maine-sculpture-trail1_johanna-billings

The Maine Sculpture Trail

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors that isn’t too strenuous, consider the Maine Sculpture Trail, an art installation along almost 300 miles of the Maine Coast. 

The trail consists of 34 granite sculptures made by artists from all over the world. These artists came to Down East Maine, during the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. 

"Beyond the Horizon" - the Maine Sculpture Trail

The bridge from Lubec to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, is visible despite the fog behind “Beyond the Horizon,” by Valerian Jikia of the Republic of Georgia

Steuben resident Jesse Salisbury was the driving force behind the creation of the trail. He organized the symposium as a way to spark cultural activity in the area and, in the process, created a large, public art collection. 

Washington County is home to 10 of the sculptures. In geographic order, they are found in Steuben, Milbridge, Harrington, Addison, Jonesport, Roque Bluffs, Machias, Lubec, Eastport and Calais.

Most of them are easily accessed from Route 1, a.k.a., the Bold Coast Scenic Byway. Following the trail gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and see the towns and villages along the coast that you might otherwise miss. The Steuben sculpture is located at the Henry D. Moore Library and Parish House, just a hop, skip and a jump from Route 1. History buffs can also visit a Civil War monument nearby. 

The sculpture in Milbridge is located at the end of School Street, along the Narraguagus River. Enjoy the view from Adirondack chairs situated next to the sculpture. Those up for a short walk can take a stroll through Riverside Park. 

"Nature's Grace" - the Maine Sculpture Trail

“Nature’s Grace,” by Canadian artist James Boyd, is situated right along Water Street in downtown Eastport. It is one of a number of public art pieces along the waterfront.

Fuel up with breakfast at the Milbridge House. Then, enjoy a meal later in the day at Deano’s Takeout, Vazquez Mexican Takeout, The Wheelhouse or the Good N Plenty Buffet. The Meadow’s Takeout in Steuben offers excellent fare as well. Overnight accommodations are available at the Red Barn Motel in Milbridge.

From Milbridge, take Route 1A to the next sculpture, located inside a paved walking track next to the Harrington Health Center. It can be seen from the highway or you can park and enjoy a walk around the loop.

Many of the sculptures are located on the water. In Addison Point Park, you can see the sculpture as well as a lovely view of the Pleasant River. The next one, located in a Jonesport town park, also overlooks the water. After that, visit the sculpture in Roque Bluffs State Park, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming and picnicking.

In Machias, look for the sculpture on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias. While you’re in town, explore the waterfall and grounds at Bad Little Falls Park.

Machias offers numerous options for food and lodging. Restaurant options include Helen’s, the Bluebird Ranch, Skywalker’s/Machias River Brewing and Pat’s Pizza. You can stay at the Machias River Inn or the Bluebird Motel. 

"Spirit of the Marsh" - the Maine Sculpture Trail

The sun sets behind “Spirit of the Marsh,” a sculpture by Maine artist Lise Becu. It is located in Addison Point Park, just a short drive off Route 1.

The sculpture in Lubec is situated in Stockford Park, just outside of town. In the background, you can see the bridge from Lubec to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Lubec is also home to the Lost Fishermen’s Memorial, which Salisbury was commissioned to create.  For good food and cold brews, the main attraction is Lubec Brewing Co., which opens at 2 p.m. Thurs-Sun and serves dinner, starting at 5 p.m.

Taking the trip to Eastport may seem far off off the beaten path, but the drive is worth it. To reach the Eastport sculpture, turn off Route 1 onto Route 190 and follow that for about seven miles into town. The sculpture is downtown, in the midst of a quaint shopping district overlooking the water. There, you can catch several other sculptures, including one of a mermaid. 

"Warm Wind" - the Maine Sculpture Trail

Pink and blue streaks can be seen behind “Warm Wind,” a sculpture in Roque Bluffs State Park by Kazumi Hoshino of Maine.

Then, from there head back up to Calais up to Route 1, where the sculpture is located downtown in front of the library. Visitors can check out the antique shops downtown as well as Wabanaki Culture Center, which illustrates how the Native Americans of the area have lived in the outdoors.

In Calais, overnight options include the Calais Motor Inn and the International Motel.

Salisbury worked with writers and photographers to produce the book, Creating the Maine Sculpture Trail: Legacy of the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. The book, which covers the history of the trail, is available for sale at schoodicsculpture.org. Sculpture maps can also be downloaded from this site. 

— Text & photos: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is an award-winning writer/photographer and antiques dealer based in Steuben. She enjoys visiting the sculptures along the trail. 


Forest Therapy: An Ancient Ritual for Modern-Day Mindfulness

Forest Therapy: An Ancient Ritual for Modern-Day Mindfulness

Today, human beings are more detached from nature than ever before. It is vital that we find ways to keep that connection alive in our modern world and Forest Therapy is one way of doing just that. 

In the past few years, Forest Therapy has piqued the interest of many healthcare practitioners and nature lovers. It is admired for its health benefits and the ease with which it aids people in reconnecting with nature. The practice found its conception in Japan under a different name. Shinrin-Yoku, or “Forest Bathing” as it translates, has been prescribed to folks in Japan for several decades with the support of the government. Shinrin-Yoku was founded under the intuitive belief that spending time in nature is good for our health. Since its first appearance in the Japanese healthcare system, it has caught the attention of the world and has spread its roots to many other countries, undergoing much research to prove its benefits. Studies have shown that spending up to an hour in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol, meaning participants of a forest therapy walk usually leave feeling a sense of improved health and a positive change in mood overall.

Forest Therapy Walks, as they are known in the States, support health, happiness, and well -being, through reconnection with nature. Walks are intended to promote wellness through a series of slow-paced sensory-awareness and mindfulness practices where guides invite participants to interact with nature in new ways. Forest Therapy is unique in that it can’t be characterized as “therapy” or “outdoor recreation” in any traditional sense. It is a practice of slowing down, unplugging and wandering through nature as a means to deepen connections, open and answer questions, and revitalize each individual’s life-force. Unlike a hike or outdoor adventure class, this is a practice in simply observing and does not require any naturalist training or outdoor experience. As one wanders, nature may provide the therapy they seek. The guide does not act as a therapist but is merely there to open the door to one’s connection with nature.

As the practice emerges in the United States, organizations such as the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy are working hard to inform people of this exciting new field of wellness. ANFT is training new guides each year, currently certifying hundreds of practitioners across the country and the world at large. Guides have incredibly varying occupations and experience; from nurses to farmers, artists to bushcrafters, folks from all age groups and all walks of life. Under ANFT’s guidelines, a full Forest Therapy Walk consists of several guided invitations; beginning by opening the senses, then moving through and interacting with nature in a mindful way, and ending with a light council, where participants reflect on their experiences as they enjoy freshly foraged tea. Each walk lasts two to three hours, and are led with the intent of being safe and as accessible as possible while maintaining the Leave No Trace principle.

If the sound of a walk interests you, the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy has a Guide Locator Map with a growing database of guides around the globe. Find a guide near you and learn more about the walks they provide. No matter what environment you are in, there is always something positive to be gained from spending a little time outside. 

— Photos and Text: Mishka Viscardi. Mishka is an ANFT certified practitioner and founder of Ravyn Walks, a guided forest therapy service in Western Mass. A Smith College alumna with a degree in Sociology, she brings to the field her passion for nature, love of people, creativity, craftsmynship, and love of mentorship. When she isn’t guiding walks, she works as a Wilderness Skills Instructor and a Personal Care Attendant.

 


Spring Point Light. Carey Kish

Hikes & Brews in Greater Portland

Spring Point Shoreway & Foulmouthed Brewing

The historic Spring Point Shoreway takes you on a scenic stroll along South Portland’s waterfront. From the Willow Street trailhead, head north along Willard Beach, taking in views of Casco Bay islands Cushing, House, Little Diamond, Great Diamond and Peaks. Meander through the Southern Maine Community College campus and the school’s Shoreway Arboretum. Beyond that, scamper along the top of the old battlements of Fort Preble, then hike the long jetty of giant granite blocks to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Pass by several marinas to get to Bug Light Park and the Liberty Ship Memorial. Ahead is elegant Bug Light, modeled on an ancient Greek monument. Return to the start by ambling through the neighborhood streets. This roughly four-mile loop is easy. 

 

Foot-long, home made pork dog at Foulmouthed BrewingOn Ocean St. in South Portland, not far from the Fore River, is where you’ll find Foulmouthed Brewing, housed in an old auto garage that’s been beautifully renovated. The interesting name is a play on words dating to the 17th century, when this region of Casco Bay was named Falmouth; it also alludes to the salty language used by dock and shipyard workers of the day. With big bay windows and lots of light, this neighborhood brewpub is surprisingly cozy and comfortable. Owners Craig and Julia Dilger are brewing up a wide variety of experimental beers, and with six to nine drafts, there’s always something for everyone, but not always quite the same (although popular brews are repeated). Try a flight, then order up a full pour of your favorite. The menu is upscale pub food (oh, the corn dog!) and there are also twists on classic cocktails.  

Resources

Hike: South Portland Land Trust
southportlandlandtrust.org 

Brew: Foulmouthed Brewing – 207-618-6977
foulmouthedbrewing.com 

— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast. 

 


A Beginner's Guide to Fly Fishing

A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing Gear

Standing in the shadow of the ghostly brick mill along the banks of the Presumpscot River at Mallison Falls, I watch a cold breeze blow over the water’s surface. The cool air, along with the 40-degree river water flowing over my waders, is a welcome surprise on this unseasonable 88-degree day in early May. I’ve waited all winter for the chance to drift my fly line for trout in one of southern Maine’s tapestry of rivers; the electric anticipation of each cast makes my fingers tremble.

I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to catch the biggest brown trout of my life.

A Beginner's Guide to fly fishingLet’s rewind three weeks earlier to a raw day in April. As the snow banks in Maine receded this spring, my mind naturally drifted from skiing to fly-fishing. That’s when I start talking to anyone who will listen about the transcendent nature of this sport. But the rod, reel, line, and tackle necessary for fly-fishing can sometimes overwhelm beginning anglers. 

But, let it be my mission to demystify the world of fly-fishing gear and get you on a river in Maine catching trout and salmon this summer and fall.

On a dreary afternoon, I escaped the cruel April rain and stepped inside All Points Fly Shop + Outfitter in South Portland. Over the soft hum of an electric line spooler, owner Josh Thelin was talking to a customer about an upcoming fishing trip he planned to take to Labrador, Canada.

This July, Thelin will celebrate one year of being open on Route 1. To say his shop is small doesn’t quite capture the closet vibe of All Points. Despite the cramped feel, the walls and shelves are loaded with fishing gear that Thelin has carefully curated for trout fishing in Maine. In addition to the storefront, a portion of his business comes from Internet sales and guided fishing trips.

Thelin grabbed two chairs from a back office, and he and I sat in the middle of his quaint shop to talk fly-fishing. 

“About 15 years ago, fly fishing turned into a crazy obsession,” said Thelin, a Cape Elizabeth native. During our conversation, he was excited to talk about fishing, revealing a deep knowledge of the sport. 

Thelin explained that fly-casting—the most poetic and challenging part of fly-fishing—is all about physics. A medium-flex, nine-foot rod gives a fisherman more force to send a weightless fly through the air.

As far as a reel, Thelin stated, “A beginning fisherman doesn’t need a high-end reel. Mainly, the reel is just a home for the line.”

He walked me around his shop pointing out a beginner’s outfit: Redington Classic Trout Rod ($120), Rio Gold Fly Line ($80), and a Redington Zero Fly Reel ($90).

“That combination will last you a lifetime,” he said, before adding, “Unless you get really into fly-fishing—then the rabbit hole is deep.” It was clear from his wry smile that he was speaking from experience.

Before leaving, I asked what flies he recommended to beginning anglers. To be successful at fishing in Maine, he argued, an angler has to fish everything: dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty overview of flies. Dry flies drift on the surface and mimic bugs that fly in the air. Nymphs are fished below the surface and resemble bug larvae. Streamers are imitation baitfish largely meant to mimic smelt.

To catch trout in Maine he suggests starting with an Elk Hair Caddis dry fly, Caddis and Stonefly nymphs, and Grey Ghost and Wooly Bugger streamers. 

So that’s it. For about $300, you can get outfitted with a rod, a reel, a line, and a box of flies that will open up a vast new world, one offering a deeper connection to Maine’s landscape that on its best days I can only describe as spiritual.

Back on the Presumpscot River, I drift my Caddis nymph through the fast moving current. I strip the line and feel a hard tug on my rod—the ancient dance between man and fish has begun. I pull in some line, but the fish runs toward the current. I let it run, then tighten the line. I keep my rod tip high; my arm starts to ache. This fish is big. The dance continues, until finally, a slick body breaks the surface. I slide my net under its belly and an 18-inch, four-pound brown trout settles into the webbing. Goosebumps prickle my skin. From the black surface of this river, I have coaxed a giant trout with a tiny fly. 

As I cup the prehistoric fish, I think of an old adage made new: “Buy a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and, maybe, just maybe, he’ll catch an 18-inch brown trout on a size 12 Caddis nymph.” 

— Text & Photos: Dave Patterson. Dave is a novelist and freelance writer from Cape Elizabeth with a penchant for fly-fishing, craft beer, and all things Maine.


The Milky Way at Acadia National Park, by Mike Leonard

How to Take Photos After Dark

Vacations are a time to get away, explore, see and do new things, make memories, relax and of course take pictures.   There are numerous tourist attractions, landmarks and other excursions that are worthy of taking a camera and should not be missed.

Yet, come evening, many people tend to put their cameras away and that’s when you can often make your most memorable vacation images.

Photographing at night can be very rewarding, especially if you want to share the images you make with your friends and family on social media.  With just moonlight and or street lights you can make some dramatic pictures.  What’s more —when visiting popular places at night, you’ll likely find parking to be easier, fewer crowds—and you can skip the suntan lotion.

So, here is what you’ll need to get started taking pictures under moonlight:

A camera that can take long exposures of at least 20 seconds, a tripod, and a flashlight.

Put your camera on manual mode to allow you to set the shutter speed to 20 seconds and the Lens Aperture to f/5.6 or lower if your lens allows.  The sensitivity or ISO will want to be set around 3200 – 4000 for the low-light levels you will be capturing.  To minimize camera shake, use a tripod or steady your camera on a fixed surface and use the built-in timer, so when you press the shutter button, the camera will have a chance to stabilize before taking the picture – usually the two-second timer is adequate.  Set your White Balance to Daylight since moonlight is just reflected sunlight.  A half to full moon can bathe the landscape with a quality of light that can look like daylight.  Try capturing scenes that you’d normally do in the daytime, but under moonlight to make an image that is truly dramatic.

If you find your images are coming out too dark, try opening the lens aperture to a lower number like f/ 4 to f/ 2.8, if possible, to let more light in.  Alternately, you can raise the ISO but with the higher sensitivity comes grain and other noise in the image.  If the moonlight is bright and your starting image is too light, then try reducing the ISO until you get an acceptably exposed image.  It’s best to practice and become familiar with all of these settings before you head out at night to take pictures.

To catch the Milky Way, you want a night where the moon is not visible and where you are away from city lights.  There are apps for smart phones that will help guide you to the best location to capture the Milky Way, as well as moonrise and sunrise in advance, so you can better plan where to take your photograph.  One such smartphone app that does this well is called Photo Pills and is available for both Android and iPhones for a nominal one-time fee.

You can use a flashlight diffused with tissue paper to cast a soft light onto people to make a truly unique portrait of your family members under the stars while on vacation. You’ll only need to have the flashlight on for a second or two at the start of the exposure, then shut it off and make sure your subject doesn’t move until the end of the exposure.

So, before you put your camera away at the end of the day, try a photographic technique that may be new to you and make some photo memories to share that will be unique. People will be asking how you did that.

— Text & Photo: Mike Leonard. Mike is a night owl of sorts when it comes to photography. When he isn’t leading a photography cruise or doing a Photoshop class quite often after sunsets he can be found out collecting light of the moon and stars.  Visit his website at phototourismbymike.com


The art of Bushcraft, Alex Ribar

Four Bushcrafting Skills to Master This Summer

Although it sounds mystical and mysterious, the art of Bushcraft is really just using the skills that our ancestors developed to survive in the wilderness. The origin of the phrase “Bushcraft” comes from skills used in the bush country of Australia. Before electricity and the advancement in technology, humans had to study their surroundings and figure out how to use what Mother Nature provided in order to thrive in an outdoor environment.  Even in urban areas, where the average person takes clean water, shelter and abundance of readily available food for granted, there has been a renewed interest in Bushcraft, particularly, in the last decade. Many people from all walks of life have been practicing or seeking ways to get back to the basics of fire-starting, hunting, fishing, shelter-building and navigation, among other skills. Either way, there are many levels of Bushcraft to learn and master as a hobby or to just get outdoors and practice, with family and friends, which could actually could help you or others in a time of need.  Here are some of the basics everyone should learn for fun or for that “just-in-case” moment.

1. FIRE STARTING

This skill provides warmth, security and the ability to cook food and purify water. The two most common Bushcraft fire-starting skills for beginners are flint and steel and ferrocerium rods with a striker. (The spine of a knife could also work well for this). The skill level for these two fire starting methods are easy to moderate.

First, obtain a piece of flint and a piece of high carbon steel as well as an item called char cloth. To use, hold the char cloth under your thumb on the flint in your non-dominant hand. Then, in a downward motion with your dominant hand, strike the flint with the striker to produce sparks that will cause the char cloth to smolder. Place the char cloth in a pre-made tinder bundle of dried grasses, birch bark shavings, etc. and blow or wave to ignite. You should have kindling ready to place onto your nest of flames and like Tom Hanks in Castaway, you have fire!

The second method uses a ferrocerium rod and striker. As in the first method, you should have a tinder bundle (dried grasses, birch bark shavings etc.) prepared in advance as well as kindling. To use, scrape the striker across the ferrocerium rod. This produces very hot sparks, which will fall onto your tinder bundle, producing flame.

These items are best purchased on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, etc.

A debris shelter is constructed of anything that is in the immediate area.2. SHELTER BUILDING     

Elongated exposure to the elements can be your downfall, depending on the time of year and weather conditions. To learn how to build a shelter to survive a night or longer in the outdoors, start with the most basic shelter — a debris shelter. This is constructed out of anything that is in the immediate area. For example, arrange dead branches along the side of a downed tree and cover it with pine boughs to provide a space underneath to protect you from the elements. Leaves, boughs and grass also make a great insulator on the floor of your shelter to protect you from the elements.

3. WILD EDIBLES

Cattail (Typha Latifolia) is full of starch/carbohydrates. The stalk and roots can be eaten and the fluff at the top can be used for fire tinder.

Food and water are the next essential skills on your list. Some of the most common and familiar wild foods found throughout Maine during the spring and summer are easy to find: blueberries, cattails, dandelions, and even pine needles. All of these can be prepared for nutrients to sustain you if need be.

For example: Cattail (Typha Latifolia) is full of starch/carbohydrates. The stalk and roots can be eaten and the fluff at the top can be used for fire tinder. To harvest cattails, you have to dig out (not pull out) the root or else the roots will break off under ground. The stalk can be peeled to reveal a soft center ready to eat. The roots should be washed and cleaned first. You can either roast both the stalk and roots over a fire or eat raw; both will provide you with well-needed energy and nourishment.

4. WATER PURIFYING

Luckily in Maine, there are abundant water sources everywhere you go: in brooks, ponds, rivers and lakes. To purify before drinking, water should be brought to a roiling boil for at least one minute and at altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (greater than 2,000 meters).If you don’t have the means to boil, dig a hole next to a water source (such as a stream) and let the water naturally filter through the ground to your hole. This is still better than drinking directly from the water source itself as the earth acts as a filter.  Boil for three minutes. If you don’t have the means to boil, dig a hole next to a water source (such as a stream) and let the water naturally filter through the ground to your hole. This is still better than drinking directly from the water source itself as the earth acts as a filter.

— Text: Alex Ribar. Alex is a Bushcraft expert and former Marine who was an Infantry Squad Leader and NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) that held a second MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) as  one of two Company Armorers (Gun Smiths). Alex has completed a Maine Guide course, is working toward multiple registered Maine Guide licenses, and is pursuing a career in outdoor adventure. He and his son Logan were featured on the History Channel show ALONE (Season 4) in 2016. For more information on Bushcraft skills, visit his YouTube channel @LibertyRogueOutdoors.

— Photos: White Pine Studios. They offer portraiture where you want it, with on site services. Take advantage of the beautiful Maine outdoors, or bring focus to your business in action. Contact: Tim@whitepinestudios.ne
(207) 619-4977.


5 Ways Camping Introduces Kids to Nature Skills:Tips for a tech-free vacation

Tips for a Tech-Free Family Vacation

Introducing your kids to the joys of camping not only assures important family time, but also exposes them to a slower pace where they can be tech-free and not even miss it. Why would your kids want to drop their iPad and get outdoors? Remember the things that made it a wondrous experience for you – wide open spaces to run, the thrill of discovering new worlds and living like our ancestors, the smell of a pine forest…it’s in our DNA to take wonder in these elements. Introducing kids to nature skills

1. The Fascination of Campfires

Building a campfire with your kids is a great way for them to learn a new skill while you sneak in some safety lessons. Start by showing them how many useful materials they can find in the natural world around them. Have them collect dry twigs and sticks and look for nature’s best fire-starter, birch bark.  It’s a chance to teach kids about respecting nature. Remind them that bark is the tree’s skin and they should only collect pieces on the ground or from fallen trees, never live trees (even when it’s peeling). Help kids layer bark or newspaper, twigs, sticks and finally, the firewood, so that air can feed the fire. Later, show everyone how to properly extinguish the fire.

2. Cooking like a Caveman

First, come prepared with the right tools – at least a pair of long-handled tongs, roasting forks, and aluminum foil.

To prepare corn like a native, soak the corn in water with the husks still on, for at least a half hour. Place corn around the inside rim of the fire pit and turn often with tongs. Check after about 15-20 minutes (a parent should do this, carefully peeling back a section of husk) and cook longer if needed. The outer husks will be crispy, but inside the corn will be steamed and yummy!

For baked potatoes, show kids how to coat the potato with butter and double wrap in aluminum foil, then place on the outer rim of the campfire’s bed of hot coals. Turn every 10 minutes. A parent or an older kid can begin checking how thoroughly it has been cooked after 45 minutes.

For a very simple meal, let kids spear a hot dog or sausage on a long roasting fork and cook it over the fire. Be sure to show them how to hold it in the heat but not direct flame, so it won’t burn.

3. Going Wild

Ask park rangers or campground staff what animals are native to the area. Ask if they  have a kid’s scavenger hunt notebook (many do) but if not, you can make your own ahead of time or with your child at the campsite, using sketches to help them recognize each animal. Challenge your kids to spot as many as possible. To make it even more challenging, add birds and insects to the list.  Take this opportunity to talk about how wild animals differ from pets or those in zoos, including their reactions to humans. You can also talk about how humans impact them, the dangers of feeding wild animals or leaving food or trash where bears can smell it.  

Along the Maine coast digging clams for dinner is lots of fun. Lura Seavey.4. Fauna for Fun

Fauna can be lots of fun for kids when they realize how many kinds of different plants make up the sea of green around them. Come prepared with a notebook, blank paper, pencils, and crayons or colored pencils. Set up a scavenger hunt and look for specific plants, or have the kids draw the ones they find. How are they different from each other? Beyond learning about nature, a great side bonus is encouraging kids (and parents) to slow down and take in the details of the beauty around them. While reminding them never to pick wild flowers or take parts off live plants, you can encourage them to collect interesting souvenirs such as fallen leaves, acorns, or pine cones. Tip: Don’t let the kids know they are about to learn something – you can make nearly anything into a game or competition.

5. Getting Creative

For many kids, both boys and girls, building fairy furniture or structures from twigs and other found objects is a chance to be creative. Bring hemp twine or heavy brown thread and scissors and an active imagination. Tie crossed twigs with twine to make anything from a simple raft to a chair – or maybe even a four-poster bed with a birch bark mattress and leafy canopy. Layer in a little folklore and tell them to set up the evening’s work for the fairies to find in the night – they often leave gifts as a thank you! Other simple crafts are leaf rubbings and birch-bark cutouts: Simply draw a design on bark, and cut out to make tree or window ornaments. 

Text and Photos: Lura Seavey. Lura is a freelance writer with a mission: to encourage families to travel and play together. She write regularly for planetware.com, is the author of several children’s books and co-author of Fun with the Family in Vermont and New Hampshire. 


Summer Camping Gear Review, Activities Guide of Maine

Summer Camping Gear Review

Reviewed by staff and friends of Activity Maine, here are our picks for great camping/hiking gear that we think you’ll like.

Haversack by Raging River

Photo: Tim MacDonald

HAVERSACK

The 2018 Haversack by Raging River Trading Co. is packed with all the features any outdoor adventurer could ask for. This compact haversack is handmade with high quality military specification materials, specifically, 1000D Nylon Cordura with a Raging River Trading Co. Nylon liner. It comes with with two zippered inside pockets that will keep anything of value safe and secure. It also has a nice map pocket incorporated into the back outside panel for easy access while on the move. The main compartment has Velcro closer flaps at the top to hold gear securely in place. To secure your gear, there is Molly webbing on the front, bottom, side sleeve and shoulder pad, which is great for any add-on equipment, such as a bed roll, tarp, knife, etc. Under the flap on the front panel, you’ll find an axe or hatchet sleeve, a very useful feature. For 2018, Raging River has added a cinch-close water bottle pocket complete with a camo-colored stainless steel water bottle. Raging River Trading Co. is Veteran-owned and operated by Dan Edwards, a 20-year Veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. These Haversacks are made to be used and last a life time; they are great to keep gear sorted and at the ready…an excellent carry system for all your Bushcraft, hiking, hunting and outdoor adventures. Price: $99.95 

–Alex Ribar

FLOWFOLD WALLET

Flowfold walletMade right here in Maine from reclaimed sail material, Flowfold builds minimalist outdoor gear for everyday adventures. Their wallet is lightweight (only .07 oz) and very durable. I thought my last wallet was slim, but when I transferred my cards and cash into it, the Flowfold wallet was noticeably thinner and lighter weight. This design features a cash pocket, two ID windows and two hidden rear card pockets. This wallet is built for outdoor adventure, weather resistant, and backed by a lifetime warranty. Using sailcloth technology, it is supposed to float, if accidentally dropped in the water, which is a huge bonus for anglers and water sports enthusiasts. Made with a Lifetime Warranty, these wallets range from $12 to $40 and you may never need another one after that! 

— Stanley J. Rintz 

LOWA RENEGADE GTX MIDLowa Renegade GTX MID

From a wooded walk along the Maine coast to an ascent of majestic Katahdin to the rigors of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike, Lowa Renegade GTX Mid boots are up to the task. Lightweight and comfortable, these 2.5-pound boots are trail-ready right out of the box, with minimal breaking in required. Nicely cushioned around the ankle, with solid leather uppers, an easy and secure lacing system of locking hooks, wrap-around rand, and a knobby, grippy Vibram sole, Renegades provide the support of a much heavier boot, but wear like a trail runner. Splashing across a stream or mucking it up on a wet trail is no problem with weatherproof Renegades, owing to a Gore-Tex lining inside and water repellent coating outside. When it comes to fit, hiking boots are as varied as hiker’s feet, but the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid gets high marks for its true-to-size build, snug heel and roomy toe box. Size options range from 7.5 to 15 in men’s and 5.5 to 11 in women’s, plus narrow, medium and wide widths. Downside: the toe rand tends to separate where it’s fused together, but this is easily remedied with epoxy. Price: $230

— Carey Kish 

JETBOIL FLASH PERSONAL COOKING SYSTEM

Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking SystemThe Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System is efficient, compactible, and lightweight. I’ve used it on week-long Appalachian Trail hikes and overnight campouts, and I’ve never felt I needed anything different. It can boil two cups of cold water in two minutes due to its high-speed burner. Be sure to push the ignite button on low gas and then increase the flame to avoid burning the hair off your hand. The one-liter, insulated cooking cup is easy to handle while hot because its notched bottom and side strap make it easy to detach from the burner and pour into a bowl or bag. I would avoid cooking saucy pasta meals directly in it, since it will scorch the sides.

A two-cup bowl is included and is great for instant oats or grits. All amenities pack into the cooking cup to about the size of a Nalgene water bottle, making it weigh only 15 ounces. If you want to go fancier than instant coffee, you can purchase a French press add-on, which can all fold up into the cooking system conveniently as well. Given its convenience and efficiency, the Jetboil is a great companion to have along the trail. Prices range from $75 to $100 and $10 extra for the coffee press add-on.

–John Breerwood


Digital Detox: The Only Known Cure for Digital Depression. Kirsten Milliken, PhD

When Did You Last Do a Digital Detox?

Dear Dr. K, when I stop playing on my computer for more than an hour I feel anxious. I’ve gained weight, and when I am not online, I can’t concentrate, don’t want to do anything, and am waiting until I can get back in front of a screen again. What’s wrong with me? 

The negative impact of technology on our mental, cognitive and physical health is becoming an increasing problem. A 2010 study from the University of Leeds found a significant connection between the amount of time people spent online and symptoms of depression. Since then, outcomes from a variety of studies suggest that, as both kids’ and adults’ time in front of a screen increases, their physical activity decreases, raising their vulnerability to mental health problems. Terms like “digital depression” and “digital dementia” have entered our mainstream vocabulary. It’s clear that screen time is having a major impact on our brains and bodies.

There is no pill (or drug) you can take to cure digital depression. “Digital detox” is the only known cure. When you choose to unplug, your brain can feel like you have gone from information gluttony to starvation mode. This is digital withdrawal. Here is timeline of what you can expect:

  • Like someone on a highly restrictive diet, when you first go “offline,” you may experience anxiety, stress, and an urge to give up and go back to bingeing on screen time to get a “fix.”
  • Irritability tends to creep in as if your brain is causing you to have a temper tantrum because you are not giving it what it wants.
  • After a relatively short time, (which can seem like a long time) the anxiety and irritability dissipates and boredom sets in. When you are used to being fed new links, new activities, and new icons to click to get “rewarded,” the real world can feel a bit dull and your motivation can feel as though it needs a jump-start. Sleeping it off might feel like the “easy” way to handle this withdrawal.

Symptoms that might meet the diagnostic criteria for depression include:

  • Diminished interest of pleasure in almost all activities
  • Difficulty staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Agitation or lethargy nearly every day
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Restlessness, brain fog, poor focus and concentration, mental disorganization, and impulsive urges to go online “to check just one thing” can make you think you are losing your mind.

You can white knuckle it through all this, or you can have a plan in place before you unplug to reduce some of this discomfort. My suggestion to clients, is to have a replacement activity. Create a list of friends you can call, activities you enjoy, events you want to attend, or goals you want to accomplish, now that you will have more free time.

Getting back in your body is one of the best ways to manage the stress of getting offline and avoiding digital depression. Physical activity burns stress chemicals in your body that build up while you are sitting in front of a screen. Being active with other people is even better! Activity and social interactions trigger chemicals in your brain that cause you to be more creative, healthy, focused, productive, and happy. 

Kirsten Milliken PhD, authority on Digital Depression

 

— Text: Kirsten Milliken, PhD.
Dr. Milliken is the author of PlayDHD: Permission to Play, A Prescription for Adults With ADHD. She lives in Portland with her two kids who hate her for restricting their Internet access! 

 

 

 


Hikes & Brews in the Upper Kennebec River Valley: Moxie Bald Mountain & Kennebec River Brewing Co.

Hikes & Brews in the Upper Kennebec River Valley

Moxie Bald Mountain & Kennebec River Brewing Co.

East of Moxie Pond in Bald Mountain Township rises the long, undulating ridgeline of Moxie Bald Mountain, which tops out at 2,630 feet. The Appalachian Trail traverses the mountain, leading hikers to extensive areas of open granite slabs and ledges. The 360-degree panorama atop Moxie Bald ranges from majestic Katahdin and other high peaks in Baxter State Park all the way to the Bigelows, Sugarloaf and Mt. Abraham. Follow the white blazes of the AT over the summit, then loop back around via the summit bypass trail. A log AT lean-to at Bald Mountain Brook makes a nice wayside coming and going. About ten miles round-trip.

Kennebec River BreweryTraditional British-style beers are what’s on tap in the beautiful open-timbered log lodge at Northern Outdoors in The Forks, Maine’s only whitewater rafting and adventure resort with its own brewery. Kennebec River Brewery is a throwback to a neighborhood pub, according to Jim Yearwood, vice president of Northern Outdoors and the brewery’s founder in 1996. They don’t distribute, so you’ll have to enjoy their beers onsite or take home a fresh growler. Magic Hole IPA is the brewery’s bestselling flagship beer. There’s also Let ‘Er Drift Summer Ale and six other custom brews on tap, plus a full menu of hearty pub fare.

Resources

Hike: Trailhead directions: From US 201 in The Forks, just before the highway crosses the Kennebec River, turn east on Lake Moxie Road and follow it for 5.3 mi. Turn right on Troutdale Road and follow it along Moxie Pond, and at 12.9 mi., reach a small parking area on the right; the sign for the AT and Moxie Bald is on the left.

Brew: Kennebec River Brewery
northernoutdoors.com/kennebec-river-brewery 207-663-4466

 

— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.  


Floating is used for muscle recovery, relaxation, pain management, rest, mindfulness and more.

If you keep hearing about this ‘floating’ thing, it’s for good reason.

Floating is just starting to reach the mainstream, but the concept has been around since the mid 50’s and offers many benefits, with little to no drawbacks. Top level athletes, Navy SEALs, busy executives, mindful people, pregnant women, parents, grandparents, and even some kids are experiencing how this simple practice of floating in epsom salt can benefit their health. Floating is used for muscle recovery, relaxation, pain management, rest, mindfulness and more.

A float tank is filled with 10’’ of water saturated with over 1,000 pounds of epsom salt. This solution is warm, supportive, rich in magnesium and allows you to float effortlessly on the surface. The water and air are heated to the same temperature as your skin (about 94 degrees). Weightless with senses dampened; the salt solution, your body, and the air all merging in temperature, sensational boundaries become blurred. Modern float tanks are spacious and often equipped with colored lights and music options for easing into the sensory reduced environment. You can choose to turn both off and allow your central nervous system a reprieve from external stimulation. Float sessions are recommended to be around 60-90 minutes. Research suggests that around the 45 minute mark during a float session your body begins to show signs of reduced cortisol production, reduced inflammation, increased blood flow and dopamine production. It is a truly unique way to achieve deep physical and mental relaxation.

Floating was developed by a neuroscientist in 1954 at the National Institute of Mental Health to study the brain and its response to reduced stimulation. These studies became known as R.E.S.T. (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) or Sensory Deprivation. Eventually float tanks were made for commercial use as well. No longer exclusively for research, they became popular with athletes and hippies. Float centers were predominately located on the west coast, however sprinkled throughout the US and Europe as well. With recent research and the momentum and speed at which information now spreads, floating is experiencing a resurgence, and centers can now be found in most major cities.

As people all over are waking up to the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle, many are using floating as another tool in their wellness routine. It couples nicely with yoga, meditation, chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. Try it for yourself and see how much better you can feel. 

 

Float Harder Relaxation Center


Runaways Run Club. Photo: Courtney Elizabeth.

Runaways Run Club

When my wife and I moved up to her native Maine from my native Louisiana in January 2017, we had some adjustments to make. The crawfish were ten times bigger, and you had to worry about ice dams instead of levees. We loved drinking good beer, being active, and surrounding ourselves with great people. So that March, she found a free run club on Facebook that met Wednesdays at local breweries in Portland, and we did not run away from the opportunity. It was not only what we wanted, but it was what we needed. 

Ken Krogsrud, founder of Runaways Run Club, said, “I thought there would be five people, but we now have 50 people on a Wednesday night.” Originally from California, Ken moved to Portland and was immediately hooked by its connectivity. “I started seeing people on the street I knew, and it felt more connected than separate,” he said. Raised in a very run-centric community, he’s been running ultras (50 or 100 mile races) for nine years, and is now the Race Director for GiddyUp Productions, which coordinates running events. 

Runaways Run Club

Photo: Courtney Elizabeth

The brewery connection was forged when Ken befriended Craig Dilger, owner of Foulmouthed Brewing in South Portland. “Our brewery network grew from there,” said Ken. Calling their club “Runaways Run Club,” they have since been all over the Portland area ending up at Foulmouthed, Bunker, the Great Lost Bear, Urban Farm Fermentory, Shipyard Brewing, and Bissell Brothers. Runners have even made it over to Maine Beer Company (Freeport) and Dirigo (Biddeford). 

“Brewers here really want that culture and the business,” said Ken. “And, Craig actually brewed a Runaways beer at Foulmouthed, which was a red beer with peaches. I love both red beers and peaches, so it was a refreshing, after-run beer.” Additionally, the Runaways are active in the community as well. For example, they held a fundraiser at Urban Farm Fermentory for Sarah Emerson, a local runner, who was fighting breast cancer. 

If you’re an avid runner, don’t let the beer emphasis fool you into thinking these athletes aren’t serious about running. Members will run in artic temperatures or snowstorms. This past winter, we ran in Freeport in single-digit temperatures in the darkness with headlamps; it just made the Mean Old Tom go down even nicer. We also did a brunch run at Becky’s Diner on New Year’s Eve morning, where customers waited outside in heavy winter coats, while we ran up in thermal tights. That perseverance has been good for thickening my Southern blood and crushing my fear that the bitter cold would kill me on contact. 

No matter if you’re quick as Hermes or slow as Hades, there’s a spot for you at Runaways Run Club. Even if you don’t like beer (chances are that you do because why else would you read a beer magazine?) they have several weekly non-beer related trail runs. They also have a strong presence at local races, so look for them at the Old Port Marathon and the L.L. Bean Trail Running Festival at Pineland Farms.  “It’s completely free,” Ken said. “Just show up. Reach out on Facebook and Instagram. We all have a great time, and that’s how we’ve grown. It’s not the beer or the running. It’s the people. 

— Text: John Breerwood. John is a cellarman at Shipyard Brewing Company and is currently trying to get his first novel published. He and his wife Madelyn had their first child last February.


Anytime after a running hiatus, runners in particular, need to be cognizant of developing overuse injuries as they get back into training.

Getting Back on the Road and Preventing IT Band Syndrome (ITBS)

While the most hardy Mainers continue to pound the pavement year round, most of us probably stick to cushioned treadmills in the gym, or even taking a breather over the winter months. But, whenever it’s time to get back out on the road anytime after a running hiatus, runners in particular, need to be cognizant of developing overuse injuries as they get back into training.  By keeping a few key points in mind, athletes can prevent or significantly decrease the severity of these frustrating (and sometimes devastating) injuries.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is an overuse injury caused by friction between the Iliotibial Band (on the outside of the thigh) and the lateral femoral condyle (outside portion of the knee).  It is most commonly seen in runners, cyclists, and other athletes who are repetitively flexing and extending the knee.   Pain is usually felt in the front/outside portion of the knee and can be extremely debilitating. ITBS accounts for up to 15% of overuse injuries around the knee, and running athletes are at highest risk.   

What causes ITBS?

Common causes for ITBS include a rapid increase in either the volume or intensity of running. A prime example is a runner who has not been running over the winter and returns at the same volume as he or she was running the previous season. Poor arch support from running shoes, particularly in athletes with a tendency to over pronate, also places runners at risk.  

 

STRETCHING & STRENGTHENING FOR YOUR IT BAND

Deadlift
Glute & hamstring strengthening
Squats

 

Inverted foot side leg raise
Foam Roller Stretch
Table Hangs

 

What to expect from medical intervention

ITBS is a fairly straightforward diagnosis.  However, it is important to see a sports medicine trained physician if you are having persistent pain around the knee that doesn’t respond to simple resting.  X-rays are typically normal in athletes with ITBS.  MRI can be useful in athletes with particularly severe cases in order to rule out more serious issues that may mimic ITBS including meniscus tears and stress fractures.  

On average, 90% of patients engaging in appropriate treatment will have resolution of symptoms within 4-8 weeks.  Treatment initially consists of rest, icing, and oral or topical NSAIDs.  Physical therapy with training modification is also a mainstay of treatment.  Therapy focuses on stretching of the ITB, lateral fascia, and gluteal muscles, deep transverse friction massage, strengthening hip abductor muscles, and proprioception exercises to improve neuromuscular coordination.  If initial attempts at conservative therapy fail to provide relief, a corticosteroid inject may be considered.

Tips for preventing and recognizing ITBS

Keep a running log. Increase your training intensity/volume by no more than 10% per week.

Consider including cross training with an exercise that does not require repetitive knee flexion/extension in your regimen. (i.e. swimming)

Allow a rest day once per week.

Warm up and focus on stretching before your runs.  A foam roller can be particularly helpful to stretch the IT Band.

Make sure you have appropriate arch support from your running shoes. Change your running shoes every 300-500 miles.

If you have worsening pain that comes progressively earlier in your runs and is not relived by rest, or if you have persistent pain, particularly at night, seek an evaluation with a sports medicine physician. 

 

— Text: Jonathan P. Watling, MD; Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine

 

 


2015 Bay of Fundy. Photo: Joe McGurn

How to Get Started as a Trail Runner

Trail running provides all of the health benefits of traditional road running and more while connecting you with nature. Getting started as a trail runner is easy. You need to know where to run, what type of gear to use and some basic trail running skills. In this article I’ll review the very basics you need to get started as a trail runner.

WHERE TO RUN

The great thing about trail running is that it can be done anywhere, on any trail. Trails will vary from wide carriage trails to very narrow fun and twisty animal paths. To find trails in your area check on-line and look for local parks, fire trails, ATV and hiking trails. Check with local clubs or try the excellent trail by state database at the ATRA American Trail Running Association.

GEAR

Shoes

In trail running the right shoe can make all the difference. You wouldn’t use your cross country boots with your downhill skis and you shouldn’t use your road shoes on the trail.

Trail running shoes are specifically designed for rugged terrain and they are significantly different from running shoes made for the road. Shoes for the trail fall in two main categories: light shoes for racing, sturdy and rugged shoes for the more recreational runner. Knowing how you’ll be running and the type of terrain you’ll be tackling will help you determine which shoe is best for you.

Trail runner, Joe McGurnFor recreational use or rocky and uneven trails, a shoe that is sturdy and rugged is the best choice. These shoes will have a heavier, beefier chassis with added protection around the toe box, heel and ankle. These trail running shoes also feature thick tread with a pattern well spaced to distribute mud, sand and other loose surfaces.

For smooth, hard packed, dirt trails a lighter, flexible trail running shoe with good cushioning is a great choice.

If you’re just getting started and run for recreation, a good rugged shoe like the ASICS Women’s Gel-Kahana 6 Trail Running Shoe or the ASICS Men’s Kahana 6 Trail Running Shoe is an excellent choice. I have been running on Asics for years and, for my foot, nothing is better.

Clothing

For clothing wear a wicking breathable top, loose comfortable shorts, and breathable socks to stay cool and dry. For colder running, add gloves, hats, thermal compression pants and other protection. Be sure everything is breathable because even when it’s cooler you’ll work up some good body heat.

BASIC SKILLS

Walking

The right mind set about trail running helps you enjoy the sport. Trail running is like life, it’s not a race. Enjoy your time along the way. Think “it’s more about the trail and less about the run” and it’s ok to walk.

Walking for the first few minutes of every run is a great way to warm up and get a feel for the terrain. Walking when things get more technical is smart and an excellent way to ease into trail running. The same is true of up and downhill sections that are particularly challenging. In fact, many experts will tell you it’s more efficient to walk, briskly, up a hill than it is to run.

Stride

Use a smaller, shorter stride. If you’re converting to trail running from the road your natural tendency may be to take longer strides. On the trail, where you need to make quick, fast moves on uneven terrain, a shorter stride allows you to be responsive.

Using a longer stride is a common mistake road runners make when trying trail running for the first time.

Focus

Trail running requires focus and attention. Make it a habit to scan the trail 8 – 10 feet ahead so you’re prepared for obstacles with time to react. The first time you get caught day dreaming you’re likely to take a tumble.

Trail running is an excellent outdoor activity that’s fun, exciting and can help keep you in great shape. Finding trails is easy and getting started doesn’t require a huge investment in time or money. With some good shoes and basic skills you’ll be ready for your first run in no time. Get out there and give it a try. I bet you’ll be hooked after your first run.

— Text: Steve Stearns. Steve is a blogger who writes about health and nutrition. He is interested in fat biking and mountain biking, and  lives in Bowdoin.

 

 


2018 Running Gear Trends

What’s New in Running Gear for 2018

Brooks Men's Levitate Running ShoeRaceME sat down with John Rogers, owner of Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running in Portland Maine, and Erin Flatley, Marketing Manager, to learn about trends we can expect to see in running gear this year.

Starting with shoe trends, John says, “I see the future of shoe innovations continue to be aided by the latest technology in 3D imaging and scanning. This precise data combined with in-store gait analysis, makes it easier to assess proper sizing based on a person’s foot type, individual shape of arches and pressure points. These advanced imaging tools give us more accurate details for measuring gait characteristics from ‘heel strike’ to ‘toe off’ with significant information in real time. In the future, I see more shoe stores having the ability to make customized shoes right in the store.”

 

Perfect fit with fit id™ at Fleet Feet Sports & Runningfit id™ creates a 3D scan of a person’s feet and provides specific measurements including foot width, length, and arch height. The scan takes five seconds to complete and appears on an in-store tablet, allowing the fit specialist to review, discuss observations, and find solutions together with the individual. Customers can get rescanned on future visits so Fleet Feet Sports staff can discuss any changes in measurements. fit id™ helps create a powerful in-store experience for customers that is free and they can’t get online. The technology also includes a kids’ scanning feature which incorporates a gaming element into the scanning process.

Erin is seeing another popular trend in shoe technology.
“I see shoe manufacturers being more aggressive with their midsole material and new products are trending toward increasing the energy return from the shoe back to the person with every stride.”

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam running shoeCarson Caprara, director of global product line management for Brooks Running says, “The Levitate features our revolutionary new midsole technology that releases energy straight back to the runner, making the experience so much fun they might feel like running forever.”

Other shoe companies have their own proprietary and innovative midsole material. Nike’s midsole material is called React, while Saucony’s uses their EVERUN material and New Balance features Fresh Foam. The technology in the midsole foam is also working toward more resilient and durable material to last longer over time.

Garmin 645 Wrist Watch

Garmin 645 WristwatchEnhance your run with the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music GPS watch. Technology is improving for more than running shoes this year. Garmin made this watch with runners in mind, the watch has music streaming, Garmin Pay and heart-rate tracking.

Notable Features

  • On-device music storage lets you run with your favorite tunes; download up to 500 songs and connect with Bluetooth headphones (not included) for phone-free listening
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment solution lets you make convenient payments with your watch, so you can leave your cash and cards at home
  • Tracks speed, distance, steps and calories burned, heart rate as well as advanced running dynamics including ground contact time, balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more.

 

 


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