Birthday present: Walking eight miles in the rain over snow

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:

First This !
First This !

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.

Double espresso, eggs, croissant, presents!
Double espresso, eggs, croissant, presents!

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.

screenshotAfter 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. !

La, La, la!
La, La, la!

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 Wednesday night

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.

Ski Shelter
Ski Shelter

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.

Occupy Bald Rock Mountain !
Occupy Bald Rock Mountain !

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 !

Eleven miles- not exactly a walk in the State Park

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

We left the shelter at 9 AM and were back by 3 PM.  We all had on various types of traction devices strapped to the bottom of our feet. Image

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 harvestedImage

and the land was likely populated by sheep.

Coming back from Frohock Mountain there were three decent hills we had to get up an over.  Here’s Tenzing leading Roy up the sometimes obscured trail.  Image

And in the morning, we used plastic sleds to help lighten the loads on our backs.  Auntie Mame pulled lead up the hill out of Spring Brook. Image

Everyone member of this group pitched in to make the whole weekend a non-stop party.  The hiker kind of deal.

Tiki-man survives near drowning

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.

Tiki-man taking well-earned rest on  Vermont's Long Trail
Tiki-man taking well-earned rest on Vermont’s Long Trail

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.  Stuck inside backwash 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.

Gripping on for dear life!
Gripping on for dear life!

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.

Guthook writes me up

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!

My book review-Your Playlist Can Change Your Life

[Additional info added 3/13/13, after writing the review. The following sidebar info (by Meaghen Brown) was published in the April 2013 issue of Outside magazine, page 76 in an article by Brent Rose entitled Play It By Ear. It’s noted on their current magazine web page, but with no hotlink ( you gotta buy the mag):
Fatigue– music reduces perception of fatigue by 8%.
Time Flies– perception of time speeds up to 12%.
Get the Rhythm– as a beat generator, tempos of 120 to 140 offer the greatest benefit.]

Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness, and MoreYour Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness, and More by Galina Mindlin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite useful, but repetitive, yet already dated (2012). Two medical doctors ( and a MBA) cite neuroscience backing up the practice of listening to music in order to moderate consciousness. The practice of ramping up and damping down via acoustic input has been a part of human existence for many thousands of years. Vibratory effects of sound have been well known, primarily in religious contexts. For example, Vedic tradition of mantra use for specific physiological effects.
Listening to my iPod while backpacking, bicycling, and walking has clearly resulted in elevated energy, increased happiness, surprising releases of emotion ( like crying), and help from boredom.
On my 2,700 mile Pacific Crest Trail, I used my iPod sparingly, due to battery life. It was engaged in late afternoons, when I was fatigued after 20+ miles, and had the effect of increasing my flagging pace. It is also effective on uphill climbs. In some instances the perceived effect was equivalent to the energy increase from eating a 200 calorie energy or candy bar.

View all my reviews

Learning to walk again

“A million miles away
Your signal in the distance
To whom it may concern
I think I lost my way
Getting good at starting over
Every time that I return

I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I’m learning to talk again
Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?
Where do I begin?”
-Walk, Foo Fighters

I celebrated the first sunny day in over a week by walking 8 miles around town today. I’m still healing up from hernia surgery three weeks ago and am restricted from carrying a backpack, but plan for fewer miles and to begin carrying light weight on my back this week.

I’ve been nervous about being able to keep up with MeGaTex when I start walking the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico in 33 days. After today, I am more confident that I can hit the trail with a full pack and start putting in those 15 to 20 mile days.

I’ll start backpacking on flat terrain in the Chichuahan Desert. We’ll be caching water for the first five days, and there will be a motel stop in Deming, NM after the first 68 miles. That means 3 nights out, camping in the desert. I’ll be in my Moment tent. No sharing my sleeping bag with rattlesnakes, scorpions, or tarantulas, thank you!

With food and cached water, I’ll be shouldering a relatively light 25 pound pack.

I have charted out 16 actual conditioning days, alternating each training hike with a rest day, gradually increasing miles, ruggedness of terrain, and the weight on my back. My goal is to walk 12 miles with 35 pounds on my back two days before my flight to El Paso on 4/16. I follow Ray Jardine’s conditioning program, which he details in Trail Life

My surgeon advised me to wait 6 weeks before I can resume unrestricted loads, a plan that just leaves me just 8 training days with my base pack weight of 18 pounds. Base weight is my gear without food and water.

Today was a glorious experience. The first picture above is the long downhill into Lincolnville Center. While most of the walk was along paved roads, I hike on the gravel shoulder. I do this to reduce the pounding from walking on pavement. I also aim foot placement on irregularities and sideways slopes off the road in order to strengthen my ankles.

Part of the hike was along the unplowed Martin Corner Road, which gave me more opportunities to strengthen my ankles as I postholed over snow for a mile and a quarter.


I averaged 3.8 mph over the up and downs of 676 feet of elevation gain. I’m freakin’ elated with feeling good again. Listening to music helped today, especially Dave Grohl’s roaring voice encouraging me to learn to walk again.

Following the Otter

Surprised my self on the third week anniversary of my surgery. I walked with Frank again today to the summit of Battie and back.

20130309-041454.jpgI thought I was plodding, and panicked a bit, thinking I’d lost all my training base. Thanks to Strava, I see that I kept up a 2.9 MPH pace, over a steep steady grade.

20130309-043107.jpg Our spirits were lifted by the blue sky and the ocean views on our descent.

Our conversation was absorbing. I shared with Frank some if the stories that moved me recently. Like the story of the Ojibuay, and their migration from the Eastern North American seaside to the Great Lakes via the St. Laurence River. Lake Superior is significant to the tribe because the Ojibway believe their ancestors migrated there from the east coast of No. America and it was their final stopping place after 500 years of migration following the dream of the prophet of a shaman to move or be destroyed.
Teachings about Ojibway history are passed down orally. Birch bark scrolls were used to write down things using pictographic writing (a mneumonic or memory device using pictures and symbols rather than a phonetic writing system). They were initially guided by an otter.


New way to ride bikes: at Winterbike 2013!!!

I was working in Bath yesterday and made a stop at Bath Cycle, where Bikeman sends bikes, parts, and accessories all over the world. This year, Bikeman moved over 100 fat tire bikes out the door. I bought my Surly Pugsley from them last year and can’t stay off it, even in the summer months. These bikes were designed for snow.
I would be heading over there to ride this weekend, but I’m still following doctor’s orders in healing up from a hernia repair exactly three weeks ago. I’m in deep mourning without my bike underneath me.

A number of those bikes are headed to East Burke, Vermont to check out the winter Kingdom Trails. Here’s the demo fleet Carver bikes put together by the shop to stock Bikeman’s booth: Eye candy for sure.

The Carver fat tire demo fleet
The Carver fat tire demo fleet
It looks to be a fine weekend weather-wise, with sun and glorious snow pack to ad to the draw.

From the Kingdom Trails web site:
“…Kingdom Trails has partnered with to arrange for a day of mountain bike revelry. On March 9th we will be gathering early in the day to lead a charge against Old Man Winter. Group rides for all ability levels will be guided from the Kingdom Trails Nordic Center.  Bring whatever bike you wanna ride… there will be a route for everyone from Fat Bike Singletrack Fanatics to “Just wanna get out there and ride my bike” Riders.  There will be free Fat Bike Demo’s and rental bikes available as well as yummy snacks hot totties and cold beer.  The Market Café will be offering lunch…”

Check it all out here–>