Roda’s Signs of Spring Challenge๐Ÿ€

There is a very short window for spring in Tucson. This week is in the 80Fs already and it is only March 9th. That means it will be too hot (for me anyway) to be hiking at the end of the month. So the hubby and I are out as much as possible right now. Soon there will be rattlesnakes ๐Ÿย and scorpions ๐Ÿฆ‚ย out and about too!

We set out to hike Soldier Trail on nearby Mt. Lemmon. The out and back trail is just under 6 miles, but has some hefty elevation gains. It was rated difficult with an 1800 ft. climb. Eventually, it does crest! And, that is where we recorded our evidence of spring in the desert ๐ŸŒต

New growth on this prickly guy!

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And at the tips of this spiky plant!

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As with Sabino Canyon we found water flowing in Soldier Canyon! Look at that green color near the top of the steam, leading to a series of pools. That color won’t last long.

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The canyon itself is quite deep, and plants grow in any crevice they can find. This one is hanging off the edge.

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We went on our way and saw many examples of foliage that, somehow, thrives in this harsh environment.

 

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Here is an old, craggy life form, hitting a modified tree pose now ๐Ÿ˜œ

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We are heading back to Sabino Canyon this weekend, to the Seven Falls Trail! Hoping to find some bigger waterfalls before they dry up for the season ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿ’•

 

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Standard Route on Mt. Lemmon

Ryan and I first climbed on Mt. Lemmon near the base, at “the wall of the flying scorpions”. This was a single pitch crag and near 1500ft. elevation. We had fun, even though I did split open a couple fingers in the process.

This time we decided to head up near the 4000ft area to a multi pitch climb named “the standard route“. This climb is located on Chimney rock and is only a 200ft climb, divided into 5 pitches. Perfect for me but pretty lame for Ryan!

It was a gorgeous day when we got to the base of the wall.

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Ryan placed his rope and some gear near the base and we “suited up”.

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There was a party of three ahead of us, so we waiting our turn. I watched the two women ahead of us in the hopes of learning the best way to maneuver the route.

Then Ryan lead up to the first anchor.

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There was a big ledge here to sit and wait for our turn on the second pitch.

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The view just keeps getting better!

This is the start of the second, and my least favorite, pitch. This is the chimney, which is just large enough for your body to squeeze into the gap. You can see the last climber in the group ahead of us as she tries to work her way up the rock face.

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Eventually, Ryan and I got up, through and over this pitch. Below is the top of the chimney and the start of my favorite pitch, number 3.

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We waited here for a bit while the other group made their way up.

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Helmet hair!

 

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Ryan was tired of waiting at this point and was ready to head up.

The view from the top of pitch 3.

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After talking with the group ahead of us, we all decided to combing pitches 4 and 5 and went to the top!

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This rock teetering on the spike, was another 1000ft or so above us. Would love to climb in that area!

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The obligatory Summit Selfie!

 

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We waited for our turn to rappel off the top.

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Ryan goes first and I wait for him to yell clear, then I head down. When we are both on the ground, we pull the rope through the anchor.

But the rope did not cooperate this time. Ryan had to climb back up and retrieve it!

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This happens sometimes! Luckily he knew what to do because that rope is $300.00, Yikes!

After a fun climb there is only one thing left to do!

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Happy Hour at Zona78!

Our next climb will be with the whole family!

The Climbing Adventure Continues on Mount Lemmon

Ryan and I have been climbing in the Southern Arizona area, and have been to the Cochise Stronghold area a couple times. We like that area, but it is a two hour drive from our home in the Catalina foothills and makes for a pretty long day. We decided to head over to Mount Lemmon, in the Coronado National Forest, which is only 40 minutes away.

The day was perfect for climbing with the temperature at 73F and no wind. And, since it was a weekday, we would not have too many other climbers to contend with on the wall.

There are many crags here, mostly single pitch climbing, all well bolted with “lower offs” in place.

We chose the “wall of the flying scorpions” because it had several routes, some low enough for me, and most harder, for Ryan to climb.

This is the view from the parking area and our routes are on the far right rock wall.

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We had a bit of a hike to get through the gully and over to the crag. One thing I have learned about hiking in the desert is that the cactus are not the worst offenders. I used to believe that the cacti, with their sharp spines, were the only foliage to be avoided. But the cactus are not the biggest problem! ย The brush and bushes, none of which are the iconic saguaro variety, are the real danger. Look at the spikes on this bush!

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This, and the many large aloe vera plants with their razor sharp leaves, are the real obstacles along the path.

We made our way to the other side of the valley and found the wall.

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These are the easier routes, so just a warm up for Ryan! I made it up this first, 5.8 just fine.

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But, 1/3 of the way up the second wall (5.9) I had a little problem.

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Turns out this rock was a little sharper than I had hoped. As I pulled up on a finger tip hold, I sliced my index finger. It wasn’t too bad, but the blood made the rest of the route a little slippery and I then took a larger piece of my thumb off.

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That was ok because these were the only two routes I was going to attempt on this wall anyway. So I finished off the climb and we moved down the wall to Ryan’s routes, 5.10b, 5.10b/c and a 5.11-.

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Ryan’s routes were longer and obviously harder. At this point I was just belaying him and taking some shots from the base of the wall. A pretty view!

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The view from the base of the wall, looking back on the road leading up Mount Lemmon

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Ryan’s favorite climbing shirt. Last year’s Christmas gift from his sister.

We were not alone at the crag, a few other duos were there working the wall as well. We caught a glimpse of them as we drove away.

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Zooming in on the wall, you can see one of their back packs (circled) where the belayer is standing and the arrow indicates the climber on his way up.

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This must have been how Ryan and I appeared from the other side of the highway.

There are so many other crags to explore on Mount Lemmon and we will be heading back to check them out!

Ryan and Dee Dee’s Excellent Adventure

You may recall that my husband and I decided to buy a second home in Tucson about six months ago. As soon as we told our kids, our son, Ryan, began planning a climbing trip. He wanted to leave Washington the minute his fall semester ended and stay at the new house, which would serve as his base of operations, through the Christmas holiday.

This plan was not practical for Dennis and Alex (our daughter) as they needed to work and was not poplar with Grandma as Ryan and I would not be around for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner! But, this is our first year with the new house and everyone has been gracious in allowing Ryan and I this great opportunity ๐Ÿ™‚

We decided that Ryan and I would be in Tucson until the end of December and then Dennis and Alex will join us so we can all climb for the first week of January. So, Ryan and I had our first foray into Southern Arizona yesterday.

We left the house at 9:30am for the 2 hour drive to the Cochise Stronghold climbing area in the Coronado National Forest. There are over 1000 different routes to choose from. Ryan decided on Euphoria for our first climb. Armed with two guide books and the Mountain project website we began our search for the route.

For any of you that climb or hike, you know that finding the parking area is the first challenge. We turned onto the well marked “primitive road” and began the 10 mile drive toward the general area. ย We were pretty sure we were on the right track when we saw the domes off in the distance.

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About 8 miles into the gravel road we saw this…

 

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How is a school bus making the 16 mile round trip on this road? And where are these kids coming from??

Anyway, we kept going.

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Getting closer!

We had been making good time, up until this point! Somewhere we missed the tiny little sign that indicated the forest road that split off toward the parking area. This cost us an hour as we tried to back track and listen to the disembodied GPS voice telling us to take the private, padlocked road to our destination! Finally, we found it.

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The dome on the far right was where Euphoria lives, and where we needed to hike over toward. This hike would take about an hour, according to the guide books, we managed to get there in 40 minutes.

We now are beginning the climb at almost 1pm! The sun sets at 5:22pm and we were hoping to climb the five pitches (plus the hour hike back) before it was so dark that we needed head lamps, so we had to be efficient!

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Ryan began flaking the rope

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This is the view from the base, lots of trees and rocks!

Ryan lead the first pitch and set the anchor, you might be able to see his yellow jacket at the top of the orange rope.

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I climbed up and Ryan took this shot at the top of pitch one.

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From here it gets colder! The wind picked up big time and we climbed the next four pitches. No pictures there as the focus is now on not dying! Both hands on the rope at all times. As we went higher the cold became a factor as our finger tips and toes were really starting to suffer! Ryan, of course, never fell. I, of course, fell twice!

We finally topped out about three hours after the initial pitch and we were both shivering! Ryan snapped a summit selfie.

I found out later that a “unusual cold front” had moved into the area and would take the temperature into the low 20s. The first frost warning of the season-lucky us!

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It was now pushing 5pm and we had to get back to the car. The hike down was steep and we had all the gear to balance. The sun was going down and we took a few last shots of this beautiful place.

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We did make it back to the car before it was too dark to see without the head lamps. I was rather proud of that!

I am not going to lie, I am bruised and sore today! But we will be back! There are many more routes to explore in this area.

Half Marathon Training, October Wrap Up!

So here it is, November 7th, and I am just now getting around to posting the results of our last half marathon! I have been a little preoccupied with some other things, but now I am ready to get some closure on this, my fourth half!

I am not going to post our training schedule from October because it was a joke! We did not stick to it at all. We started off ok. October 3rd and 5th went as planned.

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I got my 5 miles in amongst the swirling leaves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and October 5th was a gorgeous 4 miles on a sunny day!IMG_0087

That’s when the wheels pretty much came off the bus! We fly to Kauai and had a marvelous time, not running! Well, my hubby did manage a 4 mile run but the humidity and hiking knocked me out! So when we returned on the 12th, it was a tough 5 miles for me!

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Even though the run was hard the weather was stunning! Fall had made it’s way into Seattle while we were gone!

 

 

 

Now it was time to log some serious miles if we wanted to get ready for the half! We did 11 miles around Seward Park on a spectacular day! Mount Rainier was out big time ๐Ÿ™‚

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It was tough! And with only two weeks to the half, I was getting worried!

I did three shorter runs on the 18th, 20th and 22nd, these would be the last in Seattle, and in the rain, before we hit the road for the 24 hour drive to Tucson.

We were trapped in the car until the 25th. This is when everything became real! We had a total of 5 days to get acclimated to the elevation, heat and hills (so many hills!).

I ran 5 miles on the 25th and 4 more on the 27th-just two days to the half!

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I have never felt so unprepared for a half marathon in my life! Training was not where I wanted it to be, I was not acclimated at all and nutrition? Forget about it! But the day came anyway!

Fortunately the organizer brilliantly had the start before sunrise, at 6:30am. The first 8-8.5 miles went really well. I was happy with the temperature and felt pretty good. Then mile 9 hit, like a brick wall! The temperature started to climb and the oxygen felt like it was gone from the atmosphere. My legs turned to lead, as they often do, and I began a strategy of walking up the hills and running the flats and downhills only. Interestingly, I was not that much slower than my worst time. I ran about the same this time as I did for my first half marathon. I did finish, and that was the goal. How did my hubby do? Only off by two minutes from his current PR!! I hate him-no I don’t-yes I do!

We were both happy to have survived! One of the cool things about the medals was that they linked up to make map of Tucson. Do you remember the 10k we ran last month? That is the medal from the 10k race on the right in the picture above. If you finished the half marathon in October, you received the medal on the left, and when you put them together you get a mountain scene. Kinda cool! We have not seen that before. There was a third medal to make the scene even larger, but that was for a 5k back in August and we were in Seattle at that time.

Since it was Sunday we got home, showered and headed out to celebrate our “victories” by watching the SeaHawks Game!

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Everything turned out great, we can still walk and the Hawks won the game! Now I am running to just enjoy it and really haven’t thought about the next race. It will be number 5 for me, so I want it to be a special location. Any suggestions??

Half Marathon Training, September Update

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It’s October! We are running the TMC Get Moving Tucson Half Marathon in about 4 Weeks! We chose this run because we just bought a second home in Tucson and thought it made sense to run in our new community, and it would be a new challenge to run in the desert environment. It does make sense, but we really underestimated how much of a challenge it would be to run in the heat, at elevation (Tucson in 2200 ft) and the hills! Oh my, the hills! But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s take the month in order!

This was the plan for September.

September 2017
Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3
Run 8
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Run 5 Run 4 Run 9
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Run 5 Run 4 Run 9 10k fun run
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Run 6 Run5 Run10
25 26 27 28 29 30
Run 6 Run5 Run10

The first part of September went as scheduled, we ran our 8, 5, 4 and 9 miles here in Washington and they went quite well.

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The weather was mild and the temperatures were perfect in Seattle.

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After this 9 mile run we flew to Tucson to start setting up the house and train in the new environment. What a culture shock! 98F, hills, less oxygen at elevation and this:

 

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Running was hard. We had to start right at sunrise to avoid the high temps, which was gorgeous, and still 70F!

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We signed up for a local 10K to get a feel for what it would be like to run a race in Tucson. Bottom line: It was tough! 80F at the 7am start, and 400 feet of elevation gain! I was happy just to survive! Here is my Instagram post that day.

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I ran another 6 and 5 miles and my hubby did what he could, as he was working remotely during the whole trip in Tucson, and then we flew back to Washington for the 10 mile runs on 9/23 and 9/30. This gave me a total of 89.33 miles for the month.

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Now we are heading into the home stretch and our schedule for October.

October 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Run 4 Run 5 Run 11
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Run 5 Run 4 Run 12
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Run5 Run4 Run6
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Run 4-5 Run 4-5 Carb load 13.1
30 31

The tricky part here will be running while we are in Kauai from 10/6 to 10/11. We are not sure how many times or how far we will be able to run while away, but we will try to be ready for the half marathon on the 29th. Again, the goal will be to survive! No PR or crazy goals with this one!

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Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 6

This is the last desert critter that I have to post. I admit it has been easy to spot these guys in the hot, bright environment. We have been back in Redmond for two days and I have not seen quite as much wildlife. It is cooler and darker here, I hope I will be able to catch a glimpse of something in the garden!

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Our very first night in our new home in Tucson was rather eventful. The home was vacated by the previous owners about one month before we could get there to take possession. We didn’t consider this to be a problem until we realized that there was also 4 weeks of no pest control and the house was devoid of furniture or movement which usually deters pests. Additionally, we had no beds so we would be sleeping on the floor while we waited for those to arrive. I was taking a shower that evening when I heard my husband shout out “we have a scorpion in the bedroom!” I hopped out fast and saw the little moving critter by the baseboard a few feet from where we were planning on sleeping. My hubby jumped into action and whacked it with his flip flop, killing it instantly! All we had to gather it up with was a paper plate.

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This turned out to be one of three that my husband had to “take care of”, but after that we did not see anymore in the house. Just the tarantulas!