Monday- 9.1 miles, 2,000ft climbing, time trial. Ran my first timed ascent up Sentinel Peak on this run with Jeremy Wolf. Starting at the the “M” trailhead we gave a good effort run up to the summit. I made a wrong turn for about 15 seconds at the base of the “M” and Jeremy corrected me, then I took another wrong turn around the top of the summit instead of taking the ridge which cost me another minute or two. In the end I ran a tired 25:15 to the top with a very tired Jeremy finishing in 26:55 (he has done it in 22 minutes). Once back together Jeremy and I sort of pushed the pace down smokejumper and then easy back home. I’m going to make my own FKT listing for Sentinel on my site using the results from last year’s race and any comments I receive. Some super fast firefighter guy has the FKT (as far as I know) in 20 minutes low with Mike Wolf a minuteish behind that. Good first harder run up this iconic Missoulian peak.
Tuesday- 9.8 miles, 1,700ft climbing easy run with Jeremy up Maurice and down Smokejumper. Last run with Jeremy before he heads to Italy Wednesday.
Wednesday- 25.1 miles, 6,200ft climbing long run up Stuart Peak and back. See post.
Thursday- 12.1 miles, 1,300ft climbing easy run from Felix’s day care to North Hills and back.
Friday- 11.8 miles, 1,600ft climbing easy run on trail 3.01 at Blue Mountain. I felt better and more perky on this run than I have in a long time… like since last year. I had a hard time turning around (which hasn’t happened in a while either) and then was so lost in though on the way back I got lost for a mile or so. Feels great.
Saturday- 25ish miles, 5,800ft climbing, adventure quest with Patrick Murphy. Patrick and I conjured up a great running adventure for today’s long run. After talking to some people about the Bitterroot mountains and studying the numerous canyons on the topo map, we came up with the idea of running up the middle fork of Bear Creek to Bryan Lake, make the ridge next to Sky Pilot Peak then go off trail down to South Fork Lake, down the south fork of Big Creek and finish at the trailhead where Maggie and Felix would be waiting for us.
As always with involved point to point long runs, especially when they involve off trail running, things take a long time and there are at least a few surprises. The run up Bear Creek lead to our first surprise, less than 3 miles in, where we suddenly were running into dead ends, creek crossings, downed trees and confusion. After about 20 minutes of exploring several trail spurs, crossing the creek via massive downed Tamaracks, I broke down and looked at the photo of the map on my phone and realized we were at the junction of the middle and south fork of Bear Creek. Our trail crossed the creek earlier and that we needed to go back and across. It is amazing how I still hesitate to just stop and look at maps. Back on the trail we made our way to 6,000ft and found the snow to be at lower altitudes than in the Rattlesnake area. The snow was relatively runnable on top, but it took a while for it to firm up when we first ran into it coupled with the slow going of staying on trail. Close to our big right turn north, the snow was firming up well and we stopped looking for the trail and just ran based on landmarks. We quickly made Bryan Lake then pushed on to the steep climb up to the ridge.
At the ridge and base of Sky Pilot we were giddy with the gorgeous views, surrounding valleys and mountains. Patrick and I then decided to make a go at Sky Pilot soaring to nearly 9,000ft next to us. We made it a ways up (8,216ft) then realized the rock scrambling and snow ascent was getting a bit much for our situation. Our situation was shorts, t-shirts, 10 miles out and uncertain of what lay ahead, so we quit the ascent and scoped our descent. The decided descent was a 40-45 degree glissade down 250 meters to the far end of the ridge near the Big Creek drainage. Patrick was very skeptical, so I took the leap of faith and flew down on my butt and feet with no incident besides dozens of micro lacerations on my shins and hands.
After a few more glissades, some running and navigating around cliffs we were down to the bigger lake. From the lake on the “South Fork of Big Creek” trail we encountered our biggest challenge. The trail was all but abandoned… for good reason. This part of the Big Creek drainage is extremely prone to avalanche and there were a few miles of down trees to prove it. The few miles of gymnastics and plyometrics was fun at first but then began to get frustrating and tiring. The mud, creek and water crossings, crawling and route finding was exhausting. Finally to the main Big Creek drainage we cruised the 8 or so miles back to the car and a warm welcoming from Maggie and Felix.
Sunday- 11.9 miles, 1,500ft climbing, recovery run up Blodget Canyon/Creek. Blodget Canyon is spectacular. I really enjoyed running up the canyon with huge granite walls and spires on both sides of me. The creek was flowing well and boasted amazing slides over granite and cascading waterfall like rapids cruising down the valley. The trail was pretty technical but the grade was very mellow considering the surroundings. Blodget reminds me a bit of Conundrum Creek in Colorado with amazing mountains and ridges on each side, a cool cascading creek and a mellow grade for many miles. I look forward to further exploring this drainage in the future. The only negative on this run was my sore and tired body. I was flat and sore from yesterday’s long all body 6hr workout and was ready to be done at about 8 miles on this easy run. This was the only day I didn’t follow my rule of feeling good all week, but the trail demanded me to run further.
20,100 Feet Climbed
I stuck to my guns… except for Sunday. I was not spry running through Blodget Canyon, but the long adventure Saturday had me sore and flat. Again, it feels so, so great to be running with energy and bounce again and I’m excited for the season ahead. 105 miles and 20k of climbing on the week is going to get me ready for some good racing and adventures this summer. Next Saturday I race the Pocatello 50k which will be a great time. Luke Nelson puts on a great race with tons of climbing covering a great loop. I’m really looking forward to the camper friendly start and finish line festivities as well!
Also just around the corner is our run through the Italian Dolomites. The Dolomite adventure will be fantastic, covering 100-150 miles over 5 days of hut to hut high alpine running through spectacular mountains… just carrying our Ultimate Direction PB packs. Look for a post previewing this fun time!