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View Full Version : Footwear and Other Considerations for a Fit Big Guy Up the Big W Via Tuck's



Driver8
07-10-2011, 21:01
I'm planning to hike up Tuckerman's to Mt. Washington summit in 9 days, and maybe back down via Boott Spur (might park car and drive back down instead). In prepping, am thinking about footwear and anything else which might come to mind.

Normally, in Connecticut and Mass, where I hike the most, on AT and New England Trail and other CT Blue Blazers, I wear running shoes or some Merrell low-rise jobbers I've got. I also have a pair of heavier duty Timberland leather boots which are much weightier but would give a lot more ankle support and protection. Love the wool and merlino socks I've got and will wear those, whatever the shoe or boot choice.

This will be my first experience in the Whites. My highest hiking elev to date was Stratton last fall, once, and Greylock twice last Sept and once last weekend. I'll be toting my small daypack, totalling 20-ish lbs, mostly water and foot, plus basic first aid supplies and the like.

I'm 5'10" and weigh about 285, about 80 of that is fat, have lost 30-35 lbs in the past 15 months, with legs solid as a rock, can pretty well go forever on level ground up to 10% grade. Am slowed significantly by steeper grades, especially past 20%, but I can keep going in such terrain with breaks - not looking to set any time records, figure on 5:30 or so to get up. Have done 35%+ grade ascents for 0.3 and less (Bear Mtn northside and Sleeping Giant head in in in CT, Race Brook Falls along the brook and Everett southside in Mass), though never for a mile like at Tuck's and on the summit cone of W.

Summing up, I have very fit legs and a strong, fit body with a legacy overlay of fat which I'm working off with deliberate speed. The fat weight does still slow me significantly on steep grades.

I am highly confident I can and will get up fine. It will tire me a lot, and I'm on the fence about descending after.

General exercise background: I hike and walk a combined total of 20-30 miles per week, with 2000-3000 elevation gain on average. Have hiked, walked, biked and cardio at gym the equivalent of 1000+ walking miles in the past year.

Recent background: I did 8.5 miles last week at Greylock with about 2250' elevation gain in wet and slippery conditions - the previous day I'd done 7.5 mostly dry, moderately rocky miles with about 1400' elevation gain. Was good and tired after, but feel much stronger for it after rest and recovery. Likewise, two weeks ago, I did 7.2 miles with about 1900' elevation gain, wet and slippery, at Mt. Race via Falls Trail and AT the day after a wet and rainy 6 miler on the New England Trail in CT with about 1000' elevation gain. Was pretty tired and lethargic after the Race hike. The wet slipperiness took a toll - requires so much concentration and precise foot and legwork, and that is draining.

I will be hiking with at least one partner. Will bring layers of clothes, as one must for the Big W, with as much synthetic clothing as possible and a cotton towel, as usu, for brow mopping (I sweat a lot). Will bring Gatorade or the like, plus plenty of water, and PBJs and my preferred trail mix for food.

Anyway, my questions:

1. Footwear? Go with the boots, even though they're heavier, or will running shoes or Merrells suffice? Carry boots on the back and swap at the hut and then as appropriate on descent?

2. Park a car or bike at the top, or ascend and descend? I plan to do a relatively easy hike next Saturday and take Sunday off, carboloading and resting up. Will walk in my mostly level town a few times this week, maybe 20 miles total, with keeping it mellow and moderate mostly in mind.

3. Anything I might be missing? Is my thought that my training should be sufficient probably on target - much like marathoners who run 12-15 miles to train for 26.2?

4. Should elevation be a concern? I had a small asthmatic reaction (acute cough compromising my breathing about 20% which resolved in a few mins) last fall at Stratton after the hike - went from 55* at base of 2230' to 38* and 35 mph winds, steady at summit. First time I ever had such an issue.

Driver8
07-10-2011, 21:10
PS: Thanks for any and all helpful replies. Of course my pack will include *food*, not *foot*, chuckle. My foot, as usual, will be in my mouth. :)

WingedMonkey
07-10-2011, 23:07
2. Park a car or bike at the top, or ascend and descend?

I wouldn't even think about biking down from Washington. I bike a lot not just flat Florida, I've biked in Alaska on some steep downhills.
Even cars coming down Washington have to pull over to cool off the brakes.

bobqzzi
07-10-2011, 23:30
1. Trail runners are fine

2. Take the shuttle van down. Last time I was there it was reasonably priced.

3. You'll be okay. I've dine it twice at about that weight. Took me 4:00 up

4. No

5. You might want to go up Lion's Head.

WingedMonkey
07-10-2011, 23:30
I wouldn't even think about biking down from Washington. I bike a lot not just flat Florida, I've biked in Alaska on some steep downhills.
Even cars coming down Washington have to pull over to cool off the brakes.

To be more clear bikes are only allowed on Mt Washington for two special uphill races, and those races do not allow downhill returns.

bobqzzi
07-10-2011, 23:39
I wouldn't even think about biking down from Washington. I bike a lot not just flat Florida, I've biked in Alaska on some steep downhills.
Even cars coming down Washington have to pull over to cool off the brakes.

Bikes aren't allowed on the road except for the yearly race

Driver8
07-11-2011, 00:15
Thanks all. I checked out the toll road website and saw that biking down is not an option. Chuckle - my ignorance there. The shuttle, at $30, works, if needed. We'll see. I think I probably will do that, in order to save some of me for a) the drive back to CT, or b) some waterfall hikes, short ones, in the Crawford Notch area, or c) both. I might also opt to hike in the Alpine Garden and some of the AT on either side of the summit. My partner wants to descend after the ascent - that may have some influence on my choice, will be discussing it tomorrow with him at Rotary Club, to which we both belong.

Bob: Thanks for the encouragement. I did Lion's Head from Rt 41 on 6/4 the same day after doing Sages from Rt. 41 to near the CT/MA line in the morning. LH is more like a 15% pull for the last mile or so. Sages was quite treacherous - a lot like ascending Race Brook along the falls, though trickier in places. We didn't go all the way up - stopped at a small waterfall just south of the state line; it was a mixed group hike for Trails Day. (I want to go back with friends and go all the way up to the AT from 41 sometime soon. Also want to explore the ravine between Lion's Head and Mt. Washington Road, as well as Bald Peak. But first things first.)

WingedMonkey
07-11-2011, 00:58
Unless time or money prevent it, you might want to consider a longer route and an overnight stay. If you haven't seen it already here is another site with the different trails and options. I'm not comfortable on all that rock in trail runners, but that's me.
http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/washington.html

Mooselook Marty
07-11-2011, 06:10
You will need to choose another route up Mt. Washington, starting on July 18. Tuckerman's will be closed for 4-5 weeks - see link:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/conditions/

Lions Head is the most obvious choice, but it will be PACKED with the Tuckerman's overflow. Boott Spur is a great choice, as you had mentioned. Nelson Crag is another, if you want to do a loop.

Another option is doing a loop from the west side, going up Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail/Crawford Path and down Gulfside/Jewell Trails, starting at the Cog Railway station.

Have a great hike.

Marty

Driver8
07-11-2011, 09:16
You will need to choose another route up Mt. Washington, starting on July 18. Tuckerman's will be closed for 4-5 weeks

Thanks, Marty. We'll just have to go Huntington's Ravine (kidding). If the weather is cooperative, we can do Nelson Crag, otherwise probably joining the crowd up Lion Head or maybe Boott. (I see now that Bob was probably referring to this Lion Head, not the one in NW Connecticut.) Either way, it will moderate the grade a bit, which is good for me. :) I might even talk my friend into doing the Great Gulf Trail up if the weather is good, though that will be quite a bit longer.

Driver8
07-11-2011, 10:48
Update: there'll be at least 5 of us in the party. We're figuring out about route - probably go up Boott Spur and down Lion Head or Nelson Crag. Starting to get excited!

Driver8
07-11-2011, 11:00
Unless time or money prevent it, you might want to consider a longer route and an overnight stay. If you haven't seen it already here is another site with the different trails and options. I'm not comfortable on all that rock in trail runners, but that's me.
http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/washington.html

Thanks for the link, WM. I'm gonna err on the side of caution and wear the heavy boots. My friend has an RV and has reserved a spot in a valley camping area, I think near Pinkham Notch, so we'll be day hiking, camping the nights before and after.

Snowleopard
07-11-2011, 12:39
"1. Footwear." Use what you've been using. Mt. Washington is not different from the trails you've been doing in Mass. and Conn., there's just more of it. If your running shoes/Merrell shoes work on the steep rocky trails you've been on they should be fine on Mt. W.
"4. Should elevation be a concern?" No. Mt. W. is not high enough for altitude problems. Asthma symptoms? That sounds odd. Asthma wouldn't resolve in minutes. If it happens again, see a doctor, but I doubt that it's asthma. If you do have asthma, you need to carry asthma meds, always.

You'll do fine. Have fun.

Driver8
07-11-2011, 14:07
"1. Footwear." Use what you've been using. Mt. Washington is not different from the trails you've been doing in Mass. and Conn., there's just more of it. If your running shoes/Merrell shoes work on the steep rocky trails you've been on they should be fine on Mt. W.
"4. Should elevation be a concern?" No. Mt. W. is not high enough for altitude problems. Asthma symptoms? That sounds odd. Asthma wouldn't resolve in minutes. If it happens again, see a doctor, but I doubt that it's asthma. If you do have asthma, you need to carry asthma meds, always.

You'll do fine. Have fun.

Hi Snowleopard:

Thanks for your support. I'm feeling pretty confident, just keeping my game face on, my focus. Looks like we'll have 6 for the trip - our party is growing!

Feet: Now you've got me thinking about going light with the shoes. We'll see on that. Will pack all three for the drive up and then decide the day of.

Altitude/"Asthma": On 10/9/10 at Stratton, a short while after getting in the car at hike's end, I had a short sharp coughing spell (had no problems during the hike other than ordinary fatigue cured by brief respites). I felt compromised in my breathing to the extent of about 20%. It was distressing and fortunatley passed quickly. First time ever in my life. I've had a few lesser episodes since, much milder, relating to hikes, especially in colder weather. It seems to have receded of late, due either to warmer weather or to better conditioning on my part, or both.

sixhusbands
07-11-2011, 16:13
The rowds will be an issue no matter what trail you take up to the summit. You can take a trail on the south end of the parking lot at Pinkham and it goes to the Glen Bolder trail. This trail leads up and and around the Gulf of Slides and intersects with Tuckermans at the start of the headwall. then all you have is a mile climb to the summitt. You can back down Lions Head to the parking lot.. this way you will runito most of the crowds that are coming up. it is much easier passing coming down and the trail is fairly easy.
Huntingdon ravine is another choice and I would only go up as it is a tough hike coming down. I would agree with other posters on this site that the shuttle would be a good option for you. Just a few extra pounds on the knees will beat you up on the downs. hey see how you like it and make plans to come back and bag some more peaks. When you get Mt. Washignton under your belt .. there are only 47 more to bag!


have fun.. enjoy the view and definitely try a bowl of clam chowder at the top!

Driver8
07-11-2011, 17:38
have fun.. enjoy the view and definitely try a bowl of clam chowder at the top!

I like that idea! I will play descending by ear. Will depend on conditions and on how I feel. I'm not ready to ascend Huntington's just yet. Looking forward to next week!

Papa D
07-11-2011, 21:15
Hey Driver 8 - thought about you todayE-mailing from Iron Mountain Shelter, TNOut for a little 150 mile jaunt in the heat- You need some support in a boot, knowingthe way you walk but i would still suggesttrail shoe - maybe a high top one - checkOut the La Sportiva line - great productsThanks again for the shuttle in March too!!

Driver8
07-11-2011, 21:53
Hey Driver 8 - thought about you todayE-mailing from Iron Mountain Shelter, TNOut for a little 150 mile jaunt in the heat- You need some support in a boot, knowingthe way you walk but i would still suggesttrail shoe - maybe a high top one - checkOut the La Sportiva line - great productsThanks again for the shuttle in March too!!

Hi D!

Thanks for checking in. You're the tie-breaker, esp since you know me. I'll go for the Timberland boots for this hike. Most of the time the Merrells and the New Balance running shoes I have suffice, but I reckon I'll play it safe at Mt. W, at least at higher, rockier elevations. Easier to wear them for the whole trip, I expect. Not worth my while, now, to go buy new boots for this trip, but I will keep the Sportivas in mind when purchasing time comes, probably in the fall.

Hope you enjoy your trek!

Driver8
07-13-2011, 21:19
Add-on questions:

1. How much less busy will the Lion Head Trail be on a Tuesday, rather than a holiday or a weekend? I'm thinking that ascending it, the steeper route, and descending Boott Spur is probably ideal, assuming I don't take the shuttle down. A little easier on knees, ankles, etc., for the return trip.

2. The early forecast from the Weather Channel is for isolated T'storms Tuesday. Is there a time of day up there when t'storm activity characteristically becomes much more likely? 2 pm, maybe?

XLfeet
07-14-2011, 18:54
You can always tell Adrian what you need and he will track it down for you 99% of the time at http://XLfeet.com. If not, he will let you know right away as not to waste your time. He's is very familiar with Superior Hiking Trail in the Duluth, MN area, and he will be a great help finding large hiking solutions.

I have found it very easy to find Mens large size hiking, work, firefighter, hazmat, and motorcycle boots sizes 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 in wide and extra wide up to EEE at XLfeet. They were founded by Adrian with size 16 EEE shoes, and they make ordering easy and fast.
12299

Del Q
07-14-2011, 19:39
I have used Vasque, am pretty big, their new waterproof trail shoes, low top, are great. I have a wide foot, not a lot of options. Very happy with these, might be my best ever

Driver8
07-22-2011, 11:59
Trip Report:

We opted for Boott Spur up. The weather was perfect - clear and a high of 55 at the summit and light winds with gusys - but I found it extraordinarily hard and grueling, by far the hardest trail I've done. Connecticut trails, even the AT, are like Jr High School and Greylock like high school (though I've not done the toughest ascents there) and Mt. W is like advanced graduate work.

I got just past Split Rock, the half-way point, and my thighs, then my calves started to cramp. Had 20 oz of Gatorade left and about 40 oz of water. Decided I probably couldn't make it and the safe choice was to bail, either turning back or taking the Boott Spur Cutoff trail down to Tucks and back to Pinkham. Considering that the terrain for the cutoff looked quite steep and a returning hiker I was passing advised against it, I decided to descend the way I'd come up, which was plenty hard. Gulped down the 20 oz of G'ade, which took care of the cramps.

Took my sweet time and a lot of care on the way down, 2:45 hours for 2.5 miles, and a lot of photos - it was an A day for visibility, so we could see all the way to the Bigelows. Gorgeous. The smell of the spruce along the trail was very nice, and the views above tree-line were very nice - nice across Tuckerman to Huntington, Lion Head and the summit, very nice to the Wildcats and Carter Dome, nice the the Mahoosucs and beyond. As to the descent, I slipped twice - it was the day after rain and there were slick spots - small slips. Tweaked my right knee just above the ladder, maybe 0.7 up from Pinkham, but it resolved quickly and no lingering effects. I had no breathing issues - that must be about combination of temp change and low absolute temp.

If I could've arranged a helicopter pick-up, I probably could've made it to Davis Path junction near Boott Spur. More than that would've been pressing it. As such, accepting my best day of elevation climb (about 2350') and absolute elevation attained (about 4375') was easy to do. I'm confident that next time I'll make it, probably via Tuckerman's, provided cooperation from the weather and that mean, big old beauty of a mountain. Some kinda hunk of granite, that thing.

It was beautiful and the sme

Driver8
07-22-2011, 12:01
PS: Footwear - opted for my Merrell Moab Ventilators, which for the height to which I ascended were more than sufficient.

PPS: Will post photos from the trip in my gallery and here. Thanks to all for helpful advice. :)