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.
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 !
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.
This time of year, my Twitter feed is jamming up with “Top Ten” lists from 2012. While I think it’s great to compile the best from the avalanche of information that’s that’s cascading over us, most of it is just clever advertising.
That being said, I am filtering through and blogging up the good lists. Here’s one:
My last post, the “Cycling Eight“, came from this Adventure Cycling Association list. I can see where my interest in both bicycling and camping is headed. I am not a member of the ACA, but I just requested a trial issue of their magazine.
I decided to modify the “10 Things You Don’t Need” to address backpacking.
1) You don’t need an expensive backpack. I have a pricey Arc’teryx and customer service has been a curse. Never again. Best to have something that fits well. Most packs hold up, even used ones.
2) You don’t need special Goretex/waterproof backpacking boots. They’ll plague you with blisters. Go with lighte, breathable alternatives.
3) You don’t need lots of money. In 2007, I thru hiked the AT with Lifetraveler, who also completed the trail in 5-and-1/2 months on just $2,000, and one pair of boots.
4) You don’t need “backpacking clothing”. You can outfit at a Goodwill. If stuff wears out go back.
5) You don’t need multiple sets of spare clothing. I use one set. When I reach a washer and drier, I change into my rain gear and wait for my clothes to clean and dry. If it is warm out, water sources can be a place to get water to wash, and the sun works well as a drier.
6) You don’t need a lot of stuff to cook and eat with. I use 1 pot, one spoon, and a cup.
7) You don’t even need to be physically fit. I just watched “Walking the Great Divide“, where three guys each lost at least 20 pounds in their first three weeks of backpacking. You start slow and get more efficient. Weekend warriors may need to be in better shape.
Time for me to get out and shovel away a half foot of snow.
Big day hike in the Whites.
First, about the New England 4,000 Footers. This is an official list of mountains in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont that reach or exceed 4,000 feet in elevation. There are 67 on the list. I have less than 5 left to go, after picking off the rest of Vermont last August on my Long Trail thru-hike. I am now quite interested in finishing up, possibly before winter.
Mount Carrigain is on that list- at 4,710′. Normally a 10 mile up and back round trip, it was 14.7 miles today. The additional mileage consisted of walking back to the car after a night camping at Fourth Iron on the Saco River, plus the 4 miles of road walking on the Sawyer Pond Road, still gated after major washouts from Hurricane Irene last August.
Hikers need to know about Fourth Iron. The tent site appears on the map enclosed in my AMC New Hampshire Guidebook, but with no printed mention of it in the Guidebook itself. The parking area is about 3 miles west of Bartlett and leads to a hike-in group of 8 maintained tent sites, less than a half-mile, walking on flat-ground-to-get-there, off Route 302. All the sites ($8, USFS Honor system) were taken, so we meandered down the side of the Casco River until we found a most excellent spot that allowed us to roam around in the river.
My partner for this hike was Tenzing, aka John Clark, who spent the night in his new LLBean solo backpacking tent, while inside his new light weight sleeping bag, and on top of his new sleeping pad.Our dinner was comprised of us splitting one US Army dehydrated Enchilada MRE dinner, complete with all the fixins’. Plenty of calories for that to go around. Later, we had fun hanging our bear bag on a limb overhanging the side of the water. Big night for Tenzing and I both- to be resting aside the infant Casco River as it gathers momentum after descending in rivulets from the high flanks of the mountains surrounding Crawford Notch.
We were up at 5:30 AM and only had to move back to the car and drive it across the street to the parking area at the base of the gated Sawyer River Road. Those “in the know” had brought their bicycles with them to pedal up ( and coast 2 miles back) on the gradually inclined gravel road to the official start of the Signal Ridge Trail, which is now rerouted at the start and a short distance up Whiteface Brook, due to the massive logjams and washouts from Hurricane Irene ( 2011).
The trail is a gradual 1.7 mile hike up to the intersection with the Carrigain Notch Trail, where it continues itself over Carrigain Brook, eventually reaching 3 miles of steady climbing to the actual exposure of Signal Ridge, where the views just keep on coming. The end is now in sight, with the outline of the squat firetower ahead.On the way up, you pass the site of the old fire warden’s cabin, which would have been a peach of an assignment back in the day. There is ample water there in a boxed wooden spring. We reached the top at 11:30 AM, with views all the way to Washington in the east, to Franconia Ridge to the West, and all the way back south over the Kangamangus Highway to Mt. Chocorua. The Appalachain Trail and North and South Twins were to the north.
A large pile of pressure treated lumber and beams were on the ground, ready for a rebuild of the Firetower, the project starting this week, when access to the tower would be limited.
We passed just one lone hiker on the way up, who was finishing his New Hampshire 4,000 Footer list today. I took off my shirt, boots, and socks while relaxing on the deck of the tower, while I enjoyed what may be the best trail snack I’ve even had- Bacon Jerky !
A steady stream of hikers began to join us after 12 PM, when we gathered our gear and headed down. Surprisingly, it took us just about the same time to descend the first 3.3 miles as it took us to go up, due to the constant jumble of which-way rocks and crossways roots that made up the ancient trail.
I wish I had my bike waiting for me at the intersection of the Sawyer River road, so that I could have cruised back down those last two miles. They went on forever!
Tenzing’s complete photo album of the adventure is here: http://tinyurl.com/Carrigain8-18-12
Yesterday we saw Trauma’s metamorphosis from overloaded to stripped-down backpacker. Today, comes a most useful, watchable, and amusing 10 minute YouTube clip about real-world hiking, on the cheap, and still light, bypassing the thousand dollar plus expense. Don’t let the low key , California laid-back intro put you off. There’s some real hiking gold to be mined here:
Good article, with exhaustive ( no pun intended) details on the concept of a wood stove gassifier system–>> BushBuddy Stove Tweaks @ Backpacking Light.
I have posted instructions for a home-made version of the unit, primarily made from a 1 quart and 1 pint paint cans. I have just recently updated the construction ( July 2012) to improve efficiency.
Due to repeated inquiries from people about how to make their own stoves, I will be conducting a workshop in Camden, ME at 6 PM on October 16, 2012 through Five Towns Adult Education where I will assist participants in constructing their own gassifer stoves. All components will be provided for $10 materials charge. We will have time to practice building wood fires in them as well.
I think I have finally come close to my version of the perfect home made backpacking wood stove.
In 2007, I started my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with a wood stove. For that trip, I disassembled an older version of the Sierra Zip Stove , replacing the inner chamber with a modified titanium Sierra cup from REI, and ditching the old heavy base plate in favor of a Lexan replacement, with the addition of three Coleman folding legs. It weighed in around 9 ounces. The stove worked fine, but the Lexan base did not hold up (it cracked). I replaced it in Hot Springs, N.C. where I bought a simple Etowah alcohol stove that held up well for the remainder of the 2,175 mile walk.
But my preference for using a wood backpacking stove led me to sign up for a stove building workshop at Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous in November of 2007. The workshop was put on by Don Kivelus, of Four Dog Stove Company. You can view all of Don’s products here: Catalogue. Don sells a titanium wood backpacking stove, the Bushcooker. I viewed the stove at his vendor table and when I inquired about purchasing one ( for $120) , he told me that I could buy his used demonstration model for $60, but then Don encouraged me to take his Sunday morning workshop for $10 and make my own low cost version. I had a blast with the workshop.
We each made our stoves out of one 1-quart paint can, one 1-pint paint can, 6 sheet metal screws and and six 1/4” bolts. No special tools were needed. We used only a can opener, knife, and screwdrivers. I have a video of that stove in use on YouTube , that has over 38,000 hits to date.
I used the stove throughout the 2008 backpacking season, and felt it could be improved.
For the last week I have been making and testing stoves.
The finished stove, including windscreen, weighs a mere 5.7 ounces. I filled the inner can with 2.9 ounces of air dried wood, scraps really, from around my wood pile. On 12/21/08, the air temp was a crisp 17 degrees. I was able to rolling boil a pint of cold tap water in 8 minutes and 45 seconds from touching off the birch bark tinder with a match. I removed the boiled water, made a pot of tea and then checked the stove at the 20 minute mark and could still see a small bed of coals glowing inside. NOTE: I did not add any additional wood after the stove was tindered. There were occasional gusts of wind as well. I plan to take along a sheet of aluminum foil to use as an emergency windbreak.
The most interesting finding about this new version is that it did not have to be tended. The first stove required me to frequently remove the cook pot in order to add additional wood. This one has been redesigned to allow adding wood without removing the cook pot, for example if you wanted to simmer for 10 minutes or so. But I never needed to add any additional wood.
I also revisited an older fire building technique. This stove burns from the top down. I packed the stove with 2.9 ounces of wood, lit it from the top, and forgot about it. Flames exit the top inner holes in this stove after the burn is halfway done.
At our summer camp, we have a older commercial wood stove that operates under the same procedure, brand name Tempwood . It was marketed in the 1970’s as a downdraft model. You load it with wood and kindle the top, just like this little stove. The Tempwood works just as advertised. There are disbelievers out there that are adamant that any backpacking wood stove can’t be a true downdraft unit, but doubters can check out the data/diagrams on the Tempwood, play around with this stove and decide for themselves.
Outer Can- 1 quart paint can, bottom removed and 1/2 “ holes drilled along base. I bought my can for $1.70 at Lowe’s. You can use old paint cans as well, just clean them out, or throw them in a fire. I didn’t drill all the way around, but left untouched a 4” side of the can. You could do just half the can, in case you wanted to block wind, and add more holes later if you wanted to. A #1 Irwin Unibit cuts through these cans quickly , but a regular drill bit is also OK. It is easier to drill out the side holes on the paint can if you remove the bottom after you drill out the holes.
Inner can – best choice is a Progresso soup can, 1/4” holes drilled through bottom.
Any 20 oz. can works as well, such as DelMonte or Dole crushed pineapple. Drill out a ring of 1/2” holes on the top of this can, about 1” apart and centered about 1” below the top of the can.
Friction fit the inner can into the paint can. Keep pushing, and you will feel it lock. I suspect you could use high temperature JB Weld to cement it in, but it functions with the press fit. For long term use, I secured the fitment by screwing through the top sides of both with three 1/2 sheet metal screws. No drilling required.
The pot stand I made was constructed from a large can of canned chicken with 3/8” holes drilled and the use of tin snips. I fit it into the groove of the paint can for stability.
Morning coffee anyone?
[Editor's Note, 7/14/2012]I made two modifications that retains a 5.7 ounce stove weight. The first minor mod is with the attachment of the inner to the outer can, using three small nut/bolt/washer assemblies, rather than pot rivets. The other change is with the inner can. I substituted a standard 1 pint paint can for the soup can, cutting out the base with a standard rotary handle can opener. The lid is discarded. The pint can is reversed for insertion into the quart can, with the bottom now the top, and remember to drill a row of holes below the “new top” before securing with either sheet metal screws, pop rivets, or little nuts and bolts. Instead of using the old pint can lid as a base for the firebox, a new part is cut resulting in a 3 and 1/4″ diameter piece of metal stock.
Here is a diagram of the cutting pattern.
Thin sheet metal stock could be used for these finned assemblies that could be cut with metal shears and then bent with a pair of needle nosed pliers. I was fortunate enough to have an extra titanium fin assembly that Don Kivelus gave to me that fits the 1 pint can perfectly. It drops right in through the top and does not have to be secured. Not many of us have sheets of titanium lying around, but the advantage of titanium is that this will be a lifetime part. The rest cheap cans will rust and have to be replaced, but not the titanium fin assembly, which can be moved into the replacement stove, if ever necessary. I have burned out my original firebox after 4 years.
I was able to get a boil from 2.7 ounces of wood, with 16 oz.of tap water just before the 5 minute mark, lighting and building from the bottom, quickly adding dry wood. Granted, it is 90 degrees out, rather than the 17 degrees during the original tests. I was not using a wind screen.
The addition of the finned base plate appears to bring additional burning efficiency due to the vortex created by the air moving upward into the burn chamber. On 7/25/12 I received confirmation from Don Kivelus about the improvement in efficiency using the finned grate . Here is what he sent me:
Kivelus installed his “fan grate” in the “Bush buddy” and found it improved the performance by 10-20%.
His results, as follows:
16oz water, 80 degrees F, SP900 pot /with lid
1 oz wood dowels/ 3 cc alcohol
4DS quick burn technique- [The quick burn technique -> stack your fuel wood in a random fashion in your fire pot to just below the top holes, then dribble 3-4cc alcohol on the fuel. Light, place pot, walk away and let food cook !!!]
No fan grate: 4 minutes 50 seconds = 200 degrees / no rolling boil achieved
Fan grate installed: 4 minutes 50 seconds = 207 degrees/6 min. rolling boil @ 212 degrees
Another big advantage to using the 1 pint, rather than the soup, can for the burn chamber is that the shorter vertical height allows enough height to place an alcohol burner cup under the stove. Find a small metal cup that holds 1 oz of yellow Heet or denatured alcohol- fill it, light it, and then after a few seconds place the stove over the burning cup, carefully! If you have never used alcohol for boiling, do this in the dark the first time, so that you can see the flame pattern, which is invisible in strong daylight. Also be very careful of spilling the fuel. I highly recommend taking along some alcohol so that you have a backup when you can’t find dry firewood, or just want to quickly get water boiling at the end of a hiking day. I was able to get 16 oz. of water to boil in 5 minutes, 10 seconds.
You can also use solid fuel tablets ( Hexamine), sold as Esbit or Coghlan’s fuel tablets. (Two Coughlan’s = 1 Esbit). Just light and drop into the burn chamber.
[For those of you who live in the midcoast Maine area, I'm scheduled to conduct a workshop on building your own backpacking stove through FiveTowns Adult Education on Tuesday night, 6 PM, October 16, 2012. $10 materials charge.]
A brief video of the stove in action.
Back for a weekend at the Camden Hills Ski Shelter. It’s a great a time here in the summer as it is in the winter.
I reserved it for eight folks after we arranged to spend two nights here a couple of months ago. Three of us stayed here Friday and four on Saturday nights. This pattern of “flight before the actual backpacking takes place” is common. It is hard to find people who actually follow through on intentions to backpack. I believe that this behavior is primarily caused by the difficulty we have in extracting ourselves from our very busy lives. That and the fact that things do come up- not feeling well, sudden family obligations, unfavorable weather predictions. It’s a wonder people get out and backpack at all.
Nevertheless, it’s me, Auntie Mame, our friend Cathy (who has never backpacked before), and Jody, the 4 pound Pomeranian here for both nights, with a surprise visitor joining us just before dark on Saturday night.
Our friends Tug and Georgia were thoughtful enough to hike in Friday night and grill salmon and veggie burgers for us all, complete with salad fixins, and roasted potatoes. Unfortunately they’re spending Saturday down in Portland helping a friend move. Ouch, 90 degrees predicted there !
I’ll have to say, this shelter is the ultimate right now. I am lying here in my sleeping bag as I type away. Each of us has a bottom bunk, plus our very own top bunk where we can put our stuff, and our very own picnic table inside this voluminous building (yes, three tables inside). There’s dry oak firewood provided by the Park, inside and outside fireplaces, a clean outhouse ( with toilet paper) , the rushing Spring Brook right beside us, two more picnic tables, two barbeque stations, and a fire ring outside. There’s even a trash can with a new plastic liner! All for $32.10 for up to 7 people. Call the ranger if you want to reserve at 236-0849.
Saturday morning we humped it 850 vertical feet up the 1 mile Slope Trail to the 1350′ summit of Mt. Megunticook, where we sauntered over the ridge to Ocean Lookout, then returned.
The view of the Atlantic, the patchwork of islands offshore, and the rivers, lakes, and surrounding hills is second only to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on the East coast.
Upon our return to the shelter, it was Chef Salads for lunch , then a post-meal nap. At 3:30 PM we were off again for a four mile loop that featured the superb Sky Blue Trail.
This 1.7 mile trail is the best in the park, as it passes over brooks, stone walls, blueberry patches, moss, ledges, elevated punchions, and the cushion of a century of spongy pine needles. The trail excels in all seasons.
There is no question that one ignites the becoming dry hardwood provided by the rangers and prepare meals that use the two elevated grills for roasting. Mame and Cathy prepared grilled chicken, and roasted vegetables for dinner.
We found a damned up place in one of the streams here, where a pool was up over my knees. It is the perfect place to sit and cool off after a long day of hiking.
At 8 PM, the sound of a harmonica was heard approaching the shelter.
It was Cathy’s husband Hank, who changed his mind after a demanding day back in the world of musts and shouldas, and humped his backpack two miles to join us here tonight.
As Hank rolled into the shelter, he remarked, ” The last time I was up here it was 1960!”
After we all settled back in to the shelter for the evening, I fired up my headlamp and read the group a bed time story: “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Maine”, from Lawton Grinter’s excellent book, “I Hike“
In the morning we had a leisurely super-omlet, expertly prepared by Cathy, on the full-sized fry pan that she unselfishly hauled up the Multi-Use Trail. Thanks to Mame for assisting with the Pocket Rocket.
We’ll be back to see how great this place can be when the Fall foliage erupts in color!