About That's A Big Blister

A trail running curler who is learning to skate ski. I love living in Idaho and don't call me a Californian - I'm a Hoosier!

2014 Year in Pictures

A friend recently told me that I have mastered work-life balance.  Sadly, I had to tell her that she was mistaken.  For most of 2014, my spouse and I had incredibly boring jobs.  Getting through the hours of the workday could be painful, but we had plenty of time to plan and execute adventures in the mountains.  The boring jobs are now behind us, but I plan to take the gear, organization, and lessons learned into 2015.

January – The weather in Owyhee Canyonlands is unpredictable, yet there are enough crazy runners in the Boise area to support the Wilson’s Creek Trail Races.  Weather in 2014 was promising, so I signed up for the 20 miler.  Starting before sunrise in an extremely dense fog, then climbing above it and into the sunshine, was spectacular.

I’m going to cheat and share 2 photos from my favorite annual January event – the Stanley Outdoor Bonspiel (S.O.B).  What the hell is a bonspiel?  A curling tournament.  Although bonspiels originated as outdoor events in Scotland, very little outdoor curling exist today.  Stanley, year round population of 69, is located at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains.  It’s f’ing cold out there, but the backdrop, drinking, and camaraderie of the curlers make it a great weekend.  Thanks to Kathy & Kelly for letting me know that I made the front page of the newspaper!

Sweeping SOB 2014

Idaho Statesman SOB copyFebruary – I don’t remember anything too crazy in February.  The Boise Curling Club started the winter curling season. There was a run to Wilson’s Peak, the same place as the race mentioned in January.  There was no fog or snow, but we did startle a group of wild horses.

WIlsons Peak wild horses

March – We went to Utah and saw Jeanni, Jenny, Adele, and Ali!  I don’t downhill ski, so John and I attempted to skate ski for the 3rd time.   I missed that trip to the Habit, but did stop at In N Out on the way back to Idaho.  No pictures.

April – Spring running in Boise can be a bit frustrating.  There is a lot of user traffic and it’s highly encouraged to stay off the local trail network when it’s muddy.  (I strongly support this.)  John, Abbie and I went out to the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness in the Owyhees.  Although our guide book claimed it was “Subaru doable”, the drive was painful.  We covered 3 miles in an hour due to the rock and rut dodging.  The weather went from blue skies to pounding hail and back to blue skies in 30 minutes. Typical mountain/canyonland weather!

little jack wilderness

May – My parents came to Boise to help with yard work, enabling me to spend more time doing fun things on other weekends.  They are endurance yard work athletes.  They are awesome.

This month was also the start and end of a lot of trail running.   Due to a new pair of shoes, I developed severe planar fascitis.  Because I am a moron, I changed shoes and kept training for a 60k.  Picture below is from one of the runs where I told myself “but it loosens up after I climb several thousand feet.”  Idiot.  I’m pretty sure this is also the month Jeanni came to visit.  Due to my prolonged injury denial, I couldn’t take her on any of my favorite runs.  Walking around work was horribly painful.

Kendra Hardguy

June – I asked the Scout Mountain RD to move me from the 60k into the 35k.  The course was surprisingly pretty, but it was one of my worst races.  John had a more successful 60k.  After the race I stopped running for 6 weeks, joined the Y, and started pool running.

During my time off, I worked Fanny’s Hole.  (Tee hee.)  2014 was the inaugural year of the River of No Return 100k in Challis, Idaho.  We learned an important lesson at this aid station: do not leave sealed 2 liter bottles of Coke in the sun.  One exploded, scared the shit out of everyone, and covered Abbie in Coke.  They have changed the course in 2015 so I can no longer work Fanny unless I want to do it alone.

Fanny's Hole

July – I really enjoyed the McCall 20 Miler in 2013, but I had to sit it out due to the damn foot.  John took 4th in the 40 miler.  My garden started to look like it might actually produce  vegetables.

Garden July 9 2014

August – I started running again with the hope of completing a 50k by the end of the year.  While John ran the Standhope 60k, Abbie and I went on our own mountain run.  I love the Copper Basin and the idea of crossing 11,000ft passes, so I’d like to race Standhope in 2015.  On another weekend we camped and ran in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.  I am in love with that single track!!  I had to turn around a bit earlier than John, but I’ll steal one of his photos anyway.

Grand Jean 2014

September – John and I were both signed up for The Rut 50k at Big Sky, MT but I wasn’t able to race.  The race is kind enough to let you defer a year.  The cutoff was brutal, eliminating a third of the field. John wasn’t ready for the loose rock and scree, but he finished respectably for a guy who lives a couple of hours from serious mountains.  This was his 4th ultra in 4 months – all happily finished and uninjured!!!  I do have a nice photo of Kilian Jornet at the finish.   I recently received an entry confirmation for the 2015 Rut and I’m a bit terrified.

Kilian Big Sky

We also volunteered for an overnight aid station at the IMTUF 100 in McCall, ID.  This was our first time volunteering at a 100 miler.  John is interested in doing a 100 miler in the next year or two, so this was a great learning experience.

October – The fall curling season started!!  Due to more driving drama getting into the IMTUF aid station, the Impreza was traded in for a used Tacoma.   The next day we took the Tacoma into the Oregon Owyhees for a trail run.  My inner environmentalist feels terrible driving a V6 4×4, but wow, it’s freeing to have high clearance!  Desert canyonlands are not for everyone, but as Midwesterner, I find the desolate expanses intriguing.

Oregon Owyhees

For contrasting terrain, I visited Jeanni in Utah and she took me on a beautiful run in the Wasatch.  Pictures were taken, but I have no idea where they are.

November – My ego wanted to run at least one ultra in 2014.  I found the Silver Falls 50k in Oregon as the last ultra of the year within driving distance (9 hours). It was a nice bonus that the race has dog-friendly camping and beautiful scenery.  The forested course has 10 waterfalls and racers run directly behind 2 of the falls.  Due to plantar fascitis, my training was marginal, but I was prepared to go slow.   It was a fun and successful 50k.  This was also our 9th camping trip of 2014.  I used to snub car camping, but sleeping on a thick pad and waking up to crepes, sausage, and multiple cups of coffee is awesome.

Silver Falls Camping

December – I have not enjoyed learning to downhill ski as an adult, but a few skate skiing trips in 2013 were challenging and fun.  John and I bought skate equipment and we are committed learning.  It doesn’t hurt that we live only a few hours from “Nordic Town, USA” and I love the being in the Sawtooths.  We managed to get two yurt reservations there.  We also started skiing the trails 30 minutes north of our house in Boise.  There are several pics from December that I’d like to include, but I’ll finish with a cheesy selfie.

Skate skiing 2014

Getting to the trail can be the toughest part

If you don’t know us well or haven’t heard, John and I are now coworkers in Boise, ID.  We were both sick of our previous jobs and wanted a different lifestyle than what we had in Silicon Valley.  

Before moving to Boise, our new employer flew us out for a 5 day home-finding trip.    After flying into Boise a 9:30 am on Saturday, John and I decided to place an offer on a house 6 hours later.  It felt as crazy at that sounds, but we’d already been to Boise on two prior visits, so our area of interest was pretty defined.  When the offer was accepted and settled by Monday afternoon, when had several days left to explore.  

One edge of Boise sits next to high-desert foothills and there is a ski resort 30 minutes from downtown, but for true mountains, the locals trek a couple hours north to Lakes Cascade and McCall, or three hours east to Sun Valley.  With a few trail recommendations from my new manager and a guidebook, we set aside one day for a trip to McCall.  When we woke up that morning, Boise was 95 and sunny, but McCall was predicted to be 60 with intermittent thunderstorms.  I had packed a couple of light-weight base layers, but John didn’t pack anything but t-shirts.  There was discussion of getting John a base layer in Boise, but due to laziness and the shear number of jackets and base layers at home, we didn’t bother.  

A great thing about living in a state with 1.5 million people: heavy traffic does not exist, and sections of highway are 75 mph.  Most of the drive was a bit slower because it follows a winding route along a river, but it was really beautiful.  Outside of Lake Cascade, the sky became really dark and it started to rain, but we decided to continue on to McCall to check out the town and food recommendations from my manager.  The rain was starting to subside once we reached McCall, but at 5000 ft, it was 45 degrees out and John still didn’t have proper clothes.  We wandered into a few hiking/biking stores in town, but we couldn’t find anything on sale.  That was when we discovered the thrift store.  All proceeds went to the local pet shelter, making the decision to look inside even better.  John scored a women’s Adidas jacket for $4.50. After stopping at a recommended coffee shop, we were ready to find a trailhead. 

We drove south of McCall and found the dirt road that would take us 7 miles to the trailhead.  Initially the single-lane road was flat and driving over the dirt didn’t feel unstable.   About 2 miles in, that quickly changed.  One side of the road dropped off 10 feet, the road began to roll up and down, the mud became worse, and John had to navigate turns.  The rental car, a Hyundai Elantra, began to to slide and the anti-lock brakes engaged.  I didn’t feel my life was in danger, but I really didn’t want to call our new employer and explain why we needed a tow truck and how we caused extensive damage to the car.  I’m guessing they would have questioned our judgement.  Thankfully, a turn around opened up, and John was able to get us back to paved surfaces.  

It was only midday and this part of Idaho has sunlight until 9:45 pm in midsummer.  We weren’t ready to give up on hiking yet.   I browsed the guidebook until I found an appealing trail on a “well-maintained” access road.  A few miles north of the town center, I heard John mumble “Shit, I think I’m going to get pulled over.”  We’ve been told the $85 ticket from a McCall speed trap is part of becoming a Boise resident.  Yippee.  

Eventually we did make it to the gravel access road, but a mile short of the trailhead, the Hydundai was stopped by a downed tree.  The road was wide enough to turn around and park on one side of the road.  No problem, maybe it just went down in the recent storms, although I didn’t smell freshly broken wood.   At the 4th downed tree, I began to question how often “maintenance” occurs.  That said, the BLM and other Idaho agencies have a lot of ground to cover: there is more public land in Idaho than any other state in the lower 48.  There were 50+ trails in our McCall/Cascade guidebook.


Here is the Hyundai parked on the side of the road.  I’m sure Hertz had fun washing it off.  The view of snow capped peaks was amazing even from the access road.   Just 2.5 hours north of Boise, and we had completely left 90 degree heat and brown foothills we’d been running in the day before.   

John and I had become very soft living in the Bay Area and never escaping work to into the Sierra.  We didn’t account for the weather change in the mountains, and we’d also forgotten that late June means melting snow.  A few feet in from the trailhead, the trail had become a mountain stream.   We picked our way through rocks and drenched grassy areas until we almost lost the trail entirely at one point.  I was concerned about my feet getting wet in the cold weather, but 50 feet later, the trail turned, went uphill, and no longer served as a stream.  Our hike was cut short of the intended peak due to another storm system rolling in, but we made it to a saddle was a great view of peaks all around us.  Our first trip into the Idaho mountains was well worth the time, thrift store jacket, anti-lock brake testing, and $85 speeding ticket.


 Blue skies here, but it didn’t look good on the other side.