This was my third attempt. I set off from the Lake Placid Depot, which some sources reference as the true / original northern terminus, at 2:50 AM on September 19, 2020. It is 1.8 miles to the trailhead and register on Ayerville Road. The temps were in the upper 20s, the trails dry and hard. The first section of the trail through to Duck Hole has some tricky bits with a good dose of blow downs. I was hopeful to make the Duck Hole register by sunrise and managed to be ahead of actual sunrise when I arrived. From there, the trail offers several good runnable miles, scenic riverside trails and crossings as it continues south toward Long Lake. As I reached the northern end of Long Lake, I dropped my initial pacer (Jamie Hobbs). I came out of the section in just a touch over 8 hrs, nearly two hrs faster than my prior attempt.
With things flowing well, I went through that crewed area quickly and headed into the next section which has the single largest sustained climb on the entire trail. All was feeling and flowing well with this 13-ish mile section flying by before I picked up my next pacer for Lake Durant - Wakely - another 13-ish mile section. Again, still feeling good I quickly moved through crewing and up the trail. I ran this entire section feeling very good and wanting to capitalize on daylight hoping to make it through the beaver flooded area south of Wakely in the light.
I came through quickly, had to wait a few minutes for my crew so I could quickly change into road shoes for the 2.5 miles down the road to the trailhead for Wakely - Piseco. I got moving pretty quick, headed down the road, made a switch back to road shoes with a dry pair on the other side of the beaver flooded area. I was well ahead of dusk when I waded through, put on dry shoes and socks, grabbed gloves and a hat as the night again promised to be below freezing. I don't exactly remember when darkness finally fell, but the first 10+ miles after the beaver flooded area are slow and technical. I would say that my progress was seriously slowed and my core temp began to suffer as a result. It wasn't until the last 10, if not more like 5, that finally the trail yielded to some truly runnable portions. I popped out in the parking lot chilled to the bone, but in less than 24hrs. I immediately got in the waiting vehicle with heat blaring and fell asleep for an hour.
Awakening, I took in some nutrition, contemplated facing the cold temps and finally made my move to head down the 3.5 miles of road to see if my body would support continuing. These road miles flowed well, I actually found myself overdressed, and arriving at the trailhead for the next section of Piseco - Benson Rd. I did not hesitate. Similar to the prior section, the initial 10+ miles of this section are also very technical and largely unrunnable. I also had found myself now tired enough with legs in full rebellion that running seemed impossible. The addition of trekking poles helped in the progress and slowly but surely the miles ticked down.
Heading into the last trail section, walking seemed the only thing I could do. With a couple of miles left on the trail, however, I suddenly found myself slowly able to run again. Maybe it was knowing how close I was ... I dunno. But I cooked down the switchbacks and headed out to the parking lot for my last shoe change for the final 3.5 miles of road into Northville. With those who had crewed by my side, we ran those final miles together into the late afternoon sunshine.
I was blessed with perfect weather other than the below freezing nighttime temps. But it was dry, highs in the high 40s / low 50s, sunny, and calm. No bugs to speak of and a little bit of fall color mixed in.
The prior record did not include the two sections of southern trail added in 2013 & 2015 respectively, nor the length from the depot in Lake Placid. The miles here represent the entire trail, including all road sections & the piece from the depot in Lake Placid to Ayersville Road. This makes the length of the total trail some 20 miles further than the prior record - 142.1 vs 122, quite a difference. The elevation gain is some 17k' with loss just a touch over 18k'. But what the trail lacks in elevation it makes up for in technicality.
It offers stunning views and remoteness.