Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book Reviews Requested

Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Hard to sit down and read, or write for that matter, when the colors are changing so dramatically.

If you did read my new book, Living the Dream-everything I know about seasonal work I learned the hard way, which was promoted three weeks ago via free download, and would take a moment to write a review at, I would appreciate it.

On the product page, which you can find in the last blog post- just click on the link to give your opinion.

Coming soon, I'll share videos of my RV as I prepare to boondock down in Arizona this winter. Seems like it will be the perfect place to work on a new book I'm calling, True Cost.  As the title suggests, this new tome will be a very candid look at my second thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Thanks for your patience with me as a writer.

Happy Trails,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Free Down Load-Living the Dream

In celebration of Labor Day, my new book Living the Dream will be available for a free download. Both Monday and Tuesday, the 5th and 6th of September, you'll be able to click on the link and enjoy your free copy.

this short book contains quizzes and tips, along with true stories and lists to help anyone who wants to live the seasonal lifestyle, work in great places and meet new people.

If you read this book, please write a review for me at It can be a single word. It helps other folks know if the book was useful. It also helps me as an author to receive feedback. Thank you.

And now, having successfully completed my second thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, I feel strong and ready to share the adventure with you by way of another book. The anticipated publishing date is not until 2017, but it should be my best work ever, and include directions on how to make some of my favorite gear, plus resupply points, the cost and changes I've witnessed along the way. My first thru hike was fourteen years ago.

My tent is worn and much loved. I'll be remaking it. As a prototype, I found it just a little short when I placed my pack inside during rainy nights. But I love it so much, with six extra inches in length, it will be perfect. My hiking poles provide the support. It weighs just 22 ounces.
And as always, thanks for all your comments and support. Happy trails.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Opinions and Hiking Solutions

I received this e-mail recently and thought I'd share it with you. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts and words. Below the bold text, I offer the remedies I've found work for me.

Sent from my iPad.   
Brawny, I read your blog to get real common sense advice about hiking.

I'm 54 and always wanted to hike more but life always kept me too committed to others. Raising a family, caring for elderly parents, caring for elderly pets and now working days and sitting evenings for my first grandchild.

I day hike, mostly on the Long Trail. I live in Vermont and have beautiful places to hike all around me. They are not Grand like the PTC or CDT but I have to work with what I have and Vermont is beautiful. The fact that you are an older woman and have a ton of trail time under your belt, makes your advice much more valuable for people like me! There are a lot of Baby Boomers wanting to hit the trails but not sure if they can handle the challenge. Your experience and advice could help a lot of people. Screw the Hollywood types, they are all idiots anyway. I need advice on foot wear. The pads on the bottom of my feet are thinning out and I can't seem to find a hiking shoe with enough padding. At the end of a long hike it's extremely painful to walk. 

On a more personal note, my hormones ( after menopause ) are all screwed up and I can't seem to take the heat and humidity. Any suggestions? I have snowshoes and cross country skis for the winter, but it would be nice to enjoy summer hiking too.  Thanks for reading my long winded message. I sincerely hope you will reconsider giving up your blog. Although I do get it that you just want to be left alone to find some peace. You are the real deal and have the experience to prove it. All the normal people out here could really use your advice. Just something to think about!                  Stay Happy😊

It is disconcerting that our bodies start giving out, especially as we look at retirement from full time jobs and caretaking. But never give up. I spent a summer Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness (a paid position in 2014)  and met people in their sixties, seventies and one turning 80, out there loving it, in spite of the pain. I also met 'kids' who couldn't take it anymore and quit.

I no longer can get by with trail runners for mountainous terrain. My Keen hiking boots weigh about twice what my Nike Airs did, but I now need a high-top, light hiking boot and extra padding, which I obtain by utilizing a secondary, serious insert. So, when shopping for a hiking boot, I go in the afternoon when my feet are "swollen", if ever, so I can get the boot that feels like home. Comfortable the second I lace them up. Also, I bring the extra inserts I plan to use to be sure the boot is large enough.

I still wear trail runners for light excursions.

Not everyone deals with heat and humidity the same way. Some folks are definitely more susceptible to heat exhaustion. I've met many long distance hikers who take a long break during the heat of the day to hunker under a shady spot, even if it means a simple Joshua tree. Then, instead of camping by 5 p.m, they'll hike into the evening, perhaps even after cooking supper along the trail. So they still get their miles in, but break it into spurts.
I rise with the sun and hike in the cool of the morning. Its amazing how many miles you can get in before noon.
While doing the Wonderland trail this past summer, I rose with the sun, ate as I hiked and had to press on during the heat. Several times, upon reaching a trailside stream or waterfall, I took off my  hat, filled it with water and soaked my shirt. Very cooling and refreshing.

And surely, if there ever was a time to lose the extra pounds, either gear or body, its now as we age. The critical things we can't do without: sleeping pads, sleeping bags, good shoes, reasonable calories and plenty of water, weigh enough without extra pounds of non essentials.

Body weight is a hard one, especially with the holidays coming up. I've learned to take half portions and savor it. That little bit of pleasure one feels while eating hearty can in no way offset the grueling effort it takes to remove the extra pounds.

In closing, thank you so much for your kind words. Its not so much wanting to be "left alone" as sort of running out of stuff to talk about. It seems its all been said and done.

Maybe not.
Happy trails.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What To Do With Nine Months

A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She smoked for thirty years then quit this fall, on her birthday. Two months later,  after a great deal of pain in her gut, she went to the hospital, demanding answers. She got hers.

Nine months to live.
What would you do with nine months?

Every day I go to work and cook for special guests, I ask myself, if I was given that diagnosis, what would I do.

I sure wouldn't be cooking a line.
I'd go hiking.

And visit family.

And dance every night I could.

Maybe there is reincarnation. Great minds believe its not over when this body gives up.
I don't know. Some hope they don't have to deal with all this again. Maybe we'll get to be wild animals or a tree.

Nine months is nothing.
It is enough time to hike a long trail. In the end, they say, its not the things that we did that we'll regret, its the things we didn't do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Goodbye Gift-Free Book

Between September 23, in honor of the first day of fall, until September 25th, you can get a free copy of Moose and Men-Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness.

Simply go to:Of Moose and Men at

While hiking the Wonderland Trail, I came to the realization my blogs had run their course. Maybe I've just read and reported and tested until the cows finally came home. Hell has frozen over. Last straw and all that.

So, good bye, happy trails and may the bluebird of happiness smile on you.

I'm leaving the blog up in case I change my mind.

No, just to share what I've worked on the last five years.

Best wishes, ya'll.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Running Out

Here on the mountain, I run out of ideas for posting.
Sure, I've been trying new ideas in the backcountry, but nearly every trick under the sun has been seen and done.

The chef gave me one idea, though, for my last hike that I'd never seen before. Instead of carrying a bottle of 100% deet, I put six paper napkins in a pint size Ziploc bag, doused it good with deet and brought that.

At night, I wiped my sweaty body down, removing dust, applying deet. In the morning, I flipped the napkin over and wiped my face. Somehow, and this may gross you out, I actually felt refreshed. Sweat gone, a fine layer of oily bug repellant installed.

It worked. End of trail, I had used every paper napkin and endured not a single gnat or bug.

Of course, what works for me might disgust you. To each their own. As the saying goes, hike your own hike.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wonderland Trail Brutal but Beautiful

I met lots of groups on the Wonderland trail. Everyone hiking this circle around Mount Rainier needs one, so that in the end, each campsite is full, but none overfull. There's a lot of rock and slope, so finding a stealth camp would be hard.
When the chef gave me 4 days to go get er done, I did. Permit in hand, I left my motorhome eating an apple. The first photo opt, at the Longmire junction, was before daylight.
With GORP and gear, my pack weighted 10 pounds. Water, was extra. I kept a good handle on that so never got dehydrated. Below, see the prototype 'bivy'. It weighs 12 ounces. A tad claustrophobic, but it held the heat in good. You can see the red quilt inside, tested for 40 degrees at one pound. Primaloft fill, the best I could find, is considered synthetic down.

I asked a woman to take my photo. This was coming over Summerland. You can see the sleeping pad is used for my hip belt. My food bag is in the front. I carried 4 pounds of Gorp.

Because there is over 20,000 foot elevation change in these 93 miles, the toes take a beating. Even with my wide toed hiking boot (not trail runner) I fear I might loose toe nails. The price we pay for freedom!
This magnificent trail usually is done in 10-12 days because it is indeed brutal. I did it this way because it was the most days off I could snag up here while cooking for the employees. Many, many thanks to my chef, Chris, for understanding my need and ability to undertake the challenge.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mount Rainier Hikes

My family came to visit last Monday. It was great. We hiked three waterfalls, did hot dogs and marshmallows and found out you can make sa'mores using Oreo cookies instead of graham crackers and candy bars.
The traffic is sort of bad due to road construction, Monday thru Friday, but its worth it.

This view from lower Christine Falls was one of our favorites.
If you manage to visit Mount Rainier, bring snacks and make sure your tank if filled. You can't buy gas in this park. Last week, we were two days without power up at Paradise, which makes cooking for 200 a challenge.
But, being a backpacker, I knew some tricks and all went well.
Looking forward to fall and doing the Wonderland trail.
Sorry for so few posts. I get internet by walking to this one little EDR at Longmire, sitting here on my day off and struggling with the streaming. Hopefully, more stuff to follow.
I continue to be amazed by the heavy gear I see. It does make a difference, even on day hikes.
Happy Trails. Be prepared, but travel light.
See you on the mountain.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Love the Mountains, Hate Road Construction

Here at Mount Rainier, we face some challenges. While I adore my views, my motor home and new friends, staying "connected" or uploading new material to my blogs or films is challenging.

Attitudes suffer from no phone service. Sure, I could skype someone if I wanted to sit here in the Longmire EDR and chat over my laptop. Sure, I could gmail a phone call, but all that is pretty much public because the connectivity here sucks.

So, if you're considering working up here in this particular National Park, beware. You will face challenges that are not always evident.
Last night, a couple guys took the shuttle to Ashford on a beer run. Round trip of two and a half hours. That can be fun, if you're in the mood for a beautiful drive.
I've started doing laundry by hand to avoid the two hours needed to make that happen in the one machine here.
I'd rather be hiking.

Can't say it isn't some of the most amazing scenery on earth. Wild flowers abound. Every color and texture. Deer feed a dozen yards from the Employee Dining Room windows. Lovely. Very lovely.

Hoping to get some hikes in again, I've done those close to this location. I've just got to fight the construction crew delays, and drive up to the trail head up mountain. Worth it. So worth it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wild Edibles

Here at Mount Rainier, I cook. On my days off I eat wild plants.
Its a learning experience, because I'm finding, many plants in the field are not in the books. At least, not at this early stage of development. So I have developed other methods of personal discovery.
I did find several edible varieties from the book by Samuel Thayer. He does and excellent job detailing plants in their various stages. As we all know, however, plants common to one area, are not common to another.

Other activities up here on the very remote, lightly connected Mountain include hiking and exploring. I've been told the Wonderland Trail is booked for the summer. What?
Oh, yeah, you've got to have permits to camp in any one of a dozen remote campsites on the 93 mile circuit. As yet, I've never seen a tent at any of those remote sites. Humm. Booked but unbedded?
Maybe one can hike it, anyways.
Can we whisper stealth? No, I did not say that. I did NOT say I would cover it as a wild creature, bedding down at will, when darkness came.

Nearly every work day, as I ride the shuttle through the parking lot on top, I see hikers heading up the Skyline trail. Some are geared for mountain climbing, some for backpacking, some for a simple stroll.
I always want to chuck the uniform and head out. I ask myself, what the hell am I doing here, cooking?

I guess being a  ridge-runner last summer, inhaling freedom with every breath of air, ruined me. I am time-clock abhorrent. A horrible affliction for an employee of rule laden concessionaires.
Four months to go.
The trail calls.
Which master will win?