12 Glory Laps in 12 Hours

12 Glory Laps in 12 Hours
Last February 20th, I hiked and skied 12 laps on Mt. Glory. 19,638 feet climbed with skis on my back and 19,638 feet skied to raise money for Camp To Belong. It's snowing again and I'm ready for the 2nd edition! Click the logo for more info and ways to support camp!

Camp To Belong - Elk Mountain Grand Traverse

Camp To Belong - Elk Mountain Grand Traverse
We're racing the Elk Mtn Grand Traverse this March, a 40 mile ski race across the roof of Colorado in the middle of the night! Click for updates on our training and fundraising progress!

Peaked Sports

Peaked Sports
Driggs, ID

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Mountain - October 28th, 2007

Big Hole Mountain Range from Victor, ID (Red Mountain is the broad peak in the center)

Red Mountain (8,697ft)

I've been eyeing Red Mountain all year. It first caught my attention when, earlier this year, as I continued my exploration of the Big Holes, I began to string my smaller running loops together to make gradually bigger loops. Soon, I was in search of a larger expanse of the range to fufill my insatiable appetite for more of the beautiful, wild, rugged, desolate trails that criss-crossed the range, and this peak seemed like an obvious pick due to its distinction as the seemingly highest point on the western horizon from many locations in Teton Valley. However, for some inexplainable reason, I never was able to put a run together to reach the summit of this peak. So... in keeping with the Big Sunday tradition, I took advantage of the nice weather and set off for another duathlon style route to finally get up on top o that sucker.

I have to admit, I was feeling pretty fatigued from the previous day's cyclocross race. On top of that, I was feeling so excited to have been out on my cross bike that morning, that when I got home, I grabbed a bite to eat, then set out on my road bike for a nice mellow 2 1/2 hour ride up to Grand Targhee. I never even changed out of my chamois from the race! That's more chamois time than I'd had all month! So, that's why I was fatigued. Well... duh... It wasn't any surprise to me, but I still wanted to get up on Red so after spending the morning around the house and watching the Colts trounce the Panthers, I set off on my hardtail mtn bike at 3pm, Solomon pack full of various warm clothes and headlamp, knowing there was a good chance I would be finishing this one up in the dark.

It took about 20 minutes on the pavement to ride across the valley and reach the gravel road that leads up the Grove Creek drainage. After another 15 minutes, I stopped to hide the bike and change into running gear. From there, it was a steeper climb on slicker-than-snot mud laced with ice and snow. At 4:20 and 7,200ft, I reached the junction with the Big Hole Crest Trail. I took a right, heading northwest along the ridge to the east of Red Mountain. I didn't do much running. It was mostly all uphill and boy howdee! My legs were T-I-R-E-D.

Tetons from Big Hole Crest Trail

Looking SE back along the ridge of the Big Hole Crest Trail

The snow got progressively deeper as I gained elevation and began wrapping around the north side of the mountain. Surprisingly, I was following a single set of somewhat fresh looking footprints. I tried to figure out if they were from the same day or maybe the day before. I couldn't tell, but who on earth would be up here and why?! A hunter probably. Or maybe another crazy late-season mountain runner? ; )

On the NW ridge of Red Mountain looking NW towards Garns Mountain, the distant peak

Looking west over the heart of the Big Holes. The two tallest peaks are in the frame here: Piney Peak (9,019ft) on the left and Garns Mountain (9,016ft) on the right.

From the summit looking SE over Victor. Taylor Mountain (10,352ft) is the tallest peak on the right. Teton Pass is just off the right side of this photo. Jackson Hole lies on the other side.

Le Trois Teton! Overlooking Teton Valley to the east. This photo turned out hazy, but you can see the snowy mountains on the left side of the photo where Grand Targhee is located as well as Static Peak on the far right (and Buck Mtn to its left)

I didn't stay long on the summit knowing I had limited daylight remaining, but I sure wanted to! It was stunning being up there in the waning light of the afternoon looking at the sky and all the surrounding mountains turning purple with alpenglow. It was 5:50pm. I reluctantly began my descent, plowed over one last 100 yard long snowfield before gaining the sun-dried south facing flank, then quickly skittered down 500, then 1,000 ft along the trail. Suddenly, I realized I was on the west side of the ridge. What??? How did I get here? I should be on the east side! But I'm still on the trail... I didn't see any other trail leading to the left... In fact, I didn't even recall there being a trail in this area on my map! (which has conveniently been downloaded into my brain from the hours and hours I have spent studying it and the hours and hours I have spent running the trails in the nearby area.) Well, with tired legs and light fading, backtracking back uphill 500ft to search for a trail that may or may not be marked (this is the Big Holes, remember) or that maybe is covered in a deep layer of snow was of no interest to me. I took a vote and sure enough, consensus was to hopefully follow as many game trails as possible down and to the left (SE) to wrap around the south side of Red Mountain through the aspen groves and over the scratchy sagebrush and end up at the bottom along the Red Creek Trail where I could then cross over to Corral Creek, then climb up to the Big Hole Crest Trail where Grove Creek begins on the other side and where my route out of the mountains was. Whew!

Heading down the SE ridge

The headlamp came out to play as I began my descent down Grove Creek. It was 7pm. Finding the place where I hid my bike in the dark wasn't as difficult as I thought. I pulled on both my light jackets, my leg warmers, and warm gloves expecting the ride back to be a chilly one. At least it would only take 20 minutes! Pretty soon, I rolled up to my place feeling great and wanting more; just not today! I was ready to get clean, get fed, and get the bed. One hot shower, one Buddy walk, and one-half, ham & pineapple Wildlife Pizza later, and I was pedalling and running trails in my dreams. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cube - Rexburg, ID Cyclocross Race #1

This was the first race in the inagural The Cube Cyclocross race series in Rexburg, Idaho, and after seeing the race flyer on the front door of Peaked Sports, the local bike/ski/outdoor gear store in Driggs earlier in the week, the idea of doing a cyclocross race tumbled around in my mind until I finally decided to do it at the end of the week. Yes! Here comes cyclocross! My only concern was whether anyone would turn out for the event seeing as this was the first race of the first race series in an area where bike racing in general probably isn't a very publicly represented sport. I grew up racing in Portland, OR, one of the hotbeds of cyclocross, and where the Cross Crusade series has now grown into a major multi-weekend event capable of drawing 1,000+ competitors. I knew the Rexburg series wouldn't be anything like that, but I hoped for a group of at least maybe ten or so riders who weren't all completely new to the sport.

My first impression when I rolled up to the race venue wasn't a great one. The venue seemed like a great place to hold a cross race, but after following a couple "Bike Race Today" signs set on the steets leading to the race, I came to a gravel parking lot with a sign that read "Bike Race Parking Here". Empty. Shortly thereafter, another parking area with maybe six vehicles. Hmmmmmm... Is this it?

Well, if this is it, that's ok. I didn't expect a huge crowd and even then, I simply came here to do a cross race and if I'm the only one out there, at least I'm racing! (Is it still a race if there's only one competitor?) As it turns out, I met a few other racers at the registration area so I knew I wouldn't be the only one. Some were riding road bikes with slick road tires. Some had mountain bikes. As I rolled up, someone noted that I was the second person to show up with a legitimate cross bike. I think there were about fifteen of us and a few of the guys appeared to be somewhat serious riders. I was glad everyone else decided to show up!

The Cube Cyclocross race #1 starting line

Cross Crusade race #1 starting line on Oct. 7th, 2007 at Alpenrose Dairy, Portland, OR

This was the largest turnout in history for any Cross Crusade race with 1,064 competitors

The course was held at a nature park a few blocks away from the downtown Rexburg area and was well-designed on a roughly one mile course, the first 2/3 of which were on paved pathways and the last 1/3 on thick soccerfield and park grass that was still partly covered in frost. When we started, the air temp was probably still in the 30's despite the bright sunshine and beautiful blue sky. We would be racing for a typical 50 minutes, plus one lap.

Experience in races like this counts for alot and since this was not only the first cross race for some of the racers, but their first race of any kind, I was concerned about having beginners out there alongside much more experienced riders. It's not so much fun for a new, lesser experienced participant to be thrown out there with people who have been doing this for years and years, but luckily, everyone seemed to be having a good time and smiles and good cheers were abundant. On the first lap, everyone was strung out in a widely spaced line with me leading the charge fully expecting the first five minutes to be absolutely furiously fast like all the cross races I've ever done. As each lap went on, I was able to gradually put time on the group behind me, but it looked like that group was battling it out pretty closely. At the end, I crossed the line in first place. There ended up being a heated three-way battle for second place that came down to the last lap which got everyone excited. The top four of us finished the same number of laps.

Everyone was very friendly and seemed to be having a great time out there. Even the small group of family and friends that came out to watch. They even brought two cowbells! Nothin like hearing the constant clanging of cowbells in the fall! That could only mean one thing: Cyclocross!At the end, we all recapped the race and shared our stories with each other. The awards ceremony was held and we were done. Pretty low-key. For this being the first ever cross race for race promoter Donn Hayes, the Events Coordinator for the City of Rexburg, he did an exceptional job with this event. He already puts on the Teton Dam Marathon, The Rush Triathlon, and now The Cube CycloCross. Looking forward to next Saturday! And maybe we'll have some mud! = )

Most unusual prize? How about a five lb bag of potatos. Only in Idaho! Along with a black, metal "cube" sculpture and a ballcap from event sponsor Edge Wireless. (I didn't mention I was a Verizon customer) Major Jake looks waaaaaaaay too clean!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Static Peak - October 14th, 2007

Ok, so this is a week late. Truth be known, I haven't felt much interest in the blogging scene lately (like, since I posted my first two entries over a month ago!) and I wasn't sure whether it was something I would continue, or not. Well, sho'nuff, here I am again and I've got mo-pho-tos-yo! (Static Peak is the pointy peak on the far left of the photo. Buck Mtn, Static Peak's taller neighbor, is the taller, broader peak to it's right.)

This was a classic Teton trail route starting at the White Grass Trailhead (more commonly known as the Death Canyon Trailhead) at 6,800 ft, passing by Phelps Lake between mile 1 and 2, then climbing gradually west up Death Canyon for another 2 miles while gaining 1,000 ft before turning north for the 3,000+ ft switchbacking route up to Static Peak at 11,303 ft. Round trip: approximately 16 miles, but it felt more like 20!

Static Peak is a good late-season option to get up on a high peak due to its mostly south-facing aspect which allows most of the early snowfall to melt off or at least become more navigable in running shoes. I figured there would be snow up there for sure, but hopefully it wouldn't be so deep as to prevent a summit!

So off we went, leaving the trailhead around 12:30pm under gloriously warm sunny skies and the impression that we would be topping out in about three hours. Well, that ended up being about an hour short after encountering light snow on the trail at 9,000 ft, then having to negotiate a progressively heavier amount of snow as we stepped our way up the next 2,000 ft to the top.

Looking SW from the summit. The tallest peak in the photo is Fossil Mtn. Just below is the Death Canyon Shelf . The Teton Crest Trail follows the cliffband with the bright strip of snow running across it.

What fun trail though! The views from the top were outstanding. The air was remarkably still and relatively warm which made me somewhat reluctant to start heading down, but it was almost 5:00 and with the sun setting at 6:45, I knew we'd be cutting our daylight hours close. Good thing Mr. Headlamp was riding along comfortably in my pack! As much as I'd rather not have to use him, I'm always happy to give him a ride for precisely this reason!

Looking North at the Grand Teton past the eastern flank of Buck Mtn. Jackson Lake can be seen in the distance to the right. Timberline Lake is the dark spot in the bottom right corner.

Looking northwest from the summit. Alaska Basin is just beyond the large snow field. The South Fork of Teton Canyon follows the bottom of the dark ridge extending to the right of center and Teton Valley, ID is beyond that.

Looking south over Death Canyon with Jackson Hole and the Snake River on the left. The trail switchbacks along the shaded area of the ridge to the left then hops over to the sunny side at the saddle.

The way down was speedy, but not speedy enough to beat the darkness. The last 15 minutes we ran in the dark following the bouncing light of our headlamps and arrived back at the trailhead at 7:30, feeling good after a seven hour day playing in the Tetons.

Negotiating the "scary snow crossing" along the shaded and snowier side of the ridge

Sleeping Indian at sunset

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Darby Canyon Duathlon

Southwest Ridge of Fossil Mtn

View to the South from the West Ridge of Fossil Mtn

Sometimes I just feel like doing something out of the ordinary to change things up a bit. Or maybe change things up alot. I don't know why or how it happens and I never seem to know exactly when, but today was one of those days.

After working yesterday morning at El Banco, I came home expecting to get some household chores done, then head out on a nice, easy, long run in the snow. It had been snowing off and on all morning and there was about three inches on the ground that fell mostly overnight, but things had warmed up to a balmy 45 degrees which makes comfortable running weather for me so I figured I would head out after maybe an hour. Well that never happened. As I was doing things around the house, my right knee felt a little sore, which I attributed most recently to my jaunt up Mud Lake Road the night before, but more appropriately attributed it to the ongoing tendonitis I developed over the summer in both knees as a result of all the running I have been doing this year. So...

...Long story short, I laid around the house all afternoon and evening save for a nice long walk around the hood with Mr. Bud.

So, this morning I awoke feeling a stong pull to get outside and do something active. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about doing something different. Maybe I could ride my mtn bike to a trailhead and start my run from there. I hadn't been out on the bike for about a week and I also didn't want the knees to take a beating so I thought about a route that would maintain a navigable amount of snow for most of the way and would be good to ride too (meaning mostly dirt roads cause riding fat tires on pavement just ain't that fun.) Hmmmmm... Ah! I know! Darby Canyon! It was 10:30am. Daylight hours are getting shorter. Focus! Think about logistics! I'll start on the bike for probably an hour to an hour and a half, then switch to running/hiking attire, hike up Darby for as long as the route permits, then retrace my route back to the bike and bike home. Go light, go fast is the strategy. It'll be snowy, but snowshoes are too heavy and too bulky. I hoped for a level of snow that would be passable with trailshoes and gaiters. It'll be colder up high in the canyon. Pack a whisperlight shell, warm gloves, and a light ski hat. Ok, it's 11:08am and I'm off!

I began wearing Smartwool socks under my Sidi cycling shoes. Wool maintains it's insulating properties even when it's wet, which I was planning on. Likewise, I wore my Smartwool, long sleeved running shirt from the Grand Teton 50 miler back in September. I LOVE Smarwool! Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a! I would be on the bike for a while so I wore my cycling bibshorts and leg warmers and since the way there would be mostly uphill, I wore my Cloudveil softshell jacket so I could vent as necessary and not arrive at the trailhead soaked with sweat. A light pair of leather Troy Lee Designs cycling gloves, Bell helmet, and my fave Oakley Half Jacket XJL shades rounded things out.

In my Salomon Raid Revo 20 backpack, I carried a first aid kit, nylon zip-off hiking pants, gaiters, medium weight gloves, light ski hat, whisperlight shell, headlamp (god-forbid I need it, but it MUST be along for the ride!), 70 oz of water, seven vanilla GUs, a bag of trail mix, two cell phones (one for work since I was "on call"), camera, and the proverbial small folded paper napkin(s) in case of, you know, a pit stop in the woods. Snow works in a pinch, but paper napkins are much better! ; ) I chose my old school Nike Gore-Tex trail shoes in favor of my newer Montrail Hardrocks due to the waterproof factor. These things are 10 years old have have long since used up their cushiness, but that's what the fluffy snow is for! I lashed those on the outside of the pack using the nifty cordlock webbing system it has. I love this pack!

I headed north on the dirt/gravel frontage road that parallels Hwy 33 between Victor and Driggs. 4 1/2 miles later, I turned east and crossed the highway onto 300 South which gradually climbs almost 300 ft over the three miles to the mouth of Darby Canyon which lies at roughly 6500 ft. From here, it's about 7 miles to the trailhead on a rougher dirt road that I hoped wasn't covered in a foot of snow. Perfect! It appeared to have been driven on the day before so within the tire tracks, the snow was firm and crunchy and allowed for great traction. The tracks most likely had frozen overnight and I wondered if the way down would be a slopy mess if it continued to warm up, but for now, I focused on staying in "them ruts" left by the vehicles the day before.

"Yeah Dan... See.. What he's gotta do is jus stay in them ruts and he'll be jus fine. Once he gets outta them ruts, he jus gonna lose traction an be slidin all over. He jus gotta stay in them ruts!"

I arrived at the trailhead after 1:20 of riding. Perfect. My toes were freeeeeeeezing! I was concerned that from here on my feet would be submurged in a yet to be determined depth of trillions of tiny icy particles. Brrrrrrrrrr. That just sounds cold. Well, whatever. Off I go. Out of my strong desire to get moving again, I opted to pull on the "shorts" portion of my zip-off pants keeping my cycling shorts and leg warmers on underneath. I wasn't really too keen on dropping trou right there and changing things around. I just wanted to get going! I figured I've been on many all day bike rides before, so wearing a chamios underneath for hours and hours wouldn't be anything new. Except that when you're wearing bike shorts while sitting on a bike, you never really notice the chamios. When you're off the bike, it does have a bit of a diaper feeling quality about it. After a while, I never even noticed it. I changed into my trusty 'ol Nikes, added the gaiters, ditched the helmet in favor of my mesh running ballcap, and I was up the trail after hiding my bike in the woods just up the trail. I didn't expect to see anyone else up here today and wasn't concerned about someone stealing the bike. If anyone did come up here, they would probably not investigate the tracks that lead off into the woods because usually the only thing you'll find at their end is a yellow hole in the snow. So I felt fine leaving 'Ol Red resting comfortably on it's side under the low boughs of a fir tree with Mr. Shoes and Mr. Helmet to keep it company while I'm gone.

The trail was beautiful! It was covered by a soft layer of maybe six inches of snow and easily discernable. I kept having to stop and take pictures because I was enthralled by the beauty of it all! As much as I may say I'm tired of the 10 months of snow we get around here, I really do find it enjoyable to get out in. And there were so many animal tracks on the trail! All of them were hooved, but it seemed to be maybe one moose and then a couple of deer. I noticed that the moose tracks were perfectly spaced inline with my stride. I walked steadily up the trail placing each step within the moose tracks. It was easy hiking and I was thankful for all the trail-using wildlife! It sure sped up my progress.

I kept looking around for the wild beasts that seemed to have been here so recently, but was surprised to not see anything. After 30 minutes, I finally heard a rustling and looked up to see a young deer about 30 yards to the left of the trail. It would be the only wildlife I would see all day.
The Darby Canyon trail climbs steadily to the southeast along the eastern wall of the canyon for about three miles, then crosses to the west side of the canyon eventually reaching Wind Cave a mile or mile and a half later at an elevation of about 8500 ft. The canyon continues to reach up towards the southeast and although there isn't a maintained trail, many routes can be followed upcanyon culminating at a saddle at the base of Fossil Mtn's southwest ridge. I decided this would be my heading.

(Wind Cave is the black dot in the cliffband just above and to the left of center)

Since I had reached the three mile mark and the turn to Wind Cave in 55 minutes, feeling good, warm feet, warm body, and no problem walking on the shallow layer of snow, I decided to push upward and see how far I could get before the snow turned softer and deeper and thwarted my upward efforts. Off the official trail, the snow was marginally deeper, but wasn't turning out to be much of a nuisance, so up I went. 8500 ft. 9000 ft. 9500 ft.

Fossil Mtn obscured by clouds

Looking back downcanyon

It was turning out to be a perfect day! I was perfectly dressed. Not too warm, not too cool. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind wispy white passing clouds and for some reason, I didn't seem to mind slogging my way through calf and sometimes knee deep snow breaking a winding, weaving trail through the endless white ocean. I was staying afloat better than I thought so I continued up and once I caught my first glimpse of Fossil Mtn, I immediately entertained the idea of a summit. How great would that be?! It's October 21st and I could be standing on another high Teton Peak! I brought myself back to reality and remembered that I was already pushing my luck making it as far as I had in trail shoes, gaiters, and relatively lightwieght clothing to be up this high, this late in the year.

First glimpse of Fossil Mtn

After 2 1/2 hours, I reached the saddle and was able to finally look south into Fox Creek Canyon and beyond. I could recognize landmarks along the Teton Crest Trail from when I ran it last summer. Looking downcanyon I could see the flats of Teton Valley beyond the mountains to the northwest. And where the **** did this frigid north wind come from?!?!?! Whoa! I gotta get some clothes on! I tore off my pack and fumbled around with quickly numbing fingers for my wind shell. That's a little better. Then the pantlegs to my zip offs. Grrrrrrrrr! Curse that tiny zipper! I couldn't get them fully zipped around the thighs and I gave up on them moving on to find my ski hat and finally the warm gloves. Whew. Ok, that's better. I think. Well, actually I'm still cold. Ok, gotta snap a few pics and move on. Can I actually make it to the summit? It's frigid up here on this ridge! And that ridge looks like it has a pretty steep pitch on it! Brrrrrrr-r-r-r-r!

Hoooo-dare... Heeeey-dare... This might not happen. The ridge was narrow and exhilarating and I was comfortable on it for the moment, but I could see up ahead that it took a sharp pitch vertically and things looked pretty iced over. I looked back to see my tracks rising like a staircase along the pointed ridge. Images of Mt. Everest's southwest ridge came to mind. Hee Hee. See how my fantasy world works? ; ) This was about a million times smaller than big daddy Evy. Well anyway, it was an amusing similarity to me at the time especially because my lungs weren't in danger of filling with fluid and drowning me.

After three hours of hiking, I decided to turn around. My Gore-Tex trail shoes were no match for this as things became icy and my toes quickly became uncomfortably cold. I looked down to see that the entire toe portions of my shoes were covered in ice. Time to call it. Time of death: 3:38pm.

This is as far as I got at 10,330 ft

Looking Southwest down Fox Creek Canyon

Looking west down the ridge

Looking northwest down Darby Canyon. Teton Valley can be seen in the distance.

This looks like a good place to turn around

The way down was fast! An hour and ten minutes fast! Running downhill in snow has got to be one of my favorite trail moments. I love how cushioned it is and I love how you can take giant steps and not have to worry about foot placement. I can run downhill on a snowy trail much faster than I can on dirt. I began to get a bit warm by the bottom, but I was within ten minutes of the trailhead so I just removed my hat and gloves and unzipped the two jackets I still had on from up at the top and it was enough to get by.

My last view of Fossil Mtn

What lies ahead...

At the bike, I swapped clothing again, scarfed down the trailmix (my only remaining food) took a sip of gatorade out of my bike mounted water bottle and set off back down the road out of the canyon. Sure enough, things had melted considerably and instead of packed crunchy snow, it was now two rivers of slushy mud flowing down each of the tire tracks with still half-frozen sections in the shaded areas. Apart from being incredibly cold as the icy muddy water splashed up on my feet, legs, butt, and on my face, it was also extremely treacherous. There were sections where I would unclip both feet out of my pedals before crossing over because I knew how quickly things can go wrong when riding over lumpy, rutted, half-melted ice. I made it down safely albeit with absolutely frozen toes. And things weren't getting any better. It was just past 5:00pm and the temperature felt like it had dropped to near freezing already. Combine with a fast 3 mile downhill back to the highway. Combine with a frozen front derailleur that was stuck in the middle ring making pedalling useless at the high downhill speed. Combine with already cold and wet feet and legs. Combine with a very thin layer of lycra over a very sensitive part of my anatomy. This was nearly unbearable. No. It WAS unbearable. I resorted to steering with one hand while resting the other on the nose of my saddle as a windblock. Oh, how I long to be in a warm home in a hot shower.

Dirty 'Ol Red

Dirty 'Ol Me

55 minutes after leaving the trailhead, I rolled up to my steps. The entire outing took 6 hours and 40 minutes, from 11:08am to 5:48pm. I snapped a picture of dirty 'Ol Red, then one of me, then bounded up the steps to release Mr. Bud so he could run over to the car wash with me so I could spray things off. And now... I am completely, utterly satisfied and content sitting here clean, warm, fed, and reliving the day's experience.