Saturday, June 18, 2011

Photos, Book Reviews

More photos from my roadtrip are available here.

I tried (and failed) to read several books lately.
Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson. Repetitive and uninformative.
The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman. Alarmist and disjoint.
Audio: The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. Boring story plus over-the-top reading make this unlistenable.
Audio: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. This book is Forrest Gump for sappy leftists. Don't get me wrong, I love Barbara Kingsolver (and Jane Austen) as much as any self-respecting straight man can, and I'm definitely a leftist, but this book is a huge disappointment. I'll probably actually finish it, but doing so will be quite burdensome.

It's Official

On both counts. I have accepted a position with Innovations for Poverty Action as a postdoc working on a water, sanitation, and hygiene project in Kenya for two years. I leave July 13. Read this Nick Kristof article if you're curious about the type of work. Everything is also cleared up regarding my dissertation, which has cleared all paperwork hurdles. As soon as I get back to Berkeley I can go pick up my lollipop from Grad Division.

San Diego 100

M, Nano, Me, Gazelle

After Slab City we went to the Mount Laguna/Cleveland National Forest area, and I ran the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run. I was hoping to break 24 hours. I did set a PR by a few minutes, but it took me 26:32. I ran the first half of the race quite well, having been well-prepared by my recent races and my desert hiking, all excellent heat training. I ran the first 50 miles in 10:28, and I was going back and forth with women's Wasatch course record holder Betsy Nye. But I wasn't eating enough and I proceeded to completely bonk. If I was ever going to do well in a race, it was this one. Nano was there running his first 100 and we ran together as much as possible, Gazelle paced me from mile 80 to the finish, and Tatu Joe caught up to me at about mile 84, so I was surrounded by friends, but there is no other way to say it--I f--king hate running overnight. During every 100-miler I have repeatedly had the thought: "I love running 50-miles. You can go home and sleep." Usually as soon as the race is over I start thinking about it more fondly, but this time, I might be ready to call it good on 100's for a few years and stick to 50's and 100K's. I have been accepted into Wasatch this year, but I'll be in Kenya in September, and although my boss will give me the time off, I'd have to buy my own ticket, and I doubt the race is worth the $1700 it would cost. I find all this hugely disappointing. I want to love the pain, but I really just hate it. Am I just weak, or did I not train enough? Obviously I didn't put in very high-mileage weeks, but I believe in training specificity, and I'm not sure I'm interested in training for running overnight by going and running overnight. Lame.

That said, mad props to Nano for completing his first 100-miler, and thanks to awesome crew M&M, Gazelle, Tatu Joe, and everybody else for the pacing and encouragement. The San Diego 100 was a high-quality event. The aid station crews were excellent and the social aspect of the race was one of the best I've ever encountered.

Slab City

I went to Vegas and traded in AL for Gz at the airport. We visited Red Rocks and Mojave briefly, had dinner with NITRO in Indio, and then camped in Slab City. I figured since I didn't make it to the Magic Bus this year I might as well visit the slabs. We didn't talk to anybody there since we got in late and left early, but we did pick up a hitch-hiker on his way to the town right next to them (Niland), and he had tons of stories to tell us about them, so that hit the spot. We also stopped by the shore of the Salton Sea and saw evidence of a recent fish kill. All I could think of the whole time in Imperial County was Obi-Wan's description of Mos Eisley.


Bear Trap Falls

Trying to get to Kolob (Arch) is not worth your time.

Just go running in Hop Valley instead. The pictures don't do it justice.

After GS-E we went to Zion NP. I kind of got the feeling that there aren't that many hikes to do in Zion. Just the Narrows, the Subway, the 48-mile trans-Zion route, and piddly tourist stuff in Zion Canyon itself (Angel's Landing included). I've already done number four on that list, number one was closed, and I forgot about number two, so we did the western-most part of the trans-Zion route. The western-most miles starting from Lee Pass on La Verkin Creek are pure garbage miles, but once you get to Hop Valley it is quite impressive. It reminded me of the Wind River Range, except if all the rocks were red. I also added an out and back up a river that had lots of crossings and I stumbled across a short falls on Bear Trap Creek.

Grand Staircase-Escalante

Stay to the Left

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Overlooking Death Hollow on the Mail Route

Buckskin Gulch

My friend AL happened to be nearby, bored, and a fan of desert hiking, so after Bryce I picked her up and we went to Grand Staircase-Escalante. We hiked in Red Canyon in Dixie NF outside Bryce, then to lower Calf Creek Falls, part of the Boulder-Escalante Mail Route, and Buckskin Gulch. The last two of those are highly recommended (and very easy to get to, even with a low-clearance vehicle). GS-E definitely deserves several return trips.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Point

Sunset Point

The Hat Store

Under the Rim

Some Guy Taking a Picture

I've been wanting to run the Under-the-Rim trail at Bryce Canyon for a while. So I did it. It's a nice 23 miles. The best views in Bryce are, however, from the touristy overlooks in the northern part of the park.

Grand Canyon

Little Colorado (Radium Blue) & Colorado (Green)

Camp at Palisades Creek

I got a permit for 8 nights in the Grand Canyon, but for whatever reason I wasn't really feeling it. The Tonto trail seems a little boring, especially if it's crazy hot and you don't bring a good book to read. Harvey Butchart's Grand Canyon Treks is not a good book to read. I went down the Tanner trail, east to the Little Colorado on the Beamer trail, then back further west on the Escalante route and the Tonto trail, and up South Kaibab in 4 nights. Then I drove around to the North Rim.

NPS has excellent trail descriptions here.

Death Valley


The Racetrack

Corridor Canyon

Corridor Canyon

I drove over Walker Pass and through Ridgecrest and Trona to Death Valley and hiked around the Racetrack, then down Corridor Canyon. Hiking Death Valley by Michel Digonnet is one of only a few hiking guide books that I actually recommend.

Monday, June 13, 2011


My roadtrip is complete. I was going to do this, but instead I did this. (Cool google maps.)

Walker Pass, Death Valley, South Rim Grand Canyon, North Rim Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Zion, friend's house in Vegas, Red Rocks, Mojave, Slab City, Salton Sea, San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run, parent's house in Oceanside, home. Backpacking, trail running, cool hitch-hikers, and lame books-on-tape. I'll report on each of the parts of the adventure in order in future posts.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Ran through Hop Valley in Zion. So pretty I wanted to teach a bunch of kids how to sing,make them clothes out of drapes,and help them and their dad escape Nazis

Monday, June 06, 2011

Except for the Mark Rich pardon thing I am loving Clinton's last weeks in office-Grand Staircase- calf creek, boulder mail route, buckskin gulch. Zion tomorrow

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Nice run on north rim g c yesterday. Under the rim trail at bryce today.

Friday, June 03, 2011


As planned (sort of) I'm on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon right now. But I don't think I'm headed back down. I just wasn't feeling it. If I'm on trail I'd rather be running, and if I have a full backpack, I'd rather be doing x-country stuff, but I don't really know much about the canyon or routes to do much of that. The heat wasn't exactly fun, but it wasn't unbearable, it was just that the book I brought (Harvey Butchart's Grand Canyon Treks) is really lame. (I've only ever met three guidebooks I didn't hate.) I'd be fine with waiting out the heat of the day for hours in the shade of a big rock, but only if I had more to entertain myself than just picking my nose (which I do a lot of in this dry heat.) Did I mention that the Tonto trail (the main East-West route) is super monotonous? Prickly pears, I get it already!

OK, that's enough. I think I'm going to hitch back to my car, drive around to the North Rim, then up to Bryce and maybe run the Under the Rim trail there. We'll see.