Sunday, August 16, 2015

Baldface Loop

Despite the late night after Cigna, I was still up early to hit the mountain run that I had originally planned for Tuesday, the Baldfaces. I took the dogs out, made coffee then hit the road for the 45 minuted drive up towards Evans Notch, right on the NH/ME border. I had only done this loop one other time, exactly 2 years prior while John and his dad were at the Cape. It was one of the few years I missed going to the Cape. I brought all three dogs along that time and did the whole Baldface Circle Trail clockwise.
2013 Baldface Run. Phoenix and me.
Going up the Baldface Circle Trail (clockwise) is really steep, and one of my dogs (Chill) panicked and refused to go any further at one point. I ended up having to almost drag him up it. So this time I decided to go dog-free and take the Slippery Brook Trail up. It's about a 1/2 mile longer and is much more gradual, even though it still has its super steep parts as well. The temps were in the high 60s earlier in the morning, but as soon as I hit the woods, it was a blast of humidity. Felt like nearly 100%, trapped in the trees. And the temperature started to rise, as well. I was dying. Pouring in sweat. The first part of the run was easily runnable, but the approach for the turnoff for Baldface Knob was pretty steep. The climb up to the Knob was short, and when I hit the open ridge, I was hit with fresh air. Dry and cool. What a relief. I stopped on top of the Knob to drink some water. I had probably just sweated out a half liter of water and was parched. I moved on and very shortly hit the Baldface Circle Trail for the run up South Baldface. There were so many blueberries on the way up that I had to keep stopping quickly to pick some.

Trail going up South Baldface

Looking back from the trail up South Baldface
I remembered this run up being a lot tougher 2 years ago because it seemed I was up there in no time. There was a guy on the summit when I got up there. I talked to him for a minute then moved on. The trail descends a bit before climbing again up to North Baldface. The views are phenomenal almost the whole way. I hit North Baldface also a lot quicker than I remember. Probably because I didn't have the dogs with me hitting up any water source they could find.
Just below South Baldface looking towards North Baldface

Mt Washington in the background
North Baldface

Looking back at South Baldface

The trail ahead of me toward Eagle Crag
There was decent descent from here. I had to be a little cautious with the ankle on the downhills. I didn't want to reinjure it. I was still able to run at decent pace. As I got to the end of the line where the Baldface Circle descends back to 113, I was a little sad to leave the ridge, but I had to get home in time for John to be dropped off after his trip to the Cape. The first part of the descent is pretty rough, so I took it super easy, but as soon as it eased up and became runnable again, I picked up the pace. As much as I wanted to stop at Emerald Pool, I passed it by. I have no desire to go to a swimming hole with a crowd of other people. John and I will go up there in a few weeks when school is back in session, and we might have the place to ourselves. I finished up the run with 10.3 miles, 3,597ft of elevation gain in a time of 2:52:32 (total time, including the stops I made), almost an hour faster than two years ago. My ankle didn't bother me at all, but it was still slightly swollen when I finished the run.

When I got back to the car, I was soaked in sweat and decided to walk down the trail there to the brook to rinse off for a minute. I made it through the run and down to the brook, only to fall pretty hard on my butt while standing on the edge of the brook. I think I even said out loud, "I run all of that without falling, and I fall here?!" Ha ha. It did actually hurt my elbow, but I was okay. I rinsed off in the water, which felt frigid, walked back to the car and left. John came home about 45 minutes after I did, and we spent the rest of the afternoon at Conway Lake.

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