For everyone who has ever asked, “Didn’t you just go [hiking|skiing|biking|rafting|kayaking|insert outdoors sport of choice here]?” Well here is my response. And you may (in fact I encourage you to) quote me on this.
Last April, on a whim, Kelly and I signed up for the Tuckerman Inferno. For those unacquainted, the Inferno is a pentathlon with solo categories, two-man team and five-man team categories. We entered as duo. I would lead off with an 8+ mile run (with over 400 feet of hill climbing). Kelly would take the second leg, navigating down the only recently thawed Saco River for 6+ miles, after which she would transition to the bike leg: 18 miles, nearly entirely uphill for a whopping 2000′ feet of climbing. At Pinkham Notch Kelly would tag me and I’d set off on the last two stages of the race, the trail run, followed by the ski race. The trail run consists of about 2000′ of hiking via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, before a transition to ski gear for the final 800′ or so of climbing before skiing back down to Pinkham. Check out the full course map, below.
Our next mission would take us up the Wailua River by kayak. We rented the boats at Wailua Kayak and Canoe, immediately adjacent to the river. We reserved two kayaks for the morning. I casually inquired as to the repercussions of not arriving back with the kayaks promptly at noon. The guys manning the rental equipment noted that no one was lined up to go out after us, and simply advised me not to get carried away. He warned us that it was mud season. We thanked him, stowed our gear, and headed down the street toward the river. At 7 AM, it was difficult to tell if the cool haze was simply the ambient moisture rising from the warming land, or if it truly threatened to rain. Hoping for the best, we jumped into our boats and headed off upriver to find out what lay in store for us.
Who says you can’t get any faceshots just because there’s no snow on the ground? In search of thrills, some variety to our exercise routine, and some fall foliage, Kelly and I set out for the Androscoggin River for some entry-level white-water, and autumn kayak camping. Turns out we missed the foliage by about a week that far north, but the thrills and exercise were found in good supply.