Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2 months.

Is life really moving THIS fast that our little Etta is already 2 months old?!  I mean, look at that picture.  She already looks like a little adult.  Had her shots today.  I had to pin down her arms.  It was awful...for me.  Etta did a scream I have never heard before, cried for 10 minutes and then slept for 4 hours.  She's a champ.

This month has been not better... (ok, yes better) but different.  She is down to usually only one feeding a night - thanks to the intense "baby boot camp" program she is on to sleep 12 hours in 12 weeks.  So mom is getting just a little bit more sleep.  She is making progress, but we still have many hours to go.  She is growing like crazy - and her moods reflect it.  Etta eats a lot more and sleeps more when she is in a spurt.

The most exciting things?!  She started smiling!!  Not gas or facial reflexes smiling - like we can totally get her to smile!!  And with that, some of my anti-motheries have had to subside.  Because she really does like high-pitch noises.  What else?  Oh, she "coos" now.  And she will actually converse back with you.  If you say it to her, she will say it right back.  It is pretty much the cutest thing ever.  She still likes to sleep with her arms above her head.  I tried not swaddling her at night, but she still doesn't have full control over her arms and ends up hitting herself in the face and waking up.  So we are still swaddling.  She tracks things all over the place with her eyes.  The play mat has actually been a play space, she is enamored by the chime-noise making toy hanging from her car seat, and I already have her watching the Peek-a-Boo Barn app on my iphone to learn animals and the sounds they make.  She loves it.  She moves her arms and legs in an excited motion.  A lot.

Part of our baby boot camp is establishing a bed time routine.  I started reading to her.  I read her the classic "Love You Forever" and cried the whole way through.  When Warren put her to bed one night I overheard him reading her his anesthesiology study material.  Equally as emotional - not sure why he didn't cry.

I am really liking this stage, and I can only imagine it is going to get better and better!

Friday, July 19, 2013

One Month.

We have made it one month with Etta - round of applause?!  I think since I was expecting it to be (kinda) terrible, with no sleep, screaming baby, poop explosions and covered in spit-up, in reality it wasn't all that bad.  In fact, it has gone pretty smoothly.  Dont get me wrong - it is still hard, and all of those things I expected are definitely present....but for the most part I feel pretty in control.  

Etta is a really good baby.  She is growing sooo fast too!  Right now she loves to be propped up more than lying flat on her back.  I think because she likes to see what is going on - or likes the attention of uninterrupted eye contact with whoever is sitting next to her.  She sleeps with both arms above her head.  And can get out of whatever swaddle we put her in to do so.  I remember her fingertips tickling me in the womb, now I know why.  Her hands are ALWAYS by her head.  She makes funny faces.  Mostly grumpy old man faces, which are still pretty cute.  She has a taradactle-like scream, but Warren says she's singing.  She will only take a pacifier sometimes.  She sleeps on her own terms.  And when she wants to sleep, there is NO waking her up.  It starts with her rolling her eyes back, and then she is done for.  Ironically we do the same things to try to make her sleep as we do to wake her up.  Sometimes I swear she smiles at me, and it is not just a facial muscle reflex.  She is lackadaisical during "tummy time".  I dont think she quite gets the concept just yet, she mostly falls asleep.  She makes a "kchh" sound every time she yawns.  When she is hungry she starts to eat at her hands.  And when she actually eats, she eats almost double what the pediatrician recommends for her weight.  She is a total daddy's girl and will fall asleep for him in pretty much any position imaginable.  I hear him talk to her and say, "now be a good girl for mommy tonight and sleep."  She tries, because she loves her daddy.  But she must really love me too, because she cant seem to go a couple hours in the night without needing to see me :-)

Overall, this month has flown.  I have had a lot of help.  From Warren, my mom (and dad), my mother-in-law, Lisa, Cynda and Tori - cooking meals, cleaning and helping with the night shift.  I am grateful for people in my life that love Etta like we do.  My in-laws have said, "it takes more than just parents to raise a child".  And I agree.  Etta is going to be blessed with many people in her life that love her and want the best for her.  She will learn from so many that she interacts with.  She has great examples in her extended family to look up to.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Birth Story

Etta Ruth Davis
Born on June 19th, 2013 at 4:55 am at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach
Weight:  8 pounds 11 ounces
Height:  19 inches
Doctor:  Jeff Illeck, MD
Nurse:  Denise
Etta's birth story begins a few days before she was actually delivered. Tuesday, June 11th, Dr. Illeck stripped my membranes.  I was praying this would work, as I was getting super uncomfortable in the pregnancy.  Hard to sleep, to walk, to sit down and stand up.  It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would, and by Wednesday morning, I lost my mucous plug.  Everything I read said that it was most common to go into labor withing 48 hours of losing the plug, so I was ready! 

On Thursday, June 13th, I began having contractions around 10:30pm.  Since Warren was working early the next day, I called my other resident husband - Lisa Ward.  Lisa and I walked around the neighborhood while she timed my contractions - about 5 mins apart.  I kept telling her they were uncomfortable, but not excruciating.  She spent the night on our couch just in case since Warren had to leave early.
The next day I felt much better, but began contracting again late in the evening, Warren did his best to make me feel comfortable, and again we walked the neighborhood.  This was the same story on Saturday night.  By Sunday night (Father's Day), I was having contractions earlier in the day - starting by 4pm, about 5 mins apart.  The difference now was the excruciating nerve pain I felt in the front part of my hips and legs.  So much pain, that I could not walk, sit, stand or get comfortable.  By this time I was crying, so Warren gathered all our hospital bags and we headed to the hospital. 
Hoag is in my opinion, the nicest hospital in OC - ocean view rooms, state of the art equipment and physicians trained at top universities.  Although they did not have valet parking at 9pm on Sunday Warren dropped me off in front with the bags, parked the car, ran to meet up with me and we both made our way to the 5th floor.  We checked into the unit and I told the nurse of my nerve pain.  We were escorted to an ocean view room by the nurse and she hooked the baby up to be monitored and track my contractions.  I was only dilated to a 2.  I sat on a birthing ball, they continuously checked my blood pressure and 2 hours later the nurse checked me again to see if I had progressed in my dilation.  Still a 2.  I was so disappointed - we were turned away.
I was able to get some sleep that night with the help of a Unisom.  Warren had the whole week off (lucky vacation scheduled), and I was feeling much better that we actually went to the beach and read while enjoying the ocean (and getting a little bit more sun).  We stayed at the beach until about 4, and I started feeling the pain again - it took 45 mins to walk home...which was only 3 blocks.  By 6pm the excruciating pain was back, but I didnt want to be the pregnant girl who cried labor wolf, so I stuck it out at home with a bouncing on a birthing ball and our good friend Andy Richardson came over to assist Warren in giving me a priesthood blessing.  I made it through the night.
The next morning, Warren came with me to my appointment with Dr. Illeck.  I was still a 2.  He stripped my membranes again...and this time, it hurt.  I was still having contractions about every 15 mins with the nerve pain and it was difficult to walk.  After leaving the office the contractions intensified - stripping the membranes was working!  We got home in time for me to eat some food, then the pain became intolerable again.  At one point, I was laying on the couch, shaking, crying and yelling from the pain.  By this time, contractions were 4 mins apart.  Warren had seen enough.  He told me he was taking me in.
He loaded up the car and helped me to my seat.  Warren drove down 14th street to make a left on PCH.  In the process of this unprotected left-hand turn, we were almost two cars.  Nervous father-to-be?  Later we were told by some friends in our ward that they witnessed the whole scary episode.  The Lord was definitely with us in this moment.

We arrived to the hospital minutes later, this time valet was there.  They pulled up a wheel chair and Warren grabbed ALL of our stuff - we were there to stay this time!  He wheeled me up to the 5th floor, as I was yelling, whim-icing and crying in pain.  It was the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. 
We were guided to the unit to be monitored, and Warren saw Brother Braithwaite, a member of our ward who also happened to be the OB on call.  He dropped his name to the nurse as they put me in a room and got the monitor hooked up.  Still a 2.  The nurse called Dr. Illeck to tell him of my pain, Brother Braithwaite came in to say hello - and with that....I was admitted.  Finally!!  We were going to have a baby!
I had been told that the IV was painful, but I did really notice because the contractions and nerve pain were taking up most of my attention.  They put me back in the wheel chair and wheeled me across the hall.  The anesthesiologist, Dr. Perry arrived shortly after to give me my epidural.  Heaven.  He had me sit sideways on the bed, with my legs dangling off.  It was a beautiful view of the harbor and ocean, not a cloud in the sky.  It felt a little cold and weird on my back, but I didnt care.  It started working within minutes.  It was amazing!  I dont know how (or why) anyone would do it any other way.
After I was not in pain, is when Warren started to get just giddy.  I could tell he was soooo excited in the anticipation of his little girl.  He got out his camera and new lens and started snapping pictures.  I loved seeing the excitement in his eyes.  As his mother would say, "his eyes dance."

We loved our nurse, Denise.  She hooked baby up to the monitor once again for us to watch the contractions and checked me for dilation.  She also helped Warren flip me every couple hours to make sure the epidural was being evenly distributed.  Dr. Braithwaite came into break my water and I didnt feel a thing.  After two hours I was checked again - still a 2.  So, Denise started me on pitocin. 
After that, things progressed much faster.  Lisa stopped by to bring Warren Cafe Rio for dinner and I drank a lot of ice water.  Later into the night Warren was able to get a couple hours of sleep in between me waking him up to hold the water cup for me or to page Denise to flip me.  He brought speakers to hook up my phone and played Nick Drake station on Pandora.  He also sprayed some of my Chakra #5 spray in the room, which has lavender - a natural calming agent.  I was still pretty anxious though - anticipating the actual delivery.  I didnt sleep at all through labor.
By the time I was dilated to a 7.5, I could feel pressure during the contractions and in my rectum.  Still not an urge to push, but I could feel her coming down.  By 3:45am, Denise said I was ready to push.  She got the room set up and told me she would call Dr. Illeck when she thought I was about 20 mins out from delivering.  I asked her the average length of pushing for first time moms and she said 1-3 hours.  I had an even longer night ahead, or so I thought.  She got me into position, coached me how to breath, where to hold my legs, etc.  Warren stood to my left and held my hand.  We waited until the next contraction, I tucked my chin to my chest, pulled at my legs and pushed....for about 2 seconds when Denise said stop!  Warren said he could already see her head.  Denise called Dr. Illeck right then. 

I waited for about 15 minutes with my legs in the stirrups, resisting the urge to push through contractions, waiting for Dr. Illeck to arrive to the hospital.  He came in around 4:30am and asked how long I had been pushing, to which Denise responded I hadnt.  He gave her a "then why did you call me look", and she said, "just wait until you see it."  They got some final things ready, we waited for the next contraction and I started to push.  Three pushes with three breaths per contraction.  During the second contraction I started to tear, so Dr. Illeck performed an episiotme.  I dont know how hard I was gripping Warren's hand, he didnt say much, but was watching the birth intently.  Denise and the baby's nurse were the ones vocally cheering me on.  On the last push of the third contraction, she was out!
The nurses kind of wiped her down as they were putting her on my chest.  My first thought was, "I cant believe that just happened.  I cant believe I just did that."  And then I thought, "omg, she is mine!  And she is HUGE!  This is crazy."  Warren cut the cord and I only gave one small push to birth the placenta.  I think they do that while she is on your chest to distract you.

In that one moment, our lives have changed forever.  We are now forever parents.  She was absolutely beautiful.  And she even smelled good.  The baby nurse took her over to be weighed, measured and cleaned.  I told Warren to go with her.  He said she looked perfect.  Dr. Illeck was stitching me up while the nurse announced 8 pounds 11 ounces, 19 inches - a healthy baby girl.  They brought her back over to me for some skin to skin time, and this is when I shed a tear or two.  Warren had a perma-grin.
She layed on my chest for a while, then Denise brought me the infamous "Hoag Spritzer", cranberry juice mixed with lemon-lime soda.  Nothing had ever tasted so good.  I really wanted Warren to bond with her, so I asked him to take her in exchange for a granola bar.  For the next two hours I had my eyes closed, but couldnt sleep.  I could hear Warren talking and singing to our baby girl.
At about 7am, the nurse came in to wake us up and bring us breakfast - french toast, cereal and a banana.  We split it.  I was then transferred to a wheel chair, handed my baby girl, and sent up to the mommy baby unit.  Here is where the real recovery began.  The epidural wore off, but I still couldnt walk and had to use the funniest contraption to be wheeled to the bathroom.
Warren and I didnt sleep much (at all) the next two days.  We were so excited that she was finally here.  It was in the mother baby unit where we finalized her name - Etta Ruth Davis.
The rest of our hospital stay seems forever ago.  We had countless visitors of friends and family come to see is.  Beautiful flowers delivered.  Met with Dr. Illeck and our new pediatrician, and were DC'd on Friday morning.  Our first day home Brad and Ruth came to visit.  By Saturday morning, John and Shelly were here to help and Shelly stayed the entire week; making meals, cleaning and helping with the night shifts.  Etta is such a good baby.  She eats well, she sleeps a lot (hopefully more at night soon), and I could stare at her funny faces all day.
To sum up my feelings overall in this whole experience would be impossible.  It's crazy to think we created this beautiful person.  And crazy that we were able to name a human.  And we are responsible for her.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but had a hard time picturing myself doing it.  But it has come a lot more naturally than I thought.  Just in the past week, I find myself being able to recognize her cry, her patterns....if she is hungry.  I love when she falls asleep on my chest and I love how it seems that she looks right at me and says thank you.  I love watching Warren with her.  I love her.  And I love our little growing family.

Monday, December 3, 2012

san gorgonio

Resident retreat this weekend in big bear. It was raining in orange county so I was hoping for snow in the mountains, not so.

Didn't sleep much in our giant cabin of fun on friday but still managed to get up a little bit before 4 to get ready for a run up mount san gorgonio. I've been up there twice before but via the Vivian Creek trail, the cabin  was closer to the South Fork trail, which is another popular route, so I decided to head up that way. It's a little farther in distance but less altitude gain so maybe more runable.

Head lamp on it was go time a little after four. The first three miles were relatively flat then it picked up. I just went at a controlled pace. By six the sun was  coming up and trail opened up at the same time.

I ran into a short section where the trail was icy and then dropped off. I considered stopping but after a quarter mile it became manageable and then the ice disappeared all together. Approaching the saddle the wind picked up but the frost trees and views were too spectacular to pass up, even if my fingers couldn't feel the camera buttons kept trying to get decent shots.

I had a designated turn around time in my mind and before I left I had pretty much conceded that I probably wouldn't be able to make the top. Before I knew it I saw a sign where the Vivian Creek trail merged with my current trail and I knew I was only a quarter mile or so from the top, just before my previous wrong turn. This time I wouldn't make the same mistake.

I felt like a put my hand in the cookie jar and would get away with it as I sprinted (relatively) to the summit. I'd make it to the top and still make it back in time! I let out a primal scream for good measure and then took a few more pictures without getting blown over before heading down to warmer ground.

Monday, September 3, 2012

mt baldy fkt fail

I had labor day off so decided to head to the mountains. A few weeks ago I was talking with a coworker and realized Mt Baldy is only a little over an hour away. With the peak just over 10k ft, this makes for a very tempting training run.

I've been looking at fkt's for california. Just because I want to see where I'm at and maybe because I have some friends who seem to always try and accomplish speed attempts that I figured I'd at least see how I stack up.

The route is a little different from the one I took when completing "Los Tres Santos" but it was the route that seemed to have the fkt on it. I figured I'd do some reconaisance work, and just give a solid steady effort.

The Baldy Lodge was closed, but there were people inside and they were nice enough to let me use their facilities. They wished me good luck on the run - I guess there's a race every memorial day, but luckily it was going up a different route (the same one I did last year).

After a five minute warmup walk up the hill and back down to my car I was off. Maybe a little too fast, it took me a minute to catch my breath. After the first half mile or so the paved road turns to single track hard packed dirt great for running. Immediately I liked the single track trail much more than the moker flats fire road. As the switch backs kept coming I just kept pushing at a steady workout pace. 22.17 where you cross the creek, which I believe was right on time. Encouraging.

Then it got steeper and I hiked at a steady pace. When I got to "The Narrows" I figured I was at least thirty minutes off the fkt. The steady hard push is still a thing that takes training, it's easy to get comfortable, which is what I did and figured under 2 hours for my first go would be all right.

Heavy smoke settled in about 2/3 of the way up. I heard about the Angeles Forrest fires on the radio on the way up and now I was experiencing them. I used my shirt as a smoke filter and figured my training on the beach running past all the campfires was good training (or just further lung insult?). After ten or fifteen minutes or so I was above the smoke, glad I didn't turn around prematurely.
smoke to the east

At the top I was met by a handful of aiders and spectators for the race. I walked around and took some pictures. I even bummed a couple cups of water seeing as how I went through my 1L on the way up and waited around long enough to see the first two guys come in before heading down. I wish I brought more than one cliff bar, the extra weight wouldn't have killed me, but oh well.

waiting for the racer's to finish

smoke filled air looking east from top of baldy

The way down was uneventful, the smoke had blown to the east, although it was a lot more steep than I remembered. I was never able to get into a good stride, just found myself on the brakes the whole time taking too short of steps. Again, downhill stuff seems to be one of my weaker points. I came down in around 70min, which was almost 20min slower than even some of the "casual" downhill attempts I saw posted.

About one hundred feet from the end of the trail I fell. Just got lazy I suppose. It was pretty frustrating, it wasn't like I was bombing the hill and making really good time. Probably lucky to walk away with a scraped forearm and knees.

starting elevation: 4300'
top of baldy: 10058'
elevation gain: 5879'
distance: 12.3 miles round trip

time up: 1:59
down: 70

fuel: 1L fluids (finished on way up), 1 cliff bar
"Old Glory" oldest and largest big cone douglas fir in existence

Thursday, July 19, 2012

mt whitney and russel (6/27/12)

 Warning: long post. It’s more for my sake than yours, so read at your own risk. Still trying to find the balance between too much and too little detail (too much time on my hands I suppose). Just read the title and look at the pics for the short version…

The Plan
I found out on Saturday that I didn’t have to work this week. Which is nice, not working is better than working but on such short notice it’s hard to take advantage of the time. I’ve been meaning to make a “to-do” list for times like this when I have to  plan on a pinch but I just haven’t done that yet. We had plans for Friday through the weekend which put me in even more of a time crunch.

I’ve been thinking about some local projects but with the extra time thought I should take advantage and do something a little farther away. My thoughts turned to the Sierra’s and Yosemite. I stumbled across a blog a few months ago which has opened my eyes to many possibilities. his knowledge of the geography and frequency and speed of his excursions are inspiring. I also went to the library, searching for maps of trails without any luck but did find a backpacking book with twenty promising routes. I would love to reproduce many of Leor’s trip reports but my unfamiliarity of the terrain, likely solo effort and a few more hours travel each way led me to “settle” on something in the southern Sierra’s.

Although not as imaginative as some of Leor’s routes I figured Mt Whitney would be a good excursion. It’s in the Southern Sierra’s, only four hours away, I’ve never been there and the highest point in the continental 48 – reason enough for me. I didn’t decide this until two am Tuesday morning. Maybe I’m indecisive. Maybe I just wanted to find the perfect adventure.

I left my place at 11am on Tue in order to get to the Visitor Center in time to pick up my permit for the following day. The permit ended up being free because I was only going to be there the same day, which was contradictory to everything I read online but a pleasant surprise nonetheless. I spent about an hour in the bookshop, looking at different maps, routes and possibilities. I knew that Mt Russell was nearby and from talking with friends and reading climbing TR’s it seemed like a consensus that Russell was more appealing than Whitney in terms of exposure, popularity (less crowds), and other subjective measures. How could I be so close and not do them both. I also started thinking more about the Northern Fork Route, which is an unmaintained though relatively well traveled backpacker’s route that splits from the main Whitney trail about a half mile up and then travels past mountain lakes on gorgeous terrain. It definitely seemed appealing because it would allow me to summit  Russell and Whitney, and would steer me away from comparatively mundane, maintained and very popular main trail . I worried about the route finding, and if the Mountaineer’s Route (the route I would have to take up Whitney should I decide on the North Fork trail) would be a wise choice without an ice axe or other gear should I encounter snow. Immediately after exiting the visitor center I made some phone calls to Kevin and Andy and asked their opinions. My mind still wasn’t made up on the best plan but at least I would be in the Sierra’s, it would be ok.

I drove up to the Whitney trailhead with still several hours of sun to go and decided to check out the trails. It would help me make a decision on routes, be a good workout and hopefully help with acclimation (the trailhead is at 8360 ft, just a little higher than where I live). In the my trunk I found some old racing flats and decided to throw them on, just to save my trainers for the long day ensuing. Once I got on the trail I loved the feel of the flats, not just obviously noticeably lighter but much less beefy than I thought I would appreciate without any noticeable difference in comfort or cushion. I ran up the main trail for about thirty minutes before heading back down and then venturing up the North fork trail. Within thirty seconds of being on this new route I was grinning from ear to ear, at least internally. Although definitely not runnable besides the first 400m it wound through overhanging trees, crossed the creek several times and involved some bushwhacking. Definitely more fun/adventurous than the main route – which agreed with my thoughts and consensus from backpacking and Sierra guru, KR. Once out of the shrubbery you ascend up a somewhat exposed slanted rock bands that eventually put you out to Lower Boy Scout Lake, which is more of a pond but beautifully serene and housed by the soaring surrounding mountains. I scrambled up the loose rocks on the north side of the lake trying to get a view of the route, but headed back down as I only had about a little over an hour left of sunlight.  

trail split for northfork

looking towards bishop from LBSL

On the way back down I lost the route as it descended the rock bands down near the creek. I did find some bail wraps but determined I had gone too far. Briefly I had flashes of biveying for the night and trying to bushwhack my way down in the dark. I said a prayer and found the route back to the creek but did considerable more bushwhacking than my way up.

lower boy scout lake

When I got back to the parking lot I had a little bit of headache and just wanted to get some sleep. Luckily there were still camp spots available at the trailhead so I snagged one. As I was looking at the sky full of stars, my head pounding but soothed to be sleeping in the open, surrounded by pine trees and cool alpine air,  I thought maybe my three hour little trek was enough adventure, but I knew there was much more to be had.

My recon work had lead me to decide on the North Fork trail. It would be different from my intention of an “adventure run” as it most likely would not be runnable. However, my reason for training and adventure running at all is for the adventure and to get out and see and experience some amazing places. The heavily traveled main route, although more runnable, would be less adventurous if at all, more peoples and less scenic. Therefore the NFT was in perfect harmony with my real goals. Also, I passed two couples and asked about the Mountaineers route and it seemed passable without ice ax or other accessories so my fear of not being able to gain the summit by this alternate route was mostly assuaged. As far as Russell I would give it shot, although there were two different approaches (head over to Russell via the East route after arriving at Upper Boy Scout Lake or continuing on to Iceberg Lake and then the Whitney-Russell col to attempt the south face) that I had read about I wasn’t sure which option would be best.

I woke up at 4:30, an hour before sunrise, feeling better and surprised at how much sleep it felt like I received. By a little after 5:30 I was charging up the trail, knowing that I would only be able to run the first half mile or so. 10 min in, I realized I’d forgot my poles. I froze and weighed the decision. After prob too much time I headed back down, only to stop and reconsider. The part of the trail I was on the day prior did not lend itself to poles, who knew what the rest would be like. After way too much time in indecision I again started to ascend and realized it was a good thing I had turned around initially because in my excitement and had run past the turnoff for the NFT.

Up to boy scout lake was enjoyable and obtained in about an hour. Although somehow I managed to take a different route through the bushwhacking and creek crossing. It just felt so good to be out and the unkown only adds to, if not defines, the adventure.

lower boy scout lake

Once at LBS lake I crossed over the south side and hopped across the boulder field to eventually arrive at upper boy scout lake (UBSL). There were several camps there and I was lucky to find some people waking up and who knew the area well enough to give some tips. The man I talked with suggested I could head up the eastern ridge of Russell, then down the south face to the whitney-Russell col then down to iceberg lake and finally up the mountaineers route. He made it seem like all this route finding was easy enough, I had my doubts but thought the line was the best and wanted to give it a shot.

whiney (left), russell (right), east ridge of russell on right

 Heading up to Russell from UBSL  there’s a scree field that I fought for about an hour until I was on runnable soft terrain for about ¼ mile until the scrambling began. The scree field was frustrating at times, sometimes I was four-pointing, but I just kept moving. The was a couple whom I spoke with in the middle of the scree field and one of the guys confirmed my thoughts that the southern decent off Russell could be difficult and it may be in my best interest just to head back down the eastern ridge. As I was solo, without rope and had plenty of daylight  I figured this was a better option than finding myself downclimbing an exposed 5.9 or harder route in racing flats.

ridgeline traverse of russell

 The class 3 ridgeline traverse of Russell was perhaps my favorite part of the day. I stayed mostly on the south side with views of  Tulainyo Lake but there was a lot of exposure, especially on the ridgeline. The moves weren’t difficult but moving confidently and efficiently over such terrain with incredible views just feels nice. My pictures don’t come close to doing this section justice. Once at the top I took an obligatory awkward pic and headed down the same way.

from top of russell looking towards whitney/russell col, whitney is prominent peak

more ridgeline traverse of russell, tulainyo lake

top of russell, whitney in background

more from russell descent, both north (left) and south faces (right) appreciated, lake tulainyo without snow
 Coming down through the scree field was much quicker than going up. Although I did acquire a lot of rocks and one of my shoes ended up tearing along the side of the heel (glad they weren’t new).

Once back at UBSL I pumped some water (the guys that I passed offered their filter outside their tent after I asked if they were just drinking the lake water). I still had a liter left, but it turns out I would use the full 3L over the final part of the journey.

I found what looked like could have been a trail over the ridge then down to Iceberg Lake. Again there were some parties camped here and I was able to get some info on the mountaineer’s route – I guess when the guide book describes something as the “obvious” route it isn’t so obvious to me.

east face of whitney from iceberg lake, mountaineer's route heads left of vertical snow line

I started heading up the mountaineer’s route around 12:15, just short of 7 hours had elapsed since I started and I felt pretty confident I would make it back before dark. The MR headed up a short steep scree field that then turns to scree/boulders balanced on scree. I moved steadily but gingerly so as not to pull down any large boulders on myself.  Once you gain the notch my readings and fellow travelers said that you come around then bend then take the obvious class 3 path to the top. The ascent looked doable at any point, I just wanted to make sure I took the right one. I dropped down below and past some small snow fields to a point that looked like I could start heading up. Again, like on Russell, the class 3 climbing was fun, especially with the exposure, and the patches of ice added to the experience.

take "obvious" route to top of whitney

 Once on Whitney I leisurely walked around, enjoying the expansive view and snapped a couple pictures. I then headed down the main Whitney trail where I encountered far more travelers, most whom looked at me like I was crazy for trying to run down. I found the trail very runnable although the switchbacks and various rocks made finding a steady groove difficult but to be expected in mountain travel.

I did have one misstep on the descent. There is a short section of maybe ten or so switchabcks that are only 10-15 feet long, all on fist sized rocks that made running pretty difficult. As I was descending I must have stumbled and flipped hiney over teakettle as I found myself face up on the switchback below, perfectly positioned in the middle of the trail. I really don’t know how this happened but I didn’t loose consciousness or have the wind knocked out of me. I also avoided any head trauma. I quickly jumped to my feet so as not to give all those “this guys is crazy for trying to run because he will surely fall” looks any credence. I felt a little wobbly, probably just shook up and decided to walk for a couple minutes and have another gu before continuing to run again. All I could see was some scrapes on my leg and my left thenar eminence was a bit bruised. Pretty lucky I suppose.

The rest of the decent was without complication. I’m glad I chose only to descend this way as there were much more hikers and the scenery, although great, just wasn’t the same. The last couple miles especially once past the stream, the switchbacks lengthened and the rocks became less frequent that I was able to open it up a bit. I’m still working on my downhill running and this was a perfect chance and the reason why I wanted to descend the main trail. I tried to work on lengthening my stride over obstacles rather than always stutter stepping (some advice I received during the rtrtr.) This seemed to work well and I enjoyed the speedy travel until arriving at the trailhead.

just a scratch. lucky.

-       I really liked the racing flats more than I thought, without any noticeable setbacks in terms of cushioning. Lightweight trail shoes would be ideal, just really expensive…
-       This route could go much faster. I tried to move steadily but wasn’t trying to set any speed record. I stopped several times to talk with people and took pics for a group. Route knowledge would also aid the speed.
-       Figuring out the Southern decent of Russell would avoid backtracking.
-       With plenty of time left in the long summer days it wouldn’t be difficult to bag several other peaks Mount Muir and Mount Clarrion
-       I will return to the Sierras, they are relatively close and unbound adventure awaits.

- total time 11:27
- mileage: 20+
- elevation gain 9600’ +
- TH elevation: 8360; Mt Russell elevation:  14088’; Mt Whitney elevation: 14491’
 - nutrition: 3 gus, 1 pack  gu chomps, 1 power bar, 5L dialvyte

Friday, April 20, 2012


it's official.  i am officially certified in hot power fusion yoga.  wont stop here.  more certifications to come.  this is a love for a lifetime.

photo credit to wardav