We just returned from 3 days of camping in the White River Camp Ground, near Sunrise (Eastern side of Mt. Rainier). As is my tradition, I get up early on "getaway" day, drive up to Sunrise, and do a solo hike out to 3rd Burroughs Mountain and back. It's a bit over 8 miles, round-trip, from 6400' elevation to about 7900' elevation. I wore my old retired running shoes, strapped on a fanny pack loaded with 2 water bottles and some granola bars, and took off about about 5:50am. The sky was an un-poluted, brilliant blue and the temperature was in the mid 60's. I ended up running all flats, downhills and slight uphills, and speed-hiked the big hills. And there were, indeed, some big hills. As the name would suggest, there are three "Burroughs" mountains total. The third provides an unbelievable view of the Whitman Glacier on Mt. Rainier. Once you've reached 3rd Burroughs Mountain, there's nowhere to go but back. I mostly had the trails to myself and was free to run and hop over rocks as much as I could, unimpeded by traffic. There were some steep downhills where I had to brake myself as I ran, to avoid pitching over the side of a cliff. I ended with a time of 2 hours and 6 minutes...which was nearly TWO HOURS faster than I did the hike the previously (when I was fatter and in pretty sad shape). My quads and lungs responded amazingly well, especially considering that I wasn't used to the elevation. I can tell the hill workouts on the bike have strengthened my quads quite a bit. My calves and hips are a bit sore, though, but that was expected. But I honestly can't remember EVER enjoying a hike more than this one. I can see what draws you ultrarunners out there! It may be awhile before I consider doing that for 50 or 100 miles, but just that taste of it was very cool. No people (almost), no cars, no polution, no noises other than the wind, a few birds, a squeaking Pica, and my feet crunching over the rocky trail. Oh...and I managed to see a small herd of elk (including one huge bull), 42 mountain goats, and 1 very curious ptarmigan.
My original plan was to do a hill repeat workout on my bike tomorrow morning, but given the above story, I'll still ride, but will probably opt for some mile repeats on a slightly less hilly course. We'll see how badly I hobble when I get up at 5am tomorrow!
Have a great weekend!