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Nearly every spring my old high school buddies and I head out on a 3 to 4 day camping and fishing trip to a remote location in Northern Maine. While this year’s adventure is still a couple of months away, I wanted to reflect on last year’s excursion to the Moosehead Lake Region with the idea that it might inspire other people to get out and see this great part of the world.

The State of Maine maintains dozens of campsites along Moosehead Lake that are available on a first come first serve basis. Most campsites are provided with a picnic table, fire pit w/grill, and privy (rustic outhouse). Fire permits are usually not required for campfires at these sites as long as they are contained in the designated fire pits. During July and August, these sites can fill up quickly, but we rarely have a problem getting the site we want in early June.

Since my buddies and I are now scattered throughout the state and beyond, we meet in Bangor, ME to pick up supplies and then head north up Rt. 15 towards the lake with our boats in tow. The drive up Rt. 15 is breathtaking and you are almost guaranteed to see Moose once your start getting closer to Greenville (the southern most town on the tip of Moosehead Lake).

Just before you get into Greenville you will see the Indian Hill Trading Post on your right hand side. This is one of my favorite stores in the state and you can buy anything you may need for an extended wilderness adventure. The locals are always friendly and more than generous in sharing tips from finding the best camping spot, to landing a trophy salmon or trout.

After grabbing a bite to eat, topping off on gas, and picking up some last minute supplies, we headed up the eastern side of the lake to launch our boats at the Lily Bay State Park. Although you’ll pay a fee at the Lilly Bay State Park, it is one of the most convenient areas on the lake to launch your boat with plenty of parking, and an accessible boat ramp and dock system.

Only a few of Moosehead Lake’s state maintained campsites can be reached by car, with most accessible only by boat or a long hike. Moosehead Lake is over 40 miles long with lots of bays, coves, and inlets that can be very disorienting even to seasoned boaters. You’re well advised to pick up a lake chart before heading out into the open waters and study it before you depart. Not only do these charts show navigational hazards to avoid, they also have the location of all the public campsites on the lake.

lily-bay-state-park

Here we are heading out past the safe water marker in Lilly Bay towards open water. Remember, Moosehead is a big lake and waves can easily build to 3 or 4 feet on windy days. You can see from the picture above the waves were building to 2-3 ft in less than 20mph winds. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out into the open part of the lake. It’s also a good idea to let someone know what your “voyage plan” is. Larger lakes like Moosehead can become a search and rescue nightmare if officials don’t have a general idea of where to find you in an emergency.

Each campsite is unique with its own special characteristics. Some sites are elevated overlooking the lake, while others are near the water’s edge with fine sandy beaches. This picture was taken from the spot where I eventually set up my tent and as you can see the area is breathtaking.

If you love the outdoors, you owe yourself a trip to Northern Maine to experience the beauty of the Moosehead Lake region, you won’t be disappointed!

If you have a story to share about an experience on Moosehead Lake, please leave a comment in the form provided below!

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Every year during our annual camping and fishing trip, my buddies and I bring along a few lawn games to fill up our idle time. While these games were intended to help pass time when the fish weren’t biting, they have evolved into a tradition that is looked forward to as much as the trip itself. The following is a collection of some of our favorite competitive campsite games with modified rules that make playing them in a campground even more challenging and fun.

The Game of Bocce:
bocce-ball

Bocce is a game of skill that is best described as a combination between bowling and horseshoes. In the version my friends and I play, a player is randomly picked to throw the target ball (sometimes called the pallino or jack) across the ground approximately 25′ to 75′ away. The same player will then attempt to roll his bocce ball as close to the “jack” as possible. Once the first player has gone the remaining player(s) attempt to roll their bocce balls as close to the jack as they can. The team having the closest bocce ball to the jack gets one point for each ball that is within the other team’s closest ball.

bocce-scoring-chart

Scoring: In the above “frame”, team blue has three of its four bocce balls closer to the “jack” than the red team’s closest ball. Team blue is awarded 1 point for each ball scoring a total of 3 points.

Bocce does not require flat ground to play; in fact, the more undulations and obstacles in your campground, the more challenging the game becomes.

A set of bocce balls is fairly inexpensive and easy to buy online. One thing to keep in mind is bocce sets are heavy; leave your bocce set at home if your campsite requires you walking more than a half mile or to get to it!

For more information on the game of bocce check out The Joy of Bocce – 2nd Edition or log on to www.bocce.org.

The Game of Horseshoes
horseshoes

Another excellent game for your campsite is the game of horseshoes. A set of horseshoes is lighter and easier to pack than a set of bocce balls, although you still wouldn’t want to bring them along if the location of your campsite required you to walk more than a few miles.

Almost everyone understands the basic rules to horseshoes and you always have the option of adapting them to suit your group. When scoring, my buddies and I usually award 3 points for a “ringer”, 2 points if the shoe is leaning on the stake, and 1 point if the shoe is thrown within one horseshoe length of the stake. We usually play to games of 15 or 21 depending on how “dialed in” we get.

Disc Golf
disc-golf

Without question, one of the fastest growing sports across the country is the game of disc golf.  Did you know that there are some athletes who make a comfortable living playing professional disc golf?  Like the traditional game of golf, disc golf is played on 18 hole “courses”. The objective is to throw a disc from the tee box area into a metal basket (the hole) in the least number of “shots”.  The design of each hole is based on the terrain and can vary in length from 100 feet to 600 feet +. Some campgrounds have even begun constructing disc golf courses on their properties to attract new business.

While the chances of your campground having an official disc golf course is slim, adapting the game so that it can be played at your campsite is easy providing there is a good amount of open space.  Golfing discs are cheap and easy to buy online. Instead of bringing along heavy metal baskets, my buddies and I simply designate a tree, post, or other object as the hole and then mark off a few tee boxes.  The more creative you get with your hole designs, the more fun you and your opponents will have!

For more information on disc golf check out the book Disc Golf: All You Need to Know About the Game You Want to Play or visit the Professional Disc Golf Association.

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redneck-fishermen

Welcome to the August 3, 2009 edition of the Camping and Outdoor Adventure Carnival.  There were a number of submissions to review this week and I am confident this is the best camping and outdoor adventure carnival yet!

If you’re new to Northern Camping, please consider subscribing to my RSS Feed or free email updates!  Check back often for the lastest articles on camping and adventure from the Northern Woods of Maine and beyond!

camping

GP presents Breakfast Round the Campfire « Musings from Montana posted at Manely Montana, saying, “breakfast round the campfire”

Dave presents The Outdoor Wiki
: Why does an Outdoor Camping Wiki make Sense for the Internet
posted at New Outdoor Location Pages.

hiking

Robin Morris presents Iodine Water Treatment Banned in Europe; Alternative Water Purification Methods posted at BackpackBaseCamp, saying, “Detail article on water treatment and purification.”

Cliff Calderwood presents 9 New England Walking Trails to Exercise the Heart and Soul | The New England Online Magazine posted at The New England Online Magazine.

Hiking Lady presents Finding Deals | Hiking Lady posted at Hiking Lady, saying, “We all need to make every dollar count, so here are some tips to get hiking apparel and outdoor adventure gear at great prices.”

Colin Timberlake presents My First Marathon: Remixes, iPods and Rookie Mistakes posted at colintimberlake.com, saying, “The story of my impromptu first marathon and how not to go about one!”

nature

Shannon ODonnell presents a little confusion…wait, no hiking in krka?! posted at a little adrift: a rtw travelogue, saying, “A trip spectacular waterfalls in Krka National Park in Croatia.”

Suwannee Refugee presents Florida’s Nature Coast posted at Suwannee Refugee, saying, “A look into the wild side of Florida, a side that is often not seen by those who bypass it for Disney World”

other

Katie presents Crystal Cove State Beach, Newport Coast posted at OC Mom’s Activity Guide, saying, “Thanks for reading!”

Mesquite Pete presents Cool Things To Do On Hot Days posted at Summertime Fun, saying, “It is tough to beat the heat during the summer, but there are some fun things to do.”

Flea presents Book Review: The Backyard Homestead posted at Be A Survivor.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of camping and outdoor adventure carnival using our carnival submission form.

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Welcome to the first ever Camping and Outdoor Adventure Carnival hosted at Northern Camping!  If you’re new to Northern Camping, the first thing you might want to do is read what this crazy website is about. If you find our site interesting, I invite you to sign up for free updates via email!

Matt Shaulis presents Recreational Fishermen Are Wearing Gore-Tex Rain Gear. posted at Fowl Weather Gear: Information and Reviews.

Flea presents Equipment Review: ENO Single Nest Hammock posted at Be A Survivor.

Gregory E. Rouse presents Beauty Creek Campground posted at Wilderness-Trails Blog, saying, “Wilderness-Trails.org is a blog that was setup as a FREE resource to help you find everything from hiking and backpacking trails to camping spots and mountain biking trails.”

Marjorie Morgan presents Disappearing Tarn posted at GO! Girls Outdoors, saying, “a beautiful little Tasmanian lake that only appears when it rains for weeks. I was lucky enough to see it a couple of weeks ago.”

Smart Unemployment presents The Most Essential Backpacking Item? Trash “Compactor” Bags posted at Hiking Lady.

Wendy Piersall presents Camping Coloring Pages posted at Craft Jr..

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Tubing Blues posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog.

Gregory E. Rouse presents Lean-to Dubree Hut posted at Wilderness-Survival-Skills Blog, saying, “Wilderness-Survival-Skills.org is a blog that was setup in order to share survival instruction and skills for FREE.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of camping and outdoor adventure carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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coleman-coffee-pot2I hate instant coffee! If there is one thing I don’t like about camping, it’s the fact that brewing a quality cup of coffee can be challenging at best. I never realized how much I took my cheap $20 coffee pot for granted until I tried making coffee without electricity!

After another failed attempt to brew an acceptable cup of coffee on last year’s fishing trip, I vowed to bring energy drinks on future trips to satisfy my craving for caffeine.

Then a friend brought along one of Coleman’s new Camping Coffee Potson this year’s camping and fishing trip. I couldn’t believe what I saw!

The Coleman Camping Coffeemaker looked exactly like a conventional electric drip coffee pot only it was designed to sit on top of a Coleman Two-Burner Propane Stove (among other brands). Instead of using electricity, heat from the stove would provide the energy to convert the water to steam and drip into the filter basket.

I woke up the next morning to the familiar smell of freshly brewing coffee. The coffee maker had been fired up and within about 15 minutes there was a full of carafe of freshly brewed goodness just like home!

The Coleman Coffeemaker weighs about 6 pounds. It’s weight, and the fact that the carafe is made of glass makes packing it into remote location unpractical. On the other hand, if you love good coffee and are able to drive into your campsite (or access it by boat), I highly recommend bringing along this convenient piece of equipment.

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daniel81While fishing on a lake in Northern Maine last year, my buddy and I were stopped by one of the game wardens that were patrolling the area. It was a busy holiday weekend, and the warden explained he was doing random safety inspections to ensure that everyone’s boat was up to par.

Maybe I have a guilty conscious, but no matter how closely we abide by the law, there is always uneasy when “challenged” by a law enforcement official.

We were confident the game warden would find everything in order and then continue on his merry way, and welcomed him alongside our boat.

He checked for life vests, signaling devices, registration stickers, and other required equipment and after a few minutes he was ready to let us go.

Before he left he asked us if we both had our fishing licenses.

“Oh crap, I think I left my fishing license back at the campsite”, my buddy said.

Unfortunately, we were about 8 miles from our campsite and retrieving the license would have taken an hour or more. Instead my buddy tried a different approach.

“Sir, my fishing license is back at the campsite. I know I am supposed to carry it with me at all times, but we were not even fishing when stopped us.”

The officer laughed; apparently he had heard this excuse before as his response was right out of a John Grisham novel:

“Possession of fishing tackle in the fields, forest, or waters in the State of Maine without a fishing license is prima facie evidence of fishing in violation of the law.” The warden said sternly.

It wasn’t looking good for my buddy’s cause, but the warden was otherwise pleased with our preparedness and he offered my buddy a deal.

The warden said he would take my buddy’s name and address and run it through the computer database back in his vehicle. If it was found that my buddy did not have a license, the consequences would be severe.

To my buddy’s credit, it was determined that he had a license and nothing more became of our brief interruption out on the lake.

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loading-camping-gear

While camping still remains one of the most inexpensive forms of vacationing,  the initial cost of purchasing basic camping supplies can be cost prohibitive to some families.  To help ease this burden, I have assembled the following list of 25 tips and tricks to keeping your equipment costs down.

Buy used gearCraigslist and eBay are excellent sources for used camping equipment.  Tents, camp stoves, tarps, cook ware, etc. can be purchased at steep discounts on these sites.  The one thing I would avoid buying used is sleeping bags (bed begs, dust mites, etc.).  Just make sure you thoroughly inspect it before buying.  If buying through eBay, make sure the seller has a high feedback.

Tents, Tarps, Sleeping Bags, and other camping equipment are best stored together. Use an extra large duffle bag, or ski bag to keep your essential camping gear together. This will also save time when you begin packing for your next trip.

Large garbage bags can make an excellent poncho when slit at the bottom and worn over your head.

Make a temporary shower by placing a black garbage bag filled with water in direct sunlight. When the water is warm, hang the bag from a tree limb and poke a hole in it, enjoy!!

You never know when Duct Tape can get you out of a bind. Wrap duct tape around your water bottle for safe keeping and easy access. The duct tape will also help insulate your water or beverage.

Block your propane grill from the wind by using tin foil. This will allow the heat to more efficiently warm your food and save fuel!

Baby wipes work well for adults too! They are particularly handy for “freshening up” after a trip to the outhouse (in case you didn’t know this already!).

Use a large Ziploc bag filled with air as a pillow, this will also save room in your gear bag!

Keep a change of clothes in a large plastic bag for emergencies.

Canning rings can be used to cook perfect eggs for egg sandwiches. Break an egg inside the ring and will come out just like McDonald’s!

Used plastic food containers (Cool Whip, Coffee, Butter, etc.) make excellent storage containers for packing food and camping kitchen supplies.

Old exercise pads are a decent substitution for the more popular  Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Mattresses.

Plastic soda bottles can be used as water bottles or canteens. Make sure the lid does not leak
before using in a backpack.

Old shower curtains make great tarps to place under smaller tents.

Bring an old metal coat hanger along to hang your propane lantern from a tree limb.

Old prescription bottles are excellent for storing small camping items like matches, batteries, etc.

Combat flimsy paper plates by using them as liners inside a Frisbee, or similar sized item.

Keep wet logs near the fire so help them dry out before placing them on the fire.

Use baking soda instead of soap to wash away sticky tree sap .

Remove batteries from your flashlight until you need them, this will prevent the batteries from running down.

Keep your toilet paper roll dry by packing it in a coffee can, or other container with a snap-on lid.

Studies have shown that mosquitoes and black flies are attracted to dark clothing, and perfume. Protect yourself by using fragrance free toiletries and wearing lighter colored clothing.

Use a piece of old garden hose cut lengthwise to use as a “sheath” for your saw or axe.

A 9-Volt battery and steel wool make an excellent fire starter.  Simply touch both terminals of the battery to the steel wool to create a flame.  Make sure that you pack them separately so you don’t start a fire in your back pack!

Before you throw out your old BBQ grill, remove the actual grills and keep them to use on open fire pits on your next camping trip.

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channel-marker-buoy

Have you ever wondered what all those different colored buoys and markers mean on your favorite lakes and rivers? You’re not alone! With no formal training or licensing requirements currently in place for recreational boaters in the United States, there is a severe lack of understanding when it comes to these invaluable navigation tools.

If you’re thinking about buying your first boat (or want to improve your boating knowledge), here is a quick guide to understanding these different navigational buoys and markers that make up the Uniform State Waterway Marking System (USWMS).

The USCG created this uniform marking system to ensure boaters could travel from one state to another and abide by the same navigation system.  Being familiar with this navigation system will not only improve your safety, but the safety of others around you.

The following chart shows the basic structure of the Coast Guard’s recommend aids to navigation standard.navigation-aid-chart

Channel Markers: Channel markers are often used to define a path of safe passage were boats should stay within when traveling in an area with navigational hazards. When entering a channel from a main body of water, or when you are traveling upstream, you shall keep the red buoys on your right hand side and the green buoys on your left. The easiest way to remember this is “Red, Right, Returning” or keep the red, to the right, when you are returning from open water.

Regulatory Marker Buoys: These buoys are typically white and orange and may symbolize a variety of official information such as a slow water area, no wake zone, danger area, or distances to (or from) a point of interest.

Milfoil Buoys: In Maine, Milfoil buoys are yellow in color and warn boaters of heavy vegetation in the area that may affect the operation of their vessels.

Safe Water Marker: Safe water markers are marked with red and white vertically striped buoys. These buoys can be passed closed on either side and generally care used to mark the center of a channel.

Mooring Buoys: Mooring buoys are white with a single blue band around them. In some cases they may have a white light or reflector.

Remember, not every navigational hazard is marked.  In fact, most lakes in the United States are not marked at all.  Use extreme caustion when boating in areas that you are not familiar with.

For more information on Navigational Aids or other boating laws, contact your state’s department of recreation.

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personal-locator-beacon-plbIf you love camping as much as I do, you’ve likely found yourself in precarious situations over the years where help would have been virtually impossible to contact if needed.

Cell phone technology has closed this gap a little, but with the vast majority of the North American wilderness not covered by cell phone service, you are essentially on your own.

Satellite phones are much better in terms of coverage area, but they are fragile instruments and cost prohibitive to most people.

If you are looking for the ultimate in lifesaving technology during your next outdoor adventure, consider packing an ACR Personal Locator Beacon.

Based on the same technology as the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) used for years in the maritime industry, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is capable of sending an emergency distress signal (via 406 MHz signal) to search and rescue authorities when all other means of signaling for help have failed.

When you activate the unit, an emergency signal (including your name and location) is sent to one of two search and rescue satellite systems orbiting the earth which then retransmit your exact location to the appropriate search and rescue authorities back on earth.

Personal Locator Beacons are not cheap and cost anywhere from $500-700 depending on the features of your unit.

When you purchase a new Personal Locator Beacon you are required to register the unit with the US 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database System.

Another option is renting a Personal Locator Beacon for a reasonable $65-70 dollars per week. If you only make a couple trips a year, this may be a much more cost effective means of acquiring the peace of mind you need.

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camping-recipes-potatoesMmm…mmm…mmm…I love potatoes! They are nutritious, resistant to spoiling, and most importantly, they taste delicious when prepared with this recipe!

Stoke up the campfire and follow along as I share the “secret” to preparing the perfect camping home fries!

  • 4-5 Medium Potatoes Sliced into ¾” Cubes
  • ½ Cup of Chopped Onions
  • 1 Table Spoon of Basil
  • 1 Tea Spoon of Pepper
  • 1 Tea Spoon of Salt
  • 1 Tea Spoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Table Spoons of Olive Oil (Vegetable or Canola works too!)

*approximately 4 servings

Coat your pan with the olive oil and bring it to temperature over your campfire or grill.

Dump the potatoes in the pan and turn them over every 5 minutes or so until they start to brown (this usually takes 20-25 minutes depending on the size of your grill/fire).

Once the potatoes begin to brown, stir in the onions, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Continue to stir every few minutes until the potatoes are a nice golden brown.

Total cooking time is approximately 30-35 minutes.

Tip: To speed up the prep time, you can pre-chop your potatoes and onions at home and pack them in an airtight container to bring with you.

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