Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rocks Part 3: Running The Wapack

On Saturday, May 3, 2008; a group of us ran South to North on New Hampshire's historic Wapack Trail. What we encountered along the way was nothing less than classic New Hampshire terrain and the rocks I love to run on.

I woke up to the sound of rain crashing hurriedly against the window. Sarah is well asleep and I jumped up before the alarm to allow her some continued rest. Packing the night before allowed me some extra Z's. I drove the hour to Concord arriving at Nate's for 7am "Sherpa Time" (7:15) and we loaded into his Jeep for the 45 minute drive to Peterborough, NH. We met up with Steve and Deb Pero at the Miller State Park lot at 8:15 and waited patiently from Paul Kearney, who was driving from Burlington, VT to arrive. From here we travelled North to the other side of the Pack-Monadnocks where we dropped off our cars and squeezed precariously into Steve's Pick-up and headed South.

We stopped at a road crossing near the base of the old Windblown ski area to drop off food an water for our make-shift aid station before making it to Asburnham, MA at the Southern Start/Terminus of the Trail at the Mount Watatic Lot. This is where we would begin our days adventure. The entire trip here rain came down softly and in torrents and continued to spit as we poured out of Steve's truck. All ready waiting for us was Bogie D, RD for next weekend's Wapack Trail Races, and another runner named Melanie. Mel seemed a bit preturbed by the weather and was all ready talking about taking a short jaunt up the trail before heading for home. A wise choice on this gloomy Saturday.

We began our journey North on the Wapack Trail. From Watatic to Old Mountain Rd is 21 Miles of rocks, roots and mud. To learn more about this historic trail, I invite you to visit The Friends Of The Wapack. It was raw damp and cold this morning with the temps hovering around 39 degrees. When the wind blew it cut right through you. I was dressed in shorts, but kept warm through moving and my layers of upper body tech-whick. My buff helped keep the wind off my neck and even kept my ears warm no matter how ridiculous I looked.

The trail was an awesome mix of single track trail, logging roads, old ski slopes and snowmobile/atv trails. The rain from the last week has literally saturated the trail and left many standing puddles and pockets of slick mud throughout. It is certain to be muddy still for next weeks race and its this thought that has me wishing runners well. The other portions of the trail consist of lichen covered rock slabs which make for careful foot placement on slimy slopes; jumbles of rocks and entanglements of ancient root systems. We ran over and along beaver ponds, through backwoods backyards, up gravel roads and through rock walls constructed by revolutionary settlers and their teams of oxen.

As we climbed the first mountain to run along the ridge, the wind picked up and chilled us to the bone. The temp only rose to about 41 degrees with 20+ MPH winds that were at most gusty. A constant breeze kept us cool. The drizzle kept us raw and the off and on shoers questioned our sanity. Regardless of the weather, the Eight of us present (Myself, Nate Sanel, Jeff Waldron, Greg Stone, Paul Kearney, Bogie D, Steve and Deb Pero) enjoyed the training run immensely as we all prepare for our next adventures. Not far into the run we met up with Greg Stone who had run from the Northern Terminus to meet us at the South. With 21 miles under his belt on the day, he would head back with us for 21 more making his total run on the Wapack 42 Miles. Greg is an extraordinary athlete and gifted runner for sure. He told us that when he started at 5am, it was snowing on North Pack Monadnock.

The rockiest section of our journey has to have been Pack Monadnock and North Pack Monadnock as our pace was slowled to a delicate walk as we tried hard to not slip and fall with the prospect of breaking a tail bone. The lichen and mosses on the rocks, when wet, provide for some pretty slick travel. While descending Pack Mondanock on our way North, I slipped on some mud and fell to my rear end. As this happened I took a spruce sappling to the groin area that did a great job at scraping my left inner thigh, left hammy and left teste. The boys took a picture of the end result of the fall but not the injury (thankfully). It was not very comfortable but funny none-the-less.

I had a great time out on the trail with everyone. We certainly know how to make each other laugh and catch each other off guard with a good time. Its training days like this, over rugged terrain, in the mountains and adding time on our feet that make this hobby so worth while. The Wapack Trail will see me again under better conditions. Overall the course is amazing. I can see a few places where one could get lost if they didn't pick their head up, but it should never really be an issue that would cause you to be lost for hours on end.

The run brought us over the following peaks (Watatic, Pratt, New Ipswich, Barrett, Burton, Temple, Pack Monadnock and N. Pack.) for a total of over 5,100 feet of elevation gain and 5,000 feet of loss. The 21 miles took us 5 Hours and 55 Minutes to complete. Its days like today on rocks like these that I'll bring with me to MMT. Check out Nates Garmin readings by clicking HERE.

To see more photos of our run click HERE.