All Quiet on the Eastern Front

In NYC visiting my brother Matt and some friends from long ago. The pace will pick up next week. Still doubt a 6-gapper is in the cards for 2009 (haven't been on the bike since the double) but the pemi is happening and we're ramping up for winter. Woo Hoo!

tMail Trip Report: (Pics are here)

So my first trip back on the trails starting around Saturday morning at 2.43am I was so excited I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep so I just laid there and thought of MD holding me and feel back asleep.

Anyway drive up was good left at 6.00am at Crawford Notch Parking Lot at 8.37am made awesome time. The lot was completely full I parked on the grass...gear up...took a massive Hollywood style dump in the boyz room and I was off. Trail conditions running river...there is so much f'n ground water there is not place for it to go...I got up to treeline and said screw Pierce get it on the way back. On my way to Eisenhower it was more running water wet everything...The drainage off to the North (i used my compass alot yesterday just to see how directionally it is up there) towards Mt. Washington Hotel has multiple feed streams i crossed every one of them and drank from them...

Up on Eisenhower I sat for 30 minutes just cause it was nice up there and I hadn't been up there for a long time...within those 30 minutes fog broke and blue sky appeared. Bad Boy was in sight as was Franklin and Monroe...I thought of tagging Bad Boy on several occasions and then said F it...why push anything...it was off to Pierce...i was worried about going down with my knee but no issues...hit Pierce and then sat out and chilled then off to the waterfall and soaked the ankle.

Two gear notes:

Darn Tough Socks absolutely rock my feet were in water all day took off my shoes and socks feet were dry.

Vasque Blur unbelievable grip especially on wet stuff.

What you think is West is really North...what you think is South is really West...trust the compass!!!!

The kid whose picture I took with the Garmin kept pacing the summit of Eisenhower saying where are the views...where are the views...i told him the summit would be fogged in for the day...he left..30 minutes later blue sky...read your weather report idiot...


Dodge's Drop, Annotated Version

Yesterday when MadDog and I bushwacked Hillman's Highway we had a chance to look at Dodge's Drop from Hermit Lake and from above. It was hard to recognize features I've only studied in winter. As g-$$$ said "it's amazing what 200' of snow will do" (or something like that).

The attached annotated image is here for the record of the avalanche incident. Clicking on it will allow a zoomed in view but it's pretty high res so no sure how easy it will be to read.

A few notes (these were included in an original email to hiking partners when the image was first sent out):

note the 'shark fin' at the top. maddog and i had lunch there after our Hillman's Bushwack on 7/25/09. it was the destination for me and tmail during our ascent. i also indicate on the photo the rock that had the white quartz on top that looked kind of like ice. it formed part of the choke-point just before the "V" where the top opens up into a bowl of sorts.

the 'shark fin was our destination when things broke. i was within 20ft of it (roughly the top of the green line on the drawing). tmail was to my right - almost the same elevation. I shot downhill, following the green ascent route and under tmail, who was then thrown down behind me.

the image is detailed enough that you can zoom in to the 'cliff' that we launched over. it's labeled on the pic. the brook that runs through the middle of it creates an ice fall over the winter, building it up to a roughly 6-8ft cliff. while that's not much, it amounts to a big launch when the slope below it is at 30°.

during the descent i thought that we had launched into the next ravine over to climber's right, into the trees/rocks where the word "LANDING" is on my annotation.


Saturday 7/25

The Pemi has been postponed for drier days (August 22nd) but the Wind Wild River Basin called and MadDog picked up the phone. The route hasn't been planned, but MD is bringing his knee brace and stump (sounds like MD's an amputee) and according to MD, we'll do something behind the Carters.

Bike? Hike? Run? MadDog, it's your call.

[Update 7/25, 6:30pm] Hillman's Highway. You got that right. A bushwack up that bad boy, even though it was though nearly impossible. It took 2.5 hours from Hermit Lake to the ridge. Trip report coming soon.

Finally: The Trip Reports (pics are here):

MadDog's Report:

A couple of observations:

  • Mark this date, and don't go near Pinkham Notch! I have never seen so many people at the facility, parked up and down 16, and on the mountain.
  • The bushwhack was a total scramble, and was awesome. Travel was wet, slow and full of uncertainty.
  • The payback for #2 was the views - just great.
  • I enjoyed being perched up on the Dodge's lunch rock, and hear Mutha with the play-by-play. Amazing just how close the guys were from a great hike, vs a helluva ride.
  • Mutha's a mountain rock star...on the way across Boott Spur we bumped into a guy who knew the story of the avi.
  • I need some practice still on setting the knee bra. It will come.

Mutha's Trip Report:
  • The demons were exorcised. We retrieved the axes (one of mine, one of tMail's) from Anthony - one of the caretakers - and I climbed July ice.
  • Following MadDog fresh off the Death Race is impossible. I carefully worked my way up boulders as slippery as greased glass. MadDog ate them, shit them out, and climbed the gravel pile.
  • For anyone heading up that way: navigating is more about, say, following the brooks. You can't see out of the brush. We had to make a few important route decisions - be prepared for that. Also, don't do this if you are claustrophobic or uncomfortable with steep, rugged terrain. MadDog, you're not claustrophobic, are you?
  • Our decision to do Hillman's instead of Dodge's was more about a concern about the 'cliffs' and unstable rock at the top. Still a concern, although I'm still tempted to try it having now succeeded on Hillman's.
  • Discussed the "Pinkham Decision". We considered the scenario where we get pounded by lightening and one of us dies or one or both are injured. Which was the bad decision and had that decision already been made? It had. It was made at Pinkham Notch. (Translation: if you don't go up, you can't get hurt up there.). A more proper translation is: there's no single bad decision, only a chain of them leading to an accident.


Jackson & Beyond

The plan for Sunday (7/19) is Webster-Jackson trail to Jackson, then on to Pierce and who knows what else. Tentative attendees:

Mr., Mrs., and Riley PuppetMaster
Mr. & Spanky Mutha

Estimated fun factor: High.

mutha's trip report:
Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower as planned. Aside from the great company and good times, I have only one specific memory: at the end of the hike we stopped at the falls just before the Clinton Road cutoff trail on the Crawford Path. The falls terminate in a frigid pool where we all put our feet in. Well, I kind of sat in to get cold and wet up to my hips.

The PuppetMaster however waded slowly into the deeper part, and standing waist deep in water contemplated going under. After some chit-chat about nothing in particular he suddenly lunged forward in a kind of awkward, but brass-balled dive into the ice-cold, deep pool, shouting:


He surfaced, eyes wide, mouth wide open, gasping for breath. His first words were "tMail would've done that! oh god, it's cold!"

It was awesome.
pics here.

The Puppet Master's trip report:
Great fun today. The Jackson 5 attacked the tour and won the fans over, big time!

Beautiful trails between Jackson and Mitzpah. Not too many wackos out - just two angry Lebanese.

My boys just dropped back to normal state - the swim at the end made them crawl somewhere into my northern terminus. Note to self, while standing in freezong cold water, never ask yourself "What would TMail do?" (SPLASH!)

pics here


The Pemi Plan

Lately I've taken to actually posting specific plans, goals and strategies on this blog. While it seems like a bad idea (gosh, what if my plans suck???), given the high probability of failure, I must admit I don't really mind. At least I have a plan.

The graph (on right) shows last year's Solo Pemi as an elevation vs. time plot in gray. In red (or whatever color that is...pumpkin?) is this year's plan.

The idea is the shave off an hour of my total time. It's hard to tell without really looking closely at the graph, but the general plan is to hit Bondcliff and Bond in the same time as last year. Then it look 6 hours from Bond to Lafayette last year and I want to do it in 5hrs this time. The entire hour I want to earn will be done in that one stretch.

This is really sketchy though. Between South Twin and Lafayette is the "Garfield Ridge Trail". This is the most unmanageable section of trail on this trek. It's the one section that can't be done fast - it's so horribly difficult. The question then naturally arises: "Mutha, why do you think you can shave an hour off this one section between Bond and Lafayette?" The answer is simply this: last year, it's where I spent most of my time not moving forward. I took pictures, I chatted with people, etc. By the time I hit Lafayette I wouldn't even look anyone in the eye. I was so mentally fucked up that I stepped on somebody's lunch because the douchebag was sitting in the trail eating. I couldn't shave a minute off the Franconia Ridge section.

I think I "wasted" almost 30 minutes, and that 30 minutes can be made up. Where does the other 30 minutes come from? No idea really. I think sub-12 isn't really reasonable for me at this point - especially given how little mountain hiking I've done this season (none) due to some personal injury issues.

The other fun part is that MadDog, the PuppetMaster and g-$$$ may come along for the ride - although they may have less aggressive goals. There's also some kind of race taking place - doing the pemi loop - but I don't know their start time.

Sub 12 Pemi? Who cares. Might as well give it a shot. It's really just for the fun of it. It's not like I'm getting paid. I figure if Maddog and I could tear up the double-gap last week, and tMail and I could eat up 26.2 miles of White Mountain Madness last summer, this is just another day out in the hills.

Worst case I have a story to tell.


Wed/Thu Madness

Wednesday is Burke Mtn again w/ Andy, Ken, Spanky & me. Andy & Ken will be on bikes, Spanky and I are running it. Andy's doing repeats - two up-and-downs to my one up-and-down on foot. we'll see.

Thusday the PuppetMaster and I have a ski-slope date. Ooooh, I hope he brings the Bag-o'-Fun!

[Update 7/15]: Thursday is out so the PM can deliver the goods to Mrs. PM. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Ran Burke again today with Andy, Ken and Spanky. Am making progress. Today I shaved a minute or so off my time, but the bigger news is that I'm up to 59ft/min. 60 one day? maybe. that'd hurt.

The different profile features at the right are due to what we do at the summit. Today we (Spanky & I) ran back down to the parking lot and hung out w/ Ken while Andy rode back down and rode back up AGAIN. (Crazy monster.)

At minute 13 or so you can see a bump in today's profile. For about a minute I cranked it up to 70ft/min to pass Andy on "The Headwall" - a sudden very steep section of the road that is really punishing.


Whose Idea Was This?

The plan for Saturday, 7/10, is a double-gap loop. It started when MadDog and I decided we wanted to go for a bike ride. Maybe a few miles, get a sandwich or slice of pizza and stare at the clouds.

Now, it's me, AG, BIL Ken (BIL = brother-in-law), maddog, BIL Paul, Andre, g-$$$...I think I've got everyone. B can't make it this weekend, nor can the PM.

So the trek is: middlebury gap & appalachian gap. 60 70 miles and about 4,300ft elevation gain. billions of aches and pains. ow, ow, ow.


Burke Mtn, Part Deux

Today I ran Burke Mtn again. Friends Andy and his brother-in-law Ken rode mountain bikes. Spanky came along for the run.

My time was roughly the same as a month ago - I guess a minute or two faster. It's such a great run. It's tough on a bike, mostly due to the additional poundage, but we all finished about a minute or so apart.

It makes me think a lot about Pikes Peak. But in the meantime we have a Pemi-Loop at the end of July. We haven't settled on a date but I think we tentatively scheduled it for the 25th.

Mmmmmm, 9200ft elevation gain. How altitudilicious.