Rainier igen

Då hände det igen. Jag packade och travade upp för Rainier bara för att behöva stanna och vända. Precis som sist fast ännu lite värre. Eller bättre, beroende på hur man ser det. Är det målet eller resan dit som är det viktiga? Den här sommaren har resan varit lång, upp och ner och upp och ner men ändå inte riktigt hela vägen upp.

Rainier 2 blev en tripp att minnas. Det började bra, bara några dagar innan den stora händelsen. Jag fick turen att få en återbudsplats i sista minuten. Vem kan säga nej till det? Jag rasslade upp mig och plockade fram ryggsäcken och diverse prylar för att göra mig färdig dagen innan. Jag fixade det jag saknade och slimmade packningen och drog ner några kilo sen sist. Jag börjar bli expert. För sisådär en vecka sedan var det dags för utrustningskontroll, samma dag som jag fyllde 46. Jag har haft ett slags mål i huvudet under en tid tillbaka. Målet har varit att avsluta alla kraftfulla och överdrivet svettfyllda aktiviteter och äventyr när jag blev 45. Det gick åt pipan. Jag har tvekat och sagt nej till diverse högtflygande tävlingar och annat skoj det sista året. Men inte kan jag väl lämna Rainierklättringsutmaningen 45 minuter från toppen?

Mitten av september är inte direkt den ultimata tiden på året att hasa sig upp med sina stegjärn på bootsen, repet inklippat i selen och ryggsäcken på ryggen. Efter en oerhört varm sommar i PNW har sprickorna blivit massiva och berget visar otroligt stor påverkan från ett alltmer stressat klimat. Vad gör man, inte tackar man nej för att vädret kan vara besvärligt. Tvärtom.

Det började finfint. Blommorna blommade och fåglarna kvittrade. Det var lite småkyligt två timmar in och sedan kom vi fram till Pebble creek som var en sprudlande fors som var svår att korsa utan att få blöta kängor för en månad sedan, men som nu var nästan helt uttorkad. Därifrån låg snön kall och ovanligt frusen. Det frös på snabbt och så fort det var dags för en paus så åkte dunjackan och de stora vantarna på. Väl framme på Camp Muir på 10000ft så såg vi knappt handen framför oss. Vinden ven och snön flög i luften. Efter att ha varit där ett antal gånger de senaste åren var det inte speciellt svårt att lista ut att toppen som låg gömd bakom ett kraftigt och argt moln, inte skulle bli alltför lätt att nå, om ens möjlig att nå, på grund av kraftigt snöfall och vindar som jag aldrig tidigare har upplevt. Vi var sex deltagare och fyra guider. Medan guiderna smälte snö och funderade på vädret så fick vi andra chansen att lära känna varandra en aning. Alla utom jag hade flugit in till Seattle från andra delar av landet. Alla andra var män. Alla andra hade en helt galet orealistisk uppfattning om hur man klättrar ett berg i vansinnigt väder.

Vi åt middag och kröp ner i våra sovsäckar. Om någon sov vet jag inte riktigt. Det var lite liv och rörelse under natten både ute och inne. En annan grupp gav sig av mot toppen sen kväll för att återvända nerkylda och eländiga fyra timmar senare. Vinden slog mot väggen och visslade i takt med snön som föll tungt. När vi öppnade dörren till det som är ett oisolerat 100 år gammalt skjul kl 6.30 på lördag morgon var det snö upp till axelhöjd framför dörren. Ompackning, what if prat och vad sjutton nu då kommentarer och så knatade vi över till guidetältet med packningen på ryggen. Ansiktet täckt av en buff för att vinden gjorde att jag inte kunde andas. Skidglasögon på, fyrdubbla lager byxor och alla tre jackor på. Tacksam att jag hade hyrt byxor och jacka i Himalayastil för att ha över mina egna vinterkläder.

Frukost och väderprat. Det såg illa ut. Jag fick chansen att prata själv med en av guiderna som jag lärde känna vid första klättringen, en supersherpa som är chef på Everest och har klättrat och guidat alla världens toppar. Vi stod ute och tittade åt det väderstreck där toppen en gång syntes. Jag fick ett ärligt besked om att han skulle ge det 1% chans att toppa om vädret la sig. Vi blickade mot himlen och andades in. Vi konstaterade att vi skulle ju få chansen att ses igen nästa år vilket vi såg fram emot båda två.

Tre av männen packade ihop och kände att det var för mycket spänning för dem. De ville hem, fortare än kvickt. Detta var ju oerhört läskigt och inte det de förväntat sig. De blev evakuerade för en bunt dollar tillsammans med en av guiderna. Det betydde att de fick sakta gå ner i blåsten utan sikt över snöfälten. Timmar av långsam promenad. Jag övervägde en snabb exit, jag kanske borde hänga med ner? Men när jag steg ut utanför tältet insåg jag att jag skulle lida betydligt mer i blåsten på vägen ner än vad jag skulle göra mitt på berget, i blåsten, mitt i hela härligheten.

Två av guiderna blev uppskickade till Ingraham Glacier där man sover några timmar i tält innan den sista klättringen mot toppen börjar. Efter halva dagen kom de tillbaka med andan i halsen. De hade monterat ner camp, tälten var nergrävda i ett hål och de konstaterade att de hade hasat fram i snö som kom upp hela vägen i axelhöjd. Vi skulle vänta in vädret och se om vinden la sig och snön slutade falla.

Vi roade oss på glaciären, drack kaffe, käkade Snickers och funderade på framtiden. Jag fiskade fram en halvfrusen bit av kladdkakan från födelsedagsmiddagen för två dagar sedan. Ytterligheter. Då var brasan tänd och hunden låg och kokade framför. Nu trodde jag fingrarna skulle ramla av när jag försökte vira ut kakan ur plasten. Det är gott med halvfrusen, tillplattad kaka. Livets små stunder. Jag har blivit bäst på att packa mat till tävlingar och äventyr, det är ju kul att jag har lärt mig något genom åren av skogsknatande och farande i floder. Jag lägger till det på mitt CV, matsäcksexpert för flerdygnsäventyr som inte får väga något men ska innehålla tusentals kalorier.

Vi fick höra timmar av Everesthistorier och knasigheter från klättringar runt om i världen. Tillslut packade vi ihop oss i sovsäckarna, lade på rad och bestämde att vi skulle gå upp 5 för att förhoppningsvis kunna ta oss uppåt. De hade fått kontakt med några guider som var på väg upp för att gå före oss och leta en ny led eftersom hela berget hade fått ett nytt täcke av några meter tung snö över raviner, sprickor, sten och is.

Före 5 på morgonen ramlade det in en istäckt man som satte igång gasen för att koka vatten och diskutera dagen. Det var inte tal om att ens göra ett försök upp till högre höjd. Tillsammans konstaterade de att det inte fanns en chans att ens ta sig förbi Disappointment Cleaver. Med den förra klättringen färsk i minnet kunde jag inte annat än att hålla med. Jag ville inte upp där utan att se var fötterna hamnade under snön. Det är sand och sten som glider medan man försöker hålla sig mot väggen och inte ramla ner tillsammans med de man sitter ihop med. Något lättad av beslutet men ändå ganska besviken.

Förmiddagen gick och vi tog oss till från tältet till Camp Muir och sedan i häftigt guidetempo ner till Paradise. Det här var killarna som flög ner i djup snö med en 100l rygga på. Det såg ut som de gled ner på skidor men de hade boots precis som jag. Det var bara att flyga med i hastigt tempo och jag har aldrig tagit mig ner därifrån så fort. Vi körde vidare mot Ashford där vi åt Nepalesisk mat hos mannen som har rekordet i snabbast Everestsummit genom tiderna. En vän till mina nya vänner. Ännu en upplevelse att minnas.

Hur är det då efter ett andra försök? Jag väntade på att någon form av besvikelse skulle komma över mig i form av hopplöshet och jävlaskitberg. Men nej. Visst är det lite trist men nu får jag ju en anledning att göra om det nästa år. Jag hade några otroliga trevliga dygn med guiderna. Jag fick uppleva ett väder som jag definitivt inte hade förväntat mig och jag blev inkluderad i deras funderingar och diskussioner om hur vi skulle gå tillväga. Det var också länge sedan jag frös något så otroligt mycket. Mt Rainier är högt och ibland väldigt hopplöst svårt att navigera. Jag förstår att människor kommer bort, går fel och gör stora misstag även när vädret är fint. Och jag är oerhört tacksam att jag hade några riktigt rutinerade rävar med mig.

På återseende

 

Mt Rainier

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you light up every time the mountain is out. Mt Rainier, the majestic snow-covered mountain. Beautiful, scary, mysterious and wonderful. 14410ft/4392m. It’s a long climb, a grueling climb. It’s hot at first, then cold, wet, windy, slushy and difficult. Everything you can imagine. But what a great adventure. I gave it a try with a group of friends and guides, and we started out well packed, trained and rested one early morning. The first day was for me a relatively easy climb to Camp Muir at 10,000 ft. Nothing new, it’s a long haul up the snowfield with a very heavy pack on your back. We got settled, rolled out our sleeping bags, stretched out or legs and met up with our guides for dinner. We talked about the next day and went to bed early. I woke up feeling slightly ill, with a headache and a bit dehydrated. Nothing new, altitude gets you one way or another.

We all ate breakfast together, amazing food that the two Sherpas cooked us in their little tent. We spent the rest of the morning checking gear, practicing self-arrest and trying out our crampons. It was good to refresh our minds on what we had in store, I felt comfortable and ready for what was ahead. I honestly love the snow. The weather was perfect: blue skies, white snow, a gorgeous view of Adams, Helens and Hood. It can’t get better than this.        

We roped up mid-day and started the climb over Cowlitz Glacier, the Cathedral Gap to the Ingraham Glacier. It’s a relatively short climb but for some a new experience. Suddenly you get to experience what it is going to be like to get to the top. The environment, the elements. And I think it was scary for some in our group.

We took it easy for a while, rested in our tents, hung out and chatted, organized our packs for the next climb, had dinner and went to bed early. We all tried to get some sleep but for me it was a few restless, chilly hours.   

We got the wakeup call around midnight. The sky full of stars and absolutely breathtaking. You’re on top of the world, time stops for a while. It’s an amazing feeling, it is so quiet and majestic.

This last climb is hard. We start out scrambling for a long time up Disappointment Cleaver. The terrain is interesting. It’s tough, scary, high, everything you can imagine. Loose rocks and sand, one wrong step and you fly, dragging your ropeteam with you. The rocks turn to ice and it feels easier to walk again. About 90 min in we get a few minutes rest before heading up and I feel great. It’s dark and the sky is showing off all its glory and the only thing you can hear is a bit of cracking from the ice. We are doing great on time and we all look good and rested. We keep on climbing; the guide is trying to find a route that works. We climb and climb, one step at the time, up and up. Over crevasses, over ice and snow. Steep and slippery, on the edge of the world.

It’s been a long and hot summer in the Pacific Northwest. The mountain is melting fast and the crevasses changes every day which makes it really hard to find a good route to the summit. The mountain is not in good shape, and it’s truly scary and dangerous how much the climate can change. We move forward and up until we reach a ladder placed over a deep crevasse. We wait while our guide tries to make it more secure and then we begin to crawl over, finally moving on one step at the time, up and up. After walking on a very narrow ice ridge, we reach another ladder and our guide begins to again work to make it safe. We are getting closer to the summit, at High Break. We try to keep warm, putting our parkas on and moving around but standing still since there’s no place to move really. After what feels like an hour, our two guides decide that its too dangerous to move on. Too many ice falls have occurred and the ice surrounding the ladder has begun to melt. We are ok for now, but they feel that it’s too big of a risk to climb back down if we summit. We pick up our things and begin the ascent downwards. The group becomes kind of quiet and collected. It’s a big disappointment but when you’re in that position, there’s nothing you can do. The guides make the decisions. We start to walk and climb back to camp. We move fast, without talking with just short water breaks. The sun comes up and once again the sky looks absolutely amazing.

We reach camp, take our boots off and take a short nap before packing up. We still have a long way to go to Camp Muir and then all the way down to the car. It takes most of the day, giving us plenty of time to think and process what happened.

Despite not making the summit, close but not all the way up, I felt content. I had a lot more to give and training really does pay off. But best of all, I had great company and incredible rope partners.  

Mt Rainier… next time…

 

 

 

Summer ’16

Long time since last…A whole summer passed. The grass is dry and light brown, the apples are ripe and blackberries are falling off leaving a bluish trace on the ground. Kids are around, working a little, sleeping, hanging out. We have been out and about every now and then, some hiking, swimming, packed lunch and coffee thermos, lazy summer days. I developed a little Molly Moon obsession over the summer and if you want to make me happy bring me a pint of Earl Grey ice cream with some sprinkles. We drove over to one of our favorite spots in Washington, on the Olympic peninsula. Said hi to a couple of mountain goats, deer and squirrels. Picked some blueberries and lavender, hiked around, ate good food and felt the wind in our hair riding the ferry. Seattle is beautiful this time of year; summers here are great. It’s bittersweet, staying home is great but we are so missing our other home.

I go by the name Joan at home after a day at Alki. I bought a cup of coffee at Sbux and the barista asked for my name. Charlotte obviously sounds like Joan.

 

I had a few races to look forward to this summer but I missed the first and will miss the next too. Let’s just say it’s not my season but I have a feeling 2017 will be a great year in many ways. I had the opportunity to join a team for a Ragnar Relay here in Washington in July. Kind of a last minute decision that turned out really well. I met some really nice people and ran my fastest miles in a long time. Well fastest in years actually and it was fun while it lasted. A weekend of no sleep, running in the dark and lots of fun. But I really miss adventure racing and I have to admit that I hope something big will happen sooner than later. My feet look way too pretty and I have no new scars on my body so it must be time for something grande. I had the opportunity to meet up with friends and hike up to Base Camp Muir on Mt Rainier a few weeks ago. A hike to 10000ft, gorgeous wildflowers, meadows, snow, ice and sunshine. The mountain was cracking and rumbling. A fantastic experience, absolutely gorgeous and wild. It was a speedy walk up and an even faster glissading down. I can’t wait to do it again and maybe all the way up next time.

 

School is almost here… we have missed you… not at all. I have started the process of signing papers. No joke. Concussion tests, medical history, medication in school, vaccinations (date for the last Tdap? Who knows when you have 3 kids) It’s easier to slip in something illegal than an EpiPen to a high school. We had the first incident in a long time a few weeks ago, so we kind of know it’s still well needed. Three kids, three different schools. I haven’t figured out how we all will get around in three cars and who’s going to bike or take the bus.

Are we tired of the Olympics yet? No, not at all. But the mix in Seahawks pre-season and Mariners day long games kind of gets me. Let me just finish Rio first before all the other stuff continues. And volleyball try outs starts next week…have mercy.

Joan

 

June

7 loads of laundry and lawn moving, that is what this month’s last day consisted of. June, a month of craziness. It started out with a big graduation. Johanna got her cap and gown, we saw her on the big screen at Key Arena and all her cords of excellence shone in the camera flashes. A very proud moment for her and us. And I have to brag a little bit, top 10%, with honors. We had family visiting for the first two weeks of the month that were also the last days of school for the kids. Off to Bend, OR for a climbing competition for a few days. Stuffy nose, fever and all over achy but had a really nice time with Caroline. It’s a long drive for a few days but well worth it. We stayed at a nice place and ate really good food. The food trucks in Bend are worth a visit.

Back home, unpacked the puffy coat and packed shorts and volleyball gear and off to Orlando, FL. Jo’s last tournament as a volleyball player. Brjann coaching and the rest of us as supporters and team chauffeur/chaperone. Over 2200 teams from around the country and the world playing. 98 degrees and asphalt melting. It’s just too much. And we didn’t get to see any alligators this time. The supporter crew ran between games and Universal Studios, cheering on the team and riding rollercoasters in heat. We opted for the water rides and walked around in wet clothes most of the time. The new Harry Potter area was actually amazing if you are a fan and we spent endless time there. Still a stuffy nose, fever and achy. After little bit over a week at the number one retirement state, two flew to Anaheim, CA for another tournament and the rest of us had another day of heat and midnight burgers and then we flew the team home to Seattle, WA. We got a bit teary and sentimental when we got home, two kids and I. It’s a really great group of kids. It felt good breathing crisp air, the skyline is beautiful and the mountains look inviting. And here we are.

The kids that are back home are sleeping and climbing, enjoying the first few days without school and sleeping in their own beds. Three family members at home, three cars, we all have our freedom back. I am still trying to cure my cold after three weeks, catching up, cleaning my mailbox after a month of other commitments, making phone calls, doing some yardwork and baking. The tomato plants barely survived, grapes are growing and the grass is thriving. Its race time in two weeks and I have trouble breathing. I am running one mile at the time, literally. I run one mile in the slowest pace possible. How do you get your breath back after a cold?

What else? Nothing mucho.

And I forgot to post this. Another week passed and the cold is almost gone, the tomatoes are thriving and blackberries are getting darker and juicier. We are eagerly waiting for nicer weather and for getting into the summer feeling. We haven’t really seen the sun in days and we are heating up around the grill at night pretending its summer.

 

March

My finger hovers over the mouse these days, I don’t seem to be able to post anything, unable to click.

Back from a long weekend of double tournaments in Spokane, the extraordinary city in the eastern part of Washington. I love to pack up the car and drive far. It seems like I am the only one in the family. One kid staying at one hotel and playing downtown, and the other kid staying at another hotel and playing at another arena. The car going back and forth, early mornings and late nights. Cracked the windshield the first day, not a good start. Add on a ton of bad food, lack of sleep, and sore bodies. Tournaments are tough for kids. It doesn’t matter how fun it is or how well you play, it’s intense. It’s a team effort. Rough patches in sports can feel like opening your heart to someone who doesn’t love you back. A long tournament really sucks the energy out of both kids and adults. Monday comes, the week goes on and the whole family is left with a hangover. The kids came home wanting real food, they are like super humans with metabolisms like Spiderman.

We came back to sad news from Brussels. Once again terrorism strikes Europe. I am grateful that friends living in Brussels checked in on Facebook. It’s difficult to understand, and maybe we don’t want to understand. Anger and sadness, and feeling helpless. Terrorists getting too close. Disturbing peace and trying to mess with our everyday life’s. The heart of Europe that was my hometown for a short time in the 90s. Je suis sick of this shit! And I follow the news from here and it seems so far away. I hear the kids talk about Belgium and their friends don’t know if it close to France or Russia, and that worries me. The world is growing smaller and closer yet some countries live outside and far away. Where is the center of the world? Trump worries me. A lot of things make me worried. And angry. And sad. It’s even more important to vote for a person capable of running a big country in a world in stress.

I’ve been following a debate in the Swedish news the past weeks. If they should allow only women a few hours per day at pools. There has been incidents were men get too close, men that can’t handle seeing women swimming with lighter clothes on. And women that swims covered with clothes believes that they should be able to swim with only women. This worries me too. It has taken a long time to get where we are now. Women’s rights, equal rights, men and women, voting, equal pay, maternity and paternity leave. Why? No. Equal. Think about it. At first I felt that the women should have their hours for themselves but when I actually thought about it… no. I don’t think it is right. We are different. If there are men that can’t handle it, move on. We swim, live, work, run…together. Don’t ruin decades of work. Men and women are different but we live under the same sun.

And as always…a training update. I try. I really do try. I am not really a Marvel superhero at the moment, not even trying to act a part. But I am healthy, balanced and pretty strong. Maybe that is good enough. I am trying to build the machine, feed the flame with firewood. But sometimes it’s not all that fun. That’s where I am now, at the intersection of I’m putting in 2 hours per day and not feeling it. I complain in my head before I run. I hear myself take deep breaths, of boredom. I can’t help it. I need something to look forward to, something impossible and beautiful. Mud, rain, wind and some snow. It builds character. You want to look forward to a warm shower. You want to look up at a mountaintop with a pumping heart and tired legs feeling overwhelmed and saying to yourself – Hey, it looks pretty gnarly but think of the view at the top. At the intersection of pushing your limits and experiencing joy is where the magic happens. I need to find that check point on the map. It’s close, I am sure. And goddammit, I really want to be fast again.

We have two scary opossums in our backyard. A man and a woman. We have even seen some opossum porn and it was not very nice. Rabbits, birds, dear, raccoons… you are all welcome. But opossums. Holy crap. Have you seen the teeth? And the tail? Just sayin’. I am more scared of opossums than bears. I sing every time I take the trash out.

Come fly with me

Some of us are on vacation or home, it’s difficult to know really. Home or away from home, who knows anymore. We live out of suitcases so I guess it’s vacation. A lot of things have changed since last time. And a lot of things have changed since we moved. I can’t always say what it is but it’s different. Maybe it’s us. Uppsala feels a lot smaller and everything feels close. A walk downtown took forever 15 years ago, now it takes me less than 15 minutes. A run around the closest trail is done in 20 minutes, very frustrating, that’s just a warm up.

The flight over had no surprises really, just plain boring. I think I might have grown since last time, it felt like I didn’t have any space for my legs. We had a few hours in Amsterdam and had the opportunity to listen to people speaking Dutch. I didn’t understand a word so I really had to listen up and concentrate. How can your brain shut off like this. It’s been 20 years or so since I said a word in Flemish or Dutch but how can I forget everything? And how can it be 20 years? The only words I can think of is schaar and fiets. It feels like yesterday when I walked the foggy streets of Leuven and bumped into the prince of Belgium.

And a small cappuccino in Holland is not the same as a small cappuccino in Seattle. I think I’ve been away for too long. One sip and it’s empty.

https://open.spotify.com/track/4hHbeIIKO5Y5uLyIEbY9Gn

It didn’t take us long to adjust this time. I think the kids felt ready to be full time Swedes on the flight over. But the weirdest thing is when people address us in English in stores and on the street. Do we look different? I had to explain that I speak Swedish in a store in Stockholm and the woman behind the counter looked surprised. What is it that makes us different? The hair, the clean faces with no makeup, (we are on vacation and I couldn’t care less) the clothes? It’s very obvious that some things are very popular here and not at home. Swedes love Polo Ralph Lauren in bright colors, Abercrombie and Fitch (ouch) and Converse, it doesn’t matter if you are 10 or 65. Let’s just say that I don’t think you should walk into a A&F store if you are over 18. And no short, skinny, colorful pants on men.

The first week passed really quick. Dinners, fika and some reading time. My plan to visit every CrossFit gym around is not working that well. I can’t wear shoes because of my toe and I still can’t use my right arm/shoulder because it’s in a weird way frozen and out of place. I’ve been squeezing my toe into a pair of shoes and have tried to run as far as I can without shooting pain. My longest run so far – 50 minutes. And it only lasted that long because I had to run back home. It can only get better.

So, what changed since last time.

The grocery stores are overflowing with new dairy products and apparently lots of people think it’s very healthy to eat kvarg (curd cheese or quark) It was called kesella a few years ago but to make it more trendy someone renamed it and did some clever marketing.

There are hundreds of different yogurts. Who eats all the different kinds and when?

The bread section is overflowing but I hear people complain about the lousy bread in regular grocery stores. It’s not comparable to the terrible bread in the US. I am overeating bread with extra everything.

Roast beef, cheese, ham, sausage, salami… so much more flavor.

All the roundabouts?? What’s up with those? I’m driving in circles!

IKEA is actually nice here. IKEA Seattle should really take an educational trip to a proper Swedish store. I almost bought a sofa and chair but realized that I don’t own a house here anymore.

A lot of people, young and old, throw in a couple of English words in a normal conversation. And add some bad words too. Shit, vi hade så kul. Oh my god, så jävla bra. Stop doing that, it makes you sound a little bit stupid.

Since when do Swedes say “Have a nice day”? I’ve heard “Ha en bra dag rå” in every store in Uppsala I’ve been in. No, no, no, it sounds ridiculous in Swedish.

And I still get the question “when are you moving back home?” every day. We are not moving back anytime soon. And yes, we live a normal life “over there”. We work, eat, sleep and read the newspaper. It’s the same as here but different. Very different. And I am happy that I get to enjoy both worlds.

I am not travelling with kids anymore. They are officially adults. I have stopped counting kids every time we stop somewhere and I actually want them to do things on their own. It’s up to them if they want to join me or if they want to do something else. I am happy to say that they usually want to join me. Former summers’ constant chaos and jetlag that made me wish for a cyanide pellet is gone. One nice things is that we don’t have phones. And that seems to make people around us more frustrated than we are.

Highlight so far, a visit at a moose park. Flashback to Alaska but less wild.

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Body and injuries …or how to age 25 years in a week

We ate, we moved and we actually avoided injuries. Nothing really bad happened. But even if nothing happens your body feels torn and achy after a week. Eric took a big fall on the bike but shook it off. It resulted in a huge bruise on the hip. It took a few hours to fix the bike in the middle of the night but after that he kept going. He fell down a steep hill and was lucky to hit a boulder that stopped him. He basically disappeared in the darkness. I took a couple of falls on the bike but nothing that hurt. It was tipping over because I fell asleep riding. One of those things that happens when you don’t sleep.

Feet: You can imagine what happens when your feet are wet for 7 days straight. We had our first river crossing 12 miles into the race, I got wet up to my waste. I went through 20 pairs of wool socks in 7 days but the socks never stayed dry more than 5 minutes. Crossing the glacier in ice and snow took us close to 2 days of walking and climbing. I had cold feet from the first step and got hypothermic the first night. When I finally took my boots off after 2 days my toes had changed color and shape. 4 days into the race I had blisters on every toe and around my heals but it was not as bad as I thought it would be. My toes and feet are still numb and I am on my second round of antibiotics for an infection. I still have trouble wearing shoes, but I finally got a pair of runners on and got a few miles in. I have a big toe that looks yummy.

Fingers/Hands: Bushwhacking in Alaska is not so different from bushwhacking in Washington. The only difference is probably the huge Devils Club that goes through everything, even gardening gloves. I had a bad infection under my fingernails from all the thorns when I returned home and my hands were covered in tiny blisters. It only took a few days to clear it up with penicillin but I am still completely numb and very clumsy.

Lungs: Got a lot of water in my lungs after the pack raft got caught in a strainer upside down. And a sore throat and stuffed up sinuses. Still working on that.

Hips: Completely seized up before the 70 mile bike. It was so painful to walk but if I managed to get up on the bike, and I was fine. Overload of pills for the last 3 days of the race. I still can’t lift my left leg and it looks like I’m 85 when I get in the car.

Shoulder: I had no strength in my right arm when I paddled the last days but could not really figure out what it was. Realized when I got home that it popped a little bit out of place. It’s now completely frozen and my shoulder blade points out. I can’t even lift a milk carton out of the fridge or hold it straight out. And my strategy has been to wait it out… it’s not working that well.

Bruises: All over the body from bumping in to rocks, ice, trees, falling, tipping over…

Tailbone: Coming down the glacier included a really steep climb down tundra and a bushwhack in the dark. I managed to glide and fall a few times which resulted in a very sore tailbone. We were all happy we still carried our ice axes for self-rescue gliding on the grass. I crushed my tailbone a few years ago and got the same feeling this time, including the bleeding part. Biking and paddling did not feel comfortable.

I will bring more socks and shoes next time. Even if they get wet it’s a nice feeling to put on dry shoes.

I think we all did well with clothes. I wore double jackets a few days and sometimes even triple. I even wore my down coat under my dry suite a few times. Glacier water is cold. I would bring one more down coat for the TA next time and one more sleeping bag to keep in my bin.

So, it’s overall pretty good. Nothing broken this time but lots of stuff to heal. It’s been nearly two weeks since I left Alaska and I think it’s the first time in years I don’t feel like working out. But if I had a bike around I would probably go for a ride. I’ve been out running the last 3 days, short runs. Lots of compresses and tape on my toe and roomy pair of shoes. I don’t feel tired, it’s easy breathing 8 minute miles but my body feels torn. I think it’s time to sign up for a new race to get the mojo back.