This morning’s I- Ching reading:
–>>My book is free to all via Kindle download from right now until 3/29. <<–
This 256-page book chronicles my 5-month long continuous hike over the Rockies on the Continental Divide Trail that I survived in 2013. Includes 50 full-color photos.
Folks are cooped up and libraries are closed. If you are hikertrash who is gravely disappointed that you can’t put together a thru-hike due to Covid-19, parts of this book will make you glad that you weren’t out there with me. Happy Birthday (its mine today!) to you.
Thanks to all the readers who have bought and continue to buy the print version which just reached my third printing.
Feel free to pass this offer on. It expires on 3/29.
Trail Days 2020 has been 19cancelled due to COVID-| via Tri-Cities News & Weather
— Read on www.google.com/amp/s/www.wjhl.com/local-coronavirus-coverage/trail-days-2020-cancelled-due-to-covid-19/amp/
It’s an event that I had scheduled, but now that’s gone too.
I addition to being out of work, and unpaid for at least 6 weeks I just lost my hopes of taking a week off in May to head down to Damascus, Virginia and work in the Atlas Guides booth, sell some books, and give a presentation to the public at Trail Days 2020. I planned to go down several days early to hike 100 miles os so on the AT into the event. I had a room reserved and it was going to be great. In he past 30,000 or more hikers are in attendance. While I agree with the decision to cancel, I’m sad, and further weighed down by the enormity of this world-wide phase transition that we all experiencing.
In the meantime, I plan to get in as much hiking here in Maine as I am able each day, taking breaks for our isolated home-bound lives and seeing this through.
Gyms are closed here and so are yoga studios. The coronavirus is forcing all of us to alter our habits.
I was a faithful client at my local gym for over 40 years until September of 2013. I had just returned from five months of continuous backpacking over the Rocky Mountains where I completed a through hike of the Continental Divide Trail.
I walked back into the PenBay YMCA where I had still had membership. I hopped onto the treadmill, pushed the incline button to full and proceeded to walk a 4 mile an hour pace for 45 minutes. I worked up a decent sweat, talked to a few of the regulars as usual, showered and never came back. I missed moving outdoors. It didn’t feel right to get in my car, drive 15 minutes to a crowded parking lot, and endure the humid stuffy atmosphere. That was my last day at the gym.
Be careful what you wish for. Spending extended time in the wilderness has many befefits but also some drawbacks.
My time in the natural world spoiled me.
If I forgoed the gym, was my option? How about heading out my door to explore the numerous local snowmobile paths and bike trails that I had traveled on since building my house here in 1978?
There are also 30 miles of miles of excellent and often challenging terrain at Camden Hills State PaRk , a gem that’s partly located in Lincolnville, where I live. I can bike or walk there from here.
Since then, I’ve maintained a weight loss of 15 pounds over my normal body weight as I’ve successfully been able to keep up a year round hiking and biking routine.
Consider walking right now.
Why not bag that doorstep mile today?
I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right wrist yesterday. I hoped to wait until May to have it done but the numbness, burning, and overall discomfort was severe enough that I scheduled it sooner. I’ve never regretted any of my previous surgeries, as every one of them improved my functioning.
I’m advised to back off normal use of my right hand for at least two weeks when the stitches come out. I consult the I-Ching more lately. Today’s hexagram put my approach to surgery and healing into crystal clear perspective. Here’s a copy from today’s notes about what I learned from today’s reading: it has to do with reacting to situations where “obstructions have been cleared out”, which would be an auspicious match for carpal tunnel surgery!
At least there isn’t much snow left to shovel, driveway and walkway ice to chip, firewood to bring in, or even biking in the woods right now due to increasingly bright sunlight, moderating of below-freezing temperatures, and deep oozy mud as the upper crust of frozen water and crystallized snow melts out.
I recorded one of the lowest of my daily Heart Rate Variability readings from the past four years this morning. Anesthesia plus physical trauma calls for parasympathetic recovery mode in all of us.
On the agenda for this coming recovery week will be organizing and preparing tax records, and preparing for the two 30 minute workshops I’m giving at Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport, Maine on Sat. March 16.
My first topic will be “ The Lure of Long-Distance Adventures” where I’ll present some biographical info on noteworthy endurance backpackers connected to Maine and introduce some of my favorite longer hikes in New England and the Maritimes.
I’ll also be exploding the current contents of my 17 pound backpack (without food or water) for all to see in “What’s In a Thru-Hiker’s Pack and Why”. It could just as easily be subtitled Or Why No Spare Underwear!
In the meantime, I can fire up Strava and add in several hikes after Daylight Savings time is adjusted once again tomorrow, as the clocks Spring Ahead an hour!
Since LLBean tightened up their warranty policy a couple of years ago I’m leaning toward Patagonia. Both stores are now exactly across the street from each other on Maine Street in Freeport, Maine. I do appreciate LLBean’s support for Maine Guides through their discount purchase program but their warranty change has dinged my relationship with LLBean.
Here’s the present LLBean Warranty
“We stand behind all our products and are confident that they will perform as designed. If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”
“We guarantee everything we make. If you are not satisfied with one of our products at the time you receive it, or if one of our products does not perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store you bought it from or to Patagonia for a repair, replacement or refund.”
In Aril of 2018, Patagonia went a little further:
“If your item needs a more serious fix, our store is able to facilitate the repair process by sending your gear to Patagonia’s repair center in Reno, Nevada.”
In practice, LLBean has also become more hard-ass.
I used to buy everything outdoors-related from LLBean. I make it a practice to keep my packaging material as well as my receipts. I made my most recent trip to the LLBean Customer service desk when my bicycle floor pump failed. The pump was three years old. The customer service representative initially declined to replace the Blackburn pump ( which has their own original lifetime warranty on the packaging material) , and when I protested that I bought the pump under the previous longstanding warrantee policy, she called a supervisor over.
The supervisor also declined to replace the bike pump, telling me that bike floor pumps don’t last thee years. I told him that can’t be true, since I still have a hand pump in my garage that my father bought and heavily used for our farm implement tires for decades. It still works. Then the supervisor started working the computer by reviewing my previous LLBean purchase history.
I’ve spent a small fortune on LLBean in the past fifty years, so I got a deal. He allowed for a replacement pump as a one time only concession to my good faith in past purchases, but made it clear that I’d get no more “breaks” in the future.
Enter Patagonia’s over-the-top repair policy:
“At Patagonia, we work hard to make high–quality, responsibly sourced clothing that lasts for years and can be repaired—and we guarantee it for life. We operate the largest garment repair facility in North America (we’ll do more than 40,000 individual repairs this year) and we’ve trained our retail staff to handle the simple repair jobs (which total thousands more).”
To review Patagonia’s reasons for this position go here .
I’ve been pleased with the last three Patagonia repairs on two of my jackets and one pair of wind tights.
Today I had little hope for a repair on my original Patagonia fleece pullover. It has four snaps on the neck closure rather than a zipper. The plastic snaps were so badly worn they no longer held. When I showed the jacket to the salesperson, he said that it could definitely be fixed, and that there was a strong chance that it could be done in-store, while I waited.
It got even better when I was asked what color snaps I’d like on my pullover. I picked orange!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked this book up because I thru hiked the Continental Divide Trail and also wrote ( “In the Path of Young Bulls”) about my own experiences on the mind blowing adventure.
I could not put Brian’s story down and read it in one day. Brian Cornell authored a well written account of his 2018 thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. He’s divided the book into five major sections reflecting each the Rocky Mountain States, with each of state night lighting five 24-to-48 hour periods with their own subheadings that reflecting topics that interest the hiker. Brian’s ability to sincerely reflect on his experiences adds further insight into what one wears, thinks about, and eats as the 20 mile and plus days add up in his northbound five month long adventure.
While I gave the book five stars some of his information is not entirely accurate. For example, when he finds himself caught in a thunderstorm on an open field Brian erroneously take cover in a grove of trees, unaware that standing near a tall tree puts one at risk to be struck by lightning passing from a tall tree into the ground one where one stands. His practice of daily ibuprofen washed down with bleach purified water isn’t something I’d do.
But the practices that Brian shares with the prospective hiker more than out weigh the few times he makes questionable actions, and aren’t mistakes the open door to adopting new more positive habits ? Brian’s choices become strong links in the chain of positive habits that he incorporates into his evolving responses to the unique challenges that he faced as he struggled to eventually successfully complete his amazing hike.
Today’s Bangor Daily News features an excellent column by Aislinn Sarnacki about where to snowshoe in Maine.
Her first suggestion is the most important one- Can You Park At The Trailhead?
I do AT trail clearing on both Bigelow and Mt. Abram and both of those trailhead points are snowed in right now and will be into spring when the mud dries out. Specific trail heads that are very popular in the summer and fall are only reached with additional snowshoeing mileage right now, some of it considerable. Ask somebody. Alternatives are to check social media ( i.e. Maine Hiking on FB) where these type of questions are posted and answered, although you definitely can’t be sure if specific information is current or accurate. Allison is spot on that it is best to contact a specific trail maintainer, and/or land trust or park ranger.
Navigation skills are essential, especially when snow depths obscure painted blazes and the hiker encounters unspoiled whiteness ahead. Certain temp/wind/and snow conditions also coat blazes, making it impossible to view the trail.
GPS and phones fail due to weak batteries, a real problem with smart phones in the deep cold. One additional point I’d add to Aislinn’s suggestions is to carry a old school compass in your day pack, which should be contain winter day hike essentials.
I add my Garmin Explorer InReach + to my winter day hiking pack as well. With the inReach’s satellite technology and a satellite subscription ( $12/month) , I can send and receive messages, navigate my route, track and share my hike and, if necessary, trigger an SOS to get help from a 24/7 global emergency response coordination center via the 100% global Iridium satellite network.
Alison’s is 100% right on that one needs to know basic navigational skills in the winter. I was engaged in a solo winter late afternoon hike a few years ago in Camden Hills State Park where I was the first person to break a snow trail on the Sky Blue Trail off the Cameron Mtn. end. We had a huge dump of snow and most of the blue blazes were obscured. I was foolish and didn’t check the batteries in my headlamp before I left, and my phone’s light waned in the shorter winter light. (Aislinn’s tip #8 applies here). I couldn’t find the trail after getting 3/4 of the way out in the dark. Luckily the moon came out and I knew it came up in in the east. I applied the navigational skill of handrailing, where one establishes an entry point into the wilderness on the map and memorizes features like roads, trails, highways, or rivers in each of the cardinal directions. I ended up bushwhacking east, where I knew I would eventually reach the Multipurpose Trail that transects the State Park. Once I reached that well traveled path, I followed it two miles back to the car.
So, good luck out there snowshoeing this season. Hike prepared, hike smart, and do read Aislinn’s excellent tips for staying safe and enjoying yourself out there.
I really enjoyed this unique book. Published in Berlin and printed in Italy in 2019, this book was written, richly illustrated, and photographed by the Netherlands hiker, Tim Voors. I picked it up in a bookstore in Maine, lured in by the striking black and white photo of Voors on the front. It’s a cut above the usual hiking memoir, due to the hardbound cover, and also the graphic content: multiple double-page panoramic color photos, professionally illustrated maps, and colored drawings. I’m increasingly intrigued by the use of hand drawn renditions of trail location that accompany text reports….
Continue to whole review here: The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail by Tim Voors