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…”

Rootbeer

DSCN1032.JPGKnowing how to make rootbeer from stuff you can find in your backyard is a great skill for anyone, and is something you can pass on to others once you know how.  It’s also a great way to make a healthy alternative to sugar filled store-bought pop, plus you can have the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself.

I didn’t know how to make rootbeer until a friend from Thunder Bay showed me.  Depending on where you live you can put all sorts of different things in.  Here’s how my friend and I made it:

We started by foraging for Burdock and Dandelion roots.  When we had a little pail full of roots, we then went to a Cherry Tree and got a handful of bark.  We also picked several stalks of fresh Mint (on later batches I have used dried mint, but probably either dried or fresh is fine) and a few bunches of Fennel seeds.  After that we scrubbed the roots clean and pealed the skin off the Burdock.  We diced all the roots up as well as a hunk of ginger which we chopped into fine pieces.

We filled our biggest pot about halfway and set it to boil.  Once it was boiling we dumped everything in as well as about ¼ cup Molasses, and a few teaspoons of cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and ground cloves.  We let this simmer for a while, maybe 5 or 6 hours.  The longer you leave it the stronger it’ll get.

Once it had cooled we strained out the roots, leaves and bark, and added several tablespoons of Ginger Bug, about ½ cup Honey, a dash of Vanilla extract, and maybe 10 drops of pure wintergreen essential oil (depending how strong your brand of oil is).  We left that to sit at room temperature (in a non-metal bowl with a towel over top – a metal bowl may effect the taste) for about 24 hours, and then poured it through a strainer (to take out the ginger bug) into airtight plastic bottles, where we left it for another 24 hours at room temperature.  After that it was ready to drink and we stored it in the fridge.

Homemade rootbeer does not contain alcohol, but it might if you leave it for a longer time.  It also gets very bubbly so I recommend opening it over the sink or outside.

I have made rootbeer with other plants and roots while visiting friends, and you can experiment around with the edible food in your area if you want.  It would also be a good idea to look up what are some plants that grow in your area that would go well in rootbeer.  Have lots of fun trying different stuff out!