For the past few years, I’ve run with the Bast Fastards on some of the best relays that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We’ve done Cascade Lakes, Ragnar, & EPIC. For 2013 we decided to take on the inaugural year for the 8 Track Relay. The format was very simple; how many four mile laps can a team of eight run in 24 hours. The course was set at the Portland International Raceway. The route was a figure eight that was mostly a trail run around the perimeter of the grounds. The organizer kept us engaged and entertained with 24 hours of live music, a huge bonfire, slip’n slide, yoga and fireworks. They offered concession stands, hot showers and plenty of camping grounds for us to eat, drink and be merry. We had tons of flexibility with who ran when and for how long. Runners could do a single or double. For the most part we kept a standard order and each ran one lap. Awards were given to the team that completed the most laps within the 24 hour allotment. Categories included all men, all women and mixed. We won the all men’s division and get to run again in 2014 for free! Overall it was the lowest impact relay we’ve done since it was a pretty small group of teams; my impression is less than 50, and there was no stress around vans and hand-offs between legs. I look forward to running it again this year.
Run#2 – Cascade Lakes Relay
One of the best point-to-point relays I’ve run is the Cascade Lakes Relay. The course runs 216.6 miles from Diamond Lake (near Crater Lake) to Bend, OR. It is limited to 183 teams so the course and exchange points are very manageable. It is run in early August so the weather is warm and sunny during the day but since we are running the cascade mountains it is cool and almost perfect for running at night. In 2014 I ran it with the co-ed ROUS team. Great group of folks. Relaxed and well planned since most of us have run before. Amy and my lovely wife were our Star Volunteers. After the relay finished Saturday afternoon we rented a house in Bend with hot tub and chilled out for the rest of the weekend. Good times had by all!
On April 24th we flew from Lima, Peru to San Jose, Costa Rica then took a very small plane for the quick flight over acres of palm oil trees to a small airfield near the city of Quepos. In preparing for the whole trip we did TONS of research into places to stay and things to see. One of my lovely wife’s key finds was the Gaia Hotel and Reserve. The hotel was an amazing place with full service staff, expansive views of the jungle and oceanand amazing food. Our room was located near the infinity pools with a swim up bar. We got to know the bar tender very well. After settling in and enjoying a relaxing dinner we got up the next day with the goal of almost nothing. We did a mud wrap at the spa and trekked into town for fish tacos.
On Friday the 26th I did a morning hike of the reserve and saw tons of monkeys and other wild life. We then picked up a van to drive up into the mountains for a zip lining adventure with Canopy Safari. We rode 10 zip lines, dropped two rappel lines and then enjoyed a great lunch. We timed it just right fishing up the last line right before a huge deluge. The next morning we woke to enjoy a relaxing breakfast followed by a massage. After lunch I joined a tour of the Manuel Antonio Nature Reserve. I was amazed with the biodiversity seeing sloths, monkeys, iguanas, toads, bats, frogs and birds. Our hike ended at a beautiful beach with tons of palm trees waving gently in the wind. Our last day was Sunday the 28th where we checked out early and spent the day tanning at the pool. I’m a little too fair skinned to tan so I just roasted in the sun. That evening we flew to San Jose to spend the night at a modest hotel before flying back to the USA.
From April 5th to April 29th we experienced new and amazing parts of the world. The awe inspiring glacier covered mountains of Patagonia, the breath taking view of Machu Picchu, the urban energy of Santiago, the exciting zip lines of Costa Rica, and the chill time in the pool overlooking the ocean drinking a fruity drink all added up to be a true epic adventure. I’m eligible for my next sabbatical on August 8, 2019 and am already starting to plan the next adventure.
After our urban adventures we continued our trekking with an April 17th flight to Cusco in southeastern Peru. The city is at 11,200ft so upon our arrival we took some time to acclimate to the high altitude at Hotel Los Portales. We took a relaxing late afternoon tour of the Main Square, visited the Cathedral and the Koricancha complex dedicated to the “Sun”, the chief god of the Incan Empire. We visited the impressive fortress of Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “sexy woman” located just outside the city. Our tour also stopped at Quenqo Amphitheater, Fort Pucapucara, and the archaeological complex Tambomachay, also known as the Baths of the Inca.
The next morning we hopped on a van to The Sacred Valley of the Incas. The scenery was simply epic! A lush river valley with stepped terrace hills, jagged cliffs and glacier covered mountains. We stopped to tour Pisaq and Chinchero, famous for their colorful markets. We stopped for a local lunch and then drove on to Ollantaytambo, which is characterized by the magnificence of its buildings and the distribution of its terraces.
On April 19th we went back to the Urubamba Valley to catch a train to Aguas Calientes. We spent the afternoon exploring the little Pueblo at the foothills of Machu Picchu. There were tons of craft markets to explore and it was the first time in Peru where I heard the traditional Peruvian music that you hear in American cities. We stayed at the very modest Inti Punku Inn with it’s elaborate towel swans. The next morning we woke up very to early catch the bus up to Machu Picchu, the Incan citadel named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
The bus dropped us off at the park entrance where we met our guided tour that included the Agricultural Sector (platforms) and the Urban Sector (religious buildings, military and homes), the Temple of the Sun, the Intiwatana, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Sacred Rock. I had started reading “Turn Left at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams, a hilarious modern day travel log that tells the story of the building of Machu Picchu, the deviation bought by Francisco Pizarro and the rediscovery in the early 1900’s by Yale Professor Hiram Bingham. Knowing more about what I was looking at, what it took to make it accessible to the world and the the full history of the whole thing made it all that more interesting and impactful. After the tour we explored more on our own and I hiked up to the Sun gate. We took the bus back down to Aguas Calientes, caught an evening train up the Urubamba Valley and a van back to Cusco.
Jessica fell ill from eating or drinking some bad mojo. We called a doctor who provided some comfort but we decided to change our plans to lay low for the day in Cusco. While Jessica healed I explored the city of Cusco. There were festivals, shops and a few museums to enjoy and learn more about the Incan culture. The next day we flew to Lima to rest some more before departing the country.
We arrived in Santiago, Chile on April 11th. Our base of operations was at The Aubrey Hotel in the Bellavista neighborhood right at the base of San Cristóbal Hill (Parque Metropolitano de Santiago).
We woke early the next day to a spirited staff preparing a beautiful buffet breakfast. A bus picked us up from the hotel and we joined a multinational crew for a city tour. We started by driving by the Santa Lucia Hill, a small city park in the center of Santiago. We then learned about the history of the city by viewing the grand architecture of the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture, Education and Foreign Affaris. We visited the Plaza de la Constitucion and walked past La Mondea Palace to visit the Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda. The subterranean Centro is located below the Plaza de la Ciudadania (Citizen’s Plaza). The Centro has a permanent exhibition of big quality regional artesanía, or arts and crafts, textiles, clothing, and jewelry, from around Chile.
We then rode over to the Plaza de Armas and toured the Cathedral of Santiago and saw the Museum Historico Nacional. Our next stop was the Mussio Design Artesania de Chile where we saw local artisans crafting jewels with lapislazuli, obsidian, jasper, oniz, and malaquite. The bus then took us to the top of Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepción (a huge hilltop city park with an amazing view of the city). Through the city smog we saw the snow covered Andes Mountian to the east of the city. We then made our way back to Bellavista. I took a run 4 mile run in the Parque Forestal along the Mapocho River. The park was full of tree lined paths and many young couples enjoying quality time with each other. We then took a walk though Parque Forestal and on to Santa Lucia Hill to enjoy the city views.
On April 13, our third day in Chile we left Santiago to drive west through the costal range to visit the ocean sides cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. We enjoyed sightseeings in the Cordillera and the Pacifico on our way to the main harbor of Chile, Valparaiso. After a view from the hill and a harbor walk we made our way to the garden city of Viña del Mar. Famous for beaches, a clock made with different flowers and a Moai from Easter Island. Back in Sandiago we walked though Bellavista to have dinner at Como Agua Para Chocolate where we enjoyed a most amazing stuffed chili and a meat sampler that was the epitome of South America’s love of protein.
We flew from Santiago to Lima, Peru on April 14th. We dropped off our bags at our hotel and spent the rest of the morning exploring the Miraflores district, our new neighborhood base of operation. It was very warm but we saw many people enjoying what looked like a sponsored run through the city. Our hotel was within a few block of the Parque John F Kennedy, Miaflores Chruch and Parque Central de Miraflores. In the afternoon we tour of the historic city center, the Paseo de la República, Plaza San Martin, Plaza Mayor, the Government Palace, the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace, City Hall and the Santo Domingo Church. We then spent some time touring Church of San Francisco with with the bones of 12,000 monks in the catacombs. Super creepy!!
The next morning we hopped a bus south to check out Pachacamac Citadel, Shrine of God the Creator of the universe for the Andean people. The citadel comprises temples, pyramids and palaces, where the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Pachacamac, the Acllahuasi or Palace of the Virgins of the Sun, among others. Along the way we visited the traditional and bohemian district of Barranco, where stands the famous Bridge of Sighs, continuing for El Salto del Fraile, and finished in the Marshes of Villa. In the evening we walked down to the Larco Mar, from where we saw a spectacular panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and enjoyed watching the sunset while para glider rode the cliffs updrafts.
, a photo by MediumTall on Flickr.
As you can see from the past few posts I put together a few plans to snowboard the first few weeks of sabbatical but these where just warm ups to the big adventure my lovely wife and I had in mind. Ever since I can remember I’ve heard about the amazing mountains in South America. I’ve seen amazing photos of The Andes with it’s mountains that rise over 22,000ft into the stratosphere and I’ve been especial intrigued by the Patagonia region with its epic glaciers! So our 25 day tour of South America started with us flying 20 hours to El Calafate, a small town on the coast of Lake Argentina in the heart of Patagonia.
Our first day started early with a day long boat tour of Lake Argentina that gave us majestic view of Perito Moreno Glacier, Upsala Glacier, and Spegazzini Glacier. Along the way we saw huge ice bergs from massive chucks of glacier ice that have fallen into the water. At the face of the Spegazzini and Perito Moreno we watched huge chucks of ice calving into the lake.
The second day we mini treked the Perito Moreno Glacier. Another early day were we caught a shuttle to get on a bus that drove us to the doc where boarded a boat to cruise over to the edge of of the massive glacier. We joined a tour of about a dozen people where we received a good orientation for our walk on the glacier. They set us up with crampons for our boots for our morning hike. It was amazing to be ON the glacier; to hear it moving slowly down from the mountains and see the clear water pooling in the fractures and crevasses. At the end of the trek the guide offered us a glass of whiskey over ice from the glacier. It was one of those moment that will be with you for the rest of your life. Simply amazing!
Our third day we chilled out and took a later afternoon tour of Estancia 25 de Mayo. Manuel picked us up in his 4X4 and the three of us drove south on rough cut dirt roads into the mountains. We stopped along the way to learn about the regions flora and fauna. The landscape is totally different that what we know in the northern hemisphere. The plants that color the high desert landscape give it unique hues and textures. The Estancia (Ranch) has a few hundred cattle that a few gauchos manage but what lives on the land is so much more than just beef. During our tour we saw soaring Vultures & Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, flocks of Reah (kind of like an ostrich), herds of Guanaco (cross between a llama and a camel), a few hare and a gray fox. We were out in the wilderness and it was amazing to see all the wildlife living of such arid surroundings. After the tour Manuel took us to a Gaucho house and fixed us a simple dinner. We learned more about the history of the region and how his family came to own the Estancia. As we departed the house in the pitch black we looked up to see the milky way spanning the entirety of the night sky. All the stars were new to us with the southern cross near the zenith of our view. I was expecting the snow covered mountains to be the focus but a simple tour of a ranch made the experience so much richer.
We toured downtown El Calafate on our last day. We walked the main streets and enjoyed the many shops & cafes. The town is all about the adventure tours so if you love hiking gear this is the place. We also visited the Glaciarium and learned about the science of glacier and saw many exhibits about the region. The Glaciarium also included the Glaciobar; a cross between discotheque and meat locker where we enjoyed drinks served in carved glacier ice at -10°C. They gave us funny capes and gloves to keep us comfortable. All in all it was kind of kitschy. In the evening we enjoyed a special meal at Mi Rancho.
I had a wonderful time attending Syracuse University. The friendships I established there continue to be an important part of my life. We all continue to stay connected and work to get together. This past winter a few of us spent a fantastic weekend in the Green Mountains of Vermont catching up, getting to better know their children and SNOW BOARDING at Mt. Snow! I love it when a plan comes together. Here are a few great photos from the weekends antics!
CJ and I have been organizing a group of fun powder hounds and snow bunnies to get out and shred the pow pow for the past few years. This year was Banff in the Canadian Rockies to rock the trails at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. The hard core crew flew into Calgary on Wednesday and rode Thursday, Friday & Saturday. We had some other join us Friday night for some serious Après-ski and hot tub action in Canmore. Overall I preferred Lake Louise over Sunshine; the terrain was more verier and the runs a bit longer. They also offered some great out of bounds hikes to get up a bit higher and cut some fresh tracks. Thanks to the whole crew who joined in the fun and shared in the adventure. Check out all the great photos!