Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Tracks

Last week my running miles took a big hit. But I had a good excuse. A huge, 3 day Sierra blizzard, dumping up to 10 feet of fresh snow in what I like to call "my backyard". I just had to take advantage of it.

My first exploration took place near White Cloud along Hwy 20 with Yuba. It was fun to travel on the Pioneer trail that I usually run or bike on. When I snowshoe, I usually go higher in elevation because of the views and wide open spaces. But sometimes traveling through the forest when it's entombed with fresh snow can have a great effect.
Storm damage on the trail
Along the way, Yuba took off straight downhill from the trail. He does this sometimes when we're running and usually catches back up. This time I continued on and after another 20 minutes or so, he was a no-show. So I started backtracking and found no new prints from him. So I got to the point where he descended down off the trail, sighed, and careened down after him. I followed his prints until they suddenly went in about 10 different directions. What to do. I called his name and low and behold, he suddenly appeared from out of the trees. I have no idea what he was doing, why he didn't come back up to the trail to find me, or what he would have done if I'd just gone back to the truck, assuming he had done the same. Oh well, I'm just glad to have my buddy back.
A few days later after some more fresh snow fell, Pat, Yuba, and I parked at the Loch Leven trailhead and discovered to our delight that we were the first visitors to this very popular spot. There was so much snow along the road that we had to use the snow shovel to build steps so we could start our snowshoe hike.
Building steps just to start our hike
Our destination were the railroad tracks about a mile away. It was slow going but very enjoyable. It was probably the hardest mile I've ever travelled as well. We repeatedly sank up to our knees and sometimes mid-thigh. Yuba would venture out on his own only to realize the best route was to travel right behind us.
After 1 hour 18 min we finally got to the tracks and had a little picnic. We were hoping a train would go by but no luck. We started back but of course had to make a little circle because we couldn't follow in our own footprints, that would be too easy. We actually followed the real trail on the way back. It was fun to see the bridge that crosses the creek just before the last climb up to the RR tracks.
These tracks haven't been used in years! (Inside joke)
Bridge just before RR tracks
By the time we got back we were pretty tuckered. A well earned 2 miles.
Pooped pup
Our next adventure took us to the Castle Peak area. This was a lot different because it was a Monday after an absolutely gorgeous weekend. Needless to say, there were trails everywhere! But even still, we were able to find plenty of untracked powder to test our weary legs in.
Castle Peak in background
We made it almost to the ridgeline that separates Castle Peak and Basin Peak. On our way up we noticed some tracks descending from the base of Castle Peak (was that you Gretchen?) It was a beautiful day, lots of sun and little wind.
Lunch stop with Basin Peak in background
Leg burner
We had a lot of fun "running" down the slopes back into the trees on our way back. Just the perfect amount of powder and we floated. The only thing missing was my dad. In years past, we spent a lot of time together on these slopes in both summer and winter and I miss those days. He now lives on the central coast and doesn't get up to this area enough.
Taking the plunge
What a view
So the running miles took a hit but the cross training certainly took off. I think I can equate the workouts to a tempo run (Loch Leven) and intervals (Castle peak). No wonder I've been exhausted this week. And yesterday my 14 mile long run took over 3 hours (but that's another story).


Anonymous said...

Loved reading about your days in the snow. Ah, I know about rusty railroad tracks.!!!
Love you. Mom

MaryM said...

Hi "Cay" from the Murphys....enjoyed your photos of the girls, and all the snow pictures too. Your mommy gave me the link to your blog. The girls have really grown. And are more beautiful than ever...