Friday, January 24, 2014

Wolf Moon Snowshoe to Artist Point

It has become somewhat of an annual tradition to snowshoe to Artist Point with friends on a winter full moon. Thanks to friend Dean for organizing the trip, which went up last Saturday.  I'd say about 15 of us made the trip this year, and a good time was had by all.

This year was marked by warm temperatures and far less snowpack than typical. When we started out, at dusk, I would guess the temperature was 40 degrees, with limited wind. This is unusual, as typically it is around 20 to 25, with wind making it seem far colder up on the Point.  The trip wasn't particularly challenging physically, at roughly 4 miles, and the snowpack was such that some wore microspikes and boots while others opted to crack out the snowshoes.

We made it all the way up to Huntoon Point.  No one camped, though a few campers were out there. The evening started up with cloudy skies, but the clouds broke, and we were able to see the milky way and a full sky of stars and planets, with the mountains silhouettes of Shuskan and Baker in the distance.

Chair 9 for pizza afterwards.  An epic Seahawk win over the 49ers the next day.  Placing last weekend in the Win column.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nookachamps Half Marathon

I ran the Nookachamps Half Marathon today.  At times, it was about as windy and rainy as I can remember any race I’ve done.  Big winds—I don’t know how fast, 40 mph?—but big winds with sideways rain as we ran through the middle sections.  At the time, I was ready to file the adventure in the Dumb Files.  But now, as I sit watching the Seahawks game, still in the rain and wind, the whole thing feels good.

The Nookachamps Winter Runs are a Washington classic, as far as events go.  The starting line is five minutes from our place.  There’s always a big turnout, but the January weather is unpredictable.  I’ve ran some cold ones here, but nothing so windy and rainy as today.  I’ve ran the race a number of times—not sure how many offhand.  My friend Craig was kicking out his 25th Nookachamps in a row today—wow!

I really should’ve done the 10k.  I’m not in shape for a half, and I just couldn’t get the blood circulating or the lungs breathing right, and so it was a walk/run in the ill conditions.  I did not have a finisher’s mentality for much of the race.  It was more of something between, “What am I doing here?” and Nirvana’s “I think I’m dumb. I think I’m dumb.” But then the mile markers go by, and the aid station kids smile (local cross country runners, whom the race benefits, I believe), and the finish line gets nearer.

I saw more birds today than I typically do in this event.  Probably five or seven eagles.  A really big one sweeping over a lake out Clear Lake.  A few groups of trumpeter swans too, sitting in the field.  Usually they’re up and around, pecking the ground for eats, but the wind had them still.  A number of horses in fields.  Some downed trees from last night’s windstorm and some mildly flooded flats. No pictures today--the camera stayed in the car. But for what it's worth, this is a wonderful time to visit the flats of the Skagit Valley.

Thanks to all the volunteers—Kevin, Keefer, Terry, Stan, and a host of others made things go great.  Nice new design to the shirt/hoodie, and a nice finisher’s medal too. For me, I have a benchmark to improve upon as the year goes on. And now, a nice warm blanket, a remote control, and a Seahawks team up at half. #GoHawks!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Frosty Morning on Blanchard Mountain

I got out to Blanchard this morning and did a loop, which is 9 or 10 miles.  I took a few photos and so I'm throwing them up here. Blanchard is pretty much my favorite place to run nearby.

Signage at the trailhead says they're closing the trail that connect the lookout trail (aka Larry Reed Trail) with the mid-level parking lot. Thanks to Dean for pointing this out. As this is a favorite stretch, I made a point to get up there.  I saw there are some new switchbacks too on the connector between the hang glider lookout and the climb to Oyster Dome.

It was pretty cold this morning. I'm not sure its fair to call what I was doing running. The picture above shows the work of a beaver on a tree. A few of these other pics show frost and a view over the Skagit in January, with little growing.  The birds are all over the valley, and I heard duck hunters shooting this morning.