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Running Around Broken Top

Man, what a hiatus. This summer has been a rough one. I’ve been inside, doing the hard work of becoming a doctor by undergoing the rights of passage called Surgery and Internal Medicine. It’s a necessary sacrifice, but it hasn’t been easy to watch summer slide by without me.

Now, finally, I’m on to lighter stuff. Two-day weekends. In to the hospital after sunrise and out before dark. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. And now that it’s quickly becoming fall, it’s time for some long runs.

I’ve been mulling over the Broken Top loop for a while now. It’s a great distance (~27 mi) in the great high country above Bend, OR. It’s part desert, part alpine, and part Ponderosa forest. The smells are amazing. This weekend, Taylor was going to go backpacking with a friend, so I headed out along to get this thing done.

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In the first quarter mile, a mountain lion track. That’ll put some energy in your step.

Running Around Broken Top

The most direct way to begin the loop is at the Three Creek Meadow trailhead on the Northeast side of the mountain, about a 30 minute drive from Sisters, OR. I opted to go clockwise, as that put the uncertain navigation up front, and I knew from scrambling around near Broken Top with Taylor a few weeks ago that the second half of the loop would be prettier this way.

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Overview map of the Broken Top loop. (PDF) (Zoomable Map).

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Breckenridge Crest Half Marathon

The “Breck Crest”  is a 20-year Breckenridge, Colorado footrace tradition described as “quintessential Breckenridge” by race director Jeff Westcott.  The marathon and half-marathon courses bring racers just beneath the peaks of the 10-Mile Range–the town’s stunning backdrop and setting of the famed Breckenridge Ski Resort–before descending dirt road through the resort boundaries. I opted for the shorter distance because “up & downs,” as I like to call them, have become somewhat my specialty. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t raced much else.

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Mt St Helens Worm Flows Speed Attempt

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Peter, getting warmed up in his patented shirtless-w/ultra-vest getup.

With Mountain Lessons contributor Peter Innes making his rounds in the Pacific Northwest before retiring to Gothic, CO for the winter, some shennanigans were in order.

Peter met Taylor and I out in Bend, where I was maximizing my limited recreation time by staying at a ranch home Airbnb and shredding some desert dust. We had a good warmup day riding bouncy bikes from Mt Bachelor to Bend along the Mrazek trail, and then set our sights for something dumber.

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Only the beginning of the uneven ground.

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Kendall Mountain Run Recap

By mid July it was high time to put my summer training to the test. As chance would have it, my dad had notified me he’d be visiting Colorado with two friends to race the Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton on July 18th. He suggested I race as well–I’d get to see a new part of Colorado, eat good food and drink good beer (for free), race against some serious competition, and (most importantly!) get to spend time with my father. Read on →

Living, Working, and Running at 9,500′

I’ve been spending the summer living and working at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL, pronounced “rumble”) in Gothic, CO. Life is good. First of all, I get to pursue my love for ecology while being immersed in an inspiring community of scientists and students. Also, I get to run in the mountains every day. Read on →

Columbia River Gorge: Angel’s Rest to Larch Mt

Spring is in full swing, and that means at least two things:

Trails across the Pacific Northwest are drying and calling out to runners weary of winter mud and wet pavement.

Volcanoes are basking under a hot sun and shine like voluminous diamonds in the eyes of climbers and skiers alike.

Running and skiing typically occupy distinct seasons, but springtime in the Northwest harbors ideal conditions for both. I took advantage of this duality last weekend with some friends of mine. The plan was to climb and ski Mt. Adams on Sunday. The only complication was that Ethan and Richard were racing the Yakima 50k on Saturday, which boasts 10,000′ of climbing. Thus, they demanded I run at least 20 miles and 4000′ on Saturday to even the exhaustion score. Despite a relative lack of fitness for long distances and vert, I consented and drove to the Columbia River Gorge for a long run amidst its new verdure.


INFO

Parking/TH: Angel’s Rest Trailhead. Oregon Gorge exit 28. No restrooms at TH. Very busy on sunny weekend days. Go during the week or early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Map: Angel’s Rest to Larch Mt USGS (trail in red). Incomplete Strava track here.

Stats: 22+ miles, 6500′ vertical. Bring water and food. Water refills available from streams/springs after Devil’s Rest (drink at your own risk).


The journey begins with a long and moderately steep climb to Angel’s Rest. The trail was incredibly crowded up to this point, and I did my best to politely weave past hikers. As a runner it’s easy to get annoyed by crowds, but it’s important to remember that the trail belongs to everyone. Plus, it was great to see so many people being active and connecting with nature. If the human race is to make any progress in preserving the integrity of the natural systems upon which we ultimately depend, I believe this is the first step.

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Pahto (Mt. Adams) shines bright on the horizon. The next day I would be standing atop her flat head.

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Glacier Peak In-a-day Attempt

Saturday was a flash flood that followed a week and a half of severe adventure drought. After spending all of last weekend in the library, Ethan asked me if I wanted to attempt to climb and ski Glacier Peak in a day with him and Richard Kresser the following weekend. Will Thomas, a friend of Richard’s, had attempted the route solo a week before only to turn around 2000′ below the summit. Will suggested an earlier start than his would likely put us at the top. I said yes, mostly out of blind ambition. Although I knew it was going to be a long day, at the time I didn’t consider the specifics of the suffering.

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Suffering can be beautiful.

Ethan thought a midnight start “had a nice ring to it”, so we forewent sleep and found ourselves at the North Fork Sauk Trailhead when the clock struck 12. Twenty minutes later we were jogging down the trail by headlamp with packs and skis on our back. When Richard took off down the trail, I thought he was having a laugh, employing a short-lived tactic to wake the body up, but nope, he kept jogging. Ethan shuffled in behind Richard and I kept up as best I could. A glance left or right illuminated five-hundred-year-old cedars and firs towering over us in the darkness. I thought of my friends partying in Portland and was struck by the absurdity of running through an old growth forest at night with skis on my back. Read on →

Running Around Mt Hood: The Timberline Trail

The first painless run after an injury is a startling joy, a cautious joy.

“Can I do this? Will the pain come back? Am I pushing it too soon? I have to push it sometime, might as well be now.”

When the pain doesn’t come back, all of the runs that I’ve spent nursing the stinging knee quickly fade from memory. The coddling, the careful steps, the painfully slow descents, they all get shelved. Finally, without pain, I can hurtle through the woods without thinking about each step.

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Heading off into the morning (Photo: Siggi)

After pacing Ethan at the Pine to Palm 100, my IT band pain had returned. Why exactly, it’s hard to say, but even with careful tending and strategic resting, I was not feeling really confident this past week that I could pull off a long run without the pain rearing its head and shutting me down. I was training and planning for the last two months, preparing to run around Mt Hood, and now my knee was going to make me wait for next season.

Still, it was fall break. The weather was perfect. And, improbably, I had a partner.

Sigurþór Einar Halldórsson, or Siggi as we call him, is an Icelandic idiot who is also dumb enough to enjoy running long distances for no reason. He caught wind last week that I might have something up my sleeve, so I told him to pack his shoes, and when I decided to give it a go, he was ready and willing.

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Marin Headlands Run

On break in San Francisco, I was getting too fat and lazy, immersed as I was in the free-cookies-and-beer world of Air BnB headquarters. Ethan said that I would be remiss if I didn’t make it to the Marin Headlands for a run– that it was like “running through a Patagonia ad“.

The golden gate bridge, on my return trip.

The golden gate bridge, on my return trip.

Well, SF public transit really sucks, and there are only busses to the headlands on the weekends. This was frustrating. After hitting my head against a table for a few hours trying to figure out a ride (driving in SF also sucks), I decided to do what I usually do and turn a simple run into a big adventure by biking there and back.

Armed with a cruiser bike borrowed from my Air BnB host (thanks Ian!) I navigated the bike-unfriendly bike routes of San Francisco, up and over the tourist clogged golden gate bridge, and out to the quiet, foggy headlands. Read on →

Running Around Oregon

I’m in San Francisco now on a week-long break from medical school. I’m on a taper that is psychologically hard to maintain and I just want to run around instead of letting myself get fat in front of amazing views from Potrero Hill. The roller-coaster of knee-pain emotions is being combatted with aggressive PT and hopefully I’ll have a fun story to tell you next week. Until then, the adventures continue:

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Wildflowers bloom near Elk Cove, Mt Hood.

 

This past month of medical school has posed new and interesting challenges to getting outside. That alone means that doing so is more important to me than ever. Getting up onto the flanks of Mt Hood each Saturday for a long run is as rejuvenating as yoga and as relaxing as a favorite malty beverage. Read on →