Getting esoteric.

Two aggregately moderate, but high intensity weeks of 74 miles with 18900′ of gain, and 79 miles with 21100′ of gain. 

08.13.13 Lolo Peak from Mill Creek Trhd., 19mi, 6500′, 3h34m11s:
I’ve found that I spend too much time driving up the Mormon Peak road when I go to Lolo peak, and that doing this is really just short-changing my training efforts.  The alternative is to start at the Mill Creek trailhead, which is on the Lolo Creek valley bottom, at around 3600′ (as opposed to the standard trailhead at 5800′).  This adds an additional 2200′ of runnable vertical, and about 5 miles to the trip.  It also allows for a descent of the Mill Creek trail, which is one of the Missoula area’s better mountain bike trails (so I hear), and is just as fun on foot.  I decided to make this into a loop, ascending Lantern Ridge, which ascends Lolo Peak’s west side, and descended the standard Carlton Ridge to Mill Creek Trail route.  I pushed hard both up and down, and was really happy to have solidly broken the 4 hour mark, despite off trail travel on Lantern Ridge.  In fact, my time from the much lower trailhead was not much slower than my times on the standard route.  Regrettably, running fast on the descent put a big strain on my calves in the way that I’m not used to, and definitely left me hurting for the next few days.
08.14.13 Gully Loop, 4mi, 900′, 50m:
So slowww.

08.15.13 Double Dip + Etc., 14mi, 4900′, 2h15m (injury):
I ran the Double Dip course but with the addition of a second summit of Sentinel after running to the M, and a descent down the Pengelly trail.  About the time I started descending from the south summit, my calf started screaming, and I walked the rest of the way home.   

08.17.13 Rattlesnake Corridor Loop, 31mi, 5100′, 4h55m:
After a day off, my calf seemed alright, and I decided to give this long run an attempt.  The route ascends to Stuart Peak from the main Rattlesnake trailhead, then drops down the backside into Lake Creek, before intersecting with the Corridor road for a 15 or 16 mile slog out on the rocky old dirt road.  Everything until the corridor was lovely (although I took the descent down the Lake Creek trail easy to avoid reinjuring my leg way the hell in the backcountry).  Running the entire corridor is an exercise in boredom, and I doubt I will ever do this again.

08.18.13 Fishin’ up Colt Killed!, 6mi, 500′, All Damn Day:
Some good, solid dog-wrangling, cutthroat harrasing fly fishing on the west side of the Bitterroots.  I count these recovery hikes as training, just try and stop me.

08.20.13 Straight Peak, 22mi, 5600′, 4h49m:
I’ve been wanting to do this loop in the Great Burn for some time,  but the logistics and inclination never worked out before today.  The route begins at the Clearwater Crossing trailhead at the end of the W. Fork Fish Creek road.  I ended up ascending the lovely W. Fork Fish Creek trail before cutting off on the endless switchbacks that lead up to Cedar Mountain and the ridge separating West Fish from Straight Creek.  I was skeptical of the quality of this trail, but it turns out that it has been really well maintained.  From here, the run up the ridge to Straight Peak is straightforward (although I heard a cougar screaming nearby and that was spooky).  The top of Straight Peak is lovely, with views south to the Williams Range, and the imposing South Face of Crater Mountain dominating the view to the north.  What a slab of uninterrupted rock that is.  I look forward to skiing it at some point.  The descent to Chilcoot Pass from Straight Peak was a little confusing, with the trail becoming rather indistinct.  It’s not really a problem because the ridge is perfect for overland travel, I just kept second guessing myself about finding the Straight Creek trail.  The egress out Straight Creek is rather long, rocky, and really brushy, and the trail is engineered in a strange way where it slithers back and forth over the broad valley bottom for no identifiable reason.  It crosses the creek six times, and most of these require wet shoes.  The brush was pretty bad for much of the time, which always makes me grumpy, and by the time I got back to the truck, my scratched legs and soggy feet had my feeling an uncharacteristic degree of animosity towards Straight Creek, despite the fact that this route should not be that strenuous. 

08.21.13 Gully Loop, 4mi, 900′, no time:

08.22.13 AM University Mountain, 8mi, 2600′, 1h10m:  
It’s finally cooled off enough to bring the dog in the morning, and he is pretty stoked.  He’s also relatively out of shape and was tired at the end of this one.  But he wasn’t too hot. 

08.22.13 PM Sentinel Hill Climb, 5mi, 2000′, 45m:
Sentinel Hill Climb in 25m31s, by best time thus far (but still poor, from a competitive perspective).  I keep thinking I should use poles, but is that cheating!?

08.24.13 Anaconda Hi-Line Loop, 35mi, 8000′, 7h01m:
This was a beautiful and naturally constructed long loop in the Anaconda Range at the headwaters of the iconic rock creek.  The route essentially circumnavigates Warren Peak, crossing five passes of varying magnitudes (and the continental divide twice!).  Despite the long drive from Missoula, I strongly recommend this one.  I ran the loop clockwise in order to give myself bail options in the event of (forecasted) thunderstorms.

I left Missoula at 4:30, and arrived at the Carpp Creek Trailhead around 7:15.  I left the truck at 7:30, and immediately took a wrong turn and had to bushwhack around the creek bottom until finding the trail leading up towards Maloney Basin and Cutaway pass.  The trails in the Anaconda-Pintlers are really well maintained (although sometimes technical) and I had a pleasant time making the initial 2500′ climb to 9600′ Cutaway Pass along well groomed, low-angle switchbacks.  Some of the switchbacks even had tent pads built right in, in case you get tired, or just wanted to spend some time looking at the Teton-esque Warren Peak.  That’s how nice the AP trail crews are.  The highpoint (and highlight) of the route (actually well above the named Cutaway Pass) was well above treeline, and the trail was just a trough dug out of the talus, which was fun to try to move efficiently over in minimal shoes.  The descent into LaMerche Creek was really pleasant, the perfect angle for high velocity cruising.  I followed the creek up to Warren Lake and from there up to the second pass of the day.  The trail down from here into Fishtrap Creek was technical, rooty, and fun, losing alot of elevation quickly that is then gradually regained with the long and rolling forested ascent towards Rainbow Pass.  The views to the Pintler Peaks from Rainbow pass are grand, with craggy peaks and lakes in all directions.  The descent to Johnston Lake and the run around the west side of the Warren massif are unremarkable; I lost some energy running through burns and the seemingly endless uphill slog towards Porter Ridge, although the extensive talus moonscapes were interesting.  From Porter Ridge, I dropped into the Tamarack Creek basin, which is full of sinuous, technical tread and granite erratics.  I was sort of going through a dark patch through this stretch; it would be a blast to run while feeling good.  A climb over a ridge leads into the Carpp Lakes basin, which is very likely the most popular location in the Anacondas.  A logical extension from here would be to ascend to Warren Pass and descend the Maloney Basin back to the trailhead.  I considered it but decided that between building thunderheads and friends to see back in town, that it should wait until next time.  The trail from Carpp Lake back to the Carpp Creek trailhead was relatively buff, and I was happy to find that I still had sufficient energy to run this stretch fast.  I want to go back and climb all the peaks and fish all the lakes.

08.25.13 Kid Lake Huckleberry Picking and Wood Gathering, 5mi, 1000′, Even longer:
Molly, Louie, and I went to our favorite huckleberry spot and loaded up, and did a little bit of unproductive fishing.  We also started our fall firewood collection in earnest, cutting about a cord’s worth of long rounds (we buck at home), using only axe and crosscut saw, per usual.  A strong and sudden afternoon thunderstorm over the ridge added some excitement as we scrambled to load the wood onto the trailer before getting electrocuted.  Even Louie was giving us concerned looks.

Warren Peak from one of the convenient rest stops on the ascent to Cutaway Pass.

Warren’s unnamed twin above Warren Lake.

Anaconda Moonscape.

Louie being all uncertain about his Wolf Pack.  He won’t tell you about it, but he’s calculating his loss of aerodynamicy and increased surface area, and how that will affect his chipmunk hunting efficiency.



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