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 !




Why I am going back to hike the East Coast Trail

First read this overview, released today ( May 9, 2018) –>>via Newfoundland, Canada: The travel spot that the natives love | CNN Travel

Not only are there no ticks in Newfoundland, the hiking is world class on the East Coast trail (ECT).


I flew from Boston to St. John’s there last year to hike the 170 mile East Coast Trail, dubbed one of the Top Ten Backpacking Trails by National Geographic in 2011.

This coastal trail definitely lives up to its description as a “genuine wilderness walking and hiking experience”.  Printed materials from the East Coast Trail Association describes the trail as passing directly over the most easterly point in North America at Cape Spear as it connects over 30 communities (some were abandoned) along the route.

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Hiking to Cape Spear lighthouse

I enjoyed visiting the communities along the way where people were welcoming and were interested in speaking with us.

I have written a daily blog report, complete with daily pics spanning my two weeks there that can be viewed here.

Here’s three minutes of drone footage from last August that was shot and produced by Mark Shaw of HMS Images, my hiking partner on this adventure.  Recently I have been giving presentations on this thru-hike.  Please contact me if your organization would like to have me present this summer.

Polish Power Put to the Atlantic (x3)

Ninety-nine days after leaving Senegal, Doba arrived in Brazil. He was greeted by one journalist and the Polish ambassador. Nobody cares if you cross the Atlantic in a kayak.


I care.

I have followed the exploits of this  unique comrade for the past several years and feel a kinship to him for being older, Polish, and proud of his ability to put up with adversity and self inflicted pain.   As a farewell gift from my co-workers I was given a traditional rocking chair when I officially retired from full time work at the age of 52, after 30 years of work as a teacher and psychologist.  If I had known of the plans to get the chair, I would have requested a backpacking camping chair instead.

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Unless there really is life-after-life, we have only a certain number of days on this incomprehensibly alluring and abiding planet.  Just 30 minutes ago I just received an e-mail that John, a friend of mine who had recently announced his retirement, is now in hospice care for a rare form of incurable and rapidly progressing brain disease that only occurs in 1 out a million people.  I hope John will still be alive tomorrow when I pay him a visit.

Michael Meade writes, ” There’s an African proverb: ‘When death finds you, may it find you alive.’ Alive means living your own damn life, not the life that your parents wanted, or the life some cultural group or political party wanted, but the life that your own soul wants to live.

Do read this long article.  Maybe it will inspire you to live your own damn life.

Why He Kayaked Across the Atlantic at 70 (for the Third Time) – The New York Times

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route From Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Three- Heat Exhaustion and Magical Desert Goldfish | CARROT QUINN


Me and Jess- photo by NotaChance
Me and Jess- photo by NotaChance

PART 3 ( out of  4).  The best backpacking writing in November 2014 is right here.

“But the endorphins of steep climbs are a thing without parallel, and that feeling you get upon reaching the top is a feeling, I am learning, to build one’s entire life around.”

Lowest to Highest, a Backcountry Route From Badwater to Mt. Whitney, Part Three- Heat Exhaustion and Magical Desert Goldfish | CARROT QUINN.

Getting ready to leave blues

“You are going to come back as a feral individual. I know that’s going to happen”, said my wife Marcia yesterday.

The last three days before my thru-hike attempt of the CDT were anxiety-producing and tiring. There is no downloadable list for life extraction.

My departure punch list grew daily, and I definitely saved the best and worst for last. The best was when we split up a pile of dry firewood for Auntie Mame to use on these last cold spring Maine days. The worst was cleaning out the composting toilet at the Hobbes camp. At least I am getting quicker at it. Definitely a rubber gloves situation.
Another unique chore was applying a couple of thin layers of Shoo Goo to the exposed toe stitching on my New Balance hiking boots.

I believe I’ve stockpiled enough to get me through, thanks to my brother Roy and New Balance.

I’m dealing with three flights to El Paso Today. I just learned that my Maine Driver’s license expired. I didn’t have that on the checklist. Soon I won’t be Tom Jamrog, and will revert to my trail alter ego, Uncle Tom.

Is the unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach my fear of the open trail ahead or is it perhaps me already missing my rooted connection to my family, wife, friends, neighborhood, and the little black dog’s perpetually hopeful eyes?

Part of me is embarrassed to whine about having to deconstruct the life I’ve led for the past three years to haul a relatively small backpack of objects across America where I’m likely I to spend some portion of the next 156 days being lost.

Who am I to grumble about how difficult it is to walk away from a good life, when most people are struggling ?

There are deep threads holding
Us where we are right now.
Freedom extracts it’s price.
I hope that I have enough
Inside to see me through.
What will
I be like if
I can keep walking
across America
for 5 months?

Backpacker 2012 Gear Guide- a VERY quick read

It took me all of 15 minutes to read the latest incarnation of Backpacker magazine’s yearly Gear Guide.  
The Editor’s Note column by Jonathan Dorn “Half the Weight, Twice the Fun started of reasonably well.  Dorn recommends owning a scale and to be ruthlessly obsessive in paring weight to the point of eating less on the trail, spending more $$ on light stuff, going “commando”- AKA no underwear (“All the cool kids are doing it”), and buying a few specific items that just so happen happen to show up in the ads and write-ups in the following pages.
I’m not definitely not following his recommendation to carry a 24 oz. IPad  (“Trade your paperback, maps, point-and-shoot, video camera, iPod and journal for tablet”.). My 6 oz. iPhone does all of that, plus let me use Guthook’s Hiking Guides, which you can’t do on an iPad. I suspect the iPad recommendation made the list in an effort to get you to pony up for an iPad Backpacker subscription.
You’d think that after me spending more than a year out of the past four backpacking that such a gear guide would be my bible, but no.  I don’t care much for new gear. I’m content with what I have. If is light enough, and it has stood the test of a couple through hikes, I’m down with it. New stuff is just sometimes too much money, or too much weight.
For example, turning to the “10 Essentials” is the Wenger Fidis lighter, that relies on wicks, flints, and liquid fuel, but costs $110.00 !  I prefer TWO Bics at about $2 for both and have been able to fire them up in some pretty windy situations.
In terms of weight, how about the “essential”, hefty Black Diamond Icon headlamp- whose 4 AA power source pushes the weight  to 9 oz. By the way, this has all been done before.  I have an an aged Petzl, with one of those same skull-numbing, rear AA battery packs that has sit in a drawer for 10 years now, and guess what, it was 9 ounces way back when.  At least a “ding” was included in the Icon review- ”Testers wished for padding on the battery case”.  Translate to ”if you are laying down and reading in the tent, the back of your head is going to feel like you have been resting it on a rock”.  Ding the unnecessary weight as well. Save almost a half pound ( 7 oz.) with the my recommendation- the Princeton Byte, with a red ultrabright LED, and a burn time of 146 Hours, via 2 AAA alkaline or lithium batteries.

Byte this

You can definitely read books with it, and also night hike through a moonless night.  Also, you save weight on carrying just two AAA’s rather than 3 AA’s.
I can agree with the Steripen Freedom’s selection.

Steripen Freedom

I haven’t used it yet, have a Steripen Opti now, but plan to check it out, as it is only 2.6 ounces and I am sponsored by Steripen, so I can get one.
An item that I do plan to check out is on page 126, the Nemo Helio Pressure washer.  It’s got nothing to do with backpacking, but we own a camp that pumps wash water out of a pond, and the plumbing is limited  a small sink, so I may check it out.  It would be great to get a pressure  shower, although jumping in the pond and swimming is fine so far.
My wife and camping pal Auntie Mame tells me that magazines are just packaged advertising. She’s made her point with this issue.

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?

Eagle and the Overcoat

Sometimes what is real is more like a dream.
It happened to me on Friday, at about 8:30 AM , driving up Route 3 to Augusta for a legislative work session where the format was not familiar to me. It was an event that would be leaden with conflict, and as I was fretting about what to say, and how to say it, I encountered a most unique situation. We used to call such an event a Happening, like when you actually encounter a large tree spontaneously crashing to the ground in the still forest.
I was last in a line of several cars, behind a slower moving vehicle on the two-laned highway, heading uphill with several vehicles coming alongside us from the opposite direction. Suddenly, I caught the first glimpse of motion that appeared at the top of my windshield. A fully mature bald eagle swooped and hovered not 10 feet above the tops of the cars, it’s tail feather braking the descent, and although I passed below it rapidly, I understood that the giant raptor was likely waiting for a break in the traffic to lift some roadkill. The wingspan took up almost half of the roadway, and (I looked it up) likely approached the adult female maximum of 7 feet.
I didn’t know it then, but the eagle might have guided me on my long day in Augusta, where I had to be patient, dodge the oncoming traffic of ideas, and wait for the chance to get what I needed out of the day.
On the one hour drive back home, I plugged in the iPod and listened to the Podcast of my friend Lock’s Matinicus Wannabee 2/8/10 show on WRFR FM. Most of the music was familiar to me, but then I heard an beautiful deep voice speaking to me: Lock’s choice of Heather Masse’s I Don’t Wanna Wake Up Today, with the stunning repetitive last line of >
wake me up
pick me up
put an overcoat on me
and push me outside

You gotta love it when the universe gives you clear instructions.