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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Quick visit to Alaska

I'm up in Alaska for 4 fun filled days, hanging out with the Paulson family. Alaska is beautiful and rugged with the beautiful mountains and lakes. Nate, Sarah, Elli (turned 1 on Monday) and I have been running, coached XC practice for K-6, went to the zoo, spent time at their cabin on lake Mud... lots of fun. Nate and Sarah popped right out of the water on one ski; I on the other hand took in a face full of water multiple times trying to get up on two. Sarah said I did get on top of the water once, if so it was only for an instant.
Elli has got to be one of the happiest and busiest babies I've met, I'll post some pictures once I return home and can download.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where’s Waldo 100 km: new women’s record!

Roughly one and a half weeks off the Colorado Trail I made my way out for the Where’s Waldo 100km Trail run held at the Willamette Ski Resort about 70 miles southeast of Eugene, OR. I had thought about running the race earlier in the year, and after running with race director Craig Thornley at Miwok I was convinced to work it into my fall schedule. It truly is a gem of a race, a beautiful single track course including sections on the Pacific Crest Trail. Three spectacular steady climbs to break up the windy trail route; it is a lollipop course that takes you by 6 alpine lakes. Craig and co-RD Curt Ringstad throw in some fun incentives to keep things interesting, the first person to the top of Fuji Mountain (mile 16) wins the ‘find Waldo’ award and the person to fully submerge in the most alpine lakes wins the wet Waldo award. The aid stations have the all the comforts and support a runner could ask for, with plenty of supplies and most importantly friendly, enthusiast faces.


Charlton Lake

Feeling a little out of tune (not having raced since Miwok on May 6) I toed the line with the field at 5am on Saturday morning (August 19) wondering how my recent trek on the CT would play into today’s run. Climbing out of the ski resort on steady smooth trail in the dark with a crescent moon amongst the runners’ chatter I couldn’t imagine anywhere I’d rather be. Fortunately that feeling continued for most of the day. The trail was fun and inspiring; there is nothing like running beautiful trail and getting to do it all day long. Matt crewed me at the 22.5 mile mark and paced me to the finish from Charlton Lake, roughly the half-way point. In his persistent, quiet but motivating demeanor we moved through the second half and passed the three men that had come through Charlton Lake ahead of me.

At the final aid station an angel took a baby wipe to my salty face and sent me on my way. It’s the little things that make a runners day. Seven rolling miles to the finish; I followed Matt’s lead and noticed that the only footprints ahead of me were his. My best route finding technique is to watch for familiar tread patterns on the trail; having only his ahead was something new to me.

We finally popped out on the long straight away with the finish line banner and a small crowd of people waiting at the end. I plopped down in the gravel just past the finish line smiling. I got to pick from a rainbow of Where’s Waldo embroidered hats as I took in the finish line scene. A huge bbq spread was in full swing and massage therapist Kelly offered me and my dirty legs a massage. They know how to treat runners at Waldo! So the end result, A overall girl winner, a new women’s course record at 11:18 and more importantly a GREAT day on the trails.

Krissy accepts her trophy

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Colorado Trail: Final thoughts & pictures (LONG)

Looking back through the pictures I captured with my camera brings back some great moments on the trail. Unfortunately cameras are only able to capture a piece of the views and the emotions tied to experiencing these beautiful places. Andy also captured some great shots; you can see those on his website.
From Salida to Junction Trailhead in Durango we definitely went through some of the most beautiful sections of Colorado that I have seen. Wandering around the San Juan Mountains is always magical and this time the experience was also challenging due to the weather.

Day 11
Day 11, the day Andy had been talking up the entire trip, the section that everyone I met on the trail and in town absolutely raved about was the day we were faced with system rain from about 10am till we made camp that night. Fortunately we were able to sneak in San Louis a 14er whose summit was just 1 ¼ miles off the trail. On the way down the hail came and we were in and out of cold rain all day. Mid-day while passing through one of the Mineral Creek Basins Andy made the call to set up shelter. It was pouring down rain and probably about 40 degrees, too cold to keep moving especially considering the terrain we still faced. About an hour later, after a nice nap, the rain had stopped but the clouds were still hanging amongst the mountains. A couple climbs later the rain started up again, I got a bloody nose and both of us lost most of the dexterity in our fingers from the cold wet gloves that covered our hands. We put on every piece of clothing and kept moving. When we finally moved onto Snow Mesa, a 3+ mile, flat expanse of land at roughly 11k feet that reminded me of the Quiditch tournament in a Harry Potter movie, the sun peaked out and we had roughly 10 minutes of evening light and the tiniest bit of warmth spread across my face. We continued the flat trek to the edge where we snapped a picture and then dropped down the trail and found a semi flat campsite. A long, challenging day left us both a bit exhausted and hungry. (this is the last day I got any pictures- battery died)

Day 13
Day 13 was our last town stop till we arrived in Durango. It was sunny when we popped up onto the highway so we laid out our gear for 10 minutes to finally dry things out. We arrived in Silverton after hitching a ride from Molas Pass, called Emily and Ernst and walked down to the Runner’s Roost. In a short 3 hours these two had us showered, clothes washed, fed, packs restocked and back on the trail. Ernst made a fabulous pasta with veggies and tofu which Andy and I devoured. As we got ready to leave I suggested a coffee stop in town, instead Emily made me the best soy mocha; I savored every drop. We were back on the trail just after 3 dancing and laughing, only 74 miles to go and what was the weather doing – pouring once again. We had to laugh at the irony of leaving the comfort and company of Emily & Ernst for the muddy, puddle jumping. Fortunately the time and miles passed quickly and we set up camp just below the ridge of the Continental Divide.

Day 14
The next day, Day 14, we were up and hiked the remaining few miles to the ridge just in time for a great sunrise. The second to last day, we needed to put in a long 38 miles to get across Indian Ridge and reach Kennebec Pass, our last campsite for the trip. The day was long and we somehow found a few more topics of conversation to help us cover the miles and time between snacks. Both on our last few bars and hungry the two hours between snacks were tough, we were hopeful for some trail magic, but it never found us. The best part of the day was coming up on Indian Ridge in the sun. We were probably a couple of weeks late for the flowers, but the remnants were pretty. In these last few miles we experienced all of the weather we’d been through the last 2 weeks. It started sunny, then three different storms rolled over the ridge. At one point I couldn’t see Andy for all of the fog. The Thunder rolled through and finally the rain came down. Just before we dropped off the ridge we came across a thru-hiking couple and a bit of evening light. We snapped pictures of each other in the flowers and moved on to set up camp.

The Last Day
The next morning, excited to be finishing the trail we broke camp easily and stopped once to strip the extra sleeping clothes after it warmed up. We pretty much motored the rest of the way and probably ran about 10 of the last 21 miles, our packs were super light and we were motivated by the lack of food. In the last mile of the day Andy encouraged me on, hooting and hollering. It was just the two of us running that last stretch, not moving fast, just jogging along laughing and … DOH! Down I went, scrapping my knee, shoulder and elbow and jamming my right ring finger. Andy called me a dope and I told him to pick me up. We ran around the corner and the Junction Creek Trailhead awaited our arrival. We asked a couple of mountain bikers to take our picture and we unlaced our shoes for the last time. 483 miles under our own power, visions of the last couple of days flashed through my mind and I let it all hit as we figured out what was next.
We caught a ride into town from a couple that had also just come off hiking a couple of segments. Straight to the grocery store for a great feed, then hit the payphones to make the calls – We’d finished! I left a message for Dale, our host in Durango. I called the parents, sister, Matt; Andy called Mom and Beth his friend in Durango.
We decided to walk town while we waited to call Dale again, but on our trek that way Dale came around the corner, he’d been looking for us. Back to his place for showers and laundry; it was great to share stories with Dale. Dale and three friends were the first to connect the trail, running Durango to Denver arriving just in time for the Trail dedication ceremony. I called Ernst as he was working in Durango that day (international master hairdresser) to invite him to dinner and our margarita celebration. He told me to get down to the salon; he had an appointment for me. What a treat to be pampered after 2 weeks on the trail! Ernst cut and colored my hair before we met the rest of the crew for dinner. Dale and his wife MaryBeth, Emily, Ernst and Bernard (their 3 month old), John Pearch and James Varner (who were in town for the Epic 50k) all joined us for or mini celebration, some spicy Mexican food and tasty margaritas. After dinner we walked through town and found the Baskins Robbins, buy one sundae get the second free. Andy and I each got a 3 scoop sundae, and then Andy proceeded to talk the next single girl that walked in to buy a 2 scoop sundae so he could have another (he split the cost with her).

Durango to Denver
The next morning Dale dropped us at the Greyhound station after a stop for hot chocolate and breakfast snacks. 12 long hours later we arrived in Denver. The trip was complete and we were again in search of food.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Summer Outdoor Retailer recap

The show was buzzing as usual and bigger than ever before. The Salt Palace completed an additional wing and the rows of booths seemed to go on forever. There were a bunch of new vendors and faces, but also the plenty of the familiar ones. It was such a comforting and pleasant feeling at the show for me this time around; after having been there for the last 5 years with Montrail I wondered how things relationships would feel and how the show would go without this affiliation. It was so nice to have people truly interested and concerned with where I’ve landed (even though I have yet to do so) and to receive a number of job offers with some great companies. Lots of energy humming around in that place.
Roch, Matt and I were able to get out for a couple of beautiful runs over the course of the weekend. Saturday night we did the Desolation Lake Loop with Karl Meltzer and Scott Jurek; a little over 2 hours with some nice climbing, great views of Park City and the best part, good company. We took Sunday off, but this morning snuck up Grandeur Peak and had breakfast before shipping Roch off to work. Grandeur Peak sits right behind Roch’s house; we ran this peak at the winter show (snowy, post holing, cold) so it was fun to see the trail in the warm morning sun. On top (about 8000 ft) you look out over the Salt Lake City sprawl and can see out to Antelope Island.
Tomorrow we are planning a preview of the Soldier Hollow Trail system. Matt is gearing up for the 24 hours of Soilder Hollow Mountain Bike Race and will ride a couple of loops to become familiar with the terrain and course. I might run a bit, but plan on taking it easier the next couple of days. Saturday August 19 is the Where’s Waldo 100km Trail race just outside of Eugene, Oregon which I am looking forward to running.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Done! Finished 8/8 just before noon

It is late (2am on 8/10), but I wanted to post a quick note to share that Andrew Skurka and I finished the Colorado Trail in roughly 14 ½ days. The last half of the trail proved gorgeous as promised but also challenging due to weather, which was unexpected. Very different from the blue skies and puffy white clouds you see surrounding the impressive Colorado peaks in the calendars; Andrew and I witnessed numerous rain storms, impressive thunderheads and lightening flashes, crazy rolling fog and a grey that reminded me of home (Seattle).

I will post more within the next couple of days and hope to upload some pictures as well, but for now will just say that I am thankful for the trail angels that helped us along the way, Jim and Amy in Breckenridge, Jon and Rickie in Salida, Ernst and Emily in Silverton and Dale and MaryBeth in Durango. Each visit was a special treat and extra incentive to move down the trail, I thoroughly enjoyed the time with these trail friends. I am thankful for the time spent with a new friend and Andy’s energy put into the trip and teaching me his art of light weight backpacking. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be out there exploring not only the beauty of this state, but also the personal trials of this year. Best said being in the backcountry was a good place to finally realize everything that has happened in the last eight months and to have the free head space to think about and accept the choices and decisions. And I am thankful for the strength and will of this body that allows me to take on these adventures; my health is something I do not take for granted.

We arrived in Denver via (slow) Greyhound and after sorting gear, a short run and a stop at the local Safeway I headed back to my sister and brother-in-laws with a bag full of groceries (me and grocery stores are dangerous these days) to make a late dinner and share a few trail stories. I’m up late sifting through emails and getting ready to leave for Salt Lake City in the morning. The Outdoor Retailer Show is this weekend and I’m looking forward to visiting friends and running in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains.

More on the CT later, for now sweet dreams.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Part of hiking a long trail includes a celebration at the halfway point called the half gallon challenge. Such that Salida is our closest town to the halfway point Andy and I just polished off 4 pints of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. (Magic Brownies, Phish Food, Oatmeal Cookie Crunch, Chubby Hubby) We tackled this challenge as a team rather than individually... thankfully (which would have meant 4 pints each- which he has done not once but twice) .

Day 8 on the trail

The trail has been quite an experience. There are times each day where I am elated and times when I wonder why I signed up for this thing. Mostly I come back to how wonderful of an experience this is and how lucky I am to be hiking day in and day out. I like the simplicity of living out of my backpack, doing the basics to keep moving forward and taking in the amazing views that we come upon while covering the miles (average 31 per day). Andy and I are getting along great, having a lot of fun getting to know one another but also spending time hiking alone. We seem to have found a good system for keeping together but having solitude at times and company at others. His system for going light definitely makes the hike more enjoyable. It is amazing really how little we need. Not having done anything like this before I really don't know any better, but seeing the other "traditional" hikers on the trail I am quickly learning that what Andy does is new to the scene. People ask all kinds of questions once they realize that we are thru-hiking as opposed to just day hiking, and he loves giving his lightweight clinics.
Some highlights from the last couple of days include all of Day 4 from Breckenridge to Camp Hale... we climbed over the Ten Mile range down into Copper and then back up above treeline for the remainder of the day. I couldn't help but thinking "I wish I could plug people into my brain to be able to see the beauty that I am seeing and feel how I feel when I see it." Just spectacular. Day 5 was a rough one, the terrain was so-so compared to the day before, my feet hurt and my energies were very low; I was disappointed that my body wasn't moving how I thought it should. It was also difficult accepting that 12 miles takes 4 hours instead of 2 (like I am used to with running). Now on day 8 I think this was all part of getting into shape and the routine of hiking 12 hours a day. The last 3 days have been much better, I'm understanding what it is to be out there covering the miles, dealing with the increased appetite and really getting into the amazing views and places that we are experiencing. On day 6 (Sunday) we made a stop in Twin Lakes for a hearty brunch followed by 2 desserts, I got to talk to Matt and I knew this section of trail from running the Leadville 100 last year. After town we stopped for a swim in the Twin Lakes Resevoir, then climbed out of town and slept high. Yesterday we started the day with a 2500 ft climb to the ridge of Mt Yale, a beautiful peak in the Collegiate Peaks range... a bunch of massive 14'ers that continue to impress. Then down into Princeton with a stop at the Country Store near the hot springs. The two of us raided the store and consumed calories that amazed me. (me = 2 yogurts and a bag of trail mix-over 1000 calories just in the trail mix- and a candy bar, Andy = two burritos, twinkies, cookies, trail mix, chocolate milk, candy bar). This morning we covered 14 easy miles (saw wild turkeys along the way and learned about the right kind of mushrooms from a man out hunting) into Salida where we were met by John MacManus about a mile from the highway crossing. We hiked down and arrived in Salida to a furnished apartment two doors down from where they are living while they build a new home just outside of town. After our nights in the shelter on dirt and sleeping pads this is quite a treat. We are on our way to dinner now at the local brewery. From the hills to the Trail Angels all of our experiences have been unique and special.
end note: We plan to stop through Silverton on Sunday and finish the trail on Tuesday.