Sunday, May 3, 2009

Camden Hills - TMR spring fling

Trail Monster Running did a road trip to the Camden Hills today for a planned 20 miler on most of the trails in the Camden Hills State Park. Ian came up with the route and printed out full-page color maps for all. Included in the mix were myself, Ian, Jamie, Floyd, Stephen, Ryan, Jim, Shauna, Danielle, Kelly, and Cacky. The group split immediately as the guys were going for Ian's 8 peak/20 miler, Shauna was doing her own run, and Danielle, Kelly, and Cacky were out for a power walk. I'm not posting an elevation profile but Jamie has one here (which is missing about 1/2 mile of trail). The weather was really perfect: upper 50s with little wind and high cloud cover, allowing us to see the stunning view that these trails afford without hot sun beating down on us.

My pics are here
Ian's pics are here

(long report)
We had a pretty quick run up the short, steep Mt. Battie trail to start the run, because its there and you just have to do it this way. Only about 1/4 mile after descending from the peak on the Tablelands trail toward Mt. Megunticook, my left foot snuck under an elevated root on the foot plant, which then kept it locked to the ground when I tried to lift off. Splat! I fell on a typical maine mountain trail - big jagged rocks, etc - except that there was actually a stone waterbar crossing the trail made of 1/2 buried upturned stones with the jagged edges sticking up like a fence post. My left arm took one for the team - This arm landed on the stones but kept the rest of my body from major damage. One stone did hit my chest at the lowest rib but didn't penetrate or brake it. Sweet - not even a mile into the run and I was down. Luckily it was just a flesh wound and after a 30s break - we kept moving. (you can see some of the damage in the pictures but my picture, at least, didn't capture the thin strawberry that is most of the length of my forearm).

We took the nature trail down to the base of Mt. Megunticook, then climbed past the overlook (nice) and the peak, then down the slope trail to the multi-use trail. The slope trail was wicked steep downhill with enough rock to raise the cortisol level but not enough to keep us from running it fast. The nicely graded multi-use trail didn't last long because we took the (ski?) trail back up toward the Megunticook ridge. This was a nice continuous climb that was a good workout for Mt. Washington road race. Ryan requested that Ian include the sky blue trail and after a few hundred feet of climb we took the sky blue trail back down to the multi-use trail. The sky blue trail was really sweet - smooth with a lot of pine straw and very little rock or root. A short distance down the multi-use trail and we turned up to climb Bald rock peak. This was another nice, not too steep, climb. Bald Rock gave us a nice view of Penobscot Bay and the mountains of Acadia National Park.

At this point, Jim and Ryan pressed on with the original plan but Ian, Floyd, Jamie, Stephen, and I decided that we wanted to limit our run to under 4 hours and the 20 mile/8 peak loop wasn't going to happen today (plus Ian had to get back for an appointment in Camden). So we skipped the Frohock out and back and descended Bald rock, crossed the multi-use trail, and took the Cameron Mt. trail, which is an old rocky, wet road bed. This was really the only mud on the run. It's not a great trail but it did take us to Cameron Mountain, which is a very short peak in the middle of a blueberry barren. Subsititute blueberry for heather and it's all very Scottish looking. Quick up, quick scan of the panaromic view, and quick down, took us back down into the woods for a another long climb up the back side of Megunticook ridge. At this point my legs were starting to burn but I was pretty persistant to maintain a running gait (if not a running pace). We followed this up to Zeke's trail then descended onto the begininng of the Maiden Cliff trail. This section of the trail was fairly sharply down and absolutely covered with large sharp boulders which didn't really let us move very quickly. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to run out to Maiden Cliff and the great view of Megunticook lake, so we did a U turn onto the Jack Williams trail which parallels the ridge trail a few hundred feet below the Mt. Megunticook ridge line. All pretty uneventful until Jamie hit the wall and stopped for some peanut butter. Stephen slowed down to run with Jamie. My legs were sore but worse I was starting to get little muscle spasms (charlie horses/cramping) in various foot and leg muscles every time I tripped on a root (which was becoming very frequent, though none of them sent me to the ground). Ian gave me a salt tablet which may or may not have helped but I never got any really full blown cramps, at least.

Ian, Floyd, and I rounded a corner expecting to start to climb Mt. Battie and were all a bit disappointed to see that we actually had to descend down a big valley before reclimbing to Mt. Battie's peak (which was about the height we were at this point). Oh well. Down and up we went to the top of Mt. Battie but not before we got a call from Cacky to say she was going to pick up Jim and Ryan, who were in no mood to do the whole 20 and found themselves way on the other side of the park. We climbed to summit where we found Randy Woods and family. A quick high five and then a quick climb up the stairs of the tower, but not before tripping on the first step and jamming my finger into the stone step. From here it was all downhill to the cars but a mostly really scary downhill with my level of leg fatigue and general lack of balance. Luckily, neither Ian, nor Floyd, nor I had an fatal falls and we got down reasonably quickly, though I'm not sure any quicker than we ran up at the beginning of the run. Ian was off pretty quickly for his meeting and within a few minutes Stephen and Jamie came flying to the finish. Five minutes later Cacky and Danielle arrived with Jim and Ryan who seemed no worse for the wear.

The burgers and beer flowed at Cuzzy's following the run, which happens to be where Cacky and I had ours last beer before getting married the next day (well same building, it was O'Neils at the time).

Total distance - 15.3 miles
Total time - 3:50:53
Total climb - a lot

Totaly awesome run, with great fun apres-run lunch in town, and good company during the travel.

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