Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taper Time...

A scant 9 days until the Wild Idaho 50.  Taper is on (as of yesterday), but it is so hard to resist getting up in the mountains in this prime season.  Don't the taper gods understand how long the McCall winter is and how essential it is to scratch the itch before the snows fall?  Skinning is one thing, but cruising some alpine singletrack to a high summit is where it's at!
I did some recon for the race yesterday, running from the Skunk Creek Saddle to East Mountain Lookout and back.  14.05 miles, 2:25, 3350' gain. 
Felt stiff and tired from heaps of mountain running and woodcutting that has occupied my days of late. Made a point to walk many of the hills to see what it would do to my pace and heart rate, breathing, etc.

Typical ATV trail on East Mt, generally fast with some "moondust" here and there.  Lots of short and steep ups and downs.

3 miles in, I spied this spire to the east.  Looks like some nice climbable cracks on there.

Nice view to the east from East Mountain Lookout.  A few ridges over begins the Frank Church WIldeerness.  You can't see in the picture, but I could see some high, snowy summits beyond that farthest visible ridge, that I believed to be in the Sawtooths?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Goose Creek Falls Hill Intervals

A simple course accomplished by thousands of tourists each year.  A little spice is added by doing a few all-out 1 mile hill repeats sandwiched between the fairly casual miles to and fro.  Trying to build a little power for my upcoming 50+ mile monster slated for August 6th:

Calling them "falls" is a little generous, here is some stock footage from an autumn hike:

The profile.  Plenty of vert packed into 9 miles:
Nutrition for post interval session recovery is critical. One leading strategy.
My plan is similar: Beer....Brat....Beer'n Brat. 

A master of glycogen reloading at work. 
With swollen stomach, young Robie recharges for his evening mischief.   It's fun doin' hoodrat stuff.

I recharge for a few hours of splitting wood, once the evening cool sets in.  Like Alex Lowe said, "Everything is training."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Granite Mountain Lookout Run (8479')

First trip of the year into the high-country north of Goose Lake.  Granite fit the bill for today perfectly: short, scenic, steep and with a summit.   I will come back to this one many times as a time-trial for rugged and rocky trail. 

The North Face of Granite.  Still wearing plenty of white.  The climb takes place mostly on the East Ridge and only hits patches of snow near the corniced ridgeline.  This gorgeous meadow is near the trailhead and has an old cabin and corral.

My new Transylvanian friends, Todd and Andy.  Americans, based in Romania, these globe-trotters gobble up mountain terrain.  They might be the fastest hikers I've ever seen.  Very cool to meet authentic mountain people.  After my taking a wrong turn lower on the mountain, they beat me to the summit by good margin. 

The corniced summit ridge.  Some of these waves overhang 10 feet or more.  On the way down, I encountered 2 hikers taking a picture while standing past the breakline of the cornice.  Scary.  The fire Lookout can be seen ahead.

Old Glory welcomed me to one of the coolest Lookouts I have ever visited.  The 360 degree view reminded me why I live in Idaho.  I chatted with Caretaker Les for 45 minutes spotting landmarks and other mountain man kinda stuff.  A cool breeze blew and I had to get on my way.  By the way, The Needles, California is still the best lookout. 

I did some trail work on the way down, clarifying when to turn uphill with cairns and logs. It took me 3 times to get it right on the way up and a few extra miles of running, but the correct path is obvious now.  Next time I will visit the nearby Twin Lakes- a 1 mile detour just east of the peak.

I found a pretty good stash of firewood just north of the trailhead and cut wood all day before returning home exhausted.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seven Devils Loop Run

Probably my favorite Idaho run.  The Seven Devils Loop is 30 miles of pure rugged alpine bliss.  My third time on this one and I still feel like it has my number.  I went Counter-Clockwise this run, but I have done it both ways.    A goal of 10 minute miles (5 hours total) sounds easy at home, but quickly deteriorates into exhausting 12 and 13 minute miles when the trail shows its devilish horns:  heat, rough trail, snow, downed trees, deep creek crossings, rerouting for obstacles, etc.  I drank 1.5 gallons of water out there and still lost 7 pounds.  This thing is a BEAST.

Windy Saddle Trailhead.  As pretty as trailheads get.  7500' elevation.

Coming down over the first pass the devil shows you his fangs: Devils Tooth spire.

Past the scenic Bernard Lakes, you encounter the most jaw-dropping view of the day from Dry Diggins Lookout 7850'.  

Looking North from Dry Diggins into Hell's Canyon.  Six-thousand plus feet straight down to the Snake River.  Deepest Canyon in North America.  It gets even deeper as measured from the top of the rim at He Devil Peak.  Over 8000' down to the Snake from there.  Amazing topography in Idaho.

Looking West from DDL.  The Wallowa Mountains of Oregon rise west of Hell's Canyon.

The shabby interior of DDL.  The door was open and the place is loaded with flies.  If this viewpoint was at the Grand Canyon, a milion people a year would visit.  But in the rugged heart of the Hell's Canyon Wilderness, 8 miles from the trailhead, I bet a few hundred would be a good year.  This national treasure needs some TLC.

 From the meadow near Hibbs Cow Camp.  The largest of the Seven Devils: Tower of Babel, He, She and the Ogre.

Somewhere on the Southwest side of the loop.  Perhaps Pyramid Mountain?

On the South side of the loop, looking South toward the upper reaches of the West Fork of Rapid River.  12 miles to go.

The remainder of the loop is still very scenic, but I managed no pics.  I was tired and locked in a full on war against the downed trees which are typical on the SE side of the loop in the early season.  One section had avalanched last winter and piled trees high over the trail.  Crawling through this section took patience.  Thankfully, soon after this section, I encountered a trail crew that informed me the next 9 miles to Windy Saddle TH were clear.  Home free.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

East Fork Lake Fork

Quick out-and-back 15 miler.  Wanted to go over Snowslide Summit, but deep snow on the north facing slope slowed me down.  Got nice views of the Fitsum Summits and Nick Peak.  Lots of Elk track.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crestline Trail Mega Loop

Really bad day to forget the camera.  I'm doing this one again in reverse soon.  It is among the best mountain runs I have ever done.  It had everything- long snow climbs, mud, river crossings, technical rock scrambling, sketchy trail and big commitment to finish.  There is some idyllic singletrack in there too.

The Route: Start at the Crestline TH off of Eastside Drive in McCall.  Climb steeply to 7100' to the junction of 108 and 109.  Make a right onto 108 and follow the nice trail to Fall Creek Saddle at 7850'.  Descend toward Lick Creek Road to the East, scrambling down steep granite ramps into a beautiful rocky cirque.  Pick up a trail that heads NE- angling left as you walk downhill.  A trail to Crystal Lake, popular among anglers, breaks off to the right, keep going on trail 108 to the TH on Lick Creek Road.

Head left (North) on LCR for about 1 mile to the Box Creek/ Black Lee TH.  Go left on Trail 110 and climb big time for 4 miles to a frozen col looking down on gigantic Box Lake.  Descend steep snow to the West (Left) shore and follow the shore to the lake's outlet on its NW corner.  The Trail continues heading NW to a cairned junction with the Crestline Trail.  Heading SW, I climbed a snowfield for 900 vertical feet to reach the crest. 

The trail on the crest was mostly obscured by the snow, so I just headed south, using occasional views of Jughandle Mountain for my bearing.  The terrain and scenery was spectacular.  As I lost some elevation a perfect ribbon of singletrack was exposed and I followed it for several miles passing Buck Lake and Squaw Lake and eventually reaching the trail junction near Blackwell Lake.  I made a right and finished the remaining 6 miles on familiar trail.  I had a cold soak in the creek at the bridge just before the trailhead, scubbing off the salt and grime.

The totals:  23.5 miles and 6500' of gain and loss.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Boulder Lakes Peak-Bagging Loop

Big vertical day with lots of bushwhacking and snow.  Had strong climbing gear and did plenty of uphill, off-trail running.  Awesome views and great weather.  This 14+ miler took me 3:20 to complete: a testament to its ruggedness.
Approaching Jughandle Mountain (8038') you arrive at the beautiful Louie Lake.

From Louie Lake, I climbed east and hit both Twin Peaks summits at around 8000'.  The view of Jug from North Twin summit.

From Twin Peaks, I bushwhacked North through the nice firm snow to Boulder Lake. This is the view from below its dam, looking East toward Buckhorn Mountain (8457').

From Boulder Lake, I climbed North to the summit of Boulder Mountain (8377').  From here I got a look North and East at the Shaw Twin Lakes (foreground) and behind them the Payette Lakes and McCall.

Looking North into the Lick Creek drainage.  Behemoth Slickrock is the tiny hunk of granite on the left edge of the photo.    Also visible (L to R) Snowslide Peak, Sawtooth Peak, Fitsum Peak and Nick Peak- all 8000-9000 footers.

Running the ridge east of Boulder Peak.
One last look back at the Jughandle massif with the Twin Peaks in the foreground.

Big climbin'
4300+' of gain and loss