New Bedford

New Bedford

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Work Week Part 2

July 27: Woke up at 5:35 and was out the door by 5:45am. I jogged down to the athletic fields and took off the shoes. I did some barefoot running around the grass fields. It was different, but nice to be off the roads and out of the shoes. Finished up, headed back home to shower and devour food. I did a bowl of Go Lean Crunch, 2 eggs, and a piece of toast with homemade jam. I had cracked open a sleeve of Oreos earlier in the week so I took the rest for breaks. I made a double decker PBJ for lunch. Jean didn't want drive today so I was in the hot seat all day in the big diesel Ford F-250. I felt like the boss on the roads. Pruning all day and nobody was too motivated throughout the day. We took our time with our pruning. I ate 3 Oreos at 9am and saved the next 3 for my 2:30 break. We took 40 minutes for lunch instead of the usually 30 minutes. Everyone was on the same page so it wasn't a big deal. The highlight of the day was when I found a bird's nest with 3 small, blue speckled eggs in it. Cool! I don't know if they were robin eggs because of the splotches. We left and continued on with pruning. There was a sufficient amount of chatting going on. Jean isn't usually a big fan of this, but she was the starter of many of the conversations. I didn't complain. After work, I relaxed for a while and headed out for a run at 6:30. I wanted to check out this trail at Fox Pond Park to see the extensiveness of it. It wasn't as much as I wanted, but I found some additional trails that were not part of the park. They had these homemade dirt bike jumps. I ran around and popped out on a dirt road. I was hoping it would dump me out somewhere new, but it was actually Bink's Hill. The road only a 1/2 mile from the bunkhouse. I still had a few miles to go so I made a loop around town and ended at the football field. Did some strides. Headed home to three pounds of defrosted hamburger meat. Too much for just hamburgers. The inner chef told me, "Make meatballs!" I made a trip to Walmart at 8:45 pm for breadcrumbs, sauce, ketchup, Gatorade, and a couple other items. Returned, made two hefty burgers and cooked up some meatballs in sauce. Relaxed after and crashed for the night.

Summary: 20 minutes of barefoot running plus the run to and from the fields was 4 miles (29:00). The evening run ended being 9.5+ (69:44) with 8x100 meter strides. Both quality runs and the calf is loosening up with the assistance of the heating pad.

July 29: Woke up at 5:40am and was out the door again for some barefoot running. A little less this morning, but definitely enjoyable. Though, I had seen this explosion of feathers where I start at one corner. This morning I ran next to what looked to be the tail end of a bird on the opposite corner of the field. No carcass, just tail with all the feathers in tact still. Strange. Didn't stop to inspect it. I didn't have time to spare. I was heading to HQ to hitch a ride with other employees. John told me to meet there at 7am. I made myself breakfast (Go Lean Crunch with sliced up bananas, I savored the banana pieces as if they were marshmallows in Lucky Charms). I arrived at 7 on the dot with one van leaving the parking lot. I thought, "There should be at least one more." There was, but already at full capacity. I waited until Tom Giles asked me as I passed his office if I needed a lift. He had to do some campsite monitoring at Tripoli Road first, then he was headed over. I tagged along to check it out. It was the Las Vegas of Campgrounds AKA the ghetto AKA dozens and dozens of campsites that were heavily impacted and some right next to the river. I was in shell shock. I didn't know these types of frontcountry campgrounds existed. We checked out about 6 sites and recorded their points on a GPS unit (almost the same one as you have dad). In addition, we roughly measured size, amount of cars that could be parked at the site, vegetation damage, and other important elements on campsite monitoring. Some surprising things I witnessed was a dump log (the natural bathroom at one campsite), a tree swing, and a small gas-powered grill left behind at one of the sites. Every site had a fire ring with loads of burnt trash in it. It just made me realize how lucky I am to be in a backcountry campsite with only 15-20 campsites. There is no caretaker for frontcountry, but people do patrol the areas. Some of outrageous things Tom has seen are people hauling in a generator to power their large screen TVs and stereo systems. Wow. Other stories include underage drinking and drug use.  Now, that is car camping at it's best (not). Unbelievable. Then he went on to tell me about the bear incidents that have occurred here. Bears breaking windshields or jumping on the roofs of cars before they begin to rock the cars back and forth. Holy crap! Incredible. Once we were done, we continued on before hitting up Dunkin Donuts. Tom treated me to a bagel and hot chocolate. The first of a few for that day. We arrived at the festival and poked around all the displays. John was doing parking lot duty (ha, duty) so I paid him a visit to catch up from the past weekend and everything. He was released and we grabbed some food. Molly, one of the employees, handed me some cash because she said I was like one of her kids. She didn't want me to go starving. I feasted. By the end of the day, I consumed a cheeseburger, a cupcake (curiosity of John), a Sprite, a scoopful of White Mountain Truffle homemade ice cream, a decent sized chocolate chip cookie, and a thick brownie. I was stuffed. The celebration was a great turnout and we got out of there by 3:30 to make the 90 minute trip back to HQ. It was John, Jenny and I (We's were like peas and carrots and green beans again, stretched Forest Gump reference but I made it). We stopped after a little bit because John was really thirsty. My final treat came here when Jenny bought my 99 cent Brisk drink. Jenny drove the remainder of the ride because John was sleepy. We got back at 4 to HQ and I was on my way home to Plymouth. I ran at 5pm in the drizzling rain. It must of been the hot chocolate because I had to "use the ferns" on five different occasions through my run. Oh well, but it wasn't very amusing. I just had to keep pulling off to the side of the road in the woods. I think I might do my business more on my runs than in the bunkhouse. I save a lot of toliet paper this way. I do try before I make my way out of my runs (no pun intended), but it's that first 2 miles or less than just moves everything along. I don't let it bother me. The remainder of the night was spent eating a meatball sandwich, doing laundry, and Skyping with my family who are down in Georgia at the laundry mat. It was great to see them all and the laundry attendant let me stay until 11 even though they closed at 10. It worked out and I got to see them all without rushing since I started at 9:52pm. Into the campsite tomorrow until Monday. Nice weather for the weekend with a possible t-storm on Monday. Wish me luck.

Summary: 3 miles in the am (24:00). 15 minutes of barefoot running. Felt nice again. It's because I've been reading the Born To Run book and I want to strengthen my feet to be less injury prone. I will stick to trainers, but try to incorporate some barefoot running in the mornings. 7 miles in the evening (53:00) that took almost an hour because of the frequent breaks. Never again hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts. Or it could of been the hamburger. Who knows? I am gonna assume that it is the hot chocolate because it has happened before. Until next week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Work Week Part 1

July 26: Woke up and planned on jogging a few miles. Exhausted from the weekend so I slept in and ate a big breakfast before work. I had a bowl of Go Lean Crunch, 3 eggs and a piece of toast with jam. Packed a double decker PBJ, a mini Clif bar and an applesauce. As I am gathering my things for work, I am having trouble locating my wallet. I slowly go into panic mode for two reasons; wallet is not being found and it is now 6:45 and I need to be to work by 7. It's only a 3 minute drive, but I just can't stop looking for my wallet. I begin ripping through my house and began to think it might of slipped out of my back pocket when I was downtown the night before. Hmmm. Would it still be there? It started to rain when I drove back to my house and it's nowearly in the morning, maybe no one has passed by it yet. Please be there. I had cash in there. My drivers license. These are some of the thoughts rushing through my head as I am driving downtown. I tear up a little realizing losing my wallet in New Hampshire would be a stressful next few days or few weeks replacing things and such. I yell in my head, "This is why you carry a backpack (a murse) so you don't lose things." I have lost multiple possessions out of my back pocket such as my student ID and money. Maybe it because my pants are too baggy and I have no butt to fill them out. The combo might be working against me in these situations. Whatever it is, I was on a mission to get downtown the fastest way possible without getting pulled over (about 7-9 miles over the speed limit). It was no where in sight when I reached my spot from the night before. Now I really freaking! It was 6:50am and I couldn't go to work without knowing where my wallet is or without canceling my debit cards before work. I went back to the bunkhouse to make a one last final effort to find it. I check everywhere; bed, laundry bag, bathroom, shower, refrigerator, and all my clothes I had worn the day before. I glance at my night stand and it's just chillin at the base of the black lamp secretly slightly tucked underneath a piece of paper. Seriously? A take a huge sigh of relief and make it to work 2 minutes late, which is nothing. Another coworker arrives anywhere between 7:05am and 9am, or not at all. That is exactly what happened. Virginia did not come in today so it was just Jean and I weeding everything. The day went by fairly quickly. It started to rain and thunder around 1:45pm. We escaped into the truck (Steve, our boss, is okay if we sit in the truck to let the rain pass). Jean needed to leave at 2:30 for her other job so we both called it a day after the rain picked up. I headed to the Pease Public Library after work to update my resume and make some progress in the job application process. Did that from 3:00-4:30. Ran after that. Calves mad sore from the race still. Got in the mileage and stretched a bunch after. I was excited to do some major cooking this night. First, I sautéed some yellow squash in butter, olive oil and seasoned with pepper. I let these cook for a 6-8 minutes because I knew they took the longest. I cut up some chicken and cooked it butter, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper and cumin. I cooked up a bag of white rice pretty much at the same time as the chicken (boiled the water from the beginning so it would be ready at any time). I cooked everything at the right time to be done at all the same time. Ca-chang! I sometimes have trouble with this aspect of cooking. It was delicious and a huge amount. I split it up into two servings. You know the normal proportions of a chicken salad or chicken parm, there is almost never enough chicken for every bite. Well, my proportions are slightly, pretty much, most definitely the opposite of this. I had just enough rice for each piece of chicken because that is how I roll.  Rest of the night was relaxing and my normal night routine of being in bed before 10pm. This is because I have no television or computer to keep me up after hours. It works out. 

Summary: I ended up running 14 miles (94:27). It was an enjoyable run. I did wear my calf sleeves because they were still wrecked from Saturday racing. Mostly the soleus muscle (lower calf) on the right side. I have been icing religiously and sticking my leg to work out the soreness. I probably should of doubled today instead of one longer run or only 10-12 miles. Oh well. Long run tomorrow. Not sure where.

July 27: Woke up at 6 to make myself another big breakfast. 2 bowls of cereal, 2 eggs, and a piece of toast. I was pumped to have leftovers for lunch today at work. I still made a PBJ (single, no double decker) for 9 o clock break. Today was something new for work. Pruning! We got a mini lesson from Steve and then got to work for the rest of the day. The only tough part was getting to the middle of the bushes and the fact that it poured the night before. Within the 10 minutes of pruning, my shorts were soaked and the bottom half of my shirt. I luckily had a few layers on because it was chilly in the morning. I wasn't soaked to the bone. My shoes and socks definitely were, but it was supposed to warm up by the afternoon and it did. We hit up the president's house to do some pruning and I threw my long sleeve thermal and t-shirt to dry on the hood of the truck. I pruned in my beater. I felt naked, but it was much easier. Plus, I had a dry layers for the rest of the day. I did whack the back of my head on the corner window sill. It jostled me up a bit, but no blood. Jean left at 2:30 again and the last hour of work was weeding at the blueberry bushes. Virginia showed me this edible weed I could eat (no, not marijuana). It was tasty, but I felt like a rabbit chomping on the stuff. No worries. A little snack before the end of the work. I headed home to relax and fuel up the long run (peanut m&ms and honey roasted peanuts Sarah gave me, perfect). I decided to be smart and turn my bedroom into the KSC training room. I made a homemade heating pad (a wet towel in a ziploc bag and nuked it for 5 minutes) and threw a shirt on my calf to prevent burning. Sat there for 15 minutes, stocked, foam rolled, stretched and was on my way. I had passed by this old railroad bed that is now gravel and dirt. I decided to see where it led. I checked to ensure it ended up some place runnable. It did so an exploration was in store. It was 4 miles on the roads. I turn onto the trail. Its scenic and good footing. Within 5 minutes, I approach an electric fence so I did what I do best. Jump it and head into unchartered territory. I then had to climb a metal gate into somebody's front yard aka farm. I see the railroad bed continues on the other side so I was too intrigued to just turn around. I cross safely without any gunshots or barking dogs chasing me through the yard. I reach the other side after passing some cows to come across another electric fence/metal gate combination. This time they are very close together, but I felt I was nimble enough to carefully step over the electric fence and climb over the gate without falling or slipping off to receive some shock. I continued down and reached a road. I continued on this until about an hour and turned around. I ripped open my vanilla bean Gu packet at 45 minutes and I thought I was eating some Breyer's vanilla bean (extra creamy edition). Damn, ordering a bunch those in the near future. As I was making my way back, I decided to run around the farm with the electric fence since there was a sign posted on the gate stating "STAY ON THE TRAIL OR STAY HOME." I didn't feel like getting shot or something. I made it around and hopped back onto Bog Road. I came across the path I originally turned onto. The trail continued on the other side of the road and I decided it would be beneficial to check it out (and it wasn't pavement). This worked out to my advantage very nicely. The main reason being was a started to chaf on the worst part of the body. My ding-a-ling. It the first time, but I have only heard of the horrifying stories. Since the trail was secluded and I couldn't see a soul in sight in front of me. I let it free to relief myself of the chaffing. It was remarkable mostly because I was pain free. This lasted about 2 miles until the trail ended and turned into a dirt road. It was deserted as well, but I didn't want to take my chances of being arrested for indecent exposure. The dirt road was Moit's Place, which is off of Loon Lake Road. I knew where I was and cruised home. As soon as I got back, I started feeling a bit nausea. I think it was the fact that I was a dehydrated and the long run does that to me sometimes. I didn't have much of an appetite for serious food so eventually I made some Belgium waffles. I topped it with my homemade jam and bananas. Hit the spot and relaxed for the rest of the night. Slept like a rock.

Summary: I mapped out the run and it came out to 18.3 miles (2:07:46). 7:07 for the last uphill mile, but overall pace was 6:57. The calves were less sore by the end of the run and the heating pad made a huge difference. A fairly smooth long run and I was glad I didn't concentrate on the speed of the run so much. Somebody asked me what I think about when I do these long runs. So I started to think about it on my runs and what I see is usually dictated by what my eyes are seeing. Especially in new areas. This long run was filled up with commenting (in my mind) on the houses and buildings I passed. Not much else going on with my runs. At times of course, I think about running when I am running. For example, I have been trying to envision my marathon race on the long runs and even the 10 milers and shorter runs. It works out and I never find the necessity to use music. It throws off my breathing and pacing. I can't do my normal body check to make sure my form isn't breaking down. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mondays Are Relaxing

July 25: Woke up at 5:15am to my alarm to see if I could get up early. Nope. Snoozed until 6:30am. Crawled out of bed and took a walk to the latrine. I am always waking up and having the necessity to use the restrooms; must be the beans. Made the breakfast of champions, oatmeal with raisins and applesauce with a helping of pretzels and nutella. It was chilly this morning. I bundled up with two layers on top, two layers on the bottom, and a layer on the skull (US Forest Service winter cap). Since I have been awake, I've been have these huge pockets of gas that are exiting as fairly loud flatulence. I hope I don't wake anybody up as well as attract any bears. They all smell of last night's dinner. As I was waiting to make another second round, I sat and did the usual. Played cards, read Born to Run, and wrote in my journal. Throughout these activities, there are red squirrels making the most high-pitched chirping sounds (look up red squirrel videos on YouTube to get real sound). I felt like the dog from the movie Up! Every time I heard a squirrel, I looked and pointed (with my eyes) right in the middle of playing cards. No hesitation. And eventually saying in my mind, "Squirrel!" What a loser. This morning was fairly low-key so I made an effort to organize all my gear within the bearbox and my tent. Spent about 45 minutes (from 10-10:45) giving my site a makeover. It just needed some TLC from the divided weekend. It was mostly that things were not in their places (Mom, if everything has a place, things stay clean longer and will easier to clean in the future). I organized my backpack for the trip down, removed the mystery black garbage bag out of the communal bearbox that had been there the entire weekend, and tidied up my tent for following weekend. The garbage bag had some trash in it, but it did have some food. I snatched the packet of instant oatmeal (peaches and cream flavor, yum) and threw away the rest. Plus, I kept the hiking fannypack for myself. The perks of a caretaker. Two side notes: I saw an older couple both wearing a set of headphones hiking "together" (more a brisk walk because of their lack of heavy-duty backpacks). They were walking in single file with about 5 feet between em. I thought it was a pretty strange sighting. Walk together and talk, weirdos. Also, I found a white garbage bag in the bathroom that was definitely somebody's trash he or she left behind because he or she didn't want to carry it out. People are just so nice these days. You're giving me your trash? Just for me? Wow, you're just swell. Pathetic! From 11am until about 1, I worked on making the pile of sand/gravel mix disappear and finally officially finished filling in the friggin tent pad (a little bit of a tongue twister)! Bam! As soon as I finished, an older man biked up to my campsite with a fully packed backpack (probably about 35-40 pounds). We got chatting and he had asked how long I stay up at the campsite for. I responded with 4 days (Friday to Monday) and this older guy was gonna do the other 3 days, but a possible job opportunity popped up that he was pursuing. You know what he said? "I think I'm that older guy." I meet Paul from Maine that was gonna be the caretaker during the week at Franconia Brook. Hm, so that was kinda neat. He expanded on the job opportunity as a temporary district ranger position for 8 weeks that was located about 12 miles from where he lives. They ended giving it to a guy that was transferring from somewhere else, but he grabbed a part time job with his friend. I let him do his thang and set up camp (at the tent pad) while I made my final rounds to the occupied and vacant campsites. I rediscovered the underground fire at site #11 that was not completely out from the attempted extinguishing the night before. The difficult part was the shovel was less effective than my bare hands in digging up the smoldering soil. I was tearing up the ground and becoming more frustrated with the extent of fire's area coverage.  I was at it for a solid 40 minutes before completely putting it out cold. I passed by Paul a few times along my travels of filling up my bucket at the river. I noticed he rides a Blue Water Huffy bike, fairly goofy, and an extremely outgoing person. Then I thought to myself, is this me in 40 years? I didn't really mind what I was witnessing. Once the fire was put out, it was 2:00. I checked on Paul one last time and asked him what he was planning on tackling for the upcoming week. He is staying along the East Side Trail and exploring the old campsites from the early 1900s. The trails used to be an extensive railroad system when they were clear cutting the forests. He had a map of the campsites and he had some coordinates a bushwackers club had on their website. He continued to ramble (as do I) about how his wife and him find it almost boring now to use the actual trails. They enjoy using the map and compass technique to reach a destination. Another positive fact, he is happily married. His wife even let him get away for the week while her side of the family visited. Some allowed freedom from the house, awesome! If I am this guy in the future, sounds like a quant little life he lives. A father and daughter stopped in to sites #16-19 to set up camp. We all got talking for a while and I realized it was 2:20 and I needed to stop by HQ before heading back to Plymouth. I bid them good morrow (movie quote from Role Models) and headed back to my site. Next thing I know, I am rushing to the bathroom debating on whether I am gonna make it in time. I was doing the run/walk thing that sometimes makes things worse. I ended reaching the toilet in time, but it was a close call. I crafted a manpon (reference to Rob and Big) for the ride down just in case on an emergency. I made it down to the parking lot, changed up out of my uniform (changed the boxers) and headed to HQ to drop off the bear incident reports. Left at 4:45pm from HQ after discussing the incidents with Justin and Clara. Drove home to Plymouth starving, ate anything I could get my hands on, unpacked, showered and headed to Hannaford's to spend my race winnings on a serious shopping list. I spent 50 minutes or so picking up canned soup (on sale), angel hair pasta (only kind I like), tortillas (not quesadillas), burrito seasoning to flavor my new cans of plain pinto beans and kidney beans in sauce (worth a shot to get away from the refried bean much), big container of mini pretzels (I ran out), dozen eggs (protein!), gallon of whole milk (because I afford the extra fat and it's delicious creaminess), ground beef (for burgers), chicken (more protein), bananas (potassium and less likelihood of cramps), yellow squash (for some much needed nutrients), and a green pepper (for my burger and it was on sale). After all this shopping, I was too hungry to cook so I stopped downtown to grab some Subway (Italian BMT is the sub of the month) and FaceTime with my dad. Unfortunately, the power went out after some time due to the thunderstorm and I retreated back my bunkhouse. 

Summary: A relatively relaxing day and I prepare myself for 3 days of horticulture at PSU. Running this week should be a solid week. I am worry less about pace and get in the mileage because of the 9+ miles of racing. I am gonna try some barefoot running and get in a longer run on Wednesday. I don't head into the campsite until Saturday because there is the Weeks Act 100 Year Celebration on Friday all day. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The End of the Split Weekend

July 23 (evening after race): Relaxed at the bunkhouse until about 2:30pm. Did a little grocery shopping (3 cans of refried beans). Drove to campsite around 4. I had to bike up with just a small pack filled with some food, my running shoes and other miscellaneous things. Any other day would be okay to bike up but this day. My legs were toast from the morning. I made it up without walking, but I have almost run as fast as I biked up this day. It was brutal to say the least. I got right to work once I revived myself with a little H2O and trail mix. My round lasted from 5:30 to 7:30. The campsite was completely full. 47 people the time I went to bed. The most I have witnessed at the campsite. Also, I successfully accomasated an overfill person. I was back at my tent site when a guy asked if there any more space. I knew it was completely full, but I knew who to ask. Dave from the New England Disabled Sports group. Without hesitation, Dave said he could pop his tent up anyone he could find space. Wonderful! Mission complete. The best part of my round was talking with this couple and the husband was a cross country and track coach. We blabbed on for a while and I wasn't even half way done with the sites. One of groups at site #23 forgot eating utensils. So they reverted back to caveman ways and using sharpened sticks. They were cooking up some small bits of meat over the fire so it was logically. Luckily they didn't bring up soup or pasta. Though thinking about I now, they would of used two sticks like chopsticks if they needed to. With all the sites settled in, I made it back at 7:40 and quickly prepared dinner. I mean super quick. I prepared, eaten and cleaned up everything in under 30 minutes. I wish I had timed it because it would of been a new record (I need to amuse myself somehow while I am alone in the woods). 

Summary: The bike was probably beneficial and acted as a small shakeout for my legs. I am planning on heading to Franconia Falls and back at a shuffle tomorrow. A new slow course record. Going for 90+ minutes and getting it out of the way in the morning.

July 24: Woke up at 5:15am and contemplated running then. Slept until 6:15am. On the trails by 6:30. Sipped some water and threw back a handful of trail mix (almonds and peanut m&ms) for some fuel. Super slow to Franconia Falls. Soaked the feet and lower calves to numb them up for the 2nd half of the run. Worked like magic for the first 10 minutes, then the soreness set back in. Ate a Clif bar immediately after the end of the run because my stomach was eating itself. Did a rinsed at the river because it was chilly in the morning, mid 60s. I didn't produce enough heat during the run to want to go jump in the water. I converted my towel into a turban for the walk back to my tent site and received some strange looks from the campers passing by. It was keeping my head warm so I didn't care. Made myself a hearty breakfast of 3 oatmeal packets with applesauce, pretzels with nutella and hot chocolate. I was a tad bit hungry. After breakfast, I relaxed at the picnic table and read some Born to Run. A couple was leaving and stopped in to say their goodbyes. Oh, and to let me know there is bear at the end of the campsite. It was pretty nonchalant. I was like, "Okay, I think i will go check that out. Thanks." I grabbed the air horn and earplugs to make a round and check it out.  As I was walking down the trail, a man was approaching me and looking for me to notify me of the bear incident. We discussed the situation and he gave me some of the details of the incident. I ran back to my tent to grab a bear incident to fill out (for the 2nd time this weekend, John only gave me a couple copies so I actually didn't have any left, jotted down the details in my notebook). The family was cooking bacon and other breakfast delicates. The bear "snuck up" behind their tent and the wife spotted it. She blew her air horn and the bear trotted off away from them. The site next to them was a father and his 3 young sons. He took the two younger ones around the other way with his camera and bear spray to try to capture a photo. Hmm and left the oldest (maybe 14 years old). The bear didn't travel far and began to climb up the hillside behind the son's tent. The wife from the other site hit the air horn once again and the bear responded by trotting off away from both sites into the woods. The oldest son was grateful because he was within the tent and didn't know the bear was back heading up to his tent. The father, what an idiot! Leave one of your sons when their is a bear in close proximity. F for the day as a father. Plus, he said he didn't even get a quality picture of the bear. That is called karma, biotch! And yes I spelled it that way because I am that gangsta. Once the incident reports were completed, I was off to perform some renovations at the Lincoln Brook/Franconia Brook junction. I was entirely sure if it needed a new post as well as a sign replacement so I brought along all the essential tools for that (shovel, switchblade saw, and a bark peeler tool, as you can tell I am still figuring out the names of the equipment). I took my time getting there as I hiked out to the destination at 11:30am.  I was expecting to return by 3pm with the the majority of time spent replacing the sign and post. It was much cooler out for the hike, but I still sweated like crazy hiking the 1.7 miles. Once I reached the junction, I completely forgot that the post was the dead tree stump (about 6 feet tall). So that means, I lugged all the equipment out for nothing. I sat down and took a break before replacing the sign, replaced the sign, documented the old and new sign with my camera, hiked back to my campsite. Made some freeze-dried pasta primavera. Delicious, but too much water. A large amount of broth at the end. I don't know if its even supposed to have broth. 2 cups on the directions, only need 1 1/2 cups next time. As I was preparing my lunch at my picnic table. I had a couple visitors. One was a foreign women (it was mostly her accent and broken English, but I don't from where) that was mad creepy for the most part. She was wondering if she was gonna see more trees as she continued on the trail. I politely said yes (Obviously lady, we're in the friggin woods). Her reasoning was that her father loved trees and she loves taking pictures of them. Nice, but she was still a little freaky. She almost reminded me of a drug addict with her body language and stuff. I don't think she was, but you never know. My next group of visitors were 3 dudes that were either drunk or drunk and high on something. I could smell the alcohol on their breath. They were frozen in amazement by my canvas tent. They asked if they could check it out inside and was glad to to show them. It was pretty entertaining. We started talking about bears and such. I mentioned I was technically a level 1 bear hazer. One of the guys suggested I should totally get a tattoo of that across my back. Ridiculous. They said they were headed to Franconia Falls, great. Hammered and swimming near waterfalls is not the best combo (a former teammate know the dangers of the power of waterfalls and he was sober). After they left, it was 3:00 and I didn't have much to do. I was deciding on running another 8-10 miles. Like the Tarahumara people. Maybe just throw on my crocs or go barefoot. It not always the best to be reading up on ultra running (Born to Run) when I am just trying to hit 70 miles a week. No worries. I checked out the vacant campsites and found some underground fires. Its basically the soil smoldering and smoking. You wouldn't expect it to be crazy hot, but they definitely were. Hot to the touch. Instantly. Pretty scary. I put them out with a bucket of water each. Swung by site #1-2 to greet the group setting up camp. The underground fire situation was a good starting point for conversation. Unfortunately, their fire pit also had a case of the underground fire. Not good! They fixed it with a shovel and I asked about their plans. Using my campsite as a base camp for 7 days worth of some serious day hikes. Hitting most the peaks in the general area. Cool! One of em had a hammock and talked about their black bear experiences. On one occasion, a black bear walked right underneath the hammock causing it to swing back and forth. Wow. That is too much for me. I returned to my site and ate some appetizers of cheese, crackers and pepperoni while I waited for more campers. Made another round and visited 2 guys doing some fishing for the next couple days. Ended up talking to them for a while until reaching site #15. It was a mom, dad, and daughter. She runs mostly the 800 at Penn State. I was like, "Oh man, you must be fast then." Her parents asked me to guess her time and nailed it right on the head. 2:11. I could just tell. She is best friends with Cas Loxsom. We talked about running, job opportunities such as Alaska, and other things. They lived in Anchorage, Alaska, for a couple years and they said it was beautiful. I walked to the end of the campsite and cleaned the bathrooms. I ended up talking to a woman about job opportunities and she said Juneau, Alaska, is amazing. She says everyone that lives in Alaska WANTS to live there for a variety of reasons. Cool! Prepared dinner at 7:50pm and still in my tent by 8:45pm. Bam! Like clockwork! 

Summary: 12 miles on the day. New slow course record of 93:18. 49:01 out, 44:17 back. Felt amazing. My calves were sore, but didn't affect me too much. 74 miles for the week. For the last 7 weeks, I have averaged 70+ miles. Staying true to my goal of at least 70 miles a week while I am here. A day off on Monday and back to the grind on Tuesday between landscaping and running. I do need to remember take the first few days easy on pace because of the two races on Saturday. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Race Report

July 23rd: Woke up at 6:10am. Went to the bathroom, boiled some water for my one packet of instant oatmeal, and packed up all my stuff into the car. I made sure I had the everything and extra of everything. Four pairs of socks, 4 shirts, petroleum jelly, Gu packets, and toilet paper in case of an emergency. I made it down the race area (2 miles from the bunkhouse) at about 6:50am. Grabbed my numbers and pinned them on my two pair of shorts. I started sizing up some of the competition. Definitely some fast guys. A couple BAA guys, a guy decked out in black and green Adidas gear, and others. I situated myself away from it all with a walk with my iPod to calm the nerves. Got back and warmed up 2.5+ miles down Bog Road at 7:20am. Got back and did the prerace rituals. Port-a-pottys right next to my car which was a plus. Stepped to the line at about 7:50 for the 8am start of the 5k.

Race details (5k): Bascially it went out like a bat out of hell and there was a pack of 6 through the mile (4:45 from what I heard after, I don't wear watches during races). I was about 5-7 seconds off of them. I was expecting to reel some of them in once we hit the dirt bike path at 1.5 miles. It happened little by little, but they were all cruising going after the course record (15:09). I pretty much sat in 7th the whole time and strided it in for the last 1/2 mile once I saw 3rd was a ways away. Top 4 were under 15:00 and the winning time was 14:44. I crossed at 15:25 and hit my goal of sub 15:30 since I had the 10k at 8:30am.

I trotted back to my car to change my socks, switch into fresh shorts, replenish with some Gu and watered down Gatorade. I took a piss in the woods and heard an announcement of the 10k going off in 4-5 minutes. Perfect. I got to the line and noticed I was not the only one who had the idea of doubling up. I was getting those vibes before and after the warmup of the 5k. The two BAA guys (one of them was 2nd, Brian Harvey and the other was Dave Chorney, 6th) and the Adidas guy (1st in 5k and overheard his 10k time of 28:34). This will be interesting. It seemed like these guys expended some extra energy in the 5k so maybe I can sneak in for a top 3 finish (cash money baby!)

Race details: So the cannon went off and we (3 guys) were baby stepping through the first few miles at about 5:05 (I asked the winner after the race about splits). Once we hit 5k, we retraced our steps back the same road after a dead end counterclockwise circle turnaround street (easier than it sounds). The Adidas guy just kept widening the gap after 5k so I concentrated on holding onto 2nd place by just using the downhills and swinging the arms. The body started to tense up at about 4 miles and I focused on maintaining my form and relaxing as much as I could. I held off 3rd with a time of 31:57 and meet my goal of sub 32. Walked away with $150 and two solid efforts under my belt. Ca-chang!

Summary: Two solid times this morning. First time racing more than a 10k, even if it was split up. It was a learning experience for the longer distances especially with a planned marathon debut in the fall. Upped my mental game and taught me some pacing control. I didn't make any outrageous moves and ran a smart two races. I am heading back to Franconia Brook tonight until Monday. A recovery run tomorrow and maybe a shakeout on Monday afternoon. 

Short Week and Split Weekend

July 19th: Woke up at 5:30am. Literally rolled out of bed to get running at 5:50am. Out for an easy run. Got back and rushed around a little bit to make sure I was early for the first day of my new job. The two people I am working with are Jean and Virginia. They are almost polar opposites, but make it entertaining to work with. The boss, Steve Sweedler, is on vacation in Canada so Jean is in charge for time being. Nothing too complicated at work. I basically mulched with some minor weeding from 7:30-12 with a break a 9, where I sipped on my applesauce in the Hub. I got to talk with talk with Virginia and we got to know about each other's lives. She actually know John, my boss , because John's daughter Lydia is the same age as her daughter. We took a break from 12-12:30. I ate my lunch in the break room then headed the burning bushes. Weeded from 12:30-3:00. It was very tedious, but whatever. A job is a job. It's keeping me out of trouble, I guess. All that wifi I was using was building bad character. The last 1/2 hour of work is always set aside for cleaning up our area we were working at, dumping off our weeds (Langdon Park), and putting away all the tools in the shed on River Street. I got back to rush back out the door just before 4 to get another run in before my sister, Sarah, came by to chill for a bit. I ended up making it back before she got the highway so I could give her directions to the bunkhouse. Sarah arrived at 5:25pm bearing gifts. A care package filled with my essentials. Peanut m&ms, applesauce, Clif bars, Gatorade, Swedish fish, Go Lean Crunch, oatmeal, and a pack of Bicycle playing cards. I showed her around my place and we discussed how our training was going for the upcoming marathon in the fall. We parked downtown to grab some food since we were both starving and didn't eat enough during our busy days. I got the Steak Bomb at the Panther Pub and Grill. And a Bud heavy (Budweiser) cuz I'm a man. We were mistaken as a couple. Again (once at Armadillos in Keene). Of course. Pathetic. It doesn't help that we both ordered a beer. The waitress asked for our IDs and we thought, she will know now that we are siblings because we have the same last name. Or that we're married. Awesome! We split a dessert and joked the whole time about situation. We tend to get off the wall when we are together. Once we got back, we started playing Rummy 500 until my mom arrived at 8:30pm. Then we got even more out of control, but great times. It was nice to see both of them before they themselves headed into the mountains to do some hut cooking at Lakes of the Clouds. I pretty much went to bed right after they left.

Summary: I put in 14.5 miles today between the easy 3 mile run (23+) in the am and the 10.5 (71:30) miles in the pm with 8x100 strides. The morning run was tough, but I didn't hit a wall at any point of the day. I found some sweet trail in Fox Pond Park. I will exploring this more next week. The afternoon run was partially a new route that was something different, but might not do it again soon. I worked from 8:00 pace down to low 6s. It was a solid run, but I do need to make sure I am properly warming up before my runs and stretching adequately after. I was a little rushed today, but didn't affect me. Just took the first mile or so slow to get the blood flowing a bit before working the pace.

July 20th: Woke up at 6ish to make oatmeal with raisins (it's a staple in my diet now) and head to work to pretty much weed all day. Oh wait, I did weed all day with 15 minute paid break at 9 (where I ate a mini Clif bar Sarah gave me) and a 30 minute break for lunch (double decker PBJ sandwich). I got back from work starving again and ripped into the nutella, pretzels and m&ms. Headed out for my run at 4, which was brutal with the heat. The electronic bank sign read 92 degrees at mile 1. I returned the same way and the sign read 93 degrees. It didn't get any cooler. Luckily, part of my run was in the shade. Got back to stretch and shower before heading to Justin's in Ashland for some home cooking. Steak and potatoes. My favorite! I got to meet Gabby, his wife, and the little one, Dominic. He is a cutie. The dog is not. It's a small schitzu. I don't have luck with smaller dogs and it showed when it growled at me when I stuck my hand out to pet it. I retracted and kept my distance. Gabby said it was harmless. Nothing is harmless in the eyes of Eric especially miniature rat dogs. We watched A-Team after dinner. Sweet movie! I also had a couple PBR's, which reminded me of Coolidge Street. Classic times. I got back to the bunkhouse at 9:20pm with nothing done for the early weekend at the campsite. I was heading up a day early because of the road race on Saturday. I didn't do my laundry, but it wasn't really a big deal. I will definitely need to do some on Monday. I made my sandwiches and tossed em in the freezer with some applesauces. Bed time.

Summary: The run was a solid one. I left my running log up at the campsite so I don't have the time. I got in 11.5 miles. I am skipping the long run this week because of the 9+ miles of racing. Like clockwork, I had to poop at about 17 minutes. Only if I could just snap my fingers to feel like I have run 2 miles so I could be civilized and use indoor plumbing. I must have marked my territory over a dozen places on my running routes. I have to remember where I pull off so I don't stop off there again the next day or eve the next week. Maybe I should plot the points on the GPS. Maybe a little extreme. Or I was thinking if my waste was just in a bag or container attached to me that I could detach for my runs. A person can dream. 

July 21: Woke up at 6am. I switched it up this morning and made myself 4 eggs with some shredded cheese and a piece of toast with homemade strawberry jam (or jelly, not sure which one it is). Meet John at 7:15 at HQ to quickly go over some things for the weekend. I saw Giff as I was leaving. He let me know he put some metal frame packs next to my car for the Valley View guys to use for the packing out stuff. He also gave me four pairs of waders because the other side of the bridge has more things that are manageable to pack out (the Black Brook side and you need to cross the river to reach it). I was okay with that, but it sorta threw me off in the morning. My dilemma was whether a Forest Service employee was at Lincoln Woods that morning to drive me up with all the extra supplies. I pulled in the parking lot and no white truck in sight to bring me up. Only a volunteer that is not authorized to and John was in a meeting that morning. I ended up seeing Giff  in the parking lot and he was able to give me a lift. Once I got up, I headed right over to the campsite that Valley View should of been located and nothing. Nobody was in the entire campsite. Hmmm. Interesting. So I couldn't do much other than set up camp (organizing everything and filtering some drinking water). It was a scorcher out with the humidity so minimal manual labor was the plan. I relaxed until about 11:40 and headed out for a run. Once I got back from the "not so confidence boosting" run, my shirt was completely drenched and I took a dip at the range pool. Good old Tom (not the guy from the commercials) was there with his inflatable raft (doubles as sleeping mattress) and ended up swimming, laying out and conversing with Tom for over an hour. I got back and still no sign of Valley View. It is now 3pm and I am chilling out for the rest of the day. My big responsibilities for the weekend are to replace a sign and post at two different junctions. I decided that I should wait until after the races to do the hiking and manual labor. Two reasons were that the temperature was in the 90s and I didn't want to exhaust myself for Saturday. I listened to the weather channel on my radio and it said a cold front is expected Saturday night to cool off Sunday and Monday. I was playing it smart. Took a power nap and woke up starving at 4pm. I had to wait until about 5:30pm for dinner. Killed time by reading more of Born to Run (sooooo good) and cleaned the bathrooms completely. Appetizers of pepperoni, cheese and crackers combo at 4:30. Started preparing dinner at 5:30. I definitely bumped it up to some gourmet wraps with the addition of white rice to my beans and cheese. Unfortunately, I made like a pound of rice (probably less, but too much to handle by myself). I did whatever I could to finish it off among the 3 tortillas I had. I had to the remains away. After I cleaned up, I checked at the end of the campsite and heard voices. Valley View made it. Brendan explained to me one of the kids "fell" and the rest of the group had to carry his weight while he just hiked with poles. They had to take an extra day and arrived at my campsite a day late. It was cool, but he was bummed they didn't do the service project. The school is made up of 56 kids that are from all over the East Coast that have been set back for one reason or another. They attend Valley View for 2-3 years and finish up at boarding school. The school was started by a psychologist that transformed a piece of farm property into a school in 1975. Since then, dormitories, a gymnasium and other buildings have been built. Pretty sweet! I scooted over the site next to theirs to talk to two kids that are going all over the country for some fundraising. It's called "Love the Bus." they said there is some website, but I haven't checked it out yet. They were camping because there bus broke down in Plymouth. They converted a school bus into an RV by ripping out the seats and stuff. After that, I head back to my site to basically fall asleep at 8:30pm. The tough part was that it only got down to the low 70s so it was brutal in the tent. I was playing cards and holding myself up on one side. I could see the beads of sweat forming on my chest. I stopped and just laid outside of my sleeping bag. I felt a little exposed, but just could not cover even an inch of my body with the sleeping bag. 

Summary: The run was a less than motivational run with the race this Saturday. I just headed up the trail about 30 minutes and turned. On the way back, I was talented enough to roll my right ankle 4 times. Two of times, I was hobbling a bit because it was that painful. I toughed it out and got in 9.5 miles (71:00). I wanted 10, but my body wasn't allowing me to run gracefully through the trails today. I was extra cautious on the way back and added on 10 minutes the other way from my tent site. I soaked it in the river and it didn't hurt at all moving it forward or back. The left and right motion was a bit sore. Oh well. Only makes me stronger, I guess.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Productive Weekend Part 3

July 17: Crappy night sleep. Weird dreams. Woke up late today at 7:25. Wow, that's strange to say. Breakfast was oatmeal with raisins and peanut m&ms plus some pretzels with nutella. I needed to fuel up for day. I started with cleaning out sites #10-15. I chatted with the couple from site #24 while I retrieved some water from the river. John drove up do some patrolling. We touched base and he have me the lowdown for the rest of the weekend. I needed to figure out the Valley View's itinerary, finish up the GPS coordinates for all the sites (since last time was not a complete success), and work on the tent pad fill to show it off in the morning to the district. After John departed, I wheelbarrowed some loads into the tent pad until about 12:15pm. Took a break to hit th trail running. I was feeling good from the start so I worked it to my advantage. Cruised through the whole run and came back in a course record for the final 2.7 miles. Saw a guy along the way with a Fleet Feet Orlando jersey. Once I reached Franconia Falls (aka party central), I got to witness it in full swing. Woowee (that's how I spell it)! People everywhere, old and young. I only soaked my feet for about 30 seconds and split. As soon as I stopped running, I began pouring sweat. Jogged to the ranger pool with my lunch. Sat in the water for a while because it just felt perfect for the legs. Got back to work on the tent pad for another 2 hours or so. I stopped to plot the points of the tent sites, but the GPS wasn't even turning on. It gave me a red light as the status of the unit, which either meant low battery or it's messed. John did mention it wasn't allowing him to put it in standby mode and kept shutting off. So I couldn't plot the points. I used the downtime to organize my tent before I got dinner rollin. I decided to spice it up a bit with some of the lo mien noodles with teriyaki sauce. I felt like I wasn't gonna be fully satisfied so I decided to try out the freeze-dried buffalo style chicken for tortillas. It was alright. Nothing to write home about. The addition of cheese helped in the taste, but it didn't hit the spot like I thought it was. I only had one tortilla left (I just realized I was calling them quesadillas before and I have no idea why) so I had extra filling with no cheese left over. Unfortunately I had to toss the rest in the garbage. I have been really good about finishing off my food at each meal, but this time I just couldn't cut it. The lo mean noodles was a hit and I might grab those for the future. I finished off the sleeve of Oreos (7 of them) with a cup of hot chocolate. The dinner as a whole was a pleasant change from the norm, but I would only give it maybe a 6.5 out of 10. I don't mind the simple bean and cheese wraps. Though, tonight at dinner the horse flies were beyond tolerable. They were nonstop buzzing on the back of my head. I managed to stun/kill 3 or 4 of them. My technique was to swipe them around with hat to the front of me. My bait was my Nalgene bottle. They eventually would land on the top and zing! I whipped my hat at em to instantly stun them. It probably doesn't help that my hair hasn't been thoroughly washed in almost a week and I smell in general. Oh well! They are only a nuisance when I am sitting at my picnic table. Running and moving around the campsite, I am fine. The Valley View School finally made it the campsite at about 8pm. A little late, but no worries. I showed them to sites #1-3 and got them situated. I spoke briefly with one of the staff members, Brendan, and he asked me for a wakeup call at 7:30am in order to be up when John would come to talk to thematic 8am. I retreated back to my tent and the weather channel (on my radio) said it was only gonna get down to the low 70s. Yesssss! Sleeping outside the sleeping bag tonight. 

Summary: Best run in the trails so far. Course record of 16:50 from the bridge back to my campsite and an overall time of 77:40 for the 12 mile run. It wasn't definitely humid, but I was hydrated enough to not let it affect me. Monday is the bridge pack out with the district at about 9am, then back to Plymouth.

July 18th: Woke up at 6:45am. I made the normal breakfast before heading down to the end of the campsite to wake up Brendan. I cleaned the bathrooms at about 7:20 to make some noise to indirectly wake up Valley View guys and to make the bathrooms look extra presentable for the district. My wakeup call was basically standing over Brendan somewhat creepily until he creaked open his eyes to see me smiling at him. The rest of the guys emerged from the tents and I waited for John at my tent site. The rest of the district arrived around 9:30am for the big bridge pack out. It was funny to hear the banter between the employees. They usually are "professional" around me, but they knocked it down a notch. Someone was joking to John about whether they could bring a cooler past The Wilderness gate if they took off the wheels (there are no wheeled vehicles in The Wilderness). Another employee responded with only if the wheels are square. Once everyone was situated with packs, we dispersed into a couple groups and I hiked up to our destination with Ryan Toomey. We talked the whole way up about running including the road race the upcoming weekend in Plymouth. It made the hike go by super fast. Once we trekked the 2.6 miles, I loaded up with about 30-35 pounds of various pieces of metal such as rusty bolts and others. Ow! My shoulders and lower back were definitely feeling it by the time I got back to the trucks. I destroyed food once I got back. Twirlers, homemade chocolate chip and pecan cookies, shortbread cookies, and watermelon. Mm mm good! The return hike was accompanied with Ryan and Josh from the trail crew. Ryan is 29 and I would of never guessed. I thought he was maybe 24 or 25. He is real nice. After stuffing my face, I drove down with John and some other employees. I stopped off at LaHout's to see if they had any trail shoes. The salesgirl showed me some Underarmour shoes and some other non-trail shoes. She then told me that any running shoe would work with "less of a smooth bottom." i was polite and listened to my options before peacing out immediately aafterward. Quick drive back to Plymouth with a stop at HQ to retrieve my birth certificate. Finished up the paperwork for my landscaping (horticulturist) job at PSU. Stopped in town to try another store for trail shoes. This guy was a little more educated with the trail shoe world, but still giving me the salesman BS. He showed me some more legit options, but still not even close what I was looking for. The brands included New Balance, The North Face, Vasque and Merrell. I tried making some real conversation and explain to him that my foot is sorta picky. I mentioned that I am pretty loyal to Nike and he steered me towards the New Balance. He stated that the New Balance would be similar fit to the Nikes. Ha! Wide and bulky. That's exactly what I want. I tried the pair of Vasques on and wasn't happy. I went on my way to Cicerio's to use the wifi. FaceTimed with Tim and relaxed the rest of night with a ridiculously easy run or jog. Pasta and canned chicken for dinner. Prepared my lunch for my first day of work tomorrow. Double decker PBJ and an apple sauce. I froze half the Nalgene bottles, one with water and the other Gatorade.

Summary: Mapped out my run because I just went out and back down Reservoir Road without a watch on my wrist. Ended up being 4.5 miles and at a easy pace. I wanted to get in as many runs into before my race on Saturday, the 23rd. This week will be tough with work 7-3:30. I plan on waking up Tuesday to get in a couple miles before work and run again after.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Productive Weekend Part 2

July 16th: Woke up at 12:20am, 1:40am, 6:00am and finally got myself out of bed at 6:40am. Not a great night sleep. Reasons being I am still getting used to going to bed before 10pm, there was a crawling sound (I guess that's how I would put it) next to my ear because it sounded like a mouse was inside my mattress, and then my alarm was set for 6am (not too realistic). In addition, I think I was almost expecting a bear to enter my tent site. It didn't. Made breakfast, oatmeal with raisins (nothing changed). Now I do bring 8-9 packets of oatmeal for my 3 breakfasts because I have 3 each morning and 2 usually on Monday. Made a round to check on the campsite and use the latrine. It's clockwork every morning. As soon as I wake up, I have to almost always use the bathroom and sometimes it's somewhat urgent. The walk is only a 2-3 minute walk. I have not had to pull off on my way there because it's been that urgent. Everyone was sleeping when I made my first round at 7:30ish. Made another round at 8:10 and noticed some people hiked in late the night before. I got chatting to Gavin and Kevin from site #15 and they were really supportive of my caretaking position and how it is a perfect experience with my major. Made me feel pretty good about myself so I left there standing a little bit taller. Waited for John and Giff to haul in some volunteers helping out with the bridge pack out. They pulled up at about 9:30 and John said I could go on patrol. We decided on the Lincoln Brook Trail and summiting Owl's Head because I hadn't done it before. It was a killing two birds with one stone, familiarizing myself with the trail and patrolling at the same time. Nice! I timed myself pretty accurately this time around and covered ground at a brisk pace. 
Trip details:
10:00 Wade stream and make it to Franconia Brook/Bondcliff junction
31:17 1.7 miles to the Lincoln Brook junction
70:02 3.4 miles to the base of Owl's Slide, passed two older guys that were doing Owl's head as well. Passed them almost immediately after chatting a bit
56:15 1.1 miles to reach summit up a legit rockslide and major blowdowns towards the top. Saw a snake. Almost got lost in the last 10 minutes before the summit. Luckily there was a group that had left the summit to direct me. One woman goes jokingly "Oh, a real life ranger to save us!" when she spotted me in my uniform.
31:57 Relaxed and ate lunch on summit with large family/friends. Great bunch and learned that some of them (woman included) had chaffing on their nipples. I said I understood because I am a runner. One of the moms was truly interested on what I was doing for the summer and my next step in life. We were able to snap each other's photographs for proof we conquered Owl's head.
46:07 Returned to base of slide. On my way down, saw the guys I passed earlier in the hike heading up to the summit. They still had another 45+ minutes to go. They also had 35-40 pound packs on, but they ditched them at the bottom of the slide. Chatted with this guy for the last 15 minutes of my descent. He was grateful for the wonderful conversation that we had and that I returned him safely to his group.
62:59 3.4 miles with minimal stopping only to literally dunk my head in the river crossings. It was beyond refreshing. 
28:56 1.7 miles back to bridge
9:24 Made it back to my campsite where I pounded water because I kinda needed it. I finished my one Nalgene I had at the summit. Should I brought my water filter. 
As I was returning, John radioed to me that he issued a warning to site #12 for improper food storage. And #12 belonged to boy scouts. Very surprising. Took a dip in the range pool. Ahh, refreshing! Stayed in for 12 minutes because my legs were a bit toast after 12.5 miles of some serious hiking. Laid out in the sun for 10 minutes to dry off and warm up. Changed up once I got back to make some rounds. Two couples (the late night arrivals) were totally chill and we talked a lot about job opportunities and what my responsibilities were as a caretaker.they thought it was a pretty sweet gig for the summer. I vouched for them. It is. The boy scout troop (the criminals) caught some brookies in the river. They were cooking em up for dinner. A kid, Dillan, came passing through looking for a place to set up camp. He ended up just heading up the trail a ways and set up in The Wilderness. He was just looking for a night of solitude away from the busy life in Maine. He was a super genuinely nice person all around. Reminded me of a Brian Pennarola. A young couple arrived while I was preparing my classic dinner of refried beans and cheese wraps. After I informed them the site is free and we have openings, they jumped on the opportunity and set up at site #15 (previous left in the afternoon because they had to get back for one of their parents anniversaries). I had some extra quesadillas to work with because I was having the newly acquired lo mein noodles to next night. I thought it would be smart to use 3 quesadillas for the 1 can of refried beans. I added a little water to the beans because my new Coleman stove was a diesel (not the type of fuel it burns, but how powerful it is) cooker. The heat output was huge and I almost ended up burning my beans. The water helped, yet it made for less of a paste and more of a yogurt consistency. So my 3 quesadilla idea didn't work out and still had too much fill by the last one. Oh well. Learn from your mistakes. Relaxed for the rest of the night with a final round and a final latrine stop. Woohoo! Made it in my tent by 8:30pm where I read a chapter in Born to Run and played a card game my sister, Sarah, showed me. I haven't won yet. I eventually will. Sunday is dedicated to finishing filling in the tent pad and the run to Franconia Falls and back. Shooting for a new course record for the final 2.7 miles. Watch out!

Summary: Solid day of cross training. I was gonna shakeout a bit after the hike, but felt like I shouldn't overdo it. My legs were throbbing at dinner while I was just sitting at my picnic table. So I definitely got a workout in. Weekend is turning out to be an enjoyable one. One of the best ones yet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Productive Weekend Part 1

July 15: Woke up at 6:00am and rushed around a little bit to gather up my things for the weekend. Ate 2 bowls of Apple Dapples while icing the calf. Stopped off at HQ to meet with John and Justin. Called Kimber on the way, which is always a highlight of my day :) Had a meeting with Tom Giles, John and Justin on Bear Hazing (Job Hazard Assessment) and will be trained as a level 1 bear hazer. Tom presented me with an airhorn. Cool! I definitely felt more comfortable after the meeting. Though, I cannot haze a bear until I am officially trained by Clara. Drove to Lincoln Woods parking lot. Jim supplied me with some latrine essentials like toilet paper and paper towel. Waited for Justin and John to arrive and we all drove up together in the truck. As soon as we arrived, I dropped off my stuff and we got to work on the first tent pad (natural tent platform, basically a huge sandbox). Way more manual labor than I thought and we had three people working on it. The following steps were taken to complete the first one. 1. Plan which sites needed them the most. 2. Scope out the sites and check availability 3. Find trees suitable (length and diameter) 4. Cut with chainsaw (and the notches at the ends for interlocking capabilities) 5. Sheer away bark to leave it naked (or hack away with an axe if dead and dry (not freshly cut) 6. Set half of logs into the ground by digging away at ground. 7. Once in place, hammer 10 inch spikes into the 4 corners. 8. Wheelbarrow mad heavy gravel/sand mix 9. More wheelbarrowing because it takes a lot to fill up a 10x10 square about 4-5 inches deep) 10. Rake evenly (do not compact because it will be as attendants occupy it each time in the near future) Done. We worked from 9:30-2:30 with a 1/2 hour for lunch. Worth it because with the addition of just one, it makes the campsite look that much better. Imagine once all of the tent pads are able to be constructed. I realize now that this will be an ongoing project for the next year or so because of the necessary availability of resources (people and time). None the less, I am excited to be a part of it and do what I can to help make it happen. Relaxed after all the intense work in order to run at about 3:30. Leisurely run up the East Side Trail to the Cedar Brook Trail. I get to admire my recently updated sign and post, which is always a plus. Got back and took a dip in the ranger pool. Brought a Clif Bar for some instant protein. I had a 10 year old (or so, I am not very good at judging age of the youngsters) girl wave to me as I was sitting a rock in the middle of the river. Sorta weird and cute at the same time. I think she was crushing because she did so the next few days. Jogged back to the campsite, changed up to make a round to the rest of the sites to see what kinds of people I had that night. I had a whole mess of people. A boycott troop from earlier in the week at the group site, a guy and his dog, a family from the Washington DC area (the daughter and her husband or right here in NH (parents), a big ole family outing that included 6 kids (2 families total, the site right below mine; lucky me), an older guy just sneaking away from the commotion of the real world, a couple who were in The Whites for the first time (default suggestion of hiking to Bondcliff because of the ridiculous views), and two other boy scout troops. As I fetched some water with my 5 gallon bucket (to be filtered after with a gravity filter), I got chatting with the guys from site #15. They were all best friends and were definitely some nice people. We talked for a bit about running and some suggested hiking routes for them. I ended up visiting them again that night because they were the type that wanted to converse and not shun the caretaker (I like these types). They offered me some Portuguese sausage (delicious) and gave me some lo mein noodles with teriyaki sauce along with a couple things of peanut butter crackers. Can't complain about that. THIS is why I like these types of people. They usually are accompanied with food offerings or at least a decent real conversation. Before visiting site #15, I prepared the usual refried beans and cheese wraps with Oreos for dessert. As I made my final latrine stop and last round to make sure all campers weren't doing nothing stupid, I got caught up with site #15, which wasn't a problem until darkness fell. I had to brush my teeth in the pitch black. I don't say this for foreshadowing of anything. I just note that I am almost always back in my tent before 8:30 and now I make sure because of the recent bear incident. This night was an exception.

Summary: A definite recover pace 8+ miles (62:14) after the workout yesterday (sometimes tough to phrase these posts because I know it was technically last Thursday, but whatever). A run that involved mostly flat terrain with some minor blowdowns to jump over or crawl through. Made for an adventurous run. My plan for Saturday was to run the classic horseshoe run out to Franconia Falls and back, but will change to a patrol hike to Owl's head (one of the 4,000 footers).

Thursday, July 14, 2011


July 14: Woke up around 815. Used the bathroom. Stepped back into my room to hear my phone ringing. Unknown number. I questionably answer the call and to my surprise, it's Steve Sweedler the landscaper of PSU. He informs me that I can start on Tuesday and the job is through September 1st. Ca-chang! 8 hours a day (7-3:30) and 3 days a week. Pow! That's how you start a day off right. I called Amy the receptionist at 9am to schedule when I could come in to fill out the paperwork. I get ready for my run and head out for a relaxing morning jog. I get back, ice and eat Apple Dapples at the same time, shower up and head over to the grounds building to finalize the paperwork for my brand spankin' new job. Amy did let me know that morning that I needed my birth certificate or my SS card. I have neither (of course) so my mom is overnighting my birth certificate to US Forest Service Headquarters addressed to John Marunowski. Everything went smoothly and I head over to HQ after to use one of the computers for some word processing. I called John inquire about two things, if I could use a computer to update my resume and if my mom could send my BC to his address. Once I arrived there, John had to leave to grab gravel with the safety guy, Ryan, for the tent platforms up at my campsite. I stayed at HQ for about 2 hours doing some job searching and revising my resume. I printed it out for myself, emailed it to a couple people and mocked up a campsite occupancy spreadsheet to keep tally each weekend of the number of people that use it along with some details of their itinerary and whether they are a group or not (6-10 people classify as a group, you cannot have more than 10 in a group when hiking). Before I left, I snatched a couple rolls of toilet paper and paper towel in the warehouse. Dick helped me out with that since he's got one of the two keys to the cage (a bunch of areas fenced off in a building, kinda like KSC's locker room). I was on my way back to the bunkhouse to mow the lawn before heading out for a second run. Mowed from about 2:45-4. A guy stopped by asking about the house and whether it was for sale. We chatted a bit. He works for NH Fish and Wildlife. I jokingly asked if there were job openings for the fall and he responded with a guy actually leaving to go back to school to be a veterinarian. I politely asked for some contact information and he hooked me up. Sa-weet! I finished mowing the lawn and headed inside. I had about an hour or so to kill before my run so I took advantage of it by making my PBJs for the weekend. Fueled up with the end piece of the loaf topped with a scoop of PB and a dollop of jelly (yeah I used that word). My planned run for the evening was a mini workout on the 5k course for next week since it's only 2 miles away from the bunkhouse. Everything went accordingly and cruised through the workout. After the cooldown, I did some strides on Smith Street (side road 30 seconds down from the bunkhouse), protein shaked it up, devoured a balance bar, foam rolled, iced and a nice hot shower. Made the classic waffle dinner with some homemade strawberry jam and pure maple syrup. Mmmm! The rest of the night is being spent downtown using the free wifi to Skype and surf the net. Ready for a beautiful weather weekend up at Franconia Brook.

Summary: Probably the most productive day all around. The workout was a 2 mile warmup (14:10), 3 mile workout (1 min on, 1 min off), 2 mile cooldown (13:40, 6:40 last uphill mile), 6x100 strides. Rocked the calf sleeves for the whole thing. I ended up doing 7 minute on's, which got me to 13:00. Rest until 14:00 and brought home the last 1/2 mile in sub 2:30. I can't say 2:21 because I forgot to split my watch. Total time: 16:21. I was happy. Didn't have any expectations heading in. Basically to dip under 5:30 pace. First mile was 5:36 and overall pace was 5:27. Negative splited which is always a good thing. As I finished, Ryan (safety guy of WMNF) was there at the finish about to do some grass field intervals. We went our separate ways after a brief conversation. He's doing the 10k next Saturday and I'm doing the 5k. And the 10k. Hot Damn! Should be a exciting morning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rest of the Weekend and More

July 11: Woke up around 645am and had a list of things to complete before I left the campsite. I needed to replace another sign across the river, have John show me how to do some campsite monitoring, clean out some of the sites at my campsite, write out the individual bear incident reports, and plot each site into the GPS. I made a quick breakfast of oatmeal (this time I added a container of applesauce to it to add some much needed flavor) and was on my way across the river. Everything went smoothly and John radioed to me that a boyscout troop was hiking up to the campsite around 930. I was back in time and did my little introduction to the campsite. There were a bunch 10-12 year old boys with a couple troop leaders standing in front me. I didn't say anything about the recent bear activity because that probably wasn't a smart thing to do. I did advise them to put everything that has a strong scent into the communal bearbox. The troop is using my campsite as a base camp and helping us Wednesday (today technically) with the bridge pack out. I will see them again on Friday morning because they are at my campsite until Saturday morning. John and I navigated towards a couple illegal campsites that were points on the GPS. We actually crossed the river without needing to remove our boots. Once we reached the sites, we measured the square footage to see if they were staying active (recently used or getting larger) or revegetating. One of the sites we checked out had a ring of rocks for a fire pit. It was interesting to see these sites that were randomly in the woods, but too close to river. John dispersed the fire ring and we navigated to another site that was on the island right near my campsite. After that, John headed to the ranger pool to cool off and I continued plotting the sites of my campsite into the GPS. I started to become frustrated with the piece of technology because the sites are so close together and the GPS only is so accurate within a certain amount of feet. After plotting site #14 and would walk 20 feet to site #13, the GPS would show me on the wrong side of site #14. I tried my best, but had to stop because it was giving me a headache. I will need to talk to John this weekend about when we head up Friday with Justin (John's new boss and with a speciality in campsite layout) and begin to cut up some of the trees for the natural tent platforms (either 10x10 or 10x12 so 1 or 2 tents can fit on the platform). To my surprise, there was a whole another boyscout troop (about the same ages) that arrived at my campsite. I was almost glad I wasn't gonna be at the campsite during the week, but at the same time I will have to come back to a possible disaster. We will see. It was now 1:30 and the long weekend was hitting me hard. I took a 20 minute power nap in my tent before pushing through the last hour of work. I checked out some of the sites and dismantled a homemade lawn chair at site #12. The materials used were the recently cut down trees and some hacked into smaller pieces. It was assembled last weekend at some point and I missed the people that were responsible for the work. I thought I just had to inform people to not torch the cutdown trees, but I might need to add to "not construct furniture with them." I see it all and more. I biked down around 3 with my 30 pound pack on my back. I have done these a few times now. I would like to mention that the trail is almost all flat or downhill on the way to the parking lot with the exception of two decent uphills that can kill your momentum. It does not help that I have an additional 30 pounds on my back. Everyone knows that uphills can be difficult on a bike (I would rather run uphill than bike, but that's just me). Now imagine a small child jumping on your back and throwing a tantrum so it is swaying left and right on your back. This is sorta what it feels like when I need to make the two small, yet annoying, climbs on my trip down. It sure does beat hiking down though. It takes me a quarter of the time to bike down compared to hiking and way easier on my legs. Also, it keeps me motivated to stay in shape and not gain an extra 20 to 30 pounds because the extra weight kills my butt when I sit on the seat. I cannot imagine suddenly waking up and having a huge gut. With that said, I plan on running for as long as I can. 
Arrived in Plymouth and showered up before meeting up with Justin Carbee for dinner and beer at around 545. We caught up on everything and had some laughs. It was nice to see somebody I knew while just chilling in Plymouth. We might make it a normal Monday date night. He dropped me off and I relaxed for the rest of the night before heading to bed.

Summary: An enjoyable day off and a delicious dinner at the Common Man in Plymouth. We both got burgers and a Common Man Ale. My burger had BBQ, caramelized onions and some cheese. Hit the spot wolfing down some real food. Though, the other week I was reading all the nutrition facts on my camping food at the bunkhouse and I realize I eat healthier at the campsite. Between the refried beans, Clif Bars, beef jerky, oatmeal, and PBJs, I am getting over 100% of the recommended iron each day. As a runner, this is the most important thing I look at. I only take a multivitamin during the weekends, but add in an iron supplement during the weekdays in Plymouth. This is because I mostly eat cereal and Bisquick based breakfast items for meals with occasional chicken or vegetables. I do need to focus more on the nutrition while I am at the bunkhouse. This week will have a long run and some double runs with strides.

July 12: Double run with a bunch of relaxing in between because of the heat. Read some Born to Run. Attempted to meet with Steve Sweedler, the landscaper of PSU, but he was on lunch break. I was gonna do laundry, but I felt I didn't need to yet. Stopped at Hannaford's for some jelly and milk. After my second run, I made a protein shake and foam rolled (foam roller is a lifesaver). Showered up and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Summary: 7 miles in the morning (48:38) 7.5 in the PM (47:42) 6:10 for the last uphill (less steep) mile. It helps that it goes through town and along the PSU campus. Jogged to the football fields for 8x100 strides with a couple plyometric drills (high knees, buttkicks, and goosenecks). 16.5 for the day and a solid start to the week.

July 13: Made it a point to wake up at 645am to get out the door for the long run by 730. I fueled up with some Gatorade, a few peanut m&ms, a single packet of instant oatmeal with a scoop of nutella and some water. I brought my second half of my lemon-lime Gu packet from last week. I did the exact same long run loop I found 2 weeks ago. Since I knew the course, I ran it with more confidence and cut off almost 5 minutes off my time. Got back and saw John driving by with kayaks on his roof in the final 100 meters of my run. I waved and finished up. I walked it off, pounded some Gatorade, ate a balance bar, and foam rolled. I iced up the right calf because its a little tender. I did wear my calf sleeves for the run, which does wonder for recovery the following hours and next few days. Once I showered up, I meet with Steve Sweedler, but unfortunately he said there are budget issues so job opportunity won't happen any time in the next couple weeks. Bummer! Oh well. Stopped off in town to my favorite spot, in front of Cicerio's cafe. Checked up on some things and was on my way. The remainder of the day will be filled with napping, laundry and dinner.

Summary: Tough, but rewarding long run as usual. 18.5 (2:03:19). Calculates out to 6:40 pace, which is exciting. Last uphill mile (the same as yesterday) was only 6:47 cuz I was bonking a little for the last few miles. I don't think it helps that the first 12-13 miles is such a fun run and the last 5+ are along route 3 and I need to run on the side of the road. The middle 7 miles are on a dirt road where I can cruise right down the middle. I was 4-time town line champ (uncontested) and had about 8 dogs bark at me along the way. Most were in a house or did not leave the front porch. Of course, one of them came rushing through the front yard at about 4.5 miles and I had to yell "No!" in order for it to stop immediately. I am lucky it was obedient, but it looked like a murderer. It was a boxer pit bull mix I believe. The next dog lunged out at me along route 3 at about 15 miles. I didn't even see the friggin thing until the last second. The house was close to the road and I was in the zone. For some reason, I glaze down to see a pug (but darker hair, I only saw the thing for maybe a second so I don't know what exactly it was) right at my ankles snarling before I juke right and scream with my arm out "No! No! No!" with more a nervous tone in my voice. The dog stopped too. Wow, two obedient dogs on one run. Phew! Though, I did jump into the road for a moment before regaining my spot along the white line. Good thing a car wasn't flying around the turn. Somebody is watching over me. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Four weekends down Part III

July 10: Woke up around 645am and we got ready to see if there was any damage. Kimber joked for a second that it will look exactly the same as it did last night with maybe a few scratches. Nope. The bearbox was no longer on the wooden platform, but about 20 feet away from its original position. Siiiick! Since we didn't see the bear, it seemed as though it was a fairly hefty bear with some definite power. The bearbox is at least 75 pounds and possibly as much as 100 pounds. Kimber and I documented everything with our cameras and was greeted by John soon after. We started to laugh when we saw him and he wasn't sure why because he hadn't seen the bearbox's new location. We told him the brief story about it and made a trip to the communal bearbox to check if there was any damage. Nothing. Though, the campers down below at campsites #16-19 heard the commotion and one of the guys speculated that it might of just been a determined family of raccoons. Haha. John didn't stay long because he had to go on patrol up the East Side Trail along the river. Kimber and I made breakfast and made some rounds before meeting with John at the junction of the East Side Trail and Cedar Brook Trail. 
While we were on our rounds, we found out some serious information about the bear incident. From the times people heard the bear, it started at the beginning on the campsite at my bearbox. The campsite directly across from mine slept right through it all. He said he usually takes a Tylenol PM the first night of camping/hiking. His cookware that he left at the fire pit was knocked over. The next group was the family that moved from the illegal site to the site right next to the bearbox. They heard it try and get into that. In addition, they were using the fire pit at the neighboring site when the wife saw the eyes in the dark. The bear had shredded a bag that at one time had food in it. The final encountering with the bear was the two guys with their sons at campsite #3 (the site where they hung their food bag and used me as a reference for height). The two guys were relaxing at the fire, done with cooking, when they heard a loud thud from behind their tent. One of the guys put his headlamp on and checked to see what was at the tier below their site. This is when he realized it was a bear. He raised his arms up and made loud noises to have the bear run off into the distance. They showed me the exact spot where the bear was. They said that it must of stood up on the log and attempted to swat at the food bag. The bear did not reach the food bag and fell off the log. A large swipe of leaves was gone where the paw had landed on the ground. The guys described the bear as a large 300+ pound black bear. They had seen it both from the front and backside. After hearing their description, I was happy to not have left the tent the previous night. I have pictures of everything, but haven't been able to post anything yet. I will try to this week or next week. Once we were done with this, we headed up the junction with a shovel and one of the new signs.
We needed to replace the sign as well as the post. The sign because some of the trails were renamed due to the removal of the suspension bridge. The post because it was old and a 4x4. We are trying to get closer to the requirements for The Wilderness, which states the minimal impact of man and absence of man-made structures. First, we removed the post from the ground. The procedure was similar to that of the campsite posts. Though, this time it required some major man power (and woman power). First, we looked for a softwood that was of the right diameter for the new post. Once we found one, we cut it down and brought it over to the signage area. Next, I used an axe to sheer off the bark and make the tree trunk "naked," in the words of John. I used mostly the axe for this part, but had to peel any remaining bark off with our hands. Next, we manually put one of the two signs on the post. I put the large bolts in the post with a ratchet. I did all four bolts and my forearms are massive now. We put the other sign up that pointed to the East Side Trail. Finally, we put the 8 foot post into the ground after digging a 2 foot deep hole. Since I was the master of placing rocks around the post for stability, I was responsible for that. We naturalized the base of the post so it didn't look like it was just replaced. Once we were done, we had to carry the old post with the sign back to the campsite, 2.2 miles away. John took the first 8-10 minutes or so until he took a digger. It shook him up a bit so I took over for the next 10 minutes until we both carried it the post together (which was way easier and still a great workout for my forearms). We stopped after a stream crossing to snack on some food and rest for the last mile of the hike. We did see a trail runner that was pretty chill and was talking about some part of the trail that he missed at about 9.3 miles out. It was sweet to see another runner on the trail and running over 15 miles. He seemed pretty extreme, but totally a trail runner. He was decked out in all the right gear such as the trail shoes, the higher socks, and a camelback. Once we got back, John headed out right away. Kimber and I organized her stuff while waiting for my mom and Katie to arrive at the campsite. They arrived not too long after we did at about 330pm and we sat them down so they could read the bear incident report together. They freaked. My mom wanted me to take Katie's knife even though I had my own. She said it was so I could have one for my left hand. I replied with that I am not on planning on killing a bear. The multiple stabs I would give it (if I could get more than one in before it swung at me and brought me to the ground with ease) would only aggravate it more. I decided against it and believed that I will be okay for the night. The bear was not feed so it does not plan on coming back to struggle with bearbox again. The gang didn't stay too long because they had a long trip back to Connecticut that night. We said our goodbyes and it was tougher than I thought to see them hike away from my campsite. I honestly got pretty sad. Also, as soon as they were out of sight, I was on edge for the rest of the evening. I tidied up a bit around the campsite and headed out for a run at 5pm. Each turn I took, my eyes were wide open to make sure I didn't catch any bears off guard in the middle of the trail. That's when they become defensive and are aggressive. I did not see any bears or much of any wildlife on my run. Just some red squirrels and the sounds of the birds. I did get a course record for the final 2+ miles of my run. The best I have done was 13:10, I cruised in at 12:43. I think it was the fact that I heard my watch beep 6pm towards the end of my run and I was thinking to myself (what a wonderful world, not really) I only have like 2 hours until it starts becoming dark. As soon as I finished my run, I grabbed my towel and ran to the ranger pool. My body was still warm from the run so the water was much more refreshing and didn't put my body into shock. I got out, ran back (I always walk back), prepared dinner, ate dessert, cleaned up, made one final round, and I was in my tent by 815. I did have one guy swing by my site and we talked for a bit. I saw him relaxing on an inflatable raft when I ran past the ranger pool. He said it doubles as a floating device and a sleeping mat. Can't blame him. He revealed a lot about his life such as that he is hoping to meet some women in Manchester this upcoming week because he is now post marriage and he is a substitute teacher. Through all of his talk, he used psh! And uhhhh! quite a few times. But he was chill and super tan with a little bit of gut. I know this because he came over wearing cutoff jean shorts and no shirt on. Maybe that is another reason I locked up and was in my sleeping bag so early. My mom gave me some Benadryl so I would sleep soundly. I took one at 8. I wrote in my journal, updated my blog, reviewed the bear incident reports, read a chapter in Born to Run, and threw on my headphones to my sleep playlist. I don't even remember the first song that came on. I was out for the night before 9. While I was doing my bedtime rituals, I was almost expecting the awful sound of a ginormous bear smashing down on my bearbox. It didn't happen. I was prepared for one with a broom (noise maker against metal poles), my knife, a hammer, and my radio (another noise maker and possible communication for help). 

Summary: A productive day overall with a 10+ mile day (74:00) and 70+ for the week. With the bear incident, it just helps me realize that I am not the only one in the wilderness and I need to respect the other life that inhabits it. The bear only smelt food and was hungry. I cannot blame it that it found my bearbox with tons of food and remnants of food (trash). It is not the bear's fault. A solid weekend with one more day of work still to follow and a day off from running.

Four weekends down Part II

I am unfolding the details of the story and the weekend little by little because it was a pretty big one.

July 9: Woke up at 650am. Katie and my mom got ready for their hike to Guyot Campsite. We all ate breakfast together. Everyone just so happened to have apple and cinnamon oatmeal. Weird! But not that weird. I ate almost 4 packets cuz I'm fat. AKA a growing boy with an appetite at all times of the day and night. Mom and Katie started up there journey at 745am by wading the river at the end of my campsite. Kimber and I watched as they made their way across barefoot with their boots tied over their shoulders. We headed back to my tent site to organize and get our daypacks ready. We started up our hike at about 930 because we only had to go to 13 Falls Campsite and back (10+ mile round trip). We started our hike by crossing the river as well. We found some solid branches for poles to help with our balance and stability. Didn't need a wet pack or wet clothes to start off a 5+ hour hike. Since it was Kimber's first hike in the White Mountains, our hike out was relaxing and we stopped for some photo taking (and video) opportunities. We passed through this swampish area with dozens of dragonflies all around us. It was a prime opportunity to take a video to capture the realness of it all. We crossed some streams, which Kimber was hesitate at times (just not confident in crossing). We reached 13 Falls in about 3 hours. We meet the caretaker Scott and asked if I could use some toilet paper for the composting outhouse. He does care taking through the AMC so he is actually paid for his time there (8 hours a day). His schedule is 11 days on, 4 days off, 10 days on, 3 days off. He hikes in his food for the entire span he is at the campsite since it is more backcountry than my campsite. Kimber and I ate lunch at the Falls. I managed to eat a PBJ, a Clif Bar and a thing of applesauce as Kimber just finished her PBJ. I know, it's sick how fast I eat sometimes. I inhale. We explored the area at the Falls, where I soaked my feet and Kimber snapped some pictures and captured the scenery on video. We motored on the way back, making it back in about 2.5 hours with the stream crossing. The 3 hours out did NOT include the 20 minutes for finding walking sticks and the river crossing. On the way there and back, we played the alphabet game where you state "Hi my name is Al, my wife's name is Albatross, we live in Arkansas, and we sell anchors." We got pretty creative with the names, the items we sell, and the accents we made up. Then, I began quoting Mrs. Doubtfire. "My name is Job, my name is Job, my name is Job." Or "Oooo, shake it off like a wet dog." As soon as we got back, we unpacked any food or garbage into the bearbox (again important as I will explain rather soon). We took a dip in the ranger pool, which wasn't right after the hike so we didn't warm up right away. After cuddling in our sleeping bags, we got up to get the blooding moving. I made some rounds while Kimber read "Born to Run" (amazing book, keeps me motivated in my running). I did have to speak with a group of campers that we technically camping in a no camping area (it was a former campsite that was no longer in use because of poor drainage and being too close to the water). Luckily, they were very nice about and moved up to tent site #15. As I was walking back after advising them to move, I chatted with the guys at site #3 and they had hung their food bag. I was the reference to see whether it was high enough (at least 10 feet high, and 4 feet away from the trunk of the tree). Nice campers for the night. Dinner went smoothly. I had the classic refried beans with cheese wraps and Kimber had a box of lentil soup that turned out to not as delicious as she hoped. We cleaned up, had some Oreos with nutella and m&ms. I made one last round through the campsites and to the bathroom before winding down in the tent at about 9:00pm. 

As we begin to doze off in the tent, Kimber sits up from her sleeping bag and says "What was that?!" I sit up and hear the same noise again. It sounds as someone has leaped onto the bearbox that is approximately 70 feet from my tent and sitting on a wooden platform. We immediately realize it's a bear trying to get into the bearbox. We rip out of our sleeping bags and get behind the mattress to crouch down as if that is a safer place. I zip up the tent and hope to God that it does not catch the bear's attention. For the next 15-20 minutes seems almost a blur now that I try to recall the moment. I will do my best to remember. I basically dictate every move we do with a faint whispering voice. Both Kimber and I are now shaking uncontrollably at the legs and hands from the rattling of the bearbox. I cannot explain the noise to anyone. I should have recorded, but that was the least of my worries. The safety and comfort of Kimber was my number one priority. Some of the things that were whispered by Kimber were "Eric, I don't know how to climb a tree" and "Do you think it's okay that my Nalgene bottle is in here?" Some of the statements I had were "I don't think there is a shortage of water for the bear with the river right down there" and "I'm gonna turn the headlamp on now" and for comfort "There's nothing in the tent that the bear wants in here. We have been very careful with cooking and eating away from the tent." These aren't necessarily direct quotes, but pretty darn close. In the back of my mind was just don't be attracted towards the tent for any reason. The bashing of metal against metal seemed to never end and once it did, it was almost more frightening. Where is the bear now? Am I gonna hear starching of canvas and tarp? My tent is made out solely out of those two materials. The decision of staying quiet and still in the tent was an option out of two. The second option that had a .01% chance of happening was me exiting my tent (Ha!) and deterring the bear from my tent site with loud noises and making myself appear bigger with my arms over my head. Since I knew the bear was clearly hungry and wanted my nutella and beef jerky (and I am a 5-8 lengthy 130lb distance runner with minimal body fat), I went with the hiding in complete fear with my girlfriend. Once it seemed to fail to enter the bearbox, we regained our saneness by pushing the bedframe and mattress away from the side of the tent towards the middle of the tent. We crawled into our sleeping bags, now both on the mattress (original plan was Kimber on the floor on a Thermarest, me on the mattress, Kimber wanted to truly rough it in the outdoors). As we laid there for a few seconds, I came to the realization that we will probably be tossing and turning all night. This would lead to us falling off the mattress and come crashing to the wooden planks 2 feet below. We took the mattress off the box spring and placed it between the bed frame and the metal storage box I have in my tent (not for food, for handouts and papers). It was a perfect fit and we felt surrounded by barriers that might slow down the bear if he or she decides to return for human flesh. To top it all off, I took the lock off my other wooden storage box and "locked" us in the tent. I don't think it would stop a bear paw with claws (especially since it might not use the door), but it was reassuring somewhat. All said and done, I actually had the best night sleep since I've been up at the campsite because I had a dream that the bear was actually my friend, Andrew Sears, dressed up in a bear suit. It wasn't comical in my dream (I got mad at him and knocked his bear head off the dam we were chillin at, don't ask, dreams don't make sense most of the time) but made for a soothing night's sleep. 

Summary: The most eventful day yet. A spectacular hike to 13 Falls for the day off of running. The bear mishap will make for a thrilling story for the next few months or years (or until the next bear incident). I'll be ready next time with either some noise makers of some sort. As simple as two sticks or as lethal as a shotgun. Who knows? I don't. What I do know, I am so glad I was with Kimber when it happened. If my mom and sister were there, I might not be here or be writing a completely different story that ends with me fighting the bear to the death or Katie holding her breath until she passed out and us carrying her down to safety. Anything could of happened. It was intense and awesome at the same time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Four weekends down Part I

July 8: My mom had dropped off Kimber the night before in Plymouth. The anticipation of their arrival was killing me. My mom came bearing gifts like an extra pot, some Bisquick, maple syrup, a desk lamp, and some flannels. The morning went smoothly. Woke up around 630am. Kimber and I ate some Apple Dapples (store brand Applejacks). Packed everything up and started driving to the Lincoln Woods parking lot. We stopped off at Half Baked Fully Brewed so Kimber could grab a "pickmeup" and then to Hancock campground to rendezvous with my sister Katie and my mom. Touched base with them and we were off hiking up to the campsite. Took us just under an hour. We set up camp and I showed her around quickly. We ran 3 miles together and I added on before and after. Katie and my mom arrived soon after along with my boss John. We all talked for a while before John headed out and we hit up the ranger pool to cool off. We got back and I showed them around my site. I had them take all their food and toiletries out of their bags to put in my bearbox for the nighttime (this is a crucial thing to do when camping front country or backcountry). My mom made some pork tenderloin with rice, corn, and carrots on Wednesday and froze it for this occasion. It was delicious. It was so satisfying to eat a home cooked meal. We relaxed after by playing Skipbo and shoving our faces with Pepperidge Farm cookies. I think it was 45 cookies between the four of us. We demolished them by the end of the game. Katie smeared some chocolate on the cards because the cookies were a little schmelty. I made some rounds and cleaned the bathrooms before winding down for the night. I did have a woman with her family complain about the poor signage to Franconia Falls and how she thought the US Forest Service was better than that. I just shrugged it off and continued on with the night. The rest of the campers were nice and one group was having steaks for dinner (now that's how to eat). I made sure my mom knew where she was going for the next two days and figured out the estimated time for each hike. We all scrunched up in the tent together. I let my mom take the bed mattress and the rest were on the wooden platform. Day 1 of a long interesting weekend complete. 

Summary: Overall, a good day. An easy 6.5 miles (2 before, 3 with Kimber, 1.5 after) with a 3 mile hike in. It was very comforting to have everyone there in my tent for the night. Surprisingly, I did not sleep well because all of the girls kept getting up to go to the bathroom.