R2R 2014

When I found out that we were going to Oregon one of my first emails went out to Jolleen (my two time R2R teammate and Moab Autumn Run partner) to tell her that I wanted in on this years Rainier to Ruston if there was a spot. She’d put together a 4-person team for 2014 instead of our usual 6-person relay squad. A spot had opened up on the team due to injury and I happily accepted the spot to join Jo, Mel, and Sarah.

We met up on Friday in Vancouver and headed up to Orting where we spent the evening at my aunt and uncle’s house eating pizza, watching the deer in the yard, and enjoying the evening. Our muscles even got a pre-race hot tub session.

Carbon River

In the morning, we headed up to the race start. This year the start seemed a little warmer than it had been in the past and I had a great first leg. I felt great the whole way and was really surprised how fast the turn off for the handoff point came up. Similarly, my second leg went really well; this leg was really fun because my legs still felt fresh and it was a new leg to me and it was mostly in the shade.

Ranier To Ruston

My last leg was a little more of a struggle. It was nice and flat but my legs were definitely tired towards the end as I ran my 12th and 13th miles of the day. I had a nice treat at the end though—my mom brought my nephew Drew down to cheer me on!

End of Leg 9

Sarah anchored the last leg with a great final leg along the waterfront. As is our tradition, we met her about a mile from the end to make the final push as a team (this pushed all of our mileages for the day over the half-marathon point). As we crossed the finish line we were all in high spirits with Mt. Rainier behind us over Commencement Bay.

Instead of hopping in the car for the drive south, we’d reserved an awesome apartment near Wrights Park via Airbnb. It was nice to have a place to relax as a team. We briefly headed out for dinner at The Hub where we devoured our meal. Thanks again ladies for a great race in awesome company!

On Beth UR Sportswear Just Rock Shorts / Stonewear Designs Velocity Top

Cabinet Mountain Backpacking, Part 2

This is Part 2 of my Labor Day backpacking trip to Snowshoe Lake. Part 1 is over here.

Our plan to make sure we checked out above the lake before heading out was a great one. It was simply gorgeous up there! After playing on some of the big boulders, we headed back to the lake, packed up and headed for the car. We made good time heading back out (except for that one point where we lost the trail, ended up in a bit of a swamp and had to resort to boulder hopping along the river for awhile before scrambling back up the hill to find the trail).

Snowshoe Lake
Sprocket and his snow
Hiking buddies
Waterfall near the headwaters of the North Fork Bull River
I had to make Sprocket wait to swim so I could capture the perfect reflection!

We really enjoyed our trip, it reminded me how much I love backpacking. We haven’t been nearly often enough and I look forward to doing more soon!

Waterfalls coming down a cliff next to the river


Cabinet Mountain Backpacking, Part 1

Cabinet mountains in the backgroun

I’ve been to the Cabinets a few times now and I really love them. They’re probably the closest range to us that features the beautiful rocky peaks above tree-line. In the past, I’ve used the Rock Creek road to access Cliff Lake and it’s surrounding area. That’s an awesome area since the road takes you wayyyy up and it’s an easy hike to the alpine meadows area.

Instead of going that route this time, I decided to head into Snowshoe Lake. It’s been ages since I’ve been backpacking and I was really excited to get out even if it wasn’t anything crazy intense. The trip report I read on getting to Snowshoe Lake was a little vague about where the trailhead was since the road (FS #2722) washed out a few years ago.

Lemme tell you. It’s not vague and you really shouldn’t think about it too hard. There’s a bridge where the Bull River Road used to be with clear parking spots just for you. Instead, I followed the directions I found online and went 3+ miles from the junction with Highway 56 and took a nice little 2 mile (each way) jaunt down a closed road that went…nowhere.

We hopped back in the jeep and went back down the road. When I looked at the sign at the trailhead (that clearly indicated this trail was the replacement for road 2722) I was a bit exasperated with myself that I hadn’t slowed down to look here before continuing up FS Rd #410 (aka South Fork Bull River Rd). There was nothing to be done though, so Sprocket and I shouldered our packs again and headed out.

It’s too bad that the road is washed out since it’s not particularly scenic on the way to the old trailhead. Sprocket and I made pretty decent time, said hello to some horse packers staying at the trailhead and continued on. The trail was narrow and didn’t seem to have many places to camp off of it so I started to get a little nervous. About 3/4 of a mile up the trail, I spotted a little spot on the river with some pretty small gravel so we scrambled down. It actually wound up being a perfect little spot. I was worried Sprocket would want to swim but he seemed pretty tired (Sprocket, you only did about 6 miles!) and just laid down when I told him to.

Cuddling in the tent

We both scarfed down some dinner and retired to the tent. And crashed. Sprocket was super happy to be able to snuggle! (Doggies who are not allowed on the bed <3 sleeping in tents!) In the morning, he didn’t waste one second before wading in the river. I barely started eating my breakfast before he started whining…he was ready for more hiking!!

Happy hiking dog.

The trail climbed steadily but we made pretty great time on our way to Verdun Creek (~3 miles from the old trail head). After the creek crossing, the trail became more of a way trail and was occasionally a bit hard to pick out. I ended up putting Sprocket in front of me…he seemed to be able to sniff it out and see it under the brush more than me. About 2 miles past the creek, we reached the “headwall” of the N. Fork Bull River. Sprocket and I chose to go up an old stream bed rather than going right up the face. I had to help him up onto a couple of boulders but this was definitely the right choice.

(Word to the wise: Sprocket and I made it up and down just fine; there were a couple of places he didn’t like but he’s been on similar stuff before. However, I wouldn’t recommend this as a hike with dogs.)

Headwall, North Fork Bull River

From the top of the headwall it was a pretty short hike to the lake. We were there by about 1:30 and spent the afternoon relaxing. Sprocket did some swimming and I read. The sun was shining but it was a little chilly up there…there were several large patches of snow visible above the lake still! (BRRRR.) Sprocket was less than pleased when I cut off his swimming time at about 3pm so that he could dry before getting in the tent. He’d just sit, look at the lake and whimper. Pathetic dog. We headed to bed early so we could get up and explore above the lake some in the morning.

Crystal Lake Hike

After playing in the river and grabbing lunch at the O-aces (a dive bar in De Borgia) we drove up Deer Creek Road to the trailhead for Crystal Lake.

We set out up the trail enjoying what are probably some of the last beautiful days of summer in the Bitterroots. Sprocket found plenty of things to sniff—including some wolf scat. It was about a mile and half from the trailhead to the lake on which we gained about 1300′ of elevation.

The lake was really lovely. It was another gorgeous mountain lake—this one backed by cliffs to south creating a very dramatic setting. The water was deep and clear and not too cold for a mountain lake. Sprocket didn’t mind the scenery and was just excited for some awesome swimming.

Hike Stats:
Distance: 1.5 mi each way.
Elevation gain: 1,300′ (started at 4,175′)

Historic Savanac Tree Nursery

After we played in the river, we visited the historic Savanac Tree Nursery. Located in Haugan, Montana. Starting in 1907, the Forest Service used this nursery to grow trees to replant the forest after harvest. In 1910, the nursery burned (just like the rest of the Bitterroots) but was quickly rebuilt. The nursery went through several rounds of expansion and remodeling culminating in a CCC construction period from 1933 to about 1939. The nursery ceased operation in 1969 but the grounds are open to the public along with a museum and several cabins that can be rented.

Administration Building, Sauvanac Tree Nursery. (Built by the CCC, completed 1939)

The museum housed in the Administration Building (which was free) was really cute. I love going and visiting some of the classic Forest Service buildings. Most of them have such beautiful classic wood interiors (with gorgeous furniture to match) and this was no exception. There were also some really cool old scrapbooks of photos and lookout logs from the area. We also wondered around the grounds some but didn’t fully explore all the old planting terraces and the arboretum.

Wet dog waiting in the jeep for his family


Priest Lake

After work on Friday, Forrest, Sprocket and I headed for Priest Lake. (About 2 hours to our northwest.) Robin, a work contact turned friend, had invited us up to spend the weekend at his lake place. We didn’t have any plans and it was a new place to visit so we were more than happy to accept his invitation!

Friday, we arrived at the lake and spent most of the afternoon relaxing on the deck and chatting and went out for dinner. We all called it a relatively early night so we could get up early on Saturday to head for “the Upper Lake.”

We didn’t get quite as early of a start as we would have liked on Saturday (but then, who does when they’re on vacation?). Forrest and I were up early took a walk with Sprocket before we returned to the house just as Robin was waking up. The three of us enjoyed some coffee and the newspaper before getting down to the boat about nine thirty.

The sun was shining and it was beautiful! We did sort of a “tour of homes” along the shore as we headed north towards the upper lake. By the time we got to the entrance of the “thorofare” (the passage connecting Lower and Upper Priest Lakes) I was down to my bathing suit enjoying the sunshine.

At the Upper Lake, Sprocket swam (and swam and swam); we ate our lunches; Forrest, Sprocket, and I went for a walk; and we all just generally enjoyed the sunshine. The upper lake is fairly quiet—there aren’t any roads that approach it and motorboats aren’t supposed to tow skiers or tubers up there—which was a nice change from the lower lake. After a few hours up there, we returned down the lake. After we unloaded the boat, Forrest and I (and SP!) went for a swim. The sunshine felt so good!

We spent the evening, as evenings on the water are spent, looking out over the lake before gorging ourselves on some steak, salad, and corn all of which were topped off by a huckleberry cream pie!

We had such a great weekend out on the water. Thank you so much to Robin and Patty for being awesome hosts. All three of us had a great time!

Sorry. I don’t have any pictures. I didn’t bring the new camera and the batteries in the little one died…and someone (me) hadn’t put new spares in. So no pictures of the lake, SP riding in the boat like an old pro, etc. etc.

Hot, Hot Sunday

A few weeks ago it was hot in North Idaho. Sprocket and I had grand plans for accomplishing some work around the cabin but instead it was just hot. Not wanting to waste what was really some beautiful weather (it’s just hard to jump from mid-70s to mid-90s without a buildup) we went for a little hike near the cabin.

Sprocket found the last of the snow (July 8)
There was also marshy water…
And we had a deer friend watching us.


1st Weekend Of Summer

When I got out of work last Friday we threw our stuff in the Jeep and away to the cabin we went—I hardly set foot in the house.

We unpacked for the weekend (unpacking basically means hauling the cooler out of the jeep and inside) and then Forrest headed back down to show our neighbor April and her daughter Olivia the way up to the cabin. While he was gone, I read the newspaper on my Kindle (best thing ever) and was surprised to see Jim and Krista come up the driveway for a visit. We sat outside and enjoyed the view and I bragged a little bit about “our” moose. Just as I was saying that, the moose made an appearance for a couple of minutes before heading down the hill. Continue reading “1st Weekend Of Summer”


Last weekend we decided to go to Missoula to spend the weekend with Glenn and Terry. After work we hopped in the jeep and headed over the pass. We stopped at the Natural Pier Bridge in Alberton for a stretch break. Sprocket was less than pleased that we made him stay out of the river but it was flowing hard! (And we didn’t particularly want to arrive at Glenn and Terry’s with Wet Dog.)

Once we got to their house, Glenn pulled out some leftovers for a really yummy dinner. Their kitchen began to fill as Buck and Sue arrived, then Terry came home from work, then another friend, Brandon, joined us. Cocktail hour had stretched into cocktail evening!

The next morning we relaxed with coffee and discussed (debated?) some current Missoula events before heading off to the farmer’s market. When we’d lived in Missoula I hadn’t realized that the farmers markets (there are three downtown on Saturdays) were such an event! There was great looking produce everywhere punctuated with some cheese and local meat as well as ready to eat food—I enjoyed a breakfast burrito and F tried a French sausage. Both were awesome!

After the farmer’s markets, we met at Buck’s house to take the dogs hiking in Pattee Canyon. Sprocket wasn’t much into playing with the other dogs but really seemed to like getting out and moving around. There were quite a few people out and about. After our hike, we ran some errands (Home Depot, Harbor Freight, Petco) as we do when we’re “in town” and picked up some steaks at Costco for dinner.

Dinner turned into an awesome evening! The original plan of steak, potatoes and bread turned into a feast. Terry decided to make some salsa verde and guacamole for appetizers. Then we decided to cook some morels that were growing in the yard (yes, morels in the yard). Then Buck and Sue brought a salad. Yummy awesome goodness. We all pitched in on cooking as best we could (which meant Forrest and I followed the directions we were given). Wine and conversation flowed and tons of food was consumed. I think I ate from 4pm until about 8pm without stopping. The evening was capped off with strawberry rhubarb cobbler. When we finally made it to bed I was stuffed.

The next morning the feasting continued. We had steak (even better after more marinating!) and scrambled eggs (with fresh herbs and cheese)! Brandon even came over to join us and brought the fixings for mimosas.

Forrest and I had been hoping to get a hike in on the way home but since it was pouring down rain, we settled for a stop in Alberton to visit the Montana Valley Book Store (packed full of books of questionable quality at sort of expensive prices). I did come away with a copy of William O. Douglas’ My Wilderness: East To Katahdin though.

In the end we had a lovely weekend. Thank you so much to Glenn and Terry for hosting us! We had a blast.