updated CDT TrailJournal from Mexico to Doc Campbell’s via Columbus route

Dick Wizard, General Lee, Train, and Uncle Tom  get ready to Embrace the Brutality–>Uncle Tom’s 2013 Continental Divide Trail Journal, Part of Trail Journals’ Backpacking and Hiking Journals.

I’ve just revised, adding details and more photos to the first leg of my 2013 CDT thru-hike on the CDT.  Not too many hikers choose to start at the Puerto Palomas Customs crossing on the US/Mexico border, with the majority of hikers taking the Crazy Cook start due west of here.

This first leg of  two hundred miles from Palomas to Doc Campbell’s Post, took us 13 days to complete. It was tough going at the start.

some things change


I rode my Diamondback Apex for the first time in over a year yesterday. It still had the repair tag on it from April 1st 2013. I had purchased it from Bath Cycle in 1986. It cost me about $800 and it was the top of the line back then, before the days of suspension forks, carbon fiber, and fat tire bikes were even imagined. Three or four years ago I rebuilt it, had it repainted as close to the original green as I could get. I use it as my road bike now, with upgraded rear hub, cassette, but with the rest kept original. I stick with old stuff, and tend to purchase few things, but my decisions let me have relationships that last.

It’s been a tough winter up here in Maine. I’ m down to my last sticks of firewood. Hard-cased snow is covering most of the fields around my house. I wrecked by VW diesel Jetta’s engine on a double frost heave in Appleton. It’s sold and I am down to driving my gas guzzling Plymouth Voyager while I wait for the snow to melt so that I can rotate my three motorcycles into my summer driving routine.

Four days ago, I took my worst fall in twenty years in my own driveway when I slipped on the lubricated ice in the rain and landed on my back full-force on the edge of a short wall of railroad ties. Thank God I didn’t land or my spine or my head. If that happened, I think I would have much more serious repercussions to this April aberration of a countryside. I took a direct hit on the side of my back, where I am now sporting a sick yellow and blue bruise. I have fallen many times before, and this time avoided triggering a nerve to add to the pain. I screamed loudly when I bounced off and landed again on the ice in front of the retaining wall. I limped back into the house where Auntie Mame guided my sorry ass to the couch where she gave me 800 mg. of ibuprofen and a laid a big bag of ice on my back.

So my ride yesterday was a celebration of sorts. It felt good to do an old familiar loop of 13 miles- with my old green pal.

I’ m blessed again to be able to say yes.

Hiking Clark Island

Clark Island, a little known, private island in St. George, on the rocky coast of Maine, is definitely worth a hike. Pat, John, and I checked it out yesterday, as we dodged and weaved through serious winter wind on our 4 mile loop around the mostly abandoned territory.

I found few little web details about this hike. We parked at the edge of the causeway, where there was space for just one vehicle. From there we walked straight ahead through the yard of the caretaker’s house and followed the well trodden winter path all the way to the end.
20140302-091431.jpg From there we decided to walk the shoreline rather than double back. The rockweed was slippery and tread uneven, so we were careful not to fall.

20140302-093426.jpg Part way back, we spotted an ancient trail that wound it’s way back over the main (unplowed) road. Here a photo of John beside a couple of balsam furs that have been stripped by what must if been a hungry deer.


Here’s reference material from a 2002 Courier-Gazette:

“At the end of the causeway is a lone house that stands at the entrance of Clark Island. Beyond it are trails that wind through fields, stately pines and other trees and fragrant wild flowers. In a few places it was evident where deer traipsed through. A few of the trails led me to different granite quarries. Standing on the edge of one of the quarries and looking out and over the tree line I could see the ocean. Large slabs of granite and trees make the quarry secluded and private. Some of the rocks that border the area are a perfect spot to sit for a picnic or to lay back and sunbathe..”
This island is still untouched and has a great deal of history. One side of the island is built up with granite walls that form a pier. In the early 1900s, ships used to dock there and load up on granite that had been cut from the quarry. The operation stopped more than 70 years ago when workers struck water and it filled up and was never used again. Evidence of the quarry operation abounds. The rock pier still has steel or iron spikes where the tug boats used to tie up. And large slabs of granite still have ridges in them from where they were cut.

“Opposite the island, on the Clark Island peninsula, even more granite was taken. Operations there continued until 1969, when a fire destroyed the building that housed all the tools for the operation.

“At the time the quarry was at its peak was in the late 1930s and 40s,” said Arnold Hocking. Thomaston. Hocking’s father was superintendent of the quarry during the 1940s. “About 300 men worked there and they shipped out about 1,500 tons of paving blocks by barge a day.” The island and quarry operations were owned by John Meehan & Sons out of New York and Philadelphia, Hocking said.

“Hocking and his brother took over the operation of the quarry until the fire destroyed everything. Granite had been taken from the area since the early 1900s, before the island was serviced by electricity, Hocking said, and everything was operated by steam or compressed air.

Historical evidence, beautiful scenery and solitude make Clark Island a worthwhile destination.

Big Bunch ‘o Bubbas Roll Even Further

Steve’s idea to start an hour earlier made good riding possible. For years- nope- wait, how about decades, the Bubbas saddle up at 9:30 AM on Sunday mornings and hit mountain bike trails here in Midcoast Maine. The temperature was right on the edge this morning- low 30′s here in Lincolnville. We didn’t know if it was going to be sunny as the day came on, but did know that it was going to warm up. Once the rays of the late February sun hit the compressed, snowmobile-packed snow on top, the tires sink, the churning begins, and the effort doubles. So we all were there an hour early, and it didn’t take long for us to realize that the tread was excellent at this early hour. Even if it wasn’t rock solid, it was packed so well and still so cold we that were rolling fast on the flats and downhills, and still able to climb up the steep sections. We even extended the normal ride, heading over toward the four-way near the Mount Pleasant trails.

Eleven riders, all on fat-tire bikes except Rigger, enjoyed the best day of winter riding I’ve experienced this winter season.

20140223-190932.jpg Rigger proved that you don’t need a fat tire bike to enjoy the winter riding right now. This is THE TIME. The weekly forecast predicts yet another week of sub freezing conditions, with daytime highs of 31 degrees and under, falling into single numbers each night. We’ll just have to see if Wednesday brings more snow.

We’re charging up our lights for at least one night ride on the trails this week. Steve and I are hoping that other riders will be able to join us in checking out the Tanglewood 4-H Camp trails right after lunch on Friday this week. I love riding the suspension bridge over the Ducktrap river out toward Pitcher Pond.

Both Steve and John Anders were running video today. I’ll post when they finish editing. John had a tall collapsible extension that he had bungeed to his top tube that he’s been using to place the GoPro up high to vary the angle. Here we are!

20140223-190850.jpg That’s me in front, eating a Brad Bar- photo by John Anders

Day 4 Moose River Winter Walk

20140211-170138.jpgHeaded part way out today. Our relaxed breakfast featured fried Hickory Flavored Spam- for Pat and I, but neither Bad Influence nor Matt cared for any at all. I am a true fan of grilled up Spam when I am hiking. It’s a taste that ranks big time, in my book. I don’t eat Spam when I am at home, and I don’t ever eat cold Spam right out of the can. But sharing Spam roasted up over a campfire, outdoors in the forest, and interacting with those glowing coals is as good as it gets.

We were not sure about what to do about weather. BI said a Nor’easter was coming tonight, and I told him I heard it was going to happen Sunday night, and by then we’d be headed home.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get a Verizon signal, I was finally able to connected with my iPhone. My weather APP confirmed that no storm was coming at us tonight.

So we decided to head back down the river toward the car and put in for another night of camping somewhere on the eastern side of Attean Pond.

Toboggan pulling was ridiculously hard for me today. About 6″ of fresh snow had accumulated on the base since we walked here three days ago. My wooden sled acted as if all the base wax had worn off. It resisted forward motion, plus the cold wind coming right straight at us. It was about 12 degrees out. Snow was swirling, being lifted from the frozen surface. I had on ski goggles with a yellow lens, and a silk scarf covering my face. We grunted our way up , first-heading for the closest wooded island, even if it was a bit west of course. We had to get to the lee sides of islands in order to find a resting places to get out of the wind, drink hot coffee from our thermos, and for me to eat a chuck of pemmican. Two years ago, Bad Influence and experienced wind so strong here out of the west that it tipped our loaded toboggans right over.

But things work out.

20140211-170358.jpg Three sections of aim-for-the-island hopping eventually brought us into a sheltered cove behind an island where we found the sweetest winter tent site.

Matt’s supper was very interesting and quite delicious. He made papas fritas, with Santa Fe Ole Red Chili Sauce. Appetizer was goat cheese and Mary’s Crackers. For dessert we had Ben and Jerry’s frozen yogurt with hot creamed applesauce.

Even though there a cold wind blowing in the distance, we are enjoyed the stillness behind the little hill that’s shooting the southwestern wind right up into the moonlight sky above our peacefully reclining bodies tonight.

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.

Pat tending the camp stove

I meant to tell you


Carrot Quinn is one of my favorite writers about long distance backpacking.

Originally posted on CARROT QUINN:

About December and January, but then I didn’t, and now January is practically over. It went like this: I got systemic poison oak, my face swelled up, I didn’t want to get steroids. I stopped kissing my dogs, I washed everything I owned, I acknowledged the existence of poison oak everywhere in the forest here. My face continued to swell, and my arm, and my hip, and my leg, and I felt so awful. I gave Potato to a friend. I moved to a little cabin without electricity on a defunct land project in a beautiful valley full of post-punk hippies who build their homes from mud. I got steroids from the ER for my poison oak and they made me feel crazy. I wrote in manic bursts. I took care of the goats and chickens and ducks. I wrote. The systemic poison oak went away and I only had…

View original 500 more words

“No water for 80 miles” -Deets

Replaying “mind tapes” from Wyoming, on the Continental Divide Trail today- through the bleak expanse of the Great Basin. Watching an old DVD- Lonesome Dove -with Tommy Lee Jones, Ricky Schroeder, and Robert Duvall.

My Lord- what I have experienced for this past half-year is so big in my chest tonight- what the screen brings up surprised me. Here’s a pic of Train and I settin’ out, fueled with wishes, hopes, and fears.


Careful! Inter-Web Info may physically wreck you

I am not 70, but closing in.  I enjoy reading about health and aging.  This article from Outside magazine was right up my alley.  I am also a subscriber, so I trusted it would be useful.  It is- mostly, but there appears be a research mistake in one of the recommendations, and it’s possible that you’d be hurt or discouraged from continuing your program, if you were to follow it.

Here’s the article itself, and I suggest you click on the light right below,  read the article, and then come back:

Photo from Outside magazine

Photo from Outside magazine

Who will argue about strength training, eating right, and walking?
No one, however, the advice about strength training is possibly dangerous.
Specifically , “Nix that muscle atrophy with regular cardiovascular and strength training exercise. One study showed that a strength training regimen of 3 sets of 8 reps at 80 percent of your one rep maximum, performed three times a week, can not only improve strength, but also build back Type II muscle fiber, which can give you a more toned, less flabby look.”
I read the abstract for the study, and there’s something wrong.  It’s the one rep maximum as a reference point.  I’ve been lifting for 40 years.  Eighty percent of the maximum weight  is totally appropriate for 8 reps, but ONLY  if you are an experienced lifter.  Muscles resist cycling loads and get stronger, so really strong people need to push 80 % of their max , as much as 8 times,  if they are to grow in strength.

But, if a 70+ year old tries to lift  80% of their max single effort lift 8 times, to exhaustion, and not just once, but three times in a row, I see big trouble: either torn muscles, heart failure, or a desire to stay away from something so hard to do.

My recommendation is to drop those reps to three sets of  4, if you are an older athlete, and your bar weight is 80 % of your maximum single push or pull.

So, why did the 12 men in the study have such great results after 12 weeks?   I’d bet their “trainers”  were not pushing them hard enough when establishing those 1 rp maximum reps.  Their maximum efforts were not true maximums.

Anyone else out there agree?