Goodbye, Golf Clubs. Hello, Hiking Boots and Kayak. – The New York Times

Photo – New York Times

When I walk outside, I sometimes fantasize about what I would do if I did not have my present connections my family, friends, and work. I’d leave the house with my pack on my back and walk west for a long time.

I’d veer up from Maine to take a northerly route, where I’d head for Montana, where I’d visit for a while with my oldest son Lincoln and his wife Stephanie in Livingston.

After that, I’d walk to San Francisco and hang out with my other son, Arlo and his partner Alanna.  I’d probably take a plane flight home.

I am hoping to be done working in four years.  I’m whittling down my obligations, footprint, and needs so that I can live off Social Security and my Maine state retirement.  I want to rent out my camp on Hobbs Pond in the summer and the apartment in my house for additional income.

In the meantime I tell myself, “I gotta be ready for the call !”
I feel like I am enlisted in some sort of backpacker’s version of the National Guard reserve,  ever-present for the call to arms.

What call?
Why, that would be the universe offering me another “adventure door” to walk through.    It is possible that it could be a walking, biking, snowshoeing, or maybe even expedition motorcycling adventure.

I was called up from reserve status this  week.
I got an offer for a month’s walk this summer with one of my hiking pals from the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails. At first I turned it down, but now it looks possible.  I am pretty worked up.

In the meantime, I’d be putting in my hour or so hiking or biking while I decide what to do.  With my new practice of walking in the dark at night under the moon or starlight, I am keeping that small glow of hope alive.

It’s no coincidence that today’s Bangor Daily News had the following reprint of this New York Times article —>>>”Many retirees enjoy the physical outdoor challenges of hiking, mountain climbing and bicycling and do it on the cheap.”  Please check it out.  It’s an alternative to “Retiring on the Couch”

Goodbye, Golf Clubs. Hello, Hiking Boots and Kayak. – The New York Times

Why “The Revenant” feels like the real deal 

Because Canada’s Mors Kochanski was technical adviser to the movie, that’s why.  If you don’t know about Mors, you don’t know much about the increasingly popular subset of outdoor adventuring known as Bushcraft.   Wikipedia says that, “Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, and rope and twine-making, among others.”

Here’s the back story about Mors and his part to play in ensuring that actual bushcraft is portrayed in The Revenant.  I particularly like the part where he talks about making good money in consulting to the movie.

I am headed back to the theater tonight for a second viewing  of The Revenant.  I don’t go much.  The last movie that I saw before this was The Hobbit.

I shun any horror movie, and generally turn off the TV when shows get unnecessarily gory.   However, I am intrigued by the rough, soiled, and worn quality of this movie.  Yes, the violent parts are hard to take, but the acts that are carried out are characteristic of daily life of that era.  Someone else wrote that these folks ate meat, wore skins and furs, and therefore killed large animals on a regular basis.  They were also in total fight or flight mode, due to the constant threat of hostile natives.

Here’s the trailer for The Revenant.

Strava, Snow, and Stoicism or Moving Along the Fitness Trail

It had been a struggle for me to meet my 2016 fitness goals here in the winter in Maine this month. I have been reaching deep to log in an hour a day of hard walking or bicycling- outdoors, of course.  Here’s the January 19 report.

Days = Hours = Good
Days = Hours = Good

When I finally made it back home last night, it was close to 8 pm, with an outside temperature of 11 degrees, and steady strong wind blowing around 20 miles an hour. I even had to bust through a snow drift on the Barnestown Road near the Pearse farm in Hope on the way home from The Bog, where I earned myself a meager 4 miles toward my quest to ride my bicycles 1,000 miles in Maine in 2016.

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I really wanted to stay home tonight and avoid the discomfort of the cold and the exertion that my body would need in order to move through this loose, dry snow pack on my new Surly Ice Cream truck.  But….the social nature of belonging to The Bubbas, a local, like-minded tribe of mountain bike nuts was one of the deciding factors that put me out there tonight.
Was it easy to get out to ride tonight ?

However, there is definitely a strength in numbers.   I rode tonight with six other guys. We shifted around our positions in line as we moved though the loose, often sketchy snow pack.  If I got too fagged out, I pulled over and let someone else move ahead and pack down the tread a bit more.
I also gained some inspiration from a book that I have been enjoying this week:  A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. FullSizeRender 5 The book came my way from a book review by Tim Smith, Master Maine Guide and chief of Jack Mountain Bushcraft School here in Maine.

I had just reading the chapter entitled The Dichotomy of Control, where my takeaway lesson was encapsulated in the following sentence, “ A better strategy for getting what you want, he says, is to make it your goal to want only those things that are easy to obtain- and ideally to want only those things that you can be certain of obtaining.”

Another thing that helped was for me to visualize the successes that I have already achieved when I moved ahead at this familiar junction of  Do I Really Want To Do This Right Now?
I reminded myself that I would probably not be miserably cold even though it was frigid out.  This particular ride starts with a couple hundred foot climb almost to the 1 mile mark on Mountain Road.  That is usually enough to get warmed up inside of my winter riding outfit, which is not as heavy or bulky as you might think.  I also reminded myself that I have been out doing this many times already. I have rode in the dark on the snow and ice in the winter guided by a headlamp and a handlebar mounted light for a few decades.
I was even packing a third source of emergency lighting tonight- a brand new Black Diamond Spot headlamp of 130 lumens.  I didn’t need it, but if I had, it would have allowed me to see my way through the ride.
Tonight, I was not able to make the usual Bog ride mileage, but I wasn’t the only one.  It’s much more difficult to ride out there this week.  If the days had been warmer and the night below freezing it might have been a superhighway of snow.  But it wasn’t.

I think the Stoics might have something to say about that.

Snowstorm+Strava=Microadventure !

I got another nudge from my son Lincoln this week. The Jamrog guys ( plus Stephanie, my one and only daughter-in-law) all use the Strava app.  If you don’t know about it, you should.  I don’t care about the competitive aspects of the app, but am really pumped up about the Goals that you are able to access from the premium membership at just $59  a year.

I have set two activity goals for myself this year. Well… three.
In 2015, I was able to use Strava Premium to ramp up the number of times that I went out the door and hike, walk, or ride my bike.  My goal was to put 365 hours of exercise in for the calendar year.  I ended up bettering that by logging 406 hours.

This year, I plan to:
1)    Ride mountain bikes 1,000 miles
2)    Hike 1,000 miles.
3)    Log 456 hours doing this two activities

Lincoln and I were talking two days ago on the phone and he told me that he is trying to shoot for 8 hours a week, so that he can reach 365 hours of activity out  in Montana.  His reasoning is that by going for 1 more hour each week or a regular basis, you build up a bank of hours to draw on for those days when you just can’t get out.

So, I checked my Strava progress for January.

January data
January data

Last week, I had starting to fall behind in reaching my goals, so in the last week, I have almost caught up.

Here’s an encouraging post from today. We have a full blow blizzard outside right now, but who cares? I was able to log an hour and forty-five minutes and over 6 miles this morning.

Today's snowstorm hike
Today’s snowstorm hike

I’m only able to catch up by walking at night and stretching a bit. For example, I walked in today’s snowstorm.  I’ll do whatever it takes to try and ramp up my activity.  It’s a long and sometimes bleak winter up here in Maine and exercise really makes the difference in my outlook.

I also had a microadventure today.

Instead of sticking to High Street, I detoured up and over the ridge off Moody Mountain and then went along Muddy Ridge Road and back around Levensellar Pond to get back home.

A mysterious set of tracks heading off beside what we call the Tarantino farm lured me into the woods.

Who?  Where ?
Who? Where ?

I decided to check out where this truck went.

The tracks went all the way up through a long narrow hayfield, where then ended just before a break in a stone wall over which I am able to ride my bikes. I had gone in so far off road at this point that I decided to keep going uphill on the unbroken snow to reach Muzzy Ridge Road.

Here are some photos of my personal bike path.

Camouflaged trail
Camouflaged trail

I am not showing you the bypasses to obstructions that I have cut for myself in these pics.

Trail is close to the left of the oak’s trunk

Before the snow came this month, I took Mike Hartley for a ride . This is what the top looks like in full fall color:


Here is what it looks like now.

IMG_0006 (1)

Coming over the high point, I started walking north where I saw another fresh set of 4WD tracks coming south from Muzzy Ridge Road that stopped before the serious tangle of trees on this old road.  I decided that the same truck had worked its way up both sides in an unsuccessful effort to make a continuous trip from High Street to Muzzy Ridge Road.

This is just the sort of back woods adventuring that I really enjoy doing in my rural neighborhood.  It is also why I’m done with the gym.

Midcoast Maine Fat Biking: Ride Local, Ride Often !

Hosmer Pond Jan. 2015
Ian and Buck on Hosmer Pond-  Jan. 2015

The real deal is never the same as the ideal.
Take fat-tire bikes for example.

Advertised as the children of snowy Alaska’s Iditabkes, these newly minted cash cows of the shape-shifter bike industry have a magical draw when they are viewed in real life, as opposed to in magazine ads or Instagram photographs. Fatbiking in Alaska The bikes themselves are borderine cartoonish.

Hoar frost holds up the Pugsley
Hoar frost holds up the Pugsley

With blocky, simple frame lines, it’s the wheels, no – the tires themselves, ballooning out to five inches in width that elicit broad smiles, and then chuckles on first sight.  Then you eventually ride one, and that chuckle becomes a laugh and you are hooked.

Except you don’t float like “a magic carpet on wheels” over just any old snowscape.  Snows of up to a couple, three inches are not even worth discussing.  The bike goes. However, once the snow gets to be about 5” deep the magic of riding these chunkers fades and we enter the world of sweat, work, and subsequent exhaustion.

Pace line over Coleman Pond
Buck, Andre, and Erik riding over frozen Coleman Pond in 2015

At least it is possible to move with a fattie under you, but once you enter deeper snow this happens: you pedal and then experience the disappointment of being propelled forward for a meager distance. The promised magic morphs into a grunt.

Which is not generally a problem for me. I have the 100% package of the Polish suffering gene, which propels me well into longer periods of low level leg work.

A  friend of mine just bought a Surly Pugsley. He was surprisingly frustrated that it took hard work to pedal the thing in 5” of snow.

The winter track beneath a bike is best experienced when someone or something has packed puffy snow down.

Love that tractor!
Love that tractor tread!

The packing hierarchy goes like this, from best downward:  snowmobile, 4WD truck tread, ATV tread, snowshoe tracks, ski tracks, footprints, and the occasional winter game trail.

So, we pack our own trails to ride on the snow. Last Saturday, I spent the morning helping my next door neighbor Matt cut out an overgrown discontinued snow mobile trail.

Matt had a full compliment of gear, that we hauled into the woods for the morning:  chain saw, limb trimmer, axe, files, rope, even a stump vise.

Matt and the gear heading into the woods
Matt and the gear heading into the woods

Years ago, the winter landscape around this part of town was punctuated with the sounds of snowmobiles, day and night.  Not so much anymore.  Times have changed- the snows are often slim, and when there is snow on the ground, many of the locals pack up their sleds into enclosed trailers and head up north to Jackman or Rangeley to ride the snowmobile superhighways that make Quebec an easy haul.

So, we cut away a path for our bikes, and then walk them a bit , and then ride them some more until they are in a state where forward motion is not only possible, but productive.

The moral of this story is find some folks who do regularly ride winter trails where you live and make an effort  to contribute to packing a better path for those that will follow.

 Bubba ride from Jan. 2014
Bubba ride from Jan. 2014

Right now in Midcoast Maine, that’s the Rockland Bog.

Rockland Bog Trails from Bog. Rd.
Rockland Bog Trails from Bog. Rd.- Photo from John Anders

The network of trails at the bottom of the Rollins Road in Camden is now fast, but a bit icy at the start.

Snow Bowl lot to Rollins Rd. trails
Snow Bowl lot to Rollins Rd. trails – John Anders photo

Word has it that Camden Hills State Park is getting good and that Tanglewood 4H Camp is ridable but I plan to personally checked those out his week.

And then there’s this project I am working on with my nest door neighbor, Matt. Hopefully, we’ll turn that into something good.

Ride Local, Ride Often!

Avoid Hedonic Adaptation

Reblogging today’s post from Tim Smith at Jack Mountain Bushcraft School.  Tim cuts right to the core with this post, plus I’ve picked up a book recommendation that I am going to follow up, as well.  Tim’s been a great source to help me to stay off the treadmill.

Source—>: Avoid Hedonic Adaptation

A goal I’ve set for myself this year is to be mindful and grateful for what I’ve done and what I’ve got. My plan for doing so is to avoid hedonic adaptation…..


Photo from Jack Mountain Bushcraft blog

Fitness Goal + Data = Gold !

You can’t purchase your miles of foot powered travel.  Sure, you can buy experiences that frame human powered travel, but to move from point A to point B simply takes work, and time.

For 2015, my oldest son Lincoln encouraged me to set a daily goal of 1 hour of either bicycling, jogging, or backpacking.  Being a data hound, I track my progress.  If data is not of the slightest of interest to you, you’d better close this window and move on.

Until January 1, 2015 I logged my exercise time with the Fitbit app on my iPhone 5s. People may not realize that Fitbit lets you track workouts without necessarily buying a $150 Fitbit wrist tracker.  The free Fitbit app utilizes my iPhone 5s’s M7 motion coprocessor, a part specifically designed to measure motion-related data from the iPhone’s accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.  My “cheater” Fitbit works fine. I  aim for 10,000 daily steps, the equivalent of 5 miles of foot travel. In fact, Fitbit just “awarded” me the Monarch Migration badge, for completing 2,500 miles since I logged in on Jan. 1, 2014.

But things clicked even better for me when I ponied up $59 (a year) for the Strava Premium membership. I wanted to access the Strava Goals, unavailable on the free version.  With a bump up to Premium, you get to set time or distance goals and track your progress by the week or the month, as my 2015 data below illustrates.  This particular feature made all the difference to me in 2015.

screenshot 11 I decided to aggregate both bicycling and foot travel (hiking/walking/jogging) toward that 1 hour goal. By checking via the  various choices of  Strava Premium’s graphics, I could see how I was doing each week. If I was experiencing a slim week, I’d plan to go outside on the weekend and would, for example, log a 3 hour hike in the State Park here in town and end up finishing the week with at least 7 hours of fairly brisk motion.

I surpassed my daily goal of 1 hour (365 hours) for 2015 !  Here’s the data:

screenshot 12I’m not going to rant about the 85 personal records that I accomplished in the 273 activities that I engaged in during 2015, however, that is another ingenious aspect of Strava.  Or the fact that many of the folks that I hike and ride with are also using Strava, where we can view and encourage each other’s efforts, and even send each other GPX tracks of interesting routes that we’ve discovered.

It just keeps going and going….If you need even higher degree of data analysis ( like the” 3D rotating elevation profiler”) of your Strava data then check out Veloviewer!

screenshot 4

So, I have three new goals for 2016:

-1,000 miles of biking

-1,000 miles of hiking in Maine

-75 minutes of daily biking, hiking, or backpacking (525 minutes / week).  To read about the magic  525 minute threshold, check out one of my posts from 6 month ago entitled  Exercising Inadequately, Excessively, or Just Right ?

Anyone else logging their lives out there, or do you just go ?



First Fat Ride in 2016

BubbasinBogTen riders set out the morning of January 1 to kick off the first day of The Bubbas’ 2016 mountain bike riding season.

Weather conditions from the top of the ground up were perfect for January: temps around freezing, sunny patches on the ground, blue skies, no wind. If you didn’t wear too much today, you would be warm and dry, without feeling too much like the rolly-polly Michelin man.

However, from the top of the snow down to muddy earth below, the conditions were not as good.

People hear about “snow bikes” running on 4-inch and even 5-inch wide low PSI pressure tires and assume that anytime there is snow on the ground you can get out there and have a magic floating experience. Not really.

Take this morning for instance. As we started the ride the air temperature rose above freezing. What was solid and grippy underneath before the sun did its thing started getting soft and mushy- the snow started loosening up. Translation–>I’m puting out twice as much physical effort to move through 4″ of snow that is loose than if it were packed and refrozen.

Here’s a video of one of our most excellent Bubba riders, Ian, making the Bog entrance segment look easy when it really wasn’t. Notice the sideways front end throw and the correction at 0:04.  Upper body  engagement is the hallmark difference between summer and winter riding in these parts.

Nowhere is the riding experience between a stationary bike (think Spinning) and riding outdoors on an actual trail so pronounced as it is under these conditions. The upper body and lower back are engaging repeatedly, in order for forward movement to occur.

Here’s some info about my personal experience today on my Strava. The distance/moving time/elevation/suffer score tells it all. Wearing a heart rate chest strap today, I was pleased to see that my average heart rate was close to 100 beats higher per minute for the whole ride than is my normal resting pulse rate. The 400 calorie measure was definitely an underestimate.      :

screenshot 10

I’ve ridden this loop over 100 times, and it still brings me great pleasure to move through these woods.

By the look on Blaine’s face,  he’s enjoying it as well.

Periennially photogenic Blaine.
Perennially photogenic Blaine.

The day was fun.  It was tougher than usual out there, but as someone says on every one of these rides, “It sure beats the couch.”

Here is Nate the Great heading out.

I’m definitely coming back here on Sunday, where we’ll see the benefit of 10 riders who took the time to pack a fast, solid track today.

Definitely a happy New Year.