to a 20 year lease for these 30 acres on the southern shore of Katahdin Lake, the most recent ( 2006) acquisition to the Park in many years.
A brief history of these classic old Maine hunting/fishing cabins are featured in John Neff’s “Katahdin”. The Camps were established in the late 1880s, when they served men who lived in Eastern seaboard cities who wanted to hunt moose, caribou, and bear. The establishment was dealt an economic blow when moose hunting was banned by the 1918 Legislature. For a number of years, the camps were abandoned, but revived again in the mid 1920s. In 1925 a group of businessmen from New York set up a lease on the camp and ran it as a private fishing cub with rights to 12,000 acres surrounding the camp. Then the Depression hit and that venture ended. Around 1921, the Cobbs acquired the lease and after extensive remodeling and improvements, ran it for the next 32 years. The Camp leases were transferred to other individuals in 1965 and then again in 1970.
I was surprised to see the age on this cluster of buildings. They are ancient!   A staff member guided us down a path to Purgatory Lodge, our cabin for the weekend, with the shore of Katahdin Lake not 50 feet off the front porch.  We learned that this was one of the two oldest log cabins, dating back to around 1900. It is still solid, but thoroughly patched, with old pieces of newspaper plugging some of the holes and cracks around the window frames, new tarpaper shingles nailed to places around the sills, and ample use of insulating foam evident both inside and out.
These camps have no electricity, running water, or cell phone coverage.

A nearby cabin

A nearby cabin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe the smallest one?

Staying at these camps in a huge step backward to a time when one left the hustle and bustle of life to get away from it all, with guests arriving by buckboard from the Roaring Brook Road, by pontooned  floatplane, or by walking.
Except for the buckboard and a couple of solar panels on the Lodge’s roof, nothing much has changed.

Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous 2014

Tent City at Snow Walkers' (2013)

Tent City at Snow Walkers’ (2013)

I am presenting a talk in Vermont at this event, upcoming in November..

My talk/ photo display will be : Winter Walking the West: Preparing and Adapting for Snow Travel in the Sierras and the Rockies

It’ a great weekend of all things winter foot- travel related.  It sells out at 100 registrants every year so far, so get in touch with Lynn if you are interested in going.

Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous 2014
November 7-9
Hulbert Outdoor Center
Fairlee, Vermont
Friday, November 7 – 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Saturday, November 8– 8:45 am- 9:00pm
Sunday, November 9 – morning – workshops & informal hike/ bike

Join us for our 20th informal gathering of friends (and friends of friends) who love to travel traditionally in the winter wilderness. We’ll have slides, and films and lots of information to exchange. Bring your favorite items from the North to display: maps, books, photo albums, sleds, tools, etc. All are welcome to display tents and share traditional camp set-ups.

Partial list of folks sharing their experiences:
Katherine Donahue NH Steaming North: 1st Cruise of US Revenue Cutter Bear,Alaska & Siberia,1886
Ruth Heindel VT Stories from the Poles: Science and Adventure in Greenland and Antarctica
Paul Sveum NH 21 Day Snowshoe Trip on the Boundary Waters
Mirelle Bouliano QU Skiing Northern Quebec
Craig MacDonald ON Richmond Gulf Traverse 1979
Bruce Lindwall NH Back Country Skiing the Sierra Crest Trail
Tom Jamrog ME Winter Walk the West: Preparing & Adapting on the Pacific Crest & Continental Divide
Scott Ellis VT Finding Simplicity in Winter Camping

WORKSHOPS:
Alex Medlicott NH First Aid for the Winter Trail – Cold Injuries; prevention,recognition;treatment
Ann Ingerson VT Sewing Your Own Winter Gear
Tim Smith NH Axe Handling
Ross Morgan VT Knots for the Trail
Paul Sveum NH Food Planning for the Trail
David & Anna Bosum QU (Tentative) Cree Culture
Film – “On the Wings of Mighty Horses” – Sakha Republic
Geoffrey Burke NH Build your Own Toboggan
Loranne Carey Block NH Felted & Knitted Sock Fiber Arts for Camping
Tour of the Tents & Stoves Traditional Equipment Display
Used Equipment – Sale/Swap Bring your fiddle, guitar or musical instrument for evening fun…
AND MUCH MORE…………………………..

Meals & Lodging: Simple lodging is available at the Hulbert Outdoor Center. Cozy 3-4 bedroom heated cabins provide comfortable accommodations. (As well as your tent!) Meals served buffet style in dining hall. The Center is located on Lake Morey, and is easily accessible from I-91.
Program registration -$60; student/limited income-$45. Registrations accepted until program is full.
Meals & lodging package for the weekend (Fri. Dinner through Sun. Breakfast, 3-4 occupancy/room)
Commuter & tent rates available (see registration form) Thanks for mailing or faxing your registration after Oct 1. Sorry we cannot accept phone registrations.

Registration Questions: Lynn_Daly@alohafoundation.org