Category: Hiking

Look Back at Climbing Mount Rainier

Look Back at Climbing Mount Rainier

I’ve lived in Western Washington state since 1977. I can remember the first time I saw Mount Rainier was about a week after I moved to Tacoma. My colleagues told me about this big mountain but the weather had been cloudy and gray. Then, one day I walked outdoors and there was Mount Rainier in all its glory. It has become my favorite place on earth to explore.

I have hiked many of the trails and spent a lot of time observing the natural world of Rainier. I often looked toward the summit and wondered what it would be like up there. As I got older, my fitness level and overall health declined. In my mid-forties, I decided to get back in shape. (That’s a separate saga). In 2009, in the midst of a hectic engineering career, I decided I wanted to climb Rainier. It took me about two years to get ready due to work and life but eventually I made it to the summit in June, 2011 at age 53. I was on a guided climb with International Mountain Guides on the Emmons-Winthrop route; my favorite side of Rainier.

Here is my journal for the climb to the summit:
Got up on the night of 6 June, about 11 PM after some fitful sleep. I was mostly dressed, it had been quite windy as we “slept”. I popped out and headed to the food tent. Our lead guide Greg had hot water going, and I had two packs of instant oatmeal. It was darn good. Had some black coffee and then back to tent to grab gear. Got my harness secure, headlamp on. Don’t want to forget anything!

Back out and we all assemble just above the tents. I am on guide Jess’s rope team – with Dmitri and Jeff. We have a brief interlude while the other teams rope up. I take a chance to just look around, the first time tonight. It is cold and there is quite a wind coming down from the mountain. The stars are brilliant, so clear, so near. Just after midnight, and it is time to get to work heading up the Emmons glacier. We move out slowly and surely heading up the mountain, using our headlamps to navigate. I see pools of light ahead of me starting up the mountain.

It’s some work, but not too bad as my pack is only about 10 kg. (22 lbs.). We go up slow and steady. My focus is just in front of me – no missed steps. First break is after about an hour. I feel great. The stars are brilliant, Get my puffy down parka on, it is cold and windy. Sit on my pack and drink some water. Eat a little snack. We are last of four rope teams. In last, leave last. After about 10 minutes: puffy off, last sip of water, pack on and head up the hill.

We are entering the corridor and the glacier is steeper. Climb methodically and steady for the next hour and have our next break. Stars are so visible, it’s a great night. The wind is blowing ice crystals, I was glad to have goggles on. It’s like an ice desert tilted upward.

Now, it seems steeper still and the wind is really howling. I am thankful that we have goggles, they were necessary. Start to try some sideways walking. We cross a snow bridge over a crevasse. I am starting to feel tired; but not too bad. At our third break (about 330), a couple of people turn back with one of our guides. Our remaining three rope teams head up. It’s steep and hard; now I am very physically tired. Have to pull in mental reserves. The rosy fingers of dawn are emerging on this section.

Next break – I am physically blown. I debate whether to continue; but I do. It is steep, I am tired, and I pull in mentally. The wind is blowing hard up here at first light, it is like a beautiful white desert up here at first light. I stumbled a few times but pull myself up. Our guide Jess asks: “Do you want to keep going?” I answer:”YES”. Jess says: “THEN LETS GO!” And I go. And go, one step at a time. Then I see another team, then are on the crater rim, it’s about 500 feet. I can make it, and do.

Get up on the crater rim – and just lay down for a minute. Really pretty tired, just lay down for a minute. Get up, and shake hands with Jess and Greg. I was very happy to get up here!. Start looking around, it is a beautiful early morning. There is the crater below us, and I notice a lot of clear ice around us. The crater is much larger than I thought. I would like to explore up here – but not today. In the distance I see Mount Adams above the clouds, I climbed that with my friend Roger in 2003. ‘d like to do that again. Tried getting my camera to work. No luck even though it was in my inner layer. I checked after the climb – it was -12 C (10 F) with about 65 km/hr (40 mph) wind. One of my rope mates snapped my picture. After about 10 minutes it is time to head down.

Summit of Rainier 5 AM

Heading Down from the Summit
It is quite steep looking down. I really didn’t notice how steep that coming up in the dark. Well – the climb is not over until we are down. Down the Emmons glacier we go, following the other rope teams. Jeff leads us down, then Dmitri, then me, with Jess in the back. We plunge step – I am slow, We proceed down, one step at a time. My focus is to keep my balance, keep the rope taut, but my mind is a bit fuzzy and my legs are quaking. Just keep going. Knee’s bent, nose over toes. Plunge, plunge, plunge.

Plunge on down quite a while. I’m stumbling a bit, my quadriceps are burning bad. Try to keep going but I stumble and fall, but recover. A while later, I fall again; pretty bad. But back up and going. We need to get going, it’s not good to be up here as it warms up. Jess tells us: “Get going, Get down.”

We take a break, I am feeling sort of out of it. I’m just not that alert. Forget to eat during the break. Going again. Legs very tired. I stumble and inadvertently yank Dmitri down – not a good moment. We cross a crevasse on a snow bridge. Now I see it is very deep, but we don’t linger. We skirt around a few more crevasses but that was the only one we had to cross over. Continue down. My right boot is loose, which I did not notice for a while. We stop, I also notice my crampon is loose. No idea how, maybe from falling down. Jess helps me get fixed up.

More, more more plunge stepping, If I stumble, then everyone is going to stumble, I did need to stop a few times. I am slow – but going. Now it is starting to warm up. The sun is intense, but it is still windy. Little Tahoma is on our right. I remember it is above 11,00 feet and we are now below it, so we’re making progress. We have some crevasses to go around.

Finally, I see Camp Schurman below. Yeah! We stop – I eat some Energy Gel with caffeine and drink quite a bit of water. I was not hydrating enough going down, that was stupid!

Get up, get going. Some more stumbling but we get into Camp Schurman. Unrope. Crampons and harness off. I have some hot soup, it is delicious. Drink a liter of water and then take a nap. I think that was the hardest physical day I ever had.

Lessons Learned on Summit Day
1. Should have eaten more and drank more water especially coming down.
2. Should have trained on downhill more. My quads were weak! My balance was also not good.
3. Maybe I should have turned back instead of going on to the summit. (But honestly, I am glad I continued). My regret there is I caused my rope team to be slow and and stumble too many times.
4. Whenever I see Rainier (which is almost every day it’s visible) I see it in a different light.
I am grateful to my excellent guides, especially Jess, the people I climbed with, my trainers Laurie and Nate, my wife for being patient while I trained for this.

Here is the rest of the story of leaving Camp Schurman ~2900 m. (9500 ft) on the Emmons Glacier and heading down the Inter Glacier and then the Glacier Basin trail to White River camp at 1250 m. (4100 ft.)

We get awakened the morning after our summit climb by our guides. There is a raging storm outside. We get geared up, climbing harness on, and grab some food. It is hard to walk 10 meters to the cook tent. I have hot water and energy bar, all I can handle right now.

Back to the tent, we get in and wait. The plan is to take down each tent in sequence and then go rope up and get down. If I was at home… I wouldn’t even open my front door. Instead, we are about to go down off the Emmons Glacier, then down the Inter Glacier, wow! I trust our guides, they are excellent, so I am going with the plan.

We get our tent down, I had to pull my gloves off during this time.(That turned out to be stupid!) It is really blowing. I have a hard time with the harness, can’t seem to move my fingers too well. We are in two rope teams today. We head out, I can’t see very far and the wind is very strong. It is snowing and blowing but I feel OK. I notice that my thumbs feel a bit strange in my mittens, they don’t seem to fit quite right.

Roped Up and Waiting to Leave Camp Schurman

After quite a walk – perhaps 2 hours, the weather improves and we take a break. When I get a snack out of my back, I notice my thumb looks a little strange but think noting of it. After a short while, we are on the go.

I’m now postholing quite a bit as we walk. It’s quite tiring – and a bit maddening. The right way to deal with this is to maintain momentum and walk right out of the posthole. As I tire out; I can’t do that any more. After about 30 minutes of this (and others are experiencing this fun); we stop for a break and get set to glissade. Effectively, that means controlled sliding on your butt, using your ice axe as a brake. Excellent, down I go; that is fun and we get to lose maybe 1000 feet of elevation rather quickly. We take a short break, and I notice that skin on both thumbs and a couple of fingers are peeling. My fingers feel a bit numb but also ache, I let our guides know – it’s likely frostbite. They wrap up the three fingers that look the worst (they are already thawed).

Now we’re waking in a snow field in Glacier Basin, I am with two guides and one other climber. (We are the two older people in the group) After maybe 30 minutes, we meet up with our lead guide, Greg. He is a little puzzled by my fingers; he hasn’t seen anything like this before.

We head down; I’m hurting a bit as we plod along the White River. There is a lot of snow here in early June (about 3 meters) and we need to be careful over snow bridges. I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I’m tired; but nothing like coming down from the summit on the previous day.
We make it in to White River campground and meet our van driver. I have a Coke and some Ibuprofen. Hands are hurting quite a bit. We head back to Ashford, then it’s back to Seattle and the ER for me.

I took three trips to Swedish Hospital – Edmonds for surgical debridement over about three weeks before my finger tips healed up from frostbite. In the end, 8 out of 10 fingers were affected. The good news is that after a month; back to normal (almost) with no lasting damage. (Ten years later, there was some nerve damage and my hands get cold easily but I have learned to live with this.)

Lessons Learned In the Storm
1. Bare hands are dumb, dumb, dumb. I should have used my glove liners (even though at the time I felt “OK”
2. I take blood pressure meds, and that made my periphery (hands and feet) more susceptible to cold. I had really good boots, so feet were not an issue. I need to be a lot more carful of my hands in the future.

Training Lessons Learned
I had quite a few weak areas when I started getting ready to climb Rainier (18 Months before the climb). In particular, I had a hard time carrying more than a 40 pound pack. Since I needed to be able to do 55 pounds on some serious elevation gain, I had work to do. In January, 2010 I was out of shape, weighed 86 kg. (190 lbs.) and let’s say it was not all muscle. My cardio capability was perhaps a little better than average due to hiking. My balance was quite poor. I just turned 52 years old when I started and I thought I’d be ready to go in 3 or 4 months. It took longer – and honestly, next time, I need to train even harder.

I learned a few lessons about training, here they are:
1. Working with a personal trainer was very good to do because they helped me work my weak areas – and found more weak spots to work! I never got injured working out with a trainer (or doing a workout they helped design). In particular, working with a trainer improved my strength, balance and flexibility.
2. Find a trainer that is a good match. My first trainer was a boxer, he challenged me – but it wasn’t the best match. The next trainer was closer, but with both these 20-something guys, it was mostly about strength. My current trainer, Laurie, is about my age and is just a better match. She got me working balanced and helped me solve some range of motion issues in my shoulders – both of these turned out to be important.
3. I found The Outdoor Athlete by Courtenay Schurman and Doug Schurman to be a very useful reference for me. In particular, it helped me get my cardio regime going. I ended up designing my own cardio program based on great guidance from this book.
4. Training outdoor and doing lots of early winter and spring slogs with a pack up some serious elevation gain was useful

Some Things I Need to Work On (I Hope to Repeat Rainier And Other Local Peaks)
1. Need to train for a longer duration. I did do one day where I went 10 miles and then 7 miles for a total of 17 miles in a day – but it wasn’t continuous. Really need to do a 12 hour workout, because that was our summit day, and the next day was maybe 7 hours.
(It’s not just physical – some of this is to train your mind as well.)
2. I did not get enough downhill training – and that is what really worked me over on Rainier. I had times where I hit the failure point on my quads coming down – that was not good.
3. Still need to work on balance and strength.

Well – sorry to be long winded, but if this is useful to one other older climber, I’ll be happy.

Postscript – Ten Years Later (2021)
I think about the summit of Rainier pretty often. I see the mountain many days and try to spend time every year hiking the trails. Will I ever go up again? Possibly. I am much stronger and fitter that I was ten years ago, I spend a lot of time in the mountains, hiking and running. Also, I think I can avoid some stupid mistakes. I will be up in the Sierras this summer walking the John Muir trail and thinking about what to do next.

PPS – Writing this especially for older climbers to read and learn a few lessons a bit more easily than I did.

Quantifying Hiking and Running Part 1

For the last eight years (2012-2019), I’ve been keeping tracking of my daily steps and miles using a pedometer.  I realize there are better gadgets to do this: Fitbits, watches, and phones that will do this job with more data and better graphics. I like to “roll my own” and I thought I would write up what I have been doing. I welcome constructive feedback; my goal is to maintain and improve my fitness as I age through data analysis.

I record my mileage data daily and analyze my results weekly, monthly and yearly.  Here is a link to my monthly and yearly mileage data in a Google Sheets file. In Table 1, I want to look at my mileage results on a yearly basis; I’ve also included my age. I can see that my mileage increased significantly after 2013, one reason for this is a greater emphasis on hiking and running. I can also see a drop in yearly mileage in 2016; this was due to some medical problems that required surgery, I had some months were I couldn’t exercise very much. In 2017 and 2018 I was training for ultra marathons and had increased my annual mileage. I find having yearly goals, such as races or long distance hikes, motivates me.

Table 1: Yearly Mileage
Year Miles Age
2019 3174 61
2018 3387 60
2017 3286 59
2016 2754 58
2015 3117 57
2014 3008 56
2013 2634 55
2012 2470 54

Here’s a summary of the mileage I’ve done month by month. Table 2 provides a monthly view of my mileage.

Table 2: Monthly Mileage
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
2019 301 241 289 242 238 250 273 269 276 280 274 242 3174
2018 318 271 315 252 304 315 272 338 229 301 240 232 3387
2017 256 296 298 259 286 295 288 283 214 291 281 240 3286
2016 187 188 193 215 206 225 238 267 267 305 269 194 2754
2015 245 258 260 244 266 281 247 306 255 250 237 269 3117
2014 224 211 239 206 212 253 282 302 265 267 275 273 3008
2013 210 190 208 229 243 238 256 220 221 209 199 211 2634
2012 147 201 184 192 242 238 245 190 200 213 202 214 2470
Mean 236 232 248 230 249 262 263 272 241 264 247 234 2951

For example, in the first three months of 2016 my mileage was lower than usual, these were months when I was recovering from surgery. Looking at the monthly mileage data, a high mileage month for me has been greater than 300 miles. For each month, I have computed the mean monthly mileage. My mileage tends to be lower in the shorter winter and early spring (December through April); the most likely cause is the dreary Pacific Northwest winters I manage to slog through each year. There are some exceptions such as 2018 when I was training for a 100 miler in the winter and 2019 when I spent time in South America during the winter.

Another way I like to view the monthly mileage data is a cumulative view. Table 3 shows the cumulative monthly data over the course of a year.

Table 3: Cumulative Monthly Mileage
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2019 301 542 831 1073 1311 1561 1833 2102 2378 2658 2932 3174
2018 318 589 903 1155 1459 1774 2047 2385 2614 2915 3155 3387
2017 256 553 850 1109 1395 1690 1978 2261 2474 2765 3047 3286
2016 187 375 569 783 989 1214 1452 1719 1986 2291 2560 2754
2015 245 502 762 1006 1272 1553 1800 2106 2362 2612 2849 3117
2014 224 435 674 880 1092 1345 1627 1929 2194 2460 2735 3008
2013 210 400 607 837 1079 1317 1573 1793 2014 2223 2422 2634
2012 147 348 532 724 966 1205 1450 1640 1840 2053 2256 2470

The sum of all the yearly mileage is 23,831 miles over 96 months or 248 miles per month. Now, how does this compare to my goal performance?

In 2014, I decided to set a goal of 3000 miles in a year. A yearly goal of 3000 miles works out to an average of 250 miles per month or 8.22 miles per day. Before that, I had goals but they were haphazard. Here are my monthly goals for each year (adjusted for leap years.

Table 4: Cumulative Goal Monthly Mileage
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2019 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2018 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2017 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2016 255 493 748 995 1249 1496 1751 2006 2252 2507 2754 3009
2015 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2014 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2013 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2012 255 493 748 995 1249 1496 1751 2006 2252 2507 2754 3009

Once I had my goal and actual monthly mileage, I can compute the difference. A negative number indicates that I am less than my goal. Figure 1 shows the cumulative difference from goal over eight years.

Figure 1 shows five trends that are significant to me.

  1. January, 2012 to May, 2014 there is a negative slope: every month my actual monthly mileage was generally less than my goal of 250 miles per month./li>
  2. June, 2014 to December, 2015 the slope is mostly positive; my actual miles were greater than my goal of 250 miles per month.
  3. January to July, 2016 the slope is again negative; this is the period of time when I was recovering from surgery.
  4. mid-2016 until the end of 2018 I have been (mostly) exceeding my goal of 250 miles per month; the slope is positive with a few wintertime plateaus.
  5. For 2019, the slope is still positive but not as steep, I haven’t been traing for ultra marathons; only a trail marathon and lots of hiking

Keeping track of my monthly mileage difference from goal provides me some useful month to month feedback. Of course, I am motivated by numerical metrics; not everyone is. I have discovered there is a quantified self community; that discovery came just a few years ago. I welcome feedback from everyone. It’s good to learn from others!

I find that this feedback, along with yearly specific hiking or running goals such as run a 100 mile race or hike the Appalachian Trail (a 2020 goal) keep me on track and motivated.

In part 2, I will add my daily and weekly hiking and running goals and tracking methods.

Bryce Canyon 100 – Fail forward

“Focus on how far you’ve come from the starting line;
not the distance to the finish.”

I ran the Bryce Canyon 100 race on 1-2 June 2018.   My reason for trying this are to overcome the physical and mental challenges of a 100 mile run… while enjoying the journey.  I’m a 60 year old runner; quite content to run slow and steady at the back of the pack. My goal for this race was to be DFL (Dead Flipping Last) but finish. This was my second attempt at covering 100 miles; I ended up running 81 miles.  I learned a lot about myself and running, here’s my story.

I’ve been doing trail running since 2016. I have previously done 50 km and 50 mile mountain runs along with a lot of hiking experience. My previous 100 mile shot had been to run 69 miles at the Badger Mountain Challenge in March, 2018. Coming into Bryce 100, I had learned a number of lessons from my Badger Mountain 100 experience:

  1.  Importance of electrolytes – used a 1/2 electrolyte, 1/2 water mixture
  2.  Dealing with blisters early – pre-taped my heels
  3. Keeping up with nutrition – especially after 50 miles
  4. Increase my vertical training – more mountain runs

For the Bryce Canyon race, at every aid station I used a 1/2 electrolyte, 1/2 water mixture to fill my 1.5 liter bladder in my pack. Also, I would eat a little solid food at each stop.  I should mention that I have achalasia; this disease makes it challenging for me to swallow.  I need to take extra time eating and drinking.

Since the Bryce 100 is at high altitude (7000 to 9500 feet) I knew that acclimation was important. In addition, I wanted to acclimate to the dry heat and cold nights. I spent five days prior to the race at the North Rim of the Grand canyon, camping and hiking at 8900 feet.  Since I had rolled an ankle about 3 weeks before the race on one of my mountain runs, I wanted to do a shakedown, so my friend Brenda and I hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim four days before the race. (Yes, I know that’s a strange way to taper….)

Race Day
I started the Bryce 100 with my friend Roger. We were up at 0345, had some coffee and a little food.start

The race started in the dark at 0500. It was nice and cool, Roger and I joined the back of the pack. We ran slow on the downhills and walked the uphill sections. We reached the Blubber Creek aid station, 12 miles out,  at mid-morning. Here we earned a bonus mile, since we both walked past the well-signed turn while sending out text messages to update our status. We realized our error after about 10 minutes. We backtracked to the correct turn and got back on the course.


We were running along the Paunsaugunt Plateau, with lots of beautiful geology to see. This was one of the most scenic runs I’d ever done. Roger and I went through several more aid stations together as we climbed higher in the heat of the day.

2018-06-01 11.52.33
Roger running south on Paunsaugunt Plateau

We reached the Pink Cliffs aid station at mile 29.5 (9400 feet) in the early afternoon. This was a great aid station: enthusiastic volunteers, good food, and a phenomenal view of southern Utah and northern Arizona. This was ourturnaround point on the course, now we would head north again.

2018-06-01 14.56.54
View from Pink Cliffs, I’m ready to tackle some more miles.

I did a rest and refuel. Roger showed up and was feeling dismal; he was being affected by a cold. We decided to split up at this point and I continued on the pleasant downhill sections.

As I ran and walked uphills, I had an interesting conversation with Paul, a fellow engineer from the Bay area. I felt pretty decent as I arrived at the Mile 39 aid station, although I did have to force myself to have some electrolytes and food.  I headed north in the late afternoon; along the way chatting with Marcelo from Florida. I reached the Blubber Creek aid station (mile 47) near dusk. I had a problem with my headlamp, couldn’t seem to get it to provide white light; only green or blue.  I switched to my backup headlamp and trudged on into the growing darkness.

The next few sections were lots of uphill slogging in the dark alternating with some roads. I did run into a couple of runners in this section who were stopped but said they were OK. The trail was very well-marked. I was behind schedule a bit, there was a cutoff at mile 53 (Grim Reaper) which I made with an hour to spare. On the road before the Blue Fly aid station, I ran and walked with Justin from North Carolina.  The last section up to the Blue Fly aid station felt brutal. I was surprised to pass a few people.

Reached the Blue Fly aid station (mile 57) at 1 AM. I changed my clothes here and refueled. I was ahead of the cutoff and feeling a bit down. It was very tempting to stop here BUT the aid station workers were very positive and encouraging.   I left Blue Fly moving slow and steady.

On the road, it was getting cold and I was glad I had some warm gloves. I felt pretty decent although I was occasionally having some double vision. This seems to happen to me after about 20 hours of exercise. I’d experienced it before. I also had a few mild hallucinations, for example, what I thought was an owl on the ground turned out to be a reflective marker. Around mile 61, a volunteer riding on an ATV checked on me. I told him I was OK and would just keep going. He had another runner on the back who must have dropped on the road.

Came into the mile 65 aid station at 4 AM. There were four volunteers here from the Gnarly Hydrate product. They fed me broth and electrolyte. I warmed up here and recharged from the positive energy of these aid station volunteers. When I was leaving, another runner came in; she was very cold and said she might drop. I decided it was time to leave and push on towards mile 73.  Started out on more roads, through a ranch road as the sun came up. I had to stop to deal with chafing and take my blood pressure medication. I still had a bit of double vision but kept moving. I crossed into a burned forest and was feeling pretty terrible about mile 71. At that point I came across Marcelo and we walked into the mile 73 aid station together. Marcelo gave me a good lift in spirits along with some nice encouragement from the aid station captain.

Departed about 0745 for the Thunder Mountain section of the race. It was beautiful, with lots of the characteristic geology of Bryce Canyon.  This was a gradual climb up followed by a long descent. At around mile 75, I had a bout of diarrhea and was feeling blah. I forced myself to drink electrolytes. At this point, some of the 50 mile runners were passing me; many had encouraging remarks. Also, began to hallucinate a bit more. I would see people that looking like they were working near the trail. When I got closer the people turned into tree stumps! Had one more bout of diarrhea and decided I better ask my friends to meet me at mile 80. Slowly slogged down beautiful Thunder Mountain, my thought was: “Just keep moving.”

My friend Linda hiked up to mile 79 and walked with me into the Mile 80 aid station. I was abit out of it, for example, forgot to use my sunscreen but luckily Linda caught that. I started seeing some other 100 milers on the trail heading back to the finish.  I hit the chair and thought about whether to continue.  Discussed my options with my friends Brenda, Linda, and Roger. I still had some “gas in the tank” but the bouts of diarrhea were dismal. I decided I was done.  Could I have gone on? Yes, I think I had at least 5 more miles left in me. Do I regret stopping? Nope, I learned much and have decided I’ll try another 100 next year with some better preparation.


After the run, had a nice shower at the Bryce Canyon general store, followed by some salad, coffee, and ice cream. After that, we went to the Best Western in Cedar City, Utah for a couple of days. The highlight was the hot tub and free breakfast… each day I had first and second breakfast. I recovered very well, I was able to go hike at Cedar Breaks with the gang the next day.

2018-06-03 11.31.10
Brenda, me, Linda and Roger at Cedar Breaks the day after the Bryce 100

  • What Went Well
    • Help form my friends
    • Acclimation to altitude, cold, and heat
    • Hill work to get ready
    • Pretape known blister areas
    • Use of electrolyte (Tailwind and Gnarly)
    • Ankle recovery – glad I did Rim to Rim Grand Canyon shakedown
    • Use of Avenza map software especially at night
    • Controlled most chafing
    • Sun protection (long sleeve shirt, hat with drape, gloves)
    • Attitude – mostly positive
    • Great aid stations (especially miles 29.5, 57, 65, and 73)
  • Things to Improve
    • Too slow, need to train to go a little faster
    • Sometimes attitude was down
    • Better head lamp
    • Diarrhea
    • Pacer plan

While we run a race like this alone; we don’t get to the starting line alone. First, my wife Mary Ellen put up with my crazy training for this race, never would have got there without her. My friend Roger had the inspiration to propose the Bryce 100; I was glad I said yes.  I did lots of training and adventures with Roger and Linda. Learned a lot about ultrarunning from my friend Jeff; he provided both basic knowledge and inspiration the last few years. My friend Mark provided me some valuable advice after the Badger 100, especially about nutrition and electrolytes. Brenda joined me in acclimating before the run and some post-race adventures; she was crazy enough to take off for 17 days in the Southwest.  Finally, my inspiring brother Gerard who said: “Focus on how far you’ve come from the starting line – not the distance to the finish.”










Railroad Grade hike 14 August 2018

Railroad Grade is a hike that skirts the lateral moraine of the Easton glacier of Mount Baker. This was my first hike with the SnoKing Happy Hikers group; my friend Brenda introduced me to this fun group.  The route starts with a walk in the woods and then a stream crossing on the trail to Park Butte. Luckily, the bridge was in place! After a few miles of walking, there’s an intersection; we turned upward on Railroad Grade. After about a mile of climbing, we took a side trail to the shaded High Camp area where I had nice lunch with Carol, Brenda and Ed.  We saw lots of nature: marmots, butterflies and lots of intriguing plants.

Route up Railroad Grade (purple) recorded by Gaia navigation app, plotted using CalTopo

Happy Hikers ascending Railroad Grade

Siesta view of Mount Baker from High Camp

After lunch and a siesta, Brenda and I continued up to the trail to the climbers camp at 5800 feet. We explored this alpine, rocky area. We scrambled up the rocks alongside the glacier; I eventually went up to about 6400 feet while Brenda decided to stay a bit lower. We saw lots of climbers, many of them practicing climbing skills on Easton glacier. After a few hours up high, we descended down to the high camp area for dinner. We then decided to walk out. We had a little navigation challenge after crossing the bridge but after a few minutes we spotted the trail into the woods and out to the car. This was a great first hike with the Happy Hikers,  a group I hope to do many more hikes with.

As I often do, I made a number of naturalist observationsiNat20180814