Sometimes I laugh when I ask someone how’s it going and they say “livin’ the dream”. And think, are you really? Is that cynical or sarcastic? Or do they genuinely mean it?
What if they were to answer: “oh my gosh, I’m so lucky to have this life and I’m so grateful?”
Perhaps not as socially acceptable.
That is my answer today, if asked, maybe, at the right time, in the right place.
Seriously. Today. My Life. I don’t want to sound too happy or too ….. I don’t know, because there are so many things not to my liking right now (not being at race weight, my dogs eating my comforter, gas prices, a pandemic, anything in the news, not running according to the plan).
But here are the things that have made me happy this week and I want to remember them:
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.
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:
It’s cold and windy out but I will bike and run. But first, I’m waiting for it to warm up a bit and of course, watch the 11:30 Cuomo Press Conference.
This morning I took both dogs on separate long walks and started the puzzle my BFF George sent me. I’m not really into puzzles but when a friend sends you a gift you use it. It’s a bit more addictive than I thought it would be.
It’s going to be a full day of exercise, puzzles, news watching and a vow to finish reading the last two Sunday New York Times that are stacked on my coffee table. What are you doing on this Saturday in April?
I woke up with a weird feeling in my ears, like they were clogged. I Googled the symptoms of the coronavirus and this is not one of them. I’m hoping it’s nothing. But it makes me think I picked up something at the grocery store, the only place I go.
Despite morning drama, today was all about getting out of the coronavirus-induced-funk and running outside, doing my core workout, writing and reading. I did it all today. Plus tons of dog walking.
While I walk the dogs I pick up trash. In the wake of disaster picking up trash has lifted my spirits. There seems to be so much trash on the streets in Concord. With all the wind from last night and today, I’m sure there will be more.
What also lifts my spirits is watching Parks and Rec. I started watching the first season, again and it is seriously so funny. My favorite quote is from Leslie: “I get to build a whole park from scratch. This could be my Hoover Dam.”
What I love about her character is she is so hopeful and always looks at her problems from a wide lens. How can I translate that in my world and get through the pandemic?
“I get to write a new book. This could be my Eat, Pray, Love”. That is my equivalent to Leslie Knope’s Hoover Dam.
My second favorite Knope quote from Parks and Rec Season 1, Episode 1 that illustrates how much I love her character:
“We’re a nation of dreamers and it is my dream to build a park that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, ‘President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you are the first female President of the United States.”
What also lifts my spirits is reading stories about people doing amazing things. Jessica Wheeler Russell of Concord, wants to help by connecting people who want to help and those who need help. Wow, just an amazing story. Unfortunately the story doesn’t list her organization and I couldn’t find it while searching.
There are stories all over about people doing kind things to others. These stories make me sane as I read news online at least 10 times each day.
And finally, there is this from the NYT. An opinion piece written by Kiley Bense about the nuns who turned into nurses during the Spanish Flu in Philadelphia, 1918. Many of the nuns died while helping but later were honored for saving so many lives when they left the safety of their church and helped the people of Philadelphia, with no medical training. The author of the story parallels the crisis today with 1918. We need to help protect and care for people in our community, she writes.
“While most people have no reason to fear the coronavirus, we have a responsibility as a society to protect and care for those who do have reason to fear it. The sisters’ quiet, determined selflessness is what is needed now, and what we will need more of in the weeks and months to come, not only from doctors and nurses but also from ordinary people, who will be asked to alter their daily lives in ways both large and small, giving up comfortable routine for the sake of the vulnerable”.
For now, I’m going to pick up trash. I know there is more to do and I will be a helper.
But in the meantime, I might just stay away from the news for a bit. I just found out Showtime is free until April. I’ll be watching The Affair (love Josh Jackson) and Homeland. Escape into the world of affairs and CIA operatives. Escapism at its best.
I heard about axe throwing when an endurance athlete I follow on Instagram was doing it with her party guest after a race weekend. I thought… weird. But when Tom said, Hey, we should throw axes, I said, sure. Last week was an urban rock climbing adventure, this week urban axe throwing at RELAX. The real questions : Will all this help me train for 100?
I searched on Google and found some good articles.
While I woke up a little sore, I don’t think it’s going to help me finish a 100 mile race but it was fun and l laughed a lot. So – Win!
I’ve discovered over the last few weeks that I’m a wee bit addicted to weight training. A few days I choose getting my weights in instead of running. This is not great; but that is what happened. These are my favorites.
I keep adding a little more weight every other week. By the end of my hour I’m sweating bullets and feel pumped up. Fun!