Category: Faith & Writings

Make a Difference

Make a difference.

   A few years back after one of the major hurricanes had come up the northeast coast wreaking havoc all across the eastern seaboard. The day after the hurricane had passed; a father had brought his son to the beach to see that the danger had passed and that the sun was shining once again. That morning as two of them had crested the top of the dunes and looked out towards the ocean, they came across a sight that neither of them had expected to see. The storm had washed millions of fish up onto the shore. As far as they could see in either direction, there were dead and dying fish covering every inch of the beach. As the two of them walked past the fish to the edge of the water, the young boy picked up one of the fish that was gasping for air and tossed it back into the sea.    The father looked at his son and tried to console him a little:  There’s just too many of them, and if they’re not already dead, they will be very soon. We can’t possibly make a difference… The boy waited for a moment and then responded to his father. I made a difference to that fish. Author unknown, As told to me by James Prescott

   The scripture tells us that we will always have trials, there will always be insurmountable problems, but it also shows compassion so strong that it was willing to die for its cause. We are that cause. Jesus had every right to give up on us. Not one, not even his closest disciples stood by him. The sin in this world IS insurmountable. The pain and suffering, the senselessness of the hate and cruelty that people have towards each other is overwhelming and if you or any one of us glanced even for a second with an open heart at the depth and truth of the evil that surrounds us, it would flood us with unbearable hopelessness. 

    But we are not hopeless, and we are not helpless to make a difference.

   Jesus gave us the model for discipleship: take a very small group of loyal friends, invite them into your life for several years, teach them continuously, and then let them go to repeat the process with their own disciples.

   I didn’t grow up as a Christian. I didn’t become a Christian until my mid 20’s. If there was even one person that tried to reach out to me in my teen-years, I can’t remember one. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what might have been in my life if someone, just anyone, reached out to me to direct my path at that time. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I came in contact of a few people that reached out to help guide me along the right path. I credit those people for nudging my life from where I was destined, to where I ended up.

Almost all of those people were Christians, but very few of them attempted to persuade me that I should become a Christian too. In most cases I learned of their personal faith, after their greatest impact upon my life was over. But! I am absolutely certain, that every one of these people reached out to me and impacted my life by intent! And through them, God was nudging me “Inch by inch” into a place where I would be more receptive to His presence in His interceders. Eventually He brought me into the path of people who would actively disciple me to be a follower of Christ. But first, He sent those to till the fallow ground.

   As I look back through my life and examine the difference makers in my life, they really didn’t do all that much; some only invested just few well-connected hours; very few invested more than 20 hours. But, cumulatively it was enough to make all the difference in the world to me.

  For 35 years in ministry, I have dedicated myself to making a difference to young people, one or two disciples at a time, for as long as our paths intersected. (I seem to relate most to the age in a person’s life where they are most vulnerable, and least reached.) If I have any regrets in my life, it is that over all these years there have only been a very small handful of people that I have been able to reach out to in a meaningful discipleship roll.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

In regard to discipleship I often fear that all we like sheep have gone astray, we have left the example of Christ and follow our own paths.

We mistake evangelism for discipleship. We focus on the noun, not the verb. (Interesting note: Disciple doesn’t even show up in the English dictionary as a verb.)

For me the process of discipleship to young people is a selfish one. It is only within the context of investing my self into nudging someone onto the right path, shining a dimly lit light towards my Lord and Savior, that I experience the second premise of Matthew 28:19-20… Be sure of this – that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

I wish I were a better Christian; More anchored, More disciplined (No pun intended); Able to sustain my faith without it’s connection to the ministry of discipleship to kids that often don’t even seem to care or notice. But, like a light switch on a wall turns on and off a light, so is the depth of my walk associated to depth of my ministry. But I am desperately driven to make a difference. And I can’t understand, those who are not.

Be a difference maker by intent.

It really doesn’t take all that much effort.

Nudge someone a little bit closer to the right path.

Make a difference, one person at a time.

Clipping in

Clipping in.

  Last week we began learning about the basics of rock climbing:

Knowing the basics, for each and every one of us is absolutely critical, (A matter of Life and Death actually.).

   Before you ever let someone/anyone talk you into climbing up, or rappelling down the side of a sheer rock face wall, you had better know for yourself that everything is set right. People get hurt, or even worse, when they don’t know what they are doing, and they trust that someone else hasn’t made any mistakes.  

   This week I am giving each of you a carabineer. It’s NOT a climbing carabineer! It’s only useful for clipping in some extra gear onto your school book bag. But it’s more than enough to remind you about your response to this message tonight.

   The first personal investment in any climb or repel is CLIPPING IN. That is the moment you begin to be 100% invested in the activity. For that exact reason, “On Belay” is the first voice command a person ready to climb, or repel, announces to his support personnel. It’s announcing to the world “I’m on deck! This is it! I’m committing to this!” The second you “Clip in.” to the rope and begin the process of backing off and over the ledge, you are putting your total faith in the support system. You are putting your faith in: (You’re putting your life in the hands of.) the harness, the rigging, the rope, and your belayer. Your support person will reply; “Belay on!”. Only after a person has completed the process of clipping in, and has completely double-checked all his safety checks, he then calls out “Climbing!”, and waits for the reply, “Climb on!”.

    Tonight I want to invite each of you to “Clip In”.

   Before each of you takes one of these carabineers I want you think about your commitment to being a Christian. Have you really “Clipped in”? Have you made the same commitment with your life to Jesus, as someone does with their equipment when they risk everything on a climb?  

Tonight I’m going to make things very easy; simply by speaking out the phrase, “On Belay”.

    If you can remember a specific moment in time when you accepted Christ in your life, and you are absolutely certain that you have made the life changing commitment to trust your life to Him. Then I want you to think of this as just another safety check. Make sure you are securely tied in to Jesus through a real relationship with Him. Re-dedicate yourself to read your bible; (even just a few minutes a day.). Is your prayer life as solid as it should be? Are you sharing your daily life with Him through an awareness of the Holy Spirit guiding your thoughts and actions? And most importantly, is the relationship two directional? Do you believe in your spirit that you have heard the call back from Jesus, “Belay on!”. As you pick up your carabineer, confirm your commitment tonight by calling out, “On Belay”.

    If you are sure of a personal strong solid faith in Jesus Christ, and you really want to step up your relationship with Jesus. If you are looking for something in your life that puts your religion into relationship and your relationship into actions; you want to be an active part in the work and ministry of Christ… Then by all means,,, go ahead and call out to Him, “Climbing!”

    If you aren’t sure where you stand with your commitment with Jesus, I want to give you an opportunity tonight to make that first step. If you want to put your trust in Him to help you with the rest of your life; If you want to know the freedom of being completely forgiven of all your sins; If you want a new purpose, a new reason, and put a new captain in charge of your life; Tonight as you take your carabineer, call out to Him, “On Belay”.

    Tonight, if you’re simply unsure. You don’t know where you stand; you’re not sure if you’re ready to accept Christ in your life. You don’t even know for sure what that means… Please! Feel free to take one of these carabineers as a commitment to your self, that you are willing to keep an open mind. Take one of these carabineers to remind yourself that you are open to the possibilities that Christ could make in your life. Take one of these carabineers to at least make the commitment to yourself that you have not completely closed the door to Jesus.

    My prayer for each of you tonight is that you will use this carabineer often, and that the Holy Spirit will remind you of your personal response to this invitation tonight.

*** May God Bless ***

      John Chicoine

———-  If you made it this far  ———   I have one last final cookie.   

      Of the combined 12 boys last night, only 3 responded to the invitation in any way.   (Surprising.)

      BUT! All of those three boys responded with,  “Climbing”.  It was no surprise to me who these three boys were. Their maturity in the Lord is obvious in their lives, and each of these three want to have more of Christ in their lives.       I am so blessed to know each of them, and I look forward to watching them walk out the Christ life.

RR Water Baptism

WE DID IT!  We finally had our water baptism at the lake. The Lord blessed us with best of His creative majesty. What a great time of commitment and testimony for the Adventure and Expedition Rangers. I am absolutely certain it was an experience to remember for the 4 young men that took advantage of this opportunity to commit and or re-commit their walk with Jesus.    

    Thanks Jaxon for your testimony and performing the baptisms. Way to step up your walk with Jesus.

Next Wednesday night we will be joining the entire outpost at the counsel fire.  


Tonight’s devotional focused on what happens next! It’s not what you might think.

What a great joy of having 4 young men water baptized tonight; each hoping to have a closer and more focused relationship with their lord and savior, Jesus. And what a great testimony before those family and friends that were there to witness it! While it would be a strong temptation to bask in the excitement and joy of that moment; and though I don’t want to diminish the power of that to change a person’s life, I felt compelled to look to the future.

I must admit that personally I find myself driven to change the odds. The truth of the reality that so many of our young people walk away from their faith by their mid 20’s. That here in America we are closing the doors on 10 churches every week. That one in two marriages end in divorce, and the truth that a living Christianity is failing to raise up the moral standard in our society, are of utmost concern. Even more, I can’t erase from my mind the names and faces of so many individuals I have worked with over the years that are no longer walking with Jesus.

My devotional focused not the excitement and joy of the moment, but on what comes next. None of us will stay on the mountaintop all the time. All of us will at some time walk in the darkness of the valley. We must be prepared.

I am so grateful that in the scriptures, God opens the vaults of His heart and lets us see the strengths and the weaknesses of His hero’s. So many times in my own life I have turned to the story of John The Baptist. If there is a Bible hero I can relate to the most it would be him. Not that I would even be worthy to wipe the dust from his sandals. (By the way that’s not what Jesus says.)

I want to call our attention to the words of Christ about John the Baptist.

I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is” (Matthew 11:11). Of all the hero’s of the faith, Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Elijah, Noah! Jesus said John the Baptist is greater than them all!

John was a man that throughout his life was dedicated to fulfilling the call of God upon His life. The scripture tells us that just at the sound of Mary’s voice (Jesus’s mother) when she came to visit her cousin Elisabeth, that the unborn child jumped in the womb and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that throughout John’s youth he “continued to grow in the Spirit of God”. John was a man that like no other was the fullness of the Holy Spirit pointing the world to Jesus. His entire life was for just one purpose, one sentence! “ Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. “ John baptized Jesus and witnessed with his own eyes the Spirit of God coming from heaven and landing on Jesus. He heard with his own ears the voice of God proclaiming Jesus as His son, in whom He was well pleased.

Now I want to take us to another scripture, a place in the darkness of the world, a place of deep distress, and inner turmoil, a lonely and desperate place in the dungeon’s of King Herod where John the Baptist knows he is about to be beheaded for his faith in Jesus. Things are getting real for this great man and he calls from the prison cell one last time to a trusted disciple and out of the depth of his soul, he has to have this one most important question answered:

Matthew 11:2-6

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

How pressed to the limit John must have been?

Brothers and sisters I tell you the truth, if this man had to ask this question, how then could we ever expect that we would not? Do we consider ourselves greater than him? Have we seen more than he? Have we lived our entire life as he had lived just to proclaim these words, “Behold the lamb of God”. I know in my heart as well as I am alive that at some point, each of us will ask of Jesus these very same words; “Are you the one, or should we look for another?”

I know that in this moment of great expectation for what God has done, and what God will do in your lives. At this time when this God is filling your lives with the joy of your salvation, and all you want to do is be baptized and testify of your great faith in Jesus. I know that for those of you that today that just died with Christ under the water and were raised up out of the water in the newness of the Spirit of God that these words are the farthest thing from your minds, but I pray that when the time comes and this excitement fades, that you will remember the story of John the Baptist.

Jesus didn’t rebuke John for his moment of weakness. Jesus didn’t condemn him for desperation and boldness to know for sure. Jesus didn’t reject John for his doubt. NORE WILL HE REJECT YOU. The crowd must have heard the question, they must have begun to murmur, they must have begun to judge John for his doubt, and so they will do the same of you.

I want you to notice that it was after John asked Jesus, “Are you the one?”, that Jesus goes out of His way to address the crowd about John the Baptist, “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. “

I pray that you will remember the story of John the Baptist; not for the weakness of his flesh, not for the question that he asks, but for the answer that he was given.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see, the Blind can see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His answer to John the Baptist is the same answer He will give you. The evidence of the truth of Jesus is the only answer that is able to keep us and sustain us even unto death. John witnessed the things that he saw, John was filed with the Holy Spirit, and John was the man that was called to baptize Jesus because John the Baptist was true to his calling. He fulfilled his work with complete and total dedication and faithfulness.

We must be about our fathers business. We must test the Spirit of God in faith to fulfill His calling. We can never depend upon these mountain top moments of excitement and joy, to carry us through the valleys. Jesus has to be alive in us and the ongoing evidence of His truth and glory is the only thing we can count on. Emotion has no place in the answers to the questions of our soul.

The blind can still see,

The deaf can still hear,

The lame will still walk,

The dead are still raised up,

And the poor still have the good news preached to them!

Holy Spirit-1

I wish to express a few thoughts on the importance of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

It is vitally critical, and biblically sound that every Christian should seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I personally do not assign the same requirements of the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit being Speaking in Tongues as some do, but I do recognize that there is a difference between being saved (by accepting Jesus as your savoir), and being Baptized in the Holy Spirit. I consider this to be the true Born Again, or “Penticostal” experience. Do not underestimate the importance of every Christian moving beyond operating in ones own capacity to function in this world, into a greater state of living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and functioning in the Spiritual world.

It occurs to me that I should try to define what this term “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” means. (At least for me.)


• It is not just, “Trying to be a better Christian”. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a power in your life that gives you strength to do God’s works beyond the natural will and motives of man.

Scripture says,,, Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides…

Speaking Gifts Serving Gifts
Word of Wisdom Faith
Word of Knowledge Healing
Prophesy Miraculous powers
Tongues Service
Interpretation Discernment
Apostle Helps
Teacher Administration
Encouragement Giving
Leadership Mercy

• It is not an event. It is a change of life focus that is a continual learning and evolving / transforming Christ centered force in a person’s life.
• It is not a possession (your skill, your talent or your intellect.) Although you may have these things, The Holy Spirit is a person; He is the person of God doing His will & work through your abilities, and beyond your abilities.
• The Holy Spirit does not “take control” of your life, but he does lead and direct people to constantly be open to doing God’s work in our lives.
• We do not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a reward for having “Cleaned up the sin in our lives”. Rather we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit when we open our hearts and minds to the Christ life, (Which by default rejects a life focused on sin, and genuinely seeks to please God. Through a righteous life.) Once we are on the right path,,, we then must be willing to surrender our own wicked nature, and intentionally choose to turn over the direction of our lives to the Holy Spirit.
• The Baptism of the Holy Spirit does not make us “So heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” That’s just someone who wants worldly recognition for his or her appearance of holiness.
• The Baptism of the Holy Spirit does not just happen. We have to want him to come into our life! (Not for our own purposes). We have to be willing to put on God’s mantle of righteousness, and understand the consequences and responsibilities (good and bad) of our choice.
• Last but not least,,, many people do speak in tongues. At the very least,,, speaking in tongues is a sign that we are willing to release control over our lives, and allow God to take control. It is a voluntary choice on your part to intentionally say to God,,, Go ahead, I’m ready, Take me and use me supernaturally.
• The Holy Spirit will never lead you to stand on your front lawn twirling a dead cat above your head, and clucking like a chicken,,,, (I really felt foolish doing that.)


I have known many great Christians, that are very truly Christian by every sense of the word; but by false teaching, or personal conviction, they do not accept and recognize the difference of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I do not doubt or question their complete dedicated conviction to Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and in many cases, I am easily put to shame by their Christian works and great faith. Nor do I imply any question as to their state of Salvation. In the natural world, this speaks only to their great credit and depth of their love for Jesus Christ, that they have been able to achieve so much of the Lords work in their own strength. But in the spiritual world of good and evil, flesh and bone cannot win or even fight the spiritual battles in the warfare that we Christians must overcome in our own personal trials, and in our society.

The church MUST accept, as it’s number one objective, to operate in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the church is no more than any other well meaning, benevolent organization. (When I say “the church”, I mean God’s people (individual and corporate). When I say “fullness of the Holy Spirit”, I mean a true Pentecostal Baptism of the Holy Spirit of the members of the body of Christ.) Most modern churches in America today (Christians, individuals and corporately) are little more than “bless-me clubs” of gatherings of individuals that have had a real revelation of Christ Jesus as their Savior (enough to effect a positive influence on their lives,) but fall far short of operating in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Without question I am absolutely convinced that the increasingly depraved condition of western civilization is in direct correlation to decline of the number of members of the church that have never experienced and do not operate in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And I am even more convinced that in that lack, every day that Jesus delays in His triumphant return, Christian moral influence on our society (even Christianity itself) looses ground to the ravages of evil and worldliness. If the church today does not recognize it’s lack of, and need for the real Holy Spirit filled life in it’s individual members, I am certain that there is very little left to restrain the evil one from gaining un-bridled reign over our land. Wickedness, deceitfulness, selfishness, hate and corruption are the curse that rules our land and plagues all mankind, (Christian and Non-Christian alike.)

It is the single most important purpose of the church, to shine the light of Jesus into the world through the witness of the Holy Spirit. And how will the true followers of Christ Jesus be known??? Through the fruit of the Holy Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit the witness of the church, (however well meaning it might be) is nothing more than the wickedness of man trying to be the best it can be. A terribly flawed and week substitute for the real power of the living God flowing through God’s people, and His church. The bible reveals very clearly, the differentiator between Christians and non- Christians is not our good works, not our good intentions, not our devotion to our church, or our dedication to it’s programs, not even our proclamation of Jesus Christ as savior, … But it is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit shown through his believers to the world.

No man can judge another’s motives and actions, but God is not fooled. The measure of the success of a church is not it’s growth rate, not the volume and polish of it’s worship service, not the attendance of it’s various programs, and not even the professionalism of it’s leadership. The true measure of the success of a church is the evidence of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in the members, exhibited to it’s mission field. Brothers and sisters, let’s not be fooled by and settle for the appearance of Holiness in our church and our lives. God isn’t! Well-intentioned men and women following proven techniques and achieving a full and enjoyable church experience can easily accomplish the business of the church. Even though the result of such a venture does and will benefit those who participate in this experience,,, so it is for many secular organizations. Look inside any Rotary club, 4H, Knights of Columbus, Lions, Veterans, and endless other organizations and you will find people united in work, cause, and purpose; people respecting and befriending and caring for each other, and people genuinely enjoying time spent with each other. And there is no doubt that these organizations greatly benefit their members and the community they serve, but the true church of God has no place among these organizations.

Ben, Jared & Chris,,, All of you are at a place in your lives where you realize that there has got to be more than what you personally have today,,, and, Unfortunately! You are all living in a church period where the church body as a whole,,, has nothing more to offer you than what you already have. This is so disappointing! You know it in your spirit; there is more to the Christian walk than what you see exhibited in the church today. Anybody that reads the bible knows the evidence and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of Paul. Everything that Paul had through the Holy Spirit should be available to us to day. You desire the deeper experience of life in the Holy Spirit, but there is no place in your world where that is the normal, accepted, Christian experience! Right now, you want a genuine Spirit Filled, Holy Ghost relationship with and for Jesus, and there few examples in the church body that can set the standard for you to model yourselves after. For that matter,,, I’m sad to say that if any of you could be magically transported to a time and place where and the church was operating in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, it would be a strange, unfamiliar and uncomfortable experience for you.

The sad reality of the normal Pentecostal Christian church today is that the power of the Holy Spirit is taught, desired, and even mimicked, but the truth is, the true experience of the evidence of the Holy Spirit is rare and unfamiliar in the Western Pentecostal body.

The good news for you is that you don’t have to settle for a life that is limited by the limitations of operating under the power and strength of the human will and understanding. You already have half the battle won!!! YOU WANT MORE!
The main reason people don’t have more Holy Spirit power in their lives is because they really DON’T want more. They’re happy with things just the way they are. It’s comfortable! It’s normal! It’s expected! It’s manageable! They’re still in control! They really don’t want to throw themselves into the real river of living waters and let themselves be swept away in the flood of God’s power, in God’s direction, in God’s absolute will and control of their lives. That’s scary! God just might not want the same things for you that you want!

You don’t have to look to the person sitting next to you in the church pew and settle for the same mediocre Christian walk as them… You can, and should, and by faith expect God to respond, (Like Elisha did with Elijah) look at the most spiritual person you have ever known,,, and ask God for a double portion of His Holy Spirit and Power than that person has. ASK FOR THAT!!! GOD! I WANT TWICE AS MUCH AS THEM! IF YOU”LL DO THAT FOR ME,,, I”LL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU!

Your futures are bright and full of potential, but with the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit in your lives there is no limit to the wonders you will be part of, and no limit to the joy of knowing that you will be part of working God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven.

Easter Sunrise 2014

Another wonderful Easter sunrise on top of Mt. Wachusett!

My Sunrise service message:

Who do you say I am?

John 11:25–26, “Jesus said … ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die'”.

I’ve prepared this card with the three crosses of Calvary on it for you. I’d like for each of you to have one this morning.

Please forgive me if this Easter Sun-rise Service message sounds more like a Good Friday message than a Resurrection morning message. Believe me, I have struggled with this morning’s message for several weeks but every attempt to compose any other message than the one I will be sharing this morning just turned into a train wreck.

This simple little ideogram, so common to the Christian faith represents the fundamental question of Christ to all of mankind.

Lets look at this icon from the perspective of the scriptures.

We find the account in Luke 23:39-44
One of the criminals hanging beside Jesus scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

This morning I want to impress upon you the thought that, the three crosses on the hill of Calvary are the most important icon known to modern man:

• The question presented by this image divided all mankind into one of two camps from that moment forward, into eternity.

I love this image because of the way its simplicity asks the one true question Christ asks of every man.
— It cannot be polluted with our own interpretations. —– It denies religious dogma. ——– It rejects any hint of salvation through self-righteousness.

And more importantly! Everyone that has ever lived or ever will live will have to answer the question it asks. It won’t be denied an answer!

The scripture that supports this is found in Philippians 2: at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
(For some this proclamation will be a shout of rejoicing in a confession of faith, but for others, it will be a hopeless utterance of ultimate condemnation.)

I want to take a moment and look at what the scripture regarding the two men that died that day with Christ is telling us.

Two men hanging on crosses along side of Jesus. Both men exactly in the same situation: Rightfully convicted of their sins, & condemned to die. (In reality,,,, that is exactly where each of us have either have been, or currently are right now. Rightfully convicted of our sins, & condemned to die.)

(We have to ask ourselves,,, If God wanted us to only focus on the Sacrifice of His son on the cross for the sins of the world,,, Why then did He orchestrate this distraction of having these two sinners on the scene at that day?) Surely they’re not there to comfort Jesus! They’re there for us! Two actors on God’s Stage fulfilling one last act in their lives to teach us something of vital importance.

The Scripture tells us that, one man openly rejects Jesus; boldly scoffing and mocking the Son of God.
The other man rightly admits and publicly confesses his condition of guilt and sin. He understands the verse, “For the wages of sin is death.” And he makes no justification for his life. His heart and his spirit recognize that Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

He says no sinner’s prayer,
He makes no reparations for his sins,
He meets no condition of sanctification,
He satisfies no criteria of salvation save this:

A conviction of his condition of sin.
An acceptance of his being deserving of punishment.
A repentant heart.
A confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
And a humble request of Jesus to save his soul.

The Question that this symbol asks every man, is asked by Jesus of the disciples in Luke 9:
” One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, sent from God!” ”

“At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away,_It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!”

I want you to encourage you to slow down for just a moment and really think about this next paragraph:

Can you imagine the pain and suffering, the hopelessness and despair of being nailed to a cross? To be hanging on the cross, convicted and condemned for your sins; with the memory of your life before you as you see all the opportunities you had to make different choices than you had, to do something different than you did, to have been someone else than you were…
With death only moments away ……

And for nothing more than the final utterance of a dying man asking for mercy,,,,, Can you imagine the relief, the peace, the overwhelming Joy of total forgiveness and unconditional grace.

To hear the words of this savior, of this God, of Christ Jesus himself, saying, to YOU….
“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

If you have never experienced this truth of total forgiveness and unconditional grace for yourself; Or if through the riggers of life and time you have forgotten how wonderful it was the moment the burdens of your heart were rolled away; I want to offer you the opportunity to begin your life anew, here and now. I want to offer you a chance to begin living a different life than you’re living now, to make different choices than you are making now, to be someone other than who you are now. To start a new life living in Paradise with Jesus walking with and talking with you, every moment of every day; (As God always intended it to be.)

Who do you say Jesus is?

Forget your sins.
Set aside your pride.
There is nothing we can do to earn even one ounce of God’s grace in the gift of salvation. The work of our salvation was begun and completed that day 2000 years ago on the cross upon which our savior died.

With a repentant heart we accept that Jesus is your Son, sent to earth to live and die for us. We ask you now to wash us of all our sins and set us free to live our life with you in paradise, starting from this day forward, for all eternity.

I want to offer a challenge to each of us. At some point, by the Holy Spirit’s leading, pass on to someone the card I gave you with this simple image of the three crosses of Calvary.

*** May God Bless ***
John & Simone Chicoine

Just Walk

Just walk.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the thought of living life with a purpose. I don’t feel like I’ve done a bad job with the purpose and ministry of my life so far, but I want more. I want to look forward to waking up every morning knowing I have a purpose, (more than just sustaining my own life.). And I want to lay my head on the pillow at night feeling like my life meant something measurable to the people I touched. So, when Pastor Risto mentioned that our church would be manning a prayer tent at the Relay For Life,,, I thought, ”I can do that”. I didn’t (I never do) sign up for any specific detail. I don’t like to commit to anything I might not be able to fulfill.

All day Friday I thought about what and how to pray for people at the Relay for Life. I tried to consider what any individual might need. Late Friday afternoon I printed up ten copied of Horatio Spafford’s It is Well With My Soul : (I’ll copy it here because although many people sing this old Hymn and it’s fairly well known, it’s seldom read as a message, as a prayer.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

I sealed each copy in a plastic baggie to keep them safe from the rain and tucked them away for the night. My plan was to give all ten copies to someone.

I figured I’d join the late night crew, suspecting that if an extra body was needed, it might be then. Of course,,, a hurricane had to be passing through New England on Friday Night. I got to the field a little after 9:00 at night and started wandering around looking for the prayer tent. I noticed nobody was walking! I thought maybe there was a lightening warning or something. (Turns out everybody was attending a special ceremony.) I eventually found my way to the prayer tent next to the track and joined the small handful of people manning the 9:00 to 10:00 shift. After a short while of introductions and acquaintance pleasantries, a Bagpipe marching procession passed by the tent followed by the Relay for Life participants. We all stood by, watching the people pass by, ready to pounce on anybody that might wish to wander into the prayer tent. (This has no reflection on anybody there, but “I” kinda felt like a used car salesman on Saturday afternoon.) Fortunately for me, nobody was scheduled to man the tent between 10PM Friday night and 9AM Saturday.

As the last person in the procession passed by the tent, I grabbed my bottle of water and stepped in behind the crowd. I started to walk. As the crowd stretched out over the 1/4mile track I began to get swept up into the process of walking. Silently I began to pray and I was content just to walk. It felt good, just to support those people in unity and solidarity, people that were there for a reason. Maybe it was because they were personally connected to the disease through their own affliction, or the affliction of a loved one or friend. They belonged there. I didn’t. But I wanted to belong. I could at least support them in their cause. After a lap or two I settled into my pace.

After a while I noticed that my pace began to match a couple of middle aged women that were walking alongside of me, so after a moment or two I said hello. “How you doing on this fine night for ducks?” After a few short exchanges related to the weather and the rain, I asked, “How long are you walking for?” again more pleasant banter, and the details of this years and past year’s commitments (All the while keeping pace with the walking.) Eventually I asked, “Are you walking for anyone in particular?” By this time I probably had walked in sync with them for at least a lap or more. When asked why I was walking I had very little to offer except that I was responding to an offer by my Pastor to come out pray with and for the people walking in this Relay For Life. I just wanted to support the people that were making this effort with a little company, conversation and prayer. I wanted to walk with them.

Inevitably every person I spent time with that evening had a story they wanted to share. I walked, I listened, and in the silent moments, I prayed silently. ONCE AGAIN, WHAT A FOOL I WAS. To think I was going there to bless them! In their own unique way, every one of them showed the character and strength of the army of God. The first lady I walked with was walking for her 27 year old daughter who had been struggling with cancer for several years. Her daughter is doing very well right now, and as it turns out,,, she is joining Cornerstone Church on their Mission trip to Hattie this summer. Small World.

Over the course of Friday night and Saturday I walked with several of the cancer survivors. (wearing a Survivors tee shirt.) People that were walking for themselves, and for their friends, the people they met along the process of their treatments that were either still in the trenches of the fight and those they knew that didn’t make it. One remarkable 75 year old lady from Athol that was grateful for chance to walk this year. It was her first time participating in the opening Survivors ceremony,,, after surviving her third cancer struggle over the last 15 years, the last of which was just last year. Time and time again walkers were happy to share their time, their stories and their faith with me. She challenged me to come out and watch her walk the survivors walk next year. She challenged me to much more than that.

At one point I joined up with an elderly gentlemen that was walking with a pronounced and obviously painful limp as he was clearly struggling to take every step. I reached out to help him along the way and opened my introduction with. “It looks like the miles are beginning to take their toll on you.” He looked at me and replied. “I Just started! I’m walking for my son that passed away from cancer 7 years ago. He was 37 years old. My wife and I used to walk every year for the last 7 years. She passed away last year and I promised her I’d walk for our son this year. It’s gona hurt for a week or so, but I figure I have at least 4 laps in me.” I don’t think it ever occurred to him that he wasn’t going to do it. After our first lap together he dismissed himself and headed for a bench on the side of the track. Over the next hour or so I’d see him along the way or taking a break on the bench at each completion of another lap.

Just a few tents down from the prayer tent there was a tent labeled, “Fueled by Faith”. On Friday night when I was looking for the Prayer tent, I thought their tent might be the one I was looking for. On Friday night I walked a few laps with a man about my age wearing a Fueled by Faith tee shirt. He told me that he had been doing this since the first Relay for Life 20 years ago. His extended family does this event as an annual family re-union. They rent a large canvas tent and brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews all get together to raise money and walk for the cause. 20 years ago their aunt (long since passed away) was diagnosed with cancer so the family did the only thing they knew they could do for her; They walked. Since then several other members of the family has struggled through their own battles of the disease. Some won, some not. I caught up with him again on Saturday. The last time I saw him he was on mile eleven of his intended fifteen.

Just before the rain began to soak us down on Friday night I walked with a lady that brought her smart phone along to walk and shop. She was surfing the net and playing games as she walked her miles. (A definite 30 something.) In an effort to raise as much money as she could, she committed to her donors that she would walk for a dollar a mile and that she was going to walk as much as she could over the entire 24 hours. She was walking alone for her 59 year old cousin, just up the street at Heywood Hospital; coping with very aggressive chemo treatments attempting to halt the progression of stage-4 cancer. The chemo was working well to attack the cancer, but the doctors were going to have to back off on the treatments because the intensive level of chemo was killing him. She was walking for the long-hall having started at the opening ceremony and intending to walk as many miles a she could possibly take through to the closing bell. At one point she mentioned she was hoping to walk 18 miles.

I walked with several men (each walking alone.) in their late seventies who had lost their wives to cancer. One lost his wife last fall and the other just two months ago. Again, both of these men walked with their wives in the Relay of Life throughout the years. This was their first year walking alone. It seems a common theme for the elderly men who I met that were walking. Walking through life Alone. The man that had lost his wife last fall had come down from Canada a lifetime ago to work in the furniture boom of Gardner Mass. They adopted two sons and made their home in town. Now, with both sons living far away, and all his extended family in Canada, he spends a lot of time alone. The one that had just lost his wife, talked about being alone a lot. For 51 years he always had his wife to talk to, and goes to her grave every day to continue the conversation. He was still really busy processing all the paperwork and trying to adjust his finances to just one Social Security check. His wife’s passing from brain cancer was difficult for both of them, and although he had a good relationship with his neighbors, he seemed grateful to just have someone to walk and talk to for a while. I intentionally stayed with him for 4 laps but by the end of the 4’th lap I was feeling really sore. (I’d been walking for three hours without a break.) I have no idea how many times I walked the loop. Both men came to this event to this event alone, they walked alone, and all they really wanted was not to be alone.

One couple I walked with on Friday night, Rick and Joy, two friends walking in the rain in memory of Risk’s wife. Rick had recently lost his wife to cancer within the last six months. If I had to guess, Rick was very close to my age. His wife was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer that took her life in just 4 months time. At one point when his wife was first diagnosed they discussed walking at the Relay for Life together, but they had no idea she would pass so fast. I made the mistake of expressing sympathy that his wife could not be there to share this effort with them, without hesitation Rick corrected me that his wife was absolutely there with them sharing every moment of this experience. Rick shared with me a lot about how he processed through his wife’s passing, and his emotional struggles since her passing. When I handed Joy and Rick the copy of, “It is well with my Soul” I took a moment to share Horatio Spafford’s story about writing this Hymn.. He glanced through the first stanza of the song and looked at me and said, I think Sweet Adeline used to sing this song, she loved to sing and play piano.

I never did hand out all ten copies of Horatio Spaford’s Hymn, but I believe the ones I did hand out are in the hands that God wanted them in.

I guess in the strict definition of Pentecostal prayer, I failed the traditional model.

I gave up my agenda and got into theirs.

Royal Ranger, Grasping at Straws…

I am not ashamed of how I feel.

Future of Royal Rangers, (Actually,,, the current Royal Rangers.)

Here I go again on one of my rants about the changes in the Royal Ranger program.

Every time I learn about the latest plans of Royal Rangers lowering the bar in the name of keeping up with the times and competing with the enticements of the world on today’s kids, my stomach turns with disgust. And what’s worse!!! I seem to be learning new things at every Wednesday night meeting. It’s like we can’t dumb this program down fast enough to stop the bleeding of boys migrating away from this Royal Rangers, so we’re desperately throwing the baby out with the bath water. The problem isn’t the boys!!! It’s the men!

We tell everybody, (And ourselves) we stopped challenging the boys to high adventure scouting because; “It’s just not what the boys are into anymore”. Bull-sh@#! The truth is we stopped challenging the boys to high adventure scouting because the men in the program just don’t have the interest, the time, gear, and the skills to deliver it to the boys on a regular schedule at the outpost level! We abandoned real scouting! In the name of “Spiritual Mentoring”, (As if you can’t accomplish both through developing a person’s character in a scouting based program!) High Adventure used to mean things like, spelunking, multi-day backpacking trips, 100 mile bike rides, White-water adventures, and other activities that required real knowledge, and challenged a group of people to work together to reach their outer limits. Something that stood out from the normal, that a boy / man, could feel real pride of accomplishment in knowing only a few good men could do what they did. I’m talking about real pride for real accomplishment. Not all this empty accolade for half baked efforts, and sub-par results.

(I can’t wait to listen to this next generation of Royal Rangers 15 years from now; Reminiscing on Facebook, “Remember how we used to spend all those weekends sleeping the basement of the church, learning how get in touch with our feelings and playing “I’m OK, You’re OK” games? That was really cool!!!!” ) Wanna see a picture of my Gold medal???

We stopped challenging the boys to step up their game and deliver a real effort, on their own time, in the form of home-work, with their parents involvement, because the men in the program just don’t have the interest, the time, the knowledge, and the skills to motivate the boys on a regular schedule at the individual level! Now,,,, we’re happy if we can get the boys to write down the answers to the questions WE WRITE OUT ON THE WHITE BOARD FOR THEM! It’s like it’s our hardest part of our nightly activity just to manage to break through that glazed over “I’m bored” dumb, emotionless, stare, because we don’t present our program feature on a 2” X 4” screen. God Forbid we ask the boys to actually bring anything to the table, (other than their cell phones!) Once again!!!! The problem is US! Like it’s some big deal for a Royal Ranger Commanders just to show up and do something!!! We can’t really expect Royal Ranger Commanders to invest a couple of hours before each Wednesday night meeting preparing something really challenging, and engaging for the boys to participate in! REMEMBER when we ran the canoe merit at the camp several years ago! Huge effort, Huge commitment on the part of three commanders…. Did we have any complaints from the boys that “We’re Bored!!!” Did we have kids dropping out then! I have a novel idea!!! If a boy is too dam lazy, or can’t be bothered to invest some kind of effort into any real scouting types of activities, into any real character building challenges,,, MAYBE HE’S NOT GMA MATERIAL!

I get sick when I keep hearing commanders extolling the virtues of a Royal Ranger Program that hands out Gold Medal of Achievements like Happy Meal prizes, and boasts (as the Great New Vision) how a boy can earn his GMA and never leave the classroom. THAT”S NOT SCOUTTING, (But that’s not what we are, We’re not a scouting organization! Are we?); And that’s not how we’re going to raise up a new generation of real leaders! That’s how we’re going to raise up another generation of men that can’t be asked to invest anything of their time, talent (that they never developed), and money to the next generation, because they’ve never experienced it for themselves. How the helllll can we ever expect these young boys to take a Godley position in their own families?
( Here’s a telling statistic,,, In 2013, 73% of all graduates of higher education were women! God knows there is no other voice in our Pentecostal world that shouts louder “You Go Girl!” than mine… But! What’s happening to the men in our 2013 world??? That statistic is a direct reflection of the dumbing down of our society’s men and lowering of expectation of our young boys. AND ROYAL RANGERS IS PLAYING DIRECTLY INTO THAT MENTALITY! ) Girls aren’t just easily excelling! They are simply stepping into the void left behind by week boys, failing to rise up and fulfill God’s calling and place in this world for them. And we won’t even tell them about their roll, let alone require it of them.

In the company of most commanders, I’m beginning to feel as though I have to hide the fact that I am now or ever was a Scouting focused, Royal Ranger Commander that used the fundamental principles and scouting activities to weave into a person’s character such arcane concepts of Self Respect, (In light of God’s value on one’s life.) Self Confidence, (in light of accomplishing God’s plan for one’s life.) and Self Awareness (in light of Gods living Holy Spirit working out His plan for this world through us.) Scouting has become a dirty word, and real scouting skills and experiences, pornography. God help us all when we manage to extinguish the spirit of Johnny Barns, for the spirit of Angry Birds.

I like the material in Leadership merits! It’s great stuff and it has its place, (As a complete merit, or integrated into each of the other merits.) But none of that material “requires” Royal Rangers to gut the scouting aspect of the program, and none of that material “requires” dumbing down the program to the lowest intellectual level of the average inner-city boy; And the laziest academic level of any boy that might attend. If a boy has special needs or has real difficulty completing the academic riggers of the GMA, then by all means,,, “exceptions” should be made. But designing the entire program so that any/every 12 year old boy can complete a GMA, takes the “Achievement” part of the award out of it. I can’t accept that any but the most exceptional, spiritually mature 12 year old boy earning the GMA will even know what the acronym stands for; Let alone even be mature enough to comprehend the mental, physical and spiritual intent of what the GMA used to, and should continue to represent.

The one good thing the new program required was the Capstone project. A spiritually and mentally challenging 8 week Christian maturity focused journey that put the spiritual and Christian habits and even the best Royal Ranger Commander’s to shame. The intensity of the 8 week Capstone program required the participants to literally refocus their lives from the ground up for 8 weeks. The Capstone project was not humanly possible to complete. It required Super Human effort, It REQUIRED the Holy Spirit. And that was it’s death nail. It required something hard, from its mentors, and from the boys. Boys and Girls all over the world are using the Fire Bible Capstone Project 8 week program to ignite a real spiritual awakening. But not Royal Rangers; They backed away from, and scuttled the program completely before day one! I know why! It was too much to “require” it was too much to expect, it was too much to ask,,, from the commanders to properly mentor the boys for 8 weeks.

Now we’re “re-vamping PowWow. Well it’s about time. PowWow has been losing ground and interest for ten+ years. Ever since we’ve stopped expecting the supernatural manifestations of the Living God to move over the crowd and take control. No wonder the commanders have been complaining about the weekend being nothing more than running from disappointing event after disappointing event. Waiting in line for 45 minutes at the archery event for one completely frazzled commander to have the boys shoot $5 toy bows with broken arrows at plywood targets. Or maybe the event where we have the boys run a stick from one end of the field to another… Real top notch events to inspire and challenge the boys. It’s ten years and more since we’ve needed to change PowWow, But of course what else can we expect… Instead of asking commanders to step up to the challenge and upgrade the events to activities like real Seneca runs, Ropes courses, real guns on the gun range, or real bows in the archery course; Were turning PowWow into a rip roaring “Play Date”. Just another custom made event for fat old commanders huddled around each other, bloviating about all the high adventure activities they used to have when they were 14 years old in Boy Scouts 50 years ago..
Needless to say,,, I have no idea how much longer I can force myself to stomach this castration of the program, in the name of whatever it is we are trying to accomplish. Once these 4 GMA boys fade away from the program, I’m just not sure I’m much of a good fit for the New Royal Rangers. I don’t even have the “Gold Medal requirements” to use as leverage to develop a mentoring relationship with a small handful of boys with their eyes on real Gold. At some point I can see myself just gravitating to people, young or old, male or female of like mind and spirit that value the same values of Excellence, Holiness and caring for God’s gift of Life and all that sustains it.

Pink Hair

John Chicoine published a note.

I overheard a conversation between two people discussing a young girl that had colored her hair bright pink.  This girl with the bright pink hair was working at the mall as a cashier and when asked by a patron “Why” she colored her hair bright pink, she quickly replied, “I did it so you would remember me”.  She then followed her response with, “when you go home tonight, you probably won’t remember anybody else you saw here today, but you’ll remember me! I color my hair like this because I’m not one of these cookie cutter girls that just came off the assembly line just like all the rest of the other girls.”


At first, you might think, “That’s pretty cool! This kid’s really got it going on.” But let’s examine this event just a little bit closer, in light of this thought:          It’s not important that someone remembers you. What’s really important is what someone remembers you for.


Standing out from the crowd, being different, being ones own self, and all of these similarly admirable ideals are unquestionably worthy goals. But! Unfortunately, so many boys and girls these days are under the ridiculous belief that such superficial attempts to be a unique and valuable individual as the color of ones hair, the cut of ones clothes, the group of friends they associate with, the movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the number of Facebook friends they have, is of real consequence!


Never would they consider such old fashioned values like hard work, exemplary character, Godly living, civility, humility, self confidence, and distinguishing themselves by dedicating themselves to a worthy cause, or excelling an any particular discipline, as a means of separating themselves from the herd.


Maybe if that pink haired girl had tried to distinguish herself by being an extraordinarily pleasant, or helpful, or efficient, or competent cashier. Maybe if she was a little more concerned about representing the store in a positive light and reflecting the store-owner’s values a little more. Maybe if she spent a bit more time making sure her employer was more profitable, or had more repeat customers because they had such a positive shopping experience because of this girls effort! Maybe then, our society might not have to settle for and be so impressed by her superficial, meaningless, self-centered attempt to be remembered.



Trail Gibberish

This is the beginning of an E-book that I am working on. It is unedited, unorganized, and very rough in its current form. I figure if I have made this much of a commitment, it may help motivate me to continue with the effort.


Trail Gibberish


The Call Of The Wild
Trail Nourishment
Keeping Hydrated
Hiking Poles
Essential gear:
Sleeping Pads


From time to time I get E-mail from people asking questions about hiking. Now I’m the last person on earth in any position to give any advice about hiking from a qualified standing. But my family and I have spent some time out on the trails and we do have some experience with multi-day family hiking. I’ve heard it said, “A man with an experience, is never at the mercy of a man with a theory”; and so, what follows is simply the knowledge that I have acquired through my family’s very real experiences. Please understand that this knowledge may evolve as I gain more experience but for now, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.
______[Back to the index]

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir


The Call Of The Wild:

I guess a good place to start, is to speak to the question of “Why Hike?” or more importantly, “Why Hike the High Peaks”. Obviously there is no one answer that covers this topic for everyone. For that matter there isn’t even one answer to this question for any one person, for any length of time or for all hikes. Why, go through the physical, mental, emotional and financial ordeal that hiking the New Hampshire White Mountains 4000 footers involves? For the Chicoine family, hiking the 4K’s is quite an ordeal. We live 3 hours away from the closest official 4000 footer. We have to leave our house by 6AM, just to get to the trailhead by 9’ish. Then regardless of the duration or difficulty of the hike, we still have another 3 hour drive to get back home. Before we started peak bagging we were content flatlanders. Gabriel, our youngest was enjoying scouting, and the occasional local hikes around southern New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. One day in church a close friend and fellow Royal Ranger leader leaned over to Gabe and mentioned, “If you and your family liked hiking Mt. Monadnock, I know a trail up Mt. Washington you’ll love”.

We had never hiked any of the White Mountains before. It took our family 20 years (3 kids, 6 years apart, youngest was now 9,,, you do the math). to get matched up age wise to begin attempting serious hikes. Simone and I never hiked our very first 4K, (Mt. Washington), until we were in our mid 40’s. I was old. (And I haven’t gotten any younger since.) I was way out of shape. (And I haven’t gotten in much better shape since.) About this being out of shape thing; I was never a couch potato, I considered myself in relatively good shape, until I bagged my first 4K. I was fat! (not phat!) (And I haven’t gotten any fatter since.) (But I have gotten Phatter since!) I’m somewhat afraid of heights, mostly afraid of standing on the edge high cliffs. I worry for several days before the more challenging, or overnight hikes. I worry about everything that could go wrong. (Lots of things could go wrong, but we’ve never had any of them happen.) Maybe that’s because I worried about them. I worry about every ach and pain I feel, as I’m lying in bed at night unable to sleep while my mind goes over every detail of the trip. Sometimes I even begin to go through symptoms of panic and depression. Does this sound like I’m having fun yet?

(1.) My easiest and quickest answer is simply: because Simone is there. Simone loves it. If she were not there, neither would I be. Oh, Simone and I would probably do lots of flatland day hikes here in the southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts region, but that is far from the same thing as backpacking/peak-bagging the 4k’s in the Whites. There are hundreds of miles of trails (Outside of the Whites), to hike all across New England, many of them starting within 20 minutes of my front door step. But! Once you get vertical fever there just aren’t many good remedies other than a really good does high summit. Unfortunately,,, the cure just doesn’t last that long before you get the need to get high again. All it took was one trip up Mt. Washington, with a follow up hike to Mt. Moosilauke to get Simone what you might call, level 3 addicted. The only 12 step program that works for her are the 12 steps from the car to the trailhead. Now I’m not saying the rest of us don’t love this need to get vertical, but Simone gets down right cranky if we don’t get up there often enough.

This high peak fever is dam hard work for and old guy carrying an extra 35 lbs. (and I’m not referring to my backpack either)! There have been times, usually at the hardest part of the trip, when my heart is pounding, my temples throbbing, my lungs burning, and my legs almost at the point of collapsing; I look up the trail at Simone and think to myself,,, If I could just catch up to her, I’d push her off this dam mountain and I could go home. Can’t she see that I’m going to die right here on this very spot! My body is going to explode in one last powerful heartbeat! But NO! She keeps on climbing, just out of reach. Often, that’s the time when Gabe will hang back with me and share in my misery. He and I look at each other and he encourages me with the glance that expresses the shared, unspoken thought, “Why in the Name of God, are we doing this again?” I can see the expression in his eyes as he shakes his head looking at me,,, “look at you, you look like your going to die!”, as he breaths out the question, “You going to make it?” Half hoping I say, “No, I can’t do it, lets turn around and leave her here”. But I never do. I dig my poles into the side of the mountain as if to try and kill it before it kills me. Pulling and dragging myself up the side of the slope with every ounce of strength, gasping for air like a fish tossed on the hot sandy beach. The sun burning through my thinning hair, (or sometimes rain and cold wind chilling me to the bone.). Sweat flowing down my brow soaking my entire body, sloshing in my boots. All to reach another little wooden sign nailed to a post with the name of a mountain routed into it. Or even worse, to find a sign that tells me that I haven reached the summit yet and I still have several 10’ths of a mile to go! I die a thousand deaths.

Flash forward into the car just a few hours after this scene: There we sit in such a stench of stinky feet and sweat soaked poly-propylene. (One time we stunk so bad that when I rolled down the driver side window to place our order at the Mc’Donalds drive up, the woman at the window closed her window and completed taking our order over the speaker.) Any way,,, almost every time; The minute everybody has settled into their seat, even before I have a chance to start the car,,, this is exactly when and you can hear the words of absolute insanity as we all proclaim, “What a great hike!” —- Now I’m not sure I’ve given you as much of answer of “Why Hike the high peaks” as I have given you reasons not to!

Now this answer only begs to have the next obvious question answered, Why does Simone love it? I’ll have to get to that later. (You see I only work on this at night and Simone is usually too interested in sleeping to contribute her thoughts to this foolish gibberish.)

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
Henry David Thoreau

2. Now for a more complicated reason why I hike or for that matter why I seem to do almost everything outdoors that my tired old body can endure. Hiking is one of the best activities I can do that puts me in direct extended contact with the result of the creativity of the hand of God. Imagine that! God Himself put all this here for us (me) to enjoy. It speaks to my soul about the love of God for all of mankind. Nature, especially the unspoiled nature found only in those special spots that most people never see, reveals the character of God’s infinite creative drive; that same drive that created man from the mud of the earth. It teaches me about His magnificent Holy Spirit more than any sermon could ever do. When I’m hiking I have time to focus on Him and His handy work and it puts my spirit at home in the garden (or as close to the garden as we can ever get here on earth.). On the trail I have time to erase the inner-office life that is my alter-life (the necessity of the curse). I have time to purge my mind and really think on what is good, what is important. I have nothing but time to think, to talk, to look and to dream. People these days are filled with separating themselves from anything God has touched with His own hands. Every creature comfort that is now becoming a minimum way of existence is designed to isolate our selves from the very Nature that God has created and pronounced as good. We workout in gyms; never feeling the earth beneath our feet. We drive in cars designed to suppress any/every possible discomfort of the physical world. We breath conditioned air, we drink carbonated, chlorinated, fluoridated, bottled water. We live under man-made light, we don’t ever let the rain touch our bodies; we moderate and regulate the temperatures we live in to within a 20-degree comfort zone. And with every generation it’s getting worse! We crave continuous man-made stimulation for our eyes and ears. Kids today are afraid to go out into the woods and explore what’s out there. Most kids have never slept on the ground, fished a stream, swam in a lake, or stood on a mountaintop. They can’t understand spending time, even a few hours disconnected from their headphones, their video, cell phones, and Internet.

When I hike, I see God’s Glory; The animals, the birds, the vegetation, the landscape, the mountains and the rivers. I have time to experience my own feelings and emotions, and I have a chance to test my abilities and face my weaknesses. The natural world doesn’t lie; if you’re not ready, if you haven’t prepared, if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you make foolish mistakes, you will face the consequences. You can’t adjust the difficulty level on Mt. Moosilaukee’s treadmill. You can’t turn up the thermostat on Mt. Lafayette’s air conditioner. You can’t turn off the faucet on the Pemigewasset. You don’t spit into the wind, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with Jim. (Sing along!!!)

(3.) Another of the great reasons for hiking is the social aspect of the hike. First and foremost, I hike for the wellbeing of my physical and emotional health, and the healthy relationship it fosters within my immediate family. I can think of few other activities that create the type of bonds in our relationships that hiking has done for the members of my family and friends. We’ve shared hours, hundreds of hours of conversation, allowing any topic to play itself out, and to evolve endlessly. It gives you opportunities for free flowing thought, a chance to pursue and develop thoughts and feelings that you may never have formulated without those specific people you share that time with. Sometimes, the discussions are directionless, and purposeless, just hap hazard chatter of old friends thinking out loud. And other times, it’s not. Purposeless.

Hikes (especially multi day excursions) are always a time of sharing common goals, of helping each other through the common struggles, of encouraging each other to go on and work together as a group. The hike environment has the ability to teach strangers to connect with and care for and about one another. It would be a better world if more people hiked with small groups of family, friends and strangers more often. Even if every individual is focused on their own inner thoughts, and the people my wife and I are hiking with don’t have any common bonds and experiences, it’s through the process of the hike, we all share, a common goal, a common accomplishment, and a common experience. We become “The fellowship of the hike”; a stew of age, backgrounds, gender, experience and ability. Each fellowship, takes on a flavor of it’s own and regardless of how hard one might try to re-experience the character of a previous fellowship, it never happens. It becomes something special and memorable when we open up ourselves to learn to feel and share each other’s trail emotions. It seems that in our busy lives, even within the closeness of a healthy loving home we have so many distractions, so many amusements and so little time and reason to connect with each other. I have felt unity, fellowship, equality, companionship, compassion, and love within the fellowship of the hike. I have had clarity of purpose, and value, and family. I have had my spirit renewed and refreshed when I felt like I couldn’t take another moment of what the world does to me when I am off the trail.

Relationships with our friends. We have had the pleasure of sharing so many great experiences with good friends on the trail. There is something about sharing a separating experience of extended days or even hikes of just a few hours with a friend that builds a special kind relationship with that person. There are moments that we have shared with our trail friends that I/we will remember always and having shared those moments with them is most of what makes those moments special. The dynamic of the group that exists in this type of natural experience is like no other; it’s much like an extended family. A can’t remember a hike when if one of our many hiking friends wasn’t there to share a special moment with us, that we didn’t sorely miss them, and verbally pronounce how we wished they were there. When you spend extended periods of time with someone, sharing goals, interests, struggles and the simple joys found on the trail, you strip away the pretences and politics of people in our daily High-Tech existence.

As a Royal Ranger (Scout) commander, I spend countless hours with the boys in my group at our regular weeknight meetings. It’s my intent that I will foster friendships and personal relationships with as many of the boys as will let me into their lives close enough to make a lasting connection; but I can say from years of experience, It’s the boys I have the opportunity to spend time on the trail with, that my relationship with grows beyond, “Commander to scout” into a true personal friendship.

On the trail the strengths and weaknesses of each of the members of the group all become part of that group’s character. The dynamics of large groups is totally different than that of small groups. I can’t remember a hike that even if we were glad to be off the trail, we didn’t have some sadness that the experience was over.

Hikers. Every hiker out there has their own agenda but I know they as well as I share an unspoken commitment to help the other out in time of need. In no other place can I walk past a stranger and know that they could and would, set aside their own agenda to help a fellow hiker in need. Almost every hiker we’ve passed on the trail passes with a comradery, respect and fellowship. Our experience has shown us that by-in-large, most people we’ve shared a hut or a camp site have been friendly and respectful towards us; and if per chance you meet that person again on the trail, it’s much like a family reunion, even if you can hardly remember their name.
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Trail Nourishment: (Real people, Real food)


Make no mistake about it; thoughts of FOOD somehow begin to consume even the purest hiker. And even though we never deprive ourselves of adequate food on our hikes, (And we are only talking about several days of being on the trail), food always becomes a primary concern. We talk about what we plan to eat on the way home. We talk about our favorite foods. We talk about the best food we ever had! Even on a day hike food always has it’s time in the conversations. Maybe because we are burning off so many calories we feel justified at rewarding ourselves excessively with it. Or maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder. What ever it is, food is the hikers fantasy that drives him back to civilization.

I can remember on one hike at about the middle of the second day. We had been hiking for 5 hours above tree line on Mt Adams; When in the midst of conversations of unbelievable beauty, 90-mile vistas, standing below a powerful cloud-covered ceiling that we could almost reach up and touch. From out of my sub-conscience came the words, (in full conversational voice, as though I was being spiritually driven to utter these words), “Real people, real food”. It was so unconnected to anything that we were talking about. It was like I was possessed! If you’ve ever stopped in Tilton NH. off RT93 on the way to the Whites, you’ll recognize this phrase. It’s painted on the side of a 50’s style diner, located right at the off ramp. I’ve never eaten there, but some of my hiking buddies don’t miss the opportunity to do so. I was speaking out a fantasy of roadside diner Roast Beef with mashed potatoes and gravy with peas and an ice-cold glass of Coke.

On day hikes lasting 6hrs. Or more the food is primarily there to provide an emotional break from the endless miles. I wish I could say otherwise but after the peak is bagged, the goal has been reached and the second half of the hike well underway; sometimes it does get monotonous. We tend to pack food that provides some entertainment value to help with the long stretch back to the car. After all, we want to look forward to the next hike. We pack lots of chocolate, cheese, trail mix and dried fruits. (Watch the dried apples though, they give you wicked gas). Variety is a key here. I don’t think I’m ever going to eat another bagel on the trail.

On our overnighters we pack tight, & light. I use a 2.5 quart aluminum camp pot. The fry pan portion (has the handle) off one of those $3.00 aluminum mess kits fits perfectly as the lid. Inside the pot I can fit my stove, (Primus Light with Piezo Ignitor) 6 packets of instant oatmeal, 6 tea bags with sugar, 2 packages of Ramen Noodles, (crushed and in a Ziploc bag, without the flavor packages) and 2 packages of Knorr Vegetable soup. (Breakfast and supper for 3, for 2 days.) I tie the lid and pot together with a bit of synch strap, so small rodents can’t get into it. We’ll bring the usual assortment of day hike snacks and if I think the second day might go long, I pack a couple of Pop-Tarts each. We bring hard bread and PB&J for sandwiches for lunch. We’ve never done any extended hikes longer than a week, but Knorr makes a variety of instant soups; so if we spend a week on the trail, I do the same arrangement with the Ramen noodles and use a variety of the soups for the base; I dry corn, peas, carots and meat; and add these (app a 1/4 of a cup each) to the pot. I spice up the dried meat so we can eat it like jerky if we want and it adds lots of flavor to our stew. I almost always pack a clove or two of garlic with each meal, (I always cook with it at home, so I like it on the trail too.) Besides, Garlic could double as an antibiotic if needed. We carry a few plastic spoons for the soup, & we eat our oatmeal out of the bag, cooked and uncooked and we eat and drink our tea, out of paper coffee cups or out of a single plastic coffee cup; We never bother with bowls or plates. One very cool diversion from typical trail food is these new Tuna in a package (mayo and all, no refrigeration needed) and flat bread. It’s a bit heavy but we tend to eat this within the first two days. One last note on the Primus gas stove; it doesn’t work under 30 degrees. I think I’ve got to invest in another stove.
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Keeping Hydrated (Water, water everywhere, and nothing to drink.)


Keeping hydrated is the single most important activity, (next to walking) which a hiker has to continue to do. There are no exceptions! To that end, a hiker must either pack in all the fluid he expects to require over the course of the hike, or they must filter/treat the water as they go. Here is where the most studious trip planning must be done. Knowing the location of reliable water is critical. If you don’t plan correctly, you will suffer the consequences. A fellow hiker of mine once related an experience where he helped carry another hiker out of the woods due to dehydration. The hiker had been on limited water rations for only a day or more, and unknowingly slipped past the point of rectifying his dehydration problem in the field. Every attempt to drink was met with an even stronger reaction of throwing up. He was weak, he was delirious, he was very close to passing away, and his body needed fluid from an IV.

Here’s an example of one of our trips. We were spending two days on the trail. According to all my research, we would have reliable water for the first 3 hours on the first day, (until 12:00). We would not be again be passing any reliable water until the later part of the second day, (app 2:00PM). For the first 3 hours of hiking we only packed what we could drink during that three hours. When we reached the point of the last reliable water, we drank our fill, and filled all the bottles; 8 liters for 3 of us, for the next 26 hours. I wanted 1 liter each to finish out the next 3 or 4 hours it would take us to get to our camp site. I needed 1 liter for the soup we were having for supper, I needed I liter for tea and oatmeal for the next day’s breakfast, and only 3 more liters to finish out 5 more hours of hiking to get to my next source of water. Gabe carried 2 liters, Simone carried 2 liters, and I carried 4 liters. We started drinking out of my water supply first. That was a lot of water, but as you can see we were on limited water rations between 9:00 AM. and 2:00PM on the second day. The day was cool and rainy, had it been hot and humid, we would have been short on water.

A hiker’s tip, “Drink your fill, fill your stash and head for the next reliable water.”

We used to just drink water, or some of the lightly carbonated flavored drinks to spice up the day. These days we have all come to the conclusion that the Sport drinks (Gatorade, or Power-aid, I’m sure others are as good or better) help our stamina measurably. Now, the only time we’re drinking plain water is if we’re drinking out of our SafeWater filter. If I have to bother to fill bottles, we’ll mix up some sport drink.

Here’s an interesting approach, although I don’t think I plan to do this. We have a hiking friend that is a long distance runner and over the years has trained himself to force down an entire liter of fluid in one sitting before he begins a run or a hike. In order to avoid frequent stops for hydration on a long hike, he’ll perform this ritual at regular intervals as he feels he needs more hydration.

Symptoms of poor hydration: Headaches, Bonking, an inability to regulate your body temperature, muscle cramps, and no sweat. Anything past Headaches and Bonking could get you in real trouble.
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Backpacks. (Get this monkey off my back!)


Everybody wants to know, what backpack is the best? Internals? Externals? I still hike with a Kelty Tioga (the old industry standard external frame pack), but I can’t tell you how many times people stop and comment about why I’m backpacking with an external frame pack. One time out, just below the base of Owls Head, an elderly gent, late 60’ish stopped and pointed and stared in awe, then reported “I ain’t seen one of those out here in years”. Come to think of it, neither have I. So I guess popular opinion would have it that Internal Frame packs are the only way to go today. Never having loaded one with 40Lbs and spent a few days with one on my back I would be hard pressed to confirm or deny. But I will say this; I don’t put an external frame pack on my wife of or my Son. For them we have MountainSmith and Jack Wolf Skin. The Jack Wolf Skin Trailhead II is in my opinion “The best pack money (under $200.00) can buy.” Unfortunately the company was purchased by a big conglomerate and they no longer make backpacks. “Big conglomerates suck.” Political commentaries aside; back to the packs. Fit and function is what it’s all about, (In that order!).

Does it fit? Fitting a backpack (either external or internal frames), is one of the most important exercises a person planning to have one of these on his back for any amount of time. Unfortunately most people are too modest to “bother the poor salesman” for up to an hour adjusting and readjusting, varying the weight, even switching hip belts on some models that have completely customizable packs, only to admit that you’re just trying it out in your long quest to try as many packs as fall into your function definition. Unless you are already a pack expert, (you shouldn’t be bothering to read this) you really should have someone that knows the pack you are looking at so it can be properly adjusted. The fitting process should start with measuring your torso length, (from the bump on the base of your lower neck to your hip). Every pack manufacturer lists its span of torso sizes the pack can be adjusted for. (Some of the less expensive packs have no ability to adjust for different torso lengths.) Any good pack should have several adjustments, load bearing adjustments on the shoulder straps and on the hip belts, plus they should have synch straps that let you compress the load within the pack to keep things from shifting as you walk. Some internal frame packs are very sparse, with no access to the your gear other than through the top and no pouches to carry often used items such as water bottles. This gives the pack a very narrow profile on the trail (Easier to crawl over or under blow downs, and for bush whacking). Most External packs are loaded with compartments in which you can sort items to your hearts content but these packs are somewhat wider and more cumbersome on the trail. (Mine tends to reach out and grab onto limbs that I didn’t even notice were there). Internal packs tend to lie flat against your back helping with the hikers stability giving you the feeling that the pack is part of you. External packs are designed to lift the pack off your back, allowing some airflow between you and the pack but this feature tends to make the pack shift from side to side as the hiker moves. I can’t imagine that a hiker can ever become one with an external frame pack. Internal packs for the most part are designed to keep most of your gear inside the main tube. External packs encourage you to strap things onto the frame like the family station wagon on vacation. Whichever pack you settle on you will have to live with it’s idiosyncrasies, as it breaks you in. You will likely be loosening and tightening your straps, belts and shoulder pads giving various parts of your body a rest as you walk through the day. Unfortunately the backpack will be the heaviest single item on your back. My Tioga (even after I’ve trimmed everything I can off of it), still weighs over 6lbs. I HATE THIS!!! I limit my total pack weight to 40 – 43lbs. and my pack makes up almost 1/7’th of the total weight! I HATE THIS!!! Which backpack is the best? I’m still waiting for one that caries the load for me. But until then, I’d go with whichever pack fits you well when it’s loaded with your tipical load.
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Hiking Poles. (They’re not just for going down any more.)


We never hike without them. Going up, it’s like having 4-wheel drive and I’m not embarrassed to say so. I’m not sure I’d have what it takes to drag this long-haired, over-fed, sleeping gnome up to the top, if I didn’t use my arms to help my legs get me there. What goes up, must come down. (There’s food down there!) and my knees just wouldn’t be the same without my poles. We really prefer the old bamboo cross-country ski poles but they tend to burn out after a hundred miles and we just can’t seem to find them at the yard sales that often any more. We’ve gone high tech lately and purchased EMS (Gabel) adjustable poles. Much-ado about nothing. We seldom bother to adjust the length of the poles on the trail. I don’t feel as safe with these as with the bamboo and 2 pair cost as much as 10 pair of yard sale bamboo ski poles. To be fair to the bamboo poles, the new aluminum poles just might burn out after a few hundred miles too. Plus the best benefit to the bamboo poles was that we hung them out on the front of the garage. If the poles were there we were home, if the poles are gone, so were we! One amusing anticdote; We were hiking a local mountain and on the way down we came across a lady just ahead of us heading off the mountain after a day of hiking. When we caught up to her we started the usual banter about the day and the hike and she happened to comment about our hiking poles. She mentioned that she was trying hers out for the first time, (Her husband had bought her hers for Christmas). But she just didn’t see how they helped her that much; they were too short to do any good. I looked at the poles and noticed that they were 3 section poles and the lower section wasn’t extended. She had no idea that they adjusted. Once I set them for her height she immediately noticed that they really did make a difference. ______[Back to the index]


Essential gear


This is where opinions can get varied. There is gear you need because you use it every time. Gear you almost never use and hope you’ll never need to use it, but always bring it. Gear for a day trip won’t be the same as for an over-nighter.

For every hike;
Maps and guides. Always have a trail map, someone familiar with the trail, or a detailed description of the trail. I believe in over-kill in this area. I study the maps, read the trail guides, search the web, and speak to whom ever I can that’s been there before. That’s part of why I maintain my web site. I’m hoping that it will be one more of the many resources that someone might use to help prepare for their hike. I trust the AMC guides as my hiking bible, and a bring copies of the pages related to my hike with me, along with the map. I try never to hike without knowing what I’m getting into.
A Compass (an orienteering type) (Seldom used, except to spot landmarks from summits.) Having a compass is essential, but I have to add that it is useless to have one and not know how to use one. Take the time to learn how to use one, and practice a few times. Teach everyone that you hike with how to use one, and it is appropriate to say that each person that is likely to leave the main group should have one of their own. Sometimes my son would tend to hike far enough ahead of us so as to get out of sight for a few moments. He doesn’t do this so much any more. Once he wandered down a section of the trail that had been re-routed, and didn’t notice that the log he thought was a blow-down was actually the barrier to turn at. He stepped over the log and ventured straight for a few minutes, while we had turned 90 degrees left for a few minutes. He, (and we) figured out that it had been too long without seeing each other, Simone headed back up the trail, while I ran forward to try and catch up. Needless to say, there was a moment of panic in all of us. Gabe had turned around and was arriving back at the detour just about the time Simone had reached it. A compass wouldn’t have helped in this situation, but if Gabe had gotten lost, he would have been able to use the compass to help find his way back, or at least the highway just a 1/2 mile from where he was lost.
A Whistle (We’ve never used one yet, but always bring one just the same.) I tell my Royal Rangers (ages 9 to 12) to try yelling as loud as they can for just 1 minute. And then, once the noise has quieted down, to think how their throat feels. Then I ask them how they think their throat would feel if they were doing this for several hours. Carrying a whistle is a much better option. In the case where Gabe got separated from us, a whistle definitely would have been the right piece of equipment to be carrying. We have several, and keep them on the fanny packs along side the compass’s) A quick antidote about sound on the trails. We were hiking near the summit of Mt. Eisenhower just as we were breaking out of the trees, and as we stood there looking at the view, and old open cockpit Bi-Plane passed over us from behind. He was so low, and so loud that it freaked us out, as he buzzed us. But we never heard him coming. Sound doesn’t travel well in trees and hills. A kid’s voice after a few minutes of yelling in the forest wouldn’t travel 50 yards.
Sun-block Any season can burn your skin, even when it’s not extremely sunny. Gabe always wears a wide brim hikers hat. I don’t burn easily, but I usually wear a doo-rag for that patch of skin that keeps getting easier to see on the top of my head, and Simone wears a brim cap. We are amazed at the times we get a little burnt when we forget to use the sun block.
Water purifier or Iodine pills (I bring it on every hike, and we use it on every hike.) Fortunately we made what I suspect was a good decision for our type of hiking. We purchased a water filter that is both the filter, and container. I’m not ashamed to use a brand name here, because this product serves us so well for what we need it to do. It’s called “Safe-Water-Anywhere”. I know water purification has grown into a religion, and here’s mine. I know there are better filters, but this one filters everything I will ever encounter in the White Mountains and New England trails. This one carries the water it filters, so it takes up no extra room. This one is inexpensive enough to own and carry several on an overnight trip. This one can’t clog, and there are no moving parts to break. If I were ever in doubt, I can just drop an Iodine pill in the container and the filter helps to remove some of the iodine taste. I always carry the Safe-Water, even if I load it with good water before the hike. The filter is inexpensive enough to willingly replace, and it’s good for several hundred gallons.
A Pocket-Knife. (I Bring it everywhere, use it all the time.) I like my Gerber Multi-tool! So there! I said it. It’s a little expensive $35.00, but I use it all the time. It has everything I need. It makes me feel comfortable, like I’m equipped to handle what ever I need. It’s my security blanket, and don’t mind carrying the weight. It’s lighter than most Multi-tools.
An Emergency Kit. (We bring it on all the hikes, and we use the drugs often.) The emergency kit has a list of it’s own. My kit is just a small stuff sack with junk “stuffed” in it. 1. Assorted bandages. 2. Drugs. (Motrin, Benedryl, Sudafed) 3. Matches with strikers in a plastic film role bottle. 4. A Space blanket. 5. Small tubes of Sun & bug stuff. 6. Small tubes of disinfectant. 7. Small tubes of topical muscle / pain relief. 8. Needles and Dental floss for thread. 9. Whistle. 10. Scissors. 11. Mole skin. 12. A wire saw. 13. Gray tape wrapped around an aluminum tube. 14. Several paper-clips. ______[Back to the index]

Footwear: (feets, don’t fail me now!)


We are becoming amateur podiatrists. Simone and I both have very different foot issues, and are attempting to resolve the issues through the live and learn method. It seems it’s near impossible to find a professional podiatrist that backpacks enough to understand how to address foot problems that are specifically hiking related. Me: After a long hike, I used to get lots of pain in the arches; the pain would carry on through the week. Some mornings I would have to massage my feet for a moment or two just get out of bead without having excessive pain. Those first few steps were a killer, even after sitting for only an hour or more. I’ve solved all that now. I use SPENCO 3/4 inserts, in a firm quality work shoe with a metatarsal pad, as my every day in the office shoe. (I walk most everyday 1 to 2 miles at lunch). The shoes are your typical US postal worker style, and have even been US Postal service approved. (All US Postal service approved shoes have a tag on them by the postal service.) I always hike in medium/heavy weight, traditional all leather hikers; Norwegian welt stitched, with Vibrum soles. Weighing 225Lbs (without a pack), I like lots of support from toe to ankle. The original foot-bed has been replaced with full-length Spenco Hiking foot-beds, in the summer, and Spenco 3/4 length inserts in the winter. I switch for the seasons because I use a thicker sock in the winter, and I want to keep lots of room in the toes for warmth. In the summer, I use a lighter sock and can afford to have the full-length thick pad of the Spenco hikers, under the balls of my feet. Simone: She is still looking for the solution to her problem. Her toes cramp up on decent. The condition can occur instantly within a few steps, or can come on slowly over a 1/4 mile or so. Once it’s there, it’s a sharp stabbing pain that stops her in her tracks. Things that seem to help. Taking Motrin at the first sense of the onset of the problem. Spenco 3/4 arch support inserts in her light/mid weight leather hikers. On lots of our day hikes, she hikes in Merrel hiking sandals. She almost never experiences toe cramping in her sandals. Soaking her feet in the cold White Mountains water. Berkinstocks for almost all of her other time with shoes on. I don’t hesitate to use brand names here, because we’ve tried several other brands of inserts, partial inserts, pads, liners, etc … What I mentioned seems to work for us. Your mileage may vary, but I don’t have a problem recommending you start experimenting with the Spenco products, it just might save you the expense of owning a box full of other products that don’t help. If the trail has a brook close to it’s end, we almost always have a traditional foot washing, even in the winter. What a refreshing/ renewing experience! I can remember one instance when we had just finished hiking at Waterville Ski area, in our shorts and t-shirts. (It was just a bit cold by the snow making guns) We had cracked through the ice, and were wading and splashing about in the pond near the base, as the skiers shivered past us in full Ski bunny suits, staring at us like we were from a different planet. For extended winter hikes with snowshoes, Simone has been using Columbia Bugaboots for the last few years. I’ve recently purchased a pair, but I don’t bother to wear them unless we’re going to be out for more than 4 hours. My regular leather hikers are much more to my liking, and they can keep my feet dry and comfortable for up to 4 or 5 hours. Here’s an interesting fact: A pound on the foot is like 5 on the back. (Worth thinking about when you’re buying boots.) Check the weight!
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Jump to a guide on buying and caring for your boots.


Sleeping Pads (Yea right! Maybe the pads sleep, I don’t!)


Now there’s an oxymoron. Sleeping pads. Like there is anything in this world that weighs less than 1lb and is less than 1 inch thick, that is going to give a 230lb. man a comfortable night sleep on rocky ground. The most valuable thing I ever use that helps me get through the night is 3 Motrin’s. I’m not sure if it’s to kill the pain I acquired from the day’s hiking, or from the pains I pick up from sleeping on a sleeping pad. I use a full length Z-Rest closed cell foam pad. Simone and Gabe use 3/4 length self-inflating Therma-Rests. If anybody backpacking thinks they are going to get more than the minimum of sleep that your body needs to get through the next day is foolish, or much luckier than I. The foam Z-Rests are the best choice if you plan to be sleeping on a cold ground. The Therma-Rests are much more pack-able. (The size of the Z-rest is one reason I hike with an external frame pack, It’s bulky.) They do make Therma-rests of varying length and thickness, but the expense and pack-able size climbs substantially too. My only advice is to get what you really need for your planned backpacking situations. I did notice one fellow hiker in his late 60’s in a shelter sleeping on a full length 1 1/2inch thick Therma-rest and thought to myself, if I were hiking at that age I’d be sleeping on one of those too. He slept, I didn’t!
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Exercise. “That’s not fat; It’s muscle, Relaxing.”


Don’t get me wrong; this is hard work for a 50-year-old man. This is hard work for anyone. Strapping a backpack on your back and knocking off a day’s worth of miles will take a lot of effort from anyone that tries it. It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots on this one. You don’t have to be in superhuman shape, but I defiantly recommend that you “work up” to a 4K by hitting the trail in gradual steps. Regular exercise stressing the legs, arms, heart and lungs definitely makes hitting the trail a bit less difficult each time you attempt to bag a 4K peak. Backpacking anyplace with hills or mountains involved is going to take its toll on a body. If your body is prepared to stress itself under the load is more likely to do so without injury. I don’t have a trainer configured exercise routine, I do how ever keep very active riding bike, walking (up hill whenever possible) cross-country skiing, and of course regular hiking and peak bagging. Backpacking itself is a very unique activity that would be hard to emulate in a gym. I remember the evening our hiking team sat down to plan our Massachusetts AT section hike. We looked over the maps, evaluated the average elevation gain for each day, and calculated our mileage for each day to complete the 100mile trip in 7 days. We packed the days with 10, 12, and 16 mile days, and when we added up all the miles within the 7 day limit we celebrated our planning as though we had hiked the trip. As reality would have it, the temps were in the high 90’s, the humidity was so thick you could drink the air, and the hills were real hills. We were lucky to make 8 miles a day. The trip took us two separate stretches, and a total of 10 days. How can you emulate these conditions in a gym?
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Clothes. “Pigs in a blanket”


Clothing is a one of the most essential components to enjoying a successful hiking and or especially backpacking trip. Without a doubt there are so many varieties of clothing options and of all the hiking “gear”, clothing has been making the most constant and drastic improvements over the last 20 years. Of all our expenses, clothing has been one of our largest and continues grow as we continue to expand our hiking/backpacking experiences. Obviously we are not the only people that are experiencing this phenomenon, just go into any outfitter store and it will look almost like any TJMax or Marchalls other than a few added backpacks and tents. My motto! “Real backpackers never buy at list price!” we have too many other things to buy. We are very fortunate in that we can/do make most of our own clothes; and by doing so we know junk from quality. Quality = “Malden Mills PolarTec materials. Junk = everything else. Other than that I have no strong opinions about the subject. Wool is good, but not worth the bother and doesn’t compare to the high-tech stuff.. Gore-Tex might be good but from the mixed feelings across the industry, I can’t afford Gore-Tex clothes just for the name. Our first layer starts with PolarTec Micro Fleece or Powerdry, our next layer is PolarTec 300 vests or jackets, and our third layer is PolarTec WindBlock. We do use an EMS PowerStretch Shell for hard rain gear. We use various Polartec materials for mittens, headbands, hats, and balaclavas. I’ve had one pair of EMS convertible pants that I’ve worn on every hike, campout, backpacking trip for the last 5 years. If I need more then one pair of pants for an extended venture, I’ll bring a few pair of swim-Trunks. We all have a few EMS Polyester button down shirts. Regardless of what we wear, everything gets soaked with sweat, dirt and mud. After one of our particularly sweaty hikes, we stunk so badly that the lady at the drive-up window of McDonalds closed the window when we drove up. Usually the Stink-O-Meeter is a good gage of how much fun the hike was.
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