Canoeing & Wilderness Symposium on Northern Travels & Perspectives

I’ve wrapped up my speaking engagement at the 35th annual Canoeing & Wilderness Symposium on Northern Travels & Northern Perspectives here in Toronto this weekend.

My presentation was entitled 9,000 Miles of Attitude: Aging and Endurance.

Last summer I worked for approximately 100 hours initially drafting my upcoming book about the topic.

This was definitely the largest audience I’ve spoken to; however, I was barely anxious. I’m crediting my friend Dave Kirkham for his coaching tips. Dave suggested that I record my spoken script and review it-for both content and quality of the spoken word. It made all the difference. I was limited to just 30 minutes and had to make the most of it. I tend to pack far too much info into my PowerPoints and this time pruning was the way to go.

If I had any regrets on the set up of the symposium, I would have preferred that questions and answer sessions be incorporated into the schedule, even if fewer individuals presented. Just to be fair, I made an offer to the audience at the conclusion of my talk. Since we still had a couple of breaks before the conclusion of the event, I invited any interested participants to connect with me during the breaks to extend individual conversations, and well as to sign copies of my first book, “In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail,” which just had its third print run.

It worked! I really enjoyed the feedback from audience members and was honestly surprised at which of my talking points resonated with the participants.

I’m a huge fan of exploring the wonders of Canada, particularly Prince Edward Island, Labrador, Newfoundland, and the displaced native communities that are impacted by the James Bay hydro projects in Quebec, and now Labrador. I have ridden my motorcycles though all of the Canadian provinces, except Nunavut.
I’ve appreciated the friendships I’ve made with numerous Canadians, and pleased to have met a number of the authors and expedition leaders that presented at this event. It is a very reasonable symposium to attend in terms of price and I encourage all of my American adventure pals to consider heading up to Toronto next February to experience a fun time learning about the amazing adventures that can be experienced when we say, “Yes” to opportunities that come our way.

Here’s a PDF of the full speaker schedule with biographies.  Do check it out!

Most exciting was “A New Home for the Canadian Canoe Museum and the George Luste Memorial” presented by Jeremy Ward and Carolyn Hyslop. The Canadian Canoe Museum is now well underway with preparation for a new world-class facility located in Peterborough along the Trent-Severn Waterway. The speakers offered a peek into plans for a brand-new $60,000,000 home for this Canadian treasure. It was a mind-blowing virtual tour and when the museum is completed few years from now, I’ll heading up to experience it.

I thank all of the volunteers and staff that made this event possible, especially Aleks Gusev for inviting me to Canada!


Patagonia To The Rescue

Since LLBean tightened up their warranty policy a couple of years ago I’m leaning toward Patagonia. Both stores are now exactly across the street from each other on Maine Street in Freeport, Maine. I do appreciate LLBean’s support for Maine Guides through their discount purchase program but their warranty change has dinged my relationship with LLBean.
Here’s the present LLBean Warranty
“We stand behind all our products and are confident that they will perform as designed. If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”

Here’s Patagonia’s:
“We guarantee everything we make. If you are not satisfied with one of our products at the time you receive it, or if one of our products does not perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store you bought it from or to Patagonia for a repair, replacement or refund.”

In Aril of 2018, Patagonia went a little further:
“If your item needs a more serious fix, our store is able to facilitate the repair process by sending your gear to Patagonia’s repair center in Reno, Nevada.”

In practice, LLBean has also become more hard-ass.

I used to buy everything outdoors-related from LLBean. I make it a practice to keep my packaging material as well as my receipts. I made my most recent trip to the LLBean Customer service desk when my bicycle floor pump failed. The pump was three years old. The customer service representative initially declined to replace the Blackburn pump ( which has their own original lifetime warranty on the packaging material) , and when I protested that I  bought the pump under the previous longstanding warrantee policy, she called a supervisor over.

The supervisor also declined to replace the bike pump, telling me that  bike floor pumps don’t last thee years. I told him that can’t be true, since I still have a hand pump in my garage that my father bought and heavily used for our farm implement tires for decades. It still works.  Then the supervisor started working the computer by reviewing my previous LLBean purchase history.

I’ve spent a small fortune on LLBean in the past fifty years, so I got a deal. He allowed for a replacement pump as a one time only concession to my good faith in past purchases, but made it clear that I’d get no more “breaks” in the future.

Enter Patagonia’s over-the-top repair policy:
“At Patagonia, we work hard to make high–quality, responsibly sourced clothing that lasts for years and can be repaired—and we guarantee it for life. We operate the largest garment repair facility in North America (we’ll do more than 40,000 individual repairs this year) and we’ve trained our retail staff to handle the simple repair jobs (which total thousands more).”

To review Patagonia’s reasons for this position go here .

I’ve been pleased with the last three Patagonia repairs on two of my jackets and one pair of wind tights.

Today I had little hope for a repair on my original Patagonia fleece pullover. It has four snaps on the neck closure rather than a zipper. The plastic snaps were so badly worn they no longer held. When I showed the jacket to the salesperson, he said that it could definitely be fixed, and that there was a strong chance that it could be done in-store, while I waited.

It got even better when I was asked what color snaps I’d like on my pullover. I picked orange!

Thanks, again, Patagonia !


What’s Up for 2020, Uncle Tom?

I’m all over it with presentations in the next four months:

Presentation title :9,000 Miles of Attitude: Aging and Endurance

From the ages of 57-63 Tom thru-hiked the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails. He is a Maine Guide and is currently writing a new book about mental and physical conditioning and extending one’s ability to fully engage in outdoor recreation activities. For the past 25 years, Tom has been singing and playing accordion in King Pirogi, a four piece polka band. He plans to hike and bike exactly 2,020 miles in the coming calendar year. Tom grew up on a dairy farm. In 2014 Tom was the 230th recipient to be awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association after thru-hiking of three of the USA’s longest National Scenic Trails. His first book, “In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail” was published in 2017. After retiring as a psychologist and mental health counselor in 2002 Tom has been guiding individuals and groups on four season adventures in the Northeastern US. His current interest is inspiring others to engage in wilderness adventures at any age.


March 21 Maine Sport Outfitters : Rockport, Maine
Backpacking & Hiking Symposium 10-4      details will be posted when available


March 27 L.L. Bean,  Freeport, ME 7-9 PM
Book Talk “In the Path Of  Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail”

Tom Jamrog, Maine Guide and Past President of the Maine Association of School Psychology, has over a half-century of experience exploring the outdoors.  In 2014 Tom was awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association for his thru-hikes of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails.
At the age of 63, Tom rose up out of retirement to assemble a team of 4 proven long distance backpackers who took on the daily  challenge of walking over 2,500 miles over a  5 month span on the Continental Divide Trail.  The book details the daily ups and down of life on the trail and also serves as a resource for section and long-distance hikers in planning their long distance adventures.



Trail Days: Damascus , VA Friday May 15- Sunday May 17

Attitudes, Actions and Apps: Lessons Learned from 9,000+ Backpacking Miles
Uncle Tom ( AT GA>ME, 2007) was awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking award in 2014. He published his first book “In the Path Of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail” in 2017. Tom will discuss his experiences and research from his upcoming book on endurance and essential training ( physical and mental) for long distance backpacking success. Topics will include gait analysis, pain management, recovery myths and facts, over- and under-hydration, and meditation.

Old Mill Conference Room, 215 Imboden St.
on Friday May 15 from 12:45-2:15 pm

You can also stop and chat with Tom at the Atlas (Guthook) Guides vendor booth, where he’s working for the weekend.

My book review of Divided

Divided: A Walk on the Continental Divide TrailDivided: A Walk on the Continental Divide Trail by Brian Cornell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book up because I thru hiked the Continental Divide Trail and also wrote ( “In the Path of Young Bulls”) about my own experiences on the mind blowing adventure.
I could not put Brian’s story down and read it in one day. Brian Cornell authored a well written account of his 2018 thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. He’s divided the book into five major sections reflecting each the Rocky Mountain States, with each of state night lighting five 24-to-48 hour periods with their own subheadings that reflecting topics that interest the hiker. Brian’s ability to sincerely reflect on his experiences adds further insight into what one wears, thinks about, and eats as the 20 mile and plus days add up in his northbound five month long adventure.
While I gave the book five stars some of his information is not entirely accurate. For example, when he finds himself caught in a thunderstorm on an open field Brian erroneously take cover in a grove of trees, unaware that standing near a tall tree puts one at risk to be struck by lightning passing from a tall tree into the ground one where one stands. His practice of daily ibuprofen washed down with bleach purified water isn’t something I’d do.
But the practices that Brian shares with the prospective hiker more than out weigh the few times he makes questionable actions, and aren’t mistakes the open door to adopting new more positive habits ? Brian’s choices become strong links in the chain of positive habits that he incorporates into his evolving responses to the unique challenges that he faced as he struggled to eventually successfully complete his amazing hike.

View all my reviews