Yakima and Umtanum Creek Canyon

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It was a long day on my feet with Luke and Ben yesterday, connecting up the Yakima skyline route with Umtanum Creek Canyon via Old Durr Road, the original wagon route between Yakima and Ellensburg. 27-odd miles and about 6K’ of climbing, but slow going: we had 10 miles of unrunnable, relentless clay mud that somehow lay conjugally with water ice; cross country travel that included a steep descent to the canyon requiring veggie belays, and two miles of bushwhacking in pricker bushes while incessantly fording a frigid creek. Fun! I tried to imagine William Douglas doing similar rambles in his Yakima boyhood, and that helped, a little.

What really helped was that it was magnitudes less miserable than racing Capitol Peak 50K(+) Mega Fatass the week prior. It’s a great community event, and one of the oldest ultras in Washington, but I’m hard pressed to imagine a more unpleasant bit of running given the conditions. Torrential rain, temperatures in the mid-30s and low 40s, 15-foot mud puddles of uncertain depth. I chased an imaginary front runner unnecessarily hard for 3 hours before Max Ferguson caught up and told me I was in the lead, then ceded it to him and ground out a 2nd-place, 4:26 finish, thinking only of the end. I’m running low on base this time of year, and felt pretty thrashed as a result, but that was pretty predictable.

I’m overdue for some low-impact training, but this ominously warm winter is wreaking havoc on my seasonal rhythms. I tried to follow up the suffering with some schussing, heading out Sunday to meet my brother at a snowbound yurt up Icicle Creek, only to then watch it downpour all day on the previous night’s 15 inches of fresh snow. Better luck this weekend, I hope. I’ll just pretend it’s June.

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Mighty Mt. Stuart and the Enchantments.

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It was certainly a treat to break above the inversion and into brilliant sunlight. Less so to descend back into it a few miles later; the sensation was akin to walking into a meat locker.

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Complaints aside, any time I make it to the sagebrush sea — here at its northernmost extent — I am content.

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