Proud & Loud Week 2 of the 100k Summer Training!

After spending three days feeling like a MAC truck had run me over, I jumped back on the wagon. Needless to say even shorts runs were victorious this week.

unnamed (1).jpg

What this week was suppose to look like:

1. REST. Stretch / Foam Roll / Core Strength

2. 45-min run [zone 1/2]

3. 80 min run: 20-30 min w/u, 30 min climb with 10x: 2 minutes hard [zone4] & 60 sec recovery [zone1]

4. 50min run [zone 1/2] + glute strength

5. REST. Stretch / Foam Roll / X-train

6. 2.5 hour hilly run: 30-40 min w/u, 3x 10 min [zone3/4] 6 min rest

7. 1.5 hr easy hike/run [zone 1-2]

What this week actually looked like:

Easy does it - 20 min [zone 2ish] :: Will I throw up?

60 min [zone 3/4ish] :: Friday after a long ass week of work/being sick and motivation was lowwww. This made me snap out of it.

unnamed (2).jpg

30 min [zone 3/4ish] :: After a full day of working on our house renovation that last thing I wanted to do was strap on my sneaks at 7pm and get out for a run. Managed to anyway and felt so much better after.

Factors:

1. Still a little sick

2. Snowed all week.

3. No trails to run on - who knows where I can find a hill up in this joint?

Training Doesn't Always Go to Plan, Here's to Trying!

What this week's training intention was:

Day 1: REST | Strength/Core

Day 2: 45 minute run [zone 1/2]

Day 3: 60 minute run [60 minutes to include: 1:30 zone 3/4, 1:00 zone 1/2 x10]

Day 4: 45 minute run [zone 1/2]

Day 5: REST | Strenth/Core

Day 6: 2 hour run [zone 1/2]

Day 7: 75 minute FLAT run [to include: 4x 3:00 zone 4, 3:00 recovery]

 The view from my Day 2, 45 minute run, overlooking Victor, Idaho.

The view from my Day 2, 45 minute run, overlooking Victor, Idaho.

What really happened:

Day 1: Hip/Glute Activation Circuit [I found this one and am loving it] Side Note: last year I sprained both my ankled due to a lack of... I'm not sure. But my PT associated it with my glute weakness, so this is killer!

Day 2: 45 minutes, averaging 10:52/mi [Average HR of 150bpm, suppose to be below 140 bpm]

Day 3: Got to the bike path in town where I planned to run and realized I had everything except a sports bra. Got dressed and ran for 25 minutes anyway. Let those boobies fly! #nobranoproblem

29541973_10155103268472811_5728648653119584186_n.jpg

The rest of the week was a total wash! My parents came to town, we went skiing, to the hot springs, did the elk refuge slay ride and then I got the norovirus!

It would be easy to beat myself up that I couldn't even follow my training plan for a week, but that doesn't sound productive or like good karma for the 10 remaining weeks, so instead I'm okay with having been a little light this week (and honestly probably most weeks). Afterall, I'll just be glad I'm not doing this completely off the couch!

10 Weeks to Go!

#MakingTime for The 100K Summer

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

It always starts like this. It's more than 6 months away and I'm feeling really motivated sitting on the couch in my college sweatpants. I'm the midst of my slobbery somehow I think I'm going to get my act together and create a routine, or I guess people call it a training regimen. Next thing you know I've entered my credit card information and hit submit. "Non-refundable," goes unnoticed in the small print and there you have it, I'm running a 50k (or two) off the couch.

It's not unthinkable, I'm fit, lazy but fit. And I do actually like running. I also really like chicken pot pie and laying on the floor in the corner of my living room where the sun creeps in.. but those things aren't that helpful. 

Regardless, it's now 12 weeks out and I have it in my mind I'm going to train. I've downloaded a training plan from Mountain Project and have put weekly goals into my trendy passion planner. So here goes nothing, I'll either be super prepared or just wing it.

Follow along as I try my hardest at #makingtime.

Winter Work Outs

As the days get shorter and the air cools off it's harder and harder to get outside to fit in exercise. I use to be a huge gym rat (see photo below) and would prefer going to the gym and grunting through an hour of weights than going on a long outdoor adventure.

20140827-_MG_3816.jpg

Those times have changed but now behind a desk for 8 hours a day it's harder to find the time for outdoor adventures everyday–especially as winter approaches.

Looking for a quick and easy ass kicker no matter your fitness level? Try this:

Equipment Needed:

  • Weighted Medicine Ball (I used a 10lb ball, use whatever you feel comfortable with)
  • Small 16 inch box or step
  • 10-25lb weight (I used a 10kg weight)

Warm Up:

10 minutes of cardio

Strength: 4 Rounds

12x lunges while holding weight overhead with straight arms

12x air squats

Endurance: 5 Rounds

30 Sec Wall Ball (With Medicine ball)

30 sec tuck hold

30 sec touch-jump-touch

30 sec tuck hold

30 sec hippity-hop

30 sec tuck hold

60 sec rest

 

I've been lying.

I've been lying to all of you. I can't speak for the rest of the world out there but, I'm bursting at the seams and I just can't keep lying. Everyday I post, tweet and touch you, whoever you are, with my images and words and I can't keep lying to you.

I'm lying about my glamorous life here in the mountains. Most days I'm hulled up in the extra bedroom of the house I rent, slamming away on this keyboard, squinting at my computer screen and becoming weaker, less in shape and paler.

I'm lying that I reach the top of mountains with a smile on my face. Most of the adventures require some serious suffering, a whole lot of nerves and a shitload of self-talk to over come my paralyzing fear. I cry on 99% of these days. I cry because I'm scared, because I'm hungry and thirsty, because my knees ache, because I've been standing on the side of this damn mountain for over 6 hours and I just want a damn cheeseburger and a beer. Yes, I cry. (I am so sorry Brady).

Up with the sun on a different kind of adventure today.

A photo posted by Monica Purington (@tomgirl) on

I'm lying that one day I am galavanting in the mountains and the next I am sitting in the line-up somewhere on the coast. In my 27 years I have, twice, made last minute extensive travel plans that bring me from one amazing place to another. I live in the mountains, I try to go to the ocean as much as physically possible, but I'm poor as shit and travel ain't cheap.

I'm lying that my relationship is gold, that we just climb mountains together, go on exotic beach vacations and romp around in the snow like two love birds. It looks beautiful in photos; gazing into each others eyes, laughing on the beach and smiling in a warm embrace at the top of a snowy mountain. But, I am only human. I am hopeful that our relationship is gold but I am mostly trying to be brave because I'm afraid that it's not. We argue. We disagree. We are human.

HOURS of border traffic has us basking in all our Baja glory. #landlockeddrifter #JHinBAJA

A photo posted by Monica Purington (@tomgirl) on

I'm lying that I even know how to surf. Had I not started dating Brady three years ago I would have never gone on a surf trip, I would have never tried (drowned) as hard as I did to learn and I would still be here daydreaming about how cool it would be to know how to surf. I can barely duck dive a shortboard and a successful day is making it out to the lineup.

I'm lying that I am confident and put together. I still have no idea who I am. I constantly wonder what I was put on this earth for, where my place is here and what I need to maintain a state of happiness.

Always happy to head back to good ol' Wyoming. #thatsWY

A photo posted by Monica Purington (@tomgirl) on

I've been lying that I am in full support of female partners. I mostly adventure with a (very specific) male partner and tend to stay away from female partners. Maybe it's trust issues, maybe it's group dynamics and maybe I'm to blame.

I find myself stagnant at the kitchen table just scrolling through strangers pictures and being jealous. Thinking I should be doing more, getting out more, getting more done everyday. But isn't it all just a lie? We're all so "busy," but, are we? We waste so much energy and happiness dwelling on what we aren't doing and what they are doing but what are we trying to prove?

I'm not hating. I will continue to post daily about something I may or may not being doing that actual day. I will still scroll through outdoor related hashtags and "engage" with total strangers and I will still feel good about myself when I get over 100 likes on a photo. No, I'm not hating, I'm just clearing the air and letting you know what happens behind the smiling summit photos.

I love breathing in fresh air, I love the feeling once the day is over and I love the adrenaline I get from being scared. I do it because I love it, but it isn't always pretty.

#upandoverstatelines | The Salewa Ultra Train

Years of being a Salewa fan, a company that truly builds shoes for the mountains, I could not wait to get my hands on a pair of kicks from their all new running line up.  

Fresh out of the box, Brady and I took the all the Ultra Train's  for a 20(ish) mile test drive up and over the Teton range. Starting from the Death Canyon trailhead we ran 1 mile to the Phelps lake overlook and then down to the mouth of Death Canyon, a mix of dirt single track and loose scree.

From the mouth of the canyon we started the 7 mile, 4,000 vertical foot climb up the blistering hot Death Canyon trail to the Static Peak Divide. This is where I was thankful the Ultra Train's were highly breathable, keeping my feet cool and dry when they should have been a total swamp pool.

Rocky dirt switchbacks lead us along a deliciously cold water source (which makes carrying little water and a Steripen the ultimate set up for the Tetons) until we reached the Static Peak trail fork and turn to climb up and around Albright Peak. The trail turned to mostly rock with about 300 vertical feet left. Views of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming to the east and the Jedidiah Smith Wilderness in Idaho to the West, a 360 view of my own utopia. Above tree line and finding footing on Teton granite, I came to find full confidence in the SHARP! (watch out for rubbing your calfs and ankles) Michelin tread.

At 10,788 ft we found ourselves feeling accomplished and perhaps in danger of being exposed to weather and quickly turned toward Alaska Basin. 

From here we began the 12 miles gradual descent through what you would imagine if the Wizard of Oz took place in the mountains; beautiful meadows full of wildflowers, babbling streams and small alpine lakes in a massive basin surrounded by the ominous peaks of the Tetons.  

I wouldn't say it was an easy outing, but well worth it for the views. 

Coming in at 8.1 ounces the Ultra Train is aggressive for its petit size. The Michelin sole is sharp! and gives you all the confidence in the world while boulder hopping. The light water resistant coating keeps your feet safe from splashing across alpine streams and with an 8 mm drop (2 mm more than the La Sportiva Bushido) I felt like it was the perfect amount of cushion. 

Just under 20 miles in mixed terrain and two pairs of feet, blister free!  

 

Check out a recap of our snap story from the @SalewaTeam snapchat: 

Questions?

Fire away in the comments below.


Getch you some...

THE tom's | WONDERWOMAN Jax Mariash Koudele

More commonly known as Dam's these are the woman that live the Tomgirl lifestyle and speak the Tomgirl language. So dam's, meet The Tom's.

I met Jax, 4 years ago through her (then boyfriend) husband, Lance, who is a photographer. Lance and I were collaborating on some shots for his client, Trew, and in comes Jax, schlepping a strobe up Teton pass to ensure Lance, "got the shot." I knew from this moment, as Jax, giggled and zealously carried gear up a mountain that a) I was going to really like this woman and b) she was up to something radical. 

So, a few years have passed and I've followed Jax and Lance's story as they move back and forth between Hood River, OR and Jackson, WY. I watched Jax as she: ran every day for a year, to promote overall healthy activity and raise funds for LiveSTRONG; started her own marketing company [Mariash Marketing]; then opened her own roaster/coffee shop [Stoked Roasters] in Hood River.  Now she is going for a huge accomplishment of not only completing the Grand Slam Plus as the first female ever but she wants to win it! - (and so far she is).

Needless to say, I've looked up to Jax as a strong female athlete, entrepreneur and a unbelievably positive female role model. Holy sh*t this woman is amazing.

So, what is this lofty endeavor Jax has set out on? The grand slam plus... Is that a baseball thing or...? The Grand Slam Plus is a series of five 250K, multi-day foot races across the roughest terrain in the world. It includes the four 4 Deserts Grand Slam races, plus the Roving Race - all to be completed in the same calendar year. In the 14 years of the 4 Deserts race series, three men have completed the entire Grand Slam Plus - Jax is determined to join those men and be the first woman ever to complete the feat, all to raise awareness for the LymeLight Foundation

Although not as well known as  Kit DesLauries goal of skiing the 7 summits or Melissa Arnot climbing Everest without O — I'd say it ranks up there in athletic endeavors. 

Jax has completed two races so far, finishing 2nd in Sri Lanka and just recently finishing 1st in Sahara, Africa.

The remainder of the races are...

·       Gobi March: June 19-25, 2016

·       Atacama Crossing: Oct. 2-8, 2016

·       Antarctica: Nov. 18-24, 2016

 

 Jax is fired up and ready to hit the Grand Slam Plus out of the park!

Jax is fired up and ready to hit the Grand Slam Plus out of the park!

 

I had the pleasure of catching up the Jax and diving in on a few questions on motivation, training and a couple of the "luxury" items she keeps with her during her races...

What inspired you to set this goal?

 

The inspiration behind the Grand Slam Plus is two fold for me. First, I have always been the type to desire to do something so big on this planet that it left a stamp on it that was full of inspiration and motivation for individuals to reach for their highest potential and get outside to explore. I figure the more that I can push folks to move their bodies then the healthier and more fit our planet will become. Second, is to push to raise mass awareness and funds for Lyme Disease via the LymeLight Foundation.  Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the world and has been reported in every state besides Hawaii and found on every continent besides Antarctica. When a few very close friends of mine were diagnosed with the disease I couldn’t help but get more involved. Lyme is extremely hard to diagnose and the side effects are really awful. I was troubled when I learned that most insurances do not cover treatment for Lyme and that families are often left on their own to battle the disease.  When I started to see the vast extent of treatment protocols and the suffering that goes into this disease I began to get more involved. This started with riding my bike 100 miles at the Ride For Lyme in the Marin Century Ride. I also am honored to have Stoked roasters sponsor the riders out there. With the 4 Deserts races there is a lot of synergy between the challenges that I am facing in the desert and Lyme patients pushing through their own ultra-marathon of treatment protocols and fighting against relentless symptoms. As I battle the elements of adversity out on the course, I feel that my journey is paralleling theirs and I am helping them to reach their own finish line. I can’t tell you how empowering it is for me to push on my quest with the Grand Slam Plus and I hope to become a beacon of hope, strength and tenacity for them to push on. I hope I can raise enough funds to give out at least one medical grant to a child or young adult suffering from Lyme through the LymeLight Foundation. I hope that this grant will allow him/her to heal so that they can get back outside to adventure and explore. Personally, my very close friend Scott and his family have been very affected by Lyme. I have watched them push through relentless symptoms, which at times has them completely debilitated. It is so hard to see folks you love so much suffering. It is also eye opening when you see the treatment protocols that they all must go through for the rest of their lives in order to stay on their feet. I hope that this epic feat helps to bring the awareness needed to this disease so that folks can heal. 

When did you decide you wanted to complete The Grand Slam Plus?

Well Monica, low and behold It seems like in everything in my life, I just get an idea and jump in full force in a can’t stop won’t stop attitude that is probably legit crazy! For the GSP, I was bouncing ideas back and forth with the 4 Deserts race crew on what we could come up with that would be so outright epic that it would move and shake the masses with inspiration and awareness. Low and behold they presented this idea to me of the first lady in the world to complete the GSP. I thought about it for a few days and then low and behold with 5 weeks to go before hopping into Sri Lanka for race #1 I signed up for the gig. This meant 5 weeks to juggle skiing and skimo training with adding running back into the regimen as I usually take the winters off or with very low mileage. I had to hustle like wildfire to make it happen and somehow build the strength and stamina to jump right in. The climate along was super scary because the first race was 80-99% humidity in 84-95% humidity and we live in an arctic tundra it seems in the winter with ice and snow everywhere and temps ranging from -20 to positive 20. Its totally nuts, exciting, scary and a huge rush all at the same time. 

 

What has your training been like for these races?

So for Sri Lanka, training was a bit off the norm. I was really trying to enjoy the ski season still which threw a wrench in the whole gamut. It looked something like running 30ish miles a week, skimo training, and skiing. Skimo training is fun but it just isn’t the same as running so it put me in a bit of a downside. With it being the first race in the series I knew I just needed to finish and I knew I was strong enough no matter the case to be competitive with the added cross training. For Namibia after a recovery period I jumped into a more legit program. It involves around 85 miles a week and has an active recovery day of 3-4 super slow miles, 2 speed days, and 4 longer distance days. Some days runs are split in two and others it is all in one. It just depends on how my body feels. In addition, I also run around town with my pack fully loaded with my equipment to train with the load. Otherwise your body is in serious shock the first few days. Between Namibia and Gobi the there is only 6 weeks which is totally wild. The first week I just ate and didn’t run at all. The 2nd I ran around 60 miles and now in this 3rd week I will bump to 85 miles again. The next two weeks will be the same followed by a taper week as I travel to China. With such a small amount of recovery it is really important to listen to my body though. So if at any time I feel mentally of physically exhausted then I just toss that day of training out the window and rest. 

 

How do you stay motivated?

Some days I really wonder how I stay motivated a lot. Especially with training at this level over and over again for 5 of these races. I would really have to say that when I feel like not training for a motivational purpose, I immediately think about all of the Lyme Patients that I am running in honor of and it fizzles away. Additionally I feel a responsibility to uphold to my mission to inspire the masses to explore and get outside. Part of that is leading that example myself. If I am not our there getting after it, a part of me feels like I am letting my fans down on the drive to explore. 

 

Tell us something weird you bring with you on each race

So as all can expect, luxury items are few out there because you are carrying everything on your back. It is always amazing to see what folks bring out there on the course as their items that they cannot live without. For me, they include the following; Trigger Point Therapy ball, toothbrush and a super mini tube toothpaste that you get in your kit when you fly internationally, super light flip flops, a tin cup if we won’t get water bottles, a wire blender ball for blending my protein ponder, iPod shuffle and headphones, ear plugs, sleeping pad, small tin of nivea lotion, one extra pair of shorts, and a piece of a microfiber towel, and most importantly notes that lance sneaks in my bag to read every day. Man that is a lot of luxury actually. Every time I think of tossing any of that out I end up slipping it back in right before we leave for camp 1. Lance helped me to realize that even if it is extra weight, there are certain items that in the end will really improve your race performance so you might as well bring them. The most important of those is the .5lb sleeping pad. It literally changed my world and my sleep out there which lead to a better performance. 

 Image provided by Jax of all of the items that fit in her 18lb pack while she runs each event!

Image provided by Jax of all of the items that fit in her 18lb pack while she runs each event!

 

And your favorite running accessory/gear?

As long as it is charged, out there I would say my favorite accessory becomes my iPod shuffle. I wait until the last checkpoint of the day and then I get the gift of jamming to tunes for the last stage. It helps when you are low on energy and famished to just check out and rock out. It was essential in this past race in Namibia to get me through every day. The competition and pressure up top was so intense that it helped me to just stay within myself and in the zone.

 Jax Mariash Koudele running a lap on her town hill, Snow King, in Jackson, WY.

Jax Mariash Koudele running a lap on her town hill, Snow King, in Jackson, WY.

Dying to know something else? Ask Jax in the comments below and she will tweet you a response!

Follow along as Jax runs around the world to raise awareness for Lyme disease, prove female mental toughness to the world, and is a fucking Wonder Woman!

#SkiTourSunday | It's all about the layers

 

#SkiTourSunday is a weekly glimpse into different aspects of spending days exploring in the backcountry of Western Wyoming and beyond.


Mmm, cake.  

No no, not cake. 

 

An exploratory mission that has been on my list since I first heard about it 3 or so years ago has been Pandora, more commonly known as the arch, in the "sidecountry" of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.  

I quote it "sidecountry" as it's not the typical Jackson Hole sidecountry of Rock Springs or Four Pines being accessed by short bootpacks but rather an all day ski touring mission that is made more easily accessibly with the help of that lovely big red box. 

With some vague information from a few sources (the best being, "you will find it in the timber") we set off on one of the earlier trams (9:30am) of the morning suspecting we would make it back to the resort boundaries, all things going to plan, right around sunset at 5pm.

The forecast was on the colder side, so even though the day started out with a 20-30 minute bootpack up and around the west side of Cody Peak, I had dressed warm. SmartWool 250 base layer, quilted Polartec high efficiency mid layer, puffy and a shell - by the time we got to a place where we thought it be best to head west torward granite creek fork my face was sweating but my feet were a complete icicle mess. 

At that moment I thought about skiing back torward the ski resorts boundaries and abandoning my partners. My feet were screaming and I wasn't sure they would come back for the rest of the day. As I stood shivering in my sweat, "why didn't I delayer before hiking?!" - I noticed the sun line at the bottom of our next ski pitch.  "OK," I thought, "if I can get into the sun to transition and start walking, my feet will come back," and I dropped in toward the sun line.

 

We skied the Jabronie Couliour (named aptly by us, as we weren't exactly sure where we wanted to be) down into the sun where we transitioned to skins. 

 

I had learned my lesson, this time I delayered to a point of being on the cool side before we started moving again. Soon after the transition my feet warmed, the sun thawed my chill and whatever chill that remained was cured by my thermos full of soup.

Knowing we wanted to be west of the summit we made our way through the flats of the creek bottom area and headed up the sunny south face slope as far west as we could.  Cautiously staying on ridges where possible and one at a time crossing open faces as the sun was rapidly warming the snow and it was the perfect 32+ degree slope.

We made it to the summit ridge in about an hour from our transition to skins. Traveling along the summit ridge we wanted to explore our options. And options there were! Several north facing shots had our attention, some with hang fire cornices, some with roll over entries - with this seasons instability we decided to go for one of the safer options, an easily entered shot to the east of the summit.

Looking north we realized we were going into the dark side, not to return to the suns warmth for the remainder of the day. I pulled every layer from my pack and layered it on like a wedding cake, chugged the rest of the soup from my thermos and said goodbye to my warm toes.

The ski was ridiculous fun. We decided not to diddle around looking for the all mighty arch and just ski the shots that were readily present, and we were happy with out decision as we believe the actual skiing was better, aesthetics aside. 

And then it got cold. We reached the creek and knew the remainder of the day wasn't going to be the most fun. Moving downhill along the creeks edge it took about 20 minutes before we had to transition back to skinning and decide whether it was up and over Tensleep Bowl or the gauntlet of a side step out of Granite. I strongly voted for the Tensleep Bowl up and over and we headed for the hills.

It took a lot longer than I thought it might and we were all having minor melty's (melt-e, noun, to have a melt down) along the way. The hunger level was high, our hands kept burn/freezing and energy was dwindling. I threw on some jams and found a happy place in trying to stay warm and occasionally munching on my snickers bar in my pocket. Up over and around the boulder field, we made it back to the resort boundaries just before 5pm when the sun was setting into the distance.

 

2016-01-10 16.48.04.jpg

Layering Tips Tricks & Hints

Its hard to always be prepared for intense temperature variants but I have slowly learned a system that works for me when I know I am going to be in the elements all day. It does take some practice so don't think you will get it right on your first outing, or your 20th for that matter. I still learn new ways to layer each and every time I go for a tour. If you are just starting out here are some of my favorite pieces and tidbits of information I have learned.

1. Wool vs Synthetic Baselayers

They, believe it or not, aren't the same. Until this year I had always worn synthetic and after my first day in my Smartwool 250 baselayers (I went with the thicker weight, as I am inevitably cold) I could tell a huge difference and I'm not just talking smell. My body temperature is more easily regulated, when I start exerting energy on the uphill I don't get creepy crawly hot and I don't freeze as soon as I stop. Wool also keeps you warmer than synthetics, even at a lighter weight - key for me, as again, I run cold.

2. Mid-Layer with a HOOD!

I always also wear a mid-layer, most of the time even when I'm skinning, by this I don't mean a puffy or insulation layer but a waffled thermo layer. Most popular the Patagonia R1 or the Marmot Thermo - I'm a fan of it always being hooded. The hood allows me to even further regulate my temperature of hot/cold or prevent the wind from getting to my neck/ears.

3. Marshmallow PUFF Synthetic vs. Down

Always keep a puffy in your pack, it could save your life. There are great synthetic and down options, and a lot of the decision between the two might depend on where you live. Wet climate? Synthetic. Dry/Cold Climate? Down. Synthetics will still keep you warm if you get wet (or sweat a lot), where down is more likely to keep you warm in a dry scenario. Luckily, living in the Tetons, it's mostly dry and cold in the winter so I go for the down, as it is lighter weight and warmer.

My favorite? The Quasar Hoody from Marmot.

4. Breathable Wind Protection for the Up!

Up and away! You get warm walking up big mountains, but sometimes the wind is whipping and then you get cold. Enters breathable wind protection. A wind breaker that still breaths, it won't protect you from rain or wet snow, but it will shed the dry snow.

My favorites:  

 

 

5. Pockets for Snacks - Also known as Pants.

Since you can't really undress and redress the bottom half, you have to find the right pair of pants with pockets in all the right places. You will most likely be keeping lots of items in those pockets from your iPhone (for photos, duh), GU's, pretzels, nuts, ski straps, perhaps your beacon, chapstick - what else? Vents in the right places are key as well.

My favorites? 

 

Shop my favorites:


Do you have any pieces you can't live without? 

Franc.

A decided goal for the summer between my other half and I was that we would do more regional exploration.  Living in Jackson we forget that we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful small towns in the country. With Yellowstone National Park spanning the north-eastern corner of our square state and nameless National Forests throughout, we wanted to see more than just the Tetons. 

So, a few weeks ago we set off to Cody, Wyoming starting at the southern entrance to Yellowstone and making our way to the northern entrance with the idea to

  1. Climb the highest peak in the Absaroka Range [Franc's Peak at 13,158 ft]
  2. Mountain bike Cody
  3. Visit Singletrack Spirits

Check, Check, and Check.

Here is the story of Franc.

 

After driving through Yellowstone we decided that the northern entrance is way more visually pleasing and that we were ready for beer.

Arriving in Cody our first stop was Sunlight Sports. One of the cooler small town outdoor shops I've been in with all of their own photos slathering the walls, a great open display and lots of unique camping gadgets. Not to mention their extensive map collection... with the exception of not having the map we needed, it was a really impressive store.

Cue wild goose chase for map. Saying f'you to the map after 45 minutes of no luck we landed at the Millstone Brewery for ample "small town" people watching, several 22oz Fresh Squeezed IPA's for a whopping $5.50 and some wings dripping in the classic buffalo sauce. [buzzzzz]

Once hydrated it was off to "base camp" for the next two nights. We decided since we had limited time and a very high clearance 4WD truck we would take the road that brought you to the closest trailhead via the Phelps Mountain Road. [Directions are here although not the best].

The the truck parked at 1,100ft in a beautiful meadow basin surrounded by Franc's and his foothills we set in for a blustery evening. Winds of what must have been 50mph+ persisted consistently throughout the night shaking our F350 and forcing us to cook in the camper shell.

When we woke in the morning the wind had yet to change and we began to think it was a wasted effort to even find the trailhead. After taking our time cooking absurd amounts of bacon and simply potatoes we decided to just go for it and if the wind was too strong we'd turn around.

With our hoods cinched down we let the wind bitch slap us in the face for the first 45 minutes. Thankfully it progressively got better as we weaved up ridges and around rock outcroppings 

2.5 hours later and we had two short but steep climbs remaining. Being in the middle of the Shoshone National Forrest, we knew we were in for a bear treat or two.

IMG_7141.JPG

Once we turned the corner of a rock outcrop here we saw our first big daddy grizz in Jack Creek to the north. Far enough away that he was harmless we kept an eye but didn't think twice. Minutes later we noticed another daddy grizz startled and running in the opposite direction, hmm. 

200 vertical feet from the summit we peered back into Jack Creek to spot daddy grizz #1. Moments later Brady was telling me to turn around slowly and I found us staring directly into momma grizz's eyes with 3 littles ones and a yearling on her heals.

I coached myself through breathing, Brady soothed momma bear away. Fortunately for us she was too busy trying to rid herself from her yearling to care about some humans stumbling upon her. After watching some serious Nat Geo bear talk go down for 20 minutes we decided it was safer to descend on our ascension route than to walk the remaining 200 vertical feet to the summit.

Sometimes you just have to turn around.

Shop the gear that got us there: