I’ve decided to escape the impending army of ticks and hike in Atlantic Canada this summer.
I plan to redo the Fundy Footpath on the New Brunswick coast near St. John.
Its a 4 hour drive from my house on the Maine coast. I completed this shorter thru-hike in 2008 in 4 days , with a group led by Xenon that featured my Appalachian Trail pals Bad Influence and Rangoon. Here’e the link to my trip report of that most excellent adventure. I plan a full week, including the drive there and back.
I also want to hike for at least a week on the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland again, flying into St. John’s on the Avalon Peninsula and cherry picking sections of the trail to redo. I’ll likely be meandering around the northern half of the trail, camping where I feel and also visiting the oldest city in North America again. The ECT is hard to get to, but worth the visit. Check out my trip report here.
I’m open to company, if any of my backpacking pals would like to come along. Let me know.
I’m the after dinner entertainment up to Shin Pond in couple of weeks. I’ll be presenting after the full belly dinner at Mt. Chase Lodge on Friday night – a brand new hiking presentation entitled, “The Allure of the Long Distance Hike” Reservations are being accepted until April 20 ! I bet there will still be snow on the ground in the campground, but rooms and cabins are available in the village.
“In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail.” By Thomas Jamrog, Maine Authors Publishing, 2017, 263 pages.
At a time in life when most men are happily easing into retirement, Tom Jamrog of Lincolnville took up long-distance hiking, tackling the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Satisfied but by no means sated, the then 63-year-old Jamrog sought the ultimate prize, the Continental Divide Trail. Jamrog’s story describes the desolate, brutal, expansive, majestic 3,000-mile journey, a monumental effort achieved in the company of hiking partners half his age. With palpable determination and commitment, Jamrog colorfully and honestly captures the highs and lows of thru-hiking through the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada.
People get better by putting time and effort into understanding and practicing the components that are necessary to complete a task, job, or even a sport, like backpacking. I recently read an article by Tim Herrera in his NYTimes Smarter Living column that challenged my thinking about improving my long distance backpacking skills. Here’s the article: Just Working Harder Won’t Get You Ahead. Working Smarter Will. In sum, Herrera postultates about variables that affect skill levels in advanced performers. Herrera claims that the strongest predictor of skill wasn’t time spent practicing; rather, it was time spent in serious study. Unfortunately, Herrera draws on just one example- the “sport” of chess, as his example.
In my experience hugely more productive to engage in the activities and practice the basic principles that bolster one’s chances of success than spend that equal time in serious study of backpacking books, websites, and videos.
Backpacking and hiking are activities that should be as natural as waking up or going to sleep- after all, once we learn to walk as babies, life is just putting one foot in front of the other, right? Well, yes and no.
Walking is easy until you turn your ankle and sprain it, or worse. It’s easy unless you find yourself off-trail in a unfamiliar area, or if you need to cross a raging stream that has the power to sweep your feet out from under you.
Walking is no problem, until you are walking on ice slanted on an impossibly steep slope, or a bear rips into your backpack at night and absconds with your food.
Experience trumps familiarity, which brings up another pitfall of trying to master a set of physical and mental skills by reading, listening to, or observing others engaged in the practice. You fall into the pit when you follow up unreliable advice that comes your way due to the ability of media to make a pitch look polished and professional when in fact it may even be uninformed ofreven false. For example, I attended a workshop in April 2010 in Southern California as I was starting my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail dubbed ” the foot talk” where a former PCT-thru hiker told us anxious group of wanna-bees that blisters were inevitable. At the time, I had just switched to a pair of military issue desert boots that were supplied by New Balance that were loaded with mesh panels to dump moisture. I was fortunate to complete that hike blister free, as I have with any other long distance hike since then. Sure there were a few more things that I had learned bout taking care of my feet that I applied on my hikes, but the point is that experts don’t know what is best for you, and maybe not even themselves.
I bought a new tent this year- a 12′ diameter tipi , with one 6’10” pole, that required serious study and practice to set up. I brought my new tent to Florida this past January where I was camping with my best friend Edward. I had watched two videos about setting the unit up as well as read the instruction sheet that accompanied the tent. I also read all the customer comments on the website about setting it up. I laughed when I read the comment about the poor guy who took 2 hours to set his tipi up the first time in an actual snowstorm. Would you believe that it also took Edward and me two hours to set up the tent, and that was in warm weather on perfectly flat ground ? The written instructions were confusing, and we ended up devising a much simpler method for doing the job right, getting the setup down to 10 minutes after two hours of actual engagement in the act of putting the thing up taught and secure.
In Zen Body-Being, Peter Ralston writes about developing physical skills, power, and even grace. In 1978 Ralston became the first non-Asian ever to win the World Championship full-contact martial arts tournament held in the Republic of China.
Ralston writes about the wisdom of experience: ” Studying techniques and training ritualized movement may be useful, but these are ‘details’ within a larger picture. We need to be able to discern the sometimes-subtle difference between just thinking about something and truly experiencing something. One of the simplest ways to bridge this gap is to involve ourselves with hand-on experimentation and investigation.”
So, make 2018 the year you experience the outdoors and engage in hiking and backpacking more than you spend those same hours on screen while sitting on the couch. Set a goal to get out for many hours, where you might be blessed enough to be able to walk though rain, snow, wind, cold, and dark and have the realization that walking might just be putting one foot in front of the other, but it isn’t easy, and it doesn’t have to be done on blistered feet.
TOM JAMROG – – THRU-HIKING THE CDT (CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL )
FEBRUARY 1 @ 6:30 PM- 8:00 PM
Tom Jamrog will present on Thursday, February 1 at 6:30 PM on his 5 months of experiences on the CDT, one of the toughest long distance hikes in the world.
The 2,500 mile National Scenic Trail is now 70% completed. It starts at the Mexico border and travels along the spine of the Rockies as it winds through New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Montana into Canada. The presentation will draw on images and stories from his newly released book: In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey Along America’s Continental Divide Trail.
Blue Hill Books will assist with book sales at the event.
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 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.
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.
I’m looking forward to presenting Friday night at the Snowalkers Rendezvous in Vermont in November. Great weekend experience!
“Walking Matters”- From the ages of 57 – 64, “Uncle Tom” thru-hiked four National Scenic Trails. Tom reviews the latest research on the physical and mental health benefits of walking and discusses physical training and cognitive techniques that bolster a greying snow walker’s experience on the winter path. Tom directs outdoor activities through Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures and is author of In the Path of Young Bulls: An American Journey on the Continental Divide Trail.
My first book is back from the printers and ready for reading!
The book is also available on Amazon, with the “Look Inside” feature online within a week.
The softcover book lists for $ 28.95, with 286 pages, including 34 pages of full color photos. Most pages have two photos. The book builds on my 2013 Trailjournal of my Continental Divide Trail thru-hike. Originally written on my iPhone, additional dialogue and background was added. Over 50 hours of professional editing completed the process. Thanks for your support over the past ten years of hiking!