Self-Propelled but not Self-Deprived

I have struggled with a powerful addiction to the intoxicating power of trails for years now.

People who suffer from this condition become grim, self-deprived travelers.

We experience an  overwhelming urge to reach the next mile-marker, the next campsite, the next lean-to shelter.  It’s an exercise in tunnel-vision. We plan trips based on miles per day – completely ignoring whatever attractions those particular miles might contain. Once we get on the trail – our sole, burning desire is to complete the task of finishing the trip in the allotted time available.

Like any recovering addict — I have had my relapses.  I once paddled 37 miles in a single day on the Allagash in order to reach a particular campsite. I have often hiked quickly past towering mountain vistas without lifting my eyes from the rocky trail. And my pack rod has remained unassembled for days at a time on long hikes past remote, trout-filled ponds on the AT and in Baxter State Park.

My recovery has been a long journey in itself. And my upcoming month-long trip from Kittery to Fort Kent  will be a big test.  So I have developed some coping skills that I hope will get me through.

1. I have planned for fewer miles per day. Some of the biking days are embarrassingly short on mileage.  But I hope that this will encourage layover days with fewer worries about making up lost miles.

2.  By traveling for fewer hours per day I can modify the daily itinerary to accommodate weather issues,  gear problems and side trips.

3. Lots of down time is anticipated for reading, writing, napping, navigation and contemplation.

4. I will avoid sleep-deprivation at all costs. No sleeping on the ground if a bunk or other option is readily available.

5. Guests and companions will join me whenever possible.

And finally, I am constantly reminding myself to bring my most important piece of gear — – an instinct for knowing when to stop and remember what attracted me to the idea in the first place.


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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine. Find Self-propelled on Facebook: