My Birthday Weekend- Hiking The Hills

Exiting the car in the iced-over parking lot on Friday afternoon I decided to leave my Stabilicer traction devices in the vehicle. 

My brother Roy was already walking on the multi-purpose trail and he shouted over, “No ice here” so in they went. I hate carrying extra weight and with all the pierogis, kielbasa, and my 8 person car-camping cook set bloating my pack I was well into 30 plus pounds on my back.  Stabilicers would have helped this weekend.

I started humping up the big hill.  Auntie Mame was walking beside me, decked out in her rain poncho.  My brother Roy was up ahead, as he was for most of the weekend’s hikes.

Mame and Roy embracing the real world of backpacking
Mame and Roy embracing the real world of backpacking

Less than a half-mile up the hill, we encountered the two lead hikers in our party, Kristi and David Kirkham, who love their granddaughter’s baby carriage so much that they use it any chance that they can !

No child was smothered on this hike

It was alternately sleeting and raining, so the following 9 miles were a slush walk.

Walking in cold rain at under 40 degrees is a setup for hypothermia. Once again, I was slightly under dressed:  two thin merino undershirts- one short  and one long sleeved, and a ratty, old Patagonia Specter rain shell holding it all together. In these conditions, I have to have something covering my hands. Today, the fix was waterproof mitten shells with felted wool mittens liners.

Who cares? We are staying in a cabin heated by a wood stove. Wet clothes will be dried out. Miles were traveled.  Old friends are also with me.

After we dropped off  our packs at the shelter, I accompanied Auntie Mame out to the alternate parking lot.

A Prudently Prepared Auntie Mame (Note poles, poncho, Stabilicers on her feet, and a hat!)

We were bringing in the last member of our overnight party. Both of us decided to accompany Ann Breyfogle on her walk in to join us.

Those two ladies had no problem walking up yet another big hill and making a couple of more miles as the foggy evening light started to fade.
Mame and Ann heading to shelter

For me, this weekend was also about hiking, and my plan for Saturday was to roll the walking odometer over into double digits for the day. I am fortunate enough to still have people who not only want to do this with me, but have the ability to make it happen.

Ann, Pat Hurley, and my brother Roy joined me.  Here is a photo taken at the today’s high point atop Mt. Megunticook.

Roy , Ann, and Pat
Roy , Ann, and Pat

Unfortunately there are no views from the summit so we descended on the often icy Ridge Trail.

Pat, making good use of his trekking poles on the ice
Pat, making good use of his trekking poles on the ice

We quickly reached the highly popular Ocean Lookout.

Pat pointing to his house in Rockland
Pat pointing to his house in Rockland

From here we descended to the junction of the Jack Williams Trail, which we followed for two miles where we came back onto the Ridge Trail.  I showed the group a short cut that eliminated a dangerously icy incline at the start of Zeke’s, which we took back to the Multipurpose Trail and the end of our day’s hike.  Here’s the morning’s Strava data:

screenshot 17The 5.5 mile hike took us two hours, which was super good time for the often icy path.   After an afternoon of reading, sleeping, and gabbing, Roy, Pat and I decided to take a night hike up to the top of Bald Rock Mountain.  Here are Pat and Roy, just before the sun left u in darkness.

What's up in that tree?
What’s up in that tree?

Kristi told us the moon rise over the Atlantic would not happen until 10:30 PM. She was absolutely correct. Although the starlight was astounding, we did need headlamps on the way down off Bald Rock and back to our shelter, where we added another 5 miles to our tally for the day.

Despite the crappy weather getting in on Friday, the weekend was a huge success.  If any of you know Ann, ask her about Uncle Tom’s uncanny ability to psychically locate lost car keys, including her’s.  I’d also like to thank John Bangeman for his Saturday visit, and a huge shout out to Martha Conway-Cole for guiding Pat and the rest of us through a most excellent, best ever, Saturday morning breakfast.

Special thanks also to Milllie’s PierogisTrouble Coffee, Leki Trekking poles, and this specialty paeo food that we consumed on on Saturday morning:

It's Bacon!
It’s Bacon!

My 2016 birthday present to myself was a weekend hanging with my brother, wife, and great outdoor adventure pals in ascending 3179 vertical feet in 21 miles.

Microadventure accomplished!

Jamrogs left, Kirkhams right. Plus Hurley and the carriage.

2016 Backpacking Schedule- Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures

Guided Backpacking Schedule 2016

June 7- July 6, 2016   Private backpacking trip

August 15-19, 2016Half of Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness

General Lee, Queso, and Denny dog

Suitable to those with limited backpacking experience.  We will walk 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail on this remote section of the AT in Maine. This trip will take in the 50 miles from Monson to approximate 100 Mile Wilderness mid-point.
This adventure will take approximately 5 days (4 nights). We’ll stay in lean-tos, and/or tents, space permitting.
Price Includes: Ground transportation from Lincolnville, ME, packing list, and skills instruction.  Meal assistance is available by arrangement.   Gear rental is an option.  Rentals Available: Backpack, trekking poles, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.
I can also help arrange your stay at local accommodations, which may include the night before & after your expedition. Up to 1 hour of pre-trip preparation consultation (via phone) is provided to participants.
Group size will be limited.
Price: $500
Link: My 2014 Half the Hundred Mile Wilderness blog report

September 2-10, 2016 The Whole Hundred ! (Mile Wilderness) (Monson-Abol Bridge)

Maine’s Hundred-Mile Wilderness is a huge, largely uninhabited region, beginning on the outskirts of Monson,ME. Many thru-hikers consider Maine the best part of the whole 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail.  The Hundred Mile Wilderness appears on many hiker’s Bucket List.    This trip will take place over 9 nights and 10 hiking days, allowing for ample time to settle into a comfortable and reasonable schedule.We will take advantage of a mid-point resupply service, so that we will not need to carry food for the whole 10 days. This trip will be suitable for a hiker who is able to carry 30 pounds on a 10 mile average per day. If you are interested in this trip but are not sure about your abilities and match for this hike, contact me to discuss.  We’ll stay in lean-tos, and/or tents, space permitting.

Price Includes:  -Ground transportation from Lincolnville ME, packing list, and skills instruction.  Meal assistance is available by arrangement.
-Up to 2 hours of pre-trip preparation consultation (via phone) is provided to participants.  -I can also help arrange your stay at local accommodations, which might include the night before & after your expedition.    Additional cost for mid-point resupply is not known at this time.   Group size will be limited.
Price: $900
Rentals Available:  Backpack, trekking poles, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.

ME: Registered Maine Guide, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Certified School Psychologist. I am also a Triple Crown Backpacker who has successfully thru-hiked over 8,000 miles on the three major long distance US trails- Appalachian Trail (2007), Pacific Crest Trail (2010), Continental Divide Trails (2013).IMG_2896 Successful backpacking requires engaging in a learning curve that is populated with multiple discomforting experiences. That list is agonizingly long: blisters, foot pain, shin splints, knee issues, dehydration, hypothermia, falls, burns, cuts, wild animal encounters, giardia, poisonous plants, and more. Too many of these experiences clumped together have the potential to cut short one’s hopes to connect with the actual experience of engaging in the natural world. I know what works.   My unique background and training has prepared me for assisting clients, both novice and experienced, to prepare for a successful wilderness experience by bolstering mental preparedness as well as advising clients about gear selection and on-trail techniques.

P1030010 We learn best by watching and then doing. More experienced backpackers can sharpen their own skills and gain “an edge” by watching and learning from a hiker who has accumulated over 10,000 hours in mastering the extensive skill set of this unique solo sport.

Private guided trips are also available by arrangement. If you have a Bucket List that includes backpacking, consider the advantages of contracting with me to help assure your success. For example, I have guided individuals to the summit of Katahdin. References available from hikers that I have assisted in this manner.

Contact Information:
207-230-4156 cell, texts

Your trip reservation can be secured with a 50% deposit.




Permission to Engage with the Landscape? Granted

Microadventures give me major satisfaction. These compressed experiences ignite interest in the wild spaces that surround our lives.
Each morning, we wake, wash, dress, eat, and then work or play in mostly predictable patterns.  I spend my time mostly living reruns.   On good days like today, the jailbreak in my heart launches me over that high perimeter wall.

I’m outside 80 minutes a day, riding my mountain bikes, or hiking almost every day, no matter the weather.  My trusty Strava app tells me that I’ve only missed 8 days in 2016.  I’m a big fan of walking or riding right out the door, rather than driving somewhere to engage with the outdoors.

There still is plenty on challenging terrain, around High Street. Here’s the field that was for sale in the mid-1970’s.

IMG_5891  Back then, I almost bought it, but ended up with an even better neighboring piece that also was a big, south facing field with a stand of red oak that I harvested to craft this timber frame house .

One of the big pluses of living here is the very large tracts of connected land (one of over 1,000 acres) that are undisturbed and unpopulated.  If I walk a mile toward the neighboring town of Hope, the electric and phone cables end and so do the houses.  You enter a wild zone as you trek along a leaf-canopied rural road with no overhead wires to be seen.

I’ve walked past this signpost tree hundreds of times.

Nope? Maybe ?
Nope? Maybe ?

Today, I finally remembered that I had received permission to walk the fields and woods that surround the isolated Moody Pond.

Looking toward Mt. Megunticook
Looking toward Mt. Megunticook

I stood there stunned for a minute or so before I turned off the road and went in.

What took me so long?  I have walked here for almost 40 years but have never left the road right here before.   Loons live here in the summer, when I hear their demented, haunting cries as they wing their way between Moody and Levensellar ponds.

I was immensely satisfied  entering this new world.


What else do we miss as we wander around in a state of forget ?

Got Older, Got Better

It’s crazy!
I am improving at biking, despite collecting Social Security.

Strava tells me it’s so.  Strava is my favorite App.

This one data set sums up my activity for 2015.
screenshot 15

I logged 406 hours of physical activity in 2015, all taking place out of doors ( no gym).  Strava is only analyzes cumulative runs and bike rides, so even my hikes are listed as runs right now. I was out for 273 activities on the 365 days when I could have logged activity.

My hourly goal for 2015 was to log 365 hours.  I beat that.

I have been using Strava for four straight years now. Strava is a motivational tool that assists me in moving my body outdoors.

Another aspect of Strava that I particularly enjoy is how Strava analyzes segments of trail and routes that I commonly ride, and compares those times as months go by.

I  am totally encouraged by the 85 personal records that I established in 2015.  Translation:  Even though I am 4 years older and supposedly in the rocking chair lineup, I am moving faster, and more efficiently than I was when I was younger. 

Take yesterday, for example.  I finally cleared the particularly challenging mess of swampy water illustrated in the photo below.  It’s a 50 foot segment on the north side of Moody Mountain that I have never been able to ride through without stopping or planting my front wheel up to the axle in mud.  The entrance is from the woods road in the upper left portion of the picture. I then pick my way down through the ruts , roots, mud pits, and rocks to exit through the bottom right side.        I cleared it!

Sure, the frozen ground helped a bit,  but still, there was moving water through the middle of this mess. I was able to ramp up my momentum when hitting this challenging segment.

Mudded up Ice Cream Truck
Mudded up Ice Cream Truck

I was also riding my Surly Ice Cream Truck fat tire bike, and the 4.7″ tires, at 5 psi, gave me the additional traction I needed to churn and advance through.

Finally !
Finally !

I’m looking forward to a great riding season here in Midcoast Maine in 2016.  I’m physically ready, and 15 pounds lighter than I normally am coming out of the cold winter.

2016 is shaping up really well so far, but I plan to get out a bit today to keep it going.

Looks good to me
Looks good to me


Fitness Update: Jan-Feb 2016

How much persuasion do we need to expand our  lives?

Yet another research summary from the Health section of the NY Times came into my in-box this week with yet another angle of evidence for getting up off the couch and pushing out a run or fast walk.
I’ve been on a biking/ running/ walking routine ever since I was a teenager.  Now that I am finally collecting Social Security, I have the time and motivation to get this exercise thing dialed in just right.

I am spending 2016 with a goal of 70 minutes a day moderate to intense activity.  I’m backpacking, hiking, walking, and biking to get there.
How’s it going so far?
It’s not easy, but, 60 days into 2016,  I am there. Here’s some hard earned hours, thanks to Strava’s support:

screenshot 14
I got some support and direction from what I read this past year in Younger Next Year,
a book I read at the end of 2015.  51Y1MfFUvKL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_  The book’s premise is this:  exercise six days a week, don’t eat crap, and connect and commit to others.

What I find missing in most people’s fitness plan is that they lack one, or they set themselves up for abandoning their plans by not making the exercise activities fun enough to look forward to.

Since I gave up my decades-long practice of hitting the gym several days a week in September of 2013, I’ve kept 15 pounds off my frame, and have improved my cholesterol numbers.

This book helped- Microadventures. 2015-07-03-micro-adventures  It turned around my thinking about the meaning of an adventure.  We crave adventures in our lives, but think of them as divorced from our everyday routines.  Humphrey shatters that misconception in this book, which encourages viewing your local terrain as a rich source of potential mini-adventures.

I had a microadventure last night, when I veered off my usual routine 5 mile loop, and  revisiting an old woods road that I have not been on in the last thirty years, despite the turn to that hidden world coming up less than a mile’s walk from my house.

The road less traveled
The road less traveled

I also got to practice improvisation on yesterday’s hike, where complete darkness settled in just as I reached the corner of a gigantic wild blueberry field.  If I were to carry out my intended route, I’d need to enter the woods and bushwhack up to the ridge above, where I’d connect with a known route.  Sure I had a GPS and a flashlight, but given the air temp of eighteen degrees and a steady north wind coming at me, my inner warning system got activated.

It’s taken me 6 decades to get there, but I now I can hear the speechless voice inside, telling me, “Not a good idea! Go back, now.”  So I reversed direction and retraced my route back home, guided by Orion above me.

Today, I plan to enjoy our snowless winter landscape on another route, right out my back door door.

from the NYTimes : How Exercise may Lower Cancer Risk

5 spaces left for my “Make Your Multifuel Backpacking Stove” workshop

One-night stove building workshop in Camden, Maine, 6-8:30 pm.

screenshot 13Here is a picture of what the stove will look like:
Further details about the stove itself are in this updated blog post from 2012. This post feature a video clip of the stove in action, and illustrates the steps involved in constructing this tidy little unit.

  The evening will include an  introductory talk about some of the science and history of these stoves. You will learn how to get the most efficiency out of the unit.  This double-walled, gassification chamber stove burns denatured alcohol,  solid fuel tablets, and biomass- wood, dried dung, or charcoal.  Because of the hands-on nature of the class it will be limited to 8 people.  Sign up!

Online registration here.