If you ask Mickey Spades what his biggest regret was the other day, he would tell you it was deciding to join Doug and I on an attempt to trail run Mount Lafayette to Liberty over New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge. I would tell you that he is forgetting our decision to forgo stopping at McDonald’s in Lincoln to use the bathroom, opting instead to use the facilities at the Lafayette parking lot. It was disgusting; worse than even some of the most disgusting truck stop restrooms. How does a toilet that sits outside smell so bad?
If Mickey Spades’ day did not start out rough enough in the Lafayette men’s room it only got worse when we hit the trail. Within the first thirty minutes Spades fell out of sight, thanks to a fast pace and leg cramps. The biggest problem I have with these longer runs in the Whites is when I finally get out of the car and hit the trail I set a blistering pace for the first mile or two. I think it is the result of the combination of excitement to get out of the car and into the woods, coupled with the fact that I am just not great at pacing myself. This fast pace can be jarring to those not ready for it, and scary if they think I will sustain it for the entire day. Lucky for them my exuberance quickly fades.
After catching up with Doug and I, Mickey Spades debated the idea of turning around and waiting in the car. Not wanting to hold Doug and I back, and not wanting to suffer any longer, the car was an appealing option for Mickey Spades. I have seen Mickey Spades have some tough days, so I knew he must be hurting if he was contemplating turning around. After a little gentle prodding, Spades got moving uphill with the understanding that he would make a decision to continue or head back at the Greenleaf hut. (After some less-than-gentle ribbing from Doug and I, Mickey Spades rallied enough to go into “fuck you” mode, cruising up the Old Bridle Path at a pace that put me into the red.)
By Greenleaf hut, Spades seemed to have found a rhythm and we made quick time across Franconia Ridge, being able to run almost the majority of it. The only real stop we made was at the spot where Mickey Spades heaved himself from Lincoln’s Throat onto the ridge on the previous winter’s climb. After a little more teasing of Mickey Spades we were back on our way. One of the great things about Mickey Spades is that he takes abuse just about as well as he dishes it out, making him a fun companion on such forays.
After reaching the summit of Mount Liberty, we headed toward the protection of the trees. It was nice to be out of the wind, and if the changing leaves were not an indicator of the end of summer the temperature was. It was mid-fifties for most of the day with strong and consistent winds. While I was able to wear shorts all day, I believe that it may be the last time this season that I am so lucky. Thankful for a moderate grade on the descent, we made it back to the car in short time. My only regret for the day was that the clouds obscured the views and we were not able enjoy the falls colors. Well that, and driving past McDonald’s.