Pemi Loop Run: 7 Hours and 33 Minutes

Date of Run: 6/22/14

Lincoln Woods: 1.4 miles  /  Osseo Trail: 4.1 miles  /  Franconia Ridge Trail: 5.0 Miles  /  Garfield ridge Trail:  6.6 miles  /  Twinway:  2.8 Miles  /  Bondcliff Trail: 8.7 miles  /  Lincoln Woods Trail: 2.9 miles
Guide Book - Total Miles:  31.5 (9,000 feet elevation gained)
GPS - Total Miles: 29.4 (9,271 elevation gained)

Trip Report:
-  Sunday, I planned to run a Pemi Loop, the goal for the day was to run it in 7:45, with and ultimate goal of getting down to 7:00 flat.  I ended up coming in at 7:33 which I was wicked please with considering how I felt on the ascents.
-  Unlike most people who run it, I planned on going clockwise.  My reason is I feel stronger as the day goes on and can really turn on the after-burners once topping South Twin.
- The first 1.4 miles is along the old railroad grade of the Lincoln Woods Trail to the Osseo Trail junction.  This section was revamped over the past two years and the railroad ties have been taken out leaving a nice smooth surface without having to watch out for the ties that can trip you up.  I felt pretty good and jogged at an eight minute pace which was easy enough to do all the way to the Osseo Junction.
- The Osseo Trail has gentle grades and is well maintained for the first few miles, then it gets steep, then levels out, then gets steep again just below the summit of Flume Mountain.  As soon as I started heading uphill I felt like crap!  My La Sportiva Raptors, which I absolutely love, felt like lead weights.  I was a bit shocked at this, I wasn't expecting to run up to the summit but I wasn't expecting my pace to rise above twenty minutes.  This would end up being a theme throughout the day when ascending most summit cones.  I suppose a little of this had to do with hiking Mount Washington the day before and recovering from a minor cold, but more to do with training and nutrition.  I even had to stop for a few seconds on the ladder section of the Osseo Trail.
-  Once I reached the summit of Flume and was greeted with fresh brisk air I felt a little better, then I felt a lot better as I booked it down to the Flume / Liberty col via the Franconia Ridge Trail.  The ascent up to Liberty went well, too, and I made it to the summit with relative ease.
- The next section is down to the Liberty / Lil' Haystack Col, featuring some of the best running along the ridge, the trail has really good footing and you can really pick up the pace through here.  Once again I was a little sluggish ascending Lil' Haystack but felt much better once breaking treeline.  I put on my long sleeve shirt, hat, and light gloves for the run over Lincoln and Lafayette.  Temps were in the low 40's with a brisk 15 -20 mph wind. 
- Heading up Lincoln is from this direction is a mini butt-kicker, it's easy until passing through the 'Gargoyles' then it's a short steep burst up to the summit.  From Lincoln you can book it down then over Mount Truman a sub-peak of Mount Lincoln.  The Franconia Ridge Trail above treeline is prime for running as it get such heavy use that almost all rocks have been removed from the trail and used to line the trail to keep hikers out of the fragile Alpine Zone.  The short ascent up to Mount Lafayette from Truman is gradual, however once again I had to hike and couldn't run it.  Views were phenomenal, and as planned I did not bring my camera, and my iphone was in my pack.  I did this on purpose or I'd stop and take pictures.
- Once I hit the summit of Mount Lafayette it was 6.5 miles along the Garfield Ridge Trail.  The first mile is a descent above treeline then it travels in the woods down to about 3,600 feet before heading up to Mount Garfield around 4,500 feet.  However, there are a few up and downs sprinkled in along the way.  As I passed the Skookumchuck Trail junction (0.8 miles below Mount Lafayette) I removed the long sleeve t-shirt, hat, and gloves and was in my t-shirt for the rest of the day.
- I felt ok throughout much of the Garfield ridge Trail, but at the pace I was on I was discouraged that I might not be able to reach my 7:45 goal and might not even crack 8:00.  I was still waiting for my second wind to kick in but it just wasn't happening. I was downing the energy gels every half hour, even mixed it up with some gummies.  I was hydrating ok, too, but wasn't able to hike fast on any of the ascents (I consider 3.5 mph to be fast hiking, I was at about 3.0).  The Garfield Ridge Trail has some rough footing along the way so that doesn't help when trying to make up time running the descents.  Still, I find it's much easier CW then CCW.  Once past the steep dry waterfall section below the summit of Garfield the trail has some runnable spots, I did pretty good here but then hit a mini wall on the final half mile below the hut.  This reminded me of how the Garfield Ridge Trail is my kryptonite, remember this is the trail that made me cry when I was nine years old in 1989!
- I reached the Galehead Hut in 4:40, refilled my water, sat down for a minute, organized my pack and was off at 4:45 to start the last major ascent of the day, which is the most back-breaking ascent, 1,500 feet in 0.8 miles to the summit of South Twin via the Twinway.  I felt really slow but still was able to get up to the top in twenty five minutes.  On my hike up I passed by five CCW Pemi Loopers, one guy, Paul, was dressed in the exact same get up as me, black hat, red shirt, black shorts, raptors, it was so funny him and his friends had to take a picture...I felt like death at the time!  I told them it was my first time "running it."  I think they all thought that meant it was actually my first time doing a Pemi Loop, they musy have thought I was delusional!
- I made it to the summit of South Twin, which is just over 16.5 miles into the loop in 5:10.  According to the guide book I still had about fifteen miles to go.  Luckily, the GPS watch put it more at around thirteen miles to go.
- I knew from here on out I only had two and a half more ups to go, a half of one to Guyot, one to Bond, and one to Bondcliff.  If I was going to make up time it was going to be through this stretch of the Twinway and then the descent from Bondcliff.  I was able to run probably twelve of the remaining thirteen miles.  The Twinway between South Twin and the Bondcliff Trail junction (2.0 miles) is very runnable which helped out a lot.  Another thing going in my favor, the trails were not crowded at all, I might have passed by two dozen people from South Twin to the Wilderness Boundary at Franconia Brook and the start of the Lincoln Woods Trail.
- The Bondcliff Trail is a mixed bag for running, there are some spots where you can cruise and other spots which are eroded and can be a little tedious, luckily I've been on these trail dozens of times that I know what to expect around every corner. 
- I did well on the remaining two and a half 'ups', they are minor gradual ascents and out in the open so the fresh air and light breeze helps out a lot.  Plus, the temps were in the low sixties which made for perfect conditions.  On the summit of Bondcliff I ran into a hiker who knew my friend Denise, his name is Brian Bond, funny, he was hiking the Bonds!
- Now it was the final nine miles to the imaginary finish line, I had covered up so much ground and time since South Twin that if I averaged ten minute miles I'd make it to the end in 7:45!  I was pumped and knew that if I could run down the whole four miles from Bondcliff's summit to the flat five miles over the old Wilderness Trail (now it's called the Bondcliff and Lincoln Woods Trail) I would be golden.  After the first mile off Bondcliff I was able to sustain sub ten and sub nine minute miles until the end.  I only stopped for a few seconds to cool myself off in the three stream crossings descending Bondcliff.  When I reached the old Bondcliff / Lincoln Woods Trail junction I had five miles of flat railroad grade to the end.  I kept an 8:40 pace over this section, my shoes felt like lead weights, however.  I may look into lighter shoes with a sticky grip but am unsure of the trade off, they might not be able to tack the pounding on the descents like the Raptors.
- I didn't see any hikers until I hit the Wilderness Boundary, then I saw dozens of people heading to and from Franconia Falls to go for a swim, with some hikers mixed in, mostly it was the touristy types enjoying a nice walk.  Luckily, the trail corridor is wide so I had no issues running by and around people.  When I hit the Osseo Trail junction I knew I had just over a mile to go, I was really happy that I was closing in on the finish as I was feeling wiped out.  When I was about two tenths of a mile away I ran a little faster and felt soreness in my hips of all places!  When I saw the bridge I knew it was over, I banged a left and ran across the bridge and stopped my watch, 7 hours, 33 minutes, 52 seconds!  I then walked down to the river and submerged my whole body in the cold and refreshing East Branch of the Pemigewasset River!
- After ten minutes in the river, I waddled up to my car, ate a banana and drank a protein shake, relaxed for about a half hour before heading into Lincoln for and iced coffee and a muffin for the drive home to RI where I'd stuff my face with ice cream with my friends Gina and Greg!

For the run I had eleven Gu energy gels, two packets of Honey Stinger energy chews (nine gummies in a packet), one pure fruit squeeze pouch, and three liters of water.

Time Splits: 1:22  Flume  /  1:41 Liberty  /  2:25 Lincoln  /  2:42 Lafayette  /  3:41 Garfield  /  4:40 Galehead Hut  /  5:10 South Twin  /  5:54 Bond  /  6:12 Bondcliff  /  6:53  RR Grade  /  7:33 Finished
 Elevation Chart
 Lap Splits
 Mile Marker Map
My 'Dork Watch'  Garmin 910 XT
The only picture I took all day.  Bondcliff as seen from Mount Bond (with my iphone)


  1. A huge congrats to you! That's impressive!

  2. Nicely done, Chris. You can't resist the dark side...

    1. I've succumb to the darkside, it's time to embrace it

  3. what time of day did you start?

    1. Hi Anonymous, I started at 5:30 am

      Here is the link with the details of the run (you may have to copy and paste it into your web browser if it's not clickable). If you have any other questions please let me know

      Thanks, Chris

  4. Wow.
    haha - I feel like a cupcake... 7:33 is incredible. : )
    I've done this loop twice now and both times were >15hrs.
    It's a great loop.

    1. Thanks. 7:33, 15 hours, 2's a great loop at any speed!

      Have a fun rest of the summer hiking! :)