Hiking Doesn’t Always Include a View – Part 1

Mansfield UpA few weeks ago, my plans were all over the place.  I finally had it nailed down, or so I thought, and then I had to change them again.  The weekend turned out to be a fantastic time with friends, old and new; we climbed a few mountains, ate good food, played with puppies, and drank good cider.

Dinner at The Bench in Stowe was incredible.  A must go if you are in the area. Roasted half duck, gluten free wood-fired pizza, sandwiches, poutine, beer, and cider! It was the perfect way to start off the weekend.  Thanks Ryan and Tess! I look forward to stuffing my face here after The North Face Race to the Top of Vermont.

A night of new faces, fire, and drinks, it wasn’t long till everyone was passed out. I got up as almost everyone was getting ready but since I was hungover, I wasn’t ready yet to go hiking.  A nap in my new Lamzac was called for especially since I figured out how to get some air in it! Watching Ryan try to fill it while drunk the night before was hilarious but netted zero results. I woke to the sound of my picture being taken.

Sleepy Hannah

Sleeping like a baby… or like I’m hungover… same difference

It wasn’t long before we were driving up through Smugglers Notch looking for the trail head to Hell Brook Trail.  I forgot just how beautiful this area is.  While getting ready, I realized I had made a grave error when packing my gear! I had a long sleeve with me, but my shell to put on at the summit was no where to be found.  Apparently I had left it on my kitchen table.  Whoops! Don’t be like me, pack your shell.

Mansfield Up 2

Long sleeve was ditched long ago.

We started to climb.  I knew by looking at the map we were pretty much going straight up the side of the mountain making it a short and steep climb.  I read the guidebooks after the fact.

Hellbrook Trail Sign

They weren’t kidding on the straight down! It is also straight up.

This is a very advanced trail, they don’t suggest downclimbing it, they don’t suggest climbing it with dogs.  We did both, on a rainy day.  The trail was technical and challenging but beautiful.


Mansfield Puppies

King Tuckerman and Cayenne the Boss

The summit was socked in, there was no view to speak of, save for the 5 seconds the clouds parted while we were on the Adams Apple and we could see Mansfield.  The wind was whipping.  We didn’t last very long before it was time to head back down the mountain. I was cold!

Mansfield Summit

How often can you say YOU were in a cloud?

The climb down was easier over all.  I could simply sit on my butt and slide when I needed too.   I consider it a win that the one location that is a real scramble, with a bolted in steel bar for assistance, that I didn’t cry when I went over it.

Mansfield Puppies and Caves

Caves.  I kinda wanted to just hang out in them! 

The trail was beautiful.  One I highly recommend.  Even if it is challenging.  There were waterfalls, caves, climbing, and on a clear day there are even views from the top.

Mansfield Waterfalls

One of the waterfalls along the trail. This is closer to the trailhead.

* All photos courtesy of Ryan Trott.

Infinitus 2016

We all have our favorite events for one reason or another.  One of mine is just over the mountain from me, tucked away in Goshen, Vermont.  Infinitus is put on by The Endurance Society and is billed as a rugged trail race (registration is now open for 2017).  Rugged is putting it mildly with distances raging from 8k to 888k.  Yes, you read that right, 888k or 551.8 miles.  I was signed up for the 48 hour option, my goal to beat my mileage of 26 from the previous year.  Many had a goal of 100 miles in order to earn a belt buckle as is customary at 100 Mile Ultras.  Anyway, the rugged miles are only a part of what makes this one of my favorite races.  It is like a family reunion, people I only get to see once or twice a year.  These people have amazing hearts, incredible grit, and unbelievable courage.

When I showed up on Thursday evening to get ready for my 48 hour challenge, the 888k runners had been going for 7 days at this point, the 72 hours had started that morning.  There was an energy in their air that wouldn’t be dampened by the oppressive heat.

Camp was set, hellos were said, hugs were shared, and it was time for food with Ryan, Yitzy, Boh, Stephen, and two others before getting some much-needed sleep.   Morning came way too fast and as base camp buzzed to life and we were all giddy with anticipation, or trepidation, I am still not sure which!  Andy Weinberg, one of the race directors, asked me if I was racing every time he saw me because I didn’t put on my shoes until the last-minute.   The answer was always the same, yes Andy, I am racing!

I had no plans to stay with anyone, no formula on how to achieve the most miles, I was simply going to go until I couldn’t anymore.  I wanted more than I got the previous year (26 miles) and I wanted at least one of my loops to be in the dark.  As we were lining up, I chatted with Devin, Jessica, Amy, and Amy, and we all kind of state we would stay together as best as possible.


The best view on the 7 mile loop. Scott, Hannah, Amy, Amy, Jessica, Devin

The canon sounded and we were off, running, way too fast.  Not a pace I could keep happily.  Luckily it wasn’t long until we were across the road and into the woods facing the first of many climbs and we all slowed to a crawl.

clown day

Might as well kiss the creepy stuff, clowns and all.

It wasn’t terribly long before we started encountering the creepy things that Andy and Jack, although I firmly believe this is more Jack than Andy, like to place on the trail to entertain us.


Selfies with a creepy kitty.

Many shenanigans ensued as we took photos with the creatures and paraphernalia we encountered.


Just a quick break!

Up and up, down and down, and it before we knew it we were finishing the 7 mile loop.

End of 7 Mile Lap Jump

Jumping for joy!

I succeeded in hiking up with little to no rest, running the downhills, and despite the shenanigans was pretty happy with my time.

End of 7 Mile Lap with Amy

7 mile loop is finished!

In base camp, we were to refill our packs, check out feet, and we had hoped to be back out on course within 20 minutes.  It was closer to an hour.  This MUST change for next year.  Too long.

Time to tackle the 20 mile loop.

group 20 miler

20 mile loop.

This was going to differ from the previous year and was, from what we had heard, nowhere near as sad.  The bugs were not as bad, the mud was much drier, and while longer, it wasn’t as miserable.  We were about to find out.

creepy 2

Always kiss the creepy things! It somehow makes it less creepy.

More walk/hike/run.

creepy 3

More creepy things.  

We saw a bear flank!  Water station 1 and we all took a quick break refueling, refilling, reapplying.  About mile 9 of this loop, I roll my ankle.  It sucked!  I stand off of it for a few, start hobbling along, and then seem back to normal.  No view at the top. More hiking up, more running down. No mini rolls but as the miles truck on, I can tell that I am compensating, that my gait is changing.


Contemplating what I have done and what I still must do.

After a really long run down to the 2nd water station, our group has gotten separated at this point, I am starting to hurt.  Jack is arriving to drop off ice, we chat for a few, he takes off, I wait a few minutes as a I see two of my group approaching, but I don’t wait for them after a quick hello.

The sign says that we have 6.5 miles to the end of the loop.  I continue my walk/hike/run method, I start to cry because my body hurts.  I come up on another racer who is clearly hurting, I try to get him to move with me but he says I am moving much faster.  I move on.  My cry turns to sobs as my body hurts but I eat some food, take a quick break, and then pull up my big girl panties and take off down the trail.  I am good, I’ve got this.


These reminded me of you, Mom. Pretty pink Wild Columbine.

Time passes and I see some pretty pink flowers that make me think of my mom.  She used to take close-ups of flowers when she hiked.  I stop to photograph them and lose it.  I sit down, I cry, I scream, I talk to my mom.  For the second time, I stand up, pull up my big girl panties and take off down the trail.


One more break at the dam, more food, a few minutes to take in the beauty, and time to finish this lap. 

Ahead of me I see where the 20 mile loop and 7 mile loop come together.  I know I only have about 2-2.5 miles to go.  I breathe a sigh of relief and feel the tears coming again.  At that moment, I spot a runner just coming into view where the trails merge and before I can open my mouth, Ryan calls out.  He is just finishing his second 7 mile loop.  We walk together, chatting, I expect him to take off at any minute but he doesn’t.  We finish the loop.  I didn’t cry again.

in between laps

Little muscle release to get Ryan back out on the 20 miler.

Back at base camp, Ryan, Yitzy, Mike, and some others are getting food and gearing up to go back out.  I know that I need to rest my ankle and reevaluate.  I have done 27 miles.  I visit, I help the boys get ready to go back out, I contemplate.  I want more than I did last year, so that means a 7 mile loop.  I want a night lap which means I need to wait a bit.  Do I go out tonight or do I shower and get some rest.  After rolling my ankle, I don’t know if the 20 mile loop again will be a smart decision.  Back and forth I go.  Eventually, I decide a shower and sleep is my best option.  I can hang out all day, rest my ankle, and get a night lap on the 7 mile loop.  I won’t have enough time to attempt the 20 mile loop.  If I did the 7 mile loop that night, I might just attempt the 20 mile loop again, which would not have been wise.

I crawl into bed and get a text from Ryan, “vomiting,” so after a little back and forth and finally no response, I guess he is out of service and head out to greet the pack at the 2nd aid station.  Several people come back with me, they are done, others continue on.  Daylight brings a new day and I am the only one planning to go back out.

The 8k, marathon, and 88k runners are arriving, there is more hugs, hellos, and great energy.  Before we know it they are off.  The rest of us are hanging out under the tent, recovery care, ciders, cheering of the runners.  We are getting ready to go for food, snagging Orla to go with us.


It was HOT. Refilling the ice.

More time hanging out under the tent, more recovery, more ciders, more cheering.  We made many new friends, Dani is just up the road from me in Waterbury! The day was simply fantastic and before I knew it, it was time for me to start getting ready for my final 7 miles.  I had no plans on who was going with me but it didn’t take more than a few minutes to have Shannon and Jamie ready to go.

final lap

Awesome guys. Jamie and Shannon, I will take you on course with me anyday!

They were content to let me set pace and the only time they were ever ahead of me was during my pee stop.  We climbed and climbed, we ran and ran.  We had a great pace going.  I was a bit worried about how I would feel coming upon the clown in the dark.  I was prepared, it wasn’t as creepy as I feared.

clown night

Creepy clown.

Look, it’s the sign post, look it’s the pond, let’s go! Running across the road and to collect our medals.  Andy was ready and waiting.  Our friends were hanging out on the cool concrete floor of the barn.  None of them were ready for us to walk through the door.  This 7 miles was about 30 minutes faster than my first 7 mile loop.  I am exhausted, knowing that I made the right decision to work my way out of the 20 mile loop because I would have attempted it.

I stay up waiting for friends to finish, worried because of text messages, relief when they are on course, and finally they are in and I can go to bed.

stay puff man

Will Bradly – 888k Racer – As the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man

Morning comes and with it, the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, the winner of the 888k crossing the finish line in one of the creepy masks from the course, more good food, time with friends, and packing up.

Selfie Brook

Till next time! 

7 Sisters 2015 Race Recap

Courtesy of http://7sisterstrailrace.com/
What do you do the day after running 3 laps of an obstacle course race located on the beach, covering approximately 12 miles?  Why you go “run” the 7 Sisters Trail Race of course!
Billed as the “Hardest Up/Down Race” by Runners World Magazine on their America’s Best Trail Races list.  With a cutoff time of 12:00 for the turnaround.  Whelp, make that 11:30!  Apparently I missed the posts on their Facebook page about the change in cutoff.  What was already going to be a challenge, I had been freaking out for days about now making the cutoff, and I just lost 30 minutes, was now something I seriously thought I would DNF.
I arrived early with plenty of time to register, use the bathroom, and do what I really love to do: visit with people!  I knew quite a few people running, several who had come out just to spectate the start, and it was a fantastic way to spend the morning.  It wasn’t long before we were lining up, I missed the group photo, and we were off.  It is a matter of yards before the trail takes a turn and we are going UP.  The ups and the downs are no joke.
Up we go.  Photo courtesy of Heather Gannoe
It was hot.  I was sunburned from the day before.  I had a plan to drink every time my Runkeeper spoke to me which was every 15 minutes and every mile.  This worked well.  I would eat something every 1-2 times she spoke to me and ingest a salt tab every hour or so.  I never bonked.  I never stopped sweating.  Despite my legs feeling brutalized, I never actually felt bad.
Top of the first section of the ascent after the cutoff.  I MADE THE CUTOFF!!!

I was really worried about making the cutoff.  Luckily for me, despite saying 11:30, they seemed to have adjusted the cutoff to be 2:30 hours from the time your wave started.  I made it, with mere minutes to spare.  I had just enough time to get some fruit, refill my pack, rinse my hands, and get back on the course.  I never got a photo of the view from the Summit House but it was beautiful.  The volunteer at the top told me if I hurried, I should catch a pair of females who were just ahead of me. That running together keeps you motivated.  So I moved, as fast as I could.  I finally caught up to them!

Heidi, Marie, and Cat.  What amazing people.  I had a great time with them.  Heidi was struggling, so I did what I do best.  I figured out where she was hurting, helped get her moving, rubbed out her butt, and got her to smile.  Marie was moving slowly as she had rolled her ankle, bad enough to slow her down but not so bad she didn’t make the cutoff!  Cat was amazing. Turns out we have mutual friends. After staying with them for quite a while, I had to keep moving as my legs were wanting to tighten up.  I could hear them off and on and when I came in to the last aid station, signaling we had two miles to go, I was able to see them come in.  Heidi, despite her pain, was adamant that she was going to finish.  I had to hug her before moving on again.

The LAST tiny bit of downhill before rounding the corner to the finish!

Luckily they took off not much later and we were able to semi stay together the rest of the race. Coming down the last hill together and seeing the finish line. We all dug deep and gave everything we had left to give.  My friends cheering at the finish and willing to hug my sweaty nasty self was amazing.  Thank you all for the support.  I cannot wait for next year.


My official results! 429. Hannah Hawley, 33, VT 5:51:23 out of 434 finishers, 471 started.

Recovery #chocolatemilk with my 7 Sisters hat.  That pattern? That’s the elevation!

Frigus 2015 Race Recap

10887264_1619465784948111_4202685732232091291_oFor the second time in my life, I let Andy Weinberg talk me into doing a race that I was convinced was beyond my capabilities.
The Endurance Society‘s second event.  Frigus.  A winter race with the options of a 10k, 30k, or 60 snowshoe; 10k, 30k, 60k back-country ski; 5k sled run; and combined, 30k ski, 30k snowshow, 5k sled run.
I wanted to sign up for the 10k snowshoe.  I ended up signing up for the 30k snowshoe.
Taking place at Blueberry Hill Inn in Brandon, Vermont, with packet picket offered Friday evening in addition to Saturday morning.  While a room could be booked at the Inn, it was rather pricey.  They also offered space in the upper loft of the ski lodge where we could drop a sleeping pad and sleeping bag.  We had access to bathrooms and running water and a place to sleep that couldn’t be closer if we tried to the start for $12.  Arriving early meant that time could be spent with other racers and the race directors.  I couldn’t imagine starting the race any other way.
10974727_1627509224143767_5408604746780086258_oWith packet pickup, we were provided with our bib, a t-shirt (reminded me of our NE Spahtens shirts in the male cut) that were unisex size but super soft.  We signed waivers, confirmed our distance and were given the option to change it, and were reminded of our start times.  They had the finishers medals on display, as well as the winners certificates, and the winners Endurance Society etched maple syrup bottles.
A great evening of visiting with friends, a decent nights sleep, and it was morning and the air was buzzing with the energy for the day.  The morning was spent visiting, hugging, feeling nervous about the race!  The temperatures were in the single digits when we started with the highs promised to be in the low twenties.

All the skiers were to start at 7:15, all the snowshoers were to start at 8:15, and the 5k sledders at 9:15.  Andy called out that all heats would be starting on time.  10 minute and 5 minute warnings were given, that a brief meeting was to be held before each heat started and they wouldn’t be waiting if you weren’t there.
10506838_10155223366425357_4869254861594683998_oAndy instructed everyone to get behind the start line for the skiers, a combination of 10k, 30k, 60k, and combined racers.  They were given there briefing and off they went.  An hour later, the snowshoers were given the same.  We had 2 miles of gradual up, 2 miles of steep up.  We would have one aid station at approximately the halfway point.
And we were off.
Neely Fortune, Mathieu Lo, and I decided to stay together, walk the course, have fun, push ourselves to finish.
The first section of the course was for all 3 distances.  At some point the 10k would turn off and we would continue on.  It was incredibly inspiring to watch Mark Webb crutch his way up the hill, taking on the 10k.  I was able to have a glass of wine with Amy Parulis and her father as they were doing a party lap 10k to celebrate his birthday.  I tackled Mathieu, my way of passing along Ilene’s hello.  Got a hug from the fantastic Richard Ricciardi.
The course was beautiful.  Mountains, streams, lakes, snow.  We went uphill, downhill, flats, up and down.  We passed my next home, crossed some bridges, saw some skiers out for a jaunt, snowmobilers, and we were at the aid station.  Greg Tappin was there with a smile and my chocolate milk and gluten free pretzels for me!  While we were there, we were lapped by a 60k skier.  He was flying!
10676158_627406416924_7211098258695582779_nWe were told we were approximately halfway.  On we went.  We would get passed by more 60k snowshoers, Drew lapped us on his way to a 2nd place finish, listened to music, and start to feel our bodies breaking down.  Hip flexors, knees, chafing.
It wasn’t long before the finish line was in sight.  My own personal cheering section was waiting for me.  I hurt.  I wanted to cry. I did it!  I hugged Lisa Klinkenberg, looked at the ground, and laid down.  I was exhausted.  I was given my medal and mustered the energy to stand up and get inside where there was chili and warmth.
10801600_10153062948853903_839463310116814731_nThere was a fire outside to enjoy and racers still on course.  We enjoyed the fire, the sunset, and cheered racers as they came through.  Since the course didn’t close until midnight, there was a bit of time left to wait.  Having been in the back of the pack too many times to count, whenever possible, I like to be there to greet finishers.
We took a trip up to the aid station in hopes of catching friends and cheering them on.  We missed Amanda and Billy, helped out Ryan with encouragement to keep going since if he finished he would be the 2nd place finisher for the combined, cheered on Shannon and Doug, visited with Jane and Ted, and heard from Eric that he hadn’t passed Liza and Jordan.  Worried that they were headed back to base, we headed back ourselves.
The fire needed stoking, racers were finishing, and eventually we got word that Liza and Jordan were still on course and would be finishing close to midnight.  It was an amazing atmosphere.

Overall, The Endurance Society nailed it.  There seemed to be no issues at registration, they didn’t run out of medals, race directors were visible and available.  No one got lost, the event started on time, everything that was promised was delivered.
My Official Results: 8:04:05 for the 30k Snowshoe
Next year: make my first lap faster than this year… and still go out to finish the 60k!!!
I cannot wait for Infinitus!

Stop Hiding Behind Your Comfort Zone

where-magic-happensWe have all heard the saying “Life beings at the end of your comfort zone.” by Neale Donald Walsh.
We all have places we feel comfortable and confident.  We know that we will succeed, even if it takes effort and all that we have, we know we will not fail.  That is our comfort zone.
It’s important to know where your comfort zone is.  To know what your boundaries are.  It is within those boundaries you can relax and reflect.  It should be where you can recharge and reevaluate.
Now comes the hard part.  Step outside of it.  It doesn’t have to be big.  It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mentality.  Find something to push you.  That is where you grow and learn about yourself.  That is where you find yourself.   Don’t like meeting new people?  Introduce yourself to one new person, not a whole group.  Don’t think you can run a 10k?  Sign up and finish, however that happens.
Comfort zones are wonderful.  Reach for growth, step outside of it!

What it takes to be an inspiration.

Just what does it take to inspire someone?Not necessarily as much as you might think.  It will differ for each person.  You might not even realize that you are being an inspiration.  Everything that you do can be inspiring to the right person.

Did you share a recipe that was healthy?  Someone might have seen it and decide that looks good and takes a step to cook a meal at home instead of going out.  Guess what! You just inspired someone.

Did you post a photo of yourself at the gym?  Someone might have seen it and decided they were going to do something active.  Guess what! You just inspired someone.

Did you do something that pushed you outside of your comfort zone?  Did you shout it to the roof tops when you finished?  Someone probably saw it and probably decided to do something else to step outside of their comfort zone.  Guess what! You just inspired someone. 

I know that running a marathon or an ultra marathon is inspiring.  So is running a 5k when you couldn’t run 30 seconds a year ago.   You know what else is inspiring?  Walking a 5k even when you are worried people might be looking at you. 

Anything you do that pushes you is inspiring. Remember that what you are doing could be inspiring someone, just as you are being inspired by others.

Resolutions and Goals

I am not a big New Year’s Resolutionist.  If I set them too quickly, without a lot of thought, they usually aren’t right for the long term and I give up.  If I spend too much time setting them, the year is too far into it and I give up.  Sometimes I set them too hard and challenging, so I give up.  Rarely do I set them too easy but when I do, they are over before I even get the satisfaction of working on them.  Sense a theme here?  I give up on them.
Goals should be in constant evolution as you grow and change.  When you realize there is something you want, figure out how to obtain it and go for it.  Don’t wait for the New Year to start your weight-loss journey, your sub 3:00 marathon, your quest for all the 4,000 footers in NH, the list goes on and on.
So what are you waiting for! Just because New Year’s Day has passed doesn’t mean it is too late or too early to set those goals.  Goals are motivation!
Set your goal.
Set when you want to achieve your goal.
Write down the steps needed to achieve your goal, including mini goals.
Execute your plan.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

One of the meals I have missed since going gluten free has been lasagna.  I haven’t dared try to use a GF noodle to recreate the dish as I don’t always like how the noodles are the next day.  I have found I tend to prefer them fresh and that doesn’t translate well to lasagna.  It got me to thinking about the ways that people use different squashes to replace noodles in other dishes, zucchini, spaghetti squash, etc.  I have often enjoyed a butternut squash lasagna with a white bechamel sauce and thought that would work quite well as a replacement in lasagna.  So I set out to do just that!  It came out amazing and I cannot wait to make it again.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced approximately 1/4 of an inch thick
8 cups Simple Meat Sauce
8oz Shredded Cheese, Italian Blend works nicely
16oz Ricotta
16oz Chopped Frozen Spinach, defrosted and squeezed in a towel to drain excess liquid.
6 cloves of Garlic, mined
2 Eggs
2 TBS Garlic and Herb Seasoning
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, mix the ricotta, spinach, garlic, garlic and herb seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.  Finally mix in the two eggs.

In a large baking dish, 9 x 13, start by laying meat sauce and a single layer of butternut squash, a little overlap is okay.  Layer in half of the ricotta and spinach mixture and top with a third of the shredded cheese.  Repeat with more sauce, squash, the rest of the ricotta and spinach, and another third of the shredded cheese.  Top with the one more layer of squash, more meat sauce, and the rest of the shredded cheese.

Bake for 60 minutes until squash is cooked through and cheese is lightly browned and melty.  Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Simple Meat Sauce

I have been wanting to make a gluten free lasagna for a while, so today was the day.

But first, let me take a selfie!

Okay, just kidding, first I needed to make a meat sauce.  This made more than enough for the lasagna, left me with enough leftovers to make a serving or two of pasta, and enough to make meat sauce poached eggs for breakfast.

Simple Meat Sauce
1 Onion – diced
1 Pepper, any color – diced
2 TBS Butter
20oz Ground Turkey
14oz can Tomato Paste
32oz can Diced Tomatoes
32 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
2 TBS Garlic and Herb Seasoning
Salt and Pepper

Saute the onions and peppers in the butter.  Add the Garlic and Herb Seasoning, continuing to heat until fragrant.  Stir in the three cans of tomato product, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook for at least an hour.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  The longer it cooks, better better it gets.  Enjoy!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Yesterday my friend Lindsay had a Soup Night.  A lovely take on a potluck in which everyone brings a soup to share.  People taste the soups, eat the soups, and then divy up the leftovers into containers to take home!  It was genius and I now have several different types of soup in my freezer for last minute dinners and quick lunches.

As part of the festivities, there was a judging!  Everyone voted for their two favorite soups, and the winner went home with the golden ladle.  It was a close race, the second and third place soups were tied with 4 votes each, but my Cream of Mushroom Soup took home the Golden Ladle with 5 votes!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

10 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 TBS Corn Starch
8-12 sprigs of Thyme, divided
4 TBS Butter
16 ounces White Mushrooms, 8 ounces whole, 8 ounces rough chopped
16 ounces Crimini Mushrooms, 8 ounces whole, 8 ounces rough chopped
1 Shallot, quartered
Olive Oil
Nip of Bourbon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet place the whole mushrooms, shallot, 4 sprigs of thyme, and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-45 minutes, stirring once.  They should be golden in color when done.

In a dutch oven or stock pot, add the milk and remaining thyme (the more thyme the stronger the flavor).  Scald, then simmer lightly for 15 minutes.  Remove the thyme sprigs.

In a pan, melt the butter and add the rest of the mushrooms.  Saute until golden brown, seasoning with salt and pepper.  If the mushrooms give off a lot of liquid, drain into the milk.  Once golden brown, deglaze with the bourbon.

Add the roasted mushrooms and shallots to the milk, including the thyme sprigs.  Give a stir, then remove the thyme stems (this will allow the leaves to fall off into the soup).  Blend.  Stir the corn starch into the heavy cream and then whisk into the soup.

Stir the sauteed mushrooms into the soup, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.