Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Grand Mesa 50 Mile

The 40 Mile Problem.
This appropriately describes my race. I have recently had this issue (Miwok, Grand R2R2R, Zion Traverse), where around mile 40, I literally hate ultra-running. Something happens, and I'm reduced to a walk. I question the desire to waste time on anything more than 26 miles, and wonder what's wrong with me. Give me a coke/beer/pizza/burrito, fun people to hang with, and conversation that revolves around non-ultra topics (sports, relationships, bathroom humor, etc.). The conversations that happen when I describe this to ultra-runners and non ultra-runners are as follows:

Dave: *Describes 40-mile problem as above*
Ultra-runner: 'Yeah, I get that. It happens to me, too. It sucks. You want a beer?'

Dave: *Describes 40-mile problem as above*
Non Ultra-runner: 'Wait, you sound sane! It's nice to meet you! Let's be friends!'

For Grand Mesa, the ball of my right foot began to hurt. I started walking and thought of dropping. Then along came Andrea, the local drug dealer. She gave me 800mg of Ibuprofen. I swallowed, and 10 minutes later felt great. I ran the rest of the way, caught up to my drug dealer, and we ran the last 3.5 miles into the finish together.

I then drank beer and made new friends and we got dinner together and everything ended happily ever after.

The Race Itself
What I liked about the race. It was slightly 'old school ultra-running', that isn't catering to the prima donna.

  • No cell phone coverage. So no posting of live 'selfies' (Please, lets all get together and stop this trend).
  • Sections with no trail. (You just followed random markers in the trees and on the ground)
  • Aid stations that were randomly spaced apart. (12 miles for one, then 3.5 for another)
  • Aid stations where you were responsible for opening your own bags of Ritz Crackers or pouring your own water. (The horror! Foods were not put in a plastic bowl for me already? I have to actually fill my own bottles?)
The course itself probably could have benefited from 'Wrong Way' signs. There were many sections where numerous people I talked with, became confused on which way to go. 

My GPS had 50 miles with about 4,000ft of gain. This actually ended up being very hard, as combined with the 10,000 feet we were at the entire time, resulted in a lot of running and truly no hills to work other muscles. As someone who has been doing a lot of vertical gain and a lot of hiking recently, this got to me after awhile. 

Pre-race, small crowd.

Pre-race meal of pasta, cookies, rolls, corn. I had thirds.



Camping. Middle of random field. Free.

Myself and my drug dealer at the finish.

Dale's Pale. Always been one of my favs.
I called the local steakhouse (RJ's) and got them to stay open for us. I was really proud of that achievement. Legit food.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blue Lakes and Mt. Sneffels Summit (First 14-er)

I had wanted to do this hike last week, but thunderstorms on the horizon turned me around. I got back to the trailhead on Sunday night, camped out, and after a leisurely breakfast of oats, blueberries, and coffee, I took off. I ran to the lower lake, took a wrong turn on my way to the first of the upper lakes, which ended up with me scrambling across a talus field. I stared at a bunch of beautiful trout playing in that lake, then ran up to the highest lake. From there, I hiked over the pass, and followed the markers (and my map) to the signs for Mt. Sneffels.

The climb was a scramble (class 2 or 3? I'm not sure) that involved me being on all fours. I talked with people on the way up, and they told me to just follow the cairns along the path to the summit. I was so jazzed to be doing it, I ended up climbing some rock that felt pretty difficult to navigate at times, and probably was more difficult than it needed to be, had I picked my 'line' better.

The summit was great. 14,158 feet. I could see EVERYTHING. I met a guy named Ben at the top. We took pictures of each other, chatted a bit, enjoyed the views, and then descended together. Ben and his dad had just parked at the trailhead near Yankee Boy Basin, which involved a much shorter hike before the ascent.

Some more beautiful pictures below.

Sneffels the night before

Dinner at trailhead. Free campsites galore.

Said Camping.

Approach to Blue Lakes

Lower Blue Lake

'Bridge' to Blue Lakes Pass and the upper lakes.

Next lake. Took this while going across a talus field. It was not the trail, you can see the actual trail to the right of this photo. Whoops.

Trout, if you can see it. Stopped and watched them awhile.

Upper lake. The pass is to the left middle of this photo.

Top of the pass.

View from the pass.

After the pass, this is the initial climb to Sneffels. From here its straight up.

Top of the world. 

Looking towards Ridgeway. The view was amazing. I felt closer to the clouds than to the ground...Probably cause I was?

Looking down from the top, you can see where the climb began at bottom right corner portion of this photo.

Looking down on the Blue Lakes.


Proof that it wasn't photoshop work. Feet on the summit.

This was the start of the climb up.

Descending with Ben.

Looking down from the pass.


Lower Blue Lake. There was no 'filter' applied to this. When the sun hits the lake, this is how it looks.

This may be my favorite photo. Captures the wildflowers and the lake and the mountains. The smell of lavender engrossed the area.