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10
Aug

 width= Here’s our 2014 “Cascade Crest Classic 100 Endurance Run” VIDEO, just in time to add a little stoke for the 2015 event coming up in a couple of weeks (2015 race dates are Aug 29th and 30th). This is an event that just doesn’t seem humanly possible (at least to me, as I am very trashed after a 20 mile mountain run), especially when you do the math on the 100 miles and 20,470′ of vert gained and lost (combined vert of 40,940′) that Seth Swanson covered in 17:56:50. Seth Swanson, a Missoula native and 1st time CCC 100 competitor, not only crossed the finish line first, but shattered the course record by 31 minutes. Jeff Hashimoto (43 yrs old) crossed at 18:44:45 and 3rd place was taken by Gary Robbins (37 yrs old) at 18:54:27. Amie Blackham (35 yrs old) crossed the finish line first for the women at 21:56:19, followed by Puget Sound local, Jordan Maki (26 yrs old) at 22:28:43, and third place at 22:47:24 by Marta Fisher (39 yrs old).(

 

 

The former course record of 18:27:52, was set by Rob Bien (39 yrs old). This new time was shaved from the mark set the year prior by Jeff Browning (39 yrs old) of Bend, OR, 18:31:09. Prior to the new bar set under 19 hours, two time king of the CCC 100, Phil Shaw, set the bar at 19:47:40 back in 2009, for this hardcore event that begins in Easton, climbing right away into the mountains South of I-90 and heads towards Snoqualmie Pass, then crosses under the freeway, for another 50 mile leg back to Easton (which is full of epic views and wicked steep climbs). This event takes a ton of dedicated people to make it happen smoothly and safely, so that being said, congrats to not only the people that attempted this great feat (wether you finished or not, you are a bad ass in my book; especially knowing that one can’t just sign up to run this event, it’s earned!) and the Cascade Crest 100 event staff, aid station folks and volunteers from the trail crew to the Easton Fire Department (all orchestrated by race event director Rich White).

 

I also want to give mention (a tip) in regards to a great post mountain run cool down spot (or spots) which are located on Snoqualmie Pass, WA. First, the Aardvark Express (which has the best food on the planet) and second,  Dru Bru Brewery (and tap room). Dru Bru’s beer is brewed right on Snoqualmie Pass with our local mountain water. Epic food and beer to finish off a great day in the Cascades (btw, if you choose to hit the brewery first, please note that the Aardvark’s menu is on hand in the “tap room” and they will deliver to Dru Bru). See you on race day, and always remember, “Live to Ski Another Day” Snow Troopers!

 

Above: video screen grab – Seth Swanson @ Mirror Lake, a solid  2+ miles ahead of 2nd place.
Below: French Cabin aid station.

 

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Below: 2014 race results

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05
Aug
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Looking back from Bandera ridge 8/1/15


⭐⭐⭐⭐️☆(4 of 5) Trail run from Bandara Mountain TH (trail head) to Talapus Lake TH, WA. This is a perfect through run (apx. 11 miles with some a fair amount of vert) to do with a friend and two cars (or if your timing is good, you can get a friend to follow you to the Talapus Lake TH, leave your rig and have them drop you at the Bandera Mountain TH. Both of these THs are located off exit 45 on the North side of Interstate 90. I chose to do run the clockwise route, which requires leaving the “pick-up” vehicle at the Talapus Lake trail head which is the first right you get to leaving the in the road (forest service road 9030) and the run starts at the end of (fs road 9031) the “main” dirt road”. Note: just like most of the trail access roads, it is a bumpy ride, for a mile or so, but fine for low profile vehicles.

 

The run starts out at the Bandera Mtn. TH (2,200′) climbing at a nice grade for apx. 3 miles, when you hit the ridge of Bandera (apx 4300′). Then the trail starts to descend over the ridge down towards the first of  five lakes on this very nice run, Mason Lake, which is apx .5 miles loosing a couple hundred feet.

Mason Lake as seen 8/1/15

Mason Lake as seen 8/1/15

Once at Mason Lake, continue on the runners left side of the lake and stay on the “main trail” (lots of little off chute trails, but wooden signs up in some of the trees stating “main trail”), you will come to a junction with in .25 miles for Little Mason Lake (which is to the left), stay on the “main trail” for another 10th or so, until you hit another junction for Mt. Defiance to left, but take the right towards Rainbow Lake. You will climb for about .3 miles then hitting some nice flat running which will bring you to Rainbow Pond (see our fb page for pics of this small pond). Shortly after you run to the left of the pond you will come to Rainbow Lake (this is where I chose to get water).

Rainbow Lake as seen 8/1/15

Rainbow Lake as seen 8/1/15

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Continue running the sweet terrain towards the Island Lake junction apx. .3 miles past Rainbow lake. Take the right trail for .4 miles down to Island Lake (my favorite on this run, also a great lake to do an overnight trip). Note as you approach the lake you can get a couple peek a boo views of Talapus lake far down the drainage (pic on our fb page).

Island Lake as seen 8/1/15

Island Lake as seen 8/1/15


Head back out the .4 miles to the junction then take the right for some great ridge top running that leads first to the junction for Pratt lake (to left, but stay on main trail) then to a nice view off to the right of Mt. Rainier in the distance and Olallie Lake down in the valley (pic on our fb page). The trail will circle Olallie loosing a good amount of elevation (apx 600′), bringing you to the junction on the Southern side of the lake for Olallie/Talapus Lakes. Take the trail to the right, getting off the main trail (which the “main trail” would take you to the Granite Mtn. TH). Another 10th of a mile after you take the right trail to Olallie/Talapus, you will hit another junction. To the right leads to Olallie and to the left will lead to Talapus (which I chose not to hit Olallie). Apx. 400′ and .75 miles down the trail you will see Talapus Lake off to the right.

Talapus Lake as seen 8/1/15

Talapus Lake as seen 8/1/15

Once you roll past Talapus Lake the trail has an easy grade down to the Talapus TH just under 2 miles and loosing around 5 to 600′.

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02
Aug

 width=If you are wondering what the Muir Snowfield is currently looking like… Wonder no more, as our young 15 year old bro, Alex Ropka, captured some vid for everyone from this past Friday night and Saturday (knocking out his August and July ski in one trip). This trip was made with his main year round skiing partner (& dad) Ben Ropka. I guessing their night ski from Friday was pretty gnar, with terrible sun cups only lit by headlamps, but they got’er done. Nice job guys and sweet edit Alex!

 

Below is a short vid put together by Alex Ropka (photo credit above Alex too).


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23
Jul
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Jade Lake as seen 7/23/15


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (of 5) Trail run to Jade Lake, WA. First I need to mention there are two Jade Lakes in the Alpine Lakes of Washington (one is located in the Necklace Valley and the other which this post refers to is at the base of Mt. Daniel’s North face). To access this adventure, head for Roslyn, WA and head toward Lake Cle Elum, which will lead you to the Cle Elum Valley Rd. Once on Cle Elum Valley Rd., take it to the very end (driving past Tucquala Lake aka Fish Lake). At the road’s end you first two trail heads (TH), one for the Tucquala Meadows/Cathedral Rock access and the one you’ll want to take, the “Hyas Lake/Deception Pass TH” (trail #1376). This run will be apx. 22 miles round trip, so if you are doing a day hike be sure to get a super early start.

 

The run starts out with a rare Cascade 3+ mile almost totally flat warm up, which rolls by a beautiful meadow, Hyas Lake before an easy grade of switchbacks that leads to Deception Pass (5 mile point). I ran most of the grade as the weather was perfect, taking a short 5 minute break to eat and hydrate. At Deception Pass trail junction, you will see a sign for Marmot Lake that veers off to the left(trail #1066). The trail rolls nice and mostly flat for 10 minutes or so, with some small uphill grades, before you descend into a beautiful basin, 1.5 miles past Deception Pass, where Hozzbizz Lake sits (you can’t see the small lake from the trail, but I hit it on the way back with a small side track of 15 minutes max). As you pass Hozzbizz Lake you will start to climb out of the basin with an easy grade of switchbacks that becomes a super long traverse of just over 2 miles (the grade is a perfect slight uphill grade- making me think the trail builders for this one were on the “A” team). 2.3 Miles past Hozzbizz Lake basin you will come upon another junction for Marmot Lake (to left) or straight to Lake Clarice. Take the left trail to start climbing, again, perfect switchbacks for .7 of a mile which will lead you to the NE shore of Marmot Lake.

 

Marmot Lake as seen 7/23/15

Marmot Lake as seen 7/23/15

 

Once at Marmot Lake, look for the most beaten down trail that heads to the left/South. After skirting the lake for apx .5 of a mile, you will come upon a somewhat steep talus field/drainage that leads up to No Name Lake.

 

Marmot Lake as seen 7/23/15

No Name Lake as seen 7/23/15

 

The talus scramble (which is roughly .3 miles, has a fair amount of kairns (maybe too many as some lead you to the center of the talus field), as you climb the main scramble trail works to the climbers’ left for the most part. Once topping the talus, the trail becomes a beautiful heather/huck easy grade (for apx another .3 of a mile), rolling to the right of No Name Lake and gaining a little vert leading to the first epic view of Jade Lake (which sits below Mt. Daniel’s Little Lynch Glacier).

 

Marmot Lake as seen 7/23/15

Jade Lake and the Little Lynch Glacier as seen 7/23/15

 

The grade down to Jade Lake is an easy run, which will provide for an epic destination/lunch break! Usually on my long trail runs, break at my turnaround point for no longer than 15 minutes, however at this EPIC lake I found myself hanging out for at least 45 minutes, if not more. Being a skier and not an ultra trail runner, my time from the TH to Jade Lake was apx 4 hrs and the return was around 3.5 hours. Stoked to have made it here finally, and can’t wait to get back… Maybe next time will be for a few nights ;-)

 

Marmot Lake as seen 7/23/15

Break time at Jade Lake, as seen 7/23/15


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17
Jul

 width=Our most recent trip up to Mt. Rainier in search of a little Paradise, was very rewarding in a number of ways. 1st, just to get out with some of the finest people, one could know, in a mountain setting is hard to beat. Especially when the weather turned out to be perfect, without any bugs or heat to mention. 2nd, when it’s following a terrible snow year, as the PNW saw this winter of ‘14-’15, and the corn snow skiing far exceeded all of our expectations. Third, but I could keep going more great reasons, the day was capped off with a perfect swimming tarn and some of the finest mountain beer known to man, Dru Bru! Perfect August like ski day, that actually took place this July 6th, 2015! We all hope our August turns will give us some of the same soft perfect suncups (that Silas dubbed “A cups”, which is now the new alphabetical size rating system for those late season sun cups, this new rating system can only make me think of the terrifying, frozen bombshell “DD sun cups” Adam and I found at midnight on the Westside of Rainier last month)!

 

Below is our day all wrapped up in a short vid… Pic above credited to me :-) TNT


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16
Jul

 width=Sweet season edit from our bro Tim Black, who made the best of a really tough season in the PNW, which included a month long trip to Japan! Check out his “2014-2015 Season Rewind”, then if you’re in the PNW, THINK SNOW instead of Super Bowl show!!!

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07
Jul

 width=Yesterday, the gang met up for a late start to get some July skiing in on Mt. Rainier (out of the Paradise parking lot). Where we were all pleasantly surprised on the awesome cool breeze (all day), no bugs, and fantastic corn. As we skied the steeps, in the Simpson stash, we all kept wondering if it were better than our June ski (in the same area). Not stoked for the massive receding of the glaciers (for what ever the excuse people are arguing about in the media), but it is sure happening right in front of our monthly visiting eyeballs. That being said, we all felt blessed yesterday as we shralped some amazing July corn. Below is look back to our June 16, 2015 ski day which was quite similar (minus the epic breeze), with Adam Roberts, Tara and Carl Simpson, along with myself. Good times and fun edit and pic above (skier/TNT) provided by Carl Simpson!

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04
Jul

 width=Quite a different Fourth of July this year of 2015, wild fires around the state (which seem to be mostly under control), super hot heat wave blasting the PNW, a year with almost NO low elevation snow (to speak of- giving us views of the high alpine lakes as seen in left pic… Lake Lillian as seen a few days ago), and yesterday on my trail run from Hyak to Snoqualmie Pass (via Rockdale and the PCT) I noticed the trails are very overgrown making it hard to see your next step on the talus). The big talk today, for most in the PNW is the threat of fire due to wild fireworks, so that being said I’d like to share up last year’s Hyak fireworks display which follows a short hansSOLO ski into the front yard (which shows how much snow we should have right now in the Cascades. Also, like to give a BIG birthday shout out to my son Trevor (my fourth of July buddy who’s initials are also TNT, but seem to fit him better!!!

My thoughts last year as I watched the fireworks from the Rampart Ridge zone… “O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming, and the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air”, gave proof that all my Hyak friends were down there… Below “Rampart Ridge”. Live to FREEdomski another day!

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30
Jun

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It’s gonna be a tough year to link up the year round skiing here in the PNW, as we have said goodbye to the skiing on Snoqualmie Pass in late April. Our 2014 Solstice gathering happened at our Silver Peak stomping grounds with almost 40 other skiers, this year the choice was to head up on the North side of Rainier to get some skiing in on the Russell and Flett Glaciers. A handful of us would make the trek into the park via the Mowich Lake entrance, with the goal of an epic sunset and some smooth skiing. Well, the sunset didn’t disappoint (as usual) but the skiing wasn’t very good, except on the steep aspects. All in all it was another great trip with great friends (even if it took a bit to connect with everyone). This is an epic day hike, if you have never been, which I highly recommend. Head for Observation and/or Echo Rocks which is roughly a 13 mile round trip.

 

Below is a video of our little adventure this past June 21, 2015. photo credit above / Adam Roberts

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26
Jun

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I’ve fallen a little behind on my edits, letting them get stacked up since our mid-May trip to Mt. Daniels with Chris Olson, Jeff Rich, Tara and Carl Simpson. I got the call from the gang for a trip up to Mt. Daniel, which I couldn’t pass up, as this one is fairly close to home. To access Mt. Daniel, you head out on the Cle Elum Valley Road via the sweet, little city of Roslyn, WA (which is also known as the set of the long running tv series “Northern Exposure“. We all headed out the evening of May 19th for a little car camping fun, and to get an early start on the Cathedral Pass trail, which would lead us to “skinable” snow apx 5 miles into the hike. We did have to carry the skis over Cathedral Pass, and were back on the snow just before Peggy’s Pond. We all were quite surprised to see how much snow was in this zone as our own “stomping grounds” were almost totally snow free. It was a big day that finished off with a little pond skimming over a hella deep pond that was sitting on the toe of the Hyas Glacier. Good times, as always with this fun loving mountain crew!

Below is a look at the BIG day on Mt. Daniel….

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