Friday, August 29, 2014

Backpacking in the White Mountains!

This past week, eight brave SMS nordic skiers signed up for an epic three day backpacking & camping adventure in the White Mountains with me. We summited five of the biggest Presidential mountains, with Washington being our final climax, cooked some incredible backcountry meals, braved whatever the elements threw at us (which was actually just sunshine and a little mist & wind...), and carried 25-40lbs backs up and down some of New England's most rugged terrain. With so much of our year based around training for skiing, I thought that it would be fun to mix it up a little, and combine exercise with adventure, and get away the roller skis and running shoes for a while.

I was so proud of how all members of our small team worked together to make sure that everyone had a blast. We divided up into cooking/cleaning crews, and then divided up all of the food, cookware, and group gear into smaller piles to be carried by everyone. Even though Max and Adam's gigantic packs were eventually stuffed full with the excess gear & food, everyone carried their share of the gear. Amidst their many hours of hiking and peak bagging, they still found plenty of energy to play many games, sign guest books, meet some AT hikers, watch both sunsets & stars as well as sunrises, and ask each other whatever questions came to mind. (Tegan- if you were a dragon, what color would your scales be?)

SO, enjoy some pictures, and follow our journey day by day.


DAY ONE: drive, rollerski, shop for food, drive, cook, sleep.

Roller skiing in Hanover, NH, on the way over- its always fun to find new road to ski on. Many thanks to Sam Tarling for the route choices!

Fine form, men. Fine form. 

Lovely. 

At the checkout line.
We stocked up for food for three and a half days, and took pricing estimates before checkout. Adam guessed $276, and the total ended up being $276.91. That dude nailed it!!

Setting up tents at our site! 

First dinner. 
For our first dinner, we were at Dolly Copp Campground, a 20 minute drive from our trailhead. The first cooking crew, Team Kale, set a high bar with their chicken & veggies stirfry, which we enjoyed over a bed of fresh greens. Team Kale's members, Alex, Neil & Anna, also cooked up s'mores for desert of a magical fire made by the boys. 



DAY TWO: hike to Crag Shelter, then bag Madison & Adams peak, and return to the shelter. 


Max (aka the Big Moose) leading the train through the woods- after the first few hours of woods climbing, we busted out over tree line, and stayed there until Tuckerman's Ravine. 

We got to camp, had lunch, and packed small day packs to go out and bag Madison & Adams (in the background). 

Summit Selfies!!

Summit non-selfies!!

Best looking summit-crew award right here. 

Just kidding- this is the best looking summit-crew award. 

Colorful and excited to not have 30lbs packs on!

A normal view for day one. 

Watching the sun set behind out shelter, and watching the dark line get higher and higher on the ridge wall. 

We kind of took over the small deck for the evening... 

Max introduced the game of "spoons to the face", where the person in the middle get two spoons and a blindfold, and has to use the spoons to identify some body in the circle. Once he/she identifies one person correctly, they can exit the center. We learned that if the person has hair, there is a good chance that its Mae. 

That evening, team Hitch - Adam, Mackenzie & Max - cooked some incredible bow-tie pasta in the shelter, and followed it with a giant bowl of worms'n'dirt pudding (chocolate pudding with crushed oreos and gummy worms). Then we played spoons on the porch until we could no longer see, and then migrated to the rocky outcrop below the shelter to watch the dark blue sky turn black, and all of the bright stars came out. After successfully avoiding getting eaten by wolves, we retired for the night. 

DAY THREE: Sunrise, hike, summit, descent, games, dinner, sleep. 

Sunrise over Madison from our outcrop. 

Mmmmmm. Pure coffee! Boobar is with us in spirit!

It really was a beautiful sunrise. 

My attempts at a panorama didn't really catch the sun, but certainly caught the crew. 

The hike began with some misty traversing, which I found to be so cool! Seen here is Alex, with her bag Petunia. Petunia outweighed Alex, and had seemingly unlimited space. 

Neilio! Trail-name, Wonderboy

Misty day, rugged crew. 

Adam, the pail-bearer, says "Run it like a Boss," atop Jefferson. Here, the clouds cleared for long enough to see the whole northern Presidential range. 

Another attempt at a panorama from just below Jefferson (seen on left)

The saddle between Jefferson & Clay. 

Whelp, we made it! Max turned on the boiler and hustled us all up the final stretch. 

The steep descent into Tuckerman's ravine, not far from out campsite. 

Our homely lean-to! 

Playing in the nearby steam, icing and dunking. 

This night, team Charzard's Angels - Mae, Tegan, and sort of me - cooked some amazing pesto tortellini, which is somewhat of a backcountry delicacy. To top it off, they created a backcountry-cookiemix-frying pan concoction for desert that wowed the critics. After what felt like hours of fun bedtime chatter, the group fell asleep for our last night of the trip. 

DAY FOUR: hike out, drive, waterpark (!!!), drive, dinner, gelatos, home.


Slow morning... well deserved and well enjoyed. 

The first and only time I was in front of everyone. 

Our fearless leader, the Big Moose himself. HUGE cheers to this guy- stepped up big as a leader, and combined his backcountry skills & knowledge of the area with a big smile & tons of games to make it a really fun trip for everyone. And, along with Adam, carried enormous weight the whole way. 

The weight of his bag is getting to him.... 
 Then, we went to... THE WATER PARK! Whale's Tale in Lincoln, NH was virtually deserted in the late season, and we took over the various fun, wild ride. Too bad I was enjoying myself too much to take any good pictures....


Is that Max...? Or is it this guy?

The super crazy and wild 'Lazy River.' 

These guys...... 

This was the end of "Bonzai" ride... such a thriller, and definite fan favorite. Shown here is 'LEROYYY,' and 'JENKINNNS,' whipping through to the end. 

We ended with a great final dinner & gelato stop in Hanover on the way home. Anna had gotten picked up at the water park, and we missed her dearly the rest of the way home. 


Many thanks to the whole crew this week- you were all awesome travel companions and adventurers. We are all looking forward to getting back to school next week, but it was certainly nice to get out of Vermont for a little before the masses return to SMS. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

L3 at BMD

 This morning we did one of our "go to" summer workouts at Ball Mtn Dam. Everyone skied 3-4x 4km L3. We try to improve our base fitness during the summer by training solid volume and improving our speed at L3.
 We started with a 5 km warm up and some technique work, then got into the workout.
 Tegan is working on getting in a higher, forward position.
 We had 4 coaches and 8 athletes this morning so everyone got some private help and video.
Russell is back from his bike across America.
Riz nears the finish of interval #3. Everyone did a good job of pacing (most got faster each interval) and working on keys for improvement.
This afternoon, we have foot agility and strength.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

SMS Jr Camp Ends With Hike/Run OD

 We finished up Jr Camp with a fun run/hike this morning out to Stratton Pond and then over the mountain and back to school.
 We had 3 groups; one ran from school....
 ..the second roller skied (bum knees) in Manchester...
 ..and the thrid started on top of North Brookwood.
 Other than the starting point, everyone did the same basic loop.
 As we gained elevation, we went into a cloud..but it wasn't wet...just cool.
 The only bummer was that we were not able to get the views on top of the fire tower.
Everyone got in a solid 2.5-3 hours workout and returned for lunch and the camp wrap up meeeting and t-shirt distribution.
 Our T2 team was on hand to sign the camp t's. Hopefully when they are kicking butt this winter, the campers will have a close connection.

Most of the group poses for an end of camp picture.

Thanks to all of the coaches, the T2 team and the Canadian team for helping at camp. AND..thanks to all of the campers for coming and working hard!

Time for a rest day :)

More pictures on SMS Nordic facebook.