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

 

 

How Heart Rate Variability Training Fits Into my Fitness Plan

For the past four years I’ve been in the daily practice of measuring my heart rate variability (HRV). It takes me four minutes at best, after sitting up in bed, at the end of the first of my twice daily thirty 30 minute mediation sessions.

(I have maintained a continuous 48 year practice of Transcendental Meditation, which I consider it to be the core technique of my health practices. Yes, I have accumulated over 10,000 hours of meditation practice. Malcom Gladwell put forth the statement that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field.)

I learned about HRV from a demonstration that I observed in a psychology workshop with Larry Starr, Ed D. Dr. Starr has included neurofeedback in his psychology practice, where he utilizes HRV to reduce client symptoms of ADHD and anxiety.

“Simply put, HRV is a measure of the time gap  between individual heart beats while your body is at rest. The heart, in fact, speeds up when you inhale, and slows down when you exhale. This difference is known as HRV. A healthy, well-rested body will produce a larger gap, and higher variability”. – Dr. Phil Maffetone

HRV technology had been around for over 50 years but has only been recently available for home use. Long used in hospitals in treating heart patients, HRV has only recently been applied to endurance training.

I have been totally satisfied with the Sweetbeat HRV App for the iPhone, which pairs via Bluetooth with my Yahoo Ticker chest strap.

Here is a screenshot of two years of data, indicating a positive trend:

From the App Store: “SweetBeat HRV, the newest iOS application by SweetWater Health, provides real-time monitoring using state-of-the-art sensor technology and data correlation algorithms. Patent-pending correlation algorithms provide insight from other health and fitness devices. SweetBeat HRV also integrates and correlates data with popular fitness platforms like MapMyFitness, Fitbit and Withings. The next big thing in body-hacking is to understand the information presented in the data users track every day. SweetBeat HRV correlates metrics like HRV, stress, heart rate, weight, steps, calories, and so much more. SweetBeat HRV utilizes the popular food sensitivity testing and HRV-for-training features in the original SweetBeat app.”

I use the App for two purposes:
1) Primary is in determining whether my body is in a stressed state from over-training. In general, my daily 75-90 minute hike or bike ride results in a higher (better) HRV reading, but if my reading dips, the program prompts me to take an easy training day or even a day off in order to bring my body back into balance.
2) HRV readings also correlate with the occurrence of a cold. I’m generally a healthy guy, succumbing to normal bodily aches,  pains, and even tendonitis only when I have tripped on a hike or crashed on my mountain bike. In fact, over the past three years I have not had the flu (I do get the flu vaccine.) and I have only had a single brief cold that lasted for 5 days. My HRV reading dropped significantly one day a couple of years ago, where I was prompted to take it easy and rest up. The next day I experienced a sore throat and two days later my head swelled up with the full-blown symptoms of a bad cold.  My initial low HRV reading had been in response to my body beginning to muster antibodies to address the cold, a situation of which I was totally unaware.

HRV literature also reports being able to detect food sensitivities through the use of HRV readings, although I have not attempted to employ this aspect of the technlogy.  I’m sort of an I -can-eat-anything-person.

For further reading on HRV, I’ll refer you to this blog post by Phil Maffetone:

Heart Rate Variability: What It Is and How It Helps With Training
By Dr. Phil Maffetone  (April 29, 2015)

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

Step up ! Mileage Challenge for 2017 !

It’s now 2017. After reviewing all the end of the year” bests” lists and the sun ever so slowly extending itself into the far northeast corner of the USA , I’m ready and hopeful about what’s to come.

For one, I’m still able to embrace health and happiness. My body weight has remained around 200 pounds since I lost 27 pounds on my 2013 CDT thru hike. On prior hikes, I’ve gained it all back , but this time, I’ve been able to remain 15 pounds lighter.

Setting goals is my personal  life raft. Without them, I would be a diminished individual. My spanking new goal for 2017 is to hike, walk, backpack, or bike a cumulative 2017 miles.  It will be a figure that is easy to remember!  With that number in place, I am generally out the door every day to put in at least an hour to an hour and a half on moderate to more activity.
I dumped my decades old gym membership in 2013 after I came back from the CDT.  I went back to working out indoors but it didn’t feel right to drive a vehicle a half hour to change clothes and spend an hour inside a sweat factory where I did more talking than walking.

With this plan, I sometimes play catch-up.  I had a work week last week that cut into my recreational daylight hours. Saturday morning brought me to a three hour hike in nearby Camden Hills State Park.  We have not had much snow here.  The ground is practically bare, however,  there are ample stretches of compressed, hard, grey ice covering some of the hiking trails and single track that I travel on.  Half of Saturdays hike was done on Stabilicers.
Fitbit helps.

Strava  helps more.

2017 so far. Its a start!
2017 so far. Its a start!

If you are considering getting in ready shape for the upcoming hiking season then I’d suggest you also make your own grand plan with a mileage goal thrown in to keep you honest.  I’d like to thank Carey Kish for getting me started on upping my Maine-based mileage.  His 2015 Maineac Outdoors column inspired me.  I’d recommend that you review my own blog post that conveys my start.

I  boosted the whole shabang up a notch for 2016, aiming for 1,000 miles of walking as well as also a separate 1,000 mile biking. I was in for a nasty surprise this past Thanksgiving when I realized that I still had over 250 miles to cover on the bike before Dec. 31.  Early snowfalls and some brutal single digit temps led me to sufferer through a few  slushy bone chilling rides, but I made it.

Road rode yesterday
Road rode yesterday

I plan to amassing at least 100 bike miles a month from now until my birthday on March 27.

What about you?   Ready for a mileage goal of 1,000 miles to invite you outside more?      Who is in for a belated New year’s revolution or two?

You might not have to ride ice to get there.

Rollins Trails/ Ragged/Snow Bowl
Rollins Trails/ Ragged/Snow Bowl
Riding ON Hosmer Pond !
Riding ON Hosmer Pond !

My Birthday Weekend- Hiking The Hills

Exiting the car in the iced-over parking lot on Friday afternoon I decided to leave my Stabilicer traction devices in the vehicle. 

My brother Roy was already walking on the multi-purpose trail and he shouted over, “No ice here” so in they went. I hate carrying extra weight and with all the pierogis, kielbasa, and my 8 person car-camping cook set bloating my pack I was well into 30 plus pounds on my back.  Stabilicers would have helped this weekend.

I started humping up the big hill.  Auntie Mame was walking beside me, decked out in her rain poncho.  My brother Roy was up ahead, as he was for most of the weekend’s hikes.

Mame and Roy embracing the real world of backpacking
Mame and Roy embracing the real world of backpacking

Less than a half-mile up the hill, we encountered the two lead hikers in our party, Kristi and David Kirkham, who love their granddaughter’s baby carriage so much that they use it any chance that they can !

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No child was smothered on this hike

It was alternately sleeting and raining, so the following 9 miles were a slush walk.

Walking in cold rain at under 40 degrees is a setup for hypothermia. Once again, I was slightly under dressed:  two thin merino undershirts- one short  and one long sleeved, and a ratty, old Patagonia Specter rain shell holding it all together. In these conditions, I have to have something covering my hands. Today, the fix was waterproof mitten shells with felted wool mittens liners.

Who cares? We are staying in a cabin heated by a wood stove. Wet clothes will be dried out. Miles were traveled.  Old friends are also with me.

After we dropped off  our packs at the shelter, I accompanied Auntie Mame out to the alternate parking lot.

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A Prudently Prepared Auntie Mame (Note poles, poncho, Stabilicers on her feet, and a hat!)

We were bringing in the last member of our overnight party. Both of us decided to accompany Ann Breyfogle on her walk in to join us.

Those two ladies had no problem walking up yet another big hill and making a couple of more miles as the foggy evening light started to fade.
Mame and Ann heading to shelter

For me, this weekend was also about hiking, and my plan for Saturday was to roll the walking odometer over into double digits for the day. I am fortunate enough to still have people who not only want to do this with me, but have the ability to make it happen.

Ann, Pat Hurley, and my brother Roy joined me.  Here is a photo taken at the today’s high point atop Mt. Megunticook.

Roy , Ann, and Pat
Roy , Ann, and Pat

Unfortunately there are no views from the summit so we descended on the often icy Ridge Trail.

Pat, making good use of his trekking poles on the ice
Pat, making good use of his trekking poles on the ice

We quickly reached the highly popular Ocean Lookout.

Pat pointing to his house in Rockland
Pat pointing to his house in Rockland

From here we descended to the junction of the Jack Williams Trail, which we followed for two miles where we came back onto the Ridge Trail.  I showed the group a short cut that eliminated a dangerously icy incline at the start of Zeke’s, which we took back to the Multipurpose Trail and the end of our day’s hike.  Here’s the morning’s Strava data:

screenshot 17The 5.5 mile hike took us two hours, which was super good time for the often icy path.   After an afternoon of reading, sleeping, and gabbing, Roy, Pat and I decided to take a night hike up to the top of Bald Rock Mountain.  Here are Pat and Roy, just before the sun left u in darkness.

What's up in that tree?
What’s up in that tree?

Kristi told us the moon rise over the Atlantic would not happen until 10:30 PM. She was absolutely correct. Although the starlight was astounding, we did need headlamps on the way down off Bald Rock and back to our shelter, where we added another 5 miles to our tally for the day.

Despite the crappy weather getting in on Friday, the weekend was a huge success.  If any of you know Ann, ask her about Uncle Tom’s uncanny ability to psychically locate lost car keys, including her’s.  I’d also like to thank John Bangeman for his Saturday visit, and a huge shout out to Martha Conway-Cole for guiding Pat and the rest of us through a most excellent, best ever, Saturday morning breakfast.

Special thanks also to Milllie’s PierogisTrouble Coffee, Leki Trekking poles, and this specialty paeo food that we consumed on on Saturday morning:

It's Bacon!
It’s Bacon!

My 2016 birthday present to myself was a weekend hanging with my brother, wife, and great outdoor adventure pals in ascending 3179 vertical feet in 21 miles.

Microadventure accomplished!

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Jamrogs left, Kirkhams right. Plus Hurley and the carriage.

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

My Fake Camping Day

This was the week when my backpacking pal Bad Influence and I were to set up a hot tent base camp for three nights in Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park and enjoy day trips out of that heated tent, either fat tire biking, snowshoeing or skiing. A weird weather shift from 14 degrees below zero to 51 degrees over a 24 hour period last weekend set up a stretch of rain, high winds and warm days that forced us to cancel our trip.

So, I found myself  in the rather unusual position of having time at home cleared of any particular schedule.

I decided to head out.

There wasn’t much I could do on Tuesday, the first day we were supposed to hike in.  The rain was driving into the south side of the house in sheets, at the same time that the outdoor thermometer read 50, and the foot of snow cover was rapidly turning into heavy slush.

But Wednesday looked better, and even though it barely dropped to the freezing mark overnight, the snow was too loose to pedal on with my Ice Cream Truck. I decided to spend the morning  connecting up the ends of two of my  hikes.

I should have put the map, compass, and traction devices into my day pack. I fared OK, with my GPS and iPhone, but could have done better.

After walking east on High Street from the house, I veered left and headed north.  Someone had been into the Tarantino ‘s land after the ground thawed and chewed it up pretty bad.

Landowner might be pissed
Landowner might be pissed

After mucking my way up that lane, I sloshed along the edge of this long hay field.

Big hay field looking toward sunrise
Big hay field looking toward sunrise

At the far corner of the field, the trail goes over this old stone wall onto one of the oldest roads in town. Now abandoned, this road heads directly into Searsmont on its way to Augusta. It dates back to the early 1700’s.

Trucks churn mud. Period.
Trucks wore down the wall

Here is a picture of lives gone by. In the forefront are old bricks that were likely were once a part of the chimney of the house where just a crumbling stone foundation remain behind.

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Old bricks front from foundation in back

Less than two hundred feet later, the old road breaks open into this panoramic wild blueberry field.  I once had the good fortune of seeing this glorious  stretch of landscape from Ben’s helicopter.

Looking back, trail on left
Looking back, trail on left

Soon, I descended onto the Muzzy Ridge Road, and then veered off to  the French Road North, where studded soles on the bottom of my boots would have helped on this section of icy road.

Traction needed here
Traction needed here

The hobbit world might be be right through these openings in these old corrals.

Ancient walled corrals
Ancient walled corrals

This very old cemetery is at the end of a series of small walled areas.

Buzzell Cemetary
Buzzell Cemetery

An the last passable point on French Road North this rehab project is headed for wet times due to the open door.

Rough winter ahead yet
Rough winter ahead yet

From here, I have to figure out the connector to the other end of French Road.

Slogging along
Slogging along

Here’s a strong-running melt stream that I jumped across.  It reminded me of hiking in the high Sierras.

Ready to jump
Ready to jump

Eventually I came upon signage.

Finally, signs
Finally, signs

Things were headed in the right direction as I moved uphill to the ridge.

Cut over beech growth
Cut over beech growth

Eventually I made it out again to Moody Mountain Road, somewhere other than French Road North.

Downhill from here
Downhill from here

Strava records from this hike follow, walking counterclockwise from my house on High Street.  (Note:  I went out again for along hike the next day, where I did even better in completing the linkage between French Roads North and South)

Moody Mountain ramble
Moody Mountain ramble

screenshot 9

My Keynote address at the Winter Camping Skills Symposium

In October of 2014,  I flew out to Minnesota where I delivered the Saturday night Keynote address at the Annual Winter Camping Symposium.  I just discovered that Four Dog Stove has released a video of my 90 minute presentation.  I have had several folks tell me that they would very much like to have heard my presentation.

Well, here it is.

I thank my good friend and supporter, Don Kivelus, of Four Dog Stove, for spurring me into action when the scheduled speaker, Mors Kochanski, took sick at his home in British Columbia and was unable to fly to the US to speak to the group.  I used Four Dog’s Bushcooker LT multi-fuel titanium backpacking  stove on my 2010 PCT and and 2013 CDT thru hikes.

Many folks don’t know that,  in addition to his sales of  stoves, Don is one of the top mail order suppliers to the bushcraft community world-wide.

Four Dog has also invested in professional Youtube support to bring an array of instructional videos to the pubic. Don’s YouTube page is a storehouse of almost one hundred interesting and informative information to keep you safe and warm in the outdoors.

Contact me at thomasjamrog@me.com if you would like to have this type of presentation or  workshops at your organization’s event. 

 

 

Snowstorm+Strava=Microadventure !

I got another nudge from my son Lincoln this week. The Jamrog guys ( plus Stephanie, my one and only daughter-in-law) all use the Strava app.  If you don’t know about it, you should.  I don’t care about the competitive aspects of the app, but am really pumped up about the Goals that you are able to access from the premium membership at just $59  a year.

I have set two activity goals for myself this year. Well… three.
In 2015, I was able to use Strava Premium to ramp up the number of times that I went out the door and hike, walk, or ride my bike.  My goal was to put 365 hours of exercise in for the calendar year.  I ended up bettering that by logging 406 hours.

This year, I plan to:
1)    Ride mountain bikes 1,000 miles
2)    Hike 1,000 miles.
3)    Log 456 hours doing this two activities

Lincoln and I were talking two days ago on the phone and he told me that he is trying to shoot for 8 hours a week, so that he can reach 365 hours of activity out  in Montana.  His reasoning is that by going for 1 more hour each week or a regular basis, you build up a bank of hours to draw on for those days when you just can’t get out.

So, I checked my Strava progress for January.

January data
January data

Last week, I had starting to fall behind in reaching my goals, so in the last week, I have almost caught up.

Here’s an encouraging post from today. We have a full blow blizzard outside right now, but who cares? I was able to log an hour and forty-five minutes and over 6 miles this morning.

Today's snowstorm hike
Today’s snowstorm hike

I’m only able to catch up by walking at night and stretching a bit. For example, I walked in today’s snowstorm.  I’ll do whatever it takes to try and ramp up my activity.  It’s a long and sometimes bleak winter up here in Maine and exercise really makes the difference in my outlook.

I also had a microadventure today.

Instead of sticking to High Street, I detoured up and over the ridge off Moody Mountain and then went along Muddy Ridge Road and back around Levensellar Pond to get back home.

A mysterious set of tracks heading off beside what we call the Tarantino farm lured me into the woods.

Who?  Where ?
Who? Where ?

I decided to check out where this truck went.

The tracks went all the way up through a long narrow hayfield, where then ended just before a break in a stone wall over which I am able to ride my bikes. I had gone in so far off road at this point that I decided to keep going uphill on the unbroken snow to reach Muzzy Ridge Road.

Here are some photos of my personal bike path.

Camouflaged trail
Camouflaged trail

I am not showing you the bypasses to obstructions that I have cut for myself in these pics.

IMG_0005
Trail is close to the left of the oak’s trunk

Before the snow came this month, I took Mike Hartley for a ride . This is what the top looks like in full fall color:

IMG_0007

Here is what it looks like now.

IMG_0006 (1)

Coming over the high point, I started walking north where I saw another fresh set of 4WD tracks coming south from Muzzy Ridge Road that stopped before the serious tangle of trees on this old road.  I decided that the same truck had worked its way up both sides in an unsuccessful effort to make a continuous trip from High Street to Muzzy Ridge Road.

This is just the sort of back woods adventuring that I really enjoy doing in my rural neighborhood.  It is also why I’m done with the gym.

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

Microadventures
Microadventures

“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

Glo-Toob
Glo-Toob

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