I need to get in a good week of running before I begin a shortened taper for the Vermont 100, and running the 33.3 mile Pemi Loop in the White Mountains seemed like a great idea. I was joined by my buddy James Demer and together we tackled the loop. A somewhat unexpected obstacle was some pretty darn brutal heat and humidity throughout the trek, even on the ridges above treeline. The wind was relatively light up there and provided some relief, but not much. Made for some good heat training.
I must say James is fantastic company. We had a blast throughout despite the tough conditions and we were pleased with how it all went. We pushed each other throughout while engaging in our always entertaining conversations that ranged from existentialistic musings to fart jokes.
Route: Did it counter-clockwise starting from Lincoln Woods, and added the side trips to West Bond and Galehead.
Total Miles: 33.3
Total Elevation: 9760' gain (19,520' gain + loss)
Peaks (in order): Bondcliff (4265'), Bond (4698'), West Bond (4540'), South Twin (4902'), Galehead (4024'), Garfield (4500'), Lafayette (5260'), Lincoln (5089'), Liberty(4459') and Flume (4328')
Here's a quick play-by-play followed by some pictures.
Section: Lincoln Woods to Bondcliff
Notes: Started about 6:15am. James and I ran the Wilderness trail which is a flat and pretty boring 4.5 mile section you have to get through before reaching the Bondcliff trail that leads to the summit. We enjoyed the climb and got above treeline to the summit. Noted that the wind was non-existent and we were already sweating like pigs. Stopped to take some pictures at the summit.
Section: Bondcliff to Bond
Miles: 1.2 (10.3 total)
Notes: Steep uphill, so we power-hiked it the best we could. Tagged Bond and rehydrated on the summit and had a snack. Filled one of my water bottles with Clip-2.
Section: Bond to West Bond
Miles: 1.0 (11.3)
Notes: Gravity on our side for much of the hike down Bond and the spur towards West Bond. Reached the summit and snapped a few pictures but didn't linger long. The sweat was flowing from our pores like fine wine.
Section: West Bond to South Twin
Miles: 3.3 (14.6)
Notes: Pretty uneventful trek over. Reached the summit and two female caretakers from the huts were goofing around at the top. They were quite entertaining.
Section: South Twin to Galehead
Miles: 1.3 (15.9)
Notes: Very steep and rocky downhill. Went past the AMC hut and tagged Galehead. No real views from the summit, so we didn't waste time turning around heading back to the main trail on the loop.
Section: Galehead to Garfield
Miles: 3.4 (19.3)
Notes: Stopped inside the hut after coming off of Galehead. Refilled water and ate some sandwiches we brought. Then made our way to Garfield and the heat of the day was really beating down on us now, not to mention the humidity. Drank a lot of water, and we had become worried we might not have enough for the rest of the trek. Fortunately, the spring at the Garfield campsite was flowing strong. Refilled again here and drank some more.
Section: Garfield to Lafayette
Miles: 3.5 (22.8)
Notes: The section from hell. The speed bumps between the two peaks were annoying. Sun continued to beat down on us and we were feeling like one-legged cats trying to bury turds on a frozen pond. Grinded our way to the top and rejoiced when we reached the summit, our highest of the day. Unfortunately, not much wind up here and the heat and humidity were still unrelenting.
Section: Lafayette to Lincoln
Miles: .9 (23.7)
Notes: Quick and uneventful trek to Lincoln. Scurried towards the end to break 20 minutes to the peak but missed it by a second. Oh poo...
Section: Lincoln to Liberty
Miles: 2.9 (26.6)
Notes: Trek over seemed long and the stagnant humid air was soupy as heck. We were still having fun though.
Section: Liberty to Flume
Miles: 1.2 (27.8)
Notes: One more peak. Pushed up strong but was feeling beat up because of the weather.
Section: Flume to the Finish
Miles: 5.5 (33.3)
Notes: Very interesting thing happened here. I was feeling weak and was even wobbling a little while trying to run/hike. Breaking 12 hours for the day seemed out of the question. Decided to stop and take a rest and get some more food and drink in me. Mowed down a bunch of pretzels I had here and after around 5-7 minutes or so we were off again. The energy returned just as we hit a very runnable section. Those pretzels really did some magic, I don't think I've ever had that dramatic of a turnaround. James and I ended up flying through those last three miles at a very good clip. Breaking 12 hours seemed possible but we'd have to work. And work we did, and we broke 12 hours by just a few minutes!
We were very stoked with that. Then cooled off in the river and washed up before heading into Lincoln for pizza and eggplant fries, which were amazing.
Thanks James for a killer time. Darn good workout.
Link to photo album.