Archive for January, 2015

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 Those of you would like to purchase it directly from me can go to 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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Jan 12 2015

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The Depths of Winter

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rock.iceWhen the holidays are in the rear view mirror and it’s too soon to dream about spring, a walk through the woods is just an excuse to get out of the house and blow off those stinky thoughts. I try to do it at least once a week despite whatever’s luring me to my writing desk. It’s simply a matter of good health.

A snowstorm is coming but I can’t wait for it to turn this grey of mine world into a wonderland. I have to get out now. So off I go with my dog Matika to commune with frigid nature.

Entering the woods, I am surprised to find not one or two but three downy woodpeckers hard at work, trying to extract whatever sustenance they can from dead trees. They telegraph survival through the quiet woods. I wish I could direct them somehow to the fatty suet that’s dangling outside my kitchen window.

There is a stark beauty to the winter forest, even when hardly any snow covers the ground. It is the same kind of beauty one finds in the desert or at sea year round. Not all beauty is lush and vibrant.

The rivulets that spring from the rocks are suspended in time. They won’t run again until temps get above freezing again. God only knows when that will be. But the dangling icicles are magnificent all the same. I revel in it because, well, that’s all I have right now – that, the woodpeckers, and the creaky trunks of leafless trees all around me.

Not all the trees are naked. A copse of young beeches still sport hundreds of dry, ochre leaves that rattle in the wind. They sound like the ghosts of last summer. “This too shall pass,” they say to me. Yes, I am listening. And with each icy step I take, I move closer to the next warm season.

I am accustomed to winter now, expecting the cold to sting my cheeks and the rime to gather on my beard as I finish my walk. I return home soon enough. A day later, while writing this, I sip tea while watching the snow fall outside. Strangely enough, I prefer this to living in Florida. Go figure.


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Jan 05 2015

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First Hike of the Year

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NiqBayJanAMLike most everyone else, I was busy through the holidays so I didn’t get outdoors much. It can be put off a long while. But there comes a time when nothing else is that important, when I have to push away from my writing desk, don several thermals and layers of wool and get out there. That time came this morning around 9.

My dog Matika and I went to Niquette Bay State Park. No other cars were in the parking lot when we arrived, which suited me just fine. I pulled the Microspikes over my boots and away we went down the icy trail. Temps were in the teens and falling as an arctic high blew into the region.

The sun played peekaboo through the fast-moving clouds overhead, occasionally illuminating the snowy forest floor. Trees creaked. The wind roared through the canopy. Granular snow crunched loudly underfoot. Not the best day to be outdoors, yet I found it strangely exhilarating.

The frigid air stung my cheeks. I broke a sweat while cresting the hill. Hot and cold. Between the two I kept tramping, one carefully placed footstep after another. My long-haired German shepherd looked wolfish as she ran through the woods, leaving paw tracks in the snow. The arctic did not feel far away.

Times like these, I live up to my blog handle: woods wanderer. My thoughts go places that they simply cannot go when I’m comfortable indoors, walking through town, or in someone else’s good company. I wonder what it is about this elemental world that is so alluring. Regardless of the season or what the weather is doing, it feels right to tramp through the forest, entertaining whatever image, idea or memory that leaps to mind. Sometimes it seems like every tenth step liberates some taboo thought. I wander, I wonder, then later go home to write about it.

Wildness, I’m convinced, isn’t a behavior. It’s a state of mind.


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