Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mount Defiance with Sir-Hikes-a-Lot

The weather window was not to be missed.

Sir-Hikes-a-Lot and I decided to stay local when we saw on the webcams that Newhalem and Diablo were getting snow. Mount Defiance (5,584') was a great choice and we went up via the Mason Creek trail (old route). Snow was fine up the creek trail and only 6-12" around the lake, starting to get deep above 4,200' (past the trail junction). Knee/thigh deep for the final vertical 200-300' to the summit.

We were treated to a calm and perfect summit...

Took the new trail back from the lake which is very well packed down, though not icy as of today.

Old Mason Creek Trail
Defiance on the way to Mason Lake
Mason Lake outlet crossing
15F, elevation was actually about 4,250'
Kaleetan and Chair from the SE ridge of Defiance
Rainier and a faraway Adams
Sir-Hikes-a-Lot doing the tough stuff
I just got to lollygag and enjoy the views
Final section to the summit; SHaL rocks the runners
Obligatory Big Mountain shot...
SHaL enjoying the summit

Kaleetan, Chair and Chikamin-Lema area beyond
Ever-recognizable Mt. Stuart
Full east (right) to west pano; Glacier and Baker both visible
Bellevue, Seattle, the sound and the Olympics
Descending around 5,300' with Mason Lake and Little Bandera

The new trail, heading down

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Favorites of 2014

I'm very fortunate and thankful that 2014 was another safe and fun year of outdoor adventures. New trails, new friends, a lot of wonderful memories... My mileage and gain stats aren't very interesting, but here are a few of the things I enjoyed most this year:

Favorite trails (new to me)

Stetattle Ridge, North Cascades

Looking south down Stetattle Ridge, September 2014
Boundary Trail, Pasayten Wilderness

Southern Bauerman Ridge on the Boundary Trail, June 2014
High Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Sir-Hikes-a-Lot at High Pass, October 2014; also one of my favorite pictures of the year

Favorite trail (repeat)

Copper Ridge, North Cascades

Whether it's a day hike to the lookout, the 55km loop including the ridge and Chilliwack River, or during a point-to-point outing, it's just a wonderful place to be.

Copper Ridge, August 2014
Uncle Pete on Copper Ridge, October 2012

Favorite pieces of gear (new)

Patagonia Strider Pro shorts and Meister Compression Sleeves

Thanks be to Dave for the shorts tip: nice lightweight material, large stretchy pockets and the drawcord on the outside! Every pair of shorts should be like that. I did remove the liner, but otherwise I wore these shorts on almost every long mountain run. Paul turned me onto the sleeves: half the price of some trail running brands and with better compression. Of course, who knows if they actually work, but I still wear them a lot and at the least my legs don't get too scratched up from PNW brush.

With all of my favorite gear, Spider Meadows, October 2014; Ethan's photo

Favorite pieces of gear (old)

Salomon S-Lab 12L vest and Pearl Izumi Trail N2 shoes

Two pieces of gear I wear on every long run. At least three other people I run with ended up buying the same pack; it's simply very solid and versatile. The N2s also are still working for me and a couple of contest-won pairs from Phil at 7 Hills helped out.

Shameless, I know...

Favorite post-run meal

'59er Diner, Coles Corner

This has to be a new ritual when headed to the Entiat-Leavenworth area. Ethan, Kate and I had two memorable meals there: me sleeping on the table; Ethan being quizzed by a server why he would order a beer and a milkshake; "Flo" giving us a Washington State Recreation Guide for Disabled Persons; and breakfast with milkshakes for dinner.

Favorite race

Has to be Plain. Though Gorge Waterfalls 100km is a very close second.

Me, Paul and TimG in Mad Meadow during Plain, September 2014; Will Thomas photo 
The finish line amenities

Favorite moment


Approaching Beaver Pass around 9am and 20 miles into my day, two grizzled characters were coming down the switchbacks toward me. The guy in front looked like an outdoor, bearded version of Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson, glasses included. With paddles sticking out of their hefty packs they were either doing some awesome pack rafting or were planning on going self-powered across Ross. As I got close to him, he emphatically said, "YEAH SON, GET IT!" It was not what I was expecting to hear, but it gave me a great shot of excitement that without exchanging any words, I felt like he understood what I was trying to do that day.

Favorite animal sighting

Spawning sockeye salmon, Indian Creek

I've seen spawning salmon before, but this was really special; August 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Solstice group night run 2014

Today is longer than yesterday!

Not only do I appreciate the fact that every day we'll be getting a little more light, but also that I have friends who honestly enjoy getting outdoors year-round. The second annual Winter Solstice group night run was an excellent time to get together for some night miles, in the rain of course, to unabashedly talk trail and ultra running for hours in the woods. Nothing like running Chuckanut Ridge in the dark!

Thank you to Kevin and Dave for taking pictures, Graham for choosing the route and the rest of the guys for coming out, ten in total: Paul, Justin, Will, Matthew, Richard and Ray.

Dave, Will, Luke, Paul, Graham, Justin, Richard, Ray, Matthew and Kevin
Chinscraper has totally been rerouted! The upper half is all banked switchbacks like a downhill MTB trail, sadly...
Chuckanut Ridge "views"
Deciding which trails to take for the last few miles
White Walkers Ultrarunners are coming...
Everyone survived, ankles intact  

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.