Uncle Tom’s Adventures Looks at 2018

Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures slides into the first week of a frozen, record cold 2018.

Cold at Camp

Within a week of record breaking cold, the thermometer never got above zero for a couple of days.

I am still nursing my right shoulder after a fall I had off my fat tire back in The Bog on Dec. 9. I think I can get back on the saddle in a couple of days, when the winter’s course appears to turn another rough weather corner.  Right now there is a two foot thick snow cover on the open fields .

Heading home, sinking.

It’s been so cold that the snow hasn’t really compressed or refrozen, even on the snowmobile trails that have had a bit of traffic on them. Some winter riders have reported great conditions, but others have floundered a bit in the softer stretches.   That should all change in a couple of days. The forecast is for it to warm up to 50 degrees in two days and the rain from 4 AM on Friday until 4PM on Saturday when the melted mess will freeze solid when temperature tanks again into single numbers. Sheesh!

I just spent my first 2018 night out at camp.

Hobbs Pond camp

The place was a mess and needed tending. Last week I trailered over a used gas cook stove and a couple hundred linear feet of used pressure treated boards that will help upgrade the setting here. I  parked the trailer in front of the camp and left it.   I just managed to beat the latest snowstorm, with my shoveling and hacking a path for Maritime Energy to install the propane tank and gas cook stove. The moving dolly was still inside as the strewn about contents of the tiny kitchen, which had to be moved into the rest of the camp in order to haul the old electric range out and the gas unit in.  So, with Marcia still in Florida basking in the sun of Vero Beach this week, I put the Tempwood stove to use and got the camp up to a comfortable temperature for the night.

Main room w/ Tempwood on right

I must admit that split dry oak chunks seal the heat deal. With such a tiny camp, a couple of hours of attention puts things back into order. It feels good to get away and live lean, even if it is just for part of a day.

This week, I will likely sell out the few copies I have left from the first printing of my new book, “In the Path of Young Bulls”.

Front and center

I am lining up the second printing.  My wife Marcia uncovered several typos in the first press run. I made those minor changes as well as a text alteration to improve the ending. I plan to run a couple of “incentives” to launch sales of the next press run in 2018.

In the meantime, I continue to learn about heart rate variability as a training aid, because rest appears as important as activity in maintaining fitness.

I am also continuing my research into genetic testing and its application to training and fitness. I have just sent off a saliva sample to 23andme.com . I already have received genetic results from FitnessGenes.com and am very interested in seeing similarities and possible difference in those sets of results.

I am checking out info on the micro biome : —>>”No Gut, No Glory: Scientists are calling the human micro-biome the forgotten organ.

-OutsideOnilne.com

And their discoveries about the trillions of bacteria living inside us may revolutionize how we think about diet, performance, and endurance. So in the name of citizen science, we subjected ourselves and seven elite athletes—including skier Cody Townsend—to microbial analysis, with eye-opening results.” —David Ferry, in Outside Magazine January/February 2018

I am also interested in drawing when I am outdoors. I received some sketchbooks, watercolors, and writing tools as Xmas presents.

I plan to head down to Florida in late January to camp out with my friend Edward for a week.

In February, I plan to spend several nights of winter camping at Blackwoods campground  in Acadia, testing out a new tent and custom titanium wood stove to heat it.  I hope I can get some pals to come along.  February will also feature me attending a Kimchi workshop with Hanji Chan and her mother, Sammai Choi, who will walk us through how to make authentic Korean Kimchi, the famous fermented cabbage dish served with all Korean meals.

The first weekend in March is set up for winter camping at Camden Hills State Park. I also plan to return to some winter activities in the Katahdin Woods and waters National Monument in March.  Here’s winter fat biking that happened there last March.

I have signed up for a mushroom identification class at Camden Hills High School with David L. Spahr in May. David is the author of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada: A Photographic Guidebook to Finding and Using Key Species.

I’m not sure what my commercial backpacking schedule will be for the 2018 season. The 2017 schedule was a bust for me. Marcia and I had to cancel our June Denali trip due to illness. I also had to cancel a full 100 Mile Wilderness Trip that was scheduled for early September , due to a sudden decline in the functioning of my 91 year old mother Isabel. She had exhausted the family in caring for her while I was off in Newfoundland on a two week thru hike in late August. No longer able to live in the home where she has spent the past 85 years, I stepped off the plane from Newfoundland in Boston to spend a week with her in her house. I then packed her up and moved her to Maine, but not for long.

Activity goals in 2018:
– via Strava: 1,000 miles on the bike, and another 1,000 miles of hiking.
– To read 35 books in 2018.
– Write outline and draft of new book.
-Post at least 2 blog entries/week in 2018

Let’s get going,  let’s get out there.

Will Record Cold Spell Kill Deer Tics ?

Yikes!

It was -4 at the house at 5am this morning. Walking up the icy, snow crusted driveway to get my morning Bangor Daily News I gazed up at the billions of stars in the black winter sky and gave thanks to the firewood, Bio-bricks, nut coal, and bags of scrap boards from the Maine State Prison’s craft showroom that are stacked in my porch ready to heat our house today.

This unseasonable deep freeze is not totally unwelcome to me. I’ve actually slept out in far colder temps.  I am in the hopes that a week of single to subzero cold, plus the north wind that chills it even further, will kill off ticks.

I remember reading that a period of prolonged subzero temps kills deer tics, the variety that are associated with Lyme disease here in Maine.  Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.

Bangor Daily News reporter Aislin Sarnacki researched this situation back in 2014 in her column entitled : Experts say cold winter likely won’t kill Maine’s ticks.

The takeaway is that subzero cold kills them, but the fact that the ground is now covered by an 12″ thick insulating layer of snow  allows them to borrow deeper into the leaf cover and survive only to be back to plague us again  in 2018.

I’m planning on buying a fresh can of repellent for the New Year.  As a tick repellent, permethrin wins hands down.  That plus more daily checks fills out my New Year’s resolution.  I was diagnosed with Lyme two years ago, and was also the victim of a hidden fat deer tic this past fall that resulted in another round of antibiotics.  We’re not going to win here, folks.  Tics have existed for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth.  We have to work it out with them. 

Best Books – 2017 !

I’m a goal fanatic. One of my 2017 goals was to read more actual books rather than click bait and  fake news.

Goodreads helped me reach my goal of 25 books read in 2017 ( I ended up reading 37) . Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.  Some folks balked when Amazon snapped it up, but I still enjoy using it for cataloguing books that I have read, and books that I plan to read. 

Goodreads is also useful for book promotions by authors, and since my first book came out in October, I have learned  lot about selling and promoting books.

I have a renewed respect for local bookstores.  My Christmas gifts this year were books for family and friends that I purchased at local bookstores. The discounts that authors offer local outlets to present our books are less than the 50% discount we are forced to take at national chains, including the big A.  Please support local bookstores!   

 I am also learning about  the marketing outlets that are available via social media.  For example, I recently had a Goodreads Giveaway where I offered three free copies of my new book, In the Path Of Young Bulls.  The Giveaway ran for a week.  457 Goodreads readers entered the “drawing”, resulting in 457 “Want to Read”  results for me. I gave a way three Christmas presents for people that I hope will offer me reviews, hopefully positive!

Here are the best books that I have read, or even re-read, this calendar year, including a few comments about the books themselves:

I own both editions of this excellent gear guide.  The Second version is the one to get, with additional material.  Between editions, Skurka started up a guiding business. This book reflects the changes in gear recommendations that Skurka offers that were based on not just his own preferences but those of many hundreds of hikers that were on those trips.  I bought a new set of carbon fiber trekking poles based on his tips. The book also contains many useful planning lists. Skurka coined the term ” stupid light”,  which describes the pitfalls of excessively reducing the items in your pack, as well as the durability of those choices.  This is a seasoned backpackers best thoughts about gear.

 

Snorkel, AKA Liz Thomas, writes with authority here.   She’s a relatively young Triple Crown Award hiker,  writes for Backpacker magazine, and conducts online training for thru-hiker hopefuls. From her excellent blog:  “Former women’s speed record holder for the AT and veteran of twenty long trails, gives you the tools to make this dream a reality. Included is trail-proven advice on selecting gear, stocking resupplies, and planning your budget and schedule, complete with gorgeous photographs of life on the trail. Along the way, enjoy sneak peeks into not only the Triple Crown trails, but also lesser-known long trails throughout North America.  She’s also a graduate of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and is currently Vice President of the American Long Distance Hiking Association West.   The book’s writing is excellent and contains strong photos, and is filled with up to date gear recommendations.  With this book and Skurka’s Gear Guide i hand you can’t go wrong on any post-Holiday sales.

 

I really enjoy growing  much of my own food as I can here in the shorter season that we have in Maine.  That means Asian greens, onions, cole crops, carrots, and certain pepper varieties.  I’m increasingly interested in fermented preservation of these foods.  This book helped me turn the corner on not only kimchis of various types, but stir fry combos that are quick and tasty.  I absolutely love the comic book format of the book, which makes the cooking even easier when you can see the steps in the process.  Cartooning cookbooks work really well!

 

Maine’s Bernd Heinrich co-wrote this book.  He’s one of the strongest naturalist beacons in the universe, with a Polish pedigree that includes world records for ultramarathon running. All the illustrations in the book were created by Heinrich.  This is a book you are asked to write in, with 5 full years of blank pages at the end to list daily calendar events of animal, weather, and plant activity that one observes in the natural world .  I have found it  useful it on hikes and bike rides. It has assisted me in seeing more of what is out there.  For example, one of the things that I want to do in the next month is discover a barred owl nest in the woods near my house.  Plus, I have already learned that beech trees favor well-drained southern slops in this area of the country and guess what?  It’s true !

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease is a book that I was exposed to as a Book on Tape, or rather on CDs.  I read it as a book this year, and gleaned much in terms of evolutionary biology.  It’s a gem of a book, and points the way to understanding how our primal tendencies are mismatched to our current modern society.  It also offers suggestions as to how to reconcile the dilemma. Readers of my blog will be pleased to know that brisk walking or 75-90 minutes a day paired with eating from the approach that Robin Ha’s presents in her cartoon cookbook noted above are parts of the solution.

 

improv wisdom changed my approach to long distance hiking.  I read this book for the third time .  I should commit it to memory.  Long distance hiking is about walking smart, rather than pushing  through pain and misery, although there is going to be plenty of that when you are dealing with the quirks of nature and the human body.

 

This book led me to explore the science behind  heart rate variability, which has been my daily three minute recording practice for the past three years.  I favor the Sweetbeat App. Heart rate variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats.  Heart Rate Variability is well researched and provides a quick and easy assessment of the Autonomic Nervous System function.It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.   Greater Heart Rate Variability (a higher HRV score) at rest is generally indicative of better health, a younger biological age, and better aerobic fitness. Heart Rate Variability is affected by everything from your mindset, to air quality, to age, food choices and exercise patterns.  I use it to determine how much energy I have available each day to devote to specific workouts, as well as to let me know when I need a rest day.   A strap is placed around the chest that monitors three minutes of heartbeats, measuring the intervals between each heartbeat.

 

Ms. Proulx authored The Shipping News, one of the best American novels ever about Newfoundland, Canada. In 1993 it won both the Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. National Book Award. It was adapted as a film of the same name, released in 2001.  Her new book is historical fiction about the logging industry, starting off  along the banks of the St. Laurence River in Canada. Barkskins spans the years 1693 to 2013 in Canada, America and New Zealand.  Barkskins opens when two Frenchmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive as indentured servants. The novel traces the lives of these two men and their descendants including the inter-marriages with the local natives.  I would strongly suggest printing out the two family history charts from the book as well as having a map of maritime Canada and New England by your side as you move through the 700 page plus book.  I feel the book was too long. I loved the first half of this book but lost interest as the centuries unfolded and the action moved away from my geographical connection to the story.

 

I recommend this book.  I still have a earlier popular work on the man- Black Elk Speaks on my bookshelf.  That book was eagerly read by many of us counter-cultural types back in the 1960’s.  It is the bestselling book of all time about an American Indian.  It presented Native American spiritualism as a contrast to modern-day capitalistic excess and the military-industrial complex.   This book is research-based, with some critics reeling with the minutiae of detail contained within .   He participated in a minor role at the Battle of Little Big Horn, was present at the death of his cousin Crazy Horse, and was fully involved in the notorious 1889-1890s events at Wounded Knee.

 

Wow!  I put off reading this book too long.   The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World contains recent research that I have not seen anywhere, yet.  Wohlleben is a German forester who manages a forest in the Eifel Mountains and has uniquely perceived aspects of his beloved trees, animals and mushrooms that ally with them,  and dangers that threaten their survival. 

 

 

 

Improvising Through Simplifying

For the last 3 days, our house has been without electricity, due to an October 30th storm that downed power lines all over the state of Maine.

Just down the way on High Street
I heard that the owner just bought this truck last week.

We’re back into a simpler life style – out to camp.

Hobbs Pond

Its in Hope, one town over, and just 9 miles from our house. Heck, if we lack anything here, it is no problem to stop by the house and get it tomorrow, or even right now!

At its peak, some 494,000 customers were without electricity, surpassing the number of households that were cold and dark in the Great Ice Storm of 1998. Over 300 power crews are still at it. Back in 1998, it was almost two weeks before our power was restored.
I bought a small 3500 watt Honda generator right after that, and while it helps with lights and keeping the refrigerator and chest freezer going, we can’t use the well pump, electric hot water heater, or our kitchen stove freely and have to improvise and shuttle usage to keep things together. It was stressful, but it gets us through the times when we lose power.

A number of our aging neighbors have taken up the final solution and have installed mega-watt propane-fueled generators that automatically fire up when the grid fails. That route allows one to run the whole house without compromise. That’s out of my league.

On the other hand, it is no problem for me to get fresh drinking water at the house. We’re blessed with a shallow well, serviced by a pump and water tank in the basement. Unfortunately, the well pump overwhelms the generator and trips the circuit when I try to get it to run. Yesterday, I lifted the well cover, tied a bucket onto a galvanized pail and threw it down into the well, and drew out as much water as we needed to flush the toilet, wash up, and drink water. What is making this all possible is that it has been unseasonably warm, to the point of zero killing frost outside.
With no freeze, we still have water at our Hobbs Pond camp, which we draw from the spring fed pond by another shallow well pump.

There is power here! The camp’s power was restored at 5:15 PM, the night the storm passed through. We have the outhouse out back and the 380 square footprint of this little (now insulated) camp makes it easy to heat with a wood stove.

Camp – main room.

There is no cell reception at this location, however we have a land phone line and now internet here as well.

Life is good. Embracing improvisation helps once again, and so does the fact that both Marcia and I have each spent months, and even years living outdoors, hiking through the countryside, and living out of the few items that we carry on our backs. At our little camp, we have more than ancient kings could ever dream of.

Goods from the Woods 2017, Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 12:00-5:00 PM

I’m scheduled to do some unique hiking this afternoon, with my guide, and brother-in-law, Gene, who has been to all six previous years of this event.

Gene tells me that, “Cash buys tickets, tickets get exchanged for beer that goes into your souvenir glass. They set up taps all around the small pond on their property… they may have up to ten different kinds of beer – all their own – available. They’ll be live music (free) and a bunch of food trucks and vendors (pay as you eat). In previous years they’ve set up a long plywood wall on the far side of the pond and let a half-dozen graffiti artists from Portland loose on it. Quite cool to watch – lots of talent.  And somewhere in the woods will be one or more hidden kegs – find ’em and you can pour a free beer! Goods *IN* The Woods. WOODS-toberfest!

Priming up Strava, to track mileage for this outdoor adventure!

From Oxbow Brewing:

Our annual farmhouse celebration is back for the 7th time. Goods from the Woods 2017 will feature plenty of Oxbow beer, great food, music, art… and so much more. This year’s ticket price includes entrance to the party, a branded GFTW glass, your first beer, plus 2 very special bottles of Oxbow beer to take home! Tickets are limited and are guaranteed to sell out so please buy yours now!This event is rain or shine.

SOLD OUT

Source: Goods from the Woods 2017 Tickets, Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

In praise of Bernd Heinrich

I tuned into Maine Pubic Broadcasting’s Maine Calling show yesterday at 1 pm in order to listen to Bernd Henirich discuss his newest book (he’s published 20), The Naturalist’s Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You.

Listeners and/or readers should check out this 5 minute Vimeo that shows Bernd living in a tiny primitive camp, running and cimbing scary high trees in  Maine.  I have watched this brief video at least a dozen times over the past few years and continue to be ovewrhelmed with tears every time I revisit it.  It just happened again.

I’m headed outside to explore the woods.

Preparing for Long Distance Hiking

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.

East Coast Trail website
East Coast Trail- Newfoundland

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.

IMG_2933I’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.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there?

First Time Inside Maine’s National Monument

This past Columbus Day weekend, I finally set foot on the spanking new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.   It was easy.

To the Monument!
To the Monument!

I followed a marked, signed 1.8 mile trail from Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps on the (Map Adventures) Katahdin/Baxter State Park map.   I was spending the four day weekend at Windy Pitch cabin at the most excellent Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps (KLWC), which is presently into year 7 of their 20 year lease from Baxter State Park.

Windy Pitch cabin
Windy Pitch cabin

The collection of log cabins goes way back to 1885.

The Monument encompasses 87,500-acres of mountains, rivers, and forests abutting the eastern edge of Baxter State Park, land donated by Roxanne Quimby, whose company, Bert’s Bees, sold to Clorox for $925,000,000 in 2007. Through President Obama’s executive action, the unit was added to the National Park Service in September as a national monument, bypassing the need for Congress to authorize it a national park.

Despite media portrayal of this Monument as an unfair land grab by the Feds, it’s 87,000 acres represents less than 1 percent of the total forested lands of Maine.  According to the North Maine Woods website, there are 3.5 million acres that are considered North Maine Woods. That’s a whopping 0.236% of those privately held lands.
The move to make the land public was a long, protracted battle that is still being waged by a local faction that strongly resists any government encroachment on their traditional uses of the land, be it hunting, snowmobiling, or riding ATVs . There are still prominent National Park-NO! signs greeting the approaching tourist who exits I-95 in Medway to reach the Monument. Unless the citizens of Millinocket decide to upgrade unimproved gravel roads leading out of town into the area, this won’t be much of an issue for them, because both the South and Northern entrances to KLWWMN completely avoid traffic into Millinocket or even East Millinocket.

I stopped into the new storefront office of KWWNM on Maine Street, Millinocket, just a few doors down from one of my favorite eating establishments, The Appalachian Trail Cafe.  The ranger there informed me that entrance, lean-tos, campsites, and even some cabins are free right now on a first-come, first-serve basis but campfire permits are still required from the Maine Forest Service (207-435-7963).

Downeast Magazine has an excellent review on the Monument that is full of  tips, pictures, and places to go.

In my case, I was pleased to finally walk it, although it was a brief visit.  Make no mistake about it, these is not 87,000 acres of pristine forest. This lower portion of the Monument is made up of recently cut-over land and it still shows.  Critics point this out, but my review of Governor Baxter’ initial purchases of what is now Baxter State Park was largely made up of land that had been burned or denuded. Here’s an example of Baxter land pre Baxter State Park.

Logging in present Baxter lands previous to State Park
Logging in present Baxter lands previous to State Park

Pretty bleak, I’d say.  Regrowth will also happen here, but it may take 50 years or more. I have walked thousands of miles of trails in the past 10 years, and cut over and/ or burned forests show up, but then they tend to grow back to be enjoyed by future generations.  Same here.

fullsizerender-10
Ivan  heading out of Katahdin Lake

Today, my hiking partner Ivan and I decided to walk up as far as the first new lean-to and then meander our way back to KLWC. There were exactly 9 cars sitting in the parking lot leading from the gravel Loop Road.  Others were in there, on overnights, or day trips. The lean-to was a mile from where the Baxter side trail came into the Monument. The path was still a logging road, and damn straight as well.

Southern End of the IAT into Monument
Southern End of the IAT into Monument

The lean-to was built in 2012, of standard log construction with a new outhouse nearby. There was water flowing close for drinking ( purify!).

Katahdin Brook lean-to
Katahdin Brook lean-to

We sat and ate lunch and then headed back.

We decided to try and walk back one of the old logging roads that went in just below Rocky Pond, east of the outlet of Katahdin Lake.  The road looked relatively new, and was probably upgraded ten years ago for timber. A half mile in, it dead ended. I fired up my GPS and saw that if we went directly south through the woods, it would take a quarter of a mile to intersect he mid-point of the same trail we took from KL camps to get to the Monument.

Bushwhacking it is!
Bushwhacking it is!

Ivan was totally up for it and led the way, bushwhacking through fairly thin saplings and dodging several unruly blow downs.

It didn’t take very long for us to reach the KL trail back to the camps.  In fact, we came out within 50 feet of the northernmost section of that trail, a very fortuitous happening. I have done a bit of bushwhacking, where results are generally more elusive.

I plan to get further into the Monument, for canoeing and backpacking. I might even pack my fly rod.  I hope to get away for a couple nights during deer hunting season here in November, as the largest western parcel bordering Baxter is free from hunting. Four additional parcels east of the East Branch are established for traditional hunting ( minus bait and dogs on bear).

I have enjoyed walking most of the trails in Maine’s Acadia National Park, which is just 90 minutes drive along the Maine Coast from my house.  I think it is time for me to explore my share of the Maine woods.

Columbus Day Weekend at Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps, 2016 version

Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps

It’s October 7th, 2016 and 70° outside, sunny, with blue skies that are clear of clouds, mosquitoes, and even the pesky black flies. Down in the Southeast USA 1.5 million people are presently evacuating Florida and the Carolinas, expecting significant damage from the latest hurricane.  I’m safely settled here with my wife, Marcia, with our friends Ivan and Lynn for what is now our second collective Columbus Day weekend in Baxter’s Katahdin Lake.

view

Katahdin Lake Camps boasts a continuous lineage of supporting the outdoor woods and waters enthusiast dating back to 1885. Check out Aislinn Sarnacki’s comprehensive 2013 trip report of her visit to WLWC.

cabin
Hilyard’s Cabin – typical lodging at KLWC

A couple of updates to Aislinn’s report are that there is no plan to keep the Camps open this particular winter season, and that the charge for a single person to spend the night (without prepared meals) at the Camps is up from $35 to $45, still a great deal.

You can’t drive here.

min
Marcia trekking in

You have to hike 3.3 miles from the parking area on Baxter’s Roaring Brook Road or fly in via a float plane, typically serviced by Katahdin Air, where the price is $75 per person, one way.

plane

 

There are 11 miles of new trails that can be hiked in into and around Katahdin Lake, with the longest walk reaching Twin Ponds,-a day hike from the WLWC.

Last year, Ivan and I shortened the hike to reach Twin Ponds by canoeing directly north, straight across Katahdin Lake where we picked up the Twin Ponds Trail right beside a Baxter State Park Lean-to.

canoe
Canoeing across in 2015

 

There are two other lean-tos in this part of the Park that can be reserved through the BSP office:  Martin Ponds and South Katahdin Lake lean-tos.

leanto
North Katahdin Lake Lean-to

If you are unlucky enough to have a windy day that makes a canoe traverse too dangerous, then the option to visit Twin Ponds on foot from KLWC is to walk the Martin Ponds Trail out to join the North Katahdin Lake Trail, which ends at the North side of KL, where you pick up the 3.4 mile Twin Ponds trail. It’s a long day on foot- 14.4 miles out and back. While the grade is relatively easy around the Lake, there are sections of hummocky ups and downs, and places where plenty of rocks and boulders have you slowing down and picking your footpath.

Marcia and I decided to pack in most our own food for our three night stay, with the exception of signing on for a Saturday night dinner and Sunday morning breakfast in the main dining room.  Prices are moderate: $25 for complete dinner, and $15 for a big full camp breakfast.  There is no running water or electricity in the ancient log cabins.  Your refrigerator is a chest cooler with a block of ice inside, and the water is drinkable, in a 5 gallon container, from a spring fed source.  Three propane lanterns lit up our Windy Pitch long cabin at night, and cooking is on a propane 4 burner stove top.  Marcia and I were up and down in a corner bunk bed, with Ivan and Lynn sharing a double bed diagonally across the single room. On the coldest night, we cranked up the wood stove to warm the place up before we settled into sleep.

The weather was perfect for Ivan and I to take a 7.7 mile round trip hike to the northern end of Katahdin Lake on our first full day here.

headout
Ivan walking along Katahdin Lake

Lynn and Marcia chose to explore, and draw landscapes and natural details along the inlet at the SW corner of the Lake.

The only trail left for me to explore around Katahdin Lake was the final 1.8 mile length from KLWC to the eastern edge of BSP, where the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument share that boundary.

1-8

That will be tomorrow’s adventure.  Stay tuned.

Backpacking Davis Pond to Hamlin Peak in Baxter State Park

Looking up from Davis PondThere was a time earlier today when I just wanted to quit hiking uphill and retreat the 7 miles downhill to Wassataquoik lean-to number two where where we’re scheduled to hole up for the night.  Just a half hour into today’s hike, I was cold, wet and had no desire to ascend the 2000 feet from Davis Pond all the way up to Katahdin’s Hamlin Peak (4756’) in thick clouds with the air temperatures in the high 30s and strong clearing winds blowing out of the West.

Up to Hamlin Peak from  Davis Pond
Up to Hamlin Peak from Davis Pond

There would be nothing to see but the inside of a freezing cloud.

My boots were still cold and totally soaked from walking.  Lingering 40° wet coated the foliage that protruded into the trail. When I brushed against the leaves,  cold water eventually saturated my shorts and ran down my legs into my boots and socks. My feet are wimpy when it comes to dealing with cold. My hands also suffer when the temps drop.
Just before I was going to split off from Guthook and Hans to retreat, cumulus clouds started forming, blue patches opened up in the sky, and was clear that the rain and dark clouds going to be history.

Hamlin is one of the three 4,000 foot Baxter State Park mountains that are on the New England 4,000 foot peaks list.

Guthook front, Hamlin Peak rear
Guthook front, Hamlin Peak rear

The other two are Katahdin, at five thousand two hundred and sixty eight feet and North Brother, at 4151 feet.  While on top, we encountered only one other peak bagger trudging toward Hamlin Peak.

Today turned out to be a very good time to be on top of this mountain. Despite my hands being too cold to function, I was able to get my body heat up by jogging the flat expanse to and from Hamlin Peak.

Me in front, Hans and Hamlin in back
Me in front, Hans and Hamlin in back

Patches of ice were fund on top of rocks that dominated this landscape.

Ice, meet Hans !
Ice, meet Hans !

The views today were expansive, with views stretching to Canada on one side, and nothing but trees and lakes stretching 40 to 50 miles in all directions.

At the end of this twelve mile backpacking day, I was most pleased to have made the choice to keep going when it became painful to do so.  The shelter of this lean-to along the Wassataquoik Stream nearby was a sort of homecoming.  Approaching this lean-to, I  begin to embrace the sense of completing a day well spent in the wilderness.

Wassataquoik LT#2
Wassataquoik LT#2