Sunday, August 9, 2009

Plain (Pain) Loop 1 Training Run

Rattler at Fox Creek

Thursday August 6th Steve Stoyles, Jenny Appel, Rob "Rattler" Hester, and I headed out to set up camp in Plain WA for a run covering the 56 mile loop 1 section of the Plain 100 course. The readers digest description of this section is two 5000 foot climbs with many sections of trail with fine powder dust that squeaks as it compresses under foot and billows up hanging to choke the runner behind you. The weather was cool in the morning and never seemed to get much over 80 degrees.

Plain 100 Mile Endurance Run has been my targeted long distance race of the year. I ran loop 2 as a night run with Steve, Rattler, & Joe about a month ago and it kicked my butt. I ran 33 miles of loop 1 for reasons I will explain latter and that kicked my butt. To combine these two arse kickers for 34 hours of arse kicking running, power hiking, stumbling, and crawling seems almost unimaginable. My only motivation is that I didn't start either of the runs with a "hundred mile attitude".

Burned section along the course
Jenny, Rob, & Steve

At a water stop at Fox Creek our plans changed when Jenny rolled her ankle while making her way down to the creek for water. She was in a lot of pain and extremely upset at the time thinking she may have just ruined her chance at running Cascade Crest 100, just blew out her ankle in the middle of the Cascade Mt. wilderness, and changed all the other participants plans in one little fall. Fortunately she was wearing an ankle brace on her foot since this was the same ankle she rolled at the Capitol Peak Fat Ass 50K in the beginning of the year. I think the brace really saved the day. Within 5 minutes of the strain Jenny was soaking her ankle in the ice cold water of Fox Creek. I went ahead and filled her 100 oz water bladder and her two water bottles for the climb up Signal Peak. After about 15 minutes of soaking we got her back up to the bridge and loaded her up with the pack and water bottles. As we started to climb it became obvious that it would not be wise to venture further into the deep wilderness and potentially cause more harm to her ankle.

Fortunately the Fox Creek crossing is only about a mile from a small National Forest Service campground called Lake Creek. I opted to stay back with Jenny and our "A" plan was for Rattler and Steve to complete the loop then drive back to rescue Jenny and I. Jenny and I both carried space blankets, lightweight jackets, long sleeve shirts, and enough food to get us through the estimated 14 hours we would need to wait. We had no cell phone service but that was not surprising in the box canyon we were in.

When Jenny and I hiked over the campground she sat at a picnic table and I set off to talk to some campers and find out if there was a Ranger or someone we could talk to to see if we could get back to our campground in Plain. I met a very nice couple that explained the Rangers for the area were in a campground about two miles North at Silver Falls Campground. I set out up the road and ran to the Guard Station at Silver Falls. That's where I met the husband and wife team Steve and Donna. I explained our plight and unfortunately due to the time of day and no phone service about the only thing they could do for us regarding communication was to call an ambulance. Since Jenny had only strained her ankle an ambulance was totally out of the question. I went back to the Lake Creek Campground and Jenny and I took an inventory of our food and supplies. While we were doing that Rangers Steve and Donna showed up to check on us. Turns out they were both ultra runners from Arizona. They were concerned that the temperatures were going to dip down into the mid forties that evening and offered to let us sleep in the back of their personal vehicle which was a Chevy Tahoe. The cabin they lived in was much too small for guests. Given the option of shivering through the night on a picnic table or having an air mattress and blankets in a shelter we took them up on the offer. Little did we know that along with sleeping quarters came a wonderful tortellini dinner and beer! We were entertained by stories of running and rangering until about 10:00 PM when we crashed.

Long story short Rattler and Steve made the climb up Signal Peak and then in an effort to get to Jenny and I sooner decided to try a shortcut on the Jimmy Creek Trail. Like most shortcuts the decision turned out to be a disaster with them missing the trail and ending up on a dead end butte that involved a bunch of climbing before back tracking to find the trail they had passed. The found the trail but it has been used so little that it was difficult to follow and had over 30 large trees fallen over it to climb over. Hindsight both Rattler and Steve felt it would have been better to just stay on the main trail. It took them 10 hours to get back to our camp at about 1:30AM. The showered then threw sleeping bags in the SUV and headed out the 80+ miles to get us. With a stop for gas and some sodas they arrived in the Lake Creek Campground area around 4:00 AM.

I set out at 4:00 AM from Silver Falls Campground to meet up with Rattler and Steve. We found each other about 4:25 AM at the bridge crossing to the campground. We went up and picked up Jenny and headed back to break camp in Plain and have breakfast in Leavenworth. It was a long night for everybody. It was an adventure within the adventure.
View from Klone Peak
Steve at Klone Peak Summit
Yours truly in a flower filled meadow
Two Little Lakes
Grouse Hen (chick was nearby)

I will be spending the next month developing my 100 mile attitude. I'm sure I will be encouraged and motivated by helping mark trail at Cascade Crest 100 mile and watching the runners come through the finish line.

Many many thanks to Steve and Donna for your help and hospitality! You too Steve and Rob!


Anonymous said...

Wow. What an outing. The scenery is awesome. Glad you all got home safe.

runningtwig said...

You guys are intense! Glad y'all are safe!

Donald said...

Gosh, that place looks beautiful. What an adventure.

Scott McMurtrey said...

I'll be pulling for you. Good luck to all of you with the training. What a challenge!

Sarah said...

What an incredible tale. You are certainly a good friend. I know you'll get that 100-mile attitude!

Unknown said...

Ha, ha, ha! Laughing with you not at you. Shawn and I took that same "short cut" last year. We eventually found Jimmy Creek trail but the short cut took us longer than doing the regular course.

I hope Jenny does well at CCC. She's put in a lot of hard work. Hopefully her ankle will hold up through the TFH.

Plain gets you on training runs as well as on race day doesn't she!

- Tony

Journey to a Centum said...

Yes tc, Plain is a real bitch.

Darrell said...

Stuff happens, they say. Sounds like you had a pretty decent time of it without getting the run in.

Anne said...

A little birdie told me you just celebrated a birthday with berry cobbler. Yummmmm. Belated birthday wishes for you, Eric. May they all come true, and some maybe involve running.

runliarun said...

Somehow the notions of crawling and you don't seem to go well together.

Meghan said...

Hello Eric!

Ah, you and the crazy Plain 100 shall meet!

I love the grouse pic, BTW. They are so shy, to get a pic like this is awesome. However, mama grouse was probably a moment away from pecking at your shins to protect her baby. :)

Train on!

Kristina Graubins said...

Hi Eric,

It was great hanging out at mile 68 this weekend. I'm afraid I've caught this 'running bug' that's going around. Is there still room in your marathon this weekend? If so, please shoot me an email (

Thanks for the reads,


lizzie lee said...

Looking fwd to read your 100+miler report... the best for you, hero!!!