Posts in Category: Etcetera

The 2014 Old Gabe 50K

Old Gabe ridge singletrack adorned with Larkspur and Arrowleaf Balsamroot.

Old Gabe ridge singletrack adorned with Larkspur and Arrowleaf Balsamroot.


Ahh, summer. It comes and it goes around here. It’s been a while (recently married! and a house purchase!) but here are some late thoughts on my first official ultra. The Old Gabe did not go as I had expected but I still finished and learned quite a bit in the process. Held on the summer solstice with perfect weather, the OG50 provided participants a full-value run in the mountains. The week prior it was snowing up high and raining down low so a break for June 21 was very much appreciated. The course was a little wet in places, but a lot of it was dry and somewhat runnable. Some of it not so.

Running when I could (this and most of the photos are  courtesy of Julia)

Running when I could (this and most of the photos are courtesy of Julia)


Sypes Ridge

Sypes Ridge

The race was rough and I experienced cramping early on that I then fought for the next 20 miles of the race. Much of this was due to an early and fast ascent-descent-ascent. By the time I was cresting Middle Cottonwood’s Saddle Pass for the second time (mile 12), my quads ceased working as I had expected them to. This was awfully disconcerting and it took me a few minutes to get going again. I still somehow held on and managed a sub-8 hour finish despite the cramp troubles. I kept the pace as manageable as possible and stuck to a good regiment of GU, GU Roctane, Bolt Chews, electrolyte pills, and water. There was mud, blood, snow, sweat, abundant stream crossings, wildflowers, wildlife, amazing volunteers, and great company. Even a stout 7-year old Scott Creel 50K record was broken by a very fast, Jim Walmsley of Black Eagle, MT! (results here)

Around mile 20 or so on the Old Gabe

Around mile 20 or so on the Old Gabe


Regarding gear, I’ll tell you what worked out nicely. I’ve been happy with these for numerous training runs as well as for the race. I’ll also be using them for the upcoming Rut 50K. After sitting pretty deep on the wait list for months as penance for a late registration, I recently received an email notice with entry confirmation. I am very excited and appreciative to be able to compete in such a world-class event here in my backyard. The Rut (VK, 12K, 50K) is hosted by The North Face athletes and fellow Montanans, The Mikes (Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote). It is part of the Skyrunner World Series and will host a deep field of elite mountain runners from across the globe. It’s bound to be a blast! Anyway, here’s the gear highlights from an otherwise pretty difficult Old Gabe 50K:
Sypes Ridge. Jurek Essential helping me grind it out.

Sypes Ridge. Jurek Essential helping me grind it out.


Ultimate Direction is the standout. I’ve been using numerous products of theirs for a couple of years now and I’m rarely disappointed. The two winners this time around are the Jurek Essential and the Jurek Grip. Both are lessons in simplicity and are obviously well thought-out pieces. The Grip is a no-frills 15g, 20 fl oz handheld solution. The Essential is a 59g waist belt that has two fixed pockets (one stretch and one nylon) as well as a small, stretchy, removable valuables/electrolyte pocket. It is built on a 3/4″ belt and can be worn next-to-skin and over a shirt. I personally carry a small emergency/FAK, 2-4 extra gels, one packet of chews, and electrolyte pills in the Endure with room to spare. There is virtually no bounce and I barely notice it is there for dozens of miles on end. It had become a staple of my mountain running kit. Paired with the Jurek Grip, I have quite the duo to get through most ultras that have regular aid.
Jurek Grip (upper left) and Jurek Essential (below), with example of what the belt will easily hold

Jurek Grip (upper left) and Jurek Essential (below), with example of what the belt will easily hold


So that’s it for now. It’s three weeks until The Rut and it’ll be taper time soon. Summer is winding down here with rapidly dropping temps and days of rain. I’ve got more than I had bargained for this go round, so I’m looking forward to the changing of seasons and the upcoming snow. But until then, there’s some more mountain running to be had!
Bridger ridge running, early August '14

Bridger ridge running, early August ’14


Bridger ridge running, late August '14

Bridger ridge running, late August ’14

 

Beasts of burden and a happy 2014!

Fox Creek cabin, New Years Eve

Fox Creek cabin, New Years Eve

Over the last few days Julia and I have spent a night in the Yellowstone backcountry and then for the New Year, an overnight at the Fox Creek cabin in the northern Gallatin range. Both trips have been via metal-edged XC skis with lightweight packs over easy to advanced terrain. For such outings we’re both on Fischer S-Bound series skis with 56mm NNN manual bindings paired with this season’s Fischer Offtrack 3 BC boots. These particular setups do have their shortcomings (flimsy plastic bindings, lack of much downhill control) but the compromises and limitations are OK so long as they are used in the proper conditions. The fore-aft efficiency of movement with these XC ski rigs is great though and for that we are appreciative. We probably aren’t going to push them too far based on previous breakage issues – hence an eight mile YNP round trip and a twelve mile ski to Fox Creek and back.

Into the great wide open (photo: Julia)

Into the great wide open (photo: Julia)

Julia along S Cottonwood Creek on the approach to Fox Creek cabin

Julia along S Cottonwood Creek on the approach to Fox Creek cabin

The overnight in Yellowstone was quite sublime with us experiencing a nice range of weather from bluebird to blowing and snowing. And waking to the sound of wolves howling is fairly unique in the lower 48. Skiing amongst huge bison is also quite fun, until a small herd sneaks up on you. While skiing along the Slough Creek trail, which is also a bison freeway, I joked that it be funny if we encountered a herd along the narrow corridor of a trail that we were attempting to ski up. And sure enough, on the way down I turned around only to see a bison jam directly behind Julia. I can only imagine what those huge beasts were thinking upon seeing us flailing down their path on skinny skis! So we politely stepped aside behind some convenient boulders and watched as they passed by to the valley. Not your everyday traffic jam to say the least.

Julia and the first of many bison

Julia and the first of many bison

Our next backcountry outing was on New Year’s eve to the Fox Creek Forest Service cabin which is located six or more miles out the S. Cottonwood Creek drainage near Bozeman. Unless you really have to, don’t pay for the cabin is my recommendation for future parties. I’ve stayed in plenty of cabins – hell, I grew up in one, but this one takes the cake. Not in a good way. From the broken windows, rancid cots, and the overflowing outhouse, to the likelihood of hantavirus and the highly hazardous wood stove, it was not worth a red cent. But the experience is most of it, and we somehow made it work with a crackling fire, homemade mulled wine (!), homemade fish pie and garlic baguette, chocolate, and some bubbly to ring in the 2014 New Year. Here’s to hoping that you all had a lovely 2013 and wishing everyone a wonderful 2014! Keep calm, keep crushing, keep pushing, and keep carrying on.

Skiing into Slough Creek, YNP (photo: Julia)

Skiing into Slough Creek, YNP (photo: Julia)


Julia leaving Fox Creek

Julia leaving Fox Creek

Slough Creek camp

Slough Creek camp

Happy Winter Solstice

Happy Solstice everyone!

Happy Solstice everyone!


Wishing everyone a great winter solstice! Here’s a few shots of Julia and myself celebrating today on our Dynafit setups in the northern Bridger Mountain backcountry. I hope that you, too got to enjoy this first day of winter. Cheers folks and happy holidays!
Julia on the skin up, looking sharp as usual

Julia on the skin up, looking sharp as usual


Rippin skins (photo: Julia)

Rippin skins (photo: Julia)


Shredding (photo: Julia)

Shredding (photo: Julia)

Making the most of fall

Julia following goat tracks high in the Bridger Mountains

Julia following goat tracks high in the Bridger Mountains


Panorama of Bridger Mountain ridge looking south and west (click thru for full image)

Panorama of Bridger Mountain ridge looking south and west (click thru for full image)


I am very thankful to live in such a wonderful valley, surrounded by mountain ranges on nearly all sides. The possibilities often seem endless and that is because, quite likely, they are. Some months epitomize this, and November did not let down. This month has been a mixed bag for weather, with a few fronts that dropped early snow in the Bridgers and surrounding hills, and then a good mix of freeze/thaw in Hyalite that has brought some great early season ice.

Making my way up Twin Falls WI3, Hyalite

Making my way up Twin Falls WI3, Hyalite


Climber on Twin Falls, Hyalite

Climber on Twin Falls, Hyalite

These fluctuations in weather have allowed for a mix of skiing, ice climbing, and even some high mountain running. It has been absolutely great. November has yielded a few hundred meters of water ice, over 13K vertical feet of human-powered skiing and over 20K vert of trail running so far. Julia and I have even managed to put in some miles on the XC skis! It’s been a productive month and an awesome transition into what may soon be winter here in Montana. Words often don’t describe…

Morning skin up the Apron at Bridger Bowl

Morning skin up the Apron at Bridger Bowl


Cold smoke and bluebird (!!), Northern Bridger Mountains

Cold smoke and bluebird (!!), Northern Bridger Mountains


Julia XC ski testing with Ross Peak behind

Julia XC ski testing with Ross Peak behind

Don't forget the headlamps! Sunset over Tobacco Root Mountains

Don’t forget the headlamps! Sunset over Tobacco Root Mountains

A Year of Hyperlite Mountain Gear

The Great One, Bridger Mtns, MT. 2400 Porter Pack. June 27, 2013

The Great One, Bridger Mtns, MT. 2400 Porter Pack. June 27, 2013

For just over two years I have been involved in product testing, feedback, and the design process at Hyperlite Mountain Gear in Biddeford, Maine. This has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience, as HMG is pioneering new ground and questioning the status quo in the outdoor industry. If you aren’t familiar, they are providers of lightweight, durable cuben fiber products for efficient movement in the outdoors. HMG is part of a small, but influential group of USA-based manufacturers that are pushing the envelope regarding how we think of gear.

HMG

HMG

 

I have now proudly been a HMG ambassador for the last year and thought it was the right time to summarize a year of mountain use with their products. Summer is coming to a close here in Montana, and it is a perfect time for reflection. HMG has been a pleasure to work with – kindly responding to feedback along the way and showing this in revised/often improved products. I wish them continuing success in all of their ventures!

Jerome Rock Lakes, Spanish Peaks MT. 5x8' Flat Tarp and 1600 Summit Pack. Oct 14, 2012

Jerome Rock Lakes, Spanish Peaks MT. 5×8′ Flat Tarp and 1600 Summit Pack. Oct 14, 2012

This pictorial representation begins in August 2012 and continues with images from every month of the year, until Aug 2013. A huge thanks to Mike and Dan St. Pierre, along with the rest of the crew at HMG! I humbly present to you a full year of my backcountry use with their mighty-fine gear:

AUGUST 2012:

La Mer de Glace et les Grandes Jorasses, France. 1600 Stuff Pack. Aug 8, 2012

La Mer de Glace et les Grandes Jorasses (farthest on R), France. 1600 Stuff Pack. Aug 8, 2012 (photo: Julia)

SEPTEMBER 2012:

The Grand Teton, WY. Orange 3400 Porter Pack prototype. Sept 23, 2012

The Grand Teton, WY. Orange 3400 Porter Pack prototype. Sept 23, 2012 (photo: Julia)

OCTOBER 2012:

Beehive Peak, Spanish Peaks MT. 1600 Summit Pack. Oct 7, 2012.

Beehive Peak, Spanish Peaks MT. 1600 Summit Pack. Oct 7, 2012 (photo: Julia)

Twin Falls WI3, Hyalite Canyon MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Oct 28, 2012

Twin Falls WI3, Hyalite Canyon MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Oct 28, 2012

NOVEMBER 2012:

Feeding the Cat WI3, Hyalite Canyon MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Nov 11, 2012

Feeding the Cat WI3, Hyalite Canyon MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Nov 11, 2012

DECEMBER 2012:

Lower Greensleeves WI3, Hyalite Canyon MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Dec 17, 2012

Lower Greensleeves WI3-, Hyalite Canyon MT. 2400 Ice Pack (look closely). Dec 17, 2012

JANUARY 2013:

S Brackett Creek, Bridger Mtns MT. 1600 Metro Pack. Jan 12, 2013

S Brackett Creek, Bridger Mtns MT. 1600 Metro Pack. Jan 12, 2013 (photo: Julia)

FEBRUARY 2013:

E Fork Hyalite Canyon, MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Feb 10, 2013

E Fork Hyalite, Gallatin Mtns MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Feb 10, 2013 (photo: Julia)

MARCH 2013:

G1 WI3-4. Hyalite Canyon, MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Mar 27, 2013

G1 WI3-4. Hyalite Canyon, MT. 2400 Ice Pack. Mar 27, 2013

APRIL 2013:

Bozeman, MT. Revised 1600 Summit Pack prototype. Apr 10, 2013

Bozeman, MT. Revised 1600 Summit Pack prototype. Apr 10, 2013

MAY 2013:

Hyalite Canyon, MT. 1600 Summit Pack. May 16, 2013

Twin Falls, Hyalite Canyon, MT. 1600 Summit Pack. May 16, 2013

JUNE 2013:

Beartooth Mtns, MT. 2400 Porter Pack. Jun 1, 2013

Beartooth Mtns, MT. 2400 Porter Pack. Jun 1, 2013 (photo: Julia)

Garnet Meadows, Grand Teton NP. 2400 Porter Pack. Jun 8, 2013

Garnet Meadows, Grand Teton NP, WY. 2400 Porter Pack. Jun 8, 2013

Blaze Mountain, Spanish Peaks MT. 2400 Porter Pack. Jun 30, 2013 (photo: M. McAlpine)

Blaze Mountain, Spanish Peaks MT. 2400 Porter Pack. Jun 30, 2013 (photo: M. McAlpine)

JULY 2013:

Skyline Arete (5.6, II), Gallatin NF MT. 1600 Summit Pack. July 19, 2013

Skyline Arete (5.6, II), Gallatin NF MT. 1600 Summit Pack. July 19, 2013 (photo: E. Stewart)

Alaska Basin, Grand Tetons. 2400 Porter Pack. July 24, 2013

Alaska Basin, Grand Tetons WY. 2400 Porter Pack. July 24, 2013 (photo: Julia)

AUGUST 2013:

Blackmore Lake, Gallatin NF MT. 1600 Summit Pack. Aug 4, 2013

Blackmore Lake, Gallatin NF MT. 1600 Summit Pack. Aug 4, 2013 (photo: Julia)

Lake Ellen Wilson, Glacier NP. 5x8' Flat Tarp and 2400 Porter Pack (not shown). Aug 16, 2013

Lake Ellen Wilson, Glacier NP, MT. 5×8′ Flat Tarp and 2400 Porter Pack (not shown). Aug 16, 2013

Twelve months and many hundreds of miles of use in the backcountry. Thus far, well done HMG. Thanks for pushing the envelope…and please do keep up the good work!