So this weekend I decided to try a New England classic with a twist. On several painful occasions I possessed the craziness to attempt the much respected Pemi Traverse (http://www.backpacker.com/may_2005_feature_hardest_dayhikes/destinations/8485?page=1) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On 6 attempts I have managed 2 successful loops. One in three days and another in two. While 32 miles may not sound like an insurmountable distance, the terrain along the route provides for real slow travel. On a good day, a 2.5mph pace will have you passing heavy packers left and right like a bat out of hell. After a pretty successful year of keeping in good shape I decided I needed to kick it up a notch and give a single day push a go. The most challenging part of a trip like this is to find a victim to coerce into joining me on this so called New England Death March.
Several months back Jim Baily and I started PMing back and forth after exchanging comments about the infamous BPL Forum Troll. So one day I shot out the idea that I would love to complete a one day Pemi Loop. Lucky for me Jim’s response was…
“1 day Pemi Loop? Alright, I'm in (I think). What would be logistic's for that? Guessing a very early start 3/4am maybe? Sounds way too sick to pass up.”
Jim and I met up at Lincoln Woods just as the sun was going down on Friday evening. We decided to hike a mile into the woods and make camp as it would give us an earlier start on the day. As I unloaded my pack from the car Jim proclaimed “FINALLY, someone around here with a small pack”. Obviously we got along immediately. So after a one mile walk we found a great BC site right near a brook to shield me from Buzzsaw Jim’s late night snoring concerto. After setting up my ponchotarp we were in our bivies and fast asleep by 9:30. Through the night I awoke on a few occasions to some weird noises in the woods, but it really did not bother my Tylenol PM stupor. The next morning Jim mentioned that he heard some weird stuff too. My joking reference to hearing small children laughing Blair Witch style was def in poor taste and only received a “Dude that’s not funny” look from Jim.
By 4:30 we had tanked up on some water and we were headed to our first summit of the day. We reached the top of Flume right after sunrise and took a quick breather before moving on. Of course I started to notice a slight chaffing discomfort that I will spare you the details on. Needless to say, not the best way to start a 32 mile day. As Jim and I continued to count down the summits the weather was turning against us in a way we would have never thought. With highs in the mid 80’s, perfectly clear skies and not a drop of humidity, lengthy and interesting conversations started bogging us down on beautiful summits with endless views.
Being that I am a freak of nature at 6’4” my stride length was getting me to the summits alittle quicker than Jim. All in all it was a good thing as it gave me more time to rest while also providing Jim a cheering section for each summit. By the time we started our ascent of Garfield we were both looking pretty tired and smelling pretty bad. In Jim’s words he was “ starting to smell like Santa’s workbench”. Not sure where that falls on the backcountry “Funk” scale, but in comparison to the endless stream of north bound thru hikers, it was nothing.
After tanking up once again at the Garfield tent site, Jim and I decided it too late in the day to continue on. So we headed down to 13 Falls which is always a great escape route from the Pemi. Jim decided to spend the night out but my Micky D’s craving would not allow that. So we parted ways and I started a steady jog down the 7 mile path back to the car. After an hour the legs had it and I was reduced to a slow walking pace. As darkness descended upon me, my mind started to lose it. The Lincoln Woods Trail for anyone who has not done it is an endless straight line that seems to take forever. With my LOD CE shining the way, I would not allow myself to stop and rest by chanting the ever so motivating order I would be placing at McDonalds in a short time (Large #1 w/Cheese and a Coke). When I finally reached the suspension bridge I let out a loud “WEEEEHAWWW” with all of my might. What an amazing feeling to walk 25+ miles in one day in the Whites. As I walked to my car I ran into a group headed out. Each member had the full Arc Teryx uniform and by my summation had just come from the Tannery in Boston (posh outdoor store that only carries Arc Teryx). As I stopped to chat they inquired what had I just completed that was worthy of my cowboy hoot. As I told them their faces dropped. Turns out they were headed out on the same route for the next three days. I smiled wished them luck and went on my way.
- MLD SuperZip worked perfectly for jogging at the end. No excess bounce and was comfortable all day long.
- MLD Water Bottle shoulder strap pockets are awesome. Great way to disto weight.
- Inov8 Roclite 295’s were perfect for the rock and root infested terrain. Only suffered sore feet in the last 3 miles
- Gatorade Propel powder and Jolt Gum provided a great moral booster as the day wore on.
- Ibex Outback wool T was comfortable all day even in high heat.