Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Notes from a Crazy Runner: Fastpacking the Tahoe 200

I hope this old train breaks down
Then I could take a walk around
And, see what there is to see
---Jack Johnson, Breakdown

4 Days, 
200 Miles, 
40,000 feet of Climbing
The Tahoe 200

A little book of notecards was my makeshift journal for the trip. I'd packed quite a lot of food thinking that I'd be able to make it the entire way unsupported. This was no FKT, not a race either but rather it was part of my job. As race director for the Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run I felt that it was important for me to pre-run the course. There were a few sections with reports of downed trees and another short segment that I needed to find a connector trail on. 

I had 4 days, well 5 really, but I wanted to finish it in 4. That's what I do: I make myself a goal, then I purposefully make it harder just so I won't know if I can do it. I don't want to know how the story ends until I'm there. Looking through my journal notes, I realize I didn't gather too much practical information. It's actually some sort of stressed out vent. It's a map of the mental space that comes from pushing oneself in the mountains. 

For more about what supplies I used for the fastpack read this post: All I Need Isn't Love, It's on my Back

Notecard Journal 
Day 1
Drank out of Buck Island Lake AND Loon Lake. Not a good source (camping, 4x4, stagnant) but went 8 miles without water and felt very thirsty. 

Remember: trails are always fucking shitty going through fucking campgrounds. It took 2 hours to find where the trail left the campground. Going to be a long day. Made Cairns for other hikers to follow.

Day 2
That section was totally unexpected. Got off course and snapped my ankle really bad yesterday. Fuck that. I'm not done yet. A 15 inch piece of duct tape as a ankle brace. Glad I wrapped a bunch around my UD bottle before setting off. Ankle swollen and very sore. Met a girl who is road tripping to Santa Cruz to work at farmer's market. She gave me more duct tape. 

I'm back stepping here but I highly recommend gaiters for runners of the Tahoe 200. Should've worn gaiters. HIGHLY!

On another note, I burned off a blister on my leg thinking it was a tick. I guess I squished a mosquito into the blister and that's why I thought it was a tick??

I hate mosquitos!!!!!!!!

Bug spray would've been really really really really awesome. Really awesome. What was I thinking? (Point to be considered at later date)
Sprained ankle + heat blisters+ burned leg from fake tick removal
Day 3: 
It's really incredible how I wake up in the morning and feel so much better. Last night I was feverish. Very hot and chilled at the same time. Both nights I've slept without a sleeping pad surprisingly well. Yes, it's uncomfortable but not as much as you'd expect when you're completely exhausted and sore. 

Ate 5 Lara bars in one sitting. Really want more plantain chips. 

Feeling rather lonely and sad.

My feet hurt and my ankle is huge, swollen, painful but I have accepted the pain. Every step hurts. Shoulder hurts. Ok everything hurts.

Almost fell in river while walking across a log, caught myself as I planked onto a log next to it. 
Almost got wet here!
Remember to get money back from phone company. 

I think I need to organize a business employee vacation trip.

I like to keep my face clean. Legs that are dirty are a badge of honor.

Stopped at Tunnel Creek Cafe and Gas Station to resupply food. Smoothie was amazing. 

This may be the hardest adventure I've ever done for sheer length. For that I feel changed. View from above Incline Village on mountain was incredible. Camped there and heard many loud animal noises.

Day 4:
This trip is defining in part because of the people I have met. Also, when you're travelling with just a pack and your two legs propelling you, you must rely on the kindness of strangers- from time to time. I think I have more courage and strength than I had previously thought. As I get deeper and deeper into this trip I find myself slowing down to talk to other people along the way. Met a hiker who is an amputee on dialyses. Inspired conversation. Enjoyed a coke I forgot I'd packed the last 20 miles!!

In a race, everything is so much more simple. Here, it's me or it's nothing. 

Every last stretch of trail each day felt like an eternity. On the last leg I actually felt like I might be going crazy, just circling the same 1/2 mile without knowing it so I drew two lines in the trail and determined that if I passed over them again, I was in fact crazy and might need to ask for help. 

Turns out I was not going in circles. Maybe it was just my mind doing a headstand?

How do people build trails that never end? Is this trail called "Groundhog Day Trail"? I could put a fucking 24 hour race out here on Groundhog Trail. 

Remember to write essay on what makes ultra runners crazy. 

Be sure to warn hikers going the opposite way that the trail never ends and it will bring hopelessness to your soul, destroy your spirit and in general make you thirsty. 
Blister and pain management



Literally taping ankle

My Garmin 64st navigated me beautifully the entire way!!





Recovering after the fastpack.

Left ankle and shin swollen.



Monday, July 21, 2014

If I Was Your Lover


If I was your lover, I'd be a destination
You'd quit this life and live in a truck
Your truck would be as green as the forest on the mountain
Driving you to my side.
Only then would you really glimpse me.

If I was your lover, I'd be a storm
I'd move from place to place on any whim
Like a cool breeze chilling your almost naked body
As you enjoy the sunny beach.
Only then would you really feel me.

If I was your lover, I'd be a freshwater spring
You'd pack your life on your back
Your spine would hold the earth as you sleep
Your hands would cup water from the mossy green earth
Your body would filter the water back to the earth
Only then would you really taste me. 

If I was your lover, I'd be a mountain.
You'd always find yourself at the trailhead,
Running up the mountain's veins effortlessly
As thought the mountain needed to circulate you for its own life
On the top you'd finally see the world as I do,
Only then would you realize that I am you.






Tuesday, July 8, 2014

All I Need isn't Love, it's on my Back



Whew! I just loaded everything I need and then some into a 30L pack: food for 4 days & 200 miles (I hope) because I haven't been at all scientific about planning for this. I totally eyeballed it. Packaged salmon and tuna, tortillas, fruit, nuts and fruit/nut bars. My process went a bit like this: "Let's see I think I need this much of this and a little of that, ok, my pack is full." I did include a little notebook for writing poetry and notes. No trip is complete without a little translating emotion and experience into something I can share and grow from. 

For those of you who haven't been following social media, I'm fastpacking my Tahoe 200 mile course at Lake Tahoe starting bright and early tomorrow.   Hoping to do 50 miles a day, for a total of 4 days. I will run and hike. I'll be GPS mapping the course with my new Garmin 64st. Right now I'm writing this post from a parking lot in Tahoe City on my iPhone. So it's gonna be short 'n sweet. 

Wish me luck! 






I ended up taking less food than pictured and decided against a sleeping pad. I have a tiny tent and a very lightweight sleeping bag. I have a 100 ounce bladder and two Ultimate Direction 20 oz water bottles (bottles won't be filled for certain sections). 

Running the Deschutes River Trail

Oregon is full of amazing trails and mountains to explore. I have been road tripping down to Lake Tahoe to pre-run my Tahoe 200 mile course. Along the way I checked out the cool and hip town of Bend, Oregon. A visit to Bend wouldn't be complete without finding somewhere special to run. I ended up running the Deschutes River Trail a 22.6 mile trail (round trip) with only about 400 feet of climbing. The trail gently rolls along the river with lovely views of waterfalls, meadows, lava, and plenty of little chipmunks and mosquitos. For more info, check out the Portland Hikers website. I've included a couple videos I took and some pics, enjoy!














Monday, July 7, 2014

Running the Timberline Trail at Mount Hood

One of my favorite mountain circumnavigations is the Timberline Trail at Mount Hood in Oregon. I revisited this trail yesterday for a run stop on my way to Lake Tahoe. I'm fastpacking the Tahoe 200 course this week. A couple years ago I did the 40.4 mile route and wrote about it here. I highly recommend it to ultrarunners for a 1 day long run or to backpackers who want to spend a little more time on the trail. The route gains 8,290 feet. Here is a little information about the route from Portland Hikers.org:



Here's my short video on the trail (and some pictures): 










Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Happy Place & My Sad Place

I haven't written about this publicly yet. So here goes. Inspiration takes many forms. I love each and every one of my readers, that's you. Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts.

First time I went to the Methow Valley in Eastern Washington State I thought, "I must find a way to get out here more often. Maybe move here..." I was in love with the valley: it's green lushness in June 2010, and the sunshine, oh the lovely sunshine! The sun kisses me like I've never been kissed. There were trails everywhere. I rather quickly manifested that dream when I began dating a man who lived out there and directed races in the area, including the one that I went out East to run in the first place.
Top 3 women in the Triple Ripple 30k. Back in 2010
The rest of the story is Ultra running history, and propelled me into my own race directing pursuits including my directing the first ever single loop 200 mile trail race in the United States, the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run. Although the relationship did not survive our intense work ambitions or specifically his habit of working non stop from the moment he checked his phone in bed to being glued to a screen until 2am...over the long term, it planted a seed that grew into quite the realized dream. I have a lot of gratitude for the energy and inspiration of the Methow Valley! Lake Tahoe is one of may happy places, much like the Methow Valley. It has been my dream to put on a race there for several years now.

If I've learned one thing in life, it's that if you want something, you take it. You grab it and run for your fucking life. You make it your dream. You find a way to bring it to life. I did this and I am so excited to offer my dream to my runners, every single day. I love every one of you and want you to feel my passion-- to therefore feel your passion! To feel LIFE! It's all we have. It's short, temporary and lovely beyond words or expressions.
Me, in June 2010, so inexperienced and new...
I spent the past 4 days in the picturesque mountain valley that consists of Mazama, Winthrop, and Twisp (the three towns are a total of 23 miles apart. I now share with you, my original trail running passion. Please use every day to its max. Don't take anyone for granted. Love like the beautiful raven who died, flying toward his mate when I hit him, at 80 mph just yesterday. I want to tell his beau that it wasn't me--- yet we conspired and that is life. I wanted to stop and feel his life in his raven body, even if it was just to feel it leaving the feathers... but I couldn't stop. I wanted to let my mind imagine that he was ok. That 80 mph was nothing. That he would join his love and they would live until they died a slow and simultaneous death. Yet, it was most certainly not so.  Love it. Messy life is my kind of life.