Tag Archives: #Ultrarunnerlife

Skyline 55k and trail running in Utah

I try to find races when I visit family so when I was headed out to see my brother and his family I registered for the Skyline 55k in Eden, Utah!  The course looked beautiful and the location quaint.  I was a bit concerned about the altitude but figured I would give it a try!  I love the trail running in Utah!

Running in Canyonlands!

What is the Skyline 55k like?  Are there a lot of rocks?  What is the highest point on the course?

The Skyline 50k is a low key race in Eden, UT.  The bus will pick you up near a field  and drive you to the start which is a very beautiful and remote area!  The race starts up some beautiful switchbacking single track and does start at around 5500 feet.  I did not expect to feel the altitude but I did!

It was dawn when we started and what I thought was really unique is we did not need headlamps even though it was dark out!  The sky was just starting to get that morning light as we followed flashing course markings to the trail.  We were treated to a wonderful sunrise that lit the mountains up beautifully!

 

photo from skyline facebook page

The terrain was quite runnable and everything switchbacked.  I loved how the course took us over beautiful ridges where we could see hot air balloons rising in the sky!  The altitude would make for some labored breathing but for most of the day the beauty made me forget about how I was feeling!

There was one long climb to the high point of the course where I became very nauseous and had a searing headache but did top out at almost 10,000 feet so it was to be expected.  After the descent off of that climb we never really went above 8000 feet so it was tolerable.

Running in the Canyonlands

The course has one more stout climb after the high point and then there is a fabulous descent that goes on forever!  Luckily we were treated to awesome aid stations that would squeeze cold water on us because it was extremely hot and there was very little tree cover.  The race finishes near where the shuttle picked us up and there was a wonderful post race meal as well as massages!

Camping in Utah

What kind of critters can attack me?  What is the trail running in Utah like?

Bears, cougars and snakes are probably the biggest worries but I have only seen bear and they took off quickly.  We also saw a bunch of moose off in the distance but they didn’t seem to care that we were passing by.

Utah trail running in the fall

The running in Utah varies.  I have run in a few places that range from nice buffed out single track to steep rocky talus.  There are some great mountain runs in Utah as well!  My two favorites were Mount Timpanogos and Kings Peak!  The altitude was killer for me but so worth venturing up to the incredible summits!

Ryan looking off the summit of Timp!

I found the summer to be quite hot and dry and the fall to be very pleasant but chilly up high.  There is a great running community in Utah and we did see other trail runners out there having fun!  Utah also has a lot of bike/running paths and a variety of trail systems!

Kings Peak Summit! Utahs high point!

Moab and Canyonlands are another great place to run!  The trails are very unique and it is cool to run around so many rock formations!  I have been in the spring and fall and found both times of year to be wonderful times to visit!  Moab isn’t fully open until late April (we went in early April and many places were closed for the season)

Moab/Canyonland area

Where can I stay?  Is it expensive?  Can I find food that fits into my diet?

Utah is affordable to visit.  Flights into Salt Lake City are reasonable and offer many time options.  In the more populated areas there was a huge selection of food to choose from.  As we ventured into more remote areas there were fewer choices and one area only had a pizza hut!  If you are not able to be flexible with your diet you may want to have some food on hand.

The race venue had a couple of food options but I found it somewhat hard to find gluten free food.  Ogden is the closet town and there is plenty to choose from there.  I was staying in Eden which was beautiful but only had a couple of places to get food.

There are so many places to stay in Utah!  There are chain hotels, air bnb, and campgrounds.  It can get windy camping in the desert so be prepared for the possibility of a sandstorm!

Kane Creek Trail

Are the people strange in Utah?  Can I get good beer?

NO, the people are actually very nice!  I have heard so many people comment on the Mormon population.  They are by far some of the kindest people I have met!  They all greet you with a huge smile and are extremely welcoming!

There are some laws in Utah that affect alcohol percentage and consumption.  You can read about them here.  It really isn’t a big deal and did not affect my trips at all but it is important to know before going.  I have known people to drive across the border to purchase stronger drinks.

Canyonlands

Do I need to worry about the weather?  Are there avalanches?

There is an avalanche danger in parts of Utah so always check before going out, even in the spring and fall.  We wanted to play in the La Salles one April and there were too many avalanches!

Be aware of slot canyons as a storm many miles away can cause flash flooding and in the summer afternoon thunderstorms can happen suddenly.  Often times you will be on a ridge in beautiful and sunny weather and when you top out you may be in the worst thunderstorm of your life!

I absolutely love running in Utah!  The state offers such a wonderful variety of running!  You can run through shaded forests, run through the aspens (in the fall they light up the forest!), run mountain tops and spectacular ridges or run through the vast desert around and through rock formations, slot canyons and open land!

Utah Desert running

Feel free to reach out with any questions!  Happy running!

 

 

Connecticut Trail Running

Connecticut Trail running, where it all began for me!  I was born and raised in Connecticut and the trails there will always hold a special place in my heart.  There are so many great trail races there with the most recent one that I have raced being the Traprock 50k.  One of my most memorable CT races is the Nipmuck Trail Marathon!

What are some of the popular trail races in Connecticut?

Connecticut has so many trail races that I could not possibly cover them all!  Some of my favorites are Traprock 50k, Nipmuck Trail Marathon, Soapstone 25k, and the Soapstone Assault.  Many of the trail races have significant history and have been going on for many years!

Dying at the end of the race-photo by Scott Livingston

Most of the Connecticut trail races are very low key with a great post race vibe.  Plan on socializing after the race and most events offer great post race food!  The Connecticut trail running scene is pretty awesome and very friendly!

Are there scary critters there?  What is Connecticut trail running like?

Connecticut has bear, copperhead snakes, timber rattle snakes and ticks that can carry Lyme Disease.  The snakes do frequent certain parts of the state and seem to prefer sunny ledges.  I spent most of my life living in Connecticut and have seen plenty of large poisonous snakes but they have never been aggressive.  I have also had Lyme disease twice and was fortunate to have full recoveries.

That tree at Case Mountain!

The trails are great!  They are a nice mix of hills, rocks and roots!  Connecticut does have fairly technical trails and most areas have traprock which can be very slippery when wet.  There are a lot of hard wood forests which are pretty cool because you can see so far in the woods!  The ridges in Connecticut offer wonderful views that seem to go on forever!

Connecticut has short winters and it makes for great trail running almost all year long!  The winter can provide some fun snow running while early spring and late fall tend to be some of the nicest times to get out for a run!  Summers are always nice too!  Some of my favorite places to run are Case Mountain, Penwood state forest, Meshomasic and the Natchaug forest.

Is it expensive?  Do campgrounds exist?  What is the easiest way to get to CT.

Connecticut can be expensive but it does not have to be.  There are many options for spending the night and there are some areas that allow camping although most are RV style campgrounds.  You can easily find good food near any bigger town and the variety available is endless!  Connecticut is crowded so don’t plan on having the place all to yourself but if you venture out far enough you will probably see fewer and fewer people.

I will shine again, and even brighter than before! 🙂

Connecticut is easy to reach if you live anywhere in New England.  There are several major highways and various forms of transportation.  Bradley International airport is very convienent and most airlines will fly into the airport.  It is the easiest airport to get in and out of!

Are dogs allowed on the trails?  What is the best way to find information on trails for Connecticut trail running?

Dogs are allowed on the trails but most places require them to be on a leash.  You will need to check each individual area regarding rules on dogs.  There are many multi-use trails with mountain bikers and horses so make sure your pups are used to them.  Some areas have issues with Coyotes attacking dogs so you will want to either avoid those locations or keep your pup on a leash.

The internet has wonderful information on trails in CT.  There is also a great book which has a guide to all the blue blazed trails in Connecticut.  There are several running clubs within the state that you could reach out to as well!  I used to belong to the Shenipsit Striders and they are very welcoming to everyone!

Case Mountain Trails!

I may be biased but I highly recommend visiting Connecticut for a trail run!  Signing up for one of the many races is a fabulous way to explore new trails and meet some of the local runners!  They are some of the best people I know and when you are racing in CT you will feel the energy that they exude!  I have never done a race anywhere else where the other runners are so upbeat and excited to cheer you on whether you are in the front, middle or back of the pack.

Quest for the Crest 50k-North Carolina

Quest for the Crest 50k – North Carolina was one of my first races that I viewed as a destination race.  I saw some pictures of the course and it looked like it would suit my running strengths!  I saw hills, rocks and roots.  The ridgeline looked amazing and it was right near the North Carolina highpoint Mt Mitchell which I needed for my US 50 Highpoint list.  This post is going to discuss the race and travel information.  You can read my race report here.

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton

My first impression of the race was a bit worrisome with a million strange emails from the race director Sean Blanton who owns Run Bum Tours.  The forecast went from 100 degrees to 18 degrees and snow.  At one point we got emails about Microspikes and aid stations possibly being unmanned!

We had no idea what to expect and quite honestly I thought Sean was out of his mind and figured the race would be a disaster.  I was shocked when I saw it was one of the best organized races around!  The course was amazing, the aid stations friendly and stocked well, perfect course markings and a wonderful post race party!  I think he tries to scare the runners prior to the race because everything was absolutely perfect on race day!

How do I get there?  Where do I stay?  Are southerners nice?

The easiest way to get there is to fly into Charlotte, SC.  It is about a 2.5 hour drive to get to the race start.  I found the airport to be quite easy to find my way around and the flights there are very cheap.

From the top of NC!

We stayed at Alberts Adventure Inn but there also is camping in Burnsville at Black Mountain campground.  Book ahead of time because it does fill up.  The room was clean and offered nice views of the mountains and golf course.  The packet pickup was right there too!  I really liked being so close to everything!

Southerners try to be scary but deep down they are so friendly and nice!  I found everyone to be very helpful and genuine.  There are a lot of confederate flags and pick up trucks with guns but I think it is simply a display of Southern Pride.

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton

Is North Carolina expensive?  I’m vegan/gluten free/etc, is there food for me to eat?

North Carolina is not very expensive if you live in New England.  I found everything to be very affordable!  There were plenty of chain stores and restaurants in the busier areas but as I ventured further to the mountains everything became a bit more remote.

Runners like to take pride in their diets.  We all do it differently and many people don’t understand our wacky ways.  In the bigger cities I was able to find anything that I wanted.  When we got closer to the race location there were literally two restaurants within reasonable driving distance.  The food was typical bar food.  You could get pasta dishes, burgers, fries and salads.  If you are vegan, gluten free or vegetarian I found it difficult to find those foods.

From the top of SC!

Southern food is amazing and I will sometimes cheat on my sugar/grain free diet but not before a race!  If you have dietary restrictions bring your own food with you.  The cost of food was reasonable and you could get dinner for $10-20.  I brought my own food for the morning and did not look into what kind of breakfast was offered near where we stayed.

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton

What kind of critters are there?  What are the trails on the course like?  How much elevation is lost and gained in Quest for the Crest 50k ?

The question I always ponder and research before going anywhere new is what can kill me on the trail.  North Carolina has panthers/cougars, bear, a variety of poisonous snakes (some that can swim very well), poisonous spiders and poisonous plants.  Honestly I saw none of these and felt safe the entire time.

The trails are simply amazing!  They varied from steep, rocky and rooty to buffed out switchbacks.  I felt that the course really leveled the playing field and offered a challenge for everyone.  The single track was stunning and the views on the ridge were jaw dropping!

Mid race at Quest For Crest 50k, taken by Sean Blanton

Plan on more rocks than runnable terrain and more steeps than switch backs but where it is buffed out you can really move!  The course gains about 12k and loses about 12k and trust, my legs were sure to let me know that!  Being from the White Mountains I found this course to be in my favor with the challenging terrain and tight single track.  The ridges were unique and reminded me more of high meadows than the rocky alpine zones in the Whites.

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina High Point!

Overall I give Quest for the Crest 50k 5 stars and something to put on your bucket list!  I chose to spend my extra time high pointing the neighboring states but if I go back I would certainly spend more time exploring the local trails as it looked like there was a lot to offer!

My vacation buddy Elizabeth! Crazy New Hampshire Chicks! We had so much fun at the race!

St John Trail Running

We love St John trail running!  Sadly the island got slammed with two hurricanes in the fall and is still recovering.  The campground at Cinnamon bay was by far the nicest place on the island and we hope that they rebuild it.  Kenny Chesney has set up a foundation to help raise money to help rebuild the island and it is awesome to see him bring so many people together to help repair the broken island.

I love so many things about St John, my favorite being the incredible trails, the awesome people the low key vibe, the beautiful snorkeling and beaches!  There is something special about that island.

Trail running!

What are the trails like?  Are there dangerous creatures are there?  What is the weather like?

The trails are amazing!  They are rugged, steep and fun!  The offer wonderful views and you can run through lush forests and arid desert.  The Trail Bandit map is pretty sweet and will help guide you through over 30 miles of trail!

High pointing!

There really are not any dangerous creatures on the island.  You will see donkeys, goats, iguana, lizards, hermit crabs, mosquitos, snakes and cats.  There are some to watch out for in the water such as jelly fish, sea urchins, barracuda and nurse sharks.  (The worse we experienced was being stung by a jellyfish)

Snorkeling!
It felt so nice to be wearing a tank top and sweating!

The weather is hot, it typically rains for a few minutes at night.  It is not very windy so the camping can be quite muggy.  We just leave the fly off of the tent and use the tarp for shade and rain protection.  The sun is very bright so be sure to bring good sunglasses and sunblock!

Coral!

Which side of the road do they drive on?  Is there camping?  Are there flights that go to the island?

Driving is done on the left side of the road even though the steering wheel is on the left side of the car.  The roads are very steep with a lot of twists and turns.  It is a very easy island to navigate so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.

There was camping and hopefully will be again.  Cinnamon Bay was the nicest campground!  They had very nice outside showers with private stalls and clean toilets and sinks.  The campsites all had cooking grates and fire rings.  They were very well kept and I highly suggest bringing a tarp or buying one while you are out there to hang over your site as it does rain sometimes for a few minutes.

More fishies!

There are no flights to St John, you will have to fly to St Thomas and take a ferry.  There are ferries that run from most of the islands in the area so fly into whichever is easier for you.  The ferry ride is about 25 minutes.  We typically rent a car in St Thomas to make things easier.  There are two ferries that you can take.  Currently you can only use the Red Hook Ferry as Charlotte Amalie is no longer running.

Incredible view from a run

Is it expensive?  Do you need a passport?

St John is located in the USVI.  Hotels can be expensive but you can rent places for reasonable prices through AirBNB.  I have not stayed at any of the hotels but most are located in Cruz Bay.  Caneel Bay had a lovely resort but I have heard that they will not be rebuilding after the storm.  The best meal I ever had was at ZoZo’s which was in Caneel Bay.

Evening running on the island
Dinner in the islands!

Expect to pay around $20-$60 for dinner (more in some of the fancy places).  Lunch is typically $10-20 and we ate breakfast for $5 at the Starfish market.  Drinks range from $5-12 unless you hit up one of the many happy hour specials which are between $1-5.

our campsite!
Ram head point

You do need to bring your passport for the return back to the United States.   There was a very short and easy customs line and it did not take long to get into the terminal at the airport.  Plan on being there 2-3 hours prior to your departure time.  There is plenty of food inside the terminal.

Aside from St Johnntrail running are there other activities?  Do they have trail races on the island?

There are so many different things to do on the Island!  You can snorkel at one of the many beautiful beaches, take excursions to other islands, fish, relax on the beach, kite surf, sail, kayak, shop and so much more!  It really is a place that has it all!

Mutants on a wild adventure!
The cool things that can be found on the trails! This was before our fun bushwack!

There is a trail race and a road race that are both quite popular.  The 8 tuff miles is a run on pavement and there is also the St John trail race which is 13.6 miles.  I have not run either of them but hope to run them someday!

Trying out paddle boards in the islands!

I would highly recommend a trail running trip to St John Island!  Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Trail running and racing Arizona

Something just felt right when I saw an ad for the Black Canyon 100k trail race.  I wanted to know what trail running in Arizona was like!  The photos looked amazing and it was a great time of year for escaping from the long winters of New Hampshire.  The skiing is fun but it is also nice to go somewhere warm and feel the sun on my skin.

Bumble Bee Arizona trails
Arizona Trails

Unfortunately a muscle tear in my hip area turned into a huge pile of adhesions and sidelined me since October.  I would get better, get worse, think I was healed and then realized I wasn’t.  I thought I was in the clear until we did a hike on very unstable snow and two weeks before the race I was hobbling around in pain again.  Being stubborn I went to the race and sadly dropped at mile 20.

It was motivation to finally fix this issue so I ruled out a stress fracture and saw two body work specialists where I experienced very painful massage, active release and dry needling along with chiropractic adjustments.  I am feeling incredible now and wish I had gone sooner, although if I had been able to run I would never have taken up skimo so if I could turn back the clock I would not change a thing!

Sunset in Bumblebee Arizona
Fun in the desert!
Mayer Arizona

Arizona, this is probably my absolute favorite trail running destination so far!  The race was in February and typically the temperatures are a bit warmer than we had but it was still wonderful!  Normal daytime temperatures are in the 60’s with the night dipping into low 40’s.  For us we had 30-40 degrees during the day, 20’s at night and a snowstorm (not typical)

Cold at the Grand Canyon

We camped at the Bumble Bee Ranch in Mayer,  Arizona.  They were very nice there and the camping was in a small area that had nice bathrooms and showers.  The race course literally passed by the camping area.  It was a great place to spend a couple of nights.

Ryan running some of the Black Canyon course

The race was absolutely fabulous!  Jamil Coury is the race director as well as the CEO for Aravaipa Running.  This race was flawless, perfectly marked trails, excellent pre race information, enthusiastic volunteers, fully stocked aid stations and an incredible vibe!  I actually enjoyed the race so much, even with a DNF that I plan to be back!

What is it like trail running in Arizona?  What kind of scary animals are there?  Is Arizona all desert, does it have trees?  What does it feel like to run into a cactus?
Trail by the ranch
Cuddling with the mountain lion at Bumble Bee Ranch

Running in the desert is fun, there are killer views the whole time due to the lack of trees.  The variety of cacti is really cool and the terrain is quite runnable.  There are some technical sections but they are not too bad if you are used to running on rocks.  The terrain is rolling and all runnable.  I found it to be a great way to run a faster pace than I am used to in the White Mountains.  I prefer running mountains but I also love to be able to stride out and feel my legs just go!

Hiking in Sedona

Scary animals…we did not see any but the biggest hazards are poisonous snakes, bears, mountain lions, scorpions, killer bees and other insects that pack a punch.  We saw absolutely none of these and honestly, the only thing that hurt me was running into a cactus and that was not even too bad.  Aside from the initial sting I had no idea that I had spines stuck in my leg until I felt something hanging off my leg and looked down.  Pulling them out hurt more than getting stuck with them.

Grand Canyon after the snow
The Grand Canyon South Rim
South Rim of the  Grand Canyon

Arizona was really unique because it had so much variety!  You could go to Flagstaff and run mountains (avalanche danger was very high so we did not tag the highpoint Humphreys Peak).  Flagstaff had trees, mountains, snow and felt like home.  Sedona had drier air and a mix of cacti, small trees and beautiful red rocks.

We also travelled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and went down a few miles in the snow storm.  It did end up clearing up and we had great views!  I loved dropping down in the canyon and wished we had more time to explore the area.  There were trees there and very cool rock features.  The Lake Powell area was very desolate and pretty in it’s own way.  I am not sure trail running here would be too pleasant due to very dry and sandy conditions.  There was almost no plant life here but there were neat landmarks such as Antelope Canyon and Horshoe Bend.

Antelope Canyon
Horshoe Bend

February is a tough time of year to find open campgrounds and showers were even harder to come by.  Unless you have an RV you are not welcome to shower in any of the year round campsites that offer showers.  The national park campsites do offer coin operated showers.  Expect to pay for a National Park Pass and a $35 campsite fee.  Your National Park pass is good for 7 days so you will use it if you plan to see some sights.

To our surprise truck stop showers were the best find!  For $12 you get to take a clean shower in a huge stall that you can lock the door and there is no time limit.  Ryan and I took turns showering and were able to both take a shower for the $12.  It was a bit sketchy but I would take a truck stop shower again!

Antelope Canyon
More antelope canyon

Do not expect to be alone if you are doing any of the popular attractions such as the canyons, Horshoe Bend, etc.  There were thousands of people, multiple tour busses and the bathrooms were so disgusting I preferred to “hold it” than use them.  Even grocery store and gas station bathrooms were a disaster in the areas that offered more tourist type attractions.

I know this is disgusting but every single toilet in the Lake Powell area including some of the campground ones looked like this. This is not okay.
Lake Powell

The cost of visiting Arizona was reasonable.  Camping ranged from $10-35 a night and they all had nice tent sites.  Food was very affordable with the exception of Sedona which was much more expensive (plan to pay between $25-60 for dinner).  Breakfast and lunch were very affordable as well (except for Sedona which ranged from $15-20).  Sedona was beautiful and worth checking out.  Due to the time of year only one campsite was open just outside of Sedona, during the peak season there are a lot more to pick from.  We stayed at Manzanita campground and it was perfect!

Ryan in Sedona
Sedona

Overall I would recommend visiting Arizona for a winter escape!  The trail running is fun and the vibe in Arizona is really laid back!  Don’t let the overdevelopment of Pheonix concern you when you land.  It is a city, just like any other major US City.  The airport is easy to get in and out of and you will have plenty of places to stay just outside of the airport.  

Sedona

Grand Canyon
The La Sportiva Lycan was the perfect shoe for running the trails in Arizona.  It offered plenty of support and cushion while maximizing traction.  The clothing was perfect for the variety of conditions we encountered!  My Julbo Aerolite sunglasses with Spectron 3 lenses kept my eyes shaded from the sun, they are light and comfortable.
Running part of the Black Canyon course in my Lycans!

We plan to check out other parts of Arizona the next time we visit and can’t wait to share the experience!  I wish we had more time to run in Flagstaff but there is always another time to explore!   If you have any questions about our trip feel free to reach out!

The storm moving out of the canyon
Antelope Canyon

Trail Running the White Mountains

Have you ever wondered what it is like running in the White Mountains of New Hampshire?

I might be biased but living in the White Mountains is nothing short of incredible!  I have been to many places and the only place even remotely close to the trails and mountains in the Whites is Alaska.  If you want to experience the hardest terrain in the country then you need to visit New Hampshire and check out our mountains!

Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography in the presidential range
Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography in the presidential range
What are the trails like?  What kind of scary animals do you need to watch out for?  Can you camp?  Are there any races in the White Mountains?

The trails are loaded with rocks.  Honestly, you will be speed hiking most of it and as a result you really should not attempt to actually run the White Mountains until you are comfortable running on technical trails.  I started out by hiking the Whites and eventually transitioned to running them.  The weather is unpredictable and the trails are very rugged and remote.  Plan on the miles ticking by much slower than you are used to.

New Hampshire has bear, rare mountain lion sightings, moose (which are more dangerous than bear), black flies, mosquitos, deer flies and porcupine (more of a hazard for your curious pup)

Camping in the White Mountains is plentiful and most campgrounds are run by the Forest Service.  There are pay huts, shelters and platforms in the mountains but be sure to research them as some will require you to make a reservation or pay to stay.  There are camping rules that can be found at the White Mountain National Forest website.

The terrain in the White Mountains is very rugged

There are some great races in the White Mountains and if the runners can help to keep the trails clean during the race and be respectful to hikers there will be more!  Right now these are a few of the trail races in the White Mountains.  They are all wicked fun and well organized!

Mount Chocorua Race-   14 mile course with a mix of smooth single track, steep slabs, slippery rocks, significant elevation gain,  and killer views from the summit!

Kilkenny Ridge Race-a 26 mile traverse across the Kilkenny ridge which brings you to the top of two New Hampshire 4000 foot mountains.  There is a 50 mile distance that will be an out and back on the ridge.  A great mix of technical trails, great single track, summit views and beautiful forest!

Some of the trails have ladders and bridges

Randolph Ramble-a 10 kilometer-long, rugged, self-supported trail race through the Great North Woods in the mountain town of Randolph, New Hampshire, at the base of the Northern Presidentials.

Kismet Cliff Run- a five-mile race that navigates the rollercoaster trails of Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges. A great mix of single track and double track with great views of Cathedral ledge and Echo Lake.  There is also a half marathon that takes you over North Moat Mountain which offers incredible views and strenuous climbing!

White Lake Ultras – A 6, 12, and 24 hour loop course around White Lake.  Not very techical but the 2.4 mile loop is very scenic and fun!  Camping right at the start/finish.

Cranmore Mountain Race-This race offers great single track, ski trails and a very well organized event!  It is about 6.2 miles long.

Loon Mountain race-Although this is not a technical course it is extremely steep and challenging with the Upper Walking Boss being the crux of the race.  The course is 6.6 miles long.  The views are incredible and it also serves as the mountain running championship race.

Some of the great views the White Mountains have to offer!
The snowfield on Jefferson
Is it expensive?  Do you need special gear?  What are the rules regarding dogs, trash, navigation in the White Mountains?  Do you need permits?

New Hampshire is not very expensive to visit and there are many great places to get food and drinks.  Our economy thrives on tourism so please visit the small local businesses!   One of our favorites is Delaneys in North Conway because they serve food until 11pm, have awesome American style food and drinks and have incredible sushi! You can’t go wrong with so many places to pick from!  Check out Peaches for breakfast, it is small but has wonderful breakfast food in a quaint setting!

The pups on the summit of Mount Chocorua
Pups love the mountains!

You do not need special gear to run the mountains but you will want to carry more than you think you need.  Plan to move around 2-3 miles an hour.  3-4mph is considered fast.  Be respectful of hikers and always be a good ambassador!  Most people will cheer you on and let you by if you are polite and give them plenty of notice that you are coming up on them.

Some of the more runnable terrain on Franconia Ridge
Clouds over the mountains

I think the La Sportiva Akyra is the best shoe for the White Mountains.  They offer killer traction and cushion.  You want to have good traction.  The rocks can be very slippery!  I always carry a windbreaker with me and a light pair of gloves and a light hat.  I have been in a snowstorm in the summer!  It can be 80 degrees down low and 30 up high, if a thunderstorm creeps up on you there may even be hail.

You may want to cary a space blanket.  Two liters of water is wise and a filter or life straw. I love the MSR Trail Shot! There are some great lightweight filters out there!  Most water crossings are on maps but some routes can be very dry in the summer with very little to filter.  I carry a mid size running pack in the summer and a bigger one in the winter.

Winter can be a challenge with water.  Most water sources are frozen and bottles or packs can freeze.  We use a Platypus to hold water inside our packs and place it against our back to keep it from freezing.

Huntingtons Ravine

In the winter you will want a puffy jacket, hand warmers, warm mittens and hat and possibly an extra layer.  Carry more food than you think you need.  The huts have water and you can buy treats which can make you happy on a hot day or if you run out of food!  Bring cash.  The huts operate on a seasonal schedule so be sure to check to see if they are open.

There are no leash laws in the White Mountains–IF–your dog is friendly and under voice command.  Please leave your aggressive dogs at home or on a leash.  This has been an issue in recent years.  Most of the locals have very well behaved trail dogs and we don’t want to lose the privilege of them being able to enjoy mountain adventures with us.  Be sure to visit the dog bakery at Four Your Paws only which is by far the best pet store ever, plus it is locally owned and operated!  Celebrate your pups birthday there too, they will spoil your dog!

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in New Hampshire. Unlike most states, New Hampshire allows dogs in its major national forest, the White Mountain National Forest. However, they must be under verbal command or restrained at all times. … Dogs are also allowed in most state parks, though not at picnic areas or beaches.

Going up Mount Chocorua
Are maps important?

You should always carry a map.   If you plan on going above treeline it helps with finding bail out routes during bad storms or white out conditions.

The White Mountains live by a Leave No Trace Ethic.  Please pack out everything including food scraps.  There has been an issue over the last few years with trash and feces with toilet paper/baby wipes on the trail.  Nobody needs to see that and the forest service is overwhelmed with trying to clean up the mess.  If you have to relieve yourself and need to know the rules follow this link.

You do not need permits but most trail heads require a parking pass which can be paid at the lot by cash or check.   You can buy a season pass or you can get a week pass.  

Above treeline in the clouds
This is a pretty standard trail in the White Mountains
What is the Hike Safe Card?  Are the mountains dangerous?  Where can I find out about trail conditions and weather?

The Hike Safe Card is an affordable rescue insurance plan that you can buy.  This is not going to cover being wreckless or negligence.  You still need to carry the appropriate gear, adequate food and water, a map, etc.  Cell phones do not work in most of the Whites so do not depend on that either.

You should never plan on a rescue and your goal should always be to get yourself out of a situation on your own.  There are many organizations in New Hampshire that teach mountain skills and if you are not comfortable venturing into the mountains yet take a course!  Remember each rescuer is a volunteer.  The Forest Service is under funded and can’t afford to keep up with the number of rescues they have had to deal with over the last few years.  Just be safe and take care of yourself and you will be fine!

The Mountains are beautiful!

There are some wonderful places to check the trail conditions and the weather.  Here are my favorite websites:

New England Trail Conditions: hikers and runners post trail conditions here all the time!

NOAA Recreational Forecast:Short term detailed forecast for various elevations.  Great for deciding which mountains to do based on winds, clouds and overall weather.

Higher Summits Forecast: This is perfect for the short term weather forecast on the higher summits.  Best for summits over 5000 feet!

See the Northern Lights: Yes, you can see the northern lights in New Hampshire!  The best times to see them are from late March-April and August-September

Philbrick Photography captured a 26 year long dream of mine on film! Northern lights in Jackson, NH
Best time to visit New Hampshire

The best time to visit New Hampshire is during the winter or summer.  The shoulder seasons can be very icy and the mountains can hold onto the snow even into June and the snow and ice can start in September.  There are only a couple of campgrounds open in the winter and many to choose from in the summer.

Mount Chocorua

You should put a trip to the White Mountains on your bucket list!  The trail races are a great way to follow a marked trail with aid stations so we hope you can come experience what the White Mountains have to offer!

It is so beautiful above treeline

 

Destination running

Ever since my first trip out west in 1997 I have loved traveling.  I love to explore new places that require me to use my body to get there.  It doesn’t matter if it involves mountaineering, hiking, mountain biking or trail running.  Getting out into the wilderness makes me so very happy!  It is so fun to see new critters, plant life, different rocks and dirt, different climates and colors!  It also allows me to take a break from our fast paced and social media based world.

Arikok running
Arikok running

I have been trying to figure out what method of social media I prefer.  I gave up blogging to do more Facebook and Instagram and found that Facebook is really not for me.  In an effort to simplify my life I am choosing to return to blogging and to use Instagram -@dangergirldh – to share photos of my adventures.

Ryan taking in the views
Iguana!

Last week I went to Aruba with Ryan for a quick escape from the very long New Hampshire winters.  This winter has been incredible since taking up skimo racing!  I have been snowboarding for over 20 years and learning to ski down a hill is challenging but one day I will be good at it!  Skiing up a hill though, that is totally addicting!

Photo by Cait Bourgault during Wild Corn Skimo race
Photo by Erik Howes during the wild corn skimo race

Have you trail run in Aruba?  Have you ever wondered what the trails are like?  Did you even know that trails do exist there?  Well, they do and they offer everything from technical singletrack to buttery smooth jeep roads!

Ryan running by the ocean
Running from the California Lighthouse

The wildlife on the island is pretty low key with the rattlesnake being labeled as the top of the food chain in Aruba.  There were very few bugs the first week of April which was nice.  We saw donkeys, goats, lizards, iguanas, rabbits and there are bats.  They all seemed to leave us alone except for an Iguana at the beach checking out backpacks for food.

Pretty views of the ocean from up high!

Arikok national forest will cost you $11 per person to visit but there are many single track and double track trails that will take you up and over the highest peaks on the island and down to the ocean.  The maps are not accurate and there are many unmarked trails.  Most of the trails are not signed but have 4×4 wood poles with various colored stripes to mark the trails.  You will encounter cacti, divi trees and many plants with sharp prickers.  The island is mostly desert so expect it to be very dry.  Bring plenty of water because there is no shade and it is very hot!

Trails in Arikok
Trail in Arikok

Mount Jamanota, the highest point on the island is 189 meters high. It is pretty easy to navigate by sight so we were able to figure out which trails to take to the summit.  Mount Hooiberg which is not in Arikok but instead sits in a neighborhood is worth checking out.  It is only .2 miles from the parking lot to the summit and there are stairs that will take you to the summit which sits at 165 meters.  There are about 563 stairs that will take you to the summit which offers views of most of the island.  You will gain about 300 feet of elevation in .2 miles.

Hooiberg stairs to summit
Summit of Hooiberg

There were more trails by the California Lighthouse which consisted of dirt jeep roads that were quite flat and ran along the ocean but there were also many mountain bike single track trails that branched off of the jeep roads!  They were technical and on very rolling terrain.

Ryan running jeep roads

There is no camping on the island and most hotels are very large with very nice pools.  There was not much of a nightlife on the island when we went.  The majority of the people there were families with small children and elderly people.  The restaurants were all very good and the bars were fun (there were many pool bars) but the drinks were very weak.

 

Pool bar!
Pool Bar!

The beaches are all very clean and the water was a great place to cool off from the heat.  It was almost 90 degrees every day.  The water was very clear and the snorkeling offered some wonderful fish sightings with so many brightly colored ones swimming around!  There are strong currents in Aruba so stay close to shore if you are not a strong swimmer and even being a strong swimmer I did not feel comfortable with how pushy some of the snorkeling areas were. Baby beach was our favorite place to snorkel and if you go there be sure to get a drink and bite to eat at Big Mammas!  They made the best drinks on the island!

In front of Pure Ocean
By the Pier

Expect to pay between $20-$40 USD for your meals.  Drinks start at about $8.  Most appetizers started at $12.  Make reservations for any dinner you plan to have on the beach.  They have some incredible beach side dining that typically starts at 6pm but you are possibly not going to get a table if you do not have a reservation.

 

Crazy road in Arikok

You do not need to have a car but it really came in handy when trying to see the whole island.  There are many places that a car is tough to take through so it may be worth spending the extra money on the jeep if you are not comfortable on backcountry roads in a small car.  They also had many jeep and four wheeler tours which allow you to see a lot of the island.  We enjoyed seeing a bit less but trekking off the beaten path and seeing about 3 people during our ten mile run.

Snorkeling
Malmok snorkeling

Flying to Aruba from Boston is easy.  We took direct flights on Jet Blue which allowed us to fly out early and be on the island by noon and our flight out was not until 4pm so we got to do some stuff in the morning.  Most hotels will allow you to check out at noon which is plenty of time because you will need to be at the airport 3 hours prior to you departure.  Traffic is crazy so plan accordingly so you can be at the airport in time.  Customs is slow and takes a lot of patience to get through so eat up before you go.

Crazy swamp with cool birds
Swamp with cool birds

I would recommend Aruba for a trail running adventure.  It is very safe and not once did we feel worried about our safety.  Obviously avoid shady neighborhoods at night.  We found the locals to be either very friendly or very rude so just smile and be nice.  There were a lot of very rude tourists so I am sure some of the locals are tired of  mean people.

 

Trails in the desert

My La Sportiva Lycan shoes were awesome for the varied terrain in Aruba.  I wore my Julbo Aerolite sunglasses with Zebra Lenses which were perfect in the bright sun.  My La Sportiva clothing wicked away my sweat and helped keep me comfortable with zero chaffing!

If you have any questions about traveling to Aruba for some running feel free to reach out and I will do the best I can to help you plan your trip! kfolcik2@gmail.com

Happy running!

Running in my Lycans and Sportiva clothing!