Following Ralph and Allen’s JMT FKT attempt
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Aug 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm #2218796
Ito, Ralph is on the right with the black shirt and the watch, I'm on the left with the blue shirt. I'm pretty sure Ralph's watch is an altimeter but not a GPS watch. I have a Suunto Ambit2 GPS watch but I didn't bring it on this trip.
Mike, I just realized I never responded to your comment and wanted to say thanks. It was pretty surreal and very disapointing, but also satisfying to have gone so far in such a short time. Not sure if I'll try again but I'm considering it.
Scott, Thanks for vouching for me. Andrew is a class act, I know you are very proud of what he has accomplished, but the way he handles himself is also noteworthy. He has been more than generous with sharing his experience and advice, and on top of that has been actively encouraging me to break his FKT. I have nothing but respect for him and what he did out there. Sounds like he's having a great time on the CDT too!Aug 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm #2218802Art …BPL Member
2 trail hardened grizzly guys, for sure …Aug 3, 2015 at 4:01 pm #2218808
Didn't mean to just ask about who's who (father duties cut me short)..
Thanks for sharing your trip report. I think a lot of the longer distance efforts are also about the mental aspect, and with FKTs you don't have the pacers or aid stations and all that, so you have to do without hints or other small aid. I can easily imagine the mental be as much of a part of success or failure as the physical.
Been great to follow along with this one.Aug 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm #2218809Leor PantilatMember
@pantilatLocale: Bay Area
Happy to take ownership for what I say, but I never called anybody crazy.Aug 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm #2218819Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Sorry LeorAug 4, 2015 at 3:05 am #2218873Rog TallblokeBPL Member
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
" I couldn't get my bearings and had no idea which direction I was heading or if I was even on the right trail anymore"
A 5g button compass can be a reassuring and useful device, even without a map. Mine lives in the key pocket inside the lid of my pack.Aug 4, 2015 at 10:19 am #2218950
My watch has a compass, however i was so out of it that it never occurred to me to use it. Probably would have been helpful.Aug 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm #2219000Rog TallblokeBPL Member
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
You had every reason to be extremely fatigued. Night hiking is hard, when familiar skylines and closer crests blur into confusion. When I'm lost I usually sit down, brew up, and re-assess. I find a sugary hot drink and a few minutes relaxation have a way of clicking the logic circuits back into place.Aug 5, 2015 at 9:42 am #2219175Ralph BurgessBPL Member
I'm sorry for the delay in reporting in – internet & phone service on the I-395 corridor was hopeless, and I was then getting organized to fly back to NY (where I am now).
It may have been unwise to make another attempt so soon after the 175 miles of my first effort. My muscles and feet felt fully recovered, but of course it's impossible to judge the overall state of your body from superficial sensations.
In any case, I felt strong from the start. I kept to a similar steady pace up Whitney (summit in 3h55). On my first attempt, I had turned my ankle on Whitney, and although it wasn't really serious, it had made me tentative on the descents. Without that concern, I had the confidence to go significantly quicker on the descents. With a target average speed of 3mph, I don't think it's efficient to try to run on the flats – here, a fast hike can achieve 4+ mph with much less fatigue. However, running seems more efficient on suitable downward gradients, where you can almost "fall" forwards into a half-run. Maintaining good forward momentum like this with the more flexed knee of a run seems less jarring on the legs. So, after Whitney, I was gaining a few minutes consistently on every split when compared to my first attempt, but the greatest difference was in the descents, in particular the long descents from Forester and Mather.
I was also much quicker descending from Glen and through the Rae Lakes – although very little of this trail is runnable. Here, the main difference was the lack of rain; and because I reached the summit of Glen earlier, I did over half of the descent in daylight.
Overall, turning into Le Conte I was over 2 hours up on my first attempt, and I did not feel that I had expended any more energy.
However, from the beginning of the second day, my lungs had not felt quite right. Since it was certainly not slowing me down, I resolved to push through it unless I had no choice. But, just as on my first attempt near Red's, this time on the climb of Muir things deteriorated quite quickly – I started to get exactly the same symptoms – wheezing, tightness and pain in my chest. The weather was not helping – a forecast for 30% afternoon showers turned out to mean a major thunderstorm with repeated strikes on the peaks to the east, and sustained rain for several hours (and through much of the following night). However – although it was raining when I stopped, I stopped because I was sick. If I'd stayed healthy, I can't really be sure if the subsequent sustained weather would have been bad enough to force me off the trail.
From discussion with Allen's wife (who is an ER doctor), it does not seem that my problem is respiratory infection as I had thought. It's more likely to be inflammation from immune system dysfunction. The high speed of these attempts means breathing through the mouth the entire time. For me, it seems to be a quantitative effect – I haven't had these symptoms on slightly lesser efforts, but it seems that ingesting dirt and dust for 20 hours a day without respite is just too much. So, I could probably resolve the problem with medication if I tried again – but I'd have to think carefully about whether that's really just taking things too far. I've enjoyed the challenge of working out a strategy for this, but ultimately – well, we're not talking about an Olympic gold medal here; for me it was just a personal challenge.
I'll add a few final thoughts later this evening.Aug 7, 2015 at 9:41 pm #2219693
"However, from the beginning of the second day, my lungs had not felt quite right. "
Ralph, I can't find the article right now but I read only last week about how a quite high percentage of ultra finishers get sick in the weeks after. Seemed that after recovering any muscle/tendon issues the effort had still quite drastically weakened the immune system of many. If I find it I will post a link. Though this might be the breathing through the mouth like you said.
"With a target average speed of 3mph, I don't think it's efficient to try to run on the flats – here, a fast hike can achieve 4+ mph with much less fatigue. However, running seems more efficient on suitable downward gradients, where you can almost "fall" forwards into a half-run. Maintaining good forward momentum like this with the more flexed knee of a run seems less jarring on the legs."
Would love to read more thoughts if you have them.Aug 7, 2015 at 11:22 pm #2219702Drop BearBPL Member
Are you using anything to cover your mouth from the dust?
An OR Echo Ubertube(0.7oz / 20g) might do the trick or even better a few disposable surgical face masks.Aug 8, 2015 at 7:16 am #2219727Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Sweet. BPL has added another forum!Aug 8, 2015 at 7:43 am #2219731Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
Good… that should reduce the whining quite a bit, lol. :^)
Need another one for trad packing, apparently. :-/Aug 8, 2015 at 9:47 am #2219749Mike MBPL Member
a NECTUL forum- Not Even Close To Ultra Light :)Aug 8, 2015 at 10:21 am #2219754Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
NECTUL perfect… has all the proper attributes for a good acronym :^)Aug 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm #2219800
In response to Ito's comments on Ralph's comments:
>"Ralph, I can't find the article right now but I read only last week about how a quite >high percentage of ultra finishers get sick in the weeks after. Seemed that after >recovering any muscle/tendon issues the effort had still quite drastically weakened the >immune system of many."
I actually got sick a few days after my attempt and am just now starting to feel better. It was some sort of intestinal illness, presumably a virus as it has pretty much resolved in a few days without antibiotics or other treatment aside from rest. It was apparently not Giardia although I was initially concerned about that given that I did not treat the water. My legs have not been exceptionally sore, although my feet were quite sore and swollen and my knees were very sore initially. I did get and still have some numbness in the forefoot and toes on both feet (this is gradually resolving but still noticeable).
>"With a target average speed of 3mph, I don't think it's efficient to try to run on the >flats – here, a fast hike can achieve 4+ mph with much less fatigue. However, running >seems more efficient on suitable downward gradients, where you can almost "fall" >forwards into a half-run. Maintaining good forward momentum like this with the more >flexed knee of a run seems less jarring on the legs.
>+1. Would love to read more thoughts if you have them.".
I agree with this completely. My strategy has been to hike fast 90+% of the time, only running on the smooth, well graded downhill sections where running is easy and feels more efficient than hiking. Examples of this are the descent from the JMT/Whitney trail junction, the descent on the north side of Forester pass, and the descent into Red's Meadow. However running long sections, especially with a pack on, and especially in the heat, does have the potential to lead to cramping which can be a significant issue.
On this attempt, I was slowed a bit by upper hamstring cramps starting in the afternoon of the first day and into the second day, which limited the amount of running I was able to do and forced me to stop and stretch periodically. It was pretty warm and I may not have been taking in enough water and/or electrolytes for the conditions. The 3rd day was cooler and I was able to run a bit more down into Reds Meadow, but the hamstring tightness never really went away. I'm hoping that the combination of training adaptation from this attempt and a longer rest/recovery period prior to my next attempt will allow me to run more without cramping – assuming I am able to make one more attempt.Aug 11, 2015 at 8:15 am #2220381Drop BearBPL Member
Today I came across this Field Mask in a Montbell store in Japan(The page linked is in Japanese but has pictures).
It is designed for hiking and has a replaceable pollen and virus filter.
Hayfever gets really bad in Tokyo.Aug 13, 2015 at 11:31 pm #2220957
I finally finished the Trip Report for my JMT FKT attempt.
It is long, it has videos, and it is on my brand new blog:Aug 14, 2015 at 4:40 am #2220970
Long and a fast paced read, pretty fitting for your FKT attempt.
Thanks for sharingAug 14, 2015 at 5:20 am #2220976Peter RodriguesBPL Member
@prodriguesLocale: New York
Great read Allen, especially how you were able to capture your disoriented state.Aug 14, 2015 at 10:11 am #2221027Adam WhiteBPL Member
@awhite4777Locale: On the switchbacks
It was a great read.
I didn't think it was long–only 37 words per mile. Terse!Aug 14, 2015 at 10:16 am #2221028
Thanks Adam. You set a high standard in the WPM metric. I can only hope that with training and proper nutrition, one day I will be able to measure up.Aug 14, 2015 at 10:48 am #2221033Adam WhiteBPL Member
@awhite4777Locale: On the switchbacks
Your FKT attempt shows that you at least have a modicum of determination, resilience, and endurance. Those are the same traits that are required to set a Longest Known Trip Report.
I have one nugget of advice: Don't let your failures hold you back. After my June trip to SEKI, I stumbled, and published a TR that was only 86 WPM. Did I let that define my summer? NO! I came back and hiked Rae Lakes in a day so that I could redeem myself–and redeem myself I did, with a 176 WPM whopper! Back in the game!
That TR was also about 9.5 Words Per Minute that I was out hiking, which is another PR.
Keep at it. You'll nail a LKTR on one of these trips. For a little icing on the cake, maybe a FKT, too.Aug 14, 2015 at 11:15 am #2221041
Ito and Peter, thanks for the positive feedback!
And thanks Adam for the advice and the vote of confidence. I am learning from the master.
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