First Impressions: Tarptent Double Rainbow ( DR) Lithium

-from Tarptent website

I’ve been a fan of the DR since 2007 when I purchased it to complete my northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail that year.   My first DR was different than this version and was replaced for free a short time after purchase by Tarptent after the company substituted velcro closures with zippers, and improved the single strut situation over the top of the tent, so this is a review of my third Double Rainbow !

I switched to the DR in 2007 when I reached Harpers’ Ferry, VA . I’ve got bad shoulders, after bilateral surgeries. In addition, my right shoulder has been recommended for complete replacement after I was given 3-5 years of expected service way back in 2007. Yes, I’ve been putting it off. I was experiencing considerable pain in that right shoulder in 2007 when I slept on the ground, so began hiking the AT in a Clark’s Jungle Hammock. I had no pain while sleeping, but became increasingly dissatisfied with life in the hammock. If I wasn’t an author, it might not have mattered. The problem became the sense of cramped confinement I experienced lying back in the hammock and typing out my daily Trailjournal entries. That plus periods of confinement on bad weather days where I was stuck in the hammock.

I successfully completed the AT in the DR, and then used it for shorter backpacking trips from 2007 through 2010. The tent was solid to the point where I was able to complete my 2010 Pacific Crest Trail in that same DR, which was deposited in the first trash can that I found in Canada.

What I liked about the DR was the floor space. I’m 6’2”. The original fit two 20” wide mats side by side with ample room to sit up. The space was then luxurious for the two-pound 8-ounce weight. The double entry doors with vestibules were appreciated on my thru-hike when the main zipper eventually failed on one of the doors. I taped and pinned that one closed and used the other door instead.
In freestanding mode employing two trekking poles, the DR also adapted well to the wooden tent platforms in increasing use here in the northeastern US. I remember snagging a terrific tent site on a shallow ledge that resisted the use of tent pegs.

In 2010 my wife bought me a brand new Tarptent for my birthday This time it was the smaller single-person Moment model, using just one center pole, and only two stakes. It worked fine for my whole Continental Divide Trail thru-hike in 2013, and went on thru-hikes of the Vermont’s Long Trail, Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail, and New Brunswick’s Fundy Footpath. When I last used my Moment a month ago while bike camping in Vermont I tore again a previously repaired area. It became apparent that I would not be sending back the Moment for any more repairs. Another one bites the dust !

I lost my job as a school psychologist on March 19 this year due to Covid-19 and am not going back, due to my wife’s medical condition, the nature of my job, and our ages.  Auntie Mame and I continue to quarantine since then. While we’ve been through so much these past 48 years of marriage, being at home together so much gets stressful. Earlier this August was constantly grumbling about the heat and humidity, so Mame suggested that I spend some money for a new tent and take four days to go backpacking.

I bought a new tent!  I planned to buy another Double Rainbow but there is now a brand new lighter, stronger, bigger, and improved version- The Double Rainbow Lithium.

From the Tarptent website: “New for 2020, the patented Double Rainbow Li is our lightest arch pole supported shelter. Made with Dyneema®, this tent is ideal for users who want floor space to fit two long, wide pads. Dual side entry with dual vestibules, free-standing capable with trekking poles, and hybrid double-wall with optional liner, the Double Rainbow Li gives you the freedom and security you want for a wide range of conditions”.

The DR Li is shipped-seam taped, with reflective Spectra cord guylines,  improved venting, and moisture management features. The DR Lithium website includes a long 23-minute Backpacking Light video review that convinced me to shell out the extra cash and purchase what is likely to be the last backpacking tent I’ll ever need, although if I ever wear it out on other 2,000+ mile thru hikes, that might change. Setup time is 2 minutes. At $649 is this model twice as good as the original DR?

I love doing business with Tarptent. When I called to discuss I wasn’t that surprised when the owner, designer, and original sticher Henry Shires answered the phone and even remembered me from previous contacts. I also met him at a backpacking festival out West in 2010.  We chatted and he added that this tent is manufactured in China in a factory that is specifically designed for cutting and assembling ultralight backpacking tents. Henry explained that as a prior Tarptent consumer, the workmanship of this Lithium model will be immediately noticeable. Prior to the decision to go to off-shore assembly, all Tartptents were made in the US. Increasing difficulty at finding experienced sewists in the US contributed to this decision. My tent arrived two days later with free shipping, just in time to test it out on a multi-night section hike of the Appalachian Trail here in Maine.

The tent impresses right away. Packed size is 18×4×5 in. and weight at 1.75 pounds. Even the stuff sack is Dyneema, waterproof racing sailcloth, trademarked as “the world’s strongest fiber”.

What was it like on the trail?   Excellent!

Since I had spent hundreds of nights in previous DRs, I was able to set up in under five minutes.  Other reviewers on the Tarptent website have written about setup being trickier that the company video leads you to believe, but my results came out tight as a drum. The wider width allows for two 25-inch wide pads to go side by side with a few inches extra to spare. It’s a palace in there for me and all my gear. The only reason I’d ever need the vestibules while solo would be for wet gear and stinky shoe placement. The little ridgepole that was integrated into the previous DR is now separate from the tent itself and is reported to allow for increased performance in windier conditions. I can’t comment on how the tent did in the wind as both nights use of this tent were in heavily forested, protected sites, one right beside a stream.
Normally, camping beside water results in increased condensation inside the tent, and I was pleased when the interior walls were practically dry when I woke up. I’d highly recommend watching the 23-minute Backpacking Light Review on the Tarptent Website to help understand why this tent’s design assists with condensation management.

I’m super pleased after my first multi-night experience in the tent. A longer use review will follow as I’m currently planning a bike-packing trip through the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, hopefully before the snows hit.

NOTE: The tent is out of stock already !

Day 3 of 3: AT Section Hike, Caratunk >>> Monson

I was out of my tent before my two neighbors were up. After years of waking up early on the trail, I can pack up, eat breakfast, and be walking in a half hour. There are 8 or 9 miles to go.  I was confident that I’d reach Shaw’s Hostel and my car by noon.

Unfortunately, the heat and humidity were still with me, so it became another shirtless hiking day. In addition, a pesky cloud of gnats became my companion for much the morning, irritating me by dive-bombing my eyeballs.  Gnats thrive in humidity and are drawn to the exhalations of carbon dioxide and the moisture of our eyes. While they don’t bite, gnats are persistent and when they stick around I  flag them away with my multi-purpose bandanna.

Wildlife encroaches the Trail, even in the brief time that AT trail maintenance has been suspended since Covid-19 showed up.  The first evidence for it was at the ford of the West Branch of the Piscataquis River, normally knee-high or lower at this time of year.  I was surprised and awed by the huge beaver dam that was built by the animal engineers at exactly the AT crossing point.

Beaver dam

Just before I started to go across, Birdie, one of the hikers that I met last night at the campsite, caught up with me. He had little knowledge of the beaver world and had no idea that this huge u-shaped dam had been made by beavers. I referred him to the most excellent book “Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter”, which details the American and natural history of this most unique and intelligent animal. The dam appears to have been but this season, as it contained freshly harvested sticks all the way up to the top of the dam. Birdie and I walked across in our hiking shoes, which stayed dry.

I hiked and chatted with Birdie as we made our way toward Horseshoe Canyon. Eventually, he turned on the gas and left me in the dust.

A hort time later I encountered Birdie again when he ran back to tell me that he had just seen a mink climb a tree. I headed up the AT with him and he pointed to a tall 5” in diameter maple that had what I thought was a baby bear clutching the top. It was no mink, which are normally chestnut brown this time of year and 13-18 inches long. It was jet black and had the same size and head shape. As I circled the tree to get a 360-degree view of it I saw that I was no bear either, due to a long, thick, bushy tail.

It was a fisher. I’ve only seen one of them before, some twenty-some years ago as it bounded away from my field and entered the woods. Fishers are solitary, elusive, and dangerous.  Pound for pound, they are one of the fiercest  animals in the Maine woods and are the only species that kills and eats porcupines. By repeatedly biting and scratching at a porcupine’s face, fishers cause it to bleed to death.  Because most of a porcupine is covered in quills (aka quill pig), the fisher then eats the porcupine by flipping the dead animal over and chmping through the stomach.

I had no need to continue on the AT as it veered north before Lake Hebron and paralleled Maine Route 15 for another 2.5 miles or so. I’ve done it twice before. As I negotiated my way around the Trail on the north side of the Lake I was able to see portions of the original AT.

ancient groove of AT

I like this method of marking the entrance to the AT;

Back in the day, the AT in Maine made a beeline into many of the towns that are now skirted with reroutes. The reason for this was to feature more wilderness experiences. For me, I like experiencing town life, especially away from population centers as you move your way through Maine. I’ve kindled numerous warm relationships from my trail encounters with the kindness of strangers.

Today was no exception. I began to walk a new road extension west from Monson with several sparking homes and camps in place. The dry gravel road threw up choking clouds of dust as the occasional pickup truck sped past. Since I was within a mile or less from the town I didn’t try to hitch a ride. It didn’t matter. A red pickup approached me from behind with an older couple taking up the front seats. Rather than bathe me in another dust cloud it stopped.  A woman rolled down the passenger window and told me, “Please sit on the tailgate”. They took off and made a turn or two and eventually pulled right up to Shaw’s Hostel, which was my final stop! They knew. Numerous hikers were milling about between the two houses that now make up the Shaw’s compound. The driver of the truck got out and chatted me up a bit.

“Buddy, both you and I are too old to be hiking around when it’s this hot,” he said.

I told him I came up with hopes for cooler temps and less humidity. Neither was on tap here in Monson today. I thanked the couple profusely for the ride and hitched my pack onto my back and headed into Shaw’s to find Hippy Chick, who owns the place along with her husband Poet. I found her inside and she immediately began to address my sorry condition, with offers of a towel and even a can of ice-cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. I don’t usually drink at noon, but it was the best decision available at that moment. The inside shower was also empty so I coughed up the $5 for the pleasure of rinsing off all the grime, strain, and sweat I had accumulated today. Next, I changed into the clean clothes that I brought with me that I had stashed in the car.

If these were normal times, and they are not, I would not have pushed to get here at noon today. There were far too any folks milling about at Shaw’s for me to feel comfortable around COVid-19. Prior to the pandemic, I would have cut daily miles so that I could to set up my tent and relax, read, chat with the hikers , and write a bit . I might have even rented one of the private rooms at Shaw’s,  found dinner in town, and hung with the hikers. I don’t do well in high heat and humidity, so constant sweating while loading up the miles propelled me to home.

In the end, my 36-mile section hike started just before noon two days ago and ended just before noon today. I left refreshed after my hike, turned the car’s air-conditioning to high, and made the two-hour drive back home.

I should have stayed home and avoided the heat and humidity of the northern forest. On the positive side, I really enjoyed the views from Moxie Bald, walking over the beaver dam, and get close to a fisher, an unusually elusive resident of the Maine woods.  The AT will be there later this autumn, the prime season for taking in foliage displays and enjoying the crisp fall days and cool starry nights.


Day 2: AT section from Caratunk to Monson

12 miles

Day 2: AT section hike Caratunk to Monson.

Start: camping “au sauvage” at stream before Moxie Pond) to campsite (Guthoook Guides  @ mile 2065.5)

I awoke with the dawn when the Dark Sky App reported the temp at 75 with humidity at 85%. I was pleasantly surprised to be free of condensation inside my new Tarptent Double Rainbow (Lithium). Most of the time, camping right next to a water source tends to bring copious condensation on single-walled tents. Perhaps 1100 feet of elevation at the campsite sent the wetter air down the slope for once.
I ate my usual breakfast right out of a baggie: homemade granola and Nido brand dehydrated whole milk powder. I filled my 32 oz used Gatorade bottle, whose wide mouth accommodates my trusty Steripen, with 4 packets of Starbucks Instant coffee, drank half, and started hiking around 6:30 am- shirtless. The day was already humid and hot enough that I was sweating in 15 minutes.

I hadn’t realized just how close I had camped to the Moxie Pond Road. Where I exited the forest I saw evidence of the old high cable winter cables over Baker Stream. There used to  be two cables stretched out over the end of Joe’s Hole. The hiker stood on the lower cable and held themself upright by holding on to the upper cable. I remember using a big carabiner to clip my pack to the upper cable and pushed it ahead of me. I am afraid of heights and it was terrifying. I am relieved its gone, and replaced by the reroute further downstream.
Unfortunately, the same sort of disturbing dead animal weirdness was back again with a rotting carcass of a fox sitting at the AT signpost just before the stream crossing. I was angry and moved past the sorry mess quickly.

Another long, hot humid day of hiking unfolded. I was hoping for a swim in Bald Mountain Pond at mile 7 but that didn’t happen. The side trail to get to the Pond led to a tiny strip of sandy beach with were several beached powerboats clustered together and a furious wind coming onto the shore so I moved on in the hope of a better choice to get in the water.

The day featured above treelike views along the ridges on Moxie Bald. Later, I was able to rinse off at Bald Mountain Pond, but had to be careful due to walking over slippery rocks to reach even knee-high depths. The muck was deep enough to discourage deep water swimming.

I know that there are hikers who report experiencing lasting insights while hiking. I’m mostly preoccupied with looking ahead, considering foot placement, and guessing how long it will take to finish certain segments of the footpath. That being said, it continues to astound me when I experience a childhood memory that appears novel and obscure. Today, I remembered standing next to a group of fourth-grade boys watching Mikey Mitchell chin a lug a whole icy cold bottle of Coca Cola on the playground of the Cathedral School in Fall River, MA. I remembered all the names of the starting football players on the 1967 team at Monsignor Coyle High School in Taunton, MA.    Heavy meanings?  I don’t think so! I believe it is brain synapses burping up adjacent connective fibers.

I appreciated my iPhone’s Atlas Guide in steering me to my tent site tonight and so did the two other hikers who came in after me today. Once I identified the potential campsite on the app’s map, I drew a couple quarts of water from a stream identified with an icon a couple of tenths of a mile before the campsite itself. We were able to spread out a good distance from each other at the grassy site, with one of the hikers hammocking up in the woods adjacent and the other a good thirty feet away.

I enjoyed chatting with the guys. We were all in our shelters before the dark even settled in. I fell asleep on top of my sleeping bag and slept better than I had the night before.

AT section hike: Caratunk to Monson: Part 1

I was grumbly sweltering in the house, on another oppressive 80+ degree/90% humidity summer day. My wife Marcia encouraged me to head north to take a few days off to hike the Appalachian Trail, where the weather was predicted to be drier and cooler in Maine’s western mountains.

I pulled out the Map and Guide to the AT in Maine and decided that this section would be good for me to rehike. I’ve done this 36 mile section twice before.  I planned to spend three and maybe four days to enjoy myself. The route skirts Pleasant, Moxie, and Bald Mountain Ponds, as well as Lake Hebron. The path is relatively benign, except for climbs of Pleasant Pond (2477’) and Moxie Bald (2629’) Mountains in the first half of the section Five miles of downhill after Pleasant Pond Mountain and fifteen miles of downhill off Moxie Bald toward Monson sweetened the deal.

Day 1 start and finish

I called Shaw’s Hostel in Monson to schedule a shuttle to Caratunk where the Appalachian Trail picks up again after it crosses the broad Kennebec River. After paying the $70 shuttle fee, one of the staff trucked me over to the Caratunk AT parking lot just uphill from route 201. I started hiking at approximately 11:30, but not before I encountered some weirdness.

First, came a frustrating conversation with a fellow with Massachusetts plates on a completely loaded Subaru wagon that stuffed with camping gear. He was from Boston, had a European accent, and when I asked him why he found himself to be in the lot he indicated that he stopped to make some “adjustments” to his car. The conversation turned to hiking where he told me that he was headed to Baxter. When I asked him about his reservations he told me emphatically that they were not necessary, as he planned to day hike. I started to school him up on Baxter’s unique reservation system and he cut me off, then launched into a diatribe about how Baxter hates hikers and that Baxter won’t even take peoples’ garbage and trash. He went on to blame the policy for  “Trash all over the place up around Baxter making the towns look like garbage dumps.” I wished him luck and as I walked toward the entrance to the trail I gagged from the stench of a big dead bloating porcupine that had been placed on the signpost marking the trailhead. Not an auspicious start. When I  finished the trip I called an area game warden to report the problem.

Not the greeting I expected

Within 5 minutes of sweating in the heat and oppressive humidity, I removed my shirt, hiking shirtless for most of my trek, changing into my dry t-shirt each night before slipping into my tent. Prior to hitting the sack I‘m in the habit of rinsing off so that I don’t grime up my down bag. It cooled off enough each night that I draped the summer weight bag over my body after falling asleep unclothed on my pad.

No one was in any of the four shelters that I passed on the AT. It was understandable, as Appalachian Trail Conference discourages hikers from congregating in the shelters due to the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Sign = altered trail life

I became very angry about some graphically obscene graffiti in a couple of the shelter walls. I lost the one pencil I brought with me but none of the registers in the shelters had writing implements with them.

High point of the afternoon

I was forced to hike until 7 pm due to no water in the 6 mile stretch from the Pleasant Pond Shelter to a weak stream just before Moxie Pond Road where I scored a flat spot to set up my new Double Rainbow Li Tarptent ( review forthcoming).

Double Rainbow Li

A hawk had let up on his attacks:

I needed water to complete my dinner and breakfast as well and found enough to rinse the grime and sweat off, which was probably my most pressing want.

The problem was I couldn’t eat the freeze-dried ( Good-to-Go) Bibimbap, a spicy Korean mixed rice with sesame carrots and spinach. I was so tired I had no energy for hunger, and in my diminished state the “ immensely flavorful spicy sauce” tasted like spiced ground cardboard and was too hot for even me on one of hottest days of the summer. I ate about a third of it and packed the rest away to try again tomorrow. I usually can ingest Fritos, and had a fresh bag with me but only ate a little.

I did not experience the AT that I remember today where I only encountered one southbound hiker, who didn’t even look up when I greeted him as moved off the trail to let him pass by. The AT in Maine in mid-August is usually populated with northbound thru-hikers eager to finish up and chat a bit about their long hike.

It was a big afternoon of walking nevertheless with twelve miles down even with a zero morning of miles. I had hope for thunderstorms, showers, or even a downpour to come in while I slept, but no.

A Return to the Appalachian Trail in Maine

I’m excited about returning to the Appalachian Trail for several days of backpacking. The last time I was on the AT was a couple of weeks ago, when I went up to the Bigelow Range with my saws, pruners, and axe to remove any obstructions on the Safford Brook Trail as well as a short section of the AT and cleaning up the Safford Notch campsite for summer use.

Safford Brook intersection

This time I am on my own to hike where I want, and I won’t be carrying any extra saws. I’m a member of a few hiking groups on FaceBook and one post suggested checking out a shorter hike of the AT between the Kennebec River and Monson. Over the 36 miles, there will be  Pleasant Pond, Moxie Pond, and Bald Mountain Pond to swim in, a relatively brief ascent of Moxie Bald Mountain at 2,629 feet, and 17 miles of descent!

Kennebec River to Monson

The last time I walked this section was in early September in 2007 when it took me three days to walk those 36 miles. Here are my Trailjournal Entries from 2017 of this same section.  Since then I went on to thru-hike the PCT, CDT, The Long Trail, The East Coast Trail, the Fundy Footpath, and the Camino Portuguese.

I’ve scheduled a $70 one hour-one-way shuttle to Caratunk after I drop off my car at Shaw’s Hostel in Monson. I’ll walk from the Kennebec River some 36 miles northbound into Shaw’s where my car will be waiting for me.

Although I am in shape I won’t be trying for any speed records! As of today, I’ve logged 653 miles on my bikes, and 720 miles of hiking in 2020. My yearly goal is to amass 2020 miles combined, roughly half on foot and half on a bike.

I’ve been unemployed since March 19 due to Covid-19.

Since I have been home, I’ve focused on major renovations/construction projects at my Hobbs Pond camp, and at the house. I’ve finished an eight-sided office/writing retreat and installing a window, new side walls, and electricity in the camp loft.

Here at home I’ve just completed the removal of asphalt shingles and replacing two outbuildings with new metal roofing. The rest of my focus has been planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting vegetables.

I want to hike more and also return to completing my new book, which has 70 pages finished.

I went camping for three days last weekend in Vermont riding my Trek Stache 8.0 off-road on the world-class Kingdom Trails in East Burke VT. It was there that I accepted that my beloved tent, a Tarptent (Moment model) that Marcia bought me for a birthday present in 2013 is toast. It survived 165 days of all sorts of abuse on my CDT thru-hike plus subsequent years since then on my other backpacking trips. It has been sent back to Tarptent twice for repairs but the worn-out mosquito netting and the broken zipper and previous repairs just became too much for me to keep the wild stuff out so I have a brand new Tarptent on order, this time a markedly improved Double Rainbow model made out of Dyneema that packs tiny and weighs 1.7 pounds.

Double Rainbow Li

So, the weather window looks good so far for my backpacking adventure, this time surrounded by Covid-19. Monson is less than 90 miles from here, so I can fill up on gas locally and make the whole round trip without stopping. Normally, I like sleeping in the lean-tos on the AT but this time I’ll be tenting and wearing a mask in any close interactions with others.

Consider subscribing to this blog to stay posted for those upcoming daily trip reports.

Hiking Socks That Last

It pays to buy lifetime gear, even if the initial purchase price is steep.

My first experience with paying more than $20 for a pair of socks was with Darn Tough, back before my 2013 thru-hike of the CDT.  Since then, I have not bought many other socks and what I do buy comes with a lifetime warranty.

Here in Maine, We used to have the best warranty in the outdoor business at LL Bean’s but their original replace/refund warranty was watered down couple of years ago and has caused me to buy elsewhere since then.

LLBean’s current warrantyWe 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 Darn Tough’s warranty:  Our unconditional lifetime guarantee is simple. If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. No strings. No conditions. Socks guaranteed for life.

What you see in the picture at the start of this post are five pair of brand new replacement socks I received this past week from three companies that currently offer the lifetime merino wool replacement deal:  Darn Tough, Farm to Feet and Point 6.  No arguments from these establishments about the return, and the only company that required me to send in the old ( washed, of course) worn socks was Darn Tough.  Photos of the Point6 and Farm to Feet were sufficient to receive the replacements.

I have been criticized by readers of my book and my blogs that I mention brands too often.  To be clear, I’ve bought all my backpacking socks.  Actual brands and models  matter to me. What holds up under heavy use is communicated to others.

A responsible company that backs its products and reduces its carbon footprint is Patagonia.  Right now their new COVID-19 safety procedures have put off sending in repairs until further notice—but DIY repairs are available.

Lifetime socks are much more trailworthy that “normal” socks. One brand new pair of my hiking pal’s Columbia merino socks developed two  holes the first day he wore them in the New Mexico desert.  As an example, my two pair of Darn Tough Light Hikers survived the whole CDT.  A carry one other pair , but that is reserved for wearing inside my sleeping bag.  They protect my down bag from grime if and when I can’t wash my feet and also keep my feet warm when its cold.

So, I’ve got plenty fresh socks to choose from and am ready to head out for some actual backpacking in the next couple of weeks.  I just have another metal roof to put on one of my outbuildings first.

Care for your feet!   Blisters are not acceptable!

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.

You Should Read the Jan/Feb 2020 Issue of Backpacker Mag…

Because it is their best issue ever.

I’ve subscribed to Backpacker mag for  over 25 years.  I plan to ride my mountain bike and hike for another 2020 miles this calendar year, so I spend a good part of my time outdoors.  While I’m an experienced backpacker my interest in reading about and acquiring new gear and clothing has almost totally diminished, as well as my interest in reading about all the possible places in the world that I could go  backpacking.  Most months  I am done with the magazine in less than a half hour.

Then “The Long Trails Issue”  came into my mailbox.  Hmmmm.

“What up?”  I asked myself?

Maybe its the new Editorial Director, Shannon Davis?

After the initial pages of the usual highlights of dozen or more of places throughout where I’m not interested in hiking, I came to page 31- “Skill Set:  The Thru-Hikers Handbook”.   It contained “Food is Fuel” where personalized meal plans, and sketching out of resupply strategies was of interest and reeked of experienced input from two thru-hiking record holders: Heather (Anish) Anderson and Jennifer (Odessa) Pharr-Davis.

I was suspect of page 34’s 10 multiple choice questions that result in knowing   “How Fast Will You Make It to Kathdin?” as a continuous hike.  My first  thru-hike was the AT in 2007 for 5.5 months.  My score resulted in a “About 4 months”.  I am certain I would take me approximately 5 months to do it again, so the quiz came out pretty close.

Page 35 was chock full of useful information, including rest day strategies, US Post Office decorum, and a great graphic –  “A 25 -Mile-Day-By The Minute” schedule, which is basically to start walking at daybreak, try to make 12 miles by noon, and then keep going until just before dark. Its not a big secret plan.  It does get boring some days , so passion for the sport better not be your main reason for thru-hiking.

I absolutely loved page 44 Warmup, Bed Down.  The whole page is hand drawn and colored, including the print and large image of a mummy bag.

Page 44 Backpacker magazine

I  now carry a small sketch pad,  colored pencils, and set aside some time to notice details that one misses when a point and shoot camera captures a place of interest.  Here’s my last effort, from Maine’s Namahkanta Public Lands :

Since I’ve decided to carry a satellite communication device the side-by-side review of four of the more popular products in this class was of interest to me, and convinced me that I had made the right choice in choosing the Garmin Inreach, paying $12.55 a month to be able to text back and forth word wide as well as trigger a rescue.

On page 59 Barney (Scout) Mann’s historical feature about one of the earliest thru-hikers that most people have never heard of was a home run.   In 1924 Peter Parsons burdened himself with a 60 pound pack and in one hiking season thru-hiked what would eventually become the Pacific Crest Trail.  The black and white photos only elevate Mann’s richly embroidered story.

Six more hand-drawn pages featuring double-page spreads of the three Triple Crown Trails come next, along with selected spots on each map linking the reader to successful thru-hiker commentaries.


Kidnapped On The Trail by Bill Donahue, is the last feature, and is a convincing argument that cautions us to understand that all is not peace and love on these National Scenic Trails.  The very nature of the accepting, inclusive community that welcomes the diversity of hikers into the backpacking family is exactly the same reason why a small minority of criminals find backpackers to be easy pickings.  I’ve experienced these folks up close and personal at least twice on the AT: one serial wallet thief and another criminally convicted harasser who triggered a multi-person law enforcement lock down and search near the Kennebec River in Maine.  It was bad enough that the police convinced the female thru-hiker to abandon her almost completed thru-hike and head for home as fast as possible.

One last shout out to the design team on this issue.  I cringe at the lack of clarity that some magazines produce when they fail to tone down the background color and then insert a typeface with inadequate contrast.  I cancelled my subscription to  Bicycling magazine after they were repeat offenders at obscuring the readability of their text.

So, I’m hoping that Shannon Davis is able to extend her  Editorial Director home run  streak with more to come.

Kudos, Backpacker magazine!







Saturday Morning presentation: Attitudes, Actions (and Apps) from 8,000 mile of Backpacking

Hosted by Maine Sport Outfitters, 115 Commercial Street, Rockport, ME 04856

Saturday Nov. 23,  10 AM- 12 PM

Tom Jamrog will discuss research from his forthcoming book on endurance related to essential psychological, physical, and mental training for long distance backpacking success.

Topics include:  evolutionary biology, Stoic techniques to buffer pain management, negative visualization, recovery science, heart rate variability, meditation, gait analysis, coffee as performance enhancement, compression socks, overhydration (hyponatremia) , optimal walking speed, and maybe more.

Tom  received the Triple Crown of Hiking award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association in 2014. In 2017 he published “In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail (CDT),” a daily account of his 2013 five-month continuous hike over the Rockies and the CDT.

Presentation starts at 10am followed by a Q&A session and book signing.


Three More New Hampshire 4,000 Footers Checked Off the List

I’m riding a wave of opportunities to get out and hike again. In the past couple of weeks I’ve made two overnight trips to the White Mountains to target the remaining four of New Hampshire’s forty-eight 4,000 footers. I’m combining forces with my very good friend and hiking enthusiast Tenzing, who lives in NH. Tenzing needs a few more summits than I do (7) but neither of us mind a few extra mountain hikes, so he’s doing a few repeats and so am I.
We haven’t hiked together for five years. A couple of weeks ago we had a very successful trial hike of 3,268’ Kearsarge North.
This week, I drove up to Silver Lake, NH to stay with my brother-in-law Cam, who put me up for a night so that I couldn’t have to drive up and back from a long day of hiking three more 4,000 footers: Mounts Tom( 4051’), Field (4350’) and Willey (4285’) in Crawford Notch.

We picked the best day of the summer so far to hike. I awoke to 47 degrees, and rendezvoused with Tenzing at Intervale. The cold temps quelled any lingering mosquitoes or black flies. The views from on high were much better than average, although there was some cloud cover up high. We spotted cars at two ends of our route and were hiking by 8 am.

Tenzing headed up

By 9:30 AM we had completed out first 2.5 miles, trudging upward at a very good rate of 2.1 mph. The summit of Mt. Tom was reached by 10:15 AM.

Tenzing Atop Mt. Tom

Tensing informed me that he had previously submitted Mounts Tom and Field on Sept. 18, 1994.

Number two 4,000 footer- Mt. Field

UT on Field

After short breaks for water and snacks, we meandered up and down the ridge to reach the summit of Mt. Willey at 12:30 PM.

And Willey is #3 today

From there is was a long, and often treacherous descent to a segment of the Appalachian Trail, down to the parking lot off the highway.

The views from an outcropping were rewarding today:

Tenzing viewing Mt. Washington and Webster cliffs

Tenzing posted this additional information on his Facebook page: “A piece of advice anyone wishing to climb Mt Willey:  try to avoid climbing and descending from/to the South. The trail is extremely steep, highly eroded, and the footing is frequently scree or loose gravel and very slippery!”

Heading Down


Me descending long sketchy ladder section -Photo by John Clark

Tenzing and I have another hiking trip planed to check off two more 4,000 voters on 9/10-9/11. Then a 3 day, 2 night hike overnight in October to complete Tenzing’s last 5 and my last 1.

September and October are my favorite months to hiked spend time in the New England woods. I’m fortunate to be able to hike tough stuff and to have friends like Tenzing that I can share my experiences with.