Monday, June 08, 2015

More Crazy, Please

Last year I met a friend of a friend who does what he calls foot things. Basically, Barkley-like races--lots of off-trail travel, following written directions from checkpoint to checkpoint, collecting pages torn from books or other hidden doo-dads to prove you'd been there, usually as steeply as possible. Except this friend lives in Portland, not Tennessee, so some of the races aren't absurdly far away, and also, the races are just getting started, so if you know the right people, you can actually get in. I've mentioned them on the blog before, but I first ran Euchre Bar Massacre on the American River last October, and it was incredible, especially after the mid-race cancellation of the more official race I ran the previous month. In May I did the MeOw Marathons in Whiskeytown, and this weekend I did the inaugural Bone Tempest on Mt. Tamalpais. I sort of won, but there were only seven of us, so it's no big deal. It's not officially a race, either. No money changed hands; it's just a handful of friends hiking on approximately the same route, fairly spread out.

BT was organized by Ginny Laforme and Eric Robinson, who seem to have spent every weekend of the last year finding every absurdly steep creekbed, unofficial trail, game trail, and abandoned fire break on the mountain. They designed a spectacular route, so a big shout out to them.

We started by ascending Fern creek, then descending Lagunitas Firetrail, ascending East Fork Lagunitas creek, descending East Peak Firetrail and Tucker Trail, ascending Bill Williams Creek and Indian Ladder, descending something else, ascending something else to the other peak, descending another firebreak and a trail along some old pipes, ascending Serpentine Knoll, and dropping to a pond not on any maps. That took 12+ hours, and since the mountain closes at dark, there were cutoffs at most checkpoints. I missed my first here at the nameless pond, so I took the assigned shortcut, but that still involved climbing most of the way up the mountain again. Finally, after finding the steering wheel of an old car driven off the road into the ravine, I descended another steep creekbed, while it was getting dark, looking for a rope swing with a bunch of keychain doodads attached to it. Only then could I scramble 400 vertical feet in less than three tenths of a mile up a slope back to where I parked. When I finished my watch said 15,000+ feet of climbing. Strava smoothed that out to 11,851, but still, in 36.8 miles, that's a lot. Basically, everything I could hope for.

As far as competitiveness went, it was weird being in the front of the pack for most of the day. There was nothing mentally to make me push it, since the terrain was often not entirely runnable, I couldn't tell how far in front of everyone I was, and I was reasonably sure that neither I, nor anyone else, had a real shot at finishing the entire course before dark.

Now to design my own similar route in Tilden. Any suggestions? Claremont Canyon, the trail from the top of Dwight, Gwin Canyon, De La Vega EBMUD trail, that singletrack between the Strawberry Canyon firetrail and Grizzly Peak Blvd, and what else?

Marine Layer

Marine Layer

Marine Layer

Ascend the Creekbed

Pre-race prayer meeting?

1 comment:

  1. Garret-- Sorry I haven't responded to your email from earlier this week. I like what you are up to. Looks like a fantastic course and an awesome trend. Right up my alley. I actually have a Tilden (+Strawberry/Claremont Cyn) course for you. Designed it before leaving Berkeley. Tried it once but couldn't finish. Hit all the most obscure rabbit trails... steepest scrambles... guaranteed poison oak. We have to try it sometime. Only now you'll be kicking my ass.