Friday, July 17, 2015

Expedition Alaska Part 6 - Mount Marathon and Aftermath

continued from:

Finally Sleep

TA7 was a great location. We were at the military resort in Seward - a camping area and RV park for the military. It had real bathrooms and HOT showers! The team was completely wasted (tired) when the totally over capacity passenger van dropped us off (nice ride for a couple of miles from the Lost Lake trailhead to the TA - just to keep us off the roads.

I was so tired I have very little recollection of what was happening. It was dark, we were in the TA. I think Shu and John had the tent set up. I know I woke up with all of the other team members in the big TA tent we had. The folks from Vidaraid were then and we chatted with them. I got a shower as did the rest of the team. We pretty much had a full day and teams were rolling and hiking in to TA7 in much the same condition we came in early that morning. It was all pretty hazy. The next few hours were pretty much a combination of packing gear, repairing feet (mine were really bad), eating, chatting with teams, and generally not hiking - though we did walk into Seward to see some of the Men's race of Mount Marathon - though John and Terry got the best view of that.

We all hiked to the official finish line (about 2 1/2 miles from the TA) and got the final picture and official finish. We talked to the media crews. Again all hazy. We were all looking to a real nights sleep in a real bed. Before that we would have a little get together with beer, wine, and whiskey and start telling our stories about the race. This was a wonderful and relaxing end to the major part of the race. We still had the last leg to complete (the Mount Marathon 5K) the next morning - but after what we had done - this all seemed like a formality. Plus we would get a real nights sleep. Around midnight we set off for the hotel room we had been assigned, and collapsed.

Mount Marathon

This is Mount Marathon - the trailer here tells it all

I woke up early the next morning. My feet were in incredible pain - but I was going to make the Mount Marathon. Kerry was literally out - like a zombie. Terry and Ric were already stirring, the rest of the team (Sterling, Julie, Tim, Julie) were at another hotel. We got up and dressed - I was moving slow, so Ric and Terry headed out towards the start of the Mount Marathon race. We still had plenty of time - and I wanted coffee and donuts  - so I headed towards town and successfully found a coffee shop. The rest of the team found me in the coffee shop. I had a massive danish and 2 cups of loaded coffee and was feeling almost ready for the Mount Marathon start.

What can I say - even though my feet were in pain, the Mount Marathon was a blast. It was only 5 K (of course 3022 feet was up and another 3022 were down). I am forever spoiled on 5K (of course I always thought - what's the point on a typical 5K anyway). The climb up started with a scramble, a cliff, climbing trees, open scree, falling rocks - and the down climb was pure insanity. It was awesome - if I could ever get back to do it again (and could get an entry into the race) I would be there.

We regrouped before we came back down (we had to hunt a while for Julie) - and we all crossed the line dirty, gritty, and happy.

Everyone contributed along the course. We wrapped up with a wonderful party.dinner and then it was all off on our own separate ways.  Here are some pictures of our journey;


Lena and Tim






Susan (Shu Shu)

Ron (your author and guide) 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Expedition Alaska - Part 5 (Kenai Lake Paddle & Lost Lake)


Because we did not have any bikes an no real chance to do the bike leg, we had a little bit of free time. We headed over to Cooper Landing (TA5) in the U-haul and planned on getting a solid rest there. This was a great TA for me as my wife and kids were going from Girdwood to Soldotna and were able to come by and say hello. We were even able to drive by the local convenience store and get some supplies. We got some decent sleep and food - and were able to truly get ready for the paddle across Kenai Lake. We were also asked to leave earlier tha we had planned so we could get the boats to the next TA so they could be brought back for other teams. That turned out to be good as the water was pure glass at 4 AM as we headed out onto the lake and took the LEFT TURN (take note NYARA) into Kenai Lake.

The first few hours of the paddle were pure joy. Amazing views, reflected in glassy waters - with perfect temperatures. It would not last as we would eventually move into a strong headwind - but still the paddle was a pretty fun paddle, though I feel that the team was pretty ready to be done when we pulled into Primrose Camp (TA6). One plus of this leg is we got to see Tecnu as they passed us at the final checkpoint - it was great to exchange hellos and offer encouragement and congraulations for them.

I will let the pictures tell the story here.

At TA6 (Primrose Campground) we were able to get some food. We were in the afternoon of Day 5 (as best as I could tell) and all we had left was a hike from Primrose to Seward with one bushwack to a checkpoint along the way. This would be another trail porn (See Day 2) - as Lost Lake was incredible and we hit it right at sunset.

The rest of the trek was tough as we were pretty tired of trekking, and I was hurting enough I started in on the Naproxen/Acetimenophen mix to ease the pain in my swollen feet. It did get pretty dark as we crossed back below the treeline. The bushwack was kind of fun. We ran into quite a few colonies of Marmots (Alan! Alan! Alan!) and Grouse with their chicks in the tundra. Towards the end of the trek (last 3 hours) the team was very tired so I decided to sing and tell stories. Luckily the team did not throw me off the mountain :-)

It seemed like forever, but eventually we were done and the passenger van came to the trailhead to give us a ride to the final TA in Seward. Here we would get a solid nights sleep and be able to prepare for the final leg of the race. We only had one thing to do and that was to visit the end location before we prepared for the final leg - Mount Marathon 5K. We even got to see the Saturday Men's running of the race - pure insanity and incredible fun.