I have finished a couple of new art pieces.
They are up over in the Creations tab.
Have a look.
I have finished a couple of new art pieces.
They are up over in the Creations tab.
Have a look.
Andy took us a a tour of West Mountain for my birthday. The crew consisted of myself, Andy, Steve and a couple lost boys: Drew and Corey. Andy and I both love scrambling around West and have our eyes on some new and re-discovered boulders. Today’s mission was to climb 31 of these (for 31 great years) or at least as many as we could.
The birthday tour was a bit larger until time came to start hiking. Folks dropped out like flies. They just didn’t think scrambling over sketchy slabs, crawling into caves and tossing crash pads up and down cliffs sounded like fun. True we would probably be doing more hiking than bouldering but it’s an adventure and there are still a lot of climbs to be found at Hueco Tanks.
We started strong at Adventureland on the south end of West Mountain. We had climbed or at least projected 9 new problems. One ended up in the book but had no chalk, so new to us, and the other was a low start to an established problem. We were feeling good and thinking 31 problems might happen. And then Andy took us on his favorite trail, “The Trail of the Ancients.” It is a really neat route and one can traverse the whole mountain without setting foot on ground level. We hit up a problem Andy had found before called “Winged Cage.” I had seen this as well and wanted to come back. It is a pain to get to as it sits on top of West Mountain. The problem is hard but nice line.
The tour continued to the other side and top of West where Drew crushed “the Poacher.” We then dropped into a honey hole that I had found last time on tour. There are numerous problems in the “Well Site” type corridor. Several require head lamps. Andy and I climbed one, trading out the head lamp between tries. This corridor gets a lot of water flow and thus the rock was pretty filthy. A lot of work to be done here but worth it. It will be a good warm weather spot. No pictures from here, too dark!
Andy saved the best for last and took us to an overlooked bouldered we deemed “Alien Hole.” It felt hard but doable and look cool. Drew was getting close as we had to pack up in order to make happy hour at Julio’s.
Happy hour at Julio’s turned out to be about 30 climbers, sitting at long tables and occupying a large room. We made it in time to get a couple margaritas at half price and ordered $5 enchiladas! Although not planned, the evening turned out to be a great birthday party. A lot of people I had met and gotten to know traveling over the past year and climbing at Hueco, were there. The Julio’s staff even brought out complimentary, birthday sopapillas for all of us. Then they sang happy birthday. We passed the sopapillas around and all were in good spirits.
Thanks Andy and everyone for a great birthday!
Below are some of the problems were found and climbed
This was the first race I have ran since I hurt my foot back at the end of last summer and had to withdraw from the Headlands 50k. I’ve been getting in some good runs and the legs and foot have been good despite an occasional shin splint from overuse. I took three days off, had an acupuncture treatment and took care of myself so I’d feel ready for the race. I was feeling fairly competitive and wanted to see how well I could do if I actually tried.
Fortunately, the terrible, brown out, dust storms we had been having in the southern desert for the past few days stopped on Sunday morning. This was also the first day of daylight savings, which made the 8 am start pretty dark. Ben and I drove down from Las Cruces at around 6:30 am. West El Paso was in desolation at this hour, no coffee shops were open and the gas station was out of gas. I was glad I had eaten well before we’d left but Ben was getting a little hangry. I wanted to avoid any stomach issues and ate about 2 hours before race time. It turned out to be beneficial. Not only did Ben run without eating but he ran with a 45 pound backpack to get in some final training for the Bataan Memorial Death March next weekend. Crazy guy!
This was the first time I had ever been to the Franklin Mountains State Park. I knew there were trails and a little climbing but had just never ventured down here. The parking lot and starting line provided a very nice vista of the Organ Mountains and desert to the north. Apparently one could run the Sierra Vista Trail all the way from Las Cruces to where we were starting the race. That would be a cool but long run. Chris from Up and Running El Paso was directing this event and it turned out to be nice, low key outing. Approximately 60 or so participants showed up in the early morning cold for the race. I finally got to put a face to some of the El Paso trail runners (Ryan and Greg) that I’d been talking with online.
I still feel very unsure about how to race, especially in shorter races that I know I can finish but still have to pace myself. This race was 7.5 miles and mostly technical, single track trail. This type of trail is what I like but moving quick for that distance is still a little difficult. We started out on the road and I was probably 7 or 8 back and just feeling out the legs. I stretched and warmed up a lot and the shin felt good but the pavement felt strange in the Inov8 Trail Rocs I was wearing. I just did a review of these for Trail Runner magazine and they’re great on technical, loose terrain but feel weird on hard surfaces. Anyway, as soon as I hit the off road I felt good. The single track felt fast and I was enjoying the quick pace and jumping around on the trail. The cold, wind was making breathing a little difficult but I just kept moving at a a pace where I could stay aerobic and keep moving.
As usual, my legs didn’t really loosen up until about 2.5-3 miles in but by then they were also feeling the quick pace and almost cramped up on me. I passed a few folks and one guy was right on my tail until we got to the top of a hill. I kept moving and I no longer heard his footsteps behind me. Sometimes persistence pays off better than speed. Just keep moving was what I told myself. I was really enjoying the technical trail and the desert was opening up to grand vistas. I kept catching the front runners in my site as I rounded some corners. At one switchback, the first two guys were trekking off through the desert. I guess they didn’t see the pretty obvious turn in the trail, despite the bright pink flagging. I yelled at them to show them the trail but they kept going on the shortcut. This was a little unsettling but I kept moving.
I passed another guy at the top of a climb and he looked pretty worked. Only one more in front of me but he seemed to be going pretty strong. We made a turn toward the west and the best view of the trail was displayed. It was an amazing site as I ran down the fast, single track that hugged the hill side. I could see the guy in front and kept as fast a pace as I could but the legs were getting a little tired and I knew the last mile was a climb.
The last climb was runnable and my legs weren’t feeling too peppy but I managed to keep running up the hill with sites on the frontrunner. The wind was still blowing down the canyon and making movement and breathing arduous but the top and finish was near.
I crossed the finish line in 1 hr and 2 min. to take second overall, just a minute behind the first place. I felt good about the run and knew I had given my best but couldn’t help but think about how much that little short cut through the desert made for the first guy. Although I had read about race and trail ethics, this was the first time I’d ever come in contact with it and it made me think a little bit. Anyway, I still got my little plastic trophy and post race sandwich so it didn’t matter too much.
The Jack Rabbit was a fun race and good speed training (without touching a track or bothering with stop watches) for future races. such as the Jemez 50k in May! I’ll be back down to El Paso to run these beautiful trails.
The 20th annual Hueco Rock Rodeo took place on February 16th. It was even more fun than the past rodeos I’d been too. This time I volunteered for the weekend. I ended up setting up tons of banners, making pancakes with Fred Nicole and being a North Mountain guide/concierge. I love how the event is so low key and one is climbing and hanging out with folks from all over the world, pro climbers, new climbers and everyone in between, all in the beautiful, relaxing desert. Thanks to Melissa Strong and everyone else for putting on a great event.
The weekend had perfect weather for the rodeo. A huge pile of pallets were delivered for the raging bonfire on Saturday night. Everyone was fed thoroughly and Fred Nicole was a pleasure to meet and flip pancakes with. He was so grateful to have locals helping him make pancakes as he said, “I am European, I do not know about these pancakes.”
I took the Las Cruces crew around North Mountain all day and climbed nearly twenty Hueco classic problems from the list that Andy Klier had put together. Most of these were quite tall and long making for a fun, exciting and challenging day.
The New Belgium brews flowed heavy Saturday night at the post rodeo party and bonfire. A top notch grill crew including, Tim and Lindsey from Berkley (great couple that helped setup all weekend), fed the haggard and hungry climbers. The night carried on with lots of pallets being burned, kids jumping through the fire, a dyno competition with smack talk from the Lost Boys and DJ Cletus giving us some beats to dance to.
Upon a run in the woods
Tunnel of privet, brush teepee, bridges over swollen streams.
Bare deciduous forest, scattered evergreens; few leaves remain, faded, clinging to the silver maples.
Soft ground of the trail squishes, splashes and slides as concentration grows with each quick step up, across and down slippery root and rock.
A new stream has formed down the middle of the worn trail. I feel the recent soak inside my shoes. It is unavoidable and welcomed.
I pause by a bench to rest and enjoy the morning. Fog still floats in the distance, one fishing boat sits still off shore, the waves quietly flow into the bank.
Waves grow from an unseen force and begin to crash. The birds fly, swoop, dive, splash and call. The motor from an invisible boat roars. My heart holds it accelerated rhythm
The birds float on calm waves upon Percy Priest Lake.
Every Christmas, our neighbor adds more and more lights to his yard. I think 2012 had the most yet. It is quite the display. There is also a VIDEO.
Mousetail Landing State Park is located about an hour and a half south of Nashville, between Linden and Perryville, TN along the Tennessee River. Day use admission is free and the park has a couple of trail opportunities. Overnight backpacking to the two shelters requires an overnight permit. The park also offers river and picnic opportunities.
Abigail and I ran the eight mile Eagle Point trail on a chilly, January afternoon. It was about thirty seven degrees with only a slight amount of sunshine. Despite the chilly temperature, the slight bit of sunshine was a relief from the cold, cloudy and wet weather that has settled into the South lately.
For this chilly run I was bundled up in my running tights, a couple of shirts, windbreaker, beanie, mittens and my Mountain Masochists. I felt pretty good as long as I kept moving the chill was apparent when we would stop. I took pictures with my Motorola Atrix smartphone, which I carried in a Amphipod belt. The belt rides really well and I was surprised at the quality of the pictures. Despite significant wear, the Masochists also performed well on the wet and slippery trail.
This trail was one of the best trails I have been on. The trail begins by traversing hill sides and crossing gullies and streams on wooden bridges. The trail goes through some open, cedar glades and meadows and up onto a wooded ridge and connects to a loop trail. The trail continues up and down hills, through deciduous forests. The trail drops down from one of the overnight shelters and goes along the Tennessee River and climbs through thick forests and moss covered rock outcrops, above river bluffs until reaching the next shelter, which overlooks the river. The trail passes an old cemetery and back onto the first part of the trail.
Overall, the trail is of moderate difficulty with a lot of climbing up and down short hills and along ridges. The trail has some technical sections with exposed rocks and roots. During our run the trail was covered in leaves but the trail was well marked with blue blazes and trail signs. I highly recommend this trail if you’re in the West Tennessee area. It will be one I visit again.