This was a joyful day for Jim and me for several reasons.
Read on to find out why!
First, Jim got good news from Dr. Snyder yesterday when he
saw her for a follow-up visit at her Sheridan family practice regarding his
rattlesnake bite. Dr. Snyder was happy to see that the swelling was nearly gone
in his ankle, there was no tenderness any more, and the tissues around the
puncture wounds were healing nicely. There should be no tissue necrosis,
although Jim may experience swelling during the 100-miler. Dr. Snyder
re-emphasized that Jim must use good judgment during the race and stop if the
swelling is worse than what usually occurs.
By this morning, the swelling was all
gone. Here's a picture of the ankle with the bites:
You can still see the two puncture wounds. Today Jim felt
like testing his body out on the trail again. He planned to walk two or three
miles to see if the effort caused any pain or additional swelling. He felt so
good, he even ran part of the distance.
Other reasons to be joyful today: The weather was great - sunny and cool at the lofty
elevations we enjoyed for several hours, a nice respite from the heat in the
valley. There was even some snow! We chose another beautiful place in the
Bighorns to hike/run today (I don't think there is anywhere unsightly in this
huge national forest). We saw lots of big wildlife and reveled in the amazing wildflowers.
And I visited the sacred Native American site called "Medicine Wheel."
In order to do this archaeological site justice, I will write about it in Part
Our goals today were to get in several hours of acclimating
at the highest elevation on the course and to see the trails going into and out
of the Porcupine Ranger Station, site of the aid station at the turn-around for
the 100-miler. It helps us prepare mentally
for races if we can visualize part or all of the courses. It's been three years
since we've been in this location: time for a reminder.
It's a 55-mile drive from our campground in Dayton to the
ranger station. All of it is on paved Hwy. 14 and 14A until the last couple
miles on dirt FSR 13. Elevations reached about about 9,500 feet on Hwy. 14a, and
we saw some snow along the road:
There are only tiny patches of snow remaining at the elevations found on the
Bighorn course (about 4,000 to 9,100 feet). Until recent rains, this has been a
warmer and drier spring in the area than average. It appears there has been more
rain on "top" of the Bighorns than down in the valleys.
Early on race morning (about 4 AM), buses leave the park
adjacent to our campground in Dayton and take about a hundred runners in the 52-mile race up to
Porcupine for their 6 AM start.
Instead of riding the bus, Jim and I will be RUNNING up
there in the 100-miler. Our cut-off time is an hour before the 52-milers begin
their point-to-point race.
Here is one of the beautiful vistas we enjoyed on the
drive up there today. It may be too dark on race day for the runners to see
This is the entrance to the Porcupine Ranger Station:
We got a treat just before the
ranger station - we saw our first moose of this trip! He hightailed it across
the road before I could get the camera out, though. Since it was about 11 AM, we
didn't expect to see much wildlife.
There are several buildings in the Porcupine complex. The
building used by the race volunteers is crowded during the race, uncomfortably
hot from the blazing woodstove, and like a vortex to be avoided by the
100-milers. The next photo shows Jim checking out the venue:
Like Bill's Barn at Vermont or Brighton ski lodge during
Wasatch, this aid station can suck tired runners in and make them want to stay
instead of finishing the race. Our plan is to know exactly what we need to do at
that aid station 48 miles into our race and get out of there before our brains
tell us how nice it would be to s-t-a-y there.
Visualizing the area before the race helps with that
process. Now we just gotta remain firm and resolved in the middle of the night
during the race!
WHERE'S THE OXYGEN??
Porcupine Ranger Station sits at approximately
8,800 feet. The high point on the Bighorn race course is about a mile out, at
about 9,100 feet. If you look at the
profile of the 100-miler, you can see the two little humps in the
middle of the course. The "low point" between the humps is Porcupine.
Our plan today was to run the first mile or so
from the aid station until the trail crosses a forest service
road, then return to the aid station. We'd get to see part of the course and be
at elevation, acclimating some more.
I thought I knew my way for the first couple
of miles, but even after reading the course description, we think we must have
missed a turn somewhere because we didn't reach that crossroad and the scenery
just didn't look right to either of us. It's been three years since I ran this
part of the course, and the last two times Jim did it in the dark.
I'm pretty sure the next photo is part of the
course near the aid station . . .
. . . but we're not so sure about this
one a mile up the road:
Jim was more concerned than I was about going
the "right way" to help with visualization. The scenery was so beautiful I
really didn't care! I was still getting in some miles and acclimating at
elevation. We turned around at 1.3 miles and returned to the ranger station. I
followed another road for a quarter mile, but I'm certain it wasn't right.
Oh, well. It was a nice little three-mile run
for the dogs and me, and Jim did nearly as much on his healing snake-bitten leg.
This is a new plant we saw today, the Western Pasque Flower:
Next, we drove back out to Hwy. 14A and went
west about half a mile to the entrance to the Medicine Wheel, a sacred Indian
site. I will write about it in the next entry. I took this photo down toward the
Porcupine Ranger Station from the ridge on Medicine Mountain. It shows the
mountains in the distance that we'll be climbing near the turn-around during the
After visiting the Medicine Wheel, we drove back to the Porcupine Campground
near the ranger station to relax in the shade at a campsite for a couple of
hours. It was a great place to acclimate. Jim set up the computer so I could do
some writing in the journal while he read and took a nap. I wish I'd gotten a
photo of the set-up. We had to use the (quiet Honda) generator to run the
computer, which was sitting on a picnic table. No one else was around, so we
weren't disturbing anyone. We stayed until it began to rain late in the
Sometimes we go to great lengths to get on-line since we can't get easy access
at the campground. Here's a photo of Jim accessing the internet this morning
with one of our cell phones. We were in the truck on the way up to Porcupine and
stopped a couple miles from Dayton where we can get a Verizon signal. We go to
the same spot to make phone calls. Tater's waiting patiently to see if she got
THE MOOSE ARE LOOSE!
I mentioned we saw a moose on the way into Porcupine this
morning but I didn't get a picture of it.
Moose are one of my favorite large animals. Jim and I used
to see them fairly routinely on our training runs in the Beartooth Mountains and
in Yellowstone National Park when we lived in Billings. I've also seen them at
Crater Lake in Oregon and on the Appalachian Trail last summer. They are
magnificent creatures, always a pleasure to observe.
As we were leaving the area late this afternoon, we saw four more moose near the ranger station and I was able to
photograph three of them. What a thrill! Here are some of the pictures:
Those two were smaller and less apprehensive about us than the big guy below:
We also saw several deer feeding in the high country as we
made our way back home, but we didn't see any little fawns today.
More in the next entry re: the mysterious
Medicine Wheel . . .