FKT: Raphael Sarfati - New England Trail (CT, MA) - 2020-10-07

Athletes
Gender category
Male
Route variation
Full Trail (MA & CT)
Multi-sport
No
Style
Unsupported
Start date
Finish date
Total time
4d 8h 35m
Report

Preliminary Report -- New England Trail (Full), solo, unsupported.

I started the New England Trail at the NH/MA border on Saturday, October 3rd, a little before 1:30pm EST. My goal was to use the overnight shelters as different stages, and cover the entire trail in less than 5 days. I did this trail completely on myself, and fully unspported, carrying all gear and food with me, and using natural sources for water. This is a preliminary report, and I will publish a longer report shortly

Day 1: NH/MA border to Wendell State Forest.
The northern part of Masschussets was quite pleasant. The trail was rather flat, beautiful colors, and and most streams had water in them. I ran quite a bit, reached the Richardson cabin at sunset (beautiful light there), and continued all the way to Wendell State. I arrived a little before midnight (I think), with some people already sleeping there, but I set up my bivy sack next to them anyways. I thought I had heard me, but what they heard was my snoring when I fell asleep, which they thought was some wild animal grunting. Awkward situation, but they were very nice about it! I departed again at around 5am.

Day 2: Wendell State Forest shelter to Mount Holyoke Outing Club cabin.
A beautiful day as well, and easy terrain for the early part of the day. I knew things were going to get harder once hitting the Holyoke range. I had been over confident as well with my ability to find water, and things started to get more difficult there. I arrived at the bottom of the Mount Holyoke State Park (Bay Road) in mid-afternoon, as I was already depleted in water. I knew there was littl chance to find more on the ridges. The first ridge was steep, and for the first time there were crowds on the trail! I had barely seen anyone until then. I came down on the other side of first range, more and more desperate for water. I found a very muddy puddle and took some from there. People passing by looked at me like I was crazy. But it was actually the right thing to do. The second range didn't have any water either. I arrived at the Cabin just after sunset. The map indicated a possible pond nearby, but I never found it. I knew things were going to get harder. I slept on the cabin's porch, good concrete!

Day 3: Mount Holyoke Cabin to Winsor Locks Tentsite.
This was supposed to be the "easy day". It reallyw asn't that much. I departed at around 1am. Because the trail starts on one side of the Connecticut River, and picks up again on the Mt Tom Reservation on the other side, I knew I had to go around by teh road. People in the past had be driven around or used a kayak, but my goal was to do everything by foot. So I had about 11 miles, on roads in the middle of night, and going through Northampton, MA. This was a long, unpleasant, and frankly annoying part, even felt quite unsafe, bith for walking the road for so long and for going through a twon I didn't know in the middle of the night. I was happy to reach the bottom on the Mt Tom reservation, but was more and more anxious about water. From the map, it seems like it was possible there would be some in the Cascade Brook on the range, or in a pond next to it, but when I got there it was absolutely dry. Not a good feeling. With nothing else to do but keep going, I continued. As I was reaching the scrambly sections below Mt Tom, suddlenly, a miracle: on a rocky knob, a hole in the rock had some water in it. It couldn't even feel my flask more than a couple onunces at a time, but it was better than nothing. When I finally found decent water at the bottom, it was a huge relief, but I knew I was on shaky grounds.
The next sections are rather flat, but poorly marked, and evidently seldom travelled. These parts had some streams running though, but I knew once I crossed into CT I was going to have issues again. Just before the border I stopped for a while in a swampy area and replenished fluids as much as I could. I was a gorgeous day, but hot too. That part was really pretty, and I arrived at the Winsor Locks tentside around 5pm. I was nice to have a bit of time in the daylight to pause and get things ready. The next day, planned was 58 miles, was going to be harsh.

Day 4: Windsor Locks Tensite to Lamentation Mountain Tentsite (does it exist though)?
Well it was supposed to be hard...but I wasn't expecting that kind of hard. I departed actually just before midnight. The first sections went OK, though the trail was getting more and more rugged, and water was always an issue but there are a few reservoirs along the way. Fast forward to end of afternoon. The Ragged Mountain sections are steep and rugged, poorly marked. I reached the top of Hubbard Park just as the sun was setting... Beautiful sight, but it had already been a long day (18+ hours at that point) and I wasn't even close to "home". Going down the extremely steep, loose, poorly marked sections of the park in the dark was horrible. More details on that later, but when I finally got to the last few miles of the day I was so exhausted, de-hydrated, and lacking food that I started to lose my mind. I fought hard to climb Lamentation Mountain, where the official tentsite was supposed to be, but could not find it. Honestly I am not sure it's even there. The general area is covered in fallen trees, and the trail doesn't seem much travelled. I decided to just slip into my bag a few yards away from the trail. I couldn't even sleep at first and wasn't sure if I was dreaming, my mind was going wild. I wasn't sure what I'd be capable the next day. I gave myself a bit more time to sleep, and set up my laram for 5am.

Day 5: Lamentation Mountain to Long Island Sound.
At 5am I checked the engines, and everything seems to be kind of working. So we're good to go. About 45miles. I drink copious amounts of water at Bradley Hubbard Reservoir, and keep going. Thankfully the trail becomes easier and easier as we go. There is a nice breeze on the ridges, water in the reservoirs, so things are going fine. I'm moving rather fast, and start getting closer to known territory. Mid-afternoon I am at the Bluff Head which I know from previous races, and a bit later at the junction with Menunkatuck, which feels very close now. I just want to be done at that point. I cleared the 5.5 miles of the forest in barely more than 1 hour, and thankfully: just as I am about to exit on Route 80, a thunderstorm brings crazy winds all of a sudden. The trees are shaking and cracking, and I know they have a strong tendency to just fall. I don't want to be there, I come sprinting, and leave that forest like a bat out of hell! The next sections are flat and easy, but as it gets dark they can be hard to navigate. It takes me a bit more time than anticipated (and hoped), but the end is near. Finally I reach the last few road sections, start running like crazy. The storm apparently has caused power outages so Guilford is super dark. I climb the stairs at the train section, and just sprint out to the sea. Marine is there waiting for me, but we can't quite find the beach in the dark. I pull out my phone and just follow the tracks, until I get my feet wet. And that was it, it was just a few minutes after 10pm.

 

I will provide more details soon, but this is already a good sample of the adevnture. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you very much.

PS: I listed my time at 4d8h39min, but it's not a very precise calculation. Start time was 13:28:52pm according to my Suunto, and end time was about 10:04pm
PS2: I believe this would also qualify for the unsupported FKT for the Mass only section of the trail.