Jay Ultimate Cross Country Challenge

I won't bore you with what this event is (you can read about it here if you don't know). But I will bore you with some details:

  • tMail, the MPM and I ran the marathon (33+ mi) and treadmill ran the 'half' (19+ mi)
  • The mileage was upped to 33+ at the last minute to circumnavigate a new golf course.
  • We all finished, and in better time than we expected - all under 9 hours.
  • Treadmill kicked major ass, finishing 6th among women under 40.
  • Race results are posted [Link].
  • Amazingly, we all ended up finishing within a 20min window, and frequently ran together in pairs, all three or solo.
  • All day today (Sunday, the day after), I've been having flashbacks of mud, water, rocks, woods, bugs and more mud. I keep revisiting parts of it in my mind.... different parts each time.
  • g-$$$, l-$$$ and e-$$$ spent the weekend with us. l-$$$ cooked some much needed pizzas for saturday night (post race). The leftovers were consumed for breakfast. g-$$$, by some logistical miracle, kept showing up at spots along the route and offering great words of encouragement. Seeing his smiling face on a bridge overlooking a brook was a blessing!
Heard it on the Jay Ultimate XC Challenge Marathon:
  • "I could eat Evan. I'd just walk up to him and say 'Hi...'." (tMail, at mile 24)
  • "Treadmill's going to destroy this road." (MPM on a stretch of painful dirt road)
  • "Actually, I could use some duct tape." (mz, trying to bandage his pinkie toe)
  • "tMail, at mile 25 I'm going to be hunting you with a big black dildo." (mz, trying to invoke a spirit of competition, but only making everyone feel embarassed.)
  • "F***ing c**k-s**ing mud f**k f**ker c**t mud sh*t f**k...". (everyone, at some point)
  • "This is totally F***ing Retarded". (mz, climbing the power right-of-way after station #6 blueberry hill)
  • "Don't be a F***ing Pussy***". (tMail to himself - the mental game in action!)
  • "So basically what is left is the Franconia Ridge Traverse" (tMail, leaving the station #6, attempt to rationalize the fact that we only had 9 miles to go.)
  • "Daniel [the race director] said it takes 90 minutes to get to the next Aid station we better get a F***ing move on it if we want to make the cut off...". G-$$$ adds "... get going you can do it!" We all panic and leave - not realizing we'd already made the cutoff.
  • "What is so funny??" (MPM to tMail)
  • "I don't know, I think I am losing it" (tMail to MPM)
  • "I am afraid to sit down and put my socks on" (mz at Station 6)
  • "That girl with the sign Free Sex, I should tell her I can't even get it up"
  • "Your friend Dan is a crazy F***ing Bastard"
  • "I am back from the dead"
  • "Mutha, what IS thunder?" (tMail)
  • "There's something REALLY retarded about doing this." (mz)
  • "Fucking cramps..." (and in my head thinking "I shouldn't be getting passed by that fucking guy..") (PM)
  • "I'm never doing this fucking race again. This is bullshit. Going over sharp rocks when your legs are wasted. I'm never doing this race again." (some old guy in river)
  • "I kind of lost it there, I need to pull it together." (same old guy, 5 min later when exiting river)
  • "How the fuck do we get down that? You want to try going down the bank a bit?" (mz)
  • "Fuck it." (PM, replying to mz's question)
  • "She's from Boston. I'm gonna' see her out sometime." (tMail, referring to 'Free Hugs' chick)
  • "ugh, ahhhhh, ugh, huuuuuuuu, huuuuuu, huuuuu, huuuuu..." The old guy passing TM and PM grunting with each step... not sure how to spell that.
  • "Only love
    Can make it rain
    The way the beach
    Is kissed by the sea.
    Love, Reign o'er me.
    Love, Reign o'er me,
    Rain on me.
    Only love
    Can bring the rain
    That makes you yearn to the sky.
    Only love
    Can bring the rain..."
    (PM singing (completely alone in the woods) upon the rain)
  • "Fuckin'..." (mz, mostly when Evan was present!)
  • "Did you hear me last night? I was pissing and then I woke up in the corner of the bathroom in the fetal position." (tMail)
  • "I think I have another 10 miles in me" (mz, after finish)
Update: tMail & the PM both contributed a bunch of quotes, praise Allah.
Update: Video now on YouTube [Link]


Stillwater Junction

I felt compelled, although now I only have 4 days to recover. It was about 21.5 miles total and it took 7:05. The route was from the Willey House Station Site on 302 (about 4 miles past the AMC Highland Center). I took the AT (Ethan Pond Trail) to Shoal Pond Trail, to the Wilderness Trail and returned via Thoreau Falls Trail->Ethan Pond->etc.


  1. I only took my little Black Diamond pack. I brought very little food and 2L of water. I had two ounces of trail mix, 50% of a hammer flask and an entire flask filled with something I'm not going to tell you about right now - kind of low calorie, but protein-filled and nutritious. Think Perpetuem.
  2. I got lost. That's the downside to not bringing a map or compass into the Pemigewassett Wilderness. I got lost at Stillwater Junction itself. It's remarkably easy to go the wrong way there, and upon entering a small clearing, looked left, looked right, and headed left. It only took 10 minutes and I knew it was the wrong choice. I made it back to the clearing and heard a 'woof'. Amazingly, the first people I encountered (and the only ones I would encounter in the Pemi it turned out), were lost like I was, only they had come from the Wilderness Trail and were trying to find their way to Shoal Pond. Apparently the confusion was profound from either direction. Needless to say, we helped each other by describing how to get back where we had come from. It was like chocolate and peanut-butter colliding. The 'woof' was from a beautiful yellow lab.
  3. I got lost again. This time it was on the Thoreau Falls Trail, which parallels the North Fork of the Pemigewassett River. It's a pretty substantial river - almost exactly like where the bridge from Lincoln Woods Campground crosses (where tMail, the MPM and I soaked after Owl's Head). It was swollen from all the rain, and somebody had placed saplings across the trail indicating a river crossing. After finally crossing, I found myself on an old railroad grade where people camp - so there was a trail paralleling the river so it all seemed fine.... eventually I had to cross back.
  4. I had major intestinal problems. I dropped two Screaming Steamers off the trail - probably scared away a bear or two. By the time I was back on the AT, I was dehydrated and miserable and was just dragging myself along. All I could think of was Thich Quang Duc, the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who protested the US occupation of Vietnam and set himself on fire while sitting in the lotus position and never moved (back in '63). Oh yeh, that and "Touching The Void". I was convinced that if I only thought about those two things I would make it back to the car. I was so out of it I passed two streams before realizing that I could refill.
  5. Shoal Pond itself is beautiful. The trail goes through a few miles of thick marsh, both open and woodland. I was ankle deep in thick black mud, but the blooming iris made up for the fucking mosquitos.
  • Left map and compass in car on purpose.
  • Put on bug spray at car, left bottle in car on purpose. Because of mosquitos, couldn't stop at all other than to drop a mutha-bomb or two and refill water.
  • Haven't gotten the intestinal thing figured out. Will sterilize camelbak and hammer flasks before Jay.
  • Should have brought Immodium.
  • I tried carrying the Hammer flask in my hand whenever I could run so that the holster didn't wobble. I did that over about 15 miles and learned to hate the Hammer flask.
  • The little pack was plenty. The only gear I brought that I didn't use were a cell phone and a spare pair of socks.
  • I brought my MSR water filter. Damn good thing. I drank 4L of water and used it twice.
  • I brought an empty nalgene (for the filter - I don't have a camelbak adapter) but put food in baggies in it. It's so light it was a great idea. Because the food was in baggies, I could put it back in after using the nalgene for water. I actually carried it in my hand for the last 3 miles.
  • Had food waiting in the car (2 bananas, chocolate milk, raisin oatmeal cookie, beef jerky and other beverages in cooler). Smart move.
If I hadn't gotten lost twice and had to drop two screamers I think I could've done it in 6 hours. I think as long as I don't have this shits on Saturday I can hit 10 hours. I still feel pretty crappy, but better. Now it's recovery time.


The Best Laid Plans of Mice And Men ...

... Oft gang awry. Or so the great poet Bobby Burns once said.

If you look at the previous post below ("Planning for Sunday"), you'll notice that the post itself is full of energy, inspiration, motivation, energy and enthusiasm. If you look at the comments, you'll see that things begin to fall apart. So what ended up really happening? I'd like to know for sure, but here's what I can figure out: The MPM was hung-over; tMail was running for Santa Rosalia or St. Anthony, or St. Mary's Feast or something; MadDog was buried under 6ft of marble or carving a monument to Zeus; g-$$$ was probably the only one who actually expended any energy.

And me? well, it turned out to be the perfect day. 80°F, dry air, clear blue skies with little white cumulus clouds, 5mph winds. I mowed the lawn, strapped the canoe on the car and Sue and I headed to Kettle Pond in Groton State Forest (just up the road from Ricker Pond). I loaded two roast-beef sandwiches and 6 bottles of beer in a cooler w/ a full bottle of SPF45 sunblock and we paddled around all afternoon drinking beer and drifting in the light breeze watching loons duck down and fish grab flies.

When I got back, I continued w/ the last of the Stellas on the shady side of the apartment deck (the kids have friends over in the house) and have just finished a sandwich. I'm ready for a nap.

Maybe some other day I'll expend all that energy.


Planning for Sunday

The MPM and I are tossing around a few ideas, but with the Jay Challenge looming, many questions remain. It's been raining hard for two days and more rain in the forecast today and into tomorrow. Sunday appears to be the day to go out.

In the meantime, the trip tMail and I took into the Dry River Wilderness is now on YouTube and includes never-before-seen footage of tMail not giving a damn about getting his damn feet wet, dammit.

Behold: The YouTube Link.

Update 7/21 - Proposed Hikes for Tomorrow. Can't decide between miles, elevation and speed:

  1. Moosilauke, The Hard Way: Beaver Brook cliff-climb to Summit; Carriage/Snapper Trail down to Lodge; Merrill Loop and Asquam Ridge back up and descend again via Beaver Brook Trail. (15.4mi)
  2. Thoreau Falls, The Long Way: From Zealand Road, Hale Brook to summit of Mt. Hale; Lend-A-Hand to Zeacliff to Thoreau Falls. Return via Ethan Pond/Zealand. (14.0mi)
  3. Mt. Jefferson, The Painful Way: Caps Ridge (not Castle Ridge) to Jefferson; descend Six-Husbands; return via Great Gulf but ascend ravine on Sphinx Trail and return via Caps Ridge. (10.2mi). Optional Painful Enhancement: return via Great Gulf up the Great Gulf Headwall and bang back on the Gulfside Trail (13mi).
  4. Mt. Cardigan, The Fast Way: This mtn is covered in a tangle of trails so the route described requires following along on a map. The route hits the following named summits in this order: Cardigan, RimRock, South Peak & Firescrew (10.8mi). It consists of the following elements:
  • Woodland/Cathedral Forest warmup loop to Holt Trail
  • Mad scramble up exposed ledges to summit via Holt Trail
  • Ridge-top loop out to Rim Rock and south Peak and back to Cardigan
  • Ridge-top run to Firescrew, w/ short side trip to the "Grotto" (no idea, just saw it on the map).
  • Long woodland return via Mowglis and Back80 trails.
Still thinking ...


July 14, 2007: The Presidential Dry River Wilderness

From muthaZ: tMail's choice of route was excellent. We took the Crawford Path north from 302 to Lake of the Clouds (hitting Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, Nixon, Monroe), then turned south on the Dry River trail and headed down into the Presidential Dry River Wilderness Area. We returned to the car by climbing back up to Mizpah Hut and then down again via the Mizpah Cutoff to the Crawford Path.

Highlights from the trip:

  • We had agreed that it would be a "nice day out" kind of hike. I had on my leathers and was carrying 3L of water. tMail had his trail runners, a set of ramjet engines and a large helium balloon. It was like chasing a dolphin.
  • The weather was extraordinary. There was no noticeable wind and the air was cool and dry on the ridges.
  • As in all wilderness areas, the trail is largely unmaintained except for being beaten down by traffic and cuts made in large fallen trunks. I don't think anyone goes the route we chose, or if they do, it doesn't do it justice to use the word "traffic". A better phrasing would be: "The trail is made visible by the rare footfall of the lost hiker who mistakenly descends into the muddiest, wildest wilderness in the Whites". The descent down the headwall of the gulf was along a brook, amidst moss, slimy/wet rocks, mud and growth that made navigation difficult. Descending into treeline only made it worse as the moss, rocks and mud transitioned into moss, rocks, mud and scrub brush and then finally moss, rocks, mud and impenetrable growth of varying heights.
  • Gear of the day: sunblock and bugspray.
  • The trail parallels the Dry River, which is thusly named because much of the water apparently soaks into the trail leaving the river a mere raging torrent. The woods are so dense that you only hear the river until you have to cross it. The Guide warns against using this trail in wet weather due to mud and challenging river crossing. The fact that we went down there during a break in the wet weather didn't help ameliorate the conditions about which the Guide was warning. tMail eventually adopted the attitude of "fuck it, i don't care. i just don't want to lose my new shoes in this". Seeing him barge through deep, sucking mud and wade across the river without missing a beat was borderline hysterically funny. I took the more conservative approach typical of my character and traded wet/muddy feet for scratches, head bumps and a peculiar, irregular stride that tMail, had he been behind me, would've characterized as "fuck that dry-foot shit".
  • I think this was one of the most interesting hikes I've been on. It's a close competitor to the Six Husbands trail. The headwall is a challenge and the views are grand and sexy. The tromp through the woods isn't tedious like the trail to Owl's Head, although the dense forest kind of limits the view to the mud in the immediate vicinity.
  • I was farting the whole hike up Crawford and then thought I'd shart on the way through the wilderness. I stopped to make a doody at Lake of the Clouds, then in the woods and then again at Mizpah but was disappointed all three times to find my paranoia unfounded. Unluckily for tMail, my ongoing concert was - uh - ongoing. Unfortunately for me, tMail's stealth approach to a similar (but less voluminous) problem left me no bob-and-weave reflex time and resulted in significant damage to my nasal membranes. I eventually attributed my condition to the three large chicken-and-refried-bean burritos I had for dinner Friday night. tMail offered no apologies or explanations.
From tMail: So today's mission/quest/objective was to spend some time just hiking in the good old White Mountains. The meeting point was Iriving Gas Station just west of the Cog Railway Road. We headed due East and parked at a sold out parking lot for the Crawford Path. We decided that we would go right up the gut and tag Pierce, Eisenhower, Nixon and Monroe.

Check off Pierce
Check off Eisenhower

Check off Nixon (you know the 5th Beatle well this is the 49th)

Revist my friend Monroe which I risked having a heart attack to conquer.

Views were fantastic both MZ and I tried to look for the elusive Camel's Hump you actually had to scoot down and look below some of the clouds to try to locate the mountain. We were not able to locate it but we did see some excellent views. To the East there were excellent views of Boot Spur Ridge what we think was Isolation and once on Monroe the clouds had departed and great views of the mountains that make up the Pemi.

We hung out at Lake of the Clouds Hut, had some food and MZ gave me a great lesson on the compass, how the sun moves 15 degrees every hour, your hand stretched out from little finger to thumb is 20 degrees. We talked about our plan to hit the Dry River trail etc...etc. That trail's starting point is very cool right at the back side of Lake Of the Clouds and if you are standing at the right location it looks like the lake goes right off the cliff really cool stuff. The Dry River trail is cool....part trail, part river, part mud bog, part quick sand, part slippery rock...part everything. We navigated the trail easily I thought ending at Mizpah Hut then back on Crawford path to the car. We talked about everything from Hammer Gel to J.R. Tolkien...interesting stuff. We saw magnificient wild life, a mouse.

We also did what is becoming (when the option presents itself) our baptismal dunk at day end in whatever stream or pool we can find.

We had a great day of just hiking in which nobody had the "pre hike shits" due to the fact there was not world record speed to be set, we had real backpacks and actually took pictures and the time to aerobically breath....

See you at Jay

Heard It On The Mountain:
  • Certainly the Forest Service agent on patrol on the ridge deserves the USFSDBOP award ("US Forest Service Douche Bag On Patrol"). His response when we inquired about the condition of the wilderness trail: "that's not my district".
  • mz, characterizing the situation while watching tMail trying to pull his leg out of the thick mud without losing the left unit of his new Vasque Velocity shoes: "boot-sucking mud cunt".
  • tMail, on being passed without a word by a guy speed-hiking in the opposite direction, after being greeted merrily by tMail: "fucker".
  • tMail & mutha, on finding something on the ground that mutha then put in a plastic zip-lock bag but hopes to remember to bring to Jay: "ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... let's bring that back for the Puppet Master... ha ha ha ha!".


Franconia Ridge Loop: Sub-3

You heard it here first, sports fans:

  • Car To Little Haystack via Falling Water: 1:09 (beat old PR by 6min)
  • Little Haystack to Lafayette: 0:31
  • Lafayette to Car: 1:16
Total Time: 2:56 (beat old PR by 19min). Click on graph to see details.

Now I'm sure you monsters could hump this little fucker in less time, but this isn't about you. The plan was sub-3 and the mission was accomplished. But there were some noteworthy elements:
  • With all the rain, the brook coming down Falling Water was HUGE! I've never seen so much water coming down there. The crossings were sketchy, but not all that bad - I didn't get wet and didn't have to hunt for a way across. But to give you an idea, think of the little alpine bog just before you get to Greenleaf Hut. Normally, there are a few stones and you're done. Today, it had rushing water flowing over half the stones.
  • I had breakfast today, but didn't get to the trail until 11:30. All I brought was my little black diamond pack, 2L of water and 1/2 hammer-gel squeeze bottle... and a change of socks which I didn't need. I finished the water on the approach to the parking area.
  • I had done a 12mi run yesterday and was feeling a little low-energy - and the hammer-gel bothered my empty stomach.
  • In spite of the tremendous rain, the trails were in pretty good shape. While I have to admit that foot placement was a bit constrained compared to dry weather, it would be pushing it to say that the wet ground affected my time more than a few minutes. On the way up I was able to maintain 50ft/min ascent rate for the full ascent (except for the beginning flat part) and was limited by physical capability. On the way down I was slowed by my own need to hold back. I've seen MadDog jump this stuff at twice the speed.
All in all it was a great day out. Time to beat: 2:56. I'm counting on you guys to hit 2:30. My next goal is 2:45 and the only place I can make up the time is on the way down from Lafayette. Maybe in dry weather I can pick up the pace.


The Upcoming Weekend: Bastille Day, 2007

This is just a placeholder for next weekend's plans, as they start to materialize. Anybody have a preference? Any secret desires, wishes, wants. Anyone yearning for more more more?


20070707: Kyudo, Osceolas & Tecumseh

While mutha spend the weekend learning Kyudo, tMail and Team Strong (treadmill, riree and the MPM Hymnself) tackled a blistering triple of both Osceolas and Tecumseh in wet, slippery weather. If they email me any photos I'll post them, otherwise this is a text-only entry.


  • mutha is hooked on Kyudo and will be joining a dojo.
  • tMail/Strong have logged another 18 miles of rugged White Mountain terrain.
Update 7/10: tMail's limited parking-lot pics are posted (Link). While it's not customary to post other people's pics when I wasn't able to attend, 18 miles is a long way to go and the pic of tMail (on the right, rendered in sepia-tone) was to great to pass up.


20070703 MadDog and Mutha's Mystery Tour

MadDog came of retirement today. What he's been doing in the MadCave all these months is beyond me, but whatever is in the water isn't for mere mortals. Get this:

I meet up with MD at the Dunkin Donuts in Gorham. We sit down for a cup of coffee and lay out the map on the table. MD is not thrilled with the hike I picked out (16 miles in the Wild River valley). He kindly points out that it's a lot of driving for me. Okay, fine by me. MadDog's a great guy, but I was wondering why he wanted to meet in Gorham anyway, since he was just across the border in Maine, just beyond Evans Notch. So what does he want to do? I've got my little pack, 2L of water and no clothes other than my yellow, light wind-breaker and I'm wearing my Vasques. What does he suggest? Remember, he's just come out of retirement and swears he hasn't been doing Mt. Mansfield sprints. MadDog says, without a hint of joking or a wink or a nod: "hey, how about doing the northern Presi's?". Sure MadDog, Madison, Adams & Jefferson. You know I'm up for anything.

So, now that we know we'll be hiking all day, what routes up & down? We look at the map and decide on going up the Daniel Webster Scout Trail (highly steep and rugged on the east flank of Madison) and down ... drum roll please ... the Six Husbands Trail into the Great Gulf Wilderness. That's a little over 15 miles, three major ass-fucking summits (5.3k, 5.8k and 5.7k ft respectively), and an unknown trail down the promontory between Jefferson Ravine and the Great Gulf. Good thing I had enough food and water for a 6 hour outing.

15.1 miles, thousands of feet and 10.5 hours later, I have this to report (and this is just a preliminary list - photos, movies and more commentary on the way):

  1. tMail! Don't pop a rivet. We did Adams. This is my 4th time on that summit and the 4th time I've sworn never to go up that piece of shit again. I have one word for you in your quest for your 48: "solo".
  2. Mt. Adams is a piece of shit.
  3. The Six Husbands trail is the coolest trail in the Whites. At first, it was like Boott Spur - like going down a ridge that juts out like the prow of a ship. The similarity stops there. It then drops down a heavily wooded cliff that features ladders, careful climbs and ass-pinchingly sphincterrific slabs. It took us about 1.5 hours of continuous climbing. I'm pretty sure that this would be a harder ascent than Huntington Ravine. Hopefully the pictures do it justice. There are steps all over the Whites, but this was the first ladders we'd seen. (I think Beaver Brook on Moosilauke has ladders.)
  4. The trip down the Great Gulf Trail was pretty sweet. It's one of the most beautiful trails I've been on. The last 2.5 miles back to the Dolly Copp campground were pretty boringly flat - so navigable that three guys on mountain bikes came zipping by. But the upper part is gorgeous.
  5. We saw a moose. I don't mean an off-in-the-distance moose. I mean MadDog suddenly stopped short, going "woah, woah! mooooooose!". It was 6 feet away, just off the trail in the woods. We actually backed up slowly about 5 steps, but it seemed pretty cool with us. I took lots of pics and movies - at one point advancing toward it with the camera about 2ft from its nose. Photos and movies to follow - probably tomorrow.
10.5 hours - what a day. We didn't run (even though MD took off like a rocket down Madison like a goddamn mountain goat). I just humbled along like a freakin' stumblebum.

Update 7/4: Pics are posted. Happy July 4th Everybody!
Update 7/5: YouTube video is posted
Update 7/6: HighRes .mp4 available (14mb - optimized for streaming)


20070703 Wild River Valley

The tentative plan is for MadDog, the MPM and me to tramp around in the wilds. MadDog set the tone with:

"...a reasonable day out (in terms of hours) anywhere from 4-8. effort-wise/strenous i'd like something medium-to-well done. problem is i have no f'in idea how the knee will be...daily pain is triggered by shit that is 100% found in hiking, so i should be a lot of fun :-)"
Great. That sounds like a death march. I've never hiked in the Evans Notch/Wild River area so after trying out a number of loops the only route I came up with that was:
  • less than 18 and more than 10miles
  • minimizes the amount of downhill pounding
  • has runnable sections (pure guesswork)
is a 16mi round-trip from the Wild River campground, out to North/South Baldface and back - traversing the the Meader Ridge both ways (see map at right - green bullseyes mark route). I can't imagine it's rugged than the Presis and it looks like the only steep section is just north of Ragged Jacket. I haven't measured total elevation gain yet. I'm waiting for other suggestions from MadDog or the MPM.