Sunday, June 24, 2012

23:42: Silver Buckle

Good enough, amazing day, thanks to Alex, J and Nora.
My "race" ended at Mile 27 or 28ish and became something different...
Despite missing stretch goals (I lost focus on racing and then trashed my quads anyway), happy about the silver buckle, but more importantly, a more meaningful Western States day than I ever could have imagined: being able to help (equally, along with 4 or 5 top female runners and a few others) a fellow human being survive a scare. More later. Time to sleep.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

In the final stretch...

A shuttle, a hike down with beautiful vistas of nothing but a wide expanse of trees, & we checked in with the boys at 10:30, coming up from the river crossing with headlamps bobbing in the darkness. They were in good spirits and refueled before taking off for the last 20-mi stretch. We learned that the winner, Tim, finished in 14:45 (ish) - setting a course record. After a climb back out with our own headlamps & a sky painted with thousands of stars & an orange sliver of moon against the silhouetted ridge, we crammed onto yet another shuttle, wound up the curvy road back into town, and are checking into the hotel before heading back out to run in the last mile - very hopeful for that silver buckle 24-hr race and most likely a bit before. Hard to believe Mike has been out on the trail for 19 hours now - this morning's departure at Squaw seems so far away... Looking forward to the end for lots of reasons, including cheering Mike & Alex through the finish line & finally getting some sleep!

Looking strong @ mile 62!

After a 6 hour stretch of playing the waiting game (thankfully in warmer, drier weather), we just saw Mike at the Foresthill aid station (mile 62); he looked strong & headed out after an ice-rub down on his quads (thanks to Jessica), a swig of pickle juice (yup!), a Red Bull, & a clean shirt. He's a pretty gracious runner, which makes it nice for the crew... Alex joined him as his pacer to finish out the last 38 miles, which will include the river crossing & a "mostly downhill" route to Auburn. We are off to meet them at Green Gate and are enjoying some spectacular views along the way. These guys are in for a treat! 'Til next time...

Check-in 1/3 of the way through

Boarded a school bus shuttle & hung out in chilly, rainy conditions (reminiscent of NW forests & not the high Sierras) at the Robinson Flat aid station at Mile 29.1. Suffered as spectating crew members, shivering & feeling for the runners who came through soaked & a bit miserable-looking. Mike actually looked great & didn't need anything from us besides some encouraging words. A bit behind schedule after stopping to help out fellow runner Kami Semick, who was suffering from a severe asthma attack on the trail. We felt happy to leave the cold misty forest & are playing the waiting game in Foresthill (Mile 62), ready to send Alex off on his pacing duties in a few hours. Sunshine & warmer temps are promising signs...

~ N, J & A

And he's off!

Mike & crew were up at 3am and had plenty of time to eat breakfast, rest up in the lodge, and get off to a great start. Close to 400 runners headed up the fire road to the 8200 ft summit @ Squaw with an assortment of every type of running paraphernalia & clothing combinations... We saw Mike (bib #225) disappear in the crowd as the line of runners started the incline of 1800 ft in 3 1/2 miles that we tackled yesterday as their "warmup," headlamps bobbing into the darkness. It was in the low 40's at the 5am start time with light winds. Following a much-needed caffeine & b'fast infusion, we are driving to the first aid station accessible to crews at Robinson Flat, which will take us 2+ hours by car to check in on Mike as he knocks off the first 29.7 miles. Driving through some rain & fog, so hoping weather will clear up in the near future! Will continue to post along the way. Stay tuned! ~ Nora, Jessica & Alex

Friday, June 22, 2012

Western States 100

The Western States 100 is almost here. I'm sitting in Squaw Valley -- it's actually chilly here (while it's 100+ degrees back in Colorado), should be good running weather though. Need to stay warm at night especially.

Race starts at 5AM tomorrow, Pacific Time. Check out the progress here:
J may update the Blog tomorrow if possible, and check #WS100 or #WSER100 or even #MikeHinterberg (lame!) on Twitter
And don't forget, blogging and updates from
standing under the start line Friday, just over 19 hours to start

I'm runner 225. J and Nora are crewing, Alex is pacing, and I couldn't be happier. I can't believe we get to do this, this is awesome.
hard at work putting together drop bags
If you watch, cheer me to a finish...see if I can move up in the second half of the race!
30 hours is the cutoff, 24 hours is the big buckle, those are the real goals to stay on pace. Faster than that, who knows, but 20 hours and a few minutes before midnight are also out there as super stretch goals. I can't take anything for granted, it's a long day of hard running.

Getting in a last-minute nap on the north shore of Lake Tahoe

Mostly, though a fun day running with friends in a beautiful area.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joe Mills Mountain: Cheap Seats in the Rocky Mountain Rockpile

Joe Mills Mountain (11078')
Odessa Lake
~9 miles roundtrip (estimate) from Bear Lake TH
~2000 elevation gain (estimate)

J was up for a moderate dayhike, and had mentioned that she hadn't been to RMNP in awhile. Meanwhile, it feels like I've hit up many of the East side trails, and I like to get up on some sort of new peak with regularity, so it was time to improvise and compromise.

I came up with Joe Mills Mountain, a lowly, barely-11er just north of Flat Top Mountain. Joe Mills Mountain is a less-popular peak, often climbed safely in winter, requiring a short bit of bushwhacking from nearby trails, but is known by those who have climbed it as being a spectacular perch to view the greater mountains surrounding it. Perhaps this is fitting to the mountain's namesake, Joe Mills, who was the lesser-known brother of Enos Mills, the "father of Rocky Mountain National Park."

Knowing that the hike wasn't too long or exposed, we began our hike at the leisurely hour of 8:30, still early enough to secure parking in the popular Bear Lake parking lot. After weaving past gapers, we were soon on the main trail toward Flat Top and Odessa Lake. After the first mile split, we hung a right toward Odessa Lake. Other than a solo female hiker, we had the trail to ourselves. We crossed one larger, hardpacked snowfield in an open space below a 12000' treeless subsummit of Flat Top, with open views of Notch Top straight ahead. Shortly thereafter, crossing a boulderfield, Joe Mills Mountain was also in view to the NNW.

The trail was as close as it would get to the south side of the mountain, so time for about a quarter mile of bushwhacking. Viewed from the Odessa trail, the summit is the end of the ridge to the left, but the right side is a more slight grade. There was a visible, open, green ramp to the right of the saddle. Other options included sections of talus of unknown stability, and trees. Plenty of trees. We headed vaguely for the right of the saddle, alternating steep upward trudges in the trees, with traverses around them (and to avoid occasional sections of larger boulders) and along faint game trails, but never quite reached the open area spotted from below. But with only a few hundred feet to gain, mere upward movement got us their quickly enough.

We were only a short tromp away from the saddle, an open grassy area that was already a nice place to visit, and perhaps picnic. But the summit was still close. The only thing holding us back was krummholz -- and it was thick.

Progress through the brush was occasionally stunted, requiring slight backtracking and scraped legs, but in minutes we were on the summit ridge.

Indeed, the views were absolutely stunning. Notch Top straight ahead, snowfields on either side, and Little Matterhorn and Gable Top to our right, with Lake Helene and Odessa Lake reflecting the sky below. A small register jar suggested we were the 8th party this year (to be fair, some winter summits may have gone unlogged in deeper snow). Alone, together, we spent a good 20+ minutes of perfect, windless weather on the summit. Several waterfalls thundered and echoed below.

Most of what I knew from the summit ridge, and the northwestern side of the mountain, were abstract notions from the topo map. In person, it looked like a quick, steep Class 3 to open tundra, and if we headed northwest, we could stay along a treed spine of tundra, talus, and scree, giving us plenty of options that were all much more open than more bushwhacking. And the trail itself came close to an open boulderfield below.

I tried to convince J of this suggested route, which I honestly believed would take no more time but be more interesting and show us new terrain. "Besides, it's much more satisfying to climb over a mountain," I'm pretty sure I said. She was game, as long as the rock on top wasn't loose. I went ahead of her to check: solid. Plenty of options. We headed down just below the summit cairn.

We zigzagged on steep tundra for a bit, among budding wildflowers, heading northwest toward the open ridge that ran down to the ridge. Steep trees were always an option, but we were able to remain vertical on the talus and surfable scree.

We were now back on the smooth trail. J turned right (away from where we came) without me saying anything -- apparently she was also game for visiting Odessa Lake, since we were "right there." Awesome.

Another bonus of this section of trail was that Joe Mills Mtn. looked more interesting and significant from this vantage point (first picture). Although we were still a ways off, we had a closer look at Grace Falls and other sections of weeping granite below Notch Top.

We then descended gradually to the north (far) side of Odessa, after thinking we would have reached it earlier from the south. A small bridge crosses Fern creek that feeds into Odessa. And, then, a mind-blowing perspective of Little Matterhorn.

I've since learned there's an exposed Class 3/4 route up the back spine of Little Matterhorn. I want to return.

Clouds rolled in as we headed back, and light rain, but nothing threatening. The clouds just added to the atmosphere.

Without seeing many people, we felt like we had ventured deep in Rocky Mountain, despite being no more than 4 miles from a popular trailhead. This illusion was dispelled while dodging people stopped in the middle of the trail in the last half mile, but it was very nice while it lasted. I hesitated to post much about this hike, because the payoff in views is so high. It just takes a little bit of off-trail exploration. And overall, it ended up being fully wife-approved.

"I'm visiting from (insert state) and climbing Longs Peak -- what should I use as an acclimatization hike?" is a common question for visitors.
Twin Sisters is a common (and good) answer. I'm not as much of a fan of Deer Mountain and Estes Cone (other popular answers), although they're fine, lower mountains; Meadow Mountain would be my next Class 2 suggestion. Flat Top Mountain has a great trail as well, but is a little more popular and busy.

Joe Mills is another answer for those looking for an easy taste of a little bit of everything, and for practicing just a bit of off-trail hiking: not too far, spectacular views, relative solitude, relative safe routes for winter, light routefinding and bushwhacking, and opportunities (but not necessity) for Class 3 and possibly Class 4 scrambling on top.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Chance Meeting with Legendary Runner Pablo Vigil

I had a great lunch meeting today, spurred by Deirdre and Victoria, and accompanied by great representatives from local nonprofit physical activity and mentoring programs. Ideally, these ideas will lead to identifying and serving a need for run-based mentoring for kids in town who could benefit from it most. I'm very excited to help with this program, and as we develop more details, Victoria and I believe the running groups in town will respond enthusiastically as well, as they have for other great causes.

This was also my first time to meet Colorado Running Hall-of-Famer Pablo Vigil, whose running exploits at legendary races like Sierre-Zinal are well-known.

In addition to sharing his enthusiasm for a school-based running mentoring program, I had the fortune to further discuss his history and insights on running, especially mountain running. He, in turn, shared his respect for legendary runners in his time, and suggested checking out his article on his meeting with Lasse Viren in Finland, shown below:

This concept has been discussed before, and from Pablo's writing as well, it's clear that much of running lore is deeply rooted in place, so that the training and stories of our greatest runners are deeply associated with the landscape where they put in tens of thousands of miles.

In that respect, Colorado is incredibly lucky to have Pablo's footsteps all over it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hannah Ann Stock

Hannah Ann Stock
June 10, 2012 8:43 PM
4' 6 oz

While a fire raged to the west and smoke enveloped town, we were actually more anxious about getting some good news: my in-laws, Christina and Caleb, were camped in Poudre Valley Hospital, getting ready for the long-awaited birth of their daughter.

After being induced in the morning, several weeks early as a precaution for helping the baby gain more weight, Christina's labor was progressing quickly by late afternoon, and we were ecstatic to receive news from Dad that she was born entirely healthy.

Within an hour, Jessica and I were able to meet our niece for the first time. Both proud grandmothers were also present.

Caleb and Christina are as deserving of parents as you can imagine. I've known Caleb to be a thoughtful, caring, and patient person since Christina introduced us to him. I've known Christina even longer, well over half her life -- since she was 12! What a special treat to see them on the happiest day of their life.

But even better, how amazing it is to be able to meet Hannah Stock on her first day of life. She was early, so everything on her is tiny, but perfectly and fully-formed, all the way down to her tiny fingernails. She is angelic and beautiful. She's so light that she can easily be held with one arm -- almost one hand -- but far too precious.

Funny, I am not so much as a baby person per se, really enjoying being around kids more when they're walking and talking and inquisitive about everything in the world. But my little niece really is so adorable already! Auntie Jess and I really look forward to spending time with her and spoiling her as much as we can.

High Park Fire

Our first view of the Larimer County High Park wildfire was from Wyoming.
Mike R., Nick, and I were returning from a race in Laramie, heading towards a plume of smoke to the South. Our initial guesses were that part of the Hewlett fire had flared back up. Although the plume was prominent, it appeared to be compact, and deep in National Forest land.

As we got closer to town, we then noticed that the fire was indeed further south -- the top of Rist Canyon.
The footprint was larger, as well -- not just because we were closer, but because the winds had very likely doubled the fire in size in the mere hour it took us to drive down.

With hot, dry temperatures, and steady winds, conditions were looking ripe for the fire to spread further. And it did.

Early Sunday morning, we had another run planned. Slush, Sarah, and I drove up to Nick's house at 5:30, driving west into an eerie and thick blanket of fog-like smoke. Dedicated and foolish in our running at times, none of us were willing to run in those conditions. It was our hope that the air would be clearer in the Big Thompson canyon to the South, where we planned to run.

Several fire vehicles flew past as we drove up toward Masonville, and we saw a few sheriff's vehicles at the mouth of Redstone Canyon. We stopped to get an update. The officer in charge, with a great deal of adrenaline and stress in his voice, told us that Redstone was being evacuated; the fire was moving quickly and unpredictably; and the fire was completely uncontrolled. We remained optimistic that the fire wouldn't move too far South, towards Nick's place, but the fire and smoke and the fact that there's only one real escape road (also necessary for fire traffic) very well could lead to evacuations up there. (And it did, later that night, before being allowed back in Tuesday afternoon).

By the afternoon, the fire had exploded and moved even further East.
On an otherwise blue-sky day, a giant cloud of smoke enveloped town.

By Monday, the fire crested ridges above Lory State Park, so flames were now visible in town. I drove up last night to check it out, without getting any really good pictures, but being dismayed by the sight of a line of flames snaking down the hill. The dam roads were all closed, and traffic was heavy and chaotic with other folks out checking out the fire.

We can't help it -- besides a natural curiosity about fire, we're all worried about the people and homes and the land itself. As it stands, it's difficult to imagine that some of our beloved places -- peaks that I was on just a few months ago, canyon roads that are popular for cycling and others for running, and trails that we raced on just last month, will never be the same.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Whitney Peak in Colorado's Holy Cross Wilderness

Whitney Peak (13271')
SE Ridge from Whitney Lake TH
~9 miles scrumblewhacking
Class 2+/3easy
4500' gain

In coordination with Teva's Vail Mountain Games, a local FoCo contingent headed up to Minturn for a fun weekend of camping and running. We were represented well in the races, but Nick and I branched off to use the opportunity to explore some beautiful sections of the Holy Cross Wilderness.

Our original plan involved Holy Cross Ridge, albeit with some concerns about the weather forecast for a committing ridge run (50% PoP, possible thundersnow) necessitating a very early start, but a busted clothes dryer at home significantly delayed my arrival Friday night. In addition to stumbling into the wrong campsite (luckily, the camper was quite mellow about it), by the time I arrived, all lights were out and everyone was sound asleep.

Exactly as I feared on the drive out:

I arrived at the campsite after 11PM, with everyone focused on getting a good night's sleep in order to have a serious run the next morning. Nobody had even drank any beer that night, so as to run better the next day, so my cooler full of microbrew would be entirely out of place.

As I arrived at the campsite, the dogs were the first to notice, shouting howls of annoyed protest. As my headlights swung across the tents, the children joined in succession, starting with an 18-month old crying; her brother then awakening and being startled and inquisitive about the stranger in the midst. The older kids, then, needing the precious extra sleep of teenagers, being unable to fall back asleep and registering complaints of cold and discomfort.

Finally, the elders would arise from their camps, Petzl's a-blazing, and interrogate me angrily:
"Hinterberg! Why did you even bother to come so late?"

Ashamed, I'd turn around the way I came, slinking back to the Front Range.

Luckily, it was nothing like that. Everyone was asleep, I was in my own tent in 15 minutes, and nobody was the wiser until sunup the next day, when they were surprised to see me there.

So as it was, Nick and I needed a proper plan for 4-5 hours.

Close by on the map was Whitney Lake and it's namesake peak. Sight unseen, and without the benefit of the internet for climbing beta, we headed up to make the most of it.

The trail to the lake is a steady but highly-runnable grade, from just over 9000' to just under 11000' in 2.5 miles. So in half an hour, we were standing at the lake, with our first views of Whitney Peak.

We were happy to find a pleasantly aesthetic peak worthy of our time.
As for routes, two obvious possibilities stood out: the constant grade of the southeast ridge, which looked promising but had some unknown terrain hidden behind the trees (left of picture); or a run along the northeast ridge (right of picture) which had a few open scree slopes that seemed manageable.

In either case, a fair amount of bushwhacking was required to start, so we headed counterclockwise around the lake. Ultimately, our route could best be described as fumbling around blindly until treeline, where we lucked out onto wide-open tundra slopes of the northeast ridge, where the rest of the climb was obvious and the weather was still great.

Everything's coming up Milhouse!

After a bit of tundra walkup, we had some alternating snowfields, stable talus and boulder climbing, and even some solid slabs, we topped out near a rocky pile on the otherwise expansive flat of the summit plateau. Higher points were evident in the distance, so we traced along the talus of the ridge, including a prominent notch on the summit that lead directly down into an artful couloir.

Farther along were the real summit(s), then: first, a large, smooth boulder just tall enough to be a 5.6 climb and which was a candidate for the summit. This boulder shall not be discussed further. More to the west, a seemingly equivalently tall summit pile directed our attention. It is here that both a USGS marker and summit register are placed.

3rd and 4th summits of the year.
We enjoyed superb views to the North of Halo Ridge that leads to Mount of the Holy Cross: some other day.

Although the weather was better than forecasted for the morning, rain was evident to the south with clouds building around us. Nick saw a flash of lightning in the distance. Time to head down.

We debated our options, and decided it was easy enough to head down into the drainage above Whitney Lake. We should then be able to take a direct line to the lake; quick and easy.

Above treeline, we had some fun scrambling, running, and shoe skiing. At one point, Nick said something about the terrain being similar to Zegama -- while he was saying that, I had five points of contact on the mountain.

At another point, I sent a large boulder in his direction, with the intention of bolstering my ultrasignup ranking slightly. I called it out weakly to assuage my guilt, but it instead crashed through the snow before coming to a halt.

At treeline, then, we began the bushwhack anew. It began with some fun, runnable sections on game trails, but then, Holy Cross Wilderness spun it's well-deserved reputation as being the Bermuda Triangle of Colorado, with the lake eluding us despite our extensive, fumbling search for it.

At least we were in the trees when the lightning, thunder, and sleet approached.

Alternately splitting up and coming back together, mucking through marshes, and relying on our speed, endurance, and stubbornness rather than map-reading and planning, we arrived back at the lake, satisfied that we covered every square-inch of non-lake prior, with an additional half-mile in the log to boot.

Finally, a fun cruise back down the trail. Some wildflowers were knee-high and will be three times as tall next month, while groves of aspen will be on fire in September -- this is a spectacular place for the summer and fall. A lesser-visited summit, but definitely recommended.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wild Basin Trio: Mt. Alice, Chief's Head, Mt. Orton

Mt. Alice (13310')
Chief's Head (13579')
Mt. Orton (11724')

Lollipop above Lion Lakes from Wild Basin TH
~18+ miles, ~6000' elevation
11 hours hiking

Alice and Chief's Head (L to R) above Lion Lakes

Located deep in the Wild Basin, Mt. Alice is a 13er that cuts a striking figure from multiple vantage points. It's a gorgeous mountain that I've wanted to climb for several years.

The route that looked the most fun is the Hourglass Ridge, the ridge that connects to the Chief's Head saddle. It's considered a Class 3, in mostly solid rock and ledgy tundra, but sure looks intimidating in photos, with steep dropoffs to either side, especially in the narrow middle part of the hourglass shape. The additional challenge of snow changes the dynamic further.

So I was excited to hear that Steph was planning a hike out there, on a day with favourable weather. Additionally, we would head up Chief's Head Peak, and consider a route down the ridge that led to Mt. Orton. I was very happy to finally make it out there, especially among great company, as Steph has more climbing experience than me (in addition to being a strong hiker and runner), which would make the day more enjoyable and safer.

So, after a 3:45AM departure from Fort Collins, we were able to begin hiking at first light.

Now although the peaks were the goal, this was also a first viewing for both of us of the Lion Lakes -- a truly sublime destination in its own right. The trail is solid for most of the way up, but as is the theme in Colorado this year especially, we encountered a bit of deadfall and snow in the last mile or so, necessitating detours and bushwhacking.

Because of that, and by following the drainage as a reference point, we were naturally drawn to the sound of rushing water. This turned out to be the pleasant surprise of Thunder Falls.

Thunder Falls itself is also a worthy and legitimate waterfall, lesser-known only because it's deeper in the park. I can't believe we're lucky enough to stumble upon things like this for a casual 5-minute visit before continuing -- it's almost a crime!

But onward we marched to treeline. Above the Lion Lakes is a perfect ramp that leads up to the saddle, a fun grassy stroll to new views on the other side.

Steph in front of Chief's Head

This also gave us our first views of our summit goals. Chief's Head looked like a dry, direct walkup on talus. Mt. Alice, on the other hand, still had a fair amount of snow on it, and still looked somewhat steep and imposing. But we headed up towards the Hourglass Ridge for a closer look at what was dry, and to see if the snow was soft enough for kicking steps and plunging when necessary.

The verdict? As often is the case, a closer view shows more clear lines and features, so it was an easy decision to go upward. Also, the snow was generally soft, among various sections that were short enough that we didn't regret leaving our axes in the car.

I was happy to follow Steph here -- not just because I trusted her experience -- but probably even more because I'm strategically lazy and it was convenient to leverage her footsteps. Thanks!

As tempting as it is to overplay the difficulty, in reality, the soft snow and grassy tufts of tundra and interspersed talus gave great steps all the way up, with the knowledge that downclimbing would also be manageable and safe. In fact, the entire route felt more Class 2+ than Class 3, as little actual climbing was needed. In that respect, Mt. Alice is one of the most spectacular Class 2+ peaks I've enjoyed, as the views and route itself suggest that one should have to work harder to get to the top. And, it's a direct route up one of the more interesting aspects, rather than a cheating sneak around the backside (as Chief's Head was going to be).

The weather was great and wind was low at the summit. Time to head down to Chief's Head.

Although Mt. Alice was more of my goal for a longer time, Chief's Head entranced me just this year, when Caleb and I hiked to Green Lake. Chief's Head's sheer north face drops straight into the lake, and I looked forward to that vantage point.

An hour or so later, and we were up high again, peering directly down into Glacier Gorge.

This was a particularly rewarding way to connect-the-dots with previous hikes and views.
From here, we also had great views of Longs, and could make out figures in the Keyhole.

Steph and I were 7th and 8th climbers of Chief's Head in 2012 -- there would be more than that summiting Longs during the day. The last climber of 2011 -- Aron Ralston. Fun to recognize names on the summit logs.

We also had a clear view down the ridge to Mt. Orton. I'm still not sure why Mt. Orton is Mount-Anything -- it's no more than a collection of rock clumps on the long grassy North ridge of Chief's Head. But, this long ridge would give us new views (including down into Sandbeach Lake), a new summit, and a way to skip past the trees to make a semi-loop back to the trail.

Looking back along the Mt. Orton Ridge

We stayed along the ridge and surveyed our views, with out last chance for line-of-sight and dead reckoning before our final descent to treeline. What's a little more bushwhacking?

Well, the final bushwhacking session took closer to 2 hours, including some marshy areas and smaller, unmapped ponds. If one just wanted to climb Mt. Orton for the views, connecting to Sandbeach Lake would be easier than back to the Lion Lakes trail, but this was not our goal. Still, the deadfall wasn't too bad (compared to the Glacier Gorge blowdown), so it was just a steady slog.

We popped out on the trail maybe a mile about the final junction. Having seen nobody else, we took a guess on the day's total: "0" and "2" were our guesses. We hit the final 1.4 miles, still sighting nobody, and then remembered how to jog. Just in time -- we had an audience of 7(!) people in the last mile.

Another spectacular day up high in RMNP.

All Summer in a Day: An Outdoors and Ultrarunning-Inspired Reading List

With the passing of the prolific Ray Bradbury coinciding with the transit of Venus across the sun, it's another reminder to pick up some books for some summer reading.

I've had this disorganized list of suggested reading for awhile. I'll post it now, and revisit with short summaries and author information. Roughly, this list corresponds to themes which I think are of common interest to ultramarathon running and training. It is mostly non-fiction, is more western-U.S. biased, and is very incomplete -- I've limited it only to books I've actually read (or listened). There are gaping holes, in fact, with great western writers such as Stegner, Harrison, Proulx, and Mclean, whose essays I've read but not their more substantial works. This list isn't prioritized, and while all of these books were sufficiently enjoyable, some (depending on the subject) really stand out as memorable. Lastly, this is far from a prescribed reading list, because of the arbitrary categorical limitations. Strictly running and reading only about running makes us even more dull in social settings -- by all means, let's not forget classic literature!

Please let me know your suggestions along these lines, and if you loved/hated any of these in particular. Happy summer reading!

Short Stories (Print/Download and Read Outside)

Africa (The Continent, not the country or Darcy)Into Africa (Dugard) -- Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Alaska and Alaskan MountainsInto the Wild (Krakauer)
The Last of His Kind -- Bradford Washburn biography (one of several), with some great pics in the hardcover version. Sadly, I still haven't made it to the Mountaineering museum in Golden!

Forever on the Mountain -- Dissecting a famous Denali tragedy.
The Call of the Wild -- Classic to be read by the fire.
The Cruelest Miles -- Dogsled team racing to deliver diphtheria vaccine.

The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush (Blum) -- In an interesting tale of the last major North American gold rush, Blum weaves together the stories of 3 men whose paths cross in significant ways.  The book is heavily-sourced on biographical information, but takes artistic liberties to move the story in a realistic way.  This makes it more enjoyable, but it remains informative regarding the factual aspects of mining history and culture, the founding of boomtowns and the characters that comprised them.  As a source of Colorado pride and interest, we get to trace the dealings of legendary gangster "Soapy" Smith from Denver to Creede and eventually the Alaskan frontier.

Central/South American Adventure
River of Doubt -- TR is my favourite President; Candido Rondon is a hero as well.
The Old Patagonian Express (Theroux) -- An infamously crusty and cynical traveler, Theroux still nails some spot-on social insights as he passes through America -- all of it -- on trains.

Everest and Himalayas
Into Thin Air (Krakauer) -- Everest Tragedy.
The Climb (Boukreev) -- Ibid, but worth reading both of these.

14ers (Roach) -- Guidebook, but smattering of important and humorous prose and references.
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (Bird) -- Isabella Bird is tough-as-nails.
Centennial (Michener) -- Required Colorado reading. More meaningful than a "Native" bumper sticker.

Other Climbing Accidents / Critical Analysis
Touching the Void (Simpson) -- Raw and honest tale of survival.
Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow -- A different perspective from the climbing widows' perspective.
14er Disasters -- Not comprehensive, but brings out important lessons on familiar mountains.
The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier (Davidson, Vaughan) -- Another crevasse escape story, this time on Mt. Rainier. Sometimes uneven and cliched, but also raw and honest. Has great references to local Colorado (training) climbs as well.

10th Mountain Division
The Last Ridge -- Riva Ridge, soldiers on skis, Camp Hale, Colorado ski history and WWII intertwined.

In Search of Captain Zero -- Somehow, impossibly, almost better than the movie "Point Break" ...and almost true.
Crazy for the Storm -- A surfing and ski memoir of a boy's father and a troubled childhood. Quite reflective and honest, for as young as he was during much of it.

Western and Mormon Migration
Roughing It -- Mark Twain's semi-autobiography of Western living. Classic, informative, hilariously insightful.
Undaunted Courage -- Lewis and Clark.

Under the Banner of Heaven -- A specific criticism of a very small Fundamentalist LDS group, although readers will draw their own conclusion as to whether to extend some criticisms to broader religious critique.
Devil's Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy -- Critical, via use of original source documents, but also with a great deal of respect and admiration.

SAR and Survival
Deep Survival - Physiology and psychology of survival
Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature -- Not fully edited in the version I read, but still great SAR stories from the Mt. Hood region.
Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Stranded: I've Come from a Plane... -- Way more than just the cannibalism aspect: survival in general against tough odds, and a vivid portrayal of the long walk out through the Andes.

A Walk in the Woods -- Bryson's humourous bumbling on the Appalachian Trail.
Wild -- Lone, "lost" female on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Earthly and Spiritual Purpose
Mountains of the Mind -- Deeper thinking in and about the mountains.
Mountains Beyond Mountains -- Dr. Paul Farmer is my favourite Dr. and darn near favourite person that I haven't met.
Snow Leopard -- Seeking in the Himalayas.

Born to Run -- Leadville Trail 100, Tarahumara, barefoot running -- a great read about long-distance running.
Ultramarathon Man -- Not embarrassed to say that Dean Karnazes got me interested in the possibility of even thinking about long distances. Ultramarathons couldn't be an insular clique of weirdos forever....could it? Hey, he wrote down his stories and was an engaging and encouraging person to meet.
(contrast to Pam Reed's "The Extra Mile," which does not have the same fun and inspiration that Dean has. Reed may be interesting to those interested in disordered eating and the female athlete triad, but I can't shake a sense of obsessiveness continuing to come through).

Long Distance: Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living Strenuously -- An interesting look into x-country ski racing and a year of training. Taken as a whole with other parts of McKibben's writing, there are aspects of hypocrisy that knock him down, in my mind, as an unimpeachable didact. But, still a well-written story with unfortunate tragedy with his father.

Eat and Run (Jurek): Scott Jurek's memoir of a running, cooking, and eating career (still in progress). With great candor and honesty, Scott presents details of his rise into ultramarathon running and some great adventures, while noting some honest flaws in himself and the process. I appreciated Scott's nature as a "seeker" as he clearly explores different ideas and thoughts, and he links together his own thoughts to the larger whole with occasional mentions of books and even research studies. The vegan recipes and food ideas (I believe, as does he, the idea of food exploration is a better process than rote following of recipe) are great, although the links between running and food are somewhat forced at times. The final chapters leave us more with melancholic musings than any sort of closure; then again, that's closer to the honest truth.
Ultramarathon readers should take these lessons to heart and examine not just the "runner's high" and thrill of victory, but also some of the heavy costs in the Religion of Ultrarunning.

Running with the Buffaloes -- CU Buff x-country, Wetmore and Goucher: a Colorado classic.
The Perfect Mile -- (Audio) 3 legitimate challengers to the "impossible" 4:00 mile come together in history.
Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon - Bounces back-and-forth between the classic 1982 Boston Marathon duel, and the subsequent paths of Salazar and Beardsley, which both seemed to take a turn for the worse after this career peak. Between both stories, we see examples of both addiction and depression which seem to be treated (if not masked) by intense running.

Running and Being (Sheehan) -- Pre-eminent running physician, thinker, and Runner's World icon.
Psychology and Running (Sachs) -- I found a dusty copy of this at the CSU library, and found it to be an accessible and interesting collection roughly around the "runner's high"
(Bern Heindrich's writing) -- Brilliant thinker, but I've had a hard time with his writing.

WWII Survival
Lost in Shangri-La -- A plane crash and (near) first-contact in a remote area of New Guinea.
Unbroken -- Olympic running and a WWII tale of escape and survival. Amazing.

Forests and Forest Service
The Last Season -- Disappearance of a park ranger, bringing out a bit of the dark and lonely side of the profession.
Nature Noir -- A darker look into what goes on in our parks and forests.
The Wild Trees -- Hidden in plain sight: how a radical group of scientists and enthusiasts discovered, explored, and protected the tallest trees in the country. And sometimes made love in the canopy.

Novels / Novellas
The Long Walk (King) -- Epitome of ultra. 4 miles per hour, or're killed.
The Stand (King) -- After Armageddon, the Bad Guys live in Las Vegas, and the Good Guys live in Boulder. I could totally see that! Best read as a teenager or young adult probably, but a great story. You wouldn't believe how exciting it was for me and some geeky friends when that came out as a week-long miniseries/movie in the 90s...
The Running Man (King) -- King plus Schwarzenegger = Awesome as a movie, but also a quick read as a book.
The Road (McCarthy) -- I didn't love it and wasn't as satisfied by the ending, but it's mostly about mood and atmosphere (book and movie).

Sand County Almanac (Leopold) -- Wisconsin Prairie
The Singing Wilderness (Olsen) -- Minnesota North Shore.
Encounters with the Archdruid -- Western ecology
"[It's] the sort of place that gave mining a bad name. This has been happening in the West for the past hundred years, but it doesn’t have to happen. Poor housekeeping is poor housekeeping wherever you find it. I don’t care if it’s a mine or a kitchen. Traditionally, when mining companies finished in a place they just walked off. Responsible groups are not going to do that anymore."
This quote was made in regard to improving quality control of mining companies. Have extractive companies been sufficiently responsible since then?

The book, and quote, date from 1971.

Road Trip

Travels with Charley -- Steinbeck, as a cranky old man, travels the country with his little d0g.
On the Road
Blue Highways

Monkey Wrench Gang
Desert Solitaire

Let My People Go Surfing

Cult classics, because the cult is small and competition is thin
Once a Runner (Parker, Jr.)
Again to Carthage (Parker, Jr.)
-- Great details in the training and heat of competition -- and how cool would it be to train from a cabin in the woods for months? -- but plot is lacking outside of the running bits.