For some reason neither of use brought screw shoes, I guess we were overly optimistic that the warm weather we'd been having would have melted most of the snow. Actually, there had been a lot of snow melt, the problem is that after the snow melted it got cold enough to freeze all of that water that was running off the hills. I at least had my Inov-8 Oroc 280s with me which have built-in metal studs, but Zak had his X-Talon 212s which have nothing. The Ski Lodge/Multi-Use trail that cuts through the park is at least only a gradual incline so we were able to move across the ice at a reasonable pace.
We dropped down to the main park entrance off Rt 1 and then started to climb up Mt Battie. These trails were in great shape and it was wonderful to run on dry single-track again. There were a few icy spots but nothing that slowed us down too much. After a quick trip up the stone tower we headed back down a bit before starting to climb up Mt Megunticook.
The Tableland Trail going up Megunticook on the south face was perfectly dry, but for some reason we decided to take the longer way up the Mt Megunticook trail that wraps around to the northeast. BIG mistake. I don't know why we didn't turn back. The entire trail,in fact the entire north side of the mountain was covered in ice. We went off trail so we could at least find more trees to help pull ourselves up, but it was miserably treacherous and incredibly slow going. Once up at the ridge we hoped to find less ice, but no such luck. We pretty much crawled and slid on our asses for the next 1+ mile. We decided to forgo the out n back to Maiden Cliff, and instead take Zeke's to the Sky Blue trail. These trails were actually in pretty good shape and we could run off and on between the nasty icy spots.
We say a few other people out attempting to enjoy the nice weather. Most hand crampons or microspike and trekking poles, and they all looked at us like we were crazy for attempting to tun. Which we probably were. From Sky Blue we headed back along the Ski Lodge Trail until doing an out n back to Cameron Mountain. This was all ice until we got to the base of Cameron Mt. Since Cameron doesn't have any tree cover the short/quick climb on dry trail was a treat.
Back along the Cameron Mt Trail and then straight up to Bald Rock Mt. This climb wasn't too bad, it was icy but not as bad as Megunticook. We took a minute to catch our breath and take in the view. It took three hours to get in the first three peaks of the park, and we hoped we'd be able to get the last three in much quicker. At least the last three were all closer together, we just hoped the trails would be in better shape. And they were. Don't get me wrong, overall the conditions were pretty lousy, but compared to what we experienced on Megunticook they were a lot better. Neither of us had ever been out to Derry or Frohock Mt so it was fun to be seeing some new terrain. Since this section is an out n back without any decent views it doesn't get much traffic and the trails are a little hard to follow in some places.
With dense tree cover at Frohock there was no reason to linger so we turned right back and decided to take the shortest way back to our cars. It was clear we weren't going to get any where near 31 miles in today, not in these conditions and with the daylight we had remaining (we didn't hit the trail until 11:30). We figured we'd be lucky to finish in under 5 hours, that would be long enough in these conditions regardless of what distance we covered. We discovered that despite the slow pace we were getting an incredible workout of off all our core and stabilizing muscles as we fought to stay upright on the ice.
It was such a novelty to see clear trails that's what I took pictures of, but now I'm wishing I had captured more of the ice.
When we finally finished up we'd been out for 4 hours and 40 minutes on "only" covered a little more than 20 miles, but we felt like we'd done 50k. At least we did manage to get in all 6 peaks in the park, the first time either of us has done that, despite several previous attempts in much easier conditions.
distance: 20.18 miles
weather: mid 30's, sunny
conditions: crazy ice, or bare ground
gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280, wool socks, tights, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, gloves, hat, Nathan HPL #020