Friday, October 20, 2017

Presidential Traverse - September 23, 2017

I fell off the blog train again.  I suppose I barely had one foot on it to begin with.  Well let me give it another attempt, sometimes that's all we can do.

I missed writing up a few things since I was MIA. I had a three day White Mountain adventure at the end of June.  Day 1 featured a quick trip up the Hancocks, Day 2 was a fine hike up Carrigain and then on Day 3 I tackled a wet Tuckerman's Ravine and Mt Washington in some fun, foggy conditions. Originally I had plans for a traverse of the Northern Presidentials but rain earlier in the weekend derailed those plans and by Day 3 I was too tired to attempt it.

Run with the Beavers race in mid-July went well.  It wasn't the humid sufferfest of last year and I was pleased with my performance.

I took off two weeks from work in July, an unheard of length of time for me.  During that we went up to Montreal and Quebec City for a fun family vacation north of the border.  I got some good runs in both cities and enjoyed my attempts at speaking French badly. 

So after some summer adventures I was looking forward to running the Kismet Cliff Climb again.  But as summer waned and fall approached I decided to rethink my White Mountain plans that weekend.  I had already run Kismet and had done fairly well and there were plenty of other adventures up there that I was thinking about - and eventually I decided to attempt a Presidential Traverse instead.

I didn't sleep well but I really liked my setup.  Will give it another go!

Sunset at Ethan Pond

But I also had started tinkering with a hammock camping setup.  The Manchild uses a hammock and Amanda had gotten me one for Father's Day.  So I went down the wormhole, learned a good deal and decided to start my White Mountain weekend with an "easy" night of camping at the Ethan Pond shelter.  So I hiked with my big pack for 2.5 miles, set up shop on a tent platform and then hiked up Mt. Willey because it was right there and how could I not?  By the time I returned to camp it was bustling with people.  I enjoyed a fine meal and conversation in the "kitchen" before retiring.  Unfortunately I slept very little.  Chalk it up to being my first night in the hammock which apparently is a thing.  I laid awake for most of the night, listening to noises in the woods.  So not an ideal way to prepare for a long day on the Presidentials but what was done was done.  Check out the video below for highlights from this Ethan Pond trek:

So in the morning I packed up and made my way back to the car by 7:30 AM.  I drove a few miles to the Highland Center and prepared my gear for the day.   The forecast was prefect - mid 60s and little wind.  This made it easy to go with my minimal setup.  I wore my hydration vest.  I had a bag of gels/salt tabs/treats, hat/gloves, a spare water bottle, first aid, headlamp, a windbreaker and my lightweight hiking poles.   A brought a small water filter and a tiny bag of survival stuff which was probably overkill but better safe than sorry.

Since this was a point to point trip I had to hike either to or from my car.  I didn't like the idea of heading from my car and relying on a shuttle to get me back there.  The logistics would have kept me worried me all day.  But taking the shuttle from the Highland Center meant starting the trek at 10 AM.  Later than I would have liked.  After looking at some comparable Strava activities, I figured I could complete this in eight hours before darkness set in so in the end I went with taking the shuttle to the start.

It was a bumpy ride but I still dozed off towards the end.  Then suddenly we were at the packed Valley Way parking lot and it was time to begin.  Immediately I was ready to go.  I jogged a bit over the first few miles but pretty soon the climbing began and it was up, up, up.  Once I hit the massive boulders on the side of Madison things slowed down considerably.  It was tough to even see the cairns from the sun glare.  After Madison it was down to the Madison Hut where I filled my bottles including the backup I had brought.  This proved wise as it was a hot day, even up there.  I snagged a piece of coffee cake and then out the door I went.

Madison Hut and behind it Mt Adams awaits

Mt Jefferson Summit w/ Washington and Southern Ridge behind

Mt Adams was a brutal climb with some fun scrambles.  It's clear that what training I did do had not prepared me for this kind of climbing.  Not sure I can really duplicate this down in Rhode Island for future efforts but it certainly was a reality check.  At the top of Adams I rested for a minute and snacked before continuing on (I kept the breaks to about 2-3 minutes on the Northern Peaks and even less on the Southern ones.)

I scraped my knee lifting it over a boulder in between Adams and Jefferson and it bled like a bastard.  I probably should have made use of the first aid I had brought but stubbornly pressed on ahead, figuring I'd clean it up at the Washington summit.  The Gulfside trail was beautiful and I was amazed how fortunate I was with the weather.  By the time I reached Jefferson I had been running for about 3 hours 20 minutes.  I couldn't tell if I was on schedule or not and Washington seemed so far away (even though it was only a couple miles).

It was the climb up to Washington where I really began to feel the day's effort.  This slope isn't particular steep but my feet were feeling the endless rock assault and the knee wound had crusted over into an ugly thing.  The trail approached the train tracks and watching the Cogs head up kept me distracted.  Finally I reached the last steep pile of rocks at the Summit and the gaggle of people waiting in line to get their picture with the summit sign.

Chasing Cogs
Summit Madness

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

I had been anticipating dressing my wound and grabbing some real food in the cafeteria.  Now that I was here I recalled Jonny's blog from a few years ago when he reached the summit.  I had the same reaction and just wanted to escape.  I filled my water bottles and continued on.  Heading down the Crawford Path now I was able to get a bit more speed and kept this up as I approached the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  It was shut up for the season so there were no treats to be had at this one.

The southern peaks were a contrast - the trail is much less technical and more runnable, but my legs were utter shit.  It wasn't until I had descended Eisenhower that the first twinges of leg cramps began and luckily they held off.  I chatted with some folks briefly at the summit of Pierce who were also doing traverses and then I kept going on the final stretch of the Crawford Path back to the car.


It was a delicate mixture of going as fast as I could while keeping my leg cramps from unleashing.  I had managed to not use my poles all day - at first it was out of pride but it was useful to have them out of the way as I picked up speed (slightly) on the second half.  I actually came across some backpackers I had met the previous night who were heading up to the campsites near Mizpah Hut and they congratulated me on getting it done.  Finally at about 5:15 PM I reached the end of the trail.  7 hours and 10 minutes total.  An honest effort for a flatlander and one I'm proud of.

Here's my video of the adventure:

This whole thing went about as well as it could.  Perfect weather!  I definitely tried to put up a good time and I didn't dillydally too much.  Having finally done it I'd love to take another whack at it in 2018 and see if I can bring my time down.  I didn't pick the fastest trails and there's definitely room for improvement.  This was also a big confidence booster as I looked to other long mountain adventures going forward.  Basically this is the kind of stuff I want to do as much as I'm able while I'm still able.

Fun Facts:
  • Mt Madison, Adams and Jefferson were #37-39 on my 4000 Footer List.
  • Mt Pierce and Mt Washington are now tied for my most ascents at four apiece
  • This trek brought my total number of 4000 Footers in NH for 2017 (including repeats) to 18

Monday, June 26, 2017

Weekly Log: 6.19.17 - 6.25.17

Monday - East Providence, RI - 6 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

A hot, humid one out there.  Went to Riverside and ran miles on the bike path.  Ankle was a little chewed up from the previous day's trails and I didn't feel like running but I got out there and ground out six miles.  Wasn't a bad run in the end.  Kids were getting ice cream near my car and they mocked my shirtless frame.  I'll show those little bastards.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X3 Eccentric Upper (30 minutes)

Getting back into the world of P90X with some shorter workouts from the P90X3 series.  The shorter time works for me and I was definitely feeling it in my shoulders and upper back afterwards.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Lunch yoga.  I missed last week so I was determined to get back to it this week.

Thursday - West Greenwich, RI - 7 miles

Ran the Big River trails from (Greasy?) Joe's parking lot, forming a big counter clockwise loop around Tarbox and Carr Ponds.  Temps were cooler before they climbed later in the day.  A good run with no bugs.  No leg ache afterwards.  Dare I hope that things are looking up?

Friday - Exeter, RI - 7.1 miles

I've been running with the Forerunner 210 for the past couple years which is a barebones but perfectly serviceable space watch.  Yet I yearned for sweeter meat.  Yesterday that meat arrived in the form of the fenix 3.  I saved some cash by getting a refurb but it seems in great working order.  This watch is a beast and I love it much already.  Soon I shall take it North on real adventures.

Anyway, I parked at Cuttyhunk and ran the Pardon Joslin hills repeatedly, ogling my new baby the whole time.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Pittsburgh, PA - 10.1 miles

I travelled to PA today to exhibit at a conference.  After I set up my exhibit (the conference starts tomorrow) I had plenty of daylight left in the day.  I went out and explored the local bike paths.  They have a great setup here - there are paths that line boths sides of the river and all the bridges have bike/walking lanes.  Very easy to run by just following the river in every direction.  A good run and nothing better than enjoying a good hotel shower afterwards.

Weekly Mileage: 30.5 miles
Year to Date: 638.7 miles

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Random Updates and New Hampshire Videos

I've dropped the ball again with the weekly logs.  I know, I know - I'm working on it.  I might get back to it this week as I'm having a good one.

The jankiness seems to be on the decline and though I felt that leg ache early last week it hasn't resurfaced since.  Time to slowly start increasing that mileage.  I've been getting in a weekly yoga session in for the past month and I'm on a 115 day meditation streak.  I meditate 15 minutes every morning using the Headspace app and I've really taken to it.  Highly recommended!

I've finally begun the slow road back to total fitness with a return to P90X.  Yes, it's the return of the Ab Ripper!  Also I've got a bunch of P90X3 videos I'm going to use.  They're shorter then the original series so hopefully I'll be able to fit them into my mornings.

What else, what else...

I'm listening to French podcasts on the way into work in order to develop at least a rudimentary level of the language in preparation for a family fun vacation to Montreal & Quebec at the end of July.

I bought a safety razor so that I can now shave like a real man.

And now for something completely different, I present to you a couple videos I made from trips earlier this year to my favorite place, the White Mountains.  Warning: they are not great.  But making them was good practice and I hope to shoot some better ones soon.

The first one is from February when Amanda and I hiked up Mt. Liberty.  This was a tough hike for her and our big snowshoes didn't do us any favors.  But it's always fun hiking up there in the winter and I learned some more lessons to aid me on future trips.

In May I went up to the Carter Notch Hut with Muddy, the Manchild and bunch more hombres.  The weather was rainy and the trails were miserable monorails up high which made for tough going.  We had ambitions of hiking the whole ridge as a three day trip but opted to hit Carter Dome on Day 2 and call it a day.  Still a fun time.

That's all for now.  Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of blogging things soon.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Weekly Log: 5.29.17 - 6.4.17

Things are still to fall back into place for ol' Seth so I guess it's time to start the weekly blog back up...

Monday - South Kingstown, RI - 6 miles

A rainy Memorial Day and I postponed my run to later in the day.  Always a bad idea as the day has a way of getting away from you.  Better to get it done early.  My wife and I spent midday shopping and went to Carrabba's for lunch.  I packed it away including calamari, sausage & lentil soup, chicken parm sandwich, orzo and a chocolate dessert thing.  Plus that goddamn bread and oil.  A gluttonous delight and when it came time to run a few hours later I wasn't in great shape.

Nevertheless I went over to the DuVal trails and gutted it out.  And "gut" is the appropriate word as my insides were sloshing around for the first few miles.  I kept it slow and steady and eventually felt better.  Then I could feel nasty bile creeping up my throat towards the end of the run.  Gross.  Aren't you glad I'm back to blogging.

So in the end I got a sluggish six miles of trails done to start the week.  Hooray!

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 2 miles

When I went to the ortho doc a few weeks back he didn't think I had a stress fracture.  He said to keep the mileage down and take days off.  To that end I've stuck to my plan of not running two days in a row.  So far, so good as that leg ache has been non existent.  So it was an easy walk to the post office at lunch today.

Wednesday - Providence, RI - 6 miles

For the 2nd Wednesday in a row I went over to Jenckes Street on College Hill for some hill repeats.  It's a touch climb but I did six and I ventured a little lower down Star Street on the 3rd and 6th ones to make it more grueling.  A good workout.

Thursday - 0 miles

Good session of lunch yoga.  Three weeks in a row!

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6.5 miles

Back to Wolf Hill for a morning run.  I tried to hit as many hills as I could including the pisser of a climb up the Mary Mowry trail.  As I plan for a mountain adventure at the start of July, I'm going to continue to focus on hills so that I can hopefully complete the hike/run adventure without completely destroying myself.

I went for an MRI at midday for my neck.  The neck/back pain hasn't been too bad lately but the arm/hand numbness is still going on.  We'll find out the results next week.

Unfortunately I felt that dull leg ache later in the afternoon.  It didn't seem to linger however so I'm hopeful that it was just a passing ache.

Saturday - 0 miles
Sunday - 0 miles

Bailed on a Sunday run due to being very hungover.  Bailed on a lot of things actually.  After taking a long hard look at myself I've decided to quit drinking.  I'm sick of feeling shitty and ready for a change.  So that's that.

Weekly Mileage: 20.5 miles
Year to Date:  556 miles

A mediocre week overall but the leg seems to be improving.  I've got some trips planned over the next few months and good things to look forward to.  Let's get going.