Saturday, September 15, 2018

Solo Pemi Loop! 9/9/2018

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Pemi Loop
Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Twinway, Bondcliff Trail
31.5 miles
9,160 feet of elevation gain

On Sunday, I hiked a full, one-day, and solo Pemi Loop.  I had been planning to attempt this adventure for two years, and I am psyched that I completed my goal!  I took 16 hours and 50 minutes (including 10-15 minutes on each 4K summit, plus a break at Galehead Hut).  Most hikers do this loop in 2-3 days.  

I am grateful for the support system I had.  Many thanks to Mom for helping me with the planning of the hike, and for informing me about certain parts of the trail. Thank you to John Myers for staying here all day to meet me at my start, on Garfield, and at my finish. I really appreciate your encouragement and help! Also, thank you to Sage for being so excited and supportive.

Mom, John, and I had a specific system.  First of all, I was supposed to eat 300 calories on each 4K summit, and then eat additional calories at Galehead Hut.  Also, I had to be careful about my water and know where all the water sources were located.  I had a PLB with me, and I sent Mom an "I'm okay" message every time I arrived at a 4K summit.  John, Mom, and Sage hiked up Garfield Trail.  John waited for me on Garfield to see how I was doing and to give me some extra food and fluids.  Mom and Sage hiked over to South Twin and waited for me on that summit to do the same thing, and for Mom to assess the situation and see if she would let me continue (if I looked like I was doing okay).

I started the strenuous hike at 4:15 am.  It was, of course, dark and fairly chilly.  I was feeling nervous about all the hiking I was about to do, but at the same time, I was ready and excited to give this challenge all I had.

Photo by Trish Herr

I was a little worried that I had accidentally passed the intersection with Osseo Trail, but I soon came to find that I didn't miss it after all.

The sun was rising...

After a while, I finally saw a beautiful sunrise through the trees.

Outlook sign:

Up and up...

Light from the sunrise shone on the trees, which made for a pretty sight. 

Hello, sun!

It felt nice to be above treeline.

I got my hair dyed recently!  Here are a few close-ups:

Mt. Flume selfie...

Pretty soon, I found myself on the summit of Mt. Liberty.  Both the tops of Flume and Liberty provided gorgeous views.

Feeling strong...

I took this panorama from Liberty.  Here you can see the whole Pemi Loop (basically).

After Liberty, I worked my way over to Lincoln.

Between Lincoln and Lafayette, I saw a little mouse in the middle of the trail that had been squished.  I moved it to the side so people wouldn't accidentally step on it.  RIP the little mouse between Lincoln and Lafayette 2018

On my way to Lafayette, I noticed a mother and daughter sitting on a ledge of Lafayette's summit.  It looked as if they were staring at me, but it was probably just my imagination.  Still, though.

On the summit, there was this male hiker who threw up multiple times.  There were many people at the top, and he was hiking with another guy, so luckily for him, he had available help if he needed it.  He ended up being okay, though; I think he just ate something bad for breakfast.

Summit snack...

The section between Lafayette and Garfield seemed to take a very long time, and I was pretty worn out once I reached Garfield.  The trail up Garfield was steep.

John met me at the summit of Garfield and kindly gave me some treats and liquids.  I had more than enough water and other drinks.  After hanging out on Garfield for 20 minutes, I felt refreshed and ready to continue.

Photo by John Myers
Add caption

Photo by John Myers

All the bumps I had traversed to get here:

There was a steep decline coming down Garfield, and there was one section that was a waterfall trail.  Then, there was a steep incline up to the hut; when I got to Galehead Hut, I briefly considered bailing on South Twin.  I knew that I wanted to hike the whole loop, but I could also feel the aching pains in my limbs.  Everything hurt, and I felt like I was going slowly on the uphill parts of the hike.  Also, I had the annoyance of having half my neck stained light blue from my hair.

After taking a refreshing break at Galehead Hut, I felt much better and hyped myself for a rough climb up to South Twin.  The food and extra liquids I had just put into my body served as fuel and powered my motivation to keep going.

I expected the 0.8-mile climb up South Twin to feel awful after everything I had just done, but it actually didn't feel as long as I thought it would.  I kept a steady pace, not letting myself stop very much, while also making sure I didn't go too quickly (I didn't want to wear myself out).

At the top, I was greeted by Sage and Mom, and I was happy to see them again after around 10.5 hours of hiking.

Me on South Twin:

Photo by Trish Herr

Photo by Trish Herr

They gave me a Whoopie Pie to give me a boost of energy (it was really good!), and they gave me another to have on Bondcliff, my last peak of the day.

After saying my goodbyes, I headed off to the Bonds.  I wasn't getting any extra peaks on this loop, just the ones required.  Therefore, I wasn't going to hike to West Bond.  I was tagging Bond and Bondcliff.

I was grateful to have beautiful views all day.

Me on Bond!  The hike up Bond was the easiest ascent I had done that day.  The more gradual feel of the Bonds section of the Pemi Loop felt better on my legs.

Heading over to Bondcliff (I forgot how small it looks from Bond)...

When I arrived at Bondcliff, I was impressed with myself; I had hiked all of the mountains of the day!  I was finished with all of the uphill parts of the loop.

I had my other Whoopie Pie here with some Powerade Zero.

Despite being done the ups of the day, I still had many miles left.  I faced another challenge: hiking in the dark for a long period of time, while aching, and while worrying about the active bear previously spotted many times in the area.  Thankfully, I did not have any bear encounters, but that might have been because I constantly talked out loud to myself and banged my poles together every 30 seconds much of the way down.  I guess you could say I was overreacting a little, but what I did was not a bad idea considering I was alone in the dark with an active bear around.  Precautions, precautions.  I reminded myself that I know what to do when you come across a black bear: don't run, back up with your eyes lowered...unless the bear is charging.  If the bear is being aggressive, then you should stand your ground, make yourself look big with your poles, and yell menacingly at the animal.  At one point, I was a little wigged out after seeing what I wholeheartedly thought was a bear while I was coming down Bondcliff Trail.  After about a minute, I realized it was just a log...but it sure did look like a bear from a distance!  I felt pretty dumb after this happened, but at least it wasn't an actual bear.  I find the situation quite funny now.

When I was hiking on the flat section of Bondcliff Trail, I saw a headlamp light in the distance.  What was strange was that the light was moving all around.  When I came closer, I saw a large shape and the light right next to it.  I was very confused until I realized that I was looking at a person standing between two horses.  The person was a woman, and she was adjusting one of the horse's straps.  Why she was on Bondcliff Trail at night with two horses is beyond me.

After meeting the lady with the horses, I saw two headlamp lights ahead.  Mom said she was going to walk in and meet me to give me a bottle of Sprite (then wait for me to go ahead so I would do the whole hike solo), so I didn't think that the unit of two people was the group I was keeping an eye out for.  However, when I came closer, I saw that the hikers were Mom and Sage!  I was happy to see them, and I was pleasantly surprised that Sage hiked out there, even though that wasn't the original plan.

After what seemed like forever (the last miles of a hike always seem to take a long time), I finally got to the trailhead sign.  I can not express how excited I was!  I finished an entire solo Pemi Loop. 

Photo by Trish Herr
Sage gave me a hug in the Lincoln Woods parking lot. :)

Photo by Trish Herr
John bought sparkling apple cider (non-alcoholic!) for us to celebrate the completion of my big hike.  It was very refreshing.

Photo by Trish Herr
He also picked up little cupcakes.  He was very nice to do all of this and be so supportive.

Photo by Trish Herr

Photo by Trish Herr
Everything hurt.  I lay down on the cement and looked at the stars, wondering if I would be able to walk or get out of bed tomorrow.  I was very cold once I stopped moving, so I put on my Puffy.

Photo by Trish Herr
Hiking the Pemi Loop was an amazing experience, and I am glad I did it.  Have a great week, everyone!


  1. Congrats!!!!!! Never mind 2-3 days, we did a modified (through 13 falls to Galehead and onto the Twins/Bonds and it took us 3 nights! My eyes play tricks on me toward the end of the day, too. Logs look like people or animals; birch bark hanging off of trees look like signs! You are so fortunate to have supportive family and friends and also a mother who has faith in your abilities and will let you do these things. Keep up the great work (this is for Mom as well as you!).

  2. woot~! you're a beast! what an epic hike!


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