Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Weekend 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008
Hike: Mt. Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce
Who: SJ, Sarah, Howard, Drew

For the 16th Consecutive Year, I continued my tradition of carrying the American Flag to the summit of Mount Washington on the 4th of July Holiday Weekend. This year we hiked up via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail which starts just south of the Cog Railroad. We walked through a rather lush spruce forest climbing ever so gradually and later steeply to treeline. We passed many mountain streams and brooks which feed into the Ravine which afforded us with some amazing glimpses of flora and fauna. The weather was amazing! Temps at 4000+ feet was in the mid to upper 50's with a very light breeze. A cold front moved through the area the night before clearing the air of any haze or pollution. We could see as far as New York, the Atlantic Ocean, Canada.. simply spectacular.

After we left the AMC's Lakes of the Clouds Hut, we began our final approach up the Mt. Washington Summit Cone. I took the flag out as I have in years past and draped it around my shoulders for everyone above to see us coming. We later attached the flag to a hiking pole and used it as a flag pole. We continued to the summit, climbing to the summit sign where many by standers took photos of our small ceremony. I overheard someone in the crowd say "Nice touch." I agree. After summit photos and a walk around the deck, we headed inside for some food before we headed down over the Southern Presi's.

We headed down the Crawford Path which is the oldest maintained and used hiking trail in America. We made our way back down to Lakes, then went up and over Mount Monroe. As we headed towards Eisenhower, we met up with a familiar face we hadn't seen in awhile in our good friend Russ "McRat." Russ was carrying an American Flag himself as well as a hand bag filled with dry ice and ice cream sandwiches which were oh so yummy given the hot sun beating down on us for hours.

We then headed over Eisenhower where we saw a load of Cedar Logs stacked on the sides of the trail up high. One log had found its way standing up right with a heart engraved in its side. The heart said, Dr. Wu + Chomp. Nice touch! After wondering how the logs got there and what they were even for... (we know)... we headed on towards our final peak of the day, Pierce. We enjoyed the awesome views over the mountains along our way and sat atop the final peak with one final look back at what we had accomplished on our day of Independence.

Sunday, July 6, 2008
What: Pemi-Loop Fat Ass
Who: SJ, Bob Mathes, Tim Roy, Joe Holland
The Pemi-Loop was ranked #2 in Backpacker Magazines Toughest Day Hikes in the US. Pemi Loop. This starts at Lincoln Woods, and takes the Wilderness and Osseo trails to Franconia Ridge. Then it goes along the Franconia and Garfield Ridges, up the Twinway over South Twin to Guyot, then over the Bonds and back to Lincoln Woods by the Wilderness trail. The 31.5 Mile run has 9,160' of elevation gain. (18,000' +/- total).
My Previous Run Times:
2005 - 11:05
2006 - 10:02
2007 - 10:14
2008 - ???
I had no expectations for today's run. With the VT100 just 2 short weeks away, I wanted to get out for one last long run and use it for very specific training. The training would be foot placement, mental training, being alone, being hot and time on my feet. I accomplished all of these today. The MAIN concern for the run was finishing the run without being sore or with bruised feet so that I could properly continue to prepare for the VT100. This I also accomplished.
We all started at 7ish AM from the Lincoln Woods parking lot and stayed together until the first hill climb. The first climb is about 3,000' of up and these guys were taking to it. I was sucking wind hard for some reason while trying to catch up with them so I hung back and took my time. Once we reach Mt. Flume, the other 3 took off again and I chased. BY the time I got to Liberty I was zonked, sweating profusely and I was unsure if I was even going to be able to complete the loop. Finally from here to Lafayette we all stayed together at a nice and easy run/hike pace. The weather was HOT! As the sun baked the rocks, it felt like we were brick oven pizza's. It was hot and there was no wind. Not a lot of hikers out either. As we reached Lafayette, we stopped for photos and food before taking on the dreaded Garfield Ridge.

As we made our way around Garfield Ridge, we began to spread out a bit with myself being in last. I topped out on Mt. Garfield by myself and stopped for a photo opportunity.

Up ahead, one of the signs at a trail junction had been removed and tossed into the woods. This caused Tim to miss the right turn to continue along the ridge and instead he was running full steam with Metallica blaring in his ears down the wrong trail. Joe Holland chased after him as Bob Mathes and I retrieved the junction sign and rebuilt it in its proper location before we all continued along the ridge towards Galehead Hut. After a wonderful lunch break at the Hut, we all carried on up to South Twin, this .8 section of trail to the summit is sometimes referred to as the "Stairmaster from Hell." Once again the three speed demons left me in their dust and headed on without me. As I crested the top of the mountain, I saw them dump down into the woods along the Twinway. The Twinway is by far one of my favorite sections of trail. A high mountain spruce forest just littered with rocks. Everyone who thinks Massanutten is Rocky.. check out this pick of what we dealt with all day today. THESE are rocks..

We emerged from the woods out into the scrub lands of Mt. Guyot and hoped onto the Bondcliff Trail. This section of real estate is where I hope to make my final resting place. Simply humbling and stunning 360 degree views. I always get a little choked up at the beauty of this place.

I saw the boys head up and over Guyot ahead and I chased some more. I made my way up over Guyot myself and then up to Mt. Bond. I took more pictures as I heard voices below.

I still hadn't kicked it in much today so I felt now was the time. I wanted a photo on Bondcliff. SO I dumped down into the scrub and gave chase. As I left the trees and out onto the open ridge line, I looked ahead and saw the boys all ready climbing out of the col and towards the top of Bondcliff. I kicked it into gear and ran as hard as I could across the rocky ridge, twisting and turned and trying to not break anything. I envisioned myself wearing a helmet and pads. I reached Bondcliff just as they were leaving and I yelled for them to "wait!" If these mountains are your church, then the Bonds are the Cathedral and Bondcliff is the alter. Bob Mathes politely agreed to snap some shots for me and here is my favorite one:

We left the summit together but it didn't take long for them to take off once more. Either way, I continued to be patient and move down the mountain. As we ran further down into the valley I felt the temps quickly rise, it was a hot one down low. I was feeling great knowing I had done a great job today despite what my finishing time will be. I was patient, I was literal with my foot placement on the rocks, I was ok when alone and my confidence for the 100 is up. I reached the Wilderness TRail and ran/walked the rest of the way to the end. The boys finished around 10:10 and I pulled in with a 10:34.
I met Corrade in the parking lot but was too dazed and bushed to really talk with him. I hope he understands. I'd like to plan another Pemi-Loop for this year but well see what time allows us. If you haven't done one yet... TRY IT!
So.. thats it for training for the VT100. Its go time and I am READY!
Lets get pumped!