Saturday, August 21, 2021
Start/End: Lincoln Woods trailhead
We stayed the night at Big Rock campground, and were up around 4:15am. We got ready quickly and headed to Lincoln Woods. We started out from the bridge a bit after 5am and ran to the Osseo trail split. We kept jogging until the climb started and then we power hiked. It was already hot, even before sunrise; it was 90% humidity and around 70 degrees. On the climb up Flume, I lost at least 4 liters of water through sweat. By the time we reached the summit, I was fading, and felt dizzy and lightheaded. We stopped for a short break, and Justin kindly shared their salt pills with me. The Ridge was in the clouds, but the sun was starting to peak through the cloud cover.
We headed over to Liberty and by the time we made the summit at 8am, the Ridge was mostly in the clear. We bombed through the woods and popped up above treeline, and made good time over the ridge with some running mixed into the power hiking, arriving at Lafayette by 9:40am. Then we went back into the trees and made our way over to Garfield, arriving at 11:30am. We stopped for our first water at the shelter and pushed on to the hut, arriving around 1pm. We stopped for water and to rearrange our snacks, I changed into a dry shirt since my sweat-soaked shirt had started to rub, and then kept moving. A slender young man carrying nothing except two hand-held water bottles with a handful of GUs arrived at the hut just as we were leaving; he looked exhausted and flushed. I suspected he ran out of water; he looked like someone who had thought the Pemi Loop was easily runnable and found out what a mistake that was.
We summitted South Twin and then rushed through the woods over to Guyot, arriving at Bond just before 3pm. Clouds were starting to come in, and we could see rain falling in the distance. Low clouds were sweeping over the distance between Bond and Bondcliff, and we descended quickly, wanting to be below treeline before any rain happened. We made Bondcliff by 3:45pm and took a short break for me to change out my sweat-soaked and chafing socks. A few other Pemi Loopers stopped nearby to eat and take care of their feet. As I changed my socks, the young man from the hut slogged by; he stopped and was like, “Didn’t I pass you before?” I told him that no, we’d seen him at the hut and left perhaps 5-10 minutes before he did. He looked exhausted and kept moving down the ridge. Justin and I pushed off a few minutes later, and threw our speed into 5th gear as soon as we were down below the technical rocks. We’d taken a lot longer on the first half than I had during my first Pemi Loop in 2019, but I really wanted to beat my last time. If we ran the last 6 miles to the trailhead, I had a solid chance of beating my last time of 13 hours on the clock, 12 hours moving.
As things smoothed out, we ran faster. Soon after we hit the smoother section of Lincoln Woods, we passed the young man again. He looked like he was struggling; Justin said he’d run out of food and was bonking. We ran on, keeping to the pace I could manage. A little while later, the young man caught up to us, pulled ahead, and then within 5-10 minutes, he was walking again. As we ran past, Justin gave him an extra snack we had. Another few minutes later, after eating the snack, the young man caught up to us and matched pace for a while, chatting with Justin. He’s from California and had no idea what he was getting into with the Pemi Loop. He hadn’t planned ahead and didn’t bring enough food to fuel the effort. Towards the end, he pulled ahead for the last half a mile. I found it somewhat amusing that I was less than 2 hours slower on a hot and humid day than a very fast and strong ultra trail runner who didn’t know technical terrain.
We reached the bridge at a full run and then walked to the parking lot for drinks and a nice long sit on the ground, leaning against the bumper. We decided to go for a swim since the campground didn’t have showers and we were covered in dirt and sweat. After a refreshing dip, we headed into town to buy a very large pizza.