All posts filed under: Travel

Orcas 100: Why Not?

Photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama On the ferry ride over between Anacortes, Washington to our destination, Orcas Island, Nick replayed his whys over in his mind. I had a difficult time concealing my giddiness at a trip to Orcas–for one, I had never been but had heard of the island magic; for another, it was the Pacific Northwest and as a proud Pacific Northwesterner, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to smell coastal brine and the cleansing dampness of cedar forests. When Nick asked me my why, my reason for running Orcas 100, I almost laughed. Did I need a reason to run this race? Wasn’t the sheer beauty of the place enough?   “Because it was a chance to take this trip,” I said, my mind still full with images of our night in Seattle, stuffing our faces with seafood bisque and piroshkys and wandering so far and so long our feet were swollen before the race. Even on the drive to the ferry terminal earlier that morning, we had watched trumpeter swans, maybe even a …

Cascade Crest 100

As we rounded the corner following the dirt road up to No Name Ridge, the smell of breakfast awakened me from my stupor. “We have to be close to the aid,” I said, imagining thick, sweet pancakes filled with blueberries and chocolate. Breakfast almost sounded too good to be true and I hoped that the aid station was close. Behind us the sunrise had grown from a yellow hue that lightened the night sky and stole the stars to the fiery orange that preceded dawn and turned the clouds lilac. We had spent the last few hours hiking up the ridgeline and after running more than 80 miles of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, we were now eager to reach the No Name Ridge Aid Station.  “I can see the aid!” I said, noticing the large green tent, the white van, the camping chairs and patient volunteers through the trees. “Ah, yup. Me, too,” Nick replied, equally glad to have arrived. He had gone through lows with me during the early morning hours and had patiently watched as I wolfed …

Amsterdam: Where to Run in the City of Canals, Weed & Poffertjes

Amsterdam probably doesn’t come to mind when you think about running; if you’re confined to a city, then surely one where bikes outnumber people nearly 2 to 1, coffeeshops (not what you think they are) are found on every corner, and tourists flock to some of the best museums doesn’t come to mind. Nick and I recently spent two weeks in Amsterdam, enjoying everything from Indonesian food  to wandering the Red Light District, but we still made time to run. Luckily, if you’re willing to rent a bike or jog your way around a few bikes, then Amsterdam can be a great place to run. Here’s our list of the best places to get off of your bike and onto your own two feet: 1. Westerpark Located directly west of the city center and adjacent to the bustling, boutique-filled Haarlemerstraat, Westerpark is home to a variety of festivals throughout the summer and one of the more convenient parks to access from the city center. More than 4 miles of trail, both paved and unpaved, skirt …

Hike to Panamint City

Location: Surprise Canyon in Panamint Valley Length: Roughly 10 miles out-and-back; factor in another 2-4 if exploring the town Duration: 7-12 hours depending on pace and how long you wish to explore the town Intensity: Strenuous with 4,000 feet of elevation gain and loss Death Valley is an inhospitable place, and its neighboring valley, Panamint, is no more appealing. With temperatures that can hover upwards of 100° F from May to October and a dry wind that can parch your skin into something reptilian, images of Panamint Valley don’t typically conjure lush oases. And, for the most part, they’re not. Surprise Canyon, sitting below the 9,600 foot Sentinel Peak in the Panamint Range, is, however. There’s water and, beyond that, there’s life–hermit thrush flit from branch to branch, Pacific tree frogs cling to moss, and thick, black carpenter bees whizz through the sky–all of which comes as a surprise. Hence, the name Surprise Canyon. Follow the trail to the end of the canyon and you’ll find the remains of a once-thriving silver mining town, replete with 2,000 …

Zion 100: My First Hundred or Close Enough

I never thought I’d be here. In fact, I promised my mom when I started dating Nick that I would never do these types of races. By “these types” of races, that meant anything over a half-marathon. I’m a trustworthy person, but I broke that promise. I ran a bunch of 50Ks, R2R2R, a gnarly 50-mile race in Santa Barbara and then this: Zion 100. I think the idea situated itself in my head after crewing Nick at San Diego 100, the first 100-mile race I had ever experienced. It was 2 a.m., I was tired of crewing since 6 a.m. the morning before, and I fell asleep on the floor of the Old Al Bahr shrine, sharing a pillow with an older man who I hoped wouldn’t wake up and tell me to move. Nick came in shortly after. I congratulated him, then fell back asleep on the floor, completely exhausted. Never mind the fact that the Nick was the one who had just run 100 miles. Still, as tired as he was, he drove us …

Top 10 Things to Do: Big Island, Hawaii

What area of the world contains 10 of the 15 climatic zones of the world? Better yet, what island has both tropical and temperate rain forests, hot, arid landscapes and even periglacial climates? Hawaii. But not Hawaii the state–Hawaii the island, more commonly referred to as the Big Island. Earlier this month, Nick and I spent 8 days traversing the Big Island by foot and by Jeep Wrangler. It’s difficult to pick a favorite activity, let alone a favorite place, as the island is so big that all of the other Hawaiian islands (Maui, Moloka’i, O’ahu, Lana’i, Kaua’i, Kaho’olawe, Ni’hau and yes, I’m including the yet-to-surface young Lo’ihi) still don’t fit within the expanse of the Big Island. That said, I narrowed down ten of my favorite things to do if you visit (and you really should). 1. Captain Cook Hike & Snorkel If you’re on a budget or simply more interested in warming up before jumping in the cool waters of the Pacific, hike to the Captain Cook Monument on the northern edge of Kealakekua Bay. Many companies offer boat and catamaran tours …

Vermont College of Fine Arts: Residency 1

Last night I returned home from two weeks on the East Coast: 10 days in Montpelier, Vermont for my first Vermont College of Fine Arts residency, sandwiched between a few days spent in Connecticut visiting Nick’s dad. To explain how I ended up at VCFA is a long story, but suffice it to say that one’s gut instinct is usually the right one. When I applied two years ago, I originally decided to accept VCFA. A sudden phone call from OSU changed that decision, however, (you mean the residencies are in the mountains in Oregon and we get to eat local food!?), and I haphazardly decided that OSU would be a better choice. After one residency and two semesters at OSU, I left the program and applied once again to VCFA, this time based on reasons that related more to my academic and professionals goals than my politics. I gained knowledge and friendship and confidence at OSU, and I feel grateful for having had the experience, but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to …

The West Coast Trail: Day Four

Day Four: 17.5km-0 (Tscowis to finish at Pachena Bay) “I can’t believe they’re right there! Have you seen them before?” Nick and I stood on the torn shoreline of the West Coast Trail, roughly 15 kilometers from Bamfield, the closest town to the start (or in our case, the end) of the West Coast Trail. The morning had been cool and cloudy, but we felt relaxed, especially because we knew that in just a few short hours, we would likely be eating pancakes in some small town on the way home. “I have, but never this close and never eating algae like that!” I replied. The subjects we were discussing were orcas, with said subjects directly off shore. We watched as their arrowhead fins, pitch black like basalt, sunk in and out of the water, their tails flipping upwards as they dove for the food they were scouring from the reefs below. To see so many animals so close was amazing, and while I wish we would have glimpsed a bear or cougar or wolf, …

The West Coast Trail: Day Three

Day Three: 42km-17.5 (Cribs Creek to Tsocowis) It was bound to happen. We just didn’t expect it to be this petty. “I thought we decided we were going to mix it up,” I said as I traipsed down the umpteenth ladder of the WCT, literally balancing the two poles and the cumbersome weight on my pack with my desire to finish this portion of the hike. “You said you didn’t care,” Nick said, exasperated at trying to understand why I was upset. “And the beach has interesting things to see.” “But we talked about it this morning!” For all of the time that we spend together (largely in periods of 2-3 weeks, 24/7), our arguments aren’t so bad. But they are dumb. With the previous days’ sand-lugging (definition: the act of trying to drag the weight of oneself and one’s heavy backpack through thick, sinking sand) fresh in my mind, I wanted as little to do with the beach as possible. And, since we had the option of going inland or on the beach for …

The West Coast Trail: Day Two

Day Two: 62-42km (Camper Cove to Cribs Creek) By morning the sky had cleared and rain was no longer a concern. Still, our tent was damp from the night as we folded away the various parts into the tent’s pack. Nick boiled water for oatmeal and yerba mate as I changed into warm gear, thinking that the temperatures would remain cool since the first half of today’s hike would be inland. As soon as we started hiking, however, I needed to peel off rain jacket and rain pants, donning just a shirt and shorts. While I’d like to say that we were whine-free on this trip, it just wasn’t true. The backpacks felt heavier than the day before and while Nick complained of sore shoulders, I whined that my hips were bruised from the pack’s waist strap. After a few kilometers of continually stopping to figure out how to fix the issues (hint: wear a shirt around your waist for extra padding!), we settled into the meditation of the hike. After 10 kilometers of ladders, suspension bridges and …