Welcome to my blog! This is a site where you can keep up to date on my life as a full-time athlete in the sport of cross country skiing. You can expect regular updates throughout the year as I report on training, racing, life in general and maybe even some school. Sponsors, family, friends and fans: Enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monkeying around down south

Day 4 of our recent 10 day team camping trip found me exhilarated, albeit sopping wet, running barefoot along massive dunes on the Oregon coast at Pacific City, OR.  The approaching storm system that had us socked in for the past few days had finally manifested into gale-force winds, whipping up a violent surf that added salty spray to the already driving rain as I jogged along through the abrasive sand.  This different, and therefore exciting run (think kelp and dead jellyfish strewn about) was a welcome reprieve to my otherwise foul mood brought about due to what was to be a relaxing, beach-reclined surfing sojourn sadly turned into a cold and sodden misery fest.  Luckily, our three to four-ish day stint on the Oregon coast was cut short to two days.  Two days of cuddling up next to a puddle inside my tent.  We couldn't have been headed for a better location: Bend, OR.  The high desert.  And our third stop of four on CVTC's 2010 "Monkeying around down south" trip. 

Now, this doesn't near weave the tale of the adventure on our camping/training/road trip, so let's rewind to the beginning and do it proper with pictures and all. 

Our first stop of the trip was at Mount St. Helens, Washington, and one of the most spectacular runs of my life (on Ape Canyon Trail.  As you read on, you will notice an undeniable monkey/ape theme to our trip, thus explaining the title).  The scenery was so abnormal and breathtaking on and around this active volcano that it became an instant hit.  The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens decimated everything within 600 square kilometres as it's north face collapsed.  To this day, it remains the most destructive volcanic eruption in history in the United States. (Check out video of the 1980 eruption here)  

The peak of Mount St. Helens seems so near, but is in fact still thousands of feet above where we made it to.  The peak even lost 1,300 feet off the top in the 1980 eruption.  

That afternoon after our run on St. Helens, we took to spelunking the nearby Ape Cave.  What I thought would be a small cave system that perhaps a small group of capuchins could theoretically inhabit, turned into a 1.6 mile underground journey of fear and discovery. 

The dank darkness in Ape Cave was absolute, and the temperature was frigid.  Those in t-shirts invariably froze. 

At every bend in the lava tube, we were confronted with challenging obstacles.  Here, Geoffrey is squirming his way through a tight spot.  Another hindrance was an 8-foot cliff we had to scramble up and over.

Mid-way through our 1+hr odyssey through the abyss, we were tantalized by a hole in the ceiling offering fresh air and light to help reverse our gradual Gollum-esque acclimation to the dark (like googly eyes, pallor and mental insanity).

Out of the cave, and without any long-term cave dweller adaptations having taken hold, we took to the road to make for Oregon and the "beach time" that awaited.  Cannon Beach, OR is one of the quaintest little towns I know, situated directly on never-ending beach, with boutique shops and cafés that speak to a zoning requirement of "one-storey cute and shingled". 

Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City, OR.  I wasn't too choked up to leave this behind... The boys were left making do with the "food tent" for the trip after our rightful tent was somehow left behind in Whistler by certain members of the team.  

The weather upon our arrival in Bend, OR was nothing short of a miracle as we were met with bone dry heat.  Every possession was laid out to dry.  Our campsite at Tumalo State Park had phenomenal rollerskiing through the desert.  

After a few days to dry out, even Bend couldn't remain dry with the imposing weather from the coast.  

 Smith Rock State Park near Bend.  Amazing scenery and running trails.

Monkey Face in Smith Rock.  

 Back side of the hulking Monkey Face. 

Two Great Horned Owls at Tumalo State Park campground.

S'more preparation - the traditional art I have honed all my life under the tutelage of my old man's marshmallow roasting skills.  

Twin Lake Campground in Winthrop, WA.  Unfortunately, we only spent one night here and left early the next morning without getting a chance to explore the environs. 

CVTC (which I hear is being changed to CVDC - Callaghan Valley Development Cenre) 2010-2011 below Liberty Bell Mountain at Washington Pass at the conclusion of our trip. 

I am now back in Whistler for the remainder of the fall waiting for the snow to fly.  It's time to both narrow the focus and address any last minute preparation issues before important racing becomes a reality.