FKT: Phoebe Seltzer - Swan Song / Gulf Song Loop (NH) - 2020-06-26

Route variation
Gulf Song
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
14h 35m 44s

The last year or so I’ve had some bad races due to sleep deprivation so any time I have a big race I have trouble sleeping because I’m nervous of it happening again and add to that illegal campers playing music nearby, so I didn’t get enough sleep and woke up tired. When I’m tired it’s also hard to eat and even harder to drink but I had a cinnamon roll and there isn’t any time I can’t eat a cinnamon roll. I was frustrated but had put off the FKT for a while waiting for the snow to melt and couldn’t push it anymore. So I decided to give it my best shot because that’s all anyone can do, do their best. I snapped a photo of the trailhead for a time stamp, stowed my phone and pressed start on my watch. The first mile went smoothly knocking it off in 12:45 but then I got hungry from not eating and was able to force a spring energy down with only some gagging. From the start to mount Washington on the great gulf trail I wasn’t in the mood to eat or drink so was forcing myself to. Just after clam rock, I decided to lay down in the river for a little to try to wake myself up or at least give me some energy. It helped a little. Past Sphinx trail I ran into a coworker from last fall and we chatted for a couple minutes. A little later I got off trail and tried to bushwack back but it didn’t work so retraced my steps. I maybe lost 5-10 minutes. Once past Spaulding lake I finished off my bottles and refilled them at a stream crossing at just under 3 hours. I stowed my poles and got going up the head wall. Being sleepy this is where things were a little rough as climbing steps while tired is no fun. I got a tiny bit off trail a few times going up the head wall but always made it back. Once on gulfside I sanitized my hands and took my poles out. I made it up in about 4 hours and the head wall I think was the slowest mile of the day. I snapped another photo on top and went off down Nelson Crag to Alpine Garden and Wamsutta where I stowed my poles again partway down. I made quick work of these trails and Wamsutta was much easier than I remembered. On the six husbands river crossing I refilled one of my bottles again and then headed up. This climb was also bad but not as bad and I’m a good deal faster than I was a couple years ago. Gone are the days when it took me an hour to climb a mile in super technical terrain. Just below the snowfield I sanitized and took my poles out and I made it the 2.4 to the top of Jefferson in 1:40 and snapped a pic at the junction just below the summit and headed to Adams. I made it there in an hour and headed to the hut. I then went off down buttress and I think I may have banged my head here but I definitely banged my right knee on a rock. I stowed my poles a little later than I should and took them out a tiny bit too soon. But I made it down from the hut to the river crossing right before the great gulf junction in 1:10. I passed some people right before the river but then refilled my bottles so apologized in case I held them up. I only quickly filled them and screwed the tops on and waited till I crossed to add the iodine where I was able to get out of the way. I had a snack and took out my portable charger while I waited the 5 minutes to thread the cap and shake the bottle. From there to near the Mad Gulf headwall I recharged my watch and got it back to 100%. It’s nice that I can recharge while using it! I knocked off a 20 minute mile going down great gulf so was happy. From Madison Hut before buttress or maybe even Jefferson to when I finished I actually felt good again and wasn’t tired anymore. The climb up Mad Gulf I felt the best but when I got to the Mad Gulf Great Gulf Junction I got hungry and started running out of food. Who knew 2,600 calories wouldn’t be enough. I made it to the headwall feeling good and moving well and the headwall went pretty good save for banging my head on a rock I didn’t see. Ouch. Near the top it started raining and once I topped out I put my raincoat on and got to test my new built in rain cover. The new model of the UD Adventure Vesta has both a PLB pouch and a built in rain over that stows in the hydration bladder pocket when not in use. Form Great Gulf to the summit of Madison via Mad Gulf and Osgood it took me just over 2 hours and was 8:30 when I got to the top. It was cold, windy, wet and the light was fading. But the sun was this beautiful bright red color and the sky was pretty too and I was able to get a decent picture. I was able to get almost to tree line and more sheltered before needing to turn my light on. The osgood ridge was worse than I remembered, I remembered it being the easy part of Osgood but that could have been due to the weather. It definitely slowed me down especially when it got dark. Below tree line Osgood was much easier and much less jarring than I remembered. I got to the tentsite and really started running well the best one can do when it’s dark and you weren’t pushing all day and weren’t used to pushing. I made it down from Madison surprisingly in just under 2 hours considering the weather on top! I stoped my watch and then snapped a picture of the trail sign. Considering I was mostly taking it easy and considering I was tired I was happy to be only 35 minutes off my goal time of 14 hours and probably could go at least an hour faster on a good day. But still super pleased and happy to set my first FKT! I fueled almost exclusively with Spring energy gels, Untapped Maple Syrup and Trail Butter save for a couple bars I ate. I refilled at streams using iodine and replacement energy drink powder. I brought everything with me and ran by myself the whole time.