Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wonderland : Day 3

"Many of us would probably be better fisherman if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect."
-Norman Maclean - A River Runs Through It

I awoke just before sunrise.  Excited, nervous, determined, and still quite sore.  My family was still asleep in the tent.  I filled my pack with the same provisions as day 1 and headed out as the sun was coming up over Mowich Lake.  After a quick climb through the forest the trail suddenly opens up with Ipsut Pass.  Pretty sweet!

Then the bottom drops out.  The steep descent loses about 1,100 ft over the first mile or so and then another 1,600 ft over 4 more miles of descent, which put a hurtin' on my tender legs.  I think because the 93-mile elevation profile was so scrunched together I failed to grasp how LONG the ascents and descents were. 

I was a bit nervous that my legs wouldn't hold out since they were really getting sore.  So early in the day I put my head in the right place.  I wasn't going to concern myself about pace.  (That was my plan from the very start but I really didn't do it...)   If I did 15-20 minute-miles the whole time, so be it.   I think this made a huge difference.   And after a while, my legs actually became sort of hardened ("annealed" seemed to describe it best at the time).  They were still sore and very stiff but they really didn't hurt....and I actually felt pretty strong.

A hobbit house for sure.

Just past Ipsut creek the trail ascended for a solid 7 miles and 3,600 ft!!  I just put it in cruise control and charged. I gotta say it was an awesome climb.  I felt good, the legs were strong, the weather was great, and the country was beautiful.  I passed a couple of hikers and actually felt a little sorry for them having to lug big packs up that far.  Carbon glacier was crazy since I was wondering where in the world it was....then I realized it was right in front of me as a big chunk of ice broke off and violently rolled down the gacier face.  The dirty glacier blended right in to the rock and earth around it. 

Carbon Glacier.  And you thought glaciers were white!

Switchbacks.  I was on the up and up!

I finally dropped back down through a sub-alpine valley complete with Ranier views, wildflowers, and Mystic Lake.  But descent was short-lived as a 2,100 ft, 3-mile climb followed.  This climb also went well and dumped me out on on an exposed alpine meadow.

PBJ stop at Mystic Lake.

I got up and over Skyscraper Pass, which had some of the best views of the entire trip.  At this point I began seeing bunches of folks out day hiking around and I knew I was almost there.  I descended through Berkeley Park to Sunrise where I just happened to pass my family out for a day hike and then back down to White River where I started. 

Berkeley Park (if you look closely, you can see the trail off in the distance)

Shadow Lake

I really had a awesome day out there.  It totaled about 29 miles and over 6,000 ft of elevation gain in around 8 hrs. 

I learned plenty during this trip.  Not only about how to better piece together a long multi-day trail run, but also how to stay focused and to keep myself under control when things don't go as planned.  And that adjusting goals are sweeter when they include hiking with the people I love.  I gained the confidence that I need to be able to run past the point where my body seems broken down.  Finally, I am proud of myself for doing what can typically be the hardest part...the initial commitments like hitting "purchase" when looking at the airplane tickets and, of course, taking those first few steps into the wild. 

There really are perfect parts of our world.  They just aren't man made.  Which is ironic, because we do tend to sit around and wait for things to get better and become more perfected by us humans.  In the end, I left Rainier National Park motivated more than ever to see more of these perfect places and to have more adventures.  

A big thanks to my family for crewing and putting up with me!

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