Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ruby Traverse









On Sunday July 14th Bethany and I completed the Ruby Crest Trail from South to North, starting at Harrison Pass and ending at Lamoille Canyon.  South of Elko, the Ruby mountain range is a remote, largely untraveled range within the Humboldt National Forest than runs in total about 90 miles.  The Ruby Traverse is an approx. 36-40 mile section that runs from Harrison Pass to Lamoille Canyon and includes a wide range of terrain from low elevation sagebrush and wildflowers to higher elevation passes and ridge lines.  We started at approx. 6:30am (MST) from Harrison Pass, parking at the pass itself and running the 2.8 miles up the 4WD double track to the proper trail head (which was a good call for our Subaru).  Kirk Thomas and his wife Judy had generously offered to shuttle us back from Lamoille Canyon to our car, which allowed us to not have to drive two vehicles or, alternatively, set up what would have been a very long bike ride back to our start point. Graciously, Kirk and Judy waited around for our sorry asses considerably longer than any of us anticipated, having to drive down canyon in the afternoon to get reception to check our Spot tracker updates.


My Suunto read 36 miles in total, which took us nearly 11.5 hrs given how slow-going sections of this route were with the snow conditions.  While the first 15 miles or so were generally snow free, from Overland Pass onward forward progress was significantly slowed given the conditions and associated route finding challenges. A couple steep snow fields necessitated some variation from the trail itself and added some spice to the day.  The trail itself is very well marked and easy to follow, however given that a majority of it was buried we were very grateful to have a gpx track to follow on Gaia. There will be plenty of snow on that route well into August by my estimation.

We didn't see a single other human being for the entire day, which was fairly remarkable, as well as a testament to the ongoing winter conditions at elevation.   As advertised, this route was absolutely stunning and quite challenging with approx. 10k elevation gain in total.















Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Recherche du temps perdu: 2019 Bighorn 100 mile

         “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” 
                                                                                                                                             ― Marcel Proust

That's right: I'm quoting Marcel Proust in a goddamned running blog, in the process hitting a new pinnacle of self-serious pretentiousness. 

It had been 3 years since I'd completed an ultramarathon race.  Rewinding the clock, I had bilateral achilles surgery in November 2016.  Recovery was more prolonged than anticipated, culminating in frustration, then an avowal to never run again, then a re-devotion to the bicycle.  A couple other big life changes included having kid #2, moving to New Zealand for a year and turning 40.  Along with other various and sundry details, these factors led to a relative de-prioritization of endurance pursuits, at least insofar as athletic variants are concerned.  I lasted 9 months of no running and then started up again very gently without much expectation.  We returned to Utah this past September and I gradually increased my running for a couple months before taking off the whole winter to focus on Nordic skiing.  I resumed running in late March/ early April and finished the Bosho marathon, my longest run in 3 years.  This run plus two 20 mile runs were the longest efforts I did in preparation for the Bighorn 100.  This fact didn't sink in for me until about 2 days before the race when I realized I might be in trouble.  

I reassured myself with facts: 
1.  I'd completed some of these things in the past, including some hard ones.
2.  Pretty much anyone can walk slowly for surprising lengths of time given sufficient will.
3.  There were no big ambitions at stake here other than to notch a finish at this one.  

The Bighorn 100 mile involves a spectacular and remote out-and-back route through the Little Bighorn and Tongue River areas of the Bighorn National Forest.  Of organized races I've taken part in perhaps only a couple can rival this event for pristine wilderness ambience.  The difficult route was made even tougher when 2 heavy rain falls early on in the event turned the entire course into shoe-sucking mud, making even the most runnable sections frustratingly slow going.  I had gone out solo with no pacers and no crew support.

Contrary to - well- every other race I've done in my life, I took my time here deliberately: stopping in every aid station to sit down, get serviced by aid station volunteers, eat noodles and watermelons and chips, the works.  Previously the only scenario where this would occur in a race situation was when the wheels had fully come off.  While I felt the dispositional capacity to have competitive thoughts, or inhabit a competitive attitude, that possibility remained remote and seemed frankly silly.  

Like every other long distance endeavor I've done I experienced several circumscribed moments of emotional intensity.  Call these transcendent moments, peak experiences, flow states, what have you- several things are clear: 1. these moments seemingly come out of the blue and take your breath away with feelings of awe and gratitude, and 2. these moments inevitably pass, to be replaced with the more predominant sensations characteristic of ultra running centered entirely around foot pain, nausea, complete dreadful attention to distance to the next aid station, when you should eat another awful gel, and a general sense of ambivalence as to whether this activity- slogging slowly and absurdly through the night at 20% aerobic capacity for no apparent reason- makes any sort of sense if you are not driven by (albeit equally arbitrary) time goals or performance goals.  There is a deep lesson here about our own minds and about our attachment to certain kinds of experience.   

In any event, the time passed, as it always does, and I finished the damn thing in 25:44, 11th place overall.  


              “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 
                                                                                                                                                       ― Marcel Proust

All photos courtesy of Mile 90 photography.





Saturday, July 28, 2018

NZ Months #9, #10

Some good adventures over the last 2 months including a backpacking trip with Ada on the Mt. Sommer's track with friends.  Bethany and Junie turned back on day #1, which turned out to be a smart move given a dramatic turn in the weather with full on winter conditions.  Our hike out was 7 hrs of full on freezing rain/snow and exposed ridge lines. Ada was a total champ.  Some fun local events and then a week long trip to Fiji.

Found a big juicy coconut in Fiji.

I know I said I'd never attend another sporting event but I was convinced by the family to go to this rugby game.  Inconsistency is the hobgoblin of weak minds.

another sunrise from our house.




Ada, Bella, and Zac

Bethany, Junie, and Grant 

Another xc race for Ada.

Flagstaff run.

ibid

Backpacking trip on Mt. Sommers track 










snowy run over Flagstaff

little imp


Junie turns 1!

Dunedin mid winter festival

Mt. Cargill run with Bethany.

Family in Fiji.

gathering coconuts






run with Grant on Cargill


Bethany, getting back to her speedy roots at the park run 5k.