Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Middle Sister

Last Friday night we made the drive to Obsidian Trailhead to climb Middle Sister on Saturday.  It was dark when we arrived so we pitched the tent and headed for bed.  The next morning was cold with a little frost on the car.  We made breakfast and left the tent up to air out for the day while we were climbing the mountain.

The first few miles are in the trees so we hiked quickly.  Plus, it was going to be a pretty long day so we didn't have time to doddle.  A few miles in we came across the remnants of last year's Rebel Fire.  We hadn't realized that it made it that close to the Three Sisters.

Soon we crossed a lava field and got our first view of the mountain.  The trail drops back below treeline after for another mile or two before climbing above the trees near Arrowhead Lake.  On the climb up to Arrowhead Lake, we had to crunch through some frost heaves on the trail.

The first view of Middle Sister

North Sister

Ice on the creek

Looking West

Above Arrowhead Lake, we got some great views of the Cascades to the west and some of the Cascade Volcanoes leading to the north.  Also, we got to see a little bit of fresh snow on top on North and Middle Sister.  We had a little bit of rain in the valley the previous week which was obviously snow up here.

Mom with North Sister on the horizon

Dad with some Cascade volcanoes poking out over the ridge

Mom with The Husband in the background

North Sister
Climbing up Middle Sister, we were surprised how little snow there was.  We had to hike along the rocks much longer than usual.  Soon enough we reached the snowfields and realized that we needed our microspikes to make the climb.  The snow as pretty hardpacked from the cold clear days and long fall nights.

Middle Sister

Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams all lined up

North Sister

Mom and Dad climbing up toward Middle

We needed microspikes to hike up the snow as it was pretty hard

Mom in front of North Sister

Middle Sister

Mom making her way through the rocks

Middle Sister

Almost to the saddle
After putting on the microspikes we had no problem walking up the snowfields and soon reached the saddle below Middle Sister.  There is one steep pitch on the ridge to the summit and it was in the shade so we knew that the snow and ice would be hard.  We weren't sure if we could make it past there, especially since the lower snowfields were much harder than usual, but since we were there we gave it a try.

Broken Top

Lookin up toward Middle Sister

Eastern Oregon

Ice - there were lots of ice chunks like this one

North Sister

Ice on the rocks

Here's where we turned back as it was getting pretty icy and tedious
As it was, the steep section was pretty icy and we decided to turn back.  We were able to negotiate the ice, but the going was very slow.  We made it about 1/3 of the way up the steep section before we decided to turn around and head back to the car.  Still, we were a long way up the mountain and had some great views.

Big crevasses this time of year

North Sister

Middle Sister

Mom and Dad beginning the descent down the snowfield

Middle Sister poking out over the ridge
Once we made it back to the saddle, the hike down the mountain was pretty quick.  The only slow section was picking our way through the lava below the snow an above treeline.  Once we hit treeline, there's a trail which lead to fast walking the rest of the way out.

Its a bummer it was too icy to tag the top and get a view of South Sister, but all in all it was a great hike.  We're pretty lucky to be able to get that far up the mountain in the middle of October.  Some years, I'm sure there would already be snow at the trailhead.

North Sister and Middle Sister

Frost heaves.  They were here in the morning and lasted all day

Mom with North and Middle in the background

Myself, North and Middle

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Condor 25K

Its been a while since I've raced, and a really long time since I've run a local race so I was excited for the Condor 25K this weekend.  My left shin had been bothering me for nearly the whole summer so I had been doing some mountain biking, but no running.  Then I went on 3 backpacking trips at the start of September (an overnight, 4 nights, and 6 nights) and my shin felt good to go afterword.  So because I was finally healthy I figured there was no reason I should give the Condor a go.

Race morning brought lot of low clouds but no rain.  It was probably 50 degrees which is great weather for running.  I got to talk with a few friends before the race, then went for a short warmup jog about 10 minutes before the start.  My legs felt good so I was excited to see how the day would unfold.

Hanging out at the start

200 yards into the race

Typically short races seems to start out really fast, but at Condor the pace seemed a bit more relaxed from the start.  I prefer that because it gives you a bit of time to warm up before you really get rolling.

The first 2 or 3 miles there was a pack of 7 or 8 guys all within about 10 seconds.  Including myself, I think 5 people in the lead group were from Corvallis.  That makes the race fun since you're racing against all your friends.

Climbing up Calloway Creek Trail at mile 2

Back by Cronemiller and on toward Lewisburg Saddle
As we came back by Cronemiller Lake, 2 miles in, the lead group started to thin out and soon there was 4 of us pulling away from everyone else.  By the time we crested Peavy Peak around mile 5, the lead group consisted of my friends Emile Chol and Nate Smith, myself, and Thomas Dixon who I would meet after the race.

We flew down from Peavy Peak and then began the climb up Dave's trail.  I was happy to be feeling good and started to pull ahead of the other three runners.  I had maybe 10 seconds at the top of Dave's trail and was happy with how I was feeling.

Between Dave's trail and Lewisburg Saddle there are some gentle rollers, then a sustained downhill to Lewisburg Saddle.  Flat running has never been my strength, but I felt good through this section and was happy to stay ahead of all the guys chasing me.

Around mile 8 I caught Dad who had taken the early start.  He was looking good and was running with a good group of local runners.  Its always fun to see people you know out on the course!
Coming down Vineyard Mountain around mile 9
After the descent down Vineyard Mountain, I came into the Lewisburg Saddle aid station.  Since Condor is a short race there was no need to stop, but it was certainly fun to see a bunch of people I knew at the aid station.  I still had a small lead and listened for cheering for the next runner as I left the aid station.  As best I could tell, Emile was second about 10 or 15 seconds back.

About 10 miles in.  You can see my friend Emile in the picture here.  He finished second, a little over a minute back.
After the leaving Lewisburg Saddle there is a gradual 1.5 mile climb on logging roads.  I felt pretty good climbing but was certainly ready to be back on the trails when we hit Dave's trail for the second time.  There was a little bit of two way traffic on Dave's trail, which allowed me to see a lot of the local runners who were running the race.  Everyone had kind words for me as I ran by them, but I also heard cheering for Emile so I knew he was still only 10 or 15 seconds behind me.

As Dave's trail begins to wind downhill, I started to feel pretty good and tried to run a little faster.  I passed Mom in this section and that gave me a boost to keep running hard.  At some point along Dave's I lost sight of Emile so I knew I had built a little lead.  Dave's then crosses a road and switchbacks downhill before the last climb of the race.  I ran down the switchbacks quickly and couldn't see anyone else so I knew I had at least 20 or 30 seconds on the next runner.

The final climb is about a half mile of gentle rolling uphill, followed by a short steady uphill before the downhill to the finish.  I ran well on the climb and got to see a few more friends at the final aid station near mile 14.  Upon cresting the final hill, I took off down toward the finish.  I was running well on the downhills all day so I made sure to keep pushing hard all the way to the finish.

Crossing the line in first certainly made me happy, but just being able to run the race was the best part.  Last year I helped out at the Lewisburg Saddle aid station which was fun, but I have to admit it was much more fun to run the race this year.

Emile finish up in second about 1.5 minutes behind me.  Third place was Thomas just seconds behind Emile.  I was glad to have avoided a sprint finish like those two had!  The nice thing about finishing near the front is you get to see a lot of other runners finish.  So I got to enjoy the morning and early afternoon watching my friend make their way across the line and tell stories of the run.  Yeah, it was certainly nice to be back on the trails.

Here's a few quick thank yous:

Thanks to Ben Shragal for all you're great race day photos!
Thanks to Jan, John, and Tia for putting on such a great race!  You're the RD's but this thank you goes to all the volunteer who helped make the race happen!
Thanks to my sponsors The North Face, Injinji, VFuel, and SNB.
And most importantly, thanks to the great running community in Corvallis.  Having such a supportive community is what make is so much fun to get out there!