Exploring the St. George River- Take 2

Steve and I combined forces to continue our exploration of the St. George River from Searsmont to the Appleton Preserve. For this hike, we’re linking to the southern end of the Ridge to River section that we completed a couple of weeks ago.

The day was perfect, and although it became a bit warm in the less forested segments on the hike, there were ample opportunities for refreshing ourselves in the shady, forested segments, and if we so desired (we didn’t swim), a jump into the river could’ve put a stop to any sweating. We spotted my car at the parking lot on Route 105 , then drove back in Steve’s truck to put in at the Ghent Road trailhead.

If you don’t want to spot two cars, I’d recommend parking at the Ghent lot and hike to Magog Falls and return. You’d experience the best this trail has to offer in terms of proximity to the watercourse and the interpretive historical displays. You can come back another time to hike north to Magog Falls from the Route 105 parking lot!

Strava recorded this to be a 3.6-mile footpath that includes travel along the banks of the St. George River.

The St. George River is a bit shy of 3.0 miles from my house, yet I’ve never walked this trail before. Staying at home and exploring local trails opens up possibilities like this!

From the Georges River Land Trust:
“Canal Path is a 3-mile trail in Searsmont that traces a section of the historic Georges River Canal dating to the late 1700’s. There are interpretive displays along the trail describing the aspects of the canal system that are still visible today. The trail also features a self-guided tour of the sustainable forestry practices of our partnering landowner, Robbins Lumber Company. This a level trail that meanders along the St. George River for about 1.5 miles. This trail connects to the Ridge to River Trail as well as our Appleton Preserve, and offers some of the most scenic, undeveloped riverside hiking in our region.”

Photos:

A pleasant view for a picnic
Interpretive Display
Plenty of pleasant views

Magog Falls, a deep pool, and a sandy beach await the hiker

I plan to come back to more closely explore the river. My plan is to walk the trail south from the Ghent Road lot to Magog Falls to trek and even swim back in the river itself

.   I’ve never done such a “wild swim” before and the Canal Path might be the place for me to try it.

Info from the Georges River Land Trust:   Download the printable trail map

 

My May Morning Microadventure

I just completed a microadventure exploring from my camp on Hobbs Pond in Hope.         

Here’s the elevation profile for the hike:

We’re fortunate to have found a traditional Maine camp just one town and a ten-mile drive from our house.

One cold winter a few years ago I rode my fat tire bike from the house over snowmobile trails that included traverses over ice on Moody and Hobbs ponds to get to camp. It was a shorter route that cut out significant elevation changes that are encountered on a drive, hike, or ride.

I have been thinking about biking from home to camp over a portion of abandoned roads. On the drive over to camp a couple of days ago I made a detour up Bull Hill Road in Hope to find that the gravel road ended at a roped gate.

I remember hike-a biking through this area on my Diamondback Apex in the late 1980s when I encountered a thick extended portion of overgrown and downed trees that made forward progress tedious and frustrating. The other end of Bull Hill Road connects with Route 235 near the top of spectacular blueberry fields that look out on Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills. I took a GPS waypoint at the gate for future reference.

Which was now! The black flies and mosquitoes are also feeding on skin and it will hit 91% humidity today so I hiked from camp early. It was cool enough that those pesky little biting annoyances were still quiet.

I followed a route that I charted with Strava’s iPhone app. The upgraded Routes feature made it easy for me to discern paved and gravel roads and switch to manual mode for the one section requiring bushwhacking. Strava predicted 4 miles from the camp to the waypoint at the roped gate.

The first half of this route is known to me as I’ve hiked it before. I walked out the camp door, turned left on Luce Lane, and reached Crabtree Road where I went uphill until the gravel road forked.

Hobbs Pond outlet

Signs of an old road were visible just to the left of the fork.

Entrance to the discontinued road to the left of pavement

This is rideable terrain on a full-suspension bike. Today the mud was mostly dried out, but water flowed down some of the rough double track.

Discontinued road

Eventually I connected to the Morey Hill Road at a point where the Alford Lake Road is reached by going left.

The years take their toll

Unfortunately, the route to the right was eroded, uneven, and plugged with mounds of silt with leaves mixed in, several downed trees, and a rusty, exposed culvert.

Signs say keep out:

As I approached the high point of Route 235 along Hatchet Mountain Road the views improved dramatically. I passed through expansive blueberry fields in full bloom and heard the hum of bees before I came upon a hundred temporary hives, which are trucked in each year to assist with pollination of the tiny, white bell-shaped flowers.

Many pallets of beehives in this field

I eventually reached pavement and briefly walked left downhill until I took a right at the other end of the Bull Hill Road which is signed as the gravel Smith Drive. I passed less than a dozen well-cared-for houses as I ascended this backside of Hatchet Mountain. When the gravel road ended at the last house, I followed a narrow grassy path that wound its way steadily toward the GPS point/gate.

A mowed path appears!

Eventually, the grassy track transitioned onto an old woods road that was cut straight between two old crumbling stone walls, holding to the 800’ contour line.

Nope, not walking through

Several hundred feet of the old road was still flooded, but I skirted around the edges and progressed forward.

Soon, I reached a solid packed gravel-and-stone road that serviced the extensive blueberry fields that were both above and below me.

Solid ground underfoot

I marched on to eventually reach the waypoint at the roped gate to establish the connection from camp to home and back!

Mission accomplished!

Next microadventure?

Riding my full-suspension Trek Full Stache from my house all the way to camp!

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/3530832010

Searsmont’s Ridge to River Trail

I’ve teamed with my friend Steve to explore some lesser-known trails in this southwest corner of Waldo County this past couple of Covid-19 weeks.

On this windy, stellar May weekday, we spotted a car at both ends of the Ridge to River Trail in Searsmont, ME. The trail is a 4-mile footpath that includes travel along the banks of the St. George River before it goes up and over Appleton Ridge. It is an up and down experience with varied habitats and is a segment of the Georges Highland Path, a 50-mile network of footpaths in the Midcoast region that is maintained by the Georges River Land Trust.

Download  printable trail map

The GRLT publishes this:
“The Ridge to River Trail in Searsmont connects our Gibson Preserve to the Canal Path via a five-mile footpath with significant stretches along the Georges River and fantastic views of the river valley as seen from the top of Appleton Ridge. This trail does have some strenuous sections, particularly the ascent of Appleton Ridge, but the extra effort is well worth it.   If hiked together, the Ridge to River Trail, Canal Path, and the trails on the Gibson and Appleton Preserves offer 11 miles of hiking for those interested in longer outdoor adventures”.

If you decide to walk from the lower end from the Ghent Road parking lot on the Georges River up and over Appleton Ridge ( which is the opposite of what we did), then read Aislinn Sarnacki’s ONE MINUTE HIKE report of her adventure. It is well worth a read and has a video clip as well.

Blue blazes mark the trail -approaching Appleton Ridge

After studying the map we decided that we wanted to end our hike with a descent from Appleton Ridge, ending at the Ghent Road parking lot. We reached the west trailhead by starting at the Fraternity Village Store in Searsmont to drive west on Route 173 (Woodmans Mill Road) for about 2 miles and stopped at the left on Ripley Corner Road (which appears as Riley Corner Road on Google Maps).  We parked on the shoulder of the side road and walked down the gravel road to cross a wooden snowmobile bridge.

We found the start of the trail confusing, flooded in parts, and not marked.

Careful!

My GPS helped orient us toward the river. Things immediately got confusing with no signage at the first fork.   Looking back, I bet that the right we missed was the 1.2-mile bypass that would have kept us out of the wide expanses of overflow that punctuated the main road. Nevertheless, we skirted the flooded areas without submerging our boots and passed along the main muddy road with GPS in hand and eventually went left where blue taped branches identified the actual trail….

..which was excellent!

A spot to sit

The following photos may convey our excitement at traveling along this historic waterway. Both Steve and I talked about coming back and canoeing this portion of the river and doing a little fishing as well.

One of the open places along the Georges River

 

Getting through

 

Large pool

 

Wild walking ahead
descending through tree farm approaching Ghent Rd. parking lot

Next, we will explore the GRLT’s Canal Path.

NOTE: The following update was via an added comment by a volunteer from GRLT: The Ridge to River trail begins at the Gibson Preserve accessed from Cedar Lane off of West Appleton Road. Follow the blue blazes through the Gibson Preserve. The Preserve ends at the old discontinued road(the one you walked in on from Ripley Bridge which is no longer used as an access). Directly across the road is the beginning of the R2R trail which ends at Ghent Road near Robbins Mill. The map on on website needs to be updated. And apologies for the blowdowns – we’re still in the process of cleaning up from winter. It’s next on the list.

 

Looking for Uncrowded Hiking Options: Consider Stream Exploration !

While many of us are frustrated that our favorite trailheads for hiking are overused right now,  fresh options are available.

There has been enough rain that has fallen that streams are swollen and flowing strongly.

Maine is a very wet state. It’s been said that walking here for a straight-line mile in any direction will lead to water of some type, be it a river, stream, pond, lake or at this time of year vernal pool. One of my favorite activities the time of year is to follow streams in my neighborhood to trace their source, as well as walk them until they reach the sea.

I invited my friend Craig to join me in one of these microadventures after a strong rain. We walked out of my driveway and only had to venture a few hundred feet down the road until a large culvert was underneath us, swollen with clear, cold rainwater that came down off the South face of Moody Mountain. We both had on boots and gloves as it was a bit cold. Up we went, beside and in a meandering stream that passed along ancient stone walls, bordered by a lichen and moss encrusted forest floor that was alive with color and textures.

Wild walking is often punctuated by a shocking amount of fallen trees. This was an area where the only other visitors are hunters who venture these parts during deer season. I really enjoy the problem-solving of how to advance uphill, as we weave our way from one side of the stream to the next, moving around fallen giants and avoid thickly grown shrubs that would tear our clothing if we pushed through them.

At one point the stream took a 90 degree right turn as it fell through a gap in an ancient stone wall after the stream ran the length of the wall for fifty or so feet on the uphill side.

It was uncanny that the crumbling wall held the water so tightly for that length.

As Craig and I went further up, the stream began to peter out as it exited a large bowl-shaped ravine that was covered with a thick mantle of decades-old decomposing deciduous leaves. We couldn’t see it, but we could hear it trickling underneath our boots. There was still higher ground above so we continued up. Eventually, we spotted small pools that punctuated the increasing elusive stream bed, as we reached the high point of the ridge. We walked across an old logging road and then there it was- an actual pool that I thought was the source of the stream.

I was wrong. Craig pointed up to a adjacent massive wild blueberry field that gradually continued uphill to a higher point above the forest. As we walked up to a ledge that was the viewpoint of the expanse of Penobscot Bay, Craig pointed to numerous small depressions filled with rainwater and said, “This blueberry field is the start of the stream!”

The source pool below us was likely filled by water seeping down from under the thin mantle of organic material that was itself atop the igneous granite bedrock, which served as an impermeable layer that funneled it to our tiny pond.

This kind of natural history analysis is a form of forest forensics, a term I picked up from the work of Tom Wessels, from his book, Reading the Forested Landscape.

Also, this stream exploration idea was not mine. It’s actually from a chapter in Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes.

Note: Be sure that you seek permission from landowners to pass through their properties if there is any question at all about possible trespass. And do wear tall rubber boots, as it is often easier to just walk right up a stream rather than stumble along through impassable thickets.

If you decide to explore the source or reach the mouth of a stream, post it up !

Happy microadventuring!

In my next post, I’ll explain how the hiker can use heat maps to seek out places where there is more dispersed social distancing.

State Parks Closing? How to journey around your home.

Hard times for sure. I’ve been out of work since March 16, with no pay until October at best. At least I can hike, but not everywhere.  My local Camden Hills State Park is still open to the public, but there are too many folks walking there for me to be comfortable now. Last Sunday the Stevens Corner lot there was full, with cars parked on both sides of the road like no one has ever seen before. A few days later the same scene appeared on the Barnestown Road parking area for the Georges Highland Path, where signs are posted prohibiting overflow parking on both sides of the road.

I listened to a public radio call-in show this week about accessing the outdoors in this COVID-19 world. I learned that as of Friday, March 27, the following Midcoast and Southern Maine coastal State Parks and beaches are closed due to overcrowding until April 8: Reid State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Fort Popham, Fort Baldwin, Kettle Cove State Park, Two Lights State Park, Crescent Beach State Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, Ferry Beach State Park, and Mackworth Island. (Note that the closure could be extended depending on the spread of the potentially deadly virus.) Read Full Press Release

Where have all these folks come from? Part of the glut is due to gyms, health clubs, and yoga studios being closed. It’s understandable that when these supports in our community are not accessible, people who have been in the habit of regular indoor exercise think, “I’ll go out to public exercise areas”.

I’ve had a head start on dealing with no gym.  I was a faithful gym rat for at least 30 consecutive years until I came back from my 2013 Continental Divide thru-hike. While completing one of these half year-long total immersion in nature deals is thought of as a grand mindfulness vacation where past traumas are resolved, in reality many of us have found it difficult to embrace our old ways and for some foks even those we love. For me, one session back on the treadmill was all it took for me to walk away from the YMCA and never return. It didn’t feel right to load up a bag of gear, drive 10 miles, look for a parking space, and breathe the stuffy stale inside. I was perennially plagued by fears of athlete’s foot in the shower area.  Nature reeled me back.

Since September 2014 I’ve exercised outdoors, year round-on bikes or hikes. It’s been going well. I’ve also permanently dropped 15 pounds over my gym days.

After logging hundreds of hikes in Camden Hills State Park as well as many steps on the Georges Highland Path I offer a suggestion to those who are looking for ways to move your body outdoors.

Pick up this book: Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes by Alastair Humphries.

Microadventures

From the dustcover-“What’s a microadventure? It’s close to home, cheap, simple, short, and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours.”

I’ll lay out just one of the 38 microadventures that Humphries offers the reader:   “A Journey Around Your Home”.

The microadventure takes an hour or two hours to a few days and leaves the method of transport up to you. You basically make a circular route around your home, the length only limited by the amount of time you’d like to spend out there and away from it all.

It is a brilliant idea of imposing concentric circles around my house on a paper map. Here are a couple of examples, using my own home in Lincolnville.

This features Map Adventures’ Camden Hills Maine Hiking and Biking map
Here’s the same data but from a differently scaled topo map

You need to look at your map’s scale which is usually on the bottom on the map, near the compass declination image:

Then you decide if you want a tiny microadventure or a more robust one. Humphries has done all the calculations for you and has a little chart to assist the reader, but it’s quite a simple equation for your specific map: 2πr+ 2r = circumference (the symbol is pi).
For example, for a radius 1 mile from your house, you do this: (2 x 3.14)1 + 2(1) = 8.28 miles. You scribe a circle with a radius of 2.25 inches on your map and can see close to where you would walk. In reality, you are not walking in a pure circle, but zigzagging a bit on gravel and/or paved roads, snowmobile trails, woods roads, hiking paths, and can even throw in a little bushwhacking! It works out that for every mile added to your radius, your circumference is increased by 8 miles, so a   two mile radius would give you a 16.57 mile circumference , which translates to  long day hike or a moderate 1-2 hour bike ride.

Give it a go.  Let me know who decides to try this, please.   I suspect that even with an 8 mile route encircling your place,  you may go past places you’ve never seen before, or have never been to on foot.

I’m heading out on another Humphrey-inspired microadventure in 10 minutes and it involves water, lots of it.  Stay tuned and consider subscribing to this blog, which is now in its 12th year.

 

My Pandemic Practices

I’m reeling from the smashing of my old patterns and habits as we all try to adapt to this new socially distancing pandemic.

Morning Arrives !

Normally, this is the time of year when my professional school psychology services are at peak demand. That’s all done. All five of the schools where I work are closed until April 27, with hints mulling about that this school year may even be over. We’ll see. If that is the case, I’m out of a job until at least September. I’m a private contractor — I’m not on the payroll, so if I can’t work, I don’t make money. Also, other areas where I “work” are gone-book signings, workshops on backpacking, and guiding opportunities.

I’m still physically compromised, and restricted for any of my normal physical due to surgery on my wrist on 3/6. The stitches are out but I can’t yet increase the stress on my hand. I can’t prune my apple trees-I hope it won’t be too late when I’m finally able to do that. I also really riding my bikes, which I do year-round here in Maine.

At least I can hike. I’m buffered by the fact that I live in the country, and not a city dweller. Our rural house is on five acres and I also can go to our little camp in the neighboring town of Hope. It’s busy there in the summer, with nearly two dozen cottages, cottages, and even a couple of real houses there but right now, there is no one on either side of me or across the street, so I can isolate there as well as at the house.

I have permission from folks that live in the neighborhood to walk out my door and roam around on over a thousand acres. Years go by where I’ve never seen anyone but me hiking and biking out there. I feel safer outdoors than in.

Marcia and I have closed the door at the house to all visitors. I turn 70 in a couple of days. Marcia is not far behind me in age, plus her immune system is not 100%. We’re entrenching on the advice of the CDC which advises only essential trips (i..e hospital) for vulnerable populations.

I plan to practice is such the same routines that I’ve adopted for a while now. If you are looking to lay down some new routines and habits read Atomic Habits by James Clear.  It is the 11th most popular book on Amazon’s charts this week.  :

A) Continue to build and maintain a healthy immune system.
B) Reduce stressors. Stress impairs immunity. It doesn’t matter whether it is physical, or mental-emotional. Stress is a common and primary cause of poor immunity.
C) Meditation-I’ve practiced Transcendental Meditation daily for 50 years. I’m up to two 45 minute sessions-upon awakening and then before dinner. It’s the keystone habit of my life.
C) Targeting 7-9 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep. Educate yourself about sleep. I recommend reading the incredibly interesting book  Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

D) Daily exercise. I’ve been averaging  75-90 minutes a day of moderate hiking. It’s important not to overdo it. Too much, and/or too frequent exercise can impair the immune system too, due to stress. This leads to the next practice of…
E) Daily reading of heart rate variability, a scientifically validated measure of heart health and the need for recovery rather than over-stressing our physiology by using our bodies when we should be resting. I like DailyBeat from SweetWater Health.

F) Vitamin D supplementation. There’s conflicting evidence for the efficacy of vitamin pills but in my case, it’s all I have left. I’ve tried everything, including 12 hour-long, daily sun exposure of my bare arms and legs for 5 months at a time. The only thing that brought my vitamin D up to even the lower end of the normal range was experimenting with dosages including ingesting 50,000 units a week for months at a time. I’m now on a much lower daily dose.
G) Healthy eating, which means (for me) lower-carb, moderate protein, lots of veggies and modest levels of natural fats.
H) And now, I’m avoiding close contact with people, washing my hands every time I enter my house, and avoiding touching my eyes, nose and mouth after being exposed to others.

I) I’m learning how to set up Zoom meetings with my Monday Night Men’s Group. Seven of us have been meeting for 2.5 hours for over 30 years, which takes place over a meal that each of us prepares for the other men. We rotate the site at each other’s houses. We were able to get it rolling this past Monday, but are still trying to get in everyone on board. It’s hard to understand some of the expanded uses of technology, but the struggle to figure it out is OK with me.

We need each other right now, even though we can’t even sit around the table to do so.

Surgery #10 !

I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right wrist yesterday. I hoped to wait until May to have it done but the numbness, burning, and overall discomfort was severe enough that I scheduled it sooner. I’ve never regretted any of my previous surgeries, as every one of them improved my functioning.

I’m advised to back off normal use of my right hand for at least two weeks when the stitches come out.  I consult the I-Ching more lately.  Today’s hexagram put my approach to surgery and healing into crystal clear perspective.  Here’s a copy from today’s notes about what I learned from today’s reading: it has to do with reacting to situations where “obstructions have been cleared out”, which would be an auspicious match for carpal tunnel surgery!

At least there isn’t much snow left to shovel, driveway and walkway ice to chip, firewood to bring in, or even biking in the woods right now due to increasingly bright sunlight, moderating of below-freezing temperatures, and deep oozy mud as the upper crust of frozen water and crystallized snow melts out.

Rigger in The Bog

I recorded one of the lowest of my daily Heart Rate Variability readings from the past four years this morning.  Anesthesia plus physical trauma calls for parasympathetic recovery mode in all of us.

I’m treating my wrist with 20 minute cyces of an ice pack on and off this morning, and occasionally elevating my wrist while laying on the couch while catching up with my reading.

On the agenda for this coming recovery week will be organizing and preparing tax records, and preparing for the two 30 minute workshops I’m giving at Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport, Maine on Sat. March 16.

My first topic will be “ The Lure of Long-Distance Adventures” where I’ll present some biographical info on noteworthy endurance backpackers connected to Maine and introduce some of my favorite longer hikes in New England and the Maritimes.

Me and Billy Goat in the Milinocket Hannaford’s a couple years ago

I’ll also be exploding the current contents of my 17 pound backpack (without food or water) for all to see in “What’s In a Thru-Hiker’s Pack and Why”. It could just as easily be subtitled Or Why No Spare Underwear!

In the meantime, I can fire up Strava and add in several hikes after Daylight Savings time is adjusted once again tomorrow, as the clocks Spring Ahead an hour!

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.

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.

 

Tumbling Down from Debskoneag

If you ever find your self riding on the gravel Jo-Mary Road in northern Maine Hundred Mile Wilderness you can follow some tiny hand-lettered DLWC signs marking the varied intersections over the 24 mile drive from Route 11 just north of Brownville to the tiny dock where you unload your baggage and get shuttled by Leslie in a cedar and canvas motorboat over to one of the cabins in this 100+ year old settlement of log cabins on the shore of Fourth Debskoneag Lake.

Point Camp is Far Right

Marcia and I are here for the second year in a row, sharing Point Camp with our friends Ivan and Lynn for four nights. I’m a big fan of Maine’s historic sporting camps.
When Marcia and I were starting a young family, we started taking annual trips around Columbus Day weekend, we came to prefer enclosed heated cabins on this particular weekend after we were caught in a snowstorm where our only shelter was an open sided lean-to or a summer tents. We moved up the ladder of comfort in Baxter State Park when we began to use the heated bunkhouses that are so popular in the late fall and winter seasons.
Baxter’s bunkhouses are unusually insulated, and heated by wood stoves surrounded by wooden bunks on top of glossy grey wooden floors, and minimally appointed with a table, a few treasured chairs, and a coupe windows to provide some meager day time light.
Years later, I got back into annual winter backpacking excursions, usually on the first weekend in December, where summer destinations like the Bigelows and Tumbledown Mountain were made much more challenging due to the cold, ice and snow that had usually settled in by then.

Eventually Marcia and I began to send weekends Maine Sporting Camps, including The Birches in Rockwood, Chet’s in Jackman, Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps, Nahmakanta Lake Wilderness Camps. You get to these places from our house in midcoast Maine by winding north through fading little settlements that lead to even the more sparsely settled backwoods until you leave the pavement to pay your fee to borrow time on logging roads.

Leslie was our host again this year, likely a true Amazon, who radiates capability in the outdoors. She hefted a cooler full of food onto her shoulder and then bound over the uneven, rock and root strewn path to deposit it at our front door.

Our Home Away from Home

The main room of this camp has a big Defiant wood stove with plenty of dry hardwood inside and out.

On our first day at camp, Ivan and I went for a 10.6 mile round trip hike over to Tumbledown Dick Falls (TDF, a stunning 70 foot waterfall that is located 0.6 miles off the Appalachian Trail.

We walked from the Camp all the way out to the where the AT crosses the gravel entrance road at the southern end of Nahmakanta Lake, where we met a couple of happy thru hikers who were aiming to be of top of Katahdin in just four more days. We hiked south on the AT for a mile where we hung a right to Tumbledown Dick Falls.

 

Turn Right

I’ve hiked the Hundred Mile Wilderness several times and before now, but until now have never had the energy or inclination to take in side trips when my going is usually focused on reaching and spending time near to or on Katahdin.
I used the Atlas Guide to navigate this section of the AT and was pleased to see that Guthook included the TDF side trail.

The Tumbledown Dick Falls trail was in great shape.

Someone had been though with a chain saw recently and cleared all existing blowdowns. The trail gradually ascends until the last twenty of a mile where it splits and you can choose the upper or lower falls.

We did both, enjoying our lunch as the board of the falls and the strong flow of the discharge from the initial pool was our soundtrack. Truthfully, the upper flatter stretches were more inviting to me  than the Falls.

Upper Falls Area

Several prime campsites were noticeable near to large pools of clear water, where visibility allowed us to see numerous small fish swimming about. This place would make a great overnight micro-adventure on some hot summer day.

On the return hike to camp, we detoured to take a long look up the length of Nahmakanta Lake.  It never fails to thrill and becon me back to The Hundred.