July 24, 2012

Hiking: They're seeing the light

Ultra-light hiking has grown to spawn an industry for hikers who hike simply because, well, they enjoy it.

"I think there are two misunderstandings about ultra-light hikers. That it's for speed or for long hikes. I like to carry loads like this for a weekend trip. For me it's about not being exhausted at the top of the mountain and feeling like I carried a dead body up there," said Ryan Linn, a Camden (Maine) native and longtime ultra-light hiker.

Hiking: They’re seeing the light - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. <-- click to read the full article!

April 27, 2012

The Long Trail - Training Hike

The Long Trail is a 273 mile foot path in Vermont. It follows the main ridge of Green Mountains from the Massachusetts / Vermont line to the Canadian border. It is the oldest long distance hiking trail in the United States.

I've hiked all but the northern most 88 miles of the Long Trail. I plan on completing it this June. I'll start at the Canadian border and hike south to Rte. 2 in Jonesville. 

In preparation I've been doing a series of training hikes. The general plan is to hike every other day. On each hike I'll increase the amount of weight I carry. After I max-out the weight I'll start increasing my distance. This is my normal training hike routine. 

April 19, 2012

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

America's Best Idea - the national parks - gets even better with several fee-free days at more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees.*
Mark your calendar for these fee-free dates in 2012:
  • April 21-29
  • National Park Week
  • June 9
    Get Outdoors Day
  • September 29
    National Public Lands Day
  • November 10-12
    Veterans Day weekend

April 18, 2012

1922 A.M.C. White Mountain Guide

It's a safe bet to say that probably every hiker in New England owns a copy of the Appalachian Mountain Club's "White Mountain Guide". It is the go-to guide book for hiking the trails and summits of the White Mountain National Forest and surrounding areas.

The Appalachian Mountain Club was founded in 1876 and published their first White Mountain Guide in 1907. It has been updated regularly over the years and is now in its 29th edition.

Thanks to Google Books, you can take a trip back to the past and view a digitized copy of the 1922 White Mountain Guide.

I find it fascinating to see how things have changed...

April 10, 2012

L.L. Bean ParkFinder

L.L. Bean Introduces ParkFinder. Search Thousands of National Park, State Park, and Public Lands across the United States. 

Powered by Oh, Ranger!, L.L.Bean ParkFinder is a database of all Federal and State Managed Public Lands throughout the United States, complete with directions, seasonal tips and suggested outdoor activities.

April 1, 2012

Hiking at Bradbury Mountain - South Ridge Trail

What better way to spend a warm early spring-like day than to take your grandson hiking at Bradbury Mountain!

The original plan was for 3 of us to grab a bite to eat and then take a walk, but Gage said to Meme "I'd really like to take a Grampy Hike... just me and him"

Meme was OK with that so I took Gage to Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownell Maine. In case you don't know, 4 year olds have a short attention span. Hiking is what we call it, but playing is what it's all about. Playing outdoors!

March 29, 2012

Ultralight Backpacking -- 9 Questions to Help You Choose The Right Lightweight Shelter

One of the main contributors to backpack weight is your shelter. Two-person tents can weigh six pounds or more. Even a solo tent can be heavy after a long day of backpacking. And that weight seems to be cumulative on an extended hike, getting heavier day after day. If you want to cut pack weight, your shelter is a good place to start.

March 23, 2012

Alcohol Stoves for Ultralight Backpacking

Alcohol Stoves for backpacking and hiking are available in a variety of styles. There are DIY homemade alcohol stoves made from Cat food, Soda, or Beer cans. You can buy commercially available alcohol stoves made from brass, aluminum, or titanium. With so many different choices what Alcohol Stove do I like the best?

March 8, 2012

BaxterTrails. A new Blog from Baxter State Park

BaxterTrails is a new Blog from the fine folks up at Baxter State Park. The blog's subtitle is "Current conditions of the trails in Baxter Park and about the Park itself." The blog has been online since January 11, 2012. I'm sure you'll find it interesting!
BaxterTrails: I spent the day once again in the north end of the...: I spent the day once again in the north end of the Park, traveling to Russell Pond from Matagamon.  Conditions in the Park today were perfec...

March 6, 2012

Maine Trail Finder - Hike, bike, walk, ski, or snowshoe!

Finding Maine trails to walk, hike, snowshoe, ski, or mountain bike just got a whole lot easier!
Maine Trail Finder is a free online resource for people-powered trails in the state. Search a growing database of four-season trails to find the right trail for your next adventure. Browse interactive trail maps, trail descriptions, pictures, and trip reports. 

March 2, 2012

My First Ultralight Backpacking Trip

My first Ultralight Backpacking trip was in 1999. I hiked 128 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont averaging 19 miles per day.  My total pack weight was 23 pounds. That included 5 days of food and 20oz(!) of fuel. My base pack weight was 11.5 lbs. 

That backpacking trip was an experiment for me. Prior to it I was a traditional backpacker carrying a normal assortment of popular backpacking gear. Little did I know my whole way of thinking was about to change!

February 29, 2012

Katahdin Cam

Mt Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. At 5268' it is the highest mountain in Maine and the center piece of Baxter State Park. Before you head out  for your trip check out the conditions using these web cams!

February 27, 2012

Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail in Four Minutes

Green Tunnel from Kevin Gallagher on Vimeo.
It's estimated that each year 2-3 million people hike on the Appalachian Trail. For some it might be for a week, a day, a mile, or maybe less. For a small fraction of that number the goal is to thru-hike all 2180 miles from Springer Mountain GA to Mt Katahdin ME.

February 24, 2012


"The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders." 
                                               - Edward Abbey

February 23, 2012

Physical Preparations for Long Distance Hiking

"All I could do was sit in the middle of the trail and keep myself from crying. My two hiking partners scattered into the woods to look for a campsite for the night while I tried to maintain control over my exhausted body and splintered mind. I could feel every part of my body, from the blisters on the bottom of my feet, to my aching quads, to the pounding pain in my head. We had hiked ten miles and less than three thousand feet in the White Mountains of New Hampshire over the course of an eight hour day, which was about twice what I was able to handle. The last few hours were a blur of bad memories. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was. There was no joy in my life."

February 20, 2012

Garcelon Bog Conservation Area

The Garcelon Bog is owned by the City of Lewiston, and with a conservation easement held by Androscoggin Land Trust, protects over 100 acres of ecologically significant wetland in the heart of the second largest urban area in Maine It is a unique ecological feature in the City and contains a variety of natural habitat types including forested, open and emergent wetlands that support a wide variety of plant and animal species

There are two trails located within the Bog.

February 19, 2012

Katahdin in Winter - Baxter and Hamlin Peaks

Climbing  Mt Katahdin in winter has been a dream of mine for years. Something about Maine's highest peak in winter has always fascinated me.

On February 24th 2008 the dream became a reality as  Phil Schlosser, Mark Rolerson, Mark Lowell and I set off from Abol Bridge at 5:30am on ski's.

Our route would take us up Abol Slide and across the Tableland to include both Baxter and Hamlin peaks.

February 17, 2012

Europe Hammered by Winter, Is North America Next?

After a slow start to winter around much of the Northern Hemisphere, Europe recently plunged into a deep freeze. Climatologist Bill Patzert describes how Mother Nature has done an about face.

Feb 16, 2012: For the first half of this year's winter, the big news was warm temperatures and lack of snow. Ski resorts were covered in bare dirt, while January temperatures in southern California topped July highs.
Then, out of the blue, Europe got clobbered: Over the past two weeks, temperatures in Eastern Europe have nose-dived to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit). Blizzards and the bone-chilling cold have resulted in the deaths of over 550 people so far, with rooftop-high snow drifts trapping tens of thousands of villagers in their homes and cutting off access to entire towns. It has even snowed as far south as North Africa.

February 15, 2012

What is Lightweight Hiking? Why should I hike light?

The answer most ultralight hikers would give is: It’s more fun. Lightweight backpackers typically say they feel free, close to nature, and enjoy not having the burden of a heavy pack.
Ultralight backpacking typically is not “fast packing” or covering as many miles as possible. It’s about hiking at the pace you like and enjoying it a lot more. The simplicity of ultralight hiking allows you to spend more time on the trail seeing more of the beauties of nature.

February 13, 2012

The 10 Essentials of (Ultralight) Hiking

The Ten Essentials is a list of gear to help keep you safe on any outing. It was developed in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based hiking, climbing, and conservation organization.

You need to stay found, hydrated, fed, dry, and warm (or cool in desert regions). The best and lightest things to take on your adventures are expertise and good judgement.

With some planning most of the 10 items can be kept to under an ounce in weight, so they are not a burden to carry.

February 11, 2012

Happy feet? Backpacking and Hiking Shoes

One of the real joys of Ultralight Backpacking is being able to wear really comfortable hiking shoes!
There is really nothing worse than having your feet hurt when you are still miles away from the trail head.
I've been wearing trail runners for all my hiking, backpacking, and bushwhacking adventures since 2001. At that time conventional wisdom deemed it rather foolish to venture off-pavement with such lightweight shoes... oh have the times changed!

February 9, 2012

A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Appalachian Trail

"Planning for an extended trek on the Appalachian Trail can be easy. There are probably hundreds of books,websites, articles and guides on how to backpack on this trail. 
For the same reason, planning a hike on the Appalachian Trail can be intimidating. Esp if a person is new to backpacking and/or long distance hiking, the sheer amount of resources can be overwhelming. Where do you start??!?!?!" 

February 5, 2012

Lewiston's Roof - A walk in Thorncrag

Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary in Lewiston Maine is a 372 acre nature preserve. At an elevation of 510 feet it is the highest point in the city. 

Thorncrag sits as a green capstone, a quiet forested oasis surrounded on three sides by the hustle and bustle of urban and suburban development. I come here often to escape for a while.

February 4, 2012

Appalachian Trail - becoming a "2000 Miler"

My first Appalachian Trail hike was in 1972. What started out as a week long adventure had turned into a life long passion. It took me 31 years to complete the A.T. one section at a time. In 2003 I earned my "2000 Miler" status atop Pleasant Pond Mtn in Maine. To quote Ed Garvey, it truly was "An Adventure of a Lifetime".

February 3, 2012

Ultralight Tarp Basics - location, location, location!

During my Bold Coast trip I spent the night under my Tarp high atop a bluff overlooking the Atlantic ocean. The thunderstorm that evening was intense!

Since 2001 I've used a tarp for shelter while Ultralight Backpacking.  It's 8'x10', made from Silnylon, and weights 13.3 ounces. I purchased it from Campmor. It has served me well.

February 2, 2012

Maine's Bold Coast Trail

The Bold Coast Trail is a 10 mile loop located in Cutler Maine. The trail winds along the Atlantic coast for almost five miles of dramatic cliff-bound hiking. Think Acadia National Park without the crowds! 
From the trailhead located on Rt 191 East of Cutler Maine, the trail goes through a spruce-fir forest and crosses a cedar swamp before dramatically