Double Escarpment - Unsupported Female - 10/25/2020
I decided to tackle an unsupported out and back on the Escarpment Trail as a way to celebrate my Birthday on October 25th (My present to myself was to run my age in miles, plus 2 to grow on!).
I started from the Rt 23 trailhead just before 6am carrying 3L of water/Tailwind along with all the fuel that I might need for the day. I pack heavy, so I also carried a jacket, gloves, arm sleeves, and hat (it was 30 degrees when I started), as well a water filter, charger, and emergency bivy (because you are never too old for a security blanket!).
The trails were dry for the most part, with some mud near the top of Windham then again after North Point. Late fall levels of leaf litter obscuring the plentiful number of roots and rocks proved to be the biggest hurdle of the day, especially between the south slope of Blackhead/Arizona and the top of Stoppel. While other sections had some drifts of deep leaves, this stretch was relentless… most likely because it sees less traffic than some of the other sections. As a matter of fact I saw no other people on this trail until I reached the ledge of North Point, roughly 16 miles into the run. From that point on the trails were predictably busy through the North South Lake area all the way to the turn around at Schutt Rd.
I reached the parking lot at Schutt in roughly 6 hours and 8 min feeling tired but strong. My GPS track did get squirrely in this area for some reason…I did remain on trail throughout the run and I am not sure why it shows a weird loop. After turning around for the return trip it became obvious fairly quickly that I was going to slow down substantially for the second half. I stopped at North South Lake and refilled my water at a spigot, then continued on my way. Somewhere on the descent from Stoppel I had the pleasure of meeting (and being passed!) by Mike, another runner attempting the Escarpment out and back that day. After agreeing that the leaf situation was a killer when it came to trying to establish FKTs, he darted up Arizona like a deer. I hope he had a great run!
My pace continued to slow as the temperatures and darkness fell, but was treated to a nice sunset around Acra/Burnt Knob. Navigating Windham in the dark slowed me down further, except for the infamous roots section that is delightfully creepy in the day but nearly made me pee my pants at night (those trees make the creepiest noises!). I might have picked up the pace through that area. Also, apologies to the poor soul I scared when I accidentally made a slight wrong turn at the leanto.
And then, presto… I popped out at the end of the trail. 13:49.07 total time. Not nearly as impressive as Sheryl Wheeler’s reported time, but I am no Sheryl :) I am submitting this for your consideration for the UNSUPPORTED Female time, since it is unclear how she attempted the run. Hopefully I will get to take another crack at this and better my time next year when I am younger. ;)