I’ve done the Pemi-Loop so many times now that I’m not even sure what to write. You can only write about the same thing so many times before it begins to get stale, repetitive and uninteresting. And the pemi-loop is by far one of the most interesting things that I do. So in an attempt to salvage the majesty and adventure that is associated with the loop, I’d love to give you a run report in poetic form. Now I’m no Robert Frost, but hopefully you’ll get an idea of how the day went through the following prose. Some of it will rhyme, most of it won’t.. whatever… I had a blast. Next time I’ll be sure to be completely healed from Giardia before I head out to do this.
Enjoy…. I hope.
Beaver Fever In The Pemi
Cool and clear the sun might shine, a far cry from earths recent daily tears. Three strong we cross the bridge and enter a world where magic still lives. Trees grow tall, young and strong. It hasn’t been long since “The Baron” had his way, the earth stripped clean, lightning flashed, burned and torn. No more hard men carrying axe and till, just us three testing our will. The river rushes by, running high today, over rocks forming eddy’s towards the majestic shore. The rail line travels as far as the eye can see, remnants of old line the wooded edge. We start to climb and cross streams one by one, the air begins to cool and shine does the sun. Winding left and right the switchbacks they came, the trees begin to shrink as the tree line is within sight. We hoist to the top of the famed hillary step, marching to the cliff, the cathedral… the Altar.
(First Views of the Day)
(The Boys with The Pemi Behind)
Silently I pray and thank god for my good tidings, its time to push on with a long day ahead. The old man is excited, like a young kid making it to the ice cream truck. One exclamation to the next, I smile, I’m happy I’ve shared the mountains again. We forge ahead with the ridge laid out upon us, say hello to a few hikers who’ve taken days to travel the same route in the opposite direction. The wind blows lightly, the temps are cool, the sun is warm. The views are magnificent, it’s one perfect day to be in the Whites. From Bondcliff to Bond from one peak to the next, our legs carry us along our merry way.
(The Ridge From Bondcliff to Bond)
Rocks strewn everywhere.. here? Not here… ONLY IN VIRGINIA RIGHT?! NOT! This is the rock garden of the gods. Rocks left rocks right. Rocks up, rocks down… rocks all around. Laid here laid there…laid without a care. My god my god they go on and on and on… this is just the beginning of Sherpa’s whiny song. Stop, enjoy the views, Loon is the only man made thing in sight.. the rest of the world is wild.. look back from where we came.. its beautiful.. I love this game!
(Bondcliff from Bond)
One Bond, two Bonds, one more bond to go. Should we go? Do We go?.. hell… Lets go! I’ve never made the trip to the side while on the loop, but I figured what the hell lets go it’s worth the trip. Half mile out to the top we do climb, to see a mom and her kids sitting on her side. They rise and leave, we’ve the place to ourself, its not a race its for fun lets talk and tell jokes. We gaze all around 360 degrees, the pain is all ready forming in my tired knees.
(Bondcliff from West Bond)
(Adam and Nate Nyucking it up)
Back to the main route we travel on foot, not right go left and continue downhill. Down and down we go into the col, past the side path which would give us a nap. One kid, two kid, three kids….. five kids. They’re cousins out enjoying the mountains; oh to be young again… no bills, no cares. Few smiles though, only pain. Back above the trees across the krumholz fields. The earth slides down the mountain, more rocks, more dirt more beauty. This of all the places is my favorite. We stop to drink, to eat to enjoy. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, the smell of Christmas trees is abundant. Simply outstanding!
Back into the woods we run up high across the ridge that touches the sky. From the summit named for the famed Cartographer to the high peak with an fraternal.. no paternal… oh whatever.. a Twin. We press along running amongst the rocks, over bog bridges we don’t watch our clocks. Not a care in the world nothing matters today; just 3 men running enjoying the fray. The birds sing all around we hear many swanson thrush Sarah would be happy. Mud flies up and all around, I’m filthy all ready might as well bath on the ground. The sky is a dark blue, the valley a happy green, we climb higher and higher to the top of the rocks. Greeted by a pooch, hello friend. Milwaukee’s Best? Chug anyone?
(Yours Truly on Top of South Twin)
(Milwaukee’s Best on the summit…PIGS)
(Lovin South Twin As I Always Do)
Going Down? Down down down… Over 1,000 feet in under a mile. Rocks everywhere, slow going, pick your way, left right, slip… repeat. No easy way. On your knees on your ass… on your way down. Through the trees you see the hut. Tired hiker on his way up. Be careful it’s wet! Thanks my friend, I hope this doesn’t become a trend. It takes as long to go down as it would to go up. I’m not a fan of this way, I know whats ahead. I’m not happy. Lets go! We make it to the hut and stop for some food. “Do you guys have a trash?” I laugh when I hear the question… did he just ask that? The answer came with every ounce of attitude one could expend, “Umm actually this is carry in carry out.” In true fashion, another Galehead Hut Croo with a crappy attitude. I’d never stay here… well…. I won’t say never. We pack it up and head on out, the worst of it all is just ahead. The dreaded, the comical, the painful Garfield Ridge.
Where it is flat you cannot run. The rocks take away all the fun. If the rocks were bad before, they’re worse now.. I feel like a slow tired cow. It’s awful, I scream, I whine and I cuss. All I need is to see some blister puss. Giardia is killing me, I vurp and vurp and vurp. I cough, I sweat, I pant. We slowly climb up and over every damn P.U.D. The rocks are more numerous with each and every step, they go down they go up and they go all around. It’s no funny anymore. I get a bit teary eyed. I want to cry, again, as I’ve done here many times before. I hate this ridge, I hate it some more.
(There’s Only Rocks In Virginia)
(Oh MY GOD!)
(Nate Enjoy’s it)
(I Think I’m Gonna Be Sick)
It’s alot slower then I’m used to doing the tougher side first. I’d rather go down this then up yet I’m over turned. The guys are dancing, joking and singing; I’m dragging my legs pained by their stinging. I’m sick, I feel awful I should have stayed home. Maybe I’ll bail down into the Valley and run for the car? I can’t, this was my idea, gotta stay strong. This ridge I do hate, with a passion you see, its very often that it drops me down to one knee. Sweat pours down my face from every single pore; I’m soaked and cranky can’t take anymore. But finally, a ray of shimmering hope, we climb to the top of our next grand rock, its Garfield and we enjoy the views from the top.
(Adam Gives Nate The Visual Tour)
(Owls Head Nestled Within The Pemi)
We leave the top and head out for more. The ridge isn’t over; Garfield Ridge IS THE DEVIL! It’s not as bad now the terrain changes quickly. From a big jumbled yardsale of rock to slab galore. Moss covers the trail on all sides, its moist, and muddy and we’re lovin the ride. BELCH! BLURP! VURP! Oh god.. will this ever stop?! I’m ready to be done its taking long then ever before. Whose idea was it to go Counter-Clockwise anyway? This is nuts, its dumb, I’m gonna complain. Hey… check out my feet.. more rocks! Where? HERE?! In New Hampshire?! You’re kidding right? I smile, I love this, Why? BECAUSE IT’S HOME!
(Going So Slow the Fires of Hell Swallow My Feet)
And now it begins the climb to the top. To the peak named after a general, Lafayette. Out of the trees and off of the choppy rocks, we climb onto slab and reach for the top. On and on we go and go and go and go, we’re still moving entirely too slow. I haven’t drank much eaten even less; my stomach’s been giving me so much distress. Its been a rough day, lord knows how I’ve been holding on. Won’t be much longer now before the day is done. We climb the hill higher to The Peak Known as North; this is where Guy sat down one frigid Winter Day… thanks for your service… its impact does stay. Above the trees we climb the winds picking up. It hits nothing from the rockies to here and blows us around. Its chilly its cool the views are enough. 360 Degrees Nate might have to pick his jaw up. The boys have tons of energy, me I’m lagging behind. Perfect time to take out the camera and enjoy the devine.
(The Climb Up North Lafayette)
(Nate Head’s Towards The Main Peak of Lafayette)
We stop and sit amongst the foundation of the Old Summit Inn. Nate is in disbelief, that men built anything up here. Out come the magic cookies! Yum yum yum. Smiles all around and the drinks abound. Did you hear that kid scream?! Though it’s not a kid, its the Ravens above… what a stupid bird. They play in the wind in groups of 3 and 4. A murder for sure. We get up with the end in sight, the Franconia Ridge to Run, brings back much delight. Maybe this isn’t so bad afterall you see… oh hell, what am I saying Garfield Ridge killed me. All this hiking at the end is lame, I’ll go the other way the next time.. and the next… and the next. Hello Steve! Hello Roy! Seeing people I know brings on so much joy. A Smile, a wave, a hello… on we go!
(We Head South Along Franconia Ridge)
(Nate Approaches North Lincoln With Lafayette In His Tracks)
(Enjoying The Ridge)
Down one peak and up the next, this one count? Nope… ok…how bout this one? Yup? And this one? Nope? Damn! This is so confusing. What do peakbaggers know anyway. A scowl here a scowl there… I just want to pull down those hikers pants to see their underwear. Those people have been grumpy since the start of our day; do we ruin their enjoyment that much? Why the hell did they even come out to play?! We continue on over this hump and that… pact the Gargoyles and over to Little Haystack. Over that hump as well and back into the trees. The boys are running now, I’m off in the weeds. Down into the col and then we climb once again. Up up and away, two more till the end. Here comes a puppy and their owners so grande.. “you can do it, its worth it its almost the end.” I step aside and smile, they ask where we’d been. I tell them, they’re silent, they’ll never ask again. I march to the top to see the Boys looking around, I just drank from that plastic bottle laying down on the ground. I get to the top, take a few deep breaths.. I’m outta here you guys.. you catch me in a flash.
Off of Liberty we rang back into the last col. Down and down we go with me in the lead, I’m slow.. I’m slow… I’m starting to bleed. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I want to be done.. I’m trying to figure out when it stopped being fun. I lie, I digress we continued to go. We climbed through the trees to the top of the Flume. Watch your step boys its a long way down form here, the end is kind of in sight… a few thousand feet its clear. We stop and look back one last time from where we came, over the Bonds, Guyot, Twin… The Ridge of Hell… The Ridge of Heaven… what an amazing journey indeed.
(Lookin Back [from left] at Lafayette, Garfield, South Twin)
(One Last Look At Bondcliff)
Back into the trees and we take our exit stage left, down we go, better hold your breath. My legs are burning no energy left… I’m gonna die my friends… ok maybe not. Down the stairs we ran, the ladders the rock steps… switchbacks took us this way and that. “Bleed elevation” if you’re baggin what I mow… down and down and down we go. From the top of the world to the valley below.. its time to be done, time to end this show. Back on the tracks we run to the end game. We get to the bridge, wish we knew that dames name. We stop, drop packs, peel of shirts and head downhill… I walk right into the water and let me tell you its chill. Hold my breath and dunk my head….into the magic waters… the perfect end. This journey is done… another pemi-loop…. IN THE BOOKS.
12:24 = OUCH