2011 Adventure Run Recap

2011 was another great year for adventure running with lots of trips to the High Sierra and a couple in the North Cascades of Washington State. It was great to venture into some of the most remote regions in both ranges and see terrain I have never seen. I’m already looking forward to adventures in 2012 but here are some photos and links to full reports from the adventures of this past year. See 2010 recap here.

  1. Cone Peak “Sea to Sky” - January 29th: Second annual trip from the Big Sur Coast up to 5,155 ft Cone Peak with spectacular views and a redwood canyon. I’ve dreamed of doing this run when there is fresh snow atop Cone Peak so we’ll see if I can get lucky with timing this year. 
  2. Winter Alta Peak – January 31st: Amazing views of the Great Western Divide on this snowshoe trip out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park. 
  3. Bear Creek Spire & Mount Dade – July 3rd: My second visit to this lovely basin with picturesque alpine lakes and rugged alpine beauty. 
  4. Mount Sill – July 4th: My second time up 14,159 ft Mount Sill, known as the best viewpoint in the High Sierra. The route features a crossing of the Palisade Glacier, largest body of ice remaining in the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Sill, North Palisade and Thunderbolt Peak. 
  5. Mount Lyell & Mount Maclure – July 9th: Improved my time by 65 minutes to 8:50 roundtrip for the climb of these two peaks that are the roof of Yosemite!  
  6. The Whaleback & Big Wet Meadows – July 23rd:  A 50 mile adventure run up Cloud Canyon and Big Wet Meadows to climb Whaleback, one of the most remote spots in the High Sierra. Incredible! 
  7. Primus, Austera & Eldorado – July 30th: Colin Abercrombie and I toured the Eldroado Ice Cap climbing Primus Peak, Austera Peak and Eldorado along the way. We started at 2 am and finished at 5:40 pm for a 15:40 day. It has been since 2005 that we explored the ice cap towards Austera so it was nice to return to this scenically stellar region and explore a new area beyond Austera to the North Klawatti Glacier and Primus Peak.
  8. West McMillan Spire – August 1st: Awesome climb of this impressive summit in the Southern Pickets in a new FKT of 8:14 roundtrip.  
  9. Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop – August 6th: An “instant classic” adventure run of a 50+ mile loop in the remote Northern Yosemite region beginning at Twin Lakes, and including five passes, the Benson Lake riviera and a summit of Volunteer Peak. I’ll definitely be returning to do this one again! 
  10. Milestone & Midway – September 3rd: An adventure run to climb Milestone Mountain (13,641 ft) and Midway Mountain (13,666 ft) along the Great Western Divide, two of the most remote points in the High Sierra. Milestone Creek and Basin are exceptionally scenic with lovely alpine lakes and tarns, polished granite, and the towering peaks of the Great Western Divide.  
  11. TRT-Flume Trail 27 Mile Loop – September 10th: Great 27+ mile loop in the northeast part of Lake Tahoe with nice trails and awesome views. 
  12. Eagle Scout Peak & Kaweah Gap – September 25th: An adventure run to Eagle Scout Peak via Kaweah Gap in 9:38 roundtrip from Crescent Meadows. Eagle Scout Peak is located just south of Kaweah Gap along the Great Western Divide in a remote region of Sequoia National Park. The climb of the 12,000 ft peak entails over 45 miles roundtrip and 8,000+ ft of elevation gain. While it’s a long way just to Kaweah Gap along the High Sierra Trail (21 miles from Crescent Meadow), the scenery is phenomenal and well worth the effort. The sapphire blue of Hamilton Lakes and the towering granite walls of Angel Wings and the Valhallas are truly magnificent.  
  13. Mount Dana – October 16th: A quick climb up this summit near Tioga Pass for early morning light on freshly snow covered peaks of the Yosemite high country. 
  14. Vogelsang Peak – October 16th: The afternoon part after Mount Dana was a climb of Vogelsang, with great trails and nice views. 
  15. Mount Conness via Young Lakes – October 23rd: Another spectacular fall day in the Sierras with an extremely scenic and pleasant climb of Mount Conness via Young Lakes. The route we took is one of the longer approaches to the mountain, but the views of Tuolumne Meadows and gorgeous Young Lakes along the way more than compensated. I did not have any expectations for Young Lakes but they turned out to be one of the highlights of the day and we spent considerable time at the main lower lake both on the trek in and on the way out. New snow on the surrounding cliffs of the Young Lakes cirque added to the beauty and this is a place I will definitely be returning to explore.
  16. Mount McDuffie & Ladder Lake – October 30th: My favorite adventure run of the year, Ladder Lake along the way to Mount McDuffie is one of the most rugged and wild corners of the High Sierra that I have seen. While the ascent of Mount McDuffie might not be the most aesthetic, the summit provides a magnificent vantage of most of the Palisades, the Ionian Basin, and Le Conte Canyon

Brazen Racing Summit Rock Half

The Brazen Racing Summit Rock run was another great Brazen event at Sanborn County park in the hills above Saratoga. I ran at this gorgeous venue in June at the Trail Quake event and couldn’t resist running these lushly forested trails one more time this year. The course is different than the Trail Quake event as it is a pure out-and-back with a couple extra climbs thrown in along the Summit Rock Loop. It was a solid effort for me and I felt good throughout finishing in 1:31:47.

It was another beautiful December day with crisp conditions pre-race but very comfortable once the run got going with warm sunshine piercing the redwood forest. The San Andreas trail switchbacking up to Skyline is lovely mix of redwoods, douglas fir and madrone. There was a thick coat of needles and leaves on the trail providing an ultra cushioned surface and a very autumn feel which is not always manifested in coastal California. Once atop Skyline Ridge, there was copious branch debris on the trail from recent winds and a few trees down, but thankfully not too much of an encumbrance. The turnaround was on the single track just past the dirt parking lot for the Summit Rock Loop. Once I crested the hill out of the Summit Rock Loop I knew it was largely downhill and I got into a great rhythm on the Skyline Trail. The descent through Sanborn Park back to the finish area was interesting with tight switchbacks and runners from the shorter events to pass but it seemed like everybody was enjoying the morning on the beautiful trails. Congrats to all the participants!

As usual, Brazen Racing did a fantastic job organizing the event, including superb course marking, awesome volunteers, great photography of all the participants, a tasty spread at the finish area, and a super cool shirt design with an eagle on the front and back. Thanks to the organizers and volunteers for a super fun morning at Sanborn Park!

Brazen Rocky Ridge Championships Report

Last weekend I ran the Brazen Racing Summit Rock Half Marathon at Sanborn County Park outside of Saratoga, but before I get to that report, here is a report from another Brazen event I did a couple months agao, the Brazen Racing Rocky Ridge Half Marathon Championships at beautiful Las Trampas Regional Wilderness outside of San Ramon. The Rocky Ridge course is known as the most difficult of the Brazen series. The half marathon course was actually about 13.75 miles long and featured nearly 4,000 of elevation gain. Some of the ascents along the way are some of the steepest inclines I have ever run and one half mile climb in particular about half way through is affectionately known as “The Wall”! All the climbing and terrain made this a true mountain course and it would be idyllic for a mountain running championship venue.

Due to a prize purse being offered, I suspected some fast runners would show up, and indeed, one of the fastest road runners in the nation, Sergio Reyes toed the starting line. At the start I settled in near the front and tried to be as comfortable as possible entering the first major hill. At the first ultra steep ascent Sergio asserted himself and took the lead charging up the steep in good form with me in pursuit. It seemed as if he might run away with it from the start, but I caught up at the high point near Las Trampas Peak. On the downhill portion, Ivan Medina blew past both of us and continued to push an incredibly fast pace with Sergio in tow that I could not sustain. I would not see either of them until near the end of the large loop about three quarters of the way through, but I maintained a good pace and ran the entire way up the Wall. As I started the descent back to the parking area I could see Sergio far ahead and Ivan a minute or so back from Sergio.

Immediately upon beginning the last major climb of the course I began catching up to Ivan and eventually overtook him about half way up the climb. I was closing in on Sergio and by the time we reached the top of the hill I was only about 20 seconds back. However, from this point onward, the course was mainly downhill and I was unable to close the gap between us completely. Sergio finished in 1:37:55, 12 seconds ahead of my 1:38:07. I was proud of my performance and the strong finish!

Brazen Racing did a phenomenal job from aid stations to course markings to post-race food; it was an awesome event! A big thanks to the Brazen race directors, staff, and volunteers for making this such a great morning and congratulations to all the participants for tackling those daunting hills in the Las Trampas Wilderness!

Point Reyes Scenes

A few of my favorite photos from a recent run at Point Reyes National Seashore. It has been a couple years since I did this particular route and it was just as good as I remembered it. Highlights include Mount Wittenberg, Woodward Valley, Sculptured Beach, Kelham Beach, Arch Rock, Wildcat Beach and Alamere Falls; essentially all the highlights of the southern portion of Point Reyes. From my experience, late fall and winter are particularly good times to visit during good weather stretches with excellent clarity and little in the way of marine fog. Simply put, Point Reyes is awesome! Complete photo album here.

Complete photo album here.