"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
Quick update on the Granite State Snowshoe Series final standings...they're still not done. Last week I started a contract with my friends at Equest to once again provide a twice weekly fitness program to some of their riders. Although this is quite possibly my most challenging and rewarding work, it does result in my fairly precise regimen being thrown off by an hour. This, by the way, isn't a whine. My schedule is what it is because I have chosen it to be this way. Right now it's 8:00 pm and I honestly don't have the energy to crank the numbers. I will, however, have the series standings updated and published by the weekend...promise. Tonight's workout was scheduled to be a :30 snowshoe run. It turned into a :60 snowshoe slog as I broke trail in knee deep powder the entire way. I'm extremely lucky to live in very close proximity to a hidden gem, Blue Job State Forest. By the way, "Job" is pronounced "Jobe". For me, this place is a year round playground with miles of trails for running and mountain biking. I have been lucky enough to run across all manner of wildlife up here including deer, porcupine, raccoon, fisher, and even a mother black bear and cubs. There's no place I'd rather train and it's less than a 5 minute drive by car or :45 mountain bike ride on logging trails. I brought my camera and planned to hustle to the summit of "Little Baldy", Blue Job's smaller, balder sister summit. It's actually Little Baldy (LB) that the above sunset photo was taken and by far the better "sightseeing" peak with views of both the White Mountains (in the daylight) and Newington, NH (at night). Typically in snowshoe's I can make the gradual climb to LB in about 10 minutes. And typically the rail is very tramped out as I'm not the only one around who enjoys 'shoeing' here. This afternoon was a completely different story however. The last snow storm had dumped over a foot of fresh powder on the mountain and resulted in many of the white birches bent and twisted with their tips buried in the snow. The normally hard packed rail was instead no wider than singletrack and appeared to have been travelled by only a very few in the past 48 hours. What should have taken me :10 took almost :25 as I ended up breaking trail in knee deep snow to the summit. I was, fortunately, in time to snap the above picture before darkness closed in around me. The wind always blows on the summit of LB and tonight was no exception. In February, in the dark, is no time or place to spend more than a moment too many here. It's very cold. I made my way down past the frozen swimmin' hole and up toward LB's more famous sibling, Mt. Blue Job. Again, the rail was narrow and only freshly trekked making running impossible and merely walking in snowshoes not far behind. Just before I began the climb I actually reversed turtled...in the dark I missed the change in snow depth and caught my tip in a snow drift sending me lunging forward. As my hands hit the snow my arms sank up to my elbows as I postholed thigh high in the deep drift. I was absolutely and utterly stuck. I managed to gain a little bite on the snow with my hands and push myself back to a semi-seated posture and free myself. By this time the :45 I told Karen I'd be gone was already spent and I still hadn't made it up and over Big Blue. The power hike up and down Blue Job was great training for next weekend's Frigid Infliction Winter Adventure Race in Bolton Valley, VT. The snow there last year was out of this world with waist deep powder in spots during the postholing section of the course. Although not exactly what I set out to do, the conditions did help me realize at least one important thing...I think I prefer the light wash from my Black Diamond headlamp because the LED's are arranged in a 2.5 inch straight line and provide a little better peripheral lighting. Had this been a typical Tuesday snowshoe run I probably would have been out of the woods before it got dark.
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James