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!
The sunrise awakened us as we prepared to pack up and complete this most southern portion of the East Coast Trail.
It’s always exciting to make it from one end of a long trail to the other.
We were warned about the mud and wet trail here by local day hikers that we encountered up north, so this was a morning to slide into wet footwear that would stay wet, but not cold.
The closer you stick to shore here, the lesser the mud. It was also recommended that if it were REALLY muddy, one could drop down to the beaches and walk there.
Passing the lighthouse itself in the first half hour, we observed numerous ATC tracks and flat areas where we might have camped. We learned that nighttime is when locals come out to visit the lighthouse on their ATV’s, so I’d try and find a place a but stay away from any ATC tracks if you like sleeping.
Many of the bridges and stairways in the first half of this day’s hike are in very worn shape and caution is necessary to avoid injury.
On the positive side, there are plenty of trees here so it is an excellent place to hang a hammock, if camping the ECT is your thing.
Readers should review YouTube videos that Randy Best has posted on his East Coast Trail Thru Hike web site. He breaks down the trail into map sections which have their own on-trail views of what the hiking in each section is like. This is one of the muddiest sections. In fact, Randy’s segments #17-18 video was taken in early spring when there was still snow and ice on the trail.
Randy chose to do that because it is easier to walk over ice and snow that it is to walk this exceedingly muddy trail in the summer, especially after it rains.
We made short work of the brief section for trail from the Renews lighthouse to the settlement itself. Renews has some serious history that features includes pirates, shipwrecks, secret midnight meetings and even a resupply visit from the Mayflower en route to Plymouth Rock.
Renews is where we met Gerard, who owns one of the first houses that you come to as you enter the settlement of Renews. As we were walking by he came out of the house and asked us if we needed anything. I was keen to check out the situation and asked for fresh water- the streams here produce light brown water. After filling our vessels, Gerard asked if we’d like him to make us a breakfast. Of course we said, “Yes!” In no time we were seated at an ancient formica table graced with plates of eggs, toast, and hot tea. Gerard showed us around his house, where several of the tiny bedrooms were either in original or close to original condition. The road walk through Renews to the start of the trail to Cappahayden is 3 miles long. Our host provided us a ride across the road walk, with a little tour of the notable places thrown in to boot.
Renews is part of what is known as the Irish Loop. The Irish Loop website notes that, “Since 1500’s the migratory fishery attracted Europeans to fish off the of the Avalon Peninsula. Beginning in the early 1800’s, large numbers of Irish began settling year round and caused the regions demographics to be changed forever. By the mid 1800’s, unlike other parts of Newfoundland, the overwhelming number of settlers in The Irish Loop were Roman Catholic and of Irish descent. In almost 400 hundred years of permanent settlement, the people of the Irish Loop have endured countless marine tragedies that include hundreds of shipwrecks off their shores.”
Few Americans understand just how close Newfoundland is to Ireland, with Dublin just 2,000 air miles away.
After Gerard took us on his tour, he joined us to hike the segment from Renews to Bear Cove, which meets Highway 10. He planned to hitch back to his car, and we’d continue to hike the last 6 miles to the end of the trail at Cappahayden.
Gerard was an excellent ornithologist. He spotted several interesting birds that he let us view through his binoculars.
It was also very encouraging to meet up with a large trail crew who were working their way north from the end of the trail in Cappahayden.
They were on assignment to keep moving until the snow got in the way of their work. The crew here had corded power tools that were juiced with small Honda generators. Big drills and Sawzalls helped ! I maintain a section of the Appalachian Trail back in Maine on Bigelow Mountain. I lump a chainsaw and hand tools, but these folks have much more to do in dealing with these extensive bogs and mud pits.
Eventually we made it to Cappahayden, which might have been the littlest settlement of all. There are no places to buy food, or pulling a signal for a cell phone here. We were fortunate to have reserved lodging through John Nidd, who encouraged us to resupply when we were passing through in Aquaforte and to tell the cashier to hold our resupply for him to pick up on his way back from St. John’s. He planned to bring it to the mobile home and have it there for us whenever we arrived.
There is not much to do in Cappahayden, but there is some history that defines the place.
“Just south of Cappahayden is the site of the tragic sinking of the SS Florizel. SS Florizel, a passenger liner, was the flagship of the Bowring Brothers’ Red Cross Line of steamships and one of the first ships in the world specifically designed to navigate icy waters. During her last voyage, from St. John’s to Halifax and on to New York City, she sank after striking a reef at Horn Head Point, Cape Race near Cappahayden, with the loss of 94 people.”- Wikipedia
Our lodging for the night in Cappahayden was in an empty mobile home right facing the ocean. There was a photo of the Florizel on the wall on the mobile home. The impact of such a tiny community dealing in February with the aftermath of 94 bodies to be brought to shore must have cast a pall on life here that extends to today. That legacy of tragedy is framed by a vastness of blue ocean of that held bounty, fear, and glory as it has for thousands of years.
We started walking today at 10:15. it took that long for the heavy rain that fell during the night to taper off in the morning and our host Dave to drive us back to Aquaforte.
After just 10 minutes we were completely drenched. Water from the rain clung to all of the foliage in front of us as we left the highway at Route 10. I used my trekking poles to whack the overhead branches in front of in order to throw the rain off before I brushed up against them. In addition to the rain on the foliage last night’s rainstorm topped off the levels of the copious black pools of muck that we slither and slide around multiple times an hour.
Bad Influence was excited to stop to take drone footage through and around the massive stone arch at Berry Head. He had the great big sea as the backdrop for some spectacular video, complete with thunderous ocean soundtrack. Just as he was filming the last portion at the arch the tiny Mavic Pro drone hit the wall and crashed into the deep. BI was lucky enough to have already transferred data from his previous drone recordings on to two SD cards. The portion of the footage around the arch was also preserved on the iPhone that served as the drone’s control and software module.
We continued to make good mileage and decent use of our time as we slogged through the wettest and muddiest section of the East Coast Trail so far. It was also section where the views were often obscured by the thick forest that flanked the ups, downs, and twist-arounds that characterized today’s track.
The section heading South from Fermuse interested me, due to the abandoned community that we experienced I was able to locate old foundations, piles of rock established by humans, and level areas at the edge scrubby forests that were important for sanity in the sloping terrain. There were numerous steep climbs today, as well as extended periods of walking through muck. I gave up the thought of dry feet earlier, and unless the nature and depth of a nasty mud hole was ascertained, I would walk on the sides of the mud pool and lean my body away from the foliage with the support of my trekking poles. BI sunk in up to mid-calf twice today. Best to have him up front, eh?
We walked late today. I didn’t want to and neither did BI. The issue was a lack of even one tent site that was level and not sopping wet. It went on and on. It was getting darker a bit. I was ready to stop, eat, and sleep in rapid fire execution. I loaded up 2 quarts of the brownish groundwater and expected to walk all the way to the Bear Cove Point lighthouse. BI liked the looks of a couple of trees just after the stream. He’s hanging in a hammock this trip, so he cares less about what’s on the ground under his comfy bedroll. I didn’t have a decent pick. I ended up needing most of the East Coast Trail track in order to accommodate my tent’s footprint. The stars out tonight were astounding, as I was swatting away mosquitoes.
In the next couple of days I am simultaneously prepping for two events.
I present this coming Sunday at the 41st Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s biennial Conference “Views from the Maine Woods,” which runs August 4-11 at Colby College in Waterville.
Here’s my Sunday, August 6 workshop description: Why Walking Matters: Benefits of Walking and Improvisational Skills in Long-Distance Hiking. Tom Jamrog, Triple Crown thru-hiker, author, and Maine Guide with Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures. From the ages of 57 to 63, “Uncle Tom” thru-hiked four National Scenic Trails. Tom reviews the latest research on the physical and mental health benefits of walking, and discusses pre-hike training and mental practices that can bolster an aging hiker’s continued success on the trail.
Two days later, I fly out of Boston to St. John’s to attempt a 185 mile thru-hike of Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail.
Foot care will be a priority activity that I’ll discuss in my workshop and that I’ve been applying on as I approach this rugged hike. I’ll tell the audience that I’ve been walking barefoot as much as possible in the past week in order to toughen up my feet. I have also been applying rubbing alcohol to the soles of my feet toes and heels, a technique I picked up years ago from Colin Fletcher,’s The Complete Walker IV book, formerly described as “The Hikers Bible” when it came out in 2002. Alcohol cleans, dries, and toughens the skin. Addition to the alcohol, I use an artificial pumice block to buff up callous areas in my forefoot, toes, and heel.
I’ll be backpacking in thin wool socks from Darn Tough and my broken-in New Balance boots, a combination that has resulted in blister-free freedom over the past 5000 miles of hiking. Roomy footwear is best.
Right now, I’ve signing off to work on my updated Powerpoint for the Colby ATC talk.
Today, I ate my usual eggs and toast Sunday morning breakfast that precedes my regular “Bubba Church” mountain bike ride with my aging off-road posse. On early morning Sundays, I read the digital version of the NY Times and catch up on the news, fake or not. I didn’t find much of interest today, so instead I clicked on my Instagram feed where I download media to read later at my leisure. Instapaper is my own custom newspaper.
I don’t ever listen to podcasts when I eat breakfast, but today I am pleased that I did. I listened to Texas Parks and Wildlife Podcast’s Epidode 13: Hiking Across Texas. It is short, only 12 minutes long, but it spoke deeply to me today. It’s a refreshing interview with Dave Roberts, 72 years old. Dave is currently on a 3,000-mile “ramble” across Texas, weaving through at least 40 national parks.
I remember reading about Dave a year and a half ago, and dug up the following article about Dave, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who has found his unique retirement groove- long distance walking, biking, and kayaking. Dave’s on a $20-a-day budget for this Texas adventure, but more importantly appears to have exactly the right attitude to keep on doing what he enjoys best- being outdoors and having varied experiences.
As Dave puts it, ” If everything does according to plans, you are not having an adventure yet.”
Do listen via the podcast link above, and if you like what you hear, read the Jan. 2016 Times feature below, to learn more about Dave and other retirees who have stood up to leave the couch for later.
With half of 2017 gone, there are six months of adventures still available for the rest of year. Here’s what’s on my plate right now:
Finish up writing my first book!
I have completed the writing and the editing process for In The Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail.
My CDT Trailjournal has logged 275,000 web visits to date. The book is completely revised version of my 2013 Trailjournal, adding new historical material and dialogue. I’ve scheduled a design meeting with the publisher tomorrow to discuss selecting the color photos for the book. I plan for 30 pages of photos, and have been going through thousands of them in the past two months. We’ll be discussing fonts, graphics, and map placements. Copies of the manuscript are already out for final checks as well as possible endorsements. If all goes as planned, the book should be out by Sept. 1. It will be carried on Amazon, and will go into a Kindle version as well. Stay tuned!
Complete my recovery from my May 22 accident while descending the Bigelow range.
I’m 95% through rehab on a torn hamstring and severely bruised back. Riding my mountain bike is better for me than hiking now. I have to take care not to overextend the range of the hamstring.
Prepare for my Aug.6 presentation at THE 41st APPALACHIAN TRAIL CONSERVANCY CONFERENCE– AUGUST 4 – 11, 2017 AT COLBY COLLEGE | WATERVILLE, MAINE
I’ll be giving a Sunday morning presentation (W0613)- Why Walking Matters: Benefits of Walking/ Improvisational Skills in Long-Distance Hiking.
“Tom Jamrog, Triple Crown thru-hiker, author, and Maine Guide with Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures. From the ages of 57 to 63, “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 mental techniques that can bolster an aging hiker’s continued success on the trail.”
Hike a new trail in Newfoundland. -Private Trip- August 8-25
Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail is “One of National Geographic’s Ten Best Adventure Destinations in the World”
From the East Coast trail Association’s web site:
The East Coast Trail unites 26 wilderness paths, along 108 miles of North America’s easternmost coastline. The paths of the East Coast Trail take you past towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, deep fjords, and a natural wave-driven geyser called the Spout. Experience abandoned settlements, lighthouses, ecological reserves, seabird colonies, whales, icebergs, the world’s southernmost caribou herd, historic sites, a 50-metre suspension bridge, two active archaeological dig sites, and many more attractions.
Guide a trip of The Whole Hundred ! (Abol Bridge->>Monson)
September 1-10— SOLD OUT
Maine’s Hundred-Mile Wilderness is a huge, largely uninhabited region, beginning on the outskirts of Monson, ME. Many thru-hikers consider Maine the best part of the whole 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. The Hundred Mile Wilderness appears on many hiker’s Bucket List. This southbound trip will take place over 9 nights and 10 hiking days, allowing for ample time to settle into a comfortable schedule. We will take advantage of a mid-point resupply service, so that we will not need to carry food for the whole 10 days. This trip is suitable for a hiker who is able to carry 30 pounds on a 10 mile average per day. We’ll stay in lean-tos, and/or tents, space permitting.
Price Includes: -Ground transportation from Lincolnville ME, mid-point resupply cost (you provide the food, etc.) packing list, and on-trail skills instruction. Meal assistance is available by arrangement.
-Up to 2 hours of pre-trip preparation consultation (via phone) is provided to participants. Group size is limited to 4.
19th Annual Winter Camping Symposium-Oct 26 -29, 2017. YMCA Camp Miller, 89382 E Frontage Rd, Sturgeon Lake, M.
23rd Snow Walkers Rendezvous -November 10-12, 2017 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont.
Includes presentations, workshops, information about wilderness trips and amazing food! Participants may choose to stay in cabins, tents or commute to the event. I hope to offer a new presentation: Winter Fat Tire Biking/Camping in new Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
I’m sitting here on a dreary, gonna-be-hot-and-humid Saturday morning and deciding whether to hike or bike a bit this morning.
It is exactly half way into the 2017 calendar year. I’m just been through a month of recovery from a bad fall I took on May 22 coming down off the Bigelow ridge after clearing downed trees and cutting back brush trail on the Appalachian Trail. I had built up a bit of a cushion since Jan.1 just in case I experienced any setbacks (like a torn/strained hamstring and bashed up back). Those of you who follow this blog know that I am a huge fan of setting goals, be it for fitness, or for scheduling upcoming trips that help me to spend time outside, and get me moving through the countryside.
I use the Strava (Premium version) App to track my progress for the year, with my overall efforts looking satisfactory. I’m on track for a year of 1,000 miles biking and another 1,000 miles of walking. So far, I’ve broken 18 personal records while engaged in 156 activities that have taken me 241 hours to complete.
Breaking it down, I’ve done a bit better with biking than walking, with 516 miles logged:
My walking/hiking is just a shade behind, at 489 miles, just 11 miles short of my half way mark of 500 miles.
So, I’ll I head out for a walk now instead of a ride. If I put in a couple of hours, I should succeed in adding 6 miles or so. I am fortunate that I can leave my house and walk in relative peace and quiet. I’m done with the gym. I live where it is easy for me to walk or ride out my door. I plan to keep it that way.
Bottom line: Strava goal setting helps, choosing activities that your enjoy to do for exercise helps even more, and staying in contact with other folks that like to bike and/or hike is an additional lifestyle choice that promotes fitness in an natural and enjoyable manner.