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Training Log Archive: Swampfox

In the 7 days ending Sep 27:

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Sunday Sep 27 #


Snowing lightly at 10 am, and cooler. That's going to help a lot with the fire today.


Winds shifted overnight to out of the north, bringing occasional snow flurries through morning and until late afternoon, when the skies started clearing off from the west. Air was pure and clean all day long! No idea what the fire was doing because all the clouds made it impossible to distinguish any smoke plume. But surely the cooler temps and snow must have really helped the fire fighting effort.

I ran trails at Happy Jack in the late afternoon, mainly checking on the progress of the new ski trails cuts. There was a lot of progress over the past 2 days. My legs felt mildly sore in a way which I related to all the mountain biking yesterday.

Saturday Sep 26 #


Based on how windy it already is this morning, I am guessing that fire fighting efforts today are totally screwed--probably not much more can be done other than to stand back and watch.


Winds were powerful most of the day, and during the day the fire off to the west about doubled in size, going from 35K acres to about 68K (all guesses by various news sources). Whatever the actual acreage, it grew a lot today. Smoke was very thick, but luckily the plume and thick smoke at ground stayed just south nearly all day long--maybe starting to edge into SW Laramie for a short amount of time around mid-afternoon.

I biked around town some in the morning, and then linked up with Tyler for a mountain bike ride up to Pilot Hill. He can do everything and way more that I can't do on a mountain bike, so it was fun to see how he took on different obstacles. There wasn't anything he couldn't ride, and there was lots that I couldn't.

Late in the day I went up top to run trails and check out progress on the new trails going in. Already at 4 pm it was essentially dusk because of the smoke plume blocking out the sun.

Weather change expected for tomorrow--much cooler and some chance of rain.

Friday Sep 25 #


The fire off to the west more than doubled in size today, going from about 17,000+ acres to 35,000+ acres, and that, plus the resultant smoke plume staying right over and in Laramie all day long, meant that the air quality took a slight hit today. The Department of Health (state) came out early and issued an advisory that all antelope who could do so, should move off to New Mexico or some other far away place. For everyone else they recommended masks and bright blue balloons. The mask thing made sense; it was hard to know what to make of the balloon part. From midday, I kept the house shut in the rest of the day hoping to preserve the best of the rest of the better inside air.

I mountain biked over in the School Yard and took in ABC and PB&J, and also ran at Happy Jack late in the day, hoping air quality would be better up there like it was yesterday. And it was better, just not very good. From the south facing HQs Trail overlook, you could see the south edge of the smoke plume, and there were smoke clouds and haze everywhere else to the south. To the north, it was all plume, no sky. Ash was falling the whole time, and little bits of ash littered the trails. Good times, as they say.

I kept the intensity for everything I did as low as I could, something approximating the intensity involved with "nodding off while laying on sofa", though when you're climbing up Haunted Forest, you can only go so low. Some new trees were down across the trails from wind.

Unfortunately, the forecast for tomorrow calls for bigger winds. That's not going to help matters.

Thursday Sep 24 #


By early afternoon there was a thick smoke plume just north of town, and headed off generally to the NE. I was out biking then. Just after I got back home, the winds shifted and the plume blew directly into town and it got pretty dark for the time of day. The amount of snow made it look like the fire off to the west must have been going pretty good today. I was planning to run, and drove up to Happy Jack wondering what (how bad) it would be like up there.

As it happened, as the smoke plume hit the Laramie Range, the bottom edge of the plume lifted many hundreds of feet about the range itself, so air quality up there was surprisingly good. Of course there was some amount of dispersed smoke even up there, but overall it was pretty good. Or maybe by now folks and myself are shifting the bar and what would have seemed like not so good air quality just a few weeks ago to seeming pretty good today? Not sure.

I ran out to the east HQs view for the first time in a few months, supposedly to see if there was any snow there left from the snowstorm. I thought the chances were essentially nil as there hadn't been any drifting during the early September snow, but it was a reason/excuse to run there.

Of course it turned out there wasn't any snow, and not even a hint of a wet spot where the snow might have been. So, until the next snow storm! Not that it looks like there will be more snow coming any time soon.

What I did see: work has just begun on cutting new ski trails and re-routes around the Summit Loop. As I was running out on Summit Trail, crew members of some kind of a youth corp work crew were walking back to the trailhead at the end of their workday.

My legs were less oomphy than yesterday, which I attribute to the harder running I tried to put in yesterday. But maybe air quality has something to do with it also? No real idea on that.


After getting back home in the early evening, I went through the news and was happy to see that the Mountain West Conference had voted to go forward with an 8 game football season this fall. It may not be a full season, but one can only guess that this will be very welcome news for the community and especially those retailers and service providers that cater to UW football fans.

Wednesday Sep 23 #


I thought I would give the Day 1 training course at Twin Boulders another go, and see what another week (now 7 weeks past surgery) had done for me.

For one, my legs are starting to feel more normal. Up until the past few days, they've been in varying degrees of soreness (but not bad) while running and right after, and it didn't feel like I could do much more than an easy jog.

Today, however, my legs felt decent-ish for the first time since before going to the hospital. Still short on a fair bit of running fitness and efficiency--especially where the going is tougher--but at least things are headed in the right direction, and it felt like I had a little bit of "push" to work with. That was reflected in the time: about 68 minutes versus 75 1/2 a week ago.

One funny thing was after hitting #9 dead on last time, this time I "essed" around some going into the control area. Easy to do--the map shows some details, but they're all small and in reality the control sits in a fairly bland looking sloped area of semi-open sage. You really need to be sure of being on your line going in, and the real key--here's where familiarity with the local terrain helps--is to focus on the several small rock features in the area. If you can find/see one or more of them, then they'll let you know where you are. After the training there, Boris mentioned he never found this control. If you know where you are and you go straight in, it feels easy. But if you don't know exactly where you are and you miss or are off to one side, then it's hard to know what to do, and if you think streamers could be missing (always a chance of that), then maybe you just move on.

I took another, closer look at #8 as I was re-hanging a streamer there, and this time I could see what I needed to see to be sure it must have been a person who took the streamers down there, and no chance it was an animal. Which raises the questions: who might have been out there, and why would they have taken down and torn up the streamers and hidden them, but not take down the stick they were hung on, too? Weird.

Also on the training day, someone (can't remember who) said they couldn't find the streamer at #18. It was a control at one end of distinctly linear knoll that sits in a semi-open area where it's easy to see everything, and if you can see the knoll or you're on the knoll in are looking in the right direction, you'd actually have to try to *not* see the streamers to not see them. I was thinking about that as I was running in and had already seen the streamers from a pretty good distance, and thinking "if you can't see these streamers, you probably weren't on the right knoll in the first place"--which is my guess as to what was actually going on with that other person. It's not so unusual to be completely sure about some situation along an orienteering course, and have it turn out to be you were dead wrong; it's certainly happened to me many times.

Towards the end of the course, I could start smelling smoke. I only had to run in that for a little bit. On the way up, there was an enormous smoke plume stretching across from the fire just south of Laramie and continuing across the Laramie Range. It was really thick and would have been awful running in it (I wouldn't have tried). Luckily the plume stayed just south of where I was so it really didn't affect me much at all.

We won't miss the fire and its smoke when it's gone, but for the time being the forecast doesn't offer much in the way of relief.

Tuesday Sep 22 #


Biked up the Hole in the Fence trail. Probably one of the two or three bumpiest (the slope surface is controlled by a heavily pitted and cracked limestone rock unit) trails in the world that can be ridden if you have no skill. When I got back home, I felt for my internal organs, and they're all in the wrong places.


I ran trails late in the day, and decided to check out the ongoing work on the Aspen Trail re-routing. I ran the whole thing, and it looked like nearly all the work has been completed, with maybe just a tiny section of compacting left to do at one end, which probably explains why the last piece of the re-route was still taped off.

Next up on the trail work is supposed to be the re-routing of Haunted Forest, and I could make out tracks from something mechanized here and there headed in that direction so I headed that way, too. And, sure enough, after running about halfway up Haunted Forest, I found the small backhoe and the first small bit of work that had been completed--it looked like the trail crew had gotten up there with maybe an hour or so of work time left in the day before quitting time.

Then back to the trail head. Over the time I was out, the air quality got noticeably poorer, with a strong smoke smell by the end. And just like yesterday, the wind died away completely by around sunset.

There had been a 20% chance of some rain in the forecast for today, but, unfortunately, nothing doing. With the end of the water season just about a week away, it's looking like we're going to end up with something like around 58% of normal precipitation for the water season, or under that.

Monday Sep 21 #


Leslie and George Minarek dropped by and we spent several pleasant hours discussing hallowed orienteering terrains such as the beloved Nissene Marks. We talked about some other things as well, but what I remember best is how we concluded that Nissene Marks is the one forest that every orienteer should visit once--and how once might well be enough.

The original plan had been that I would meet them up top at the Visitors Center and we might walk on the Happy Jack trails for a bit, but they called to say there wasn't really as much smoke up there as we had expected, and that they would feel guilty about taking even a little bit of what was left after having been able to enjoy such an abundance of smoke for so long back home in Cali.

It was really fun to see them.

After they left, I fetched the mail and looked through it and found what I expected to find: an absentee ballot. I voted my ballot, hopped on my bike, and dropped off the ballot at the County Election Office, and now my little part in all that is done.

From there, I cycled around various areas of town, trying to find the best pockets of smoke. Actually, and somewhat ironically, the smoke situation starting getting better not long after Leslie and George left, so maybe Laramie should bring them back in the future when there are forest fires going on the other side of the valley.

At the end of the day, I ran trails at Happy Jack, and by then the smoke up there wasn't bad at all, and vastly better than it had been yesterday up in those hills.

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