Mt. St. Helens – 5/20/17

Jesse & I were offered permits to hike up Mt. St. Helens with our friend, his wife, and their 2 former neighbors. We’d been planning it for a few months and just a few days before our permit day, our friend’s wife could no longer join us and their neighbors told us they had company visiting from Michigan. The downside was that they wouldn’t be joining us, either. The confusing upside was that they were sending their friends in their stead.

A few days of questionable planning ensued and we all decided to caravan up together at 3 AM so we could begin hiking before sunrise. We [mostly] stuck to the plan, though it was light enough at the trailhead that we didn’t need headlamps. We were just about 1/2 hour behind schedule.

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The sun coming up over the mountain was beautiful. We were hiking in snow right away, but it was warm. It was unclear what sort of conditions we’d have to trek through, so we all packed all the options: snowshoes, crampons, ice axes, poles, layers…the works. It was a much different experience than our summer ascent from last year.

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Our hike was slow going, as we sorted out the appropriate gear as we climbed. Some hikers we saw had nothing but YakTrax on, others began with crampons right away. Some were skinning up with skis on and we all knew what that meant – they would have an incredible ride back down! One particular skiing group brought their border collie along. My day is always improved with a dog sighting!

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We stopped for photos and lunch before the final push to the top and we were almost blown away by the wind. Once we got going again, I counted my steps in increments of 20 to pass the time. It seemed to take ages.

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Once we reached the false summit, I threw down my pack and smiled to the north at Rainier, who was there to greet us. Mt. Adams to the east only peeked out a few times that day, Mt. Hood just the tip, and no Jefferson this time. You can’t win ’em all.

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The rest of our group joined us and we relaxed on the top for about an hour, eating some, reapplying sunscreen, taking photos, and preparing for the descent. We wandered over to see the summit and after chatting with a few other groups, decided it wasn’t safe or wise to venture to it. No one had done it that day and it would take quite a bit more time. We just gazed from afar.

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Jesse & I brought garbage bags for glissading and made pseudo-diapers out of them. (Note: it does not work as well as one would think).

Of the 5 mile descent, we were able to do about 3 miles on our butts. The chutes were well worn and it was easy to find a track and take off. The problem was all the gear we brought! I had to figure out how to hold my body so my feet were off the ground, my snowshoes wouldn’t drag behind me, my ice axe was at the ready, and also that I wouldn’t impale myself. It took most of the afternoon to sort it out, but it was such great fun!

At some point we put our snowshoes back on and were back on our feet. We arrived at the car and made plans to stop at Burgerville just down the road a bit. We were all famished, sunburned, and sleepy.

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Never have I ever been so badly burned. The next morning, my nostrils had blistered and my lips were swollen from it. I went on a 7 mile run with a friend in Forest Park and she politely didn’t say a word!

Capitol Peak 50M – 4/29/17

“So don’t you sit upon the shoreline

And say you’re satisfied

Choose to chance the rapids

And dare to dance the tide”

–Garth Brooks, “The River”

Well, I did it. My first 50 mile race. I was never confident that I could run that far – not on the day I picked out which event it would be, not on the day I finally registered for it, and certainly not on race day. And yet, somehow, my legs and my lungs proved my brain wrong. Probably because my heart wanted it bad enough.

As we do, Jesse drove us up on Friday night to Capitol State Forest (near Olympia, WA) and we slept in the car. We arrived late to the camp site and backed in next to the river, trying to be careful not to shine our headlights at the others tents, while simultaneously trying not to run into a tree. We found a flat enough spot and rolled out the sleeping bag. I didn’t sleep a wink. I promise you, it wasn’t nerves. I was calm and legitimately tired, but I couldn’t warm myself up. I listened to the river rush by all night, clawing at Jesse’s warmth, wondering what the next day would bring.

The alarm went off at 5 AM, though I was already awake. It was dark and the car was foggy. I pulled out my baggie of questionable muffins (“these are easy enough to make and bring to the start line!”, I thought, and proceeded to fail miserably at making them). I ate two. Jesse awoke and I awkwardly pulled on my running clothes in the front seat. We drove the .02 miles to the start line and I immediately stood in the porta potty line. I’ve gotten better about that.

I set my drop bag down on the confusing staging area (“Where is aid station 3/5, from the map?” “Um, not sure.” **thinks to self, “Isn’t this your f**king race?**). It was too early for this. I set it down, knowing I wouldn’t need anything from it, as it only had my old trail shoes in case mine got soaked, a roll of Oreos, and an extra jacket because why not? Sigh.

Jesse joined me and we chatted to some other runners while I ate half a bagel. It was cold, but not miserable. The race director started his briefing and of the approximately 50 runners, he asked who the newbies were. Me + 2 others. I felt even more unprepared. I kissed my love for good luck and took off at a snail’s pace down the trail.

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There were some dogs, some old people, some young. The typical gamut. I ran with a young guy, Kyle, for maybe 20 minutes. He was training for the Bigfoot 200. Of course he was. I ran with another girl (Colleen) for a few miles; it was her first 50M as well. She wasn’t super keen to chat with me, but I appreciated running near someone. I stopped for a photo of the sunrise and she continued without me.

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Eventually we started up hill #1 (Capitol Peak) and a man joined me from behind (Glen); he had started late. He gave me some advice (“Jog the flats, even if it’s only 10 yards. In a 5k, it won’t matter, but over this distance, it could save 15 minutes or more! Like this, you should be running!”). I needed to run my own race, so I politely let him pass, but I logged his advice away. Power hiking up the hill, I caught another woman (Kim) and commented that I was jealous that she had sunglasses. We chatted about various summer events – she was training for her umpteenth 100 miler. Of course she was. She ran into her friend, who was in some sort of pain, and she stopped to chat. I carried on up the hill.

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Aid station #1 came quickly at 5.5 miles. I enjoyed a few Oreos, some watermelon, and some Coke. I thanked the volunteers and continued hiking up to the radio towers on hill #2 (Larch Mtn). The view of Rainier against the sunrise was breathtaking. This is why we do it.

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I enjoyed some glorious downhill by myself here, and then traversed on some incredible singletrack before joining a logging road and ascending Larch Mountain.

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Here Kim caught up to me and we power hiked together. At the top of Larch Mtn, we were instructed to take an army man, to prove our ascent. We paused to enjoy the view, then took off running on the way down. We both professed our love of downhill running and picked up the pace.

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Kim & I maintained a decent distance behind another group of women (ultra runner princess Jill, Christy, Colleen, and the girl in pink). We were chatting up and down the logging roads, matching our pace, and enjoying the run. We reached the same aid station again (#2, the half marathon mark), dumped our army men, and took off through the forest, joining the woman’s group. Every now and then we’d hear gun shots from people target shooting. It was a little unnerving and eventually Christy explained that was why the race shirts were fluoro yellow – an inside “joke” about gun safety in the forest. Makes sense!

We all stayed together, for the most part, leapfrogging as we all took our turn off trail for bladder relief, kindly passing as we found our place in the pack on the varying hills or descents, chatting about everything and nothing all at once. The miles flew by. I was so happy.

A tiny downhill into aid station #3 (mile 17-ish) was a nice intro to the hill to come. I had a few chips, an orange slice, and an Oreo for the road. I refilled my front pocket bottle with Coke and we were off again through the forest. I was just behind Christy and saw the photographer on the side of the trail, clicking away. With no one behind me, I asked if he was ready and gave him my best jump! Classic race shot, both mouth and hand filled with Oreo, and we thanked each other. I’ll cherish that photo and that memory. See it here.

I ended up power hiking with Christy and Jill, talking running, up and up the hill, while the water ran down. Jill stopped for a break and eventually it flattened out enough to pick up the pace. I was out in front, on flowy singletrack with lush, vibrant ferns all around. Pretty soon Colleen and Kim are behind as well. Jill eventually caught up and asked to pass (“I want to be going faster”) and I pulled to the side. No one else joined her, so I took the lead again. This would be my position for the rest of the run (and I heeded Glen’s advice about running the flats. Maybe it helped).

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This section was 13 miles out to the far aid station and back again (making a full marathon). It featured views, dense forest, logging roads, clear cut, and, finally, the lead runner. Obviously hours ahead of us, we were impressed. But he didn’t look to be in good shape. He was in the lead by a good margin, but did not appear to be having a very good run. We came upon the “unmanned water station”, and we kept on keepin’ on. I would stop to take photos, and my pack stopped behind me. I offered to give up the pacing position and was assured I was doing a fine job. Christy, Colleen, Kim, & I were in it together at this point.

We started passing groups of runners on their way back and finally one girl said “It’s almost 1:30, you better hurry!”. Oblivious to what she meant, we confusingly chatted about the vague notion of a cutoff. We reached aid station #4 (mile 30) at 1:32 PM. The volunteer said the cut off was 1:30. Whoops! He looked us all intently in the face and asked how we felt. I shrugged and replied “Good…hungry”. I ate 1/4 of a PB&J, an orange slice, a few chips, and, you guessed it, a few Oreos (Colleen took off with half a picnic in her arms). He let us go, but only if we “hustled back”. No problem.

We ran for maybe 15 minutes and saw pink shirt girl sprinting down the hill in front of us and then she was gone. “Didn’t we pass her ages ago going the other way?” We all agreed she was either horribly lost or out of her mind. We never caught her.

We came across a woman who was clearly in the event, walking (with poles) and we stopped to consult with her. We told her the last aid station was still a few miles away and that the cutoff had come and gone. About 15 minutes later, we ran into a volunteer, asking about her. “She went thataway!!” I all but said. I felt bad for her (and him).

Here was where Kim & I parted ways with Christy and Colleen. It was unspoken, we just suddenly realized that they were no longer with us. We didn’t want to linger and decided to continue on, but I felt conflicted about leaving them behind. I reminded myself to run my own race.

The rain started and I got cold. I put on my headband and we re-entered the forest. We came upon a young couple who we saw just before the last aid station and they were asking about the distance left. We urged them not to drop out, but it seemed inevitable. We carried on.

We reached aid station #5 (mile 43) and huddled under the tent. I pulled out my ultralight jacket to help preserve the heat, as well as my gloves. They were out of Coke, so I took a swig of Mountain Dew, something I’d never tried before during a run. Screw it. They also had tiny pulled pork sandwiches and since it actually sounded appealing, I had a few bites. It was going to take too long to eat, so I tossed the rest, grabbed a few chips, and we took off again.

Reckless Kelly’s “Eight More Miles” was playing in my head (“I can’t decide, if 8 more miles, is the top of the world, or the end of line…”). Kim & I talked about anything and everything. It was mostly downhill and we ran it in. I started to hallucinate a little through this section (“Is that a man with a cowboy hat on?”) and had to really focus. “Ready for lap #2?” she asked, insinuating it was a 100 miler. “There’s no way! I could not…” I replied. “That’s because you know it’s only 50,” she said. I know she’s right. Eventually your body will do what you ask it to. It’s just up to you to mentally make it.

At mile 45 my GPS watch beeped – low battery. Shrug. We passed over beautiful bridges, ran next to raging mini waterfalls, sloshed through the mud, and at one point, it looked identical to my beloved Forest Park. I was amazed.

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At mile 49, my GPS watch beeped again – ‘saving activity’. It died. I laughed. The cutoff for the entire event was 13 hours and we were toeing that line, but my watch just couldn’t hold on. Nearing the end, I said “Kim, did you see the beautiful mugs for the category winners? Maybe they’ll have an extra one I can have for being in last place”. She humored me and replied “Maybe!”

“Kim, I see the finish line! OMG!” We sprinted. Kind of. Jesse was waiting sweetly with a chair as I doubled over, elated, out of breath, and exhausted. I hugged Kim and we laughed at the ridiculousness of having just run 50 miles for fun. The race director said “We have a mug for you!” and I was thrilled. I didn’t earn it for last place, though, apparently, I won my age category! “The other person dropped, didn’t they?” I asked. “Hey. A win’s a win” she told me. I’ll take it. Funny, because I’m the most proud of that mug. I wanted it so badly.

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I ripped off my pack and sat down. A volunteer handed me a package of Oreos and a cup of soup. And a La Croix (I took it, but where’s the freaking Coke!?). After about 15 minutes, Christy came sprinting in. Colleen had to DNF, but Christy booked it to the finish line. I was so happy for her!

In all honesty, it was the best I ever felt during a run. I was never sad or on the verge of tears. I never once thought I wasn’t going to make it. My legs were fatigued, no doubt, but my heart was happy. I enjoyed every.single.second. That is no lie. Because let’s be honest. The race is a culmination of my entire running career – it just happened to be the last 50 miles of hundreds of hours on the trails. Countless training days. Endless podcasts and music streams. Good days and bad. A DNF was never an option: I didn’t come this far to only come this far.

There. The gritty details of my 50 miler. Almost 6 weeks have passed and I have more on my docket, but that event is so, so special to me.

My incredibly large blister has healed:

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My little toe turned black (not just the nail, the entire toe) and is now back to normal, though the nail did come off.

I’m back to running, climbing, hiking, and all my normal activities. I was in an incredible amount of pain the following day and spent the day napping and watching videos of the late Ueli Steck.

In the 12 hours and 45 minutes that I was running, my incredibly supportive husband ate breakfast, took a nap, ran the 25k and rocked it, ate lunch, and volunteered at the finish line until I was back. I adore him.

“That’s amazing!” is the standard response to my 50 mile achievement, followed by “What’s next?”. Stay tuned!

Easter in Canada (4/14-19/17)

It had been over a year since I journeyed to Ontario (and almost 6 months for Jesse), so we thought we’d take a few days this spring to head east to see the fam’. Luckily, tickets were reasonably priced over Easter weekend so we booked it!

We took the red eye from Portland to Minneapolis and while I’d ideally be sleeping through this, I was captivated by the sunrise (while true, it’s also a fact that it’s difficult to sleep when your 6’2″ husband is sprawled across your lap trying to catch his own zzzs), which was subtle, yet beautiful.

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We arrived mid-afternoon (EST, of course) and hung out in Michigan on the banks of Lake Superior, enjoying the cloud-free day and walking off our jet lag.

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No Easter weekend is complete without some egg-dyeing. Round 1 of simply dipping the eggs is on the top row, while round 2 with the more carefully crafted, hand-painted eggs are on the bottom row. As a small tribute to April the Giraffe and her new baby, Jesse painted an egg in her honor.

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One particularly cold and windy morning beckoned us for a run along the HUB Trail through Sault Ste Marie. We managed a very slow 14 miles around the city and I enjoyed running with Jesse, as we are seldom able anymore. I put most of the blame for my sluggishness on our trip to Gilbertson’s for some maple syrup-y goodness the day before, but it could have just been general travel fatigue. I guess we’ll never know!

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My favorite spot was in the Fort Creek Conservation Area. It was a quiet green space tucked away in the northern part of the city. There were signs warning us of bears and I was secretly hoping we’d see one but alas, no such luck. Only dogs and Moms with strollers.

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We had such a great visit with family and friends; loving and being loved is the best.

Spring Training

A story in pictures. Spring in the PNW is incredibly refreshing.

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Wildwood

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Finally, I can run in a t-shirt!

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Some aftermath of a wind storm in Forest Park

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Beautiful singletrack  – Wildwood

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An early trillium in Forest Park

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Marquam Trail = hill training

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Banks-Vernonia Trail

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An old trestle bridge

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Banks-Vernonia Trail

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The view from below


Hawthorne and Hood

Green Monster Duathlon – 3/4/17

Inaugural years for events can be hit or miss. As race directors work out the kinks in logistics, they can be the awesome event we’ve all been waiting for or it can fall flat and a few years have to go by before anyone is brave enough to return.

The Green Monster Duathlon was close to the former for it’s inaugural year in 2017. I happened upon this random event on Ultra Signup and immediately recruited Jesse and our good friend to join me. Jesse was keen to do the middle section, the mountain bike, and our friend took the final running leg, leaving me to start us off.

None of us had ever been to Green Mountain before – it’s west of Seattle, across the bay, just outside Bremerton, WA. We drove up the night before and stayed at a hotel, waking at 4:30 AM to make the rest of the drive to arrive by the suggested 6 AM time to ensure parking. We had the option to camp, but given that there was frost on the ground, I was incredibly grateful for the warm bed at the Hampton Inn (and the wi-fi, as we had a hilarious time sorting out the recommended mapping app).

When we arrived at Horse Camp, we were greeted by the race director and were told we could park just up the road from the starting area. This was ideal, as we could then hang out in the warm car until the sun came up. We had 2 hours to kill until the start time, so we meandered to the camp fire, socialized with the volunteers, and just generally relaxed, digesting our hurried and desperate McDonald’s breakfast.

At long last, the leg 1 runners were off. I was battling a horrible, awful cold and was running with what felt like only 25% of my lung capacity, coughing all the way. My leg was called “The Miserable Loop” – about 7.5 miles with 1,350 ft of climbing. I settled into the run, walking the hills when I couldn’t breathe, and making friends left and right.

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Everyone there, I gathered, were locals and most seemed to know the race director so it was interesting to hear about the history of the town and the trails (being some of the only out-of-towners, we were in somewhat of celebrity status up there). One girl I was running with was celebrating her 30th birthday that day and she was in the best of spirits. I enjoyed running with her all morning.

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At the aid station, we were told to continue up to the vista (might as well, we’d come this far, right?) and then rip a page from a book corresponding with our bib number, then head back to the starting line. The view was beautiful and I had a strange experience with a guy wanting to video my running shoes. I sure hoped he was part of the event!

My running buddy and I enjoyed the lovely downhill back to the starting line / transition point where Jesse was waiting on his bike to begin leg 2: “The Slaughterhouse Onslaught”. A quick kiss and he was off.

I was soaking wet and starting to shiver so I headed to the car to change my clothes. Afterward, I enjoyed fistfuls of Swedish Fish, oranges, and pretzels, washing it all down with my favorite trail running beverage: Coca Cola. Our friend and I sat by the camp fire…it was incredibly chilly on Green Mountain!

Eventually, Jesse came rolling in and our friend took off for leg 3: “The Fire Swamp”. Within minutes he was back, looking a little lost. This seemed common among the leg 3 runners; the course was marked in pink and orange ribbon…but so were the logging roads on the mountain! Not ideal.

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While our friend was out running, Jesse & I took in the spectacular burgers from the Grub Hut food cart that had rolled in. We, per usual, bogarted seats by the fire, devouring our well-earned lunch.

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After a little while, we headed down to the finish line to wait for our friend. It was raining and we stood under the tents, watching other team members finish and celebrate. Some badass athletes did the entire event solo and they were quite inspirational as well. One particular team, a couple also from Portland, got engaged right at the finish line! As he finished the last run, he knelt in the mud and proposed. Teary-eyed, she said yes! Unfortunately, I am in the background of nearly every photo of the moment (as seen on Facebook). Sorry, friends!

Our friend came in, looking strong. We returned to the firepit, food in hand, and hung out for the raffle. Many of the competitors left right after finishing, so the group had dwindled and our chances of winning were looking quite good!

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The raffle ended up being the best part of the race. It was laced with hilarious commentary and embarrassed multi-winners. Our friend won a massive jug of electrolyte powder (“add some water so it forms a paste and layer it on!”). The event had some inspiration from the Barkley Marathon, hence the books / tearing of the pages, and aptly named leg titles: “Misery” by Stephen King, “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman. I, ever so fittingly, won a book signed by the race director and volunteers. I was thrilled!

My winning ticket was the last to be drawn so with book in hand, we piled in the car and headed for home.

Whistler – 2/3/17 – 2/11-17

We had this trip planned for the better part of a year. Our dear friends invited us to their timeshare in Whistler for a week and we blocked out the vacation on our calendars and all but forgot about it.

Finally, 2017 arrived and it occurred to us that we probably need to buy ski passes, arrange for a dog-sitter, and generally start planning to be gone for 9 days. With two days eaten up for travel, that left 7 days to play. Our discounted ski lift options were either 1, 3, or 5-day passes and it was agony deciding which way to go. We settled on 3 days and it ended up being the perfect amount.

We left Friday mid-morning, after slipping and sliding our way through an ice-coated Portland [insert funny stories about gas stations, fragile credit cards, bank teller errors, and a transient person here]. We stopped in a very snowy Vancouver, BC for a beautiful dinner with our friend’s former colleague, and continued slowly to Whistler (after a quick stop at Canadian Tire to invest in some decent ice scrapers). It was a long travel day in wonderful winter weather.

Our Creekside condo was lovely, greeting us with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, and a lovely view of snow-covered trees. The elephant in the room was the bedroom scenario: who gets the bunk beds and/or twin beds? Since we were technically the guests, Jesse & I channeled our inner 5-year old selves and embraced the bunk beds. We were in Whistler, who can complain!?

Saturday was a settling in day, of sorts. We slept in, went to brunch, stocked up at the grocery store, picked up everyone’s respective ski rentals, and wandered up and down (and up and down) the snowy sidewalks of Whistler Village.

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Sunday we skied. It dumped an incredible amount of snow Saturday night and was a gloriously sunny day that morning. As expected, the line to the lift was 45 minutes long. It was cold, but the snow couldn’t have been more ideal and I couldn’t get enough of the views from the top. We were cutting through powder all day long.

img_324816508813_10210293493887168_9198204081782161551_n16425789_10210293493767165_4446675569588714636_nimg_3253img_3252We stopped for lunch near a random hut and sat in the snow to eat our sandwiches. Soon several fat little birds were swooping down on us, trying to steal our lunch! They would stalk us from atop our skis and then make their move. It was cute at first, but then they became brave and obnoxious, diving right at Jesse’s mouth!

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After our 6 hours of skiing, Jesse and I scrambled up Blackcomb, literally ran to catch the last P2P gondola, and raced down the mountain before the last run call. It was a stressful, yet hilarious endeavor, but we made our happy hour date. We met at the bar for German sausages, hot chocolate, and the end of the Super Bowl (complete with an upsetting come back from the Patriots… what the actual f***?).

Monday was day #2 for skiing. The snow was still pretty good, but it was an extremely gray, cloudy, windy, and cold day. Because we spent most of Sunday on the backside of Whistler Mountain, we traversed over to Blackcomb for some variety. The snow seemed a bit icier and I was frustrated with how cold I was. We ended up stopping at the lodge for lunch and buying hand and toe warmers. It was hard to enjoy the day when I couldn’t warm myself up at all. We called it quits about 30 minutes early and headed back to the condo where I bee-lined it for the hot tub.

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Tuesday was another sunny day and we slept in and slowly got around to making breakfast and then headed over to the Olympic Park for some snowshoeing. We ended up doing about 4 miles through the woods. It was much warmer and again, BC was too gorgeous for words. After several hours wandering through the woods, we headed back to Whistler Village because our friends had booked a bobsled ride! They went through an hour or so of training and then raced around the bobsled track for about 45 seconds. It was quite cool to watch! Later, in the hot tub, the relaxation of the evening was ruined by some drunken locals talking about Donald Trump, incompetent snow plow drivers, and seasonal employment. It was awkward and unpleasant but they eventually left and the world was good again.

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One of our friends had to head back to Portland on Wednesday morning, so we dug her car out of the parking lot and said our good-byes…at 6 AM. Then the 3 of us headed to the trailhead to begin our Garibaldi Lake trek. It had snowed a fair amount and was going to be decent weather day… until the late afternoon. So we were working against the weather AND daylight, but were really just out to enjoy the snow. The first mile or so was up the road, as it is not plowed in the winter. We decided we were following the tracks of a skier and/or snowboarder combo, but were the only ones on the mountain otherwise.

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The trail featured ~3,800 feet of climbing in a few short miles and about 650,000 switchbacks. We crossed a frozen lake, found a few incredible viewpoints, and enjoyed being in the Canadian Wilderness for the day. Besides my lengthy argument with a squirrel, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail until we were on our return trip. Eventually, we had to make the call to turn back before reaching our destination. We had no intention of sleeping on the mountain and the storm was rolling in. We headed back down, making up time on the descent and finishing just before dark. It was an epic day and I look forward to returning to complete the adventure in finding Garibaldi Lake.

img_3311img_3314IMG_3214My little toes were trashed from 14 miles in my snow boots. I suppressed a scream as the hot shower water rushed over my raw little piggies. Soon after that, I happily crawled into bed and fell asleep immediately. It had been a long day.

The plan all along was: on Thursday we rest. And indeed we did. It was a PJs-all-day type of day. It was cold and snowing all day long. The fireplace was on, the 3 of us nestled in, plugged into our various electronic devices, wrapped in blankets, and truly relaxing. That evening, we dug out the car and Jesse & I wandered to Whistler Village for a bank run (because who doesn’t need a foreign bank account in this political climate?) and, randomly, a haircut… and also a Whistler Blackcomb Hydroflask. Now there’s an adventure story.

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Friday was day #3 of skiing and we were all in pretty rough shape. Jesse was sick and had black and swollen toes, our friend had leg/foot cramps, and yet again, I couldn’t warm up my body enough to enjoy the day. We begrudgingly spent a few hours on the slopes and just after lunch, we all gave in to the struggle. We made our way back to Creekside, enduring the icy moguls of Lower Franz’s. We spent the afternoon at the condo, slowly packing up the place and trying to eat all of our remaining food (which we gave up on and went out for tacos anyway, after several frustrating trips to the post office waiting on some important mail).

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On Saturday, we made the drive home. It was a spectacular week and almost makes me want to invest in a timeshare of our own.

Tom Dick & Harry Mountain – 1/7/17

More fun in the snow. More adventures with friends. More crazy weather. One particularly questionable day, we were invited on a snowshoe adventure with a friend and a others up Tom Dick & Harry Mountain. It’s an easy enough trail and we opted to bring RileyDog with us this time, too.

In the winter, the main trailhead is blocked by the massive snowbank the plows create along the highway, so hikers must park at the ski hill and walk along the road nearly a mile. Riley insisted on relieving himself several times before we even began the roadside walk, so several trips back to the car were in order, but finally, we could take off.

We strapped on our snowshoes at the trailhead and entered the woods. The trail features a couple of wooden bridges and then climbs up the mountain with plenty of switchbacks. We reached Mirror Lake in no time and decided to keep heading up to the summit.

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After traversing an exposed part of the mountain through the wind and blinding snow, Jesse and two others decided to trudge on ahead to the summit, while I and another turned back toward the lake, knowing they wouldn’t make it too much farther anyway. Here’s where the adventure began: my group got lost. With the wind and snow, our tracks were quickly covered, even in the forest. We knew where the lake was, and where the intersection of the loop trail was, but we didn’t know where exactly we were. So we went left. Then went back and went right. Then went back and went down the hill. Then turned around and went straight. And finally, the literal sign we had been searching for! Also, a few run-ins with other dogs and a lost bootie (Riley’s, not mine) added to the stress of the day.

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We stood at the intersection, chatting away, after 20 minutes or so, the others showed up. We headed back down the hill, working up the courage to trudge up the highway to the car; the thought of pizza motivating our quick descent.

Poor RileyDog struggled on the last mile. His poor paws (well, 3 of the 4) became ice packed and he was desperate to lie down on the trail to gnaw at them. It took some coaxing to finish the trek and once he was in the car, he was neither seen nor heard from again. There’s “dog park” tired and then there’s “hiking” tired. Dogs are on their best behavior after the latter.

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I hope to return to this trail in the summer for the lake views and a proper summit adventure. Until then, I’ll enjoy this frosty selfie:

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Portland – A Winter Wonderland

“As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat,
this wind is blowing my mind.”

A little Michael Jackson to kick off this post. While MJ wasn’t actually talking about the weather in this song, it seemed a fitting quote for the way this Portland winter has been treating us.

We had a few days of incredible wind (including tonight)! We had several consecutive days of ice storms and freezing rain. And the snow…how it was so lovely, so calming, and so MUCH! Snowing ~13″ overnight was a first for so many people here. And it stayed for a solid week.

Now, as a girl who grew up in Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Idaho, I’ve seen my fair share of snow. When I was super little, my mom had to drive my sister to school on a snowmobile. A day off from school was rare; a day off of work due to snow was unheard of. A late start maybe. But seriously, kids in school got more days off for harvest and hunting season than they did for bad weather. In Portland, the city is halted. Cars are abandoned on the highways. Signs are lit up across the roadways requiring chains or traction tires. Facebook photos feature nothing but friends in PJs with cups of tea, kids on sleds, and neighborhood snowmen/women.

Me? I went about business as usual, taking advantage of the sunny days. One day I did 9 snowy miles on Mt. Tabor, post-holing all the way. Another was spent navigating icy trails in Forest Park. Lots of days included walking Riley Dog in my snow boots. And yes, sometimes even *gasp* driving to work (after I unearthed my car). I had a lot of days off, but I made the most of them…and have truly enjoyed having a proper winter in this silly city.

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December 2016

December was filled with all wonderful things. Jesse made friends with urban farm animals, I did some volunteer leaf raking on our favorite trail, and we got some skiing in.


Portland had some strange weather – wind storms, ice storms, and snowy days. I ran 30 miles one Sunday and caught the aftermath.

16 miles of downed trees makes the miles seem long

Riley dog, enjoying the icy trail in Forest Park

For Christmas, we packed up for several days and journeyed down to Sunriver, OR. We rented a house with my parents, my sister & brother-in-law, and my two nieces (and a few dogs, too) for even more fun in the snow.

Kylee at the top of the lift!

Ms. Sheridan’s first time on skis

Snowshoe adventure on Lava Butte

Sleigh ride in Sunriver, OR

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Ice skating in Sunriver

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Walkin’ in a winter wonderland

Oh, and just to be thorough in this catch-up post, here’s a photo of our Thanksgiving dinner. My favorite item: stuffing.