I've mentioned previously about visualizing race courses.
Training on various parts of the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run
course helps us prepare mentally for this race. We've run so many trail ultras
around the country that it's easy to forget parts of each course, even those
like Bighorn that we've run several times. With all the variables and the things we
cannot control in a 100-miler, like the weather, having a "prepared mind"
is just one way to help us accomplish our goals.
SO HOW'S JIM DOING??
Here's a quick update on the last two days, then more
details about today's training run on another part of the Bighorn course.
Jim felt so good on his hike Thursday that he wanted to run
several miles on Friday. However, Dayton finally got some much-needed rain. The skies were pretty gloomy over the mountains, which we can see from
our camper, and severe thunderstorms and large hail were predicted for
northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. I drove up the road a bit for this photo:
That just didn't look or sound like any fun, so we weenied out and stayed "home." That
gave Jim time to recuperate some more from his rattlesnake bite and to fiddle
with his new Garmin GPS unit and software. I worked on the journal and did laundry. We both
started fine-tuning our drop bag lists. Each day I walk the dogs around the
campground several times to potty, so I did get in at least a mile today.
It's called "tapering," and it's a nerve-wracking process
before a race. Our minds and bodies want to run, but rest is more important so
we're fresh on race day.
On Saturday we drove up to Billings again. The weather was
great - 70s, sunny, and breezy. In fact, we got chilly sitting in a nice little
neighborhood park watching four of Jim's grandchildren play on the swings and other
equipment. We also had a picnic lunch with Jim's sons and the kids
L to R: Camille, Jim, Garrett, Cameron, Chris:
L to R: Cameron, Robin, Paige, Chris:
Unfortunately, illness and the hospitalization of a family member prevented us
from visiting with two of our favorite couples in Billings.
Maybe we'll be able to see them the week after the race. Some of our
other Montana friends are in the race, so we may see them in the campground or
on the course. Before driving back to Dayton, we got the second replacement camper tire at Goodyear and supplies at
SPLENDID SHEEP CREEK AREA TRAIL
Today dawned cloudy again in Dayton but we were eager to run after
taking two days off. We headed up into the mountains and discovered it was
mostly sunny up there. Nice surprise!
This time we drove past the Dry Fork aid station location
where we parked two previous times for training runs (see
and June 3
entries) and went another mile farther on Freeze Out Road up to Camp Creek Ridge at
about 8,000 feet. We parked the truck on FSR 201 just past the cattle guard and
ran 3.1 miles from there to the top of the ridge (also ~8,000 feet) near the
Upper Sheep Creek aid station location. The out-and-back run was 6.2 miles long,
according to our GPS unit.
I added arrows on Russ Evan's elevation profile below to
show where today's run comes during the race (about 9-12 miles and 84-87 miles). The
"point" is the ridge
near the Upper Sheep Creek aid station where we turned around
to go back to the truck:
We started out on FSR 201. The
photos I took on June 3 show very dry roads and trails. Recent rains left
us some mud and puddles to dodge today,
more typical conditions for the upper elevations of the course on race
We noticed other changes along the roads and trails. The
snow patch where Jim and the dogs played eight days ago was gone. There were
more kinds of flowers blooming (including numerous bright yellow dandelions) and the meadows
in this section were even more full of blooms
than last week.
We veered right onto the rough single-track trail after
about a mile. There are some great views along this trail if you look
carefully (so as not to trip and fall face-first into the flowers or rocks):
We ran to the double-track primitive road (FSR 181, I
believe) and climbed steeply to the fence line at the intersection of Forest
Service roads 181, 198, and 199 on the ridge above the Upper Sheep Creek aid
This ridge is about 8,000 feet in elevation. The climb
didn't feel too steep today because we were rested and we're adjusting to the
altitude, but on race day it'll be difficult after 87 miles (heck, even
downhills are tough after you've been on your feet for 87 miles!).
Jim was first to see this little non-poisonous
(we think) snake going up that road:
Jim looked first to see if were any rattlers on the tail
Then he looked at the head end to confirm it was a snake.
Then he inspected the tail again - OK, it's not a rattler,
Once bitten . . .
We could see
Horse Creek Ridge from this ridge, a little
over a mile away:
That's where we explored
Here's another view:
Once runners reach that far ridge, it's mostly downhill to
the finish eight miles away.
We turned around there and returned to Camp Creek Ridge.
The next photos show some views the 100-milers will see as they're heading
outbound toward the Dry Fork aid station:
Jim took this photo of me inspecting yet another
When we got back to the truck, we hung out for about an
hour on the ridge above Dry Fork so we could do some acclimating. Cody and Tater
are begging for some of Jim's beef jerky and cheese crackers in this photo
overlooking the valley runners descend to that aid station:
I chose to check out the wildflower field to
the left of Jim, even lying down for a little nap among the lupines and other
Bighorn runners are so fortunate to see scenery like this.
It's one of the main reasons Jim and I do ultras.
But you don't have to be an ultra-distance runner to enjoy
the Bighorns. You can also access various roads and trails in these spectacular
mountains by hiking short or long distances, cross-country skiing, riding a
horse, mountain bike, ATV, or snowmobile, or just passing through in a car,
truck, or camper.
To get up close to nature, however, we recommend foot
travel on the more remote trails.
Next entry: Off the Beaten Path - getting into the
Little Bighorn Canyon and the Footbridge aid station location.