Monday, May 20, 2013

Grandeur Peak Fun Hammerfest and the Mighty Bear

Saturday was the annual Grandeur Peak Fun Run, which is always a good time.  It starts out with a bang:  from the Parley's trailhead it goes up the west ridge for 3300 or so feet in a couple of miles.  Then a frenzied descent on a moderately technical trail, 2+ miles of flat trail blasting, a quick steep climb over a low pass, another (more) technical descent, and a final blast back to the trailhead for the slowest 10 mi race I have done.  And Saturday's rainy weather made it that much more interesting than usual. 

At the "gun" the indominable Jason Dorais  - celebrating a birthday (a day or two late) - led us all up the only runnable section of the climb and then we hit the steeps where it became a painful march.  I chose to use the BD carbon trekking/running poles due to the potential for mud, but it turns out that in the rain that climb is rocky enough that there wasn't too much slippage (that came later!).  But givin'er with your arms on those steep climbs seems to help a bit.    As we climbed into the mist Jason literally walked away from the rest of us, pausing only long enough to yell back once with a token "C'mon Tom!" Oh right, here I come; I'll just turn my pacemaker up to 220!  Soon enough, even his hunter-orange shirt disappeared into the cloud.

I summited sitting in 4th place right at my fastest time ever and started charging down, knowing that a) I couldn't catch Jason, b) I might be able to catch Christian and the other guy 20 or 30 secs in front of me,  and c) the fleet-footed Derek would be raging down the descent wanting to mow me down.  Soon enough I moved into 2nd, but not long after hitting the flats I got caught by yet another guy who provided incentive for me to keep up the tempo to keep him in sight.  We hit the "Bambi trail" to do the final climb, which we all thought would be a grease-fest in the rain, and sho nuff, it was.  I re-engaged my poles, and between those and hauling up on the stout scrub oaks was able to grovel up the trail, all the while feeling bad that I and all my compatriots were doing months'-worth of damage to the trail in about 20 minutes.  The steep, twisty, gully descent on the backside was treacherously wet and slick as well: I had gone flying after greasing off a rock in there the prior afternoon.  But I thought I was doing ok in there despite the slickness; that is, until Derek pretty much rear-endered me as he was going at least twice as fast!  He kindly refrained from honking, flashing his lights, and yelling "slow traffic keep right" for a bit longer, 'til I finally moved over and watched in awe as he blasted down the final greasiest, gnarliest section at least twice as fast as I did. 

Not surprisingly, Jason didn't let a little goo get in the way of him shattering my year-old course record by 7-odd minutes, clocking 1:37.   On a dry day I'm sure it would have been at least a few minutes faster, if not more than a few.  For both of you who might possibly care, my splits were approximately 25ish to the cutoff trail, 47:45 to the top, 1:07+ to pipeline, 1:20+ to rattlesnake, and about 1:48 to the finish. 

When I was running competitively on the roads, track, and golf courses long ago I remember wishing that there were more "adventurous" races to do, and now having such a great one that starts only 3 miles from my house is a special treat (not to mention we had good Northwest-esque mist, pouring rain, dripping trees, and mud!).  And the fact that it's a bandit race that has no entry fee, finishes with a great pancake feast, and has some folks who throw on extra "laps" both before and after the race is a testament to a great community.  Many thanks to Erik Storheim and others who make this (non!) event happen. 

Sunday I was psyched that the Scotsman, Andrew Reich, and Zack Beck were keen to rally up to take advantage of the recreational releases on the mighty Bear river up in southeast Idaho, some of the best class 4-4+ whitewater in "Utah"!  The lack of good whitewater in our fair state and loss of pards for a variety of reasons has meant a lot less paddling - especially of anything challenging - and even though it's May most of us - except Zack, who had been up there a few weeks prior - we had to shake the spiders out our boats before hopping in. 

there's been far too little of mounting up the boats lately!
They turn the spigots on at 10, and we were there with the shuttle done ready to give 'er a go. 

I was psyched to see that longtime SLC paddler Rolf was sporting the original CFS shoes from that I did for Patagonia, circa 1997:

Rolf mentioned that he was psyched that they fit his low-volumed feet; it's quite a "coincidence" that they also fit my low-volumed feet quite well too!

And I had a pair of the follow up Play Boots:
these fit a little wider.....

and here is the latest/greatest - 15 years later! - from Five Ten:

a good adaptation
The Bear has a ton of fun class 3-4 boulder gardens, and like all "good" runs has one rapid that's a good step up from the rest.  BooBoo is a fairly-stompin and longish rapid that has an unusually-munchy guardian hole at the top.  A few years ago I didn't treat the hole-avoidance move with enough respect and was quite humbled by the ferocious thrashing I got before finally exiting sans boat to take my lumps in the mayhem that lies below.  A few of our crew portaged, and a few gave it a go.  Two made "the cut" just fine but Rolf didn't quite give'er enough, and the hole proved that the last few years has not made it any less sticky.   Fortunately the ensuing swim was about as short and painless as can be hoped for there. 

Given my rustiness and the lack of desire to get my confidence hammered I portaged down to just below the hole, where I found a nice place to slide in and go from zero to 60 instantly in the heart of the rapid, which worked out fine. 

If you're lucky and efficient, it's very reasonable to get back up to the top of the run and fire another lap.  We were both, so were able to paddle the section again well before the spigots got twisted shut.  Upon arrival at BooBoo I debated the options, and decided that despite the lack of paddling lately that my head was in it and I was ok to make "the move":

the hole is just downstream of my tail.  I'm givin'er hard to move looker's right to avoid it, and still caught the corner  
It was interesting to have such a distinctly-different set of intensities from Saturday to Sunday:   grinding up Grandeur with a heart rate at a barely-sustainable level, trying to really motor on the flats despite legs protesting hard after being asked to climb and then descend at top speed, and trying not to crash on greasy descents were all pretty intense sensations, but pulling out of the eddy to fire down a rapid for one minute was just as intense as a 2 hour effort. 

trying to focus!
Thanks again to Zack, Andrew, and T. Scotsman for being willing to do an outing that is right on the edge of the drive-fun time ratio! 

and then in between these fun little outings we were able to celebrate the birthdays of two of our favorite people, Scott and Rachel:

The Bula Headband makes yet another appearance!

 with a great posse:

An awesome weekend of yuks galore!

thanks to Steve, Rachel, and Camille for the pics. 

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