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.