Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Notes from the road: Part 3

Day 20: Hiked around Sunrise point. Beautiful clear blue skies and views of Mount Rainier. Went out to Freemont lookout tower and 2nd Burroughs. The mountain seemed so close you could almost reach out and touch it. Spent the afternoon hiking out to Summerland. There is a trail that goes from there out to Panhandle Gap. It was all snowfields. I asked a ranger if I could make it out to the gap without crampons or hiking poles. He said "yeah, risk is all relative.” I'm not sure exactly what he meant. It was cool hiking through the snow fields, complete silence and isolation out there. I didn’t stay long at the pass. I was a bit worried about an avalanche or that one of the snow bridges would collapse before I made it down. You could hear rivers running under sections of snow that was a little unnerving! Ate more tuna fish for dinner.

Day 21: Rode my bike about 30 miles to the top of Sunrise point just to make sure I can still peddle after so many days off the bike. Drove to Paradise region of the park. Hiked up to the Muir snowfield which leads up to the base camp. Decided I really needed more gear to cross the snowfield safely so I turned around there and hiked the rest of skyline trail which was basically all traversing through snow. Talked to a guy from Las Vegas who had summitted a couple of days ago and was hiking out. Definitely would be cool to hike to the top. He said there was no technical climbing – just fitness and crossing over deep crevasses in the snow. Camped at Couger campground. Last night of solo car camping and last tuna fish packets down the hatch!

Day 22: Drove to Mt. St. Helens. Foggy morning but the sun eventually came out and got some good views of the volcano. Hiked out to Harry’s Ridge. Spent some time in the visitor’s center learning about the volcano and the 1980 eruption. Drove to Portland. Found a KOA on the way there for a quick shower. Picked Jeff up! Drove to Bend. Ate a delicious dinner at Bend Brewing Co overlooking the Deschutes River. We are staying at an air bnb on the west side of Bend, close to the starting line for the High Cascades 100.

Day 23: Slept in. Got coffee at Looney Bean. Got an oil change for the van. Did laundry. Registered for High Cascades. Did a short pre-ride at Phillip’s trails. Carbo loaded at Immersion Brewery. Went to bed early. Start time for the race tomorrow is so early: 5:30 am.

Day 24: Raced High Cascades – 100 miles of dry dusty flowy singletrack. The race started with a 10 mile lead out on pavement to the trails. It was a really long flat paved road section with 500 riders in a huge group. Avoided any crashes. Hit a sandy climb that spread out the field. Jeff took off in front of me. I was questioning his tactics but I let him go and focused on my race. Since I had no idea what to expect, I went out conservatively, staying in the front of the women’s field but not going all out. Pulled into the 1st aid station at mile 25 with Kaydee Rash. She stopped and I kept going since I had plenty of water in my camel pack. Caught and passed Jeff who was eating sandwiches. He said he would catch up. He did catch up at the finish! In the last 20 miles, I realized the vision in my left eye was completely blurry and I couldn’t really see anything. I tried blinking and rubbing my eye to no avail. I was having trouble seeing the trail. I tried closing that eye but then had no depth perception. Remember sunglasses next time. Wiped out on one of the last downhill sections before the road back to the athletic center and finish line. After a bottle of eye drops, my vision came back. Drank beer, ate food, met some really nice people. Ate at Spork for dinner – a Mexican/Asian fusion place that was awesome.

Day 25: Woke up sore and tired. More Looney Bean coffee. Went SUPing with our awesome air bnb host who took us to Hosmer Lake. Beautiful water and mountain views. You could see huge fish swimming below in the water. Napped. Went to Crux brewery for some beers.

Day 26: Time for the road trip home. Drove to Fruita, CO. Almost ran out of gas driving through western Oregon. Stopped at Red Rock Brewing Co in Salt Lake City. Car camped near Fruita.

Day 27: Rode parts of the Kokepelli loops in Fruita. Beautiful canyon views over the Coloado River, rocky trails, slickrock riding. The Kokepelli trail is a 140 mile trail from Grand Junction to Moab. That would be fun to do sometime. More driving across CO and Kansas. 

Day 28: More driving, another 14 hour day in the van with Jeff and his stinky farts! Stopped at a park in Ohio to do some running and take a break. Made it into West Virginia. Last night of car camping! Stayed at a KOA.

Day 29: Made it to Baltimore! Picked up our dogs. Got in a 50ish mile road ride on old training roads on a borrowed road bike from Joe. Drove to Chapel Hill. Movers come at 9am tomorrow morning for our move to Roanoke!

It was an incredible trip and I learned a lot during it. I learned that I am capable of going out and exploring by myself and having fun while I'm at it. You just don't get lonely when you are in beautiful places, hiking and biking and seeing incredible things. I think shared experiences are always better, and it was awesome when Jeff joined me in Portland. But exploring solo definitely beats not exploring at all! And I learned that life doesn't fall apart when you take time off the bike. I would stress out so much about missing intervals or a training workout that my coach gave me. But for the last 3 weeks, I haven't touched a heart rate monitor or looked at a training plan. I re-discovered a love for running, I did more hiking than I have in years, and I still ended up doing ok at High Cascades. I'll probably never have this much time off or freedom to explore again, so I am so happy that I went!

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