June 28, 2015

Bloomington Lake Trail Run 2015

I have been fortunate enough to have ran trails in some beautiful country, none more beautiful than those in my own back yard. My Dad and my Grandpa shared with me their love for the mountains on the west side of Bear Lake Valley. It is one of my favorite things, to share my love for those same mountains with my friends. The night before our run, as I thought about our run up to Bloomington Lake, I wondered about what I was doing. This is my favorite trail run, but it is fairly long, and very difficult. What kind of warped individual could possibly appreciate it like I do? ...or even like it? Who would want to get up early, drive a long way, then run this type of trail, just for some pretty scenery? ...meet my friends.

Shawn Harrison, Sheldon Wood, TJ Wood, Myself, Mandi McBride, Adrian Toledo, Michael Rice, Tiffiny Goodwin-Melton, Lisa VanDyke

We started up the North Fork of St Charles Canyon. It gives you a couple nice miles along the stream to warm up. Then we turned and went up Snowslide. That becomes a 3 mile climb that is pretty tough, but once you break out onto the ridge, the views are worth it.

It is hard to catch the beauty of the wild flowers in a photograph. In late June, the Sunflowers, and the rest of the wild flowers are pretty amazing.

...as are the views along the Highline Trail, a trail that stretches all the way from Soda Point (near Soda Springs, Idaho) to Beaver Creek Campground (near Beaver ski resort).

Adrian enjoying a break at a trail marker

It's good having friends in high places. ...or, it's fun getting high with your friends. Take your pick.

Tiffiny enjoying some downhill. She deserves it. Her and Mike ran 25 miles the day before this, and 10 more miles the night before that. Some runners like to take crazy to an all new level.

Douglas Adams writes that the secret to flying, is to throw yourself at the ground, and miss. Lisa seems to have that down.

TJ & Sheldon getting after it. TJ has joined me on this group run every year. It is a fun way to spend time with my daughter. As for her husband, Sheldon, this is the longest run of his life. He is struggling to hide the fact that last summer he retired from running. This is an addictive sport. It is quite impressive that he would pick a run with about 3500' of elevation gain on technical trail as his longest run (so far), and then do so well. 

The view leaving Bloomington Lake

Mountain Goat, I mean Mandi, powering up the hill

I don't think we ever outgrow the pure love we have for splashing through the water, although Mike is doing a great job of trying not to let it show.

Perhaps Mike was just focusing on trying to walk on water.

Lisa can't hide her love for splashing. I thought she would knock Mandi down as she splashed on past her.

...and check out that mischievous grin. I think she might have been thinking about pushing Mandi over in the creek.

Who's having fun

Lisa later completed the trail running experience with a face plant. However, it was a poor effort. There was no blood, her teeth remained intact, and no missing skin. She just didn't put her heart in to it. The judges only gave her a "2.5".

Adrian getting some splash, with Tiffiny next in line

Tiffiny seems to be walking on water and taking flight at the same time.

...okay, maybe not

More splash for Lisa

Then here comes Shawn. He looks as though he may be trying to jump it this time.

...or maybe not

Then there's my daughter, TJ, a total splash queen. She has been known to sign up for long trail races just because they go through the creek lots of times.

You got to love it when someone comes back from retirement. Yea, I think he's hooked. I think I am seeing a hint of fun in this photo.

As for me, I made my splash at the lake. At least this was the only one that there is photographic evidence of, and technically, you're not seeing evidence of the splash here. Perhaps I flew. It felt as though I did, for a brief moment in time anyway.

So there it is, a summer day spent getting high with friends.
...the best of times. 

May 10, 2015

Days With Sunshine

On July 12, 2002, I met my best friend. 

My daughters, Angie and TJ, went with me to Pocatello to look at puppies. I wanted a new running/ hunting partner for myself and my English Setter, Misti. 

The ad read "English Setter mix". I assumed it would not be a good mix, but went to look anyway. There were two left, male and female. I wanted the male, if the "mix" was one I could tolerate. The mix turned out to be a rather incredible one. The puppy's dad was full blood English Setter, and the mother was half English Pointer and half Brittany Spaniel. My girls and I spent close to an hour trying to like the male. It just never happened. As we sat playing with him, and watching him, his sister stole our hearts. She would come home with us and become part of the family.

If you have had many pets, you know that once in a lifetime, there comes along "the one". That one dog, that completely outshines all those that came before, and any you will know after. Sunshine was "the one".

Angie, TJ, & Sunny
...my girls.

Sunny learned quick from my setter, Misti. It only took one time on birds to have her honoring point. It took me a half dozen more times to get Misti to do the same. As a lover of hunting upland game, I was pretty dang lucky. I had a couple amazing dogs.

She also got a few lessons from my Dad's old dog, Max. I set my shotgun down and snapped photos of the two of them working Sunny's first blue grouse. I never could get the dogs and the bird in the same photo, but I was able to get shots of the old pro working the bird, and Sunny following along, honoring point.

Although my interests were changing towards running, there were many more days in the field for Sunny.

I would walk along in the general direction I would like to go, lost in the beauty of nature, and following the sounds of the bell around Sunny's neck. When the bell stopped, you knew there would be action.

I had to pay closer attention if I ever forgot the bell, but that was good too. Sunny was incredible to watch work.


...after a hard day's work.

We all get tired sometimes.

As my love for the outdoors began to manifest itself in the way of trail running, Sunny was willing to change to the same. 

We would run miles, not having to say anything at all. She would be watching me, paying attention, and just excited to see where we would go next.

...patiently waiting

...always ready to go.

With a big storm moving in, Sunny and I got in a last late autumn run on the Logan River Trail. It was just a typical day, another long run with my best friend. ...but seasons change.

Early the next spring, we ended up at The Wind Caves. It was like so many of our other days, but I could see Sunny was getting old. Back to back days of running long would wear Sunny out. I no longer felt good about taking her on runs over 20 miles, or even 15. Ten mile runs became our limit, with a day's rest between.

And as quickly as it began, it was over. Sunny had survived a run in with razor wire as a pup. She pulled through after having been bit by a rattle snake. She recovered quickly from having impaled herself on a downed tree limb while running.
...but she was no match for old age. It gets us all.

Misti had left for the happy hunting grounds a few years before. Along our favorite home trail that we use to run all the time, Misti is buried in a grove of aspen, with a small pile of rocks to mark her grave. A rock gets added each time I have ran there since she left. Now a bell also hangs in a tree near by.

It is hard to say goodbye. 

Thank you for the memories.