If you ever find your self riding on the gravel Jo-Mary Road in northern Maine Hundred Mile Wilderness you can follow some tiny hand-lettered DLWC signs marking the varied intersections over the 24 mile drive from Route 11 just north of Brownville to the tiny dock where you unload your baggage and get shuttled by Leslie in a cedar and canvas motorboat over to one of the cabins in this 100+ year old settlement of log cabins on the shore of Fourth Debskoneag Lake.
Marcia and I are here for the second year in a row, sharing Point Camp with our friends Ivan and Lynn for four nights. I’m a big fan of Maine’s historic sporting camps.
When Marcia and I were starting a young family, we started taking annual trips around Columbus Day weekend, we came to prefer enclosed heated cabins on this particular weekend after we were caught in a snowstorm where our only shelter was an open sided lean-to or a summer tents. We moved up the ladder of comfort in Baxter State Park when we began to use the heated bunkhouses that are so popular in the late fall and winter seasons.
Baxter’s bunkhouses are unusually insulated, and heated by wood stoves surrounded by wooden bunks on top of glossy grey wooden floors, and minimally appointed with a table, a few treasured chairs, and a coupe windows to provide some meager day time light.
Years later, I got back into annual winter backpacking excursions, usually on the first weekend in December, where summer destinations like the Bigelows and Tumbledown Mountain were made much more challenging due to the cold, ice and snow that had usually settled in by then.
Eventually Marcia and I began to send weekends Maine Sporting Camps, including The Birches in Rockwood, Chet’s in Jackman, Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps, Nahmakanta Lake Wilderness Camps. You get to these places from our house in midcoast Maine by winding north through fading little settlements that lead to even the more sparsely settled backwoods until you leave the pavement to pay your fee to borrow time on logging roads.
Leslie was our host again this year, likely a true Amazon, who radiates capability in the outdoors. She hefted a cooler full of food onto her shoulder and then bound over the uneven, rock and root strewn path to deposit it at our front door.
The main room of this camp has a big Defiant wood stove with plenty of dry hardwood inside and out.
On our first day at camp, Ivan and I went for a 10.6 mile round trip hike over to Tumbledown Dick Falls (TDF, a stunning 70 foot waterfall that is located 0.6 miles off the Appalachian Trail.
We walked from the Camp all the way out to the where the AT crosses the gravel entrance road at the southern end of Nahmakanta Lake, where we met a couple of happy thru hikers who were aiming to be of top of Katahdin in just four more days. We hiked south on the AT for a mile where we hung a right to Tumbledown Dick Falls.
I’ve hiked the Hundred Mile Wilderness several times and before now, but until now have never had the energy or inclination to take in side trips when my going is usually focused on reaching and spending time near to or on Katahdin.
I used the Atlas Guide to navigate this section of the AT and was pleased to see that Guthook included the TDF side trail.
The Tumbledown Dick Falls trail was in great shape.
Someone had been though with a chain saw recently and cleared all existing blowdowns. The trail gradually ascends until the last twenty of a mile where it splits and you can choose the upper or lower falls.
We did both, enjoying our lunch as the board of the falls and the strong flow of the discharge from the initial pool was our soundtrack. Truthfully, the upper flatter stretches were more inviting to me than the Falls.
Several prime campsites were noticeable near to large pools of clear water, where visibility allowed us to see numerous small fish swimming about. This place would make a great overnight micro-adventure on some hot summer day.
On the return hike to camp, we detoured to take a long look up the length of Nahmakanta Lake. It never fails to thrill and becon me back to The Hundred.
I’m the after dinner entertainment up to Shin Pond in couple of weeks. I’ll be presenting after the full belly dinner at Mt. Chase Lodge on Friday night – a brand new hiking presentation entitled, “The Allure of the Long Distance Hike” Reservations are being accepted until April 20 ! I bet there will still be snow on the ground in the campground, but rooms and cabins are available in the village.
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.