Saturday, October 29, 2011

Park Butte

I headed up to the Park Butte lookout on Saturday in Mount Baker Wilderness and Recreation areas. The trailhead parking lot is shared with Railroad Grade and the Scott Paul trails. It’s about 50 miles from my door, somewhere up above Baker Lake.

The lookout is maintained by the Skagit Alpine Club. I’ve been a member of the club for a few years, but haven’t attended many meetings or been all that active. Hopefully that will change one of these days. That said, I’ve always wanted to check out the lookout I keep hearing about. Today was a great introduction, and I may be back soon for a snowshoe overnight--it seems very doable. The lookout is first come, first serve.

The trail was relatively empty, with snow near the start, and increasing in depth as I went higher. It's a pretty easy trail, really. I think the lookout is at 5300 feet or so. The hike is 7 miles, roundtrip. I wasn’t in a hurry, only running for a small stretch on the way back. I spent a lot of time looking at trees, snow, and clouds. This was my first snow hike in a while. It felt great to be out, just leaning on the hiking poles, kicking snow. A very simple morning.

I never got a good view of Mount Baker, but the clouds were really interesting. They were just moving all over the place, in different shades and shapes. The sun wanted to break through, but just couldn't get there.

The snow was probably a foot deep near the lookout, with a well worn path to go through. It wasn’t sketchy, but I wore yak trax and carried poles. There won't be many more hikes like this, at least without winter gear. The fresh snow didn't obscure all of the fall colors, leaving the occasional red and yellow on white.

Ran into Steph Abegg at the lookout, a climber and nightsky photographer who I heard speak at REI a few years back. As it turns out, she’s been in recovery from a very difficult climbing accident, and this was her first snow hike in over a year. She has an amazing website, where she documents her story, and where you can also see some of her terrific North Cascades and night sky pics. Recommend, highly.

Good day. More pics here.

Hope to run a bit tomorrow. Considering Herzog next week. Put in my registration for Deception Pass. A little leary of all the miles coming up, with my hamstring and all. In some ways, I'm my own worst enemy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Corn Maize

I’ve never been in a corn maze.  Until Sunday.  Made it out to the maze at Schuh’s Farm, on Memorial Highway, outside of Mount Vernon.  Honestly, this particular maize was not too tough.  No 911 calls required.

Those poor people. 

Sort of a dud of a running weekend for me, unfortunately.  I registered for the Lake Padden Half Marathon many months ago, but somehow forgot to consult ye olde calendar.  As it turned out, I had to be up at WWU for a volunteer meeting.  Sorry to miss the mud, fun and friends.  I managed to show up in the afternoon, and got to help clean up a bit, but splashing around on the back trails would've been fun.  Al, Dean, and the crew did a terrific job putting on that event—that was obvious.  It was great to see so much community support.

Healing the hamstring remains key, but I want to get out and hit a trail soon.  Possibly Herzog or Mudfest.  Maybe Sauk Mountain. Time to find the headlamp too. AND, I should get a bit more pro-active on this stretching stuff.
Fall is here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Maple Pass

Went up to Maple Pass in the North Cascades this Saturday on a clear blue day.  This is a hike well known for its gold larches in the late fall. Full parking lot--everyone had smiles.

We hit it just about right, with many many larches turning gold now. The snow level is at about 6000 feet. Getting to see the larches against the fresh snow is pretty special stuff.  The views of Cutthroat Pass, and other valleys and mountains, dusted with snow, were similarly fantastic.

Not a long day, and it was just hiking. I need to crank up my running, but I still have issues with tendons/ligaments behind my left knee. Taking it easy seems smart, and hiking doesn't bother me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit is a horseshoe shaped trek through the central Himalaya of Nepal, covering somewhere between 135 and 185 miles depending on who you believe. I would lean toward the latter figure, but I don't know. The high point of the trek is Thorong La Pass at 5416 meters (17769 feet). The trek ascends the Marsyangdi River watershed, and then descends through the Mustang Province and the Kali Gandaki River watershed. The Circuit is one of the most amazing places I've been.

Most guides provide a 16 to 21 day itinerary for the trek, but friends Seth, Rich, and I fastpacked it in about 11 days, out of necessity. More time would’ve been nice. It seems most Circuit trekkers are younger, just out of the military or school, with little money but plenty of time on their hands. The trek is very popular for 20-something Israelis, Swiss, and Germans. We of course have jobs to return to. So we typically stayed on the trail for 10-12 hours a day, and usually exhausted ourselves by the time we found our evening accommodations. One of my favorite memories is of Seth, completely passed out on his bed in Chamche, headlamp still on, shining at the ceiling. That's just how it was some nights.

I'm going to try to briefly describe our time on the trek here, and then include a bit on our planning details. We took plenty of pictures. I've posted some below, but for more, please click here. Also, for Seth's most excellent writeup and pictures, click here.

The Trek

The first half of the trek is defined by the gradual but steady ascent towards the 17,761 foot Thorong La pass. The trek follows the Marsyangdi River, beginning low amidst rice fields and other tropical vegetation, and then steadily climbs through subalpine and alpine ecological zones, deeper into the Manang Province. On the way up, you pass through Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist villages, with periodic views of the Annapurna Himalayas. The late monsoon season left our views wanting, though from time to time we got lucky, and stunned, by the magnificence of the Himalayas.

Mani walls and prayer wheels mark the road. And make no mistake, the trail is often road, though I may call it trail here. Long suspension bridges above whitewater gorges are hourly occurrences. The butterflies and birds of the Himalaya are stunning, in their different colors and variety. And the terraced agriculture…gorgeous. We shared the trail with locals and their cattle, “Namaste” being the common greeting. I was struck though that many locals seemed jaded to the tourists.

We moved fast, typically trekking separately but checking in with each other at pre-designated villages. We seemed well matched in pace and disposition—we were friends going in, and certainly all the better of friends coming out. I think three people is a good group size for this adventure. I had my days when I wanted to be more alone, and other days where I wanted to move faster, but basically we were able to watch out for each other, and be good company when we stopped, even if exhausted. Our stops were marked by the routine of setting up the water filtration system, ordering garlic ramen soup and/or dal bhat (rice, lentil soup, and curried taters), and then looking at the map to figure out where we were, and where we were headed.

We had our gadgets. Seth carried a Spot and various phones, including a satellite phone. Seth is the wizard on global phone services. Both Rich and Seth listened to lots of music; I managed to lose my shuffle somewhere along the way, but was fine with that. I never heard a song, except the ones I sang, which seemed to keep my friends at some distance. We all had cameras, of course, though nothing heavy. I kind of wish I'd bought something newer. I was able to text from time to time, at .50 a text via AT&T. We were usually able to charge batteries at lodges, sometimes for a small fee. Occasionally we were able to find a lodge with internet. I definitely missed being “connected,” in a  way that I would not have fathomed a few short years ago.

We took the recommended day of rest in Manang, where we got shaken by a 6.9 earthquake atop the Yak Hotel, a building of questionable construction. Manang and its valley is a really gorgeous little spot, where a lot of trekkers land for a few days, with lots of day trip options. I climbed up to Praken Gompa for a puja ceremony before a lama, in which the lama put a small multi-colored string around my neck and said a few words for Thorng La. Small donation expected, which I unfortunately forgot. Rich and Seth climbed above Gangapurna Lake, to get a closer look at a massive glacier. On the second evening I caught "Into Thin Air" in a basement projector room, with tea and popcorn, on yak fur covered bench. While in Manang, I also picked up a hat, sunscreen and gloves--plenty of supplies available. The rest day was one of my favorites.

At the lower elevations, I contended with sun, getting quickly burnt by the intense ultraviolet rays of the high Himalayas. At the higher elevations, the altitude was a constant challenge, but I never experienced mountain sickness, perhaps due to taking Diamox from Manang on. We ascended a little quicker than typically recommended, gaining more than a 1000 meters each day after Manang. I think we all did well enough, though we had a rough night of sleep at Thorang Phedi, elevation 4450 meters. We also had to persuade some Justin Bieber wannabe kid there that we really were told our room would be free. He wanted no part of that, which was sort of amusing.

On the morning of the seventh day, we crossed Thorong La Pass at 5416m. A great feeling, as we’d spent a week thinking and moving towards this pass. The Pass was unfortunately fog covered, so we didn’t get the great views of the grand peaks there, but the fog and light snow created its own marvelous landscape. I relied heavily on two trekking poles to get me up that hill. One step, two step, three step, rest. Repeat.

Once over the pass, the trail descends 2000 meters within hours into the arid Mustang Province, a dramatically different landscape, resembling the high Tibetan plateau of China. Those trekking poles were real lifesavers on that descent too, which turned into a bit of a muddy mess.

By early afternoon, we arrived in the town of Muktinath, at 3800 meters. Muktinath is a pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists, as one of the few temples to Vishnu, the Hindu god, and a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Prayer flags filled the hills and lined walls; ammonite fossils and scarves were for sale in the streets; and pilgrims were making the climb to the temple, with robed monks everywhere. We kept moving, making it all the way to the tiny village of Khinga.

Up early the next morning, we began the second half of the trek, descending through the Kali Gandaki watershed, through the arid Mustang province, and by and through towns such as Kagbeni, Jomsom, and Marpha. The morning was spectacular, with blue skies, views of Dhauligiri (7th highest peak at 26,795 feet), Annapurna 1 (10th highest peak, at 26,554 feet) and other snowcapped peaks, with the dry Mustang hills and plateau cutting a distinctly different view to the north.

Our trail was typically dirt road, which we shared with Jeeps, and this was at times a real downer. Many have already given up on the Kali Gandaki side of the trek due to the construction and use of roads, choosing to Jeep out, or catch a plane out of Jomsom. It is sad, for the trekking crowd, as road development threatens the near-future of the Annapurna Circuit. Ultimately, I expect new trails paralleling the road will be constructed, and we saw some of this happening.  Still, now is the time to take this trek on, before further development occurs.

Our afternoon in the upper Mustang was marked by a fierce headwind, which we hiked directly into. I mean fierce. Just when you think you’ve got the hardest part of the trek done, the elements throw something new at you. I just kept plugging away, but that afternoon was a grinder, with the wind and occasional Jeep buzzing by. The Kali Gandaki watershed reminded me of Alaska, with its huge valley walls, and the river spread wide across the valley floor. Evergreens began to come into the picture again towards day’s end. The next day was a relatively short one downhill to Tatopani, where I bonked a bit, probably just worn down after so many tough days, though sun and humidity are no friends of mine.

Right about when you figure you’re supposed to be done with all the hard work, the Circuit ends with a kicker called Poon Hill. On Day 10 we climbed about 2000 meters, step by step, to Ghorepani, beneath Poon Hill. That was one tough day--6000 feet of climb with a pack on, probably our biggest single day. Ghorepani had perhaps the best lodge on the trek, with great tandoori, a big fire, and Madonna on the stereo. Some beers were poured.

The next morning we got up at 4:30 AM and climbed Poon Hill, elevation 3200m, in hopes of taking in the whole Annapurana Range. No such luck—score one to the fog. After a hearty breakfast, we headed down the other side of the hill, descending another 2000 meters, and in my case slipping and falling three times on steps, which just happened to have streams flowing down them. The trek finished at Nayapul, elevation 1070 meters, where we caught a cab to Pokhara, beginning our slow return to normal, as we know it to be.

We did the Annapurna Circuit during the tail end of the monsoon season. Chancey move. We lucked out though, as we rarely had much in the way of rain or adverse weather. The downside was we probably saw less of the high, snowcapped Himalayan peaks than others may see in October, because of a lingering high cloud cover. However, the trails were far emptier than in October, and things couldn't have been much more green. We found the lodges jealous for our business, offering us free nights to stay as long as we promised to order dinner and breakfast. The typical cost for this package was 1000 rupees, or roughly $12.50 USD. We saw some weird price variations along the trek. For example, a pot of tea cost twice or three times as much at the higher elevations. The menus were almost always the same--I think I ate dhal bhat for 10 days straight in the evenings.

Well, this has been fun to write up. It was quite the adventure—everything I hoped for, and without a doubt one of the greatest trips of my life. Perhaps the best part of the experience was sharing the adventure and trail with Rich and Seth. Here are a few other facts, which I’d like to be able to recall later, and which may be of interest.

Our Itinerary

Arrive in evening at Besisahar (820m)-hike/ride to Khudi (790m)
Day 1: Check in at BhulBhule (840m), finish in Chamche (1385m) Total: 22km
Day 2: Thanchowk (2570m) Total: 21km
Day 3: Lower Pisang (3250m) Total 24km
Day 4: Manang (3540m) Total 16km
Day 5: Rest in Manang, with climb to Praken Gompa
Day 6: Thorung Phedi (4450m) Total 15km
Day 7: Khinga (3355m) Total 20km
Day 8: Kokhethanti (2525m) Total 35km
Day 9: Tatopani (1190m) Total 23km
Day 10: Ghorepani (2750m) Total 17km
Day 11: Finish at Nayapul (1070m), after Poon Hill (3200m) ascent Total 14km

The kilometer distances are completely unreliable, but these were provided by Nepal's Annapurna Conservation Area Project. I’ve seen different distances online, and I’m pretty sure Rich’s Garmin shows a much larger number for the total trek. Distance is kind of irrelevant in the Himalayas—ascent and descent figures are more meaningful, generally. You just don’t move far or fast when you’re traveling above 10,000 feet, especially with a backpack.

Partial Gear List

Originally, we planned on running the Circuit. I think I was the one to flinch at this, when it came down to packing gear. I found it very hard to plan a run from so far away, with limited information and support. In particular, I was concerned about going too light in gear for the higher elevations. In the end, we went with light packs—maybe 20lbs.—but I carried enough clothes to stay warm and dry, whatever conditions we hit. Our plan ended up doing longer days and staying steady. If I was to do it again, I could lighten the load some more, particularly on clothes. However, when you don’t know what to expect, I think there’s a lot to be said for bringing the mountain etiquette and being safe. I kept coming back to the fact that elevations above 12,000 feet are not something to mess with, especially in monsoon season.

Here's a partial list:

REI Flash Pack 65 (too big, but was on sale, and is "ultralight")
Patagonia Nano Half-Zip
OR Gore-Tex Lite Shell
Montrail Mountain Masochists shoes
Three short sleeve tech shirts
Running sleeves
Midweight half-zip Patagonia
Long sleeve Chuckanut Patagonia shirt
Two pairs of shorts
Two pairs of Patagonia bottoms
Anti-chafing underwear
Several pairs of trail running socks
Hats (cap and cold weather)
Running gloves
Fleece sleeping bag liner (no bag)—blankets available in lodges
Electronics and charging gear
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
Platypus Water Filter system


I budgeted roughly 2000 rupees a day ($25 USD), which allowed for contingencies, candy bars, the occasional hat purchase, et al.  I was in Nepal for roughly three weeks and exchanged $700 USD, which covered the trek, travel to and from Pokhara (shared car and flight), nicer meals in Kathmandu, and some souveniers.  A person could certainly get by on much less, though 700-1200 rupees a day seemed typical for the lodge and meals. We felt like we saved money, once in Nepal, as compared to how much I might've spent at home on typical things.


An American Alpine Club membership ($75 USD) comes with $5000 Global Rescue insurance. Estimated cost of a helicopter evacuation is $2500 USD. Great organization. We also spent a night at the Kathmandu Clubhouse as AAC guests of the MountainFund, for $15 each. I probably should’ve bought flight insurance, as I heard tales of lost luggage, particularly with Jet, but I never got to it, and everything turned out fine. I did check my backpack in a bigger duffle bag, with a lock on it.


Seth’s friend Dorjee Sherpa and his company, Himalayan Windhorse Adventure, took care of picking up the trekking permits, saving us at least a day or two once in Nepal. I think the cost was around $50 for the permits. Dorjee also provided information on cost expectations and stood ready to assist us as needed during the trip, which was a nice safety net. Dorjee was great, as was Seth a facilitator.


Rich and I searched for fares, including fares from Seattle and Vancouver. We ended up landing a $1450 fare through CheapO Air, flying on American Airlines and Jet Airlines. At the end of the trek, we flew back from Pokhara for $92, which I had to pay in cash.

We split the cost of a private car to get to Besisahar, and I want to say that total cost was roughly $100 USD. Our cab fare from Nayapul to Pokhara I believe was 1500 rupees ($20 USD). Kathmandu cabfare was 500 rupees ($7.50 USD).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Return to Nepal

In 1998, I visited Nepal for two months on my first real trip abroad, as sort of a culminating experience to several years of hard work in school. The trip was amazing. Everything was fresh--I was a novice to such travel, and I couldn't have picked a further place to go. I made my way up to Everest Base Camp, and also spent a great deal of time in other parts of Nepal, like the Chitwan, Pokhara, and Kathmandu. I got to know many people from Nepal and other countries. Truly one of the greatest experiences and times in my life.

However, due to the unfortunate theft or loss of my money belt in Lukla, some of my plans for Nepal and India were left unfinished.  That belt of course had my life in it—all my money, my cards, my passport. The situation was a disaster--every traveler's nightmare.   

I spent a week or two piecing my identity back together. There were consular interviews, Interpol interviews, faxed communications with the folks, secret passwords and wire transfers, and lots of credit extended to me by kind Nepali people in the meantime. It all worked out, but for a while there I was a complete wreck. Add to this that I got bitten by a rabid dog on this trip, and had to self-administer six rabies vaccine shots. These were the best of times, these were the worst of times, as Dickens said.

One of my plans for that 1998 trip was to trek the Annapurna Circuit, a world famous trek around the Himalayas in Central Nepal.  It is said by some to be the greatest trek in the world.  Unfortunately, I just didn’t have enough time left to undertake this adventure, which was estimated at 21 days.  I had to be content to leave Annapurna for some eventual day down the road.

Thirteen years go by.  

I am older, and find myself in a different place in life.  Physically, mentally, professionally, personally, socially. Priorities change. Technology. History. 

Nonetheless, I always thought someday I’d return to do Annapurna.

Then, over the last few years, rumors occasionally caught my attention, suggesting that parts of the Circuit are in jeopardy, due to the construction of roads.  And then more recently, I read somewhere that some major road would be finished in 2012. If I am to believe what I read, there is a "Now or Never" thing going on, and I should be paying attention.

So, at some point this year, I got a little more serious.   

Maybe it was when my friend Larry told me, “Do it, Scott…nobody will do it for you.”  

Or maybe it was that ongoing internal discussion--Why should it be SUCH a big deal to get away for a bit?  The expense?  Not THAT bad.....The time?  OK, that’s tough, but really, one extra week?....And don’t Europeans do this sort of thing a lot? And with my age, shouldn't I be making this a priority now? Go see the great paintings later in life...climb the mountains now.

By early summer, I realized I’d be discontent with myself for a long time if I didn’t seriously try to knock this one off the list sooner than later.  

So, I talked to my friend Seth, who was already in Nepal.  We talked about running the Circuit, and we initially agreed to do this, although I struggled with this idea later.  I talked to friend Rich about going, and he actually was willing and had the availability.  I went to Kayak and started searching airfares, and the numbers and timeframes became more real.  I talked with work, and work was graciously  accommodating of the extra time.  It all somehow came together.  

One of the funniest moments in prep was after a week of watching a certain airfare, having a conference call with Rich and mutually hitting submit with our credit cards.  On CheapO Air. We were very excited...."We're doing it!" After that, there were the emails, the phone calls, the communications, the miscommunications.

What to bring? What shots to get, and how to get them cheaply? How big is your pack? Right underwear for chafing? Insurance? Hiking sticks? Sleeping bag? Visas? Pillow?

So, on the tenth anniversary of September 11th, I found myself meeting Rich at 7 AM at Sea-Tac Airport, with backpack, ready to set off on a 40 hour journey to Kathmandu. Our flight: Sea-Tac to Chicago to New Delhi to Kathmandu.  Two days later, we meet Seth at the Hotel Marshyangdi in Thamel, change our dollars for rupees, and then soon head off on our eight hour drive across Nepal to the start of the Annapurna Circuit trek.

 I'll write up the actual trek in a separate post, soon to follow. But for me, a significant part of the trek was just getting to the starting line. Not the easiest thing to do with such a big trip, in my rather established life. Another big part of the trek for me was just taking in the changes to Nepal and myself after all this time. And the hills. The hills were still big. But like I said, I'll write about that with the next post.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Last month I traveled to Nepal to hike the world famous Annapurna Circuit, a life intention of mine.  The flight to Kathmandu included a 13 hour layover in New Delhi, India.  Traveling with friend Rich, we decided we’d obtain tourist visas for India, so that we could have a look around New Delhi in between flights.

Sometimes you just get lucky.  As it turned out, American Airlines would not have let us board if we didn’t have visas for India, as this was the terminus for their 13.5 hour flight from Chicago to New Delhi.  Disaster averted by chance. 

To be clear—our trip would’ve ended in Seattle if we hadn’t happened to acquire the tourist visa.  Score one for hiring travel agents.  We didn’t use one, instead conducting our travel planning with CheapO Air.  Seriously—the company exists, and in fact got us the great price of $1450 for our roundtrip flight to Kathmandu.  But we never heard about the need for the extra visa--presumably a travel agent would've pointed out the need.

So…we land in New Delhi, India, half a world away.  We clear India Customs.  It is evening, and our plans are humble.  An excellent plate of chicken tandoori and chicken biryani will satisfy—we just want to eat real Indian food in India.  So, we leave the airport, bags in hand, and that’s when we meet Malik, our cab guy.

Malik is not actually a cab driver.  He claims to own nine cabs, and also claims friendship with the Traffic Police.  He says not to worry, he’ll take care of us, come along.  Things are moving fast, so we say ok.  He asks if we like to disco.  We say no—we just want to eat a good meal of Indian food.  Off we go.

Malik sits in the front seat, and directs the driver to take us somewhere in New Delhi.  The roads are absolutely crazy.  Cars cutting in front of others, pedestrians walking everywhere, the occasional sacred cow in the median.  We take it in, cracking up.

We arrive at a restaurant called Laissez Affair.  Sounds French, but Malik says it is good.  Rich and I are troubled though when we’re told we can’t take our bags inside—we’ll have to leave them outside in the cab.  We never planned on leaving our bags out of sight. I think we were both hoping more for a chance just to walk down a sidewalk, pick a restaurant, and eventually return. We didn’t anticipate middle men.

Things then get a bit more interesting when Malik insists on sitting with us at the dinner table.  He says all he wants is a Coke and white rice, but of course we offer him some of our good eats, which include some truly top notch biryani, a complex blend of lentils (dal), a bit too-dry chicken tandoori, and some interesting accompaniments, like pickled onions and lime sauce.  No real complaints about the meal—it was what we were hoping for.

Malik though turned out to be a most interesting dining companion.  He shows us pictures of his wife on his phone, and then shows us a picture of him holding his pistol, which he seems proud of.  We’re not sure what the intent is, if any, in showing us this picture. 

Afterwards, Malik wants to show us more of the city, but we’re wising up to the escalating costs.  We insist he take us back to the airport.  He tries to charge us $120 US for the cab ride.  We object, strenuously.  Finally, I say, “C’mon Malik, we fed you dinner.”  We pay him far too much, but are happy to be done with it and back at the airport.

The next seven hours are spent walking around the airport, up all night, checking out coffee options, lounge options, India television.  Costa Coffee sure looks a lot like Starbucks, est. 1971.  On the tele, we note that one Indian politician, accused of corruption, is admitted to the hospital for “feelings of uneasiness.” 

And that was India.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baker Lake 50k

Tough year for me at the Baker Lake 50k. I sort of expected as much. I just got back from Nepal, after a 36 hour series of flights, including a 15 hour flight from New Delhi to Chicago over the North Pole. Ordinarily, I would not have tried to run a 50k so soon, but this is Baker Lake, my personal favorite. I figured it’d be a bit of an experiment, and was sort of looking forward to the unique challenge my circumstances presented.

I was hoping trekking in Nepal might help in preparation—the high altitude acclimation, the hours on the feet, bit of weight loss. As it turned out, the experiment failed. Jet lag, the scratchy throat and fever, and maybe the lack of recent running experience trumped. Turns out running with serious jet lag, on a 12 hour time difference, is silly. Live and learn.

Things actually went pretty well going out. The trail is quite familiar, with single track, old growth, and views of Baker Lake. I was breathing a bit hard, but stayed steady within sight of a group of friend runners. I made the turnaround point in about three hours, which is pretty typical for me.

Unfortunately, the legs fell off on the way back. Sent to the chop shop. They locked up with lactic acid, to the point that I couldn’t run. At all. Cramping, severe dehydration and tightness. I can’t remember a bigger crash in a race. I was resigned to walking great portions of the trail.

The trail seemed to go on forever. I just tried to make “relentless forward progress,” as they say. I went from shooting for a reasonable finish time to just longing for soup at the finish. An increase in rainfall on the way back made things all the more fun. I was a wreck at the finish, but was greeted by friends, soup, and hearty campfire.

I love this race. Amongst other things, it signals the real start of fall for me. At only an hour away from home, I typically run it, and then come home for hot drinks, pizza, and football. My time this year was disappointing, but I won’t read too much into that, especially considering I was fine going out.

Great to see so many friends out there. Some running a 50k for their first time, or maybe for the first time in a long time; others knocking out yet another year on the Baker Lake trail. Special congrats to Charlie for setting a course record with the win. Good times driving to and from the race with Rich and Cosmo. And of course, thanks to RDs Dave and Jeanette for doing such a great job in putting on such a great "grassroots" event.

Overcast day with rain in the afternoon--good running conditions

Co-RD Dave Dutton