Quentin Tarantino it back to Friday night--we headed west toward our sacred White mountains around 830pm. My wife, 19-month old human baby and 13 month old border collie baby left under the shroud of night. Our destination...the Farmington, ME Walmart. "Just park by the Burger King!!" the manager exclaimed. "You can't park near the entrance!!!!" Little did she know, I love parking 1/4 mile away from the shopping centre. "Oh, we, will," I assured, excitedly!
We pulled in around 1030pm and after tag-teaming bathroom breaks in the Wal-Mart (because the camper is already winterized for the season), we settled in for our slumber, which was interruped every 45 mins by ford f-250s and chevy 1500s peeling into the parking lot for a late-night something-or-other. We survived the night, and after an early-morning shopping spree of milk and more milk, we headed westward on the serpentine Route 2.
By early AM, Denny was sick as shit of driving and even more upset that we had the cahones to cross into New Hampshire. We decided to make a stop in Gorham, NH, certainly the most under-rated town in the state. We did some swings and some playground action, and chilled in the northern shadows of the Presidential range of the White Mountains. We then headed south on 16 to one of the centers of white mountain activity, Pinkham Notch. From here, we embarked on a half-day hike to Tukerman Gorge, the epicenter of northeast backcountry skiing. Lindsay fared well and we hiked the 6 miles up and back in a little under 4 hours. We chilled for an hour or so at the hermit pond lodge with other hikers (primarily Quebecquois) on their way to and fro. Denny got to stretch his legs and run around, while we (me) spoke awkwardly in broken French to les Quebecqois, who didn't appreciate my slaughtering of their language, but sportingly took a family picture of us.
Anyways, we scooted back down and we headed down the valley to the premier restaurant of New England: 99 Restaurant in North Conway. And since the Red Sox won the night before, kids eat free; so we ordered a meal for Denny that we could snack on, without regards to his nutritional needs. After munching on much-deserved meals from our 6 mile hike/fast, we then began our quest to find a parking spot for the night. This would prove to be a much more challenging feat than the hike. North Conway village is more attuned to preventing overnight parking than child kidnappings, so we were turned away at the 50 acre empty, desolate, remote parking lot at Cranmore mountain. My superhuman wife may have prevented several acts of public disservice here for free, but, yea, they scoffed at these American knackers and pointed us elsewhere.
Thus we headed for the seclusion of the mountains, like moonshiners and rapists of yore. 12 miles up route 16 we parked in my "last resort" campground, plan #4, the overflow lot of Pinkham notch, where we had hiked just several hours before. We parked at 630 pm and it was pitch black by 7pm and raining vigorously, so we had no choice but to sleep! The natural cycle of day and night is a beautiful thing and we took great heed; sleeping by 8pm is what nature intends when the sun is set! Aside from an unnamed baby waking 5-6x and significant rainfall and wind, we basically slept until 7am, when we set southward to Echo lake for the main event.
Not wanting to monopolize the entire day, I decided to drop from the 14 mile to the 5 mile trail race. This was a good choice, as I later found out, because I could eat a burrito, win a few prizes, and head homeward in the time it would take me to get to mile 9 of the 14 miler. (why would I ever do a long race again!!)
The day was supposed to be terrible; the forecast was for more grizzly weather like we had endured in our camper, Explore, the night before, high on the mountain pass at Pinkham notch, but yea, this was not the case. The clouds broke and Whitehorse and Cathedral ledge stoodfast in our presence with a breathtaking view. Still, haste was the goal, and the 5 mile race I did.
The course was beautiful--even though I had hiked most of the running route over the years, running it was different, primarily because it was faster. Only science will tell why this was the case.
Anyway, I took off fast, 6-7 min miles towards Cathedral ledge, where the literal ledge forced me to powerhike. At times, like I am known to do, I literally climbed on all fours. No one else I've ever known in a trail race has done this, but I assume, due to my large ears and upper limbs, my genes link me that much closer to our hominid cousins, the apes.
As fast as my ape-like body could carry me, the first female caught me at mile 3. And though my simian features carried me swiftly up the steep slopes of Whitehorse ledge and quickly down the red ridge trail, my bipedal gait was no match for Alison. (I know her name because I took the time to schmooze on the downhill. Strategy, folks, strategy.) Unfortunately all that talking tired me out, so my strategy didn't work at all and she turned on the turbo as the trail flattened over the last 1.5 miles, leaving me to scurry in for 3rd place overall.
In all, it was a wonderful trip and race. I'd love to do the long course next year, and I'd highly recommend it to any runner!