Lost on a Mountain in Maine

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Here are a couple reflections on the book Lost on a Mountain in Main.

Twelve year old Donn Fendler becomes lost on Maine’s highest peak, Mount Kathadin. Donn spends the next nine days trapped alone in a deadly, miserable wilderness with an abundance of cold, rain, bugs, sharp rocks, and lethal precipices.

Throughout the adventure, despite great pain, fatigue, fear, and hunger, Donn shows extraordinary courage and a will to live.

The reader joins Donn in his fight to survive the brutal wilderness as he spends more than a week alone, with no more than the clothes on his back.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which you can buy here:

“… I had come back to the same sign. For a second I was stunned. I just stood there looking at it. I knew now, for sure, that I was lost. I was running in a circle. I didn’t know what to do, so I stumbled around looking for other marks, on that same trail. I guess I went a long way over rocks and over pucker bush and sometimes under it too, searching and hunting for another trail marker. I didn’t find any, but I kept going down. I remember that. After a while, I came to a place where there was a lot of gravel, and boy, was it slippery! That place was dangerous, for a slip might mean a bad fall – maybe a hundred feet or more. I slowed down. I could imagine myself lying there, in the cold and dark, with a sprained ankle. Meanwhile the rocks were getting bigger and bigger…”

Camp Breakfast

S0015002.JPGWhen you go camping, it is good to have good healthy food to eat along the way.  For breakfast it is often nice to have a piece of fruit first thing, and then have something else later.  Good foods for breakfast while camping include eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, as well as others.

As a Scout many years ago, my grandfather learned a lesson about eggs. on a camping trip he had brought half a dozen eggs but they were at risk of getting cracked inside his pack.  One of the other Scouts had brought his eggs already cracked and inside a bottle or jar.  That’s a great way to bring eggs on a trip if you are not worried about the eggs all getting mixed around with each other.

For oatmeal, boil 1 cup of water (and/or milk) for everyone who will be eating.  Add ½ cup quick cooking or old fashioned oats per person once the water is boiling.  Stir until it’s nice and thick and not watery.  You can shake in ¼ tsp salt and a spoonful of cinnamon if you want.  You can also stir in raisins, diced apples, or whatever.  Just add whatever you want and have available.

For pancakes it’s nice to use a mix that only requires adding water, but if you have all the ingredients with you, it can be healthier to make your own from scratch.  You can add blueberries or mashed banana if you have them.  Pancakes are best if cooked for a longer amount of time on very low heat.  If they are on high heat, the outside will burn easily and the inside does not cook.  Cast iron pans are best over open flame, but you have to put oil or butter on before cooking.

There are many different options for camp breakfasts, and it all depends on what you have got with you.  Remember, even if you are just camping out in your backyard (see my former post “Scouting from the Cottage”), it can still be fun to make breakfast on an open fire in the morning.

Scouting At The Cottage

IMG_00001442For my birthday my Grandparents took me to the cottage, and my Grandpa gave me a list of these four requirements that I would have to try to accomplish within the next twenty four hours:

Build a fire that lasts all day.

Build an insulated lean-to by the fire.

Sleep in the lean-to all night.

Cook breakfast on the fire in the morning.

Each one counted for a reward if I accomplished it.  I started by building a fire so that I could look after it while building a shelter.  I put some small tinder and kindling in the shape of a teepee around some newspaper, and then lit it on fire.  I slowly added larger and larger pieces of wood gradually making a bigger fire.  My original teepee design collapsed but I kept the fire going.  I found a big log in the shed and put it on, and Grandpa found another big rotten log to put on.  After that I only had to check on it every once in a while and throw a few sticks on, because larger logs burn slowly.  But they only burn if the fire is hot, if it is not, the log won’t really burn.

I then started an insulated lean-to.  I picked a location just behind the fire.  I started sticking some forked sticks into the ground.  I lay a long stick across the two of them.  The frame was quite wobbly so Grandpa showed me how to take advantage of a nearby tree, and to use it as one of the end posts.  For the other side we fastened two sticks in an X.  We lay the top stick that we had tied to the tree in the top of the X and tied it down.  We reinforced the main structure with a few more poles.  Grandpa explained that a shelter does not only have to be nature (sticks, leaves, etc.), because scouts are scroungers, which means that they can find uses for anything they find.

IMG_00001438After that, I found an old tarp that we lay over the top and tacked down to the ground using some twigs.  Grandpa found some cardboard and an old shower curtain.  We put the clear shower curtain over the entrance so that I could still see the light of the fire.  Grandpa used the cardboard to cover the opposite side while I dragged some evergreen branches and put them inside for bedding.  Grandpa found a plastic blanket that we put on top of that.  We set up a light in case I needed it, and Grandpa even hooked up a little old heater!

Later that night I went out and got into my sleeping bag.  I had a knife with me, just in case (grin) but I never had to use it of course.

In the morning I revived the fire, quickly prepared a pancake mix, and grabbed some bacon.  I started with the bacon because it takes longer to fry.  Grandpa came out of the cottage and helped me make breakfast.  We tried to find the right place over the fire for the pan so it wouldn’t burn the food but would still cook it evenly.

Later, I fried some sausage and eggs as well.  Grandpa told me a story of when he was on a camp out in boy scouts.  He had brought eggs and he was worried about them breaking in his pack, but his friend had his eggs already cracked into a bottle, so all he had to do was dump them into the frying pan.  I thought that is a great idea if you have to hike to the camp site.

After breakfast we cleaned everything up and Grandpa reminded me of the scout’s camping motto:

“Leave only footprints, Take only photos.”

I learned a lot from Grandpa and had a lot of fun!IMG_00001445