Runtrails' Web Journal
Previous          Journal Topics by Date            Next




“Success is not measured by what you have accomplished, but by the opposition you have encountered
and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.”
- Orison Swett Marden

OK, OK, we'll quit complaining about all the rain we've had the past week. Snow is worse!

At first we thought the "cotton" was flying from the huge cottonwood trees that surround us in the campground and nearby Scott Park. In previous June visits here, the cotton has come down so heavily it looks like snow in the air and on the ground:


But this morning it was real snow, not cotton.

It's June 7. It feels more like January. It's not unusual for snow to fall at the higher elevations in the nearby Bighorn Mountains this time of year. In fact, last year the 50- and 100-mile Bighorn race courses had to be rerouted because of so much late snow at the higher elevations. We're hoping that doesn't happen again this year.

But snow at 4,000 feet in Dayton in June? Not normal. It didn't stick to the ground in town but it did as low as 4,500 feet in the nearby foothills. We wonder what it looks like at Porcupine Ranger Station at 9,000 feet. We haven't been up there yet because of reports of snow already there, before this storm.

Today's high temperature of 41°F. in Dayton was over 32 degrees below average and it's predicted to dive to 29°F. tonight. Yikes!

The mid-morning snow turned to light but steady rain the remainder of the day. Around 6PM the sun came out and I took Cody for his third or fourth walk of the day. Oh, glorious sunshine!

I could see the nearby Bighorn foothills from the river. Wow -- snow glistened in the sun. I talked Jim into driving up Hwy. 14 so we could get a closer look. As much as we hated the idea of more snow in the mountains, the view just a mile out of town in the early evening light was gorgeous:


I tried to ignore the fact that even more of the race course was unsuitable for us to run for the next few days and just enjoy the beauty in front of me.

Jim noticed this patriotic scene on our way back down to the campground and asked me to take a picture of it:

That seems quite fitting for D-Day weekend.


All the precipitation that has fallen in the Bighorns the past week is pretty discouraging for local and visiting runners who want to get as much course-specific training as possible before the races. Jim had  planned a second 80-mile week to prepare him for his 100-miler. That didn't happen. We both need more hill and altitude training for this challenging course.

However, much of the course is under snow now and the rest is a muddy mess. What's under snow will also be a muddy mess in a few days when it melts. The forecast for the next week isn't much better, although a little warmer.

What's a runner to do?? Adapt as best as possible.

In lieu of training on most parts of the Bighorn course since the monsoons began a week ago, we've been running more on the Tongue Canyon Road and doing loops on the nice, smooth dirt/crushed rock trails in Scott Park, which is adjacent to our campground. Both surfaces drain water better than dirt trails.

That's good mental training, I suppose, but it isn't doing our bodies much good to run on such flat terrain when thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss await during our races. Our muscles and lungs and capillary systems need to adapt to those conditions, and soon.

Yesterday Cody accompanied us for over two hours in the park, doing endless three-quarter-mile figure-8s. We had cabin fever so bad, even running in cold rain on a path full of puddles was more appealing than deep, muddy trails up in the mountains -- or sitting in the (warm, dry) camper all day.

We end up walking or running almost daily in Scott Park because it's so convenient, even on days when we do longer runs in the mountains. At least the scenery is varied, with parts of the path along the river, some over bog boards through a wetland area, some through lush grass, and most shaded by huge trees. (The photos in this section are some I've taken in Scott Park on various days this spring.)

We've also taken the opportunity on rainy days to "run" errands down in Sheridan. I've been working out at the YMCA to keep fit and meet the requirements for the health club reimbursement my former employer offers to retirees and current workers. The first year for the new program ends this month, so I should be getting reimbursed in July. I doubt I can continue with it this summer, however. It won't be cost-effective for me to drive to eligible health clubs while we're in some of the more remote mountain locations where we'll be camping this summer and fall. We're letting our YMCA membership in Roanoke lapse for several months. Whenever I'm able to work out at a Y or other club again for another 12-month period of time, I can resume the reimbursement program.

It takes only so much time to do laundry, wash the truck (almost daily, with the rain and mud), run errands, take Cody for walks, and do other routine tasks. What else keeps us (especially Jim) sane on rainy days when we can't (won't!) traipse through the mountains?

The TV, radio, computer, and reading material.

Since the cable was repaired, Jim has been watching reruns of "24" and his favorite forensic science shows like "NCIS" every night. One of the cable channels broadcasts the reruns 24/7. This weekend he also devoured hours and hours of D-Day stories on the History Channel.

In most areas we travel we can find Neal Boortz on a local radio station or listen to him live on WSB's web site on our computer. Neal keeps both of us amused, while other political radio talk show hosts leave us mostly annoyed. We've had periodic problems connecting to either WiFi signal available to us at Foothills Campground but we're usually able to get online with our Verizon broadband signal.


We spend a fair amount of rainy-day time on our computers. This is the second trip we've taken my little HP tower and wide-screen monitor in addition to Jim's laptop. The combo works well for us because we do so much on the computer and internet these days: our website and Picasa site, photo editing, financial transactions, correspondence, various listservs we read, research for all kinds of things (travel, races, products, etc.), watching videos, listening to Boortz or Clark Howard on the radio, tracking runs recorded on Jim's Garmin 305 wrist GPS, looking at topo maps, etc., etc.

As usual, I'm behind on the website but trying to catch up. Our friend Eric diplomatically points out that it's obvious we're so busy having fun, there just isn't time to write all about it! Thank you, Eric, for putting a positive spin on my proclivity to write too much to keep pace with my lifestyle.

Horse farm adjacent to Scott Park

We don't get our mail very often and we've cancelled most of our magazine subscriptions but we manage to find interesting things to read in our travels. We also lugged along a dozen books we either want to reread (like Younger Next Year) or haven't read in a long time (like Atlas Shrugged, which I've plowed through several times in the last 35 years). We recently ordered two new books whose reviews intrigue us: Liberty & Tyranny by Mark Levin and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Those should arrive soon and keep us occupied for a few more hours.

Heap of elk antlers in a yard visible from the trail in Scott Park

We'll get through this wet period one way or another. In the end the flowers will be prettier, ranchers won't have to water their fields as much, and Jim and I will be better prepared than some of the other competitors for the inevitable mud we'll face on race day.

Lemonade from lemons, glass half full, and all that. Instead of whining, we may as well put a positive spin on this, too.

Next entry: let's go see what the trails in the Little Bighorn Canyon look like (Footbridge aid station area)

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

Previous       Next

© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil