Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Friday Covered in White Stuff

Out the door by 6am on Black Friday, my intended target was neither Best Buy nor Target.  With steaming joe in hand, we hit the road for the mountains.  Along with my brother, my dad, and my cousin-in-law, we were the first car at Mailbox Peak.  We didn't bring pepper spray to fight off the crowds.  Just some bananas and water.  The serenity of the mountain was especially noteworthy and special on what is for many such a hectic day.  Breaking first tracks in the snow up top was also a pleasure.  We didn't reach the summit (turned back when we got to waist deep snow), but just being out there with family on a pristine mountain of serenity was pinnacle enough for us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wonderland Comedic Timeline Fit for Twitter... Almost

7:45 pm - We arrive at Mowich and meet 2 guys going night stand up paddling on Mowich Lake.  They love String Cheese Incident, proclaim themselves Cheeseheads, and bequeath each of us with our own glow stick necklaces to help us on our trek.  We graciously accepted any sort of psychedelic aid.

8:05 pm- Officially on the Wonderland headed N out of Mowich, Sam's glow stick necklace bobbing (Brock saved his for the next night).

8:15 pm - Brock- "I think I forgot to pack any kind of first aid." Sam- "Hmmm, yeah me too.  I grabbed it, but then was like, oh Brock has it..."  Silence followed as we both mulled over the same thought of "hopefully we won't need it."

8:45pm- We scare a couple who is camping (illegally I might add) directly on the trail near Ipsut Creek.  If you're gonna camp illegally, find a cooler spot guys. 

Dick Creek- Remember being here a month or so ago doing a photo shoot for TrailRunner mag and Patagonia... moving a good deal slower going up this climb now.

Mystic Lake- I spot cougar eyes glowing amber in the woods.  They track me.  We move with serious purpose, nervous about Joe Grant's recent episode here

Late at night- We realize we might not have brought enough clothing.  Too cold to stop moving for more than just a moment.

Sunrise Camp- I huddle in the outhouse in an attempt to stay warm while Brock fiddles with a gear issue.  The smell of poo is intense. 

White River- We're getting really sleepy.

Frying Pan Creek- We hook the iPod up to Brock's speakers and are blaring some of the worst music you can imagine during much of this climb.  It scares the bears away though, and keeps us awake.

Summerland- Pure bliss as we stop for a moment to watch the sunrise hit Rainier and paint it pink. 

Moments later- Clouds roll in and we never see the mountain again.

Panhandle Gap?- It's very snowy in this section, but not bad with nice boot pack to travel through.  Neither of us is really sure which exact spot is actually Panhandle Gap... but we know it's around here somewhere.

Indian Bar- We take a quick break alone in the group shelter and ponder how nice it would be to curl up for a nap.  We do not nap.

5 minutes later- My running shorts rebel.  I don't know why, but they suddenly start searing my quads as if they're made of acid.  My quads are fiery red from whatever is going on, and I roll my shorts up into my shorts liner.  I look very stupid, but am far more comfortable now.

30 minutes later- Large hail comes flying down at us for about 10-15 minutes.  It burns and knocks down our spirits. 

An hour or so later- We bump into a father/son combo hiking.  They recognize us as the Triple Threat guys.  They're very excited and take our photo.  We're excited too, and highly motivated by an ego boost for at least the next few hours.

to Nickel Creek and Maple Creek- We fly down, fueled by our awesome ego boost.  Also, it's pouring rain now, and has been since before Indian Bar.

Nickel Creek- Brock is stung by a bee... for the first time ever, and directly in the buttocks.  I pray he doesn't go into anaphylactic shock.  He doesn't.

Maple Creek- We're taking a quick respite from the rain under a tree just off the trail.  A gun-packing park marshal stops us and thinks we are breaking many rules.  We try to explain ourselves, and she ultimately decides we're ok... but still takes our names and phone #'s just in case.  She then joins us as we slog up the climb toward Reflection Lake.  She likes Crossfit and the Paleo diet.  A lot.

Reflection Lake to Paradise River- We're hurting, and kind of wishing we'd started at Longmire and this was our final few miles.  Alas, it is not.

Longmire- We make the turn away from Longmire to continue on the Wonderland, though the temptation of hot food, shelter from the rain, and bumming a ride out of there was great.

Devil's Dream- We are making great time now, and we talk about how much both of us had individually contemplated bumming a ride out at Longmire, but neither of us voiced it.  Probably a good thing.  We're past the point of no return now.  Mowich here we come.

Tahoma Creek- This is unmarked and we're excited that we've already made it to S Puyallup River.

S Puyallup River (3.7 miles later)- We're bummed that now we're actually at S Puyallup River.  Oops.  Also, night arrives again and our headlamps click back on.  This dampens our spirit past our already rain-soaked bodies. 

Klapatche Park- Our pace has slowed considerably, and we are in a lot of pain.  We begin to realize why people train prior to endeavors such as this.  We do rough calculations and figure we may not finish until late Sunday morning.

N Puyallup River- We have a huge burst of energy, and our spirits improve immensely.  We fly up the massive climb to Golden Lakes (running essentially all of it), then begin bombing down to S Mowich River.  I start doing silent calculations in my head and realize the speed record is amazingly still within reach if we continue this pace.

Switchbacks- the switchbacks coming down to the S Mowich River are mind-numbing.  We begin to tire again, and we fear these endless switchbacks might be our final resting place.  I recalculate as we slow down, and the speed record isn't going to happen.  Oh well.

S Mowich River- We cross I think 4 forks of the Mowich in succession here.  On the final crossing, Brock gets very confused, insisting we've turned around and are recrossing a river heading the wrong way.  I'm confused too, but convince him we should press on.  We've also both been seeing very strange hallucinations all over the place- a VW bug parked in the woods, cartoon characters, etc.

Mowich climb- The climb back up to Mowich (and the end) is about 3 miles.  It's steep, and quite a brutal way to end this loop.  We suffer and stumble all the way up. 

4:30ish am Sunday- We ultimately arrive at Mowich and back at our car in an elapsed 32:33.  We are exhausted, and supremely satisfied. 

Moments later, I drove us back to Seattle.  It was harrowing to say the least, and the amount of caffeine placed into my system was just plain scary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Maximize Your Weekend in 2 Easy Steps

Step 1:  Go to the mountains.  Quickly.

Step 2:  Eschew sleep. (it only wastes valuable weekend mountain time)

Brock Gavery and me after 32:33 on the glorious Wonderland Trail and about 50 hours of no sleep.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wonderland Pilgrimage

I'm an awful blogger.  I'll own that readily.  I don't post regularly by any means, but in my defense I try to only post when I have something somewhat legitimately worth sharing.  Ah well.  Here's something I deem semi-worthy;

I'm headed out for what's become my annual pilgrimage around the spectacular Wonderland Trail tomorrow.  My compatriot Brock Gavery will be joining me and we're going to attempt to break the unsupported speed record (currently at just over 30 hours).  We'll be time-motivated but not time-stressed, as the loop is just too darn glorious to stress out on.  There's been a lot of record attempt activity of late, and with very late snow melt, the window of opportunity this year has become very small indeed.  I'm excited for a nice quiet loop around the mountain and will report back when we're done. 
Me, on the Wonderland Trail about a month ago right by the Carbon Glacier.  (Photo courtesy of: Colin Meagher)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Western States 100

Well, I ran the big one and can check it off my bucket list.  I'll post more of a recap sometime soon when I've had a bit more time to process it all.  In the meantime, here's my finishline video;

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rainier Triple Threat Teaser

Well, I know I've been absent from the blog for  a while, but I assure you I've been running.  I hope you have been too.  Here's a quick trailer I finally got finished from our Rainier Triple Threat adventure last summer.  More to come...

Rainier Triple Threat Trailer from Sam Thompson on Vimeo.
A quick teaser from the 2010 Rainier Triple Threat adventure; 100+ mile bike ride to Mt. Rainier, a summit climb of the iconic mountain, and a 90+ mile loop run around the mountain on the Wonderland Trail.  Stay tuned for a full recap video to come!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Carkeek 12 Hour Race Video 2010

The Carkeek 12 Hour Race is a Seattle gem held every Halloween season, and it's The Hardest 12 Hour Out There.  Period.  If you haven't run it (or even if you have!), mark your calendars and be sure to join the fun.  Here's a taste of the 2010 race;

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Running Blind : Chuckanut Strikes Again

Last year I had a rough day at Chuckanut 50k, one of my favorite races around.  We had just had twins and I hadn't really been training at all.... this year was even rougher.  Apparently shingles stays with you for a while.  They said 4-6 weeks of recovery, and I guess the docs are pretty wise.  My body was just depleted from the start.  Add to that the fact that I had to run in glasses (normally I wear contacts, as I'm very blind), as I still have a shingles-related eye infection that's on the mend.  Running in glasses is amazingly tough!  Wow, I really don't know how folks do it.  Dealing with lenses constantly fogging up in the woods, no peripheral vision, etc.- I felt like I was stopped more than I was running.  Anyway, it was probably a bit ambitious to even toe the starting line, but I'm happy I gave it a go despite the end result.

I'm not one for detailed race reports, but here's a semi-quickie.  I started very unlike myself a bit back in the pack to force myself to start slowly and conservatively.  This worked fine and I got more than a handful of comments from friends that wondered why I wasn't sprinting out at the front of the pack (something I really really love to do).  The first 6 on the flat Interurban trail went alright, then it's onto singletrack for a bit.  This is when my glasses began to fog up and my pace became that of a snail's.  I then felt fantastic running strong up the 3 miles of Cleator Road and made up a lot of ground climbing fast with easy footing and clear vision.  The ridge trail ruined me.  Without peripheral vision and with foggy vision, picking through the footing and twists and turns was a true challenge.  Despite eating and drinking regularly, my body also began reminding me of its general depletion going into the race.  I considered bailing at the 2nd to last aid station (bottom of Chinscraper), but told myself I had to give myself until the next aid station to attempt to feel better.  After shuffling those 4.5 or so miles, I felt far worse and was officially done at mile 25 or so.  I've never dropped at Chuckanut and actually never dropped at a 50k, but on Saturday it was the right call.  Sometimes our bodies are healthy; sometimes they're not.  This makes me abundantly thankful for all the healthy times.

Big thanks to Krissy and Ellen for putting on another fantastic race this year!  It was amazing to see/hear about the incredibly fast competition (both men's and women's) at the front of the pack, and I know this race will just be better every year.  The weather was idyllic, and despite my less than perfect run, I was still really happy to be out on the trails with so many friends.  Now, time to lick my wounds and get back on the horse.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On the Roof

I love roofing- I mean the act of actually laying shingles on a roof, not so much the material.  I haven't done it in years, but was thinking about it lately as I've been down and out with a terrible case of shingles for well over a week now.  This has been an odd malady, and one I've never had before, but it's been truly crippling.  My shingles outbreak happened on my face and scalp, and has somehow even manifested into a strange eye infection (I'm the current star of the optometrist's office with the "hey you've gotta come see this case..." condition).  Shingles is common in people over 60.  I am not over 60, and I would wish this on no one.  Anyway, after good care from my docs and my lovely family I'm finally on the upswing so that's encouraging.  However, I feel like a slug after not being able to run for this period of time, and am just itching to be back on the trails, even for just a few miles.  I know it will come soon though.

And then there's the other kind of shingles- the kind on the roof.  When I was living on the coast in MS and rebuilding homes after Katrina, roofing was always my favorite task.  As my operation grew larger, I wasn't able to do as much hands on work on the ground as I did in the beginning, but I remember still getting out from time to time to "slap a roof on."  Often it'd be a free Saturday afternoon or something, and I'd grab a buddy, load up the big truck with shingles, and head out to a nearby job site to slap a new roof on.  There was something really therapeutic about the rhythm of the pop, pop of the nail gun, and I loved the challenge of hauling shingles just as fast as I could up the ladder and to the peak of the roof over and over and over.  Baking on a tarry roof in that summer afternoon MS sun was somehow relaxing for me, and a break from the hubbub of running what had become a large operation day to day.  Anyway, while "shingles" to me right now equates to sickness, I know that as the itchy scabs fade and I'm back in the swing of life, the thought of shingles will once again put me up on a roof, happily sweating away.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feet Get Democratic

Yesterday was my first ever trip to the WA state Capitol in Olympia, so it was only fitting that I got there on foot.  It was a really eye-opening experience to meet face to face with legislators and realize that they really are our voice in our government, and how truly lucky we all are to live in a democratic society.  While elected officials are easy targets for complaints and finger-pointing, I realized yesterday that they have a much tougher job than I had really thought about.  They have meetings every day with constituents eager to plead their case about whatever they might be passionate about, and the legislators must be courteous and take it all in and make the best decisions they can with all the information at hand.  With people on all sides (who knows, my reps might have met with some anti-trails group right after they met with me...), I certainly don't envy their jobs, but I do have a much greater respect for them all.

So, the meetings I had seemed to go well, and I'm optimistic that our WA trails will be safe for another year.  With the state deficit so high, cuts obviously must be made everywhere, which is why the WTA proposal makes so much sense.  It provides a sustainable means of revenue for trail maintenance, etc. that is also reasonable (i.e., by no means cost prohibitive).  The Discovery Pass would be similar to the NW Forest Pass, and would be an easy way to keep funding alive for many of the trails that I personally love and use very often (Mailbox Peak, Mt. Si, to name just a few), and I believe provide some of the easiest/closest to the city wilderness experiences for people needing a breath of fresh air.  If you live in WA and feel so inclined, I'd certainly encourage you to email your reps to let them know what you're passionate about.  For me, I think I'd grown a bit apathetic towards politics in general, but this trip opened my eyes to the fact that each of us really can have a voice in our government (even if it's a small one), and we need only exercise that option.  So I encourage you to make your voice heard on this issue or any other that you happen to be passionate about right now!

The specifics of my actual run aren't the most exciting, but I'll share a brief recap in order to complete the story.  Also, my friends at tmber have a great video recap in the works that I'm sure will tell the story even better, but onward to the word version for now.  With a planned 5pm start time, I left my front door closer to 6 just as the sun was setting (typical).  My friends at tmber did some filming before I left, but then lost me in Seattle somewhere, but no biggie.  The cool evening air felt great, and my first holdup occurred when I got through Ballard.  As I made my way onto the Ballard Bridge, I saw the red lights flash and the bridge begin to go up... not a big deal, but perhaps a harbinger of more excitement to come later.  I waited and had a gel and some water, and was back on my way soon enough.  I bumped into another photo buddy down by the Seattle waterfront, got some hoorays, and my Dad caught up with me here in the car.  He would stick with me the remainder of this trek, keeping me fed, watered, and on the right track.  Not much to report as I made my way through funny town names (Tukwila, Des Moines, Fife, Spanaway).  Our biggest excitement came from getting stopped by the police several times, but they were both friendly.  Then I ran into the small town of Roy sometime in the wee hours, and things got interesting.  Also, our friends at tmber joined up with us again here and continued on all the way to the Capitol.  I ran on my planned route out of Roy, but fairly soon ended up at a complete dead end with the road totally fenced off and impassable.  That route obviously wasn't happening.  So, instead of fiddling around with other small roads that might or might not work, I headed back to the highway for a route (albeit a good deal longer than planned) that I knew would get me there.  So, with my Dad patiently rolling behind for much of this night section with his blinkers on, lights on me, and cars and trucks whizzing by at arm's length, I made my way down to Yelm, where I finally cut over on another highway on the last stretch to Olympia.  The sun began to rise right around Yelm, and the colors coming up from behind Rainier were jaw-dropping.  Rush hour traffic on this 2 lane highway was less than pleasant, but I felt safer in the light of day and my Dad didn't have to run blocking for me anymore, so that was good.  I arrived at the Capitol exactly 17 hours after I began, and ended up with about 90-95 miles total under my belt.  After a Rocky-style run up the Capitol steps, I was off to meet up with a great group of WTA friends and get the lowdown on our meetings for the day.  I didn't shower, but did change clothes so I was a bit more presentable. 

This was a really unique trek and a great learning experience for me, I'm so glad I was able to help out with WTA's Hiker Lobby Day  in my own unique way, and I'm really thankful for the great nation we live in and the democratic system we have, even though it's a system we often love to hate.

Also, here's a nice article the Seattle P-I wrote on my adventure. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Running to Olympia

Tonight I'm running about 85 miles to the capitol in Olympia.  I am going there to speak with my representatives about a more sustainable and functional plan to fund WA state trails.  I'll be joining other volunteers and activists with the WA Trails Association for their annual lobby day on Wednesday.  If you'd like to participate, but can't make it to Olympia, please consider writing your representative a letter and participating virtually!  I'm looking forward to a really fun run tonight and hope to increase my impact with my efforts.  I should be in Olympia by around 8am, and can't wait to be a voice for our amazing trails!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Training with Babies on Board

Here's a quick little video I threw together to give a little idea of what running/hiking with 2 babies on board is like!  It's a ton of fun... and quite a workout!

Front Back Expeditions from Sam Thompson on Vimeo.
This is a little sample of some of the fun the girls and I have on our normal hike/jog in our favorite park by our house.  Lots of singing and babbling and exploring for all of us!