Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Training Runs - Mt. Chocorua, NH 9/1/13 & Wapack Trail Run 9/7/13

Mt. Chocorua Run Up

While vacationing in Conway, NH, between trips to the beach on the Saco River and to local train stations with my family, the plan was to run a Moat Mountain traverse of sorts. I was planning on running up South Moat, across Middle Moat and down Red Ridge to the base of North Moat and then back up North and across the ridge to the car. The second morning's plans were to run up Champney Falls Trail to the summit of Mt. Chocorua. Instead I wimped out when I heard lightning and pouring rain overnight and decided on changing my Moats traverse to Monday morning and doing the Chocorua run on Sunday morning. It turned out that the rain and storms were even worse Monday, so I bagged the Moats run anyways. There's always the next time I'm up there, it's a great run and involves a lot of open ridge running which i really enjoy.

The Champney Falls Trail starts from the Kancamagus Highway and rises 2,250' to the summit of Mt. Chocorua (3,500') over the 3.8 mile trail. Along the way is the Champney Falls loop trail that during higher water is very nice, this wasn't a particularly high water time even though it had rained hard overnight. The climb is moderate the whole way to the summit with a few scrambles at the top over boulders and open rock slabs.

GPS track

Elevation profile

I started the climb up the trail around 6:15 and made my way past the falls and through some of the rocky switchbacks.

Rooty section of trail

Champney Falls area

Champney Falls

Looking up a section of river near the falls, water level was pretty low

Continuing the climb up the trail from the falls, I soon hit some switchbacks where the terrain got a little steeper and footing made the run a little slower. Before I knew it, I was getting to the Piper Trail which you take to reach the summit. The running from here to treeline was pretty easy, but changed as soon as I reached the slab covered summit

Sharp footing in some areas

Wet rocks made for slow going

Topping out above treeline, first blue sky sighting of the day

Looking through the clouds at the sharp summit cone

Some undercast clouds made the trip well worth it

Shiny pond in the distance, possibly Whitton Pond

Inov8 295s on the summit

Looking at the Moats ridge

Above treeline cairns

Wet angled slabs
The run went well, took about 46:30 to reach the summit, after stopping to take tons of photos and running generally slow for some of the run due to the humidity and possibly indulging in too many beers the night before. The Inov8 295s handled the wet rocks well and continue to give me confidence on footing with their grippy lugs. Still trying to get my climbing to improve, but I feel like I have made some strides over this summer with some of the longer mountain runs, the Pemi and Presi Traverse.

The rest of the trip was spent introducing my five month old daughter to her aunts, uncles, and cousins for the first time and swimming with Matthew in the Saco. We didn't pick the best weekend for weather, but made the best of the sunshine when it was out. We hope to get up North one more time before the weather turns colder.

Wapack Trail Run

I haven't returned to the Wapack Trail since running the 50 mile race in May, race report here, and I felt it was time to pay a visit to my favorite local training run. I typically run a 17-18 mile out & back here a few times a year from the Mt. Watatic parking lot in Ashburnham, MA to Windblown Ski Area. This is an opposite direction run of the Wapack Trail Race, typically held on Labor Day weekend every year. I have run the race once in 2010 and suffered miserably with an IT band injury, causing me to walk a lot of the second half of the race. I do hope to return someday that I am not away on Labor Day weekend and put in a better run than in 2010. The plan was to run an out and back from Mt. Watatic at a moderate pace and try to concentrate on climbing some of the steeper hills well.

GPS track

Elevation profile
I stopped for about 15 minutes to try to catch the sunrise at the Binney Pond Overlook and then noticed on the weather app on my phone that it wouldn't be rising for another half hour. I took some photos of the early morning light and kept moving across the ridge towards Barrett Peak, where at the bottom I would turn around and head back to the car.

Looking over Binney Pond from the Binney Pond Overlook to Mt. Watatic's summit, shortly before sunrise

Mt. Monadnock view (15 miles East of here) from New Ipswich Mtn.

Nice sky colors

Purple mountains in the distance

Monadnock view

Looking up at Barrett Peak, second to last climb before the turnaround point

Sun starting to rise near the top of Barrett Peak

Red sunlight coming through the trees

Mt. Monadnock view

Looking towards the ridgeline that I would be running shortly after

Rocky grassy slab running at one of the many clearings

Binney Pond and Mt. Watatic in the daylight

Looking at the backside of Mt. Watatic with Mt. Wachusett poking above its shoulder
The run went well, I ran the entire way with the exception of a few spots on Pratt Mtn.'s steep uphill. The climbing felt good and it was great to get out on my favorite training run once before the fall starts and some of the trails become icy. I told my friend Justin, who despises this trail after running the 50 mile race several times and swearing that he would never run it again (read his last Wapack race report here), that I would swear at the trail a few times for his sake and I did. There are no flat spots on the trail and the distance ended up being 17 miles with 3,622' of climbing over the several smaller mountains that the trail ascends and descends. I plan to return to the Wapack 50 miler in the spring and try to run a better race than last year.

Next up, I hope to sign up for the Kismet Cliff Run's Beast of the East Half Marathon on 9/22 which is 13-14 miles and 4000' of climbing on the Northern end of the Moat Mountain ridge. After that will be spent running longer distances (26-30m) in preparation for the TARC Fall Classic 50k in mid-October. It is a 10k loop trail race that offers 10k, half marathon, marathon, and 50k distances and is run by the best trail running club in the area. TARC always puts on a good race and I can't wait to check out the trails of Great Brook Farm in Carlisle, MA where the race is held.


  1. The "Looking through the clouds at the sharp summit cone" of Chocorua photo is the prizewinner! Runner-up is definitely the pre-sunrise sky over Binney Pond; great stuff, man.

    1. Thanks for reading, Ben. I have been on Chocorua's summit three previous time and this was by far the best timing for scenery. The combination of the early morning light and clearing cloud cover was amazing. Nice job on the fall Wapack race, that trail is a lot of fun.

  2. Great write up and pics. Thanks for the shout out and "shout at" on the trail.

    1. Thanks! No problem, it's a love/hate relationship with that trail.