Video: My Triple Crown Experience

It’s been over a year since I’ve returned from completing my 2,500 mile thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. In October, I was fortunate enough to focus my experience, step up to the plate, and give the Keynote presentation at the Midwest Winter Camping Symposium.

While attending there, I was interviewed for a series of instructional videos produced by Don Kivelus, of Four Dog Stove.

Here’s the video ( 9 minutes) that was just released yesterday by Four Dog Stove:

Published on Feb 16, 2015
“Triple Crown packpacker Tom Jamrog reveals some realities of long distance hiking with Don Kevilus of Four Dog Stove. Tom talks about overcoming obstacles and surviving winter camping.”

[Disclaimer: Four Dog Stove was Tom Jamrog’s primary sponsor on his Pacific Crest (2010) and Continental Divide (2013) Trail thru-hikes. ]

“Finding Yourself” and Post-Trail Depression ?

Since I was on the Maine Calling Book Club Maine Public Network radio show last week two lingering points have stuck with me.

If you missed the live-call in hour, here’s the link to listen to the 1 hour audio of the show.  We discussed Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  “Wild” is now a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon.

I tried to convey two points on the show:

(1)  The premise of the book may be over-reaching.  On an actual long distance hike where one spends months in the wilderness traversing challenging terrain, in difficult conditions, and often nursing some physical pain, there is often no psychic energy left  for one to process the stress, wounds, and psychic scars that we accumulate before we set foot on that trail.  In the book ,”Wild”,  Strayed devotes just as many pages to relationship/lifestyle issues (mother/daughter, sibling coherence, domestic violence, heroin use,  sexual habits, death) as she does conveying the actual walking.

It’s tough to average out 20 miles a day, week after week, month after month. The experience of moving across America on your own two feet on a National Scenic Trail is often so compelling that we find ourselves in a parallel universe where our old shells are dropped like useless antlers, or dwarfed to the size of a speck, as we allow ourselves to experience  force of  the real Wild world.   Like this-  “Problems?  What problems, I can’t even remember what they were?”

Bill Irwin thru-hiked the AT in 1990, and wrote, “Blind Courage”, one of the best hiking books ever. 9101-gEy5hL  I just started tearing up just looking at the pictures in my signed copy (with Orient’s foot print)  Bill was the first blind person to thru-hike the AT, where he  fell thousands of times, despite the aid of Orient, his seeing-eye companion dog.  If anyone needed it, Bill is the prime candidate to receive a redemption, but he is surprisingly realistic in his post hike appraisals.

From Bill in the Appalachian Trail Reader: “But it is unrealistic to expect the wilderness to resolve a lot of issues for you, issues you’ve never resolved anywhere else. The answer is not on the Trail.  It’s in you.

(2) Post-hike depression is an under-reported issue about long distance hiking.   Irwin was the first writer/hiker I came upon who warned others that it may be dangerous to  thru-hike.  He does not necessarily recommend the practice to others. He writes that, ” I have even heard of people  who have committed suicide because they couldn’t make that return.”

Here’s an an essential post from The New Nomads that details the kind of unexpected troubles that thru-hiking can bring you - ..My Notes on Post Trail Depression.  I might have reblogged this entry back in March, but it deserves another look, especially the Reader Comments section.

So did Wild (the book) ring true to you, the walker in the woods?

1,000 mile Maine challenge completed !

Back in February, Carey Kish laid down a challenge that I decided to embrace- walking 1,000 miles in Maine in a calendar year.

Here’s Carey’s original article about that idea. As Kish notes, ” Consider the enormous health and fitness benefits of such a sustained challenge. Regular hiking and walking are proven to help decrease the risk of all kinds of nasty stuff, like coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon and breast cancers. You’ll lose weight, and reduce stress and anxiety levels. And you might just establish a new exercise pattern for years to come.”

Carey’s right in that you do it mostly by regularly walking a 3-5 mile sessions from your home. In my case, I added close to a hundred miles in Baxter State Park this season. I added another 50 in the Hundred Mile Wilderness, hiking with the Jocomotive and G-Man. Camden Hills State Park got a fair number of sessions.   I thought I was going to add up another 42 miles via the Grafton Loop Trail up off Route 26 above Newry, but that will have to wait until 2015.  I logged a few longer days of hiking with my pal Guthook in Acadia National Park this fall.

I was thrilled to pick up 7 more miles yesterday in Acadia doing the South Ridge Trail to the summit of Cadillac Mountain ( 1,528′).  I had the pure pleasure on cranking out a fast pace with my son Lincoln and his fiancee Stephanie.

That's the Atlantic out there !

That’s the Atlantic out there !

It was one of my best Holiday presents.

Did you know that Cadillac is the highest mountain on the Atlantic Coast north of Brazil (another cool fact from Carey Kish’s Maine Mountain Guide) ?

51qiqtVf0iL._AA160_

The 2014 numbers primarily came from data that I was tracking via the Strava app.  I have hit 1,094 miles to date. Strava only aggregates miles for runs, bike rides, and swims. You have to enter backpacking and walking mileages as runs.  I usually gather my data from my iPhone 5S, but sometimes log exercise using my Garmin eTex 30 GPS to gather .gpx tracks that I then download into my Macbook air and upload to Strava.

My iPhone 5s also allows me to run the free Fitbit app, without requiring the $99 wrist band.  With the launch of the M7 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 5s, Fitbit has decided to offer “basic” tracking from the phone itself.  Fitbit is fun to use, automatically counts daily steps, and also allows me to enter my daily food intake, and log body weight.

Goals are a big part of what keeps me going.  I plan trips this way- think of things I want to do and then jot them down on the calendar and they take place, as the time nears.  I tell others , and goals take firmer form- finally as actions.  Carey’s 1,000 mile goal is a welcome addition to my life.

This is also the first winter that I have dropped under 200 pounds at this time of year. I think that hiking more miles has made the difference- that and cutting out french fries.    Normally, I’ve run about 212-215 at the end of December.  This is good!

I plan to take on the 1,000 mile walking-in-Maine challenge again for 2015.

Who’s in with me for the ride, err…. the walks?

 

Maine’s Past Is It’s Presence

photo

I’m waiting this morning for the start of the next winter Nor’easter snowstorm by reading this stained old library book that was published in 1942. Just about every page is dog-eared, and most of them stained with coffee, grease, and several worse-looking colors.  It’s We Took To The Woods, and is the suggested background reading for the winter outdoor skills course I’m taking from Mahoosuck Guide Service in three weeks that will be taking place somewhere out in the bush on Map 18 of Delorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer.

Map 18 is one of the fringe maps in the Gazetteer.  It’s on the border of Maine and New Hampshire, and only 1 map down from Quebec.  Andover is the town with the largest and boldest print on map 18, however it boasts around 800 residents. The last time I was up there was a couple of years ago when I helped out my hiking pal Old Buzzard, who maintains the very remote and steep stretch of Appalachian Trail from the South Arm Road to the top of Old Blue Mountain.  Andover center is a tiny place, and home to The Cabin, a renown AT hostel where I plan to stay this coming hiking season.

Last month, I passed the requirements that let me wear this patch on my plaid wool coat.  IMG_3718 2 The course I’ll be taking in December is designed to cover the skills needed to safely guide others in the winter.  Some of the topics that will be covered are hypothermia, reading winter ice, preventing and treating frostbite, and navigation techniques in white-out conditions.  I suspect we’ll each spend a winter bivouac with just the clothes on our backs- possibly in a snow & bough shelter. I’m excited about picking up some skills on fire building without matches, and learning the basics of dog team use.  We’ll get some time on a snowmobile as well.
Back to the book.  We Took to the Woods was initially published in 1942, and is about a young couple from away who move to one of the most remote spots on the far edge of Map 18, overlooking the Rattle River somewhere between Pond in the River and the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge.  Life in the 1930’s in backwoods Maine was tough back then, and is tough even now.  Louise Dickinson Rich and her husband had to cut, split, and haul 10 cords of wood to heat their living space each winter.
A couple of weeks ago, I joined a dozen other neighborhood men as we sawed, split, hauled and stacked 10 cords of firewood for our neighbor Andy, who was down and out with a back problem that will put his wood hauling off the to-do list for a few months anyways.
I’m so worked up right now about living and working in Maine.  The same basic survival skills that I am reading about in this gem of an old book is going to be be my curriculum for four days in  a couple of weeks.  If we are confident in foundation skills that are necessary to be comfortable and safe living outdoors, it doesn’t matter if it is 1934 or 2014.  Freezing cold,  fire building, moisture management, and staying warm with less can not only save a life, but assist us in making that vital connection with our ancestral past.  It’s somehow all in side us, but has to be rekindled, like a skillful application of a tiny flame.

 

Missed Part 1 ? Check out my Triple Crown of Hiking TV interview

Somewhere in Southern California

Somewhere in Southern California

WCSH’s  Maine-based TV news magazine “207” interviewed me at my kitchen table two weeks ago.

If you were not able to watch the broadcast last night, the link to Part 1 of the interview is now up on WCSH’s web site.  <<-

The second half of the interview is Tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7 PM.  Catch it at 7:00 p.m. on channels 6 in Portland and  2 in Bangor.

I’m talking adventure, about walking for months on end at a time, and what’s next after being awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking.

My interview will also be posted in the 207 section of www.WCSH6.com, where it will remain online for approximately 6 months.

I’d like to thank all the hundreds of hikers, neighbors, family members, and even those complete strangers who assisted me during my year and a half of backpacking.

Tom Jamrog on Channel 2 and 6 tonight at 7 PM

Uncle Tom on the Long Falls Dam Road in Maine

Uncle Tom on the Long Falls Dam Road in Maine

Rob Caldwell’s Maine-based TV news magazine “207” (named after Maine’s one and only area code) interviewed me at my kitchen table two weeks ago. Rob’s program will feature a conversation we had about adventures, walking for months on end at a time, and being awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking.

The interview is airing tonight: November 24 —part 1. Part 2 airs on Tuesday. Catch it at 7:00 p.m. on channel 6 in Portland and channel 2 in Bangor. It will also be posted in the 207 section of www.WCSH6.com, where it will remain online for approximately 6 months.

Rob told me to, “Tell everyone you’ve ever met. We want even people on hiking trails who are fifty miles away from the nearest TV to watch.”  I’m trying!

Uncle Tom on Channels 2 and 6 Monday and Tues. nights

IMG_1668

UT atop Katahdin, Sept. 2014 – photo by Ryan Linn (AKA Guthook)

Rob Caldwell’s Maine-based TV news magazine “207” (named after Maine’s one and only area code) interviewed me at my kitchen table two weeks ago. Rob’s program will feature a conversation we had about adventures, walking for months on end at a time, and being awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking.

The interview will air in two parts : November 24 & 25th—part 1 on Monday, part 2 on Tuesday. Catch it at 7:00 p.m. on channel 6 in Portland and channel 2 in Bangor. It will also be posted in the 207 section of www.WCSH6.com .

Rob told me to, “Tell everyone you’ve ever met. We want even people on hiking trails who are fifty miles away from the nearest TV to watch.”