My blog is desperately behind and I’m basically just going to start with the current moment but I have a couple of things I want to document on here… one of which is that I ran my first ultra-marathon back in November!
Katie and Georgie talked me into signing up and I felt like a giant imposter because when I say I “run” I really mean I’m the queen of the power hike.
At the start of the race I pretty much felt totally out of place. I had done all my 20 mile trail runs solo and had to be self supported so there I was hanging out at the starting line for a race with aid stations every 7 miles with a 3 liters of water. Whyyyy??
It was a super pretty course as one might expect for Moab. The weather was a perfect November day for a long run: chilly in the morning but not too hot during the middle of the race.
About mile 12 I crashed hard. I felt like crap and was envisioning chasing cutoffs for the rest of the run (because I was not quitting). When I reached the aid station at mile 14 I discovered the joy of Sprite and gummy bears and life got much much better.
Despite my face in the photo below around mile 20, the sugar rush had done its work and I literally felt better as I finished the race than I did at that midpoint.
I did it! I completed an ultra! And then promptly signed up for another for this coming summer.
Although 23 peaks is my second lowest summits since 2014, reaching them involved 47,500′ of elevation gain, the second highest gain since 2014. I simply did most of my climbing here at home which makes for lots of elevation gain.
I added seven county highpoints to the tally: one in Colorado, three in Utah, one in Nevada, one in Oregon and one in Washington.
The line between these two seemed to further blur for me this year as I started to run as often as possible in the mountains (mostly power hiking up and running down) in order to maximize time and mountains visited. (Incidentally, this lead to me running my first 50k in November.)
In 2017, I hiked 29 times and ran 46 for 150 hiking + 184 running = 234 miles. Well. About that. In 2018, I count 28 hikes but 77 runs (which is still meh) but… for a grand total of 646 miles. I signed up for a 70k in July with lotsssss of elevation gain so I’m expecting to see these numbers climb in 2019!
After we left Fish Lake, we headed for Brian Head. Thanks to the long summer days, Sprocket and I had a lot of daylight to play with. We crossed west to US-89 to Panguitch and then onto the very gorgeous UT-143 then up the Forest Service Road to the summit of Brian Head.
Utah had clearly gotten just a little more snow than Colorado but the last lingering snow banks on the way to the summit of Brian Head had already been pushed through leaving Sprocket and I with just a short walk from the parking lot to the true summit of Brian Head, the highpoint of Iron County.
Retracing our path down Brian Head, we headed through Cedar Breaks National Monument. I stopped at the visitor center for a brief visit before continuing down to the highpoint of Kane County.
I wasn’t sure what sort of shape I’d find the road in but it was only a little steep and Ruth XJ made it handily within a quarter mile of the highpoint. Sprocket happily popped out for the short walk to the summit marker.
Quality hiking footwear was used for this forested, not particularly scenic peak:
From the Kane County Highpoint we cruised out to Cedar City and westward!
After heading north from Montezuma Castle, newly armed with an America the Beautiful Pass, I headed for Sunset Crater National Monument. I knew I was running a bit short on daylight for making both Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments (they’re located on the same loop road).
Because I was short on time (and because Sprocket wasn’t allowed on the trails), I just hiked the really short A’a trail. It was super short but it did get down into the lava flow and was pretty darn cool.
The views across the expansive lava fields was really cool though. The landscape was definitely one worlds away from what I see in Colorado! Unfortunately, the summit of Sunset Crater is closed to the public (too much erosion was occurring so it is now off limits).
Shortly after passing by Sunset Crater, the view to the east opens up. There was a really nice overlook and Sprocket and I pulled over to take some photos in the stiff breeze. I love this old boy.
From there, we wound a little more east and then to the north to enter Wupatki National Monument.
Usually stories of setting out on adventure unprepared are frustrating—it can be hard to feel sympathy for the adventurer who doesn’t understand what they’re getting into. Gordon Stainforth’s account Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong of his disastrous attempt on Store Trolltind doesn’t elicit this frustrated and judgmental response from me at all. Although Stainforth and his twin brother John drastically underestimated the time (and the food) their route would take and also overestimated their route finding capabilities on the mountain, I instead felt myself willing them up the wall as I read. In his preface, Stainforth explains that he’d tried to start the book several different ways before settling on writing the story in the first-person present tense as his nineteen year-old self. Sometimes I found the perspective a bit forced but I believe it was also what allowed me to cheer for Gordon and John in their misadventure rather than feel disapproving.
Gordon and John’s introduction to climbing and mountaineering had begun three years earlier when their father had taken them to Switzerland in the wake of their mother’s death. Although they were not allowed to climb the Matterhorn, they found themselves enthralled by the freedom of the mountains. Upon their return to the UK, their father enrolled them in a beginners’ rock climbing course in Wales, they obtained a little snow travel experience on subsequent trips to the Alps, and practiced their climbing anywhere they could (including on trees). They had no big wall climbing. On their trip to Norway in 1969, while waiting for their friends to join them, they decided to climb the Fiva route on Troll Wall. Armed with a barebones guidebook route description, a couple of cheese sandwiches, some chocolate, and a “Space Blanket” they headed up the wall. As can be expected, they faced hunger, cold, injury, and route uncertainty on the way.
Fiva is a page-turner. Like many adventure books, you know the ending but learning just how that ending happens becomes your singular focus. With each switch of the belay, I found myself even more deeply invested in just how Gordon and John were going to extricate themselves from their seemingly bleak situation. Despite looking more than forty years into the past, Gordon Stainforth has written a fast-paced engrossing story of a misadventure that takes the reader along on a harrowing series of events. John’s pictures from the assent along with his Afterward fill out the story. Fiva won the “Best Book—Mountain Literature” at the Banff Mountain Festival in 2012, an honor that seems quite deserved.
I picked up David Moskowitz’sWolves in the Land of Salmon at the library. As a little kid, wolves were my favorite animal and I couldn’t read or learn enough about them and their habits. I was ten in 1995 when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and was so excited about wolves being reintroduced to the American West. My passion for wolves as an essential part of the landscape hasn’t faded (I follow the controversy over wolf-human conflicts and cheer on OR-7 as he travels around Oregon) so I was excited to read the book.
First off, this book is beautiful. Moskowitz also took the photographs for the book and the beautiful shots are scattered liberally throughout the book. Maps are used judiciously throughout the book to illustrate just where wolves can be found today and where they were found in the past. The photos of wolves vary from absolutely sweet pups to the chilling stare of an adult. Photographs of the landscapes in which wolves can be found also add to the book.
Moskowitz put a ton of research into this book, as the twenty page bibliography shows, but does an excellent job of relaying the information to the lay reader. The book’s text is also aided by the amount of time that Moskowitz himself spends outdoors tracking wolves. Grouped into chapters about each of the Northwest regions where wolves can be found (North Cascades, Vancouver Island, Inland Northwest) and chapters about specific wolf qualities (social behavior, hunting & eating, wolf-human relationship) this is a very readable book.
My favorite part was the last chapter discussing how wolves might return to the Olympic Peninsula. The last confirmed wolf killed in Washington state happened on the west side of the Olympics in the 1920s with credible sightings through the 1930s. However, because of the Peninsula’s isolation it is unlikely that wolves will disperse to this area and will probably require human reintroduction to this high quality wolf habitat. What I didn’t know was that the Olympic Marmot, an endemic species, is struggling due to coyote predation and that some scientists think that reintroducing wolves might help reverse population loss.
If you like nature writing, check out Wolves in the Land of Salmon (this is one I would recommend not getting on your Kindle, the book is too pretty in old school form). It’s an excellent portrait of wolves in the Northwest. It is certainly skewed towards support for wolves but I’m skewed that way too so it didn’t bother me in the least. It is more than a regurgitation of facts already in the news and I learned a lot.
Bright and early, Stacia, Andrea, Amanda, and I headed for Morning Glory Canyon (aka Negro Bill Canyon) to do some hiking. There was actually a little more to the plan than just hiking through the beautiful canyon but only 75% of us knew that. 🙂
Stacia and I weren’t sure how far we wanted to hike or exactly what setting she wanted to propose in. What we did know is that we were the only car in the parking lot so we had the canyon to ourselves. There were a few almost right places but when we came to a place where the creek ran right next to the gorgeous red rock with a stone out in the middle of the water we looked at each other, Stacia nodded, and it was a go. I wandered back towards Amanda and Dre and sort of ushered them forward while I headed back down the trail to figure out how to climb up to a ledge above the trail (and in the process managed to scratch my wedding ring just 12 hours after putting it on*).
After what seemed like an appropriate amount of time, I headed back up trail to see if the coast was clear. It was and I pulled a specially carried bottle of sparkling cider from my backpack…only to discover I’d forgotten the bottle opener… oops. (I did try to open it on the rock but only succeeded in scraping my knuckles, alternative bottle opening technique is F’s gig.)
The rest of the hike was awesome. We went another 3/4 of a mile or so while Andrea gushed about how surprised she was and while Stacia told her story of how she pulled it off. It just couldn’t have been a more perfect morning of love.
Congratulations guys, I’m definitely looking forward to your wedding.
*Which isn’t something I was sad about, it’s something I fully expected. I just figured it would take longer than that.
Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. -Teddy Roosevelt
America has a lot of public land—in fact, more than 30% of our land area is public. In August of 2010, I heard Tim Egan speak in Wallace. He spoke about Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, the Fire of 1910, and his book The Big Burn. The thing I remember most, and that I scribbled in my notes from the evening, was his comments on the importance of America’s public lands, “‘We didn’t have a home on Hayden Lake like the swells,’ Mother said, ‘We’re richer than the bastards! We have the national forests!'” In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, he elaborated: “Not long after I was old enough to cast my first vote, I realized that with American citizenship came a birthright to my summer home.”
The land area of the United States is about 2.26 billion acres. Of that, the Federal Government owns 605 million acres that are administered by the public lands agencies: the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the National Parks Service, and the National Wildlife Refuge system. In addition, state governments own 197.5 million acres. The lands are administered in a variety of ways, they include recreation areas, forest land sold for timber purposes, and the lands in the National Wilderness Preservation System (cited data). Whether it is Tim Egan acknowledging the wealth the lands grant to all Americans (and millions of foreign visitors) or Teddy Roosevelt designating 230 million acres of public lands America’s public lands have been repeated acknowledged as an asset to our country.
Tomorrow is our last day of EMT class. We passed the final. I’ve been checked off on all my skills. Forrest only has medical assessment to be checked off tomorrow. This is the biggest relief ever. Especially when we start to see forecasts like this:
Looks like class is ending just in time so we can be outside in the afternoons now and not sitting in class. (This lovely weather should also do wonders for snow melting!)
I really enjoyed class for the most part. As we moved into the skill section, it really slowed down and sometimes that 3 hours can realllly drag when 20+ people are working through assessments with only two instructors. I learned a ton though (yay! learning!) and in the end the driving was probably worth it. You should probably check with my handsome chauffeur on that account though.
Saturday is the practical examination through the State of Idaho and sometime next week we should be taking our National Registry examination. So close!