Today, we slack-packed from Pinkham Notch back to the White Mountains Lodge and Hostel (a section called the Wildcats). Slack-packing is where you leave most of your gear at the hostel or lodge in question, and then hike with a smaller amount of stuff – normally just food for a meal or two, and water (and a filter, jacket, etc.).
When I started the hike, I was expecting to finish in 8-10 hours, which is pretty fast. With a day-pack, I figured, I could go faster than my normal pace, even over harder terrain. The Wildcats were really tough, probably tougher than a bunch of the ridges/ranges we have done so far.
About an hour in, though, I reached a sign that said I had gone 3 miles. At that pace, I figured, I might have a shot at beating the 6 hour 47 minute record that Marni (the owner of the White Mountain Lodge) told me had been set by an ex-special forces operative.
At 2:12pm, I reached the hostel. I had started at the trailhead at 8:05am, making my total time for the 21 miles of the Wildcats 6 hours and 7 minutes. I had broken the record by a solid 40 minutes.
I didn’t set out to do it, but in the end I was able to push my body to incredible lengths to attain the record. It was screaming at me to stop for the duration of the hike, but after setting my goal of beating the record I just ignored the pain.
I would “rest” on the ups (go only 1-2 miles an hour) and run the downs (the ones that weren’t so steep that I would die if I slipped, at least). Avoiding the mud and running down steep trails with rocks and roots was tough on my muscles and knees, and now I’ll spend the rest of the day resting and recuperating. My average miles per hour was 3.43, although I went much slower than that on the uphills and much faster on the downhills. The final downhill was 5.5 miles of trail – I ran the entire way.
I’m proud of my accomplishment, though I didn’t set out to do it. Dokha – a northbounder staying here as well – has already said that he’ll sing praises of me to southbounders that he meets on his way to Katahdin. I don’t know if I quite deserve that, but it’s cool to know that people will be talking about me.
There’s a really cool post from the White Mountains Lodge and Hostel here. I can’t find a good topographical map of the ridge with a quick Google search, but look it up! There were 5 major 4000+ foot mountains, and you descend a lot after most every mountain. Lots of ups and downs!