NH 48 - Women's Fastest Known Time


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Sep 16, 2014
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An Idea is Born

My dad has been known to have a crazy idea or two. So far, these ideas have brought me to train with him for the Vermont 50, the Tahoe Rim Trail 100, and then the Vermont 50 again. Winter came around and, as we were doing some Christmas shopping in EMS one day, my dad picks up a map of the 4000 footers. His next question as we wait in line to check out is: “I wonder how fast this can be done”. Any normal person would look up the record and move on with their lives. Not dad. It was there that his immaculate planning began…

Training this summer was a gift. The Whites are a place where you feel all-powerful and overpowered at the same time. My dad and I had the incredible experience of feeling the extremes of this dichotomy while testing our own limits (or at least mine) over the course of 4 days, 19 hours, 40 minutes completing New Hampshire’s 48 4000 footers. We lost our coordination and sometimes the better part of our consciousness. We laughed a lot; I cried a little (sorry dad). It was a failure and a success.

My mom and dad were amazing. My mother single-handedly served as our support team, catering to our every need and comforting me while I groaned in pain during the short naps. My father supported me through the whole challenge. I was very disappointed to realize that we weren’t moving fast enough to make the men’s record and felt guilty that I had possibly held my dad from getting a record for himself. He never complained of an ounce of pain (which made me question his humanity), helped me with navigation, and made the hike enjoyable. Not many people are lucky enough to spend that kind of quality time with their parents. I like that it wasn’t just me that went through the ups and downs over the course of those five days: it was all three of us…and it was insane.

In hindsight, we would have done a lot differently had we known I was going to be hard pressed to improve on the women's fastest known time (like not finishing on Owl’s Head or sleeping more earlier), but that was half of the experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I had club legs and a shuffled limp of a walk in the airport the next day, and my feet (with a few half-dollar size blisters) and ankles were pouring out over the top of my sister’s shoes because I didn’t fit into any of my own. As painful as movement was for a few days, it served as a nice reminder of our amazing adventure.
The Challenge:

Cabot and Waumbek​

We started at 11:35 AM on September 8th with Cabot and Waumbek. Easy mountains, but hikes where you only get one peak for a climb from the base (you really learn to appreciate ridges in a challenge like this). We made it over to Wildcat ski area and just up Wildcat Mtn. before dark. We then descended into Carter Notch, loaded up on water at Carter hut, and went on to Carter Dome, South Carter, Middle Carter, and Moriah. From there, it was down to Gorham, where mom was waiting with the RV to bring us over to the Pine Link trailhead to begin the Presidentials.

The Presidentials​

Up Pine Link, to Madison and Adams. The sun came up going down Adams, and we were treated to one of the most beautiful views we had on the hike.


We continued to Jefferson, Washington, Isolation (which felt much longer than my training run. I had a low here.), Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce, and Jackson, down to Crawford Notch. Mom was there with the RV.

Tom, Field and Willey​

After a quick resupply, we headed for Tom, Field and Willey at the start of the second night. After Willey, we descended to Willey House Station Road and arrived there at 9:39 p.m.


From Willey House Station Road, we thought we would drive to Carrigain and get one more mountain before resting for the first time. Turns out, that wasn’t such a good idea. My dad started talking about how tired he was about two miles into the flat part of the 10 mile out-and-back hike. I told him that we were already too far into it to waste the time and mileage to go back, and it is too cold to stop and sleep on the side of the trail, so we keep charging on. The climb up Carrigain turned into what felt like the never-ending staircase in Super Mario on Nintendo 64; only, the rocks make it much more difficult than a staircase. When we finally made it up to the false summit, and then up to the top, it had taken 2 hrs 33 minutes, compared to the hour and 45 minutes it had taken me during a training hike (fresh of course). On the way down, we both mentioned how tired we were multiple times and, based on how slowly we were moving through the whole hike, it was apparent that we were sleep-walking more than anything. When we were headed out of the woods, toward the end of the trail, I was sure that I had passed the same exact section of trail at least 5 times. It wasn’t until later that we exchanged sleep deprivation stories about ‘the rocks’, which had taken forms of animals, food items, and even came to represent the barriers in my life. (You can imagine my frustration with how many rocks there were. By the time we made it back down, I was really thinking that it was time for me to simplify my life and for the trails to simplify their terrain.) Then, by the grace of the camper and my mother, we slept for two hours.

The Pemi Wilderness​

Out of planned order, we did the pemi wilderness next. This was my dad’s ingenious idea to avoid being on Franconia Ridge in the bad weather the next day. Our training run doing the Pemi Wilderness, we had met lightning on Liberty and Flume and were hoping to avoid that experience again at all costs. We drove north during the two hour nap, and packed for a long leg… packed a little bit too much and wound up stashing clothes and food in the woods going up Hale.

Hale to Zealand hut for water; then on to Zealand and the Bonds. Here, we got a break from our packs and carried our stashed water bottles and some food while we bagged West Bond, Bond, and Bondcliff. Next was South Twin, where we left our packs again, running a little low on water in the heat of the day, and hit North Twin before the descent to Galehead hut and did the mile hike to Galehead. We took a longer break here and talked with some through-hikers. I was envious of their style, wondering, for a moment, why we chose to do the 48 as fast as we could when we could have taken our time and soaked in the beauty of the mountains. We chose a different approach to be sure, but it was rewarding nonetheless. You come to appreciate the fact that your legs still move, and that you have the ability to endure and then block out the pain that you self-inflict—somewhat masochistic, but more rewarding than I could have imagined.
In the first part of the Pemi Wildnerness, we decided we were going to do Owl’s Head last, instead of taking the trail from Galehead and then back up to Garfield along the Pemi loop. At this point, we were still going for the men’s record, which finishes on the last peak (in the end, we raced down from Owl’s Head in order to get the women’s record which finishes at the car).

So instead of dropping off the ridge from Galehead to go to Owl’s Head, we continued on to Garfield and Lafayette. I started getting tired on the climb up Lafayette. I had a difficult time fueling after Galehead, and this along with the exhaustion slowed me down especially when we got off of the ridge past Lincoln. I slept on a log bridge (or ‘puncheon’ as they are officially called) for five minutes and then we continued over Liberty and Flume, and made the slow and grueling descent down Flume Slide.
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Thankful to make it to the car, we drove over to Moosilauke (taking a ‘micro-nap’ along the way). It was a quick up and down, though the top was windy, cold, and wet. We scrambled to the peak and got back under tree-line as fast as possible.

Cannon and the Kinsmans​

Going up Cannon that morning, I finally came to terms with the fact that we weren’t going to make the men’s record. I felt a mixture of guilt and disappointment. I wanted so badly for my dad to have that record…and now with the time wasted at transitions and the parts of the hike where I was just 100% out of gas, we weren’t going to make it. My dad was optimistic—excited to finish the challenge and for me to get the women’s record. “What a good man”, was all I could think. I am lucky to have been raised by such amazing and selfless people. Unfortunately, I still went through a hard low during this section of the hike. We were not quite prepared for the cold wind and pounding rain that we encountered. My joints had taken a beating at this point, and downs were hard and felt almost impossible with the added difficulty of wet rocks. It felt like a century getting down to Lonesome Lake. Meanwhile, my dad seems totally fine despite the fact that he stabbed his hand on a stick. We tied one of my dirty bandanas around his hand to stop the bleeding, and continued down. Finally down to the RV, we slept for three hours.


Next was Tecumseh. Nice and quick. Then we took another three hour nap. (We may have gone a little overboard here, but you hit a point where you are so tired you don’t care).

Osceolas, Hancocks, Passaconaway and the Tripyramids​

After the nap, we did the Osceolas with a beautiful descent into a gorgeous, cool, crisp, fall day—a relief after the events of the previous day.

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From the Osceolas, I took a micro-nap before the Hancocks. Going up North Hancock was great, but the down was hard. My right knee was really bothering me, and I couldn’t run on the flat part of trail, which drove me a bit crazy. It took a long time to get back to the rv, but luckily mom greeted us with Thai food (I had been dreaming about it for days at this point). We rested before Passaconaway and the Tripyramids. This section went quickly, until the descent off of the Tripyramids. Downward motion was becoming more and more difficult. Dad and I were both irritable at the end of that one (sorry mom). At this point, we were running out of time to get the women’s record with all of our naps and slowing times, so it was straight over to Lincoln Woods.

Owl’s Head

After a quick 20 minute nap, and then started the 18 mile out-and-back hike to hit Owl’s Head. We ran the first four miles, and then hiked up to the summit of Owl’s head. Anyone who has hiked this mountain, even without having hiked somewhere around 180 miles before it, you may understand why I cried going up (and maybe again going down…but honestly, it’s all a blur). Poor dad, always staying strong while his little girl (who is not so little anymore) cries like she is 10 years old again. I was so tired on the descent that I picked a nice tree on the ground in the middle of the trail and laid down to sleep. Two minutes later, I was up again, continuing the descent, faster now. When I asked my dad how long I had slept, he told me “an hour”. I knew this wasn’t true, but it had been an ongoing joke that I wouldn’t know the difference between two minutes or two hours of napping, and so he was better off telling me I slept for longer.

Procrastinator that I am, I knew it was go time when we got down off Owl’s Head. We took off, moving pretty quickly over the rocks and stream crossings. When we hit smooth trail, we were running full speed. That may have only been 9-10 minute miles at that point, but it felt wrong and miraculous to be able to do that after what we had just endured.

We passed Osseo trailhead going back to Lincoln Woods with the thought: thank goodness, we are only a mile and a half out. We start seeing people going out for their morning runs. I carried my jacket like a football and my dad was running behind me, trying to hide the fact that he had a bloody nose. What a sight we must have been. We arrive at Lincoln Woods Visitor Center at 7:15 a.m. It’s Saturday, September 13th (I was convinced it was still Friday), 4 days, 19 hours and 40 minutes after we started. We barely made it, but it was 16 minutes less than the previous woman's fastest known time.

It felt so good to change clothes, take our shoes off, and know that we weren’t going to have to put them back on after another short drive or nap. We were done. Brutal event. Amazing.

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• 11:35: Unknown Pond Trailhead
• 13:06: Cabot (1)
• 14:42: Unknown Pond Trailhead
• 15:07: Starr King Trailhead
• 16:19: Waumbek (2)
• 17:08: Starr King Trailhead
• 17:57: Wildcat Ski Area
• 18:48: Wildcat D (3)
• 19:39: Wildcat (4)
• 20:51: Carter Dome (5)
• 21:38: South Carter (6)
• 22:08: Middle Carter (7)
• 00:04: Moriah (8)
• 01:30: Carter Moriah Trailhead
• 02:25: Pine Link Trailhead
• 04:42: Madison (9)
• 05:42: Adams (10)
• 06:47: Jefferson (11)
• 08:11: Washington (12)
• 10:48: Isolation (13)
• 13:15: Monroe (14)
• 14:08: Eisenhower (15)
• 14:45: Pierce (16)
• 15:50: Jackson (17)
• 17:02: Webster Jackson Trailhead
• 17:35: Avalon Trailhead
• 18:57: Tom (18)
• 19:41: Field (19)
• 20:24: Willey (20)
• 21:39: Ethan Pond Trailhead
• 22:27: Signal Ridge Trailhead
• 01:00: Carrigain (21)
• 03:18: Signal Ridge Trailhead
o Sleep – 2 hours
• 06:56: Hale Brook Trailhead
• 08:13: Hale (22)
• 10:27: Zealand (23)
• 11:41: West Bond (24)
• 12:06: Bond (25)
• 12:39: Bondcliff (26)
• 14:35: South Twin (27)
• 15:16: North Twin (28)
• 16:41: Galehead (29)
• 18:43: Garfield (30)
• 20:47: Lafayette (31)
• 21:24: Lincoln (32)
• 23:01: Liberty (33)
• 23:49: Flume (34) (from SPOT)
• 02:15: Junction of AT and I-93 (from SPOT)
o Sleep – nap en route to Gorge Brook Trailhead
• 03:40: Gorge Brook Trailhead
• 05:25: Moosilauke (35)
• 06:29: Gorge Brook Trailhead
o Sleep – nap en route to Cannon Trailhead
• 08:13: Cannon Mountain Trailhead
• 09:29: Cannon (36)
• 11:49: North Kinsman (37)
• 12:22: South Kinsman (38)
• 14:58: Lafayette Campground
o Sleep – 3 hours
• 20:40: Tecumseh Trailhead
• 22:08: Tecumseh (39)
• 23:31: Tecumseh Trailhead
o Sleep – 3 hours
• 03:42: Osceola Trailhead
• 05:28: Osceola (40)
• 06:11: East Osceola (41)
• 07:41: Greely Ponds Trailhead
• 08:45: Hancock Notch Trailhead
• 10:36: Hancock (42)
• 11:08: South Hancock (43)
• 12:58: Hancock Notch Trailhead
o 15 minute nap
• 14:27: Oliverian Brook Trailhead
• 16:37: Passaconaway (44)
• 18:04: Whiteface (45)
• 20:17: Middle Tripyramid (46)
• 20:49: North Tripyramid (47)
• 23:00: Pine Bend Brook Trailhead
o 10 minute nap
• 00:24: Lincoln Woods Trailhead
• 04:12: Owl’s Head (48)
• 07:15: Lincoln Woods Trailhead

If anyone has questions about the hike or is interested in attempting to improve on the women’s FKT, you can reach me at briannajotidd [AT] gmail [DOT] com
Again, congratulations to both of you!

Think your dad got an FKT of his own - that of the NH48 for his age-group!! :)

Thanks for posting your report.
What a totally great family project -- so often the adjacent generations in families find themselves at a loss for common passions to help in keeping their relationships vibrant throughout life. Clearly not in your family, totally above and beyond the sheer athletic prowess and raw individual mettle you displayed. To you, your Dad and your Mom, hear hear!

FKT-wise I didn't go through all of your timetable, but did stumble right up front on the Cabot/Waumbek data. 25 minutes to get from the Unknown Pond Trailhead to Jefferson Village? In an RV? If that's not a mistake in the numbers, the ride must surely have been a nail biter! Or is it the Cabot trailhead name that's off -- rather than Unknown Pond, do you really mean the old Mt. Cabot Trailhead on the Lancaster side?

Thank you everyone! It was such an amazing experience. And yes, my dad definitely deserves a record. Even if it is one for his incredible patience and support throughout the hike.


Thank you. My parents, four siblings, and I have been fortunate to enjoy the outdoors together as all of us have grown up (the youngest just turned 18, so we really are all grown up now. Crazy.). Just last year my younger sister Danielle, brother Mike, and parents (Melanie and Bill) all hiked the John Muir Trail (I was stuck in school).

As for the timetable, we were self-supported until we reached the Carter Moriah Trailhead, and my dad drove us from the Unknown Pond Trailhead on Millbrook Road to the Starr King Trailhead in his Jeep (not the RV). He drove as fast as he could, but 25 minutes does seem a bit too quick, even for the Jeep. Also, it seems unlikely that the descent from Cabot took more time than the ascent. We did linger at the top for a bit, but we jogged a lot of the down. My dad said it is possible that he inverted the minutes when he recorded the time for this trailhead in the log book, recording 14:42 instead of 14:24. We used a SPOT gps device which recorded 14:25 for this waypoint. The SPOT often reported times that were later than the actual time, but this is the only waypoint where the SPOT reported an earlier time than what we recorded in the log book. The actual time must be close to the time the SPOT recorded:14:25.

In case you are interested, my dad compiled a table that lists for each waypoint the time we recorded in the log book and the time the SPOT recorded. The table is available on his blog here: http://wp.me/p2lWOE-60.

Thanks for the catch!

Way to go Brianna !!!!! Congratulations ~ Tim Seaver had relayed earlier this summer that there was a father & daughter duo looking to give this challenge a try. I thought, now that is wicked cool. Thanx for posting your notes, makes for a good read, and you never know, you may have inspired others to go for their "crazy ideas" after reading about yours. All the best ~ Cath
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Brianna, in reading your Dad's blog, I enjoyed that additional window into his+your thinking. For example, I thought that taking advantage of I-93 as an 'AT trailhead' coming off of Flume was very out-of-the box - though after doing this, would you still deem a Flume Slide Trail descent to be superior to an Osseo Trail descent [a super highly runnable trail though 1.6 miles longer]? Or was the Flume Slide down-climb the "right" kind of change-of-pace in exercise modes after running a lot of the ridge?

Given the weather conditions you dealt with for part of the trip and various opportunities for further optimization that no doubt occurred to you both through the course of the endeavor, it seems as though there's the potential for a substantial further pushing of this FKT envelope should you decide to do this again under the auspices of a more cooperative Mother Nature!

The only part of all the reading that I didn't enjoy as much was the part about your Dad wounding himself -- and seeing the photo of your blistered foot (Eeeewww!). I hope you both are healing well!

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Thank you for your own inspiration. I look forward to spending more time exploring the mountains and testing my limits, as you have. Enjoy the mountains this winter :). It is cool to see some of the hiking you have done, and so much in the dead of winter!

All the Best,


Thank you. And yes, there is a lot of room for improvement.

It's interesting that you asked about Flume Slide Trail vs. Osseo Trail. The Osseo Trail is my favorite for trail running in the Whites, and the Flume Slide Trail is one of my least favorite. We had originally planned to do the Pemi Wilderness on Thursday and descend down Osseo Trail on the way to a finish at Owl's Head, hopefully in time for the men's record. How very different it all turned out.

The night before we started our hike, the weather forecast for Thursday was not looking good. In order to avoid being on the Bonds and the Franconia Ridge in bad weather, my dad put together an alternate route that moved the Pemi Wilderness hike to Wednesday. This alternate route had us descending off Flume, on the way to Cannon and the Kinsmans. We decided to take this alternate route while we were hiking the Presidentials on Tuesday.

The Pemi Wilderness hike went well until we started climbing Lafayette and ran out of daylight and into fog. The fog reflected off our lights and made it a little difficult to follow the trail on the ridge. This, together with the added loss of coordination from poor fueling after Galehead made it almost impossible for me to run the ridge. We had planned to backtrack from Flume to Liberty and descend down Liberty Springs Trail in order to avoid the Flume Slide Trail. But tired after the traverse, we opted for the shortest route down, hoping that ‘switching it up’, and using different muscles would help. Flume Slide was grueling. I cannot say that this was the worst decision, or even the slowest, but it was certainly the most miserable route we could have chosen.

As for using I-93 as the "AT Trailhead," we can't take credit for that "out-of-the-box" thinking because Cath Goodwin used it in her hike.

In hindsight, we probably could have gone down the Osseo Trail in about the same amount of time that it took us to descend down Flume Slide. Any gain or loss from this decision, though, was small in comparison to cost of saving Owl's Head for last, since the women's record required us to get back to the trailhead, and it was 9 miles from the summit Owl's Head back to the trailhead. If we had known that the men's record would be out of reach, we would have chosen a "trailhead-to-trailhead" route that was a lot shorter. In spite of that, I am glad we tried for the men’s record. You don’t always succeed when you set an aggressive goal, but you can't know your limits unless you test them.

... the Flume Slide Trail is one of my least favorite ... Flume Slide was grueling. I cannot say that this was the worst decision, or even the slowest, but it was certainly the most miserable route we could have chosen.

Brianna, personally I absolutely love the Flume Slide, one of my favorites -- but definitely not for times when I'm tired and/or looking for speed!

As for using I-93 as the "AT Trailhead," we can't take credit for that "out-of-the-box" thinking because Cath Goodwin used it in her hike.

Aha! But you still get points for recognizing its brilliance!

In hindsight, we probably could have gone down the Osseo Trail in about the same amount of time that it took us to descend down Flume Slide. Any gain or loss from this decision, though, was small in comparison to cost of saving Owl's Head for last, since the women's record required us to get back to the trailhead, and it was 9 miles from the summit Owl's Head back to the trailhead. If we had known that the men's record would be out of reach, we would have chosen a "trailhead-to-trailhead" route that was a lot shorter. In spite of that, I am glad we tried for the men’s record. You don’t always succeed when you set an aggressive goal, but you can't know your limits unless you test them.

Another option: Inaugurate a new men's FKT standard, based on the trailhead-to-trailhead time. While it wouldn't be 'apples to apples' with the existing FKT until someone manages to turn in a better time trailhead-to-trailhead than the current trailhead-to-summit time despite the disadvantage, it would establish a standard that's more consistent with common practice.

* * * * *

Separate from all these specifics but related: I worry about one of the downsides of all this FKT competition: how long will it be before someone lets his/her competitive instincts and consequent desire for speed threaten his/her ability to maintain footing and balance, resulting in a serious accident. It sounds as though you and your dad succeeded at thoughtfully not exceeding these margins, but I don't think anyone would believe it never happens. Or if not a serious accident in the immediate term, there's the person who would simply pound out their knees on 48 joint-careless slam-bam descents in the course of 4 days and then hike in pain for the rest of his/her life, possibly also costing his/her health insurer (and hence most of us) tens of thousands of dollars.

Anyway, congrats again to you and your parents -- and in the event of another go at it, best wishes for again staying on the safe/sane side of that sometimes tough-to-discern "aggressiveness line".

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Congratulations on a fine effort. Well done. I enjoyed reading your report.
I'm am truly inspired by this father / daughter effort. Amazing effort and achievement on your part Brianna, the men's record is quite stout. All around stunning effort on your fathers part, both as an athlete and a parent. Much respect.