I decided on a mountain run for President’s day, but with time tight (I really had to get my Northfield gear organized) I decided to stay somewhat local. I’ve run to the summit of Kearsarge eight times but only once previously had I gone up in winter. That time was a very cool sunset run with Albee, Dan, and Boltski back in March of 2005. I knew that the surface would be hard packed as it is a very popular snowmobile destination. I also knew I wouldn’t have company with a 5:30AM start.
|Not really closed for the season|
There would be no sunrise to view on this day, it was snowing lightly and there was some wind as I parked at the base of the Auto Road. I quickly got into my Kahtoola’s and was off. I had my headlamp on for the first mile but really didn’t need it. The surface was smooth and at 11 minute pace I wasn’t going to take a spill. I slowly climbed, not working especially hard, just enjoying being outside and listening to the satisfying crunch of every step.
I hit the parking lot (3.5 miles) in 38 minutes and then hit the single-track trail for the final half mile. This section is usually very rough, but with 2’ of snow and snowmobile traffic packing it down it was smooth and run-able. I hit the summit 7 minutes later. The wind was howling and clouds had pretty much cut off any view. I took a few shots of the fire tower ( a couple of windows were blown out) and then quickly climbed the tower. It was around zero degrees and with the wind it was nasty. I didn’t spend long on top.
It took me just over 4 minutes to cover the ½ mile back down to the parking lot and then the fun really starts. The final 3.5 was very run-able and even the steeper parts didn’t require braking because of the nice cushion of the snow. I came down in near 7:00 pace (25:03) for a very satisfying 8 mile round trip in 1:15.
I threw in another relaxing three miles after that to close out the day on a very satisfying note.