Baxter State Park: Day 3 of 6

Today we duplicated yesterday’s trek, but in reverse. We are heading back south today to Russell Pond CG Lean-to #1, adjacent to the canoe launch area.

Greg, the senior ranger at Russell Pond yesterday, encouraged us to modify our plan of hiking over to the northeast corner of the park where we had booked a night at the Middle Fowler South tent site.
Greg requested that we be at his cabin at 8 am, when he would be in radio communication with the Baxter Reservation Office. Greg was very helpful to us.

We felt strong walking back today.

Crossing Howe Brook
Crossing Howe Brook

We only encountered only 1 other person while hiking almost 10 miles today. He was a taciturn chap. We were overjoyed to see someone approaching, but his attire of torn pants, safety glasses, and a faded hunter orange vest was a bit off. He also failed to acknowledge our need to communicate.
When I asked an opening question, ” Hey, glad to see you. What’s up ? ”
He replied without stopping his gait,” I came from back there (points) , and I am heading over there ( points).”
Vamoose! A very quick encounter!

On the way back, I spotted a rare find, and took he opportunity to teach my clients about chaga.

The fruit of a little labor.
The fruit of a little labor.

Chaga is sold online in whole chunks at great expense.  I just looked it up on a popular alternative medical website for $55 per pound.     The chaga mushroom is considered a medicinal mushroom in Russian and Eastern European folk medicine.  In North America, Chaga is a parasite that is almost exclusively found on birches in the northeast.  Chaga will ultimately kill the host tree, but the tree can survive for decades if not mistreated. When collecting the chaga, it is important to leave some behind as this will  allow it to regrow. If the tree has multiple sites of chaga, leave at least one  completely intact, and avoid harvesting small specimens, and stick to pieces roughly larger than a grapefruit in size.

I usually harvest it with a sturdy fixed blade knife,

A diseased specimen tree. Adequate chaga is left on the tree.
A diseased specimen tree. Adequate chaga is left on the tree.

using a baton of deadwood to remove it from the host tree.  For the remaining trip, we enjoyed chaga tea around our campfire each night. Small chunks are boiled and then simmered.  The resulting tea is very dark, and tastes similar to black tea. The chunks can be reused several times before there is an apparent decline in the potency of the drink.

Another unusual event happened on the way back through the overflowed section of trail caused by the beavers.

Gaspedal and Rokrabbit mucking along
Gaspedal and Rokrabbit mucking along

I was first through and now have wet boots from skirting the orange blaze trail by walking over the top off the smaller beaver dam. Next came Gaspedal, who walked the flooded trail. He stopped to reach a couple of feet into the clear water to pull up a cell phone.

Improbable find !
Improbable find !

It was in a case that had a UMO ID card in a pocket on the back.
There had been a large group of Upward Bound students who slept in a tent site right next to us the first night we were here. They had come through the southbound trail from South Branch Pond Campground that same day, so chances are that the dead phone belonged to one of them. I turned it into the ranger, who was going to follow it up.
Hikers need to understand that there are more rules at Baxter than at other state parks.

Gaspedal was crushed when the ranger informed him about the rule that his solo tent was not allowed around our lean-to. If you want to tent, book a tent

Understand that there are ramifications of Governor Baxter’s intentions that Baxter Park is primarily here to promote conservation of natural resources, as opposed to recreation.

A couple of situations come to mind.
I wanted to take a swim after our hike yesterday. There is no beach or swim area at Russell. The place I chose to go in the water was right off the end of the wooden dock at the canoe launch. Clearly, recreating took a back seat, when I slipped on one of the algae coated, football/-sized rocks that were piled under water at the end of the dock and fell onto my side into the dark wet. I came out with a bleeding foot.

I’ll present a second consideration.
I’ve camped at lean to #4  (“The Moose Inn”) numerous times since Will B. Wright was a ranger here at Russell in the late 1960’s. Notice how grown-in the trees and brush have become between the lean-to and the pond.

Viewing Russell Pond from the shelter of The Moose Inn ( Lean-to #4)
Viewing Russell Pond from the shelter of The Moose Inn ( Lean-to #4)

It is obvious that policies are in place in order to maintain the natural progression of shoreline vegetation instead of providing personal panoramas for the camper.  Gaspedal pointed out that they practice what they preach here – even the ranger here has trees obstructing his view of the pond.   While the practice of conservation is generally workable, and actually favored by most of us that enjoy coming here, one must at least question the practicality of rigorous adherence to it’s purpose.

And as Gaspedal also pointed out, a thoughtful ranger is now unable to have a sight line from his cabin to view every point on the lake due to visual blockage by trees and shrubs.

One’s risks are elevated at Baxter. That’s what we accept when we walk into the wilderness, and that is why I am here.

Baxter State Park: Day 1 of 6

There is something mammalian about avoiding going outdoor when it is raining sheets.  I voiced this point to Gaspedal and Rokrabbit, while I was driving them through the rainstorm above Bangor on I-95 this morning.
We’re on schedule for day one of a week in Baxter State Park.  I would hike in this hard rain all day, if necessary, but my innermost core recoils from the image of my self at the end of a day of rain, especially when I am also run down from long miles of hiking through the woods.
So I conjure up a whacky Plan B for today that would not require any hiking in this rain.  We would get a motel room in Millinocket  and wait it out. Tomorrow morning we would drive to the north Matagammon Gate and begin to dance around our reserved space camping itinerary.
However, life would be much simpler if we just stuck with our original  plan, which we did when we walked out of the Appalachian Trail Cafe and saw that the rain had stopped and the skies were starting to clear.

We only encountered four other hikers today walking into Russell Pond from Roaring brook.

FullSizeRender 4 copy 2

The young woman of  couple #1 said that the ford of Wassataquoik Stream was waist high. I could have told her that. Her long pants we’re still drenched as she spoke to us.  We also met a couple of Maine women who we also headed to Russell Pond for the night.

Puncheons !
Puncheons !

I’ve hiked the Russell Pond Trail at least a half dozen times over the years. A few things stood out today.
#1- Wassataquoik Stream rises quickly after a strong rain of an inch and a half.  The water was up to my waist during the ford. I have always experienced lower water levels coming through here. On the positive side, it was painless to do the fords with bare feet, even including the short walk along the trail that was on land that connected the two.
#2-  This is moose country.  Walking through the alder patches in an area known as New City, Gaspedal, who was walking point, turned silently gave us a hand signal.  One second later, a bull  moose with full rack of antlers crashed off into the brush. This was the first moose that either of my two traveling partners had ever seen in the wild.

I’m a Licensed Maine Guide who is guiding these two folks from Boston through their first visit to Baxter.

Boulders abound
Boulders abound

Last year I guided these two repeat customer plus one more though the north 50 miles of Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. Our walking itinerary here is less demanding than out on the Appalachian Trail, but our trek up to 5,267 foot high Katahdin on our last day should test the tendons.
If I make it, it will be my twentieth summit of Maine’s best shot at reaching the heavens.

My 10 Pound Camino Backpack Kit

Yes!  I am down 10 pounds on my back. Here’s the picture of all the gear that  I carried for the last 5 days of my 1 month, 250 mile ” backpacking” trip on the Camino Portugese this past June.

Stuff that mattered
Stuff that mattered

I started this trip with fourteen pounds of gear.

I was able to experiment with ditching numerous items for the last 5 day of the walk in Spain, at a distance of some 50 miles from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre. It was the perfect time to experiment with a minimally-prepared pack.

Ditching gear for this leg of the journey was not my idea. It was suggested to me by the “Irish Hiking Machine”,  AKA David Rooney, an important contact that I spoke with for just one hour on my pilgrimage.  After we parted ways I  never saw Rooney again.  Rooney was a three time repeat on the Portugese Camino, and knew the ropes.  At the albergue where we both had bunks, Rooney made a call ahead to his favorite hostel in Finisterre, the Cabo de Vila , where he helped arrange a private room for Marcia and I.  At his suggestion, we also booked an extra night there, in order to relax and enjoy the area.

Rooney encouraged us to further even plan ahead and reserve a night for when we take the bus back, returning from Finisterre to Santiago. We liked our room, and it was near the bus station, so we planned a return to the Hotel Cuidad de Compostela  (49.09 Euros), where we spent our last night before moving on to walk the “Camino Finisterre“.  Rooney’s reasoning was to leave any extra items from our packs at the hotel, where we’d be back in 5 days. The Hotel was very accommodating to this plan.

Even a fourteen pound pack has things one may not really need, and I decided to be ruthless about reducing weight.  I left my summer down sleeping bag at the motel. Sleeping pajama style in my thin merino wool tights and long sleeve jersey worked fine. If I was not warm enough I was able to throw a blanket over myself.  Our lodging places had  extra blankets in the rooms.  It’s been perfect weather here in June, with just two successive days in the month bringing light intermittent rain, and with the five day forecast for clear skies,  I left my warm jacket, rain jacket, and rain skirt behind as well. Other extra items were souvenirs, pamphlets, guidebooks, a Portugese phrase book, and maps we didn’t need any more but wanted to keep.

So how did it work out for me with just 10 pounds on my back?   The bottom line was that I didn’t miss a thing. I had no spare clothes, but it was so warm and sunny during the day that I was able to wash out my shirt and underwear each day, and easily dry them on a laundry line out in the warm sun that lingered here past 10 pm each night.  I’m inspired to  keep my weight down when I return to backpacking at home as well.  It’s a welcome  experience with 10-15 pounds on your back, however, the move requires trusting that things will work out, or that it won’t be so bad if I’m lacking something that I might have brought along.

“The more you know, the less you carry”- Mors Kochanksi ( inscribed on the face page on my copy of BUSHCRAFT)

As for my final packing list:
1. Pack Group:
Backpack – Granite Gear  —-Leopard AC 58                49 oz.
1 Pack cover                                              3 oz.
Total……………………………………………..                            52    oz

2. Sleeping Group:
1 Ibex wool long sleeve zip T                                        5.8 oz.
1 Ibex long tights                                                      5.4 oz
1 headlamp w/ batteries                                        2.1 oz.
1 stuff sack sil-nylon………………………                                1.3 oz
1 pillow case                                               4.0 oz
Total……………………………………………                                   18.6 oz.

3.  Packed clothing :
1 pr. wool shortie socks                                           2.6 oz.
1  wool midweight long sleeve hoodie                             9.4 oz.
Patagonia Houdini wind jacket                                4.3 oz.
1 pr. New Balance Minimus shoes                            9.1 oz.
Total……………………………………………                             30.2  oz.

4. Kitchen Group:
1 qt. water bottle ( Tiki Mon)                                     5.4 0z.
1 1-liter Platypus                                        1.5 oz.
1 spork……………………………………                             0.3 oz.
1 cup, bowl=Orikaso                                             4.2 oz.
1 bandanna………………………………………..                   1.0 oz.
Total………………………………………….                          12.4  oz.

5. Hygiene Group:
1 small pack towel……………………………..                        1.3 oz.
1 bottle hand cleaner                     …………                    1.3 oz.
1 small zip lock………………………………….                                      1.3 oz
w/ floss, vitamins, ointment, emery boards
1 partial roll toilet paper……………………..                                        2.0 oz.
1 Baby wipes                                                                                  2.0 oz.
1 chap stick                                                                                     0.2 oz.
1 disposable razor                                                                           0.1 oz.
1 small child toothbrush……………………..                                         0.5 oz
1 small tube tooth paste…………………….                                         0.7 oz.
Total……………………………………………..                                 8.5  oz

6. Electronic Group:
1    iPhone with headphones,  wall charger and cable              6.6 oz.
1     Anker Charger                                        5.8 oz..

Europe Electrical converter box                                6.6 oz.
1     Wahoo Ticker heart rate monitor                          2.0 oz.
1    Kindle reader                                            6.7
Total……………………………………………..                        27.7 oz

7. Navigation Group:
Map/guidebook                                                   6.0 oz
compass                                                 1.6 oz.
pen                                                        1.0 oz.
Write in the Rain notebook                                    1.5 oz.
Montbell “chrome dome” umbrella                            5.8 oz.
Total                                                    15  .9

8. EXTRAS:
Passport                                                    1.4 oz.

Checkbook w/ credit card ( stripped)                        3.0 oz.
Flowfold Wallet                                            2.0 oz.
Total                                                    6.4 oz.

(wearing):
1  sunhat
1 pr. sunglasses
1 Ibex wool shirt
1 pr. synthetic underwear
1 pr. zip leg synthetic pants
1 pr.  socks
1 pr. On the Beach/  boots
1 pr. Leki poles
total packed weight, dry, without food                 10 pounds, 8 ounces

Hitting the trail on Canada’s east coast – The Boston Globe

I’m planning to thru-hike this trail next August.  I have visited Newfoundland about a half-dozen times in the days when I used to enjoy long distance motorcycling.  There are so many biting insects there that we often celebrated riding in the cold rain, which kept the bugs down.  I am looking forward to the simplicity of walking, although there will be logistical challenges that a thru hiker will need to work through in order to complete the whole 165 mile hike.

Despite recognition by National Geographic as one of the world’s best adventure destinations, Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail remains virtually unknown to Americans.

Source: Hitting the trail on Canada’s east coast – The Boston Globe

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

Prepping For My 50 Mile Hike of the Appalachian Trail

I am taking out three clients on a Half The Hundred Mile Wilderness backpacking trip next week through my Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures business.

Sign at start of the Hundred Mile Wilderness
Sign at start of the Hundred Mile Wilderness

Now is a great time to be doing any business that involves communication. As a starting point, I sent my clients a copy of the excellent book Lighten Up: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking. It’s been easy to stay in touch with clients about how they best prepare, train, and consider gear recommendations.  We trade photos and gear talk via texts and e-mail. I will fill in their kits with the additional gear.

For example, I am supplying three different types of air pads that I will encourage them to switch out and try, including two Big Agnes Air Cores, and a Thermarest Neo Air.

I am also providing stoves and cook sets. I have a brand new Bushcooker LT2 multi-fuel unit that two of them will share. This will allow the group to try out cooking with alcohol, solid fuel tablets ( hexamine), and biofuel( wood). There will also be a MSR Pocket Rocket/ isobutane canister stove for comparison.

I had a disappointing experience in my purchase of a two person pot set at LLBean last week. Bean’s is going downhill.  Their book selection is 1/10 of what it used to be, and is leaning toward coffee-table tomes.

A month ago, I was exploring buying an Osprey hydration pack when I asked the salesman about the lower zipped opening.  He informed me that it held a waterproof pack cover, which seemed like a great idea, however when I got it home, it harbored a tool roll, and not a pack cover !

Last week, I told the salesperson that I was a backpacker who was looking for a larger cooking setup to take wilderness backpacking.  He steered me to the GSI Outdoors® Pinnacle Dualist Cook System.  277013_0_42 However, it was out of stock, so he helped me get it sent to my house (with my Maine Guide’s discount) and with free shipping.  So far, real good.  After I opened the box and checked out  the product, I was surprised to see how much plastic and rubber there was in the unit, including the pot and the pot lid.  Thankfully, I  actually read the directions.  I was shocked to learn that the pot and lid , “.. is intended for stove top use only. Not for use with open campfires. Never expose handle to direct flame.”  I like to cook with wood and will also place my cook pots on established campfires or coals,  where flames sometimes creep up the sides of the stove.  There was no way that I was going to keep this backcountry cookpot impostor !   It’s going back.

It was obvious that neither product was actually used by the salespersons, which could be a  dangerous practice for any business, let alone LLBean.

In truth, I might have done better just to strip the label off a 28 ounce can of tomato puree, punch a couple of holes through the top edge, and fashion a bail handle out of a short length of wire, and saved myself a trip down to Freeport to The Flagship Store.

One new product that I will be packing is a foot care item recommended to me by Joe Niemczura, a rural nursing guru who is also a very decent backpacker. Joe was enthusiastic about New-Skin Liquid Bandage, in either paint-on and spray form. According to Joe, it leaves a Krazy Glue-like residue that protects the skin from breakdown. Joe uses it in advance, along with duct tape.

Today, I’m dehydrating the first of my two supper choices. I have a lot of fresh corn right now so Campo Corn Chowder will be one choices. photo 12 My favorite is Smoky Mountain Chili.photo 6 I picked up a 4-tray electric dehydrator a few years ago at a yard sale for $4. The recipes are from Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’ by Tim and Christine Conners.

I am also fine tuning my own fitness for the trip. Last night I pushed out a hard two-hour mountain bike session with The Bubbas in The Woods up and around Ragged Mountain where I was able to ramp up my heart rate and maintain it between 145- 175 beats per minute for over an hour.

This morning I put 20 pounds in my backpack and did close to a 5 mile hike at a pretty good clip, targeting a two run repeat of the steepest hill I can walk to from my house (Moody Mountain).

I like to view my biking and walking results on Strava.  Today’s elevation profile is highly reinforcing !  photo   On the hike next week, I plan to hold the group to a 10 mile a day average, spending 4 nights and 5 days to complete the 50 miles.

Here’s my own packing list for this trip. I have whittled things down to  a 15 pound base weight, meaning what I have on my back, without food or water.   Do check out Lighten Up: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking.   That’s how I got lighter.  It’s got a lot of cartoons to get the point across.  It’s less than $7 in Kindle format and retains those great cartoons!

Strava and Suffer Scores, at Six Months

Goals matter.  At least they do to me!

We’re half way through 2015. I have the data to prove it.  With an ever-present computer not far from our reach, it is relatively easy to get numbers.  For me, numbers count.

As of today, 2015s first 182 days, or 6 months and 0 days have passed. At the half-year mark I’ve put in 200 hours of biking, backpacking, walking, or even jogging some 144 times, where I’ve  covered 820.4 miles.

What’s up with that?

Strava has been extremely motivating to me just through tracking my exercise. For those of you that don’t know about Strava, it is a social network that allows smartphone and GPS users to map their rides, hikes, walks, and swims and compete against themselves and others.
I have been using the free version but for 2015, I ponied up for to Premium (at $59/year) in order to access the additional perks-like setting time or distance goals, and to be able to  track my progress week over week.

Here’s just one of their graphics:

2015 Half-time report
2015 Half-time report

For 2015, I took the suggestion of my son Lincoln, and set myself a goal of moderately exercising, at an average of an hour a day. As  useful as this app is, it still has it’s limiting quirks.  For example, it took me months to realize that Strava only aggregates cycling or running activities.  Walking, or backpacking are not activities that are  collected and analyzed (yet). I learned to lump all footwork as runs.

I continue to be surprised to see that even at my age, I continue to improve my fitness.  I have been able to reduce the times that  travel over “segments”, or sections of trail that other riders or runners have identified as places where they would like to have their own data accumulated, as well as seeing what others have accomplished on those same segments.  For example, I’ve set 56 personal records since January 1.

As if all this data weren’t enough, I just ran up another $16 per year to access the benefits of  Veloviewer, another program that takes Strava data and  adds additional analysis.  For example, Veoloviewer reached way back to 2011 and brought in ALL the data from every ride or hike that i’ve ever recorded and analyzed that in ways that I never even imagined, like this 3D graphic of this past Tuesday’s Rockland Bog Ride.

3D view of Rockland Bog ride
3D view of Rockland Bog ride

In another hour I’m headed out for a couple of hours with Craig to ride the trails around the Snow Bowl. You can bet that I’ll be bringing along my trusty Garmin eTrex30 GPS unit, and strapping on a heart rate monitor so that I can obtain Strava’s special “ Suffer Score”  for this ride.

Did I mention that it’s another beautiful day here in Maine ?
Setting a time goal has resulted in me being active and outside for an hour a day every day.

Exercising inadequately, excessively, or just right ?

photo by John Anders
photo by John Anders

Two recent articles leave this reader confused about the answer to a vital question.

Just three days ago, National Public Radio ran a piece entitled Take A Hike To Do Your Heart And Spirit Good.
This was a study of postmenopausal women who, for six months, came into the lab to walk a treadmill while researchers watched.  The results indicated that “ metabolism of blood sugar” improved in even the control group that walked moderately for just 73 minutes a week. There was no apparent improvement in results in two other control groups, one walking for 136 minutes, and the other for 190 minutes per week.  The premise was that even walking an average of 10 minutes per day produced 95% of the benefits of jogging, without the drawbacks.

But how does that jive with the New York Times article from May 1, 2015, entitled The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life ?

Gretchen Reynold’s NYTimes piece references two very large studies that were detailed in the April 2015 issue of  JAMA Internal Medicine.
The first study followed 14 years of death records of 661,000 middle aged adults. It tracked exercise habits, and grouped the findings from those who did no exercise whatsoever to those who exercised a massive amount (25 hours a week).  For reference, US National health guidelines recommend that we engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
The results indicated that those who did no exercise at all had the greatest risk of death. The next group did exercise but did not meet the 150 minute per week guideline, and reduced their death risk by 20%.  The group that met the 150 minute US Guidelines went on to reduce their risk by 31%. The “ sweet spot” though, was a group that exercised 450 minutes per week, or just over an hour a day, reducing their death risk by 39%. After that, the investment in exercise duration tanked, with the group exercising 25 hours a week doing no better ( 31% reduction) than the 150 minute per week group.
The second cohort, an Australian study, followed 210,000 individuals, and also tracked death statistics. Three groups were aggregated:  walkers, runners, and those who exercised more intensively.
Moderate walking produced a “ substantial reduction” in death risk.
Reynolds then writes that,  “But if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality. Those who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were 9 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately, while those who spent more than 30 percent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat. The researchers did not note any increase in mortality,  among those few people completing the largest amounts of intense exercise.”
Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study says, “Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity.”

My own personal research is in agreement with the “ sweet spot” in the JAMA study. For me, 150 minutes a week maintains some measure of health, but did not significantly improve my fitness.  For that, I need more activity.
Since January 2015, I’ve been riding my mountain bike in the woods three times a week, and walking the other days. If I take the occasional day off, I make up for it by putting in a few more hours some other day, maintaining my 1 hour per week average.
My weight is now down 15 pounds, and my cholesterol profile and blood pressure have moved into the normal range. I’ve gained these measurable results from exercising moderately to intensively for 420 minutes a week, or a average an hour a day.

So… just enough, not enough or just right ?

What’s working for you?

 

What’s The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life ?

On our seven mile round trip walk to breakfast in Austin, Texas
On our seven mile round trip walk to breakfast in Austin, Texas

“…the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect”- NY Times

Where’s the sweet spot?

Last December, my son Lincoln suggested that I raise my daily activity goal to 1 hour a day. He’s steered me right many times since he stood by my side at age 3 and told me that it was a bad idea for me to try and drive my 1964 BMW motorcycle up a plank and ride it into the shed for winter storage. He was right. I was bruised up pretty bad after I fell off the plank with the bike ending up on top of me.

So I took his advice, about the one hour a day fitness goal. Lincoln also recommended I pony up the $59 a year to upgrade my Strava cycling/ running app to Premium level, where I have been able to set time, distance goals, and help myself stick to the hour a day average.

A quick check on my Strava Training Log reveals that since January 1, 2015 to date I have aggregated 486 combined biking, walking, and running miles. My hourly total is 123 hours in those 121 days yields a weekly average of 427 minutes, or 61 minutes a day.

Regular readers of my blog know that I stopped going to the gym (after 43 years)  after I returned from my 2013 thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. Doing so has increased my fitness, lowered both my body weight and total cholesterol below 200 for the first time in my adult life,  allowed me to lose 15 pounds, and ramped up my engagement in nature.

So, click on the link below to find out if you also might want to ramp up (or down in some cases) to an hour a day.

Additionally,  one of my blog readers suggested I read Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It .  It’s excellent!  Reading it now,  I found this: “The USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] guidelines have suggested that up to ninety minutes a day of moderately vigorous exercise- an hour and a half every day!- may be necessary just to maintain weight loss, but they have not suggested that weight can be lost by exercising more than ninety minutes.”

The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life – NYTimes.com.

Thanks, son!

Local Adventures Way Down South

I’m known as Opie here in Austin. Opie is known for slinging a fishing pole over his shoulder, hopping on his bike, waving bye-bye to Aunt Bea, and heading off into the Mayberry’s countryside for local adventures.

Ever since I read Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes, I’ve been embracing the concept of enjoying outdoor adventures on my own turf, wherever that might be. B1hi_AiCcAEFeWE Alstair Humphries’ idea of going local is catching momentum. There is a detailed explanation of microadventures here.

For the past five nights, my side kick Tenzing and I have been camping out in our host Mike’s back yard. photo

I been hiking in and around Austin the at five days.

The first morning I was here, I fired up the Garmin eTrex 30 and did a long loop walk of a couple hours. That first morning, I saw a turtle, nesting parrots, house plants by the sidewalks that were Hulked out to giantness, as well as some some most unique signage.

Pole dancing academy
Pole dancing academy

The next morning, Tenzing joined me. Sniffles, AKA Chameleon Boy, signed on with us then next morning. By the time yesterday rolled around, all of the folks in the house massed up with me and made the 7 mile round trip to El Chilito for breakfast.

Pounding pavement to burritos
Pounding pavement to burritos

The stunning Hamilton Pool was the object of our awe the next morning.

Mike and Dusty going in
Mike and Dusty going in

 

Sniffles coming up
Sniffles coming up

Later that day, we headed northwest of Austin out to Hill Country, where we had a most pleasant afternoon hiking at Enchanted Rock State Park. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big times
Big times

The next day, we had another local adventure here: Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center.

Grandfather trees abound here
Grandfather trees abound here
Tenzing, uplifting
Tenzing, uplifting

Yesterday, I reunited with my fellow Triple Crowner, Richard Wizard and his fiancee, Emmie. We took in a fun loop around Lady Bird Lake where we paused for picture of the two of us, standing deep in the heart of Texas.

Uncle Tom and Richard Wizard, hanging and hiking yet again
Uncle Tom and Richard Wizard, hanging and hiking yet again

Strava tells me that I’ve logged 50 miles of walking in the past five days. I’ll take smileage wherever I can get it, even in a city of close to 2 million, deep in the heart of Texas.