Easy enough: 100 miles in 3 days unsupported on the Bigfoot 200 course to complete mapping and determine exact aid station locations. I guess when I thought "It's gonna be easy" I should have been worried. I grudgingly packed 3 days of food, 80oz water, a small tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and warm clothes (wool shirt, real rain jacket with hood, extra socks, gloves)...and more. Carrying all that weight is tougher than just going out and running 33 miles a day as you can imagine. I like to travel light so I can travel faster and cover more ground, and this was more than I would normally bring.
Easy enough, riiight. Just one of those sections was 4 miles longer than the mapping program said. All sections were varying distances longer, never shorter than expected. I've learned to expect this.
I knew that I had to take this course seriously though and bring appropriate gear. First off, I was doing it in mid-October and the weather is colder and less predictable. Second, the course is VERY, I mean VERY remote. I couldn't just hitch a ride out whenever I might want or need to. If something went wrong I might have to wait days before getting help or getting a ride.
Run 200s, in my case, hike!
Due to the weight of the pack and the long winded nature of mapping trails, I ended up spending all day on my feet, moving 12-14 hours a day. Each section was longer than my mapping program had said it would be and it was just slow going since I was mostly hiking, albeit "fast" hiking. Day 1 brought a heavy downpours eventually turning into a wind storm. I was glad I brought my heavy duty rain jacket. Despite the rain jacket and a rain cover for my backpack, I got wet down to my bones. I slept fitfully and was cold most that first night. I could only hope that the rest of the trip would be drier.
A little creepy when you're 30 miles out in the middle of no where ... solo
Luckily day 2 and 3 were free of rain and it even got sunny on day 3. Day 3 brought a different kind of challenge however. I woke up and thought, I feel sick. I had felt hot and a little feverish the night before and I realized my body was out of whack. It's not that I thought that I had caught a bug-- rather I think the fever / flu symptoms were from my body being broken down from the cold, dehydration, and long days of high physical stress. At one point on day 3 I wished I could hitch a ride out as I wasn't sure I could make it the last 20 miles. There was no other option than finish, so I popped 2 ibuprofen and picked up the pace. And why not? Get done and then rest.
Shortly after finishing I met my friend Jake at a nice little brewery in Cascade Locks and he drove me to my truck which was parked out in the boonies, a whole 2.5-3 hours away from Portland. Thank the trail gods for good friends! I had planned to head back to P town after picking up my truck but I continued to feel worse. My head ached, I was racked with chilled and my face was flushed. I crawled into the back of my truck where I had a sleeping pad and wrapped myself up in two sleeping bags unable to eat even after a tough 3 days on the trail.
That night was long and painful with aches up and down my body and heat emanating from my chest and face so strong I felt like a forced air heater. I rolled around for what seemed like most of the night at some point falling asleep and finally waking in the morning when the fever had broken.
Two days later I'm feeling great. I ran a 5 mile loop at Multnomah Falls in the Gorge and literally ran the entire 2 mile 1800 foot climb up, plenty of strength and energy. I was able to finish permits for the Bigfoot 200 a couple days ago and I'm working on another surprise plus permits for the Tahoe 200. Here are some pictures from the 3 day fastpack of the Bigfoot course, enjoy! Oh yeah, just throwing out the "another surprise" bomb, ha!
This tree was ENORMOUS. Hence the caps. Much of the course goes through old growth forests and you'll see a giant like this quite often.
Me with my GPS, it's never far from my hand.
Mt Adams, one of 4 major mountains you can see from the course
Like green? There is a lot of green.
Someone wrote 2,200 on one of the reflectors for the PCT hikers heading North, apparently that's mile 2,200, wow!
View of the Columbia River Gorge 10 miles from the finish!
Crossing the Bridge of the Gods into Cascade Locks, OR