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

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Big Bend National Park, Texas

So it's been 20 days since my last post and I have been wanting to post some photos of Big Bend since I got back, but just haven't found the time. So... Here is a selection of photos from the wilds of SW Texas.

Day 1: 5 mile hike up to a ridge on the west side of the Chisos Mtns.

This is a view south into Juniper Canyon

That evening, we camped at Rio Grande Campground. This is a wetlands area very close to the Rio Grande.

Sunset on the Mexico cliffs.

The residents of the Mexico village Boquillas, just across the river, craft these wire sculptures and leave them at this popular overlook in the park for tourists to take and leave a donation in a can. While we were sitting watching the sunset, a man walked up to the display and checked on the can of money. We realized he was a Mexican resident of Boquillas coming to collect the money from the art display. There was a sign explaining that the money collected was being used for the local school in Boquillas. This practice, however, is illegal and tourists are encouraged not to take the items and leave money. Oddly enough, the park staff is aware of this situation and has offered to legally buy these crafts directly from the Boquillas residents, pay them 3 times the amount they are sold for along the river, and then the park turns around and sells them in the gift shops. For some reason though, the illegal displays remain.

Day two: Another 5 mile hike into a narrow canyon along the eastern border of Big Bend to a feature called Ernst Tinaja. (Tinaja means "tiny cup")

Ernst Tinaja

The geology in this area was fascinating.

Following, is a nice selection of plant life common to the region:

Two of the most common species: Prickly Pear cactus, above, and Strawberry Tibayalitayascmapaya cactus, below. (I actually can't remember it's name, but it's strawberry something.) This stuff was everywhere, from the lowlands along the Rio Grande at 1800 ft to the highest areas in the Chisos Mtns at 7000 ft.

Another of the most common plants: Yucca

Rainbow Cactus

This is either a Cow-Crippler or a Horse-Crippler. Wicked little buggers, aren't they!?

Just reason # 5,479 why thou shall not go barefoot in the desert.

Ressurection Fern. I didn't get a chance to witness the ressurection, but apparently, when it rains, this fern collects the water and turns a beautiful bright green the following day. Then, promptly, it goes back to it's usual brown.

Hectia. This interesting plant is all about disguise. There is another similar-looking plant, lecheguilla, that looks just like it except without the red coloring, that contains a nuero-toxin which prevents animals from eating it. Hectia does not contain this neuero-toxin and, thus, is edible to animals; however, by mimicking lecheguilla, which animals know is dangerous, it attempts to trick them and scare them away to prevent itself from becoming lunch.

We hiked up and out the east side of the canyon, then followed a faint trail up the eastern slope back up to the top of the ridge which the canyon slices through. This is the view down into the canyon we hiked through just an hour earlier.

The floor of the canyon had these interesting ripples, evidence of the water that rushes out of the canyon during heavy rains.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Valliant Effort

After 73 miles and after 13 hours of non-stop forward movement, the machine shut down. The crash occurred on the fourth 20 mile loop, 13 miles after I had picked up with her to pace her over the last 40 nighttime miles. She looked great over the first 60. Absolutely great. Good rhythm. Comfortable pace. Smiling. Easy. Other than feeling like she had already ran 60 miles by the time I began running with her, when I asked her how she felt, she said "Great!" After 7 miles and about 1 1/2 hours into the fourth lap, it got dark and we broke out the headlamps. I noticed our pace slowing a bit, but it was dark and this was a surprisingly narrow two-way traffic part of the course so I attributed our slow down to that. No big deal. We're still moving forward and still clicking off the miles every fifteen minutes. We reached the Far-Side Aid Station, the turn around point for this section of the course and continued our way back through the night. And then... 30 minutes later... it happened. We stopped briefly. "Something's not right", she said. "I don't feel good." We kept going. Walking mostly. Shuffling a bit. "Oooooooohhhhhhhh, this is not good." She placed her hands on her knees and rested there for 30 seconds before walking again. "What's happenning?" It took us a long time to get to the next aid station. We were probably walking 20 minute miles. We got to the aid station. She sat down. I knew she needed fuel. Liquids especially. Anything. Oranges? Great. She downed a whole orange, drank half a bottle of water, got up and continued on. We were much slower now. No running. We stopped again after another 1/4 mile or so. She sat down to rest and sip some water. 15 minutes later, she tried to get up, but couldn't. Dizzy. Blurred vision. Nausea. Chills. She sat down again. Sipping more water. Another 15 minutes passed. Another attempt at getting up. Nope. Not gonna happen. Finally, we got up and walked slowly back to the last aid station we were just at. By now, she was having trouble walking on her own. She sat down in a chair and began the slow process of climbing out of the hole she had suddenly found herself in. Two hours later, we were evacuated out of the race course by a race vehicle with three other runners dealing with their own health issues. It was over.

I'm so proud of her. Amazing. Other than under-estimating the fluid intake necessary to run for that kind of distance in warm and humid conditions, she ran a beautiful race. It's difficult to prepare for warm humid sea-level race conditions when you live in a frigid, high-altitude, arid climate. She did everything she had planned to do. Her training went great. Her preparation was perfect. Finishing the first 100 mile run of your life is something everyone who sets off for the race aspires to accomplish. Many don't on their first attempt. In these races, experience is what gets you through those long miles at the end and the next one will be easier. Dramatically easier. When and where that is... who knows. But it's out there waiting. And when the time comes, she'll be ready. And I don't think there's anything that will stop her.