07/15/2012 The 2012 Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon
Our big event of the summer, the sixth running of the Tunnel Marathon, was probably the best ever.
With about 360 runners and 351 finishers, so it was our biggest field yet. Thanks to cool and even
drizzly weather our median time was 4:08, five minutes faster than last year. 21% of our runners
qualified for Boston 2013 under the new tighter qualifying standards and many more runners set PR's.
Most people I talked to after the race really enjoyed the run. I did too. Despite a tight right
hamstring which I felt at every step and which grew steadily more painful throughout the race, I
managed to run 3:32 and pace Rikki Bogue to a big PR. I think that without the hamstring problem I
would have run under 3:30 since I had to walk for a couple of minutes after a PP stop at mile 16
and was barely able to run for another couple minutes after that until it loosened up some.
Although both Susan and I had a great time on race day we were both relieved that it was over too,
though it wasn't quite over. Due to a glitch in the timing system we failed to capture exact start
times for about a third of our runners. Rather than use gun time, I analyzed photos (as did Steve
and Chris, who provided the timing service) and between us managed to come up with accurate start
times for virtually everyone though it took us most of the following week.
Altogether I figure I spent some 400 hours working on the race over the previous four months, and
Susan probably put in another 100 or more. Daniel and David, and Daniel's friend Lisa Bigler,
helped on race day and the night before. On race day Daniel and David took all the runner photos
and Lisa Bigler prepared food and served chili. Susan took care of all the food - shopping,
preparation and serving - with help from the kids and from June Siapco, who had planned to run but
made half of our chili and helped at the start on race day instead. She was one of about 60
volunteers who did most of what had to be done on race day. Tony did the race announcing and
provided the start and finish arch, as he did last year. Matt Hagen was my right-hand man, putting
in several days of work in the week prior to the race, managing the tunnel aid station on race
morning then sweeping the course after the race. Working with him was a delight; he was tirelessly
cheerful and kept coming up with better ideas about how to do things. Race day would not have gone
as well, nor would I have been able to run, without his help.
08/03/2012 Saddle Mountain
Several months ago I received an email from a guy named Mark Winston from North Carolina. He'd
come across my website while doing some research online in preparation for a rockhounding vacation
to Washington state and was interested in some of the agate hunting locations I described. We made
arrangements to get together when he and Erica came out in August, and this afternoon, I drove over
the mountains to meet them in Vantage. We met at the Vantage rock shop and posed among the petrified
stumps in their parking lot for photos of each other before heading over to Saddle Mountain. The
logs at the rock shop are very impressive, some of them 5' tall and 3' in diameter. I suspect at
least some of them were pulled out of some of the big holes up on Saddle Mountain - the wood looks
While waiting for me to arrive Mark had struck up a conversation with the rock shop owner, who cuts
and polishes some of the petrified wood specimens for sale in the shop. His stand-ups, about 3"
across and 4" tall with the top surface cut at an angle and polished, are for sale for $30-60, not
unreasonable considering the work involved. I don't know what they'd go for on eBay. He didn't
have any paired pieces of bookends, perhaps because they take more work to create, so I don't know
how much mine would be worth. I'd given Mark a matched pair of standups polished on the front face,
nice but not exceptional; I'm guessing the rock shop would have asked $35 or so for them. I also
gave him a large Lucas Creek carnelian nodule, rather more valuable I suspect given the scarcity of
comparable material. That was probably too generous of me, though it was too narrow to cut easily
so I probably wouldn't have done anything with it. None of the pieces in the box Mark had sent me a
month or two ago were comparable, but I don't get to entertain rockhounds from out of town very
often. As it turned out, we did exceptionally well at Saddle Mountain and at Studebaker Creek a few
days later, both trips I wouldn't have made had it not been for their visit, so I can't complain.
Mark and Erica had spent the morning hiking north of Vantage. They covered about 10 miles, a hot and
unproductive outing until the last half mile where they found a couple good-sized chunks of wood not
far from their car. They're mostly float collectors and I'd proposed alot of digging so they wanted
to get some hiking time before joining up with me.
We caravaned down to Mattawa, stopping at a fruit stand for cherries, tomatoes, peaches and
canteloupes, then rumbling up the dusty "R" road.
Up on top, we had an hour or two before it would be time to set up camp so I found a hole Pat had
told me about and started digging it out while Mark worked another hole and Eric hiked back parallel to
the road looking for float.
Back in June I'd found a couple of pieces in the crumbly orange stuff on the right side
of the hole but Pat reported that most of the material was in the gray ash over to the left. Maybe
it was, but if so, they got it all. All I got for my efforts were a couple of small blisters. Mark
didn't get much in his hole either.
We camped up by Mark's pit. Around sunset I rinsed off with the gallon of water in the back of my
car, nicely warmed up by the afternoon sunshine. Erica and I set up their tent in the hollow in the
road, hoping to find shelter from the rising wind, while Mark fixed a thick and tasty glop for
supper. The wind kept up; I even felt it in the car and I don't think Mark and Erica got much sleep
with their tent flapping around them all night long.
08/04/2012 Saddle Mountain
We did very well today, finding one big log and two large chunks of decent-quality petrified wood
before lunchtime, and that without even digging up the one I'd found back in June and saved just
for this trip. Mark and Erica are going to have a seriously distorted view of how easy it is to find
petrified wood on Saddle Mountain.
To start the day we found a promising area with chips of wood in several places.
I had Mark and Erica start digging out a spot with lots of chips of glossy black wood
but the "wood" turned out to be basalt glass from a layer several inches thick on top of a pillow
three feet across. I hadn't seen that before. Nearby I found a
large chunk of dark brown wood just under the surface, but there didn't seem to be any more
underneath it so we dug deeper into the hole where I'd found the chalky wood back in June, and sure
enough, down a couple of feet we ran into the butt end of a two foot diameter log of yellowish wood.
It didn't even vibrate when I struck it with the heavy pry bar so I knew we had little
chance of digging out anything we could carry. We covered it up again. That made two significant finds and it wasn't even 9AM yet. Unfortunately
I was too excited to take any photos.
Driving up the road a
ways, we stopped at an area with lots of old pits. If nothing else, it would be a nice place for
lunch, but before eating, we tried a bit of digging ourselves. Mark found some fist-sized chunks
just under the surface but unfortunately the deeper he dug, the less he found. I was finding
similar stuff when I heard Mark call out. He'd found a big chunk of solid-looking
yellowish brown jasper, possibly bog wood. It had potential so I carried it up to the car, then
went off to check out some of the other holes. One of them had an exposed backwall of white ash.
Within just a couple of minutes of digging into the wall, I struck a big chunk of wood. I pried
that piece out and two or three smaller ones with it. Though the smaller ones were slender, all were
at least a foot long. I accidentally chipped a piece of one of the chunks and it seemed to have some
blue color along with brown, tan and gray - could be very nice. That made two big pieces, plus Mark's
jasper , before lunch.
What a morning!
Mark and Erica were thinking they'd found about enough petrified wood for one day but I wanted to
check out another hole Pat had told me about. He said it was at least 8' deep with a big
overhanging backwall. He was right about the depth even though the backwall had collapsed and
filled up the center of the hole with rubble. He'd found some nice limb casts in there and that's
what I was after. As I walked up to the hole I told Mark I was looking for a limb cast the size
of a cow femur. It didn't take much digging to find one; a yellowish chunk of bog wood was sticking
right out of the bottom of the hole. I dug it out of the crumbly yellowish clay matrix and found more
pieces all around it. Though good-sized, most of the chunks were either flattened or very irregular,
not so good as cutting material, but between the three of us we collected a bucketful and left
even more on the lip of the hole. None were quite cow-femur sized but close, as if from perhaps a
rather short cow.
With that we were done. We drove down the hill and back to the fruit stand where I stocked up on
peaches and canteloupe and gave away a few small pieces of wood to the kids. Back across the bridge
in Vantage we stopped down by the boat landing and went for a quick swim to rinse off while a lesbian
couple in bikinis made out by the picnic tables. The water was cold and not particularly clean and
it made my blisters sting, but it felt great to wash off the dust and sweat before driving home.
I left Mark and Erica in Vantage; they planned to sort their rocks and mail some home before
heading over to Mt Rainier for some hiking.
08/07/2012 Studebaker Creek
I met Mark and Erica again in Toutle this morning with plans to take them to Studebaker Creek and
Salmon Creek. The Studebaker Creek digging area is actually in the woods, nowhere near the creek,
but it has lots of carnelian agate. From prior visits I didn't think much of the quality but this
visit proved me wrong on that point. We filled several buckets and left almost as much behind.
A lot of it is mostly quartz, and that mostly orange without much contrast with the agate rind,
but we also found solid nodules of orange agate up to 5" across and smaller pieces of reddish to
dark red agate, some with prominent banding. I can see why Pat wants to go back down there.
To get there we walked in about a mile and a half on a gated timber company road south of town.
are an area of water-filled pits in mixed second-growth woods rich with mosquitos. We
picked a couple of dry pits which had been worked recently. Whoever had last been there had taken
everything they'd found because there was nothing on the surface but a few pieces of weathered
basalt. It didn't take long to start finding rocks in the clay soil of our pits. Though coated
in clay, the agates began to reveal their colors with a little scrubbing, and as we kept digging,
our piles of rock kept getting larger. We dug for probably four hours including a break for lunch
and by the time we were done, my pile probably weighed 100lbs. Even after sorting through it I
carried out over 60-70lbs, probably twice what I should have. Agates always seem to have so much
more potential in the field than back in the shop. The walk back out to the car was a struggle.
We spent the night back at Seaquest State Park. The campground was back in the woods and crowded
despite the lack of any obvious nearby recreational attraction. Actually, I think the attraction
is Mt St Helens. Mark fixed another delicious supper and we washed and sorted rocks, leaving
another 20lbs behind for future campers to find.
08/08/2012 Studebaker Creek 2
We'd planned to do Salmon Creek this morning but because we did so well at Studebaker Creek
yesterday Mark and Erica wanted to go back there, so we did. We found even more today but,
recalling the painful hike out yesterday, I was more selective and only hauled out about 30lbs
today. That included several very nice pieces. My best was a cylindrical orange agate nodule 5"
long and 4" across, triangular in cross-section with bright red banding on both ends. No doubt
the deep red color is only on the surface but it should still have some internal banding.
Mark and Erica were even more selective than I was since they have to mail everything back
home. I high-graded their leftovers. After lunch Mark and I swapped holes. I found a few more
nice pieces in his hole, more, I think, than he found in mine, but at the end of the trip,
they had no complaints. They came out to Washington for carnelian and petrified wood and I
think that what they found and received, not only from me but also from another rockhound
they met up with before I met them in Toutle, far surpassed their expectations.
09/02/2012 PCT run 28 miles, 6500'
I ran 13 miles north and back again on the Pacific Crest Trail from Snoqualmie Pass today, two miles
farther than my four day backpacking trip up there three years ago. A little side trip up to the
gentle summit at the east end of the Chikamin Ridge added an extra mile for 28 total round trip,
though I figure I only actually ran a little more than half of it.
The weather was perfect, cool and sunny. I met Matt and Betsy, Tracy and a British woman named Kay
at the trailhead around 7:30 and we were on the trail by 8. Matt and Tracy ran the Cascade Crest
100 Mile run last weekend and Betsy did a 100K two weeks ago so we didn't push the pace. At the
catwalk I stashed a couple small Gatorade bottles and talked the others into continuing to Ridge and
Gravel Lakes, 6.7 miles on my old Green Trails map but 7.3 on the newer maps, and on both Matt's and
Tracy's GPS's. We reached the lakes at 10:30 and hung out there for twenty minutes or so. They
were turning back but I wanted to continue on so Matt offered me two of his gels and I took one. I
could have used the other as well, but with the stashed Gatorade I was OK. I left the lake at 11AM
and reached my turnaround point, the little peak above the Chikamin-Alta Pass overlooking Park
Lakes, two hours later. Five hours for 13 miles - hardly running pace under normal circumstances,
but the scenery was spectacular and the elevation gain significant, probably close to 5000' on the
way out and another 1500' on the way back.
Near the west end of the traverse across Chikamin Ridge I caught up to a guy from Israel laboring
under a 70lb pack. His name was Yuval and he'd been out for six days, hiking south from Steven's
Pass 65 miles to the north. We chatted about the weight of his pack and how to make it lighter,
and then about politics and health care and such. He was carrying a ukelele (non-negotiable) but
agreed that he needn't have brought the two 8 1/2 x 11 books of ukelele tunes. His clothing was all
cotton and his mess kit weighed 5lbs, so those were a couple other areas where he could lighten up.
I sat with him while he purified water from a little tarn, straining it through his T-shirt to
try to filter out the brown flecks which I suspected were little unclean critters, though I didn't
say so. I stayed with him until Joe Lake, adding an extra hour or so to my overall time, then
decided that I needed to get back before it got too much later.
After the lakes I began running
into lots of people, especially from the catwalk down; most were gracious about letting me pass
but I can see why trail runners up there try to get out and back early in the day. I ate my last
gel at the catwalk but the Gatorade gave me energy for the last five miles back to the trailhead
where a sun-warmed lunch was waiting for me. Overall a great run; I only wish I'd been able to
carry a camera. I'd carried my phone instead and had talked briefly with Susan up by Chikamin Peak
before the battery died because I'd forgotten to charge it.
09/06/2012 Chikamin Peak hike
David and I have been talking about a backpacking trip for a couple of weeks now, but when the time
came, I didn't really want to go. Perhaps that's why it took so long to get out the door, but get
out we finally did, just in time to squeeze in 90 minutes of hiking before dark. Because I couldn't
carry a camera during my run last week, and because I really enjoyed my
up around Chikamin Peak, I
decided to go back there. I figured we could do a shorter loop by only backpacking as far as Joe
Lake and maybe this time we could find the way up the crag which is the true summit of the peak. In
past trips I've only made it up the west end of the ridge but I've read that the peak can be walked
up from the east, from Glacier Lake, and last week during my PCT run to Chikamin/Alta Pass, I saw a
couple of hikers on the summit. I also saw two other hikers on the steep meadows above the trail as
I was passing below the peak and they appeared to be descending. I didn't meet them to inquire but I
suspect they'd found a way up to the summit.
Our plan today was to camp at Joe Lake but we didn't leave the trailhead until 6:50PM so we made it
only just to the far side of the big avalanche fan about three miles in. There's a trail across it
now unlike when I was there back in 2009. It was warm today, close to 80F, but the valley was all
in shade by the time we started out. The air was comfortable; the only remnant of the heat of the
day was the warmth radiating from the cast concrete restroom at the trailhead. There seemed to be
more bird activity than I remembered - leaves rustling in the bushes, as in the poplars at home,
hinting at the tide of warblers passing for the most part invisibly in their fall migration. I've
been missing the migration, absorbed in cutting and polishing rocks, this fall. David, waiting for
me, watched a junco catch a flying moth and observed that the moth's erratic flight didn't seem to
help it evade its predator. As we walked we wondered what moths gained by their irregular flight
and I speculated that perhaps it helped them trace the path of a diffuse stream of pheremones back
to a potential mate.
We reached the actual trail after a half hour of walking on paved path and gravel roads. We crossed
the avalanche fan at dusk. My revised goal was to camp beyond the fan so we dug out our headlamps
at the entrance to the woods on the far side and hiked a few more minutes until we came across a
level spot. We laid out our pads and sleeping bags in a small grove of big tress at the foot of
another avalance chute, though we couldn't see that until morning. In the quiet darkness we ate the
potatoes and seasoned tofu that Swee had fixed for our supper. Having spent most of the afternoon
eating lunch, I was surprised at how hungry I was. The tofu was particularly tasty. We went directly
to bed but it took a while to settle down to sleep. My mind seemed a bit giddy. From my
sleeping bag I took a few photos of the trees towering overhead, using my flashlight to illuminate
them while David coached me on camera settings. Lulled by the white noise of the stream 50' away
I fell asleep sometime after 22:20 by my watch.
09/07/2012 route from Joe Lake
I awoke about a half hour before the sun reached the Kendall Peaks above us. It was cold so I
stayed in my bag and wrote some for an hour or so while David slept in, caccooned in his sleeping
bag. We started up the trail at 08:40 and reached the Alaska Lake turnoff, trail mile 5.4
(gmap-pedometer says 4.9), 35 minutes later. That's a very pretty section of trail, big trees
intersperesed with talus fields and huckleberry clearings with views of tall peaks all around.
Beyond the turnoff the trail crosses a broad avalanche runout area and the trail is not officially
maintained. Though not too hard to follow it was slow going through the brush, and wet too at first
until the sunlight reached us about 15 minutes in.
Towards the far side we began to come across helpful bits of pink plastic tape marking the route.
The air was getting warm, the vine maples obstructive and the steep dips and climbs annoying by the
time we reached the stream descending from Joe Lake. Actually three streams meet at that point.
David ate breakfast and I had a snack then we found the trail, which follows the middle stream then
crosses it and climbs a steep dirt bank on the right. More dirt slopes and root ladders followed
on the very steep climb up to Joe Lake while the stream cascades down waterfalls alongside. The
reward at the top is a beautiful little pond with trout jumping for moths and Elephantella spikes
blooming in the peat moss along the water's edge.
We followed the trail up to the campsite by the main lake but decided to leave our packs across the
stream at the edge of the woods. I packed my fanny pack and we ate a snack there, sitting in the
sunshine while a breeze shirred in the treetops. Very quiet and peaceful, a nice break before the
strenuous hike ahead.
We scrambled up slippery dry duff under big firs to a slope of loose orange scree, then up steep
grass and huckleberries and finally even steeper gravelly ledges to the Pacific Crest Trail. The
trail was a welcome relief, and it's a particularly beautiful section of the PCT, traversing up
through flowers and meadows, groves of gnarled Mountain Hemlock, bright gray ledges and boulder
fields and even a small tarn and a few lingering patches of snow, with continuous views of meadows,
peaks, cliffs and crags and the deep forested valley of Gold Creek. We took lots of photos and
saw only one other group of four hikers headed back the way we'd come.
The trail traverses east across the south face of the Chikamin Ridge which forms the headwall of the
characteristically U-shaped glacial Gold Creek valley. Precipitous meadows climb from the trail up
to cliffs divided by narrow rocky gullies and interspersed with patches of krummholz and grass. The
top of the ridge west of the peak is a rounded shoulder carpeted with crowberries. It drops
gradually for about a third of a mile to the base of the peak, an irregular block of rock about 300'
high which looks like a point only when viewed from the south. From the top of the peak the ridge
to the east drops about 800' to a saddle then continues through a set of crags to the gentle summit
which I hiked up last week.
I've been up to the west end of the ridge twice, both times by climbing the first gully east of the
high point on the PCT. I knew we could go up there today but couldn't tell from below if we'd be
able to cross over the south face of the peak to get to the ascent route on the east side. As we
passed the high point on the trail, we made our decision. We'd try to find a route directly up to
the peak from about a mile farther east on the PCT. If we could gain the ridge east of the peak we'd
be able to hike up to the top. If not, at least we'd have explored some new ground.
We left the PCT at the second switchback to the west, more or less directly below the peak. From
there we traversed across a gully and up a steep meadow to a little saddle formed by a patch of
hemlock. The route beyond looked feasible but we were hungry so we stopped for lunch and took of
our boots to air out our feet in the sunshine. That felt good. After lunch we crossed a one or two
ribs and scrambled up the next gully, mostly easy but with one somewhat more difficult pitch, then
traversed to the right out of the gully up another steep grassy band below a small cliff, then up
across an easy ledge onto gentler meadows leading up to the ridge. It doesn't seem too bad in
retrospect though at the time I was pretty sure I wanted to find a different way down.
Once on the ridge the route up was obvious, particularly since another party of two hikers was ahead
of us not far below the summit. We followed a generally clear track up and met them on the top.
Great views of peaks far and wide, four volcanoes (we couldn't pick out St Helens in the haze) and
below us, snowfields, ledges, deep blue lakes, meadows and forests. The only sign of civilization
was I-90 at Hyak about five miles away and 4000' below us. David spotted a Mountain Goat playing
out in the middle of a snowfield below us all by itself, jumping and twisting just like our goats
used to when we let them out of their pen to go for a walk. I spotted an adult Peregrine Falcon
gliding over the ridge where we'd come up. It soared up to the east then dove down past the north
ridge and over the snowfields above Chikamin Lake, flushing a flock of rosy finches but apparently
without catching any because it soared up again over the west end of the ridge, at least a couple
thousand feet this time, then plunged down to the north where I lost it against the flank of Lemah
Mountain. Only a peregrine can make 70mph look slow. We saw other raptors, a Golden Eagle on the
way up and a Red-tailed Hawk, a Cooper's and a couple of Sharp-Shinned Hawks from the summit, all
riding the warm breeze rising up the south face of the ridge.
We lingered on the summit for an hour. I called Susan and left a message; David called Katie and they
talked a while, then he checked his email. Internet access was spotty, working from one rock and not
from another next to it. The other two hikers took a photo of us and we of them. We tried to recall
the names of the high peaks north of us then one of the hikers pulled out his IPhone, fired up the
peaks app and pointed the phone at the view. In a moment, the names of the summits appeared on the
screen, just slightly offset from the peaks themselves. Amazing.
At the base of the summit block we decided to try to get across the south face to the west end of
the ridge and go down the way I'd come up in the past. I figured it might be shorter and easier
than the way we'd come up but it was neither. We did see the peregrine again though, a closer view
this time as it sailed over the ridge and circled up in front of us. Starting down, I didn't like
the looks of the gravelly ledges I'd crossed last time at the head of the main gully. Instead we
followed grassy slopes down to the left looking for opportunities to traverse back to the west into
the gully below the sketchy ledges. I scouted below the first clump of trees and it looked
feasible, which was a relief, but we ended up following a goat track farther down the slope. It led
west along a steep grassy band across the cliff face but didn't quite reach the bottom of the cliff.
Instead it switchbacked down to the east on another steep grassy band but the cliff appeared to be
getting higher in that direction, so David went straight down while I climbed up and further to the
right. My route wasn't bad; his involved a fairly exposed pitch of downclimbing. we both ended up
safely in the gully though it didn't feel very safe, particularly where we followed a goat path east
along the top of a little cliff to get around a short vertical pitch in the gully (the same pitch
I'd avoided by detouring around to the west three years ago). We also found a trickle of water in
the gully and refilled my empty water bottle. No filter - I recently read
claiming that the risk of
water-borne illness from backcountry sources is very low, so I'm testing that theory this trip. Our
thirst satisifed, we continued picking our way down the steep meadow for another ten minutes or so
and reached the trail again.
The sun was near the horizon and the light was golden but the urge to stop for photos was tempered
by our awareness that our packs stashed in the woods might be quite difficult to find after dark.
We did find them, right at dark after one last strenuous descent down steep meadows and slippery fir
needles. David fell and bruised both his rib and his camera. We used our headlamps to find our way
back to camp which we found occupied by another party of four hikers. Fortunately they had hammocks
so we weren't competing for tent sites. They were all gathered around a smoky fire down by the lake
shore and we didn't see them until they tromped past our tent like a herd of elephants sometime
after we'd gone to bed. We set up the tent and sat on a log to eat our bread and avacado, Swiss
cheese and plums. We're on a limited diet since it's a short trip and we didn't bring a stove.
09/08/2012 Joe Lake home
I didn't sleep all that well, probably because my legs felt pretty beat up though by morning they
weren't too bad. We packed up quickly and left by 8AM, before two of our fellow hikers were even
out of their hammocks. Maybe those hammocks are more comfortable than they look. The other two
hikers told us that they were headed down Gold Creek so we warned them about the steep descent and
the brush. From camp we climbed the ridge south of the lake, first through beautiful open old forest then up
a game trail through younger trees, many of which had the bark ripped off the uphill side of their
trunks, down near the ground. I'm guessing deer or elk were practicing for the rut. In a sunny
meadow sporting three big bear poops full of mountain ash and huckleberries we stopped for breakfast and finished our granola and plums. We gained the ridge at a saddle
about 200' below the trail crossing, which at that point is about 5600', almost 1000' above the lake.
At Ridge lake we stopped for a snack and drank the water. That will be a good test of my backcountry
water safety theory because that lake, right by the PCT, gets lots of use.
From that point on to the catwalk and beyond we encountered more and more hikers, probably at least
50 by the time we turned off the trail to bushwhack over to the Kendall Lakes. A few were
thru-hikers, relatively easy to identify by their small backpacks, dirty running shoes and general
scruffy appearance. One young woman we questioned had left the border with Mexico back on May 2 and
expected to reach Canada in another 11 days or so. I almost choked up reflecting on the magnitude
of her accomplishment, though David and I agreed that that kind of hiking didn't really appeal to
us. We'd be bored in the tedious forested sections and frustrated at not having time to explore the
more interesting areas.
We left the PCT where it gains the gentle crest of the ridge after traversing down across the face
of Kendall Peak, perhaps a mile and a half from the Catwalk. That might have been a little late
since we ended up traversing back across the other side of the ridge and came out at the lowest of
the lakes. We ate lunch there, and were surprised to see two women with buckets, looking for
huckleberries. They trotted off down the trail having found very few berries, due to the drought
they speculated. When we followed them half an hour later we lost the trail right away and had to
bushwhack across a clearcut to the road. From there it was an hour of warm and somewhat
uncomfortable walking down old logging roads to the trailhead. My toes and the bottoms of my feet
were sore from my boots, the brown Limmer-branded ones which are a bit too narrow. They felt much
better when we ditched our packs along the road and put on flip flops for the last couple of miles
back to the car. Altogether the hike out from Joe Lake via Kendall Lakes took us 6 1/2 hours
excluding stops and I guessed we covered about 12 miles though the gmap-pedometer reported only
09/16/2012 Tunnel Lite Marathon
The point of the Tunnel Lite Marathon was to provide second chance to run the tunnel to runners who
didn't get in to the Light at the End of the Tunnel marathon back in July. It was intended to be a
"ghost" race, a smaller, less expensive, bare-bones version of the Light. I also saw it as a chance
to see how little work we could do in putting it on. It was a very successful little race. Though
not really a "ghost", we did manage to make it about $15 cheaper than the Light. We ended up having
to provide almost all of the services we provided for the larger race; our costs were a little lower
only because we did our own timing and piggy-backed on the Light for equipment and medals. We did
have a few runners who'd wanted to run the July race but didn't sign up in time. We had many more
who did run the July race and came back for a second go at it. Of those, two thirds achieved a
faster time on the second try. Regarding the objective of working less, the smaller race was very
successful. Thanks to the absence of a wait list (we didn't fill up) and mail-in registrations, and
to cloning the Light web pages, my workload was far lighter than in July. Race day was
significantly simpler too. Susan and I had only four helpers. David took photos while Lisa did the
Tunnel aid station and helped Susan w/ food. Bill Barmore brought his porta-potty in the morning
and lent a hand the rest of the day and Chuck Cathey came over to manage parking and set up the
finish area. A handful of runners helped out on the spur of the moment - Monte w/ parking and
Kristen Parker and Mike Mahanay at check-in. All the aid stations were self-service and according
to runner reports, that worked out well.
I worked a few hours here and there - mostly permit applications, service and TShirt arrangements
and the web site - in the weeks prior to the race but was really only full-time for about six days,
Wednesday through Monday, around race day on Sunday. The big pre-race tasks were runner
communication (Wed, Thu) (generating runner lists (Thu), assembling runner packets (Wed, Fri),
organizing gear and supplies (Wed, Fri), marking the course (Fri, Sat) and setting up aid stations
(Sat). For food, Susan planned on Thursday, shopped on Friday and prepped Saturday evening. On
race morning I arrived at Ole Cedar Mill about 5:40AM to find the gate locked so I couldn't get in
to load the car from the storage unit before runners began showing up. Cindy and her boyfriend
didn't wake up until they saw the lights of runners pulling into the front lot (and heard me
pounding on her front door). He ran out and opened up the gate for us but I was about 15 minutes
late leaving for the start, which in turn delayed the early start until 7:30. I had the first bus
follow me out of North Bend to ensure that I could pet up signs at Hyak and set up check-in before
the runners arrived. I never made it over to the finish area at all but Chuck took care of it,
setting up cones to mark off our finish chute shortly after the second bus left around 6:50AM. Bill
didn't arrive w/ the porta-potty until somewhat later; next time it would be helpful to have a
porta-potty at the bus loading area as well.
(to be continued...)
09/22/2012 Middle Fork 50K, 30+ miles, 3200'
Paul David has written up
a nice race report
so I won't try to duplicate it. I enjoyed this race last year and have
been looking forward to doing it again. As usual though, when the alarm went off in the pre-dawn
darkness I lay in bed for a moment and wondered if I really wanted to get up. I thought of Skagit
Flats Marathon two weeks ago when I did stay in bed, and how as a result I haven't run any
marathons in almost a month, and I got up. Then I looked at the clock and saw that I was already
30 minutes late. Instead of reading 5:40 as I expected, it showed 6:15. That explained the dim
light outside; it should have still been completely dark.
I was out of the house in my running gear with breakfast and lunch by 6:35AM, probably a new
record. Google said it would take me an hour and a half to get to the start, but Google doesn't
know how fast I can drive on gravel roads. I made it in 1:10, and that included a five minute
stop to change a flat tire half a mile from the trailhead. Dodging a pothole, I'd hit a sharp
fist-sized rock and I knew even before the low pressure light came on that the tire was
toast. Hoping to reach the parking lot, I'd made another couple of miles before it went completely
flat. Even without the delay I'd have been late for check-in but it's a small race and the race
director, Eric Bone, is a nice guy, so they had my bib waiting for me. It turned out I could
have taken a little more time to drive the gravel road and probably spared my tire. We started
20 minutes late.
Low overcast, vegetation a bit damp from earlier drizzle, the trail rather dark under the closed
canopy of tall Doug firs. I didn't recognize many of the other runners; most of the people I know
had done the early start. I saw Paul, and Tracy Marshall with whom I ran some at the Transcendance
12 hour back in August, and who qualified for Boston last week at
our Tunnel Lite marathon
after just missing a BQ at the Light at the End of the Tunnel in July.
We set out together at the back of the pack. I was surprised at that; it felt like we were running
a pretty good pace yet three miles into the race we were still sharing last place.
After the Dingford aid station at 8 miles, I picked up my pace. It's a beautiful run, mostly in
forest which is often carpeted with moss. The trees are a mix of second growth conifers and old
growth with occasional areas of alder and maple. The trail runs along the river in some places and
below cliffs in others with views of craggy forested peaks wherever the forest opens up. The river
is icy-clear with a tinge of blue in the water from glaciers hanging on high up in the
At the Goldmyer aid station, 13 miles (11.6 on my gps) and 2:45 into the run, I'd still only
encountered a few other runners. Above Goldmeyer the course climbs about 1000' in under 4 miles.
It crosses the river where waterfalls cascade down over white granite ledges from one clear blue
pool to another, then switchbacks across avalanche chutes where vine maples are beginning to turn
color and finally gains the old Middle Fork road near the obscure trailhead from which the boys and
I used to hike up to Hardscrabble Lake and Big Snow Mountain. The course descends the road back to
Goldmyer. From trips a decade ago I recognized some of the big cedars growing out of the talus
along the road. Big-leaf maple leaves, curled and yellow, carpeted the rocky track. Up there we
were only a few hundred feet below the overcast and skeins of fog were hung up in the old tree
Back at Goldmeyer, mile 20 (17.2 on my gps) and 3:55, I caught up to half a dozen runners, including
Paul. Refreshed by the descent on the road and my 6th gel, I felt good and ran fast for the next
couple of miles, passing another half dozen runners. Trail running feels great when I'm feeling
strong and I felt like I was just dancing, or skipping, almost flying down the trail. Unfortunately
by the time I reached the Dingford aid station, mile 25 (22 on the gps) fatigue was catching up to
me. Eric made some comment about how the wheels come off at about marathon distance when he runs a
50K and I hoped that wouldn't be true for me this time. Unfortunately it was. I took another Gu
and then another but neither helped much. My legs weren't particularly sore but I was so tired I
almost felt faint. The feeling of faintness was especially pronounced when I stood up after
squatting to rest my legs. In the past that has meant that I'm low on calories but with 2 gels plus
a bunch of potatoes at the aid station, that shouldn't have been the case. Anyhow I struggled on,
still passing other runners now and then. About 2 miles from the finish I met Matt coming up to
find Betsy and he gave me a Roctane since I was out of gels. That one made 9 altogether, and it
seemed to help. I was able to run pretty continuously those last two miles and reached the finish
line in just over 6:15.
After the race I felt pretty good other than my fingers going numb as I cooled down. We hung out
and talked and cheered other runners as they finished. Back in North Bend I found a Les Schwab and
though my flat could not be repaired (as I suspected), they fortunately had another of the same make
and model and amount of wear. The alternative, since the Subaru is AWD, would have been new tires
all around, an expensive prospect. To celebrate, Matt and Betsy and I had dinner at the North Bend
Grill, talking over beer about, what else - running ultras.
09/23/2012 Training Plans
One of our runners from the Tunnel marathon back in July recently asked me for advice on how to
get a faster marathon time. Here's how I responded:
Three things work for me.
1: increasing my mileage (including races) from my typical 100 or so/month up to about 200 miles per
month for a couple of months (best to spread the increase over three months or so).
2: Tempo runs (about 10K pace, or ~30 seconds faster than goal marathon pace) starting at 2 miles
and working up to about 5, about once a week.
3: Running 2-3 marathons per month w/ finishing times at least 30 minutes slower than my goal time,
and up to 90 minutes slower than goal time. I cheat on this one and occasionally (like once every
couple of months) throw in a harder race, maybe 5-15 minutes off goal time, but do this too often
and I'll get injured.
Finally, I'll have several goal race options, so if I have a bad day on one I'll back off and try
again another day, though I often can't tell if I'm having a good day or not until about 10 miles
into the race. This all assumes I have a base of at least 100 miles/month for a few months,
including 1-2 marathons per month.
Of those three things, the monthly mileage is the most important, the tempo runs the least important.
My last big training cycle was last fall. I ran every day (often just a couple of miles) for
September and October, including 4 marathons or 50Ks in each month, then tapered the mileage back to
about 140 in November (but still ran 4 marathons/50Ks) then ran 3:25, my second-fastest marathon
ever, at California International on the first weekend of December. I actually ran a stronger race
the last weekend of October at Cape Cod (3:29) but my time at CIM in early December was faster due
to the faster course.
I ran one more fast race in December then fell apart, running only 50-80 miles/month January-March,
and only one marathon a month. I'm still struggling with nagging minor injuries due to trying to
run either long (50 miles) or fast (3:32 at Tunnel) with too little supporting mileage and running
days. This fall I'm planning to pick up my mileage to about 140/month and try to run a BQ in one of
my 6-8 marathons between now and the end of the year, then I'll probably rest a bit in January
before increasing mileage again up to around 180 by March in order to run a fast (hopefully under
3:30) race at Boston.
My 40th high school reunion felt about as awkward as the 38th did two years ago, which is to say
tolerable. Ali and I arrived together, which helped considerably, and I ran into Bobby Toabe right
away so that made two people I knew. Before I'd moved far from the front door Jeana walked in. She
looked more as I remembered than any of the other high school friends I've reunited with. We broke
up in 11th grade and I don't think I've seen her since a year or two after graduation but we felt
instantly comfortable with one another. We talked some and
posed for a couple group photos but I didn't end up spending much time with her after that.
I talked with several people I didn't remember well, Peter Haley among them, and went on a bit
too long about running marathons. After collecting pasta and salad in the buffet line, I sat to eat
with Ali, Peter, Kathy Egan and Erik Burke. Kathy, a gastroenterologist, urged us all to get
colonoscopies and we all were pleased to be able to announce that we'd been there, done that.
"Colon cancer is the one cancer which can actually be prevented", she explained. After supper I
found Billy and Bobby and we compared recollections of the summer in Jackson. They didn't remember
"Navel Destroyer" and I didn't recall the time we skinny-dipped in the river with the girls and so
distracted a young Davis plowing the field that he nearly steered his tractor into the river
I left with Ali, grateful for her support; had she not first indicated her intention to attend the
reunion I probably wouldn't have signed up. At Sally's when I was getting dressed to walk over to
the reunion, I'd have been quite content to sit around and visit with Sally instead, but now I'm
glad I went. I left about 11PM. Sally had gone to bed but left the lights on for me.
09/30/2012 So much for Training Plans
The Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon today was my first chance to run a qualifying time for Boston 2014,
and so I did, by two minutes with a time of 3:37:48. I really didn't expect to be able to do that
this early in the season; in recent training runs I've often had trouble even maintaining a nine
minute mile pace but today I averaged 8:13/mile for the first half and 8:25 for the second half, and
that with only 5 hours of sleep last night and not quite enough the night before either. The
weather helped though, 60F and wet, especially in the second half. I did fuel reasonably well, a
bit late with the gels in the first half but sufficient overall. The course was quite flat with
gradual ups and downs and a few short hills, probably not more than a couple hundred feet total, so
that helped too. The biggest factor may have been the long and moderately strenuous run at the
Middle Fork last weekend provided a strong training effect, helping to make up for little running in
August and barely 100 miles in September, including today. I expect I'll pay with sore muscles this
Loved the lobster roll at the finish. The beer garden would have been more satisfying on a sunny
day. Huddling with a crowd of runners I didn't know under a tent in front of a loud rock band with
rain pouring down and a 45F breeze blowing through, and drinking a cold beer, wasn't all that much
fun. Limping a quarter mile back to my car in the aforementioned cold rain wasn't much fun either
but munching on my lobster roll while I drove away with the heat on full blast, knowing I'd just
run my Boston qualifier for 2014, was not bad at all. Actually I had an excellent parking place,
one of the last available in the lot closest to the start/finish area when I arrived this morning
at 6:45AM. I was able to pick up my packet right away and had plenty of time to get ready to run.
The rain actually didn't start until the second half and was just a light sprinkle until the last
few miles, so really wasn't a problem either.