Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy holidays

I decided to do something a little different with my holiday letter this year. (Click to enlarge) :-)

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

Joshua Tree National Park

Al and me trying to get warm.

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

Noble Canyon/Piedra Blanca

Always loving to check out new trails, this week I ran two National Recreation Trails: on Wednesday the Noble Canyon Trail near San Diego (we were there for a few days this week), 21 miles out/back, and today the Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca Trail closer to home, kinda-sorta near Ojai but really out in the middle of nowhere in the Sespe Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest, 19'ish point-to-point miles. Wednesday I baked in the sun and almost ran out of water; thankfully there was a spigot at the turnaround! Today I ran in about 4 inches of beautiful powdery *snow* -- a rare occurrence where I now live -- and temps in the 40s; however, it was sunny (as evidenced by my sunburned ears). Apart from a group of boy scouts about a half mile from the trailhead, I saw no one else all day. I did see lots of animal tracks -- bobcat, fox, squirrel, rabbit, deer. Always puts a smile on my face to realize how many creatures live out there even though we see very few of them. The trail really felt "out there" and longer than the stated mileage, especially in the lightly traveled middle section which was overgrown, rocky, and very wet -- most of the day the trail paralleled one stream or another -- and since I was solo and kinda skimped on food having thrown my pack together in a hurry last night. Both ends were quite nice trail though! Chris hiked in to meet me on the northern end, and we completed the final 3-4 miles together.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Owens Peak


We spent the weekend in Ridgecrest, but having run a 50 miler and a 35 miler the previous two weekends, I had zero desire to run the OTHTC High Desert 50k/30k on Sunday. (No Monica or Hans am I!) After seeing friends off at the start, I ran a rather uninspiring ~7-mile section of the course... uninspiring to me because what I *really* wanted to be doing was climbing Owens Peak, at 8400+ ft. the first real peak of the Southern Sierras, which provide a spectacular backdrop to the desert towns of Ridgecrest and Inyokern. And -- oh no! -- it's on a list.

So, after my ho-hum warmup, I headed west for the mountains. Thanks to DeLorme, I found the trailhead easily and, although 4 WD was "highly recommended," I made it up the 8-mile gravel road in the 2WD Honda Element without problem. The hike was a steep one and, with one minor detour (I lost the trail), I summitted in about 1 1/2 hours. Cool, cool rocks on the ridge flowing east down from the summit which I will go back and explore some day with buddy Rick, who tells of Indian petroglyphs/pictographs (what's the difference?) further down the ridge; a Google image search produced numerous hits of some spectacular artwork.

Happily, I rock hopped and jogged back down to the trailhead, my peakbagging fix sated for awhile.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Saturday was the Santa Barbara 9 Trails race, "the 35 miler that runs like a 50." With ~11,000 feet of climb and warm afternoon temps, that statement was accurate although I'd say it runs like a HARD 50. My finishing time of 8:42 (!!) was 45 minutes slower than JFK the previous weekend! Of course, that -- having just run JFK -- played into SB's difficulty for me. The scenery was beautiful, however, and I enjoyed running many miles with Diana, Gretchen, and Juliet. Here I am, happy to be finished, thinking "damn, that took a lot longer than expected!"

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.)

Trying to keep up with fluids and electrolytes, only marginally successful.

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

JFK -- finish #12

The JFK 50 miler was my first ultra in 1992. This was back in the day of Buzz Sawyer's RD'ship, no aid stations, & an entry fee of $15 which got you a 50/50 T shirt emblazoned with the profile of JFK himself. I was 26 years old and a total ultra greenhorn having completed only one marathon -- that being my longest run -- prior to the event. My plan was to go as far as I was able, thinking about 30 miles, but ultra vet friends Richard, Dennis, and Mary showed me how to incorporate walk breaks, how it was possible to eat and continue running, and how to -- I hate this term, but -- dig deep to make it to the finish line. The four of us ran most of the race together, with Richard and I crossing the finish line in 10 hours & 10 minutes. I cried (in fact, it's been the only finish line where I've cried!) and was on Cloud 9 for weeks afterward.

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.

Chris and I decided to return this year only because friend Anstr (#1134) was running his 25th consecutive JFK 50! (Wow, he must be nuts.)

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

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

I had a good time running some of my old routes in Vermont last week. These photographs were taken in the middle of the Kingdom Trails network in Burke and Lyndon. Kingdom Trails has, hands down, THE best singletrack for mountain biking I've ever ridden (this includes Moab and Crested Butte!). The running is pretty sweet, too. I waited for the morning drizzle to abate before getting in a few miles.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A trip back East

I spent the past 2 weeks back on the East Coast: 4 days in Virginia, 8 in Vermont and New Hampshire visiting family, friends, and my old stomping grounds.

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


Another of my favorite photos from the summer. Bill Maher had a funny commentary on Crocs a couple of weeks ago, one of the very few "issues" on which I disagree with him!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Yay, we had rain today! Not a deluge or even a respectable soaking, but at least it was a little something. Also, the Park opened back up yesterday, so I was able to do a nice long run there, 24'ish miles. Some of the trails I hadn't run since C4P, and one was completely new to me. Temps were only in the 60s, perfect. :)

Here's my freckle-nosed boy Fillmore soaking in the rays. He's good at that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Since my buddy Doug queried...

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.

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


Let's see... what's new...

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


Today I felt like checking out some different trails in the area, so rather than running the usual ones in Pt. Mugu State Park, this morning we drove just a bit further down PCH to Leo Carrillo State Park & Beach in Malibu. Actually Chris dropped me off a few miles up Mulholland so I could do a point-to-point via the Malibu Springs Trail. On the way I "bagged" most of the trails all the way down to the beach, for a total of around 10 miles. Except for the first 1.9 miles of the MST which were quite overgrown, once again reminding me that California flora is not nearly as forgiving (read: I got owies) as that on the East Coast--the trails were as nice as those in PMSP, with the final descent of the Nicholas Flat Trail (it wasn't flat; it led to one) reminiscent of the fab Ray Miller in PMSP. And what a gorgeous day to be in the mountains: sunny, clear skies, temps barely hitting 70, 3 deer sighted, and only 4 hikers encountered. I even ran by a pond, a rarity in Southern California! My legs are finally starting to feel "springy" again. :)

Views from the trail. Kind of amazing that this is only about 1/2 hour north of LA.

Monday, September 24, 2007

40 down, 10 to go

Woo hoo -- I "climbed" the Florida high point! At 345 ft. above sea level, I direct you to this link as I'm rather at a loss for words WRT the lowest HP in the country. Like many US high points, the "hike" involved stepping out of the car and walking a few feet to the monument. However, the drive from northern Louisiana (long story) and back was a grueling one. Lucky for us, a stop at the general store in Hot Coffee, Mississippi, provided an entertaining break during the long return trip. Alas, there was no coffee to be found (nor beer -- it's a dry county); however, they did have pickled pig lips... yes, for human consumption. (O_O) Yikes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coyote Two Moon/Angeles Crest

A new event! The lunatic who conceived of Coyote FourPlay (RIP) now brings you the Coyote Two Moon 100M/100K ultras in the beautiful mountains of Los Padres National Forest in Ojai, California. With around 25,000 ft. of climb for the 100 miler and 19,000 or so for the 100K, and with cutoffs of 40 and 24 hours respectively, you will definitely get a workout. But with a high point on the course of just ~6200 ft., there's lots of oxygen, so how hard can it be, right? VERY hard as we "scrub" runners discovered over April Fools weekend. (See my very first blog post. The event's name has been changed from "Dos Lunas" to "Coyote Two Moon.") But take a look at that groovy belt buckle...... Ooooh! Now wouldn't that be a beauty to add to your collection?! Add the high-quality Patagonia shirt and finishers jacket, and whereas you may be looking a little, shall we say, "rough" on Sunday morning, you will be STYLIN'!

In other news, I'm leaving for Wrightwood tomorrow for the Angeles Crest 100 this weekend. Am I recovered from the JMT? Absolutely not. Stupid to attempt a 100 so soon (16 days) after the JMT? Yeah, probably. But I entered way back last winter, and since there are no refunds, and since it's only a couple of hours away, and since I really, really like this course...... what the heck...... we'll see what happens. At least I won't have to wake up the next morning (and the next and the next) and do it all over again, a la JMT. Hope y'all have a great weekend!
Sunday morning Postscript: The running was fun for about 40 miles--I truly like the AC course, especially the section around Baden Powell, and enjoyed running many miles with Honey Albrecht of Arizona. Then it started to really suck. (No, I am definitely not recovered from the JMT!) After doing some quick math and realizing I could be home, showered and in bed by 9:30 p.m., combined with the knowledge of what lay ahead, I called it a day at Shortcut Saddle, almost mile 60. The women's race ROCKED, with last year's winner Ashley Nordell and Suzanna Bon finishing only 14 minutes apart and Suzanna breaking Evelyn Marshall's 12 Y/O course record by about a minute! Also, Kathryn Bassett did an A+ job with the live updates.
And now I must go eat some chocolate ice cream...... :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A few photos

Some favorite shots of the summer:

(Above) Crimson columbine near Mt. Conness

and a Leichtlin's mariposa lily.

Always puts a smile on my face to see marmots. :)

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.

My favorite trail drink!

Saturday, September 1, 2007


The question was posed by our friend Derrick, whom we called to share the good news on Tuesday morning, a few hours after breaking the supported record of the John Muir Trail. As I tried to articulate in my wasted state that yes, overall it really WAS fun, my crew Deborah and Chris burst out laughing, shook their heads, and responded in unison "NO, IT WASN'T!"

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

JMT stats, gear list, & food

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)

Nathan Women’s Intensity vest
One 20 oz. water bottle w/hand strap
Steri-pen Adventurer
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
Timex watch
Tom Harrison JMT map pack
Paper & pen
Petzl Tikka XP light & spare batteries
Princeton Tec Blast light (backup)
Emergency space blanket
Toilet paper
Tampons, OB Super
Ziplock bags for garbage
Electrolyte caps
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
Snickers bars
Mrs. May’s Naturals snacks
Sport Beans
Hammer HEED
Hammer Perpetuem
Hammer Recoverite
Mary Jane’s Farm organic pastas, cous cous, spuds, & oatmeal
Top Ramen
Starbucks Doubleshots
Instant coffee

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

John Muir Trail: 3 days, 20 hours!!! *

What an adventure!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Still playin' in the Sierras & HP #39

The past week was one of a lot of R&R post-JMT, first at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains, including, according to this website, Earth's oldest living inhabitant, the 4,700+-year-old "Methuseleh" tree. This tree, and many other very, VERY old trees, can be seen on a beautiful 4-mile loop hike from the visitors' center. For the safety of the tree, however, the Methuseleh is unmarked, i.e. "I saw it but didn't know exactly when!"

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

John Muir Trail #1

(The hut at Muir Pass)

Hi all! I'm back... for just awhile anyway. :) Yesterday I finished my northbound traverse of the JMT, from Whitney Portal to Happy Isle in Yosemite National Park. WOW - WOW - WOW!!! What a fulfilling, calming, & happy trip!!

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

The next trip

...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


Aah, Hardrock. My favorite race of all. And what a race this year! (How many times did YOU hit "refresh"??) Most amazing finishes and new course records in arguably "the harder direction" by Krissy and Scott, but also FIVE people under 30 hours, and NINETY-EIGHT total finishers, also a record by a huge margin! Emily, 2nd place girl and 8th overall, had an awesome run as well, PR'ing by several hours. Emily and I both ran Hardrock for the first time in 1999, she at 23, still the youngest ever Hardrock finisher. It was nice to see Betsy N. and Betsy K. on the finishers list yet again, as well as previous winners Karl, Paul, Ricky, Blake, and Kirk (and Mark until he unfortunately had to drop). Finally, a special congratulations to my friend and Montrail teammate Diana from PA--you did it, Girl! :)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Crater Lake & Lassen National Parks

After another run in the Columbia River Gorge area--the groovy Eagle Creek/Tunnel Falls Trail, where one actually goes through a tunnel behind the waterfall--the next stop was Crater Lake National Park. How's this for impossibly blue water?

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.

Home again, home again, for a few days at least!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mt. Hood

Internet access has been limited for the past week as I continue to play in Washington and Oregon. Four of us--Doug, Deborah, Alex, and myself--climbed Mt. Hood last Monday. The few inches of fresh snow made for a beautiful climb... although arriving at Timberline Lodge on Sunday afternoon in the midst of a miserable snow/rain shower certainly had us questioning our sanity for even considering an attempt. Sometimes, however, the weather gods are on one's side, as was the case for our Mt. Hood ascent. We got a relatively late start and after noticing other parties seeming to struggle on the regular route just below the summit, we opted for the old "crater route." Here we are descending:

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 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


"Nirvana: an ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability, or joy." So states ... and that is what I found after spending 3 blissful days in Stehekin, Washington. Could it be that I have finally found my Eden??

Stehekin is a town of a little over 80 year-round residents at the end of 55-mile-long (by 1 mile wide!) Lake Chelan in the Northern Cascades. It is a town reachable only by foot, boat, or float plane. The mostly dirt Stehekin Road leads 12 miles (used to be a lot further) into the backcountry and the Pacific Crest Trail, at which point it is another 17 trail miles north to Rainy Pass, the last major road crossing on the PCT before reaching Canada, and a bunch more miles to the nearest road south. The 23-mile Stehekin River runs alongside the road for its last few miles before emptying into the lake; the water was so incredibly, impressively high and wild!

We hiked the Agnes Gorge Trail as well as the Coon Lake-PCT-Stehekin Road loop. I found out the hard way that when a road is said to be washed out up here, it is WASHED OUT, i.e. impassable! My intended loop could not be completed because where the road once existed is now "wild river hitting rock face." That's probably not a good description but the best I can do. Anyway, I had to backtrack all the way around such that my 10 miler became a 14 miler.

It was with a heavy heart that we boarded the Lady Express Friday afternoon for the trip back to civilization.

This is a photograph of the dock in Stehekin and the shuttle bus that will take you anywhere up the road for $5. The drivers are super nice and will even wait for you at the bakery 2 miles up the road while you buy gooey cinnamon buns, carrot cake, muffins, magic bars, coffee, lattes.... Mmmm!

This is the old Stehekin School which was in operation until the late 1980s. It is kept unmanned and unlocked for the tourists. (Those are my new socks--aren't they purty?--which I was wearing as gloves for a few minutes.)

I will definitely return!

Stehekin "don't misses"

The bakery!

Waving good-bye to a stick I'd just thrown into Agnes Creek.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mt. St. Helens

Today we climbed Mt. St. Helens -- what a blast!! There was patchy snow soon after leaving the parking lot, but since the temps didn't fall below freezing overnight, none of it was very frozen/icy. I really enjoyed this hike--first active volcano for me! Also it was the first time I've climbed a mountain that cost money ($22 for a permit!) but well worth it in my opinion. These views are from the rim of the crater. There was quite a cornice right where the trail comes up to the rim, but a quick 5-10 minute walk west puts one in a safer viewing spot. That's Mt. Rainier in the background. We were able to do some fun butt sliding for several hundred feet on the descent--woohoo!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hoh Rainforest

Guess what the weather brought? :p The mosses, fungi, and trees were *impressive* though! Here's a sampler:

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.

Oh, and many elk were spotted but, dang, no mountain lion. (One has frequently been spotted in the area of the hot springs.) Also encountered another very, very young fawn and her mother, what a treat to watch.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Olympic wildlife

While driving down Hurricane Mountain Road in Olympic National Park, a bear sauntered across the road, in no apparent hurry. Its left ear was tagged.

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

Misty trails

The Olympic Penninsula is splendid, and I've been getting in some nice trail miles: Yesterday morning was about 15 miles on the Duckabush Trail (I had to laugh when I saw a DUCK floating down the Duckabush River), and late afternoon we hiked up & ran down 6,288 ft. Mt. Townsend on an absolutely gorgeous, smooth, wide, pine-needle-covered, nicely switchbacked trail, about 8 miles round trip.

Some eerily beautiful woods on the way up. Yep, this region gets a lot of rainfall...

A bit nippy on top! "Hurry up & take the photo already!" (Is that Mt. Baker in the back??)

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!!