Blue Lake Moon

Most summers we attempt, or at least talk up attempting, a night ascent of Mt. Audubon.  Some years, it’s amazing and beautiful.  Some years, it’s horrific type-3 fun.

The 2015 edition looked good in weather forecast, but less good in feet-on-the-trailhead conditions (moderate rain).  Still, we’d driven all this way, I activated a show-the-flag Plan B and we saddled up for a short run up the Mitchell Lake trail to at least see what might happen.

Clearly it had been raining for a while because there were serious puddles all over the trail and everything was soaked.  However, by the time we got to Mitchell Lake, the sky was clearing, the moon was out, and it was clearly not raining anymore.  By the time we got to Blue Lake…

Blue Lake, Mt. Toll, and Arcturus (photo by Kate)

Blue Lake, Mt. Toll, and Arcturus (photo by Kate)

Mitchell Lake, Mt. Audubon, and Ursa Major (photo by Kate).

Mitchell Lake, Mt. Audubon, and Ursa Major (photo by Kate).

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Snow Pass Circuit

Paintbrush and Snow Peak

Paintbrush and Snow Peak

My fascination with the Gore Range is well known and has, so far, been well rewarded. It’s a range of jagged mountains in Summit and Eagle Counties less than two hours from the Denver Metro area, yet a lack of 14ers or easy access means that hardly anyone knows of it. There aren’t any conventional guidebooks and no single map does a decent job of covering this complicated and confusing area. I started at the relatively well-known southern end of the range in 2011 and have been slowly working my way north and west each season. At this rate, I’ll stay happy and curious for another decade at least!

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Beehive

Ooooh!  Sign me up!

Ooooh! Sign me up!

When I was a kid, my family used to visit Acadia National Park reasonably frequently.   I remember vividly when I was six or seven hiking up Beehive Mountain with my sister (4) and parents.  It was such a cool hike!  We went straight up a cliff on iron rungs pounded into the rock and narrow ledges.

This time around, it struck me that my son was six or seven and… well, I like closure.  Since we had built-in grandparental child care, the three year old was left with my folks while Amy, Joe, and I climbed the Beehive.  It’s a tiny mountain, barely 500 feet tall, but the views are amazing straight down onto the beach and there’s the via ferratta aspect, of course. Continue reading

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Stomping Ground

Tuckerman's Ravine from near HoJos.

Tuckerman’s Ravine from near HoJos.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in northern New Hampshire, surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest, with the Presidentials looming on the southern horizon. Technically, the famous Mt. Washington was in my home zip code. In terms of east-coast mountains, this is as big and bold as it gets. We climbed up and down it and on the surrounding mountains many times in the Scouts and after I came home from college. Even after two decades living elsewhere, including 12 years living amongst mountains twice as tall or more, the old rock pile is a source of great home-town pride for me.

Crystal Cascade half a mile in on the ascent.

Crystal Cascade half a mile in on the ascent.

I’ve always been fit, but I wasn’t particularly athletic or ambitious until my mid-20s. Somewhere in the midst of grad school, I got bitten, in rapid succession, by the rock climbing, back packing, and caving bugs. Then I moved to Colorado and became a mountaineer and trail runner. Mighty deeds were done in the larger-scale geography out here, but in the back of my mind was always my home-town hill. How fast could I go up there with my new light-weight style and with Colorado-trained lungs and legs? Finally I got the chance this summer and it was… interesting.

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Momentum: 100 miles in the Bighorn Mountains and Other Places

Mile 59: Dawn of a new day.

Mile 59: Dawn of a new day.

I signed up for this race because it has an 11 am start and I could get a good night’s sleep beforehand. So why am I wide awake now at 3? Oh, right. Eight months of twice-my-usual-volume training, eight days of stressing over logistics, and eight hours of driving across state lines, all comes down to the next 30-something hours. My first hundred-mile race and hopefully my first entry into the big belt buckle club. Or maybe not. Did I train well enough? I’m certainly well above the level needed for any of my previous 50-mile races. I’ve been having some intestinal issues lately. What about those weird knee twinges I had on Monday and Tuesday?

A lot of things to worry about, packed very efficiently.

A lot of things to worry about, packed very efficiently.

Oy, why can’t I sleep!? What if I can’t get a good night’s sleep the night before? There are so many decisions that could be wrong. Is changing shoes at mile 82 the right strategy or should I have planned on changing them at mile 67 instead? Did I remember to put the Body Glide in that drop bag? What about the time cut-offs at the different aid stations? Is my projected timeline realistic? What happens if I have to drop out at some point? Be honest, it’s a very real possibility. Will I have the fortitude and forgiveness to try this again or will I have to live with my DNF for the rest of my days? I’ve done all the pieces, but never put them all together. Will I have the heart to go through all this training again? Eight hours until go time. Plenty of time to think about it.

Brian and I at the start.  Nope, no nerves here.

Brian and I at the start. Nope, no nerves here.

Fast-forward seven and a half of those hours and we’re sitting in rapidly-shrinking puddles of shade in the tall grass, marinading in sunscreen, nerves, and over-jovial starting line buzz. It’s hot and only getting hotter and the late-morning start is seeming a little excessive now. Maybe a 9 am would have been sufficient. Minutes to go and all I can think of is the volumes of advice I’ve gleaned from friends, gurus, and books: “If you think you’re going too slow, slow down.” “The best way to run 100 miles is to take it really easy for the first hundred miles.” “Relentless forward progress.” “You can’t bank time in an ultra.” “Win one for the Gipper.” “With your shield or on it!” Continue reading

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Bighorn, the short-attention-span version

bighorn_logoIt’s going to take a little while to muddle up a coherent enough reaction to Bighorn to post here.  So for those of you following with baited breath (if any), here’s the short short version.  Race went pretty well.  There were highs and lows and emotional breakdowns and feet that look like hamburger.  I finished in 31:21 under my own power, with my shield not on it.

More news and photos in a week or so.  In the meantime, here’s the finish photo:10499501_10206837387195212_4809560704706549814_o

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Bighorn Preview, Part Duh.

bighorn_logoAm I ready?  I have no idea.  I’ve run a lot in the past eight months; 900 miles just in the first 24 weeks of 2015.  This is about twice the volume I’ve ever done before, even on “big” years.  Certainly I’m more than ready for any of my previous 50-milers.  Am I ready for two in a row?  I’ve done all the components; let’s see if I can put them all together when it counts.  

Put another way, I’m more than ready to get this thing over with.  The training obsessively has been fun and I feel great – light, fast, tough, and prepared.  But I really need to devote some time to job and family (not necessarily in that order).  Summer is rapidly approaching half done.  Once I can see past this race, there will be all sorts of fun.

Will I ever do this sort of thing again?  Will Amy ever allow me to do this sort of thing again?  No data.

See y’all on the flip side!

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