Feathered Aspen


2017 Behind the Rocks 50 Mile Race Report

I had a blast running the Behind the Rocks 50 miler this year.  I was nervous going into the day having run hard the weekend before at the Salida marathon.  This was the first time I’d run back to back weekend races.  I wasn’t sure my legs had recovered and would be able to hold up to the dancing on the slickrock.  I felt a bit sore and haggered for most of the race, but I was able to keep to moving and have fun.

Moab will always hold a special place in my heart.  Running here is magical.  Enjoy the race video.  Apologies for the shaky segments.  I really need to get a gimbal.



Road Trip

Just one of our very intelligent conversations from our vacation thus far:

“Let’s go to the same place that we went yesterday tomorrow.”



“You want to go to the same place that we went yesterday tomorrow today?”

“No.  I meant I want to go to the same place we went today tomorrow.”

“Sure.  We can do yesterday tomorrow.”

And later:

“When are we leaving again?  Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?”


“Is tomorrow Saturday, Sunday, or Monday?”

These conversations illustrate two important points:

1)      We are on vacation.

2)      So are our brains.

It’s hard to believe that we left Edgewater just three days ago, but in just that short amount of time, things have begun to slow down and bleed together.  For the first time in ages, Joshua has sat down to read or nap or just play with Lily, and our most important decisions revolve around whether we should keep sleeping, go for a run, or go down to the water.

Mmhmm.  Life is good.

Now, it wouldn’t be a true A vacation if there weren’t a little adversity to whether, so have no fear:  we’re far from breaking the norm.  On Thursday morning, bright and early, we piled in our already loaded Isuzu and hit the road.  The drive to Moab, Utah is roughly six hours, and since it was the 4th of July, we wanted to get to the first-come-first-serve campsites early.

So we left at 4:30 AM.  Which is laughable really, because when we got here, the gorgeous campsites lining the Colorado River and rimmed with breath-taking, precipitous red canyons were empty.

Rather than question our good luck, we nabbed the best campsite we could find, a scant five miles outside of Moab.  Big Bend campground is, as the name would suggest, located at a large bend in the river.  The canyon walls curve pleasingly, and the shadows are artful.

We set up camp and immediately went swimming.  Lily swam butt naked in the old Colorado, and we had a fabulous time.  At around noon, we piled into the car to check out Moab.

And here’s where the adversity comes in.  Up until noon or even 1 PM, canyon land feels much the same as a warm day in Denver.  But after 1 PM, the temperature keeps climbing until your left with a debilitating heat.  Like a hair dryer blowing in your face.

Actually, a hair dryer might be preferable, given the momentum of the air.  As far as I can tell, this place is unfamiliar with the phenomenon known as breeze.

Meh.  It’s not so bad.  Sure, I have several layers of sweat, sunscreen, red dirt, and Colorado river caking my unshowered body, but I consider it a reasonable price to pay for the relative seclusion and stunning beauty of our surroundings.  And, you’ll never hear me complain about frequent dips in the Colorado River.  I love it.  I feel chilly within two minutes, and our spot is sandy and perfect.  Mmm… Maybe I’ll stop writing with the hot laptop in my lap right now and take a little dip…

Where was I?  That’s right.  Moab the beautiful, moab the blistering oven of heat.  There’s not too terribly much to tell, really.  We came, we camped, we ate, we swam, we siesta’d, and when was cool enough in the morning hours, we ran.  On the first day, we ran six miles up on Slickrock, and on the second, ran another six up near Kane Springs.  Both runs were gorgeous, and we were afforded panoramic vistas of red rock, canyon, and sky each time.

On Sunday morning, we hitched Darjeeling Hill Station (fondly known as DHS, our camper trailer) to the Isuzu and hit the road.  Driving north, we were treated to more stunning views of canyons and red rock.  In fact, we were so distracted by our surroundings that we missed the last turn off for gas and found ourselves on a 24 mile detour to Nowhere Emery, Utah for some much needed fuel.  If ever there were a site for the next zombie apocalypse TV series, this is it folks.  The place was deserted, save one elderly man dressed in his Sunday best, carrying a Book of Mormon and dragging is left heel as he made steady progress to the Church of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, we filled up, thanked the Mormons, and went on our merry way, newly attuned to those blue and white signs that say, ”Next Gas Station 133 miles.”

At the Utah border, we said adieu to canyons and greeted Highway 50, aka “The Lonliest Highway in America.”  I cannot tell you how many hours it took to drive through Nevada, but I can tell you that the state is filled with mountains.  We passed through maybe four small towns, and in between, there was wilderness.  A lot of it looked like the Arkansas River Valley, minus the people and buildings.  It was beautiful but endless, and so we were happy to see Lake Tahoe on the other side of Carson City.

We finally crossed the border into California at about 10 PM, after nearly 17 hours on the road.  Lily was a champ.  Let’s just say there was some very entertaining theater coming from the passenger seat, and that we crawled over said seat many a time for dramatic effect.  Also, Lily probably ate two whole bags of green grapes, which are her new favorite food.  And the next day, she pooped explosively five times.

Ahhh. Lake Tahoe.  A 36 hour reprieve from driving, a long hike along the water, and dramatic views of blue-green water.  At first, you think:  why are so many people obsessed with Lake Tahoe?  What’s so special?  Then you walk the Rubicon Trail, and you think:  aha.  It’s like a sapphire glittering through the trees.  It’s gorgeous.

Also, we saw a bear.

This is my first bear sighting, and I’ll tell you, it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I always envisioned.  I am not one of those outdoorsy gals who salivate over wildlife.  I’m one of those outdoorsy gals who would prefer to never, ever see a predator in the wild.  Ever.  That’s right; I’m perfectly happy to forgo some experiences, and being eaten alive is one of them.

So when I saw a baby black bear about fifteen feet ahead of me on the trail, I said, “uhh.  Bear,” and did an about face.  The couple behind us lit up and kept walking, practically calling out, “here Mama mama.  Where arrre you Mama mama?  Come here Mama bear!”

Well, I have to admit that watching this elderly couple try and pet the baby black bear restored my heart rate.  I figured that if anyone was going down, it would surely be them.  So we stood still and watched the baby black bear trundle off into the trees, and then we belatedly took out the camera and took some photos of trees and shadows where the baby black bear had been.

Other than that, the trail was relatively uneventful and very pretty.  For lunch, we found a little spot near the water, and after we had eaten our sandwiches, we went wading.  Lily wanted to wade too, but when she discovered how cold it was, she was quite irritated.  She kept making motions to go into the water and then she would twist and writhe away from it.

On Tuesday morning, we packed up once more and head for Big Basin Redwoods State Park, south of San Francisco.  Unfortunately, due to a detour into the depths of the redwoods (one lane, 15 mph, 25 miles, switchbacks, and six sexy convertibles stuck behind our camper), what was supposed to be a four hour drive turned into an eight hour drive.  In the last two hours, Lily exorcist vomited four times, and my knuckles felt like they were fused to the steering wheel.  By the time we arrived at our campsite, I was feeling slightly homicidal and terribly guilty over bringing a 15 month old on a 30 hour road trip to the seaside.  I’m nuts.  What was I thinking?!  Plus, the car reeked of vomit.

And oh.  It was just about to get worse.  Joshua leaves Lily and I at the campsite and drives up to the Ranger Station to check in, and uh oh, we have a problem.  We accidentally signed up for a handicapped site, and now we’ve lost our reservation AND all of our money.  Also.  We’re both so pissed we don’t speak for nearly an hour.

Anyway, we’re forced to move to a little, buggy site that’s smaller than a parking spot and even less attractive.  We quickly set up and then we go for a run.  We talk it out like calm, responsible, and loving adults, and we come to a conclusion:  we’re gonna go to a motel on the beach.

That’s right.  Like adults.

And then we took showers.  Sure, Lily screamed like it was Armageddon, but it was the first time I had bathed in a week, so I was pretty happy about it, nonetheless.

The next morning, we ran through the tall, tall redwoods (and I looked nervously in the shadows for massive she-bears), and then we packed up and drove to the coast.

The moment that I saw the coast, I felt a wave of relief.  It really is as beautiful as I had imagined, and the fact that it’s approximately 65 degrees and foggy is almost even better.  Give me 65 and foggy next to 110 and dry as a bone any day J

For our first day on the coast, we hiked into Ano Nuevo Reserve and saw the Elephant seals molting on the beach, enjoying the sea-salt breeze and the cacophony of California Sea Lions all the while.

Lily loves the beach.  After all, it’s like one big sand box, and Lily loves sand boxes.

Afterwards, we drove to Pescadero and stopped at Duarte’s Tavern for Cream of Artichoke Soup, Calamari Steak Sandwich, and Grilled Halibut.  It was a bit of a splurge, but that’s ok.  Today is our anniversary, and we were happy to gorge on seafood the day before in celebration.

Finally, we arrived at out motel in Half Moon Bay, and we enjoyed our first night with climate control, personal showers, and a King-sized bed for the three of us.  This morning, we went for a run and did our laundry, and this afternoon we’re planning to do some beach combing.  Hurrah for the California coast!!