20070610 - Spring In the Air

What, spring in the air? And fall in the lake? Hellfire and damnation! What with our funky schedules, rain and crazed lunatics running through the streets it's been hard to get back into the hills. But the hills beckon and we hear their siren call. I could use a good refresher on how to hike. For a route, I'm still thinking of the route posted on last week's post (see below).

Because Saturday is looking pretty showery, I'm shooting for a Sunday launch, if indeed anything gets off the ground this weekend at all. (The MWO is reporting a forecast for Saturday of showery/thunderstormy conditions so I'm cool w/ avoiding the high spots or indeed being stuck outdoors all day in the rain.)

Update 6/10, 2pm:
The skies were grey but it was almost 65°F when I left Danville this morning. As soon as I got into NH, the dogs and cats started falling and driving on 93 was a mess. I almost stopped and bought a used canoe. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of hiking in a complete downpour so made the decision to bag the Mt. Hale/Zeacliff hike, shaving 4 miles or so by just doing the old standard of Falling Water/Bridal Path.

But there's a punchline coming, so first the setup:

I had my mini-backpack w/ me (a little Black Diamond thing w/ space for a bladder and a little cargo). I had a windbreaker and windpants and a cap in the pack, but was wearing running shorts & tank top because it as pretty warm when I left home, and some light trail runners (MPM, they were my blue Solomons like you had at the relay). I sat in my car at the trailhead parking area (the usual spot, across from the Lafayette Campground) for almost 40 minutes waiting for the rain to let up. It was miserable - but at least I was in the car. After about 30 minutes is seemed like it was tapering off, so I went and took a piss in the woods, got soaked from rain, and sat in the car w/ the heat blasting for another 5 or 10 minutes. Other cars were pulling in and hikers were setting off w/ full rain-gear. Eventually I headed out too. Fucking rain. I figured I'd be generating a lot of heat so I'd take my chances. Good bet. That EMS TechWick rocks. But wait, there's more...

Okay, so you know how I like to complain, right? Well, the trail was soaked, the rain was falling (but tapering off) and the trees were dripping. Stream crossings were challenging (although not that bad), but I didn't have poles. The whole way up Falling Water I kept thinking "crap, I want to push it but don't seem to be making much headway. this sucks." I felt like I just didn't have fully charged batteries and I kept thinking about g-$$$'s email about his "triathalon". Plus, I was hiking in running water, squishy mud and slippery rocks. Oddly, the fact that I was blowing by other hikers seemed to escape me - probably because my left knee was acting up and my shoulders were aching (I spent 7 hours saturday weed-whacking the fence-line, picking rocks for some landscaping and digging a 120sq ft garden)... waaaaaahhhhhh!

Well, the ridge was socked in with dense fog - no wind and only faint drizzle (if any). It was really damp. On the way down, the sun actually came out (or rather, I descended out of the cloud-enshrouded summits) and it was warm, muggy, buggy, wet, slippery and muddy.

Did you get all the whining? Does it sound like a bad day? After all the complaining, it turns out I broke 3 personal records:

Car door to Ridge via Falling Water: 1:15 (beat previous record by 7 minutes)
Franconia Ridge to Lafayette: 0:36 (don't have a prior PR)
Lafayette Summit to Car: 2:20 (no prior PR)
Total Trip Time: 3:11 (beat previous fastest time by 54 minutes)
Avg speed: 2.8mph, 21.7min pace

Of course it helped that I didn't stop for lunch and only snacked twice - although I did chat w/ Marvin Schwartz on Lafayette for 5 minutes. He's an AMC/USFS caretaker, maybe 60 yrs old, and I came upon him suddenly at the summit. Visibility was down to about 20 feet, so I had popped up over the rocks and had jumped down into that little 'bowl' where the signpost is and then noticed him sitting on a rock eating a sandwich. I guess I surprised him too because he didn't see me until he heard my feet smack the rock and he looked up suddenly. It was actually his head motion that startled me, because I was looking right at him thinking it was a new cairn as I was looking for the signpost.

I'd like to see if I can beat 3:00. It'd have to be in DRY conditions.

Gear of the day:
light smartwool socks and poly liners. Feet felt warm and dry all day.

Heard it on the mountain:
Hiker (in a group of 4, standing at a rushing stream crossing on Falling Water): "Excuse me, is this the right way?"
MuthaZ: "Uh, that depends on where you're going."


  1. MZ...the plan down here in Massachusetts is that the MPM, Treadmill, Tmail will be doing a High Altitude Traverse in the Blue Hills we are looking at 11 miles and doing some clothing / hydration testing. As of right now it is still on. Sunday I have a family obligation so the next time our path's cross will be next Saturday for our assault on Bad Boy. If anything changes I will inform you.

  2. Good plan. I intend to go for a 6mi run in sausage casing today to test the nipple-abrasion resistence factor.

    If all goes according to plan, I'll put it to the big test on Sunday.

    Prepare for the assault on the bad boy!!!!!! (just remember to wait up every hour or so so i can catch up).

  3. i got another louie tri tomorrow, short bike, swim with the lil one, and run to the couch....I might go wild a do a quadathlon by adding to the lawn mowing discipline.

    lisa's got a pre-fathers day brunch planned on sunday at parkers maple barn.....the perfect antidote to my lackadaisical training efforts.

  4. G-$$$ remember when coming off the bike you want to try to lower your HR before going into the run...

    All systems are a go for Saturday for MPM, Treadmill and Tmail...i will provide a post trail run email...with what we discovered regarding clothing, food, liquid etc...etc...etc...

  5. Good man. g-$$$, don't wear a sausage casing... or at least not the one I tried. It didn't wick enough and was black, which made my 6miles in the humid air and sun pretty nasty.

    On the other hand, my nipples are happy.

  6. MZ,

    Nice trip report...when the DRY conditions present themselves and you want to beat 3 hours let me know...

    Question..."how was the experience without the poles" I am thinking of bringing them next weekend but not using them....to get a better work out going UP but may use them to go down. After we blasted down Moosilauke I wouldn't want to go down as fast as we did without poles.

  7. good question. i almost ALWAYS use poles - using them heavily up and down, even in summer. this was an experiment (Spungie style) to see how the quads and knees held up. because my left knee gives me problems it would probably be smart to always pack them. it's such a different experience because i use pole-related techniques. for example, i found i was hitting hard when dropping off rocks. with the poles, i kind of lower myself off rocks. it wasn't bad though - it was nice to have my hands free.

  8. Interesting...with the trail running I have been doing I have somehow worked up more confidence going down, now the question to myself is it because I am familiar with the trail and have started to memorize where to step etc...etc...etc...I did realize going up (walking or running) I am thinking about where to put just my feet and not the poles as well. Without the poles I am just focusing on foot placement. I think for the long long slugs poles are good they do save the legs and take pressure off them and keep them from fatigue. I am going to bring them this weekend and see how it goes without them.

  9. Ho ho ho... Santa's back.

    Okay, now that the sausage skin collection is full, I have a "summer" camelback bladder, and I have experience chasing t-mail, I'm ready to get serious.

    Talking with Treadmill about next weekend she made it clear that she does not want me to turn this Mt Washington hike into an epic hike (which I really had no great plans for.) She gets post-race sick like other people we know (wink, wink) and would like me to be around if she does not feel good.

    So, she is likley going to finish around 11:30am. Then she will grab a ride down the mountain with one of her teammates and hang out at the post-race party tent while I hike down. Needless to say, she does not want to wait 3+hrs for me to get there!

    This brings me to the route selection. With all of the angst about timing, up and down, I am leaning towards a blast up Tucks, Lions Head, or Boott Spur. This would plant cars at Rte 16/Pinkham and then allow me to get down quickly. OR... I could hike up the Ammo trail in the am and then continue on to the auto road (via Nelson Crag) or descend via Tucks or Lions Head.

    I don't want to set your expectations to EPIC and then deliver "pfffttttt" on Saturday morning. I know that tmail wants to hit Monroe and I do not want to hold him back from that. With that said, I'll leave it up to you guys to decide what trails you want to head up/down and will play off your plans.

    Praying for sunshine, a slight breeze, and a camera that actually works.

  10. I forgot to mention Huntington's Ravine... I'd be gane for that as well!

  11. 3 Questions:

    1. To be at summit before 11:30am if we go up Boott Spur what time do you guys think the HIKE GROUP would have to leave PNVC? I have never done Boott Spur.

    2. Is the departure time from PNVC if we do Boott Spur doable for MZ and G-$$$ if they have to drive from their homes? Reminder I have a room if anyone wants to stay Friday night.

    3. If we turn up the gas do you think it would be possible to hit Monroe and still be at Bad Boy before 11:30am?

    We can probably fly down Tuckerman to save time so Treadmill doesn't have to wait long...

  12. Next weekend is all about supporting Treadmill. One advantage to Lion's Head is that the alpine garden should be in full bloom. There was stuff flowering all over the ridge today, it would permit you yokels to see firsthand why they call it "The Alpine Garden". I'm up for absolutely any hike - just name it. We could pick a more interesting route up and then bomb down the fastest way. I've never checked out Huntington Ravine, so that sounds fun. I've also never taken Nelson Crag, so taking that to the Jackson Path/Road whatever that's called is cool too.

  13. Boott Spur in the 'up' direction is a dog (no offense, RiRee).

  14. Nelson Crag Trail (per the map) reflects what appears to be two spots relatively close to the auto road, in which we can maybe check out some of the people running...old jackson road to nelson crag trail...support Treadmill...that is my vote...i am just excited to get out and hang with you guys and hike...

    P.S. bomb down Tux and set a land speed record....