Sunday, December 19, 2010
(photos: Matt Kirk)
I started slow, recovering from a nasty cold and a 6 month slow down. Since Tahoe Rim this summer, things have not been the same. I felt that would change on this day. I made my way up and down snow covered trails, but thankfully nothing as bad as last year. My lowest point of the run was the climb up Pilot mountain, as is always the most difficult part every year. After crossing over the parkway and getting up in the balds I felt as if the worst was behind me. The balds were surprisingly calm, and I drew energy from the sunshine that broke out for the first time all day.
I noticed Stan, Scott, and Liz behind me as I summited Tenant Mountain. I pushed on ahead knowing that Scott had mentioned earlier he would be taking a shortcut to bypass the narrows. I clearly could feel the effects of the lack of training and running over the past 6 months, but I was determined to finish the full trail again this year. The narrowes section was tricky with all the ice, but I managed to push thru and make that sharp left for another 3 miles down hill as the sun was setting. It was dark when I rolled into the cabin finishing in just under 11 hours.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
40 miles on the Appalachian Trail 10:49
Great Smokey Mountains National Park
We stood on the summit of Clingmans Dome as the red glow of the morning began to illuminate a new day. I thought about the last time I stood here. It was in the middle of my SCAR run in the summer of 2009.
Dave, Paul, John and I set off for an adventure on the Appalachian Trail. We would run from the highest point in the Smokey Mountains to the Northeastern tip. I had dropped my car off at the Big Creek parking lot, 1.4 miles downhill from Davenport Gap, some 40+ miles away from where I was standing.
The first two miles were chilly, and required a headlamp as the sun took its time to fully come out. But when it did, and the low angle red rays filtered thru the spruce trees and reflected off my breath which I could see clearly at this cold hour of the morning. Here I stopped and pointed out this phenomena to John who was immediately behind me. It is moments like these that bring out the full joy of running in the mountains of Appalachia.
Running from Clingmans to Newfound Gap is mostly downhill, but there are a few climbs. Both John and I made it to Newfound Gap in less than 2 hours, and Paul was maybe 45 seconds behind us. We refilled water, made a few clothing adjustments as the sun was out and about just before 9am. I was headed to Davenport Gap a few miles longer than where everyone else was going, Cosby Campground, and so after a few minutes I told the fellas I would be on my way. I stuck to my plan, hike the hills, and run the flats and downhills. So I took off.
From this point forward I was in a daze. I spilled my mind onto the trail, and danced on the rocks as if I was a mountain goat. My left heel was talking to me, so I took some vitamin I to quiet it down. I talked for a long time before it became quiet. I hung a sharp left just before hitting the Icewater Spring, which is where I refilled my bottles, and kept moving forward at a healthy pace.
Next thing I know I see John right behind me, and we ran together for 2 miles or so when we both reached Pecks Corner. Here John decided to hike down to the shelter to retrieve water, and I went on my way to continue this journey solo. I again put myself in a daze and before I knew it I had passed Tricorners Knob, and was hiking past Mt. Gyuot. Here, I met a man and his son boiling hot water on the trail for some hot coco. "How cool is that!" I thought to myself silently. “Its all downhill from here” the man shouted out at me. I nodded, and kept moving, knowing full well I had a few more climbs before this was all said and done.
I still had 15 miles to go from here, and took full advantage of the downhills, moving at a healthy pace. I wasn’t flying, but moving consistently, which I felt I did the entire day. I zipped past Old Black, passed the Snake Den Trail (where Paul, David, and John planned to turn left to Cosby campground), kept up some speed as I pulled into Camel Gap, passed Cosby Knob, and ran downhill all the way to Low Gap. I then hiked up the hill they call Cammerer, bypassed the tower and turned right for the longest 5 miles of the day. They were all downhill too. I reached the gravel road in 10:49, 12 minutes slower than my 2008 run, and shuffled back to my car at the Big Creek parking lot. I was happy to put another Clingmans to Davenport adventure on the books, and share in what turned out to be the most beautiful fall day so far this year!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, August 02, 2010
I laid on my sleeping pad amongst a hundred tents all propped up in the middle of the Queens College athletic field and kept telling myself...let your booty recover. My watch read 3:30am. I was in pain, and in area's I usually don’t feel pain, my palms hurt, my neck was stiff, and my booty was not used to this. I faded into a sleep.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Sunday, July 04, 2010
I visit the mystical lands of Morocco year after year on a pilgrimage that sends back in time to ancient lands where Sultan's ruled. I could fly into Casablanca, but then again, I’ve done that many times over. So I find interesting routes to get to the lands of the ancient Berbers and Arabs of the far West. This time, the Canary Islands, some 180 miles off the coast of Africa, deep into the Sahara Desert was my approach. No visit to new lands can go without foot exploration and climbing to the tipy tops.
I started my day casually in Santa Cruz, and enjoyed a scenic drive on this magical island they call Tenerife. I made my way to San Cristobal de la Laguna, which is where I pit stopped at a supermarcado and stocked up on some hydration and calories and practiced my Espanol. I bought locally grown fruit, french bread, cheese, water, and a can of tuna.
I took off on the main highway and hung a left of TF21. Tenerife, like Gran Canaria, is very densely populated, about twice is populated as Hawaii. Many of the residents live on the coast, and very few live on the jagged mountains. This explains the miles and miles of high-rises in the major cities of Tenerife, and the 5 lane highway that climbs up to the ridge of the mountains and back to the other side of the coast. The summer time brings out many lobster pink European tourists which only add to the over population. This made me retreat faster to the hills.
The Island itself is less than 2,000 square kilometers, but has several different micro-climates that are evident. The North sees many clouds and keeps the island very gree, and the South is opposite, giving off a desert like arid climate. The West is very mountains, and is home to some Jurassic Parkish like views. Absolutly stunning. More on that below…
I reached the town of La Orotava and began driving up the steep windy roads until Teide was in clear view. The fresh mountain island air brought strength to me. The green quickly turned into black volcanic rock as I was climbing higher and higher. This terrain is harsh, dry, and arid. I parked my car at the trailhead, which is about 2km away from the gondola to the East. Yes, there is a gondola that will take you close to the summit, which is frankly ridiculous.
The Tenerifians have noticed that many want to reach the summit of this massive volcano, and now require you to file for a permit before attempting to climb. This reduces traffic to this delicate landscape, and it is a good idea to plan ahead if you dare to travel to the land of the exotic. My plan was to also stay at the Refugio Altavista, and I had reserved a spot here. Not know what to expect, I figured a place to spend the night high up on the mountain would be called for.
The first 3 miles up this hill was on a dusty double track jeep road that switched back and forth and had a light brown sandy color. I ran and hiked up this section, until I reached the single track volcanic rock, which is where I took my time speed hiking uphill. I passed many, and greeted all with an “hola, Buen-Dia!”
I reached the Refugio faster than I thought, and climbed a bit higher and took a lunch break. The views of the Atlantic Ocean on both sides of this mountain, with La Orotava and the entire North coast of Tenerife from 11,000 feet was absolutely fantastico. I was making good time, so I headed for the summit.
The entire time I was on trail #7, and when I reached high above, near where the gondola would terminate I hung a left onto trail #11 which took me to a gate that was unlocked, and then turned right onto trail #10 which climbed up steeply. Sulfuric steam oozed out of this active volcano which last erupted in 1909, not very long ago. From here there was about 750 feet of climbing to the top. I reached the summit at 6:10pm and spent 15 minutes or so soaking up the views, which again were plentiful on both sides of the Atlantic. I stood on top of Spain, and paid respects to the summit with a loud coyote howl. I did not suffer any altitude issues despite being at sea level for several nights before.
I then ran back down all the way to the car in less than two hours, passing the Refugio and letting them know I would be taking a pass. I was in the car by 8pm, and drove West thru the road that takes you to black volcanic rock all the way to the town of Los Giganties, and as the sun set, I saw the Giants.
Los Giganties, the Giants, are massive Cliffs that rise over 2,500 feet straight out of the Atlantic Ocean. This view is mesmerizing, and as such, a resort town has flourished. German and English speaking pink people swarmed the beaches. So after breakfast I fled to the town of Masca. After passing thru the town of Santiago del Teide I turned left on what appeared to be a one way road up a steep mountain that switchbacked several times. This road was very narrow, and any mistake would take you down a steep cliff and your life would end. The views were again, Jurassic Parkish.
A tour bus raced down this road right at me! My life was going to end, as there was no way the bus would pass. Had I made a wrong turn on a one way road? I slammed my brakes, and reversed to car to a wider patch of asphalt and the bus roared down the mountain. I proceeded with caution, and realized that the road was very narrow, but was intended for two way traffic. I reached the ridge, and enjoyed a café con leche at the top, just looking around in all directions seeing ocean, and steep mountains and cliffs. The village of Masca is home to 150 inhabitants, which is in the Teno Mountains, ranging in heights of 600-800 meters, and extend up to the northwesternmost point of Tenerife. The village in the 1960s was accessed only by paths and was inaccessible by roads. The centre of the village features a small square and a small church.
I planned to hike down the Barranco de Masca (Masca Gorge), and hike back up to the car, a total of 9 miles round trip. It was hot, and dry. Every step my feet took, I could hear lizards dash away, they were everywhere. I took my time running down here, making sure I would be able to find my way back. I passed two Spaniards that were lost. They were clearly unprepared to go down this gorge, one in flip flops, both with no food or water. They asked for directions and water. I gave them an apple to share, and 8 ounces of water, and kept pushing thru the gorge. The streams and bamboo shoots were a change of scenery. I paid attention to my time, ensuring to budget enough of it for my return. The gorge winded around many times over and I saw massive cliffs with layered rocks resembling many sections of the Grand Canyon. I finally reached the Atlantic ocean. I walked over to a small pier and met two local Tenerifians and two German chicas. I asked them if they would take a photo of my jumping in the Atlantic, I needed to cool off.
After drying off, I asked them if they were too going to return up the Barranco de Masca. They thought this idea was crazy, surly they didn’t think they had enough time. They were waiting for a boat to pick them up, and take them to the resort town of the Giants, and offered me a ride. We saw many dolphins along the way. We all had dinner, and then I hitched a ride to Masca, and drove all the way back to Santa Cruz, and catched the ferry to Las Palmas the next morning.
I spent the entire day of July the 4th touring the Island of Gran Canaria and was able to see much of the mountains, and very little of the coast. I sipped on some cafe con leche in the small mountain village of Tejeda, and saw views of Teide on Tenerife in the distance. A smaller island compared to Tenerife, but just as densely populated. Tourist flock to the south...
Saturday, June 26, 2010
write up by some dude
100 mile century ride
Vale Crucis, NC
I completed the Blood, Sweat, & Gears 100 mile century ride in 8:25:52. My legs certainly were not fresh having busted out a few miles in Wyoming the weekend before. What really threw me off was 2 flats, one at mile 31, and the other at mile 76.
My second flat almost had me with my hands up and throwing in the towel. I didn't have a second tube, so I took a nap under the shade for 20 minutes until someone offered the tube. The nap felt great!
Making the cut off to mile 82 by literally 3 minutes, I pushed on all the way to the finish. BSG has some nasty elevation gain, and many
hair pin turns on the descents, causing many to crash, or go off road into the trees. Climbing up Snake Mtn forced many to walk the bike, which I did for 5 minutes or so. This was a great ride, and certainly worth checking off the list.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Later the next day we had pancakes at the breakfast and listed to the awards ceremony. I had the opportunity to take a car out to Burgess Junction just West of Dayton, WY. I explored the lands that once were roamed by Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Sultan, David Petroski, Paul Geist, Jinnie Austin, Stan Austin, David Pryor, Psyche Wimberly, Barbara Babb, Sara Sibley, Kristin W, Bruce Babb, Jeremy Hargroves, Adam Hill, and Michael Jackson
14 runners attempted and completed the RAM.
Kristen W (half)
Sara D. Sibley
Gail Leedy put on an aid station this year at 19E. Without her help, many of us would have suffered more. Thank you Gail!
The RAM has over 28 miles of the most beautiful section on the Appalachian Trail. We run it in early June to see the rhododendron bloom. This year Adam Hill broke the record and ran the entire RAM in just over 5 hours, which is frankly redonkulously fast.
I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story….