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.
Today, I ate my usual eggs and toast Sunday morning breakfast that precedes my regular “Bubba Church” mountain bike ride with my aging off-road posse. On early morning Sundays, I read the digital version of the NY Times and catch up on the news, fake or not. I didn’t find much of interest today, so instead I clicked on my Instagram feed where I download media to read later at my leisure. Instapaper is my own custom newspaper.
I don’t ever listen to podcasts when I eat breakfast, but today I am pleased that I did. I listened to Texas Parks and Wildlife Podcast’s Epidode 13: Hiking Across Texas. It is short, only 12 minutes long, but it spoke deeply to me today. It’s a refreshing interview with Dave Roberts, 72 years old. Dave is currently on a 3,000-mile “ramble” across Texas, weaving through at least 40 national parks.
I remember reading about Dave a year and a half ago, and dug up the following article about Dave, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who has found his unique retirement groove- long distance walking, biking, and kayaking. Dave’s on a $20-a-day budget for this Texas adventure, but more importantly appears to have exactly the right attitude to keep on doing what he enjoys best- being outdoors and having varied experiences.
As Dave puts it, ” If everything does according to plans, you are not having an adventure yet.”
Do listen via the podcast link above, and if you like what you hear, read the Jan. 2016 Times feature below, to learn more about Dave and other retirees who have stood up to leave the couch for later.
I’m sitting here on a dreary, gonna-be-hot-and-humid Saturday morning and deciding whether to hike or bike a bit this morning.
It is exactly half way into the 2017 calendar year. I’m just been through a month of recovery from a bad fall I took on May 22 coming down off the Bigelow ridge after clearing downed trees and cutting back brush trail on the Appalachian Trail. I had built up a bit of a cushion since Jan.1 just in case I experienced any setbacks (like a torn/strained hamstring and bashed up back). Those of you who follow this blog know that I am a huge fan of setting goals, be it for fitness, or for scheduling upcoming trips that help me to spend time outside, and get me moving through the countryside.
I use the Strava (Premium version) App to track my progress for the year, with my overall efforts looking satisfactory. I’m on track for a year of 1,000 miles biking and another 1,000 miles of walking. So far, I’ve broken 18 personal records while engaged in 156 activities that have taken me 241 hours to complete.
Breaking it down, I’ve done a bit better with biking than walking, with 516 miles logged:
My walking/hiking is just a shade behind, at 489 miles, just 11 miles short of my half way mark of 500 miles.
So, I’ll I head out for a walk now instead of a ride. If I put in a couple of hours, I should succeed in adding 6 miles or so. I am fortunate that I can leave my house and walk in relative peace and quiet. I’m done with the gym. I live where it is easy for me to walk or ride out my door. I plan to keep it that way.
Bottom line: Strava goal setting helps, choosing activities that your enjoy to do for exercise helps even more, and staying in contact with other folks that like to bike and/or hike is an additional lifestyle choice that promotes fitness in an natural and enjoyable manner.
I just received my copy of the new DVD put out by Grandma Gatewood’s family in collaboration with a grant from the Ohio Historical Society’s History Fund. Nominated for an Emmy, the 50 minute video explores Emma Gatewood’s 1955 solo thru hike of the Appalahian trail, after she had raised 11 children and survived domestic abuse. Grandma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person – man or woman – to walk it twice and then went on to hike it a third time.
I first learned about Grandma Gatewood in the classic two volume series published by Rodale Press in 1975 entiiled Hiking the Appalachian Trail. At one time, she was the most visible personality that hiked the Appalachian Trail. Sure, Earl Schaffer completed the first thru hike of the AT in 1948, but his personality was more taciturn and he tended to shun publicity. Emma’s first 1954 attempt at the AT was unsuccessful, but she ditched her a pack, repaired her broken glasses, and transform herself into an ultra light hiker that resulted in a northbound through hike in 1955.
Emma was schooled up to eighth grade, living in a log cabin with her 14 siblings. She married at age 19 experiencing almost daily physical abuse from her husband for 33 years. She grew up and spent her adult life on farms. A product of 60+ years of hard physical work, Emma Gatewood took to the trail after her youngest of 11 children was independent and she had divorced her husband.
Grandma Gatewood hiked in Red Ball Jets hightop sneakers. She carried her gear in a cotton dufflebag that she placed on her shoulder. She was a tiny woman, but as the song goes, “Oh what those five feet two could do.”
The movie contains historic photos, and interviews with past and present AT hikers, as well as commentary from Emma’s daughter and granddaughter. I particularly enjoyed seing some of the actual gear that went on these hikes.
Many of us struggle with deciding how much time we should put into exercising. The truth is a bit difficult to put into practice, due to our busy lifestyles. You may be dismayed to learn that it takes serious time for your efforts to translate to better health and improved longevity. In my case, the 75 minute a day target significantly turned health bio-markers around for me, via moderate walking, backpacking ,or biking .
Check out the FACTS below. Note that you can watch the video or read the transcript of the video.- T. Jamrog
Physical fitness authorities seem to have fallen into the same trap as the nutrition authorities—recommending what they think may be achievable, rather than simply informing us what the science says, and letting us make up our own mind.
This long overdue blog post was inspired by the Parade Magazine supplement from my Sunday paper. It’s a weak piece of literature, but occasionally I pull a recipe. Here is an article that even sparked a response from my wife , Marcia, who warned me, ” You better not read this or I am going to end up with you trying to reach 100 years old.”
The article features a typical day in the life of Michael Roizen, M.D., who has dedicated 20 years to the study of longevity—specifically, the idea that certain daily choices can make your body and mind years younger than your calendar age. Roizen has an upcoming book, “AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip“, so this article is probably just one limb of a deep-pocketed marketing campaign, with Dr. Mike showing up on National Public Radio, in an interview with Terry Gross. I’ve seen the same thing with the mega-sucessful Wild, a movie that came after the book went Top 10. Yes, I will probably read his book, even if I just squeeze out a few extra weeks of existence and never even make it to be 100 years old. Right now, I am not so sure that things are going to get better in the next 30 years. Just to be clear, this book is not even out yet.
Since I have a huge interest in continuing my daily hikes, backpacking ventures, and riding through the woods on my bikes, I check out practices and products that assist me moving. I decided to X-Ray the article and see how I measured up against Dr. Mike.
Here’s a snapshot of Mike’s typical work day. The italicized portions are quoted from Parade. My own comments follow in standard print:
Morning smooches– 5:00 a.m. “The first thing I do is kiss my wife, Nancy.” Choosing your partner wisely and with passion is one of Roizen’s keys to longevity. Nope! I am an early riser, usually at or just before daybreak. I need to be careful to get up and out of bed without waking up Marcia. Definitely not part of my daily practice, so far. Maybe I should leave a nice note by her bed stand instead? On the positive side, we continue to enjoy each other’s company over the past 43 years.
Meditation– 5:05 a.m. A five-minute meditation in the shower sets his intentions for the day and helps manage stress. Big yes. I was taught Transcendental Meditation when I attended UMass back in 1970. I even went to Canada and then Spain for several months to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 1070’s, when I became a TM teacher. I continue to practice the technique for 30 minutes, every morning, accumulating 46 years of experiences, or non-experience if you prefer.
Heart Healthy Breakfast: 5:45 a.m. He eats heart-healthy oatmeal with walnuts. Six days a week I have one cup of organic wild blueberries, 1 cup of whole mile yogurt, and 1/4 cup of granola, which is 75% nuts and seeds. In August, I fill half a freezer with 130 pounds of fresh Maine wild berries that are grown across town. On Sundays I treat myself to eggs and a bagel.
His cup runneth over: 8-9 cups coffee, 32 oz. water. Roizen drinks a lot of coffee. (It counts toward his daily fluid intake, he says.) He doesn’t use cream or sugar and also drinks plenty of H2O. This would be way too much coffee for me. I generally have 2 to 3 cups of high quality coffee in the morning. Four months ago, I purchased a package from Fitness Genes, including a DNA test kit, that analyzed my genetic information related to health and metabolism. One of those 42 genes reflects caffeine metabolism. I carry two copies of the “fast metabolizer” A allele. Caffeine works fast for me and is metabolized quickly, suggesting that I can use it to my advantage by downing a cup immediately before I ride or hike. I have no problems with sleeping if I do have a shot of espresso after dinner. Bing! This finding alone was worth the cost of the testing!
Lunchtime veggie madness: In the employee cafeteria, Roizen assembles a low-calorie, nutrient-rich salad with an assortment of veggies such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peas, dressed with balsamic vinegar. Or he’ll have a hot plate with steamed broccoli, sautéed green beans and another veggie. During farmers’ market season on the Cleveland Clinic campus, Roizen stocks up on healthy snacks for his staff. My lunch is usually a large bowl of fake pho or phauxpho, as I term it. I came up with this meal this past summer, when I was harvesting various vegetables from my garden. It is composed of rich broth, steamed or sauteed veggies, a protein source, and a few rice noodles. Here’s my blog post laying out my phauxpho recipe, which looked like this one day.
Walk and talk: 2:00 p.m. Roizen breaks up sitting time by walking up a flight of stairs or two with patients, while monitoring their pulse, or having one-on-one “walking meetings” with colleagues. The closest I come to this is walking and talking with my friend Frank. We try to walk in the Camden Hills State park on Friday afternoons.
Afternoon meditation: Another 30 minute TM session every afternoon for me, generally in the late afternoon.
Connecting with friends: 5:30 p.m. His evening commute is good for the soul: He likes to catch up with friends on the phone. And several times a week he uses FaceTime to video chat at home with his grown children, Jennifer and Jeffrey, and granddaughter, Julien. I have this one down. For over 25 years. I meet every single Monday night at 5:30 PM with 6 other guys who part of my Men’s Group, or as I term it now my Personal Board of Advisers. We take turns cooking a completed dinner for each other on a rotating location, generally each person’s home. Thus has gone on for over 25 years. Serious discussions are rare these days, even once a week. I am also a member of The Bubbas, a group of local guys and a limited number of gals ( generally 1 or 2) who ride mountain bikes over challenging conditions in the woods at three different locations in Midcoast Maine on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and on Sunday mornings. We do catch up on things, but mostly make fun of each other in some unsavory manner. I love The Bubbaas.
Plenty of fun: 8:00 p.m. You can find the sports-loving Roizens cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indians. “If we don’t have tickets or they’re away, I’m usually watching the game on TV just before bed,” he says. “That’s my calm-down ritual.” The only sports team that still matters to me is the New England Patriots, who have posted a winning season for some time now, and brought to the Patriots Nation yet another Super Bowl triumph this week! Unfortunately I have to keep my allegiance silent outside of New England, due to the many millions of Patriots haters out there.
Sleep smart: 10:30 p.m. “If I have a weakness, it’s that I don’t honor sleep as much as I should,” he admits. “I used to feel great on six hours—now seven is much better for me.” Most people need more as they age, he says, and everyone should get at least 6.5 hours for the best longevity benefits. I picked up the new Fitbit Charge 2 after Christmas through my Maine Guide discount at LLBean. One function is the automatic tracking of how long and how well I sleep. I am asleep at least an hour before Mr. Roizen. I have no use for the Silent Alarm, and tend to wake up at daybreak, if not before.
Additional facts: 90 The number of minutes Roizen aims to spend on his treadmill desk by walking during conference calls and radio interviews. I average 75-90 minutes a day of brisk walking or biking.
10,000 The number of steps Roizen tries to log daily on his fitness tracker. If he hasn’t hit his goal, he walks on the treadmill while he watches TV. “That’s about the only time I catch The Daily Show live,” he says. My 2017 goal is 12,000 steps a day, supporting the 75-90 minute figures above. 2017 is also my goal for this year. I plan to walk or bike that many miles this year. Using the Strava program/ app allows me to track each and every ride, walk, hike that I experience. Monitoring my progress toward my yearly goal is made much easier with the metrics and the graphics of the Premium ( paid) version of the app.
25 The calories in a small piece of dark chocolate, a favorite Roizen pick-me-up (along with a handful of walnuts) if dinner will be late. I consume 0.5 oz. of 70% or more dark chocolate a day. It’s three times what Dr. Mike takes. It’s for my health!
So, there you go, one researched path to centarianism. One hundred years of life may not be everyone’s target, but can’t we all use professional guidance in holding our bodies and spirits together as we move along life’s trails and trials.
I invite any further “hacks” that you might share with us all. Please consider commenting, and subscribing to this blog !
Tom Jamrog, Triple Crown Hiker ( Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail), will give an illustrated talk about his June 2016 hike of the coastal Portugal Camino, a lesser known pilgrimage route. Tom’s 250 mile hike started in Porto, Portugal and ended on the Atlantic Ocean in Finisterre, Spain.
He will discuss trip preparation, the contents of his 10 pound pack, and the challenges encountered in walking this particular route, which included the Spiritual Variant or the Maritime Way.
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).
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.
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.
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.
The lean-to was built in 2012, of standard log construction with a new outhouse nearby. There was water flowing close for drinking ( purify!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
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.
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.
Patches of ice were fund on top of rocks that dominated this landscape.
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.