Tips for Starting a Fire

I’m sitting here in the house trying to warm up.  I’m freezing cold.  My plan to drop pack weight by losing 5 more pounds may not be the best idea, given the icy approach of winter.  Anyway, I have 3 layers of wool on top, and started both of the wood stoves glowing with the cheery wood that I split up last week.  So I do think about fire on a daily basis.

South Fork Campground, PCT 2010, May 20, 2012

I saw a Barred Owl at 3 PM today. It flew across the windshield of the car, and landed on a tree right near the road.  I stopped in the road and backed up and watched.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen a Barred Owl in the woods.  It’s coloration was astoundingly effective.  I’m in awe that the bird lives, and likely thrives, without stoves to light up and the house to shelter us.

While I’m not sure about the rock as an insulator from the ground, I do think this 3 minute video ( click on link at the end) is good.  It drives home the point that you have to spend  time gathering and processing different diameter sizes of wood.  I always try and get much more than I think I need.  If I think i can get by with less, I am often wrong.

What do you think about the rock?

Tips for Starting a Fire.

Mt. Pleasant Sunday Ride

The temp was in the 20’s with a 10-20 mph breeze, when I woke up this clear, sunny morning, putting the actual wind-chilled temp in the teens for Church of Two Wheels with the Bubbas. I stuck chemical toe warmers into my aged Northwave Winter bicycling boots, squeezed into two layers of wool on top, under my Pearl iZumi shelled jacket. Last time I did this ride, there were five of us.

Today there were twelve- all the regulars plus two new guys on fat tire bikes, Carl on his Surly Moonlander, with the 5″ tires, and Walter on his Carver framed test bike from Bath Cycle. Here is a picture of the difference between the Moonlander’s fat tires and my Pugsley’s ( right).  Ian was riding his Salsa Mukluk, another great fat tire machine with an aluminum frame.

Two Fats

I’d like to mention the initial climb. After leaving the parking lot at the Rover garage on route 90, the trail starts up an abandoned and eroded road , where it travels 1.9 miles to the top of Mt. Pleasant, with an average grade of 7.3%, and 755 feet of elevation gain.  It’s a bitch, but I did my best climbing ever, at one point staying in the saddle after I passed three guys who were walking up.

Nelson even shouted, “Climbdog!” after me as I ground my way up over the leaves and rocks.

The Pugsley’s aggressive tread Nate fat tires grip well, and are worth the extra $$.

Once on top, the usual ocean overlook was being blasted by the arctic wind from the west, so we rode over to a more protected section of ledge.

Bubbas on Top

We then bombed down from the top to what we call the Three Way intersection. It’s pretty technical in sections, with drops over ledges and some icy patches to dodge, not to mention the thick cover of recently fallen leaves that obscure some of the hazards that lie underneath.

Mt. Pleasant ride

I was descending at the rear of the pack, nursing my aching forearms, when I came upon trouble. A half-dozen guys were at the edge of the woods and the downhill, tending to a “Bubba down”, who turned out to be Steve. His front end hit some obstacle, at speed, and smacked him into the ground. The side of his head had a couple scratches, and his helmet was intact, and his tights were ripped, exposing some nasty red exposed skin. He was a bit dazed, and took a good 15 minutes before he was able to get up and on his bike. Incredibly, he chose to ride with us, rather than return to his car, which was less than a ten minute ride away from this point.
Steve is an excellent rider, past Maine Sport racer, and someone who
“hardly ever” makes mistakes.
The hawk seemed OK in the parking lot afterwards, but there was a post on Facebook this morning from Rigger indicating that the Hawk experienced ” a pretty good concussion and can’t work for three days…and that he should be fine with some rest.”
Good vibes to Steve and his eventual return to Bubba Church, next time.

I took a shot of The Hawk in the lot, but it didn’t come out.  I found this one, from an earlier ride this season.  Leading, as usual. 

My Paleo Day

Sometimes good things just happen.
About the Paleo thing- I had not needed to go to the gym lately. I’ve been riding, walking a lot, and lifting and hauling lots of firewood and logs the past month. My woodshed roof collapsed a couple of months ago so I had to extract and restack two cords of wood. Lifting, hauling, pushing and carrying is part of a Paleo exercise program.

A few months ago Central Maine Power noticed some wild cherry trees that were threatening their overhead power lines on the property line between my neighbor Bill and I, so they cut them down, and Bill told me to take them for firewood.

I saved out a 6 foot log for my friend Dave, who will carve a paddle for his new cedar and canvas canoe out of it. The rest I cut into stove-length pieces that I hauled up and stacked for processing. Some of the pieces were almost 2 feet in diameter.

Three weeks’ free heat

So, I got out the splitting maul and started at it yesterday, lifting and rolling and whacking away. At one point, Bill drove by on his John Deere Gator and asked me if I wanted to borrow his wood splitter. Both my shoulders have been acting up recently, so I said yes.
Less than 5 minutes later, he was up with the Gator again, with the Supersplit in tow.
In less than an hour, I had split up all that wood, and kept at it, filling up a half-dozen plastic buckets with dry kindling.

You still get to lift and throw

Bill came back again, this time dropping off more local harvest: a rump steak and a pound of venison sausage, and a pound of garlic heads that I’ll plant in the garden for next year’s crop. He shot the deer in the field below our houses and reasoned that it was probably fed from my own vegetable garden.

Tomorrow I’ll continue this ancient exchange by dropping off a few bars from my latest batch of pemmican.

Thanksgiving morning outdoors

My neighbor Andy and I now have a Thanksgiving tradition- an early morning bicycle ride of a couple of hours down and back through Lincolnville Center to Camden Hills State Park, where we have a few routes that we choose from. According to Andy, we did this same ride last year, when we went up Cameron Mountain and then down the back side to Youngstown Road. This time, I promised my wife I’d be ready to travel at 11 AM to my sister-in-law’s place for a family get-together, so we altered the route a bit and stuck to the multipurpose trail in the park.

Home to Camden Hills State Park and back

There are just two more days of deer hunting w/ rifle season, so I wore a high visibility vest and tied a hunter orange bandanna to the back of my helmet.
It was below freezing on the ground when we left at 8:45 AM, and there was some black ice on the pavement, so no brakes or quick turns for a while.
The following picture was taken on the “closed” Martin’s Corner gravel road. Andy told me that there was a snapping turtle that was living in this super-sized puddle this past summer, that once advanced on him as he was riding through there.
Andy Hazen and the Thanksgiving ice

I’m thankful today that I live here, surrounded by woods, rocks, hills, and ocean. I’m thankful I have a loving family, that I still have my health, and that I can walk right out my door on my bikes and ride, or walk to these incredible trails and hike.

Making Pemmican That Tastes Good

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and while the rest of the US is making pies, I’ve just completed a batch of the best pemmican I’ve ever tasted, thanks to Outside Magazine. I’m a fan of the stuff, having used it not only here in Maine, but also on my 2010 Pacific Crest thru-hike, when the weather turned cold and rainy in the Cascades in Washington in September.

I learned how to make pemmican from Mark Kutolowski, in 2009, while attending the Snow Walker’s Rendezvous in Vermont: Making Pemmican-The Ultimate trail Food. Mark is a Vermont guide and traditional wilderness skills teacher who teaches a course at Dartmouth College that he developed on Bushcraft , Survival, Foraging, and Natural History. He also leads retreats focusing on the intersection between contemporary spirituality and wilderness living . The story of pemmican, which dates to pre-European contact, is tied to cold northern climates, where large game prevailed, snow fell, and the drying and preserving process was essential for survival. Pemmican has historically involved drying strips of meat that has all the fat cut off, to which is added rendered animal fat, berries, and sometimes maple sugar, and salt. Done properly it is edible for years , if not decades, even when held at room temperature. The ability of man to live on meat alone, for periods of years, has been documented in Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s “Fat of the Land” . The product was so important to early settlers that in 1832 the Hudson’s Bay Company purchased from the natives 28 tons of pemmican, in 150 pound bales. We sampled some pemmican that Mark had prepared and were taken though the steps preparing it, which is partly documented in this “how to make pemmican” video.

I just made the recipe below, replacing the brown sugar with maple sugar. There was no pouring involved in my product. In fact, it clogged the blender hopelessly, so I transferred the mix to a small Sunbeam Oskar processor that did the trick. Here’s the pressed-out product that is headed to the freezer.

Pemmican->freezer>cut>It’s a wrap!
So tasty! It’s in the freezer and plan to take a bar with me on my next fatbike ride, tomorrow on Turkey Day.

via Athlete Recipes: Sebastian Copeland | Nutrition |

The November 2012 issue of Outside Magazine revisited pemmican, and talked to Stewart Copeland about it. ” In 2011, Copeland spent 81 days cross-country-skiing over the Antarctic ice cap, pulling 400 pounds of supplies on a sled—a feat that had him ripping through 10,000 calories per day. ‘You start burning more than you can ingest,’ says Copeland, 48, a British and French national who also kite-skied 1,400 miles across Greenland in 2010. ‘When that happens, your body starts consuming muscle for energy.’ Enter pemmican, essentially an energy bar made of bacon, cranberries, and sesame seeds. ‘I’ll put it on my oatmeal in the morning or eat it on the trail,’ he says of the sweet-and-salty concoction. ‘It’s pure fat calories, and it keeps me going. The harder you’re working, and the more salt you’re losing through sweating, the better it tastes.’

WHY IT WORKS: Bacon has a bad reputation, thanks to all the heart-clogging saturated fat it contains, but Adam Korzun says there are times when it’s perfectly acceptable, like a weekend skiing mission in the backcountry. ‘If you’re going hard all day in cold temperatures, saturated fat is an efficient, slow-burning fuel source,’ he says.

SECRET INGREDIENTS: Sesame seeds and cranberries contain antioxidants that reduce muscle inflammation.


1. Cook 1/4 pound of bacon on low until the fat renders. (Make sure the meat remains soft.)

2. Let it cool slightly, then transfer the bacon and fat to a blender, add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, 1/4 cup of sesame seeds, and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Puree.

3. Pour the mix onto a cookie sheet and freeze.

4. Cut into bars or cubes that can be added to porridge in the morning or eaten on the trail.



Bubbas Bike Bradbury

It’s sometimes surprising to view a visual record of where I go on my bikes. This one is wild!

Squiggles on Bradbury Mountain State Park

I haven’t ridden this place in at least 10 years, and sure regret being away for so long. I so much miss riding in the woods right outside of my house these past three weeks. Deer hunting season lasts one more week, plus snow may come at anytime to dramatically change the riding patterns up here in Maine. Thankfully, deer hunting is outlawed on Sundays.  When I heard that there was a Sunday Bubba ride to Bradbury Mountain State park, outside of Freeport, ME I was in.  The ride from here is close to 4 hours of round trip travel, including stops for gas and coffee.  Sunset is now at 4:04 PM, so you gotta take advantage of any good day to be out and this was it- blue skies, no wind, but there was that 26 degree start to the day.

There were tons of people out on the trails today.  The parking lot was full. The riding is less technical than up here on Ragged and Pleasant Mountains, so you roll through the woods faster.  There are few sustained downhills, so you pedal more, and pedal faster.  I soon shed one of my three top layers, but needed the chemical toe warmers in my shoes to stay comfortable.  It maybe hit 40 today.  At the end of the ride, Rigger and Nate grilled up some brats and hot dogs, and Steve provided some chips for some needed calories that helped warm me up gain.

Bubbas in the Woods

We stuck to the trails on the “East Side”.  The following is some of the good information from the bikekinetics website :
General Description:  Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, ME is a popular, four season outdoor recreation and trail destination. The park is located in the Casco Bay region of southern Maine just 30 miles from Portland and Auburn-Lewiston, two of Maine’s largest urban centers and 5 miles north of Freeport, a town well-known for it’s outlet shopping bargains.   The forested, Bradbury Mountain with a summit scoured bald by glacier action during the last ice age, is the hub of Bradbury Mountain State Park. Rising to 469-ft above sea level, it may be considered more of a hill than a mountain, but mountain bikers from all over the northeast know that a mountain or park need not be huge in order to be a significant mountain biking mecca. This is certainly true of 800-acre Bradbury Mountain State Park, Maine’s first state park.

Over 18 miles of multi-use trails are shared by hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and cross country skiers. The trails radiate out from the mountain like spokes on a wheel and run over varied terrain to create excellent mountain biking options and endless trail connections for riders of all ability and skill levels.

The panoramic views of the Casco Bay coastal plain, opportunities to watch migrating hawks, eagles and osprey soar on thermal updrafts or view the rainbow colors of changing seasons on the landscape below, draw trail users of all types to the summit of Bradbury Mountain. By design, there are trails of varied lengths and difficulty levels to lead you there.

Several trails that climb the steep southern face of the mountain, like the Summit and South Ridge Trails are designated for hiking only. The challenging and technical multi-use Boundary Trail, popular with intermediate to advanced riders, climbs the north and west slopes. The Northern Loop Trail provides an easier path with a gradual climb up the east side of the mountain.

Park Facilities: include over 40 camping and RV sites, showers, sheltered and open picnic areas, restrooms, playground and ball field.

There is even a bike wash station located at the south end of the upper parking lot to clean your bike after your ride. How cool is that!

The Trails:   There are 18.8 miles of shared-use trails within Bradbury Mountain State Park. Of these, over 12 miles were designed especially for optimum mountain biking experiences. The well-marked and maintained trails vary from wide woods roads and doubletrack snowmobile trails to narrow singletrack trails.   The Maine Department of Conservation is currently working to expand the trail system by linking Bradbury State Park to contiguous and nearby conserved lands. This includes the development of a trail from the park’s northern boundary, across Tryon Mountain, across a Power Corridor to the Pineland Public Land Unit, a state-owned parcel of woodlands and agricultural fields with an existing three-mile trail network.

Route 9 bisects the Bradbury Mountain State Park north/south dividing Bradbury Mountain State Park into two distinct sections: East and West.
Bradbury Mountain East Side Trails

All of the trails on the east side of the park are open to mountain bikes. Trail intersections are marked by numbered wooden posts. This is where you’ll find most of the intermediate and beginner singletrack trails. The trails range from fast and flowy to tight and twisty with ups and downs, drops, bridges, and rocky, rooty sections. There is no real elevation gain in this half of the park. The trails mostly wind through old abandoned fields that have reverted to a mixed growth forest of paper birch, red maple, white pine and red oak over the last 40 to 50 years.

Snowmobile Trail: 1.5 miles. Easy
The wide, doubletrack snowmobile trail bisects the area north/south providing connections to other trails in the section allowing for any number of longer loop rides. This wide thoroughfare trail is perfect for beginners getting used to biking off pavement in the woods. There are a few steep grades, however.

Knight Woods Trail: 1.1 miles. Easy
Wide family-friendly biking with kids trail with slight grade. Several interpretive signs along the route provide trail users with a brief history of the area, forest and wildlife.

Fox East Trail: 1.4 miles and Fox West Trail (IMBA): 1.2 miles. Intermediate
Narrow, singletrack with sharp turns, bridges, long skinnies, up and downs, slick rocky and rooty sections and a few steep hills. Warm up on the Fox West Trail built by IMBA then tackle the fast Fox East which is the more challenging of the two trails.

Ginn Trail: 2.6 Miles. Intermediate
Narrow singletrack with a series of technical, rolling climbs, several bridges and skinnies.

Island Trail: 1.3 miles. Intermediate
Relatively new trail accessed from the Lanzo Trail consists of narrow singletrack with very sharp turns and a few bridges.

Lanzo Trail: 1.6 miles. Intermediate.
Fairly level, narrow and flowy singletrack lined with logs. While you will encounter rock, roots and a few sharp turns and bridges, there is nothing overly technical.

Ragan Trail: 0.7 miles. Intermediate
Narrow, rolling and flowy single track with obstacles that you can can opt to go around. This trail also features a challenging, high bridge for those who have no fear of heights and the confidence born of practice on less lofty obstacles.

When I hear about any more rides to Bradbury, I’m going.

Expedition Watch: Riding a Fat Bike to the South Pole | Outdoor Adventure Blog |

Expedition Watch: Riding a Fat Bike to the South Pole | Outdoor Adventure Blog |

Several presentations at Snow Walkers Rendezvous this past weekend highlighted polar travel, albeit by foot, ski, dogsled, and even kites.  How about bikes?  How about the Surly Moonlander, with clownish 5″ diameter low pressure tires?

Where 4.6 inches is big enough !

From Outside, written by Joe Spring:

“Eric Larson plans to start pedaling toward the South Pole this December, on an expedition he’s titled Cycle South. It will be the fourth Christmas in the past five years that he’s spent in Antarctica. This time, he’s given himself a pretty small window—about a month and a half—to get things done.

In 2010, 41-year-old Eric Larsen completed a year-long Save the Poles expedition in which he climbed Everest and traveled to both poles. The Minnesotan has snowshoed, dogsledded, swum, trekked, and skied across polar habitats on a slew of expeditions.

He’ll stay in touch using a DeLorme beacon and Iridium satellite phone to tweet, post Facebook messages, and provide online updates. You can follow him on, @ELExplore on Twitter, and on Facebook.”