Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Survival Running

I've recently been interviewing for new opportunities in my professional life as a senior technical writer. While not specifically job related, I've enjoyed reflecting on some of the creative work in my writing portfolio. Here's an article I wrote in 2001 for Trail Runner magazine in which I ponder my unrestrained competitive instincts. I've definitely mellowed a bit in the last decade. I'm a lot less likely to unconsciously engage the tractor beam these days, and do so only when I encounter faster runners. My lizard brain is particularly fond of chasing down the University of Portland runners that train in the north end of Forest Park where I regularly run. It's true that I'm older and slower now, but the competitive fire still burns bright. I still run to survive.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mission: Moss


  
I've dabbled in photography in the past, mostly using a Nikon FM2 SLR and print film. I've considered investing in a nicer DSLR, but always felt that the heavy equipment commonly associated with quality photography was at odds with my minimalist nature, particularly adventure running. And yet, running often brings me to some very spectacular scenes. Being mindful of photographic opportunities also helps to sharpen my vision and pushes me to actually see things instead of just looking at things.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Helens, Worm Flows Route

The weather has been a bit of a head scratcher as of late. We've seen very few of the big winter storms that typically carpet the cascades this time of year. While the scant snow seems to taunt my shiny new alpine touring setup, I am more than happy to bide my time with big days in the mountains in what feels like late spring conditions, perfect volcano-climbing weather.

On Saturday afternoon I hatched a plan for a local summit. I tried to rally partners on short notice, but came up short. No worries. The Worm Flows route on Mount Saint Helens seemed like a perfect solo adventure. Fast and light style.


I was at the Marble Mountain trailhead before the sun came up. I failed to bring a light, so was forced to wait until dawn. Rookie mistake. Still, my oversight allowed time for morning rituals and assessing the weather conditions. The lack of a breeze and only a slight chill promised a gorgeous day ahead.

In the early light I triggered my watch and started running up the trail. My intention was to move quickly but still allow for some ramble and reverie.

Before long I had stripped down to a light shirt and running shorts and was passing and greeting curious climbers. It's an odd sensation to run up a snowfield past climbers laboring with overstuffed packs. I felt a strange combination of cockiness and guilt for looking like a show-off. No matter. I was soon alone again, soaking in the grand views and enjoying the burn in my legs and lungs.

kahtoola crampons are great for fast and light travel in the mountains
There's something very satisfying about being solo on the flank of a massive peak. I think it's partly the undeniable presence of consequence and the inhospitable landscape. Nobody is here to bail you out if you skrew up. Regardless of any legitimate danger, I can still feel the empty air around me. I can feel my senses heightened by the vast openness of space, my body charged with a low purr of vital tension. I am alive and present. 

spirit lake and ranier to the north
climbers relaxing on the crater summit
I made it to the summit a bit after two hours. I spent roughly ten minutes eating, drinking, and gazing. No hurry. Then I folded up my poles, grabbed my axe, and started running and glissading down. It was super fun. I managed some long and very fast glissades and, except for a few transitions, I kept up a solid effort all the way back to the car,

I pushed all the way back to the parking lot and spent those last couple of miles reminiscing over the final portion of my Volcanic 50 race, which ends on the same final descent. I finished my jaunt in a time of 3:29, car-to-car. Not very fast, but still solid as I spent at least 20 or 30 minutes loitering and transitioning layers and such. Super fun day.

solid kit for a fast and light summit
Stats:
~11 miles
5600 feet elevation gain/loss
3 hours 29 minutes car-to-car

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mount Hood Summit, 1/4/2014

Nice to get out for a mountain adventure early in the new year. A few pictures from a fun day with my bud Willie ...

ditching the boards at the top of palmer
cool mountain shadow  just above Willie
hogsback
Willie on the hogsback warming cold fingers
moving up the spine
heading up old chute
top of old chute
summit ridge
Willie on the summit. We had the place all to ourselves.
photo: Willie McBride

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mountain Holiday

I stayed up on Mount Hood with my family through a portion of the holidays and managed to get out for some quick daily adventures. I expected to be skiing most of the time, but the icy conditions and lack of snow kept me in bipedal mode. Few things are more satisfying than time with my family and wandering the steps of a mountain temple.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Stacking Firewood

 

I split and stacked a cord of wood the other day, a mix of maple, alder, cherry and some doug fir. It was deeply satisfying, more satisfying than my rational self can justify. I think some sort of tension was uncoiled in my animal brain. I felt unified, in a primal way, with the impending transition into a cold winter.

Fall is my favorite time of year because it floods my fossil brain with these types of connections. The strain from a season of training and adventures slowly drops away in the same way bright colors fade to brown and leaves float to the ground. Shorter days and flattened daylight induce introspection. In dim light we move in closer to observe things. Activity, once expressed outward, moves inward. A summer season of adventures has been harvested. It is a time to let the body rest, transition into other activities and projects, spend more time with family, play music, ponder the past, and store fuel, like stacking firewood, for future endeavors.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Interview with Simple Hydration

Here's a link to a short interview I did with Simple Hydration. I am very stoked to be a part of the Simple Ultra Team.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oregon PCT FKT Trip Report


My PCT adventure has finally been put to words and published at the very excellent ultrarunning website irunfar.com. From the article ...

"In mid-August, in the midst of many higher profile FKT attempts, my good friend, Yassine Diboun, and I set out to attempt a self-supported FKT on the 456-mile Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The self-supported and uber-light approach of our 'runpacking' adventure relied heavily on our ultrarunning fitness and compact packs, and demonstrated a genuine attempt to navigate the confluence of ultrarunning and fastpacking."


Read the whole thing HERE.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Oregon PCT Speed Record (7d, 22h, 37m)

At 1:37 pm today (August 17th), I crossed the Oregon/Washington border on the Pacific Crest Trail (mid-point on the Bridge of the Gods) after starting at the Oregon/California PCT border on August 9th at 3 pm. This establishes a new self-supported speed record on the PCT for the state of Oregon in a time of 7 days, 22 hours, 37 minutes. Numerous witnesses were present at both the start and finish and other forms of verification are available to those interested.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 7 OR PCT

Incredible day moving north past Jefferson. Some good runnable terrain on the south flanks and some steeper technical trail to the north.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 6 OR PCT

Early start at 3:30 am. Great sunrise. Moved north along the Sisters mountains much of the morning. Then started seeing Jefferson looming to the north.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 5 OR PCT

58.5 PCT miles. 4+ resupply miles. Had some long stretches of solid running. Sleep deprivation starting to really affect me. Beautiful trail.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 4 OR PCT

Lost contact with Yassine yesterday near Crater lake. Finally figured out today that he was behind me rather than in front.

Day 3 OR PCT

Tired but ready for more miles. Leaving Crater lake now. 60 per day so far. Probably only 50ish today after losing Yassine. Made it to Crater lake though! 130 miles in.