Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Winfield wanderings

So I've heard rumors and hope someone in the know can clear things up for me.  I heard a few months back about a "parallel trail" to the Winfield Road that was being built to help alleviate congestion during this section of the LT100.  When I heard this, I assumed there would be a ribbon cut right next to the road, but as I drove in to Winfield to do some Nolan's scouting last night, I saw no such thing. 

This morning I thought I'd sniff around Sheep Gulch and get a look at the south side of Hope Pass.  About 1/3 of a mile in, though, I found a trail splitting off to the left.  It looked interesting, so I followed it, not sure if it was going to be of the uphill or downhill variety.  Turns out it simply traversed the Clear Creek valley a couple hundred feet above the Winfield road.  It had more ups, downs, turns, and other trail-ish stuff than the road, and ran about 3 min per mile slower.  It climbed from 10,200' to about 10,550' at its high point before dropping down to a 4WD about a half mile west of Winfield proper.  It was fairly new and well-maintained until just before that junction - looks like it was constructed in the past month or so.  However, it wasn't complete - it turned into a social trail for maybe a quarter to a half mile on its west end.  It also dropped onto the road later than I had expected.

So I'm wondering a few things.  Is this the trail I heard about?  I assume so.  Are there plans to change the course to take advantage of this trail?  Will distance be cut off elsewhere or will the course just get a little longer?  And how much slower would the race run if this trail is used?  (I'd estimate 10-15 minutes)

Sheep Gulch TH is bottom center.  "Parallel trail" starts where the red line takes a sharp left, 10:30ish direction

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lake City Lessons, Tenmile almost Traversed, Nolans run-thru countdown

To not mention the Lake City 50 would do disservice to a wonderful ultra, wonderful town, wonderful time with wonderful friends.  I do believe that the benefit of recency has fleeted, though, so I will give the quite abridged version.  Maybe I should have titled this:  how to compound a problem by overcompensating for it, how to be a bonehead, how not to do your nutrition, or plain ol how to try hard to do the right thing and still bungle it.

I wanted to not pull a Matt Carpenter by putting it all out there in late June just to find the tank hadn't refilled by Pb.  Knowing how hard it would be to not all-out race SJS, I figured I could force the issue by spending uber time in the mountains preceding the race.  Interesting philosophy; I was miserably sore when I woke up on Saturday morning.  With no desire to push on trashed legs, I quickly settled in way back of the leaders.  I estimate I was in 50th place by the time we hit the trails at mile 2.5. 

Everyone around me settled down eventually, and I rolled into the Williams Aid station feeling better than I did at the start.  I had 'gotten ahead' on nutrition, having put down some gels to go along with a very concentrated mixture of Hammer Perpetuem.  Up the Carson climb, I found a VERY comfortable pace, but it still found me reeling in runner(hiker) after runner. 

Once on the divide, I began to wonder how things were shaking out and even considered seeing what was under the hood.  Around mile 28, a spectator informed me I was in 8th place.  I could see 3 or 4 shapes up over the next ridge.  How did THAT happen?  About the same time I decided to throw down a little bit, my nutrition began to fall apart.  I realized my Perpetuem mixture was beginning to haunt me - just the thought of another sip made me nauseous, while I began to crave plain ol H20 like crazy. 

At the Yurt aid, I attempted to catch up and put down a large quantity of water.  Things seemed to be more under control until I realized that none of the water I drank was going anywhere - it was still sloshing around in my gut.  Probably needed some salt!  The steep downhill from mile 35 to the Slum aid station saw me give back a good half-dozen places as my stomach began cramping bad enough to force me into walking. 

When I pulled into Slum, I took a HUGE pull straight from a Morton's shaker and washed it down with as much water as I could handle - which wasn't much, considering how much was sitting in my stomach at the time.  Within a mile from Slum, I discovered two things.  #1 - yes, I was correct in assuming I was sodium deficient.  The major bloating and such I had experienced went away, and suddenly I found myself able to sweat again.  #2 - I was now way too rich in sodium and thirstier than I can ever remember being.  I had just jettisoned my second water bottle at Slum and had sucked the one I had dry within the first mile after Slum.  WTH.  I walked/staggered nearly every step from mile 41 to the Vickers aid, losing a few more places in the process.  If there had been an easy way to DNF here, I would've done it in a heartbeat.  I would've drank water from a rancid pond had there been one.  I would've even drank a PBR.

I pulled into Vickers at the same time as past champ David Phillips.  He was having a rough day as well.  We spent a good five minutes at Vickers, just trying to catch up on hydration, food, and life in general.  I bounced back a little bit in the remaining few miles, but the damage had been done.  I staggered to the finish in 14th place, 10:31 after I started.  My goal of not trashing myself had not been met - I felt pretty awful upon crossing the line.

In the ensuing week, I've bounced back fairly well.  I took Sunday and Wednesday off.  Got a pretty good (for me) effort in on Quandary Thursday, getting up in 65 and change.  Spent nearly 10 hours above treeline on Friday as I got in three thirteeners most of the Tenmile Traverse before bailing at Peak 4 due to weather.

Quandary's reclusive north face

Treeline in McCullough Gulch

Peak 10, looking south towards 9, 8, 7, etc


Not your standard mountaineering route

Peak 8, looking east to Breck

I think this must've been the view south from Peak 5 or so.  Pacific should be the pointy one to the right and further off than the other pointy one, Peak 10. 

After 7 hours, my reward finally sat in front of me - the fun scramble from Peak 4 to Peak 1.  Shortly after this picture was taken, it got dark and thunder-y real quickly, and I bailed east just past the low point of the ridge

Heading out to the Arkansas River Valley tonight to do some last-minute scouting for the Nolan's course.  Looks like Brandon and I will have some company.  Promises to be a good time, that's for sure.  Happy 4th to everyone, and I'll see you all in a week.