Friday, April 27, 2018

Nepali Runner Bhim Gurung Ready to Take Over the World

A few years back I asked, "Where are the Tibetan Marathoners?" There have been shocks to the long-distance world when formerly isolated but innately genetically gifted groups of people started competing - first East African highlanders, and more recently Raramuri from Mexico's northern highlands (of "Born to Run" fame.) The adaptations of living at high altitude for many generations, plus limited access to roads, naturally produces gifted endurance athletes. So where are the Tibetans?

Well guess what! Here comes Bhim Gurung. He's already blowing away Kilian Jornet's records in Europe. American ultra stars, take notice! Soon he will be here burning up the Western States Trail and the Hardrock 100 and who knows what else.

And one last thing - I should still get partial credit for the fulfillment of my prophecy dammit, because although I predicted the appearance of a Tibetan (not Nepali) ultra-running beast, what counts is genes, not passport - and surprise, this guy happens to be from a group of people in north-central Nepal closely related to Tibetans and who speak a Tibeto-Burman language. And I'm sure there will be more where he came from! That's one of the things I love about distance and especially trail racing - competitors can arise from anywhere, and no one group ever really owns the sport. (Image of Gurung below from, Matterhorn in background.)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring in Northern California Remains Underrated

Just out on the last few miles of the Western States Trail near the confluence in Auburn on a fantastic spring day.

Compare - above, April and below, October.

English Moonbat Rides Bike Around the World

Seriously. These numbskulls are just coming in the windows these days aren't they (more here.) And he ALSO likes Black Sabbath, so you know there's a problem. Tim Millikin rode from Reading, England to Reading, Pennsylvania using the path you see below. The journalist didn't ask some of the obvious questions, such as 1) Is he on drugs and 2) What drugs is he on. And to end at Reading, PA...well I guess he wanted to make sure he wouldn't be sad to go back home! (Just kidding Tim and Reading, PA.)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Euchre Bar, North Fork American River, Tahoe National Forest

The trail down to the river is not long - only about 1.5 miles - but in that distance you lose almost 2000'. You notice this, to put it mildly, going both directions. At the bottom there's an old suspension bridge and the remnants of old mining operations in the form of twisted rusted scrap metal and the odd stone platform. At ten in the morning the sun was just starting to make it over the canyon rim into the river. There was dew on the bridge and I couldn't understand why there would be so much down there or why moisture loving plants would enjoy the spot (they're high enough above the water not to receive any spray.) Not long ago I had gone up there to check it out but it was muddy enough that I thought a super steep trail would not be the best thing to do that day. It sure did look different a month ago!

As an aside: From the top of the canyon I could see a snowy peak looking upriver that looked suspiciously like Granite Chief from the back. Looking at Google Earth later, it absolutely could be (26.5 air miles away.) This also led me to actally look at numbers for something I'd long wondered about - the average ratio between air miles, road miles and trail miles. Looks like straight-line air miles distance is usually about half the trail distance, with the road miles being in between but significantly closer to the straight line distance. I guess in cases where you're going through just as much mountains as the trail - ie along the Western States - the road distance relative to trail is the highest.

Trail% Air% Drive% Trail
Western States 5075(100)
Pacific Crest 4457(100)
Appalachian 5162(100)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Chilnualna Falls, Yosemite

I was at Tenaya Lodge for a conference and realized I had never been to this part of the park before. Just inside the Route 41 entrance in the Wawona area is this trailhead. A spring pineapple express had come through which was a bit of a dud relative to the forecasts but was enough to close Yosemite Valley further north, and get the falls really roaring. In 20 years of going to Yosemite I had never even heard of these falls, much less been to them. The Sierras continue to be full of surprises. The trail is a "short and sweet" 8.4 miles RT with 2400' gain, which works out to about an 11% average grade. Oddly only right at the start of the trails next to the lower falls is there any kind of exposure. Only downside, I didn't see much wildlife except of course swallows in the mistiest part of the falls (who eat the bugs that stay around all the humidity) and the night before, either a fox or ringtail run across the road when I was out for a walk.

Above, looking across the chasm, the mist from the falls is visible. Below, looking down into it from near the dropoff; deep enough that you can't see the fall itself.

Above, where the water goes off the edge; below, there's yet another fall right above it. And it turns out in some kind of MC Escher or fractal thing, another one behind that, but this was enough for me.

Above, streams cascading over the Sierra granite where they probably are usually not. Although the sky was perfect blue the trail was noticeably muddier on the descent as all that rain from the day before got to the lower elevations. Below, it's not a real hike unless you get to the snow line (or 10,000'.)

And then of course some more from the top.

Videos from the falls right at the start of the trail: