Sunday, March 5, 2017

Adventure Fridays - Episode 1 - Monadnock Summit via Pumpelly

"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than how you think it should be" -- Wayne Dyer

A little over a week ago I decided it was time to start a new venture called "Adventure Fridays."  The premise is simple; once a month or so, get out and do something new and interesting on a Friday.

With a hilly trail race coming up in Mid-March, I needed to get out and tackle some gnarly terrain with some big elevation gain.  Amy was on travel for the last week in February, so I decided I would just take Friday off from work, drop the kids off at pre-school / day care, and go do something fun. As luck would have it, Keith was off for February break so I a buddy to tag along with for the day.

For my first Adventure Friday, I decided that I would run the Pumpelly trail up Mount Monadnock. I had first hiked / run this trail back in November of 2010, so I was at least somewhat familiar with it.

The Pumpelly trail starts north of the mountain (Near Dublin, NH) and is about 4 miles in length to the summit.  The first mile and half or so are pretty runnable with about 400' of climbing.  From there it moves more towards a scramble and once you crest the tree line it turns to your technical / rocky New England trail.

Pumpelly Trail Head
Unlike before, this time we were tackling the trail with snow and ice on it which added an additional degree of complexity. Keith and I arrived at the trail head around 10 am and were greeted with a warm, but foggy, 45 degree weather.

As expected, the first mile and a half went fairly smoothly other then sliding around in the wet snow.

Once the scrambling started, it began to get interesting. Picture a 40+% grade, solid ice, and a cold stream of water coming down over it.  We dug in with our spikes and grabbed onto anything we could to get over it.

After it flattened out, we were able to jog again a little, but had to be careful not to stray off the main trail too much or we would end up post holing (falling through soft snow) immediately.

Once we got above the tree line, the sun had come up and it was a beautiful clear day.  We continued to slog along switching back and forth between solid rock, solid ice, with bouts of soft snow.  You really had to focus on what you were doing.

An hour and 19 minutes after we started, we reached the summit.  After a quick snack and a few pictures we began our descent.  As with any other time I have been near the Monadnock summit, there were 40-50 mph winds.

Southern Facing Panoramic from Monadnock Summit

The first two miles of the descent were a little slow due to the technicality of the course coupled with the winter conditions.  We were also quite a bit more conservative being a little tired from the ascent. Once we got below the tree line we were able to pick the pace up some, heavily relying on our micro-spikes in the iciest of sections.  As we hit the runnable section again, we began our blitz and even were able to drop a 9:01 mile before reaching the trail ahead.

Our total time on trail was just over 2 hours and 18 minutes, which wasn't too bad considering the adding difficulty created by the winter weather.  All in all a great run and happy to get out and do something hard and technical again.

On the way home, Keith and I stopped at the Gardner Ale house for lunch and a celebratory pint.

For March's Adventure Friday, I'll be out in California prepping for my next 50K race, the Ruck a Chuck, and able to explore part of the famed Western States course.

Looking forward to see where future Adventure Fridays will lead me.


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