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Thread: White Mountains Hut Traverse, 7/1/2012

  1. #1
    Senior Member LRiz's Avatar
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    Oct 2008

    White Mountains Hut Traverse, 7/1/2012

    I must admit that I have a love-hate relationship with the White Mountains Hut Traverse. The route - which winds 49.4 miles from Carter Notch to Lonesome Lake across some of the most difficult terrain in the Whites - is gnarly, relentless, and a true test of character. After a very low-mileage week of training due to illness, I found myself itching to get in a final long run prior to beginning my taper for the Vermont 100 miler. Imagine my excitement when - after watching the weather forecast like a hawk - a weather window opened up that would make it possible for me to attempt the traverse! Rob kindly volunteered to join me, and I was psyched to finally have the opportunity to test out my new Garmin GPS watch in the mountains.

    We began our hike/run at 1:15am on Sunday after a (sleepless though very recharging) 3-hour cat nap at Carter Notch Hut. The footing on the 19 Mile Brook trail seems to have deteriorated considerably since Hurricane Irene, which - coupled with a low-battery headlamp - made the run out difficult to route 16 difficult to negotiate in the dark. Fortunately, Rob and I both had spare batteries stashed in my truck at the trailhead, and after a quick break we were on our way up Madison. The Great Gulf trail is wonderfully "runnable," and I found myself spurred on by the brilliantly bright moon above us. We reached the Osgood trail junction decent time, and at that point I couldn't wait to get above treeline... as soon as we did, the sun peeked up above the horizon to welcome us.

    Osgood ridge at sunrise

    Windy conditions heading to Madison Hut

    Upon reaching Madison Hut, we took a nice 20 minute break to refuel/rehydrate in anticipation of our trek across the Presis. Given the cool temperatures, I figured that it would not be necessary for us to stop at either Lakes of the Clouds or Mizpah Huts. Thus, we made sure to supply sufficiently for the 14 mile journey down to the Highland Center.

    It really was a stunning morning to be above treeline, and we made sure to stop and take a few photo breaks...

    Alpenglow on Adams

    Beautiful morning light on the Gulfside

    The run around Adams seemed to go by like a flash. I was amazed at how my speed/confidence had improved on the rocky Presidential terrain, thanks for the most part due to the running poles that I now sport religiously. However, as we made our way towards Jefferson we quickly found ourselves enveloped in clouds. Fortunately, conditions remained dry and our pace/morale were not impacted.

    Running down the Gulfside towards Clay

    As we made our way towards the Westside, I couldn't wait to set foot upon my adopted trail. The Southern Presidentials are a joy to run, and I knew that from this point onward we'd have a smooth trip down to the Highland Center. We reached Lakes of the Clouds Hut in good time...

    ...and then flew across the remainder of the ridge. 8 hours and 5 minutes into our run, and we were at the Highland Center - the midpoint of our Traverse! My feet had gotten quite damp at that point, and I was happy to have a change of socks in my drop bag. Rob and I took ample time to resupply, and I wolfed down my first solid food of the day (two bananas) in anticipation of the tough 24.6 miles ahead of us. On our way down the Crawford Path I could feel the heat and humidity of the day making a brutal debut. I knew we'd really have to pay close attention to our fueling going forward, as we'd been blessed with unusually cool conditions for the first half of the traverse.

    As predicted, the climb up A-Z was ferociously hot. It was a huge relief to reach the Tom Spur junction, though at that point I was somewhat dreading the initial gnarly descent down to Zealand Hut. As anticipated, the top section - with its mossy, slick rocks - was tedious at best, though once we'd lost a few hundred feet of elevation the footing improved considerably. Moreover, once we reached the ponds the views were just lovely.

    ...five huts down, and three to go! Rob and I made sure to top off our water supplies at Zealand in anticipation of the 7.2 miles across the Twinway to Galehead Hut. Once again, the climb up to Zeacliff was brutal. I was sweating at a far higher rate than normal and became concerned about my electrolyte balance. Taking a couple of salt tabs seemed to help, but my head still remained in a bit of a cloudy state for much of the journey across the Twinway.

    Looking towards the Bonds

    Fortunately, by the time that we reached the Zealand Spur I had regained my stride. Nevertheless, even though recovered, the rocky nature of the Twinway as it descends and then ascends up to Guyot made for slow going... all worth it, though, as soon as we broke above treeline and were greeted with absolutely stunning views.

    Upon reaching the Bondcliff trail junction, I found myself suddenly rejuvenated. The stretch of the Twinway heading up to South Twin is one of my favorite sections of trail to run in the Whites, and the fact that we had "less mileage and elevation than a Pemi" (as I joked with Rob) to complete at that point seemed unusually rewarding. South Twin was upon us in no time, though I made sure to be very careful on the steep trail down to Galehead Hut. In preparation for the slog over Garfield Ridge, I made sure to consume some additional solid food to ensure that my energy levels would remain steady. However, my efforts were seemingly all in vain, for as soon as we set foot back on the trail I almost instantly hit another low.

    …Garfield seemed so very far away, and I felt as if my pace had slowed to a crawl. I tried to keep up with my fueling/hydration, but the humidity had crushed my appetite. All I wanted was to reach the steep waterfall heading up to the peak so that I could dunk my head in the cool water. I felt extremely lucky to have such a patient companion in Rob, as I struggled to regain my energy. Though even upon reaching the summit, my funk lingered. Muscling down a large mouthful of gel, I reminded myself of just how far we’d come thus far. Only two more significant climbs to go.

    Heading up Lafayette, the skies suddenly – albeit briefly – broke loose upon us. The resulting rain cut through the humidity like a knife. Initially I became stressed about how the trails would slicken, but as the cool rain drenched me I found myself unexpectedly regaining composure. Focused, steady, consistent.

    Almost at Lafayette

    Upon reaching Lafayette, I told Rob that I wanted to make a single, final push to Lonesome Lake Hut – no stopping at Greenleaf. As predicted, conditions were a little slippery coming down from the summit (and I annoyingly broke one of my running poles in the process), but in no time at all were jogging our way below I-93 en route to the Lonesome Lake trail. 1.6 miles to go! Feeling strong, I made an effort to climb consistently up to the lake. Crossing over the final footbridge, I checked my GPS watch and was amazed to see that we were going to finish right around 17 hours… an hour faster than I’d anticipated! I let out a celebratory shout and sprinted up to the hut.

    17 hours, 3 minutes, 13 seconds

    It had truly been a spectacular - yet challenging - day. A huge thank you to Rob and the fantastic 2012 hut croos for enabling me to achieve my goal of completing the route in under 18 hours. The Hut Traverse is certainly not a trip to ever be underestimated!

    GPS track, for those who are interested

    Some Fun Facts...

    Calories burned - 7,325
    Total fuel consumed - 28 gels (19 Honey Stingers, 9 Vega Sport Gels), 6 packs of StrongerFasterHealthier Endurance Whey, 2 bananas, 3 Vega Sport Endurance Bars, 4,137 calories
    Average HR - 130
    Max HR - 161
    Running poles broken - 1
    Running poles stolen by some nefarious individual at Lafayette Place - 2
    Last edited by LRiz; 07-03-2012 at 06:25 AM.
    Blog | Responsible Energy Action | Trail adopter for the WESTSIDE

  2. #2
    Member Jeff List's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Cape Cod
    New woman's Fastest Known Time!!!

    Previous FKT was 18:15 by Stinkyfeet.
    See this page:

    Note that LRiz ran what the FKT website refers to as the "Standard" Hut Traverse, i.e., visiting the 8 standard huts and NOT visiting Pinkham notch. As far as I'm aware, Alex MacPhail is the only one who has included Pinkham Notch in a Hut Traverse, at least for many years.

  3. #3
    Member slevasse's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Laconia, NH Avatar: P'way climbing
    That's really quite amazing! Thanks for sharing and inspiring the rest of us to challenge ourselves even more.

  4. #4
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Waltham, MA
    Wow, Laris'!

    This is your year....I bet you have had a few moments when you have realized that! You will always remember these days!

    Keep on making memories!
    ADK 46'r NE115'r NEHH NH 48 x 6 NH48W NH 331/576
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    Sep 2003


    When I saw the subject line, I knew you had the new record. Huge congratulations again, LRiz!! Nice to see the women's times down where they should be. Sub 17-hour VT100??

    Rest up now,

    PS: You need to do Hardrock now!!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Aurora Boulderalis
    Fast times and great pictures -I like your style, kid.

    A huge congrats - what a spectacular day you had for this!
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

  7. #7
    Senior Member The Unstrung Harp's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    a wee crossroads in central Maine, USA
    Amazing! Seriously frickin nuts!!! (PS, I wanna do this.)
    0/1 NH48-THRU

    Trek For Peace

  8. #8
    Member bristlecone's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Congratulations - and you even took the time to snap some beautiful pictures!

    I'm curious about how you use the trekking pole while running (it looks like just one?) - I've often thought about using one, but then thought that introducing an extra loose object into an already busy situation would have unpredictable results. But, it's working well for you - did that take a lot of practice?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sasquatch's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Congratulations Larisa, you deserve this.
    Focused, steady and consistent... You were the embodiment of that mantra. Never pushing, yet still on the attack. Climbing like I have never seen you before on the steeps. Running out every moderate uphill.
    My favorite part of the day was when we hit the pemi, your pemi, and you kicked it into high gear and smoked the section to South Twin.
    I always knew that you had the inner strength, and now you have the physical strength to do great things.
    "Going to the mountains is going home" Muir

  10. #10
    Member Forester Jake's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Lriz, truely amazing and motivational! And a huge CONGRATULATIONS!!!
    I'll be cheering you on over here in Vermont for a smashing success in the Vt 100
    Osseo Trail Co-Adopter
    Flickr photostream: forester.jake

    "Bushwackers never get lost... they just sometimes find themselves in unexpected places"

  11. #11
    Member Forester Jake's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Oh, and super cool photography!!
    Osseo Trail Co-Adopter
    Flickr photostream: forester.jake

    "Bushwackers never get lost... they just sometimes find themselves in unexpected places"

  12. #12
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    NH Seacoast

    The early morning pictures are gorgeous. Love the glow on Adams.

    Quote Originally Posted by LRiz View Post
    Running poles stolen by some nefarious individual at Lafayette Place - 2
    Seriously?? That's absolutely terrible.
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

  13. #13
    Senior Member Fisher Cat's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    Absitivelyunfreakinbelieveable! Way to go Sonic Boom! Take it easy on us unsuspecting trailworkers lurking on blind corners.
    Last edited by Fisher Cat; 07-04-2012 at 10:59 PM.
    " by reason of much foule weather and Extreme Bad Woods to travel in.."- From the letter of my great uncle Samuel Willard (accompanied by my grandfather Henry) to Governor Dummer on August 16, 1725, explaining the reason for his return, being instructed to "range all the country", of the Wawobadenik (White Mountains) July 19-August 16, 1725. I am a 13th generation New Englander and proud of it.

    Gen. John Stark July 1809

  14. #14
    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher Cat View Post
    Absitivelyunfreakinbelieveable! [...]
    +1... what an awesome achievement.
    Redline Guiding | NH Tramper
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  15. #15
    Senior Member surf88's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Goffstown NH Avatar: Mt Cabot
    Wow! and thanks for sharing your tracks.
    Save NH Moose!

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