TD’12 Race- Where’s Andy Hazen?

I DK, no one does.

It appears that Andy’s Spot device has not transmitted properly since 6/9/ AM ( yesterday), so we don’t know where he is right now.  You can’t call him, and he can’t call us right now, but we know that at last report, he was in the middle of the pack.

Updates and discussions about the race are on on the Bikepacking.com list serve that one can follow. TD’12 Race Discussion. <<–Click this link to get there, and view three pics from what looks like Elk Pass.  Andy had told me that he pushed his bike 4 miles through the snow on his ride up to Banff, so he is familiar with the whole route up through the US Border.

One pic reflects the fresh snow that fell there yesterday.

Morning on this year’s Tour Divide

Go Andy!

Ride the Divide DVD- now via Netflix

On June 8th, this astounding yearly  race begins again.  I just found out that the DVD is now available from Netflix, either as a physical in-the mail- DVD, or as an Instant download format.

DVD cover

Appleton Ridge’s  Stephen Gleasner completed the race in 2008.  This year, my next door neighbor, Andy Hazen, is planning to be the second rider from Maine to finish as well.  Starting in Banff, Canada, and ending at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Great Divide mountain bike race extends 2,700 miles along the Continental Divide. This scenic documentary follows three determined cyclists, from the 2008 race,  attempting the grueling ride.

Gleasner appears in the pack at the start.  He has also written a story about his experience in the excellent short story “Chasing Mary” in Cordillera- Literature from the World’s Toughest Bike Race.

via Netflix: Ride the Divide.

FSTPKR: Human power from Reno to the Bering Sea

FSTPKR: BLC to the Bering Sea.—-< Click. Now!
You absolutely have to check out what Krudmeister is up to this season. It is practically inconceivable to me that someone has both the interest and the skills to undertake a solo excursion that combines bicycling to Alaska from Reno, then backpacking the Chilkoot Trail out of Skagway, then assembling a kayak and following traversing the length of the Yukon River, all the way to the Bering Sea! What is even more inconceivable is that in this day and age, there will probably be no one who will read about Krud’s adventure in the sport section of a newspaper, where we are exposed to the daily whining of multimillion dollar base and basketball stars.
Krud is one of my virtual friends. He figured into a couple of my gear acquisitions.  I came to know  him when he and Scott Williamson broke the Pacific Crest Trail Speed record, I think in 2006.  I went to my local Patagonia outlet and showed them his blog. He was and maybe still is a Patagonia customer service employee.  He was trumping up their Houdini jacket, and one of the employees gave me one, that I used on my PCT and Long Trail thru hikes. It is still as good as new.

Then he posted a picture of some wildly garish New Balance shoes that I tracked down through my brother Roy, who works for the company. They are a product that is sold in Japan.
I though of Krudmeister yesterday when I was aglow with the shoes on my birthday.
Krud, want a pair to wear when you get back?

Not Turning Back Can Kill You

Reposting  a most excellent entry from our brethren in the kayaking school of adventure. The content is Labrador-related and references “the book” that got me and Alan MacKinnon into Labrador way back when.

Here’s the teaser:  “Their story has lessons for all of us who venture into the unknown, whether it be taking a back road to cut across town, guessing left at a fork in a hiking trail, or guessing right at a confluence of two rivers.  Their refusal to turn back, despite mounting evidence that they had taken a “wrong turn” followed stages many of us are familiar with.”

News Flash: Map & Territory Not Same | Waterlines — A Maine Sea Kayaking Journal.

An Inuit Builder Crafts His Last Canoe : NPR

An Inuit Builder Crafts His Last Canoe  by Emma Jacobs

via An Inuit Builder Crafts His Last Canoe : NPR.

Joe was the native guide on a 200 mile canoe trip I took on the Grand River in Labrador several years ago. He was the kindest, most humble, and most knowledgeable outdoors man I have ever met.  Joe, and especially his brother Horace, are probably the last of the line to possess the encyclopedia of skills that encompass trapping, bush survival skills, hunting, and survival in the harshest environment I have ever traversed.  For a glimpse of this life, read Rugge and Davidson’ Great Heart, now back in print.  I consider Great Heart a treasure of a read, one that I have enjoyed several times.  The book inspired my own motorcycle trip to Labrador in 1993, when my friend Alan MacKinnon and I were the among the first motorcyclists to traverse the newly constructed gravel-and-sand Trans Labrador Highway. The mosquitoes there were so bad that nothing I have encountered since seems too bad, including a month in Alaska and 6 months on the PCT.

AT- Day 7

AT -Day 7
Tremendous thunder and lightening storm last night. To the degree that two storms blasted the ridge last night. One at 10:30 PM and another at 3 AM. There was only one other time In my life that I’ve heard such explosive thunder and non stop stroboscopic lightening.
In the midst if the wind and rain, a gigantic tree crashed to the ground right at the campsite I was initially worried that it crushed Johnny Walker, who was hammoc camping over there, but it missed him. I had never spent such a night in my new tent, The Moment. It fared well, kept me dry, although it never got terribly windy and tried to blow sideways under the vents.
“I was hiking with one of you guys,” said Johnny Walker, while we were hiking today. What he meant was a school psychologist, and who he meant was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a school psychologist from New Hampshire that I am friendly with. They both started hiking together from Springer this season, but Chronic had to return home for personal business, of some sort of emergency situation.
I knew today was my last day of backpacking hiking for a while. I let myself settle into an appreciation of the act of walking, the fact that I was dry and warm, and that I have a life where I can get outside, sleep on the ground, decide where to lay down and fall asleep for the night, and eat what I have carried on my back.

20110511-071259.jpg

AT- Day 7

AT -Day 7
Tremendous thunder and lightening storm last night. To the degree that two storms blasted the ridge last night. One at 10:30 PM and another at 3 AM. There was only one other time In my life that I’ve heard such explosive thunder and non stop stroboscopic lightening.
In the midst if the wind and rain, a gigantic tree crashed to the ground right at the campsite I was initially worried that it crushed Johnny Walker, who was hammoc camping over there, but it missed him. I had never spent such a night in my new tent, The Moment. It fared well, kept me dry, although it never got terribly windy and tried to blow sideways under the vents.
“I was hiking with one of you guys,” said Johnny Walker, while we were hiking today. What he meant was a school psychologist, and who he meant was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a school psychologist from New Hampshire that I am friendly with. They both started hiking together from Springer this season, but Chronic had to return home for personal business, of some sort of emergency situation.
I knew today was my last day of backpacking hiking for a while. I let myself settle into an appreciation of the act of walking, the fact that I was dry and warm, and that I have a life where I can get outside, sleep on the ground, decide where to lay down and fall asleep for the night, and eat what I have carried on my back.

20110511-071259.jpg

Back from 2,650 mile thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail

 

1,000 miles: ripped, cut , torn- next step= trash can

 

It’s been almost a week since I’ve arrived home.
My backpack is still partly full, sitting right beside me. My inability to completely empty it and put it away is diagnostic of my reluctant, part-way re-entry into what Birdlegs has so aptly dubbed the “shower world”.
I do not miss the end of the trail.  I’m clearly happy here. The last two and a half months of the PCT hike were tough, not only in daily mileage, which was dialed in each morning at 25, but also the very taxing progress through the Glacier Peak Wilderness, where a week of cold and rain pummeled MeGaTex into a wet pile of humanity wrapped up in wet taco sleeping bags. We each fought hypothermia several of those days, which would have been very serious if any one of us were alone. We needed each other survive. It was that simple.
I have yet to muster the courage to view my photos from the Great Snow Walk of the high Sierra.  I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I even think about revisiting that section.
I do best here if I stay home, out of town.  Town was also my downfall on the PCT where I lost my wallet, money, checkbook, passport, earphones, gloves, and even my shirt.
I have visited with every one of my neighbors, who each presented me with a coming home present.  The best one was from my neighbor Bill, who informed me that he was buying a 25+ acre parcel that abuts my land on two sides.  He plans to put it into conservation trust. Now, I will only see woods and fields, as long as I live here.

Let me give you a taste of how quickly one of my town excursions ended.
Last Sunday I drove my son down to the Portland, ME airport so that he could get back to his life in San Francisco. After I saw him, I went over to the Maine Mall where I planned to use my debit card to withdraw some money, get a dinner, and stop at the Apple Computer store to see what new stuff came out  while I was gone.  (Speaking of Apple, one of the few objects that did not tear, break, or fry on the hike was my iPod Touch.)  I was not able to get my pin number right, so eventually the ATM rendered my card void.  I had no phone, no money, and it was getting dark.  Somehow I also activated the anti-theft alarm on my 1999 Jetta diesel, which has never happened before. I was not only unable to start the car, but when I did try and turn the key in the ignition, the very loud loud alarm activated and the lights blinked on and off.  Luckily I went on the internet with my Touch and MiFi and was able to locate a key turn code that disabled the alarm.
Yesterday, more snafus. At the counter at the Hope General Store I knocked my large coffee over spilling the contents into an open drawer in back of the cash register.  Later at lunchtime, the person in line in back of me at the Brown Bag pointed out to me that I dropped a wad of cash on the floor.  I appear to be sorely lacking several skills that must be re-activated if I am to be a functioning member of society.
On the other hand, I love the unstructured time, which has been mostly devoted to fixing things that have broken while I was gone, like the garage door opener,  the DVD player, the trailer I use to haul things in, my bicycle, a broken window, and several pieces of gear.  There is a crate full of mail that has to be dealt with.  I dig vacuuming, and plan to wash some floors this afternoon.
I have received several calls from people who have wanted to talk with me about the PCT.  Auntie Mame and I had a great time visiting with my friend Andy and his wife last night. Andy lives here in town and just completed his own thru-hike of the Appalachian trail a few weeks ago.  He’s pumped!
I am trying to avoid paid work until Nov. 1.
Last night I even got to watch my favorite movie, Hoosiers, wrapped up in my sleeping bag on the couch, sitting right next to Auntie Mame.

Again,  a huge thank you to my sponsors.
First and foremost is Don Kivelus of Four Dog Stove , who supplied me with the multifuel Bushcooker LT 1 titanium backpacking stove, two cases of Coghlan (hexamine) tablets, and twelve cases of Mountainhouse freeze dried dinners.  Don believed in me, early on.  I consider him my outdoors guru, whose specialty is fire building and know how about efficiency in subsequent heat transfer.  His company has been a treasure trove of survival and back country tools and resources. I used his stove every day, sometimes multiple times a day.  I consider it the ultimate backpacking stove. There is nothing more I can come up with about the stove that would improve it.
On The Beach/ New Balance provided me with  Bushmaster boots for the whole hike.  I have REALLY bad feet and would not have been able to complete the trip without the benefit of composite mid-sole of this boot.  I also never had even one blister on the hike. It wasn’t easy to make deliveries to me where I most needed new boots, yet Dan came through for me when necessary.
Rock City Roasters supplied me with two huge bags of Dark Star drip grind coffee, for those many days where I was jonesing for caffeine.  I had enough to supply General Lee as well.  I will miss the owner, Pat, who died after I started hiking.
The Freeport, ME Patagonia store supplied me with a Houdini jacket. It was one piece of gear that never failed or ripped, a rare situation.

I would also like to thank my faithful and primary support team, the Speedy Sisters.  V8 not only transcribed and posted all my daily entries, and she encouraged me to label each and every photo posted on the Trailjournals site. People loved the photo section, I heard about it.   Auntie Mame primarily sent me love and her unwavering faith that I would finish.  She also provided me with 11 mail drops, each more thrilling than the last. It is very tough work being at home while a partner hikes.  I know, as the Sisters hiked almost half the AT in 2008, when I was Mr. Stay At Home.  Craig, thanks for making the pemmican that got me through northern Washington.  Chris, thanks for the earphones.  Mom, thanks for being my mother, being proud of me this time, and sending me all the home made bars, granola, and treats that sustained me.  Brad, your instant Curry In A Hurry mix and your Brad bars were so tasteful. They powered me up numerous uphills.  Roy, thanks for the New Balance socks and Powerbars.
Readers, thanks for writing in my Trailjournals Guest Book.  Your kind comments were what cushioned my steps when the ground was the most frozen and rocky. David H., thanks for your voluminous pipeline of inspirational quotes and encouragement, my Friend for Life.
I also want to thank Water, Heathen, Larry, Dusty Roads and the dozens of  trail angels who went out of their way ( often WAY out of their way) to bring me food or supplies.
If there is anyone else that feels they deserve thanks let me know so that I can suck up an apology and list you here too.
Lastly, I am forever  indebted to my fellow members of MeGaTex for all that they did for me, all the times they waited for me, all the food, pain, laughter, and adventures we created for ourselves.

 


Original MeGatex at Canada border

 

I would NOT have completed the PCT without their personal power and  energy. We were the strongest group of the Class of 2010,  all proud matriculates of The University of Adversity.

Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous 2009, Part 2 of 3

Morning
Saturday’s morning program  provided us with three group presentations about Labrador, which is considered by many as the land of the premiere wilderness camping experience in eastern North America.
I came in a bit late for Bill Fitzhugh’s “ The Archeology of Forgotten Labrador”.   Bill has been conducting 16th Century archeology  in Labrador and Baffin Island for over 40 years.  He has researched the site of Martin Frobisher in Frobisher Bay ( 1576-1578)  and is currently working in Mongolia on Bronze Age ceremonial sites, searching for ties to Eskimo origins.  He shared some computer projected images of the excavation of a site around Blanc Sablon near the eastern edge of Quebec along the mouth of the St.Lawrence River. His research is verifying cooperative living arrangements between the Inuit and the Basques as they attempted to overwinter as they were establishing whaling sites in the New World. We viewed stunning photos of soapstone lamps, whale and codfish bones that were found under an overhanging cliff at the deep water’s edge.

Bill’s wife Lynn Fitzhugh was up next.  She is the author of The Labradorians, and shared background information about a historical novel that she is researching and writing about an 18th century Inuit woman names Mikak, who was born and lived in a sod house near Nain in the 1740’s.  Mikak traveled to London, where she was a celebrity, and returned to help found the settlement at Northwest River, Labrador.  Another sad tale of abuse, alcohol, guns, and cultural dismemberment.

Scott McCormack wrapped up the morning’s presentations with a slide show/ talk about his 21 day winter snowshoeing/toboggan haul through the Menehek Hills in Labrador.  Scott is a teacher, outdoor education instructor and guide from Canada, whose work explores issues of self , northern landscapes, and “ participatory modes of experience” .  The stunning photos he displayed were taken by Colin O’Conner,  a professional photographer who was with him for the trek. The photos are copyrighted, so I have not reproduced them here.  I’d encourage the reader to click on the above link and view the 12 shots in that album.  I particularly like the last one, an arresting shot of a illuminated wall tent against a starry sky streaked with northern lights.

Afternoon
You self-select your two afternoon workshops.
I made the right choice attending Mark Kutolowski’s demonstration : Making Pemmican-The Ultimate trail Food.  Mark is a Vermont guide and traditional wilderness skills teacher who is currently teaching a course at Dartmouth College that he Developed on Bushcraft , Survival, Foraging, and Natural History.  He also leads retreats focusing on the intersection between contemporary spirituality and wilderness living www.newcreationwilderness.org .  The story of pemmican, which dates to pre-European contact, is tied to cold northern climates, where large game prevailed, snow fell, and the drying and preserving process was essential for survival.  Pemmican has historically involved drying strips of meat that has all the fat cut off, to which is added rendered animal fat, berries, and sometimes maple sugar and salt. Done properly it is edible for years , if not decades, even when held at room temperature. The ability of man to live on meat alone, for periods of years has been  documented in  Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s “Fat of the Land” .  The product was so important to early settlers that in 1832 the Hudson’s Bay Company purchased from the natives 28 tons of pemmican, in 150 pound bales.  We sampled some pemmican that Mark had previously prepared and were taken though tpreparing it, which is partly documented in this “how to make pemmican” video. 

The second workshop I attended was Garrett Conover’s “Winter Navigation and map Strategy”.

Garrett mapping out "sneak routes"

It was an advanced session on use of compass, maps, symbols, and river flowage patterns that ranged from visible elements of winter travel like light, falling snow, blowing snow, encountering drifts, whiteouts, the necessity for using hand signals, the perils of party separations, and backtracking strategies.  The bottom line is that it is very difficult to tell what is going on in a complicated lake system when you are down walking on the ground.  Garrett pulled out some maps of the north country and had real life examples and stories to go along with physical details on the maps themselves. It was a real treat to gain such focused information from someone who may be one of the top experts in extended periods of winter travel in the North Woods.

Evening
Two presentations made up the after dinner programs.
Katherine Suboch’s “Cold Camping On Baffin Island” kicked off the program.

Katherine Suboch

Katherine joined a friend to take advantage of a free flight from her home in Ontario up to northern Quebec, where another 700 mile flight and a long snowmobile ride deposited them and their Hilleberg tent in a landscape where there were no trees, shelters, running water, and mostly ice.  One of the frozen rivers they walked on was the Weasel.  They depended on white gas to fuel their MSR stove.  They ate a lot of instant oatmeal, fruit leather, butter and cheese to stay warm.
The final presentation was by Dave Freeman, who is the executive director of The Wilderness Classroom , a multidimensional experience which introduces elementary and middle school students to wilderness exploration.  Mark made himself two plastic sleds, borrowed a huge malamute from a friend, then hooked up himself and the dog to the two sleds and proceeded to spend a couple of months walking along the US. Canada border in Northern Minnesota in the middle of the winter .  He showed us photos of where he fell through the ice on a river, and learned to negotiate around a great deal of open water.  He’s now gearing up for a multiyear adventure up the west coast of North American up to the Arctic Ocean the across the top of NA and down the eastern seaboard all the way to South America.

Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous, 2009 Part 1 of 3

Nov. 13-15  in Fairlee, Vermont on the grounds of the Hulbert Outdoor Center, a decades old historic camp on the shore of Lake Morey.  It sold out, as usual,  with 100 winter campers and a few snow walker wanna bees in attendance.
Last year at this time I made an entry about the Snow Walker’s Rendezvous,  where the big event was Alan Brown “torching some tents” , generating over a thousand of hits on my YouTube channel.  The Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous (SWR) is a November weekend focused on old-school human winter travel, be it assisted by snowshoes, cross country skis, dogsleds, or rubber boots.

We had a never ending ride over there from Lincolnville, ME taking a full 7 hours due to a wrong turn that put us in Portland, where we made the best of it by decimating the lunchtime Italian extravaganza at Ricetta’s which has a huge pizza/ salad/ smorgasboard of delights.

We got to Vermont in time to indulge in libations and snacks and then settled into supper and the evening program.

The folks who are regulars at this event continue to amaze me.  Marcia and I ate our dinners next to Joel and Bev Hollis from MA, a normal looking couple who have no problem taking off for a couple of months each summer and canoeing some arduous boreal rivers that have killed a number of lesser folk.

“Hey, Joel,  where did you go this summer, ”  I asked, not even considering the possibility that they do normal things, like remodel their kitchen?

“Northwest Territories,” he replied.

“And kayaked some river? “

“Yep, the Yukon” , he replied.

“How much of it”,  I asked ?

“All of it.”  So that would be about 2,000 miles, which took them some 70 days.  Unsupported.  Yep. The Hollis’s are the real deal.

Then I turned to my friend Dick Hampton, and asked him what he was up to.  He talked about heading up to do a 35 mile loop off the St. John River this winter. We’ve done a couple of winter trips together, and when I asked him to give me a call if he wanted company,  he sheepishly replied, “Every once in a while I do crazy things, like walk over frozen rivers alone.  I am thinking I will do the trip solo.”

So a small sample of what this crowd is up to.

The program ran from 7:30- 9 PM.
The talks were started up by three readings from Willem Lange, who also opened up last year.  He even asked one of my friends what he had read last year, and then proceeded to read the same three stories.   Didn’t matter, I have one of his books, with those stories, and still enjoyed the surprise endings.
Next was Sayward Chartrand’s commuter assisted presentation about the past three years she had spent teaching in a tiny high school Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec.
Zabe McEachern wrapped up the evening with a photo presentation and stories of a recent winter skiing trip she made to Norway, with close commentary of the snowshoeing and skiing cultures.
The Saturday program looked to be one of the best I’ve experienced there. Insert a bunch of sleep relted-images here and then catch Saturday’s entry.