Sunday, June 4, 2017

Issy Alps 100 miler

What is the Issy Alps 100 miler? It is a 100 mile run from Mailbox peak on the north side of I-90 going over peaks eastbound by trail and a few road section to the trails of Cougar mt. It then turns around and goes west to the parking lot of Tiger mountain trails. Web site and map here.

Thanks for George to creating this route for us to enjoy.

Why would I take on something like this? I have been running these trails for years as training runs for events I have planned. I have a event planned this fall called Moab 200. I figured this would be a good opportunity for a training run to start my training off for this event.

Here is my experance of running 51 hours and 45 min over the 100 miles of trails along the I-90 corridor. These trails will take me through 33,189 ft of elevation gain. I carried all my own gear/food needed for this adventure. I ran solo all of it except for the first ~13 mile with my friend Brian who helped shuttle me to the start while my car was left at the High point trailhead.

It is around 5am on Sat morning  and Brian and I are leaving his car for the trip up the old trail on Mailbox peak. It is nice to have someone to chat with as we work our way to the summit. The trails are in good shape and we make good time on the accent.

Here I am on the summit of Mailbox peak. 

Mt Rainier from the summit of Mailbox. It was a very clear day with amazing views.


 The photo shows Mt Si where I am headed. 

Heading down the new trail we make good time and complete this section in three hours. Now we head off to the Granite lake trail for a few miles. At the junction to the lake and going down to the road I head down and Brian heads to the lake. At the Sitka spruce trail the creek crossing are easy and dry feet for me. With the nice weather we have been having the trails are drying out and the mud is a minimum. I filtered water at one of the creek I pass by. At the CCC road it is a mostly down hill run to trailhead of Tenerife. I am gathering water at the creeks in my handheld water bottle as I need it. The old trail up Tenerife is in good shape.

Photos of Kamikaze falls. 

I encountered snow for the last 1/4 mile or so as I got to the summit.

The summit of these mountains are not solitary experiences. I will encounter this for remainder of this trip. I do not mind as I like to see people out exercising in all the beauty we live in here. That is rattlesnake lake and ridge leading right in the background.

Running down Tenerife I am in snow for a few miles. The snow is easy travel, but burning energy staying upright and getting my feet drenched. About halfway to the upper Si turn off the snow finally ends. Make ok time to the lower crossover to the Mt Si system. Once I am at the new trail to Si I make ok time up Si.

People gathering around the Mt Si area enjoying the views.

Down the old Si trail I go onward toward Little Si. Right turn and up to the summit of little Si. As I am on the Little Si trail I ask myself, why can't I be like those people that are good with this as their day's exercise of walking up this peak.

View into the valley from Little Si

There is a creek that is one half mile from the Little Si trailhead I use to filter water, have a snack and reload food for my next step over to Rattlesnake ridge. I am 14 hours in at this point for the 50k distance. The bike trail is slightly uphill to rattlesnake lake. I try to run, but common sense tells me to walk. Along the way I pass by a guy enjoying the scenery from the side of the trail.  

Nice light as the sun is working its way down the horizon. 

This is want I was waiting for. 

I work my way around the lake and onto the trail that goes up over the ridge. It is starting to get dark so I pull my headlamp out. I find it funny that people are hiking down from the ledge with their cellphones as lights to see the trail. I guess that is one good use for all the technology. 

When I get 2/3 of the way through this section I encounter a logging operation detour of the trail. It is marked ok so I get through with no problems. There are only a few trees I have to work through at the end of the detour before it is smooth sailing. I have run this section in the past a few years back and thought I had it all memorized. I thought I had my gps track on. Well things change. I turned at the first logging road to work my way over to the bike trails. With the new logging going on I needed to turn at the third logging road to get to the bike trails. I spent some time figuring this out as I searched around in the dark on different roads and trails to backtrack to my starting point. This was the only navigation error I made during the trip. 

I am at the bike trails now working my way down the hill to the power lines and road that will lead me to the Raging river. I have run this section three times and each time I seams to exit a different place and still end up at the transfer station where all the power lines meet. I get to the Raging river at 4am. It is still dark, I know I can cross here ok in the dark, but I need a little light to to find the correct path through the next creek. It is a small creek with steep sides to it. Finding the correct path will make this part a lot easier. I take a short break and wait till I have a little light to help me out. 

This light make all the difference and I have no problem working my way forward and up to the logging road that is part of the Tiger trail system. My shoes are drenched. I change socks at the road, eat and repack some food. Dry socks are so nice to put on. It makes life so much better. Off I go on my way up to East Tiger summit. 

Rattlesnake ridge where I came from.

At East Tiger summit there is a picnic table, I say to myself, five min break then leave. Well a min latter Gabe walks around the corner and I end up taking a 20 min break talking. Oh well, it is not a race and I enjoy the time chatting with him. At least I had a good snack. 

Me at East Tiger summit.

Down, down down I go through the trails of Tiger mt to the high point way parking lot. My time at the parking lot is 30 hours for the 100k distance. I see my car here and say goodbye to it for a little while longer. 

I now go up Tiger three. As you can imagine I am getting a little tired. It some point I thinking what is the best thing to do here? My answer is a nap. Well I have never seen anyone take a nap on the side of the Tiger trail, but I did for 15 min. It was great, I was refreshed and ready to go. 

Next comes Tiger two summit

Nothing exciting going on here, but me passing through. 

Onward to Tiger one summit. 

I am finally done with the Tiger summits. My next destination is the High school trailhead. This will allow me to get some running in and make a little time. As I pass by the trailhead there is a game going on. It is interesting to have this wilderness experance so close to civilization. Up and over Squawk  I go. The east side of Squawk has the most climbing on it to get up and over. On the climb up Squawk I am tired again. Ok time for another nap. I lay down and I sleep for 45 mins this time. When I was settling in on the trail to nap two hiker passed by me. They asked if I was ok, yea I answered, just tired. I make it to the Cougar trail head as it was getting dark. Time for the headlamp again. 

I traveled through the Cougar section in the dark taking one more final nap for two hours. My gps was great to have to make sure I was going the correct direction with all the twists and turns  in this trail network. I enjoy running these trails a lot more in the light. Navigating with gps and looking at the spot of light in front of me is not very exciting. I got done what I needed to do to complete this section. At the Squawk trailhead again my headlight gets stored away and I am working my way up the trail for the last time. I like running eastbound as there is more downhill  in the trail toward Tiger. I am not moving fast, but can enjoy a easy jog on the flats and downhill. 

Nice piece of trail on Squawk in the morning light. 

Now at the Tiger highschool trailhead I have a couple miles and I am done. I choose to walk the Brink trail due to all the roots and turns. It is not a smooth trail like many of the other trails around here. I get to the parking lot thinking I would love a breakfast burrito right now. My reality is other people getting ready for there hike for the day. They see me think I am finishing my hike on Tiger, I guess. This is the world of self supported trail running. You finish with the satisfaction of knowing you are done with this adventure. The only person it mattered to was you. I had a great time playing in the foothills of the cascades. We live in such an amazing place. 

Thanks for reading. 

Finish time was 51 hours and 45 min. 

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