Since WS was cancelled, some friends and I, all of whom were supposed to be at WS either racing, crewing, or pacing, did a sweet little impromptu training camp.
Thursday, June 26: Kami, Prudence, and I ran the Paulina Peak / Newberry Crater 39 mile loop. This was only my second time doing the whole thing, and it is sweet! We had a nice 9 mile uphill warmup to the Crater, then gained a lot of vertical in a short time, and lost the trail on lots of snow, going up to Paulina Peak. The views from the top are awesome! As we continued around the loop, I was an idiot and didn't take care of myself - who really needs to take s-caps or eat much on a 39 miler? So the girls definitely put the hurt on me, but were nice enough to occasionally wait. Of course I puked a few times out there, too. My saving grace was the Pepsi and chips with 9 miles to go. I got a sweet sugar rush and used that to my advantage, running as fast as I could for as long as possible before the inevitable crash came. And come it did, with about 3 miles to go I was once again jogging. But I still finished a long, fun day in the mountains with two super nice, and super fast, girls.
Friday, June 27: Prudence, Susannah, and I ran the 27 mile Ochocos Marathon (perhaps you remember mine and Sascha's adventure there in early May). We had absolutely zero snow to contend with, to go along with 20 great singletrack miles and 7 kinda painful paved miles. The initial climb up Round Mountain was good for all of us, then Prudence cranked the semi-technical singletrack going down. Next came the pounding of the pavement, but at the bottom was a great creek for soaking in before the long climb up Lookout Mtn. Prudence's toes got hammered at Paulina on Thursday, and all of the downhill so far from Round Mtn. weren't helping. So she unfortunately had to turn back on the climb up Lookout and wait by the creek (her toes were bad!). Once on top of Lookout, it was down a few more miles back to the car. Waiting for us there were Tonya, Chris, and Darla, who would be joining us for the weekend in the Strawberry Wilderness Area.
But before we got to the Strawberries, we picked up Prudence, soaked and cleaned off in the creek, then had an adventurous drive on a long and pretty gravel road to Mitchell. Upon arriving in Mitchell, Susannah immediately got a flat tire in her van. Chris stepped up and changed the tire while the rest of us went in the little cafe and ordered dinner. Their bacon cheeseburger is really good, and the fries were super greasy with lots of salt...mmmm! It was late by now, so we decided to camp in the very cool Mitchell City Park with a whole lot of Harley dudes and chicks. Despite the loud music that lasted pretty late, they were cool.
Saturday, June 28: I had planned on a 3:30 wake-up call for Susannah, Prudence, and me (to mimic our WS wake-up), but the late night music shot that idea. We eventually all got up and had a good breakfast at the little cafe, said hi to Henry the black bear (if you ever go to Mitchell, you must do this), then continued on to the Strawberries.
We pulled into the Strawberry Campground around noon, found a nice campsite, set up camp, then pulled out a map to decide where to run. Prudence decided to take the day off to give her feet a break, so she hiked the 1.5 miles up to Strawberry Lake to hangout on the beach with a book for the day. So Tonya, Susannah, Chris, Darla, and I decided on a 13 mile loop up to Strawberry Mountain. Going up was great for a while, until we hit the snow. We hopelessly lost the trail, but decided to keep on plugging. We just basically aimed for the peak, going cross country over lots of snow and up a rocky talus slope until we eventually hooked up with the trail again. On top of Strawberry Mtn (9,053'), we had cool views of the Wallowas in northeastern Oregon, and much of the rest of the Strawberry Wilderness Area. It's beautiful. As we headed down, we decided to take a different route back. One problem - that route was also buried under snow on the upper, north-facing parts. So we used our trail finding skills of looking for the notches cut-out of trees until we found the trail (this was a great learning experience for Darla and Tonya!). Once back on trail, we had a long, sweet, technical ride through an old burn back down to the trailhead. It was fun. We got spit out on a gravel road about 1 1/4 miles below camp. Hm, we could either curse it and jog slowly up, or we could hammer. I chose option 2 and threw the bone out for Susannah and Chris. They both bit. I won't say who topped out first, but I will say it was a cool way to end a fun afternoon on the trails.
Back at camp, we found out that the flies at Strawberry Lake had different plans for Prudence. And her badly blistered feet and toes weren't getting any better. So with a big 40 mile pacing duty for Betsy Nye at Hardrock in two weeks, Prudence reluctantly decided to head back to the big city (Bend) for the rest of the weekend.
The other five of us feasted on a big dinner of spaghetti and lots of other stuff we all had and just threw in. Tonya, however, produced the food-hit of the weekend when she pulled out her Deluxe S'mores stuff - marshmellows, graham crackers, and Reese's peanut butter cups! Oh baby, I was excited!!
Sunday, June 29: Chris and I had both looked at the map to scout out a 20ish miler and we both found the same loop, so it was an easy choice on what to run. Today's group was the same as yesterday's: Susannah, Tonya, Darla, Chris, and me, and we finally got an early start, at 10:10! After a nice initial climb that included 1,000' in a mile, we got on some singletrack that just very rarely gets used. The trail was overgrown and little bushes were even starting to grow on the trail itself. It was cool. After climbing over a ridge, we got into a burn area. We went in and out of the burn a couple times until we dropped into a valley where we were in a big burn again. We immediately lost the trail and spent almost 1/2 hour finding it. Those burned trees do a good job of hiding the trail. We then kept losing the trail every so often as we would hit another big burned area. Eventually, we got out of the burn and into the snow, which, of course, meant more lost trail. Looking up to the sky wasn't good at this point either - a storm was brewing. We consulted the map, figured where we were and where we wanted to go, saw the trail again across a mostly snow-covered valley, and headed cross country for the trail. We weren't back on the trail long before more snow covered it again. With feet already soaked, we decided to just follow a creek that paralled the trail down to where the trail popped out again. We eventually found bare ground for good and began racing the storm down the mountain. With 2 fast downhill miles to go, Chris and I decided to race each other. I took the initial lead and made it difficult for him to go around (nice, wide elbows), but I swear he must have untied my shoe because I soon noticed my lace flopping around. Crap! I stopped to tie as Chris flew around me and on down to the trailhead. The jerk could have at least waited for me.
We all had a nice soak in the creek at the finish, chowed down some wraps, then decided a visit to the John Day DQ was in order. Oh baby, after a weekend of 100 tough miles, a big, fat Peanut Buster Parfait is good eatin'!
On the way home Tonya helped me figure out some of the features on my cell phone. For those of you that don't know, this is my first trip into the world of cell phones. I finally decided to ditch my land-line and go all cell. Yes, it was a big step for me. Anyway, it was fun playing with all of the functions, although I found out there's no games on it (I was really hoping for Tetris).
Thanks to Prudence, Kami, Susannah, Tonya, Darla, and Chris for hanging out with me over the weekend. I won't lie, it wasn't the race I was hoping for, but it sure was fun running lots in some of Oregon's beautiful mountains with you all. Thanks for a super-fun weekend, and for helping me stay in shape for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100!