8.17.2017

Wind River Range -- Part One -- Trail Conditions

At the beginning of this month my friend Dr. G and I went hiking in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. It was hard for us to find online information regarding weather etc., so my trip report is going to consist of three parts: (1) Weather Report / Trail Conditions, (2) Logistics and (3) Trip Report. This way if anyone needs trail info, they will hopefully be able to find it here. If you are reading this and don't plan on hiking, you can skip part one and wait until part two or three come out! 

A taste of what's to come

I will go into this in more detail later, but most of our hike consisted of traveling on the semi-charted and very informal "Wind River High Route." (See here for the Skurka version or the Wilson/Dixon version) Described by Andrew Skurka as being approximately 66% off trail, it consisted of a lot of boulder hopping, stream fording, snowfield crossing, bushwhacking and route finding. This was a huge challenge as well as being a lot of fun. However, there were some things that it would have been nice to know beforehand. 

First and foremost, there was A LOT more snow than I expected. Most of the route is above 10,500 feet and much of it is even in the 12,000 foot plus range. I knew there would be some snow; I knew this year was more snowy than others have been. However, there was still even more snow that I expected even after taking certain factors into consideration. I brought Yaktrax and Dr. G had micro-spikes and we used them a lot! However, depending on your expertise, I would even say that some sections warranted crampons/ice axes or at least trekking poles, especially if you are inexperienced or faint at heart. 


Wilson/Dixon descending the south side of Alpine Lakes Pass in 2013 (source)

Dr. G ascending the south side of Alpine Lakes Pass Aug 2017

Dr. G ascending the south side of Alpine Lakes Pass Aug 2017 (he is the tiny speck beyond the tiny rock)

Foodwise, I ate ALL of my food. When the hike was done, I had one packet of peanut butter (180 calories) left over. I had eaten every other scrap of food that I brought. I will go into more detail about this in the logistics portion of this series, but basically my takeaway is that I forgot how much the altitude and constant movement can burn up those calories!

In addition, of the seven days we hiked, five of them had rain, hail or snow. One night, as we were camping at about 11,000 feet, we got snowed on and woke up to the sound of the snow sliding off the top of the tent to the ground. The next day there was a beautiful layer of new snow, which was priceless, but it was hard to see the rocks underneath to see where to step or to determine where the best path was. Needless to say, I wore pretty much everything that I brought, even the "just in case" layers, and I was mighty glad to have bought a new sleeping bag before setting out. Also, if you do not have a waterproof backpack, I suggest dry bags or at the very least a trash bag pack liner. 

Rainy but never gloomy!

New snow! Beautiful but hard to get traction! Looking north from Europe peak.

Due to the above and probably other things such as route finding errors and variability of the route in general, the hike took us a lot longer than expected. The total route is supposed to be 96 miles, so we thought it realistic that we would take five or maybe six days to complete the route. However, due to a few wrong turns and snowy days, it took us seven days, we only averaged about 15 miles per day AND ended up with a total route distance of 114 miles. 

If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them! 

For my normal readers, have you ever gone off trail when hiking? Have you ever heard of the Wind River Range?

8.01.2017

Looking Back: July

“Warm, mellow summer. The glowing sunbeams make every nerve tingle. The new needles of the pines and fir are nearly full grown and shine gloriously.”  - John Muir

Running: I had a couple of pretty substantial weeks of running, bringing the total in July to 238 miles and about 40,800 feet of climbing. In addition, I am finally getting back on the bike, and logged about 65 miles this month. Last month, I also did about 20 miles. My goal was to ride to work once a week, which is about 5 miles. However, for the first half of the year, I basically did not ride at all. So now I have to maintain an average of about 10 miles per week or 40 miles a month, which I am on track to do if I keep it up!

I have also been doing yoga 1 - 2 times per week (this one). The yoga and the biking are definitely making my legs more heavy when I run, but I think that's mostly because this is the first month of doing all of it together. Hopefully my body will get accustomed to all the different activities and it will be stronger rather than more tired!

Reading: In July, I did a lot of driving and quite a few solo runs and bike rides. What this ended up translating to was more "reading" in the form of audiobooks! I read a total of 11 books, 5 of which were audiobooks (in italics). There were some pretty good ones. I have listed them below in order of preference (with books from my own shelf in bold). I have noticed one thing: my liking an audiobook can depend a lot on whether or not I like the narrator, which isn't really fair to the author. Also, I tend to not pay as much attention when I am listening to a book versus reading it myself, especially since usually I am driving or doing something else at the same time rather than focusing only on the book. However, it is a great way to get two times as many books read!

My First Summer in the Sierra***** (see review here)
These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881 - 1901****
Everything You Want Me To Be****
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town****
The Mothers***
Silver Bay***
Everything, Everything***
By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept***
The Reason For God**
Fortune's Rocks**
My Brilliant Friend**

Travel: What a great month! I actually had a couple of weekends at home, which is very odd for a July, but I am not complaining! I got to finally do some things around the house, as well as prepping for my next trip, which is in August. However, I did spend some time in Oregon, as I always do in July, and I also went on a camping trip to Mammoth, which was a little different than expected due to the heavy amount of snow in the Sierras this year. Let's just say that running was superseded by slip-sliding, hiking and route finding and the camp site that we wanted was still located on a closed road. It was still a lot of fun and the high Sierras were beautiful covered in snow and ice.

Thousand Island Lake, CA

Emerald Lake, CA

Garnet Lake, CA

Garnet Lake, CA

Shadow Lake, CA

Devils Postpile, CA

Smith Rock State Park, OR

Mt. Washington, OR


Etc.: So far in the garden there are some ripe tomatoes and a few cucumbers, but I think that a rat is eating my zucchini as I keep finding chewed nubs. Darn it, varmit. So I am just starting to be able to have tomato salads and to have a once in a while cucumber snack. I also had some potatoes that were sprouting eyes, so I planted them last week for a "fall planting." We shall see if they take! And the corn is growing! No ears yet, but it's getting taller!


Corn (on the left), end of July. Tomatoes in the background on the right.

Where did you go in July? What is your favorite summer read so far? Do you have anything fun planned for the rest of the summer?

7.24.2017

My First Summer in the Sierra

"Happy the showers that fall on so fair a wilderness, scarce a drop can fail to find a beautiful spot — on the tops of the peaks, on the shining glacier pavements, on the great smooth domes, on forests and gardens and brushy moraines, plashing, glinting, parrering, laving."

Tenaya Canyon, from the top of Half Dome

I just finished reading My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir and there were so many fun passages in the book that reminded me of my trips to the Sierras! As you may or may not know, John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States (Wikipedia). He was born in 1838 and this book took place from June to September of 1869.

The book is in journal form and chronicles the trip that he took with a sheepherder, who had to move his 2,000 plus sheep to higher pastures once the grasses in the valleys were dried out. They move up in elevation from the Central Valley of California, which sits near sea level, towards the high point of Tuolumne meadows in what is now Yosemite (approximately 10,000 ft), arriving in August and then turning back down the hill in September before snow starts flying again.

If you like trees and plants, you will love this book. If you don't, you can skip over his description of the abies magnifica (silver tipped fir) and go right to parts such as this one:
"Early in the morning I tied my notebook and some bread to my belt, and strode away full of eager hope, feeling that I was going to have a glorious revel."

The John Muir Trail, between Lake Tenaya and Cathedral Lakes

I mean, who can say no to a glorious revel? He also talks a lot about the weather, but in a way that makes weather anything but a dull subject.
"Another one of those charming exhilarating days that make the blood dance and excite nerve currents that render one un-weariable and well-nigh immortal." 
“Warm, sunny day, thrilling plant and animals and rocks alike, making sap and blood flow fast, and making every particle of the crystal mountains throb and swirl and dance in glad accord like star-dust.”

Near Tuolumne Meadows -- all these boulders were left behind by the glacier.

Be still my beating heart. Doesn't he make a sunny day sound absolutely fabulous? Then he passes by Lake Tenaya and notes the existence of:
"a knob or knot of burnished granite, perhaps about a thousand feet high, apparently as flawless and strong in structure as a waveworn pebble, and probably owes its existence to the superior resistance it offered to the section of the overflowing ice-flood."

Lake Tenaya (and the knot of burnished granite, perhaps)

I think I found the knot! If not, I better go and look again soon! He gets to Tuolumne meadows, and remarks:
"No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons."
Tuolumne Meadows (with Cathedral peak in the background)

I agree wholeheartedly. Every time I have gone to the Sierras, around every corner is a new wonderment, another photo to snap, or smell in the air, or a new bird sound. It really is quite fabulous and this book really hit home. There were a few interesting things such as when he describes one day that he went from the North Dome to the Valley floor, which must be about a 10 or 12 mile hike down a steep trail nowadays. But then, there was no trail, and he described bushwhacking down a ravine, which must have been difficult (plus I think there is about a 3,000 or 4,000 ft drop in elevation to boot)!

I also love how he just straps a loaf of bread to his belt, as quoted above, or lays down on pine boughs or even a rock one night, so that he could listen to the sound of a waterfall nearby. It's just so poetic and it seems like such a grand adventure. I wonder if it really was as lovely as he makes it sound. He does note that there are large mosquitoes, some about an inch from tip of the stinger to the end of the wings, which sounds like something I would not be as fond of!!

There are many, many more passages that I bookmarked, noted and saved, but I will end my barrage of quotes with this one, which really reminded me of why I like to hike and do trail runs, especially in the Sierras!

Cathedral Peak and one of the Cathedral lakes

"Towards sunset, enjoyed a fine run to camp, down the long south slopes, across ridge and ravines, gardens and avalance gaps, through the firs and chaparral, enjoying wild excitement and excess of strength, and so ends a day that will never end."

Have you ever been to the Sierra Nevadas? If so, where did you go? Did you love them as much as Mr. Muir and I do? 

7.13.2017

Looking Back: June

June is a transitional month, one of warm days and long nights. It is a month where your 5 am run is barely even in the dark. It is a month of planning days and weekends and weeks in the future.

Running: Although this was not my highest mileage week, it was a monumental one, in which I finished a 100 mile race near Bryce Canyon in Utah! In the past several months, I was starting to get a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to do it. However, in the weeks before, and definitely once I started the race, I knew I was going to see that finish line by hook or by crook. I ended up the month with 196 miles, 100 of them due to the race, and I climbed about 30,000 feet.

Reading: Due to a bit of travel as well as an increase of audio book time, I ended up reading 8 books in June. Many of them were just so-so, but there were a few standouts, such as Small Great Things, which is about racial issues, and To the Bright Edge of the World, a story about Alaskan exploration.

The Bones of Paris ***
The Aviators Wife ***
Small Great Things ****
Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? ***
To The Bright Edge of the World ****
American Sniper ***
Minding Frankie ***
Evicted ***

Travel: I feel like I was barely home in June, as I spent two weekends in Santa Cruz and one in Bryce Canyon. The Santa Cruz trips were full of visiting and walking and seaside views, while the Bryce trip was hot and sweaty and beautiful in an entirely different way. I will let a few photos do the talking for this.

Holy hot, batman! Bryce, UT (photo credit: E.V.)

Willis Creek, UT (photo credit: C.A.)

  
Fall Creek, Felton, CA


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Etc.: What else is happening? Not much! The garden is growing, but the yard is not mowing itself unfortunately, so most of my spare time has been spent just barely keeping things from looking like a hillbilly lives at my house!

Purposeful cucumbers and volunteer tomatoes -- mid June

Plums! Mid June

Tomato Jungle and volunteer squash -- Mid June

Corn, I hope. Beginning of June

Radish! Get out the salt!

Tomato Ladder, beginning of June
What did you do in June? What was your favorite book? Have you done anything new or exciting lately?

6.05.2017

Looking Back: May

May, as you may know, is my favorite month! This year, as always, it did not disappoint.

Running: In May, I ran 220 miles. This is mostly due to two races, one 100k and one 50k. Other than that, I had my highest mileage week this year, which was 73 miles. I climbed approximately 52,000 vertical feet, although my Garmin has been a bit wonky, so that is probably plus or minus 10%. I biked no miles...again! Biking fail. However, I did do about 1 - 2 x per week gardening / yard work, and I am calling that cross training!

Reading: I ended up reading 7 books, although it should have been more, as I took a long flight in May. However, I did get some "reading" done via audio book while running two races that took about 20 hours between the two of them! Usually I do not listen to music on runs, but this time, I used the time wisely! A silver lining early in the month was that all my holds at the library had really long wait times so I got some of my owned books read (in bold)! My favorites this month were The Sun is Also a Star, Stiff and Talking as Fast as I Can.

The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory (***)
Sleepwalking with Me by Mike Birbiglia (***)
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (****)
Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov (**)
The Night of the Gun by David Carr (***)
Stiff by Mary Roach (****)
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (****)

Travel: Whew! May was a whirlwind of travel. All four weekends were booked! I went to Sacramento, San Jose, hiked Mt. Diablo with the folks, flew to Minneapolis for Lisa's wedding, went to Livermore/Fremont for a race and went up to my parents house for Memorial Day. It was full of good times with good friends and loved ones!

Lisa's wedding

Marin Headlands run

Feather River Canyon

My first game of the season


What was your favorite thing about the month of May? What was your favorite book in May? Where do you normally get your books (library/own/borrow/buy)?

5.08.2017

Looking Back: April

And then it was April. With it comes the start of baseball season, the tiny curling leaves of the tomato plant and the knowledge that before you know it, summer will be here!

Running: This month should have been one of my higher ones due to upcoming long races. However, a fluke pinched nerve in my back caused over a week of rest, which threw me back a bit. In the end, total miles run ended up being about 211 with about 32,000 feet of climbing. My next race is the Quicksilver 100k and I feel a bit under-trained but will see how things go! As for biking miles, I logged a big fat zero again. Shame on me.

Reading: Lucky for my reading goals, I had over a week where I was unable to do pretty much anything, so I got a lot of reading done! In April, I read 10 books. I knocked off another book from my own shelf (in bold) and also read a few goodies to boot! I actually gave four stars to five of them, which is saying a lot for me (I almost never give five stars and don't give four very often either). In order of favorites, here is what I read last month.

The Underground Railroad ****
The Year of Yes (audio book, read by the author) ****
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ****
Love Warrior ****
Hillbilly Elegy ****
The Paris Winter (audio book) ***
Modern Romance ***
The World We Found ***
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget ***
Seven Brief Lessons of Physics ***

Travel: I spent a great weekend up at my parents house on Easter weekend, doing some snowshoeing and hiking and eating. We went snowshoeing at an old ski hill and we were the only ones out there aside from the mountain lions (we saw fresh prints but no cats) and the birds. It was a great way to get some sunshine and fresh air and exercise!

The Parentals


I also went on my semi-annual New York work trip, which was a lot of fun and another successful trip. It was a nice change from last time, when it was cold and snowy and icy and wet! It was in the 80s and I added on a couple extra days in order to spend some time with some old friends who I haven't seen in about 7 years!

The East River

Bonus: I know you are wondering....but what about the garden? Well... I can happily say that I reorganized the back yard, set up the drip system, and planted a bunch of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, peppers, beans, beets, radishes and carrots. Unfortunately, I have a pest (slugs?) that loves vegetables as much as I do, and it has eaten everything but the tomatoes and radishes. I saved one pepper from certain death by moving it to a pot on the porch, but I think I will have to replant a lot of things. Boo hoo. Back to square one.

Meow!

What was your favorite part of April? Are you stingy or generous with your five star reviews? What is your favorite spring activity?

4.03.2017

Looking Back: March

A coworker said to me the other day, "You know March; It goes in like a lamb and out like a lion." I asked him if it wasn't the other way around though and he was adamant that it came in mild and went out wild. So I let it be. In Oakland, March started very rainy and has ended full of sunshine and wildflowers, so however the saying goes, I am loving it.

Running: In March, I ran just shy of 200 miles (298) and climbed about 33,000 feet. My favorite run was a second go at the Rim to Rim to Rim, where I ran with friends from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim and back to the South Rim. It is hard to do it in one day am I was plumb tuckered out, but it was worth it!

You can see us in the middle -- we are tiny!

Heading toward the north rim.


Reading: In March, I read the following 7 books, including three from my own collection (bolded) and one borrowed one (italic)! I still have not paid for a book since 2014 when I started my "no book buying" challenge. It has been a lot easier than I thought it would. Thank goodness for the library! My favorite book was The Paris Architect, which is about a WWII architect who builds hiding places for Jewish people while also designing armament factories for the Germans. As always, it's interesting to learn more about that what went on during the war while also being entertained at the same time.

In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison (***)
Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed (***)
The Wonder (***)
The Namesake (***)
On Beauty (***)
Heart and Soul (***)
The Paris Architect (****)

Travel: Vegas, baby! For our Grand Canyon trip, we flew into Vegas, but it's not as exciting as it sounds. After a late arrival, we went to our room in Henderson, NV (apparently the retirement area of Vegas, who knew) and stayed out until past 11 pm in a smoky bar. It made me love California and our smoke free bars, that's for sure. The next day we made the drive to the South Rim where we scoped out the canyon from the rim. The next day we did R2R2R and then on Monday we drove back to Vegas and caught our flight, with a stop at the Hoover Dam of course!

I also met up with my Mom for a weekend in Auburn, where we ate and hiked and caught up on everyone's doings. She had a rough month in February, when there was a lot of rain and she was out of power and phones for quite some time and I had a broken water tank so had been taking showers at the gym or improvising. So it was nice to get a hotel room and relax a bit, even if it was just for one night! Plus we found two new breakfast places that we loved! (See 1 here + 2 here)

Have you ever been to Vegas, baby!? What is your favorite book that you have read so far this year? Where should I go for my vacation this year (I am open to any and all suggestions)?