20070623 - Willey Range/Ethan Pond Loop

The MPM and Treadmill ended up staying in Mass, and tMail headed out to test run the route for his Tri tomorrow. So I ended up doing the Willey Range (Mt. Field, Mt. Willey) and dropping down to the Ethan Pond trail (taking the A-Z trail back up and over the col between Mt. Tom and Mt. Willey.

I packed light, using my little Black Diamond bag (1.5L water) and no poles. I stuck with my lightweight long-sleeve Patagonia top, running shorts and my Solomon light trail runners and a headsweat, spare socks and top. Man - the top of the ridge was in the fog, windy and I don't know the temperature but it was COLD! The summit of Mt. Washington was below freezing and using a lapse rate of 5° per 1,000', that would put the temp around 40°. No shit. I didn't have gloves and while I kept my core up (barely), my hands got so cold that they were ... uh ... cold. I actually tried to avoid touching rocks which hadn't warmed up from the previous night. That was a challenge on Mt. Avalon, which has a bare rock summit with a steep scramble. Everything on that ridge was cold and wet, with high winds and blowing fog.

The rain over the last few days had left everything slick, muddy and wet, so the slowest parts of the trail were the steep ascents and descents. One exception to that is the A-Z trail, which was muddy and slick w/ complex footing (roots and mossy rocks) and the vegetation crowding in from both sides (actually touching) - so there was a lot of bobbing and weaving. On the other hand, the Ethan Pond trail is flat and fast. I'm sure I ran sections at a 9min pace (the first 5 miles or so have numerous split-log bridges to keep you above the marsh - they were in good shape, but slick).

I didn't bring a camera but did make mages from data collected on my Suunto altimeter log and also from my mapping software. The images are posted here. One image shows average speed in two different plots:

  • Cumulative Avg Speed: This is the average speed up to that point on the trip. Once you get near the end it's hard to change the cumulative average by much. I ended with an average 3.1 mph for the trip.
  • Interval Avg Speed: The trip is divided into about 1/2 dozen intervals and this plot shows the average speed for the interval leading up to that point. For example the entire Ethan Pond segment averaged about 4mph (a 15min pace).
I wanted to run it under 6hrs (16.3 miles including a .2mi RT to Thoreau Falls) and I did (5:15). I might be able to run it sub-5hr in drier conditions. I stopped once to change my top to sleeveless and stopped a few times to snack (only a few minutes each time - maybe 5 at the Falls, which were quite stunning). Total elevation gained: ~4,700'

Note to anyone doing this route: The time I showed is actual watch time (no deductions have been made for any reason). The route included a side-trip to the summit of Avalon (a 100yd scramble up bare rocks, a look around, and a careful descent); a 0.1 mile side-trip out to Thoreau Falls, including eating a banana and some trail mix and inching out to the edge of the falls and checking it out - well worth it).


  1. MZ sounds like you had a monster day. You can hit that way under 5 hours on dry stuff, I would put money on that as well.

    I quickly read this but will re-read tomorrow at some point. Going to bed want to get a good night sleep. I drove the bike section of the course today hills and a good amount. Lake is really nice.

    MPM and Treadmill got in about 16-18 miles on Double Blue Hills Traverse....shit I rode my bike 6 miles today and sway 1/4 mile to make sure all pistons were firing.

    I will catch up...can't wait until the next pain train.

  2. you'll kick on the tri. i've seen you move and it's not for the faint of heart. keep us posted.

  3. 16-18 miles in the blue hills? are they insane? as the MPM would say: "they're ANIMALS!"

  4. The legs feel like logs today but we are not too much worse for the wear.

    Some things I learned yesterday at the Blue Hills...

    1) Running 16+ miles on a sprained ankle sucks. Really sucks.

    2) Looking behind you to check for your wife is not a good idea (yeah, a nice digger!)

    3) If that was 16-ish miles, what is 30+ going to feel like?!

    4) Vasque trail runners rock and are sticky for the slabby sections

    5) Chafage... I need to figure out a better short system. The boys and the upper thighs were not happy!

    6) The nipples are just as happy in band-aids and wearing an EMS Techwick shirt as they are in a sausage skin.

    7) Running in nice weather is nice but it's tough to keep the hydration on track.

    8) Camelback versus 2-bottle waist pack... hmmmm?

    9) Food - gels get the job done on the trail

    10) Chili and a chicken and pepperoni deli sandwich makes a kick ass post-run meal!

  5. MPM - sounds like a big day out!

    i'm going with the bandaids and shaved boobies. it doesn't take long to grow out (the hair, that is).

    My black diamond pack is pretty good, but the shoulder straps tend to touch my neck because i cinch the straps up real tight to prevent shifting. My hip belt only holds a single 16oz bottle - but that may be enough. I'm going to test drive my wife's LLBean fanny pack (w/ 2-bottle architecture).

    yeh, 32 miles is a lot to walk, nevermind run/trot/stumble. I'm going for another speed hike on wednesday and same with next weekend. I don't think training for more than 16 miles or so has any benefit - at least I'm not going to bother. I'll finish that thing in however long it takes me. My goal time is 10hrs on the dot.