Friday, July 15, 2011

MMD Reconnaissance Run

After last year's struggle to stay on course through the night at MMD, I decided to go on a scouting mission in the daylight a few days ago. The night time segment of MMD is run up the Imp Trail, continuing up the North Carter Trail, and then crossing the Carters and Mt Hight by way of the Carter-Moriah Trail. Next comes the steep climb up Wildcat, by which point the darkness has usually begun to lift. I have run this section of trail in the dark for the past two years at MMD, (we had run different courses for MMD each year until a few years ago). It went fine the first time I ran this route because I was traveling with a group of runners and between us we had plenty of lights and plenty of good sense. Last year I was alone through this section and had some difficulties staying on trail, poor night vision and not such good sense I guess.

I started out my recon run feeling great, but smelling a very bad odor coming from my Camelback. I finally stopped to check and found a left over piece of Ham and cheese sandwich that had been in there for about a week, ripening in the 90 degree weather. I consider myself lucky that I wasn't jumped on by a Black Bear while carrying this bear bait. I hate throwing anything on the ground, but I tossed it off the trail figuring something would eat it pretty quickly.

Once free of that foul odor, the run improved immensely. I am always surprised how steep the climb is up the Northern arm of the Imp Trail. And it just keeps going and going! I found the spot where I first wandered off course in the dark last year. It is a stream crossing where hikers have worn paths up and down the stream looking for better crossings in high water, (note to self, go straight across when I come to this point.)

The turn off for the North Carter Trail is easy to see, even in the dark. I remembered this trail leveling off, but I remembered wrong. It continues to climb steeply upwards. It was after turning onto the Carter-Moriah Trail that the running gets easy and a lot of time can be made up. This trail is runnable in the dark for sections, but it is almost entirely runnable until Zeta Pass in the daylight, (note to self, run more/walk less of this section).

Shortly after Zeta Pass, which you can't miss, comes the left turn to climb Mt Hight, which I learned last year, you can miss, (note to self, start looking for this turn as soon as I go through Zeta Pass).

The climb up Mt Hight isn't easy, but it goes quick. At the top it is difficult to see where the trail goes, even in the daylight. People have wandered all over this ledgy peak looking for views so there are paths everywhere. The trail turns sharply to the right just after it reaches the open ledge. I wandered around in the dark up there for a long time last year, (note to self, sharp right!).

There is some good running after the scramble down Mt Hight, followed by a steep rocky descent to Carter Notch. At the pond, you can turn left and go to the hut or turn right onto 19 Mile Brook for a short distance and then left onto Wildcat Ridge Trail, (note to self, turn right then left!)

I would have liked to continue on to the ski slopes so I could chose the best route down. This varies from year to year, depending on if anything has been mowed or traveled recently. But this day I decided I would run down the 19 Mile Brook Trail so I would only have a mile or two to run on rte 16 back to my car. If I had come out at the ski area, it would be 5 or 6 miles of rte 16 running. My run down 19 Mile Brook was delightful. This is very good running, but unfortunately not part of the MMD course. It showered lightly during my run down, although the sun never stopped shining. It was just beautiful!

Chances are I won't remember any of my notes to self as I am jogging merrily through the woods in the pitch black night in a few weeks, but this recon run was still well worth it! I had a wonderfully joyous romp through the mountains and discovered that I am pretty darned fit for mountain running right now! MMD, watch out, here I come!

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