The weather forecast was too good to pass up! Nice and cool, low humidity, and partly cloudy.. Trails were dry. So I decided to try Eli's clover-shaped route on Ascutney; hitting all the major bottom-to-top routes sequentially. I had only been up Ascutney once by the Windsor Trail, so this was a great opportunity to explore more of the mountain.
I wasn't well rested due to planning this last-minute, and a wakeup in the night from my baby. I didn't bring gu, but used "real food" and some tailwind and clif shots. I figured with tired legs, I wouldn't go that fast, which would let me digest more solid food. I carried a soft flask for the Tailwind, a BeFree filter to fill that soft flask, and as extra capacity, and a Salomon XA filter as my primary dip-n-go water.
It was a gorgeous day on the mountain. Not too many people, and folks were courteous. I kept the pace steady/moderate, so I could keep going for what I expected to be about 6 hours, and to spare my legs a little.
I made a handful of navigation blunders, mostly in the first half, and even in the first mile. None of them amounted to all that much extra, but the time cost of those, and the time spent stopping at many intersections to check directions slowed me by perhaps 10 minutes overall. I did not take any extended breaks, but did stop to filter water, and took more photos than I might have if I were going all-out. I also took the out-and-back from Future's Trail to see the Steam Donkey. On my final ascent, up Brownsville trail, the stream I was counting on was bone dry. I ran out of water, and never got to fill my final flask of Tailwind, which cut into both water and food intake. I knew that without water, food would sit in my guts without properly digesting or nutrients properly absorbing, so I quit eating except slowly sucking on some shot blocks. I think with some fluids and calories here, I would have gone a fair bit faster on that ascent and the final descent.
All that is to say that I could probably go at least 25 minutes faster on a good day, and someone fast could take this time down by an hour over my time!
This is a great way to see the mountain, and if you know the mountain well, it's a great way to test yourself against its varied terrain: from asphalt to gravel to forest road, to slick slab, to dense gnarled roots, to sharp broken rocks, to buffer mountain bike trails This route has a lot!