I’ve received numerous comments from my post about the arrest of Christopher Knight, now dubbed “The North Pond Hermit”. Here’s an update on his continued resistance to connecting to a society he walked away from decades ago.The link brings you to additional new stories about this most unusual situation.
In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.
Super pleased with walking 11 miles today over snow and/or ice. It’s now been 4 weeks since my hernia surgery and I still am under wraps, with two more weeks of restricted activity before I’m cleared to add significant weight to my backpack. I had 10 pounds in my pack today, and a couple of extra pounds under my belt, after the Polish food fest that the three Jamrogs and V8 put on last night. Here’s the main course, cooked on the wood stove, of course. Serious kielbasa, sauerkraut, and 4 types of pierogis in action:
Seven of us spent last night at the Ski Shelter, which is located between the words Brook and Valley at the bottom of the map photo.
My brother Roy, and my traveling partners Tenzing and Pat left the shelter at 9 AM and did the toughest stuff first.
Here’s where we went.
- Ski Lodge Trail to Zeke’s
- Zeke’s to Cameron Mountain Trail
- Cameron Mountain Trail to Sky Blue ( my favorite)
- Sky Blue trail to Ski Lodge Trail
- Ski Lodge Trail to top of Bald Rock Mt.
- “Unmarked Path down to Frohock Mt. Trail
- Frohock Mt. Trail to summit of Frohock
- Backtrack up to top of Bald Rock
- Bald Rock down to Ski Lodge Trail–>Return to Ski Shelter
There were numerous sections of trail that were solid ice, and there’s just no use taking chances on a fall. Hiking poles helped. It was cold all day, never breaking freezing, and in the afternoon, a northerly breeze felt like someone left the refrigerator door ajar. I feel fortunate to be living in an area where I get to walk over refrozen snow, and also to do a bit of afternoon postholing. Why?
There is a piece of the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado that has a couple hundred miles of walking up over 12,000 feet, and I expect to be on snow for all of that section. This Maine trail is nearly constantly treacherous, with refrozen pits and holes from previous travelers scattered all over the path. It’s a great workout for strengthening the ankles, if you don’t sprain or break one yourself. Here’s a picture of Roy on the Sky Blue Trail, where we encountered an ancient fieldstone wall, one probably set up from 1830-1850, when the trees had been harvested
and the land was likely populated by sheep.
Everyone member of this group pitched in to make the whole weekend a non-stop party. The hiker kind of deal.
I don’t mind taking a few more people if folks still want to come down and build your stove. It’s going to be fun. I have extra materials I can use, I’ll contact Adult Ed on Monday to let them know. Worst case–> just contact me and then show up. I don’t want big surprises.
Here is a picture of what the stove will look like:
Further details about the stove itself are in this updated blog post from 2012.
The evening will include an introductory talk about some of the science and history of these stoves, which address the question of getting the most efficiency out of the unit. This is a true multi-fuel stove, suitable for also burning denatured alcohol and solid fuel tablets when wood is not available or is wet. Because of the hands- on nature of the class it will be limited to 8 people. Sign up!
No snow when we arrived here, but what a conflagration of ice on the Ducktrap River this weekend in Lincolnville.
My men’s group took a 3.5 mile walk along Tanglewood’s Ducktrap River today where we saw ice like you wouldn’t believe.
Not very far below the newly replaced snowmobile bridge, there are ice floes stacked upon ice, with one ice sinkhole that is actually draining the river.
We walked down the river as far as Turner Falls, a couple of ledge drops. Here’s a picture standing above the Falls, spilling a force of water downward toward the sea:
On the way back, we talked about volunteering to rebuild a former dilapidated lean-to near the River Trail.
Then we found a single Red Pine. Closely viewing, and talking about trees took up much of Hank’s and my conversation. We were noting wilderness landscaping details that we have been studying in Reading the Forested Landscape. Here’s an excellent example of three trees growing on a hummock, perched above the high water table:
After supper, Dave, Pat, and I walked back to the river to sway on the bridge, and stare at the visually alluring ice patterns swirling below distorted headlamp lights.
Very enjoyable day, with great food and real stories from men that have seriously entertaining tales to tell.
Great first night out at Tanglewood 4H camp. No hauling toboggans this year. The snow has melted away and the 1 mile access road is covered with ice.
Sometimes we are not able to shift our approaches to problems. We had a great example of this tonight when Dave was determined to alter the position of the new metal guard that they have installed here on the top bunks. The guards keep the kids from rolling off the top bunks onto the wooden floor. The camp services kids , who generally have slim butts that can slide in and out of the narrow slot adjacent to the metal guard in these top bunks. Dave is bigger than me, and I’m a widebody. His ass was too big to climb in and out of the top bunk easily. We have no tools with us to loosen the bolt heads that would allow widening that opening. I saw Dave and Hank beating on the frame with sticks of firewood in their futile attempts to force the rail open. It didn’t budge. Then they started talking about walking a two mile round trip to get a wrench out of Pat’s truck in the parking lot. It all seemed too much when I suggested that since the wall side of the bunk had no gate, that we turn the bed around and the problem would be solved. It was pretty funny, and they were embarrassed to be woodworkers and visual problem solvers with a collective 100+ years of experience that just couldn’t see the most simple solution.
Why do we get stuck , and keep reaching for a bigger stick to beat things into submission ?
Big doings at the winter outdoor skills corral today.
There were some impressive whole group presentations today.
In the morning, Ed Belchner shared slides and stories from the early 1970′s in his program “40 Years into Nahmakanta by Snowshoe, Ski, and Dogsled”. Ed attempted a southbound AT hike in winter and struggled through the snow and ice until he decided to get off the trail at Nahmakanta Lake, where he straggled into an ancient camp and initiated a lifelong relationship with the camp and its owner. Very cool to see what the in and outside of the now extinct Nahmakanta Lake Camps and to view Antler’s Camps as well. Both are now just legends of the AT.
We also heard from Maddy McNair, who is recognized as the top woman polar guide in the world.
Maddy McNair is the real deal. From her website: “Matty has journeyed to both Poles setting several very impressive world records. She led the first women’s expedition to the North Pole in 1997. She also guided the Ultimate North Expedition; a dog sledding journey from Cape Columbia to the North Pole, arriving at the North Pole in just under Robert Peary’s 1909 record time of 37 days, thus proving that his disputed dash was in fact possible. Maddy has the distinction of being the first American to ski to both the North and South Poles. In 2004/2005 she completed an unsupported ski expedition to the South Pole, accompanied by her children Sarah and Eric, who became the youngest persons to ski to the South Pole. Adventure appears to run in the family. She presented photographs and tales from some of her expeditions.
In the afternoon I attended two small group workshops.
You can never be too careful with an axe and one person who knows about axes and their use is Maine’s Tim Smith. Tim runs Jack Mountain Bushcraft. In addition to more than a decade of 1-7 day bushcraft, survival, guide training and outdoor living courses, Tim has now taught 21 semester-length, college level, field-based bushcraft courses. Tim walked us into the woods, where he demonstrated proper felling, limbing, and sectioning techniques.
I learned a lot from Tim, and hope to take a course from him someday.
The second skills session that I attended was by Kevin Slater and Keiran Moore, entitled “Tips and Tricks of Winter Travel”.
Kevin runs Mahoosuc Guide Services. An active guide for 25 years, Kevin has traveled extensively in the north by canoe and dog team. He has done expeditions in Maine, Quebec, Labrador as well as a pioneer descent of the Grand Canyon.
Kieran Moore lived with the Dogrib Cree in the Northwest Territories between Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes from the early 1970′s until 2002 . Moore experienced communal subsistence hunts into the barren lands both by canoe and dog team, observing a vanishing way of life of a people at the farthest reaches of the tree-line and beyond. Moore is a fabled storyteller, and we have been held spellbound by some of his recollections of life with the Cree when he presented at a previous Snow Walkers Rendezvous.
Both men traded skills demonstrations:
Slater reasoned out out the contents of his day pack for an instructional session, as well throwing together a scaled model of a winter survival shelter, and a talk about how to build an emergency snow pit.
Moore demonstrated two Cree subsistence techniques: how to use three crafted sticks to set up a ice fishing gill net, and the use of cordage and an appropriately sized piece of fabric to pack up and transport a sectioned caribou.
The highlight of the large group session Saturday night was Ed Webster, an expert on the history of Mt. Everest.
“Ed wrote one of the best books ever written about Everest, Snow in the Kingdom , an account of the first ascent of Mount Everest’s Kangshung Face.
In 1988, American alpinist Ed Webster teamed up with Robert Anderson, Paul Teare, and Stephen Venables to climb a new route up Mount Everest’s massive 12,000-foot-high Kangshung or East Face. The four, in contrast to most expeditions, attempted it in the best possible style—on a new route; without supplemental bottled oxygen; without radios and satellite telephones; and without Sherpa assistance.
Below the South Summit, Ed saw prayer flags strung between rocks and purple-robed Buddhist monks chanting a blessing ceremony. Not thinking he was hallucinating, he simply watched them before passing out. When he awoke he realized the perilous place he was in and that if he continued on to the summit of Mount Everest that he would never return alive. “From out of my mental haze came the inescapable conviction that if I continued I would probably be killed.” At 28,700 feet and 3:30 in the afternoon, Webster turned around and started down. Life was more important than summit. Stephen Venables continued solo to the summit, becoming the sole expedition member to reach the top and the first British climber to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.”
We only were treated to 10 minutes of slides and a phenomenal demonstration of what it was actually like to actually walk and breathe in the Death Zone. It’s one thing to experience, another to read about it, and to hear and watch Ed gulp air for 10 loud breaths and then walk two steps and do it again I’ll never forget.
Ed presented a gripping 30 minute history of North and South Pole discovery, using original photographs from the Nansen, Peary, and Cook expeditions, and he made sure we knew that Matthew Henson belonged in that pantheon as well.
I agreed with several of other people who attended that the quality of the presentations at this year’s Snow Walker’s Rendezvous was the best yet.
So it sold out again at 100 people and will be held next year in Vermont the weekend of November 8,9, and 10. For more information, past program lists, or to be included on the mailing list, please check out the website http://www.alohafoundation.org/hulbert-outdoor-center/community-programs/outdoor-conferences/snow-walker-s-rendezvous/. Sign up early if you are fortunate enough to get the chance. I’ll be there!
There are over twenty winter, heated tents housing the hardiest participants this weekend in Fairlee, Vermont. The event sold out again, with 100 of us in attendance.
While it sound bracing, the keen eye will note woodsmoke emitting from some stove pipes. These folks aren’t suffering, but are languishing in shirtsleeves within their
The program began with several large group presentations.
Elizabeth Bradfield kicked off the weekend with a gripping poetry reading. She read from Approaching Ice and held the attention of the large group with her polar imagery and genuine voice.
The highlight of the evening for me was viewing 30 minutes of “The Romance of the Far Fur Country”, an almost forgotten silent movie produced in 1920 by the Hudson Bay Company in celebration of their 250th anniversary in North America.
From the website:
“lIn spring of 1919, two cameramen from New York City set out to film Canada’s northern wilderness. They first boarded Canada’s most famous icebreaker, the HMSNascopie, and headed from Montreal toward the Arctic Circle. For the next nine months, the film crew lugged their crates of gear by foot, canoe, dogsled and icebreaker, trudging through the Arctic, the boreal forest and up some of the fiercest rivers in the world.
The filmmakers perched their cameras in places never before filmed. By the time they completed filming at the end of December, they’d gathered 75,000 feet of film, some eight hours of viewing time. The footage was rushed to New York where editing began. By mid-April, a first draft was complete, and clocked in at four hours. A month later it was cut in half.”
This restoration project is currently in progress with the cooperation of Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, the British Film Institute / National Film and Television Archives in London, England and additional funders such as the Manitoba Arts Council.
Marcia and I retreated to our bunks to settle in for a night of vivid dreams, with images of trails and winter.
Frigid cold greeted our exit out of the park today.
The loud drops of rain that I heard falling on the bunkhouse last night had turned the upper elevations white, with the snow line starting at 2,900 feet. I’m not sure there would be many hikers who would be heading unto the top today in these conditions.
We decided to head back on an alternate route, the Wassataquoik Stream Trail, where there are actually two fords. The color was still holding up, with much of it painting the ground below our boots.
The first stream crossing is obvious and less treacherous than the crossing on the Russell Pond Trail up stream. It has slower moving water, and the bottom is smoother. I went across first and went up to my crotch. The others aimed for a grassy hummock a bit downstream and didn’t get as wet.
Damn! Off with the boots, on with the Crocs, off with the Crocks, on with the boots again!
This route used to be called the Tracy Horse Trail and is usually a faster route than the Russel Pond trail as it is almost entirely an old logging road that used to transport sports from Roaring Brook to the old Russell Pond fishing cabins.
The sun was bright and low as we moved along to the sound of water until we rejoined the Russell Pond Trail for the final section out. At this point Pat and I diverted to the Sandy Stream Pond Trail where we were successful in spotting a moose of the far shore.
We reached the cars at Russell Pond in the early afternoon when we dove to Millinocket where we all had an excellent home- cooked meal at the Appalachian Station Cafe.
Katahdin never fails to deliver.
Next- checking out the hiking and night time accommodations at and around the Park’s newest acquisition- Katahdin Lake.
We’ve got the bunkhouse for one more night. Today Marcia and I hiked 6.4 miles round trip out the Wassataquoik Lake Trail, linking the Russell Pond area to the western parts of Baxter Park.
My 1985 Katahdin guidebook describes Wassataquoik Lake as “perhaps the most outstanding body of water in or around the Park”. Although small ( 1 1/2 x 3/4 mi.) it’s crystal clear water, gravel beaches, and surrounding tall peaks have no peer in the park. “
On the western side of the Lake, we reached our destination of Green Falls, a superb cascading falls coming out of a deep cleft above.
We ate our lunch and then headed back. I remember being here before, when the trail followed the western shoreline all the to the Falls. The reroute of the trail obscures the constant scenery show that used to accompany the shore scramble. Now, there are only occasional partially obscured glimpses of South Pogy Mountain behind the Lake. If you do this trip, stick to the shore for the views. You will find Green Falls marked by an entrance tagged with a blue blaze.
We took our Crocs with us on this hike, where drinking water was no problem, and the Crocs were not needed. The were several water crossings including one beaver dam.
The 6.4 mile hike ended up growing to 8.6 miles after we headed the wrong way out of the campground and later added extra tenths of a mile accessing the spring behind the Ranger Station. Who cares? We successfully dodged the rain today. It was supposed to rain tonight, with a 70% chance and a temp drop into the 30′s.
Could make for an interesting exit tomorrow.