Date completed: 12/12/2021
Home base: Enfield, CT
-1/23/2021: 2.7 miles on the Mattabesett section from Bluff Head to the West Jct with the Lone Pine Trail
-4/27/2021: 6.2 miles from CT 168 to the floating boardwalk and back
-5/1/2021: 7 miles from CT 20 to Suffield Mt and back
-7/10/2021: 7.7 miles from Footit Rd to Jct with Guiffridaa Park Red Trail; then from Jct with Yellow trail back to Footit Rd via Lamentation Mt and Chauncey Peak
-8/8/2021: 3.7 miles from Giuffrida Park to Jct with Red Trail; then from Jct with Yellow trail back to Giuffrida
-9/6/2021: 2.5 miles along Mt Higby ridge (out and back)
-9/6/2021: 1.6 miles along Hartford Reservoir 6
-9/10/2021: 24.7 miles from CT 147 to Jct with the Hubbard Park White Trail
-9/19/2021: 5.5 miles on MA section 7
-9/26/2021: 5.7 miles from MA 141 to Mt Tom ridge and back
-10/22/2021: 3.2 miles out and back along Hartford Reservoir 6
-11/6/2021: 3.2 miles out and back along Hartford Reservoir 6
-11/7/2021: 3.6 miles from Albany Ave and along Hartford Reservoir 6 and back
-11/10/2021: 3.2 miles out and back along Hartford Reservoir 6
-11/17/2021: 3.2 miles out and back along Hartford Reservoir 6
-11/20/2021: 6.4 miles from Albany Ave to Hublein Tower and back
-11/28/2021: 6.5 miles from Albany Ave to South Jct with the Talcott Mt Bypass; then from the North Jct with the Bypass trail to the Hublein Tower and back to Albany Ave
-12/3/2021: 5.4 miles from Albany Ave out and back along Hartford Reservoir 6; then south along the dike and up to the ridge and back
TOTAL: 102 Miles
This was my third year participating in the 100 mile challenge and easily my most challenging attempt. I’ve always appreciated this challenge as a way to motivate myself to stay in shape and push my physical capabilities, with this year’s attempt being no exception. This time, however, I found myself facing multiple hurtles to get all of the miles done, which really put my dedication to this challenge to the test.
I got a slow start to the challenge at the beginning of the year. In 2020, I put in over 120 miles on the NET, so admittedly, I was more interested in exploring sections of the Appalachian Trail and other trails on the CT Blue Blazed Trail system at the time. As spring came around though, I started chipping away at a few miles each week after work, and by summer, I had gotten back to using the trail on weekends to train for hiking the 4000 footers in New Hampshire.
By early September, however, I was disappointed to find that I had only accrued a bit over 30 miles on the NET for the year. Unsure of how much time I would have to hike during the fall, I decided to take a day off of work to attempt a big hike to at least hit the 50 mile mark. The route I settled on was the stretch from CT 147 to Hubbard Park, a rugged 25 mile stretch along some of CT’s most spectacular ridgelines including Mt Higby, Chauncey Peak, Lamentation Mt, and the Hanging Hills. This proved a very difficult physical and mental challenge for me, but the sense of adventure I experienced while looking out from the ridgelines at where I was heading, and the sense of accomplishment I felt as I looked back at places I’d already been earlier in the day, was a magnificent feeling. This ended up being my longest day hike to date, and I ultimately did reach the 50 mile mark for the challenge, something that I truly felt good about.
The year then took a turn for the worse shortly after my 25 mile NET adventure. I hadn’t quite lost hope of completing the 100 mile challenge, so the very next weekend, I set off to the Holyoke Range to attempt MA Section 7 and 8. I started on Old Mountain Rd at the beginning of Section 7 and enjoyed the rugged and steep climb to the Summit House, but I struggled as the trail continued across the roller coaster that is the Seven Sisters towards the Notch. As I made my slow traverse, I noticed a throbbing pain in my right knee that seemed to be getting progressively worse the further I went. Disappointed, I had no choice but to call it a day at the Notch Visitor Center and hope the knee issue resolved itself.
The following weekend, with no knee pain present after a week of rest, I decided to get some miles along Mt Tom on a gorgeous late September afternoon. All seemed well until I had made my way up to the top of the cliffs, when I began experiencing terrible pain in my knee again. I felt disappointed, knowing that I had been pushing myself too hard for weeks, and as a result, was not going to be able to hike for a while, making all hope of getting the 100 miles seem lost.
While I never found out what exactly was wrong with the knee, I was reassured it was not terribly serious and would be treatable with physical therapy over time. It was, however, painful enough to keep me from being able to handle any hiking with elevation or long distance. Luckily, the NET traverses a long and flat stretch along Hartford Reservoir 6, and I realized that with enough out and back hikes along this section, I could still reach 100 miles by year end. I was incredibly thankful for this, as it kept me motivated and with a continued sense purpose throughout October and November. It was not at all easy though. I frequently found myself frustrated that I was bounded to 3 or 4 miles at a time while I had been consistently hiking 10 to 20 miles all year long up until this point.
I continued to be diligent about putting in the miles each week though, continued to see physical improvement, and on December 3rd, I had reach 100 miles on the NET. Looking back, I am thrilled that despite the setbacks, I still managed to complete this awesome goal, and that through these experiences, I have takeaways that I can use to continue to better myself as a hiker for the rest of my life. As I look to 2022, I am excited for more incredible adventures that I am sure to have on this trail.