My Fake Camping Day

This was the week when my backpacking pal Bad Influence and I were to set up a hot tent base camp for three nights in Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park and enjoy day trips out of that heated tent, either fat tire biking, snowshoeing or skiing. A weird weather shift from 14 degrees below zero to 51 degrees over a 24 hour period last weekend set up a stretch of rain, high winds and warm days that forced us to cancel our trip.

So, I found myself  in the rather unusual position of having time at home cleared of any particular schedule.

I decided to head out.

There wasn’t much I could do on Tuesday, the first day we were supposed to hike in.  The rain was driving into the south side of the house in sheets, at the same time that the outdoor thermometer read 50, and the foot of snow cover was rapidly turning into heavy slush.

But Wednesday looked better, and even though it barely dropped to the freezing mark overnight, the snow was too loose to pedal on with my Ice Cream Truck. I decided to spend the morning  connecting up the ends of two of my  hikes.

I should have put the map, compass, and traction devices into my day pack. I fared OK, with my GPS and iPhone, but could have done better.

After walking east on High Street from the house, I veered left and headed north.  Someone had been into the Tarantino ‘s land after the ground thawed and chewed it up pretty bad.

Landowner might be pissed
Landowner might be pissed

After mucking my way up that lane, I sloshed along the edge of this long hay field.

Big hay field looking toward sunrise
Big hay field looking toward sunrise

At the far corner of the field, the trail goes over this old stone wall onto one of the oldest roads in town. Now abandoned, this road heads directly into Searsmont on its way to Augusta. It dates back to the early 1700’s.

Trucks churn mud. Period.
Trucks wore down the wall

Here is a picture of lives gone by. In the forefront are old bricks that were likely were once a part of the chimney of the house where just a crumbling stone foundation remain behind.

Old bricks front from foundation in back

Less than two hundred feet later, the old road breaks open into this panoramic wild blueberry field.  I once had the good fortune of seeing this glorious  stretch of landscape from Ben’s helicopter.

Looking back, trail on left
Looking back, trail on left

Soon, I descended onto the Muzzy Ridge Road, and then veered off to  the French Road North, where studded soles on the bottom of my boots would have helped on this section of icy road.

Traction needed here
Traction needed here

The hobbit world might be be right through these openings in these old corrals.

Ancient walled corrals
Ancient walled corrals

This very old cemetery is at the end of a series of small walled areas.

Buzzell Cemetary
Buzzell Cemetery

An the last passable point on French Road North this rehab project is headed for wet times due to the open door.

Rough winter ahead yet
Rough winter ahead yet

From here, I have to figure out the connector to the other end of French Road.

Slogging along
Slogging along

Here’s a strong-running melt stream that I jumped across.  It reminded me of hiking in the high Sierras.

Ready to jump
Ready to jump

Eventually I came upon signage.

Finally, signs
Finally, signs

Things were headed in the right direction as I moved uphill to the ridge.

Cut over beech growth
Cut over beech growth

Eventually I made it out again to Moody Mountain Road, somewhere other than French Road North.

Downhill from here
Downhill from here

Strava records from this hike follow, walking counterclockwise from my house on High Street.  (Note:  I went out again for along hike the next day, where I did even better in completing the linkage between French Roads North and South)

Moody Mountain ramble
Moody Mountain ramble

screenshot 9

My Keynote address at the Winter Camping Skills Symposium

In October of 2014,  I flew out to Minnesota where I delivered the Saturday night Keynote address at the Annual Winter Camping Symposium.  I just discovered that Four Dog Stove has released a video of my 90 minute presentation.  I have had several folks tell me that they would very much like to have heard my presentation.

Well, here it is.

I thank my good friend and supporter, Don Kivelus, of Four Dog Stove, for spurring me into action when the scheduled speaker, Mors Kochanski, took sick at his home in British Columbia and was unable to fly to the US to speak to the group.  I used Four Dog’s Bushcooker LT multi-fuel titanium backpacking  stove on my 2010 PCT and and 2013 CDT thru hikes.

Many folks don’t know that,  in addition to his sales of  stoves, Don is one of the top mail order suppliers to the bushcraft community world-wide.

Four Dog has also invested in professional Youtube support to bring an array of instructional videos to the pubic. Don’s YouTube page is a storehouse of almost one hundred interesting and informative information to keep you safe and warm in the outdoors.

Contact me at if you would like to have this type of presentation or  workshops at your organization’s event. 



Expert recommends northern winter footwear choices

Tim Smith has launched a video series focusing on key aspects of best practices for not only survival, but what I call “thrival” in the northern winter forests. This video lays out your two choices: cold/dry, and cold/wet scenarios. It is a good review for me.

I am planning a few days of camping in Acadia this coming week, and the forecast three days out looks like I will be living in the cold/wet setup.

On the Couch After the Sugarloaf Fat Tire Festival

IMG_5716“If I was a cell phone, I’d be at eighteen percent right now,’ mumbled John as he lay sprawled on the condominium’s couch as thirteen Bubbas settled into a much needed retreat after I logged 15 miles on the snow covered trail here at the Sugarloaf Fat Tire Festival.

It was a horror show driving here.  A greasy snow storm that ended up dropping ten inches of wet thick snow on midcoast Maine added two extra hours to what was normally a two hour ride. Numerous cars and trucks were sliding off the road.

Jacknived trailer truck
Jacknived trailer truck
We witnessed a very scary episode of a car going through a red light and doing a 360 in an intersection coming into Augusta on route 17.

But today easily made up for our afternoon of fight or flight tension yesterday.  The day started at 11 degrees, with a relatively benign wind that hovered in single digits all day. The warm point of the day was at 28 degrees. Although this may sound cold, it is primo. Winter biking is best on frozen surfaces that are not slick. Today’s conditions made for fast riding on a surface that was easier to roll on than in the summer, with far fewer rocks or roots to get in the way.

I am positively giddy about riding 15 miles today.

Strava is a GPS-connected app that I use to track my outdoor activities, be it biking, walking, hiking, or backpacking. The flyby feature is really interesting. Here’s the Strava flyby of today’s group riude.  It is a virtual video game that depicts us Bubbas riding our bikes. Check it out and chuckle.

Here are some representative photos of our adventures today:

Vendor Alley
Vendor Alley
We started by checking out he even’s hub.  One of our local shops, Sidecountry Sports had a strong booth representing their services.

Then we meandered down from our condo to access an initial ride on broad, groomed, packed, and very fun trails.  IMG_5713 2


Here’s a very short video clip of part of the trail:

Later, we got onto the Narrow Gauge railroad bed until we had to ramp big-time uphill to the Stratton Brook Hut.

It was a climb of approximately two and a-half miles. I have enjoyed staying at these huts. Their food was not overpriced, for what they have to do to get the raw materials there into in the winter. Service was great. Overnight price are reasonable.

At a few points, I had this view of Sugarloaf:

FullSizeRender 5.jpg

Lots of wood and stone, flanks the communal rooms of the Stratton Brook Hut.


Ian , Buck ,and Andre sipping complimentary free coffee.  They are sitting in front of a crackling fire.


If you do make a visit to this hut on a bike, be sure to opt for taking Oak Knoll trail down. After all the effort to make the climb you need to enjoy descending two and a half swoopy singletrack down. 

There was nothing left when I rolled back uphill to the condo.  The first thing that I did when I finished showering was to hit the couch with John.

Later, came the day’s stories.  They go on and on.







How to enjoy snowy trails, frozen lakes in Acadia National Park — Outdoors — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

“A lot of people think the park is closed, but it’s not.”

Auntie Mame chilling out at Acadia's Blackwoods Campground - 2009
Auntie Mame chilling out at Acadia’s Blackwoods Campground – 2009

Acadia is the only National Park in New England, and it is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  During the summer, it’s so crowded ( estimated 2.8 million visitors) that I stay away, confining my enjoyment of the Park’s hiking and biking trails to the fall, and the winter.

Check out Aislinn Sarnacki’s excellent article on winter use of the park.  It’s in today’s Bangor Daily News and right here, via this link:  How to enjoy snowy trails, frozen lakes in Acadia National Park — Outdoors — BDN Maine

Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures is heading up to Blackwoods Campground  for three nights of winter camping this month. I am not sure how much snow will be around by then, but we’ll adapt to either cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or fat tire biking. We’ll have the benefit of my heated tent.   It’s going to happen!

As a bonus post, here’s Day 1 (of 3) of my last winter camping trip at Blackwoods, from 2009.


Souping Is the New Juicing – The New York Times

Some of my readers have commented and even started their own phauxpho soup lunch programs after seeing my numerous pics from Instagram. Here’s the latest:

Rich homemade broth with garden carrots and broccoli. Plus kimchi!
Rich homemade broth with garden carrots and broccoli. Plus kimchi!

I must have snagged the idea from the universe of food trends that was passing by my window a year or so ago.

Check out the newest option for those of you who crave something more than offered by the standard juicing cleanse diet.

“Soup cleanses promise an easier detox than a juice cleanse.”

Source: Souping Is the New Juicing – The New York Times

 Danny Ghitis for The New York Times
Danny Ghitis for The New York Times