Category Archives: Trails

Doing Stuff Outdoors-105


Dennis in the rain at Clingmans Dome. Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dennis in the rain at Clingmans Dome. Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our feature interview today is with Dennis Blanchard of Florida. He’s an outdoors enthusiast whose main interests are hiking, mountain bike racing and riding and occasional kayaking. In 2007, at the age of 60 he set out on a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He even brought along some portable ham radio equipment to make radio contacts from every State the trail goes through. But partway through the hike something happened. Unfortunately (or fortunately for him, as the case may be) he had to take 300 days off for a six-artery heart bypass surgery. As soon as the doctors allowed him, he got back on the trail and finished last October 1st. He’s 62 and feeling great and his story is inspirational. In fact he’s writing a book about the experience called “300 Zeros.”

Also on the show more of your comments from Facebook and email. We hear about a hike up Mount Carleton in New Brunswick and experience the first snows of the year. Gary also wades into the touchy area of public health care and the impact it has on outdoor enthusiasts.  Email us at


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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Health Care, Hiking, Outdoors, Trails

Doing Stuff Outdoors-40



The Cross Country Ski Areas Association has been around for 30 years now with a goal of promoting x-c skiing at resorts. Gary continues his conversation on this show with Chris Frado, the Executive Director of the association. They talk about promoting the sport in the digital age, how x-c skiing has changed with the introduction of the skating technique and snow making at nordic centres and where the sport is headed in the future.

Lorne Blagdon is back with more ‘Trail Magic’, adventures from the Appalachian Trail. This time he tells us about his second encounter with real trail magic. Someone hiked along the trail and just left a cooler there full of soft drinks, candy bars and other tasty goodies. It was another random act of kindness encountered on the Appalachian Trail.

Gary also talks more about some of his favorite outdoor podcasts including content coming from The Outdoors Station in the UK and a hiking podcast called Anthony’s Audio Journal. Next time we’ll go ice walking in Jasper, ski up a river in sometimes challenging ice conditions and preview an interview from the UK about taking a vacation in an exotic country in a kayak.

If you have suggestions for the show, stories you’d like us to do call our comments line at 206.600.4557, email me at or leave a comment on our webpage at And if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to Doing Stuff Outdoors in iTunes and other podcast directories.

Be active…be healthy… and have fun in the outdoors.


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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Nordic Skiing, Outdoors, Skiing, Trail Magic, Trails

Doing Stuff Outdoors-38



In our feature interview today we meet a former teacher of outdoor education who continues to share his passion for the outdoors with children. When Gig Keirstead retired he and his wife started an outdoors centre in New Brunswick called Elmhurst Outdoors. They provide maple sugar tours and meals, groomed x-c ski trails and outdoor education programs for schools. Gig talks about how important it is to get kids connected to the natural world again by doing things like building snow houses.

Listeners have wondered where Lorne Blagdon and his Trail Magic series disappeared to. Well he’s back with another tale from the Appalachian Trail. Lorne and his daughter hiked the full trail from Georgia to Maine a few years ago. He has another hiking adventure to share with us.

Also on the podcast… comments about last weeks free advice on free-heel skiing, podsafe music from Pl@stic Soul, terrific outdoor podcasts from The Outdoors Station and squiggly ski tracks through the tombstones. Next week on the show… rock climbing and bouldering in Australia.

Call in your comments, suggestions and outdoor adventures to the comments line at 206-600-4557. Email Gary at and subscribe to DSO in iTunes.



Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Nordic Skiing, Outdoor Education, Outdoors, Snow, Trail Magic, Trails

Doing Stuff Outdoors-37



Gary was exploring a trail on snowshoes recently when he met Edwin Melanson. Edwin had an old pair of wooden snowshoes on and was out inspecting the trail. He’s 75 years old and he calls himself a trail builder. Edwin is a long time outdoor enthusiast and the trailmaster of the Dobson Trail. He was also instrumental in the development of New Brunswick’s spectacular Fundy Footpath. Gary talks to Edwin about his life as an outdoors trailblazer.

And Gary answers a listeners question about free-heel skiing. What’s the difference between cross-country, backcountry and telemark? Gary brings us along on one of his solo x-c ski adventures to try and figure out why he enjoys the sport so much.

In the weeks to come on the program we’ll go rock climbing in Australia, hiking in Jasper National Park and visit an outdoor education centre with some fabulous ski trails.

If you have suggestions for the show, stories you’d like us to do call our comments line at 206.600.4557, email me at or leave a comment on our webpage at And if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to Doing Stuff Outdoors in iTunes and other podcast directories.

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Filed under Adventure, Backcountry, Grandparents, Hiking, New Brunswick, Nordic Skiing, Outdoors, Skiing, Snowshoes, Trails

Disappearing Trails

(This is a recently published column I wrote for my local newspaper. It’s also the basis of an ‘Outdoor Rant’ that was featured on the DSO-34 podcast. It’s about my local area here but I know the same thing is happening elsewhere. Access to trails is something all outdoor enthusiasts should be concerned about. If you’re facing a similar situation contact my by email at or leave a comment here.)


I was skiing along one of the local trails recently when I met another trail user going for a walk. We chatted about the weather and soon the conversation turned to the changing face of the backcountry this winter. We both commented how logging operations and the plowing of some roads have cut off access to some of our favorite trails. On parting the walker suggested that if this continues we may soon have to drive to Rockwood Park in the city to get access to the outdoors. Those comments have remained with me as I’ve explored more of our informal trail network in the Grand Bay-Westfield area. Given what I’ve seen so far this winter, I fear there may be some truth to those comments.

The clear cutting is everywhere. Trees are being downed right to the edge of long time back county trails and roads that have been used by people for generations. The logging equipment and trucks are tearing up the roads, making it impossible to ski on and difficult and even dangerous in places to walk. I haven’t heard complaints from ATVers and snowmobilers but I’m sure the cutting is having an impact on their enjoyment of the outdoors as well.

A major cutting operation is underway over at the four corners by the ball fields at the end of the Britain Road. The forest on both sides of the trail is leveled for a considerable way. By the old Grand Bay dump and off the Mitchell Road a new logging road extends far into the forest. The old ski trails behind the Westfield Golf Course are long gone, swallowed up in clear cuts that now extend toward the highway. This isn’t a new cut but I was skiing there the other day and lamenting over the loss of that trail system. It was the only wooded trail actually made for non-motorized use in this area. One of the most popular trails around here is what some call the Backland Road beside the Golf Course. It has also seen a lot of cutting this fall and the loggers have kept the road plowed through the early part of the winter. Plowing of course makes it almost impossible to ski. Further along the trail just past the Spencer’s Camp property, a new road has been cut through the woods. It doesn’t look like your typical logging road because it’s considerably wide. The most troubling aspect of this road is that it cuts right across the existing trail to Loch Alva. Hikers, skiers and snowmobiles have used this trail for many years. The new road chops it in half and blocks it entirely with an eight-foot ditch across the trail. ATVs and snowmobiles now have to detour to Spencer’s camp to get back on the trail. Skiers and hikers can still take the old trail but must negotiate this huge ditch to get through. It doesn’t seem right that a road can be built right across an existing trail like that. My skiing companions and I have explored that new road. It continues for some way and actually has two branches. I don’t know who built it or why but I don’t think it’s a logging road. My guess is it’s for a new subdivision sometime in the future. Either way, someone went to a lot of trouble and expense to build a road that right now goes nowhere.
img_0164.jpgDuring our explorations of the area we discovered evidence of some peoples total disrespect for other peoples property and for the environment. I hadn’t visited Spencer’s camp for years but the place is in ruin. Some thoughtless people went through the property and broke every window in every building. Windows and doors were forced open and ripped off the hinges. Nothing escaped the vandalism. Whoever is responsible for this had to work hard to inflict that kind of destruction. What a wasted effort.

It’s also sad seeing all the garbage left around in the outdoors. Out by Belvedere Lake we came upon a spot littered with empty beer cans and bottles. They had just been tossed and left there. This was at a trail intersection and the evidence points to thoughtless snowmobilers or four-wheelers. I can’t understand why people would do that. I know most hikers or skiers would never even consider leaving their garbage strewn about like that.

So even though the skiing was great, these incidents took away a little from the enjoyment of the outdoors. Given what I’ve seen so far this winter, especially in relation to clear cutting and trail access, perhaps it’s time to consider some kind of trail plan for the Grand Bay-Westfield area. We’re blessed here with a backyard full of some of the most beautiful country you’ll find anywhere. But that access and the woods themselves are disappearing quickly. Maybe we need a designated trail system and some kind of protected area. We should at least start thinking about it because more and more, access to outdoor recreation plays a significant part in attracting and keeping people in a community. It really would be a shame if we had to travel to the city to enjoy the outdoors.

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Filed under Backcountry, Grand Bay-Westfield, Hiking, Outdoors, Skiing, Trails