Monday, August 26, 2013

FKT - Recap: Aborted Attempt (Weather)

In my last posting, I announced my intentions on going for the FKT on the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of NH. As the time approached, I felt really good about my chances to have perfect weather to make an attempt. And then mother nature intervened….

With only a small window span on my vacation to do this, I needed weather to work out. My intention was to tackle the attempt on Tuesday, 8/13. My excellent partner was willing to drop me off at the northern end and drive to the southern point during my escapade. She plan was to do some hiking while I was running. However, the forecast for the 13th became rain. This meant at least a delay but required careful attention to the weather forecast from Mount Washington Observatory considering Mt Washington alone has some of the world’s harshest weather. Checking the forecast required a trip 20 miles away into Bridgton for internet access. A check on Tuesday showed high winds and cold temps for Wednesday. By high winds, I mean hurricane force gusts on the summits. With the route being on the summits exposed to the wind, clearly this meant a postponement to Thursday. This was my last day in a small window I could make the FKT attempt. Friday had to be focused on getting ready for my return home back to Philadelphia. Wednesday’s check also showed some rough weather in store. While in the past couple of days this meant an instant postponement, this was not the case here. My partner and I came up with a plan to have some benefit for both of us. We would call the AMC number for the weather forecast en route to the White Mountains. If the weather was favorable, we would head up 16 to the northern tip, otherwise, we would stay on 302 to the southern end. The former would mean the attempt would be a go. The latter meant it was being aborted on this trip but I would be doing some running.

Unfortunately, the wind speed is what did the attempt in. Regular speeds of 60 mph were in the forecast. For safety sake, we decided not to make the attempt. However, I made the most of the time in the White Mountains. While the rest of the group hiked, I ran ahead. We agreed on an out and back route up Crawford Path to the Mitzah Hut. Before leaving we got information on how long it would take to hike and I used that information as a gauge how far I could go. With my handheld, map and pack, I was off like a kid in a candy store. In the time, I had to regroup at the AMC hut, I made it to Mt Eisenhower. Once I got above tree-line, it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I felt like I could go on forever. On the way up, the wind was not much of a factor but as I turned back, it was noticeably strong reinforcing I made the right call. My turnaround timing was perfect as my group was just getting to the hut as I returned to the point. After a small stop, we all headed back down. I ran down and back to the car dropping off some gear before running back to the group where I would hike the rest down with them. At the end of the day, I ran nearly 12 miles in the White Mountains, really giving me the confidence about being able to go back and take on the FKT.

While, I did not have the planned experience, the fallback was nearly just as rewarding. Next year, I hope things work out and I will be able to take another crack…but it did mean I felt a bit empty so I filled that with another 50K in my schedule. But that is a post for another day.

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