Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reservoir Run

Reservoir No. 6, a few miles northwest of Hartford, CT, is an excellent place to exercise for anyone living close to the city or its western suburbs. It's a 3.6 mile loop on dirt road, half-open and sunny by the water on the east side and half-wooded and shaded under the trees on the west side. Smaller hiking trails branch off on the west side and head up Talcott Mountain where you can hook up with the Metacomet Trail and run for miles and miles and miles.

Cool personal history note: That tower up on top of Talcott Mtn. in the photo below is pretty much my first memory ever, from when I was just 2 years old. We lived in Simsbury on the other side of ridge, and the road to home had a direct view out to the hill and the tower. It may also have been the site of one of my first ever hikes, though I don't really remember the hike, I just remember being at the top.

Friday, November 4, 2011

unrelated interlude

"the worst things in the world are justified by belief" -U2

I hope that at some point humanity cuts the crap and stops promoting cultures in which it is tacitly OK for one group of people who believe something (without any actual evidence supporting their belief) to punish others for not sharing their faith. I have no illusions that will happen during my lifetime, so it'll likely be my dying wish. So be it.

"fight the REAL enemy..." -Sinead O'Connor

"imagine no religion" -John Lennon

Thursday, September 1, 2011

my evening run

I've been enjoying the cross-country trails over at Amherst College lately. They're only a mile or so from my door, so I can link up on most regular runs and create all sorts of good loops and swoops through the woods and on the grassy hillsides there.

Photography note #5,723: you think it's hard to compose a good self-portrait while sitting still? Try using the self-timer while moving and trying to capture decent running form. Yeesh. I'm still shooting with a Nikon D300, and I still love it, but I'm also very much looking forward to my next camera, which WILL have a remote control. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011


On Saturday I raced my fourth 70.3 event, the first annual Mascomaman half-ironman triathlon at Mascoma Lake in west-central New Hampshire. 

This should have been an "A race" but I just didn't train enough for it. And it was a TOUGH course, on a very hot and humid day. The run had WAY more hills than any other 70.3 I've done, and the bike course was certainly harder than at either Timberman or Syracuse.

It started with a very foggy swim, with plenty of inefficient veering because you couldn't see the next buoy (OK, OK, so I tend to do a fair bit of inefficient veering even when visibility is good... so I guess nothing new there), though that cleared up by the second lap. At the halfway point in the swim you had to run up out of the water and onto the beach for a second before going back in, and I actually really enjoyed that. The bike course is a good one, especially the first two-thirds or so of it. But there's an 8-mile long hill from 40–48 (basically all the way from Andover to Springfield), and believe me, that is a long way to climb on a bike. I was so tired by the time I got to the top, and the quick descent on the other side didn't revive me as much as I'd hoped. For the first time ever, my legs cramped on the bike during a race, right at mile 55. They never cramped on the run though, for which I'm very grateful. That was one long half-marathon as it was. Very hilly and hot in the second half. I finally crossed the finish line in 6:07:41.

I got a little bit of heatstroke after this one, and felt kind of nauseous for most of the ride back down to Massachusetts. I think I'm some kind of mutant North Pole man, and really don't do very well in heat and humidity. Still, it was a fun race that was remarkably well put together for such a small, first-time event.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Madison Gulf

On Sunday, May 29th, my friends Alex and Pete and I (and Gary B. Dog) set out for a loop hike of Mt. Madison, ascending via the Madison Gulf Trail and descending via the Osgood Trail. Aside from the usual above treeline goodness, the best part about this trek was the surprising feel of remoteness once you start up into Madison Gulf from the larger Great Gulf proper. The side ridges start to close in around you and it starts to feel tucked away up there. Remote. Wild. 

Madison Gulf Trail (photo by Ben Kimball)
into the waterfalls on the way up Madison Gulf Trail. 

This is the main drainage coming down off the south side of Osgood Ridge. Immediately to the left is the actual Madison Gulf stream. The two meet here at a ledgy, double waterfall grotto. It might have been neat to try to capture the full spread with a really wide angle lens and a tripod, but on long hikes like this you just gotta snap when you can and try to not slow your buds down too much. 

Madison Gulf Trail

Madison Gulf Trail
there are a few steep bits on the headwall

Madison Gulf TrailMadison Gulf Trail

 Madison Gulf Trail

The Parapet Trail on Mt. Madison
a rugged traverse on the Parapet Trail

junction of the Parapet Trail and the Osgood Trail on Mt. Madison
junction of the Parapet Trail and the Osgood Trail

Osgood Trail on Mt. Madison in the Presidential Range
on the Osgood

The Osgood Trail on Mt. Madison in the Presidential Range
final descent

Note: Steve Smith put together a nice blog entry about a very similar loop hike last year. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

dirty friends

A few weeks ago I put on a bootleg 4K cross-country race up along the rough, hilly trail network behind the hospital in Concord. Fabulous prizes were awarded to the winners, but the MOST fabulous prizes were awarded to the muddiest contestants at the end. The only rule was that at the halfway point -- an undisclosed location along the trail out in the woods -- you had to stop and chug a beer (I'd set 'em out beforehand). The race was called the Hell of the Hill (HOTH), and I had held it once before. Totally different cast of enthusiastic hooligans this time around.

I'd marked the course the night before, but in the meantime someone had come along and taken 90% of the flagging down, so I'd been racing like a madman for the hour prior to this putting up new flagging. Needless to say, I didn't race it myself. 

The starting gun was my camera flash. But don't look too closely at the shot above. I was about 20 feet in front of them, with the focus unknowingly locked to infinity... oops. The cars look sharp. Not my finest photo hour. Just wanted to share the energy and enthusiasm of this spirited crew; I'm gonna miss 'em.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rock 'N Race 2011

This race was an important one for me. I'll be moving from NH next week, and this was a last hurrah / vindication type thing. Good weather and good competition, though I admit the whole thing was slightly tinged with resentment at the way I'm leaving the state and at someone I didn't particularly want to see who I saw just before the start. It ended up being a pretty good 5K for me, with my second or third fastest time for the distance (19:31 -- a 6:16 pace), and I felt good overall.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Franconia Ridge rules

Did a classic traverse of Franconia Ridge with Pete Bowman and Gary B. Dog today. Up Mt. Lafayette by the Old Bridle Path, across the ridge, and down Falling Waters. An awesome early April "winter" trek.

at the first overlook on "Agony Ridge"

Cannon Cliff from Lafayette

hello from here (photo by Pete)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Owl's Head in winter

For Maura's birthday, she and her husband Brian and I (and their adventurous dog Miles) skied in to and hiked up Owl's Head, a remote peak in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire's White Mountains.

It's a long haul to this peak even in warmer seasons, but winter adds its own challenges (like crossing frigid, bridge-less rivers). One of the more significant ones is the climb to the summit itself. In summer most people ascend a landslide scar but with snow there's too much avalanche danger, so instead you go up a nearby route called the Brutus bushwhack, which I can now say is steep enough in places to make you wonder what the heck that guy Brutus was drinking. Also, there was at least an extra foot of snow once you neared the 4,000 foot level. Pretty tired after this all-day trip...

Taking a quick snack break after the Black Pond bushwhack. 

Leaving the wilderness near the end of a long day. 
This was at Franconia Falls and we still had four miles to 
ski out, but the bushwhacks were over and the rest was easy.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Two friends (Alex and Becky) and I skied up the Snapper Trail and Carriage Rd (them on tele & me on backcountry) on Mt. Moosilauke. It was about 6 miles one-way, and we used climbing skins most of the way up. The shot above is nearing the top of the ridge. It had snowed about 6-7 fresh inches the night before, on top of the several feet already there, and it kept snowing all day. Met Steve and Martha up top! They were just coming down off the summit after skinning up the Gorge Brook Trail. Fantastic skiing conditions. Going down was a total blast.