Route: Pemigewasset Loop (NH)

Location
New Hampshire, US
Description

The Pemigewasset Loop is a rugged 31-mile route in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It has become a popular backpacking route, as well as a tough 1-day challenge. This page has detailed information about the route.  Here we record FKTs for the loop in either direction, plus for the Double Pemi, as well as for the so-called "Super Pemi", or "Super Extended Pemi", which adds on North Twin, Hale, and Zealand (or the reverse) to create a larger loop of around 43 miles with about 15,000' of climbing. More information on the Super Pemi is linked in the FKT report by Nate Weeks.

Here's a summary of FKT activity on the (single) Pemi.  See the FKT reports for more detailed information:

Ryan Welts launched a recent spate of FKT attempts on the Pemi by running the route in 7h05m32s on August 9, 2009. He had support on Mt. Lafayette and had made a food drop at Galehead Hut the day before.

Less than a month later, on September 4, 2009, Ben Nephew (9 time Escarpment Trail winner) and Kevin Tilton ran the Pemi in a new FKT of 7h04m47s, taking just 45 seconds off of Welts' record!

Jan Wellford beat Nephew & Tilton's time on September 8, 2010, running the loop in 6h47m04s.

Next, on June 19, 2011, Adam Wilcox did the Pemi in 6h46m10s, less than 1 minute faster than Wellford.

On September 11, 2011, Ben Nephew cruised the Pemi in 6h27m48s. This time stood as the FKT for nearly 4 years.

Adam Wilcox reclaimed this hotly contested FKT on June 14, 2015, running the route in 6h14m34s. Wilcox said "After almost 4 years of trying, this one meant a lot to me."

Not to be outdone, Nephew reclaimed the FKT from Wilcox less than 2 months later, running 6h10m7s on August 8, 2015.

Finally, Ben Thompson has brought the FKT down by a few more minutes, running the loop in 6h6m53s on September 12, 2017.

As best I can tell, prior to Welts the FKT for the Pemi Loop was held by Alex Kahl, at "about 7h25m" in (August?) 2005. Charles Dona reported doing 7h26m31s in September 2008, which seems to be close enough to "about 7h25m" to be considered a tie.

"Is someone chasing you or are you doing this for fun?" -- Kevin Tilton

Men's Pemi Loop FKT progress:
Alex Kahl, about 7h25m, 2005
Charles Dona, 7h26m31s, Sept. 2008
Ryan Welts, 7h5m32s, Aug. 9, 2009
Ben Nephew & Kevin Tilton, 7h4m47s, Sept. 4, 2009
Jan Wellford, 6h47m4s, Sept. 8, 2010
Adam Wilcox, 6h46m10s, June 19, 2011
Ben Nephew, 6h27m48s, Sept. 11, 2011
Adam Wilcox, 6h14m34s, June 14, 2015
Ben Nephew, 6h10m7s, Aug. 8, 2015

Ben Thompson, 6h6m53s, Sep. 12, 2017

Women:

Kristina Folcik ran the Pemi in 9h3m15s on Aug. 27, 2011. Prior to this, the fastest women's time appears to have been by Sue Johnston, 9h15m. Folcik's time was bested less than a year later (June 16, 2012) by Larisa Dannis, who ran counter-clockwise in 7h40m52s.  Three months later, Dannis reported (below) beating her own FKT by about 6 minutes, running 7h34m25s on Sept. 17, 2012. Kelsey Allen reported (below) setting a new women's FKT of 7h12m55s on August 30, 2014.

Images

Comments

Hey everyone, I am planning my race and FKT attempt schedule for 2019 and the Pemi is top on my list. After analyzing previous attempts and map data, I believe that the fastest time will likely result from starting the attempt within the loop rather than the traditional Lincoln trailhead. I plan to hike in and camp near my start point the night before, and run either clockwise from a Mt. Bond start or counterclockwise from a Mt. Flume start. I believe that a clockwise approach from a Mt. Bond start will be the most efficient for me. It is my understanding, based on previous discussions, that an individual can choose any start point within a loop course as long as the entire distance is covered?

If you do it that way we would certainly report it as the FKT, unless someone comes up with a logical objection.  Of course you need to do the out & back to the standard TH. It shouldn't matter where on the loop you start, as has been the case for some other loop routes (e.g., Wonderland Trail, Timberline Trail).  That said, for aesthetic reasons I would consider it carefully.  It's cool & valid to be innovative, but tradition/history is also important.

Thanks for the feedback Peter. I could potentially make two attempts, first as a course scouting/ possible FKT attempt from the traditional start point, and then a second attempt from the within loop start point I described. Tradition, and the history of this FKT, is very important. However, I think that others will inevitably use within loop start points as the time gets closer to 5 hours for the Pemi. 

I’m not sure why you prefer that (I’d go CCW from the trailhead like Adam), but it’s legit in my book. As long as you cross the bridge and tag the ranger station at the Lincoln Woods trailhead when you’re in the valley, starting from Liberty/Guyot/Garfield/Galehead would still cover the same distance and elevation.

Why do you think starting from Bond would be faster? Definitely not obvious to me! 

I believe that a start from Flume counterclockwise or Bond (probably mid descent) clockwise will give most runners an advantage if mountain/ technical trail running ability is similar because they will be running the less technical parts of the course on fresh legs. At least for me, it would be an advantage to run those miles with fresh legs. I have more time to gain by running it that way. I probably won’t end up trying it this year, but it seems like it would be a fun run!