Monday, August 31, 2009

Crawford Notch Camping

August 15-16, 2009
Crawford Notch, NH
(Hale's Location)

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Sarah and I had decided to take a weekend and head North. The purpose of our camp out was to get us closer to Mount Adams for my big Adams 4 finish. However, once again, our plans were changed by some outside factor. This time, it was Sarah's Knee. With the hike called off we decided to take advantage of the hot sticky weather in the best way that we knew how. With a good ole fashion car camping trip.

We drove North on Route 16 and headed for Hart's Location. Once we got there we visited our Favorite Swimming hole where you could find me laying on the rocks, eating watermelon, diving into the freezing cold Saco River and just soaking up some rays. We had a blast as always at one of our favorite spots.
(Soaking In The Sun)

(Diving In!)

(The Happy Couple)

Once the sun made enough of a turn around the globe, we headed for camp. I've been camping at the Crawford Notch General Store and Campground for over 15 years now. First with my father, then alone and now with Sarah. We've spent many weekends here in the past and at times even whole weeks while on vacation. We tried out a new campsite near the road. But the road wasn't nearly as noisy as our camper neighbors who broke out into argument where we over heard the word divorce and much loud crying... at least I think it was crying unless that was the distant cry of a chupacabra. Either way, I started a fire to get ready to cook dinner.
(The Fire)

And now I will share with you all my instructions for how to make one kick ass meal in the fire pit. The Aluminum Foil Dinner.
First, Lay out a piece of aluminum foil flat onto the picnic table.

Place a hunk of meat, sized to your stomachs liking, in the center of the foil. Make sure you mold it like you would a regular hamburger patty. (Adding a dab of butter under the meat wad is optional)

Then, dice some potatoes and carrots and drop them on top of and around the meat patty. Do the same with 1/4 of an onion.

Now simply fold the unused sections of foil over to create a nice little bundle of goodness. You should wrap the bundle up with another piece of foil to ensure that the meal is safely intact while cooking in the fire pit.
As an added bonus and compliment to the meal, We've wrapped a few ears of corn with the husks still on to be placed in the fire as well. (Guess which meal is mine??)

Place the corn and meals into the fire right on top of the hot coals and do your best to ensure the fire surrounds the meals to ensure equal cooking times. When you think it's cooked long enough (15-20 minutes), remove the meals from the fire and open to check. The meat should be cooked, the taters and carrots soft and the steam billowing out. Add your favorite sauce to compliment the food and mangia!

The Next Morning I made Egg and Cheese Sandwiches on Toast. I added Pepperoni to the sandwiches for a little kick. They tasted great. Sarah took some photos while I cooked on the stove.


(What The Food Sees As I Slay It)

After breakfast we packed up our things and headed for Bretton Woods. When we got here we decided to inquire about the Canopy Tours. After hearing that it was $110 per person... we decided to just enjoy the 30 second, $15 per person Zip Line Ride. We raced each other down the mountain on the Zip Lines and unfortunately for me.. Sarah Won.

From here we made our way around the mountains to the other side... Lincoln, NH. We enjoyed some shopping at Lahouts Bargain Outlet, Stopped in tot see our old friend Steve Smith at The Mountain Wanderer Book Store and then headed up Route 112 to check out The Lost River Gorge. LRG is the oldest tourist attraction in the white mountains and I'd never been there in all my life. So Sarah and I spent the $14 each and enjoyed exploring the caves of Lost River.




(Can You Find The Humming Bird?)

So in the end, I never got to hike Adams 4 but I did get to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of the White Mountain National Forest. We had a great time, soaked in some sun, enjoyed the water, enjoyed camp, and enjoyed some extracurriculars. Another fine weekend to be alive!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cigna/Elliot 5K - NEW PR!

Thursday, August 13, 2009
Manchester, NH
Cigna/Elliot 5K

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A few times now my father has signed me up to run in the Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K in Manchester, NH on behalf of the Velcro USA Team. I showed up at Veterans Park about as close to race time as I could possibly be. The team ran over to line up for a photo so I ran in to. The girl from HR asked me what I was doing and I told her I was on her team, "No you're not!" Oh yes I am... and by the looks of it.. I was gonna be the fastest runner from Velcro as well. My father introduced me, we turned, smiled and the photo was taken. Now I was fired up.. just what I needed.

Not long after we all walked over to the holding area. Runners are separated into Waves according to their skill level. My dad signed me up as a recreational runner rather then a competitive runner. This was spot on given my horrible performance here last year when I first discovered problems with anemia. This was also heavy on my mind. I had a goal... I wanted to break 20 minutes... I wanted to PR... and i knew I was gonna have to work for it. Luckily Adam Wilcox was there as well, and I lined up in the corral with him. Adam also wanted to break 20 minutes and I knew he had a better chance than I considering his training ethics. So we lined up together in anticipation of the start of what would be Adams first ever 5K and my shortest race of the year.

It is AMAZING the wide array of runners (and their styles) that show up. With the "LESS THAN 2 MINUTES!" Announcement, the crowd begins to run in place, jump up and down, finishes final stretches and gets that raised eyebrow "WTF?" look from Adam and I. It's just way too much to handle... I can;t wait for it to start but first... The National Anthem...

And off we go, headed down Elm Street in Manchester... I try to chase Adam but he got a good jump out of the gate finding his way through the mob. Over 4,000 runners show up for this race and its tough to weave through the people at the beginning. I try to keep an eye on Adam in my periphery and I do pretty well. I weave my own way through the crowd and happen upon the clock for the 1 mile Mark.. it reads 6:38. I now realize that I had a decision to make. Decide that I'm going too fast, ease off and coast in... or hang on tight and go for the PR. I pull the visor on my hat down tight and I decide to hang on. I glance up one more time and Adam is lost in the mix. As I round the corner at the turn I spot Jessica Fleming.. a girl I went to High School with... she was all smiles and it was great to see her. I turn the corner and run through the one aid station on the course, grabbing a cup of water to use only to cool myself in the heat of the evening.

I take the next turn onto Canal Street and start looking for the cleanest line into Mile two. My breathing is heavily labored and I'm starting to tighten up. I squeeze off the throttle just a bit and look ahead for the clock at Mile 2.. 13:14. Mile 2 was faster than 1... I did quick math and knew I needed to run one more sub 7 minute mile to break 20. I take a mental check of my status and i realize its going to be tight. I look ahead for Adam but I don't see him. I only see people who merely look like him. I try to kick it into a pace for a bit knowing when I'd make my final surge. A runner comes up beside me and we start running stride for stride together. I felt like I was racing him and I started to get winded... I backed off and let him go.. I should have stuck with him. Up ahead I see the street sign for Middle street. I settle in, reach the road and I kick it in. With extra steps and legs flailing I look ahead and see Adam... he turns up Merrimack Street for the finish... the only hill on the course. I take the turn and kick it in even more... I'm dying to catch Adam... I push, tears stream down my face, my eyes close, my arms pump, my legs pound the pavement harder then it ever has before.... I can't breathe, I get dizzy, I throw up in my mouth a little.. I look ahead and watch Adam cross the line in under 20 minutes... and then the clock hits 20. I slow off and literally collapse across the line in a new PR time of 20:04. I missed sub 20 minutes by just 4 seconds... but I didn't care... I had just run 3 miles faster then I ever had before. Not bad for a 100 mile slow poke.

I came in 2nd place on The Velcro USA Team
Chip Time: 20:04
Pace: 6:28 Min/Miles
Place: 286 out of 4,950
Div: 28 out of 273 (Males 25-29)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pemi-Backpackin'


Sarah and I slept in, as usual, before finally loading up the car and heading North on Saturday August 8th. I've been planning all year to get out and do more backpacking, more exploring and now was my chance. It's always great to bring Sarah along, it's nice for us to be able to get back out into the mountains together. Its been way too long and the mountains is where we built our relationship over the course of time. Sarah isn't necessarily accustomed to the whole backpacking thing, but of course she is all in when it comes to spending some time in the woods.

We left the Lincoln Woods parking area after having a brief conversation if one of the Forest Rangers. The topic of discussion was of course Owls Head. Over the last few years, I've really taken some time to hear the forest services side of an on going and ridiculously old argument involving the mountain. What I heard really upset me. Stories of trees being spray painted on what is known as the Easy Bushwhack in the Whites. Over 60 trees being damaged by someone blazing their own trail up the mountain... and word of a new sign being placed on the summit. Regardless of the discussion, we threw on our heavy packs (30+ pounds) and headed into the Pemi Wilderness.

There is nothing new about the hike out towards Owls Head. We walked along the old railroad beds of J.E. Henry's logging railroads, East Branch and Lincoln. The trail is flat for as far as the eye can see, only raising grade ever so slightly as it weaves its way through the valley. We passed by a few other early morning hikers making their way to the Franconia Falls swimming hole. When we got to first wide river crossing, Sarah and I switched into our water shoes. Sarah her old EMS shoes and me in my crocs. We waded through the knee deep water as it rushed on by... it was FREEZING! We walked for a few miles in our water shoes, resorting to not wasting our time with taking shoes off and putting them back on. We ran into a solo female hiker and we started some nice conversation with her. She asked if we were from the area, we replied with the honest answer before she finally realized she had seen Sarah and I in a movie. We exchanged more pleasantries before continuing on.

After the last crossing before the Owls Head Slide, Sarah and I switched back into our Hiking boots (me in my sneakers). Our backs were killing us and we were getting rather tired. Attempting the summit of Owls Head was long out of the question. It was getting late and we wanted to ensure a camping spot out at 13 Falls Tentsite. As we moved along we smelled a foul odor. We caught word of a dead moose up Owls Head slide, I grabbed my camera and went for a look. I reached the moose at the base of the slide.. still rather intact but with many decomposing bugs amongst it's hide.. I couldn't bring myself to taking a photo. I looked at it intriguingly before moving along. What really struck me at the bottom of the slide was the "up" arrow that had been hacked into a spruce tree. I was so appalled by someone's actions that I was left speechless (more on this later)..

We continued North along the Lincoln Brook Trail into uncharted territory for us. I'd never been on this trail past the slide and it showed as Sarah and I quickly lost the trail and found ourselves wandering through a tangle of herd paths looking for the actual trail. We stumbled upon a pretty stellar campsite, though it was far too close to the river, and soon relocated the actual trail. We weaved our way along the trail, following the river to its beginning. The trail turned into a real quagmire of mud and muck. We lost the trail one or two more times and we grew ever more tired as we pushed along. Before long we made it to the height of land and began our descent towards 13 Falls while walking through what was perhaps the most stunning Birch Forest I'd ever been in. It was simply remarkable.

We both staggered about as we continued to tire. Our day was nearing 11.5 miles with the heavy packs on. The sun setting and our need to set up camp and cook dinner. We were having a great time though Sarah was getting a bit tired and rather quiet. She started to stumble and fall a bit... and the miles only seemed to get longer. We soon found ourselves walking along the river once more enjoying the views of various waterfalls that flowed into deep frigid pools. It was such a fascinating place. We finally made it to the tent site where we set up shop, paid the caretaker and set off to cook dinner. Only one problem... we forgot the fuel for the stove. DOH! We begged a fellow hiker to borrow some of his fuel to which he obliged. We were saved! We cooked an amazing Chicken and Teriyaki Rice meal, ate some soft chocolate chip cookies, enjoyed some star gazing and then headed off to bed. It was a chilly yet comfortable night and the sleeping was to die for.

We woke up Sunday morning and packed up camp. We ruined our Oatmeal by adding sugar free Kool Aid mix. I twas too damn bitter. We ate what we could before doing dishes. We loaded up our packs, walked them down the trail and then dropped them down. We headed back towards the waterfalls for some pictures and yes... even for some swimming. I won't tell you how cold it was because I can't possible describe it. I'll just say that when I hit the water, I gasped while under neath it and got a mouth full of liquid. It was breathtaking for sure. Brrr..

We loaded up our packs once more and began to long 8.5 mile walk out on the old railroad grades to the parking lot. The walk out was fast yet filled with great conversation. We bonded well on the hike and had a wonderful time. The Pemi is full of numerous hidden gems and I highly recommend anyone in the area take a little adventure of their own. I love the pemi and I only hope to begin creating my next film on the area I've grown to love.