Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Turnin' Old Vacation

All these months leading to this week, I've had lofty goals.
1) Rim2Rim2Rim at the Grand Canyon (add a couple miles round-trip to make it 50M)
2) Run 50M at Zion NP
3) Set a PR running 50M in the Denver area with friends pacing
4) Mtn bike 50M or more around Moab, Canyonlands

In the end, my plantar scuttled any mileage plans. Even biking is hard on my plantar, since I have to keep getting off my bike now and then, and bike shoes are cruel to my plantar.

The only thing I did was get back to my roots. I went camping in the snow at treeline.

Something else I've been needing is a little Zen time. So instead of climbing a summit, all I did was get high enough to see plenty of mountain tops. I watched the wind, listened to the clouds, felt the mountains. I read a LOT.

Winter Camping 101 - Note the setup. Dig the snow down to ground (unless you are forced to build a flat floor from packed snow, which sucks because your body heat will eventually melt it and form a depression under your ass).
Getting out of a tent can be hard, especially in the middle of the night, with down booties, and wind gusts. To help, I put my ski poles on each side of the tent in case I fall backwards, and I have a snowshoe on each side to use as handrails, and my snow shovel in front.
Too bad there wasn't more snow. It's best to dig down - and build-up (a wall) - so that the wind easily blows right over.
The toboggan always gets placed on the windy side. It's anchored some by snow, but also the pull-line is tangled in my ski poles and tent lines in case the wind decides to rip it off and sail away (this has saved it several times in the past).

The night-time temps were crazy-low. There was about 30F difference between my camp and my car. At night, the temps were -10F to -20F. I brought two sleeping bags and needed both to stay warm.

My only companion was a canine that I never saw (large fox or small coyote), and hibernating rodents under my tent. The fox/coyote seemed to appreciate my toboggan track and used it daily to scout other rodents that crossed the trail.

Oddly, I saw raccoon tracks at 11,000 feet! WTF? I didn't know they were that high, nor active during winter, but I'm no expert on 'coons.
I also saw what I'm guessing were Marten tracts. The size/shape were right, and they seemed to be ghosting a set of squirrel tracks.
However, I didn't actually lay eyes on any living creature.

How many of you use your boots to hold mugs? It plugs them and keeps snow out and it avoids spilling your hot bev's.
Of course, you ALWAYS keep your boot liners warm inside your sleeping bag and/or inside your waistband. You can get hypothermia in your toes real easy putting on frozen boots at -20F.
Process: Take down booties off, shove feet into down sleeping bag and booties into boots. Boot liners should be transferred to your waistband. Simmer a couple of minutes, or until noodles are soft. Then, one boot at a time, yank out bootie, shove in insole, shove in foot, tie boot.
Don't waste a second getting up and walking around to keep the circulation going and warm the boots up as fast as possible.
I relax doing this much work? Am I loco?
Don't answer that. It beats office work.

While up there, I finished Scott Rigsby's "Unthinkable" about the first double-amputee to finish the Hawaiian Ironman.
Then I started reading a couple of books on the 10th Mountain Division. Wow, talk about sens-uround! All I needed was an M1 Garand and I woulda been there!

From my tent, I could see Mt. Massive, South Massive, Elbert, La Plata, Hope, and Hope Pass. I could see half the LT100 course. The opposite direction, but hidden behind a ridge, was Mosquito Pass, where the Leadville Marathon turns around. South of me was Ball Mountain, where the marathon and the Silver Rush 50M courses run around.


  1. Man, this looks awefully cold! As I finished that Everest book, your pictures reminded me again why I probably won't be interested:)

  2. Man, that is way out of my comfort zone. I'll run in those temps, but no sleeping (or reading). Sounds like you found a good place mentally - I guess we all find it in different places.


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