My Summer Break

I’ve had four days of varied amount of outdoor experiences. I’ve taken time off from my usual routine of mixing work and the same old recreational routes to open myself up to what can best be described as microadventures, a term I credit to Alistair Humphries, author of one of my favorite books.

Both my sons Lincoln and Arlo are visiting for 5 days with their respective partners, Stephanie and Alanna.  I’m blessed with family members who are adventurous individuals, that are vigorous enough that they can engage in little excursions that pop up as possibilities.

On Thursday, Lincoln and I joined up with a half dozen or so of my mountain biking group, The Bubbas, for a rock and root punctuated couple of hours of pounding the meandering trails built on Ragged Mountain’s Snow Bowl recreation area.

We came, we mounted bikes, we survived!

 

Post Ride Recaps

On Thursday, Alanna, Stephanie, Lincoln, and I went 4.7 miles up Ragged Mountain, from the opposite side of the biking that Lincoln and I did the night before.

Up Ragged from Hope Street

This ascent is challenging as well with a relatively flat run at the beginning, with the trail turning much ore rocky and vertical.

Going up!

Stephanie and Alanna hiked strongly in the lead and went even a bit further than this map indicates, and actually made it to the Ragged’s summit tower.   Lincoln and I explored  this view when we hung out for a short while waiting for Steph and Alanna to come down from the actual summit.

Northwest view form Ragged ledges

Swimming and hanging at camp was a welcome break from the heat and humidity.

On Saturday, Lincoln and I went fishing.  In 2008, my friend Mike Gundel and I shared a canoe on our early season 8 day thru-paddle of  Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Check out that story and view photos here.  The theme of that adventure was, “The Russians are coming!”

Mike is a Maine Guide who specializes in fishing.  He was available on short notice and provided the canoes, rods, and tackle we needed to catch largemouth bass.  What are the chances that Mike chose to take us fishing on one of the bodies of water that are depicted in the Ragged ledge panorama depicted above ?

We met Mike at the put in at 7 AM, where the next four hours flew by as Mike guided us around the lake to where we actually caught fish!   I caught three fish, including a largemouth that was eyeballed in the 3.5 pound range.

 

Bang!

My 4 day run of fun included an outdoor wedding on the ocean shore in Tenants Harbor that took up Saturday after noon and late into the night.  Marcia and I made the wedding but had to pass on the revelry at the reception.

The next morning, folks were sleeping in. I decided to make the usual Bubba Church Sunday morning mountain bike ride,  again up Ragged Mountain with a different route than Thursday night’s ride. It was the most humidity I’ve ever remembered on a ride, some 96%.  I left the parking lot and went up 15 minutes before the rest of the group started and decided to keep going at one of the designated intersections, due to unrelenting assault by mosquitoes.  I tried to relay my plan via  text to one of the guys but my fingers, phone screen, and every piece of cloth that I had on my body, and even in the pockets of my day pack were saturated and I couldn’t make the screen respond to input.

I left them this message of sorts.   Uncle Tom is my rail name-  has been since 2007:

Trail talk

Just before I took off I heard bikes clattering and surging through the rocky, rooted trail and we all descended the ext downhill on the slops:  the G5 Connector, where I ended up flatting my rear tire.  After I put a tube in the tire, I put my air pump to the task but that  had to wait until I was able to reattach the pump’s air hose, which never happened before!

It’s been quite a different four days for me- this stretch this of mid-August microadventures- one that I’ll repeatedly appreciate as I fall under the spell of euphoric recall !

Slogging out Maine Miles in November

November is a tough month to ride a mountain bike in Maine.

Connector from Norton Pond to Megunticook Lake

I enjoy exiting my garage to ride single track, active as well as discontinued snowmobile trails, along the edges of fields, and up and over some ancient stone walls. What makes all of this tougher right now is deer hunting season, where Mainers deck themselves out in blaze orange, and hunt from dawn to dusk in the hopes of shooting a sizable deer, which can go a long way in filling up the freezer, mostly for venison stew. This year, rifle season runs from October 29 to November 24. Two more days are left. I stay out of the woods throughout November except for Sundays when there is no hunting allowed.

We had two  half foot snowfalls here this past week, making for good hunting conditions, due to the ability to track deer activity through the snow cover. The first soft snows are not so good for biking in the woods. The ground is barely frozen, and some  hunters get around in the woods on all terrain vehicles, heading in and out to their camps and tree stands on land they own or have permission to use and they rut up the back woods.

Rigger grinding through muck

With all the rain we’ve had this past month, riding off-road is mostly weaving in and out of ruts, seeking out solid sections of ground, and dodging black pools of questionable depths of icy water that has not yet frozen solid enough to ride over.

This calendar year, Stevie, one of the members of our loosely-knit mountain biking group dubbed The Bubbas, has been in hot pursuit of a major offload goal for any off-road rider- amassing 2,500 non-pavement miles in 2018. Stevie lives on the edge of The Rockland/Thomaston Bog and can, on any given day, crank out a 12 mile out and back route to put toward his lofty mileage goal. It’s also nice country in there, when it is not churned up  like it was today.

My Ice Cream Truck will follow Rigger left of this mess

Ten Bubbas, including two women, met at Stevie’s this past Suday morning, to stitch together a route, with Stevie’s first tracks as a guide all the way out to our eventual turn around point at Split Rock. With ten riders’ fat-tire tracks running back and forth within a foot wide width of trail, we were build up a packed track for some future rides.

I ride with clipped pedals in spring, summer, and fall, and switch to flat pedals and regular winter boots for the winter. They are a full size larger than I need, which allows me to insert chemical heat packs when it is below freezing out. After about a half hour of riding today, my left pedal broke apart, so I was forced to complete the ride on the slippery metal axle. It worked out, and I was repeatedly thankful that the axle held, and that I didn’t have to hike a bike miles back to the car.

Even with being careful in getting through the wetter sections, I did get one boot under water, and had a cold foot for the rest of the morning. I had good energy today, which was consistent with the results of  thoday’s  heart rate variability reading right after I woke up this morning. My mountain biking mileage goals are more moderate that Steve’s,  with just 1,000 for my year.

My Garmin eTrex30 GPS flubbed today so I copied  Rigger’s Strava feed to record those miles. I’m up to 919 miles of biking with just 81 more miles left to complete before New Year’s.  Those miles are much harder to snag in November !

Rigger on ice in The Bog (2014)

Happy Birthday to Me

I boss myself and set my own work schedule so I celebrate my birthday with a solo hike or ride. With all the snow around and the temperatures below freezing at dawn, I chose to ride Camden Hills State Park this year. Refrozen snow is good. Thawing snow isn’t, for biking that is.

Whenever I go out on a hike or ride, I hope to notice something interesting. Today it was connecting shade and north slope conditions with good solid track to ride upon.

The Camden Hill State Park is a 10 minute drive away.

Heading Up

I started up the mile long climb on fairly packed surface- many folks walk this section, some with their dogs, and it shows.

Eventually I reached the left tun for Bald Rock Mountain, a 1,000 prominence that overlooks the Atlantic.

It has been deep enough with snow that snowmobiles have gone to the top yesterday. None up there today. I am trying to make the full 5 miles on this Multipurpose Trail and then turn around and come back. I am racing sunshine, which has the capacity to soften the surface of the trail and cause my 5” tires to sink in and wallow.

In the next mile, the Multipurpose Road flattens out and is bordered by hemlocks and spruce trees that not only shade the surface from the sun, but hold the cold overnight. Grip is better here.

Soon I encounter the right tun for the Summer Bypass Trail, left untouched all winter. You can see that entrance right above the top of my front tire.

At the 2.5 mile mark I reach the Ski Shelter, empty this morning.

I will enter on my way back and drink water and eat a snack.

Still pushing to preserve firm snow.

From this point to the Route 1 side of the Park, there is much less foot traffic , with a clean snowmobile track from a rider who probably came through here last night or early this AM.

I stopped just at the water tower, turned around, and came back, deciding to take a left up the Cameron Mountain Trail, a decision which was aided by fresh snowmobile tracks and two sets of foot prints going that way.

Cameron Mountain is at the very edge of the State Park. The snowmobile track swoops around the summit and then twists and descends through private property when it eventually crosses Youngstown Road and heads for Lincolnville Center. The down hill is steep and fast, but my Ice Cream Truck embraces the wobble and delivers.

I decide to continue on the snowmobile trail rather than ride the pavement of Youngtown Road back to the car. I discover a huge hay field where I thought that I had lost the trail, but then I saw a tiny red trail sign far across the center of the field.

Winding my way down toward the village, I encountered an active logging operation that I was able to ride through with little difficulty.

After more than two hours of pedaling, I decided to get a breakfast sandwich and a coffee at Drake’s corner store where I took this distorted selfie in the window.

My car was still three miles away. I do not like riding on Rt. 173, due to the narrow road and inattentive drivers, so I decided to gamble on the abandoned section of Thurlow Road being tracked in.

After dodging thinly iced-over water at the start, I encountered unbroken soft snow as far as I could see. I decided to walk the bike through. I was tiring, with my heart rate spiking to 155 beats per minute through the snow. Soon I encountered a little maple sugaring operation half way through service via a couple of ATV ruts that assisted me getting back to better track.

A sort while later I was back on pavement, where I took a left on Youngtown Rd. and had a leisurely couple of miles on pavement back to my car and home. Today was a great start to my next season of exploring my local trails.

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

A Most Pleasant First Trail Ride on Mount Pleasant (2017 version)

The first 2017 group ride with The Bubba to the top of Mount Pleasant in the Warren/West Rockport area had it all- mud, ice, stream riding, and even more snow than expected.  The approach from Route 90 departed from the old parking lot at East Coast Rover’s now defunct location, newly recycled as another car/truck repair facility.  Thanks to Bubba management for gaining permission for us to park there after work hours.

I was very pleased with my ride today- the most successful technical excursion up and down Pleasant ever for me.

Very pleasant on top today.

Atlantic Ocean overlook

Not only did I clear the challenge of ascending Baby Head Hill, I was finally able to loft the front end of my Surly Ice Cream Truck up a pesky little ledge on the section from the Three Way op to the power line after the screaming descent off the summit.

Here is a video of the crew maintaining a controlled skid on the steep, rock-strewn line off the summit itself. 

Today, it might have even helped to have stable ice and refrozen snow smoothing out the trail a bit.  The Bubbas take climbing in stride- in fact if you can’t tolerate climbing forest trails in this part of Maine, you’ll stay home.  S

See?

Veloviewer/Strava connection of this ride

Most of the Bubbas carry folding saws in our packs.  We clear trails as we go, especially this time of year.

Craig Nelson and Nate sawing up fallen tree while John Anders supervises.

Later, we transitioned to riding up the stream that put us on the backside of the mountain just below the blueberry field that set us up for the finish of the ride.

This last wet climb set up a relatively long decent that was a fitting ending to a spring day blissfully absent of the impending blackflies, mosquitoes, and heat.

A most Pleasant morning was spent at my personal Sunday Church of Two Wheels.

Winter Bikepacking in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument- Part 2/2

IMG_9546

Despite being the only guest in the Mount Chase Lodge last night I was served a most excellent breakfast at 7:30, the time of my choice. Sky prepared pancakes, fruit slices, and bacon from a pig that had secured full employment here, on table scrap  duty this past season.  Fresh coffee, home made muffins and a fresh fruit bowl rounded out the meal.

Smilin’ Sky’s the guy
I was more than willing to take up Sky’s offer of leftover bacon and last night’s brisket.  At two degrees outside, I was not concerned about food spoilage.

I’ve waited for this winter bike camping trip for a long time. My last bike packing trip was in 2012 on the Sunrise Trail when I joined my neighbor and biking pal Andy Hazen on a stretch from Ellsworth toward  Cobscook Bay. You can check out that most interesting bikepacking trip  here.

I have that same Surly Pugsley now. It was the perfect choice for these two pristine winter biking days.

Rollins Trails/ Ragged/Snow Bowl
It’s a fat tire bike, with 4 inch wide tires, inflated to 7 pounds of pressure, enabling the wide footprint to track easily over this packed groomed snow.

It is a 15 mile ride directly west over a roller coaster of a tarred road from Mt. Chase Lodge to the parking lot for the Monument.

Ask the staff at the Lodge about the signage that marks the left turn after the bridge over the Penobscot River just before the end of the pavement.  A short drive down a plowed gravel road leads to a small parking lot where the winter trail begins.

I parked right next to Guthook’s VW, as we were the only visitors here for these two days.

The map on the KWWNM website is detailed enough to be all you’ll need.  One caution-print your own copy in color.  Mine was in gray scale. I would have been easier  to navigate if my map was color coordinated with the  red, orange, yellow, and blue triangles marking intersections and trails.

With my parking pass visible on the dashboard, I unloaded the bike from inside my Honda Element and took off, smiling from ear to ear at the superb condition of the surface beneath my wheels.   Access to trails and these huts is free of charge, however, overnight use requires reservations.

Hard to tell if smiling !
There hasn’t been any fresh snow here for more than a week.  KWWNM’s snowmobiles tow dedicated groomers that have packed the trail!   There were two faint cross country ski grooves that I stayed out of, preferring to ride to the side of the fresh snowmobile track.

The surface was not at all icy, but composed of groomed snow that refroze into a decent grip of a track.

This screen shot of my Strava feed summarizes my mileage, speed, and moving time.   It was a relatively quick 10 mile ride into Big Spring Brook Brook Hut.

Here’s the elevation profile.

There were three parts  to this ride.

The first was four miles over relatively flat terrain on the Messer Pond-Orrin Falls Road, an old logging path eventually passing through a summer gate leading to Haskell Hut on the shore of the expansive Haskell Deadwater.

Overflowed stream beside winter trail
Haskell Lodge is only a tenth of a mile off the trail and is worth a rest stop.

It is the smaller of the two cabins that are options for your over night in The Monument.   The doors are unlocked, but day users are asked to refrain from using the propane cook burners, lights, and firewood.

These are community huts, where everyone is welcome up to the maximum number of sleeping platforms and reservations are required.

Next, I rode along the edge of the Deadwater where I made a brief stop at the spectacular view at Haskell Rock Pitch.  I heard it well before I saw it.      Impressive!

From there the trail enters thicker, older forest for almost a mile when you reach a fork.   With the spring melt down, extra caution is advised with regards to deep meltdown holes on the bridges and sections of deep animal tracks on the trail.

This is dangerous:

The riding is fast and the setting is isolated.


The last segent  starts with a right on the blue diamond trail for three more miles or so out past Little Messer Pond where the path ascends to a high point on 900 feet.

  You will know a turn is coming when you pass over a flowing stream up high and then see the signage pointing left for the 0.3 mile descent into Big Spring Brook Brook Hut.

Big Spring Brook Hut
It took me two hours to cover the 10 mile distance, which included stops for photos, and my snack break at Haskell Hut.   Guthook skied in earlier, pulling a plastic sled that was loaded with 5 days worth of food and gear.  It took him 5 hours.   Fat bikes shine under these travel  conditions.

Big Spring Brook Brook Hut is appointed with basic pots and pans, and is heated with a wood stove with drying racks above for hanging wet clothing.

Water in drawn from the stream in front, with an outhouse out back. There is a large sleeping loft as well and half dozen wooden sleeping platforms on the first floor. The capacity of his hut is listed as sixteen.

Guthook and I combined forces to come up with a superb one pot supper.  I added  Mt. Chase Lodge’s bacon and brisket to his tortellini, cheese, and tomato sauce.

This trip was brief but rewarding. I spent one night sharing the Lodge with Guthook, who was bushwhacking round the area on several long day hikes.

The snow was solid enough that you could walk anywhere, and with no leaves on the trees your line of sight is immeasurably better in the winter than in the summer when the green word covers all.    It was a most satisfying and unique experience for us to warm ourselves by the glowing embers of the stove as we pondered the vast wilderness surrounding us.

I joked with Guthook that we finally made  time to do nothing.

We were the only people spending our time within this  87,000 acre  National Monument. God bless America!

And I thank you, Roxanne and Lucas, for allowing me to have this unique place to explore for the rest of my life !

MONUMENT RESERVATION INFORMATION:

Mark and Susan Adams
Elliotsville Plantation INC.
Recreation Managers
881 Shin Pond Road
PO Box 662 Patten Me. 04765
Susan,  207-852-1291
Mark,  207-670-8418
Lunksoos@gmail.com
katahdinwoods.org
Facebook: Katahdin Woods & Waters
Maps and info to KWWNM  at www.nps.gov/kaww

The staff at Mt. Chase Lodge are knowledgeable about current trail conditions and travel within The Monument.  They are ready to serve as a launch point for your own adventure.  Information and Reservations: (207) 528-2183

A Microadventure in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument- Part 1

Prequel:    “Bear and Sparkles say come on up! The fat biking is great :-)”

I missed this sign for the  Mt. Chase Lodge when I passed through here a few minutes ago.

  I’m headed 14 miles further down a roller coaster of a frost-heaved road to explore the northern end of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument for a couple days.   Bear and Sparkles are the trail names for two of my hiker pals.

Bear and Sparkles

I walked with both of them for the last cold wet days as the thee of us completed our thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail  in 2010. The couple are the two full time winter staff at Mt. Chase Lodge.    Bear and I are also Maine-based Triple Crown Hikers, who also shared the Appalachian and Continental Divide Trails in 2007 and 2013.

Sparkles is a Registered Maine Guide.

My Honda Element is the only vehicle that is not a 4WD pickup truck in the parking lot outside the tiny convenience store here beside Shin Pond . I plunked down two packs of chemical hand warmers and a bottle of Gatorade on the counter.

“Ya think yer gonna get yer hands frozen, dear?” asked the perky woman behind the counter. She reminded me of my mom, who turns 91 this summer.
“I’m buying these so my hands don’t get cold. Didn’t it drop to zero here last night?” I replied.
Welcome to Shin Pond, a tiny rural settlement in bona fide rural Maine that has registered several of the coldest winter readings on record.  Three locals were gathered around a table behind me.

I asked the clerk for directions to the Lodge, when one of the fellows chimed right in, ” Go up across the bridge, head up the hill and take your second right”.

I  made it up here after I received a spur of the moment invitation from my hiker pal Guthook to visit him on his own 5 day adventure in the winter Maine woods.

Despite my last minute decision to drive north, I had my reservation completed and parking pass in hand within 30 minutes of logging onto the KWWNM website, and never left the house to do so.  The whole exchange was assisted by an actual person, who was e-mailing me back and forth.  I made a reservation for Big Spring Brook Hut, which is a recently built log cabin, that is unstaffed and set up with propane fuel for cooking and lights, pots and pans, coffee percolator, water jug, airtight wood stove, and stove wood.
Although the Monument promotes travel only via skis, snowshoes, bicycles, and on foot the major winter trails are groomed at least weekly by snowmobiles.
The cost to enter the Monument and stay in the tent sites, shelters, and huts right now is zero, but that will change after the Monument goes through it’s period of public input as it crafts the rules and procedures that will ensure that this most unique gift is used to it’s  potential.
On August 24, 2016, President Obama signed an executive order designating 87,000 acres to the east of Baxter States Park as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The previous day Roxanne Quimby, of Bert’s Bees fame,  transferred that land to the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The Monument came complete with a  $20,000,000 cash gift as well as  a pledge to raise an additional $20,000,000 in matching public funds.    Despite the lingering opposition to the Monument’s very existence, I believe that there is more than enough open space in this vastness of forest to provide for the needs of those of us who seek opportunities to backpack and immerse our spirits in the healing forces of trees and leaves.   There are more than three and a half million acres of timber growing in The North Maine Woods. The Monument’s footprint is exactly 0.024% of that vastness. Fact check this yourself by standing on Katahdin’s summit to  view a undulating sea of green that stretches out to the horizon along every single one of those 360 degrees of sight line.  Haven’t we all just worked this out?

The Monument is staffed by Recreation Managers who work out of Lunksoos Camps, a most historic establishment in it’s own right.  When the 12 year old Donn Fendler stumbled out of the Maine wilderness in 1939,  he came out on near Lunksoos.   His shriveled and pin cushioned body was administered to and the nation’s newspapers and radio stations came to Maine to report the events recalled in Donn’s classic book Lost In The Maine Woods.

Tomorrow I head into the Monument, but tonight I’m staying here at Mt. Chase Lodge, on upper Shin Pond,  all by my lonesome.     I love looking at the historic photos of the trophy deer and bear that were harvested in this area.

From their brochure:

“Mt Chase Lodge was established in 1960 as a recreational sporting lodge catering to sportsmen, hikers, family vacationers, snowmobilers and other outdoor oriented folks who appreciate the adventure and tranquility of the north Maine woods.   Situated on the shore of Upper Shin Pond, in a quiet wooded setting, our comfortable lodge and private cabins offer excellent accommodations. Full bathrooms, automatic heat and electricity, and cooking equipment for those who prefer, are offered year round.”

The Lodge itself rents 8 rooms, and four cabins.  My  three course dinner was top notch and prepared by Bear himself.    Breakfast came with the price of the room, which was a most reasonable $79 plus tax.

I plan to wait a while for it to get warmer before I bicycle into  the Monument tomorrow morning.   It is supposed to drop to around zero degrees tonight.  Time to turn out the light!

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MONUMENT RESERVATION INFORMATION:

Mark and Susan Adams
Elliotsville Plantation INC.
Recreation Managers
881 Shin Pond Road
PO Box 662 Patten Me. 04765
Susan,  207-852-1291
Mark,  207-670-8418
Lunksoos@gmail.com
katahdinwoods.org
Facebook: Katahdin Woods & Waters
Maps and info to KWWNM  at www.nps.gov/kaww

Riding Inside vs. Outside

I’ve biked indoors on rollers when that was all we had, back in the 1970’s.  Since then turbo trainers came out.  I haven’t used mine for at least a decade. I  don’t want any part of riding indoors.  The sweat dripping off one’s body rusts the painted surfaces of a bike frame, and collects on the floor.  When I rode indoors, I was in the habit of draping absorbent towels over the surfaces of the bike that caught the stream of sweat running down my chin and brows. It’s also boring to bike indoors. That’s why people watch TV,  read, or watch their computer screens while they crank the pedals round and round.

Yesterday, I took an actual 10 mile ride in the middle of a rainy day, when there was a 1 hour break in the precipitation. Normally every ride I take from my house is a loop. We get locked into old patterns.

My Diamondback Apex is my road bike
My Diamondback Apex is my road bike

I live on High Street on the edge of Lincolnville, bordering the town of Hope, Maine., where there are some very large parcels of land held by relatively few folks . The last mile or so of the road toward Hope doesn’t have any telephone poles nor overhead (or underground) wires. There stands one old farmhouse smack dab in the middle of 1,100 acres around Moody Pond. Without any need to trim foliar entanglements, oak and maple limbs reach from both sides of the street to entwine, creating a tunnel effect that is most spectacular in autumn, when the landscape lights up with spectacular waxy hues of red, orange, and yellow.

People enjoy walking High Street.  This year, increasing numbers of people parked at either end of my street to walk for the joy of it. It’s not busy, except for late afternoon.  Most of the time, walkers never encounter us residents. It is also one of the few stretches around where you are not going up or down some 400 plus feet in elevation on a bike ride or walk.

These last two days, I took a short one-hour spin on High Street.  I didn’t travel more than 1.3 miles in any direction from my house, and felt guilty at how much fun I had riding a double route on this recently resurfaced asphalt road.

It took me 32 years of riding right here to take this most simple ride: out the door to the street, then ride right to Levensellar Pond for 1 mile, then head backpast the house in the opposite direction to Moody Pond, where I turned around and headed back 1.3 miles to my house, where I repeated the exact same route, snagging 10 miles in just under an hour.

Levensellar Pond
Levensellar Pond

Moving over the landscape on foot or two wheels is my daily practice.  There is bigger purpose in my 10 mile triumphs.  I’m needing just 48 more miles to reach my goal for 2016- one thousand miles on the bike.  I met two other 2016 goals already: 1,000 miles of walking/backpacking and reading 25 book, one every two weeks.

Backpacking Davis Pond to Hamlin Peak in Baxter State Park

Looking up from Davis PondThere was a time earlier today when I just wanted to quit hiking uphill and retreat the 7 miles downhill to Wassataquoik lean-to number two where where we’re scheduled to hole up for the night.  Just a half hour into today’s hike, I was cold, wet and had no desire to ascend the 2000 feet from Davis Pond all the way up to Katahdin’s Hamlin Peak (4756’) in thick clouds with the air temperatures in the high 30s and strong clearing winds blowing out of the West.

Up to Hamlin Peak from  Davis Pond
Up to Hamlin Peak from Davis Pond

There would be nothing to see but the inside of a freezing cloud.

My boots were still cold and totally soaked from walking.  Lingering 40° wet coated the foliage that protruded into the trail. When I brushed against the leaves,  cold water eventually saturated my shorts and ran down my legs into my boots and socks. My feet are wimpy when it comes to dealing with cold. My hands also suffer when the temps drop.
Just before I was going to split off from Guthook and Hans to retreat, cumulus clouds started forming, blue patches opened up in the sky, and was clear that the rain and dark clouds going to be history.

Hamlin is one of the three 4,000 foot Baxter State Park mountains that are on the New England 4,000 foot peaks list.

Guthook front, Hamlin Peak rear
Guthook front, Hamlin Peak rear

The other two are Katahdin, at five thousand two hundred and sixty eight feet and North Brother, at 4151 feet.  While on top, we encountered only one other peak bagger trudging toward Hamlin Peak.

Today turned out to be a very good time to be on top of this mountain. Despite my hands being too cold to function, I was able to get my body heat up by jogging the flat expanse to and from Hamlin Peak.

Me in front, Hans and Hamlin in back
Me in front, Hans and Hamlin in back

Patches of ice were fund on top of rocks that dominated this landscape.

Ice, meet Hans !
Ice, meet Hans !

The views today were expansive, with views stretching to Canada on one side, and nothing but trees and lakes stretching 40 to 50 miles in all directions.

At the end of this twelve mile backpacking day, I was most pleased to have made the choice to keep going when it became painful to do so.  The shelter of this lean-to along the Wassataquoik Stream nearby was a sort of homecoming.  Approaching this lean-to, I  begin to embrace the sense of completing a day well spent in the wilderness.

Wassataquoik LT#2
Wassataquoik LT#2

Riding Ragged

“The graying of The Bubbas,”  is real.  Nate said it.

It was humid and the roots were just a bit slimy and slick, but it wasn’t a problem for nineteen Bubbas in The Woods this past Sunday morning.  We broke some kind of  record for attendance today with the help of additional folks like 73 year old Rhode Island Bruce pushing us along.

Our special guest today was Carol, who came up Massachusetts up to Midcoast Maine to “ride Bubba”  again. And here’s Carol herself, front and center as we celebrate her riding with us today.

Carol, front and center !
Carol, front and center !

We’ve been at if for decades, and with the advent of modern bike technology, there’s hardly a frame breaking all season. It’s even a rare event to even have “a mechanical” anymore.  Maybe a broken chain, or a flat, but that is about it.
We ride out of habit. We ride to rack up those Strava PR’s (Personal Records).

The Ride
The Ride

We ride to commiserate on the climbs.  We ride to get our weight down. We ride to sip beers tailgating in the parking lots. We ride to be with other riders.

I’m riding still because I can.