Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Yellowstone Vacation

I spent this past week in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks reuniting with old friends and taking a backpacking trip. It was a lot of fun and I loved spending time with Scott and Mark again.

I 1st arrived in the Tetons on the 15th. Scott was summiting the Grand that day and I was to meet him at 7pm at the windows in Jackson Lake Lodge. It was a cloudy, stormy, cold day but he made it. I was SO excited when he found me in the lodge, it had been 3 years since I saw him last. We spent the evening eating dinner and chatting before making our way back to the Colter Bay campground.

The next morning we spent driving the Grassy Lake Road which is a dirt road between the Tetons and Yellowstone that comes out near Ashton, Idaho. It was slow going and seemed to take forever. We did see a moose though! Eventually we found ourselves on the pavement of Idaho and then were off to find the Cave Falls road which leads to Cave Falls in the SW corner of Yellowstone. Well, we got lost (i.e. took a large detour) and with the help of the old guy at the Warm Springs trailer park were back on our way. Once getting to Cave Falls we left my car at the trailhead and headed out to get to West Yellowstone and eventually Mammoth Hot Springs. We would see my car again later in the week after hiking to it from Old Faithful.

We spent the next few days relaxing, catching up and exploring a little. We then headed to Old Faithful, where we had a room at the Inn, on Tuesday.

We had a great time enjoying sunset in the geyser basin and even saw Beehive Geyser erupt! The next morning we set out on our adventure. Mark's car was left at the Lone Star Geyser trailhead and we were off. We were very fortunate in that the Lone Star Geyser erupted right as we got there.

This first day of the backpacking trip consisted on 14 miles, which included two climbs up and over the Continental Divide. The day went well but I was more than ready to get rid of my pack once we reached our campsite. Our site was right along the Gregg Fork of the Bechler River and a nice little place to stop for an evening. This picture is just as we are leaving camp.

The 2nd day of the trip is one to remember. It was about 17 miles long, and even though we were going downhill and flat most of the time, it took FOREVER. The trail was very rocky and that along was exhausting. Not to mention the 16+ creek crossings on logs we encountered and the 4 river crossings we had to ford across. Not sure if you have noticed but I'm not very tall and those crossings all ended up beings at least crotch deep.

We saw many beautiful waterfalls this day as well. The Bechler Region is known for it's waterfalls and it did not disappoint.

As the day went on we realized we really needed to start pushing or we were going to run the danger of running out of daylight. Once we reached the meadows we took a short break and got ready to push on the remaining 7 miles to my car. At this point it was probably pushing 6pm. I didn't want to rest too long due to sore feet and hamstring so I decided to push on and the boys would catch up to me shortly. They agreed that was fine and reminded me to stay on the Bechler River Trail. Well, when I got to the junction I'm not sure what happened, frankly I just followed the sign that said Cave Falls 7.1 miles. You can guess what happened, I went on the wrong trail. Luckily I had only gone about a half mile and was waiting for them at a ford which they never to. After about 15 minutes I went and talked to a party who was camping nearby, looked at a map and was corrected on where I was. At this point the guide suggested I stay on the trail since it's shorter and easier and catch them at the next junction, just who knows if they'll be in front or behind me. Well, I decided to double back and hike on the trail I was supposed to be on and the one they were on (even though it was 7.8 miles long from the junction to my car). Well, that trail was horrible. Hills, rocks, brush as tall as me and more river crossings. I hiked as fast as I possibly could and never once freaked out. (Even though I should have been VERY freaked out, scared and worried). For some reason I just knew they were going to be at the Rocky Ford (a 200ft long ford)which was 4.5 miles from where I doubled back. Well, I got there and didn't see the guys. Oh well. I still have some daylight I said. Let's just get across this and push on. Well, you wouldn't believe it but I was only about halfway across the river when Scott popped out of the woods! Holy cow, I caught them! I was so excited I tipped over.

Just a little note here. When the guys didn't catch up to me within the first half mile they knew I wasn't on that trail and figured I had gone the shorter route. From there they pushed on as fast as they could in the hope of catching me at the junction which is right on the other side of the Rocky Ford. When I wasn't there they really got worried and were about to go talk to the campers nearby when they heard something crashing into the river. Imagine their surprise, excitement and relief when they saw that something was me! I have no idea how I caught them but was so happy I did. Shortly after our reunion we ran into a bear. Oh great, just what we needed. Luckily it quickly ran the other way and we were off again. At this time the sun was close to setting and we had about 3.5 miles left. Well, those miles passed quickly and made it to the trailhead right as it was too dark to see.

Of course we still had hours of driving to get back to Mark's house after this point but it was great to be out of the woods. The Bechler was gorgeous but always take 3 days to do it, not two. And always stay with your friends.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Y Not Tri

This past Thursday I participated in my first triathlon, the Y Not Tri. The race was a 1/4 mile swim at Parkcenter Pond, a 6 mile bike ride and a 2 mile run. I finished in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 59 seconds. I was pleased with my time even if it was slow, just means I have lots of room for improvement for the next one.

The swim was what i was most worried about since I rarely swim. It went well though, I just stayed slow and steady the whole time. Now swimming while hitting other people and getting hit yourself was interesting. The bike portion did not go well at all because I had a flat tire. I went ahead and rode on it anyways because I was not about to quit the race. It made for some hard, slow cycling. The run was hard at first, getting your legs back under you, but from there it went fine.

Oh, and did I mention it had rained the whole day and throughout the race?


Wow, where did the month go? I started the month by getting laid off from work. After that I went to Oregon for a family reunion followed by a trip to the Oregon Coast, Mount St. Helens and Seattle. Since then I have just been busy at home doing odd jobs for people, filling in at the YMCA and enjoying the warm summer weather.