Hiking Tip: Careful with that ibuprofen, Eugene !

I’m putting out a short series of hiker tips, given the eventual melting of snow outside my window that will eventual lead to starting up again backpacking season once again. People have started thru hiking the Appalachian Trail in droves already, starting in Georgia and moving north, here to Maine.

One practice that they best avoid is the tendency to treat ibuprofen like a cough drop, and ingest it on a daily basis, sometimes for months at a time. In fact, ibuprofen is jokingly referred to in hiker circles as “Vitamin I”.

At one time, twenty years ago, I was taking 600- 800 mg every four hours, on a daily basis. I was experiencing severe pain in my right shoulder, suffering from chronic shoulder impingement, a nasty constellation of tendinitis, bursitis, and arthritis. I eventually succumbed to surgery, after my sleep became increasingly interrupted. What led to my decision to do the surgery was the advice of the shoulder specialist, who told me that I was using ibuprofen in a manner that could lead to heart problems and increase my risk of stroke or heart attack. Given my family history, I listened to him. I may still have pain where I have to take 600 mg/ 4 hours for a day or two, but then that’s it.

Learning to appropriately address pain is sometimes part of the hiking game. Pain is a signal that let’s the body know that something may need to change, and not always eradicated.

Now, there are additional concerns expressed about ibuprofen, especially if your heart is not that healthy to start with.

Ask your doctor about your use of ibuprofen, and check out the link below to today’s editorial in the Bangor Daily News. it’s short, but the takeaway in the past line sums it up pretty well:

“What you don’t know can hurt you.”

Doctor Patent

Do you take an ibuprofen every day? Tell your doctor. It could save you. — Opinion — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

Death of Young Woman on Mount Washington

“The single-minded determination that drives people to climb mountains in the first place is the same quality that can doom them.”-Boston Globe

Not Without Peril  just picked up another sorry story. 51NcBENHihL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ That book is fascinating read that chronicles he over 100 deaths that have occurred on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

I highly recommend that outdoor travelers read, The Young Woman and The Mountain,  a recent Boston Globe article. <<–

It’s a story we’ve read before, smart people doing dumb things in the wilderness.  This one is a bit surprising, in that Kate Matrosova was the ultimate professional: super smart, driven,  able to think ahead, make adaptations, and have a back up plan in place.  But this death was not a freak occurrence, it was avoidable.   Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., the temperature at the summit of Washington was 21 degrees below zero. The wind was blowing 77 miles per hour, and the wind chill was -67.  That evening, gusts were recorded that were up to 140 miles per hour.

Facebook photo

Facebook photo

Yes, she had the right gear, had done these types of winter traverses before, carried a Spot, and had a plan.  But, this time,  it all didn’t work out, and now life is over for her, and also partly for her husband, who was waiting for her in their car for the last time, ever.

In addition to inexperience, the second major contribution to her death was her not knowing that there is a major drawback to choosing a  Spot location device in the depths of real winter. Who knew this?

Spot gen3

Spot gen3

I didn’t, but I do now.

Required reading. 







Having fun with the Dark Sky weather app

I have a new weather app on my iPhone-Dark Sky

I first heard about it on a music blog that I subscribe to- Bob Lefsetz’s blog.  Here’s his own introduction to Dark Sky.  This is an interesting read in itself.

Dark Sky is highly interesting.

We’ve had almost daily snowstorms in Maine in February, totaling over 4 feet of accumulated powder since Jan. 29.  For this last storm, Dark Sky was the only weather program initially forecasting snow on Sunday ( yesterday)-  we got a total of 5 “ here.

I’m not aware of any announcements like this on other weather apps:  “Snow starting in 14 minutes ,” and even more amazing is that it actually comes true-most of the time.  I want to be outside every day.  I now plan my bike rides and hikes around Dark Sky.  If there’s a break in the weather, I get an announcement about it.

Her a good example:



No only does DK let me know how much snow is going to fall today, it’s telling me when and how much at differing times during the day.

The maps are stunning.  You toggle back and forth between precipitation and temperature. Here’s a screenshot of the temp today.

Cold coming this week

Cold coming this week

What you don’t get with this pic is that it’s a video clip with the actual movement of these large radar progressions pulsating for the upcoming week.

It’s a heck of a snowy sub zero ride this week in Maine, but I’m digging charting it with Dark Sky.

The bad news for some folks is that it’s only available for the iPhone-sorry, no Android.

[Disclosure: I paid the $3.99 ]

Forests for Maine’s Future – Fresh from the Woods Journal – Wood: an enduring energy source

The sometimes mesmerizing look of a fire blazing in a wood stove. (Photo: The Rankin File)

The sometimes mesmerizing look of a fire blazing in a wood stove. (Photo: The Rankin File)

Forests for Maine’s Future – Fresh from the Woods Journal – Wood: an enduring energy source.

I have my energy source at hand, and plan to keep it that way.  Small house, highly insulated, southern exposure, and 5 acre plot of land, mostly wooded.  I’m good with wood.

Good read here- it’s surprising how few garner the most accessible fuel there is- “As late as 1940, 53 percent of Maine homes were heated with wood, according to U.S. Census data. By 1970 that had dropped to 2 percent. After the oil price shocks of the 1970s it shot up to 15 percent. By 2000 it had dipped to 6.4 percent and in 2009 stood at 8.7 percent.”

“Trust Me: In These Parts, Hot Dogs Actually Repel Bears.” | Outdoor Skills | OutsideOnline.com

I should write a book, after my sorry episodes following “outdoor misinformation” while backpacking across 22 States.

Now that I am one of those actual Maine Guides that tend to dress in plaid wool jackets (as of Nov. 2014) , I see this from a different angle.

It’s true- I no longer publicize some outdoor places that I love best ( because there are times when there are too many people for me to stay there), but it’s also true that I share this info with people who I feel need to know it.

Reposting this article from Outside, written by Ian Frasier.

Here–>>“Trust Me: In These Parts, Hot Dogs Actually Repel Bears.”.

YouTube: Four Dog Stove Talks with Uncle Tom at Winter Camping Symposium 2014

Four Dog Stove | Talk with Tom Jamrog | Winter Camping Symposium 2014 – YouTube.

In October I went to Minnesota as the Keynote Speaker for the Winter Camping Symposium.  My presentation was entitled Adapting Winter Skills to Survive Snow Conditions on the PCT and CDT.  I also assisted with sales and answering gear-related and technical questions at Four Dog Stove‘s vendor booth during the weekend. I appreciate the sponsorship given to me by Don Kivelus during my two most recent thru-hikes: The Pacific Crest Trail (2010), and in 2013, the Continental Divide Trail.

In this brief video, Don and I discuss our mutual upbringing in farm families, the lack of spontaneous outdoor play in many communities, and my impressions about a most enjoyable weekend and meeting new friends while learning skills and techniques for enjoying the outdoors in all seasons.

Healthy Body, Unhealthy Mind

I don’t care much for New Year’s resolutions.  I prefer making my own resolutions throughout the year, whenever I’m inspired to do so.   I also have not read any Pico Iyer since completing his groundbreaking 1989 Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-so-Far East.

Iyer’s stunner article made me change my mind.  It won’t take you long to read it, but I suggest that you so so.  –>>Healthy Body, Unhealthy Mind – NYTimes.com.

 Patrick Kyle image from New York Times

Patrick Kyle image from New York Times

I’m now going to try to read at least 30 books this coming year, along with 360 hours of combined walking, backpacking, and bicycling. I also updated to Strava Premium where I plan to rig up the heart rate monitor (yet again).

The slant of Iyer’s article is to redirect your cosmic magnifying glass on your own mental fitness. I am a true believer, and back that up by practicing Transcendental Meditation for one hour a day, as I have since 1970.

I shot over to Pico Iyer’s highly beautiful and inviting blog, and look forward to spending a number of  hours checking out what Mr. Iyer been up to since we last broke internal ranks.

On thing for sure, I will be launching into his latest book tonight, “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere.”.  I just zapped it onto my Kindle.

What a world we live in!

Fitness is all around us-  we even get to stumble back onto that path, whenever our resolutions take form.