Stats: Hike was 4.74 miles, 2224′ elevation gain and took me 2:18:55 (about 1:30 up and 45″ down) with splits: 28:32, 42:27, 36:25 (last part at top, short rest, then down), 19:36, 12:54
As usual, I was afraid. I had decided to do my first winter hike up Mt. Tecumseh, a 4000′ peak bag close to me. The hike has one trailhead in the parking lot for the Waterville Valley ski resort, which was packed, so I had to circle to find a spot. I know I have all the gear required and pulled out the once used microspikes (confirmed to be the right gear from folks online who had hiked it the day before) and all my normal trail running stuff – food, hydration, extra clothes, headlamps, safety kit, etc….
It was a beautiful day starting in mid 50s and ending in 60s. Snow was slightly slushy/sticky and packed on the trail. This hike was all trail with no rock scrambles if you take the left path to top at the loop near the top.
After a few minutes hiking, I called Kenny stating how hard anything is in the snow (and it is) and then made the slow slog to the top. Mt Tecumseh is a pretty steady 2200′ up. My mental state:
- I often thought “Do I really love this?”
- I learned long ago on hills that it is never easy going up and then you’re fine.
- I remembered that I had done 6x this elevation in the 26 miles I ran at Killington Spartan Ultra… press on!
- I was afraid to drink thinking I didn’t bring enough water
- I was hot
- My right shoe kept slipping off my heal
- My former training kicked in and I employed the walking sideways technique and flipping directions every ten steps.
- Fear really set in during one downhill on the way up that seemed treacherous and was very very slow going. I was wondering if the downhill would take 2x as long.
I picked up a hiker near the top (as I was at least an expert on the trail having a map and studying it in advance) and helped her find the top!
Then something came over me immediately on my way down. At the summit, it was a gradual downhill so I started to run it and then I couldn’t stop. I was like a mountain goat running down that hill gaining confidence in microspikes – it was AWESOME! Best run of my adult life – a short 2-2.5 miles down. What seemed steep going up seemed very reasonable going down. I gained confidence in my side to side skills as I had learned in my hill training on Wachusett last year.
So many lessons learned from early use of new gear:
- Importance of Shoe lacing: I got a 2nd pair of Altra Lone Peak shoes this year as I loved my first pair of 4.0 (but not the color so much!). Have hated them ever since I tried them. The right heel slipped and the middle of another shoe kind of hurt my midsole, etc. The other day I went to buy a 2nd pair of the original I bought only to realize they were both the exact same model, Altra Lone Peak 4.0, which flabbergasted me. Why did they feel so different? THIS WAS THEIR LAST CHANCE!!! I loved the colors, why couldn’t they just work like the last pair! Well, it turns out the issue was lacing. I’ve heard about tricks for runner lacing, etc and had always poo-poohed the importance of lacing thinking it was just a detail some runners obsess about. I am now a believer. A mile or so up dealing with the right heel slip, I first tightened the laces…didn’t work. Then I took a look at right vs. left and realized my right shoe didn’t have the laces thru the very top lace hole and the left did. I added just that and it made all the difference – I knew after one step.
Now I’ve been reading up on lacing since I got home and will modify the top to create this “runners loop”. Best lesson ever
2. Always dress for running: It didn’t matter so much but I didn’t have my sportsbra – my back running back did its job!
3. Bring plenty of water: I thought hike might take 4-5 hours based on online reviews and only had water for 2 hours. I did this because the last few mountain hikes I hardly used it. I was worried about it all the time though. Avoid extra stress.
4. Start cooler! When you’re hiking in 50ish weather, start with a short sleeved shirt. I’ve been hot the last few hikes having even a lightweight long sleeved shirt.
5. Practice with the pole technique and straps: I ended up using skate ski technique using both poles near my shoes going up and ended up starting to feel a slight hot spot under the strap on my left hand. Need to loosen the left strap to equal the right and consider gloves for any future long runs.
6. Microspikes: They worked well today in packed, icy/slushy conditions. They did not work so well the other week when I went running in new snow locally. In that case, even with a few inches of new snow, use the running snowshoes!
7. Always be prepared when you get back to the car. I had my list and remembered the comfy slippers to wear home, the extra set of clothes, the Recoverite and water to drink right away but forgot the washrag and was sorry for that! also forgot the banana.
Overall, fantastic, fantastic day!