Uncle Tom’s Adventures in 2019: Part 2

I reached two fitness goals by the last day of 2018: riding my bikes 1,000 cumulative miles and also walking (via hiking or backpacking) 1,000 miles.

I have zero interest in indoor walking/running or biking, either in a gym or at home. After decades of continuous health club memberships, I walked away from my local YMCA in late September of 2013, due to my shifting preferences and awareness of what my heart ( literally) was telling me.  I needed to be outdoors more.  That fall I had returned from third thru-hike, amassing 2,500+ miles on the Continental Divide Trail. I was fully planning a return to my gym rat status, but all it took was for a single return session for me to change my long devotion to the gym.

For 2019, I plan to amass 2019 cumulative miles via foot, either hiking or biking.

Another goal on my list is to read 40 books this year. I “shelve” books to read and books that I’ve read and monitors my reading, with the help of the Goodreads app. It tracks my progress toward reaching my total book goal. I especially like the scan function which allows me to immediately scan ( via the app) a book’s barcode which links to the exact same info that appears in Amazon (also owns the Goodreads app). If I plan to read the book, I save it to my Want To Read list. So far I have read 3 books in Jan. I pretty pleased that one of them was the 557 page The Outsider, by Stephen King. I have it 4 stars, by the way, even though none of it included scene from Maine.

I’m here in Florida this week for 6 nights of camping with my older and closest friend Edward and his wife Jane. He’s here at Fort Wilderness Campground for a few months break from running his fruit and vegetable farm in MA.

I am becoming more familiar with my Seek Outside tipi. Is warm here but it sometimes rains hard, like it did last night, from around 2 in the morning until 9 am.  The 12 foot diameter span gives me a palace of a place here, with 6’10” of headroom in the center.

We are able to find leftover firewood that we have used every night to enjoy a warming fire.

I plan to get a lot of walking in while I am down here for a week. Yesterday , I logged 7 miles.

I finally decided to add yet another goal for 2019. It came to my attention through Alistair Humphreys, whose Microadventures book and website promote cultivating a mind that leads one to enjoy adventures that are likely right outside the back door, rather than thinking of and treating them as distant journeys, every one.

For 2019, I plan to sleep outside at least one night in every calendar month.  January ?  Check!

 

 

 

Record Breaking Antarctic Slog

“In an effort that could go down as one of the great feats in polar history, the American Colin O’Brady, 33, covered the final 77.54 miles of his 921-mile journey across Antarctica in one last 32-hour burst during which, without sleeping a wink, he became the first person ever to traverse Antarctica from coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided by wind.”- NY Times

Story here

 

 

Backpacking the Fundy Footpath, Day 4 of 5

Start: Little Salmon River campsite
End: Seely Beach campsite
Mileage:  7.0 mi

Today’s map:

Hiking direction = from earplug right to left

Mark Shaw, AKA Bad Influence,  posted this 2 minute drone footage that takes off from  Goose Creek and then continues along the coast. Mark is a professional sound engineer who also owns and operates Trail Head Shuttle, a Vermont AT and Long Trail hiker shuttle service, and now is available for commercial drone work in real estate, 3-D mapping, via  Skyview VT.   It’s very informative about the breadth of some of these tidal crossings.

Goose River/Low Tide Bay of Fundy

Mark and I joked about forgetting how challenging  this trail really is, especially given the fact that we hiked it 10 years go.  While he swears this is the last time on the FF for us, I started thinking how we might streamline a future walk along the coast, via engaging the drone to view any possible passage along the cliffed shoreline during low tides.   Mark successfully put the drone up to get us out of a huge marsh that confounded us on the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland last summer.  It’s like having s SUPER tall guide who can really view an obscure trail.

Another tool that worked well for me was my Delorme InReach Explorer+.

Satellite GPS unit

The unit is able to serve as an emergency locator and communication device.  I entered in a few pre-set messages, essentially confirming that I was OK.  I sent evening messages to both my wife and the shuttle operator with a map pinpointing the location of our campsites, along with GPS coordinates.  I have added the unit to my day hikes. When I find myself injured and need of assistance, I should be able to get help.  I believe it is an essential part of my kit, particularly when I am guiding clients in the wilderness.  There was very spotty cell service available on this hike.  I pay $12 a month for the service, which can be turned off for any months where travel might not occur.

It rained yesterday and rained today as well.  With the very high humidity the first two days, we were forced with the very unwelcome situation of donning cold wet socks, footwear, and clothing each morning.  I’m in the habit of leaving any spare clothes home these days, in an effort to reduce my pack weight.  I do carry a dry set of sleep wear  on all my hikes, that allows me to be very comfortable when it’s time to sleep.

One tip that I  can offer the wet hiker is to put on a wind shirt or light synthetic jacket over your wet shirt when you reach camp.  If you are fortunate enough to have found clothing that is truly breathable, your body heat dries out the wet clothing in an hour or two.  I have had great success with Patagonia’s Houdini windshirt and their 10 oz.  Nano-Air Light Hoody.  The Hoody was developed to pass copious amounts to perspiration while at the same time providing adequate insulation for winter use.  I have been amazed at the width of the range of temperatures that I wear the Hoody, from winter biking in freezing conditions to summer evenings.  I like the blaze orange version for visibility.

If your clothing is not totally sopping wet, it can also be dried by wringing it out and putting in on top of your sleeping pad and under your sleeping bag where your body heat drys it out overnight.

 

Summer is Officially Here: Get Moving

“Aires ( March 21-April 19). To get where you want to go, you’ll have to make your way through the crowd.  Start moving and people will get out of your way. Movement is what makes things change.”- Daily Horoscope-Holly Mathis, 6/25/2018

Nature is ahead of me on this one.  Somehow,  in a surprisingly short amount of time, the vista outside of my big kitchen window is a mass of slowly expanding movement of green: my lawn, the hay fields all around me, and the three hundred and sixty degree panorama of forest that surrounds our house.

My ever-expanding vegetable garden is fully planted and growing steadily.  I’m already harvesting lettuce, green onions, beet greens, parsley , and celery.  Unfortunately the deer are also moving in to eat my plants, and I plan to install my electric fencing tomorrow after this rain lets up.

Bugs are moving.  I’ve pulled out one tick and plucked off a dozen already.  Did you know that tics are blind, and detect animal hosts through body odors, breath, heat, movement and vibrations?

I’ve got a few mosquito bites decorating my neck.  I’m not much bothered by mosquitoes after experiencing the massive numbers of them in Labrador on several of my motorcycle and canoeing trips there over the years.  Its all relative.

On thing that has assisted me in maintaining a level of activity that has kept my weight down, and in shape for backpacking is setting movement goals.  I have two: biking 1,000  and walking 1,000 miles a calendar year.

I monitor my movement progress through the use of the Strava app, where one of the functions allows users to view distance totals by sport on their Profile page.  As of today, I am 26 miles ahead of my biking pace

but 52 miles down on walking.

I plan to get moving on this by doing several two-hour hikes this week to climb back to hiking pace.

Lifestyle changes matter.  People who live in cities often walk more daily miles than us country residents, where services are too far away to access without driving a vehicle.

Looking for ways to move that are functional helps.  For example, I amassed 17,369 steps (8.4 miles via Fitbit) last Friday where I spent the better half of the day tilling, planting, weeding,  fertilizing, mulching, and watering the veggie garden.

When it stops raining today, I plan to fire up my little tractor and attach a cart and move down to the woods where I have stacks of unsplit rounds that I’ll haul up to the wood shed to split and move under cover for heating the house this winter.  I still cut my own firewood which leads to all sorts of strength, twisting, and core work.

This afternoon I plan to walk thee miles to my friend Dave’s house in Lincolnville Center where I’ll cop a ride to my weekly Men’s Group get together.

But I’ll be competing for a place on the path with the ticks, who will be waiting for me as I walk through the unmown hayfield and the brush that is filling up the abandoned Proctor Road as I move my way down to the pavement of the Heal Road that will lead me to open space walking to the Center.   I plan to wear long pants, sprayed with Permethrin and hope for the best.

The solstice passed on June 21.  Winter is coming.  Get moving !

 

 

 

Mt. Hood Rendezvous: Modern Style

This is the place

This past weekend I was one of the 70 or so folks that came to Hood River, Oregon to witness the marriage of  The Mayor and Genius.

In 2010 I walked the Pacific Crest Trail with them for five months. I last saw them on June 16, 2017  in Hallowell, ME for lunch where they made me promise to keep quiet with the announcement that they had just become engaged.

Big News!

I’m here in a rural AirB&B cabin rental for a few nights in Washington, beside Buck Creek, just north of the Columbia River with my fellow Triple Crown hiker Axilla and Train, who joined up with Megatex on our 2010 thru hike of the PCT.

Buck Creek cabin

When Train heard that three of the MeGaTex posse were pulling together again to attempt a Continental Divide Trail thru-hike in 2013, Train fired up his interior locomotive and became a driving force of movement and good judgement that assisted the gang in emerging from that graduate-school-level of hiking with our souls and bodies battered, wizened, but more importantly, transformed into the fully functioning human beings that we are today.

Uncle Tom, Dick Wizard, Trail, and General Lee- April 2010

My other Triple Crown partner on all thee of the major US National scenic trails is Dick Wizard, Mayor’s older brother, who is staying across the Columbia River with his most excellent wife Emmie and their families.

We spiffed up pretty well for the wedding.  I need to buy a suit.

Wizard, Me, The Mayor, Axilla, and Train

We were thrilled to hike from Government Camp on the PCT today.

This area remains startlingly beautiful.

IMG_4215
Axilla and Train on PCT – June 17, 2018

Stepping off the trail, I could not pull myself away from studying the thick shingles of bark on an ancient, giant evergreen of some west-coast type that was adorned with psychedelic colors of orange and green mosses, with clumps of lichen moving about a bit in the occasional gust of wind.

When I last passed though the PCT here, I stopped on a hiking break for trail magic, provided by Water and Bucket, two folks I hiked with for a bit on the Appalachian Trail in 2017. They fed us up and also supplied a few of the renowned Oregon microbrews. We visited them and their new baby, Ren, yesterday at their new house.

Old hiking friends remain close, even after years of physical separation. Living outside for months at a time as a part of a group does it to you, if you are fortunate to find the right group.

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.
www.AyalikFund.ca