Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Few of my Favorite Images

Last month, I journeyed out west to run the Leadville 100.   In order to survive the race, I went out 9 days early to acclimatize to the altitude.   There I was afforded the opportunity to get reconnected with my camera.   Here are my four of my favorite photos from the initial glance.

I awoke early one morning after camping in the badlands to find the landscape filled with fog.   Just as I arrived in the park, I caught this lone tree at sunrise.   

Inside the badlands, I noticed this one area of the park a year ago, but did not have the opportunity to photograph it.   I came back and the time was right.   I was fortunate that it was wet this year and caught a small stream flowing forth.

As I headed west, I opened up my old Rand McNally Road Map and looked for green.  I spotted Medicine Bow National Forest in Southern Wyoming.  I had never been there, so off I went.  I found a perfect camping spot and after a good night sleep, I was treated to a wonderful sunrise.

Finally, I leave you with this, the mountain wildflowers of Medicine Bow National Forest.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Relentless, Rugged and Remote - the Superior Trail 100

This past weekend, I journeyed north to the relentless, rugged and remote Superior Trail 100 Run.  This race while living in Minnesota and only reaches a maximum height of 1830 feet, it has more elevation gain then Big Horn 100, Leadville 100, and Western States 100.  And very similar gain to Run Rabbit Run 100, Black Hills 100 and the Bear 100.   All these mountain races are well known and tough, but most have forgotten one of the oldest 100's in the world and arguably harder.   What makes this race a challenge is not the altitude, not the multiple hour climbs, but instead the non-stop ups and downs that never allow your body to rest.  A constant battle of the body and the spirit.

I was to crew Aaron Ehlers in his quest to complete the race for the first time.  Since his wife, Mary would be along for the first 10 hours, I managed to sneak out and get a few photos on the course for the first 50 miles.   Interspersed among the race photos are some of my favorite shots taken nearby.   If you want more, be sure to check out Ian Corless's Photos, host of Talk Ultra and renowned photographer shots.

The Superior Hiking Trail - 304 miles of wild and wonderful Minnesota.  100 miles of it are given up to the runners for 38 hours or less.

Aaron's intensity sets in 15 minutes before the start of the race.

Just to the right of the runners on the starting line, Lake Superior peaks through the trees.

The runners will soon run beside and over the cascades of Gooseberry State Park.

The early crowds from the 200 plus runners heading over their first bridge.

A perfect north woods stream and patches of birch line many miles of the trail.

Before the first crew accessible aid station at mile 20.1, lies Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

An early runner in a tunnel of trees.

A runner in good form rocking it out along the boardwalks over swampy trail sections.

Shimmering birch in the early light.

The peal of birch bark, a perfect fire-starter.

Aaron makes his way into the Silver Bay aid station.

More Cowbell!

Leaving Silver Bay a short rise makes good use of the magic sticks.

Palisade Head - A perfect spot for a 30 min crew pit Stop.

Views of Lake Superior at another time of day.

Wet Superior Rocks.

Descending down stairs near High Falls in Tetteguche State Park.

More fun with stairs.

The lead woman in the early stages of the race, passing over the Baptism River.

Aaron running just above the baptism River.

Aaron on his way to the half way point in Finland.   

The trail continues on through Crosby Manitou State Park, past Temperance River State Park, scrambles up Carlton peak, rounds Oberg Mountain and up and over Mystery and Moose Mountain before finishing in Lutsen.   

Congrats to all the runners - that course is a beast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Black Hills 100 Mile Ultra Run

In June of this year, I headed out to the Black Hills to help crew and pace a friend of mine, Kurt Decker during the Black Hills 100 mile Ultra.   Along for the ride were ultra legend Paul Holovnia and the owner of TCRC Adam Lindahl.   While I was not able to capture the entire story of the race, I managed to sneak out a few times early on to capture the beauty of the Centennial Trail.    Here is an assortment of the story.

The Black Hills 100 Logo.

The crew gets ready to do battle after a pre race shake out run.

Packet Pick-Up.

Some of the best awards on the ultra scene.

Adam and Kurt face off before the start of the 100.

Adam Lindahl, Kurt Decker and Paul Holovnia await the start.

Kurt looking solid in the early miles.

Kurt descends to the second aid station.

Adam looking fresh and wondering why he can't run faster.

Paul crosses one of many rivers on a wet morning.

Kurt nears the halfway.

Rock Country.

Kurt grabs the poles on a mud soaked trail.

Paul hydrates preparing for the long road ahead.

The trail continues on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Long Journey Begins - The Pacific Crest Trail Section 1

In 2011, I had the special opportunity to hike the John Muir Trail.  After completing, it I wondered what was next.   The obvious choice was the Pacific Crest Trail.  I had heard of the trail in early 90's and thought, if I ever thru-hiked a long trail this would be it.  20 years passed and I realized, I have a wife and two kids, thru-hiking was not in my cards, but section hiking the Pacific Crest trail could be.   

So in 2014, I laced up my shoes and found my hiking partner, Old Yeller and embarked on the multi-year quest to hike the 2663 mile Pacific Crest Trail.   The PCT has was declared a trail in 1968 and completed in 1993.   It may be less famous than its older cousin, the Appalachian trail, but I am convinced, it would be much more beautiful.   So the journey begins to find out.

Year 1 - Campo to Paradise Valley Cafe

The obelisk at the US-Mexico border outside Campo.

Old Yeller crossing the great iron rails of the south.

Old Yeller heading north around mile 5 with 6 liters of water on his back.

Early desert flora overlooking a southern ranch.

Trekking near Hauser Mountain.

Near the border, we were constantly reminded of the economic struggles our southern neighbors are going through.  Whether it was the border guards watching for tracks, the helicopters overhead all night or the signs warning them of imminent death.

The colorful trees along a southern waterway.

Prickly pear cactus buds awaiting a local to pick them and make some pie.

After enduring 15 miles of 30 mph winds with gust over 50, sideways sleet and ice cold rain, we were relieved to hike down to Scissors Water Crossing and catch a ride to Julian for a warm night.   

Bi-Poler, seeking to redeem himself from his 2013 attempted thru-hike, heads towards the San Felipe Hills.

An ice cold morning had me, Ultra wearing all my gear for the first hour.

Old Yeller crossing the San Jose del Valle.

Three boulders tossed among the open grasses of a long meadow before Warner Springs.

Somewhere near eagle rock on the Pacific Crest Trail.

A lone tree guards the trail amongst spring color.

A welcome sight, trees and shade guarding the Canada Verde path into Warner Springs.

A dream come true, crystal clear waters of Agua Caliente Creek.   

Purple flowers in Lost Valley.

Lost Valley boulders in the later afternoon light.

Views of Mount San Jacinto in the late afternoon light.  

Descending towards Anza, the views continue to improve.

Year one ends as we arrive at the fire-closed San Jacinto trailhead and we head to the Paradise Valley Cafe to celebrate.  152 miles completed.

Enjoy and go out and explore your world!!!

-Old Yeller and Ultra