Monday, June 14, 2010

Rockledge Rumble

In order to get motivated and back into a running schedule, I've decided to run the Rockledge Rumble on November 13th. It's a 50k trail race held at Lake Grapevine on the North Shore Trail. I chose this race as my first ultramarathon because its relatively short (31 miles is considered the minimum distance for an ultra - most are 50 or 100 miles) and is held on the trails very close to my house that I'm able to run on a few times each month. From everything I've read, there are huge benefits to running your first ultramarathon near home and in a familiar area. I'll have to get the most out of every week between now and then in order to finish the race. I feel like I'm starting from scratch and wasted all the endurance I developed during 2008.

OHT Section 2

From May 21st - 23rd we (EA, Keaton, Keith, Seth) hiked the second section of the OHT. This section began at White Rock Mountain and traveled east to Cherry Bend Road. The section covered about 20 miles and included a considerable amount of elevation gain. Whiting mountain was the largest climb and increased in elevation over a pretty short distance. As with our last trip, we spent only one night out on the trail.

The parts of the trip that really stand out to me were the extremely dense jungle sections (probably b/c I'm sure that's where I picked up the bulk of my poison ivy), the bushwacking we had to do in order to get up Whiting Mountain, and the time we spent eating and relaxing at Fane's Creek. As with the first trip, my favorite part was hanging out by the water while filling water bottles and eating lunch. Having a few cups of coffee after lunch definitely didn't hurt. Having an opportunity to wash off the dirt and cool off in the river rejuvenated the group and prepared us for the remainder of the day's hike.

We finished the hike late in the day on Saturday and stayed the night at a large campsite across the street from the Turner Bend Store. We were all able to shower and change into clean clothes. Unfortunately, there were a number of loud, drunk idiots staying at the campgrounds which prevented us from getting decent sleep before the long drive home on Sunday.

I used my new Osprey Aether 70 (which was about half full) and carried everything comfortably. I had no discomfort on the trail and am extremely happy with the pack. Because of the warm weather, we were able to make the trip without sleeping bags, which had a significant impact on our pack weight (I think my bag is just over 3 pounds). I wore my Salomon XT Wings and had comfortable and mostly dry feet the entire trip. I got a little wet on one crossing, but the shoes dried quickly and a change of socks did the trick. Keith and I utilized our new Steripen and Pioneer Pro water filtration system with great success. Our water tasted much better than when we used the iodine pills. We cooked with an old aluminum pot of Keith's and the MSR SuperFly stove, which worked well. My menu consisted of Starkist tuna packets, tortillas, ramen noodles, oatmeal, trail mix, and Clif bars.

Lessons Learned from my second trip:
1. Wear Pants. World Record case of poison ivy.
2. Coffee on the trail is a great luxury. I'm glad Keith invested in a coffee press.
3. Water is still really heavy.
4. Taking a bach in a river at the midway point enhances everyone's mood.
5. Hiking is great for weight loss when you don't eat three meals at the Swinging Bridge Cafe and carry too much food.

Ozark Highland Trail Section 1

I believe I've officially become a hiker. To date, I've hiked approximately 40 miles of the Ozark Highland Trail in Arkansas. The trail stretches 165 miles from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the eastern boundry at the Buffalo River State Park. I hiked the first leg of the trail last fall over a three day weekend. We hiked from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the top of White Rock "Mountain". This 19 mile section proved difficult for the group - EA Hoppe, Keaton Hoppe, Keith Reasons, and myself. All of us were out of shape and carried too much in our packs. Although, my pack was relatively light b/c I was carrying a small Kelty Redwing and Keith carried the tent we were sharing. It's more typical to share weight on items you're both intending to use.

We ended up hiking about 7 miles on the first day and 13 on the second. In hindsight, we should have done a better job of splitting the mileages especially given the climb up White Rock on the second day.

I carried my small Kelty Redwing. It was relatively comfortable and I ended up with none of the hip soreness I expected. I wore a pair of old running shoes rather than purchasing hiking boots. I'm sure having such light weight shoes helped me finish the section comfortable, but the lack of water resistance continually worried me on the trail. We had a number of small water crossings that took me a while to get through due to fear of getting my feet wet. We borrowed a cookset from Keaton that used propane and worked well for oatmeal and ramen noodles. The rest of my menu consisted of Starkist tuna packets, tortillas, trail mix, fruit bars, and Clif bars. My Marmot Neverwinter sleeping bag worked extremely well as did the MSR sleep pad. I used a stuff sack with clothes for a pillow.

Lessons learned from my first hiking trip
1. Water is freaking heavy. 2.2 pounds per liter is no joke.
2. Spend time analyzing your food choices to find the right balance of calories and weight. I ended up bringing too much food - especially since we at at the Swinging Bridge Cafe three times.
3. I can't sleep well in the woods even on my relatively comfortable inflatable pad.
4. Iodine pills make your water taste terrible.
5. Don't pack something unless you know it will be used. B/c it was going to be chilly at night I packed too much clothing.
6. The OHT is a great trail that is extremely well marked. We didn't get lost once.