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.