Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thoughts about food

The other day I was home alone and hungry.

I am spoiled. Jon is a good (great) cook and I rarely cook for myself anymore. If left to my own devices I joke that I would live off of popcorn. It is not very far from the truth! It is not that I can't cook, or that I don't like to cook, it is just that I am not motivated to cook for one.

So, back to the other day...

I have been craving popcorn for awhile. But popcorn my way: coated with about a tablespoon of melted butter mixed with some tamari (teaspoon?), sprinkled with lots of nutritional yeast. Yumm! I am quite capable of finishing off the entire batch. Big boost of B vitamins thanks to the nutritional yeast. Porter loves this stuff also and gets to finish off the dregs.

So, as I am making the popcorn I got to thinking about the foods I used to eat a lot of when I was a poor college student back in the 80's, and to be honest, up until not so long ago.

Mostly vegeterian. Lots of whole grains, nutritional yeast, beans, veggies, yogurt...

After shopping the other day I am reconsidering that diet. We already bake our own bread (Jon makes incredible sourdough), most of the meat in our diet is obtained from the wild, either by a local fisherman or relatives who hunt. We even belong to a CSA and get our veggies and eggs from them.

But maybe it is time to refocus on the old standbys of bulger, cheese and onions or potatoes, onions, tamari and nutritional yeast?

Our family is lucky - we have some flexibility in our budget. Three years ago the current prices for food and fuel would have been very difficult for us to manage.

For most of my neighborhood and for most of the clients at our clinic, the current situation is leaving them in more dire straights than normal ("the trouble with normal is it always gets worse..." - name that artist). Can they afford the gas to get to their appointment? What about the meds we prescribe? When I offer a patient nutritional counseling I try to focus on inexpensive, basic foods that are nutrient dense and that they are willing to eat.

These are interesting times we are living in...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Resistance Training - Duluth Style

Took a couple days off from running, but did get a nice four mile hike in yesterday before the temperature dropped into the 40's. Lots of wildflowers blooming along the trails in the Piedmont area, the highlight being wild oats (bellwort sp) and violets - of all shades.

There are a few nice rock outcroppings on this section with views of Lake Superior and the harbor. Not yesterday. Instead the view was of a bank of fog. There was an interesting weather phenomenon going on though: the fog was moving inland (breeze off of the Lake?) and the higher clouds were moving in the opposite direction. Very cool looking.

Today I did not need to be into work until 11:30 am. Tuesdays are one of my days to get errands done that have to occur during "business hours". First stop of the day was the veterinarian. Porter loves going to the vet's office, until he sees the doctor, then he is not so sure. He has figured out where the "treat' drawer is, so will check that out and finangle a few biscuits out of the vet tech as soon as possible. Porter got a "clean bill of health" for the year, got his rabies vaccine (I have 2 more vaccines to administer in the coming month or so) and heartworm meds and made his escape. I was pretty happy to see that his weight was 95 lbs - even with his winter coat still in. He is exercising less now that he is not running and I was afraid he would be over 100 lbs. Not good for his joints and expensive related to heartworm medication.

Next stop was Sky Harbor Airport. Porter spends his days as the airport dog, hanging out with Jon and mooching off of the guys. No matter how many times I say "Don't feed the dog", people do (explains my surprise about his weight). Knowing I had to drop the dog off I decided to run on the Point. The road ends at Sky Harbor and it is sand dunes and trails from there until the Superior Entry two miles away [Minnesota Point (Park Point)... at 7 miles in length and neighboring Wisconsin Point at 3 miles form the longest freshwater sand bar in the world. The natural entry to St. Louis Bay divides the bar on the Wisconsin side and is known as the Superior Entry. The Park Point Ship Canal is the man made access to the bay on the Minnesota side.]

Much of the run is done on fairly well-packed trails through the pine forest (a State Scientific and Natural Area) and dunes, but there is about a half mile to mile of trail that is through soft sand. Uugh! Tough running. Good for the quads, but not my favorite. I keep reminding myself it is good strength training. Feels pretty good when you hit packed trail though. If you really like running in sand there is 7 miles of beaches to run. I am not a fan of this as the beach has quite the slant to it and is really hard on my legs. Nothing good comes to me from running across slopes like that. Aggravates all the biomechanical issues I have.

Lots of stuff blooming on the point. Strawberries were everywhere. False Soloman's Seal were just opening up their flowers. And - just to make things more exciting - poison ivy was emerging from the sand.

Park Point has a few wild edibles growing along the dunes - the aforementioned strawberries; blueberries; and cherries to name a few. The hardest thing about this is that they often grow interspersed with the poison ivy. Picker beware!!

I am fairly resistant to poison ivy it would seem as I have only had a mild case once or twice and have spent the past 20+ years out on the point. Now that I have said that I will probably have the worst case ever this summer ;->

By the time I was done with the run it was time to head into work. You never know how long it will really take to get off of the Point because of the Lift Bridge. I lucked out and no lakers or salties were inbound or outbound and I didn't get bridged. I had packed my knitting just in case. Depending on the size of the ship - and how many there are - you can spend up to an hour waiting for the bridge to drop. Usual wait is more like 20 minutes - nerve-wracking if you need to be somewhere!

So, it was a productive day errand wise but not knitting wise.

Tomorrow is "race day" in our household. NMTC Chester Bowl run for me, sailing regetta for Jon. Lots of hills at Chester Park which is a little ski hill located in the center of Duluth (for those of you from the Twin Cities think Buck Hill but smaller and woodsier - with bears). In addition to having downhill runs, Chester has the only ski jumps in town (Clouqet is the only other town nearby with ski jumps). And yes, I have really seen bears on this trail. Good thing they are black bears and fairly willing to head the other way as quick as I am.

I am planning on riding my bike to work and will need to decide about riding home and then driving to the run or biking/bussing to the run and then making my way home afterwards. My car will be in use for a road test tomorrow morning (Good Luck Sarah!!! Hope the 90 degree back goes well!) so I am forced to make alternative transportation plans. I work at the bottom of the hill, live close to the top and Chester is further east and higher still. Could be quite the cross-training day ;->

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More wildflowers

Seen last Thursday and one from today's 17 mile run on part of the Half Voyageur course (Peterson's Aid Station in Jay Cooke State Park to Carlton and back). As you can probably guess, no records were set on this run. We were out for a long, easy run and a chance to catch the trout lilies in bloom.

Violets (Thursday, Magney-Snively section of the SHT)

Not really violet in color, but there were lots of violet ones out too, especially at Jay Cooke.

wild ginger

Photo by Ed Dallman

They like to keep their flower hidden on the ground. These were on a slope next to the trail. Interesting method of getting pollinated - "ground-loving insects" ie: beetles.

Lots of other photos I wanted to show you, taken today, but I am having issues trying to rotate them so, to spare you all the hassle of turning your computers on their sides, I am not going to include them. Too bad as the photos were of:

yellow trout lily
white trout lily
spring beauty (different species than the ones from Thursday)
wood anemone
adoxa (few patches at Jay Cooke)
purple clematis

Long uphill climbs are useful for a lot of things - one of which is spotting wildflowers (and interesting mushrooms). I would not have seen the purple clematis otherwise. One vine with 4-5 flowers. That was it.

We also saw three porcupines. One on the way out. Two up in a pine tree. We had to search for those! As we were coming past the Hemlock Ravine on the Munger trail we heard some screeching noises. Looked up, saw a broad-wing hawk fly over and figured maybe it was babies calling out for a meal. Went searching for the source (you would think I know better after my last escapade with a mother hawk) and after a few minutes of following the noise came upon the two porcupines. Ah, forgot that porkies can be kind of noisy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Inspired by all the flowers along the trail at the Superior 25K I decided to head out to the Magney-Snively section of the SHT and see what was blooming. This has always been a good spot to find:

dutchman's breeches

carolina spring beauty

Toothwort (forgot this one was out there)

large-flowered trillium

wood anemone

The one thing that I could not adequately capture was the evening light through the new leaves. Wow!! Rosey-yellowy-green. pretty incredible. I did try to get a picture of some of the views along this portion back towards downtown Duluth:

Porter came along for the hike and was actually quite feisty out there. He enjoys these days with a cool wind off of the Lake and had fun checking out all the smells and doing his bit to redistribute a deer skeleton.

Yeah, looks pretty patient here doesn't he?!

Todays hike was a good break for my legs. Ran to work Tuesday (hilly, with an extra hill and some bushwhacking thrown in for good measure). Ran the NMTC Western Waterfront Race/Run yesterday. Five miles in 43 minutes. I am happy with that time. For some reason I have had a lot of trouble on this course over the past years. One year it was an unstoppable bloody nose that turned me around less than a mile in. Several times it was asthma attacks that made it a bit of a struggle to complete. It is a relatively flat course by NMTC standards (though has a doozy of a hill right at the end) and is run along the St. Louis River estuary in West Duluth. It can be hot back there! My theory on the asthma attacks is that it happens to fall on the same week that something I am particularly allergic to is blooming. Who knows about the bloody nose!

This year things seemed to come together and I think I ran well - especially in light of the recent race. Focused on my breathing and ignored all the little aches and pains. After Tuesday's run to work the pain behind my right knee is back. Note - wore the orthotics for that run due to all the road on that route. Yesterday ran without the orthotics. I am testing a theory here. Anyway, knee is still a bit sore today so chose to hike vs run.

Trying to decide what length of long run to attempt this weekend. 18 miles? Something less?

I hear the trout lilys are blooming in Jay Cooke State Park. Friend sent me some photos - white and yellow. I am hoping to do my long run out that way and catch these while they are still blooming.

Soon to come: ladyslippers! Yellows should be on their way in a another couple of weeks. The section I hiked today has yellow ladyslippers right on the trail, so I will need to head back out in the coming weeks.

Best for last:


Look for the non-descript greenish-yellow flowers poking up from the compound leaves. They are near the canada mayflower leaf in the center of the picture (the adoxa is that low stuff surrounding the mayflower leaf). I know - only exciting for wildflower geeks ;-> [From Spring Flora of Minnesota by Thomas Morley: A. moschatellina L. Glabrous herb with a musky odor; leaflets obovate, 3-cleft; corolla yellowish-green, 5-8mm wide. Rich moist soils in woods, or in the north often in rocky or mossy places, Fillmore, Winona, Wabasha and Goodhure counties, and in Carlton Co. and the s. 1/2 of St. Louis County.]
Note: I have seen it further north - Lutsen for example.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Update - two days later

So, got home to a nice hot shower and a cold porter (Red Hook? one of my favs) and a home cooked meal. Thanks Jon!!!

Ended up hanging around the house not doing much that night but stretching my legs out - oh yeah, and opening up a blister under the callus under my bunion on my left foot. Pressure was building up and it was really starting to hurt! Bandaged up my right heel and left bunion to keep the area clean and headed to bed.

Sunday I got up and was able to walk - easily - downstairs. Greeted by coffee and current scones (starting to sound like a food blog). Needed to head to church as it was the day to say good-bye to our Associate Pastor. Gave me a chance to touch base with another Superior 25k runner and talk Half Voyageur with yet another of the ultra runners at Peace (he is planning on the Superior 100 this fall).

Got home, took the dog for a three mile walk along the SHT behind my house. I am a lucky gal, living just 300 feet or so off of a long distance trail! I am the Section Leader for this portion, so took the opportunity to go out and survey my section for maintenance issues. Porter is slowing down a lot, so a leisurely pace is perfect for him. I also took the time to note all the wildflowers and trees that were leafing out, budding or blooming. There were a lot! I had quite the list by the time we finished up our walk. Really nice considering that this is an urban portion of trail (I am only two miles from downtown Duluth) and the area above my house was a farm in the not-to-distant past.

Highlights were: (l=leaves; b=buds; f=flowers)
strawberry (f)
violets (f)
marsh marigold (f)
wood anemone (l, b, f)
wild garlic (l)
bellflower sp. (l)
cherry sp (l, b)
and a...

magnolia warbler

Like the rest of the SHT my section has some good hills on it. Not quite as long as the ones during the race, but steep enough. Good way to loosen up the legs after Saturday's run.

Arrived home and headed out to the grocery store with Sarah. Funny thing on how the family insists that there be food in the house ;->

Got home from that, hauled six bags up the steps to the house (36 steps - this my be my secret weapon in hilly runs, built in stairclimber everytime I leave the house) and took a look at my lawn. It was time for the first mow of the season. Actually it was way past time. Since a power mower was at hand I wussed out and relied on fossil fuels to help me knock the tall grass back down to a reasonable height. Other than the front yard most of our yard is at quite a severe slant. We long ago got rid of the grass alongside the steps, so it is just the side yard that has to be mowed on the angle - this happens to be the largest part of our yard.

For the almost 10 years that we have lived here we have done all of our mowing with a reel mower. Old-fashioned, human-powered, quiet, and non-polluting. Works great if you stay on top of your mowing, not letting the grass get too long. Long grass entails a few passes and is hard work. Long grass coupled with a steep slope.... gas-powered was the answer yesterday. I got all of the lawn mowed. Good workout one day after the run. Especially those treks up the hill to the top of the yard - multiple times. One section of our yard is steep in two directions, double the challenge and no real way to avoid hauling the heavy mower uphill. I also like to avoid any wildflowers in the yard, making things interesting on the slopes. I have some white, with purple speckles, violets in my yard. Can't bear to mow them over, so went around.

By the end of all of this I felt like I had done a long run.

Today I rode my bike to work. Pretty easy on the way there. It is only about 2 miles and the first mile is almost all downhill ;->

Now, the ride back is a whole 'nuther thing. At some point you just have to face it and pedal uphill. I ride a mountain bike with some pretty knobby tires and some very low gears - perfect for Duluth streets! The ride up Lincoln Park Drive felt a bit harder than last Friday's.

My legs feel great and - the most surprising thing - my right knee is bardly bugging me at all. Did I mention that I opted to go without my orthotics during the race. Makes me wonder....

Tomorrow my plan is to run to work. I don't have to be in until 11:30 am so I have time to be lazy in the morning and still get a nice run in. I can run over half of the distance on trails (combination of SHT and illegal ATV). I have just enough time to get in some good training before the Half Voyageur.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Superior 25k Race Report

Well, I did it - and with a smile!

I actually had a blast on this run. Wore the heart rate monitor (though didn't pay too much attention to it except on the long uphills). Finished the race passing folks - on the trail portions - and pretty happy. Legs feel good (it is 5 hours later as I type this).

So, for those folks who do not know this race: It is run in conjunction with the Superior 50K on the Superior Hiking Trail between Lutsen and Oberg Mountain and back. (

The Superior Hiking Trail is narrow (18 inches) with a lot of rocks, roots and hills. This race starts and ends at the Caribou Highlands Lodge at Lutsen. This equates to about .6 miles of "road" at the beginning and end of the race. The starting elevation is about 1300 feet. You ascend to 1650 feet within the first mile or so, then descend back to 1300 feet and repeat a couple of times, with a descent to 1100 feet thrown in before hitting the turn around at 7.2 miles and 1296 feet. These are not gradual ascents and descents. if you look at the trail on a topographic map, the contour lines are very close together.

The great thing about trail running is that you are not expected to be able to run up all of those hills. Power walking is about the best you can do (unless you are a running god/goddess). Descents can be a blast though - if you can keep your feet under you and don't roll an ankle.

The race course was complicated by a lot of downed trees. Just as you would get a nice pace going on Moose Mountain you would come upon another downed tree that had to be got over, under, or gone around.

The race directors did a great job of marking the trail though and the only time I wandered off course was when I was cruising downhill and followed the trail rather then the reroute. This always ended in a tree top, so no problem with getting too lost ;-> I appreciated that the flagging was on the end of wires (straightened clothes hangers) stuck in the ground. There was not much opportunity to lift my eyes off the trail in front of me.

The start of the race was a bit crowded and I ended up running with groups of folks for the first 7 miles. I am not used to this and it is hard to watch the trail ahead of you when it is obstructed by feet.

A couple of miles from the turn around (and the only aid station) I knew I was having trouble with a blister on my right heel. At first I thought I might just have dirt stuck in the back of my shoe. I had taped the area before starting as a precaution as this has been a recurring problem with these shoes. I ended up pulling the tape off as it had bunched up and was making matters worse. Got to the aid station, begged some tape off of the folks there and covered up the bloody mess that was my heel. Retied my shoe, filled up my water bottle and headed back down the trail (really up the trail as it had been a descent into the aid station).

Had to stop three times in the first mile to retie my shoe as it was too tight and really hurting the top of my foot. Finally got it right and continued on. The sun was shining and temps must have hit the mid-60's , especially in the valleys. Hot!!! Well, at least to this girl from the north country.

One of the best parts of this race - and something not mentioned on the race website - is the spring wildflowers:
Dutchman's Breeches(
Carolina Spring Beauty (
blanketed the forest floor alongside the trail for miles. The blue skies guarenteed the Spring Beauty's would be open, showing off their pink pinstripes. Saw lots of Marsh Marigolds - buds only. Heard Ovenbirds and a couple of warblers (don't ask species, I am terrible with warblers). I think I had a permanent smile on my face when I passed through the sections with all the flowers. Pretty sure I saw a couple of patches of:
Adoxa moschatellina( also.
Both the Adoxa and Carolina Spring Beauty have "Special Concern" status in Minnesota. This is due to their relative rarity.

I think I ran the second half at the same speed (or slightly slower) than the first half. Hard to tell as I was having issues with the chrono feature on my watch and didn't check it at the turn around. Felt great on the way back though and was able to pass a few folks on the downhills as well as the uphills (a rarity for me!).

I had a blast running down the last hill. Nothing funner than some technical single track!

Finished in 3:02. I am quite happy with that time. First race of this distance ever. First long-distance trail race outside of the NMTC series (longest of which is 9 miles and on a road).

Next up: Trail marathon?!

Friday, May 16, 2008

In 14.5 hours...

I will be starting up Moose Mountain in Lutsen on a 25k (15.2 m) race. What will you be doing???

In 10 - 12 hours I will be waking up, preparing some breakfast and coffee (the all important elixar of life), topping off the gas tank, picking up 3 other runners and heading up Hwy 61 for the 2 hour drive to Lutsen.

Right now I am contemplating what to pack for clothes. It is raining, not that I was expecting the trail to be dry anyway. It may be raining - off and on - tomorrow. Temperatures are predicted to bottom out around 40 and reach a high of 50.

Tights or shorts? Long sleeves or short? Vest? Rain coat? Pack one, wear the other? Layers are a good idea, until you try to figure out what to do with them while running through the woods. I think I may be safe to leave the mittens and wool hat at home. Maybe I will pack them anyway in case the wind is off the Lake.

My plan is to have everything packed and ready to go, with my base layer laid out and ready to put on. I am not a morning person (this may be an slight understatemnent), so cannot leave packing until the morning. I am still trying to figure out what to do about my orthotics.

They are custom-made, but only half-length. This means with every new pair of runnng shoes I take out the stock insoles, cut them, and use the toe bits for the front of my foot with the orthotic for the arch and heel. Works well except.... when my shoes (specifically my left) get really wet. Then the toe bit slides back and over the orthotic. Not too uncomfortable during short runs, but I am not sure I can put up with it for 15 miles.

Did I mention I wxpect to have wet feet tomorrow?!

Yeah. Options include:

1. Not wearing the custom orthotics, but using my as-yet-uncut stock insoles and hoping that the nature of this trail race and my motion-control shoes keep me from an injury caused by over-pronation.

2. Use my insoles and orthotics as I usually do, stopping on occasion to readjust if need be (mucking up my race time).

3. Gluing or taping the stock insole toe bits in place so they cannot slide over my orthotics.

Any suggestions???

Sometime within the next week look for a race report on my first Superior 25K (and my longest race ever).

Ran only one time since last Sunday - part of my taper plan, minus a couple of runs. Did bike to work today, and home - up hill. I took it very easy as I do not want to tire my legs out now.

The NMTC Goat Run was a good time, though I was swayed by my peers to follow a "new" trail that took us off course and may - or may not - have shortened our total run. Not sure of total distance, though I did not shave off that much time compared to previous years. I have been averaging about 5 minutes faster at each race this series.

The standings for the series have been posted on Northland Runner. Consistency and showing up really do pay off ;->

OKC: Still working on the Baby Surprise and still neglecting my other two projects.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tick Number Two

Ran 15k today (9 miles). Longest of the NMTC "races". This one is all on roads, a mix of paved and gravel since the City decided to dump tar on parts of it. So, how did a wood tick manage to follow me home?

Must have been the short detour into the woods prior to the start of the race. This guy/gal was persistant! I didn't notice it until I had been home for awhile, showered and saw it climbing on my running tights which were hanging on the bedroom door. Needless to say, I have spent the rest of the afternoon and evening checking out any crawling sensations.

Run went well. Wore my heart rate monitor, though did not stay within my long run range (Zone 3 - 142-163 bpm). My average was 169 bpm, but I was chatting the whole time with another runner and never felt winded - even on the uphills.

Weather was better than predicted, but the "breeze" was a bit stiff at times. Funny thing was - on the out and back, hilly, winding course - we ran into the wind both on the way out and on the way back, with the wind being especially annoying near the finish.

No attacks by birds. Not much in the way of wildlife, other than the tick and some birds singing. Couldn't see any wildflowers from the middle of the road, though the woods surrounding this part of Skyline are full of wild leeks and they are pretty easy to spot at this time of year. Soon the large-flowered trillium will be out, and they are quite a show in this area.

Six days to the race. Only runs planned this week are a couple of two milers on Tuesday and Thursday and the NMTC Goat Run (5K) on Wednesday.

OKC: Few more rows done on the Baby Surprise, getting close to the neck decreases. I was asked today at the race about making a hat for one of the runners. I usually donate one for the end of the year potluck so he may just have to wait :->

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's the Little Things

Seen on runs this past week:

Hepatica in bloom (though closed due to the cloudy skies - more on spring ephemerals later) - Jay Cooke State Park/NMTC Bull Run

Violets (purple ones even!) in bloom - Superior Hiking Trail in the Piedmont area

Mertensia (Virginia bluebells) in bloom - my back yard (has been blooming for past week or so)

Daffodils in bloom - my backyard again

Lilac leaves are bursting out, how far behind can the flower buds be?

Cherry sp - leaves appearing.

Rhubarb is up a few inches

Bloodroot in bloom - Piedmont area

Wild Leeks (ramps) - up at least 6 inches or more - Piedmont area

Wood tick (only one) - Jay Cooke State Park - NMTC Bull Run (last year I had 25)

Despite the cool temps spring is inching it's way into Duluth.

Have managed a run or two more in shorts though it has been a challenge of late. No more run-ins with angry hawks.

Rode my bike for the first time this year. Great thing about my neighborhood is the fast ride downtown. Bummer is the climb back up. Today I rode downtown to meet someone for coffee. By the time I headed home I had picked up Porter (got another meal out today) and the two of us "biked" back home. First we had to figure out a leash as Jon did not have one in the car. Lucky for me, rope seems to materialize on a regular basis around Jon and it was a long enough piece to work as a leash. Skijoring commands come in real handy when you are biking along side your dog.

I think the 50 degree temp (cooler by the lake with the northeast breeze) was a bit much for Porter. His tongue was hanging out pretty far at times, and we needed to slow the pace a bit, though he was threatening to leave me behind on the steeper uphill bits.

The low gear on my bike is a big help in getting up the hill, though I have yet to be able to pedal up 7th (third steepest street in Duluth according to the DNT). I do plan on running 9 miles tomorrow morning (Happy Mother's Day to me) so was not very interested in pushing it too much. From here on out until the 17th it is all about staying healthy and saving up some energy for the race.

OKC: Baby Surprise is coming along slowly. No other knitting has touched my fingers. Not much in Interweave Knits to get excited about...

Oh yeah - about spring ephemerals: this is a term for the wildflowers that appear early in the spring before the trees fully leaf out. Many of them will be seen while snow is still on the ground. They appear, bloom, go to seed and disappear all before the woods get shady from the leaves. Often you can find no sign of them by mid-summer, with one exception. Leeks/Ramps do not flower until July, but by then there are no leaves to be seen!

Many of the spring ephemerals have white to pink to purple flowers (though not all); and many of them have flowers that close up on overcast days (and in the evening). Energy conservation tactic? Quite a few spring ephemerals have interesting ways of directing insects to themselves. Spring Beauty uses infrared stripes to guide bees into the pollen. Wild ginger apparently smells wonderful to ground-dwelling beetles and other lovers of dead things.

Most of these plants are not very showy and are low to the ground, meaning they can go unobserved if you are not looking for them. Sunny days are the exception as then they are quite obvious in their presence.

My advice: Get out into the woods!!! Soon the trillium will be in bloom and that is a show worth seeing!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Adventure on the trail

Weather was so much better this weekend then the forecast! Friday it was pouring rain and windy. Forecast for Saturday was 30% chance of rain, cloudy, temps in the upper 30's. Perfect hypothermia weather. I started to re-think my plans to run Saturday while at the SHTA Annual Meeting.

Reality: sunny, windy (very windy), and warming into the 40's. Perfect running weather.

I headed out from Wolf Ridge with a group that was hiking a 6 mile out and back to "Fantasia" overlook. My plan called for a 10 mile run, so I needed to add on another 4 miles somewhere on the SHT. The Wolf Ridge trails were mostly dry, but they are up on a hill. Footing got wetter as I descended and it turned into a muddy, wet run once on the SHT. Heard the area got 1 inch of rain Friday night, so it was no big surprise that the occasional stream appeared on the trail!

This section was an interesting mix of puddles, mud and steep ascents and descents. It is technical singletrack, except for the Wolf Ridge trails (more akin to ski trails). Synopsis from the SHT guidebook: " of the most challenging, varies greatly from the easy long stretches along the contours to steep, scrambling ascents and descents. There are many open ledges affording beautiful views of both Lake Superior and its shoreline, and inline lakes, mountains and valleys. "

I seemed to have missed out on the long easy stretches. The views are spectacular! Luckily the wind was blowing from the west, so no risk of being blown off a cliff edge ;->

Over 50% of the trail was under water, so trying to keep my feet dry was pretty pointless. Running on the SHT requires focus. I didn't get much of an opportunity to look up at my surroundings except while hiking up the steep ascents. I did manage to notice a few signs of spring including: violets just emerging from the soil and unfurling their leaves; columbine leaves along the steep stretches; marsh marigolds - both leaf and flower buds; and nesting birds (more on that later).

In one stretch of trail on my way out to Hwy 1 I came upon the remains of a deer. Interesting to run through puddles lined with deer fur. Not much was left other than a leg or two and a ribcage - and the fur.

After running west to Hwy 1, then returning to the trail junction with the Wolf Ridge trails, I headed east towards another overlook on the SHT (overlook = steep ascent/descent), turned around and headed back to the trail junction. Got a bit confused here, headed down a trail I thought would take me back to Wolf Ridge, hit an intersection with the SHT that I had been through already, turned around, headed back - uphill - and got back onto the right trail up to the environmental learning center.

That is when the REAL excitement of the day began! I was nearing the end of my 10 mile run, heading up hill and had just turned a corner on the trail when I heard a screech. Looked up in an attempt to locate the bird and see if I could identify it. A greyish, large bird flew over. Hmm, hawk of some sort... stopped to see if I could get a better look. Bird flew over again, this time lower, and screeching the whole time. Hmm, think it wants me to move on, must be nesting in the area. So, up the hill I go, next thing I know, a third pass is being made! Lots of screeching and the bird is much closer. By this time I am ducking, apologizing (swearing) and heading up the trail as fast as I can go. Out of the corner of my eye I see the hawk diving on me again, and by now I am worrying about her talons and wondering how bad it hurts to get attacked by a hawk and if I will freak folks out when I show up with a head wound! The fourth and final pass came within 6 inches of my head (near as I could tell while ducking and running) and by then I must have gotten far enough away that she felt confident I was no longer a threat to her nest because the attacks stopped.

What kind of hawk did I piss off Saturday? A Northern Goshawk. For a picture follow this link:

There has been a female nesting in the area of trail I was on for the past few years. Found that out after I got back to the ELC and spoke with staff. I was the only person that weekend to experience this unique sign of spring. Best adventure so far on a trail run!

OKC: not much knitting got done this past week. Long days spent at work and on board and family stuff. A little progress has been made on the Baby Surprise, no progress on the mittens or hat.

New Interweave Knits arrived while I was gone... just what I need more inspiration!