Cameron Peak Fire

In the things are continuing to get worse department, a wildfire erupted near Cameron Peak in the Roosevelt National Forest yesterday and has grown to over 2000 acres in size. As you can see in the loop below, the smoke plume is affecting Fort Collins, 50 miles downwind.

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GEOS 17 loop by Dan Lindsey

The Cameron Peak Fire is only a few miles from the Never Summer 100k course and is burning forest I know and love well. I'm going to be staying inside today. No running.

Mapbox updates French imagery

Three years ago I took a houseboat trip on the Canal du Midi. Back at home, I wrote:

Mapbox's imagery of Capestang, a village on the canal, is out of date. We (I work on the team that makes the satellite basemap) will update it, but until we do it affords a look at the way things used to be on the canal. Below you see that the canal in the village was bordered by huge shade trees. You can also see that some of them to the right of Capestang's newer metal bridge are completely dead.

We've done it; we did update the map and Capestang is appropriately deforested. The city is less green, which is sad, but more accurate, which is good. The new imagery was acquired by camera from a plane on June 20, 2018 and made available under an Open Data license by the French Institut national de l’information géographique et forestière (IGN).

You can see the updated imagery in the maps embedded in my older blog post and in this larger version. More details about the update are available on the Mapbox blog.

Back to the State Forest

My family and I escaped the local heat wave for three days and camped on the shores of North Michigan Reservoir (8,900 ft) in the Colorado State Forest. This is a popular campground, but the less popular sites are still available mid-week. Ours had great access to the water that more than made up for the close proximity to the adjacent site. Arabelle and Beatrice fished, got some strikes, and Arabelle landed one very nice rainbow trout. We hiked, played card games, sat around a fire and toasted marshmallows. On our last night the sky cleared up completely and we had several hours of stargazing and meteor watching before we slept. We saw one bright orange Perseid fireball and heard people exclaim from farther down the shore of the reservoir.

While wandering on a hill above the reservoir I realized that I had run near the campground during the Never Summer 100k. After leaving the Bockman aid station (mile 56) at 9:50 p.m. I crossed N. Michigan Creek and in less than a mile traversed a clearcut hillside visible from the reservoir campground and then turned south to climb up and over the shoulder of Gould Mountain.

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Jackson County Road 41A runs through the clearcut in the center of the photo. Gould Mountain is on the right edge.

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The forest around N. Michigan Reservoir has been decimated by bark beetles.

On July 25 I ran across the entire background of the photo above. Right to left, mostly above treeline, and then left to right again, below treeline. It was fun to see the course again from a distance.

Backing out of Quad Rock

I've concluded that three weeks of rest between Never Summer and Quad Rock (on August 15) won't be enough to do well in the 25 miler. I don't feel sore today other than a little shoulder pain and I felt comfortable on an easy run at Pineridge on Wednesday, but I do feel vaguely weary. My left calf, which I'd injured during the 2019 Quad Rock 50 miler, was feeling strained at the end of Never Summer and will benefit from more rest before any more running or power hiking uphill. I registered for the Black Squirrel Half, which is scheduled for September 12. With luck, that will be my next event. Until the middle of August, I'm going to ease back into weight training, yoga, and mellow runs. After that I'll try a few workouts and set some reasonable goals for Black Squirrel.

Never Summer 100k recap

I concluded 25 weeks of training and finished my first 100k race this morning. By the numbers, the past week is among my top weeks.

  • 21 hours, 32 minutes (#1 longest time on feet)

  • 74.2 miles (#4)

  • 14,295 feet D+ (#3)

The Never Summer 100k starts in Gould, Colorado, an unincorporated former logging community 76 miles west of Fort Collins. I arrived early Friday afternoon, set up my tent, and handed over three bags of supplies to be dropped off along the course. This service allows runners who have no crew, like me, to drop or take gear along the way. I sent gallon ziplock bags with my favorite gels and drink mix to the 17 and 29 mile points. I sent a larger waterproof stuff stack to the station at 44 miles with more gels and drink mix, a change of clothing, an extra rain jacket, and a pair of running shoes. The sugar in my bags amounted to 2500 calories. The race provides food and water at seven stations and I planned to eat another 2500 calories of food like peanut M&M's, bananas, and cheese quesadillas. I avoid soft drinks at home, but embrace the sugar and caffeine in Coca-Cola during races.

After saying bye to my bags I went for an hour long easy run on the first miles of the course, turning around after testing the first climb. Back in camp, I snacked on crackers (200 calories), cooked and slurped up two packs of ramen (400 calories), and washed them down with a double IPA (250 calories). After fluffing up my sleeping bag and pillow, I made a large mug of mint tea and then walked away from the camping area to take pictures of the sunset and reflect on my training. I have felt better the night before a race. I've been getting over a sinus infection; my head was still a bit stuffed up and I had experienced some slow pressure release on the drive over Cameron Pass earlier in the day. Knowing that I had trained well (over 250 miles of running and 48,000 feet of climbing in June) helped me put aside worries about my nose and sinuses.

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Last light of day on Seven Utes Mountain

I set an alarm on my phone for 3:45 a.m., but awoke at 2:55 to the clatter of a cowbell sending off the first wave of 10 runners. The race's COVID-19 protocol included wave starts, one every five minutes, to get every runner off the line before the race's nominal start time of 5:20 a.m. My wave began at 4:45. We had overcast, calm, and cool, not cold weather, so I left my jacket and gloves in my vest. We ran and hiked in the dark for most of an hour. I removed and stored my headlamp halfway along the climb up Seven Utes Mountain. I've skied up and down the mountain before, but have never done it in Summer. It affords lovely views and on the descent, just below treeline, is the biggest patch of columbine flowers that I have ever seen.

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Dawn on Seven Utes Mountain (11,478 ft), 6:21 a.m.

Participants in previous editions of the race remarked on upsides to the wave starts. The summits and the trails to them were less crowded, and the lines for portable toilets were much shorter.

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American Lakes basin, 8:27 a.m.

It took me one hour and nine minutes to get to the top of North Diamond Peak from the base of the climb on Colorado highway 14. That pace was fast enough to pass 15 other runners. At the top, I found a small group (trumpet, guitar, drums) playing "99 Red Balloons". Instead of taking a photo, I put on my jacket and gloves for the first time. A light rain had started.

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Medicine Bow Mountains, 10:58 a.m.

I had a misadventure in the middle of the course. Between the Montgomery Pass Ruby Jewel aid stations, somewhere around mile 25, I got off the trail to pee and discovered that my pack was completely unzipped. My rain jacket was missing. I was not so out of my mind yet to dare going above treeline once more without a jacket, so I backtracked to look for it. After hiking a mile, uphill, I found it on the very edge of the trail. Retrieving my jacket cost me almost 30 minutes, but paid off. I needed it on the climb to the cold and rainy saddle above Kelly Lake.

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Kelly Lake, 3:25 p.m.

Peaks and lakes aren't the only natural features on the race course. Quaking aspen trees grow tall in extensive groves below Clear Lake. Unblighted large specimens are uncommon and their beauty is striking.

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Aspen grove, 6:52 p.m.

I've struggled to stay motivated at the end of races, but not in this one. I left the Clearly Canadian aid station at mile 44 with fresh, dry socks and shoes, a turkey and cheese wrap in my hand, and didn't look back. The sky cleared and the trail dried and turned very runnable. On the way to the Bockman aid station I met Jim Wei, a runner from Colorado Springs, and we pushed each other to the finish. I moved up 24 places in the last 17 miles and Jim moved up 25. He was the only one to pass me in those miles. I wrote last week that I had set three tiers of goals for the race; I hit the second one despite my misadventure, finishing in 19 hours, 20 minutes, and 31 seconds.

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Finish line, 12:05 a.m.

I can't thank the race directors, Nick Clark and Brad Bishop, enough. I suspect that between the COVID-19 uncertainties and protocols they put in twice as much effort this year. To all of the generous, kind, masked volunteers on the course: I am eternally grateful. My deepest gratitude is for the support of my family. Ruth, Arabelle, and Beatrice are as proud of my finish as I am.

I'm going to take a short break from running and writing about running, but still plan to be at Quad Rock on August 15.