Running on ...
HOME OF THE 'TALL MAN'... (And you can see the blog pictures below in much greater detail simply by clicking on them)
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Smoke, kayak and smoke
It was, I think, a clear day today, but the smoke made it foul and obnoxious. I went to Flesher Pass for three reasons: Get above the smoke (fail); go to Helena afterward to look at the used kayak I was interested in; and run a few "city" errands. This is the obscured sun from the trailhead at the pass.
I ran short, to the south from the pass, mostly because it seemed (though didn't feel) unhealthy to run in it. I went past the spot where my visitors and I hiked last week, and went out to view that spot on the way back. Here it is:
You can see it was horribly smoky and dark, despite it being a "clear" day.
Anyway, I felt no smoke-related issues, but, as I said, It just seemed wrong to run in it.
When in Helena last week with my visitors, I found out about the Base Camp's plan to sell its rental kayaks, and one of them was exactly what I've been looking for. Nice discount, so I thought I'd try to nail down the sale if the thing looked OK (it was still scheduled to be rented in a week or so, so I didn't think I could take possession). I must have come across the owner or manager, though, and he was happy to dispose of it today, so here it is. Got a paddle, too, so cousin Cliff and I can have kayak sea battles when he comes to visit next week.
Out past the overlook in the previous picture, I came to a new tree down on the trail — fallen since we hiked there just a few days ago! Shows what the beetle-kill does in the forest. A month or so ago when I was in the same area, I was startled to hear (but not see) another tree fall down.
Finally, when I got home early in the afternoon, here was the view from my outdoor kitchen. It's another "invisible Stonewall Mountain picture: No mountains visible from mountainous Lincoln because of smoke. Sigh.
4; 27; 83; 769
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Gates of the Mountains
On their way to Great Falls yesterday (for an early morning flight back to Richmond today), Swi, Ann and I took the Gates of the Mountains boat ride on upper Holter Lake and the Missouri River. They loved it. The above scene is the actual gate that Lewis described (not the one you can see from the Interstate and the marina).
He also was apparently an amateur geologist because he gave very detailed descriptions of the various rock formations, their geneses, their places in history and a crash course in plate tectonics.
A Louisianan, I found his folksy accounts fairly well done, but, again, probably more detailed than the average boat-tourist was interested in.
As you can see above and in the running accounts below, it was smoky yesterday. We did the boat ride at 3 p.m. after Swi and I ran 10 miles on the Continental Divide from Flesher Pass. An account and photos are in posts below.
Now you see it, now you ...
So I've posted probably 25 pictures in the past seven or eight months of Stonewall Mountain, the peak topped by a lookout that dominates the northern horizon from this valley near the Continental Divide. Today, I post a picture taken from the same vantage point as several of those earlier pictures — on a high point on state land south of the Blackfoot River, looking north — and it is so smoky out that you can't even see the mountain.
Similarly, and from the same spot, this is the view looking west into what's known here as "the canyon," a place where the Blackfoot and Highway 200 are jammed together in a narrow passage for five miles or so west of Lincoln. Here, the canyon isn't even visible.
I debated whether running in this muck was prudent, but it doesn't seem to bother me. I'll stay sensitive to how it's affecting my lungs.
Aside from the smoke, it's a nice day, expected to reach well into the 80s. Was about 55 when I ran on my "usual" route to the river from a parking spot on Herrin Lakes Road.
The only new development since Swi and I ran in the same spot last Tuesday is that someone has been in tying blue ribbons on trees and spray painting strips and codes on trees. I assume it has to do with plans for logging, but the things that are marked are not logging-worthy. Will be interesting to see what develops.
Saw no elk, hawks or cranes but did see a pretty whitetail. Felt surprisingly good considering the long runs of the previous two days. All the visitors are gone now so I can get back to some semblance of normal behavior here. We ate well and laughed unendingly.
5; 23; 79; 765
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Flesher Pass with Swi and smoke
Today, before heading out to the Gates of the Mountains boat ride, Swi and I drove to Flesher again and this time went north about 5 miles. There were two grueling parts, the very beginning (which I knew about) and a return tract that was even steeper, if not as long. The second was more taxing because it came after already running about 6 miles in the mountains.
Anyway, it was a perfect day temperature-wise (59) and with a slight breeze, but it was probably smokier than was healthy to run, as this photo shows. I had one small coughing fit about halfway through it, though I was able to subdue it with an inhaler. Swi was a trooper, managing the two hard parts with about the same gasps as I experienced.
Here's the trail near the far end of today's run. A little farther and we would have been onto the ridges that run all the way to Rogers Pass, which Swi and I did seven years ago (at age 58). Today we turned around because we had to catch the boat. After that ride, we'll split up because Swi and Ann have a 6 a.m. flight and will be staying in GF tonight.
These were some nice, high cliffs near the far end of today's run. We went five more minutes after this.
These are the self-same cliffs. They rise 50-60 feet from the trail and were preceded by a section of trail over an awkward scree pile.
We stopped for a photo-opp on the return trip at this example of the trail crew's handiwork. It was shored up by the crew I met at the Flesher trailhead a few weeks ago.
Finally, no run on this stretch would be complete without the shot of the car 350-400 feet below.
10; 18; 74; 760
Monday, August 24, 2015
To Nora Mountain with Swi
These are the creative cairns someone's built on the mountain I call Nora Mountain. Friend Swi and I ran there this morning. It's really smoky in the valley, but not as bad on top. We managed to get up to various "checkpoints" in times that were a few minutes faster than my recent norms, so that's good.
Here's Swi next to the cairn we built up there almost 20 years ago. You can see how smoky it was in the background.
Here's the tall man in person instead of in shadow, also next to the cairn.
It's been very cold at night here — 24 night before last and 28 last night. It was warmer at Rogers Pass (47) and it was in the 60s when we got back to the car. There was a light breeze and it was ideal running. Note the gloves on Swi.
8; 8; 64; 750
Two runs; many visitors
Runs were intermittent the past week because I had visitors, sister Jo, Carlo and Elisabeth from Italy and Jerry and Ann from Virginia. Here, Carlo and I aboard the raft we rented on the Blackfoot River Thursday, Aug. 20. A good time was had by all.
On Monday, the 17th, Carlo, Swi and I ran 5 miles while Ann and Elisabeth walked on the usual river route.
The next day, Swi and I returned to the same spot and ran the same route, where we saw elk, among other things. This is Swi posing for a picture.
And this is me the same day. Weather was pretty good; cool and smoky from the many fires in the region.
10; 10; 56; 742
Friday, August 14, 2015
Here's today's plume (vs yesterday's ) and it's probably over 2000 acres now. Cabins evacuated out east, but no worries
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Too warm to run
There's no real threat to town (I think) but the Sucker Creek fire did blow up a bit today. There are almost 150 folks up there fighting it (or at least making lines — it's rough country).
I skipped running in order to get outdoor chores done before it got too hot (it's 95 at the moment ... a cold front with high wind is coming tomorrow, so could get interesting).
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Fire and elk — what a morning
These were the sentinels for a large-ish herd of elk on my trot today. They spooked into the trees to my left. I proceeded a quarter of a mile or so over a hill and ran into the whole herd. I made a video but experience tells me it won't post here, so I put it on Facebook. My friends can see it there.
What would a post be without a picture of Stonewall Mountain, which sits north of Lincoln. You can see the ambient smoke/haze from the Sucker Creek fire, which is burning around 100 acres on the right flank of the very same mountain. It was fairly spectacular from my house yesterday afternoon when it blew up (relatively speaking — it's still a small fire, and it's burning away from town and into a 12-year-old burned area, where it'll probably peter out).
The elk livened up what would have been a fairly desultory trot. I tried a new end to it by following the pasture-side trail all the way back to the Herrin Lakes Road, then a mile or so back to my car on that road. Boring at that end, but the distance was right for my tired old bones.
I'll keep them short for a few days in preparation for the visit starting Sunday of my Virginia running buddy. It was in the high 40s when I started and low 50s at the end. Even sprinkled on me a bit at the end.
4; 10; 46; 732