Monday, September 29, 2008

21 in 3

Well, 3:04:24 but close enough.

The plan was to start at 8am, which is the MDI start time. The morning did not go quite as planned, as Snowman came downstairs complaining of foot pain and did not want to run. Well, he wanted to run, but was pissed that his foot hurt and thought this was going to be his last run ever. Ah yes, morning running with Snowman :-)

Anyway, we eventually got out the door. It was a nice slightly overcast morning. Good temps but humid. Our plan was to do two loops that went through the Bowdoin field house lot. That way we would have access to the car, extra water, gels, etc. Loop #1 was the Highland Road loop with the slight modification I made to make it 12 miles. We set out at a good pace, and headed up Pleasant Hill Road. The fields along Highland were full of purple and pink asters. The maple trees along the field edges were beginning to turn brilliant red.

As we hit Maquoit Bay, we passed a couple out walking. The man said, "Stop talking! It sounds like you're having too much fun!" Guess we fooled him :-) But seriously, I was feeling pretty good, and it was a beautiful morning. I never tire of looking out onto the bay.

The last stretch along Maquoit Road heading back into town is long and flat. It seemed to stretch on forever, but we finally were back in the parking lot at 1:47. Snowman stopped at the car to refuel. I needed to pee! As I'm sure I've mentioned in previous posts, the field house is, like the rest of Bowdoin, under construction. They are building a new hockey arena. There are lots of port-a-potties on the construction site. One was right at the edge of the parking lot, and I was in luck. Much better.

I ate a few Clif Shot Bloks and we were off. The 9 miles in Loop #2 took us down Rt. 123 and out into Pennellville. The Pennellville fields were pretty quiet, but we did get some great views of a beautiful American Kestrel. At the end of Pennell Way, we turned left and ran down to Simpson's Point. Another beautiful ocean vista. We were both feeling good, and Snowman commented that if he kept feeling good, he might try to hammer out the last few miles. I kept chugging along, and though maybe, I could even keep up! Ha! With two miles left, Snowman took the lead and he was gone. I tried my best. I was running as fast as my little legs would carry me at this point, but there was just no way I could catch him. Oh well. I'm still pretty happy with my time, which, at 8:47 a mile, seems pretty solid. Overall, a good long run that leaves me with a good feeling going into the last few weeks before the marathon. Of course, who knows if I'll be able to walk down the stairs tomorrow morning :-)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Burn After Reading and Hurricanes

We never go to the movies. But Snowman really wanted to see Burn After Reading, it was playing at Brunswick's groovy independent movie theatre, the Eveningstar and we are home this weekend with plans for a lazy wake-up tomorrow. So why not?

I am not a movie critic so my analysis will be short and sweet: Sick, very sick, but incredibly funny. Some seriously dark humor. A bit of violence. I laughed out loud more than once. And of course, the cast was great.

In other news, Maine is having it's first hurricane warning in 17 years (Yes, 17 years. Way to go Maine!). It's currently raining quite hard. Tomorrow's run might be a bit wet. Than again, Monday's might too. But I guess they don't cancel marathons if it's raining so either way, we'll be out there running.

Misty Morning

The room seemed extra dark when I woke up this morning, and I wondered if I had set the alarm correctly. But yes, it was 6:30am. The low clouds, fog and steady mist were just making it look extra dreary out there. I set off to run 5 miles in the Commons, and had the woods to myself. It was quiet and a bit soggy, but not too bad. Actually I got the most wet in the middle mile, where the trail narrows and winds through a field. The grasses and undergrowth were holding the water and from my legs down I got soaked as I went out to the end of the Commons and headed back in.

My legs are still a bit stiff, and I think I need to do a better job of stretching, but overall, I felt good during the run. Hopefully one more mellow run tomorrow, and I'll be set for our long run on Monday.

Tomorrow also involves a trip to the Maine Running Company. I ordered a pair of replacement Inov-8 shoes 6 weeks ago, and they are still on back order. Yikes! I don't know when they'll be in but I hope it's soon. In the meantime, I think I need to go check out their other Inov-8s. Mine are pretty much done for, and I don't know how much longer I can wait without getting a new pair. Perhaps I can also find new running tights there. I've been wearing tights that were Snowman's at some point, and they are from our Bowdoin days. As we graduated over 10 years ago, I think it's officially time to retire them!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vote John McLane

This was just too funny not to post.

Thanks to Tank for the link.

Long 10

Today's run felt long. It was the same route I ran the week before we left on vacation, but the miles seemed to stretch on forever. I am not sure that is a good thing...

I was up and out on the roads a bit before 6:30am. I headed out of town to Maquoit Bay, where the newly hayed fields along the water were being hit by the golden early morning light. Gorgeous. A number of ducks were out on the calm waters.

As I eventually turned onto Casco, I passed a pond where 5 mallard ducks were all butts-up in the water, searching for food below. Always funny to look and see the bottom half of a duck sticking up! Made me smile :-)

Other than that, not much to report. I felt OK. No trouble cardiovascularly, but my legs just felt a bit stiff, like they didn't want to move. Creaky knees through mile 5, and overall just a feeling of not much juice. Still, I was glad to see that my time was essentially the same as the last time out on the route. 1:25. So who knows?

I'm hoping a mellow 5-miler on Saturday in the Commons will give my legs a final loosening up and get me back in the groove of running, so I'll be good to go for our long run either Sunday or Monday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Creaky 5

I headed out across the street at 6:30am. First time running in long sleeves, tights and gloves since sometime in early spring. As I crested the first hill on the powerlines, the bright orange orb of the sun was beginning to rise over the trees, casting a pink glow along the horizon. The berries on the trailside bushes, which a few weeks ago were blush/pink colored have now turned a deep, rich purple. As I neared the final flat stretch along the powerlines, a low mist was rising and the red blueberry leaves along the side of the trail were frost covered. I guess fall has arrived.

Lots of birds flitting in and out of the bushes. I flushed out a number of sparrows, three robins, a chickadee and an Eastern Towhee as I ran by.

I felt a bit creaky throughout the run, perhaps because in the past 12 days, I've run two, hiked eight in a row, and then taken the past two off. But it was nice to be out, and get the blood flowing through my legs. Desipte the my creakiness, I ended with a solid time on the route, nothing slower than I've been doing in previous weeks, which is good.

The plan is for 10 road miles tomorrow and then another 5 either Friday or Saturday. Sunday brings our last long run - 20, 21, 22? - before the marathon. Yikes! It's getting close!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Snowman Says: On the AT - Katahdin!

September 21, 2008 | Miles: 5.2
Start: The Birches Campsite, Baxter State Park
End: Mt. Katahdin

We did it!

After a fairly sleepless night, we hit the trail at 7:15. I felt like crap. I was excited, but my body was not. I was dragging. D pratically left me in the dust. After a “discussion,” we slowed down, and I started to hit my stride.

Fittingly, the mountain was in clouds. It was a misty, raw, breezy day on the mountain. It made the climb up less than comfortable as a good deal of the AT is exposed, but once we hit the Tableland and a mile to go, we didn’t care. That final mile is the longest mile on the whole AT. I never thought we’d get to the summit.

At about 10:15, the sign appeared out of the mist. As I took the last couple steps towards the summit sign, I tripped on a rock. I crashed into and ended up underneath the summit sign. It seemed appropriate.

Laughter, tears and cheers ensued. K-Bomb, Mocassin, Enoch, Orangedust, Easy Does It and Slow Train all finished their thruhikes. We had finished our section hike. Four years. We were done.

It was really hard. It was a lot of fun. It was terrible. I wouldn’t change any of it. Honestly, I’m grateful. I owe so many people thanks for getting me all the way through to Katahdin. Obviously, D deserves the lion’s share of the thanks. Without her, I wouldn’t have made it out of Georgia, and I certainly never would have had the persistence to finish this section hike. Of course, without me, she would have had to eat cold dinners the whole way, as she never learned to use the stove. We owe thanks to so many people, it would literally be impossible to list them all. From our closest friends and family who supported us every step to the people we never met who left coolers of soda at trailheads, so many people made this journey possible. No one can do it alone. Really, the AT is all about the people. The Trail doesn’t care about you, but by hiking the Trail, you realize that so many people do. And, you find yourself caring about so many other people. I was just as happy to finish my own hike as I was to see the others that summited that day finish theirs—and 2 of them I’d only met 12 hours prior. The goal was to hike from Georgia to Maine, but it ended up being the people we met along the way that made the journey so worthwhile and so amazing.

Oh yeah, I’m never hiking again.

On the AT - Katahdin!

September 21, 2008 | Miles: 5.2 (plus 5.8 non-AT miles)
Start: The Birches, Baxter State Park
End: Katahdin

Despite the fact that it was THE day, it did not get off to a good start. We had planned to get up and on the trail extra early, around 7am. Snowman was not in a good mood. But everyone was up and the positive energy must have turned things around, as we were off at 7:15 with the rest of the pack, heading up the Hunt Trail in a single-file line, chatting and laughing along the way. It was quite a change from our previous days in the Wilderness, where the two of us would hike along, sometimes not seeing anyone. But this was a fun group of hikers, and we were glad to be in their ranks. Hell, we would have been glad anyway, we were going up Katahdin, but it was fun. As the trail got steeper after Katahdin Stream Falls, we separated from the group a bit, slowly making our way up and over the boulders, with Snowman having to give me quite a few boosts as we got into exposed terrain and onto the stretch I remembered from our previous journey 9 years ago up this mountain – lots of big rocks with few handholds. As we neared treeline, we were in a cloud. It was cold and windy. No views from the top today. But oh well, we had had grand views of Katahdin on our way through the Wilderness. And who cared, we were going to the top, to the end!

Finally, after climbing and climbing and climbing, we reached the Tablelands. Only 1 mile to go! But it had to be the longest mile yet. I was practically running, wanting to get to the top. We couldn’t see much, we were in the swirling clouds and mist. We could see the other hikers a short ways ahead, and we just kept going, until finally there were shouts of joy and then we could see it. The sign! The top! We had made it.

The next 30 minutes were a mix of tears, smiles, whoops of joy, laughter and a whole lot of photographs.

It had taken us 4 years, but we were there. We did the whole trail, together, all 2174.9 miles, northbound past the white blazes, and this was it. The End. Done. Woohoo!

We took a blue blaze down. After all, we weren’t hiking the AT anymore :-)

P.S. Our friends Mindy and Pete rock! They met us down at Katahdin Stream campsite, fit us, K-Bomb and Mocassin and our stinky packs into their car, dropped K-Bomb and Mocassin off in Millinocket and then drove us the 2 hours back to our car in Monson. They did not complain about our hiker smell. They wanted to talk trail. We laughed and joked and had fun chatting. They were awesome and it was just an awesome thing for them to do. Thanks guys!

P.P.S. Special thanks as well to everyone who made this hike what it was, a great journey! We couldn't have done it without help from our family, old friends, new friends and those who helped us along the way. Thank you!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Snowman Says: On the AT - Unnamed Woods Road to The Birches

September 17, 2008 | Miles: 19.7
Start: Unnamed woods road
End: Sand Beach, Lower Jo-Mary Lake

Fueled by Muleskinner’s coffee…wooooo!...we rocked out 19.7 miles today. Oh yeah! Real hiker miles! Ok, it was pretty flat, but that’s still a solid day. We had heard that once you get out White Cap, it’s clear sailing, and so far that’s true. I wouldn’t call it easy, but it is flat. Still rooty and rocky in spots, but we’re not complaining.

Pond, stream, pond, stream, logging road, stream, pond, logging road, lake…that pretty much sums it up. Weather is great: blue skies and great hiking temps. Good stuff.

We stopped at Antlers Campsite, and it looks like one of the nicer campsites on the entire trail. But, we decided to push on another 2 miles or so based on the information we had from our friend, Clearwater, about an even better spot. I doubted that there would be a better camp spot than Antlers, but pushing those extra miles would put us back on schedule. I was wrong. We found the best campsite ever. Ever. We stopped right on the beach at Lower Jo-Mary Lake, and set up our tent. The beach is maybe 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. And, we have it all to ourselves. Yup, Team Snowplug loves the Hondo!

September 18, 2008 | Miles: 15.9
Start: Sand Beach, Lower Jo-Mary Lake
End: Crescent Pond

The best campsite ever got even better this morning as a pair of loons swam by “our” beach. Oh, and the sunset was killer. The AT…it’s nothing but rainbows and candy. Don’t forget the gumdrop trees!

Speaking of food, we had pizza for lunch today! (My hiker hunger has pretty much set in, and I’m pretty happy to eat anything in sight.) We need to resupply, so we headed into White House Landing. So, yeah, the 100-Mile Wilderness isn’t really “wilderness,” but there really isn’t any wilderness on the entire AT, anyway. To get to White House Landing, you take a side trail .9 miles to the shore of Pemadumcook Lake and blow the air horn. At the sound of the air horn, a boat comes across to pick you up and take you to pizza! White House Landing is in an amazing spot, and the owners, Bill and Linda, are two of the nicest people we’ve met on the entire trail, which is saying a lot. We spent about 3 hours there eating, resupplying for the next stretch and chatting with them. If we weren’t on a schedule, we definitely would have stayed. They have a bunkhouse and cabins, showers…it’s basically a north country oasis. It’s awesome. We’d really like to get back there some day. It might be a bit pricey for some hiker budgets, but I think the hospitality and location are well worth it. Plus, the resupply was waaaayyy better than we had expected. They had everything a hungry hiker needs to get through to Abol Bridge or even Katahdin. For Sobos, there’s plenty to get to Monson. Can you tell I liked this place?

Oh yeah, the hiking…more of the same: flat but not easy. Our planned stop was Wadleigh Stream Lean-to, but we decided to push on a few more miles. The theory being that if we pushed, we could get to Abol Bridge tomorrow and then have a 10-mile day before we summit Katahdin. (Oh yeah!!!) The only problem with that plan was the up and over of Nasty-Butt (Nesuntabunt) Mountain in the late afternoon. D is not a happy camper if we’re hiking after 5:00pm. So, today, she was not a happy camper. But, the views of Katahdin from the top of Nesuntabunt boosted her spirits, and we ended up finding a sweet camp spot just above Crescent Pond. Now, we’re ahead of schedule and 19 miles from Abol Bridge. If the weather stays beautiful (another perfect day today…well, a bit windy and cool) and the terrain mellowish, we should be in good shape.

Where are the thruhikers? We haven’t seen a single northbounder since lunch 2 days ago. Are we actually moving that fast? Cool.

September 19, 2008 | Miles: 19.1
Start: Crescent Pond
End: Abol Pines Campsite

Moose do not exist. I no longer believe in them. We’ve passed 15,000 “moose perfect” ponds, and we’ve started tiptoeing up to them. Still no moose sightings. They don’t exist.

It was 39 degrees inside the tent this morning, and I still got out of the sleeping bag. Have I mentioned that we’ve neither showered or done laundry since we left Monson? The aroma inside the tent is fairly amazing. My socks alone could kill a small herd of livestock. Oh, I think this trip is going to kill my boots. I’m starting to blow out of the left one. I think they hate hiking.

Well, we pushed to Abol Bridge today, and it was a great decision. We caught up to K-Bomb, Mocassion, Enoch and Orangedust, which surprised the bejezzus out of them. They were set up at Abol Pines, which is a sweet spot right on the Penobscot River, when we strolled in. We hung out with them drinking beer and laughing about the trail. Oh yeah, there’s a private campground at Abol Bridge…beer, Doritos and microwaved bacon chesseburgers for me for dinner. I’m going to need detox when this trip over.

The view of Katahdin from Abol Bridge is legendary, and it did not disappoint. We could practically reach out and touch it. It’s only about 15 miles away. We walk into Baxter State Park tomorrow. Holy crap!

September 20, 2008 | Miles: 9.9
Start: Abol Pines Campsite
End: The Birches Campsite, Baxter State Park

The big push yesterday was definitely the right call, as the short day today was perfect. We “slept in”: 7:30. (Another 39 degree morning, though…brrrr.) We had coffee from the Abol Bridge Campground store. We started hiking at 9:15. Ah, the AT.

The trail today was awesome. We were along the Penobscot River for a long stretch, then we followed the Nesowadnehunk Stream, which was beautiful. We took a long lunch break on a big rock in the middle of the stream in the sun. We checked out the falls along the way. We terrified the dayhikers with our stench. It was great. Really, it was a perfect day.

We arrived at Katahdin Stream Campground at around 2:00, signed in for the Birches—the long distance hiker campsite—and relaxed all afternoon and evening. The Birches is a bit strange, as it is fairly far away from the rest of Katahdin Stream Campground. I’ve dubbed it the “Leper Camp.” Luckily, it’s a great crew, and very little can dampen the excitement of climbing Katahdin tomorrow. Yup, tomorrow is the last day of our four-year journey. Hard to believe to say the least.

On the AT - Unnamed Woods Road to The Birches

September 17, 2008 | Miles: 19.7
Start: Unnamed woods road
End: Sand beach, Lower Jo-Mary Lake

Our longest day yet. We were starting to feel like thru-hikers again! Our day was fueled by a serious cup of coffee made by Muleskinner and we were off like rockets at 7:45am. There were a few minor climbs in the morning, but it was mostly nice, easy walking. By noon, we had hiked 10.1 miles on what was the flattest stretch of trail yet, and stopped lunch at Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to. The trail continued along in a similar manner, as we passed a few ponds and followed the contour of Lower Jo-Mary Lake to what was to be our best campsite ever on a sand beach at the edge of the lake. Another Clearwater tip, this was just an awesome spot! We set up our tent in the coarse sand and enjoyed the late afternoon sun on the beach. We even had cell phone reception, and made a few calls. Maybe it goes against the spirit of the 100 mile wilderness, but hey, there is really no wilderness along the AT anymore.

Sunset was beautiful and we were psyched with our spot, and with our trip so far. Beautiful vistas, calm lakes, mossy woods, sunny skies and quiet woods. What could be better?

Flora and fauna notes: 1 frog, blue jays, chickadees and juncos.

September 18, 2008 | Miles: 15.9
Start: Sand beach, Lower Jo-Mary Lake
End: Crescent Pond

A bit of rain fell in the night, but I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and we spent a few quiet minutes watching a pair of loons float by on the lake before packing up to head out. Our packs were relatively light, as we were headed to White House Landing, a camp along a lake out in the middle of nowhere, to resupply for the next few days. To get there, we had to take a side trail 1 mile to a boat dock, where we blew a horn and a boat sped over to pick us up. It was a quick 5 miles to get there, and we arrived around 10:30am. It was another beautiful day, but cool.

We enjoyed chatting with Bill and Linda, the owners of the place. They have a sweet set-up, with grass sloping down to the lake’s edge, several cabins and a bunkhouse, a grill for B,L,D and a small but more than adequate hiker supply closet. They are totally geared to hikers, and were so nice. We wished we had had more time so that we could have spend the night! However, we did spend a restful 3 hours there, sitting and chatting in the sun, resupplying, enjoying a wonderful pizza, snacking on cherry tomatoes from their garden. Finally, at 1pm, Bill took us up the lake and dropped us off so we could begin hiking again.

With a full stomach, I found the next stretch to be a big pain. It was “flat”, along a river, but instead of being a nice path it was all roots and rocks and ridiculous ups and downs. I couldn’t get in a rhythm and was really annoyed. However, after a brief snack, and once we got to the section along Nahmakanta Lake, where we had great views of Katahdin from the rocky ledges, my spirits lifted a bit. We got to Wadleigh Stream Lean-to at 4pm, and decided to push on. I didn’t really want to, but knew that going on a bit would give us the option to get to Abol Bridge tomorrow night, which would then give us an easy 9.9 miles into Baxter the day after that. So up Nesuntabunt Mountain we went and down to Crescent Pond, where we found a nice campsite in the pines off the trail. Another stealth site, and another quiet night on the trail. We hadn’t seen a northbounder all day. Where was everyone?

September 19, 2008 | Miles: 19.1
Start: Crescent Pond
End: Abol Pines campsite

It was 39 degrees in the tent at 6am, which meant it must have been closer to freezing outside. Brrr! I kept my longjohns on under my skirt until a few miles into the hike, as it was just too cold to take them off. The hike took us along Rainbow Stream, another beautiful stretch, and then to Rainbow Lake. The trail was pretty mellow, but still relatively rooty and messy along the deadwaters leading to the lake. After we hit the end of the lake, we ascended Rainbow Ledges, which really reminded me of Acadia. Beautiful rocky ledges with grey lichen and deep red blueberry bush leaves. And another view of Katahdin under crystal clear skies. We reached Hurd Brook Lean-to at 3pm, and knew we would push on through the last 3.5 miles of the Hondo and out to Abol Bridge. 6 days through the Wilderness. That seemed pretty darn good to us! Like real thru-hikers. Except where were they? We were alone in the woods. Strange. We knew the four that we had stayed with back on the first night were likely only a few miles ahead, but we couldn’t seem to catch up… perhaps we would tonight. We were both feeling tired, but good, and we hit the Golden Road at around 4:15. The 100 Mile Wilderness was behind us! And ahead was Abol Bridge, with a gorgeous view of Katahdin. It was close now!

We stopped at the store and then headed over to Abol Pines, a state-owned site, across the road and along the Penobscot. A pretty spot and for only $4 per person per night. Not bad. We set up beneath the pines and went over to say hello to K-Bomb, Mocassin, Enok and Orangedust. I think they were surprised to see us!

The night ended with us resupplying for the next day and a half, eating microwaved sandwiches for dinner – mine made palatable only by the large quantities of BBQ sauce I drenched it in! – and drinking beer and talking until it got dark with our four thru-hikers friends. A good day.

Flora and fauna notes: 1 Brown Snake sunning itself on the Rainbow Ledges, great blue heron seen across from our campsite along the Penobscot, 1 Wood Thrush hopping around at Hurd Brook Shelter.

September 20, 2008 | Miles: 9.9
Start: Abol Pines campsite
End: The Birches campsite, Baxter State Park

We knew we only had a 9.9 mile day, and it was yet again 39 degrees in the tent at 6am, so we stayed in our bags for another hour before leisurely packing up and heading across the street to the store. There we enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee in the sun, watching the world roll by - buses loaded with white river water rafting customers, big pick-up trucks, moose tours. We headed out around 9:15am and stopped to chat with the Baxter State Park ridgerunner near the park boundary. Coincidentally, this was someone else we had met in the past, Bluebearee, a former thru-hiker whose AT journal I had read before our hike. We ran into her on the Wildcats in 2004, and here she was again It is a small hiking world. We stopped at the kiosk to sign ourselves in for a spot at the Birches, a site set aside within the park for long-distance hikers. Then we meandered our way along the trail, enjoying the flat treadway along the deep, swift Penobscot for four miles. From there, we turned, following the Nesowadnehunk River. We stopped for lunch on a flat stretch of rocks along the shore, enjoying the sunshine.

Later, we visited Big and Little Niagara Falls, noting that as we got closer to the park road, we were seeing actual people! Not hikers, but people that smelled good. And let me tell you, we smelled bad. No shower or laundry for 7 days. Ugh! But we smiled and said hello, and continued along our merry way. After the falls, the trail followed the shores of several ponds, Daicey, Eddy, Tracey. No moose, but some pretty woods and nice views of several of the park’s peaks.

We arrived at Katahdin Stream campsite around 2pm, checked in with the ranger and made our way to the Birches. It was a bit set off away from it all. I mean, I know we smell bad, but really! Couldn’t they have carved out a small site at the edge of the main campground? Instead, we had to walk a quarter mile down the road and haul water that far too. Snowman decided he was in training for the strongest man competition as he lugged our water bag down the road!

We passed the afternoon leisurely chatting with the others, and after an early dinner, we all went off into the woods to gather firewood. Mocassin got a roaring fire going, we had some music playing off a tiny MP3 player, life was good. Only 5.2 miles to go! This was it! Amazing. Two other thru-hikers arrived just as it was getting dark, so there would be a merry band of 8 of us tromping up the mountain tomorrow morning. Time to get some shut-eye for an early start!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Snowman Says: On the AT - Monson to Unnamed Woods Road

September 14, 2008 | Miles: 15.1
Start: Monson
End: Long Pond Stream Lean-to

And, we’re off!

Forecast called for rain, and that’s what it did. Light rain and mist all day. Not the best way to start our final stretch of the AT, but fitting, since we began in similar conditions in ’05.

Best part of the day was the shuttle ride from Monson with 2 guys who said, “We’ve never hiked before.” They asked a ton of questions, including: “What’s it like to hike in the rain?” It was hilarious. I hope they’re still alive.

Lots of little ups and downs today, but nothing terrible. The terrain did seem to get more difficult after the first 10 miles, but again, nothing terrible. The major feature of today was the fords. Three total, plus 4 other tricky crossings. The biggest ford was Big Wilson Stream, which was more than knee-deep…and COLD! We also had to ford Long Pond Stream about a mile before the shelter. Well, I thought I could rock hop it, but ended up going in with my boots on. After walking in the rain all day, I didn’t think my boots could get any wetter, but they did. grumble

Five (K-Bomb, Mocassin, Wookie) of us in the shelter tonight, with two (Enoch, Orangedust) more and their dog (Bea) in their tent. Everyone else is thruhiking. Wookie who is on his third attempt. Everyone is soaked and looking forward to the forecast of clearing skies for the rest of the week.

September 15, 2008 | Miles: 13.6
Start: Long Pond Stream Lean-to
End: East Chairback Pond

Ouch. Today was much harder than we thought it was going to be and certainly much harder than we had wanted. The first day out with a full pack was tough, but today we could really feel it. My shoulders are not used to a pack loaded with 4 days of food. Oh, and the terrain was nasty. Lots of steep ups and downs. Wicked rocky. With big pointy teeth! Look at the bones!

Of course, I started off grumpy as we climbed Barren Mountain…in the mist, rain and clouds. It had stopped wetting on us by the time we stopped for a snack, and then the sun even came out. We found a sweet lunch spot by a stream in the sun to dry us and some of our gear out. Nice.

Based on the terrain, we decided to cut today a little short and stopped at East Chariback Pond. Sweet spot. Plus, the next possible camp spot is a couple miles down-, down-, downhill, which would made D really, really grumpy at the end of a day that has already made her grumpy. At least the sun is out. Hopefully, we’ll get back on schedule in the next couple days.

September 16, 2008 | Miles: 16.0
Start: East Chairback Pond
End: Unnamed woods road

Today was a classic day on the AT. Lots of highs and lows.

A bit chilly in the tent this morning, but the sun was shining brightly. What was even chillier was the ford of the West Branch of the Pleasant River. It was only shin deep, but our ankles and feet were aching by the time we hit the other side. We skipped the 5-mile loop out through Gulf Hagas, but we hope to come back eventually.

I haven’t yet mentioned the roots. Well, they’re everywhere and in every direction. I tripped on one today and landed flat on my face. Well, I tripped, stumbled, staggered, and almost took D out…my face actually hit her leg. I’m pretty scraped up and bruised on my knees and one elbow. Add that to the scrapes from the first two days, and my legs look like I was playing soccer with an angry cat. Maybe it makes me look tougher. Hopefully, I’ve gotten my falls out of the way. We’re in the 100-Mile Wilderness with Katahdin in sight…I can’t go down now.

Speaking of Katahdin, we had our first views of the Big K today! Woohoo! We stopped just past the summit of Gulf Hagas Mountain (Tough climb, 43 million rock steps) to try to id a couple birds. All of a sudden I looked up, and said, “Holy crap!” About 5 seconds later D looked up, too. “Holy crap!” There it was off in the distance. Big K here we come. Later in the day after the loooonnnggg climb up White Cap, we had even better views of the mountain. We’re practically there!

Here’s what hiking with D is like: During that long climb up White Cap, actually, along a subsidiary peak, Hay Mountain, I slipped off a small, point rock and whacked my arch right off the point. Not a bone-breaking whack, but a dammnit-that-frickin-hurts-and-now-I’m-going-to-jump-around-and-shake-it-out whack. While I hopping and cursing, D says, “Are you OK? Want to go first? Want some food?” In other words, “I can see you’re not dying, so get you act together and start walking.” She’s trying to kill me.

The plan for today was to go about 2 miles further to East Branch Lean-to, but we called it short at this dirt road for the best reason ever: trail magic! Best of all, it’s trail magic from friends! Muleskinner, Woodrose and their dog, Bella, had set up shop in the middle of the 100-Mile Wilderness to drop some trail magic on the thruhikers! Sweet! It was awesome to see those guys, catch up and have some fruit and soup. Great stuff! Thanks, guys!

Like I said, lots of ups and downs.

On the AT - Monson to Unnamed Woods Road

September 14, 2008 | Miles: 15.1
Start: Monson
End: Long Pond Stream Lean-to

Well, this is it. Our last stretch on the AT. It’s only taken us four years to get to the 100 mile wilderness but if it killed me, we were going to get here at some point. (OK, so not really, but you know what I mean. I want to finish this thing, damn it!) The forecast was calling for anywhere between 60 and 100% chance of rain for today, but what can you do? This was our vacation, so off we went. We parked our car at Shaw’s Lodging and got a shuttle to the trailhead with 2 other hikers. Amazingly, they seem to either never have hiked before, or perhaps backpacked. Either way, as we headed off down the trail, the last question they had for us was “What’s it like to hike in the rain?” Oh boy… Hope they make it through OK!

The rain came about 3 miles into the hike, just as we reached the first shelter along the trail. On went the raincovers and raincoats. It was a soggy hike, not only because of the rain and low clouds, but because we had to ford not one, not two but three streams. And brrr, was that water cold! The first two we stopped to take our shoes off; the third looked like we might be able to get across without getting too wet, but in the end, Snowman slipped off a rock and was in up to his knees so I just ploughed through the water. I was wet anyway, what was a bit more squish in the shoes?!

We ended up going a bit further than our initial “plan” called for. But that is always how it goes. The plan goes out the window one way or the other! We stopped at Long Pond Stream Lean-to, 15.1 miles in, around 5:15pm. It was already getting dark. We set up in the shelter next to three thru-hikers, K-Bomb, Mocassin and Wookie. Two others, Enok and Orangedust, came in a bit later. Orangedust had fallen into the last ford, getting herself and everything in her pack soaked. She was not in the mood to be around others, so set up her tent and called it a night. The rest of us climbed into our bags not long after.

Flora and fauna notes: One barred owl calling at the shelter. Otherwise, the woods were quiet.

September 15, 2008 | Miles: 13.6
Start: Long Pond Stream Lean-to
End: East Chairback Pond

We awoke to clouds and mist. Everyone moaned as they put on their wet boots and headed out into the wet woods. Today’s hike involved the climbs up and over the Barren/Chairback Range, and we knew it was going to be hard. Lots of ledges and wet rocks greeted us. But the skies gradually cleared out and we finally had clearing and a bit of blue skies as we summited Fourth Mountain.(There is a Third and Fourth, but no First and Second. What’s up with that?)

We stopped in a col by a stream to have lunch and dry out a bit in the sun. Then it was up and over the seemingly endless bumps along the ridge. It was slow going and no one was going anywhere fast. We ended up stopping a bit earlier than “planned” at a cool stealth site at East Chairback Pond. Our friend, Clearwater, had made notes of good camping spots all through the Wilderness and this was one of them. We were super glad for his advice, and were glad to stop for the night after a long, tough day.

Flora and fauna notes: Pretty woods with lots of bluebeads and bunchberries. Also saw a really cool Northern Pitcher Plant in the Fourth Mountain bog. Neat!

September 16, 2008 | Miles: 16.0
Start: East Chairback Pond, stealth site
End: Unnamed woods road

The morning dawned clear and crisp. We had a steep descent down to the West Branch of Pleasant River, which was wide and cold, but luckily shallow. Still, I had an ice cream headache by the time I was on the other side! Brrr! This was also a place I have been before, as it is within the Gulf Hagas area, where I went on my pre-orientation trip as a freshman at Bowdoin. However, admittedly, I did not truly recognize the river or the section of trail that we must have done to do the Gulf Hagas loop. Am I that old? Or is it just that we’ve done so many trails that sometimes they all blur together? Ah well. Anyway, for the rest of the morning we followed Gulf Hagas Brook as it slowly climbed through the valley. Very nice walking, mellow and flatish. Of course, this is where Snowman decided to take his game-winning spill, head-first on a flat section of trail, and almost take me out in the process. His face ended up on my ankle and he ended up with some impressive gashes and bruises on elbows and knees.
After this pleasant walk in the woods, we had a stiff climb up Gulf Hagas Mountain, where we glimpsed our first view of Katahdin! An unexpected bonus. We were treated to even better views of the Big K from atop White Cap and a gorgeous vista of the lowlands we would be traversing before arriving in Baxter.

After descending White Cap, we decided to push on past the first shelter in the hopes of reaching the one 3.6 miles down the trail. However, as we were coming down to a woods road, we noticed a bit of commotion and chatter ahead. We rounded the corner, and who was it but Woodrose, Muleskinner and Bella? They had traveled down many miles of back logging roads to reach the spot and provide a bit of trail magic. What a coincidence! How awesome is that? We had last seen them when hiking with them in 2005 in Georgia! We sat and chatted, ate some fruit, and then later joined them and a few other thru-hikers for soup, wine and crackers. Muleskinner serenaded us with a song of Nicaguaran independence before we all headed to bed. What a day!

Flora and fauna notes: 1 toad, 1 frog, 1 garter snake. Lots of calling blue jays, a Pileated Woodpecker calling in Gulf Hagas, juncos and several warblers that I think may have been Yellow Warblers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

5 + 10 = 15

Last night after work I stopped at the Commons to get in a 5 mile run. It was dreary and overcast. It was blustery. I felt a bit out of sorts, probably because it was 5:45pm and I am not an evening runner. The skies darkened as I ran along, but I didn't get rained on. That came later in the night. I did see two deer bounding off into the woods during my run. Other than that, not much else to report.

I awoke this morning to warmer temps. 64 degrees. The storm that rolled through last night seems to have brought in some muggy, warmer air. Not as cool and crisp as it has been the past few mornings, that's for sure! I headed out from the field house around 6:40am. The sky was just beginning to lighten, and the low fluffy clouds had a pretty purpley-pink glow. Perfect soft morning light. I headed down to Maquoit Bay, where mist was rising from the quiet waters and the fields nearby. I turned onto Bunganuc and worked my way out to Casco. Casco seems to go on forever and I had to not let my mind wander too much, or I knew I would slow way down waiting to hit Pleasant Hill. As I turned the corner onto Pleasant Hill, the sun finally broke through the clouds above, bringing blue sky and a bit of squinting from me, as I did not have my sunglasses!

Finished up the loop in 1:25. Although I had to work a bit for it, I felt pretty good and am happy to have one more mid-range run under my belt before heading off into the woods on vacation!

Flora and fauna notes from the run: Lots of crows, sparrows and mourning dove. One mocking bird, one cardinal and one Great Blue Heron seen flying overhead. Also saw what I swear was a cormorant waddling up someone's driveway at the intersection of Casco and Bunganuc. Is that possible? There is an inlet just down the road, and it had the right bill and sineous look to the body. Strange.

(Ronnie the cat has claimed my lap, so I am now typing one handed with the computer off to the side...)

On another note, only one more day of work, and we are off to Monson tomorrow morning to start the 100 Mile Wilderness! Woohoo! Our final stretch on the AT! A big thanks to Mindy and her hubby Pete for agreeing to pick us up in Baxter and take us back to the car in Monson at the end of our journey! You guys are awesome! Thanks also to our great friends Nate and Shannon for taking care of Ronnie while we're away and for acting as backup in the hopefully wildly unlikely event that we don't arrive at Baxter in time to summit on Sunday the 21st.

So, vacation here we come! See you all on the 22nd!

Friday, September 12, 2008

So Much for my Grand Plans

Instead of running 15 miles this morning, I just woke up. Crap.

Oh well. 5 after work this evening, and 10 tomorrow equals 15. Not quite the same, but it'll have to work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mellow 5

Out the door at 6:30am get in a run on the powerlines. Not much of excitement, but it was a nice morning and I felt pretty good. There were tons of birds flitting in and out of the bushes.

Tomorrow morning I'll be at the gallery at 6am hanging our upcoming exhibition, so likely no run for me, unless I get inspired to run in the evening. I'll probably throw my running stuff in the car just in case. You never know...

I am hoping to get in one long run this week before we head off on our grand adventure into the 100 mile wilderness on Sunday. That means Friday is likely the best bet, as Saturday I'm sure I'll be running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything organized, tidied and together before we leave. I'm thinking 15, but that definitely means a pre-dawn start. You'll have to check in on Friday to see if I manage it!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Snowman Says: On the AT - Rangeley to Caribou Valley Road

September 7, 2008 | Miles: 13.5
Start: Rt. 4, Rangeley
End: Old woods roads past Orbeton Stream

Eight years ago we hiked this same stretch of trail. Northbound even. So, we really had no reason to do it again. The remains of Hurricane Hanna were passing through the area, and it rained about 5 inches at our house on Saturday. So, we really had no reason to go outside at all. Of course, this meant that we were out the door at 6:30 to start our drive north.

This hike involved a car spot on Caribou Valley Road, so we actually had to take 2 cars. Caribou Valley Road is an adventure in itself. It's a logging road that has seen the bare minimum of maintenance. And the same can be said for the bridges along it. We were able to drive to the 4.5 mile point on the road. That's .5 before the AT crosses it, but at that point there's a sketchy bridge and nasty washout just beyond. Oh, it took us 20 minutes to drive the 4.5 miles. Danielle was stressed.

Eventually, we made it back out and made our way to the start of the hike at Route 4 in Rangeley. We started hiking at about 10:45, and stopped for lunch about an hour into the hike at Piazza Rock Shelter. After lunch, we made our way past some nice ponds until we started the climb up Saddleback.

Remember Hurricane Hanna? Yup, it was windy. Luckily, it wasn't raining. But, it was windy. Neither of us were knocked over, but it was close on more than one occasion. The trail is above treeline for quite a while, and we were buffeted the entire way. Probably more than an hour. It was fun, but it was also tiring. It was never dangerous, but it was tough. Our spirits were boosted along the way as we met our friend Ghost who was hiking southbound. We chatted for as long as we could, but D and I were getting cold. All in all, it was a cool way to experience the ridge.

Saddleback, the Horn and Saddleback Junior. We remember the views being great, but there were none today. The only thing we did see were the most delicious blueberries ever, just off the summit of Saddleback Junior. Eventually, we stayed below treeline for good, and reached Poplar Ridge Shelter. It was about 4:30, and we'd gone 10.7 miles. But, the shelter is at around 3,000 feet, and it was still in a bit of a cloud. We ate a quick snack, reloaded our water and moved on. There were 4 thru-hikers at the shelter, and I think they thought we were a little nuts. That's not a good sign. But, we knew that ahead of us was a big descent, which meant warmer temps and less wind. Plus, when we met Ghost, he clued us in on a great campsite.

Down, down, down we went. It was 2.8 miles and mostly downhill until we hit Orbeton Stream, which of course we had to ford. It was really cold. But at this point we were just .1 from our destination so we kept our Crocs on despite the steep slope until we hit an old woods road. We took a right off the trail, crossed a stream and there was the campsite Ghost told us about. Sweet spot, and we were in for the night. Not a day with a traditional definition of fun, but with the wind, the foggy conditions and the late push to a sweet campsite, it was a lot of fun.

September 8, 2008 | Miles: 10.5
Start: Old woods roads past Orbeton Stream
End: Caribou Valley Road

On the trail by 7:45, headed towards the worst climb in the history of climbs. Or at least that's how I remembered it from our previous trip through this section. As a whole, we thought this section was next to impossible. It turned out to not be that bad at all. We walked along Sluice Brook for awhile, which was beautiful and then eventually crossed Perham Stream, also very nice. Then we began the climb up Lone Mountain. Then the climb up Lone Mountain was over. It wasn't that bad at all. Especially, since it nearly killed me 8 years ago.

That being said, it was a cool morning, and I was working on the climb. I was sweating, but I was chilly. So, I felt a bit out of sorts. I put on another layer and my hat and gloves. We stopped for a snack and tried to pull in whatever sun we could. Not long after, we reached Spaulding Mountain Shelter and then the climb up Spaulding Mountain. For some reason, D decided she wanted to run up Spaulding Mountain. I was practically all out, and I couldn't keep up. Normally, I struggle to keep up with her on the climbs, but on this one she was in another gear. She claimed, "I just wanted to get it over with." Not sure if she was referring to the climb or our marriage. I had a snack at the top, and we were off again. More food at lunch, and I was feeling good again.

At the end of the day, we had what I think is the hardest descent on the whole norhtbound AT—the descent off Sugarloaf. It's wicked steep. It's long. It's rocky. It hates everyone. It especially hates your knees. We were very happy to reach the bottom, and we were especially glad to see the moderately sketchy plank over the South Branch of the Carrabassett River at the bottom. No ford for us. All that was left was a .5 mile walk on Caribou Valley Road back to the car.

We didn't have to do this piece again, but I'm glad we did. We had two great days in the woods.

On the AT - Rangeley to Caribou Valley Road

September 7, 2008 | Miles: 13.5
Start: Rangeley
End: Old woods road past Orbeton Stream

Photos of the hike

Although we ended up having 6 "yeahs" to my "does it count?" question (2 via the blog; 1 via email; and 3 by phone), of course, what did we do this weekend? Go out and hike the section again. Yes, I am clearly insane. But I think Jamie said it best when he said it counted unless you had set a goal to hike the whole thing in a certain amount of time. To me, when we stopped hiking in 2005, I wanted to finish the rest of the trail we had remaining, all northbound, until we were done. To me, it would only count if we did it after 2005. So, case closed, we were hiking this weekend, unless weather made things dangerous.

I was up at 5:30am, checking the weather channel and online. It had rained a lot here on the coast (5 inches in Portland), but I couldn't find anything indicating that there was severe flooding in the Rangeley area, or that the forecast was calling for lots of additional rain up north. So, we headed out around 7am, a bit later than planned due to all the hemming and hawing and confirming that we weren't headed out into disaster.

But before we could start hiking, we had to park a car at our end point on Caribou Valley Road. Although we had run the road last weekend, it was much worse to drive it! Lots of bumps, sketchy bridges, potholes, puddles, big pointy rocks, oh my! Those 4.5 miles (and back) took a while. We finally started hiking at 10:45am. It was overcast, cool and breezy, but didn't seem too bad.

Our big climb for the day was Saddleback. When we hiked this section in 2000, we had beautiful views along the summit and the whole ridgeline. Not so much this time. As we neared treeline, we stopped to put on our raincoats, hat and gloves. The wind was whipping like crazy. It actually was sort of fun, in a crazy sort of way, to be making our way up and along the rocky summit being buffeted around by the wind. To make this section even better, we ran into Ghost, an old hiking friend from 2005. We knew he was out hiking with a friend, but had assumed they'd be hiking north and didn't expect to run into him at all. As we were hiking up, we noticed two people hiking south towards us. Snowman said, "Well, there are at least 2 other crazy hikers out here today." And it was Ghost! We had a nice 10 minute conversation, standing on the side of Saddleback in the wind and clouds, before continuing on.

The wind didn't relent and the terrain stayed above treeline for a few miles as we went over Saddleback and the Horn. Being constantly hit by the wind was tiring us out, but we knew most of our above-treeline terrain was done for the day after the Horn. We dropped back down into the woods for a bit, but were up in the wind once again over Saddleback Junior. However, on the descent off Junior ("Junior!" "I told you, don't call me Junior!"), we encountered a wonderful field of blueberries right off the trail. Despite the wind and clouds and cold temps, we couldn't resist stopping for a few minutes to pick and enjoy the gorgeous plump and very sweet blueberries. Yum!

We reached Poplar Ridge lean-to at 4:50, but ended up deciding to push past to get in a few more miles. Ghost had told us about a sweet campsite just past Orbeton Stream down in the valley. As we were cresting Poplar Ridge, we realized the clouds were lifting and we had a view down into the valley as the late afternoon light hit the trees. Very nice. The descent to the stream was steep and we ended the day with a swift, deep and cold ford of Orbeton Stream, followed by a quick nasty 100 foot climb up to the old railroad game where we found a great campsite, just as Ghost had promised.

Although we didn't arrive until 6:15, we had camp set up, water filtered, dinner made and eaten, food hung and chores done by 8:00pm. Then it was into the tent to snuggle in our warm sleeping bags and get a good night's sleep!

September 8, 2008 | Miles: 10.5 (plus 0.5 non-AT miles)
Start: Old woods road past Orbeton Stream
End: Caribou Valley Road

It was a cold morning, but the mellow climb up along Sluice Brook and to Perham Stream warmed us up. It was still windy, but there was a fair amount of blue sky above. It promised to be a good day. Our big climb of the morning was Lone Mountain, which Snowman remembered from last time as a climb that almost killed him. I think that this was a theme from our trip in 2000! :-) But seriously, that was 8 years ago and we have vastly improved upon not only our experience since then but also totally revamped our gear. It makes a huge difference. Anyway, up Lone we went. It didn't kill us. We continued on, down to Spaulding Mountain Lean-to and up Spaulding Mountain. Not much for views along this stretch, but the woods were nice. Deep and green, with hints of red from the bunchberries lining the trail. We stopped for lunch along the trail, and sat in the sun for a bit.

We ran into a few hikers as we hiked along, and chatted for a bit before continuing along. We came to the final 2 mile descent down to the river and the road. I remembered this descent from the last time around, remembering the rain and how steep and scary and horrible it was. Well, this time around we had some nice views down into the valley, but it was steep. It was basically a rock jumble at a 45 degree angle, which required some deft maneuvering at times and made for some slow going. Still, I moved along as best I could, and we eventually reached the river. Someone had nicely laid a plank across two rocks, which spanned one of the raging rapids below. It was a bit sketchy, but we made it across without having to ford, or falling in! Then a quick climb to the road and we were done by 2pm. Hurray!

Flora and fauna notes: Didn't see much at all in terms of fauna on Sunday. Only one bird flitting about in the wind atop Saddleback. Diapensia, sheep laurel and blueberries along the Saddleback ridgeline. Monday brought out a few more birds, with 2 Gray jays seen in the trees near Spaulding as well as several chickadees and juncos. Lots of red bunchberries, mushrooms and a few Indian pipe. Some of the hobblebush leaves are turning red and purple, and the birch and maple leaves are beginning to turn yellow and orange down low. As we drove along Caribou Valley Road we noticed lots of black (or brown) butterflies with yellow edging all along the wings. Very pretty. Don't know what kind they were.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

8 in the Commons

This morning, when Snowman headed off to meet up with the Trail Monster Runners, I made my solitary way to the Commons for my run. I was bummed to not be able to meet up with everyone for a run at Pinelands. Sounds like I missed a big crash by Snowman too! But unfortunately, I had to get to work and therefore driving 30 minutes to run for over an hour starting at 7am just wasn't in the cards. Ah well, maybe next time.

My schedule was calling for 5 miles, but I had already decided the night before that I would try to run 8 instead. That would put the week at 30 miles, which seemed solid. Plus, this coming week is likely to be a bit lower mileage-wise, so getting in a good week this week before we headed on vacation and didn't run for 10 days (although we'll be working hard hiking!), seemed like a good idea. But I wanted to run the 8 on trails, not on the roads. So, I figured I would go to the field house, run a field loop, head into the Commons, do a fair amount of circling around on the various small loops and out-and-back trails, then do another field loop and it would be good. That's pretty much what happened.

It was a foggy morning and heavy. Not much to say about the run. Pretty uneventful, but a good end to the week.

Does It Count?

This has to be a short post, as I'm at work... but here's the question.

Snowman and I have plans to hike the 24 miles from Rangeley to Caribou Valley Road this weekend. This is a section we've done before, headed north, from Rangeley to Caribou Valley Road. It must have have been 8 or 9 years ago. I'll have to look the date up to be sure. We had planned to do the whole stretch over the Crockers that trip too, but had to bail out at CVR, due to the fact that we were in way over our heads, it was pouring like crazy and we were exhausted.

Given that Tropical Storm Hanna is headed north, and weather might be sucky, we are still up in the air about going. If we don't go as a backpack, we could go as a really long dayhike on Monday. But if we don't get out this weekend at all, what does it mean to our AT hike?

Next weekend we start in on our 100 mile wilderness/Katahdin section, which is the last stretch. When we reach Katahdin, if we haven't done the above 24 miles this year but have done it in the past before our AT hike was even a glimmer in our eyes, have we hiked the whole trail?

I guess I feel that since we haven't done it in conjunction with this AT hike, we wouldn't really be done. But perhaps I am being a bit obsessive? So tell me, you other crazy, obsessive, number crunching runners and hikers, what do you think? Does it count?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

12 As The Sun Rises

I love fall, but the downside is that we are losing daylight fast, on both ends of the day. This morning when I left to drive to the field house at 5:45am, it was still dark out. When I started my run at a few minutes before 6am, the sun was just beginning to rise and the sky was lightening. A month ago, I could start a run at 5:45 and it was light. It's going to be a bit tough to get in my early morning long runs in the next month as it gets light later and later. Luckily, I only have a few more mid-week long runs planned, as after we're back from vacation later this month, we'll be sticking to running on the weekends, and can get in our long runs then.

Anyway, I headed out this morning to do the Highland Road loop. The fields along Pleasant Hill were dew-covered and quiet. Only the crows were out, squacking away at each other. I hit the four mile mark in 33:00. I was feeling good, but figured I'd probably slow down, as I knew I had a few good hills coming up. Still, I soldiered on up the hills and hit Highland pretty quickly. As I meandered through the fields, I noticed a distinct lack of birds. With the fields hayed, the Bobolinks had disappeared. I saw what I think were four Eastern Meadowlarks flying and calling overhead, plus several sparrows. But no swallows or Red-winged Blackbirds. Only the cows kept me company as I ran past.

I had to take a bathroom break around mile 7. I tried the whole mind over matter (ha!) thing, but it was of no use. I had to stop. Ugh. But what can you do? I had packed some TP in my fuel belt so I was all set, but I did wish that a bathroom would miraculously appear! :-) After that brief stop, I continued on, and noted that I passed 8 miles at 1:06, give or take. Perhaps I would keep up the 8:15 pace. I headed down to Maquiot Bay, taking in the view out towards the ocean, and then climbed up the last incline before the flat stretch back into town. As I neared the high school, things got busy. There were cars everywhere. So much for a quiet loop...

I did a slight variation at the end of the run to get the mileage to 12. Slightly crazy, yes, but when I say I want to run 12, I don't want to end with 11.75. MapMyRun has been quite useful for figuring out runs around town, and I played with the Highland run last night to eke out those final 0.25 miles. I finished in 1:39:40. Snowman showed me how to calculate my pace exactly, but it involved all sorts of multiplication and division by 60 and I can't seem to get it right, but by my inexpert calculations, I think that puts me at 8:20 pace. Not bad.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mellow 5

Another mellow 5 mile run this morning, this time out and back on the Highland Green Road. Not much to mention, except that I felt pretty good and it is another glorious day here in Maine. Gotta love it!

The schedule calls for 12 miles tomorrow. I'll probably attempt Highland Road to get some hills in.

Other than getting in our running, Snowman and I are trying to figure out the logistics for our upcoming 100 Mile Wilderness and Katahdin vacation. We're planning to drive up and leave our car in Monson at the beginning of the Wilderness, but then the trick is how do we get out of Baxter and back to our car in Monson? Anyone up for picking us up and/or hiking up Katahdin with us as we finish the AT?! :-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Raspberries and Apples

I got out for the 5.25 mile out-and-back on the powerlines this morning. The legs were a bit stiff, but definitely felt more lively than they had on Sunday! The miles flowed pretty easily and it was nice to be out. A pretty morning.

After a quick shower and few errands around town, I stopped by the Brunswick Farmer's Market to pick up a few ingredients for a quinoa stew I am planning to make later this week. However, I just could not resist picking up a pint of beautiful looking red raspberries, or a bag of early season, tart Macintosh apples. The best of both worlds - a bit of summer sweetness and a hint of cool, crisp fall. Life is good.