My Pandemic Practices

I’m reeling from the smashing of my old patterns and habits as we all try to adapt to this new socially distancing pandemic.

Morning Arrives !

Normally, this is the time of year when my professional school psychology services are at peak demand. That’s all done. All five of the schools where I work are closed until April 27, with hints mulling about that this school year may even be over. We’ll see. If that is the case, I’m out of a job until at least September. I’m a private contractor — I’m not on the payroll, so if I can’t work, I don’t make money. Also, other areas where I “work” are gone-book signings, workshops on backpacking, and guiding opportunities.

I’m still physically compromised, and restricted for any of my normal physical due to surgery on my wrist on 3/6. The stitches are out but I can’t yet increase the stress on my hand. I can’t prune my apple trees-I hope it won’t be too late when I’m finally able to do that. I also really riding my bikes, which I do year-round here in Maine.

At least I can hike. I’m buffered by the fact that I live in the country, and not a city dweller. Our rural house is on five acres and I also can go to our little camp in the neighboring town of Hope. It’s busy there in the summer, with nearly two dozen cottages, cottages, and even a couple of real houses there but right now, there is no one on either side of me or across the street, so I can isolate there as well as at the house.

I have permission from folks that live in the neighborhood to walk out my door and roam around on over a thousand acres. Years go by where I’ve never seen anyone but me hiking and biking out there. I feel safer outdoors than in.

Marcia and I have closed the door at the house to all visitors. I turn 70 in a couple of days. Marcia is not far behind me in age, plus her immune system is not 100%. We’re entrenching on the advice of the CDC which advises only essential trips (i..e hospital) for vulnerable populations.

I plan to practice is such the same routines that I’ve adopted for a while now. If you are looking to lay down some new routines and habits read Atomic Habits by James Clear.  It is the 11th most popular book on Amazon’s charts this week.  :

A) Continue to build and maintain a healthy immune system.
B) Reduce stressors. Stress impairs immunity. It doesn’t matter whether it is physical, or mental-emotional. Stress is a common and primary cause of poor immunity.
C) Meditation-I’ve practiced Transcendental Meditation daily for 50 years. I’m up to two 45 minute sessions-upon awakening and then before dinner. It’s the keystone habit of my life.
C) Targeting 7-9 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep. Educate yourself about sleep. I recommend reading the incredibly interesting book  Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

D) Daily exercise. I’ve been averaging  75-90 minutes a day of moderate hiking. It’s important not to overdo it. Too much, and/or too frequent exercise can impair the immune system too, due to stress. This leads to the next practice of…
E) Daily reading of heart rate variability, a scientifically validated measure of heart health and the need for recovery rather than over-stressing our physiology by using our bodies when we should be resting. I like DailyBeat from SweetWater Health.

F) Vitamin D supplementation. There’s conflicting evidence for the efficacy of vitamin pills but in my case, it’s all I have left. I’ve tried everything, including 12 hour-long, daily sun exposure of my bare arms and legs for 5 months at a time. The only thing that brought my vitamin D up to even the lower end of the normal range was experimenting with dosages including ingesting 50,000 units a week for months at a time. I’m now on a much lower daily dose.
G) Healthy eating, which means (for me) lower-carb, moderate protein, lots of veggies and modest levels of natural fats.
H) And now, I’m avoiding close contact with people, washing my hands every time I enter my house, and avoiding touching my eyes, nose and mouth after being exposed to others.

I) I’m learning how to set up Zoom meetings with my Monday Night Men’s Group. Seven of us have been meeting for 2.5 hours for over 30 years, which takes place over a meal that each of us prepares for the other men. We rotate the site at each other’s houses. We were able to get it rolling this past Monday, but are still trying to get in everyone on board. It’s hard to understand some of the expanded uses of technology, but the struggle to figure it out is OK with me.

We need each other right now, even though we can’t even sit around the table to do so.

What’s Up for 2020, Uncle Tom?

I’m all over it with presentations in the next four months:

Presentation title :9,000 Miles of Attitude: Aging and Endurance

From the ages of 57-63 Tom thru-hiked the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails. He is a Maine Guide and is currently writing a new book about mental and physical conditioning and extending one’s ability to fully engage in outdoor recreation activities. For the past 25 years, Tom has been singing and playing accordion in King Pirogi, a four piece polka band. He plans to hike and bike exactly 2,020 miles in the coming calendar year. Tom grew up on a dairy farm. In 2014 Tom was the 230th recipient to be awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association after thru-hiking of three of the USA’s longest National Scenic Trails. His first book, “In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail” was published in 2017. After retiring as a psychologist and mental health counselor in 2002 Tom has been guiding individuals and groups on four season adventures in the Northeastern US. His current interest is inspiring others to engage in wilderness adventures at any age.

 

March 21 Maine Sport Outfitters : Rockport, Maine
Backpacking & Hiking Symposium 10-4      details will be posted when available

 

March 27 L.L. Bean,  Freeport, ME 7-9 PM
Book Talk “In the Path Of  Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail”

Tom Jamrog, Maine Guide and Past President of the Maine Association of School Psychology, has over a half-century of experience exploring the outdoors.  In 2014 Tom was awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association for his thru-hikes of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails.
At the age of 63, Tom rose up out of retirement to assemble a team of 4 proven long distance backpackers who took on the daily  challenge of walking over 2,500 miles over a  5 month span on the Continental Divide Trail.  The book details the daily ups and down of life on the trail and also serves as a resource for section and long-distance hikers in planning their long distance adventures.

 

 

Trail Days: Damascus , VA Friday May 15- Sunday May 17

Attitudes, Actions and Apps: Lessons Learned from 9,000+ Backpacking Miles
Uncle Tom ( AT GA>ME, 2007) was awarded the Triple Crown of Hiking award in 2014. He published his first book “In the Path Of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail” in 2017. Tom will discuss his experiences and research from his upcoming book on endurance and essential training ( physical and mental) for long distance backpacking success. Topics will include gait analysis, pain management, recovery myths and facts, over- and under-hydration, and meditation.

Old Mill Conference Room, 215 Imboden St.
on Friday May 15 from 12:45-2:15 pm

You can also stop and chat with Tom at the Atlas (Guthook) Guides vendor booth, where he’s working for the weekend.

Saturday Morning presentation: Attitudes, Actions (and Apps) from 8,000 mile of Backpacking

Hosted by Maine Sport Outfitters, 115 Commercial Street, Rockport, ME 04856

Saturday Nov. 23,  10 AM- 12 PM

Tom Jamrog will discuss research from his forthcoming book on endurance related to essential psychological, physical, and mental training for long distance backpacking success.

Topics include:  evolutionary biology, Stoic techniques to buffer pain management, negative visualization, recovery science, heart rate variability, meditation, gait analysis, coffee as performance enhancement, compression socks, overhydration (hyponatremia) , optimal walking speed, and maybe more.

Tom  received the Triple Crown of Hiking award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association in 2014. In 2017 he published “In the Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail (CDT),” a daily account of his 2013 five-month continuous hike over the Rockies and the CDT.

Presentation starts at 10am followed by a Q&A session and book signing.

 

Tumbling Down from Debskoneag

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.

Point Camp is Far Right

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.

Our Home Away from Home

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.

 

Turn Right

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.

Upper Falls Area

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.

 

Maine International Appalachian Trail Chapter holds Annual Meeting

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.

 

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

Goodbye, Golf Clubs. Hello, Hiking Boots…..

William Widmer for The New York Times

 

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.

My own dream is to walk across the US, someday.

For Exercise, Nothing Like the Great Outdoors

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.

Mid year progress 2017

 

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.

My walking miles are just a little bit behind.

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.

From – The New York Times

Review of Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story (DVD)

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.

DVD cover

Here’s a trailer of the DVD.

Also ead my review of the 2015 book:  Grandma Gatewood’s Walk 

The DVD is available for $25 from Eden Valley Enterprises, 1250 East River St., Elryia, OHIO 44035/   www,edenvalleyenterprises.orgblheve@edenvalleyenterprises.org