Author: zach

Life List Update As of 2023

Life List Update As of 2023

Since I was a child, I have always been interested being outdoors and observing other animals. However, birding is rarely a hobby that young children become interested in, so I did not begin formally keeping a life list of birds until the latter part of 

Redwood National Park Adventure

Redwood National Park Adventure

After clearing the snow and ice off the driveway, Apryle and I drove off into the darkness en route to Redwood National Park. After about 8.5 hours and 520 miles of driving we arrived at the Lighthouse Inn in Crescent City, California. Although it was 

Seattle Marathon

Seattle Marathon

I signed up for the Seattle Marathon for the second year in a row and essentially kept to a very similar series of events as the 2022 edition. On November 25th, Apryle dropped me off to pick up the packet in downtown Seattle, then we ate Ethiopian food, and birded Union Bay Natural Area. In the early morning Horus of November 26th, we arrived at Seattle Center for the start of the race. This was a stark difference to last year’s race, which started on the UW campus and finished at Husky Stadium. Fortunately this year the race started at 0700 instead of 0600, which meant that the streets were actually visible. Additionally, this year it was a little cooler with temperatures in the low 30s under clear to sunny skies. 

I toed the start line in the first group and hit the street at a fairly fast pace, running the first miles in 5:13, 5:16, and 5:09. As I raced through Belltown and the Central Business District, I felt fairly relaxed, the heart rate was low and I was in a strong pack of about 6 other guys chasing down the lone leader. The roads were quite icy, but I managed to keep my footing. The race turned from the city streets to the HOV lane of I-5 and we circumnavigated the southern end of Lake Union. At about mile 5.1 we crossed the bridge over Lake Union and Portage Bay and then transitioned onto the University of Washington campus.

Around this time I started to let the pack go because I could not sustain the pace. I also had some difficulties not slipping ascending some of the hills on the campus and one runner passed me. However, I managed to keep the pace in the mid 5:30s. Shortly after crossing the Montlake Cut at mile 7.9 a race volunteer pointed me in the wrong direction, but a spectator helped me correct the error. It was also a boost to see John Berta cheering me on around this area. From the Montlake Cut the course followed Lake Washington Boulevard through the Arboretum.

After reaching the junction with Interlaken Boulevard at mile 9.4, the course pitched up along forested street. I continued along the scenic Interlaken trail until merging onto Delmar Drive at mile 10.9. The course then meandered through some neighborhoods before popping out onto Fuhrman Avenue and subsequently the University Bridge. At mile 11.8 I crossed over Portage Bay and with some marginal directions on which way to go, found myself on the Burke Gilman Trail. At this point I ran with another runner who caught me and we reeled in another person who was dropping back. 

As we entered Gas Works Park (13.2 miles), we saw the pack of six exiting the park. The crowds were crazy in this section, I felt like I was at the top of a mountain stage in the Tour de France and a confetti popper even went off in my face. We flew out of the park and back onto the Burke Gilman and took Albion Place to Aurora Avenue. From miles 9 to 14 I was generally keeping the pace in the 5:40s to 5:50s, however, once I hit the climb northbound on Aurora I dropped my slowest mile of the day with a 6:35. I was able to enjoy the half marathon race coming southbound towards me finishing up the race, but unfortunately, I also began to run into half marathon traffic near Green Lake going in my direction. 

Once I hit Green Lake (mile 16.1), the route took me on the outer loop in a counter clockwise direction. The trail was fairly slippery with several icy patches. I tried to run on the gravel parts where possible to avoid slipping. There was a fair amount of pedestrian traffic, which was difficult to navigate on tired legs. A flood of memories came back to me from my early days in Seattle when Apryle lived near Green Lake and we used to do loops together. I tried to refocus on the task at hand and at mile 19, the course transitioned onto the inner loop trail in the clockwise direction. I passed one more runner that was a remnant of the early pack of six. Between miles 16 and 21 I generally held tight around 6:13 pace. Cardiovascularly I felt like I could move faster, but unfortunately, my legs would not turn over any quicker.

Around mile 22, the course diverted from Green Lake back onto Aurora Avenue. This is where I clicked of two slow miles of 6:35 and 6:40. This section was nightmarish because I had to find my way through a small packed pathway with half marathon runners spanning the entire road. I had to dodge runners for the final four miles of the race. However, It was a very interesting sight crossing the Fremont Cut with the fog hanging thick in the air over the bridge. In the confusion of people I must have gotten passed once more. I clicked off miles in the low 6 minute range and finished at Memorial Stadium with a new PR time of 2:38:21. 

Despite the generally hilly nature of the Seattle Marathon I somehow keep running personal bests there. I was quite surprised this year because not only did the course feature 1300 vertical feet, but it was also fairly icy and .3 miles too long. Overall, I finished in 9th position and I was fairly happy with my effort. Thanks to Apryle for all the support and helping me both before and after the race.

Total Mileage (Km)Mileage Between (Km)Total TimeTime BetweenOveral Pace (minutes per mile)Lap Pace (minutes per mile)
550:16:190:16:195:155:15
1050:33:420:17:235:255:35
1550:51:430:18:015:325:47
2051:10:200:18:375:395:59
2551:29:100:18:505:446:03
3051:48:230:19:135:486:11
3552:08:010:19:385:536:19
4052:28:040:20:035:576:27
42.72.72:38:210:10:175:586:07
Mile LandmarksTimePace
10 Miles0:55:495:35
Half Marathon1:14:025:39
Marathon2:36:285:58
Mount Si Hill Climb and North Bend Skyline 30K

Mount Si Hill Climb and North Bend Skyline 30K

After my Wonderland Loop, I throttled down on the mileage and geared up for two relatively short steep races in North Bend: Mount Si Hill Climb and North Bend Trail Fest 30K. These races were the vision of my friend Scott Sowle and he and 

The Ruff

The Ruff

The Ruff has be on my radar for a few years, but I have never made the long voyage down to the Columbia River Gorge for such a short distance race. However, this year I signed up for The Ruff as a unique final workout 

Ohio Reunion Part III: Wetland Birding Adventures and Class Reunion

Ohio Reunion Part III: Wetland Birding Adventures and Class Reunion

On the evening of August 24th after arriving in Tiffin, I decided to drive north to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, where I hoped to bird the next morning. However, I heard on the radio that a tornado was spotted near the refuge and was headed south towards me. The wind howled, debris blew across the road, lightning illuminated the night sky and I sped back to Tiffin to spend the night in my car. Rain poured all night but I managed to get a few hours sleep before heading back northward to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. August 25th marked my third trip up to this birding hotspot and despite being an August morning, the weather was cold and misty. 

I first walked around Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk in search of the elusive American Woodcock. I was unsuccessful in locating the bird, so I decided to run loops around the pools and then traverse the landscape over to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. This area is south of Lake Erie, surrounding the Crane Creek Estuary and is home to hundreds of thousands of birds. The refuge and surrounding area was once a part of the Great Black Swamp. The 8100 acre refuge was established in 1961 under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. 

Following my 10.5 mile run around Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge I continued up the Lake Erie coast to Maumee Bay State Park. The weather was still cloudy and misty and the wind began blowing strong from Lake Erie. I ran 6.1 miles around the park which features a wooden boardwalk, sandy beach, prairie, woodlands, and a large out of place hill. This was the site of one of my favorite high school cross country invitationals – Cardinal Stritch 5K. I took a trip down memory lane and retraced the steps of my teenage self. Most of the trails were under water on this particular occasion and I was drenched by the time I finished up the run. The 1336 acre Maumee Bay State Park was established in 1975 and makes up a small portion of the former Great Black Swamp as well. The Great Black Swamp was once 120 miles long and 40 miles wide and even though it was once compared to the Everglades it is now only a small coastal strip to the south of Lake Erie.

Birds from Ottawa NWR and Maumee Bay State Park: Trumpeter Swan, Canada Goose, Red-Headed Woodpecker, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Northern Harrier, Coopers Hawk, Killdeer, Ringbilled Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Tree Swallow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird.

After my adventures at Lake Erie, I drove back to Tiffin and walked around Tiffin Stadium and the old Calvert field house before meeting up with some old high school friends for the evening. On August 26th I woke up early and drove to Springville Marsh to again look for the American Woodcock and after two loops around the marsh boardwalk I gave up on the search. Springville Marsh is 267 acres and is the largest inland wetland in northwest Ohio. Following my Springville Marsh outing, I drove back to Tiffin and ran 10 miles around Hedges Boyer Park. I retraced the old Tiffin Cross Country Carnival course, my second trip down high school cross country memory lane. 

Following the run I met up with Craig, Emily, Goose, Paige, and Joe (Old Man) at the St Joes Gym (my old grade school gym) and played several pick up games of basketball and volleyball. Following the open gym, I met up with my Aunt Deb and Uncle Jerry and we visited my uncle Billy in Clyde. Finally in the evening I attended my 15 year high school reunion at the Train Depot. Although the nature trips were amazing, the main purpose of my trip was to visit with family and friends and I am grateful that I was able to reconnect with so many of them. 

Birds from Tiffin: American Goldfinch, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Canada Goose, Snow Goose, Domestic Goose.

On my last day in Ohio, I woke up very early again and drove to Springville Marsh where in the predawn hours, I walked around the boardwalk in search of the American Woodcock. I finally found the bird that has occupied my thoughts for several years at 0638 and followed it along the boardwalk for several minutes before it disappeared into the marsh. Then, for the second time I assisted with Tom and Paula Bartlett’s bird banding and we had a great day with 22 unique species. After bird banding, I began my drive back to Cleveland International Airport. However, on the way I finally stopped at Findley State Park. 

This state park had been on my list to visit for 15 years, because I used to pass it each time I drove to and from college. Findley State Park is 838 acres and is heavily wooded with pines and hardwoods. The central feature of the park is Findley Lake and the trails around the lake meander through woodlands and meadows and it also connects to the Buckeye trail. I did a quick 6.1 mile circumnavigation of the park and finally ended my summer trip back to Ohio.

Springville Marsh Bird Banding Stats: 9 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee, 2 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, 1 Warbling Vireo, 26 Gray Catbird, 20 American Goldfinch, 1 Orchard Oriole, 6 Ovenbird, 1 Northern Waterthrush, 3 Black-and-white Warbler, 2 Tennessee Warbler, 5 Common Yellowthroat, 11 American Redstart, 11 Magnolia Warbler, 5 Bay-breasted Warbler, 2 Chestnut-sided Warbler, 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 1 Canada Warbler, 1 Northern Cardinal, 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 2 Indigo Bunting, 1 American Woodcock.

Raising Chickens!

Raising Chickens!

On March 31st 2023, following a long run on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Apryle and I went to a small farm in Fall City, Washington and adopted six little chickens. The six downy feathered birds fit neatly in a shoebox and when we arrived home 

Ohio Reunion Part II: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio Reunion Part II: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Following my Rocky River Reservation run, I continued towards the northern terminus of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Since there was a rain storm the previous evening, I assumed the waterfalls would be roaring down the Cuyahoga River Valley, so visiting waterfalls was the focus of 

The Wonderland Loop

The Wonderland Loop

I have wanted to attempt the Wonderland trail at Mount Rainier National Park since 2016 and after a brief discussion with Apryle on September 6th, we decided that September 8th would be a good time for me to give it a try. Even though this may seem very cavalier, at any given time in the year, I generally feel comfortable running a hundred miles on fairly short notice. I suppose it would appear that I rushed into it unprepared, but I believe that I have been preparing everyday for the past 18 years. So on Friday morning I went for a short bicycle ride and trimmed some shrubs near the chicken coop and spent the rest of the day preparing my food for the run. I met up with Troy and he took some drop bags, one for Longmire and one for Mowich Lake. My goal was to start and finish the run at White River Campground and resupply at Longmire and Mowich Lake.

I started the run at 1839 on Friday September 8th under mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 50s. I took off in a clockwise direction and my first major landmark came just a minute into the run, the White River. I caught a stunning view of Mount Rainier in the distance with the thundering White River snaking into the valley. I crossed a small log bridge with silty water tumbling inches beneath me. After clearing the rocky riverbed I reentered the forest and glided along the smooth trails towards Frying Pan Creek. I am quite familiar with this section as it is a Szablewski family tradition to hike to Panhandle Gap each summer. Our favorite section of Mount Rainier is Summerland. 

I began the ascent up to Summerland in the waning light. The setting sun cast a beautiful glow on the yellowing vegetation below and the towering gray cliffs above. I crossed Fryingpan Creek in 1:06 (mile 5.7). I had to turn on my headlamp upon reaching Summerland in order to cross the creeks without getting my feet wet. I passed through the vegetation and onto the moonscape towards Panhandle Gap (highpoint 6620 feet). I took advantage of the alpine cell service and called Apryle to say goodnight before I passed into the darkness of the night and darkness of phone coverage. I was utterly alone as I passed over a rocky landscape towards the pass. The sky was punctuated by vibrant stars, the brightest of which was my headlamp pointed at the pebbles in front of my feet. I passed over the gap in 1:57:28 (8.1 miles; 2800 foot ascent) and descended towards Indian Bar.

As I barreled down the steep slope, I saw lights in the distance from the Indian Bar Campsite at the river below. I heard branches crack and heavy footsteps thundering down the slope followed by two glowing eyes staring back up at me from the ravine… a deer, an elk, or even a bear? I assumed bear, but I suppose I will never know, but just glad that whatever it was, it ran away. The narrow trail emptied out into a sandy riverbed of the Ohanapecosh River (mile 11.2 2:46) and I continued to follow the trail to a small wooden bridge that traversed a steep narrow canyon. The scary drop off and waterfall were not visible below my feet, but I knew they were there. I passed by the cabin possessing the lights I saw in the distance and observed a group of people enjoying a relaxing evening… I was envious for a second, and then I came to my senses.

I began another ascent towards the Cowlitz Divide and here I saw four more sets of glowing eyes, the first set of eyes stared me down as I passed and I continued to look behind to be sure I was not followed. The second set barreled down the hill ahead of me and the third and forth were together and were least intimidating because I assumed they were deer. I reached the junction with the Cowlitz Divide trail (mile 15.7 3:52) and descended into the forest. I filled my hydration flasks at Nickel Creek (mile 17.6 4:17) and made my way to the Stevens Canyon Road. I accidentally ran into a parking lot (mile 18.4 4:28) and then quickly returned to the trail. The trail paralleled Stevens Creek for several miles and gradually ascended a sandy cliff. When I reached a particularly steep portion of the cliff there was virtually no distinguishable trail in the dark. I was concerned that I made a wrong turn, but eventually saw a path ahead. The route was tenuous and the sand was pushing downward beneath my feet, I hoped I didn’t burry the millipede that was also crawling up the sand, but I was too nervous to look back. There was a fairly steep drop off and a very small margin for error, but I managed to squeeze past and onto a more solid trail. 

The route continued uphill and again crossed Stevens Canyon Road en route to Lake Louise (mile 24.9 6:06; 2200 foot ascent). For the next few miles I paralleled Stevens Canyon Road past upland lakes. This was actually an eerie section, because to my right there were shallow black waters and to my left there was a vast empty asphalt path. I felt very alone. However, it was a pleasant flat stretch of trail and quite beautiful as the frost of the vegetation was gleaming in the light of the headlamp. Shortly after passing Reflection Lake around mile 26.5 (6:27) I ran into Troy Haeseler, who came out to pace me for a while. We descended the smooth trail and passed over Paradise River. After following Paradise River, we eventually crossed the wooden bridge of the Nisqually River. Then I continued down to Longmire, which I reached at mile 31.9 in about 7:39. Troy set up a makeshift aid station complete with a chair and I put down some calories. Then to my surprise, Troy said he would continue with me a while. We continued together and ascended the trail up towards Kauts Creek. We passed over the creek and back into the forest and my energy was decreasing quickly.

I began to feel very nauseous and drowsy as we hiked up the switchbacking trail. Shortly after crossing Pyramid Creek, Troy pealed off and I decided to take my first nap. I was only out for a few minutes and hit the trail again to warm up. I passed over Fishers Hornpipe Creek, and then passed Devil’s Dream Campsites and took another quick nap. Not soon after that, I took my third micronap before entering the forest clearing at Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground. This section of trail passed through open upland meadows and the ambient temperatures plummeted into the mid 40s. There was a veneer of frost that coated the surrounding vegetation. I was on the look out for bear as I passed by marshes and Kiya Lake.

Upon reentering the forest, at mile 40 (11:13) I took another quick nap, number 4 of the trip. My nausea was getting worse and worse, and right on schedule, at about mile 40. Generally at 35 to 60 miles into a run, my digestive system turns on me and I struggle to keep calories down. This has happened at Run Rabbit Run in 2018, Desert Solstice in 2019, Washington PCT in 2020, Teanaway in 2022, and most recently Fat Dog in 2023. On some occasions I can nurse myself back to health, but not without hemorrhaging huge chunks of time. Since I was not concerned with time on the Wonderland, it was a great opportunity to experiment with different strategies. In less than a mile after my fourth nap, I stopped for number 5, and this came right before the Tahoma Creek suspension bridge. 

At first the suspension bridge looked amazing, the sun was just coming up and illuminating the landscape and after the fifth nap, I was feeling quite good. However, looking closer at the suspension bridge, I was fairly intimidated. It made the Carbon River suspension bridge look like a log over a creek. The bridge is a 200 foot cable suspension bridge that sets 165 feet off the deck with the thundering Tahoma Creek below. I slowly but purposefully crossed and was grateful that no wood rungs snapped. Upon reaching the other side I began eating slices of cheese pizza and decided that after choking down 6 gels in the first 30 miles, that I was done with sugary gels for the duration of the run. 

I continued up the ridgeline that paralleled Tahoma Creek and the towering trees became sparser and sparser as I gained elevation. The views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding cliffs were gorgeous; the snowcap of the mountain transitioned to gray brown crags below while the short green firs/spruces punctuated the rocky landscape. I reached the highpoint of 5523 feet and was greeted by a cute little Pika. After saying hello, I began another weaving descent at mile 43.2 (12:47). Unfortunately, with the naps, digestive issues, and subsequent weakness, it took me almost 5 hours to do 12 miles (from Longmire to Emerald Ridge), however, I was happy I did not vomit and was still progressing forward.

I was able to keep a jogging pace as I descended the trail that paralleled the South Puyallup River. I crossed the river (mile 44.9) in 13:16 and then began another 1500 foot ascent up to Saint Andrews Lake which I reached in 14:28 (mile 48). The temperatures rose on the climb with the rising sun, increasing from the upper 50s to the low 70s. Saint Andrews Lake was appeared to be low with mineral deposits lining an extended sandy shore. Two waterfowl squawked and swam to the other end of the lake as I passed. I took in the alpine scenery and reminisced about the last time I was in the southwest portion of Mount Rainier National Park  with Kenny Janosko back in 2018. My legs were felling pretty good as I jogged around a virtually absent Aurora Lake. The minimal tree cover provided some interest to the barren alpine. After a short time in the Klapatchie alpine region, I made a steep switchbacking 3 mile (2200 foot) descent to the North Puyallup River crossing. The descent featured roughly 28 switchbacks and along the twentieth one I sustained my first bee sting. It was a minor annoyance and it finally felt like summer in the mountains after I was greeted by the ill-tempered flying insect.

The North Puyallup River crossing (mile 51.4 15:18) was beautiful, there was sturdy bridge with a tumbling waterfall below. I took some time to enjoy the falls and then downed some more pizza on the more gradual portion of the climb back up out of the valley. As I ascended yet again, I realized that I became most nauseous on the climbs. I dug the poles into the springy soil beneath my feet and tried to leverage all my muscles to drag myself up to the Golden Lakes. I broke the tree line and reached the highpoint in 55.7 (16:50), the temperatures soared into the low 80s and the alpine provided no shade from the intense sunlight. I passed by 17 different lakes and spotted 3 Black Bear (that I know of) and each of them darted away as I approached. The trail varied between rutted single track and wooden planks. I reached the end of the Golden Lakes region and the western fringe of the park in 17:32 (mile 58.6). From there I descended 2000 feet down to South Mowich River and soon there after, the Mowich River (mile 63 in 18:35; meaning the second 32 miles took me about 11 hours compared to 7.5 for the first 31). The Golden Mowich descent featured 24 switchbacks and while I was loosing elevation I was trying to figure out the Wonderland map in my head. For some reason, I thought I would reach Mowich Lake via Spray Park, so with my mind sufficiently blown, I made my way through the never-ending Mowich River valley.

From there I began the climb up to Mowich Lake where Troy cached some more calories. On this climb I finished my pizza and bread, and because I had sworn off gels, I was running low on food. Unfortunately running water was a commodity on this climb and my hydration flasks ran a little dry, making this climb even more challenging. After 2200 feet of climbing, I reached Mowich Lake in 66.8 miles (20:11). At this point I knew that I would be finishing in the dark and after walking back and forth in the campground for a few minutes, I finally located the Wonderland trail and wandered along the banks of the lake. There were hundreds of people which spurred me along to a faster pace to get free of the crowds. I reached Ipsut Pass in 20:35 (mile 68.3) and began the steep descent to the Carbon River. This was probably the most painful portion of the entire run for me, my quads were weak and doing little to cushion the pressure on my knees. It appears that the park workers must have cleared this trail out, because the last time I ran it with Apryle, the vegetation was overtaking the trail. 

I followed Ipsut Creek on the descent and made a crossing over Doe Creek before reaching a trail junction at the base of the slope after a loss of 1500 feet(mile 71.9 21:41). I met a guy also running the Wonderland who informed me that I had about 19 miles to go according to his watch. I was happy it was under 20 miles and made a goal to reach Mystic Lake before nightfall. The Carbon River Valley featured numerous logs in order to cross the sprawling riverbed. I was very glad that the park workers installed all the log bridges, because otherwise the river would have been impassable. After wandering around the river for about 2.5 miles, I began the ascent up and out of the Carbon River Valley. I was treated to views of Mount Rainier and the Carbon River Glacier. Also I saw one of my favorite Washington reptiles, the Northern Alligator Lizard, it was absorbing the sunlight on a small boulder. On the climb, I passed over the Dick Creek reroute at mile 76.6 (23:29). I then followed Moraine Creek as I passed into a narrow upland meadow and temperatures began to quickly drop from the mid 70s to mid 50s. I topped out at a highpoint of 5820 feet (mile 79.6 24:54) after a relentless 3400 foot climb. After a slight descent I reached Mystic Lake at mile 80 (25:08), just as the darkness engulfed the my surroundings. 

I got out the headlamp once again passed by some campers as I descended back into the forest. I had not really been eating much of anything since the Carbon River Valley, but I did not feel low on energy. After just a mile descent, I crossed the West Fork of the White River, a reminder I was nearing my final destination. I passed over Wintrop Creek at mile 82.6 (26:05) and then took my sixth nap (but first in 14 hours) between some willows in the sand on the banks of the creek. Then I quickly crossed Granite Creek right after Wintrop Creek. After the 1400 foot descent to Wintrop Creek, I began my last big ascent to Skyscraper Pass. I was fading in and out on the climb and needed to take one more nap, so at mile 84.1 (27:01) I laid down in the dust on the trail and passed out for 13 minutes. It was so comfortable and I slept so soundly that after awaking from a dream, I forgot where I was. After realizing I was not in my bedroom, I started walking, and then I realized that I was on the Wonderland, and that I was going uphill, not downhill before I fell asleep. I turned around and charged up to Skyscraper Pass. I was surprised being so close to the pass, how large and tall all the trees were on the slope. I topped out at 6570 feet at mile 86.3 (28:07).

I was in familiar territory near the Burrows Mountain loop, which reminded me of what an amazing year at Mount Rainier it has been. I completed the Chinook Pass Loop with Rob Irr, the Summerland Sliver Falls Traverse with Apryle, the Spray Park Ipsut Pass loop with Apryle, the Burroughs Mountain Loop with Apryle and Dad, the Little Ranger Noble Nob Loop with Apryle, the Norse Peak Loop with Apryle, and countless other Rainier area adventures with Apryle and Dad. As I descended in the alpine towards Sunrise Campground, my headlamp died and I was forced to switch to my cellphone flashlight. 

There were a few headlamps in the distance as I passed through the treeless alpine. I got a text message out to Apryle and Troy to let them know that I was nearing the finish. Shrubs and trees started to emerge as I passed by Shadow Lake and then finally began the descent to White River at mile 90.2 (29:31). The steep trail through the forest seemed to go on forever. I passed by a Black-tailed Deer buck that was seething at my presence, but he did not attempt to spar, realizing I was not much of a threat to his territory. However, lower on the slope I heard some thumping and noticed two eyes disappear into the darkness, perhaps a Mountain Lion? I hope not, but I will never know. After 15 switchbacks and a loss of 1800 feet in 2.1 miles, I reached White River Campground and promptly went the wrong way towards the campsites instead of my car. I had to back track and finally reached the car and stopped the watch in 30:20:40 (0100 on September 10th) with a distance of 92.93. This meant that I did the last 30 miles in about 11.7 hours, meaning I stayed consistently slow for the final 62 miles of the adventure. 

It was calm and empty in the parking lot. I breathed a sigh of relief to be done with my Mount Rainier circumnavigation. I was elated to have accomplished my goal of completing the loop, but could not help but feel a little disappointed with how long it took me to complete the task. However, this was an important moment for me, Troy assisted with a few miles and some crewing early on, but I mostly ran this effort solo and was solely responsible for getting myself back. In all my other hundreds, I had numerous aid stations and pacers, but with this effort, there was little margin for error. I learned some things about my nutrition, my ability to micronap, and most importantly my ability to persevere in the face of a challenge. I am thankful to Troy for sharing some miles and assisting with food resupply and to Apryle for taking care of our birds while I spent a day running around the mountain. 

Distance (Miles): 92.93

Time (HR:MM:SS): 30:20:40

Elevation Gain(Feet): 24,491

Ohio Reunion Part I: Rocky River FKT

Ohio Reunion Part I: Rocky River FKT

I traveled back to my home state of Ohio for my fifteen year high school reunion on August 24th 2023. After stepping off the red eye flight, I headed straight for Berea Falls near my old college campus in order to pursue the Rocky River