I have had an incredible few days in the Mountains! I have had the opportunity to stand on top of Mount Washington 3 times in 4 days! Each time was via a different path! The first was on foot, the second by cog and third by car! How lucky am I!? I’m lucky and yet I am still struggling to be happy on a regular basis. Since November when I was introduced to depression when my head collided with a rock. There are happy moments but most days I cry, longing to be the person I once was. There are days where getting out of bed will be my biggest battle. The hard part is knowing I am not this person, I am a good person, I live a good life and I am capable of anything I put my heart into. I want my old self back and will not stop until I find it. Until then I will accept the tears for no reason and fight that battle deep within my soul. For now my only peace comes from hammering myself in the mountains and doing nice things for others! So, enough of my whining and onto four days that made me feel like myself again!
On Wednesday the Harmony Hill Summer XC series kicked off and it was a huge success! I love bringing a fun family friendly series to Northwood in the summers! We do a popsicle dash for toddlers, one mile short course and 3.6 mile long course! It brings people together for a fun night together doing something healthy!
On Friday I had a day off from working and the weather was perfect! I had run a practice Presidential Traverse with Ryan a few weeks ago in 6:48 and had an absolute blast! It was a PR for me and I was thrilled! I miss climbing mountains and decided I need to get back out there and find myself again! The mountains are the perfect place for me to forget everything that is going on and simply be happy! I have always found peace in the mountains and right now that is where I need to be! So, with a perfect weather forecast, slightly tired legs and a smile on my face I got up early and headed north.
The Presidential Traverse is so dear to me because it is where my love of mountains began. I have done a two day winter traverse where I still wonder how I am alive to share my tale, a 12 and 14 hour summer traverse with friends and a one day winter traverse. Many wonderful memories have been given to me on that range, some of my best being a winter six husbands trail ascent, a winter castle trail ascent and a summer caps ridge trail ascent, among ice climbing in the ravines and some pretty intense winter Washington summits. That place is very special.
I met another guy who was going to be taking the shuttle as well and he planned on a traverse too. My goal time was 6 hours and I was quite confident I could possibly hit 5:50. I was ready! This would be my second solo adventure in the Whites and I was terrified and excited to make this happen! So, I put on my big girl pants, stood in line for the shuttle and the group of us waiting for the shuttle watched it drive away without us! WTF! Well, the woman on the phone had given us the wrong location to stand. We all tried to figure out ways to shuttle each other to Appalachia and walked toward the Highland Center to voice our frustration with their shuttle operator.
On the way over to the center I saw an Acidotic Racing sticker on a car window and a guy bent over in his trunk. He looked like he was doing a traverse so I yelled out “Hey AR guy!! Are you doing a traverse?” He responded with a “yes” and it was Josh Fields. Along with him was Ashley Lader who would be giving him a ride to the trail head. I asked in desperation if they could give myself and one of the guys a ride and soon we were back on track. What a way to start the morning!
By 10:00 am three of us were on the trail, laughing and chatting about our exciting day that lied ahead of us! Josh held back a bit and the other guy tagged along behind me breathing as loud as I do! We chatted a bit and I was actually quite thrilled to have company below treeline because I always think a lion, tiger or bear is going to come out and eat me. Luckily all I saw were a bunch of snakes. We got above treeline and stood on top of Madison in 1:25! I was thrilled and felt like I was off to a great start! I took a pee break and water break at Madison Hut before continuing on to Adams. Mount Adams is always an ass kicker for me on a traverse and I focused on staying steady and strong. I tagged the summit (I don’t remember when) and made my way over to the beehive cairn on Jefferson! I hopped up to the summit smiling and honestly wanting to be alone at that point. The guy with me was nice but I wanted to be solo so I started to push hard with hopes of dropping him. I kept asking if he wanted to pass me but he wouldn’t. The terrain on the northern pressies is hard and I wanted to be able to focus.
By the time I stood on top of Clay he was a few minutes back and I figured I would hammer it out to Washington. I tagged the summit (and photo bombed someones photo-) they laughed! I made it to Washington in 3:40 and ran down to Lakes giggling the whole way! I love that descent! I took another pee break and filled my pack with water for the last part of the day.
I motored up Monroe alone and happy. I quickly found myself on the summit and managed to take a wrong turn and stood on top of Franklin! Oh well, a bit more elevation and distance never hurt me! I needed it! I laughed at my mistake and stood on top of Eisenhower in 4:40! I was feeling so good and running very comfortably! I began to wonder if I could get on top of Pierce in 5 hours and if I could I figured I could finish in 5:47! My heart started racing with excitement as I plugged away at my final climb of the day! I got choked up when I tagged the summit of Pierce in 5:02!!! I giggled and had so much fun running down Crawford Path! I had my Bushido’s on and those shoes are the perfect White Mountain shoe!!! The traction and protection are absolutely amazing! I found my legs going faster and faster while my mind slowed down and instead of obstacles I saw foot placements. I was so focused and could see so clearly! Hikers cheered me on as I charged down the trail laughing! I got to the last turn before route 302 and peeked at my watch, I was at 5:30! I yelled out “holy #*^*!” and pushed hard to the road. As soon as my foot hit the road I hit my stop button and looked at my watch. It read 5:32. There was no fanfare, no finish line, no medal. It was me and some cars wizzing by me as I stood there crying like a baby. They were tears of pride, tears of joy! Never before have I been able to motivate myself without being at a race. I also never thought I could run mountains like I just did. Ryan taught me well and I smiled because I knew I was well on my way of becoming a true mountain runner!
The next day Ryan and I picked up his daughters and drove up north to camp with my parents. We had a nice visit and spent some time roasting massive marshmallows and making smores! They were so messy and Hannah and I were covered in marshmallow! After a nice walk to the river we settled into bed for the night.
We woke up and hung out with my parents for a bit before leaving to catch the Cog. Ryan and Jack puppy ran up Mount Washington while I rode the cog with Zoe and Hannah. They had so much fun riding up and when Zoe saw the Jewell trail and was so excited to walk on a big mountain I started to tear up! How special to be able to share their first steps on Mount Washington, the place where my climbing passion began.
We stood on the summit and watched some of the rally cars tearing up the hill! It was rally car day and I was thrilled to see Travis Pastrana’s car there! That guy was the reason I started dirt biking! We shared some snacks on the summit and Hannah lost her wiggly front tooth in typical Hannah fashion! She cried and made a scene while she bled all over the place. She even got blood all over my arm. Ryan took her inside to get cleaned up while strangers cheered for her losing her tooth on the summit of Mount Washington! How many kids can add that to their memory bank!
So we hiked down and the girls did so well! They were having an absolute blast hopping on the rocks and learning how to read signs and navigate their way back to the car! They are only 6 and 8, we were shocked that they did so well! There was minimal whining and we made sure they ate and drank enough. We got down to the bottom about 3:20 after we left the summit and were so proud of the girls! We got dinner and Ryan took them back to their mom’s house while I stayed north for one more adventure.
My friend Sue was up north so I met her at the Moat and we had a great time laughing about life! I miss that girl so much. She is so much fun and I have shared so many incredible memories with her!
After a nice visit I got a few hours of sleep and a nice alpine start to Jay and Vickie Philbricks house! That’s right, 4am start……I had a rippin cup of coffee and was ready to go! My legs were fried from Friday and I knew he would have me running a TON to get some good shots. We started out on top of Thin Air taking sunrise photos and then once the light changed we drove to a farm and took some cool shots there.
The weather was perfect so we drove up the auto road to get some pictures up on the trails I took on my Presidential Traverse womens FKT on Friday! I got to meet the Mount Washington Park manager as well, it was really cool! After some awesome shots and a good wreck we were ready to head to Diana’s bath for one last shot. Some of the stuff I was running on took some concentration and smiling was a bit tough but for the most part I was laughing! I had so much fun!
We got to Diana’s bath and I saw Sue’s car in the parking lot. They got me set up in a section of River and Sue was there smiling. We finished the shoot and while Jay and Vickie packed Sue and I slid on our asses on the rocks and into the pool of water below (Sue’s idea)! I cut my butt up a bit on the second trip down but had so much fun! She and I are like little kids when we get together!!! Who else would do that with me!!! We hugged goodbye and I went back to Jay and Vickies for lunch and a short nap.
Then it was time for round two! We did a fun “Fairy in the woods” shoot where Rodyan made me a super cool outfit and did my hair and makeup! I love the couple times a year that I get to pretend to be a girly girl! We put on my wings and headed out into the forest to battle black flies, prickers and ever changing sunlight! The three of them got me into cool poses and took some incredible photos!
It’s funny seeing the pictures because they don’t even look like me! I love being able to play pretend sometimes! For the second to last shot I had to tromp up a loose river bank that kept collapsing, trudge through prickers and shimmy across a huge log where my dress kept getting caught on the bark. Then I cut my leg and started getting chowed by black flies. In the end, it was so worth it! We got a killer shot! I would love to make a living being a model that does crazy stuff! Ha! A girl can dream! Hmmmm……my dream career- a runner, a running coach, a model that does crazy stuff and a race director! Hey, dreams do come true if you believe, but for now I am dreaming of finding my happiness again, that inner peace I once had. Maybe it is time to seek help. :)
I want to give a huge thank you to my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, UltrAspire, Julbo USA, Flora Health, Hypoxico, and First Endurance. Thank you to my coach Jack for being so awesome and training me so well! Thank you to my husband for teaching me how to run on mountains! Thank you to my Jack puppy for being so much fun and so cute! Thank you to my friends, clients and inspirations for helping me be the best person I can be! I am an extremely lucky girl and have nothing to be sad about.
Let me leave you with this:
Life is so precious. You need to find what makes you happy and surround yourself with whatever that is. Be a good person, be a good friend. Appreciate every moment, good and bad. Find a way to ignite your inner flame and make that flame burn bright. Don’t let others extinguish it and don’t let your inner demons put out that flame. If you are feeling the same way I am join me in my mission to find my inner peace and happiness and light that inner fire we all have deep within our souls!