Idaho Falls to Jackson Hole, WY

So before I get into the thick of it, a huge congratulations to my friends Nichole Sellon and Adam Lint for their great performances at the very competitive Miwok 100k last Saturday.  They both kicked #&*$  (6th women and 5th men) in this tough race in the Marin Headlands of California. Nice job!

Short version: I made it to Wyoming. All of the pictures are in my picasa album.

Long version: Successive long days are coming more naturally. I ran upright out of Idaho falls. I met two nice runners and talked briefly with them on the bridge over the falls. During my run to date, I have seen less than ten other runners and that was mostly Portland.

Yep – those are the falls

Eventually everything became farms again and gently rolling fields irrigated by giant circular sprinklers on beefy tires. I could write a book about those sprinklers. I’ll spare you.

There are also some pretty cool farm trucks in Idaho

My goal was to camp in a arbitrary field after 32 miles so that the next day would be another 32 miles before getting picked up in Victor, ID. I had already studied the satellite images on Google and there didn’t seem to be any great place to camp. So be it. I carried some extra water for the night and into the next day.

Overall, the run went pretty well with good weather and good tunes. Ignorance was bliss and by covering up the odometer with a piece of opaque tape and not wearing a watch, I lost track of space and time to a positive advantage.

Around mile 20 (I looked)  the landscape started changing with more trees and a canyon leading to the South Fork of the Snake River. It was exciting to have real 3d after hundreds of miles of mostly flatness and there is something beautiful about wild trees and things in the horizon that were more like mountains than hills. Not just mountains, but the Tetons.

But by mile 26 or so the road had moved away from the river and was just rolling fields again. They were pretty in their own way but what caught my attention were ugly clouds on a nearby hill that had started drifting toward me.

The darkness arrived and really all hell suddenly broke loose. As it started coming down I threw on my hard shell top. While reaching for my full zip bottoms, I had a memory of one of the zippers coming completely off the track a couple days prior. Why hadn’t I tried to fix them? Stupid! If you can’t put on one leg, what is the use? I tried to get the zipper back on track as the skies opened up. Cars were pulling onto the shoulder and stopping because it was coming down so hard. The rain stung the back of my hands and in the middle of it all a trooper pulled up and asked me if I was ok. So much fun. I told him I was not happy with my rain pants but was otherwise just fine, thanks really, and then I just started walking.

After a mile or so it lightened up but my  running pants were soaked and I was freezing. That was all forgotten with what came next…

I suddenly know where I will camp

A few miles later I was done with 33m on the odometer. No sight of the gold at the end of the rainbow, but rather I slid down an embankment during a rare drop in the landscape where I would be out of sight from passing cars or farm houses. As soon as I got things setup I dove inside, changed into dry base layers, slid into my down bag, and then sleep found me.

Light snow the next morning

Cinco de Mayo. Saturday morning. After rolling up a wet tent covered in slush my fingers were numb for a long time. Too warm them up, I was doing rhythmic fist clenches with alternate hands. Passing cars seemed to give me lots of extra space.

The foothills were covered in clouds and snow the next morn

Interesting graffiti if you enlarge

The hawks were the best reality tv.

I covered the 12 miles into Swan Valley without a problem and was happy to see the mountains return. At a convenience store I dawdled and asked if they could recharge my phone for a few minutes. I had passed out the night before without shutting down on the running apps on the phone. With a little juice,  I called Cate Stillman who had graciously agreed to pick me up in Victor and host me for the night about 8 miles away in Tetonia.

Talk about degrees of separation and generosity! Cate is the sister of my friend Kathleen Hurley’s friend Sarah Gillbert.  Cate teaches and practices  yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. And her sister Sarah has done the maps for Mike Erehdt who ran across America for wounded and fallen veterans in 2010. During that run, Mike placed an American flag on the ground every mile (!) and he is is planning a north south traverse this summer. Wow.  On the phone, I told Cate about the battery situation, worries about signal strength over the pass, and asked if they could just come find me on the highway if they didn’t hear from me by 5:30pm. No problem. 
And I was off. It was actually a joy to climb something and see snow and be in the mountains again. It briefly hailed and a little later Jeannette McGrath stopped and said she had crossed the country on horseback with her husband. It took them two years and they did it with barefoot trimming methods for their horses.  Wow. Now that is a unique club.

The pass was around mile 30 and a little over 6,000 feet.  I celebrated with a beer and some cheese and crackers. With some good music on my portable speaker, and well fueled by my snack, I started bombing down the other side and was quickly stopped short by Cate’s husband Winston who graciously said he would be happy to meet me in an hour in Victor. 36.44m on the odometer.

Dinner that night was a localvores delight with lamb from the valley, gently heated raw tomato soup and foraged and local greens. Cate, super cute 4 year old Indigo, furry formerly feral female feline ‘Cowboy’,  and patriarch Winston were incredible. Both Care and Winston are avid back country skiiers and mountain bikers. Daughter Indigo is already downhill skiing on her own and also serves a good cup of play tea. Their home is a lovingly restored farmhouse furnished with found and reclaimed objects. An extension is build with  straw bale construction  along with radiant heating and too many nice touches to mention. I’ve only been in a couple straw bale structures in my life and it did not dissapoint with solid walls, warmth, and amazing organic curves. Outside, a yoga studio, a hot tub, and ~280 degree views of mountains including the grand tetons. I could go on! (hint – house sitter available here…) There are more pics in my picasa album.

Cate, Indigo, and Winston and some really good food. 
Not one, but four packages were waiting for me, the most important was my third pair of shoes. I had after 12 or 359 miles, but with this second pair I had pushed the limits at 527 miles. While leaving Idaho Falls the day before my right heel completely shredded off.  My new goal is to replace shoes every 12-14 days. Thank you Fleet Feet of Seattle for giving me pairs 2 and 3 for free!
Old  and new

Sunday morning Winston drove me back to where he picked me up in Victor. It had been a lazy morning. The Valley and the house were beautiful. The weather perfect. In front of the market in Victor, I ran into three ultra runners who are pretty bad ass. Each has different plans this summer including running two 100 milers, running from Chicago to LA, and running across Idaho.Way to go big! Of course I lost the card with their names. Meeting them started reinforcing my impression that this is one very outdoor oriented mountain community.

Badass runners

The road up to the pass was super scenic but it was busy and the shoulder was sometimes only a foot wide with a steep drop-off of loose gravel. It wasn’t very fun. An officer pulled me over (second of the day actually and sixth of the trip) and told me I was on the wrong side in his opinion and that most of the drivers were enthralled with the scenery and not paying much attention. So noted. Later I would see some taking pictures with their smart phones while driving.

Something to jump for
So much snow, lots of back country ski tracks. No snow on the road though!
Going down the pass, I wanted to attach skis and hit the slopes.
The ten miles down included a lot of steep grades, emergency brake run-outs, and incredible views. I bounced between different shoulders depending on how sharp the switchbacks were – the jogger pulled me and I did my best to use the cheesy brake without making the front tire skid. People on the Jackson side leave a car in a lower lot, drive up to the pass, and then ski or bike down. What great access! My mileage for the day was a little over 25. Lots of stops and pics!
How about a Baby Jogger II turnout?

Feeling good at the pass

The Grand Tetons. These cattle dine with a view.

Jackson Hole – my view heading down

The Snake River and Tetons, coming into Jackson Hole
Today has been a rest day in beautiful Jackson Hole, WY. The weather has been perfect and this is a mountain town I could truly fall in love with. Thanks to Carri Wullner for showing me around – we ran into each other on the side of the highway outside Jackson. Carri used to board for Burton, is an endurance mountain bike rider, placing competiviely in 24 hour races  and a lot of experience working with the outdoor gear industry. Best of luck in your 12 hr race this weekend! 

In Town Square with Carri Wullner

And a huge thanks to Sam Bixby for spreading the word to her peeps via FB which I know resulted in a lot of honks and thumbs up from cars on Teton Pass – not to mention a free room at the very nice Jackson Hole Lodge.

Tomorrow I am heading north, running 38m past the Grand Teton. On Wednesday, I’ll climb a pass and head east into ~90+ miles of Wyoming wilderness. Somewhere in there I will cross the continental divide, a 9k foot pass, and probably start talking to myself too much. I know very little about this route and have been discovering that while Google Maps may be good at large urban areas, it misses lots of little gas stations, camp grounds, and other important locales in rural areas. If you know of anything/anyone along my route in WY, please let me know. My cell coverage may be spotty and emails or texts would probably be better than facebook messages as the date network is often pretty crappy (can you hear me now AT&T?). Contact info is on my ‘about page‘. Thanks and I hope you have a great Tuesday! I’ll be running in the sun past the Grand Tetons!

Jackson Hole, WY

The ~numbers
Miles covered since last update: 96.84
Running days since last update: 3
Total mileage since start: 947.55
Total days since start: 33
Total rest days: 2
Number of days thinking about food: 33
Average mileage including rest days: 947/33 = 28.69
Average mileage only running days: 947/31 = 30.54
Distance to go: A lot. Maybe 25% done?

11 thoughts on “Into Wyoming

    1. Thanks Bjorn for letting me know – I just found your 2007 blog and your notes will be very helpful for the rest of Wyoming – if not further. I’m not looking forward to ‘Death Highway’ between Shoshoni and Casper! Best of luck with your running, you are an inspiration!

  1. Dear Seth, I’d like to cordially invite you to run through my town of Sanford, FLA. Sanford is a wonderful community full of friendly people and we love guys like you! Don’t believe the hype in the media. Your visit will help everyone re-discover how safe and accomodating Sanford is for guys like you. you know, endurance runners. I really hope you come Seth, we need your kind around here.
    George Zimmerman

  2. Hi Seth,

    Randomly came across your blog today – I’m the City Planner in Victor. I wanted to let you know that one of the projects the city is working on is a 10′ paved pathway over Teton Pass. (Wyoming is working on this as well since the majority of the route is on the WY side of the border.) Check back in a few years – the run over the pass should be much safer by then!

Feedback welcome

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