After a 5 second countdown, Steve and I got on our way @0600 from Hoyt Rd, the southern terminus of the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Trail. Heading out as a team with no support along the way, our vests were stocked up with calories of the salty, sweet, calorie dense kind, along with Hydropak-Katahdin water filters, and the godsend that is Squirrels Nut Butter. We set off at a comfortable pace and written on our forearms were the times that the current FKT holder had hit at various rd junctions that we'd use for reference and pace.
By mile 10 we knew it was going to be rough day. It was already 90% humidity and near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind would be a rare treat we'd relish in for just a few moments throughout the day. By mile 20, my head was in the flow, but my legs just didn't feel awake; my hamstrings weren't recovered from a kettlebell workout days prior and it was changing my gate some. Steve was looking like he was out for a casual cruise, but he'd admit later that he was starting to feel it.
At some point I thought I saw a Trager Grill, but it was in fact a moss covered rock; I chuckled, but I was also fumbling in my thoughts and my head was throbbing so I knew I needed to ease up as it seemed to be the only effective way to keep from overheating. Steve had been leading the charge for the majority of the morning which I liked and encouraged because I was finding myself to be a bit unmotivated and seeing him 10 meters ahead gave me my space yet kept me driving a bit faster. He knew the heat was doing work on us, especially on me, and he balanced the pace very well. He was dunking his head in every water source we came across which I started doing also and as short lived as our water stops were, they were nothing shy of divine.
We were surprised how much flat and rolling runnable sections we were encountering. It's nice to get a little relief from technical footing here and there, but for much of this we felt like we were on the west coast, and the road running sections had us feeling like we were preparing for BadWater 135, hah. Eventually my head would stop pounding and we'd both start flowing through the trails under shady canopies, getting silly excited at every tiny trickling water flow we found.
By mile 40 the heat was at it's height, I would curse the sun then laugh at the irony as it is the sun that allows us to live. Hitting a long flat section which included some sun baked road, Steve was 30 meters ahead and crossed a bridge ready to keep going. I was cookin and needed more water so I could stuff some more glorious potato chips in my mouth. He was moving better than I was so he took my flasks and bushwhacked down an embankment to the water to fill us all up while I got some precious reprieve in the tiny shade spot created by a little Lolli pop shaped tree next to the busy road intersection.
Steve is still crushing it, pretty much dragging me along at this point which I of course loved/hated. He finally started vocalizing his discomforts which I had been doing either loudly or to myself, both intentionally and reflexively for the past few hours, hah. At this point I was chaffing to no end and Steve was beginning to also, despite applying half a container of Squirrels nuts butter every so often (imagine if I didn't have it, yeeee!) , I couldn't produce saliva to swallow food, so I could only eat with water, and my calves were spasming since I had been running with an altered gate, compliments of the tired hamstrings and chafe. On the plus side, Steve had brought some Coka Cola and offered up a sip of the sweet nectar which was amazing and spirit lifting
Homestretch, mile 43 as we head up the final, biggest climb. The goofy silliness is back. If we don't slack off we'll come in just under 11 hours. Steve being a talented road runner, relished in the runnable sections, including the one that connected the two final peaks. He'd get out of sight and wait a minute at a vista; a good tactic as it kind of slingshotted me along. The exposed peaks were killer, but there was only a mile left. We jumped down (more like tiptoed down) the final half-mile decent. We heard a holler; it was my lady, Monica, who coordinated her own hike in the area to meet us at the finish and taxi us back to the start. We hollered back and forth and felt the rush of knowing the end was just a minute away.
Sages Ravine Sign, mile 50. Elapsed Time : 10 hrs 53 minutes. We were thrilled with everything, especially considering the 92 degree midday heat. I think Steve could've gone a pinch under 10 hours if he went solo. I think I could as well, but after a taper and wait for a day that's 40 degrees cooler, hah.
NOTES : there are many water spots, including some big river crossings and some small streams in the mountains. It had been dry and many were dried up, but there were still ample locations to accommodate an unsupported effort, or a slower moving through-hiker who does not wish to carry more than a liter at any given time. The AT is very well marked, including white paint tags on trees, rocks, and telephone poles. the CT section has many road crossings and roughly 4 miles total of road travel including a few turns on the roads, but as stated, the markings are good and the next tag is almost always in sight.
GEAR: (between Steve and I) 3-5 liter Ultimate Direction vests, Turbine Nasal Dilator, Hydropak-Katahdin water filters, Squirrels Nut Butter, Sunnto Spartan Ultra, Garmin Fenix 5 x plus, Nike Terra Kiger 5's, Saloman S lab ultras, Smartwool socks.
FOOD : (between Steve and I) BCAA's/Creatine/Electrolyte mix, Kettle Brand potato chips, banana chips, Lara bars, fruit gummies, PerformElite energy blend, Maple Syrup, peppermint gum, coka cola, drip drop electrolytes, Oreos, Lenny & Larry's cookie, PB&J, Himalayan salt, Honey Stinger waffles