I’m Walking down South- NOT on the FLA Trail !

I’m spending  a week in Disney World where I’m sharing a tent site at Fort Wilderness Campground.  I was in shirt sleeves and shorts yesterday and racked up 13 miles of walking on day 1 and 10 more on day 2.  I’m hanging with my best friend, Edward, who lets me stay at his campsite here any time for as long as I want and he won’t take any $$ from me.  Of course, I have have no rental car.

Edward checks out my new tipi

Edward has  been here from November and will stay until early March, as he has done for every single winter for the last 40 years.  When March comes, he’ll head back to his fruit and vegetable farm in Masschusetts  where a 100  hour per week schedule awaits him for the rest of the calendar year.

I ‘m  testing out a brand new tent,  made by SeekOutside. It is 6’10” high and 12′ in diameter, weighing in at 4 and a half pounds.  There’s just a single telescoping carbon fiber pole.  Here is a a picture of the unit from Seek Outside set up with interior heat with a titanium stove and stove pipe, probably somewhere during elk hunting season  in the Rockies.

-Seek Outside 12′ tipi

From the website:  “The Four-Person Tipi is roomy and storm worthy. Extremely lightweight for the square footage, this tipi is a palace for solo use. It is capable of sleeping up to four with minimal gear, but is better suited to the luxurious solo trucker, or for two with late-season or winter gear.   Handmade in Grand Junction,  Colorado,  the tipi features:  Dual zipper doors with storm flaps, Single peak vent, stove jack with rain flap, 6 inch sod skirt with rain flap, ultra robust stake loops, interior hang hoops for tying clothes line for hanging gear, and external guy-out  loops to steepen walls, or pitch the shelter down in tight spots.”

I am awaiting shipment of a custom titanium stove and stove pipe from Don Kivelus, owner of Four Dog Stove out of St. Francis, MN.

I have  been using one of Don’s full size titanium stoves for 15 years of winter camping and it is still like new.  The big stove pairs with with a much larger, custom 9 x 12 foot Egyptian cotton wall tent that stands 7′ high.  It easily houses 4 winter campers and all gear.

This tent is targeted for personal use, and will hold only one more camper and all the accompanying gear in winter.  I plan to experiment with this tipi and stove later this February on a multi day winter camping trip in Acadia National Park. If everything works out,  I should be able to transport the tipi and stove on racks bolted to the rear of my Surly Pugsley fat tire bicycle and embrace winter riding and camping in style.

3/17 trip into Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Stay tuned for the updates on this project.




What I learned from David Pelly

I plan to devote several blog posts to presentations from the 2017 Snowalkers Rendezvous in Fairlee, VT. The quality of the presentations is top notch, with several giants of northern adventuring in the line up.   Here is the first:

David Pelly- “How Inuit Find Their Way – Navigation in the Trackless Arctic”

David Pelly at Snowalkers 2017

David’s talk was drawn from an article that he published in 2001 in ABOVE & BEYOND magazine -January/February 2001. Here’s the link to this highly interesting article

Canadians were well represented at this year’s SnowWalkers Rendezvous.
David presented leadoff slides of traditional Inuit tattoos. In 1982 David moved to Baker Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada, where David eventually learned to speak Unuit.
As examples of superior navigational abilities, David shared with us observations about the uncanny ability of a native named Tulurialik to discern from thousands of small piles of snow out on the tundra one that held a fox trap. David shared with us another story about traveling with Tulurialik on a snowmobile in complete white-out conditions where Tulurialik reoriented a snowmobile’s direction after recognizing a tiny protruding rock as a feature he remembered from passing through the area previously.
Possessing superior visual acuity, the Unuit subsistence hunter’s observations were fundamental to their survival. Men were raised as hunters and were usually taught by their grandfathers. They studied cloud masses and colors, indicating the location of distant land masses. Snow ridges reflect wind directions that offer clues to direction of travel on snowmobiles. Directions for wilderness travel as long as 200 miles are commonly transmitted orally, without maps. Mapping in the Inuit way is extremely sparse compared to the expanded view of modern maps. Descriptive place names and stories are techniques that increase the memory of a path of travel. Proportions do not matter- what matters are the indications of water borders (bodies of water).
As part of the presentation, David displayed a hand-drawn inuit map with minimal lines that looked nothing like I had ever seen.
“ I could actually do a whole half hour talk about this hand drawn simple map,” he said.

David’s talk was bittersweet, as things for the Unuit have dramatically changed for this culture, even in the past 15 years. I encourage the reader to check out the charitable foundation headed by David Pelly in the memory of his 20 year old adopted Inuit son, Ayalik, who had died unexpectedly in his sleep. Money from the foundation supports sending Unuit youth from Nunavut on extended outdoor adventures throughout North America.

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.





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


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 !


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
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

Permission to Engage with the Landscape? Granted

Microadventures give me major satisfaction. These compressed experiences ignite interest in the wild spaces that surround our lives.
Each morning, we wake, wash, dress, eat, and then work or play in mostly predictable patterns.  I spend my time mostly living reruns.   On good days like today, the jailbreak in my heart launches me over that high perimeter wall.

I’m outside 80 minutes a day, riding my mountain bikes, or hiking almost every day, no matter the weather.  My trusty Strava app tells me that I’ve only missed 8 days in 2016.  I’m a big fan of walking or riding right out the door, rather than driving somewhere to engage with the outdoors.

There still is plenty on challenging terrain, around High Street. Here’s the field that was for sale in the mid-1970’s.

IMG_5891  Back then, I almost bought it, but ended up with an even better neighboring piece that also was a big, south facing field with a stand of red oak that I harvested to craft this timber frame house .

One of the big pluses of living here is the very large tracts of connected land (one of over 1,000 acres) that are undisturbed and unpopulated.  If I walk a mile toward the neighboring town of Hope, the electric and phone cables end and so do the houses.  You enter a wild zone as you trek along a leaf-canopied rural road with no overhead wires to be seen.

I’ve walked past this signpost tree hundreds of times.

Nope? Maybe ?
Nope? Maybe ?

Today, I finally remembered that I had received permission to walk the fields and woods that surround the isolated Moody Pond.

Looking toward Mt. Megunticook
Looking toward Mt. Megunticook

I stood there stunned for a minute or so before I turned off the road and went in.

What took me so long?  I have walked here for almost 40 years but have never left the road right here before.   Loons live here in the summer, when I hear their demented, haunting cries as they wing their way between Moody and Levensellar ponds.

I was immensely satisfied  entering this new world.


What else do we miss as we wander around in a state of forget ?

Fitness Update: Jan-Feb 2016

How much persuasion do we need to expand our  lives?

Yet another research summary from the Health section of the NY Times came into my in-box this week with yet another angle of evidence for getting up off the couch and pushing out a run or fast walk.
I’ve been on a biking/ running/ walking routine ever since I was a teenager.  Now that I am finally collecting Social Security, I have the time and motivation to get this exercise thing dialed in just right.

I am spending 2016 with a goal of 70 minutes a day moderate to intense activity.  I’m backpacking, hiking, walking, and biking to get there.
How’s it going so far?
It’s not easy, but, 60 days into 2016,  I am there. Here’s some hard earned hours, thanks to Strava’s support:

screenshot 14
I got some support and direction from what I read this past year in Younger Next Year,
a book I read at the end of 2015.  51Y1MfFUvKL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_  The book’s premise is this:  exercise six days a week, don’t eat crap, and connect and commit to others.

What I find missing in most people’s fitness plan is that they lack one, or they set themselves up for abandoning their plans by not making the exercise activities fun enough to look forward to.

Since I gave up my decades-long practice of hitting the gym several days a week in September of 2013, I’ve kept 15 pounds off my frame, and have improved my cholesterol numbers.

This book helped- Microadventures. 2015-07-03-micro-adventures  It turned around my thinking about the meaning of an adventure.  We crave adventures in our lives, but think of them as divorced from our everyday routines.  Humphrey shatters that misconception in this book, which encourages viewing your local terrain as a rich source of potential mini-adventures.

I had a microadventure last night, when I veered off my usual routine 5 mile loop, and  revisiting an old woods road that I have not been on in the last thirty years, despite the turn to that hidden world coming up less than a mile’s walk from my house.

The road less traveled
The road less traveled

I also got to practice improvisation on yesterday’s hike, where complete darkness settled in just as I reached the corner of a gigantic wild blueberry field.  If I were to carry out my intended route, I’d need to enter the woods and bushwhack up to the ridge above, where I’d connect with a known route.  Sure I had a GPS and a flashlight, but given the air temp of eighteen degrees and a steady north wind coming at me, my inner warning system got activated.

It’s taken me 6 decades to get there, but I now I can hear the speechless voice inside, telling me, “Not a good idea! Go back, now.”  So I reversed direction and retraced my route back home, guided by Orion above me.

Today, I plan to enjoy our snowless winter landscape on another route, right out my back door door.

from the NYTimes : How Exercise may Lower Cancer Risk

On the Couch After the Sugarloaf Fat Tire Festival

IMG_5716“If I was a cell phone, I’d be at eighteen percent right now,’ mumbled John as he lay sprawled on the condominium’s couch as thirteen Bubbas settled into a much needed retreat after I logged 15 miles on the snow covered trail here at the Sugarloaf Fat Tire Festival.

It was a horror show driving here.  A greasy snow storm that ended up dropping ten inches of wet thick snow on midcoast Maine added two extra hours to what was normally a two hour ride. Numerous cars and trucks were sliding off the road.

Jacknived trailer truck
Jacknived trailer truck
We witnessed a very scary episode of a car going through a red light and doing a 360 in an intersection coming into Augusta on route 17.

But today easily made up for our afternoon of fight or flight tension yesterday.  The day started at 11 degrees, with a relatively benign wind that hovered in single digits all day. The warm point of the day was at 28 degrees. Although this may sound cold, it is primo. Winter biking is best on frozen surfaces that are not slick. Today’s conditions made for fast riding on a surface that was easier to roll on than in the summer, with far fewer rocks or roots to get in the way.

I am positively giddy about riding 15 miles today.

Strava is a GPS-connected app that I use to track my outdoor activities, be it biking, walking, hiking, or backpacking. The flyby feature is really interesting. Here’s the Strava flyby of today’s group riude.  It is a virtual video game that depicts us Bubbas riding our bikes. Check it out and chuckle.

Here are some representative photos of our adventures today:

Vendor Alley
Vendor Alley
We started by checking out he even’s hub.  One of our local shops, Sidecountry Sports had a strong booth representing their services.

Then we meandered down from our condo to access an initial ride on broad, groomed, packed, and very fun trails.  IMG_5713 2


Here’s a very short video clip of part of the trail:

Later, we got onto the Narrow Gauge railroad bed until we had to ramp big-time uphill to the Stratton Brook Hut.

It was a climb of approximately two and a-half miles. I have enjoyed staying at these huts. Their food was not overpriced, for what they have to do to get the raw materials there into in the winter. Service was great. Overnight price are reasonable.

At a few points, I had this view of Sugarloaf:

FullSizeRender 5.jpg

Lots of wood and stone, flanks the communal rooms of the Stratton Brook Hut.


Ian , Buck ,and Andre sipping complimentary free coffee.  They are sitting in front of a crackling fire.


If you do make a visit to this hut on a bike, be sure to opt for taking Oak Knoll trail down. After all the effort to make the climb you need to enjoy descending two and a half swoopy singletrack down. 

There was nothing left when I rolled back uphill to the condo.  The first thing that I did when I finished showering was to hit the couch with John.

Later, came the day’s stories.  They go on and on.







Why “The Revenant” feels like the real deal 

Because Canada’s Mors Kochanski was technical adviser to the movie, that’s why.  If you don’t know about Mors, you don’t know much about the increasingly popular subset of outdoor adventuring known as Bushcraft.   Wikipedia says that, “Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, and rope and twine-making, among others.”

Here’s the back story about Mors and his part to play in ensuring that actual bushcraft is portrayed in The Revenant.  I particularly like the part where he talks about making good money in consulting to the movie.

I am headed back to the theater tonight for a second viewing  of The Revenant.  I don’t go much.  The last movie that I saw before this was The Hobbit.

I shun any horror movie, and generally turn off the TV when shows get unnecessarily gory.   However, I am intrigued by the rough, soiled, and worn quality of this movie.  Yes, the violent parts are hard to take, but the acts that are carried out are characteristic of daily life of that era.  Someone else wrote that these folks ate meat, wore skins and furs, and therefore killed large animals on a regular basis.  They were also in total fight or flight mode, due to the constant threat of hostile natives.

Here’s the trailer for The Revenant.

Uncle Tom’s EZ Gift Guide for Hikers

Wondering what gift to get that walker, hiker, or budding adventurer at this giving time of year?  Here are my suggestions for ten things that might be just the ticket, choices which won’t stress the pocketbook too much.

First off are some great books, the first three, brand new,  released in 2015:

#1-  Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes by Alistair Humphries


“Refresh your life with a tiny little adventure that’s close to home and easy on your pocket. Inspiration is abundant in this brilliant and beautifully-illustrated guide.”

This is my top book recommendation in 2015.  With the ideas in this book,  I have walked away my gym membership, and put so many more miles and smiles into my life, that I have kept myself 10 pounds lighter through the whole year.  It is British-based, with parts unknown to me, but the ideas transfer so well to Maine, except for the ones that involve a public transportation infrastructure.   Who would even think of loading up a dry bag in the summer, putting on a bathing suit, and swim down a river rather than hike? $20.

#2- Cabin Porn by Zach Klein

Cabin Porn
Cabin Porn

Some people yearn to have a little place of their own where they can get away from it all. This book is a natural outgrowth of an online community that has existed over the past six years. I frequent the Cabin Porn website where photos of  12,000 handmade cabins have been posted. This book contains pictures of more than 200 of those cabins , as well as ten stories about featured cabins. I particularly liked “How to Live Underground”  and “How to Craft an Off- Grid Bunkhouse”, about a 17-acre  settlement over the bay from here over in Deer Isle, Maine.  The book brought me back to 1977, the year I finished  schooling up at the Shelter Institute, and then spent a very special couple years crafting timbers out of red oak trees that I cut down and built our own “four sided, insulated lean-to”  on 4.5 acres where we still reside. Hardcover only- $30.

#3- Camping In The Old Style by David Wescott

Camping In The Old Style
Camping In The Old Style

David Wescott is the author of Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills. He is an expert in primitive technologies and a leading figure in wilderness education for more than forty years.  In 2000,

From Amazon: “Back before the days of RVs, nylon sleeping bags, and all the other modern camping conveniences, people still went camping. This updated and newly designed color edition of Camping in the Old Style explores the techniques and methods used during the golden age of camping, including woodcraft, how to set a campfire, food preparation, pitching a tent, auto camping, and canoeing.  The book is loaded with nuggets of wisdom from classic books written by camping and outdoors pioneers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as Daniel Carter Beard, Warren H. Miller, Ernest Thompson Seton, Horace Kephart, and Nessmuk, and author David Wescott includes his own methods, techniques, and philosophies as well. A generous addition of color photos of present-day classic camping enthusiasts supplements many of the fascinating archival black-and-white photos.”

A thorough book, and interesting as hell, howeer the photographs of modern folks engaging in old school camping in modern times are slightly off-putting.  Everyone is too damn clean.  Every single one of the unused canvas tents and bedrolls are pure unblemished white.  Things look overly staged, and some of the pics are positively wrong.  For example, on page 119, there is a pic of a man resting on a “stretcher bed”.  What woodsman would choose to put their smelly boots a few inches under their noses rather than as far as possible down toward the foot of the bed? Hardcover only – $30.

#4- Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard & Others

Journeys of Simplicity
Journeys of Simplicity

My friend Brad Purdy gave me this and the next book on this list.  The books are permanent residents on the night stand beside my bed, where I refer to them often.  Journeys of Simplicity has the tone of a religious  book.  Certainly, here are numerous religious leaders who let us know what they carry with them when they travel through life:  Merton, Basho, Ghandi, and even Jesus, but it is the others who really interested me.  I particularly liked the references to Bilbo Baggins, Grandma Gatewood, and of all people Marcel Duchamp, whose was allotted two whole pages  that contain just forty words (and that include his biography).  And just wait until you see what is listed under “Baggage for the Arctic Tern’s 22,000-Mile Migration” !  $13.

#5- Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up

Improv Wisdom
Improv Wisdom

I wrote about this book in a post last year.  The gist of the book is that mistakes are blessings.  There is plenty that will go wrong when we are out in the wilderness, and this book gets your head straight to the point that you might take a big bow when people discover your ” fail on the trail”. Hardcover only- $17.

#6- The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

The Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard

This is my favorite adventure book.  I have read it numerous times.  I am thrilled to no end that it finally was an e-book a couple of  years ago.  I have it on the Kindle app so I can read passages on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook.  Matthiessen is gone now, and this is a huge gift to us from him.  I read a little bit of it,  a lot.  The journal reflects Nepal, on a hiking journey that Matthiessen takes just as Fall is folding into Winter.  It’s bleak, sad, deep, and huge. $17.

#7-Fenix Flashlight E05

Fenix e05
Fenix e05

This flashlight came my way from my pal Chris, AKA G-Man. Chris is on a apparently life-long search for the perfect outdoor gear.  Do you know Everyday Carry?  If not, you may find it interesting.  EDC is a website where people form all over the world expose the contents of their pockets or shoulder bags and lay out what they use everyday.

The Fenix is in my pocket now because it is small and useful.  It’s  just lots of long nights and short days up here in Maine right now, and I love using the little light (with 85 lumens) to brighten up my evening trips to the woodpile or to tend the chickens.  Plus it uses just a single AAA battery, that’s been good now for over the three weeks.   $20.

#8- Glo-Toob AAA Waterproof Emergency Dive Light, Green


From the manufacturer: “The Glo-toob AAA is a three function, waterproof, reusable light with hundreds of applications. The AAA Glo-toobs are virtually indestructible and can take knocks and bumps in almost any environment. Glo-toobs are perfect for diving, camping, road side emergencies, action sports or any extreme situation including covert Military operations. Its compact design allows you to easily carry it in your pocket, on your belt, or in a glove compartment.

I use it hung on the lanyard attached to the bottom of the back my reflective walking vest on my night hikes.  If I am on the road, I look like a gigantic Christmas ornament.  It is the brightest warning light I’ve found, and again, uses just one AAA battery.  I also hang a clear one in my tent at night.  $20

$9- Energizer Smart Rechargeable Charger for AA/AAA Batteries, with 4 AA Batteries

AAA/AA battery charger
AAA/AA battery charger

Now that I have whittled down my outdoor electronics ( including my eTrex 30 Garmin GPS to just AAA or AA battery usage, it make so much sense to use rechargables instead of throwing away batteries.  It took me a while to figure out that my AA charger also handles AAA’s, I just had to notice the alternative metal AAA battery tab in each slot.  These chargers only come with 4 AA’s, so you have to purchase a set of AAA’s to make this gift complete.  $16.

#10- Gift certificate for weekend vacation at Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Hobbs Pond in Hope, Maine)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

UT's cabin
UT’s cabin

Reserve a two-night stay at UT’s cabin before Dec. 31, 2015 for the 2016 season for just $100.  Centrally located in Midcoast Maine.  Eight miles to Camden and 11 miles to Rockland. 2 hours/75 miles from Acadia National park.  Minutes from local hiking and mountain biking trails.  Personally guided adventures available by arrangement. Photos and details on hotlink above.  To reserve, email me at thomasjamrog@me.com


Maine Microadventures

At the start of 2015, the British explorer and micro-adventurer Alastair Humphreys called for people to live more adventurously, and challenged us to spend one night out in the wild each month during the year.

It’s all in Humphreys’ new book, Microadventuresphoto 4 The idea of a microadventure intrigues me.

The book came out as an e-book in 2014, then in print in 2015, and while clearly British-based, has inspired me to get out into the woods and fields more often.
In April, I slept out a couple of nights with Tenzing in Mike’s back yard in Austin, where I was awakened by the local neighborhood rooster each morning.

I plan to get out this week, before the black flies and mosquitoes really limit my enjoyment of hanging in the outdoors.  Of course there is always my trusty mesh bug shirt, made for me by Berta Estes, out of Winslow, Maine. Unfortunatley she’s been out out of business for at least 10 years now.

Who wants to try and sleep outdoors for at least one night a month this calendar year ? We can start a #Mainemicroadventure movement?

I’ve just received permission from a local landowner to not only walk the 1,200 acres that her family owns, but also to be able to sleep on the top of the highest mountain in the area.