Camping at Shin Pond Village? Not Tonight !

I am here alone at Shin Pond in a 5 person cabin at  Shin Pond Village (It’s a 100 acre estabishment) for my gig this weekend at the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail‘s annual weekend of meetings.  Shin Pond is the real deal.  It is the absolute last settlement as you approach the northern entrances of both Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

I’ve worked up a new presentation entitled  “The Allure of the Long Distance Hike”  to share with the whole group after dinner on Saturday night,  at Mt. Chase Lodge. I enjoyed my stay at the Lodge last March the night the night before I packed up my fat tire bike, load it with overnight gear and explored the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument for a couple days.

Biking The Monument

Here is the link to that blog post, complete with pics of the Monument and Mt. Chase Lodge.

The Maine section of the IAT/SIA is 130 miles long. Heading north from the Katahdin Lake East (KLE) Access trailhead of Baxter State Park, the route passes through boreal forests and follows trails, old logging roads, an abandoned railroad bed, and rural public roads to the potato fields of Aroostook County. Beyond Fort Fairfield, the trail enters New Brunswick.

After I read the following yesterday I planned to hang at a campsite tonight and sleep in my Honda Element.  With the rear seats folded to the sides, I have 6’6″ to lay my sleeping mat and bag down and either look out the window above my head or if the night is right, have that window open to the stars.

But 44 degrees, mud, clumps of ice and snow on the ground and hard rain convinced me to trade up to a warm cozy room for $36 .

So, I’ll watch The Untouchables on the DVD player, while eating a piece of coconut creme pie from Dysart’s .  Shaping up to be a good weekend.

 

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.

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.

Prepare for my Aug.6 presentation at THE 41st APPALACHIAN TRAIL CONSERVANCY CONFERENCE – AUGUST 4 – 11, 2017 AT COLBY COLLEGE | WATERVILLE, MAINE
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.

 

 

 

 

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

The New Wisdom: 6 Long-Trail Legends Share Hard-Won Advice

Reblogging this 1/4/17 article from The Hiking Project!

Welcome to the low pay lives of some of the best hikers in the world!

Not A Chance,
Not A Chance, Billy Goat, Wyoming, 20 Pack, Freebird, Wired

I have hiked and sometimes camped with 5 of these 6 folks, on my 2010 PCT and 2013 CDT thru-hikes. They are all truly genuine individuals.  Freebird told me that his goal every year that he thru hikes is to be the first person on and the last person off the trail.

Here is a pic of me and Billy Goat on Sept. 8, 2014 at the Millinocket Hannaford’s in when Billygoat was resupplying while he was providing car support for a buddy who was hiking the International AT from Katahdin to Quebec.

Uncle Tom and Billygoat
Uncle Tom and Billygoat

Read the whole article here–>>>The New Wisdom: 6 Long-Trail Legends Share Hard-Won Advice

Actually, there is a “right way” to backpack

When the Adventurer of the Year from both Outside and National Geographic Adventure magazines speaks, I listen!

“Actually, there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to backpack.In this sense, backpacking is like driving a car, learning to play the violin, baking a cake, or installing a toilet. I suppose you could do it your own way, but you may get hurt, you will not improve as quickly as you should, you may be unsatisfied with the end product, and you may have to mop up sewage that leaked through the wax gasket. What is the right way to backpack?”

Source: Actually, there is a “right way” to backpack

First Time Inside Maine’s National Monument

This past Columbus Day weekend, I finally set foot on the spanking new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.   It was easy.

To the Monument!
To the Monument!

I followed a marked, signed 1.8 mile trail from Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps on the (Map Adventures) Katahdin/Baxter State Park map.   I was spending the four day weekend at Windy Pitch cabin at the most excellent Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps (KLWC), which is presently into year 7 of their 20 year lease from Baxter State Park.

Windy Pitch cabin
Windy Pitch cabin

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).

Downeast Magazine has an excellent review on the Monument that is full of  tips, pictures, and places to go.

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.

Logging in present Baxter lands previous to State Park
Logging in present Baxter lands previous to 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.

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Ivan  heading out of Katahdin Lake

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.

Southern End of the IAT into Monument
Southern End of the IAT into Monument

The lean-to was built in 2012, of standard log construction with a new outhouse nearby. There was water flowing close for drinking ( purify!).

Katahdin Brook lean-to
Katahdin Brook lean-to

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.

Bushwhacking it is!
Bushwhacking it is!

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 a Wrap: Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness

On Friday, I finished up my third complete hike of Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail.

The first time I hiked through The Hundred was with my whole family:  my wife Marcia, my two boys Lincoln and Arlo, and my sister-in-law V8 and Ruth, a family friend.  It might have been 1989.  I hiked it again in 2007, on my AT thru hike. You can read about that effort from my Traijournal here.
Hiking The Hundred is difficult, with many people underestimating the challenges. Going south, the elevation gain is 18,500 feet, with elevation losses (downhills) of 18,000 feet.  img_8334  The perennially slippery trail is punctuated with beaucoup roots ,rocks, and many split-log elevated walkways.

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AT thru-hikers walking through this prelude to Katahdin are propelled by an overwhelming sense of wanting to be done with it all, with few taking the time to do side trips, like the superb Gulf Hagas loop.
I had originally planned for a ten day journey, with plenty of time for swimming, and possibly a side trip to Gulf Hagas. We came out in 7 days instead, pushing the daily average to about 15 miles.
Here is a particularly good article detailing The Hundred that appeared in Backpacking LIght magazine.
The Hundred is made up of two distinctly different trips of approximately 50 miles each.  The southern section is an advanced hike, with the other half, (Crawford Pond headed north) a beginner’s effort when walked at  8-10 miles a day, with the exception of a relatively short but steep ascent of the prehistoric Nesuntabunt Mountain.

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Heading out

If you want to taste the Hundred, then plant your car at Abol Bridge and get a shuttle from Ole Man at the AT Lodge to the drop off at Crawford Pond where you would head north for 4 nights. Alternatively, catch a float plane shuttle from Katahdin Air,  which drops you off on the shore of Crawford Pond where  side trail puts you on the AT in 100 feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ready for lift-off

Three and a half miles after you depart Crawford Pond you reach the pool in front of Cooper Brook Falls shelter- a must swim.  Enjoy more swimming at Antler Camps, and Sand Beach at Lower Jo-Mary Lake.

If you have the bucks , consider a side trip of 1.1 miles and splurging for a night at the Nahmakanta Lake Sporting Camps.    I haven done that yet , but plan to do so the next time I go through.

Make no mistake, spending  a week backpacking The Hundred is tough.  If you stuff your pack with lots of food, you can eat your way as you move along. My rationing of  a 3,000 calorie a day plan resulted in a 6 pound weight loss for the 7 days it took me to make this 100 mile trip.