Has anyone on FKT done a double traverse of Smarts Mountain and Mount Cube on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire?
The most logical northern end of this section is Route 25A in Orford near Baker Pond trailhead. To the south, Dorchester Road in Lyme makes for about a 28-mile round trip with about 8000' of climbing, according to my rough line mapped on Caltopo.
I started the route last week from Dorchester Road but turned around at 2:33 at the summit of Mt. Cube because I was running out of time. On the way back, I accidently took the Ranger Trail off Smarts, which is not part of the AT and not part of the intended route. I completed this abbreviated variation to Mt. Cube and back in about 5 hours. This route has great variety, views, plenty of climbing and descending, and approximates the distance and elevation gain of a harder 50k race. I'm hoping this post will spur others to give it a try.
"Without doing any research, I ascertained that there was no Fastest Known Time. History was within our grasp." --- TEO, FKT, Legendary Cube-Smarts Traverse, 11/18/12, www.vftt.org.
There are some great accounts of folks trying for a single traverse of this section of the AT and variations:
TEO and Jeff did the north-to-south one way (single traverse) in November 2012, and also took the Ranger Trail off the south side of Smarts to Dorchester Road as I mistakenly did on my return leg last week. TEO's account is hilarious. They claimed the FKT on this single traverse in "8 hours, 50ish minutes", and I suspect TEO was the first to elevate the route to "legendary" status. www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?47046-FKT-Legendary-Cube-Smarts-Traverse-11-18-12
Emily Wynes posted a good account (with no elapsed time given) from her south-to-north solo single traverse in October 2013. She started at the Dartmouth Skiway and estimated the total distance to Route 25A at about 16 miles. She also did it north-to-south "a few years ago" but preferred the southern start because it gets the Smarts south face climb out of the way early. www.farnorthendurance.com/the-at-in-nh-part-12-smarts-mountain-and-mount-cube/
I'll be attempting the double traverse tomorrow, starting from the Dorchester Road trailhead at about 7:00 AM. The opportunity afforded by a good weather forecast and no morning family obligations can't be turned down. I'm going to shoot for an ambitious (for me) 6 hours for the double traverse.
I won't be able to post immediately after finishing, but will try to report back by the end of the weekend.
Last Edit: Aug 10, 2017 5:29:10 GMT -5 by samprice
Post by robertrives on Aug 10, 2017 17:11:04 GMT -5
The one-way version of this route is part of the Dartmouth 50, so hordes of folks have done it one-way but I haven't heard of other out-and-back efforts on this section.
When I ran the reverse Dartmouth 50 with George Heinrichs, we found a dead moose on top of Smarts. It was crawling with thousands of maggots. I have a good video of it if you ever need to induce vomiting.
Thanks Rob, had a great run! No dead moose spotted or scented this time. I edited my introductory post to reference the Dartmouth 50 on your suggestion.
SAM PRICE -- SMARTS-CUBE DOUBLE TRAVERSE UNSUPPORTED 2017-08-10 -- ALL TIMES TOTAL ELAPSED
Start - Trailhead on Dorchester Rd. Jct. Clark Pond Loop Trail (top of Smarts) northbound Summit Mt. Cube northbound Route 25A pavement edge turnaround Summit Mt. Cube southbound Jct. Clark Pond Loop Trail (top of Smarts) southbound Finish - Trailhead on Dorchester Rd. Total
Elapsed 0:00 1:03 2:35 3:21 4:32 6:33 7:42 7:42
1:03 1:32 0:47 1:10 2:02 1:08
Distance 0.0 3.7 10.0 13.1 16.3 22.6 26.2 26.2
3.7 6.3 3.1 3.2 6.3 3.6
17:02 14:36 15:10 21:52 19:22 18:53 17:38
I did not lay down my best effort due to this run coming at the end of a cycle of training in prep for a race later in the month. I'll be back to run this route again though. Cube and Smarts are awesome, under-appreciated mountains in relatively remote country for that part of the Connecticut River Valley.
I had technical issues with both MotionX on my phone (battery died descending Smarts to finish) and my Polar RS200 (SoundLink data transfer not functioning), but will work to provide as much evidence of my route and splits as I can over the next few days. Interestingly, it seemed my track on MotionX was running several miles longer than the line I plotted in Caltopo. Both sources estimated total elevation gain at around 8,100'.
Having now done the entire route I can say that Emily Wyne's description (link in previous post) is both highly accurate and useful as a guide to running it.
One challenge with this route was water purification. There are well-placed streams but none I'd drink out of without purifying. I like AquaMira but the solution needs 5 minutes to react before adding to water, then 15-30 minutes before drinking to complete purification. I found myself speed walking down the trail with the open cap of AM, waiting for the reaction to complete. Anyone have any fast purification secrets? Any good way to purify water quickly in those 9 oz. vest pocket bottles?
Last Edit: Aug 13, 2017 14:39:11 GMT -5 by samprice
Note that the end of the track is approximately 1.6 miles short of the finish at the Dorchester Rd. trailhead due to my phone running out of battery. I'll estimate the total distance of the route at an even 26.2 miles and the total elevation at 8,108 as recorded in MotionX.
Also, the total elapsed time according to the track is 7:57, but that is because my phone resumed tracking after I plugged it in and it powered up on the car ride home. I immediately stopped the tracking before it could get a GPS fix, but it must have logged a final location-less data point upon power-up. I kept splits on my watch and recorded a time on course of 7:42 as previously stated.
I'm glad that you've established an official FKT now, b/c that section is tough and deserves it, and I know of a handful of people who use that section for training. For example, in this article, Mark Klemm discusses the route for training for the insane Goruck Selection:
Quote: The Appalachian Trail over Smarts Mountain and Mount Cube was another one of his favorite training routes. “I’d do 15 to 20 miles at a time, always carrying 60 to 65 pounds on my back because I knew that’s what it was going to be like (at Goruck Selection),” Klemm said. “I tried to do 20-minute miles.”