Post-Holing

This morning Jason and I braved the post-Nemo drifts of snow to do some post-holing up through Allamuchy. Now, this may seem like a bit of a ridiculous endeavor, we both have snow shoes, which are designed specifically for moving through (or over) large amounts of snow, in fact, they’re arguably the most efficient means of bi-pedal transportation through the mountains when there’s a substantial amount of snow to negotiate. We however, decided to throw efficiency to the wind, after all, we’re “mountain runners” so run on the mountain we shall! Knowing full ahead that things would be incredibly slow, I decided to travel unusually heavy, carrying a pack with some extra gels, water, and a couple of “oh shit, there’s a foot of snow on the ground and I’m cold” layers, as well as a phone (which I never do).

Now it’s worth mentioning here that I don’t necessarily recommend going out substantially under-prepared/dressed when there’s the better part of a foot of snow on the ground, but Jason and I are pretty well experienced in the woods, and in spite of our generally light loads, we were more than confident that we had planned well enough to handle a few miles in the snow. So, we strapped on some MICROspikes, and started heading up the mountain. Within a few hundred yards however, it became brutally obvious that we were in for one heck of a gnarly workout.

We ended up going from TH>Summit>Parking Lot>Summit>Parking Lot>Summit>TH in just under 2 hours (1:50) covering roughly 6.5 miles, and  3600′ of total vertical change, alternating between literally breaking trail (trust me, it’s as strenuous as you think) to following some snowshoe footprints, which offered little respite from the inherently arduous task of moving on trail through that much snow. While the obvious additional drag of that much snow obviously makes things tough, more frustrating is that general lack of traction in spite of the MICROspikes. While spikes are incredibly in almost every setting, it seems that in deep snow, they’re really just putting a band-aid on a bullet wound, so for every time you plant your foot, you’re losing at least 6″ before the chains gain purchase (it’s way worse without the spikes…)

I’ve found that one of the best parts of being a so-called mountain runner is that you simply have to roll with whatever the mountain gives you. Sometimes, it gives you a fantastic day, and sometimes you slip and slide your way to the slowest 6.5 miles you’ve ever run. Normally, I’d be concerned about what will surely amount to a pretty low weekly mileage, especially since I’d planned (mentally) to go pretty far today, but 2-ish hours of heart pounding nearly vomit-inducing slogging up and down the mountain in nearly a foot of snow is probably a better workout that anything I could have imagined otherwise, and certainly required a longer sustained heavy effort than I would have managed without such conditions. So the next time there’s some serious-ass snow on the ground, you’ll find me charging up the nearest mountain, knee deep in snow, breathing heavily.

Look! I packed a bag!

Jason on some recently packed trail

Obligatory summit shot. Photo: Jason Friedman

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