While I’ve been inconsistent on my on my running, my workouts have been balanced with some great swims and good mornings at the gym. The great thing about this week has been seeing improvement.
I ran to Mount Bradley again on Friday. While the hills crushed me the first time, they were doable this time. The views along the ridge were worth the 2600′ of climbing as the first cold storm of the year was moving in.
On Saturday, we hiked up to Rainbow Ridge. Again 1200′ of climbing in 1 mile made my quads scream but I just kept the pace slow and steady and was thankful to call this my backyard. As we got to the top, we could see the tracks from runners doing the Headwaters 50k. There weren’t that many.
Sunday, I ran 7 miles around Lake Siskiyou again. I was happy to see that I dropped 12 minutes and 1:33 per mile since I ran there last. Now, I take that all with a grain of salt because my recorded pace is inaccurate since it doesn’t take into account all the stops to let the dogs swim. The run felt good was what was important.
Yesterday I got to check the box on one of those Bucket List items that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Cycling around the rim of Crater Lake was a fun way to experience the national park. I want to use the word unique but their are hundreds of people doing it during the Ride the Rim events and, when you check Strava, 1000’s have completed it. What is special about the Ride the Rim, they close off 2/3 of the Rim Drive to vehicular traffic and allow bicycles full access to the park. While you can ride the road at any time, this was a fun way to experience the park without the conflict of cars.
Like other things we’ve done such as skiing in Yosemite NP (1/19/2017 Cross Country Skiing in Yosemite National Park) or paddling in Glacier NP, it’s not the usual experience of most park goers. It provides a different perspective. You earn the climbs and all your senses are involved in the descent. You can stop anytime, anywhere and take a picture without inconveniencing other visitors. And, we were sharing the park with a lot of like minded people rather than the usual tourists who never get more than 100’ from their car.
One note on people watching was you could tell what time people started by the size of their backpack. The people in shorts and cycling jersey started late. The ones in long sleeves and tights with a backpack started early and spent most of the ride trying to warm up. It was 34º at 8 am and I had every warm piece of clothing on except mittens. I still started out cold so I wouldn’t overheat on the first ascent; all part of the experience. I’ve noticed comments on other sites about riding with people with little or no cycling experience and, yes, there is that element of poor cycling etiquette. But why are you there? If you would like to set a course record, try to finish early before the majority of people are on the road. Our group had mixed abilities so we stopped often to regroup and take pictures but the event became a shared experience.
For most of the people that I met, this was not their first Ride the Rim event. I look forward to returning but I also want to experience the similar event in Lassen National Park (Hike/Bike the Highway) so we will see what next year brings…maybe both.
While I haven’t been able to stick to Hal Higdon’s plan perfectly (Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan), it’s nice to see enough progress that my long runs are now medium distance runs. The 7 miles around Lake Siskiyou is an easy run.
That being said, it’s hard to find a longer run without climbing a mountain. I returned to Deadfall Lakes to check out a new section of trail along the top of the Sisson-Callahan Trail. We ran the Pacific Crest trail from the Park Creek trailhead to the junction with the Sisson-Callahan Trail. As we turned east, I thought the trail would follow the contour to the saddle below Mount Eddy. I was wrong. The trail went straight downhill to the headwaters of the north fork of the Sacramento River where we found ourselves in a grove of old growth cedars. It was amazing to be in the headwaters of such a large river but that’s where the trail disappeared. Luckily, route finding was pretty easy because the mountains formed a bowl that pointed in one direction and there was water in the meadow everywhere except one path. I kept my feet dry. Just as I would commit to a direction, I would find a white trail marker on the side of a tree confirming my decision and so I continued scanning for them but never found one until after I had chosen a path each time. It slowed the run down but not like the climb out of the bowl. I kept my heart rate up but my pace was slow as we climbed from 6610’ to 8005’ in 1.6 miles. As we crossed the saddle into the Deadfall Lakes basin, we were greeted again by one of the most beautiful areas I have ever been. Descending through the series of ponds and lakes, the dogs were in heaven jumping in and out of the water…running, swimming, and chasing chipmunks…what could be better.
I stopped to help one group with directions and after the gentlemen complimented the dogs on being so beautiful, Roxy unabashedly stuck her head between his legs so he could pet her. How to get to know people quickly! The dogs have gotten so much better on the runs as they greet other dogs, take a sniff and move on. Six months ago, I didn’t know if this was possible as they seemed fine on their own but they had an assertive pack mentality when together. People are so complimentary of the dogs and it’s great to see a pair of rescues who had such a troubled past having fun and becoming good trail dogs at the same time.
We were advised not to hang bird feeders because it would attract bears.
Understandable but with 3 dogs barking all the time, what are the odds that a bear was going to pick our house over the unprotected trash can down the street. So we hung a couple hummingbird feeders and add bird seed to a couple other feeders daily.
Hummingbirds are fascinating as they dart back and forth across the yard, hover in front of a trumpet flower, or as they seem to light up with iridescent colors when seen from just the right angle.
Do you know what chaos hummingbirds bring? Our landscape morphed from state of silence and serenity to nervous chatter overnight. Now, granted, the trumpet vine and the rose-of-Sharon coming into bloom would have brought the hummingbirds to the yard anyways but from first light until dusk, they are chasing one another with angry bursts of chirping. They don’t have a pleasant song just blips of energy fired out as they scare off other birds from the feeder. Even when they have the feeder to themselves, they are constantly watching their surroundings, ready to protect the food they haven’t even gotten.
But that’s okay, we love them anyways. At our old house, it took years of planting flowers that would provide a succession of food and trees that would provide perches, cover, and protection before we had a steady stream of resident and migratory birds who were unafraid of us sitting by the feeder taking photos. While they might chase one another, they didn’t mind flying in close around our heads as we had dinner on the patio, each of us going about our business. The birds here aren’t that tame yet but as they search on the deck from flower to flower for food they at least know they have one consistent source.
If the trails seemed repetitive this week, the people I met definitely were not.
On Tuesday I ran to Faery Falls again. As we turned to go up the steep hill, the dogs veered onto the wrong trail as they made a beeline for the creek. I let them go thinking they would catch up. I passed a young couple hiking down the hill from, I assumed, the falls and noticed the woman was only wearing a piece of cloth. I thought “to each his own.” Before I turned onto the trail to the falls, I looked back and the dogs had not returned. I felt guilty about disturbing the couple’s hike but I took a couple steps down the hill and called for Roxy and Cash. No response. I walked down the hill a little to see if I could see the dogs down by the creek but instead saw that the woman had changed outfits. Her boyfriend had the cloth draped over his shoulder and she was adorned in her birthday suit. I had seen the sign at Panther Meadow on Mount Shasta that you were required to wear clothes while hiking there and, while I was initially surprised that they needed to post a sign like that, I have since learned a lot of the nuances of the area. This wasn’t out of the ordinary because, with no sign at Faery Falls, why would you wear clothes? She initially looked like she was going to put the cloth back on but decided against it and let me know that one dog was running the wrong direction and the other was on their way up.
Wednesday’s run on the Callahan-Sisson Trail was unremarkable other than, the steepness really creeps up on you.
Thursday, we ran around Lake Siskiyou. My legs were dead from the Callahan-Sisson Trail but I plodded along. As we came around the lake, the sky was changing color as the fires from last night’s lightning storm were picking up with the afternoon winds. I was not looking forward to living in the smoke again but it sure makes a pretty sunset.
Sunday, I returned to the Pacific Crest Trail at the Gumboot Trailhead. I ran twice as far on the PCT as last time but again, it was the people that were remarkable. I passed 3 people on the way out and none would look up. I am not a social butterfly but I always try to say hi or thank someone for letting us pass on the trail. In the one case, the dogs plopped down in a spring that a gentleman was sitting next to. I jokingly said, “I hope you got the water you needed” (seeing that he had a full water bottle). Maybe he was just really stoned but he kept staring down at the dogs and then he mumbled something. I wished him a good day and we ran on. If they were wearing t-shirts that said, “I hate people” (which I just saw today), I would have understood but they all responded, mumbling something unintelligible back to me. On the return trip, I saw the same individuals and they all were a bit more social…just a bit.
On the return trip, I stopped to talk to one backpacker for a couple seconds. He told me that he couldn’t decide whether to stop at the next lake or continue so I suggested that, if he continued, he stay at Upper Gumboot Lake. As I drove home, I stopped by Gumboot Lake for the dogs to swim and cool off. From the campground, I could hear someone playing the drums…not just bongos but a full drum set. I was torn between, what a beautiful place to play music and that is really disruptive in nature. Hope the backpacker got some sleep. Why a group of Japanese tourists were so off the beaten path at Gumboot Lake, I don’t know but they were fascinated by the dogs…especially when they jumped into the back of the truck. Roxy stood so proudly on the tailgate as she was petted from head to tail by 3 sets of hands. Cash shirked in back and mumbled something.
Running week 7 didn’t happen. Long days on my feet, hiking hills, and carrying packs was going to have to make up for the runs.
As I read my friends blog, I realized how similar our days our when we are working (What I Saw August 2019).
The days are long. I talk more in a couple days than I will at home in a month. Since we are usually camping or staying in a cabin together, even when I am not teaching, I am answering questions and helping students study. Some groups require more energy than others (teaching high school students especially). When I taught in Nepal, our mantra was Semper Gumby. When the power would go out, we would switch to the white board. When the generator would kick on, we would go back to the PowerPoint. When the generator would die, we would go outside and do skills or scenarios. Flexibility was a must.
But the rewards are huge…just captured in small moments. They are found on a morning walk with coffee and camera or finding a special spot to watch the sunset. Last weeks class in Big Sur was no different.
In the 5 years that I have been working in Big Sur, I have watched it change…rapidly. I used to drive to work early in the morning and I would have all of Big Sur to myself; the ultimate in peace and serenity.
The evening commute was the opposite extreme. I don’t know where people live that they can routinely drive 20 miles below the speed limit with a line of cars following them. Stop, get out, take a picture, and enjoy the coast….don’t keep driving with your phone out the window videoing the view while preventing people from getting to where they need to go. The most extreme example was when we were driving 15 mph in a 55 zone with 22 cars trailing. We never were able to pass.
Even the mornings are a nightmare now. When I was there in June, I was stuck behind a car going 25 mph in a 55 mph zone that was waving me to pass as they kept driving past pull-outs. Sorry but I am not crossing a double yellow line in the fog on a blind corner while pulling a trailer. Between classes this trip I was stuck behind a camper where the passenger got out while we were waiting at a construction zone and got in the cabover. The pilot vehicle arrived, turned around, and started to lead us through the Bixby Bridge construction but the truck never followed because the passenger was in back. Sure, we don’t mind waiting because whatever you are doing is so important that this line of cars and trucks will gladly get to work late to support your emergency. Luckily the pilot car waited too. After the construction zone they drove 20 mph below the speed limit past turn-out after turn-out. There are opportunities to pull over every 200’ but there are only opportunities to pass every 10 miles. Not everyone is on vacation.
As I drove to the gym this morning, I thought no one is going to feel any empathy for you when you post your pictures of “work.” Then a friend shared this blog with me a couple hours later: Tourist Tuesday, 8/27/19 — Emergency Response hampered by tourist traffic at Bixby Bridge. The car in the last picture drove off the bridge and landed a 100’ from the classroom where I was teaching last week. I wonder what my students would have thought practicing their newly learned medical skills much sooner than expected.
My first auto extrication was at the base of a 310’ cliff in Big Sur so I pay attention to my driving when I am driving the coast. I don’t get to enjoy the scenery. How do I know it was 310’? Because the next month we did a rope rescue on the same cliff and the rope was 10’ short.
It’s hard to watch such a beautiful place get ruined. Bad driving is only one of the problems people are causing…evidenced by the piles of toilet paper at each turnout.
While my commute through the Central Valley of California is not pretty, it’s worse at night. After too many trips home arriving after midnight, I’ve decided its easier to spend another night away, see some friends and do something interesting. Even if I only spend 2 hours in the morning, I’ve decompressed from a long week of work, socialized, and spent time in nature.
This trip south, I met a friend to kayak in Elkhorn Slough. It was so foggy that all the pictures have a grey hue but it was fun watching an otter eat a giant worm, listening to the otters “purr” as they groomed themselves, and seeing some birds that I had never seen before.
Then I was mentally prepared for my 7 hour commute.
The exhaustion of Week 5 (Running Week 5) caught me off guard. It was a combination of overtraining (my body not adapting on my schedule) and bad luck (my body not recovering due to lack of sleep).
Week 6 was the week I was dreading because I knew I would be on the road again.
I don’t mean to bore you, but Tuesday was my favorite run to Faery Falls again. It’s close, convenient, and the dogs can run off leash. It has some climbing but it doesn’t feel like it. The perfect run.
A combination of projects and exhaustion precluded Wednesday’s run. Here we go down the rabbit hole of discipline….”I will make up for it Saturday.” Well it’s Saturday. I got to work at 06:30 and the combination to the door lock had been changed. Then 2 people didn’t show up; then I delayed class waiting for them, then we worked late, then and then and then….I would like a beer now.
That’s okay. I got my long run done on Friday morning….before I drove 12 hours to Big Sur. What a relief having the most important run of the week done. As I hit traffic in Sacramento, it didn’t matter. As I hit traffic in Stockton, it didn’t matter. As I drove for hours and the time to destination never changed, it mattered because I thought the print shop was going to close before I got there. But it closed at 10, so it didn’t matter either. My mind was clear since that box was checked with a single lap of Lake Siskiyou.
Sunday morning I was able to make up for Wednesday’s transgression with a run up Buzzard’s Roost trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Running through the redwoods and along the Big Sur River made for a nice change of pace although I miss my training partners. I can’t bring the dogs with me to work so I am on my own this trip.
Unfortunately, with no cell service or internet, this blog won’t be posted for a while.
The week of the zombie.
I awoke Tuesday to legs feeling like Jello. They felt as though they were melting into the bed, a feeling I had experienced often when I rode regularly. I got up and tried to go about my day but returned to bed over and over trying to take a nap but unable to sleep. I skipped my run thinking that I needed the rest but feeling guilty of the first transgression of my running program.
Then it happened Wednesday and again on Thursday. Was training catching up with me? Was I over-training? Not eating right? Deficient in a vitamin or mineral? I spent my days trying to get motivated but was exhausted. In contrast, I couldn’t sleep either. There was no rest.
The answer was pretty simple…a conspiracy of events waking me up at 3am every night. I’ve had 1 nights sleep in the last 16 days. Lights left on, dogs barking, dogs with diarrhea, hot nights, cold nights, having to use the bathroom, train horns…why so many nights in a row? I don’t know but I am not recovering.
On Sunday, I was able to get my “long” run done. I set out on a trail that we had scoped out a couple months ago that didn’t look worth hiking. It was a perfect run although a little too much climbing for this stage in my training. The trail was a little hard to distinguish at first but eventually followed an old overgrown 4wd road that split the distance between Mount Shasta and Castle Crags State Park so the views were amazing. As I arrived at a high point on the ridge, I knew I should turn around but the goal was one peak away so, off I went, one peak too far. It was worth it but I paid for it later with my IT bands getting tight and subsequent pain in my knees and an extra 2 miles without water.
Unlike my hikes to Mount Eddy (6/30/2019: Hike Mount Eddy) and Black Butte, the fire lookout is still on Mount Bradley. I always find it interesting that, when you feel like you are in the middle of no where, you find signs of civilization. It could be a rose bush or apple tree in a remote field to let you know this was an old homestead. Here it was a decommissioned fire lookout. If I had to work at a remote fire lookout, Mount Bradley is now my first choice with Mount Shasta to the east and Castle Crags to the west and the little town of Dunsmuir straight below. Stunning.
Now it’s 5 am, do I go back to bed or go to the gym?