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Meet LoneStranger, Trailspace's Reviewer of the Month

Congratulations to community member LoneStranger, Trailspace's newest Reviewer of the Month!

Each month we recognize and get to know a different member of the Trailspace community. This month it's John, a Maine-based backcountry aficionado and cyclist who likes "walking to the empty places where the people aren't," like the top of the Saddle Trail in Maine's Baxter State Park above.

Congratulations, John, and thanks for sharing your experience and helpful gear reviews with us. For your contributions, you win this month's featured Reviewer of the Month prize: a pair of Topo Athletic MT (Mountain Trainer) shoes for trail running, light hiking, and approaches ($100 value). Plus, you get a goodie pack from A3, Clif, Innate, Kind, Larabar, and Trailspace.*

Join the Trailspace community in recognizing other helpful reviewers by voting up the reviews you find most useful. Write your own helpful gear reviews and you could be our next Reviewer of the Month.


Meet John/LoneStranger

LoneStranger on the backside of East Baldpate on the Grafton Loop.
LoneStranger checks out the view from the backside of East Baldpate on Maine's Grafton Loop Trail.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up on a small farm in Wisconsin before moving to California where I spent about 25 years in Orange County. I had some great times surfing in the morning and driving a taxi at night before settling down to 18 years of computer work.

When that ended I decided it was about time to have a life. So I got married, moved to Maine, bought a house, and had a baby, though Mrs. Stranger did the heavy lifting on that last one. Now I raise my daughter full time, which doesn’t pay well, but is much more appreciated than anything else I’ve accomplished in life.

How did you get started exploring outdoors?

Hanging out in the woods was just something we did as kids since we didn’t have to leave the farm to do it. Camping generally wasn’t something I was excited about until taking some trips with a school group. A trip to the Porcupine Mountains (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) showed me that heading down a trail was more my style.

LoneStranger and Jon on top of Katahdin in Baxter State Park.
LoneStranger and hiking buddy Jon on top of Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park.

Another trip to the Apostle Islands (Lake Superior) showed me that the farther away you get the better it gets. Just after high school graduation I had a chance to visit the Cloud Peak Wilderness in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, which pretty much sealed the deal on me being a lifelong seeker of empty places.

What do you like to do outdoors?

I just really like to get out there, so if I get the chance I’m usually game for most sorts of adventure. Since moving to Maine I have rediscovered my love of road cycling and really enjoy finding empty roads where I have to fear the hills more than the traffic. Maine definitely has some hills to be feared.

That same sense of getting away from the distractions generally drives my backcountry adventures as well. I prefer to avoid the well-traveled trails and am willing to hike beyond my comfort zone if that is what it takes to get away from the crowds.

My favorite days are ones where I meet few if any folks on the trail and camp in peace listening to the wind rather than human voices. I do enjoy trips with family and friends as well, but those trips are about being social and tend to be less peaceful. My name that I use here on the site (LoneStranger) comes from that appreciation for traveling alone.

LoneStranger and his daughter relax on the Freezeout Trail in Baxter State Park.

Do you have any outdoor plans/goals/dreams you want to share?

My main goal is to get out as often as I can for as long as I can, but this year we are really trying to get out as a family. We just picked up a new backpack for Mrs. Stranger and our daughter is really excited about going camping again. She just turned three and this will be her fourth camping season. She loves it out there as much as I do.

The other big thing on the horizon is a little toddle on the Long Trail I have planned for September. I’d planned on waiting until my wife and I could do it together, but she insisted I should just go now and we’ll do it together when we can.

Going solo means I can do it on my own terms and I’m intending on staying on trail the whole time with no resupply. My plan also calls for avoiding the shelter crowds by camping alone as much as possible. Working out nutrition spreadsheets along with gear spreadsheets has made planning for this trip look very serious, but really I am just looking forward to a long walk in the woods by myself.

What motivated you to share your reviews with Trailspace?

Whenever I’m shopping for something I depend heavily on reviews to make informed choices. Real reviews by real people are so much more valuable than professional writers reviewing for a magazine or folks shilling on Amazon. Since I was getting the benefits of these reviews I thought it was time I gave something back. 

I waited a while before posting a lot of reviews because I think knowing something about a reviewer gives context to what they say. From my trip reports and forum posts people can get an idea of where I roam and how I use my gear.


Featured Reviewer Prize:
John wins a goodie pack featuring a pair of Topo Athletic MT trail running shoes ($100 value).

Great job, John!

*Besides Trailspace appreciation, John wins a pair of MT (Mountain Trainer) trail running shoes, thanks to Topo Athletic, plus a goodie pack with A3, Clif, and Kind bars; an Innate Motus 3 water bottle; and a Trailspace Trail Runner Cap and stickers.

Wondering how you can be as lucky as John? Write some great gear reviews of your own. Next month we'll recognize another reviewer (who'll win a great prize), and it could be you!

Help recognize the best reviews on Trailspace by clicking that up arrow whenever you read a truly helpful review. You'll not only recognize good reviewers, you'll help highlight the best reviews of products for other members looking for outdoor equipment.


Congratulations, LoneStranger!

I always enjoy seeing your pictures of some of our amazing spots in Maine (though maybe we should be keeping all of them a secret...).

Enjoy the new shoes, and especially your time outside with your daughter!

Congrats LoneStranger! You've inspired me to explore Baxter State Park again this year!

Seth said:

Congrats LoneStranger! You've inspired me to explore Baxter State Park again this year!

I love Baxter SP. Since both of my kids will be 6 or older this summer, I'm hoping to take them up Katahdin (for those wondering, Baxter SP has a rule barring kids under 6 from going above treeline).

Kudos John!

Congrats LoneStranger! I've enjoyed reading and definitely have benefitted from your reviews this month! My oldest daughter just turned 3 this year as well and I'm working on getting her out camping with me. There's a good chance I'll be asking you for advice on that in the coming months!

Nice work John!!  Congrats!

Great job, well deserved!!!

Congrats LoneStranger! I second what Ben Rivers said, very helpful reviews and great contributions to forums!

You certainly earned this one, LS! Congrats!

Thank you all for your kind words here and for your presence here on the site.  I know this is a gear site, but it is the people who run it and post here who make it the nice place that it is.

@Alicia Maine needs the tourism so I will promote all of the spots except for that one we talked about in private ;) If you think your youngest is ready then by all means give Katahdin a shot.  I met a man and his son at Chimney Pond last year on their way down.  The boy was about 7 I'd guess and when he told me he'd just gone up and down the Saddle I shook his hand.  He was just about exploding with pride that some old dude in a straw hat was impressed with him.

@Seth Let me know if you need company.  The no motorcycle rule in Baxter means I have to leave my wife with no car if I go so I don't get up there as much as I'd like.

@Ben Rivers I think getting the youngsters away from the video screens and into the woods is one of the most important things we can do as parents.  By all means send me a PM if you want to ask some questions but there have been some previous posts on the forums about it as well you may want to read through or you may want to start another one of your own so others can chime in.

LoneStranger, sweet I'll check em out! Thanks for lettin me know!

Great reviews John...and also enjoy your take in the forums!

Congrats Lonestranger! Pretty sweet package deal.

Pretty new to the site, but I've already come to the conclusion based on reading some of his reviews that LoneStranger is someone to emulate. Always helpful and adds great photos. Well deserved reviewer of the month.

What do you mean, LoneStranger? Maine is cold and muddy and filled with black flies.

Just kidding, folks. LoneStranger is right that it's a pretty nice place to live and explore, as we can see from some of his pictures.

Congratulations again.

LS, I enjoy interacting with you on this site. Your reviews are great. Your insights are things I frequently take to heart.

I may come to Main sooner than my thru-hike, so I can discover how you get folks "loaded up" for Katadyn. ;)

Congrats Lonestranger,

Enjoy those trail runners and other stuff!

Congratulations, LoneStranger,

Keep clocking those miles and reviewing gear, always looking forward to them!

LoneStranger -  You Rock! You are an inspiration to many my friend. Stay Free and enjoy your adventures. Congrats.





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