Thursday, July 26, 2007

This is Your Brain on the Whites...

Summer haze over the White Mountains in New Hampshire, August 1, 2006. Photo by Mike Keene.

Hills are relative. I think Einstein would agree. When your frame of reference is largely based on running Oxford Road, Tuckahoe State Park offers challenging hills. When you take off on a 72-minute trail run in western Pennsylvania's Alameda State Park, Tuckahoe begins to look Kansas-flat.

Working with some seemingly brutal hills this past Sunday, made for a fantastic, scenic trail run. As of Monday, Alameda's hills will be relegated to foothill status as Mike Keene and I arrive in New Hampshire's White Mountains. We have a 4-day, 3-night, AMC hut-to-hut fastpack planned, hopefully with some trail running thrown in for good measure.

Our plotted course includes Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Mt. Washington, Gulfside Trail, Mts. Adams and Madison, Osgood Trail, and Madison Gulf Trail. Our accommodations will be made at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, Mitzpah Spring Hut, and Madison Spring Hut. Keene is a White Mountain veteran, and has plotted our course based on great routes and hut availability.

Light, fast, and fun are the operating principles for the trip--not forgetting to just enjoy the experience. There are a few companies worth mentioning to say thanks for making great gear that encompasses trail running and fastpacking, and have been staples for my own trail running already. I am using a GoLite Multi-Sport pack, which is light and functional; Montrail Hardrock shoes which kept me blister-free through the Holiday Lake 50K++ and winter and spring trail running; and Ibex clothing, who pretty well has me covered from the waist-up with base and mid-layers for all conditions. I am hoping to send Ibex a report and photos after the trip.

There are any number of reasons why I am pumped for this trip. One is because I've never been to the Whites before and can't wait to savor it all. Two is to brutalize my legs a bit with rocks and mountains to help get ready for a moderately hilly Baltimore Marathon in October and the JFK 50 in November, which starts with a 14-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. Three is having a training partner and friend looney enough to languish through 5-hour training runs, a 12-degree 50K for a first ultra, one-upsmanship for entering longer trail and distance races, winter runs, and other zaniness, to finally get something slower and more low-key to enjoy. And the bonus, is to try to find a home for one or more magazine stories from the trip.

Look for a trip report on the next post here.

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