Happy Birthday to Me

I boss myself and set my own work schedule so I celebrate my birthday with a solo hike or ride. With all the snow around and the temperatures below freezing at dawn, I chose to ride Camden Hills State Park this year. Refrozen snow is good. Thawing snow isn’t, for biking that is.

Whenever I go out on a hike or ride, I hope to notice something interesting. Today it was connecting shade and north slope conditions with good solid track to ride upon.

The Camden Hill State Park is a 10 minute drive away.

Heading Up

I started up the mile long climb on fairly packed surface- many folks walk this section, some with their dogs, and it shows.

Eventually I reached the left tun for Bald Rock Mountain, a 1,000 prominence that overlooks the Atlantic.

It has been deep enough with snow that snowmobiles have gone to the top yesterday. None up there today. I am trying to make the full 5 miles on this Multipurpose Trail and then turn around and come back. I am racing sunshine, which has the capacity to soften the surface of the trail and cause my 5” tires to sink in and wallow.

In the next mile, the Multipurpose Road flattens out and is bordered by hemlocks and spruce trees that not only shade the surface from the sun, but hold the cold overnight. Grip is better here.

Soon I encounter the right tun for the Summer Bypass Trail, left untouched all winter. You can see that entrance right above the top of my front tire.

At the 2.5 mile mark I reach the Ski Shelter, empty this morning.

I will enter on my way back and drink water and eat a snack.

Still pushing to preserve firm snow.

From this point to the Route 1 side of the Park, there is much less foot traffic , with a clean snowmobile track from a rider who probably came through here last night or early this AM.

I stopped just at the water tower, turned around, and came back, deciding to take a left up the Cameron Mountain Trail, a decision which was aided by fresh snowmobile tracks and two sets of foot prints going that way.

Cameron Mountain is at the very edge of the State Park. The snowmobile track swoops around the summit and then twists and descends through private property when it eventually crosses Youngstown Road and heads for Lincolnville Center. The down hill is steep and fast, but my Ice Cream Truck embraces the wobble and delivers.

I decide to continue on the snowmobile trail rather than ride the pavement of Youngtown Road back to the car. I discover a huge hay field where I thought that I had lost the trail, but then I saw a tiny red trail sign far across the center of the field.

Winding my way down toward the village, I encountered an active logging operation that I was able to ride through with little difficulty.

After more than two hours of pedaling, I decided to get a breakfast sandwich and a coffee at Drake’s corner store where I took this distorted selfie in the window.

My car was still three miles away. I do not like riding on Rt. 173, due to the narrow road and inattentive drivers, so I decided to gamble on the abandoned section of Thurlow Road being tracked in.

After dodging thinly iced-over water at the start, I encountered unbroken soft snow as far as I could see. I decided to walk the bike through. I was tiring, with my heart rate spiking to 155 beats per minute through the snow. Soon I encountered a little maple sugaring operation half way through service via a couple of ATV ruts that assisted me getting back to better track.

A sort while later I was back on pavement, where I took a left on Youngtown Rd. and had a leisurely couple of miles on pavement back to my car and home. Today was a great start to my next season of exploring my local trails.

L.L. Bean’s Lifetime Returns Policy gone, while Patagonia Seeks to Stitch Up Rips

The news broke this weekend.

“In a letter to customers Friday, the Freeport-based outerwear giant said it would no longer honor a lifetime replacement guarantee that had become an integral part of its reputation. Instead, it will only replace items that are returned within 12 months, and for which customers can provide proof of purchase. After a year, it will replace items that have defects, on a case-by-case basis.”- via L.L. Bean’s Legendary Return Policy Has Ended – Boston Magazine

The returns policy change follows discouraging news from last week that LLBean is laying off 10 percent of its 5,000 employees and implementing other belt-tightening  procedures.  The measures, announced last February, started Jan. 1, with the aim of reducing its workforce by 500 full-time people.

In 2017,  Maine’s fifth largest employer took a political hit when one of the heirs and board member, Linda Bean, came under investigation by the Federal Election Commission for political donations that she made to the pro–Donald Trump organization Making America Great Again.

Unfortunately, Linda Bean’s support for Donald Trump backfired when President Trump Tweeted her up:

screenshot 7“Trump’s message landed with the subtlety of a hand grenade. Suddenly, the brand had been hijacked, those tote bags now symbols of political partisanship. In an anti-Trump frenzy, longtime customers cut up their L.L. Bean credit cards, returned orders, and pledged allegiance on Facebook to competitors Patagonia and REI.”-via Boston Magazine ( 2/21/2017).

At the same time that yesterday’s LLBean news arrived in my computer’s in-box, I received a pleasant surprise in my  rural mailbox- a package from Patagonia that contained my 10 year old pair of tights with a sticker and a thank you note.

IMG_7269
Sticker

A Thank You note was also included, which read, in part:

“Thank you for fixing your gear. As consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer, thereby reducing the need to buy more.  Thank you for sending your gear into us for repair and for being loyal to the threads that have carried you of mountains and maybe even been passed down through generations. If you’d like to share your Worn Wear story or learn how to fix your own gear, visit: patagonia.com/wornwear

I was pleasantly surprised at the level of service I obtained on my repair.  I originally brought the tights back to the Patagonia Outlet (Freeport, Maine) where I bought them to see if they would repair a short leg zipper that allowed the tights to be put on and off while wearing shoes.  The salesperson volunteered to send the garment into Patagonia in Reno, Nevada, where they would assess the damages and determine if the garment was able to be fixed.

Not only did they put in a brand new zipper, they repaired an assorted 12 holes/tears that had accumulated over 10 years of year round use.

IMG_7277

I have always been a lifelong customer of LLBean, and have only used their return policy in a reasonable manner.  I decry the abuses that the returns sales agents have had to endure, but I regret they have dropped the lifetime return for those of us who don’t abuse it.

L.L. Bean’s foundation policy is strongly linked to its brand , so it remains to be seen whether this change will assist in improving the last two years of LLBean’s flat sales.

 

 

 

 

Blue Hill Library presents THRU-HIKING THE CDT (CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL )

TOM JAMROG – – THRU-HIKING THE CDT (CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL )

FEBRUARY 1 @ 6:30 PM-  8:00 PM

Tom Jamrog will present on Thursday, February 1 at 6:30 PM on his 5 months of experiences on the CDT, one of the toughest long distance hikes in the world.

The 2,500 mile National Scenic Trail is now 70% completed.  It starts at the Mexico border and travels along the spine of the Rockies as it winds through New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Montana into Canada.  The presentation  will draw on images and stories from his newly released book:  In the Path of Young Bulls:  An Odyssey Along America’s Continental Divide Trail.

Blue Hill Books will assist with book sales at the event.

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. 

 

 

 

What I learned from David Pelly

I plan to devote several blog posts to presentations from the 2017 Snowalkers Rendezvous in Fairlee, VT. The quality of the presentations is top notch, with several giants of northern adventuring in the line up.   Here is the first:

David Pelly- “How Inuit Find Their Way – Navigation in the Trackless Arctic”

David Pelly at Snowalkers 2017

David’s talk was drawn from an article that he published in 2001 in ABOVE & BEYOND magazine -January/February 2001. Here’s the link to this highly interesting article

Canadians were well represented at this year’s SnowWalkers Rendezvous.
David presented leadoff slides of traditional Inuit tattoos. In 1982 David moved to Baker Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada, where David eventually learned to speak Unuit.
As examples of superior navigational abilities, David shared with us observations about the uncanny ability of a native named Tulurialik to discern from thousands of small piles of snow out on the tundra one that held a fox trap. David shared with us another story about traveling with Tulurialik on a snowmobile in complete white-out conditions where Tulurialik reoriented a snowmobile’s direction after recognizing a tiny protruding rock as a feature he remembered from passing through the area previously.
Possessing superior visual acuity, the Unuit subsistence hunter’s observations were fundamental to their survival. Men were raised as hunters and were usually taught by their grandfathers. They studied cloud masses and colors, indicating the location of distant land masses. Snow ridges reflect wind directions that offer clues to direction of travel on snowmobiles. Directions for wilderness travel as long as 200 miles are commonly transmitted orally, without maps. Mapping in the Inuit way is extremely sparse compared to the expanded view of modern maps. Descriptive place names and stories are techniques that increase the memory of a path of travel. Proportions do not matter- what matters are the indications of water borders (bodies of water).
As part of the presentation, David displayed a hand-drawn inuit map with minimal lines that looked nothing like I had ever seen.
“ I could actually do a whole half hour talk about this hand drawn simple map,” he said.

David’s talk was bittersweet, as things for the Unuit have dramatically changed for this culture, even in the past 15 years. I encourage the reader to check out the charitable foundation headed by David Pelly in the memory of his 20 year old adopted Inuit son, Ayalik, who had died unexpectedly in his sleep. Money from the foundation supports sending Unuit youth from Nunavut on extended outdoor adventures throughout North America.
www.AyalikFund.ca

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.

Snowalkers Rendezvous 2017 ! 

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.

http://www.wildernesstravellers.org/Pages/Snowwalkers.html

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

Make Your Own Multi-fuel Backpacking Stove

Only 4 days left to register.

Make your own multi-fuel backpacking stove!

Have fun making a lightweight stove that you can use on day hikes and on backpacking trips. Created from metal cans and fasteners, these downdraft stoves efficiently burn wood, liquid fuel (alcohol), and solid fuel tablets. Each participant will be assisted in drilling, cutting, and fastening component parts to make their own stove, plus receive instruction in lighting and tending the stove. Class size is limited. Registration $20, plus $10 for materials to be paid to the instructor. 1 night 6:00-8:30 p.m. Class Tues 10/17 CHRHS Rm 112.- Instructor Tom Jamrog lives in Lincolnville.  Tom has been awarded the Triple Crown of Backpacking for having completed thru-hikes of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails.

Register here or at Camden Hills Regional High School  at 25 Keelson Drive,  Rockport, ME04856

Email adulted@fivetowns.net or call  236-7800 ext 3274