Mental Prep for Hiking


I have been reading hiker journals lately, including my own. While reading from the Stoic literature, I came upon this quote, from ancient Greece, that captures the essence of my years of hiking and research. Substitute hike for life and you should be good to go. 
“Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well”. -Epictetus, The Handbook (The Encheiridion)

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail – Rodale Press- reblog from PMags.com

An overview of a seminal two-volume set about the early years of the Appalachian Trail. A compendium of some of the first 46 people to travel this storied path.

Source: Hiking the Appalachian Trail – Rodale Press | PMags.com

 

My comment to Mags:

I just happen to be re-reading the same Rodale Press AT set right now. I don’t have my own set, but my sister-in-law and hiker, V8 let me borrow her  books for a reread- my third time.  My favorite story is by Eric Ryback, then a high school student. In the late 70’s I started up a high school program here in Maine where we took disaffected students and put together a drop-out prevention program for them that included a week on the AT in Maine just before they entered high school, and then weekly group therapy, and an English class that featured Eric’s 72 pages of writing. We all went out out for canoeing, backpacking, and skiing trips back along the AT for one weekend outing a month. LLBean and Hurricane Island Outward Bound School assisted us with additional gear and occasional staff.  I needed all the help I could get.   Eventually I met Eric in CA at a PCT event where I was able to thank him for writing that chapter, inspiring me to get young people out into the wilderness and also fund my PCT thru hike completion medal. Thanks so much for an excellent post.  This September I am back out again,  guiding three novice hikers,  through Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. One of them is in his 70’s.  It’s come full circle.  This series opened my eyes once.  I loved what I saw. Still do.

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Fitness Goals Help !

I’m a sucker for fitness goals.

My most recent string began in 2013, when I latched onto Strava. screenshot 9Keeping track of miles became easier more meaningful, for myself, but as well as others, through Strava’s ability to link to our friends’ and families’ runs,  bike rides,  or swims.  Plus, you get a map of each or your outdoor activities. Then there is the data that’s getting added up and enumerated that sometimes ends up in the form of a little gold trophy next to Top Results with something like “Today you broke out a personal record  on the first mile up Rummy Ridge!”  If you have not discovered Strava, then I urge you to give it a try.  You are welcome to follow me, and I would do likewise.

In 2014, Carey Kish published an article about the idea of hiking a thousand miles in Maine in a calendar year. Check!  I had a great time that year, getting out and exploring the Maine back country. Better than the miles were the hundreds of hours I spent navigating along the rough surface of our corner of the USA  while I was getting myself reacquainted with the land of surprisingly unfettered boundaries.

For 2015, My oldest son Lincoln suggested I take on the goal of hiking, running, or biking an hour a day for a whole year.  Sold.  I did that.  My weight has stayed 10 pounds under the usual for over a year now.  I also cancelled my gym membership.

For 2016:  hike 1,000 and bike 1,000 miles in a calendar year.  That’s the deal now.  I have upped my daily average to 75 minutes a day, which is what I think I will need to make this happen.

Mr. Kish is now back from his second thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with his Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, where he identifies 50 of the best trails along the Atlantic Ocean.

50natib0003My wife and I heard Carey present on this book in Rockland a few weeks ago, where I bought my second copy ( I can’t remember who I lent my first copy to.) , and now Marcia has this idea to hike all 50.  We have already visited two new places nearby, Montville’s  Northeastern Headwaters Trail and Belfast’s  Little River Community Trail, and both lived up to Kish’s superlatives.

Wait!   Now there’s this easy way to measure fatigue and to gauge when to back off and take a low intensity workout or a rest day.  Have you heard about heart rate variability training?  I first learned about it this winter from Larry Starr, a local psychologist who uses it to reduce anxiety and stress in his clients.   Check out this recent article from Outside magazine: Is Your Heart Healthy? Ask Your Phone , it’s subtitled Heart-rate apps bring Olympic-caliber recovery to everyone.

Maybe your final takeaway from reading this post is to set a goal or two for this season’s hiking, biking, or swimming season. It has been working for me, keeps things fresh, and just maybe may result in better health, lower weight, or a finely tuned heart.

 

 

 

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My First Bike Commute of the Year

Great read from one of my favorite Maine writers.  It’s a glimpse of the freedom of early morning on a Mt.  Desert Island microadventure. 

maine: the way life turned out

I wake up at 4am and start looking out my French doors into the darkness of my backyard. It should take me about an hour, I keep telling myself, the last time I biked from Bar Harbor to the Parkman lot it took me a hair over an hour. Yet that was a couple years ago, and I am acutely aware of the softness of my body. I had only rode my bike for the first time the evening before, and I worried what I was about to attempt was more a reflection of my ambition than my ability. Part of me just figured my ability would soon catch up to my ambition, and I would just let the two work themselves out.

While I waited for a hint of light, I dressed for as if for a winter’s hike: long underwear, layers of shirts to wick away sweat, and…

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When a Mile and a Half is Enough

My Ice Cream Truck is back from the bike shop.  The big, black, two-wheeled tractor has suited me well on the 10 mile loop that I put together for myself on this Patriot’s Day holiday here in Maine.
The bike went to the shop after my 4.7” 45N Dunderbeist rear tire sported a two inch tear right along the rim line last Thursday night on Ragged Mountain.  It wasn’t my fault. The tire had 161 miles on it.

This

This

I hit nothing that tore it.  It just failed.  Luckily I was not running tubeless. I was sporting a minor bulge, due to the 6 pounds of pressure I had in the tube.
My upgraded tire is the improved version of the Dunderbeist, with the same grippy tread pattern as before, along with additional interior layers of fabric that were added to the sidewall. Under warranty for the next two years, there was also no charge for mounting either.  Thanks, Sidecountry Sports, and 45North for the quick service.   I am ready to roll again.

I continue to be interested in backpacking, hiking, and riding my bike close to home. Since I  have read Microadventures, I have experienced increasing satisfaction in my outdoor recreational activities. I have also been outside almost every day.  The radius of my path today was just a mile and a half, yet it took me thirty-nine years to discover two distinct segments of today’s ride. Yes, I have mountain bike trails from right out my door. I have NEVER seen anyone else riding this loop other than when I  meet up with snowmobile riders, but that might not ever happen some winters.

Here’s one of the views on this ride, this one not 10 minutes ride from my driveway.

Hidden pond

Hidden pond

On the abandoned Martin Corner Road, there are often these large waterholes that linger after any hard rain. Martin  My riding pal Andy Hazen rides though here often. He tells a story about escaping the jaws of a snapping turtle that was hanging out in one of these pools a couple of years ago.

After ascending the steep section of Moody Mountain Road, the middle of this ride is along and around the French Road that runs north along the back side of Moody Mountain toward Levensellar Pond.  This loop is the product of decades of my clearing and connecting the old snowmobile trails.

Here are a couple of shots of an old woods road that loops off the French Road.

Pretty clean

Pretty clean

Headed out

A blow down blocks the trail ahead, where I have cut a go-around that hardly visible to the unschooled eye.

Make no mistake, this loop requires at least two and a half miles of climbing.  After the ascent up to the high point on Moody Mountain Road, the climbing continues along a woods road that almost reaches the ridge above High Street.

One more climb off the Muzzy Ridge Road leads to  a huge blueberry expanse that comes with a view of the Atlantic beyond. FullSizeRender 11

The end of the ride includes three miles of descent, part of which is freshly maintained snowmobile trail that leads off the blueberry field, where it twists and turns its way back down to High Street and then back to my house.  I have been hiking it for a few times before today. This is the first time that I have ridden this segment.  Unfortunately, a new blow down really needs a chain saw to clear it out.  I plan to bring along a small hand saw next time to clear a route around the blow down.

Sometimes, going around is better than forging ahead.

selfie

Thank you,  Strava.

screenshot 2

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Desperate Steps: Life Death, and Choices made in the Mountains of the Northeast- my book review

images-2   Desperate Steps is the late 2015 book release from the Appalachian Mountain Club. The subtitle is “Life, Death, and Choices made in the Mountains of the Northeast”.  I just finished my second close reading.

The book is a sobering account of twenty hiker, swimmer, canoeist, and camper tragedies.  The earliest dates to 1963, when the first of 22 known fatalities was recorded in Baxter State Park.

When I was a young man, and an active member of the University of Massachusetts Outing Club during 1967-197, I faithfully read accounts and critiques about the latest mountaineering and caving tragedies in the pages of Appalachia, a twice-yearly magazine published by the AMC.  The magazine continues a regular feature – “Accidents: Analysis of Incidents in the White Mountains”.  In the Accidents section, experts dissect the actual sequence of events that led to rescues, and frequent death.  I read those stories in order to learn from the mistakes of others in the hope that I would not become an updated statistic.
This book follows that same successful format. The first part of each story includes photos and annotated maps of the actual events. Each account concludes with an Aftermath, where the author, Peter W. Kick, deconstructs, analyzes, and examines the details.  Most of the individuals that survived their ordeals were willing to be interviewed for the book.
Being from Maine, I paid particular attention the four reports of deaths in Baxter State Park.

The publication of this book was timely for me.  In the depths of winter, sitting by the wood stove, I like to read adventure stories that outdoor folks post online.  In fact, it is often difficult to read between the lines and see who is smart, and who is just spouting dumb.

For example, this past winter, I was on a quest to put together the perfectly outfitted day pack. I wanted be ready for most any accident or emergency, even the possibility of having to spend the night outdoors. This book’s Appendix features an updated list of the Ten Essentials, the proven, must-have items for safe back country travel. My own day pack’s final contents were guided by this list.  However, not everyone who ventures into the outdoor world of mysteries and pitfalls believes in carrying a well-stocked day pack.
There is a subset of wilderness adventurers who have taken the concept of going fast and light to extremes. Andrew Skurka came out with the term “stupid light” to describe the practice of sacrificing crucial survival items and comfort levels to shave some weight. Skurka has been named “Adventurer of the Year” by both Outside and National Geographic Adventure, as well as “Person of the Year” by Backpacker.   Here’s Skurka’s original article:  Stupid Light.

I was stunned to read some of the reader comments that I encountered in my research about a proper winter day pack. Here’s one of the most misguided statements, “ I know a lot of people who go out to travel in the wilderness.  Not one of them has even had any serious problem.  You don’t need all that stuff if you know what your are doing out there.”
History permeates the book. The earliest fatalities occurred before many of modern supports were in place, before there were any organized search and rescue (SAR) organizations, when hurricane forecasting was just starting, and when communications were much more limited than today.

One story from 2003 was about the first private person in the USA to buy and activate a personal locator beacon (PLB).  Despite his good intentions, the protagonist ended up requiring not one, but two helicopter rescues out of Adirondack Park in November, while deer hunting out of a canoe. He ended up spending $10,000 after his arrest and imprisonment for two counts of falsely reporting an incident.

The book is grouped into 4 chapters: Unprepared, Know the Route, Taking Risks, and Unexpected.    The final chapter is about Inchworm’s mysterious death 3,000 feet off the AT near Sugarloaf Mountain.  An editor’s note from Oct. 15, 2015 brings the reader to date on locating her skeletal remains, found in a tent within 100 yards of where cadaver scent-trained dogs searched previously.

What’s the take from this book?

Fatigue reigns high. Baxter’s records indicate that most exhaustion cases occur while descending, with the majority of fatalities resulting from medical emergencies. The age group most requiring Search and Rescue is 60 and above.

The book was required reading for this Maine Guide, and should be studied by any person who puts a pack on their back or in their canoe and ventures out into the wilds of the Northeastern USA.

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Ancient Indian Highways in Knox County- Kerry Hardy- April 10 | Camden Public Library

Local historian and cultural anthropologist, Kerry Hardy,  is giving a presentation at the Camden Library.  Hardy’s topic will be the old Indian highways and roads of the early days in Knox County.

Matt Silerio, Tom Jamrog, and Rosey Gerry “Some of my co-conspirators for the field trips required by this hobby,” said Kerry Hardy, “are Matt Silverio (L) and Tom Jamrog (R) in background; Rosey Gerry in foreground, on a mid-winter trip up around Zeke’s Lookout in Camden Hills State Park.”

Hardy is the author of Notes on a Lost Flute: A Field Guide to the Wabanaki.    Hardy’s topic will be the old Indian highways and roads of the early days in Knox County. Hardy brings together his expertise in forestry, horticulture, and environmental science to tell us about New England when its primary inhabitants were the native Wabanaki tribes.

In addition to his work on Indians of this region, Hardy is part of a local group which has been studying early paths and roads of this area, and their relation to settlement and subsequent land use patterns. Come hear his discussion of those roads and how they relate to the present day.

Hardy’s book and lectures are presented in an entertaining and accessible style, making them of interest and useful to adults and students alike.

Source: Upcoming Events Camden-Rockport Historical Society Hosts Kerry Hardy April 10 | Camden Public Library

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