Another birthday- another hike planned. Join me?

Another Nor’easter predicted for tomorrow, I’m not sure who may join me on my birthday hike and sleepover the next day–> Thursday, March 27.

No work on my birthday, the seventh anniversary of the first day of my 2007 thru- hike of the Appalachian Trail (2007).   Marcia usually makes be a great breakfast. This was the spread last year!Double espresso, eggs, croissant, presents!

I don’t work on my birthday. At least one day of my life should be scheduled to be free of responsibilities to the economic machine!

I have rented the Ski Shelter in the Camden Hills State park for Thursday night.  There’s six bunks in there.  Friends are welcome to stop by and even snag some bedroll space if they want, free. 

I walk from my house across town, my own march to the sea.  It’s a 7 or 8 mile hike, depending on the route.

La, La, la!

There will be plenty of snow when I start out on the abandoned Proctor Road.  I wind my way down through Lincolnville Center, mostly a downhill. Then the climb starts up the Thurlow Road, and onto the abandoned section that crosses Youngtown Road, where it dumps me onto a snowmobile trail that heads up the back side of Cameron Mtn. I may turn left at the base of Cameron Mountain and  link to the Multipurpose trail.

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Two of my friends, Karl Gottshalk and Pat Hurley, came by last year after 4 PM to spend the night in the shelter with me. Pat and I grilled up steaks out in one of the grill stations, and then we ate cake, provided by Karl !

La, La, la!

La, La, la!

 

Carey Kish: It’s time to step up to the 1,000-mile challenge | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

As part of a regimen for the 1,000-mile goal, include hiking time in Acadia National Park. With views like this, you’ll be invigorated in both body and mind. Carey Kish Photo

As part of a regimen for the 1,000-mile goal, include hiking time in Acadia National Park. With views like this, you’ll be invigorated in both body and mind.
Carey Kish Photo

Carey Kish’s idea is superb. I like the idea of setting a long term goal that requires bit of a stretch. Totally in the right direction, which is getting outside. It’s also Maine-based.

Hey, Carey, I’m on this bus! Maybe we can hike together sometime in this 2014 campaign. I vowed to stay close to home this year, and your plan is making me look forward to the next few months.
I’d like a third hike of the Hundred. Carey’s thru-hike of Baxter state park inspired me to do the same this coming August. And yes to Grafton Loop. Definitely will do a thru hike of the George’s Highland Path and all of Camden Hills State Park

Readers click here—>>Carey Kish: It’s time to step up to the 1,000-mile challenge | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

After the trail: The return of the existential despair

Occasionally I repost material written by others that I feel a connection with. Carrot Quinn has given us one of the best post-thru hike accounts of how it feels to stop walking after exercising 12 hours a day, for day after day, and months at a time.

photo by Carrot Quinn

photo by Carrot Quinn

It’s a bit long, but has good photos and deserves to be listened to.–> After the trail: The return of the existential despair.

I experienced some of this post hike depression in 2007 after I completed the AT. I was better after the 2010 PCT hike, and am almost back on track after completing the CDT this past September. I do have a great place to live, and a family and friends that love me.

It still feels feels selfish when I whine after being on “vacation” for 5-6 months a year, but thru hiking was definitely not a vacation. My MeGaTex buddies and I used to joke about how nice it would be to just be able to “camp” and walk a bit each day, but we were generally asleep after boiling up a pot of food, and staring at the campfire until the tiredness took us away into the darkness.

Day 5 Moose River Winter Walk

Map of the area.

Map of the area.

Finishing any multiple day walk ramps my excitement up a notch.  On last days, I have always acted like a horse getting closer to the barn, often speeding up and taking on longer mileage days as the idea of coming home catches fire inside of me.  I like being in the outdoors, and this trip has only confirmed my desire to get back somewhere in Maine for another longer winter walk in 2015.
Several things stand out about these past few days:
First, we had no set itinerary to stick to- something that is difficult for me.  I’m goal oriented, however a fresh goal is embracing improvisation. If you want to explore how improvisation can improve your outlook on the inevitable changes in life- here it is-Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson.  Thanks to Brad Purdy for bringing me this information!
There was serious democracy in action out here. By the third day, no one had to talk about what to do – cutting firewood, splitting it, fetching water, cooking, washing up.  It just got done.  Fine men around me, all. The best example of this was our “rest day”  where each person was free to walk all day on a day hike, or to lay around inside the sleeping bags and read and sleep.
I learned that cold hands are inevitable when it gets below zero and there is close handwork to do, like packing toboggans, and cinching ropes.
Despite being one of the top snowmobiling capitals of Maine, Jackman is still far away from civilization.  We were surprised to see just a half dozen sleds on the Pond.  Consider midweek vacations if you want to avoid crowds.
 Old stuff works.  Old snowshoes, traditional cotton tents, mukluks, axes, saws.

Just yesterday I read a interesting story that came to me from my stove/fire guru and proprietor of Four Dog Stove,  Don Kivelus.  Fresh from Minnesota Public Radio, it’s about one man’s shift from cold to warm winter camping–>click on the hotlink below for a superb article about another guy doing just what we what we did.

Why would you camp in the winter?”

Here’s one reason why ( from the MPR article)!

photo by Chris Gibbs/For MPR News

photo by Chris Gibbs/For MPR News

Day 2 Moose River Winter Walk

The sun is finally making it’s showing above the expanse of spruce and fir trees here along the shore of the Moose River.

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My thumb is already starting to crack in the cold. We spent over 12 hours in the sleeping bags. This morning, no one was up until it was light. I got the stove going and then crept back into my sleeping bag to warm up while I waited for the stove to start radiating heat into our living space. It was very cold. I have no interest in winter camping out of a backpack any more.

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Heated tenting is where it is at for me. Pat works outdoors in all seasons and he said it was around 10 below zero. Snow had collected on the 13′ x 13′ plastic tarp in the night and we had to knock it off. The tent’s interior surfaces were covered in a thin layer of ice that built up from the cooking and the moisture that four men create by living in a small heated space.

I suffered through an hour of discomfort while eating supper last night. Stay away from Dave’s Ultimate Insanity Hot Sauce. I shook 4 dabs into last night’s stew and two spoonfuls put my mouth into such a fire that I was unable to eat any more. I should have read the label, which recommended 1 drop at a time. I put hot sauce on just about everything, but this stuff is truly in another universe. I should have read the label, which warned the user to use , at most, one drop at a time, and even suggested diluting the stuff in oil.

We came up with a creative solution to today’s activity. Instead of moving the tent again, we completed a 6 mile round trip walk up the river, taking minimal gear- just 1 toboggan, two saws, and the axe. Our quest was to pack down the fresh 6″ of snow on snowshoes and scout out a potential tent site to use as we move up river tomorrow.

The day was sunny, with a bit of a breeze, however it stayed freakin’ cold. I was terribly frigid at our first snack stop after 2 miles of trudging through the loose powder. I tore open two chemical heat packets and shoved them into my chopper mitts. I put a scarf over my lower face. I pulled up my jacket hood, drank a pint of hot coffee, ate a big Chunky, and trusted that things would turn around while I continued to walk.

We never did find an ideal tent site within those three miles. At the turn around point, Matt suggested that we explore a tributary that came into the river through a marsh. While walking in the frozen swamp, Pat broke through the ice and luckily dove onto shore before he got his feet wet. We all walked over to a single, tall, dead spruce to observe the osprey nest at the very top.

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Matt told us that the boggy expanse of swamp would be an ideal place to spot a Snowy Owl, which are overwintering here from their northern reaches in the arctic. No luck with that.
We made great time walking the three miles back to the tent, where the four of us, unspoken, set to work getting a bucket of fresh water, replacing melted snow under the stove, cut and split firewood, and readjusted the tent. No more snow allowed for repositioning some of our outside gear as we settled into Bad Influence’s evening meal of Ranch dip and veggie chips, beef stew, and yummy dessert bars.
We were all in bed by 6:45 PM. I hope I sleep soundly, and pray for no legs cramps tonight. The silence of nature is genuine here, a rare occasion in America in 2014.

Day 1 Moose River Winter Walk.

7 Miles of hard pulling today. It was snowing when we got up and snowing when we went to bed at 6:30 PM. Three friends accompanied me today: Pat, Bad Influence (BI) , and a new friend of BI’s- Matt, an interesting guy who has just moved to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom from Taos, NM. We stayed at #9 Cozy Cove Cabin in Jackman last night, where Pat cooked up a breakfast of bacon, eggs, English muffins and brewed several cups of great, rich coffee.
The snow made the walking more difficult. Although it was cold out, fresh snow crystals stay sharp, and they have a way of causing friction. After the snow melts a bit in the sun, the edges get duller, and the bottom of the toboggans slide better over the packed snow.

We are really tired tonight, after just 4 miles of pulling: one mile on a snowmobile trail to Attean Pond, two miles on top of the frozen Pond, and then one into and along the Moose River. We are all in bed by 6:30 PM. The Egyptian canvas 9 x 12 wall tent fits the four of us side by side toward the back of the tent. The front serves as our kitchen, complete with a small titanium box stove with stove pipe that heats the tent up quite nicely. Despite temps in the teens tonight , it got so warm that I had to strip down to my undershirt. We have a taught line rigged up below the ridge inside where our wet and damp clothing can dry out. We let the stove die out when we decide to sleep, and each are prepared to stay warm to 20 below zero, up here over 1,000′ in elevation about 10 miles from Canada.
I made up a 5 bean and pork/ beef stew. My appetizer was warm roasted mixed nuts. Dessert was walnut brownies. BI and I carefully approached an open lead in the river where we were able to draw off water for our drinks.
We spent a lot more time than usual setting up our tent tonight. There is less than a foot of snow in the ground. It was hard to plant side pole on the frozen ground. There were not many branches around the site that we could attach ropes to hold out the side walls.
I really like having four people on this trip. It was fun listening to conversations, and very satisfying to me having a pair of us setting up the tent while Pat and Matt sawed down standing dead spruce. They sawed it up into stove lengths and then split it with an axe.

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Pat tending the camp stove

How To Live In A Heated Tent

Three buddies are heading up with me to the Jackman, Maine wilds next week for a five day winter camping trip.

Photo by Paul KIrtley

Read another superb blog post from UK’s Paul Kirtley, blogger, wilderness bushcraft instructor, and general expert in outdoor skills.

Paul’s blog entry has loads of info about how we will survive, in style.

Click it!  – How To Live In A Heated Tent.

My Favorite Books Read in 2013

Lists, lists, lists…

This time of year, it’s easy to scan countless columns of the best movies, best books.

I haven’t seen “Best Meals I’ve Cooked in 2013″, but there is a list for that, for sure.

I am tired of going to such lists online and then experiencing ads popping up in the middle.  Outside mag. is the worst offender, their content is generally great but they are killing me with their creeping advertising campaign.

Here are my one dozen best reads from 2013.    No ads.

Can't resist- Here's #1

Can’t resist- Here’s #1

Disclaimer:  I’m shooting you over to my Goodreads bookshelves via my blog.  You can see what I like, and then you can click on each book and get more details. I have reviewed most of them.  You can also friend me on Goodreads and then I can also see what you like to read and get more recommendations for like-minded folks.  Thanks to my hiker buddy Birdlegs for turning me on to Goodreads!

From Goodreads –> Tom Jamrog’s Favorite Books Read in 2013 .

Tim Smith at Snow Walker’s Rendezvous

The 2013 edition of the Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous in Fairlee, VT was a superb.  Many tents were set up with wood smoke puffing out of 4″  stovepipes. Over 100 people attended the sold out weekend.

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We opted for a heated bunk room, took in the displays at the vendor tables, and scored up front row seats in the big room for Friday night’s  program.

Willem Lange kicked off the program with a reading of a couple of his highly entertaining Vermont- based stories. Will’s vitae includes 8 books, numerous careers, and founding the Geriatric Adventure Society.

For me, the highlight of the evening was Tim Smith‘s talk-  “Nature as Wallpaper” .  Tim is a nationally known bushcraft and survival skills instructor, with his Jack Mountain Bushcraft School running courses out of Marsadis, Maine.  He posted an entry about his talk on his blog.

Tim  told attendees that his talk would be on the web, soon.   Here is the podcast of that presentation-  it’s short, but drives right to the point.  Tim is an authentic voice connecting people to the natural world.  I hope to take a course with him.

iTunes Link | Play, Download Or Subscribe In iTunes
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 13:45 — 15.7MB)