Monday, August 30, 2010

LT Day 5

Secret Shelter - Inn at Long Trail (10.6)

It's 6am, i hear Heather's alarm go off. The plan is Long Trail by 3pm. Dustin and I are both skeptical of this plan, we've got a lot of climbing, many miles and time is against us. I decide i'm not carrying any more food so i cook up my extra dinner and breakfast and gave it to Wink.

I head off down the trail alone until Governor Clement shelter which was amazing. Stone fireplace and a HUGE overhang in the shelter, no wonder it's a great local party spot. While reading the register Inchworm screams past. I sit and wait for Wink and Clothespin, after they sign in and catch up on the people they'd been hiking with in the log we head off up the old washed out road.

(Governor Clement Shelter)

The trail deverts to the left and the climb begins. I quickly pull ahead and find myself alone for some time. I stop and listen for voices or trekking pole clicks forward or behind but hear nothing. I give up the fact that i will catch up with inchworm and i start taking breaks when i feel like it. I dunk my head in the first running stream i find and rend my shirt and go topless for the rest of the climb.

(They say Tree's Can Hear you, this one can)

I tell myself i can have a rest when i get to the Sherburn Pass Spur 2.7 miles up. But when i get there I'm feeling so good and since there is no were to stop i push on up Little Killington and get more sporatic views of Killinton ahead. I spot the tree monster to the left of the trail and it can only make me laugh.

I wonder if 5 days in the woods is too much, or perhaps because i get such joy from simply an uprooted tree, not long enough. Now i have yet to pick or get a trail name. Anonymity has been kind of neat out here on the trail. Since day one i had been keeping and eye out in the millions of clovers that line the trails. Today i found one, i squatted down and plucked a 4 leaf clover. Instantly giving me the trail name 4Leaf. Pleasantly happy with my find i tuck the clover into my camera pocket and with a big grin push on down the trail.

I catch up with Inchworm at the next platform where we wait for the other. We shed our packs again and climb up the steep rocky Spur to the top of Killington. The climb was a bear but the stunning views of Rutland, Pico and beyond made it worth while

(Traveler's 3, with Pico in the distance)

The trail heads down the west slope of Killington past the Cooper Lodge Shelter and along rolling terrain towards Pico. I catch up with Wink, and we chat a little. It's the first time we've really talked one on one. After brief stop at Jungle Junction and we decide we can make it to Mendon's lookout a mile down the trail for lunch by 1 if we hustle. While eating we feed Salene some of the lunch we don't want to eat or carry anymore and he gobbles it up. With the Long Trail Brewery on the horizon, it was all of the motivation we needed. Down the trail past the massive glacier placed rocks and into a fern gully. The trail was so beautifully smooth and rolling i actually ran a large section of it with a 40lb pack.

(Fern Gully Trail)

I catch up to Dustin about the time that a family approaches looking for a waterfall. We both scratch our heads and tell them we havn't seen a thing. I guess people like that are why NH now has the pay for your own rescue. I'm always amazed how people will just walk into the woods with one 22oz aluminum tin of water and expect to hike several miles with no map, no nothing. I laugh and ask how long you think before we see them coming back down the trail behind us. Just then we turn a corner and see the tiniest of people coming toward us. It's a little leprechaun woman. I wanted to grab her and see if she'd give me her pot of gold but she smelled of a thru hiker. I couldn't believe how tiny this woman was. I swore that she didn't need a sleeping bag, she simply could have climbed into her backpack and zipped it up.

The Trail head was shortly thereafter. It was a happy moment, but a sad one too. It was a great journey, and i knew my time was at and end. The mile walk up the hill to the truck was strange. it was the closest I'd been to vehicles in 5 days, and i didn't like it. Lucky for us, the truck fired right up, and by the time we got back to the lot everyone else had made it. We tossed in all of our gear and we're off to the brewery!!

Quote of the Day
"There's beer over that there mountain Josh"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

LT Day 4

Minerva Hitchney - Secret Shelter (Governor Clement) (9.5)

The morning started out with more rolling terrain with brief views down to Spring Lake.

The trail is framed by raspberry bushes and if you pay attention you're able to snag 3-4 of them every quarter of a mile or so. With this section of trail sharing both AT and LT hikers i was surprised to see ANY berries left. Before long we're treated to our first view of the day at Airport Lookout facing west towards the small airfield in Rutland.

(Airport Lookout)

Just past the look out we all spread out again and i stop for a bit and listen to a robin chirp away at me. From here the trail descends down into Claredon Gorge and then out across a suspension bridge. It seemed really new. It wasn't until we had crossed and read the plaque on the other side that we realized that i was only replaced about 30 years ago. And that the first one had fallen and taken a hikers life that the magnitude and fear of how high up we were really set in.

After crossing route 103 we stopped for a quick snack just past the field and heard a cow go crazy up on the hill. Or at least it certainly sounded like it. Non of us were willing to make the climb to see what was making the racket. It was late morning now and the temperature was rising but to our relief there was coolness coming through the woods. It was because of the cool air still trapped in the the stone ravine we were about to climb. It was cool and crisp and I was having the time of my life, running ahead and sitting and taking photos.

(Claredon Shelter)

After the climb the trail descends again to the Claredon Shelter Spur. We shed our packs and walk over to check it out. Checking the registrar we find that Wink, ToeJam and Tapeworm were here the previous night. One of the nicest shelters we've seen so we stop and sun ourselves in the grass before pushing on down the trial. With a swift upgrade the trail assends Beacon Hill, in the town of Shrewsbury. About halfway up Inchworm says through huffs, "Massacusetts strikes again!" We pass an ATer Southbound and i ask how she'd doing to which i get a fine southern reply of "No complaints from this ol' girl." After Beacon we cross a few stretches of old orchard and beautiful countryside before reaching a pack of trail workers on lunch.
They tell us of the mud ahead, but they have been doing such a good job with the stonework i can honestly say i never noticed. We decide we're never going to make it to the lookout that we thought we'd eat lunch on and settle in a pine needled filled spot next to a trickling stream.
With promise of another ford ahead i can only think about another cool refreshing swim so i dart ahead. Spotting a vista we get our first glimpses of Killington before desending down to the stream well below. At the stream we rend our packs and outer layer of clothes and hop into the cold water where we give our muscles a much needed ice bath.

(Cold River)

After building a few neat cairns i decide it's time to test out my vibrams on the trial with a pack. And for the next mile or two it's great. I hop from stone to stone with my newly rejuvenated attitude. At our next to last road crossing we spot a cooler and perhaps some trail magic. No luck as they cooler was empty and bone dry, the bag next to the cooler FULL of empty cans of coke and mountain dew. We hear a rustling behind us, it's Wink and Salene. She tells us again about her search for the secret shelter and we decided that's the way to go. After a short detour off the trail we find Swansong which is a private shelter that someone built in their backyard. Not too secret though as we shared the site with two other fella's.

(Wink, Crazy Local Guy, Dustin and I)

Quote of the Day
"Can i give your dog a bone?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

LT Day 3

Lula Tye - Minerva Hitchney (10.2)

Night two we decided we weren't going to pitch our tents. And we had the shelter to ourselves so we just sleep on our bags in the open cool air. It was a little unnerving at first, but if you think about it, it's not like a tent is a fortress. The nicest thing about it was that it made the pack up in the morning a breeze and we got out of camp early. 1/3 of a mile down the trail a cute little girl comes up to me and says, "have you been here before? it's beautiful, you can swim and jump in from that rock over there." And turns and points over the pond. As many of you know, I'm not a fan of kids, but this one was a OK with me.

(Little Rock Pond and the Stone the girl pointed at)

We decide to pump water at this spot on Little Rock Pond. Heather mentions that it's a good thing I decided to come out because without me they'd be stranded without their pump. Dustin decides to give his pump a try without the large handle that had broken the day before. After a few minutes of struggling to get the piston pulled out he requests my Leatherman, and within seconds the entire pump was in pieces.

The trail skirts the beautiful shoreline and i stop a few times to take photos. After leaving the pond you ascends up a short climb until you reach what looked to be a pile of scrap metal that previous hikers had twisted and sculpted into some form of modern art.

(Metal Art)

From the first set of metal art the trail becomes muddy as you stroll through low lying greens and a small stone wall lines the trail to the north for a half a mile before you come out to this log bridge.

From here the trail then descends into this beautiful stretch of red pines and we walk into this crazy mass of cairns.(Cairn Land)

We walked around the sculpture and took a bunch of photos before pressing on. Awhile later we run into a second city of cairns at the White Cliff Trail Spur. A quick decision later has us heading down the 1/8th of a mile spur to a view and take a long warm lunch in the sun

(More Cairn Art)

After lunch we head back up the spur, run into Lonestar and we talk with him a bit about his AT Thru hike. "A lot of time and drugs were spend here," spoken in a twang only a Texas man could have. He's southbound with another, been on the trail since June, expect to finish around December 1st. At which point he's going to move out of Texas where he's lived for 46 years and go to Colorado to do some more hiking. Inchworm gives him some advice about the trail ahead and he tells us about the amazing waterfall swimming pool just ahead before we part ways. From the second cairn land the trails drops for what seems like 2 miles before we cross over a stream just before the falls and low and behold, at the base, a wonderful swimming spot where we all decide to take a quick dunk.

(Swimming Spot)

One last climb up Bear Mountain where i take it nice and slow and snack on the occasional raspberry, sharing a few with Clothespin to encourage her up the steep slope. As the trail crests and rolls down into another valley we all wonder where in the world the shelter could be. And how much longer it would be before we were able to put some food into our starving bellies. The shelter comes shortly after cheeseburgers, french fries and milk shakes are discussed. We decided that although the Shelter to ourselves last night was pretty cool, we wanted to tent tonight so we found the tenting area and set up shop for the night.

The Killington Krew rolls in shortly there after. Tells us about their day on the trail, we watch in awe as they have to blow up their stove to pressurize it before cooking. From the distance it looks like they were starting a forest fire. "Turkey lighter, comin' in hot" They're plan is a 15+ mile tomorrow so they depart before sunset, we have a 10 ourselves so we make our way to sleep before 9pm as well.

Quote of the Day
"I gotta get away from those drunk crackheads" - Lonestar

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

LT Day 2

Griffith Lake - Lula Tye (8.9 Miles)

Wake up to everything soaked, or rather, Clothespin and Inchworm wake up to their things soaked. I'm feeling great, while i didn't sleep that well it was a nice release knowing i didn't have a commute, no work, all i had to do was walk for a few miles. I walk down to the waters edge to pump my water while my breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon re-hydrates. Shortly thereafter Dustin does the same but returns and says "This is why ATer's don't use pumps" Holding a piece of pump in each hand. It was obvious their luck wasn't getting better by the minute. Heather's toe still pretty swollen, but I try to stay positive and encouraging. Before we leave camp we chat more with Kim She tells us about the next caretaker and her boyfriend that works at the Long Trail Brewery, and if we are nice to her she might share one or two with us.

(Long run of planks along Griffith Lake)

Before we know it Dustin is off down the trail. I fall in line between his fast pace and Heather's reserved one. The trail is gorgeous and i'm just happy to be out there. About a mile into the day we have a short steep climb up Baker to get our first view of the day. When i arive i find that Dustin had been there for 10 minutes already and had his tent and other items "hanging" all around in the trees.
(View East From Baker)

From Baker there is a long long decent that hardly feels like a trail and more like a washout or a stream bed. Even though its been a dry summer, the sustained heavy rain from the night before turned the trail into an ACTIVE stream bed. Which provided some hairy footing at best. By now the three of us had spread out quite a bit. Heather way off ahead, myself somewhere in the middle, and Dustin trailing behind. I take the side trail and check out the Lost Pond Shelter, that i had learned to be on it's 3rd generation. The previous two burning down. It was a beautiful lean to and it's youth showed. Hardly a name or initial carved anywhere.

finally catch heather at the old job trail
break for lunch and examine the big brook ford
i build a little cairn, dustin joins and we cross
(Mid Ford)

while we're putting our dry shoes back on the sky's open up into a massive downpour. So much for only a 30% chance of rain. While we quickly throw on our jackets i examine the map and see that just .1 down the trail is the Big Brook Shelter. We made a run for it and even though we got wet, it provided us a nice dry spot to hang for an hour. Dustin took the opportunity to cook up some chicken soup.

(Lula Tye Shelter)

At the shelter the sun finally breaks through and we hang our things out again to dry. While eating the caretaker comes up and chats with us for a bit. She promises beer on her way out to the parking lot. A little while later another hiker and dog came up the trail. It's Wink and and her dog Solene, another thru hiker and pet heading northbound. After trying to get the fire going for over 2 hours we get something going for a little while, a perfect treat on a nice cool/clear night.

Quote of the day
"My bag smells like BO and Mountain House farts"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

LT Day 1

Vermont Route 11/30 - Griffith Lake (10.6 Miles)

(The 3 of us before heading back into the wild)

We pulled into the Route11/30 parking lot running a bit late. But happy to see Dustin and Heather a week into their 275 mile trip. Feeling fresh and showered from spending a night in Manchester at a popular Hostel we start our trek up Bromley Mountain. It's been over a week since we've chatted so we spent the first several miles just catching up with how the trail has been thus far. Before we reach the top we shoot off down a shot side trail and meet up with 6 other hikers that were still trying to get their gear to dry from all of the rain we had gotten the day prior.

(Top of Bromley)

After a brief photo shoot at the top of the Bromley fire tower we followed the steep rocky single track down to Mad Tom Notch. On the next climb up Styles i instantly noticed my lack of "trail legs" and i started to fall a ways behind. Luckily for me, there was a rock overlook and lunch awaiting at the top. It was here that I met up with 3 more travelers heading northbound. Tapeworm, ToeJam and their dog Rocky, whom had also spent the night at the Hostel. Tapeworm's plan was to thru hike all of the way north with Rocky and ToeJam was just out for a week like myself. It was petty nice sitting there in the sun watching the occasional cloud pass by. The bugs weren't bad as it seemed to be a breading ground for dragonflies as they circled overhead.

The more serious three (of the six) fellas show up and talk about re hydrating there dehydrated apples in sugar water. It gave me a chuckle watching their diet vs mine. I felt like i was eating like a king in comparison with my crackers and tuna. They were stuffing summer sausage and whatever slab of the massive cheese block into a sad pita wrap.

Further on down the trail just before Griffith Lake we catch up to Rocky and the guys. They notice my vibrams that i brought as camp shoes and we chat about running for a bit. Turns out they are in a running club together up in Maine. They talk briefly about running a marathon in death valley before pushing off down the trail ahead.

We settle in on platform number 2 while talking with the caretaker Kim. I was kind of envious about how she got to spend her summer camping in the woods. Basically just collecting money from thru hikers and keeping the platforms clean. In the end, we decide that scooping out the outhouses wouldn't be worth it. After we get the tents pitched, Heather and Dustin had a dip while i snapped some photos of the lake.
(Looking out over Griffith Lake)

We watched an old dude, "bring his a game and get a b response," down by the water until we decide we can't handle the girls laugh anymore. As we are walking back to the platform Heather stubs her toe on an exposed root, it was petty bad and i was impressed by how well she handled it. After listening to the couple in the site next to us plow while we played cards we decided to call it a night. And oh what a night, about an hour after we zipped into our tents the skies opened up. It rained and rained, you could hear the drops pinging off of D&H's tent clearly and crisply in my tent a few feet away. I couldn't even imagine how loud it was inside of it.

Quote of the day:
"Yard of beef, comin' in hot!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

July Recap

So July started out with my annual Trip to Vermont for the 4th. It was filled with activities as it always seems to. Saturday started out with another Team Robert 5k with Rik, Steve, Leah and I completing the Clarence Demar 5k in South Hero Vermont. Sunday Featured a trip to Centennial Field for the Lake Monsters game
(Not bad seats for 8 bucks)

Followed up with a night filled with fireworks and a round or two against the bubble gun!

The second weekend marked the yearly return of the carnies to Hillsboro and thanks to 3C Productions the return of the Balloon Festival 5k. Six of us from HTR showed up and ran in the perfect weather. Mandiee completing her first ever race and Greg his first run in about 3 years.
(The Gang Pre-Race)

The 3rd weekend of the month was a return to Woodstock for the Vermont 100. An event that i had been to every year for 12 years, with the exception of last year, to pace or run. This year i was to be a Crew Member for Team Sherpa who was going for his 4th consecutive finish and his 2nd 100 of the Grand Slam.
(The Amazing Crew of Team Sherpa)

A last minute request had me pace my ultra buddy John Izzo. Sadly he dropped out 3 miles after i had joined him. BUT i got to go on an amazing adventure of thumbing a ride down from these poor young girls who had only driven up the hill for cell service. I gave Izzo my shirt to stay warm and climbed into a strangers truck wearing only running shorts in hopes to find the rest of the crew to come and get him. While Izzo didn't finish, Sherpa crossed the line and his Project 2010 continues

While all of this craziness is happening on the weekends. I continue to play roller hockey during the week. And after wearing the same chest protector since 1996 (2nd hand when I bought it) i decided to upgrade, and in tern upgrade the jersey i was wearing as it couldn't fit over the new gear. Before breaking either of them in i had Leah snap a photo in what i thought was a pretty close pose to an old photo i had dug up a few months ago. I posted a side by side comparison for your enjoyment, certainly made me laugh.
(who says you need to grow up...)

The last week of the month was spent out in the woods. I got to meet up with Dustin and Heather and spend approximately 55 miles trekking through southern VT along the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail. I met some pretty amazing people, saw some pretty neat campsites, and generally enjoyed being out there. It took a lot for me to not phone my work and tell them that quit. (Full Hike Recap to follow)

(Heather, Dustin and I on top of Killington)

Fresh home from the trail I had 24 hours to unpacked my hiking gear and throw on my running gear to join Loni on her quest towards the Vermont 50. Her training method is very similar to mine, which consists of amazing stretches of runs, followed by several days off, then all of a sudden a 50k thrown in for good measure and maximum suffering. It was painful for me, pitiful even, after starting at 6am with hopes of being able to wrap up the whole 50k before i needed to depart at 2, I only made it 21 miles. So much for residual fitness from the LT. Loni, pressed on alone and knocked out the whole 50k on her own (report here)

(Loni and I)

August is going to be a pretty quiet month i think, but i need to keep my butt in gear if a PRs are going to be set in September.

By The Numbers:
Miles Run: 53.7

# of Runs: 8
Average Miles: 6.7

Month Starting Weight: 168 Lbs
Month Ending Weight: 169 Lbs
Weight Change: +1 lbs

Race Results:
Clarance Demar 5k - 28:03
Hillsboro Balloon Fest 5k - 43:02

Upcoming August Events:
Cigna 5k
Moose on the Loose 10 Miler