Four Days in Maine
This was our 5th year heading up to the 100-Mile Wilderness in Northern Maine. The trip never ceases to amaze me. From the people you meet, to the terrain, the topography, the food, new gear, the weather and the topics of conversation, there is definitely something there that keeps me coming back, and this year was no different.
This year, there was a brand new hut croo which brought their own flair to the Gorman experience. They were engaging, accommodating and uniquely interested in your outdoor experience as well as your experience at the hut. I want to mention that I have a decent amount of food issues and the croo and the chef were nothing less than gracious and did everything possible to make me a great meal, and they succeeded on all fronts.
Gear is probably one of the more interesting parts of the trip. I always love new gear, I mean, who doesn’t love good gear. This year I had with me a new mid-layer jacket with a hood from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) that was designed to hold back wind, but also help with wicking moisture away from my skin. Skeptical as I might have been going in, I am sold. Loved loved loved my new jacket. Now, I’m a “sweater”, it’s true, I run hot and I sweat. What’s worse is that I hate having a wet shirt or feeling that cold from wet clothes, so I’m going to try just about anything to keep that from happening.
It’s important at this point to bring in the temperature and the overall weather on the trip. Temperatures ranged from -20F to 25F depending on where you were and what time of day it was. Add that to the wind which we had on day three and it got mighty cold on the top of Third Mountain. The important part of hiking especially in the cold is knowing when to add layers and when to remove layers. The moment I start to feel the least bit warm I will stop and take off a layer. What I will say at this point is that my gear performed brilliantly this trip. There are always hiccups but in all I was impressed by the overall reliability of my gear. So what did I use?
Well, I’m going to give a plug to MY own product first. The Sven Can See Anti-fog Gel worked incredibly well. I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t have a few moments of fog, because I did. But what I can tell you is that most of the entire trip of four days, up and down mountains, on and off trains, I was fog free.
More gear…For my baselayers I use the EMS Techwick product for my shirts and LL Bean’s baselayer mid weight on the bottom. For the top however I wear two Techwick tops one on top of the other, it’s what works best for me. For my snowpants, it’s EMS, I love their snowpants. I have another pair from REI that I swap out depending on the conditions but for the most part my EMS pants are my go to. For my jackets, REI for my mid weight fleece. EMS for my shell and again for my new mid-layer wicking jacket with the hood, which I used a lot more than I had figured I would.
Hats are key to success. I used my Mountain Hardwear hat going up and my new hat from Heat Holders going down. Big difference going up the mountain than going down the mountain. You aren’t exerting the same kind of energy so holding in that heat is important.
My sunglasses are from Wiley. Tons of sunglass options out there and I like the way these fit. I used my very first Buff product and it made a ton of difference. It held back the sweat and gave me a little bit more warmth around my face and head. A really great product that I would highly recommend.
Next up are my boots. I have two pairs of Merrell waterproof boots that have a clip on the front for my gators. I wore the other ones down so far that you can see the bolts in the soles, and I plan on doing it again with the ones I’m wearing now.
My snowshoes are from MSR. These are my third pair of snowshoes and they are my most favorite. This offseason I’m getting a new pair because I wore the others down and it’s time. My poles are from Black Diamond and were a gift from my daughter. They make a great product that is reliable and easy to set. Good clear markings make for a quick match up of size which makes a ton of difference when the weather is extremely cold and you just want to get going.
Last but not least are gloves. Kudos to the folks at Outdoor Research for making the glove mitten combo. I don’t know how they did it but my gloves didn’t get all wet inside and kept my hands dry and warm the entire trip.
Like many folks I know, I’m a gear junkie. I love good gear and I just want to say that while the gear on this list is my preference there is a ton of really great gear out there. Hats off to all those like me that just want to make a good product and help people have a great, safe outdoor experience.
Get outdoors. It’s really quite worth it.