Saturday, June 8, 2019

Kelly Mountain

Date: June 8, 2019.

Objective: Kelly Mountain in the Soldier Mountains.  Elev 8,826'.

Partners: Deez, Landen, Ketchum.

Links: Strava. Lists of John.

Notes: Good dirt road to Kelly Canyon, then a bit more rough but passable with a Forester to where we parked.  Beyond that, HCV would be needed to drive further up and shorten the hike.  A few good camp sites nearby.


Friday, May 3, 2019

A Turtle on the Weiser River Trail 50k

Date: Saturday April 27, 2019.

Objective: Run 50k.

Partners: Deez and Landen crewed.

Links: Strava.


Thank you to the RD's, my crew and the volunteers!

I wasn't going to write a report for this, but I figured I might as well.  I used this race as a long training run and of course to see a new area.  This was pretty much a "check the box" type event for me but the RD's did put on a well organized event.  This is a point to point course that changes direction every year.  I ran it on a year that the course profile is basically downhill.  Even on the uphill course, there is only about 500 feet of gain.

Race morning was a bit brisk but I knew the day would rapidly warm up so I started in a short sleeve shirt.  I ran into Erik at the start line.  He filed to the front and I stood in the back like I usually do and waited for the green light.  The initial out and back section was unremarkable other than high-fiving Erik as he ran past me before I got to the turn around.  The first few miles all for a warm up anyways.

I was only aiming to average an 11 min/ mile pace for a finish time of sub 6 hours.  Yes, I know I'm slow but that's my pace.  The pace of a chill tortoise.

After plodding along for about an hour, I hit the first aid station which was just a walk though.  I had no reason to stop other than to hit the porta-potty.

My conservative paced start had me nice and warmed up and feeling good and I had already passed several people by this point.  From then on, I found my groove and went into cruise control.  I'd see a runner ahead of me and surge until I was on their six, then I'd chat with them for a minute, then surge and separate.  The scenery along the river was interesting with a lot of birds and the occasional glimpse of the nearby mountains.  There were also relay teams running the course and every so often I'd get passed by one of those quick hares.  I kept my pace and kept passing other solo runners all the way to the end.  Nothing personal, nothing competitive, just a turtle in his groove. 

I didn't see Deez and Landen until the third aid station in Cambridge at mile 22ish.  They were quick to run up and remind me to apply sunscreen.  Deez filled by bottles with Tailwind while I grabbed some real food and then I was out.  Only 9 miles to go!

By now there was a stiff head wind that lasted the rest of the race.  The crew was waiting for me at the last aid station and by this time I was staring to cramp.  Here I chugged a small amount of Coke, grabbed some M&M's and a pickle to go.  Not the best combo.  I had a nice little bout of near vomiting but the quick sugar had me feeling a little better.  4.1 miles were all that remained between me and the finish line.

In my limited ultra running experience, I've learned to just focus on running my own race.  I've also learned that time goals are okay, but it's really all about the finish for me.  The last few miles were a bit warm so the breeze was nice, but still annoying.  Landen was waiting for me about a hundred feet from the finish line to run in with me.  The chase was on to pass one more runner!  I let him take it by a nose.  Crossing the finish line of an ultra has never not been an emotional experience and I was quite happy with my finish time of 5:43.


Grandjean x7

Date: Saturday April 20, 2019.

Objective: Backcountry camp somewhere in the vicinity.

Partners: Deez.

Stats: 3.4 mile round trip with >200ft elevation gain.

Links: Strava.

Way back in 2013 I decided to take Deez on her first overnight hike from the Grandjean Trail head in April.  Ever since then, this has become a sentimental "right of passage" so to speak, to sneak out for a quick over nighter. After all these years, this was actually only the second time we were not able to drive to the trail head.

Late winter snow was lingering and the forecast was not great.  However I'll take just about any chance I can get to go "off the grid" so there was no question that this was going down.  Starting from Hwy 21 we hiked out on the Grandjean road.  The conditions were comparable to the last snow year, which surprisingly was not 2017 aka Snowpocalypse.

We had a fairly good idea of where we were heading.  The downside was that I was a short walk.  The upside was that if/when it rained, it would be a short walk back to the car.

We found a suitable camp site right along the South Fork of the Payette River after only 45 minutes of walking.  The tent went up and a nap soon followed.  I was woken up a bit after 3pm to a rumble of thunder.  A light but steady rain soon followed and lasted about an hour.

The rest of the evening was off again - on again showers and thunder.  At one point we sought refugein the tent during a rather intense shower with some impressive thunder and lightning.  It was almost enough to make us question our life choices.

Funny how a few thin pieces of nylon are all that separates us from the storm.

Eventually we were able to emerge from the tent for a while.  Even though the storm broke for a good long while, we never did see any stars.

The night was a bit warmer than we had planned on and my zero degree bag proved to be overkill.


The morning sun rose the next day and I enjoyed a strong mug of Joe before we packed up and returned to "on the grid" status. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Mount Caroline Livermore

Date: December 31, 2018.

Objective: Mount Caroline Livermore  781 feet.

Stats: 5 miles and 900 feet of gain round trip.  Strava track.

Partners: Deez and our new friends Dwight and Co.

Notes: Ferry required to reach the island.

Links: Angel Island web pageWiki page.

Angel Island.

We were in San Francisco for a New Years Eve concert.  After getting concert tickets, booking a flight and hotel and all that stuff, the next thing we did was look for a reachable ranked peak in the area.  A quick map check revealed that there are several peaks near by.  The most interesting one was on Angel Island.  Angel Island is known as the Ellis Island of the west.  Unfortunately, nothing on the island was open and we didn't get into the historical side of it.

The first order of business was to catch the ferry to the island.  $19.50 round trip per person; park entrance fee included.  It was a windy day so the water was fairly choppy.  I spent a good amount of time staring at my shoes to avoid the vertigo that I usually get when on a boat in high seas.  I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that this was a "strenuous" six to seven mile round trip.  I thought this might make it a tight window since the last boat off the island (which we really wanted to catch) gave us a little over four hours to make the trip.

Keep in mind that my idea of a vacation is most peoples worst nightmare.  What some people consider "strenuous" I consider easy.  But the stats don't lie and a 6-7 mile hike with 800 feet of vert falls in my "easy category".  Four hours should be plenty of time to tag the peak and get back to the dock to get a beer that we can't buy because the cafe is closed...

The boat docked and we were on our way up the trail.  The wind wasn't as bad as I expected and the warm temps soon had us hiking in T-shirts.

Start of the North Ridge Trail.

We took the North Ridge Trail on the way up and it starts with a long set of stairs.  I think I read somewhere that there were 140 steps but I didn't bother to count them.

Deez on the trail.

The north side of the island is shaded with big trees and ferns.  Very pretty!

Looking at the high point from the trail.

Beautiful and fun rolling trail.

The trail was very easy and not at all like what I thought I read somewhere.

San Francisco and Alcatraz Island,

After 2 miles I checked the map and saw that we had less than half a mile to the summit.  Hooray!
A beautiful 360 degree view of San Francisco Bay greeted us at the top.

Tiburon, Ca.

Summit shot.

Chilly winds out of the north had us back in our shell jackets while we took pictures.

Deez in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We headed down to the picnic bench and had a snack.  We were sitting next to a group of three that we had hiked near on the trail.  Then the guy I was sitting next to asked me about my jacket.  Yeah we talked for a the rest of the time we were there.  They were a very nice group from the Philippines staying in SF for a month on holiday.  Turns out Dwight is a mountaineer himself!  We wished each other well as Deez and I packed up and headed out.

Sunset Trail.

We took the Sunset Trail on the south side of the island on the way down.  Still great views, slightly warmer and very similar to the Boise Foothills.

Enjoying the view on the way down.

Golden Gate Bridge.

There was a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Crazy to think that all that stands between you and Japan is the Pacific Ocean.  I think I miss the coast.

I believe this is Mount Tamalpais but I could be wrong.

We got down to the dock with plenty of time to spare and hunkered down out of the wind.  We ran into Dwight and Co. again and hung out with them on the way back to the dock at San Francisco.  We were now a group of five!  Dwight, his wife who just happens to be an ultra marathoner and I believe her sister were a pleasure to meet.  We exchanged contact info with the hope that we can climb together sometime.  Too bad we didn't get a picture together.

We parted ways and Deez and I headed off to ring in the new year at the Masonic Theater with one of my top 3 favorite bands, Thievery Corporation.  Oh man they were ssssooooooo good!

Thievery Corporation on stage.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Peak 4,791 and The Yellow Jacket

Our first trip into the Leslie Gulch area was fantastic.

Date: October 20-21, 2018.

Partners: Deez and Lan-Lan.

Location: Leslie Gulch / Juniper Gulch, Mahogany Mountains Oregon.

Objectives: Peak 4,791 and The Yellow Jacket.

Stats: 6 miles and 1,700ft gain round trip.  Strava.  Easy class 3 at most.

Links: Camp ground info.

Notes: Fair to good gravel road is long and washboard but a passenger car should make it.  This area is very remote so come prepared.

I was hammering out a plan for what might be our last camping trip of the year.  Over the last couple of years we have been heading out to Craters of the Moon in the fall, which is a fine time to go.  While a trip to Craters is never a bad idea, I was thinking a change of venue might be nice.  I put two options of the table; one for Craters and one for Leslie Gulch.  In the end Leslie Gulch won out, even though that meant not getting to stop at the Wrangler in Fairfield.

The road off of Hwy 95 to the camp ground was long and washboard, but we made it no-problemo.  The weather was pleasant and a bit warm if anything.  The flies were still out in force but subsided quickly as the night cooled off.  We spent a bit of time around the fire and realized we totally dropped the ball on bringing S'mores. 

We dinked around the next morning and got a late start which ended up biting us in the you-know-where.  Instead of starting off when it was cool, we were headed straight into the heat of the day.  Yes, late October.  Yes I said heat.

Juniper Gulch trail head area,

Signage indicating the route options.

Juniper Gulch.

Start of the trail.

We started up Juniper Gulch which is shaded for the most part.  However we were again dinking around taking in the scenery.  Boring Geology lesson would go here...

There was one interesting section of vertical rock that required a boost to get the youngster up and over.  With that in addition to the other slots that we scrambled and wiggled though, we had a blast.  This is volcanic terrain but it reminded me of the sandstone canyons of Zion.  See what I did there...

Overhanging cliff along the trail.

One of several half-tunnels.

Down in the canyon.

Sometimes you just gotta bust a stem move even it it isn't needed.

Narrow gulch and sandy trail.

Cool rock formations.

Peak 4,791 at the head of the canyon.

It was tough to balance time moving with time taken to enjoy the hike.  We made fair time as we neared the end of the Gulch and started the steep and shadeless hike up to the saddle just below Peak 4,791.

The choice to head to Peak 4,791 first was a no-brainer since there was only a third of a mile and 300 feet of vert left.  Sorta steep but manageable but no shade.  We entered the summit block and topped out on easy class 3 terrain with very little vertical exposure.  Getting to the high point required a couple of easy hops.

Looking over to 4,791 from the saddle.

"Easy 3" terrain to the high point.

The Yellow Jacket from 4,791.  The route follows the right side of the ridge line.

Summit selfie and Landens first Oregon peak.

The Roster Comb on the west side of Owyhee River.

After the summit rituals were finished, we headed down to find some shade.  We went for shady spot A, then to shady spot B which was a lone tree near the base of The Yellow Jacket.  It wasn't too far but the sun was hot.  I'm not sure how this peak got its name and I hoped it wasn't due to a swarm of yellow jackets waiting to greet us on the summit.  The route to the summit definitely looked interesting from a distance, but it became obvious as we approached the base of the summit block.

Easy terrain heading over to The Yellow Jacket.

Summit block of The Yellow Jacket.

I would describe our route as easy class 3 with one section of mild exposure.  There is obviously more than one route and I was looking for the best way to get the youngster up.  I spotted for the crew on the one very short exposed section and it went without a problem.

Looking west.

Deez on The Yellow Jacket.

The summit was actually flat and grassy with plenty of room and the view was 10/10.  We had our moment but it was also time to move on.

Peak 4,719.

Summit selfie #2.

Landen pointing out the high point.

The good news was that it was literally all down hill.  The bad news was that we had to get down the steep and shadeless slope to get into the canyon and back into the shade. 

Looking down to the south.

Some weird site along the way.
We passed by some fenced area, approx 10m x 10m, that appeared to be some type of ecological study or something. 

Walking back to the saddle.

The lone tree of shade.

Heading back to the saddle.

The return trip was uneventful and the first thing I did was crank the AC in the car when we got there.  Let that be an advisory that one would probably not want to be out here in the summer months.  Early spring and late fall is the season here!