New study shows the right workout routine can help fight dementia – The Globe and Mail


It’s snowing like crazy this Thanksgiving morning here in Maine as I put together this blog post.  During the night, an inch of rain preceded the whiteout so I’m sure there will be some ice hidden under the new cover of snow.

The wind is howling, clouds of white are swirling, and the air temperature is exactly 32 degrees.  All of this adds up to me sitting beside the wood stove soaking up the heat before I fire up my heavily-studded-tire-equipped VW Golf and my wife Marcia and I creep out way down Route 1 to join two of her sisters and their families for a Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving morning of 2018 had no snow fall; however, the mercury in the thermometer that day bottomed out at a bone chilling 5℉.

My neighbor Andy and I ride our bikes year ’round and up to now, have embraced a Thanksgiving morning tradition of riding our bikes for an hour and a half or so, usually reaching Camden Hills State  Park.

Andy, setting the route

Camden is a vacation destination in all seasons, and sits in a protected harbor off Penobscot Bay.  It’s at sea level. Our houses face the ocean sited at some 450′ in elevation.  All of this geographic data equals bike rides that undulate up and down on the numerous hills and little mountains that stretch from inland to the coast.  It is a workout that invariably pushes our heart rates back and forth into the zone that is normally characterized by the upper reaches of an interval workout of moderate to more intense intensity.


This past Monday and Tuesday found me braving a drive of some 220 miles away to Pembroke, MA to visit with my 93 year old mother Isabel and bring her to a medical appointment. It’s a sad visit, only buffered by my appreciation that Isabel had experienced 90 good years of remarkably healthy life before she was diagnosed with late onset Alzheimer’s disease.

At my age, I worry if genes will overcome my efforts to remain cognitively intact as I age out.  My father, Chester died at age 72 of congestive heart failure, before any noticeable decline in his memory.  His own father died when Chester was a baby,  but my dad’s mother, Mary, died of old age and likely Alzheimer’s.  I was only little, but I do remember how strange it was for me to realize that in her later years, Mary was unable to recognize her own son.

The following Globe and Mail article came into my inbox a couple days a go.  Do check it out:

“In 2017, a team led by the lab’s director, Jennifer Heisz, published a five-year study of more than 1,600 adults older than 65 that concluded that genetics and exercise habits contribute roughly equally to the risk of eventually developing dementia. Only one of those two factors is under your control, so researchers around the world have been striving to pin down exactly what sort of workout routine will best nourish your neurons.”

Any and I might have missed our bike rides this morning, but we’ll probably both be back at it tomorrow, doing what we can to keep moving and remembering today all those that we treasure as we sit around the tables of bounty.

full article here –>via New study shows the right workout routine can help fight dementia – The Globe and Mail

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.


(1) Thomas Jamrog


Lessons from 8,000+ Miles of Backpacking:  Attitudes, Actions (and Apps)

Tom Jamrog will share research from his forthcoming book on endurance about what he has learned through experience and his research.

Updated information about psychological, physical, and mental training that can extend your outdoor adventures as we age!

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.

THIS SATURDAY, November 23,  AT 10 AM

via (1) Thomas Jamrog

Freezing Boosts the Nutrition of Wild Blueberries | Wild Blueberries

Every year I freeze 13 ten pound boxes of Maine wild organic blueberries. Half my freezer is full of them. I will continue to do so, primarily for the taste, but secondary gains regarding memory loss, and anti inflammatory buffering research shows that frozen Wild Blueberries offer more health-helping antioxidants called anthocyanins than fresh blueberries. Learn more.
— Read on

Welcoming Shelter at Fourth Debskoneag Lake Wilderness Camps

It’s raining lightly today, our last at Point Camp.

Our Home Away from Home

I’ll probably edit photos, write a blog post, read, take a nap, meditate, and unfurl my umbrella after lunch and take a walk over to Fifth Debskoneag Lake to check out the area for mushrooms.

Yesterday Ivan spotted large chunk of chaga on a decaying white birch tree some distance off the trail. We broke off a good sized chunk, and were able to leave the majority of the growth on the tree. I cleaned it up a bit after reaching camp and boiled up a panful of the deep dark liquid, which to me is a pretty close in taste to strong coffee. I just finished reading Birch, by Anna Lexington, a most enjoyable worldwide history of the tree, amply illustrated by photos and maps.

There is also a cabin for rent here called Indian Camp, which I describe with text and photos here.

My favorite day hike here that I have enjoyed the most so far is a three mile loop hike along the ledges north of here as one stands on the porch of our camp.

Once I had hauled myself up the steep loose gravel and made my way around the cliffs themselves, I was granted the following view of Katahdin:

Here is a sketch that I made last year of the ridge’s profile.

While up top, I attached an 18 degree wide angle fisheye lens to my iPhone where I got these shots:

There is much left to do today, with highlighted activities that reflect “drawing back the bow” today, including resting, writing, and expressing gratefulness at the foresight and fortitude of those that have come before us that have left us this legacy.

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.


I Rode to Labrador 25 Years Ago


In 1994, twenty-give years ago, I published my first feature article.  It was about a two week motorcycle ride from Maine to the newest leg of the Labrador Highway- Churchill Falls to Goose Bay.  My touring mentor and buddy, Alan MacKinnon and I had just read Great Heart, by Rugge and Davidson and were inspired by the book to explore the region.

screenshot 8

To link to a .pdf of the article, complete with original photographs, clink the link below, where you will be able to  download the .pdf in separate browser:

Lonely Road to Labrador

Three More New Hampshire 4,000 Footers Checked Off the List

I’m riding a wave of opportunities to get out and hike again. In the past couple of weeks I’ve made two overnight trips to the White Mountains to target the remaining four of New Hampshire’s forty-eight 4,000 footers. I’m combining forces with my very good friend and hiking enthusiast Tenzing, who lives in NH. Tenzing needs a few more summits than I do (7) but neither of us mind a few extra mountain hikes, so he’s doing a few repeats and so am I.
We haven’t hiked together for five years. A couple of weeks ago we had a very successful trial hike of 3,268’ Kearsarge North.
This week, I drove up to Silver Lake, NH to stay with my brother-in-law Cam, who put me up for a night so that I couldn’t have to drive up and back from a long day of hiking three more 4,000 footers: Mounts Tom( 4051’), Field (4350’) and Willey (4285’) in Crawford Notch.

We picked the best day of the summer so far to hike. I awoke to 47 degrees, and rendezvoused with Tenzing at Intervale. The cold temps quelled any lingering mosquitoes or black flies. The views from on high were much better than average, although there was some cloud cover up high. We spotted cars at two ends of our route and were hiking by 8 am.

Tenzing headed up

By 9:30 AM we had completed out first 2.5 miles, trudging upward at a very good rate of 2.1 mph. The summit of Mt. Tom was reached by 10:15 AM.

Tenzing Atop Mt. Tom

Tensing informed me that he had previously submitted Mounts Tom and Field on Sept. 18, 1994.

Number two 4,000 footer- Mt. Field

UT on Field

After short breaks for water and snacks, we meandered up and down the ridge to reach the summit of Mt. Willey at 12:30 PM.

And Willey is #3 today

From there is was a long, and often treacherous descent to a segment of the Appalachian Trail, down to the parking lot off the highway.

The views from an outcropping were rewarding today:

Tenzing viewing Mt. Washington and Webster cliffs

Tenzing posted this additional information on his Facebook page: “A piece of advice anyone wishing to climb Mt Willey:  try to avoid climbing and descending from/to the South. The trail is extremely steep, highly eroded, and the footing is frequently scree or loose gravel and very slippery!”

Heading Down


Me descending long sketchy ladder section -Photo by John Clark

Tenzing and I have another hiking trip planed to check off two more 4,000 voters on 9/10-9/11. Then a 3 day, 2 night hike overnight in October to complete Tenzing’s last 5 and my last 1.

September and October are my favorite months to hiked spend time in the New England woods. I’m fortunate to be able to hike tough stuff and to have friends like Tenzing that I can share my experiences with.

Book Review: When You Find My Body

When You Find My Body: The Disappearance of Geraldine Largay on the Appalachian TrailWhen You Find My Body: The Disappearance of Geraldine Largay on the Appalachian Trail by D. Dauphinee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the local AT thru hikers, AKA Blueberry, mentioned that she read this book in one day. It took me two days complete, the same as my wife who read it immediately after I did. The book is well phrased, and the author has the credentials to do a thorough job of bring the story forward.

I recommended to anyone, experienced hikers and outdoors folks as well as those who hold that that a long hike on Appalachian Trail is a piece of cake. In any given year approximately 30 people get lost while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sadly, 66 year old Geraldine Largay was one of them in 2013, when she had the misfortune of wandering 2 miles off the AT in Maine after she became disoriented when stepping into the woods off the AT to urinate.

I read all 39 comments about the book here in Goodreads. I am left wondering whether some of the reviewers read the same book that I did ! For example there were comments that Ms. Largay did nothing wrong, that she waited patiently in place for 26 days for a rescue that never came despite the coordinated efforts of hundreds of searchers doing close coordinated searches of the area on multiple occasions

As a former thru hiker of the AT who has since obtained his Maine Guide’s license I have received training on lost person behavior and I have also experienced the anxiety being left behind and/or temporarily disoriented myself. Ms. Largay lacked two specific skills that might have saved her life: land navigation and fire building. Her body was eventually found after keeping herself alive for 26 days while in possession of a compass and a map of the area. Ms. Largay had a lighter with her but the postmortem site analysis revealed that she was not able to maintain a fire large or long enough to call attention to her location.

Since Ms. Largay’s death I have added a satellite-based communication device ( Garmin InReach+) to my day hike pack, as an emergency back up. I pay 12 dollars a month for the subscription as I am out in all seasons. I’m not getting any younger and things do go wrong in unexpected ways in the wood and waters of Maine.

I also orient myself with a compass and map and complete a “handrail check” before I enter the woods or a large body of water. A handrail is a feature or landmark that leads towards your destination and one that you can follow or keep within sight. It can be man made or natural. For example, if Ms. Largay had done this, she would have known that Maine Route 27 was directly east of the section of the AT where she became lost. She might not have been able to see the Northeast handrail of Sugarloaf Mountain through the dense foliage, but that big old sun came up directly from the east on each of those 26 days that she was waiting for help. Route 27 was 11 miles directly from her location, and while she might not have been able to get there in one of even two days, she might have recognized the AT as she would have to cross it on her way to the highway.

Smart phone’s GPS/ mapping systems are great tools that I use myself, but Ms. Largay’s sad story only drives home the fact that rudimentary map/compass and navigation skills are necessary when all else, including our sense of direction fails us.

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