Monday, July 30, 2012

Rainier - More to Come

I'm going to work on a full write-up this week of our Rainier trip last week.  Until then...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mount Rainier Expedition - Beginning

I leave with Elizabeth tomorrow morning to make an attempt to summit Mount Rainier next Wednesday.  I'm excited to get back up in the Pacific Northwest. I haven't been in over six years.  

Excitement is the watchword.

I'll be back in the WYO in nine days.

I didn't take this picture.  I stole it from the interwebs.  I have no idea from where.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy Jack Endurance Races

The inaugural edition of an old classic, the Happy Jack Endurance Races, 24-hour, 12-hour, 6-hour, and 100-mile, brought an incredible experience for all participants and volunteers alike.  From crazy weather, to numerous wild animal sightings (some real, some fantasy), to injuries and physical and mental challenges, this event, brought to you courtesy of Journeyman Adventures, brought the goods.  In so many ways.

Alec and crew set up base camp Friday night for the Saturday morning start.  While they were hanging out that evening, a black bear moseyed down the trail next to camp.  Word of this would continually freak runners out (and convince them they were seeing bears on every lap) for the entire weekend.  Other notable wildlife sightings included several moose, deer, a supposed elk, a goshawk, and crazy runners.

Anxious for the start.  Photo by Wendy Perkins.

The races began Saturday morning in overcast, humid weather, with rain threatening.  After many weeks of record high temperatures, resulting in the combustion of forests all over the region, we were finally blessed with cooler temps and much needed rain.  While these conditions proved challenging, no one complained.  Everyone, I believe, was thankful to have any relief from the heat and flames.

Photo by Wendy Perkins.
Sam was the race's first casualty.  Elizabeth was excited to put her Wilderness First Responder/First Aid training to good use.  Everyone else is laughing at Sam for taking a digger in the first mile of the race.  Sam got the last laugh when he put in 36 miles.  Photo by Wendy Perkins.

I helped haul in supplies for the aid station in the morning, then hung out at base camp for a bit before I went home to nap a little before the 6pm start of the 6-hour race.  Around a quarter to four, it began to rain so hard in town that the sound of the rain drops pounding my roof woke me up from a pretty deep sleep.  I looked outside and realized my approach to the race would have to change.  I packed several changes of clothes and my rain jacket.  It was going to be a wet one, and with the temps falling (it was around 50 degrees when I started running), staying dry and warm was going to be an issue.

I got back up the hill and we started the six hours of ordeal.  I wanted to see if I could get a six-mile lap in per hour.  This depended on me not dilly-dallying at the aid stations and on how my hip would hold up.  While the hip has been doing quite a bit better, it isn't 100% and up until the race, I had only put, at longest, nine miles on it at once.

The first lap went by in a flash, though I did take a wrong turn and get off course.  The crew made fun of me for getting lost on my own trails, to which I responded, "I wasn't lost.  I knew exactly where I was.  It just wasn't where I was supposed to be."  Once I actually learned the course, things were pretty smooth.

Done with lap one.  Photo by Cassandra Driver.

I finished lap one in just over 49 minutes, which is right where I wanted to be.  I grabbed a bite and refilled my water bottle and was back out.  I felt the even-numbered laps were more difficult because we went up Pole Creek, down Haunted Forest, and up to base camp.  Odd numbered laps had the reverse, two downhills to one uphill.

Lap two also went by in 49 minutes, but I spent a little longer at base camp since I decided I needed to change clothes.  Elizabeth looked at me and asked, "Are you cold?"  I asked her, "Do I look cold?"  She shot back, "Yes!"  So I changed, and man was it nice to have on a dry shirt.

Lap three slowed me down a little since I started walking up Haunted Forest.  I also spent several minutes at the aid station talking with Alec (who had gone out on course to put up glowsticks) about the conditions of the trails given the constant downpour.  With darkness coming on, and with Haunted Forest becoming a treacherous mess of slick mud, Alec decided that if people wanted to run in one direction up that trail, then they could.  He didn't want people going down it and slipping and getting hurt.  

Trail?  Looks more like a creek.  Photo by Wendy Perkins.

I finished the third lap in 55 minutes.  I spent a little longer at base camp because, after 18 miles, I was getting a little tired.  I was having trouble getting enough water in me, since with the rain and cool temps, I didn't feel the need to drink as much as I should, and I was getting very hungry.  I was putting down over 200 calories per lap, but when I saw the pizza there at base camp, I just had to have a piece.  And so I began lap four with a slice of pepperoni in my hand.

Lap four would be the end for me.  I made it down Pole Creek to the creek crossing with no trouble, but as I started up Haunted Forest again, my hip finally gave up the ghost.  And when it went, it went completely.  I was getting little to no lift from it.  I walked up Haunted Forest, stretched at the aid station, and decided to do what jogging I could back to base camp where I could drop out.  That fourth lap took me nearly 75 minutes.  I got back to base camp and told Alec I was done.  I had covered 24 miles in pretty crappy conditions in 4:03 (that includes time spent at aid stations).  My hip gave me 20 really good miles and four really crappy ones.  Oh well, it's always nice to know where the limit is, and 20 miles, at this point in time, is a pretty good limit.  As it turns out, I won the race by default since no one else went out for another lap.  So, since I completed four laps the quickest, I was deemed the winner.  I feel bad about winning a six-hour race when I only ran four hours.

I think the amazing thing about races like this is the generosity that is present with everyone involved.  Elizabeth was blown away.  "I just can't get over how nice and encouraging everyone is."  Something about ultras brings out the best in people, even when some are in the depths of despair about how far they have to go and how hard it's going to be.  Sometimes all you need is someone to get you a bowl of soup and you're right back in it.  It was a great, well-executed event attended by incredible people.  An amazing experience not soon forgotten.  Here's looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I've been trying to just be outside, out-and-a-bout, on the move, etc.  This summer, be it the heat, lack of rain, fire everywhere, smoke inhalation, whatever, is making me itch to go places, see things, drink beers in awesome locales, climb mountains, run trails, crash my bicicleta, get sunburned, bug bit, not shower for days on end, be a dirtbag, not wear shoes, take gigs worth of photos, write again, read in the shade, be inspired by others, love a woman, camp, drive across the country, breathe air, be happy.  Lot of hippie drivel, but my mind is wandering and lusting and running a thousand miles an hour.  There is all this before me, why not partake?

With that, I'm shifting away from the basics of outlined training since it's not something I find particularly interesting or satisfying at the moment, and moving more toward being outside with a little bit of focus.  I'll continue to keep track of general mileage since my compulsive side finds that hard to let go, but I'm not going to concern myself with specified training for this or that.  I just want to be outside, running, hiking, climbing, biking, what have you.  

With that, here are some pictures from recent good times.  I've been through four states (WY, CO, UT, AZ), two national parks (Grand Canyon and Zion), several national forests (Roosevelt, Medicine Bow-Routt, Arapaho, White River, Manti-La Sal, Fishlake, and Kaibab) seen great friends get married, enjoyed the company of old friends and new friends, been developing a great relationship, and am planning and looking forward to other adventures the rest of the summer and year.  If the world doesn't completely incinerate.

Rawah Wilderness, Colorado.
Blue Lake, Rawah Wilderness.
Awesome hiking buddy.
Laramie River, Rawah Wilderness.  Photo by Elizabeth Spaulding.
Unaweep Canyon and the Dolores River, Colorado.
Monument Valley, UT/AZ.
Marble Canyon and the Colorado River.
Colorado River.

Camping in the Manti-La Sal Forest, UT.
La Sal Range.
Grand Canyon, North Rim.
Gabe and Lunde enjoying the view.
Messing with Lunde.  Photo by Tanya Musgrave Kelley.
Grand Canyon from Cape Royal.

Wyoming alumni (L to R) Scott, Jacob, Gabe, Ryan J., Bret, Ryan L., me, Tami .  Photo by Tanya Musgrave Kelley.
Bret, me, Lunde.  Photo by Tanya Musgrave Kelley.
The Waldrons, Jannel and Bret.  Photo by Tanya Musgrave Kelley.
Gabe and I recreate Forrest Gump.  Photo by Ryan Lunde.