Thursday, December 17, 2015

Of Moose and Men

My new book is now available at Barnes and Noble.

Of Moose and Men-Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness is a non-fictional account of the summer I worked for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. I taught Leave No Trace, monitored trail usage and assisted people from all walks of life enjoying the great outdoors.

Published in March 2015, I used exclusively for nine months. Now, I'm making it available for NOOK readers as well.

Some of the comments I've received in the reviews posted there I will now address.

Embedded in this book is a fictional story I wrote in my head as the months wore on. I spent a lot of time alone and the Appalachian Trail culture birthed a What-If scenario.
People have disappeared from the trail. What If I did, as well? The fictional account is short, but also gives insight into the amazing lifestyle long distance hikers adopt. Plus it shows how I coped with living off grid, alone, for five months.

Then, someone said it was 'creepy' that I was assessing every guy I met. I also assessed the women. Part of my job was to help people be prepared for what lay ahead and keep folks from getting over their heads. Most of that precautionary task dealt with day hikers, section hikers and south bounders. Some north bounders, just 83 miles from Katahdin, needed to retrace their steps to a hospital.

In a brutally honest fashion, I gave an inside look to my private musings, hopes and dreams. Not always pretty. I loved Maine and its people. They were friendly, fun and rugged. If you ever get a chance to hike the Appalachian Trail, or perhaps just do the Hundred Mile Wilderness, be prepared to spend some time nursing aching knees, and give my best to the folks in Millinocket at the AT Lodge.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Warning! Rant to Follow

I haven't written in a month.
I'm fairly pissed with the whole survivalist idea.
Somehow we've come full circle until what was a normal human endeavor, to survive any crisis, and prepare for danger, has become a spectator sport where so call normal humans watch reality t-v shows on survival.

Not like you're going to learn anything by watching the same old fights and struggles for food and water.
Contrived. Damn contrived.

A bit of history. After four years of being begged to try out for Naked and Afraid, I finally agreed to do a couple short films for an effort to shut them up. I told them over and over I'm too old, too calm, and besides, what's the challenge of being alone in the wilderness with what you have on your back? Long distance hikers do that all the time.

Of course, I wasn't picked. Didn't expect to be. My footage was me calmly making shelter and fire with flint, gathering edibles, talking about survivalism. Boring. No yelling, no crying, no running, no screaming.
Stinks. You viewers would vote me off the waves.

Okay. No sour grapes here. Recently, I've been invited to find a sibling to survive with. Or baring that, (my siblings think survival means going with out pizza or beer) show how we live off grid for long periods of time.

What? There are real people doing that all the time. Millions of youtube videos chronicling skills on that very subject.
Come on, New York, or Hollywood, or whoever puts out these lame ideas, get real.

So on my magnificent, soul busting, Wonderland Trail, I promised myself to stop striving.

Striving: pushing crap through life for no apparent reason. Here on the mountain, chefs have quit so many times, we quit believing them. Others milk the clock and claim they're worked to the bone, can't even take a day off. Get real. No one's that indispensable. If they listed their day's work, it wouldn't even fill two lines.

But winter's coming, and I'm heading south. Not even saying where. Don't want anyone trying to meet me there.

Rant's done.
I'm leaving this blog up because I've been honest and open and hope someone can glean good stuff.
There's photos and stories and reviews.

To all things there is an end. Not saying I won't write some more, but right now I'm have it with so called survival promotions. Its all been said. Its all been done. Enough.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wonderland MINI Report

This buck was up near Sunrise. I saw him on my second morning. I get up at daybreak. Seems he was wondering where the does were. I could have told him. Just opposite the meandering trail.

Lots of berries are out. I saw two big poop piles, smack in the trail. Bears are loving it too.
After 3.5 days (got in at noon) I'm one beat puppy. Had lots of time to think on these 93 miles. Designated camps ensured someone would be there each night. How strange, though, we were supposed to hang our food bags, yet we could cook right by our tents. Of course, I didn't cook, only took gorp, so I could get this done light and fast.
A very gorgeous trail. I didn't see a lick of rain the entire time. The water was sketchy in spots, though, which made me think, maybe a little precipitation was in order.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wonderland Trail

Tomorrow morning I head out to do the Wonderland Trail. This falls into the category: be careful what you wish for, you might just get to do it.
I have four days off.
It should be enough.
Its been hard keeping my blogs updated because of very limited internet here at Mount Rainier and the long drive from Longmire, where I live in my motorhome, to Paradise where I cook for the employees. But, I love where I live, and love the views, so, that's my excuse for lazy writing.
When I finish this trail, there should be photos and ultralight tips. I did get permits.
Light and fast, that's the ticket.
93 miles and a ton of mountains.
Loving it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Surviving the Seasonal Job

 Waterfalls and rock scrambles make living on the mountain worth it. The job is challenging because of staffing issues. Namely, unskilled, non English speaking workers who aren't motivated. They've got a couple weeks until they return to their country. I don't blame them Viva America.

Oh well. Wild blueberries are in season, so I'm eating them, and other wild plants, as I enjoy the great views. There are a lot of people on the trails, in spite of the road construction making driving through the park tedious. I laughed yesterday when an older guy asked if Snow Lake was just half a mile further. I said yes. His wife then asked, Uphill? I replied, everything in this park is uphill.

This view is from the top of Pinnacle Peak. Fantastic. Its a 1.3 mile hike to the saddle. The last tenth is a  rock scramble, not unlike Chairback Mountain in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. Doable, but take your time. I found descending to be more treacherous. I hike alone, and if I fall, it might be awhile before I can crawl out.

With eleven weeks to go until the end of season, I'm still hoping on doing the Wonderland Trail, a 93 jaunt that circumvents the mountain whose profile resembles tines on a fork. Permits required. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

News From the Mountain

A few gear reviews are in order. I bought this electric heater one month ago and absolutely love it. It was on sale for $11 bucks at Walmart. At first, I hesitated. The original price was $38.99, so how could I go wrong?

It seemed like it would take up a lot of space and the description on the box said it took a while to warm up. Based on circulating hot oil through the coils, it looked sketchy. With 34 x 8 feet of living space, I consider each item carefully before I add it to my collection.
This piece, however is a total winner.

Within ten minutes, you can feel the heat building. There's no open flame or noise. Imagine that. Silence! Its heaven.
There are three settings on the main knob, plus a range of heat options on a second knob. The brand name is Pelonis. Not sure if other brands would be as lovely. I use it quite often here at Mount Rainier because the evening cool off wonderfully. This item is a definite keeper and belongs on an R-Ver's wish list.

Next, for only $12, also at Walmart, I bought this "electric" kettle that heats 1.7 liters of water within minutes to boiling. Now, you might ask yourself why you'd want that. Well, if your water heater runs only on propane, but you are hooked to shore power, you can heat enough water to wash dishes, take a sponge bath or make oatmeal and coffee. If you do tea and instant coffee, you use this instead of a coffee pot. It has an on/off switch and coils inside the pot. Two selling points.  
I use it daily.

Next on the wish list: a car dolly. In three months, I'll be pulling away from here, towing new car. Any recommendations? I will be choosing between a trailer and dolly.

This little wooden set is part of my interior decorations. They make me smile.

Good news. All my leaks have been adequately sealed by yours truly.
The learning curve is flattening. I'm getting the hang of this and love it. Buying this motor home has proven to be a great decision.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hunting for Caves

I found this awesome cave at Mount Rainier National Park while on a solo hike. I won't divulge its exact location in case I ever need to totally escape. Water, wild edibles and complete shelter are its perks. I created a second video detailing my 'bug out' kit, which is a grab and go pack weighing under five pounds. Stay tuned for that post. Please comment.