Surprised at the continued presence of the ice and snow on the trails in Camden Hills State park.
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).
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.
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.
Check out this brief, super cool trailer for Jester’s new hiking feature film.
Embrace the Brutality is a feature length documentary that follows a group of hikers as they attempt to thru-hike the entire Continental Divide Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, a bit of Idaho, and Montana.
The website for the film, EmbraceTheBrutality.com, is not yet live. Until it goes up you can find updates on the release date, screenings, and other good stuff by liking the ETB Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Embrace-the-Brutality-A-Continental-Divide-Trail-Adventure/522214734486256
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:
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.
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.
After 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. !
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, 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 !
In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.
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.
Dateline: Spring Brook, Camden Hills State Park, Camden, ME
The normally staid water bottle, AKA Tiki- Man, barely survived a harrowing fall into the rushing, frigid Class V rapids along Spring Brook on March 16, 2013, in Midcoast Maine.
When Tenzing was getting refills for multiple water bottles near the bloated culvert containing Spring Brook, Tiki-man leapt from his hand into the raging torrent.
While Tiki-man remained collected, Tenzing became gravely distraught about the situation.Tiki-man was engulfed by the torrent that quickly propelled him under the multi-purpose road above. In panic mode, Tenzing scrambled up the embankment, only to become further frantic as he realized that the revered, purple, and ( at times) luminescent head was no where to be seen.
Glancing straight down the side of the road to the surface of the maelstrom below, Tiki-man was sighted, in an immobilized state within the backwaters of an eddy, but beyond human reach. Tenzing leaped into rescue mode, and quickly fashioned a three-pronged branch, that he used to dislodge and release Tiki man, only to realize that the valiant water bottle was facing yet another harrowing scoot down the icy water.
Tiki-man courageously traversed at a diagonal across the channel, where he eventually struggled to maintain a tentative hold on the far-side shore.
At this point, Tiki-man was clearly up against very thin ice.
The three-pronged stick guided Tiki-man past this last challenge into a still pool, where he was airlifted to safety by the selfsame stick.
Most importantly, Tiki-Man lived to tell the tale. He described his dunking as the most harrowing experience that he has ever been through.
Tiki-man is a seasoned, 6 year old water bottle. Tiki-Man has recently become increasingly despondent at his persistent failure to lose enough weight to qualify him as an ultralight backpacking accessory. He occasionally mumbles about being teased as “a bloated relic” by Platypi and even the young upstart plastic soda bottles.
The colorful character has risen through the ranks of backpacking water bottles through his persistent dedication to thru-hiker hydration.
A veteran of three National Scenic Trails, Tiki man has endured unparalleled adventures on the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Vermont’s Long Trails.
The closest the battered water bottle had come to the slag heap of also-ran hiker gear was in 2007, when he was dropped from a day pack on the AT and left for dead in a crevice between a rock and a hard place. Extracted from his impending tomb by a hiker named Big Sky, the revived Tiki-Man survived a dark passage through the US Postal Service, adorned with a mere one dollar and thirty-two cent stamp and a tattered Uncle Tom address label.
Undaunted by his early morning sub-freezing soak today, Tiki- man bucked up, and settled into place in the backpack, where the wizened vessel supplied his human partner, Uncle Tom, with hydration on a long winter day hike in the Camden Hills.
Hey, ma, I’m in the news!
Uncle Tom’s Triple Crown attempt.<—check it out!
I had no idea that Guthook had saved these pics of me when we hiked together in Washington state in 2010.
The first pic hardly looks like me, because I weigh about as much as I did when I was 14 years old. I had lost 33 pounds, hovering at about 180. At this point I was crumbling up Pringles from two big tubes and pouring the them into one tube. I adding them to my lunches and dinners in an effort to stop losing so much weight.
Thru-hiking is the world's most unique weight loss program. You get to have fun, most every day, see the USA, and eat whatever you want, all day, every day. Can't wait!
“Uncle Tom, why are you wearing boots? “ – One of the Kiwis, at Third Gate on the PCT (2010)
“I’m curious about your choice of shoes. Comment please…”- Dennis on tjamrog.wordpress.com (3/2/2013)
You’ll see a fairly regular number of hikers wearing boots on the Appalachian Trail. You won’t see many boots worn by long-distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. I bet I’ll be the only long-distance hiker wearing boots on the Continental Divide Trail this season.
Here are some of the reasons from today’s Google about boot shunning, mostly from hikers on Whiteblaze.com:
Boots are considered so old-school as to be relegated to the slag heap of slide rulers and hand-held calculators that cost $50. They are considered unnecessary, and so heavy that they are a sysiphean drag on the energy required to lift each foot. They don’t dry out as fast as lighter, fabric trail runners. They supposedly “reduce blood circulation” (therefore your feet won’t be as warm than if they were in trail runners). Boots, ”increase the chance of ankle injury by masking features in the terrain that would turn an ankle”. Boots cost too much to replace when your feet grow on a thru-hike ( compared to trail runners). Gore-tex and other membrane boots don’t stay waterproof for long (Thru hiking “abuses the membrane” through dirt, sweat, and body oil….in as little as 45 days.)
Here’s an answer (whiteblaze.com) that begs critical analysis – “I thru hiked with boots. I had no issues with ankle support. ..Boots kept me from spraining or injuring my ankle”. This answer illustrates the generalization fallacy, illustrated by substituting one word to change the statement to, “ I thru hiked with sandals. I had no issues with ankle support. Sandals kept me from spraining or injuring my ankles”.
People do complete thru hikes in minimalist footwear. In fact, I saw a barefoot thru hiker on September 13 this year on the summit of Katahdin. It was this guy:
He swears in this most interesting blog entry, “I will never wear hiking boots again.”
Few plusses are found for boots: Boots provide “ankle support”, “keep feet cleaner”, protect if something heavy falls or whacks against your foot, and are, “more durable”. Here’s a durablility dreamer, “Do I want a pair that will see me through this hike and others in the years ahead?” Obviously from someone who is still contemplating a thru-hike.
So why buck the current trend?
History–> I started the AT in boots that were highly recommended to me from experienced staff up at Winterport Boot shop. They sold me a pair of Merrill Phaser Peaks
In 2007, I began to get blisters within a week of hiking in Georgia, and some of the people I was hiking with encouraged me switch to ventilated trail runners, so I went to a pair of New Balance, and the blisters stopped. I then switched to Inov-8’s in Virginia with Superfeet insoles that took me all the way to Maine. Unfortunately that combo left me with nerve damage and low-grade left forefoot pain. Despite physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, medication, custom orthotics, and consulting the best sports podiatrist in Maine, I’m still affected. It hasn’t gotten any better, but is no worse, even after two more thru hikes.
I was ready to start the PCT in April of 2010 in Asics Gel Trabucos when my brother Roy, who works as a costing manager for New Balance, told me that NB had just acquired a Vermont company, On the Beach, that manufactures military and tactical footwear.
“You are going to hiking in the desert, right? These are the exact boots worn by Navy Seals in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can get you a pair to try out.”
Long story short, I received free New Balance Tactical 802 boots for whole 2,700 miles, where I encountered NO blisters.
I did jump up to a size 14, with PLENTY of room in the forefoot, that ensured my toes were not able to rub when I walked.
That, plus 2 pair of thin merino wool micro-crew Cushion Darn Tough socks that survived the whole trip. There is no finer hiker deal than Darn Tough. There is NO other manufacturer whose hiking socks last like Darn Tough, and even better, the $20 that you spend on a pair is a lifetime deal. Made in Vermont. “If you wear these socks out, we’ll replace them. Free of charge. No questions asked.” It’s true, I have 2 new pair of replaced Darn Tough socks for the CDT.
People get blisters on the PCT, even General Lee, who is usually blister free, but whose feet succumbed to the volcanic grit that was present in Northern California and Oregon.
I now hike three seasons in the Bushmasters, now renamed the NB Tactical 802, which also allowed me a blister free completion of Vermont’s Long Trail (2011).
I like being free of blisters. The boots ventilate exceedingly well, and this trip starts in the Chihuahuan desert in New Mexico. After they are soaked from rain or stream crossings, they dry our very quickly. The specialized Vibram soles wear and grip nicely. The laces don’t wear. They are fairly light, and don’t have any metal in them, which is a military consideration. They weigh 1.5 pounds each, where my Inov-8’s with Superfeet insoles weigh 1 pound each. No big deal.
My beef with the boots continues to be the exposed stitching on the toe and heel cups. I went through 4 pair on the PCT and in each case, the stitching rubbed through, and made a hole between the plastic cup and and fabric where debris entered, and the separations increased, primarily on the toe cups. I communicated my concerns back to NB. The primary manager for these particular boots assured me that there would be a design modification in future factory runs of the boot that would recess and then cover these areas, but it hasn’t happened yet.
My brother Roy has helped me to secure five new pairs of Tactical 802′s for this trip. One pair was free, and the other four were sold to me for 60% discount, with free shipping.
This time, I’m coating the toe and heel stitching with a sealant, probably more than one thin coat. Auntie Mame will send them to me when I need them.
That’s why I wear boots. These boots work for me, but as Auntie Mame so perceptively put, “You could also call them ankle height trail runners.” Enough already.
Soon it will time to “Stop Talking, Start Walking”