Franconia Ridge: The Concrete Floor of 2:45

Today I had to run down to Lincoln, NH to get a pair of black diamond strap-on crampons. On the way I stopped to do the Falling Waters/Bridal Path loop. I figured since it was my first time on the loop with no snow I'd do my best but not try to beat my previous PR of 2:46. Furthermore, with all the storms the trails were soaked, the brooks were high and the entire descent was wet and muddy. On the way up Falling Waters I remembered just how hard that trail is to do fast. I started off at a leisurely trot since I wasn't out to break any records, but man, I ended up pushing pretty hard. I had to stop twice on the way up just to not fall over from over-exertion. By the time I headed up to Lincoln's summit I thought I should probably just stop or die.

I hit the ridge a few minutes behind my PR but my final time was 2:49, only 3min slow. I guess I did okay on the descent, even though it was pretty slippery - although I don't know how.

Fun Facts: 28oz water, two espresso hammer gels, tank top, running shorts, vasque runners, car keys.

More Fun: I started running at 12:08pm, meaning my watch time was 8 minutes ahead of my stop-watch. Because they are both displayed when in stopwatch mode, I frequently thought the clock time was my running time and for most of the hike thought I was around 12 - 15 minutes behind my PR. Because I comitted my times to memory, when I got home and wrote them down I noticed that two of them (Lincoln and Greenleaf) were 12/13 minutes behind my PR so I subtracted 8 minutes to get the numbers in the table above. The ONLY number in that table that I'm sure of is the final 2:49 which was actually 2:49:50.

Incredible Fun: I don't know if I can ever break the 2:45 mark. It seems like it should be easy to just push a little harder and squeeze 5 or 6 minutes out of my time, but wow, I'm not sure how.


Roque Bluffs Catch-Up

I'm still playing catch-up. tMail gave me the down-low on a lot of the Saturday Shake-Down results (MD, I need to catch up with you to get my gear portion), but I'm still feeling like I haven't caught up from vacation. While I wouldn't call it a freak-out, panic-mode thing, I'm certainly bummed I missed Saturday's festivities.

I'll email lots of questions.

That said, I was reminded of a lesson I once learned in Maine many years ago: a tide-clock really comes in handy. I kayaked along the coast and then headed up-river with the tide and decided to head back early rather than wait an additional hour for high tide. Because of my location Sunset From The House
relative to the reference port on the tide chart I actually had 1/2hr more of incoming than I knew and heading back early meant not only paddling against the tide but then trying to exit the mouth of the river under a road bridge which still had a strong current against me. While I couldn't get through the bridge, I did take advantage of the fast-moving water to circulate in a back eddy: head toward bridge in the eddy, push out into swift current, get shot downriver like out of a slingshot, catch eddy again and head back up to bridge. It was like the best water-park ride ever invented.

Also, if you ever find yourself heading up coastal route 1 toward Machias, take the time to drive out to the Great Wass Island nature preserve. Hike all the way out to the farthest point. Pics are posted HERE.


Open Thread

I'm taking off for Maine and won't have email or web access until the 30th. Consider this an open thread and post any comments you may have - on or off topic. No holds barred.


Mansfield Up The PM

According to rumor, tomorrow (6/15) is the "Up The PM". Who what when where how? Clueless, man. All I know is that Beelzebub will rise in the form of a great wind, and death shall strike spears of wrath and the sky shall weep rivers of blood in impotent rage and sorrow.

Mutha's Trip Report:

PM: 65-70lb pack
MZ: 40-50lb pack
TM: 2-8lb pack

Route: Hell Brook up, Ski trails down. We hit the Adams Apple and Chin and saw no canadians - only a fit girls in running shorts.

How the PM lugged that pack up Hell Brook was Sieg Heil
beyond me. At 45-ish lbs my pack was like kindergarten play-time. I had no sore muscles, no aching feet, and my shoulders felt like new. Add 20 lbs, let alone 30 lbs, and death begins to look like a welcome option. If you don't know the Hell Brook trail, basically this sums it up: "steep". Think Falling Waters, but steeper. It's not that different from climbing the headwall of Tuckerman Ravine... for 2000 ft.

Treadmill ran the ski trails down and Riley did pull-ups on the way up Hell Brook. No kidding. That dog did pull ups. Crazy.

The Puppet Master's Trip Report
Great day out. Perfect weather, perfect trail, and perfect company. Hell Brook should actually be called Heaven Brook.

Riley is a king. T-Mill is a queen. And Mutha is the Mutha. Everyone had a power performance today!

9am flight out to Memphis tomorrow. I'll be getting my rib on whilst T-Mail is doing hill repeats with a 100lb pack... I mean 25lb pack (I saw the e-mail!)

I just dumped all my sh*t on the floor of the basement and plan to repack it a day before we head to WY!


Shakedown Trip Report

Bonds Shakedown Picture Galleries:

Bonds Shakedown Trip Reports:

[From MadDog]
  1. thanks all for getting the shakedown to occur in the first place.
  2. Even though I had the Shakedown variant experience it was still great.
  3. I can't believe (then again yes I can) g-$$$ muscled that pack up.
  4. The PM can power uphill like no other (fully loaded and with large strides) and run down the big dawgs.
  5. Which leads to Tmail, either we tether him to a 2mile rope, or we designate it as the team's forward scout for reconn.
  6. Sorry I missed Bob's camp wisdom.
  7. Only MuthaZ can downhill rock hop, fully loaded with the WY gear and with Spanky in a fireman's carry. Amazing!
  8. Intake for the way in and out = 4l of H2O and Gasorade, 9 PB cracker packs, 6 sweetie treatie trail bars, 2 ham and cheese sands.
  9. We forgot to grab PM's pistol for the exit...MZ and I were in pretty bad shape for the railbed.
  10. What's event precedes this expression "#$%^ing goddamn railbed!" ANS = stubbing my toes, at least a dozen, painful times.
  11. Tmail eats whatever he (or anyone else seems to) picks.
  12. Is it legal to have Pinot Noir and Spam w/BBQ sauce on the same trip?
  13. Things I am adding to my pack - bugspray (5 gals to be exact), hat, sunscreen, toss away towellettes, BareBait REI pants, stone mason knee pads
  14. Things I am deleting from my pack - down vest to be replaced by mid-weight fleece, NorthFace pants.
  15. New dynamics - scampering downhill across wet roots, with 40lbs on your back, will smack you down almost as hard as Nacho can. I whacked the bad knee again.
  16. While I have never seen a whore in church, thanks to the PM's continuous cultural insights, I now know the telltale signs of one.
[From Mutha]
I'm bummed I missed what was clearly a beautiful night. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. MadDog, Spanky and I got back to the car around 7:30, making for an 18.2 mile trek in about 11 hours. Spanky did most of it on her own.

Lesson learned: just because the dog has a proven trail history doesn't mean new issues won't crop up. Diagnosis: strained muscle (minor sprain). She's got a barely noticeable limp this morning. Thanks to all for helping and special thanks to MadDog for escorting us out and along that endless trail. I promised MadDog that I'm going to buy a handgun and bring it to the Wilderness trail so I can shoot that goddamn railbed.

Another lesson: heavy pack wasn't all that bad, but it hurt in two unexpected places: hip muscles and toes. Apparently the forward leaning posture put extra stress on toes and caused soreness/blisters for me.

Last lesson: even with a 60lb pack, tMail can jog up a mountain. Never seen anything like it.

[From The Puppet Master]
So much to be said and so many lessons learned.
  1. I am a biting post for all kinds of bugs, big and small. I will be looking into some "Buzz Off" clothing - 16 bites on my left hand/wrist alone
  2. The wool man panties wick like a dream, and would be good for the whore in church
  3. Riley is a great watch dog which makes him a shit tent companion!
  4. Yes, Lisa WAS pissed that G$ took the kitchen sink
  5. We need better communication if we're going to survive safely in WY
  6. My pack can lose ~5 to 10lbs of unnecessary BS prior to WY
  7. Mother Nature never allows for the "Hollywood Poop" and "Java Juice" is potent
  8. I have an open theory that Spanky is a lesbian - she's definately more man than Riley
  9. The soak at the end of the trail is worth the f-ing railbed
  10. Never sleep on a slippery slope
  11. Mosquitoes can bite through clothing AND tent mesh
  12. Watching the sunset from Bond Cliff was spectuacular... even if it was with 4 other guys and I was sipping some Malbec wine... (uh oh, my wrist looks like Spanky's)

    (Correction - 5 guys for sunset + 1 male dog = 6)
[From g-$$$]
  1. Thanks all for the company! Hated some things, Learned a few things, loved everything. I still love day trips, but sometimes a good overnight adventure makes me yearn for more.
  2. Special thanks to Bob for nurturing me along when I was getting "a bit unglued" and more importantly bringing Doug and Tom to help me realize speed is relative.
  3. Intentional or not humping our heavy packs to Bondcliff was a good move. The bugs were horrendous where we stayed but they would have bordering on suicidal had we camped closer to the Pemi River valley.
  4. We need to recruit Johnny B so Tmail can have someone for his rope team.
  5. The PM is a good person to be around camp because the bugs will swarm over him and only occasionally show interest in you.
  6. Bondcliff is much more enjoyable when you can take an hour to enjoy the views than on a flash tag during the Pemi Prance
  7. Sunset on Bondcliff is on par with Sunset over West Bond...
  8. $8 to camp at Guyot is highway robbery compared to the $0 we paid to camp, especially where Tom, Doug, and Bob set up.
  9. Contrary to what the PM said, I did not take the kitchen sink...but I plead the 5th on the oven. I may be the least fit of this elite bunch but I'm sure lugging the weight of the outback oven will not be the reason why we would not summit Gannett and I suspect like those chocolate cookies last night fresh baked treats will not go to waste every night.
  10. While chowing on some awesome banana bread french toast at the Sunny Day Diner in Lincoln...Bob made a great suggestion for the Shakedown Sequel (Jun 28/29), we give some thought about hitting up Mansfield and give Mad Dog the homecourt advantage (not that he needs it)
  11. My goal in the next month is lose at least as much weight off my pack as I do off my body.
  12. Bob needs a nickname. Tom and Doug told me they call him Sponge Bob but I said 1) that's too obvious 2) we already have Spungie 3) he's got to earn his nickname.
  13. Hope Spanky is back on the trail soon enough.

[From tMail]
Food/Clothing Notes:
  1. Less is more. I think personally for me the best approach would be the following for food / clothing:
    Water (3L), Oatmeal packages (6-7), 10 Power / Cliff bars,6 Sandwiches
    Sticky Rice, Gels, Liquid Energy, Dehydrated Meals
    Leather Boots w/ Ankle Gaiters
  2. This is my tentative clothing List:
    Fleece Gloves, Glove Liners, Synthetic Hat/BugNet/OR Hat
    Marmot Precip Jacket/Pants, Fleece Pants, Smartwool (2 weights)
    Mountain Hardwear Shell, Jacket Block Wind, Injinji Socks, Nylon Pants
    Patagonia Shorts, DriFit Shirts (2)
  3. I will of course have the other personal / safety stuff with me:
    Deet, Bear Spray *Discussion Point*
Lessons Learned:
  1. Control Speed
  2. Group commmunication I understand everyone hikes at different speeds Wyoming we stay within sight of each other.
  3. I never did Bondcliff in my life until I did it 3 times on Saturday
  4. Everyone that hiked is an Animal in their own right!
  5. Frequently move shoulder straps and take the pack off for relief 2-3 minutes does wonders
  6. Nothing beats the soak
  7. I will count every ounce in my pack
  8. Waking up and thinking a jet was taking off was cool
  9. Waking up and seeing tons of stars really cool
  10. Waking up and seeing Riley stairing at me freaky!
  11. Who needs water purification?
  12. 3rd time on the Railbed and I learned not to look up and don't think water = bridge is near...


Lost In The Dark Danville Bogs: I'm Not Dead Yet

Sue and I had a date for a 6pm BBQ at The Academy this evening. I got home first at 3:30 and had a few hours to kill. At 4pm Spanky and I headed into the dark swamps of Danville with the intent of hunting down some sections that I was confident I'd never explored before. It was great - I found some major crazy zones. The balsam was so thick that the perfume of the spring growth hung intoxicating and heavy in the still air. In the deep parts of The Zone the organic matter underfoot included rotted logs and stumps and tangles of blowdown that were immersed in a thick stew of who-knows-how-many-years of accumulated material. The surface was covered in thick moss and lichens so you couldn't tell what would cause you to sink in deep and what would hold you above the muck. In some hollowed stumps I could see down into black water about 3 inches below my feet. The water was flowing, meaning I was in dark, deep, green forested bog. The lady slippers have started blooming, along with cowslips, bunchberry, trillium and more.

We climbed through branches and worked our way for what seemed like hours. I wanted to be back home by 5:30 to shower and change for the party. At 5pm, while climbing through a black-mucky stream I realized that I had to hurry and find my way out ASAP. We picked up the pace and I was dripping sweat. for 25 minutes we bushwacked through unfamiliar forested swamp. I found a new beaver dam in the forest (I had to crawl through dense branches to find it - I could hear the sound of water in the spillway and followed the noise - a huge, complex forested dam - and I even saw a beaver). I was in brand new territory but was pretty confident I had a reasonable chance of finding a familiar landmark within a few minutes. Then I found one: the black-mucky stream that I had crossed earlier, in fact the very spot where I had crossed before.

No shit.

25 minutes had elapsed and I had completely circled. Here's the worst part: I knew that if I continued on again I would have to do something different to not circle, except what I did the last time turned into a circle because I was following what seemed like a smart route. So I did the only thing I could do: continue on in a stupid direction. I was so lost it seemed highly likely that I would be unable to actually come out anywhere recognizable because there was no way to make a beeline and I was clearly following a stupid route. I actually considered the possibility that it could take hours or days - in an area less that 4 square miles! Well, we headed into the hardest bushwack I've ever done. I can't even describe the ordeal. This place is dark and mysterious.

In 20 minutes I was on a known deer trail that I'd run before and in another 10 was home. 30 minutes from home and I could've died out there, lost and wandering in circles in the dark.

That was the best time I've had in a while. I'm still all psyched. We got to the bbq by 6:15.

If anybody ever wants to check this terrain out I can have you in and out of this crazy place in under two hours. We'll be lost, but we'll get out eventually... I have so far.



It's time to post for the Shakedown of June 7/8. It'll be "Murder on the Orient Express", "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Alien vs. Predator" all rolled into one. Trip details posted as we figure the bitch out. Whatever it is, it'll be with heavy packs and labored breathing.

[Update 6/4 8:25pm]
Okay, here's what we've decided so far, based on extensive email back-and-forths:

  1. We're taking the flat route in from Lincoln Woods Campground, although I may be the only one who thinks we're going in on the south/east shore of the river on the East Side Trail.
  2. We're taking all our stuff, including climbing gear, helmets, axes, harnesses, crampons and other stuff. Because we're taking a shorter route in we'll be able to accommodate a later start (see trailhead logistics below).
  3. Riley and Spanky are coming along. The PM and I are each carrying 2-man tents, tMail and g-$$$ are carrying 2 or 3-man tents. Still don't know if BobW's pals are coming along.
  4. Bob's bringing extra helmets & packs and g-$$$ and Bob are bringing extra harnesses.
  5. TrailHead: We're meeting at 8:30am (I think) at the Lincoln Woods campground east of Lincoln, NH on the Kanc. MD and I will probably stop at DD in Lincoln. We'll take the flat route in to the Bondcliff Trail and set up camp there, then hit the Bonds possibly Saturday afternoon/evening (Sunset from Bondcliff? Thunderstorms from Bondcliff?). Returning Sunday morning. Whoever doesn't shoot themselves from the long, hard slog gets to keep the cars.
  6. We'll probably repack in the parking lot. For those of us that have never done this sort of thing, hiking into the Bonds wearing harnesses will be quite the experience. BobW! They go inside or outside our pants???
  7. Oh yeh, and temperatures in the valley could exceed 85°F.
  8. Don't forget your crampons!