Friday, December 30, 2016


I had a nice day today, taking Friday off work before the New Year's weekend.  I went to Chuckanut and hiked and ran the Ridge-Lost Lake Loop. There was snow on top of Chuckanut, and snow and ice on the backside out by Lost Lake. I find myself on days like this.

Slow and pleasant. I spent over 4 hours wandering. Temps were between 30 and 40, with the snow melting constantly off trees, and snowmelt running across the trail. Lost Lake had some ice. My right ankle didn't roll, but there is instability there. The left hip has voiced opposition as well. Worth it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Deception Pass 25k

I had a fun day out at Rainshadow Running's Deception Pass 25k. I was a little nervous about the distance, because I haven't ran much the last two weeks, but I managed to keep a steady pace, while walking some of the uphills.

This is one of the best trail races in the U.S., I think. Provided the weather is good. I suppose it depends on what you want from your trail race. Here, the cliffs and views of the sea are ever present. The single track is a bit crowded sometimes. You might see a whale, an eagle, a porpoise, swans. I saw a woodpecker in the final half mile.

The finish line changed a bit this year, and is now down on the beach by the amphitheater. There were fires at the finish line, wood fired pizza, ale and soda, and it was all great.

My time was 4:08, which is slow, but I'm seeing modest improvements in my running.  I managed to avoid rolling my ankle, which was huge for me.

Its been snowing this week, and sometimes windy, but the weather turned out great for the event. 40 degrees or so, little wind.

Great to see James, Kevin, Terry and others. A good Sunday, all around, at least until I got home and saw the Seahawks score.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fowl Fun Run 10k

Another fall, another Fowl Fun Run 10k. Always a fine event! So fortunate to have this local run nearby. I love being able to reach the start line in five minutes, race, see folks, and then get on with my day. Every community should be so fortunate.

My goal was to run the 10k in under an hour.  I fell just a little short, unfortunately, with a 1:02. A few years ago, this would've been a simple goal to achieve, but somewhere along the line, the fitness dropped off. Now I have new focus, and I'm working on things. The good news is my time was faster than in the previous two years.

My run was more of a struggle than I expected. I've had a busy couple weeks which haven't allowed me to stay on top of things, and so when I started I was very stiff. I never really got the cardio going right, and the left shin hurt much of the way. Still, I was able to keep moving without having to walk, and my gait was pretty straight.

Mike came up and killed the 5k, finishing 4th overall. Great to spend time before and after, chatting. Also, great as always to see so many friends volunteering and running. Thank you as always volunteers!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dawg Dash 10k

I ran the Dawg Dash 10k yesterday.  Dan and I did this a few years back, along with Holley.  He wanted to go back and I was game. Glad I did. It's a bit of an effort to get out of bed and down the road early on a Sunday morning, but its always good to be at the UW.

I ran the 10k; Dan ran the 5k. I was pleased with my improvement. I finished in 1:01, which is an improvement over my last 10k. I know its not a fast time, but I also know I'm getting in a bit better shape.

The course starts by Red Square, and then runs out into Ravenna. From there, it hooks back on the Burke Gilman all the way back to the hospital, and then all over campus. The course finishes in Red Square.

Great crowd of about 3500 runners.  Lots of exhibitors in the Square. A purple and gold donut at the finish, with coffee and all sorts of other drinks. A nice long sleeve purple shirt with a dawg on it.

Afterwards, I got together with friend Mike, grabbing breakfast at the 14 Carrot Cafe and wandering the U. Bookstore. Then, back to Dan and Kim's for some Seahawks football.  Good day. ( :

Next up: Fall Fowl Run in a couple weeks, unless something comes up sooner.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Baker Lake 50k

This year's Baker Lake 50k was rainy, and the rocks and bridges seemed a little more slippy than in recent years. I came across one runner, somewhat dazed, who took a spill on a bridge. They seemed ok, despite. The beautiful 14.5 mile single track trail along the side of Baker Lake is filled with log bridges. I'm guessing there's at least 60 of them on the trail.

It was a hard day to figure out what to wear. It wasn't raining at the Early Start, but the forecast called for some showers and middling temperatures. Of course, weather forecasts are little less sturdy when it comes to mountain trails. Microclimates and rainshadows, etc. I went with a short sleeve tech, plus a Nathan pack stuffed with a Patagonia Houdini. I really like the Houdini, and it came in handy on this day.

About 4.5 miles in, as I approached the water jugs at Maple Grove, I rolled my right ankle, AGAIN. Research indicates I may have "chronic ankle instability" from years of hiking and trail running. It hurts really bad when it rolls hard, which happens a little too often these days. At times, the ankle feels unhinged, which is why I might start calling it my Trump ankle. This race puts you out there a bit, with no real aid between the out and back, other than the jugs. I love that--it's part of the reason its my favorite--but caution is called for.

I carried on, but I was never the same after the roll. I ran with a single trekking pole, which gave that side of my body support, but also wore me down over time. The trail was beautiful, as always, with maybe a little more leaf cover, and more wet than in recent years. Mt. Baker was obscured by the clouds. Threat of rain and sprinkles turned to steady light rain as the day went on. I took too long to get the jacket on.

The turnaround is anticipated for miles, and always gets a big smile. The bridge over the creek is a big one, with crystal clear water below. I didn't see salmon. The half mile out and back to the turnaround is open, flat, and an opportunity to say hi as people pass, going back again. Nice to see Ryan out there. At the aid station, John B. filled my water pack, and I loaded up on S caps and Stingers. In and out in 3 minutes. But those were wonderful minutes, with a number of hellos and smiles to friends.

The slog back was slow, a few minutes slower per mile. I didn't have the endurance, and my right ankle couldn't really pick up the foot. No stride. It was also mentally draining, watching every step so closely. The rain got heavier. Many passed me.

I know the turns and landmarks well, anticipating them, staying patient and steady. Three climbs to the Noisy Creek sign. A long stretch to Maple Grove, with a few key turns and overlooks on the lake. Maple Grove, and I was out of water, basically toast. A stretch to Anderson Creek. Cross the log bridge, carefully. Then that final climb out to the road, which is always a few minutes longer than you'd like to think. The Road. The Dam. The Finish.

Despite my ankle struggles, I ran a bit faster than I have the past two years. That's not saying much, but my recent running, diet, and fitness efforts have brought some personal improvements. I hope to build on this. This race has found a special place in my heart. This was my 13th finish. The first week in October has meant Baker Lake for over a quarter of my life now.

Thank you as always to Skagit Runners. Terry, Delores, Toi, and all others. Thanks to all my long friends and acquaintances that share this trail with me. Great to see Stanley, Marlis, Bandur, Adam, Al, and so many others. This is something we share.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Skagit Flats Half Marathon

I ran the Skagit Flats Half Marathon today. Today is also the 15th anniversary of 9/11. These memories are so hard, even now. As I get older, I live in wonder, of those younger, who have only known this age of terrorism and technology. I also have immense respect for those who serve our country, here and abroad. I have several family members in this group. Its nice to have a race that pays tribute to our heroes and national interest.

I may have run the Skagit Half 15 years ago.  I can’t be sure, but it seems like 2001 or 2002 was the first time I ran this one. Probably 2002. Anywa, I’ve done the half a few times, and the whole at least a couple times.  My times are slower these days. My friend Stan, the legend, does the full every year. He’s up to something like 40 in a row now.

The event is put on by my running club, Skagit Runners. This is a great bunch of folks, who year after year give back to the club and community through volunteer service. Some of the proceeds of the race go to a scholarship fund. I volunteer occasionally, at least once or twice per year, but there are stalwarts in this group for whom I have great appreciation. 

The course is indeed flat and fast.  Departing from Burlington-Edison High School, the course wanders out into the farmlands of the Skagit Valley, out in the direction of Samish Island.  Open views across the valley, simple country roads.  For me, home.

The weather was fantastic. I did a poor job with my pre-race meal the night before. I'm improving, though nothing crazy. I dropped 20 minutes off of my Berry Dairy Days time, but there's still lots more time to drop to get anywhere near I used to run, which then too wasn't fast. I figure if I get out there I'm doing good. And well.

The race was the perfect set-up for the first NFL Sunday of the year. I might’ve done the full marathon if I was a little more fit, but I really liked the idea of coming home and watching the second half of the first set of games. The Seahawks pulled out a squeaker at home against the Dolphins. And so fall is officially here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Pelton Basin

My friend Mike and I went up and over Cascade Pass last week, and hiked down into Pelton Basin.  I typically head up to the spectacular Sahale Arm, but I've heard good things about this trail, which goes all the ways to Stehekin. Cascade Pass trailhead is one of the most popular ones in the North Cascades National Park complex, and for good reason.

Pelton Basin is about a half mile beyond Cascade Pass. It rained the whole way in. I haven't hiked so long in the rain in a while. This isn't really a complaint--I have good memories of many rain hikes, and this one will be included in that group now. It's just something different. Glad I bought the right jacket, and if I had to do it again, I'd have an extra poncho to go over it, just in case things got cooler.

We made steady time up to the pass, which is still snow free. The hope was that on the other side of the pass, which I consider eastern Washington, things would dry up. Eventually they did, after we went past Pelton Basin campground. We probably went another half mile beyond the Basin, for something like 10 or 11 miles on the day, with some healthy climbing to the 6pass.

There were much better views of hanging glaciers in the valley just a bit further down the trail. Unfortunately, my camera battery died, so all I have here is a few pictures here, reflecting the conditions. Pelton Basin itself is basically a somewhat tight valley with some beautiful North Cascades style flat land in the middle, with a creek running through it. We looked for bears and other big, live animals, but at best we saw perhaps spots on far hillsides that may or may not have been.

In the next couple years, I want to take the trail to Stehekin. From the trailhead, it is a bout 31 miles or so, i think, but a bus into town can be caught from High Bridge, which is at about 22 miles. I could see it being done in a day with an early start, though there are many options.

So glad Mike could get out and hike this trail in the rain with me. Mike, you are the best! He had to get up early--probably in the 4 AM hour, just to meet me in Mount Vernon at 6 AM. We also had the pleasure of picking up two Swedish environmental science students who were on holiday at the trailhead, and were returning from Sahale Arm. It was kind of funny---they asked us for a ride to Marblemount, and hit the hitchhiking jackpot, with a ride all the way to Seattle.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Lime Kiln Point State Park

We visited Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island this week, as part of our staycation events. Lime Kiln is one of the best places in the world for watching whales from shore. This Washington State Park has some amazing spots. The place feels like it should be a national park, even though it only encompasses some 130+ acres.

We sat and read, while watching the water.  It was a beautiful afternoon, with not too many visitors to the park. We didn't see whales, but we did spy porpoises and seals. The snort of one seal made me look up as I was reading. Birds too of various species are notable.

A simply beautiful place. The cool thing about this little trip was the decision to go was made after morning coffee on the mainland. Go catch a ferry. Zip over to the park. Watch for whales. Dinner afterwards in Friday Harbor. A late night ferry return, completing a well-executed day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Little Bear Aid Station - Cascade Crest 100

We had the great pleasure of volunteering at the Cascade Crest 100 miler this weekend. My good friends BJ and Erica did a bang up job of taking care of all the logistics, and so were just there to help as we can, and spend the afternoon with friends. Mike, Aly Deb, and I made up the rest of the crew. The aid station captain was Killer, BJ and Erica's fierce pooch.

This is a new aid station, sitting right on the Pacific Crest Trail, at Mile 19.7.  It's an interesting point in the race, as the runners have already made it up the Goat Peak climb, as well as a new pull up Blowout Mountain, the second highest point on the course, at 5750 feet. Most looked fresh; some were showing signs of fatigue. With 80 more miles to go, things are just getting interesting here.

Great to see Rich making the run. He did so awesome, finishing fast, in addition to leading the effort to put on such a great event! So many other long-time friends, both at the start and through the aid station.

The drive out to this aid station is more than an hour, over some rocky, dirt roads. Beautiful setting. The nice thing about this aid station is we were able to watch the start of the race, and then get to the aid station for the first runners, who came through sometime around noon-thirty, I think.

The best part of the day was hanging with good friends, and seeing so many peeps I haven't seen in so long. I felt very inspired. I've done this race a couple times, but it has been several years now. I'm still young enough to get out and toe the line again, so that's something to move forward towards. Finishing Cascade Crest is such an accomplishment, and its always great to see everyone's immense and justified pride in making this journey.

Weather-wise, it was a little cooler than expected on the ridge. I wish we brought warmer clothes. Weather conditions cannot be assumed when it comes to this course. The microclimates can vary significantly.

The course re-route takes you around Blowout Mountain. At the end of the day, I walked up to the top of Blowout Mountain, and along the way said hi to friend Glenn, who was taking his great photos, as usual. Unfortunately, my view was obscured by clouds, but it's clearly a 360 view with Mount Rainier figuring prominently.

One more bonus for the day was meeting a number of thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Most were headed northbound ("Nobos"), and were excited to find our "trail magic" of an aid station. "Yes, we'll take your garbage and lighten your load! Sure have a ho-ho!" Some delighted trekkers there! Another inspiring group. I studied their packs, and listened to their stories. Maybe someday, I'll be making this journey as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Little Mountain 10k

I ran the Little Mountain 10k trail run yesterday, in Mount Vernon. This was one tough little race-- just perfect for me right now!

The race is 95% trail, starting at the Carpenter Creek Winery on the south side of Little Mountain. The Mount Vernon Trail Builders, charity beneficiary of the event, have put in 14,000 volunteer hours on Little Mountain over the past 7 years, and it really shows.

The first three miles are plenty of up, with a few really steep pitches. Already gassed, I just groaned when we came upon Fred's Trail, which is basically a miner's trail to the top.  I've seen my share of trails like this in longer trail races, but it was kind of cool to get a challenge in the middle of the 10k distance. There's really a need for more shorter distance trail runs like this. They're just perfect for a Saturday morning.

At or around 3 miles, you hit the top, and get views of the beautiful Skagit Valley, Olympics, and San Juan Islands, if you care to stop and look.  The rest of the course is mostly downhill or flat, with a few steep pitches thrown in for good measure. Love the downhill, switchback glide to the finish.

I ran slow, as usual, 1:40 or so. Plenty of walking, and a five minute break up top.  I see some improvements with my recent efforts. Carry on, carry on. The temperature was in the high 80s, low 90s, so caution was merited. Most of the course was under tree cover.

The event was put on by RunFare, operated by friends Joe and Shawna. Good to see them out there, as well Rob, Darlys, and many others from Skagit Runners. Mount Vernon Trail Builders were also out there. Carpenter Creek was a great place for race HQ--pretty cool to check them out. Thank you all for your good works!

This is one of my favorite shorter trail races I've ever done. Really excellent, especially for me, since it's a 5 to 10 minute drive to the start. Skagit Flats Half is next on the list. Happy to note that I'm on pace for my annual goal of at least one event per month on average per year.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Once Around Lake Cavanaugh

I ran in the Once Around Lake Cavanaugh Fun Run on Saturday. 7.8 miles on a beautiful road around Lake Cavanaugh.  This was the 31st annual running of the event, which is located east of Big Lake in Skagit County. I've seen the event on race calendars for many years, and finally made it out there.

This is a small community run, with separate starts for walkers and bikers. The race benefits the local fire department, and is sponsored by families and local businesses. I'd say about 25 people did the run.  I really enjoyed the event. I've never been to Lake Cavanaugh. I found it to be a beautiful little community.  The moss on the trees on the side of the road is similar to what you see out at Baker Lake.

I guess my finish gives me blogging rights, if not bragging rights. I'm improving, though progress is slow, just like me. Just happy to be out there on a Saturday morning, lacing them up.  Next up is the Skagit Half.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Washington Trails Association's August Hike-a-Thon

The Washington Trails Association is one of my favorite non-profit organizations. The organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Every August, they host a "Hike-A-Thon" fundraiser, where persons can hike and try to raise funds in support of trails. I have signed up. My goals are modest---I want to raise awareness about WTA, maybe raise a few dollars through donations, and hike throughout August, as time permits. Here's a link to my Hike-A-Thon page!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chuckanut Footrace

Last Saturday was the 50th annual running of the Chuckanut Footrace. I was there.

I've done this race a number of times over the years, though I certainly wasn't at the first one. I suspect there were one or two locals who did the event in Year 1, and were here again this year. I stash my t-shirts because of long-running events like this. I used to have t-shirts from the 1980s, but they passed on some time ago. These days, I throw the old ones in a plastic bin, which will probably be unearthed after I pass on.  Hopefully though I'll dig through these now and then and be "that guy" at the race with the t-shirt from the middle earth days.

My time was slow, as has been frequently reported here. For the record, I felt like I had a bad day, despite my lack of fitness. Sometimes the hips and calves engage better than others. Onward with the stretching, the core exercises, the continued signing up for events.

The race itself was terrific, and terrifically run. The seven mile course starts down by the ferry terminal in Fairhaven, and then traverses the Interurban Trail out to Larrabee Park. The first three miles have a mild case of the uphills, and the final four miles are flat or slightly downhill.  Lots of healthy, happy people moving down the trail.

Congratulations to the Greater Bellingham Running Club for keeping this marvelous race going, year after year, and special thanks to RD Kelly for her years of work on this race. The bottle opener medal was a fine token to remember the race by, whenever I need a cold one.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Great Sedro-Woolley Footrace

If it's the 4th of July, and I'm home, I'm probably toeing the line for the Great Sedro-Woolley Footrace. Its always good to see my local running friends, and the 5.17 mile course remains the same.  My times, however, seem to get slower every year.  This year I finished over 56 minutes.  I have ran this one in under 40 in earlier years.  Nonetheless, I was happy, as I could barely walk straight, when I started, because my quads and legs were a mess from hiking up and jogging down the steep Sourdough Mountain, two days before. The flip side is I was about 5 minutes slower than two years before.




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sourdough Mountain

Mike and I went up Sourdough Mountain in the North Cascades this weekend. This was a redemption hike, as we tried to get up there a few years ago, but were stymied by snow.

We met in Mount Vernon around 6 AM, and I was greatly appreciative that Mike was up for leaving Seattle at 5 AM. It's great to make the trailhead before most. One reason Sourdough is a favorite of mine is it isn't too far of a drive from home--less than an hour and half.

The hike is tough. A really stiff climb for the first two miles, and it never really lets up. I think climb is 5000 feet in about 5.5 miles. There was snow at the top, but it was quite manageable, and added to the allure of the lookout. The lookout is well known, as one of the Beat poet lookouts, once giving summer residence to Gary Snyder and Phil Whaley.

The wildflowers are blooming. Columbine, Indian paintbrush, varieties of phlox, and other annual favorites. Now is the time to be up high. The views from the top were spectacular, with Hozomeen and the Pickets Range figuring prominently.

More people on trail than usual. It is the 4th of July weekend.

The biggest highlight was the bear we saw on the way down. The bear was feeding in field, tucked between a switchback. It was not moved by the clapping of hands, or the banging of sticks. It took a good five minutes to convince Mr. or Ms. Bear to move along, and then we seemed to chase down the trail for another 15 minutes, as Bear seemed happy to opt for trail over steep slope. Pretty special stuff.

I was slow going up. When I was in shape, I could do this climb in under three hours, but we took more than four hours. Mike is in shape, and so awesome in accommodating my slowness. We kept a steady, talking pace going up, making it a terrific day with a good friend, on trail. Coming down was tough on the quads. There was some running, albeit slow and stilted. Hopefully recovery is quick.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

March Point 10k

I made it out to the March Point 10k again this weekend. This is a favorite Skagit County 10k. I think this was year 20. Thank you to Tesoro and all the volunteers.

We actually went to the Ms-Cardinals game down at SafeCo the night before, which ended with a spectacular walk off homer by Adam Lind. So, for the second week in a row, I did a Saturday morning event after a night down in Seattle.

I ran the first three miles or so but tightened up after that, and had to walk and run. Eventually, the finish line came up.  It was terrific to see many local friends. The race was delayed by a half hour due to a shutdown on I-5.

There must be a rookery of herons near the shoreline that we ran, as I saw a dozen or so perched near each other.  A few eagles were hanging out on pier posts.

July should bring more outdoor adventures. I have a few good hikes in mind, and a few short races on the horizon. Just keeping at it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon

The 2016 Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon is in the books.  For me, the back of the book, but happy to have got out there again.  No pictures this year, but here is a link to pics from a few years back. The course remains the same. (Yes, that's a Zep nod! I got the Led out.)

Lots of rain this year.  I ran and walked in the OR Seattle Sombrero and a Patagonia Houdini. The rain wasn't too cold--it is June--but it vacillated between banana boat rain and aggressive drizzle. Rain in the NW is like paint colors--endless varieties.

The course starts in downtown Burlington, heads out of town by berry fields and rural houses, and then travels for four or five miles on the Skagit River dike, with great views of the river and the valley. The race finishes in downtown Burlington on the Berry Dairy Days parade route. Flat, with a mix of road, gravel, and paths. The race is small, affordable, and near to home. One of my faves.

I went to Seattle the night before for the Crocodile's 25th Anniversary show, and didn't get home until 2:30. Rolled out of bed at 6:30, and did the early start. I ran some, walked some, and finished slow. It was a good workout and I really enjoyed the time outside in the rain. Also, good to see Stan and Jon. Kevin, Keefer, and all the volunteers do a great job with this event. I'll be back.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunflower Half Marathon

I returned to the beautiful Okanagan in Central Washington yesterday to run, shuffle, and walk the Sunflower Half Marathon. It was a gorgeous day, which after a while got really hot, reaching 87 degrees, without shade. 

The course is one of the better half marathons you'll find anywhere, at least when the flowers are in bloom. The Sunflower runs have been around for 35+ years, and include a relay and an "iron" or marathon distance. This was the first year for the half marathon distance, which is a point to point jaunt from the Chickadee trailhead to Twisp. I've ran the full marathon and the former 21 mile distance, and I think the half grabs the best section of the route. 

The trail is frequently lined with balsam root sunflowers and violet-blue lupine. Portions of the route are along a plateau, with views of the snow-covered North Cascades in the distance. Views of Patterson Lake and other lakes around the route. Rolling hills of the Okanagan, still green with spring. Sections of the course were burned in recent fires, and are just starting to experience new growth. The finish drops from the plateau back down to the Methow River and Twisp.

There are many runners, between the marathoners, the relay teams, and the half marathoners. The marathoners and half marathoners are bussed to the start, to enable the point-to-point. The altitude is a bit elevated, around 2000 feet. There are some climbs here and there, including a somewhat stiff one about mid-way through the half, after an exchange.

I drove over in the early AM, which isn't too tough from Mount Vernon. My effort was a struggle, as my left leg and shin didn't participate for the first few miles. Then it got hot, and I melt in the sun. I dunked my hat in streams at least three times, but have some bad sun burn today. Still, the distance was short enough that there was no real crisis--just slow times. I also took a bunch of photos.

Great to see friends over there from B'ham and the Okanagan. Great job by MVSTA, as always. The registration was gifted to me by a friend of a friend--thank you friends! Such a wonderful place to visit.

And then there's that North Cascades pass drive. Lots of people were out on the trailheads, with skis, snowshoes, and other gear.  I listened to the Seattle Springsteen concert on the way out and back, which we attended in March. It was an awesome show--Eddie Vedder even showed up. I purchased the cd, and it was pretty cool to hear the whole concert again on the drive. For me, the drive is all part of the journey to visiting the Methow, and so it's part of the memory, and so I mention it here.