You hear climbers and hikers saying “epic” a bunch, and for some, perhaps, it’s become as common as “cool,” or “phat…” part of the jargon of the crowd, but I’ve got to tell ya, there’s still a place for “epic,” and sometimes, you see what they really meant when that first guy said “whoa, dude… that was epic!”
With the race coming in 3 weeks, we’re getting geared up by doing some final hard training before finally tapering the last week or so.
Since our last hike/climb up Adams, we’ve been doing quite a bit of biking, especially single track and up hills in preparation for Tahoe (Dave had a 135 mile week this past week).
Jeni, Lisa and Dave also decided to do another hike/climb, partly to end the summer, and partly in celebration of our 6th anniversary. We loaded up our packs (thanks to Matt for lending me his wonderful Danae pack, as well as a tent and water filter) and headed for the hills last Thursday…
We started by doing the very enjoyable 30 mile ride on the Hiawatha trail. It started a little drizzly, but once through the first tunnel, it wasn’t terrible at all. This is a great ride… it is an old railroad trail down a mountain (as well as through 10 tunnels, and 8 high trestles) so the ride down is 15 miles at a gentle 2-4% downgrade, and the 15 miles back up are, coincidentally, at a never-ending 2-4% grade. Just the right amount of challenge. Many of the touristas do the ride down and take the provided shuttle back up, so being one of the minority who ride both ways is somehow fulfilling, as we really try to ride it at our best pace.
After that, we headed further up the mountain, stowed the bikes, loaded up our packs and started up the mountain toward Upper Stevens Lake. It’s only 2.5 miles, but it is a pretty steep, rough hike, and with a 60 pound pack, I was ready to be done as we arrived. We got there just at dusk, set up camp, built a quick fire, and settled in. It’s hard to describe how pretty this place is, and I’ll try to attach some photos. Because of the difficulty of the hike, we didn’t see a soul for 2 straight days, so we basically had our own private lake and attached mountains… this gem sits in a deep bowl, surrounded on three sides by steep, striking mountains, and the water fall to the lower lake was right near us.
Friday morning, we got up and climbed to the west ridge, then clambered our way around the rim trail. This rises to 6886 feet atop Steven’s Peak, and from the top, we could actually see Washington, Idaho and Montana. It was an amazing view, to say the least. We descended the south rim (carefully! I really don’t like going down!) and tromped through the snowfield before circling the lake back to our camp site. It was a perfect day… 80 degrees, sunny… couldn’t have been much better. We took a quick plunge in the crystal clear, glacier fed lake to cool off – let’s say that it was “brisk,” to say the least, but we warmed up on the rocks, and relaxed for the remainder of the afternoon, just enjoying the bounties we had been given.
We had a nice rehydrated dinner (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! There are some great meals out there!) with a bottle of nice vino, and hit the sack after admiring the perfect sunset. We went to bed around 9:00, and it was calm, clear, and not a cloud in sight. At 11:00, we were awoken by the loudest thunder clap I have ever heard, about 37 feet away from us! Jeni was across the gap and in our tent within .78 seconds, thermarest, sleeping bag and all. The rest of the night was spent riding out the storm, but the Eureka tent held up great, and we were dry and warm.
Lisa and Jeni make good hiking partners; they fly down the hill! I’m what you call the “Sweeper:” much more of a trudger, it seems. I can run with the best of ‘em, but with a big pack, I’m for sure slow and careful… I finally gave them the key to the car, and the pressure was off! By the time I got back to the car, they had the bikes unloaded, and were ready to go! See, there’s no off position on the genius switch!
After cheeseburgers and huckleberry shakes at the Snake Pit, we made it back to town. It was Dave and Lisa’s anniversary, so after a pasta dinner, we changed gear and headed out to Lisa’s parent’s place on south Lake Coeur d’ Alene.
Kelley, Morgen and Rachael joined us for a little Sunday training, and we mad ethe most of it! Morgen and Dave did a 20 mile bike ride and ran the hill loop in the morning, and a bit later, Jeni drove out for the “main event.” We staged the kayaks down at the lake, and headed out for some late afternoon fun, FART style. We started with a 24 mile ride, which includes a nice 4 mile climb from the lake to get you going, and then we did a kayak and run combo, finishing up with a great hill climb, and an impromptu pushup competition.
When we were done, we were treated to a great dinner of shish-ka-bob, rice, corn, jello salad and pie. A perfect end to a great day! Fritz and Becky (my parents-in-law) are great hosts, and wonderful folk. They made the whole team feel welcome.
The race is only 3 weeks away, and we’re pretty excited. I’m looking forward to getting some nav tips from Thomas Brestis, a master AR racer, who has completed Primal Quest among other top contests. He is also arranging our new team gear called I Rule. It’s top quality stuff from New Zealand, specifically designed for AR. Lisa loves her shirt, so we’re pretty psyched to wear it in Tahoe. You can email Thomas for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a race this weekend right here in our backyard – the Rathdrum Mountain Adventure Race—that Morgen, Jeni and I may do before Lisa and I catch our flight to LA to teach a seminar. I hope the times work out!
Looking forward to seeing you all in Tahoe, and hope your training is going well… keep it up, and let’s have some fun!