Posts Tagged ‘white mountains 100’

Wandering in the Whites..

Monday, March 19th, 2012

With the Whites 100 only a week away, Tom, Remus, and I decided to do a last minute overnight trip to Caribou Bluff cabin to check out the race course. I was on the snow bike, and Tom was on skis. It was a wonderful trip, with nice weather and fantastic biking. The trails were in great shape..

There was minimal traffic on the trails and I only saw two parties of snow machiners, otherwise I had the whole place to myself. There were occasional signs of other users though..

The ride in was fast and I decided to go a bit further and check out the trail heading out of Wind Gap. This was the first time I traveled this trail in this direction, and the views were pretty spectacular.

I turned around near Windy Gap Cabin and headed back to Caribou Bluff where I caught up with Tom and mellowed out. We had a nice evening of goofing off and lounging, and eventually hit the sack. I woke up around 2am to a wonderful display of the aurora, though I was not motivated enough to get up and grab the camera. In the morning we headed out. It was a slow ride for me on the way out, as the 50 mile ride the day before apparently was a bit too much for Remus the dog and he was quite sore.

So we took our time on the way out, taking photos and enjoying the nice weather.

The ride out was uneventful, though I did pass some folks from BLM picking up stuff off the side of the trail. Apparently a guided mushing group ran into some sort of trouble and had to be medivac-ed out by the Alaska State Troopers. The more details can be found here: . Fortunately no one seems to have been hurt.

The overflow this year appears to be fairly manageable, though there was one section of wet overflow that was maybe two inches deep. It was all easily ridden on the snow bike though, so long as I kept the speeds down and was careful.

If the trails are like this for the race we should see record times for the folks on bikes and on foot, and possibly the skiers too, though the snow was fairly cold and slow. Good luck to the racers this weekend!

The 2011 Whites 100

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011


“Let’s take a ride in an electric car
To the west side in an electric car
How can you deny an electric car
Won’t you take a ride with me
Come on and take a ride with me!!”
– Electric Car, They Might Be Giants

I am not sure why folks need music players on long races. I am so busy keeping the bike on a fast line, eating, thinking about the trail ahead (checkpoints, huge hills, etc), and generally “being there” that I have never had need of music to keep my mind occupied. I have now done three “ultras”, all with a music player of some sort stuffed into that mp3 player pocket jackets seem to come with these days and have never turned it on. Perhaps someday the player will be required, as I am pretty new to long races, so I will, I expect, keep taking a player along. I am not sure it will ever be required though, as after several hours have gone by music just starts to randomly play in my head, and fortunately I always seem to like the songs. During the last hours of my Whites 100 I had several They Might Be Giants songs stuck in my head from albums I have been listening to with the Twins. Somewhere between the final checkpoint and the trail shelter the “Electric Car” started playing in my head, keeping me entertained while I pushed up the Wickersham Wall and a short while later finished the 100.

The race started on a Sunday morning, so on Saturday I packed up the bike and got everything ready to go. I took a short test ride around the local trails and bumped into the eventual fourth place finisher who was on a similar quick jaunt to make sure the wheels still spun and other bike bits all still worked. Everything seemed in order, so I loaded the bike into the truck, and spent the rest of the day with the twins and Nancy. In the evening I headed to bed early, but soon found I was much too excited to actually sleep, and so I kept Nancy up with my tossing and turning.

Eventually the morning arrived and we headed out after leaving the Twins still sleeping away in their beds with a friend. We headed out of town after picking up Tom, and in a little less than a hour we arrived at the start of the race. The trailhead was full of excitement and activity, with folks unloading their bikes, skis, and sleds. Eventually everyone lined up at the start, and after a count down everyone was off. The start of the race was a bit of a mad house – lots of skiers and bikers heading up hill on a narrow trail. I ended up pushing for the first quarter mile or so before things thinned out enough that the folks were actually moving fast enough to warrant riding. The trail was very, very fast – wonderfully hard and good riding.

My goal for this race was to push my self a bit more than I normally do – the last two 100 mile races I have done I did in a pretty mellow conservative style and didn’t push to hard in order to make sure I didn’t completely collapse before the end. The end result was I finished with quite a bit of energy left and the feeling that perhaps I should have gone a bit harder, so for this race the idea was to push a bit harder and see how things go. I hoped to reach the high point of the race, the Cache Mt divide, before the afternoon when I expected things to get pretty soft and warm. Once over the divide the trail is sheltered by mountains and trees, so I expected it would remain pretty firm even durring mid day, so the riding would still be good durring the warm part of the day. Or so I hoped anyway. I reached the first checkpoint fairly quickly and past a number of skiers on the way. The skiers were really hauling, but the firm snow definitely gave bikers the edge.

After about two hours I reached the first checkpoint, where I signed in and out right away, and headed back out. Soon after the checkpoint I dropped my camera after passing a skier and that was the end of the photos. I passed several skiers and one biker before reaching the next checkpoint around noon. Checkpoint number two, Cache Mt cabin, was staffed by several happy souls, including one fellow, Bob, who had skied the race the year prior. I did a quick check in, topped off with water, grabbed a foil wrapped baked potato, and headed back out. The next 10 miles of the course are gradually uphill and eventually lead to the highest point on the race, Cache Mt divide. This section of trail always seems to take forever on skis, but zoomed by on a bike in the race. I had pretty much assumed I would be pushing up this hill, and was very, very surprised it could be almostly completely ridden. It appears from the tracks that the leading bikers rode the entire way up – alas I was a bit to wimpy for that and pushed in a couple of spots. Amazingly at least one skier skied the whole way up, and appeared to have double poled up several steep sections where the trail was narrow. Just before I reached the divide I was passed by a skier, Cory Smith, who was slowly skating up the divide. Slowly skating, but going quite a bit faster than I was pushing.. The divide was marked by a snow sculpture this year, which I assume was put up by some of the race staff. Just before the divide there is a little tiny windswept tree with a single marten set in it – when ever I pass it I always wonder what the trapper was thinking, as all the marten are safely back down the hill a mile or so back in the trees.

The ride down the divide to the ice lakes was a exciting exercise in punchy snow riding, with several crashes and lots of flailing. Just before the ice lakes started I was passed by three skiers going full bore. It would be another two hours or so before I would catch up with them again. The trail at this point was fairly soft and marginal for riding. A biker caught up with me and suggested I air down while passing me, and taking his advice let some air out. I probably should have aired down right after heading down the divide, as it made riding much easier, and before I knew it I was back in the shade of the trees and the riding sped up again. I made a brief stop at checkpoint three, Windy Gap cabin, getting more water and a bowl of meatball soup and then headed back down the trail.

I have done the section from the ice lakes to Windy Gap cabin several times before, but only in the dark, and was very, very impressed by the wonderful views. I will have to get back this way again some time in the daylight again. The next twenty miles of trail were super fast. I caught up with the three skiers who passed me and eventually got by them and on to the final checkpoint, Borealis Cabin. I checked my GPS just before I passed the final skier and was amazed to see them going a little under 15 miles an hour, on an ever so slight downhill – amazing! I ducked into Borealis, signed in, drank some Coke, had some chips, and headed out again, just in time to see two of the skiers arrive. They were making quite good time – I think they averaged almost 10 miles an hour from Windy Gap to Borealis, which is pretty darn fast. I think I have skied this in section in around 5 hours before, and they had just did it in around 2 – mind numbingly fast!

The next section of trail was a bit harder for me, as my legs were starting to feel the effort, but it was not too bad. I stopped at the Trail Shelter, an “unofficial checkpoint”, chatted a bit with the Kat the volunteer staffing it, and then headed out. I finally passed the “let more air out” biker at this point, and soon caught up and passed another biker just before the final big climb, the Wickersham Wall. She was the last racer I was to see until I finished.. The last miles of the race were a bit of a slog – it started to snow a bit and the trail got to be pretty soft, making for slow, uncertain riding. Eventually I reached the parking lot a little after 9pm and I was done. Alas, I didn’t get to hang out that much as I was in a hurry to get home and take over Twin care, but I did say hi to the racers hanging out watching folks come in. After a couple of minutes of hanging out I packed the bike up, and drove home find to the Twins snorting away and relieved Amy of her child care duties.

I was super happy with my race – I felt good the entire time, with no energy or stomache troubles of any kind. I attribute this mainly to my race mantra of “When In Doubt Drink, Eat!” If I started feeling even a little bit low energy I chugged down more water and gobbled up some food in an attempt to stave off the monsters of dehydration and bonk. This appeared to work pretty well. I could have gone a bit harder in a couple of sections, but all in all I think I did a fairly good job of pushing myself, so I was pretty happy. I got to bed at 12pm or so, and made it up in time to take the Twins to school the next morning. In the afternoon we headed back out to the start and end of the race to wait for Nancy.

Nancy was very surprised to see the whole family waiting for her. She had a great race and I think enjoyed herself immensely – go Nancy go! You can read her account here.

This race is very fun, and highly recommended! The folks running it really understand how these sort of races should be put together, and it shows. Hopefully they keep at it, as this race is sure to be a major hit in the coming years.

Only two more days…

Friday, March 25th, 2011

There are only two more days until the Whites Mountains 100.. I had a blast last year and have been looking forward to this race all winter. Good luck everyone!

Whites 100 Trail Recon

Monday, March 21st, 2011

With the White Mountains 100 a week away, Tom and I headed out to the Whites for a quick overnighter to check on the trail conditions. Last year the race was a week earlier, and the weather quite a bit colder, so I was a bit concerned about the trail conditions.. We left town at early afternoon and were on the trail at around 3pm – just in time to encounter a fair number of folks returning from weekend jaunts on snowmachines, which combined with the warm weather made for very soft trails.

The first several miles were too soft to bike, but the further we got in the firmer the trails were. Alas, there was a constant stream of snowmachine traffic which keep things fairly soft.

After a overnighter at Moose Creek cabin we left fairly early in the morning, and the trails were much, much faster. We took a less traveled side trail which is not part of the race, Moose Creek Trail, and it was pretty soft due to some heavy paddle track action..

.. but once we hit Wickersham Creek trail things got a fair bit harder and faster. From the Train Shelter (the final checkpoint) to the big climb out of the Wickersham Creek valley the riding was very good and very fast – I averaged 9 mph without a lot of effort. This was pretty good news, as it means the trails are going to be pretty good when they are not disturbed by heavy traffic.

The overnight low at Moose Creek was -5f, which is pretty good news, as it is cold enough the trails will setup up over night, but not so cold as to create problems for folks. Last year the overnight lows were around -20f, which led to some unhappiness. So the verdict is that the first mile or so will be fairly painful – soft with lots of moguls, but the rest of the trails will be pretty firm and fast until things warm up in the mid to late afternoon, at least for the bikers. From a classic skiing perspective, everything looks pretty good – the snow is not super cold so there should be reasonable glide, though the snow is pretty coarse so it will be hard on kick wax, and from a skating perspective, the trails look wonderful – wide enough to give good skating and enough snow to make the trails fairly smooth, at least for the first 25 miles and the last 10 we explored.

In other good news, the overflow appears to be pretty mellow. The section before the Trail Shelter has in the past year had fairly epic slanting ice sheets – this year its pretty mellow and entirely ridable. While there is lots more overflow to be had on the race course, the fact that this section is in good shape is a very good sign.

I have been playing with making movies lately, so here is some video from the ride:

Whites 100 Trail Recon from J C on Vimeo.

Only a couple more days to go! Time to go carbo load – go drink some beer and eat some ice cream!

More photos can be found here:

Pre Whites 100 Trail Recon

The White Mountains 100

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

After a night with less sleep than I would have liked, Tom and I drove the 40 miles or so to the Mile 28 trail head for the White Mountains NRA for the start of the White Mountains 100 . The race started at 8:00am and required a check in before 7:45, so we left town at 6:20 to make sure we had arrived with plenty of time. We ended up trailing a long line of vehicles heading out of town, and much to our surprise, most of them turn into the parking lot for the race. After I did my required checkin with the organizers, I spent some time wandering around checking out the other racers gear and spent some time talking to a couple of the skiers. There were quite a few bikers on fat bikes of one type or another – some pugleys, some fatbacks, and a couple of bikes I could not identify along with some standard bikes using Snowcat rims. The skiers were a mix of skate skiers on super short skis, skate skiers on standard skate skis, and classic skiers.

Soon the officials made the 5 minute warning and everyone headed to the starting line. I gave the bikers a lot of room and let them take spots closest to the start, as they should be the fastest, and I didn’t want to block a bunch of the fast folks with my slow skiing. The officials did a count down, and we where off. The first mile or so of the course climbs a small hill, then starts a series of rolling hills that lasts the next 30 miles. All the skiers were bunched together in the beginning which made things a bit cramped for a while, but eventually things spread out as the speeder folks pulled away and the pack spread out.

I took the first 6 miles or so pretty laid back manner, letting all the fast folks by. I was to spend the 30 miles or so passing and being passed by Rorik the runner – he was amazingly zippy climbing the hills and would pass me on the climbs, but I would blast past him on the downhills. Rorik was to zoom to the Windy Gap checkpoint, then stop – he had a flare up of a recuring foot problem and would finish the race on snowmachine.

The next 12 miles went by super fast – in around three hours I made the first checkpoint, and chugged some water and ate some quick snacks.

After the first checkpoint I ran into several dog teams. The drivers of the teams seemed very happy and didn’t seem to mind all the extra people on the trail.

Between the first and second checkpoint the trail winds though some very scenic burns and tussock fields.

It was pretty windy but warm in the tussock fields, making for pleasant travel. This section is a bit mind numbing though – it seems to go on and on and the bits of exposed grass slow the skiing a bit.

Apparent I didn’t chug quite enough water at the first checkpoint – after 10 miles or so I started feeling a bit dehydrated, and by the time I made the Cache Mt cabin checkpoint, I was not feeling all that good. After forcing down a potato and quart of water and several glasses of Coke, I left the checkpoint still feeling a bit under the weather. Up to this point I had been skiing with Tom, but he was going a bit faster than me and took off about 20 minutes before me. The next section of trail had the first real overflow but it was very passable.

The 13 miles out of the Cache Mt checkpoint are a uphill, first gradually and then not so gradually. This section of trail is pretty scenic and very beautiful. I was still dehydrated and not feeling so hot, so eventually I stopped at a stream and chugged two more quarts, and started feeling better almost right away. I walked the final section to the top with two bikers, Anchorage Julie and Fairbanks Julie.
(Photo complements of Tom)
The next section of trail was fantastic fun – its all down hill to windy gap cabin, so the skiing was fast. The trail has lots of little ups and downs which are just challenging enough to me on my toes. Super fun! The ice lakes section was not all that bad and I skied about half of it. It was very windy on this section of trail – the main reason I took off my skis on the last half of the ice lakes was that I was being blown sideways by the wind. Dan the medic was hanging out in a tent just bellow the ice lakes making sure everyone got though this section intact and I stopped to chat with him a bit. The rest of the trail to the Windy Gap checkpoint flew by and soon I was there. The checkpoint was pretty packed but I found a seat and enjoyed some rice and meatball soup, two quarts of water, and another potato complements of Andy Stern. Andy had been given an extra potato at the Cache Mt checkpoint and he had taken it with him to snack on, but alas it froze, and he left it at Windy Gap, were it was eaten by me – hurray! After dinking around the checkpoint for a hour or so, Tom and I packed up and took off down the trail. The first 5 miles or so between check point #3 and #4 is super fun, with lots of small rollers and short sections of frozen overflow. It winds though big trees, and in the daylight has wonderful views of the nearby lime stone rock formations. Alas, it was quite dark, so no nice views, but it was still quite fun. It was quite windy near windy gap, but as we got farther down the trail the wind went away and soon it was very cold. I didn’t have a thermometer on me, but the fabric on my pack starts making crinkly noises at -15f or so, and it was definitely sub crinkly temperatures judging from the noises my pack was making.

It was quite scenic though, which clear skies and wonderful views of the stars. The trail was fairly fast do to all the skier traffic, and we made good time. After we passed the junction for the fossil gap trail we saw three lights behind us way in the distance. These later turned out to be three bikers traveling in a pack, as they arrived at checkpoint #4 shortly after Tom and I did. Checkpoint #4, Borealis Cabin, was packed with lots of racers taking breaks – there was quite a few bikers and several skiers. I headed up into the loft for a quick nap, but alas it was, much, much too hot for me to sleep. After 15 minutes or so I gave up, headed back down and ate some noodles and other snacks. Eventually Tom and I pried ourselves out of the checkpoint and headed back down the trail. We were quite close now – the remaining 20 miles or so normally take 5 hours or so, but alas it would take us a bit longer. After 2 hours or so we made it to the trail shelter checkpoint.

Tom retreated inside to warm up and snack while I chugged down water and snacks outside the tent.

I hung out outside talking to the saintly folks manning the checkpoint. Some friends staying at Eleazars had asked about me, and after they got my name, greeted me with “Oh, so your Jay”, which was somewhat ominous. It turned out all was well – my friends had made a positive impression and apparently they had hung out at the trail shelter for quite a while talking and enjoying some wine they had brought. After a short break Tom and I were back on the trail and we zoomed along and were soon back at the parking lot. I quickly changed into clean and dry clothing, got out my sleeping bag, and went to sleep in one of the arctic ovens setup in the parking lot by the race staff. I probably could have slept all night, but was awoken by Ti the medic, checking on Tom and I to make sure we were still alive. Tom, who was not napping and was buzzing from some caffeine pills (Tom say’s it was a “natural” buzz and no caffeine was involved) decided he was awake enough to drive us home, so we loaded up, and an hour later I was home soaking in the tub and enjoying dinner. Hurray!

The race was super fun – I would like to thank the race staff and organizers as they made it all possible and enjoyable. I have never done anything like this before but now I am definitely hooked – it was much, much more fun than I though it would be.

As this was my first attempt at anything like this, I would do a number of things differently. I am not a total novice, as I have done lots of fairly high mileage ski trips on snow machine trails, but nothing over 50 miles in a day. I have also done a number of “accidental” several day trips with no sleep, so that was not new to me. These trips have involved getting lost or having the weather chance and having to ski for 24 hours straight, or probably the least pleasant of my mega days – getting stuck on a treeless section Afognak Island for 48 hours. These trips were not something I had set out to do from the start however, which made them quite different – the race ended up being quite an enjoyable experience.

Things I would do differently:

  • I brought too much stuff – way too much stuff! I brought a 5f sleeping bag, and a pad – these were totally unnecessary, unless I was planning on doing it in “tour” mode and wanted to sleep outside.
  • Not enough water – I only brought a quart water bottle, which was not enough for the section between checkpoint #2 and #3 – two quarts would have been much better.
  • A better water carrying system – my water bottle was in my pack and I was not all that motivated to stop, get it out, and drink, so I drank less water than I should. I got pretty dehydrated at one point, which made me much slower than I should have been. On my long training trips I brought a water bladder, but I left it home as its a bit fiddly and requires some care to make sure the hoose does not freeze or leak. I should have brought it or some other system that allowed me to drink while skiing.
  • Too much time at the checkpoints – the checkpoints were like traps – you get in but don’t get out. I spent much, much too much time hang out in them. Next time I will try to get checkpoint time down to nothing – that would make a major difference in my overall time.
  • Ski harder – I took it nice and easy as I was not all that sure about how well I could do 100 miles. This was a mistake – the day after my legs were a tad bit sore and stiff, and the following day they felt completely fine. Normally (at least for me) the second day after a super long day my legs get quite stiff and this did not happen. I have felt a lot worse after 50 mile or even 30 mile day skis. I should have skied much harder – it felt really lame finishing this race and still being able to walk normally the day after.
  • Food – I brought I lot of granola style energy bars that I had chopped up into little pieces so they could be eaten while frozen. These were quite hard to push down while dehydrated – it was like trying to eat dirt. GU style gels went down quite well though – in the future I will bring a lot more GUs. The powerbar vanilla was like magic – went down well and provided a nice energy kick.
  • Skate – I did this race in classic style. Huge sections (the first 30 miles – besides the uphills that is – and the last 30 miles) were very skate-able. I should improve my skate technique enough to get some skating in.
  • Bike? – the bikers appeared to have a blast. I have a single speed “large” tired bike that use on the local trails – I will explore using that or something similar on our back-country trails and see how it goes. I should hunt down a pair of snowcats for my “regular” mountain bike and see if those give enough flowation on our trails.

Ah, so many things to think about for next year! Nancy has dibs on next years race, but if I can get child care and make it onto the race roster than I will do it again, as it was very fun and rewarding. If I can’t make it on the roster then I might take the family to one of the cabins on the course not used by the race staff and cheer the racers on. This race was so fun I might have a new addiction – think I will definitely do the Susitna 100 next year.

Sumer is now approaching – I have at least one more ski trip lined up – a kid trip out to a cabin I skied by in the race, but soon I will have to start thinking about summer adventures. Wahoo!

I would like to give a big thanks to my wife Nancy who allowed me to disappear for long periods of time to train for the race, and didn’t complain about my race obsession and even organized an after race party for everyone and Tom who did most of the race with me – it was nice to have company for the long dark sections – Thanks! Remus the dog was a fantastic training partner – a large handful of dog treats will be given to him as thanks. And finally, I would like to thank the race staff and organizers – major kudos and thanks to those guys. The race was super fun and was only possible due to all their hard work – thanks!

More Photos – White Mountains 100

Survived the 100

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

So, I survived the White Mountains 100. I will post a full writeup shortly, but in brief – it was super fun, and I would love to do it again. The organizers and volunteers must have put in a tremendous amount of work – major kudos to those guys, as they made the race possible and fun!

My wife Nancy has dibs for next years race, assuming the forces of the universe align such that she gets a slot and they decide to run it again. If twin care can be worked out perhaps we will both do it..

Speaking of Nancy the super wife, she has taken on managing the after race party.

Race Tomorrow

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Tomorrow is the White Mountains 100 . I have never done anything like this before – it will be a great (and hopefully fun) adventure! I believe I am ready to go, but who knows – I sure am taking a lot of stuff!

Race Stuff!

I am taking a spot tracker – folks are welcome to track me via it – don’t get too excited though, I am going to take this race mellow like, and will be happy if I am not last!

The White Mountains Loop

Friday, February 19th, 2010

On a sunny and warm Sunday morning, Ms Marsh, Tom, and I set off to do a leisurely ski of the White Mountains 100 course. Our plan was to ski the first day to Crowberry Cabin, then on to Windy Gap cabin, then out. This would make for two fairly mellow days and one longish day, approximately 26 miles, 34 miles, then a 40 mile day – all very doable. I was really looking forward to the section from Cache Mountain Cabin to Windy Gap Cabin, as I have never traveled this area before and was told it was quite beautiful. The other factor is that I would probably end up doing this section in the dark and would like to have some idea about the trail before attempting to blast though it at high speed by headlamp.

The first day started quite pleasantly, with a fast trail and wonderfully sunny and warm weather.

It was a bit too hot for Remus, alas. He is really only happy in sub 0f weather.

We zoomed down the trail and eventually stopped for a bite to eat at Moose Creek cabin. We passed two snowmachiners on the trail and a solo skier, but other wise we had the trail to our selves. The trail was super smooth and fast and made for fantastic skiing.

Once past Moose Creek cabin the trail climbs up a ridge and winds though a several year old burn and offered us fantastic views.

We reached Crowberry after a little under 7 hours of skiing which included a fair bit of stopping and goofing off. This was my first trip to the new Crowberry cabin. Its a new design without a loft, but it is quite spacious and has tons of room. We had a fantasic evening reading varous magizines including a road bike racing magazine that seemed quite out of place. Tom amused us by reading excerpts from a snow machining pamphlet, which espoused the many virtues of snowmaching (creating world peace and curing cancer, for example).

After a huge dinner we hustled off to bed, eagerly awaiting the alarm summing us to a early start the next morning (some of us anyway).
The next day turned out to be equally warm and sunny, and after a breakfast of pancakes and bacon we where off. The trail out of the cabin was a continuous drop all the way to Beaver Creek. Tom added a bit more “drop” and had a tremendous crash on one of the downhills that did in one of this bindings. Tom then had the distinct pleasure of skiing the rest of the trip with one floppy loose binding.
The trail got progressively rougher as we headed to Cache Mt Cabin, with lots of exposed tussocks. These sections where fairly short though and most of the skiing was quite good.

We encountered our first bit of overflow shortly after crossing Beaver Creek. It was short and dry though, and was quite fast and fun to ski though. I was using my skinny racing style skis, and don’t get too much edging power on overflow, and so have to be careful. If only someone made stiff, narrow, metal edged (or partial metal edged) skis..

We reached Cache Mt Cabin and stopped in to read the log book and have bite to eat. Several years ago I left a book here as a joke, ‘Develop Your Psychic Abilities‘ and it was still here. Strangely, a another book I had left in the cabin as a joke, “The Instant Divorce”, was gone – go figure.
Past Cache Mt Cabin the overflow got a bit more intense, but was still quite passable.

We were now on a section of the trail that I had never skiied, and I was enjoying exploring the area. This section of trail climbs for 12 miles or so, then comes over Cache Mt Divide, and drops down to Windy Gap. The trail up into the divide offered great views and was not particularly steep until the final sections.

The divide was quite scenic and had wonderful views of the surrounding ridges.

I could have spent days exploring this area, but alas we had still had 14 miles or so to go before we reached the cabin, so we didn’t stop very long.

The trail away from the divide was fast and fun – just steep enough for some high speed skiing but not so steep as to be uncontrollable. We reached soon reached the section of trail called the “ice lakes”, where the trail disappears in small valley with wall to wall ice.

A warning to racers in the upcoming White Mountains 100 race – this section was the only section of the trail that was a bit scary for me. I skied most of it, and was out of control for a good portion of the time. The ice has a slight slant to it, and where it is slushy it is very easy to ski under control. Where the ice is hard though, it is very difficult to slow down. Twice I ended up plowing into alders at high speed when I could not slow down. I would treat this section with caution and ovoid the temptation to bomb it, unless you have skis with metal edges.

Tom and Ms Marsh put on stylish bags and yak-traks on their feet and walked this section.

After leaving the ice lakes, the most fun of trail begin (at least for me) – the trail gradually drops down to Windy Gap, winding though big trees and going over a endless series of woop-a-doos. This made for a very fun 9 miles or so of double poling. Eventually we reached Windy Gap Cabin and crashed for the night. The next morning we headed out, and started out with a long section of ice. I skied this section while Tom and Marsh walked it. The skiing was fun and super fast.

The next 10 miles of trail winded though large trees and crosses Fossil Creek numerous times. The first 5 miles or so was a fun roller coaster with lots of small rolling ups and downs which made for fun and fast skiing.

There were a couple of sections of brief overflow. These were pretty hard frozen and dry making for fun skiing. These sections could be a bit tricky during the race when I am sleep deprived.

The ridges in this area are fantastically beautiful.



This section included one of the more interesting trail finds I have encountered – there was a partially eaten wolf or long legged dog carcass on the side of the trail.

Sections of this trail had a huge number of wolf prints – it appeared a small pack of wolves had followed a creek down to the trail then followed the trail up to the windy gap area. There was a couple of bird kills marked by a large cloud of feather so it looked like the wolves were having fairly good hunting.
Eventually we broke out of the thick forest and into a old burn and soon we were past Caraboo Bluff cabin and on the hilly descent to Borealis Cabin.

Shortly after Borealis-LeFevre Cabin we ran into the BLM trail groomers on their way out to Wolf Run cabin, then to Windy Gap Cabin and out. They left the trail wonderfully smooth and fast.

It was getting a bit late, so we pushed on to the trail shelter, had dinner, and then headed out to the parking lot.

When I reached the parking lot I was greeted by a bunch of Japanese visitors waiting in the parking lot for aurora to photograph. Tom and I made it to the truck first, and waited a while for Ms Marsh to arrive. We had a number of false alarms when we thought we had seen Marsh’s head lamp, only to find it was the aurora watchers taking pictures of things with super bright flashes. Things like the trail signs, trees, the ground, and a pile of straw… there was no aurora to be seen, so perhaps they were making the best of things.

All in all it was a quite fun three days and we got to ski the entire course. Skiing the course is highly recommended for racers – there is no place where anyone with any direction sense could get lost, but there are a few sections were you have to be careful due to ice lakes, overflow, steep descents, and other tricky bits, and its good to get a feel for it before attempting it in a sleep deprived hase.