The Top is Halfway

The amount of snow on Mt. St. Helens is closer to what we normally see mid-winter. Chatting with a Mt. St. Helens Institute ambassador(?) at the summit, he said there is about 60 feet of snow on the Swift Glacier (at about 7,000 feet). Fun fact I learned from the very same guy: The glacier in the crater is the only glacier in the US that is growing. Wind blown snow and collapsing cornices accumulate in the shaded north facing crater. Super cool.

T and I left Marble Mount Sno Park around 4:45 and got to Chocolate Falls just before 6. We stayed on the rocks of Worm Flows route and picked our way up. Apparently after the last snow the first person to climb set a boot pack far left of the normal route. Everyone then followed that boot pack and that’s the current spring route. It’s far climber’s left of the regular route. If someone were to go skiers right from the summit, you would be in very sketch terrain (cornices and wet slides) and be 2 drainages over from the Chocolate Falls drainage. It was a long day but we had warm temps, sunshine, soft snow and very little wind. Perfect Sunday dad/daughter outing. Her request after we got back to the car was for a large Dairy Queen Blizzard. Done and done 🙂

Aloha Nui Loa

Spent last week visiting my family in Maui. My brother sailed solo overnight from Oahu and anchored in Lahaina. My family flew from Portland and set up base camp in Kihei where my mom lives. I’m grateful that I could see my mom, brother and niece and tour around the island with my wife and children and have these experiences with them – we often get so caught up in our day to day lives that it becomes difficult to step out of the flow and just pause to experience this beautiful world.

I was quarantined with Covid the week before we left and then masked up for the journey. The sunshine and salt water was probably the best medicine for beginning to feel better. I had about 48 hours of miserable body aches, then minor congestion, then no symptoms.

We said goodbye to everyone yesterday, my brother will spend the next 2 weeks sailing back to Oahu around Molokai with his daughters, my mom leaves for the Azores for a month to work on her novel.

We returned to rain and 50 degree temperatures in Portland – the wettest spring in 11 years. Fingers crossed the wet spring will delay or mitigate the summer fire season.

There were so many highlights and everyone hustled to tour around from sunrise to sunset, but spending the day with family, snorkeling at Maluaka Beach with my daughters and brother and eating fish tacos from the food truck on the side of the road was one of the simple highlights of the trip. Maui is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

4th Wave

The Portland Timbers / Thorns Unicef benefit match was last Wednesday at Providence Park. Afterwards I stopped at Sizzle Pie near the old Jive office to get dinner with my daughter and her friend. I had my mask on the entire time at the stadium, we sat outside to eat pizza. I would say maybe 2% of people at the soccer stadium were wearing masks. I wore a kn95 the whole time.

Last week I had 2 threshold workouts on the trainer, and one hard running hill workout, max HR. Thursday my watch was telling me “Your current training load is going in the right direction, but your fitness is declining. Try reducing stress and get more rest.” Weird. I knew something was going on.

Friday I was tired. Afternoon nap tired… then my lower right lumbar started to feel sore. I thought maybe it was from being on the trainer… or I need new running shoes. Saturday I decided to rest and was planning to run on Sunday. Saturday night was rough. I started sneezing before I went to bed, then couldn’t sleep as the inflammation started to kick in and my back became more and more sore. I was waking up and falling asleep, my nose was running. I got about 6 hours of sleep Saturday. Sunday morning I woke up and realized I probably have Covid. I took a test and before the 15 minute timer went off, I was lined up. I have Covid.

I’m proud to have made it this far. The new variants are extremely transmissible. I think I was exposed at the soccer match or at the pizza place. It doesn’t really matter. Sunday night I had chills and sweats, no sore throat, no loss of smell, not really any congestion. Today is Monday and I almost feel back to normal.

Mild so far. I’m grateful that I have a place to quarantine away from the rest of the family. I missed going to see Hamilton with everyone yesterday (it would have been the 2nd time). I’m going to test again on Wednesday, then again on Friday. I’m scheduled to fly soon and would like a negative test before I fly. Fingers crossed.

I’ve been extremely careful the past 2+ years… but with the relaxed masking rules and more transmissible variants, I guess it was bound to happen. We’re set up for a 4th wave, just like the Spanish flu. I’m just hoping being vaxxed, boosted and now infected will give me as much protection as possible.

That’s the story of how I got Covid-19 in May 2022.

Range Life

I’m planning to explore central Oregon more in the coming months and took a short overnighter down to the Pine Mountain Observatory east of Bend, Oregon. The past few weeks have been shoulder season weather in the PNW – rain in the valley and snow in the passes. Once you pass the Cascade crest that runs north/south in Oregon, the landscape changes dramatically to open range and a much drier (and browner) environment. If there were cholla sprinkled around I would think I was back in New Mexico.

A friend who grew up in New Mexico, but lived in the Pacific Northwest for a short time told me the thing that bothered him the most about the PNW was he couldn’t match direction to compass – in New Mexico the Sandia mountains are always East, Rio Rancho and the desert is West, Santa Fe north and Socorro South. You can look with your own eyes and know where you were – there’s something to be said about being able to always see the horizon. (“Stand in the place where you are – now face north…” / REM)

Wallace Stegner wrote about the brown landscape of the West. Most people think beauty is lush green forests and waterfalls, but Stegner and even Edward Abbey wrote about the beauty of the arid Western landscape of the US.

One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.

Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water

Maybe the attraction is because the desert is both beautiful and dangerous. It’s a place where life is fragile and has to work harder to thrive. I won’t go into the biblical references to the desert or popular culture references of desert (think Mad Max apocalyptic). Cadillac Desert is a classic book about the history and future of the American West.

The drive from Portland was quick – though when I passed Mt. Hood I was wishing I was climbing high on the mountain in the 60 degree sunshine. I’m sure there was some good climbing and skiing. Once you emerge from the alpine zone and leave the doug firs behind, it’s a quick drive through Warm Springs Indian Reservation and then on to Madras. I’ve always continued to Bend, but Saturday I stayed on Rte. 26 to Prineville, OR. Here the landscape opens up with the Ochoco mountains to the east and the spine of the snow covered Cascade range to the west. Hood, Jefferson, Black Butte, North/Middle/South Sister, Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor – all topped with recent spring snow.

The Observatory is run by the University of Oregon and has maybe 7? telescopes of various sizes. The drive up to the observatory was on a nicely graded gravel road with patches of melting snow. Once I got to the top ~6400 ft in elevation, the north aspects were still snow covered, with the southerly aspects showing a nice forest duff of pine needles. The place had a Flagstaff, AZ vibe, with slightly smaller pine trees.

The campground has about 6 car camping sites with another handful of walk-in tent sites scattered in the forest. With the observatory closed in early season, I had the entire place to myself. The dogs ran around chasing chipmunks and playing in the snow while I got camp set up.

Nighttime lows were below 30 degrees and we suffered overnight. I slept with a hot water nalgene in my sleeping bag and the dogs got as close as they could and we all tried to stay warm. At 1:30am I heard scratching under the truck and realized I left the cashew/pumpkin seed clusters that I was eating in the car in the front seat. I’m pretty sure it was the chipmunks trying to climb up through the engine into the cab to get some snacks. I got out of my bag and put all the foot in the cooler and sealed everything up.

Overall a good first trip to central Oregon to explore. More to come.

The Sisters
We were up early waiting for the sun to rise. Making breakfast at 6am.

Carbon

The IPCC report on climate change was released last week and the takeaway is that we are clearly on track for an unlivable planet. Mass extinction, climate disasters, economic and food security crises have already begun. Is that sobering? Does it make you sit up and pay attention? Scary enough to change behavior? I’m not so sure. Behavior change is a tough nut to crack. Consider Covid mask requirements over the past 3 years – incentivizing the population to take some action for the common good. Take this minor action – wear a mask – to protect your fellow citizens and “flatten the curve” so that we can exit this pandemic. People resisted, it became an argument for individual rights. Masks were referred to as “muzzles” by those whose rights were seemingly being infringed.

I finished Ministry for the Future (Kim Stanley Robinson) yesterday and one thing that stands out to me is that there aren’t (m)any bad actors in the book. There isn’t any evil. A lot of focus on finance (carbon coin) and how incentives can work for Big Oil, but no one deliberately trying to ruin the planet.. only to get rich capitalizing on resource extraction. People are motivated by petty things – the antagonist (if there is one) is apathy. And maybe that’s what we can’t escape when starring down the barrel of climate extinction – apathy. Behavior change is hard.

I won’t want to write a book review, but for a solid “cli-sci” book Ministry of the Future is hard to beat. The solutions and vignettes are creative and eye-opening. I won’t give away one of the major premises of the book – but it involves a heat event not unlike the heat dome we saw in the PNW last June. Temperatures to 47C – people died.

I’ve been on a bender of climate emergency reading lately. The other I recommend is Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson. This is more of a hard science fiction account of geo-engineering to mitigate climate change. Both books are set in the very near future – think 10 years out. Nothing futuristic about the ideas presented in the books.

So what to do? Ride your bike. Buy a heat pump. Go solar. Stop eating meat. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, as the old New England saying goes.

Adapt or die.

Reality Check

How has my combined mileage changed over the years? I did some digging in Strava to find out what my cycling and running mileage has looked like over time. These charts are from the last 10 years. * I can’t believe I’ve been using Strava for 10 years, but that’s another post.

My highest volume training year was 2018 (2nd chart), my lowest was 2012 (3rd chart). The lowest year was most likely because I wasn’t recording all my activities, and I probably wasn’t running very much. I’m not sure about 2018. I would have thought it would have been 2016, when I ran Mountain Lakes 100 and my overall volume was high.

2015 – 2018 were pretty consistent, but I started to fall off the volume in 2019, and nose-dived in 2020. Cloudability had just been acquired acquired and I started going into the office less (no 10 mile round trip bike commute) and less frequent lunch time runs. I think I was just working a lot in 2019 before Covid. I has my last flight to Seattle in March, when Covid started to appear more frequently in the news – I think everything shut down a few weeks later. I can’t believe I was traveling through SeaTac maskless with people coughing all around. Holy shit. I took over leadership of a much larger team in 2019 and was just generally working a lot (remotely). My training volume suffered.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve started riding the smart trainer – only 2 rides so far, but I’m planning to use it to build a base going into the spring. I think I can recapture some of the lost commute miles – even if I only ride 45 minutes per day, that would make up the deficit from 2019 and 2020.

I’m going to proceed cautiously, doing 1 hour rides 3-4 hours / week and then take a functional threshold power (FTP) test in 2 weeks, this will give me a baseline for training. I don’t really want to know max output right now, I just want to get comfortable riding and using the apps (currently Rouvy). Though it was fun cranking up to 300 watts plus just because I wanted to see the number go up.

I rode an hour last night and found it … not bad … I ran a 5 miler this morning and my legs felt the accumulated cycling + running. Tired legs.

To make the charts above, I cut/pasted data from Strava into Google Sheets, then pasted the URL into Google Data Studio, then pulled some levers and turned some dials. I’m not sure if you can extract all your data from Strava – I know you can download .gpx data – but maybe not cumulative reporting data.

Sufferfest

So I bought a smart trainer. I was checking Fedex on the hour to see where it was and yesterday it finally arrived. I’m trying not to go crazy $$ on setup, so I didn’t buy a second cassette to put on the trainer (it’s a Saris H3). I spent last night getting my gravel bike cleaned up and ready to ride indoors. I pulled the cassette off (11spd, 11-32 Ultegra), degreased it and installed it on the trainer. I had the adapters for the through axle backwards and hand tightened as tight as I could — before realizing they were reversed. A minor freak out ensued when I realized I couldn’t fit the cassette removal tool over the through axle. With a lot of pressure exerted while holding the cassette with the chain whip, I reversed my mistake, flipped the adapters and mounted my bike onto the trainer.

After a quick calibration using the Saris app on my phone, the trainer was ready.

A smart trainer can be locked into a specific wattage output (erg mode), or it can match the effort required based on the terrain in a virtual ride. I have a free trail of Rouvy, so I’m starting slowly and plan to do some easy spins this week and next, primarily to break my ass in to riding in place and to get my setup dialed in.

I got up at 5:30 this morning and rode 8 miles.. on the Pacific coast near Malibu 🙂 I’m using an ironing board on which I’ve placed a fan, my iPad and a water bottle. I have my watch set to broadcast heart rate so the Rouvy app picks up HR via Bluetooth. It all seems to work.

A few brief observations.

It doesn’t matter what gear the bike is in, the trainer is measuring watts, so will adapt based on cadence and force on the pedals. I had it the big ring and once I spun the pedals up, I tried to keep effort at 100% or above. Once I lost the cadence though, the watts dropped, and if I got off the pedals, e.g. coasted, the avatar stopped, got off the bike and the app asked if I wanted to end the ride or continue.

The fan was critical, in 30 minutes I was sweating and mopping up with a towel. I had some music playing on my phone, but it would be nice to put some ear buds in and crank up the music.

I now see why people put a tv on the wall in front of their trainers. My eye position looking at the iPad was just off the front wheel, forward and down. I would never look there while riding outside unless something was going under my tires.

I’m looking forward to the burn on the trainer as an alternate to my morning runs. I know everything will complement and contribute to overall beast level fitness. So yeah, I’m stoked to get back in the saddle and hammer.

Plan Accordingly

I’ve been thinking about this the past few days. I never had any expectation of any return to what things were like before, but I guess I hadn’t really internalized the “plan accordingly” part. Funny enough, it’s manifested for me in not being on my bike. I used to commute to an office every day, go running at lunch, participate in meetings, hang out in the work kitchen catching up with people. What I miss the most is that time at the beginning and end of the day, being on my bike – riding hard or easy if I wasn’t feeling it. It was compound fitness. A lot of that time is now replaced with desk time at home.

I was thinking of a club for people who used to commute by bicycle, to meet up in the morning for a short ride, then return to home offices to start the day. I have even considered doing a loop in the morning and ending up at home to shower and get to my first call. Perhaps.

I was just talking to a friend and he said he bought VR goggles and was expounding on riding his smart trainer and lifting. Unsurprisingly, he mentioned he hadn’t left his house in weeks. Strange times indeed.

Plan accordingly. I’m thinking through how to navigate these new times. I’m a fan of healthy habits and I had a lot of them – but circumstances have changed and I need to form new ones.

I think it might be time for some micro-adventures. Maybe some multi-sport bike/run adventures in the neighborhood. 2 weeks ago I grabbed a heavy backpack and hiked 4 miles early in the morning. More creative exploration of healthy habits is what’s needed.

When you lose something, it’s natural to mourn. To sit with the pain and realize THIS is what it means to be human. I don’t know if there will be a general recognition of all the things lost over the past 2 years, but I know it’s healthy to mourn their loss.

There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes to wash the dishes.

Thich Nhat Hanh. RIP.

Day One

Lately my pull has been toward finishing up major projects. I keep a running to-do list in Notes and only add the next 2 or 3 items I need to do. I woke up Sunday and wanted to make a push to get closer to completion on the portico project. When I’m focused on projects, my running miles plummet. I can’t go for a long run, then eat, change and reset to start working. I’m not sure what fitness value I’m getting from being on my feet for 14 hours, moving back and forth between saws, kneeling down to measure, lifting work pieces and nailing over my head. I can tell you I’m exhausted at the end of the day and the next day my body hurts.

Saturday I wrapped the 4×4 posts in cedar. I could have simply boxed them with 1x boards. but I wanted them to appear solid, with no seams. I mitered the corners by cutting a 45 degree bevel, then glued and nailed 2 pieces together forming a symmetrical L, did the same to the other 2 pieces, then placed them around the post, clamped and nailed them together.

I took care to trim the base of the post around the stone – it’s an aesthetic I’ve taken from Japanese construction where the form of the object flows from one medium to another – in this case, cedar post to stone.

I think about the design process as I’m working. I watched a documentary about Philip Glass years ago and he described the creative process as a river that’s always flowing under the surface, and sometimes he’s able to tap into it. I can only say that I, like many designers – see things that don’t yet exist and set about to make them real. Composers must be able to hear the music before the compose.

Sketch I made on the iPad before I excavated the base for the stone wall.

Sunday I set about installing the tongue and groove ceiling. Much of construction is comprised of little tricks you learn as you go and the sequence those tricks are executed. In hindsight, I would have done things in an alternate order – if there’s one trait I have that hinders my work, it’s that I lack patience and move too fast. I miss my long runs, and early ski days, I want to get back to the mountains, but at the same time, I can’t leave projects like this incomplete. So there’s tension. I try to keep in mind that perfection is the enemy of done, and sometimes it’s good to be done.

The most difficult part of this project was the final tongue and groove board at the peak, and cutting the pieces where the light attaches. In these images, there is still a gap at the peak where I’ll cut a piece of trim. I tried to finish this at the end of the day and confidently adjusted my saw to cut a 17 degree bevel on two pieces. When I placed the trim over the gap, I just laughed. It’s not 17 degrees, it’s the opposite. 2 bevel cuts at 163 degrees. I paused for 30 seconds to think through how I could cut 163 degree bevel. The light was fading, I still needed to clean up – it would have to wait for another day.

Remaining to-do:

  • trim at the peaka
  • front placard to cover the fascia peak seam (like my sketch)
  • trim along the front edge. I have 45 degree off cuts from the cedar posts that I’ll use to affix a bevel to the front edge of the fascia. In hindsight, if the tongue and groove was done first, I would have increased the width of the fascia to cover the seam of the tongue and groove. This is what I mean about sequence of events.
  • paint the fascia
  • go skiing (I’m going to try and take a couple of weekends off and get outside to play).
Making up for working outside all day.

Trades

Roofers, drywallers, framers, plumbers, flatwork(concrete), finish carpenters, masons, cabinetmakers, tile setters, electricians. I think that’s it. The trades in order of skills required. I only put electricians at the end because I hate doing electrical work. Mostly from renovating old houses and having to deal with ungrounded wiring, knob and tube, asbestos insulated wiring, etc.. And I would never do a job like replacing an entire panel – too easy to make a mistake and get dead.

This weekend I roofed the portico. It’s not particularly skilled labor but doing it well takes patience. Much of building and construction is about thinking through final measurements and then subtracting to some starting point. With framing completed I had to install fascia and drip edge before asphalt shingles. As an amateur – I posit it takes 5x longer to do something… and sometimes longer if what you did needs to be undone/redone. Luckily I didn’t have to redo anything except the underlayment. It’s been exposed to rain for the past 5 weeks and some water had gotten onto the plywood. We had sunny, warm weather so I pulled off all the underlayment and let things dry out in the sun while I cut and installed the fascia and drip edge. Once the plywood was dry, I cut 3 new pieces of material and stapled it on before starting to shingle.

I tend to over-engineer when doing rough work (framing) and think measurements need to be more precise than need be. On a 4/12 roof pitch, the rafters are about 17 degrees, but where a vertical fascia board meets roof line, dimensional lumber is a little bit too wide. I made some test cuts and put a 17 degree bevel on the fascia with the track saw so that it would tuck right up below roof line. It fit perfectly, but in the end I realized if I leave a 90 degree edge, the space between the edge of the fascia and roofline will make a nice little 17 degree inside corner and fascia will match the roof perfectly. The bevel is unnecessary.

I rented a coil nailer from the local home depot which made quick work of fixing the shingles. I never run my nail guns on auto (holding the trigger and just pressing the tip shoots the nail), but with roofing, it’s way faster to shoot 5-6 quick nails. It’s the sound of working being done. The nail gun firing and the kick of the compressor. Starting with a half shingle and overlapping the drip edge by 1/4 inch, I put a starting border across the more difficult to access side of the roof. The portico roof is 84 inches long and a shingle is 40 inches long. With the overlap required front and back, 2 shingles won’t cover the roof, so I had to split shingles into 3rd’s in order not to leave short runs.

I roofed one side to the ridge, leaving half a shingle overlapping the ridge beam – I wasn’t sure how I was going to connect to the other side, but would decide once I completed the other side. There is a particular nailing pattern provided on the packaging by the manufacturer. It must be related to wind shear and/or water penetration of the shingle. I followed the nailing pattern for all the shingles and brought the other side up to the ridge line. I was able to wrap one side over the other to create a watertight covering over the ridge and then began to cap the ridge.

Common practice is to begin capping the ridge on the opposite side of the prevailing weather, the establishes an overlap of shingles that prevent high winds from lifting a shingle and pulling the roof off the structure. I think this was the most enjoyable part of the project. I cut 12 inch shingles, measuring as to keep a single flexible surface at 6 inches where the shingle would bend over the ridge line. I finished the last shingle on the west side of the roof, shot in 4 nails (the last 4 are exposed as there are no more shingles to overlap) and then caulked over the nail heads with silicon. I’ll check on the silicon in the spring and reapply or get some roofing tar to keep those nails covered.

That’s how to shingle a portico.

Stone wall, recently poured concrete retaining wall. Post and beam construction with 3/4 threaded rod supports across the beams.
Watertight for PNW winters.

To-do’s:

  • wrap the posts in clear cedar
  • cedar tongue and groove on the ceiling
  • paint the fascia to match the house
  • foundation concrete pour (in sections) to repair the foundation wall. I’m looking forward to this because I’m going to try to create a wood pattern with the form.