Like me, you might be feeling a bit blue about these less than perfect wintry New Engalnd conditions. Despite the warmer temps and precip, there's still great winter hiking to be had up here in the whites. Today I met up with an old college classmate, Justin to hike Mt. Hale (4054ft) via the Fire Warden's Trail.
The peak's namesake Edward Everett Hale, is an interesting Bostonian who earned this honor with his contributions to the 19th and early 20th century religious communities, fiction and non-fiction literature, and social reform/justice. He was an early pioneer in modern science fiction topics, writing about time travel and publishing the first known description of now ubiquitous artificial satellites in his story "The Brick Moon". We thank him for his contributions and this peak!
With the warm weather and rain we've had lately we expected soft snow and possibly icy trail conditions. We parked at the end of Little River Rd., hiked across the bridge, and headed up the "Herdpath" to the North Twin Trail trail head. Road access to this trail head is closed in the winter. We enjoyed the next ~mile of the hike with river music dancing on our right and continued on down the east side of the river. The trails got a little confusing here with tracks crossing the river at various points and others continuing on the east side of the river. Continuing on, Justin spotted the Fire Warden Trail , but it looked like someone had just wandered off trail for a bit so we kept going down North Twin. After another ~0.5mi we got the feeling we had missed it, since the map suggested the junction should be less than a mile from the trail head. Ready for an adventure, we strapped on our snowshoes and started breaking trail straight up to Hale from that point. The climb was definitely an adventure with some thigh deep snow, some sections of dense pine, and a few good scrambles, but manageable for the most part. Justin led most of the way since his snowshoes gave him better purchase in the soft snow than mine. There were some beautiful gnarly pines draped with Spanish moss along our bushwhack (it's actually neither Spanish nor moss, it's related to the pineapple!) and plenty of animal tracks likely pine marten and hare, maybe some small cats. We got some fat rain drops as the clouds moved near 3500ft. As we neared the summit we were caught in the saddle between Hale and an unnamed neighboring peak, but soon found our way onto Fire Warden and made it up to the summit. After a customary tap of the summit marker and a quick layer change we let our legs loose and bombed down Fire Warden and some ski tracks between the switchbacks. The down hill was a blast and it looked like the skiers had a great time breaking trail the day before. We made it down and back with a short 2mi jog along North Twin Trail and Herdpath. Overall a great adventure. I look forward to checking it out again in the summer.
Check out Justin's website, JCCrossCrountry for great trip write ups and his inspiring passion for the outdoors.
Justin got me thinking about my 2017 hiking and general outdoor goals. I have some ideas including a Pemi, hut traverse, and 48. I'm going to dig in and make some solid plans for this year and further down the line. You can expect to see those here soon.
Race update! I'm organizing an 8mi/5km race at Gunstock this Spring. I'm finalizing the date and wrapping up plans in the next week. Registration should be open by Jan. 30th. After working on other organizer's racers in a number of roles, I'm excited to be organizing this one from start to finish. Keep an eye out for an announcement on the Fresh Tracks Facebook page.
Gobble, gobble, gobble! Thanksgiving and "fun" times with family are right around the corner! That also means that we runners are trotting along on our turkey trots this week in hopes of catching that last breath of fall weather or easing our conscience while stuffing our faces this Thursday. It's OK, we're all in it together.
This past Saturday I made it down to the first, hopefully not the last, TARCkey Trot 5k and 6hr run just outside Boston. Running with these animals is always a good time. If you're in the New England and you haven't been to one of their races or group runs, you're missing out! Great people, great venues, great organization, and a whole lot of fun. Check out the Trail Animals Running Club website here and join the fun! Join their entertaining and active community on Facebook, here.
I can't imagine better weather for a mid-November race in New England. Sunny, high 40s F, beautiful. The race was based out of the barn (built in 18-something, 78?) at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester, MA and ran through the farm's fields and Whipple Hill conservation area in neighboring Lexington. Trails were your typical fall clutter of leaves, beautiful, but definitely takes focus to not eat dirt. Beautiful single and some double track up and over rolling hills, total elevation gain of 376ft over the 5k loop course. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. The most fantastic part about this race was the finish line and transition area (for the 6hr) at the entrance to the farm's barn, though there was a car accidentally parked just in front of the finish line as the 5k finishers came in. Still awesome. Congrats to all the runners that turned out and a big thank you to Josh Katzman, the TARC crew, and the volunteers for an awesome day!
Fresh Tracks Race Update: We're recruiting sponsors and finalizing the course for our first Fresh Tracks race of 2017! The 8mi and 5k trail runs will be held early Spring at Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, NH. More deets to come soon! Stay tuned.
TARCkey Trot - Top Finishers
6hr (89 participants)
M1 Patrick Caron 37.2mi
M2 Sylvain Olier 34.1mi
M3 John Paul Lewicke 31mi
F1 Alexandra Brinket 31mi
F2 Justine Cohen 27.9mi
F3 Kara Spera 27.9mi
5k (40 participants)
M1 Andrew Hostetler 23:29 (that's me!)
M2 Michael McDuffie 24:55
M3 Chris Parfitt 25:04
F1 Samantha Leblanc 26:59
F2 Dana Christensen 31:51
F3 Annie Gagliardi 33:02
Here's a preview of a race we're working on for early Spring in the sorely under appreciated Belknap Range in New Hampshire's Lakes Region, 45 minutes from Concord and 1h 45m from Boston. Both long and short course options will be available. Registration will be open very soon on RunReg! We will also have an event page on our website. Please check back soon!
I stopped by the site today to map a possible route. It's looking like a challenging 8 - 10 mile course with impressive views of Lake Winnepesauke and the Southern Whites. I can't wait to see what the views have in store once the trees have shed their autumnal garb! The course will start runners on Gunstock's XC trails, around a roller coaster of inclines and downhill before they hit an absolutely beautiful ridge taking them to Mt. Rowe. From Rowe runners will head up winding switch back with great views into the Belknap range off the back of Gunstock Mt before reaching the summit. From the summit runners will bomb, or carefully pick their way down to the Cobble Mt. XC trails where they'll hit one more climb up Cobble before coming in to the finish.
Click on the maps below to take a closer look at these trails! Click here to look at the route on Strava.