Executive summary of what I've been up to the past few months:
September: Spent a week in Utah and Idaho climbing their high points, Kings and Borah, both nice peaks, a bit of fun scrambling on Borah's Chicken Out Ridge. A few days later flew to Minneapolis on a work trip (why yes, I DID visit the Mall of America) and squeezed in a drive waaay up north to hike Eagle Mountain, MN's HP. (Four to go now!) From there it was on to Vermont for a couple of weeks to visit family & friends amidst the fabulous annual foliage display and where, on a bit of a whim, I decided to do my favorite 50 miler, the VT50, for the 13th time. Considering the lack of real training, I was happy enough to eke out a 9:19, good enough for 5th woman and first master chick. This was my one and only ultra race of 2008!
October: A few days on either end of a work trip to Gallup, New Mexico allowed us to visit the Grand Canyon, where I did my second R2R2R run, also the spectacular Canyon de Chelly and Petrified Forest National Park of northeastern Arizona. Canyon de Chelly is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited, kind of like Zion National Park but with only a tiny fraction of the tourists. With the exception of one trail, because it is on Navajo land, visitors must be accompanied by a guide in order to enter the canyon. Otherwise, they are relegated to the rim overlooks, which are nothing less than stunning. It was fun trying to pick out the various cliff dwellings with the aid of binoculars. We visited every single overlook! Gallup had some fine running & hiking trails (Gallop? who knew??), including Pyramid & Church Rocks, the High Desert Trails system, and an area a few miles outside of town known as McGaffey, with excellent singletrack and signed junctions. A special treat was spending the weekend in Silverton, Colorado, and getting in some great hikes/runs, both on and off the Hardrock course. We were treated to sightings of a fox at Island Lake and a bald eagle near the Continental Divide at Highland Mary Lakes!
November: Finally climbed Telescope and Wildrose Peaks, along with Corkscrew and Towne Pass Peaks, on a weeklong trip to Death Valley. My appreciation and fondness for Death Valley grow with each visit. It really is a spectacular place. I loved the trail to Telescope Peak (very runnable!), and stargazing/car camping in the Honda Element was the balls. :)
December: Back to Vermont for the holidays, where we were treated to snowstorms, ice, rain, subzero temps, an ice-encrusted car, layers upon layers of clothing, boots... criminelly! All the conditions that reminded me why a mediterranean climate--that would be southern California--is such a treat in wintertime. The trip was a good one, though: spent my b'day cross country skiing for the first time in about 3 years (I LOVE to ski!) and climbed/snowshoed/cramponed up some of my old New Hampshire 4000 footers.
January: Back to CA, on the way finishing off the Ouachita Trail in Arkansas. This was the trail I attempted to thru-hike/backpack last March but got weathered out in a freak snowstorm on Day #3 after completing only 50 of the 222 miles, basically the Oklahoma portion (yes, OK really does have mountains). Huge thanks to Chris, I was able to "run" the remaining 170 miles of the trail to Little Rock carrying only a light pack, doing a relatively easy 30-35 miles/day, none of it in the dark. With one planned 30-mile day to go, a nasty bout with food poisoning--I think from peanut butter crackers... grr!--slowed my progress to a 20, then a 10 miler. But hey, now I know I can fast walk 20 miles on one 20 oz. bottle of plain water, one gel, and one popsicle. (O_O) The OT is a lightly used, "wildernessy" long-distance trail. I saw only one backpacker and a handful of dayhikers in the 6 days I was out there. Curiously, there is also very little wildlife--few squirrels even. I did almost step on an armadillo, and we saw a bobcat one day. Arkansas has some great trails; I want to do the Ozark Highlands Trail (165 miles) one of these days as well.
February: Work trip to San Francisco, with runs in the Marin Headlands, including a Double Dipsea, after finally locating The stairs in Mill Valley. :) Also ran in the Presidio and Golden Gate Parks and across the Golden Gate Bridge. (Yes, I am a touron.) What a fun city! A few days later we were in Austin, Texas, on another work trip running around Lady Bird Lake with hundreds of Austinites. Alas, no Lance/McConaughey sightings. Probably could've been a bit more creative with dining, but got sort of infatuated with Whole Foods--THE Whole Foods of Whole Foods--they are headquartered in Austin. Yum-O! Which brings us to...
March: Uncharacteristically spent the past 5 weeks back in Ventura County, first and foremost helping to prepare for and execute Chris's Coyote Two Moon. For whatever reason, it seemed as though this year's events required a lot more energy... and there seemed to be more rooms in the house filled with C2M stuff--shirts, jackets, hats, "prizes," etc. But in the end, this year's events appeared to run more smoothly than last. The start/finish at Ojai's Thacher School worked out better, the pre-and post-race meals (mimosa anyone?) were very good, and C2M has the absolute BEST group of volunteers an RD could ever hope for. Shameless plug: C2M is a truly unique ultrarunning venue, with events spanning 6 days, including mini-golf, bowling, "talent" night, BBQ, beer drinking, and runs in Pt. Mugu State Park, including one under the full moon. Participation in these pre-run events, along with sucking up to the RD, and/or generally being a nice person, is rewarded with "bonus minutes" which are subtracted from the run time. If a runner acts like a bonehead, is rude, or bull$hits the RD or volunteers, they get "boner minutes" which are added to their run time. (As a result of this juggling of numbers, some of the more serious or competitive runners may have a harder time with this concept.) Also unique to C2M is the staggered start, whereby the slower runners get to start first--and get first dibs on the all the aid station goodies!--the idea being that runners get to see more people toward the end of the event and everyone finishes "together" within a 4-hour window, in time for Sunday brunch and previously mentioned mimosas. :) Finally, entrants can expect to receive numerous pre-event emails from the RD, virtual "novellas", as one disgruntled, "serious" runner labeled them. It's all part of this one-of-a-kind event! If you're a fun-loving, open-minded sort of ultrarunner in search of a kick-ass 100 miler with 28,000+ ft. of elevation gain (19,000 for the 100km) for 2010, check out the website here . BTW, one of the best C2M "reports" I've read--possibly my favorite race report ever--is here, 13th post. Look for a bunch of emoticons. ;-)
That brings this blog up to date, sort of. I stopped blogging in September mostly because I wanted to spend less time online and had always had issues with the quasi (is that the right word?) narcissism of blogging. However (!)... I am getting SO bad about emailing and keeping in touch with folks, AND have had many people ask about it and tell me they enjoyed reading my blog (hey, you guys need to get a life! Heehee), so here's at it once more...!!