Thursday, June 26, 2014

Southern Presi Traverse/Mt. Washington Auto Road Race 2014 Spectating

While we were making our way up the first climb of Mt. Watatic together at the Wapack and Back 50, Eric Ahern mentioned that he was planning on running along the Presidential Range in the White Mts. to spectate at the Mt. Washington Auto Road Race on June 21st. I was thinking about a Pemi Loop around that time, but decided to join him and some friends up on the ridge instead. I figured I could do a Pemi Loop solo later in the summer, and choosing the run across the Presis would give me an opportunity to spend some time in the mountains with a few other people.

The route that I chose was to run was on Saturday with Eric and Mike McDuffie (link to his blog here) was ascending Mt. Pierce from Crawford Notch, over Mt. Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe past Lakes of the Clouds and up to Mt. Washington and back. It was a variation of a Southern Presi Traverse and the start time was set to be at 6AM. The group was going to meet up with Sam Jurek, Scott Traer, and David Huss as they were running a full traverse from North to South that morning as well. Eric and McDuffie met me right around 6 and we hiked/jogged our way up the Crawford Path up to the summit of Mt. Pierce reaching it in about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Making our way up the Crawford Path towards Pierce

Sunlight coming through the trees

Near the Pierce summit spur and our first views of the ridge. Eisenhower, our next peak, is in the center of the photo.

Eric and McDuffie making their way up to the summit of Pierce
From Pierce's summit, we mostly ran up to Mt. Eisenhower with some short hiking sections on the steeper parts, reaching the summit in about 30 minutes (1:48 elapsed).  This section passes in and out of treeline and there are some open ridges to stop and take in the far-reaching views. I mentioned to Eric and McDuffie that I had a chili dog at the top of Mt. Washington last time I was up here running the Semi-Double Traverse (blog report here), and it really hit the spot. Dreaming of the chili dog at the summit was all I, and apparently Eric as well, needed for motivation to push forward and make it up there.
Looking back towards Pierce and Jackson from a viewpoint near the summit of Eisenhower

Summit cairn at Eisenhower

View towards Monroe, Franklin and Washington

Franklin and Monroe, Oakes Gulf on the right

Mt. Washington's peak in the clouds

Crawford Path below looking into Oakes Gulf from Monroe
Another 45 minutes and we were at the summit of Monroe where we were met with some increasing winds as we climbed in elevation. According to the forecast the temperatures were about 35°-40° with 30 mph winds, which made the windchill around 10-20 degrees. Some of the hikers we ran into, the photographer for the picture below, was genuinely concerned that we weren't warm enough. We assured him we had several other layers in our packs and would use them if necessary. As long as we kept moving the temperatures weren't really that bad.
Summit of Mt. Monroe looking South

Running down towards Lakes of the Clouds Hut
After a quick stop in the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, we made our way up to the summit of Mt. Washington. This section is the rockiest that we encountered all day and also had the most people scattered along the trail. We made it to the summit right around 9:36 with about 15-20 minutes left in the Auto Road Race, so we headed inside the summit lodge to grab our three chili dogs and warm up for a few minutes before going back out to see the finish.
Lakes of the Clouds

Making our way up to Washington, in and out of the clouds that day

View back towards the Southern Presis

Joe Gray winning the Auto Road Race in just under an hour
I ended up staying for the first couple hundred people to come in and left the summit around 10:30am as my companions headed off towards Mt. Jefferson to meet up with Dave, Scott, and Sam on their way through the N-S Traverse. Picking my way through the droves of hikers coming up from the hut and Ammonoosuc Ravine, I made it down to the hut in around 20 minutes. I quickly sucked down some water and refilled my bottles here because I knew that would be the last stop for water until the base of Mt. Pierce. From Mt. Washington back to the car was mostly downhill because I ended up skipping the summits of Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce. I ended up making pretty quick time of the trip down in 2 hours and the total time ended up being around 5 hours 45 minutes of running with about an hour and a half of stops between Lakes and Washington's lodge. The total mileage was somewhere around 17.2 with 6,000 feet of climbing. All in all a good day out in the mountains and a good primer for my next adventure up in the White Mts.

Making my way down from the Mt. Washington summit solo

Crawford Path heading around Monroe's summit

One of the more runnable sections

Looking towards Eisenhower and Pierce

One last look back on the ridge

Interesting section of Crawford Path as it goes around Mt. Eisenhower

Gibbs Falls towards the base of Pierce
Map of our route

Elevation profile with blue pace line

I had a great half day in the mountains with Eric and McDuffie and I'm glad I tagged along with their run. I can't wait to head back there along the AMC Hut Traverse I am planning on doing with Chris Dailey (link to his blog here). We are planning on running the 50 mile, 17,000' climbing traverse from Carter Notch to Lonesome Lake and have targeted a time of 15 hours. This will be my first time, but Chris has been on the route before. A description of a fast running of the route by Adam Wilcox can be found here . He ran it in 13 hours 53 minutes and was racing the sun back to his car similar to what we will be doing. The plan is to start from Carter Notch Hut at first light (around 4-5am) on July 12th and run down 19 Mile Brook Trail to Great Gulf Trail to Madison Hut and then do a Presi Traverse to the Lakes of the Clouds and Mizpah Hut. This section, along with the Garfield Ridge Trail, will be the toughest footing/weather(?) of the trip and it will be good to get that out of the way early.

The week after the traverse I will run the Bear Brook Marathon at Bear Brook State Park, NH which  I ran last year in 4 hours 16 minutes. The goal this year is to hopefully run it in under 4 hours. I am trying to add in more speedwork sessions between now and then to work on my leg speed on hills. I've consistently been to three track sessions in 4 weeks, with one week off, and I'm looking to keep up that rate. I figure if I do one track session, one interval session on trails and one tempo per week on my weekday runs and keep up the mountain repeats, I should be in good shape to run a good race and suffer a little less at the Hut Traverse. 

Here are a couple videos that McDuffie made of a portion of our trip:


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