Tag Archives: Vibram Fivefingers

Hiking Bandera Mountain

19 Aug

On Saturday we hiked up Bandera Mountain with Mike. It took maybe 2.5 hours to get to the peak going at a fairly easy pace.

I hadn’t been on a hike since Year 9 when we went bushwalking at Marshmead so I wasn’t really sure what to prepare for. I wore my Vibrams but packed runners just in case. I figured that even if neither of them were ideal they’d get me through, and if I enjoyed hiking enough I might pick up some proper shoes. The Vibrams were great for scrambling up boulders – a not insignificant portion of the day – and they were so light that I pretty much forgot I was wearing them.

I imagined the hike as mainly horizontal but we ended up climbing 2.6k (I think) feet and ended up at 5k feet above sea level. It started out on a slight incline but then it got a fair bit steeper and a lot of it looked like this.

I didn’t get any photos of the best part – imagine that photo above but with big rocks instead of grass. We had to use our arms and legs to hoist ourselves up, and it got to the point that we weren’t entirely sure whether we had wandered off the trail. But eventually we found it again and all was well.

You can just barely make out Mike’s hiking poles in this photo. We saw a lot of other people with them. I’m still not sure what purpose they serve – they seemed like more hindrance than help when we were climbing up rocks, and even during normal walking surely any extra stability they provide is cancelled out by the annoyance of having to hold them. Mike did try walking without them at one point and said it was more difficult, so there you go.

There were lots of berries growing along the side of the trail. James kept calling them poisonberries and telling me to eat them, so I did, and then he looked terrified. But it turned out they were blueberries – just smaller, sourer and less blue than you see at the store. According to Mike some people bring containers and stock up on them.

This was a lake that we saw on the way up (and behind it is another, smaller lake). The lake is the end of another, easier hike that forked off from our hike. And yes the water was that dark in real life.

It was really warm in the sun. It had been around 30C ever since late morning and after we got out of the forest there wasn’t a lot of shade to be had. Standing here I had great hiker’s remorse!

The peak was a little underwhelming, especially compared to the gorgeous lake. The peak of Mount Bandera was a small clearing with a few trees and rocks, and we only realised we were at the top because there was nowhere else to go. While we were eating lunch a few other people arrived, walked around in mild confusion and were like “is this the end?”

James made the most of it though. You can see Mount Rainier under his armpit.

Also in our hiking noobness we ended up packing too much food (sandwiches, muesli snacks, trail mix and banana bread) and not enough water. James and I took maybe 2 litres of water between us and really should have taken 4 litres. We ran out of water a little bit after the peak.

The walk down was a bitch. James and I both found that we couldn’t rely on our leg strength and cardio like we could on the ascent, and it was slightly harder on the knees. We all slipped a lot more on the sandy path which was pretty scary when there were giant rocks on the way down. It was at this point that I started to regret the Vibrams. Going down at a constant angle kept jamming the webbing of my toes against the material, and my soles must have been tired because I could feel all the little sharp stones on the path in a way that I didn’t on the ascent.

By the end of the trail I was walking really gingerly to try and avoid the stones. It didn’t seem worth it changing into my runners since we were nearly done and I didn’t want my filthy feet to mess up my other shoes.

How filthy were my feet? This filthy.

The rest of me was pretty gross as well. I kept wiping my dusty hands on my pants, scooting down boulders made my butt dirty, and my sweaty, sunscreeny skin had trapped all the dust we kicked up.

So anyway that was our first hike in Washington. Apparently the guidebook had rated it as 3/5 for scenicness and 4/5 for difficulty. James and I both enjoyed the ascent but thought it was annoying going back down, especially since we were just retracing our steps.

Also today I found that I’d been bitten by some mozzies (oh and Americans don’t say “mozzies” and they don’t say “sunnies” – they are inefficient and say the whole word). But yeah, overall it was fun and if we go again I’ll definitely pick up some hiking shoes and carry my own backpack so we can pack more water.


Run Melbourne 2011

19 Jul

On Sunday James did the 10k race at Run Melbourne. It was his first race so he was quite nervous.

We got there in the morning with plenty of time to spare. James was wearing all his favourite exercise gear, and also his trusty Vibram Bikilas (with the timing tag attached to them).

We met up with Chris before the race, though he was starting in a slightly later wave so they didn’t get to run off together. I lost James in the crowd at the start so I didn’t get any good photos of him there.

This was the course he ran:

image from Run Melbourne

See those hairpin sections between the 4km and 6km marker and also around the 7km marker? They look fairly wide apart on the map, but James said they were just going up and down different sides of the road, and he saw a couple of people cheat and just skip those sections, essentially turning it into an 8km race for themselves.

I imagine there were officials watching those sections for the elite runners, and they don’t really care about the casual runners, cos anyone who cheats is really just cheating themselves. Weird that anyone would do it though.

James said the most exciting part of the race was the start, where everyone was running together. Because it was his first race he chose a reasonably conservative wave to start in (runners with an estimated time of 50-55 minutes) so he lost a bit of time overtaking a bunch of slower runners at the start.

He said the worst parts were the bottleneck sections where only two people could run side by side, so he’d get stuck behind some slow couple. Those sections weren’t very long, but he said it was annoying when it happened.

He also got elbowed by some old guy. Then later the old guy overtook him, but couldn’t sustain the pace, so James re-overtook him and never saw him again.

This is James about 10 metres from the finish line.

And at the end of the race.

And his medal! =)

James was pleased because he beat his goal time. He wanted to run it in under 50 minutes since he didn’t have time to train properly for the event, though obviously he has good base fitness. Results came out today and it turned out he ran it in 48.08 minutes, so he actually smashed his goal (also wow … Dave Hughes ran it in under 40 minutes).

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical as to the benefits of doing Run Melbourne – I was all like “err, can’t you run for free?”, but the atmosphere was great. Everyone was really pumped, and also there were more compression tights than I’ve ever seen in my life.

We milled around for a bit afterwards, gathering free stuff (drinks, muesli  bars, Nando vouchers, rice cakes, etc) and trying to see if we could find Chris. But it was really busy at the finish line, so we went home and bought some ibuprofen in case James’ feet hurt tomorrow, and had burgers for lunch. =)