Jim has been in contact with course director Karen Powers (mother of
race director Michelle Maneval) since we arrived in the area on
Monday to see if she, Wendell Robison, and Rich Garrison needed any help with
trail work or marking.
Race management has some concerns about the upper elevations of the course,
which reach a high point near Devil's Canyon Road about a mile from the
Porcupine Ranger Station.
Karen and Wendell checked it out after work on Wednesday but haven't made any
decisions yet re: a possible re-route.
In addition to the late spring snow that hasn't melted at the upper
elevations, it has been raining and snowing in the mountains this week and more
precipitation is predicted for the next few days. Deep snow plus a power line
that is down may cause problems with both runner and volunteer access to the
WHY RACE MANAGERS GET GRAY HAIRS
This afternoon Jim rode up to the Porcupine Ranger Station area
via US 14 and 14A with Karen and Rich to do a further assessment
of road and trail conditions.
Their first task was to determine if volunteers would likely be
able to reach the Elk Camp aid station, which is about 4½
miles from the ranger station. Jim doesn't know which forest
service road they took to try to access this location. He doesn't
think it was Devil's Canyon Road, which crews can use to meet
their runners a mile from the turn-around at Porcupine. That
spot on Devil's Canyon Road is at or near the high point in the
race at just under 9,000 feet (Porcupine is about 8,800 feet).
Karen drove in
as far as she could on the other road and parked at the edge of the snow:
Then the threesome got out and hiked over the snow for about
three miles on the road. Rich carried a shovel so he could
determine how deep the snow was as they ventured farther and
farther in the road. The group didn't do
any trail work this time. In fact, they didn't even reach the
Jim isn't used to wearing snowshoes, especially borrowed ones,
so he ended up walking in/through the snow without the snowshoes
for much of the way. He took this series of photos so we could
see the snow conditions:
After walking in for almost three miles the road had descended
enough that there wasn't any snow on it. Soon after that, they
Karen thinks that Elk Camp, which sits at only 7,430 feet
elevation, will probably be accessible after another week of
snow-melt. She's been doing this type of assessment for the race
for enough years now that she pretty well knows how much
snow melt to expect this time of year. A lot depends on how much
additional snow falls between now and then, however.
Sign for the 1,320-acre Half Ounce Burn in
Back they trudged (through the snow again) to Karen's truck. By
now, weather conditions were deteriorating:
Jim got the next two photos from the back seat as they returned to the main road:
They saw two large moose along the road but Jim wasn't able to
get pictures of them from his position in the truck.
Karen also wanted to check out the road to the Porcupine Ranger
Station, site of the turn-around at 48 miles for the 100-mile
race and start of the 52-mile race. In just one week that aid
station will have to be set up -- the 100-mile race begins on
Friday afternoon. The next morning at 5 AM buses will be
delivering the 52-milers for their 6 AM race start.
Can they likely get in??
Karen can't be absolutely sure yet but she'll use her best judgment
in the next few days to make that determination. Today the Forest Service had the access road gated just past the High
Country Lodge (located near Hwy. 14A) because of high snow and/or a downed power line, so
Karen was unable to drive back to the ranger station. It doesn't
appear that the snow is as deep here now as it was in 2008 (it
was four to five feet deep that year).
This is what the eastern slope of the Bighorns looked like this afternoon while Jim
was gone and I was riding my bike down in Dayton:
Jim came home today
with ambivalent feelings about doing the 50K this year --
a little sad that he's not trained for the 100-miler yet grateful
won't have nearly as much sloppy trail to navigate in the 50K.
He remembers how muddy the upper parts of this course always
are. So do I, from the times I've run the 52-mile race and have
done pre-race training runs in that area.
With or without snow, this course is always a challenge.
[Later: despite new snow off and on throughout the next
few days, the temperatures were high enough to melt most of the
snow off the access roads before race weekend. Wendell re-routed about two miles of
the course between the Elk Camp and Porcupine aid stations but
volunteers at both stations were able to get themselves and
their supplies in. There were no other course re-routes that I'm
Next entry: we're itching to see what the Riley Point
Loop looks like; it gets up to about 8,500 feet --
how much snow is there??
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil