Saturday, October 18, 2014

On Grid Gluttony

Today we packed out of the Gulf Hagas. The water was up, the photos were taken, the last video of folks braving the chill filmed.

Holy cow! Is this it? Daily internet, unlimited electricity, music, old new, and mediocre?
I don't think I'll even be able to sleep tonight. Clothes are washed. Hiking gear de-mudded and packed. I might soon be facing post-parting depression!

But hold on. One more  day of work, yes, work we call it cause there's a set time to go and share our seasonal experiences and recommendations with my co-workers, Grace and Ian and all others who show up. Only time will tell what new faces might await. Our host is even going to feed us lunch.


Heading back to Idaho, and whatever lies beyond, I want to thank everyone for their comments and kind e-mails. I've met so many fantastic people, and I love their accent.

Maine is a wonderful state full of happy people. Everyone I've met in this great mystical North Woods has been very kind and helpful.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Seasonal Lessons



The Gulf Hagas is about closed down. Plenty of bunch berry to eat, moose wanderings, people scarce. That's my report. The few I see out here are thru hikers pressing to the Mountain. Several did mega miles after reporting running, or nearly running out of food. It a good catalyst to get er done.



If you thought the river was cold, or the rock hop impossible, it sure is now. Heavy rains washed a bunch of rocks off kilter. Just wade now, knee deep, if you have to.



One really disturbing note. Three different fires, built in the crotch of pine tree roots, high up in the duff (not on wet leaves, like these) have had to be extinguished. Somebody out there, who even wrote on a rock 2100 miles!, thinks this is a viable way to build campfires. Not only are unauthorized camp fires illegal, they can get under the duff and smoulder for weeks, eventually popping up when the wind hits it right.
Some think Maine is so wet. But, dig down into that duff, as I did to excavate one such fire, and find out how dry that duff is. The fire had burnt the roots and up under the tree. Passing thru hikers poured all their water on it, alerted me of the site just south of the Katahdin Iron Works road. I hiked up quickly with 2 quarts of water and spent the next two hours extinguishing and digging it out.

The fine for an illegal fire is $1,000 bucks. I hope they catch some and make a lasting impression.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Knee High Rubber Boot Review

I'm sold on tall rubber boots. For Twenty bucks and a pair of warm socks, I can now cross the West Pleasant in total comfort. The color here in Maine is outstanding, too. A lady saw my boots and said, "With two pair of wool socks, they make the best winter boots." I'm sure going to give it a shot.

Crossing the River in Rubber Boots

 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bears Like Beer, Too


I found this beer can while hiking the Gulf Hagas loop. Now that the old leaves are shrinking back, more items are surfacing.


Check out the ragged teeth marks. A good friend, a Mainer, told me baiting bears, right before and leading up to hunting season is legal. There are so many bears here, its a population control thing.
Upon reflection, makes sense. Bears will associate human food with death. Mother bears will warn their youngins, "Do Not eat that, you're goin' die!"


Here in camp, the laptop lunch break. Powering up on battery, its a touchy situation. There's only a couple hours to type the journal. So, once the page is loaded, its all systems go, no wandering around, thinking up things to say. Of course, there is no wifi or cell service, but the laptop keeps me sane as the darkness and cold progress.


Crossing the river becomes an entertaining event. Check out my youtube channel or 
Brawnyview to see the footage of this dude making light.
Tuesday, a woman fell in the early stages, and lay, turtle fashion, her pack in the water, until her husband lifted her up.
I left them figure it out. My job is education. No search and rescue needed here. The man had it.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Video on Beekeeping

On my days off from the Gulf, my friends Bruce and Nancy welcome me into their home. Many times, there's an adventure in store.

I met a woman building her own home. I met a woman running a blueberry farm. I learned about the back roads into the 100 mile wilderness.


Today, I met a neighbor who does bees. Now, I'm not a fan of getting stung. Still, camera in hand, I said sure to the invitation, layered up with clothes and hopped in the car.

Half an hour later, I had the hood up on my jacket and was wearing the best hat, shown below.

After the area was well doused with a pleasant smelling smoke, they began disassembling the hive.


Bees would cling to the drawers being removed. She told me there were tens of thousands of bees in that hive. Being fall, the drones were being kicked out as useless after completing their task, and the worker bees, all females, were making honey.


The video on Beekeeping can be watched on youtube. The embedded version here sometimes crops the left side.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Its Getting Cold!

With a little more than 4 weeks to go living and working in the Gulf Hagas location, I'm having conflicting emotions.

Its fun seeing and meeting bundled up hikers coming through, shrieking because of the numbing cold water crossing, asking about the weather, admitting their excitement to get it done.

Its getting cold in these here hills, by golly, yeah!
I summited Kahtadin on August 14 after a 5 mile successful thru hike. Bound and determined not to freeze to death, I ended up reaching the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail during a heat alert.

Imagine that! Yes, it gets hot in August, and we looked forward to the cool crisp days of autumn. Well, they have arrived.

Packs are heavier, food bags more substantial, but the miles will come.

By the time I meet northbounders, they are 4 days from their goal. I did meet one southbounder this week.
"Sorta late, isn't it?" I asked cheerfully.
"Just seeing how far I can get," he replied. Before what, I wanted to ask, but didn't

Some leave the trail with an excuse in mind. The knees hurt, the feet hurt, the family needs you.

But really, you don't need to make anything up. Its cold, wet and muddy out there. Just say you're sick of it. Most people don't know why you went at all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Survivalists for Real




This week I met a combat veteran thru hiking with her mom, on the Appalachian Trail. Her pack had five names across the back, three of which were friends lost in battle, two post war suicides. To learn more about her journey and 20 years in the service, check out her blog:Post War Hike Blog


As we sat eating lunch at the West Pleasant River Crossing, there on the AT, in the Gulf Hagas, I couldn't help but think what a survivor she was. Afghanistan, Iraq, training as the only woman in a unit in the desert, it must have taken some mental fortitude to keep going.

And that's what we see with all the various hikers coming through, from the oldest, and 80 year old man who celebrated his birthday on the trail, to the young girl hiking with her family. No matter what the gear, or the menu, its all about mindset, sometimes just taking one mountain at a time.


Saturday we had jets flying over for the festival in Greenville. I couldn't see the military aircraft because of the cloud cover, but  a great sense of gratitude came over me. I am glad to be an American.