"Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach." ~John Muir
I climbed 16,000 feet today, covering the North Face Trail at Alyeska EIGHT times. It kicked my ass. Endurance is one thing, but throw a TON of climbing into the 8.5 hours of movement and you have a very different beast. The trail is only 2.2 miles long and one climbs 2,000 feet over that seemingly short distance.
After a runnable section of dirt road, the trail becomes single track and steep. It wasn't until the 5th lap that I realized how steep it really was.
It "flattens" out a bit, for a short time and the trail winds through a meadowy, boggy, wet section. As the laps went on it, I looked at the 2.2 miles in sections and this section was always runnable for me, but after 6 laps, it actually became a challenge to lift my leg onto the plank.
Here began the torture chamber of the trail. Just steep, punishing climbing. Up and up and up, step after step. It was head down, don't look up. Breathing hard, panting, pain.
The views were rewarding. It was a gorgeous autumn day.
"Catch the tram, catch the tram!" Being a climbathon, your way down was by tram. The first few laps of the race had me racing for the tram. It wasn't long before I welcomed the time in between laps (10-15 minutes) for rest. Funny how the trail became longer and the tram ride shorter.
The switchbacks at the top were the best. I was so damn happy to reach them every time. It meant the grade of the trail was less and the top was within reach.
This is where I was headed, my destination to a free ride down. It became a bit of a love/ hate relationship. I was happy to get there, but soon realized that it only took me down to the bottom to start all over again.
This is the check in table where the recorded your laps on a huge poster. I was able to run the steps up to this lady every time, so happy to see her for another tally mark next to my name.
This is what happy looks like, 8 climbs done. I have a new respect for climbing. Chimera has 22,000 feet of climbing. I covered 16,000 feet today in almost 17 miles. I felt GREAT satisfaction in that accomplishment. I'm working toward 22,000 in 100 miles- the ultimate union of endurance and climbing.