Yearly Focus

Thoughts Before My 150+ Mile SUP & Trail Run Adventure

This week I’m departing on my longest challenge yet. Longer than the 140.6 Ironman (11 hours), longer than the 152 mile RAMROD (13 hours), and longer than the 98 mile Wonderland (48 hours). This will be a grueling, multi-sport test of my skills and endurance. But also, it will be a relaxing 150+ mile frolic through the backcountry.

I’ve come a long way in the last year since my first ultramarathon – a self supported 98 mile run around Mt. Rainier. I was reading back on my pre-adventure post from last year and reflecting on how nervous I was about a lot of things that didn’t end up being that big of a deal, and how not-nervous I was about a few that did.

Unlike last year where I had a specific route I wanted to finish, this year I’m just going to go have some fun in the wilderness. I’ve plotted out a few trails that look amazing, but that there is no way a person could link together on a single push. Then I’m going to link them all together in a single push using my stand up paddle board to connect waterside trailheads.

I don’t really know what to call this.

Backpacking is a thing you do when you hike slowly with a campsite packed on your back and explore the backcountry.

Running is a thing you do when you’re going faster and planning to return to your car before too many meals have passed.

Fastpacking is the word folks use to describe the hybrid run/hike approach to multi-day pushes at a decent pace.

But when you throw in a paddle board, you you enter a territory I haven’t heard of.

Some people pointed me at packrafting, which is backpacking with an inflatable raft to go across water, but most of that seems focused around short crossings or going downriver.

Then there is portaging, a water exploration that requires on-land crossings to connect bodies of water. I’ll be doing some of that.

But I’m also just exploring. Collecting new views, peaks, lakes and waterfalls in my memory book (and on my GoPro).

In some ways this feels closer to the winter I spent wandering around Europe with a Eurorail pass and no agenda but to experience it. Much like that trip, I have a lot of things in mind, and I plan to mostly wing it. That trip of course ended up with a few surprises, as things always seem to when I’m involved. But unlike that trip where I had trains to connect the spots and hostels to sleep in, this time I’ll be running or paddling between markers and sleeping in a jacket and blow up mattress I have crammed into my vest.

I guess if I complete this I get to name the activity. That’ll give me something to think about while I’m out there.

The final map might look something like this – red being running (somewhere between 100-150 miles of that, and blue being SUPing (~50 miles). For scale, the big lake is 20 miles long and one mile across.

In order to make this work I’m going to be trying out a few new things.

  1. I’ll be unsupported, but stashing some gear along the way as I do various out & backs. Carry in & carry out but don’t carry for every single mile of the trip. This is fairly common when grabbing peaks, (I did the same at Whitney a few years ago) so there is precedent for it within the sports I’m combining.
  2. Everything will need to be secured & waterproof as I SUP. I’m planning to achieve that with some dry bags I have strapped to the deck and I will still be wearing my vest with water bottles & food for easy access while paddling.
  3. I’ll be taking advantage of a time-of-day synergy between SUPing and running by paddling at twilight & in the dark. It turns out mountain lions are most active during sunrise and sunset, which is also one of the calmest parts of the day on the lake. So I plan to use those hours to paddle, and thus avoid running into mountain lions. I might also end up doing some night SUPing depending on how sleep goes. Running at night is pretty difficult as you have to keep super alert of your footing. SUPing will both be easier (as the lake is more calm) and more relaxing as there isn’t really anything you’re going to bump into or trip on.
  4. I’ll likely try to sleep some during the warmer parts of the evening, 10pm-2am and try to be moving again in the early hours when it is coldest, so my movement can keep me warm.

This should be fun.

For a sneak peak I grabbed some pictures from a hiking website. This is the lake I’ll be spending a lot of time on. The picture is taken from the top of a peak I plan to get up to. Also pictured are a bunch of other peaks I am going to attempt.

The trip will have some sweeping views and the classic PNW contrast of blue water/sky, white & gray mountains and lush green forests. I love that color contrast.

I have a minor addiction to jumping in alpine lakes and I don’t expect this trip will let me down.

This year I’ll be attempting this when the moon is not out, as opposed to last year when I did it under full moon. It turns out the extra light from the moon doesn’t help you see that much and I’d rather have less light and more stars.

In total, my gear should come in under 20lbs, excluding my SUP. ~10lbs of that will be food, which will mostly stay in a bear canister with my SUP at various beaches while I complete the runs. I also have an ultralight sleep setup that weighs ~2 lbs and which will be a big improvement over last year. I’ve been able trying to get my gear pretty light while also making sure I have enough for anything that pops up. This adventure should be a good test.

Goals

  1. Have fun
  2. See something new
  3. Don’t meet any cats
  4. Complete 100+ miles of combined SUP & Running
  5. Complete 3 18+ hour days of self-powered moving
  6. Complete 150+ miles of combined SUP & Running
  7. Complete 200+ miles of combined SUP & Running
  8. Get a few good shots on the GoPro
  9. Average 120bpm+ during my moving hours

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