– the blog –

A Case of Mistaken Wax 26 February 2018

I have many crafty friends. They can do everything from making their own clothes to building a pizza oven in their backyard. While I dabble in baking and have on occasion made my own Halloween costume, I would not consider myself endowed with an artistic or maker soul. And yet, I have spent most of my career architecting and building digital creations, so there does seem to be a hint of aptitude. It feels a bit wrong to have the capability to be a thing, be strongly interested in becoming that thing, and never striving to become it.

Given my proclivity towards outdoor pursuits and the need to modify or maintain gear, it seemed about time for me to stop being lazy and force myself to start developing the necessary skills and experience to do it myself instead of spending money to let someone else perform the work. One thing that grabbed my interest recently was waxing my own skies. We do enough backcountry and resort skiing around here that multiple waxes a season are called for to keep us gliding nicely down the slopes. Further, an older pair of climbing skins had recently left sticky bits of glue on the bottom of my backcountry skis and another trip was rapidly approaching, so last week I decided to clean my skis and give them a good waxing all by myself.

I started by cleaning the bottom of my skis with Goo Gone. The citric acid based cleaner I had was ineffective against the glue residue so something with a bit more oomph was required. The Goo Gone effectively removed the glue but it also took most of my existing base of wax with it. I rinsed them heavily in the shower and let them dry for an hour.

Now for the waxing. Tina had a friend who moved away and left her a ziplock bag containing a sanding block and two tubes of wax. Now, when I first saw these a couple months ago, Tina recalls me mentioning that they were cross country ski waxes. Oh, if only I had been so astute last week as I was two months ago.

I hunted around for that ziplock bag and plucked it out of one of our gear containers. Looking at the tubes of wax, I chose the one that seemed to have the correct temperature rating for our current mountain conditions. Amazon has a nice image of the SWIX Blue Wax I decided upon. If you're an older school cross country skier, you may already know where this is going. In a haze of Goo Gone fumes, it did not even enter my mind that it may be the wrong kind of wax for downhill skiing.

After covering my desk with paper to protect it from dripping wax, I flipped my skis over and braced them on top. I took a recently purchased cheap iron and turned it on to warm up. Even before I started melting, a niggling thought had entered my mind: "That's not very much wax for two skis." I knew it was supposed to be a thin layer of wax, so I told myself I was meant to be efficient and pushed the thought away. The wax was also quite sticky at room temperature. But, it was obviously meant for winter temperatures and not a 65 degree living room. Another thought pushed away.

I slowly pressed the wax against the iron and it melted down onto the ski. It was an exciting new experience dribbling little droplets of wax back and forth between the edges of my ski. After a foot though, I needed to pause and pull down the edge of metal that was wrapped around the tube of wax. It was a royal pain to do and I actually had to get a pair of tweezer to help pull it away. Another odd thing as it did not seem quite right that one would have to continually pull away a metal wrapper while waxing one's skis. Still, I reckoned this was yet another case of me being inexperienced. Obviously I should have pulled off the entire metal wrapper before starting.

Once I had droplets up and down the entire ski, I moved the iron back and forth to slowly remelt the drops and create a thin layer of wax across the ski’s entire surface. That part went smoothly. There was a small amount of overflow that spilled over my edges, but I knew I would simply be scraping that away after the wax cooled.

The first ski took me about 25 minutes to completely wax because of the metal peeling but the second one took less than 10 minutes since I had learned how quickly I could melt and spread the wax. Upon finishing, I put the skis in the bathroom to cool for an hour. While they cooled, I biked over to a nearby outdoor store and purchased both a scraper and nylon brush. Neither was in the bag Tina’s friend had given her, which seemed odd, but maybe her friend wanted to keep those items for himself. 

At this point I would like to point out the number of times I thought something was wrong but simply pushed the thought away and blamed it on my complete inexperience with waxing skis. Hm. Hmmmmmm.

I came back from the store and took the first ski out of the bathroom. What struck me first was that the wax was definitely still pretty tacky. Maybe it was not cool enough? Put it on the balcony for another 20 minutes. Made a cup of tea and read an article online about how to scrape and brush your skis after waxing.

Brought the ski in from outside, braced it, and tried to scrape the wax away. Huh. The wax was not really coming off the ski so much as becoming a tough, sticky residue against the scraper. I paused and looked at the wax on the bottom of my ski. Something was wrong. I tried again. The wax was solidly sticking to the ski and the scraper, not coming off at all. Something was definitely not right here.

I headed to the internet and did a few searches. What causes gooey, non-scrapeable ski wax? Was it my usage of Goo Off? Temperature? Does wax go bad? I am embarrassed to say, it took me a solid 15 minutes before I thought to look up the wax on the SWIX website. The tube I was using was not under Alpine or Alpine Touring. And then I found it. Kick wax. Holy hell.

If you do not know, Kick Wax is also know as Grip Wax and is used with waxable Cross Country Skis. It is put on the middle part of your ski underneath the binding and is there to give you the grip you need to push off and move when you push down. It is most definitely not meant for alpine skis and is the exact opposite of glide wax.

The last time I had done anything with Kick Wax was way back at Reed some 20 years ago. It is somewhat uncommon now thanks to waxless cross country skis. Nowhere on the wax tube did it indicate it was Kick Wax but I obviously had realized what it was two months ago. In my haste to try something new and get my skis waxed for a trip the next day, I never paused to consider if I was using the wrong wax. Oops.

By the way. Kick Wax is also a royal pain to remove. Exhausted by the hours of now completely useless work, I put the skis away and moped the rest of the evening away.


I ended up snowshoeing for my trip the next day, which was a really good call as we were pulling a friend’s 11 month old in a sled with fresh snow and having that maneuverability came in extremely handy.  A few days later with another ski trip planned, I stopped by the outdoor shop, purchased Glide Wax, and decided to give waxing another shot.

First, I used the iron on a low temperature to slowly heat up the Kick Wax and then wiped as much of it away as possible. I then used Goo Gone multiple times in the shower to remove the remainder. Took about an hour. Not a very fun hour either.

I set up my table with protection again and braced my skis. The Glide Wax melted thin and quickly. I had the bottom of both skis coated in a nice thin layer of wax in under 15 minutes. It was night and day compared to the first time. Given their harsh cleaning, I let the wax sit on them for the rest of the afternoon while I went out for a few hours.

That night I used my scraper and scraped off the wax. It came off in delightfully light, creamy shavings. Ahhhh, this was how it was supposed to go! You cannot scrape off too much apparently, so I gave it a number of goes. Next, I used my nylon brush and cleaned off more wax before polishing it with some felt.  By the end the bottom of my skis had a clean, polished look that felt right. The truth would come the next day.

Downhill skiing on Saturday at Mt. Hood Meadows was epic as they were in the midst of a storm that would bring in more than two feet of fresh powder. And the skis worked great. I could tell they were just a bit cleaner and slippier than before.

So, yeah, lessons learned, experience accumulated, merit badge unlocked. It was a bit exhausting to fail so completely and then have to fix my mistake and start over, but it got done and I am richer for the experience. Still feel a boneheaded, but therein lies the truth of learning: you’re usually slightly foolish at the start.

Open Letter to Americans 18 February 2018

Look, I try not to be an ass. Here’s the thing though. Most of you assholes are not trying hard enough to make the world a better place. I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!  But, you know, calmly and quietly. That’s why I am writing this on a blog that maybe a total of five people read.

We have a bunch of problems. Climate Change is fucking real and we should have started addressing it in the 90s. There is an incompetent, egotistical, racist in the White House who has appointed similar cretins to his cabinet. The GOP is so morally bankrupt that universal healthcare is tyranny and dead schoolchildren are the price of freedom; where people living in tents and dying from third world illnesses is less important than corporate tax cuts. As a society we are in a shit ton of debt–a mind boggling amount of debt. $1.48 trillion in student loan debt that is a yoke around an entire two generations and a nation that is over $20 trillion in debt itself.

Those are just the big bullet points that first come to mind. So many other things need to be addressed. We are in real danger of slipping both out of democracy and out of first-world status. And yet, we have such arrogance that we are the ONLY source of truth, justice, and greatness in the world. I am trying to think of an apt metaphor, but in simple turns we need to grow up and deal with our problems.

I keep on racking my mind trying to find out what more I can do, personally. I vote in every election. I contact my Representatives. I try to be informed and inform others. I donate over $300/month to nonprofits and give a number of single-time large donations throughout the year as well. I am TRYING.

The fact remains that without removing the bad actors who maintain power and influence through money and deceit, these problems are not going to be addressed. The NRA needs to go. Money as speech and the power of corporations in politics needs to be limited. And the only way that will happen is by improving our representation. The GOP quite simply needs to go. The entire party should be thrown out of office and representatives that value immigrants, science, and improving the lives of every citizen needed to be voted in.

The Midterm Elections are key. Vote. Convince everyone you know to become informed and vote too. This is a battle for the very soul of our government. If they will not serve us, the people, then they are NO representatives of ours. I also strongly advocate for donating every single dollar you can to nonprofits you believe in. Choose your cause and help them fight tooth and nail for it.

The Continuing Climbing Saga 21 January 2018

At the end of November, The Circuit had a Black Friday sale where annual memberships were 20% off. Given I had been going consistently 2-3 times a week since early September, a membership seemed inevitable and an annual membership was going to save me about a $1000 a year. So, I took the plunge, bought a membership, and have committed to making climbing a serious pursuit in 2018.

I have always been a dabbler in climbing. When I first tried it back in Ohio in 1997, it was a single wall within an outdoor store a 20 minute drive away. Reed College gave me a couple chances to visit the Portland Rock Gym and a single outing to Smith Rock, but lacking a car and funds for gear really kept me from doing anything more. During the fifteen years post-Reed, I only climbed a total of three days outside and a handful of visits to PRG. It was not until I attended Portland State, where they had an easily accessible climbing wall in the gym, did I do any manner of regular practice. Then the knee injury happened and I did not touch another hold for six years.

Primarily, it was priorities. Soccer and running completely absorbed my attention for the better part of my 20s. And then I tried mountaineering in my late-20s and found another activity where my natural ability to push myself for hours on end worked wonders. Skiing and rock climbing always seemed like fun when I did them, but neither clicked as a passion until recently. Wish I had clicked into them 10 years ago when my joints were in better shape but oh well.

But I am putting in the effort now. Last Thursday at the gym, I was working on the latter half a v6 and a friend pointed out that the move I was attempting would not have been possible over a month ago. I simply would not have had the finger strength or technique. That was the same session where I did my first v4 on-sight. And to top it off, I have now completed seven v5s. According to the Portland Boulder Rally website, this categorizes me as an intermediate climber. Woot!

There are certain kinds of boulder problems that consistently give me trouble; mostly because of my low finger strength to body weight ratio. Or in other words, I am pretty darn heavy for how strong my fingers are. Crimping is not my favorite thing and the term “climber fat” has been thrown about on more than one occasion.

On the flip side, there are certain problems and holds that come more naturally to me. Being tall and having a decent amount of upper body strength does come in handy. More than a few climbs have been sent thanks to dogged, muscly determinedness.

And then last weekend, during the annual friend trip to Sunriver, we spent both Saturday and Sunday climbing at Smith Rock. The first day was sunny and warm enough to belay in t-shirt, while the second day was foggy and chilly to the point where we had hand warmers in our chalk bags to keep our fingers from completely losing sensation. Pulled off a 5.8, two 5.9s, 5.10a, 5.10b, and a 5.10c. The latter was NOT pretty and by the end my hands were trembling from exhaustion, but it gave me an inkling of what I could achieve with more hard work.

So, yeah, with the annual membership to the Circuit and enough friends interested in continuing to climb both indoors and outdoors, I am considering working this year on becoming a stronger climber and increasing my skills. Sure would be nice to pull off a number of v7s in the gym while also doing mixed alpine climbs in the Cascades. I am going to make a joke here, and I hope you will excuse the pun, but I have high hopes.

Adulting So Damn Hard 10 January 2018

A combination of factors towards the end of last year convinced me that it was time to take care of a few matters that I had long neglected or simply put off because I felt it was not quite time to focus on them. First, after starting a new and extremely well paying remote job in September, I was able to quickly pay off my debt from my 5 month work-free sabbatical and within a couple months I had a sizable chunk of savings in my bank account. Then, in early November, my 20 year old Subaru developed an odd noise that led me to discovering it needed over $3K of work done in order to keep in drivable for the foreseeable future. And finally, on a whim I decided to sign up for and bring all of my financial data into one location so I could get an overview of both my assets and debt.

That last one triggered a whole slew of thinking about my financial future and goals. Compared to where I was when I turned 29, my rapidly approaching 39th birthday had my savings and investments taking a pretty significant step backwards. Given my incredible earning potential and generally practical nature, it is a bit embarrassing to see how poorly I have planned financially for the future.

Most of that step backward is because I worked part-time for many years after EllisLab, took a couple pricey courses for things like mountaineering and Wilderness EMT, went back to school, had the knee injury, hiked the PCT for five months, and also a few summer sabbaticals sprinkled in. Skipping income for learning and adventures is fun but terrible for the savings. Known, expected, and accepted…still a bit cringe worthy when you see how it has drained most of your assets though.

Anyhow. put everything into one single place and I was able to see it clearly all on one page. And damn if it did not make me think I need to stop fooling around and start putting money away again.

So. In December I opened my very first Roth IRA and maxed out my 2017 contribution. I sold my old car and spent a month figuring out the best option for replacing it. I researched the various options for an outdoorsy car (new/old, MPG, AWD, trunk size, etc.) and finally decided on a 2018 Subaru Outback. After a couple days of shopping around and having dealers around Portland compete for my business, I purchased it for an amazing price and with a 0% interest loan. So far, I really really like it.

I have also decided that a really large trip like Denali is not in the cards for 2018. While it still calls to me, the company I am contracting with wants me to stick around and they allow me immense flexibility with my work schedule. This means the ability to take off skiing during the week and also doing billable work on nights + weekends. And, by giving them a reasonable bit of notice, I can take multiple 5-10 day trips throughout the year. Seems like a nice balance that will allow me to still make money, keep doing trips than will not fit into a long weekend, and stay employed. 

A rough plan for this year is to pick up and expand existing outdoors skills while rebuilding up my finances. For example, this weekend is four days in Central Oregon and two weekends from now is an AIARE Level 1 course on Mt. Hood. On the financial front, filling up the Roth IRA for 2018 is an easy win and then making a few additional investments in funds that meet certain environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. I already have a list! 2018 might also be the year that I pay off the last of my student loans from Portland State as–despite their small payments–the interest rates are too high. And as a stretch goal, and greatly depending on how the midterms go, starting a fund for a down deposit on a bit of property. It is well beyond time to have a home base in a lovely location.

Technical Skills vs Will Power 12 November 2017

It really gnaws at me when I cannot get a bouldering problem well within my abilities. Unlike running, biking, thru-hiking, backcountry skiing, and a significant amount of mountaineering there is no way to will myself through a blocker in climbing. Digging deep only gets you so far. You need the skills, the technique, the core strength, and the ability to move your body in precisely the right way to get up the wall. And you only get so many shots at a problem before a necessary part of your anatomy (muscles, tendons, skin) is worn out or used up; forcing you to walk away.

Having focused so long on activities where endurance and willpower are key to succeeding, it is quite frustrating to simply be incapable of pushing through a problem. Probably good for me to have an activity where slow, incremental development of technique and strength is the key to improving. Still. I almost punched the wall after the 20th time of not being able to get past a certain point on a v4 today.

Shit, Am I a Climber? 9 November 2017

Last night while bouldering at the Circuit, I banged out two new v4s. The previous session I did the same thing and redid my third v5 with a cleaner start.

I started bouldering on a regular basis at the beginning of September when my pulled calf muscle made it likely that I was not going to run my 100 mile ultra. In just over two months I have gone up two grades in the gym. There are still v3s that rebuff me but I am starting to find v4s consistently within my abilities. And now there are v5s that are doable. Last night I started a v6 and got four moves in before I dropped off.

As I sit here typing, the tips of my fingers are a bit sensitive and I can feel the soreness in my forearms. A sign of a challenging two hour climbing session the night before. What's different is that opposed to even a couple weeks ago, I think it was worth it for what I achieved. Look! I'm no longer a completely rubbish climber! Woo!

Progression of Things 4 November 2017

Oh, I was a foolish man when I thought the Kilvin CMS beta would happen if I started working again. The contractor in Boulder has been keeping me busy and I have been incredibly focused on completing tasks, getting paid, and enjoying having a positive cash flow for the first time since March. Credit card is paid off, savings have been bolstered, estimated taxes sent to the Federal government, and a few delayed purchases (new bike helmet) have finally been made. Next steps involve increasing savings and putting money into a retirement account. They have asked me to stick around until February, so that gives me a good timeline for saving and also preparing for whatever adventures may come next year.

With the ultras out of the way, for better or for worse, my schedule opened up for focusing on other physical pursuits. So, in early September I joined Tina with regular trips to the NE Circuit Bouldering Gym a couple mornings a week and on Sunday. She was training for the Portland Boulder Rally and it was becoming slightly embarrassing how poor of a climber I was compared to everyone else.

She crushed at the Rally and over the past two months the regular gym sessions and two trips to Leavenworth, Washington have helped me become less embarrassed by my climbing prowess. A few more months of work and I might rate myself a solid "Not a Total Embarrassment."

Ski season is quickly approaching, so I am planning on doing a couple workouts a week prepping my legs and core for the hard work of skinning up mountains and skiing down all day long. The skis are already at the Mountain Shop getting sharpened and wax. With snow at Timberline, there is a faint hope that we may get to ski a bit Thanksgiving weekend. Snow, mountains, zoom! Yesssssssss! I would really like to get to the point where I am comfortable with all blacks and skiing challenging out-of-bound routes–including those that start from mountain tops. One must have goals.

Speaking of goals, I really want to do another grand adventure next year. Something worthy of the word Epic. Not sure what yet, but I have a few ideas. Many of them involve becoming more proficient with ropes and climbing, so that's on the to do list as well. Money is required too.  So, I do believe that is my plan for the winter. Save money, improve technical skills, and have fun.

Inching Closer to an Alpha 5 September 2017

Back in May, on a whim, I took an old CMS that I had worked on years ago and start playing around with its innards trying to make it work on a more modern foundation. The only goal was to help myself get back to a place where I enjoyed development. Play is important.

After two months, this CMS was completely rebuilt on top of the Laravel framework with a new underlying architecture, new template parser, updated database structure, and a new control panel design. Essentially, I took what was there and tore it down to studs before putting it on a new foundation so I could build it back up again.

Here we are at the end of September and I have continued adding and refining the application to get closer to the core of what I want a CMS to have. It's not complete yet, as I still have to work on how custom field types are added via Plugins and how file uploads will be handled. Two major aspects of a modern CMS to be sure, so they are on my list of required features for a minimum viable product. 

However, it has reached the point where I have started sharing it with a few developers for them to peruse at their leisure. Nothing formal or structured, more of a "hey, look what I built". Along those lines, I have also built a quick and dirty demo server so those who are curious–but too busy to install a new web application–could have a gander as well. 

The code is located on GitHub at artificery/kilvin and I have already added it to Packagist as well. The website is simply the GitHub Repo's readme file, so it is rather basic right now. Once I am satisfied with how field types are implemented, I intend to begin work on the documentation.

For those interested in third party development, I suggest looking in ./cms/plugins/Groot/ to see an example plugin I have been building during my development. There is also an examples Twig template that shows the initial templating tags, which can be viewed live on the demo server.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough how this application is barely in the alpha testing phase of development. My task list is still a page long with more than a little code left to write. Also, automated testing is not yet in place, which is an important aspect of any serious open source project.

Still, it's getting there. It's been about 275 hours of work so far with at least another 30-50 to get it to a beta status. Even with a new, full-time contract job starting tomorrow, I am hoping that beta will happen sometime in October. Will keep you posted!

The Light of Other Days 30 August 2017

Here we are 3.5 weeks until the Mountain Lakes 100 and I am about 50% sure that I am not going to do it.

The ankle took longer to rehabilitate than I would have liked but after two weeks of steady progress in the gym and on walks, I went for an hour long run in Forest Park and it handled it like a champ. In fact, I felt so well rested after two weeks without a serious run that climbing up hills felt downright easy.

On Monday we headed to Molalla, Oregon to view the eclipse. Traffic was so light that we decided to drive most of the way and only biked the last 8 miles or so. It was a magnificent experience and now I hunger to see another one. We only got a little over a minute of totality and it was over too quickly. I want more.

On Tuesday I planned a 1.5 hour run from my usual spot where Wildwood Trail connects with NW 53rd Drive. The ankle was still feeling good and I decided that the first 2 miles would have me at a moderately fast pace and then I would do a pace below my aerobic threshold for the rest. Right before my 2 miles were over I got a painful cramp in my left calf. I slowed my pace and tried to work it out. It never went away entirely but at my turn around spot it was more of a dull ache than painful. However, less than a mile from the trailhead, I tripped on a root and my left foot instinctually slammed down to prevent me from falling down a hill. Instantly felt a sharp pain on the side of my calf. I believe I actually yelped.

Back at the trailhead I discovered my car's first aid kit was sadly devoid of ibuprofen, but thankfully the pain was less debilitating and more in the "shit shit shit" spectrum. After I relaxed, hydrated, and did gentle stretching for 20 minutes I drove home, all the while flexing my ankle regularly to prevent it from stiffening up. At home, I gently prodded the muscle and discovered that right along the inner calf a three inch section of the muscle was painful and very tender to the touch. Given its location, I am pretty sure it was a tear of the soleus muscle.

Here we are a week later and despite careful physical therapy, massage, and exercise, today's test on a nearby track had me only completing about 3.5 miles in total. Less than a month ago I did 35 miles in a single day and 76 miles in a week. Not only that, I have now lost three weeks of meaningful training because of two injuries.

Not saying it is impossible but with the muscle healing so slowly and the inevitable loss of a month of training, I am not sure my body will be prepared to run a hundred miles in three and a half weeks. Will continue working on it with a glimmer of hope, but I suspect I will make a decision at the end of this weekend.


Hard not to be upset about this. Months of excellent, steady, deliberate training undone by one shitty month. Of course, at this point there is a bit of concern that the race might be canceled by one of the many wildfires currently burning in Central Oregon; one of which is a scant 12 miles away from the starting line.

On the upside, I did get into really excellent cardiovascular shape. My climb up Mt. Adams last month felt easy. I am used to it being a bit of a struggle but this last time it felt more akin to a long, moderate hike. Also learned more about preparing for longer runs and what I need to finish and finish strong. Not bad things to take away from all this hardwork.

Still. Grrrr. The first time in my life I have seriously trained for long distance running and also signed up for organized races, only to be thwarted by fire and injury. Makes a man want to shake his fist at the sky.

The Best Laid Plans 14 August 2017

The training week of July 31st to August 6th went a little nutty towards the end.  According to Weather Underground, Portland's temperatures for that week had our average being 96°F, with our high being 105°F and the thermometer never sinking below 88°F.  In short, it was pretty darn warm outside, even at 6am in the morning and especially for a 15 mile run.

That's not the whole story. Thanks to forest fires to the north, south, and east, our air quality dipped down into the "Unhealthy" range according to the Oregon DEQ. It was so bad that one could barely see Portland's downtown from our apartment, let alone Forest Park beyond, where I usually do my trail runs. My Thursday morning run had me cutting it short by a couple miles as I could feel my cardiovascular suffering in the warm temps and poor air quality.

Our group camping trip for the weekend got canceled since no one was energetic about spending the weekend outside in conditions all too similar to what Portland was experiencing. With that in mind, I decided to forgo my Friday morning run to protect my lungs and instead do a longer run on Sunday. The hope being that the air quality and temps would improve enough for me to do the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. A challenging 40 mile and 10K+ of elevation gain run that ranges between 5500' and 7200' in elevation. By doing the Timberline Trail run on Sunday, I could have one last big run and still have a full two weeks to taper before the NUT 100K.

Tina and I headed up to Mt. Hood on Saturday afternoon and the air quality did seem improved. You could actually see the mountain from Portland, though it was still quite hazy. The weather report indicated the temperatures at Timberline Lodge would be in the mid-70s the next day but that the air quality would go slightly down again. That night we camped at Alpine Camp, which is a primitive campground just down the road from Timberline Lodge. The temperature never dipped below 60 degrees and despite a Benadryl, I slept poorly and woke up feeling dehydrated.

With a quick meal of breakfast bars, fresh fruit, and water, we drove up to Timberline Lodge and around 6:45am I started running counter-clockwise around Mt. Hood. On my person, I had a backpack with two small running water bottles, drink mix and food for the entire day, a tiny first aid kit, sunscreen, headlamp, my phone, a spare pair of socks, and body glide. The pack was heavier than one would wish for running, but after running out of food last year and how few people I saw the previous year, I may have overpacked a bit for safety.

The day was warm from the beginning. Last year, I ran Timberline Trail in early October and wore a long sleeve the entire day and had to put on my rain jacket a couple times because of chilly winds and occasional drizzle. This time, I started in my lightweight wool running shirt and it was too much. Even running downhill towards White River at a gentle pace, I broke a light sweat.

Despite this, the first 10 miles went fast and smooth. Took me a few short back and forths to find a safe crossing for White River and the trail through Mount Hood Meadows was a bit narrow and overgrown in parts, but as this was a training run I took it at a moderate pace. By the time I got to the Gnarly Ridge Trail junction, I had caught up to a couple that had left 20 minutes before me and made the decision to take a five minute break to empty my shoes. The ground was dry and each step was kicking up a decent amount of volcanic dust, so I wanted to avoid any potential foot problems from sweaty, dusty socks.

The climb up Gnarly Ridge was spent mostly walking. It is not steep, just almost continually up and with nearly 30 miles to go you want to conserve your energy. The air was noticeably dry and looking up at the mountain was like looking through a brown, partially transparent curtain. The smoke had returned overnight and the normal panoramic views to the east were nowhere to be found. Despite this, you could still feel the sun glaring down on you. At the top of Gnarly Ridge I had already finished nearly both of my bottles from their last top up a few miles beforehand. I kept a lookout for the usual snowmelt streams but despite hearing a bit of trickling, they were all still buried under snow fields.

This is where I think I started losing the hydration game. I had not been able to find my 1L Platy bladder at home the day before and left without it with the faint hope it might be somewhere in the car. Alas, it was not and I left Timberline without a backup water source that I could have filled up to get me through this section with plenty of water. Oops.

Eventually I found a clear, cold snowmelt stream about a mile before the Cooper Spur Trail. It was delicious. I quickly swallowed about 600ml of water while eating some solid food. Refilled both of my bottles and added in hydration mix. Also doused my head with water as it was quite warm even at that elevation.

Ran down to Cloud Cap Saddle and all the way down to the Eliot Creek crossing via the new trail built last year–Thank you, Forest Service!  The trail was in better condition than I expected. Only the short bit right along the creek seems to have suffered from the winter melt. The climb back up from Eliot Creek was still tiring but I felt significantly better than I did the year previous.

A couple miles later I stopped again to empty out my shoes again (so dusty), refill water bottles and myself, and douse my head repeatedly in cool water. It was getting pretty warm out and the ground just seemed to amplify it. Through the next part, I ran into four other people running around the trail clockwise. Chatted a bit and continued on. Reaching Elk Cove, I stopped for more water and dousing, and then I immediately met a group of people running the Timberline Trail together. They looked rather stronger and cooler than I felt in the midday heat. Their backpacks looked pretty lightweight too. Surprisingly so. I was late for meeting Tina at the top of the Vista Ridge Trail, but I would have been curious to know how much and what fuel they were using for their run.

Made it to Vista Ridge Trail junction and promptly plopped down to the ground, took off my shoes and socks, and dunked my feet in a nearby stream. Ate food, drank water, and doused my head a few times. Felt warm, but did not suspect any dehydration and no part of my body felt problematic. And while my pace was not extraordinary, it was getting the job done, especially for a training run on such a warm day.

I did my best velociraptor impression for the camera and then started jogging towards Ramona Falls, 10 miles away. After the Vista Ridge break, I had a hard time getting my body running again. It was like my internal motor was resisting me and refused to rev high enough. Thinking it was the heat, I stopped at nearly every stream and doused my head and drank water.

A couple miles down from McNeil Point is where I rolled my ankle. If you have ever been on this section, it is where there are countless tree roots in the trail for a half mile or so. To the point that even though it is mostly downhill, I repeatedly would walk for a dozen feet whenever it became too uneven for reliable footing. Alas, during one of these slow downs, I still stepped wrong and my ankle rolled.

This was about 25 miles into my run and still 5 miles from Ramona Falls. With no alternative, I tightened my ankle brace, gritted my teeth, and kept on going. Unfortunately, this was the tipping point. On the run down to the Muddy Fork crossing, I started feeling woozy. Not fall over worthy, just not feeling solid on my feet. I kept on pouring cool water over my head whenever I could, but it just barely kept me going. Once across the Muddy Fork, I hit a humid wall of overgrown trail that sapped my strength to the point that I started walking.

Tina was planning on meeting me near Ramona Falls to see how I was doing before I did the last section of trail back up to Timberline Lodge. Eventually I got running again, refilled at Ramona Falls, and met her where the trail heads down to the Sandy River. I sat down and told her I was done. With a painful rolled ankle and what felt like a decent case of heat exhaustion, it was not worth forcing myself to finish the last 8.5 miles.

The 3 mile walk out was slow and I beat myself up mentally about quitting, but it was the right decision. In Welches, we stopped at a coffee shop and got cool, delightfully fruity smoothies as I was craving something cool and sweet. I also ate a banana and drank a decent amount of water during the rest of our drive back to Portland.

Here's the crazy thing. Saturday morning I weighed myself and was 188 pounds. When I got home on Sunday night, I weighed myself again and was shocked: 179.6 pounds. If you consider the smoothie, banana, and water I consumed on the way home, I probably was 10 pounds under my starting weight by the time I reached Ramona Falls. More than 5% of my body weight lost during my long run.

So, I took a couple days off to recover and started rehabilitating my ankle. The weight mostly came back but the ankle has been more problematic. Even with rest and taking it easy physically, today's light workout on the treadmill made it mildly stiff and sore. With the NUT 100K being this Saturday, I was becoming seriously concerned it might not hold up to 60 miles of running.

After showering, I checked my email and...lo and behold...the NUT 100K is canceled.

Huh. Well. Shit.