So many months since my last post. After a busy spring and summer I think I am finally finished traveling for the year aside from some work trips. My travel was pretty frequent this year and got to visit some new places starting with Mexico City then ten days on the glaciers on the flanks of Mt. Denali. The flight into the Alaska range started what turned out to be a fun learning experience as preparation for an eventual attempt to climb the highest peak in North America.
Starting in Denali National Park, taking off from Talkeetna over the low lying plains and rivers gives a neat perspective of Alaska.
Then into the range. The plane has to split peaks so a day with limited cloud cover is a must to get in or out of the mountains.
Landing on skies on a glacier takes some skills, think landing with no breaks so you have to land uphill. Early spring the landing area
is down glacier at the Kahiltna International Airport but later spring the crevasses open and the airstrip moves up glacier making the return to base camp that much farther after the 2+ weeks it takes to attempt Denali.
Just learned that pot is legal in Alaska after seeing these ski mountaineers with their bong attached to life saving gear on harness.
4 nights in our camp here with the pink dome being our posh, i.e. dinning tent.
During the seminar we hiked out of camp most days attempted two other climbing objectives when we had clear weather.
Learning snow anchors and pulley systems was integral prior to being dropped into a crevasse for training and then pulling each other out. Fun and informative day at snow school.
Dragging sleds is how you move gear on Denali and it take some practice for sure.
This is the only living thing I saw aside from climbers and guides once we landed on the glaciers, no stone, no earth, just ice and mountaineers.
One day I will hold the flag up on the peak behind me above 20,000′ training complete.
Need to spot some pictures from the half marathon in Mexico City and from some of the wonderful cycling this summer then Portugal and Ironman Mallorca but will be later in the month. Kikulu market time hoping our fundraising goes well this quarter. More posts to come after my hiatus. Lots of training and brewing talk to post on.
Laying in bed this morning I was thinking it will be last warm comfortable night for awhile makes me wonder why I think mountaineering is a fun endeavor? The stories will last a life time but the pictures will pass. Seeing Alaska again reminded me of the wonderful trip I took with my father and brother so many years ago. The pictures below are river sunset in Talkeetna Alaska and from the Coastal trail in Anchorage.
That last trip was back to the days of film photos and I found this one of Luke and I almost 20 years ago on my first trip to Alaksa.
Almost time for breakfast then packing at the hangar and waiting for a weather window to fly on to the glaciers. Hoping this weather holds and we go.
Getting gear loaded and looking positive. Getting pretty excited.
Since I am rushing to get ready for my first big trip of the year I will not write much about the pictures below but am happy to report I have fallen in love with the state of Utah and that I went back and achieved the summit of San Jacinto despite the same snowy conditions that turned us back before.
Below are pictures from Utah, did some running around the capital and the temple, some hiking in southern Utah visited a few breweries and went bob sledding in a suit and bowtie. Wonderful weekend trip and the majesty of the Arches was mind blowing.
Then back to Souther California for another snowy attempt at the highest peak in the San Jacinto mountain range, this time went better since we avoided the wrong turn at the switch backs that got us so far off course before. Started with an interesting brewery in Redlands CA, then a great hike, flag on the hill, great view before the storm rolled in plus shameless selfie in the cold.
I will eventually get to posting about my five year mark and our growth culture at the office, the half in Mexico City, jumping out of an airplane, and the kick off to Ironman Mallorca training since those have been keeping me busy the last few weeks but need to get ready for Denali. Time to go through my packing lists again and get ready to head to the airport. Since I have a free morning there tomorrow will snap a few pictures and write about the small fortune I spent on high altitude cold weather gear I had to get despite living in a hot flat state. For dispatches from the training expedition seminar we can be followed here on the RMI Blog.
Having decided that a Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley, Alaska) attempt is in my future I decided to begin peak bagging when at all possible. To start this journey I decided to take a weekend and head to Idyllwild, CA. Idyllwild is at about 5,400 feet and is the kick off for the route of San Jacinto peak which is the highest in the San Jacinto mountain range and goes in via Mt. Marion. Having heard this was the best way up I was pretty stoked to give it a shot in the winter despite not knowing the trail or if it was marked up high to avoid the few feet of snow pack. Despite it being in the high 80s in Palm Desert the night before I still expected some snow on the trail. For preparation there really was only a couple trail reports from weeks earlier, all before the heavy snow fall in early February, so I could have been more prepared.
We headed out of Palm Desert about 04:00 expecting to check in at the ranger station and get our permit before dawn, here was my first failure. In my packing rush I failed to grab my head lamp and during the busy work week preceding the climb I had not gotten nearly enough sleep. So looking over the various warning signs at the Idyllwild Ranger station the commentary about the need for ice axes and crampons and the lack of trail marking made me nervous from the start. Due to the lack of light before dawn and lack of proper snow/ice gear we decided to doze in the car for an hour and grab coffee before hitting the trail after the sun rose. The trail is not supposed to be that long, being close to 6 miles from the winter road side parking to the summit, it is still tough considering it rises almost 5,000 ft in that short distance. I will not pour through all the detail of the hike up but rather display what it was like in photos below. It was tough considering we mostly just looked for other foot prints in the snow to find the trail which ultimately was not a good strategy leaving us shy of the peak by 3/4 of a mile and about 1,000 vertical feet.
The trail marks were few and far between since all the cairns were buried sort of like this sign.
We had a predetermined turn around of 12:45 at the latest since I really had no desire to risk being stuck out in the snow overnight with no gear, little light, and few if any real trail marks. The peak seemed so close but with 2-3 feet of snow pack and no real map, gps, or trail marks we just did not know how to get there fast enough. This coupled with the extreme vertical in semi-packed snow made everything over 8,000 ft a real challenge.
Reaching the bottom after the failure with an hour of daylight remaining was hard on the ego but reinforced that mountains are about the journey sometimes and not always the peak. I learned more about myself and what I can achieve based on my level of preparedness, even when that preparation falls woefully short. I would be curious so see the trail again in more favorable conditions but guess that will be another trip.
Utah is up next.
After having only mild success in 2015 at attaining my goals I have thought about resetting expectations. That coupled with failing my first event of the year and some other challenging realities of life made made me understand I do not always get what I have worked hard to achieve despite the effort. While this might make some feel disillusioned I think my parents set me up for understanding some of life’s challenges and making sure their children had the tools to overcome obstacles or even failure. They always used to say, “Life is not always fair”, not in a negative way but in one that said, if you fail you have to get up and try again, work harder next time.
This is an expectation I have to live by even when things are tough, this year will be no different, sure maybe I will slim down the list but it will be no less hard to accomplish.
- Tear Down the cottage and lay foundation for the new one. This includes cutting down the some of the trees that will be used in the building and sourcing any other family resources that can be incorporated into the new house.
- Buy no pre-packaged beer for the house, i.e. only drink what I make home brewing. While this may sound silly, it presents a planning challenge long term since if I was not ready I would have to wait a month to drink a beer I made, granted I get a carve out for growlers which are still gaining in popularity in Texas. Point of this is part environmental for less waste and part discipline.
- No fast food, take out, or food delivery to the house. So have to either cook which I love to do or go out to eat.
- Write and adhere to a budget
- Complete another Ironman and set a new PR doing so better than 13:12:35 for full course. Signed up for Mallorca Spain in the fall so training is starting now
- 3 New countries
- Spanish Level 1
- Paint a Self Portrait
- Baby sit for Nick and Winnie
- Take at least one class to learn something new
There are probably some other things I should do but I will leave it at this for now. Finished my first half marathon of 2016 today and feeling okay for athletic events for the year, now just some mountains and ironman and things should be good. Last weekend my failure was at the Ouray Ice Park in western Colorado, it is an amazing place and the only place I have ever seen “farmed” ice. Some pictures from the park and stunning drive from there to Denver, are below and hopefully those are a good start on a pretty good 2016.
As I grow and see my family and friends grow and move away or change in ways that I could never predict it always makes me a bit introspective as to how I can improve, be that day by day or year by year. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a habit of annual goal setting and I try and make sure that they can be attained but are hard to reach so in the next post or two will be the summary of 2015 and goals for 2016. I failed miserably on many of my goals last year but succeeded in others so have to move some from the 2015 list to the 2016 list but also recognize I will continue to improve my ability to set better quality and more thoughtful goals as the years go by.
-Year of Nothing New – Success, First and most significant, I spent 12 months and bought no new material goods. This was hard and I think I learned more than anything what I can live without rather than simply desiring a new toy, outdoor gear, automobile, whatever, it actually was not as hard as I thought. My expectation was that I would try and find things used but what ended up happening was that I adapted what I had to suit the need.
–Go Ruck Ascent perhaps with a stretch goal of also completing Go Ruck Heavy – Success, Ascent completed and not as hard as I thought but I did not complete a Go Ruck Heavy, will be added to the list for 2016.
–Ironman or Half Ironman (have not yet settled on where or when) – Half Ironman Austin completed, time could have been better but finished without injury.
-Live on a budget (will increase savings amount by 50%) – Failure, However I increased saving/investment but did not detail this out will be moved to 2016
-Take dancing lessons – Failure
-Complete Spanish level 1 – Failure
-Read one book per month – Failure, 5 of 12
-3 New Countries (Brazil, Argentina, and Chile) – Success plus Belize
-One significant physical event per month, stretch goal of qualifying for Boston marathon (50 min reduction on my marathon PR) – Partial success since suffered through knee injury, but still managed like 8 of 12 months. Granted there was no chance of increasing my speed with injury, did set a new marathon PR.
-More development activities for my team at the office (one per month) – Does one count haha, more but not nearly enough
-Paint another self portrait (hopefully better than my last one) -Failure
-Prepare the Maine summer cottage and make a long term plan for what to do, tear down or rehabilitate – Success but formal planning will be forth coming, have the outline/timeline but no architectural plans yet.
-Take at least 5 camping trips (not counting Patagonia) – Failure
-Cheer/volunteer support for at least 5 events where I am not participating – Failure
-Babysit for niece and nephew more often – Failure but I did get to play Santa which may have made up for this.
Next up the list for 2016. Things are looking good right now so expect a challenging list.
This Saturday morning I was up early for a weekend spin a round around the lake as I wait for the girl to get ready all I could think of was disappointment over making an appropriate decision. I was reminded of this by the fact that my running trail was closed for flooding. This may seem odd considering it has not been raining much in North Texas. I live in a part of DFW where the lakes are all a part of the flood control system, so when the water board decides to they open the locks and flood the local parks and other low lying areas. The reason this is relevant to me is the wrapping up of a year wrought with failures, some out of my control and some a direct cause of my action or inaction. Four events I signed up for were not or will not be completed this year. Sunday being the most significant by having to skip running the Dallas marathon due to what appears to be a fractured bone in my foot, likely the result of last weekends San Antonio Rock n Roll marathon. While my orthopedic did not say you can’t run, he said run at your own risk and after your finished we will put you in a boot cast for 6 weeks. This causes an emotional struggle for me since I already missed a Go Ruck challenge based on an human weakness and had two half marathons canceled for weather and poor planning. This is where the flood control ties into my human failure. The state of Texas decided it would have to let the water flow, closing businesses, trails and parks, in order to solve for the greater good long term, how should I solve for the greater good of an injury? Based on the fact that I may end up in a boot for 6 weeks anyway does 4 hours of misery matter to make it a full 5 marathons for 2016?
The ebbs and flows of my energy level are mostly dictated by accepting and overcoming challenges. I’ve been ebbing recently and even though my ebbs are far more active than some peoples flows it will still be a great concern to miss the race. Last weekend I decided to run the San Antonio marathon on a last minute whim, great weekend, saw the Spurs, walked the riverwalk and toured some breweries prior to the race which was plenty of fun and challenge but two days later the foot goes south and the orthopedic gives the news I expected. As I got up this Saturday, my muscles all healed and prepared for Sunday but it appears that it is my bones giving way this time.
Finishing this post from the spin bike (no impact cardio) I think I made the right flood control decision to allow myself time to heal. I wished my friends and fellow runners good luck and I’ll be back out there in 2016. Thinking I will shoot for the Ft. Worth ultra as a kick off for the year.
Did not seem like I have been too terribly busy this year but have certainly fallen behind blogging. As I sit up super early in the morning ready to start my day tomorrow I thought I would post a few pictures. All unedited so some may not be so great and I will try and caption them later but for now here we go.
Parts of June to Novemwber 2015
After failing on Whitney took a wonderful drive up the valley to give the Half Dome Cables a shot. The valley views in the summer are amazing, granted it crowded. First stop Devils Post Pile, columnar basalt formation. Is second in my opinion to Devils Tower but still pretty amazing site.
Tried a great beer in Portland before the Naked Bike Ride, (no pics on that one but I did wear a bow tie at least) and then got to attend a Timbers game such a great weekend.
Fun time with friends and family in Maine for the Forth, even with Adip trying to get some work done with Nikhil on board.
The grey house is my Uncles beautiful cottage in Searsport and was fun to come back and see where I spent so many summers growing up.
Managed a trip down to the tip of the Florida Keys this year was neat to visit Hemmingway’s house and see the southern end of the US along with the end of Route 1 which I have driven up north so many times.
This John Singer Sargent painting, El Jaleo, hangs in my favorite museum in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum which has been beautifully redone since my first visit 5 years ago and is the most amazing stop on the way to see a game at Fenway in the summer time.
Two times to see Weezer this summer both great as always.
Some Sammy time while dog sitting figured he should go on a bike ride around the lake with me and he like plush accommodations so I hooked him up.
Running the Pikes Peak Marathon was one of the largest accomplishments in an otherwise quite unproductive year and was totally worth it despite being the slowest marathon I could ever imagine.
Libby and Rob’s wedding in Maine was magical as I always imagined it would be. While I was very sad to lose a sister i was also so grateful to gain a brother like Rob and so happy to have his family as part of ours going forward.
Go Ruck Ascent…… Not as tough as I hoped for one of their expedition events but I really enjoyed it just wish it would have been coordinated so that we could have attempted more than one 14’er. Getting to the top of Humbolt Peak was amazing indeed but I feel like I need to climb more to be a decent hiker going forward. Really time to stop being so lazy and go for a GoRuck Heavy event, may kill me, or cripple me, or just make me feel like perhaps I have at least a touch of athleticism in me, well only if I finish of course.
The next few were really amazing, one man who will be a dear friend forever is Adam, he invited me last year to see KC pay in the world series and I did not get to go, this year we figured it out. To only skip an afternoon in the office to see what was the best ever first game in a world series going 14 innings, over five hours and for Kansas City to win in what would be the start of them bringing home the crown was indeed a site to see. Great seats great friends and too see the town I was born in win a World Series game was a memory to be cherished for the rest of my life.
Finally got out for some marathon trainning and see this guy defending the trail at mile 16 hahahah
Erin and I stopped on the way back to Texas after a 12 hour car ride to see Carlsbad Caverns still one of my favorite places in the southwest.
Had to sport the giant stache for a day was a fun experiment.
Trying to run a Half Ironman cold with no training sort of sucks, I still finished but dropped 30 minutes from. my last time in Austin due solely to my poor training schedule. Sort of hoping the same is not repeated in San Antonio this weekend and Dallas Marathon for next. probably no PR but a decent showing would be nice.
After a number of years thinking of it I have decided I need to pick up where grandmother left off and send some personal gift baskets, the first batch of cookies came out amazing so now once I make the real think hope they travel.
For only my second time in the Caribbean I had a great time and should try and make it a point to visit more often. Depart Friday and home Monday seemed like the perfect length of time to visit and still have a packed schedule without having to take too much time out of the office. The post will be primarily pictures since they show what fun there is to be had, in summary, beautiful resort, Victoria House, great fishing with Eloy, some wonderful snorkeling at the Mexican Rocks (nurse sharks and all), beautiful Mayan Ruins at Xunantunich, then some cave tubing, along with some good food and beach time. Was a good way to spend the weekend rather than the normal Memorial Day bbq’s in Dallas.
Ambergris Caye is a pretty magnificent place, expensive as are most islands but still a great time. Time to plan for the mountains next month and keep my fingers crossed that the knee will be better by the time I arrive in the Sierra Nevada’s.
Last weekend I decided to head to Big Bend National Park for the first time since probably 1999. It is pretty far away from home so getting there and back in a short weekend was tough but luckily I have good friends. I rented a giant SUV for weekend so it would be comfortable to sleep when not driving.
Arrival at dawn required coffee before hiking since the overnight drive was tough.
Hiking the Window Trail in Big Bend at dawn and looking out from the Chisos Basin and goofing with friends was such a great start to the day.
From there we were off to Marfa for some art and travel farther west.
After a full trip in a short time we got back on the road home for the long drive back. We probably averaged just over a 100mph the whole weekend and managed to see so much, drive just over 1600 miles in 40 hours. Was a pretty good weekend. More to come.