I’m Walking down South- NOT on the FLA Trail !

I’m spending  a week in Disney World where I’m sharing a tent site at Fort Wilderness Campground.  I was in shirt sleeves and shorts yesterday and racked up 13 miles of walking on day 1 and 10 more on day 2.  I’m hanging with my best friend, Edward, who lets me stay at his campsite here any time for as long as I want and he won’t take any $$ from me.  Of course, I have have no rental car.

Edward checks out my new tipi

Edward has  been here from November and will stay until early March, as he has done for every single winter for the last 40 years.  When March comes, he’ll head back to his fruit and vegetable farm in Masschusetts  where a 100  hour per week schedule awaits him for the rest of the calendar year.

I ‘m  testing out a brand new tent,  made by SeekOutside. It is 6’10” high and 12′ in diameter, weighing in at 4 and a half pounds.  There’s just a single telescoping carbon fiber pole.  Here is a a picture of the unit from Seek Outside set up with interior heat with a titanium stove and stove pipe, probably somewhere during elk hunting season  in the Rockies.

-Seek Outside 12′ tipi

From the website:  “The Four-Person Tipi is roomy and storm worthy. Extremely lightweight for the square footage, this tipi is a palace for solo use. It is capable of sleeping up to four with minimal gear, but is better suited to the luxurious solo trucker, or for two with late-season or winter gear.   Handmade in Grand Junction,  Colorado,  the tipi features:  Dual zipper doors with storm flaps, Single peak vent, stove jack with rain flap, 6 inch sod skirt with rain flap, ultra robust stake loops, interior hang hoops for tying clothes line for hanging gear, and external guy-out  loops to steepen walls, or pitch the shelter down in tight spots.”

I am awaiting shipment of a custom titanium stove and stove pipe from Don Kivelus, owner of Four Dog Stove out of St. Francis, MN.

I have  been using one of Don’s full size titanium stoves for 15 years of winter camping and it is still like new.  The big stove pairs with with a much larger, custom 9 x 12 foot Egyptian cotton wall tent that stands 7′ high.  It easily houses 4 winter campers and all gear.

This tent is targeted for personal use, and will hold only one more camper and all the accompanying gear in winter.  I plan to experiment with this tipi and stove later this February on a multi day winter camping trip in Acadia National Park. If everything works out,  I should be able to transport the tipi and stove on racks bolted to the rear of my Surly Pugsley fat tire bicycle and embrace winter riding and camping in style.

3/17 trip into Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Stay tuned for the updates on this project.




Book Release Presentation- Backpacking the Continental Divide Trail

via –>> Thomas Jamrog: In the Path of Young Bulls – Blue Hill Public Library

February 1, 2018 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm


Licensed Maine Guide and author Thomas Jamrog will do a presentation and read from his recent book, In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail, at the Blue Hill Public Library on Thursday February 1st at 6:30 PM. The book details how, after thru-hikes on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, he left his rocking chair to hike the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail with a multi-generational team for five months on one of the country’s toughest long-distance treks.

Uncle Tom’s Adventures Looks at 2018

Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures slides into the first week of a frozen, record cold 2018.

Cold at Camp

Within a week of record breaking cold, the thermometer never got above zero for a couple of days.

I am still nursing my right shoulder after a fall I had off my fat tire back in The Bog on Dec. 9. I think I can get back on the saddle in a couple of days, when the winter’s course appears to turn another rough weather corner.  Right now there is a two foot thick snow cover on the open fields .

Heading home, sinking.

It’s been so cold that the snow hasn’t really compressed or refrozen, even on the snowmobile trails that have had a bit of traffic on them. Some winter riders have reported great conditions, but others have floundered a bit in the softer stretches.   That should all change in a couple of days. The forecast is for it to warm up to 50 degrees in two days and the rain from 4 AM on Friday until 4PM on Saturday when the melted mess will freeze solid when temperature tanks again into single numbers. Sheesh!

I just spent my first 2018 night out at camp.

Hobbs Pond camp

The place was a mess and needed tending. Last week I trailered over a used gas cook stove and a couple hundred linear feet of used pressure treated boards that will help upgrade the setting here. I  parked the trailer in front of the camp and left it.   I just managed to beat the latest snowstorm, with my shoveling and hacking a path for Maritime Energy to install the propane tank and gas cook stove. The moving dolly was still inside as the strewn about contents of the tiny kitchen, which had to be moved into the rest of the camp in order to haul the old electric range out and the gas unit in.  So, with Marcia still in Florida basking in the sun of Vero Beach this week, I put the Tempwood stove to use and got the camp up to a comfortable temperature for the night.

Main room w/ Tempwood on right

I must admit that split dry oak chunks seal the heat deal. With such a tiny camp, a couple of hours of attention puts things back into order. It feels good to get away and live lean, even if it is just for part of a day.

This week, I will likely sell out the few copies I have left from the first printing of my new book, “In the Path of Young Bulls”.

Front and center

I am lining up the second printing.  My wife Marcia uncovered several typos in the first press run. I made those minor changes as well as a text alteration to improve the ending. I plan to run a couple of “incentives” to launch sales of the next press run in 2018.

In the meantime, I continue to learn about heart rate variability as a training aid, because rest appears as important as activity in maintaining fitness.

I am also continuing my research into genetic testing and its application to training and fitness. I have just sent off a saliva sample to 23andme.com . I already have received genetic results from FitnessGenes.com and am very interested in seeing similarities and possible difference in those sets of results.

I am checking out info on the micro biome : —>>”No Gut, No Glory: Scientists are calling the human micro-biome the forgotten organ.


And their discoveries about the trillions of bacteria living inside us may revolutionize how we think about diet, performance, and endurance. So in the name of citizen science, we subjected ourselves and seven elite athletes—including skier Cody Townsend—to microbial analysis, with eye-opening results.” —David Ferry, in Outside Magazine January/February 2018

I am also interested in drawing when I am outdoors. I received some sketchbooks, watercolors, and writing tools as Xmas presents.

I plan to head down to Florida in late January to camp out with my friend Edward for a week.

In February, I plan to spend several nights of winter camping at Blackwoods campground  in Acadia, testing out a new tent and custom titanium wood stove to heat it.  I hope I can get some pals to come along.  February will also feature me attending a Kimchi workshop with Hanji Chan and her mother, Sammai Choi, who will walk us through how to make authentic Korean Kimchi, the famous fermented cabbage dish served with all Korean meals.

The first weekend in March is set up for winter camping at Camden Hills State Park. I also plan to return to some winter activities in the Katahdin Woods and waters National Monument in March.  Here’s winter fat biking that happened there last March.

I have signed up for a mushroom identification class at Camden Hills High School with David L. Spahr in May. David is the author of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada: A Photographic Guidebook to Finding and Using Key Species.

I’m not sure what my commercial backpacking schedule will be for the 2018 season. The 2017 schedule was a bust for me. Marcia and I had to cancel our June Denali trip due to illness. I also had to cancel a full 100 Mile Wilderness Trip that was scheduled for early September , due to a sudden decline in the functioning of my 91 year old mother Isabel. She had exhausted the family in caring for her while I was off in Newfoundland on a two week thru hike in late August. No longer able to live in the home where she has spent the past 85 years, I stepped off the plane from Newfoundland in Boston to spend a week with her in her house. I then packed her up and moved her to Maine, but not for long.

Activity goals in 2018:
– via Strava: 1,000 miles on the bike, and another 1,000 miles of hiking.
– To read 35 books in 2018.
– Write outline and draft of new book.
-Post at least 2 blog entries/week in 2018

Let’s get going,  let’s get out there.

I’m “In it for the long haul”

Check out today’s  Sports section of the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Retired psychologist from Midcoast amasses major hiking resume – via Portland Press Herald

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A big thanks to Deirdre Fleming, journalist/reporter, Gregory Rec for his photos, and anyone else who helped me keep walking!

Read on –>> Retired psychologist from Midcoast amasses major hiking resume – Portland Press Herald


Polish Alpinists Attempt First K2 Winter Ascent

From the NYTimes ( 12/27/17) :

Tommy Heinrich, National Geographic Creative

A team of Poland’s most elite climbers just launched an attempt to scale one of the deadliest mountains on Earth—a feat no one has accomplished. The Polish team has been preparing for almost two years, purchasing the best climbing equipment and hiring a supplemental team of weather forecasters, dietitians, sports trainers, and doctors.

They encompass the world’s best climbers and is overseen by renowned Polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki. The 67-year-old made headlines in 1980, when he became the first person to climb Mount Everest in winter. He has led three winter expeditions to different peaks on K2, but never to its tallest point.

read full NYTimes article here:  Climbers Set Off to Be First to Summit World’s Most Notorious Mountain in Winter


Check out the award winning book about Polish climbers specializing in winter Himalayan ascents :  Freedom Climbers by Bernadette McDonald. This book won the following awards:
2012 American Alpine Club Literary Prize (USA)
2011 Munday Award, Banff Mountain Festival (CANADA)
2011 Boardman Tasker Prize, Kendal Mountain Festival (UNITED KINGDOM)

Here are my two previous blog posts ( 2008) about Polish ascents of the winter giants:




Will Record Cold Spell Kill Deer Tics ?


It was -4 at the house at 5am this morning. Walking up the icy, snow crusted driveway to get my morning Bangor Daily News I gazed up at the billions of stars in the black winter sky and gave thanks to the firewood, Bio-bricks, nut coal, and bags of scrap boards from the Maine State Prison’s craft showroom that are stacked in my porch ready to heat our house today.

This unseasonable deep freeze is not totally unwelcome to me. I’ve actually slept out in far colder temps.  I am in the hopes that a week of single to subzero cold, plus the north wind that chills it even further, will kill off ticks.

I remember reading that a period of prolonged subzero temps kills deer tics, the variety that are associated with Lyme disease here in Maine.  Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.

Bangor Daily News reporter Aislin Sarnacki researched this situation back in 2014 in her column entitled : Experts say cold winter likely won’t kill Maine’s ticks.

The takeaway is that subzero cold kills them, but the fact that the ground is now covered by an 12″ thick insulating layer of snow  allows them to borrow deeper into the leaf cover and survive only to be back to plague us again  in 2018.

I’m planning on buying a fresh can of repellent for the New Year.  As a tick repellent, permethrin wins hands down.  That plus more daily checks fills out my New Year’s resolution.  I was diagnosed with Lyme two years ago, and was also the victim of a hidden fat deer tic this past fall that resulted in another round of antibiotics.  We’re not going to win here, folks.  Tics have existed for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth.  We have to work it out with them. 

Best Books – 2017 !

I’m a goal fanatic. One of my 2017 goals was to read more actual books rather than click bait and  fake news.

Goodreads helped me reach my goal of 25 books read in 2017 ( I ended up reading 37) . Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.  Some folks balked when Amazon snapped it up, but I still enjoy using it for cataloguing books that I have read, and books that I plan to read. 

Goodreads is also useful for book promotions by authors, and since my first book came out in October, I have learned  lot about selling and promoting books.

I have a renewed respect for local bookstores.  My Christmas gifts this year were books for family and friends that I purchased at local bookstores. The discounts that authors offer local outlets to present our books are less than the 50% discount we are forced to take at national chains, including the big A.  Please support local bookstores!   

 I am also learning about  the marketing outlets that are available via social media.  For example, I recently had a Goodreads Giveaway where I offered three free copies of my new book, In the Path Of Young Bulls.  The Giveaway ran for a week.  457 Goodreads readers entered the “drawing”, resulting in 457 “Want to Read”  results for me. I gave a way three Christmas presents for people that I hope will offer me reviews, hopefully positive!

Here are the best books that I have read, or even re-read, this calendar year, including a few comments about the books themselves:

I own both editions of this excellent gear guide.  The Second version is the one to get, with additional material.  Between editions, Skurka started up a guiding business. This book reflects the changes in gear recommendations that Skurka offers that were based on not just his own preferences but those of many hundreds of hikers that were on those trips.  I bought a new set of carbon fiber trekking poles based on his tips. The book also contains many useful planning lists. Skurka coined the term ” stupid light”,  which describes the pitfalls of excessively reducing the items in your pack, as well as the durability of those choices.  This is a seasoned backpackers best thoughts about gear.


Snorkel, AKA Liz Thomas, writes with authority here.   She’s a relatively young Triple Crown Award hiker,  writes for Backpacker magazine, and conducts online training for thru-hiker hopefuls. From her excellent blog:  “Former women’s speed record holder for the AT and veteran of twenty long trails, gives you the tools to make this dream a reality. Included is trail-proven advice on selecting gear, stocking resupplies, and planning your budget and schedule, complete with gorgeous photographs of life on the trail. Along the way, enjoy sneak peeks into not only the Triple Crown trails, but also lesser-known long trails throughout North America.  She’s also a graduate of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and is currently Vice President of the American Long Distance Hiking Association West.   The book’s writing is excellent and contains strong photos, and is filled with up to date gear recommendations.  With this book and Skurka’s Gear Guide i hand you can’t go wrong on any post-Holiday sales.


I really enjoy growing  much of my own food as I can here in the shorter season that we have in Maine.  That means Asian greens, onions, cole crops, carrots, and certain pepper varieties.  I’m increasingly interested in fermented preservation of these foods.  This book helped me turn the corner on not only kimchis of various types, but stir fry combos that are quick and tasty.  I absolutely love the comic book format of the book, which makes the cooking even easier when you can see the steps in the process.  Cartooning cookbooks work really well!


Maine’s Bernd Heinrich co-wrote this book.  He’s one of the strongest naturalist beacons in the universe, with a Polish pedigree that includes world records for ultramarathon running. All the illustrations in the book were created by Heinrich.  This is a book you are asked to write in, with 5 full years of blank pages at the end to list daily calendar events of animal, weather, and plant activity that one observes in the natural world .  I have found it  useful it on hikes and bike rides. It has assisted me in seeing more of what is out there.  For example, one of the things that I want to do in the next month is discover a barred owl nest in the woods near my house.  Plus, I have already learned that beech trees favor well-drained southern slops in this area of the country and guess what?  It’s true !

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease is a book that I was exposed to as a Book on Tape, or rather on CDs.  I read it as a book this year, and gleaned much in terms of evolutionary biology.  It’s a gem of a book, and points the way to understanding how our primal tendencies are mismatched to our current modern society.  It also offers suggestions as to how to reconcile the dilemma. Readers of my blog will be pleased to know that brisk walking or 75-90 minutes a day paired with eating from the approach that Robin Ha’s presents in her cartoon cookbook noted above are parts of the solution.


improv wisdom changed my approach to long distance hiking.  I read this book for the third time .  I should commit it to memory.  Long distance hiking is about walking smart, rather than pushing  through pain and misery, although there is going to be plenty of that when you are dealing with the quirks of nature and the human body.


This book led me to explore the science behind  heart rate variability, which has been my daily three minute recording practice for the past three years.  I favor the Sweetbeat App. Heart rate variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats.  Heart Rate Variability is well researched and provides a quick and easy assessment of the Autonomic Nervous System function.It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.   Greater Heart Rate Variability (a higher HRV score) at rest is generally indicative of better health, a younger biological age, and better aerobic fitness. Heart Rate Variability is affected by everything from your mindset, to air quality, to age, food choices and exercise patterns.  I use it to determine how much energy I have available each day to devote to specific workouts, as well as to let me know when I need a rest day.   A strap is placed around the chest that monitors three minutes of heartbeats, measuring the intervals between each heartbeat.


Ms. Proulx authored The Shipping News, one of the best American novels ever about Newfoundland, Canada. In 1993 it won both the Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. National Book Award. It was adapted as a film of the same name, released in 2001.  Her new book is historical fiction about the logging industry, starting off  along the banks of the St. Laurence River in Canada. Barkskins spans the years 1693 to 2013 in Canada, America and New Zealand.  Barkskins opens when two Frenchmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive as indentured servants. The novel traces the lives of these two men and their descendants including the inter-marriages with the local natives.  I would strongly suggest printing out the two family history charts from the book as well as having a map of maritime Canada and New England by your side as you move through the 700 page plus book.  I feel the book was too long. I loved the first half of this book but lost interest as the centuries unfolded and the action moved away from my geographical connection to the story.


I recommend this book.  I still have a earlier popular work on the man- Black Elk Speaks on my bookshelf.  That book was eagerly read by many of us counter-cultural types back in the 1960’s.  It is the bestselling book of all time about an American Indian.  It presented Native American spiritualism as a contrast to modern-day capitalistic excess and the military-industrial complex.   This book is research-based, with some critics reeling with the minutiae of detail contained within .   He participated in a minor role at the Battle of Little Big Horn, was present at the death of his cousin Crazy Horse, and was fully involved in the notorious 1889-1890s events at Wounded Knee.


Wow!  I put off reading this book too long.   The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World contains recent research that I have not seen anywhere, yet.  Wohlleben is a German forester who manages a forest in the Eifel Mountains and has uniquely perceived aspects of his beloved trees, animals and mushrooms that ally with them,  and dangers that threaten their survival. 




Cam Honan’s Winter Hiker Book List

Lord of the Rings made it- yeah!  I’m trying to get out my 10 ten reads for 2017, but I still have a few days left.  In the meantime, this works ! – Uncle Tom 

Books for Hikers and Backpackers (Revised & Updated)

All of the works listed below have a place in my library at home. They represent a mixture of educational and philosophical texts; with a sprinkling of humour, poetry and social commentary thrown into the literary mix. The books are listed in alphabetical order according to the last name of the author:

via—>>>> Books for Hikers and Backpackers (Revised & Updated) | The Hiking Life

Beet Kvass for Holiday Cheer !

It’s time I went back to my Slavik roots (literally) and embraced the positive aftermath of my gardening work this season.  While the ground is now freezing progressively deeper here in Maine,  I’m processing the last of my harvest:  carrots, leeks, and beets.

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photo: holisticsquid.com

Blessed with an overabundance of beets, still viable in a 5 gallon bucket on the porch, I’m excited to make my first batch of kvass, a drink that my grandmother, Philomena, used to make when I was a little boy on the family dairy farm in Somerset, MA.

Here’s a pic of what I accomplished this morning.  The crock will be covered and put beside the wood stove for the next 10 days or so.


From holisticsquid.com:

What is Beet Kvass?

“Beet Kvass is comprised of simple ingredients and is simple to make through the process of wild fermentation.  Here in my kitchen, we call it blood of the earth. Indeed I do taste the earth when I sip this crimson liquid. Beet Kvass is an age-old tonic associated with many health benefits including efficient hydration. Fermented beverages are the original sports drinks. Like other lacto-fermented drinks, kvass is more hydrating than even water. In order to remain hydrated, our bodies require a balance of electrolytes. Cultured beverages like kvass help restore this balance without the sugar and preservatives of modern ‘sport drinks’. Beet Kvass is traditionally heralded as a blood and liver tonic. And indeed this ancestral knowledge is meted out in science. In fact, beets are high in betacyanin which can dramatically increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood.”

Easy ( no cooking) kvass recipe and  info here:

Beet Kvass Myth Busting (& Recipe) – Holistic Squid

When Words Matter- David Hinton INTERVIEW

I just r-read David Hinton’s  January 2015 interview in The Sun magazine.


Stunner.  While the interview itself illuminates the experience of being captured by nature in an active manner, I am more interested in the parallels between society in 301-400 BC and 2017.  I am at the point in my life where I am compelled to detach from stuff and the constant bombardment from just about everybody, including myself.

Please read the introduction/background by Leath Tonino.  I’m interested in responding to  your comments, specifically about where the Chinese white-collar guys went after they did their piece to try and improve society.

The original Sun interview is right here–>> The Egret Lifting From The River – The Sun Magazine

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