Hiking and Biking in December

Crazy weather here in coastal Maine in December.
I do what I can, trying for daily outdoor sessions.
A couple of days ago, it was still raining, but I had to get out-  I did a 4 mile hike from the house around Moody Pond. We’ve had 4 inches of rain here in the last week.  I started out walking down the abandoned Proctor Road, which is just a stream on top of mud.

Proctor Road

Proctor Road

After I leaped over a stream, I cut onto a snowmobile trail that led to the “closed” Martin’s Corner Road, where I was careful to stay out of the water here.

Blow down on Martin's  Corner Road

Blow down on Martin’s Corner Road

This was a big blow down from the wind a couple of days ago, which gusted to 60 MPH.   I was afraid I might get electrocuted, so I pushed through thick brush where I scratched my legs on the briars.
Here’s a map of the hike. screenshot My house is just at the edge of the map, up top.

Yesterday the thermometer read 21 degrees when I left the house to join 8 other Bubbas for our regularly scheduled Sunday ride.  Nate said that we’ve been able to get some good miles out each month this year, even through last winter. There was some mud out here in the lower portions of the ride, but major ice flows on the long exposed ledges up on the top of Mt. Pleasant.  Not many of us were even willing to try and ride up, and chance a bone-crushing fall on the solid ice.  Hike-a-bike is what I call it.

Nelson, Eric, and Jason on the windblock

Nelson, Eric, and Jason on the windblock

This was also the first time that we took an alternate route back down, heading way right off the summit, and snaking our way over abandoned jeep trails interspersed with dry steep granite, and low growing shrubs. Scary steep in places, but my trust in momentum and tire adhesion worked again.
I chose my fat-tired Pugsley for this ride.  It continues to shine in these in-between-seasons conditions.

Eric, Nelson, and Craig Mac on the powerline

Eric, Nelson, and Craig Mac on the powerline

Lately, I have been able to keep ascending through muddy climbs and rocky stuff, even passing some of the guys who usually toast me when it’s dry and grippier.  Love the white bike!
The best part of the ride for me today was the long descent at the end.  You can see it starting on the elevation profile below, right about the 5.4 mile mark. screenshot 2  I was riding behind Rigger, who waited for me half-way down. I like to follow him, because he’s excellent at picking good lines through impossible stuff.   There have been some serious crashes on this downhill over the years ( Nelson comes to mind), so we all continue to watch out for each other.
I had some battery left in my iPhone, so I  inserted the headphones, cranked up the volume, and had Neil Young and the Horse as my soundtrack for the ride out to the car.  Do check out “Driftin’ Back”, the 27 minute extravaganza off Mr. Young’s  most recent CD, “Psychedelic Pill”.  I thank my peretually-musically-enhanced buddy Lock for being persistent in bringing Mr. Young to my ride today, and most every day this December.
The weaving through the winter countryside was magical today.  I even pulled some holiday spirit back home with me.

Thanksgiving morning outdoors

My neighbor Andy and I now have a Thanksgiving tradition- an early morning bicycle ride of a couple of hours down and back through Lincolnville Center to Camden Hills State Park, where we have a few routes that we choose from. According to Andy, we did this same ride last year, when we went up Cameron Mountain and then down the back side to Youngstown Road. This time, I promised my wife I’d be ready to travel at 11 AM to my sister-in-law’s place for a family get-together, so we altered the route a bit and stuck to the multipurpose trail in the park.

Home to Camden Hills State Park and back

There are just two more days of deer hunting w/ rifle season, so I wore a high visibility vest and tied a hunter orange bandanna to the back of my helmet.
It was below freezing on the ground when we left at 8:45 AM, and there was some black ice on the pavement, so no brakes or quick turns for a while.
The following picture was taken on the “closed” Martin’s Corner gravel road. Andy told me that there was a snapping turtle that was living in this super-sized puddle this past summer, that once advanced on him as he was riding through there.

Andy Hazen and the Thanksgiving ice

I’m thankful today that I live here, surrounded by woods, rocks, hills, and ocean. I’m thankful I have a loving family, that I still have my health, and that I can walk right out my door on my bikes and ride, or walk to these incredible trails and hike.

Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England by Tom Wessels – Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

I am so excited by this book…..

Read my review below.  Thanks to Philip Werner, Author of http://SectionHiker.com, outdoor writer, hiking guide, and educator for recommending it:

Goodreads | Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England by Tom Wessels – Review

Hiking in the Dark

From time to time I report content from other sites that support the direction of my own blog.

Section Hiker is one of those places where good ideas (and sometimes good deals, and give-aways) are the standard. I recently bought a very little used, and much lighter ice axe from the author, Philip.

While I haven’t yet done any night hiking this season, the days are starting to get shorter and it is good to know that it can be done safely, while enjoying the relative solitude of the night world. I am planning a night ride on my bike this evening, and have two lights that are fully charged and ready to go.

Check out the basics here.


Where the Wild Things are – Adam Bradley goes 4700 miles!

From time to time I post from other peoples’ blogs related to hiking, biking, and the outdoor experience.  Here’s one with content that stands out above and beyond what you’d expect.

On October 5, I posted an entry about my disappointment with Fatbiking the Arctic- to date, an apparently failed Kickstarter project which I funded.  This was in response to  Outside Magazine’s Oct. 4,  update on the project, which appears to have been halted in the town of Pink Mountain, somewhere near the southern start point of the Alaska Highway.  That article is here- Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt.

Today I will highlight an hour long interview with another Yukon/Alaskan adventurer, but this trip was a resounding success.

Krudmeister is one of my online friends, and I know that I’ll  meet him in person someday.  This April, Krud completed a 4,700 mile human powered trip on bike, foot, and canoe.

Here’s the lead-in, from Trail Runner Nation-    “Our second interview with Adam Bradley, aka Krudmeister, a record-holding long-distance trekker!  The last time we talked to him he had just set a world record for a self supported Pacific Crest Trail trek. This summer Adam did a self-supported, human-powered trek over 4700 miles from Reno, NV to the Bearing Sea in Alaska. This is an amazing story of endurance. We talk “Krudmeister” about his 2 1/2 month journey through some of the American Continents most beautiful country, the wildlife he encountered, and his determination to keep going day after day.”

Krudmeister rode his bike from his doorway in Reno, NV up through Glacier National Park into British Columbia, Jasper, the Icefields Parkway, then Alaska’s Cassiar/Stewart Highways, all the way up to Skagway, Alaska, completing that segment of 2,847 miles ( in just 31 days).

Chilkoot Pass photo by Adam Bradley

Then he backpacked his gear up the historic Chilkoot Pass, where he reached Lake Bennet.

Lake Bennnet photo by Adam Bradley

Here, at the headwaters of the Yukon River, he assembled a packable canoe,  and successfully navigated all 1,858 miles of  the Yukon River, where he reached the end point at the Bering Sea.

He used a small wood stove for cooking, kept his supply packages to two only, and also managed to send himself a shotgun, which him behind a couple of days due to a regulatory hassle.

Here’s the link for the podcast .

Here’s the link to his entire trip.

Enjoy.  What really impresses me is that he did this solo.  Krud not only put it out there, he delivered.   If Andrew Skurka gets on the March 2011 cover of National Geographic for 4,679 human powered miles through Alaska and the  Yukon territory, don’t you think Adam Bradley deserves increased national exposure?

Outside Magazine, HELLO ?

Urine is of Little Help to Hikers

“It’s not in any survival manual, but a group of lost hikers in the Adirondacks during a rainy overnight last week tried to fend off the cold by using the only warm water they had — their urine.”

That’s actually in the article.  The best line: “The technique is not a standard survival technique and apparently provided limited relief.”  Relief from….?

But, seriously, after you’ve read it, ask yourself  just how an inebriated, drugged, or downright sociopathic a gene pool you’d have to dredge from in order to scrape up a crew that would engage in this outcome!  I’ve seen some pretty out-on-the limb behaviors out in backpacking land but this is way over the edge..

Needless to say, there are no photos in the article. Please, no YouTube anything here, thanks.

Yup!  –>:http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Urine-is-of-little-relief-to-hikers-3542789.php#ixzz1uVt0pEBl

Riding Maine’s Sunrise Trail

I joined my friend and next door neighbor Andy Hazen this weekend, on one of his two-day-long training rides in his preparation for the 2,745 mile Tour Divide race starting June 8th, arguably the most challenging mountain bike time trial on the planet.

Andy, ready to fuel up on Sunrise Trail

We were riding on the Downeast Sunrise Trail, an 87 mile section of old railroad bed that had been converted to a gravel rails-to-trails corridor.  Andy completed it up-and-back twice in this past three weeks after Tour Divide guru Matthew Lee Matthew Lee (Cannondale Factory Racing) and director of the unsupported race,  phoned him and encouraged Andy to train on as much gravel as possible. Two weeks ago Andy churned out 170 miles in 18 hours, riding a fully loaded camping/ parts/ tools rig.
Yesterday ( Saturday) I completed 50 miles on my Pugsley bike, outfitted with a rear rack, a pair of  panniers and a frame bag.

Pugsley- tent and sleeping bag go on the rack

Today we started humping back to Cherryfield at 6 AM, after walking up to 27 degrees inside the tents. Ice coated everything around us- the water in the ditches, swamps, and even the road under our tires. This was full-on winter riding conditions even though it is April 28. Moving at 10 miles an hour creates a windchill equivalent to 19 degrees, an that is real cold, hour after hour. The best decision I made before I left was to return home and grab my winter riding boots and insulated winter mittens. My hands and feet were not painful, just mildly uncomfortable. I had 4 layers on up top.
Yesterday’s ride headed east was mostly fun, with 15-30 MPH winds at our backs.

Approaching bridge on Trail

We saw no other bikers all weekend.  There were no real hills, due to it being a railroad bed through mostly swamps and bogs.
There aren’t that many places to camp on the sunrise Trail, certainly no promoted sites. Not too far from Cherryfield was a large cemetery where you could stealth camp. Then, a place past a picnic table right beside the Machias River. After mile 70 there is another place for 2 tents near 2 picnic tables over by Cathance Stream. We were lucky to find an elevated head piece of land near a field by a place called Robinson’s Camps at milepost 80.

Camping au sauvage

There is no need to carry much food.  We bought lunch the first day at Helen’s restaurant in Machias. Mileposts occur every mile, with marked gravel crossroads alerting you to lodging, grocery, and cafe options.
We saw quite a bit of wildlife this weekend, including partridges, snowshoe hares, a nesting osprey, various song birds, and a close-up sighting of a moose. We also saw bear scat in the road, but no bears. We were up riding by 6 AM on Saturday, with no wind until we hit East Machias, where we made the bend around the river and turned due west toward Machias where the cold, strong headwind made pedaling more difficult.

Between East Machias and Machias

After breakfast and warming up at Dunkin Donuts, we ground out more miles, trying to maintain a 10 mph pace, where you click off a mile every 6 minutes. We advanced against the cold wind and repeatedly moved to the side for more than 100 ATV’s that were out for a Sunday ride. I was plumb done after 53 miles to Cherryfield, where I had my car parked.  Andy wanted more, so he continued alone the last 30 into Ellsworth, where I picked him up at the start of the Trail at the Washington Junction railway yard.
I really enjoyed this bike packing thing. It is challenging and interesting to make so many miles in one day, on your own power.  Often you hear criticism about backpackers who like to walk quickly out on the trails- “Why walk so fast that you don’t have enough time to see anything?”  Well, biking is MUCH faster and you still see plenty- actually more.  On a backpacking trip I would have covered maybe 30 miles instead of over 100.  It’s all good!

I would definitely do this again, but not during June- when the mosquitoes would be insane due to the constant flowage that surrounds the corridor. I want to end by going into Dennysville, and head down Route 1 and camp at Cobscook Bay State park, one of my favorite camping places in Maine.

Redeemed by The Bike

Stack an injury that lasted two weeks on top of a vacation in Texas that featured multiple excursions to several barbeque pits and Mexican restaurants, and witness my slide down on the fitness profile.  It’s been at least six years  when I have not been able to work out my body by riding a bike, hiking, or lifting weights for this long.  My mood, focus, and view of the word all suffered.

I stopped by Andy’s house and that afternoon we completed a 3 hour ride.  Here is is, from Strava.

It was growing cooler as we rode through the afternoon, with the wind coming in from the Southwest, making a headwind for us most of the ride.  The wind was fierce enough that we had to pedal to make it down a hill on Appleton Ridge. I should have packed more food.  I had just 1 granola bar. On the climb to the top of Moody Mountain right at the end,  the legs held together and I was spared cramping up.  It felt really good to ride today, and what a beautiful place it is to ride. Hope to be ready for an overnight bike-packing camping trip this weekend.

Friday Night Full Moon Camping

Occupy Mountaintops- Take 2. Full moon this Friday night, April 6, Good Friday. Auntie Mame and I will spend the night on top of Bald Rock Mountain in Lincolnville. Room for more. Weather should be great- no bugs!

Tenzing and Bald Rock Shelter