Tim Smith at Snow Walker’s Rendezvous

The 2013 edition of the Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous in Fairlee, VT was a superb.  Many tents were set up with wood smoke puffing out of 4″  stovepipes. Over 100 people attended the sold out weekend.

We opted for a heated bunk room, took in the displays at the vendor tables, and scored up front row seats in the big room for Friday night’s  program.

Willem Lange kicked off the program with a reading of a couple of his highly entertaining Vermont- based stories. Will’s vitae includes 8 books, numerous careers, and founding the Geriatric Adventure Society.

For me, the highlight of the evening was Tim Smith‘s talk-  “Nature as Wallpaper” .  Tim is a nationally known bushcraft and survival skills instructor, with his Jack Mountain Bushcraft School running courses out of Marsadis, Maine.  He posted an entry about his talk on his blog.

Tim  told attendees that his talk would be on the web, soon.   Here is the podcast of that presentation-  it’s short, but drives right to the point.  Tim is an authentic voice connecting people to the natural world.  I hope to take a course with him.

iTunes Link | Play, Download Or Subscribe In iTunes
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 13:45 — 15.7MB)

Where the Wild Things are – Adam Bradley goes 4700 miles!

From time to time I post from other peoples’ blogs related to hiking, biking, and the outdoor experience.  Here’s one with content that stands out above and beyond what you’d expect.

On October 5, I posted an entry about my disappointment with Fatbiking the Arctic- to date, an apparently failed Kickstarter project which I funded.  This was in response to  Outside Magazine’s Oct. 4,  update on the project, which appears to have been halted in the town of Pink Mountain, somewhere near the southern start point of the Alaska Highway.  That article is here- Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt.

Today I will highlight an hour long interview with another Yukon/Alaskan adventurer, but this trip was a resounding success.

Krudmeister is one of my online friends, and I know that I’ll  meet him in person someday.  This April, Krud completed a 4,700 mile human powered trip on bike, foot, and canoe.

Here’s the lead-in, from Trail Runner Nation-    “Our second interview with Adam Bradley, aka Krudmeister, a record-holding long-distance trekker!  The last time we talked to him he had just set a world record for a self supported Pacific Crest Trail trek. This summer Adam did a self-supported, human-powered trek over 4700 miles from Reno, NV to the Bearing Sea in Alaska. This is an amazing story of endurance. We talk “Krudmeister” about his 2 1/2 month journey through some of the American Continents most beautiful country, the wildlife he encountered, and his determination to keep going day after day.”

Krudmeister rode his bike from his doorway in Reno, NV up through Glacier National Park into British Columbia, Jasper, the Icefields Parkway, then Alaska’s Cassiar/Stewart Highways, all the way up to Skagway, Alaska, completing that segment of 2,847 miles ( in just 31 days).

Chilkoot Pass photo by Adam Bradley

Then he backpacked his gear up the historic Chilkoot Pass, where he reached Lake Bennet.

Lake Bennnet photo by Adam Bradley

Here, at the headwaters of the Yukon River, he assembled a packable canoe,  and successfully navigated all 1,858 miles of  the Yukon River, where he reached the end point at the Bering Sea.

He used a small wood stove for cooking, kept his supply packages to two only, and also managed to send himself a shotgun, which him behind a couple of days due to a regulatory hassle.

Here’s the link for the podcast .

Here’s the link to his entire trip.

Enjoy.  What really impresses me is that he did this solo.  Krud not only put it out there, he delivered.   If Andrew Skurka gets on the March 2011 cover of National Geographic for 4,679 human powered miles through Alaska and the  Yukon territory, don’t you think Adam Bradley deserves increased national exposure?

Outside Magazine, HELLO ?

FSTPKR: Human power from Reno to the Bering Sea

FSTPKR: BLC to the Bering Sea.—-< Click. Now!
You absolutely have to check out what Krudmeister is up to this season. It is practically inconceivable to me that someone has both the interest and the skills to undertake a solo excursion that combines bicycling to Alaska from Reno, then backpacking the Chilkoot Trail out of Skagway, then assembling a kayak and following traversing the length of the Yukon River, all the way to the Bering Sea! What is even more inconceivable is that in this day and age, there will probably be no one who will read about Krud’s adventure in the sport section of a newspaper, where we are exposed to the daily whining of multimillion dollar base and basketball stars.
Krud is one of my virtual friends. He figured into a couple of my gear acquisitions.  I came to know  him when he and Scott Williamson broke the Pacific Crest Trail Speed record, I think in 2006.  I went to my local Patagonia outlet and showed them his blog. He was and maybe still is a Patagonia customer service employee.  He was trumping up their Houdini jacket, and one of the employees gave me one, that I used on my PCT and Long Trail thru hikes. It is still as good as new.

Then he posted a picture of some wildly garish New Balance shoes that I tracked down through my brother Roy, who works for the company. They are a product that is sold in Japan.
I though of Krudmeister yesterday when I was aglow with the shoes on my birthday.
Krud, want a pair to wear when you get back?

An Inuit Builder Crafts His Last Canoe : NPR

An Inuit Builder Crafts His Last Canoe  by Emma Jacobs

via An Inuit Builder Crafts His Last Canoe : NPR.

Joe was the native guide on a 200 mile canoe trip I took on the Grand River in Labrador several years ago. He was the kindest, most humble, and most knowledgeable outdoors man I have ever met.  Joe, and especially his brother Horace, are probably the last of the line to possess the encyclopedia of skills that encompass trapping, bush survival skills, hunting, and survival in the harshest environment I have ever traversed.  For a glimpse of this life, read Rugge and Davidson’ Great Heart, now back in print.  I consider Great Heart a treasure of a read, one that I have enjoyed several times.  The book inspired my own motorcycle trip to Labrador in 1993, when my friend Alan MacKinnon and I were the among the first motorcyclists to traverse the newly constructed gravel-and-sand Trans Labrador Highway. The mosquitoes there were so bad that nothing I have encountered since seems too bad, including a month in Alaska and 6 months on the PCT.

Lost in the Wild

Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North WoodsLost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods by Cary J Griffith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

O my God! I was totally absorbed into, and moved to tears by this book. It is a dual soundtrack experience, the true story of two young men who become thoroughly lost in the same area, but several years apart (1998, 2001) . The writing is excellent, not much to skip over, plus there are actual maps to refer to.
You are viscerally transported to the boggy, nearly impenetrable landscapes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quentico Provincial Park. We’re talking big trees, thick boreal treescapes, black flies, and mosquitoes.
Both stories start off as many of us have experienced, one a solo backpacking weekend, the other a Boy Scout canoeing expedition where the lead Eagle Scout guide become separated from his charges.
I’ve read stories like this before, where the rescuers open a shelter and 100% believe they will find a corpse inside. What comes to mind is the incomparable Great Heart, by Rugge and Davidson.
There are innumerable factual references to wilderness survival skills here as well, as the author successfully yo-yoed me up and down into the consciousness of two suffering, desperate men. The break was needed. Brutal stuff, observing death approaching, in this case cadaver sniffing dogs, capable of detecting a corpse sunken beneath the cover of a sphagnum bog.
I got a glimpse into the portal to real-life terror this past June, in the deep snow cover over the invisible Pacific Crest Trail, when I was twice lost. The courage to survive can take many forms and some may not be easy to stomach.
Best quote of the book: “A great thirst is a great joy when quenched in time.” Edward Abbey.

View all my reviews

Canoe camping with a new woodburing backpacking stove

I was supposed to be up to Lobster Lake today, starting a three day canoe trip, but it got postponed. We’ve moved it to next week. We could not deal with this record rain, it has not stopped. Should be a good trip, food and coffee will be featured, plus I hope to be testing a new titanium wood backpacking stove, the Bushcooker Lite, which was just released by Don Kivilus, of Four Dog Stoves, out of Minnesota.   Here is a shot of the stove:

Bushcooker Light 2

Bushcooker Light 2.

This stove is only 4 inches in diameter and 5 inches high and weighs 3.5 ounces.  Don has engineered it so that it burns alcohol, solid fuel tabs, charcoal, wood, or any available biomass. I’ll have videos and a full report after next week.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway – Final day/8

I woke up with a startle after I remembered that it was my 37th wedding anniversary and that I had just spent the night in a tent with Mike Gundel instead of my wife Marcia.  Or was it tomorrow?
We had our last breakfast together.

Gus the cook

Gus the cook

Gus and Beck had eggs, and Mike and I each had another  wagon wheel pancake with bacon.

Mike and the wagon wheels

Mike and the wagon wheels

The river this last day was holding maximum water, with many more audible feeds streams swelling the flow rate.  It broadened out as well.
Mike and I had many chances on whitewater today, as we successfully dealt with two major sections of Class II rapids in the 12 miles of river this morning.  In the end, we only had two really close brushes with swamping our canoe, along with the usual numerous near mishaps. Both times Mike and I abandoned the canoe, jumping out into the rushing waters.  We eventually pushed,  pulled,  and leaned the craft over enough to slide off the partially submerged ledges. A few times, we  careened off serious boulders that we did not have the time, experience, or both to avoid.
We’ve finished the trip in 8 days.

Uncle Tom and Captain Mike complete the trip

Uncle Tom and Captain Mike complete the trip

Canada is in sight.  The takeout is right before the bridge in the village of Allagash on the Canadian border, within sight of the confluence of the Allagash and mighty Saint John rivers. After we hauled the canoes up to shore, we walked up a hill.   The first house west of the river is Evelyn McBride’s place. Even though it was approaching noon it was cold out.

Cold morning

Cold morning

We knocked on her door as instructed by the shuttle service. The local outfitters park their customer’s cars on Mrs. Mc Bride’s property so that the cars will be near the landing when customers finish their trips.  Evelyn charges $2 per day for parking and $1 for landing.  Mrs. McBride lives alone.

Evelyn McBride

Evelyn McBride

She told us that her husband died 30 years ago, had been in the lumber business, and that she was 92 years old. She was a Pelletier, and the Pellitiers had owned this river frontage for several generations and formerly operated the ferry across the river where there is now a bridge and the canoe landing.    Mrs. Mc Bride appears to be to be related to most everyone in town.
After we placed the canoe on the rack of Mke’s car, he reviewed some visual history from our trip on the river.

“Damn, I lost the crown of my tooth!”  exclaimed Mike, just as he was enjoying the the cheeseburger special and fries at Rock’s diner in Fort Kent.

Crowning moment at lunch

Crowning moment at lunch

We were eating an early lunch.
Mike and I had been reviewing the partial list of challenges that we have faced over the course of the week:  the remote location, lack of personnel to rescue us if we encountered an emergency, black flies and mosquitos, below freezing temperatures, incessant wind on the big waters, rain, wet feet ( daily), cuts on my hands, hot temperatures and humidity, a sleep deprivation experiment involving a wild mob of 23 Russians, black and blue hip from slipping and falling on the rocks ( Mike only), bare miss of hitting a canoe broadside that had crossed out path at the last minute while we were exiting a rapid, reversed waves on the river due to high winds, at least one day of steady 30 MPH winds that halted our forward progress at 10 AM.
The Allagash trip would pose most, or all,  of these challenges to anyone. Note that the list above does not even include our lack of technical skills needed in the rapids.  Mike and I  worked very well as a team, and Mike revealed that after taking in Gus’ s advice he sometimes was reciting the Lord’s prayer after only counting to three.
We both feel that we’ve received much more from being in the outdoors than we expected.  Up here, Mike and I  strengthened an already deep bond that began way back on that rope belay on Hurricane Island when Mike held me from the end of the rope on the ground, and I swallowed hard, leaned forward , gave it all up, and flew into the sky.