Posted by: Matt | August 29, 2011

Mount Shavano

Saturday I made my way over to Salida to take a look at a used yurt Tess found on Craig’s List.  The drive there took me though Gunnison and via country that I loved living in when I was younger.  I arrived in the evening after spending a little time in Gunnison marveling at all the changes that have occurred at Western State College (now University I guess) since I left there.  After getting my look at the yurt I decided that driving back over Monarch pass was off the table because the dear were coming out as thick as flies.

I knew I was at the southern end of the Sawatch range and figured I could find the trail head for Shavano/Tabeguache pretty easily.  Sure enough I was bouncing up a well marked road (nothing like that 20 years ago) and rolled into my “distributed” camping spot at about 9:00 PM.  I set up camp and got down to sleeping as soon as possible.  I happened to catch a NOAA weather forecast on the way up which was predicting early T-showers and I wanted to get to the summit and back down below tree level before this prediction rolled in and interrupted my good time.

There’s something about going to bed knowing you’re going to get up to climb a mountain in the morning that makes me sleep like its an sports event.  I woke up long before my watch beeped and feeling well rested and eager I decided that I might as well break camp and head for the trail head.  There was no stopping me even tough I started about two hours before the sun came up.

Sun Breaking the Horizon

Sun Breaking the Horizon

Well above the tree line when the sun broke the eastern horizon I was treated to an event that is worth a week of three AM mornings.  The sun just creeps up behind you and fill you with an overwhelming sense of joy.  You can hear it too, every little bit of life — the pikas, and plants, birds, and even the water — seems to get a charge from it as it clears the dark away and saturates everything.  Its a clean feeling too, better than a hot shower.

Goats enjoying the fresh sunlight with me

Goats enjoying the fresh sunlight with me

The air got thinner and of course I slowed down, but I pushed the hill doing my best to make good time.  I summited Shavano around 7:00 AM and ate my breakfast (tasty granola bar and some water) sitting in the sunlight.

I skipped Tabeguache because even at 7:00 AM there were anvil heads forming over the West Elks and mountains further east of that.  Even thought the distance is much, the climb down the back side of Shavano and then back up Tabeguache is slow going.  And then you have to turn around and do it all over again.  There’s no easy or safe way out, I turned around and made the run back to the trail head meeting people along the way.

Posted by: Matt | August 26, 2011

New Favorites

I put off my run for yesterday because I was feeling a little beat up and tired on account of moving boxes, packing and unpacking. Procrastination turned out to be a real friend this time around. After getting the family to bed last night I packed a bag and headed out for Turkey Flats. It was really the only place on Glade Park that wasn’t getting carpet bombed by lightning storms so it was top of the list.

I drove up to the west trail head and headed up barefoot with a flashlight in my hand (think my head lamp and a pile of shoes are in storage). There was a trace of rain on the ground, just enough to cool things down and make my calves wet from rubbing against vegetation along the way, but there wasn’t really any mud when I started.

As I climbed the first big hill I heard elk bugle somewhere above. Running with bare feet makes it very easy to run very quiet and with the wind in my face I figured I might get lucky and see a few of that herd. Sure enough when my flashlight illuminated a big park further into the quakeys they all startled and took off down the hill into the cover of trees. Crashing and snorting as they went they left that strong elk smell behind them, I continued up the trail.

By the time I made it to where the trail splits south to Haypress the rain had started in earnest, but it was just starting to get good. I continued my way along Turkey Flats trail encountering some recent trail work and a reroute. I spooked some slow elk just after I passed the trail reroute and headed off down the hill to the Ridge Line road where I turned around.

As I ran back up the trail the rain really started to come down. The mud was sticking to my feet with bits of grass and collecting between my toes. This felt pretty nice actually, but was heavy so I stopped periodically to clear the buildup on rocks.


New favorite = barefoot running at night in the rain through aspen tree groves and lighting striking all around.

Posted by: Matt | August 25, 2011

The Next Chapter

I am currently sitting in a chair, which rolls around a floor, built atop a mesa which is undeniably and immovably located in Western Colorado. So unless my chair wheels carry me much farther than I think they’re capable of I am too undeniably and immovably located home. This is oddly enough cause for a bit of cognitive dissonance. Even though I can look out this window and see miles upon miles of scrub steppe with high pine and quakey covered rises at the event horizon my brain seems to have become stuck somewhere in eastern Washington. No, not drawn there, just mentally stuck there. It seems unreal to me that I’m back here and that I’m not intending to return to Washington or anywhere else. A kind of jamais vu where I know this is a new situation despite knowing that I’ve been here before.

Given that I’m not intending to move back to Washington or anywhere else for that matter I can look at the sensations I’m experiencing and have thus concluded the following:

  • My mind is a stubborn bastard not easily changed once set
  • I’m learning the new skill of examining myself, my mind, my thoughts and emotions
  • The mind is a terrible thing

I went for a shorty run yesterday. Out to Black Ridge and back, there are a couple of good hills to climb on this run and it was getting hot by the time I started up the last and biggest of them. I must be doing better with the dryness of the air here because the handheld I took wasn’t that drained when I got back. More to come.

Posted by: Matt | August 15, 2011


I need a run badly 😦

Posted by: Matt | August 9, 2011

The Move is On

I’ll be posting more things for sale and to give away in the next couple of weeks, but that’s because the move is on 100%, right now, one each, get yours while they last.

The trail running opportunities back in Colorado are too much to ignore. We’re excited and ready for the change.

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2011

Moving Home (for the Trails)

I just celebrated my 20 High School graduation with a reunion. What a hoot, it was a treat to spend an evening with friends that I haven’t seen in long while. Better to drink beer with them. Best to talk about running, trails, injuries and the next big race with them. We also got to talk a lot about what comes next.

Tess and I have decided to move back to Colorado, but there’s more. We’ve been planning on making the move this fall and have been putting things together for a long time to make it happen. We’re going to rent out our place in Ellensburg and we’re not 100% sure what we’re going to do for housing after we move out. Lots of options and we’re playing with them at the moment in an attempt to maximize the experience.

I believe that this move will disqualify me as the Ellensburg Alpine Runner, however, although I’ll still be running. Perhaps more now that I’ll be 100% telework and have a collection of trails out my back door. I’ve been eating up the mileage since we got here in early July that’s for sure.

There are some BIG future trail plans in the works too. My parents live just a hop (skip and jump are not necessary) away from Kokopelli’s Trail. I worked on this trail back in the late 80’s as part of a BLM/SCA volunteer trail crew and there is a smoldering coal in my guts to run these 142 miles sometime soon. Lots of other possibilities too (Imogene Pass, Alpine Loop, Colorado Trail) and I get to lose more of the baby fat too boot.

Posted by: Matt | May 24, 2011

Enabled Lifestyle and the Telework Paradigm

This morning I did not head out to run. I’ve been spending the last few mornings working on my vanagan trying to get ready for an extended road trip east to Colorado, my family, and some trails I haven’t had the pleasure of running in a while. Later, when I came in the house and sat down at my desk to get some work taken care of I happened to read a tweet from @Telesaur about how it’s my responsibility to maintain my relationship with may manager. “Right on brother” was about all I could think of at that moment.

The telework agreement I have with may employer allows me a certain level of liberty I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. Just the amount of time it would routinely take for me to get and return from work five days a week would make then prospect of waking up early to work on my bus or go trail running unlikely or impossible.

This liberty is by itself my single most valued perk and a pivotal reason I’ll do just about anything to defend and maintain loyalty in my current position. Because I experience this better kind of life style and I value the differences it brings to living I know that I need to do what’s necessary to maintain it’s foundation.

Maintaining a working relationship with management as well as gaining visibility for your contributions with your employer is merely more difficult when you work away from the office. These are common requirements any employee needs to ensure for the sake of longevity.
The difference in my situation is that I have the added factor of that liberty to consider when I consider my future with my current or future employer.

As a result of this I gain a special motivation, beyond the usual desire to keep my employment, I want to keep my lifestyle. Because of those morning runs, the opportunity to work on my car or bike in the morning instead of fighting traffic, or the potential of a long distance trip I am empowered to be proactive in my relationships with managers and coworkers alike. I don’t fear picking up the phone or writing that email.

Posted by: Matt | May 16, 2011


This morning I took the dogs up to Umtanum Creek trail head for a short trail run along the course of the creek. I had planned on running downhill to the falls and then back out again. This is usually a pretty tame run and the major hazards are snakes, loose stones and roots in the trail. Anyone who watches the weather or who spent any time in the Kittitas valley this weekend knows that we had a very special weekend of weather. I don’t know what the summary of the event looks like, but flooding was experienced across the valley and is still washing out roads, trails and bridges all over the region this morning.

Umtanum Creek isn’t a “well developed” trail system. It has multiple stream crossings which are almost never a challenge. This morning the first couple of crossings were still easy even though the volume of and flow rate of the water in the bed was substantially higher than anything I’d experienced before. The trail head starts just below the source for the creek along the Manastash rise. As the trail descends there are a number of tributary reentrants which are usually very dry, this morning however, they were full of water so the volume of water running through the canyon became impassable very quickly as we descended.

When I arrived at a stream crossing about three quarters of a mile down the canyon it was unavoidably obvious that I was turning around. Without the dogs and with a friend I might have tried to wade the stream, but there was too much water for me to even consider the crossing with the girls in tow. So the trip was a short and muddy one. Time spent, we dried and wiped off the mud and headed back to town.

Posted by: Matt | May 12, 2011

The Slow Pace of Getting Fast

Ouch! Tess and I have made a baby. It took us a while and then there’s the inevitable period of time post baby production where you’re focused on fattening up your new little grub so that he becomes more resilient and is better able to deal with all the hurdles life will toss his way. So there has been a break period. I haven’t been running consistently at all. Now I’ve carved out a little time each morning to get out and enjoy the trail and make some miles pass by and it hurts.

It’s a good thing that the spring is so beautiful. The run this morning took me up Robinson Canyon just south of town along the Manastash ridgeline. It’s a pretty common place for residents in the valley to run and hike, but all the trails are steep and some of them could use some work.

The “run” up the hill kept my heart and lungs engaged for the first half of the run. After the first major hill flattened out a bit I found a log and pulled off my pants. I was sweating pretty well already and the cool morning desert air felt splendid as it passed over my legs. Wow! My legs were burning from the effort and my lungs and heart were working overtime to keep me moving up the hill.

At the summit I turned back around needing to make my way back to town and my office. I avoided the uber steep section of trail I had just climbed and chose to descend along a trail that switchbacks its way down to the canal which borders the area along the north.

By the time I made it back to the trail head there were a number of recent arrivals. Super nice trail to run especially when you have it all to yourself. I’ve got to dedicate some serious time to stretching out some of this pain because the running must go on.

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2010

Stealing Time

Breaking news, I’m still running this year’s Hike-a-Thon. Bit of a family, we’ll call it, “hiccup” kept me from making it to the trail until this morning. But that’s more or less taken care of for the time being and I made it up to the Crest last night and ran a sunrise route this morning. I ended up choosing to do what the WTA trail guide calls a “wilderness superhighway” for two reasons. First, it’s a pretty hike which I suspected would have a good view of the sunrise. Second, no one else would be hiking it at 4 in the morning so I’d get the whole thing to myself. I drove up to the pass after taking care of some last, last, last minute deliverables at work. The sun was going down and I was pretty tired so I decided to conk out for a bit and make it a morning run. I made dinner and slept in Zeno in one of the Alpental parking lots setting my alarms for oh’dark thirty.

Headlamp on I hit the trail at about 4:30 AM and climbed steadily to the pass into the Snow Lake basin. The photos more or less tell the rest of the story. I’ve been exceptionally happy today.

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