Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Long Trail Section #2 - Part 3

Sucker Brook Shelter -  Emily Proctor Shelter (11.7 Miles)

So remember the group that didn't want to move over.  Well i woke up to find the woman on MY pad! Frustrated i break camp early before the girls even got ready and bolted up the trail.  And it was a great day.  For the first time of the week we were treated with a warm sunny morning.  I enjoyed being alone and ahead of the group for once.   I just let my mind wander and tried not to eat every spider web i walked into. 

I stopped to write my journal 3 miles down the trail on the top of Middlebury Snow Bowl.  Sitting in the sun and finally drying out for the first in 3 days i was quite pleased.  A little breeze kept the bugs away, the birds sang in the trees, for the first time since I'd stepped foot on the trail i was happy.  The gals came into the clearing almost a full hour after i had arrived. Everyone decided i had the right idea and they laid out their gear like i did. 
(Top of the Snow Bowl)

Soon we were off down the trail to find some water before/after the gap as the guide said water was harder to find in the next stretch of trail.  At the gap we waited, and waited...and waited for loni.  I was starting to get concerned and started crunching numbers, an ultra rummer no-no.  When loni finally arrived i asked if she had got lost or hurt, but nope, was just taking her time and enjoying the trail.  

We climbed up out of Middlebury Gap and into the Breadloaf Wilderness.  Briefly talking to an older couple coming back down saying the trail ahead was "a rushing stream"  haha, no kidding.   I'm still crunching numbers in my head.  Today was our shortest day of the trip.  What time is it?  How are we going this bloody slow??   Are we at the top?  We find a nice little spot where someone could shadow camp and had our lunches of cliff bars.  A half an hour later we are finally at Boyce shelter.   I write a quick entry while waiting for loni to show up and chat a bit with Rocket before blasting ahead again. 
(Log Bridge that ran out before the water did)

I finally catch Leah who's out of water and spot some SOBOs and chat trails ahead for both for us.  Seeing dog prints in the mud i wonder where it is.  Leah and i come across the little flat faced pug at Skyline with Queen of Social Awkwardness and a couple of young kids.  It was obvious they were busy,  thankfully Loni arrived soon there after and we split.  The climb up Breadloaf was a steep one.  It felt even more so steep with the worst rash ever.  I had a nice ultra waddle going on.   At the top we walked out to the spur in hope to getting a nice western view and some cell service. The view was grand, you could see the Adirondacks stretching toward the sky beyond over Lake Champlain.  
(View West from Breadloaf)

I turn on my phone to check the weather.  More rain lies ahead and i'm defeated.  I sit on a rock and i'm ready to go home.  I'm completely done with soaked feet and dealing with this muddy trail.  This whole trip had been shit show.  My feet have been wet for 3 straight days now.  I put my pack back on and walk the .6 miles down to Emily Proctor.  We had caught up to Rocket again who would leave us for the last time after he ate at the shelter to shadow camp up the trail.  The sun is still shining and i try to enjoy the rest of the evening basking in a shelter to ourselves. 

(Lounging in Emily Proctor)

my journal entry from later in the night was written as follows:
"I'm bummed to miss out of the views that we could have already had.  And as the week goes forward knowing that we'd miss out more on the views as the trail gets rocky and up towards the alpine 10 miles north of here.  We shall see what tomorrow brings, but my heart is already at home"

Quote of the day:
"These must be surveyors miles"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Long Trail Section #2 - Part 2

David Logan Shelter - Sucker Brook Shelter (12.8 Miles)

Up Early, Still pouring.  Probably would have stayed in bed longer if not for Rocket packing up and zipping out.  I've slept like shit, tossing and turning what felt like every few minutes and having vivid dreams.  When i wake up i ask Leah if i just talked to her about a dream.  Apparently i had a dream that i was waking up from a dream in the same spot, telling her that it was awesome and sunny out. But then i woke up, and it was actually a dream within a dream.  She told me it was like an Inception Movie moment.  I'm still feeling awfully blue regarding the situation.  Day two is starting where day 1 left off.  Cold and Pouring Rain

I'm still shivering as i help loni pump water in the rain.  I decide i'm eating my bacon and eggs for breakfast in hope that it'll help warm me up.  Sadly, no.  I put my gear on, grumbling the whole time.   I was about as miserable as i was the night before.  Leah asked if i was going to be like this all day.  To which i grumbled and she said maybe we just catch a ride from Brandon at the next gap.  I think of Bloodroot and how late we are starting (10am) and mutter that we better move faster today and take off. 

The girls catch up shortly there after and we help one another over Wetmore Gap.  Then the joke became...well, i don't know how we could be more wet, so how appropriate that we're in pouring rain on top of Wetmore Gap.  Trail work had been happening which might have been nice, but in the pouring rain the fresh bench cut was a muddy slip n slide.  One new staircase later we were another bench cut.  The water was so deep at times that it was pointless trying to stay on the sides of the trail to keep our feet as dry as possible.  After awhile i gave up and just started plunging in figuring that i'd move a lot faster if i wasn't constantly trying to find dry paths around puddles.  Since i was soaked through i decided to do some trail engineering of my own and pushed out debris front the blocked benches and made some water bars of my own.  

(Leah bounding over yet another puddle)

At Bloodroot gap it was a balmy 50*.  The Girls sped ahead, Leah desperately trying to warm up.  The rain had stopped and temps were on the rise finally.  A few slimy and slippery bridges later we were at the first shelter (Sunrise) appropriately named as the sun was finally peaking through for the first time on our trip.  The even better news was the day was half over as far as i was concerned. 

At Brandon Gap we hung out our soaked gear on our packs, had a snack and started the climb up into the Battell Wilderness.  And boy what a climb.  At the top of the stairs I sat down at the cliff trail sign and felt faint.  "Dustin is going to hate you if we skip the cliff trail."  But i could have cared less.  I had decided, i wanted to get to camp and out of my soaked clothes ASAP.  Up and down the ridge we went until sip sip...nothing.  I had drunk all 3l of my water and since i  was sold cold  this morning I only had pumped an extra .5l for reserve.  

(Up another stone staircase)

An hour went by, another climb, is this it? An hour later, now Leah is out of food and water.  So i offer up the last of mine and we move down the last slope.  We finally get to camp and I pump gallons of water.  We share the shelter with a family of sectioning SOBOs. They seem perplexed when all we did was put our food up on the hooks in the shelter and they were lugging around a massive bear canister.  The kids seemed friendly but the adults were dildos.  They were hiking on the Long Trail, less than 20 miles from Camels Hump, but had no idea what a Camels Hump was.   "Oh, we have land in Rutland, but we're from Connecticut.  BUT originally from California."   That was all i needed to hear to have total disinterest in this group so we cooked our food, ate quietly and kept to ourselves.  Additionally, upon arrival they offered to move over to share the shelter which never happened.   More on that tomorrow. 

Quote of the day:
"Jesus Christ, I could swim in this one!"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Long Trail Section #2 - Part 1

VT Route 4 - David Logan (12.9 Miles)

It has rained all night and now this morning.  The air is cool, no not cool, COLD.  I'm still feeling sick from the party that we had well over a day prior.  All i want to do is lay on the couch and take a zero day.  Unfortunately that's not an option I'm in Vermont, 20 miles from the start of an 80 mile journey, and my ladies are raring to go.

The wind is driving the rain sideways as we try get out of the car.  We struggle with our packs, covers and ponchos in the rain.  Another pair of hikers sits in a truck next to us.  Eating breakfast and staying warm. No doubt laughing at our struggles having been there before.  After 10 minutes of clicking and tightening we're off.   As we run across the road it looks like the trail disappears through the brush.  I push the brush out of the way the best i can and head in.  Huh, where are the blazes?  There are a TON of footprints.  How are we lost already?  OK, go back, we obviously missed something.  Yep, wrong trail. I feel like a fool.  I'm soaked, I've already got lost, and i can still see the warm car i got out of now 25 minutes ago.  What am i doing here?

Finally we start making some headway but pause to pin down our ponchos again after they got pulled apart in the brush.  A speedy (i assume) ATer zips past us singing "oh what a feeling, and i'm happy again. just singing  in the rain!"  It was just the boost I needed. It cracked me up so the travelers three were off again, whistling the same song.   The trail is beautiful, rain and fog aside.  We are surrounded by an abundance of green and mushrooms. Leah spent the morning laughing at Loni and I, as our ponchos draped over our entire bodies AND packs make us look like something out of the Dark Crystal.

We approached where the Tucker Johnson Shelter should be only to discover ashes.  We pushed on down the trail.  Rain coming down in heavier bursts from time to time, but always steadily.  Before too long we were snacking on lunch at Rolston Rest about 5 miles into our first day.  We had caught up to a pair of speedy Northbounders (NOBOs) who's goal was to finish the trail in 17 days. This would be the last time we saw them.  While snacking on our heaviest lunches of the trip a group of younger kids from the GMC Club showed up.  The seemingly spacious shelter filled up rapidly and i was anxious to leave.

We experienced our first heavy climb of the day just beyond Rolston.  "Does anyone else smell cranberry macaroni bake?" I ask.  And instantly feel shame when the only response i got was, "No, just feet and fecies."
A couple of hours later we stumble upon familiar terrain.  "Hey guys, if you look this way through the blinding grey fog you'd see Chittenden Reservoir,  Peak's race comes right this way.  This means we're close!"  Oh how wrong i was.   An hour later and after Leah muttered, "I'd rather fall down then get raped by this branch."    We pass a pair of sections SOBOs  and are told that we've still got a couple of hours ahead of us.

An hour passes, Hey a sign!  "I saw the sign....."  Argh, it's only Telephone Gap.  And from the look on Loni's face that means we had a ways to go still.  The rain is pouring down and the wind is picking up,  I'm freezing. I got to start moving faster and dart ahead of the girls.  Pausing ever 5-10 minutes waiting for them to get back into my sight before darting ahead again.   Another sign, thank god.  Camp finally.
(Making ourselves at home)
Enter Rocket, an AT Thru hiker in 2010.  He said when he was at the junction we passed earlier today he thought "I wonder where this goes north" and decided to come back this year and find out.  Thankfully Rocket was the only other person in the shelter so we were able to hang all of our gear out and be dry for the first time in 10 hours.  We quickly gulped down our food, and got into our sleeping bags cold, wet, and tired.  It was only 730 but i was ready for bed.  It was a brutal first day.

Quote of the day:
"The inside of my mouth is the dryest part of my body"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July Recap

Week - 1
After spending the last several weekends on the road I again pulled the plug on a trip north to Vermont.   Instead i spent my time actually IN the house I pay for, well, for some of it at least.  After discussing running the trails on Pats Peak for the last several months the three of us finally decided to pay them a visit.  Only a few weeks removed from the 24 hour bike race the course was well marked and packed down.  An approximate 5.5 mile loop with plenty of climbs and amazingly well done single track.    Since we didn't make the trip to Vermont we were finally able to attend Grants July 4th party.  With plenty of cold drinks on tap, an in ground pool and several boxes of explosives on hand.  It provided for quite the night.

(The Gals on the Pats Peak bike course)

(Grant loves it when a plan comes together)

Week - 2
With Mandiee off on a Road trip to Florida and Loni deciding to sit this one out we had a small group at the Hillsboro Balloon Fest 5k.  Grant, tested out a pair of Vibrams i am looking to sell, and Greg, looking to better his time from last year had almost ideal weather.  The group of us started together, but quickly spread out and settled into our own paces.  My goal was to just try to keep up with Grant for as long as possible, and i did, for a little while.  He came in 10 seconds ahead of me, and Greg shaved almost 10 minutes off of his time from last year.

(Greg vs. Sad Peanut)

(Balloon Fest 5k crew)
Week - 3
Week three brought another fun filled weekend.  While i was a little bummed that i wouldn't be joining Loni on her hiking/camping trip up to Acadia.  I was happy to spend the weekend house sitting at my old place and playing with the kitties.  That was of course, after Grant and I knocked out all 12 peaks in the Belknap range.  (Recap here)
(Top of Mount Major)

Week 4
Another year, another batch of friends getting married.  This year was Leah's turn again as her old college friend and roommate was to be wed.   This happened to be one of the stranger weddings I've ever been to.  I didn't know a single soul there, and Leah was in the wedding party.  Talk about a fish out of water. Luckily the people i met were pleasant even though we pretty much had ZERO in common. 
(Yes, another Wedding Photo)

As payback for being "dragged to another wedding" I made plans to hike Pitcher Mountain and pick blueberries with the sunrise the following morning.  The heat had been unbearable for a few days so i wanted to be at the top by 8am.  Luckily the hike is only a mile or two at best and we were scarfing blueberries in no time.  The views were fantastic and the breeze even felt cool.  It was nice to shiver for the first time in what felt like a week.  After Pitcher Mountain it was back to the pad to break out the smoker for the first run of 2011 and the first time at the new home.  Turns out after taking a 10 month break from using a smoker, you pick it up again pretty quickly.  A little over 8 hours later the group of us enjoyed fresh apple wood smoked pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, and zucchini,
(On Top of Pitcher Mountain)

(Testing out the Smoker)
Week 5
As per tradition of wanting to suffer at least once a month doing an ultra Loni set up the second annual Fox Forest Fat Ass Vol 1.  And as per tradition the first lap was full of walking, grumpiness and shear exhaustion.  As the day went on my mood and speed increased, which was a good offset as both ladies were trending downwards.  A little over 9 hours in the woods and dirt roads later, we had survived and had the whole afternoon/evening ahead of us.  The thought of Chinese food being the reward after we finished helped us push the last couple of miles.  Along with the "Trail Magic" that Loni had stashed in a stream the night prior.  Sunday was our recovery day and we spent a few hours out paddling on Loon Pond. The gals in kayaks and me paddling my old canoe. We were even serenaded by a loon or two while out there.

(We survived!)

(You don't need a $2000 boat to stand up paddle)

By The Numbers(2010 Numbers in Quotes):
Miles Run: 84 (53.7)
# of Runs: 12 (8)
Average Miles:  7.0 (6.7)

Month Starting Weight:  176 (168) Lbs
Month Ending Weight: 165 (169)Lbs
Weight Change:  -11 lbs

Race Results:
8th - Hillsboro Balloon Fest 5k - 24:19
30th - Fox Forest Fat Ass Vol 1 - 9:35??

Motivational video of the month:
Song of the month:
Yeah, a big cheesy, but i've been burned enough already this summer

Book of the month:
I have yet to finish the book, but i'm half way thru and it's an amazing read.  Makes me pine for the trails.

Upcoming August Events:
Summer BBQ
Fox Forest Fat Ass Vol 2