Monday, November 30, 2015

Quad Dipsea - Bees!

Bees! On the section of the Quad Dipsea known as the Hurricane, about three miles into the race, I got swarmed by yellow jacket wasps, getting tangled in my hair, stinging relentlessly.

I had been training for this run all season. I ran the Golden Hills marathon, the Sacramento Blerch Half, and the Berkeley Half marathon, all in preparation for the Quad Dipsea. I was in form to do well, and then at the beginning I got swarmed. I wanted to run this strong, but after suffering 7-10 stings on my scalp and neck, I blew up.

I had to fight the urge to quit and get an ice pack for  eight and a half hours. During leg four my right hip started cramping up, so for the last seven miles I had to fight both the wasp stings and the muscle cramps.

But I finished. It was sad and pathetic, but I finished.

There were moments of joy. Bob found portabello mushrooms in John Muir woods and picked them during the third leg. Alex Varner passed me on the bottom of the staircase on my leg two and his leg four. The weather was picture perfect, no wind, sun, cool temps, no mud. But wasps. Lots and lots of wasps.

Friday, August 21, 2015

TYT - Tahoe Yosemite Trail

The Tahoe Yosemite Trail is a 186 mile trail that was the dream of  Thomas Winnett, the founder of Wilderness Press, publisher of many hiking guides. Today the TYT is an unofficial trail, running from Meeks Bay to Yosemite. This past week my running club trekked 30 miles of this route, in two sections. The first section we tackled was from Echo Lake to Aloha Lake, as an out-and-back. The second section we ran consisted of the first official portion of the TYT, starting at Meeks Bay, over Phipps Pass, and connecting to the PCT. We then chose to exit at Eagles Lake trail head, near Emerald Bay.

Tahoe Yosemite Trail
Tahoe Yosemite Trail
 Phipps Pass

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Duck Pass and McGee Pass

I reentered the trail at Coldwater via the free Mammoth trolley bus orange line. The Duck Trail takes you up to Duck Pass and past Duck Lake. It then connects to the JMT and PCT.

Going up to Duck Pass, with a view of Barney Lake

Going up Duck Pass

I skipped Purple Lake and went on to Lake Virginia

 I had the whole place to myself! Everyone stayed at Purple Lake. Lake Virginia was prettier and warm enough to swim. It has a shallow beach area where the water warms up.

This is when my tooth went bad.... In the morning it was throbbing so much that I decided that I should either turn back, or to go over the next pass and exit. My map showed that McGee was only a 13 mile trail to the trailhead, then 30 miles to Mammoth. What the map did not say is that this pass was actually 15 miles and very hard (not including the 2-3 miles to get to the trail fork from Lake Virginia). I lost the trail 2x and had to use my orienteering skills. McGee is not popular on its western side. It's eastern side is a popular fishing area. It was very easy to get lost between the PCT and the McGee Pass. I was a little scared. And there was not a single soul out there. And only two other sets of footprints.

After traveling up the McGee creek, and forging the creek at least 5x (soaked trail runner shoes), fending off mosquitoes, and tracking the true trail (versus false stream trails) I emerged in the High Sierra grasslands, with true trail.

And then hit the switchbacks on scree.

At the top of the pass I met two San Diego firefighters on a fishing trip. They hooked me up with Aleve and whiskey, and told me crazy stories of rescuing Navy guys. The guy in yellow's name is "Tractor" and the other guy did not have a trail name (and I forgot his real name). He dubbed me "Snaggletooth". I now have an official trail name. Snaggletooth. These guys were the best! (I accidentally saw them again in Mammoth at the Brewing Company. We three had lunch with "All Good" who is the head of!about_us/c14e3 )

The McGee Pass travels between the Red Slate Mountain and the Red and White Mountain. Over 12,000 feet high. The pass is at 11,900. This is why the PCT and JMT hikers do not use it... The trail continues to follow down the McGee creek, and there are many lakes feed from its waters, including the Little McGee and the Big McGee. Many waterfalls and trout.

More about the McGee Pass: The area actually was the first Eastern Sierra ski area, before Mammoth. It was founded by the McGee family, who were Scottish limestone miners. Later, a guy named McCoy build a tow rope to get skiers up the mountain in the 1930's. (I did not take notes and cannot find the history via Google, so I am going by memory here.) Now, it is a fishing destination, next to the very large Lake Crowley.

The trail ends with a dirt path covered in Donkey's Ears and sage, and the heat of the other side of the High Sierra range. I was lucky that when I emptied out at the trailhead a local rancher and his son picked me up right away and drove me to Tom's Place. I got a bunk at Tom's Place for $30 a night, and medicated my throbbing tooth. The next morning I put the word out that I was hitching to Mammoth, and the owner of the local store drove me into town. He told me stories of Crowley Lake and recommended Convict Lake. We watched the hang gliders take off of the range I just traversed.

In Mammoth, I checked back into 19 Davidson, and the next morning took the YARTS bus back to Yosemite, where my brother and my car were waiting. We did get stuck in Yosemite two more nights due to floods. The highway to Merced washed out, so the traffic to the Bay Area was so backed up it made more sense to just make camp. We got the last campsite up by Glacier Point at Bridalveil Creek. It was a smart more. In the morning there was not a single car on the road. Now I am scheduled for a root canal!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The High Sierra via the JMT

This July I was able to secure a Glacier Point to Mt. Whitney Portal permit for the John Muir Trail.  Due to time restrictions, I planned on only hiking to Bishop's Pass; due to a bad tooth (root canal in two days), I had to exit at McGee Pass. Here is a quick overview of the hike:

The first three nights: Tamarack Flats and Backpackers Camp
There was snow the first two nights, but my all season bivy can handle anything.

Starting at Glacier Point

Met a Grouse

Hiked the Sunrise Trail, still damaged from a fire

Camped at Sunrise

Putting in about 15-18 miles a day. This means I don't see many people...

Just Cathedral Lakes and deer

Had a ham a cheese sandwich at Tuolumne Meadows and then camped in Lyell Canyon

More deer

The Lone Boot

I hiked with a gentleman from Nova Scotia for a few miles. He took a pic for me hiking the north side of Donahue Pass

More North side of Donohue

On Donohue Pass I met a Marmot

I camped at Thousand Islands. All the peeps camped at Garnet Lake, where there was a bad bear. I had no bad bears.

I exited at Agnew Meadows to resupply, and stayed at 19 Davidson Guest House for two nights. Eric the owner was a great guy and has a rockin' horseshoe game going on. $28 for a bed. Watched Hell on Wheels and talked to the PCTers (Waves, Up, Sleeping Beauty, and Boy Scout who went to jail. And Simon form Berkeley.)

I caught the free trolley to Duck Trail, and hiked over Duck Pass, making camp at Lake Virginia. That's when my tooth went bad. Did get to swim in Lake Virginia and also talk to a nice couple from Montana.

More later...

Monday, April 6, 2015

American River 50 mile

Finished my first 50 miler Saturday, with a solid time of 11:35:31. It was the best race of my life. I think I had runner's high for all 50 miles, and carry over to the next day. Thanks to my running partner Lynn and my pacer Andrea. And all my regular training buddies!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 goals

2015 is here, and I started the new year with a twisted ankle. Regardless, I have a big year planned:

January: Fremont 50k Fat Ass
March: Marin Ultra Challenge 50k
April: American River 50 miler
July: SF marathon
August: pace Angeles Crest 100 mile
September: Marin Monster 10k race director
November: probably quad Dipsea
December: Honolulu Marathon

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christchurch stories

A good story, or a "crazy" story always happens when you have no itinerary, or you allow yourself to not follow the tourist trail. Like talking the local bus - you know something will go astray on a local bus. That's half the point.

Hugh and booked the local express bus from Dunedin to Christchurch. Neither of us wanted the stress of driving on the left side of the road, on unfamiliar highways. And the price was cheap (25$). And the seats bigger and roomier than on a plane. But the catch was there were limited seats and limited connections to our next bed (in a suburb south of Christchurch in governors bay). Only one connection a day from the city to the burbs.

I easily got our tix at the local Dunedin iSite office at really good rates. And our B&B host volunteered a lift to the bus depot. The bus was a plush ride with a German type time keeper of a driver. We scored front seats with a wide panoramic, no motion sickness, full scenic view. Very pleasant.

Art in Christchurch - the Lego Lambs:

However...halfway through the drive a 20 year old boy sitting in the back of the bus made the driver pull over to throw up - five minute delay. Credit is due this boy - no vomit on the bus, only on the side of the road. Then a second delay - we had a scheduled stop to drop a passenger off in a village, but two people got off instead. Apparently a passenger got off to piss and neglected to tell the driver. About two miles out of town the back of the bus started yelling at our poor driver to turn around to pick back up the renegade pisser. So twenty minutes were wasted on turning around and finding someone who got off the bus for a piss.

More art in Christchurch- murals at the brothel:

Our driver passed other drivers and tried to make up the lost time, but to no avail. We got to Christchurch 20 minutes late, missing our connection to governors bay. However we got lucky - a bus driver named Hugh no less was getting off duty two hours later who lived in governors bay, offered us to take us there for free in his own car, if we were willing to wait till he got off shift? perfect! Yes - we can wait!

The old cathedral:

This gave us about 1.5 hours to walk around Christchurch and take a look at the deviation. And we had timing - we made it to the cardboard cathedral at the start of the children's mass, which featured live barnyard animals. I got to watch a cow poop on the alter! And sheep processing down the pews,with bows on their horns.

Sheet with bows:

Cow with hat:

The cardboard cathedral with the children's mass:

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