Sunday, July 29, 2007

Leg 8 - Barker Pass to Tahoe City

Well, finished it up today. Met Chris at the original Tahoe City trailhead at 8:00, and shuttled back to the Barker pass trailhead by 8:30.

Then we started running. Yes, running - we decided to try to run all of the last leg, and finish in under 3 hours. (We are both doing a trail half marathon in Bend, OR in a couple weekends.) The first mile was pretty uphill, and it was more gently uphill for another 3-4 after that, but it was supposed to be mostly downhill from there. No matter how closely you've read the map, though, there are always surprises on the trail - turned out there was a big climb, then a big drop, then another big climb before the main downhill section. Had some greas scenery in there, though:

And I grabbed this shot of Chris running beneath a big rock formation:

So, eventually we started going downhill. The uphill took quite a bit out of me, though, and I was losing concentration - had a couple of small falls where I put one hand down, then a BIG fall going downhill where I actually rolled off my shoulder onto my back. Dinged my knee pretty good, too, but not enough to affect my running. Took a break, had a GU, and continued. That was right near this cool waterfall...

I ended up walking a little on a couple of surprise uphills we had, but not for more than 10 minutes. Didn't take any more pictures until the end; it was mostly in the woods and we were concentrating on finishing. We did end up finishing right at 3 hours, then walked across the street to where we started 10 weeks ago:

And that's it. I'd like to thank my sponsors - oh, wait, I don't have any. Well, I'd like to thank my wife and kids for letting me be absent on all those valuable weekend days; they were very understanding. I might have a few more updates to this blog, but for the most part, it's over...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Leg 7 - Echo Lake to Barker Pass

Well. That was quite a day. Left the house at 4:00 am, and got to Echo Lake at about 5:45. By the time I found the trailhead, filled out a Wilderness Area permit, and got set to go, it was 6:00.

Echo Lake sure was beautiful in the morning - and quiet. I felt like the sound of my footsteps on the rocky granite path must have traveled for miles.

Here was a sign that I didn't expect to see - apparently they run a water taxi service to drop people off at the far end of Echo Lake. I guess I was a bit too early for that...

After awhile, I entered the Desolation Wilderness Area. Kinda sounded like it would be lonely out there, but that wasn't the case.

After this, it was just one alpine lake after another. First, passed by Aloha lake, which had some campers by it but seemed to be kind of low:

Then skirted the edge of Susie Lake, which was very beautiful but didn't have any campsites:

Passed yet another lake, Gilmore Lake, then had a big pass to climb over - Dicks Pass. This was the high point of the day, at 9974 feet. Great views coming down the other side of more lakes - here are Dick's lake, Fontanillis Lake, and Velma Lakes.

There were lots of people down in this basin - I think it's a popular day hike in from Emerald Bay. Lots of dogs, too - for awhile there, I was the only person without a dog! The trails got kind of confused down here, too - I think I left the main trail for half a mle or so, but hooked back up with it right near Velma Lake.

From here, the trail changed totally - the trail surface had been granite, either powdery of in big, hard-to-walk-on chunks. Now it went into the woods, and had that nice bark-dust surface that feels good on the feet. Miles and miles, now, of tromping through the forest, with very few landmarks. The first major thing was 8.5 miles later, Richardson Lake.

Slightly farther on, the next landmark was the Rubicon Trail, an OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) trail. Not too exciting where I crossed it, but I had to have a picture of myself crossing the Rubicon. (Jeez, I'm a nerd.)

Only had about 4 miles left at this point, but about a mile into that, I ran out of water. I had a 100 oz bladder filled at the beginning, and went all the way through it. Those last three miles were pretty thirsty - luckily, some people that were camping at the Barker Pass trailhead had some extra water they shared with me. Here I am at the end:

So, almost exactly nine hours on the trail, and I only ran for about an hour of that. Pretty sore today, but I'll live. Only have 16 miles left to complete.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Leg 6 - Big Meadow to Echo Lake

Learned my lesson last week - need to get an early start when the temperatures are up. I didn't get on the trail until after 9:30 last Monday, and paid for it - had to go home from work on Tuesday and stayed home Wednesday, recovering. The smoke in the air and the fact that I was a little out of shape probably didn't help.) So today I left home at 5:15, and started hiking at 6:40 (Yeah, long commutes to the South Lake sections...) Actually had to start out wearing a long sleeve shirt, but it didn't last too long.

Came to the first big lake; Round lake - tried to take a panorama sho, but it didn't seem to work, so here's part of it:

The junction with the Pacific Crest Trail , or PCT (which the TRT follows along the western shore of the lake) is in Meiss Meadows, which is where I proposed to Mich - uhh... just a little under ten years ago. We came in from Carson Pass, and it looked different from that side, so I couldn't really tell where we had been. I remember this cowboy shack that's still standing there, though:

And not long after, saw the first of many PCT trail markers (for those of you that are interested in that kind of thing...)

In some of the meadows I literally had to wade through wildflowers. Lupine, indian paintbrush, whatever those little yellow and white ones are. At times it was waist or even shoulder high on me; would have been like a tunnel for the kids!

Next big lake I came to was Showers Lake - there was a good-sized group camping there (more people in general on the trail - prime part of the season or popular spots? Both?)

And not to far from that, a breathtaking panorama opened up:

About halfway across this big bowl, I realized that I could see Lake Tahoe for the first (and only, it turned out) time. Tried to get a picture, but it didn't come out very well. Look in the upper left corner, and kinda squint..

After a REALLY steep downhill (everything was steep today, the ups and the downs) I crossed Hwy. 50 and made my way to the Echo Lake Trailhead. Mich and the kids had hiked about a half mile in to meet me; got a picture with Julien at the trailhead.

So, I was on the trail for 4:20 today, and ran for 1:25 of that. Looking forward to next week...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Leg 5 - Kingsbury to Big Meadow

Got another leg of the TRT in today, and it was hot and smoky from the fires in the area. Actually, not so smoky up where I was, but the haze in the distance sure cut down on the views. And it was hot because I got a later start than usual - dropped the kids off at about 8, and didn't get on the trail until 9:30. Here's the opening shot of the trailhead, right under the Stagecoach lift at Heavenly:

The trail stayed within or hear the ski area for quite awhile - almost 5 miles, I'd say. Here's some signage that was still in-bounds:

Not long after this, a pretty big bird decided to cross the trail right in front of me. I was able to get the camera out before it ambled away. Mich's dad and grandpa (who picked me up) said they thought it was a Blue Grouse.

Pretty much a lot of climbing - in the first two and a half hours, I got about 20 minutes of running in, wherever I could. Had some really breathtaking overlooks of the Carson Valley, somewhat obscured by the haze:

And some pretty cool parts of the trail:

Eventually came to a really nice looking lake called Star Lake - seemed to be camp spots around it, and if I remember, the guidebook says the fishing is good. I'll bet that's where the two sets of thru-hikers I passed were heading to or from.

Hadn't had any Tahoe views at all up to this point, but I think I caught a glimpse of it through the haze here:

At about 2 and a half hours in, I came to the high point - just below Freel Peak, right about 10,000 feet. Not going up there; not today...

So I THOUGHT it was pretty much downhill all the way out from there, and it did start with a pretty good downhill stretch that I could run. There seemed to be mor climbing after that than I had expected, though. I finally found my mistake: I had thought that one 5-mile stretch dropped from 8700 to 8330 feet, but had misread it - it actually climbed from 8700 to 8830! Wasn't expecting all that climbing there, and it kinda killed me - a little demoralizing when you're expecting an easy glide down. Made it town, though, and was able to run about 3 of the last 4 miles in. Showed up about 50 minutes late for my shuttle pickup (thanks Bill and Nick) which wasn't too bad considering I had started a half an hour later than I had expected. So really, I was only 20 minutes behind my projected time. Here's the finish trailhead:

So: on the trail for 5:20, and only got to run for 1:35. Lotta climbing there. After shuttle to my car and the drive back to Reno, it was 5:00 - that was a full day. Pretty stiff tonight, we'll see if I can walk tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Leg 4 - Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade

Got that sweet runner's high a couple of times today, when your legs are churning away, you're bouncing over rocks and roots, and it feels like running is what you were designed to do. Like it would feel weird to stop running. Anyway - it was a pretty good day.

Started out from home a little after 6, and got on the trail at 7:05. (The next few legs are going to have loooong drive/shuttle times.)

Started out uphill again (recurring theme) for the first five miles. There were some places where I could run, so I did, for short spurts. Here's an example of one of those (sorry it's kind of bouncy...)

Had a few views of Tahoe through the trees here, this is one:

Then I hit the high point of the day's section, and thought it was going to be flat and downhill from there on out. Here's the flat section:

And a good panorama from near there:

So it ended up being a little more uphill than I had expected, back to the trailhead. Ran what I could and walked a bit. Saw a few people as I got near the trailhead, and a bunch more getting ready to start out.

I wanted to connect to the next trailhead (so noone can say I didn't do the WHOLE thing) so had a 3.4 mile on-road slog to the next trailhead. That, too, was much more uphill that I expected. Ends up, the next trailhead i sright underneath one of the Heavenly lifts.

Here's me there, just for documentation's sake...

Ah, a good equipment addition this time: I have seen people on the trail and a races wearing these trail running gaiters, and wanted to get a pair, but the person who makes them only does them in wild colors. So, I decided to make some myself. Got some fabric (4-way stretch lycra) and whipped some up. They worked great! If I had to make another pair, I would adjust the dimensions a little, but these did their job just fine. No more emptying my shoes twice per run!

Trail distance: 15.6 mi
Time on trail:3:10
Time running: 1:40

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Marlette Video

Had Chris take some video of me running above Marlette Lake, with Tahoe in the background. Turn volume down - it was kind of windy, and I haven't figured out how to edit video yet...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Third Leg - Tahoe Meadows to Spooner Summit

Longest day yet; 23 point something miles. Overall downhill, although there were a couple of big uphill sections. Had company again today, too - Chris picked me up at about 6:30 and we drove to the Mt. Rose Meadows (Tahoe Meadows) Trailhead.

Started out running - no uphill to start out this time. (Well, a little, but we ran through it.) In fact, we ran for about the firs ten miles - an hour and a half of running! It was nice to knock off so much of it early. Along the way, we had a few nice lake views like this, but most of the time were in the trees.

(Sorry, my panorama software that worked so well last time is giving me problems all of a sudden...)

And had to pause for some heroic tahoe shots like this:

Then we had a big uphill that we hiked, a flat section that we ran, and another big uphill that we had to hike most of. Started running near the top of the second big uphill - here's Chris taking off:

For quite a while now, we had amazing views of Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe - again, these were planned as a panorama, but - well, technical difficulties...

That was about the highest point of the day; from there it was a 6-mile mostly downhill to Spooner Summit. Pretty fun to just let it out on the downhill at that point, but my legs were definitely feeling it toward the end...

Trail distance - 19.5 miles
Time on trail: 4:20
Time moving: 4:10
Time running: 3:00