Friday, August 29, 2008

Double Mt Si

While I was on the Wonderland Trail the other weekend, Andrew and Chase started a bi-weekly round of double Mt Si runs to help us prepare for the Grand Canyon run in October. This is a very popular training run for the ultra-trailrunner crowd. The trail on Mt Si is a four mile trail that switchbacks 3100 feet up the mountain. Then we turn around and head back down. Second lap is in the dark. Total distance: 16 miles, total elevation gain: 6200 feet.

My two uphill splits were 59 minutes and 1:07. I felt like I was walking an awful lot the second trip up, which is ok. That just means more room for improvement in a couple weeks.

There were a lot of ambulances and SAR people at Mt Si when we got there. A hiker/climber fell off the Haystack at the top of Mt Si earlier in the day, killing himself. News

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wonderland Trail Run

Running the whole Wonderland Trail in one push is a classic for local ultrarunners, so when on Thursday I heard that my friend Roger Michel had decided to run the trail the next morning with a couple friends of his, I dropped all of my plans and invited myself along. He was leaving for the Bay Area next week, so maybe this was his way of having a goodbye party.

Five of us met at Mowich River campground at 8:30am on Friday to start the counter-clockwise circuit: Roger, Matt, Kimberly, Ruaraidh and me. Matt's girlfriend Erin planned to meet us at White River with chicken&rice burrito wraps and run the last 25 miles with Matt; otherwise, we were totally self-supported for the whole trip.

As the weather was looking really nice, I brought a minimum of gear to keep my pack weight to 10 pounds (including 5 lb of food, but not including water weight). I brought a couple extra pairs of socks, long-sleeved shirt, wind shirt, fleece hat, knee warmers and space blanket as my backup clothing. I brought an 8000 calorie selection of food, including bars, gels, cookies, nuts, jerky, halvah, and my special no-cook couscous dinner. I brought both a headlamp and a hand-held flashlight, the latter acting as a backup light for the group.

We started strong, but by mid-afternoon, the sun and high temperatures had slowed us to a speed-walk, so our speed was best described as "casual". The views, however, were fantastic. Mount Rainier was ever present, and wild flowers were in full season. This leg was spotted with many river crossing over glacial silt filled rivers, one of which was spanned by an amazingly thin cable suspension bridge. 11 hours later we found ourselves washing up at the bathroom in Longmire, the first 33 mile leg completed.

We pushed on through the night for our 35 mile second leg, from Longmire to White River. The almost full moon rose shortly after sunset, giving us moonlit views of the mountain over Reflection Lakes. The trail to Box Canyon was recently opened (two weeks ago) and very overgrown with vegetation. Navigating at night was incredibly easy. The snowfields between Indian Bar and Panhandle Gap (the highest point, at 6800 feet) required us to search for the trail once or twice, but otherwise the Wonderland Trail is marked so well that my grandmother couldn't get lost. The trail became a bit more rugged and less runnable in this section. The sun rose as we headed down from Panhandle Gap to Summerland and White River. We found Erin waiting for us with tasty food as promised, exactly 24 hours after we left Mowich Lake the other morning. At this point, we had come up with a variety of excuses as to why not to continue, and so four of the five of us called it a day while Matt continued on with Erin to finish the route. I enjoyed a cold foot soak in the White River before we piled into Erin's car to drive it around to Mowich Lake to retrieve our cars for the sleepy ride home.

68 miles, 17000 vertical feet in 24 hours. I've never run or hiked that far in one push and was quite happy with our little journey (especially the company of friends). I'll definitely want to come back and run the whole circuit one of these days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kayak Gear List

I meant to write down my gear list for my kayak trip last month and take some notes. My list is at the end of the post. I've spent some time reducing the size of my gear so that I can fit three weeks of food and gear into my NDK Explorer to do the trip. Hence, you might find it reads like a backpacking list.

Favorite Items:
Kokatat storm cag: When I got too cold, especially when we stopped for lunch, I could pull the storm cagoule right over everything else I was wearing (including my PFD).
Icebreaker long sleeve wool t-shirt: I wore this shirt every day. Even when it got damp, it cut the evaporative cooling off of my drysuit, and it is light enough that it doesn't get too hot.
Montbell Thermawrap jacket: This was my favorite for on shore. It was just warm enough for the wet fifty degree days, blocked some of the wind, and made a great pillow.

Ikea Bags: The blue plastic tarp reusable shopping bags at Ikea. They cost $2 at Ikea and are very small when packed. Great when we have to carry all of our gear up across slimy rocks during a low tide launch or landing.

Items I would change:
My Prolite pad was too thin for sleeping on for two weeks after paddling all day. I got knots in my neck and back. I would use an air mattress like the OR AirMat, although I had problems with the valve on this particular brand on a previous trip. Other companies sell similar products, however.

My BD Lighthouse tent started leaking after a couple years of hard use. I should have reapplied the seam sealer before the trip. For a more bomb-proof tent, I would get the El Dorado; however, it is a bit bulkier and heavier.
Kayak Gear for Prince Rupert – Port Hardy Kayak Trip

Kokatat gortex drysuit w/relief zipper, gortex booties attached
Kokatat bib (gortex overalls)
Paclite gortex paddling jacket (should take Kokatat TecTour instead)
Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero gortex hat
Glacier Gloves (waterproof 2mm neoprene)
NRS paddle wetshoes
Reed sprayskirt
Northwater tow-belt (worn around waist)
Kokatat MS Fit PFD
Reed chillcheater balaclava (slightly itchy – other neoprene balaclava instead?)
Kokatat storm cagoule
2 pairs nylon pants
Icebreaker 140 weight wool long-sleeve shirt
Short-sleeve rashguard top
Long-sleeve synthetic top
2 pairs socks (wool/synthetic)
1 pair synthetic sock liners
2 pairs synthetic underwear
Water shoe slippers w/tread (shore shoes)
Synthetic long johns top / bottom
Fleece hat
Montbell UL Thermawrap jacket (synthetic down)

Other Kayak-related Gear:
Paddle float (behind seat)
Quart-sized Ziploc (behind seat)
Foam Seat (Redfish Kayaks)
Sponge (behind seat)
Bilge pump (held by bungees in cockpit under deck)
Henderson foot pump (mounted behing footpegs)
Deck Compass (mounted forward front deck)
Waterproof watch (attached to PFD)
Boye cobalt knife on carabiner (front pocket PFD)
Whistle (attached to zipper PFD)
ACR strobe (attached to back of PFD)
Icom M88 VHF radio in Aquapac (in pocket on back of PFD)
Contact tow (2 carabiners attached to 3 feet of cord) on deck
Werner Ikelos 215 cm carbon bent-shaft paddle
Hatch covers for all hatches
Charts / tide tables
Boat-carry strap (Andrew carried this for group)

Camping Gear:
Black Diamond Lighthouse single-wall tent w/ground sheet (no stakes)
Western Mountaineering Hi-lite down sleeping bag (35 degree)
Thermarest Prolite 4 ¾ length pad (bring inflatable air mattress instead)
Small synthetic camp towel (for wiping condensation in tent)
10’ by 8’ silnylon tarp (used when tent had leaks due to bad seam sealing)

Food/Cooking Gear:
MSR pocket rocket stove w/compressed gas cannisters
1.5 liter titanium pot
Small titanium bowl
Nalgene bottle
2 MSR dromedaries (2.5 gallon each)
Plastic spoon
¼ sponge w/ itsy bitsy soap bottle
2 lighters
Aluminum foil (for windscreen)
Aqua Mira purification droplets
Bear hanging kit (2 pulleys, 2 carabiners, 2 50’ lengths Aircore spectra cord)
AlokSak odor-proof plastic bags to hold food
BearVault (clear plastic bear canister that fits in round hatches of our kayaks)
2 UrSaks (spectra sacks to protect food from bears)

Other Safety Gear:
Parachute flare
Smoke flare
Greatland laser flare
ACR signal mirror
Satellite phone (one for group: carried by Roy)

Repair Gear:
Fiberglass repair kit
Drysuit gasket repair kit
First Aid kit (incl. seasickness meds)
303 protectant (for drysuit gaskets)
Ziptech zipper lube
Duct tape
Zip ties
Extra lithium AA and AAA batteries
Whipping cord / needle
2 trash compactor bags
Multi tool
5 feet of shock cord/bungee
Aquaseal (in drysuit gasket repair kit)

Miscellaneous Gear:
Toiletries (toothbrush/paste, razor, TP, comb, vitamins)
Princeton Tec Headlamp (waterproof)
Extra sunglasses/sunscreen/lip balm
Watch w/alarm
WxTex 5 liter drybags w/valve
OR Hydroseal drybags -size #1,#2 (better than Hydrolite)
3 Ikea bags (blue tarp bags) for carrying gear
Pentax Optio WP digital camera (waterproof) w/float attached
25 feet Triptease lightweight cord
Money / credit card / passport
Waterproof journal, pencil

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grand Canyon R2R2R on the calendar

Chase, Andrew and I bought plane tickets to go to Las Vegas October 18th - October 22nd, with plans to drive down to the Grand Canyon and do the Rim to Rim to Rim run, one of the classic trail runs on our "Must Run" list. We'll stay at the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim on October 19th/20th and do the run on the 20th. I'm looking forward to it.

Now it is time to start running some hills, as I've fallen out of running shape the last few months. R2R2R is 12000+' of vertical gain, which is about the equivalent of four loops up Mount Si. Starting next week, we'll do a double loop of Mount Si every other Thursday to get some steep hill climbing practice on the schedule. I need to start putting in some base mileage as well.