Death on the CDT

screenshot.pngvia–>>> Snowbound | Outside Online

Outside Online posted this excellent report, which includes three short Youtube videos taken shortly before the hiker, Stephen Olshansky, perished in 2015 at the end of his southbound thru- hike attempt  in the Southern San Juans in New Mexico.  “Otter” was an experienced long-distance hiker who died on the trail  waiting rescue, despite having adequate food, and using a heated tent.   I can relate to the dangers of that section of the CDT.  In 2013, I was forced to bail out on the “official” CDT and take alternate forest roads in the San Juans in early June due to weather and excessive snow depths.

Otter’s death was similar in one aspect of the death of a hiker named Geraldine Largay, AKA  Inchworm, who died on the Appalachian Trail in the summer of  2013, 26 days after she set up camp.  Both hikers died less than 8 miles away from a highway,  both patiently awaiting rescues that never came.  Both hikers were without their own personal locator beacons.

For more stories of backpackers and day hikers who have fallen into the abyss where they experience multiple unfortunate mistakes in the wrong places and at the wrong times check out these two excellent books: Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire Paperback by Nicholas Howe  and  Desperate Steps: Life, Death, and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast, by Peter Kick.

Since Largay’s death, I’ve been using a satellite based communication device, and  subscribe to the $12 a month charge.

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Garmin InReach Explorer+

It allows me to text messages via sattelite, so now the numerous areas I explore without cell coverage are not a problem.  I’ve started packing  it in my day pack.  Who knows what might happen out there, where age is not our friend ?

As  famous teacher once advised me, “Avert the suffering before it comes” .

Please considering commenting if yu do take the time to read and view the Outside Online material.

Donnell Pond, reserved and picturesque

Check out this excellent report from Josh Christie;  Worth the Trip: Donnell Pond, reserved and picturesque – Portland Press Herald

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Donnell Pond photo from bluewatersgreenforests.wordpress.com

I’ll be pulling my blue cedar/canvas canoe out of storage for a couple nights’ camping next weekend to exploring at one of Maine’s Public Reserved Lands.  There are a few hikes here, covered adequately in Carey Kish’s  AMC’s Best Day Hikes along the Maine Coast: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails From the Maine Beaches to Downeast.

I have not canoed for two years, with my last effort in Baxter State Park.   My friend Ivan and I canoed directly north, straight across Katahdin Lake to reach the Twin Ponds Trail.

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Heading out cross Katahdin Lake (2016 photo)

My right shoulder is worn out, even after two surgeries, with an overdue shoulder replacement somewhere on the horizon.  However, it’s been good lately, possibly the result of bi-weekly physical therapy sessions for the past several months.  I decided to take a chance, altering our padding itinerary with backup hikes around Donnell Pond in lieu of a 15 mile paddle exploring the perimeter of the Pond. 

I really enjoy canoeing in the fall, where you can take plenty of gear and food.  Most of the time I am content with my 15 pound of base weight in my backpack. I may take my new Seekoutside tipi on this trip, and maybe even a camp chair to lounge around in.

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February 2018- Blackwoods CG, Acadia NP

Fort Rucker retiree completes Appalachian Trail hike | Enterprise Ledger | dothaneagle.com

016BD7D2-AC64-485B-8D29-98CC0FB4407C.jpegFort Rucker retiree completes Appalachian Trail hike | Enterprise Ledger | dothaneagle.com
— Read on www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/fort-rucker-retiree-completes-appalachian-trail-hike/article_46596ad6-9cd4-11e8-8c6f-03561364d72e.amp.html

Well worth a read. I agree that thinking about the Trail doesn’t go away after you are finished hiking.

Great Adventurers – a Reading List via Alastair Humphreys

via Great Adventurers – a Reading List – Alastair Humphreys

I’m on a roll with outdoor reading this summer.  Since January I have been reading at least an hour a day.  I’ve racked up 33 books so far.  Here’s my updated 2018 list:  Goodreads Challenge .

Today I’m posting a different sort of reading list, with a decidedly British emphasis, brought to us by one of my favorite authors, Alistair Humphreys, author of a unique book called Microadventures. 

There’s adventure reading gold to be mined here for sure, so consider Aistair’s list.  There isn’t much time left for summer reading, although winter is coming!

Several of these titles are at my local library, and I plan to pick up this one today:

screenshot 27.pngAre there any really good outdoor adventure books that you can recommend as well?

When Walking Speed Matters

On 07/11/2018 I blogged:  I’m tired of Taking Crap from People for Walking Fast.   Myt post concluded that,  “In the end, it is important to recognize the value of walking at any intensity and pace, but if you are able and willing to pick up the pace, even for short bursts of faster walking or hill work, it will result in increased bang for the walking buck.”

Here are two more recent references related to why you might consider increasing your walking speed:

The first was from the (July 25, 2018) NY Times:

Exercise Makes the Aging Heart More Youthful

This particular health article notes specific benefits to the left ventricle and  coronary arteries found in Master’s athletes and individuals who have been regular and frequent exercisers for decades.

“For lifelong heart health, start exercising early in life and keep exercising often. But even if you have neglected to exercise and are now middle-aged, it is not too late.”

Similar benefits were replicated in a two year study that arrears to be solidly supported. Randomized groups were subjected to varying levels of frequency and intensity of exercise. They found that a sedentary group showed the usual effects of time, with heart muscles, particularly their left ventricles or chambers, shrunken and less powerful than in younger people.  The same changes were evident in casual exercisers. However, men and women who had exercised at least four times a week for years, or in those who were masters’ athletes had left ventricles that looked and functioned much like those of people decades younger.

I just finished reading Daniel G. Amen’s ” Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember what matters Most

Amen is a bestselling neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and founder of the Amen Clinics.  He’s particularly interested in preserving and even increasing blood flow, which turns out to be advantageous for folks experiencing memory decline as well as  for individuals who re concerned about aging and fitness.

“The faster we walk as we age, the longer we live and the sharper we think.  An 80 year old person who walks 1 mile per hour has only a 10% chance of living until 90. But if that same 80 year old moves faster, say at 3.5 miles an hour, her or she has an 84% chance of reaching 90. (1)   As walking speed goes down, so do executive function and decision-making skills. If you haven’t walked at a faster pace for a long time, start slowly and work your way up safely.”

  1. Stephanie Studenski et al, “Gait Speed and Survival in Older Adults”, ” Journal of the American Medical Association 305, no.1, (Jan. 2011): 50-58

It should be noted that Amen’s  exercise recommendations for increasing blood flow include burst training ( intervals) , strength training, coordination activities, and mindful exercise.

 

 

Backpacking the Fundy Footpath, Day 5 of 5

Start: Seely Beach campsite
End: Fundy Trail Interpretive center
Mileage:  6.7 miles         Elevation gain :1,279ft

Today’s map:

Elevation profile:We were up by 6 am, when we packed up all of our gear, which was heavy to carry. The campsite here was well protected but rather close and dank this sodden morning.  I had a brief midnight battle with a racoon who was pushing his nose into my tent’s screening.  I won.  Next time I will be more careful about eating in my tent.  There are excellent bear lockers at each of the official FF tent sites that are apparently there for a reason.

Seely Beach campsite

We had a noon deadline to meet our shuttle ride back to the Fundy National Park.  Although this section was reported to be the easiest of the Footpath, there was still a path relentless ups and downs,  although of a much more moderate nature.

Luckily it was low tide when we set off at 7 am, so we were able to walk on big rocks above the back flow of tidal water into the Bay.

Seely Beach, looking west

Here’s a feature of this section:  a formation known as the Dragon’s Tooth.  Too bad it also had one of those garish promotional signs right close to the rock itself.  I decided to keep this photo real.  The thick moss and lichen cover here by the shore is soothing to experience just by itself.

Funy Footpath meets the Dragon’s Tooth

The closer we got to the Western end of the Fundy Footpath the worse the footing became.

Rotten and missing foot bridges

That surprised me.  In my experience, the mile or so of trail that leads for trail parking lots is often the best kept aspect of a longer trail, as that seems to be about the extent of most people’s comfort with leaving their safe shell of a vehicle and entering the wild stuff.  Not here.  It was very apparent that the focus of the work down on this part of the Footpath is going into the development of an access road that will parallel the shoreline and lean toward the Fundy National Park, a mere 30 miles of line of sight up the coast.

We had a difficult time rediscovering the Trail when it passed through the new Long Beach parking lot, visitor’s center, picnic tables and privys.  Everything was locked up and the lot was vacant even though it was 9:00 in the morning.  Eventually we had to push through some very thick brush to return the last section of trail.  The intersection here might be more clearly marked and the access opened up a bit.  It would probably be easier to pass through here if one were heading east on the FF.

Eventually we reached the long suspension foot bridge that leads to the main parking lot and the Visitor’s Center, which unfortunately sold no maps for me to purchase and enjoy viewing at home.

Footbridge over Big Salmon River

Apparently the maps are out of stock everywhere and are awaiting a fresh print run.

In summary, this is a grueling hike, given the heat of the summer, the humidity, our tow days of rain, and depending on which valleys you include,  at least a dozen times when you go down and up or up and then down as much as 750 feet in elevation above sea level.

A search of the Internet in preparation for hiking the the Fundy Footpath suggests that having the Fundy Footpath-Hiker’s Guide Book is essential for hiking the 30+mile trail.

Out of Print ( as of 8/6/18)

The problem is that the book is sold out and out of stock at visitor’s centers on either end of the path as well as at the office of Red Rock Adventure, the guiding service that best  serve the FF hiker.   If you have unlimited time,  and the ability to carry as much as 5 day’s worth of food (ten extra pounds in my estimate), then take it as it comes, but a four night experience I advise taking along tide charts of the region, or you may find your self crossing Goose Creek at the 2 AM low tide, like I did on my 2008 thu-hike of this highly interesting hike.

 

 

 

 

Backpacking the Fundy Footpath, Day 4 of 5

Start: Little Salmon River campsite
End: Seely Beach campsite
Mileage:  7.0 mi

Today’s map:

Hiking direction = from earplug right to left

Mark Shaw, AKA Bad Influence,  posted this 2 minute drone footage that takes off from  Goose Creek and then continues along the coast. Mark is a professional sound engineer who also owns and operates Trail Head Shuttle, a Vermont AT and Long Trail hiker shuttle service, and now is available for commercial drone work in real estate, 3-D mapping, via  Skyview VT.   It’s very informative about the breadth of some of these tidal crossings.

Goose River/Low Tide Bay of Fundy

Mark and I joked about forgetting how challenging  this trail really is, especially given the fact that we hiked it 10 years go.  While he swears this is the last time on the FF for us, I started thinking how we might streamline a future walk along the coast, via engaging the drone to view any possible passage along the cliffed shoreline during low tides.   Mark successfully put the drone up to get us out of a huge marsh that confounded us on the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland last summer.  It’s like having s SUPER tall guide who can really view an obscure trail.

Another tool that worked well for me was my Delorme InReach Explorer+.

Satellite GPS unit

The unit is able to serve as an emergency locator and communication device.  I entered in a few pre-set messages, essentially confirming that I was OK.  I sent evening messages to both my wife and the shuttle operator with a map pinpointing the location of our campsites, along with GPS coordinates.  I have added the unit to my day hikes. When I find myself injured and need of assistance, I should be able to get help.  I believe it is an essential part of my kit, particularly when I am guiding clients in the wilderness.  There was very spotty cell service available on this hike.  I pay $12 a month for the service, which can be turned off for any months where travel might not occur.

It rained yesterday and rained today as well.  With the very high humidity the first two days, we were forced with the very unwelcome situation of donning cold wet socks, footwear, and clothing each morning.  I’m in the habit of leaving any spare clothes home these days, in an effort to reduce my pack weight.  I do carry a dry set of sleep wear  on all my hikes, that allows me to be very comfortable when it’s time to sleep.

One tip that I  can offer the wet hiker is to put on a wind shirt or light synthetic jacket over your wet shirt when you reach camp.  If you are fortunate enough to have found clothing that is truly breathable, your body heat dries out the wet clothing in an hour or two.  I have had great success with Patagonia’s Houdini windshirt and their 10 oz.  Nano-Air Light Hoody.  The Hoody was developed to pass copious amounts to perspiration while at the same time providing adequate insulation for winter use.  I have been amazed at the width of the range of temperatures that I wear the Hoody, from winter biking in freezing conditions to summer evenings.  I like the blaze orange version for visibility.

If your clothing is not totally sopping wet, it can also be dried by wringing it out and putting in on top of your sleeping pad and under your sleeping bag where your body heat drys it out overnight.