The parking lot and start area of the race is right off route 93. This is good, since I did not wish to face the major traffic issues of Stoneham, MA.
The access path to the main trail. At this point, I was thinking that this trail would be a cakewalk (or cakeultrarun). I was mistaken.
This is the entry to the skyline white loop. Including the access trail, it is an 8 mile loop. Actually, the first loop was for me an 11 mile loop. Getting lost in the woods at the very start of the run did not bode well.
The beginning of the skyline trail looks pathetically easy. I laugh at your paltry trail. Bah!
Again, nothing but "Bah's" here.
This is one of a few streams in the park. I likes me some streams, so here is photographic evidence of their existence.
I do so love bridges in the middle of the woods. I must compulsively photograph each one. In the past I fought this compulsion, but age and wisdom have taught me that this is an exercise in futility.
The beginning of the hills. I find that the photograph makes it look more tame than it is. Notice that in the trees is a wonderful treehouse complete with a porch. Who has a treehouse with a porch? Answer: This person does.
I continue to follow the obvious and well marked trail.
After I finally figured out that the white plaques on the trees marked the trail, the race went much easier. A pity it took me 45 minutes to figure this out. Then again, what is a few extra miles in an ultramarathon?
My legendary love of bridges knows no bounds as I photograph this delightful little span.
Here some of my fellow ultrarunners breeze by me and climb the hill. I find that the perspective of people in the photo gives a more accurate representation that this is, in fact, not a little bitty hill after all.
They continue to climb. Notice the gentleman on the left using his arms to help his legs. This method is surprisingly effective. I heartily recommend it.
I love rocky road, so put another mile in the trail race, baby!
Whee! Running down the rocks.
OK. These hills aren't funny anymore.
"What rolls down stairs alone or in pairs, Rolls over your neighbor's dog? What's great for a snack and fits on your back? It's Log, Log, Log! It's Log, Log, it's big, it's heavy, it's wood. It's Log, Log, it's better than bad, it's good! Everyone wants a log! You're gonna love it, Log! Come on and get your log! Everyone needs a Log!" Note: Sing to the original "Slinky" commercial song for best results. Refer to "Ren and Stimpy" for more information on log.
Ah, the joy of a nice flat running path. Of course, our trail does not follow this path whatsoever. We merely intersect with it. It teases us and mocks us and laughs at us. Shut up, flat path!
Well, this is obviously the best path to take in this area. Great idea, trailblazer man!
Lest you think it was all nasty, there were some stretches like this. Short stretches. Over in two minutes or less stretches. But welcome stretches nonetheless.
I like this little dude on the Skyline Trail. He is going somewhere, with a purpose, and not all the demons in the foulest pits of hell can stop him. Go, Skyline Trail dude, go!
This tree rued the day it fell across the path. It was not actually sawn in half, but worn down from hikers and runners over millions of years.
Skyline trail goes up...again. And again. And again.
At this point, I had hit around 27 miles, which is the furthest distance I had ever run. I thought it deserved a photo. I look better than I feel.
At the halfway point there was a secret stash of water. Pity it was empty when I went by it on my last loop. The final 4 miles were thirsty work.
I was sure to look both ways and make sure there were no trucks on the skyline path. Luckily, I saw not a one.
Another nice flat area. Too bad it does not last.
This was just beyond the nice flat area. Is the mountain getting revenge upon me for enjoying the flat area? It seems so.
Nice roots, man!
A cairn in the wilderness, representing the bleakness of existence in a meaningless universe, or just time wasted by a bunch of teenagers who had nothing better to do.
Well, at least it's downhill.
Is there anything more marvelous that a little bridge in the middle of the woods? If there is, I don't want to hear about it.
Another outcropping of rocks. The glaciers did their work here. I believe this is know as an ablation till superglaciation deposition, but I could be wrong. Consult your local geologist...today!
You have got to be kidding me.
This is just what I wanted to see at mile 30. Notice the little blue spec in the center of the picture. That is a person. A six foot tall person. Perspective is vital.
Another fine "path".
A bit of a climb to the tower. Notice the defensive arrow slit. Arrow slits, also known as arrow loops or bow loops, allowed defenders to fire their arrows from cover. Sometimes the locals like to pick off pesky ultrarunners from their baby castle.
A view from the area I think of as "Tower Plateau". What the guy on the left thinks is not on record.
This tower was at mile 5 of the 8 mile loop. I was going to climb it and take a picture, but it was locked. *sigh*
"Climb the steps, Jim. Climb the steps of Mt. Seleyah."
"Mt. Seleyah? Bones, Mt. Seleyah's on Vulcan. We're home. On Earth."
Another fine section of easily navigable trail.
Lousy glacial deposition! It makes me so mad!
A view of the town of Stoneham, MA (maybe. Who can tell? More importantly, who will care?)
I was very glad here for the pine needles making this area extremely slippery. Otherwise I would have felt that I was running on some namby-pamby wussy trail.
A majestic little bridge over a tiny stream. Ah, the beauty!
I bet that this area will look beautiful in a month or two. Now it just looks nasty.
Although by this time most people had cleared out, earlier in the day there were many, many people with many, many dogs. My wife would have loved it, as she has been known to say that she highly enjoys social pet based activities.
It was here I began to hallucinate. I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, "Come and see". And I saw, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
Who thought that this was a trail? Does it even look like a trail? Does it even remotely resemble a trail? Somewhere, someone is laughing at me.
The slope m of the line through the
points (x1, y1) and (x2, y2) is given by m=y2-y1 / x2-x1. Slope m also equals a double ouchie.
A fine view from the top of a hill, or at least it would be fine if it was not overcast and most of the trees didn't look quite so dead.
This is where I saw the leprechan. He told me to burn things.
We ultrarunners are a cocky group...and rightly so!
A final thought as I finish my first ultramarathon. Four 8-mile loops plus 45 minutes running lost in the woods equals a conservatively estimated 35 miles. I believe a "boo-yah" is in order. Ahem. Boo-yah!
Carrie is thrilled to join me on an 8 mile hike at Middlesex Fells.
Carrie brings a bag to pick up any trash we find along the way. We only found a single water bottle the entire day. She did not need to bust any heads on this day.
A view from one of the higher points of the fells. Compared to my photos from March, it is, like the genesis cave, full of life.
Carrie stoops to find interesting rocks. This is why it took us 5 hours to finish the hike.
Carrie slowly meanders over the plateau, giving a lesson in geology to me as she goes.
Going down the rocks, noting the strand orientation of the glacial deposits.
Checking the roots of a felled tree for interesting animal life.
US Coast Geodetic Survey Triangulation Station. Actually, there was no station at all, just this plug in the rock.
A view of Boston from the top of the tower. Check out the next photo from the race to compare.
I had no idea there was anything in the world but fog.
I took this photo for comparison from the race. The next photo may shock you. Parental discretion is advised.
It is easy to see the mythology of the dying God who rises from the dead each spring to bring new life to the world. Go back and forth between the two photos. I am in almost exactly the same spot. As Neo would say of the matrix, "Whoah."
Carrie traverses a fine woodland bridge. She of course stopped to check the stream for life forms. You should have seen her at the vernal pond (a pond that exists only during the rainy part of spring, but then dries up during the summer. While it lasts, a host of organisms call it home).
A view of the Winchester water supply. It seems the town need not go thirsty for some time.
Carrie crossing one of the final bridges before we end out little journey. Much fun was had, and I think we both learned a little something during the hike. I learned my wife cannot walk more than five feet without getting distracted by something. Actually, I tell a lie; I already knew that.