Last minute decision, so we were only able to get tickets to the general Oregon Bounty tasting, but still worth it. We tried our best, but could not sample all the vendors at the event. Lots of delicious food, drinks, and swag for all. I had 4 sample servings of the scallop and pork belly dish. (Second picture, dish on far left.)
Andrejs and Joel running slabs in The Enchantments (August 30, 2014)
I’ve been fighting a cold and slight fever this past week. As soon as I thought I was getting better, I went out for a 12 mile tempo along Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls which was stupid stupid stupid and I ended up feeling worse the next day. So … fine. I took a break and decided to “listen to my body” and “take care of myself” and “recover” instead of continuing with training.
The past few days, I’ve drank a ton of water and juices loaded with extra vitamin C and zinc, eaten bowls and bowls of soup (homemade bone broth!) and marathon-watched episodes of BoJack Horseman.
I’m feeling a little better today but I’m fighting the urge to do anything so I can give myself one full day of feeling like normal before I get back into it.
When people say ‘This is my baby,’ they don’t always mean a baby. Sometimes they mean a dog.
Be back soon! I’ve just been a little busy running around mountains, namely Mt. Adams (summit + circumnavigation) and Mt. Hood (circumnavigation, my first big solo run!).
We’re going back this weekend to give the Mt. Adams summit + circumnav another shot.
A breakthrough run of sorts. I’d been slogging away on trails in Portland and the Columbia River Gorge, getting rather bored (I know, I’m spoiled). I would reach a 4-5 hour maximum running day and feel way too bored/tired/unmotivated to go any longer. I was hitting a plateau, mentally and physically.
Then we read about the Enchantments in Mike Woodmansee’s book “Trekking Washington” (a must-have for any long-distance hiker/runners in the Pacific Northwest). He describes them as “the centerpiece of all the jewels displayed within the showcase Alpine Lakes Wilderness.”
At just only 19-30 miles (depending on how much exploring you want to do), the traverse would be doable and allow us to bypass the heavily regulated camping reservation system. However, there was no way we were going to drive two cars for 5 hours from Portland, just so we could have transportation at each end of the traverse (and I have no interest in hitchhiking or running on the road).
So we decided on an out-and-back from the Snow Lakes Trailhead to Aasgard Pass, which we figured would be enough for a 10-12 hour day.
The first few miles to Lower Snow Lake and Upper Snow Lake went by quickly. We passed a few climbers making their way to vertical granite, mountain goats, and some hikers setting up the most envy-inducing alpine lakeside camps you’ve ever seen.
From Upper Snow Lake, we kept losing the trail (consequences of trying to run/”go fast” while trying to take pictures of everything) and found ourselves playing leapfrog with a hiker on his way to Aasgard Pass (from one of the Snow Lake campsites).
The hiker seemed friendly, so we asked him if it’d be okay if we hiked with him for a bit. We learned that Mike (the hiker) wanted to summit Little Annapurna before reaching Aasgard Pass and that his camera ran out of batteries. Perfect! We’d accompany him and then take pictures for him to show his friends (because apparently they didn’t believe he’d get that far while hungover from the raucous previous night).
At the top of Little Annapurna, Joel and I said our goodbyes and made our way down to Aasgard Pass. Mike took a lunch break and watched us to see which route we’d take - a steep snowfield (Joel’s choice) or down a rock band (my choice).
We took the rock band route, of course! I’ve recently started loving the fast scrambles down huge rocks. It’s a nice break from running.
Just for reference, that’s the snow slope Joel wanted to go down. I mean, it’s doable, but we can’t all be Kilian Jornet …
The goats are kind of hard to see in this picture.
In the beginning, we told ourselves we’d turn around at 6 hours regardless of whether we reached Aasgard Pass or not. But then we joined Mike on Little Annapurna and we agreed to make the turnaround point at 7 hours, which was spot on, exactly how long it took us to reach Aasgard Pass.
We hightailed it out of there, and only took a quarter as many pictures as we did on the way out. The goal was to make it back to our cabin before sunset!
This is one of the trickier sections - you don’t want to fall and slide into the lake!
Fortunately, it was warm enough to take a dip in the freezing lakes every now and then. And despite our numerous dips, we made it back to the trail head in 3.5 hours for a total 10.5 hour day of spectacular running in The Enchantments! Everything about the run was perfect - stomach, legs, head, and heart. Back to the cabin to shower, change, and then chow down on bratwursts and beer at Leavenworth (a.k.a. Belgium, U.S.A.)
Needed clear skies, no rain, and warmer temps to navigate a “fast and light” Ptarmigan Traverse, but got no cooperation from the weather. Disappointingly had to call it. Next time! #pnw #pacificnorthwest #mountainrunning #trailrunning (at Cascade Pass)
Joel has a special talent of walking the line between pushing past an appropriate comfort level and getting in over his head. Our first climb up Rainier was an excellent example of that. Never satisfied to take the easiest way up, he somehow convinced us to forego the DC route (the most beginner friendly) and instead take the Gibraltar Ledges (a little more exposed) up the mountain.
Drunk off the altitude, Bree and I looked around Camp Muir teeming with climbers and nodded in agreement. We didn’t know much about the conditions on the Gib Ledges, other than that the rangers had told us a group of climbers successfully summited via that route a couple days before. But the weather was perfect, we wanted to avoid the crowds, and we were up for an adventure.
At 7:30 am (another late start!), we headed up, following the first set of prints on that route in weeks. The ledges had just enough snow and ice to stick our crampons onto and the temperature was just cold enough to keep the rocks above us in place.
As we traversed along the ledges, we got a fantastic view of the stunning Nisqually Glacier accompanied by the thunderous rumbling of snow and rock falls in the distance. We had roped up for this section, which can be dangerous if you’re careless with your rope management. Because we were meticulously mindful of the rope, I think it helped us pace ourselves through this section.
The next section was about a 45 degree snow slope up to the top of Gibraltar Rock.
Joel had been leading the whole way up to this point, but at the top of Gib Rock, we sensed he needed a break. After a few minutes of us telling him to switch positions with Bree, he finally relented.
… which turned out to be the best decision ever because as we started up the next snow slope up to the crater rim, Bree punched through a crevasse, and for a split second it felt like I blacked out (fortunately I was already in a self-belay position). We all kind of froze as if the mountain would open up from any sudden movement from us. Bree had only sunk down to her hips, the snow firm enough to catch her backpack. She gingerly stepped off to the side, kneeled down to take a look at the crevasse, and jumped back. “Holy fuck guys, that is BLACK, I can’t tell where it ends.”
We stopped to reassess the situation. Do we continue directly up that snow slope or traverse around to connect with the DC route? We decided to continue, following the now faint set of tracks up the slope. Bree took her time, rigorously probing the snow around her; Joel and I on edge behind her, ready to self-arrest at a moment’s notice. But despite Bree’s careful navigation, she punched through several more hidden crevasses, and we had slowed down to a crawl. We were tired, cold, and worried that we would be stuck on that slope longer than was good for us.
When Bree found herself knee deep in a third hidden crevasse, I think that was the last straw for her (and us). This was our first real crevasse experience and even though we were well-prepared for rescue, the constant punching through was such a mind fuck for us at that point in time. We instantly changed directions and carefully picked our way through to the populated and well-marked DC route.
I had never been so happy to see trail markers in my entire life.
By then, the winds had picked up, but we were relieved to be “safe.” We made it across the crater and onto the summit. But because of our tired, addled state, we forgot to take a picture because we were busy trying to find a supposed climber’s log, and by the time we realized that even if it did exist, we sure as hell weren’t going to take the time to dig it out of the snow, we were cold and just wanted to get back to camp. So we walked along the rim and I took a picture of the summit behind us instead.
For our descent, we went down the standard DC route. It was uneventful, but with views of Camp Muir in the distance, it seemed to take forever. Despite our late start and shenanigans through the crevasse field though, we made it back to camp just after 5 p.m.
On our own, for our first time, Bree and I would never have chosen to go beyond the standard beginner’s route up Rainier. We like our little zones of safety and comfort. But looking back, we wouldn’t have traded our first Rainier experience for anything else. It was a huge learning experience, with the right amount of challenge and fun, and a healthy dose of fear and respect for the mountain.
For me, it really brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “past your limits.” In order to grow, as a person and especially as an athlete, you need to go past your limits, sometimes into the deep dark blackout scary places, to find new edges.
And it’s okay to try, change your mind, and then take a detour to the route more frequently traveled. That’s okay too.
A picture of our approach to Camp Muir with the summit of Rainier faintly in the distance, symbolizing an upcoming report/post with lots of pictures about the actual climb.
It’s kind of crazy to me that just a few months ago, Rainier was the biggest thing on the calendar. But since then, we’ve been on other just-as-thrilling challenges and adventures (with a few more penciled in the next couple months), it’s hard to say which tops what. We’re definitely getting some bigger adventures here in the west coast. Sometimes it feels like we’re in this endless cycle of running/climbing highs and decompression lows. But who am I to complain?
"…Rich people don’t riot because they have other forms of influence. Riots are a class act.”
Nobody in their right mind wants more violent protests. But nobody wants more Michael Browns either. And those two things – the violence of the state and the violence of the street – are connected. “A riot,” said Martin Luther King, “is the language of the unheard.” The people on the streets don’t donate thousands of dollars to anyone’s campaign. They don’t get a seat at any table where decisions are made or have the ear of the powerful. But with four black men killed by the police in the country in the last four weeks, they have a lot to say, and precious few avenues through which to say it. The question now is who’s listening.
Farmers’ market bounty, so many good local things this morning! (Personal favorites -wild locally picked mushrooms, lamb bacon, lamb osso bucco, and stumptown coffee liqueur) #pdx #portland (at Hollywood Farmers Market - Portland, Oregon)
You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.