Very interesting research on postal service workers in Scotland, but already on the books.
My ongoing research confirms that brisk walking, while mixing in occasional intervals, and even 30 second run bursts yields greatest health benefits. However, it will be very difficult for most of us to sustain a 4 minute walking pace, for even an hour. A confounding variable here is that the postal workers are also carrying weight on their packs.
Wait! Isn’t this power walking, or heaven forbid, brisk backpacking?
Functional fitness may well demand dramatic lifestyle choices, like moving to the Maine woods and working the land, or living in a city and giving up a car and walking instead of using public transportation. I’m not kidding!
In September I spit in a plastic collection device and sent the saliva to Great Britain to be analyzed by FitnessGenes. The lab extracted my DNA from the saliva sample and analyzed it.
Three weeks later I received an analysis of 40 genetic variations related to the big three of sports types: endurance, strength, and speed. My results also included the types of training that I should undertake, along with specific dietary recommendations and even supplements that my particular body should respond to.
I’m still digesting the results, but the actual data confirmed that I was on the right track with my approach to training and eating even before I learned about what was up, or down in some findings, with my genes.
In sum, I have a profile suggesting that my endurance is stronger than strength and speed. I have been successful in long distance endurance events ( Triple Crown of hiking), so the details of my particular genetic package will be useful in my planning to continue to home my dietary and training choices.
My experience with FitnessGenes led me to understand that there can be no one “true” dietary or training recommendation that fits all, whether it be drinking milk as an adult, or as the following article explains, consuming coffee. There are few things the wellness world is more divided on than morning joe.
I love coffee. I thank my parents, Chester and Isabel, for providing me with a favorable CYP1A2 gene. My AA genotype characterizes me as a fast coffee metabolizer. Forty percent of people are fast metabolizers. About 45 percent have both a slow and a fast copy, and 15 percent carry two copies of the slow allele. Studies have shown that taking caffeine improves performance in sports and exercise. Research also indicates that fast metabolizers, like me, also saw their risk of hypertension fall as their coffee intake rose.
Despite being the only guest in the Mount Chase Lodge last night I was served a most excellent breakfast at 7:30, the time of my choice. Sky prepared pancakes, fruit slices, and bacon from a pig that had secured full employment here, on table scrap duty this past season. Fresh coffee, home made muffins and a fresh fruit bowl rounded out the meal.
I was more than willing to take up Sky’s offer of leftover bacon and last night’s brisket. At two degrees outside, I was not concerned about food spoilage.
I’ve waited for this winter bike camping trip for a long time. My last bike packing trip was in 2012 on the Sunrise Trail when I joined my neighbor and biking pal Andy Hazen on a stretch from Ellsworth toward Cobscook Bay. You can check out that most interesting bikepacking trip here.
I have that same Surly Pugsley now. It was the perfect choice for these two pristine winter biking days.
It’s a fat tire bike, with 4 inch wide tires, inflated to 7 pounds of pressure, enabling the wide footprint to track easily over this packed groomed snow.
It is a 15 mile ride directly west over a roller coaster of a tarred road from Mt. Chase Lodge to the parking lot for the Monument.
Ask the staff at the Lodge about the signage that marks the left turn after the bridge over the Penobscot River just before the end of the pavement. A short drive down a plowed gravel road leads to a small parking lot where the winter trail begins.
I parked right next to Guthook’s VW, as we were the only visitors here for these two days.
The map on the KWWNM website is detailed enough to be all you’ll need. One caution-print your own copy in color. Mine was in gray scale. I would have been easier to navigate if my map was color coordinated with the red, orange, yellow, and blue triangles marking intersections and trails.
With my parking pass visible on the dashboard, I unloaded the bike from inside my Honda Element and took off, smiling from ear to ear at the superb condition of the surface beneath my wheels. Access to trails and these huts is free of charge, however, overnight use requires reservations.
There hasn’t been any fresh snow here for more than a week. KWWNM’s snowmobiles tow dedicated groomers that have packed the trail! There were two faint cross country ski grooves that I stayed out of, preferring to ride to the side of the fresh snowmobile track.
The surface was not at all icy, but composed of groomed snow that refroze into a decent grip of a track.
This screen shot of my Strava feed summarizes my mileage, speed, and moving time. It was a relatively quick 10 mile ride into Big Spring Brook Brook Hut.
Here’s the elevation profile.
There were three parts to this ride.
The first was four miles over relatively flat terrain on the Messer Pond-Orrin Falls Road, an old logging path eventually passing through a summer gate leading to Haskell Hut on the shore of the expansive Haskell Deadwater.
Haskell Lodge is only a tenth of a mile off the trail and is worth a rest stop.
It is the smaller of the two cabins that are options for your over night in The Monument. The doors are unlocked, but day users are asked to refrain from using the propane cook burners, lights, and firewood.
These are community huts, where everyone is welcome up to the maximum number of sleeping platforms and reservations are required.
Next, I rode along the edge of the Deadwater where I made a brief stop at the spectacular view at Haskell Rock Pitch. I heard it well before I saw it. Impressive!
From there the trail enters thicker, older forest for almost a mile when you reach a fork. With the spring melt down, extra caution is advised with regards to deep meltdown holes on the bridges and sections of deep animal tracks on the trail.
This is dangerous:
The riding is fast and the setting is isolated.
The last segent starts with a right on the blue diamond trail for three more miles or so out past Little Messer Pond where the path ascends to a high point on 900 feet.
You will know a turn is coming when you pass over a flowing stream up high and then see the signage pointing left for the 0.3 mile descent into Big Spring Brook Brook Hut.
It took me two hours to cover the 10 mile distance, which included stops for photos, and my snack break at Haskell Hut. Guthook skied in earlier, pulling a plastic sled that was loaded with 5 days worth of food and gear. It took him 5 hours. Fat bikes shine under these travel conditions.
Big Spring Brook Brook Hut is appointed with basic pots and pans, and is heated with a wood stove with drying racks above for hanging wet clothing.
Water in drawn from the stream in front, with an outhouse out back. There is a large sleeping loft as well and half dozen wooden sleeping platforms on the first floor. The capacity of his hut is listed as sixteen.
Guthook and I combined forces to come up with a superb one pot supper. I added Mt. Chase Lodge’s bacon and brisket to his tortellini, cheese, and tomato sauce.
This trip was brief but rewarding. I spent one night sharing the Lodge with Guthook, who was bushwhacking round the area on several long day hikes.
The snow was solid enough that you could walk anywhere, and with no leaves on the trees your line of sight is immeasurably better in the winter than in the summer when the green word covers all. It was a most satisfying and unique experience for us to warm ourselves by the glowing embers of the stove as we pondered the vast wilderness surrounding us.
I joked with Guthook that we finally made time to do nothing.
We were the only people spending our time within this 87,000 acre National Monument. God bless America!
And I thank you, Roxanne and Lucas, for allowing me to have this unique place to explore for the rest of my life !
The staff at Mt. Chase Lodge are knowledgeable about current trail conditions and travel within The Monument. They are ready to serve as a launch point for your own adventure. Information and Reservations: (207) 528-2183
Prequel: “Bear and Sparkles say come on up! The fat biking is great :-)”
I missed this sign for the Mt. Chase Lodge when I passed through here a few minutes ago.
I’m headed 14 miles further down a roller coaster of a frost-heaved road to explore the northern end of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument for a couple days. Bear and Sparkles are the trail names for two of my hiker pals.
I walked with both of them for the last cold wet days as the thee of us completed our thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010. The couple are the two full time winter staff at Mt. Chase Lodge. Bear and I are also Maine-based Triple Crown Hikers, who also shared the Appalachian and Continental Divide Trails in 2007 and 2013.
Sparkles is a Registered Maine Guide.
My Honda Element is the only vehicle that is not a 4WD pickup truck in the parking lot outside the tiny convenience store here beside Shin Pond . I plunked down two packs of chemical hand warmers and a bottle of Gatorade on the counter.
“Ya think yer gonna get yer hands frozen, dear?” asked the perky woman behind the counter. She reminded me of my mom, who turns 91 this summer.
“I’m buying these so my hands don’t get cold. Didn’t it drop to zero here last night?” I replied.
Welcome to Shin Pond, a tiny rural settlement in bona fide rural Maine that has registered several of the coldest winter readings on record. Three locals were gathered around a table behind me.
I asked the clerk for directions to the Lodge, when one of the fellows chimed right in, ” Go up across the bridge, head up the hill and take your second right”.
I made it up here after I received a spur of the moment invitation from my hiker pal Guthook to visit him on his own 5 day adventure in the winter Maine woods.
Despite my last minute decision to drive north, I had my reservation completed and parking pass in hand within 30 minutes of logging onto the KWWNM website, and never left the house to do so. The whole exchange was assisted by an actual person, who was e-mailing me back and forth. I made a reservation for Big Spring Brook Hut, which is a recently built log cabin, that is unstaffed and set up with propane fuel for cooking and lights, pots and pans, coffee percolator, water jug, airtight wood stove, and stove wood.
Although the Monument promotes travel only via skis, snowshoes, bicycles, and on foot the major winter trails are groomed at least weekly by snowmobiles.
The cost to enter the Monument and stay in the tent sites, shelters, and huts right now is zero, but that will change after the Monument goes through it’s period of public input as it crafts the rules and procedures that will ensure that this most unique gift is used to it’s potential.
On August 24, 2016, President Obama signed an executive order designating 87,000 acres to the east of Baxter States Park as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The previous day Roxanne Quimby, of Bert’s Bees fame, transferred that land to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Monument came complete with a $20,000,000 cash gift as well as a pledge to raise an additional $20,000,000 in matching public funds. Despite the lingering opposition to the Monument’s very existence, I believe that there is more than enough open space in this vastness of forest to provide for the needs of those of us who seek opportunities to backpack and immerse our spirits in the healing forces of trees and leaves. There are more than three and a half million acres of timber growing in The North Maine Woods. The Monument’s footprint is exactly 0.024% of that vastness. Fact check this yourself by standing on Katahdin’s summit to view a undulating sea of green that stretches out to the horizon along every single one of those 360 degrees of sight line. Haven’t we all just worked this out?
The Monument is staffed by Recreation Managers who work out of Lunksoos Camps, a most historic establishment in it’s own right. When the 12 year old Donn Fendler stumbled out of the Maine wilderness in 1939, he came out on near Lunksoos. His shriveled and pin cushioned body was administered to and the nation’s newspapers and radio stations came to Maine to report the events recalled in Donn’s classic book Lost In The Maine Woods.
Tomorrow I head into the Monument, but tonight I’m staying here at Mt. Chase Lodge, on upper Shin Pond, all by my lonesome. I love looking at the historic photos of the trophy deer and bear that were harvested in this area.
From their brochure:
“Mt Chase Lodge was established in 1960 as a recreational sporting lodge catering to sportsmen, hikers, family vacationers, snowmobilers and other outdoor oriented folks who appreciate the adventure and tranquility of the north Maine woods. Situated on the shore of Upper Shin Pond, in a quiet wooded setting, our comfortable lodge and private cabins offer excellent accommodations. Full bathrooms, automatic heat and electricity, and cooking equipment for those who prefer, are offered year round.”
The Lodge itself rents 8 rooms, and four cabins. My three course dinner was top notch and prepared by Bear himself. Breakfast came with the price of the room, which was a most reasonable $79 plus tax.
I plan to wait a while for it to get warmer before I bicycle into the Monument tomorrow morning. It is supposed to drop to around zero degrees tonight. Time to turn out the light!