Uncle Tom in the Bangor News- Lincolnville retiree completes Triple Crown of hiking

 

Click to check out Aislinn’s feature about my backpacking life in today’s Bangor Daily News–>

Lincolnville retiree completes Triple Crown of hiking, nearly 8,000 miles on the trail — Outdoors — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

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.

‘North Pond Hermit’ a ‘model prisoner,’ bail set at $5,000 — Augusta — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

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.

Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

The link brings you to additional new stories about this most unusual situation.

‘North Pond Hermit’ a ‘model prisoner,’ bail set at $5,000 — Augusta — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

Scoring Focaccia and Miles

Surprised at the continued presence of the ice and snow on the trails in Camden Hills State park.

Still snow in April

Still snow in April

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).

Camden Hills from Moody Mountain Road

Camden Hills from Moody Mountain Road

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.

Me= blue dot .  Choices, choices?

Me= blue dot . Choices, choices?

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.

Birthday present: Walking eight miles in the rain over snow

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:

First This !

First This !

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.

Double espresso, eggs, croissant, presents!

Double espresso, eggs, croissant, presents!

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.

screenshotAfter 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. !

La, La, la!

La, La, la!

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 Wednesday night

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.

Ski Shelter

Ski Shelter

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.

Occupy Bald Rock Mountain !

Occupy Bald Rock Mountain !

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 !

Carey Kish: “His toughest trek beckons”

In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.

Carey Kish: His toughest trek beckons | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Bubbas Handle Bar

IMG_1143I’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.

Core workout before big blizzard pays off !

2,000 pounds dry hardwood = 90 gallons fuel oil, or 130 g propane

1,600 pounds dry hardwood = 80 gallons propane


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.