The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Seattle. I run to work in the mornings, through small neighborhoods and the winding trails of Ravenna Park. The wooded trails are followed with the grit of the university district and eleven floors of stairs up to my office. In moments of weakness I will take the elevator, only to curse at myself as it stops at every successive floor. Packed together in uneasy silence, we collectively work out the human puzzle of letting the person in the back out. I can do without that puzzle.
|Yakima Skyline Rim 50k,
And so I escape and hit the stairs. But I dream of mountain trails instead of the monotonous risers with red carpet and stale air.
All of this means that I am truly looking forward to running the Yakima 50k this Sunday. It is one of the few Rainshadow Runs that I have not done and it is an obscene amount of elevation gain. Truth is, I don’t even really want to know the exact number. But all apparently worth it, the race website describes it so: With each climb you’re rewarded with ever expanding views of the Columbia Highlands, the Yakima River Canyon and the Cascade Mountains including Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and the Stuart Range. James had me with ‘highlands’.
Last month was a fantastic series of runs including relatively fast runs at Chuckanut 50k followed by a bike ride around Lake Washington (photo album). A couple weeks later we did the Gorges Waterfall 50k followed by some great hang time in Portlandia and more running in the Columbia Gorge (photo album). Nichole also has a nice blog post about the Waterfall run.
I ran hard at both 50ks, a change of pace as I rarely push myself to go fast. Being in the Columbia Gorge again was a bit surreal; it was almost exactly a year since I ran through the Gorge, heading east on my cross country journey.
|Getting air at Chuckanut 50k
Photo courtesy Glenn Tachyama
|The Waterfall 50k had too many to count!
Nichole even stopped to take a picture.
|Matt Palilla – hitting his stride.|
|Good times in Portlandia with friends.
Photo courtesy of www.meganmariemyers.com
I’m still run commuting to the office most days. If I don’t, I’m biking it with panniers and moving groceries or other things too big to run with. Passing the stalled traffic and people jammed onto buses I can only grin and fight feeling smug. In between, I am trying to get the word out about our Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal, plan a research study to do in conjunction with the trek, teach a new grad class, spend time with friends and family (Mom and Rafael drove across country to Seattle!), train/plan for a Kilimanjaro climb and circumnavigation in a couple months, and plan a bunch of runs in the Pacific Northwest over the summer (mostly volcano circumnavigations – they are all the rage you know) before heading to Nepal in the fall for the trek and more fun stuff. And our goal is still to get out of town almost every weekend for big runs. So, yeah..my plate is full. Stay tuned.
Best of all things in between – I am vicariously adventuring through others. John Fiddler is in the tail end of his kayak down the Baja Peninsula having paddled alongside hundreds of whales; and this is just the beginning of a much larger journey when Kathleen joins him. He has even managed to score some occasional internet access, enough to post some good adventure reading: http://knuckleheadadventuretours.blogspot.com and on facebook.
|Paddling the Sea of Cortez – John’s latest satellite beacons.|
A friend of John and Kathleen’s, Chad Kellog is on the south side of Everest acclimatizing before a second speed attempt. I followed his attempt last year as well after reading about him in this NYT article and video ‘Summits at Speed’ which has an incredible video. Bear in mind the video is a bit dated, he is back for his second speed attempt this year. His dispatches are well written, and the real time tracking with google earth fly throughs is provided by explorers web which does a great job tracking crazy expeditions land, sea, space, you name it. (The owners are great people/characters in teh Everest book ‘High Crimes’ by the way). Also in that video with Chad is the Swiss machine, Ueli Steck who will be going for a speed attempt via a new route on the south face with his partner Simone Mor . You can also find their dispatches here. Do me a favor and watch this video below of his speed record on the Eiger, he is free soloing – no ropes, no protection. It gives me vertigo. At least skip to the 2:30 mark!
And I don’t even want to get into Kilian Jornet who has been dropping jaws in the mountain running (and skiing) community for some time. This recent NYT article ‘Creating the All Terrain Human‘ is a good read. What he has done is simply amazing.
In slightly more sane news, my friend Georgina is back for her second attempt on Everest, raising money for women in the Congo. I met her at base camp after she had a close call at the balcony in 2011. Alan Arnette has a great interview with her, please consider supporting her cause and following her adventure on a great blog: http://georginamiranda.blogspot.com/
|Go Georgina Go!|
And Damai is back on the mountain going for his 8th summit. I wish all of them the best! In other news, it was very fun to follow Shawn McTaggart who became the first woman to complete the 1000 mile Iditarod solo and on foot pulling a sled for 30 days, 18 hours. Holy shit! She has already submitted her application for 2014. This is a great article about her, I’m inspired. It might be time to start shopping for a sled.
I think that is enough adventure for one night! Thanks to everyone for following along. I’d love to hear stories about the human spirit and quest for new horizons. Share if you can. Cheers and safe journeys. Seth.