Thursday, August 14, 2014

Part 3: Miles 2000-3000

Part 3: Miles 2000-3000

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this trip, I just miss my friend Paco.

Thursday July 31, 2014

Climbing at Rattlesnake Gulch north of Philipsburg.  Feels good to stop for a day and get some climbing in.  Easy approaches, cool rock.  The rock that was good anyway.  

Megan hard at work.

I forget how spoiled I am when it comes to good climbing areas living in AZ.  Shit there’s how many different spots outside of Prescott alone?  All with countless routes, minimal approaches, great rock, no people.  Glad to find a good spot up here.  Missed the spurs down south.  Would have been fun.  Swimming in the Clark Fork.  Into Missoula, splurge on a place to stay for the night.

Friday August 1, 2014

Awful sleep.  That’s what I get for sleeping in a big comfy bed.  North to Glacier National Park.  One of my favorite spots.  Spent a night up a tree with a grizzly last time I was here.  Then a wind storm hit.  An unintentional John Muir reenactment then proceeded.  Good day getting here, lots of stops, lots of swimming. 

Proper riding technique.

 Scenic route to the west of the park to the idealistic Polebridge. 

Sign into Polebridge.

Camp up river.  The term ‘ Wild and Scenic Rivers’ keeps reoccurring in my head.  I missed this.  These ‘Almost Canadian Rockies.’  Huckleberry pie with huckleberry ice cream for dinner.

Saturday August 2, 2014

Drive the road through Glacier on Frank.  

Glacier view.

Many of the same thoughts, feelings, themes as Yellowstone.  I have been sick over the last week and just rebounding.  I wish I had the energy to explore better.  Its just not there.  Lots more swimming.  Eating.  Scenery overload.  Great camp spot.

View from camp.

  More pie and ice cream.  Fire.  Calmness.

Sunday August 3, 2014

Leave glacier today and begin west.  Decision made to climb at Kila crags over Stoney Hill on Koocanusa due mostly to proximity.  Fun climbing.  Iffy rock. 

Kila crags.

I regret not getting to climb Stoney Hill though.  Disappointing bale on a difficult lead has got me feeling anxious to return.  Onwards to Wolf Creek.  Arrival at Koocanusa and Kootenai district.  Home away from home for me.  I have worked here in the summers off and on the past few years breaking and training horses and haying.  Nana also lives here.  Feels good to be back.

Monday August 4, 2014

Departure of a good friend today.  Time spent was thoroughly enjoyable, and I hesitate as she returns south.  Last stop at Kootenai Falls and Troy.  

Megan at thinking about running the Kootenai Falls.

Arrival at Gib’s ranch and I  find him under a tree, recalculating his receipt from the grocery store, thinking he got screwed out of a dollar.  Meanwhile hes got countless acres needing swathing, bailing, 15 horses shod, another 10 trimmed.  I wasn’t there 30 minutes before I was out on the swather, cutting hay while Gib takes to his horses.  After about an hour the clutch on the swather goes out.  Repairs, old broken machinery.  Same old story around here, as if I never left.  We quit work and focused on popsicles.  BBQ.  Huge steaks and I am off for Nana’s north of Sandpoint.  Arrival at the cabin and I relax.  Back home.  Calm and peaceful.

Tuesday August 5, 2014

No events today.  Nap.  Thinking my way towards Squamish.  North via Banff?  North cascades?  Fresh blackberries from Nana’s graden.

I smell blackberries.

Wednesday August 6, 2014

Excessive calories of late due entirely to Nana.  Ride up to the Fault Lake TH just 20 or so minutes up Nana’s road.  In 2012 I did a pack trip up here with Gib and Emily.  Im excited for the run up.  Good climbing the whole way up.  Its beautiful up here.

Approach to Fault Lake.
Fault Lake.
Surprising this terrain exists right here.  Lingered at the lake for a bit and took photos.


  Descend back to Frank and the cabin for a final night with Nana.  

Descent from Fault Lake.

Run: 10 miles – 3,000’ ascent

Thursday August 7, 2014

Decision made to stay stateside until post Squamish.  Travel west into Washington back roads and small highways through the northeastern and central parts of the state.  

Frank hitching a ride across the Columbia River.

Right through the fires.  Big flames and destroyed homes roadside.  Suddenly feeling, spoiled, selfish.  People ask if im here as a firefighter.  I answer no, just traveling.

Got pulled over this evening for not wearing a helmet.  Got out of it.  Im not a fan of helmet laws.  Camp at Rock Creek just outside of Twisp.

Friday August 8, 2014

Morning spent at bakery in Twisp.  Slow ride into North Cascade National Park.  First time here.  It already be one of my favorite parks.  Low on administration, high on recreation.  

I typically dont like reservoirs, but this one is kind of pretty.

Good running and climbing everywhere you look.  Evening run up Sourdough Mountain.  5000’ in 5 miles?  Sure.  

Thank goodness.

Don’t bring a camera when trying to run things fast.   

Sunset from Sourdough.

Old Lookout Cabin.

Final approach to Sourdough.

The opposing range.

Back just over two hours.

Run: 10 miles – 5000’ ascent

Saturday August 9, 2014

Scored a free campsite last night inside the park.  Relaxed and did some major sitting aorund this morning.  Eventually got moving and headed up the 4th of July pass and down a bit the other side.  Exchanged pleasantries with my 6th bear of this summer.  I really like it here.

Run: 12 miles - 3000' ascent

Sunday August 10, 2014

Had a great time sharing my campsite with a couple from the coast.  Headed out of the park and out Cascade River Rd.  Unintentional fairly big run up a fairly large mountain with fairly large amounts of snow, ice, and glaciers. 

Part of the glacier ahead.

Up to Glacier pass, then up to the Glacier campand up Sahale? Mountain.  Ran into my old buddy the Speedgoat.

A Karl Meltzer sighting.

Mountain man.

Awesome day in the peaks.  These mountains are expansive and rugged.  Ill be back soon.  Descend back to Frank and camp at a campground where Alpine Ascents out of Seattle were leading a trip up the mountain.  They were nice enough to let me set up at their site.

Frank enjoying the scenery.

Happy goat.

 Tomorrow I'm off for Bellingham and north into Canada.  I may try and push for Squamish.  Im actually around 3200 miles but thought it was a good break as I start a new country tomorrow.

Onwards to The Great White North!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Part 2: Miles 1000-2000

Monday July 21, 2014

Not feeling well today.  Super scenic day driving north via Hoback.  Don’t Frack The Hoback!  

Frank is happy to be here.

Up the Snake River and arrival at Grand Teton.

The Tetons.
Lodging at the American Alpine Club Climber’s Ranch within the park.  I am always stoked when my membership pays off.  There’s just something about these mountains.  Some of my favorite.  No run today.

Tuesday July 22, 2014

Nice morning at the ranch.  The library is useful!  The mountains thunder over the ranch.  I can’t help myself.  Being only the third day since Speedgoat I decide to put off going up the Grand Teton and decide to go for the Middle.  Legs felt sluggish but came around. 

Approach to The Middle Teton from The Meadows.
From the South-Middle saddle.

Lots of route finding and snow fields.  Insanely fun, fast, and a bit wild skiing back to the meadows.  

Summit selfie with tomorrows task behind me (The Grand).

14 miles, 6,000’ ascent.  Glad to be back on it so soon after the race.  Back to the ranch.  Lots of good people.

Wednesday July 23, 2014

Slept in.  Awake with a giant bowl of oats.  Feeling a bit worked from yesterday but decide to go for the summit of Grand Teton.  What a climb.  The free soloing aspects of the Owens Spalding route had gotten into my head a bit before arrival at the actual ‘climbing’ parts.  Turned out they were the funnest and most enjoyable parts. Highly exposed and super solid.  Lots of fun.  Up and down relatively quick with all the skiing on the way down.

Obligatory summit shot.  Ive been itching to be up there for about 6 years, the last time I was here.

A view.

14 miles, 7,000’ ascent.  High point of the trip so far at 13,770’.  Left the ranch this evening and opted for the free camping across the Teton valley at Shadow Mountain.  Not sure what the next bit of time looks like.  I received an email today from Rainshadow Running the Angels Staircase (my next race) is cancelled due to the fires in the Cascades in Washington.  That puts 3 ½ weeks until the Squamish 50/50.  Gives me a pretty big window to work with.  May have to hang around here a bit longer and run up some more peaks.  Frank is the man.

Thursday July 24, 2014

Left camp set up.  The spot will do although could use a bit more privacy.  Decide to head to Dornan’s for a big meaty, greasy, gravy-y breakfast.  Mornings have been blowing by lately.  Its all I can do to be with the day by noon it seems.  Hung about all morning.  Chatted with two climbers who saw me running the Grand yesterday.  Was almost 3pm before we cut our conversation and moved on.  Ran into the guys I met on the summit.  One is a photographer, Nick Roush.  We plan on a shoot with the bike and the mountains tomorrow evening.   Some groceries and back to the climbers ranch for use of there library.  A couple hours spent looking up routes on Teewinot, Owens Peak.  Met back up with Nick and Rachel in the commons area.  Nick is preparing to solo the bottom of the O/S route and Upper Exum, a bit more technical and more of a climbers route up the Grand.  About ten minutes into conversation and we decide to climb the full, lower and upper, Exum route.  A different approach to yesterday.  Full gear.  All day.  I head to the gear shop for a few things and back to camp.  Dinner and retire early, yet unsuccessfully.  Up late, spotty and distracted.  Quick nap before our alpine start.

Friday July 25, 2014

1:30am.  Cold.  Up quick and on the bike.  So cold.  Shit there’s buffalo all over the road.  Swerve around and through.  So cold.  Eyes frozen.  Frank is confused.  Arrival at the ranch to meet Nick and we are off quickly for the trail.  2:30am start.  Not bad.  Hiking is quick and steady.  Nick and I chat, each asking questions that hint at each other’s experience, both nervous about climbing with an unknown partner.  A couple hours in we arrive at the meadows, about 4 miles in and 9,000’.  As we start the switchbacks up the north fork of Garnett Canyon towards the lower saddle, the sun starts to light up the mountains and the lower valleys.  Morning twilights are always a magical scene in the mountains on these early starts.  Through the moraine and by the time we hit the ice field the sun is up.  A fun ascent up to the lower saddle where we were greeted with the winds which would torment us the rest of our climb.  Some route finding, over the black dike, down to the east and a 4th class scramble up to the first chimney and our first pitch of the lower Exum.  A solid 1000ft of climbing, followed by the upper Exum which would be another 800ft of easy 5.5/5.6 simo-climbing.  Roped up, Nick leads the first pitch, up and out of sight by 8:00am.  We alternate leads up the six pitches, linking 3 & 4.  I felt a little guilty taking 5th classic pitch from Nick but felt better after following the 6th and realizing it was just as good.  Super exposed face, solid, high at 13,000ft in the mountains.  Great climb.  Finishing the lower Exum, we begin the simo-climbing on the upper Exum.  

Finishing the lower Exum.

We stray from the route once or twice, climbing a harder more direct line, but make sure to hit all the classic parts of the climb, including the boulder problem in the sky and the V-pitch.  The wind and cold have been relentless the entire climb.  We drop our bags in a protected (from the wind) spot in the sun and finish to the summit.  A quick couple of photos, some lounging, and back down to our bags for a break.

Windy summit shot.

Found a descent lounger out of the wind.

1 peach, a double espresso GU shot, 2 brats, GU chews.  Down climb the O/S route, same as my previous descent down the mountain.  Back down at the lower saddle, Nick went to get his axe which he had stashed for the day while we climbed only to find it taken.  He ran into a friend of his and he said he saw a group of teenagers walk off with an ice axe.  With that, the chase was on. It apparently doesn’t take much to ignite an ultra runner in the mountains if you give him something to hunt.  Much to no avail, the scoundrels got away, even after I dropped my pack with Nick and sprinted down the last 3 ½ miles to the parking lot.

Chasing the scoundrels.

 Turn around and back up to meet Nick.  Finally back to the ranch around 6pm.  Long day and super tired.  We all head to Dornans where I help myself to an entire BBQ chicken pizza.  Back to camp and crash.  Nick and Rachel accompany me back to Shadow Mountain.  The shoot with Nick postponed for tomorrow.  18 miles, 8000’ ascent.  MORE PHOTOS STILL TO COME!!

Saturday July 26, 2014

Tossed and turned, for how exhausted I am, I sure did seep poorly.  Time to leave this campground.  Camping is not a social activity, I don’t know why people crowd themselves into campgrounds.  I see Nick and Rachel off to Yellowstone, and pack up.  I mill about most of the day, relaxing, riding through the park, exploring dirt roads.  Frank was feeling ignored so I had to take him our a bit.  

Frank getting some attention.

 Some errands.  Had to hunt down a dry bag that dropped off the bike on the highway which included the title to Frank and my passport.  Met with Nick around 7:30.  We chased good lighting around for a while and got some great riding and running shots.  PHOTOS SOON TOO COME!!

Megan arrives this evening for a visit from down south.  I wait to meet her and we head up Shadow mountain and find a better camp out in the woods with unbeatable views of the range.

Sunday July 27, 2014

Quickly off for Idaho Falls and a visit with the VerSteeg clan.  Megan stays behind with the mountains, and Frank and I head for the valley.  Great ride over.  Arrived just in time for a Sunday feast and all the relatives.  Great day, great visit.  I must have thrown down 5,000 calories today.  In the morning, back to the Tetons.

Monday July 28, 2014

Breakfast with Granny, back to the mountains.  Great ride again.  We try to find some good hiking and swimming but cover rolls in.  I get an hour run in, about 7 miles, 1500’.  Easy but I am feeling super low on energy.  Unmotivated.  The storm rolls in and I am back to the trailhead just in time.  All day the park has been crowded.  For the first time, I’m feeling an urge to move on.  The whole amusement park aspect of our national parks is getting a bit tiresome. The driving.  God the driving.  I know a lot of things have been said about the absurdness of drivers in national parks.  And I agree with them all.  Slamming on your breaks because you think you saw a god damned skunk is not appropriate anywhere.  Yellowstone here we come.

Tuesday July 29, 2014

Nice big breakfast and coffee.  Slow morning.  One final refueling at Dornans and some supplies.  Bittersweet leaving.  I suppose I’ll be back in September.  North into Yellowstone.  I try not to let the crowds bother me and enjoy the place for what it is.  The real Yellowstone is just a mile or two off the highway in any direction.  That expansive wilderness is right there.  Huge.  I don’t have the energy for it.  Its too big and I don’t know where to go.  Yellowstone could take a lifetime.  I try to imagine being out backpacking and just stumbling upon this place, with all the geysers and hot springs.  No people.  No roads.  No RVs.  No visitor’s center.

A day spent being a tourist and exit via West Yellowstone and into Montana.  Camp found at beautiful Beaver Creek somewhere beyond the reservoir and geological scenic way.  Earthquakes?  More rain.  Relaxing, calm evening.  Fire.

Wednesday July 30, 2014

Falling into a routine.  Moving on north.  Good mountain dirt roads.

Frank on his way.

Arrival at Anaconda, Mt.  A familiar place.  Camp outside of Philipsburg.  A place of good and not so good memories.  Evening at the Station, back to the river for camp.  Pass 2,000 miles on the way to camp.  Lots of climbing and Glacier National Park on the immediate horizon.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Ride North - Part 1: Miles 0-1000

This summer I'm off for a western tour on a 1996 Kawasaki KLX 'Thumper.'  With only a few certain dates set, those being the races scheduled for the US Skyrunning series as well as the Squamish 50, the in betweens are unknown.  Lost of dirt roads.  Lots of mountains.  Lots of running. Lots of climbing.  The following are select entry logs from my journal with accompanying photos.

Part 1: Miles 0-1000.  Prescott, Az - Afton, Wy

Sunday July 13th, 2014

A much anticipated and highly delayed departure.  The last two weeks have been filled with preparations and stalls associated with shed rebuilding on the property and working on the motorcycle in an attempt to make it worthy of the journey that lies ahead.

Day 1

Day 2 & 3

Day 3 & 4
A final morning of tinkering and I feel its ready and make haste for the property to load and leave for Flagstaff.

A quick visit and send off from Tom and I am on the road.  Arrival in Flagstaff is welcomed with thunderstorms.  Dinner with Megan, Tyler and Kelly.

Monday July 14th, 2014

Morning spent with DMV antics finally legalizing the bike that is to carry me north.  Arrival at Humphrey's Peak trail head around 1pm.  A quick summit to 12,600 ft during a perfect window in the monsoons.  There are few views more pristine than from the top of Humphreys in the summertime as thunderstorms threaten.  Back at the bike at 3pm and headed north through the (Navajo) Nation.

Roadside mural against the gondola travesty proposed for the confluence of the Little Colorado and the Colorado river in the canyon.  More info here.

Onwards over Glen Canyon Dam which reminds me of all the other promised improvements that have been delivered for the tribe.

Glen Canyon Dam holding up the silt reservoir Lake Powell.  Its estimated that only a couple thousand people experienced the majesty of Glen Canyon before it was flooded.  One of those accounts, by General John Wesley Powell speaks of unmatched beauty and inspiration.  It's a final insult that the lake that floods the canyons first viewed by his party should bear his name.

Quickly through and into the Grand Staircase via Cottonwood Canyon.  The adventuring here seems endless.  Something about a giant oil spill and a cover up in the 1990s when this place was deemed a national monument?  Camp at Paria Box Canyon trail head.

Run: Humphreys - 9 Miles, 3500' vert

Tuesday July 15, 2014

The bike's name is now Frank.  Perfect morning, perfect weather.  I am incredibly pleased with Franks performance so far.  North through the canyon and I am awe struck by the chaos.  Chasms, cuts, geological oddities, walls, towers.  Too many colors.

Cottonwood Canyon and Frank.

Cottonwood Canyon and Frank again.

 Stop at Cottonwood Narrows North trail head.  Run through the slot canyons from North to South and return.

Continue north leaving Escalante at Tropic outside of Bryce Canyon.  A brief detour through the park and I am off through an unknown central Utah.  Finally some unexplored territory.  Day spent in a chess match with the monsoons.  Outrun storm. Stop.  Try to run.  Get chased of the mountain.  Repeat.  Finally arrived at Heliotrope Peak.  Camp set up above 10,000 ft.  Run to summit.

The way up Heliotrope.

Further up.
Almost there.

Taken from Heliotrope summit.

I suddenly found myself caught in one of the worst mountain lightning storms I've experienced.  Drenched and freezing, and to be honest, a bit terrified, I matched the intensity of the storm with what had to be one of my most epic descents off a mountain.  The most important thing being to get lower and blow treeline, I bombed down the side of a 75° drop through scree, mud and rocks until finally in the trees.  A few mile sprint back to camp to make sure it was storm worthy.  Change of clothes, hot tea, dinner, and retired to shelter.

Run: Cottonwood Narrows - 4 miles - No significant vert.
         Heliotrope Peak - 8 miles - 2000' vert.

Wednesday July 16th, 2014

A beautiful mountain morning beneath Heliotrope.  Continue route north cia the Skyline Drive, part of the Great Western Trail which spans from Canada to Mexico.  The drive was one of my most memorable.  Traversing the range to the north, passing alpine lakes, snow banks, meadows.  The greater Wasatch and Uintas coming into full view.  I descend into town and stop for a meal and coffee.  Already looking forward to post-Speedgoat when the rushed traveling can end.  200 miles per day of Frank is way too many.  I'd like to cut that in half, and then some. 

Journey northeast via the Nebo scenic loop. 

Frank beneath Nebo.

Summit Nebo, the highpoint in the Wasatch Range.  Leave trailhead around 11:30.  Brutal ascent!  Fun descent!  Met 'Griz' an old school mountain run and Wasatch 100 finisher.  Back to Frank at 2.  Push through until arrival at Snowbird.  Rest of the evening wasted on trying to find descent camping in the canyon until finally given up and returned to Salt Lake where my good friend Michael Moore and his family were kind enough to put up with the smells and allow me into their home.  What a shower.

Run: Nebo Peak - 12 miles - 4000' vert

Thursday July 17, 2014

Boys day out!

Michael Moore and his kids.

Hike up Farmington Canyon with the boys.  Return to Snowbird and decide to illegally camp off in the wilderness outside the ski areas.  Public lands being turned into a profit enterprise to benefit a few already rich few under the guise of environmentalism.  I took a shit in your watershed.  And I swam in your creek.  If I had a dog I would have brought him.  I DO NOT LIKE SKI RESORTS. 

***Edit 8/14:  I didn't actually poop in your watershed SLC.  I love everybody in SLC, especially Petzl ;).  I did however figuratively poop on ski resorts.  I figuratively poop on ski resorts all the time.***

 Run to White Pine Lake.  Pristine alpine lake, worth the evening effort.  Calm night in camp, cheesy broccoli noodles, Tea.

Scene from camp.

Run: Whit Pine Lake - 8 miles - 3000'? vert

Friday July 18th, 2014

Pre-race day.  Boring. Lazy. Eat. Drink. Lazy. Drink. Drink. Eat. Lazy. Drink. Stretch. Drink. Walk around. Eat. Drink. Call it a day.

Saturday July 19th, 2014

Up way to early per usual on race day.  Quick oats, raisins, honey.  Coffee.  Out of camp and into Snowbird and pre-race festivities/rituals.  Started the race super sluggish. Low energy.  Heavy legs.

First climb of the day.  Feeling heavy.  Photo Paul Nelson Photography.

1st descent.  Photo Jason Eichhorst Photography.

Legs started responding about halfway through but by that time was way too far back.  25th? 30th?.  Worked my way throughout the day and finished 15th.  Not my day.

Struggling up Mt. Baldy.  Photo Jason Eichhorst Photography.

First long run in about two months.  My body just wasn't up to racing level.  Post race festivities with Michael Moore.  Was really happy to see him there.  Something about these post race interactions and happenings makes me feel like high school...   Disappointed with myself, but am already beginning  to give these races less significance in the greater scheme.  I am on quite an adventure, and these races are a nice forum to get me out, but the in betweens are really coming together quite nicely.

Met Jason a couple days ago at the White Pine Lake trail head.  He photographed the race and put in 11 miles and 4500' of vert himself.  Super awesome guy.  Ended up having dinner with him and his wife.  Offered up there home for the evening as well.

Run: Speedgoat - 32 miles - 11,500' vert.

Sunday July 20th.

Woke to the first good coffee in awhile.  Quickly off, a fast pit stop at Mikey's.  North to Ogden.  Back roads over the mountains into the south end of Bear Lake.  Given The Bear 100 has mildly been a bucket-list  run of mine, I was excited to see the lake.  My disappointment was astonishing.  Jet skis, town homes, house boats, invasive fish, silt catchment evaporation tanks.  Needless to say I carried on.  Into Caribou National Forest.  Camped above Afton, Wy near Intermittent Springs.  Massive thunderstorm!  No run today.

Frank in trouble.