“Rush of adrenaline at Camden Snow Bowl”

One local trail was featured in the statewide Portland Press Herald this week.  Since the 3″ deluge two weeks ago, and Hurricane Sandy today, I thought I’d post an update about local mountain biking conditions, but first read the article :

Rush of adrenaline at Camden Snow Bowl | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

First off, it’s not going to look like this anymore- the leaves have been blasted off all the trees.  Second,  local trail building advocate and tireless mountain biking enthusiast is John ( not Jeff) Anders.  And yes, the chairlift won’t be taking riders to the top anymore this season, as the facility switches over to preparation for winter skiing.  You can get up there, for sure, but you have to ride ( or push) your bike up 800 vertical feet and a mile of trail or hike straight up the T-bar run to get to the top.  It’s real work to get up there.

It also should be noted that this new down hill trail  ( officially named as Dreadnought) is probably closed right now, due to the combined effects of a 3″ rainfall last week and the effects of Hurricane sandy that is running through there as I write this entry.  Here is a photo from Oct. 26

Insipid effects of flowing water

It’s clear from the follow up Facebook comments on the New England Mountain Bike Assn, Midcoast Maine (McNEMBA) pages that there will have to be serious drainage work done come spring on Dreadnought, but for the time being, there’s plenty of trail to like at the Snow Bowl.

Here’s a link to the map, for first time visitors.

The good news is that there are viable biking and hiking trails all over the Snow Bowl right now, although you are advised to wear hunter orange clothing, as hunting is still allowed on parts of the trail system. I rode there this past week. The alternate trail from the top that is depicted in the lead photo is surprisingly solid, the link trail over to Five Bridges is still swoopy, and the Five Bridges was so well built ( John Anders and co.) that any mud out there is minimal.

Darkness and the deer hunters

You’d think that I’d be packing a headlamp after writing about night hiking in the the past two blog entries-  But no.
I’ve been hiking some Friday afternoons with my friend Frank for the past few months, and took him up on his invite again yesterday.  He let me pick  the place so I suggested we go up the Highland Path on the west side of Ragged Mountain, from Route 17.

Ragged Route

The light would stay with us for a longer time than if we would be on the east side of the big hills around here.

I forgot that it is an 800’ climb, followed by return on the same steep sections, that the trail would be obscured by a thick layer of fallen leaves, and that taking Jody, the dog, would slow things down a bit.

Ragged Summit panorama, looking west

The view from the top was stunning, as were the illuminated flags of color that still remain on the trees.

Starting up at 3:30 PM, I had neglected to check to see that sunset was at 5:30 PM.  When we rolled back to the lot, it was 6 PM, and dangerously close to dark.  I had a tiny flashlight with me that could have illuminated the path enough for us to get back, but I learned my lesson, and will keep a headlamp with fresh batteries in my day pouch for next time.  Both Frank and I agreed that we humped along at 3.5 MPH on the last mile to make it out in time.  I half-turned my ankle on a hidden rock, and while it didn’t in any way screw up my ankle, it was a reminder that travel outside is changing as we approach Halloween.

Deer hunting season with rifles is officially open tomorrow morning at daybreak.  The woods will not be ours for a while, as it is too dangerous to be wandering around in the backcountry, even wearing a hunter orange vest. The deer hunters get to go outside until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when it will be safe to roam around back in the far away places again.

At least Sundays are “no hunting” days.

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.


Sunday Morning at the Church of Two Wheels

Most Sunday mornings find me connecting my soul to the expansive universe – on a bicycle. Today saw the last of the peak foliage here in coastal Maine, and what better a day to view the finality of color than by climbing 800′ (in one mile)  to the top of Ragged Mountain with a pack of Bubbas to see the sights.

Going, going, soon to be gone!

I’ve not yet been able to piece together an actual ride to the top- at most I have been able to ride just a third of the trail to the top.  It doesn’t matter, I get there-  and most of the time I’m faster walking up there than most of the riders.

I did a lot of hiking this Fall- by backpacking and enjoyed several trips to Baxter State Park and the Appalachian Trail in the past two months.  Right now, it’s so much fun to bike.

We had two inches of rain on Saturday, and there is this new downhill trail that was built here this summer, but a couple of sections will be filled with water today , so we decided to choose the traditional descent which turned out to be surprisingly solid, with no mud pits at all.

There’s treachery around every turn, as Chris found out today when he found his face planted upon a rock that threw him off his Rocky Mountain 29er.  It happens.  I am sure to wear elbow and knee protection when I ride Ragged.  Most days, they earn their cost.

Chris coming back around

I hope to get in two more rides this week, on Tuesday and Thursday.  It’s going to be cold and snowy soon, and attendance at the Church will be under different conditions.  But today was superb

  Here’s a shot of Nate and Rigger, as we regroup for the descent.

The Cathedral

The Ragged Mountain Trails delivered once again. It’s going to be a great week!

My review- “Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail”

Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author received the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Award for 2012, holds the current speed record holder for thru-hiking Appalachain Trail (2011), and is also a compelling writer. I could not put this book down, and read it in one day.
How is it that this book isn’t more widely read?
How can it be that this book is absent on bookshelves in stores, while “Wild”, Cheryl Strayed’s account of a partial 1100 mile hike from 1995 on the Pacific Crest Trail is now known by practically everyone in America?
It’s got to be politics and marketing.
I first heard about “Wild” sometime early in 2012, in a brief paragraph in Outside Magazine, focused on the fact that Knopf published an initial 100,000 hardbound copies of the $26 book. Outside questioned how a book about hiking could reach that number, suggesting that they may not have even read it themselves. How could they? In early March, I scooted over to Amazon to check it out, where I learned that the book had not even been released to the pubic ! I didn’t rate Wild very highly, because it wanted to read a book about backpacking, which doesn’t appear in Wild until you’ve reached page 100. My own Goodreads review of that book is here http://wp.me/pa3BR-LZ .

But enough with Wild, this is a much better book, a book that stands on its own as a personal account of what it is like to experience the Appalachian Trail, and also to grow up.

Jennifer Davis was a complete novice when she completed her first thru-hike of the AT in 2005. At the time, she had never never slept alone, nor had she ever ate alone a restaurant. She endured far more discomfort than was necessary, due to her lack of knowledge about what to do out there. Farr Davis is believable, you feel for her loneliness, discomfort, and her considerable triumph.

To see what has become of her after her perseverance, visit her website at http://blueridgehikingco.com/about-bl…. Odyssa is living her dream.
View all my reviews

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 ?

Pugsley’s Fall Spectacle

I took another foray into bicycling improvisation today. I was all set to ride with the Bubbas tonight, as I try to do most every Tuesday and Thursday nights, however, this week, it’s officially dark when we ride, so I depend on the assistance of couple of high intensity lighting systems- one on my helmet and the other on my handlebar to illuminate the muddy, rooted, and rocky terrain of the Rockland Bog.

However, we have this unique situation here today. It’s peak Fall foliage season, and the Maine Foliage Report notes that the world-class views from Mounts Battie and Megunticook will be at peak for just three more days. Those views are of the baby blue Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the most dazzling display of reds, yellows, and orange leaves that I remember in quite some time. Like this:


At 3 PM I headed out the door on my fat-tire Pugsley, grunted my way up the always challenging climb up Moody Mountain, and then turned into the forest. Surprise #1 was the recently bush-hogged logging road off French Road South. After sliding under the gate, waist-high crop of weeds that had been there the last time I went up were trimmed close to the ground.The traveling was so much easier, but the climb resumed. At the high point I detoured onto a nearly indistinguishable thread of a trail that then linked me to a snowmobile trail that wound its way through my friend Steve’s land. I followed this trail surrounded by the splendor of red, yellow and orange all around me and under my four inch wide tires. I kept my hands off the brakes and had quite a light show that rushed by my peripheral vision. I was riding inspired, and cleared a rocky section- a devastated stream bed that had been churned up by a four-wheeled drive truck a long time ago. I had NEVER been able to do this section until today. Later I lifted the front wheel of the Pugs, and ran up the steep side of another quickly running stream. I decided to extend the ride by detouring to the high point of a huge blueberry field where I could look out at the Atlantic. On the way down I cleared a section of trail where the path left a woods road, ran over a stone wall, and snuck back to High Street, where I rode another mile back to the house.
Here’s the ride, thanks to Strava:

Moody Mountain, Searsmont/Lincolnville, Maine line

Last Night’s Stove Workshop Filled !

I’d like to thank Tim Dresser and his Five Towns’ Adult Education Department for providing a means for 7 people to build their own multi-fuel backpacking stoves last night in Camden, Maine.

We’ve Made a Stove!

We reviewed the history of these types of stoves, flame path efficiency, relative merits of using wood, denatured alcohol, and solid fuel tablets, principles of baking on the stoves, and overall safety practices. The room was a science lab, with plenty of outlets for power tools, and large, well-lighted tables for working up the stoves.

I’ve been reading a great book this week, Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up. Little did I realize that a couple of the principles in the book would come into play last night. While working through the process, I left a box of the key part to the stoves at home- the custom-fabricated titanium fire bases were missing!

I didn’t know what to do, and told the class about the problem. While we were working on other aspects of the construction, one of the participants was quietly improvising a solution. He used a felt-tip Sharpie, a pair of my tin snips, and the metal bottom of a 1/2 pint paint can that we had already cut away to create an almost identical part that enabled us to finish the stove! Later, Arnold told us that he was a retired metal fabricator. Within minutes, the rest of the class helped each other out to create their own base plates, even experimenting with fewer or more fins that those on the original titanium bases. I plan to mail each participant their titanium bases today.

20121017-092404.jpgAfter the stoves were assembled, we moved to the parking lot where we fired the stoves up and experimented with using the three fuel sources.

We’ve got ignition!

I ran a similar stove building course for 10 people on Saturday at Tangelewood 4-H Camp . I expect that at least one of the stoves from these two classes will be at work, perking morning coffee on this frosty Maine morning.

Day 4 at Baxter state Park- Wassataquoik Stream Trail

Frigid cold greeted our exit out of the park today.

The loud drops of rain that I heard falling on the bunkhouse last night had turned the upper elevations white, with the snow line starting at 2,900 feet. I’m not sure there would be many hikers who would be heading unto the top today in these conditions.
We decided to head back on an alternate route, the Wassataquoik Stream Trail, where there are actually two fords. The color was still holding up, with much of it painting the ground below our boots.

20121013-140430.jpgLooking up, the northern peaks of Baxter were mantled with snow.

The first stream crossing is obvious and less treacherous than the crossing on the Russell Pond Trail up stream. It has slower moving water, and the bottom is smoother. I went across first and went up to my crotch. The others aimed for a grassy hummock a bit downstream and didn’t get as wet.

20121013-140810.jpgWe put our boots back on and then headed down the trail, only to find a second ford that could not be avoided right close to the lean tos.

20121013-140922.jpgDamn! Off with the boots, on with the Crocs, off with the Crocks, on with the boots again!
This route used to be called the Tracy Horse Trail and is usually a faster route than the Russel Pond trail as it is almost entirely an old logging road that used to transport sports from Roaring Brook to the old Russell Pond fishing cabins.

To our west was the snow capped vistas of the double cirques of Katahdin.

20121013-141038.jpgThe sun was bright and low as we moved along to the sound of water until we rejoined the Russell Pond Trail for the final section out. At this point Pat and I diverted to the Sandy Stream Pond Trail where we were successful in spotting a moose of the far shore.
We reached the cars at Russell Pond in the early afternoon when we dove to Millinocket where we all had an excellent home- cooked meal at the Appalachian Station Cafe.
Katahdin never fails to deliver.
Next- checking out the hiking and night time accommodations at and around the Park’s newest acquisition- Katahdin Lake.