My Favorite Outdoors/Adventure book of 2013- Plus!

Here’s the best book I’ve read this year, by Timothy Eagan:

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Eagan
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Eagan

Readers in doubt can check out the book on Goodreads, where there are 325 reviews,  with a rating of 4.16 of 5 stars from 1,304 raters.

”   Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous portrait photographer, the Annie Leibovitz of his time. He moved in rarefied circles, a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, leading thinkers. But when he was thirty-two years old, in 1900, he gave it all up to pursue his Great Idea: to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared.
Curtis spent the next three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than eighty North American tribes. It took tremendous perseverance — ten years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him to observe their Snake Dance ceremony. And the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Curtis would amass more than 40,000 photographs and 10,000 audio recordings, and he is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with the grade school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian.”- from Goodreads.

Now the PLUS- I thank my subscriber and sometimes transcriber, John Clark, for forwarding me the following information:    “In case you did not know, the entire 20 volumes are archived on-line and with free access by Northwestern University.  The photos are of excellent resolution and much better than the printed ones in Egan’s book.”

20 volume set?  Can your local library get copies? I doubt it.–>

“A rare complete set of Edward S. Curtis’ The North American Indian was sold at auction for 1.44 million on October 4, 2012. The price was solidly in the expected range, which as previously reported was 1.25 million to 1.75 million. It was also a record high for the auction house, Swann Galleries, which held the first photobook auction in the United States in 1952. Read more.

And the background   ……From Wikipedia–>

“In 1906 J. P. Morgan provided Curtis with $75,000 to produce a series on the North American Indian.[9] This work was to be in 20 volumes with 1,500 photographs. Morgan’s funds were to be disbursed over five years and were earmarked to support only fieldwork for the books not for writing, editing, or production of the volumes. Curtis himself would receive no salary for the project[ my emphasis T.J.),[10] which was to last more than 20 years. Under the terms of the arrangement, Morgan was to receive 25 sets and 500 original prints as his method of repayment.    Only 222 complete sets were eventually published.”

So- track down a copy, fire up the wood stove ( I hope) and settle into a most incredible story- superbly written.  And then, read the original ( online) and view ( photographs) of  the passing of the Native cultures of America from your armchair- most amazing!

Pedaling around on Thanksgiving

9 AM, twenty seven degrees, and a 10 mph wind didn’t stop Andy Hazen and I from saddling up and checking out the culverts and streams around Lincolnville,  after close to 4″ of  rain fell in a 12 hours period the day before Thanksgiving .

Andy has been pouring the miles on his spiffy-new, fat-fire Trek Farley since he bought it two weeks ago.

Storm damage at Camden Hills State Park
Storm damage at Camden Hills State Park

Here’s a pic of him and the bike as we cleared a storm-heaved culvert on the Cameron’s Knob trail in Camden Hills State Park.

Two hours and 15 minutes later we arrived back on High St.  after riding 19 miles around town.

Ride route and data
Ride route and data

The ride back had us dodging a series of mini-ponds on Martin Corner Road, but we couldn’t avoid this one.  Andy rides this ( now closed) road often, and one summer’s day he even dodged a snapping turtle bobbing around in one of the perennial water traps along the way.

After we made it home, Marcia and I walked up the street to the Hazen’s where we shared a Thanksgiving meal prepared by Judi.  I carried an apple-squash soup and she a fresh apple pie.  I don’t think the ride cancelled out the complete calorie ledger for the meal, but both Andy and I felt better about hacking 1,000 calories off, as we both enjoyed the most excellent ride today.

Uncle Tom on the Radio- Get the Podcast

I was recently on WRFR  radio, in Rockland, ME on the Matinicus Wannabee show, hosted by my friend Lock Kiermaier.WannabeLogo Readers know that MeGaTex is a sponsor of the show, and that I hike better listening to music.

Spinnin’ Tunes, Tellin’ Tales

Lock Invited me to the studio to be on the show the show on November 11, and while many of you listened live ( Monday nights 9-11 PM EST), anyone can listen anytime by snagging the podcast.  (Be patient if you are downloading this link- it is a two hour show).  You can also listen on iTunes, for free, under the Podcasts.   Lock and I traded off songs, interspersed by interview questions about my latest thru-hike-  the Continental Divide Trail

Here is the playlist I assembled  for the show, with Song Title, Artist, and Album listings:

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?    Amy Winehouse    Lioness: Hidden treasures
Help!                    The Beatles        Help!
Radio Nowhere (Album Version)    Bruce Springsteen
Gandhi/Buddha          Cheryl Wheeler    Different Stripe

Save Some Time To Dream  John Mellencamp

No Better Than This The Road to Gila Bend        Los Lobos        The Town and the City
Get Lucky                Mark Knopfler    Get Lucky
Yon Two Crows            Mark Knopfler    Privateering [Disc 1]
Happy                    The Rolling Stones    Exile On Main Street
Muswell Hillbilly   Southern Culture on the Skids   Countrypolitan Favorites

Here’s the Spofify Playlist of most of these songs.  The Beatles are not on Spotify, nor is a decent version of Ghandi/Buddha.

Brilliance and Bullcrap from Outside magazine

I generally love reading my print subscription to Outside magazine.

There is a brilliant piece in this month’s ( Nov. 2013) issue- Survival Report- What Would Survivorman Do?   This link takes you to the first of several pieces about survival.  After the initial  2 page spread about Les Stroud, you find 5 two-page articles – 5 Near-Death Experiences from the Adventurers Who Lived.

However, the web version leaves out the best part of the series that appears to be only on the print issue– specific margin comments with little drawn in arrows from Stroud critiquing what people did correctly and how they screwed up doing the wrong thing.  I have no problem with Outside leaving that aspect out of the web version- maybe it was an inadvertent admission, or maybe Outside meant it that way so people would seek out the print version- except if you just read the web version you have no idea your are missing Stroud’s wisdom in the print version!

My other gripe with Outside is that I have subscribed to the magazine for years, so why is it necessary for me to click on the erase (X) button whenever I open up anything on the website?  I am tired of them asking me to subscribe.  Hey- Outside if anyone over there is listening, have the programmers give us subscribers a break!

And please clarify the relationship between advertisers and content!  For example- The Know or Die: Gear sidebar on the Survival Report lists ” Three light, compact tools that belong in every pack.”  Thumbs up for the recommendation on the Petzl E=headlamp and the ($.55) Bic lighter, but the $160 Benchmade Volli” doesn’t even pass the ” makes no sense test”.  Yeah- ” A full-tang fixed blade knife is tougher than any folder- and typically very heavy. Benchmade’s Volli is just 4.3 ounces and, at 4.4 inches closed, easily pocketable.”

Whoops!-  Actual survival gear websites on the Internet can sell you one of their fixed blade, Swedish-steel Mora knives for $10-$15.  Mine weighs 3.1 ounces, with sheath.  It’s lighter than the folding Volli, and can take any use or even abuse that comes it’s way.  Here’s my heavily used Mora knife:

Mora knife
Mora knife

The Comfortable Road

I really liked this post by Kelly Moreton.
It lends historical background to one of my favorite quotes.-TJ

(What I Learned from Meriwether Lewis)

While I was on vacation last month I read a book called Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose.  If you have never read a Stephen Ambrose book, I highly recommend it.  He is an incredible historian and a great story teller.  This particular book was about Lewis and Clark and their expedition across our continent.  Their goal was to find an all water route to the Pacific.  It is a fascinating story!

While the book is packed with great stories, quotes, and leadership principles, there was one part that really jumped out at me.  One thing that you need to know is that Lewis and Clark pictured the Rocky Mountains as a range similar to the Appalachian Mountains.  One long range, never reaching the 7,000 ft mark.  If you have ever seen the Rocky Mountains, or even seen a picture, they are not like that at all.
So after a year and a half of paddling up river, eating only meat (causing them to suffer from scurvy), suffering from dysentery, malaria, uncontrollable mosquitos, harsh winters, and pretty much anything else you can think of, Lewis finally caught his first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains.  Keep in mind, he had never even seen a picture of something like this and he was expecting the Appalachian Mountains.  Instead he sees snow covered peaks towering above the timberline.  They looked impassable.

As you can imagine, Lewis was discouraged.  They had come so far.  They had suffered so much.  And now, how were they ever going to get across those beasts of mountains?  But after his initial discouragement (which he noted in his journal), he rallied.  This was the next line in his journal:

As I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils, I will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled to believe differently.

This absolutely blew my mind.  I mean, if anyone had a right to be discourage, it was Lewis. But he would not have it.  He saw the truth in what seemed like an impossible situation.  The truth was that he did not know what was ahead.  He had never crossed the Rocky Mountains, and they weren’t there yet.  As far as he knew, it could be the smoothest part of the journey.  So he moved forward believing the best until the path proved differently.

What if we lived our lives like that?  We if we trusted God with what lies ahead, believing that He is with us and believing that He has good things for us?  Sometimes our future seems like the Rocky Mountains.  Sometimes our present feels like that really.  My challenge to you is to believe it a good, comfortable road, until it proves differently.  There is no need to fear what might happen.

Maine ingenuity advances lightweight backpacking – from Garage Grown Gear


From Garage Grown Gear comes this article about a Biddeford, ME based company that is rapidly growing and connecting with ultralight backpackers.  Who would have predicted that an old mill in Biddeford Maine would be making a splash due to backpacking, and perhaps other portable cases and devices?  Read about the rapid rise of Hyperlite Mountain Gear.

Bubbas Ride into November

Bubbas continue to rule the Midcoast trails.
Where else would you find twelve mountain bikers saddling up on a November Sunday morning where a “wintry mix” weather report was on the radar when we went to bed last night? IMG_2332<
Even better – nonstop banter and solid comarderie weren't dampened by rain or snow today. It was sunny- but cold, and made colder by the 15 mile-per-hour wind blowing straight out of Canada some 100 miles to the north.
The trail below our tires was firm today, and generally free of the thick leaf cover that Fall brings to the Midcoast. The recent rain washed out debris and wind has blown the trail open. Mount Pleasant has serious ups, and downs, and is usually the place where we congregate on Sunday mornings.
Ian demonstrated some impressive bike handling skills when he went up and over a downed tree while climbing uphill on a mossy and wet ledge on the way to the top of Pleasant Mountain.

The group enjoyed a break on top in the sunlight, overlooking Penobscot Bay. IMG_2336