Thursday, October 29, 2009

welcome winter

as i began to run from the prospect heights trailhead, i knew it was going to be a good day. the air was still, calm, and filled with un-fallen snow, the kind of snow that hangs in the air above you with the promise of a future blanket of white. the snow had previously fallen on the hillside, evidenced by the ribbon of trail before me that was soft, white, and untrodden, except for when Jackson would sprint ahead of me. my destination was Near Point.

the run was enjoyable, my first long-ish mountain run since my ankle injury. as i ran up the trail, continuously gaining elevation, the snow deepened. when i finally emerged from the trees and hit the exposed ridge there were drifts of snow about 10" deep. i was following the tracks of another runner now, Hugh, who had passed me lower down. i was appreciative of his footprints because this was only the second time i had made this ascent and the trail was entirely invisible at this point. if one looks closely in the picture you can make out Hugh on the way down.
i was still thoroughly enjoying myself even though my legs and ankles ached in weird places as dormant fibers fired in succession to propel me up the mountain. when i reached the top it was anti-climatic, the sky and snow blending the surroundings into almost zero invisibility. i could tell it was the top only by the slight rounding of the snow drift into a downhill aspect. we snapped a summit shot, i layered up, and we headed down.i shot this on the way down just because of how gorgeous it was. the current BEP song "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" kept running through my head. it was completely applicable because i knew that after this amazing run i would see my wife and son, later go to a Bible study, and even later attend the Warren Miller opening...good night indeed!

when i reached the car the weather had deteriorated, with the promised snow now falling. it had taken a little under 2 hours to cover the 7 or so miles. i had welcomed winter at the peak of Near Point, what kind of winter will it be? probably a good one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

no planes fly on Thursdays...

or so it seemed yesterday as i ascended the backside of Flat Top. after 3 weeks in a boot to heal the tendonitis in my left ankle, i have spent this week testing it a bit. Tuesday i ran an easy mile and a half, followed by a couple hundred yards of barefoot running and yesterday headed up Flat Top.

i'm taking the 'shoes are evil' approach in trying to build my foot/arch strength. this is in direct opposition to what the doctor told me i should do, which is to always have my foot in a shoe with custom made orthotics. after much research i really believe that our feet are designed in such a way that they work best naturally, but years of 'supportive' footwear has softened them to the point that they don't know how to do this. by going barefoot as much as possible, wearing minimalist shoes, and barefoot running i think i can get them to perform better than they ever have. there is tons of info on this online. the bestselling book "Born to Run" is another good starting point for research on the subject, and is also a great read.

but back to Flat Top...about 15 minutes into the hike i noticed how deafeningly quiet it was. it was surreal and i wondered at why. then it hit me, there was no air traffic. typically planes are flying directly over the ridge line on their approach to the airport, passing overhead every 10-15 minutes. but i guess not on Thursdays.

it was magnificent. the sun was struggling to break through the clouds as a light wind blew in the 40˚ air. i strode strongly up the mountain, wondering how much of my fitness i had lost during my forced inactivity. not much in the way of cardio i discovered as i hit the top in a record time for me, 24 minutes. my previous best had been 28. the way down though was a different story as my quads turned to jello half way down and i was forced to walk because my stride was uncontrollable and sloppy. still managed to lop 30 seconds off my best time down with an overall time of 37:30.

report today is no tendon pain, praise God, only sore quads.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

above the clouds

yesterday we had cloud cover in Anchorage all day, and i mean in Anchorage literally...there was a ground fog covering everything all day long. it is not uncommon for a low cloud cover to settle in, but a ground fog all over town is a first for me in 13 years of living here.

i decided to try and get above the clouds by driving up towards Glen Alps trailhead. i knew it was a long shot as the cloud layer is typically around 2500-2800 feet and the trailhead parking lot is around 2200 i think.

when i got there i was still in the clouds, but i noticed the krumholz in the corner of the parking lot. sometimes it's not always best to get where you're trying to go.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

the little boy and the worm

once upon a time there was a little boy. he was a very content little boy and there were many things that made him happy. one of those things that made him happy was discovering new things in the great wide world outside of his house. mommy and daddy called it the backyard, but to the little boy it was the whole world.
one day he was playing outside after the cool rains of fall had washed the earth. as he romped around the yard he looked down and discovered something he had never seen before. it was long and shiny and wriggled across the wet ground. being an adventurous little boy, he did not hesitate to make friends with it.
reaching down he gently grasped the thing by the tail and lifted it up. "what's this?" he asked, but his new friend made no reply. hmm, thought the boy as the friend wiggled in his hand. i have never seen anything like this, maybe it wants to play.
the little boy had all sorts of adventures in mind for he and his new little friend, but first maybe it wanted to slide. the boy place the worm on the top of the slide, but the worm just sat there. maybe it was scared because the slide was so big, the little boy thought to himself.
the little boy thought that maybe his new friend would prefer something lower to the ground. he spied the teeter totter out in the yard and took the worm over to it. "here you go," he proclaimed, placing his friend on one end of the totter.
"right here," he emphasized to his new friend. the worm slowly wriggled back and forth across the seat as the boy delightfully gave it rides up and down. after a while, the worm seemed to be tiring of the teeter totter. the little boy picked up the worm and brought it near. "you go in there" the little boy told his friend, thinking it needed some encouragement, but the worm seemed to say it'd had enough fun for one day.the little boy decided that maybe it was time for his new friend to go back to where it lived in the leaves. he looked around and around and found some other wriggly friends. he placed it down as he said, "bye bye, night night."

what a great day in the wide world, and what a great adventure.