Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Years in Durango

This New Years weekend I headed to Durango along with some friends to get in some skiing and see what the snow conditions were like.  There was a lot of snow in early December but since then it's been pretty dry around here and in most of Colorado so we weren't sure what to expect.  Saturday morning I found myself at Silverton Mountain for the second time in my life, it's a great mountain with great skiing but it's not your typical ski area.  There are no groomed runs,  you will end up hiking, and you can get yourself into real trouble.  It's backcountry type terrain with a lift that takes you up most of the way to the top.  Currently the skiing is unguided which means a lift ticket is less than most of the other mountains around Durango but in about 2 weeks a lift ticket prices will go up as a guide will be required.  Avalanche gear is always required (beacon, shovel, probe) to ride the lift.

The morning was pretty windy so the lift was delayed in opening.  At around 11 we were on the lift but until then we waited in the tent as that's what they have instead of a lodge.  It's  a pretty nice tent as it has a wood stove, refreshments for sale, and this awesome tree.  I think this is the first real christmas type tree I saw this season, not that it's really an xmas tree.  I was tired and there were nothing comfy left to sit on so I took the picture while laying on the ground trying to get settled so I could take a nap.

As mentioned the mountain doesn't have a lodge so if you need to go to the bathroom you can use this outhouse or find some trees on one of your runs.  You can also see the helicopter that they use for heli-skiing in the background, someday I'll go heli-skiing but hopefully it'll be in another country.

 The first run we went down had some ok snow but towards the bottom I ended up in some tight trees and it really wasn't much fun to get down thru them because the coverage wasn't great.  We were hiking up to our second run and stopped to look at Mandatory Air, a run they had just avy bombed and opened.  Nathan decided since it was just opened and we could get first tracks on it that we should go.  Upon getting ready to head down the run, Nathans binding broke.  What did this mean, that he had to head back down to the bottom of the mountain via the lift and I was left to decide what run to do by myself.  I wasn't sure about going down Mandatory Air alone as there is a section you have to downclimb with a rope but he seemed to think it would be the best way down for me and I would be able to get first tracks.

The snow on the run wasn't that great as it was pretty windblown.  The run is called Mandatory Air as there is section where when there is enough snow you may have to jump, I'm not 100% sure on this as I've only been there early season where they route you to section where you have to use a rope to go down part of the run with some semi stairs.  I have no plans to go down that run again anytime in the near future.  I feel like last time the section you needed the rope for wasn't that long but this time it seemed really long and took me a good 20 minutes to get down.  Part of that I was yelling and getting a bit mad at Nathan for sending me down it alone but it was a bit late to get too upset so I tried to focus on not breaking a leg.  So for this downclimb, you keep your skis on as the edges help to let you grip the snow and keep from sliding down, and then use the rope to lean on and help stabilize you.  As you can see from the photos it's steep and rocky.

Middle of the down step
Done with rope! That middle section is at the top of this photo.

After that run I was feeling a little less confident in my skiing abilities and I was still skiing alone so I decided I would take Tiger down, a pretty mellow run that required minimal hiking.  The snow was alright but still nothing great.  At the end of the run, you walk across the stream and end up on a road where you get picked up by an old FedEx type truck that takes you back to the lift.  If you end your run further up the road from the lift than an old school bus will pick you up, like I said not your typical ski mountain.  I made it back to the lift in time for last chair but at that point I was content to just call it a day as the snow just wasn't that great and I was ready to head back to Durango to celebrate new years.

 On the car ride back to Durango, I told Nathan how horrible my experience was on Mandatory Air was  and that I can't believe he thought it was a good idea for me to go down that run.  He didn't know how bad that section was until Monday when he returned to the mountain.  Upon getting back to Flagstaff he said he was sorry for sending me down that run as it was in pretty bad shape.

We spent New Years night in Durango where we started the night by utilizing the hot tub that was at the place we rented for the weekend.  Then we piled into a car and headed downtown for some tasty wood fired Neapolitan style pizza and to see where the night would go.  The night started great and then I drank way too much, the chocolate martini while delicious put me over my limit.  New Years morning I felt awful, we were supposed to ski at Wolf Creek but is became clear that it would be best to change it to a half day.  When we got there I still wasn't feeling great as everytime I bent over to buckle my boots my head would start spinning.  Ada was in a similar state so we stuck to mostly groomed runs and slow chair lifts while some of the others headed into the trees.  By the end of the ski day I was feeling much better which was good as I decided that instead of staying in Durango another night that I would head back to Flagstaff, 6 hours in a car.  Monday I slept in and headed out for an afternoon run to enjoy the warm, sunny weather we've been having the last 2 weeks as I know it won't last.

All in all, it was a good weekend.  I just wish there was better snow and that I hadn't drank so much on New Years Eve.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't Bust the Crust

This year was the first time I did not go home to be with the family for Christmas.  With flights being pricey and not having many days off I decided I would stay in Az for the holidays and get in some running, skiing, and relaxing.  Christmas Eve and Christmas morning were spent down in Sedona.  Christmas Eve I got in a 17.7 mile and was pretty sure that some sort of wildlife was stalking me.  Then I followed it up with a 9 mile trail run Christmas morning with my friend Gail.  The sign to the left can be seen at a lot of trailheads in Sedona, also in Moab.

On getting back to Flagstaff we headed into the mountains to see if there was enough snow to do some back country skiing. We tried but the conclusion was not enough in the chutes and looks like there will be even less after the past few days where we have reached highs in the 50's.  We headed back down in the trees but there wasn't enough cover to make it fun as the downed tress and rocks were not fully covered yet.  But it was a great reminder of the benefits of living in Flagstaff, that even in the winter there are snowless trails only 30 miles away.

Allison Clay Chute

Lately I've been on runs with amazing views and the camera on my phone just doesn't cut it but I could never justify hauling around my old camera as it just didn't fit nicely in any of the little pockets of my running belts or bags and it didn't take very good photos. So after xmas I headed to best buy to see if there were any after xmas deals and picked up a digital camera that had been returned for about $90. It's the Sony cyber-shot DSC-W70 and is 16.1 MP and about half the size and weight of my old camera,so far it's a big upgrade. It takes much better pictures and is easier to carry along on runs with me, so expect more photos this next year and probably race reports as I no longer need to rely on the photos of others.

My first digital camera was in the Cannon Elph series. I received it as a graduation gift a few weeks before I graduated from college in the spring of 2004.  When I recieved it, it was a top of the line ~$400 5MP digital camera now it just shows how much cheaper and better the technology has become.
Below are some pictures of my trail run in Sedona yesterday that were taken from the Airport Loop. No matter the trail in Sedona there are always great views to be had.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Transrockies Run

Humphrey's Saddle
Views from Weatherford Trail

Well it's been awhile since I last posted.  Since the last post I've been doing a lot of running.  I've done some more Rim to River runs in the canyon.  Have been on a road trip to northern california and reno where I explored trails and vineyards (put in 70 miles of running while on vacation).  And have run up and down the San Fransisco Peaks here in Flagstaff multiple times.  With the most notable runs being the ones up to Humphrey's saddle from both directions.

  Option A is a steady 10 mile climb from Shultz tank (8000ft) to Humphreys saddle(11800ft) on the Weatherford trail, which has beautiful views but questionable footing.  Then you get to the saddle and run down the Humphreys trail and get back to Shultz tank via the Kachina Trail, about a 21 mile run.  The other way is to do it in reverse which gets the climb over first and cuts out a few miles.  So you start at 9300 ft and climb to 11,800 ft in 3.5 miles, but then you get to run downhill for 10 miles before hitting the rolling hills of Kachina and ending with around 18 or so miles.  I'm still not sure which way I prefer as they are both very challenging.

Flowers while on the run



Wildlife of interest seen would be a momma bear and her cub two weekends ago, luckily they were running away from us.

  The training is done and the packing is almost complete.  If you want to follow my team as we embark on this journey, the race is pretty good about updating results and putting up videos daily on the website.  I'll be running with Anna Kobb in the womens open division and our team name is Team Gore Running Wear Girls as our company is providing us with some clothes to wear for the race.  Some very Euro style running wear...  Our plan is to just take it one day at a time and enjoy the views.

Well here's to hoping I still like running after 6 days, 119.5 miles, and ~20,800 feet of elevation gain in the Colorado Rockies.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rainbow Rim Trail

This past weekend I did some camping on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon at a place just outside the park boundary on the Rainbow Rim Trail.  The trail has 5 view points where forest roads intersect the trails and you have amazing views.  Since this is in the national forest you are also able to camp right next to the edge of the rim if you like.

We arrived on Friday night at the Parissawampits view point, if I did it again I think I would camp at the Locust view point as that's the best one for camping right on the edge of the rim and right off the trail.  Where we were you had to walk a few minutes to get to a view point but since we had the dog with us this was fine by me as I didnt have to worry about her being so close to the edge of the rim.

Saturday morning I got up and got ready for my long run.  The plan was to run to the Locust view point and back which was around 16-17 miles round trip and would have me run from the first to the third viewpoint.  The trail was great for running but you did have to watch your step as there were lots of loose rocks for rolling ankles on which I only did a few times.  In between the view points you are in the forest so there is a decent amount of shade and you're also at 8000 feet so the temperature was perfect and didn't get too hot.

Within the first 10 minutes of running I came across some animal remains.  I spent the next mile wondering what animal it was and how its bones ended up on the trail.  Don't think I ever came to a conclusion but probably a cow.

Here is a picture from the second lookout.  The edge is just past my pack.


I can't remember if I took this at the second or third lookout.  I feel like it was the second lookout.

This picture is from the third lookout, I didn't get that close to the edge as at this point I was feeling a bit tired and really just stopped long enough to take a picture.

I picked up my puppy with about 5 miles to go as she ran behind Nathan until we met on the trail and then she joined me for the end of my run.  We were both pretty tired when we got here, the first lookout only a few minutes run from camp.  I didn't even notice the lookout on my start but it was a great view to end the run on.

One happy pup

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Porcupine Rim Trail

Two weekends I go I went to Moab, UT home of the delicate arch in Arches National Park.  I have a picture of it in a previous post when I headed there for thanksgiving.  This time we were in town to do some mountain biking/hiking/running.  We arrived Friday afternoon and were able to get in a short mountain bike ride before it got dark out.  Since I'm not very skilled I did the slickrock practice loop, and let me say that it let me realize that I shouldn't bike any of the other slickrock trails.  Riding slickrock is very strange, the entire trail is on rock that's marked with paint and it's amazing how much your tires grip the rock.  On the downside no matter where you fall, you will be falling on smooth rock at the best and jagged rock if you aren't so lucky.  Another down side to camping in Moab is that sand gets everywhere.  You can't enjoy any food without having the added crunchiness of sand.

 Saturday the decision was made to do the Porcupine Rim Trail which is a point to point trail that started less than a mile from where we were camping. The trail starts at about 5830 and climbs over the first 4 miles to 6800ft. After that you descend the rim to the Colorado river and it ends at about 4000 feet. The overall trail length was about 14.4 miles. It took me awhile to decide if I should do the trail or not but in the end I told myself if it didn't feel good running it that I could just turn it into a hike. I took it easy up the climb and mixed running with walking. The view from the top was amazing and I wish I had taken a picture there but didnt so I stole one from Nathan, to the left.

After that the trail descended and I did take a few pictures from one side of the rim maybe a mile into the descent.  I also wish I would have had some pictures of the end where you are running 10 feet from the edge of the rim and it is following the Colorado River, very pretty.  But at that point I was just trying to finish the run so I didn't stop to take any pictures.  In the end it took me just under 3 hours to do the trail and considering it was my longest run this year and my second run since surgery I was pleasantly surprised.  To make it even better the rest of our group was on mountain bikes and started the trail maybe 20 mintues after me and finished maybe 10 minutes before me.  They caught me right before the single track about 2 hours in which is where they took that lovely picture of me at the start of the post.

An example of why I don't ride slickrock.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Back to Running

Stitches came out last Thursday and for a few days I had a pretty sweet Frankenstein scar.  The first two pictures below are from the day the stitches were removed.  In the second picture you can also see where my deck drains were.  Also you can notice what looked like a double/triple chin as after the neck drains came out the swelling increased by a lot.  The line goes up to being level with my ear line and as can be seen by the photo taken today in a few months it shouldn't be very noticeable at all.

8 days post surgery
8 days post surgery
2 weeks after surgery

  Unfortunately it's hard to take a picture of my tongue but I can now answer how much of it they took out since I have a copy of my pathology report which states the sample "is an oriented elliptical portion of tissue, 2.5cm anterior to posterior, 1.8cm medial to lateral, and 1.2cm in thickness."  So from front to back that's about 1" front to back, .7" left to right, and about .5" thick.  In a different section it mentioned that the depth of invasion was 4mm and that all surgical margins were negative for carcinoma and clear by at least 5mm.  The swelling has gone down a lot on my neck and tongue and I am to a point where most people can't notice anything about my speech.  My tongue is still healing and feels strange/numb but I'm getting used to it.

Well it's been exactly 2 weeks since surgery so I was able to go for my first run today.  This past weekend I really got the itch to run as the weather was sunny and warm.  I made the most of it by going for a hike and a mountain bike ride in Sedona.  I had asked if I was allowed to bike after surgery and they said once I was home from the hospital that would be fine, but I'm pretty sure they probably didn't mean mountain biking in Sedona, oh well.  Due to the fact that I haven't ridden my mountain bike in about 5 months and that I just came out of the hospital I was more weenie than normal on the ride.  Sedona also has some pretty technical trails so on the one I ended up doing a lot of hike a biking.  Tight turns were also an issue as I still can't completely turn my head from right to left so that was also interesting.

Running went pretty well, I went for a total of 22 minutes my legs felt a bit uncoordinated.  I felt a lot of tightness in my neck and left shoulder where it was hard to really keep my upper body relaxed but no real pain to speak of just discomfort.  I think with some more stretching of my neck and a bit more time for the remaining swelling to go away that the tightness shouldn't be an issue anymore.  All in all I'm glad that everything seems to be returning to normal.  The strangest part is still the numbness on my neck and ear from the dissection and more and more it's the strange feelings/spasms that shoot up and down that side of my neck as the nerve endings reconnect.

The start of a good weekend starts tomorrow night with some St.Patty's day celebrating and will be followed with a trip to Moab that should be filled with lots of mountain biking, running, and napping on the red rocks.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cancer, huh?

Some of you have probably heard already and some of you maybe not.  But as I live in a small town now everyone out here pretty much knew after I had told about 5 people as I guess news like that spreads like wildfire in a smaller town.  With that came a lot of akward interactions as after a few people heard I could just see the dread in their face.  I stopped telling people after awhile as it just got to be a bit much for me to handle.

The quick version is that the week after the Ironman I noticed a sore under my tongue and assumed it was a canker sore, although to this point I had never had one so was prob not in a position to be determining that.  It didn't go away so it was mid January when I called the dentist to get it looked at and have my teeth cleaned.  A week later I was getting it biopsied by an oral surgeon and 3 days later I got the call.  The call where the doctor told me I had cancer and needed to call x, y, z people asap along with lots of other info that I just didn't absorbed.  That was Feb 3rd and the rest of that day was a blur as I spent it calling doctors to get appointments.  In the end the diagnosis was well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma on the left-posterolateral tongue.  In terms of staging T1N0M0, stage 1.  While I noticed the sore after the ironman the reality is the cancer cells were multiplying there for awhile before I noticed them and I noticed them about as early as you can notice something like this so my doing the ironman did not cause cancer ...

After a few visits to the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix I was set for surgery March 2 to have a partial glossectomy (removal of tumor and some margins from the tongue), and neck dissection on the left side of my neck in case the cancer had spread.  Now I really didn't want to have surgery I mean there are risks with every surgery but as the doctor said it's really that small risk versus death.  So some how I was supposed to be less anxious about the surgery because if there were any complications as long as they weren't death I would be better off, I did not like that mentality.  Except for comparing my odds to death I really liked my doctor and I realize he was trying to make me less nervous but saying slurred speech, uneven smile, shoulder twitch, or death just wasn't making things better in my head.

I'm now just short of a week post surgery and as they say I did well.  I still don't understand why doctors say that as I did nothing except sign a consent form.  My doctor did great, surgery was 2-3 hours and went smoothly, they took out part of my tongue and for the most part I'm talking normally and it's still somewhat swollen.  The lymph nodes came out and there was no nerve damage associated with that.  Post surgery was rough as I had what I would call a migraine (felt like someone was driving a railroad spike into my left eyesocket), nausea from the anesthesia and morphine they were giving me.  There was a lot of dry heaving (thankfully not vomit as with my tongue as swollen as it was I feel it would have just gotten stuck in my throat) and all around misery for a few hours.  Once I was switched to percocet things got much better.  It wasn't till Sunday afternoon that I was released from the hospital so I was going insane as it was so boring there and I was able to walk around freely as they were just waiting for my neck drains to slow down.

My neck/face are still pretty swollen, I can't move my head freely so it's always stiff/sore.  In another week I should be able to run so all things considered I feel very lucky.  Lucky to have caught this so early, have a great doctor, and a great support team.  Thanks to everyone for the care packages, flowers, and good thoughts they were very helpful in this not so fun time in my life.  Hopefully the worst of it is behind me and the next 5 years of checkups will go without a hitch.  Just remember sometimes cancer strikes for no reason so if something seems odd go get it checked out by a doctor.   (if you want some pictures of my hospital stay, neck drains, etc, nathan has some posted on his blog)

In other news, looks like Ryan Hall will be talking to our team run flagstaff tomorrow night to answer questions and sign copies of his new book.  Any questions I should ask him?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Avy Savy

In the first 15 minutes 93% of all avalanche victims are still alive, most avalanche deaths occur during the fall hitting rocks or trees.  From 15-45 minutes 2/3 of victims will die of Asphyxiation.  If the victim survives after 45 minutes they have probably found an air pocket and may be able to survive longer but if not rescued they will eventually die of asphyxiation or hypothermia. (in full burial avalanches)  Below are some avalanche viedoes.  In all these cases the people are very lucky which is not true in many cases.

After watching avalanche videos and hearing of people encounters with them, you quickly get it in your head that you don't ever want to be in a situation where you are looking at a 15 minute time frame to rescue your friends or be rescued.  While beacon technology has come a long way in helping to pinpoint the victim, rescue times have not decreased dramatically because you still have to dig the victim out from under a lot of hard packed snow.  While we did not practice digging on an avlanche field we practiced probing and digging into a large pile of ice/snow made by a snow plow and it took awhlie to get to the burried beacons.

In order to learn more about avalanche safety, I took the Avalance 1 course at the Silverton Avalanche School.  It was a great course that combined classroom hours with time out on the snow.  I learned about what some of the causes for weak layers in a snow pack are, how to dig a pit to see the snow layers and conduct tests to get an idea for the stability of the snow.  Also about how to determine where good places were to put skin tracks on the way up the mountain and how to come up with different routes down the mountain so as to avoid triggering an avalanche as well as determining safe stopping points so that if an avalanche is triggered multiple people won't get caught in it's path.  We also spent some time practicing beacon searches.  After the class I realize I still have a lot to learn about safety in the backcountry but now I have the tools to make my own decisions regarding safety and know a lot more about how to stay out of trouble.

On the last day of the class we had a short session in the classroom and then headed out to Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains to do some touring.  It was a great day with some great views and tree skiing.  Now we just need some more snow in Flag so I can go out and get in some more turns.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ready to run

I arrived in Buena Vista today for the start of my race. The opening dinner is done, my bag is packed, and its time to relax. The scenery on the drive here was beautiful and I am looking foward to more of the same over the next 3 days of running. My goal for this race is to have fun and enjoy the views.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Preparing for TRR3

  Well I leave Friday after work or Saturday morning to head to Buena Vista,CO where I will participate in my first 3 day running race.  This is the first year the 3 day solo option is being offered as the typical GORE-TEX TransRockies Run is a 6 day event that you run with a partner.  With being new to multi day running races and having just moved I was very excited about the 3 day solo option.  It means I can get a taste of the race and see if I really do want to do the full race next year with a partner.
  Since the run is sponsored by Gore, the company I work for a bunch of people from work will be headed to the race not to mention a bunch of other teams from Flag will be there so I should know a good number of people at the race.  I've been told that it's a ton of fun as most of your day you are hanging out.
  This week I get to work on what to bring: mandatory items that I mush carry with me each day on the run are a rain jacket, warm hat and gloves, and a survival blanket (just got this last night).  Then there are a bunch of optional items.  Other items that are going to be needed are clothes for all types of temperatures since I'll be camping in the mountains at night and running in who knows what kind of weather during the day.  To make it even more interesting the race provides you with a duffel bag and that's all that you can bring with you.  In there you have to fit whatever you will want for the race, including your sleeping bag and pad, any special foods, extra shoes, etc.  They transport the bag to the camping location each night, as each day is point to point, so whatever isn't in that bag you won't have.

Well with the race being less than a week away I'm not really nervous or worried, at least not yet.  The race is going to be what it's going to be.  While the running may be hard I'm excited for the mountain scenery of Colorado and spending most of my day just hanging out.  If you care to follow I think they post results for the race after each stage on the website, first stage is Sunday Aug 22.