Triple Crown, elevation gain, and Maine

I’m stoked at receiving this bandanna! 

Yogi's Triple Crown bandanna
Yogi’s Triple Crown bandanna

At first I thought it was a misprint- 1,000,000 feet of  elevation gain?  That’s only 189.4 miles of uphills.  I thought it was more!

I’ve been thinking about walking on the Applalchian Trail  again this season, soon.  For readers who poo-poo the difficulty of hiking the AT, here’s a mess of facts from Whiteblaze.  The AT is tough.  There are 286.6 miles of AT in Maine, with an average of 242 feet per mile of gain and loss.  The article from Whiteblaze hot-linked above blew my mind.  The author took all the USGS 7.5 minute topographic maps for the entire trail and actually counted the contour lines the trail crosses, going both up and down.  New Hampshire is the hilliest, followed by Georgia, which might surprise some. 

While Maine’s state average is not #1, one must consider that doing the AT in Maine  is not a uniform task. The Northbound gain is 59,000 feet.   The 151 mile eastern most portion of the state is more moderate ( 5,200 average for that first four sections) , while the 50 mile portion from the New Hampshire state line to Rangley is a brutal 18,800 feet, and is the toughest part of the whole Trail.  

Order a set of Yogi’s for the Triple Crowner in your life!

From:  Triple Crown Bandana: Set of 3 – Red, White, and Blue — Yogi’s Books.

Day 4: wherein the desert becomes desert-like again | CARROT QUINN

Day 4: wherein the desert becomes desert-like again | CARROT QUINN.<—

The best writing about long-distance hiking is coming right at you from Carrot Quinn.  She’s back at it again this season a fresh new attempt at completing the Pacific Crest Trail.

I laughed out loud at the first line of this post.

I encourage you to follow her.  630 other readers are already enjoying this ride, which will be exciting, funny, and shocking.  She’s posting daily pics on Instagram this time, accessed at the bottom of her blog posts.

Exercises to Strengthen Bones –


Exercises to Strengthen Bones –

I’ve added three sessions of jumping into my weekly training for hiking and biking. Running works too, but I’ve had the cartilage removed from both knees, and at at around 200 pounds now, it’s a dumb option for me.   It’s easy for me to do this.  Just outside the house we have a short railroad tie retaining wall that’s a couple of feet high, with a crushed  rock landing zone below it.  It’s perfect to jump up on and then leap down from.  Ten times a session should do it.

Bicycling, walking, and apparently even weight lifting don’t help with reducing the inevitable effects of osteoporosis. Walking might work, but only if you push it.   You can’t make up for any bone loss as you age, but can prevent the rate of bone loss.   This is a topic that bears educating one’s self.

Today the men helped me

Today was a gift, however some serious pulling, pounding, and lifting were required to get at the treasure trove.  Since I have given up my decades-long YMCA gym membership this fall, the plan was to increase my outside “farm chores” in order to keep myself fit.  Today, I surpassed all my hopes that I could reach some degree of fitness, but needed three of my friends to make it happen.  They average out to about 75 years old, but these are no ordinary men.

Dave and Hank had helped me reconstruct the wood shed that had crashed to the ground during the winter of 2012-13.  Today Hank came back and we put the front trim boards on and then lifted and screwed down the metal roof.  Hank brought his tools, including the rechargeable drill.

Hank makes it happen
Hank makes it happen

We cleaned up that job in about an hour and a half.  I worked off the the tall ladder and walked on the roof. Hank worked off the shorter ladder. He’s 82!

While Hank and I worked on the roof, Dave and Gary began today’s firewood detail.
Gary is a master at felling trees.

Gary aims the fall
Gary aims the fall

His family farm in Warren goes back many generations. Since his retirement from his marine scientist position with the State of Maine, Gary has  amassed all the right tools for processing and transporting firewood. Gary was our main cutter today. Both Dave and I had to move quickly to keep up with him.  Here’s Gary, sharpening one of his saws with a Dremel attachment, powered by a quiet little Honda generator.

Gary is well prepared
Gary is well prepared

Dave put some serious miles on walking back and forth fueling the brush fire.

Dave stoking the brush pile
Dave stoking the brush pile

We took down an old stand of apple trees. Most were of the wood was diseased. I gave Dave several clear butt ends of apple wood that he’ll craft into bowls and spoons.  He’s a fine cabinetmaker, who has produced some remarkably detailed cabinetry and fine stringed musical instruments.

It was immensely satisfying working hard, and mostly wordlessly with these men today.
My Fitbit app on my 5s iPhone stayed in my pocket today, tracking my movement.  We worked for 4 hours and while I never strayed more than a couple hundred feet from my door today, the miles piled on.  Check this out!

Mileage, baby!
Mileage, baby!

I love these men, who graced me with their presence, and left me with a drying shelter for the cord of firewood that we worked up today.

Conti’s 1894 Restaurant

Hikers love good food, and lots of it and would flip at finding this double-shot combination at “Conti’s 1894 Restaurant” in the working-class south end of Rockland, ME.
My wife ( Auntie Mame)  and sister-in-law (V8) I ate there tonight, a Thursday, when we were one of three parties that entered the restaurant at exactly the same time. Things work differently at Conti’s. Rather than seating us in individual groups as we walked through the door,  the sole waitress stacked us up as one big group while she graced three tables with home made bread, bowls of salad, house Italian salad dressing and place settings. The decor of the single dining room was casual, with the recycled school cafeteria chairs clustered around an array of tables covered with newspaper.
Next the ordering process. There is just one menu here, hand scribbled on a long sheet of newsprint that hangs in front of the dining room.  Penmanship is not Palmer Method-I couldn’t read most of it, but our hostess/waitress led us through the day’s choices-It’s mostly seafood, maybe 10 dishes worth.  I chose haddock with scallops, Marcia had Scottish salmon ( “the good stuff”) and swordfish, and Jan had the haddock.

Next, you decide what sauce comes with your meal:  Al olio ( garlic and olive oil), marina, and then two more gradations of red sauce, each with increasing heat.  All of it comes on pasta, which for the three of us, was dressed with warm olive oil and minced garlic.  That’s it!
Then onto the dining room, where we got one of the three coveted booths on the right wall.  A fresh candle stuck in a wine bottle, was quickly lit, and provided ambience. The bread is crumbly and a bit dry, but it’s something to munch on with the salad while we endured the short wait for our dinners.
Then came wow.
The dinners came to us on fresh-hot-from-the oven 10” glass pie plates, heaped. My cut of the action tonight was sixteen large fresh-schucked scallops, plus about a half a pound of haddock.
Marcia’s slabs of fish were seared and cooked to perfection.

Auntie Mame, salmon, and swordfish
Auntie Mame, salmon, and swordfish

She knows fish and said that the pound of Scottish salmon retailed for $13, and then there was the 1/2 pound of swordfish.  She ate all she could. Her leftovers amounted to 1 pound six ounces (and two additional meals’ worth, which we weighed out when we reached home) of goodness.
Jan had about a pound of haddock-she was a first-timer and was shocked.  IMG_2884
The wine was Woodbridge-but at $6 a glass, and filled to the brim, I didn’t complain. The last time we came here and it was refill time, Marcia asked about the second red wine choice and the waitress brought her a fresh glass full, and even didn’t charge for it, even after we told here she forgot to tally it in.  A variety of bottled beers in the cooler are something you get for yourself.  When the waitress came and checked on us after 5 minutes, she asked if we needed anything else-I asked for some extra olive oil.  She soon returned with a soup bowl full of warm “extra virgin olive oil,” with lots of fresh chopped garlic. I put the big spoon that came with it to use.
You laugh a lot here. What’s not to like?  Crosby, Stills and Nash and classic 70’s rock emanated from the kitchen, where John was back at it, as he is every day, 365 days a year.  Just remember to bring your cash, as there are no credit cards, nor are there any reservations, appetizers, microwave, freezer, or individual menus here.  They have even stopped the desserts.

Be forewarned.  John Conti’s approach to dining may ruin your experience at other local seafood establishments. I was disappointed in the meager fish plate I had at a renown waterfront restaurant in Camden last week, where the same twenty bucks that brought me to satisfaction city here tonight bought me just five scallops and a small piece of haddock.  Camden has the view, but my heart’s right at Conti’s.
The total for the three of us was $83, including the wine, and that bowl of olive oil.

67-Year-Old Transatlantic Kayaker’s Goal Achieved, Expedition Continues


from National Geographic- Alex Doba
from National Geographic- Alex Doba

67-Year-Old Transatlantic Kayaker’s Goal Achieved, Expedition Continues – Beyond the Edge.

Another Polak in his 60’s pushing himself. Polish souls are both cursed and blessed with the polish suffering gene.  God loves this man. His last name is so close to the polish word dobra, which translates to good.  

updated CDT TrailJournal from Mexico to Doc Campbell’s via Columbus route

Dick Wizard, General Lee, Train, and Uncle Tom  get ready to Embrace the Brutality–>Uncle Tom’s 2013 Continental Divide Trail Journal, Part of Trail Journals’ Backpacking and Hiking Journals.

I’ve just revised, adding details and more photos to the first leg of my 2013 CDT thru-hike on the CDT.  Not too many hikers choose to start at the Puerto Palomas Customs crossing on the US/Mexico border, with the majority of hikers taking the Crazy Cook start due west of here.

This first leg of  two hundred miles from Palomas to Doc Campbell’s Post, took us 13 days to complete. It was tough going at the start.

“Breeze”-Maine Triple Crowner, in AT magazine

In the current issue of AT Journeys ( April 2014),  Maine’s Brendan Drapeau ( aka Breeze) gets some well deserved  press coverage.  Download a PDF of the full article/with photos here  -Courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s official membership magazine A.T. Journeys  ( The latest electronic issue is not yet available on the ATC’s website, but thanks to Wendy Probst, Editor, the article can be viewed here in its full format  (please respect that it is not to be copied , or altered in any way).  If anyone has a better solution for me to get this this to you, let me know.  As it stands, the first link above will result in  you downloading a PDF of the article (complete with photos) onto your device/computer, where it can be opened with Adobe Reader.

I briefly corresponded with Breeze before we both started our thru-hikes and was hoping to meet him on the CDT.  Breeze eventually surprised me by walking up to me at the decidedly funky Gila Hot Springs campground, just down the hill from Doc Campbell’s post.  Here’s a few pics from our rendezvous.

Mainers meet in New Mexico
Mainers meet in New Mexico


Uncle Tom and Breeze sporting their Appalachian Trail tattoos
Uncle Tom and Breeze sporting their Appalachian Trail tattoos

Breeze hiked with MeGatex for a few weeks, before he turned on the accelerator and took off.  He taught me to leave a motel room cleaner than when you entered it, a most unique practice among the normally messy stuff that Hiker trash normally walk away from after a night of copious cleaning, washing, and consumption.

Breeze and and I were both in the habit of rising at daybreak.  Breeze has a huge long stride.  He makes his mega mileages by walking early, walking all day, and then usually walking a bit later after supper.  His through hikes of both the AT and the PCT were done in a startling short number of days.








Writing About Hiking Again

It happens to me every springtime, since 2007 when I set off on my first long distance backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. It’s the compelling desire to be on another long hike. But, I’m not taking a long hike this season. So what ?

This year’s alternate plan is to hike (except for one bicycling/camping trip in Maine) for one week every month from now until October. I am really pleased to report that I have walked some 250 miles in the last two months, mostly on trails and roads around my home town in Lincolnville, Maine.

This morning I have started to write more about one of my thru-hikes hikes. I put in two hours revising the first 2.5 days and 57 miles of my 2013 Continental Divide Trailjournal, the section from the border at Palomas, Mexico to Deming, New Mexico. If you want to read the revisions-  the hotlink about takes you right to my first day of hiking.

There are not many hikers who opt for the Columbus alternate, and I thought it might be useful to future hikers  to have someone lay down details. I have added additional sections about prices,  geographical locations, and had data that I am extracting from hand-written logbooks and references that I did not have the time for when I created by daily posts in the tent each night, where I was under the influence of a blend of fatigue, stress, and general catatonia.

I also want to add additional photos to the CDT Trailjournal, and am not having much luck in remembering how to to that, so if there are Traijournal wordsmiths out there who have it down, hit me up.

Plus, here’s new photos from those first three days.

We find the water cache !
We find the water cache !
Shade but tanks are empty
Shade but tanks are empty
Train, the General, and Wizard striking off toward the Floridas
Train, the General, and Wizard striking off toward the Floridas