My New Gym – Outdoors!

I was complaining to My friend  Frankie the Tax Dude  about my feet, back, and neck after I got back home from 5 months of backpacking the Continental Divide Trail.  Frankie recommended that I have a few sessions with William Armstrong, up to Belfast, ME .

Just three sessions with Bill did it for me. I  found his approach fresh and useful.  My neck problem is gone.  Bill also assisted me in making the switch from the gym to the outdoors as well.  I have been a gym rat for the past 40 years, but no more.  I can’t stand spending sweat time indoors when I can be outside, with trees, streams, and rocks around me.

With just a foam roller, a couple of solid rollers, two dumb bells, and an eight pound medicine ball , I’m good, even if it’s too miserable to get out.  I can use this stuff at home too, if I  am watching backpacking or music videos on the TV.  20140412-095635.jpg Bill also suggested specific exercises for me to try, garnered from a variety of sources.  I am now engaging in backpacking and biking specific routines.

Some of Bill’s simplest recommendations surprised me. For example, after 6 decades of wear and tear on my body, I assumed that one needs some assistance with balance.  Bill was observing me put on my socks after one of his sessions.  I had one hand out against a wall to keep myself steady on one leg as I aimed my other foot into my sock.  “Bad idea”, he said.

“Don’t hold onto anything, keep wobbling.”  Interesting.

Bill also suggested that I could make several adaptations while I was hiking outside.  For example, with the deep winter snows now almost gone, I am able to  go into the edges of the woods lining the road and do some things that helped me, like using a natural chinning bar.

Here is a map of my outdoor gym.  It is a three mile out and back ciruit, and gains some elevation going up Moody Mountain at the end point.  If I have enough time, I keep going to the saddle at the top, where I do a turn-around :

The path, out and back

The path, out and back

I found my chinning bar today!  It was not 10′ from the side of the road at the 1.1 mile mark. It’s   a maple limb, about 8 and a half  feet off the ground, just at the right height for me to stretch my arms over head and leap up  and hang off the ground.  I could only do two chin-ups , and hope to work up to 10.  Yeah!

Next, I’ll make a final selection of a big rock that I can jump up and down from.  Then a distance from that would be a slightly elevated rock that I can step up and down from.   I started jumping a couple of years ago, after I learned that non-impact sports like biking do nothing to keep our bones strong.  It’s a good thing to do to keep osteoporosis at bay.

“Breeze”-Maine Triple Crowner, in AT magazine

In the current issue of AT Journeys ( April 2014),  Maine’s Brendan Drapeau ( aka Breeze) gets some well deserved  press coverage.  Download a PDF of the full article/with photos here  -Courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s official membership magazine A.T. Journeys  (http://www.appalachiantrail.org). The latest electronic issue is not yet available on the ATC’s website, but thanks to Wendy Probst, Editor, the article can be viewed here in its full format  (please respect that it is not to be copied , or altered in any way).  If anyone has a better solution for me to get this this to you, let me know.  As it stands, the first link above will result in  you downloading a PDF of the article (complete with photos) onto your device/computer, where it can be opened with Adobe Reader.

I briefly corresponded with Breeze before we both started our thru-hikes and was hoping to meet him on the CDT.  Breeze eventually surprised me by walking up to me at the decidedly funky Gila Hot Springs campground, just down the hill from Doc Campbell’s post.  Here’s a few pics from our rendezvous.

Mainers meet in New Mexico

Mainers meet in New Mexico

 

Uncle Tom and Breeze sporting their Appalachian Trail tattoos

Uncle Tom and Breeze sporting their Appalachian Trail tattoos

Breeze hiked with MeGatex for a few weeks, before he turned on the accelerator and took off.  He taught me to leave a motel room cleaner than when you entered it, a most unique practice among the normally messy stuff that Hiker trash normally walk away from after a night of copious cleaning, washing, and consumption.

Breeze and and I were both in the habit of rising at daybreak.  Breeze has a huge long stride.  He makes his mega mileages by walking early, walking all day, and then usually walking a bit later after supper.  His through hikes of both the AT and the PCT were done in a startling short number of days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing About Hiking Again

It happens to me every springtime, since 2007 when I set off on my first long distance backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. It’s the compelling desire to be on another long hike. But, I’m not taking a long hike this season. So what ?

This year’s alternate plan is to hike (except for one bicycling/camping trip in Maine) for one week every month from now until October. I am really pleased to report that I have walked some 250 miles in the last two months, mostly on trails and roads around my home town in Lincolnville, Maine.

This morning I have started to write more about one of my thru-hikes hikes. I put in two hours revising the first 2.5 days and 57 miles of my 2013 Continental Divide Trailjournal, the section from the border at Palomas, Mexico to Deming, New Mexico. If you want to read the revisions-  the hotlink about takes you right to my first day of hiking.

There are not many hikers who opt for the Columbus alternate, and I thought it might be useful to future hikers  to have someone lay down details. I have added additional sections about prices,  geographical locations, and had data that I am extracting from hand-written logbooks and references that I did not have the time for when I created by daily posts in the tent each night, where I was under the influence of a blend of fatigue, stress, and general catatonia.

I also want to add additional photos to the CDT Trailjournal, and am not having much luck in remembering how to to that, so if there are Traijournal wordsmiths out there who have it down, hit me up.

Plus, here’s new photos from those first three days.

We find the water cache !

We find the water cache !

Shade but tanks are empty

Shade but tanks are empty

Train, the General, and Wizard striking off toward the Floridas

Train, the General, and Wizard striking off toward the Floridas

 

 

some things change

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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.

Embracing Mistakes

Happening, right now- UNEXPECTED EVENTS

“Fail boldly…..If you don’t mind failing, you’re never going to succeed—there will be nothing there to make you want more….Failing makes you see yourself as you truly are, and where you can take yourself.”  from:–>Why Dean Karnazes Is the Most Successful Runner On Earth | In Stride | OutsideOnline.com. While this Outside magazine article is mostly true, one caveat- a life punctuated by repeated failures is maybe not so good these days. I heard on the radio the other day part of a TED talk that described America right now as a country where everyone has an equal chance as we line up at the starting block of our ” race”, and at that brief moment, everyone is equal, anyone could win, or place well but as the race progresses we then are characterized as winners or losers. In America right now, it’s too dangerous to lag behind. Losers are castigated for not trying hard enough, for being too fat, or too lazy to make it to the podium.

Even so, I am surprised that I’m re-re-reading Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up, a slim hardcover book that is one of only two books that I bought in the past year. (The re-re- is not a mistake) The book was first given to me to read by my friend and frequent mentor- Brad Purdy.  9781400081882_p0_v1_s260x420

A couple of years ago, I was in Tanglewood 4-H Camp’s kitchen, cooking for a group of 40 men, under Brad’s direction. Brad had placed posters with pages from the Imrov book around the kitchen. Me and the other sub-cooks learned lots from Brad- this time that there was more to cooking than reading the list of items and measurements in a recipe and mechanically creating tasty food.

Then and now, Brad encouraged us to feel fine about screwing up- he told us to embrace the mistake- announce it publicly and take a bow, even !

Even to the point of this—Mistakes may actually be blessings

The Others

For the past 36 years I’ve been walking up the driveway to get the Bangor Daily News that gets delivered to me sometime around 5:30 each morning.  Today, like no other day, a majestic bald eagle greeted me-  circling not 50 feet above my head as I reached into the newspaper box up on the road.
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I don’t work on my birthday anymore, and try to let the day unfold a bit before I go hiking.  It’s a tradition that I have started in 2008, on the one year anniversary of starting out walking from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Maine.  I know that the new year is something that is thought to start on January 1, but for me it starts on my birthday, just a few days after the Spring equinox.  The light is brightening now, the days most years are warmer already. It’s time to walk again.
I wanted to backpack at least half the day today, but sometimes we have to improvise.  Improvisation is one of my major lessons this year. The Improv Wisdom book is a big help these days.
Yes, it’s just as good as it ever was- the hiking today. Maybe not as long a walk than I first wanted, but it’s what worked out. I loved the feeling of stretching out my legs, kicking forward, and leaning toward the horizon a bit- saw no one.
The trail ahead is slippery

The trail ahead is slippery

What a privilege it is to have the miles of trails and warm shelter to myself right now. The sun is setting, skies are clear and it’s definitely back into the 20′s tonight.
Just as I was walking, someone sings  “Sorrows are flowing downstream down the mountain”on the iPhone that I’m listening to . I was in the process of taking this photograph at that exact moment- I’m not kidding.

Flowing but mostly frozen

I just set up final details to do a 100 mile hike down on the Appalachian Trail in May to hike into Trail Days. I’ll be in Tennessee,  North Carolina and into Virginia ! I hope hike a few of those miles with Duff, who is setting out on a thru-hike of the AT this season. Plus Guthook will be breezing through at autobahn level mileages as he storms through Virginia as a total act of devotion to updating his ever popular AT Hiker app. Bob Peoples is helping me with logistics, and I’ll be sure to stay at his place- Kincora- the best hostel of the whole AT.

I am hoping see Crazy Horse down there. When he had the Captain America Corvette he was easy to track down. Now his car is nothing flashy.

It’s not that big a bunch that hikes a lot. These people tend to get to events like Trail Days  and AYZPCTKO ( PCT kickoff).   I will likely spot a few folks that I have not thought about in years but, when I do run into them, I’ll be filled with excitement instantly due to some deep connection we made between each other while out there with The Others. That’s who I belong to- the ragtag bunch of backpackers who do not have upward mobility anywhere even close to their home screens.  These noble folks are the masters of forward mobility.

I started hiking north on the AT on my birthday in 2007.  One thing I really enjoy right now is reading my original Trailjournal from that long hike.  I start reading about today on today, just 7 years later.  And over the next few weeks, I wake up and re-read that day’s journal, reliving the past, refreshing my outlook for the coming season.  No thru hikes for me this year, but I am excited about my progress in completing Cary Kish’s “1000 miles of hiking in Maine in one year” challenge.   I put in six more miles today.

 

 

Another birthday- another hike planned. Join me?

Another Nor’easter predicted for tomorrow, I’m not sure who may join me on my birthday hike and sleepover the next day–> Thursday, March 27.

No work on my birthday, the seventh anniversary of the first day of my 2007 thru- hike of the Appalachian Trail (2007).   Marcia usually makes be a great breakfast. This was the spread last year!Double espresso, eggs, croissant, presents!

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!

I have rented the Ski Shelter in the Camden Hills State park for Thursday night.  There’s six bunks in there.  Friends are welcome to stop by and even snag some bedroll space if they want, free. 

I walk from my house across town, my own march to the sea.  It’s a 7 or 8 mile hike, depending on the route.

La, La, la!

There will be plenty of snow when I start out on the abandoned Proctor Road.  I wind my way down through Lincolnville Center, mostly a downhill. Then the climb starts up the Thurlow Road, and onto the abandoned section that crosses Youngtown Road, where it dumps me onto a snowmobile trail that heads up the back side of Cameron Mtn. I may turn left at the base of Cameron Mountain and  link to the Multipurpose trail.

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Two of my friends, Karl Gottshalk and Pat Hurley, came by last year 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!

 

Bubbas Still Staying Up

Six Bubbas attended Sunday’s Church of Two Wheels 10 mile long service in Warren, Maine today.

After the melting snow cover caused me to cut short my plans for a long snowmobile trail ride on Friday, I expected that today would be the same: crumbling patches of ice, mud sections, and that sudden sinking on the front wheel scenario, complete with cockpit ejection over the handlebars. I’m very pleased to say that the subfreezing temps from last night and our 9:30 AM start set things up nice and solid.

For those of you who think that these well-attended winter rides are only suitable for us fat-tire riders, check out this video clip from the ride. Listen to the crunch of the ice beneath the tires while The Hawk comes into view on his Mukluk, closely followed by Rigger and Nate on their 26-inch-tire mountain bikes.

Another Wednesday snowstorm is predicted this week- could be at least 6″ of snow. Winter riding is still going strong in the Midcoast this Spring season.

Hikers! Lose weight, save $$$$ !!

from Outside magazine

from Outside magazine

Weight Loss for Athletic Performance | Nutrition | OutsideOnline.com  <–Click to read original Outside post

I’m actively trimming ounces of gear that lead to one less pound for my 2014 backpacking gear list.   While it’s a standard target for many backpackers to lessen the load they need to haul around, up, and down- I’m even more interested in keeping 15 pounds off my now reduced to 200-pound frame.

At the end of March last year,  I weighed in at 215.  It was less than a month before I was to step away from the Palomas, Mexico border crossing in New Mexico and walk some 2,500 miles over the Rockies to Canada.  I didn’t worry much about my weight, because I knew I’d lose lots of weight, even eating all the high calorie food I could carry.  By the 60th day, somewhere in Colorado, I stepped on the scales and I was down to 184. Pretty remarkable.  Thirty one pounds.

I like to visually imagine this weight thing, and default to a mental image of a pound of fat—-pound of butter, 4 sticks. Fat-butter, yes- they are pretty close in density.  Four times 31 equals 124 sticks of butter being trimmed off my body. Yikes!

I’m yo-yoed through this up and down weight thing before , as have most other folks.  This time I have been able to keep off those last 15 pound that I have said bye-bye to.  I was able to fit into a pair or size 34 pants when I came back to Maine from this last long hike.  I am really pleased to say I can still fit them, and would like to keep it that way.

Why?  Because I am now fitter than I have been in previous winters, even at any age.  I feel it climbing hills on my Pugsley bicycle, which I have been able to ride at least twice a week just about every week this winter.  I have good endurance on longer snowshoe expeditions, and winter hikes.

How have I kept the weight off?  Portion control.  I have always exercised enough, but my lower metabolic rate has always worked against me.  I have a new perspective- EXERCISING IS NOT ENOUGH  FOR ME TO DROP WEIGHT.

One of the factors that has correlated with staying 15 pounds lighter this winter is  not renewing my YMCA gym membership.  I’ve been a gym rat all my life,ever since high school.  No more.  It’s not logical, I just felt it wasn’t right anymore to drive 15 minutes down and then 15 minutes back to work out for an hour.  I stay outside and do things- walking biking, hiking.  I have even vowed to cut my own firewood, and haul and split it myself.

I do have a medicine ball, a stability ball, a set of dumb bells and a program of exercises that I can do in the house if the weather is really bad and I don’t feel like going out.  But it’s the last resort.

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from Jordan Crook (@jordanrcrook)

I give some credit to the Fitbit app that I have on my iPhone 5s as a contributing factor to my weight loss.

It’s free from the App store.  If you own the 5s you no longer have to purchase the $100 wristband to use most of the features of the Fitbit app. Apple’s M7 chip — exclusive to the iPhone 5S (and new models of the iPads) — keeps track of a user’s movements and allows easy retrieval of that data without sacrificing battery life.   Just keeping the iPhone in my pocket allows me track all the motion of my body during the day, which automatically converts to steps, and miles. The app also allows for manual data entry about how many miles biked, etc.  The Fitbit app also allows me to enter everything I eat, and registers calories. It has a vast array of foods already calculated for entry.  Over time, I realized that there aren’t that many varieties of meals and snacks that I eat on a monthly basis- they can be entered and saved for really quick meal/ snack entry.  I like that I am prompted for consumption of a specified amount of daily water- in my case 64 oz.

Intake/ output food calorie is not new.  Ever hear of Weightwatchers?

It’s new for me, and it’s working so far.  Plus I’m saving money that I’d spend on getting those last few ounces off my back, by losing pounds off my stomach.