Day 5 Eastern Trail : Retreat! 

Start: Freshwater Pond End: Blackwater Road 3k Miles: 1.8

Bailout. The rain that began at midnight was now driving against the tent. The locals who were camped above us slid down the hillside and one of them advised me to follow their lead and head back out, hit the highway south, and hitch to Petty Harbor rather than hike the trail 12 miles to get there.  
This confirmed my concern to keep moving in the rain. The map guide for the section ahead counsels that if conditions are windy or slippery hike the road. Furthermore, heavy rain floods the trail at Staffordside and raises stream levels at Killickstone Cove. 

So out we went. It was less than 2 miles from our campsite go to the highway. There was so much water flowing in the trail I gave up trying to avoid it and walked through whatever pools presented themselves. My tent and tent fly are completely saturated and need to be dried out. That will be impossible with wet weather all around us.  

After a dozen cars splashed past us a new Mercedes pulled over and a young couple drove us to the Coffee Shop in Petty Harbor where they worked. There are no motels here and a cursory check on the internet informed me that there isn’t a room to be had here, so we called back Mary and she had room at Wild Roses B&B and was able to pick us up in 10 minutes.  
Sometimes it is necessary to retreat in order to move on later, like tomorrow.  

Here is footage clipped from Mark Shaw’s drone mission here. ​

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Day 4 on the Eastern Trail 

Start: Quidi Vidi. End: Gut Freshwater Pond (Campsite E.)
Steps: 28,000          Miles 9.1 (15 k)

Easy day. We woke and walked down to have a decent breakfast at the Bagel Cafe. Huge cups of rich coffee and a big breakfast of no fried bologna, eggs, home fries and toast did the trick.  Then it was back to the hostel to pack up silently and slip away without awakening our room mates, Karen and Maxie. A $9 taxi ride ( Jiffy taxi) brought us back a couple of miles to where we fatigued out last night at the Quidi Vidi Brewery. 
   From there, it was urban road walking through Signal Hill and along the road that hugged the harbor. We stopped for coffee at a Starbucks and took a break. Approaching Fort Amherst near the entrance to the harbor, we met a local woman out for a walk who gave us a rock with a fossil in it. She didn’t understand why I wouldn’t pack it up and carry it home. 

Then came a very sunny and hot walk, where I unfurled my trusty umbrella, creating a shade circle I could use to keep myself from getting overheated. 
We ended the day early, as we agreed to do. Upon arriving at Gut Freshwater Pond both of us dove in the fresh water side for a invigorating and cleansing swim. There is a massive barachois of rocks separating the Freshwater Pond from the sea. 
Lots of folks came and went as we settled into our campsite. It’s Saturday, and the locals are recreating a well. There is room enough for all of us here, for sure.  

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Day 3 on the Eastern Trail

Start: Torbay         End:Quidi Vidi 
42,839 steps           miles = 15.2

Sandra was a great host, and her Sea the Sea B & B was a deal for $98 for two. 
      Today was a day when we ended up walking longer miles than we planned but still didn’t make it to St. John’s, falling short by a couple of miles.

 We did see whales surfacing through the hike -maybe as many as ten. They are feeding on schools of capelin and also squid. We are close enough to hear loud exhalations of co2 through their blow holes on the top of their heads. Their spouts are easily seen, even when they are hundreds of feet away. Binoculars would be good here.  BI tried to move shoot video of the whales but we could not make it happen due to  glare off the water.  
     We met a couple of surveyors working along the trail who described the trail ahead of us as punctuated with numerous ups and downs today. True. Much elevations gains, even thought the trail generally ran along the edge of the land mass some 400 to 500 feet about sea level. It was hot, and parchingly dry, especially when hiking in full sunlight, unmoderated by tree shade. Still, there is so much water draining off the wet terrain that I still haven’t had to carry more than a quart.  

    Hiking here reminds me of hiking in the west. In general, there are long views of what’s ahead and behind, and not the usual green tunnel of foliage that I’m used to in New England. There are zero deciduous trees. The harsh northern climate extends the alpine zone this far south. Much of the walking today reminded me of the highest zones of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  

This could be a post about the ” good, bad, and ugly”- the quality information we are given about the trail. Sometimes it comes at you straight, when you most need it, like the homeowner who came out of his house this morning to point to the right fork in the road. Other times it is downright bogus. One fellow stopped to talk to us near Tableland. He had once lived there. We asked about water ahead and he said there was none and that we should go back to Tableland to get some. Nope. Heading south we crossed two good flowing streams within the first mile. Another time, we asked a young couple for directions and was told the trail continued past a viewpoint and it was it true. on my phone saved our asses numerous times today when the trail was lost. It’s a great app, free, and works on the trail without a cell connection. It detected the trail no matter where we walked.   
We only made it couple of miles short of St. John’s tonight. St. John’s has the oldest street in North America and is also the oldest city in North America.   We had a couple of beers at the very crowed and hot Quidi Vidi Brewery when we called a cab to take us into the St. John’s Hostel where we scored a couple beds in a ” community room” which we shared with two young twenty-something girls on a summer road trip.  


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Morning Greeting with the Foxes : Day 2 

Start:  Shoe Cove      End:  Torbay

Mileage: 24K ( 14.5 miles)

I walked to a seriously soaked this morning after condensation passed through the open screening and saturated my sleeping bag and everything else that was inside.    A few minutes after I was out of the tent I was surprised by the presence of a small gray dog-like creature that was a grayish and black fox which was soon accompanied by its mother. They had no fear of us so I immediately suspected that the foxes might have rabies and threw a couple of rocks in their direction and they ran off into the thick brush.
I’m only a little frustrated by the measured distances that are published on the maps that are sold by the East Coast Trail. They seem they are registering 15-20% less than my corresponding mileages tracked by both Strava and Fitbit. Tomorrow I’ll run my Garmin eTrex 30, which should settle whether there is a true discrepancy.

Bad influence took some dramatic footage from his drone today. He was able to get the little unit out over the water and film back into a huge waterfall that was dropping several hundred feet onto a rocky beach. 
The trail today became more varied. It included a long descent along the edge of a beautiful meadow bordered with wildflowers. We started the hike a third of the way into map N#4, then completed all of map N#3, and we’re now set to start map N#2. The maps have great detail, including dates of shipwrecks, with five of them documented on this map. I’m a bit concerned about a missing kilometer’s worth of trail at the end of today’s first map. Hopefully we’ll get the answer from local folks who we might see on the trail today.
I’ve included here most of today’s hike. It was cut short at the end. We’re staying in the See the Sea B& B here in Torbay.   There are no motels here, and I slept on the floor at the foot of BI’s double bed. It was the only room left for us. Sandra is a great host, but I would not want her dusting bill. Knicknack city. Looking forward to a Newfoundland breakfast soon.

Another glorious day outside awaits us.

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Day 1 on Newfoundland’s Eastern Trail      

Start: Cape St. Francis. End: Shoe Cove.  Mileage:  10


​​  “This East Coast Trail will make you feel like you died and gone to heaven,” said my hiking sidekick Bad Influence.

First, I really enjoyed my stay at Wild Roses B &B last night. Mary’s place is a one-stop hiker’s oasis, providing airport shuttle, home cooked dinner and breakfast and make-your-own sandwich lunch lunches plus a morning shuttle through a long and seriously cratered-up gravel road of sorts. Mary’s brother Frank is retired from 32 years working up at the Churchill, Labrador power station and helps out with his sister’s business. Frank and I discovered that we both are friendly with Happy Valley, Labrador’s Joe Goudie.
This Newfoundland family supporting this lodging/ shuttle business is the real deal. For example, this morning’s breakfast features lassi tutons, a Labrador legendary delicacy of soft cake consistency, that is dosed by the fortunate consumer with blackstrap molasses.

The rain that had been falling all night stopped as we exited Frank’s Caravan just below the Cape St. Francis lighthouse at the northernmost tip of the Avalon Peninsula.   The evergreen boughs bordering the path released showers of cold rainwater on my shirt as I rubbed by against them drenching my pants, shirt, and shoes. It’s unavoidable, and the sun that is breaking out should help dry things as the day passes along.

 We’ve been hiking along dramatic cliffs punctuated by gorges that frame the churning blue and green waters hundreds of feet below us. We’re camped here tonight at Shoe Cove, where we scored a couple of dramatic spots of for my tent and BI’s hammock.

Beside my tent there is a talkative brook flowing that is draining into the ocean, with a view of the North Atlantic framed by sixty degree cliffs on both sides anchored by the floor of the sea.
In the morning, we’ll head downstream, and follow a traditional cow path cutting up an eastern slope.

 Once on top we plan to enjoy viewing laurel heaths of the extensive Grazing Grounds.

Backpacking here on an abbreviated schedule ( started at 10:45 AM) this first day out was “world class hiking”, a term I reserve for the top 5 percent of the trails that I have experienced in my life.

The trail is segmented into sections that each have their own maps. Our first segment was detailed on a topographic map that covered 7.3 kilometers, and we are already half way through N#4 which adds another 15.1 k down.

Bad Influence and I are excited about how interesting it is to hike here in Newfoundland. The trail reminded me of hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where roots, rocks, wetness, twisting progress and relentless ups and downs, almost with every step, made total focus a priority.

Both of us felt good today.
It is beyond understanding why we saw no one else all day. The air off the ocean is so fresh. The post- rain clearing rain triggered a mild cleansing breeze that felt like a cosmic air conditioner was stuck on the Low setting. Perfect hiking weather if you ask me. No black flies or mosquitoes. Tics don’t live here!

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Preparing for Long Distance Hiking

In the next couple of days I am simultaneously prepping for two events.

I present this coming Sunday at the 41st Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s biennial Conference “Views from the Maine Woods,” which runs August 4-11 at Colby College in Waterville.

Here’s my Sunday, August 6 workshop description:
Why Walking Matters: Benefits of Walking and Improvisational Skills in Long-Distance Hiking. Tom Jamrog, Triple Crown thru-hiker, author, and Maine Guide with Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures.  From the ages of 57 to 63, “Uncle Tom” thru-hiked four National Scenic Trails. Tom reviews the latest research on the physical and mental health benefits of walking, and discusses pre-hike training and mental practices that can bolster an aging hiker’s continued success on the trail.

Two days later, I fly out of Boston to St. John’s to attempt a 185 mile thru-hike of Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail.

East Coast Trail website

East Coast Trail- Newfoundland

Foot care will be a priority activity that I’ll discuss in my workshop and that I’ve been applying on as I approach this rugged hike. I’ll tell the audience that I’ve been walking barefoot as much as possible in the past week in order to toughen up my feet. I have also been applying rubbing alcohol to the soles of my feet toes and heels, a technique I picked up years ago from Colin Fletcher,’s  The Complete Walker IV book, formerly described as “The Hikers Bible” when it came out in 2002. Alcohol cleans, dries, and toughens the skin. Addition to the alcohol, I use an artificial pumice block to buff up callous areas in my forefoot, toes, and heel.

IMG_2933I’ll be backpacking in thin wool socks from Darn Tough and my broken-in New Balance boots, a combination that has resulted in blister-free freedom over the past 5000 miles of hiking. Roomy footwear is  best.

Right now, I’ve signing off to work on my updated Powerpoint for the Colby ATC talk.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there?

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Flesh-eating bacteria nearly kills man who went hiking in N.H.

This gallery contains 3 photos.

“Wayne Atkins thought little of the blisters he had gotten while hiking. He was trekking up and down the 4,500-foot-high Mount Garfield in New Hampshire — a 10-mile round trip — and blisters were no surprise.”-Source: Flesh-eating bacteria nearly kills … Continue reading

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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.

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Mid Year Update from Uncle Tom’s Adventures – What’s Up?

With half of 2017 gone, there are six months of adventures still available for the rest of year. Here’s what’s on my plate right now:

Finish up writing my first book!
I have completed the writing and the editing process for In The Path of Young Bulls: An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail.

Train, General Lee, Dick Wizard, Breeze CDT 2013

My CDT Trailjournal  has logged 275,000 web visits to date. The book is completely revised version of my 2013 Trailjournal, adding new historical material and dialogue.  I’ve scheduled a design meeting with the publisher tomorrow to discuss selecting the color photos for the book. I plan for 30 pages of photos, and have been going through thousands of them in the past two months. We’ll  be discussing fonts, graphics, and map placements. Copies of the manuscript are already out for final checks as well as possible endorsements. If all goes as planned, the book should be out by Sept. 1. It will be carried on Amazon, and will go into a Kindle version as well. Stay tuned!

Complete my recovery from my May 22 accident while descending the Bigelow range.

The real deal

I’m 95% through rehab on a torn hamstring and severely bruised back. Riding my mountain bike is better for me than hiking now. I have to take care not to overextend the range of the hamstring.

I’ll be giving a Sunday morning presentation (W0613)- Why Walking Matters: Benefits of Walking/ Improvisational Skills in Long-Distance Hiking.

“Tom Jamrog, Triple Crown thru-hiker, author, and Maine Guide with Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures. From the ages of 57 to 63, “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 mental techniques that can bolster an aging hiker’s continued success on the trail.”

Hike a new trail in Newfoundland. -Private Trip- August 8-25
Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail is “One of National Geographic’s Ten Best Adventure Destinations in the World”

East Coast Trail- Newfoundland

From the East Coast trail Association’s web site:
The East Coast Trail unites 26 wilderness paths, along 108 miles of North America’s easternmost coastline. The paths of the East Coast Trail take you past towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, deep fjords, and a natural wave-driven geyser called the Spout. Experience abandoned settlements, lighthouses, ecological reserves, seabird colonies, whales, icebergs, the world’s southernmost caribou herd, historic sites, a 50-metre suspension bridge, two active archaeological dig sites, and many more attractions.

Guide a trip of The Whole Hundred ! (Abol Bridge->>Monson)
September 1-10— SOLD OUT

Maine’s Hundred-Mile Wilderness is a huge, largely uninhabited region, beginning on the outskirts of Monson, ME. Many thru-hikers consider Maine the best part of the whole 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. The Hundred Mile Wilderness appears on many hiker’s Bucket List. This southbound trip will take place over 9 nights and 10 hiking days, allowing for ample time to settle into a comfortable schedule. We will take advantage of a mid-point resupply service, so that we will not need to carry food for the whole 10 days. This trip is suitable for a hiker who is able to carry 30 pounds on a 10 mile average per day. We’ll stay in lean-tos, and/or tents, space permitting.
Price Includes: -Ground transportation from Lincolnville ME, mid-point resupply cost (you provide the food, etc.) packing list, and on-trail skills instruction. Meal assistance is available by arrangement.
-Up to 2 hours of pre-trip preparation consultation (via phone) is provided to participants. Group size is limited to 4.

19th Annual Winter Camping Symposium-Oct 26 -29, 2017.  YMCA Camp Miller, 89382 E Frontage Rd, Sturgeon Lake, M.

Tenting with Bad Influence on Moosehead Lake

I will be presenting at this excellent immersion weekend in Minnesota. Topics to be determined.  I gave the Keynote address here in 2014.

23rd Snow Walkers Rendezvous -November 10-12, 2017 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont.
Includes presentations, workshops, information about wilderness trips and amazing food! Participants may choose to stay in cabins, tents or commute to the event.
I hope to offer a new presentation: Winter Fat Tire Biking/Camping in new Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.





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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

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