Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Circumnav Success!

Wow, what an adventure we had this weekend!

So after a really slow start Friday evening (last minute gear gathering, fun Seattle traffic, etc., etc., etc.), we finally got out to the trailhead sometime around 9pm that night. Then after a few more snafus there (including realizing we not only weren't on the right trail but not even at the right trailhead), we finally got going in earnest at about 11pm Friday night.

We cruised through the night that night and had 1 fun bear encounter somewhere in the dark hours. He was right in the middle of the trail and just didn't want to go anywhere, so we waited it out a bit, made lots of noise, etc., and finally just went for it. Fortunately he finally decided to move. We saw one more bear Saturday morning, but not quite so close an encounter. The miles clicked by slowly but surely, and the scenery was absolutely spectacular.

Onward we went, and we pressed on into Saturday night hoping for smoother trails and staying on track. We got lost several significant times, and the trail was very slow going for long sections with many huge blowdowns, and hard to find trail. The size of some of the trees out there was mind-boggling! We also met some really fun through hikers on the PCT on Saturday who were really encouraging, and were very near the end of their much longer trek (2200 miles!).

We saw our second sunrise Sunday morning, and we knew we were finally within striking distance of the end. We were both hurting pretty bad by then, and happy to be nearing the end, and closer to getting back home to our wives. Arriving back at the car safe and sound was a huge relief, but we then realized we still had about a 3 hour drive ahead of us back to Seattle. I felt surprisingly awake, so hopped in the driver's seat, mixed up a fresh bottle of phix, and hit the road. We made it back home safely, and ate well that night with a delicious celebratory bbq meal with our wives and friends. Then we passed out. Hard.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Glacier Peak Adventure!

Well, Brock and I are embarking on a weekend adventure tonight. We're headed up to the Glacier Peak area, and we're going to circumnavigate it! You may be familiar with the Wonderland Trail that goes around Mt. Rainier, and we're shooting to do something similar. Since the Wonderland Trail is still pretty washed out from flooding etc., Brock figured out this adventure last week. Linking several trails together (including a chunk of the PCT), we'll be able to loop around Glacier Peak for about a 95 mile run. This is in super remote territory, and we'll be prepared for most anything, but it should be an incredible run. We won't pass a single road in that entire loop, and the views should be spectacular. Looks like the weather will likely cooperate too, and it should be a fantastic weekend.

My trench feet are significantly better and I'm hoping won't be a problem for this. I'm packing plenty of dry socks to change into, so I'll be super careful about that. I'm also wearing some great new North Face shoes called the Chinscrapers that are really comfortable and water resistant, which should help a lot on this remote terrain. Brock will be trying out the same shoes, so should be fun.

Interestingly enough, I just stumbled upon this little video link on the North Face site where I talk about how to prepare for a backcountry run. Hmmm, seems very apropos for me to heed my own advice right about now!

Have a great weekend, and we'll be back soon full of stories and photos I'm sure!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Busy Weekend

The trench feet are recovering slowly but surely, but fortunately I've found another outlet for the past few weeks other than running. Sure, I've been doing a few miles here and there but am mostly letting my feet breathe and rest, and focusing on our new house project. So, the house construction skills I honed on the Mississippi coast rebuilding homes after Hurricane Katrina are coming in handy quite a bit lately. We started a big remodel in our house over Labor Day weekend, and I'll walk you through it with some pictures. We have a sunroom in our house that previously had external walls that were literally made out of foam, believe it or not. Needless to say, we got pretty cold in there in the winter, so we decided to rip all that stuff out and make a nice new insulated room! Kirsten was out of town Labor Day weekend and Kirsten's dad Eric came down from Bellingham to lend his expertise and another set of hands. So we hammered out quit a bit that weekend. Before he arrived, I completed the demo portion of things, which made the room go from this;

to this;

Then Eric came to town and we went to town on framing and then sheeting and wrapping in tyvek;

Then popping in some windows and an exterior door, and we were moving right along;

So that's the update for now, but we made some more huge progress this weekend, and it's been really fun. Lots of work, but lots of fun. It's been a great distraction from not running for sure!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cancelled race = big change of plans!

Well Kirsten and I were planning on going on a fun weekend trip to Washington, D.C. this past weekend to tackle The North Face Endurance Challenge race. I ran the 50 mile race there last year, and had a really fun time despite the incredible heat. This year they moved the date of the race forward by a month or so making for slightly cooler temps, which we were definitely excited about. Unfortunately, that move seemed to also put the race squarely in the middle of hurricane season, and this past weekend just wasn't the weekend to be having a race in that area.

So after what I know must have been an extremely tough decision, North Face decided to cancel the race for the safety of all runners involved. Though the weather may have been a factor in the cancellation, I know the most significant factor was the sudden loss of emergency response support crew, as all the folks that were slated to be on board for the race suddenly were called down to North Carolina to support emergency response efforts there after they declared a state of emergency. So, Hurricane Hanna won out (and rightly so), and we ended up staying here in Seattle for the weekend. Kirsten was especially bummed as she was really well trained and ready for the 50k race. For me, I wasn't that bummed at all about the race being canceled. Although I was signed up for the 50 miler, with my trench feet still just as nasty as ever, I was just planning to do my best at hobbling through the 10k. So in actuality it was probably all for the best that I didn't do that after all. But, Kirsten and I were both the most disappointed about not going to D.C. because we were so excited to see my brother and his family there. My brother and his wife have 1 son David who is about 7, and then 3 boys (Blake, Gavin, and Preston) and 1 girl (Sarah) who all just turned 2! We haven't seen all our wonderful nephews and niece in over a year, and were so excited to spend the weekend with them. But we will work on planning a trip there to just hang out and spend time with them sometime soon for sure- they are all far too adorable not too go for a visit!

Many folks who were signed up for the race this past weekend were really angry with North Face and the race directors, etc., but it seems that once people actually saw the huge storm that came upon Virginia last Saturday, they did an about face and realized it was indeed in their best interest not to run. One group of rogue runners met up anyway and ran the course, and I applaud them for being so tough and getting out there and powering through without course markings, real aid stations, and with atrocious conditions. But I also really respect North Face for making the right call and the tough decision to cancel this race at the last minute. Hurricanes just aren't something to be messed with.

I continue to watch as Ike looms out in the Gulf of Mexico, and my prayers are definitely with all the folks there on the Texas coast as they flee and/or brace themselves for another huge storm. Hurricane season is a scary scary time for folks on the Gulf Coast, and I hold my breath each time another one starts brewing, and always hope and pray for the best.