Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 dreams, winter

Well, it's the middle of January and I'm well overdue in the blogger department of "listing my goals for the coming year." Because if you write it out, you're more likely to at least try most of it. And of course adventure plans have been on my mind quite a bit since the year started. I recently went to see my doctor about a large lump on my big toe. He diagnosed it as a ganglion cyst and used a giant shiv of a needle to drain out an impressive quantity of gelatinous goo. The cyst is benign but has the potential to come back and cause issues, so as a precaution he took me off running for a week (I talked him down to four days after asserting my need to be mobile during a trip to Yosemite this coming weekend.)

 I'd planned to start ramping up my running miles this week, as I have 100K race coming up in mid-March. But, ah well. I've enjoyed some wonderful afternoons on my road bike. Today I caught a wave of inspiration and veered off the pavement onto the Waterwheel Creek Trail, a scenic fire road that contours the hillside. It was a beautiful, frosty evening with the last wisps of sunlight refracted by a haze over the mountains, and I enjoyed the extra time up high. Also, it's invigorating to grind steep gravel on skinny tires. I can understand why my friend Leah likes to ride her cross bike so much.


 But yes, back to the 2013 dreams. I believe it will be another great year of pushing my limits in places far outside my comfort zone. This could draw out into a very long blog post, so I'll start with winter. Both Beat's and my focus for the winter is centered around Beat's plan to walk to Nome, a thousand miles on the Iditarod Trail. He expects it will take about a month, and I am planning to spend that time in Alaska. Still, I've had a difficult time formulating my own plans. I want to take advantage of that window to embark on some great adventures. But at the same time, I want to be present should Beat have any issues, and I also want to be aware of what's going on in his journey. This desire excludes the possibility of doing a larger trip of my own, and I'm fine with that. I plan to break my own trip up into smaller adventures, in hopes that I don't stay out of contact for too long. So I've drafted a list of "maybe adventures," most of them tentative and dependent on weather, trail conditions, and logistics.

February 24: Iditarod Trail Invitational starts. Of course I'll be there for that.

Week One: Iditarod Trail snow bike tour. It would be strange for me to go a whole year without venturing up the Yentna River at least once. Since there's no Susitna 100 this year, I'd still love to tour in the Susitna Valley. The quiet time between the start of the ITI and the start of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race would be a good time to embark on a short out-and-back bike tour of the Iditarod Trail. Even if I just ride to Skwentna and back, it would be awesome, but in good conditions I could potentially make it a little farther. I'm thinking two to three nights, Tuesday though Friday.

Week Two: Running and hiking in the Chugach. I also hope to embark on a two-day sled run on the Resurrection Pass Trail. The Res Pass run is highly dependent on weather conditions, and if I ran solo, would need to be an out and back — about 38 miles total either way. I'd love to reserve the cabin on the pass and run/snowshoe up to the high country before descending the next day.

Week Three: Snow bike tour of the Denali Highway. This is something I'm working on planning with two friends from Whitehorse — riding 135 miles in three to four days along the winter snowmobile trail in the shadow of the eastern Alaska Range. We'd likely "comfort tour" the trail and stay backcountry lodges at least two of the nights, with one night of winter camping. This adventure is dependent on whether my friends commit; there's no way I can attempt it alone (a long shuttle is involved, among other issues.) If it doesn't work out, one consolation prize would be a trip to Juneau. Tough break, I know.

March 16: The Homer Epic 100K. My only winter race on the calendar, but it's not an easy one. Still, the course was too intriguing to resist. I lived in Homer from 2005 to 2006, and back when I was training for my very first race ever — the Susitna 100 — I would ride my mountain bike on some of the same trails used in the course. It's an undeniably beautiful place, with great trails. I plan to compete in the 100K on foot, carrying a large day pack rather than dragging a sled. I still need to plot my plan of attack, but if conditions are favorable I hope to actually *run* on this course. And if trail or weather conditions are not favorable, it should be a wonderful 100-kilometer snowshoe hike. Either way, I'm there and can't wait.

Week Four: Trip to Nome. This one is more of a pipe dream. Airfare could be prohibitive, but I would love to fly with my Fatback to Nome and ride around the region as I wait for Beat to arrive in town. I might even be able to construct a bike tour on the Iditarod Trail if I have enough time. I've never been to Alaska's western coast, and would love a chance to visit.

Also, if you are going to be in Southcentral Alaska during this time and have any interest in joining me, or perhaps inviting me on one of your adventures, please get in touch. I'd love to have company. If all goes well it will be a fantastic, exhausting month ... all the better to kickstart the wide-eyed hopes for spring and summer.