Tuesday, August 26, 2008

OK, School Can Start Now

Nothing gets the I-spent-all-summer-indoors-studying ya-ya's out like running 100 miles, so I took the train up to Truckee and fast-packed the Western States 100 course from Squaw Valley to Auburn. Starting at the base of the resort, the trail climbs through the Granite Chief Wilderness, crosses the PCT, crosses canyons, and follows ridges above the American River down through Foresthill and California's gold country, ending in Auburn. I'd only done the ~15 miles from Foresthill to the river crossing before, so it was fun to see some new terrain. I had originally hoped to keep going along the American River 52 more miles to Sacto, but it was crazy hot out, so I decided to take it (relatively) easy and just do the first 100, in two full days with a tiny bit of change on both ends.

Before starting I spent a few hours hanging out with my friends Scott (read about his recent speed hike in the SD Union-Tribune), his wife Michelle, and the superstars of PCT trail angels, Jeff & Donna Saufley.

Little Bald Mountain Lookout

Deep Canyon Creek

This is totally a mountain lion track, right? But what is the circular pad behind the main one? It doesn't appear in anything I googled. I also saw a bobcat, a few deer, lots of bear scat, and a couple bow hunters.

The hike was pretty frustrating at times, not only because it topped 101 degrees on Monday, but because I wasn't really sure what route to take. The Western States 100 course isn't always exactly the same as the Western States Trail, which sometimes, but not always, is the same thing as the Tevis trail, and sometimes there are separate horse and runner trails. To boot, there was a run on part of the WS100 course the previous weekend that hadn't yet cleared its flagging, so after leading me appropriately for many miles, it helped to confuse things at the Oregon Bar river crossing. (To those who know the trail, the recent race was flagged going up White Oak Flat, the course normally crosses the American at Oregon Bar, the horse ford is 3 miles downriver at Poverty Bar, and the American Discovery Trail route, which I took, avoids crossing the river and goes up to Driver's Flat. I got to Oregon Bar right around dark and didn't feel great about crossing by myself (during the race there's either a rope or a raft). It seemed doable in other places or in daylight, but not right then).

Big and Little Bridges Over the North Fork of the American

Placer High School track in Auburn. While covering the last mile into Auburn, I ran into this cool old retired guy Rex Maynard who's done the race twice and been an aid station captain for years, and as I was doing a ceremonial finishing lap around the track, a teacher who's done the race who was out with some students congratulated me too. That was a cool way to end a run that, although too hot, was a lot of fun.

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