It’s June, and we’re happy to announce our Athlete of the Month! We’ll be profiling and featuring Mixed Nuts Adventure Racing throughout the month on our blog and our social media channels. Mixed Nuts is a group of fun and outgoing athletes who live for all things trail running, mountain biking, triathlons, full and half marathons, peak bagging. The adventure world is their oyster. So here’s an update from Mixed Nuts on their 2013 season:
Mixed Nuts Adventure Racing has had a strong start to their 2013 season with three races and one fourth place finish.
With our next race less then two weeks away we are training around the clock to secure a spot on the podium and make our fans proud.
We are very excited for the bulk of our racing season coming up and look forward to racing in the regional champions ships and two national qualifiers later this summer.
We are honored to have Headsweats with us for all our adventures and helping us keep a cool head.
Long-distance adventure hiker/backpacker Liz Thomas updates us on Part II of her Long Distance Hiking adventures…
After I finished the Triple Crown of Hiking — the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail — I started hunting for other long distance hikes to complete. During the research process, I found the Little Triple Crown: three shorter trails that coincide with the famous trails in the “Big” Triple Crown for part of the time, but also venture into new mountain ranges I’ve never explored. In my last blog post, I wrote about my experiences on the 274-mile Long Trail in Vermont. In this post, I write a brief lowdown on the 211-mile long John Muir Trail, a stunning adventurous path that travels the backbone of the High Sierra over eight mountain passes up to 13,200 feet and coincides with the Pacific Crest Trail for 160 miles. For more details on each trail, and logistics and gear, check out my website: eathomas.com.
The John Muir Trail: In early August, I hiked the John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to the top of Mt. Whitney, totaling 45,000 feet of gain in less than a week. Hitting the trail at peak season, I was shocked by the crowds, but found that by camping away from popular areas and waking early and hiking late, I could get the trail to myself. I loved comparing my early season experiences in the Sierra on the Pacific Crest Trail with what I saw on the ground in August: “So that’s where the trail is when it’s not covered by 10 feet of snow!”
Unexpected obstacles: Lightning storms, rain, and hail almost every day — usually occurring right as I needed to make it over a high mountain pass. Although afternoon lightning storms are not unheard of in August, storms day after day are unusual. In my six days on trail, I got rained or hailed on for four days.
Awesome moments: Viewing two glacier-carved basins from the top of a pass. The beauty of the Sierra is stunning and describing it is best left to artists. I feel especially lucky to have seen granite hit by rays of sunrise and sunset each day.
Advice:Forest Service and Park Service regulations require that you carry a bear canister to protect your food from hungry wildlife. Make sure that the food you need will fit before you hit the trail. Don’t be afraid to squish and crunch out all the air from your potato chips or even freeze dried food. Carry calorie dense foods to squeeze the most into the space you have.
Headsweats for the job: The Race hat kept high altitude rays off my face and blocked rain and hail from my hair when the weather turned bad.
Little Triple Crown of Long Distance Hiking in a Year
Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the 2,181-mile long Appalachian Trail in 2011. Liz, one of the most experienced woman hikers in the country, is known for hiking light and fast. She just got back from her hike on the Little Triple Crown, and Headsweats is happy to feature her blog post!
Part 1: The Long Trail
After I finished the Triple Crown of Hiking — the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail — I started hunting for other long distance hikes to complete. During the research process, I found the Little Triple Crown: three shorter trails that coincide with the famous trails in the “Big” Triple Crown for part of the time, but also venture into new mountain ranges I’ve never explored. The 274-mile Long Trail in Vermont coincides with the Appalachian Trail for 104 miles and then veers off into some of the steepest, most-up-and-down, rocky and rooty territory a long distance hiker ever encounters.
The 211-mile long John Muir Trail travels the backbone of the High Sierra over eight mountain passes up to 13,200 feet, coinciding with the Pacific Crest Trail for 160 miles. The 486-mile long Colorado Trail rarely ventures below 10,000 feet over Colorado’s most mountainous regions and coexists with the Continental Divide Trail for 260 miles. These trails, although shorter than others I have hiked, often can involve more difficult logistics and planning: how to get to the trail? What to do about resupply in remote areas?
Another challenge is that since the trails are in different areas of the country, what gear changes will I need to make for different climates? I also knew that since the trails are shorter, it would be possible to push myself harder. I’ll write about these trails in three parts, starting with the Long Trail. Below is a brief summary on my experience on each trip. For more details on each trail, and logistics and gear, check out my website: eathomas.com.
The Long Trail
In early June, I hiked the trail from the Massachusetts-Vermont border to the Vermont-Canada border and watched the terrain get tougher, wilder, and more remote when it split from the Appalachian Trail and headed further north. Since I hit the trail so early in the season, I saw few people on the trail at all except in popular areas like the 4,000 footer, Mt. Abraham. Although the trail stays mostly in the trees, the views atop some steep, slabby 4,000 footers and the accompanying high altitude-high/latitude alpine vegetation were a real treat.
Unexpected obstacles: Humidity and longer roller-coaster-esque hauls between water sources made what I expected to be a well-hydrated adventure into an every-drop-counts/hope I don’t sweat all my water out challenge.
Awesome moments: spotting a bear (pretty rare for Vermont) and three porcupines.
Advice: Be prepared for steep 5,000+ feet of elevation gain a day. The Long Trail is one of the steepest trails I’ve hiked and its gradient stays consistent for most of the trail.