When I was young I used to hunt pheasant, quail, and chukar. I downed many a pheasant and quail, but the chukar always eluded me. Chukars are smarter. You hear them rustling in the bush, but they don't flush easily. They draw you in, you follow their movements as they descend off the plateaus and down the ravines, hoping they'll flush eventually. But before you notice, you're in the bottom of a scrubby coulee. Skunked by their siren call, and you gotta hike all the way back out.
We weren't hunting chukar today, but figuratively they were calling us down the coulee, lap after lap of light dust powder on facet crunch.
And we had to hike all the way back out. That's as far as the metaphor goes. More fatigued every time, but we didn't mind.
I made this stupid video by holding my point-and-shoot camera between my fingers and my ski pole. The terrain was low angle south facing slopes in Grizzly Gulch, so the avalanche danger was low. There was a few inches of powder in the afternoon, after a early day at work. It was a fantastic day. A great little session by myself, fiddling with a camera while skiing. Obviously people do these videos much better with the GoPros, but whatev. And I clearly need to hold the camera more upright while descending, but again, this is amateur hour.
Anyway, the whole point of this exercise was to portray what a day of touring in the mountains feels like. I hope you enjoy:
Music credit: (1) Breakbot---Baby I'm Yours, and (2) Steve Earl---Johnny Come Lately
Since late June I've logged 200k of vertical towards my arbitrary goal, mostly from running/hiking in the mountains. So I'm on track for logging the 365k in a year, but I'm actually closer to a half-million, but we will see how that goes as Winter arrives...
The mountains in a neglected season: As a creature of habit I usually only visit the mountains during choice times, but my arbitrary goal is leading me to explore and observe natural environs in all conditions, being adaptable and attuned to wonderful surprises everywhere. Mud and rocks, snow and slush, half-frozen in-betweens. Wet boots.
Kessler Peak Fog.
White Pine dusted white.
The first big dump of the season put nearly 4 feet of powder over mostly dry ground this last weekend.
The Pheifferhorn: parking lot to summit in 1:33:55. Previous best time: 1:38---about a 4% improvement over a month of training. First off, that time is not going to win any medals, given the known record time is around 1:05---about 40% faster than my best.
No matter. I spent all Summer mountain running in the Wasatch with one expectation: cover a lot of cool terrain with the engine running high. Over the course of the whole year I guess my top sustainable split time on mountain terrain improved about 20%. My main proving ground for speed is Wire Peak, where I was first clocking in times around 42 minutes, then inching down to a sub 35-minute time recently: exactly 20% improvement.
Knowing how marginal gains work, I bet another season of directed training at the same effort will yield 10% better time, perhaps less. That would net a 1:25min Pheifferhorn time, or a 31.5 Wire Peak time. Time will tell.