Monday, January 26, 2015

Umtanum loop with Ben and Ethan

Oh, how naive we were, thinking the east side would be wonderfully dry and perfect running terrain! We planned for some cross-country travel and light bushwhacking, but did not expect unrunnable mud for close to 10 miles of our day...

None of us had been out on Yakima-area trails, it seemed like a fun option. Ben put together an adventurous outing doing the first two climbs (~11 miles) of the Skyline Rim 50k course, and then utilizing "dirt" roads, steppe-shrub wandering, canyon-bottom shwhacking and a few miles of trail to create a nice 27-mile loop.

It was a good sign that Ethan, Ben and I were able to laugh and smile about it all day. We had great views north to the Stuart Range, west/south to Rainier, Adams and Hood, saw a lot of deer and two bighorn sheep, went up and down through the inversion fog and escaped the day largely unscathed.

Ben and Ethan, starting out under the inversion fog
Ethan, coming up the first climb to Umtanum Ridge
The Stuart Range; Alpine Lakes peaks further west (Chikamin, Lemah, Summit Chief, Bear's Breast?)
Shoe-deadening, slip-and-slide mud
Descending Umtanum Ridge to Roza Creek, second climb in the upper-left 
Aforementioned second climb...

Inversion fog seeping over a low ridge
Top of the second climb, heading west down the ridge with Rainier
Little bit of cross country
Our route from the top of the second climb (center-left) followed the ridge down, then one mile of cross country to hit         Old Durr Road; taken from near the top of western Umtanum Ridge
Our trail-less descent into upper Umtanum Creek canyon
I think we forded the creek eight times in the upper section before reaching the real trail
A few prickly items, but not bad for the two miles to reach the trail
Columnar-basalt in upper Umtanum Creek canyon

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass 50k

Well, at least the company was good! If not for Kevin and Paul the Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass yesterday would have been even more miserable than it was....and it was mighty miserable...

The first two or three hours were actually pretty good, but from mile 18ish to the finish was a consistent mix of ankle-to-shin-deep mud, trough puddles and cold rain that amply compensated for any enjoyment we experienced during the first half. Somehow Ethan must have levitated over all of it, finishing practically half a day before we did.

Thanks to Kevin for snapping a few weather-appropriate pictures during the day, and to Paul for logging another ultra together.

Kevin's beard and Paul, early in the day
Me and Paul, still early
Mile 13 or so?
Around mile 20, when things started to get ugly
Kevin, me, Paul; "smiling"
But maybe it was just the kick in the butt, or slide in the mud, that was necessary for me to more seriously start on a structured spring to be prepared for the goals of summer. After five weeks off from running (November to early December) and then mostly hiking with one or two runs a week (mid December-January) it feels like time to start putting some fitness together. Consistent weekday runs and getting back in the weekend-long-run rhythm will be good and much needed for some of the outings I'd like to do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stetattle Ridge with Dave

Every Wednesday should be like this.

It seemed like today was the last of the weather window and luckily I was able to use a vacation day to venture out with Dave to experience some of my favorite views in the North Cascades. After my trip here in September it was obvious a winter outing would be in order.

The snow was in perfect shape: no snowshoes needed, nice and firm for walking and kicking steps on any steeper sections. It felt hard to call it winter though when you're in short sleeves at 6500' in January.

I guess it should be expected on a weekday in winter, but we had the whole mountain/ridge to ourselves, which was a real treat.

Opening up on the very southern end of Stetattle
Stetattle Ridge (r), Luna, Elephant Butte, Fury, southern Pickets, Davis 

Dave with Colonial, Primus group, Logan, Thunder Creek Valley, Buckner, Red and Ruby
Jack and Crater, which Dave and I ran around during the Devils Dome loop
Central Stetattle Ridge

Chilliwack group: Redoubt, Mox Peaks, Spickard

McMillan Spires, Inspiration, Degenhardt and Azure Lake

Colonial-Snowfield group

Done by 2:30pm!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter in Plain

As winter rolls in many of the Entiat-area roads close to vehicles and turn into nordic/snowmobile trails. We only saw five snowmobiles and mostly had the entire day to ourselves. It was fun to see the Plain area in a new season and I'd love to get back there again during another clear spell.

Road 6101 is bermed at the junction with 6102 (just past Deep Creek), so we parked there and went up to Maverick Saddle where Ethan and I made a quick trip south on the Sugarloaf road and then did a little schwack up to the top of the ridge. We were aiming for point 5260' but didn't quite make it far enough south before heading up. The top of the ridge was an old burn, so there were too many downed trees to try moving south on the ridge top. With Kate waiting at the saddle, we headed back down and it was off to The Diner...

Kate skinning; Enchantment area with Cashmere in the background
Chiwawa Ridge and Glacier Peak, I think, getting some sun
Ethan and Kate
Enchantment area, Cashmere and Stuart in back
Ethan @ Beyond the Ranges
On the ridge above Sugarloaf road
Heading back to Maverick Saddle
Whittier Peak (l) and Mt. David (r)
The Chiwaukum Range
Maverick Saddle
Chiwaukum (r) to the Enchantments, with Big Jim and Cashmere prominent in between
Looking over the Glacier Peak Wilderness 100 route

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pearl Izumi

It's no secret: I've really enjoyed the Pearl Izumi Trail N2 since I got my first pair in April, 2013. I've purchased at least six pairs since then as well as a good selection of their Ultra clothing line which I wear regularly.  

So, back in October, I mailed in an old-school paper application to be a brand ambassador. I emailed some of their (now former) elites and also the individual who was in charge of the team/ambassadors. Dylan Bowman was very kind in his encouraging response, but alas, I never heard anything back and then was quite surprised when they announced their "ChamPIon" program in November while disbanding their Ultra Team. Without any concrete information as to why they made that decision, and since I really like their products, I took my letter and cut it down to fit the new online application and hit submit.

I have no illusions about becoming "fast" or trying to beat people and win a race. Those are not the reasons why I got into mountain-ultra-trail running.

A majority of the runs I am most proud to have completed were not races. Champion, even spelled with a "PI," is not a word I feel is very applicable to me. That is one of the things I love about the ultra community: a true sense of kinship.

While personally the terminology may not describe me very well, I am very happy to be part of the Pearl Izumi program for 2015. A quick Twitter search showed that many, many others also were selected and I hope Pearl Izumi will support us each contributing what we can to this broadly-defined sport.

For me, that means hopefully experiencing a lot of fun, scenic and challenging mountain outings and sharing them on this blog. It's been almost two years since I started writing this little site, before I'd even run my first ultra. I hope at least a few of you are enjoying reading it and that my trip reports are useful in planning and, most importantly, getting out there yourself.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading.


On Devil's Dome, North Cascades; Dave's photo

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