Monday, October 06, 2008

Another beautiful day on Jumbo

Date: Oct. 6
Mileage: 12.1
October mileage: 146.2

It's hard to overemphasize just how inspiring/healthy/revitalizing the mountains around Juneau have been for me this summer. I haven't focused on training for any specific event since the 24 Hours of Light in June. (Well, OK, I did have a few weeks in August where I labored under the delusion that I could climb my way to adequate fitness for Trans Utah. I have since learned that, even if I had gotten the time off work to participate in this event, I would have showed up for it woefully, woefully undertrained.)

But, in general, no training means I can wake up in the morning and do whatever I feel like doing. If the morning has hints or even tiny flecks of possibility for nice weather, I head up high. The result has been lots of time in the mountains, working up a deep sweat in the woods until I reach the alpine ceiling with its vast spread of open space. I spend as much time up there as I can manage, devouring a feast of color and light until I'm convinced I'll never feel hungry again. When I come back down, I feel stronger and more fit than I think I ever have.

It's hard to compare my fitness right now to what it typically is in, say, February, which since I started serious training has always been my peak month. But compared to the end of any summer I can remember, I feel like I'm at my strongest right now. I can hold an 80-minute pace up Mount Jumbo comfortably. I used to just survive my way down the mountain, but now I can practically run. My formerly wobbly knees have finally achieved strength and stability that can take all the hard downhill pounding (too bad the rest of me is still as clumsy as ever.) But beyond just the hiking, my cycling fitness has stayed strong. My experiences on the Golden Circle proved to me that I have come a long way since last year - despite my lack of any real focus on endurance cycling throughout most of the summer. Who needs training when you have mountains?

Today's hike came in under three hours, probably a personal best. There was still plenty of time for pictures:

These ptarmigans are about halfway between their summer and winter plumage, which, as you can see, is still perfect camouflage for the season.

There was a light dusting of snow above 3,000 feet. I don't think this snow even made it through the afternoon.

As is usually the case with Mount Jumbo, the clouds didn't start to clear until I was on my way back down.

Why yes, now that you mention it, I do take a lot of pictures of myself on top of peaks.

I think my newer camera may be broken. I charged up the battery but the camera still shuts off instantly after I turn it on. I stuck the battery in my old Olympus today. I'm not going to be real happy if this one has to be my main camera again. The viewing screen is so scuffed up that I basically can't see the image in any kind of sunlight. It's hard to frame a shot with no viewfinder.

I have had friends ask me why I never take pictures of the city. There you have it - the city. We're expecting our first sea-level frost tonight. I just realized that I haven't yet purchased a set of 29" studded tires. Anyone have any recommendations for a set that can be used both for commuting and riding on frozen lakes?