Thursday, July 5, 2012

Altitude with Friends: Western States 100, Yosemite, and Sequoia

Filling You in since the last post: I didn't run the Road Mile, my back was not having it.  And the steeple at the USATF-NJ Track Championship didn't go well either(lower back probs), but I did run the towpath training run(34.2miles), and I didn't fall to pieces.  I'm fighting the good fight still.  And So, we went to Cali.

No, I did not run the WS100, my buddy Mike Dixon did.  I went along to watch/support, it was exciting and motivating to see people testing their endurance over such extreme terrain.  High altitude trail running is most challenging, Lindsay and I took an "easy run" with his helmet cam up the first couple miles of the race course later that morning to get a feel for what the racers all experienced, we went up 40mins and back down in 20, and I don't think we went very far(maybe 3miles up, and that might be generous). I want to run that race in 2014!
 The adventure of running trails is ever enticing, a whispering in my heart tells me, "go west young man", in an old-timey kinda way.  A strange guy with a ridiculous top hat and a big curly mustache is probably living inside my left ventricle.  Yeah, he's in there, and he's been slowly manipulating my thought processes for quite some time.
Just 3 drops of this magical elixir and you will recover from high altitude runs in mere minutes!
So, we rented a couple RV's.  Saw Dixon start the race along with several hundred other Mountain Goats, and then we slept a while until moving on to see him in Forest Hill at mile 62!  Everyone in town was very interested in the race, seeing all the action at the aid station was cool.  I enjoyed the opportunity to encourage every runner that came along as we waited for Dixon at Bath Rd.
  2011 start, check out the later part of the video as they climb. Note the goofball who false starts!

Quick Background: Dixon and I drove from NJ to Yosemite back in the summer of 2005, not to run, we mostly hiked, runs took place from motels in various states.  So anyway, this was a nice return to a place both of us, and our friends have been or wanting to come back to (for at least half of them it was actually their first visit there).
So, we went on to see Dixon again at mile 99, where we ran with him back to the finish at Placerville HS' track.  Surprisingly, he had a bit left in his legs and ran what seemed like a fast speed in the last 200m!  We also saw some other finishers coming in ahead of him on the run to meet him at 99, men and women both, of varying ages.  Endurance running really levels the field at a certain point.  Such incredible accomplishments for them all!

I caught 3hrs of sleep before rolled out to hit a trail head on the edge of the Yosemite Valley, we parked RV1 at the trailhead, where the other bunch could get it later that day. We backpacked in on the Big Oak Flat Trail to the top of El Capitan.

5:58am roughly, sunrisi on top of El Capitan!
Dinner time near El Captian with Lindsay Hamoudi, Mary Nguyen, not pictured are Kyle Spencer and Lauren Santonastaso

The next day, the five of us continued to the top of Yosemite Falls and took the Yo' Falls trail down into the Valley where the inhabitants of RV2 were waiting to pick us up.  Carrying 50lbs of gear down a steep trail is rough, the only medicine for this of course was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale!  
We drank plenty of this stuff!

We took a day off to recover and relax and hang with the whole gang(14-15people), and so the following day 6 of us hiked up to the top of Half Dome, a challenging and visually rewarding hike, 2 huge waterfalls(Vernal and Nevada) along the Mist and John Muir Trails, and climbing up the cables for an incredible 360 view!  Little Yosemite Village was along the way too, where we were able to jump into a calm/deep section of the Merced River on the way back down, that water was COLD!
Some other hikers ahead of us going up, looks scarier from below

Lindsay dives into the crystal clear/freezing cold Merced River
Lindsay and I did another run with his helmet cam in Sequoia on a series of trails that brought us by some of the Giant Sequioa's, ran through some controlled burn areas(a naughty decision).  Despite the smoke we did just fine, and took in a couple of  incredible views of some pks ranging from 12-13,000ft(Whitney was hidden from view).

My last run out there was a solo affair, started at Wuksachi Lodge and ended at the Lodgepole, here is a profile that was an out and back from Lodgepole, very similar, but the way I ran it was roughly the same distance with a small add on from the parking area to the trailhead itself.
The map of the trails themselves didn't appear well, so check out these stats.  The map indicated that it was 7.2 out from Wuksachi, and a bit longer to the Lodgepole. The last 2.6miles of the way up were tough.

This run was loaded with downed trees stacked over each other across the trail, so this was mega-technical.  It was a great challenge, makes me feel ready for more.  Now if only I can come to an agreement with the Snake Oil salesman in my heart...


  1. Snake Oil salesman says, "Choose a 50-mile race adventure" ;)

  2. Nice post Anis! You crammed a lot of outdoorsy adventure and nature loving in to such a short period time.
    Get healthy and get back on that horse. 2014 WS100 beckons!!

  3. Nice post! Ah the memories. My mind will forever be damaged by them I feel ;) I'll timelapse all that helmet cam footage down to a watchable chunk and get them shared with y'all :)