Maine Huts and Trails- wrap up

My bunk room morphed up to warmer last night.
The crew told me the building was so well insulated that a person’s body heat was often sufficient to turn things around.  The bunk houses are heated to around 60 degrees in the off season as well, as there is a caretaker for each hut. However since it is not a full season with a dedicated hut staff to stoke the fires in the basement on a regular around the clock schedule, there might be small fluctuations in heat (never below 50, between 57 to 65), depending on the outside temperatures. Hot water prevails, as well.

In the morning, I made myself drip coffee from the pile of filters and fresh ground Carabasset the boys set out for me before they went up last night.  Normally, breakfast is served st 7:40, but I suggested that they sleep in, courtesy of me!
At 8 sharp I was sitting in the dining room in front of a hot plate of eggs, sausage, and toast.

Flagstaff Dining Room

Flagstaff Dining Room

Lunch fixin’s were set out for me to make my own peanut and jelly sandwich, accompanied by a brownie and granola bar.

Flagstaff Lake shoreline

Flagstaff Lake shoreline

The morning light illuminated the shore and the few leaves that remained on the deciduous trees.

I’m heading back today.  On the way in here, it was unsafe to listen to music via earphones and iPhone- too many pulp trucks thundering down Long Falls Dam as well as  the gravel Carriage Roads to be distracted by tunes. I needed to hear these trucks coming. They don’t slow down at all and the roads are narrow.
This is the last weekend for MH&T to offer their full service meal plans as part of the package here (at regular rates).  Twenty folks are coming in today to stay for this last serviced  weekend- a ” yoga group”.
From October 29 until December 19 daily rates drop more than 50%, down to $35 for nonmembers and $30 for members. For that price, you get everything this place offers except the meal plan.  Guests are free to bring in their own food and use the kitchen.
In sum, I enjoyed my stay here. The facilities are unique- interesting and comfortable. I liked being taken care of. The shower was hot, the couch and reading chairs were super comfortable.
One of the parts I liked about the trip into here along the trail from Sugarloaf/Route 27 was crossing the Appalachian Trail at the exact same place that I walked over on my 2007 thru-hike.

Two thousand miles on AT from Georgia to here!

Two thousand miles on AT from Georgia to here!

It brought back positive memories.
People need to know that the terrain that surrounds the MH&T trail is mostly low country, and right now is surrounded by fresh logging activity.

Fresh logging visible along trail into Flagstaff

Fresh logging visible along trail into Flagstaff

It’s often not so scenic. Don’t get me wrong- in the warm weather the deciduous leaves will hide the freshly cut slash and stumps. Conversely, when the area is blanketed by snow the skiing, snowshoeing, and even mountain biking will be framed in a more natural situation.
I could be wrong, but there is one more reason why MH&T lets their crews go for the next month and a half.  It’s deer hunting season in Maine, and folks will definitely need to be wearing hunter orange if they travel these woods in November.  This looks like prime hunting territory.

This is quite an undertaking- these ” wilderness hotels” that are steadily coming online up here.  I am really pleased to finally experience what they are all about.
I appreciated the care and attention that the staff gave me here, even though I was the only client.
I plan to be back here before the rates double up and return to normal just before the Holiday season.

Bridge along Narrow Gauge path

Bridge along Narrow Gauge path

I have viewed enough YouTube clips to know that I want to ride my Pugsley along the groomed snow pack.

Sign me up- Fatbiking ( or is it Fakebiking?) mag

I don’t buy much of nothing, but would spend $$ on this. You hear me Google analytics? Seriously glossy, although the price continues to present as unreasonable. Shows what a man with a a fatbike, a computer, or possibly only a smartphone phone can put together these days.

Fatbike Magazine

Fatbiker “magazine” <—Check it out!

Expedition Watch: Riding a Fat Bike to the South Pole | Outdoor Adventure Blog | OutsideOnline.com

Expedition Watch: Riding a Fat Bike to the South Pole | Outdoor Adventure Blog | OutsideOnline.com.

Several presentations at Snow Walkers Rendezvous this past weekend highlighted polar travel, albeit by foot, ski, dogsled, and even kites.  How about bikes?  How about the Surly Moonlander, with clownish 5″ diameter low pressure tires?

Where 4.6 inches is big enough !

From Outside, written by Joe Spring:

“Eric Larson plans to start pedaling toward the South Pole this December, on an expedition he’s titled Cycle South. It will be the fourth Christmas in the past five years that he’s spent in Antarctica. This time, he’s given himself a pretty small window—about a month and a half—to get things done.

In 2010, 41-year-old Eric Larsen completed a year-long Save the Poles expedition in which he climbed Everest and traveled to both poles. The Minnesotan has snowshoed, dogsledded, swum, trekked, and skied across polar habitats on a slew of expeditions.

He’ll stay in touch using a DeLorme beacon and Iridium satellite phone to tweet, post Facebook messages, and provide online updates. You can follow him on EricLarsenExplore.com, @ELExplore on Twitter, and on Facebook.”

Where the Wild Things are – Adam Bradley goes 4700 miles!

From time to time I post from other peoples’ blogs related to hiking, biking, and the outdoor experience.  Here’s one with content that stands out above and beyond what you’d expect.

On October 5, I posted an entry about my disappointment with Fatbiking the Arctic- to date, an apparently failed Kickstarter project which I funded.  This was in response to  Outside Magazine’s Oct. 4,  update on the project, which appears to have been halted in the town of Pink Mountain, somewhere near the southern start point of the Alaska Highway.  That article is here- Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt.

Today I will highlight an hour long interview with another Yukon/Alaskan adventurer, but this trip was a resounding success.

Krudmeister is one of my online friends, and I know that I’ll  meet him in person someday.  This April, Krud completed a 4,700 mile human powered trip on bike, foot, and canoe.

Here’s the lead-in, from Trail Runner Nation-    “Our second interview with Adam Bradley, aka Krudmeister, a record-holding long-distance trekker!  The last time we talked to him he had just set a world record for a self supported Pacific Crest Trail trek. This summer Adam did a self-supported, human-powered trek over 4700 miles from Reno, NV to the Bearing Sea in Alaska. This is an amazing story of endurance. We talk “Krudmeister” about his 2 1/2 month journey through some of the American Continents most beautiful country, the wildlife he encountered, and his determination to keep going day after day.”

Krudmeister rode his bike from his doorway in Reno, NV up through Glacier National Park into British Columbia, Jasper, the Icefields Parkway, then Alaska’s Cassiar/Stewart Highways, all the way up to Skagway, Alaska, completing that segment of 2,847 miles ( in just 31 days).

Chilkoot Pass photo by Adam Bradley

Then he backpacked his gear up the historic Chilkoot Pass, where he reached Lake Bennet.

Lake Bennnet photo by Adam Bradley

Here, at the headwaters of the Yukon River, he assembled a packable canoe,  and successfully navigated all 1,858 miles of  the Yukon River, where he reached the end point at the Bering Sea.

He used a small wood stove for cooking, kept his supply packages to two only, and also managed to send himself a shotgun, which him behind a couple of days due to a regulatory hassle.

Here’s the link for the podcast .

Here’s the link to his entire trip.

Enjoy.  What really impresses me is that he did this solo.  Krud not only put it out there, he delivered.   If Andrew Skurka gets on the March 2011 cover of National Geographic for 4,679 human powered miles through Alaska and the  Yukon territory, don’t you think Adam Bradley deserves increased national exposure?

Outside Magazine, HELLO ?

“Fatbiking the Arctic” Kickstarter Project in Grave (Peril) ?

Feb. 2012 Kickstarter promotion

My funding of this Kickstarter adventure appears to be generating serious regrets.  Here’s that Kickstarter pitch, the most impressive one I’ve yet seen. Watch the 6 minute video- It has a convincing feel to it.

Outside Magazine ran an initial article in February about Badenoch’s proposed expedition that no doubt fueled interest in this adventure.

In February 2012 I funded the Kickstarter project and today just got my first and only response to my Tweets to Andrew Badenoch asking him about what the heck is going on. This is what I just received from him (Oct. 5, 2012): “i’ll explain the details later, but i still don’t have full comm capabilities. the sat phone broke, so it’s worse in some ways.”

I tweeting back with a recommendation to think about purchasing a Spot locator device and service.  In fact, the use of the Spot enabled me to follow a similar expedition this spring on a DAILY basis.  Check out Adam Bradly’s completed expedition, where he rode his bicycle from Reno to Skagway Alaska,  backpacked up the Chilkoot Trail to the headwaters of the Yukon River, and then paddled a canoe to its end in the Bering Sea. We don’t have Badenoch’s story but Bradley’s BLC to Bering Sea is compelling, and another one-man production of staggering logistics that he pulled off superbly.

Just before he left, Badenoch posted that Public Broadcasting Service would be involved in running either updates or clips of the completed trip. I subscribed to his YouTube page, as he instructed, to get more info about that aspect of the production, but his channel still contains nothing more than his initial Kickstarter  funding pitch.

Just yesterday ( Oct. 4, 2011) Outside Magazine ran what was, in effect, an obituary for the project, which appears to have halted in the town of Pink Mountain, somewhere near the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway. Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt. Outside confirms that Badenoch had spent several weeks at a motel there, departing south in mid-August. I have funded what were several successful Kickstarter projects, all of them posting occasional updates to the backers.  The updates are part of the tools supplied to all Kickstarter projects to make them the excellent packages that they are. To date, there have been NO UPDATES ( yes, I know I’m shouting here) from this Project.

Damn, I was hoping Badenboch would  come up with something for us.

I own a Puglsey fatbike, and take extended adventures of my own. I sure didn’t think it would come to this. I’ll post further details as they emerge.

Sad, don’t  you think ?

Interview with Tour Divide Rider Andy Hazen

The Tour Divide is known as “The World’s Toughest Mountain Bike Race”. It is a self-supported, weather extreme, food management, multiple 100+ mile-a-day run through 2,700 miles of unfamiliar territory stretching across and along the Rockies from Canada to the US border in New Mexico.
My friend and neighbor Andy Hazen rode some 535 miles of the race, which started June 7 this year in Banff, Canada. Andy was over the worst of the snow and mud, and had just put together two back-to-back 110 mile days when he had a crash at 25 miles per hour coming into Lincoln, Montana. His accident required medical attention, and affected his shoulder, elbow, and ribs to the point where he had to abandon the ride. Andy was not able to lift his arm to reach the handlebar.
I caught up with Andy at his farm when after he drove himself back, and had a few questions I thought his legion of followers would like answered.
I found him hunched over his computer tracking info about this years Tour Divide.

Andy at work

Q: Tell me about your previous racing experience. This isn’t the first time you have put in hundreds of miles a week in training.
A: I was attending college in Boulder, when I graduated in 1971. I started racing in 1973. I got into bicycling through commuting up 14 miles one way Boulder Canyon. This was road riding, before mountain biking became mainstream. I worked my way up to State Championship races that were 125 miles long. At that time I was training 300-400 miles a week. Then Emily and Ben were born, and the demands of staying home to help out put racing on the back burner.

Q: How competitive were you back then?
A: I was coming in at the middle of the peleton. I remember a couple of bikes I had: I had a Raleigh Pro, with Campagnolo stuff, and a Schwinn Paramount, with Campy components- Shimano had not started then. After I dropped the long biking, I took up running, putting in 12-15 miles a day. I had a weak gait for running, and needed orthotics. If you don’t have a good gait, you develop problems- shin splints, sciatica Then here in Maine, I bought a Nishiki rigid mountain bike in the mid-80’s. I totally rebuilt that with Deore XT group and rode that around here for years.

Q: Post race analysis of your ride?
A: My biggest mistake was not pushing more the first couple of days. I should have been in Elkford at the end of the second day. It’s a decent town of about 1,000 people. My mistake was camping up on Elkford pass when it snowed three or four inches during the night. I did 85 miles that first day, and stopped at 7:30 PM. If I rode until 10 PM, I would have been under cover in Elkford. My gear got extremely wet, it also started to rain. I was up there with three other guys.

Q: What about food? I understand you guys burn up 5,000-6,000 calories a day out there.
A: They say you go through 400 or more calories an hour. You can spend a lot of time and carry bulk to find, buy, prepare and consume 1000 calories in veggies or get your calories in 2 minutes if you eat two big Snickers bars. I wanted crackers, but didn’t want a whole box, I had no room for that. Hostess fruit pies had 410 to 450 calories in them. Beef sticks were good. I ate sardines in oil. I was buying two packages of Canada bacon. I would have one for supper and the other one for breakfast.

Q: What was the most surprising thing about the course?
A: It was tougher than I expected. Not so much the steepness, I trained for that. It was so varied. I had to go over rock and snow avalanches, and there were lots of blow downs [Ed. = trees] that had not been cleaned up yet. Some times there were two or three blow downs at a time, and it was difficulty to get the bike over them. There was also plenty of mud. The canadian section was the worst. The weather up there was not good at all; snow , rain, cold, and wet. Everyone had to find shelter to get dry. I would sometimes get to a laundromat, and dry things out. In a motel room, you spread out your things to dry, If I stayed in a room, a shower would warm me up.

Q: Any additional strategy that have you acquired after riding those first 535 miles?
A: The major thing I learned was that timing was critical. You have to be thinking about where and when you are going to get food, where to sleep, and yet there were three times when the snow depth in the passes slowed us down. We were riding on old jeep trails. I remember crossing a 60 degree steep than ran out for a couple of miles covered with snow where it was work to push the bike. There were six passes that had snow depths of 5 to 10 feet deep.

Q: Other things for people to know?
A: The maps for the trip are from Adventure Cycling http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/greatdivide.cfm . When you want to camp, you find a mossy spot right on the side of the trail. I chose not to cook on this trip, but hung my food at night. There are grizzlies in parts of Montana that are not going to let a tent stop them. I slept with my bear spray right at hand. Any of the Montana natives that I saw out in the woods had two cans of bear spray on them. Some people had sleigh bells on their bikes. I used a whistle. The bikes are quiet, and I yelled, “Bear!” coming up on any turn.

Q: Any change in training in the coming year?
A: I am doing it again. I won’t ride with the same intensity I did for the past year. I like to ride, and will ride recreationally during this summer, also some longer rides. In February, March, and April I will plow on the miles. I plan to put in 6,000 miles this year rather than the 8,000 that I did getting ready for this Tour Divide.

Andy and Lincoln Jamrog outside of Livingston, MT

Here is a photo taken this week north of Livingston, MT viewed from the radio tower in town. It is the Willow Creek area- the wind shifted and the fire didn’t reach the town. It is the same area where the previous photo was taken.