Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Meandering

I trust and hope you all had an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. Since I started running in 2004, Memorial Day Weekend has been a time to remember and reflect on the lives of those who mad the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom, by appreciating the freedoms we have and the land that is America. Typically on Memorial Day Weekend, Sarah and I camp in Crawford Notch, NH; Hike on Saturday, I'll race on Sunday, and we'll hike again on Monday. This year the plans were only slightly different. Given the need to continue to heal from my latest 100 Mile Adventure, racing was scraped from the plans and the weekend was centered around time with Sarah.

We as ultra-runners also often time forget about our significant others. Or, we don't forget about them per-say but we fail to give them their fair share of time. This was my opportunity to thank Sarah for her patience and enjoy some quality time together doing what we love to do. Here is how our amazing weekend played out: (hey! Scroll down and enjoy some photos!)
I started my 17th season camping at Crawford Notch General Store and Campground in Harts Location, NH. For the last 5 years our campsite has been the most popular site in the campground right on the banks of the Saco River. We pitched our tent Friday Night during a light drizzle and chilly winds as we watched the river rise a bit. The sun had set and our breathtaking view would have to wait until morning. We met the new owners of the campground and enjoyed an early evening in as we listened to the rain fall upon our tent.
We woke up Saturday morning to gorgeous blue skies, the rushing waters of the Saco and one stunning view. Rest assured we made it a point to reserve our site for Memorial Day 2009 which will be our 6th year in a row on this very location. And how could anyone resist!

After an our usual Egg McMuffin Breakfast we packed up our lunches and packs and headed for Pinkham Notch. Mount Washington was in the clouds today but when it poked out all we could see was snow cap. It is terribly late in the year for old George to be covered in snow. We parked at the 19-Mile Brook Trail Head and took 19 Mile Brook Trail Toward the summit of Wildcat "A". The 19-Mile Brook Trail is a rather mellow hiking trail which leads to the AMC's Carter Notch Hut and follows along the 19-Mile Brook. We encountered corn snow and melting snish just before the junction of the 19-Mile Brook and Wildcat Ridge Trails.. I'd say the las .3 miles to this junction was off and on patches of snow.
Trail Head


From the junction to the top of Wildcat A, we post-holed, we took our time and our patience was tested. Still plenty of snow here. We enjoyed a magnificent day on the summit with stiff chilly winds from the west. A glorious day for sure on Wildcat A and another peak-bagged.

We headed into North Conway where Sarah bought me lunch at a place called Rafferty's. Great food! A few beers later we were out and about walking around town. We went to EMS, IME, Joe Jones, The 5 and 10, The Railroad Station to see the trains and museum and the local Craft Fair to taste some jams. From here we headed back towards the notch, enjoyed views of the Presidential Range from Intervale and stopped for some Ice Cream at Trails End Ice Cream Shoppe. After Ice Cream, we headed back to camp where I took a nap near the river. When I woke up, I took my yearly baptism... A few years back I had an amazing dream heading into summer. I won't detail the dream here but every year since on this very weekend, I make it a point to dunk myself into the frigid snow melt waters of the Saco River as my sort of baptism for the new year. The feeling is not only chilly... but amazing!

We finished the night off with some Sish-Kabob, baked potato and corn on the cob all cooked over the open fire. Marshmallows and cool breezes before falling asleep to the sounds of the river.
We packed camp up early and enjoyed some pop-tarts for breakfast. We headed into Lincoln and Visited The Mountain Wanderer Bookstore where we spoke with knowledgeable hiker and author, Steve Smith. From here we headed to The Ravine Lodge Trailhead in Warren, NH where the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge is located and run by the Dartmouth OUting Club.

The above picture is my favorite of the weekend. I had heard that this was written at the trail register here... but hadn't seen it first hand. To think that some coward would take the time to write this, in pencil.. here... is down right hilarious! I can;t believe someone is sick enough to waste their time with this crap. Well hey... you know you've made it when....

We started this hike at the alpine time of 10am and enjoyed another mellow and leisurely hike to the spruce filled summit of Mount Jim. Temps were plenty warmer today in the whites as snow melted briskly. Only 3 patches of ankle deep snow along this trail to the top of Jim and it appeared that the rest of the way had plenty of snow for the wayward wanderer.

Brisk warm southerly winds buffeted the summit as the sun blazed from above. We enjoyed a few dunks in the frigid mountain stream and Sarah dunked my buff into the water to keep herself cool. Long stretches of mud and tons of moose poop. LOOK OUT!

Bottom to Top and top to Bottom.. 4 hours... we made sure we hit the high spot before turning back... and enjoyed the final hike down the old carriage road to the car hand in hand. Perfect end to a perfect weekend. I am now 3 peaks away from completing the Trailwrights 72 Peak-Bagging List. Upon completion, I will become the youngest person to do so.

Finally: Congrats to Paul Kearney and Nate Sanel on their performances this weekend.
Paul ran a 3:09 in this weekends Vermont City Marathon, qualifying for Boston. Paul has been impressive the last 4 weeks with some killer running. He ran the Wapack Trail Scouting Run, then ran the Wapack 50 Miler finishing in the top 10. He paced me 43 miles at Massanutten and then pulls of the 3:09.... WOW! Incredible effort Paul!
Nate reached his goal despite having some cramping issues at Pineland Farms in Maine. Nate ran the 50K in 4:56. Way to go Nate! Nate is now asses and elbows deep in a tough 4 week plan with me as we run part of the VT100 Course, Part of the Pittsfield Peaks course and then Pittsfield Peaks. The three of us will be well prepared for the VT100.

Happy Trails!