Endurance, Activity, Exertion: How Much ?

For the past several months I have been concerned that I have been pushing myself too hard and/or too long on my mountain bike rides. I’m 68. I started to become concerned when a younger guy I was riding with stopped for a rest after a tough climb that spiked both our heart rates.
He told me, “I ‘m going to rest a bit longer, my heart rate is way up, close to 155 [beats per minute]”.
Upon reaching the top of that hill my pulse was 168.
My realization at that moment was, “Wait, if this guy is concerned that he might need more rest, should I be?”

Thomaston Town Forest

When I’m out on trail, I often wear a chest strap heart rate monitor that is linked to my iPhone. My resting pulse rate ranges from 48 to 54 bpm. While I also wear a Fitbit on my wrist, it reads inaccurately at higher levels of exertion. I do use Fitbit to track steps and miles covered while biking or hiking.

Here’s a typical profile, obtained from some of the metrics that Strava offers to those of us wearing chest straps, etc.

Nov. 4, 2018 data from 25 mile ride in Acadia

I discussed these concerns with my doctor at my annual physical, who suggested that I consult with a cardiologist. My physician is a great doctor who admits to having no expertise as to fitness/aging heart rates. I asked around and got the name of a cardiologist in Portland who was reported to have experience in this area.
My MD made the referral and I eventually received a call fro the cardiologist’s secretary. She blocked me from seeing him, stating that the physician was an electro cardiologist who specializes in determining where an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) is coming from. Doctors consult with him in determining if the patient needs medicine or procedures like a pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, cardiac ablation, or other surgeries. Consultations for my issue was not an efficient use of his time.
So, my doctor found me a different cardiologist that was able to see me right away. After reviewing my chart and administering an EKG, that physician told me that whatever I was doing should be continued, and that if anything, he’s recommend a low dose statin to reduce my LDL a bit. He buffered that recommendation due to my strong HDL level.

My 8/31/18 lipid panel results:

I recently reviewed discussion about LDL levels and statin usage in Medscape. Several articles appeared to challenge the recommendations that have essentially placed practically all aging male in the category of risk for heart attack that leads to statin prescriptions.

Here a study that perked my interest-Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review
“Our review provides the first comprehensive analysis of the literature about the association between LDL-C and mortality in the elderly. Since the main goal of prevention of disease is prolongation of life, all-cause mortality is the most important outcome, and is also the most easily defined outcome and least subject to bias. The cholesterol hypothesis predicts that LDL-C will be associated with increased all-cause and CV mortality. Our review has shown either a lack of an association or an inverse association between LDL-C and both all-cause and CV mortality. The cholesterol hypothesis seems to be in conflict with most of Bradford Hill’s criteria for causation, because of its lack of consistency, biological gradient and coherence. Our review provides the basis for more research about the cause of atherosclerosis and CVD and also for a re-evaluation of the guidelines for cardiovascular prevention, in particular because the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated.” https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/6/e010401

A recent vision exam lead to further tests that were very useful to me in broadening my own investigation about my particular needs and risks. I have fairly good eyes, or I thought I did until my latest yearly check up with an ophthalmologist. My trusted ophthalmologist had retired this year, so I went with an individual who moved from New Jersey who took up the practice. His initial examination reveled some structural concerns in the posterior region of one of my eyes that suggested concerns about the connection to the optic nerve. He was concerned that I might be experiencing the initial stages of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye, and is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60.
Four additional tests were ordered, one of which was a 30 minute carotid artery ultrasound scan of both sides of my neck, which displayed the results as live-action images on a monitor. The carotid ultrasound showed some age-related plaque but no significant narrowing. My doctor reported this as essentially a normal result and didn’t recommend any further follow-up. The other tests also ended up with normal results, ruling out glaucoma for the time being.

Bottom line: I plan to continue to keep up with my normal routine of 75-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily of hiking or off-road biking. I plan to continue to use 3 minutes of daily heart rate variability monitoring to gauge my state of recovery and adjust the day’s physical activity accordingly. There is a lot to be said about advocating for one’s self in the medical sphere these days, with a number of studies out there that lead to conflicting recommendations.

Book Review: The Man Who Walked Backwards

The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer's Search for Meaning in the Great DepressionThe Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer’s Search for Meaning in the Great Depression by Ben Montgomery

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben Mongomery’s new book was a must read for me. He’s the author of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, a book that I rated as my #1 read in 2014. Mongomery was a finalist for the Pulitizer Prize in 2010. I’m a long distance backpacker, and I relish stories about long adventures powered by foot.

The book is about Plennie Wingo, who was crushed economically by the Great Depression of 1929. With no jobs available to him, and with a wife and daughter to support, Wingo came up with a crazy idea- walking around the world. When he realized that someone had follow up on that stunt, he really got creative and decided to walk it backwards. Through practice, determination, and a pair of glasses that had side mirrors on them that allowed him to periscope what was behind him, Wingo managed to get himself up to 3 m.p.h.

Wingo eventually made it across all the USA ( in two separate trips), but was stopped short in Europe, after he left Hamburg and found himself jailed in Instanbul.

The book depicts life in the USA after the Great Depression, where a quarter still bought a lot. yet a dollar was hard to find . Wingo struggled more than expected in getting through the USA, where he was stopped numerous times by the police who told him it was illegal to walk backwards. He was no stranger to jails, or to con men who put forth the veneer of wealth and friendship to extract what meager funds he did beg up through wearing advertising signs and selling 25 cent postcards of his walk. Many folks also did help him, offering beds, meals, and even some cash surprises.

I thought I ordered a copy of his book through my local library, but I received the 8CD audiobook instead. I have a ” new” used car and had never even considered playing an audiobook through the stereo. I recommend this audiobook. It is unabridged, and very well read, included lively dialogue aided by differing voice patterns by the reader. A bonus CD has 17 pages of maps and photos that brought the book to life.

The book is a great reminder, along with Mongomery’s excellent Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, that major adventures are available to evereryman and everywoman. Taking that first step out of the door is the hardest thing anyone can do, and after that, you build up a momentum that who knows what can happen!

View all my reviews

Consider joining the Millerite Hike (revisited) coming up– Monday: Oct. 22, 2018

I received this announcement from Rosy Geary, and plan to be there for this most interesting hike.   I’ve done the hike before and was stunned by the  whole deal.

Here’s my 2015 bog post from my first experience re-enacting the path up to the Millerite ledges in Camden Hills State Park

Well it’s that time of year again, Yes, the annual hike up to the Millerite Cliffs!

It all begins this coming Monday morning Oct. 22nd 7:00 AM meet at upper end of Maiden’s cliff road off Youngtown Road.

We been doing this for twenty five years plus to commemorate the yearly anniversary of the Great Disappointment of Oct 22, 1844

Come see cellar holes, old roads, and great early morning views.

Hear a summary of what happen on that strange day!

Enjoy meeting new people from all around the area, good exercise, and stories!

It’ takes about an hour to go up and your on your own coming down, no climbing or ropes, just hiking!

Wear good clothing, (dress for conditions)

Good hiking shoes



Tic repellent

stay as long as you like,… dogs welcome on leash only,… for safety!

 No sign up list, just show up around 6:45AM

For more info Contact:



This has turned out to be a rain or shine event come prepared!


Donnell Pond, reserved and picturesque

Check out this excellent report from Josh Christie;  Worth the Trip: Donnell Pond, reserved and picturesque – Portland Press Herald

Donnell Pond photo from bluewatersgreenforests.wordpress.com

I’ll be pulling my blue cedar/canvas canoe out of storage for a couple nights’ camping next weekend to exploring at one of Maine’s Public Reserved Lands.  There are a few hikes here, covered adequately in Carey Kish’s  AMC’s Best Day Hikes along the Maine Coast: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails From the Maine Beaches to Downeast.

I have not canoed for two years, with my last effort in Baxter State Park.   My friend Ivan and I canoed directly north, straight across Katahdin Lake to reach the Twin Ponds Trail.

Heading out cross Katahdin Lake (2016 photo)

My right shoulder is worn out, even after two surgeries, with an overdue shoulder replacement somewhere on the horizon.  However, it’s been good lately, possibly the result of bi-weekly physical therapy sessions for the past several months.  I decided to take a chance, altering our padding itinerary with backup hikes around Donnell Pond in lieu of a 15 mile paddle exploring the perimeter of the Pond. 

I really enjoy canoeing in the fall, where you can take plenty of gear and food.  Most of the time I am content with my 15 pound of base weight in my backpack. I may take my new Seekoutside tipi on this trip, and maybe even a camp chair to lounge around in.

February 2018- Blackwoods CG, Acadia NP

My New Book is Free For 3 days!

I’m launching my digital version of my new book with an “offer you can’t refuse” .

In the Path of Young Bulls is free on Amazon Kindle from Friday, August 17th, through Sunday, August 19th!   After that it will be available as a Kindle download  for $3.99.

Just click here:  In the path of Young Bulls:  An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail to download it to your Kindle device, iPhone, or tablet once you install the free Kindle app.

I hope that you will enjoy the book, which is into its second printing already!   I’d really appreciate it if your would post an Amazon review, even a brief  one.

Thanks to all my supporters over the past several years !


Great Adventurers – a Reading List via Alastair Humphreys

via Great Adventurers – a Reading List – Alastair Humphreys

I’m on a roll with outdoor reading this summer.  Since January I have been reading at least an hour a day.  I’ve racked up 33 books so far.  Here’s my updated 2018 list:  Goodreads Challenge .

Today I’m posting a different sort of reading list, with a decidedly British emphasis, brought to us by one of my favorite authors, Alistair Humphreys, author of a unique book called Microadventures. 

There’s adventure reading gold to be mined here for sure, so consider Aistair’s list.  There isn’t much time left for summer reading, although winter is coming!

Several of these titles are at my local library, and I plan to pick up this one today:

screenshot 27.pngAre there any really good outdoor adventure books that you can recommend as well?