“How bad do you really want to walk?”

“How bad do you really want to walk?”   -I felt like asking, in response to a question posed to V8 and Auntie Mame,  The Trekking Twins, at their well-attended Lincolnville ( ME) Public Library presentation “Twins Talk Trail”  two nights ago.

The actual question was, “Just where around here can you hike now that it is deer hunting season?”   Translation: For almost all of November ( except for Sundays), the forests and fields of Mid-coast Maine will be populated with numerous hopeful hunters sporting high-powered rifles in the hopes of hauling venison home to stock their freezers for the winter.

Sure, there are isolated properties that have posted “No Hunting” signs, but most are small islands of safety amidst oceans of game-laden cover, but  bullets fired from one of these rifles can easily travel a mile or even two,  so it’s dangerous to be out there, even if you are on posted property.

Most Mainers who don’t hunt stay away from the woods in November, or at least save up their walking for Sundays when it is illegal to hunt.  I am one of these people.  I don’t want to die from an errant bullet.

I used to think it was safe to walk in the nearby Camden Hills State Park, but that’s not true. Hunting is only prohibited between June 1 and Labor Day.  Otherwise, look out, because shooting is prohibited only within 300 feet of a picnic area, campsite, parking lot, shelter, or posted trail.

Someone at the talk mentioned Acadia National Park as an alternative . Fact check:  True-there is no hunting or trapping allowed.  November is a wonderful month to hike Acadia’s trails, but be ready for a  3 hour, 140 mile round trip from Lincolnville.

If you really want to walk really badly enough here in deer hunting season,  you can still go anywhere you want , on any trail you usually like to travel.  You just have to carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp, because you will be walking in the dark.  You can even look up the exact time that hunting ends each day in November 2015 on a table published by the  Department of inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  For example on today, November 13, it is illegal to hunt at or after 4:39 p.m.  That’s not bad.

I hiked 4.7 miles last night in the dark. photo 2  However, I decided to stick to the road, where there was a lot of traffic (@ 25 cars in 75 minutes), relatively speaking. I’m nursing a bashed up knee, which I experienced on last week’s night time trail ride in the Rockland Bog. That didn’t go well at all for me, but I learned from my mistakes, and it won’t happen again.

Night hiking ( unless under a full moon) requires adequate lighting.  There are dos and don’t for this aspect of outdoor adventures.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll get into what I am currently using for lights when I hike in the woods, and on the back roads here at night.

Teaser:  Here’s part of my go-to illumination while road walking:  the Glo-Toob !



Darkness and the deer hunters

You’d think that I’d be packing a headlamp after writing about night hiking in the the past two blog entries-  But no.
I’ve been hiking some Friday afternoons with my friend Frank for the past few months, and took him up on his invite again yesterday.  He let me pick  the place so I suggested we go up the Highland Path on the west side of Ragged Mountain, from Route 17.

Ragged Route

The light would stay with us for a longer time than if we would be on the east side of the big hills around here.

I forgot that it is an 800’ climb, followed by return on the same steep sections, that the trail would be obscured by a thick layer of fallen leaves, and that taking Jody, the dog, would slow things down a bit.

Ragged Summit panorama, looking west

The view from the top was stunning, as were the illuminated flags of color that still remain on the trees.

Starting up at 3:30 PM, I had neglected to check to see that sunset was at 5:30 PM.  When we rolled back to the lot, it was 6 PM, and dangerously close to dark.  I had a tiny flashlight with me that could have illuminated the path enough for us to get back, but I learned my lesson, and will keep a headlamp with fresh batteries in my day pouch for next time.  Both Frank and I agreed that we humped along at 3.5 MPH on the last mile to make it out in time.  I half-turned my ankle on a hidden rock, and while it didn’t in any way screw up my ankle, it was a reminder that travel outside is changing as we approach Halloween.

Deer hunting season with rifles is officially open tomorrow morning at daybreak.  The woods will not be ours for a while, as it is too dangerous to be wandering around in the backcountry, even wearing a hunter orange vest. The deer hunters get to go outside until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when it will be safe to roam around back in the far away places again.

At least Sundays are “no hunting” days.

Hiking in the Dark

From time to time I report content from other sites that support the direction of my own blog.

Section Hiker is one of those places where good ideas (and sometimes good deals, and give-aways) are the standard. I recently bought a very little used, and much lighter ice axe from the author, Philip.

While I haven’t yet done any night hiking this season, the days are starting to get shorter and it is good to know that it can be done safely, while enjoying the relative solitude of the night world. I am planning a night ride on my bike this evening, and have two lights that are fully charged and ready to go.

Check out the basics here.