Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Isle Royale Greenstone Ridge

For our third great trail adventure together my brother and I chose Isle Royale National Park. Our previous two adventures took us to Grand Canyon and Grand Teton National Park. This year personal schedules kept us a little closer to the midwest and so Isle Royale became the choice option. My brother had been wanting to finally make it up there and I had been there previously in 2016. I also happened to have a 50-mile trail race in Marquette, Michigan in mid-August and a window opened for us to hit Isle Royale the day after my race.

One thing anyone who attempts to plan a trip to Isle Royale will quickly discover is that one of the most difficult parts of this adventure is actually planning it. Just getting to the island is an adventure on its own and numerous logistics around one's calendar need be navigated. To get to the island one has to use one of the three boat ferries or use a seaplane. The ferries have very specific daily schedules of when they'll get you to the island and when they'll take you off. This is only the first step.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Marquette Trail 50 DNF

Every ultra is a learning experience. Without a doubt. It is part of the allure of running ultras. You never really know what is going to happen. Every single run is a new adventure. Running 5K's can become predictable as a 20-30 minute run is just short enough it doesn't leave much time for the unexpected. When you're on trail for 6-12 or more hours there is plenty that can happen. Plenty that can go wrong. Plenty that might just go right.

In my racing and running experiences up to this point things have mostly gone well. I've had races that didn't quite go as well as expected but I still finished them and held things together. I hadn't experienced what some would consider the dreaded "DNF", did not finish. I hadn't really come up face to face with a full-on failure. Then again, there are many in the sport who would argue a DNF shouldn't even be considered a failure. For some the only real failure is to not try in the first place. So there is a good discussion to be had about what a DNF means and how one can react to it. At the end of my race report I attempt to dig into this further.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Stop and Smell the Roses

[Originally published in the Monroe News on August 13, 2021]

My oldest son Luke and I just returned home a week ago from a lovely trip out to Colorado to spend time with my parents and partake of much quality time outdoors.  We spent three days out in the wilderness backpacking, fishing, and mountain climbing.  My folks took us to their county fair and we spent a night at the rodeo.  Good fun!  We closed out the trip climbing a couple more mountains one of which was enshrouded in fog and cloud the whole time.  No views, sadly.

I am aware that these are not, in fact, roses.
They are from our recent trip, however.

As my son and I went through these days of adventure doing the things we love to do outside I was struck with an odd realization throughout.  It is a realization I’ve had many times in the past.  Here’s what it looks like.  At numerous moments during our hikes we would be taking in these amazing views and would be doing what we love to do, except, my mind was also set upon “when will we get to our destination?” and “how much further” and “I can’t wait for some good food at the finish.”  It’s so very odd.  I’m in the middle of something wonderful and yet I can’t help but continue to think ahead and look for a destination or the moment it will be completed.  I love it and at the same time I can’t wait for it to be over.  It's a conundrum.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Mount Columbia - West Slopes

West Slopes Route (Standard)
Trailhead Elevation: 9,910 ft.
Summit Elevation; 14,073 ft.
Distance: 12.45 mi. (my Forerunner 235)
Elevation Gain: 4,121 ft. (my Forerunner 235)
Start Time: 5:00am
End Time: 12:22pm

Trip Report:
I've been eyeing the west slopes route of Columbia for a couple of years now as the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative poured in a ton of resources to build a new trail for this route. I had previously descended the original "trail" in 2010 after completing the Harvard-Columbia traverse with my friend Matt. I can remember the steep and loose nature of the previous trail. It was almost universally disliked by all. So I had great excitement to see the miracle trail work of CFI to update this route.

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