Running with the Hayneses

Spring Presidential Traverse

The Presidential Traverse is one continuous hike over all 9 mountains in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains (Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower and Pierce). It’s about 20 miles long with over 9,000 feet of elevation gain. We hiked the traverse last fall, and it was definitely one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. In October, with the colorful foliage in the valley and the blanket of rime ice on the peaks, the scenery could not have been more spectacularly beautiful. I think that fall is probably the prettiest time of year to hike the Whites, but the mountains are breathtaking in any season, and ever since our last trip I’ve wanted to go back and do the traverse again in the spring to see them in a different light.

We were particularly interested in seeing the spring wildflowers in the Alpine Garden on the slopes of Mount Washington. I read that the best time to see the most blooms is generally mid-June, so we planned our trip for June 20th, weather-permitting. As it turned out, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to hike in the Whites–brilliantly sunny, not a cloud in the sky and 100-mile visibility. It was the kind of rare day that only happens about 20 times a year on Mount Washington.

On Saturday morning we met our friend Joel at the southern terminus of our route, leaving a car there for later, and drove north to start at the Appalachia trailhead. The parking lot there was already full, so we had to park on the side of the highway. It was a busy day in the Whites!DSC00888

8:15 start at Appalachia

From there we took Valley Way to the summit of Madison. This is the longest climb of the day, as we ascend over 4,000 feet in 3.8 miles. We were able to run a good portion of the first couple of miles, but as the trail got steeper and rockier, we were reduced to a fast hike.

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We broke out above the tree line at the Madison Hut, .5 miles from the summit, and from there took the Osgood Trail to the top.

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Madison Hut

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Looking towards the summit

The trail turned into a rock scramble after we passed through the belt of trees you see in the picture above.

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This isn’t a very good picture because we were hiking directly into the sun, but it gives you an idea of what we had to pick our way through to get to the top. Also, speaking of the sun, it was quite a warm day on the mountains, even bordering on hot when we were out of the wind, but I didn’t dare take my long sleeve shirt off because I knew I’d get roasted by the sun!

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At the summit we paused to enjoy the view and get our picture taken on the tippy top. This is my favorite picture of the day. :) Then, we headed back down and began our climb up the next peak, Adams.

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From the Madison summit, looking towards Adams in the foreground and Washington in the distance.

We made a quick stop at the Madison Hut to top off our water supplies, then took the Gulfside Trail up Adams.

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Looking back on Madison as we climb Adams

Even though it’s not far from Madison to Adams (about a mile), the trail is nothing but jagged rocks and boulders the entire way, so it’s SLOOOOOOOW going.

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At the summit, looking down on Madison. We climbed over rocks like these all the way up.

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Selfie on the summit

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Looking towards Jefferson (up next) and Washington. There’s still snow on the slopes of both peaks!

We had a longer distance (about 2.5 miles) to cover as we made our way to Jefferson, crossing the long, flat plain of Edmunds Col. The trail through this section is still completely strewn with rocks, but we did make faster time since we didn’t have to deal with a steep pitch as well.

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Playing in the snow on the slopes of Jefferson! 

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We perched on the summit for a picture with Washington in the background.

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View of Washington and beyond!

From there we headed towards Clay, which is really only a “shoulder” of Mount Washington and not technically an independent peak.

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Looking back on the three monsters we just climbed!

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Wildflowers on the way to Clay

It’s a little over a mile to Clay and then another mile to Washington after that.

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The Great Gulf

Clay is an easy climb and before we know it we were climbing the summit cone of Mount Washington!

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Our trail crossed the Cog Railroad tracks. In the background you can see Clay, Jefferson, Adams and Madison!

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The Cog went by right after we crossed the tracks!

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The Mount Washington summit

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View to the north from the summit

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We stopped at the summit to eat lunch in the cafeteria (pizza and chili!) and refill our hydration packs. We were tempted to eat outside at the picnic tables, but the temperature was only in the 40’s up there, and we were a little cold, so we stayed inside. We spent about half an hour there before heading back out again to tackle the second half of our traverse! Counting all our stops, we’d been on the trail for almost 6 hours already!

We left the summit via the Nelson Crag Trail, which would bring us to the Alpine Gardens where I hoped to see fields of wildflowers!

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Only in the White Mountains does THIS qualify as a TRAIL!

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Once we descended Nelson Crag, we got on the Alpine Garden Trail which cut straight across the slope of Mount Washington. It was much easier going, and the trail was beautiful, BUT there were very few wildflowers. :( We did enjoy the lushness of this area compared to the barrenness that is typical of the higher summits, but I was disappointed to not see more flowers.

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We did see lots of these yellow flowers.

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And some white ones as well, but that was about it.

Next we got on the Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail to take us back to the top of the ridge. The Alpine Garden detour added about two miles to our trip, but we really enjoyed taking a different route and seeing parts of Washington that we hadn’t seen before, especially Tuckerman’s.

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Tuckerman’s Ravine

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There was still a good amount of snow in Tuckerman’s, and we could see recent snowboard tracks down the longest strip (which is longer than it looks in the picture :) ).

We linked up with the Crawford Path near the Lake of the Clouds Hut on the other side of Mount Washington, which as you can see below, is a barren tundra compared to the Alpine Garden area.

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Looking back at Washington

At the Lake of the Clouds Hut we made a quick stop to top off our water again, and then we were off to tackle Monroe! I was really starting to feel the effects of the sun by this point in spite of applying sunscreen multiple times and keeping my arms covered. I felt like my skin was being roasted, and I could not wait to get back below the treeline! Unfortunately, we still had three mountains to go. :/

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Lake of the Clouds

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Wildflowers on the way up Monroe

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On the Monroe summit!

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View to the south from Monroe

After Monroe the trail gets a lot more runable and the climbs get a lot shorter, so we were able to run more and more from this point on. The mountains are a little further apart, about 1.5 miles between each summit, but we are also able to cover the ground a lot faster. On our way to Eisenhower, we hit Franklin, which is also not an independent peak, so it’s a very short climb.

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A nice section of trail on the way to Eisenhower (looking back at Monroe).

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Descending Monroe and heading towards our second-to-last peak, Eisenhower

DSC00957On the summit of Eisenhower

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Panoramic to the west

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Panoramic to the east

Clouds were starting to move in by the time we summited Eisenhower, so we were getting some relief from the scorching sun. Also, at this point we were quickly approaching our final peak, Pierce, where we would finally descend back into the trees.

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Pierce on the left and Eisenhower on the right

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Alpine Azaleas

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A final look back from Pierce before heading down below the treeline.

The descent from the Pierce summit to Mizpah Hut is really steep and technical, to the point where you have to hold on to the trees on the sides of the trail to help lower yourself down from rock to rock. Thankfully it’s only about half a mile. We decided not to stop at the Mizpah Hut, since we only had 2.5 miles to go, and from that point on we ran hard in spite of tired legs and sore feet.

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Gibbs Falls on the way down Pierce

We popped out of the woods into the parking lot at the base of Pierce at 7:45, after covering 22 miles in 11.5 hours. We were tired, sunburned, starved, thirsty, and happy. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Yeti Run for Nepal

This past weekend we took part in the Yeti Run for Nepal, a fundraiser put on by Greg Watson of TARC (Trail Animals Running Club) to benefit our fellow trail runners in Nepal who lost their homes during the recent earthquakes.

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The 6 hour run took place at the Blue Hills Reservation, just south of Boston. I had never run there before and was surprised to find an expansive network of over 100 miles of trails so close to the city. The plan for the day was for a group run to depart on a different loop of 5-6 miles every hour, allowing for runners of all abilities to easily join in or drop out whenever they liked.

Peter, Jaime and I had a long, early-morning drive to the Blue Hills, so we chose to skip the first hour and joined in at 7:00 a.m. When we got there the group was still out completing their first loop, so we sampled the aid station fare and chatted with Greg’s mom, who would be manning our base camp for the day. We were joined by a few other late starters, and soon the early group returned and we all set out again together.

From there the day consisted of running lots of amazing trails, meeting a bunch of new people, seeing some great views and eating way too many of Greg’s mom’s AMAZING cookies. :)

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 Our first loop was a mostly double-track loop around the reservoir.

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 Our second loop was the more challenging single-track of the yellow loop.

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 For our third loop we tackled one of the bigger hills and got a glimpse of the Boston skyline.

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 Greg and Jaime enjoying the view

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 We stopped for a bit on the summit to take a group picture.

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 We probably had twice this many earlier in the day–several had left by this point.

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 We finished off the run with one last big climb on our 5th loop and got another great hilltop view.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures, and I don’t know the names of any of the trails we ran on or the hills we climbed because I was too busy enjoying the chance to run with so many new people.  Up here in rural NH, we don’t have big groups of people getting together to do long trail runs, so this was a rare treat for us. We’re grateful to all you Bostonians for showing us around your beautiful trails! I wish we lived closer so that we could join in on group training runs like this more often!

The Stats:

In all I ran 23.5 miles in 5.5 hrs., and in the process I consumed 6 delicious cookies: 2 ginger molasses, 2 oatmeal raisin, 2 peanut butter. The fact that I am still obsessed with these cookies almost a week later tells you how good they were. :) More important even than that though is the fact that our small group of maybe 25 runners raised over $1,000 for the runners in Nepal! It was a great day all around, and I’m so glad we went!

 

 

 

Mount Ascutney Quadruple Bypass

A little over a month ago we attempted the Mount Ascutney Quadruple Bypass (up and down all four base-to-summit trails) for the first time, but due to thigh-deep snow, we only managed a Double Bypass. Because that attempt failed, it was therefore absolutely imperative that we try again as soon as possible. :) After discovering that May 30th was the annual Ascutney Day Picnic and that there would be free food at the summit for all hikers, we decided that would be the day!

In planning out our day, we estimated that we maintain an average pace of about 2.75 miles an hour all day (including all stops), which would mean it’d take us about 10 hours total. Daunting, but doable.

We started at 7:15 on Saturday morning at the base of the Weathersfield Trail (2.9 miles). This trail is unique because of it’s proximity to Cascade Falls, an impressive 84-foot waterfall. The trail does not provide access to the base of the waterfall, but does pass by the top where we got our first look out over the countryside. Unfortunately, Saturday was hot and humid right from the start, so our views were pretty hazy all day.

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Weathersfield Trail is probably the most technical of Ascutney’s four trails, with lots of rocks and roots from bottom to top.

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We made it to the summit in just over an hour, after taking a couple of quick detours to enjoy the views from Gus’s Lookout and the West Peak Vista. Right on schedule!

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 Selfie at Gus’s

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 West Peak Vista

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Beautiful section of trail just before the summit

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Photo Op because we still felt like we had all the time in the world! :)

From the summit we immediately headed down the Brownsville Trail (3.2 miles) and soon ran into this big guy who was out for a morning stroll. :)

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He was not the least bit concerned about our presence, and we followed along patiently behind him until he relinquished the trail and headed off into the woods. :)

The Brownsville Trail is easily the trail with the most to see. There are four lookouts, as well as the remains of a granite quarry from the early 1900’s. We stopped at all the lookouts, but I didn’t take pictures at most of them because the view was so limited.

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 Norcross Quarry

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I like how this area of the forest is so open.

From the quarry to the base, about a mile or so, the trail is relatively smooth double-track, so we were able to run this whole section and make good time. We started to meet a lot of hikers heading up the mountain at this point, and many of them expressed their concern that we were going to miss the picnic! We assured them, “Don’t worry, we’re going back up!” :)

We hit the bottom with an elapsed time of 2:15 total and turned right around to begin our second ascent. Again, we were able to run a good section of the lower portion of the trail before we got to the steeper, more technical stuff.

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The point where all running ceased. :)

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Approaching the summit for the second time.

We made our second ascent in an hour, for a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes, and were greeted at the summit with a gourmet picnic lunch! We had expected nothing more than PB&J and maybe some chips, so we were pleasantly surprised to find about ten different kinds of sandwiches on all different kinds of bread, along with cookies, granola bars, apples and lemonade! I had a hummus sandwich and Peter had peanut butter and honey, plus cookies for us both. :) We sat down to rest and eat, spending roughly 15 minutes at the summit before heading down our third trail. I regret that I didn’t get a picture of the picnic set-up, but I was focused on eating quickly and getting on our way without losing too much time.

We started down the Windsor Trail (2.7 miles), which we chose at this time because it is the shortest, and we wanted to get down and back up as quickly as possible with the hope that we’d catch the tail end of the picnic on our third summit. Unfortunately, near the top, the Windsor Trail intersects with the Futures Trail (4.6 miles), and we made the fatal mistake of not paying close enough attention to the signs and ended up on the Futures Trail. By the time we realized our mistake, we decided it wasn’t worth back-tracking–we’d just have to pick up the pace on Futures.

Futures Trail is the longest trail, but because it goes out of it’s way to avoid technical terrain and steep grades, it is far more runable than the other trails. In my opinion it’s also the most beautiful trail, and I especially enjoyed the wildflowers and grassy woodland savannas.

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Violets lining both sides of the trail.

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Running through the woodland savanna–my favorite spot on the whole mountain!

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We saw lots of Jack-in-the-Pulpits!

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Panoramic of the woodland savanna

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Pretty yellow wildflowers

We made it to the base of the trail, located at the Ascutney State Park Campground, and quickly refilled our hydration packs at the camp water spicket before heading back up. We pushed hard on our way back because we were dreaming of ham and pickle sandwiches!

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Stone steps on one of the connector trails near the summit.

We didn’t make any stops and skipped the detour to see the Steam Donkey (a machine used for logging on the mountain during the early 1900’s), but unfortunately, even though we made the ascent in an hour and a half, the picnic crew had packed up and left by the time we got there. :( This was so disheartening that I was tempted to give up on our fourth summit, but Peter didn’t want to quit.

So we summoned what little motivation we had left and started off down the Windsor Trail. In my opinion, the Windsor Trail is the least interesting trail on the mountain. There’s an old log shelter near the top, and I believe there’s a lookout on the Blood Rock Trail Spur, but we didn’t take the time to venture out there.

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We did see these beautiful painted trilliums near the top of the Windsor Trail.

During this descent, I started feeling the effects of the 21+ miles we’d already traveled. My quads were getting sore, and I felt like we were slowing down a lot, especially as we picked our way through the rocks near the top. This trail is very similar to the Brownsville Trail in terms of terrain–steep, rocky and technical on the top half and more gradual and smooth on towards the bottom. We managed a hobbling run on the bottom section and made the descent in an hour flat. I couldn’t believe we were still sticking to our goal pace!

Then it was time for our last ascent. This was BRUUUUUUUUTAL. We had nothing left in the tank for this climb and were unable to run at all, even on the easier sections. We did get a little boost though when we happened upon a bag of Twizzlers that someone had dropped alongside the trail!

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Yes, we ate them. :) Also, notice my dirty legs–it was a hot, dusty day on the mountain!

We stopped shortly after that at Gerry’s Falls to refill our packs again and wash our faces and arms in the refreshingly cold water. Thankfully, even though it was a scorching, 90-degree day, we had a breeze and lots of shade to keep us from overheating. At the summit it was probably 10+ degrees cooler and didn’t feel hot at all.

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Utterly exhausted.

We reached the summit for our 4th and final time in an hour and a half, total elapsed time of 9.5 hours. We had fallen off pace for the first time all day, but at this point it hardly mattered.

Before heading back down for our last time, we climbed the observation tower to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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Then we picked our way down the treacherous Weathersfield Trail, shredding every remaining muscle fiber in our quads in the process. We finished in 10.5 hours total with approximately 27 miles and 24,000+/- accumulated elevation change. This was definitely one of the crazier things we’ve done, and I don’t think I’ll feel the need to do it again. :)

* * * * *

If reading this has inspired you to do something similar, we ran into another hiker on Saturday who told us about an upcoming event that she has planned called the Ascutney Triple. It’s the same concept as what we did, only with three summits instead of four, and a wider variety of trails including the auto road and the Bicentennial Trail (spurs off from the Weathersfield Trail) so that no trail is repeated. It’s on Saturday, June 27th at 7:00 a.m. Peter and I haven’t decided yet if we’re going to do it or not, but it’s a distinct possibility. :)

Six Hours in Paradise Course Preview

A friend of ours, Ben Pangie, is putting together a new ultra race for this August called Six Hours in Paradise. The race will be held in Paradise Park, located in Windsor, VT, and it will be a 6-hour race on a short loop (or series of loops) course. Ben’s still working on the exact course layout, so he invited a bunch of local runners to come do a course preview this past weekend and give feedback on the trails. There’s nothing I love more than exploring new trails, so I was all over this chance to get in a long run in a new place with other runners.

There ended up only being five of us, including Ben, but I had a great time meeting a couple of new people, and the trails were spectacular!  Ben started us off by leading us through three different loops, totalling four miles. The park is fairly small and has about 5 miles of trails, so this was just enough of a tour to give us a sense of how everything is laid out. Ben had to leave at that point, and the other runners stayed for varying amounts of mileage, until finally I was the last runner standing. My goal was to get in 20 miles for the day, so I continued looping through the park and exploring all the new trails I came across. I entertained myself by taking pictures and experimenting with different trail combinations until I found my favorite sequence. :) I found that there’s enough variety and so much to see that I never got bored!

Here are some pictures of the beautiful trails, scenery and wildlife you’ll see if you come to Six Hours in Paradise:

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 View of the water tower from the Water Tower Loop

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Wild flowers in the picnic area

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Spring greenery everywhere as I head towards the Lake Trail

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The Lake Trail: possibly my favorite part of the whole park!

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Check out the turtles on the log!

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Crossing the Main Dike to run the Meadow Loop

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There were LOTS of turtles sunning themselves all around the sides of the lake!

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I couldn’t get enough of these guys! :)

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The meadow loop with a beautiful view of Ascutney in the background!

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My favorite part of the meadow was that it was lined with bird houses, most of which were actively in use!

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More pristine single-track on the Hubbard Brook Trail!

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The brook is beautiful and refreshing (I stopped to wash my face and arms once it got hot)!

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The most challenging trail in the park is the Ridge Loop with it’s STEEP hills.

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It’s also probably the most fun trail though, once you’re on top of the ridge. :)

Just in case the pictures didn’t already say this loud and clear, I’ll spell it out: you should definitely run this race. :)

Unfortunately, for Peter and I, the timing is bad–it’s less than a week after our 6-day stage race in Colorado. I’m not expecting to be terribly mobile that soon after the TransRockies Run, so I don’t think I’ll be competing in the race. I do hope to come volunteer and cheer on the runners though, and I’d love to see you there!

Mount Ascutney Double Bypass

Every now and then I dream up some sort of adventure on a whim, and then, no matter how crazy my idea is, I can’t get it out of my head until I make a plan to act on it. This is exactly what happened in early April when Peter and I were discussing plans to hike nearby Mount Ascutney in Windsor, VT with a friend. As we were talking about the various trails, the thought popped into my head that it would be really awesome to hike ALL FOUR of Ascutney’s base to summit trails. In ONE DAY. (Why do I do this to myself?)

Of course, I was instantly obsessed with the idea, and therefore it had to be done as soon as possible. :) Peter and I had one free weekend between our two April 50K races, and we needed to get in a long training run, so to me that seemed to be the perfect opportunity to tackle our Ascutney adventure. The whim quickly solidified itself into a plan, and thereafter became known as the Mount Ascutney Quadruple Bypass.

We decided that we would start at the Weathersfield Trail, work our way up and down the other three trails (Futures, Windsor and Brownsville), then come back down Weathersfield to finish. The trails are all about 3-4 miles long, and going up and down each one would give us a total of 27-28 miles for the day. Being mid-April, we also had to plan for various snow conditions, so we carried our microspikes with us and had snowshoes in our car just in case.

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 Starting at the base of the Weathersfield Trail

There was a dusting of snow on the ground when we started, and we encountered a fair amount of ice pretty early on, but our microspikes allowed us to easily navigate even the nastiest sections.

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Lower section of Cascade Falls

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Our first lookout, just above Cascade Falls

Once we got above Cascade Falls (maybe about halfway up), we started seeing more snow. The trail had been fairly well packed by hikers throughout the winter, so we didn’t have any trouble with breaking trail or post-holing. Though near the top the snow got MUCH deeper, and the trail wasn’t as nicely packed, so we slowed to pick our way more carefully.

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Nearing the summit for the first time

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Once we hit the summit, we immediately started heading towards the Futures Trail to make our first descent. Unfortunately, there are a lot of connector trails at the top that are not super well-marked, so we did quite a bit of wandering through waist deep snow trying to find the right trail.

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With no packed trail, we were post-holing with nearly every step!

We finally found the Futures Trail after wasting about half an hour, and to our dismay, the trail hadn’t been used at all and was nearly impossible to traverse without sinking to our waists with every step. We were already frustrated with the time it took just getting to the trail, so we decided that it wasn’t worth fighting with the snow any longer. We retraced our steps and headed down the Windsor Trail instead.

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Junction sign at the top of the Futures Trail–still about 4 feet of snow up there!

The Windsor Trail was a DREAM compared to the other trails! It had obviously been snowshoed frequently, and the wide, packed trail felt like a highway!

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The Windsor Trail Highway :)

We made really good time coming down this trail, and didn’t encounter any obstacles until we hit sheets of ice near the bottom. Again, our microspikes saved the day, and we were able to run easily and safely on the ice.

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The snow ends…

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…and the ice begins!

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At the bottom we posed for a quick picture at the trailhead before heading right back up. On our second time up the mountain we were definitely feeling our climbing muscles–my butt and lower back were on fire! I was suddenly glad that we had been forced to cut our hike down to a Triple Bypass. :)

This time when we got to the summit, we took the short side trail out to the Brownsville Rock overlook. The view was spectacular!

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From there we headed down the Brownsville Trail, and again, the trail conditions left A LOT to be desired. Especially after being spoiled by the Windsor Trail! 11121307_10100147295716414_6187686832113987238_o

The trail was absolutely destroyed by deep post-holes, and at this point in the day, we just didn’t have the energy to deal with this mess. We toughed it our for a short ways before deciding it was only going to be a Double Bypass after all. :/

So we headed back up to the summit, and this time climbed the observation tower to enjoy the 360-degree view before making our final descent.

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The Weathersfield Trail seemed more technical on the way down than it had on the way up, and the rocks and roots made the descent almost as difficult as the ascent! We stopped for a bit of a rest about halfway down to admire a gigantic ice flow just below Cascade Falls.

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Back at our car, we contemplated driving to the base of the Futures Trail to make the hike with our snowshoes. We decided to drive over and check it out, but then once we got there we were distracted by a new mountain biking trail across the road. Flat, smooth single-track looked pretty inviting after the way we’d spent our morning, so we opted to explore this 4-mile loop instead.

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By the time we finished that, we’d amassed 16 miles for the day, most of them grueling, back-breaking miles, so we called it a day and headed for home.

We do plan to attempt our Quadruple Bypass again on May 30th. This happens to be the date of the 49th annual Ascutney Day Picnic, and there will be free food and drinks for hikers at the Stone Shelter. I figure if someone’s going to set up an aid station, we are certainly going to take advantage of it! :) We’d like to get together a group of runners this time to tackle the challenge with us, so if you’d like to join us for an epic adventure, let me know!

TARC Spring Classic 50K DNF

The Spring Classic was the culmination of my races for the first half of this year, as I am planning to spend the summer focusing solely on training for the TransRockies Run in August. For most of the people at the Spring Classic, this was their first race of the year, but for me it was my fourth, and I had big plans for it to be my fastest. Then, as so often happens, circumstances escaped my control, and a tiny little bone in my foot caused those big plans to be laid aside.

As I was out running on the Saturday before the race, I rolled my ankle and popped my cuboid out of joint. My thoughts: Ouch. Bad timing.

This was something that has happened before though, and I knew that a visit to the chiropractor should set me right, but I wasn’t able to get an appointment until Thursday. Two days before the race. Really bad timing.

I avoided all impact activities that week and spent as little time on my feet as possible, but my foot pain got worse every day. Finally, the much-needed appointment came, and afterwards I felt immediate relief. I was still very unsure about whether or not it would be wise to attempt a 50K so soon after that kind of foot trauma, but I figured I’d play it by ear and hope for the best.

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 photo by Edith O Dixon

Thankfully, the Spring Classic course set-up is perfect for a play-it-by-ear strategy because it’s a 10K loop that we repeat 5 times. I knew I could drop out if and when I needed to. As we started the first lap, I tried to focus on being cautious instead of competitive, but the relatively easy trail (mostly smooth, little elevation change) made it difficult for me to pace myself.

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photo by Edith O Dixon

I did the first 10K in an hour, felt great and had no foot pain. Lap #2 went smoothly as well, though I felt like I was exerting myself a little bit more to maintain the same pace. I started in on my third lap thinking that maybe I’d be able to pull off a top 3 finish and/or a PR after all, and I pushed myself a bit harder with that possibility in mind.

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 photo by Edith O Dixon

About halfway through the third lap I rolled my injured foot again. I had started thinking competitively and stopped being careful, and I paid the price. I didn’t immediately feel any pain, but it was a mental blow, and suddenly my head just wasn’t in the game anymore. I was super worried about hurting myself, my legs felt tired, and I had no motivation to push myself, so I slowed considerably. I spent the rest of that lap debating about whether or not I should drop out when I got back to the start.

That third lap took me 10 minutes longer to complete, and still I hadn’t made a decision, so I stood around for awhile at the aid station trying to figure out what to do. My foot wasn’t bothering me yet, but I was favoring it and didn’t know if it was worth trying to get in another lap when I knew now that I wouldn’t finish the race. On the other hand, Peter wouldn’t be done for at least another hour, and I didn’t relish sitting on the sidelines for that long getting chilled. I decided to do one more lap, as slowly as necessary, just to pass the time.

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 photo by Edith O Dixon

It ended up being a VERY slow lap, and I walked considerable portions of it as I got more tired, less motivated and started feeling increasing discomfort in my foot. By the time I was nearing the start again there was no longer any question about whether or not to drop out. That lap took me a full 30 minutes longer to complete than my first two laps, and I was glad that I now had a legitimate reason to bail out of my sinking ship. :)

I may not have an official finisher’s time or place for this race, but I enjoyed a beautiful, sunny morning on pristine trails with a bunch of fellow trail animals, and I’m grateful for that.

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 We also got some awesome shirts!

Capture

And tons of good food!! photo by Jim Roche

TARC knows how to do a race right, and I’m looking forward to running the Fall Classic, always assuming I still have legs after the TransRockies Run!

Rockin’ Ham 5K

It’s been about 4 years since I ran my last 5K, and I can’t say I had any intentions of returning to the type of race where you run so hard you feel you’re going to puke. When it came to the Rockin’ Ham 5K though, there were extenuating circumstances. Chief of which were the fact that my husband was one of the race directors, and the fact that it was a fundraiser for the PTO at his school. He was really excited about the race and really proud of all the work he’d put into it, so he desperately wanted me to come and run it. I stubbornly held out on registering until the week of the race when his increasing excitement finally rubbed off on me, and I decided it would be fun to do a short race for a change.

My goal going into the race was, as usual, to win. :) It was a fairly small race (200-ish people), and most of the entrants were students and their families, so I figured I had a good shot. Race day was chilly and very windy. I showed up about half an hour early and ran one loop of the course (2.5K) to warm up and get an idea of what I was in for.

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At the start: Peter is on the far right in yellow, and I am to his right in green.  Photo by Gail Hynes.

When the race started, only one other girl went out faster than me, so I decided to tuck in behind her and wait for a chance to make a move. Most of the first half of the loop was downhill, so I enjoyed the easy speed. After that we started heading back uphill towards the start, and that’s where the lead girl started to fade. I decided the hills would be a good chance to put some distance between myself and her, so I powered through the rest of the loop imagining that she was right on my tail.

As it happens, I never saw her again, and my second loop of the course was slightly more relaxed since I didn’t have to fight for the lead (and my stomach was threatening to rebel, so that may have had something to do with the slower pace as well :) ). I finished triumphantly, high-fiving my husband as I entered the finish chute with a clock time of 21:07! Peter had run the race as well and finished in 5th with a time of 18:17.

This was a 5K PR for me, and it was also the first time that I’ve won a prize of monetary value!

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Easter dinner: check!

One thing I’d forgotten about 5K races: it’s insane how quickly the race was run and done! I’m used to my races taking up an entire day, and this one only took about an hour, including driving time and getting there early! I didn’t quite know what to do with myself when it was over, so I went out and ran another 5 miles just for good measure. :)