Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green Mountain Triple Ascent

Green Mountain in Effingham, New Hampshire is one of my favorite places to run. It is only a ten minute drive from my house and I have been waiting impatiently for the trails to be free from ice so I could get a good run in there. Today was the day!

I parked my car on Rt 25 and ascended via the Highwatch Rd and then the Highwatch Trail. Highwatch Road is just a stream now, but still runnable.

The Highwatch Trail is my favorite Trail up the mountain. It has some steep technical parts and is a challenge the whole way. Normally I walk briefly about three times on the way up. BJ had put the idea in my head that I should be able to run the whole way up. He set this as his goal for this summer, which of course planted the idea in my head. So when I got to the fallen tree which was my landmark for my first walk break, I just kept running. Before I knew it, I got to the place where I usually walked a second time and I kept running!

Then I finally got to my third walk place, a slippery steep rocky technical stretch. It had some ice on it today and the rocks that were exposed were wet and slippery. But I kept running and made it to the summit without a walk break. I was almost seeing stars at the top and my breathing was at a 1 to 1 ratio, one breath in with a step and one breath out with a step. That was hard work, but I was really happy that I had run all the way up.

The summit was windy! I didn't stop at the top, I figured I'd stop on my last visit to the summit, but not until then. I ran down the Fire Warden's Trail at a good pace. This trail is mostly loose rocks, a lot like Massanutten. At the bottom I ran over the Libby Road and Hobbs Rd to the next trail head, the Dearborn Trail. Libby and Hobbs roads are unmaintained, just double track trail now.

Dearborn Trail is always covered with dry leaves. I don't know why. Even in the winter there are dry leaves on top of the ice and snow. I don't understand it. Under those dry leaves there are little stones and roots and washed out places. This is a tough trail to run on, but probably the one I would recommend for hiking with kids. It is steep in spots, but not steadily steep like the other two trails. Also it is more sheltered than the other two. But it's a bear to run up and down! I ran up this one and surprisingly, didn't walk a step of it! I tripped a few times, but didn't go down.

At the top I met up with a couple of hikers. I ran back down Dearborn and over Libby and Hobbs Rd again to the Fire Warden's Trail. I ran up Fire Warden's and of course, I couldn't walk now! I had been running the entire time without a walk break, I couldn't blow it. I finally paused at the summit since this was my third and last trip to the top today. My heart rate was at 180, pretty close to my max. It was very windy at the top, but I climbed the fire tower for the view anyway.

Then my last descent was back down the Highwatch trail. I decided I would try to catch the two hikers I had seen at the summit earlier. They had climbed Highwatch and I guessed they would descend the same way. I had the advantage of knowing I was in a race. They were just moseying along, unsuspecting. I really flew down this trail. It is dangerous in spots, but I felt pretty sure footed. BJ had done some trail maintenance there a few weeks ago and it was much appreciated. I could tell where he had left off. It made a big difference.

I got all the way down to the trail head just in time to see the hikers driving away. I waved, even though I felt like shaking my fist at them and yelling, "I'll get you next time!" Then it was a nice easy downhill slope on Highwatch Road back to my car. But my planned three hours wasn't up yet, so I ran back up and down again on the Highwatch Road adding about 2 more miles.

All told, I ran up and down each of the three trails, starting at an elevation of 400 feet and hitting the summit of 1884 feet three times. Each trail is about 1.5 miles long. I did about two miles on Hobbs and Libby Roads and another four miles on Highwatch Rd. I'm calling the run 15 miles. It might be closer to 14, I'm not sure. It took 2:56. This is by far the best I have ever done on this route. I am very happy with how my run went today!

The photos were taken on the fly! So they aren't perfect, but might give you a good idea of the varying and challenging terrain on this small mountain. What's not to love?!


  1. Great job on the run! Your training sounds like it's going awesome for Massanutten.

    Looks like a neat area, I'll have to check it out sometime.

  2. L, this sounds like a wonderful and challenging place to run. I would love to run here sometime..but I would be walking for sure! Three ascents. Holy hill!

  3. Glad the work I did paid off, hate seeing trails wash out...I'm ready for our run up it Saturday. I hope to make it to the steep split in the trail before walking..