Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tough Challenge Ahead

Steve on our own personal Trail from Hell.

UPDATE: Yes it's true, we asked some boyscout leaders who were on the Mineral Creek trail with some scouts for some directions. Our map while limited was better than theirs. We also used a "lifeline" and called Rob "Rattler" Hester for some help finding our way from the French Cabin Creek AS to Silver Creek AS. This is where the road caused us some confusion. I should include our chance meeting in the North Bend parking lot at Starbucks in the morning. We ran into "Slug" and "PoSSuM" (Marathon Maniacs) on their way to Yakima for a run and a family visit.

Yesterday Steve, Jamal, and I ran the last 1/3 of the Cascade Crest course. The course was designed by the devil himself and it totally kicked my ass (I thought it, I may as well write it). Garmin logged 12,000 foot of climbing over 28 miles.


We started out at Kachess Lake and headed into the section known as the “Trail from Hell” (TFH). This trail goes along the edge of Kachess Lake. The elevation profile for this section looks relatively flat however it’s 5 miles of roots, rocks, up and down. For our added entertainment if you were to slip and fall along some sections of the trail you would eventually land in the lake after rag dolling down a 40 ft. embankment. We had a map with the general layout of the trail but nothing real detailed. At the end of TFH we were having so much fun that we missed the right turn to the Mineral Creek AS and ended up taking a mile detour before realizing our error. Jamal and I had some fun on this detour doing some boulder scrambling along some massive boulders near Mineral Creek. When we made it to the Mineral Creek AS site we started an 8 mile climb up forest service roads toward Thorp Mt. The No Name Ridge AS site is on a dead end road that is the trail head for single-track trail to Thorp Mt. and French Cabin Mountain. This section is about a 25 on a difficulty scale from 1 to 10. The really enjoyable part is that this all starts at around mile 80 of the 100-mile ultra. I never thought we were going to stop climbing on the first really steep section of “Cardiac Needles”. This SOB section will definitely present the greatest challenge to me during the run. We didn't hike up to the lookout on top of Thorpe Mt. because we were concerned about how late it was getting. The lookout is part of a fun little out and back from the Thorp Mt. AS. You climb about 500 feet to the Lookout and collect a poker chip to prove that you took advantage of every vertical foot of elevation the course can throw at you. We got confused when we came to a road at what we thought was the bottom French Cabin Mt.. Turns out we simply needed to continue on the trail we had been on but it looked like it was going to take us in the opposite direction of where we intended to go. What we discovered, after searching for other trials for about 45 min was that the trial switch backed to the proper direction. The trail is mostly down hill from the French Cabin Creek AS however it has really been torn up by Mt. bikes. Instead of the relatively smooth hiking trail you get a churned up rocky rutted trail. The bikes tear up the top surface and kick up all the rocks to the surface so it's like running on loose uneven gravel. We made it down to our car that we had shuttled earlier that morning at the Kachess Ridge Trail head. Total mileage was about 28 miles with our wayward nature.
Wildlife Report:
  1. Bambi nearly got flattened on the drive to the trail head
  2. Many big fat chipmunks
  3. One big doe that Jamal got really close to as it bounded in front of him.
  4. Two frogs in a creek past French Cabin Creek.

Did I say we saw some incredible views?

Trail from Hell Pics:


The second half of Cascade Crest is obviously the toughest of the course. I’ll need to conserve some energy in the first half to keep the forward motion going in the second half.
Pics from Thorp Mt. Climb & French Cabin Creek:



We came to the end of our run at Kachess Ridge trail head where we had parked the shuttle car. We soaked our legs in a nearby stream and headed to J-Berry's in North Bend for dinner. This run gave me a much better idea of what I'm up against. I have utmost respect for any runner who has completed this course. It's one brutal challenge. Thanks to Steve for his navigational skills, and Jamal for showing us how to power hike up those Cardiac Needles.

34 comments:

Backofpack said...

I have to admit, I was starting to worry last night when I hadn't heard from you. Looks beautiful - can't wait for it to get here!

Mama said...

I was about to call Michelle, because I wasn't sure what time I was supposed to start worrying, when Steve called me. We took Puck for a walk today and I think I probably could have beat Steve in a walking race. ;)
He did tell me how beautiful it was and I believe you will do great. Think positive thoughts.
Be Free,
Lorri

wendy said...

Those pics look amazing, and it's almost hard to imagine something that can be so beautiful can be so agonizing too.

I just shake my head in wonder at the thought of attempting something like this - you guys actually do it, and you have smiles on your faces!

On top of that, you made it out for the run this morning. You define maniac, for sure.

Steve said...

Well we did only get off course twice. The first time we got directions from the Boy Scouts and the second time we called Rob for help. It was a tough run with spectacular views and I am glad we know what to expect before running some of it in the dark. Thanks for sharing another wonderful adventure.

Wes said...

Crazy, crazy, and I'm glad no wildlife were injured in the making of this blog post :-)

Annette said...

A brutal but beautiful place to run. You've got your work cut out for you. But, how nice that you were able to check it out in advance. You are going to do awesome!

olga said...

You are way too serious:) Relax and run!

King Arthur said...

Don't worry about the last 30 miles. I thinks it easier on race day when you are already tired.

Anonymous said...

What a nice surprise to see you in North Bend at Starbucks (great minds think alike).
Good luck to you at CCC.
Stacy "PoSSuM"

robtherunner said...

I think there are times when it is better not to know what lies ahead. You are prepared mentally and physically and you are tough enough to finish. Stay relaxed and have fun and let Steve do the thinking and navigating for the last half. Don't let him be too easy on you though:)

Addy said...

HOw great that you were able to get out and train on the course! That definitely sounds brutal, but at least now you'll be mentally prepared for it. It looks like it'll be a visually spectacular course. Those views, I'm sure, will take away any tiredness you'll be experiencing ;)

Ryan said...

WOW...great pictures, what a beautiful and challenging course. Now kick those ultra feet up and enjoy the rest!

scott keeps running said...

those views are amazing! and everyone sure seemed to be smiling alot. wasn't it supposed to be tough? :)

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

What are you doing to poor Jamal? He is proving to be a great trail runner too I see. The course looks beautiful and every bit as tough as you describe. I think others have said it, but, sometimes it is best not to know just what lies ahead! Let Steve be your guide and you'll do fine! CCC is fast approaching!
Jenny

shawn said...

Wow Eric can you believe it is almost time? You've put in the hours, you know what it takes mentally and I have the greatest belief that you are going to have a great time (finish time that is!)

You took some great pictures. Especially that first one with all the gnarly roots - I'm surprised you didn't photoshop some flames into the picture! That would have been cool - I call copyright to that t-shirt! :)

shawn said...

....oops one more thing...
And many more on channel 4!!
Happy Birthday Eric!
(Thought I'd leave out the part about you smelling like a monkey.)

Try@thlete said...

Happy Birthday!

RR said...
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RR said...

Great write-up and pics. Brought back many memories from my 2002 and 2004 CCC runs. I have to admit though that your comments about the trail from hell sent shivers up my spine. I honestly believe that knowledge of what lays ahead will definitely help you come race day.
Take care and good luck

Jack said...

Happy Birthday! Great write-up and pictures, thanks for sharing.

JustRun said...

Here via Michelle, as usual. Happy Birthday! Great photos in this post, too! :)

Ironayla said...

Happy Birthday :)

Love the photos! I hope CCC goes well for you!

Joe said...

Great pics, Eric.

and happy birthday!! You sure knew how to charm a HS girl!!!

Juls said...

Happy Birthday!

robtherunner said...

Happy Birthday!

Can you please ask your wife to refrain from anymore sappy romantic posts? PLEASE!

Dori said...

Stopped by to wish you Happy Birthday!!!!!

Good luck on your 100 miler in 10 days. It sounds like a memorable race.

Sarah Elaine said...

Great photos!

Oh yeah, and I heard that birthday wishes are in order, too. Happy birthday!

Gretchen said...

Wow, what a cool run! Great photos. I think you are smart to know what lies ahead for the race, you will be ready. Looks like it's going to be an awesome race!

Karen said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog :o) I can't believe what you've got lined up... It does look really pretty .. I'm thinking gentle stroll with day sack and beers at the end... for just one section!!! Can't believe you're going to run it! WOW!

Consider yourself book marked - I'll be tracking you with muchos interest :o) GOOD LUCK :O)

Anonymous said...
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runliarun said...

If you say a course is brutal, then it must be atrocious indeed. But, oh, so beautiful...

And since you get wiser and stronger each year, what you learned here will serve you well in future adventures. Happy Birthday!

Jon said...

I've soooooo got to do CCC. All the pictures that I've seen from you, Glenn T, tc, and others have just got me so smitten with the idea of visiting the course as much as possible next year. I'm definately going to be a pacer for 2008, it's just too tempting not to be there!

And happy belated birthday!

~concrete angel~ said...

Wow, you're making me want to run CC myself! I hope you have a great run!! And your mom's blog insists everyone wishes you happy birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY :) Never disobey a mom!

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