Hello, I am looking for advice for training for the 16mi pulk into Mt. Katahdin's chimney pond campground. As there is limited snow in the northeast of late I was wondering if anyone has any tips and tricks for no snow training. The 16mi pulk in is new territory for me whereas the skiing/mountaineering part is not. I do not have access to a gym due to covid and I live in a fairly flat area in south eastern NH, USA.
The trip is in early march and I am in mediocre shape. Could I do the trip right now and suffer through it, sure, but I do not want to put any extra stress/risk on the trip as it will be a first mountaineering trip for two other members of the trip.
Also, if anyone has done the trip before I am trying to get a grasp on how long the 12mi to Roaring Brook and the following 4mi to CP approximately takes.
You need to do some snow camping to figure it out. Even camping in your backyard will help you. Spend a weekend hiking around on snowshoes (or skis), camping overnight, and hiking around the next day in the snow.
I haven't done it, but 16mi with a full load is a full day, even on skis and with a sled instead of a backpack. I'd be happy to average 2mph for the road section, that's six hours, and the next 4mi will be a little slower as the trail is not as easy. So 8 or 9 hours is a reasonable guess, but your plan should allow for 10 or more. As trudges go, though, it should be straightforward. The road is wide and fairly flat, and the trail is quite reasonable too, and you are likely to have firm snow thanks to many skiers and snowmobiles. In March you'll have tons of daylight, but get an early start anyway.
There are various traditional ways of training for pulking on dry land - the obvious one is simply to set up your pulk (with an old sled you don't care about damaging, or a slab of plywood) and go for a walk. You want to get a little practice controlling the sled at various slope angles. For pure strength training, the old stand-by is to harness yourself to an old truck tire and drag that around. However, it's all a bit different when you're on skis. But don't worry, it will snow soon. As SLR says, winter camping is a bit different from summer camping. You want some practice in everything from staking your tent to keeping your sleeping bag dry to lighting a stove in extreme cold. I was assuming your previous mountaineering experience included all of that, but even if it does, it doesn't hurt to put all your gear through a backyard shake-down or two prior to any expedition.
I did this as a 5 day trip 8 years ago with several friends for the purpose of ice climbing and traversing Pamola and Katahdin via the Knife Edge. You definitely want to at least get some cardio training in as the first 12 miles to Roaring Brook is up and down, but slightly increasing elevation on a wide surface (road). The last 3 miles are much steeper grade. We found this to be the most difficult section especially on the way out while trying to keep our pulks controlled and not crashing. Most of us ended up bailing on skiing the last mile or so down from Chimney Pond to Roaring Brook and just walked down that section, then got the skis back on for the remaining 12 miles out.
The way in is definitely a full day with an option to camp at Roaring Brook the first night and doing the last 3 miles the next morning (half of our group did that). The way out was about half a day as you are almost steadily descending except for a few rolling hills on the last 12 miles.
Hopefully there will be enough snow for you. It is definitely a worthwhile adventure. Best of luck!