Monday, May 25, 2009
BJ and I ran for about 4 or 5 hours in the Sandwich Range today. Hard core mountain runners are always puzzled when I tell them that the Sandwich Range is my favorite place to run in the Whites. These trails are like the poor cousins to the Presidential Range and the Pemi Wilderness. There aren't many open ledges with great vistas, there are only a few impressive peaks, and there isn't a lot of that bone jarring-foot bruising-fall provoking terrain that some of the other areas of the White Mountains offer. It isn't very impressive to spend a day running around Mt Paugus, Whiteface, Passaconway, and Chocorua as compared to "doing the Pemi Loop" or "doing the Presidential Traverse."
What the Sandwich Range does offer is lots of very runnable trail with challenging climbs and descents that can be run instead of walked (if you are in good enough condition). There are no crowds unless you climb Chocorua. BJ and I ran for our 4 or 5 hours on this beautiful Memorial Day and never saw another human the whole time. We ran, sometimes wishing for a steep climb or rough terrain so we'd have an excuse for a walk break. We ran over gravel, loose rocks, slippery flat rocks, old railroad beds, roots, mud, pine needles, and boulders. We ran on sections of trail that were just narrow strips clinging to the sides of mountains with steep drop offs on the outer edges.
We climbed over and under blow downs on the Cabin Trail. We loved the sweet two mile downhill stretch on the Old Mast Road. We ran through the beautiful ravine on the Kelly Trail. We admired the work of trail volunteers evident on the way up Lawrence Trail. We sweated down near Whitten Brook. We shivered in the breeze up at the top of Paugus. We both stopped in our tracks when we suddenly came upon the huge rock face towering above us on the Old Paugus Trail on the way down. We enjoyed trying to run over the 5 river crossings on the way out and the 3 on the way back without breaking stride.
I guess what I'm saying is that I love running in the Sandwich Range because it's fun!