6 Shiny Things for Winter Adventurers

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For me one of the shiniest (best) things is a beautiful winter’s day in the mountains with sunshine, bluebird skies, sparkling fresh snow, and glittering cascades of ice (Mt. Monroe, NH 2017).

During winter when the darkness comes too soon and lingers for far too long, all the shiny, sparkly, and glittery things seem to have extra appeal. The six things that made my list for this year’s winter gift guide ($7 to $70) and gear review all make dark winter days and long winter nights a little bit brighter, shinier, and more sparkly. So, without further ado, here are a few of my shiniest things (additional holiday song spoofs included in photo captions):

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Living On The Edge! Katahdin’s Knife Edge and More…

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Treebeard traversing the Knife Edge after completing his AT thru-hike.

If you are looking for one of the most spectacularly beautiful hikes in the Northeast, you should add Mt. Katahdin and the Knife Edge to your bucket list… but I have to warn you, it’s also one of the most rocky, brutal, and exposed hikes in New England. When I finished my Appalachian Trail thru-hike on the summit of Mt. Katahdin on October 4, 2013 I looked around and realized that the AT was missing some of the best parts of Katahdin and I knew that I’d be back. This summer (2015), after hiking all of the trails up Mt. Katahdin except for the Abol Trail (currently closed for repairs), I’ve finally decided on my favorite Mt. Katahdin day-hike, a hike that contains two of Maine’s official 4000 footers:

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Bear Bags (Days 7&8)

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Hanging a good bear bag definitely felt like a lot of work last night. The biggest problem was finding a suitable branch to hang it from. The branches that were thick enough and far enough from the trunk seemed to be 50 ft up, the ones that were 20-30 ft up seemed too small and scraggly. If I saw a branch that I thought would work, the ground beneath it and around it was covered in poison ivy. Also, the poison ivy grows up the trunks of the trees. Eventually as the sun set I gave up and just picked a branch and decided to make it work. It turns out the trunk of the tree was covered in poison ivy, but so far so good… No itching. The result is pictured above and I think it’s quite beautiful.

Even with all of the mountains and elevation of the last couple of days the trail has been pretty nice. The bluettes along the trail and the temperatures are making it feel like summer already.

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I’m amazed by all of the trillium along the trail. I’m used to thinking of them as rare, and I heard that the ones like those we have at home are relatively rare here too, but the pink and the white trillium are incredibly pervasive here. I’ve walked across hillsides completely covered with them.

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I encountered a section hiker, Spirit Bear, and have ventured into town with him to resupply and get mail drops. So far all of the people we’ve met have been vey helpful and supportive, especially the folks at Betty’s Country Store in Helen, GA. I’m looking forward to getting back on the trail tomorrow with a new iPhone that actually powers down when I tell it to.

Other things I ran into on the trail today include: 3 turkeys, trillium (whire, pink, and purple), wild orange azaleas, lady slippers, and purple orchids (galeorchis spectabilis).

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