Sunday, July 9, 2017

Adirondack Mountains Trip

Front row "seat" on the Essex-Charlotte Ferry across Lake Champlain
So back in February as I drove from Saranac Lake, NY after the World Snowshoe Championship to Amherst, MA, I was fortunate to watch the sun come up as I drove through Keene Valley, NY surrounded by the High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. It was so beautiful that I knew I HAD to come back here soon and explore this place. After spending almost 9 months trying to decide what to do while John was in Costa Rica for a week with his dad's family, I found my answer. I was coming back here!

In order for me to do this trip, I had to figure out one thing. What to do with the dogs! There was no way I could bring them with me. They wouldn't be able to keep up on the mountain runs I had planned, and unlike the White Mountains, dogs have to actually be leashed on the trails! I realized that we're spoiled over here with no leash laws. I could never run with three leashed dogs on a technical trail, and they each have a different pace. It just wasn't going to work so I searched for dog sitters and boarding that I could afford. That doesn't exist. Not possible for me. Finally after months of racking my brain I had an a-ha moment! I live in vacationland. Offer up my house as a free place to stay in exchange for dog sitting. A simple post on Facebook had interest immediately, and the next morning I had my dog sitter! Brian Vitiello saved the day! All that was left was to order the map (I already had the book). I had already booked my first night's hostel in Burlington back in March and the other three nights at the Keene Valley Hostel back in May. There wouldn't be much to this trip so that was about all I had to plan. I had a loose plan for when I got there, but I knew I might change things up so nothing was set in stone. Going with the flow...or the weather which was more the case. Haha.

So I left for Burlington right from the Exeter Trail Race. It was an easy 3 hour drive since it was almost entirely interstate. I stopped at the beer store in Waterbury briefly to pick up a few things for my trip. I controlled myself very well and walked out of there spending very little. I knew I'd be eating out 3 of the 4 days and have beers then, too, so I only bought a few cool Vermont beers that I can't get in NH. I was in and out of there in 10 minutes and back on the road to Burlington.

I got to the Burlington Hostel around 5pm. I really liked this place, and it wasn't filled with a bunch of kids. It was mostly older people. I wonder if that's a shift from my old hostel days because the Keene Valley Hostel would also be more of an older crowd. I checked in, was shown my bunk and then hopped in the shower. I was still covered in mud from Exeter, and I wanted to look nice for my night out on the town...alone. I love being alone, but that doesn't mean it isn't lonely sometimes, too. It would have been great to be out with other people in Burlington, and there were times I felt like a total loser, but I guess I'm used to that. I sucked it up and enjoyed myself as much as I could. I even got dressed up...which means I wore a dress. Haha. That's as far as go with "dressing up". :)

First stop was the Farmhouse for dinner and some Hill Farmstead. I was starving by the time I got over and lucked out finding a free space on one of the couches in the outside area. It was such a beautiful night to sit out there. The place was super crowded, but I walked right up to the bar ordered my beer and food. My pulled pork sandwich was out in less than 10 minutes.

Hill Farmstead Harlan
I didn't stay too long at the Farmhouse because I wanted to hit Foam Brewers. On the walk down, I all of a sudden found myself in the middle of this really spread out group of about 10 guys throwing a frisbie around as they walked. I said something about being in the middle of their game when one of them yelled out, "Catch!" Good thing I didn't have time to overthink this or I probably would have screwed up, but that frisbie came my way. I jumped in the air and caught it then was met with loud cheers. Haha!! It was great. I turned, threw it on to the next guy over, then they proceeded their way and me, mine. I finally arrived at Foam Brewers; this place was awesome! I only tried one of their beers, Kubrick, and it was really, really good. I took it outside to the patio area and pulled up a stool with a view of Lake Champlain. The only problem was that I forgot sunglasses, and the sun was right in my face until it set behind the clouds. I tried to get a pic, but I couldn't stop squinting. Haha.

Botox would be great for those squinting lines! :)

I really wanted another beer, but at $8 a piece, I opted out and walked down to the waterfront for sunset. It was so beautiful out and because of that, it was crowded! Haha. I decided to walk down near the marina and sat out on some rocks. Just as I sat down, a duck family swam by and then crawled up on a rock just below me. It was fun to watch them clean their feathers, and then all of the babies curled up and went to sleep. This was one of my favorite parts of my trip.

Where I was headed the next morning

You can see the duck family on the rock.

Only the oddballs' DG 
I decided to make my way back to the hostel, but literally like 50 yards from the hostel, I passed the Growler I stopped and got another beer. I sat outside listening to music, then realized the place where the Invited Runners stay before the Vermont City Marathon was right across the street. I can't wait to be back there in May!

I went back to the hostel and got ready for bed then sat out in the sitting area and wrote the first part of my Ribfest blog post...on my phone. That is not easy. While I know how to type on a keyboard, the same cannot be said for my phone. I type everything with one finger and it is so slow! Haha.

I finally got tired and went to bed in my bunk room. It was super comfortable, and I slept ok, except the exit sign was shining right in my face all night so I kept waking up. I'm one of those people who likes darkness for sleeping. Any tiny light will keep me awake. Haha. So no catching up on sleep for me this night either.

Sunday, June 25, 2017- I got up a little before 7 and made my way to the dining area of the hostel to grab some coffee. Eek! No half & half. I've learned to ALWAYS travel with half & half, so I went down to my car, grabbed my mug, poured half & half in it then went back up to the hostel. Much better! When the donut place opened up downstairs, I went down there and grabbed two donuts. I expected them to be awesome, but they were only so-so. After I finished my coffee, I decided to head out and make attempt to catch the 9am ferry in Charlotte. I realized I needed to grab something in Burlington for my breakfasts on my way out so I stopped at Myer's Bagels on my way out to grab a half dozen and some cream cheese. I don't normally eat bagels for breakfast, but since I had long days planned I figured something a little heavier wouldn't hurt. These ended up being the best bagels I've ever had! Seriously! I was once a bagel connoisseur. Haha. Based on their menu, this is probably one of the best breakfasts in town, too! So anyway, I quickly made my way down to the ferry arriving at 5 minutes until 9. Turned out I didn't need to rush. The incoming boat was 10 minutes late anyway.

It was such a beautiful day so I got out of my car to feel the awesome air. Being on the ferry made me think of John since he's always been on it with me. I had been extremely frustrated since the previous day that no one had bothered to let me know he made it to Costa Rica ok. I had asked him to let me know, but since he didn't, I figured maybe he couldn't use his phone. So, you'd think one of 5 adults would think John's mom might want to know her son made it safely to a foreign country. But no. So as I'm standing on the ferry, I was like, "Fuck it. I'm calling Costa Rica." I checked the rates. $1.99/minute. Not bad at all and totally worth it. I didn't expect to get through to John, but when it went to his room, he picked up!! I was so relieved to hear his voice and that he was having fun. We had to keep it brief, but I felt I could finally enjoy my trip now. Later on, I would learn that it costed $10 per phone call or text for them, so Bryan didn't bother. But, no, I'm the one who had to spend $10 or more. Ugh. John's grandmother ended up being very kind and sent some texts throughout the week and even let me know when they were coming back since no one updated me on that really. Can you sense my frustration here?! Was I wrong to feel that way?! Am I just some bitch?! I really don't think so. Ugh. So anyway, a huge weight was off my shoulders, and when we arrived in Essex, I got that same feeling I always do when I come here. Peacefulness.

After racing hard the day before at Exeter, I had planned for Sunday to be mountain run with less miles. Tim Van Orden had recommended Giant Mt. After looking at my map and seeing it was really close to Keene Valley where I'd be staying and only about 6 miles round trip, it was perfect. I drove right to the trailhead, changed shoes and headed up. Although this was 3 miles up, it was also very steep. Almost 3000ft of gain over the 3 miles up. The trail was also super technical (yes, unlike Exeter haha) so it was slow going up AND down. Actually all three days, my downhill was often slower than my uphill. I have to admit that a huge part of that was because of my plantar fasciitis. I didn't feel it at all during Exeter, but the second I finished, it reared its ugly head and stayed that way through my entire time in the Adirondacks. People always said it was painful, but damn, I never realized just how much.

I had decided to continue my testing of the Hoka One One SpeedGoat 2 during this trip so I wore these up Giant. I tested them out on every single thing I could find to test the traction, and man, they were excellent. They also brought some relief of the plantar fasciitis, but not as much as I would have liked. By the time I was done with Giant, my opinion of these shoes had changed. I liked them. Not loved, but liked. Haha.

Giant was very crowded with people, as expected, since it was a Sunday, and the weather this morning was perfect. 57-ish degrees. Beautiful. This meant I had to pass a lot of people on the way up and down, but people were very nice and courteous and in awe that I was running it. People always are which is funny. I would have been, too, a long time ago, but for me, it's nothing. I've been mountain running for years now, and it's still pretty fucking hard to do. It's slow if you look at the pace, but the effort is usually at its max the whole way. So anyway, I was actually surprised to find just how much of Giant I did run. There were a lot of granite slabs to run across and views galore the whole way. Tim's recommendation was right-on. When I got to the summit, I was met with a cold wind that felt awesome! There were four women up there, so I decided to continue along the ridge trail a little bit to see if I could find a view of Lake Champlain. I got nada so I turned around. Just as I arrived back at the summit, the women were leaving, and I ended up with the summit to myself the rest of the time I was up there. Yay! Selfie time! Haha. I have to say my selfie game was way off this whole trip. Most of my photos were horrible. Haha. Starting to think it's not my selfie skills but just me getting old and looking bad.

The ridge I came up

Finally got a slight view of the Lake when I ventured onto another trail about 10 yards on my way down
I was probably up there 10 minutes, but I could see thunderstorms off in the distance coming our way. This would end up being the case every afternoon of my trip. Original forecasts had it raining all day every day of my trip, but I was fortunate to have beautiful mornings.

Like I said, the way down was almost as slow as the way up because the trail was just so technical. I decided to take a detour to visit the Nubble, a small outcropping with a view. I didn't stay long at all since I could actually see the rain and dark clouds getting closer and closer.

View of Giant from the Nubble
The run from here was just over a mile, so it was quick. Weird thing I passed was a guy hiking down carrying an inflatable boat. Haha. I don't know how he did that without falling... and maybe he did fall. I would have. It was kind of crazy. Yeah, that's right; crazy just called someone else crazy. Haha. Total miles for today: 6.7. 2:22:06 of moving time and 3,406ft of elevation gain. And a whole lot of Strava CRs, even though it wasn't a total sweep. Haha. I didn't actually go into this looking for CRs; it just happened. The next day would be different. ;)

Once back at my car, I changed into my bathing suit and drove a 1/4 of a mile up the road to the lot at Chapel Pond, another recommendation of Tim's. The place was pretty crowded, but I snagged a parking spot and put my boat in the water. The weather was iffy, but I ended up lucking out and was only drizzled on for a few minutes. The pond was kind of small so I paddled around it 4 times. Unfortunately this would be my only kayak paddle in the Adirondacks; the weather never stayed this cooperative after my mountain runs.

I went right to the hostel from there and never left for the rest of the day. Since I had spent more money than I should have in Burlington the night before, I decided to stay in and eat a really old dehydrated meal that I had found in my stash and have some beers that I brought. I was lucky to have most of the hostel to myself for most of the evening. Around 6ish, this dad with two kids whom I had actually passed on Giant showed up. They were super nice. The youngest kid was 7 and autistic so the older kid (maybe 15ish) took care of him the entire time they were there. I of course ended up having a conversation with the dad about beer and Pennsylvania laws. Haha. Pennsylvania was always the most difficult place to buy beer along the Appalachian Trail.

I actually enjoyed just hanging out for the evening there this first night. The hostel was perfect. I chose to camp in the yard which was a no-brainer over the bunk room. It was $10 less a night. I stayed 3 nights for $60 total. I had use of all the amenities, wifi, kitchen, shower, laundry, and I didn't have to pay an extra $10 to share a room with people. Haha. This was also way cheaper than staying at a State campground since out-of-State residents get charged an extra fee on top of the processing fee at those. With John along, those are cheaper, but with just me, the Keene Valley Hostel was the way to go.

Keene Valley Hostel

Cozy place

My bed. Haha.
Like I said before, I had a general plan for the next two days, but nothing set in stone. My original plan for Monday was an 18-mile round trip run up to the summit of Mt Marcy from the Garden trailhead, but after looking at the weather, I had to break out the map and come up with an alternative route up Marcy that was shorter to get me back down before thunderstorms blew in. I settled on the most popular route up Marcy from the Adirondack Loj trailhead instead. $3 more for parking than the Garden, but that was okay with me. This route would be a more gradual climb and descent and only 14-ish miles round trip. My goal was to be running by 9am in order to be back at my car by 1pm. I also had another goal when I found the Strava CR for the climb up Marcy. Beat it. I don't normally go after CRs other than my own, but it seemed like a fun challenge for myself.

I called it a night not too late, but unfortunately, I didn't sleep well. Gone are the days when a Ridge Rest mat works for me. Not enough padding anymore. I still have quite a bit of padding on me, but not the extra 10 pounds I used to have...oh and youth. I was pretty uncomfortable every night and never got a good night's sleep.

Monday, June 26, 2017- Woke up at 7am. Got up made coffee, ate a bagel with cream cheese, then headed out to Adirondack Loj. The trailhead was pretty packed, but there are so many different routes you can take from this spot that the trail got less and less crowded the farther I ran up it. I was surprised at how smooth and easy the first mile was, but then as I took more and more turns for the trail up Mt Marcy, the more and more technical the trail got until I was basically running in nothing but rocks and mud. Haha. I had a goal, like I said, to steal the Strava CR for this route up Mt Marcy. It gave me the energy to really push it the whole way up. My time to beat was 1:55:52. Until the last mile or so, the trail was at a very gentle grade which made it easier to run despite the extremely technical trail. The guide book states that it's 7.4 miles so I knew my watch would come up slightly short, but I found it to be really close to the signage most of the way.  Halfway up, I was reminded as to why I really hate my running pack. It had chafed the fuck out of my back. I ended up having to pull my shirt up to cover the raw skin I now I had from it. By the time I was done with the run, it was even worse.

When i finally made my way above treeline, I was ecstatic but watching my watch the whole time. I wasn't going to run away with this CR by any means, so I gave every ounce I had until I stepped foot on the survey marker on the summit. 1:51:52. Exactly 4 minutes faster. Boom! Goal accomplished. Now, it was time to enjoy the summit and its views. Mt Marcy is the highest mountain in New York and had an amazing view of the other high peaks surrounding it. It was pretty cold up there so I moved down out of the wind a bit and took some photos. Turned out I had something on my teeth that I didn't notice until I looked at the pics later, so those aren't getting posted. Haha.

I didn't stay too long on the summit because weather was definitely moving in, and I wanted to be off the trail by 1pm. I had to wear my jacket for about a mile before I was warm again. I hated to take it off because it relieved the chafing pain, but I was getting hot. I took it super easy on the way down, but started to bonk around mile 11. I stopped by a brook to sit down and eat half of a chocolate chip cookie I brought along, but I was immediately swarmed by black flies, so I walked the next quarter of a mile and ate. As soon as I was done, I ran again. I was wearing my La Sportiva Mutants today while the SpeedGoats dried out. I'm so used to them that I still find them easier to run down technical terrain in them over the SpeedGoats. The run down seemed to drag on endlessly, unlike the run up, but I finally passed Marcy Dam and knew I was just over 2 miles from the trailhead with easy running in between. Before I knew it. I was signing myself out in the register and walking to my car. Less than 5 minutes later, downpour. I had just beaten it, and it was 1pm. Perfect timing. And impressive weather predictions. Haha. 14.3 miles. 3:41:17 of moving time and 3,565ft of elevation gain.

I changed clothes in my car and then drove into Lake Placid. I felt so depleted that I needed a Whiteface Stout from the Adirondack Brewing Company stat! Parking is always crazy in this town, so I had to walk kind of far, and the plantar fasciitis was killing me. I was happy at least that the rain had stopped temporarily. The Brewing Company is part of Adirondack Steak and Seafood, and it's such a cozy place. I felt like I was inside an old ship. The stout tasted awesome, and I ended up having two, along with poutine that would be my lunch AND dinner.

As much as I wanted to stay and check things out in Lake Placid, I didn't want to spend any money other than a quick stop at the grocery store for laundry detergent and ice cream, so I went back to the hostel. My plans to kayak every afternoon were thwarted, so I ended up a little bored during the evenings there. At first I didn't mind, but as the evening grew on, I realized I was bored and wished I had more money to spend to go do something else. We did have two newcomers to the hostel, and I finished up my RibFest blog post at some point. It totally didn't flow and probably had a ton of typos, but I got it done. Haha. As with the night before, I once again had to change my original plan and broke out the map. I had a loop run from the Garden up to the Gothics planned, but the forecast once again called for thunderstorms right at 1pm. Even though, it was less miles than the day before, the description looked like it would be more difficult and rougher terrain with 3 summits. The dad with the 3 kids had recommended Algonquin many times so I looked into it more. It's the second highest peak in New York, and from what I could see, had a trail down to Avalanche Lake. After looking through the book, I REALLY wanted to do Avalanche Lake. I was a bit nervous about doing the loop because of the 2.1 mile trail from Algonquin down to the trail to Avalanche. It seemed remote and was called one of the steepest trails in the Adirondacks. While I love being alone, this is one of those times I wish I wasn't. So, I decided to play it by ear. Check the weather in the morning and make my final decision then.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017- Same routine as the day before. Up at 7am, bagel, coffee and out of there. I had checked the weather, and once again, 1pm was the magic time for getting back. I decided to give the loop a go. This entire loop would be the least runnable of the two days, but it would be my absolute favorite! The run up Algonquin was so rough and steep that I ended up power hiking much of it. It was a very quiet trail people wise, and I think I only saw 4 other people on my way up. It was so pretty, though. I passed numerous cascades along the way. I didn't have the goal to beat a Strava CR today, but mainly because I couldn't find one. There would end up being one, but whoever made it put the "summit" actually a little bit too far from the summit. I stepped on the survey marker in 1:15 something, but the segment had me at 1:28, meaning I didn't hit their mark for the summit until I was on my way back down the other I created a more accurate segment later. I still didn't beat it, less than a minute! Haha. Oh well.

Algonquin was AMAZING. A beautiful summit. Reminded me more the Whites. I ended up talking to an ambassador for the ADK on the summit for awhile. He was there to educate, but it was nothing I didn't know, so I told him my planned route and talked about that for awhile before I was once again freezing and needed to move on.

Yes. Please tell me again how technical Exeter was because I might just slap you. :)

I was headed below this.

The run down the other side was really awesome on open granite slabs. I was loving it! And then I hit the steep trail down. It was NO joke. I actually walked those next two miles. It was as steep as they said and not runnable AT ALL. I was basically hiking down a brook that would turn into cascades the entire way down. Extremely steep and rough footing. My slowest 2 miles of the day would end up being this steep, downhill trail.

Yes. This was the trail down from Algonquin. Haha.
I was SO relieved to hit flat ground and make a left towards Avalanche Lake. The pictures I found made it look amazing so my anticipation grew. And then I hit the foot of the lake. Amazing! The next mile would have my running on wooden bridges secured into the rock face along the edge of the lake. It was so cool! This section was slow going, too. There were times when the trail resembled Mahoosic Notch in Maine! I took so many photos and had so much fun!! This was the best part of my trip right here. I was SO glad I changed my plans to include this.

I was sad to hit the head of the lake because it meant heading back into the woods for the climb up Avalanche Pass. It was actually pretty gradual and then the rest of the way was mostly downhill back to Marcy Dam where I had been the day before. In my last mile, I came across a mink on a bridge. I thought it run to the side, but instead, it ended up running just in front of me for awhile. Even once we got off the bridge, it still ran in front of me on the trail. It was so cool! Finally it veered off and I headed back to the trailhead. 11 miles exactly in 3:20:15 moving time and 3,457ft of elevation gain. I was back at the car 5 minutes, and then once again, downpour. Two days in a row, my timing had been impeccable.

I changed clothes then went back to Lake Placid for lunch at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery. It was a torrential downpour, so I was soaked when I walked in the place. I sat at the bar and proceeded to drink 2 beers and eat an entire flatbread. I was STARVING.

I had passed a really neat place I wanted to kayak so I headed that way after lunch and parked in one of the lots just hoping for a break in the weather. The rain would stop for a minute, then downpour again. After sitting there for 20 minutes, I gave up and made my way back to the hostel stopping for gas and ice cream first.

I'll admit I was really bored on this third night and should have just left and driven home or at least to Burlington. The hostel filled to capacity so I just stayed out of the way in the front room. The people I talked to were super nice, but I couldn't wait to go to my tent for the night. I was beat by day 3 of my mountain running adventure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017- Same routine as the two other mornings. Up early. Coffee, bagel, but instead of rushing to the trailhead, I packed up my wet tent (it had rained all night), loaded up my car and made my way to the ferry. Time to head home, and I was ready to go home. I missed my dogs and my house. The ferry ride was beautiful, just as the first day so I stood outside by my car for the whole ride. I really, really wanted to kayak on Lake Champlain and had searched for boat launches near the ferry in Charlotte. I found one about a mile away and headed from the ferry to there so that I could kayak for about an hour. The lake was a bit choppy, but nothing my sea kayak couldn't handle. I paddled around the cove and really enjoyed looking at the houses and cliffs. I paddled around a small island and then made my way back. Short, but sweet.

After loading my boat, I hit the road, but made one last hoorah stop at Prohibition Pig Brewery for a beer and some food. Since it was back to work at 7pm that night, I only had one beer, but I had two appetizers. Chips and salsa and jalapeno corn bread. It was cheaper than ordering a meal and both hit the spot.

I decided to take one last look at the beer store across the street for Sip of Sunshine since Paul Hammond had requested some. Lo and behold, they had just gotten a drop! Not only had they gotten a drop of that, but also Heady Topper! I grabbed a 4-pack of the Sip and left the Heady behind. So many people would gasp at that, but I don't really love Heady. Focal Banger from the Alchemist is so much better!

I was back on the road and made it home by 3pm. I was so excited to see my dogs!! I walked into my very clean house. I think Brian left it cleaner than I did! The dogs appeared well taken care of, and Brian had left me 3 Seresta collars for the dogs, dog brushes, lots of beers AND had fixed up my screen door! It was way too much, but I am super appreciative of it all. He had kept in touch and updated me on the dogs who seemed well taken care of while I was gone. I had left them in good hands.

I unloaded the car then took them on a walk at the Albany Town Forest. Before I knew it, it was time to head into work for a 22 hour shift! Argh! Not sure why I did that to myself, but it was done. I brought the dogs along with me for the night so that I could take care of them that night and the next morning before dropping them off at home on my way to the Tamworth base the next morning. I was happy to be working with my old partner, Michelle, for the night, so the company was good. I miss working with Michelle. We worked all 48 hours of our weekly shifts together for almost 2 years and really worked well together. Just two calls that evening.

Although I was really happy to be home, I had a pretty good trip to Burlington and the Adirondacks. Yeah, I got a little bored in the evenings, but that was ok and worth it because everything else was awesome. I needed a change of scenery for a few days, and it was also good training for Ragged 75 coming up in just over a month!

Somehow, I heard this song while I was over there. Not sure where or when, and it's explicit, but I like explicit. Haha.


  1. Awesome Trip! No you are not a bitch or overreacting, someone should have contacted you regarding arrival and checked in with you from time to time.

    1. They always make me question myself! Haha.