Presidential Traverse in June

The Presidential Traverse – Saturday June 27, 2020

  • Mount Madison – 5,367′
  • Mount Adams – 5,794′
  • Mount Jefferson – 5,712
  • Mount Washington – 6,289′
  • Mount Monroe – 5,371′
  • Mount Eisenhower – 4,780′
  • Mount Pierce – 4,311′
  • Mount Jackson – 4,052’

Since I’m the type of hiker and runner who likes to get things done as quick as possible, I think the traverse is a perfect event for me. To complete an event like this – in one day – you can’t stop a lot and you have to keep moving despite the pain to get to the end. But what is great for people like me is to be around people I really like, who stop to smell the roses, take in the views and hang out at waterfalls. I don’t normally do this so it’s good to be with people who do, and do it without annoying me too much, LOL. 

That said – it was a freaking perfect day to be above treeline. 

The crew met at 4:30 at the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch to drop a car and then drove up to Appalachia trailhead. We didn’t quite know what trail we were going to take and ultimately decided on the direction of Valley Way or Airline. The only plan up to that point was to get to the hut and backtrack to Madison so when we came to a trail junction that offered a choice to Madison first – we took it – Watson Path. Looking back Valley Way would’ve been the better choice but we opted for a loop instead of out and back. 

Madison was amazing. About 10 people on the summit. Since we would be at this all day, we stopped for a short time and kept moving. The weather was perfect, hovering around 50 and very little wind. All day there was cloud cover and we could see Mount Washington the entire time. 

Next up, Adams. This is always a tough climb. As I hiked, I thought of all the search and rescue stories of so many people being trapped or killed on this mountain. The weather on this summit can be unpredictable but today, it was perfection. 

Hiking with this crew: Bob and Mark, is so fun. They are silly and fun to be around. They were in much better shape that I on this hike. They have been hiking much more and training better so it was an effort to keep up most of the day.

We really wanted to run some of this but there weren’t many runable spots. There was a group of trail runners who knew exactly how to get to Jefferson after we took a wrong turn with another group of traversers. We hiked close to them most of the day. This group had the same group dynamics we had. They were telling funny jokes to each other as they hiked and giving each other shit like I did to Mark about leading us the wrong way. A few times when Mark led, he wasn’t following cairns and I would exclaim “Damn It, Mark” in fun. You just go forward the way that looks obvious and you go off route a bit when you follow Mark. LOL

After the steep climb to the top of the crowded Jefferson summit I was falling a little behind the crew. My legs were dead. There was so much scrambling and the rocks are rough and abrasive. I cut my hands in a few spots. I turned my ankle a few times and my metatarsals were twisted and turned in odd ways due to rock placement. That’s life in the Presidentials for sure.

Bob Joke: Could someone come and remove some of these rocks? 

We missed the signs for Clay and continued to bypass it even after realizing our mistake when talking to some hikers. Since it’s not a true 4,000 by the AMC definition we were all okay and didn’t go back. Onward to Mount Washington – the rock pile

Mount Washington was the only place I added a layer and a beanie. We didn’t stay too long because the wind made it cold! The only summit with wind today. We headed to Lake of the Clouds for a bathroom break (no restrooms at Washington) but all the huts had water, snacks for sale and bathrooms. 

From this point on I had Zombie brain and dead legs. We had heard that the northern Presidentials were much harder so we briefly enjoyed the thought that the hardest climbing was behind us. HA! 

Over Monroe and Franklin (a 5,000 footer but not on the official list) 

I remembered Eisenhower from a hike last fall with Winnie-Dog. It was a nice easier climb with the huge cairn at the top. 

Pierce wasn’t as exciting after the day we had above the trees but the cairn was pretty big. We kept moving. 

We saw a mountain in the distance and I hoped it was Webster (one we weren’t doing) because it looked so far away and it was going to be a good climb. It was Jackson. This was the start of entering the dark place at hour 10 or 11. 

We finally got to the top and I was swearing and hating this mountain. I’m sure it’s a fine mountain but the last big climb made me mean. But come to find out, the descent back to the car would be the worst part of the day. Talk about a dark place. This is the part that marked distances seemed so wrong and much longer than 1.6 miles or even .9. The remaining miles back to the car were pure hell but we got er’ done.

Bob Joke: This is not a place to get hurt. We wouldn’t want to leave you behind.

How people run this – I can’t conceive – however, I want to. I will. I will try to next time. Except someone mentioned a Presidential Traverse Double. Now that would be great and something to really train for AND I wouldn’t have to death march down the Webster / Jackson trail. Along the trail I told Mark how lucky we were today. We were fortunate to not get hurt and that the weather report was wrong all day. One wrong foot placement, looking the wrong way or not paying attention – our day would be done in a second. I’m a worst-case-scenario-person a lot of the time and know how quickly things can go sideways. I’m cautious but not risk averse. We were fortunate today. We were blessed. 

I decided at mile 18 that I would 1) never do something for more than 12 hours ever again and 2) my body will never finish a 100 mile race because I felt much worse at this moment than DNF’ing at Leadville at mile 36. However, now, two days later, I’m ready to get stronger and fitter to do more crazy things like this

Lessons Learned: 

  • Do more trail running with rocks prior to event
  • More glute strength workouts
  • Decide on routes first, there were too many options at the start
  • Always do this with people you like – the two people I was with are the best, anything else would suck
  • When you run/hike with Bob you always have perfect weather above treelike – that’s a fact (so far)

Post Blog Writing Advice from DangerGirl about running the traverse. I will take it: 

Weekend Recap, June 15 Looking Ahead

It was a fun weekend of riding and running and hiking with the dogs. While we haven’t been hiking the big mountains or any real mountain, I think next week we will take it to the next level. Winnie and Goldie are ready for a longer hike. 

The trees in Winant Park are green and lush. Look up!

I was thinking this last week about all the plans and goals from the beginning of the year. It’s been such a strange year but no year goes completely how I’ve wanted. It’s like the saying that if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. I didn’t know that was attributed to Woody Allen. 2019 and 2010 were pretty great years.

Things I planned on doing on January 1, and status as of June 15:

  • 52 marathons in one year. I have only have completed one 26 mile run. There still may be time. 
  • 4,000 footers in my 49th year. I’m getting there slowly while placing blame on the stay at home order. There is time.
  • 100,000 feet in June, July, August. This is the new goal and I love seeing my calculations change every day. This is possible.
As of June 14, 2020, this is for the month of June – must hit 33,000 to stay on track for 100,000 feet of vert.
  • 100 mile finish. My training is not going well. The most important runs are the long runs on the weekend and I’m not hitting the numbers. There is still time. This is possible. 

I’m so behind but it’s all good. I love thinking of all the fun things that help me get psyched to do too many activities in one day that leave me so tired. As much as the tiredness lately has been driving me crazy, I know that I’m getting stronger, if that is even possible at 49. 

This week’s training plan – running!

This week is some big mileage and lots of activities: swimming, small group weight training at the Y, running, hiking and a hike or two. See you on Strava!

My new favorite place to Mountain Bike – Bear Brook!

I’m tired and cranky, Ironman training

Today I’m going to bike and run and hike two mountains. I can do it all today. 

Okay, how about a hard trail run after a tough week of weights and running – and call it getting back at it. 

Am I a triathlete or ultrarunner or off-road triathlete?

I want to be all of the above. But I’m so tired. I’m not recovering well. I wake up tired. But I’m going to keep at it and get better. I know that I’m aging but I just have to do everything right so I can do all my races, or at least the ones left. I want to finish a 100 miler this year. I want to hike all the 4,000 footers again. 

After taking the dogs to the river after my run I decided to take the afternoon off. And decide to attempt the 100,000 vertical challenge for June, July and August. As of today I’m at 8,138. I have a great plan to run, hike and bike 33,333 vertical feet for three months. 

It’s June 1 – the New Normal

Let’s start with the temperature this morning: 35 degrees. The morning dog walk at 5 a.m. was COLD. My winter coat was put away. It was a brisk walk.

Today the YMCA opens and I have a reservation for a lane in the pool at 12:15. Yes! I actually like knowing I will have a lane to myself at a particular time. The weight room isn’t open yet but once it is I’ll be happy to reserve a time. 

Also today, I start a triathlon training plan. I’m not exactly sure what I’m training for but I’ll be ready when a race is open. Ironman did announce the rules for their races, yesterday. It looks like Ironman Florida could be an option. Plus they fixed their website urls; they were all wonky. Stuff like that drives me crazy. 

Also today, I will be eating at a restaurant. That will be interesting. It’s the new normal.

Races Canceled So far:

The White Mountain triathlon is canceled and race organizers are allowing registrants to race Lake Sunapee triathlon or defer to next year. It would be fun to swim in Lake Sunapee. However, September 19 is the 50 miler at Gunstock, bummer. So I’ll defer to next year.

August 7 is the Ragged Mountain Stage race. This isn’t canceled yet, but I’m half expecting it to be. I have two months left to train for it and I’ll be ready. It’s okay if it is postponed to next year. 

So much is changing in the world. Here in New Hampshire, in my corner of the world, all seems calm and somewhat normal. I know it’s not, really. Everything that is going on in the big cities, the violence and looting can be stopped with action, writing letters and taking part in conversation. I will do my part. As Anne Lamott says, I’ll pick up trash.


Heading into the Holiday Weekend

It’s Friday and I just got back from a short hike with the dogs in Winant Park. We saw the usual players: trail runner, people with dogs, people without dogs. Despite hiking earlier and earlier I still seem to see more every day. It’s all good. Goldie is coming on command and I can get her on a leash at the end of the hike which I couldn’t do a week ago. Winnie is getting older and grumpier so at the last half of the hike she is on leash. 

It’s been a good week so far. I’ve run all the mileage I am supposed to according to the 100 mile training plan.

Today is an off day in preparation for tomorrow’s 18 miler. I finally feel like I’m back on track and feeling strong while running.

The holiday weekend is turning out to be a busy one, plus the weather is going to be fantastic. Hiking Monadnock on Sunday, which I haven’t hiked in over 30 years. Hiking Ragged on Monday, which will be hard – the mountain is tough! And running and mountain biking with friends the rest of the days. 

I have been thinking about my goal of running 100 miles in 2020. It more and more looks like it’s going to be a self-supported 100 mile run in October. I’m thinking 5 10-mile out and back routes to my house. I’ve been scouting out runs which is making my longer runs more interesting and keeping my mind occupied. 

Here’s what I’m thinking for the self-supported 100:
10 miles out to Bow and back 
10 miles out to Oak Hill (East Concord) and back 
10 miles out to Boscawan and back 
10 miles out to Hopkinton and back 

Which leaves one more out and back left to figure out. And most importantly which legs to do at night from a safety perspective. 

Fun, Fun. 

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, friends. 

Goldie says hi friends! I’m cute.