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!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Still Alive!

Yes yes I know I know.... where the hell did I go now?!

I still owe you a report from a wonderful weekend camping trip I took with Sarah a few weekends ago. After that...
Presi-traverse to finish the Trailwrights 72 Peakbagging List
5 Days of Backpacking In The Whites
And the 1/2 Move.

Stay tuned... I'm back for good now. School starts Monday and I'm itchin' to type!!

SJ

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..
video
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.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Home Again...

Wow.... I'm thinking that 9 days is probably the longest I've ever gone since joining the Blog-o-Sphere without making a post! "Where the hell ya been Sherpa?!" Thats a great question, one that I am delighted to answer. In the coming days I hope to get out a few reports for you on what I've been up to. And they are in the following order:

1.) Pemi-Backpackin': Sarah and I took a trip out to 13 Falls Tentsite in the Pemi-Wilderness.
2.) New 5K PR!!: I Ran in this years Cigna/Elliot 5K and ran a new PR time!
3.) North Country Ramblin': Spent the weekend in Crawford Notch and had a great time exploring a zip Line and Lost River.

So these are the stories that I hope to tell before I take off again, next week, for the Peak Race 666 Bike Race and 4 days of Backpacking in the Whites.

Viva La Summer!
SJ

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kinsman Pond Mystery??


(Photo From: http://peakbagger-paul.com/south_kinsman/south_kinsman3.htm)

What happened at Kinsman Pond sometime during the 1970's may or may not surprise you. Either way, the details surrounding the incident remain a mystery. Here's the story and my subsequent research:

A few winters ago while hiking with a friend in New Hampshire's White Mountains, we decided to summit both North and South Kinsman Mountains. After summiting South Kinsman and heading back to the North, we made the decision to bushwhack off of the col between the two peaks and down to Kinsman Pond. Along the way, my friend told me a tale involving Kinsman Pond and years later I grew intrigued. At the beginning of the summer I decided to try to research what happened. "Well What Happened?" you may be asking. Ok, I'll tell you...

On the easterly shore of Kinsman Pond is the Kinsman Pond Shelter. It offers a place of refuge and slumber for AT Hikers and weekend warriors. There used to be a latrine here, and one year the Appalachian Mountain Club began to undertake it's task of emptying the latrine of its contaminants. A helicopter was called in and the large containers which housed the human waste was being airlifted out of the location. Until... something broke mid flight... and the containers fell into and spilled into Kinsmand Pond. Thats right folks... all of you people who have either retrieved your drinking/cooking water from this pond or have swam in it... you guessed it.. you swam in a contaminated body of water.

So I began to wonder if the story was true or folk-lore and I began a summer long investigation into the incident. Here's how it turned out. I rehashed the story with the friend who originally told it to me. This person is a pretty reliable source of information having hiked all of New Hampshire's peaks multiple times. I'm certain they would want to remain anonymous so I'm going to leave it at that. But I will say that this person knows more about these mountains then most having lived here their entire life. I then turned to Steve Smith; editor of the AMC's White Mountain Guide, area historian and author of various other white mountain books detailing its infinite history. Steve is one of if not THE source for White Mountain info... and Steve also told me that the story is true...

So I called the AMC on the hunt for any kind of documentation for the case. In calling the AMC's Joy Street headquarters in Boston, I was bounced around from one person to the next. I spoke with 3 different people before finally being led to the AMC's Historical Archives. "I'll dig around and see if I can find anything. I'll call you at the end of the week." I received no call. Two weeks went by before I called her again... she had no information for me.. and when I told her Steve Smith said it had happened, she agreed that he was a reliable source. "But I'll keep looking for documentation and call you Monday." Monday came and went... never a call. I've called her twice since.. leaving messages to which I have received no reply...

So then I went to the Department of Environmental Science (DES)... I was tossed around to 2 different people there and they both had nothing. ON of those individuals has worked for the Department for over 30 years and recalls nothing of such an incident. An online search of water samples only indicates an overabundance of Sulfur and Magnesium in the water. Then I called the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development... nothing there. Then I went to the White Mountain National Forest, I was tossed around there before I was given the number to their historian. I told her of the story and she sounded more interested in snickering at me over the phone then actually helping me locate any information. She told me she'd look through their archives for documentation and that she'd call around and get back to me by the first of the following week. It's been a month since that phone call and I've called her twice and left two messages..

So I took a trip to the UNH Dimond Library to look into their collection of old AMC White Mountain Guides. My original source of this story told me that the 1969 AMC Guide stated something about using the water from Kinsman Pond as a place for reliable drinking water, then the 1973 edition stating that it no longer is potable. I had to find out for myself. So, to the collection I went and I sifted through copies of the AMC Guide Book dating all the way back into the 1930's, 19 years after the trail to Kinsman Pond was built by trail crews. All of the editions of the AMC Guide book stated the same thing. (See photo below) "The Pond Water Is Not Used For Drinking." This leads me to believe that the pond water was never actually used for drinking to begin with and that water was always found from a spring North of the Shelter.

So I returned an e-mail to Steve Smith to tell him of my findings and he still confidently asserts the helicopter incident did indeed take place. However, being that the world was a different place in the 1970's in regards to our environment, it is plausible to believe that documentation of the incident was ever created. My last hope is to sift through the Micro-fiche records at UNH of area Newspapers, a process that could take me the rest of my two years at the University. And I don;t care to know that badly.

So... two very reliable sources indicate that the incident took place however there is no actual evidence of the contamination. I however do find reason to believe that the AMC and The WMNF have decided to ignore my requests for information by not returning my calls in a way to continue the silence about what happened at Kinsman Pond. Mystery or Cover Up? I'll let you decide the next time you go for a high mountain swim or hope to filter out a drink.

(If anyone has any information about the events questioned in this post.. please post below. If you know of where I can find documentation, I'd appreciate your assistance.)

Happy Trails
SJ

Monday, August 3, 2009

Today....

Today certainly is something isn't it? It's not tomorrow and yesterday has all ready come and gone. Today could be something potentially so powerful that it changes your perspective, your train of thought. Today is everything. Tomorrow is nothing without today and today is just a caustic resemblance of what went down yesterday. And today, this day, my perspective changed.

I woke up early this morning. I didn't feel well. I stayed up for a few hours and then slowly crawled back into bed. I fell back to sleep and woke up sometime around lunch. I showered, ate and went about my day. Made it to the doctors, made it back home.. and went back to laying in bed. And then the argument ensued. As I laid in bed I gazed out my window at the hot setting sun. "I should be running." Monday's are typically my rest day... but I've had 2 weeks worth of rest days. Since the Vermont 100 I've gone on a 6 mile hike with a professor from school.. and a 10 mile run last week in the middle of the hottest day of the year. "I'll go out tomorrow when I'm supposed to." Tomorrow... yeah, that same tomorrow I keep hearing about from the "others." That same group of people that get up in the morning, go to work, come home and plop their butt down in front of the television with a TV dinner. The same people that have an abnormally long list of I can'ts and I won'ts and is usually topped off with that ever audible.. "Maybe Tomorrow." I got angry... my legs twitched, my back twitched... "screw tomorrow! It starts TODAY." I rolled out of bed, again, and got dressed, put the watch on and walked for the door. I stepped off the front step.. and it started all over again...

As I ran down the road I started thinking about the past year again. The first thought was, where was I this time last year. Memories of having a rough August (2008), walking and staggering through a local 5K to find out in September that I was anemic. And then I stopped again..."That was yesterday... screw yesterday... it's today." But what about tomorrow? What will tomorrow bring? I kept running and thinking. What I've really spent the last 6 or 7 months doing is struggling to train for the Vermont 100. I toed the line at that race, under-prepared, but prepared enough to get it done. Then I thought, "It's been a few months since I wrote a monthly recap of my running on my blog" So here it is, the months I missed, all at once.
May=148.7 Miles in 7 Runs
June=162.3 Miles in 8 Runs
July=170 Miles in 11 Runs
I knew when I was thinking about it that the numbers were low. The May Number includes one 100 Mile Race. So does the July Number... I knew the number was low, but in looking at it now, I feel nothing but disgust. Disgust in knowing that I haven't tried harder, that I didn't train harder, that I didn't run more. And then I ask myself why... and the answer is clear. Because I'm turning back into my former self. That former self where I spend more time thinking about yesterday, waiting for tomorrow, and ignoring today. But let me tell you something... today was THE day.

I kept running and started thinking about what Nate said after the Vermont 100. I don't remember it verbatim right now, but it was something along the lines of knowing that I shouldn't have finished in sub 24. I both agreed and disagreed with what Nate said. He was right... I really made it hard for myself to accomplish my goal. But the bottom line is that I proved once again that you can do anything you put your mind to regardless of your level of training. It was never my goal to run fast, it was simply my goal to get in under 24 hours. "Slow and steady..." And then I catch myself again... thinking about yesterday. So the turning point happened today on my sluggish 4 mile run. It felt sluggish but I still hammered out average 8:45 min/miles. But the transition is here... it's time... instead of thinking about yesterday... yesterday is how I think about what was or was not done, what was said or what hasn't been said... I thought about today and I thought about tomorrow differently.

You see, tomorrow.. isn't an excuse word today. Tomorrow, is what I'm thinking about. Tomorrow is when I get to run again. Tomorrow is when I take a few more steps towards my next goal. We all need goals. I need goals. I have goals. I'm behind in achieving some goals, I just might be ahead in achieving others. But either way, tomorrow is today. A few months ago my name was selected in a special two time loser lottery for entrants into the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Some names were selected to participate in 2010, others for 2011. I've been trying to get into that race for 4 years now. I've all ready qualified by running my race, I've all ready done the volunteer hours... I just need to sign up and fork over the cash. Tomorrow, I continue training towards my next goal. For the last 4 years I've told those who dared to ask, "Do you think you'll buckle?" that I'm NOT going all the way to California to NOT get one of those buckles. And today I realized that to get there, to achieve the goal, I need to start working now. Working now because I know I'm in WS100, I'll run the VT100 a month later as I try to go 4 for 4 for sub 24 Hour finishes... damn, I'll need to be trained to run back to back sub 24 hour 100's... and then I kept thinking... why not sign up for Leadville next year and run the Grand Slam? There's no better time in my life then now.

I started running 100 milers in 2007. Since then I've run the distance 10 times. Certainly I know of individuals who have run many more in the same time span then I. I know many more who have run less, but they trained much harder then I have in running what I've run. A part of me really feels guilty. Guilty because I think I've taken advantage of the gift to be able to do what I do. Guilty because I've taken advantage of my sport and in turn, it's people. I don't know what my future holds, but I know it's up to me. Yesterday is gone.. and as I write this... so is today. Tomorrow is almost here. I've got many miles to go between now and June 2010 but I know that somehow, some way... I'll feel even better at Placer High School Track knowing I worked harder for one award then I'll have for all the rest.

Tomorrow... is... today...

Run on
Sherpa John

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy 60th Dad


(Really Cool Cake My Sister Made)
July 31st was my fathers 60th Birthday. He spent his Birthday weekend in the place better known as Fenway South, or as some of you call it Camden Yards in Balitmore Maryland. He went to the Red Sox vs. Orioles games on Friday and Saturday Nights. Believe it or not, when it comes down to it, it costs about the same to pay for airfare AND tickets to an orioles game as it does to buy a ticket for a game at Fenway Park. Actually.. I think all told, the price of airfare and tickets to two games equaled the amount that bleacher seats go for at Fenway Park. An exceptional Deal!

At any rate, dad returned home this morning to host us at his house for his birthday party. My dad and I share a lot of the same values when it comes to life and one of the biggest values is that of always being a kid. Its what keeps us happy and healthy. So, for I don't know how many years now a water fight has become tradition on my dads birthday. It all started as your basic squirt gun fight but over the years its evolved into an all out war. This year, Sarah and I spent over an hour filling over 100 balloons with water and then putting them into a cooler filled with ice. Those were some cold balloons! The array and collection of water guns has grown to immense levels as well. Every year someone seems to have a new one, an extra one, a bigger one and a few more extra guns. My dad had his huge gun which carries about a gallon of water in its tank... then he hid 3 others under the tarp covering his wood pile. It was a great time. So hey... Happy 60th Birthday Dad!
(The Water Warriors)

(Playing a Summer Time Favorite... Horseshoes)

(Blowing the Big 60 Out... he only blew one out and he blew it over)