Sunday, December 30, 2012

Artist Point Snowshoe

My friend Dean organized a snowshoe trip up to Artist Point on Saturday afternoon, which I was glad to take part in.  Artist Point is accessed by going to Heather Meadows at Mount Baker, and hiking about a 1000 feet up, and through a bit of backcountry. It's not all that difficult, but it is backcountry, and so it is best to bring some snow smarts.

We've done this trip on a near annual basis for several years now, typically timing it on the full moon cycle. The full moon reflected on Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, with all the stars in the sky, is really something to see. It was raining down below, but we trusted the favorable forecasts, and indeed, it cleared up on top. We were there for the sunset, which produced some spectacular violet hues against the snow covered peaks.

My phone camera provides only a limited sense of this true winter wonderland. I think I was most impressed by the heavy snow on the wind blown trees up on the Point. At times, these trees took almost human or gargoyle shape, leaning from the weight of the snow. The fact that any life persists in such conditions is amazing.

I think in all we had a group of about 14 persons. A brave minority even set up tents and stayed the night. Bravo! Most like I though went up, and then came down for dinner at Chair 9 in Glacier. Staying wasn't an option for me, because I had to be back in town for a special birthday event in the evening. However, I will note that it was very cold up top. I'm guessing it was about 5 degrees on Artist Point, and then 20 degrees only a few 100 meters lower.

A great group and trip--highly recommended. Thank you Dean!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter Birds In Skagit

Last year I looked hard and long for a snowy owl in the Skagit, finally spotting one after several weekends of driving around after runs in the Chuckanuts. This year...well, on Saturday I felt like getting out of the house, and I literally spotted one at the first place I went, after a ten minute drive.  I wish I brought a better camera, but the white dot above on the driftwood is a snowy owl. This is at the Hayton Reserve, out on Fir Island, off the Conway exit.

Afterwards, I drove to a number of spots on Fir Island, checking out driftwood marshes.  It's really a beautiful spot, but the wind was blowing hard, so I didn't stick around. Thousands of snow geese flying in flocks, fleeing hunters. Trumpeter swans, flying across the fields, in pairs and larger groups. Hawks and eagles all over too.

I got some workouts in this weekend, but nothing spectacular. Christmas is upon me, and my plate seems full. Happy holidays, friends. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Deception Pass 25k

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I went ahead and ran the Deception Pass 25k yesterday.  Several months ago I signed up for the 50k.  I figured I could manage my way through 25k, bad leg or not, and I was right.  And it was worth it.  It was just too hard not to go forward—the race start is only 25 minutes from home, and the course is spectacular, and the turnout of friends was certain to be good.

After a week of rain, Saturday gave us perfect race conditions.  No wind, no rain, maybe around 40 degrees or so.  Snow in the hills, but clear trails at Deception Pass.  I’m guessing 250 to 300 people participated in the two distances.  Thanks as always James and all the volunteers for putting this event together.  It should be on any PNW runner’s list.  
Great to see Seth, James, Pablo, Jahson, Kathy, and so many others. The course does several loops out on points overlooking the ocean, and the many lollipops are conducive to repeat hellos. Extraordinary views of the sea, throughout. There were times when it is easy to imagine being on seaside bluffs of Ireland.

I seemed to be a lollipop or so behind everyone the whole way.  Pretty much what I expected.  I have a combination of a bad leg and withered fitness.  But this was a much better event for me than the Seattle Marathon a couple weeks ago.  There were stretches yesterday, for short periods of time, where I almost felt like a runner again, where I had a stride.  And then there was also a stretch where I felt unduly petered.  Overall, the 25k was just right for me.  

Supertramp on the drive out, in the pitch dark, coffee in hand.  Breakfast in America.  Nice walking to the check in by the beach, still dark, with real surf crashing in to West Beach.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Seattle Marathon

This year's edition of the Seattle Marathon was foggy and chilly. I was reminded of the phrase, "thick as pea soup," which is cliche for fog, but really makes no sense to me. My pea soup is almost always green and thick, but I don't reckon it to fog. There has to be a better way to describe fog.

I suppose it was pretty good racing weather, overall. 40 degrees or so, most of the time, a bit of a headwind coming back out of Seward Park, and I was cold. I dumped my top layer too soon. However, if I had been running, instead of mostly walking, as was the case, then it probably would've been fine.

My leg basically did a meltdown. This on top of being unprepared. Shade of blogposts past, I know, but this was really bad, and I attribute to more than fitness. Worst marathon ever--I pretty much had to walk the second half, and the first half wasn't winning any dating contests. Thought about dropping.  I'll get the appointment already.  The back of my left knee doesn't feel right, so I can't kick after a while. I'm reminded of that song, "Your Body Is A Wonderland." My body is a disaster site, or at least my leg is. I'm just not used to seeking medical care on this sort of thing, but need to.

It was great as always to see the familiar faces out there, and share a bit of road with some friends. Kurt and I knocked out the first mile, catching up. Great to see Ray G. at the 6.5 area or so, and then at the finish--haven't seen him in three or four years. Craig for a bit on the bridge. Many others--Terry, Kevin, Adam, Allen, Leslie, Van et al.--good running!

I felt like the race was better organized this year. Volunteers everywhere--seemed like more than usual. Police and medical aid all over too. The medal is a little different--it's curved, probably as a nod to the EMP starting line. I had bib number 2000. I didn't request it or anything, and didn't do it justice. Folks on the sidewalks often opted for "Good number" over "Doin' good!"

So, for better or for worse, that's ten years in a row.  I am happy about that. So much to reflect back on.  I'll probably stop the streak there, unless I'm running a whole lot better next year. Plenty of time to think about it. Not so much to think about Deception Pass, which I'm registered for in a couple weeks. I may have to opt for the 25k or nix it--I'll see how this week goes.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Maui! My second visit! It's been a busy year--not the best of years as far as running goes, but work and life have had me at full tilt, and despite much travel, a real vacation was medically called for. Alaska Air ran a special on its new direct flights from Bellingham to Maui, and so my sweetie and I jumped on it.

Stayed at Lahaina Shores Resort, which is right off the water, and walking distance to Lahaina. A good value. Listened to the sound of surf, every night. Made it up to West Maui.  Some snorkeling, some surf watch, and some windy roads. Nary a drop of rain all week. Great eats, like Ono tacos and Mahi Mahi ruebens. My cousin Neil and Lonnie just happened to be visiting at the same time, for a wedding, so we caught a couple meals with them, along with some other long-time friends who now call Maui home.

I intended to run Halelakala--a 10,000 foot volcano crater/national park--but it didn't happen. I've been up there before, so I don't mind saving that for next time. There are some very cool running options. I managed some brief hiking in the Iao rainforest park, by the Nakalele blowhole. Made it to some lava fields too.

I think Kauai is better for the terrestrial naturalist/trail runner. Maui is the place for surf, sand, and sun. With a volcano thrown in. And so much more. Hawaii is just plain a good place to be. A friend of mine said he's been twice, in addition to a some 90 countries around the world, and he found Hawaii the most relaxing place anywhere. No argument. I'm pretty committed to getting there at least once every two years.

Out of shape, but a couple races coming up, with the Seattle Marathon next weekend, and Deception Pass 50k soon thereafter. Woe woe, to the un(der)trained. Whatever. Aloha!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fowl Run

It was a cold, beautiful day for the annual Fowl Run Fun Runs in Mount Vernon.  I ran the 10k, and geez, slow again. That figures. I haven't really been running. I'll keep throwing myself out there....maybe I'll get better. Gotta keep on truckin'!

I realize now I'm the guy who always comes with an excuse.  "How you doing Scotty?" "Great! but you know, I got this thing...."  Truth is, I do have this thing--a few things. But whatever. The joy is in getting out there. No matter where I'm at, it's always refreshing and vitalizing to see friends, either volunteering or running, and to get the heart rate going on the course.

Views today were clear, out towards Mount Baker.  A little bit of ice on my pickup's window, when I went outside in the morning. Last night I heard snow geese flying over the house. I saw a few flying during the race. Course is flat. It'd be great to run fast, if you can. Lots of giveaways afterwards--turkeys, pumpkin pies, and other miscellaneous stuff.

Good turnout, as always. Great to talk with Dominic, Craig, Colin, Tracy and others. And Skagit Runners volunteers were out in force, as always. Good to see Heather, Delores, Joe, Brannon, Steve, and so many others, making it all happen. Thanks all!

Should be an interesting afternoon. I'm now off to do color for a high school football broadcast. Years ago, I used to do this for local basketball games, and now my friend who does this regularly has called me in off the bench. I don't think I'll be going big time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Last week I had opportunity to visit Chicago for the first time. I only got to run once, out to and around Millennium Park and Soldier Field, but we made it all around the town, as these pictures will show. A really fun town to visit. Very easy to get around via the trains and bus system. Highly recommend the Art Institute of Chicago, even if for an hour or two. Some of the great paintings of the world are there. Also, the Hard Rock Hotel was lots of fun--a free electric guitar comes with the room. And, Jackson Browne with Sara Watkins at the Chicago Theater- par excellence.

One of these days I'd like to do the Chicago Marathon, which I can tell would be great, with all the amazing architecture and the lake front. Much to like about Chicago.

P.S. For those who know, yes, that's my Yankee Hotel Foxtrot "outtake" cover photo below.  Taken from a water taxi in the Chicago River.