Thursday, December 20, 2007
We are off for the holidays & my b'day -- to Death Valley and the most beautiful place I've ever been...
Yep, Zion National Park! That's a previous photo of me about to traverse Angel's Landing -- love that hike!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Chris and I left the Coast Friday afternoon for Joshua Tree to meet up with my best buddy Al, who was visiting the Desert Southwest from the frozen hinterlands of New Hampshire. He'd already done a Grand Canyon rim-to-river-to-rim as well as a couple of hikes in Death Valley earlier in the week, so Joshua Tree was the obvious meetup spot.
The campgrounds at JT are *awesome,* with tentsites abutting huge boulders, Joshua trees and other cool cacti all around. We heard coyotes, including pups, at night and saw lots of tracks in the sand by day. Its being mid-December, hardly anyone was there. It was also cold at night... darn cold when one has become accustomed to a Mediterranean climate. We hiked the Boy Scout Trail (ha) on Saturday and a section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail Sunday.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Giggling with buddy Diana at the finish line. She flew out here from PA to run 9 Trails and stayed with us for the weekend. Even Diana thought it was difficult, and SHE completed Hardrock this year. (I think she got her money's worth -- heehee.)
Gibraltor aid station angel and masseuse Deb working on my back at mile 26. It was hard to leave! (This and next photo courtesy of Deb.)
Big thank you to RD Luis Escobar and his crew. They even had miso/seaweed/tofu soup and New Belgium brew at the finish line -- yum! Results
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Over the years I completed a bunch of ultras but none as many times as JFK. Looking through old training journals, I recorded JFK finishes in 1993 (9:21), 1995 (9:15), 1997 (8:23), 1998 (7:39), 1999 (7:48), 2000 (7:22), 2001 (7:19), 2002 (8:07), 2004 (7:40), and 2005 (7:24). I won the event in 1999 and, thus, received free entry for life, one of the perks of JFK.
All things considered my race went well. I started off pretty conservatively on the initial road and Appalachian Trail sections, hitting the Towpath around 2:45-2:50. From that point on, I don't believe more than a couple of people passed me -- I ran negative splits. :) Chris did a super job of crewing. I ran the Towpath in a rather leisurely ~4 hours and upon hitting the asphalt at mile 41.5, had about 1:15 to make it to the finish in under 8 hours. I made it with 3 minutes to spare. It wasn't my fastest JFK, but for whatever reason I've never felt better running it. Results. I was 77th out of 1,079 (!) finishers -- Hey, this is "AMERICA'S ULTRAMARATHON" (in RD Mike Spinnler's mind at least).
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
The skies were clear as we flew into Dulles on October 29, providing views of pretty--though perhaps less spectacular than usual due to drought--fall foliage over West Virginia and Virginia. I knew I would have to get out of the metro area and head for the mountains at least once. This year's never-ending summer and high temps on the East Coast seemed to have finally broken after a hefty dose of much-needed rainfall. Indeed, the weather was perfect for running all week. :)
While in Virginia, I got in 3 good runs: the first, a quick 8 miler on the paved Mt. Vernon Trail; the second, 4 hours on the fun, meandering trails of Prince William Forest; and best of all, on Halloween Day, the Browntown Loop in the Shenandoah Mountains. This loop starts on the east side of Shenandoah National Park and is accessed by cruising bucolic country roads the last few miles, a welcome sight for me after going completely and utterly the WRONG way on I-95 upon leaving the hotel in Alexandria, necessitating the, uh... scenic route through DC morning rush hour traffic, adding an extra hour to my anticipated drive time. Gosh, what fun! But I digress...
The Browntown Loop traverses SNP by first climbing the Jordan River, Mt. Marshall, and Bluff Trails, crosses the Appalachian Trail and tops out on Skyline Drive before the payoff: a gently switchbacked cruise down the Browntown Trail and country roads into the tiny hamlet of Browntown and its general store. Here I downed a Coke and refilled my bottles before reclimbing the ridge via Jenkins Gap and descending back to the car. I later found out that the "official" Browntown Loop ascends Lands Run Gap further north, so I cut the loop short by a few miles. All told I did somewhere around 17-18 miles. The day was a beauty, and I had the entire loop to myself.
The next day I flew to Vermont and had a nice weeklong visit with family and friends. Hurricane Noel stayed far enough south and east of New Hampshire's White Mountains, such that on Saturday 5 nutty friends and I were able to complete the Pemi Loop, 31.5 rough miles with over 9,000 ft. of climbing, including 8 of NH's 4000 footers--Mts. Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield, South Twin, Bond, and Bondcliff. This was my 6th or 7th time around the Pemigewasset Wilderness, one of my favorite long hikes in the Whites. (The above photograph is of Franconia Ridge looking south.)
The following day 4 of us negotiated Ice Gulch in the Northern Whites. Ice Gulch is a boulder-filled ravine similar to its more famous neighbor to the east, the AT's "most difficult mile," Mahoosuc Notch, and one must employ similar bodily maneuvers in order to traverse its length. The gulch was so named because ice can usually be found deep in the rocks year round. It was a real treat to hike with buddies Michelle and Dave (AT thru-hikers, Class of '05), who are planning to thru-hike the PCT next year!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Here's my freckle-nosed boy Fillmore soaking in the rays. He's good at that.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In the dozen plus fires raging in Southern California, so far 600 square miles have burned, with 5 dead, a million evacuated, and over 2,000 homes destroyed, San Diego County being the hardest hit. The media has dubbed it "the perfect storm for fire," the combination of heat, drought, wind, and people culminating in the worst fires ever experienced in California. Recent NASA images provide a rather sobering visual of the current situation. The fires closest to my home in Oxnard, both about 25 minutes away, are the Malibu and the Piru/Fillmore fires.
The Santa Ana winds began blowing in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I awoke to the very faint scent of smoke, not an infrequent occurrence here. From 9-11 a.m. I had a great run at Point Mugu State Park, not realizing it would be my last outing there for awhile. According to Weather Underground, the Santa Anas were blowing 25-35 mph with gusts in the mid 50s (and even an impressive peak gust of 111 mph on the park's Laguna Peak within the past few days!), enough to knock me around a bit in exposed areas, but at this point knowing nothing of the Malibu fire just a few miles down PCH since there really was no scent of smoke in the air. Around 12-1 p.m., however, the sky turned an eery, hard to describe, yellow-orange-purple color, all the smoke and junk in the air obscuring the sunlight such that the inside of the house was dark enough to necessitate turning on the lights. Fine grayish-black ash began covering all outside surfaces, and all the windows and doors had to be closed; still, smaller particles blew in through the cracks covering surfaces with black "dust."
After running some errands Monday morning, we pretty much sequestered ourselves inside the house due to poor air quality, my workout for the day consisting of vaccuuming, mopping, dusting, etc. (but hey, I'm grateful to have a home to clean). Yesterday I did get out for a run on the beach, chosen both because it was cooler and because PMSP is closed. In fact, all the SoCal national forest--Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernadino--and state park lands are closed indefinitely because of the fires.
Needless to say, I am eagerly counting down the days until my visit to the East Coast (VT/NH) next week. Presi Traverse anyone? Those potential sub-freezing temps are actually looking appealing at the moment...
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Last week I joined Chris on a work trip to Denver and spent my days playing on the trails of Jefferson County Open Space Parks in the foothills west of the city. This trip I hit Elk Meadow, White Ranch, Mt. Gailbraith, and Apex Park, each with miles and miles of super running trails. Hats off to those who had the foresight to set aside these open spaces back in the early 70s! We lucked out with the Indian summer-like weather, the rain (and snow in the mountains) holding off until Saturday night. Having never been to Colorado in autumn, the display of aspens ablaze with their golden leaves was a real treat. No comparison to Vermont's foliage display, of course, but still nice. ;-)
After arriving home around 12:30 Sunday morning, it was up at O'dark thirty for a drive to Ojai so a few of us could check out Rancho Grande, which will serve as the start/finish for Coyote Two Moon (reminder: entry cutoff is 11/30!!) and to hit the trails there for a run; I got in about 19 miles with somewhere around 4000 feet of climb: up Howard Creek, down Chip-Seal, up Rose Valley/Lion Canyon, down White Ledge/Sisar. The trails were in great shape, the sun was shining, and the temperature was perfect, all ingredients for a stellar run. :)
T-W-Th I ran the 7+ mile La Jolla-Ray Miller loop. If you get Ultrarunning mag, check out the two-page spread on pp. 4 & 5 of the current issue. The photo was taken on the lower part of the Ray Miller Trail during this year's Coyote Fourplay. (That's yours truly second in line, with David H. right behind and Krissy M. with, heehee, a goldfish on her head.)
Yesterday I decided to take the mountain bike out for my first real ride in a couple of years. After cleaning the bike and chain, lubing, filling the tires, finding my helmet, bike shoes, and gloves--biking is so much more complicated than running which probably explains why I don't do it more often!--I was good to go. Starting at Sycamore Canyon, I rode up Overlook Road, down Guadalasca, up Hell Hill (granny-geared it the whole way but made it without stopping), and down Wood Canyon Vista, for a total of about 15 miles. I was surprised at how quickly my confidence on the technical stuff returned--I dabbed only a couple of times on the tighter switchbacks. :) WHEEeeee... what a blast! Mountain biking is so much fun -- I've resolved to ride more often.
Today my dear friend Andy, here from the East Coast on business, joined us for a nice hike up Sandstone Peak, sandwiched between breakfast at Henri's (fried) and lunch at Neptune's Net (deep fried). Oink! Andy and I have shared many, many (15 years' worth of!) trail miles in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, so getting to spend a day with him on the trails out here was a joy.
Tomorrow: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOM!!!!!!!!! :)
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Views from the trail. Kind of amazing that this is only about 1/2 hour north of LA.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
(Above) Crimson columbine near Mt. Conness
Pack trains -- love 'em or hate 'em, a fact of life in the Sierras. This one was near Evolution Lake.
I'm always finding things in the mountains and bringing them home. On this particular day, I found a full-length Thermarest! After carrying it 5 miles, I dropped it off at the LeConte Ranger Station. It was heavy! (People actually CARRY these things??)
I can't remember the name of this lake or mountain, but scenes like this one are an everyday occurrence on the John Muir Trail.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Ever since thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 1994, I’d wanted to hike California’s John Muir Trail, which runs over 200 miles from the summit of Mt. Whitney to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. Real life and my involvement in the sport of ultrarunning placed any JMT plans on the back burner until this summer, when I finally had the opportunity to not only backpack the Trail in the traditional sense but to speedhike it, too. Originally my target was the women’s record, around 5½ days. However, previous record holder Peter Bakwin suggested I shoot for the current overall supported record of 3 days, 21 hours, 5 min., held by Kevin Sawchuk. (Sawchuk’s time from Whitney summit has been reported as 3 days, 17 hours, 23 min. For whatever reason, supported JMT speedsters have traditionally started the clock at Whitney Portal, while those of the unsupported variety seem to start the clock on the summit.) I figured the overall record was a long shot but still possible. I decided to go for it.
Crucial to success would be putting together a dependable support team. I’m not one who is comfortable with an “entourage” but realized that because of the remoteness of the Trail and long access approaches--and with my intent to take regular sleep breaks—two crews would be necessary. Chris Scott and Deborah Askew, both JMT veterans themselves, agreed to help. Deborah helped crew Peter during his successful record-setting hike of 2003. She also once thru-hiked the JMT in about 7 days and is intimately familiar with the Trail, its side trails, and the various permit requirements, as is Chris. The plan we worked out was not without contention (!) or anxiety on my part, but in the end it all worked out.
Realizing this was a sort of postgraduate adventure and wanting to properly do my homework, I backpacked the Trail northbound from July 31 through August 9. This was a wonderfully mellow trip for the most part, one in which I was able to linger in beautiful spots and get to know the Trail, discovering where water sources may have dried up, which sections might be particularly challenging, etc.
Many JMT books are available on the market. I used the latest edition (July 2007) of the Wilderness Press’s John Muir Trail, by Elizabeth Wenk. This is where I got my stats list mileages, but as I discovered mileages depicted in the various books, maps, and trail signs can vary widely, a bit frustrating at times! I also carried the handy Tom Harrison JMT map pack, 13 individual pages which allowed me to take only those maps needed for a particular day.
The weeks leading up to the speed attempt were filled with trepidation, anxiety, self-doubt. Could I really pull this off? Fearful that I’d “fall flat on my face,” I announced my plans to none but my closest friends and family.
At precisely 4 a.m. on August 24, Chris dropped me off at Whitney Portal. I jokingly weighed my Nathan Women’s Intensity pack on the trailhead scale (4 pounds!), and was off. The ~6000 foot climb up Whitney felt effortless, adrenaline no doubt helping propel me up the mountain. Upon reaching the summit in 4:09, by happenstance I had the pleasure of meeting the previous unsupported JMT record holder, the colorful 66-year-old Reinhold Metzger, with whom I could’ve spent all day talking! (His lead in: “Hey, are those DIRTY GIRL gaiters?!” [They were!]) After 20 minutes of yakking, I finally interjected “I’m sorry, Reinhold, but I HAVE to get going now!” [Note: In early August, Michael Popov broke Reinhold's unsupported record, completing the Trail in 4 days, 5 hours, 25 min. Wow!]
Off I went--back to Trail Crest, down to Guitar Lake, through Crabtree Meadows, across Wallace, Wright & Tyndall Creeks, and finally up Forester Pass. The afternoon sun was quite warm, and although I’d assumed I was pretty well acclimated to the altitude, I was feeling a tad woozy and having to force myself to eat—definitely out of the ordinary for me! I was having no such problems with fluids, drinking both plain water and HEED, downing ten 20 oz. bottles before the day was over. I made good time through spectacular Center Basin and along Bubbs Creek in anticipation of a quick reunion at Vidette Meadow with my dear friend and JMT vet, Richard Park of Chattanooga, Tennessee, with whom, coincidentally, I had run my very first ultra, the 1992 JFK 50 miler, AND who along with wife Pam had driven me to the start of the AT in Georgia back in 1994. Along with three buddies, Richard was doing a five-day backpack on the JMT. After a quick hug, some freshly pumped water, and their well wishes, I headed up Glen Pass and beyond to my night’s destination, Dollar Lake, 48.2 from Whitney Portal.
Chris accessed Dollar Lake via Kearsarge Pass. I arrived only ½ hour after turning on my light, at 8:37 p.m. In retrospect, we should’ve planned on Woods Creek via Cedar Grove, but in my stubbornness to “keep things simple” by doing all crewing from the east side, I’d insisted on Kearsarge Pass… meaning that Chris had to haul a 40+ lb. pack complete with tent, two sleeping bags, two pads, a bear can, stove, food for both of us for that night and the next day, clean clothes (!) for the next day, and my toiletries over both Glen and Kearsarge Passes TWICE, about 15 miles and 5000 feet of climb each way.
A note about sleep: I knew I needed it and wanted to plan regularly for it. Some before me had tried to go long before sleeping, but I chose a more deliberate approach to sleep intervals. While I realized it wouldn’t exactly be a nice, full 8 hours, I strived for at least a few hours of quality sleep each night. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was the interim between reaching camp and getting into the sleeping bag--that 45 minutes or so of transitional time where I seemingly spent half the time staring blankly at my pack trying to figure out what to put into it, while trying to force some food in. All told, I probably got about 8 hours of good sleep.
That first night I slept about 4½ hours, awoke at 2:30 a.m. feeling rested, and after some hot coffee hit the trail at 3:16 a.m. The 3.7 miles to the Woods Creek Bridge passed quickly, and I was pleased to feel no soreness in my legs and feet. Five minutes after leaving camp, however, I realized I’d left my bandana behind. “Maybe I’ll find one on the Trail” I thought, not really believing it. About 15 minutes later, I happened across an “Austin Wranglers” bandana hanging in a tree. This kind of weird, coincidental stuff seems to happen to me frequently, and in my rested, alert state of mind, I uncharacteristically started to get the Willies: the bouncy, squeeky Woods Creek bridge seemed eerie; I passed a newly erected cross next to the trail (somebody DIED here?!); I envisioned the ghost of “Ranger Randy,” who DID die near this area, chastising me for being a “trail stomper” (Google The Last Season by Eric Blehm); AND I started to think about mountain lions just as a mule deer decided to wait until I got within 10 feet before bolting away. This would be the only time during the entire trek that I felt scared. Fortunately, my imaginary fears would disappear with the rising sun.
I crested Pinchot Pass just as my period started. Normally I wouldn’t mention this, but I felt it a not insignificant part of the whole story as it was one more thing to deal with!
The day’s “events” were not yet over. Shortly after beginning the climb up Mather Pass, my right nostril decided to start gushing blood. Oh no! Having had problems with nosebleeds at altitude before, once to the point of requiring medical intervention, coupled with the fact that I was, oh, about a dozen miles from the nearest road, I was duly concerned. Trying to remain calm, I soaked my new Austin Wranglers bandana in a cold stream and applied pressure. After many minutes, the flow slowed to an ooze which persisted throughout the day, but at least I didn’t bleed to death.
The rest of the day went rather well in contrast. After passing by scenic Palisade Lakes, descending the Golden Staircase, soaking my feet in the Middle Fork of the Kings River, and a very long climb up LeConte Canyon, at 6:45 p.m. I topped out at Muir Pass, where my friend and crew Deborah was waiting. The previous day Deborah had hiked in 17 miles via the Piute Pass Trail with a very heavy pack and set up camp at the junction with the JMT, hiking up 16 miles to Muir Pass to meet me the following day. To say Deborah was a welcome sight is a woeful understatement. She even brought me a Starbucks Doubleshot! We had 16 miles yet to go, mostly downhill but still requiring almost 6 hours. However, the almost full moon rising over Evolution Valley is a vision I’ll forever cherish. We finally arrived at the night’s destination, the Piute Creek junction, at 12:30 a.m., just shy of Wenk’s 60 miles for the day. It sure felt like well over 60 to me! (The next day Deborah trudged back over Piute Pass, for a three-day total of about 66 miles.)
After several coughing fits and a restless few hours with probably only an hour or two of good sleep, I left Deborah at 4:27 a.m. and headed up Selden Pass. With somewhat sore feet and feeling not quite as rested as the morning before, the climb up Selden seemed harder than I’d remembered its being just three weeks earlier, so I took it easy, finally topping out at 8:13 a.m. Fortunately, there is some good, runnable trail in this stretch; at times I actually felt rather like a runner, making good time along Bear Creek and all the way to the start of the Bear Ridge climb. Bear Ridge reminds me not of the John Muir Trail but of an Appalachian Trail “PUD” (pointless up and down) because it takes the hiker up a ridge with no real views. However, I was happy to be going north as I got to run the smooth, nicely switchbacked 2000-foot drop to Mono Bridge, quite pleased to have done the entire Bear Ridge section in just over 2 hours. I decided to forego a break until about 2½ miles into the climb up Silver Pass, when I paused to soak my feet in the cold creek for a few minutes. Heaven!
I was feeling strong on the rest of the climb up Silver Pass, especially after being interrogated--and consequently a tiny bit agitated!--by a backcountry ranger as to “where my pack and gear” were, assuring her that I had enough survival gear to spend a night out. (I don’t think she believed I was going all the way to Red’s Meadow to meet friends that night!) On the descent of Silver Pass, I was determined to not miss the righthand turn to Tully Hole as I’d done during my reconnaissance hike, when I mistakenly headed all the way down Cascade Valley, then had to ascend the Purple Lake Trail back to the JMT, thereby missing 5 miles of JMT. This time I made the correct turn and headed into one of the most beautiful valleys of the entire Trail, suitably named “Horse Heaven.” The steep but nicely switchbacked climb out of the valley toward Lake Virginia was a real eye opener, but I occupied my mind with the lovely views, all the while scanning the trail ahead for my running pal, Howie Stern of Mammoth, who had said he might come out and join me for a few miles. Unfortunately, our timing was off as Howie had to return home in order to prepare for his first teaching day at school. (According to two hikers at Lake Virginia, we missed each other by just ½ hour.)
The final miles to Red’s Meadow were relatively easy, and I ran or power walked most of it. With about 5 miles to go, Chris surprisingly appeared to accompany me through the potentially confusing intersections in this area. I was very anxious to reach Red’s Meadow as we’d reserved a CABIN, complete with a SHOWER!! Arriving at 10:45 p.m., I spent at least ½ hour in the shower scrubbing off the grime, hurrying my pace only when Chris told me he had a famous Red’s Meadow chocolate milkshake sitting in the freezer waiting for me. Oh boy! Deborah was at the cabin as well, having hiked out of Piute Pass earlier in the day. I’d hoped she would accompany me the next day. She said YES! I popped the couple of blisters that had formed on each of my fourth toes, polished off the milkshake, ate some ramen, and with revitalized anticipation for the next day, hit the sack--in a real bed!
Deborah and I hit the trail for the expected final day at 3:07 a.m. I was a little concerned that we should’ve begun closer to 2 since I knew that the success or failure of the record attempt would all boil down to this last day. However, Chris and Deborah both assured me that an extra hour spent sleeping would be time well spent and that the payback would be worth it. They were right. Physically I was doing well: most of my body was tired, but only the bottoms of my feet were sore, and I had only 3 blisters. Mentally I was still having fun and revelling in the experience for the most part. After negotiating the numerous intersections near Red’s Meadow, I began to get sleepy for the first time and started staggering a bit. A caffeine pill and fast-approaching daylight woke me nicely, such that I began to enjoy this “Ansel Adams” section, including beautiful Lakes Rosalie, Shadow, Garnet, Ruby, Emerald, and Thousand Island, with imposing Banner, Ritter, and Minarets towering in the distance. Deborah and I made good time as we chatted all the way up Donohue Pass. It was great to have company!
After cresting Donohue things got tougher. On my shakedown hike, the Donohue-to-Tuolumne section had proven to be the most challenging, to the point of my having a bit of an emotional breakdown upon reaching Tuolumne Meadows. This time I was determined NOT to allow that to happen, trying my hardest to dissociate body from mind. Deborah kept me entertained for quite awhile with her (very interesting!) life story; however, the long, flat miles out of Lyell Canyon were absolutely mind numbing. We tried to power walk as quickly as possible; I had no desire to run as my feet were pretty tender at this point. After what seemed like days, we finally reached Chris at 3:28 p.m., downed some mashed potatoes, ramen, a Starbucks Doubleshot, and some Coke, and were off for the final section!
Compared to the death march through Lyell Canyon, the climb up and over Cathedral Pass went very well, and we moved at a good clip. Deborah maintains that I was having auditory hallucinations, but we really DID encounter an elderly woman wearing very thick eyeglasses who asked her husband “Do those girls work here? They’re both wearing helmets.” (We were both wearing white baseball caps.) I started laughing so hard. Our next goal was to get past Sunrise High Sierra Camp before darkness, happily reaching that goal by 7:28 p.m. In this section we were sprinkled on for about an hour, which after several weeks of not experiencing rain, felt both alien and refreshing.
With darkness upon us, my mind went into “git-er-done” mode. Deborah expertly kept us from getting lost and on track to break Sawchuk’s record, both of us checking our watches frequently. The only minor glitch occurred while trying to cross a stream on a wobbly log about a half mile before the Half Dome Trail. Deb crossed safely; I fell in. Two sounds were heard: a loud SPLASH and a loud expletive beginning with the letter “F”... which I immediately regretted due to the fact that we passed four tents ~10 seconds later (oops). We reached the Half Dome Trail at 9:54 and Nevada Falls at 10:56. Finally I allowed myself to believe we had it in the bag! The trail surface from Nevada to Vernal Falls is very uneven, with a mixture of rocks, dirt, and deteriorating asphalt; all I had to do was keep from tripping and getting hurt. The closer we got to the finish, the faster I ran, trying now to finish before midnight. Out of water and very thirsty, I stopped at the one-mile-to-go water fountain and partially filled my bottle. From here on the trail smoothed out, and I started *flying* down the trail (in actuality probably doing a blistering 10-minute mile).
The finish was sweet. I hit THE gravel road, stopped running, and felt nothing but a deep-seated fatigue and an intense desire to just SIT. My final time from Whitney Portal was 3 days, 20 hours, and a few seconds, while my summit-to-Happy Isle time was 3 days, 15 hours, 32 min. Although my crew wouldn’t necessarily share my opinion, *I* truly enjoyed almost every minute of it!
Friday, August 31, 2007
Location / Distance /Time of Day / Elapsed Time
Depart Whitney Portal / 0.0 / 0400 / 00:00 / (8/24)
Arrive Whitney Summit / 11.0 / 0809 / 04:09
Leave Whitney Summit / 11.0 / 0828 / 04:28
Forester Pass / 31.4 / 1507 / 11:07
Glen Pass / 43.2 / 1909 / 15:09
Dollar Lake (rest) / 48.2 / 2037 / 16:37
Depart Dollar Lake / 48.2 / 0316 / 23:16 / (8/25)
Woods Creek Bridge / 51.9 / 0424 / 24:24
Pinchot Pass / 59.1 / 0720 / 27:20
Mather Pass / 68.9 / 1104 / 31:04
Middle Fork Jct. / 79.4 / 1411 / 34:11
Muir Pass / 90.6 / 1845 / 38:45
Piute Creek Jct. (rest) / 107.9 / 0030 / 44:30 / (8/26)
Depart Piute Creek Jct. / 107.9 / 0427 / 48:27
Selden Pass / 117.1 / 0813 / 52:13
Lake Edison Jct. / 130.9 / 1208 / 56:08
Silver Pass / 137.4 / 1512 / 59:12
Duck Pass Jct. / 148.2 / 1917 / 63:17
Red’s Meadow (rest) / 159.8 / 2245 / 66:45
Depart Red’s Meadow / 159.8 / 0307 / 71:07 / (8/27)
Garnet Lake Jct. / 173.2 / 0801 / 76:01
Donohue Pass / 182.1 / 1132 / 79:32
Tuolumne Meadows Jct. / 193.9 / 1528 / 83:28
Sunrise High Sierra Camp / 205.4 / 1928 / 87:28
Half Dome Trail Jct. / 212.5 / 2154 / 89:54
Happy Isles / 218.5 / 0000 / 92:00 (87:32 from Whitney)
WHAT I WORE/CARRIED:
Nathan Women’s Intensity vest
One 20 oz. water bottle w/hand strap
Patagonia Active Classic Cami top
Patagonia Desert Dusters shorts
Patagonia Capilene 1 & 2 LS crews, or
Mountain Hardware Imogene LS crew
Montrail C4P baseball cap/Julbo shades
Montrail Hardrock shoes (same pair for both JMTs)
Socks, various brands
Dirty Girl gaiters
Patagonia Dragonfly jacket (carried but never worn)
Columbia lightweight fleece turtleneck (never worn)
Ibex lightweight wool hat
Mountain Hardware gloves
Tom Harrison JMT map pack
Paper & pen
Petzl Tikka XP light & spare batteries
Princeton Tec Blast light (backup)
Emergency space blanket
Tampons, OB Super
Ziplock bags for garbage
Tylenol 500 mg. (8 taken)
Caffeine pills 50 mg. (1 taken)
Zombie Runner 40 spf sunscreen, .27 oz. packets
Clif Shot Bloks
Clif Nectar bars
Clif Shot gels
Clif Mojo bars
Mrs. May’s Naturals snacks
Mary Jane’s Farm organic pastas, cous cous, spuds, & oatmeal
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I'm sitting at the Mammoth Library checking email and still processing all that happened during the JMT speed trek... suffice it to say it all went better than I'd ever dreamed it would! I'd originally planned to go for the women's record of ~5.5 days, when a previous record holder Peter Bakwin (his record subsequently broken by Kevin Sawchuk) suggested last winter that I go for the whole enchilada... I figured what do I have to lose?
This was a supported adventure, and my crew of Chris and Deborah (JMT vets both) was stellar -- without them I didn't have a prayer of the record. They met me at the end of each very long day and had the tent set up, "real food" cooked, etc. Mind you, this meant some VERY long approaches for them, in addition to the tent, each carrying TWO sleeping bags, TWO Thermarests, a bear can, my food for the next haul, etc. Deborah joined me for 16 miles thru Evolution Valley at the end of Day #2 and kept me on target. She also was kind enough to accompany me for the entire final day which was over 60 miles between Red's Meadow and Yosemite. If not for her, I think I would have finished but not under the old record. I owe both Chris and Deb BIG TIME!!
Weather was key, and I lucked out. On the day I finished, friends attempting to climb Whitney were turned back due to lightning and drenching rain; I merely got sprinkled on for an hour or so! Also key was backpacking the Trail beforehand. I cannot imagine going into this one blind. It truly is an adventure of the "postgraduate" variety!
I'll compose a full report within a few days. Hopefully my feet won't still look like sausages by then..... :)
* 3 days, 20 hours is my time from Whitney Portal to Happy Isle in Yosemite Valley. My time from the summit of Whitney, i.e. the official southern terminus of the JMT, was 3 days, 15 hours, 32 minutes.
Friday, August 17, 2007
After a peaceful night of camping at the appropriately named Grandview campground--the view of the night sky, sunset and sunrise were, indeed, grand--the next couple of enjoyable days were spent at the Millers' in Ridgecrest. We were fortunate to be in town during the annual wine walk -- woo hoo! Then we were off for Mammoth and an overnighter over Duck Pass and Pika Lake. Neither ducks nor pikas were seen; however, some bear prints were finally spotted near Duck Lake! And in the morning the coyotes yipped and howled. :-)
Wednesday evening we headed back to the White Mtns., this time via the Nevada side, in order to climb the state's high point, Boundary Peak, elevation 13,140 ft. This beautiful mountain is located in the Boundary Peak Wilderness, and other than a few grazing cattle, we had the place to ourselves -- I was the only person on the peak yesterday! (Contrast that with Mt. Whitney a couple of hours away, its hoards, the permitting system, etc.) The hike could be neatly broken into 3 distinct segments: 1) winding through sagebrush via what appeared to be predominantly cow paths, 2) ascending a rather long & steep scree slope reminiscent of Grant-Swamp Pass on the Hardrock course, and 3) navigating the fun, blocky ridgeline to the summit. To give some indication as to the steepness of the scree slope--which I actually really enjoyed--my time from car to summit was about 3 hours, while my time from summit to car was just over an hour! (Yeah, I ran down!) :) 11 more high points to go!!.... Maybe??
I write this from the Boyds' in Bishop, where we are staying for a couple of days. They are "parents" of two giant year-old bull mastiffs, a brother & sister. These dogs are HUGE (!) but incredibly gentle and sweet, and I am happy to be getting my doggie fix. Until next time...
Friday, August 10, 2007
After wisely calling it a day at mile 50 of the Tahoe Rim 100--my head was so ON the JMT & NOT into the race!--and a 3-day "shakedown" hike of ~40'ish miles over the backside of Mt. Whitney (full moon ascent!) with 8 buds, on July 31 I set off for my adventure with a happy heart & a full pack... which in Sierraspeak means not only the requisite sleeping bag, tent, stove, food, clothing, etc., but a BEAR CAN as well, i.e. a lot more than I'm accustomed to carrying--ugh! Fortunately, Chris was sweet enough to schlep in food & clean clothing every couple of days--no small feat on the JMT as most of the approaches are 15 miles or more. As well, we hiked the middle section of the Trail, from Bishop Pass to Piute Pass, through the incredible Evolution Valley together & enjoyed a couple of lower mileage days. If you happen to be going to Evolution Lake, ask me about the best campsite in the universe. :)
I averaged 20-some miles/day, but mileage was all over the place, with a low of ~11 and a high of ~36. No bears were seen (of course--I was carrying the damn bear can!), but I did see many marmots, pikas, squirrels, new-to-me birds, and a 4-foot rattlesnake... and it was rattling! The only downside of the entire trip was the "kitty litter" (both clumping & non!) footing that prevailed for much of the last 4 days. Next time I'll wear gaiters! (Speaking of which... I had such a good time, I think I'll do it again later in the month. Stay tuned......)
The Grand Finale was summitting Half Dome (OMG!) yesterday afternoon. Un-freaking-believably steep & scary! After DEATH-GRIPPING the cables on the way down, my hands & arms are very sore today! So glad I did it though.
Many, many photos were taken but won't be up until after Labor Day. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! Gotta run.... my time on this library computer is almost up.
Monday, July 16, 2007
...will be to the Sierras and the John Muir Trail!! Ohboyohboyohboy!! The JMT stretches over 200 miles from Mt. Whitney, highest point in the lower 48, to Yosemite Valley, along the way climbing 10 high-altitude passes. There are no road crossings. I've been wanting to hike the JMT since... well, forever it seems, and finally it's going to happen. First, though, theTahoe Rim 100 is this weekend; honestly, however, it's the Sierras and fastpacking a long trail again that I'm *really* looking forward to.
In preparation for the rest of the summer, this week has been one of catching up on mail, errands, unpacking, laundry, repacking, and, least fun of all, treating Fillmore the cat for fleas and tapeworms (ick!)--he had a new nickname, "Fleamore" (hah!) until he was weighed at the vet's office. Now he's "Porker" because he's increased from 12 to an impressive 16 lbs. in 7 months. At this rate, he'll be Guinness material in a year and a half or so.This morning I ran the La Jolla-Ray loop and encountered a 4-point buck whose antlers were shedding their velvet. He looked straight at me with the red-tinged velvet hanging so long and scraggly off the bottoms of his antlers that they looked like dreadlocks. Really cool to see!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Being the consummate peakbagger, a hike of the park's high point, Mt. Scott, elev. 8,938 ft., was in order. After a memorable Fourth of July celebration in Klamath Falls, the next-to-last destination (last being Home Sweet Home), was Lassen Volcanic National Park, including Lassen Peak, and a very hot (100 degrees??) 11-mile run in the Park. I'm calling it heat training for Tahoe Rim. Lassen Peak, over 10,000 ft. high, was surprisingly very easy, only 5 miles round trip, with a couple thousand feet of elevation gain. A couple of snowfields and this bit near the summit are all that's left of the snow. Climbing the mountain in the cooler early evening hours made the hike much more enjoyable than my earlier run.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
It was a bit steep! (O_O) Here are myself, Alex, and our awesome leader (and great pacer), Doug, on the summit, where we hung out for over a half hour. It looks cold, but it was really a nice day up there. What can I say? I have major COLD ISSUES! Because of our later start, we actually had the summit to ourselves!!
These photos were both taken by Deborah. More photos at http://alexfeldman.org/pictures/hiking/2007/debandsue/ T'was a great day with some great folks!
Unfortunately, the weather gods were not on our side for the intended Rainier trip on W-Th-F. In fact, the weather forecast was SO dismal that our group of nine decided to not even start up the mountain, so sure we were of not reaching the summit. Everyone made the best of a disappointing situation, some opting to try for Mt. Adams, others returning home, etc.
As for myself, I chose to get in some badly needed training for my next hundred miler, Tahoe Rim, which consisted of nice runs on the PCT, Cascade Crest 100 (one of my faves!) course, and Mts. Si, Little Si, and Teneriffe, where I was able to get in almost 9000 feet of elevation in ~27 miles. Okay, so it wasn't exactly like Mt. Rainier's 9000 feet of elevation gain but was more enjoyable in the sense that I was carrying a 3-4 lb. pack instead of a ~50 lb. one (yikes). While the weather was not great, I actually got rained on for only ~5 miles.
Yesterday I started heading south once again... under sunny, blue skies. Mt. Rainier was standing out in all her glory. It felt very wrong to be driving away from one of the mountains I came up here to climb, but it's my philosophy that things happen for a reason and usually work out for the best. I'll be back another day to try it again.
This morning I got in a great loop on Dog Mountain in Southern WA--what a cool peak!--then drove to Hood River and consumed the most humungous "Alaskan fish" burrito I've ever eaten in my life. Oink! (What in the heck is "Alaskan fish" anyway??) Until next time..........
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I got in a run of a little over 20 miles on the Hoh River Trail, out and back. Also visited Crescent Lake (great clam chowder) and Olympic hot springs, which were heavenly. I'd always wanted to soak in backcountry hot springs and finally had the chance--oooooh! Here's where I was testing the water; the one we actually soaked in was even nicer.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
That was pretty cool. Two minutes later, however, something even more cool happened. Sitting beside the road was this blue grouse--obviously male and obviously trying to attract a mate--all puffed up, strutting around, and thrumming his tune. *I* was impressed!
He could run, too!
Hoping for a herd of elk and maybe a mountain lion tomorrow? :-)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Some eerily beautiful woods on the way up. Yep, this region gets a lot of rainfall...
View from the summit ridge. Clouds were in and out all day but yippee! -- no rain. I almost expected Heidi and her goats to go strolling by.
Today I ran ~3 hours on Kitsap Penninsula's Green Mountain and Gold Hill. These were predominantly mountain biking trails, but being midweek I had the trails mostly to myself. At one point I came around a corner and encountered a mama deer with her little fawn standing in the trail. Neither seemed particularly afraid of me, so I slowly scooted around them. I could have reached out and touched the fawn's nose--it was that close! Although sorely tempted, I did not try to touch it, of course. Alas, the camera was sitting in the car!
Will be back in the Olympics for most of the weekend. Hoh Rainforest, here we come! :) Hope everyone reading this has a great one!!