Today I'm not referencing fun times with Timothy Leary, but the training concept of Long Slow Distance. I've kept up base fitness with runs and bikes, but this was to be my first "quad-burner" where I'm out for some vert. I decided to keep it interesting by throwing in a bike (doing the STP this year so need some seat time), so I parked at Longmire. As I was contemplating what shoes to wear, as they had to do for both the biking and the hiking, a ranger came by and, after some chit chat, said I should just go for the light trail runners (I also had some low cut crampon compatibles and some Merrill trail gloves). Logistically this was to be an interesting trip as I had to carry all my bike stuff with me to Muir (pump, tools, lights, helmet, spare tube etc) as I didn't want to leave anything on my bike that could be ripped off, including a panier.
My pack of choice for this trip was a GG Mariposa, which has the volume, extra pockets, comfort and carrying capacity for today's gear. I always take a full on parka, basic pad and bivy bag on a Muir trip, as things can get dicey very quickly on that mountain. The weather forecast was calling for increasing chance of thunderstorms later in the afternoon.
At 7:30 AM I started out on my bike climb to Paradise with balmy temps at 50 degrees. My plan was to spin and hike at a level that would keep my HR down and stay away from the temptation to race up the hill. Lots of rolling resistance on my fat tires, and a fair amount of weight on my back, made obvious when two bikers slowly passed me after the Nisqually bridge. A moment of envy looking at their road bikes and light loads soon passed as I reminded myself that this was a light trainer, not a contest. Traffic was fairly light at this time of morning, even on a Sunday, and I was passed by a few vans with trailers as the guide services were taking clients up to Paradise.
At Paradise I secured my bike to a post, stripped it down, put on some gaiters (and waterproof socks) and off I went, on snow from the get go. I didn't go up to Muir last year so it was nice to see the sights again, and I slowly tromped up the hill, taking a few rest breaks for some trail mix, and eventually arrived at Muir, chatting it up with some individuals on the way up. I spent but ten minutes at Muir before starting down as my original plan was to descend 1200' and climb back up twice, giving me 10,000' of vert for the day, which was why I was doing the LSD thing. However, when I got to my turnaround point at 9000' and started back up the hill, my right knee had a bit of a funny feel to it, probably from the haphazard slop running on the way down. Then a quick survey of the incoming weather made for an easy decision to just bag it and head back down. Indeed, as I descended below 8000' I got a taste of sleet, rain, and the rumblings of a thunderstorm in the distance, and at about 7000' I descended into a cloud bank that brought visibility down quite a bit. However, the park has done a great job wanding the route so I never needed to employ route finding skills with this easily followed track.
Back at Paradise and the throngs, my steed awaited for the fun part of the trip, and I enjoyed the romp down the road (despite the traffic) to Longmire and never got rained on despite darkening skies. I had eaten so little during the day that I pulled into the Wild Berry restaurant on the way back for a gigantic BLT. Now, usually my father's day gift from my daughter is to go hiking with her, but she had been out all night with her graduating class (ceremonies were on Saturday night) and still hadn't returned by the time I left. I know she would have hated the slop running on the way down anyway. Luckily today the knee feels normal today, thank goodness! No harm done.
Total miles: 30
Moving time: 7:20
Max speed: 31 MPH