FKT: Charlie Tillett, Lisa Gorman - Evan's Notch Loop - 2023-09-02

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
11h 24m 31s

With the days getting shorter, we decided to start in the dark and set off at 5:10 am from the Shell Pond Road gate, heading west to Rt. 113 and the Baldface Circle trailhead.

Our legs appreciated the 2.5 mile warm up on this slightly downhill segment and we were glad to complete the road portion in the cool morning air instead of the hot afternoon sun. We were even able to turn off our headlamps while running on Rt. 113 in the light of a nearly full Blue Moon - a good omen indeed.

We timed our start perfectly - the sun rose just as we reached the South Baldface ledges; (although Lisa thinks the ledges would’ve been easier in the dark since she wouldn’t have been as terrorized by the steep downhill views - something for a Sports Psychologist to noodle).  But the vista from the ledges, an orange sun rising over the fog-shrouded landscape, was absolutely breathtaking (see photo).  And - once we reached South Baldface - the views of Mt Washington and the Carter-Moria range were spectacular on the run over North Baldface to Eagle Crag as we lucked out with one of the clearest days of the summer. 

We remembered - from our ’21 FKT on the Wild River Long Loop - that that Eagle Crag to West Royce segment is a brutal slog but hoped our recollection was tempered by the ~30 miles we’d already traveled that day.  Sadly, this was not the case as this stretch was every bit as hard as we remembered and we fell 45 minutes behind schedule.  We’d suggest other FKTers schedule some extra time for this section and be thrilled if it turns out you don’t need it. 

After summiting East Royce, we stopped for a water reload (and to cool/refresh our feet) where the East Royce Trial crosses the Cold River, the first fast-moving water we’d seen all day.  From Evans Notch, we crossed Rt. 113 for the climb up Speckled Mountain – while this section had no vistas until the summit, the changes in the rock’s mineral content provided “micro-views” to keep us entertained as we regained some lost time.  After Speckled, the downhill traverse to Blueberry Mountain was never steep, a fun and easy segment despite the day’s miles.

Reaching our final summit on Blueberry Mountain, the perfect way to cap this adventure would have been a run down the gentle grade of the Stone House Trail.  BUT the FKT world was meant to challenge and route requires the White Cairn Trail with a quarter mile section descending 500’ of stone stairway.  Punishing on the knees/legs after 22 miles, we realized that we were not going to make up any time here.  But upon reaching the final downhill mile, our legs sprang into action for the final push to the Shell Pond Road gate. 

We finished in 11:24, just after 4:30 pm but had little time to savor our accomplishment as the wet summer’s mosquito population forced a quick retreat.   We hustled to the Stow Corner Store (worth a stop anytime – tell Maureen we sent you) where the evening weather was perfect for an outdoor celebratory dinner with our family.