4,000 footers update

This weekend I hiked 36.7 miles (Friday was 12.3, see next post)

Saturday and Sunday went sort of as planned: two days of hiking, bagging five peaks. 

Saturday I hike North Twin to South Twin and down and up to Galehead.

I hiked solo and ran into a young man from Dover, NH who I chatted with most of the way. It was sunny and warmish and while I carried 2.5 liters of water and a filter, I worried about water all day. The views from the false summit of North Twin were amazing – I just love that blue of mountains in the distance.

After hiking the southern Presidentials yesterday (see next post) my legs were fatigued but somehow I was able to make it to South Twin. At the summit of South Twin I debated about Galehead. I think I had enough water but the route down to Galehead is relentless. 0.8 miles of downhill stairs as I remembered from the Pemi Loop last year. 

I knew I just had to get Galehead done. I’ve been so close too many times so I just did it. 

The stairs were relentless but actually not as bad as I remembered. Then onto Galehead. One sign said 0.4 another a bit later 0.5. My watch: 0.3 – an easy climb to Galehead with an outlook before the summit and back down to the hut. 

As I started up South Twin I started counting. This works in running and it worked today. Getting back seemed not as hard and I was happy to be done with it. The up and down back to North Twin was okay and I had enough water. I ran out of water at mile nine knowing that at mile 10 or 11 I would get water from the Little River. I alternatively ran/hike the final two miles through the gorgeous fall foliage. 

It was a good day. 

Total mileage: 13.25

Passaconaway and Whiteface

On Sunday I hiked the loop counter clockwise. I may have been one of two people that did. Everyone I passed, and about eight dogs, went clockwise.

I chose Passaconaway first because, again, I got close to the peak twice the last few years and either was too tired or just skipped it. I had to do it, so I started with it. 

The hike up Dicey Mill is really gradual with a few steep sections and then I turned right to go up to Passaconaway. A trail runner passed me and then after about five steep pitches I reached the summit with a little cairn. 

I got confused about how to take the loop trail down so I went down the way I came up. Then on to Whiteface.

Despite being socked in most of the day, there were a few views of the wilderness breaking out.

I passed a pile of rocks, the true summit and up to the granite slabs.

I wasn’t looking forward to them and thank goodness they were dry. I think going down is the better option. Whiteface is definitely not one of my favorites but the loop is fun to run. 

I finished the loop with two summits in 4 hours 26 minutes – 11.26 miles

16 4,000 footers to go by November 14 at midnight.

Lake George Vacation, I Love New York

Peter and I took a three day vacation to Lake George last week. We thought it would be fun to get out of New Hampshire for a few days mid-week and avoid the crowds.

As it turned out Lake George was in full vacation mode: a lot of families and vacationers – All wearing masks and social distancing. 

We stayed in a motel on the lake so we were able to swim:

We biked to town for dinner both nights.

We wanted to hike Prospect Mountain but found out as we were driving that the hiking trail was closed for construction. However, Peter who loves talking to EVERYONE chatted with a woman in the coffee shop and found out about a little known trail on Big Hollow  Road that would get us there. 

We found the road and tunnel underneath Interstate 87 and parked. The trail followed Big Hollow Branch, a bubbling stream with algae on the rocks and many waterfalls and swimming holes. 

We followed the trail and alternatively a logging road. We realized that we would need to bushwack to get to the real Prospect Mountain and opted against it. So we didn’t quite make it to the mountain but it was a gorgeous walk in the woods of the Adirondacks. On the way down I brushed against a Stinging Nettle which caused a burning sensation where it hit my skin. Later causing bumps. It hurt so much. I initially tried to wash my leg and Peter broke out his first aid kit with a soothing ointment that helped. 

Stinging Nettle

The final day we woke up to a foggy, wet view from the docks. We stopped for coffee and headed home. The drive through Vermont reminded me of when I lived in Killington and Rutland. We hike Deer Leap next to the Inn at Long Trail. It was a short hike with limited views due to clouds but worth it.

We were hoping to eat at Inn at Long Trail but they didn’t have outside seating, and may have been closed. I really was hoping to have lunch at a restaurant on the access road but nothing was open. So we continued home and ate lunch in Lebanon. 

It was an amazing vacation in a place I’ve never been. I loved swimming in the lake and riding bikes everywhere. Love, Love, Love. 

Once we got back to town Peter decided that it was time to get clipless pedals for his bike. We went to S&W in Concord and he bought new mountain biking shoes and pedals. Now it’s time for trail riding and seeing who’s the better mountain biker.

Hiking Gunstock Mountain

Last weekend Peter, Pete and I hiked Rowe, Gunstock and Belknap Mountains with the dogs. It was a rainy, cool-ish day; perfect for dogs to stay cool.

We started up from the base area after the dogs swam in the pond. The trail to Rowe is beautiful. I felt like I was in a different world because the woods were so dark and foggy. Rowe is a quick summit and then on to Gunstock. Toward the top we ran into mountain bikers coming down. That would be a fun thing to do – ride this trail.

The top of Gunstock was socked in and it started to rain/mist more. Perfection!

Then we headed over to Belknap and Pete got to the summit tower first. With no views I opted out. There were perfectly placed puddles for the dogs to cool down in as we headed back down.

My favorite part of this loop is Brook Trail. There is a bubbling brook that follows the trail to the end and the dogs got to drink, play cool off in it for the last 30 minutes.

This is the first time I’ve hiked in the Belknaps and it certainly won’t be the last. Just to think that I will be working at Gunstock in a few short weeks is exciting and I cannot wait!

I’ll be hiking, running and biking these trails over and over again. What a fantastic place.

Tired dogs are always good, too.

Tired dogs in the parking lot.

July 4th and Plan for the Week

While Saturday and Sunday during the July 4th holiday weekend was a no-training weekend, Friday morning I finally got a ride in along the coast of New Hampshire. I rode from my parent’s house up and down the coast in Rye and North Hampton. It was very windy in some spots but the views were worth it.

North Hampton Route 1A, bike ride heading north.

It’s a bit treacherous biking on Route 1A. I did almost get clocked by a car that weaved into the the bike lane. When I looked up I noticed he was looking at himself in the mirror. Tourists and locals alike, on recreation bikes and walking, were oblivious to cyclists. Next time I’ll do that mid week and much earlier in the day.

Saturday and Sunday was more of a swim-and-walk-the-dogs kind of mellow weekend which means I’m really off my training plan. It’s summer and while a training plan is good it just seems right to take each opportunity for fun despite what the plan.

Life is so good right now so no regrets. Ever.

Watched One Week, again, the ultimate Canadian road trip.

This week: 

Run: 40 Miles
Bike: 75 Miles (road and mountain)
Swim: 6,000 yards
Hike: Ragged, Sunapee (during the week), 1 4,000 footer during the weekend

There is the plan. Now it’s time to execute.

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: