Hiking and Nature

A Hiking Guru

A Hiking Guru
Oct 16, 2019 by Robert E. Levasseur, PhD
Willem Lange is the principal host of New Hampshire Public Television’s Windows to the Wild series. He is an expert on the outdoors in general, and hiking in particular. At the age of 20, Willem hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 89 days, which was, as he said in passing on one of his programs, “booking it.” Assuming that the AT then was approximately the same length as it is today, which is 2,180 miles long, and that he hiked every day, he was traveling at an average speed of 24.5 miles/day. More realistically, if we assume that he spent 10% of the time off the trail, his average speed was closer to 27 miles per day. Imagine walking 30 miles in one day on a nice level surface (versus the challenging climbs and descents typical of the AT), and with no pack (versus a 25-50 pound pack filled with overnight gear and other essentials) and you get a rough idea of how incredible any thru-hikers accomplishment is, especially Willem Lange’s.

Hiking the AT

Hiking the AT
Oct 09, 2019 by Robert E. Levasseur, PhD
The Appalachian Trail (AT) is the reason I started hiking. A friend recommended A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, because in it Bill chronicled in a humorous way his misadventures trying to thru-hike the AT (he didn’t make it). I read the book, had a few laughs, but found myself wondering what someone who had completed the trip and written about it in a more serious way might have to say. This led me to Earl Shaffer’s Walking with Spring.

A Walk in the Park

A Walk in the Park
Oct 02, 2019 by Robert E. Levasseur, PhD

Whether you want to take a leisurely walk along the pristine shores of an iconic lake in search of moose, explore a variety of challenging trails with breathtaking views, or go for broke and climb to the summit of mighty Mount Katahdin (at 5268 feet in elevation, the highest peak in Maine), Baxter State Park is the number one place to hike in Maine. Created as a result of the generosity of Percival P. Baxter, a former governor of Maine and graduate of my alma mater, Bowdoin College, who donated the land for this 200,000 acre wilderness in north-central Maine, Baxter State Park is just incredible. A simple plaque on a boulder at Katahdin Stream Falls, gateway to Mount Katahdin via the Hunt trail (and the last leg of the famed Appalachian Trail for those thru-hikers traveling the entire 2,180 miles of the trail from south to north in one trek), captures the essence of the man who made it possible for all lovers of the wild to enjoy this majestic place forever:

 

Man is born to die. His works are short-lived. Buildings crumble, monuments decay, and wealth vanishes, but Katahdin in all its glory forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine.
 

 

A Memorable Day Hiking in Acadia National Park

A Memorable Day Hiking in Acadia National Park
May 15, 2019 by Robert E. Levasseur, PhD

I was on my way to Baxter State Park for some mid-summer hiking, when I made a spur of the moment decision to go to Acadia National Park for a day hike to avoid inclement weather forecast for Baxter. Located on Mount Desert Island, and encompassing Bar Harbor, an iconic Maine seaside resort, Acadia National Park is a beautiful place to visit and hike in.

 

Having been to Acadia in the fall of 2012 (as part of a reconnaissance mission to scope out the park) and driven to the top of Cadillac Mountain on a picture perfect day, I was looking forward to hiking Acadia in September. To that end, I had eagerly poured over Hiking Acadia National Park: A Guide to the Park’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, a well written and beautifully illustrated book, and identified a number of hikes that sounded like they were within my capability. On the top of my list was the Cadillac North Ridge Trail, which I understood was of moderate difficulty, only a 4.4 mile round trip from the trailhead to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and back and rewarded the successful hiker with some excellent views of Bar Harbor, the Maine coastline, and the surrounding mountains from open ridges on the last part of the climb. It sounded perfect!