women who hike

Running, Photo Journal

Ultra Training around Mount Baker

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Becca and I are training for a 50k in December. Our schedule said to run 20 miles on Saturday so we pieced together a route that did just that yesterday near Baker. I’ve done pieces of this trail before but never in good weather.  This Saturday was absolutely perfect having this sunny day on the one day out of the weeks of rain ahead.

It’s crazy that just one year ago I was recovering from an ankle injury that kept me from running for months. Last November I started a little group that would run (just one mile a day) for every single day of November. I also was signing up for 3-5 mile trail races and finding it incredibly tough. I loved them but at the same I couldn’t see past the idea of just running that distance. 

I have always found the idea of running an ultra distance impossible. Now one year later and back to back half marathons in the mountains along with a couple 20 mile races, here we are! We have to run around 20 miles every Saturday followed by 10ish every Sunday and a couple runs during the week. It’s amazing what is possible for your body and what is possible for your mind when you truly want something. I am not fast, I don’t care about being faster, but I do care about experiencing joy on a long run. At this moment in my life, 20-30 miles is a long run. The joy I get from long days in my favorite places is exactly where I want to be and what makes me the happiest.  

 

Saturday we met at 5:30am to head towards Mount Baker. We started to head up the Chain Lakes trail which was breathtaking having Mount Shuksan behind us and Mount Baker in front of us. Then we trekked over to Ptarmigan Ridge for awhile before we saw a gorgeous green lake off to the left of us so of course we had to go there. After that we headed back to Ptarmigan on our way to the Glacial Route trail. Weather moved in so we made our way back to finish the Chain Lakes loop then to the Goose trail only to find our way back at the parking lot with 17 or 18 miles.  

Even though Becca had a bad ankle roll at the end of our day we knew we had to get 20. We made tons of loops around the parking lot till we hit 20 and that is always the best feeling. It’s hard to see that you’re almost there then settle for something below your goal.  

So there is beauty I’m finishing strong. 

There is beauty is the journey:) 

Here is Becca, Hamlin and Nate heading up the Chain lakes trail

Here is Becca, Hamlin and Nate heading up the Chain lakes trail

📸: Nate Brown

📸: Nate Brown

Becca and I on a little patch of snow on the Ptarmigan Ridge trail

Becca and I on a little patch of snow on the Ptarmigan Ridge trail

Runnable spaces. 📸: Nate Brown

Runnable spaces. 📸: Nate Brown

We looked to the left and far this lake and so grateful we took a side trail to get a little close

We looked to the left and far this lake and so grateful we took a side trail to get a little close

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 📸: Nate Brown took this of me frolicking in the way back to Ptarmigan 

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📸: Nate Brown

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my favorite kind of trail

Gorgeous views of baker  

Gorgeous views of baker  

Layers  

Layers  

Becca and I taking a look at the parking lot we still needed to run to.  

Becca and I taking a look at the parking lot we still needed to run to.  

Running

When Your Biggest Fear is Running in the Mountains Alone

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Caption stolen from my Instagram on Friday:

 “Tomorrow I’m running in the only area that’s ever scared me. Might join a running group but also might do my own thing and keep it pretty chill. Janelle Mastain was with me.

We were lost on a trail far too long in one direction and looked at our map. No one else was on the trail for a mile or so and we turned around to head back to our destination. It was only a minute of two when I felt him behind me.

I freaked out in surprise and laughed because of it while i said hi to him because he literally came out of nowhere. He never said anything back.

Never looked at me. Just kept walking right behind us.

He was very intentional and not friendly.

All of a sudden her dog that loves everyone saw him and started barking like crazy at him and ran off ahead of us.

That was our sign.

We casually pretended to start running like that was our intention.

Within some time we looked back and he was running too.

We kept running and got to the destination and he was right behind us.

He sat on the ledge and was just staring at us at below his glasses.

Eventually a few mountain bikers made it to the top hooting and hollering(thank god) and the creepy guy started flinching and ran back into the trees.

I’ve always had that in my mind.

It’s changed my solo adventures.

Nothing happened yet my gut knew it was not right.

Anyway wish me luck tomorrow”

 

 

Let’s fast forward to today, it’s Monday and Hello!!! I’m still alive. That was something that happened about five and a half years ago and although nothing worse happened, it’s still in my mind. It still shows up randomly when I’m alone on a trail and I catch myself frantically looking over my shoulder. It’s sad that we humans have to watch out for each other as well as animals. I am 5’3 and an easy kill if anything ever wanted to, and my fearful pheromones probably put a big bullseye over me as well.

So Saturday I ran 13ish miles alone in the same area that that had happened. The first two miles I had mace in my hand. This might sound overboard for a lot of you but I watch way too much Forensic Files along with my previous story to enjoy myself alone in the woods. There was a time when I did enjoy it...before I was tainted with fear. Although I tell you about my fears, I never stop doing what I love but figured I’d share what honestly happens for me out there. If I’m alone, I usually choose popular areas to run. 

Anyway the first two miles started with mace in hand. Then I started seeing a lot of other runners and the mace slowly went back into my vest pocket. Slowly I started to lose the fear and just focus on one step at a time. 

My run was in Bellingham from the interurban trail -> the lost lake trail -> the rock trail -> the raptor ridge trail -> dans traverse trail -> the gravel road which takes me back to the interurban trail back to my car. It was amazing and I only fell twice, I only got bothered by horseflies once, and I brushed through stinging nettles and cursed the world. But I did it. Finishing things that scare me feels good. Trust me this is not some huge blogggable event, this is literally what I go through over and over again to get through these fears. Not a one time - accomplishment. This happens for me week by the week. 

 

Today I was supposed to do Mount Defiance with a girlfriend but she backed out while I was at work today and that’s always hard. I wish I had more girlfriends that would run with me throughout the week but I feel that most are way beyond my skill level or hikers that want to run but don’t run. 

So I’m getting ready to do a local trail loop which should suffice my training for the day and take it easy. This is a short blog for you but just a reminder that we all have fears, we all have stories that make us who we are today, but it is our choice to stop doing what we love because of fear, or to push through it anyway and feel the rewards by never giving up.

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Photo Journal

Welcoming Fall

Three months ago I had a bad sprain and was unable to do a lot of hikes and climbs I had planned this past summer. This made me practically crazy. Sometimes I would attempt a hike, which then would be followed by one or two weeks of having to restart my healing. I would ice and elevate every night and wear wraps and tape up for everything. I had to find gratitude that it wasn't worse. Eventually things got easier and I went through summer healing and finding my way back into a stronger yoga practice that I now see as a huge blessing. The last two years I have been teaching yoga every week more than I'd actually been taking yoga and it showed. Once yoga became my only form of exercise, I started to improve stability without pain quickly. 

I believe that having a more regular practice has helped my mental as well as physical state in order to get me back out on the trials. This brings me to now. Within the last week I actually did three different hikes! What a blessing and just in time for my favorite season of them all - Fall. 

This was my first hike back and it was mainly a scramble for half the hike, with a good amount of elevation gain with great reward:

I felt so inspired by that hike that a few days later my boyfriend Derek and I decided to go to a place in Rainier National Park called Fremont Lookout. This hike is avery popular trail so we went on a Sunday evening and got to watch the sunset behind Rainier, it was glorious.

The colors were starting to change and the views were incredible. This past Wednesday my friend Shelley asked me to come with her to a hike called Lake Valhalla. I have done this hike before for a Choose Mountains meetup but never saw a view because it was socked in and snowing the last time I'd been there so I was excited to go back and see the change of colors. Look at what a beautiful turnout this was:

Washington is one of the most beautiful places in the US. I can't believe that I got to do all of these hikes within a week with NO PAIN AT ALL. It's amazing to see the journey of where our lives take us and in this moment I'm just so happy to be able to experience so many things. I am hoping to blog more often on this site. Feels like home to me to blog again. I used to blog for 7 years so it's just so nice to get back into. I have more ideas for the future so stay tuned!