Sunday, August 31, 2008


Lucinda Williams

Neko Case



Band of Horses


Randy and KT

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Classics

Wow...Thursday already. Classic weekend, last weekend was. For real. Terry S. and I ran the Cutthroat Classic above Mazama in the North Cascades, 11.2 miles, on Saturday morning. Then....we drove south through Winthrop, Twisp, Carlton, Chelan, Wenatchee, Blewett Pass, the Cascade Crest Classic 100 miler. We stopped in Cashmere at the apple cotlets store. Not sure why. These girls accused us of being twins. Not likely. We worked the all night diner at the Mineral Creek aid station, Mile 73. More on this below. We followed that up with the no sleep, Sunday sweep of the last 20 miles of the Triple C, which goes along Kachess Ridge and up Mt. Thorp, and which is pretty much one of the best runs of all time in history.
First destination: Mazama, and the Methow Valley Sport Trail Association’s 10th Annual Cutthroat Classic. I've done this run a number of times--it's swell. We left the MV at 3:45 AM and hit the Highway 20, North Cascades pass. Terry drives fast, and we got there by about 6. Sunrise over Liberty Bell, pretty cool, picture below. All sorts of familiar faces at the race, all cool people too. Roll call: Al, Chris, James, Alison, Chuck, Ken, Thome. Results at, pics at You catch a yellow school bus up to Rainy Pass. Four wave starts, right from Highway 20, wave 2 is cooler than wave 1. The race goes through Chelan County, Skagit County, and Okanagan County, up the Pacific Crest Trail, to 6500 feet, and then you descend 2000 feet, by the horse aid station, all in only 11 miles. The views are just top shelf, over the top, amazing. As far as trail runs go, this one isn't unduly technical, but there's usually a lot of blood on the trail from falls, and this year was no exception. Afterwards, good burritos on a grass lawn by the community center, with a wonderful awards ceremony.
Onward to CCC. We made the fire station in Easton, race hq, at about 5 PM. Our aid station captain was Rich W., the guy in the wig in the top picture. We heard that the No Name Ridge Aid Station at Mile 80 was doing an 80s theme, and we were not about to be outdone. We brought the boogey, with some Saturday Night Fever, man. All night long, every sentence ended with man. Rich was on fire, and Terry's hair was the rage. One of the runners thought Terry's hair was a wig, and reached to pull it off. We lost it, man. Linda B. and Mike C. filled out our groovy staff, and it was just awesome possum watching folks wander in after the Trail from Hell. Everyone came in weary, up a rock strewn trail, bouncing headlamps, and we had the potato soup and quesadillas fired up. The runners and pacers were incredible, most all smiling, generally lucid. I was especially happy to see Joe and Monica, Skagit folks, do well. It was really valuable to watch everyone with their pacers, and see the different ways folks handled the aid
Noon, Sunday. Mike C. gets us up to the top of No Name Ridge is his low rider Prius, thank you, Mike! No small thing. We ran the final 20 out, slow, mainly because I like slow, picking off the glowsticks and ribbons, picturing the run at night, and taking in the sights. It was a completely different experience than last year, with clear views and more energy, even with the limited sleep we got, and it was the perfect taper for me, with Wasatch coming up. At Mt. Thorp, the Forest Service let us inside the lookout, which btw, is on the cover of this month's Washington Trails magazine, with a whole story on fire lookouts in Washington. The 360 degree views from Mt. Thorp are amazing, with Rainier right there in the kitchen, the dry flats of Eastern Washington viewable to the east, Lake Kachess below, and all sorts of wildflowers to boot. This is obviously a great race to do, but pacing the final 20 is also a good call.
That's all for now, 10-4. Next up...Arches National Park and Wasatch. Excited.
Now.....The Mineral Creek Top 5--
Sun rising on the way to the Cutthroat Classic

Rich serving up the goods at Mineral Creek, man

Terry climbing to Mount Thorp's Fire Lookout during our sweep

A room with a view

The Lookout from another viewpoint

Alison and James, Mile 80 No Name Ridge Aid Commanders

Lake Kachess

View back to Mt. Thorp after the Needles

French Cabin Aid Station On Descent from Kachess Ridge

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Mike C., his wife Tamera, and Jim K. resurrected the Blanchard Ultra this weekend. Good of them! These trails should be shared, and it kept me in town. Three loops, 11 miles each loop, with 2ooo feet elevation gain, all figures estimates. I ran it, along with probably 20 others, split evenly between the 7 AM and 8 AM starts. It was supposed to be hot, but it wasn't that bad under the trees. By and large, I felt good, although the third climb was annoying, get it over with type stuff. There is a half hour section in this run that is rather steep climbing. The run also goes by two lakes, and by an island overlook where hang gliders launch from, out on to the Skagit Flats. The nice thing about the Blanchard ultra is you can stop after one or two loops, and still have had a terrific day. (Or, you could always sleep in too.) Also, it's nice that you run right by your vehicle on each lap, which can therefore be an aid station of sorts. Mainly though, I like it because it's near, small, and cool people do it.
Huckleberries are everywhere on the mountain now--see the picture above. "Vaccinium parvilfolium." I spent an hour point five picking these a week or so ago----sloooow work. I also saw some "Witch's Butter" on the run, but didn't stop to eat it, though I'm pretty sure I had it picked out right, could eat it, and it wouldn't taste good.
Earlier in the week, I did a two night tour of the Lynden Fair. I was up there for Randy Travis and Little Big Town, a couple acts I like, but it was a real kick checking out all the great poultry, swine, and goat contests, et al. This blog needs a goat picture. I'll save the swine pics for later. Go 4H!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Easy Pass

I went up Easy Pass in the North Cascades on Saturday, with Dean and Ruth T. This seemed a perfect followup to White River, and the company doesn't get better. Only 7 miles roundtrip, so not a high mileage weekend, but the maximum elevation is 6500 feet and there’s almost 3000 feet in gain. Miners called it “easy”, but hikers don’t--it is steep.
We left at 6 AM, empty road, with the original intent of going up Cascade Pass, but rainclouds pushed us further east. The Easy Pass trailhead is roughly 2-plus hours east of Mount Vernon, and roughly 6 miles west of Rainy Pass. With our early start, we had the trail completely to ourselves going up. Love it. The trail is exceptionally well maintained, with some great backwoods engineering on log bridges and trail design. I ran/hiked it, doing fine, but interestingly, the weather changed every five minutes—friendly rain, mean wind, hint o' sun, etc. Near the top, I watched clouds pushing into and over the Pass, filling the clearer sky. From then on, we walked in the clouds, in the red heather, and amidst a just amazing variety of wildflowers (lupine, astors, Indian hellebore, Indian paintbrush---I’m learning!), bent Larch trees (native only to this area), and the dryer red rock typical of the east side.
We saw goat tracks, but didn't spot any. I did see a family of hoary marmots going up, and whistled a marmot in towards me on the way down. Marmots like me. Lots of people going up as we came down. Afterwards, we dropped down into Mazama for lattes—only a half hour further, and were home by 6 in the evening (also allowing for an ice cream stop at the Cascadian Farm outside of Rockport). I want to go back to Easy Pass, soon, both for clearer views, and because there’s a way to run a 24 mile one-way trip over Easy Pass and down to Colonial Creek. Maybe next weekend, but I also have my eye on Desolation Peak.
Here’s the National Park writeup on Easy Pass:
White River was fine, actually excellent, as far as conditions go. Mount Rainier was huge, and the wildflowers were as thick as a pricker patch, but friendlier. In particular, at Mile 36 or so, right before Suntop, there was an amazing field, on a flat to downhill gradient, where the plants seemed straight out of Alice in Wonderland. It wasn't too hot, not too cold, just right, and the aid stations were amazing.
As for the run, I just kind of went out and did it—no real doubts about anything, no real goals. I took the early start, which I think is the way to go, if you’re not likely to get hardware. You leave at daybreak, less crowded trail, you get to get passed by the leaders, then the followers, and you eventually finish earlier. It's great. As for me, not my best “race,” but I don’t get too tied up in that. I finished 25 minutes faster than last year, but I suspect I have a better time in me. For the first 8 hours I had an overfull Buddha stomach, which was fun. I was swearing at Jared, the Subway guy, during the run. Once things settled down, I knocked out the final 15 miles pretty fast. It was a nice prep run for Wasatch. The bar-b-q afterwards was solid, the people good, as always.