Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week Summary (Aug 14) - Sierran Luxury

Commemorative Emigrant Trail OB: 7.2 mi (+458 ft); 9:20 pace
Waddle Ranch OB: 5.3 mi (+659 ft); 9:34 pace
Martis Valley Loop: 8.3 mi (+300 ft); 9:28 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+737 ft); 9:26 pace
TRT - Tahoe Meadows to Spooner: 24.1 mi (+2,673 ft); 12:07 pace

Weekly Totals: 50.5 mi (+4,826 ft); 9:02:00 on trail

Worked in Truckee, California, all week, camping each night in the Martis Valley Recreation Area on the east side of the valley. I'm happy with the discipline I maintained while doing fieldwork and camping with my crew. Each run involved shifting my usual schedule of mid-day runs to the evenings while exploring the numerous well-kept trail systems on Forest Service and Corps of Engineers lands around camp.

On Tuesday I headed north of town to the Donner Picnic Area to check out a section of the Commemorative Emigrant Trail which runs from Alder Creek to Stampede Reservoir. This is a very nice single-track and I enjoyed my short time on the trail. It will be nice to visit again as there is a 30-mile out-and-back opportunity on this fairly level trail.

The short run of Wednesday included some single-track extending from the dam of Martis Reservoir into the hills of the Waddle Ranch Preserve. It was a very warm evening but I enjoyed the short excursion across the dam and into the forest.

Thursday's run was planned as a simple loop around Martis Valley on trails of the Corps of Engineers and the Northstar Community Service District. I left the campground planning to follow Martis Creek toward Northstar but found that the two-track road ended at the north margin of the Martis Lake where the bespoke creek creates a relatively large wetland. I committed to crossing the creek but found several meanders and wetland bogs as a made my way to the eastern side of the valley. I knew a road entered the valley over there somewhere. It took a good bit of cross-country sagebrush- and bitterbrush-hopping but I soon found a poleline road and worked my way toward the Northstar Golf Course. Here a well-made community trail took me on a level path around the valley. I had to run along the roadside margin of Highway 267 to get back to the campground road; the traffic in this valley is completely beyond the capacity of local commerce and/or tourism. Where do all these cars come from, and where are they going? Anyway, a nice last evening in Martis Valley.

Due to my late arrival home on Friday and any number of tasks that had to get done following my absence, I swapped my Saturday and Sunday distances. I used the Emma Quarry OB for Saturday's five miles and looked forward to several hours of trail on Sunday.

Marta early on Sunday above Tahoe Meadows
Marta had agreed to pick me up and join me for the start at Tahoe Meadows on Sunday morning. Nice to be in the chill of the morning, again back on the Tahoe Rim Trail. We headed south toward Spooner climbing steadily out of the meadows. Open forest greeted us but soon gave way to the granite boulders and patchy woodlands of the Carson Range. We shared the trail in the early morning until it was about Marta's turn-around point and I headed to the south, slowly climbing toward Tunnel Creek Road and Snow Valley Peak. Sadly, I would learn later that Marta encountered a gravity storm and had a rather rough crash prior to exiting the forest above Tahoe Meadows. She's a bit skinned up and a little battered, but I know she was as jazzed about the trail as I was and isn't too worse for wear; though the next few days might be quite painful. Thanks for the ride and run Marta!

Washoe Valley from the TRT
Marlette Lake from the TRT

Although over 20 miles long, this segment of the TRT is relatively level with a contouring trail that jumps from east-facing views of Washoe Valley to west-facing vistas of Lake Tahoe. It's simply fantastic. I've never felt better in the midst of a long run (though I've yet to have what I might consider a "bad" day on the trail). The views are astounding and I stopped for photos quite often. I opted for small handheld bottles and my Nathan hydration pack (2.0 liters) along with four GUs and several Clif Bloks and felt great the entire run. On previous runs I'd used my Gel-Bot bottles which hold a couple GUs for "easy" consumption, but I think I fuel better when I down a GU right from the package and simply use the bottles for water. As I said, no problems at all today.

As I stopped for photos about 5 miles in, a group of mountain bikers approached. This section of trail is open for MTBs on even-numbered days. As the lead biker saw me he hollered to his pack-mates, "hiker!" "Hiker? Give me a break," I calmly replied. He said sorry and road on as I said hi to the others. I could hear them laughing at my comment as they climbed ahead of me. I soon encountered them at their picture break a half-mile ahead. "Cat 5 bikers," I deadpanned as I strode past them (the lowest rank of categorized road racers). Soon they were on me again and I watched as they handled the bouldery descent with ease.

I met them again at Tunnel Creek Road as they pondered their next move. We talked a little about them map and the trails they had access to and I moved on. One of the guys commented, "Now look how the runner is kicking our asses!" The former leader quickly commented, "No it's worse, the hiker is kicking our ass!" It was a good laugh prior to the good climb toward the ridges of Marlette and Snow Valley peaks. I ran with one of the riders for a while, but soon left him behind on the climb and never saw the group again.

Purple slopes of Lupines
I hit a few snow patches near the apex, but these are small remnants of the larger drifts of weeks past. The late melt, however, has produced a prodigious crop of lupines. These low flowers paint the slopes a solid purple in many places. I've never seen anything like it. The sandy granitic trail forms a small line through the flowers with the blue of Tahoe forming a backdrop. It is simply wonderful and exhilarates the middle miles of the effort.

Snow Valley Peak still ahead

Mount Rose, behind

After Snow Valley Peak, below the cooling winds gusting along the exposed ridge-top, there is a long descent through the warm pine forest to Spooner. The downhill wears on you, and I might have tried for a better pace, but I enjoyed the passing miles and was soon at the Spooner Trailhead where Desna waited. I left some gear, grabbed some water, and quickly left for a half-lap around Spooner Lake and into the State Park so I could reach my goal of 24 miles. Finished in the parking lot in just under five hours. Best run yet, and so nice to see Des at the end of the trail.

On toward Spooner
This week I'm off to Leadville, Colorado, to pace for Darren at the Leadville Trail 100. In the first phase of the Young Mountain Runners - Leadville Week, Dennis and Mary ran a 10K race in the town today. It was their first competitive effort and such a high altitude (Leadville is at 10,000 feet). Mary just missed the bronze in her age group, finishing fourth, and Dennis finished seventh. They particularly enjoyed the big celebration in the last mile to the finish. Dad should be getting me some race details pretty soon, but nevertheless, it was an auspicious start to our week.

Darren is prepping for the altitude of Mt. Ebert and Hope Pass by camping at the high camp in Great Basin National Park for the weekend on their way to Grand Junction.  I will meet the team there on Wednesday. 

1 comment:

  1. No not too worse for wear, though I am quite pleased I still have my teeth and my knees are working! Also, I am up for another go at any part of the trail! I enjoyed the companionship :) I was surprised how fine I felt at nearly 9,000 feet--I knew I would be hooked, especially with those views! Have a great time in CO and tell Darren good luck! Can't wait to hear/read the of the adventure.