Tag Archive 'wilderness'

Jan 28 2015

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Maine Hiking Narrative

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UT coverFinally the Maine hiking narrative has reached print. A lot of readers have been waiting for it, I realize. I’ve been busy promoting my Adirondack book during the past year and a half so I’m just now getting around to publishing this. At any rate, The Unexpected Trail is now available both as a paperback and a Kindle download at Amazon.com. Those of you would like to purchase it directly from me can go to woodthrushbooks.com. I’ll have copies in-house and ready to ship in a week or so.

The Unexpected Trail is a detailed account of my trek through the 100 Mile Wilderness, located in northern Maine. It’s the most remote section of the entire Appalachian Trail, where supplies cannot be acquired. That means anyone hiking it has to carry provisions enough for ten days, at least.

Fording rivers, traversing two mountain ranges, and slogging through bogs – yeah, it was a tough hike to be sure. But Maine’s sprawling North Woods is lush, wild and beautiful.  Most of its backcountry lakes and ponds are pristine. Well worth the effort, even for a chubby, old woods wanderer like me.

Matika, my longhaired German shepherd, accompanied me on this trek. She carried a few things in her doggie backpack and provided lots of comic relief along the way. I was worried about her ability to navigate the toughest sections of trail, but she stayed out of trouble for the most part.

This narrative is similar to previous ones that I’ve written yet it has its own distinctive flavor. I’ve done my best to capture the unique character of the Maine Woods – it’s history and ongoing land-use fight as well as its flora and fauna. I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

 

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May 22 2014

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Abstractions and the Cosmos

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AndromedaGalaxyLate May, when the world is all green and flowers are blooming, seems like a lousy time of year to immerse oneself in cosmic abstractions. Only a fool would venture deep into space and philosophical speculations about the nature of the universe while a balmy breeze is caressing the moist earth. I am guilty as charged.

A little over a month ago, I pulled out my cosmos manuscript, mothballed for eight years, and started revising it. I’m about three-fourths of the way through that process now, having worked like a madman on it early each morning as robins sing mindlessly outside my window. It’s a passion out of sync with the season, I must confess.

Though few people see it that way, I consider my mad scribblings about cosmology a form of nature writing. After all, the universe is the ultimate wilderness where the nature of things plays out on a grand scale. It seems silly to me to discuss the meaning and purpose of our lives here on this planet without considering the big picture. All the same, I look forward to being a little more down to earth in the near future getting all sweaty, dirty and bug-bitten again in deep woods. Just have to wrap up this draft first.

 

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Feb 23 2014

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Deep Woods Talk

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Trail into WCLW copyOn Saturday, March 8th, I’ll be talking about the Northville/Placid Trail to my fellow Green Mountain Club members. I’m excited by the prospect. This will be my first time presenting to the GMC, and my first time using visuals.  Judy has helped me put together a slide show. If you live anywhere near the GMC Visitor Center in Waterbury Center, VT then come on down. $5 fee for members. $8 for non-members. The event starts at 7 pm.

If you miss that show, I’ll be at Stowe Library at 7 pm on Thursday, March 27th, doing something similar, reading from my NPT hiking narrative, The Allure of Deep Woods, and talking about the importance of wildness. As many of you know all too well, talking comes naturally to me.

While I’d rather be on the trail winding through the Adirondacks, talking about it with like-minded others is the next best thing. Like many Vermonters, I sometimes forego the lush, green mountains close to home for the sprawling forests on the other side of Lake Champlain. It’s a good thing to share.

When it comes to Adirondack wildness, the Northville/Placid Trail is the way to go. There are lots of people in the High Peaks region, especially during the summer. But it isn’t difficult to experience wilderness solitude on the NPT. That’s why I don’t mind talking about it. The NPT is the less-traveled path.

 

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May 31 2013

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Adirondack Book Now in Print

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ADWcoverMy narrative about hiking the Northville/Placid Trail, The Allure of Deep Woods, is now in print. I couldn’t be happier. The folks at North Country Books did a fine job with it.

The NPT passes through some of the most beautiful country in upstate New York’s Adirondack Park, traversing one wild forest and four wilderness areas. I was wet and muddy during most of that two-week trip but didn’t care. Just thinking about it makes me want to plan another big outing. What’s wrong with me?

As most of you know, I can’t walk a mile without making an observation about the natural world, commenting on the importance of wildness, or breaking into some historical rant. This book is chock full of it. I didn’t hold back.

You can order a copy by calling North Country Books at (315) 735-4877, or going to my website: woodthrushbooks.com. Enjoy!

 

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May 08 2013

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Hiking the NPT

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Into the WoodsAs most of you know by now, my book about hiking the Northville/Placid Trail will be released at the end of this month. In the meantime, check out the guest blog about the NPT that I have written for SectonHiker.com. It was posted earlier today.

Along with an overview of my two-week trek, there are a few photos of the Adirondacks in that guest blog. They give you some idea what the trail is like.

New York’s Adirondack Park is best known for its High Peaks, but the region has so much more to offer. The NPT is a grand tour of the sprawling forests and pristine waters that have attracted outdoor enthusiasts to the Adirondacks for well over a hundred and fifty years. I was fortunate enough to hike NPT in 2006, and have enjoyed many excursions into those deep woods over the years. It is truly magnificent country.

 

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Apr 03 2013

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Adirondack Book in the Works

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ADWcoverMy narrative about thru-hiking the Adirondacks, The Allure of Deep Woods, is close to reaching print. I have been working hard on it with Zach Steffen at North Country Books during the past month. The manuscript has gone through its final edit, the interior layout is complete now, and the cover has been designed. This book will be released in six weeks or so.  I can’t wait to share it with you.

The production process forced me to read ADW from beginning to end for the first time in years. I forgot how deeply it delves into the idea of wilderness and its importance to our overall well being. I also forgot how wet and muddy I got on that trek, and how enjoyable it was regardless. I think that my attention to detail in this narrative will make reading it enjoyable for you as well. As always, I’ve taken a you-are-there approach to writing about my backcountry experience.

The Northville/Placid Trail is not heavily traveled in the cool days of early September. That made my passage through those sprawling wilderness areas and wild forests even more solitary than anticipated. As a result this book oozes wildness. If it does what it’s intended to do, the wild will also stir deep within the reader. I look forward to this reaction.

 

 

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Jan 07 2013

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Coming Soon

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At long last, a hiking narrative to rival my Long Trail book has gone into production. The folks at North Country Books have assured me that my Adirondack tale, The Allure of Deep Woods, will be released this spring. I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect.

Back in 2006, I hiked the Northville/Placid Trail, which meanders for one hundred and thirty miles through five wild forests and sprawling wilderness areas, from the southwestern quarter of the Adirondack Mountains to Lake Placid. It was a good trip despite all the rain, giving me a taste of deep woods in early autumn.

In addition to being a detailed account of my encounters along the trail, this book outlines the history of the Adirondacks. It also recounts the early days of the wilderness preservation movement, since the origins of that movement can be traced to this part of the country. And there is plenty of talk about the importance of wildness, as well.  Yeah, this book covers a lot of ground.  I look forward to sharing it with all of you very soon.

 

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Jul 19 2012

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Return to West Canada Lakes

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Once again I loaded up my backpack and went to the West Canada Lakes Wilderness – my favorite part of the Adirondacks. This time I accessed it from the Moose River Recreation Area. A twenty-mile dirt road put me deep in the woods, to the desired trailhead. From there it was a relatively easy hike to Brooktrout Lake.

I had only three days so I made the most of it. I set up camp beneath some conifers along the edge of the lake then did a lot of nothing. It was just what the doctor ordered.

My dog Matika was with me, of course. She was bitten up badly by deer flies and mosquitoes, and overheated in the heat of high summer, but she enjoyed being there anyway. Matika loves the woods almost as much as I do.

On the second day, we walked over to West Lake – a place I had stayed for two nights while hiking the Northville/Placid Trail back in 2006. It felt strange being there, seeing the lake from the opposite shore, but it was good to connect the dots. Having taken four trips into the WCLW over the past decade, I’m really getting to know this sprawling roadless area. It has become my home away from home. I feel more spiritually connected to the wild here than anywhere else.

Yessir, a lot of nothing. After the short walk to West Lake, I returned to camp and hung out. A dip in Brooktrout Lake washed away the sweat. It cooled me down in more ways than one. After that it was easy to sit for most of the afternoon just ruminating and daydreaming. A raven, a pair of loons, and my dog kept me company.

The hike out the third day was predictably sweaty and buggy. I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. And my mind was a clean slate by the time I reached the car. Wilderness solitude is good for that. “What’s the big deal about being out here?” I ask myself at least once during every deep woods excursion. The answer is nothing, absolutely nothing.

 

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Sep 11 2011

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Alaska Podcasts

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Alaska is one of those places you never forget. In the sumer of ’92, I had a bush pilot drop me at a remote airstrip near the mouth of the Endicott River, and there I stayed for two weeks grooving with bears, eagles, ravens and salmon. That was almost twenty years ago.  It seems like yesterday.

Recently my stepson, Matt, started uploading 25-minute podcasts of me reading my book about that trip.  The downloads are free.  To listen to them, go to iTunes and type “arguing with the wind” into the search box.  You should hear echoes of the Alaskan wilderness in my voice.

If you want to know the whole story, you can always read my book: Arguing with the Wind.  It is still available at Amazon.com.  Or you can go to Wood Thrush Books and make other arrangements to acquire a copy.  Either way, it’s all there in black and white for anyone who’s curious.

Nowadays I’m trying to write about life after the Alaskan bush.  It isn’t easy.  I’m having a hard time gaining perspective. That trip was a real game-changer.  And the years before it seem like some kind of hallucination.  A part of me never left the bush, I guess.  It never will.  Once the wild gets under your skin, there’s no going back to that other way of looking at things.

 

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Dec 17 2010

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Arguing with the Wind

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Arguing with the Wind, an account of my two-week sojourn in the wilds of Southeast Alaska, has just been reprinted.  It is available at Amazon.com.  Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, ordering a copy is now as easy as clicking a button.  My modest publishing imprint, Wood Thrush Books, has finally entered the 21st Century.

I still have a few copies of the original edition, published back in 2003, that has an amateurish line drawing on the cover.  But the new edition sports a cover photo of the Kakuhan Range as seen from the coastal meadow near my base camp in the bush.  The book has also been revised ever so slightly and reformatted.  That said, the narrative remains essentially the same.

The big news is that I have recorded myself reading this book in its entirety.  My stepson, Matt, will soon be uploading these recordings to iTunes one or two chapters at a time, where they will be available as podcasts free of charge.  I flashed back to my sojourn in Alaska during the recording, so you might actually hear my gut reactions to the bush in those podcasts.  Although that adventure took place almost two decades ago, I remember the harsh beauty of the Alaskan wilds as if it was yesterday.  Some things you never forget.

I often tell people that a part of me never left the bush, that there’s a wildness within me now that won’t go away no matter how many times I sit in cafes sipping espresso, listening to modern jazz.  And when I’m deep in an Adirondack or New England wilderness, I quickly go feral.  It can’t be helped.  Once you’ve experienced the world at the most visceral level, there’s no going back to the tamer way of seeing things.

At any rate, I am excited by the prospect of this story reaching a much wider audience, and am quite pleased with the products that Matt and I have painstakingly put together.  There is the precious dream of wilderness that flutters through the mind like a fairy, then there is the real thing.  I hope that all of you, readers and listeners alike, get a better sense of the wildness of Alaska as a result of our humble efforts.

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