2011 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   DAY ONE OF THE BIGHORN MTN. 100-MILER, p. 2:
SCENES FROM THE DRY FORK AID STATION

FRIDAY, JUNE 17

 
 
(Continued from the previous page.)

THE RIDE TO THE DRY FORK AID STATION

We invited Anne to ride with us to the Dry Fork and Twin Buttes aid stations today to crew for Matt in the 100-miler. That way we got to spend a lot more time with her than we usually do at races. She's also running the 30K tomorrow.

Anne's a dog-lover, as you can tell by the photos of her playing "Rope" with Cody on the previous page. She graciously  rode in the back seat of the truck with Cody so I could take pictures out the windshield while Jim drove. Cody's a good boy so he went with us everywhere today except the briefing. There were several other dogs at the briefing, the start, and Dry Fork.

I'll tell you an interesting story about another dog at Dry Fork in a little bit.

We drove up US 14 to Burgess Jct., where US 14A splits off from US 14. We turned right on dirt FSR 15 to Dry Fork. Jim and I got a pleasant surprise:


The first few miles of FSR 15 were mostly clear and dry this morning.


View from FSR 15 to Twin Buttes; there isn't much snow where it's sunny at 8,000 feet.

By this morning we knew the 30K, 50K, and 50-mile races will all start tomorrow at Dry Fork, not Twin Buttes. Dry Fork is the usual starting point for the 50K and 30K. The 50-miler normally starts at the Porcupine Ranger Station, but it's buried under several feet of snow now.

What we didn't know was the condition of the forest service roads to Dry Fork. They were sure a mess as recently as two days ago when we were up here.

We couldn't believe how much snow has melted in only two days on that road! Yes, it's still a mess in the more shady places but we got through in our 2WD truck OK. We just had to go more slowly through some mud, puddles, and remaining snow:

What a difference some warm weather makes in a couple of days.

HANGING OUT AT DRY FORK AID STATION 

We thought we timed our arrival so we'd get to Dry Fork and have our chairs set up before the first runner arrived. We miscalculated a little.

The first runner, Zach Miller, came through the aid station when we were walking down to the aid station after we parked. He got there faster than we expected. He also led at Twin Buttes, Dry Fork, and Footbridge on the outbound.


Crew vehicles parked up the road from the aid station; runners came by here
on their way to and from the new Twin Buttes aid station.

We've never heard of him so I asked his father later in the campground about him. I also did an internet search and found out he placed 5th last year at WS100 in 16:55 and was 6th at States in 17-something in his very first 100-miler. Jim noted that he won Mountain Masochist in 2008.

Dry Fork is a very busy aid station on Friday and Saturday in a good-weather year; this time, with the re-route to/from Twin Buttes in three of the four races, the volunteers had to direct runners in and out of the aid station in not only two directions, but three. Hundred-milers who ran at least 72 miles went through that station five times, I believe, instead of twice in a normal year.

That may have been confusing even for runners who are familiar with the original course, especially at night. We didn't hear of anyone missing the turns, however.

We picked out a spot whre we had a great view of the runners as they approached the aid station on Freeze Out Road from Camp Creek Ridge. Anne and Jim are sitting in their chairs above the arrow in the picture above.

Here's another view of them:


Anne and Jim are sitting in the foreground of this picture as crews assist their runners at Dry Fork.

See how Jim is bundled up? Part of the time he and Anne turned their chairs around to block the wind, especially when clouds blocked the sun. Even when the sun was shining it was downright chilly for sedentary spectators.

I spent much of the next two hours walking around taking pictures, greeting incoming runners near the snow patch, and entertaining Cody, all in an effort to stay warmer.


Cody had fun in the snow, well out of the way of runners, crews, and spectators.

There was still some snow in the remains of a cornice at Dry Fork. We've never seen it piled up next to the road like this either before or during the race:

 

The snow made for some interesting pictures and runners didn't have much to actually run on anywhere on the alternate courses this year. Mud was more of a problem for race participants than snow.

Flowers and grasses are only just beginning to emerge where the snow has melted recently. These lupines would normally be in full bloom at this elevation by now:

I saw a few very early spring flowers at Dry Fork -- little cushions of white and lavender phlox, pretty Pasque flowers, and ubiquitous dandelions (we're still in our Dandelion Time Warp).

Above and below: white alpine phlox

 


Unopened Pasque flowers, alpine phlox, mountain bluebells, and mountain avens
around an interesting rock with orange lichens growing on it.

There aren't nearly as many flowers blooming in this area as we usually see. Locals say that spring is about three weeks behind this year, especially up in the Bighorn Mountains.

By now we'd discovered it was warmer across and farther up the road; the bank between the two little Forest Service roads protected us a little better from the wind than our first vantage point. I highlighted Jim and Diane Gorski to the lower right in the next picture:


Jim (far right) and Diane Gorski watch for runners approaching Dry Fork.

The road to the left is normally used by 50K runners at the beginning of their race. It goes up to a scenic ridge and stays there until runners reach Riley Point but there is too much snow at 8,500 feet to send runners up there this year.

It was fun to see friends come through Dry Fork. That's why we're here, right?? I obviously found all kinds of other distractions.

Crews could see their runners coming down Freeze Out Road from a quarter mile away -- or more, if they had binoculars:

 


Dennis Aslett is all smiles.


John Hobbs looks focused.

We remained at Dry Fork until Matt came in:

Above and below: Matt and Anne Watts

He looks happy! Anne helped get him through the aid station, then we hopped in the truck to try to beat him to Twin Buttes.

Continued on the next page: the Twin Buttes aid station

Happy trails,

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

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2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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