No Power, No Problem!

The electricity has been out for about an hour and a half, with no idea when we’re going to get it back. I needed coffee so I got out my Four Dog Stove Bushcooker LT1, fired it up in alcohol mode, boiled up some water, then poured it through my MSR filter within my Daybreak Cafe mug ( from Goose Bay, Labrador) settled into that quiet, satisfied place on this last day of 2011. Sometimes being a hiker helps.


High Street’s answer to Maine road bike

Here’s a shot of two 1986 cro-moly steel framed bicycles that my next door neighbor Andy Hazen and I have rebuilt. The frames on my Diamondback Apex and his Nishiki were stripped and professionally repainted. Brakes are original cantilever. Seats and shifters upgraded, and while I retained the original front dereilleur, the triple front Biopace chain rings are history. The rear dropouts were spread out and resized to accept a modern 8 speed hub. Our roads are so rutted and decrepit that I welcome the softer ride this frame provides, compared to the all aluminum Cannondale that now sits unused in a shed. My pearl green Apex is what I use several times a week. I predict this type of setup will become more popular as the current crop of young bike Turks begins to frequent the Advil section of the drug stores.

Note: On the same day that I published this post, I received this photo from Scott, reader who also just completed a rebuild on his own 1986 Diamondback Apex. A beautiful restoration, all set for touring and/or commuting. Note fenders, Brooks leather saddle, and handlebar mounted light.

Christmas Eve hike 2011

I’m a huge fan of the clam. That, plus lobster is on the menu tonight.
Plenty to wrap up today, lots of little things to take care of, against a backdrop of stoking the woods stove in the living room- it’s been cold and windy today,just 12 degrees out as I put together this post.
Managed a three and a half mile hike up to the blueberry field and over toward Levensellar Pond from the house just before lunch.

Approaching blueberry barrens from woods hike
The snowmobile trail I used to get up and around there was untouched , with about 3-4″ of fresh snow from yesterday.
Did I mention how much I am enjoying using Motion-X GPS program with my iPhone 4S? Here’s a map of my hike, created instantly with the program, with the data on times, and elevation, etc.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Elapsed Time: 1:13
Avg Speed: 2.9 mph
Max Speed: 4.4 mph
Min Altitude: 455 ft
Max Altitude: 735 ft:

While on the hike. I reminisced about what a fantastic year it was, thought about the friends that I share my adventures with, and counted so many blessings that came my way.
I hope for more Peace, for all of us.

White Bike, Black Night

Surly enough for ME

The excitement today was two rides on my new bicycle.
I am the proud owner of a white 29″ Surly Pugsley, a snow bike you’ve probably never seen. The tires are huge- 4″ wide mounted on 4″ wide rims. I had just 14 pounds of pressure I them and was bouncing a bit, so will drop that pressure on firm ground like the frozen bare earth we have here right now. Despite the 35 pound weight of the bike, I climbed more quickly that usual on this ride. Not sure why, maybe the larger 29″ tires, maybe I had some mojo tonight. It’s really fun to ride this thing.  The ride was mostly and up and back, nothing technical, except the descent off of the top of Cameron Mountain, which was steep but too rocky. Just before I went up the mountain I also rode down and around Tanglewood 4H Camp.
I’m posting data and a photo that were easy to pull from the $1.99 Motion-X GPS app I downloaded to my new iPhone 4S. The app rocks- push and go, also has direct buttons for taking photos with the iPhone and running my iTunes while riding or hiking.   The night ride back down aided by my Turbocat lighting system. This complete post was put together directly from my iPhone, including photo, GPS data, and Google map. By the way, the controls and the terrain options work on the map. Try it. Anyone know how to link to some tunes that I listened to on the ride?

Cameron Mountain
Date: Dec 20, 2011 3:45 pm
Distance: 5 miles
Elapsed Time: 45:25.5
Avg Speed: 6.5 mph
Max Speed: 23.6 mph
Min Altitude: 329 ft
Max Altitude: 875 ft
Start Location:
Latitude: 44.280082º N
Longitude: 69.044607º W
End Location:
Latitude: 44.280106º N
Longitude: 69.044716º

Bubbas meet The Hosers in Frigid Conditions

Today witnessed the confluence of two mountain biking groups, one from Rockland, the other hailing from Bath, ME. For those of you from southern, milder climes, this was an excellent but frigid, day to be riding bicycles in the woods.  The record breaking rains in Maine this year have left the trails and backwater sodden and swampy, but today, after two full days of sub-freezing temperatures, the ground is frozen enough to allow bicycles to stay on top. It was only 15 degrees or so outside, with a bit of snow was on the ground. As Eric and I drove to Bath, ME, we knew that once we were moving along and churning out revolutions, we’d stay warm enough to have a good time out there.
The ride started from the YMCA parking lot in Bath, ME at 10 AM. In addition to the cold, there was a steady refrigerated breeze inducing a deeper wind chill to the already shocking experience.  The only way my toes and fingers survived the ride was with chemical heat packets inside my mittens and winter riding shoes.
The ride was made possible my MeGaTex’s own General Tso, AKA Steve Kilburn, who knows all the trails in this area like the back of his hand.

Steve and Tom

Steve is the fastest, most athletic mountain biker than I personally know. He picked out a 12 mile ride that took us over rocks, pine needle, and bridges to places that even hikers wish they could experience.  We rode alongside tidal inlets, bays, and coves, up and over hills and dips that we always fun, and when we came down a steep cliff face it was  challenging beyond my imagination.

Bubbas at rare rest stop

I was really pleased that nine Bubbas made this ride under these cold conditions.  It’s not the type of thing normal people would even consider. There was  treachery wherever you turn.
I myself forgot that you can’t make a turn on smooth ice, and went down hard on my left hip early in the ride. Nate was right behind me, but couldn’t stop , so my body served as a bumper for his own front tire while I was lying on the ground. Much later, when I was flagging, I took a fall off a bridge.  Well, not really a bridge. It was a ice and snow encrusted 2 x 6 elevated over a small stream, a situation that would be challenging to stay on in dry conditions.  I ended up doing an endo- the rear of the bike pivoting over my hear while I was busy cushioning a face plant with my heavily mittened hands. I was wrapped up in the bike, while the rear wheel was jammed under the bridge. Nate to the rescue again.
This was a ride 99% dominated by testosterone males, with one skewed Hoser (Forrest Carver) wearing shorts.  A shout out to Amanda was well, the only female that all of Rockland and Bath could muster, who graced us boys with her impressive strength and biking skills. Later at the Cabin, she made my day complete by bringing along the littlest Hoser, three month old Evan.  Tso said he’s mostly laying down still, but at least he’s pumping his legs and working out-  ready to join us sometime in the future.
Here’s the map of the ride.
View Larger Map

“SteriPEN: Pure Genius” -Bangor Daily News

SteriPEN Opti

One of the most dependable pieces of gear that I have used daily for a cumulative total of over 365 days, and 5,000 miles of backpacking on my three thru-hikes is the Steripen. I’ve used my yellow Adventurer for the past four years.   I have recently received an upgrade from Hydro-Photon up to the Adventurer Opti model, which I plan to use on all future hikes.  I also use my Steripen to purify drinking water that I draw from the pond where our Maine camp is located. I’m pleased that the company that makes the device still is based in Blue Hill, ME. I have hiked with several people who also used Steripens, which depend on several key factors to operate properly.

First, the Opti’s use CR123 batteries which are not easy to find in remote locations.  When you do locate them in hardware or drug stores they are generally priced between $8 to $10.  Whoa!  I get mine in a 12 pack at LL Bean’s here in Maine for about $20, and other online sources have them even cheaper. All lithium  photo batteries, including these CR123’s, have a shelf life of 8 to 10 years, so you can buy in bulk. Past models were reported to draw tiny amounts of current when stored, so it is important to remove the batteries when the unit is not taking an adventure with  you.  Before a trip I check each battery that I intend to use with a digital voltmeter to be sure they are robust.  I then write the date that I checked the battery with a indelible marker so that I remember which is fully charged before a trip.  With fresh batteries I get about two and a half week’s worth of use, purifying an average of 6 quarts a day. Another trick I’ve learned is to use the emery board that I have in my first aid  kit to abrade the batteries’ contacts so that any residual film picked up in my pack can be removed before use.

The second thing I monitor ( and this is with the previous model of the Steripen Adventurer)  is the two metal electrodes that have to be submerged for the unit to operate.   I find they are sensitive to moisture. They definitely need to be dried off between sequential, multiple uses, but they also can fault if you are in humid or rainy conditions, like I experienced on my Long Trail thru-hike in Vermont this past August.  When the dreaded red right comes on, I assume it is due to lingering moisture on those electrodes and when that happens, I clean the electrodes with a dry cotton bandanna.  I find that some synthetic fabrics are so water resistant that they don’t pick up the residual moisture on the electrodes.  Anyhow, I can’t wait to use the new, optically triggered Adventurer, and now there’s an even lighter 2.6 oz. model that is coming on the market.

Today’s Bangor Daily News has the following to say about HYdro-Photon and their Steripens:

Blue Hill outdoorsman-inventor paves the way to safe water, any time, anywhere
Article in Bangor Daily News by Aislinn Sarnacki in December 15, 2011  Outdoors
The power of the sun inspired one Maine resident to invent the SteriPEN, a handy gizmo that was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 All-Time Gadgets, a list of “the greatest and most influential gadgets from 1923 to the present.”

The SteriPEN, a compact water purifier, is usually found in sports stores, outfitters and airports. And unless you’re an avid traveler or backpacker, you’ve probably never heard of it, even though the company headquarters and research hub is located in Blue Hill.

“It’s listed right there with the Apple iPod and Velcro and the Jarvik artificial heart,” said SteriPEN inventor Miles Maiden during a recent interview. Moreover, online reviewers rated SteriPEN as the No. 1 gadget of the entire list.

Maiden grew up on Cape Cod and graduated from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, where he became interested in solar power.

“I became interested in the ultraviolet side of things,” said Maiden. A dedicated outdoorsman, he started to experiment with how UV light could be used make water safer to drink — water being one of the essentials in enjoying the wilderness.

While working in solar research after college, he invented SteriPEN, a handheld device that uses UV light to purify water. Soon after, he founded Hydro Photon Inc. in 1997, and today he acts as the company’s CEO and chief technology officer.

The SteriPEN looks like a chunky pen, but when you take off the cap and turn it on, it’s more like a miniature Star Wars light saber, which has intimidated more than a few rugged outdoorsmen.

The device may seem high-tech, but UV technology has been used to purify water for more than 100 years and is currently used to purify drinking water in some of the largest cities in the world. Furthermore, SteriPEN products has received the Water Quality Association’s Gold Seal.

To purify water, just stick the wand in a bottle of water and stir it around for about a minute (the amount of time depends on the model and the amount of water you’re purifying). The UV rays destroy 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium, which can make people dangerously sick if ingested.

“I’ve spent a fair bit of time in parts of the world where you really wouldn’t think to drink the water out of the tap. So it’s been very handy in those types of places,” said Maiden, who continues to bring SteriPEN models on hiking and camping trips despite his busy schedule.

As stated on the SteriPEN website, only three-tenths of one percent of the Earth’s water can be used by humans. Other ways to improve water quality include chemical treatment and filtration.

“If I look at the alternatives, drinking active chemicals, to me, isn’t something I personally want to do,” Maiden said.

Also, chemical treatments sometimes don’t kill cryptosporidium and giardia, which have thick shells. UV light kills them easily, said Maiden. “And you don’t end up with something that tastes like a swimming pool,” he added.

And while quality water filtration units do get rid of microbes and cysts, smaller viruses slip right through filters. SteriPEN, on the other hand, attacks viruses with photons. In other words, it destroys viruses regardless of size.

For more than a decade, the company has continued to grow. For Maiden, innovation means increasing functionality and lowering the cost of his products. Over the years, he has released several SteriPEN models to fit the needs and budgets of a variety of travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Classic SteriPEN, once priced at about $100, now costs just $60. Then there is the Sidewinder, powered by a crank; the Journey, with a LCD screen with an automatic timer and battery reader; the Traveler, which fits into commercial water bottles; and the 3.6-ounce Adventurer Opti, with a water sensor and LED flashlight. This tiny device won “Editor Choice 2011” in “Backpacker Magazine.”

But it’s the recently released SteriPEN Freedom that steals the spotlight and has earned a spot in “Gear of the Year 2011” by “Men’s Journal.” It is the lightest, smallest and most technologically advanced SteriPEN yet. At 5.1 inches long, it weighs in at 2.6 ounces. It can be charged by a USB cable, like a cellphone, or can be solar charged. And it doesn’t require buttons because it’s motion-activated. And it was all designed by his talented crew in Blue Hill.

But Maiden isn’t willing to pause and bask in the company’s recent success.

“I think in the future we’ll be looking at incorporating a wider range of treatments so we can also remove the turbidity in water as well and address chemical contaminants,” he said.

And Hydro-Photon Inc. is already pioneering technology involving light-emitting diodes, more commonly known as LEDs.

“LEDs are really neat devices for a whole bunch of reasons — you probably know them from flashlights. But ultraviolet LEDs are being developed and still aren’t ready for the commercial world,” Maiden said.

In 2004, Hydro-Photon Inc. became the first company in the world to show an effective use of ultraviolet LEDs in water purification. Though usually they conduct all research in-house, they worked with the University of Maine in the LED research, funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Maiden predicts that LEDs will eventually displace ultraviolet lamps because of their low cost and higher efficiency.

And the majority of product testing has been conducted A & L Laboratory in Auburn, and University of Maine labs in Orono and Portland. While the company’s retail products are manufactured overseas, their new military models are made at Elscott Manufacturing in Gouldsboro, or “right down the road,” as Maiden put it. The two army-green SteriPENs are called the Defender and the Protector.

Though the SteriPEN is now sold in more than 60 countries, Maiden has remained in Maine, where his fascination with the sun’s power was cultivated.

For information, visit   Article taken from Bangor Daily News

Mission Accomplished: Occupy Mountaintops

When I sent out the call for local hikers to convene at the top of Bald Rock Mountain to view the 4:10 PM full moon rise last Saturday night, I concluded with the statement, “Many are called, but few are chosen”.  I didn’t expect many to show.  Man, was I wrong.  I saw, or heard from 28 people who got to the top of some mountain that night.  Here is a guest entry from my hiking partner Tenzing:
“Inspired by Uncle Tom AKA Jah-Opie Jamrog’s call to occupy mountaintops for Saturday’s full moon, I traveled up to Lincolnville Center, Maine to help him occupy Bald Rock Mountain in Camden Hills State Park Saturday night.   While we were the only two to spend the night up there, UT enticed another 10 people to join us for the moonrise and then yet another 10-12 after dark who hiked up “up” to visit!

Suzanne and Ian

Night time temps dropped into the low teens, but the old shelter kept us out of the wind and lots of layers inside my sleeping bag kept me pretty comfortable.

Tenzing at the Lean-To

Special thanks to Uncle Tom who cooked breakfasts for us while I photographed the sunrise.

Uncle Tom cooking breakfast

We started out with the traditional “drop the packs at Dave’s”, drop my vehicle at Steven’s Corner before slack packing from Tom’s home to Dave’s with lunch at the Drake’s Corner store.   At Dave’s we carefully shouldered our heavy packs and headed up Thurlow Road including the abandoned section before entering the Park.
The Cameron Mountain Trail was a short climb from the road and was recently regraded and basically a small road which we followed 1.4 miles to the Bald Rock Mountain Trail.   another 0.8 miles and we reached Saturday’s destination- the upper lean-to at the top of Bald Rock Mountain.

Tenzing and Tom

We arrived at 3:00 PM and took 45 minutes to gather firewood and set up camp before heading to the outlook over the beautiful islands of Maine for the moonrise.   In bed about 9:30 PM and up at 6:00. We hiked out back to Steven’s Corner at about 8:00 AM when we drove over to Tanglewood 4-H Camp for another quick 2 miles of walking in the woods and where we visited Turner Falls along the Ducktrap River.   A great weekend and thanks to our wives for supporting our expedition(s).  Here’s  My Facebook album for this trip. ”

Additional tidbits follow:
There were two classic quotes that I’d like to share from the hike:

Tenzing notes, “If you only go up for a day, you gotta beat yourself up a bit.”  Tenzing estimated that his pack weighed 60 pounds, and he might have been correct.  Between us, we probably humped up 100 pounds after each of us filled 3 quarts of water from the stream up at the end of the Cameron Mountain Trail. I humped up a saw, a chair, a knife, down booties, multiple packs of hand and foot warmers, and lots of warm clothing, things I don’t normally carry in my backpack.  Clarkie had a heavier chair, enough kielbasa to feed a basketball team, plus containers of condiments, beer, and a mini tripod.

Another Tenzing jem- “Man, these women in Maine are something else, you are not going to find any woman in New Hampshire that would be hiking up here in the dark and cold after a dinner date.”  This one had to do with our last visitors, a group of two couples that were skittering their way down the big ledge above the lean-to sometime around 9 PM.  I’m talking about Pat Hurley and his girlfriend Martha.

Karen and Bill hiked up the wrong mountain. They hiked up Bald Mountain off the Barnestown Road.  Chip and Cindy ran out of time, and hiked up Beech Hill instead.  John and Ann decided to walk up a less treacherous footpath and walked up Mt. Battie, where they witnessed the lighting of the giant Christmas star on top of the tower.

Next full moon will be on Monday Jan. 9, 2012.  ??????

Full moonrise


The mystery of where along the ocean’s horizon the December moon would rise gripped the twelve of us up here this afternoon. It was more to the east than I expected. Ten left and now Tenzing and I are here with mats and pads in the lean-to, after consuming grilled fresh homemade kielbasa, rolls, and Gritty’s Christmas Ale. Hot drinks and Brad Bars for dessert. We’re very blessed to be here now.