Saturday, May 27, 2017

Blanchard Mountain

Feeling really good. I got up early on the Saturday morning of a three day weekend and hiked and jogged around Blanchard Mountain. I threw in the British Army Trail, and looped back via the logging roads. Just an absolutely terrific morning on trail.

I have an old phone, and I'll replace it one of these days. It doesn't capture the best pics, but I'd rather throw these up here and have them then not. What I'm saying is the phone doesn't capture things as they are. The temps were in the 70s, not a cloud in the sky, and the trails were not too busy, because of the early start.

I've only taken the British Army Trail a few times. A lot of work has been done on the trail, and the white scrapes suggest to me that it is part of the Pacific Northwest Trail. It's a less-traveled gem, and the logging roads back to the upper parking lot was a quiet, solitary experience--how I like it.  On the logging roads, the view of Mount Baker was magnificent at one point.  Magnificent--really spectacular. Well, hello there kind of moment.

Mount Rainier was out too. Sitting square in the middle of the view, from the Overlook, looking down across the Skagit Valley flats and Bow. I don't typically see it. Big mountain, Rainier. Hello, you too.

The Olympics Range was also viewable, over Anacortes.

The State Legislature is wrestling with whether or not to protect Blanchard Mountain from logging, and for recreational use. Frankly, it looks like a lot of logging has already occurred up there, selectively. The trail is quite a bit different from when I first started running and hiking up there, so many years ago.  Also, there is four to five times the foot traffic. The place is very much used and appreciated.

Off the mountain for now. Might go up again this weekend; the weather is good. Cueing up the barbq now, with some Bob Marley beats kicking. Might have to be a homebody, and garden, roof care, and all those sorts of things. Lively up myself.

Train rolling around the corner on the waterline

I promise--Mt. Rainier sits large in the middle of this photo, if you squint. Click to enlarge.

Bow, Chuckanut Drive and the Skagit Flats

Skagit Flats in the foreground, than March Point, and the Olympics Range beyond

Another shot of Bow/Chuckanut/Skagit Flats

Lilly Lake

Lizard Lake - fish were hopping

Here's a fail picture of Mt. Baker.  The lighting didn't work. But the view is special, from the logging roads retiring to the upper Blanchard parking lot.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Beat The Bridge

I ran the Beat The Bridge 8k this morning. The race benefits Diabetes research, and is hosted by Nordstrom. The course runs over the Montlake Bridge by Husky Stadium in Seattle, and then the bridge to beat is the Roosevelt Bridge, which lifts about 24 minutes into the race.  I beat the bridge, but it was not a rout.

The best part of today, by far, was it was a family affair. My wife and I got up at 5 AM or so, with the help of an outlaw rooster. We made the drive down and met her daughter, husband, and others. In particular, Deb's 5 month old granddaughter participated, in a stroller. So very cute, so very cool.

I think Beat the Bridge was my first for fee race in Washington State. I ran it in 1986, 31 years ago! I remember being really excited with the idea of a challenge--Beat The Bridge!--and then finding that it wasn't all that tough to beat. I talked a couple roommates into joining me. Not my first fee race--I did a few in Washington DC before that.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Starlight Overnight

I had a nice Saturday night last weekend at the Starlight Overnight run, outside of Cle Elum.  I haven't spent much time with a headlamp on in the past couple years, and this event presented the perfect opportunity. The event starts at 8 PM, and runners are welcome to do the 2.3 mile trail loop as many times as they like, until 5 AM.  Afterwards, there is a breakfast.

I walked with Glen, and did four loops. We had a good time chatting, and had our hellos with many other friends, as they ran around in the dark. I didn't really feel like running--I just wanted to look at stars. Its been so rainy on the west side, all winter, and I was just looking for an excuse to visit the clear skies of eastern Washington.

I didn't camp out--I came back afterwards. It's probably a better idea to stay the night, but I've been gone a lot lately, and wanted to catch up on some things at home on Sunday. Plus, I like driving when no one else is on the road, with the music rolling. I listened to Bob Marley's Catch A Fire three or four times, and then opted towards some remix of the Hamilton soundtrack. This is night driving.

All the props in the world to Gretchen, Matt, Keri and the Endless Trails peeps for putting on a very special event. Hope to make this trip again next year.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Big Island

We had an amazing trip to the Big Island. We spent time with family and friends, and were there for just over a week. Highlights included hiking through a live crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling with manta rays, whale watching off the Kona Coast, and lots of good fishy eats.

Here are a few pictures. The picture above is the manta ray experience, which I'd recommend to all friends who go there. You float, hanging on to a surfboard, with snorkel and goggles, and then they turn on an LED light. This is at night. The light attracts phytoplankton, which is dinner for the manta rays. They come up and do somersaults with their mouth wide open, taking in the phytoplankton. The mantas are 8 to 16 feet wide. Big. And they come up right next to you. Totally amazing experience, like nothing I've ever done. My sweet wife surprised me with this as a gift.

Whale watching was nice. Humpback whales, swimming in pairs. March is still Hawaii whale season, and I really wanted to get out there, at least once, to watch. We saw a bunch. My photography skills are lacking.

Our condo was terrific. We stayed at the Kona Reef. The photo right below is the view from our lanai. We were walking distance to town, which made it really fun.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park included a hike through a lava tube! Short, but how often do you get to do that? We didn't see hot, red lava--maybe we should've tried harder. We did hike across a crater, and visit the main volcano. We also went down to Hilo, and had a wonderful lunch, and visited the local stores.

Friends Mike and Fran were there for part of the time. So awesome! I hiked with them to the supposedly green sands beach. There's a picture or two below. We have lots of green algae beaches in the northwest that are much greener, so consider me unimpressed. My favorite part of this was sharing the walk with Mike and Fran, which had a sort of desolate, bottom of the world kind of feel, looking out at the blue sea.  On their final day, we also got to visit a Kona Coffee Farm and a Macadamia Nut Farm.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I ran the Brewfest 10k in Kona. Gosh, that was hot, and I was slow.

What more to say?  This was one of my favorite vacations ever, and I want to go back, because there is much left to explore, and because it's Hawai'i.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kona's Run For The Hops 10k

Last weekend we were in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. It happened to be Kona Brewfest weekend, and to kick it off, there was the Run for the Hops 10k. The race supports some good causes, including kids, culture and the environment. I signed up and ran it, slow.

I find running in Hawai'i very challenging. The heat and the humidity don't sync well with me.

The course starts at the BMW dealer and heads down by the water, with a couple out and backs. Then, it heads up hill through the industrial section of town. There was lots of aid on the course. I found myself walking, and I wasn't alone, though I was towards the back. The sun got my ears. The sun shows up in the picture above, catching my shadow as I stopped to take a pic.

Terrific event organized by the non-profit PATH. Cool shirt, and a finish line full of papaya, melon, bananas, oranges, and Kona beer. Glad I happened to be there to participate.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Birch Bay Half Marathon

Great day up at Birch Bay, running the half marathon. The skyline was beautiful, with Canada in sight throughout the course, snow on the ground, snowcapped peaks in the distance. A fast course, but I didn't run fast--I was out for a trot. The weather was terrific, at about 34 degrees at the start, but climbing to mid-40s as the day got going.

The first three miles are along the waterline, and then the course heads over to Drayton Harbor. I was able to see the Peace Arch--the actual Peace Arch, as well as White Rock, in the near distance. Then, onward over by Semiahmoo, with a finish back to Birch Bay State Park.

Rich has the marathon on his calendar for a while, and ran an amazing race. I was happy to come up, trot my half, and then cheer him on at the end. Great to see Linda, Reed, and some other great peeps. Somehow missed Stan, but I heard he was out there. The Pearsons and their team put on a terrific event. When the weather is good, this is as beautiful a course as anywhere. That was today.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Orcas Island 25k

This guy showed up at the Orcas Island 25k last weekend, and crossed the finish line. I was pretty close to not going, but the weather forecast was good, the fee was paid, and I figured I'd kick myself if I didn't. Bravo, me!

I took the 5:35 AM ferry over. Early does it. Stayed in the car, typing out some work stuff. By 7:30, I was at Moran. Good to see Randy, Kurt, Glenn, Heidi and other friends before the race.

The course is obviously shorter than the very tough 50k, but it still touches most of the highlights, and has some 4000 feet in climbing. The power line climb is as tough as ever. The last push to Mount Constitution is also worthy of curses. I was ok on the uphills, horrible on the downs. I finished towards the back, just over 5 hours. I was jogging, not racing, but just shooting for the finish line. As much as anything, I wanted to clear my head of all the nonsense going around, and just focus on some green trails for a long morning.

The view from the top was as good as I've ever seen. Squinting, I could see the tall buildings of Vancouver, and turning south, Mt. Rainier. And everything in between--though as I write this, I don't recall looking for Seattle. So, most of Skagit and Whatcom were easy to pick out. The Olympics too.

Great weather. A little overcast. Maybe 35 to 45 degrees. No rain, little wind. This race can get some tough weather. Not this year.j

I didn't have a lot of juice to stick around. I headed to the ferry afterwards, and missed my ferry by three cars. Subsequently, a three hour wait, eased by fish and chips at the Orcas Hotel.

This race has changed as much as any race I've been a part of.  I ran the 50k in year one, maybe ten years ago, or so, and there weren't many runners--maybe 30 to 40, I think. We might've got a little lost. Now the event is broken down into three weekends, with 25k, 50k, and 100m. James and the people of Rainshadow Running have created a classic. So many smiling faces. Great to take a Saturday and join in.