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Showing posts from July, 2011

Lone Peak

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I am starting to fall behind in my blogging. Sometimes I just like to update my digital scrapbook before it's too late. On Wednesday I joined my dad and his friend Tom for a trek up Lone Peak. The Lone Peak massif is an icon of my childhood. It was the mountain I looked up toward every day on my way to school. I'm not sure when I began to fantasize about climbing Lone Peak. Probably as soon as I was old enough to dream about climbing mountains. I finally did for the first time when I was 17 years old. What looks like a moderately tough hike on paper - 12 miles, 6,000 feet of climbing to an elevation of 11,250 feet - is in reality a relentless taskmaster of a mountain that starts out mean, adds an obstacle course into the mix, and wraps it all up with some butt-cheek-clenching exposure. After 14 years and a not-too-shabby endurance resume, this route has seriously not gotten any easier. And yet, it's still just as beautiful and fulfilling ...

The stairway to heaven, Jacob…

My night on the PCT

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Simplicity. To pare life down to its basic necessities. This is the very reason I love backpacking and bicycle touring so much. And, paradoxically, it's also my largest obstacle to embarking on overnight and multiday excursions. I don't particularly enjoy poring over gear options and I'm especially resistant to the planning part of any trip. In my perfect world, a backpack full of gear and food would materialize and I would just pick it up and wander off into the mountains with no clue where I was or where I was going. Of course, if you want to return in good condition or at least alive, a plan-free trip is simply not realistic. But on Monday morning, as I tapped away at my computer and contemplated a hiking binge week, I wondered about the real possibility of an overnight, nearly-plan-free backpacking trip.

Keep it simple. I wrapped up my work and went to my gear closet to pull out my summer sleeping bag (down, rated to 20 degrees), Thermarest and bivy sack. A down coat, h…

When it pays to not stay put

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Beat flew to Europe on Sunday, leaving me with a full week of solo time. I had one deadline to hit and always other things I should work on, train for, or otherwise make good use of my time trying to finish. But then my dad acquired a permit for the Narrows in Zion National Park for this coming Friday. I've never hiked the Narrows; I've always wanted to, and I thought - why not make a whole trip out of it?

I worked hard and late all day Sunday and early Monday to finish up my one mandatory project, and hit the road at 2:30 p.m. Leaving California is always a chore. I basically sat in traffic for 150 miles. But once I cleared Auburn, I was free.

I will write more later but I thought I'd post a few pictures of the trip so far. I embarked on an amazing spontaneous overnight trip on the Pacific Crest Trail near Truckee, Calfornia. I started hiking from Donner Pass at 6:30 p.m., camped seven miles from the trailhead, hiked/ran nine more out to Granite Chief Wilderness and back …

Recovery binge

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How does one recover from an 80-mile, 28-hour, pain-soaked mountain running odyssey? I woke up early Monday so stiff that I had to summon my last remnants of courage just to roll out of bed. I spent a fair portion of the morning lurking near my overturned luggage, stockpiling motivation and energy just to haul my laundry downstairs and clean out my race gear. I spent the afternoon muddling — no, flailing — through a sleep-deprived fog in a futile bid to try to get some work done. On Tuesday, I was slightly more productive until I tried to ride over to Google to meet Beat. My still-swollen feet throbbed in my bike shoes and my right IT band was stiff and painful, to the point where I opted to pedal most of the last six miles home with my left leg only. On Wednesday, I dozed off for a morning nap that dragged on until 1 p.m., and by the time I emerged from 11-plus hours of sleep, I could almost walk with a normal stride again.

When I woke up on Thursday, I felt the strangest sensation. I…

TRT 100: When trying isn't enough

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The short story of my Tahoe Rim Trail 100 experience is that I missed a late checkpoint cutoff and timed out at mile 80. I was unceremoniously swept from the course after a night-long battle with sore feet — about 15 percent of the pain was caused by blisters and 85 percent by a deeper soreness that made every step feel like I was hitting the bottom of my feet progressively harder with a hammer. I really wanted to finish this race and I tried to gut it out. The ginger-stepping slowed me down too much, and by the time I realized my pace wasn't going to cut it, it was too late. But I genuinely tried, and I think that's what makes the DNF particularly disappointing. I ate well, I felt strong, I loved the course and I ran as smart of a pace as I could maintain. I gave this race my best effort, and that simply wasn't good enough.

But that's the short story. The long story is a richer and more variable journey that I'm grateful to have experienced. The Tahoe Rim Trail 100…

Sleeping is giving in

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I had planned to turn around at 45 minutes, but that was before the wind really picked up speed. Erratic gusts buffeted the bike from all sides, whistling through the vents in my helmet and causing the wheels to teeter ever so slightly in the midst of the uphill grind. I admit it was kind of exciting, so I continued climbing. The wind carried a surprisingly strong chill. It was 65 degrees in the valley, probably high 50s up here, and the wind made it feel like something closer to 45. A spark of cold realization made me think about the upcoming weekend; I shivered with anticipation and tried to push those thoughts aside by shifting up a few gears and cranking a little harder. As I approached the ridge, a jet stream of fog tore across the hillsides seemingly inches from the top of my helmet. The wind, having finally chosen a clear eastward direction, howled with the intensity of a sonic blast as seemingly benign white clouds streamed past at astonishing speeds. It was a strange sort of …

Simply perfect

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I wasn't going to ride tonight, taper and all, but during the late afternoon I found myself caught up in a spiral of unproductivity and decided there's really only one way to break free of a spiral like that.

I only had time for the usual road climb, the one I do so often that I find myself racing myself ("Last time I reached the gate in 53 minutes. Have to hit sub-52 this time. Crank! Crank! Crank! Shoot, I'm under 8 mph again. Crank! Crank! Crank!") So, of course, I purposefully left my GPS watch at home. The weather was beautiful, 70 degrees and sunny. Of course, it's always sunny here. I have to scold myself for not appreciating the persistently blue skies more than I do, especially because I was sun-deprived in Alaska for so many years. But today I was genuinely grateful. The afternoon sunlight tinted the trees and pavement in rich, almost metallic colors, and there were vibrant summer flowers everywhere. How come I never noticed these along to road befor…

Tapering just means more time to panic

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Beat and I did a couple simple taper efforts this weekend. They were simple, but in a strange way not easy. I was sucking wind for most of the hour-long climb during our 30-mile road ride, and again today during our eight-mile trail run in Berkley (we had brunch with my dad's friend in San Francisco and decided to visits Beat's former haunts from the two years he lived there.) Beyond the fact that I ate three chocolate chunk pancakes, an empanada, a fritata and a slice of berry torte and then ran eight miles ... I'm still a bit baffled as to why I didn't feet more stellar. I've been taking it easy all week and the weather has been mild. I should be in full taper manic mode by now. Beat and I have been conducting an altitude-acclimating, hypoxic training experiment with a specialized face mask for 60 minutes each evening for the past few weeks, which might explain while my lungs felt so tired while my legs felt strong. But still, there's less than a week now un…