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A Sprunged Spring

On June 11, 2010, in Adventure, Cycling, Friends, Racing, by Meghan
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Spring has sprunged here in the Sierra Nevada. Be it the weekly waves of zealous lowland wildflowers, Yosemite Valley’s snowmelt floodwaters, or the raspy song of the migrant mountain bluebird above a snow patch at 8,000 feet elevation, the signs are everywhere. It seems that, around here, spring does not occur in moderation and Mother Nature has picked up on the pop culture phrase, “go big or go home.” No matter, the show is spectacular, and I’m a lucky participant.

I, on the other hand, have been practicing the art of physical moderation. This is not in my nature, no. I, too, possess a natural inclination to either go big and run for at least 20 miles or to go home. And, if I go home, I prefer to go straight to my couch to drink wine and eat chocolate. If I can’t or don’t play hard, I will simply do almost, absolutely nothing.

I’m right now in the throes of the world’s most cautious build-up to running and other physical exercise. After my recovery from the Marathon des Sables, I’ve added back a bit of body fat lost in the race, but I’ve been careful to mostly eat well while taking time away from hardy exercise. In fact, I’ve been trying to add back muscle! I can now do decline push-ups off a balance ball, hold a lengthy Chaturanga Dandasana, and do lunges back and forth across my yard all day long. I have work still to do, but my functional strength is building. While I’m doing building strength, I’m keeping a quiet, background running hum going as well. I love this platform I’m creating, and I’m excited to, little by little, raise it over the course of the summer.

Amidst the springing spring of nature and Meghan, Keith from Banff came for a visit over the last week and we did a fair bit of play! Below is a photo gallery our explorations in the Sierra Nevada spring.

Keith and I trot through the Shadow of the Giants 20k (photo by George Velasco).

Keith and I together ran the Shadow of the Giants 20k Fun Run in Fish Camp, about an hour away from my house.

About a mile from the Shadow of the Giants 20k finish line (photo by George Velasco)

In addition to running a mile high through the Sierra National Forest on a beautiful Saturday morning, we spent the remainder of the day visiting with friends and new acquaintances.

On the descent to the South Fork of the Merced River

On another day, Keith and I riked (run-hiked) into the depths of the nearby South Fork of the Merced River foothills canyon. The trail was rife with wildflowers and Poison Oak.

Follow the wildflower road!

Mariposa Lily

In the shade of the canyon bottom, Mariposa Lilies showed off their size and coloring. There’s no scale for comparison in this picture, but this particular blossom was about 3 inches in diameter.

This should really read "Poison Oak Cove."

Hite Cove was a mining village during the foothills’ gold glory days. Today, a more appropriate name could be “Poison Oak Cove.” Luckily, we emerged from the canyon bottom unscathed.

Tenaya Lake is still ice covered!

Then, on another day, we toured the high Sierra by car and bicycle. Because of a big snow year and a cold, still-snowy spring, the high country has clung to winter for a very long time.

Tuolumne Meadows, flooded by snowmelt

Tuolumne Meadows, which looked more like a lake, is the birthplace of the Tuolumne River. This water was SO COLD, probably melted within hours. Spring life was just sprouting, though, in that brown grass, with tiny shoots of greenery.

Keith topped and tapped out at the nearly 10,000 foot Tioga Pass

I'm elated to be on Tioga Pass as well.

Keith and I busted arse on road bikes from the famous Tioga Gas Mart to Tioga Pass and back. I admit that we both almost bailed on this ride. For me, I was pretty out of shape for this physical push: a 12 mile, 3,000 foot gain climb to 10,000 feet above sea level. For Keith, he’d been doing double workouts for days beforehand, and his body was tapped. It was mind over body and we both made it with smiles.

Last year's wildfire equals this year's wildflower show.

Back at the middle elevations of the Sierra Nevada, we visited the Big Meadow Fire zone, a swath of land that burned fiercely last August and September. I knew the wildflower show would be wild, and it was.

Harlequin Lupine

While the wildflower diversity was high, the abundance winner was the Harlequin Lupine.

Yosemite Falls at its 2010 snowmelt peak

Finally, we traveled back to Yosemite Valley, at 4,000 feet elevation, and into the bathtub of the Sierra. The Merced River was about a half foot above flood stage with snowmelt, and Yosemite Falls put on a fine show of her own.

5 Responses to “A Sprunged Spring”

  1. Danni says:

    Those pictures are so so gorgeous. And yay to muscle building! I used to hate all things muscle building but am learning to love it and all the newfound abilities it gives me.

    It's funny when you talk about the tough ride I can hear Keith in my head saying "Meghan? I'm really glad we did that ride even though. . . etc."

    I should come visit you! We can drink wine and eat chocolate and do some leisurely runs and lunges.

  2. sea legs girl says:

    Beautiful, Meghan. I love the excitement in your post of the spring nature growing and your concomitant physical build-up and getting back into shape! Glad to hear things are going well after MDS :).

  3. Gretchen says:

    Oh. So. Pretty!!!

    How awesome! Looks like you guys had a spectacular time.

    Your pictures are making me so excited – I will be in the Valley in just over a week! Wheeeeee! πŸ™‚ I'm thinking a ski approach to climbing Cathedral Peak is in order for next weekend. I'm also thinking that running from the Valley to Tuolumne is out. I don't need that much snow running anymore. Hmmm…. I'm ready to start scoping the map …

    Sounds like you're taking an awesome, balanced approach to things. I like it! I wish I had the discipline to build my strength. Lunges – blech! πŸ™‚

  4. Meghan says:

    Danni- That is TOTALLY how Keith and I talked about it afterward. About 2 miles in, I was all, I CAN'T do this. Then, at about 10 miles in, Keith was all, I'm ready to turn around. Then, when we got to the pass, Keith said, I'm SO glad we did it!" You called it, girl, and yes, you should come visit. We would have a grand time, chocolate, running, and push-ups, here we come!

    Sealegs- I'm glad you visited and commented! It must mean you're not too mad at me! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thanks for your thoughts!

    Gretchen- We're going to visit the high country again today, so the comparison of a week will be a good judge of how things are melting up there. I'll report back. πŸ™‚ There's lots of lower-land running to be done. Half Dome will be open (There's a new permit system for Thursday through Sundays this year, and ALL the permits are already taken. You can go without a permit on Mondays through Wednesdays.), probably anything under 7-8,000 feet will be a good bet. We should figure out how/when to run together (I won't be able to go as long/far as you, but I still want to run/hang out with you and hubby!).

  5. JeffO says:

    Wow! The Harlequin Lupine looks amazing!
    Nice pix!

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