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.
Surprised at the continued presence of the ice and snow on the trails in Camden Hills State park.
Normally I’m walking and biking the north side from Lincolnville. Today I tried the Route 1 approach just to play it safe and hike a bit on dry ground. Other than the road up to the top of Mount Battie, I regretted leaving my Stabilicers in the car. Whenever there was no ice or crumbly refrozen snow on the trails, there was mud, with a few choice pits obscured by the fallen leaves.
My walking day began after eating an early breakfast in Rockland with my friend David. I enjoyed the renovated Home Kitchen, where I had a most excellent vegetarian Eggs Benedict, clearly one of the contributing factors to knocking out breakfast at the nearby Brown Bag.
By 9 AM I was hoisting 30 pounds on my back, when I walked from Rt. 17 to the top of Ragged Mountain ( 1300’) and back. So pleased to have the Leki poles on the dicey descent.
Then Rockland again, for lunch with my friend Robert, at the Atlantic Bakery where I enjoyed a hot bowl of soup with turkey on onion foccaccia. I was dressed in my admittedly tattered hiking clothes, which likely inspired pity from a pretty girl at an adjacent who had finished her soup and offered me her unbitten foccacia on her way out the door. Trail magic!
Zipped over to Camden Hills where I was armed with my newly minted season pass ($35).
I wanted to get into double digit miles today and had no real plan. After descending a bit from my slow stepping up to the top of Battie ( 800”) , I bypassed the Carriage Road Trail, just 0.2 miles from the top, in favor of the Table land trail, where the snow pack did not appear as thick.
I was too lazy to dig into my pack paper map to check what possibilities were ahead, but had my iPhone with me, primarily laying track for Strava, when I remembered I had the Camden Hills App (Guthook’s Hiking Guides- iTune App Store, $3.99). [NOTE: the App includes a bonus- 11.6 miles of the Georges Highland Path plus the Thorndike Brook access to Ragged.]
I fired it up, and voila, there I appeared on the map, with the route choices in colorful array.
I tracked my progress on the screen, and I decided to head up to the top of Megunticook (1385’).
From there, I had a very quick, slippery descent, thankfully with no falls down the Slope Trail. I successfully skirted \ numerous post holes perforating the trail, some several feet deep. I exited at the Multipurpose Trail right by the Ski Shelter. I took a right and tramped out, with 12 miles and 2,300 feet of vertical work completed, definitely beat and desperately in need of chocolate milk and a candy bar at Village Variety.
In the wee hours of the morning ( 4:12 AM), I realized that the weather would not compel many friends to accompany me on my birthday walk in the Park today:
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! Tonight will also feature a full moon, plus today is the anniversary of my setting foot on my first National Scenic Trail thru- hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2007.
Marcia got up to make me a birthday breakfast, along with providing a few cards and gifts. She’s the best.
I knew that I would be going it alone today, but hoped that I’d have some company in the Ski Shelter that I rented for tonight in the Camden Hills.
I’m fortunate to live here, where I can look out two big glass windows and take in a view of the valley and assess my destination today, up and over the sloping back side of the Camden Hills. After breakfast, I put on my Patagonia Specter rain jacket, shouldered my loaded pack, slide my hands into the rain mitts and under the straps of my Leki poles, and proceeded to walk across town, my own march to the sea.
I started walking on the crumbling snow coating the abandoned Proctor Road. It’s slippery underfoot, but I tried walking without traction devices on my feet and it seemed good. I’m getting used to walking again with a full pack. It feels familiar, but a bit uncomfortable, like a draft horse in a dry old harness that both need to loosen up a bit.
After I walked through some mud at the other end of the Proctor Road I wind my way down through Lincolnville Center. It’s been easy going so far, mostly downhill. Now the climb starts, first up the Thurlow Road, where it gets sketchier on an abandoned section that eventually crosses Youngtown Road, where it dumps me onto a snowmobile trail that heads up the back side of Cameron Mtn. This time of the year the terrain appears foreign, primarily due to the lack of leaves, so the tunnels seem lighter, longer, and more desolate. It’s cold, spitting light rain from the sky, and as long as I’m moving, I’m comfortable but I’m getting tired. I’ve been moving steady and at a good clip for two hours straight.
I forgot to pack snacks. I turned left at the base of Cameron and planned to take the downhill to link onto the Multipurpose trail. If you are following the map, I am right at the “4″ mark. I take a brief rest, reach into the pack, eat one of the lemon-filled cupcakes that Marcia made me for my birthday, and drink a pint of water from Tiki-man. My lower abdomen still is uncomfortable, residual healing from the hernia surgery from 5 weeks ago. The doctor tells me to walk through it, and assured me that I am healing well.
I really hope that more healing is done by the time I leave for the CDT in 16 days.
Two of my friends, Karl Gottshalk and Pat Hurley came by 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. !
I plan to put in 9 more days of hiking, alternated with 9 rest days. I’m following the conditioning program favored by Ray Jardine, where I hope to culminate on a 12 mile day over these hills with 35 pounds in my pack. That should do it.
Join me in the Camden Hills, on March 27, the anniversary of my first night of my 2007 Appalachian Trail hike, and also my birthday.
I’ve rented the Ski Shelter for the night, with 6 bunks available for any hikers or bikers who want to spend the night.
My treat. The cabin is insulated, with a wood stove, and ample dry firewood to warm the space. It’s 2.9 miles, and about an hour’s walk on the Multipurpose Trail from Lincolnville side parking lot, so even those who have to work on Thursday morning (that would be me) can work this out. Walking from the Route 1 side is even shorter miles) . A clean outhouse awaits you ( with toilet paper!) , with fresh snow melt water available from the stream nearby. Bring your own food, etc. and a headlamp or light. It’ll be dark inside without them , but the full moon should help illuminate the event.
Tenzing and I celebrated our last full moon campout in the Park in December of 2011, when we stayed on top of Bald Rock Mountain, where close to 20 people stopped by the fire to say hello.
I’ll be hiking the Camden Hills in the daytime and plan to be in the shelter by 5 PM.
Hope to roust up some company. If you’ve never had the chance to spend the night in the shelter, this is the best deal in Camden !
In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.
I’m no barfly. I can count on one hand the times when I’ve walked into a bar, alone, and schmoozed along in there.
Fact Check #1- Actual years have gone by between my extremely occasional bar visits.
However, I went into Rockland tonight to hang with the “Bubba Council” at Rock Harbor. It was quite an honor to be invited into that inner sanctum. I walked in and there they were, with 7 hands extended to join mine, holding down the whole corner of the bar at the local pub. There was power in the room. Once a week. Now.
The Bubbas are a notoriously informal group of mountain bikers who have managed to not only ride together for 18 years, but to do it in full blown ragged royalty, with a four-season regularity that has been immensely appealing to me since that fateful day almost twenty years ago when Smiling Dave suggested that I should head over to the Snow Bowl on Thursday night at 5:30 and ride with these guys. The deal we have here doesn’t go down very often, and I’m holding onto it for dear life.
What I saw on that first ride with these guys floored me. I watched bikes fly. Actually lift up and fly. Fly over horrible, rock-strewn threads of a trail, paths that climbed at impossibly steep grades to twist around trees and then cascade over streams and fallen logs where a mistake meant bruises and often blood. For a couple of years, I actually believed that my rides at Ragged meant blood, mine, somewhere. I’m able to ride like them now, almost.
So tonight, I hoisted a couple of beers and savored the deep flavor of community with my brethren riders. We have experienced each others’ bleeding, bruised, and broken forms, as we wince, laugh and grouse our way through the deep forests, bogs, and fields of Midcoast Maine. As Stevie said tonight, over fresh deep-fried potato chips and drafts, “Everyone is going to crash sooner or later.” Even Stevie took a big hit this fall, and he’s a pro in a Hawk suit.
There are walking trails that we ride on like the George’s Highland Path, where I’ve never seen another person other than a Bubba, even though I’ve been riding these trails dozens of times. The enthusiasm of a riding a half to a dozen single-track miles together has us talking about where we’re riding the next time before we are even done with this one. It’s been a thrilling, and sometimes painful ride. Sometimes it’s at night, maybe on a Sunday morning, but- Joy also shows up for the ride.
We talked tonight about why we do this. Why have we have been at it for 18 years, each spending many thousands of dollars on upgrading the bikes to allow us to ride longer, faster, and climb easier ? Why did we find 16 riders who pulled together this November in the Bog? It’s crazy? I’ve even spent more on my new 29” Santa Cruz that I had on my last car. Crazy!
We do this because we care for each other, show interest in each other, pick up each other when we’ve crashed, make fun of each other, and appreciate the company of other men as we live in the woods for a couple to three hours, a few times each week, under rain, sun, darkness, snow, and whatever else this glorious world outside out windows promise us.
Fact Check #2- I laugh a lot, smile when I’m not laughing, and always feel alive when I ride with the Bubbas.
Single digit temperatures, a bare porch, and a blizzard on the way? Better get active.
I moved a half cord of firewood yesterday afternoon before the next “possible snow storm of the century” hit coastal Maine. Big hype?
My tractor’s trailer failed me after the trailer’s tire slipped off the rim as I was driving a full load of wood up the hill to my enclosed porch. I had a couple of hours before dark, so I went to plan B, which was push, lift, turn, and restack with the help of the trusty wheelbarrow. I managed to move 18 barrow loads of dry hardwood until there was no more wood to reclaim before it would have been buried under lots of white crystalline water.
Was it worth it? YUP!
#1- We may lose power here, with the possibility of very strong winds during the storm. The heat from our wood stoves are not dependent on electricity. There is also NO COMPARISON to the comfort of a stoked and glowing a wood stove to the meager blasts from the duct work of a hot air furnace.
#2- I did a quick bit of research this morning. Our furnace is fueled by propane. One half cord of dry hardwood is the equivalent of 80 gallons of propane. Since my last charge for a gallon was $3.00, that half cord on my porch is worth $240. Much of that load was free, as I harvested the trees here on on our property. But even if I paid the current cost of $200 a cord for split and delivered hardwood, which I do some years, I still would have saved $140.
#3- Core workout accomplished.
You’d think that I’d be packing a headlamp after writing about night hiking in the the past two blog entries- But no.
I’ve been hiking some Friday afternoons with my friend Frank for the past few months, and took him up on his invite again yesterday. He let me pick the place so I suggested we go up the Highland Path on the west side of Ragged Mountain, from Route 17.
The light would stay with us for a longer time than if we would be on the east side of the big hills around here.
I forgot that it is an 800’ climb, followed by return on the same steep sections, that the trail would be obscured by a thick layer of fallen leaves, and that taking Jody, the dog, would slow things down a bit.
The view from the top was stunning, as were the illuminated flags of color that still remain on the trees.
Starting up at 3:30 PM, I had neglected to check to see that sunset was at 5:30 PM. When we rolled back to the lot, it was 6 PM, and dangerously close to dark. I had a tiny flashlight with me that could have illuminated the path enough for us to get back, but I learned my lesson, and will keep a headlamp with fresh batteries in my day pouch for next time. Both Frank and I agreed that we humped along at 3.5 MPH on the last mile to make it out in time. I half-turned my ankle on a hidden rock, and while it didn’t in any way screw up my ankle, it was a reminder that travel outside is changing as we approach Halloween.
Deer hunting season with rifles is officially open tomorrow morning at daybreak. The woods will not be ours for a while, as it is too dangerous to be wandering around in the backcountry, even wearing a hunter orange vest. The deer hunters get to go outside until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when it will be safe to roam around back in the far away places again.
At least Sundays are “no hunting” days.
Most Sunday mornings find me connecting my soul to the expansive universe – on a bicycle. Today saw the last of the peak foliage here in coastal Maine, and what better a day to view the finality of color than by climbing 800′ (in one mile) to the top of Ragged Mountain with a pack of Bubbas to see the sights.
I’ve not yet been able to piece together an actual ride to the top- at most I have been able to ride just a third of the trail to the top. It doesn’t matter, I get there- and most of the time I’m faster walking up there than most of the riders.
I did a lot of hiking this Fall- by backpacking and enjoyed several trips to Baxter State Park and the Appalachian Trail in the past two months. Right now, it’s so much fun to bike.
We had two inches of rain on Saturday, and there is this new downhill trail that was built here this summer, but a couple of sections will be filled with water today , so we decided to choose the traditional descent which turned out to be surprisingly solid, with no mud pits at all.
There’s treachery around every turn, as Chris found out today when he found his face planted upon a rock that threw him off his Rocky Mountain 29er. It happens. I am sure to wear elbow and knee protection when I ride Ragged. Most days, they earn their cost.
I hope to get in two more rides this week, on Tuesday and Thursday. It’s going to be cold and snowy soon, and attendance at the Church will be under different conditions. But today was superb
Here’s a shot of Nate and Rigger, as we regroup for the descent.
The Ragged Mountain Trails delivered once again. It’s going to be a great week!
We were up and at ‘em sometime around 6 AM when Team Canada lit up the place and downed huge bowls of Captain Crunch before they headed up to try and reach Baxter Peak, traverse the Knife Edge, and then hobble back here to Katahdin Stream campground. Wish I knew how it all played out for them.
What an enjoyable and easy seven mile hike we had today! We had light rain just at the start, for about two miles, but the rain worked with the colorful leaves to draw our attention to the mottled landscapes that surrounded us. The ground was coated with reddish maple and yellowed birch leaves. There were many streams to cross, and greasy puncheons to test our Slip and Slide skills.
We stopped for lunch, where I fired up my stove.
I was very pleased at the taste and quality of my newly found Campbell’s soup packet, plus there is no can to pack out. Pat and Marcia are great hiking partners. Pat has a keen eye for wildlife. He spotted this spotted salamander partially hidden by the fallen leaves.
Even Martha didn’t complain much when she slipped, fell, and drenched her butt in a cold puddle.
When we reached Whitten Pond, there was nothing but fog in front of us.
No moose sightings here.
We passed three massive boulders left behind by the retreating glaciers some 12,000 years ago.
The biggest one was “house-sized”, for sure.
Two stream crossings of the Wassatiquoik were deep enough that we switched out hiking boots for Tevas and Crocs, and just plough through the rushing waters.
The cold freshness felt good on my feet and lasted a surprisingly long time.
Marcia was impressive on point in moving us along at a steady 2.4 mph clip, despite the rain-lubrication layer covering the ever present bare root and lichen-encrusted granite pathway below.
We reached the Russell Pond Campground by 1:20 PM; a superb start to day 1 of our Columbus Day Weekend. It was no longer raining, and we threw our packs down at the weighing station.
Both Pat’s and my pack tipped the scales at 42 pounds. How the heck did that happen?
At Russell, we were checked in by Brendan, the ranger, who lives near us and has been working here for 21 years. He let us borrow a bow saw and led us to a recently fallen dry maple that provided us with firewood for the bunkhouse. He came over later and visited with us after it started raining again. It was tough to hear that there was a cache of dry split firewood locked up is a big plywood box on the bunkhouse porch that was being saved for upcoming winter season. If I had known that there was no firewood for sale here I would have packed in my axe that is sitting in my car back in the Roaring Brook lot.
Marcia cooked our supper of steak, fresh zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes on top of the wood stove here. I made up a aluminum pie tin filled with no-bake Cherry Cheesecake for dessert.
The other party of four renting out the second 4 bunk sleeping room never showed up so we had the whole bunkhouse to our selves for the rest of the weekend.