Tagged ‘trail run‘

Mississippi Head Run

It’s been damn smoky around these parts lately, with an explosive fire blooming in the Columbia River Gorge that has choked us all with air quality that makes Salt Lake City’s inversion smog seem like an eco-paradise. Thankfully, our usual Westerly winds returned a few days ago to blow the smoke to east and open up our skies and lungs again.

Mt Hood from ZigZag Canyon, guarded by the cliffs of Mississippi Head.

Taylor wanted to get in a long day of hiking on Mt Hood as training for an upcoming effort, and recruited friends Hayes and Reagan to join her shuttling a piece of the Timberline trail. I dropped them off in the foggy morning air at Top Spur trailhead on the mountain’s West side before driving myself up to Timberline Lodge to go for a run and check out a Mt Hood feature that I’ve never visited before – Mississippi Head.

Mississippi Head in detail.

Mississippi Head is best known for being a site of accidents. In recent times, it forms the bottom of the “mount hood triangle”, a terrain phenomenon that has claimed many unwary and even wary skiers and climbers. In short, if you descend with poor visibility from the summit of Mt Hood along the fall line, you won’t head back towards Timberline Lodge and your car but will instead veer Westwards towards the tall cliffs of Mississippi Head. This very error has waylaid Mt Hood’s most enthusiastic backcountry skiier, Asit Rathod, among many others. Read on →

Mt Kessler

With Taylor back in Portland and my parents off to Iceland for a few weeks, I’m left to my own devices here in the Wasatch. Despite a pretty solid schedule of 16 ER shifts including 4 overnights as well as 4 days of lecture, I’ve still been sneaking out into the hills.

That’s the great thing about Salt Lake City. The city itself is not much to write home about– not terrible, but not amazing. I spend my time writing home about the Wasatch, the beautiful and steep range that I can be sweating my way up just half an hour after leaving the hospital. This is why people like me live here.

Looking down the aptly named ski pitch, God’s Lawnmower.

Read on →

Mt St Helens Worm Flows Speed Attempt


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.


Only the beginning of the uneven ground.

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.


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.

Read on →

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 →

Trail Factor 50K Trail Run Recap

La Sportiva Anakonda

It only took 48 hours for these shoes to dry in the sunshine.

Two days ago, I did a bad thing to my legs.  At least, that’s what they’re telling me today.  Not that I’ve stretched or anything, but to bend and tie my shoes is a trial, and to descend stairs is another thing entirely. Two months back, I wrote about a training schedule for a 50k trail run; I hurt now because of that run.

I was lured into this maniacal plan by my friend Alex Ragus, who suggested that we train for it together.  For the record, he did register, but he also bailed a few weeks before the race, having been otherwise occupied and not having trained in the slightest.  In spite of Alex backing out, training for the race became a positive experience for me.  While training I discovered that there’s just an ineffable pleasure to traveling by foot over great distances.

Muddy feet

Only when the course is truly muddy does the dirt work its way to the toes.

The morning of the race, I was grumpy, but I had a plan.  I was grumpy because it was the end of a long process.  Not to get into any cliché hippy nonsense or anything, but these days I’m slowly discovering a newfound patience that lets me tackle bigger projects, and that patience is pretty satisfying.  Reaching the end of the road, by comparison  doesn’t hold a lot of learning potential.   Read on →

Ruckel Ridge Hike/Run

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I took a run up Ruckel Ridge this afternoon against the impending threat of rain.  Run is a relative word, because the train rises so steeply that it is often faster and more economical to power-scramble on all fours.

The trail gains about 3700′ over the first 4.5 miles of the nine milke loop back to the car. In that space, it climbs up steep tree roots, and basalt rock piles, with the occasionally restful flat-ish piece of trail.  It made for a brutal run but would make for a fun hike.  It ends on the top of Benson Plateau, which was eerily silent and foggy as I crossed Ruckel Creek to descend the better maintained trail on it’s other side.  Read on →