July 31, 2012

Big Sky Kayaking

With kayaks securely fastened atop the roof and a laundry-list of meticulously packed gear in toe, our journey began. For the next four days we would venture across a remote chain of lakes deep in the heart of the Maine Woods. Our kayaks would be our mode of transport, a backpacking tent our home, and a lightweight cook stove would be our warm-meal-supplier. These are the types of adventures men dream about. Painstaking planning is required for you can’t forget anything crucial and all your gear needs to fit within a kayak.

The journey to the Debsconeag Lakes from Southern Maine is long. Original plans included a cheap motel stay on the first night. We’d wake early and well-rested while being semi-close to our starting point. I’d rather wake early with $90 still in my pocket, however, so we completed the entirety of our drive and arrived to our destination slightly before . Twenty minutes later I was breathing heavy inside my warm sleeping bag.

The primitive campsites chosen for this trip are located on sandbars. White sand between my toes and wilderness camping – an odd combination, but what else could I ask for? Well it would be nice if Casco, our 90lb chocolate lab could join, but it’s true that he wouldn’t fit in a kayak and swimming for days on end would be short of impossible. This is why we packed an inflatable raft. This will be one hell of an adventure…

Here are some photos from the beginning of our journey. Stay tuned for a concluding post.

A Maine tradition - an Old Town canoe. This belongs to a fellow paddler. Soon I'll own one myself.

Casco patiently waits for take-off. Today marks his first day in a flotation device.

Seemingly unaffected by his new-found buoyancy.

Each time the dinghy floats around a corner, Casco re-positions to keep me within eye sight.

My new Filson tin cloth duffle securely tied to the dinghy. There aren't many pieces of gear I trust to hold my valuables.

Eggs, bagels, and sandy feet. Breakfast on the beach.

Perfection in reflection.

My first kayak has been a great one. My Manatee Deluxe shoots straight as an arrow and really paddles well throughout a variety of conditions.

Current reading. A great New England book suggested to me by one of my favorite outdoor columnists. 

Our kitchen for the next four days.

The bugs are horrible here. Yes, we're already covered in DEET-free spray.

Paddling through one of the greatest sunsets I've ever watched. Our campsite has to be closeby.

Evening reading during the last light of day.

One of Maine's true beauties, a loon. One of many spotted near the tent.

July 30, 2012

Carhartt Acadia Jacket

Two. The number of days it rained on a recent kayak trip (soon to be posted).

Eighty degrees. The average daily temperature of the adventure.

When you are paddling miles a day, gathering and splitting firewood, and setting up camp in warm weather - you need a jacket to match the conditions. You need a waterproof jacket crafted from a ripstop nylon shell. There is also only so much space inside a pack; requiring you to carry the best and lightest gear possible. All of this is why I felt confident packing the Carhartt Acadia Jacket. What I'd call a feather weight jacket provided protection from the relentless rain and Northwest winds blowing across the lakes. Afternoons were equally as comfortable as the cool evenings.

I'm almost convinced that Carhartt provides a jacket for nearly every situation. This one may just cover multiple conditions all-in-one. Check out the color options over at Carhartt.

From the Carhartt Facebook Page

Thanks to the good folks at Carhartt for supplying items needed to remain comfortable this summer.

July 26, 2012

Foggy Fields

The 6am sunrise shined brightly through the East-facing picture window of the living area. I rise quickly from the camp cot as the light gleams through my eye lids. I snatch my camera bag and dash out into the field with the sight of fog. Overnight temperatures dropped low. Low-lying fog rolls over the tips of the pines and down the other side. Limiting visibility, the grey mass seemingly sticks to the tops of the wheat fields.
The overgrown paths are wet from morning dew and soak through my moccasins. My favorite Filson tin cloth pants, however, remain dry to the touch. My chocolate lab looks as though he took an early morning swim. Running through these damp fields always saturates his coat.
The birds begin to sing and the rest of the forest rouses from its evening slumber as we conclude our walk. Nothing wakens a man and brings him to his full senses like a walk in the woods. Truly a one-of-a-kind experience – even if the same path is trod often.  


Fog rolls over the forest.


My buddy, Casco.


My favorite Woolrich plaid and Filson khaki's.


Golden sun shining between the tall trees.



An old worn path.

 Close-up and personal.


A peaceful land hangs out under the fog.

Dew hangs symetrically from the spiderweb.

July 23, 2012

Art of Camping

In conclusion to one of my last posts... This weekend's destination was located off the beaten path and hours from the nearest hospital, let alone grocery store. Three hours of back road travel and we turn left onto an old gravel road. Narrow and full of basketball-sized potholes, it meanders through the woods 15 miles. Travelling up over hills and down the accompanying embankments, we keep our eyes peeled for a roadside marker signifying we've arrived at campsite #11.  Spotting the sign, we pull into our site, which is even more secluded than we'd hoped for.

Preparing camp is always enjoyable. As if moving into a new home, the first mission is to scout the lay of the land and arrange your essentials in a convenient location. Eleven PM brings with it a chill to the air for which a t-shirt does not suffice. I throw on my Carhartt jacket before tossing one more log into the fire. Flames jump about the log, casting shadows into the spruce branches that hang safely above. A warm glow encompasses the tent. We sit, with a poker stick in hand, stabbing at the coals, telling tales from the most recent books we've read - most of which, for me, are written in Maine - so they're related to our surroundings.

We spend the weekend exploring the lay of the land. Several hiking trails are within driving distance. As much time is spent on foot as possible. Strawberry season has arrived early due to the warm temperatures over the last two weeks. Wild strawberries are abundant in this area along the paths. The sweetness makes all the walking well-worth the investment.

Check out Similar Posts:
Starting Summer Fire
Sinking & Melting

July 20, 2012

Good Morning

Here's to another great weekend! I want to leave you with a photograph I woke early yesterday to capture. Rising at 3:30, I washed up quickly and headed out the door. It's infrequent you find low tide and sunrise within the same hour. Checking the tide charts weeks ago, I decided today would be the day and it was worth it. This is being added to the collection of my favorites. The sun rose over Portland Headlight in Portland, Maine at 6:15AM. The brilliant orange sun put on a show of colors throughout the sky. Truly a great moment to enjoy and a great start to the day. You can purchase the photo here.

Get outside and enjoy your weekend!

July 18, 2012

Review: Carhartt Grayling Jacket

Few products are tough enough to face all that weather can throw at you while maintaining an aesthetic appeal. Whether on the job or on a backwoods trail - you need one and it doesn't hurt to have the other. Insert the new Carhartt Grayling Jacket. A 4.5 ounce nylon shell shields you from the summer rain while keeping you surprisingly cool. The polyester mesh lining allows your body to breathe while the cut of the jacket allows you to move freely.

I've been testing The Grayling through a couple weeks of strange Maine weather. One minute it's 85 degrees with sun and five minutes later storm clouds roll in and the sky opens up with rain. I've kept this jacket in my daily bag and have been happy to have it handy. As they say up here: "If you don't like the weather - wait a minute!".

Purchasing a jacket is a big investment so here are further details: 
  • Fully taped waterproof seams
  • Duradry waterproof breathable membrane
  • Detachable snap-on hood
  • Zipper with storm flap
  • Plenty of ventilated pockets 

If you're looking for a comfortable jacket that will carry you into late fall/early winter - pick up the Carhartt Grayling Jacket. Hesitant? I'm proud to have this one hanging by the door. Don't take my word for it, trust the brand that's been in business since 1889.

July 16, 2012

Review: L.L. Bean's King Pine Dome Tent

I've been lucky enough this summer to take the L.L. Bean King Pine Dome Tent #6 on several camping trips. I say lucky only because I'm used to sleeping in backpacking tents. The inability to bring myself to a sitting position without hitting my head has become a painstaking point of my outdoor adventures - until now. Now, with a max height nearing 7ft., multiple people can stand inside and move around freely.

I'll admit that the King Pine is a car camping tent. At 28 lbs - it isn't light, but neither should you expect a tent sleeping 6 to be. From hiking in the White Mountains to fishing in the Rangeley, ME region - this beauty has made for a great base camp and I've enjoyed it's ability to hold all of my gear (and it's a lot). The entirety of the inside is lined with mesh pockets to organize all your goods.

Just as I told myself that this L.L. Bean staple couldn't get any better - it rained, and it rained, and then you guessed it, it rained some more. The rain fly not only held up throughout the winds and precipitation, but the screen room presented an experience I'd never had before. You're able to fit multiple camp chairs, and gear (even a charcoal grill if you chose) inside. Undesirable weather conditions can no longer put a damper on your time outdoors. The screen room shuts out wind and blowing rain when you simply zip whichever side necessary.

The real joy is when the storm clouds clear and the 5-day forecast calls for sun. I've never been happier than to peel back the rain-fly and enjoy Maine's fresh air as it streams through the mesh panels of the roof and sides. I'm a firm believer that one sleeps better with fresh air - exactly why you should pick up this tent and begin planning your own adventure. Whether a simple weekend excursion to explore coastal Acadia National Park or a 5-day moose hunt, should you be lucky enough to have your ticket drawn - L.L. Bean's King Pine Dome #6 is multipurpose and worth every cent. Take it from me...

For more photos, info, and a video of the tent in action - shoot over to L.L. Bean.

Editor's note: A special thanks to the good folks at L.L. Bean. I'll surely be sleeping beneath the stars for many summers to come