Former biathlete, current coach….all round nordic enthusiast!

An elite athlete competing in the sport of biathlon: nordic ski racing combined with marksmanship

Monday, July 29, 2013


This past weekend I was able to join the MWSC junior programs on their summer migration to Katahdin. As we did last year, as camped out at the New England Outdoor Center the night before, enjoying the magical sounds of early morning loons and (not enjoying) the lack of quality sleep. The NEOC is a pretty neat spot and if you ever have an opportunity to hit it up, I'd recommend it. The location can't be beat for anything you're planning in the Baxter area. I woke up once during the night for a nature call and when I stepped out of my tent I was shocked to see what the sky looks like in an area with absolutely no light polution. There are so many stars on a clear night...if I hadn't been resting up for a big adventure I probably would have gotten out my camera and played with night shots in an effort to capture what I saw. Now I have to go back! I woke up again shortly before 5 to the sounds of loons going crazy on the lake...there must have been some territorial war going on. The whole MWSC crew got up at 5a.m. for a 5:30 departure from camp and a 6 o'clock start to our hikes. 

This is a topographical map of Katahdin...probably best to enlarge it for viewing (click on it). 

Casey (our newest ODT biathlete at MWSC) and I took a group of two PGs (Mikaela and Maddie) and two juniors (Brendan and Ryan) on an extended hike on Sunday. We started out from Abol Campground and hiked up Abol trail to the Baxter Peak (Katahdin's highest point), hiked out the Knife's edge (a narrow ridge covered in rocks that extends east from Baxter Peak), down the Dudley Trail to Chimney Pond, where we stopped for lunch, up the Cathedral Trail, across the Cathedral Cut-Off trail to the top of Abol Trail and then down off the mountain on the Hunt Trail. Our route, which took us 9 hours (8 hours of actually moving time) to complete was 14.9 miles long. Katahdin is a very rocky mountain so once you're above tree line the going gets really slow because you have to pick and choose your route as you work your way over rocks of ALL sizes....

The ladies are all smiles after claiming the mansion-tent as their own! 

Taking instructions from Amber and Seth before heading out for some swimming and a jog. 

Max-I sat on the bread-Bartley. Oops!

Pre-jog and Swim...

The lake that the NEOC sits on. That's Katahdin in the background. 

The boys jumping around on the dock...

Riley and Caleb take a break on their way up Abol Trail to enjoy the view...

Abol Slide

We climbed the last little bit of the Abol slide with this guy and Maddie was all about his 
"Manly Mustache"

Ryan brought a morph suit with him...

Looking in our intended direction of travel: clouds hide the Knife's Edge. 

And then the clouds lifted a bit...

This was taken partway across the Knife's Edge. There is a steep decent followed immediately by a steep accent known as "The Chimney". We got stuck in The Chimney for a bit waiting for a group of French-Canadians to come down in the opposite direction. 

Looking back after completing the Knife's Edge.

Looking back across the mountain from our decent down the Dudley Trail...

We came across this rock on our way down Dudley's Mikaela absolutely in her element. 

Our lunch spot at the bottom of the Katahdin bowl on the edge of Chimney Pond. I 

I have no more pictures from the remainder of our hike. At lunch we were about 5 hours into our adventure and we had another accent immediately ahead of us on Cathedral trail, followed by the decent down the Hunt Trail. After descending the Dudley Trail most of us had pretty sore knees and were getting pretty tired. Cathedral was a test of concentration while we waited for lunch to kick in and make us feel better. Brendan and Ryan, our two junior team hikers were in for a bigger workout/OD than I think they had anticipated. Both had been psyched at the opportunity to join us ODT/PG teamers on a longer/faster hike, but none of us quite planned on nine hours of trail time (and we weren't exactly hiking slowly). 

From Chimney Pond (our lunch spot) it took us another four hours to reach the car. It was interesting to watch both Ryan and Brendan pass through different mental phases of dealing with a much longer workout. At one point I was composing this blog post out loud and Brendan said that I would probably mention him being "a whiny little b%$#h". Honestly Brendan, you weren't too bad and I did truly enjoy watching you work through your frustrations and make a success of the day! Their phases went something like: "Why did I join the long very, very stupid of me," to "This is NOT what they said it was going to be like," to "I just don't care anymore," to "I just got water! I LOVE water," to "Will is going to use this against me....every time I say I'm tired he'll say "but you hiked Katahdin TWICE"". And when minds wandered truly too far and started to get depressed at the 5+ miles still ahead of us seven hours into our hike, we reminded each other to toughen up occasionally by saying WWWSS? (What would Will Sweetser Say?....he'd say HTFU: Harden The F*%K Up.) We definitely had some interesting conversations in that last three hours and I believe that someone's phone holds a video of our delirium someplace on the side of Cathedral Trail....hopefully that video stayed locked in the confines that phone. Forever. 

Until next time Katahdin...maybe three times up in one day will be the charm!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Canadian Escapades...

The last few weeks have been really busy here in Aroostook County and I've collected a bunch of pictures so I thought I should share....

Two weeks ago Seth's mom came up to visit us in Fort Kent so we took her on a little tour of our favorite places including the Botanical Gardens in New Brunswick. They have a butterfly house that is just teeming with amazing butterflies. For some reason they really liked landing on Seth. The picture below is taken inside their hatching house...pretty neat to watch them unfold right in front of you!

They have really extensive gardens outside but unfortunately they weren't in full bloom yet. This pond was full of frogs....

Some pretty flowers...

They have an herb and medicinal plants building for seminars that was really cool and had the most amazing kitchen in it. In the picture on the left you can see the herbalist showing Seth the drying closet where they store fresh cuttings to dry out for use. 

Last Saturday was my birthday...this was the sunset that evening. 

Shortly after sunset the power went out so we ate cheesecake and played cards by candle light. 

Maddie, Mikaela, Brian, and (br)Omar taking in the view from the top of a Monadnock island. 
Last Sunday the ODT and PG teamers who are currently in the County took a trip across the border to Kamouraska, QC to train on some gorgeous trails along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The views were spectacular and the weather couldn't have been any more perfect. 

Taking a break to enjoy the scenery...

Maddie and Mikaela

Hilary pausing on the steep (and maybe slightly sketchy) stairs...

Afterwards Will set us up with an amazing (and very European-feeling) picnic lunch at a small brewery just down the road. The place was very rustic but their porch was the perfect place to enjoy the sun and stuff ourselves with locally smoked meats, freshly harvested sea greens, and veggies. 

Not a bad view....

The brewery and it's garden pond critters...

Their smokehouse...

Afterwards we drove a few short miles down the road to another mini brewery...this one closer to the shore but with a much more modern and polished feel to it.

Again, the view leaves little to be desired. 

After our brewery touring ended Seth and I struck off on our own up to Riviere du Loop where we spent the evening with another picnic meal by the water. 

Cheese, sausage, crackers and grapes. 

Of course Seth had to make sure his rock tower was bigger. And of course he tried to knock mine over. 

Sunset over the northern shore of the St. Lawrence

Tomorrow I'm headed down to Millinocket, ME for my next adventure: hiking Katahdin with a whole crew of athletes, junior athletes, and a few parents from MWSC.
Check back soon for pictures!