2009 Solo Pemi

Trip Report: This is my third pemi, and I have to say that I'm really getting to like them a lot. As MadDog pointed out on our last trek to Carrigain, my familiarity with the route and rhythms means that all that's left is just doing it.

  • Because a sub-12 is a reasonable time, that's a lot less hours on foot than doing it as a hike with a big pack - which can approach 24hrs. That's a long time to be banging out the miles. Shortening it to 12 takes a lot of energy, but my feet and joints don't hurt - just my muscles.
  • The run in on the 4.4 miles to the Bondcliff Trail junction takes less than an hour and is very pleasant. Once you enter the Pemi the trail is narrow, scenic and fast. In the early morning, even if headlamps are used, the woods are quiet, the noise of the river is always present and if the timing is right, the birds are waking and singing.
  • It's not until South Twin that the pace slows. The descent to the hut is steep and slow and because of footing, it stays slow until after Garfield. It can be frustrating because the pace is really just a hike - almost the entire section from S. Twin to Lafayette. There are some brief runnable sections, but you have to treat it as a hike to a large degree.
  • Garfield and the Garfield Ridge trail were always a 'most hated' section for me. Garfield hides Lafayette and looms so large from Galehead Hut that my first time I thought it WAS Lafayette. It's approached with multiple steep ascents, none of which (except the last) are really the final ascent. This time, I was ready for it and the summit wasn't that hard to get to.
  • Garfield has some other problems: From S. Twin, it's probably a 1500' loss of elevation. You have to climb nearly 1000' back up to Garfield, then drop almost 1000', then climb back up nearly 1500' to Lafayette. That's a tremendous amount of elevation lost and gained. I haven't added it carefully, but it looks like roughly 2200' lost and 2400' gained. That section right there is what most hikers would do on a typical day hike. And it falls RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the Pemi. That, and the fact that the trail is so slow is what makes that section such a bitch.
  • Oh yeah, and don't forget that the ascent to Garfield near the top is up a brook where you have to climb on the wet rocks. And the descent is on the bare, wet, tilted slabs.
  • Lafayette's false summits are annoying, but being mentally prepared is huge. The Skookumchuck trail hits the ridge just below the summit (in terms of elevation), but there are still 0.8 miles to go. The junction of those two trails is almost surprising because of how high up it is - but you're not there yet. My first time I thought I was within 5 minutes of the summit and was in complete disbelief when I saw "Summit - 0.8 miles".
  • The descent from Haystack, Liberty & Flume all have very steep sections initially. If you're pressed for time, be prepared to have to go real slow in those sections. The surface coming down from Flume is gravel, sand and loose rock. Also, after a long section on Osseo that is runnable, the trail turns into a set of well-built (but slow) stairs. After some slow footing below those, it opens up quite a bit.
  • There are only two sections that are runnable (as compared to trotting or just moving quickly): From the Lincoln Woods Campground to the Bondcliff Trail junction (4.4 mi) and the last 4-ish miles of the Osseo/Lincoln Woods back to the parking lot. If you want to make good time, you have to run those at like an 8.5 min pace or better. There are some sections of the Osseo above the stairs that have to be run as well. Everywhere else it's just a weird combination of hurrying and hiking with a little trot now and then.
  • Be prepared for a difficult ending. Running the Osseo is easy in terms of footing - but it's at the very end of a grueling day. You may have blisters, sore muscles, sharp pains in the knees and/or hips, dehydration, cramping, etc. but you've got to hammer and hammer hard for time. Luckily, it's all downhill but don't forget that the last 1.5 miles is almost perfectly flat. Even though it'll only take you 12-15 minutes, it's an eternity with aches and pains.
  • Water: I started well hydrated and only consumed about 0.75L by Galehead Hut. I drank deeply at the hut and then filled my 2L reservoir. I finished that off ascending the Osseo and decided that it was really cutting it close because I still had a good 40 minutes of hard running w/ no water.
  • Food: I consumed 2 gel flasks of Perpetuem (w/ some gel mixed in and water to make a paste), two clementines (a great idea), a bottle of Boost, a small handful of homemade trail mix including raw oatmeal and peanuts, 12 e-caps.

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