Monday, December 15, 2014

Deception Pass sweeping

Felt so great to get out with Dave and Faron to sweep the Deception Pass 50k yesterday. Thank you to Matt and Kerri for arranging our volunteering and the other volunteers for taking care of us so well as we came through (or chilled at) the aid stations. The pizza, beer and music were still around even after sunset!
The Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympics from West Beach (start and finish)

Rosario Head
Rosario Head

Interesting angle on White Chuck, Glacier, Whitehorse and Three Fingers, from Goose Rock 
A party indeed

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

North Cascades 100 mile route ideas

I've been spending a lot of time with maps.

They're on my work desk, sometimes find their way into the kitchen, or clutter the living room couch, and most definitely are bed-time reading at least a few nights a week. And that doesn't include the multiple files filling up my computer windows...

With Wilderness Areas and the North Cascades National Park dominating the range between Stevens Pass and the 49th parallel almost any attractive 100-mile route has to be an adventure run (Plain being the exception; Cascade Crest would firmly qualify as Central Cascades, WA).

I'm hoping to do at least one ~100-mile adventure run next year, maybe two, and if one of them comes from my growing list below that would be great.

Please feel free to comment with your ideas, thoughts and own routes!

Notes: these are primarily on-trail routes that would be "runnable," therefore not utilizing (many) high routes or significant cross country travel. However, a few of these trails certainly will feel like cross country bushwhacking. Where possible I've tried to create loops or aesthetic point-to-point outings. Distances are approximate, "+" denotes 100-110, "++" is over 110, though I don't think any go over ~120. 


North Cascades 100 ++ (Cascade Pass to Ruth Creek/Hannegan Pass TH)

This cuts through the heart of both the south and north units of NCNP. Not much more needs to be said, besides that you'll be seriously indebted to whoever does the car shuttle for you. This ends with the 60-mile trip I did in August.

Cascade Pass trail to Park Creek, over Park Creek Pass and down Thunder Creek to Fourth of July Pass/Panther Creek trail, Happy Panther trail to Big Beaver trail, Beaver Pass, Little Beaver to Whatcom Pass, Brush Creek and Chilliwack River to Copper Ridge, Hannegan Pass and end at Ruth Creek TH.

Black bear at Cascade Pass
Sahale Arm and Peak, above Cascade Pass
Buckner (r) and Logan (c); Park Creek Pass and the Thunder Creek drainage splits them
Big trees in Big Beaver
Little Beaver headwaters at Whatcom and Challenger glaciers
North (r) to south (l) views to the west from Copper Ridge

Glacier Peak Wilderness 100 + (Loop from White River TH)

This, by far, is the most difficult route of this collection. I would also consider this the most scenic (even though it includes a few dirt road miles) and definitely the one I want to do most. It has the most climbing and descending, two significant river fords (Napeequa, Chiwawa) and goes over Spider Gap, which means a glacier/permanent snowfield climb and descent. It also circumnavigates Glacier Peak. This section of the PCT is highly scenic.

White River/Boulder Pass trail to the Napeequa, Little Giant Pass to the Chiwawa River, road and Phelps Creek to Spider Gap and Lyman Lakes, Cloudy Pass to Suiattle Pass and the PCT; ~51 miles on the PCT to Indian Pass and return to the White River via Indian Creek.

The Napeequa River valley; Boulder Pass is the obvious U-shaped feature upper left
Upper Spider Meadows
Spider Glacier/snowfield to the Gap
The Lyman side of Spider Gap
Views to the north from the PCT before descending toward the Suiattle River

East Pasayten 100 / Boundary Trail Main Route (Iron Gate to Harts Pass)

The Boundary Trail Main Route from Iron Gate following BT #533 to the PCT at Castle Pass, then south on the PCT to Harts Pass; 94-102m depending on which maps you use.

The not-Plain Entiat 100? (Loop from Chikamin Creek TH)

This is the only route that includes some high route sections and I don't yet have a solid idea on distance, though it's probably close to 100, maybe a little short. Covering almost all of the northern Entiat range though, it's definitely tough terrain.

Chikamin Creek to Chikamin Tie and Ridge, Garland Peak trail to Larch Lakes/Pomas Pass/Ice Creek. Entiat River to Ice Lakes HR, over saddle to Carne HR, south down Old Gib/Estes Butte, over Basalt Ridge and down Minnow Ridge to TH.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's time to run

From fall 2012 until November of this year I trained nonstop, never taking more than 10 days off at a time and that only was when recovering from races. After Plain, Spider Gap and then Carkeek, I needed a good break.

Five weeks off from running was fantastic. I worked out in the gym 4-5 days a week, had a fitness assessment to develop a good cross-training routine to mix in with running and got out for some fun hikes. I'll continue hiking and going to the gym for winter-spring, but this morning it felt great to be running again.

It's a good time to end the break as Dave and I will be sweeping the Deception Pass 50km next Sunday and the weekend after I'll be putting on the second annual Winter Solstice Longest Night group run, this year taking place on Chuckanut (last year was on Cougar).

Unfortunately I (and all my friends) came up snake eyes in the Western States and Hardrock lotteries yesterday. It's likely that after some early season races I'll do just for fun (Capitol Peak Fatass 50km in January, Yakima Skyline 50km in April) I'll focus on adventure runs for the whole summer and shoot for an end-of-season 100 miler like IMTUF or Plain again.

The break was also good for some free time to:

New tattoo, lucky #8: a panorama picture I took on Copper Ridge, North Cascades
Quick six-day trip to Mongolia...fingers crossed that the jetlag doesn't wake me up at 3am tonight
 Now, it's time to run!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Smooth and clean and frosty white..."

Almost done with a month-long rest from running and looking forward to getting back to it. Nice to share a hike with Swoish today, however brief; wonder where all the other people were?


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"November arrived, cold as frozen iron..."

Ethan, Kate and I knew it was going to be cold but were hoping that all the "clear" weather forecasts would deliver a little sunshine (and good views/visibility). Clouds sat over the Chiwaukum range all morning and into the afternoon, however, with a light snow falling for the first few hours. About 8" of fresh snow above Frosty Pass started to feel a little deep so the Ladies Pass loop will have to wait for another day...

A lot of very fresh blowdown on the Frosty Pass trail; trees were creaking and moaning all day
Upper Frosty Creek basin
Frosty Pass, 5800'
Snowgrass Mountain and the Wildhorse Creek drainage
Above Frosty Pass at ~6100'

Kate, Ethan, me
Icy log slide across a creek on the Frosty Creek trail

Monday, November 3, 2014

Carkeek 12-hour

Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, legs and feet have completely rejected the notions that: 1) the Carkeek 12-hour was actually fun; 2) Matt and Kerri Stebbins like the runners who sign up for their events; 3) stairs aren't really that bad; 4) all of the above.

I genuinely thought the mental aspect of running two-mile loops in a city park for 12 hours would be the hard part. Nope. My body gave out far earlier than my mind.

With 435' of gain per loop, 50 miles works out to have over 11,000' of gain, more than the White River course and more gain-per-mile than mountain 100-milers like Cascade Crest and Plain. The fact that most of it is runnable adds more hurt as the usual recovery hiking that a mid-packer like me gets to enjoy doesn't last longer than a hundred yards before you're running again.

Enough excuses, I hope?

In reality, besides the fact that I'm still limping around everywhere, I had a fantastic time. I got to run with friends (Paul, Dave, Matthew, Ian), meet new ones (Alex, Matt, Eric again, Russell), get cheered on by Sir-Hikes and co., see salmon spawning in Piper's Creek and for the first time ever someone asked me, "are you Luke from Seeking Ultra?"

After warming up for the first hour by headlamp with a small group I was feeling pretty good and probably pushed too hard for hours 2-6, as by the time I was getting past 30 miles I was starting to hurt good. Of the 28 large loops I did of the park, my fastest one came at miles 13-15 (lap 8). This probably coincided with the brief time that I was leading the race and adrenaline may have gotten the best of me; an aspect I don't usually deal with.

Alex (I swear he's The Hulk) Swenson is a beast and crushed the day; Eric, who I ran with at Deception Pass, pipped me in the last 15 minutes and finished second after I'd taken a seat for the day, bumping me down to 3rd place with 55+ miles and 12,870' of gain. Results should be here soon.

People wore crazy costumes all day (see Glenn's photos here) and Matt and Kerri put on a casual, friendly event. They've done wonders for Rainshadow's organization and logistics and I have a feeling that their own races are going to flourish even more as people see how wonderful they are, both as people and RDs. Thanks, you two.    

Some of the stairs that ended up thrashing my legs (and soul) after descending them thirty times
(28 via the large loop and two times on the small loop)
Cruising with Alex for a few hours
Going up wasn't too bad
One of two short flat sections, with Alex
Kerri keeping track of the loopiness
Paul swore this was a costume...