As another stepping stone to the Bear 100, we ran and hiked the Pemi Loop in the White Mountains in NH this past Saturday. This will be the third time that Deb, Tucker and I have done this loop with the last time being about three years ago. This time we had Bogie, a friend of ours join us as he is preparing for the Cascade Crest 100 at the end of August.
The stepping stones are last week's White Mountain hike/run, this weekend's Pemi Loop, next weekend's 38 mile Grafton Loop in Maine and the following weekend's MMD 50K in the White Mountains. After that will be a couple of easy weekends when we have the granddaughters visiting then we'll hit the Whites a couple more times in September before the Sept 25th Bear 100.
Back to this weekend's Pemi...the Pemi Loop is a 31.5 mile single track trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness area of the White Mountains. The climb adds up to around 9,160 feet, which is quite a bit and turns out to be a great training run for a 100 mile. If this were a 100 mile run, the total climb would be in the range of 29,080 feet! That is Hardrock material!
We began at around 6:45 am after a great night camping across the road at the state run Hancock Campground and after a good night's sleep we headed into the town of Lincoln, which is right up the road to get some coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I always consider the S/F of the run to be the middle of the bridge over the Pemigewasset river, so as we made our way across it I just took a note of the time, which was 6:45....about 15 minutes earlier than the plan.
The weather was perfect....you could not have planned a better day. It was warm, yet dry all day long and as we began jogging down the old railbed to get to the Bondcliff Trail we started shedding our long sleeve shirts, never to put them on again.
The start was up Bondcliff on this CCW direction, which I have always preferred because it saves the nice run along the Franconia ridge for when your legs are tired, which is a good thing. Run on tired legs!
The Bondcliff was incredibly muddy from all the rains we've been having lately, so we started with soaking wet feet. But the good side of this is there was plenty of drinking water for Tucker. Tucker did quite well this time around. The past couple of times we came to a couple of sections where we weren't sure we could get him to continue due to a cliff section or a large crevasse he had to jump over, but this time he traversed the trail like an old pro.
Doing the Pemi in the CCW direction also has the first half as the easier half, saving most of the longer, steeper climbs for the 2nd half. To me the halfway point is the Galehead Hut, which is a perfect place to stop for lunch. It also happens to be the most remote hut of the hut system in the WMNF. Lunch was great...a bowl of potato soup and 2 glasses of lemonade. I have read that the official halfway is Twin Mountain, which is about 8 tenths of a mile before the hut in the CCW direction.
On to the climbs....we reached Galehead at about noontime, a little over 5 hours into the day for us, which was right on pace for a 12 hour finish, which was our goal. Knowing that we had Mount Garfield (4500') and Mount Lafayette (5260') yet to climb, adds to the time on the return...but once you crest Lafayette, you are treated to some fine running for most of the rest of the way, which is a good 8+ miles.
The Franconia Ridge has it's usual ups and downs, which are really several more 4000 footers named Lincoln, Haystack, Liberty and Flume. On our run and the mounting fatigue, we mis-counted the mountains and thought we had done the last one (we were back in the trees) when all of a sudden we start climbing again, I look at my altimeter and we're above 4000' again! We really didn't want that, but for training it's always good to have yet another unexpected climb.
One thing that happened on the ridge was I was stopping to take pictures and Deb and Bogie were getting further and further from me. At one point I stopped to take a shot of the Greenleaf Hut down below and after putting my new Olympus camera in the front pouch of of my Nathan pack, I turned to run down the trail to catch up and at one point had to side step to prevent going over the edge and went chest first into a boulder jutting out of an outcropping of rocks. The next picture taking I saw that the LCD cracked on the impact, but it probably spared me a cracked rib. All I have is a sore bruise where the rock pushed the camera into my ribs. Hopefully I can buy an new LCD to swap out because the camera doesn't have a viewfinder, you need to shoot using the LCD, which if I had known wouldn't have bought this model.
We soon reached the familiar steps on the Osseo trail, which takes us down to the river and finish. Deb and Tucker going down the steps on the Osseo Trail
While jogging down this great trail, I decided to hammer down to work the quads some more and Deb stepped aside to let me go. I soon heard footsteps and knew Bogie was chasing me down. It wasn't until I heard "on your left" that I kicked it in my race mode pace. There was no way I was letting this "kid" by me now and soon I heard the footsteps grow fainter and fainter :-) Back on another run we had done years ago with some friends, I turned my ankle real bad on this trail and was thinking about that while running down at what was probably better than a 7 mpm pace. That time I turned my ankle because Tucker forced me off the trail and I stepped on a soft shoulder, this time the tired tucker was staying back with Deb, his mommy. I also felt much more confident running in my LaSportiva Fireblade Trail running shoes, which are closer to the ground than most and prevent ankle turnovers. I love these shoes!
On reaching the bottom I took my usual leg soaking in the cold river and it felt great. Bogie joined me five minutes later and Deb in ten minutes. Deb stepped into the water and said "do we want to try and get it done under 12 hours? We had plenty of time to do this, but sitting there soaking wasn't going to help. I said I didn't really care, it was up to her and she said "Let's go!". So we ran down the flat 2 mile Lincoln trail to the bridge. At first my legs were really cold from the soaking and wouldn't work, but soon I was cruising down the trail with Bogie and Deb in tow, passing the tired hikers. I reached the bridge and sat down in the middle of it with 11.5 hours at 6:35PM (20 minutes subtracted for the lunch stop) and felt great. Legs were tired but still worked at a fast pace when I needed them to, they came just a minute or so behind me.
Deb and Bogie went down to soak, while tired tucker wanted to be done and in the truck.
This was a fantastic workout....we all felt good and feel the training is going well for our 100's. We then cleaned up and went into Lincoln for a pizza and several Cokes before the 2 hour drive home. To view all the pictures I took, go here.
Next up the 38 mile Grafton Trail Loop with a bunch of Maineacs!
Steve and Deb (and Tucker)